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Archive for the ‘Sweet’ Category

Spring brings change


Lactation cookies!

Originally uploaded by PaperDollyGirl.

Things have been quiet around the blog for a good reason. On March 21, 2011, my husband and I met our new baby. We have a sweet little girl! I still can’t believe it. The transition has been challenging, amazingly difficult, wonderful and just such a blessing. I’ve had so much on my mind the past few weeks. Thinking about what I want from my life, what I want from my creative energy. I’m going through a big shift style-wise, and with what I want to spend my time on. Expect things to change around here over the next few months. I anticipate a surge in cooking and home type posts, and of course, I will write about my new adventures in motherhood. I am still sewing and knitting, but since my size is changing so much, most of these creative pursuits will be directed towards home or baby items.

Without further ado, I am learning about a whole new world. I found a recipe online for these cookies, which are basically oatmeal cookies with a nutritional boost from flax seed and brewer’s yeast, all designed to be delicious and improve the milk supply for a nursing mother. Basically, I think it’s an easy way to justify eating plates of cookies when I haven’t lost any baby weight yet. Never fear about the cookie’s name – they did not cause any of my family members to spontaneously lactate. I think not only does my photo look WAY better than the one with the recipe, my ingredients are also better. I used half whole wheat flour and added about 3/4 cup of chopped dried cherries. They really are fantastic. I searched long and far, and finally settled on Lewis Labs’ Brewer’s Yeast. Holy moly, this stuff is packed with nutrition! I will definitely be experimenting with it more in the future.

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Irish Soda Bread




Irish Soda Bread

Originally uploaded by PaperDollyGirl.

Hope everyone had a good Saint Patrick’s Day! I made lots of Irish Soda Bread, using the recipe from the Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking cookbook. I subbed in whole wheat pastry flour instead of white AP. And I grate my butter before mixing it in instead of using a pastry blender. I really liked how this bread came out. I brought it in to share with my colleagues, with Amish butter, and homemade peach and raspberry jams.

I picked up some books from the library this weekend, and have spent the past few days daydreaming in our 70+ degree sunny weather for summer cooking plans. I am so looking forward to the real spring and summer.

Irish Soda Bread

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Chilled Ginger Peach Soup


peach soup

Originally uploaded by PaperDollyGirl.

I did make it through the 50 lbs of South Carolina peaches I brought home from Ohio. Barely. My sister helped considerably – we chopped, peeled, macerated, pureed, roasted, boiled, and grilled. We tried everything we could think of. This peach soup is fabulous. We had it hot, cold, and used it as a drink base. Add champagne, club soda – whatever you want. It can also be frozen. This is her recipe as best as I can remember it.

Ginger Peach Soup

9 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped

1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 cu. white wine

2 cu. water

1/2 cu. sugar

up to 1/4 cu. lemon juice (optional – we didn’t use it, but it would have protected the peach color a little more)

Simmer the water and sugar together to dissolve the sugar. Add the minced ginger (and the lemon juice if you choose to use it) and bring to a boil. While syrup is heating up, peel and pit peaches, dropping them in the water as you go. Add white wine. By the time you finish the peaches, your soup should be ready. Cook until peaches are quite soft, blend using an immersion blender. Enjoy hot or cold, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

As a side note, I personally just use a vegetable peeler to peel the peaches. Many people recommend dropping the peaches in boiling water for 1 minute and then an ice bath to loosen the skin. I find this is more work than simply peeling them in the first place, but to each her own.

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simple spring/summer tip


simple syrup

Originally uploaded by PaperDollyGirl.

It hit over 90 degrees here this weekend, meaning spring has finally hit! We may have one more cold snap, but things look good for the warm weather. I love icy beverages in the hot weather. Iced coffee, ice tea, lemonade, spritzers, iced chai… the list is endless! Simple syrup is just water thickened with dissolved sugar. Use it with lime for sour drink mixes, use it for daiquiris, mojitos, sangria – any summer drink, with or without alcohol. Basically, since the sugar is already dissolved, it blends easily into cold beverages. So you can finally have a sweet iced coffee without granules of sugar clumped on the bottom of the glass! Mix it with seltzer and a splash of orange juice for a really refreshing drink. I’ve mixed mine with cold water, fresh lemon juice, ice, and strawberries for a fabulous strawberry lemonade to help refresh me during spring cleaning.

I make mine with one cup of sugar and one cup of water. This makes about a cup and a half of syrup. For a thicker syrup, you can use two parts sugar to one part water. For a thinner syrup, which you might spread on an overdone cake to keep it moist, use more water than sugar. Put it into a clean container (I use a glass jar) and store it in the fridge. I generally use it within 1-4 weeks. While some folks argue it keeps much longer than that, because of the danger of bacteria, I prefer to be cautious.

Enjoy a sweet spring!

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Happy New Year!

Hope you all had happy and healthy New Year’s, celebrating in whatever manner suits you best! Mine involved homemade vegetarian sushi, an amazing chocolate cake (made by my sister with the Magnolia Cookbook chocolate cake and buttercream recipes, filled with my mother-in-law’s prizewinning raspberry jam), good friends and family. The cake is photographed on my new dessert plates, which I am sure you will be seeing lots of in 2009.

I have lots of craft resolutions, lots of finished Christmas knitting and sewing to post, and more to write about, but for now I am going out to enjoy the cold, beautiful Saturday in front of me.
NYE Sushi

Chocolate NYE Cake

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Fleur de sel caramel sauce

I noticed the other day that someone found my site by searching for this phrase “how to rescue a pan of rock-hard caramel.” It cracked me up! I posted a few weeks ago about how my caramel was overcooked and rock-hard, and I wound up smashing it to bits and using it for an ice cream topping. I figure many of your households are as busy as mine today – last minute baking, knitting, crocheting, and the constant hum of my sewing machine. Maybe you have a caramel failure like my most recent one. I have made this recipe 4 times, and this last time through I undercooked it so it never set properly. Presenting “How to rescue a pan of too soft caramel.” I have bought a new candy thermometer, and am ready to take another try. But what to do with my giant batch of caramel too soft to cut? Enter these “keep refrigerated” labels. They are now my Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce, complete with an attached card with serving suggestions. I have left the “best by” date blank at the bottom of the labels, so you can write in the date based on when you made them. I usually give two weeks. They will probably last longer (that is, if someone could leave the jar alone and not eat it all!) but since I often give canned gifts that are shelf-stable, the main point is to make sure people know it is NOT canned and is for immediate consumption. Download the Christmas Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce labels here.

Merry Christmas to everyone! Happy and safe travels to you all, and thanks for reading this year. I really appreciate every comment, every shared bit of crafty wisdom I learn from you all, every connection with someone else.

Fleur de sel caramel sauce

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Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!

Originally uploaded by PaperDollyGirl.

Hope you all have a happy halloween! I didn’t dress up, though two little boys who saw me in my long black sweater coat exclaimed, “There’s a witch!!” So here’s a real witch for you, and a pumpkin tree in the background.

Nancy of Belle Epoque inspired me to try my hand at Fleur De Sel Caramels today. I wanted them to be favors for my husband’s birthday party tomorrow. Yikes! mine did NOT turn out as hers did. First clue should have been the recipe. It calls for vanilla extract but never tells when to add it. ETA: I didn’t read it carefully enough!  It does tell when to add the vanilla. Second problem (and this was the big one): my candy thermometer is terrible. It slowly, slowly ticked toward my goal of 248 degrees Fahrenheit. I could definitely tell the caramel was burning. I tapped the thermometer and it jumped from 240 to 300 degrees in one move. It cooled in the fridge (perhaps that was a mistake too?) to a rock solid piece. I chopped it up, and as it shattered like glass, I thought of other uses for my toffee. Into some brownies, ice cream, or cookie batter perhaps? In the meantime, I need something else for the party favors! And I need to frantically finish knitting his gift. To be continued…

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