Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hula Kiddo Cards

One rubber stamp "Hula Kiddo" by Stampendous and three different card color combinations. Paper by Club Scrap and Graphic 45. I love to give myself these little challenges where I work with limited products and see what I can create. The flowers "Pearl Blossoms" by Queen & Company have some depth which added just a bit of texture to the cards. And she is topped with Stickles by Ranger which are still in the process of drying. I really wanted the Hula Girl to be the focus so I limited my embellishments and stayed with a basic design layout. I used Versa Fine - Onyx Black ink and Hampton Art - Clear Embossing Powder on the Hula Kiddo.  Aloha!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Light Your Sparklers - American Flag Cake a Success

Light your sparklers because the American Flag Cake was a firework worthy success! We didn't do a great job cutting it clean for pictures but when you have excited little people waiting for a slice there is no time for staging the perfect slice for your one photo opportunity. Although the actual assembly is not difficult the baking time was considerable and I needed more than one batch of frosting.  In all the finished cake stood 5 layers tall with three combined layers on the top layer.  I did almost all of the baking the first night and then frosting and assembly the second night.  I have never been much of a cake baker but this was a neat project and I was compelled to give it a whirl.

I brought over a bunch of summer activities and the kids worked on those first while we visited and then it was cake time. Since the little Miss. turns one in a few days we made it a true celebration and topped her slice with a candle and sang happy birthday. Everyone had their picture taken and then it was time to dig in. What fun! This may not be a cake I make often due to the time dedicated to bring it to life but it was well worth the kids excitement when the first slice was cut. 

The recipe can be found here:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chewy Chocolate Cookies Recipe

Chewy Chocolate Cookies
Published January 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated
Makes 16 Cookies

Exceptionally rich chocolate cookie recipe with a sturdy, not crumbly, texture. The fat in melted chocolate made the dough too soft, so they replaced the chocolate with cocoa powder. Eliminating egg yolks further improved the structure of the cookies. For chewiness, they replaced some of the white sugar in their chocolate cookie recipe with brown sugar and added dark corn syrup. Adding bits of bittersweet chocolate to the dough gave them extra chocolate flavor without compromising the texture they had worked so hard to achieve.

1/3 cup granulated sugar + 1/2 cup for coating
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1.  Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 large (18 x 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate.  Whisk flour cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl.  Whisk corn syrup, egg white, and vanilla together in small bowl.

2. Beat butter, brown sugar and remaining granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium low, add corn syrup mixture and beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bowl once with rubber spatula.  With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture and chopped chocolate; mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl once.  Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom.  Chill dough 30 minutes to firm slightly (do not chill longer than 30 minutes).

3.  Divide dough into 16 equal portions; roll between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Working batches, drop 8 dough balls into baking dish with sugar and toss to coat.  Set dough balls on prepare baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart; repeat with second batch of 8.  Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 10 to 11 minutes.  Do not over bake.

4.  Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cook cookies to room temperature.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Published the Stamper's Sampler Fall 2014

Seeing your name in print is always very humbling. A few nights ago I received the Fall issue of the Stampers Sampler - The Art of Rubber Stamping by Stampington & Company.

I was very blessed to have them select 4 of my Halloween inspired cards for publication. Creating Halloween themed cards is one of my favorite artistic challenges so this was exceptionally thrilling for me. These are actually some of my favorite creations as they are not too dark but have just enough creepy cute in their design and layout.

It does however make me feel guilty that I have not had time to make any cards by hand recently. My poor art studio is a disaster and I have a million unfinished projects. Summers are usually like this for me. Just imagine the shame I have experienced walking into Hallmark recently.  I also have cards I need to prepare for submission but have not had the time over the past few months.  I really need to get on it.  Anthony and Alex have both busted my chops about never making it on the cover of the Stampers Sampler or Take Ten.  I can't even imagine that happening but I can always dream.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Butterfly and Flower Cards

I created these cards with a very similar layout using the same family of papers but mixed in flower embellishments from a completely different line.  The paper and cut-out journaling cards are from Bo Bunny - Serenade.  The Morphing Bugs are from Inkadinkado,  The quote stamp is from Great Impressions and the brads and flowers are from Prima Marketing - Engraver.  The sun is shining now and I do feel a little guilty being inside to work on cards but the people I am making them for are without a doubt worth the time.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Time to Monkey Around - Sock Monkey That Is

Today a co-worker is having a baby shower.  I was unable to attend as Raisin, Jay and I were already registered for the Helping Hand Fund - Fun Run - Walk - Pet Fair at the exact same time.  I wanted to make a card to match the Sock Monkey theme that I was working on.  I found two sock monkeys for her to top off the gift bag and a per-made Sock Monkey memory album.  All she will need to do is drop in the pictures.  I also added in three outfits that were more primary in color (vs. the traditional "frilly" little girl outfits since Ellen is not a frilly person).  To top it off I made a hand made card featuring a Sock Monkey stamp from Stampabilities.  Sock Monkeys are great because you can make them any color and in this case I made one in pink and one in grey.  I decided to give her the pink Sock Monkey card since the baby is a girl but also ended up making a few extra since they were fun to put together.   

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.


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