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Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday…baking edition

For all who are unaware of the little sister of Black Friday, today is Small Business Saturday. It’s the counterpart to big box retail sales of Black Friday and it encourages shoppers to hit up brick and mortar stores that are small and local. The deals are just as good too! It’s a concept I can get behind because it keeps our hard earned dollars flowing in our local economies.

However, since this is a blog and is not brick and mortar in the slightest; I want to showcase some of my favorite Etsy shops that may or may not be having sales for Cyber Monday. I love Etsy because of it’s dedication to handmade goods. It’s the perfect platform for small startups to get their products to the mainstream. I could peruse Etsy for hours if I let myself, there are so many cute things on there! I wanted to share some of my favorite shops that feature a baking theme. Check them out and consider shopping small before heading out to big corporations when searching for that perfect, one-of-a-kind gift this holiday season!

I’ll start with my obsession for aprons….because everyone knows baked goods taste better when made wearing an apron.

Lover Dovers Clothing makes the most adorable aprons that look like Disney princess dresses. They come in kids’ sizes too! They also have various other retro style prints, but all of their aprons are handmade in a 50s style.

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Jassy Kitchen‘s aprons have tons of cupcake prints, and make “Mommy & Me” matching aprons for you and your little. Cute!
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4RetroSisters features retro style aprons with lots of gingham and polka dots.
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Boojiboo is doing a Cyber Monday discount of 10% off through Monday when you enter 2013HOLIDAY10 at checkout! Woop! I just can’t get enough of her vintage colored prints! Ahhhhh charming overload!

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Kitchen Glam does full and half style aprons, but the half styles are made out of terry cloth towel! How smart! they have aprons for kiddos too. They even have chef’s hats!
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That wraps up the apron portion of this post, but there are tons more!!

Arcadiagraphic has a bunch of delightful little posters, but this one in particular caught my eye:
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Livingthread does these kitschy little embroidered pieces. But these are not your grandma’s cross-stichings… they’re so badass!
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Designs By Nicolina does great posters and is doing a deal BLACK FRIDAY – CYBER MONDAY: 30% off Art Prints, 40% off Thank You Notes, and 50% off Recipe Cards.

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Punk Up Bettie‘s BLACK FRIDAY Sale runs from Nov. 27th until Dec. 2nd! Use discount code: BLKBETTIE20 for 20% off ENTIRE SHOP! They do darling little rockabilly hair combs and clips with cherries, sparrows and CUPCAKES!
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And last but not least, Tied in a knot bowtique makes delectable little hair bows with cupcakes on them, much like the one in my picture!
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Too precious! I love them all! Please share your favorite shops in a comment!

*all the photos featured in this blog post are the property of the shop owners*

Minting it

I realize it’s been a hot minute since I posted anything. To risk sounding trite: school has monopolized my spare time. soorrrrrryy. Admittedly, this is a bit of a lazy post. It’s less baking and more preparation for baking. Deal with it.

So I’ve been attempting to establish my green thumb….I got some seeds and dirt and got planting!

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aww they’re so cute!!!

I had this super original idea of putting them in mason jars that were attached to a piece of reclaimed wood and hanging them ever-so-handily in my kitchen for gorgeous meal preparation (thanks Pinterest)….

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So great, right? No. After I moved them from their cardboard seed tray home into the mason jars they plateaued in their growth. Sad face. The pic above showcases about how big they got. I tried to get them growing! I watered them everyday, and bought herb food, and texted my mom who is an amazing gardener…. but they died 😦 womp womp. Apparently, herbs need more space than just a tiny mason jar. Ah, the trials and errors of wannabe gardeners. So down went my dreams of an adorable hanging herb garden, complete with chalkboard labels…and on to thrift store bought, mismatching pots on the only windowsill in my apartment that gets any sun.

I’m not so proud that I can’t admit my failures…but I was determined not to give up. So I bought some seedlings and I’m happy to say I have more herbs than I know what to do with! yay!

When I was herb shopping, I thought mint would be fun. I mean, who doesn’t love a fresh mojito in the summertime?! But little did I know mint grows like a weed. F’real. And as much a I love mojitos, I couldn’t keep up. So what to do with a boat-load of mint? Mint extract. woop.

Super easy:

  • 1 1/2 -2 cups of vodka
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves

1. Wash mint and pat dry. Now rough ’em up a little bit. Smash ’em, crush ’em, no need to massacre, but you get the idea.
2. Put mint in a jar and completely cover with vodka. *if you don’t completely cover the leaves, they’ll mold*
3. Place tightly sealed jar in a cool, dark place for 1-2 months.

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I’ll letchya know how it turns out in about a month. I plan on making copious amounts of homemade thin mints. 😀

What do you guys do with you herbs? I’d love to hear your ideas!

*original recipe from The Prairie Homestead
http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2013/10/diy-mint-extract-recipe.html

Star ingredients: Cinnamon & Honey!!

Cinnamon and Honey
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It is found that a mix of honey and Cinnamon cures most diseases. Honey is produced in most of the countries of the world. Scientists of today also note honey as very effective medicine for all kinds of diseases. Honey can be used without side effects which is also a plus.

Today’s science says that even though honey is sweet, when it is taken in the right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm even diabetic patients. Researched by western scientists:

HEART DISEASES: Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, put it on toast instead of jelly and jam and eat it regularly for breakfast. It reduces the cholesterol and could potentially save one from heart attack. Also, even if you have already had an attack studies show you could be kept miles away from the next attack. Regular use of cinnamon honey strengthens the heart beat. In America and Canada, various nursing homes have treated patients successfully and have found that as one ages the arteries and veins lose their flexibility and get clogged; honey and cinnamon revitalize the arteries and the veins.

ARTHRITIS: Arthritis patients can benefit by taking one cup of hot water with two tablespoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder. When taken daily even chronic arthritis can be cured. In a recent research conducted at the Copenhagen University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon Cinnamon powder before breakfast, they found that within a week (out of the 200 people so treated) practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain — and within a month, most all the patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis now started walking without pain. 

BLADDER INFECTIONS: Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It destroys the germs in the bladder….who knew? 

CHOLESTEROL: Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in 16 ounces of tea water given to a cholesterol patient was found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two hours. As mentioned for arthritic patients, when taken three times a day, any chronic cholesterolcould be cured. According to information received in the said Journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of cholesterol.

COLDS: Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold, and, clear the sinuses, and it’s delicious too!

UPSET STOMACH: Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also is said to clear stomach ulcers from its root.

GAS: According to the studies done in India and Japan, it is revealed that when Honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.

IMMUNE SYSTEM: Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacterial and viral attacks. Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use of Honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles (where DNA is contained) to fight bacterial and viral diseases.

INDIGESTION: Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food is eaten relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals

INFLUENZA: A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ‘Ingredient’ which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.

LONGEVITY: Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly, arrests the ravages of old age. Use four teaspoons of honey, one teaspoon of cinnamon powder, and three cups of boiling water to make a tea. Drink 1/4 cup, three to four times a day. It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age. Life spans increase and even a 100 year old will start performing the chores of a 20-year-old.

RASPY OR SORE THROAT: When throat has a tickle or is raspy, take one tablespoon of honey and sip until gone. Repeat every three hours until throat is without symptoms.

PIMPLES: Three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder paste. Apply this paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it off the next morning with warm water. When done daily for two weeks, it removes all pimples from the root.

SKIN INFECTIONS:Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts on the affected parts cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin Infections.

WEIGHT LOSS:Daily in the morning one half hour before
breakfast and on an empty stomach, and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup of water. When taken regularly, it reduces the weight of even the most obese person. Also, drinking this mixture regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high calorie diet.

CANCER: Recent research in Japan and Australia has revealed that advanced cancer of the stomach and bones have been cured successfully. Patients suffering from these kinds of cancer should daily take one tablespoon of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder three times a day for one month.

FATIGUE: Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey is more helpful rather than being detrimental to the strength of the body. Senior citizens who take honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts are more alert and flexible. Dr. Milton, who has done research, says that a half tablespoon of honey taken in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder, even when the vitality of the body starts to decrease, when taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at about 3:00 P.M., the vitality of the body increases within a week.

BAD BREATH: People of South America, gargle with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water first thing in the morning so their breath stays fresh throughout the day.

HEARING LOSS: Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder, taken in equal parts restores hearing. Remember when we were kids? We had toast with real butter and cinnamon sprinkled on it!

Candy Cookies

I had so much leftover Halloween candy, it was obscene. I live in a very family friendly neighborhood so I bought like 8 bags of candy. Not the crappy stuff either! “Crappy candy?” you ask? You know what I’m talkin about. Like Smarties and candy corn. A friend of mine actually rounded up a “Sick-or-Treat” tournament bracket of the worst candies and chronicled the path to the ultimate gross Halloween candy on her blog Ravaging Beauty. Check it out…but there were no circus peanuts or black jelly beans or those weird wax bottles filled with “juice” in my mix of delicousness awaiting little monsters. I had a gigantic bowl full of 100 Grands, Kit Kats, Baby Ruths, Butterfinger Crisps….and about 8 trick-or-treaters. Seriously. I was handing it out by the fist full. Please kiddos take my candy!!!

Okay…that sounded a little weird.

Anyway. So I had about 7 bags of leftover candy. Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE candy. I crave Kit Kats and Baby Ruths at least 4 times a week. But having them at my disposal at anytime I wish…no bueno. A girl can only have candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner so many days in a row before she starts craving cupcakes and cookies. *sweet tooth? what sweet tooth?*

But I thought it was a little ridiculous to just bust out a batch of cupcakes, adding to the silly amount of sweets already in the house. Solution? Put the leftover Halloween candy IN a batch of cookies! YES! I know. I know. I’m like the most original blogger you’ve ever stumbled across. Shut up.

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup Reese’s Pieces (about 15 of the snack size bags)
1 cup chocolate chips…or chopped up Butterfingers or M&Ms or any other candies you may have lurking around

Mix up your flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together your butter, sugars and vanilla.

 

Add eggs 1 at a time.

Throw that flour mix in there.

Now fold in your candy treats.

I don’t suggest eating this batter as there are raw eggs in it…but I did and IT’S DELICIOUS. Who can say no to cookie dough??

So plop them on your cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 9-11ish minutes, until the cookies are golden.

ERMAGERD CERKIESH!!!!!

{Bakery Interview} Cake Crumbs

Today I was lucky enough to sit down with local bakery luminary Denon Moore, owner of Cake Crumbs, the Denver Cupcake Truck and the Denver Pie Truck! She was super nice and told me all about her baking endeavors and sent me home with a tasty treat! Check out what we chatted about!

 

 

 

 

 

When did you first start baking? About ten years ago I started baking as a hobby and then started baking cakes for friends and family. I was creating art and selling a bit at local craft shows, and decided that baking was the perfect marriage of art and food, and since people buy more food than art, I opened a bakery!

What’s your favorite thing to bake? Cake. I’ll always go back to cake.

To eat? I love the classics, like chocolate chip cookies.

What’s your biggest selling baked good? Cupcakes. We currently make about 1,000 cupcakes per day and last summer we were averaging about 10,000 per week.

WOW!

In 2010 you revved up your first food truck, how has that affected your business? The Denver Cupcake Truck currently brings in about 30% of our business. It’s also been a great marketing tool for our storefront. Within the first month we saw a 20% increase in sales due to the truck advertising us, by the end of the first year, that grew to a 40% increase.

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What has been the biggest contributor to your success? Keeping it real with our customers. We keep an open door policy as far as feedback is concerned and take requests from our customers. We really try to make them feel like they’re a part of the Cake Crumbs family. Also, owning up to mistakes and working hard to fix them.

What tips do you have for someone looking to start a baking business? Work in restaurant industry in any way you can. Start getting into repetitive work, the biggest thing for me was separating the whole process into pieces. You don’t always get to see every baked good from start to finish. Some days I scoop cupcakes into pans all day, other days I have to try and fix a broken mixer. I don’t always get to deliver the finished product to the customers. Sometimes I just have to be a part of the process and that can be difficult because when I first started I was hands-on every step of the way and that gives me a sense of accomplishment. Seeing my customers so happy was a big reason why I got into this business. But now that we’ve grown so big, I have to do what I can to keep the business running, and that’s a different sense of accomplishment.

Great advice! Thanks so much Denon! 

Follow the Denver Cupcake Truck here
Follow the Denver Pie Truck here
Visit Cake Crumbs here

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Perfect for Fall: Poached Pears

Most pears come into season September/Octoberish so right now is the perfect time for this warm, spiced treat. For this recipe, I used Bosc pears, which are great for poaching because of their crisp texture. Softer pears like Bartlett will fall apart during the boil.

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 cups of water
3 cups of sweet white wine (I used Riesling)…this will leave you with just enough for a glass for yourself. I suggest you drink it
3 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup of honey
4 ripe but firm pears

Start by getting your poaching liquid together. Put everything except the pears into a large pot and bring it to a boil. Prepare for your kitchen to smell amazing.

You can essentially throw anything you want into that liquid. Whatever flavors you want your pears to take on-put it in the pot. You can exnay the wine, add some orange peel, clove, ginger, anise…whateva you like! Experimentation is up to you!

While the liquid heats up on the stove, grab those pears and start peeling and coring.

Once your pears are all peeled and cored, and your liquid is boiling; put your pears in and lower the heat to medium.

Nummers.

Let those bad boys simmer down now for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Enjoy with some vanilla ice cream, chocolate ganache, or all by themselves.
I’ll probably throw them in with my yogurt and pumpkin granola for breakfast. mmmmm mmm! You’re welcome!

Original recipe by Coco Roost
Check this guy out too: David Lebovitz

Featured Blog: Sweet Ambs

Featured Blog: Sweet Ambs

Rarely am I so captivated by a blog to forage wildly through the entirety of the archives, but such was the case when I stumbled upon Sweet Ambs cookie blog. Her lovely little cookies are showcased through beautiful photos and videos set to classical music. Some of her cookies are hand painted, others are painstakingly embellished with royal icing to resemble lace or embroidery. Regardless of your affinity for baking, this blog is worth the click.