Archive for the 'baking' Category


Little Helpers

Monday, June 4th, 2012

While growing up my parents would always ask for us kids to do things for them or around the house. It was fine that we had to make dinner once a week, wash dishes, and iron my dad’s work clothes. I was fine with that. Well, maybe I didn’t enjoy ironing so much. What I disliked was picking up my father’s newspapers that he had just piled onto the floor after reading, or fetching him or my mom water when their legs worked just fine. The running joke was they had kids to do things for them.

Yeah, having kids can be helpful and I’m trying to not make them into my slaves, something we called ourselves a time or two growing up. It is hard though. They’re so able bodied, while I’m so old.

I’m still not great at always incorporating the girls into my chores or things I do around the house. They really can’t reach the sink to do dishes, and we have to help them put dishes away that go up high. I don’t always like company as I cook, most often I like to just cook by myself. So I don’t encourage them to be in the kitchen with me, but there are times they insist. Like when I was making jam at the very end of April.

I bought a ton of strawberries, and planned on freezing some and making jam with most of them. One morning I made one batch of freezer jam, but I was in a rush. I made them hang back and watch, but promised they could help when I did the regular jam.

The morning of jam making came, and the girls were very excited. I pulled their hair back, and I put them to work cutting and mashing berries, while I prepped my jars and lids. It was actually very helpful to have them helping, and helped the process go smoothly.
They also had tons of fun, so it was a win win situation. I even offered to contract them out to my friend Sam, but she was already over half way done with her jam making when I offered.

The girls really loved helping, and I liked seeing them help. There were times when one or the other was a little stubborn, but once I got them to try it, things went well. Read: Eden was not wanting to do something, so I made her try it, and she really liked it in the end.

Lilah’s hair is so crazy because I had to pull her long bangs back, so she wouldn’t be tempted to touch her hair.

Later that week Eden and I baked some muffins together. I try to include both of them in the kitchen, but often it becomes an argument in who’s turn it is, or it’s unfair that they get to put this and that in, or they’re stirring for too long. So sometimes I make something with just one of them. The other often pouts, but once we reach the agreement that they can help make something later in the week, they stop bothering us, for the most part. Read: Lilah has a really hard time not being the one helping in the kitchen, and hovers around talking and trying to help.

Eden’s Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. The recipe came from the Highlights magazine. (We changed it to whole wheat and substituted raisins for chocolate chips.)

Lilah chose some cookies for her recipe that we made together. They turned out pretty good, and none of the cookies I ate had any of her hair in them.

Lilah really has taken to doing extra things around the house, and it’s really nice, because usually she’s also very willing to help. Like, their laundry just got put into the wash and I didn’t have to help at all. I was able to sit here and type this up.

Now if only I had a drink of water.

November

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Eden loves dress-up. She loves to wear every item of dress-up clothing, though she has toned down a little, depending on the day. One night she fell asleep on Jon still dressed up and I just had to take a picture, plus Jon was asleep too so it was an added bonus.
edenndad01
She always wears her Sunday shoes for dress-up.

~
edenndad02

~
We also made cookies at Carolyn’s house one weekend for the Monday we fed the homeless in November. This is something we started doing with Carolyn’s work a few months back and I think is really good for the girls. Lilah loves it, while Eden mostly just stays attached to my side but there are times where she is ready and willing to hand out cookies and that makes it worth it to me. We bought the girls the heavy coats so they could be nice and warm on the nights we feed the homeless during the winter and possibly make a visit to the snow, but that has yet to be determined.

cookies01

Lilah helped with each batch and was wanting to be apart of the entire process. She’s by some of the chocolate chip cookies we made.

~

cookies02

Lilah with our tub of chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. I think we made around 75 total, or three batches.

~

cookies03

Eden with the cookies. She liked bagging the cookies the best.

Truffles for Sale

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Every year I make truffles and popcorn for Jon’s work and every year there is one new person who says I should sell the truffles and popcorn. This year I am and have sold some. I’m what you call a bashful salesperson. Have I even posted the link to my business yet? SewLacey.com if you’re wondering. So here goes. If you’d like some leave a comment and I will then e-mail you without publishing it or just e-mail me.

I make delicious truffles and chocolate covered popcorn and this year I’m selling them! If you’re looking for an easy gift to hand out to co-workers, a unique stocking stuffer or just some dang good truffles e-mail me. It’s $2.75 for three handmade truffles, of your choosing, and $0.75 for a bag of popcorn, which you get a generous 2 cups of popcorn or $3.25 for the combo.

Las Vegas area only, you will need to pick up or I will deliver for a small fee.

There are many combinations, these are just my favorite.

truffles01

Truffles: Dark chocolate, milk chocolate with mint milk chocolate center, white, dark chocolate with crushed peppermint on top. They are all hand-rolled and then hand-dipped in chocolate.

truffles03

What the packaged truffles and popcorn look like. I cannot guarantee this particular bag, it depends on what the store has.

truffles02

Natural lighting. 😉

Thank you gift

Friday, September 11th, 2009

As a thank you gift to two of Jon’s co-workers, or two co-workers he works the most with and helps, I made some chocolate covered strawberries. I also made some for Sam’s in-laws for watching my girls and as a pre- thank you to letting us come up to the cabin with them.

I took a couple quick photos of the boxes before I sent them off with Jon, but that was it.

strawberries01

I kept the ribbon off of the two so you could see the strawberries a little better. Little did I know his co-worker would take nicer pictures of the ones she received.

I found the boxes at JoAnn’s. They’re actually to package brownies. I found them when I needed a box to package some strawberries for the bride and groom from the wedding so they could take some to the hotel that night after the reception. The box went so well with their colors. I tried to replicate the ones I did for the wedding, but the accent color came out more green than I liked, but it still worked well with the box.

I had woken up at 6:30 am to make them and gone to bed around 12:30 am after I prepared everything. (I washed and dried them the night before, got all the materials out and ready, and folded the boxes so I could make and package them quickly.) Jon had a doctor’s appointment that morning so I had a little extra time before I had to have them ready. In total it took me about an hour and a half to dip and package and a little over an hour to prepare the 36 strawberries and everything else the night before. The three boxes only held 10 strawberries each so we were able to enjoy some too.

Jon’s co-worker Daly took some wonderful and more artistic photo’s of the strawberries and sent them to me.  She said they were just as delicious as they were beautiful and couldn’t help but take some pictures.

strawberries02

strawberries03

strawberries04

strawberries05

strawberries06

strawberries07

Mmmm, chocolate and strawberries.

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Earlier last week my friend Beth asked if I could make chocolate covered strawberries for her daughter’s wedding which was Saturday. I had told her I’d never made them, but she had faith that I could if I said yes since I’ve made truffles. I told her I’d talk with Jon because I didn’t want to burden him or interrupt his plans since this would be our first Saturday where for most of the day we would be home in three weeks. At first he said he wasn’t comfortable with it, since he had a long list of things to do, so I told Beth I couldn’t. Then that night as I talked to Jon I guess he heard the excitement in my voice as I talked about the bride and groom berries that I had envisioned making for them before he had said he wasn’t comfortable with it. So he said that he thought I probably could make the chocolate covered strawberries for them. So I called Beth and asked if she had asked anyone else to make strawberries. She said no because she felt that I was the one person who would pay attention to the little details in such a way that only Lacey does. I was very flattered by the comment, especially since I do these things as a hobby and not professionally.

I did a little more research and made a sample plate just so they could decide if they really wanted me to make strawberries for the wedding since it was to be my first time working with berries. I thought they turned out alright, but I was working off of a very professional picture that was perfection, so I considered my amateur attempt so under par. They loved the berries I made for them. Since I made bride and groom berries without them asking Beth later told me that Kate had wanted bride and groom, but they had forgotten about them until right before they asked me and she didn’t want to ask me to make them since it was a favor, so when I brought over bride and groom berries it was just what Kate had wanted and they all loved them.

I think the faith and compliments that Beth gave me allowed me to see how cute the berries were that I had made. I was only looking at the imperfections and how amateurish they looked to me, but they loved them and appreciated my hard work. I do pay attention to detail, though I don’t profess to be good at all the little details. I try and over all it works out well.

So Saturday, after spending too much time at the temple after the wedding, I came home and started working on strawberries. It took me around 8 hours to produce the 80-90 bride and groom berries and around 100 of the regular decorated berries. I had to choose only the nicest berries, then rinse and dry them individually. Then the hard work of dipping and decorating began.

The girls were on their own for most of the day and I got the berries to the reception just half an hour before it started only because Jon helped me get half the strawberries in their paper holders and box. He was a good sport, even if I was “The crazy strawberry lady.” 😉

It was lots of fun making them and it was great to hear how much the guest loved them, but the only people I wanted to please was my good friend, her daughter the bride, and the groom.

I am pretty pleased with them myself, but I’m more pleased that they made them happy.

strawberries02

strawberries

strawberries03

I took these pictures towards the end to the night. The tuxedo ones went rather quickly.

Cookies

Monday, February 9th, 2009

On Saturday the girls and I headed over to my sister Carolyn’s house to make cookies. It was to give Jon time alone to study and Carolyn’s co-worker was supposed to come over because we weren’t able to make Christmas cookies with her and she wanted to see Carolyn’s house. Instead her husband made her go to some timeshare thing so they could get two free airline tickets since they need to fly to their niece’s wedding later this year.

I packed what I thought was everything I needed and headed over to Carolyn’s. She had ordered pizzas for lunch so we ate and then got started making cookies.

While I was pulling everything out I realized I had forgotten the shortening for the frosting but since Carolyn lives so far from civilization the nearest store is like 5 miles away and I figured we’d just make cookies and the girls and I would have to frost them at home.

Then as I looked through the  basket I realized I left the heart-shaped cookie cutter I borrowed from Sam at home on my counter. So now I had to go to the store.

We finished the dough, and the girls and Carolyn settled in watching some TV while I went to the store.

I got shortening, cookie cutters, and some chocolate chip cookie dough since that was the cookie Derek requested to be made since we were coming over. (I almost did not buy it because Derek is so spoiled by his parents but I like chocolate chip cookies too and figured I’d take some home also.)

I got back and we baked cookies and then decorated them like the sweetheart candies you buy, only I don’t buy them and could only think of a handful of phrases. Carolyn was funny and I love some of the phrases she came up with.

Here’s the pictures of what I left with Carolyn on Saturday, and what we have left this morning. I don’t think I’m suppose to eat five cookies a day, but that’s what happens when you love sugar cookies and they’re in the house. Jon has also been eating them, so I think my ‘eat all you can get’ mentality kicked in, yeah that’s why I eat five a day, to get them out of the house sooner so Jon won’t eat them. I’ll take the hit. (I have had none today, but will probably eat one after lunch and one tonight. I just love sugar cookies and you have to eat them before they get stale and the girls would rather have candy.)

Carolyn thought of: Heart U, Nice Bum, Hot Stuff, Hot Lips, Heart Breaker, (which was made with the last of the frosting and we didn’t have enough of either color so she did half and half). I made:  I heart you, Love, and Cutie Pie.

I also made a Babe, Hey Babe, Dad and a Sexy cookie, which Jon ate. Carolyn attempted to make a sexy cookie with sprinkles, but she only could fit  “sex” on the cookie and decided to make it all sprinkles. (It’s the yellow cookie with sprinkles in the previous picture.)

Eden only ate maybe half a piece of pizza but she had three cookies, I guess she takes after her mom.

Lilah had lots of fun decorating them for other people and then having us eat them, she did eventually eat one.

We had lots of fun at Carolyn’s house and left around 5:30pm. I was so sleepy on the way home because I get sleepy in the afternoons and it was a very relaxing drive home.

The girls had so much fun since they got to play and jump on all of Carolyn’s pillows. Lilah was sad that we don’t go to Carolyn’s more often and said we should go there whenever she needs to bake cookies. I probably would visit Carolyn if she lived closer and if she wasn’t so busy working all the time. I just hate taking up all her free time with my two silly girls.

Truffles

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

This year the truffle gods were looking down at me and laughing.

I don’t know if it’s because I declined help from my very busy friend Beth and her daughters, or because it was humid, or maybe it was my children that were driving me nuts, but things just did not want to go right for me.

I started melting my truffle mixtures on Tuesday morning. I melted the white and then began melting the milk chocolate, to make the mint milk chocolate center. This was my first mishap, which I was able to save. I think I slightly burned the truffle mixture by heating it up too quickly, but it didn’t get too burned and I was able to whipped it to smoothness and it tasted just fine.

My next batch was not so lucky.

It got burned, and as it cooled it separated. It’s still sitting in my fridge because I’m not sure what to do with it. It’s still edible, just not usable for truffles. I’m so glad I only wasted $2 worth of chocolate, rather than $5, had I not bought it on sale.

So I let my truffles set and after lunch I started to roll them and then I began dipping them after they had their freezer time. The white truffles came out wonderfully, they usually do, but the milk chocolate mint I was having problems left and right. The chocolate was cracking, and then I’d get a few good ones and the the chocolate coating starting looking weird. I call it pudding, because it reminds me of that. It was not fun.

I remade a a fourth truffle mixture a little bit before I went to a church activity. Going made me stay up till 1 am, but I would need to wait for the mixture to cool and harden in the fridge anyways and I needed to get out of the house. My children were extra bothersome this day, and I’m sure it’s because I was frustrated at all the bumps in my truffle making road.

We got the girls to bed after I came home and I still had problems with the chocolate coating looking like pudding at times, but there was less stress since the girls were in bed and I was almost at the end, even if people got pudding truffles.

I bagged them and got them ready for Jon, only he didn’t take them to work this Wednesday, he took them on Friday.

I also made chocolate covered popcorn, both were hits.

I was able to have enough nice looking truffles for his work colleagues, but now I have a lot of funny looking truffles. I’m not sure who I want to give them too, because there are way too many for my little family.

Here are some photos of the truffles, including the ‘pudding’ ones.

The white, pretty, Christmas ones.

Pudding looking truffles.

The new way I decorated some.

Dinner

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

I guess I’m in a blogging mood, mostly because I only have a short amount of time with nothing to do and the things I need to do will take more time than 15 minutes.

Tonight I’m making fish for dinner. Wild Alaskan Salmon to be specific. We use Wild Alaskan Salmon because it’s better for the environment than Farmed Atlantic Salmon. It use to be very hard to find Wild Alaskan, but now it’s a little more available if you know where to look. We buy ours at Costco and it’s marinated and packaged in 6 oz steaks. Two steaks are perfect for our family. They use to only have non marinated in the Atlantic, but now Costco carries non marinated Wild Alaskan, but it’s around $2 more a pound and that makes a big difference when you’re already paying 5 something a pound.

We like it and it works for us.

We eat  fresh Salmon around twice a month and if we have more seafood it’s usually canned salmon or canned tuna, in salmon burgers or tuna casserole, and we have fish no more than once a week. I’m very conscious of mercury content and when nursing we ate it maybe once a month.

With the fish I’m making butternut squash. I love butternut squash. I bake it, instead of microwaving it, what I did growing up. Baked butternut squash is so much better than microwaved, even if it’s not the most flavorful squash, but if it is, it’s heavenly. Well, maybe heavenly is a bit of an overstatement, but a baked, flavorful butternut squash is delicious. I don’t like other squashes. They just don’t compare, so I never but acorn or spaghetti, I’ve yet to try banana squash. They just aren’t as good in my book, but I do make them when Jon buys them, I just don’t like it when he buys them.

Lastly were having sauteed summer squash and zucchini. I bought enough zucchini to saute with the summer squash and later this week I plan on making zucchini bread, I just need to finish the cherry chocolate bread that Sam brought me today. I love zucchini bread, it’s my favorite “bread” that’s really a cake in disguise.

I guess I just had a desire to blog about the one balanced meal I plan on making this week.

Well, I make more than one balanced meal a week, but this one is of my favorite foods.

There’s the timer. I believe the fish is finished.

Canning, once again.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

This past Sunday I canned four quarts of peaches.  We’ve had the peaches in our room and it was smelling rather peachy, but I guess not peachy enough.

I had a few bumps and I’m not posting pictures because they don’t look too appetizing, though I’m sure they’ll taste fine in a pie or cobbler.

First bump: I don’t think they were as ripe as they needed to be. Plus, since they were so green when I bought them, the texture of the peaches was off. I’ve had this happen before where a peach should be so good, but the texture is just a little strange.
So they peaches I canned were a little stringy, but they still tasted just fine, just a little different than the kind from the store.

Second bump: I filled the jars too full and they didn’t seal the first time and I had an overflow of juice and peaches when I opened them to reseal ’em. I then had to remove some peaches and seal them again. Luckily, they did seal the second time, just rather low, so maybe they would have been fine had they set. I don’t know. I think next year I’m going to fill them a little lower and see how that works.

Other than that I had made just enough syrup and had just enough peaches for four jars, except what I removed and ate, which made me happy. (I didn’t want a lot of excess syrup or not enough because that would have taken time to make another batch. )

Once I get a pastry cutter, and a deeper pie plate, I’m going to make a peach or apple pie. I just hope my first attempt at pie crust works out well.

Pie crusts intimidate me,  so any tips are welcomed.

Can I get your number?

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

I was at Sunflower Market today and I was buying a couple bag full of peaches.  An older gentleman, as in old enough to be my father and then some, commented on how good the peaches were that we were buying.  I mentioned I was going to try my hand at canning and he said he’s thought about it, but why can when you can easily go buy canned peaches? I mentioned our avoidance of high fructose corn syrup and he seem pleased. He then said I should go to Southern Utah to buy from the fruit stands there, the peaches we were buying were suppose to be from Utah, but I replied I never go to Utah. He then went on to say he had a house in St. George and goes up regularly. He joked that I should give him my number and he could buy the fruit for me. I laughed and said that was a thought.

I don’t think he was hitting on me per say, I think he was joking and in a way it came out wrong. There was no awkwardness, but it was still strange.

If only I really did have a connection to the Utah fruit, though the food storage specialist in our ward has given us opportunities to buy fruit. That’s where I got my 25 lb, box of apples for Sam and me.

I bought not too many peaches because I found a video on youtube and it looks like I can make as much or little syrup for the peaches and I only have four jars to put the peaches in. The peaches were on sale at Sunflower, and all very green, so I’m letting them ripen and experimenting canning the peaches myself later this week. Hopefully next year I can be better prepared and possibly can a box of peaches.

Canning is time consuming and not necessarily price effective but I’ve found two reasons why I think it’s good.

One: It helps the environment since you’re reusing bottles. Rather than buying a new jar of applesauce, jam, or a can of fruit , you reuse and reduce waste, something I’m trying to become more aware of.
Two: you have complete control over what goes in the food. You can make reduced sugar jams, and can fruit in a better syrup, though it’s still a lot of sugar or honey. (We’re trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup and I dare you to find a canned fruit that does not contain it. I’ve looked, maybe not hard enough, but enough to see it’s in a lot of brands.)

So I’m thinking of making this a new hobby. I just don’t have the space for a steamer of my own, thank goodness for friends who are willing to let you borrow, or space for tons of bottles of fruit. I hope we can find space if I do make it a hobby.

It’s such hard work, but fun at the same time.