Baking Tip: The Importance of a Trial Run

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Good morning, Crafty Hackers!

This week I wanted to focus on my love of baking. Last week, my office had a pre-Valentine’s Day Bake-off Contest. I love contests like this for two reasons; first reason, you get to eat a bunch of yummy treats that you might not have otherwise had the opportunity to try. Second reason, you have an excuse to try new recipes.

I sat down with a stack of my newer cookbooks, flipping through to find the recipe I wanted to enter to our contest. I decided on a recipe for “Unicorn Poop Cookies” from Rosanna Pansino’s cookbook, Nerdy Nummies (of which you can obtain a copy here if you are interested). I thought it would be a fun and funny entry to the contest (would make people laugh and would stand out), but more importantly, it appeared to be a simple, easy recipe. Well, while it wasn’t a difficult recipe to follow, it did remind me of why it is always important to do a trial run of a recipe first.

To start, this recipe was a simple cream cheese sugar cookie recipe so it wasn’t hard or expensive to make. What it was, though, was TIME-CONSUMING. Having never made cream cheese sugar cookies before, I didn’t know that the dough was not as tough as a roll-out cookie dough. Had I just been making the standard, base recipe, this would not have been a problem. But to craft these cookies into “unicorn poop,” there were several steps that required multiple rounds of chilling in the refrigerator. Had our contest been on a Monday, I could have used all the Sunday prior to make these and would have had plenty of time for all the steps. But, alas, our bake-off was on a Tuesday and I didn’t get home from work on Monday night until around 5:30 pm. Long story slightly less long, the cookies didn’t even go into the oven until about a quarter after 10 pm. I had pre-read the recipe but didn’t put together in my head how long the process might actually take.

Secondly, the recipe only ended up making 12 cookies. TWELVE. For an office of about 35 people. A trial run of the recipe would have shown how big those cookies ended up being and that minimizing the amount of dough used in the “shaping the poop” step would have yielded more cookies. They also would have baked better if smaller. I noticed that a number of the cookies were still just a bit doughy in the center.

Finally, while the cream cheese sugar cookies were tasty, they were also rather blasé. A test run would have given me an opportunity to taste-test first and decide on little tweaks to the recipe. For example, next time I make this recipe, I’d like to try adding a touch more vanilla extract and some nutmeg to add a little more flavor and pop.

When it comes right down to it, this whole thing was a learning experience but I could have had the lesson, applied what was learned and still won that contest. So next time, I plan to plan ahead and make a test batch first. Who wants to be my taste-testers?

“Piece” out, Crafty Bakers!

~Scribe Sarah~


DIY Sugar Scrubs

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It’s the start of a new week, crafty people. Are you planning on trying anything new this week in your craft endeavors? Don’t forget to challenge yourselves. Try something you’ve never tried before. You might find a whole new hobby to take up more of your already dwindling time!

This week, I’d like to feature how to make your own sugar scrubs. In the next year, I set a goal for myself to try and use more natural things in my day to day life. One way to do this is homemade sugar scrubs. These are a great way to exfoliate your skin and some prefer sugar scrubs to salt scrubs as the granules are smaller and less abrasive. So if you have more sensitive skin, I would recommend sugar scrubs.

The basis of almost any sugar scrub is sugar and oil. General rule is 80% sugar, 20% oil. You can add essential oils for homeopathic and aromatic benefits but you don’t have to. Below, are a few basic & easy sugar scrub recipes.

Sweet Orange Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup almond oil, & 7-8 drops of sweet orange essential oil.

Directions: Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, mix well and store in air-tight containers (bail or mason jars work best).

Cucumber Mint Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: 1 cup traditional white sugar, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 5 drops of peppermint essential oil, & 4 drops of cucumber essential oil

Directions: Melt coconut oil. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, mix well and store in air-tight containers (bail or mason jars work best).

Vanilla Lavendar Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: 1 cup traditional white sugar, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, & 5 drops lavendar essential oil.

Directions: Melt coconut oil. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, mix well and store in air-tight containers (bail or mason jars work best).

Honey & Brown Sugar Scrub

Ingredients: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup almond oil, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, & 1 teaspoon pure raw honey.

Directions: Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, mix well and store in air-tight containers (bail or mason jars work best).

You can use other oils for the base. Olive oil works really well and jojoba oil can be a great benefit for your skin. Adding a little vitamin E is never a bad idea and can help fight against aging in your skin.

So the next time you want to feel a little sweet, add a sugar scrub to your shower.

~ScribeSarah~


Drinking your way through the Holidays

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Happy Monday, friendly crafty folks!

Whether you live in the frigid Midwest or the sunny LA coast, the Christmas season is one of the best seasons for tasty (and sometimes alcoholic!) beverages! From classic eggnog to German gluhwein worthy of Christkindlmarket, there are tons of options to imbibe throughout your December. Here are a few recipes I have either always wanted to try and make on my own (gluhwein) or are some of my holiday favorites.

Classic Gluhwein Recipe

Ingredients:

1 bottle of robust red wine

1 cup water

1 lemon peel

3 cinnamon sticks

10 cloves

Juice of 2 oranges

1 star anise

Dash of allspice

Directions: Combine all your ingredients in a large pot on the stove top. You can also do this in a crock pot on low/med heat (depending on your crock pot’s cooking temps). Heat all ingredients without boiling. Once warmed, simply strain and serve. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can add a dash of rum!

 

Homemade Healthy Eggnog (serves 4)

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk

1/3 cup raw organic honey

3 egg whites

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Pinch of ground ginger and/or cloves (optional)

Directions: Blend together all ingredients. Pour into a large pot and simmer (without boiling!) for 15 minutes. Serve in mugs with a cinnamon garnish.

Peppermint Cocoa

Ingredients:

Your hot cocoa of choice

Peppermint schnapps

Directions: This one’s super easy. Make your favorite hot cocoa. Add peppermint schnapps (to taste). Enjoy!

 

I hope that these yummy drink recipes keep you warm and happy throughout this holiday and winter season!

~Scribe Sarah~