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February 19, 2020

Lia's Lemon Ricotta Cookies



One of my mom friends at school is an amazing cook.  She's the type that drops off homemade carrot cake cupcakes loaded with nuts and dried fruit and super soft cream cheese icing when her daughter comes for a playdate (as I hide the bag of chips and Oreos I set out) or brings super nutritious and delicious salads with roasted beets and sweet potatoes (another recipe I need to share...) over for dinner to go with the pizza you've ordered.  You might think that I would be that type of mom, too, but I'm definitely not... sometimes I can be, but not on a regular basis anyways.

She brought these lemon cookies over for a casual dinner one night last spring and I could not stay away from them.  Apparently they are based on the Nordstrom Lemon Ricotta Cookies, but in our house they are called Lia's Lemon Cookies.

left : Cello Bags & Satin Ribbon



The dough is rather soft so cookies require freezing before you bake to ensure that they are moist and tender inside.  I used a Small Scoop to form them, then put them in the freezer on a small baking sheet to freeze them.  When they were frozen solid (after a couple of hours) I transferred them to a plastic bag.  I just baked 8 at a time a large baking sheet and will save the rest for later - one of my typical tricks.

Lia's Lemon Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of fine sea salt
2 sticks of butter, softened to room temp
2 cups of sugar
2 large eggs
16 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
zest of 6 lemons (save the lemon juice for glaze)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

glaze :
1 stick of butter
3 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
zest of lemon (for garnish that I forgot)

In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together with the paddle attachment for 3 minutes.  Add eggs in one at a time.  Mix in ricotta cheese, lemon and zest.  Gradually add the flour, baking powder and sea salt and mix just until combined.  Do not over mix - it will be very soft.




On a Small Baking Sheet lined with Parchment Paper  scoop out the dough using a Small Scoop   Freeze for a couple of hours until solid. 



Transfer to a plastic bag and freeze until you need to use them, or bake.




Shape the scooped dough into balls by rolling in your hands.  I did not do this for the first batch and they looked sort of like footballs.

Baking on a Large Baking Sheet lined with Parchment Paper Sheets


Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.



Let the cookies cool before you glaze.


To make the glaze, melt the butter in the microwave.  Meanwhile, sift the powdered sugar so there are no lumps.  Using a whisk, mix together the melted butter, sifted powdered sugar and lemon juice until a nice thick glaze forms.  Add more powdered sugar if too thin, or lemon juice if too thick.



This is a new tool in my kitchen.  My daughter insisted on it now that she's been watching Kids Baking Championship - apparently, they all sift their dry ingredients.  I am not really that much of a perfectionist for baking, but I do use it when I don't want any lumps in my super smooth and shiny glaze.  We've also used it to strain seeds out of our strawberry jam and to sift almond flour when making macaroon.  


Spoon over the lemon glaze on top of each.  You could drizzle if you prefer, but I love the generous dollop on top that runs down the sides.


I might not have waited for these to completely cool, which may have made the glaze run a little too much.  See the back right one?  : )


I packaged some up in Cello Bags and tied with my favorite special satin ribbon.

Products Used :

Small Baking Sheet
Large Baking Sheet
Parchment Paper Sheets
Small Scoop
Large Mesh Sifter
Cello Bags
Satin Ribbon

The Medium Bag has 4 cookies and the Small Bag has 2 cookies.  It would be a darling favor for a spring shower - gobbled up as soon as they got in the car.



February 11, 2020

Ideas for Valentine's Dinners at Home


Valentine's Dinners at Home
We are big fans of Valentine's Dinners at home. During this brief period that we have a daughter whose favorite thing to do is to spend time with us, our Valentine's plans always include her. Her absolute favorite thing to do is to have a stay-at-home night with dinner, games and/or a movie.
Here are some our our favorite menus for a luxurious night in.
What about you? Stay in or go out?
Above : Seared Steaks + Truffled Mac & Cheese
I picked these flowers up at Trader Joes - simple flowers really do make the best settings.  These are "sweetheart" or "spray" roses in three colors.


Baked Goat Cheese Appetizer (the easier appetizer you'll ever make)


I hardy ever order a steak at a restaurant because I love how we prepare them at home the best.  It is so easy to make a great steak at home.  Seared Steaks >


Angel Hair pasta with Shrimp, Spinach & Mushrooms in a light white wine cream sauce.

Homemade Turtles with Pecans, Salted Caramel & Milk Chocolate.  So good and so delicious to make >

February 08, 2020

The New (in Real Life) Shop



I've danced around this a little bit on Insta and have been meaning to get this out there for a couple of weeks now - I am opening up a shop, in real life.  (!!!!!)  It has been in the works since early December, and then became official at the beginning of January.  With so many things to get going quickly (and keeping up with the online store launches), I haven't had the time to get all of my ideas out on 'paper' for you.  So, I'm up early this morning to let you in on all of the fun news.

This has been something I've been working for (or around?) for the last 15 years.  When I first quit my job this was my first business plan - a real store.  My dreams were quickly snuffed with warnings of the cost of overhead.  So many people will talk you out of opening up a retail store.  So, I started a business out of my home instead, catering and party planning.  I drummed up business the old fashioned way, handing out fliers, dropping boxes of brownies off at potential customers, email newsletters and word of mouth.  That party planning business turned into a blog, that turned into an online store and 15 years later I finally feel like I'm in a place where I can safely move into a real location - let's hope!


The location of the store is what dreams are made of, truly.  I've walked past this store for 12 years since I first moved to the area.  I've been regularly calling the owner for at least 6 years to "let me know if anything opens up."  In fact, last fall I looked at another location and Mike asked me if there was anywhere else that I'd rather be.  This was it.  He advised I hold out for the tiptop of my list.  A month later I saw the for rent sign in the window.

Known as the Shops of Westwood Hills, it is a handsome row of shops that was built in the 1920's.  It is in the Kansas City area, just west of the Plaza in Westwood Hills, Kansas.  (I'll share the official address when we are officially open.)  


I'll be one of 5 businesses in the block - The Little Flower Shop, The Little Shop Next DoorAnnedore's Fine ChocolatesHi Hat Coffee and Me.  All of my new neighbors are the best of the best in Kansas City- I can't believe that my little store will be a part of them.  

You can read a recent article about the shops, here.


Hi Hat is the most adorable micro mini coffee shop in an old filling station.  Why can't gas stations be this cute today?!



I took this photo last year on a dreamy, snowy morning on my daily walk to HiHat for coffee.  This is where I'll be - around the corner all the way on the right.  I share a wall with Annedore's and it literally smells like delicious chocolate at all times of the day.  


Ok, let's get to the fun part.  Here is the vision board for the new space.  Not only will it be a retail space, but it will also be my creative studio.  It will be a little more feminine and cottagy than our real home.  I want it to be my dream space - the freshest, coziest spot ever for me to work and create.  There will be a lot of the same elements from our home - same paint, lots of trim and built-ins, cream upholstery, etc.  But I'll be incorporating more of a cottagey, crafty feel.  
Because all of these new visions bring new visions for my entire brand, I have been working on a new logo treatment.  Nothing is final, but I love this so far.  I'll share more as I progress into a solid scheme.  Have no fear about the online store going anywhere.  The online store will still be my main focus.  I'm hoping that the store will actually provide me with more support for the online store and free me up creatively to dream up more custom products for all of us.


This is the inside as we acquired it.  I'll be replacing the floors with wood-like flooring for a more neutral look.  I really tried to work with the charming checkered floor, but I think it is just not my aesthetic - though I love it in other stores.  We'll be adding lots of woodwork and trim, built-ins and antiques.

This is the overhead layout of the space.  There will be a dining area setup with a big farmable, a couple of built-in cases around the perimeter, lots of antique fixtures that I've had so much fun acquiring, and an open studio work space for me near the back.

I'll share more details as we get underway - most will probably be behind the scenes looks via instagram or my email newsletter.  


Our amazing builder, Noblit+Didier, (who built our house) is saving the day by squeezing me in between big projects.  I can't wait to show you how they've already transformed the space in just a couple of days.  Their work is the best, they are just so good and professional at their craft.

Thank you so much for all of the positive words of excitement for me.  This is such a dream come true for me and I am savoring every minute of the process.  We hope to be open in April.  Gah!  Can't believe it.  I'll share some possible grand opening dates soon.   Happy Weekend!!


January 28, 2020

Puppy Love Cake using Heart Pans



When I was in elementary school, I remember my Granny having a cake decorating booklet that gave creative ideas for turning a sheet cake into something special.  After a quick internet search, I found some images from a 1956 pamphlet that look very similar to what I remember.


I can remember pouring over these pages.  Such creative solutions out of simple shapes and ingredients.




If you browse around on Pinterest, you'll find some amazing examples that are similar to this.  There is something so nostalgic about these cakes.  I love thinking of ingenious women through the ages that craft things out of nothing, just for their family's delight.  



I went down this memory lane after discovering one such inspirational example on Pinterest where a heart-shaped pan was used to create a puppy cake.  While the cake doesn't cream Valentine's Day, there is a black heart-shaped nose that nods it in that direction.

We used coloring to mimic that of Mr. Darcy, but a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting would be adorable, too.

Puppy Love Cake
Supplies & Instructions

1-2 Heart Pans
Parchment Paper
Disposable Piping Bags
Off-set Spatula
1 box cake mix, prepared (oil, eggs & water)
2 sticks of butter (1 softened, 1 melted)
2 cups of powdered sugar
food coloring (brown, black & pink)
White Melting Chocolate (for tongue)

Cake :

You will need two heart cakes.  We have 2 Heart Pans so we were able to bake both cakes at once.  If you only purchase, one you can just make the cakes in batches.

I always line my pans with Parchment Paper on the bottom and the sides.  Cakes come out perfectly every single time.

Frosting :

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together softened butter with powdered sugar.  When combined, begin adding melted butter until you've reached the consistency you would like.  There is a bit of trial involved with this method - if you feel it is too thick, add more melted butter.  If you feel it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.  You are going for a tad thicker whipped cream consistency.


Tint the frosting :

Frosting Black : Eyes & Nose
Beige : Ears & Spot
Leave White : Head

Put each of the three frostings into a Disposable Piping Bag (I like the large 18" size for buttercream).

Pink Tongue

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in a glass bowl 30 seconds at a time until melted.  Add a tiny drop of red or pink to make color.  On a sheet of Parchment Paper  shape it into a tongue shape using a piping bag or just a spoon and let it cool.  After about 5 minutes it will be set and you can add it to the cake.


Parchment Paper


When cakes have cooled, place one in the middle, upside down.  Cut the 2nd cake in half and turn it upside down for ears.  Trim the "ears" in a bit to fit around the head.


I frosted the white head first, then the ears and the spot.  The best technique is to outline the shapes, then fill in and smooth out with an offset spatula or a knife.   We added the eyes and the nose, then inserted the pink tongue. 


Such a fun and easy project that took just an hour after school.  My favorite thing to do is to teach her how to make something out of nothing with her own hands - so satisfying. 



January 24, 2020

The Valentines Collection | Sweet & Simple



At the beginning of last year, I wrote how I felt like I had really gotten the hang of this store thing.  By mid-December I was already ordering Valentine's inventory - I had this all figured out.  This year I feel like I'm behind on everything.  I have a good excuse for feeling a bit overwhelmed with work that I'll share next week (many of you saw some hints in my Insta stories).  It is a big project that I've been working towards since I quit my real job 16 years ago.  I'm opening a store.  There!  I ruined the surprise.  I am opening up an "in real life" store near our home that I'll use as a creative studio and retail space.  Ah!

The last month has been a little up in the air finalizing the contract, making plans, designing the space, etc. and has sucked up most of my working hours.  With the extra planning and dreaming that has been going on, I've craved simplicity everywhere else.

As I contemplated the Valentine's Collection with my head still buzzing from the Holidays, I kept trying to come up with something extra - maybe a woodblock inspired graphic for the tag, or a antique feeling full color something... and all I could wrap my brain around was a simple pale pink heart.  It was tugging at me.  Keep it simple.  The more I leaned into the idea of keeping Valentine's Day as pure and simple as possible, the more I embraced it.  

After everything that the Holiday season is, Valentine's should be simple - delicious treats wrapped with pretty ribbon and a heart.  I'm also convinced that everything doesn't have to be tinted pink or red and formed into the shape of a heart (though that can be fun, too).  Instead, make your very favorite cookie recipe of all time, spend a cozy afternoon baking and wrapping them with love.  That's it.  No pressure, no obligations, just giving from the heart.  I love Valentine's Day.

Shop the Valentine's Collection, here >









We made this Puppy Cake out of two heart cakes and really simple icing decorations.  The heart nose makes it adorable for Valentine's Day.  I'll share a tutorial soon.





"love" script cupcakes with Dripping Chocolate Icing recipe >






 Heart Cake topped with easy Buttercream Flowers using Floral Tips





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