Cards, Recipes

Mom’s Big Birthday

Just popping in today to share a few photos from a birthday party I had for my mom over the weekend. She turned the big 6-0, so I figured I should bake a fancy cake to go along with her card and birthday gift!

Mom's Birthday Cake

I made a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and a raspberry compote on the inside. Poured a white chocolate ganace over the top before adding some sprinkles, meringues, raspberries and macarons. I made everything from scratch (!!) except for the macarons. Those I ordered from Ma-Ka-Rohn and they were outstanding. Highly recommend.

Mom's Birthday

I also purchased some fancy balloons from Chrissy B Party shop on Etsy. HBD for Happy Birthday. They arrived quickly, and I crammed them into my tiny dining room after going to a local store to have them inflated. They’re still floating around my house as I type this!

Moms birthday card

The color theme for the party was gold and rose-gold, so I tried to stick to that color combo for the card I made. And you know what they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! So, I designed this card similarly to the last few I’ve made – stamped and embossed images with an ink blended background and bold sentiment. You can find those previous cards here and here.

Mom's Birthday Cake

The cake tasted SO GOOD! Sometimes I really surprise myself. :)

If you’re interested, here are links to the recipes I followed:

Mom's Birthday Cake

All in all it was a great little party for my mom – we were even able to keep the whole things a surprise, so I was happy about that!

Mom's Birthday

Now, I just have to work on getting more camera-averse people into my photos! :)

Mom's Birthday Cake

Happy *almost* weekend!

kimberly

DIY, Recipes

I Mirror-Glazed a Cake!

Hello friends! I thought I’d share something a little bit different today. We’ll call this a little something from the “baking diaries,” and I’ll make a confession here that I watch a lot of baking videos on YouTube. I’ll even give you a list of some of my favorite channels: The Scran Line, Zoe’s Fancy Cakes, Rosie’s Dessert Spot, and Cupcake Jemma.  I’ll stop there, because the list is quite long! And I’m realizing as I’ve just listed out some favorites that I might have a slight affinity for Australian and British accents…At any rate, I can’t really explain the obsession with baking channels, except that I do love to bake when I find the time (I think I get that from my grandmother), and I just really like to eat sweets. :)

Mirror glaze cake

Anyway. Mirror Glazes seem to be pretty trendy lately. You can mirror glaze cakes in all kinds of colors with all kinds of different, beautiful results, and it’s pretty simple and super shiny. I’ll include a recipe for the glaze I used, below.

As some of you may know, I’m a librarian by day, and I work in a research library that focuses on the collection of materials (books, newspapers, ephemera, etc.) printed in American before 1876. There’s a lot of marbled paper in our library stacks. Every month, we have a birthday party to celebrate staff who have birthdays that fall within that particular month, and I signed up to bake one of the celebratory cakes for the March party. I’d been wanting to try a mirror glaze (I practiced it once before and it went…ok), and it seemed like this was just the occasion to try the technique. And if I could get the glaze to resemble marbled paper, even better!

Mirror glaze cake

I baked a chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream frosting and froze it overnight. I used this recipe. The recipe calls for coffee in the mix, which I think makes this particular cake especially delicious!

The next morning, when the cake was good and frozen, I got to work on the glaze. Of the two recipes I’ve tried, I like this one best. It requires the use of real white chocolate chips (instead of white chocolate melts that one may be tempted to use) which make a world of difference. Ask me how I know.

I separated my glaze into three different bowls and colored one white, one a deep burgundy and one a lighter shade of red. I only used a small amount of the glaze for the lighter colors, and colored the bulk of my glaze the darker red, because I knew I wanted it to be the dominant color. I waited for my glaze(s) to reach the correct temperature (also vital…) and then poured them on . First the darkest color, and then drizzles of the lighter colors here and there. The pouring was rather haphazard, intentionally. I ended up with this great, random marbled effect. And it was so shiny! The gelatin in the recipe means that the glaze firms up a bit once it cools completely, so your design stays put.

Mirror glaze cake

Another word to the wise: transport can be tricky! Make sure you handle with care (aka don’t let the side of the cake hit the side of the cake carrier. You’ll be sorry…Ask me how I know).

So, if you really want to wow your friends at a party, I’d recommend a mirror glaze. Mine’s not perfect – there are some air bubbles here and there, and then we had that little mishap during transportation…But it was still a hit! And it’s not hard at all if you’ve got a good recipe!

kimberly

DIY, Recipes

DIY// Whipped Coconut Oil Body Butter

Coconut oil is having a moment right now, you guys. Suddenly it’s used by everyone for everything. And rightly so, because it’s apparently pretty amazing. It’s full of vitamin E, antioxidants and healthy fats, and can be used in countless different ways. I’ve used coconut oil in hair masks, lip scrubs, cookie and cake recipes, body scrubs, and I’ve recently been experimenting with using coconut oil for oil pulling (so far so good) and makeup removal. Today, I’m sharing a quick and easy recipe for Whipped Coconut Oil Body Lotion.

DIY Whipped Coconut Oil Body Butter

This stuff can be whipped up (ha ha) in minutes, smells great, and is super moisturizing on dry skin. Also, a little goes a long way, so although this recipe doesn’t make a ton of lotion, it will last. I tend to concentrate it on spots where my skin is dryest – my elbows, and knees, specifically, then rub the excess wherever else I need a little more moisture. In addition to the coconut oil, this body butter also aloe vera gel which makes it extra soothing, a bit of olive oil for added moisture and to aid in producing the smooth consistency, and a few drops of lemongrass essential oil. The lemongrass oil gives the body butter a great scent, and lemongrass comes with its own long list of health benefits as well.

Recipe:

  • 1 Cup Organic Unrefined (or Virgin) Coconut Oil (do NOT melt it first, it must be in its solid state!)
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Aloe Vera Gel (I use Lily of the Desert brand)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 5(or so) drops Lemongrass Essential Oil (or any essential oil of your choice, really). This step is optional.

Directions:

Add the ingredients to a mixing bowl. Use a hand- or stand-mixer to whip the ingredients on high for 7 or so minutes until they’ve reached a whipped, airy consistency. Remove you lotion from the bowl and store it in a glass container at room temperature. Apply it after a shower for supple, moisturized skin.

Whipped Coconut Oil Body Butter

I really have to recommend using only organic, unrefined coconut oil for just about all of the topical things you plan to use coconut oil for (this includes oil pulling). Refined coconut oil can have “other” things in it that you might not want to be absorbed into your body through your skin.

I’m thinking Key Lime Coconut Oil Body Butter next!

kimberly

Recipe adapted from Healthy Homemakers.
Recipes

A Homemade Apple Butter Adventure

Last year, the hubs (then fiance) and I took a trip to upstate New York to visit my dear friends Anna and Garrett. It was a great weekend, we enjoyed a make-your-own-pizza night at their church, shopped at my favorite little bulk food market (because, cheese curds), visited a few farmers markets, played with Anna & Garrett’s goats….and made a ton of apple butter.

Why, you ask?

Because we gave 4oz jars of apple butter as wedding favors. :)

Apple Butter Wedding Favors

It was fun, but it was  a full day (and a half!) of work. Together, we ended up with roughly 165 small jars of apple butter. The people at the farmers market might have thought we were crazy.

Apple Butter Ingredients

Since we were making so much, we had an outrageous recipe.

We used:

  • 5.8 gallons of cider
  • 1.76 bushels of apples, different varieties
  • 8.8 lbs of sugar
  • Cinnamon & nutmeg to taste

Our portions, however, ended up very approximate (because I don’t’ know who is going to measure out exactly 1.76 bushels of apples…). We followed this recipe, very loosely.

And we peeled. We peeled and we peeled. We broke out the peeler and the corer, and peeled some more.

Peeling Apples

Peeled Apples

And the goats enjoyed the fruits (ha) of our labor.

Goats Eating Apple Peels

We started by boiling down the cider until it thickened, then added the apples and sugar and simmered them until they could be easily mashed. This took hours, and lots of constant stirring. By the end we had 3 stove pots and two crock pots going! When it was about finished, we added some cinnamon & nutmeg. All the while we sanitized the jars for canning, and had canners boiling away at the ready.

Apples in the Pot

It was a fairly messy process, but it all came together in the end.

Garrett and Apples

This was my first experience with canning. Why not jump in with both feet, right? It was great to learn about the process with friends who are much more experienced. I felt like a pro after 150+ jars canned. I can can anything!

Canned Apple Butter

Phew. It was definitely a labor of love. But it came out great (if I do say so) and it was so nice to give wedding favors that we had crafted ourselves, with the help of Anna and Garrett (thanks, A & G)! Since the jars were sanitized and hermetically sealed, the apple butter kept perfectly – we just made sure to store it in a cool, dry place.

And in case you were looking for a recipe that’s a little bit more reasonably proportionate, here are some other yummy-sounding apple butter recipes:

kimberly

Recipes

Recipe // Pasta with Creamy Avocado Sauce

It has been a heck of a long time since I’ve shared a recipe here! Actually, it’s been over a week since I’ve devoted much time to the blog at all (forgiveness, please). I feel like I’m up to my eyeballs in wedding “stuff.” The big day is a little over 8 weeks away and I have favor labels, table runners, photobooth props, programs and tissue paper garlands to make. Phew! Oh, and escort cards, too. I hope I can get it all done in time.

Pasta with Creamy Avocado Sauce

So, since my non-wedding related time is limited at the moment, quick and easy meals are ideal. Recently I was home at lunch time and lacking inspiration. I do love pasta, and I do love avocados, and we happened to have both on hand in the house. So, I whipped up an easy (and creamy) avocado “sauce” to go on my pasta.

I feel like the “Creamy” part of the recipe name is a little deceiving, since there aren’t actually any dairy products in the sauce. Avocados are just awesome like that, creamy all on their own.

Creamy Avocado Sauce

Creamy Avocado Sauce Ingredients*:

  • 1 ripe hass avocado
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (plus more if needed, to thin the sauce)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Cooked pasta, any shape (I used fusilli)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

*measurements are approximate. Start with your avocado and olive oil as a base, and feel free to add more or less of an ingredient, depending on your preference.

Directions:

Slice and pit the avocado and place it in a bowl. Mash it up and add the olive oil, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper, and minced garlic, mashing and stirring to incorporate them all together. I suppose you could also just use a food processor. If the mixture is too thick, add more olive oil until it’s as thin as you’d like it to be.  Stir the sauce into your cooked pasta. Serve with freshly grated parmesan (or any cheese you like) on top!

This recipe makes about 2 servings, double the proportions if you’re cooking for 4, and so on.

Fusilli Pasta with Avocado Cream Sauce

I think this sauce would be great with other ingredients added in, like tomatoes, or a different kind of cheese. You could also try substituting the cilantro for basil. Let me know if you try it!

kimberly

Recipes

Spinach Ice Cubes – Perfect for Smoothies

Spinach Ice Cubes

A few mornings a week, I make a smoothie for breakfast. More often than not, I add spinach to said smoothie (see my spinach smoothie recipe). However, sometimes the spinach I buy goes bad before I can use it all. So annoying. So, thanks to pinterest and a little tweaking of this recipe, I’ve got spinach ice cubes in my freezer, ready and waiting for me to use them, and not going bad! I added flax and chia seeds to the spinach cubes too, since I usually add those into my green smoothies. I figure it’s a good way to save myself a step by just adding it all in there.

Spinach in Blender

I used:

  • 1 bag of spinach (about 10oz. – you can also use baby spinach)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup (plus more if needed) water

I added a whole heap of spinach leaves to my blender, basically filled it to the top, added about a cup of water, the chia seeds and flax and blended. I used an entire bag of spinach (I kept adding spinach to the blender once I’d blended the first batch down a bit).

Spinach Puree

Once I had a nice liquid mixture, I poured it into ice cube trays and put them in the freezer.

Spinach Ice Cubes2

After the cubes froze thoroughly, I put them all together in a freezer bag.

Spinach Ice Cubes in Freezer Bag

It’s so handy having the spinach cubes in the freezer, not worrying about them going bad, and being able to use them in place of ice cubes in my smoothies!  I just add 3 or 4 to the blender, along with my other smoothie ingredients and I’m good to go. Let me know if you try it, and if you have any suggestions on other things to add to the cubes!

kimberly

Recipes

Easy No-Bake Energy “Truffles”

Because I like the sound of “Energy Truffles” more than “Energy Balls.” :)

No-Bake Energy Truffles by MixedMethod

These things are a great go-to snack when you need an extra kick, especially at breakfast time or before and/or after a workout. They’re packed with fiber and protein, and lots of other nutrients. I’ll usually eat one after a gym workout, before heading in to work for the day (did I tell you D and I joined a gym? We did).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup raw agave nectar (can substitute honey)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Energy Ball Ingredients

Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Be sure to mix thoroughly – it might take a few minutes. You should end up with a nice dough that you can easily form into small balls. Using a large spoon or cookie scoop, spoon out tablespoon sized amounts of dough and roll into balls. I like to chill mine in the fridge for a few minutes so that they firm up. Then, they’re ready to eat! Makes about a dozen “truffles.”

Coconut Truffles

If your “dough” is too gooey, add a bit more of the quick oats. If it’s too dry, add more coconut oil. If you’d like more or less sweetness, add more or less agave. You get the idea. Enjoy!

Energy Balls or Energy Truffles

*recipe adapted from youmefit.com

kimberly