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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Blueberry Lavender Lemon Loaf

I've been all about those loaf recipes lately. I also perfected my Copy Cat Starbucks Lemon Loaf, and wanted to take it a step further:

Enter the Blueberry Lavender Lemon Loaf!


This cake/loaf is the perfect addition to a coffee date, a tea party, or just because. It is super moist, and I love the color of the blueberries popping on the top!



The glaze is delicious, and you can be however generous you want to be with it - you can drench it, like I did, or drizzle it on top. I think in hindsight, I might've drizzled it, as I lost all the gorgeous blueberries at the top by covering them. Either way, this loaf is a crowd-pleaser!



oops. my littlest helper approves of the glaze.


Ingredients:

Lemon Pound Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sunflower (or canola) oil
1/2 cup (fresh) lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp finely crushed dried culinary lavender
1 cup blueberries

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cream
1-2 tbsp lavender simple syrup (depending on desired consistency)



Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F /175 C.

2. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and lavender until combined. Set aside.

4. In a separate, smaller bowl combine lemon zest and sugar with a fork. Set aside.

5. In the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment combine buttermilk, oil, lemon juice, eggs and vanilla. Mix on a low speed until the ingredients are combined.

6. Add the flour mixture and sugar mixture, and continue to mix until smooth and fully combined.

7. Carefully stir in the blueberries.

8. Transfer the batter into the greased loaf pan, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (If the top is starting to brown too quickly, you can tent aluminum foil on it.)

9. Remove from oven, and allow to fully cool. Remove from pan.

10. Combine powdered sugar, cream, lemon juice and lavender simple syrup until glaze forms, then spoon and smooth over the loaf. 



And there you have it! 
As delicious as it is beautiful!
What fruit would you like to see in my next attempt?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Geometric Cross Wall Art

Hey, friends!

You may or may not know, but our family lives in Slovenia to help the local Pentecostal churches - specifically in Ptuj at the moment.
The pastor of the church asked my husband and I to help them make the kids' Sunday school room more kid-friendly, and we were thrilled to do so!


As any self-respecting person living in 2020, I began my search on Pinterest. I didn't know exactly what I wanted, but I did know that I wanted something that was somehow modern and timeless at the same time. I found this great idea and saved it, but unfortunately by the time we went to paint it this past weekend the link was dead. 

So, I decided to put my own tutorial out there, in case someone found themselves in the same boat.

Tools:
- Paint brushes in different sizes (we didn't end up needing any big ones, as our triangle shapes were small.)
- 11 different colors of wall paint (you don't have to copy our colors exactly of course, just try to keep all of your colors in harmony with one another. We ended up with lots of jewel tones, and I love it!) You won't need a lot of each color, so you can buy the smallest paint bucket size they offer.
- Painter's tape - a small size. Ours was about an inch in width.
- Measuring tape.
- A level.
- Drop cloth.

Steps:
1. If you want an accent wall, start with that. We didn't paint the accent wall in this room, so I won't be giving steps on that. :)

2. The first thing you are going to want to do, is put down your drop cloth. I'm pretty klutzy, so this is especially important for me, ha!

3. Next, you will measure out the cross. You can make it any size you want to fit your wall, but these are the measurements we used: 


We measured outside of tape to outside of tape. You will need to use the level to make sure your lines are straight up and down, or horizontally. (This was especially hard, because the wall itself wasn't straight everywhere.) We started with the line on the very bottom. We knew we wanted the outlet to be part of the white cross so we wouldn't have to paint it. We chose a length we liked, and stuck painter's tape on the wall for that length. Next we measured up 130 cm, made a little mark on the wall with a pencil, then slid the level up the wall as we taped. We did the same on the other side, but were able to have a more accurate "point" made with the pencil, as we could measure side-to-side as well as top-to-bottom. We continued this until the whole cross was measured and taped out. Honestly, this was one of the hardest parts, as we started with no frame of reference. It took about an hour just for the cross.


4. Now for the fun part! Taking the painter's tape, we taped strips of it all over the wall to create mostly triangles, but all sorts of geometric shapes, in different sizes. We wanted connecting shapesn all around the cross, with it tapering off on the right. So, at first they're only separated by the tape, then there are some bigger stand-alone triangles, and finally some small ones.




5. After it's all done, make sure you go over all of it one last time, pressing your fingers or fingernail over it to really "seal" it, otherwise the paint will bleed.

6. And now the painting. (Shake paint VERY well before use.) We decided to go one color at a time once, then going over a second time to fill in any gaps. It was hard to gauge how many of each color to paint, and we definitely could have painted more the first time around, but this worked well, too. Our one rule was that a same color could not be touching itself. Also, we tried to visually space them out as well as we could. 

Tips: 
- Make sure your brush isn't "drippy", as you can easily drip paint on the color below where you are working. We speak from experience.
- The darker colors will need an extra coat or two.
- It is VERY easy to paint past the painter's tape because it is thinner than people usually work with, so paint with care.
- Make sure you paint all the way into the corners so they will look nice and crisp.





7. Apparently the best time to remove painter's tape is once the paint is dry to the touch so that it won't adhere to the tape. We didn't know this, and even if we had, we started removing tape as soon as we were done painting, but some of our darker paint colors came off with the tape. AAAAHHH! 
So, here are some tips:
- Be careful in pulling up the tape When you come to an "intersection" of tape, remove each one individually. 
- It's okay if you need to go back over some of the shapes to fix them. Just tape that part again, paint, and remove the tape once it is dry to the touch.

8. Once all the tape is removed, stand back and admire the result of your hard work!








And there is is! 
I hope that this wall is loved for many years.

Have you ever painted any sort of wall art or mural? How did it go? Was it a bigger task than you initially thought, lol?

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Lavender Simple Syrup


Honestly, this recipe is so simple and easy, I almost feel silly sharing it, bur I am planning on using this syrup in upcoming recipes, so I wanted to be able to refer you guys to this fun and easy lavender simple syrup recipe.

Syrups are pretty common in our part of the world - they are added to water (sparkling or still) as a way to have "juice". My Hungarian grandma used to make us drinks with her homemade syrups and a seller bottle.

Syrups are great for adding flavor to lemonade, iced (or hot) teas, icing, frosting, cocktails, cakes... the possibilities are endless. 

So, with my lavender plants and other herbs in full bloom I decided to take a crack at it.


Tools you'll need:
- small pot
- funnel
- small sieve
- glass jars
- optional: twine and lavender for "packaging"


Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp fresh food grade lavender flowers






Notes:
- if you're using lavender from your garden, you're going to need to wash it, and pinch/snap off the flower buds.
- you don't have to use white sugar, you can use unrefined sugar (which I used later for my mint syrup), just keep in mind that it will change the color of your syrup. You can also try honey, or alternative sugars, such as coconut sugar.
- technically all lavender is edible, as in it won't hurt you, but for cooking and baking you should use food grade lavender. Unless the plant (or buds) say explicitly that it is meant for food, you shouldn't use it. That kind of lavender is perfect for making essential oils, for making potpourri satchels, to dry to use in your home, or just to cut and place in water. Your best bet for finding a food grade lavender plant is at a plant nursery, or perhaps a hardware store.
- you can infuse simple syrups with just about anything, especially herbs. After the lavender one I made a mint one, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to make a thyme one, too. It's addicting, and I'm sorry to have drug you along on this with me, ha!



Directions:
1. Place all the ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a boil on a medium-high heat, ensuring that all of the sugar dissolves. Then bring heat down to a low heat, and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, keeping in mind that the longer you simmer it, the stronger the flavor will be. (This is a great excuse to taste-test your syrup along the way.)

2. Using the sieve and funnel, pour your syrup into your jars. Place them in the fridge to cool, and voila! They should last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. If you want to jazz them up, or if you're giving them as a gift, you can make a little tag, or wrap twine around them and add a sprig of lavender.



This is an effortless way to elevate drinks and baked goods, and plus, it's just really fun!

For some extra fun, here is my mint simple syrup:
I had to use raw sugar, because I ran out of white, but I am kind of digging the brown. <3
For this recipe, follow the same instructions, just swap the 2 tbsp lavender with 1 cup of fresh mint.




Friday, May 15, 2020

Copycat Starbucks Lemon Loaf

You know when you get a craving...



I've been craving a slice of Starbucks lemon loaf. But there is no Starbucks in my COUNTRY!!! And then there's lockdown.

So, I tried another blogger's recipe, and was a little under-impressed. The icing was top notch and tasted just right, but the cake was way to "bread"-y. It dried out fast, too.

That's when I remembered a yummy cranberry and orange loaf I had made at Thanksgiving that was deeeelish, and already reminded me of the lemon loaf when I made it, and thought I could perhaps make it a lemon loaf instead. And it did! And it was fantastic! Way better! Here you go!



Ingredients:

Lemon Pound Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sunflower (or canola) oil
1/2 cup (fresh) lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cream

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F /175 C.

2. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Set aside.

4. In a separate, smaller bowl combine lemon zest and sugar with a fork. Set aside.

5. In the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment combine buttermilk, oil, lemon juice, eggs and vanilla. Mix on a low speed until the ingredients are combined.

6. Add the flour mixture and sugar mixture, and continue to mix until smooth and fully combined.

7. Transfer the batter into the greased loaf pan, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (If the top is starting to brown too quickly, you can tent aluminum foil on it.)

8. Remove from oven, and allow to fully cool.

9. Combine powdered sugar, cream and lemon juice until glaze forms, then spoon and smooth over the loaf. 





Yummmmmmm...

Man, that hit the spot.

Store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The next day it is even BETTER!! Yummy!

What other copycat recipe would you like to see me try? Any special requests?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Streusel-Topped Peach Muffins

Aren't peaches the bomb?!
They just scream summer! I had a bunch of them sitting in my window, and was dying for a reason to bake with them.



There is a tailor on my new street. I took a duvet cover over to him the other day to have him let out and change the seam (hubby didn't believe me when I told him which size to buy - it was too small). When I asked him how much it would cost, he told me "Oh, nothing. I am just doing this because you are a good neighbor." (Mind you, this is the first time we've met.) I found this beyond charming, but also knew I couldn't leave it at that, so I wanted to bake something for when I went to pick it up.




Enter streusel-topped peach muffins.

Ingredients:

Streusel topping:
1/2 cup (94 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (55 grams) chilled butter cut into small pieces

Muffin batter:
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (90 grams) room temperature butter
3 peaches - peeled and chopped into small pieces (pinky fingernail-sized)
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all purpose flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup (130 grams) sugar
1 large egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk (I have also made this with natural drinkable yogurt we can find here in Slovenia. It makes for a slightly denser muffin, but works just fine in a pinch.)



Directions:

1. Heat your oven to 350 F / 175 C.

2. Place muffin liners in your muffin tin (I made these out of baking paper), or spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray.

3. Using the whisk attachment on your mixer (or by using a pastry cutter) incorporate all of the ingredients for your streusel until crumbly (some large buttery chunks are good). Place in fridge until ready to use.

4. In a bowl, whisk (by hand is fine - less dishes) together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

5. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat for about 1 minute.

6. With the mixer still going, add egg and vanilla extract. Beat for another minute.

7. With the mixer still going on a low speed, add half of the flour mixture. Fully incorporate, then add buttermilk. Fully incorporate that, then add second half of buttermilk. Mix until just combined.

8. Remove bowl from mixer, and gently fold in 2/3 of the peach chunks.

9. Spoon about 1 tbsp of batter in each muffin liner. Spoon the leftover peach chunks on top of that evenly between all twelve slots. Cover that with a generous tbsp of streusel topping. Then, fill them up with the remaining batter, and top with remaining streusel topping.

10. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

11. Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes.




I say enjoy them warm, but they also keep for a couple days in an airtight container.

According to my daughter, it is eat-it-off-your-shirt good! I think if you try these, you'll agree! 



Monday, April 27, 2020

Lime Cake With A Cream Cheese and Lime Glaze

Hey there!
Do you hate limes? This recipe is not for you. (Also, what is wrong with you?) Do you LOVE limes? Then this is DEFINITELY the dessert for you! 



Between the batter and the glaze, there is the zest of TWO WHOLE limes in this thing!! You're welcome. I brought the zzziiing! It has just the right amount of tartness, it's not overly sweet, and there are little lime zest pieces everywhere to delight you! I have been playing with this recipe for a couple months now, and can honestly say it's "my own", so I hope you enjoy it!

What you'll need:
- a standing mixer
- a 7 inch pan, or a bundt pan. This would probably work well in a loaf pan, too!

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 1/2 (195 gr) cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (200 gr) sugar
2 eggs
zest of one lime
2-3 tbsp lime juice 
10 tbsp sunflower oil (canola would work, too)
10 tbsp milk

Cream Cheese and Lime Glaze:
3 oz/85 gr room temperature cream cheese
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lime juice
zest of one lime
splash of milk



Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 F / 180 C. Prep your baking dish with non-stick spray and flour.

2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

3. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, mix together the sugar and eggs on a low-medium setting for 5 minutes.

4. With the mixer still going on low, add zest, lime juice, oil and milk. Mix until smooth.

5. Spoon in flour/baking powder mixture in about 4 increments, making sure it is fully combined each time.

6. Pour into your prepped pan, and place in the oven.

7. Bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick insterted in the middle comes out clean. (The bake time will vary, depending on what shape your pan is. I initially planned on 40 minutes, then added 5 minutes at a time. The top was getting brown though, and I was worried that it would get too brown and dry, so I put a sheet of aluminum foil over it, and it did the trick - the middle baked, while the top stayed golden.)

8. While your cake is baking, using the whisk attachment on your mixer, combine the ingredients for your glaze. (You can adjust the thickness to your liking by playing with the powdered sugar/lime juice or zest ratios - powdered sugar will thicken it but also sweeten it, so if you want it thicker but lime-y add more zest. Lime juice will thin it out.)

9. Wait for your cake to cool a bit, flip it into a cooling rack or plate. We decided to eat it pretty soon after I baked it, but you could let it come to room temperature, too.

10. Pour or spoon glaze on top to get desired effect - you could do just a little, for a rustic look, or you can completely cover the top, and even garnish with a slice of lime - like I did. :)

11. Serve, and enjoy!








Yummm! The perfect puckery lime dessert, with the comfort of being a cake!

Please let me know if you decide to try this, I would be thrilled to know how it goes!

Happy baking!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Grilled Apple Fritter Bread



Hey there! Happy “Another Day in Quarantine”! Our oven is still out of commission, so I have been doing all of my quarantine baking on our grill. Today’s attempt was apple fritter bread, and honestly, it was a huge hit! 

I loved that I had all the ingredients already on hand – and you probably do, too! It bakes in a loaf pan, which is easier for grilling, as all of it stays on indirect heat.

So, without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give to you – grilled apple fritter bread.



Ingredients:

Batter:
2/3 cup white sugar
½ cup room temperature butter
2 eggs (beaten)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 ¾ tsp baking powder
½ cup milk 

Apple Filling:
2 apples – peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 tbs white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Filling:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Crème glaze:
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tbs milk



Directions:

1.    Preheat grill to 350 F / 175 C. You will be baking this on indirect heat.
2.    Combine chopped apples, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
3.    Combine ingredients for cinnamon sugar filling. Set aside.
4.    Using your mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together white sugar and butter.
5.    Add eggs, one at a time. Mix until well combined. Add vanilla extract.
6.    In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Add to mixture in about 3-4 portions, waiting for it to become well-combined each time before adding the next portion.
7.    Add in milk, and fully incorporate.
8.    Grease and flour a loaf pan (usually 9x5 inch).
9.    Pour half the batter into the pan. Top with half the apple mixture, and half the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Pour the second half of the batter in the pan, top with remaining apples and cinnamon-sugar. Take a toothpick, and swirl the batter around a bit.
10. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. While the bread is baking, make crème glaze.
11. Once the bread is baked, wait 10-15 minutes and drizzle the glaze on top.
12. Slice and serve warm.




Yummmmmmm…

This is the perfect rainy day pick-me-up. It tastes like a country grandma is giving you a hug.

I originally found this recipe on diyways.com, but their ingredients list wasn’t complete where it was written out, only in their video.

Please let me know if you give this recipe a try! I would love to see how it turns out! (Of course, you can bake this in a conventional oven just as easily - if not more. But this is a great dessert for on the grill!)



Happy baking!