Want To Bake? With A Little Effort You Could Be Queen Of Cake

 

Under the Sea

Have you always wanted to perfect baking? Do you want to create baked treats for your family, special birthday cakes?  Maybe you want to move beyond, cake in a cup, and make a work of art just for yourself.  Either way, baking skills are useful.  It’s one of those things many of us don’t get around to in a busy life.  Who has time to bake?  You do! We can all make time for the things we love. Stop putting your baking quest off. It’s time to perfect your cake prowess. Instead of sitting in front of the television, take to the kitchen. It may seem like an effort, but it’ll be worth it! Soon, baking will be your favorite way to relax. Here’s how to get started.

 

GET STUCK IN **

**get stuck in (or into) phrase of stick 
  1. 1.
    BRITISHinformal
    start doing (something) enthusiastically or with determination.
    “we got stuck into the decorating”

The best way to improve at baking is to get started. That’s why it’s important to get stuck in. Don’t put your task off by waiting for the perfect cookbook, or the right equipment. All you need is a few basic things and your ingredients. If you don’t have a recipe to follow, take to the internet. Basic baking recipes aren’t hard to find.

Construction

There’s no denying that you’re going to fail along the way. Some of your recipes will come out perfect, but some won’t. You might have to throw whole cakes away. It’s important you’re not afraid of that. If you let the fear of failure overtake, you might stop trying. Instead, use it as a learning experience. Once you’ve seen what doesn’t work, you’ll be able to change your method for the better. Failure is the best teacher when it comes to learning how to bake! Realize, too, that some recipes aren’t going to work for you. Read a recipe through before you start. If the method sounds strange, it may be best to find a different recipe! Being aware of elevation is important too.  Cakes for the coast aren’t necessarily cakes for the mountains.

…BUT BE AWARE OF THE COST

One thing you do need to consider with your failures is the cost. Baking can be expensive.  Here is the truth: store bought cakes are sometimes cheaper. Even so, baking is worthwhile.  If you’re trying a recipe for the first time, you may want to buy the less expensive ingredients to start with, or be prepared to “eat” the cost instead of the cake.  If you intend to do a lot of baking, stock up in bulk to save money.

Spring Garden

LEARN TO IMPROVISE

Any good baker knows how to improvise. Once you know the basics, start straying from the recipes. This is when your baking will come into its own. It’ll also mean that you can replace ingredients with what you have in your cupboard. Another excellent way to cut costs! You’ll develop a palate for flavor combinations that work. That will allow you to develop some wonderful ideas. The more you express your creativity with your baking, the more fun you’ll have. As soon as you think you’re ready, start creating your own ideas. And remember; failure is okay!  I’m not a professional baker, like Terry of Terry’s Baking, but we had fun!

Monster Truck

Digger

Race Track

Rocket Ship

Here is a quick recipe to get you started, it is a basic yellow cake and very easy to experiment with.

Easy Basic Cake

Ingredients

  • - 2 Cups flour
  • - 1 1/2 Cups white sugar
  • - 3 1/2 teaspoons Baking Power
  • - 1 teaspoon salt
  • - 1/2 cup butter (or half butter and half coconut oil)
  • - 1 cup of milk (or coconut milk)
  • - 1 teaspoon of flavouring, I like almond
  • 3 eggs

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. Grease and flour a 13x9 pan
  3. Put everything into large bowl and blend
  4. Pour into pan
  5. Bake 40-45 minutes
  6. Cool and add icing.
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How To Wow Even The Fussiest Of Dinner Guests

Deciding to invite friends and loved ones round for dinner seems like a great idea at the time. You think that a night of good company, good wine and of course, good food will be just what you want and need after a long week at work… that’s until you remember that you’re the one who’s providing the food.

 

It doesn’t have to be a slog in the kitchen if you don’t want it to be. Any good chef will tell you that preparing a good dish takes patience, great ingredients and a little practice. The experts didn’t attain the skills they now have by trying each dish once and so you can’t expect to do the same either.salad-bar

 

Image by Pexels

 

If you’re wanting to blow your guests’ socks off rather than send yourself into a full blown melt down in the kitchen then follow these simple steps and reach the dizzying heights of culinary genius yourself in no time.

 

  1. Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize

 

Just like we are always encouraged to accessorize any outfit with the right shoes and a piece of jewelry, you need to make sure you’re applying the very same rule to your kitchen. Being able to afford the latest kitchen accessories can be a little difficult, especially if you have other necessities that come first. Save up your extra cash in a jar in the kitchen (now that’s an incentive for you) and splash out on something you really really want or feel you’d benefit from the most. There are just some kitchen accessories you can’t be without, right?

 

  1. Having the right tools is essential

tools

Image by Pexels

 

It’s the same with anything in life. Artists who paint beautiful pictures splurge on the best paints and the best quality canvases and brushes. You need to be doing the same. Making sure you have the right equipment is key and that starts with having the best set of knives you can get your hands on. Check out http://www.cutitfine.com/bread-knife-reviews/ if you’re unsure of what to buy. These things aren’t cheap so you need to be making sure you’re getting the best possible product for your budget.

 

  1. Practice makes perfect

 

This one is a given. The same notion applies to everything in life and that’s certainly the case when it comes to cooking. The best chefs are the best because they have dedicated their lives to cooking. It’s about learning what works with what and what doesn’t. Learning about flavour is essential because a handful of spice can make or break a dish and the wrong herb can ruin what could have been heaven on earth. There is no such thing as a bad cook, but there is such a thing as a lazy one. Bad cooks are the types who manage to burn everything or turn even the most exciting recipe into the blandest tasting dish in history. It’s not a fluke, there is an explanation. They aren’t paying enough attention to their timings or the recipe. It’s as simple as that.

 

  1. Cook what you enjoy eating

cook-what-you-love

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This is your surefire way to cooking something your guests will love too. It’s obviously great to find out what they like and more importantly what they really don’t like, but the way to make a dish you all love is by choosing one you can’t get enough of. Enthusiasm goes a long way and if you can’t wait to get it down you, chances are it will mean your guests won’t be able to either and sometimes the tried and true are best; like this easy meal.

 

Easy Butter Tarts

img_3437Butter tarts are made out to be difficult to make, not so.  They are a beautiful addition to your Christmas baking and everyone is so impressed.  This is my recipe, and I make it easier by using frozen tart shells.  Honestly frozen tart shells are the best thing since sliced bread.  If you want to make pastry go ahead, but be sure to add a couple hours extra on the prep time.

This recipe is a “dump” recipe.  Add all the ingredients and mix; well you can keep the raisins until last and stir them in.  Spoon out the goodness and half fill each shell.  Bake until brown and set.  So delicious.  This time I used the raisins from the grapes I dried and they tasted amazing.  img_3433

Assemble all your ingredients and turn on your oven.  Add everything into the small mixing bowl and mix until the butter is cut into small pieces and everything is blended together.  Stir in raisins.img_3431img_3434

Place two dozen frozen shells on a large baking sheet.  Fill the shells half full, they will bubble and overflow and make a big mess if you overfill.  Bake until they are brown and set.  Serve warm or cold.  They also freeze well.img_3435 img_3436

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Butter Tarts

Ingredients

  • - 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • - 2 Eggs
  • - 3 Tbsp Cold Butter
  • - 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
  • - 1 Tsp White Vinegar
  • - 1 Cup Raisins (or Currants if you prefer) * Can also add chopped nuts

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients except raisins and blend until butter is in small chunks.
  2. Add raisins and stir
  3. Fill unbaked tart shells 1/2 full
  4. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
  5. Watch carefully, turn cookie sheet half way through if your oven is not even.
  6. The filling should be set not runny. Add minutes on if you need to.
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Quick & Easy Christmas Dessert

Coconut Lemon Tarts

With so many commitments over the Christmas season, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  One way I like to ease up is to make simple desserts.  My favourite is tarts, yes tarts!  This recipe is so fast you can whip them up in an hour and they look like you have been working all day.

Coconut Lemon Tarts

Coconut Lemon Tarts

[Read more…]

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Christmas coming and that means baking and candy making.  I love both.  Cookies are fun, but I love making candy.  Right now I am totally into making fudge.  This is a very easy recipe for a sweet treat and looks fantastic on a tray of goodies or wrapped up for gift giving.  The chocolate version we used to make for teacher gifts.  I tried to keep it from the kids by calling it Poison Fudge…it didn’t work!

Gather your ingredients and a good heavy bottomed pot.

Getting everything ready

Getting everything ready

This time I want to make peppermint fudge and as an added enticement crushed several candy canes.  They are bright and should look good in the white fudge.  First I tried my rolling pin, but in the end, I used a small hammer.  Not exactly a precise instrument, but definitely effective.

Hammered

Hammered

I saved some of the bigger pieces to put on the bottom of my pan, which will be the top of my fudge.  The plan is to have these tasty chunks showing when I turn it over.  Don’t forget to spray your pan for easy removal.  You can make this in a 9×13 pan but I chose a loaf pan and will then cut them in slabs.  If you decide to put it in the 9×13 save the chucks to sprinkle on top later.  You may need more candy!

fudge

Chunks of Candy Cane

Start by melting your butter on low.  This will give you some time to pull everything together and measure out ingredients.  With candy making it all seems to happen at once, so by getting it all measured out in correct portions saves time and candy!

butter and cream

butter, sugar and cream

Once the butter is melted, add your sugar and cream.  Take a couple of minutes to stir this slowly until it is all incorporated then turn up the heat to medium.  You need to be stirring this continually as it can scorch easily.  Once the cream mix comes to a rolling boil, one you can’t stir down, set your timer for  5 minutes.

Mixing it in

Mixing it in

After your timer goes, remove from heat and add your flavouring, chocolate and marshmallow cream.  Stir, stir, stir.

candy-in

Crushed Candy Canes

Last, dump in the crushed candy canes.  It looks so pretty.  Once this is all mixed in, take a spatula and fill your loaf pan, or if a 9×13 then spread it evenly over the pan.

Full to the top

Full to the top

Set your fudge to one side, you can cover it with wax paper, but nothing tight as it needs to cool and set.  I will leave mine overnight before cutting it.

topping-got-lost

Topping got lost

The bigger chunks did not look as great as I thought they would, and another bit of a pain to cut around.  Note:  next time crush all the candy.

So good

So good

This is amazing.  A rich peppermint taste with a smooth creamy texture.  I hope you enjoy it.

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Butter
  • 2/3 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Jar of Marshmallow Cream
  • 1 Tsp Peppermint Extract
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup of Crushed Peppermint Candy Canes.

Instructions

  1. Melt butter on low heat, add sugar and cream.
  2. Stir on low for two minutes until completely incorporated.
  3. Turn up heat to medium and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly, boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add white chocolate chips, flavouring and marshmallow cream. Beat well.
  5. Add Crushed Candy Canes and stir well.
  6. Pour into loaf pan or 9x13 cake pan. Cool overnight.
  7. Cut into slabs or squares.
  8. This is a very pretty fudge and looks good on a Christmas platter of treats. Wrap the slabs in plastic wrap, tie with some curly ribbon and you have a great gift.
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The Rusty Moose

The other day, Bop and I ran away for the afternoon.  We headed down across the border to Bonners Ferry.  No agenda except fun.

We decided to stop and have lunch at the Rusty Moose.  It is a little cafe in the historic downtown.  By the way there are some pretty sweet little shops down there as well!  Great for a day trip from town.rusty-moose

The Rusty Moose has a regular menu and special of the day; and the desserts, oh my heaven!  We started with coffee, served in red mugs.  I’m pretty sure the red mugs made the coffee taste better. coffee-tastes-better-in-red-cups

I had a BLT with fries and Bop had a steak sandwich with the soup of the day.  So delicious.  I hope you get an opportunity to visit there.  red-inside

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Kitchen Accessories You Shouldn’t Be Without This Fall

Cozy evenings, hot drinks and hearty home cooked meals are what fall and winter are all about. And so having a few good accessories in the kitchen will make your life much easier, allowing you to eat well and enjoy the season. Here are some of the essentials to get you through the fall and winter!food-healthy-hand-cooking

 

-Photo linked from Pexels-

Slow Cooker

Slow cookers really are genius. You can put in a selection of ingredients in the morning, safely leave the pot on all day and by the evening you have a delicious home cooked dinner all ready to go! With just a little bit of prep chopping ingredients, you can have a dish that requires no cooking effort from you whatsoever. Perfect if you know you’ve got a busy day and don’t have the time or inclination to be slaving over a hot stove in the evening. You don’t have to resort to an unhealthy or expensive takeaway, and it’s much tastier than any pre-packaged meal you could heat up in the microwave. There are lots of slow cooker recipe ideas out there; from old classics which have been adapted to work with long slow cooking, to dishes that are entirely new and unique. From stews to curries, even joints of meat can all be cooked to perfection in this handy little device.

Blender

Is there anything more comforting than a hot bowl of soup on a cold day? The perfect way to truly warm your bones. Homemade soups can also be incredibly healthy too, which is an added bonus. So whether you want to make a batch for your family’s lunch or to serve to friends as a dinner party starter, you’ll need the right equipment. Cook down your choice of seasonal vegetables until they’re soft with any seasoning, and then whiz them up using a blender until they’re super smooth. There are two ways you can blend your soup mixture, the easiest way is to use an immersion blender such as this one reviewed by Blender Friend. This method allows you to whiz everything up right from the cooking pot. The second way would be to transfer the mixture to a standard blender (in batches if there’s too much there) and do it this way instead. Don’t ever blend hot liquids or you could cause an accident, let everything cool right down first. Once it’s done it can then be heated back up before pouring into bowls. Stir through some natural yogurt or a drizzle of cream to give it a rich and indulgent finish and garnish with some fresh herbs.

Coffee Machine

Coffee machines these days come with all kinds of added extras. As well as being convenient for making you the perfect cup of joe, you can buy all sorts of fancy coffee shop style blends. You can even get teas and hot chocolates too, so they’re a great all-rounder to have in the kitchen. It saves you from having to put various different measurements of things into the cup, and each drink comes out just right every time. Enjoy with a good movie or book on the sofa, with plenty of blankets to snuggle up in!

What are your must-have kitchen accessories for the fall and winter?

Grapes to Raisins

I love to harvest our own produce.  Well, I love it when Bop harvests our produce and then I will process it some way.  This year we did not get many grapes from our vines.  They had been pruned back severely and did not produce as many as we had hoped.  Our neighbours, however, shared their bounty, and they had seedless grapes.

She told me she would dehydrate them, making them into raisins.  Then used them in the most wonderful butter tarts.  How could I resist?  I had to keep up to the “Jones” and try this myself.

Grape Harvest

Grape Harvest

Sitting in a sink full of water, stems and all, it looked like a pretty good haul.  It is a bit picky work and you do need to try and get all the little stems off of the grapes.  I know I missed some.

In the Dehydrator

The entire crop filled my four tray dehydrator.  I could almost taste the butter tarts already!

before-and-after-raisins

Before and After

Wow, real raisins.  You would not believe how sticky they were.  One dropped on the floor, bounced and stuck to the oven.  Needless to say, I ate that one.  From very full to almost overflowing trays of grapes, as you can see, they shrunk a good deal.  After all was said and done, I ended up with one full, medium sized, zip lock bag of raisins.  I will tuck them away and make my tarts and perhaps I will share, perhaps I won’t.

Easy 3 Ingredient Jam

Apricots

Apricots

Chopped up

Chopped up

Living in Orchard country means to me, putting down fresh fruit for the winter.  One of our favourites is Jam. Bop, my sweetheart, loves jam and what better way than to make it ourselves.   You know what goes into it and you can keep the sugar down as well.

I have used this same recipe for both apricot and plum jam.  Just three ingredients; fruit, sugar and lemon juice. [Read more…]

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