Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I love to cook, to me it’s relaxing. I love trying new things and new recipes. Baking is one of my favorites because I love the smell from cookies or pies in the oven. It makes your home smell so inviting. Over the years I have learned several things about baking, some from my grandma and some on my own. Below are my top 10 Baking tips followed by one of my favorite recipes.

Baking Tips

1). Know your oven: when I first started baking I thought when my oven preheated to 350, it was in fact at 350. I also thought that if it’s supposed to take 10-12 minutes to bake, the cookies would be finished by 12 minutes. Your oven could bake faster than mine or slower for that matter. And when you preheat it, it doesn’t mean that it gets that hot, or it may even get warmer than the temperature in you intended.

2). Chill!! I know when we get that pie or those cookies out of the oven we want to rush and get them off the pan and get more in. But let them chill! Set the pan on a wire rack and let the cool off before poking at them. If you try to move them while they are too hot than you risk breaking that cookie in half or the pie crust falling apart. This is true except where cupcakes are involved. I like to get them out of the pan and onto a rack immediately out of the oven.

3). Find a trusty recipe source: I personally use many recipes from I can always find something on that website. I also love to just type in what I am looking for on Pinterest or Google and see what I can find as well.

4). Who needs a timer: I hardly ever go by a timer. I may set my stove for ten minutes as a reminder to myself to check on what’s in the oven, but I don’t go by what the box says or the recipe calls for. If it says it takes 15 minutes, I don’t take that to heart. The food is ready when you want it to be. DO you like you cookies chewy or crunchy, maybe crunchy around the outside and chewy in the middle? You know what you like so let the food cook until you want to take it out. And this also goes back to knowing your oven.

5). Comfort Zone: A few years ago I worked with a woman who was always baking. I loved the food she made and she would have brownies that looked like something out of a box, but with a raspberry center. She was always exploring with different ingredients. Sometimes you will make something that will be disgusting and sometimes you will make something your entire family will love.

6). Room Temperature: I honestly find it best when all ingredients are at room temperature. I try to set out everything I am going to need for a recipe before I begin. It’s important if you are using cream cheese or butter that you let it get to room temp and not try melting it some in the microwave or using it straight out of the fridge. It makes a difference in your flour, sugar, icing(if making homemade) You won’t have the fluffiness you need. If you cut your butter or cream cheese into small cubes it should take about 15 minutes to reach room temperature.

7). Measuring Utensils: I suggest investing in measuring spoons instead of trying to measure it out of a tablespoon or teaspoon. Also measuring cups instead of using a coffee cup. Or by not measuring at all. I still have one grandma who never measures, if she tells you a recipe she says a little of this, a pinch of that, a dab of this. And then I have one grandma who measures everything out. I have to measure everything out or I get lost.

8). Too hot, too cold: This goes back to knowing your oven. But here is a tip on how you can judge your true temperature. If your cakes always rise too much in the middle (with a dome) your oven is too hot. If your cakes fail to rise and sink your oven is too cool.

9). When making buttercream beat the butter first before adding the icing sugar – you will get lovely smooth butter cream.

10). Check that all your ingredients such as baking powder and bicarbonate of soda are in date especially if you don’t use them often – this will really affect their ‘raising’ properties.

I really hope these tips help you. Some I have learned on my own and some from doing research online or asking a friend or family member who cooks.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Recipe from

Classic American Buttercream frosting. This recipe uses powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and milk. This is a great recipe for decorating and piping on cupcakes and cake.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
  • 3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream


  1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

What are some of your tips for baking? Anything you’ve learned over the years? Have a favorite recipe or a question? Feel free to leave it in the comment section.

Until next time,


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A New Beginning

Welcome to the first post in my A-Z Blog Challenge. Now traditionally this was supposed to start April 1, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to begin until today. So I am way behind and I’m going to do my best to play catch up.

The month of April is a new beginning for me. It’s a new beginning in many ways. I will be a mom for the first time to a baby boy. This is the first time I am participating in this blog challenge and I am getting back into my routine of writing. That’s a lot to take on in one month, but I’m bound and determined to give it my all.

I have one book published, Night Promises, with Secret Cravings, they are a great publisher to work with. All of the authors, editors, cover artists, etc are extremely supportive to one another. And thankfully they have been supportive of me and my writer’s block.

Why did I quit writing? Honestly I don’t have a complete straight answer for this. Life took over, I work full-time as a manager and I go to school. I’ve had close family battle cancer and I forgot why I started writing. I began writing because I loved it and I didn’t care about getting published or getting paid for it. Then all of a sudden I began to care, that took my passion away. Now I just want to write and I want it published so that others can enjoy the stories I enjoy.

My main motivation to get back into writing again is Nora Roberts. She is an incredible author. I began reading her books years ago. I snuck ‘Montana Sky’ from my mom’s stash of books and I fell in love with her stories. Now she is releasing her 200th book, ‘The Witness’, it’s out today as a matter of fact. She is the author we all want to be. I have never had the privilege of meeting her…yet.

As for this blog challenge, yes I am getting a late start. At first it was procrastination, oh I have all the time in the world to get started on this blog challenge. Then it was health issues. I have preeclampsia with this pregnancy so it’s been a rough month. But that’s just an excuse because I have had several days I have felt wonderful and could have taken a few minutes to write a post.

No More Excuses!!

As for being a mother for the first time, I’m on cloud 9!! I still have days I can’t believe I’m going to be a mommy. It truly is one of those joyous occasions that makes life complete. I just can’t wait for him to be here. Yes, it is a boy. My due date is May 2nd, but it looks like I may induced as early as this Friday, April 20.

But that’s my ramblings for today! I hope you enjoyed them. Feel free to leave comments…especially if you have topic ideas for letters coming up. Tomorrow will be B…my topic…well I’m not sure yet to be honest I have three ideas. So we will see where my muse goes.

Until next time,


Saturday, March 31, 2012


Be sure to check out this blog the month of April! I will be participating in the A-Z Blog Challenge. 26 topics beginning with the letters of the alphabet. Each day a new topic to explore. I will also post links to some of my favorite blogs participating in this challenge. You can also visit the main website for more links to blogs participating in this awesome challenge. It's not too late, you can still sign up yourself if you have a blog and would like to participate. A To Z Blog Challenge