Wednesday’s with WinniE’s (May 6th…from somewhere SPECIAL!)

Hey guys! This week I am writing my blog post from the most charming, bohemian and local coffee shop. It’s located smack dab in the heart of New Orleans, Louisiana. The name of the coffee shop is MOJO, but more about them in next weeks post. This week I want to share with you all the newest creation in the WinniE’s Bakery “test kitchen”! I made a 6inch round, 3 layer, triple chocolate cake with Salted Caramel buttercream for my sister-in-law (Heidi’s) bridal shower. I had so much fun making this little confection for her. It’s been wonderful, restoring and healing for my spirit to be back in the kitchen, just baking and cooking whatever my little heart and the crazy imagination in my head throw together. I was deeply influenced by the blossoming of the buds on the trees and wild flowers dancing in grass. So, here is how the cake turned out…

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floral elements

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and now for the finished product…eek!

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I kept with the theme and harmony my brother and Heidi are striving to cultivate into their upcoming nuptials. Heidi’s wedding shower was lovely and thoughtful, with her closest and oldest family and friends there to celebrate with her. It’s an anxious count-down until the wedding. I have had Heidi in my life for 10 years and apart of my family for about 7 (reaching 8 years). I couldn’t be more thrilled for it (their marriage) to be officially documented and celebrate before the people who matter most to them! Until next week!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !

I’m Back…Wednesday’s with WinniE’s ( May 29th)

Hello everyone! I couldn’t be happier to be back, here with you all and sharing the time I spend developing and creating new recipes or designs for cakes, cupcake and more! Today in the WinniE’s Bakery “test kitchen” something incredibly personal is going on. I know I mentioned before, but my brother David and his fiancée Heidi are getting married. And, you may ask, who might be the lucky one doing the wedding cake? You guessed it, me…eek! So today, I will show the “demo cake”. A “demo cake” or “concept cake”, essentially is an idea that puts to form the design you conceptualize between your client and yourself. Whatever is agreed-upon, can then be displayed through the medium of a styrofoam cake. I absolutely love doing a “demo cake”! The key inspirations for Heidi’s demo cake: rustic, simplistic, small, floral accents (white roses and sunflowers) and all buttercream. All of my favorite things to have in a cake! So here’s a look and how it turned out…
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and after…
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This is the finished product. I couldn’t have more excited to be back at trying to create beautiful baked goods. And Heidi was so excited to have a chance to see how the concept we had been discussing and tweeking looked. That way she would feel calm, confident and completely at peace with her desicion to have this style of cake at one of the most important days of her life!
Thanks again guys, see you next week for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”! By the way, if you want to follow the happenings of my bakery between each week “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s” you can follow our bakery on Instagram @winniesbakery. Be well!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !

All That’s Happened and the Healing Wonders of Sarah Addison Allen!

Sarah Addison Allen has done it again! I just finished reading her second most recent novel, “Lost Lake”. Most of you should know that my favorite author is Sarah Addison Allen, (i.e.: 50 facts about me post). But, I don’t believe you know just how much she’s meant to me and my journey through my recent years of life. I first discovered Sarah Addison Allen’s literary work in the summer of 2009. That was the summer I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, my official diagnosis was papillary carcinoma with follicular variant. That was one of the longest years of my life. From the FNA (that said I didn’t have cancer. What they didn’t know was they got a sample of a cystic nodule, that sat atop the cancer), the initial surgery, to the follow-up surgery (as they found out after the first surgery that I did in fact have cancer), radiation, a blood infection (due to a weakened immune system), going into a hypocalcemic episode and then justing to thyroid hormone replace therapy. It was a lot for me and my family to endure given my already complicated medical history. But honest to God, I can say one of the things that tied me back to myself was the wonderful stories told by Sarah Addison Allen. She gave me a unwavering sense of hope, faith in the extraordinarily ordinary everyday and reaffirmed my belief in the power of a great story!

I’ve read everything from “Garden Spells”, “Girl Who Chased the Moon”, “The Sugar Queen”, and “The Peach Keeper”. Each and every book unlocked a piece of myself I never knew I had or had neglected or had forgotten about. Ms. Allen has woven tale after tale of strong female characters, good and honorable men, the importance of friendship, a since of faith, community and beauty and magic that arises not only in nature but in the people that we encounter in life; who help us become who we are. I couldn’t be more grateful for Sarah Addison Allen or her talents as a storyteller. I honestly believe that she is a gift that I was given. And I know that many of her other fans will feel the same exact way!
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“Lost Lake”, was exactly what I needed, and I didn’t even know it. At the end of each of Sarah Addison Allen’s books I part with such bittersweet sorrow. The feeling of saying goodbye to those characters after she make you fall in love with them is like no other feeling. I’ve never been in love and so the characters that resonated with me the most were, Devin and Lisette. Devin reminded me so much of myself as a child. She was mature and intuitive enough to know what was going on in the worlds of the adults around her. But, still very much a unique, free spirited and silly little girl. As for Lisette, I found small instances when I realized that was something I had either done or would have responded quite simularly. She was stubborn, was a skilled chef and baker and she was guarded and reluctant to love. There was such peace as I turned to the next page and the page after that, until it was finshed.
I very vaguely mentioned to you all a couple months ago the new medical issues I was dealing with. But, I was reluctant to give full details. I am so grateful for this blog. A part of me is so willing to open up different facets of myself and share them with you all, knowing that you’ll appreciate or understand those things about me. But, I’ve had a very different upbringing than most with my extensive medical issues. It’s made me guarded, I didn’t know how to share with you all everything that I’ve been going through. So here it is, I have something called a thymoma. A thymoma is a mass that grows within  or surrounding your thymus gland. It was discovered back in August, after returning from a trip to California. And since I’m being more open I might as well tell you that was the worst trip of my life. During that trip to California, the day after arriving I was notified that one of my dearest friends had been murdered. It was during a string of shootings in Baltimore, involving innocent bystanders. His name was Devin Cook.
This is Devin (last year at the lacrosse “Final Four”)
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Devin was a wonderful, lively and passionate soul I met at school. He was only 20 years old. I only knew him a year and a half, but that was long enough to know 4 things for certain. 1. I loved him very much as a dear friend, 2. I will be forever grateful I ever had the chance to know him and call him my dear friend, 3. A part of me will miss him for the rest of my life and 4. His favorite song was “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. I decided to return home from California a week early, and I hadn’t been feeling well. I chalked it up to being depressed given what I just found out. But, upon my return I was experiencing sharp pains in my back that wouldn’t let up. My mom being the intuitive person and persistent nurse that she is decided I need to go to the hospital. They told me I had a kidney infection and that I needed to receive IV antibiotics. To diagnose the kidney infection they needed a CT scan and that’s how they discovered I had the mass in my chest. So, as heartbroken as I still am that I lost my dear friend Devin, every fiber of my being believes that it is because of him that I found out about my diagnosis. He saved me. These past months of receiving IVIG treatment to treat an associated illness called Mysthenia Gravis, that is commonly linked with thymoma have been tough and intense. At times I have felt lost and less than myself. But, I took time to rediscover everything that I had learned in the books of Sarah Addison Allen. I reread each that I own, so although I never lost faith, I found hope. I carried the books to doctors appointments, treatment sessions and fell asleep with them by my pillow. The meaning that I have gained from reading the books of Sarah Addison Allen stand at the apex of some of the greatest treasures of my life. I anxiously await the paperback release of her newest literary work, “First Frost”!! As I normally destroy a hardcover book…lol! I haven’t reached the end of the road on my newest journey, but I see it in sight! And I am going to reach it with grace, faith, hope and love from the support of family, friends and knowing I have the works of the Sarah Addison Allen to light my way!
Do yourself a favor and go purchase all of her literary works ASAP! Your heart, mind and soul will not only thank you for it but reward you in turn!
You can find info about the author herself and where you can find and purchase her books at: www.sarahaddisonallen.com
Here’s some quick high points to update you on:
1. My brother and his love of 10 years, Heidi and the mother of my nieces Mia and Emi, are getting married!!!
2. I am doing the wedding cake…eek! And I am a bridesmaid…one life goal down, check!
3. I will be having the surgery to remove my thymoma the first week of June at University of Maryland Medical Center.
4. I turn 25 on April 20th. I am officially a quarter of a century old, oh how exciting…no REALLY!!!
5. I couldn’t be happier for the beginning of spring and the summer to come! So, look forward to lots of blogging!
6. I too am writing a full length novel. And although I expect nothing to come from it, it’s been one of the most therapeutic and glorious endeavors I’ve ever pursued.
7. I have now added to my “Happen List” to meet Sarah Addison Allen!!
8. Here some pics of me in treatment from the past months…
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Be well loves!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !

Wednesday’s with WinniE’s

Hey guys, happy Wednesday!

Today in WinniE’s kitchen we “Test” baked an “oldie but goody” recipe. We baked up our Cinnamon Oatmeal cookies, which are fabulous on their own, but I wanted to explore what could be done to take my cookies to the next level. A while back, I remembered being inspired by the ingredients “cinnamon + bourbon”. I was watching an episode of “Unique Sweets” and I saw another baker using bourbon and I thought, “what recipe can I utilize bourbon in?!” I felt confidant that I could not only properly utilize alcohol in recipe of mine, but make it utterly selectable, because I had done it before. I have three other recipes in which I utilize alcohol, Whiskey Caramel Pecan squares, Strawberry Champagne cupcakes, and Brown Sugar and Rum cupcakes. So, in an effort to take my cinnamon oatmeal cookies to new heights of flavor, I decided to make them into not only a sandwich cookie, but fill the centers with a Bourbon Cinnamon buttercream! They turned out absolutely divine! Here’s a look at what I did, enjoy.
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Once you have one of these, you will never use foil or parchment again!
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Fresh out the oven!!!
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Almost done…just need to top them off!
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I think I will make these a permanent item on the menu! Maybe, I will treat my class to these delectable morsels, tomorrow!
Until next Wednesday…
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !

 

Weekend Breakfast’s…A Little Something Decadent

Hello everyone, happy Monday!

I hope you all had a great weekend!

I’ve been experimenting with a lot of new recipe concept lately and here’s a new one, that I came up with. It’s a reworking of an old recipe that my nana use to make for me. I use to love to have it on weekends or whenever I had a chance to see her!

Her recipe was Honey Banana Peanut Butter pancakes with Milk Chocolate kisses topped with Maple Syrup. I found myself inspired to use all the same components but we work them, in a more unique and innovative way. So, trusting my own artistic sensibilities I went forth and here was they turned out.

 

“Honey Banana pancakes topped w/ Dark Chocolate chips + Peanut Butter syrup”

 

Ingredients:

2 c. All purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. Clover honey
2 1/4 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
2 eggs (at room temp. is best)
2 c. Whole Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 c. Unsalted melted butter
2 med. Bananas sliced

Instructions:

In a med. bowl measure and combine all the dry ingredients. Mix well using a whisk. Set aside.

Over medium-low heat, in a small pan melt the butter. Set aside to cool for at least 5minutes.

In a large bowl whisk together, the milk, melted butter and eggs until smoothly combine. In two parts mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until small lumps are visible.

Grease a griddle pan w/ butter or coconut oil . Then, over med. high heat, drop about 1/3 c. of batter. After, pouring the batter onto the griddle place 4-6 banana slices per pancake. Cook until air bubbles appear or for 2-3mins on each side.

Peanut Butter Syrup

Ingredients:

1/2 c. Smooth Peanut Butter
1/2 c. Maple Syrup
1 tbsp. warm Water
1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Unsalted butter

Instructions:

In a small sauce pan, add the maple syrup, salt + peanut butter. Place over low heat. Use a whisk to combine and smooth the mix, about 3mins. Remove from heat, whisk in warm water + butter, to thin the consistency and pour in a small pourable container. Drizzle atop the pancakes and top with dark chocolate pieces, ENJOY!

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And for my little niece…”Mickey Mouse Ears” as she calls them!

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Top with some Dark Chocolate chips…which also happen to be her favorite!

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Now, I am strong believer in the 80/20 rule. For those of you who don’t know what the is it’s 80% conscience + healthy living and 20% just living life as it comes and indulging in the infinite possiblilities and seeking the beauty. But, I never lose sight of the fact I am a Type 1 diabetic and so I should take care of myself and my diabetes, because if I don’t I can’t enjoy the most basic thing I am so passionate about…LIFE. So, as I was enjoying me 20% by eating these decadent pancakes, I was conscience of my medical limitations and only had one…which was more than enough!

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Really hope you all enjoy this post and PLEASE leave a comment if you guys tried the recipe. Let me know how you like them and who you shared them with!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G