Wednesday, July 23, 2014

snapshots of life lately, according to my iphone pictures

. . . and ryan's iphone too.

{some iphone pictures via the instagram app}

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

raspberry chocolate chip cake with chocolate frosting

over the weekend we celebrated ryan's grandmother's 93rd birthday.

we wanted to make something different for dessert instead of typical birthday cake, so we tried a new recipe: raspberry chocolate chip cake with chocolate frosting.

three layers of vanilla cake with fresh raspberries and chocolate chips through out the cake.

the raspberries provided little pops of pink, and the chocolate chips looked like polka dots in the cake.  so festive!

the chocolate frosting was so rich and creamy.  i could eat this frosting with a spoon, it's so good.  it tastes just like fudge.

we decorated the top of the cake with fresh raspberries and mini chocolate chips.

we just bought this cake pedestal last week, and it was such a pretty base for this birthday cake.

can you believe that this cake pedestal was only 18 cents?!  it was originally marked as $50 . . . that's some good coupon use if i do say so myself!

ryan's grandmother seemed to really like her birthday cake!  our whole family loves the combination of raspberries and chocolate.

if you're looking for some other tasty raspberry-chocolate recipes, we also love our chocolate raspberry sacher torte and our chocolate sour-cream cake with raspberry filling and chocolate-raspberry frosting.

raspberry chocolate chip cake with chocolate frosting
prep time: 20-25 minutes
baking time: 25 minutes
yields: one 3-layer 9-inch round cake
adapted from sally's baking addiction

cake ingredients:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup salted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups fresh raspberries
3/4 cup chocolate chips (mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate)

frosting ingredients:
1 cup salted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons half-and-half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  grease and flour the sides of three 9-inch round cake pans, and line the bottom of the cake pans with parchment paper.  set aside.  to make the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together into a large bowl.  in a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter and the sugar.  add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.  add the buttermilk and vanilla, stir well.  slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until no lumps remain.  be careful not to over mix.  the batter will be very thick.  gently fold the raspberries and the chocolate chips into the batter with a spatula.  divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans.  bake the cakes for 22-24 minutes.  the cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  allow the cakes to cool in the cake pans for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from the cake pans and allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

to make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  add 3 cups of powdered sugar along with the cocoa powder.  mix on low to combine.  add 3 tablespoon of half-and-half along with the vanilla.  mix on low to combine.  add the remaining powdered sugar and/or half-and-half as needed to reach your desired frosting consistency.  frost the cakes once they have cooled completely.  decorate with additional raspberries and mini chocolate chips.

love, laurie

Monday, July 21, 2014

a 93rd birthday celebration!

over the weekend, our families got together to celebrate ryan's grandmother's 93rd birthday!

we went out to lunch at olive garden (her favorite) and then went back to ryan's parent's house for dessert and presents.  of course, ryan and i made cake for dessert.  a birthday just wouldn't be a birthday without cake!

it was so nice to see ryan's grandmother and to celebrate her birthday with her!

^ryan's parents' cat ginger sure was intrigued by the birthday candles!^
^raspberry chocolate chip cake with chocolate frosting^
^ginger stole the candles off the cake pedestal one-by-one^
^birthday candle thief caught red handed^

. . . 

hope everyone had a great weekend!
love, laurie

Friday, July 18, 2014

a giveaway with

today we are teaming up with for a great giveaway!

i first heard about firmoo in the fall of 2012 when they contacted me to do a product review of their eye glasses.  i love the pair of glasses that i got from firmoo, and i still wear them every day.  since then, i even ordered a second pair from them which i carry around in my purse as a back-up pair.

firmoo offers prescription eye glasses, prescription sun glasses, and non-prescription designer frames at a fraction of the cost of other retailers.

two lucky readers will each win a $25 voucher to be used toward the purchase of a pair of black framed eye glasses!  (please note, the cost of shipping is not covered by the voucher.)

you can see all of firmoo's black frame options here.
to enter to win, simply leave one comment below telling us your name, your email address, and which pair of black framed eye glasses you would choose if you won.  (only one entry per person.)

two winners will be drawn at random and announced on friday, july 25th.

good luck!
love, laurie

Thursday, July 17, 2014

gourmet grilled pizza

for us, weeknight dinners often need to be quick and easy.  we threw together this grilled pizza for dinner a few days ago after work.  it came together in no time and it was so delicious.  what an amazing combination of flavors!

this pizza is easy enough to throw together for a quick weeknight dinner, but it is impressive enough to serve at a dinner party too.  it's like gourmet pizza.

we actually made this two days in a row.  the first day, we used half of the pizza dough to make one large pizza.  (i'm slightly ashamed to say that we ate the whole thing in one sitting . . . just the two of us.  it was that good.)  the second day, we tried to be more sensible and used the remaining half of the dough to make four small personal-size pizzas which lasted us two days.  will power, people.

we rolled our whole wheat pizza dough super thin for a nice thin and crispy crust.

grilling the pizza dough gives it such a wonderful flavor.  don't even remotely worry if your pizza ends up to be a shape other than round.  it is nearly impossible to make a perfectly round pizza on the grill.  i've tried.  sure, i know they make pizza pans for the grill, but i like to put my pizza dough right on the grill grates.  those grill marks across the pizza crust are just too good to pass up.

we didn't really measure the ingredients, we just kind of eyeballed it.  you can adjust the measurements to your liking.

we topped our pizza with caramelized onions, and sauteed baby bella mushrooms and garlic.  the gruyere cheese was a nice twist instead of traditional pizza cheese.  the fresh spinach and arugula with balsamic on top really is what sent this pizza over the top.

(we used our favorite balsamic vinegar which is the dark chocolate balsamic from the filling station in chelsea market in nyc.)

if you are skeptical about putting a salad on top of your pizza, don't be!  it's unbelievable!

ps: looking for other grilled pizza ideas?  try our grilled bbq chicken pizza.

grilled whole wheat pizza with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and garlic, and gruyere cheese, topped with fresh spinach, arugula, and balsamic vinegar
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 15-20 minutes
yields: 2 large pizzas

1 1/2 lbs. whole wheat pizza dough
2 tablespoons salted butter (divided)
1 large onion, sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 cups gruyere cheese, finely shredded
2 oz. fresh baby spinach
2 oz. fresh arugula
4-5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

in a pan over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  add the sliced onions and saute until translucent.  add the brown sugar and allow the onions to caramelize.  remove from the heat and set aside.  in a separate pan over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute.  then, add the sliced mushrooms.  saute until cooked throughout.  remove from the heat and set aside.

on a floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a circle with a rolling pin.  place the pizza dough on a preheated grill and cook for 3-4 minutes over low heat.  flip the pizza dough over, and top with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and garlic, and shredded gruyere cheese.  allow the pizza to cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the cheese has melted.  be sure to watch the pizza closely so that it does not burn.  in a large bowl, drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the fresh baby spinach and arugula.  toss to evenly coat.  once the pizza has finished grilling, put the balsamic covered spinach and arugula on top of the finished pizza.  serve immediately.

love, laurie

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


we were excited to find out that there were fireworks after the baseball game on friday night.  the fireworks were shot off right behind where we were sitting, so we really got an up-close view of them.  it was a clear summer night, and the weather was beautiful.  perfect conditions for watching fireworks.  what a great end to a fun date night!

love, laurie