Friday, January 27, 2012

I {heart} Conversation Hearts

I am not a big fan of store-bought candy. But there are some treats that I enjoy from time to time that fall into the "nostalgic" candy category. Conversation Hearts are one of those treats that I indulge in around the holiday of love.

When I stumbled upon a recipe to make them at home, I tried it immediately. And discovered that they are as easy as pie. Well, easier, in fact.
This is a great candy to make with your kids and the possibilities are endless. I am already plotting my Easter, Halloween, an Christmas treats with variations on color, flavor, and shape.

Here is the recipe that I used. The above variations are Coconut, Lavender, Cinnamon and Peach.

I will be customizing these for Valentine's Treats using an edible marker. Can you imagine how sweet it would be to give a heart with a name or custom message?


Sunday, January 22, 2012

I {heart} Shortbread

I have a healthy obsession with shortbread. Real, buttery shortbread. Simple to make and perfect with tea, it is my go-to cookie to bake.

I started selling shortbread when I discovered how much I love all the varieties of flavors that compliment the butter so well. Lemon, Vanilla, Earl Grey Tea, Lavender, Chai, Lime, Espresso- I could go on. Pictured above are my brown sugar Vanilla Shortbread dipped in dark chocolate. That's real, Callebaut chocolate. A few of these went down just fine with a cup of homemade chai tea earlier this evening. And I think they will make a sweet treat for those I love. But I will have to make more. These won't last for long.

Kimberley's All Butter Shortbread
*this is a great recipe for kids, with only a few ingredients, have your helper mix it for you and allow them to shape some of the cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup organic sugar (you may sub confectioners sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

*cream butter in medium bowl, add sugar, blend
*add vanilla, blend and mix until combined
*add flour, salt, blend
*you may roll into a log and chill (slice when you want to bake) or to cut into shapes roll between two floured pieces of parchment to 1/4 inch thick and cut
*bake in a 350 degree preheated oven on silpat/parchment lined cookie sheet
*bake 12-15 mins
*makes 12-24 depending on size

Flavor Variations
*this is the fun part*
Substitute the following for the vanilla:
*1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest
*finely ground tea such as Earl Grey
*finely ground lavender (only use culinary lavender)
*use your imagination and experiment!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

I {heart} Homemade S'mores

Have you ever enjoyed a homemade s'more? Well if you like the 'original' then you will be sure to love the homemade variety.
Homemade cookies, smothered in dark chocolate with warm, gooey handmade gourmet marshmallows. One is enough. But have two just in case.

Here at Kimberley's Kitchen, I have been making S'mores Kits for over a year now. With seasonal shapes and flavors (the heart above has a Cinnamon Marshmallow), S'mores Kits are a fun treat for big and little kids. I can even customize them for a party or family camping trip.

Good any time of year, there's always room for "S'more".


Monday, January 16, 2012

I {heart} Cranberry Scones

I have a dream. I wake up on Sunday morning to the smell of a perfect latte and homemade scones waiting for me. With two little ones and a busy life, like all of you, this will remain a dream I'm sure.

So I bake myself scones almost every Sunday. They are one of my favorite baked items and I love making them. This weekend, my daughter and I made Heart scones with cranberries and they didn't last long.

I am a scone snob. I am the first to admit. The recipe I use is a variation from a Scottish recipe that I love. It is mostly butter, cream, and a little bit of the rest. I'm a purist. No vegetable oil or funky flavors. I stick close to the original. The furthest I stray is a maple scone recipe from Ina Garten, that is quite heavenly.

Bake up a batch and enjoy the results. Quick and easy to make, this is a great one for the kids. Have them mix the ingredients or invite them to cut out the shapes. Mini scones work really well and are a perfect size for the little ones.

Kimberley's Kitchen ~ Scone Recipe

*preheat oven to 400 degrees
*in a medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. (you may sub 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for all purpose flour for a nice, nutty taste and more whole wheat)
*cut in 1 stick cold, unsalted butter until a course crumb
*dig a well, pour in 1 beaten egg and 1/2 cup cream (can sub milk)
*mix until combined, don't overmix
*turn onto lightly floured surface and pat into 1 inch thick round
*slice in wedges or cut shapes (re-roll scraps to use remaining dough)
*place on parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet
*brush tops with cream and sprinkle with organic sugar, if desired
*bake 15-18 minutes
*cool on wire rack
Enjoy! With lots of butter!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I {heart} Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Of all the things I bake, this is my Dad's favorite cookie. Simple, buttery, sweet Jam Thumbprints. And pressed into little hearts makes them just that much  sweeter.

I stumbled upon this wonderful recipe in Every Day Food Magazine a few years ago and it is still my favorite- simple enough to do with the kids too. No fancy mixer needed- a good bowl and spoon and you are set! (the recipe below is half the original recipe so you can easily double this if you plan to make a lotta hearts happy)

*1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
*1/2 cup granulated sugar
*1 egg
*1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
*jam of your choice (I used raspberry but others work well, such as apricot, strawberry, blueberry, you get the idea)

*preheat oven to 350 degrees
*mix butter and sugar until fluffy
*add egg and mix to combine
*add flour and mix to combine

(No need to chill, this dough is ready to go, but you can save it in the fridge or freezer for later use if you wish. Just bring to room temp when you plan to use it.)

For traditional cookies, roll 1 tablespoon of dough into ball, slightly flatten and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
*for heart variation, roll ball and form into teardrop shape, slightly flatten. Repeat and attach second teardrop to form heart*
repeat with remaining dough

*Moisten finger with water and lightly press into each cookie
*fill with jam
*bake for 15-20 minutes
*allow to cool
Eat~ a perfect tea time treat


Sunday, January 8, 2012

I {heart} Cookie Pops

Cookies on a stick. Does it get any smarter? And what a sweet treat for the little ones. These cookie pops will be all dressed up in bags with ribbon and heart tags for classroom gifts.

And here's a mini version that's nice for the preschool crowd. The teacher will thank you!

Cookie pops are simple to make and a great project with children.

All you need is:
My favorite sugar cookie recipe (you can halve the recipe for the minis or if you only need to make a few)
Heart cookie cutters
Wooden popsicle sticks or lolipop sticks (as shown above)
Candies or sprinkles for decorating
Cello or glassine bags
Ribbon and handmade tags

*Prepare my favorite sugar cookie recipe (from Martha Stewart, of course) the day before you want to bake the cookies and leave to chill in the fridge.
*When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees and remove dough from fridge, allow to warm up so that it is pliable.
*Lightly dust work surface with flour and assemble all items- rolling pin, cookie cutters, sticks
*Roll dough 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness (thick enough that when you slide the stick in it won't break the cookie)
*Cut out shapes and slide stick in from bottom point of heart to about half-way through the cookie
*Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough
*Bake for 12-15 minutes (don't allow to brown)
*Allow to cool and then embellish with candies- add a dab of melted chocolate or royal icing to "glue" candies to cooled cookies
*Allow to sit overnight
*Wrap in bags and tie ribbon and tag on

Fun adaptations:
*half dip in chocolate and allow to set
*add color to the dough to make pink cookies
*before baking, sprinkle with sanding sugar for a glittery treat
*add a flavor to the dough such as cinnamon or almond

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I {heart} Macarons

One of my biggest confessions- I have had a love affair with French macarons for years. I tried one for the very first time, years ago when I was living in Toronto. There was a little bakery that made them, long before they were the baking trend around the world. The first flavor I tried was lavender and it was pure heaven. I developed a healthy obsession with them.
I started making them myself two years ago and most enjoy making lavender and lemon. I prefer to use all natural color and flavor when I make them. I also use organic almond flour and eggs. They are actually quite simple to make if you are handy with a mixer and a pastry bag. And just for Valentine's I made heart-shaped ones to share the love.
While not perfect, I allowed my daughter to use the pastry bag. She had fun making shapes and we filled these chocolate ones with raspberry jam. And then ate them. Once again proving that baking with kids can be fun and the results don't have to be picture-perfect; just a great memory.
For my my favorite recipe visit Martha Stewart's website

Monday, January 2, 2012

Handmade to Give 2012- a Big Giveaway

Photo by Magna Vita Photography

Welcome to Handmade to Give 2012!

I am thrilled to be participating in this Canadian Giveaway and kicking off 2012 with so many amazing artists.

Please visit the Blog to see all who are participating and please LIKE them on Facebook too! The giveaway is on until January 8th.

What can you win?

The Giveaway from Kimberley's Kitchen

Gourmet Marshmallow Sampler
12 Jumbo marshmallows in assorted seasonal flavors, shipped to you at home.

How do you enter? Please visit my Facebook page, LIKE, and leave a comment!

Have fun and good luck!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year to Celebrate

My very first cookbook

2011 was quite a year for me. The first full year of business for Kimberley's Kitchen and a big move up north to embrace country living were two big highlights.

Kimberley's Kitchen completely surpassed all expectations (and plans) and grew faster than I could have imagined. Inspired by all the amazing talent that I have met locally and online, I founded the Tri-Cities Bakers Market in the summer. It was such a rewarding experience to work with so many local bakers and see the community enjoy home-baked treats.

After moving up north, I launched my new logo, designed by Laura of Eye Candy Event Details. I have received such positive feedback about the look and was delighted to be able to use it with my holiday orders.

Photo by Magna Vita Photography

In an effort to devote my time to my family for our first holiday in our new home, I did little to promote Kimberley's Kitchen for Christmas. It soon became apparent that I was going to have to limit orders for the holidays because I was swamped with custom and online orders. I was able to balance family and business by strategically scheduling myself and saying "no" to quite a few requests (sorry!).

Photo by Magna Vita Photography

Now that I have had a chance to settle in and establish some local business, I will be building in 2012 in so many new ways. I am very excited for all that is ahead for Kimberley's Kitchen and am truly grateful to all of you for your support.

I constantly remind myself why I set out to do this: create a unique and quality product that delights hearts and tummies, contribute to my family and role-model entrepreneurship to my daughters, and engage in a creative industry that connects me to a community of like-minded women.

So far, so good.