Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 ~ Year In Review

As this December comes to a close I feel a nudge to look back on the year and reflect.  I am not a big one for making New Years Resolutions.  This year has not been an easy year by any means.  It was full of ups and many deep pits.  Over time I have learned that it is good to look back and remember the good parts even with the bad.  It's a way to see how God's hand was there amidst even the hardest parts.  I still have many unanswered questions, but I know that He walked with me through it all and continues to do so every day.  One thing this reflection has helped me with is to truly see that I have many blessings to be thankful for.  Even as I write this post, I still have many unfulfilled dreams but, I know that I can rest and trust in His perfect timing.  I would really encourage doing your own Year in Review! :)

  • My 5 year old niece had heart surgery and has recovered fully.  Praise God!
  • My parents and I completed another big house project of tearing down my fence and putting in a white picket fence in the front yard.
  • I took a two and half week Confectionary Arts course in Toronto and learned many new skills and met some wonderful people in the field.
  • Traveled for a month in Toronto, New York and Boston.  I was stretched beyond my comfort zone, but am so thankful for the experience, opportunities and history I saw and learned.
  • I got the privilege of working with my cousin on my new branding design and logo.
  • I turned 32 with a fun Favorite Things party with my girlfriends and then had a relaxing day with my family watching the Hawks win!

  • We got to be a part of 27 different weddings, birthdays and events.
  • This summer we did 24 Farmers Markets and Shows.

  • In September, I have been in my house for 3 years.
  • My business has been up for 5 years and continues to grow!
  • I completed my 8th year of Teaching.

My biggest blessing I am most grateful for.. my family! 

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Johanna's Favorite Things Party

Last weekend, I celebrated my birthday with some of my girlfriends and a 'Favorite Things' party theme.  Awhile back I had seen several 'Favorite Things' parties popping up on many different blogs.  It sounded like such a fun idea that I knew I wanted to throw one myself.  As my birthday started approaching I thought... Why not?  This would be such a fun girls night!  Now if you don't know what I'm talking about, here's the gist... you invite your girlfriends over and ask each one to think of one of their favorite things that they would want to share and bring 4 of them, unwrapped.   Each girl would then go home with 4 new favorite things!

About a month ahead, I sent out these invitations.  I included an idea sheet also to help them out with their gift idea.

I made bags with each girls name on them so, they would have a place to put their favorite things as they shopped throughout the evening.

When each girl arrived, they were instructed to fill out a card with their favorite thing and then their name.  We displayed each one on cake plates on my farm table.

For food, I served light appetizers and drinks while the girls were arriving.  Since this was my favorite things party, for desserts I served some of my favorites!  Salted Caramel Coconut cake, a Chocolate, Vanilla, Raspberry White Chocolate cake, Sugar cookies, Peppermint Brownies and mini Coconut cupcakes.

At the end of the evening, I brought out one more tray of gifts.   As I thanked each one for coming, I drew names and each girl could pick an item from the tray to take home.

This was such a fun party to plan!  Here are a few more pics from the evening.  Enjoy!

Merry Christmas from Itsy and I!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Peppermint Dark Chocolate Mousse

If you are in a pinch this holiday season and need a quick dessert, try this simple yet delicious Peppermint Dark Chocolate Mousse for your Christmas celebrations.  It only has 5 ingredients! I have made this recipe over and over and every time my guests absolutely love it!

Peppermint Dark Chocolate Mousse

8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Place chopped chocolate, 2 tablespoons cream and peppermint into a bowl and place over simmering water.  Once the water comes to a simmer, turn the heat off and let the chocolate melt slowly.  Once the mixture is cool, beat the heavy cream with vanilla till soft peaks.  Fold the chocolate, a little at a time, into the cream.  Use the mousse right away or put into dessert cups and refrigerate.  Serve at room temperature and top with crushed peppermint candies (optional).

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

This week, I went to a cookie exchange.  It was so much fun!  For those of you who have not done one of these, basically you bake a lot of one kind of cookie (ours was 6 dozen packaged into 12 half dozens).  Then you get a half dozen of each kind of cookie that your friends bring, which is A LOT of cookies!  Now, I need to figure out what to do with all these cookies!! :)

I (of course) looked on Pinterest for inspiration.  I found these cookies that looked fun.  I just switched out the recipe for my own sugar cookie recipe that I love.  They were a bit time consuming but, so worth it in the end.  Look how festive they are!  In case you have not done all of your baking for the season yet, I am posting the recipe below.  :)

Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

454 g unsalted butter at room temperature
410 g sugar
5 ml salt
10 ml vanilla
2 large eggs
765 g all-purpose flour
15 ml baking powder
10 ml milk
5 ml lemon zest (optional)

Cream the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla until very light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Mix the dry ingredients together and then add to the creamed butter and egg mixture.  Add the 2 tsp. of milk and mix.  Add lemon if desired.  Mix dough until it comes together in a nice, smooth dough.   Divide dough into three bowls.  Mix in red food coloring to one, green to the other and leave the last one white.  Form dough into 3 flat discs and wrap with Saran wrap.  Let rest and chill for 2 hours.   Roll each color of dough out onto parchment paper into a rectangle and layer on top of each other.  Gently roll up the short end to form a log.  Roll the log into sprinkles, covering completely.  Cover and refrigerate till firm.  Thinly slice logs into ¼ inch slices.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Makes a lot…. J

Happy baking and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apples Say Everything About Fall

What says Fall better than apples, cinnamon and cloves???  Growing up, my mom would make our family this recipe of Applesauce Spice cake when the apples started ripening up outside (we had 9 apple trees in our yard).  This is a very simple and moist cake for any celebration or just to serve your family on a cool, rainy weekend.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!  :)

Applesauce Spice Cake
makes 17 cupcakes 

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups applesauce (no sugar added)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda

In a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, vanilla and applesauce.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves and soda.  Add to the applesauce mixture and stir to combine.   Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan or into lined cupcake pans.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool and top with my favorite creamy vanilla frosting (recipe below).

Vanilla Sour Cream Frosting - adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 cups confectioners sugar

In a stand mixer, cream the butter,  sour cream and vanilla together.  Gradually mix in sugar.  Makes about 4 1/2 cups.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Let's Dance! - 5th Birthday Party

 Everything is SO adorable about this little ballerina birthday. From the pink tutus, ballerina shoes, little girls dancing and sweets.  This past August, I had the privilege of making the sweets for the beautiful dessert table. What fun it is to see it all come together! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. :)

desserts by Delicately Sweet Confections