i am baker http://iambaker.net Confections & Creations Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:03:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 my husband went away and I have never been happier http://iambaker.net/my-husband-went-away-and-i-have-never-been-happier/ http://iambaker.net/my-husband-went-away-and-i-have-never-been-happier/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:52:39 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45294 Chad Bow Hunting
If you know me at all, that title probably doesn’t make much sense does it? Let me explain. I married an outdoorsy guy. Chad likes to hunt most things and fish for everything, any time of year that it’s legal. He is just one of those guys that gets his soul refreshed among God’s nature... 

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Chad Bow Hunting

If you know me at all, that title probably doesn’t make much sense does it?

Let me explain.

I married an outdoorsy guy. Chad likes to hunt most things and fish for everything, any time of year that it’s legal. He is just one of those guys that gets his soul refreshed among God’s nature and beauty. Sitting in a deer stand in silence and completely still at the break of dawn, that’s something he enjoys.  Me?  Not so much.

I knew this when I met him. I knew this when I married him. I have learned the lesson over and over again with each pregnancy, each new baby, each rambunctious toddler that I was inevitably left alone with just when it was most inconvenient.

Chad (on the left) with his brother, Ryan

While I accept his passions and love to reap the benefits of it (having a buffalo fill your freezer for 2 years is a wondrous thing) I can’t say I like it. Dread it more like. Hunting season and fishing season always seem to come too quickly and I find myself getting more bitter every year. It just doesn’t seem fair anymore! Here I am at home with five kids, sacrificing my job and my time to meet the needs of my family, alone. He is out doing exactly what he loves, with not a care in the world.

Yes, I signed up for a husband who puts time and great energy into his passions. No, I didn’t sign up for parenting alone for weeks at a time.

I joke with friends and family and give him a hard time. I start giving him dirty looks when he talks about mandatory trips to Cabella’s and Gander Mountain. I tune out when he talks about the details of his excursions.

I fully realize how I sound like a really terrible wife right now. Here is my poor husband, doing what he always does, and I am giving him heck for it.

But we are not the same young independent couple as when we first married. We have much bigger responsibilities now. In addition to the kids there is a home, a property, chickens and guineas’, a dog,  my career. Everything suffers when he goes away, sometimes life is lost.  And frankly, I just don’t handle it well.

I was recently reunited with a blast from the past. It was a lazy Saturday as I welcomed an old high school friend and her daughter into our home with open arms.  I had not seen her in about 20 years, but it was like not even a day had passed.  My heart was truly delighted seeing her beautiful smile again.

After a few hours of us talking and catching up, we had really gotten to a comfortable place and I found myself completely opening up. Telling her things I saved for the closest of friends. I told her about my husband’s trip and that it is HARD when he leaves. Everything about it is just hard.

We were all standing there, in our kitchen and she said, “You know, maybe it would be easier when he went away if he didn’t do so much for you.”

We laughed. She went on her way. But that comment… it stuck around.  Lingered in my brain and started to eat away me.

For days, I was questioning everything. What did she mean? That I am lazy? That I depend on him too much? Was she right? Was it only hard because I was too dependent on his help? Did she look at me and judge me for being overweight and assume I sat around all day eating the cakes and cookies I blog about? Why did she think that I was not pulling my share of the weight around here? Did she have ANY idea what I had been through?

The more time passed the more angry I got. Really, really angry. How dare she? She didn’t know me, know my husband, know our relationship. How dare she assume that my husband carried the weight of our relationship. I decided to email her, or to confront her, or maybe even to gently persuade her that what she perceived our situation to be was actually far from the truth.

But I didn’t. I said nothing to her. After a long mental battle, I realized something that I can honestly say I have never realized before.

There was no point in my fighting this battle.

Her opinion, while totally valid and one she was free to have and keep, should have no bearing on the reality of my life.

If she was wrong, she would see it in my actions, not in my words.

My husband packed up and left, and I cried. I texted him that I missed him, that I needed him, and he was my partner. While that may seem like normal conversation between husband and wife, it is not for me. I rarely, if ever, tell people I need them. (not to say I don’t actually need people, just that I am too stubborn or embarrassed or feel too guilty to impose my needs on people, much less tell them. I can honestly say that nothing feels worse to me than feeling indebted to others. It’s a level of discomfort I have a hard time explaining.) He texted back that I would be fine, that he loved me and that I was stronger than I thought.

He was right.

A mighty work took place in me while he was gone. Something clicked somewhere and every single day started with Intention. I decided that even if my circumstances were hard, that was no excuse for me not living life to the fullest and giving my family my best. Every single day, every single moment, I was all-in. I gave my all at home with the kids, giving them my full attention and respect. I didn’t yell (much) and I tried to be as calm as possible when faced with disagreements. I did the chores around the house with a happy heart, feeling grateful that I was able to get them done and feel so accomplished afterwards. I made lists and stuck to them, and at the same time decreased my self-imposed work load in favor or putting out better quality work. I set goals, made plans, and finally figured out just what I want to do with my life and career. And while some of that I will keep private (as part of me is just a natural big dreamer who loves the dream itself and finds joy in thinking about it, not necessarily seeing it come to fruition) one part I can reveal.

I want my blog to be a true representation of my home and life. I love iambaker. I love baking and decorating and creating new things, so that will not change. But I also love our home, our property, our chickens and garden.  I want to share with you that fact that my family and I drink raw milk and that we make homemade ketchup and syrup and jelly and can tomatoes and pickle peppers and that I brush my teeth with baking soda and don’t ever use bubble bath because I try to not put any chemicals on or in my kids and that most things I buy are organic.  And still I love Oreo’s and box cake mix.

That I take thousands of pictures of the sunrise and chickens and birds. I don’t understand fashion and am totally comfortable buying clothes at Target. I don’t like to travel and have no desire to leave my family nor vacation without them. That I am simple.

Most of all I love Jesus.  And I love that He gave me this perfect-for-me husband who I never knew was so perfect for me.  (He has been a gardening and natural living guy all along, while I came along kicking and screaming.) I love that while my husband was away chasing an elusive Elk and walking the scenic and breathtaking mountains of Idaho, I was coming into my own as a wife, mother , homemaker and child of God.

The kids with cousin Inga

I got just as much, if not more, from completing the kids’ laundry in an organized fashion as I did from finding out my book was a best seller. I found out that when all is right with me, in my head and heart, then I can happily and successfully run this home.  Not in spite of my husband, but for him.

When my husband did come home, he came home to a house cleaner than it had been in ages.  To happy children who had a happy and relaxed and attentive mom.  To a better listener.  To a schedule and a routine that made our home a place we all wanted to be.  To a wife that didn’t resent him being gone, but that loved him for who he is.

I can honestly tell you, I have never felt more domesticated in my life.  And I am loving it.  The idea of getting a cow and living off of the grid is really, really appealing to me.  Now remember, I am a big dreamer.  In those dreams, I forget how much I love watching Cedar Cove and playing Spider Solitaire and blogging and baking crazy desserts with snickers stuffed into every crevice.

I love my home and children and nature loving husband. I love spending time with them. I love my life and am so thankful and blessed to be living it. And since I didn’t know how long this feeling would last (although I can’t help but hope for forever) I just wanted to write it down so that I could look back and know that somewhere along the way I knew.

I knew that I am exactly where I was meant to be.

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great news from craftsy! http://iambaker.net/great-news-from-craftsy/ http://iambaker.net/great-news-from-craftsy/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 20:01:13 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45286 Candle Surprise-Inside Cake!
Every now and then I have to pinch myself.  Getting to work with an amazing organization like Craftsy has been such a blessing!  I have learned quite a bit and met some amazing folks.  Best of all?  Taking advantage of everything the Craftsy has to offer. Chances are if you are here, on my blog,... 

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Candle Surprise-Inside Cake!

Every now and then I have to pinch myself.  Getting to work with an amazing organization like Craftsy has been such a blessing!  I have learned quite a bit and met some amazing folks.  Best of all?  Taking advantage of everything the Craftsy has to offer.

Chances are if you are here, on my blog, you are a fan of cakes and cake decorating.  This is what first drew me to Craftsy!  Everything I have ever wanted to know is out there.  From fondant to amazing birthday cakes to intricate piping work to the business behind  running a cake business or bakery!

What I am able to offer friends and readers is a bit more specific, as I get to tell you about my class too!  Everything you have ever wanted to know about Surprise-Inside Cakes.  There are even some really basic frosting techniques as well!

But, really.  I can’t stop there.

There is SO MUCH MORE!

And here is the best part… today it is 50% off!  EVERY SINGLE Cake decorating class is on sale.  If you have ever wanted to learn more about cake, about this hobby and passion of yours, now is the time.

Check out this awesomely creative class about flavors and fillings.

Create tantalizingly touchable cakes with cake designer extraordinaire Marina Sousa in this hands-on exploration of designer fondant textures!

Couture cake artist Maggie Austin shows you how to create an elegant ombre cake with her signature – and secret! – frill technique.  MAGGIE AUSTON!  She is an icon… and huge name in the cake industry!  She started more trends than I can count!

I have a secret to share.

Sometimes I need a little inspiration.  I need help motivating myself and getting the creative juices flowing.  Craftys should really add INSPIRATION to their list of credentials, because seeing the detail and talent and ideas that the incredible instructors at Craftsy share… it gets me so excited to bake and create!

I hope you will join me and so many others as we take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that Craftsy offers.  You never know, I just may be sitting next to you in class!

Click HERE to explore.  But remember, this amazing deal only runs through Monday, Sept. 22nd.  Act fast!

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pumpkin rose cookies http://iambaker.net/pumpkin-rose-cookies/ http://iambaker.net/pumpkin-rose-cookies/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:32:57 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45273 Pumpkin Rose Sandwich Cookies with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting!
Making things into roses is kinda my thing.  I have an Original Rose Cake, Neapolitan Rose Cookies and Red Velvet Rose Cookies.  I recently decided to re-vamp my Pumpkin & Brown Butter Sandwich Cookie’s and make them into rose cookies! Which is kinda weird, I admit.  I mean, the correlation between roses and pumpkins is... 

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Pumpkin Rose Sandwich Cookies with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting!

Making things into roses is kinda my thing.  I have an Original Rose Cake, Neapolitan Rose Cookies and Red Velvet Rose Cookies.  I recently decided to re-vamp my Pumpkin & Brown Butter Sandwich Cookie’s and make them into rose cookies!

Which is kinda weird, I admit.  I mean, the correlation between roses and pumpkins is not exactly obvious.

Except here at iambaker! Then it’s like, da.

I simply used my Homemade Spice Cake mix and added a can of store bought pumpkin puree.

The cookies are basically the same as the Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Brown Butter Buttercream, only I made then a tad fancier.

I’m so fancy.  You already know.

Just kidding.  That’s a song that I heard once by accident.  Think it was made for the young kids to listen to.

I am more of a worship music kinda gal.  And 80′s Hairbands, monster ballads and stuff.  Yup, I am weird.

Ok, back to these beauties.

Spice Cake Mix + 15 ounce can Pumpkin Puree + Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting =

AWESOME

To get the rose effect I placed (1/2 at a time) of the pumpkin cookie batter (it is thick) into a pastry bag with a Ateco 846 closed star tip. I then piped out rosettes onto a parchment lined baking sheet. These cookies do not spread, so whatever design you pipe out is what it will look like when done baking.

Allow to cool and pipe out a dollop of frosting onto one cookie, place another cookie on top, then take a bite!  Er, I mean, set aside and make another. Although I did take a lotta bites. They are kinda irresistible.

You can pair these with that fabulous Caramel Cream Cheese or feel free to use any fabulous cream cheese frosting recipe.  (Or the brown butter buttercream I have linked to above!)

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happy birthday! {naked cake} http://iambaker.net/happy-birthday-naked-cake/ http://iambaker.net/happy-birthday-naked-cake/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:11:14 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45261 A Naked Cake in honor of all the September Birthdays!
Did you know that September 16th is the most popular birthday??  In honor of everyone who is lucky enough to celebrate this awesome day as well as all the September birthdays, I am sharing a fun “naked” cake! Calm down now, this is a G rated post.  A naked cake simply refers to the fact... 

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A Naked Cake in honor of all the September Birthdays!

Did you know that September 16th is the most popular birthday??  In honor of everyone who is lucky enough to celebrate this awesome day as well as all the September birthdays, I am sharing a fun “naked” cake!

Calm down now, this is a G rated post.  A naked cake simply refers to the fact that the sides of the cake are left bare, or free from frosting.  Or, naked!

I am absolutely positively thrilled with how these turned out and I have to tell you, it is thanks to a good recipe!

Achieving the “perfect” colors in icing is often complicated and difficult to replicate.  With the help of McCormick, the recipe is specific down to the very last drop.  If you decide to try this cake, you are destined to get the exact same results that I did!

Another reason to celebrate!  What do you think of the fun design?  Two cakes, one with pink, orange and yellow and the other with green, blue and purple.  A Rainbow!

Rainbows are my happy place. #obsessed

pink, orange & yellow naked cake recipe

Ingredients

  • ngredients
  • 1 package (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Lemon Extract
  • McCormick® Assorted Food Colors & Egg Dye
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Orange Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Imitation Coconut Extract
  • 2 teaspoons pineapple juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cake mix as directed on package. Pour batter evenly (about 1 1/4 cups each) into 3 (9-inch) round cake pans sprayed with no stick cooking spray.
  2. Bake 25 to 29 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean.
  3. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
  5. For the Frostings, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy.
  6. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently.
  7. Add water; beat until light and fluffy.
  8. Divide frosting evenly among 3 bowls.
  9. Tint and flavor each bowl of frosting. F
  10. or Pink Lemonade Frosting, stir in lemon extract and 7 drops red food color.
  11. For Burnt Orange Frosting, stir in orange extract, 36 drops red food color and 30 drops yellow food color.
  12. For Piña Colada Frosting, stir in coconut extract, pineapple juice and 30 drops yellow food color.
  13. Place a cake layer on serving platter and spread with Pink Lemonade Frosting.
  14. Top with second cake layer and spread with Burnt Orange Frosting.
  15. Top with remaining cake layer and spread with Piña Colada Frosting. Do not frost sides.
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Recipe shared from McCormick with permission.

If you stop by McCormick there is a complete chart with all the frosting as well as a very detailed recipe you can download for both cakes!  I can’t help but be impressed with the level of detail they have provided.  It really takes all the stress out of baking and leave you with all the FUN!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all the September Birthdays!!

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homemade spice cake mix http://iambaker.net/homemade-spice-cake-mix/ http://iambaker.net/homemade-spice-cake-mix/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:17:17 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45239 Homemade Spice Cake Mix
The Homemade Yellow Cake Mix, White Cake Mix and Homemade Brownie Mix on my site are so popular, I deciding that adding to the selection needed to be at the top of my list of things to do.  (Don’t worry, chocolate is next.  I am still experimenting! You will read why below.) I have quite a... 

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Homemade Spice Cake Mix

The Homemade Yellow Cake Mix, White Cake Mix and Homemade Brownie Mix on my site are so popular, I deciding that adding to the selection needed to be at the top of my list of things to do.  (Don’t worry, chocolate is next.  I am still experimenting! You will read why below.)

I have quite a few recipes that utilize spice cake mix, so instead of buying boxes I make up my own mix! It is easy peasy. And best part?  Wholesome and delicious!

As with all my homemade “box mix” cake mixes, you have some dry ingredients in an airtight container and then simply add the wet ingredients when you are ready to bake. The very same process as if you were to use a box of mix you purchased at the store.

One of the main differences is of course taste (so delicious) but also quality of ingredients. You have complete control over what you are eating and what you are putting in your body.

homemade spice cake mix

Ingredients

    Dry Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice*
  • Wet Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Instructions

  1. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and sift to combine. If there are any lumps in your sugar be sure to get them out now. Pour all dry ingredients into a mason jar or air-tight storage container.
  2. *If you do not have pumpkin spice you can use: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp all spice and 1/4 tsp ground cloves.
  3. When ready to bake:
  4. In a medium bowl add in eggs, milk and vanilla and beat together with fork. Set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer cream butter until light and fluffy.
  6. With the mixer on low, start by alternating the dry mixture and the egg mixture.
  7. Pour 1/3 of the dry mixture into the creamed butter, then add 1/2 of the egg mixture. Continue alternating until all ingredients used. Turn off mixer, remove bowl and continue stirring by hand if any ingredients are not fully incorporated.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 18 minutes in 8-inch round pans. Increase time to about 30 minutes for 9x13 pan and keep a close eye on it.
  9. This recipe makes 14-16 cupcakes and they should bake for about 15 minutes.
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Quick Note: You can change the spice level to your tastes.  I prefer a subtle spice cake, one that does not over power a cream cheese frosting.  If you prefer a bold and zany spice cake, then feel free to play around with the amounts of spies added.

Not just any recipe can be turned into a homemade cake mix. The recipe really has to be conducive to the Single Stage or All-Ingredient method of baking.  If you need to harness the lightness and airiness of the Creaming Method (creaming butter and sugar together first) then the recipe will not work as well for a homemade box mix.

 

I recently used the Homemade Spice Cake Mix to make cupcakes with a Caramel Cream Cheese frosting.  They were phenomenal!  I can’t wait to make my Velvet Spice Cake Surprise-Inside Cake with it next!

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how to dominate after school snacks http://iambaker.net/how-to-dominate-after-school-snacks/ http://iambaker.net/how-to-dominate-after-school-snacks/#comments Sun, 14 Sep 2014 13:47:58 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45221 How to Dominate After School Snacks
Did you know that I have been a homeschooling mom for the last 4 years? It was great! Well, kinda great.  I love everything about homeschooling and still stand strong in my support of it. But I got overwhelmed. And stressed. And sometimes angry. And impatient with my kids and found teaching three different grades... 

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How to Dominate After School Snacks

Did you know that I have been a homeschooling mom for the last 4 years? It was great!

Well, kinda great.  I love everything about homeschooling and still stand strong in my support of it.

But I got overwhelmed. And stressed. And sometimes angry. And impatient with my kids and found teaching three different grades at once to be more than I could handle.  And I realized… I may not be doing the best thing for my kids by homeschooling.

We just happen to live near a very small private school (57 kids total in K-12).  I enrolled them and now have not one, not two, but three first time students!  I joined the ranks of so many others and celebrated this momentous occasion with a “first day of school” picture.

But I cried.  I cried a lot.

They did not.  I still want them home with me in the worst way, but they are absolutely thriving in their school and truly love it.  They are excited every day to go and excited every day when I pick them up.

On top of everything that comes with sending your babies off to school for the first time (and the guilt of feeling like I failed at homeschooling), what to feed the kids after school turned into an issue. They seemed to be starving the second they walked in the door, but I was woefully unprepared and was always scrambling to find something light enough to not fill them up but that was healthy enough to re-charge their little bodies.

I spend enough time worrying about actual meals that snacks were getting seriously neglected. I hopped online and researched ‘after school snacks’.  (Don’t laugh!)

Here is what I found:

1. BE CONSISTENT. The kids should know what their options are and where to find them.  Keeping them in the same place is a great way to avoid the “what can I have to eat” discussion every single day.  As you can see above, I set up a Snack Station.  Fresh fruit compliments the granola, bars, cookies and crackers that the kids have to choose from.

2. OFFER A VARIETY OF CHOICES.  When they feel empowered to choose what they having they are more likely to not complain if it is healthy, good for them, or just not as sweet as they would like.

Teaching them to reach for protein based snacks as a child will help to steer them clear of heavy sugar-laden snacks as an adult.  I also talk to my kids about what they are eating.  When they eat veggies fresh from the garden I ask them to pay attention to how their body feels after.  Alternatively, when I have made a ridiculously sugary cake and they get a small piece, they are to observe how that makes them feel as well.  It is awesome to see how they can distinguish between good energy and the drastic decent of a sugar high, leaving them with headaches, stomach aches and sometimes hunger!

I want my kids to make good choices on their own and based on their own experiences.

3. TIMING IS EVERYTHING.  They are allowed a snack when they get home, but not after 4:00.

We get home from school at 3:15 and eat dinner around 6:00, so a small snack is just fine for their growing bodies.  If they eat after 4:00 is starts to affect dinner time (which is also always family time) so they are encouraged to have something right away.

Those cookies are the Oat Bran Cookies from CVS/pharmacy, but with my job there is often baked goods in the house.  I will share homemade cookies and treats when it is appropriate, but being a baker heavily relying on sugar, my cookies are not always the best option.

The kids get the option of fresh fruit, cookies and bars, and fresh cut veggies in the fridge.  I have found that if they are cut up and presented in a pretty way the kids are more likely to eat them.  Also, we still have an abundance of veggies in the garden, so they are welcome to snack on anything they find. (carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, peas)

To get ready for the week I head to CVS/pharmacy and get everything I can in their Gold Emblem “Abound” snack line.  The products are free from artificial preservatives and flavors, low in sodium (except for some nuts),  and really delicious.

Our new favorite is the Lime & Black Pepper Baked Rice Thins.  There is so  much flavor and texture that you really feel full after just a few bites!

In all honesty, I have started using them as MY go-to snack in the afternoon because they make me feel full and satisfied and I don’t have the urge to reach for sugar!  Which is a miracle!! (I am highly addicted to sugar)  So yeah, I may have bought 10 packages.

Myself and the big kids are not the only ones who enjoy a snack… the little ones do to!  It is great having them all in one spot so I can grab some for a long car ride or if I need to hop on the phone and quiet a little one or even if they are just hungry!

It has been a blessing to be able to work with CVS/pharmacy and share their Gold Emblem Abound products.  I feel like the timing was just perfect! It has been difficult transitioning into having kids in school and working from home and still taking cake of the little kids and feeling “mom-guilt” over the less-then-healthy snack options I was reaching for.

I try to only work with brands and companies that are a good fit for my family, and CVS/pharmacy has exceeded my expectations.  So while I was compensated to work with them, I can honestly tell you that I am thrilled with their product and will be using it on a regular basis!

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candy corn scotcharoo bars http://iambaker.net/candy-corn-scotcharoo-bars/ http://iambaker.net/candy-corn-scotcharoo-bars/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:28:43 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45199 Candy Corn Scootcheroo's!
Check out my Candy Corn Peanut Butter Scootcheroo Bars!  This totally Original recipe is sure to become a family favorite! Can we talk about candy corn for a second?  And in the sake of transparency, I am talking about it from the perspective of being absolutely obsessed with it.  Like, addicted to the stuff. I... 

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Candy Corn Scootcheroo's!

Check out my Candy Corn Peanut Butter Scootcheroo Bars!  This totally Original recipe is sure to become a family favorite!

Can we talk about candy corn for a second?  And in the sake of transparency, I am talking about it from the perspective of being absolutely obsessed with it.  Like, addicted to the stuff.

I really can’t keep it in my home because I will just eat it.  All. Eat it all.  All of it.  At once.  I have no control.

So I just don’t buy it.

Except when I do.

 

This dessert is definitely an ode to candy corn.  There are three bags in this one pan.

Developing this project was a labor of love/hate.  Love because I love candy corn. #da Hate because I had to buy so many bags of the stuff and sample so many varieties and re-test the recipe so many times that I must have eaten the entire Minnesota supply.

All for the sake of finding you the perfect Candy Corn Scootcheroo.

#ilovemyjob

#ihatemyjob

#justkidding

#ionlyloveit

 

Most of the trial and error went into finding the perfect consistency of candy corn mixture.

An original recipe of scootcheroo’s (like my Snickers Special K Bars, to DIE for) calls for 1 cup of corn syrup and 1 cup of white sugar.  When I was looking at the ingredients of candy corn the main ingredient is corn syrup.  So a bell went off in my brain, and I thought, “Why don’t I just substitute candy corn for the sugar and corn syrup?”

So I did.

But here was the problem:  If it was too think it was impossible to spread over the cereal.  If it was too thin it was candy corn cereal soup.

I think the final, and best, consistency is similar to whole milk.  Runny, but sturdy.

candy corn scotcharoo’s

Ingredients

  • 3 11-ounce bags of candy corn
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 7 cups Special K cereal

Instructions

  1. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan by spraying (or coating with butter or goop) with bakers spray on sides. Place a piece of parchment paper snuggly in the bottom of the pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, pour in two bags of candy corn and 1/4 cup water. This is approximately 4 cups of candy corn.
  3. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. You will want the candy corn to melt completely.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add peanut butter to candy corn reduction and stir together until full combined.
  6. Put all cereal in a large bowl and pour the candy corn mixture over the cereal. Stir to coat all the cereal.
  7. Pour cereal into prepared pan and press it flat. You can do this with your hands (coat them with bakers spray as often as needed) or with a spatula.
  8. Immediately after you get the cereal flattened, pour candy over the top and level it out. Gently press candy corn into cereal mixture.
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Final consensus?  Hubby thought there was too much peanut butter.  Parker thought they were best without candy corn on top.  Colton added more candy corn to the top of his.

Me?  I love the final product just as it is.  But be warned, they are addicting, so I advise giving away as many as possible!

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Better Homes & Gardens Exclusive Event {and chocolate meringue pie of course} http://iambaker.net/better-homes-gardens-exclusive-event/ http://iambaker.net/better-homes-gardens-exclusive-event/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:10:05 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45155 Chocolate Meringue Pie
I cannot tell a lie, sometimes it is pretty darn cool to be a food blogger. I was recently told about a ridiculously cool experience that Better Homes and Gardens has created for some special friends. The fabulous folks over at BHG have decided, for the first time ever, to show some special guests what happens every day... 

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Chocolate Meringue Pie

I cannot tell a lie, sometimes it is pretty darn cool to be a food blogger. I was recently told about a ridiculously cool experience that Better Homes and Gardens has created for some special friends.

The fabulous folks over at BHG have decided, for the first time ever, to show some special guests what happens every day in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen. This is where all of their recipes are tested and approved by their editors and culinary professionals.

The Test Kitchen is not open to the public, so this is truly an exclusive and behind-the-scenes tour.

I will also get to see where the magic is created in their photo studios as well as visit their beautiful Test Garden.

Did you read that? I think I just fainted. I have a serious obsession with behind-the-scenes-everything… and to get to see the kitchens, the photography studios, the gardens? This just got real.

As if the tours weren’t enough, the editors and contributing editors are going to be serving special meals and snacks for the whole trip.

Scott Peacock, who just happens to be an award-winning chef and cookbook author will be there. He will be showing me some of his famous dishes as well as teaching me how to do it!  

I am crossing my fingers that this phenomenal Chocolate Meringue Pie will be on the menu.

Gesine Bullock-Prado is a master baker and cookbook author who finds joy in demystifying baking challenges for the home cook. She will be teach just how simple it is to create spectacular centerpiece desserts for the holidays or any special occasion.

The glamorous and witty Better Homes and Gardens food editors will share a spectacular holiday open house menu featuring all-new recipes. Their talented designers will be on hand to show simple and inexpensive ways to make my table sparkle this holiday season.

To top it all off, there is a gift bag valued at over $200 and I will be getting a very special printed cookbook featuring every recipe debuted during the event.

Doesn’t that sound AMAZING?  I feel so honored to be a part of it.

But you guys… you know I would not be writing a blog post just bragging on all the fun things I get to do.  So why am I sharing at all?  

Because YOU can be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime exclusive event.

This is a unique experience that BHG has very limited availability for.  But, if you act fast, we can sip wine and feast on the best food of the season all while touring stunning gardens and being given tips and tricks on how we can recreate the same recipes and styles!

You can get all the details and important information right here: 

BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS COOKING EXPERIENCE.  The event starts on Oct. 10th in the evening and continues on to October 11th.

If you have any questions, do let me know.  I can’t wait to see you there!

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daddy’s girl http://iambaker.net/daddys-girl/ http://iambaker.net/daddys-girl/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 18:15:29 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45191 Olivia and Daddy
They didn’t know I was there. Watching them.  Feeling my heart ache as she looked up at her daddy with such love and delight in her eyes. Giggling to myself as she collapsed in a fit of belly laughs after the tickle monster came to visit. Feeling blessed and thankful after seeing her close her... 

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Olivia and Daddy

They didn’t know I was there.

Watching them.  Feeling my heart ache as she looked up at her daddy with such love and delight in her eyes.

Giggling to myself as she collapsed in a fit of belly laughs after the tickle monster came to visit.

Feeling blessed and thankful after seeing her close her eyes and lean into daddy’s kisses.

There is just something about a content child, a happy and loved child, that makes everything right in the world.

 

 

“The soul is healed by being with children.”

-English Proverb

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amazing zucchini crisp {faux apple crisp} http://iambaker.net/amazing-zucchini-crisp-apple-crisp/ http://iambaker.net/amazing-zucchini-crisp-apple-crisp/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 15:08:46 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45176 The BEST Zucchini Cobbler! (tastes exactly like Apple Cobbler!)
After posting a picture of this dessert on Instagram, my friend Kate commented, “I’m conflicted….I want you to bake me something awesome but I am skeered you’ll pack it with your zucchini!! #whoamikidding #eatallthethings”. My advice to Kate? Be afraid. Be very afraid. This, my sweet friends, is Zucchini Crisp. It tastes exactly, and I... 

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The BEST Zucchini Cobbler! (tastes exactly like Apple Cobbler!)

After posting a picture of this dessert on Instagram, my friend Kate commented, “I’m conflicted….I want you to bake me something awesome but I am skeered you’ll pack it with your zucchini!! #whoamikidding #eatallthethings”.

My advice to Kate? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

This, my sweet friends, is Zucchini Crisp. It tastes exactly, and I do mean exactly, like Apple Crisp.

Only better. Cause it’s zucchini and we all know I am a wee bit obsessed with it.

My husband came home one day and was like, “So I was chatting with the guys at work and one of them mentioned having a really delicious zucchini crisp.”

Um, what’s this you say?  You can your buddies sit around talking about yummy baked goods?

Well, no.  Hubby sometimes brings our extra zucchini to work and someone was thankful and offered up recipe ideas. So, uh, basically, yeah.  The boys do talk baking at the office.

Which makes me gloriously happy.  I now call him Mr. iambaker.

Anywho, after all that, I was like, “Where is the recipe?”

“He doesnt have a recipe.  He just ate a zucchini crisp he liked.”

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

After doing some hunting online I was able to find a recipe, but I found it to be pretty vague. So through trial and error I have now found the best possible recipe for Zucchini  Crisp.

It’s fool proof I tell you!

amazing zucchini crisp {faux apple crisp}

Ingredients

    Zucchini Filling
  • 8 cups peeled, chopped zucchini
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Crust
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

    Zucchini Filling
  1. Choose a LARGE zucchini only (preferably 12-24 inches long and very thick). Peel zucchini and using a mandolin, slice the zucchini into thin slices*. Make sure all seeds are removed.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat add zucchini, lemon juice, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook for about 20 minutes or until zucchini is very tender.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Crust
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 10 x 15 inch baking dish.
  6. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, baking powder and cinnamon.
  7. Crumble chilled butter into flour mixture with hands (you can also use a pastry cutter) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs or pea sized butter bits.
  8. Stir 1/2 cup of flour mixture into cooled zucchini mixture.
  9. Press half of remaining butter mixture into bottom of prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Spread zucchini mixture over top of crust and sprinkle remaining butter mixture over zucchini.
  11. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  12. *The easiest way to remove the seeds is to cut the zucchini in half length wise then scoop out the seeds with a spoon. After all the seeds are removed, the zucchini should look like a large piece of celery.
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Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.

Tips & Tricks:

You can use a smaller pan, like a 9 x 13, but it may overflow. If you need to use a smaller pan I would consider decreasing the recipe size by 1/4.

Using smaller zucchini is not recommended. A smaller zucchini is more flavorful and will have a aftertaste, and may even be slightly bitter. Also, if you use a smaller zucchini you will not need to de-seed it. (But do still peel it.)

I would advise using the mandolin for slicing the zucchini.  If you do not have one and need to cut by hand, make sure to take the time and get really uniform slices.

Before cutting in the butter I dice it into small pieces. I like how Dorothy from Crazy for Crust prepares her butter; she dices it then puts it back in the fridge. This works great when you opt to use your hands to mix like I do!

There is a picture above of the cooked zucchini and as you can see there is a lot of liquid. I was nervous to pour that much liquid over the bottom layer of crust, so I decided to bake the crust first. It works like a charm! All that glorious liquid will evaporate and soak back into the zucchini while baking and the bottom layer of crust will be crispy and dry.

I am not kidding, this tastes so much like apple that no one would ever know it is a zucchini!

Served warm is the best option, and serving with vanilla ice cream and caramel is an even better option.

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