Mascarpone Bliss!

My latest dessert endeavors!
This is a Lavender Blackberry and Raspberry tart! I made the tart dough (no-roll tart dough, how awesome is that?) with almond flour and ground lavender (along with sugar, butter, and an egg yolk) and spread the baked crust with strained, heated raspberry preserves. The filling is mascarpone, heavy cream, orange zest, almond extract, and sugar. Then I arranged the berries on top. It's heavenly.

This is my first Tiramisu. I was surprised at the simplicity of it, but not disappointed. I love mascarpone cheese! I do not, however, love people who pronounce it as though there were an "r" after the first "a" instead of an "s." What is it with those people? Probably the same people who say "nuk-le-ar." It was such a joy trying to locate it in the grocery store, as I am apparently the only person in Florida who understands that it is said they way it is spelled. Sheesh!


Job at Crema

So I've accepted a job as a barista at Crema, this amazing espresso bar and bakery in Pensacola. I had no idea I'd find a place like this, it's an original building from the 1940's. They use the original ovens! They roast their own coffee beans, they bake their pastries from scratch, and the don't use any hydrogenated oils or HFCS in anything! I love this place! The building is gorgeous inside. Antique chandeliers and Italian tile floors... the owners are a husband and wife from San Francisco, they've done such a great job with this place. I'm really genuinely excited to start working for them. They seem like really sweet people. I start on Monday.

Today I got this adorable apron at Cost Plus! I love it, and it was on sale for $10.00, which I always like. I don't have to wear a uniform of any sort, so I can wear whatever apron I want, which is cool. I had to call Starbucks and tell them I wasn't going to start on Monday, and I felt a little bad about it, but this place is much more what I was looking for, and the hours are perfect! Monday-Friday 0600-1400. Hooray!
(another added bonus of Crema is that I don't have to cover up my tattoo like I would have to at Starbucks, which I think is ridiculous!)


Lemon Cupcakes!

Tonight I made lemon poppy seed cupcakes with lemon butter cream frosting, completely from scratch!
They are divine, and so simple to make! Prep took me all of 20 minutes, and with baking time included the whole shebang was done in less than an hour!


So tonight I made a roasted pork loin with potatoes and lemons. I love roasting citrus fruit, it turns out so sweet and delicious. I can't wait to get my hands on some Meyer lemons...yum. On the side I made some sauteed Brussels Sprouts with olive oil, pancetta and garlic.
Bon appetit indeed!


New (age?) chocolate

Today at the store a cute little chocolate bar caught my eye. NewTree Tranquility, a milk chocolate bar with lime flower and lavender. Did I buy it? Of course I did.

It is everything you'd expect from the Belgians. Smooth, creamy chocolate. The lime flower and lavender are very much there, and quite fragrant, but they blend and melt seamlessly with the chocolate.

NewTree makes other varieties, with kitschy one word monikers such as "Rejoice," "Sexy," and "Blush."
Pretentious names aside, I'm looking forward to trying these out. Chocolate, I believe is good for the soul.



I mean pies and tarts, of course.

Highly recommended: Lemon Lemon Loaf (page 41) Banana Espresso Chocolate Muffins (page 32) Sweet and Salty Cake (page 67) and the Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts (page 109.)

Mmmm Cake!

I believe that few things are needed to make a kitchen beautiful aside from potted rosemary and lavender.

Also, I've decided that gone are the days of boxed cake mix. Sure, they're convenient... but what am I doing that justifies baking shortcuts?

Here we have a chocolate and lavender layer cake. It is, indeed, just as delicious as it appears to be.

I also made some delicious Chai Tea cupcakes with cardamom cream cheese frosting. These just may be my signature baked good.

These are vanilla lavender cupcakes sprinkled with cinnamon and lavender flowers. I dyed the vanilla butter cream frosting violet with some blue and pink gel food coloring.

I also wanted to throw in some pictures of Maggie sleeping in adorable positions because, let's be honest, who doesn't love sleeping puppies?


Oh the pitter patter of little paws

So housebreaking is mind numbing! I love her though, and I'll never get frustrated to the point of being angry with her (at least not that I can foresee.)

So far she's caught on wonderfully to the idea of going potty outside. It's just the going potty inside that we need to work on.

Potty pads are, by the way, not for potty at all. They are toys! Ahh!


The Most Important Meal of the Day!

So I've been in the states for about 6 weeks now, and since leaving Germany I had just about kicked my coffee habit. Just about.

I finally caved and purchased a coffee maker. A Hamilton Beach 6 cup Brew Station, to be exact.

I'm happy with it! There isn't a pot to clean out, and anything that cuts down on my dish load is, in my opinion, a good thing. I bought some Starbucks Colombian coffee, and now I love my mornings even more!

I also bought creamer! I'm normally a black coffee with sugar kind of gal (just like my dad) but I saw this Coffee Mate Parisian Almond Cream coffee creamer... and seriously... you could call anything "almond cream" and I'd probably buy and consume it.

It is divine. I like the refrigerated liquid as opposed to that shelf stable powder stuff.

This morning, Ricky told me about 3 times how hungry he was. So, I made brunch. I made bacon, eggs, and the best French Toast I've ever made. I didn't get a picture, sadly, as he ate it that quickly! Here's the batter recipe.

4 eggs
2/3 cup skim milk
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 sugar
3/4 tsp. good vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Whisk it all together, and I used thick Texas toast. I got about 7 pieces out of this recipe. Garnish with confectioner's sugar and some good quality maple syrup and, if you're in the mood, fresh blueberries.

Ricky won't be hungry again until supper.


So about The Weight of Heaven...

I loved it, don't get me wrong. But goodness gracious, it was probably one of the saddest novels I've ever read. I felt so close to those characters. I honestly felt like I knew these two, Ellie and Frank. The ending brought me to tears, I almost put the book down because I didn't want it to happen. Amazing, though. It's so great that there is still literature out there that can engulf you like that, it really is a beautiful thing.

This book is not for the faint of heart. I do, however, recommend it.

I'm still reading Sea of Poppies. I finished The Weight of Heaven in about 9 days, but this one is taking forever! It moves a lot slower, and I have so much going on with the house. I really need to keep going with it though. I find that the longer I wait in between readings, the more apt I am to forget what I read before. Hopefully it picks up. It's also written in a way that I find unappealing. It doesn't let me see the story... I think great literature should speak to you, rather than let you read it. To put it in American author terms, Sea of Poppies is too Hemingway and not enough Steinbeck, ya dig?


Maggie May!

This is Maggie May! Ricky surprised me with her the day after I met her in the pet store. I love her!

Regrettably, our sweet Maggie was born with Blue Monster Foot Syndrome...

...and Pirate Eye...

...and Wonky Ear, but we love her anyway.

This was the day Ricky brought her home! She loves kisses.

She loves naps, too.

However, she hates baths.
They make her very sad.