Thursday, December 18, 2008

Update - Productivity!

Is it lame to feel accountability to a blog? As if someone out there cares that I'm getting things done?
Photos will appear in a bit. For now, I've finished:
  • Doll quilts for Laurel
  • Jammies for Will and James - just need some elastic
  • Pincushions - adorable little buggers - need stuffing
  • Aprons for boys are cut out and getting sewn today
  • Dresses for girls are 2/3 done - finishing today!
  • One bag as a gift is done
  • Will's pillowcases
  • Laurel's apron

Left to do (besides what is mentioned above):

  • two more bags as gifts
  • a doll apron for Laurel, if I have time
  • a church bag for Will, if I have time
  • Laurel's jammies - they're cut, just need sewing!
  • ship what needs to be shipped!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I should be sewing . . . .

but I am so very tired (see my other blog to know why). I have several projects done, but so many to finish. I'm waiting for some things to come in the mail so I can complete the rest of these. I have to be done by Thursday - that's the deadline I've given myself. We'll see if that happens.
What I've finished:
  • Will's Thomas the Train pillowcases
  • Laurel's dolly quilts - two of them
  • another apron for Laurel

What I have left to finish:

  • pin cushions
  • jammies for all three kids
  • Will's apron
  • Aprons for Preston and Carson
  • Dress for Gracie
  • Dress for Laurel
  • gift for Angela
  • gift for Annette

Can I get it done? Had it not been for my neighbor's boyfriend's stupid car, I would be feeling more rested today. Grr. I'll power through and at least get the pincushions done. I need Bing Crosby to help me out with this one!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Cakes

They didn't turn out as perfect as I would have liked, but oh were they tasty. Tragically, those responsible for cutting and serving them didn't care so much about how it looked as maximizing servings! By they time they made it to the dessert table, they were not as attractive as they were coming into the building.

This is the cranberry orange cake. I tweaked the cranberry obsession recipe from Sunset magazine - added orange zest and juice to the cake part. VERY tasty. Aaron wants this one again for Christmas.
This one, I used my best chocolate cake recipe, a white chocolate peppermint cream recipe out of Bon Appetit magazine and then a TON of chocolate ganache. It got attacked on my way into the church, hence the smear across the back. It was just right - just enough peppermint to make it good, but not too much. They sliced it with a spoon. Sigh.
Can I just say that I appreciate my mom and grandmother teaching me that you should put forth your best effort? That special occasions call for something, well, special. I just don't think I'll be making anything this special for a ward function anytime soon. It hardly gets appreciated!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The BEST Hot Chocolate

You just have to try this hot chocolate. It's not cocoa - it's the real deal - thick and rich and creamy and delicious. Make it with the best chocolate you can find - it will only be as good as the chocolate you use. Ican find Scharffenberger chocolate at QFC, Albertson's, Yokes, and Safeway. Ghiradelli is pretty good too. Do not EVER use Baker's unsweetened. Ick. Embrace your inner chocolate snob!

2 1/2 cups whole milk

4 ounces 99% chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 t. vanilla

Heat the milk over mediumheat until hot to the touch. Whisk in the chocolate and sugar and continue whisking for 1-2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the vanilla. Reduce heat to low. It will thicken as it sits.

Serves 4. Serve with some good shortbread cookies. I like mine with marshmallows (homemade peppermint or raspberry or orange ones are fantastic!). Try it. You'll love it!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Preview of things to come . . .

Doll quilt for Laurel

Coloring wallets for the kids

Apron for Will

Jammies for all

And the baking. Oh the baking!

Cranberries and Oranges - in a cake. It's going to be gorgeous!

Chocolate Peppermint cake - it's going to be gorgeous too!

Buche de Noel - so excited for this one.

Gingerbread houses and trains. Going to be fun.

Merry Christmas! Once finals are over, this place is going to get busy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Remember This - IDEA!

What about a tree skirt? Too cheesy? Or basket liners? I'm wondering if I fell in love with this but now am having second thoughts because I can't come up with the perfect thing to make with it.
Grr. It's just so cute!
Edited to add: what about some Christmas jammies for me? Since I like it so much, why not just wear it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What I'm Working On

Besides school and baking, I'm sewing up a storm. Here's that latest projects (others I won't show or talk about because they are for Christmas for some of you - no giving away the surprises!).

Laurel's jammies - and matching ones for the doll she's getting for Christmas.

Will's pillowcases - maybe we can save Aaron's Star Wars one. Aaron still has his Star Wars pillowcase from his childhood and William has comandeered it. He might relinquish it if I make him two Thomas pillowcases. We'll see. That boy does not do change very well.

I'm also going to make on of these - a boy one and a girl one. And a Halloween one. And a Christmas one. And I'm going nuts, but I think they are so cute!

Will has an apron coming too - since Laurel has a collection to rival mine, I figure he needs at least one. His has flames on it - awesome!

After Christmas I'll post pictures of the Christmas projects. For now, just know I'm having so much fun!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sunday Potluck

Okay, I signed up for a community potluck after General Conference on Sunday. I'm bringing rolls and dessert. I thought I'd take those sweet potato cupcakes with the marshmallow icing and then the caramel pumpkin tart. I've been tweaking them and I think they are just right. I'll post pics on Sunday night if all goes well. It's my favorite way to listen to conference. I have a little stand in the corner where my laptop goes and then I can putter around while I listen.

Oh, and Laurel, I don't weigh a ton because I don't eat it all. I think culinary school cured me of that - when you're around food all the time, it isn't all that tempting. At least not for me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall Ultimates

Thanks for the "ultimates" suggestions - I played around and found a perfect cinnamon roll recipe. Super yummy.
As for now, well, it's fall and time for warm, cinnamon-y smells. I just bought two pounds of honey crisp apples (I'm such a sucker for well-named fruit, and this one just appeals to me!). Time for apple pies and pumpkin tarts. I'm also thinking of making a sweet potato cupcake with toasted marshmallow frosting. Or just a cake! For those of us who love that dish at Thanksgiving. With pecans in it? Tasty? We'll see. Might even take a photo of them!
It's raining in Seattle today and I'm loving it. Have to get some baking supplies so I can make it nice and toasty cozy here.
Happy fall! We're going to have a "back to school" fest on Wednesday night with something special. Maybe a trial run of my caramel pumpkin tart.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Found this fabric and I'm in love - but what to make with it? Ideas?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jennie's Ultimates

I'm making a list of "ultimates" - things that I want to make, and someday sell in my bakery, that are truly the ultimate version of themselves. So far I've perfected:

Carrot Cake
Coconut Cake
Lemon Tart
Chocolate chip cookie
Oatmeal cookie
Brownie - at least, I think so!

On my list of things to perfect:
Peanut butter cookie
Chocolate cake - I'm close on this one

What else? Not recipe suggestions, but just things you crave that you would want to eat and say "That's the best ________ I've ever had." That's my goal.

Didn't Make It

My cookies weren't chosen for Eating Well's contest - sigh. But this means I'll have a better idea of what to enter next year. I'm going with my chocolate rugelach. Maybe get all crazy and make them chocolate peppermint rugelach. That might be fun, although the chocolate raspberry is quite delish.
Still waiting to hear from Nordicware. I think they are supposed to contact me on or around September 5 to make travel arrangements, if I made it that far. I hope I do - a free trip to San Francisco would rock!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Recipe Contest Explanation

Just for you Aunt Annette - your very own post!

The bundt cake recipe contest was through Nordicware. At stake? An all expense paid trip to San Francisco for the bake-off (including $300 for food - can you say chocolate and pastries?) and up to $10,000 in cash-ola. If I win, I'm buying a minivan! I find out around the 5th of September if I've made the cut.

The cookie contest a bit back was through Eating Well magazine - if I'm named as a finalist, I'll be asking everyone to go vote for my cookie. If I win, it's $2000 to spend at That won't take very long. I'll find out next week if I'm a finalist. I'll let y'all know.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Current Obsession

Now that recipe contests are done for a bit, this is my current obsession - the charlotte royale. By the time I get to this, it will be late, late, late summer, early fall, so I'll have to think those kinds of flavors. But such fun!
Oh, and I haven't forgotten about the petit fours and macarons. Working on flavor combinations for those too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake

Here it is - my much slaved-over bundt cake recipe. It has apples caramelized in reduced apple cider and a caramel-toasted pecan glaze. It is tres delish!
I'm no food stylist, but this is the official entry photo. You have to include the pan in the photo so they know you used an official Nordicware bundt pan.

Still to come this week: coconut lime cake and the honey beesting. I have until the first!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bundt Cake Fiasco

Photos to come soon!
I've narrowed my entries down to these (they have to be for a specific holiday):
Halloween: Caramel Apple Bundt Cake - with caramel glaze and toasted pecans
Easter: Coconut Lime Bundt Cake, baked in a bunny pan and glazed and decorated with coconut, so it's a "fluffy" bunny
Mothers Day: Orange Pound Cake Baskets with Strawberry Rhubarb compote and cream

I'm thinking the apple one is my winner - apples are good luck for me.
I have to enter them with pictures anyway, so they'll come this weekend or early next week. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Recipe Testing . . .

. . . is going well. I'm working on the coconut cake for Easter - the specialty pan should arrive soon for that (bunny-shaped!). My fall cake is going to be a caramel apple bundt. Not the right season to be testing it, but my entry has to be in by the 1st of August. This one might be my winner - apple desserts have done well for me in the past (my scholarship pie!).

I've just ordered a big book on french macarons (yes, that is the right way to spell it). I'm excited to try them out - once again, something we made at school that I found irresistable. They are quite popular these days.

Update - the bunny pan has arrived. We'll be trying it out tonight!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sound Good?

I *heart* petits fours. Not the monstrous ones that you need a fork to eat it. No, the tiny little bite-sized ones in fun colors and yummy flavors. We made them at school and I've been addicted since. Haven't had one in years though. But someone is making and selling them over the internet - - and I got to thinking that I could do something like this.
Only question is, does this appeal? They are quite cute and would make for fun favors or as an alternative to chocolates for gift giving. This would fulfill my love of baking with my love of tiny treats (I originally wanted to do a chocolate shop, but I'd miss all the other things!.
So, thoughts? Comments? Flavor suggestions? I'd do traditional ones and also some recipes of my own - coconut and lime, stuff like that.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm in love

Holy cookie greatness! This is my latest and greatest cookbook. I just have to say, I love Martha. I know, so cliche. But seriously, her cookbooks are great, her website is great, her magazines are great. I'll never be her, but it's fun to fantasize.

We've tried a few recipes from this one already (Coconut-Swirl Brownies and Blueberry Bonanza Bars) and they are super tasty. I have a list a mile long of ones I still want to try. Good thing I need cookies while I study - I'll be doing some baking therapy this week for sure!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Can I take a survey?

I'm here to pick the brains of those I love and like. Just consider it research for flavor combinations. Just comment and tell me what sounds best to you in terms of a cake:
1. Coconut and lime
2. Chocolate and coconut
3. Chocolate and orange
4. Chocolate and raspberry
5. Coconut and mango

Truly, I'm leaning towards coconut and lime right now. It's really a favorite of mine.
Any other thoughts, please share!

Cookie Tweaking is done!

I just entered my cookie recipe. Honestly, with some cookies that don't end up truly brown (gingersnaps, peanut butter), it's not a great idea to replace the flour with whole wheat, even white whole wheat. Since the grand prize winner last year didn't replace her all-purpose flour, I chose not to as well. I went with reducing the fat and sugar content instead. I hope I win!
I also, at the last minute, entered my pumpkin gingerbread pudding recipe over at Cooking Light. That one involves a cook-off/bake-off in Alabama (woohoo - never been to Bama!) in September. Wouldn't that be a hoot! I'll have to leave Aaron home with Laurel and Will and see about taking my mom with me. That one is worth $20K!
Seriously, there are people who just do recipe contests. I might have to look into it more. It's insane the kind of money you can get for these things!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cookie Tweaking

I'm working on a recipe for a Christmas cookie contest. Shh - it's a secret. It's for a healthy food magazine, so I have to watch the fat and sugar, which is pretty tough for a cookie recipe, let alone a Christmas cookie. I think I've got a winner. Maybe two winners. We'll see. Could be worth $2000 from - and we all know I can spend that kind of money in minutes.

As for other cooking, I got my fried chicken education for Mother's Day. We had a super yummy dinner with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy (my SIL Teresa makes the BEST gravy - she filled me in on that one too), warm rolls, green beans. Then we had pound cake (found a new favorite) with strawberries and whipped cream.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gorgeous, Glorious Carrot Cake

Once again, I've failed to take a picture before we ate it!
This one was tasty. No marmalade this time - just orange zest in the cake and icing and I could eat a bowl o' icing! Yummers!
I think that's the trick - the cream cheese frosting was just too cloyingly sweet for me. This is much better, with the citrus in there.
Hmmm. What is my next challenge? I'm entering a cake decorating contest. I hope I win - $500 to spend at Williams Sonoma. That would take me about five minutes, according to Aaron. And he'd be right!
I'll post pics of my entry next week. I've got to get this trip to Seattle out of the way first.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Carrot Cake Victory - almost

I made a carrot cake on Sunday and it was delish. Why no photo? No camera! But I still need to tweak the recipe, so I'm making another one to enjoy with friends this weekend. The addition of orange zest is really what I've been looking for in a carrot cake all my life. And I don't use oil - butter, all the way baby! And after I shredded the carrots in the food processor I chopped them up really fine so there weren't these big long shreds o' carrot in there. What else? Buttermilk too!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies and Carrot Cake

My new rule is that if I'm craving something bad for me, I have to make it (and Rice Krispy treats do not count!). I also sometimes just want to make cookies but don't always want the consequences of eating them. I just got Martha Stewart's Cookie cookbook and the batches are small. Plus, if I make peanut butter cookies, I can't eat them (can't have peanuts), so my family will have to eat them instead. But the MS recipe came out crunchy and Aaron doesn't like his PB cookies crunchy - he likes them chewy. Granted, it's been over 7 years since I've made them - why make something you can't eat? So I'm trying a new recipe for these.

I'm on a Carrot Cake quest these days. I want to make one that I would want to eat. I'm gathering together recipes and I'm going to create one that is tasty. I think I've got it nailed down and I'll be baking it this week. Which means I need to have a party so I can have some help eating it. Sigh. I wish my friends were all dieting! Oh well, I can always take it to my parents' office and I just know it will get eaten there.

Happy baking!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Something to Avoid

I know silicone everything is all the rage - muffin cups, baking pans, breasts, etc. But I'm here to tell you, it is not that fabulous. First, the muffin cups. Not the muffin pans, which are nice I guess. The muffin cups are a bugger to clean. True, they are freestanding and you therefore don't need a paper liner or a muffin pan. But they are such a pain to clean. Don't bother. As for the muffin pans, I don't have one, but I will tell you that you have to put them on top of a cookie sheet to avoide dealing with the floppiness of it all.

This brings me to the cake pans. Aaron bought me one for my birthday. I'm not such a horrible human that I would trash a gift - it was thoughtful of him. But these cake pans are to be avoided! I baked a cake for my mom and used my one silicone pan and two metal pans. I sprayed all three, just to be safe. Problem one - taking the silicone pan out of the oven. If you just grab it by the sides, it folds in the middle, cracking your cake. If you grab one side and put your other hand under the bottom, you pop the middle of the cake up, cracking it. The only way to make this work is to put it on a cookie sheet, and that takes up extra room in the oven. So not only did my cake crack, but it also stuck to the pan. Not my two metal pans. Just the silicone pan, and I thoroughly sprayed all three!

For what these babies cost, they are not worth it. I can get two metal pans for as much as these silicone ones are and I don't have the inherent difficulties with those. The silicone is not any easier to care for, so I see no advantage other than it's new and different. Not always best!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

Should I sing the "I love lemon tarts" song right now? Because I love, love, love lemon tarts. I've been a trifle obsessed with them since I was thirteen and I made my first lemon meringue pie for Thanskgiving with my Gran. I've got these babies down! I was making the angel food cake and you always have a surplus of egg yolks when you make an angel food cake. Well, when life gives you egg yolks, you make lemon curd! We gave both of them away to friends at church since we were already going to have enough goodies, but I could have seriously scarfed the entire tart. It doesn't help that it's my favorite color too!

Angel food cake is boring to look at, but oh so tasty with strawberries (with a smidge of balsamic vinegar - yum) and whipped cream. I'm still laughing at a lady from church who said to me when she found out I was baking an angel food cake - "You mean, from scratch?" Yes, from scratch. Is there any other way. I know their are mixes out there and I do want to try one for experimental purposes. And yes, my scratch recipe uses and entire dozen eggs for the whites. But really, to me, if you're baking for someone (or yourself), it's not a bad thing to be a little decadent. Course, I think all baking should be this way. But I confess to loving yellow cake mix with chocolate icing.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

For Emily Kern

Emily, you said my cake needed fingerprints - well, here's what happens when I leave a cake unsupervised with a two-year-old. This is Aaron's birthday cake two years ago when Laurel was two. I doubt Will would have stopped with just licking the cake and putting the candles on upside down. There's just no telling what that little son of mine is capable of. So I was prepared to guard this year's cake well!

Happy Pi (3.14.....) Day

Our great friends at church introduced us to Pi Day - I'm incredibly embarrassed that I was not aware of this day - me the math/baker geek. It's the perfect holiday to celebrate. So we got together with Joe and Adrienne last night and had pie. I made a jam tart and it will officially be on my back-up list of quick, easy, tasty and most of all, looks like you slaved over it desserts. Do I have a picture - nope! We ate it! But it was so seriously easy. I'll post the recipe soon (I just might make another one just for a photo - my birthday party is tomorrow after all!).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Mom volunteered some tarts for the Kennewick High School bake sale and I got to bake them - really it was a treat for me. I never get to bake like this with three little ones at home. So I made two lemon tarts and then two of these strawberry rhubarb tarts. We kept one to eat.

The recipe came from The Greyston Bakery Cookbook - one of my new favorites.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Warning - More Rhubarb

I found more rhubarb - not difficult, since it is in season. I'm trying out a tart this Friday if I can find some decent strawberries. Will post pics if it is successful. I also get to bake some lemon tarts - my all time favorite thing to make and eat - on Saturday with my mom for a bake sale at KeHS. I'll get some pictures of those too.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Birthday Baking

Okay, I need to work on the photography, clearly. But this is Aaron's birthday cake and the white cupcakes I made for the kids.

First, the cake. I used a devil's food cake recipe from the Tartine cookbook - they are a bakery in the San Francisco area and I've been wanting to try this cake recipe for a while. I'm still debating on whether I should post all these recipes or not. Then I got the coconut-pecan filling from here - the original German chocolate cake recipe I made for Aaron. I found that cake to be too dry, which is why I've been experimenting. I used the icing/ganache recipe as well. After consulting Mom and Aunt Bonny, I'm going to use the Betty Crocker recipe next year. Doesn't involve any silly water bath for the milk for hours on end. Anything that tastes just as good and is faster is always better in my book! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction Mom and Aunt Bonny!

The cupcakes were all Martha Stewart. Here is the recipe. I loved the frosting - and making a buttercream frosting using meringue is not all that tough. Although, if you are a Bosch user your life is more difficult. Yet another reason to have a Kitchenaid - you can put the bowl right over the water bath and move it to the mixer - no switching bowls or, heaven forbid, having to whip up a meringue with a handheld electric mixer. This frosting tasted just like strawberry ice cream. It ought to, considering how much butter was in there.

The cheesecake is not pictured because it was not as beautiful as it tasted. Not that it looked horrible, but I'll work on a more photogenic one. It was delicious - Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: From My Home to Yours is phenomenal and I've loved all the recipes I've tried from it.

1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 T. sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 c. butter, melted

Press into a 9" springform pan that you've double-wrapped in foil. I use the bottom of a glass to make the inner corners sharp. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

2# cream cheese, room temperature (very important)
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
4 lg. eggs, room temperature (also very important - you don't want lumpy cheesecake)
1 1/3 c. sour cream

Bring a pot of water to boil while you're mixing the cheesecake. Beat the cream cheese until soft and creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat again. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate well. You want it nice and fluffy. Add sour cream.
Pour into crust (it will probably come to the top, if not very near). Bake in hot water bath (this is where that pot of water comes in) 1 hour 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, shut off the oven and prop it open with a wooden spoon for 1 more hour.
Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Then chill it at least four hours, although overnight is best.

I used a simple rhubarb compote recipe, again from epicurious. Here it is. I addd some orange juice to it - just a tablespoon or so and it was super tasty with the cheesecake.

This cheesecake would be yummy with lemon or orange zest in it. Ms. Greenspan also has variations galore in her cookbook for this - chocolate and more. But you have to get the book to find out what they are.

Friday, February 29, 2008

New Blog

I decided that since I love to post about the things I've baked I'd make a seperate blog for it with photos and recipes of it all. Just to make you hungry. This is the perfect weekend to start because it's Aaron's birthday weekend and I'm going to be a busy baker. Here's the rundown:
Pecan Sticky Buns for his birthday breakfast
German Chocolate Cake
Cheesecake with Rhubarb Compote
White Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
Luckily, I'll get most of it done tomorrow. James is big enough now that I can be in the kitchen for long stretches and he isn't needing a million things (or, really, just one). I'll post pictures Sunday night or Monday morning. I'm excited about this venture - but don't expect much "real" food - I'm no cook!
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