Thursday, June 29, 2017

Crowd Pleasing 4th of July Cupcakes & Cake

Good morning! I hope that your week is going well. The weather here has been fabulous and it finally feels like summer; sunny, hot and steamy.

For many this weekend is all about vacations, beach time, barbecues, family, friends and of course food. If you are invited to a party this weekend I have the easiest cake/cupcake recipe (it starts with a cake mix)  for you to take along.

You can make them fancy or you can simply add a little fruit and you have a beautiful and scrumptious treat.

White Almond Cake

NOTE: I made 2 6 inch rounds and 6 cupcakes with this recipe but you can also make 2 8 inch round cake pans


1 (18oz) Box white cake mix
1 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
11/3 cup of water
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites


Place all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and stir together with a wire whisk. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured or greased and parchment lined, 2 8" inch round cake pans or 2 6" inch pans and 6 cupcakes

Pans should not be over half filled or they will over flow in your over. Tap pans lightly on the counter to release air bubbles. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven. The baking times will vary with the size of the pans. Bake cupcakes for 12-18 minutes. Check for doneness. 6" pans bake about 15-25 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center, should be golden brown and come out almost clean.  Remove pans from over, let cool for 5 minutes, remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. This cake is very sticky so I recommend lining the wire rack with waxed paper or parchment before you turn the cake out of the pan. 

Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks softened butter
1 lb. powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1-5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter for 1-3 minutes until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low until mixture resembles small pebbles, then add the vanilla and a little of the heavy whipping cream. Beat the mixture, adding more whipping cream if needed, until mixture is at spreading consistency. 

Once the cakes have cooled frost the cake and add fruit for garnish. As for the cupcakes, I spent a little time tinting frosting to match the holiday and then decorated the 6 cupcakes with a star tip. You can leave the buttercream white and frost the cupcakes or you can tint the buttercream to your desired color. I discovered when I was getting ready to decorate that I was out of red food coloring so I ended up using colored sugar. I case you are wondering, I used Wilton gel food coloring to get the blue color. 

If you have a favorite white cake recipe I would love to try it. I really like white cakes and am always looking for a new recipe to try, especially one from scratch. 

Have a fabulous day!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

4th of July Tablescapes & Decorations

Good morning! Can you believe this weekend it is already the 4th of July! Summer seems to be flying by and I feel as if I have not been doing anything but a few trips to the beach, reading, going to bbq's and not much more. 

Image Cindy

I typically do not decorate too much for the 4th of July; I hang my flag and have a vintage ironstone picture filled with mini flags on my counter. But after seeing this elegant and patriotic table from Cindy at Rough Luxe I think I am going to have to up my game this year! 

Between Naps on the Porch

I found a few fun tables capes that I thought you might like. You don't need to run out and buy a inch of stuff just use what you have. 

Image Annie Falk Here

Get out your white bowls that you typically use for cereal in the morning, place them on top of the red plates that you use for Christmas, maybe add some colorful flowers with a few flags for your arrangement. 

Image Home is where the Boat Is

Image Tobi Fairley Setting Kathryn Greeley

You could also add a pot of your red geraniums that you have on your porch, get out your gingham tablecloth, scatter some confetti, add your blue transfer ware plates, tie a box of sparklers to your napkin and you are good to go. Look around your house, I would guess that you already have everything that you need to make a festive tables cape for two or for the next party that you are hosting!

Image Stone Gable

If you need a few last minute items, check out these fun finds from TargetSur la TablePottery Barn and more. 

Have a great day! 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Crockpot Chicken Tiki Masala

Good morning! I may have said this before but I will say it again, I would much rather bake than cook. Personally I like sugar better than meat. That said, I do cook and frequently experiment with different foods, as I am not partial to a slab of meat, I like dishes with complex, interesting flavors and spices. Therefore at my house I am the inside cook and my husband mans the grill and occasionally the cast iron skillet

One of the foods that I love most is Indian food and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it even more if it can be made in a Crock Pot. I like being able to come home from the beach or being out on my board and not having to worry about dinner. This weekend I made Crock Pot Chicken Tiki Masala using a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers The Iron You.  First and foremost this recipe is  flavorful and delicious and secondly, it is incredibly easy.  It is better than a restaurant, and you can serve it over basmati rice or cauliflower rice if you are eating low carb. You could also add a piece of naan bread to soak up the scrumptious, spicy gravy if you are not watching your carbs. 

Crockpot Chicken Tiki Masala
Recipe from: The Iron You

2 lbs organic chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 20 oz. can of crushed tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon Garam masala
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Grease the inside of your crock pot bowl with cooking spray.  Set aside. Combine all ingredients (except for bay leaves, heavy cream, cornstarch, and lemon juice) in a large bowl. Stir to combine everything, making sure that the chicken is well coated. 
Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and place the two bay leaves on top. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low heat for 4 hours on high. 
When mixture in the crock pot is done, in a separate small bowl combine heavy cream and cornstarch  and gently stir into the mixture. Let cook an additional 20 minutes for the mixture to thicken up.
Finally add lemon juice and gently stir to incorporate.
Serve warm over basmati rice, cauliflower rice or plain. You could also add a can or two of drained and rinsed chic peas to the mixture for the last 30 minutes of cooking. 
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Do you have an easy, and favorite Indian dish? Please share if you do, I would love to try something new as I typically make Chicken(or cauliflower/chick pea) Tiki Masala or Indian Butter Chicken.

Have a fabulous week!

Linking to:
Savvy Southern Style


Saturday, June 24, 2017

4th of July Fashion

Happy Saturday morning to you! I hope that you have some relaxing and entertaining plans for the weekend. I will be at the beach weather permitting and riding my bike.
The 4th of July is only a few weeks away and we have been invited to several parties and bbq's so I  have been looking for a casual outfit, not necessarily shorts and a t-shirt. I found a few great dresses that I thought you might like as well!

As for accessories, I have seen tassel's and balls in bright colors everywhere this summer. Here are a few in the appropriate colors of the holiday!

Add a great pair of sandals to any of these dresses and you are set to go out to a party day or night!

What are your plans for the 4th of July? Party? Beach? Or a day at home? I hope that whatever you do you have fun and are safe.

Note: This post includes affiliate links that if you click I may earn a few cents. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Favorits from the Sits Girls, Cosy Little House, Simply Delicious Food, Baker By Nature, You May Be Wandering, Town & Country, Julie Blanner and More

Good morning a happy Summer to you! I hope that you are having a fabulous week! As I mentioned this week, "summer weather" has been hit or miss here, mostly a miss. But that's OK I am sure that something better is to come.

Image Here via Pinterest

I have mentioned many times that I love pizza, grilled cheese, pasta and burgers but I might have failed to mention that I am always in search of the perfect sandwich. 

Image Bake By Nature

This weekend I will be making this scrumptious looking Philly Style Italian Hoagie from Baker By Nature

Image Simply Delicious Food Via Pinterest

If a sandwich is not your style than perhaps this beautiful Roasted Tomato Caprese Tart from Simply Delicious Food

Image from The Sits Girls

There is ALWAYS something  to celebrate  even if it just a new day, so why not whip up a batch of these beautiful Champagne Cupcakes from the Sits Girls?

Image Julie Blanner

If you would like a new cocktail to serve at your summer festivities try this Margarita Float from Julie Blanner.

Image from Town and Country Magazone

I know that many people are fans of Jane Austen, myself included so I thought you might enjoy this Guide to Jane Austens Countryside from Town and Country, just in case you are planning a trip to the UK any time soon. 

Speaking of which if you are planning a trip and need help with any of the arrangements like flights, hotels, fun activities or excursions contact Sandy at You May Be Wandering she is a travel expect/guide and can help you plan a small trip and a grand adventure! 

For those of you who will be traveling this summer and staying with friends and family here is a great article about 10 Rules to Every House Guest Should Follow.

Image Angie 40 by 40

I discovered a great new blog this week, the 40 by 40 Project. Angie is almost 40 and has made a list of 40 things she wants to accomplish before she turns 40. 

Image Cosy Little House

I discovered Angie from this post that Brenda of Cosy Litte House wrote about Angie's fabulous 350 sq. ft apartment in New York. I am amazed that this beautiful place is 350 sq. feet.

And last but not least, it is never to early to start thinking about the 4th of July! If you are having a bbq, or a summer party you might want to pick up a few of these fun plates, cups, napkins and more. 

If you watched, read, made, ate or did anything this week that we should know about please share in the comments.

I hope that you have a fabulous weekend.

Note: The above collage contains affiliate links. 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Just Curious...What is on Your Summer Bucket List for 2017?

Summer is finally here, at least on the calendar, the weather not so much. No matter because with all of the crazy rain I have been able to spend a little time thinking about my bucket list. 

For the last few years I have made a list of the things that I absolutely want to do over the summer season and I almost always complete them all but a few things always get away because of time or weather. This year I decided to focus on 10 things only. 

As you can see my list is very simple, no grand adventure although I am open to one if it comes along, I want to enjoy family, friends, and the simple pleasures of Summer. 

Do you have something special planned for your summer? A wonderful holiday, a family reunion, time at the beach or just enjoying life at home? 

Whatever you do I hope that you enjoy it. The season is short and soon winter will be upon us so get out there and catch some fireflies, splash in the ocean, take a hike in the mountains, eat a Popsicle, have a BBQ. 

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eugenia Kim Straw Hats, DIY and More

Image and Hat here

The last few years these whimsical Eugenia Kim straw hats have been everywhere and although I like them I don't like the price. If you are a fan of Eugenia Kim, I have put together a collage of a few of my favorite hats.

If you would like a similar look for less I have included a few options as well. 


Hat Nordstrom

Hat Nordstrom

Hat Nordstrom

Last but not least, if you are a DIYer, than here a a couple of links so that you can make your own hat!

Me and Mr.Jones "Wish you were here" tutorial.

Are you a fan of hats? As I age I find myself wearing a hat more and more because although I love a tan I really do not want to have any skin issues. If you do not wear a hat at least remember a little sunscreen. 

I hope that you have a beautiful Tuesday!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cherry Almond Crumble Bars

Good morning! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend? Were you able to spend a little time outside or were you plagued with thunder storms as we were? I made the most of the sun when it was out and then sat under my covered porch and read when it rained. 

I made these cherry almond crumble bars this weekend and they were easy and fabulous! If you have raspberries use raspberries, if you have peaches use peaches, these bars are versatile and you can use almost any fruit!

Cherry Almond Crumble Bars
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

1 stick plus 5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds

3 cups cherries pitted
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt


Line and 8 inch square pan with parchment paper, either butter the pan or spray with cooking spray. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the bowl. Add the salt and then slowly add the flour beat until the dough forms clumps. You can also mix this by hand and then continue. 

Put 21/2 cups of the mixture into the pan and pat into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides. Set aside and mix the filling. 

In a bowl mix together the pitted cherries, sugar, lemon juice, flour and salt. Pour the mixture over the crust, then top with the remaining dough by squeezing together to make clumps. Scatter these around the cherries. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. If the bars are browning too fast tent with foil. Remove from oven when browned and bubbly. Let bars cool 20 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and leave to cool completely. Cut and enjoy!

I hope that you have a great day and a fabulous week!

Linking to:
Savvy Southern Stlye

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Friday Favorites from Closet Cooking, Jo Lynne Shane, 2 Seasons,

Good morning! It's Friday, can I get a hip, hip, hooray! It has been a crazy week here at my house and I am definitely ready for the weekend. What about you? Do you have big plans for the weekend? Or celebrating Father's Day?

Image from Closet Cooking

I will not be celebrating with my dad this Sunday as he will be in Wisconsin but if I was I would be making this fabulous Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Sandwich that Kevin from Closet Cooking made. If you need a few more recipe ideas check out this post from Kevin as well. 

If your dad likes pancakes then I suggest these Vanilla Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

Image from Jo Lynne Shane

If you are having a Father's Day brunch you might want to serve The Ultimate Bloody Mary to your dad and your guests. 

Image The 2 Seasons

No celebration is complete without a sweet treat and I think this Classic Southern Pound Cake from The 2 Seasons would be perfect!

Lemon Enamel plates from Pottery Barn

We are doing a lot of entertaining this summer and I love these Lemon Enamel plates from Pottery Barn, I am just curious if any of you have them and how you like them?

Yesterday I shared a few of my favorite Father's day gifts for Grill Masters and Cast Iron Skillet Cooks. I just wanted to share 4 more of my favorites. Cookbooks are the gifts that keep on giving, for not only dad but the whole family!

I LOVE Instagram and found a fabulous new to me page, Jo Rodgers filled with fabulous adventures and photos!

I do not want to be "Debbie Downer" but I read this article and I have not been able to get it out of my mind for days so I wanted to share it with you as well. 
Life is sacred, precious and short. This article from NPR is beautiful and so incredibly moving.

Have a Happy Father's Day and a fabulous and safe weekend. 


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Father's Day Gifts for the Grill Master and Cast Iron Cook

Good morning! I hope that you are having a great week. I am but I am so very happy that tomorrow is Friday. This weekend is Father's day and I don't know about you but I typically have a difficult time buying gifts for people who "buy it if they want it or need it, when they see it." Do you have the same challenging men in your life?

Williams Sonoma Image

Both my dad and my husband are great cooks and grillers and that makes life easy when searching for gifts. If your dad already has a grill  than perhaps a new set of tools or an apron would be something he might need? Or if you have the time you could make your dad some bbq sauces and rubs to use when he makes his next feast? 

I personally think men like cookbooks just as much as women do. After all, who doesn't like the experience of scrolling thru beautiful recipes and photos looking for a scrumptious recipe? Lucky for me my husband likes cookbooks as much as I do and I get to enjoy the ones he gets for himself or for gifts as much as he does. 

Here are a few of the latest cookbooks that my husband has received or purchased that your husband or dad might enjoy as well. 

One Pan and Done by Molly Gilbert. A fabulous cookbook of easy, delicious, healthy meals all in one pan: be it a skillet, a dutch oven, sheet pan, muffin tin or cake pan. This book is filled with savory and sweet meals that the beginner or seasoned cook could make. 

Grilled Cheese & Beer: Recipes for the Finer Things in Life by Kevin Vanblarcum & James Edward Davis. Grilled cheese, need I say more? To me grilled cheese is the the most perfect meal and if your dad feels the same than this is a wonderful addition to his cookbook library. A great book of photos, beer pairings and interesting cheese, meat and veggie combinations. 

This book is beautifully written with wonderful stories, and antidotes from the Susi who was born in Madison County, North Caroloina and lived for 20 years in France where she earned a degree at the Cordon Bleu. Twenty-eight local chefs contributed to this collection of 100 recipes that the author calls "a blending together of old ingredients and new techniques." 
Field Company

My husband loves cast iron skillets and even collects them so when he heard about the Field Kickstarted campaign from another foodie friend he signed up.  
 The Field promises , "Lighter, Smoother Cast Iron—an American classic meticulously redesigned with a modern twist: The Field Skillet" 

His skillet arrived this week and he loved it, it is lighter(not by a lot), smooth and cooks great. If your husband or dad loves cast iron this might be a great gift, but be aware that there is a little delay in delivery 

Cast iron is the perfect pan to cook with wether it is a skillet or a dutch oven. For many of us, it is the pan that we remember our grandmothers and even mothers cooking with. You can use them both in  your kitchen or over hot coals to bake breads and desserts, simmer soups, or roast meats and vegetables. Dutch Oven and Cast Iron Cooking: 100+ Recipes for Indoor & Outdoor Cooking offers instructions for using the classic Dutch oven to cook more than 100 recipes for breakfast, breads, main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. This book is perfect for the indoor or outdoor cook. 

Last but not least The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook: 150 Fresh Ideas for America's Favorite Pan. This book has it all, from the traditional dishes that you might remember like fried chicken and pork chops to new and interesting recipes like naan bread, Korean shrimp pancakes, to sticky buns and Irish soda bread. I have made many recipes from this book and so far I have not been disappointed. 

Do you ever get your dad cookbooks? Do you have any recommendations for books or gifts? 

I hope that whatever you give your dad that have a wonderful day.