Sunday, July 31, 2011

Peach and Blueberry Crostata

This week my friend Jenny gave me two new cookbooks! The first one being "Best of the Best- the best recipes from the best 25 cookbooks this year!- from the Editors of Food and Wine" Now let me just say that this cookbook rocks. I love the fact that it is the top recipes of the best cookbooks, they all look amazing. Recently I had watched Julie and Julia and it made me want to start cooking out of a good cookbook, so what a great gift right!!! The second cookbook was just as fabulous- " The Essential Fingerfood Cookbook- by Bay Books" I am looking forward to making lots of yummy new things very soon. I actually decided to make something already this weekend, a Peach and Blueberry Crostata from Tyler Florence. Now I followed the majority of the recipe, but was not really in the mood to make my own crust- I know it is simple, but this was after spending all day making cupcakes and cakes, so I was feeling a little lazy! ;) So I decided to try a premade pie crust to see how that would work out, I brushed it with egg and sprinkled the sugar as he does on his crust, so I followed some directions! ha! Now I will say after trying it, I do suggest eating it warm with some vanilla ice cream. I also think if I were to make it again, I may try to put a layer of custard between the fruit and the crust!! :) Enjoy-



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed


  • 4 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour


  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
To make the pastry: combine the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and pour in the ice water; work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To make the filling: combine the peaches, blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, and flour in a large mixing bowl. Toss the mixture gently to coat the fruit.
Prepare your wooden burning brick oven according to manufacturer's directions or place a pizza stone in a conventional oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Sprinkle the counter and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll the dough out into a 14-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick; it doesn't have to be perfect, free-form is the look you want for this rustic tart. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured pizza paddle. Spoon the fruit mixture into the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around; brush the border with the egg wash. Lift the edge of crust over the filling, leaving the fruit exposed in center. Gently fold and pinch the dough to seal any cracks. Brush the crust with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the crostata directly on the brick oven floor towards the front or on the preheated pizza stone for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbly and tender. Slide a pizza paddle under the tart to remove it from the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

Kristen's Wedding Shower Cupcakes!

This past Saturday was my very good friend, Kristen's wedding shower. I met Kristen when I first moved to Charlotte about ten years ago. She has been a wonderful friend and so glad to have her in my life. I was thrilled when she got engaged and immediately wanted to be in charge of the desserts for the shower! Kristen is a total sweets person, as am I and her favorites are carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and white cake with chocolate frosting! I was very excited to make something special for her special day! Not that long ago I had made her a birthday cake with Chocolate Frosting and I must say it is one of the best recipes I have found thus far and super easy!
Chocolate Frosting Recipe- Tasty Kitchen- Pioneer Woman
2 and a half cups of powdered sugar- I only used 2 cups
2 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder- I used DARK cocoa powder
1/2 stick of butter, softened
2 tablespoons of milk- I used fat free
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 pinch of salt- I did not do this.
This recipe had to be doubled to pipe 12 cupcakes and ice one 9inch round- I also added in about a teaspoon of whipping cream to make it fluffy.
Mix the sugar and cocoa, add in the butter, then the milk and vanilla until combined.

For the carrot cupcakes, I did a cream cheese frosting from the Food Network Site. I had used this recipe before, but this time doubled the amount of cream cheese and it was fantastic!

Cream Cheese Recipe- Food Network


  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract

I realized I did not really take any shots of the carrot cupcakes other than the shot on the dessert table, but they were really delish! I must admit, my table was only a fraction of the food that was there! Kristen's sister and mom made so much food, it was like being in food heaven;)

So overall it was a great day! Kristen got lots of good gifts, we stuffed our faces and celebrated her engagement! You could not have asked for a better afternoon:)
Oh and on a side note, I also made the little lollipop sticks in the cupcakes! They were super cute and held on the stick with stickers saying "LOVE" or with her new initial to be "S". They added just the right amount of fun to the table!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PRP Wine Night with Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

Several months ago, I came across a great deal on Living Social for PRP Wine to come out and do an in home wine tasting for you and 10 friends. Being that all my girl friends love to drink wine and get together, catch up and eat yummy food, I had to purchase it! About a week or so ago, we finally set it up! There were about 10 of us and we decided to have it at my friend Claire's house since she has a great little screened in porch and a pool in her backyard, figured why not make the most of the night! Everyone either brought an extra bottle of wine(as we had to order anything we liked from the vendor to be delivered) and then a few others brought some apps. Of course I was all over making dessert and since this was in the middle of the heat wave here in Charlotte, I wanted to do something light.....Lemon Butter Cream Icing a top raspberry swirled cupcakes! DELISH!
I recently came across this raspberry flavored gel that looked quite interesting, so I figured why not. I made the batter and then in a small bowl added in half of it so that I could add in the gel. It actually was very flavorful for a gel.
Once I added in the the raspberry frosting I swirled it around with a toothpick.

I must say, they came out really tasty for something I was really not sure about. I would use it again, in fact I bought it in mint flavor as well and plan to try that in brownies! I used the same Lemon Butter Cream Frosting recipe that I had for my friend Heather's Birthday cake and it came out excellent, again;)!
So over all the night was awesome, our wine host was great, the wines we tasted rocked and all the food was delish. It was a great girls night and I would recommend checking out the PRP site if you think it might be something you and your friends would enjoy- well worth it! I am actually anxiously awaiting the wine I ordered and can't wait to have a glass!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chocolate Chunk, Heath Bar and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week was one of my co-workers anniversary! I knew that I was going to be meeting her for the first time in person and we were going out to lunch, so what better way to introduce myself with a sweet treat for after lunch! She had mentioned how much her husband loves sweets, as do I! Cookies are one of my favs and I wanted to really sweeten up a basic chocolate chip cookie, so I added in heath bar pieces, dark chocolate chips and chocolate chunks I had left over from the ganache I made last week!! DELISH! Oh and of course my cookies are not complete without a little of sea salt sprinkled on top! Recipe Below! Enjoy-
Highly adapted from Hershey's!

1- 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 eggs1
I then added in about 1 cup of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Chips, about 1 cup of Heath Bar English Toffee Bits and about 3/4 cup of Hershey's Chocolate Chunks

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
2. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beat well. Gradually add in flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chips/bits.
3. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8- 10 mins ( I did only 8 and they turned out perfect- for my liking that is- crispy edges and chewy center) Cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Farmers Market's around Charlotte

Thanks to here is a fabulous listing of Farmers Market's around town! If you know of others missing, let them know by visiting the site! I actually checked out Atherton Market last weekend and they had lots of fresh breads, fruits veggies, pasta, seafood, honey and cheeses! It was great! Enjoy-

Newell Farmers MarketUniversity Area at 1704 Rocky River Road, Charlotte, NC
Tuesdays, 2pm to 6pm
Saturdays, 8am to 2pm
Center City Green Market
May 6 – September 3, 2011
The Square – Intersection of Trade and Tryon, Uptown Charlotte
Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 – 2:00
Saturdays, 9am to 1pm
Piedmont Farmers Markets
Harrisburg location – 6960 Robinson Church Rd.
Mondays, 5pm to 7pm
The Winecoff Market – 518 Winecoff School Road, Concord, NC
Tuesdays, 3pm to 6pm (seasonal hours) & Saturdays, 8pm to 12pm
NCRC Market
518 Winecoff School Rd., Concord, NC 28027
Thursdays, 3pm to 6pm (2011)
The Downtown Market
24 Market Street, Concord, NC  28027
Wednesdays, 11am to 1pm
Wallace Community Tailgate Market
11202 Harris (Eastfield) Road, Charlotte/Huntersville, NC 28078
(in field next to NOMAD Fitness)
Thursdays, 9am to 12pm
Atherton Mill and Market
2104 South Boulevard Charlotte, NC 28203
features a mix of retailers, restaurants, and a locally sourced farmer’s market.
Tuesday- 3pm – 7pm
Wednesday- 9am – 1pm
Saturday – 9am – 2pm
Charlotte Farmers Market – open year round
1801 Yorkmont Road
Tuesday through Saturday – 8am to 6pm (March through September)
Sundays – 12:30pm to 6pm
(May through August)

Tuesday through Saturday – 8am to 5pm
(October through February)

CRAFT BARN: (Saturdays Only)
8am to 2pm – March through December
Pineville’s Downtown Farmers Market
300 Main Street, Pineville, NC  28134
300 Main Street (Parking Lot of the Pineville Police Department)
Tuesday & Thursday 3pm-7pm
Saturday 8am-1pm

Matthew’s Community Farmers Market
188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC  28105
Saturdays (through November), 7:15am to 12pm
Wednesdays (May 25 – July), 10am to 12pm
Winter Market (December – March) – Saturdays, 8am to 10am
Mount Holly Farmers Market
130 South Main Street, Mt. Holly, NC  28120
Saturdays, 8am to 12pm
Meeting Street Market
11038 Cedar Walk Lane, Charlotte, NC
May 3rd, 2011 through November 2nd, 2011
Tuesdays, 4pm to 8pm
Kings Drive Farmers Market
938 South Kings Drive, Charlotte, NC
Tuesday, 6am to 6pm
Friday, 6am to 8pm
Saturday, 7am to 3pm
Historic West End Market
Wesley Heights Way and West Trade Street
Saturday, 9am to 1pm

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Yes, another Birthday Cake! Vanilla Cake filled with Chocolate Ganache and frosted with Chocolate Butter Cream!!!

Another one of my dear friends is having a birthday this week. Since I won't be around to celebrate on the actual day, and I am seeing her tomorrow, I had to get on it and make a cake asap! Now she is a total chocolate girl and I did not want to just do chocolate butter cream, so I decided to make ganache! OMG, it is really good! I got the recipe for the ganache from one of my favorite TV personalities- The Cake Boss!!!
It is quite easy to make. He gave two ways to make it depending on how you were going to use it. I was only using it as a filling for the cake, so here is how ya do that:

1 cup of heavy cream
9 ounces of semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
Put the heavy cream in a saucepan and set over a medium high heat. As soon as it begins to simmer, remove the pot from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon to melt. Stir in the corn syrup.
Transfer to a bowl and to use as filling, refrigerate it for about an hour or so. When ready, transfer to a pastry bag and pipe it out.

Now for the Chocolate Butter Cream, I went with a recipe from the only thing I did differently, was add in a little whipping cream to make it fluffy!


Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
  1. 1 Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.
  2. 2 Add sugar and cocoa, mixing well.
  3. 3 Stir in milk in portions, stirring each time.
  4. 4 Add vanilla.
  5. 5 Spread on cooled cake or other items needing frosting.
Read more:

I ended up using two square tins vs. round for this cake as I have never done it before and wanted to try it out. I did have to cut around the edges some, but overall it came out pretty nice. Once the cake was frosted, I reheated the left over ganache and with a spoon just splashed it across the cake. I topped it with some colored sprinkles, as it is a birthday cake! ;)