Saturday, December 31, 2011


Looking for a dish to bring to a New Year's Eve party tonight? Well, look no further. I'm going to show you how to make one of my favorite desserts - tiramisu. I often make this for parties because my friends love it so much. It is actually a recipe by Tyler Florence that I found on The first time I made it, I was so overwhelmed and found it to be really time-consuming. But now that I've made it so many times, it's become so easy for me so I wanted to share these step-by-step instructions along with some pictures to make your first time making tiramisu easier than mine!

7 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sweet marsala, plus 2 tablespoons
8 ounces mascarpone, softened
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup brewed espresso coffee
1 ounce dark chocolate
1/4 cup rum
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
48 ladyfingers
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

The ladyfingers will probably be the most difficult item to find. In the past, I've been able to find them at my local Publix in the cookie aisle, but the last couple times I made this, I had to go to a specialty grocery store like The Fresh Market. They are about $3 a package. Also, the only rum I had was vanilla flavored rum, which worked out fine. I would suggest just buying a miniature bottle at your local liquor store (they're usually located near the register) because that's all you will need. They're only about $0.99 each.

Cream together egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.

For this step, I used a double-boiler. If you don't have one, you can get one for about $20 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Or you can improvise by stacking two saucepans on top of each other.

Add 1/3 cup of the marsala and continue to whisk until mixture is thick and doubled in volume. This is basically a zabaglione. Remove from heat.

Here is what it will look like once you are finished whisking.

Stir in the mascarpone until completely blended.

This is the brand of mascarpone that I use. You can find it in the gourmet cheese section of your local grocery store. Think of it as fancy cream cheese. In fact, if you can't find this, then cream cheese would be your substitute. I've never tried that before so I'm not sure how it will turn out. I highly recommend that you take the extra effort to find mascarpone, even if it means you have to take another trip to a different grocery store.

Here is what it will look like after you stir in the mascarpone.
In a small saucepan, combine espresso, chocolate, rum, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons marsala. Heat gently, and stir to dissolve the chocolate. Then, chill the mixture to cool it down, about 15 minutes.

Here is my saucepan that I bought at T.J. Maxx years ago. I just think cooking is more fun when you have pretty cookware to work with!

While the coffee mixture is cooling, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks in a chilled bowl. Here, my wonderful KitchenAid mixer doing all the work for me.

After about a minute.

After about two minutes.

Here's what "soft peaks" will look like. There's really no set time for this. You just have to watch it.

Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten.

Here is what it will look like after you are finished folding in the whipped cream.

Quickly dip each ladyfinger in the chilled coffee mixture and arrange in a sinlge layer on a 9"x13" glass baking pan. Do not soak the cookies or they will become too moist. A lot of people ask me if I soak them overnight. NO! In fact, just a quick little dip is all it takes. The cookies are very absorbent and will eventually soak in all the coffee mixture and become very soft. 

Here is the brand of ladyfingers that I use. Grocery stores sometimes sell ladyfingers in the frozen foods aisle. I've never used those before so I'm not sure how that would turn out. I would recommend using the ones found in the cookie aisle.
Spread 1/2 the mascarpone cream evenly with a spatula on top of the dipped ladyfingers. Don't worry about making this first layer look perfect. It's just going to be covered up anyway. In fact, I would put a little less than half the mixture on this first layer just to ensure I have enough to cover the top layer.

Repeat with a second layer of dipped ladyfingers and remaining mascarpone cream.

Sprinkle top with cocoa powder. For this, I use a squeeze handle sifter and just lightly squeeze for just the right amount of powder. You don't want to squeeze too hard or else you'll get a huge clump in the middle of your tiramisu (I've done this before and trust me, you don't want that much powder. First of all, it just looks bad and secondly, the taste will be too strong). 
Here is a side view.

Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Anthropologie Tied-Shoulder Tank

I'm really liking the Anthropologie Tied-Shoulder Tank that was featured in their latest catalogue.

Anthropologie Tied-Shoulder Tank

I love the stripes and the pleated details along the neckline. It just looks like a really easy stop to wear - no need for a layering camisole underneath or a strapless bra. You can throw it on over jeans, skirts, shorts, and some linen pants for an easy-breezy beachy look. This top just makes me excited for the spring and summer months ahead! And with my Anthropologie birthday discount and the gift card that Valerie gave me, I just might have to purchase this top.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cottage By The Seaside Shoppes

John and I found this little shop while driving around Jax Beach today. We were in search of some antique shops so we could find some dining chairs for our new table. I really liked a lot of the furniture pieces in this store. The only thing is - they're not antiques. They're just mass-produced furniture painted over to give it that shabby chic look, which I love. Although that takes away from the value of the furniture, it still looks great so who cares? You can even bring in your own furniture and they'll paint it for you to give it that shabby chic finish. Here are some of the pieces that I liked.

See? Just mass-produced.

I love vintage suitcases and this was probably one of the only pieces in the store that was actually antique.

I really like this bracelet.

I though this was such a cute little side table that we could've put in our guest room.

Have I mentioned that I like yellow?

I just really liked the bright blue color of this dresser.

Cottage By The Seaside Shoppes is located at 228 4th Avenue South in Jacksonville Beach.

Sugarfoot Chic

John and I went to this amazing antique shop in Jacksonville Beach today in search of some dining chairs. Although we didn't find any chairs, we did find some other goodies. John really liked this apothecary cabinet that was actually salvaged from a shop in London and somehow made its way to this little shop in Jax Beach.

The owner was selling it for $4500, which is what she paid for it. She didn't know a lot of background information on it, but guessed that it was built somewhere in the 1950s. It's such a unique and interesting piece, but John and I simply couldn't afford the steep $4500 price tag. How cool with this have looked in our home though? All the drawers would have provided so much storage and the shelves would have been great for displaying little trinkets and knick knacks.

Of course, I found my was to the clothing section, where I tried on a couple pieces that I liked.

The tag on this top read "Saved By The Bell Top." Does it really look that 90s? John thought it looked very 80s, which I agree with given the red and blue print. But I loved the puff sleeves and the peter pan collar. I really wanted to take this one home with me (it was only $12!) but I just wasn't sold on the print. If only it had been a different color...

I really loved this little cardigan. It reminds me of something Emma Pillsbury from Glee would wear. So adorable. This sweater was $32.

If any of the pieces above caught your eye, there's a lot more great things to be seen in her store so be sure to check out Sugarfoot Chic located at 1013 N Third Street in Jacksonville Beach (across the street from Salt Life Food Shack).

Rita's Italian Ice

John and I went to Rita's this afternoon for some custard treats :) He usually gets the cherry italian ice with vanilla custard. Today, I decided to get the custard swirl with rainbow sprinkles. It was delicious!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kate Spade Eat Cake For Breakfast Tote

When I opened up my email this morning, I found an email from Kate Spade with a picture of this really cute and quirky tote.

Eat Cake For Breakfast Tote by Kate Spade

How fun is this bag?! And I actually happened to eat cake for breakfast this morning (my mother-in-law's super delicious carrot cake that she made for us on Christmas)!

J. Crew Hot Dot Bikini

Hot Dot Bikini by J. Crew
Top $52, bottoms $50

I absolutely LOVE the retro styling of this bikini. The polka dots are so cute. Plus, the high-wasted ruching on the bottoms are great for slimming your midsection. Another bonus is the boning on the sides and the lightly padded cups for support. It's made of nylon/Lycra spandex and the color is fade resistant. 

Orla Kiely Cross Hatch Stem Print Midi Sling Bag

Try saying that ten times fast...

Again, John is so wonderful. This was a purse that I wanted months ago, but simply couldn't afford it. Well, again, he bought it months ago and had been hiding it at his parent's house. He really outdid himself this year with the Christmas presents!

The color is a mix between grey and lavender with Orla Kiely's signature stem print in white with a mustard yellow (grey and yellow are one of my favorite color combinations).

I love this purse so much! The straps are adjustable so you can wear it on your shoulders or as a cross-body bag. As with most of Orla Kiely's purses, this bag is made of cotton with a PU coating. It also has leather trimmings with a magnetic closure. And the inside has a pretty green cotton lining with a zippered pocket and key ring.

Orla Kiely iPad Case

My husband is simply amazing. He knew I REALLY wanted the Orla Kiely iPad Case and that I was so disappointed when it sold out online in both the UK and US websites. Well, it turns out he bought it for me months ago when I first laid eyes on it and told him how cute I thought it was. I thought it was so sweet of him to remember how much I wanted it and how he bought it way in advance in order to get it for me for Christmas. And I was BEYOND excited when I opened this on Christmas morning.

Front View 

Back View

The brown leather band actually has velcro so you can remove it and fold it into a stand. Also, one of the great features of this case is the ability to rotate your iPad so you can view it in a landscape or portrait orientation.


Landscape View 

Portrait View

This case is made of cotton with PU coating (which makes it easy to wipe clean) with leather trimmings and a super soft polyester lining to protect your iPad screen from getting scratched. It also has a button closure.

Button closure on leather band

This case makes my iPad that much more fun to use. And another bonus: it's made in Turkey :)