November 22, 2011

Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder

A Thanksgiving Dessert

I don't know about you but I can never find Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder. None of the grocery stores I frequent carry it and all of Martha's recipes that contain chocolate usually call for the Dutch Processed variety.

I stopped in at my local Target Superstore this evening to get a prescription filled and checked the baking aisle. I didn't see anything labeled Dutch Processed. I asked an associate nearby and they of course told me it was a brand name that they didn't carry anymore and cocoa powder is all the same. I had a hard time believing that. If it was all the same why oh why do they take the time to type out Dutch Processed in a recipe.

I went back to the cocoa powder section and decided to read the backs of the labels and I found one that said the chocolate is alkalized in the Dutch way. Hmmmm..... I bet that means Dutch Processed.

This is it...
So if any of you are like I am and have no idea where to find Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder I believe I have finally found some. I'll let you know how my cake turns out.

I'm making this for Thanksgiving...

A Salted-Caramel Six-Layer Chocolate Cake (photo via)

Doesn't it look delightful? I'm supposed to use a candy thermometer for the caramel but the one I ordered from Pampered Chef, through my sons preschool fundraiser, has not come in yet. I guess I'm going to have to wing it. My layered cakes usually never stay upright. They're always sliding around. Say a little prayer for me. I'll need it with everything else I'll be cooking and baking.

UPDATE: This cocoa powdered was sweetened and the recipe called for unsweetened so I had to reduce the amount of sugar. I also did not attempt the caramel without the candy thermometer. I may give it another try when my thermometer arrives.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

November 21, 2011

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

And A Holiday Card Design

I've been pretty busy prepping for the upcoming holidays and sewing slipcovers for my family room furniture but I thought I'd drop in and share a little design project I recently did for a new client.

These professionals have a fun, custom card designed for them each holiday season and when they contacted me to assist them with this years greeting I jumped at the chance. They decided to highlight the fundraising bike ride that they participated in. Requesting a "Santa and Reindeer" theme and then sent me head shots of each of the employees to get me started. I decided to illustrate merrymaking, patterned, paper-doll clothing and a plaid sleigh then string it all together with cheery lights.

Such a fanciful little project and much different than the corporate work I've become accustomed to.

Speaking of Christmas cards. I'm trying to decide which design I like best for our family greeting this year. An even tougher decision is trying to pick a family photo out of the bunch of wonderful photo's my friend and photographer took of us a couple weeks back. Stay tuned, I'll be sharing that soon.

Do you have a favorite photo card company?

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

November 9, 2011

Using What I Have

Yesterday I did a lot of yard clean up. The weather was perfect for being outdoors. Sunny and around 70° and I figured I better get to it now before the cold sets in. I had a phone conversation with my mom this morning and they're getting a snow storm right now and expecting 5 - 10 inches. Of course that is way up in the U.P. of Michigan but with weather patterns the way they've been nothing would surprise me at this point. Even a snow storm in VA in the middle of November.

Back to the yard work... I had to cut back all the vines that grew around the columns of our front porch and then some. The frost had killed them and they were looking pretty rough. I did my yearly seed saving from the hyacinth first and then the rest got stuffed into lawn & leaf bags.

I ended up with four large bags. That's a lot for a small yard. My back is sore today and I overslept this morning. A sure sign of hard outdoor work. Oh and not to mention I had to wash my hardwood floors on my hands and knees afterwards because my oldest tracked dog droppings through the house yesterday afternoon. So my knees are sore too!

The good that came of all the clean up yesterday are these lovely gladiolus reeds.

Last year I used them indoors to do this.

This fall I decided to use them on the front porch to fill in where the vines once grew. I wound them tightly using jute, tied them off and then attached them to the columns with another piece of twine so they won't get blown over.

I think they're the perfect addition to our porch right now until Christmas decorating begins. I had enough reeds to adorn both sides of the steps.

Have you used anything unusual or unexpected from your yard or from nature to decorate lately?

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

November 8, 2011

Pumpin Scones & A Pumpkin Patch

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest. It was for knock-off Starbucks Pumpkin Scones. I repinned, checked out the blog where it originated, printed the recipe and made them. I am skeptical at times with recipes I get off the internet. I've tried some that aren't so great.

Let me just say they are well worth the effort. When my four year old son said, "Mom, I love scones." I knew I'd found a good recipe. The only thing I did differently was the icing. Instead of making a second batch with the spices I used what I had left after brushing the plain icing and just added the yummy spices to the leftover icing and then drizzled that over the top. They were moist and divine! Next time I'll divide the dough into 12 scones rather than 6. They're pretty large.

Now I need to find a Starbucks Gingerbread knock-off recipe.

I thought I'd share a few photo's from our pumpkin patch outings this year. It's a bit late but better late than never. We went to two different farms. The second farm had the best hayride through the woods and it was cool that day so it really felt like Fall.

Isn't this a great pumpkin patch?

They had fun finding the perfect pumpkins. My oldest was with a friend when we went to this farm. She's getting to the age now where things like this are boring. One day she'll appreciate these outings again.

Time to sit for a spell.

He takes his pumpkin carrying job seriously.

Lovely autumn shades. Even in the grasses.

This photo was from the first pumpkin patch we went to. It was warm and sunny that day. We were at the farm midday so it made for lots of shadows in my photo's. This was one of the few that turned out. Daddy was blocking the sun.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections.

Jenny K.

November 7, 2011

Apple-Blackberry Pie

...with a white cheddar, lattice crust.

I'm doing some recipe testing for Thanksgiving. I want to make some amazing desserts this year. I love really beautifully presented pies and cakes when I see them in all the home & lifestyle magazines. This recipe came from the November issue of Southern Living.

Preparing the apples was much different than a typical apple pie. The recipe called for large wedges and I always slice my apples as thinly as possible. It also called for sauteing them in butter before adding them into the crust.

The white cheddar in the crust recipe made it so easy to roll out and cut the strips for the lattice pattern for the top crust. I usually find myself struggling with the crust because it's all butter and it sticks to everything and if you don't work quickly begins melting. So I roll it in cling wrap or parchment paper.

I really loved the apple filling with the 2 cups of blackberries. It adds a wonderfully unexpected twist. The white cheddar crust is an acquired taste and if I make the crust again it will be pared with something savory rather than sweet. This apple-blackberry pie is definitely worth making again but with the simple pate brisee crust.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

November 6, 2011

Easily Distracted

Today I should be working on slipcovers for my sofa and loveseat. Why? They look like they've been attacked by a rabid dog and no dog was involved it was my kids.

I've got the cording cut and I've even gotten some of it sewn up with the contrasting fabric. Ahhh... yes! I said contrasting fabric. I'm working on my first ever attempt at slipcovers and I chose to do a contrasting cording. I've got a picture in my head of what these slipcovers are supposed to look like. That's how it all starts with me. An image in my mind and then I must deliver. Let's hope I can pull it off. Is this wishful thinking or attainable glory?

But I am easily distracted when facing a daunting task.

This is what has distracted me:

Photoshop Actions—to be more descript The Pioneer Woman's Free Photoshop Actions. Oh... and some Lens Flare that I added on my own to get rid of the playground equipment in the background. I love the way her hair is flowing.

...and this version:

This is the before shot:
My beautiful baby girl on a swing. I've got a few more photo's I want to work with just to see what I come up with but I thought this was fun and all with a point-and-shoot camera. Some day I'll get a big girl camera but for now my little point and shoot is capturing our lives one click at a time.

Rest assured when these slipcovers are complete they will be front and center on this blog and it should be before Thanksgiving sometime. We've got company coming.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

November 4, 2011

A Visit to Carter Mountain

Apple Picking at It's Finest

You may have noticed if you've been reading this blog for a while now that our family likes to pick our own fruit beginning with strawberries in the spring, followed by blueberries beginning of summer, blackberries mid-summer and apples in the fall. Oh, can't forget the pumpkins and if I could find a pick-your-own raspberry farm we'd be there in a heartbeat.

This year we took a trip back to Carter Mountain, just outside of Charlottesville, VA. It is a really beautiful orchard with lots and lots of variety. My favorite is Granny Smith because it's such a great baking apple with it's wonderful tartness and dense texture. It doesn't get all mushy at high temperatures.

Here are a few photo's from our adventure.

Some people got the luxury of using one of those basket on a stick thingies to snatch their apples, we used our kids. Or I should say, my handsome hubby, used our kids. Needless to say he was worn out by the end of the day.

They were able to reach a few on there own once we got to the Fugi Apple section. We had to go way back into the orchard to find trees still loaded with apples on their lower branches.

A hillside provided some entertainment for the kids after all of our hard work. We ended up picking over 40 lbs. of apples that day.

First thing I made was homemade applesauce in the crockpot. Mmmmmmm..... yummy! No sugar needed. Peel, core, slice and fill the crockpot up to the top. I sprinkle cinnamon on the apples and let the crock do the rest. About 14 hrs. later it's saucy goodness. Make sure to give it a stir occasionally.

Then I made this:

Mmmm Hmmmmm..... a deep dish apple pie. Have you heard, pies are the new cupcakes. Yeah... they're all the rage. Big ones, little ones, medium ones, pies on a stick, hand pies. The skies the limit with a great crust. Then fill it with what you love. I haven't met a pie I didn't like. Raspberry is my absolute favorite!

I just made an apple, blackberry pie last night with a white cheddar crust. It's got a lattice top and everything. Photo's coming soon. I'll share the recipe & source if it's as yummy as I hope it is.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

p.s. Sorry it's been so long since I last posted. I'll try not to go so long without dropping a line next time. We've just been so busy trying to enjoy EVERYTHING fall has to offer while the weather cooperates. I've also been really busy with graphic design jobs but I've completed a lot of projects so hopefully I'll be back for a spell.
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