Friday, December 25, 2009

The Murray Family


The framed picture of the kids was a hit at christmas today. Both sets of grandparents and the parents themselves, absolutely loved it.
Merry Christmas everyone :)

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Martin John Murray


This is the love of my life, Martin John Murray.
He makes my heart melt.
Sometimes I tear up just thinking about how happy he makes me
and how much we absolutely love each other.
I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with him..

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

White Chocolate Chip and Craisin Cookies

white chocolate chip cookies with craisins

This is a holiday recipe of mine that I just recently created. I love the use of spices in holiday baking. For basic cookies, feel free to take the nutmeg and cinnamon out.

1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/3 c. butter
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
3 ¼ c. flour
1 t. baking soda
¾ t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cinnamon
12 oz. white chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. craisins

cream together sugar, brown sugar, and butter, until completely smooth; make sure to scrape bottom of the bowl
add eggs to butter mixture and blend thoroughly, scrape bottom of bowl, then add vanilla
add about half the flour, mix thoroughly, then add the rest of the flour with the baking soda and salt mixed in, add nutmeg, and cinnamon; the dough should just barely be dry enough so it doesn’t stick to your fingers
add white chocolate and craisins
use a spoon, or a cookie scoop; you should fit about 12 on a buttered pan; bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, until edges are just turning brown; if the bottom of your cookies tend to brown, put a sheet of foil under your pan, shinny side down.

*Personally I like white chocolate for this recipe, but use whatever you like! How I get the cookies to have a perfect shape everytime, which, is soooo tricky, I'm not sure why chocolate chip cookies always turn out different, but it's the temperature of the oven and whether or not you have foil under the pan. Sometimes you just have to play around with your oven to find out what works best. Good luck!

white chocolate chip cookies with craisins

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Poker Face :)

Happy Birthday to Heidi's uncle Tom..

Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

Makes about 10 cups
2 1/4 cups sugar
9 large egg whites
2 cups of butter (at room temperature)
2 cups of shortening
3 t. pure vanilla extract
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Over a pot of simmering water, in a heatproof bowl, whisk together sugar and egg whites until sugar is dissolved and mixture is very warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Remove From heat. Beat on medium until completely cooled and stiff peaks have formed, about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium, add butter a few tablespoons at a time until completely combined, then shortening, same process. Add vanilla, beat on low speed until smooth, about 5 minutes.

If you want the chocolate buttercream, add the semisweet chocolate chips, after being melted completely, and slightly cooled. Frosting is much easier once cooled, so refrigerate about an hour or two before use.

p.s. this recipe is mostly a martha stewart recipe, I made a few changes ;)

Chocolate Ganache

1 bag of chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. cream

Either over a double boiler, or in the microwave for 30 seconds increments, combine cream and chocolate with a whisk.
p.s. This is the same recipe I use for my ganache filling.

** This note is for Jonna :) When I bake cakes, I love to use box cakes. I have recipes for a few cakes I make, but the box cakes stay moist the longest and they're the easiest to make, obviously. In order to have a moist cake, I always make sure to not over cook the cake. Instead of waiting until a toothpick comes out clean, take it out when there's still a little bit of moisture. Also, keep the cake in the freezer before frosting it. I don't know if this helps to keep the moisture in, but that's what I do, and it works, also makes it easier to frost!!!

I have similar cakes to this here, and here, and here, if you wanna check them out.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lizzie's photo shoot

I was lucky enough to get to take pictures of this little sweetheart for Christmas card pictures, isn't she just so cute?!

I can't get enough of this little girl :) And for those of you expecting a christmas card from the beck family, I didn't ruin the surprise; we did a two day photo shoot, the christmas card will be featuring a picture from day 1, this is day 2.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kristin's wonderful Cheesecake

kristin's plain cheesecake 1

kristin's plain cheesecake

Kristin's Cheesecake

For a 10 inch spring form pan

Shortbread cookie crust:

1 c. butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 c. flour

Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until completely combined, make sure to scrap the bottom of the bowl. Add flour, and mix until combined. In a buttered spring form pan, press dough on edges and about 3/4 up the edges. It should have no more than ¼ inch depth, so you may have extra dough. Make sure the crease of the pan (in between bottom and sides) doesn’t have a build-up of dough. You will want a consistent depth all around.
Take a piece of heavy duty foil (or two sheets of regular) and shinny side down, place your pan on top, and fold the foil up the outside of the pan. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Edges should be golden brown, if you notice the edges are browning before center is cooked through, turn the temperature down.

Cheesecake filling:

24 ounces of cream cheese (3 boxes)
¾ c. sugar
3 eggs
1 T. vanilla
¼ t. salt
1 ½ c. sour cream

Cream the sugar and cream cheese in a mixer or with beaters. Add one egg at a time, scraping the bottom of the bowl after every egg. When completely combined (it is very important that you have no lumps, so the first few steps are crucial) add vanilla salt and sour cream. Mix until smooth. Pour filling into crust, smooth out top.

Sour cream topping:

1 ½ c. sour cream
4 T. sugar

Bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes at 330 degrees. The cheesecake is done when a toothpick placed in the center comes out almost clean. Check at the 1 hour 30 minute mark first. Take the cheesecake out of the oven, keep temperature on. Spread the sour cream topping on evenly, and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes. Cool on a rack for an hour or so before placing in the fridge. You should keep the cheesecake refrigerated for at least 48 hours before serving. I actually prefer 3 days, if you are thinking that much ahead of time.

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Gingerbread Cake

Remember the gingerbread cupcakes I posted from the wonderful Martha Stewart, well I used the same recipe and made an amazing cake!! Try it out for the holidays, it was honestly so delicious, I know you'll love it.

Gingerbread Cake

2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulphered molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

1.Heat oven to 350 degrees.. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
2.In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Beat in the brown sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in the eggs.
3.Using 2 cake pans (that have been buttered or sprayed with a non stick) evenly distribute. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. ** The most important part of baking a cake is to not let it overcook. If you check the center with a toothpick and it comes out almost clean, so cake morsels, not just goo, take it out. I keep this in mind with making just about any dessert.
Let cakes cool for an hour or so before frosting.
Whip about a cup of cream and 1/2 c. powdered sugar until stif peaks form. Use as frosting. Lightly dust with cinnamon or nutmeg for decoration. Keep refrigerated until you serve.


martha stewarts gingerbread cake

I owe a huge thank you to my friend Ashley who found this amazing cake stand for me!! I'm still on the lookout for a few more, so any ideas help, I've checked out a few places, but I'm always willing to go somewhere new. Anyways, isn't it so cute!?

Because I've become a part of Martin's family over the past year or so, I now have more birthdays to make desserts for!! Happy belated birthday to Grandpa Gallagher and Uncle Johnny. (A cheesecake post is on it's way, and another cake actually, I had a very, very busy weekend).

Happy Tuesday everyone!!!

{If you have any recipe suggestions for the holidays, let me know, I'd be happy to help.}

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Bacon wrapped shrimp with artichoke

I whipped up this appetizer the other night for a relief society event and it was a huge hit!! And so simple!!
1 lb bacon
2 dozen jumbo shrimp
2 jars of marinated quartered artichoke hearts
a few sprigs of basil
salt and pepper
olive oil
Look for a package of bacon that is very meaty, or if you can afford it and find it, buy prosciutto (it's the next best thing). Cut out the large amounts of fat, and slice strips in half. Lay out on a plate and microwave 2 minutes (you will most likely have to microwave in 2 batches). Also, lay a few napkins on top of the plate to keep oil from creating a mess.
Place a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
After rinsing the shrimp (shelling and devaining if necessary) lay out on the cookie sheet. Salt and pepper. Each shrimp will be wrapped with a 1/2 strip of bacon, use a toothpick to fasten. Cook on the highest rack of the oven on broil hi for 10-15 minutes. The shrimp will have color, and the bacon should be crispy.
Place the artichoke hearts into a bowl, you may need to cut a small portion of the leaf end of the artichokes if they're not soft. Each wrapped shrimp can be placed on a quartered artichoke. Push the toothpick down to hold all 3 together. Align on a platter, top with chopped basil and a few spoonfuls of the artichoke juice.
I wish I was more eloquent with my words, but I did the best I could!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Official Holiday Boutique Info!! Please Come by!!

Holiday Boutique!

Saturday, December 12

10 am-2pm

1721 Horner Way

Fremont, CA 94536

(Near the Corner of Temple Way and Peralta Blvd.)

Don’t spend your Saturday fighting traffic

and crowds at the Mall…

Come to the Holiday Boutique!

Jewelry, Gift Baskets,

Skin Care,

Works from a local Artist,

Hand Made Watches,

Hats and Hair accessories,

Baby accessories and more…..

Stop by and sign up for the free giveaways and some treats while you look.

This is what I'm selling :)

So Mark your calendar!!! December 12th, this Saturday, 10-2

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Christmas Sugar Cookies and Peppermint Sugar Cookies!!

This is one of my favorite recipes! Given to us by Debbie Childs; I know this will become one of your favorites as well. Jana and I love holidays purely for the fact that we have a reason and a theme for a new batch of sugar cookies!! Yes I have posted these before.

Sugar Cookies

2 c. butter
1 ½ c. sugar
4 egg yolks
2 t. vanilla
4 ½ c. flour

Cream butter and sugar, add yolks and vanilla; gradually add flour. Dough rolls out best if it has been chilled for at least 4 hours, but not necessary. Roll out dough with plenty of flour, about ½ inch thick. You don’t have to roll out the whole batch of cookies at one time; I usually split it in thirds or so. Place cut out dough on a buttered cookie sheet. They don’t bake much bigger than as cut out, so you can put them relatively close. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. I only love these cookies if they’re a little undercooked. So when the edges have any golden color, take them out. Also, if your oven or cookie sheets tend to cause the bottom of your cookies to burn, place a piece of aluminum foil underneath the pan, shinny side down.


2 lb. bag of powdered sugar
3 T. powdered meringue (wilton)
1 t. clear vanilla
1 t. butter flavoring

With a whisk attachment mix ingredients, and color if wanted (preferably gel paste color). You will need to add water tablespoons at a time until it can be mixed completely and is thin enough to pipe through a bag. The frosting should still be thick. If it’s too thick to use a piping bag, add a very small amount of water. Use the thick frosting to outline the cookies, and save some if you’re planning to do any writing or decorations. With the remaining frosting, add water just until frosting is wet enough to drip off a spoon. Use this frosting to fill the cookies that have already been outlined, use fingers or spoon to push frosting to edges, but it should lay out smooth on it’s own, if not, add more water. Let frosted cookies dry over night.

**For Peppermint sugar cookies, I added crushed peppermint candies to the cookie dough. It was very annoying trying to crush them with a ziplock bag and a rolling pin, I was losing patience, but then end result was worth it. But if you can find crushed peppermint candies in the store, maybe in the baking section, it would be worth it. I also added some of the crushed candies to the cookies after being frosted (but while the frosting is still soft) either peppermint candies, or peppermint bark, or just shaved chocolate. I decorated the plate with some red hots, and other christmas candies.

**In the treat bags, I threw in a few regular sugar cookies (although they're not regular, they're amazing) and a few peppermint, and then some random holiday candies. The clear treat bags can be found at Michaels (The happiest place on earth, well, tied with Nordstrom). :)

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Boutique!!

Hey everyone! I will be doing a holiday boutique this Saturday, the 12th from 10-2pm at my friend Ashley's on Horner Way in Fremont. Heidi will be selling her wonderful Premier Jewelry with lots of holiday discounts. Ashley will be selling Arbonne Skincare products along with many wrapped gift baskets. I will be selling some of my floral wall art. Two other vendors will be there selling baby accessories including carseat covers, hairbows and more! We will be providing treats for all who come by! Come check it out and finish your Christmas shopping! There is sure to be something for everyone. While you're there, be sure to sign up for our FREE giveaways!!
Horner way is just off of Peralta just before you get to Shin Park on your way to Mowry. I'll have an exact address soon, but just so you know the location. We'll have signs up and around the day of also. Please come by even if you have no intentions of buying anything. Heidi and Ashley both do home shows giving the host of the party the chance to win a number of free gifts, so you could talk to them about that. And it will just be a fun time, so drop by!!

This is what I'm selling :)

So Mark your calendar!!! December 12th, this Saturday, 10-2

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Classic Gingerbread


Makes 18
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 teaspoons powdered egg whites (meringue powder)


1.In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in egg and molasses. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days, or freeze up to 3 months (thaw before baking).
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. Working with one disk at a time, place dough on lightly floured parchment paper, and roll out to 1/8 inch thick, dusting lightly with flour as needed. Using paper, lift dough onto two baking sheets; freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
3.Remove paper and dough from baking sheets. Using a long offset spatula, loosen dough from paper. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and brush off any excess flour. Transfer to baking sheets. (Gather scraps, briefly freeze, and re-roll.)
4.For softer cookies, bake 8 to 10 minutes; for crunchier cookies, bake 11 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
5.Make icing: In a large bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, powdered egg whites, and 1/4 cup water (if needed, adjust consistency with confectioners' sugar). Transfer icing to a pastry bag with a small tip, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and snip a small hole in one corner. Decorate cookies as desired, and store in a single layer in airtight containers.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Oh how I love anything Gingerbread!!!

So I've been looking around and trying to figure out what gingerbread recipes I want to try and I want to try all of them!! Next week I'll have plenty of personal kitchen time, so I'll have a few of my own, but for now, you'll have to settle with Martha Stewart, who is my favorite by the way. And everyone loves cupcakes!!

Gingerbread Cupcakes:

2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulphered molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

1.Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 10 jumbo muffin tins with paper baking cups, and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
2.In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Beat in the brown sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in the eggs.
3.Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full, making sure that the batter is divided evenly. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cupcakes cool a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Butter Glaze:

Makes 1 1/2 cups, or enough for 10 large cupcakes
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk
1.Place 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Remove the pan from heat; immediately pour the melted butter into the bowl with the sugar. Add 4 teaspoons milk; whisk until mixture is smooth. Working quickly, dip the top of each cupcake into the glaze, and place cupcake right-side up on a wire rack.
2.Repeat step 1; glaze remaining cupcakes. Allow glaze to set, about 20 minutes, before decorating.

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Washington Football..working their way to the top!

Todd and the Wittmer family have managed to coach the huskies all the way to the NCS finals!!! It's been awhile since Washington has managed to make it this far (at least I think so) and we're so proud!! If they win this game they make it to the championships, how exciting is that!? The game is located at Pittsburg against Pittsburg. Martin, Jen, Heidi and myself will be driving out around 6 to make it to the game at 7. Hopefully any friends and family in the area will try their hardest to make it out there, or at least wish us luck!!

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Come visit me!!

I'm selling paintings like these (down below) on Saturday!!!!
(I may be taking only orders, not having them available to buy that day, but I'll have a few samples, and I can have them done as soon as you would want them.)
The Christmas Boutique will be located at...
Dina Star Dancers
15000 Farnsworth
San Leandro 94579

Heidi will be selling Premier Jewelry, and Ashley will be selling products from Arbonne, and I think there will be plenty of other tables set up as well. I don't know much about it to be honest. Heidi invited me to share her little booth, and I said "heck yes I will!"

So come visit us!! I believe the boutique is open from 10-5pm, on Saturday December 5th.

p.s. I'm having a wisdom tooth taken out today, wish me luck :(

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