Category Archives: Cooking/Baking

Homemade Pumpkin Patch Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

IMG_2034These yummy cupcakes are a fun treat to help ring in Fall or great for a Halloween party.  They are perfect to bring to a party as well.

What you will need:

-Regular and mini cupcakes

-Green licorice or other stem like green candy

-Buttercream icing, icing bags and tips, orange and green food colorings.

-Orange colored sugar

-Green Tray or Green paper wrapped piece of cardboard to display them on

IMG_9168 IMG_9078Before I go into the recipe I have to share our adorable holiday aprons with you.  I think you will love them as you prepare for all of your holiday crafting and baking! You can purchase the Santa Aprons in matching designs for Men, Women, children and even dolls.  You can also get the aprons personalized for an extra special touch with a  name, monogram or other cute saying.  Don’t forget to get the Half Elf Aprons for all the helpers too! Elf aprons come in Womens, childrens and 18 inch doll aprons that fit most American Girl dolls or our own Summers Closet dolls. Just click on the picture to visit our shop.

IMG_2033

Recipe for Homemade vanilla cupcakes: Mix 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour and 3/4 tsps salt. Add and mix 1 cup sugar. Add and mix with electric mixer with whisk attachment, 1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tsps warm milk, 2 large eggs, 1 stick of butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. add and mix 1 1/2 tsps baking powder. Mix for 30 seconds. Pour the batter into regular and mini cupcake holders that are lined with paper liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees.

Recipe for Homemade Buttercream Icing:

Mix 3 cups confectioners sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract with an elctric mixer with a whisk attachment.  Add 1/3 cup boiling water gradually making sure the icing doesn’t get too thin. Whip until smooth.  Add and continue whipping 1 1/2 cups shortening, 3/4 stick of chilled butter cut into pieces. Whip until light and fluffy.

 

IMG_2035Bake cupcakes per directions and let cool.  Create Icing per directions. Separate a small amount in a separate bowl and dye green.  Place this icing in a pastry bag with a small regular piping tip.  Dye the remainder of the icing orange.  Place the orange icing in a  tip less pastry bag to help ice the tops of the cupcakes in large rounded mounds.  Spread this icing out with a smooth knife.  Place the remainder of the orange icing into a pastry bag with a small regular tip and ice line from the center to the edges like pumpkins.  They don’t have to be perfect since all pumpkins look a  little different and if they are too uniform they will look less realistic.  Sprinkle the tops with the orange sugar.  Cut a small stem from the licorice and poke into the center of the cupcake. You can also just make an icing stem if you don’t have the licorice.  Place all the finished cupcakes on your tray in a non uniform way to resemble a pumpkin patch.  Mix the large cupcakes with the mini ones on the tray.

IMG_2036Use your green icing to pipe lots of fun vines and leaves connecting the pumpkins.  You can use excess icing to pipe Happy Harvest or some other message on the edge of your tray for a final touch!

Old Fashioned Caramel Apples

IMG_2048Caramel apples are one of my favorite things in the Fall.  It is also one baking project that my boyfriend likes doing with me which makes it even more fun and festive and gets me in Fall mood.  I love the time of year when the air gets crisp and you can feel the weather drop just a little and I swear you can feel Fall in the air.  Now, I live in sunny South Florida so thats about all I get since I don’t get to enjoy the leaves changing and the temperature dropping enough to wear long sleeves even.  Here its the occasional day when it is only 80 something degrees out instead of 90 something that makes us feel like Fall. But I will take what I can get.  It also is sort of the door way to Christmas for me.  I worked in retail for over 8 years and even that didn’t kill my love for Christmas.  Once we put away the pumpkins it is on to Christmas for me.  I know it seems early but I like to enjoy it for as long as I can.  When December 26th comes around, I am ready to put everything away and do a thorough “Spring” cleaning.

IMG_9074IMG_9066Don’t forget to check out our cute aprons to help keep you clean and stylish during all of your holiday baking and crafting. We have adorable Santa aprons for men, women, children and even dolls. Or if you want something a little more festive you can get our half Elf Aprons for women, children and dolls that even have jingle bells at the bottoms!

IMG_2050Anyway, on to the recipe.  This year we made an old fashioned caramel that was different but still absolutely delicious.  It was much darker and a little more brittle than the regular caramel recipe I usually make.  I will list both recipes so you can choose which you would like to make.

You will need:

-Granny Smith Apples , you can use other apples but I highly recommend Granny Smiths since the tart to sweet ratio is perfect

– Toppings of your choice to dip them in.  Our favorite is crushed peanuts and chocolate crushed or drizzled on,

IMG_2051Old Fashioned Caramel Recipe

-1 cup Butter

-2 cups Brown Sugar, we made our own with white sugar and molasses which is what gave the caramel such a dark, strong, old fashioned flavor. 2 cups white sugar mixed with 1/2 cup molasses. Try less molasses for a lighter brown sugar which results in a lighter milder caramel.

-1/2 cup corn syrup

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1 tsp vanilla extract

Wash apples and put a wooden skewer or round craft stick into the top center.  You could also use chop sticks if you don’t have skewers.  We added some cute little flags to the top of the skewer with a little washi tape. Prepare a cookie sheet with wax paper.

IMG_2049Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, salt. Stir and then bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil without stirring for 4 mins. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.

 

 

IMG_2047Dip the apples thoroughly in the caramel.  Use a spoon to help get the caramel on the top. Return the caramel to low heat while you are doing this step if it starts to thicken up too much.  Dip them into your toppings about half way, spooning the topping on if necessary. Continue with all your apples laying them up right on the wax paper. Place in the refrigerator until the caramel is hard, usually overnight is best.

IMG_2052

IMG_2053Make sure you let the apples sit out of the refrigerator for a little bit to soften the caramel before you try to slice them.  I like to serve them sliced as they are so much easier and less messy to eat.

 

The regular caramel recipe is:

-1 cup butter-2 cps light brown sugar
-1/2 cp corn syrup
-1/4 tsp cream of tartar,
-1 tsp salt                                                                                                                                                   -1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat butter, sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and salt on high heat. Stir.  Cook without stirring about 4-6 minutes until the mixture is dark brown. remove from the heat, stir in vanilla. continue with recipe the same as the old fashioned recipe.

We also used the left over caramel and poured it in a small dish with sides that we lined with wax paper. then we topped it with the left over toppings and refrigerated it until it was hard. Then we cut it into pieces (it broke more than cut) and served it as caramel candies!

The Perfect Party Appetizer- Meat and Cheese Tray

IMG_1540This is a great universal appetizer that is a huge crowd pleaser.  They can be made in so many ways to cater to whatever kind of function you are having, from a intimate evening watching a movie with your loved ones, to a huge wedding or anything in between.  You can also make it simple using very tame meats, cheeses and crackers for kids or more exotic for your foodie friends.

Choose at least three different cheeses, and at least 2 meats.  For a mid range platter try slicing a stick of pepperoni and a stick of summer sausage.  Cube up some orange cheddar, some monterey jack, and some colby jack cheeses.  All of these are mild enough for the average person.  Then add some Carrs crackers and your all set.

Shop our unique aprons like this fun tuxedo apron, perfect for your next get together!

Shop our unique aprons like this fun tuxedo apron, perfect for your next get together!

For a kid approved tray try using regular lunch meat ham and turkey and using a small circle cookie cutter, cut them into cracker sized circles. Or if you don’t have a circle cookie cutter, just cut the slices into little squares. It is easiest to cut the lunch meat in stacks.  You could even layer the stacks ham, turkey, ham, turkey, etc, and cut large stacks no more than an inch square (or round) and stick a fun toothpick inside instead of separating them.  Add some mild orange cheddar, some colby jack, and a mild white cheddar.  Add some ritz crackers and your all set.  It makes a great after schools snack especially for a play date.  It can also be a much healthier, and cheaper alternative to lunchables for a kids lunchbox.  Not too mention you can help expand your childs pallet from the typical processed American cheese and sodium filled ham that is packed with preservatives.

 

IMG_1541And for the foodies, your options are endless.  Try some prosciutto, soppressata and salami.  Add a soft cheese like a nice wedge of blue cheese, or my favorite, a brie.  Add a nice aged cheddar, and another exotic cheese like a smoked mozzarella or a sheep’s milk cheese. The last two have been my favorites lately.  I didn’t use to be a fan of exotic or sharp tasting cheeses but I am learning to love some of the stronger cheeses as I try them.  The smoked mozzarella we ordered at a little restaurant near Las Olas called Rice and Dough. It has a unique Asian Italian mixed menu. Think sushi and a side of meatballs. Something for everyone.  I am still planning to go back and try their sushi that I didn’t get to try last time we visited. You can visit their Facebook page below.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rice-and-Dough/255711334487571

I have tried several smoked mozzarella’s since then and have yet to find one as good.  They tend to vary greatly.  Some are your more typical soft stringy texture of mozzarella, but the one I loved was much firmer.  Add some of the flavored Carrs crackers like the cracked pepper or sesame seed crackers, and if you want to get a little fancier try buying from the bakery (or making) a loaf of bread, spraying or wiping some olive oil all over it, sprinkling some of my favorite seasoning from the melting pot, their garlic and wine seasoning and throwing it in the oven on 350 degrees for 1bout 10 minutes or until its nice and warm and the crust is a little crispy. Tear some off into pieces and place on your platter to serve with the meats and cheeses. Pair with your favorite Cabernet wine and your all set. Don’t forget to get a unique apron to wear like our fun tuxedo apron pictured above to add a whimsical elegant flair

Add some fresh fruit and veggies and you have yourself a meal.

 

How to Make Homemade No Bake Yummy Key Lime Pie

photo_1Today I am going to show you how to make my favorite key lime pie.  A recipe that is a huge hit with all key lime pie lovers that I know.  I can’t make enough of these pies to fill the demand, so I always make at least 3 at a time.  I also do 3 at a time because it is cost effective. A large thing of heavy cream makes enough whipped cream for 3 pies plus some extra for serving.  A box of graham crackers has 3 packs so it also makes 3 pies.

This is a great recipe to make with your kids since it doesn’t require baking.  Be IMG_8432sure to check out our shop to buy matching personalized aprons for girls and their 18 inch dolls.  The little doll aprons fit most any 18 inch dolls like American Girl dolls, Teddy Bears and our own handmade Summers Closet Seasons and Custom Dolls. 

Don’t forget to watch the video below for more detailed instructions on how to make the key lime pie.

Ingredients:

1 graham cracker pie crust- click for recipe

1 batch homemade whipped cream-click for recipe

1/2 cup key lime juice-click for recipe

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Prepare pie crust according to recipe above.  Prepare whipped cream according to recipe above.  Prepare fresh key lime juice according to recipe above or use regular bottled key lime juice.

Mix whipped cream, key lime juice, and sweetened condensed milk together in an electric mixer using the whisk attachment on medium speed, scrape bowl, and continue to mix on high until ingredients are mixed.  Do not over mix, as this could ruin the whipped cream.

Pour filling into prepared pie crust, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate overnight or at least several hours until firm.

You can top with extra whipped cream when your ready to serve.  It also freezes well, so make sure to make an extra to freeze so you have any easy dessert ready for guests or a special dinner.

How to Make Yummy Whipped Cream From Scratch

photo_2Today I will show you how to make a yummy whipped cream from scratch. It is so much tastier and healthier than store bought frozen whipped cream. It is fairly simple to make and is a great topping for pies, cakes, cupcakes, tarts, ice cream and more. How about making a flavored version to make a coffee house style coffee or latte? If your not a coffee drinker like me how about an iced chai topped with a little of this yummy whipped cream? You can also use it as a substitute for cool whip in jello recipes. The possibilities are endless. Don’t forget to watch the video below for more detailed instructions.

Also, don’t forget to enter your email to the right to follow our blog and make sure you don’t miss our next post on how to make the best key lime pie that you can use this yummy whipped cream in. Be sure to check out our past posts on juicing and canning key lime juice http://www.summerscloset.com/blog/2013/07/30/juicing-and-canning-citrus-juice-key-lime-juice/
and our post on making a homemade graham cracker crust
http://www.summerscloset.com/blog/2013/08/05/how-to-make-an-easy-no-bake-homemade-graham-cracker-pie-crust/
for everything you need to make the key lime pie.

IMG_8617

Shop our Personalized Matching Aprons for the Whole Family

Be sure to check out our shop for adorable personalized aprons for the whole family. Aprons for Dad. Aprons for Mom. Aprons for girls and boys. Even matching aprons for kids and dolls!

Ingredients:

1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1 tsp vanilla extract (try substituting other flavored extracts for a flavored whipped cream for coffee or other recipes)

1 Tbsp confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

Mix all the ingredients in an electric mixer using a whisk attachment until peaks form. Be careful not to over mix as this will turn the cream into butter and you can’t do anything to get it back to whipped cream.

How to Make an Easy No Bake Homemade Graham Cracker Pie Crust

In the next three posts I will show you how to make a DELICIOUS key lime pie. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to read my post on

Today’s post will be how to make the graham cracker pie crust. This yummy easy, no bake recipe, can also be used for many other pies such as chocolate, cream, cheesecake, and more. It is simple and only takes a few ingredients. Watch our video below for more details.

IMG_8457

Visit our shop for personalized matching aprons for kids, adults and even dolls!

Visit our shop to purchase a cute personalized matching apron for you and your child like the ones below!

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Ingredients:

1 package of graham crackers (1 box contains 3 packages)

6 TBS Butter

1 TBS sugar

Spray pie dish with non stick cooking spray. I use the olive oil spray for a healthier alternative, or you can also butter the dish.

Crush the graham crackers.  I crush them by hand while they are still in the package, just be careful not to pop the package open and have flying graham cracker crumbs!  You can also use a food processor to get them crushed very fine. I personally don’t mind a little crunch from the bigger pieces to my pie.

Melt the butter in the microwave, and add to the graham crackers. Add the sugar. Mix well, I use my electric kitchen aid mixer.

Pour the pie crust mixture into the prepared pie pan.  Press the mixture firmly but gently into the sides and bottom of the pan. Make sure to cover all holes with mixture. Freeze for at least 10 minutes while you prepare your filling.  You can also heat for 5 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven, if you prefer.  Don’t forget to follow our blog by entering your email at the right, so you won’t miss our later posts on how to make the yummiest key lime pie and whipped cream from scratch.

Juicing and Canning Citrus Juice- Key Lime Juice

 

IMG_1767Today’s project is to show you how to juice and can key lime juice. This works the same way for most any citrus, not just key limes.

I have a wonderful key lime tree in my back yard, and it produces a ton of fruit at least twice a year.  I suggest planting a lime tree, or lemon if you don’t have one and you live in the south. It is one of the few things that we get to grow down here that will flourish.  I will have another blog post soon on all the things to use your lime juice for, but for now, I will just show you how to juice and can it to preserve it to use all year long.

IMG_1752
Be sure to watch the video above for more instructions.

Step 1: Wash the limes thoroughly.

Step 2: Cut the limes in half

Step 3: Squeeze juice from the key limes

Step 4: Strain Juice, or filter

1. Ways to filter: Refrigerate for 24-48 hours, then carefully without mixing it pour off clear liquid and dispose of sediment. 2. Line your colander or sieve with several layers of cheesecloth or layers of coffee filters, keep in mind this may take a few hours. 3. Another even longer option is to use a jelly bag, pour hot juice into the jelly bag and let it drip, do not squeeze. I’m not patient enough for this process.

IMG_1753Step 5: Boil water in canner

Step 6: Sterilize the jars, lids and rims in boiling water.

Step 7: Heat Lime juice to a boil

Step 8: Place sterilized jar on a clean towel, fill with lime juice 3/4″ from the top using a scoop and large mouth funnel.

IMG_1755Step 9:  Wipe edges of jar with a clean paper towel.

Step 10: Lift lid from boiling water, place evenly on top of jar, lift rim, carefully screw it on to the jar.

Step 11: Place jars in boiling water in the canner with rack up, make sure they are sitting in at least 1 inch of water while you finish filling the rest of the jars.

Step 12: Lower the canning rack, submerging all the jars into the boiling water for 5 minute (8-10 for higher altitudes)

Step 13: Remove jars from canner, place on a clean towel several inches from each other.

1 colander full of key limes, filled about 7 half pint jars.