Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Jar Filled Sweetness

Lately I've been getting more creative with gifts, presents and other little things around the house: courtesy of Pinterest and spring break. So instead of buying my friends gifts like clothing or gift cards, I decided on this little idea. Most of my friends love eating sweets, not necessarily baking because it takes too much time or they're too lazy to gather up all of the ingredients. While browsing through Pinterest, I found this idea: a mason jar filled with layers of cookie dough ingredients! Not only is the cute jar an added bonus, but all of the dry ingredients necessary to baking cookies are already provided and measured perfectly! All they have to do is add the liquid ingredients and follow the provided directions that you attach to the jar. These are perfect for anyone who has a sweet tooth but might not have time to go through the whole cookie making process. Read on for the tutorial and let's get started!

Helpful Tips and Tricks

Let's face it, baking does not come easy for some people. I am not the best baker myself but I am progressively getting better with helpful hints my family has given me, tips I have learned from friends, or even discovered myself through the internet. With baking I find it difficult to bake sweets perfectly; mine usually turn out too overdone, too underdone, or done on the outside but raw in the middle so I can see the struggles that bakers go through. Bakers on TV always make it look so easy because everything turns out perfect so here are some tips and tricks to better your baking creations and turn you into a better baker.

  • Accuracy is key! Most people think its okay to just guess the measurements but you want it to be as accurate and close to the recipe as possible for your treats to turn out just the way you want.
  • Don't use expensive ingredients! A lot of ingredients may be able to be purchased in bulk which is cheaper and often times better for the baker. There are also baking substitutions you can make (there's a post with substitutions from a few weeks back!).
  • Research the recipe! If you get a recipe from the internet, check to make sure it has good reviews and is credible. The last thing you want is to waste time and money on a bad recipe!
  • Think outside of the box! To save even more money, use some ingredients you may have in your house to spice up a dish such as any type of fruit or maybe even cheese. There is another post about a few combinations as well!
  • Prepare before! Preparing to make a dish before you actually do saves time in the long run. Preparing and possibly even practicing to make a dish before that big event eases stress and helps you to know what to fix or change for the next time so you can get that perfect sweet treat!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Birthday Buttercreams

Since my birthday fell on the first day of spring break this year, I knew I had lots of time to get creative in the kitchen! I get really excited to bake my own birthday treats, which makes my mom happy. It makes it a lot easier for her to take a break once in a while. Looking through various recipes on Pinterest, I discovered a few delicious sounding recipes for buttercream frostings. I knew I wanted to start with a simple boxed Raley's brand vanilla bean cupcake mix (it was so good!) because vanilla is a good blank slate. I found an easy strawberry buttercream and a salted caramel buttercream. They both use a unique idea of adding no milk for moisture. In the berry frosting, strawberry jam served as the liquid, and in the caramel one, well, caramel was the secret ingredient! Below are the recipes I used, with the only tweak of using regular vanilla extract instead of almond because I had none on hand.

1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
¼ cup strawberry jam