roses & chalkboard shower

roses and chalkboard baby shower via milissweets.com

I am surrounded by the most amazing and beautiful women, whom I am so honored to call my friends and love making sweets for. More than a handful of them have had babies this past year and some are waiting to have their new baby in their arms any moment now.

I believe that every pregnancy deserves a celebration, and it doesn’t matter how many children the family has had. It’s nice to have something new for the new baby, and to socially get together and honor the mother to-be.

I love attending the baby showers of my dear friends, and it’s special when I get to take part in the celebration by working on the styling and catering of the dessert table.

roses and chalkboard baby shower via milissweets.com

Kim and her husband named their sweet baby girl Victoria. The shower was held on a dark, rainy day, but the beautiful pink roses and all of the incredible women, together in one place, really shed light on the celebration.

roses and chalkboard baby shower via milissweets.com

I loved the cupcakes chosen to treat the guests. There were four on the menu: Creme Brulee, Brownie Bliss, Tiramisu and Lemon Meringue.

roses and chalkboard baby shower via milissweets.com

Here’s a close up of the Lemon Meringue cupcake:

roses and chalkboard baby shower via milissweets.com

I thought black and white would be so pretty with the pink roses, so I chose black and clear plating against a white tablecloth and a touch of black ribbon for the arrangements. I made the “Victoria” sign and labeling with the use of actual chalkboards and plain, white chalk.

roses and chalkboard baby shower via milissweets.com

I’m not a pro when it comes to chalkboard art but I went for it. Anytime the end result isn’t perfect or exactly how I expected, I just call it “rustic,” and it makes me feel better.

xox

roses and chalkboard baby shower via milissweets.com

go make a mud pie

go make a mud pie, via milissweets.comI have a recipe for a happy memory: the next time you have a chance, go outside and make a mud pie!

Get dirty. Tell the kids it’s all right to get mud on their clothes and shoes. Make a mess on purpose. Laugh out loud and let it go.

go make a mud pie, via milissweets.com

It’s a wonderful feeling to let our kids be kids. The best and most memorable moments are typically not scheduled. I want them to have great, stress-free opportunities to enjoy this precious time that they have as children; to do some of the things I did as a kid, like go to a relative’s house to pick berries, go on a walk and explore, make up a game. Basically, I want them to go outside and play nice together!

The kids woke up one morning and I told them it was time to go outside and make a mess, to put on some play clothes and shoes that they didn’t mind messing up. They were confused. I’m sure in their heads they were thinking something like, ‘What could mommy be talking about? She’s a total clean freak!’

go make a mud pie, via milissweets.com

When they came downstairs, waiting for them outside was a bucket and two aluminum pie tins inside our mini-garden that we had recently cleared out for replanting. I told them they could make mud and play with it. They were thrilled – laughing and loving every minute.

go make a mud pie, via milissweets.com

It’s nice to take a moment to forget about the little challenges in life, with an open invitation to have fun and make a mess, or to make anything together. (As long as we clean it up afterwards.)

xox

never bored of blueberry pie: or cupcakes, muffins and tartlets

 

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

I could never get bored of blueberries.

Blueberries are one my favorite things to eat and to bake. Blueberry pie tops the list. This post is all about my recipe for blueberry pie filling, and many awesome ways to prepare it into beautiful and delicious treats including blueberry pie cupcakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry pie tartlets. Of course, I’ll also share how to make it into a traditional pie.

Once you make this simple filling, you’ll want to make big plans for it. Let’s get to making something so good, you’ll want to make it over and over again, and pass the recipe on:

Mili’s Sweets Blueberry Pie Filling Recipe (with gluten-free version) 

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons flour (all purpose or substitute with artisan, all purpose, gluten-free flour)

1/4 teaspoon salt

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

In a pan, over medium heat, combine blueberries, 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar.

Add the 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of either traditional or gluten-free flour. Stir to dissolve.

Once the mixture comes to a low boil (starts to bubble) you’ll want to continue stirring for an additional 20 minutes. The mixture will be think, full and ready to fill your desserts.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

Blueberry Pie 

Blueberry pie is one of my favorite desserts to serve. If you are filling a pie crust you’ll want to add 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into very small pieces, to place over the filling, once it has been poured in and is ready for the top pie crust. I love to make a lattice design for berry pies.

I have shared my best and favorite pie crust recipe with you, when I posted my Cherry Pie Recipe. Please refer to this post, for details on how to create this wonderful option.

I bake my berry pies at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and at 375 degrees for an additional 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving. My family actually prefers cold berry pie, so my berry pies go in the oven before serving.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

Blueberry Pie Cupcakes and Blueberry Muffins

I know how much you love cupcakes!  This recipe is great for muffins too!

I let the blueberry pie filling do all of the work, to take this cake flavor to another level. I make these cupcakes and muffins, using my favorite gluten-free vanilla cake recipe.

Mili’s Sweets Gluten-Free Cupcakes Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 and 3/4 cups gluten-free flour (I used Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend.)

2 cups sugar

4 extra large eggs, at room temperature (run them under warm water)

1 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

Here’s what you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Fill your cupcake pan with liners. This recipe will yield 24 cupcakes or muffins.

In a standing mixer, with a paddle attachment, (you can use standard or the scraping-version) beat the 4 eggs for about 30 seconds. Mix in the two cups of sugar. Add the one cup canola oil and one teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Mix until completely incorporated. From here on with this recipe, mixing in the ingredients will be brief, and you’ll mix until only just completely moistened.

Mix in the dry ingredients including the baking powder, baking soda, salt and gluten-free flour. As the final component, blend in the buttermilk.

You will want the batter to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

Are you in the mood to make Blueberry Muffins? If so, this is the time to add one heaping tablespoon of blueberry pie filling to the center of each liner, prepared with poured batter. Swirl in the goodness and bake. If you want to make blueberry pie cupcakes, please see my how-to below.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

Bake for 15-16 minutes, depending on your oven.

The result will be absolutely delicious, fluffy blueberry muffins. I simply add a sprinkling of crystalized sugar to the top of each one, once they are cooled. This is an outstanding treat to serve for breakfast, brunch or a snack.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

If you’re in the mood to take it over the top and make Blueberry Pie Cupcakes, I’m right there with you! Let’s do this.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

Allow the cupcakes to completely cool. Cut a hole at the center of each one, using a circular, metal cookie cutter. Remove the center portion of the cake and spoon in the berry pie filling.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

Top with your choice of vanilla butter cream, blueberry butter cream or vanilla cream cheese frosting. You can choose to top with a dollop of blueberry pie filling, or a lattice-pie crust cupcake topper.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

How to make lattice-design, pie crust topper:

Make two pie crusts. They can be either from scratch, or you can use prepared, roll-out crusts.

Roll them out thin, to about 1/4″. One crust should be placed on a silpat mat or parchment paper. The other crust should be placed alongside it.  Use a rolling pizza cutter, to make thin, vertical strips on both crusts.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

The crust on the mat (or parchment paper) will be the one to place in the oven. The crust set to the side, will be used to weave in the tight, lattice design.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.comIt’s really simple, but takes patience and time, to make a lattice design, especially when it’s tight like this one. Start from the left and work your way to end, or the right-side. You’ll take each strip over and under, until you reach the top. Once you have it all latticed-up, use a cookie cutter to cut as many small (1″ is best) circles as possible. Remove the access dough around the cut circles.

Place the mat/parchment paper onto a cookie sheet. Brush circles with egg wash (one egg white, whisked) and sprinkle with a liberal amount of granulated sugar. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool completely, before placing onto your frosted cupcakes.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

Blueberry Pie Tartlets 

If you want to cut strait to the finger-foods, I recommend making sweet little tartlets. You’ll want to go back to my previous posts, with my recipes for how to make either Gluten-Free Pie Crust, or Shortbread Tart Crust. Either one is divine. The shortbread is a little more dense than that pie crust, which will be more flakey (but they tend to shrink a little). I personally prefer the shortbread crust, since it will provide a more consistent and easier-to-work-with result for these petite treats.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

My daughter made the tartlets all on her own. She did a wonderful job! She opted for the gluten-free pie crust recipe. She rolled it out on a silpat mat, used the tartlet cutter and placed each piece of dough in the tin. She used an egg wash and then filled the tartlets with one heaping tablespoon of prepared blueberry pie filling.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

In a 375 degree oven, they baked for 18-20 minutes. When the crust was golden brown, she removed them from the oven. After they cooled, she garnished them with a sprinkling of crystalized sugar.

They were beautiful and delicious! She was very proud of her work and that was the best part.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

If for some strange, wonderful reason, you have extra blueberry pie filling, I recommend you save it in the refrigerator. You can enjoy it for up to a week in a sealed container.

One of my other favorite things to do with this filling is to top (or fill) pancakes with it. It’s outrageously good! For my Simple Saturday Pancakes Recipe, please see the link to my post.

Take care and enjoy!

xox, Mili

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.com

‘cirque du bebe’ shower

It’s a truly special feeling to be trusted with special celebrations, or moments that people cherish for their whole life. It was years ago when I catered, set and styled this dessert table in the ‘circ du bebe’ shower theme for my friend who was hosting the party for her daughter in-law. I love this woman and her style! To top it off, she has an incredibly talented daughter. The two of them really  really know how to put a party together! They did an outstanding job and every detail of the backyard venue was gorgeous.

The party was all about beautiful creating “abudanza,” a phrase I know very well. There are celebrations in life where more is the way to go. When you have so many loved ones with you, all you want is for them to feel comfortable and enjoy. I prepared a full assortment of cookies, eclairs, candy and cupcakes – more than enough, for guests to enjoy more than one treat!

The theme was inspired by a party idea posted by Hostess With the Mostess. I made the custom dessert labels to match the chosen colors in aqua, orange, yellow and white.

My favorite decoration was this floral centerpiece. My large vase was taken beyond my expectations! I helped style the arrangement and Karen from Franco’s Flower to put it all together. She always does such an incredible job!

The orange roses and yellow daisies peeking out from the hydrangea make such a great combination. Of all the baby showers I’ve catered and styled over the years, this is by far my favorite floral arrangement of all.

The cupcakes looked great on the white pedestal plating, trimmed with orange or yellow ribbon. The assortment included Strawberry Shortcake, Creme Brulee, Ding Dong, Lemonade, Orange Cream and Red Velvet.

I loved plating the cookies and candy, and took my time to make every offering look pretty and special.

I couldn’t get over the details put together by the hosts! The entryway sign, the paper lanterns and the beverage station were all so beautiful! I love the Fallone family! They are a blessing, and baking and setting dessert tables for their parties is one of my favorite things to do.

xox

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