This is a brilliant idea! Thanks pinterest...Stamping cookies!!!

1. Use Clean and ink free stamps!

2. Dip the stamp in flour...

3. Make sugar cookies; then roll, cut, stamp and bake... Simple!!! 

4.Consume with a glass of milk and brag to your friends about your 'Martha moment'...Genius!!! with love kate

 
 
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Aida's family Coffee Plantation; Finca El Zapote, which is located in the Santiago de Maria region of El Salvador
Coffee drinking is a new love for me, well since moving to the US... I would regularly dream of having a fancy coffee machine but not anymore. Recently I met a beautiful family from El Salvador (the millions of hours spent at soccer fields has finally paid off) and was invited round to their house for not wine, but coffee.  Real coffee.  Straight from the family's coffee plantation in El Salvadore (Finca El Zapote, which is in the  Santiago de Maria region). 


So, I arrived at the house expecting to come away with great-coffee-machine-envy.  But...first; on the stove went the pot of water then out came the strainer. "Okay, I'm confused, where is the flash coffee machine??" 

Pointing to a simple coffee plunger, they laughed at me and said 'That is it!'  No... all this wasted 'green eyed monster' time I'd spent, only to discover that I'd been using the right equipment all along...just possibly the wrong coffee! 
PS...All you Dunk'n Donuts fans - according to my El Salvadorian experts, this coffee is the best 'fast food' coffee to drink, not the other one (which will remain nameless!). xo

Coffee made easy - the El Salvadorian way (liquid gold)...Live from the iphone

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Boil a pot of water
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Add a tablespoon of coffee, for each cup
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Grab that cheap metal sieve at the back of the cupboard and strain
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Check out that colour...!!
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A taste sensation- AMAZING!
 
 

According to Martha Stewart, NEVER store soft and crunchy cookies in the same container- this will cause your crunchy cookies to soften. But you can restore the crunch...
 10 minutes at 300F - sorted!

To create the ultimate soft cookie... 

  1. Slightly under bake them.
  2. Substite brown sugar for some or all of the granulated sugar in the recipe - brown sugar contains more moisture.

For the ultimate Crunch

  1. Use egg white in place of whole eggs.


Allergic to egg?

According to our mate BEV, from i bake without- Flax seed is a brilliant replacement...
FLAXSEED EGG; to replace 1 egg (multiply as needed) 

1 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 tbsp hot water (hot but not boiled, from the tap is fine)

Mix in a small bowl/cup and leave to thicken and go gloopy for a few minutes before using.

From some Friends of the Pantry - Click on the photos for the recipe xo

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From Claire K- Cinnamon Circles
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Pretzel Sunflower seed cookie- i bake without
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Oatmeal Creme Pie from our Southern Belle
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From Whipped- A Margarita lime sandwich cookie
 
 

with love kate xo

I have a hubby who I think was deprived of 'the Easter Egg Hunt' during his youth because every year he insists on hosting and then turns into the 'Easter Bunny equal opportunity law enforcer'...

The HUNT (according to my OCD Hubby)

1. Those silly plastic eggs (invented for the germ-ophobes) must have equal amounts of candy or coins in them...Yes, hours is invested dividing everything equally and for those helpful neighbours who pre-pack their eggs - yes, every single one is opened to ensure that it has equitable candy... 
2. Then let's outline the process for hiding the eggs:  Up at 5.30am, another hour or two is invested to ensure the ultimate hunt is achieved!  He does a good job because come summer we often find those hot, melted eggs stuck behind a few rocks!
3. Then we all must line up and the hunt begins.  Once the bell has gone...
4. All found eggs are then placed into a communal basket and shared equally amongst the participants.

What happens if you step out of line? Ask my preteen...He likes to test the law enforcer!
Then comes the sugar high and grumpy kids...So, between the Law Enforcer & grumpy kids is it too late to sign up for Passover?

Here are some fabulous Easter pinning ideas (click on the photo for the how to do's) and a little sweet something from me xox

Glowing Easter Egg Hunt from  Raising little disciples
Ps: I love this one...NO sugar highs either

Cream egg chickie-babes... From A Mummy Too

An edible Easter Bonnet...
Guaranteed Mess and Fun from cheetahs in my shoes

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From Nature Store

An Egg Head with fabulous edible cress hair...Mayo, boiled egg (mashed), chopped cress and a little salt or pepper...Sandwich Heaven xo

Check out this idea via Spoonfed
Natural egg-dyes kit from the Natural Candy Store 

Build a nest from Sugar

Pantry Must Haves

4 cups of sugar
1 cup of corn syrup
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon rose water

2 drops of food colouring 
  1. In a saucepan over a medium heat combine sugar, corn syrup, water, colouring and rose water. Then stir.
  2. Dip in candy thermometer, stop stirring and heat to 320 F (160 c)
  3. Line your worktable with parchment paper.
  4. Once your sugar is ready, dip a wire whisk into the sugar syrup and hold over the  pot to let drip.
  5. Holding whisk a foot above the parchment paper, swing the whisk back and forth, so that the thin strands of sugar fall onto the paper. Repeat a few more times until you have a nice 'nest' of sugar.
  6. Immediately form the shape of a nest and let it sit...
  7. NOW add those tasty little chocolate eggs or jelly beans xo
 
 
Are you guilty of buying too many bananas? Pushing them aside for a few sweet berries, or mixing with some oranges to assist with their aging process and dumping them based on appearance? And I thought the 3 day life as a butterfly was tough!
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The quote comes from 9gag.com
like Banana Cake...
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This recipe is adapted from: Barefoot Contessa 'How Easy is That'

Pantry Must Haves

3 ripe bananas
3/4 of sugar (granulated or caster)
1/2 of light brown sugar
1/2 of vegetable oil
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 cups of self raising flour (sifted)
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 orange (grate the zest and squeeze in a little juice)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking spices
Optional: 1/2 cup of walnuts or raisins

Directions:

In a mixer: 
  • Mix bananas and sugars on a low speed
  • While on low speed, add oil, egg, yoghurt, vanilla, orange zest and squeeze in a little juice from the orange.
  • Mix until smooth
  • Sift flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a seperate bowl 
  • Add dry ingredients to mixture and then on a medium speed mix until combined.
  • Stir in nuts or raisins
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes in an preheated oven at 350F 
  • Test cake with by Inserting a toothpick to ensure that it is cooked in the middle...
  • Cool for 15 minutes in tin, then turn onto a cooling rack.

and Banana ICE CREAM...

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Click here for the recipe from 'The Kitchn'
'What is this one magic ingredient that can be whipped into perfectly rich and silky ice cream, with no additional dairy, sweeteners, or ingredients needed whatsoever?' the Kitchn

maybe Banana Oatmeal...


A tribute to the world’s greatest breakfast!
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Click here for recipe

something to drink...

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click here for directions
In a blender, add 
1 cup milk
1 cup ice cubes
1 banana
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp sugar(optional). 

Blend until smooth.....

OR someone to clean your shoes!

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Click here for directions



Banana skins are slippery buggers but did you 
know that you can use a banana skin to shine leather shoes?! 


"Well, those not so tasty bananas have many uses according to google; from a cake, to a shake and maybe a shoe shine (who would have thought)!" with love KAte xo

 
 
While in Toronto I managed to convince my family to take part in a foodie road trip in search of some fabulous chocolate. We visited two chocolate factories, both unique in very different and interesting ways, but the product that grabbed my attention was a packet of CACAO nibs (one raw and one roasted). The label read "great for baking or just nibbling on"...So, what are cacao nibs and how does one cook with them? 
Firstly, the world is a better place now that chocolate has been hailed the new wonder food; brain health to skin elasticity to cardiovascular health to anti-cancer... Now we have a medical excuse to overindulge in fabulous chocolate...Sadly not the supermarket candy bar type which actually contains low levels of cacao bean compared to the other tasty and unhealthy ingredients; sugars, milk fat and articial flavourings.  So, what about chocolate cake or a winter favourite, 'drinking chocolate'? Nope, not even my Dutch cocoa makes the cut.  Sadly the over-roasting of the beans sucks all the healthy elements right out of them...
So, what chocolate can we eat? Well according to Brain Ready  if you want the real stuff, you need to invest in 100% organic non-alkalized cocoa powder from a high-quality maker and as for those chocolate bar cravings you need to look out for high cacao percentage dark chocolate bars(typically at least 75% cacao content or higher, but we suggest 85% or higher), also from a high-quality provider such as ChocoSol Traders, SOMA or Tu Chocolate!


Ancient Aztec Hot Chocolate
From Brain Ready
One large spoonful of 100% organic cocoa powder with a bit of espresso, organic unsweetened soy milk and some cinnamon, even a sprinkle of cayenne red pepper... It's one tasty, brain & body-fuelling drink that gives you your pure cacao bean dose without the sugars and milk fat.  You get your protein from the soy milk, brain-enhancing (and blood sugar-stabilising) cinnamon, a little brain-enhancing caffeine from the espresso and theobromine (plus more) from the chocolate, and a digestion, brain-enhancing and respiratory-enhancing kick from the cayenne pepper. No sweetener needed (sweet is overrated these days!).


Roasting your nibs
  • If roasting in your oven, you will need to do a bit of experimenting because roasting times depend on the type of bean you're using. I used NIBS from CHOCOSOL Traders
  • Lay the beans in a single layer across a baking tray. 
  • Start off with an 15 minute roast in a preheated oven at 120 degrees C (250 F). 
  • They'll be ready when they start to crack and when they actually taste like chocolate (let them cool before tasting!).

After Roasting



Cookies
Gluten Free Chocolate Cookies 
with Walnuts and Cocoa Nibs
Adapted from Gourmet, April 2002

These are delicious and dead-easy cookies with no flour or butter...

¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 ½ cups icing sugar
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup cocoa nibs (SOMA Chocolatemakers)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F , and set a rack to the middle position. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper (baking).
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt.
  3. Combine the vanilla and egg whites in a jug, and slowly add them to the cocoa mixture, beating at low speed. When you have added all the liquid, continue to beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the batter is glossy and smooth. It will be fairly thin but quite viscous. Stir in the walnuts and cocoa nibs.
  4. Using a small ice cream scoop, place mounds of batter about 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. The batter will spread. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees, and bake the cookies until small, thin cracks appear on their surface, about 15 minutes. 
  5. Remove cookies from the oven, and cool them completely on a rack. When they are cool, peel them gently from the parchment paper. If you need to repeat- increase the heat to 350F and then reduce when you put the cookies into the oven (325F).
  6. Cool on trays and only remove from tray once completely cooled.

With LOVe Kate xo

The Organised Housewife
 
 
The following tips are from the lovely Melanie - Chocolate Cook Extraordinaire! 
  • Never allow any water to come in contact with the melting chocolate, unless the chocolate is being melted in a large amount of water (2 Tbspns water per ounce of chocolate is the minimum amount).  Just a drop or two of water can make the chocolate seize up, or become hard and lumpy.  Even the steam from the bottom of a double boiler can cause this problem.   
  • If chocolate does seize, you can blend in a tspn of vegetable oil (NOT butter or margarine) and the chocolate should smooth out.
  • Chocolate should only be melted over LOW heat.  The microwave is a good appliance to use because cooking time is controlled.  So long as you stand and stir constantly, you can melt chocolate in a pan set over a very low heat.  A double boiler (watch out for condensation) is a good method;make sure the water  in the bottom is barely simmering.
  • White chocolate or vanilla milk chips are the most difficult to melt.  Too much heat will make this type of chocolate seize.
  • To melt chocolate bars in a microwave, first coarsely chop the chocolate.  Place in a microwave safe bowl and heat on 50% power for 1 minute.  Remove from the microwave and stir.  Continue this process until the chocolate is almost melted, then stir until smooth.
  • Want to temper chocolate easily?  To make a dipping chocolate for coating candies, when the chocolate is almost melted add 1/4 cup more chips and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth.  This method, called 'tempering' will set up sugar crystals so the chocolate stays firm at room temperature.
  • Melt chocolate chips the same way as coarsely chopped chocolate.  NOTE: Chocolate chips will NOT spread out on their own when melted.  If you have a toffee or something where you need to melt chocolate chips on top at the end of a recipe, turn off the oven, sprinkle your dessert with chocolate chips and place in the oven for 2-3 minutes.  Then spread the melted chips with a knife.
 
 
Monday morning usually means my children finally empty their school bags and dump whatever they brought home Friday from school all over my kitchen counter. This occurs precisely 30 seconds before we are meant to race out the door to school.  Today, among school notices, crumpled artwork and graded homework, I found a real TREASURE.  My youngest daughter (6) brought home from Kindergarten a beautiful old Chinese coin tied onto a simple red string.  One of her Chinese classmates brought the necklaces in for all of the Kindergarteners as a Chinese New Year gift.  It is truly one of the most lovely and simple things I have ever seen.  After 11 years of my children bringing home junky goody bags, plastic gifts with purchases and a thousand other tacky and useless freebies, this simple coin necklace was like discovering a tiny piece of fine art.

I immediately snatched the necklace up and have been wearing this treasure all day.  I did ask my daughter's permission before "borrowing" it, but I'm really hoping she never wants it back.


Stacy
 
 
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Click Here: for a simple and fabulous cupcake recipe
In the tool box.

Piping in a bag with tips.  Wilton makes loads of beautiful tips that create all types of looks. 
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BLOG reference: Glorious Treats
No tips or money/time to buy special tools ? Look in your own kitchen drawers: 
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Sourced from www.shine.yahoo.com

The Fabric

One important tip : NEVER buy store-bought frosting! Make it yourself, it's easy and SO delicious! 

There are so many types of frosting/icing to use: buttercream, cream cheese, fondant, ganache, or a glaze. 

Chocolate
Butter Cream

1/2 cup butter softened
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1. In a mixing bowl beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add two cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup of milk and vanilla.
2. Slowly beat in remaining sugar, cocoa powder and beat in additional milk if needed to reach spreading consistency. This frosts the tops and sides of two 8 or 9 inch layers, or 24 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese

6 Tbspns of Cream Cheese
6 Tbspns of Butter
3 cups of icing sugar


  1. Beat Butter and Cream Cheese together on a medium speed in mixer.
  2. Reduce to a low speed and gradually add icing sugar.


Butter Icing

1/ cup of Butter
4 Cups of sifted icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
And a splash of milk

  1. Beat Butter for a few minutes
  2. Add icing sugar gradually at a slow speed.
  3. Add vanilla
  4. To thin out- add milk, a teaspoon at a time.

Glaze

4 tablespoons butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in saucepan. Remove from heat. Add sugar, stirring until blended. Add milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy, adding more milk if necessary. 

Try substituting orange or lemon juice for the milk and freshly grated zest instead of vanilla for a delicious citrus glaze. 

Marshmallows

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Click here for recipe

Adding a little extra GLAM...

On top of these, you can add many decorations to spruce things up a bit! Think sprinkles, fondant pieces, edible flowers, decorations with frosting, meringue, stencils with confectioners sugar, nuts, sanding sugar, food coloring in the frosting, fresh fruit, crushed candies, or maybe a syrup to soak in the cake then a drizzle of chocolate. The possibilities are really endless. How about marshmallows under the broiler[grill]? 

Can't really go wrong with brownies on top!! 

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Oh yes...This was sourced from the fabulous Martha

Or the healthier option- 
A carrot to balance the butter and sugar!

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Click here to bake

When 'Plain Jane' becomes a 'Princess' or 'The Ugly Duckling' becomes a 'Swan'...

With love Marlo and Kate xo

The Organised Housewife