Favorite Things, Mother’s Day Edition

This post was inspired/request/demanded from a loyal blog follower. I was thrilled to received a request for two reasons:

1. It shows that I am becoming a source for trust information (look out Google).
2. It makes blogging much easier as coming up with ideas is 75% of the work.

So here is my list Mother’s Day Edition of My Favorite Things

DIY GIFTS

Candles

I love candles as presents. You really can never have too many because are things that you use up (much like food of bath products). While candles aren’t super expensive, there are a lot of fun and easy DIY candle projects.

Dipped Candles

Tea Cup Candles

Scented Soy Candles

Decoupaged Candles

Diptyque Candles

Totes

A girl can never have too many tote bags, especially if they are cute! And with eco-chic being all the rage, mom can use this for her grocery sopping and farmer market trips.

Cherry Branch Tote

Basic Tote

Minimalist Tote (for the most advanced DIY-er)

Doily Tote (we did something similar for the “welcome bags” at our wedding)

Vases & Pots

Flowers are a solid go-to option, but after a week, there won’t be much gift left. Why not add a little something to your bouquet of flowers with a DIY vase or pot?

 Swirl Vase

Decoupage Pot

Rainbow Drip Pot (good options for kids)

Colored Pencil Vase

Neon Rope Vase

THINGS TO BUY

Nothing like a cute quote to make her smile.

Print (could be a DIY)

Key Chain

Sign

Jewelry is usually a safe bet. Here are a few that celebrate motherhood.

Morse Code Necklace

Fingerprint Charm (perfect for new moms!)

Dogeared

Simple XO Necklace

Name Necklace (another good one for new moms)

Let’s be honest, moms spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Get her something that will make it more enjoyable.

 Agrate Trivate

Mini Colored Colanders

Colored Spatulas

Medallion Table Cloth (DIY? I dare you.)

Recipe Box w/Card Holder

DIY – Dish Cloth

And if you are lucky enough to actually see your dear mother over Mother’s Day, here are a few resources to help you host a Mother’s Day brunch.

 

Mother’s Day Brunch via Cup of Joe, Delish, Real Simple, Epicurious and Martha Stewart (it wouldn’t complete without MS)

And for those of you who break out in a cold sweat at the idea of hosting a brunch, here are NY Mag’s top restaurant picks.

And last, but certainly not least, surprise mom on her special day with a new tattoo!

Ritz Peanut Butter Cups

Growing up, Ritz crackers with peanut butter were a popular snack in our household. And if you were rally lucky, you might even get Ritz peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. YUMMY! I love the classic combination of peanut butter and jelly. It just brings back so many memories of brown bag lunches and white bread (before we knew it was bad). The only thing I like more than peanut butter and jelly is peanut butter and chocolate! So last night I took to the kitchen and made some delicious treats to bring into work today – Ritz Peanut Butter Cups that I found here.

You only need 3 ingredients: Ritz crackers, chocolate (I used semi-sweet Ghirardelli chips) and peanut butter.

First, line a muffin tin with cute cupcake liners. I purchased mine at New York Cake – the most wonderful store in New York City.

Next, melt you chocolate. I don’t have a double broiler so I melt mine in the microwave. The microwave that came with our apartment is awesome and has a “melt” function specifically for chocolate. It heats the chocolate at a very low temperature and seems to work perfectly every time. I only wish that I had discovered this function earlier (before I burned multiple pounds of white chocolate during my holiday baking fest.

Pour 1-2 tablespoons of melted chocolate into each cupcake liner. I had to bang the tray against the counter to even out the chocolate. Place the tray in the freezer for approximately 5 minutes (of until the chocolate hardens).

While the chocolate is cooling, smear approximately 1-2 teaspoons of peanut butter onto the crackers. I didn’t measure this – I just tried to make sure the cracker was coated similar to a double stuffed Oreo like the recipe suggested.

Take the tray out of the freezer and place one peanut butter topped cracker in each cupcake liner. I did mine peanut butter side up, but I don’t think it matters (sort of like Dr. Suess’ Butter Battle).

 

I melted the second half of my chocolate and added another 1-2 tablespoons into each liner. I popped them back into the freezer to cool for another 5-10 minutes.

As you can see, the treats came out pretty well but I have a few suggestions/comments:

1. I think I prefer using milk chocolate (as opposed to semi-sweet) when melting. I have done a little research and it doesn’t look like one is suggested over the other. If anything, people suggest using semi-sweet so feel free to disagree.

2. I would probably add a teaspoon of vanilla to the melted chocolate. I find this helps thin it out a little and gives it an interesting flavor.

3. Ideally, I would have preferred to make these using a mini muffin tin — each cup is rather larger. However, you would need to find mini Ritz crackers and I have no idea if these, or something similar, exist.

4. Make sure you get chocolate on the side of the cups so it surrounds the entire Ritz cracker. You may be able to see in my final picture that the bottom chocolate part separated from the top. I think it was because the two chocolate layers didn’t touch – essentially gluing the sandwich together.

5. I wish I had put sea salt on the tops. It just makes everything better!

6. Matt was my guinea pig last night. His comment was that the chocolate was super melty. I am not sure why as they had been in the freezer for a while. I am not sure if a different type of chocolate would fix this.

Delicious Banana Bites

Growing up, my sister gave me a lot of advice. It started with simple stuff. Wear your backpack on one shoulder, not both. Tight roll your stone washed jeans. Don’t buy hot lunch at school. As we got older it progressed into more practical advice. Which classes to take in high school. Run for Class Officer not Student Council. Park in “the pit” not on the streets. And now as we have entered our adult lives, and I’m married while Abby is living the single life, the advice comes, but maybe not as often and not as serious. Find a job you love. Watch My Red Neck Wedding (clearly we have the same appreciation for trashy reality tv). And texts saying “Turn on the Today Show! Now!”

But one thing that I rarely receive from Abby is baking advice. I have appointment myself as the baking guru of our family so, typically, I am the one making things and sending pictures to my family. However, ever since Abby moved to Virginia and started “nesting” things have started to change. She has started to encroach on my Martha Stewart talent and I am not sure I like it. I’m not going to lie – I feel threatened. And there’s nothing more threatening than the combination of peanut butter, chocolate and banana.

Pinterest has given Abby the ammunition she needs to over take my talents. She made chocolate covered pretzles during Christmas that she found on Pinterest. I think they were most popular than the Oreo truffles Matt and I brought to the table. She made a super cute paint chip banner, melted crayon art and don’t even get me started on the Birthday party she threw for her dog Bexley. But now, she went to far – she made these delicious banana bites and wouldn’t stop talking about just how good they were. Naturally, I had to make them myself.

I started by following the receipe –

1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter

While I melted them together I cut 3 bananas into bite size pieces.

Then I dipped the banans into the chocolate/peanut butter mixture and placed them on parchment paper. Now here’s where I took things to a whole new level.

I added sea salt to the tops. YUM!

Molly 1, Abby 0.  And all feels right in the world.

 

The Second Coming

Last night, the entire Robin Hood staff was invited to a private viewing of The Artist in Harvey Weinstein’s private screening room. We also used this opportunity to celebrate our Executive Director’s 50th Birthday. The evening was very fun and adds to my growing list of “once in a lifetime opportunities” that I have experienced since joining Robin Hood.

Matt spent this evening at CrossFit and then went home. He was on his own for dinner, which usually means a smoothie, heating up a lean cuisine or ordering something from seamless. When I opened the door to our apartment, I smelled something weird… I walked to the kitchen and looked to see if any of our gas burners were left on by accident (something Matt has been known to do frequently). All were in the off position. Then I realized that the oven light was on. I ducked down to peer in and I almost fell over at the sight I was beholding.

Matt is definitely not a fan of leftovers; so much so that he refuses to eat them (And you all think I am a princess?!) Typically, when I decide to make something for dinner; I need to cut the recipe down by at least a half, or be prepared to eat the meal for the next 3 days (lunch and dinner). I grew up in a household where we had a leftover smorgasbord at least once a week, so the concept of Matt absolutely refusing to eat them was one I didn’t understand, and truthfully, didn’t really appreciate.

Well, last night, not only was Matt using the oven and cooking himself dinner, but he was heating up leftovers from the meal we had the night before! I shouted outloud (just ask my mom as I was on the phone with her) “hallelujah, praise the Lord! Christ has come again – it is a miracle!”

After praising Matt for his newfound appreciation for my cooking (even in the form of leftovers) I went to bed dreaming about my now nearly perfect husband.

Unfortunately when I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen, I returned to reality. I guess the second coming has come and gone already.

This was our sink this morning...

A Sugar Filled Black Tie Affair

A few weekends ago, Matt and I had the distinct pleasure of attending a party at our friend, Caitlin Tormey‘s home. For 28 years, this lovely family has opened up their Staten Island home to friends and family to enjoy homemade desserts and sip champagne at a black tie affair.

The Tormey Family party is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Traditionally held around the New Year, Caitlin’s mom, Dr. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, takes a full week of from her “day job” (chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute) to apply her background in chemistry to the kitchen. For 7 days she prepares 28 different desserts; and every year the desserts are different. She then opens up her home to over 100 friends, neighbors and family members. I consider myself lucky to have been counted among these people.

We began out evening by taking the ferry over to Staten Island; something we had never done before. The views of the New York City skyline were breathtaking and definitely a sight worth seeing. After a quick ride, we found ourselves in the suburbs (or at least it felt suburban compared to Manhattan). The Tormey home sits of the edge of a hill with incredible views of the river, the Verrazano bridge, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Thankfully it wasn’t too chilly, so we were able to enjoy the views from the porch in the back of the house.

After taking in the beautiful Christmas decorations and drinking some champagne, Caitlin invited me into the dinning room for a “press only” viewing of the desserts. (I knew having a blog would get me a press pass at some point – now, if only I could use it to get on the field during a Patriots game!) When I walked in the room; I was immediately overtaken by the smell of sugar. The 28 cakes that sat before me were really amazing. How Jill managed to make 28 different desserts in one week in beyond me. How she managed to keep everything fresh and time the whole production is unbelievable. I can see myself trying this and ending up with melting cakes, stale cookies and a giant mess in our kitchen!

Once the doors to the dining room were opened to the “public” everyone proceeded to walk around the table simply looking. Then, once everyone had a chance to view the 28 choices, we went back through and picked which ones we wanted to try. I happily added 5 difference slices to my plate: peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate chunk candy cane cheesecake, eggnog torte, white mocha torte, peanut butter honeycomb cake. Matt decided to try all of the chocolate options which I believe resulted in 6 different slices. In the end, we were sick to our stomachs from all of the richness, but very happy!

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Matt and I have talked about throwing an annual holiday party; something that our friends and family can look forward to attending year after year. Unfortunately we haven’t settled on what holiday we should be celebrating. Matt wants to celebrate something that has to do with Notre Dame, while I would like to celebrate an obscure holiday like, March 13th which is National Ear Muff day.

Does anyone have any suggestions for creative and fun parties?

Elf Food

A little while ago, I blogged about one of my favorite 90s fads:  foods made mini! Well it looks like a fellow blogger, Emma from The Unconfidential Cook is bringing that trend back. I was amazed to see the tiny creations that she made. They remind me of the tiny tea sets you could get for your American Girl Dolls.

Instead of making cookies for Santa, Emma should make cookies for all of the elves that do all the work leading up to Christmas – we all know that Santa just swoops in and steals all of the glory on Christmas Eve.

Just think how many of these tiny treats you could eat before you felt guilty!

Chasing Martha

This year for holiday gifts, I decided to make cookies and various treats for our friends. I purchased packaging last night at the Container Store and made customized labels at Erin Condren.

My next step is to figure out what all I want to make. I definitely want to make some of my family’s “go-to” cookies:

Frosted Sugar Cookies
“Boob” Cookies (also know, by some less-vulgar families, as “Peanut Butter Blossoms”)
Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

And then of course, I will make a couple different varieties of “bark” (see post here) and gingerbread snowflakes (see post here) like I did last year.

I have found a couple cute new decorating ideas to try this year – you will have to stay tuned for those! Does anyone have a cookies recipe that I should add to my list? Please let me know in the comments below.

Once I have my list of cookies to tackle, and gather up all of the ingredients, the most challenging part is timing everything. Hopefully I can start things early enough so that I don’t spend all day and night right before Christmas baking, but not too early that my cookies get stale. I am thinking of starting things off this weekend by making some dough and freezing it – then baking things next weekend (Matt – get excited for the next two weekends! You are definitely going to need to be my sous-chef!)

Let’s hope I can live up to the high standard set by Martha.