||| summer has arrived! | strawberry balsamic goat cheese crostini |||

Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Goat Cheese Crostini Plate

summer has arrived and we are so happy to see it! nothing spurs creativity like a good craving. with strawberries in season, i couldn’t resist picking a basket up from the farmer’s market! these simple, yet elegant crostinis will be the perfect addition to this weekend’s gatherings.

Sliced Bread Loaf for Strawberry Crostini

these are so simple to make, it’s almost embarrassing. slice up an italian loaf into pieces about a half inch thick. spread oil on the bread and toast at 425° for about 5 min. while cooking, slice strawberries (i chunked & sliced these for added dimension). let cool and spread goat cheese (i used plain flavor). arrange  strawberries and add fresh torn basil, salt & pepper. drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top and voila! these’ll be the talk of the party monday!

Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Goat Cheese Crostini

||| have a lovely weekend! rachel |||

||| mini maple cookies |||


mid-week treat. okay, these aren’t the healthiest cookies; but, i mean, maple! i tend to be into classic desserts: brownies, chocolate chip cookies, etc. i’m all for a good macaron, but nothing beats the basics for me. warning: even better with sea salt on top, but far more dangerous.

||| enjoy! – r |||


  • 1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (Grade B preferably)
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt


1. Cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed for three minutes or until light and fluffy.

2. Add the vanilla extract and egg and mix until well incorporated. Add the maple syrup and mix until well incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the walnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for thirty minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie, about 1 inch balls, onto cookies sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

(recipe adapted from simply recipes)

||| swedish pepparkakor spice cookies |||

titlelike a holiday spice candle brought to life, these swedish ginger cookies are perfect for cookie exchanges, gift tags or even tree ornaments. they’re super simple to make, too!


  1. whisk first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl until blended.
  2. beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. beat in molasses, yolk, and vanilla. with mixer on low, beat in dry ingredients until dough is just combined and still crumbly. use spatula to meld dough together.
  3. lay out three 14-inch sheets of waxed paper on a work surface and top each with 1/3 of dough. lightly press down and top with another sheet of waxed paper. with a rolling pin, roll out dough as thin as possible without tearing it, about 1/16 inch thick (this is key to very crispy cookies). gently peel back the top layer of waxed paper and replace it loosely. transfer rolled dough in waxed paper to a cookie sheet and place in freezer. repeat with remaining 2 portions. freeze for 30 minutes.
  4. heat oven to 325 degrees F. line baking sheets with parchment. remove one sheet of dough from freezer; peel off top sheet of paper. using a 2-3/4-inch-round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and put on baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart. (gather dough scraps and refrigerate.)
  5. bake 11 to 12 minutes or until crisp. remove from oven; while hot, sprinkle with turbinado sugar. cut and bake remaining dough. when all scraps are gathered, roll between waxed paper and repeat.

recipe from delish.com




||| happy holidays! -R |||

||| gelato: behind the scenes |||

alright, I know I’m technically on break, but i just had to share this with you! i was recently lucky enough to go to a gelateria and see how gelato is made (fyi, fresh gelato is the best kind!). before we get into the process, follow these tips on choosing a gelateria:

the gelato should be deep in the wells so it stays cold, like this:

Imagenot piled high for the tourists, like this:


the colorful flavors are usually fruity and geared toward the tourists (although still delicious!) and the bland colors are usually the more traditional flavors (try them while you’re in italy!). here’s how it’s made! unfortunately, you can’t really make it at home. they use a machine to create the gelato base and a second machine to freeze the mixture and create the gelato.


||| going away party | recipes |||

last week, i posted about my going away party supplies.  today, i’m sharing the delicious recipes!  Even the pickiest of party-goers found something they enjoyed with this spread.
*note: no exaggeration, the salted caramel brownie cookes (#3) are my absolute favorite dessert!

||| 1 | strawberry cupcakes with a strawberry margarita buttercream recipe from bakers confections |||
||| 2 | chocolate covered strawberries soaked in Pinnacle Whipped vodka |||
||| 3 | salted caramel brownie cookies,  kitchenist |||

||| 4 | fig & goat cheese crostini, butter and brass |||

||| 5 | peach & prosciutto crostini, bon appétit |||

||| 6 | shrimp, pesto & grape tomato crostini, denver post |||

Drinks (not pictured):
||| watermelon mojitos | martha stewart |||

||| urban grape’s famous sangria | daily candy |||

||| favorite post round-up | week of 8.12 thru 8.18 |||

i am an avid blog reader.  i cannot go a day without my dose of blog surfing—thank you bloglovin app—and i try to bookmark my favorites to revisit.  here are some stand-out posts from this past week.

enjoy! -t

||| 1. beauty. |||  a fine frenchy | the beauty department // fabulous hair how-to inspired by a fine frenzy (new album out this october!)…i have been searching for a good french twist tutorial and this one is flawless.

||| 2. food.  |||  pesto party | mrs. lilien // mrs. lilien is just too fabulous for words and i am completely obsessed with this blog.  the layout, the content, the typefaces, the colors…obsessed.  now that i’ve finished gushing, check out her recipe for pesto (yum!) and make it your own!

||| 3. funny. |||  to justin timberlake: our man-date itinerary | hello giggles // man date itinerary for a hypothetical date with jt…a super fun date complete with an itinerary filled with fedoras, thumb rings (maybe…), roller skating, ryan gosling, lasagna, toddlers in tiaras, parents, triscuits with hummus, a dog, an elliptical, and high-5s (“…but not too many times, like, probably just the right amount of times. i think that will probably be 7 times.”)

||| 4. diy. |||  gold studded tray diy | fabulous k // easy, affordable, and completely adorable!  trays are quite possibly the best way to display the knickknacks you have lying around in an organized and appealing way and this post shows you how to create a very fashionable tray for under $15!

||| 5. fashion. |||   stella inspired | coco + kelley // stella mccartney never disappoints and the spring ’13 campaign has all the elements i look for in a collection—leopard, florals, lace, pastels, stripes, and quirky glasses…i’m on board!

||| 6. art. |||  ladies in dior | paper fashion // katie rodger’s blog paper fashion has become a daily must for me—gorgeous inspiration for all of your artistic and fashion forward whims.  this specific post was a favorite this week because j’adore dior, of course!

||| 7. décor. |||  real living: daydreaming in turquoise | the decorista // i am in love with the cognac leather sofa in the second photo (and the shoes to match in the right-hand corner!) and i am a real sucker for wallpaper.  turquoise is one of my favorite colors to incorporate into my home and the images in this post are spot-on.


||| scrumptious summer salad |||

I love summer. Veggies and fruits everywhere, what could be better? Combining them into a salad, that’s what.


Fresh tomatoes, asparagus and watermelon sprinkled with feta, balsamic vinegar and basil. Yum.

Summertime Midnight Snack

My first taste of watermelon in the pizza realm was at the Randolph Street Market, one of my favorite antique fairs in Chicago.  This evening, as I contemplated whether to splurge for a late night snack, I went all-out.

Watermelon, mozzarella, spinach, balsamic vinegar reduction and feta atop naan. Fortunately, I’m not cutting you off: you can download the recipe here!

Saturday Brunch

Add to your own brunch menu this weekend with these delicious cinnamon scones from Recipe Girl!

Shopping List

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter (cut into chunks)
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 large egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Click here for a printable shopping list and recipe!


1. Preheat oven to 425°F 

2. Combine flour (2 c.), oatmeal (1 c.), sugar (1/4 c.), baking powder (1 tbs.) and salt (1/4 tsp.).  Cut in the butter (8 tbs.) with a pastry blender to create coarse crumbs.

3. In another bowl, blend milk (3/4 c.), 1 egg and vanilla (1 tsp.).

4. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients from step 2.  Stir with a rubber spatula until moistened (do not over-stir!).

5. Create a cinnamon/sugar mixture, to taste.  Sprinkle onto dough and lightly fold, then sprinkle again.  Continue until you have the desired amount of cinnamon.

6. Use an ice cream scoop to drop dough onto a baking sheet (I highly recommend lining with parchment paper to avoid the sugar burning to your pan!).

7. Bake 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Drizzle with a simple glaze (milk, confectioner’s sugar and a dash of vanilla) if you wish!

First Dessert of Summer

It finally feels like summer!  What better to do on a hot summer night than create the perfect dessert for the next day?

The following is a rendition of Sweetapolita‘s  Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart


- This process from start to finish is an overnight deal (but worth it)!  If you're in need of
 an emergency chocolate fix, check out our dessert recipes on Pinterest
- The caramel filling requires a slow cooker and takes 8 hours to cook.  

– You’ll need two room temperature eggs and 10 tablespoons of softened butter, so set them out!

Click here for a printable shopping list and recipe!

Shopping List

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

10 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or 2 oz. unsweetened + 2 tablespoons sugar)



1. Whisk flour (1 1/2 c.), cocoa powder (5 tbsp.) and salt (1/4 tsp.) in a bowl.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

3. Mix in egg yolks (2, room temperature) and vanilla (1/2 tsp.).  Add in dry ingredients from step 1.  

4. Place dough in a 9″ quiche pan and press evenly throughout bottom and sides of pan.  

5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 6. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Caramel Filling

1. Place one can (14 oz.) of condensed milk in a slow cooker after the label is removed from the can. 

2. Fill cooker insert with water until the top of the can is covered.

3. Heat on low for 8 hours.

4. Open can (SLOWLY) and you’ll find delicious caramel!  Spread it across the crust, as seen below.

Ganache 1. Bring heavy cream (1/2 c.) almost to a boil over medium heat.  

2. Place chopped chocolate (4 oz.) into a medium bowl and pour hot cream over chocolate.

3. After a minute, stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth.  

4. Pour ganache evenly over tart and garnish with sea salt.

Buon Appetito!