lets try some ‘healthy’ baking

Let’s branch out a little bit from the stuff I sell shall we? ‘Cause I also really like to bake. Well, I like to cook all kinds of things, but baking is by far my favorite. I seems  to be what I am best at and what tastes the best. And often times the least ‘eating healthy’ friendly.

Recently though I came across a recipe that was both! Pumpkin Walnut Cranberry Muffins. With whole wheat flour, NO butter, and the only added sweetener being honey! I say it definitely counts as healthy eating. (I mean when compared to my rolo cupcakes with dark chocolate ganache and caramel buttercreme, they are practically diet food!)

The recipe I found via Pinterest… my other day job…  and comes from Jessie over at A Hint of Honey  (thanks!) where there are tons of other lovely recipes that are on my to do list. But for now lets focus on the pumpkin.

mmmmmmmmmmmm pumpkin

I know it’s not fall. But I love pumpkin all the time. I do not discriminate. There is always a can of pumpkin in my pantry for whenever the craving strikes. So no, it’s not fall. Actually it is very hot. The Hubster was not happy that I baked in 80+ degree weather making our hot house even hotter, but it was for a good cause. Pumpkin Muffins!

Actually, a very sweet and deserving coworker of my had fallen rather ill and was desperately in need of a healthy homemade get well soon delivery. And these seemed like just what she needed.

You will need:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice cinnamon (this is your call… but I hate nutmeg)
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp. canola oil
3/4 cup honey (1 cup for a sweeter muffin)
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (toasted for more flavor)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Begin!

-Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin (or use your prettiest get well soon cupcake liners).

– In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

-In a second bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, honey, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.

-Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined (no dry clumps remain). Fold in the cranberries and walnuts. The batter will be stiff! Don’t worry, this will come in hand later. 

-Evenly divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups (they will be extremely full).  <– very subtle wording for the craziness that you are about to undertake!

Personal experience side note: I have made these three times now. The first time I was immediately calling BS on whoever wrote this crazy recipe and decided that they were clearly mistaken and meant to say that the batter will be enough for 24… not 12. So I made the first half as the recipe called for. Then with the left over batter I added some chocolate chips.. cause it was just sitting there waiting for the first batch to bake… it was lonely… and everything is better with chocolate.

Anywho, we learned two things from this part of the baking experience. 1. There is not enough batter for 24 muffins. So don’t try that. 2. My theory still stands, everything IS better with chocolate, I recommend highly it.

These are pics from the second attempt when I was trying really hard to believe the recipe:

this is how full I would usually fill muffins…. see all that left over batter… not enough for 12 more.

So, this is where the super stiff batter comes in handy… you have to use it like play dough and BUILD your muffins. And there is still some left in the bowl!

This is PRE-baking people. Don’t be sacred. It will turn out okay. When you are done, the bottom of your oven will be just as messy as it was when you started.

Okay, Continue:

-Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

-Remove from the oven to cool on a wire rack.

So the original recipe claims that they are best enjoyed when warm. And yes, they are good that way….

See? They stayed in their papers and just got nice and fluffy and tall. No spillage at all!

Or you can be like me and add one final touch… which really, the more I tweak and add to the recipe, the less and less like health food they seem to be… but we can all focus on the whole wheat and no added sugar part anyways, right?

Cause I want more! So, I let mine cool completely then whipped up a nice runny glaze.

I usually eyeball this part until it reaches a good consistency, thin enough to dip and coat your muffins easily but thick enough to not all run and drip off before it can set up.

Roughly 2 cups powdered sugar + 2 tablespoons of heavy creme and a dash of vanilla to taste.

Roll the tops of the muffins in the glaze just to coat, then set back on your drying rack for an hour or so or however long it takes your glaze to set up in your inferno of a house because you insist on baking in the middle of the summer….

Totally worth it.

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cheers!

Okay I have been talking about them since Christmas but I have finally gotten enough sets completed and ready to sell that I can tell you all (all 3 of you) about it!

I am now making wine tags!.. wine charms?… glass markers?… what would you call them? Well whatever you would call them, I am making them!

Right now we have a few different sets. But there are more to come!

Sets of various trees. Sets of one tree done in different colors. Sets of words done in a ransom-note cut-out-letters style. Pre-packaged sets of 4 or 6 or pick and choose your own!

Pretty Pretty Wine Tags! (dirty dirty floor… please ignore)

When my friends and I get together with a few bottles of wine there are extra special nicknames and catch phrases that eventually come out. And actually this is how these little guys came about. Whenever there was glass confusion one of my friends used to try to identify her glass based on the chapstick lip marks left on the glass…. not really a reliable source. While I do not fear my friends have any major diseases or anything, my wine is MY WINE. So we needed a better method. We have so many fun drinking phrases it really lent itself well to this idea. And thus was born the very fist experimental set of wine tags. We have used them a few times and all went well. Also, drinking with a close group of friends results in A LOT of great new ideas (as well as a few equally fun but maybe not so marketable ideas). The words lead to more words, which lead to trying to include my paintings, and that lead to me playing with colors more on my painting prints, and that lead me here. With a whole bunch of these guys ready for your drinking enjoyment!

The next obvious step for the wine tags includes you, my lovely customers! I made the first set just for our circle of friends and most people outside of that group would have no clue why you would want your wine glass to say anything about birdshit, but we get it.

we also have a wine whore in our group… or two.

So what do you want your tags to say? Ware your inside jokes? What are your nicknames? Who do you typically drink with and want to keep from stealing your glass? Initials? Wedding party in need of some fun specialized favors? Got a favorite of my paintings you want in your favorite colors? What do YOU want on your set? I can make it happen! Just contact me and we can work out the details. If you aren’t looking for your own set, but have some ideas for me anyways, fire away! New ideas and suggestions are always welcome.

The true unveiling of these little guys will be this weekend at the Mississippi Street Fair! I am super excited about it! It will be my first street fair this summer, and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate nicely! I have been stocking up for the last few weeks. I will have my 4×4 paintings there as well as a few of my bigger ones, tons of jewelry and these new wine tags! Hope to see you all there! It is this Saturday, July 14th from 10am-9pm! I will be between Beech and Failing, drop by, say hi, mention the blog and I just may give you a discount 😉

CHEERS!

 

***UPDATE****

Wine charms have hit the shop! Check em out here! 

i feel like i am cheating

Last night I had an extremely productive night. I managed to do two batches of resin application and get two of my three panels done for my street fair booth display I have been working on for a while now. (craigslist adventures and fun with burlap coming soon.)

Aren’t they pretty?  Ohhh, and there’s something in this pic hinting at what they are going to be!

Any-who the main point of this random posting today is to tout the amazing wonders of my new heat gun. The heat gun I got was intended for embossing and super fancy-pants scrapbooking that I will never have enough ambition or patience to even attempt, much less complete. No, no, MY heat gun has other things in its future! But let’s back up for a moment.

Last fall I attended the always wonderful Crafty Wonderland Holiday show. It was fantastic. I gathered cards from other fantastic local makers, artists and crafters. I bought a few Christmas gifts. The hubster even (very sneakily) bought my Christmas gift right under my nose! As I was wandering about in a fog of awe and inspiration, I came across these lovely pendant necklaces that looked very similar to my own. Wait, let me be specific here: if one of my necklaces were next to one of these necklaces, they would NOT have been mixed up. They looked totally different. But they were making jewelry with prints of their own art work set in pendants under resin. Same technique, obviously different out come. Anyways, what really caught my eye was just how pristine their resin was! I mean glass-clear, perfect. I was in awe. I had to inquire just how they did it. I mean, it was perfect! Even what I was considering at the time as some of my best pieces still had tiny little bubbles in them. I was completely impressed. So I asked if they were willing to share their process or at least offer me some tips and what did I get in return? Hello, Helpful!! She not only gave me an extremely detailed step-by-step of what they do (temperature controlled room for 3 days, heat lamps, precise measuring, heat gun, the works) but she also told me that they offer a class once a month specifically focused on resin and getting it just right!

At that point I finally looked up from the perfect jewelry that had me mesmerized and realized who’s booth I was in. It was Collage. A lovely little craft supply store on Alberta. (Looks like they recently opened a second shop down in Sellwood, too.) I have been there before, I knew they taught classes on these kinds of things, and I sorta felt totally oblivious that I hadn’t realized who I was talking to sooner… oh well.

After that, well after the Christmas shopping hangover wore off and I had some time to work on my jewelry again, I ran right out with my Micheal’s 40% off coupon and got my very own heat gun! (You all know that you can get one of those cupons at any time right? Just go to their website and print one off. Totally worth it. I mean it’s 40% ANY one item in the store! Just had to share… I got my $28 life-saving heat gun for $17!!… sorry… back on topic now.)

The heat gun. My newest love. It works like magic. Once you have your resin on whatever it is you are putting resin on, you just flip on your heat gun and lightly blow across the surface and like a swift wave of Hermione’s wand, they are gone. The big ones and the ones on the top go first, and if you are in the right light you can see the surface crackle across as they pop. It’s kinda cool. If your resin is thicker in depth you may need to go in with a toothpick and stir the ones clinging to the bottom free, give it another pass with the gun and they’re gone too! Just that quick. Done and Done! The first few times I worked with resin it took me at least an hour to lay the resin on the pendants then go back through with a toothpick turning each piece in the light just right so I could see all the bubbles and then fishing each one out… while the resin was slowly setting up… getting thicker and thicker on me… getting worse and worse the longer I fought with them. Basically: it sucked. I was frustrated. And riding the border to just going over to the dark side and trying this “diamond glaze” stuff…. Luckily I didn’t. Instead I happened upon the lovely wealth of information at Collage and am happily cranking stuff out left and right, I mean two batches in one night!? I felt like I was cheating it was so easy.

THE Heat Gun and all the fun things I was able to accomplish last night because of it

Last night I was able to do TWO batches of resin, get them bubble free and still have time to make dinner, a new jewelry stand and some serious progress on my booth display! Hooray Heat Gun! And a bigger Hooray for Collage. I haven’t taken any classes there yet, but am considering the metal embossing one coming up (I will keep you posted if I do). Seriously guys, thank you! I suggest anyone in need of craft supplies, crafting tips of any kind, or if you are just looking for a fun new place to check out in Portland give them a visit!

What is that I put resin on last night? you ask. They aren’t quite done yet, and I am still working on how to display/package them, but as soon as they are ready for your viewing (and purchasing) pleasure I will let you know, promise! I’m kinda excited about them.

Also, if anyone has any questions specifically about how I work with resin, what I use, where I get it, or my jewelry making process, just ask me. I am happy to share. I know a lot of people in the craft world have very unique, personalized ways of working that they view as their own and guard very closely, and I understand that for some things. However, if it weren’t for YouTube and Etsy discussion boards I wouldn’t have had a clue as to where to start. So, if you have any questions, just ask, I am glad to share any info I have and, of course, welcome any additional tips you may have!

my first ever gallery show

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I had my very first solo gallery show back in May of this year. It was pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. That sounds terribly conceited. Not the show, I was referring to the amount of love and … Continue reading

portlanders love their bikes

This past weekend started off as a typical stay at home weekend for me and the hubs. My nieces came down to visit on Friday night, we played some corn hole and I baked for their late birthday.  (Recipes found on pinterest. I may go into further detail on here one of these days.)

love you girls!

Saturday we worked in the yard, pulled some of the endless weeds, I managed to get yet another surprise sunburn, he studied and I worked on more jewelry and some fun new items (again, more coming on them later). All in all it felt like we had a very productive Saturday so a nice datey night out was called for. We decided to walk over to the old ‘hood on SE Belmont; we stopped and visited the goats, we scouted out all the good yards looking for some plant inspiration for our yard, we had some super-fantastic Lebanese and then ended the night a $3 movie at the Avalon. A pretty fantastic evening.

As we were coming out of the theater to head home, wrapping up a very nice and very Portland-y feeling evening the city trumped me. “A little walk to dinner and a movie? Is that all? That’s not Portland!” said the city. “THIS is Portland!”

a wall of flesh on wheels

The month of June is Pedalpalooza here in Portland. A month-long celebration of all things biking. There is an organized ride for pretty much every group of people you can think of: Star Wars Junkies, Wine Enthusiasts, Super Hero Lovers, Families, Buddhists, Food Truck followers, even Gingers. The biggest ride of them all is by far the World Naked Bike Ride, which just happened to have been taking place Saturday night… right down Belmont… just as our movie was ending.

Not that I am bothered by this, I actually took part (well as close I think I may ever get to taking part) last year with a friend of mine (I wrote about it here). I was just caught off guard and then was trapped, unable to cross the street due to the sheer amount of bikes and bare flesh flying past me. It was pretty impressive, people’s inhibitions and also their ingenuity when it comes to costuming while still remaining naked. Impressive on all fronts.

Just another reason why I love Portland.

World Naked Bike Ride 2012 photos courtesy of bikeportland.org