natural in July, wedding dessert table

natural in July, wedding dessert table via milissweets.com - wood, burlap, floral, cupcakes, succulent wedding cake

I can’t believe it’s already been two years since I attended, styled, set and catered this dessert table for a family wedding.

It was such a beautiful day – outdoors and on the beach. This fantastic couple, Rachel and Raul, whom my husband and I love, are so great. They are very active and spend their spare time surfing and mountain climbing. They wanted to bring their love for natural elements into the dessert table, so I added the use of wood planks and burlap.

natural in July, wedding dessert table via milissweets.com - wood, burlap, floral, cupcakes, succulent wedding cake

Succulents graced their wedding cake and were also placed in their white and green floral arrangements, both accented with burlap ribbon. I loved the use of green as a natural color element and the use of yellow as an accent.

natural in July, wedding dessert table via milissweets.com - wood, burlap, floral, cupcakes, succulent wedding cake

The cupcake menu was custom made, with the use of wood planks, handwritten labels and a stamping accent.

natural in July, wedding dessert table via milissweets.com - wood, burlap, floral, cupcakes, succulent wedding cake

natural in July, wedding dessert table via milissweets.com - wood, burlap, floral, cupcakes, succulent wedding cake

The best part of this day was being a part of this memory and spending time with family. It felt amazing to know that they really enjoyed my work.

xox

natural in July, wedding dessert table via milissweets.com - wood, burlap, floral, cupcakes, succulent wedding cake

 

sweet, summertime drinks

sweet, summertime drinks: peach-nectar iced tea and strawberry lemonade - recipe via milissweets.com

It’s nice and hot, and time to make some sweet, summertime drinks that your friends and family will love.

Of the two, the strawberry-lemonade was the first to go. It’s fun, super easy and real.

It’s not necessary to buy the concentrated version since this takes maybe a few more moments to prepare and tastes so much better. You’re going to love serving this!

Making a sugar-rimmed glass, takes it over the top and I’ll show you the best way to do that too.

sweet, summertime drinks: strawberry lemonade - recipe via milissweets.com

Real Strawberry Lemonade Recipe by Mili’s Sweets

Here’s what you’ll need: 

6 lemons, organic is best

2 quarts filtered water

2 cups whole strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

ice

slices of a lemon as garnish

tools: pitcher, small sieve, juicing device, knife for cutting fruit

sweet, summertime drinks: strawberry lemonade - recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Measure two quarts of filtered water. I use a standard pitcher and fill to the top, since I know that all standard sized pitchers hold 2 quarts (8 cups).

First thing to do is prepare your strawberries. Fresh or frozen, whole strawberries will be used. I prefer to use frozen since I always have them on-hand. My family loves strawberries, but for some reason, we have a hard time keeping them nice in our fridge. If they are not eaten within a day, they start going bad. When I know they that all of them won’t be eaten, I’ll clean them, and freeze them in a plastic storage bag, to use for drinks and sauces.

If you are using fresh, just wash them, remove the stems and set aside in a bowl. Cover them with water from the 2 quarts you have reserved. If you are using frozen, cover with water from the 2 quarts you reserved and microwave for one and a half, to two minutes. Set aside. You want them to be soft and for their natural juices to seep into the bowl.

Next, it’s time to squeeze the juice of the lemons into a sieve, to leave out the seeds. Have you ever noticed how many seeds are in organic lemons, or lemons you receive from someone’s tree, versus the ones you’ll pick up at Costoc? There’s something comforting about the seeds. It reminds me of the fruits from my Nonna’s garden.

Mix in the half cup of sugar.

Add what you have left of the reserved, filtered water.

Next, smash the strawberries, one at at time, so that they come apart, or flatten. Place them into your serving container.

Pour in the juice from the strawberry bowl.

Add slices of one lemon, as garnish.

Put ice into the pitcher or into individual cups, as desired.

Enjoy!

sweet, summertime drinks: strawberry lemonade with sugar-dipped rim - recipe via milissweets.com

It’s really fun to have a sugar-simmed glass with this drink. Here’s the easiest way to do it.

How to make a sugar-rimmed glass:

Take two shallow plates. One with water, the other with granulated sugar. First dip the rim of the cup in water and then the sugar. You can do this about an hour in advance, if you are planning a party.

sweet summertime drinks: easy way to make sugar-rimmed glasses, via milissweets.comLet’s talk peaches! If you’ve been following my recipe posts this summer, you’ve noticed how many ways I’ve been using peaches, while the fruits have been in season. I managed to freeze some extra peach nectar from the recipes I’ve made.

To add to the long list of treats I’ve been making with peaches as the star ingredients, (peach cobbler, peach baked alaska, peach-brulee french toast, peach reduction/syrup, canning cooked peaches, etc.) I’d thought I’d add something refreshing, with no need to turn on the oven: peach-nectar iced tea. I think you’re going to like this one too! It’s geared for adults, since tea typically has caffeine, but you can brew any tea you wish.

sweet, summertime drinks: peach-nectar iced tea, recipe via milissweets.com

Peach-Nectar Iced Tea by Mili’s Sweets 

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 quarts filtered water (16 cups)

4 tea bags (I used Lipton cold-brew.)

12 oz. prepared peach nectar, or all-natural peach juice concentrate

2 fresh peaches, sliced

ice

sweet, summertime drinks: peach-nectar iced tea, recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Take out the frozen peach nectar. It will be the sweetener for the tea. Allow it to soften and scoop it into the bottom of the container for dispensing the drink. The nectar is made when peaches are cooked in water and sugar. I reserve it and whatever is not used is frozen, for the exact recipe, please see my peach cobbler recipe.

Next, brew the tea. I brewed the tea, two bags at a time, with my 2-quart pitcher. Fill the standard sized pitcher with filtered water (8 cups) and place in two bags of tea. Remove them after 3 minutes. Pour it over the peach nectar. Then, brew two more bags the same way and pour that into your large serving container.

Stir to dissolve the frozen nectar.

Prepare two peaches by making slices around the pit. Add the peach slices to the tea.

You can add ice to the container, or have it on the side, for guests to add their own portions.

A little side-note:

I’m a bit of a crazy person and it’s all right. I think as parents, we all have things that we avoid, and I have a thing against high fructose corn syrup. I just don’t like it. I know that I have corn syrup in my pantry, since it works best for making caramel/candy, but for every-day, packaged products from the store, I don’t let it happen. If my kids want something from the store, it’s always understood that we have to look at the ingredients to first see a) that it does not contain nut products and b) that it does not have HFCS.

I have found that there are a lot of choices for frozen, all natural juice concentrates that do not contain HFCS, but I’m not sure that a frozen lemonade concentrate exists in a store, without it. So, if we’re going to make sweet/treat drinks like the ones I’ve posted, they will be made from scratch. No one is complaining! I think you’ll find that these are fun, simple crowd pleasers, for a hot summer day or anytime.

xox

 

campfire cookies

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie sThere was a time when graham crackers were a mandatory part of s’mores. Since replacing them with freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, there is no turning back. I made Campfire Cookies as a surprise-treat for my sweethearts. They are not going to forget how good these are! It’s a treat you won’t soon forget either.

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie s

Summertime is in full swing at my house. I actually look forward to having my kids with me 24/7. One of our favorite, regular family activities is having little “campfires” in our back yard, after dinner. The kids usually ask for s’mores or to toast marshmallows. We always say yes.

Mili’s Sweets Campfire Cookies Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

* freshly baked chocolate chip cookies

(For my chocolate chip cookie recipe, please go to my post, Chocolate Chip Cookie Joy, where I also share how to make them gluten-free, if you’re interested.) 

* marshmallows for toasting

* chocolate squares

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie s

Here’s what you’ll do:

First thing to do, is to bake chocolate chip cookies. For campfire cookies, it’s best to have a smaller cookie. When baking cookies to be enjoyed alone, I bake them 6-up in a cookie sheet. For a smaller size, I bake them a dozen per sheet. Smaller cookies take less time to bake. I recommend 8 minutes at 375 degrees.

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie s

Once they have cooled, have a helper prepare the marshmallows and chocolate squares on a plate so that everything is ready to assemble.

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie s

Next, you’ll want to start a safe, outdoor fire, and get it to calm down and be hot enough to enjoy toasting marshmallows.

We have a cute little chiminea in our back yard. It only needs a few logs of wood at a time. My husband typically makes our fires, so when I get them started, I place a fire-starter ball in the center, to get things moving along. With this, it takes only minutes to have a nice fire going.

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie s

Once we’re set, we toast two marshmallows at a time on metal skewers. We spin the mallows until all sides are completely golden. Once they are ready, and still very hot, we have a piece (or two) of chocolate set in one cookie and another cookie ready to go for the top, so that all of this heavenly-goodness can be smashed together before taking a great-big-bite.

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie s

My fondest memories growing-up are made up of the simple, every day pleasures of childhood. I keep this in mind when spending quality time with my own children. I love taking photos and capturing moments of them in the backyard, just playing: their hair is everywhere, they are pure and simple and themselves – just beautiful they way they are.

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie sWe know when the fire is perfect, because it’s when we have lots of beautifully toasted marshmallows ready to eat. After one Campfire Cookie is made, we make sure everyone has this treat in their hands as soon as possible.

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie s

I realize I’m not the genius who came up with this little invention, but to my family, I’m the best for bringing it to them, and that’s what matters – it’s the best feeling to thrill the ones you love.

campfire cookies - chocolate chip cookie s

I wasn’t going to let the extra cookies go to waste, so I stored them in an air tight container. A few days later, I took out some vanilla bean ice cream and . . . you guessed it . . . I made another dessert and another fun, summertime (or anytime) sandwich.

ice cream sandwiches with fresh chocolate chip cookies and vanilla bean ice cream  - via milissweets.com

I’m not going to lie, the Campfire Cookies were better!

ice cream sandwiches with fresh chocolate chip cookies and vanilla bean ice cream  - via milissweets.com

xox

miracle makers with cupcakes

Miracle Makers for Rady Children

For the last five years since Mili’s Sweets was established, I have built upon a special tradition. During the time of Lent, (40 days before Easter Sunday) I create a fundraising campaign to benefit a charity. It’s my personal sacrifice, however my wonderful customers are very involved and given the credit since the only way I am able to raise the money to donate, is via their purchases.  This year, we worked together to be “Miracle Makers” for Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego.

It was not long ago, when I met a beautiful family, with a beautiful daughter. She had cancer. She was 6 – almost the same age as my son at the time. She was suffering. Her family was suffering.

I made a birthday cake for this perfect stranger and delivered it to her, her mom and her grandmother, in her room at Rady Children’s Hospital. The encounter was life-changing and perfectly-timed. It honestly changed me.

.cupcakes and miracle makers - via milissweets.com

You see, just a couple of days before receiving the call from Icing Smiles, Inc., I was having a hard time with what was going on in my life. It was the moment that I said yes to donating this cake, that I decided I would stop worrying about things that did not matter around me – since nothing I was dealing with could possibly compare to what this sweet little girl and her family were going through. So, I poured myself and my prayers into this cake for Kaelyn.

cupcakes and miracle makers - via milissweets.com

This was Kaelyn and her mom Jill, in August of 2012, on the day my daughter and I went to deliver her birthday cake to her room at Rady. They had my heart from the first moment we connected.

I am happy to share that we have kept in touch and this incredibly inspiring and courageous sweetheart, is now healthy and cancer-free. Here we were with our kids, at the MiaBella Yogurt & Desserts grand opening event, this past February.  cupcakes and miracle makers - via milissweets.com

This is not the only child I have encountered through my work, whom has suffered from terminal illness or from the effects of treatments to save their life. These children have parents who have this whole world on their shoulders. They are our friends and family. They are our neighbors and our children’s classmates, being treated with love, care and incredible skill at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego. These are the people who moved me to select this special cause.

Donating was very easy. I signed up for a Miracle Makers Page, just the way any individual or company can do. I asked my customers to please join me in fundraising by purchasing a “Red Velvet cupcakes, benefiting Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego,” at the Mili’s Sweets bakery case inside MiaBella or via pre-order at milissweetstogo.com, to contribute to this fundraiser, between the dates of 2/18/15 and 4/1/15. One dollar per Red Velvet cupcake or red-lined cupcake sold was donated to the cause.

This was my sweet girl and youngest employee, with our little bakery case, trying to make a big effort.

cupcakes and miracle makers - via milissweets.comMarch 8, 2015 was my 5th anniversary of doing business as Mili’s Sweets. I celebrated by holding a fundraising event inside MiaBella, where we donated 100% of all sales to Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego. We offered some items for donation-only and also accepted donations at the counter.

Here’s what our bakery case looked like on that day. We were super happy about it!

cupcakes and miracle makers - via milissweets.com

Each week I added to our team-fundraising totals, depending on how many Red Velvet/red-lined cupcakes were sold. Customers and friends in the community were also encouraged to participate in our efforts by contributing via a tax-deductable donation through our fundraising page.

On the very last day of our campaign, I made the case all “Red for Rady” and $1 of each and every item sold was donated.    cupcakes and miracle makers - via milissweets.com

In all, we raised $785.00! I’m really proud of us! Together, with cupcakes, we were Miracle Makers!

xox

 

easy breezy meringue

easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.com

I love meringue. It’s one of those dessert toppings that tastes so lovely – not too sweet, light and fluffy. I get to have fun using a torch. It looks beautiful and a bonus: it’s super easy-breezy to make. Let’s make it happen.

Mili’s Sweets Vanilla Meringue Recipe

Here’ s what you’ll need:

3 egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Here’s what you’ll do:

easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.com

In the bowl of your standing mixer, place all of the ingredients.

easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.com

Next, use the whisk attachment to mix together all of the ingredients and to dissolve the sugar.

easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.com

Place the bowl onto your standing mixer with the whisk attachment. Slowly increase the speed until it reaches the highest/fastest setting.

easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.com

In a couple of minutes, you’ll have the end result. It will be a thick, beautiful fluff that will stick to the bottom of the whisk –  that’s how you’ll know it’s ready.

easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.comYou can plop the whole-batch onto a pie if you wish. I recommend doubling the recipe if you’d like to make a pie-topping. Use a spatula to spread it around, without pressing down too much, since you’ll want to keep the beautiful volume. easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.com

Once you have the pie covered, torch all around the meringue.

easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.com

Another option is to pipe the meringue onto your desserts, like this Lemon Meringue cupcake.

Other Mili’s Sweets recipes with meringue that you might enjoy:

Lemon Meringue Pie and Lemon Curd 

Baked Alaska

xox

easy breezy meringue - recipe via milissweets.com

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