October 28, 2013

EAT: s'mores cupcakes with homemade graham cracker cake, chocolate ganache and toasted marshmallow frosting



Whoever invented s'mores is pretty much a genius in my book.  Graham crackers sandwiching sweet chocolate and a toasted marshmallow that melts it all together into warm, gooey, melty, crunchy goodness.  Droooooooool.  I wanted to translate this fun fireside treat into yummy cupcake form (perfect for a halloween treat!).  I made sure the cake part was the "graham cracker", and that it still had the melted chocolate element.  Most importantly, I wanted to incorporate the funnest part - toasted marshmallow!  

There are three different elements to this cupcake - (graham cracker cake, chocolate ganache drizzled over it, and finally a toasted marshmallow frosting) but trust me, the extra step is worth it!  DELICIOUSNESS.





Graham Cracker Cake (recipe via CruiseGourmet.com)

Ingredients:
3 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Break 8 graham crackers into blender container, cover and process to grind. Empty contents into mixing bowl and repeat with remaining graham crackers, add baking powder and salt.  
Put egg yolks, milk, shortening, sugar and vanilla into blender container, cover and process until smooth.  Add to cracker crumbs and mix well.  
Beat egg whites with mixer until stiff.  Fold into cracker mixture.  
Pour into cupcake papers and bake 18-22 minutes, or when toothpick comes out clean when poking the cake.
Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then finish cooling on a wire rack.  


Basic Chocolate Ganache (recipe via Chow.com)

Ingredients:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 
1 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Instructions:
Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside
Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Pour over chocolate and let stand until chocolate has softened, about 5 minutes.
Add butter and stir until smooth.  Let cool slightly before using.
Spoon the ganache over the top of the cupcakes to form a layer of chocolate on top.  You can repeat this step after the ganache sets if you'd like a thicker layer of chocolate.


Marshmallow Frosting (recipe via MarthaStewart.com)

Ingredients:
8 large egg whites
2 c. sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Piping bag for icing, or large sandwich bag
Kitchen torch (I got mine at World Market, $20 - most torches will also need butane)


Instructions:
Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer.  Set over a saucepan with simmering water.  Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add vanilla, and mix until combined. 
Place icing into your piping bag.  If you're using a sandwich bag, place the icing in and cut the tip of the bag to use.
Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes, starting from the outer edges going inwards and upwards.
Lightly torch the outside of the marshmallow frosting.






BOOGIDDY BOO!!
xoxo, NB

October 22, 2013

WEAR: saint laurent baby duffle and chanel caviar clear box clutch


The battle of the bags: small versus big, leather versus plastic, structured vs slouchy, tote vs cross body and etc.  Not all bags are created equally and we feel it will be a battle fought for eternity.  There is no winner, there is just preference and what situations lend itself for the appropriate bag.  For those times, events or places where you only need your keys, wallet and phone, a small bag is our bag of choice!  A smaller bag is very chic and can dress up any drab outfit.  A bag shouldn't just be to carry things but like any other accessory, it should compliment your outfit.  And this post is exactly about that: jazzing up your outfit with wrist swag like below and shoulder swag like our bags of choice here. So go 'head girl, get inspired! 





Featuring: Saint Laurent Classic Baby Duffle, Chanel caviar leather card holder, Michael Kors watch similar here, Zara clear box clutch, Brandy Pham Lovely Ring

Photography: Andrew Chan

October 20, 2013

EAT: tomato, avocado and corn salad



Tomato, avocado and corn salad = easy, simple and delicious.  This is one of my favorite side salads (or light lunches) to make when I want something fast and fresh.  It only takes a few minutes to throw together, so I often make this on days when I'm strapped for time.  Plus, I'm a huge tomato and avocado fan so I usually have these ingredients on hand most of the time.  I usually like to keep it simple with olive oil and lemon juice, but I'll sometimes add a few drops of truffle oil and any fresh herbs I have on hand to give it a flavor boost.  

Ingredients:

- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes (preferably heirloom if you can find them)
- 1 large avocado
- 2 ears of corn (you can also used canned/frozen corn, but fresh is always best!)
- Olive oil 
- Fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- Truffle oil (optional)


Instructions:

1.  Wash and cut the tomatoes.  The cherry tomatoes can be halved, or if using large tomatoes remove seeds and dice into large chunks 
2.  Wash and cut the avocado into cubes (click here if you need steps on how to cut avocados)
3.  You can either boil your corn (3-10 min in boiling water), or microwave it (roughly 5 min).  After the corn cools, use a knife to cut the kernels from the cob
4.  Put the tomatoes, avocado and corn into a large bowl and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil, then add a splash of lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste. 
5.  For added flavor, chop fresh herbs into the salad (I love adding cilantro, parsley or dill) or add a few drops of truffle oil.  




Happy (and healthy) Eating!
xoxo, NB

October 9, 2013

WEAR: booties for fall


We've picked 5 booties (above) to help you transition into fall and to reboot your autumn wardrobe. Find out where to get these booties on the Pickie app! Or find the story here on their site: Reboot for fall. 

October 7, 2013

HOME: fun flower pots and planters







I previously picked up some new flower pots and planters for some of my growing succulents that were running out of room in their current homes (see my previous post on my border line obsession with succulents).  The fun part of adding plants to your home is not just picking out what kind of plant you want, but also what you'll put it in!  Sky's the limit, and the less conventional the better in my opinion.  

I went with some fun animal planters (hedgehog and barracuda!), as well as a painted ceramic mug I found on sale.  I've also used candle holders and wooden boxes in the past.  Next up I think I'll try some old tea tins or cans.  What are some of your favorite containers to house plants in?








painted ceramic mug and barracuda planter: Antropologie
hedgehog planter: West Elm

xoxo, NB

October 1, 2013

WEAR: DIY graphic t-shirts



We don't have to tell you that graphic t-shirts are trending right now, they are making their own STATEMENTS everywhere you turn. Everyone has something to say, or more specifically their shirts have something to say! Some of our favorites are the simple one worded ones like RESPECT and CELFIE  (so many plays on Celine) on plain tees designed and sold by Sincerely Jules.  In the past, graphic tees epitomized the casual and relaxed style.  However, gone are the days of graphic 'humor tees' from A&F.   In it's reincarnation, the 'humor' still exists but more so in minimalistic typography (what we tried to do here), photographs, animals (cue in the tiger face sweaters and shirts), and abstract designs.  It is also a bit more elevated with designer offerings from 3.1 Phillip Lim, YSL and Celine.   But true to it's nature, graphic t-shirt's presence is not just designer but it's existence is ubiquitous, from Brian Lichtenberg to Brandy Melville to ZARA! Whether high end or low end or DIY (like us!), right now it's a style staple to express oneself with funny sayings, funny play on famous designers, funky prints and artsy designs.

We live for casual cool wear so we took a stab at making our own shirts with the infamous phrase YOLO -lends itself to so many situations and jokes (thanks Drake and generation young bucks). And we also played around with a simple numbered design on a jersey-like crop tee with 99 in the front and XX in the back.  Please read on below to check how we made it and to see more pics of how we styled them! 



Materials:
  •  Transfer paper: Michaels, $18 for 10-pack or Amazon, $13 for 12-pack  (there's different transfer paper for light and dark fabrics, so make sure you choose according to your fabric color)
  •  Plain cotton sweater or tshirt: we got both from H&M, for less than $20
  •  Ink jet printer: the transfer paper won't work on laser printers
  •  Graphic designs to print (see below for our free designs you can download and print yourself!)
  •  Iron and a sturdy surface (I covered a wooden cutting board with a pillowcase)
  • Scissors

Instructions:
  1. Print out the designs on the transfer paper using your ink jet printer (the YOLO will be a mirror image (standard transfer paper) and the 99/XX is non-mirror image (transfer paper for dark fabrics)).  Be sure to read directions on the transfer paper packaging (they are not all the same).
  2. Cut the designs out, trying to get as close to the edges as possible (but not on the lines).  This will minimize the clear shine you might see around the images after ironing.
  3. Follow the directions on the transfer paper packaging to iron the image on, making sure to press firmly along all the edges.
  4. After the image is cool, slowly peel off the paper backing.

We've posted before on how to do this in our baby onsie post and pineapple and watermelon cover-up post.  Please refer back to those posts if you need more inspiration or guide. :)






Mixing and matching graphic tees with flirty skirts (as we did here), cigarette pants, blazers,  high-end accessories and fabulous pair of shoes is really all it takes to transform a casual look into less casual.  What do you guys think of the resurgence of the graphic t-shirt?  Let us know in the comments below.

xoxo, NB

Michelle: YOLO shirt: DIY // skirt: H&M // shoes: Zara // clear clutch: Zara // wallet: Chanel // necklace: DIY // sunglasses:  Louis Vuitton // watch: Omega

Margaret: 99 XX shirt: DIY // skort: Zara // shoes: Zara // bag: Saint Laurent // necklace: H&M // sunglasses:  Carrera Racing // watch: Michael Kors