Visiting Lisbon and Porto in Portugal was life changing. Not only is Portugal a beautiful country, it is full of life and culture. The people are lovely and the food is even lovelier. I must’ve had way more than my fair share of these beautiful, vanilla scented tarts during our 10 days in the country. But they were pretty irresistible! I mean, just look at these photos I snapped of the most delicious Pasteis de Nata I’ve ever had:
My mouth waters just looking at these images again…
There are some foods that just burn into your sense memory, and for me this was one of them. I will always remember not only the taste, but also the feeling of popping into tiny little backstreet bakeries and purchasing one that has literally just been taken out of the oven. Those experiences are rare and for me, worth trying to recreate.
The key to great Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) is actually quite simple.
Uber flaky pastry.
Super vanilla flavor.
Silky smooth custard.
oh, and let’s not forget the iconic dark spots on top (which are incredibly difficult to master in a home oven, but let’s give it a go, shall we?).
A few tips to help make the best Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) possible: Take care in rolling the pastry properly. We want flakiness and lots of layers! Also, be sure to whisk your custard like mad: no lumps here! And lastly: don’t skimp on the vanilla. It takes your tart from ordinary to extraordinary! Get ready for your cheapest ever vacation to Portugal!
Look at the spiral on the bottom of the pastry! This is where your hard work rolling and cutting the pastry pays off! So many layers of flakiness!
I’m looking out the window to a marble gray sky that seems like at any moment it will burst into tears. As little drops begin to form on the window I find comfort in a slice of the Best Ever Banana Bread because honestly, it just makes life better. I have to admit, one of my favorite things about Banana bread is not eating, but smelling the sweet scent of it baking in the oven. It really is the best thing in the world. There are very few aromas that are truly irresistible, like freshly baked bread or warm chocolate chip cookies, and Banana Bread even more so.
This bread is great because it is so moist because of the super ripe bananas. They also give this bread a great sweetness that is so natural and not ‘sugary’. This is great because you really can eat a whole lot of it for breakfast and not feel like you’re eating cake! There’s also a whole teaspoon of salt in this recipe, which somehow also makes it slightly savory. It is perfect when smeared with slightly salted butter.
Even though I really enjoy the soft crunch of texture that the walnuts give to this bread, feel free to use pecans or even remove the nuts if you have allergies. You could replace the nuts with raisins or other dried fruit, or even throw in some dark chocolate or peanut butter chips! Talk about a delicious loaf of (banana) bread!
Another reason why I call this recipe the Best Ever Banana Bread is because of how easy it is to make. Throw all the ingredients into a mixer and, bam! Ready to bake and filling your house with the glorious scent of homemade yumminess.
It seems like all I’ve been thinking about recently is France. I’ve bought a few books about living, eating and loving in Paris and have been inspired to go back. Do I even need to mention David Lebovitz’s blog? That’s an incentive to get on a long flight in itself! I began looking through photos of our last trip to Paris, which was actually part of our honeymoon tour, and I longed for the feeling of sitting outside a Patisserie and enjoying the little sweet treats in the summer sunshine. At this point I had two options: book a trip to Paris, or make something to make me feel Parisian in my own home. So what did I do? Both of course!
So I immediately booked a train for a weekend away at the end of May (WHOOO HOO!), unwrapped the Madeleine pans that my husband had given me for Christmas (he must have predicted this!) and I got cookin’. When making Classic French Madeleines, you need to prepare in advance and make sure you read the recipe at least twice before beginning. You need the correct equipment (two 12 hole madeleine tins) and also the time for this recipe, as the batter needs to rest in the fridge and you need to chill the pans in the freezer before baking.
These little French cakes are almost more cookie than cake. They are like a delicate little sponge with a crisp biscuit like case. They are lemon and vanilla scented bites that will transport you straight to the cobbled back streets of Paris. These super cute cakelets are best enjoyed the day you’ve made them (trust me!) but if you are getting ahead and serving the next day, do not dust with the powdered sugar after baking, wait until just before serving to enjoy them at their best. They can be stored for a few days in an airtight container.
Aren’t they just the cutest little things you’ve ever seen? They would be the perfect thing to bring to a girlie brunch or for a little snack with a pot of tea or coffee. I need to explore more flavor combinations as an excuse to make lots of them!Continue reading →
February… really? I’ve definitely gotten over that fuzzy feeling you get when it’s cold outside- because it’s absolutely freezing! But while we’ve been pretty luck so far weather-wise (fingers crossed!) I still felt like I needed a little boost. Something to remind me of warmer days and to help me imagine those soon to come.
All these thoughts about the days hotting up got me thinking about the summer and more importantly, our summer vacation. We haven’t been back to the beautiful US of A since our wedding, and this summer it will be a whole three years (gasp!) since then. So of course, heading home to the land of the free in on the top of my list of destinations at the moment. But- the travel monster needs feeding, and we’re hoping to stop over in…
Ah I think I’ve got to stop writing and book our flights!
So let’s make this short, but oh so sweet. This is a fab recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Scones. They are so buttery and flaky and dotted throughout with tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries. What’s brilliant is that they’re also incredibly fluffy inside, not too dense like some store bought scones. They are perfect with a big cup of tea! The other thing that’s great about the scones is that they are so easy. Just pulse the dough in the food processor, fold in the fruit, shape and bake! I have used this scone recipe many times with other fruits as well, and I particularly like the combination of blueberries and lemon zest or blackberry and orange zest.
So, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, whip up some delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Scones for the one you love, and dream of exciting things to come.
There aren’t many things that I keep going for longer than 3 years. I’ve only been married for two, just as long as I’ve been teaching, and my hobbies and interests seem to change by the day. (Don’t even get me started on the diet and exercise regime!) But this blog has been a constant for me over the last 3 years. Always there to help me express myself and allow an outlet for my creativity. I really did feel the need to celebrate this year, and what better way is there to celebrate than to make Funfetti?
I always had my fingers crossed when I went to a fellow 8 year old’s birthday party. Why? No it wasn’t about the piñata or the goodie bags, but rather I wished that the cake would be Funfetti. I really don’t think there’s anything more magical when you’re a kid. How did they get all those specks of the rainbow into that cake? How do they manage to get all that vanilla flavor packed in? Why is it the best cake ever? All these questions and more had plagued 8 year old, just getting interested in cooking, little me. But as I grew older, the traditional birthday parties stopped and so did the endless stream of Funfetti cakes. Soon Funfetti was just a childhood dream.
When I started this blog, however, Funfetti had made a comeback in a major way. Does anything look prettier on Pinterest? Anyway, living in England, I’ve never been able to find proper rainbow sprinkles and had to make do on what I picked up when visiting the States or that my Mom ships over for me (Thanks Mom!). But with my little blog’s 3rd birthday here, I wondered why I was hoarding sprinkles rather than allowing them to show off. Hello there, Homemade Funfetti Cake…
This is a great little cake. Not only is it pretty darn simple, it’s pretty darn delicious too! Packed full of moisture because of the greek yogurt, this cake is brimming with vanilla and most importantly: sprinkles! The vanilla buttercream is the most creamy frosting I’ve eve made, and because it uses cream, really does make this a celebration treat. Just a note when making the frosting, be sure your ingredients are room temperature or it may turn out grainy and require extra whipping!
Some of my favorite treats as a kid were those that had peanut butter. PB & J sandwiches, peanut butter cups, peanut shaped sandwich cookies, peanut butter filled pretzels and the list goes on and on. Not till I moved to England did I realize how much the rest of the world lacks in peanut butter filled products. So eventually my need for peanut butter grew and grew until I just snapped. The search for the Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies was on.
The Perfect Peanut Butter Cookie is different for everyone. I love lots of peanut butter flavor packed in, with a delicate balance of crumb and chew. For me, they must be soft and slightly fluffy with a real sweet and salty hit. So it shouldn’t be too hard to make the perfect peanut butter cookies, should it?
I have made loads of peanut butter cookies before, but these are one of my favorites. I keep going back for the rich peanut butter flavor and the fact that they last a long time if stored well. It’s great when you want to make a little selfish batch to fill the cookie jar for the week!
This is a great recipe because there aren’t too many ingredients and it’s super easy to whip together in a pinch. They actually don’t need too much chilling time (as little as 30 minutes) so they can be in the oven and filling your house with the delicious scent of peanut butter before you know it! It’s got me thinking about making them again now. I even think next time I might add dark chocolate chips… mmmm.
Another year over? Time does fly when you’re having fun (and extremely busy moving, taking care of a husband and a puppy, or starting a new job!). This year I gave the blog a new look, tried some more adventurous things and learned so much. Mac and Cheese recipes were a favorite of not only yours, but mine too!
Here are the most popular recipes of 2014, ending with your favorite recipe of the year! What did you lovlies enjoy most? Let me tell you, I really enjoyed looking through the Best of 2014 recipes while writing this post- they are good ones! Here are the Top 10 recipes of 2014…