Friday, September 28, 2012

Advertising on Lulu the Baker!

Attention Bloggers and Online Shop Owners!! After much thoughtful consideration and planning, I'm excited to announce that I'll be offering sidebar advertising on Lulu the Baker starting today! Right this very minute! If you click on "Advertise" in the navigation bar at the top of the screen, you'll be taken to a page that has all of the nitty-gritty, including ad rates. If you have any questions or would like to request a media kit (site stats, social media reach, etc), please email me.

And keep scrolling down to see those mouth-watering cookies I posted this morning...!
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Campfire S'mores Cookies

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Last week, I posted a photo on instagram of some chocolate chunk-filled oatmeal cookies with toasted marshmallows on top and told everyone that they were too ugly to make it onto the blog, but very, very delicious. And within seconds I had at least 4 people asking for the recipe. So, here you go folks, Campfire S'mores Cookies! And although I still don't think they'll win any cookie beauty contests (can you imagine how amazing a cookie beauty contest would be?!), I have to admit that they are so tasty I don't care what they look like!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So Sweet Favor Bags

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Another dear friend is having a baby soon, and I was the lucky girl who got to make the favors for her baby shower last weekend. The invitations were sweet, lacy, and ladylike, and I wanted the favors to be all of those things too. The mama-to-be loves chocolate-covered cinnamon bears (she actually introduced me to them, for which I am eternally grateful!), so it seemed perfect to fill these sweet bags with her favorite treat. I'm a little in love with how they turned out, and happen to think they looked especially cute all lined up in prim and proper rows. Want to make some of your own? Here's how!

Materials & Tools
--kraft paper bags {3 1/2 x 6" ones from the gift wrap section of Michael's}
--paper doilies that are the same width as your bags {4" white paper doilies from the baking section of Michael's}
--candy! {Because I wanted my gummy bears to stay soft, I put them in a small, clear treat bag before tucking them into the paper bags. If you are using hard candy or a non-food item, just put it right in!}
--ribbon {1/8" ribbon in two colors from Jo-Ann's}
--hole punch
--printer, optional
--paper cutter, optional

Steps
I ran my bags through the printer. If you'd rather not, you can write directly on the bags, stamp a message on them, or put a cute tag on them. If you plan to send yours through the printer, start here. Otherwise, skip down to step 4!

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Step 1:  Tape the top of your bags shut. Make sure the tape goes all the way across so there aren't any exposed pieces of bag to snag in your printer.
Step 2:  Load the bags into your printer the same way you would paper, and print! Of course you have to have something to print; I just used a plain old Word document and formatted it to be the same size as my bag.
Step 3:  Don't try to pick the tape off the bags--it'll never work! Just cut the tape off using a paper trimmer. I trimmed 1" off of each bag.

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Step 4:  Fill the bags with treats, close them, and fold down the top 1".
Step 5:  Fold the doilies in half. Based on how you orient the doilies when you fold them, they will have slightly different widths, so do one first, make sure it is the same width as you bags, then fold the rest the same way.
Step 6:  Take a closed bag, place a folded doily over it, line up the edges, and hold them firmly in place.
Step 7:  Use a single hole punch to make two holes about 1/2" apart. Make sure to punch through all layers.
Step 8:  Cut your ribbon into lengths of about 6 inches. I chose to do two shades of pink per bag.
Step 9:  Thread both ribbons through the two holes and tie a knot on the front of the bag. Trim excess ribbon.

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I lined all of my sweet little bags up on a very inexpensive wooden tray from Michael's, and they looked especially adorable and demure!
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Mom's Sweet Corn Chowder

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I may be biased, but my mom is pretty much the best cook around! I was so lucky to grow up in a home filled with amazing food, and my kids are lucky to have Grammy nearby, offering to feed them delicious treats at the drop of a hat. This is one of the dishes I remember most from my childhood, and one that my siblings and I still love as adults. Filled with veggies and sweet corn, it is so cozy and comforting, so homey and wholesome. Like all good comfort food, it reminds me of home!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Crumb Topped Apple Pie

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Now that it is most definitely, most officially Fall, I can't help but want apple treats all the time. Cinnamon, spices, warm, saucy apples--I just can't get enough! And while I like pie pretty much all year long, I do think it especially appropriate now that there is a nip in the air. So what better treat for a cool Autumn day than warm apple pie! This one is particularly, exceptionally amazing because it has the usual buttery crust and delicious, spicy apple filling, but on top of all that it has a sweet, crunchy crumb topping full of brown sugar and cinnamon. It is quite spectacular!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In My Kitchen with Melanie Blodgett

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"When I was growing up, there was never a day that went by where there was an absence of cookies. Every week my mom would make a big batch and then put them in the freezer so we could have them for school lunches. I'm not sure I knew what a store bought cookies was. My mom taught me that homemade is always best (unless you really can't bake or add raisins to the cookies!)."

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Melanie writes the lifestyle blog You Are My Fave, where she features parties, projects, and all things happy. She lives in Denver with her husband and baby son Beck.

Melanie is one of those bloggers that I've admired forever! She is funny and kind and down-to-earth, and knows how to throw the best, most creative parties. I'm always excited to see what her next Fave is. xoxo

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Cookies

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I love summer, but Fall is without a doubt my favorite time of year. During the waning days of August, I long for the warm, sunny days to continue forever--all sunshine and popsicles and barbecues. But once Labor Day has come and gone I easily put summer away in a little box, ready for next year, and embrace cool, crunchy-leaved, apple-scented Autumn. I made these cookies a few weeks ago as an afternoon snack on the first day of school. I meant for them to be snickerdoodles with a hint of apple, but they turned out entirely different from snickerdoodles--and completely delicious! They are amazingly light and tender, with a coating of cinnamon and sugar that almost melts around them like a sweet glaze. They are the perfect treat to celebrate the start of a new school year and the start of a new season.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Kristan's Salsa (for Canning)

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Another Friday, another salsa recipe, but this one happens to be our favorite! A few summers ago, my friend Kristan and I both spent a weekend at our houses canning salsa. Mine was so-so--watery and thin, and decidedly lacking in punch and panache. Kristan's salsa was sublime--chunky and colorful, and full of deep, vibrant flavors! I begged her for the recipe and patiently waited until the following summer so I could make jars and jars and jars of delicious salsa. I think my husband and I canned close to 50 pints of salsa that summer!

I don't know what it is that makes this salsa recipe so amazing. It has tomatoes and peppers and onions and spices like you'd expect, but they all come together to make a rich, satisfying salsa that captures the flavors of warm, sunny weather, and lets you enjoy them even in the dead of winter!

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Golden Graham S'mores Bars

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We've spent the entire summer making fires in the backyard and enjoying s'mores. But with school back in session and a full schedule of after-school activities, we don't always have time to build a fire and roast marshmallows. These yummy Golden Graham S'mores Bars have all the deliciousness of s'mores--ooey, gooey marshmallows, crispy, sweet grahams, and luscious milk chocolate--without any of the fireside fuss. My kids loved making them, but not as much as they loved eating them! You can find the recipe on Celebrations at Home!
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Adventures in Backyard Farming: The Honey Harvest, part 2

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Now, there's all kinds of equipment that makes processing honey quick and easy. Most of it isn't very fancy or expensive, but you do have to be able to find it to use it, and as luck would have it, we couldn't find any of it! We couldn't find the uncapping knife that makes it easy to scrape just the top layer of wax off the honeycomb. We couldn't find the handle to the centrifuge that allows you to spin the honey out of your frames without scraping the honeycomb off. And half of our frames didn't fit in the centrifuge anyway. So we did things the old-fashioned way!

Scraping, Scraping
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Well we got all of that honey removed from the frames and...my husband woke up the next morning with a raging case of pneumonia! So the honey sat and sat...and sat...and sat. He was really sick, poor thing! Luckily, honey isn't opposed to sitting around for a week or so; it's antimicrobial (germs don't grow in it) and doesn't need refrigeration, plus all that sitting around lets the bees wax rise to the top, which makes for slightly easier filtering.

Filtering the Honey
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Lesson #7 in Backyard Farming: As in almost all areas of life, it really is most efficient if you have a plan first. Otherwise, you end up filtering your honey 4 times because you keep pouring chunks of beeswax into the honey you've already filtered.

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Last year when we bottled honey, we ladled it into the jars. As you can imagine, that makes for a sticky kitchen! This time, we wised up and poured all of the filtered honey into the busted centrifuge, which has a handy spigot at the bottom--so it ended up being good for something! And the kitchen still ended up being ridiculously sticky, but slightly less so than it would have been if we'd used a ladle. Sometimes that's about all you can ask for!

Liquid Gold
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If you intend to sell your honey, you have to sterilize the jars and follow strict USDA guidelines for food prep. But if you're keeping the honey for yourself or giving it to friends and family, you just have to pour the honey into nice, clean jars with tight lids. My mom saved all of these tall, skinny jelly jars for us and they look adorable all in a row in our cupboard.

Did you miss the first half of the honey harvest? Click HERE to see the beehive action.
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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever

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I should have known that Ina Garten had the best chocolate cake recipe all along; she is, after all, a goddess. There have been a few times in the past when I thought I had found The Perfect chocolate cake recipe, but every time I thought I had found my go-to, I started to get consistently bad results. Weird textures and sunken tops and what-not. I was a little skeptical when I read all of the glowing reviews surrounding this cake; everyone, and I mean everyone, said it was The Best Chocolate Cake Ever. And that it was easy to boot! Can one recipe really deliver all that? It turns out that the answer is a resounding Yes! Ina really does have the best chocolate cake recipe: it is a snap to make (no whipping, no careful folding, no fancy ingredients, just mix-mix-pour) and it produces a cake that is moist and rich and perfectly springy. My dad gave it perhaps the best compliment a cake can receive when, with eyes as wide as saucers, he stared at me quite dumb-founded and said, "What?! You made this from scratch?!" High praise indeed.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Fresh Salsa

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I really love mexican food. If you don't believe me, take this as evidence: 4 out of 7 nights this week have south-of-the-border fare on the menu. We've already had mexican take-out and homemade chimichangas, and enchiladas with homemade sauce and tacos are coming up. And don't get me started on salsa! In my book, good salsa might tie with ranch as the perfect condiment. I love to pour it on tacos, to wrap it inside burritos, and to dip taquitos in it. I love it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I could eat chips and salsa all day long. This recipe for fresh salsa is one of my favorites. It has strong, fresh flavors and perfect seasoning. It's the reason I plant a vegetable garden!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Favorites {Give-Away}, Back-to-School edition

For me, September has always been all about going back to school! I love shopping for new school supplies--binders, pencils, backpacks, markers, notebooks. I love seeing the classrooms clean and sparkling and ready for a new batch of fresh, young minds. Here are some school-inspired favorites for September!

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1.  favorite way to store your tools of the trade: Mini Lazy Susan from Pottery Barn Kids
I spotted these adorable supply caddies while dog-earring pages in the back-to-school clothes catalogs for my kids. I think all of them look so cute together that I might have to buy one of each color. We'd have to store them on the kitchen table, but who cares about dinner when their art supplies are so stylishly organized? {photo from Pottery Barn Kids}

2.  favorite jewelry made from school supplies: DIY Colored Pencil Jewelry by Kate of Mini Eco for Design Mom
It has been a little over a year since this cheerful jewelry tutorial was posted on Design Mom, and it still makes me happy just looking at the pictures! Who doesn't want to wear a necklace made of tiny, rainbow-colored beads made from cute, hexagonal art supplies? One of my favorite DIY's ever! {photo by Kate of Mini Eco, seen on Design Mom}

3.  favorite after-school snack, mostly for mommy: Brownie Cookies with Salted Caramel Creme Filling from Bakers Royale
Bakers Royale is one of my favorite food blogs; the photos are always perfectly styled and the food sublimely yummy-looking. This homemade Oreo recipe, with brownie-inspired cookies surrounding a salted caramel cream filling, is just like everything else on Bakers Royale--a tempting mix of classy and delicious! {photo by Naomi of Bakers Royale}

4.  favorite grown-up post-its: Page Flags from Girl of All Work
I've been in desperate need of sticky-note tabs lately; for some odd reason (trying to be better organized) I am burning through stacks of them like crazy. Girl of All Work has an astonishingly vast line of page flags, with designs both sophisticated (Crystal Prisms, pictured above) and whimsical (Arctic Friends). I actually might be able to make it through one pack of each design before the month is over--that's how organized I am! {photo from Girl of All Work}

5.  favorite tiny back-to-school Etsy find: Mini Twig Color Pencils from Inkkit
I'm pretty sure miniature colored pencils made from real twigs top the charts when it comes to whimsy. Inkkit's mini pencils make me want to draw pictures of gnomes and rainbows all day long! {photo from Inkkit}

***

The give-away is now closed and the winner has been contacted. Thanks for visiting!

This month, I'm giving away a light blue Mini Lazy Susan from Pottery Barn Kids!! That is an awesome prize folks. Here are the rules:

  • To enter the give-away, simply leave a comment on this post. If your email is not somewhere that I can fairly easily find it (i.e., in your profile or on the blog your profile links to), leave your email address in your comment. That way, I can email you if you win.
  • If you are the winner, you have exactly one (1) week after being contacted to get back to me. If I haven't heard from you in that time, I'll choose a different winner. I've been having trouble with my winners lately :(

That's it! Get commenting!
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In My Kitchen with Kelly Lanza

I am so excited to introduce a new series on Lulu the Baker today! I love getting little glimpses into the homes of creative people, and I love hearing tips, tricks, and hints from their everyday lives. With this series, In My Kitchen, I'll get to share with you decorating ideas, secret ingredients, recipes, packaging tips, and more from the kitchens of some of my favorite bloggers, artists, and crafters. Without further ado...
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"I love to cook, but I really love to bake. Since there's only two of us in my household, I always keep simple kraft-colored boxes in my kitchen so I can easily package up leftover desserts. I'll send treats homes with guests or with my boyfriend to work, and I'll prepare little hostess gifts or for visitors staying in hotels. All you need is a little note and some pretty ribbon or baker's twine to wrap it up, and you're good to go!"

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Kelly Lanza is the editor and founder of Studio DIY, a DIY party blog and resource where she celebrates every event, holiday, and milestone, big or small. She is also a freelance blogger and party crafter for several local clients and national blogs. She's a handmade junkie, sometimes baker, always creator, and an East Coast transplant living in Los Angeles.

I'm so grateful to Kelly for being my guinea pig on this little blog series. It's an idea I had forever ago, and I knew I needed to find someone kind and generous to take a chance on it. Love you, Kelly! xoxo

The kraft box pictured above is available online from Garnish.
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