The semester is coming to a close and it’s time to analyze this ongoing blog project of mine for my last post for the class. Don’t let your sweet tooth fret, this does not mean I am done posting forever! I simply must analyze my overall performance for this post for my final grade so feel free to continue reading to check out some of my blog stats and a few things I have learned about blog writing along the way.
One of the most important things I have learned is that I love blog writing. It’s such a great way to share your thoughts with the world about something you care about and connect with others who have similar interests as you. To make your blog successful, I think the key strategy is social media sharing and adding tags to your blog. Through sharing on social media, your friends can check out your post and share through their social media and attract other readers, and through the tags feature you can attract people you haven’t connected with yet that may love your stuff!
I feel this blog has benefited me endlessly for my future careers in Public Relations. Utilizing a blog to promote a company, idea or product can be extremely beneficial so it’s important for me to learn the style of blog writing. For my future clients I will definitely push launching a blog to promote anything because you can attract so many people who you know will already be interested in your product if they find your blog through tags, and those are the best kind of clients to promote to. It’s a creative form of advertising that customers can actually enjoy. Customers will buy your product and leave with a great state of mind about your company and isn’t that the goal of good PR?
As for my own personal stats on this blog I found through the WordPress analytics, my most popular week was actually my very first week of posts! I think this may be because I put more effort into promoting through social media because I was very focused on building my audience right at the beginning. My most popular single post was my second post! For one, it was about chocolate chip cookies and who doesn’t love those? But I also think it had to do a little something with putting more effort into trying to build my audience at the beginning, as well. The most interesting stat I discovered looking through my analytics was that people from a variety of countries viewed my blog! Switzerland came in at the second next to the US for top views. I guess they like yummy treats almost as much as American’s do?
I am so excited to share my famous key lime pie recipe with all of you! I’ve been making it for years and it’s always been a huge hit during any occasion I make it for. I make this recipe at least 3 or 4 times every summer and I still can’t get enough of it.
I got this recipe from possibly the best (or at least my favorite) cooking magazine, Southern Living! They did a special magazine a few years back focused on comfort food and this delicious pie made the cut.
This recipe is also great because it’s so easy! You only have four ingredients to whisk together then pour into a pie crust. So simple! Without further ado..
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons key lime zest
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 (9 inch) graham cracker pie crust
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Garnish with key lime zest and slices!
Before doing anything else, assemble your lime juice and zest! The key limes are so small that it takes a little bit of time. Check out this mountain of limes I needed just to produce the tiny amount of juice! Good things come in little packages, right? 🙂
Now you can pour your lime juice and zest into a medium sized bowl and whisk in the sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Mmmm, can you already smell the zesty freshness of the limes?
Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until filling is set. The filling will still be gooey even it is ready, but if you move the pie pan and the filling doesn’t move around or if you lightly touch the filling with the tip of your finger and it feels firm you’re good to go!
Allow to cool for thirty minutes to an hour at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator for about an hour longer to finish cooling!
While the pie is cooling, make your whipped cream by beating the heavy whipping cream with the sugar until stiff peaks develop. Then, once the pie is cooled you can spread the whipped cream on top with key lime slices and zest to add the beautiful finishing touches!
Today I’m going to share a recipe with you all that my family has used for years and we still can’t get enough of them! We call these “Hello Dolly Bars” but they are similar to magic bars if you have never heard of them. It even came from a cute little newspaper clipping that we still have around. The language is so cute and I love the authenticity of it! It’s a pretty simple recipe so not much instruction is needed, but check out the slideshow I’ve included to watch the recipe be put together! Enjoy! 🙂
Now that the Spring is officially here I wanted to do a recipe that fits the new season. One of my favorite parts about going in to the warmer months is baking with citrusy flavors. So, in this post I’m going to cover one of my favorite citrusy things-lemon bars!
Luckily, my roommate, Marissa, who also loves baking had a great lemon bar recipe she let me use. She’s from the Houston area, and she has a lemon tree that grows in her back yard that she uses to make fresh lemon recipes with, like lemonade and lemon bars so I figured she would have good taste in choosing a good recipe. She said this lemon bar recipe is so good that even her brother, who can be a picky eater and doesn’t usually like lemon bars, loves them and now begs her to make them all the time! The lemon bar recipe Marissa recommended and that we will be using is the Barefoot Contessa recipe.
I made up a batch and the verdict is that they are DELICIOUS. The crust is similar to a shortbread, so it makes the house smell like sugar cookies when you bake it and it’s the perfect crumbly consistency. The center is gooey and packed with lemon flavor, then the top even has a sugary crust that adds a nice crunch. I’ve never made a lemon bar recipe that the sugar did that with but it’s actually a very pleasant surprise!
Check out the recipe and steps below and ENJOY 🙂
For the crust:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
A dash of salt
For the filling:
6 large eggs at room temp
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (6 lemons in total will give you enough for the zest and the juice. If you don’t quite get enough juice, just add water until you make it to a cup full)
1 cup flour
Powdered sugar, if desired, for dusting at the end
First, make the crust! Combine the butter and sugar, scraping down the sides frequently to make sure everything is incorporated. Then, slowly add the flour to avoid clumping then add your dash of salt for the final touches!
The dough may be a bit crumbly, just because it is a shortbread crust, so roll the dough into a ball to gather all of your dough together then flatten out into a 9×13 in. pan. You don’t even have to butter the pan because there is so much butter in the crust already!
Bake the dough for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Now, start making the filling! First, combine the eggs and sugar together with a whisk.
Add the fresh lemon juice and zest!
If your crust is finished baking, you can now pour the filling on top and bake still at 350 degrees but for 30-35 minutes. Start checking at 30 minutes-if the sides are browned the bars are ready!
When you take the bars out of the oven, give them a long time to cool, or better yet put them in the fridge or the freezer, before you cut them into squares. The filling is so gooey that you can ruin them if you don’t give them time to cool!
Dust powdered sugar on top if so desired.
And then you have beautiful, delicious, gooey, flavorful lemon bars perfect for spring time! SO YUMMY. Look at the sugary crust on top and the gooey center-mouthwatering!
This blog post I am switching things up a bit to talk about kitchen decorating. Baking can be fun but I know we (and our diet) can all use a break from it from time to time. Over spring break I was especially inspired about kitchen decorating, being in my mothers beautiful, newly renovated 1800’s kitchen for a week, so I thought I would share her insights with you all.
Growing up my mother has always kept a beautiful home. One part of the house she especially takes pride in is her kitchen. She recommends using the brands Mackenzie Child, William Sonoma and Fiesta to give your kitchen an extra something special. These brands may be a little bit pricey, but you’ll collect these pieces a little at a time to have for the rest of your life so the extra cost is worth it!
I’ve found that baking can be even more fun if you’re in a beautiful atmosphere. Check out decorating tips to maximize your surroundings below from my mothers beautiful kitchen:
Fresh Flowers: Adds a pop of color and livelihood!
Pot racks: Displays your cookware nicely and optimizes space. My mom recommends using copper bowls because it has a number of benefits. For one, they’re pretty, but they also produce all kinds of reactions with ingredients that can produce fluffier eggs and distribute heat better.
Wallpaper: Adds beautiful color and design. This wallpaper is from Anthropologie. They have plenty of beautiful wallpaper to choose from that are easy to apply yourself.
A colorful focal point: Put at least one large, colorful item in your kitchen as a focal point. For us that’s always been our beloved kitchen aid mixer!
Display cookbooks and other kitchen items on a bookshelf: This is a great way to stay organized and display more of your decorations! This bookshelf is also wallpapered with the spoon wallpaper from Anthropologie listed in tip #3.
Take out cabinet doors: This opens space to display your items nicely. If you use glass shelves, it adds glamour and gives the allusion of more space.
Display ingredients in labeled glass jars: This makes your ingredients look nice and makes your life easier! When you’re checking if you have ingredients for a recipe, you can just look at the jar to see how much of the ingredient you have rather than having to open a bag of flour or take off the lid of a spice container to check the amount. Lazy susan’s are also great for efficiency and finding what you need quickly!
BAR CART: I have been obsessed with the bar cart trend lately and I absolutely love what my mom did with hers. The pretty alcohol bottles with the fresh flowers and limes, and crystal glasses make for a beautiful finish.
Pretty doggie bowls: As crazy dog people (we have three dachshunds and a basset hound) we couldn’t forget the most important part; including your furry friends in with your decorating! After all, they do play a big part in the kitchen, “helping” by gladly cleaning up any crumbs you drop on the floor. These bowls are also from Mackenzie Childs. They have so many cute, colorful dog accessories to chose from on their website!
This week I’m going to continue on with my favorite things in the baking world-cupcakes! I not only love to bake cupcakes, but I also enjoy making them look pretty. It’s fun to get creative with different decorations to jazz your cupcakes up, and today I’m going to show you one of my favorite decorations to use-chocolate candies!
What’s nice about using chocolate candies to make decorations for cupcakes it that you can use them to create basically whatever design you would like. It’s as simple as melting the chocolate, putting it in a piping bag and doodling whatever your heart desires on parchment paper.
Follow these steps below to learn how!
Sketch out a design on parchment paper first with pencil to correct any errors, and then trace over with a sharpie so you can see your design clearly through another piece of parchment paper that you will be piping your actual design on. I chose a monogram, a dachshund (my ultimate obsession) and a heart. To make your own monogram, watch this video. For the other designs I just googled stencils for them!
Melt your chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between. I always use the Wilton Candy Melt’s. You can get them at your typical craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and there’s a variety of different colors to choose from.
Once the chocolate has melted, pour chocolate into a piping bag with a small holed piping tip.
Place a second piece of parchment paper over your designs and secure with a knife or any other heavy object so the paper won’t move while you’re applying your design.
Carefully pipe out your designs! When you’re done with one design, just move the paper over to create another stencil.
Allow your designs to harden by placing them in the freezer or refrigerator for at least 5 minutes.
Carefully lift up the design with a knife.
Place on top of cupcakes and wow your friends and family with your fun decorations!
This week I’m in good ole’ Eaton, Colorado visiting my family for spring break. That means I get to blog from my mom’s beautiful kitchen, with the red kitchen-aid mixer I’ve missed so much, and with my precious little doggies in tow. (Or helpers as I like to call them-they always get flour on them when I bake, as you can see from the picture on the left, from hovering around the kitchen for any spare crumbs!)
As I promised from my last post, we’ll now start on one of my favorite things to bake.. cupcakes! My biggest cupcake inspiration is Georgetown Cupcakes. You may recognize the name from their show on TLC, DC Cupcakes. It features the cute sister pair, Sophie and Katherine, that started their cupcake business together built on family recipes, that turned into a mass success, eventually landing them their show on TLC!
Their book, The Cupcake Diaries, is a must for anyone wanting to make perfect cupcakes. It has great recipes, tells their story of growing up baking with their family, and then deciding to open up their own business, along with tips for being successful with your own business. I have used this book as a reference for years and I highly recommend it-you can’t go wrong with any of their recipes! Most of the baking guidelines I follow now I got from this book!
For today’s tutorial, I will be using their “Milk Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes” recipe from the book. You can use whatever cupcake recipe you would like for this tutorial but I recommend one of their recipes to ensure success.
Using a piping bag, I prefer Wilton brand, cut a hole in the bottom to fit the piping tip in perfectly. I use these plastic tips that move outwards at the top, so I don’t need to use couplers:
Fold the top of the bag over your hand when pouring frosting in, so you can easily fill up with frosting without making a mess:
When piping bag is full, twist the top so it won’t overflow while you’re applying pressure to the bag to ice the cupcakes.
Now for actually frosting the cupcakes! Apply slight pressure, and start piping out frosting from the middle, work your way around out to the sides, and finish by working your way back to the middle
If you don’t want to do the swirl, you can also cast little dots onto the cupcakes like so:
Beware of doggie prowlers! 🙂
And then you have beautiful cupcakes that are just as good to look at as they are to eat! You can use my frosting method with other piping tips to have slightly different designs.
Is it just me or do the frosting on these cupcakes kind of look like soft serve ice cream? Check in next week for a chocolate candy cupcake decoration tutorial!