Saturday, February 26, 2011

Daydream Believer

EEK. I've been slacking on the blogging. My brain is fried and my to-do list is out of control. But things are going down. Good things. I finally got all of my crafting supplies organized and bought some tubs to organize them. I spend (waste) my mornings daydreaming about how beautiful my crafting station will be when it's done. We've talked about getting a window in our bedroom, and I imagine it being a very tall window with a little bit of a ledge for me to sit on and look outside for inspiration. I sit and I daydream in the morning as I listen to the birds singing outside, knowing that they want spring to come just as badly as I do.

Speaking of spring, look forward to some springy recipes. Those two days of warmth we had last week made my berries and citrus cravings kick in.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Heart-Shaped Spritz Cookies

My darling husband got me a fancy pants cookie press for my birthday. He did a lot of research, including seeing what Ms. Martha Stewart had to say, and got me the best cookie press ever. It's Italian. And I love it. The Europeans call it a "biscuit" press, which I also love. It's stainless steel and comes with a ton of plates to make various cookie shapes.

He also got me a new paddle attachment for my KitchenAid mixer (also recommended by Ms. Stewart) which has little rubber scrapers on the sides. The paddle scrapes down mixes as it goes, which saves a lot of time since I don't have to stop and scrape it all down myself. I love it.

I finally had a proper excuse to use my cookie press (not that I need an excuse to make cute cookies) for the Valentine's Day tea party we had a couple weeks ago. I used my heart-shaped plate to make these little cuties:

The plate is a sort of "Y" shape that molds the dough into a heart. It took a little practice trying to get cookies that didn't just look like "Y"s or a big mushy mess.

This may sound crazy but I thought the creamed butter and sugar looked so pretty.

It gets so fluffy and lovely.

Yeah, I think butter and sugar are pretty. I'm weird like that.

I used Spritz cookie dough to make these guys. They were deeelicious. I'm excited about experimenting with different shapes, especially the floral shapes, and decorating them with icing and candies.

Notice the flour everywhere? Yeah. I'm a messy baker. And I'm too stubborn to use the splash guard (which is sitting conveniently right next to the mixer, sigh).

Spritz Cookie Recipe
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter until creamy
  3. Mix in sugar and beat until fluffy
  4. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until fully incorporated
  5. Add in the salt and gradually add in the flour until fully incorporated
  6. Either press out the cookie dough in your cookie press, roll out the dough and cut out shapes, or drop cookie dough 1-2 inches apart.
  7. Bake 6-9 minutes
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day?

I'll be honest, I'm not really a fan of Valentine's Day. I don't want to go to a crowded restaurant or have my husband spend a ridiculous amount of money on roses that will just soon die and be thrown out. I don't even like roses. I'm just not that kind of girl (not that being that kinda girl is a bad thing, it's just not for me). And I don't like the pressure put on couples on this particular holiday to be overly romantic. But, I'll tell you what I do like... I like hearts and heart-shaped decorations, I like following cute themes (especially in relation to baked goods), I love spending time with my husband, and dressing up for him, just to stay home and sit on the couch.

So what did we do on this Valentine's Day? I made this little heart garland out of wrapping paper that I saved from one of our wedding gifts (it was too pretty to throw away). I'm happy that it's simple enough to keep up year-round. Then, I busted out my heart-shaped pancake mold to make cute (in theory) pancakes. They didn't want to come out of the mold. I like how curly the bacon turned out. I got a pretty nasty grease burn/blister on my arm due to my typical clumsiness. Lucas ran to my aid with aloe and a band-aid. Then, after dinner, we watched Bruce Willis kick some major booty in the movie Red, and ate the heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies I made for Lucas while he was at work.

It was Valentine's Day, but that didn't matter. It was just a typical day in the the Walther home, being in love with my husband, baking cookies, and finding a new way to hurt myself while cooking.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Creamy Chocolate Cake

"Let's face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me."
Audrey Hepburn

I'm weak in the knees for chocolate. Chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate truffles. Chocolate candy bars. Chocolate ganache. Hot chocolate. Chocolate brownies. Chocolate milkshakes. Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate gelato. Chocolate shavings. Those little crunchy chocolate bits in the middle of a Carvel ice cream cake. I'll take it anyway I can.

But I don't think anything can beat a rich, creamy, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. When I first lived on my own I would run to the grocery store to buy a slice of chocolate cake from the bakery whenever my craving would kick in. Now, being a little older and a littler wiser (and a far better baker than I once was), I can make my own cheaper version of chocolate cake. Cheaper, but just as delicious. AND, I get to have an entire cake instead of just one measly slice. Though, that may not really be a good thing. I do have my husband here to help me eat it, though. So, I'm only eating about 3/4 of it by myself :]

I've made chocolate bundt cakes before, but somehow the chocolate cupcakes that I made for the little Valentine's Day tea party this past weekend were the first for me (at least the first from scratch). I'm now on a mission to test out different chocolate cake and chocolate frosting recipes and see which one most fulfills my chocolatey desires. I have hopes of a more rich, sweet chocolate cake with matching frosting- but I really liked the cupcakes I made this time around as well. The cake itself is made with cocoa powder which gives it a strong chocolate flavor. I was rushing around the morning of the party trying to make the frosting, and took my eyes off the melting chocolate too long as it started to burn. -Insert sad face here-. I was majorly bummed. But, then I had a stroke of genius (or desperation) which thankfully turned out pretty darn good. I used up the last bit of German chocolate I had (which wasn't much) then added a little punch of that same cocoa powder that I used in the cupcake batter. I added just enough to be noticeable, but overall left the frosting as a buttercream. Lucas dug it (he's always my tester) so the panic subsided and I stuffed my little frosting bag and went to town.

The girls took leftovers home with them as well. I see that as a sign of success. Chocolate for the win!

(Oh and you better believe that my quest for the perfect chocolate cake means that more recipes are coming your way soon!)

Chocolate Cocoa Cake Recipe

(makes about 16 cupcakes)

  • 1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon (for frosting) cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line your cupcake tray
  2. In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer (or in a large bowl if you don't have a mixer), beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add eggs, on at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Mix in the vanilla extract
  7. Add in the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  8. Add in all but one teaspoon (reserved for frosting) of the cocoa and mix well until smooth.
  9. Fill cupcake tray evenly (each cup about 3/4 full).
  10. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 2 oz. German Chocolate (you could use unsweetened chocolate for a more dark chocolate taste)
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder (reserved from cake batter)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Frosting Directions:
  1. Melt the German chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cream butter in your mixer
  3. Add powdered sugar to butter and mix until smooth.
  4. Add in cocoa mixture (reserved from cake batter) and mix well.
  5. Add in vanilla extract and mix well.
  6. Add in melted German Chocolate and mix until thoroughly combined with frosting.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's Day Tea Party

My wonderful friend Laurie (the star of our recent engagement photo shoot), has hosted a valentines crafting event for the past several years. It's always a lot of fun to sit around and craft with girl friends and feel super girly as we talk about our beaus and baking and other girl-type topics. To make things even more awesome, Laurie decided to make this year's valentine-making party a tea party (in theme with our recent love of throwing tea parties) which was held this past Saturday.

As always, our tea party was really fun and filled with lots of delicious food. We had banana bread, fancy pants potatoes, heart-shaped sandwiches, heart-shaped cookies, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream, an egg quiche with red pepper and arugula, and a gazillion types of tea to choose from. We get fancy. And stuffed. Amanda's quiche made us feel less guilty about our consumption of chocolate cupcakes and cookies. It had green in it. That has to get a us a few health points. Right? Right.

And here is the quiche chef herself, hard at work on her valentine:

We had a nice spread of crafting supplies in various shades of pink and red.

Unfortunately, I got so consumed in my own valentine making that I forgot to take pictures of everyone else until we were almost all done. I did get a few of Amanda crafting. And Fischer (Laurie's adorable kitten) lending a helping hand.

And being unbelievably cute as he got himself stuck in a piece of paper with a heart cut out of it:

I also took a picture of Melissa's completed valentine:

Those are her legs in the picture. She had on really cute tights. I've said this before and I'll say it again- I have super cute friends.

Oh, and Laurie's fellah took this picture of all of us gals together!

Later this week I'll tell you all about the heart-shaped cookies and chocolate cupcakes I made for the party:]

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sean and Laurie's Engagement Shoot

This past Saturday I did my first official photo shoot with Lucas. We did engagement pictures for our lovely friends Laurie and Sean in Baltimore outside of the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the American Visionary Art Museum. It was a lot of fun other than the fact that it was freezing cold outside. But I like the little bit of rosiness they had in their cheeks as a result.

Laurie and Sean are an amazing couple and could not be more perfect for each other. I'm so glad that Laurie found someone who compliments her so well and who truly appreciates the awesome chick that she is. We've been friends for a long time now and have been through a lot together. It's really awesome to see how far we've come and how rad our lives are now. Especially Laurie. I'm really proud of her. She's gettin' herself an education and working towards a career that I know she'll do awesome in.

Okay enough with the sap. On to the pictures!

My awesome husband snapped this picture of me, knowing I'd want a little reminder of my first photo shoot. He's sweet like that.

The first backdrop was a sort of tree house in a garden outside of the Visionary Arts Museum. It was really neat and went up into a tower. So I guess you could say it was more of a tree castle. Or tree tower. Whatever it was, we got some rad pictures inside of it.

These pictures were taken with a giant mirrored mosaic egg. This is where Lucas would go on his rant about how he doesn't get "art". A giant mirrored mosaic egg isn't really his cup of tea. So, I gladly stepped in to take some "artsy fartsy" pictures.

Look at their faces. Seriously- they're like GQ models.

I love their hands on the natural wood. So pretty and simple.

Ah, love.

Literally. "Love".

I call this the "everyone should know how lucky Sean is" picture. She's so purdy.

I was nervous (because honestly, my confidence could use a little work), but I'm really happy with how the pictures came out. And, I think Lucas and I make a pretty good team. At first we had a little trouble with our differences in style, but now we see how they compliment each other. I'm not always good at executing my ideas (still learning), but I can explain to him what I want and he'll get the shot perfectly or help me to do it myself. He's amazing. And a truly amazing photographer. I'm excited about all of the future photography gigs that we'll get to do together. I like being a married photography team. And just a married team in general.

PS: Lucas also posted about the engagement photo shoot today; go check out his blog to get his take on things and see some extra photos!

PSS: Visit the Martyr Media website to see more of Lucas' work. We can be contacted at or if you're in need of a photographer. Or two. :]