Month: September 2014
Friday Five: Apples
Guest Author: Ariel Knapp
I’ve always wanted to go apple picking. I hear about Crane’s in Fennville and I’m filled with envy over all the people who go there to pick apples, eat delicious baked goods, and wash it all down with apple cider. I would make apple picking more of a priority except every year I can get as many apples as I want for free. And they come to me. There is a very wonderful woman who brings big bucketsful of apples to me and my coworkers every year. She picks apples, way more than she can use, and we reap the benefits of her generosity. It’s a pretty sweet deal. But what do you do when you have an almost unlimited supply of apples? Sure, you can make apple pie after apple pie, but what happens when apple pie loses it’s appeal? You scour the web (or just Pinterest) for new apple recipes. So, without further ado, here’s five apple recipes you might want to take a look at if you’re like me and have more apples than you know what to do with.
1. Apple Fritter Bread courtesy of the Peanut Butter Fingers blog
Apple fritters are my favorite donut and yet I’ve never made this bread. I might have to make it a priority this year.
2. Apple Pie Biscuits via Joy the Baker
I made these the other day. I’ll admit, I didn’t roll out the dough enough so the biscuits were pretty doughy. Not really a success, but the filling was amazing! I’m definitely going to try making these again very soon.
3. Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls by Sally’s Baking Addiction
I love Sally’s Baking Addiction. Every time I google a recipe Sally’s already made it and then took it to the next level. I made a deal with my boss at the library that I would bring in these cinnamon rolls if he bought Sally’s new cookbook. The cinnamon rolls were a hit and now anyone can come check out the Sally’s Baking Addiction cookbook when they come to the library.
Making applesauce from scratch is super easy. All you have to do is chop up apples and throw them in a pan with a little water, white or brown sugar, and some cinnamon, then you cook it down until it’s the consistency you want. Thick, thin, smooth or chunky applesauce, the results are totally up to you and your preferences. And there’s nothing like the smell of homemade applesauce simmering on the stove on a crisp fall day.
5. Apple Chips
Here’s a healthier treat to make with apples. Dried fruit is awesome. It’s such an easy snack that doesn’t have any added sugar so you don’t have to feel bad about eating a lot at one time, which is what I would do/have done.
What do you like to make with apples? Do you have a favorite recipe that you make over and over?
Summer 2014 Bucket List Recap
Wow, this summer flew by. I think because Michigan’s summer was a bit cold this year, it didn’t even feel like we had a real summer, but I was really happy that I could check so much off my summer bucket list for 2014 anyway! The to-do’s with checks were completed, and most of the ones with a strike-through were just transferred to my fall list (coming soon!) instead. Many of the links will lead you to past posts so you can remember with me, if you like 🙂
Summer Bucket List 2014
This morning as a needed distraction, I finally got around to working on one of the writing prompts from 642 Things to Write About. On my summer bucket list, I had hoped to try out at least one writing prompt a week, and today’s attempt was a good reminder that I need to stay in practice! (Perhaps I should add that goal to my Autumn Bucket list this year!) It has been quite a while since I’ve done any creative writing, and I definitely need some brushing up. However, without further adieu, I’ve decided to share what I came up with today here with you.
The Prompt: A woman thinks she might be living next door to her grandson
Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Earl Grey Ganache
I love, love, love petit desserts. Lately I’ve been scouring library books for new ideas on petit sweets, and one book that I enjoyed is called Tea and Cookies by Rick Rodgers. I especially enjoyed the introduction to the book, in which Rodgers talks about the history of tea and about different types of tea. For example, tables at tea gardens used to have little locked boxes on them, and if patrons wanted their tea quickly so that it would still be hot, they would drop coins inside. The boxes were labeled “T.I.P.S.,” which stood for “To insure prompt service,” starting the tradition of tipping we know today (although now we tip after the meal). Pretty interesting, huh?
A few recipes peaked my interest in Tea and Cookies, but the one I decided to try first was “Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Earl Grey Ganache.” My friend Caitlin’s favorite tea is earl grey, and since she recently had her baby, I thought it would be a perfect treat to try to make for her last week. Today was a rainy day so I made them again, thinking they would be perfect for a future tea party!You start by making dough for the cookies, which turn out to be similar to chocolate sugar cookies. I chopped up my butter in chunks to make it easier to whip up.Once you’ve reached a creamy consistency, you add brown and white sugar and beat until fluffy and well-incorporated.Next up, it’s time to sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. I just love how sifted ingredients look like a sweet, airy pillow!You then gradually add the sifted mixture to the butter and sugar mixture until it becomes a dough, and then roughly shape it into a log.I used parchment paper to help roll the log into more of an even shape, rolling it over the counter to make the dough smooth. Once you’re happy with your dough, cut it into three equal slices and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days. The first time I made this recipe, I was in a bit of a time crunch and just froze the dough for about 30 minutes, and I got the same results.Once your dough has been cooled in the fridge or freezer, cut 1/4″ slices and lay them an inch apart on baking sheets.While the cookies are baking, you can start working on the ganache. The recipe calls for 4 ounces of milk chocolate, so if you’re using a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, you’ll want to remove about a square and a half from the 4.4 oz bars to have the correct measurement. You should probably eat those extra pieces, just to make sure they don’t go disappearing elsewhere on you.To make the ganache, you first you bring heavy whipping cream to a simmer on the stove top……and then you turn off the heat and add earl grey tea, letting it simmer for 5 minutes.Next you strain the tea, pushing down on the leaves……and then you bring the cream mixture to a simmer again before adding it to the chocolate and mixing until smooth. Once the mixture is smooth, it’s time to put the bowl over another bowl with ice water so that you can whip it into a ganache. I think I may have over whipped my ganache, so the color was lighter than I thought it would be both times I made it, but the flavor was still really nice. Someone thought he was tricky and stole a cookie! That naughty, naughty Chad… Pipe or spread the ganache on half of your finished cookies, and gently sandwich them together. Then, enjoy!
I love how pretty these cookies are, and also how wonderful the balance of flavors plays out in the recipe. The earl grey notes in the ganache brighten up the richness of the chocolate cookies with a subtle, yet bright citrus flavor. I think pairing these with a straight tea (like earl grey, perhaps!) or coffee would be just divine. You can find the full recipe for the cookies here on the Rick Rodgers website.
Now that I’ve enjoyed Tea and Cookies by Rodgers, I’m interested in looking at some of his other books, such as Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest and Prague. What are some of your favorite pastries and pastry books?
Guest Author: Ariel Knapp
A couple of weekends ago Chad, Caitlyn, Justin, our friend LeeAnn and I went to Wheatland Music Festival. I’ve been going to Wheatland almost every year of my life and it is definitely one of my happy places. There’s good music, great food, and fun times with friends. Caitlyn posted about Wheatland last year so you already know about the gloriousness that is blueberry pancake sausage on a stick. Unfortunately, I didn’t take as many pictures as I wanted to. I was having too much fun to remember to bring my camera with me whenever I left the campsite.
It’s hard to find the right words to describe the conversations we had (that would not be nearly as funny to anyone who wasn’t there as they were to us) and the irritation you feel upon being woken up for the fourth time in one night because the drum circle is still going strong or a group of 15 people have broken out in song. Despite not sleeping well, we had a fantastic time. It’s always hard to leave at the end of the weekend. You want to stay and continue to have a great time with your friends, camping in the woods, eating awesome food, and listening to really talented musicians.
DIY Felt Koozie
Last weekend at Wheatland I volunteered to help with making felt purses. Although I’ve had lots of fun working with needle felt, I never tried felting with water, so I was interested to learn how it worked. Turns out, felting with water is pretty easy, though I can’t see myself making loads of things in the style. One thing I did venture to make, however, was a beer koozie. Of course.
So above are the necessary materials you need to begin: a bottle or can for sizing reference, a pan at least an inch or two deep, needle and thread, dish soap, and wool in the color(s) of your choice for felting.Begin by separating the felt into two layers in your pan. The first layer should go across the width of the pan, and the second layer should go up and down, in the opposite direction. This ensures there won’t be any thin areas in your project, and helps prevent holes in the end result.
Once you’re satisfied with your layers, drizzle dish soap over the prepared felt.
Curry Chan was very interested in this step…
Next, add some water, just to cover the felt, and press it down like a pancake using the flat of your hand. The next step is pinching the felt together like a pie crust, all over. Once you’ve pinched for about five minutes, you’ll flip the felt over and repeat the pinching on the other side. It should take around 10 minutes, if you have the patience.
Once you (and your cat, if applicable) are satisfied, it’s time to rinse out your felt.
(Turns out Curry was just on a path of destruction, hoping to run off with the remaining felt and roll all over the carpet with it. I shouldn’t be surprised after the sad fate of cute Mr. Turnip…)
Here is my ball of felt after washing.
Roll out your felt and place a bottle or can on it to measure your Koozie. I measured the width first, and then measured out a circle for the bottom.
Next, sew the edges together. I did a bit of a hodge-podge job on part of it, but I didn’t worry too much as I knew I’d be turning the koozie inside out when finished. A big part of this project was not worrying about perfection.
Next up, you can sew on the bottom of your koozie and inspect your work!
Here is my completed koozie before turning it inside out.
And that’s it! You can now put your beverage of choice in your koozie and enjoy. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also add strings of beads of other decorations onto your koozie, but I decided to run on the side of simplicity. (Or was it laziness? One can’t be sure.)
Do you like the wet-felt method? What kinds of felt projects have you made or would you like to make in the future?
Friday Five: DIY Flower Crowns
I’ll be real: Allergies/A cold/SOMETHING STUPID have/has been kicking my butt, I slept a lot today, and I love fall but I feel like it’s coming too soon. As I realize all of these things are out of my control, I’ve decided to focus instead on something I want to make: a flower crown! Here are five pretty flower crowns I’d like to use for inspiration:
This festival crown (with a DIY!) from modcloth…This pretty autumn floral crown (also with a DIY) from Sincerely, Kinsey…This spring DIY from Kelli Murray…Lovely inspiration from Style Me Pretty…And this sweet autumn wedding tiara on etsy.
I was hoping to make a flower crown in time for Wheatland (click here for a post from last year), but I didn’t get a chance. Now I’m thinking of excuses to make one and wear it out–any ideas? Have you ever made a floral crown? I would love to hear about it!
A Parisian-Themed Baby Shower
A couple of weeks ago, my coworkers and I decided to throw a French-themed Baby Shower for our friend Caitlin. I am so excited to share pictures from the shower with you!
First off, here is a picture of the gift table. (Can you see that awesome I ❤ Paris bag one of my coworkers made? It turned out so great!)
I made a bunting for the gift table that said “Merci.”
I also made bunting that said, “Bonjour” to go above the food table. To eat, we had cream puffs, skewers with melon, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and pepper, chicken salad-stuffed croissants, mojito fruit salad, a big chicken, bacon and egg salad, and a red velvet cake.
There were three different fillings for the cream puffs: white chocolate, French vanilla and cheesecake. I tried to make the colors red, white and blue for the French flag, but they turned out to be a bit more pink, white and teal. We tried to pretend the colors were to represent our curiosity about whether Caitlin would have a boy or a girl instead (nice way to improvise right?).
I thought this cream puff top looked like a heart, so we saved it especially for the momma-to-be.Is this cake not beautiful!? My friend Amanda hand-painted the cake after making it herself. Magnifique!
Amanda also made this smaller cake to go with the bigger one with the Eiffel tower. Caitlin and her husband Chris decided to save the little cake for after the baby was born.
After admiring the cake and the rest of the beautiful spread, we began to eat. It was at that time I was explaining the flavors of the cream puffs and decided to STICK MY ARM IN THE EIFFEL TOWER. Talk about embarrassing. I was laughing, but trust me, my heart hurt at the thought of even the slightest smudge in the cake Amanda painstakingly made for HOURS. I decided we should get the cake far away from me and have someone responsible cut a few slices out.
…and the inside of the cake was pretty, too (and delicious!).
As a sort of guest “book,” I drew a little baby wrapped up in a blanket hanging from a few patterned balloon cutouts I made. I wrote “bonjour bébé” on the side of the baby bundle. Then I put a Winnie the Pooh quote at the bottom: “A great adventure is about to begin.” I cut out a bunch of balloons in the same colors as the buntings I made, and then put them in a dish with a marker, glue and instructions nearby. The instructions asked each guest to sign their name with a little message before gluing on the balloon and “attaching” it by drawing on a string.
I think it turned out pretty cute, especially once everyone had added their balloons!
Since it was a coed baby shower, I tried to think of games to play that weren’t too cheesy or girly. On the gift table I set up two baskets, one filled with diapers and one empty. Guests wrote out jokes or other thoughts for Caitlin and her husband to keep them entertained during late-night diaper changes, and then put the diapers in the other basket. I also got M&M’s to do a guessing game (our friend Natalie was kind enough to count them as she arranged them by color to resemble the French flag–there were over 600!).
Lastly, we asked Caitlin for an ultrasound we could use to “Pin the Beret on the Bébé.” We had a lot of fun with this! Here’s Caitlin having a go–she got really close!
I just love this picture of Caitlin laughing while our friend and coworker Dona tried the game!
We also got some really fun pictures of Caitlin opening some of the gifts. Above, you can see that she got a Madeline collection! Lastly, above you can see the pretty invitation Amanda made for the shower (click on it for a larger view). I edited out my address, but you can still get the idea of how fabulous it looked! We have a talented group of friends and coworkers, that’s for sure. The shower would not have been nearly as beautiful and fun without them.
Above is a picture of some of the ladies at the shower with Caitlin in the middle. We had tons of fun celebrating with Caitlin, and were super excited last Tuesday when she finally gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Félicitations!
Vintage Coffee Clock DIY
So by now I’m sure you know that I’m obsessed with coffee, and you may also remember I enjoy making clocks (remember that bicycle clock DIY?). It was only a matter of time before I decided to combine these two interests into one, creating a vintage coffee clock!
It all started when I stumbled across this royalty free vintage Zodiac Coffee advert online:
I immediately thought the image would be perfect for a clock, so I asked my dad to help rotate the circle so the twelve and six would be aligned properly. He kindly agreed, and we ended up with the image below (feel free to download it for your own clock-making delight!).
Once I had the image printed, I bought my frame and clock parts from a local craft store and cut the image to size.Next up, I used Modge Podge to attach the image and to add a nice glossy look to the image as well.While my image was drying, I stained my frame…
…and once everything was dry, I assembled the clock! (I did make one minor mistake: I tried to smooth out a little bump and ended up creating a small tear in the image. I will probably reprint the image and try again, but for now, I am pretty happy with my result.)
I love the way this easy DIY turned out, and it took less than twenty minutes if you subtract the drying time for the Modge Podge and stain! This is going to go perfectly in my craft room!