Author Archives: The Sweet Life

Family! Fun! Boston! (and Marblehead!)

image_23The whole Martin clan came to Boston this weekend to move in my sister, aka my and Mike’s roomie for the summer. We adventured around Copley Square on Saturday, including a stop at Restoration Hardware and, OMG. I’m moving in. Mike told me 1000000 times I would love it there, but obvi I didn’t listen until I actually went to shop visit. Beeeaa-uuuty.

On Sunday we spent the day in Marblehead, with perfect weather and an impromptu photo shoot or two (see last photo). Family fun for all ;)

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How to Beat the Heat: A Photo Essay

image_15It was hawwwwwt in Boston this weekend. 95 degrees-sweating by 8AM-get me near a fan rightnoworI’mgoingtolose it HOT. Mike and I spent the weekend beating the heat, and – despite the constant state of sweating – it ended up being one of our favorite weekends in Boston!

So you wanna #beattheheat? Here’s what you can do…

image_21Step one: ICE CREEAAAAM, duh. Rainbow sprinkles FTW.

image_17Step two: Get near the water, ASAP. We took the ferry out to Spectacle Island and it was perfect! It was pretty deserted and we found a little spot of beach to have a picnic and dip our toes in the water. image_18

image_19image_16image_13 image_12 image_11 image_9 image_8 image_14 image_7 image_6 image_5image_4Step three: Recruit someone else to make dinner for you. Why sweat in the kitchen when you can have your own personal chef making you grilled pizzas??! Thanks, Mike and Katy!image_3 image_2 image_1 imageimage_3Step four: Find some more water. Get in it. Try not to get eaten by a snapping turtle.

imageStep five: Find some shade. Get in touch with your natural side.

image_2 image_1Step six: YOGURTLAND. One just opened in Coolidge Corner and OMG. OH.mg. The flavors are out of this worrrrld and? Unlimited free samples. Get on it.

Step seven: Decide that the day your apartment reaches the highest temperature is the day you’re going to clean it out. Assist your roommate (ahem, MIKE) in cleaning out their closet (ahem, FIFTY T-SHIRTS [and one pair of soccer cleats FROM HIGH SCHOOL] LATER) and collect a dumpster-sized mass of garbage and donations. Feel suuper zen after ridding your apartment of all Mike’s the clutter.*

Step eight: Fall into bed after a full and glorious weekend and try to figure out how to sleep in a way that the bed/sheets/blankets/your clothes don’t touch your ridiculous left-shoulder, right-kneecap sunburn. Make a mental note to get better at applying sunscreen.

*This has nothing to do with beating the heat. I just needed the world to know that Mike has been hoarding t-shirts (and millions of various other items, see: this insane glove collection) and my intervention saved him.

Memorial Day in Maine

image_28Hi friends! How was your Memorial Day weekend??

Mike and I took the train to Maine on Saturday to meet our friends Liz and Dave in Portland. We hit up Shipyard and Duckfat (obv), then headed to camp for some good old fashioned relaxation. We sat around the fire, made peanut butter cup s’mores, visited Freeport to hit up the JCrew outlet 50% sale (!!), stumbled upon a field of frolicking baby cows (truly!), accidentally-on-purpose wore red, white and blue pants to showcase our Memorial Day spirit, and had a cookout on Monday just as the sun finally peeked out. Another awesome Maine weekend!

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Rockport & Gloucester

image_6I’m baaaack! I’m going to try my hand at a more casual approach to blogging – more life updates/photos, fewer recipes, same amount of crazy stories of my adventures. I hope you’ll stick around!

Mike’s parents came to visit this past weekend, and we took a day trip up to Rockport and Gloucester. We hit up Halibut Point State Park, ate lobster rolls by the ocean, and just be-bopped around. It was a beautiful day!image_1 image_2 image image_13 image_3 image_4 image_5 image_7 image_8 image_9 image_10 image_11 image_12

 

Taking a Moment (or two or three…)

DSC_0121Hi, friends!

I’m here to apologize for my major absence this past month. I wish I had a really awesome explanation, like I just adopted a lion cub and am so busy taking care of it that I have no time for blogging – but the truth is, I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired.

I realized that baking, and taking pictures of things I bake, and writing about things I bake, was starting to feel like a chore. This whole thing started as a creative outlet and way for me to share my kitchen concoctions, silly stories, and love of sprinkles, and I never want it to feel like I’m doing it because I have to. So for now I’m taking a bit of a hiatus. It’s not goodbye forevs… I hope!

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be back tomorrow, or next week, or next month. But for now I want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! This blog has been the most fun and it’s been a blast to read all of your comments, be a part of the blogging community, and share my sweet life ;)

Catch ya on the flipside!

Springtime Happiness Cookie Cake

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Yesterday I walked all the way from Beacon Hill to Fort Point Channel to the Public Garden (that’s like, all of Boston) without. wearing. a coat.

Do you know what this means??? SPRING HAS SPRUNG.

#happydance

DSC_0171#happydance #happydance

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#HAPPYDANCE

So full of happy, in fact, that I finally concluded my blogging hiatus, dusted off my sprinkle cabinet, and baked you a giant cookie! So many colors! So much happy!

I know I’m like every other person in the world when I say I didn’t know I was in a deep dark cold-weather depression until I finally felt the warmth of the sun, but really? Can we ever talk about it enough? SPRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING. Blue skies and birds chirping! Colorful flowers and leaves on trees! NO MORE MITTENS!

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Also #happydance-inducing?? I baked this cookie using coconut oil instead of butter and it is reeeeal good. And there are rainbow sprinkles inside. Doo-dee-doo-dee-dooooo.

DSC_0158Springtime Happiness Cookie Cake (adapted from this cookie pie)

yield: one 9-inch cookie cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or unsalted butter) at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate M&Ms (or semisweet chocolate chips)
  • A handful of sprinkles, if you’re feeling extra happy

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease (or coat with cooking spray) a 9-inch* round cake pan. In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil and brown sugar together until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until fully combined.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir on low until the ingredients just come together; add 3/4 of the M&Ms and sprinkles and stir until incorporated.
  3. Press the dough into the greased pan. Top with remaining 1/4 cup M&Ms. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Cool completely** on a wire rack, then remove from the pan and serve.

*You can use an 8-inch or 10-inch cake pan, whatever you have on hand. Just adjust the time by a few minutes (longer bake time for 8-inch, shorter for 10-inch) to account for the different size.

**Or.. don’t let it cool, top it with vanilla ice cream, and eat it straight from the pan. ;)

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

DSC_0180Lately I’ve been having tons of food revelations.

It started with kale chips. I’m pretty sure I’m the last being on earth to hop on the kale chip train. Like, WHAT have I been waiting for???? Kale chips are like eating air!!! Delicious, nutritious, super crispy air. I want kale chips all day every day UNTIL THE END OF TIME. Please remind me of this the next time I start resisting a trend.DSC_0168DSC_0154

Next: hard-boiled eggs. Umm…yeah. I really don’t have an excuse. I think I thought they weren’t good so I never bothered trying them but…WHY?! They make my salad 2352353262 bajillion times better! And more filling! Eggs!

Aside: I’ve decided I want to get chickens! We’ll talk about this later.

And speaking of salads… my sister recently introduced me to fresh peas on my salads. HELLO. I love how they *pop!* when you bite into them. The last time I ate peas I was 10 and had been pushing them around my plate for at least 2 hours, refusing to eat the one last bite that would release me from the dinner table. What was I thinking???? Peas! Duh! Yum!

Um, also? Lentils. I want to knock myself over the head. LENTILS ARE MAD YUMMY AND GOOD FOR YOU, MELANIE. WAKE UP. Cooked in a little vegetable broth and served with cous cous? Eeeeeattmeee.DSC_0153

And finally….baking without flour. Who knew it was possible? I certainly did NOT. I always thought the rules of baking were:

  1. Butter
  2. Sugar
  3. Eggs
  4. Flour
  5. Vanilla

So it came as a total surprise when I decided to bake cookies sans rule #4 and they came out AMAZINGLY.

W-O-W. Chewy ooey gooey melty goodness.

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Have you had any food revelations? What other delicious things am I missing out on??!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted very lightly from Martha Stewart)

yield: about 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chunky unsalted peanut butter (you could also use smooth or honey roasted, but I liked the texture of chunky PB best)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla on medium until smooth. Stir in the baking soda and salt until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  2. Roll the dough into balls, one heaping tablespoon* at a time. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Don’t let them overcook – you want them to be a bit gooey inside! Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

*I wanted my cookies to be a bit bigger so I made roughly 1 1/2-2 tablespoon balls of dough. If you do this, make sure to add about a minute of baking time.

A Photo Every Hour: Snow Day!

Here’s what I did on my (wonderful, but hopefully last) snow day…image7AM: Coffee.image_18AM: Multigrain waffles (recipe coming soon!)image_139AM: Before//after. Rearranged our bookshelf.image_1110AM: Before//after. In the organization MODE. Closet: tackled.image_211AM: Stop to smell the flowers.image_412PM: Mediterranean chickpea salad(ish) for lunch.image_61PM: Curl up with a good read.image_52PM: Stop to admire my bunting handiwork. Ponder the fluffiness of our bed. Naptime!image_93PM: Pretend to write a paper for class.image_34PM: Yoga.image_85PM: Flourless peanut butter cookies (also coming soon!)image_76PM: Raiiiiin (ice?) go awaaay.image_127-8PM: Roasted acorn squash and kale chips for dinner//Mike comes home!image_109PM: Brew some sleepytime tea. Set alarm for sooo earlyyyy. Cozy up in bed. Goodnight!

 

Mini Easter Cupcakes

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MINI EASTER BASKET CUPCAKES. Do you see that mini mini mini mini chocolate bun? DO YOU SEE IT??? I’m freaking out. Cute overload.

True life confession: I go into CVS/Walgreens every other day to look at the Easter candy display and I AM NOT ASHAMED. It’s something about the pastels and the 75 different kinds of marshmallow/caramel/coconut eggs and the cute bunnies and alllllllll thaaaat chooooocolate that makes me want to hippity hop for joy.

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So you can bet your bottom dollar that when I saw a bag of teeny chocolate bunnies while waiting in line to check out at Walgreens I literally had to restrain myself from yelling with glee. So teeny-tiny! So itty-bittyl! So perfect for perching atop a mini Easter cupcake!

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I must know: what’s your favorite kind of Easter candy? Are you a jellybean or chocolate kinda person? And what are your thoughts on PEEPS?! (It probably goes without saying but: love, love, love. Especially stale.)DSC_0173

DSC_0193Note: you could really make any kind of cupcakes, since the toppings/decorations are the most important part, but I went with banana + greek yogurt cupcakes since I had an extra-ripe banana lying around!

Mini Banana Greek Yogurt Cupcakes

yield: 24 mini cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 large overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin tin with 24 paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the mashed banana, oil, greek yogurt, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and beat on low (or fold with a rubber spatula) until just combined.
  2. Divide the batter evenly among the paper liners. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  3. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack. Top with your favorite buttercream or frosting, then dip in sweetened shredded coconut that has been mixed with green food coloring. Add jellybeans and mini chocolate bunnies (if you can find them!) to the center.

Triple Chocolate Baked Donuts

DSC_0005Yesterday in first grade we talked about using body language to show emotions. We talked about how crossing your arms means you’re probably angry or frustrated (Melanie on a sugar cleanse), head down means you’re probably sad or embarrassed (Melanie when she tries to dognap a puppy and the owner catches her), rolling your eyes means you’re probably annoyed (Melanie when she runs out of sprinkles), and eyes + mouth wide open means you’re probably surprised (Melanie when she discovers a new item at Trader Joe’s).

DSC_0033We also agreed that smiling probably means you’re happy (Melanie when she sees donuts).

Unless you have 75 stages of happiness – beginning with a smile and ending with a happy dance – in which case you’re forced to create a body-language-as-related-to-donuts taxonomy…

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Smiling THIS BIG (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air and occasionally fist pumping (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips covered in rainbow sprinkles).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air and occasionally fist pumping and twirling (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips covered in rainbow sprinkles on the first sunny and warm day in 4 months (!!!!!))

#happydance #happydance #happydance

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So…what makes YOU do a happy dance? And is it as *ahem* expressive as mine?

Triple Chocolate Baked Donuts (adapted very slightly from Shutterbean)

yield: about 9

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips or chunks

Note: the original recipe yields 6 donuts, but I ended up with 10, probably due to the addition of chocolate chunks and how I filled my donut pan with batter.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a donut pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir to combine the buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently fold the ingredients together. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  2. Transfer the batter to a large (don’t try to use a small bag! Batter explosion!) ziploc bag; snip off a corner and seal shut. Use the bag to pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling each well about 1/2-2/3 full (I err on the side of 1/2 full). Be careful not to overfill as the donuts expand quite a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the donut tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool completely on a wire rack. Top with chocolate glaze (recipe below).

Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the microwave or in a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, butter, corn syrup, and vanilla. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Dip the donuts in and twirl slightly to coat; top with sprinkles if you please!