Berry Pie and 4th of July!

Happy 4th(well almost) Cupboard followers!

Can you believe that summer is already upon us?  I must admit, I have missed the smell of summer air and those wonderful golden rays of sun that seem to penetrate your skin and warm you from the inside out.  And raise your hands if you love a nice cool drink by the pool?  (I raised both….)  Hooray for the summer season!

Not only does summer bring longer days and warmer nights, but along with all the other pleasantries comes the celebration of the birth of our great nation.  Yay America!  Fourth of July was always such a big deal for our family, and it’s something I can’t wait to celebrate with our kids when we have them.  I remember Mom decking Megan and I out in our matching red, white and blue ensembles, and walking just only five houses down the street to our cousins home for the most spectacular BBQ.

It was always such an incredible spread of all our summer favorites.  Burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, the most delicious and flaky home made pies, watermelon, corn on the cob, and all the ice cream us kids could get our sticky hands on.  It’s no wonder I became such a foodie when I grew up….it was the center of everything we did.  And looked like something straight out of a Martha Stewart catalog.  Our mom’s made it look so effortless, and still do.

So this year, to pay homage to our patriotic family gatherings of yesteryear, I made an All American dessert spread for  a friend’s BBQ this Saturday.  Triple Berry Pie with my very own Almond Pie Crust recipe, red velvet truffles, and red, white and blue chocolate dipped waffles cones with homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, that will surely be devoured before it even has a chance to melt and create those sweet and sugary streams down the sides of the cone.  My mouth is watering…..

I wish everyone a very Happy and SAFE Fourth of July.  And let us not forget the wonderful and truly amazing country that we get to wake up in, and celebrate our freedoms each and every day.  I may be a proud and fiery mix of my Latin and Mediterranean parents, but I am also deeply proud to be an AMERICAN.  Every single day.

May God Bless the USA,


4th of Juluy Berry Pie and Rolling Pin4th of July Star Cookie Cutter4th of July Berry Pie Unbaked4th of July Star Pie Top4th of July '17 Table4th of July Berry '17 Pie and Flag4th of July '17 Waffle Cones4th of July '17 Red Velvet Truffles4th of July '17 Ryan & Pie4th of July '17 Old Photos Close Up4th of July '17 Old Photos

Triple Berry Pie with Toasted Almond Pie Crust

  • Prepare 2 disks Toasted Almond Pie Crust (recipe below) and refrigerate 30min.
  • All-purpose flour, for surface
  • 7 1/2 cups mixed raspberries and sliced strawberries, and blackberries
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Salt
  • 1 large egg
  • Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Roll out 1 disk pie dough to about 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Press dough into bottoms and up sides of desired pie plate. Trim excess dough flush with edges of pie plates using a knife, or crimp edges.
  3. Stir together berries, sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt. Fill pie shells with berry filling.
  4. Whisk together the egg. Roll out remaining disk of dough to about 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut out stars using cookie cutters, a knife, or a pastry wheel.
  5. Brush the pie top with the egg wash, and sprinkle your sanding sugar. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake until juices are bubbling and tops are golden brown, 60 to 75 minutes. (Tent with foil if crusts are getting too dark.) Let cool.

Lauren’s Toasted Almond Pie Crust

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ground toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut up, or shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup ice water
  1. Preheat oven to 375-400
  2. Place whole almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 20 minutes.  Every oven is different so check them periodically.  They could toast In more or less time.
  3. Once almonds have toasted, allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  Place in grinder and grind until a fine almond flour is achieved.
  4. In a food processor mix together flour, ground almonds, sugar and salt.
  5. Add shortening to the flour mixture, in tablespoon dollops, and add the butter cut into small pieces.  Pulse until mixture has turned into pea size crumbles.
  6. Add almond extract and water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse after each tablespoon. Continue until dough forms a large ball in the mixer. Lightly flour your surface and  knead the dough ball gently until it holds together. Divide pastry in half; form disks and refrigerate  half an hour.

No-Bake Red Velvet Truffles (courtesy of Southern Living)

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup red velvet cake mix
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate morsels
  • 4 oz. Red vanilla candy melts
  • 4 oz. Royal Blue vanilla candy melts
  1. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add flour, cake mix, salt and vanilla, mixing until combined. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough consistency is formed.
  2. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet. Chill truffle dough for at least 15 minutes or until firm.
  3. Melt white candy melts according to package directions. Using a fork or dipping tool dip truffle balls into melted candy, rolling to coat. Place on wax paper to dry (about 15 minutes).
  4. Melt blue candy melts according to package directions and place in a zip top bag or small piping bag. Cut the tip off the bag. Drizzle blue candy melts over the truffles. Sprinkle the tops with a small amount of red nonpareils, if desired. Chill truffles until ready to serve.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla bean paste
  1. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.
  2. Turn on the ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for at least 2 hours.
  3. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Italian Wedding Cookies

Well, it’s been quite some time since I’ve been able to step foot in the kitchen and really take the time to bake something, start to finish.  But turns out, I have a good reason…..on April 25th, the night before hoping on a plane for some little R&R in Maui, my oh so clever beau pulled the unexpected.  He asked me to be his forever and I could not have been more elated and surprised.  So surprised in fact, that I almost forgot to say yes!  But of course, once I was brought back to reality from the cloud I was dancing on, I couldn’t say it fast enough.

I will always cherish the way he choose to do it, too.  In front of my family (who I think were left in as much shock and awe as I was), just after prayer, as we were all gathered around the table, about to sit down and eat.  In our jeans and T-Shirts at my Nannu’s and Zia’s home.  So very us.  No fuss or frills, but with my family who loves us both so much, as we do them.  And we have been celebrating with friends and relatives every moment since that day.  Turns out there were a lot of people who were waiting for this just as long as I had…

So this weekend, in honor of saying yes to my Italian fiancé (still getting used to that), I chose to bake some old fashion Italian Wedding Cookies.  A classic, that’s just sweet enough.  I am so looking forward to planning our wedding this coming year, and all the memories that are going to follow…

P.S. I can’t forget to mention that one of my best girlfriends got engaged just TWO days before I did.  No it was not planned. Our significant others are just so darn good at keeping secrets, they forgot to even tell each other! How fun is that????

Happy Tastings,

Lauren (Future Mrs. Loiacono)

Italian Wedding Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup of Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Ground Almonds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Almond Extract
  • 3 cups of Sifted All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/3 cup of Confectioners’ Sugar for rolling


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Cream the butter in a bowl and gradually add the powder sugar, and salt.  Beat until light and fluffy.

3. Add the almonds and vanilla extract and blend.

4. Add the flour, one cup at a time and mixing after each.

5. Shape into balls. I used a small cookie dough scoop so that the sizing stayed consistent, and rolled them with my hands to make them smooth before placing on the baking sheet.

6. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.

7. Allow cookies to cool completely before rolling in the powder sugar.

Italian Wedding Cookies Dipped in SugarItalian Wedding Cookies Table 2Italian Wedding Cookies Close UpItalian Wedding Cookies RingItalian Wedding Cookies Magazines


Mini Robin Egg Pound Cakes

Happy (Early) Easter  Everyone!

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet, as this weekend is filled with much to do!  My little cousin is flying in from Cleveland, and as always, there is never enough time for us to catch up.  So we’ve packed the weekend with things to do to make the most of her short trip here.  But before I run off to our little weekend reunion, I thought I’d share the sweets I made for this Sunday’s Easter gathering with my family.   Mini Robins Egg Pound Cakes.

Since cupcakes were the dessert of choice last year, I wanted to try something different this time around.  However, I still like the idea of everyone having their own individual desserts on their plates, so I chose the route of mini pound cakes.  And since this Sunday is Easter after all, I chose to keep it festive and turn them into chocolate covered Robin’s Eggs.  Because how cute and Spring-y is that?

A few helpful tips when making these….First, I made my pound cakes the night before from scratch and froze them, but you can absolutely use a store bought if you are running short on time.  Second, make sure you cover your surface with parchment paper before speckling the cakes….it tends to get a little messy.  Which brings me to my third tip, wear some clothes that you don’t mind getting a little food coloring on.  Because it WILL absolutely happen!  Enjoy….

A Happy and Blessed Easter from me to you.

Happy Tastings,


Mini Robins Egg Cakes CutoutsEaster Egg Cookie CutterMini Robins Egg Chocolate CoverMini Robins Egg Pound Cakes SpeckledMini Robins Egg Pound Cake Speckles Close UpMini Robins Egg Pound Cake Plated


  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-11 oz bags of white chocolate chips (one for each color)
  • 6 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • Brown food coloring
  • 2 tbsp water


Preheat oven to 350°.

  1. Cream butter and shortening together.
  2. Next, add sugar a little at a time.
  3. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Add vegetable oil and mix until incorporated.
  5. In another bowl, stir dry ingredients together then add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour.
  6. Mix in vanilla.
  7. Pour into a greased and floured pound cake pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Allow cake to cool, then cut in half lengthwise.
  9. Using am egg shaped cookie cutter, cut out individual cakes.
  10. Melt two tablespoons shortening over a double broiler on low heat.
  11. Once it has melted, add one bag of chocolate chips to the pot and stir until melted.
  12. Pour into bowl and add desired food coloring.
  13. Pour over mini pound cakes, remove any excess chocolate and allow to harden.
  14. Repeat with remaining bags of chocolate chips, using a different color for each batch.
  15. Once the chocolate has hardened, mix your brown food coloring with the water.  Using a cooking brush, dip the ends of the brush into to brown color mixture and tap the brush over the mini cakes.  (You may need to test once or twice on parchment paper before going to the cakes).
  16. Allow food coloring to dry, serve.




St. Patty’s Day Pistachio Rum Cake

Happy Thursday All!

It’s the 16th of March and if you are a history buff like me, you know that yesterday, being the 15th, was the Ides of March.  Which for me also means watching Ryan Gosling’s movie of the same title.  And if I can somehow parlay Ryan Gosling into a tradition of any kind, I will do so.   Not only does the 16th of March mean I woke up with sweet dreams of Mr. G’s devilish good looks on my mind, but it also puts us one day out from St. Patrick’s Day AND the new Beauty and The Beast movie.  I mean could this weekend get ANY better???  Unless I find a pot of gold lying around somewhere, I don’t think so.

Growing up, my Mom was big on tradition, and cooking particular foods for certain holidays.  For us, St. Patrick’s day meant fresh baked green bagels in the morning and the most amazing corn beef and cabbage dinner (left overs made for perfect sandwiches on rye bread the next day).  Both of which I can’t wait to indulge in tomorrow!  So when looking for a little something sweet to follow up such a timeless tradition always perfected by Mom, I ran into a bit of a challenge…

This year, I gave up Chocolate for lent (I have since learned that I may be an addict…don’t judge me), so I wanted to pick something that didn’t have any of my favorite sweet baked into the recipe.  Now, most St. Patrick’s Day desserts almost always have chocolate somewhere in the recipe, since it pairs so well with two very Irish flavors….Bailey’s and Guinness.  Why did I give up chocolate again???  Thankfully, I remembered a Mississippi cookbook that my Aunt Shirley gave to my Mom years back.  It had a wildly delicious Rum Cake recipe that Mom has kept marked to this day.  However, instead of the traditional version that calls for a vanilla pudding pack, Aunt Shirley made a note to substitute it for a pistachio one instead.  Doing so not only gives this cake a gorgeous mint green hue, perfect to serve on St. Patty’s Day, but it also allows for an unforeseen flavor punch that you wouldn’t expect from a typical rum cake.  Making it extra special is the fact that it is a favorite of my Zia(Aunt) Tina.  So I knew I couldn’t go wrong with this one…

The only amendments I made to this recipe was using a preservative free cake mix (Pillsbury makes a great one), and added Buttered Rum flavored icing with sprinkled chopped pistachios over the top.  Its gives this super silky cake a crunch factor that I am very fond of, and I think you will be too.  Another pleasant element of this cake, it is super easy to whip up.  So give it a try!  You won’t be disappointed.

Wishing you all a lucky and safe St. Patrick’s Day


Pistachio Rum Cake Mix and BookPisatchio Rum Cake WhiskPisatchio Rum Cake Cook BookPisatchio Rum Cake Tina LovesPisatchio Rum Cake and SlicePistachio Rum Cake SlicePistachio Rum Cake Side View

Pistachio Rum Cake



  • 1 package pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup chopped pistachios to be sprinkled later

Rum Soak

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 oz. rum

Buttered Rum Icing

  • Remaining half of Rum Soak
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan.
  2. Combine pudding mix and cake mix.
  3. Add rum, water, and oil.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and mixing after each.
  5. Bake for about 40 min in the over.
  6. Once cake is done, remove from oven and allow to cool
  7. While cake is cooling, prepare rum soak.
  8. Put sugar, water and butter in a pan on the stove.  Boil for one minute.
  9. Remove from stove and add rum.
  10. Once mixture and cake has cooled, remove cake from the pan and poke hole over the top with a toothpick.
  11. Pour half of the rum mixture over the top and let soak into the cake.
  12. Mix the remaining rum soak with the powdered sugar and pour atop of cake.
  13. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over the rum icing.


Homemade Thin Mints

Hello Cupboard followers!  It’s been quite the interesting week and half for most of us in the Salinas Valley.  This February has brought one of the most outrageous storms we have seen in a long while.  20 years to be exact.  And if you take a drive around our picturesque Monterey County, you won’t make it far without seeing the effects of those blustery 70mph winds from last Friday.  Trees down on every street, the Salinas River full and taunting an overflow, and what seems to be every other fence ripped down, leaving backyards fully exposed.  Not to mention the homes that were/still are without power for several days.  Yea, we weren’t really prepared for all of that….

But with the skies clearing up, and the looming tempest seemingly behind us (fingers crossed), I thought to reflect on one of the more delightful gifts that February has brought….Girl Scout Cookies.  Yes, it’s that time of year where it seems we can’t go anywhere without having to walk past those cookie lined table tops with sweet little girls seated behind them.  And they really don’t have to do much other than that, seeing as those cookies practically sell themselves, without any convincing from the girls in tiny uniforms.  And never mind the $5 a box for a measly 15 tiny cookies.  They are totally worth it every penny.

So I got to thinking, as I always do, of that despairing time when Girl Scout Cookies become scarce and a thing of the past again.  What if I could put together a recipe that emulated a Girl Scout classic to get us through the rest of the year?  So after some research, I thought to try the Thin Mints first.  A bit easier than tackling a Samoa or Tagalong….I’ll try those when I am feeling more ambitious.  And after going through several suggested recipes from other bloggers on the inter web, I took what I thought would work best from each and put together a recipe that I think will satisfy those cravings when the storefront tables are folded up and put away!  Of course, nothing beats the cookies straight out of the box, but I think these will do for now.  This recipe does require some patience, as each cookie is individually hand dipped in chocolate, and there are about 50 cookies.  So try this recipe when you have some time, maybe on a rainy Sunday.  And if you can manage through it, you won’t be disappointed!

Happy Tastings,


thin-mint-dough-rollthin-mints-and-melted-chocolatethin-mint-drizzle-close-upthe-buttered-cupboard-spoon-and-melted-choc*Custom wooden spoons courtesy of my bestie, Natalia.thin-mint-towerthin-mint-bite

Homemade Thin Mints


  • 1 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 tsp Peppermint Extract, plus 1 tsp for the coating
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 11 oz Semisweet Chocolate morsels
  • 5 oz Milk Chocolate morsels
  • One emptied paper towel roll,  cut in half for dough shaping


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  4. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add in egg and 3/4 tsp peppermint, mix until blended.
  6. Slowly add flour mixture into creamed mixture.
  7. Shape dough into a 1 1/2″ – 2″ round cylynder and wrap in wax or parchment paper.
  8. Fit the dough in wax paper into one half of the paper towel roll to help create a more perfectly rounded dough log.
  9. Remove from wax paper, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 1 hour to firm up.
  10. Slice dough into 1/4″ thick cookies.
  11. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, about 1/4″ apart.
  12. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.
  13. Allow to cool.
  14. Melt the shortening on a double boiler, and add half of the morsels.  Stir until chocolate is smooth and melted.  Add the remaining chocolate and tsp of peppermint.
  15. Dip cookies in the chocolate and shake off excess.
  16. Place the cookies on parchment lined sheet and place in freezer to set.
  17. Use any excess melted chocolate as an added drizzle on top of cookies for a more grown up looking Thin Mint

Valentine’s Day Pop Hearts

Growing up Valentine’s Day was never a holiday that my family made much of a to do about.  Rather than splurge on each other, my parents did the sweet thing of making Valentine’s Day more about my sister and myself.  Mom would get us little gifts, and Dad would send us flowers.  So ever since then, even when I was in relationships, I never really saw it as a day that required much.   I still had to go to work, and get up early the day after.  Plus, I have never been the girl who passed up anything she liked in a store.  So I never felt that I needed a gift just because everyone else was getting one on that day.  I’m more the girl who would rather pick up two great filets from the market, prepare a nice dinner at home, and break into a great bottle of wine.

And this year is seeming to be just like the rest.  My Mom, Sister and myself still keep the tradition where we each buy each other a little happy (typically something from the Chanel makeup counter).  Then the three of us will treat ourselves to a simple dinner made at home, and toast to the fact that we are all in good health and in the same place this year.  And of course, we will need something sweet to end the meal.

Taking a spin on a childhood favorite, I thought I would make my own homemade version of Pop Tarts.  But when you use a heart shaped cookie cutter and festive sprinkles, they are immediately transformed into Pop Hearts!  Yes, cheesy, but I don’t care.  And since I gave up eating anything containing preservatives, this recipe is a fun way to enjoy that childhood sweet treat, without the guilt.  I hope you all enjoy your days doing whatever it is you choose to do….even if it is just hanging with your cat and watching Gilmore Girls reruns on Netflix.

Happy Tastings,



Valentine’s Day Pop Hearts


For the plain dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup cold water

For the chocolate dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup cold water

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the jam filling:

  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam (or any other jam of choice)

For the chocolate filling:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cup into small cubes
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tsp milk (may need to add more if needed)
  • 1 1/4 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 drops pink food dye

For the chocolate icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp ocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, melted
  • coarse salt or sugar, for sprinkling


1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until blended. Add the shortening and pulse just until the mix is crumbly. Add the egg and cold water and pulse just until blended.  Repeat steps and ingredients for the chocolate dough.

2. Shape dough into two disks (plain and chocolate), wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

3.  While dough chills, prepare chocolate fudge filling for chocolate hearts.  Stir together cocoa powder, brown sugar, milk or cream, salt and half of the chopped milk chocolate. Place in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted. Cook mixture at a low boil, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add remaining chocolate, butter and vanilla and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool and thicken.

4. Once your dough is chilled, roll out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/8 inch thick. Take a large heart shaped cookie cutter and pop out pieces of dough hearts. Place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

6. To make the egg wash, just whisk the egg and water together until foamy. Brush half of the hearts on your sheet with the egg wash.

7. Fill two piping bags, one with jam  and the other with the cooled chocolate fudge.  Pipe a small amount  of jam on the the plain dough hearts, and pipe the fudge filling for the chocolate hearts.  Both egg washed.  I did about 1 tsp worth of jam for the plain hearts since I used a small cookie cutter, about 3″ tall.  Since my chocolate ones were a bit larger, about 5″ tall, I used a tbsp of the fudge filling. Remember not to overfill the tarts, you want them more flat than round.  Follow instructions and use the

8. Top each filled heart with a dough heart that has not been egg washed. (Plain on top of plain and chocolate on top of chocolate).  Seal the edges together with your fingers. With a fork, crimp the edges together along the entire heart. Repeat with remaining hearts.

9. Bake the pop tarts in your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until the tops are golden brown and you can see the fruit jam bubbling out of the sides.

10. Make your icing while the tarts cool. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the pink icing, set aside.  Repeat steps for the chocolate icing and keep in separate bowl.

12. Pipe or spread each glaze onto the corresponding pop hearts and top with sprinkles. Enjoy!


Churro Cupcakes

Good Afternoon Cupboard Followers!

It’s been some time since I last blogged about anything.  I must admit, all the holiday happenings took a bit out of me, and I needed some time off from running around my kitchen!  I can’t believe we are already in the last few days of the first month of the new year.  I have a sneaky suspicion 2017 is going to be another whirlwind.

January has brought the first of quite a few trips marked on my calendar this year.  And while I am not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, I did tell myself that traveling more this coming year would be something I’d like to at least try and commit to.  So, trip No.1 was Nashville (more on that later), and it was a blast, as usual.  A foodie’s dream!  So here I am, fresh off vacation, feeling ready to take on the year and get back to blogging.

First up on the blog, churro cupcakes.  With football at it’s peak and Super Bowl just around the corner, Sunday’s have become quite an exciting place to be at our house.  My mom usually puts out a tasty spread, and this Sunday she did not disappoint.  Her cuisine of choice was Mexican and her request was something sweet that went along with fully loaded nachos and carnita tacos.  These cupcakes were the perfect match!  If you are fan of cinnamon and sugar, you must give these a try!  They are so easy and may need to make another appearance come Cinco de Mayo!  Hope you get a chance to try….

Happy Tastings,



***Towel courtesy of my bestie, Natalia : )

Churro Cupcakes


  • 1 box French Vanilla cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
  • 1 small box sugar free/fat free instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Cinnamon Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

  • Baked churros, chopped into 1-2″ pieces (From local Mexican Food Market)


  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4  cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup butter, room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with about 22 paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Stir the pudding mix, sour cream, nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon into the batter to combine. Portion the batter evenly among the muffin tins, filling about 1/2 of the way full. Bake for approx. 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter and mix in sugar and cinnamon.  Using a baking brush, brush the butter mixture in top of the cupcakes and allow it to soak in.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla and cinnamon until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar in, about one cup at a time, until thick and fluffy. Use the milk to thin out the frosting if needed.
  5. Pipe frosting high onto cooled cupcakes and garnish with a freshly baked churro piece and a dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

Here we are, three days away from Christmas, and I am still completely baffled at how quickly it came.  Maybe that’s because I had my head buried in profuse amounts of flour, sugar, butter and old family cookbooks this entire month.  I truly believe we set a personal record for amounts of sweets made during the holiday season.  Now if you can only imagine, spending all my spare time prepping confections for this coming weekend had me a bit crazed.

And as much as I love spending time in the kitchen, transforming sugary elements into something you can sink your teeth into, I am so glad that this week is bake free!  Now I get to spend the next few days cramming in everything I love about Christmas and haven’t yet had the chance to do.  Watch Christmas movies old and new, read The Polar Express next to a fire, take a walk around the neighborhood admiring the sparkle of carefully affixed Christmas lights, and exchange gifts and great laughs with dear friends.  Oh, and of course, blog a traditional Christmas recipe….

When I think of Christmas, I instantly think of my Mother’s sugar cookies.  When I was little, I would sit and watch her decorate them, each one a little different than the next, but all equally whimsical.  They were almost too pretty to eat (The secret is the frosting. It sets so perfectly!).  I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to make them on my own.   In fact, during my time working for J.CREW, I never made it home for the holidays and making these sugar cookies gave me that sense of home I was missing, as small as it was.  It just wouldn’t seem like Christmas to me without these brightly colored cookies.  I do hope you all get a chance to make these, if not for this holiday but another, and enjoy them as much as my family does.  You won’t be disappointed!

Wishing you all the best, and a very Merry Christmas!



Christmas Sugar Cookies


  • • 1 cup sugar
  • • 1 cup butter, softened
  • • 3-0z cream cheese, softened
  • • ½ tsp salt
  • • ½ tsp almond extract
  • • ½ tsp vanilla
  • • 1 egg yolk
  • • 2 ¼ cups all purpose or unbleached  flour


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond extract, vanilla and egg yolk; blend well.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and stir in flour until well blended.  Chill dough for 2 hours
  3. Heat oven to 375F.
  4. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough, one third at a time, to about an 1/8 inch thickness, or a little more.
  5. Cut into desired shaped with lightly floured cookie cutters.
  6. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  8. Cool completely.  Frost and decorate as desired.



  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tsp milk (may need to add more if needed)
  • 2 ½ tbsp light corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract


  1. Mix all ingredients together until desired consistency.
  2. Separate in small bowls and add desired food coloring, based on that you need for decorating.
  3. Place in small Ziplock bag with.  Cut small hole at the corner and use to pipe frosting for more detailed decorating.

‘Tis the Season for Hot Cocoa…

Hello there cupboard followers!

What a busy time of year it is.  Every time I turn around, there’s another holiday party to attend, another batch of something sugary to be made, and my unwrapped presents dauntingly staring at me each time I walk past the hidden spot where I keep them (you can never trust my family’s prying eyes!).  So for this blog post I decided to do something a little different.  Make something for myself, rather than something that needed to be made for this season’s festivities.  And this week, I chose the ever warming, always satisfying, perfect for winter hot chocolate.

You see, while perusing the nooks and crannies of my beloved William Sonoma, I stumbled across the most darling marshmallows.  And it was there, with the happy little snowmen faces staring up at me, that I decided hot cocoa would have to make it’s way onto the blog, just so these little fella’s could make an appearance.  Or maybe I was just looking for a reason to justify purchasing two packs of festive mallows???   Although, I think my love for hot cocoa is justification enough.

And because I love this chocolate beverage so much, I thought that I would not only share my go to recipe, but also take this as an opportunity to share with you a few other ways that hot chocolate is enjoyed around the world.  In Mexico they add a bit of spice.  In Italy they drink hot chocolate so thick and so rich, you’ll actually need a smaller cup.  In Columbia they enjoy their hot chocolate with cheese.  And not just on the side, but with a small piece at the bottom of your glass.  That’s right….Cheese. In. The. Drink.

So if you are anything like me, you probably went straight to the gross factor.  BUT, after trying it, I have to say that it actually is quite tasty.  You see it’s customary for Colombians to bring out hot chocolate with their cheese and bread spread.  Sort of like what we do with wine.  Columbian hot chocolate isn’t as sweet as the American or Belgium versions that we are used to, it’s a little bit more savory….an actual perfect match for cheese.  I found that the kind of cheese most often put at the bottom of the cup is a queso fresco, or something similar.  And that mild, but salty flavor, paired with the sweet and nutty notes of the cocoa is truly blissful.  Dunk a piece of warm and toasty French bread in your cup, put a little bit of that melty cheese on top and you will have the sensational taste of Bogotá in the convenience of your very own living room.

Happy Tastings,





Lauren’s Hot Chocolate


  • 1 1/2 cups organic whole milk (or Vitamin D)
  • 1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz Ghirardelli milk  chocolate  morsels
  • 4 oz Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 tsp vanilla extractDirections


  1. Mix milk, heavy cream, and vanilla in a saucepan and warm over the stop top on medium heat
  2. Once milk is heated through, add all chocolate morsels and continue to whisk until fully melted.
  3. Add marshmallows, or some home made whipped cream to the top and enjoy.


Columbian Hot Cocoa


  • 2 cups organic whole milk (or Vitamin D)
  • Half of Nestle Abuelita hot chocolate brick
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 oz cube queso fresco


  1. Place milk, Nestle Abuelita cocoa brick in a saucepan and warm over the stop top on medium heat, whisking continually.
  2. Add brown sugar and cocoa powder once milk has warmed through, and chocolate has melted.  Continue to which until sugar and cocoa have dissolved.
  3. Place small cube of cheese at the bottom of a cup and pour the hot cocoa mixture straight from the saucepan on top.
  4. Allow to sit for 5 minutes and enjoy with a piece of warm, crunchy baguette.


Italian Hot Cocoa


  • 1 1/2 cups organic whole milk (or Vitamin D)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1½tbsp organic cornstarch


  1. Warm milk in saucepan on stove top, until warm all the way through.
  2. Remove milk from heat and place in separate bowl.
  3. In the saucepan, sift cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch and add 1/4 cup of the warm milk.  Whisk until smooth.
  4. On medium heat, add the remaining milk to the cocoa mixture and whisk continuously, for about 4-5 minutes or until the mixture starts to boil and it reaches the desired thickness.
  5. Pour into small cups and top with homemade whipped cream, dust top witch cocoa powder and enjoy.


Mexican Hot Cocoa


  • 1 tablet Abuelita Chocolate
  • 4 cups organic whole milk (or Vitamin D)
  • Sugar to tase
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste…a little goes a LONG way!)

Directions (Instructions from back of Nestle Abuelita package)

  1. Heat 4 cups milk and 1 tablet ABUELITA™ Chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix constantly with wire whisk until mixture is frothy and starts to boil.
  2. Remove from heat, add sugar, and cayenne pepper to taste.
  3. Serve immediately.


Triple Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our house!  Pointsettias placed in every corner, the tree sparkling with quite possibly every Radko ornament ever made from 1996-2015, and Dean Martin crooning classic Christmas tunes in the background.  This is most definitely my favorite time of the year.  There’s just something about the Christmas season that easily transforms me back into a little girl, and makes me believe in magic all over again.

And boy could I really use some magic now! Preferably in the form of Santa’s Elves.  Maybe he could let me borrow just one or two for all the baking that lies ahead of me this holiday season?  Probably not…I’m sure he needs them more than I do.  But hey, a girl can still hope, can’t she?  So instead of outsourcing Santa’s handy helper’s, I’ll just tackle each batch of cookies, one at a time.  First up, Triple Chocolate Pistachio cookies for my cousin’s annual Christmas gathering.

The idea for these cookies actually came from combining two of my favorites that my Godmother makes.  Creamy Pistachio and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip.  Both equally outstanding on their own, but truly divine when the ingredients are all mixed together.  The saltiness from the chopped pistachios and the creaminess from the three different flavors of chocolate compliment each other so perfectly, its almost sinful  Each bite is guaranteed to be just as packed full of flavor as the next.  And what makes these cookies a repeat recipe during this season, other than their taste, is their lovely hue of Christmas green.

Happy Tastings,


Triple Chocolate Pistachio Cookies


  • 1⅔ cups all purpose flour
  • (1) 3.4 oz box instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 milk chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup shelled and chopped salted pistachios
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Whisk together flour, pudding mix, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream sugars and butter together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.
  4. Gradually stir in dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips and pistachios. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes before baking.
  6. Preheat oven to 325F.
  7. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  8. Scoop out rounded tablespoons of cookie dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes or just until they are set. As soon as they start to brown, they are done. (Side note, I usually pull mine out at 13 minutes and use a butter knife to quickly reshape the cookies into more perfect circles.  Then place back in the oven for another 3-4 minutes.  I find that this helps them not to look to flat on the edges.)
  10. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet.
  11. Melt semisweet chocolate chips over a double boiler.  (I find when it comes to melting chocolate, fresh is best.  So make sure your bag was purchased within the last 6 months.)
  12. Scoop chocolate into a Ziploc bag, with a small hole cut at the corner, and pipe the chocolate onto the cookies.
  13. Allow chocolate to dry and enjoy.