Tag Archives: baking

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.

 

candy corn sprinkle covered apple cider donuts

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!

Love Languages and Christmas Cookies

It’s hard to believe another Christmas is already upon us. A chance to look back on the past year and celebrate your accomplishments. A chance to look forward and make resolutions for the coming year. And a chance to visit that familiar self-induced hell of cookie decorating.

Just kidding. Kind of.

They say people fit into one of five different love languages. That emotionally, they need things like acts of service or words of affirmation to feel loved. And that receiving love is incredibly important to your relationship with others.

What does this have to do with cookie decorating you might ask?

Well they also say that you should tailor your love showing to the specific language of those you with which you have a relationship.

But because I think assuming you like physical touch would be the wrong choice in this scenario, I decided to settle for another year of holiday cookies.

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I’ll admit I was a little disappointed when I over-thinned my white icing just in time for Santa’s beard. The result? Santa Dog. Coming soon to a dog park near you.

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holiday cookies, christmas,  sugar cookies, royal icing, christmas cookies, baking, iced cookies

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I was a little disappointed until the boys and I had our annual Christmas cookie decorating party and the two of them showed me artistic skills I can’t even begin to compete with.

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Look at the depth and layering. The color quality and sparkle. The heavy use of sprinkles.

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I must admit I prefer the boys’ cookies to my own and I have a feeling it has a little to do with the quality time and acts of service involved.

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Merry Christmas!

Long time no talk

Hey there! Where have you been? Feels like we haven’t had a one-sided conversation in forever.

My bad. Truth is I’ve actually been busy. Really, truly, contributing to society again busy.

That’s right the sabbatical has ended. The summer of Sarah has come to a close. But what a summer it was! Beach time, dog walks, mid-day recipe posts, more dog walks, mid-day workouts, another dog walk. But it wasn’t all sunshine and summertime. The frustration, boredom and self-doubt that comes with re-starting your career in a place you know nearly no one can really wear on you.

sunset, florida, sky, palm trees

Nonetheless, I’m very excited to get back to seeing if the parts of my brain that have been resting all summer still work. So far so good. Brain cells seem to be multiplying and I feel like I need a nap by 3:00 everyday.

I ask that you bear with me as I remember how to live the 8-5 life again and somehow fit in workouts and meals along the way. And dog walks. Poor Finn might be the only one not thrilled with the new adventure.

So I’ll leave you with a photo dump from the past few weeks, including a visit from two of my best friends and a bunch of pictures of Finn looking guilty.

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sunset, florida, sky, palm trees

 

finn, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppy, dog,

Oh and just for good measure, here are a few fun fall recipes from last year to tide you over until I actually make something worth sharing again.

pumpkin bread streusel topping

Pumpkin Bread

spooky pumpkin toffee chocolate chip cookies simply social blog

Pumpkin Toffee Cookies

Have a great week!

 

 

 

It’s coming up pumpkins

I ponder life’s questions frequently throughout my day. At the gym. Walking the dog. In the shower. But there are some questions that no matter how much I think about, I just can’t seem to figure them out. I talked about some of them last week but here are just a few more:

Why is it that?

I can hold my breath for nearly the entire length of a swimming pool but as soon as I put my face under the shower head to rinse it off I feel like I’m drowning? 

That although I’ve been in this body for 30 years now, I still have a difficult time judging the distance it needs to clear door frames, kitchen islands and coffee tables. 

Every girl I know is utterly and completely obsessed with everything fall. Pumpkin, pumpkins, pumpkin spiced lattes, selfies on hayrack rides going to pick out pumpkins. You get the drift. But don’t fret ladies, I’m right there with ya. 

And to show my support of the female obsession that is pumpkin, I made a batch of my mom’s pumpkin apple muffins this weekend.

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I made them a day after I attempted a healthier pumpkin muffin recipe and threw the entire batch in the trash.

When it comes to baking, always trust the recipes your mom gives you. End of story.

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Pumpkin Apple Muffins with Streusel Topping (makes 18 muffins)

  • 1 C unsweetened canned pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil (I used melted coconut oil but add a little extra if you are swapping)
  • 2 C peeled and chopped apples
  • 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

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Streusel Topping

  • 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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Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake

It’s back!

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Happy HalloLaborDay! 🎃

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Candy Corn is back in your local grocery store folks! You only have 60 days to enjoy this treat so don’t delay. I don’t know about you but my Labor Day was filled with super sweet waxy triangles of awesomeness. So what if it felt like I was cheating on the holiday. We’re just friends I promise.

I figure if Candy Corn is back in stores then fall is just around the corner. And since it’s still 96 degrees outside and probably will be for the foreseeable future, I’ve thrown out all rules about when you should or shouldn’t make traditionally seasonal foods.

Truth is, I found rhubarb at the store last week and I couldn’t not buy it. Yes, I realize this stuff grows in ditches back in the Midwest but I can’t find it for the life of me down here so I have to take advantage when I get the chance. I was a little skeptical, having paid way too much for a pound of it, sure that it would taste like crap and not live up to my grandmother’s recipe, but man was I wrong.

So in honor of fall, candy corn and everything football, I figured this recipe deserved another share. Do me a favor and find some locally grown rhubarb though. I’d hate for you to make a scene in the grocery store like I did when you finally spot some of the fresh stuff.

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Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake

  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 C flour (plus 1 tsp more for pan)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 C rhubarb, chopped

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, cream sugar and shortening together. Add egg and vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk flour and salt.

Gradually add flour and buttermilk, alternating once each is combined.

With a spatula, fold in chopped rhubarb.

In a prep bowl, whisk cinnamon and sugar. Pour over cake and tap until covered. Remove excess if necessary.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean in the center. Let cool.

Serve with coffee in the morning, a mid-day snack or dessert in the evening.

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