Tuesday, December 04, 2012

pear cookie pie

I love pears.  They are so underrated and in my opinion, so much better than apples.

Last year, I accidentally made a pie with a cookie crust rather than a pie crust because I had leftover cookie crust and it was am-a-zing.  It has become my new thing.  I am not a huge pie crust fan and the cookie dough crust is SO much easier.  And better.

I have only experimented with putting this crust on the top of the fruit - not the bottom and top, so I am not exactly sure how that would work, but I assume it would be delicious :).

Pear Cookie Pie {makes one pie}
For the filling
-5 pears, diced
-a tablespoon of honey
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1 teaspoon nutmeg

For the crust
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-a pinch of salt
-1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
-3/4 cup white sugar
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 large egg
-2 teaspoons cinnamon

-a little extra sugar for dusting

1. First make the crust.  Use an electric mixer and mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg and vanilla extract and continue to mix until totally combines {another minute}.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
3. Form dough into a ball and stick in the refrigerator while you prepare the pears.  Dice the pears into bite sized pieces and toss with the honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
4. Spread the pears evenly in a pie dish and take the dough out of the refrigerator.  
5. Roll the dough out into a disc the same size as your pie dish.  This dough is a little sticky, so I roll it out in between two pieces of parchment paper.
6. Lay the dough disc on the top of the pears and crimp around the edges.  Don't worry about making it fancy. This isn't the prettiest pie, but it tastes really good :).
7. Dust the crust with a little white sugar and bake for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees.  You will know it's done when the edges of the crust have browned a small bit.

If you have extra dough left over you can make it into cookies or just eat the dough.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

12 days of merry {day 2} ~ brown bag advent calendar

When I was a kid, we had an advent calendar that my grandma made.  There was a large felt tree and beneath it were 24 little pockets with felt ornaments in them.  I loved this advent calendar.   The countdown to Christmas was the most exciting part.  

This year I made an advent calendar for my niece.  I had a lot of grand ideas but when I remembered I had to ship the thing, I decided to go simple.  

To make the calendar, I used items I already hand on hand - brown paper bags, clothespins, and twine. I created the numbers in photoshop and printed them on sticker paper and I filled each bag with trinkets I got at Target, Michael's, and The Queen Bee Market.

This is pretty much a three year old's dream.  I think I might win the award for aunt of the year....not that I was trying or anything ;). 

Do you have an advent calendar tradition at your house?  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

let's talk about pricing....again

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post about pricing that has become the most widely read post on my blog.  The fact that it gets so much attention and traffic makes me happy because I want others in the handmade/indie business world to correctly price their items. It is important that we as a community value our work.

I also wrote about pricing and valuing your work on Design*Sponge about a year ago. Obviously it is something I am passionate about :).   My blog has a small reach, but Design*Sponge has a ridiculous reach, so I know the message is out there and I know many of you have the same frustrations.

My personal frustrations stem from the fact low prices hurt the entire handmade community.

After vending at The Queen Bee Market last weekend, I saw so many LOW prices.  As I walked around and shopped, I was constantly impressed with the quality of work and the creativity that each and every seller possessed.  And I will admit, as a shopper, the low prices were enticing but they are damaging in the long run.

Don't get me wrong, many vendors set their prices just right - high enough to make a profit but low enough to be competitive.  However, every few booths, my eyes would pop out of my head when I would spot jewelry priced lower than that at Forever 21 or Claires.  

I know how much certain materials cost and I know that some of these materials are really inexpensive but we cannot forget all the other factors.  Factors such as marketing costs, packaging materials, booth fees, and your time.  Your time and my time is worth SO much more than a few dollars per hour.

The whole pricing issue in the handmade world can be a really frustrating topic.  I know I shouldn't let it frustrate me and I should just focus on my own product and blah, blah, blah.  But this isn't my hobby, this is my livelihood.  And when I see products similar to mine priced for a third of what I sell mine for, I want to scream.

I know so many of you who read this blog are also small business owners and we all struggle with the fine line of making a living and setting fair prices.  It isn't the easiest thing to do.  

When I first opened my business, I was in the mindset that "lower is better," but over the years I have realized that that couldn't be further from the truth.

There is no need to be greedy when pricing, but we do need to focus on fair pricing.  Our culture is addicted to cheap goods but trust me, there is room for reasonably priced goods.  

This is how I price my items ~

When I attend a handmade market,  I am expecting to pay a little more than I would at say, Target.  If we continue to price our items at a Target level, then we will create a thinking that handmade is cheap.  Cheap is a word I would never use to describe my business, so why would I want to give that impression with super low prices?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

eggnog muffins

I am a big eggnog fan.  I bought a bottle last week and have been putting it in my coffee every morning.  All of a sudden it's Christmas.

I also love an eggnog cocktail.  I make mine with a shot of grand marnier liquor.  So good.

I love eggnog and I love muffins, so I combined the two and made eggnog muffins.  The taste is so... eggnog-ey.  That is the best adjective I can use to describe these muffins.  That and delicious.  

Eggnog Muffins {makes 12 large muffins - recipe adapted from here}
-2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
-3/4 cup sugar
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 eggs
-1 cup eggnog {I used low fat}
-1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
-1/4 cup non fat plain greek yogurt
-1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Streusel Topping
-2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
-2 tablespoons brown sugar
-2 tablespoons flour
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a muffin tin or line with muffin wrappers.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and sugar.  
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, eggnog, melted butter, yogurt, and vanilla extract.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir together.  The batter will be a little lumpy, which is fine.
5. Make the streusel topping by cutting together all the streusel ingredients.  I use a pastry blender but you can use two knives or zap everything in the food processor.
6. Spoon equal amounts of batter into the muffin pan and top with the streusel topping. Bake for 20 minutes.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Ikea Hack - Dining Room Table

Last week I performed a little Ikea hack on my dining room Ikea Jokkmokk table.  My initial idea was to remove the legs, replace them with hairpin legs, then sand and re-stain the top.

I will admit, I often have grand diy ideas but my execution often doesn't pan out.  I am happy to say that this time around, everything worked perfectly.  My table turned out better than I could have imagined and I absolutely LOVE it.  Plus the whole hack was SO simple....just a few easy steps.

Remove legs and trim - just a few screws.

I used this $30 Black & Decker sander and the stain I chose was RustOleum Sunbleached.

I bought hairpin legs from this shop on eBay for $50 and screwed them to each of the four corners.  I placed each one about an inch in from the edge.


That is all I did.  Besides drying time in between the two coats of stain, this whole project took less than an hour.  I love when projects are super simple and produce big results.

I think it looks SO much better and my favorite part is that I now have an original table.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Homemade Coffee Creamer - 3 Ways

I cannot drink coffee without a little sweet creamer mixed in.  Correction - I can drink it and I do drink it, I just prefer it with a little sweetness and flavor.

Last weekend I made three different flavored creamers and they're all so tasty.  My absolute favorite is the salted caramel.  I was a little skeptical of this flavor but I am so happy I went for it.  Not to brag, but it's really freakin' good.  

My recipes are all slightly sweet.  If you like your creamer super sugary, simply increase the sweet ingredients.

Pumpkin Spice
-3/4 cup fat free half and half
-1/4 cup pumpkin puree
-2 heaping tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon allspice
-1/4 teaspoon ginger
skip all these spices and use two teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1. In a small saucepan, stir all the ingredients until well combined and heat over low-medium heat.  Stir frequently for about 7-10 minutes.
2. Strain the creamer through a fine sieve {or don't....I just don't like a lot of pumpkin puree in my coffee} and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for about three days.

Dark Chocolate 
-3/4 cup fat free half and half
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-2 heaping tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk

1. In a small saucepan, stir all the ingredients until well combined and heat over low-medium heat.  Stir frequently for about 5 minutes.
2. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for about a week.

Salted Caramel
-1 cup fat free half and half
-2 heaping tablespoons of store bought caramel sauce {this one is a good one}
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan, stir together all the ingredients and heat over low-medium heat.  Stir frequently for about 5 minutes....the caramel will melt into the half and half.  While stirring, make sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the pan so that the caramel doesn't stick and scorch.
2. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for about a week.


Monday, September 24, 2012

CrockPot Apple Butter

After picking apples in Julian last week, I had a million pounds of apples that needed to be made into something.  One thing I decided to make was apple butter.  I looked at various methods and decided upon the easiest one - crock pot apple butter.

This recipe could not be easier and it makes your whole house smell like apple and cinnamon.  So delicious.

Crockpot Apple Butter

**Chop up about two pound of apples {leave the peel on but remove and discard the core}.  Rinse the apple pieces and toss in the slow cooker.   

**Cover the apples with 2-3 tablespoons of honey, a teaspoon of nutmeg, three teaspoons of cinnamon, the zest from one lemon, and 1/3 cup of water.  Stir all together, set the crockpot on low, and cook for about five hours.

Depending on how large or small you chopped your apples, it might take more or less time.  Check here and there and give the mixture a stir so it doesn’t scorch.

**Once the apples are cooked and cooled, dump the mixture into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  If you prefer lots of texture, skip this step.

Store the apple butter in airtight containers in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Apple butter can be spread on toast, waffles, etc.  Or, go crazy and spread it on cracker topped with a slice of good parmesan cheese.


Monday, July 02, 2012

German Potato Salad

I have posted this recipe a few times before, but I feel it's worth repeating.  It is such a delicious summer side dish.

I inherited this recipe from my late grandmother and is the best potato salad you will ever eat. Even my husband, who claims to "hate" potato salad, loves this dish.  

German Potato Salad
  • 2 pounds of red potatoes
  • 4 eggs {3 of them hard boiled}
  • 4 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • a handful of fresh, flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper

1. Hard boil three of the eggs.  My hard-boiling-egg method:  put eggs in a pot, cover with water, and cook until water boils.  Turn off the heat, pop a lid on the pot, and let the eggs sit there until the water cools enough for you to touch it {about 20 minutes}.

2. While the eggs are sitting in the hot water, cut the potatoes into large bite sized pieces and boil.  Be careful to not overcook them.  Boil them until they are just fork tender.

3. Drain the potatoes and set them in a large serving bowl.

4. Dice the bacon into small pieces and cook in a large saucepan, for about 5 minutes.  Carefully remove the crisp bacon bits from the pan while leaving the grease behind.

5. Slice the onion into thin strips and cook it in the bacon fat that remains in your saucepan.  These onions should be cooked over low-medium heat until nice and tender {this will take about 7 minutes}.

6. Whisk together the sugar, vinegar, and Dijon mustard and pour it into the pan with the onions.  Stir all together and allow the mixture to cook for a minute.

7. Whisk the fourth egg in a small bowl and slowly add to the pan with the onions and sauce.  Stir constantly while you are pouring so that the egg thickens the sauce without totally scrambling.  The egg will quickly cook {within about 10 seconds} and thicken the sauce while it does so.

8. Pour the warm sauce + onions over the potatoes + bacon in the serving bowl.

9. Finally the hard boiled eggs will be ready.  Peel and dice them and add them to the serving bowl.  Top the whole thing with chopped fresh parsley, a little salt and pepper and toss all to combine.  Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mixed Berry Yogurt Scones

I have never been a huge fan of scones.  Typically I find them to be dry and flavorless and just overall *blah*.  A total waste of calories and carbs.  

I have felt this way for years until a few weeks ago when I had a scone from Azucar.  

{Side note: If you ever find yourself in San Diego, you must visit Azucar.  It's a seriously amazing Cuban style bakery.}

I am not sure why I ordered a scone at Azucar...I guess I thought it would be "healthier" than my usual double chocolate or mojito cookie.  I had never tasted a scone like this and for the first time said, "I think I like scones."  

This is big news people.  I don't usually like foods I had previously written off.  I am really growing up - right before your eyes.

I adapted my recipe for Mixed Berry Yogurt Scones from this one on Annie Eats {which was adapted from Cooking Light}.  

If you're a fellow scone-hater like me, try this recipe.  It is so delicious and full of berry flavor.  I want to make them again and again with all sorts of fruit combinations.

Mixed Berry Yogurt Scones {makes 12}
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mixed berries {I used frozen and thawed them in the microwave}
3 tablespoons melted butter
zest from one lemon
the juice from one lemon
one egg white
6 ounces non-fat or low-fat yogurt...any flavor {I used low fat greek strawberry yogurt}

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients with a whisk {both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt}.
3. In another bowl, mix together the egg white, melted butter {make sure it isn't too hot}, the yogurt, the lemon zest, and the lemon juice.  Add in the berries and fold all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
4. Lightly flour a clean surface and gently kneed the dough on the surface until all comes together.  Form into a disc and cut into 12 equal portions.
5. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and bake scones at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Sweet Gordita

My sweet little dog Gordita turns nine next month.  NINE.

Where did the last nine years go??

Gordita has been with me my entire adult life.  And by "adult" I mean post-college/post-parents-supporting-me life.  A lot of growing up has happened with this little dog by my side.

She moved with me from apartment to apartment.  She ate crappy dog food when that is all I could afford.  She cuddled with me when I cried and ran in circles chasing her tail when I laughed.

When my now husband first met her, he thought she was annoying and stupid, but she eventually won him over.  {For the record, she isn't the smartest dog around - but whatever she lacks in brains she makes up for in personality and sweetness.}

When I adopted her my parents told me it was a mistake because "you cannot afford a dog!"  And they were right; I had no money.  So I charged her vet bills.  And her food.   And she was more than worth it.

When I look back at all the impulse purchases I have made over the years, Gordita is hands down, without a doubt, the best one I have ever made.  

She was a total impulse purchase.  I went with two of my friends to the shelter to "look at the puppies."  If you don't want a puppy, avoid the pound...puppies are hard to pass up :).

The day I saw her balled up and trembling in the corner of that huge cage, I impulsively spent $75 and took the little peanut home.  I named her Gordita - because she was literally a little fat girl.  And she still is my little fat girl.

I figure I will be one of those people who will always have a dog - and I will love them all.  But none will be as special as my first dog.  For a long time it was just me and my pup - we kind of grew up together.

I find as she gets older I squish her more.  I play with her more.  I kiss her more.  I take pictures almost daily as I never want to forget one crazy bit of fur or roll of fat.

I know dogs live to be about 12 but I am hoping that this crazy little mutt makes it to 20.  I am just not ready for it to be her final years.

I am not ready to wake up without her little brown eyes staring at me, anxiously awaiting breakfast and a walk.  I am not ready.  

People who don't have dogs tell me they're replaceable.  I am sorry, but I don't agree.

I could never "replace" Gordita and I would never want to replace her.  She is a true one of a kind.  My Heinz 57 dog.  The one with 57 "ingredients."

No matter how many dogs I will have in my life, Gordita will always be my first love.   The canine love of my life.

Designed by Jackie Ayr