Monday, December 17, 2012

Gluten-free Mixes

Here is the Gluten free conversion sheet I made and have been using.  The small graphic in the corner I downloaded from but it's the same mixture I have been using, it just shows it broken down into smaller amounts and then I use the xantham gum amount when I substitute the flour mix during baking.  The other things about eggs and baking soda are nice to refer too, although I haven't experimented enough with high altitude which usually takes less leavening anyway. 

Also on it is a Cream of soup mix to use instead of the ones from the store which are usually not gluten free.

Gluten-free mix baking chart
Gluten-free mix baking chart

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Silk Corsage

Do I always have to have a cup or other odd items behind every picutre I take?  It's because I am not a photographer and I do not stage my pictures. You get what you get. This one was a rush job because My son needed the corsage asap of course.

He and I made this together and I think it turned out fabulous!  I hope his date liked it as much.  I really wanted to keep it.   Sad how pretty things don't always last so long.  BUT, for his date she can keep it for as long as she likes.  No dead flowers in the morning.

( I couldn't get the colors right on this one.)

Monday, September 24, 2012


The girls made these cute Owl Pillows.  I'm not sure where they found the pattern etc.  They did the whole thing. (except for a little damage control from mom.) 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

These are our current favorite CCC's.  I decided it was time to come up with our own recipe. Age 15 made these while I dictated directions. He did good. They were good. I want some now. In our 5000ft altitude it is hard to get a cookie to be nice and high and not just deflate and spread on the pan. For some reason these worked out perfect, kept their height and gooey-chewiness. I'm not a hard cookie fan, the gooier, the better. Have they always worked this well? No, but they have worked consistently the best in that area.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas. baking powder
1/2 teas. salt
1 cup butter
2 Tbls. shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teas. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, powder and salt.  Set aside.
Mix together butter, peanut butter and shortening, sugar and brown sugar until just mixed well, no need to cream.
Add vanilla and eggs, mix.  Gradually add flour mixture until just combined, stir in chips and oatmeal.  I like to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, I think it helps in keeping them puffed up.

Use a large scoop and drop onto cookie sheet.  Bake about 10 minutes, until the cookies are lightly golden and have cracked.  They won't look all the way done in the cracks.  Cool ON THE PAN so they will continue to cook a little.  This made a huge difference.   This is what they looked like just out of the oven.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tote Bag

As age12 and I were browsing through Hobby Lobby, we ran across the cutest handkerchiefs.  This blue and brown one really caught our eye.  I'm not sure what made us think of it, but we thought it would make a cute large tote bag.  So we bought two and a plain brown to line the inside and detail the outside. 

I helped her design the style and she sewed the whole thing by herself.  I was pretty proud of her!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chocolate Ombre Cake and a cake mix extender recipe

For my daughter's birthday this year I made the popular ombre cake in pulled petal style.  Obviously I didn't get a picture of the best side, I was too busy trying to get it on the table for the birthday guests.     I used a chocolate butter cream and a vanilla (from here) and mixed to get the shades.  I learned that these two types of frosting do not play well together.  It ends up the more of chocolate that I added, the more gooey it got.  I had to refrigerate it to get the dots to stay long enough to pull them but the cake was still cold from the freezer over night so that helped them set up.  As you can see they did stay set up but the mixture of all the left over at the end, I ended up dumping rather than use again.  Did I mention that in addition to the birthday cake I made 11 (ELEVEN) dozen half-size (bigger than mini but smaller than regular) cupcakes for a Marching band bake sale.

I used a cake extender recipe just to try and make the box at least semi homemade.  When I can, I prefer a scratch cake but when I have to make a large or a lot of cake I use box mixes because they are cheap and a LOT quicker.     So in the end 3 cake box mixes made this 3 layer 8 in cake and the eleven dozen or 6 dozen whole size cupcakes.

This is also known as WASC or White Almond Sour Cream and usually starts with a white cake mix but you can use most any flavor of mix or added flavorings.  One nice thing about it is that it cuts out the Oil usually called for in a box mix but then you are adding extra sugar and the cream.  Oh well.  This recipe isn't necessarily my favorite extender recipe but it's the one I used this time.

WASC cake mix extender.

1 box cake mix
1 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
generous dash of salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup water
3 whole eggs
1 tablespoon flavoring  ( I use 2 teas. vanilla and 1 teas. almond)

Mix dry ingredients together.  Mix wet ingredients together.  Beat together well.     Bake in usual manner (I do 325ยบ for about 30 min for 1 8 in. round pan.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

More Headbands

I made these headbands for a soon to arrive, long awaited niece.  I hope they fit.  The grey one is a smaller version of my previous headbands.  The black one is my design, the ribbon can be in or out or used to tighten etc.  The pink hat is a modification of a pattern out in the www.  It looks so tiny!  I tried a few different flowers but I came back to this design.    I also made a tiny little bracelet to match both the headbands and a watch band I made for the mother last year. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

I love these bars.  Too much.  I need to be less selfish and greedy and give stuff like this away more so I don't have to eat left overs by myself.  Because I am such an awesome mother though I take all the fat and unhealthy stuff so my kids don't have to suffer.  It's true, look at my daughter and husband who have about 4% body fat combined.  I have taken all that pain and grief and suffering from them and lovingly added all their extra fat to myself.  That is what I tell myself anyway when I sneak the extra bar or two... while they are at work and school.

I made these for book club once.  I'm very talented at being able to make the words that come out of my mouth not match the thoughts in my head.  One women said "Who made these, they taste so deliciously naughty."  Instead of responding I made them, thank you.   I said "I'm good at naughty."   I actually meant I was good at making desserts that taste good and are not healthy in any way.   We all got a good laugh. 

I have been using a new ingredient in my baking.  Black Bee Vanilla  It is made locally and I like it.  I have the double Madagascar which I use in baking and a single Tahitian which I use in things that are not cooked or at least not as much.  This is not a paid endorsement, I just wanted to give them a shout-out.

Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate chip cookie layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening
1 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
1 T cider vinegar
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cheesecake layer:

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla


1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugars, vanilla, salt and vinegar. Beat in the egg, then the baking soda and flour. Stir in the chocolate chips. Divide the dough into two equal portions and set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl cream the cream cheese with the sugar until thoroughly combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

3. In a 9x13 pan, spread 1/2 of the cookie dough mixture evenly across the bottom. (This is somewhat tricky to do. I find it easier to add dollops of cookie dough throughout the pan and then spread all the dollops together. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the top of the cookie dough. With the remaining cookie dough, flatten chunks of dough between your hands into discs, and then place on top of the cream cheese mixture. (The dough discs don't have to touch, just place them near each other so they cover the surface as well as possible.)

4. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is brown and cooked through. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator.

I found this recipe at Heat Oven to 350.  Thank you for sharing it with the world.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Magic Wands

My Son(s) have one of those "Wizardology" books that has fun open the envelope and take out the secret things on each page.  One part says how to make a wand, cut a stick and carve it etc.  My son mentioned it allllll weekend.  Now I don't know if you have been around here lately but we are short on substantial sized sticks and I'm not so sure I trust Age8 with a carving knife yet.    But I saw a super fun other idea for making wands just the last week and So I promised him we could do those.   I found the instructions on Instructables and they were very simple to make.  I should have gone back to look instead of going from memory but they still turned out alright. 
First you take a sheet of regular ol' paper and roll it from corner to corner, or at least in that direction in a manner that makes one end fatter then the other, placing a piece of double stick tape diagonally on the paper about 2/3 of the way to the end.  I did this part because my son thought it was hard to get the paper to go the right way and tight enough.  (not super tight)

Then you are supposed to put elmer's glue on the remaining part and finish rolling up.  This is the part I missed, I put another small piece of tape on the end instead and I think that worked well too but the glue probably would have been better and made it slightly sturdier.

Cut off each end so they are even then make a dot of hot glue in each end to seal and add to the shape/illusion.  Use the Hot glue to decorate the stick as you want.  It was hard to keep an even flow coming out for me so some spots are more bump-line-bump-line-etc.  We then painted a base color and let dry, then painted accents.  By this time Age11 was home from space camp and so mine  became hers and she finished painting the brown one while Age8 painted the silver.  When they were done I sprayed them both with a finish spray so the regular paint wouldn't rub off on their hands.  Fyi, the silver was spray paint and the brown  and gold were acrylic.

If we do this again I would change the following for me.  Insert another rolled up paper that is tighter on the inside to help it be sturdier.  Really it was pretty sturdy except at the smaller end where there wasn't any glue to reinforce it.  Also I would do the Elmer's glue at the end instead of another strip of tape but the benefit was we didn't have to let any glue dry before we went to the next step.  It was good to have the helper so that he could hold the wands upright while the hot glue ends were cooling.  I did roll up a wad of paper towel in each end just to catch the glue so to speak so it didn't drip all down the tube and was a good base for the hot glue.

I don't think Age8 put his down for 5 days and would have slept with it had he not know it would crush.  They spent the day casting spells and whatnot.  After a few days the silver one got slightly crushed on the end from too much touching/poking stuff instead of just pointing. But you don't notice right off. Plus that way if a kid gets a little rambunctious the wand will crumple before anyone gets hurt.  And when it truly dies then I know it's easily replaceable if he isn't over that already.

Coincidentally I noticed while posting that Age15 is in the background watching Merlin. (probably only because it says Merlin did I notice what show it was) Quite the wizardly day at our house.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crochet Head Band

Here is one headband I made recently (if about 3 months can be considered recently) for my daughter.  It could be an ear warmer or whatever name they all go by as well.  These can be pretty simple to do if you understand a little crochet.

For this pattern I modified one I saw on the web somewhere. It had more specifics that I don't do because I'm lazy like that I guess. I did 2 rows of single chain, 3 (or 4 if you want it wider) rows or 3 double chain each shells, and 2 more rows of single chains to finish it off. Start with a chain to the length you want in number divisible by 3 (for the shells) and add one to do the first turn. I think the baby one I did was about 60 so this must have been about 69+1?Connect each row to the last with slip stitch so it doesn't spiral up.
Ya, I'm not so good with writing patterns. The flower pattern is from here.  One of these days, I'm going to make that hat.

Here is the original pattern that I didn't follow exactly. here

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sugar Cookie Fruit Tart Bars

...for want of a better name.
I have been making versions of this for years. I use the same basics but sometimes I cover a whole round cookie sheet at once making a Fruit Pizza, sometimes individual ones like these.   For these, this time, I used a Sugar Cookie Bar recipe to try something a bit different, although I usually use more of a regular cut-out cookie dough recipe.  These turned out great and I may stick with this recipe but make them not so high next time.

You can use whatever fruit you like. I think kiwi is requisite at our house and berries are always welcome. Bananas, mandarins, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, apples, etc....... Melons are not among my favorite toppings for this however.  Remember if you use fruits that brown easily like bananas to toss them with some lemon juice to curb the browning.  

Sugar Cookie Bars

1 cup butter; room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract flavoring
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & almond and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan).  I find it easiest to make little patties and piece them all together.  It seems like not much but it will rise to the rim of the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.  I also cook it at a lower temp for longer often to give the middle time to catch up before the edges get to browned.

Cream Cheese Topping

2 8oz packages of Cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Beat all ingredients together until smooth.  You may add more sugar if desired, I like the less sweet mixture against the sweetness of the cookie bottom and tart/sweet of the fruit.

Because of the cream cheese and fruit you do not want to assemble this too far in advance, it will keep in the refrigerator for a day however and depending on the type of fruit and how juicy it is etc.

Spread Cream cheese mixture on top of baked cookie sheet.  If you are cutting pieces ahead of time, do this now and then place fruit.  If you would rather do the fruit pizza route then place fruit on as desired and then cut slices.    This makes about 48 squares as baked in a sheet pan, and of course how you slice it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gingerbread house 2011

Here is our traditional yearly gingerbread house.  As usual the kids did most of the decorating and I figured out the assembly.  It was almost 20"x20"x20".  The largest we ever made.  It was supposed to be Santa's workshop with attached barn (age 15's idea).  I didn't get very good pictures of the whole thing after it was all done. 

These two little ones were some I made for some ladies in the neighborhood and the snowman was a do ahead for age 8's birthday cake while I had the royal frosting out, he wanted a snowman on it.  Front and back views.

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