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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

We have some special visitors coming to our house this weekend - Samantha and Baby Kate are going to be spending the night with us!  I'm planning a fun Cinderella movie night - the girls will be making their own pizzas and rice krispies with sprinkles. 

I wanted them to have another treat, too, for when they arrived so she knows how excited we are to have her.  Sam's a girly girl and loves anything with icing, so I thought these strawberry cupcakes would completely delight her.  And, after our trip to the Strawberry Patch we had to find a way to use all of our strawberries...

Here are some of our fresh from the field strawberries.  Many of the other pickers were picking 2 and 3 flats of berries, but as I said in our post, our trip to the berry patch was more about Emma having fun, so when she was done, we were done... which resulted in about 3 pounds.  Just enough to eat all we wanted and enough for this batch of strawberries.

I'm usually a white paper cupcake liner type of girl, but I just love these and thought they would make them a little more fun for the girls.  Here is a link to all of my favorite baking supplies and cupcake liners in my store.

The icing is a cream cheese icing with diced fresh strawberries mixed in - the pale pink color is completely from the strawberries mixed in the icing!

Fresh Strawberry  
with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

New! Printable Recipes, here.

1 white cake (mix or homemade)
1 cup of strawberries, diced
1 drop of red food coloring
1 stick of butter, softened
3 ounces of cream cheese, softened
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 cup of strawberries, diced  
whole strawberries, garnish

Prepare cake as directed then mix in diced strawberries.  Pour batter into paper-lined cupcake tins.   Bake as directed.  Let cool.

For frosting, mix together butter and cream cheese until smooth, then add powdered sugar and strawberries.  Mix on medium for 3-4 minutes.  When cupcakes are cool, frost generously and top with a strawberry.  Refrigerate.

I added just a drop of red food coloring to the batter because otherwise the baked strawberries make a brown colored cupcake.

The fresh strawberries makes the frosting just to the perfect color of pale pink... no food coloring needed!

Emma woke up from her nap just in time to sample... approved!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bacon & Potato Frittata | Easy Summer Brunch

This was a recipe that I posted 2-3 years ago when we lived in Concord.  I haven't made it since, but remembered it being delicious - and easy.   And it was.  They guys loved it because it was full of potatoes and bacon! 

Bacon & Potato Frittata 
with White Cheddar & Chives


serves 4-5

6 strips of bacon, diced
2 yukon gold or red potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons of butter
10 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
sea salt & cracked pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, cook diced bacon, butter & potatoes for 4-5 minutes until bacon renders the fat and the potatoes begin to soften.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, chives, salt and pepper.  Add eggs to the skillet and put in oven to bake for 15 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through.  Top with cheddar cheese and chives.  Serve in wedges. 

Bagel & Lox Platter | Simple Summer Brunch

Bagel & Lox Platter
for 4

When we go out to brunch, this is always my go to - especially in the summer.  It was the perfect option for this party because all I had to do was assemble it.

2 Sesame or Plain Bagels, sliced
6 oz. Cream Cheese, room temp
6 oz. Smoked Salmon or Lox*
Cherry Tomatoes

*I know that smoked salmon and lox aren't exactly the same thing, but they are similar enough for this - just use what you can find.  Make sure it is sliced very thin.

If you are organized, you can assemble this the night before... or right before, like I did.  You can also toast the bagel slices... which I also did.

This was a big hit - something most of us just order in restaurants, but is so easy to serve/assemble at home.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Simple Summer Menu : Lemon Basil Shrimp Skewers, Pesto Pasta, Tomato & Prosciutto Salad, Glazed Lemon Cake

When you think of backyard entertaining, burgers or steaks are usually on the menu.  If the crowd is right I like to take a fresher approach and serve pasta with Homemade Pesto Sauce
and Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp.

You can use any pesto for the pasta that you like - it is so much easier to make than you'd think.  The basil in my garden is not quite ready to harvest, so I bought a huge bunch to use at Trader Joes for just a couple of dollars.  I like the put the hot pasta in a big bowl straight from the pasta water and toss it with the pesto - the heat takes a little bit of the edge off of the fresh basil and raw garlic.

Recipes :

Homemade Pesto Sauce

Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp

For a simple, but elegant summer party you can't go wrong with hydrangea.  Here, I put them in a rustic pot to make them feel a bit more casual.  How-to, here >

Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp

This Tomato, Goat Cheese & Prosciutto Salad would be the perfect thing for a seated starter.

If it is more of a gather around sort of party, the Tomato Mozzarella Platter is always my go-to in the summer.  

This Glazed Lemon Cake is perfect ending for a summer party.  No one will say no to lemon - it always sounds so light and refreshing.

Shop the Summer Entertaining Collection for more entertaining ideas >

Friday, May 19, 2017

Recipes Index

- See more at:

Blue Hydrangea Cupcakes for Summer

I think it is so fabulous to be able to make something out of nothing. I love that with a few simple ingredients (hello, cake mix!) and tools, it is possible to make something really beautiful. These hydrangea cupcakes are a great example of making something really pretty out of nothing.

I've wanted to try these cupcakes for a long time. I love when the hydrangea are turning from bright blue to a deep blue, purple with touches of green. They are just amazing. I have a very generous neighbor that invited me to cut blooms from her bushes whenever I wanted... obviously, she didn't know what she was saying! Though tempting, I've only borrowed this one time to use as a centerpiece to go along with these cupcakes.

I used a box cake mix for the cupcakes - no shame. To set off the color of the blue "hydrangea" I used these Brown Cupcake Papers They are taller than standard cupcake papers, but still fit into a standard 2" cupcake pan. They make a bigger cupcake, which is nice when you use this much frosting.

Here is a link to the frosting recipe I use.

Products Used :

Celebration Candles - Seaside
Disposable Piping Bag
Jumbo Star Tip
Brown Cupcake Papers

 Fit the piping bag with a Jumbo Star Tip (I used these disposable bags (100 bags for $14) to make clean up easy).

To get the variegated blue/purple look,  I made the blue color first, set half of it aside...

Then mixed in a little red to make the purple color.  There is only a slight difference, making them look more realistic.  Can you see the streaks of purple?  It just sort of naturally happens when you put both colors in together.  I use a small spoon to help get it into each side of the bag.  You don't have to do it perfectly, just a little bit of each color makes them look great.

I'm trying a new thing - video!  Here is a little technique video to show you how I make them look as real as possible.  What do you think?  Do you want me to do more videos?

I served these for my sister's birthday, so I used Celebration Candles in Seaside.

Here is the Pin Strip!

Stay tuned for details on the Blue Hydrangea themed table setting tomorrow!

Resources :

Celebration Candles - Seaside
Cocktail Napkins - Seaside
Disposable Piping Bag
Jumbo Star Tip
Brown Cupcake Papers

Thursday, May 18, 2017


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Fresh Peaches with Sugared Scones | And... My New Store Coming Soon!

For last weekend's brunch I wanted to serve a dessert that was early day appropriate.  I thought about strawberry shortcake, but the local strawberry season has faded and I'm not a huge fan of shortcakes... but I do love scones (no surprise, right?).  And what about peaches?   Are peach shortcakes a thing?  

You'll notice in the photos that I've switched from using the silpat baking liner to pre-cut sheets of parchment paper.  We used them at the bakery I worked at in college.  I'm crazy about them - no cleaning and non-stick.  They are so nice to have around for packaging, too - work great for wrapping up loafs of banana bread.  I love them so much that they are going to be one of the items I am going to stock in my new... store!

That's right.  I've been working on developing an online shop (Update! Now available, here!) to be part of the blog that will contain all of my favorite things and things that I always get inquiries about.  I'll carry a variety of "everyday essentials" (like the parchment liners, hemstitch napkins, linen tea towels, candles, kraft cookie/cupcake boxes, etc.), mailable gifts and special seasonal items as well (like cozy throws and pillows in the Fall, and goodies gift packaging for the Holidays).  I'm also designing some custom products that I will carry, too.  I'd love your input on what you'd like to see in my store! 

Back to the scones : 

To make the simple scone a little more special, I added almond extract and crunchy sanding sugar.  The sugar gives great texture and crunch to the fluffy and moist scone.  To put it over the edge, I topped it with vanilla bean whipped cream. 

I can't tell you how good this is.  Silly good and very, very simple.  I think this is what shortcake is actually supposed to taste like!  I highly recommend baking them just before serving (they only take 10-12 minutes) so they are hot and fresh with the cold peaches and whipped cream - or ice cream.

Fresh Peaches with
Sugared Scones
and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

makes 12 small scones

2 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
egg yolk
course sanding sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
fresh peaches
lemon juice

In a mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt using the paddle attachment.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch pieces.  Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix on low until the butter is mixed in and is the size of peas.  In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, whipping cream and vanilla with a fork.  Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the cream and egg mixture.  Turn off the mixer once added.

Turn the dough out onto the floured surface.  Divide into 2.  Add some flour onto the top of the dough, then pat it out into a 2 disks - about 6 inches in diameter.  Cut the disks into 6 pieces like a pie.

Separate the pieces and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush on a little bit of a beaten egg yolk, then top with sanding sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.   

They are non-stick, too.  Perfect for cookies and scones, of course. 

Whip heavy cream with sugar and vanilla bean paste until fluffy - about 3-4 minutes.

Peel and slice peaches, then toss with lemon juice and sugar.  Serve scones sliced, topped with peaches and whipped cream.

Back to the store :

I'd love your help as I make final selections for the store.  What items do I often feature in my photos that you'd love to buy?  What sort of things would you like to see me carry?

If you want to pre-order the parchment paper sheets, just leave me a comment and I'll set some aside for you.  I'm thinking they will run about $12 for 200 sheets (that should be a year supply!).  What do you think?  Is that reasonable?  I'm verrrry open to feedback, so please, fire away!

Update : Visit my online store, here!
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