Sunday, April 13, 2014

Coffee Girl Tags

My Coffee Girl tags are my last three tags for the afternoon.  Whew!  Again these are a wee bit smaller than the original Easter Bunny tags I made earlier today.  I returned to flowers and quite a bit of bling for these tags.  I am hoping these are generic enough to use any time of year.  The sweet Coffee Girl stamp is from Club Scrap. 

Honey Bear Tags

There was just no way to stop creating tags today.  Someone stop me!  I thought it would be great to have some on hand so I can use them as needed but I wanted them to be generic enough that I could use them any time of year.  The Honey Bear tags are a bit smaller than the Easter Bunny tags.  Once I picked the stamp I wanted to use as my focal image it was play time.  This adorable Honey Bear stamp is from Museum of Modern Rubber.  Buttons and garland are the embellishments I featured on these tags.

Easter Bunny Tags

I needed to make an Easter Bunny Gift Tag  and what do you know they multiplied like rabbits.  Before I knew what happened I created six tags instead of one.  I am going to use these tags instead of cards for a few small Easter gifts I have put together (for adults, not kids).  One thing I like about giving tags is that the receivers can re-use them just like gift bags if they desire.  If not they can hang them around the house, place them in scrapbooks, use them on cards etc.  I tend to make most of mine on the large size so they are impactful and I have a bit more room to play.  The stamp is one I purchased from Stamp'in Up ages and ages ago.  I will confess that this is the first time I have used it although I love chocolate bunny image.  I embossed the bunnies with Chestnut colored embossing powder so they would appear to be made of chocolate.  Too bad the embossing powder does not smell like chocolate too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gingerbread Beer Bundt Cake


Tomorrow is chocolate day at work and it seemed like perfect timing to try a new recipe.  Food featured a Gingerbread Beer Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze and I could not resist the very unusual combinations of ingredients.  Sorgum, dark beer, cardamom, mustard, buttermilk, chocolate etc.    Sound like a part to me.  The cake is in the oven right now and the house smells amazing.  The batter had a very unique flavor profile.  I am really looking forward to sampling this tomorrow.  I think the flavors will be very grown up and unique compared to your average chocolate cake.
Gingerbread Beer Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze
Author Notes: Beer in a gingerbread cake??? Absolutely! Dark brews give a depth to the spicy flavor of the cake. And as always, a little chocolate makes it better; this quick and easy one bowl cake batter has a ribbon of chocolate swirled through it and dark chocolate glaze drizzled over the top. Some may find the use of sorghum unusual but here in the south, we use it in everything. It has a milder flavor than molasses and tends to add less color and is worth the time spent finding it. What beer you bake with is up to you but I suggest one that is dark; an ale or porter will work out nicely.

This recipe is adapted from the gingerbread beer cake featured in my first book Sky High, Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes. For valentine's day, I needed a cake for a class I was attending and decided to turn a triple layer cake into a bundt cake. The recipe has been reworked and adjusted for a bundt pan and to yield a decadent dessert that is quick and easy to make and does not require any cake decorating skills! -
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sorghum
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, natural preferred
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (such as coleman's)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cups dark beer (I used yazoo-dos perros ale)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil (to melt with the chocolate)
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons half and half
  • 2/3 cups canola oil (or other neutral oil)

    1. Grease and flour a large bundt or tube pan-10 to 12 cup capacity. Preheat the oven to 350.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, sorghum, eggs and salt.                  
    3. Place a large mesh strainer over a bowl and place the flour, cocoa, spices, baking powder and baking soda in it. Sift about half of the dry ingredients over the egg mixture and then return the remaining dry ingredients in the strainer to the other bowl while you fold the batter a few times. Add the buttermilk and fold until smooth. Sift the remaining dry ingredients over the batter and dump any that have collected in the bowl into the batter as well. Fold a few times, add the beer, and fold until completely mixed. Remove 2 cups of batter for the ribbon and pour the remaining batter into the prepared pan.
    4. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate with the 1 teaspoon of oil on the lowest setting. Stir until smooth and then stir into the reserved cake batter. Pour this chocolate batter over the top of the batter in the pan and using a spoon, gently stir it in to create a marbled effect in the batter.
    5. Bake until a pick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.
    6. To glaze, melt the bittersweet chocolate with the half-and-half in the microwave on the lowest setting. Stir until smooth and glossy. Place the cooled cake on a serving platter. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze all over the top of the cake. Allow the glaze to set in the fridge for 15-20 minutes but serve it at room temperature for the best flavor.

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

    Red Velvet Sugar Cookies Baked with Love

    Valentines week seemed like the perfect time to experiment with a bit of romance by dressing up plain sugar cookies.  I discovered a recipe for Red Velvet Sugar Cookies by McCormick that features red chocolate dough.  The cookies are not as sweet as traditional sugar cookies but they are just as soft and tasty.  I decorated mine up by dipping some of them into them into melted white chocolate and decorating them with sprinkles.  Others I drizzled with the melted white chocolate.  I am looking forward to sharing these this Valentines week.
    Red Velvet Sugar Cookies
    2 1/4 cups flour
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
    1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    1 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons  Pure Vanilla Extract 
    1 tablespoon Red Food Color
    Mix flour, cocoa powder and baking soda in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and food color in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Flatten each into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
    Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out 1 piece of dough at a time to 1/8-inch thickness on lightly floured surface. (Keep remaining dough in refrigerator.) Cut into shapes with 3-inch cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets sprayed with no cooking spray.
    Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.


    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    All You Need is Love Valentines Cards

    Paper Art Injury - Thank Goodness No Blood On the Cards
    (sorry this is so gory to look at)

    I had a little time this afternoon to whip together a couple of cards.  I decided it was finally time to start thinking about Valentine's greetings.  Today's cards blended two of my old sets of Stampin' Up stamps "Happy Hearts" and "Cute as a Bug."  The paper pack I used as my base I purchased on clearance off season and paid only $2 for each pack of 9 sheets of double sided card stock and one sheet of decorative punch outs.  I really like this paper and could see it being used for more than just Valentine's cards.  The My Mind's Eye line of papers is one of my favorite companies.  Their papers really hold up to my abuse (I mean embellishments).

    I did suffer a pretty deep paper cut this afternoon but managed to sprint up stairs and bandage up before any blood made it on to the cards.  Whew - that was a close one!

    Paper:  My Mind's Eye - Love Me
    Stamps:  Stampin' Up! (Bugs and Hearts)/ All You Need is Love - Hampton Art/Be Love-Santa Rosa
    Ink:  Versa Fine - Onyx Black
    Clear Embossing Powder:  Hampton Art
    Stickles Glitter Glue: Ranger - Christmas Red
    Looking Glass Stickers:  Making Memories - Sabrina
    Adhesive Bandage - Band-Aid Plus Antibiotic (neon green)

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

    Winter Wishes 3 Additional Cards

    Today I created 3 additional cards utilizing the snowflakes that I purchased on clearance from the Craft Warehouse.  These Winter inspired cards are just the right theme of cards to send to friends or family in January before it's time for hearts and flowers in February.  I wish I had more of this paper line from Crate Paper - Bundled Up.  It's really cute and fun without limiting it's self to just Christmas cards.  The few sheets of paper that I have (or had) were clearance sheets too so it was slim pickings on what I could get my hands on.  I do have some great chip board from this line but have not used it yet.  I really need more paper first.  Sometimes colors are difficult to match when you mix paper lines.

    Paper & Button Brads:  Crate Paper - Bundled Up
    Snowflakes:  Sierra Pacific Crafts
    Stamps:  Groovy Trees (A Muse Artstamps), Let It Snow (Fiskars) and Snowman (Denami Design)
    Ink:  Versa Fine - Onyx Black
    Embossing Powder - Hampton Art (Clear)

    Saturday, January 18, 2014

    Winter Wishes Card with Plastic Snowflakes

    I picked up some inexpensive snowflakes after Christmas at the Craft Warehouse to use on cards and in other mixed media art projects.  I thought they would add some fun depth to my winder inspired ideas.  Today I managed to make my first winter card while in the process of finishing up some Letterbox Trading Cards (LTC's) that are in production.  The cards also feature some really cute Bundle Up - Adhesive Badges at the top and sparkling snow thanks to some Prisma Glitter.  I like the idea of making winter cards before working on Valentines cards.

    Paper and Badges:  American Crafts - Bundled Up
    Stamp:  Impression Obsession, Inc. Snow Angles
    Ink:  Versa Fine - Onyx Black
    Misc.:  Prisma Glitter & Clear Embossing Powder

    Epic Bacon Disaster

    What in the World Are These?

    Anthony is Either a Genius Gift Giver or a Bacon Mad Man

    Time to Read Up on Making the Perfect Bacon Bowl

    Following the Instructions for Optimal Bacon Placement

    What the Heck?

    Nailed It - Not Even Close!
    I am always willing to share my epic culinary and art failures just as much as my successes.  When Anthony handed me the above "black" items I thought "What the heck are these?"  Sometimes you have to ask because Anthony's gift giving brilliance is not always immediately obvious.  Things became clear quickly when he handed me the "Perfect Bacon Bowl - Recipe Guide."
    Being game for a new culinary challenge I purchased two pounds of bacon and decided to tackle this unique bacon experience this afternoon.  I had visions of preparing these beautiful bacon bowls for Anthony's breakfasts for next week and seeing the delight on his face when I surprised him with my first attempt.
    For time sake I decided to prepare my Perfect Bacon Bowls in the microwave (one of the recommended methods).  I followed the 2 1/2 minute guide, eagerly opened the microwave door and found a greasy goopy undercooked disaster.  Even with covering the Perfect Bacon Bowl with paper towels the grease splattered everywhere.  I again followed the instructions and continued to cook the rubbery greasy mess  in 30 second intervals.  My Perfect Bacon Bowl was a total lost cause.  Above you can see my not perfect bacon bowl vs. the picture on the cover of the Recipe Guide.  Nailed It - Not Even Close!  We won't even discuss the time it took me to clean up the grease covered microwave or the time I spent frying the two pounds of bacon in a pan since it would not work for the bowls.  A total bacon disaster.
    I have not given up on my dream of the perfect bacon bowls but some serious adjustments are needed.  My next bacon experiment will be with very thin bacon and the usage of the oven vs. the microwave.  Stay tuned for my next Perfect Bacon Bowl attempt.  I am praying for greasy goodness this next time around.

    Dark Chocolate Crumb Bars for Co-Workers

    Yesterday was an insanely busy day.  First Raisin, Jay and I did our morning walk, got ready for work and also grocery shopped at 7 a.m. at Fred Meyers prior to making it into the office.  Then after a full day at work I ran to the vets office then back to the house to meet Anthony to head out to dinner.  After dinner downtown we stopped at the Treasure Valley RV Show and finally made it back home after 9:00 p.m.  Just in time to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees to start baking. 

    Our Front Office Manager (Barbara) and 5 of our Patient Service Representatives are working today at the Meridian Health Plaza (MHP) to enter about 170 patients into the computer system from a entirely different system used at another site.  I wanted to bake the gals some goodies and surprise them this morning thus I was baking very late last night.  I made these wonderful Dark Chocolate Crumb Bars from Nestle Very Best Baking.  Anthony and I tasted them this morning and they are delicious.

    The dogs and I started the morning today with a 6 a.m. walk, Starbucks stop for Anthony, back to the house to cut up the treats, over to a second Starbucks to pick up coffee, additional treats and flavored creamers for the gals and finally over to MHP around 8:00 a.m. to deliver our goodies and wish everyone a good day.  Whew! 

    I would definitely make this recipe again.  It was easy to assemble and the bars are very tasty.  I also like the fact that the recipe uses simple items vs. a  long list of cooking ingredients you may or may not have on hand.  I only needed to pick up the chocolate chips and had every thing else already in my pantry.  My bars are not as pretty as the ones pictured on the Nestle site but I really cut them in a hurry to get them over to the site quickly this morning.  But I bet they are just as flavorful.

    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Dark Chocolate Morsels, divided
    • 1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

    PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

    BEAT butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in flour, sugar and salt until crumbly. With floured fingers, press 2 cups crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan; reserve remaining mixture.

    BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

    COMBINE 1 cup morsels and sweetened condensed milk in small, heavy-duty saucepan. Warm over low heat, stirring until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract. Spread over hot crust.

    STIR nuts and remaining 2/3 cup morsels into reserved crumb mixture; sprinkle over chocolate filling. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.


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