March 26, 2010

I spy a rainbow...


It's a rainy day here in VA so I thought I'd post a photo of a rainbow! ... and it's one you can eat! These are rainbow cookies. I had never heard of them until a friend of mine, originally from New York, mentioned that she had a craving for them. She was pregnant at the time and I thought it would be a nice gesture to whip up a batch. I found a recipe and set out to make these petite treats. They are a bit more difficult and time consuming than a standard cookie but well worth the time if you've got a special occasion coming up. Apparently these are a New York favorite and if you try them you'll know why. If you love almond flavored delicacies you'll enjoy these little delights. I would call them a "Petit Four" rather than a cookie. They have a bit of a cake like texture and they are quite rich. You can find the recipe here. I add a couple teaspoons of almond extract to the recipe in addition to the almond paste. Enjoy!!!

p.s. you could even switch the coloring up to reflect the time of year. Easter is around the corner and these would be beautiful in pale blues and yellows.

March 15, 2010

THIS BEAUTIFUL FABRIC WILL BE TURNED INTO BABY BEDDING FOR MY LITTLE "SUNSHINE & BLUE SKIES"


Don't you just love this  fabric from Heather Bailey? I'm having so much fun making my youngest daughter's crib bedding out of this bright, fresh collection! Pictures of the final product coming soon.

March 13, 2010

chartreuse green as part of our landscape

My husband and I planted this Tiger's Eye and Knockout Roses two planting seasons ago and I have to tell you they have not disappointed. The foliage on the Tiger's Eye is a fresh, chartreuse, green and it makes a great backdrop to the bright pop of fuschia from the Knockout Roses. I'm really getting excited to see what all the plants do this year. We are definitely novices at all of this but that's what makes it fun. However, we've had to move plants around because of the learning curve and we may have to do more of that this spring.

March 5, 2010

planting season will soon be here - what are you going to plant this year?


I hope this sunny yellow photo gets you excited for the coming planting months. I'm already thinking about what I want to plant this spring. Look at these beautiful, golden, sunflowers. These were part of our garden two planting seasons ago. One sunflower plant of this variety gave us all these beautiful blooms. Sunflowers are so easy to grow and produce ***BIG*** impact. Try a few, the seeds are inexpensive and your children will love watching them grow. By the way, the bees also love them and all gardeners want more of those little striped insects in their garden.

My husband and I have decided to do a larger vegetable garden this year and move some of our shrubbery to accommodate. I know I want to do heirloom tomatoes, green beans, snap peas, cucumbers, squash, lettuce and lots and lots of herbs. I've been looking through gardening catalogs and trying to decide. What are you going to plant this year? Give your green thumb a work out.

March 3, 2010

delicious... oh so good to the last sticky spoonful... strawberry jam

 
Strawberry season is just around the corner and you'll want to go out and pick lots and lots of the red, juicy delights so you can make this "strawberry freezer jam". When I made this for my family it all went in about a week. Now that is fast for jam, don't you think? Pair this with mascarpone cheese and slather it on some of that homemade bread I gave you the recipe for and you'll make a meal out of it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My husband covets this stuff. So much so that he brought a jar of it to work with a sleeve of saltine crackers. He gave one cracker with a dollop of jam to each of his coworkers. *** "ONE" *** and when they discovered he had an entire jar and was only willing to part with one tiny serving they had a chuckle. I hope I'm inspiring you to gear up for a family trip to your local, pick your own, strawberry farm.

Follow this recipe: Strawberry Freezer Jam

March 2, 2010

fresh, hot, french bread ~ oooo la la






















This is a true comfort food for me, homemade french bread. It has a nice crust on the outside and a yummy soft center. This bread is perfect for sandwiches, toast with homemade jam and mascarpone cheese, and oh so good to eat fresh out of the oven.

My kids and my husband adore this and so I make it 2 -3 times a week. We don't even buy bread from the store anymore. Yes!!! It's THAT good and the easiest of all the breads I've tried thus far.

This recipe is from the KitchenAid® Mixer cookbook that comes standard with the machine when you buy it.

Ingredient List:
7 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups water (115º )
4 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 tbls. melted butter
1 tbls. salt
cornmeal for dusting

Tools Needed:
KitchenAid® mixer
Measuring utensils
Baking stone
Large glass bowl
Temperature guage

I use the KitchenAid Mixer with the dough hook attached.

Add all 7 cups of flour to the bowl then add your salt and then the yeast. Give that a quick turn with the dough hook and then pour the water over the dry mix and allow it to sit for about 5 - 10 minutes. This will activate the yeast.  I heat the water up right in the pyrex measuring cup, using the microwave, and then test the temperature before adding it to bread. Because the water is added right  to  the flour and yeast mixture I tend to heat the water to 115º - 120º. If I was activating the yeast in water alone 110º - 115º is typically better.  Then go ahead and add your melted butter and turn on the mixer and let it do it's job. The dough will form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Once that happens put the dough in a clean, large, glass, bowl coated with crisco spray and cover with saran wrap. Keep the bowl with the dough in a draft free space. I like to put it on my glass stove top and turn the warming burner on low. This ensures the yeast has a warm space to do its thing.

Allow the dough to rise for about an hour and a half.

Once it has doubled in size, dump it onto a floured surface, and cut it into two portions. Set one portion aside and roll the first portion out into a rectangular shape. Then go ahead and roll it up into a tight cylinder and pinch the ends to seal it and avoid having large air pockets in your bread. Do this again to the second portion of dough and then add both to a cornmeal dusted, rectangular shaped baking stone. Cover with a clean, lightweight dishcloth and put it right back in the draft free space. Allow it to rise another hour and a half. Once it has doubled in size take a sharp knife and slice 3 diagonals across each loaf. Go easy on the pressure. You don't want to deflate your dough. Put your loaves into a 450º oven and let it bake for 25 minutes.

To get that beautiful crust, beat up an egg white and a splash of water and brush your bread  with the mixture and then pop it back in the hot oven for another 5 minutes. If you like a softer crust you can skip this step.

I like to put the same lightweight dishcloth over the warm bread for about 10 minutes. Then go ahead and remove it from your baking stone and allow it to cool on a wire rack.

You won't be disappointed with this bread. It's such a simple recipe with BIG taste and it is oh so versatile.

Let me know how you like it.

March 1, 2010

Spring Colors

Blue Sky Confections

Well it's no secret that I am new at blogging. I'm still trying to edit code and make this space what I want it to be. But until then...

Blue Sky Confections is being birthed out of my desire for all things creative.

The name "Blue Sky Confections" comes from:
1. I call my third baby Blue Skies and Sunshine
2. one of the definitions of confection is: An elaborately constructed thing

In future posts, you will be seeing baked goods and recipes, plantings, handmade custom print work, crocheted items and sewing projects smattered with home decor projects.

Looking at a lot of blogs it seems the more successful ones focus on one subject matter. I really struggled with that because I love so many creative venues but the common thread is handmade and home centered.

I hope that you find "Blue Sky Confections" a place of inspiration and good resource for all things handmade.
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