Category Archives: baking

Trifles and Patriotism

What’s red, white and blue and inappropriately timed on a random weekend between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July?

Sarah’s version of a triple berry trifle of course.

Because why would someone make this in time for the first patriotic holiday of the year, or instead wait until the second patriotic holiday of the year when they could randomly decide to bring it to a friend’s house for dessert on a completely plain Sunday?

If the above statement sounds like you then we should be friends. If you are my husband, stop rolling your eyes at yet another moment when your wife threw things together at the last minute and pretended like it was in the works all along. That’s just how she rolls and you married her so let’s just grab a spoon and dig in together shall we?

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The nice thing about trifles is that they are fairly easy to make. In fact, it typically takes more time to gather and chop the ingredients than it does to put the entire thing together.

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You may remember this recipe from a few years ago. If you want to revisit it and see how cute and tiny my friend’s little girl was at the time, head on over to the previous post to check it out.

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If you’re like me and you remake a recipe forgetting that you actually made and posted it already three years ago then stick around and read below for the aforementioned triple berry trifle revisited.

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Triple Berry Trifle (feeds 4-6 or 1-2 depending on how hungry the fellas are)

  • 1 package shortcake cups, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint raspberries

Pudding Layer:

  • 6 TBL sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 C cold water
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 9 oz fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a medium bowl, whisk water and sweetened condensed milk until combined. Add pudding mix and stir for another minute or so. Let mixture set for 1-2 minutes. Fold in cool whip. Set aside.

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Start with a layer of cake and then alternate blueberries/raspberries, pudding mixture and sliced strawberries. Repeat until you reach desired height, run out of ingredients, or just become disgusted at just how large that trifle dish is. Feel free to get creative once you reach the top layer or just copy the photo like I do whenever I’m re-creating a recipe “on my own.”

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Confessions of a lonely extrovert

Editor’s note: I started writing this post two weeks ago when Matt was still in France. Then I picked it up and finished it a week ago after my family left town except I never hit publish. Please forgive me for the segmented nature of the following excerpts. Just further proof of my struggle as a halfway blogger.

They say introverts relish in quiet time alone. That spending too much time in a loud setting with lots of activity and people can cause them to shut down in an effort to conserve energy. That downtime is not a waste of time but rather necessary and satisfying.

I am not an introvert.

So you can imagine how an extremely extroverted person deals with their spouse being away on a work trip for 12 days?

  • First and foremost, she has a lot of conversations with her dog.
  • She also shops because well, shopping, but also the majority of retail workers are also extraverts and she finds comfort in random musings with strangers.
  • She spends equal amounts of time at the gym and fresh kitchen.
  • She bakes.

Yes, you read that correctly. She bakes. She finally throws some flour and sugar in a bowl a bakes a flippin’ cake. Remember when this blog actually had photos of cakes in regular rotation?

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I appreciate the concern of my mother(s). After all, I do mention nearly every month that [insert holiday] is my favorite holiday so I can understand their sympathy calls and flight searches at the thought of me spending one alone. Fortunately, both seemed happy to hear that I was bribing my way into someone else’s home with four layers of sugary sunshine and the return of Matt and a visit from my sister just a few days later.

*Let’s discuss the awkwardness that is Fuller House another time

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Easter Layer Cake 

  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened (can substitute 1/2 C vegetable shortening if you want)
  • 3 C sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 C flour (sifted)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Ideally this is the time to grease and flour all four of your cake pans. Oh you don’t have four cake pans? Me neither. I somehow only have three so grease and flour what you have and set aside.

In a stand mixer, whip butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar 1 cupat a time. Add eggs one at a time until each is combined.

In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

In a liquid measure, combine milk, buttermilk and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients into wet one cup at a time, alternatingbetween milk mixture and flour. Try not to overmix.

Place four medium bowls out on your counter. Divide batter into each bowl evenly. For me it was just under 2 cups of batter per bowl. I like to use gel food coloring as I find it’s a little more accurate. For this version, I just used my pastel set of gel colors and added them separately to each 2 cup bowl.

Once your layers are colored, pour the first two into your two baking pans andbake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. These layers are thin so they will cook relatively quick.

Remove from oven and let cool on rack for 5-10 minutes. Add a layer of parchment or wax paper to your rack before you flip them out of the pan to make turning easier for you when they are cool.

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Once your second batch is out of the oven and cooling you can start on your buttercream icing. This stuff is indulgent so I usually keep it pretty thin. That being said both times I’ve made this cake I’ve had to make extra buttercream icing to get it covered so go ahead and make a bunch.

Buttercream Icing

  • 3-4 C powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 TBL whipping cream

Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Cream butter in a stand mixer and add powdered sugar slowly so as not to go all King James on your kitchen. Add vanilla and cream and whip it until peaks form. Refrigerate it until you are ready to ice the cake.

Once your layers are cool, wrap each of them in plastic wrap and freeze them for a few minutes. this will make the icing process much easier. Do a rough ice and then finish it off with, you guess it, more buttercream.

Top it with a little toasted coconut and Cadbury mini eggs and your ready to go! layer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakelayer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakelayer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cake

 

on missing birthdays

I don’t hate much. In fact, I’m one of those optimists that manages to see the teeny tiny glimmers of hope in generally pretty awful people even when I’m trying not to. Current exceptions being Donald Trump and fire ants but let’s get into that once both pests are no longer affecting us, shall we?

But if I had to place ‘hate’ on one thing in my life, it would be missing birthdays. A learned behavior I’m sure, I have a really tough time not physically being there for loved one’s birthdays. OK, anyone’s birthday really. I was looking at the calendar and realized that Finn may spend his 4th birthday with a dog sitter this coming July and actually felt a pang of guilt 4 months ahead of the date for goodness sake.

Birthdays are big in my family. We’ve chatted about this in previous posts (examples here and here), specifically referring to my physiological need to be present at any and all family birthdays, something I’m trying to adapt to living a few states away now. But as each day approaches, I can’t help but feel a little FOMO (fear of missing out non-millennial readers) for “missing” another birthday.

So on this sunny March 12th spring (ok, high of 82 spring) morning, my body may be out avoiding the fire ants in the garden and possibly hitting the pool this afternoon, but my heart is back in Illinois celebrating my mom’s 65th birthday.

And yes, despite the fact that stranger’s assume she’s also my dad’s daughter sometimes, she’s 65 today!

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And based on that last photo, I’m starting to think she may care that Matt’s not there a little more than me. Geesh!

So while I can’t be there to enjoy the delicious looking birthday/St. Patrick’s day themed cake that Jake picked out for mom last night, thanks to technology I was able to sing along and watch her blow out the candles from afar.

I’m blessed to have a mom that squeals with as much excitement for scone and a cup of coffee as she does for a new sweater and cookbook, the former being what you can look forward to the next time you visit.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Here’s a photo of a cake from three years ago. We love you!

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Cookies and Catch Up

Great news, guys. The Murphalewski Bed and Breakfast just wrapped four straight weeks of out-of-town guests. That means 7 midwesterners are entering the winter season a little bronzer than usual and many local restaurant staffers here in Sarasota are actually starting to think I have friends. It’s a win-win!

Now you may be asking if I’m glad the four-week rush is over. Truth is, I loved having our friends and family stay with us. Each visit came with a reminder of how blessed we are to have friends and family that love us enough to leave crappy weather behind and sit on the beach all day. We realize our location may benefit us this time of year but regardless, we appreciate the time and effort (and flight delays) spent coming to visit.

So what have I been doing with all my free time since the last houseguest left on Sunday? Baking cookies of course.

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It seems like the only thing I have to show for the last 4 weeks, aside from the slightly increased body fat percentage, are pictures of cookies long ago eaten by co-workers.

It’s not like me to leave you hanging over a holiday weekend without some sort of ode to a sweet treat on the blog, but I’ve been sidetracked. You see, I’ve been trying to come to grips with the fact that our entire shopping district has been lit up like Rockafeller Center on Christmas Eve since October 24th. I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure out in what world this is acceptable but then I remembered a saying my dad always says this time of year.

You know, this might be the last nice day we have to put the Christmas lights up so we better get to it. 

Wait. I’m sorry. He usually waits until an ice storm is in the vicinity around December 20th to say that. And they still live in Illinois so…

So in spite of the extremely prematurely lit palm trees and unseasonably hot temperatures, I thought I’d share a few photos from the last four weeks to catch you up.

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but how about that sweet lady in the background?

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IMG_5484sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesIMG_5482sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesAnd now you know what my photostream looks like. I’ve got two weeks until Thanksgiving and our next visitors so if you need me I’ll be either running or napping in preparation. Happy Friday!

 

How to ruin a perfectly good batch of pumpkin scones

You want to know something funny about these pumpkin spice scones?

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I threw them in the trash shortly after taking these photos.

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Why? Because pumpkin is the spice of life people. Well, specifically, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves are the actual spices of life in the fall but you get the idea.

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Truth is, these just didn’t have enough spice. And shame on me for not following my own recipe and trusting a pumpkin spice blend from anywhere other than Penzey’s to give me the proper amount of spice to my pumpkin.

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I think the lesson we all learned in this experiment (or that I learned so you don’t have to) is not to substitute when it comes to baking, and especially when it comes to those fragrant little spices that fill your kitchen with autumn awesomeness.

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The good news is, unlike my batch, I have a recipe that won’t let you down. Just believe me when I say you should take the time to individually mix your spices and not rely on a shortcut spice blend, even if it does come from a reputable organic store that rhymes with bader moes.

Pumpkin Spice Scones with Pumpkin Glaze

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 C pure pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBL milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, brown sugar, spices, baking soda, banking powder and salt. Cut butter into dry mixture.

In another bowl, whisk pumpkin, egg, milk and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined.

Press into flat circle about 1 inch thick. Cut into 8 large triangles and place on a prepared baking sheet.

Cook for 10-12 minutes or until firm.

In a small bowl, mix 1/2 C powdered sugar with 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp ginger and 2 TBL milk.

Once scones are cool, ice with spiced glaze.

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Do it right and you won’t dare throw these things anywhere but into your belly.

 

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Sometimes I feel like that guy you went on a first date with and afterwards he says you should hang out again soon but then you don’t hear from him for two-plus weeks. And you’re probably over there on the other end of your computer or smart phone like what the heck? I thought we hit it off?

Should I shoot over a random text that says I’m interested without saying I’m interested. You know something like, “hey.” A simple reminder that you’re waiting for an update, but not desperately waiting, just you know, waiting.

Meanwhile that guy you’re dating (me in this case) actually really wants to hang out with you again but keeps getting sidetracked by work, work events and events for work and hasn’t gotten around to making the necessary efforts to plan your next date.

OR, this is just my really roundabout way of telling you that I’m sorry I keep going AWOL from the blog. I miss you and I’ll try to be better. And better I’ll be because today marks the start of the best season ever created once a year every year from now until eternity.

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I’ll try not to repeat my annual reminder post about how obsessed every girl everywhere is with the fall season as I’m sure the amount of blanket scarves, over the knee boots and PSL snaps and instagrams you’ve seen today are reminder enough.

Instead, I’d like to use this time to revisit my baking of the inaugural batch of pumpkin apple muffins, a task just a wee bit more challenging to get motivated for when it’s still 90 degrees outside and you’ve already showered but can’t stop sweating from your run.

So without further ado. Give me all the pumpkin!

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Pumpkin Apple Muffins with Streusel Topping (makes 18-24)

  • 1 C unsweetened canned pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 2 C peeled and chopped apples (I used honeycrisp)
  • 2 1/2 C flour (I used half whole wheat, half all-purpose)
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 TBL pumpkin pie spice mix (cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Streusel Topping (Because, well, Streusel)

  • 2 TBL flour
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 TBL oats
  • 2 tsp butter

 

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk sugar, flour, baking soda, spice mix, soda and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, blend pumpkin, oil and eggs together.

Add dry ingredients into wet and mix until just combined. Add apples.

Scoop into prepared muffin tins and fill about 2/3 of the way.  Top with 1 tsp streusel topping per muffin.

Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

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Serve warm with butter. pumpkin apple muffins, pumpkin recipes, fall, autumn, muffins, breakfast, brunch, baking, recipes, pumpkin apple muffins, pumpkin recipes, fall, autumn, muffins, breakfast, brunch, baking, recipes,

If you need me, I’ll be out shopping for plastic pumpkins and gourds that won’t melt on my front porch this year.

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

springing into summer

Hey guys. Sarah here.

I figured since I’m paying to rent space here on the interwebs, I should make a concerted effort to chat with you guys a little more often. So here I am. Let’s chat.

Matt and I attended our last marriage prep workshop yesterday. Thanks be to God. Because what are sunny 80 degree Saturdays made for if not to spend the whole day in a church hall talking about conflict resolution and love styles with 16 other couples and facilitators who have never facilitated a class before. Don’t get me wrong. We learned a lot in both of our workshops, but being together for 5.5 years before you get married gives you a head start on the whole conflict resolution thing. As for love styles, a simple survey reminded us of another thing we’ve learned over the years. One of us will continue to give gifts and write out thoughtful birthday/valentine/just because cards for the partner who would rather spend quiet time together and the other one will meticulously clean the house and complete projects for the partner who would like it even more if they wrote a post-it with a simple smiley face on it.

You get the gist.

Truth is this whole marriage prep work has actually made us realize that we might actually have a good thing going here. Of course we’re in for the long run of hardships and rough patches like any marriage, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised how common our core values and goals are. And I suppose that’s better than the alternative sitting 60 days out from your wedding.

Moving on.

So I actually baked something this year for St. Patrick’s Day. I know it’s hard to believe but last weekend I started thinking about the responsibility that comes with having Murphy as your last name. You know like getting caught not wearing green on the 17th of March (never happens btw), not knowing how to properly cook corned beef or having a distaste for whiskey. Ok so that last one I really tried to get on board with post-college and I liked whiskey but it didn’t like me. The good news is the Polish are more fans of Vodka and that’s something I’m already on board with.

In all honesty I should probably start building up my tolerance for upcoming wedding festivities. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had hard liquor.

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Same old sugar cookies and royal icing that I’ve made in the past. You can find my sugar cookie recipe here.

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I forgot to mention that Matt finally returned from three weeks in Honduras so I let him open a few of our shower gifts.

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We’ve skipped right into summer weather down in these parts and I’m completely ok with it.

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Nearly forgot we ordered a new couch back in January.

IMG_9677 And Finn isn’t too thrilled that he’s not allowed on it just yet.

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We made up for all the time spent inside on Saturday by spending the day at Ed Smith Stadium watching the Cardinals play the Orioles. Beautiful stadium. Great game. Decent company.

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Have a great week!