one minute smoothie: orange-berry bliss

one-minute smoothie: orange-berry bliss, recipe via milissweets.comOrange Berry Bliss is my go-to smoothie. It only takes a minute to make. It tastes amazing and is an awesome pick-me-up at breakfast or at snack time.

Years ago, there was a smoothie shop that made “orange berry blitz.” It was my favorite smoothie. Then they took it off their menu! I knew I could figure out how to make my own version. I’ve decided I love my version more. My whole family loves it. It might be even be a better nutrition-choice than the shop-version, since there is no added sugar or dairy, (which tend to hurt my stomach). Another ‘best-part’ is, it passes the straw-stand up test: you know a smoothie has a good consistency and has the right thickness, when a straw holds up in the cup.

one-minute smoothie: orange-berry bliss, recipe via milissweets.com

You won’t need many ingredients to make this smoothie, but you will need a blender. Let’s do this!

one-minute smoothie: orange-berry bliss, recipe via milissweets.com

Mili’s Sweets Orange Berry Bliss Smoothie Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

a blender

4 cups frozen berries (I use a mix of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.)

1 and 1/2 cups orange juice (Of course, fresh-squeezed is awesome, but I typically have store-bought in my fridge.)

1 cup filtered water (See my note below for an option with the water, making it a “Vitamin-Blast” smoothie.)

one-minute smoothie: orange-berry bliss, recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

In a blender, add the 4 cups berries. Add the orange juice and water.

Put the top on the blender. Select “on” and “high” and blend for about 5 seconds. Turn off the machine.

one-minute smoothie: orange-berry bliss, recipe via milissweets.com

Take the top off and with a spoon, move some of the crushed fruit to the side, allowing the majority of the liquid to move to the bottom of the blender.

You’re almost there.

Put the top back on, select the high setting, and watch for the smoothie-vortex.

one-minute smoothie: orange-berry bliss, recipe via milissweets.comIt will take just under a minute for the smoothie-vortex (hole in the center) to form. Once you see it, your smoothie blending is complete. Stop the machine when you see it. The vortex will end with air coming upward, making a “plop” sound at the top.

Pour and enjoy!

Option during cold-season: “VITAMIN BLAST” your smoothie!

It’s cold season and I like to pump up the family with a little extra vitamin C. If you’d like to do this too, simply add one or two Vitamin C “fizzy drink supplements” into the water. I buy Emergen-C brand in the Super Orange flavor. You can’t taste it in the smoothie and you can’t go wrong with 1,ooo mg per packet! Anything your body can’t use or doesn’t absorb, gets flushed out so there’s no such thing as having too much.

one-minute smoothie: orange-berry bliss, recipe via milissweets.com

My kids are old enough to use glasses instead of plastic cups, so I took down some cute cups that they think are special. Straws are a must too.

I love the way little ones hold onto the stems of glasses. It’s fun to watch the details that come naturally to kids, without us boring grown ups telling them the proper way. The proper way can take all the fun out of it! Besides, we’re at home! We’ll save the proper way for restaurants and visits. For today, the kid-way is the proper way.

xox

color and cupcakes

in color and outdoor wedding dessert table via www.milissweets.com

I have always loved to cater weddings. It’s even more wonderful when the client is a decisive bride who has a really good idea of the look and feel of her reception. I set, styled and catered this dessert table, for a wonderful bride and groom who didn’t want the every-day dessert table, but something colorful and fun surrounding their main color of peach and lots of cupcakes.

in color and outdoor wedding dessert table via www.milissweets.com

She handmade a “love is sweet” sign for the dessert table, with lace and ribbon streamers. She left doilies and small floral arrangements for me to include.

in color and outdoor wedding dessert table via www.milissweets.com

At the center of the table was the cutting-cake. The bride chose ruffles in a peach-ombre pattern. I made sugar-succulents as decorations.

I rented much of the pedestal plating from a friend who no longer rents her dessert table pieces. She had a lot of beautiful items, with different colors that all worked really nicely together. On the left, I used warm tones of plating of yellows. On the right, there were cool tones of blue. In the center, I used plating in tones of green.

in color and outdoor wedding dessert table via www.milissweets.com

I made custom labeling to match the look, feel and design of their wedding invitations.

The cupcake menu included Mexican Hot Cocoa, Gluten-Free Coconut Dream, Red Velvet, Lemonade, Vanilla Velvet and Churro.

in color and outdoor wedding dessert table via www.milissweets.com

The outdoor reception was held at the lovely Keys Creek Lavender Farm, located in Valley Center, California.

It was an incredible event and I felt very honored to have been chosen as a vendor, but there were some challenges. First, it was 115 degrees outside. Then, there was the wedding coordinator. She was extremely rude to me and extremely unorganized. I wasn’t thrilled about the situation, especially considering how hard I had worked before even arriving. I was on-time and confirmed to set the dessert table in a specific window of time.  She told me I had to wait, and that I could not set the table. She didn’t tell me when I could finish the job I was hired to accomplish.

After I unloaded my packed SUV, I tried to find a shady spot. There is no refrigeration or indoor-space on the premises where I was told to step aside. I was nervous for how well the cake and cupcakes would hold up in the heat. After standing and stressing in the background for 40 minutes or so, I was given the go to start setting the table.

It was a bit awkward for me to work, since I had to take all of my bulky bins of desserts and plating onto the reception area where guests had already been invited to celebrate. With all of this plating and 100 cupcakes or so, I needed a little elbow room. I didn’t have much.  With that much pressure and that much heat, I was perspiring with a full-blown audience of guests that watched me work. I worked hard and as quickly as possible.

in color and outdoor wedding dessert table via www.milissweets.com

Fortunately, the table was placed under some trees, that kept the cupcakes and cake shaded.

If it were up to me (and almost every other wedding plan I had catered in the past years) the table would have been set before the guests arrived to the reception.  It’s all right. Sometimes you have to roll with whatever happens. I was just happy that the bride and groom entered the reception to a completed dessert table. That’s what matters most.

xox

Oh, snickerdoodles!

snickerdoodles, traditional and gluten-free recipe via www.milissweets.com

Oh, Snickerdoodle, you are almost too good to be true!

I wasn’t properly introduced to this cookie, until after meeting my husband. He has always loved them and had a recipe. I took it and made some slight changes. What makes the right execution of this cookie so special is the texture. It’s crisp outer rim and fluffy-chew in the center is one of a kind. It’s an awesome vanilla cookie and will always crackle. Snickerdoodles are super satisfying and should be eaten the same day they are baked. (That’s never been a problem.)

perfect cinnamon-sugar ratio, snickerdoodles, traditional and gluten-free recipe via www.milissweets.com

Another trick to the perfect Snickerdoodle, is getting the cinnamon-sugar ratio just right. For every cup of granulated sugar, I add two tablespoons of siagon cinnamon. I keep a glass jar of this mixture in my pantry at all times. This is also the ratio I use for other desserts like Churros and Churro Cupcakes.

I’m going to show you how I make these cookies. This particular batch was gluten-free. However, no one will know the difference in the end-product, whether you go for a classic approach with all-purpose flour or the latter. I made a note in the recipe below.

snickerdoodles, traditional and gluten-free recipe via www.milissweets.comMili’s Sweets Snickerdoodle Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need for the cookie dough:

1/2 cup (one stick) salted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 extra large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (You can substitute with same amount of all-purpose gluten-free flour. I used Pameala’s Artisan Blend.)

Here’s what you’ll need for cinnamon-sugar mix:

1 tablespoon cinnamon (I used siagon cinnamon.)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

snickerdoodles, traditional and gluten-free recipe via www.milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

a) Beat butter until it completely covers the bottom of the bowl in your standing mixer. (I used the standard, metal, flat beater attachment.)

b) Mix in the one cup of sugar, baking soda and cream of tartar.

c) Add the egg, pure vanilla extract and mix until combined.

d) Add the flour, either all-purpose or gluten-free.

snickerdoodles, traditional and gluten-free recipe via www.milissweets.com

In order for the dough to be manipulated into balls that can be rolled and dipped before baking, it needs to be refrigerated.

Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour.

snickerdoodles, traditional and gluten-free recipe via www.milissweets.com

When it’s ready, it’s easy to scoop and form. I used a heaping, table utensil spoon, for the portion sizes of each cookie.

snickerdoodles, traditional and gluten-free recipe via www.milissweets.com

Now it’s time to dip the dough into the sugar mixture.

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a wide bowl, pour the cinnamon-sugar mixture of 1/2 cup of sugar for every 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Use your hands to thoroughly mix together.

I dip the entire batch of dough balls at the same time. Here’s how it make it happen:

Take the scoop of dough and roll it into your hand, like you would a meatball. Flatten it between your hands so that it takes the shape of a patty.

Drop the dough-patty into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Use your fingers to sprinkle the mixture onto the top, and then pat it down, onto the patty. Turn it over and do the same thing to the other side. Now your cookies, will have a nice amount of covering on both sides and are ready to bake.

Depending on how large or small you like your cookies, you can arrange them between 6 to 10 onto a cookie sheet. With the size of cookies I make, there are about 18 cookies per batch.

You can place them directly onto a cookie sheet, or use a silpat matt. The baking cookies will not expand a lot, and it’s why I flatten them down – to be sure that the centers are cooked through, with a fluffy, chewy center as the end-result.

Bake for 10-11 minutes.

notebook paper cookie packages via www.milissweets.com

These cookies were made for my daughter’s 5th grade teacher, who was celebrating her birthday with the classroom. I wanted to provide cute and simple packaging for the kids, so I came up with this craft project to do while the cookies were in the oven: notebook paper, cookie packs.

I saw the idea of using lined, school paper as packaging, in a Martha Stewart magazine. (If I remember correctly.) She used the paper to make a a cone pouch for popcorn. I never pinned it or anything, but the idea popped into my head. I quickly found the following items:

notebook paper

dry wax paper sheets

hot glue gun

pencil

notebook paper cookie packages via www.milissweets.comFirst, I cut the notebook paper on the left-side, to remove the holes and shreds from the notebook.

Then, I turned the sheet over on the faded-line side, and placed a sheet of dry wax paper in the center. I folded the sheets over together and evenly. Then, I placed two dots of hot glue on the sides, so that there was an opening at the top. Simple. I hand-wrote a ‘happy birthday’ note with a pencil. As soon as a cookie had cooled, it was placed inside a pouch. Everyone loved the treat and because I made baked them gluten-free, everyone in the class was able to enjoy.

I really like dry wax paper since it’s microwave safe, provides strength and is grease resistant. It’s a bummer (and kind of gross) to have grease spots on the paper product surrounding a baked-item. With the lining, you’ll have stronger and cleaner packaging. I purchased a box of 500 sheets, of the dry wax paper, “interfolded deli wrap,” in 10″ x 10 3/4″ at Smart & Final. I bought it at least a year ago and still have plenty to spare for gift-giving in the future.

snickerdoodles, traditional and gluten-free recipe via www.milissweets.com

Snickerdoodles do not have a long shelf-life. Even if you keep them in a closed container, they will most likely go stale by the next day. That’s why a batch of these cookies should be enjoyed the same day they are made. These cookies are sure to disappear, so don’t worry about storage!

xox

“It’s your 4th birthday, Charlie Brown!”

 

"It

I grew up loving the Peanuts characters. My brother and I made sure to plop ourselves in front of the tv, every time the specials were on, especially around Halloween and Christmas. Many years later, I purchased the DVDs and my kids grew to love them too.

When I explained that our son, Nikko, asked for a Peanuts party to celebrate his 4th birthday, friends gave me a crazy eyebrow-look of confusion, since everyone who knows and loves him understands that he has severe peanut and tree nut allergies. I went further, to say that he loves Charlie Brown. Safe to say, the Peanuts Gang, with Snoopy and Charlie Brown are the only welcomed “Peanuts” in our home, as is our dog, also named Peanut.

I do take peanuts seriously. Day-to-day life with our son’s allergies has become easier as time has passed. He’s 7 now and totally gets it. It’s something to deal with, but we all have something to deal with. We know how blessed we are to have a happy, healthy and incredibly bright child, so allergies couldn’t possibly be on the list of what defines him – our family simply considers it a matter-of-fact thing.

"It

To celebrate, we invited a couple children to our home, and decorated a dessert table for the kids to enjoy. It was really easy, but to our son, it was a great-big-party and a very big deal.

Nikko had it all figured out and I was happy to work in all of the details. He wanted to be Charlie Brown, so I purchased a custom T-shirt from etsy.com. Each child had their own Peanuts-T-shirt to wear to the party, all found online, and mailed with handmade party invitations.

"It

He wanted a lot of bright colors, and a lot of candy. Easy and easy. I found a great dot-pattern wrapping paper at Target, and used it as the main pattern for decorating the dessert table. I wrapped a bulletin board and used it as the backdrop. I went to the party-supply shop the morning of the party and picked up balloons to match the paper.

"It

I found licensed-Peanuts party supplies and cut them up to create the custom poster for the center of the backdrop. After the party, it was placed in my son’s room. I took Peanuts artwork from a book we own, scanned them, sized them and with the help of a local cake supply shop, printed edible images to use as cupcake toppers. I’m sure Mr. Schulz would not have minded, as it was just for our personal enjoyment.

Then there was the cake. At the time, green was Nikko’s favorite color.

"It

The one item that took the most time to prepare for his celebration was the custom fondant cake topper. Nikko absolutely loved it!

There was a party inside the cake too! I colored the layers of his Yellow, Red, Green and Blue Velvet cake. It was darling and he thought it was super special and cool.

"It

Of course, there was too much candy for such a small gathering, but no one was complaining!

"ItThis was such a fun celebration! I’m so happy to have put this together for our sweet boy and to have turned a little table into a party (through his eyes).

I love reaching into my archives, to post past dessert tables that I’ve catered, set and styled. I made this one happen today, as it marks the 64th anniversary of Peanuts.

xox

 

my perfect brownie: deep, dark, decadent

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

I take my brownies very seriously. I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve studied them. Over the years, I have made a ton of different versions, many different times. Of all the different recipes, I’m sharing my absolute favorite here with you.

Here’s my perfect brownie: very rich, thick, dark, with a satisfying top layer. It should have a chew to it, with no dryness to be found. Of course, my brownies will never have nuts of any kind, but I do love chocolate chips baked-in. The center should be extremely decadent, but I’ll reach for the texture of a corner-piece, every time.

If all of that sounds like perfection to you, these are the brownies you should make as soon as possible.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

This recipe is great, as it requires no machinery. It’s best if all ingredients are mixed by-hand, with a good old fashioned bowl and spatula. I separate the parts of the recipe into bowls A-D, so that it’s easy to organize and manage.

Let’s do this!

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Recipe for Deep, Dark, Decadent Brownies

Here’s what you’ll need:

Prepare four different bowls with the ingredients listed below. You’ll work with bowls A through D in-order. Bowl B should be your largest bowl, since it will end up holding all of the ingredients.

BOWL A:

2 and 2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

6 oz. unsweetened blocks of pure cocoa (product typically comes in 2 oz. blocks or cubes)

2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, cut into pats

BOWL B:

6 extra large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 teaspoons brewed espresso

If you don’t care for the taste of espresso, you can substitute the vanilla and espresso measurements listed above, for 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract.

2 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar

BOWL C:

1 cup all purpose flour

To make a gluten-free version of these brownies, substitute all purpose flour with gluten-free flour. I typically use Pamela’s Artisan Blend.

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

BOWL D:

1 and 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup all purpose flour (or a gluten-free, wheat flour substitute)

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare your baking pan: I use a 9″ x 13″ pan so that my brownies are the thickness I require for my version of “perfection.” If you like thinner brownies, use a larger pan so that the batter can be spread thin.

Take a pat of butter and use your fingers to spread it over every inch of the inside of the pan. Do yourself a favor and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder, like I do. Dusting the pan with flour tends to leave a bitter aftertaste on the outside of the brownie crust. I recommend dusting all baked chocolate desserts, with chocolate instead of flour.

Now, let’s prepare the first ingredients we’ll work with, to make a chocolate sauce.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.comBOWL A:

Create a double-broiler to melt the ingredients together. Place 1-2 inches of water into a saucepan. Place on medium-low heat. Once you see tiny bubbles forming in the water, it’s time to place the glass bowl (A) onto the top.

The trick to melting/tempering chocolate is to be sure additional moisture is not added, while it’s over a heat source. Therefore, I recommend always using a baking spatula and not a wood spoon (since wood retains moisture) to mix while melting.

Use the spatula to coat the chocolate with the butter.  After about 4 minutes, the water will increase in heat and start to boil. At that point, bring the heat down to low. Continue turning the chocolate. It will take approximately 10 minutes total, to melt the chocolate to  become completely smooth.

Remove the bowl from heat, and set this aside to cool. Before mixing in the rest of the ingredients, the chocolate sauce should cool for 10 minutes. Since the rest of this recipe will fly-by, I recommend setting a timer so you know when to move onto the next steps.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.comBOWL B:

Again, this should be the largest bowl, since all of the contents will end up here.

Place the sugar, eggs, pure vanilla extract (and if you’re using it, the fresh-brewed espresso). Use a spatula to break it down and mix it together. There’s no need to whisk or beat.

Next, pour the cooled, melted chocolate of BOWL A, into the egg and sugar mixture of BOWL B.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Mix together. You’ll notice how the texture changes, into a thickened mixture, that gives resistance against the spatula. Once the chocolate is incorporated, add the dry ingredients from BOWL C. It won’t take long to combine. Last, you’ll add the ingredients from BOWL D. Mix just enough, until there are no traces of white from the flour.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Place the pan at the center rack of your oven. For this size pan, the brownies are done after 35 minutes. Take out at this time. Don’t over cook or allow for dark-browning/burning at the edge or top. A couple specs of dark at the top are perfectly fine.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Allow to cool. It will take time for the rise in the center to flatten. Once it’s flat, you can cut and serve, or put the pan in the refrigerator to cut and serve when you are ready. I like to cut them into portions, individually wrap them and then place them in an air-tight container, so that they do not stale and I can enjoy them at least two days later, if there are any left.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Because these are so decadent, thick, rich and filled with chocolate, you won’t need a lot to completely satisfy your chocolate-fix. I still like to look at a big brownie by my side, even if I can’t eat the whole thing in one sitting.

My kids were served a small piece, as an after school treat. They were thrilled, since I typically offer a piece of fruit as they hang-out before homework.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

This recipe has my own twists and modifications, but was greatly influenced by Ina Garten’s “Outrageous Brownies” recipe which has been around for a number of years. She published it and adapted it from the Soho Charcuterie Cookbook. Not sure if the cookbook adapted it it from somewhere else. An assortment of food bloggers, magazines and cookbooks have shared their takes on it as well. This is a classic, and a lot like a good chocolate chip cookie recipe: it’s good and made in similar ways because the ingredient ratios are spot-on. I’m posting my special spin.

In the end, perfection is totally subjective. It’s up to you, to put your own spin on the flavor and texture you wish to create, so that it’s a keeper. I hope this becomes a keeper for you as it has for me!

If you’d like another one of my brownie recipes, please see my post for flourless chocolate brownies.

xox