Friday, October 10, 2014

Proper English Scones w/ a Twist

I've been missing my home away from home: York, England.
I had been going to England every year from 2004 to 2011, and loved it so much I decided to do bible college abroad.
Whilst living in York for bible college six years ago, I fell in love with the culture and traditions of the English people. It's been three long years since I've been back, and I've been missing it desperately. So to remedy my reverse homesickness, I decided tea was in order, even though I had to forgo one of the best parts of English scones: clotted cream :( being lactose intolerant is a real pain in the you-know-what sometimes….
I also thought it would be fun to experiment with the recipe and come up with my own English scone vibe.
Without further ado, here's my [slightly twisted] English scones.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, add all your dry ingredients. In a separate bowl add your milk and lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes, once it looks a little curdled, add the egg and whisk till combined.
Add the softened butter to dry ingredients and mix with a fork (or your hands) until mix resembles a coarse meal.
Add milk mixture and mix until dough combines - looks like a soft dough.

How gorgeous is my ceramic measuring spoons and cup?! My sweet friends gave the little beauts to me for my birthday last week!! Soooo pretty! I love that my friends know me SO well!

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out dough, or pat it out like I did because I'm a hands on type of girl…
Cut out your scones to your preferred size, or cut into triangles for a scone shape similar to those you find at Starbucks.

Place scones on: a greased sheet, parchment lined sheet, or a stone sheet (like I did).
Place in oven for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Don't they look ridiculously scrumptious?!

Serve scones just by themselves or with a bit of jam/jelly (and clotted cream if you're not sadly lactose intolerant like myself), or even coat with a simple glaze… whatever your little heart fancies. 
Pour yourself a cuppa, and enjoy your little bit of English heaven while stuck in ridiculously hot southern California.
Also… how cute is my little elephant?! My best friend gave me the adorable cream pourer (along with other ridiculously adorable gifts) for my birthday last week, and I AM IN LOVE WITH IT!!

The elephant still needs a name, so any suggestions are welcomed! 


Proper English Scones w/ a Twist
(adapted from Basic British Scones)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup homemade buttermilk (3/4 milk + 1/4 lemon juice)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 [scant] teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
1. Add milk and lemon juice to measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes. 
2. Add all dry ingredients to a medium bowl. Mix a few times to incorporate all ingredients.
3. Add egg to milk, whisk together.
4. Add softened butter and cut in with a fork or your hands.
5. Add milk mix to dry ingredients, mix till combined - looks like a soft dough.
6. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead together a few times.
7. Roll or pat out to about 3/4 inch thickness. Cut with a knife or circle cutter.
8. Place scones onto sheet about 1 inch apart, and place in oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Enjoy however your little heart wants!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

DIY Vanilla Extract

I am crossing an item off my bucket list with this post today.
I finally made vanilla extract. I am shamelessly doing the goal-post, arms-up-in-victory stance right now.
I have wanted to make homemade vanilla extract for a few years now, but kept letting excuses get in the way. But now that I am jobless I have all the time in the world…and I have finally made vanilla extract! I also had a little bout of worry, thinking I might somehow make the worst vanilla extract ever. But as soon as I made the extract, I laughed at myself a little… it literally is so riddikulus-ly (see what I did there… HP fans will get it… hopefully) easy, it seems almost fail-proof. It probably took me 10 minutes to finish making the extract, including taking a few photos for this post.
So, with Christmas basically right around the river bend (I think I'm going through a quote-y phase…), I thought I'd share this super simple recipe that is so multi-versatile for the holiday season.
You can save money by having your own vanilla extract on hand for all the wonderful seasonal baking you'll be doing, or you can make little bottles to give away as presents… there are endless possibilities.

First things first: to make good quality vanilla extract, you need good quality vanilla beans. After quite a bit of research, I chose to use Beanilla, but feel free to choose whichever vanilla beans you like.

To make the vanilla extract, choose a few glass jars to use. I had a jar from Beluga Chocolatier in Germany that seemed the perfect size, & after scouring my house for a bit, found a cute little mason jar.
With my jars differing in sizes, I added 2 extra to the mason jar since it was a bit bigger.
Split the pods lengthwise and scrap out the seeds, add the seeds and pods to their respective jar. For a measuring reference I turned to one of my favorite bloggers (who has already been mentioned in a few previous posts… she's just so great) Joy [the Baker]'s recipe says to use 4 ounces of alcohol per 2 beans/pods. 

Add beans/seeds to their jars and pour your choice of alcohol (vodka, bourbon, or rum) over the beans. I chose to use vodka solely to have a neutral vanilla flavor. Bourbon is supposed to give the vanilla more depth and a bolder flavor, so I might have to make my second batch with bourbon since I'm a fan of strong flavors. You can honestly choose based on your taste preference, or try 3 different batches to see which you like best. There are no rules! 

Once I added the vodka and beans, I gave both jars a good shake and placed them into a dark, cool cupboard. After each week, give them a good shake again to help the ingredients continue to incorporate. Allow the extract to seep for at least 6 weeks before using - if you're going to gift vanilla extract for the holidays, start now or make your extract and label with a "ready to use" date.

The bonus about making your own extract: you can always just add more beans and alcohol as your supply dwindles down, and it basically will last indefinitely. It's a win/win situation from every angle. Go ahead… do the goal-post, arms-up-in-victory stance (I really should figure out the technical term for this position) with me, you know you want to.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

[No Churn] Ice Cream Cake

Okay, this heat has been ridiculous lately… it's basically devil-heat. It's just unnatural.
So, being the baker that I am, I decided an ice cream cake was in order.
Even though I was sweating like a five hundred pound trucker driving through Phoenix, the outcome was worth every second.

Readers: "What if I don't have an ice cream maker, Kylie?"
Me: "I've got you covered… this ice cream is a No Churn ice cream. Meaning you don't need to own an ice cream maker… you just need to have a freezer, which, I am 99% sure, is a standard household appliance."

Okay… cheesy little convo aside, this ice cream recipe really is fantastic because it doesn't require an ice cream maker - which I've heard can be a hassle to use if you have a smaller freezer (I personally have a very slim, narrow freezer…so I know the frustration of having limited space).

The recipe I used for the ice cream comes from Honestly Yum (which she used via Nigella Lawson )
The blog title accurately describes this ice cream… it is SO good.
[I'll put the recipes for the cake and strawberry sauce at the bottom of the post.]

The ice cream does call for rum, but I can assure you that you do not taste the rum at all… it is solely to help prevent your ice cream from crystallizing. 
"Where's all the rum gone?!" …. sorry, my nerd is showing - I couldn't resist a Captain Jack quote.

No Churn Ice Cream:
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
2 tablespoons of rum
1 teaspoon of peppermint extract
12 ounces of chocolate (I used 2 dark choc Ghirardelli bars, and one dark sea salt Lindt bar)

In your mixing bowl (I used my kitchen aid, but if you just have a hand mixer, rock that business like a boss…), add the peppermint, rum, and condensed milk. 
Mix until completely combined.

Add chilled whipping cream, and mix on medium-high until soft peaks form - do not over mix!

Fold your chopped chocolate chunks into the cream base - I chopped the chocolate into varying sizes because I'm so fancy… I am so quote-y today… I apologize.

I lined a spring form pan with cling film and poured the mixture in - I decided to use this method to ensure the ice cream would be the same shape and size as the cake… I like to keep things simple and easy. 
Before putting the ice cream in the freezer, I put more cling film on top of the ice cream (literally lay the cling film on the surface of the ice cream mixture), this helps prevent gross skins from developing…
Freeze for at least 6 hours. I froze mine overnight, and it was slightly firm and soft… like ice cream you buy from the grocery store, perfectly scoop-able before it turns to an icicle after one night in your freezer… seriously, do grocery store freezers have magical powers? 
Hogwarts Freezers!!! 
Sorry… nerdiness is showing again. I'll calm down, I promise.

Once the ice cream was frozen and ready to go (Let it go! Let it gooooo…. can't hold it back anyyyyymorrreee! I am SO sorry… I apparently can't control myself today…) I cut the cake in half, plopped the ice cream in the middle… and voila! An ice cream cake!
But it didn't feel complete… so I decided to make a strawberry sauce to pour over the cake. It was absolutely divine… and yes, I had cake for breakfast. Yes, I will be doing 2 hours (totally worth it) of Zumba after I finish blogging… a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do for the sake of her blog ;)

Doesn't that just look scrumptious!
Try not to drool… it's hard I know, but give it your best….

Advice I want to impart concerning making this ice cream cake: don't do it all at once… sometimes I get way to gung-ho when I start baking and I forget I'm not super-baker. So, bake your cakes off first. While they're baking, remain aware of your time, but prep your ingredients for the ice cream - or you can prep, start ice cream and then do the cakes while the ice cream chills in the freezer… whatever suits your fancy. Once cakes are done and cooling, start on your ice cream - you want to pay full attention to your ice cream… my first batch curdled because I was doing three different things at once. 

Chocolate Coffee Cake:
adapted from Sweetapolita (I seriously adore her cakes… I mean, sprinkles!)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa powder (I used Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used Pink Himalayan Salt, because it seems fancy)
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (to make buttermilk, I add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to my measuring cup, then pour milk until I hit 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup strong black coffee, hot
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix until completely combined - then create a crater in middle of dry ingredients. In a separate mixing bowl, mix all the wet ingredients until completely combined. Pour wet mix into the crater of the dry ingredients.
Mix together until you have a batter consistency.
Grease three 8-inch round pans (I sprayed Pam) and dust with flour, tapping out excess flour.
Divide batter evenly among pans, gently tap each pan against the counter.
Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick comes out almost clean, about 12ish minutes - you want a few crumbs attached: crumbs equal perfection in cake-land. I allow my cakes to cool in the pans, leaving them out overnight covered with towels - it's how I've always cooled my cakes, and they're always yummy and moist.

Strawberry Sauce:
(adapted from my brain ;) I kind of winged it this morning….thank you culinary school)
1/4 cup water
A splash of lemon juice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 - 3 cups frozen strawberries (don't feel the need to be accurate, a few extras are a-okay)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Add water, lemon juice, and strawberries to a saucepan over medium heat. Allow to sit for about 1-2 minutes, then stir strawberries. 
Stir often, and once mixture starts to look more liquid-y, add sugar 1/2 cup at a time. 
Stirring frequently, allow sauce to come to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer. Mash strawberries.
Take sauce off heat.
In a small bowl, add cornstarch. Add 2 teaspoons water, and mix until you get a thick paste. If too thick, add 1/2 teaspoon of water.
Add cornstarch mixture to strawberry sauce, mix in completely. Allow sauce to sit and cool for a bit - about 10 minutes.
Pour over cake… store the rest.
Lick the spoon… I won't judge.

Enjoy this ridiculously delicious cake!
I'm off to Zumba...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Beginnings + [New] Etsy Shop!!

Hello lovelies!
I hope you all have had a splendid day.

I have a bit of news for you (I don't want to label one as bad, so I'll say uncomfortable and not my favorite): Yesterday I was let go from my job of almost 6 years. It was absolutely shocking and completely out of left field. Without delving into more reasons and personal feelings about yesterday's events, I am choosing to see this positively. I am choosing to see the good and the endless possibilities ahead. 
I am choosing to trust my Jesus. 

However, I am also a bit of a realist when it comes to this sort of thing. I know I need to somehow provide for myself now that I am jobless (that is still really weird to wrap my brain around).
Oddly enough, I've been wanting to open my Etsy shop again, but felt like I wouldn't have the time to create items to sell. I had even purchased 12 ceramic mugs the day before I was let go, thinking I would just try to create mugs when I could.
Today was weird, not waking up to go to work… so to occupy my mind, I started making a few mugs to put on Etsy. The more I drew, the more excited I became.
Even though it is incredibly frightening to be without steady income now, I finally have the opportunity to do what I've always dreamed of doing: create!
I now have time to dedicate myself to making items to sell on Etsy, and time to start really focusing on this blog as well. 
I'm excited to see what comes of this new adventure in my life!
If you would like to check out my Etsy shop (I would absolutely love it if you did!), here is the link. My shop is called KylieRaeDesigns and over the next few days/weeks, I will be working away to get more items up.
Here are a few photos of the mugs I painted today:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Heart2Heart: It's time to be real...

I feel a sudden urge to be completely raw and upfront here on my blog… partly for myself to just let go, but also, hopefully, to possibly encourage someone out there.
I just came home from another missions trip… we went to Austria and Germany to do childcare for the conference for western European leaders/pastors/missionaries. I love the opportunities I have been able to have while working in the children's ministry at my church. I have been able to fly to different countries to love sweet little babies and kiddos, and it never feels like work.
While I love what I do in the children's ministry, and am incredibly blessed to have a full-time job… I still find myself feeling lost.
(I doubt I'm alone in this feeling…) 
With all the gorgeous, perfect Instagram photos and stunning foodie blogs I read, I find myself feeling really inadequate and basically like a failure - mostly as a certified pastry chef, but also partly as an adult. 
I find it frustrating sometimes, struggling with my own desires to just create gorgeous desserts for this blog… but always falling short in doing so.
I want to do amazing things, but find myself feeling like a constant failure.

Some discouraging thoughts that run through my mind almost on a daily basis:
- I don't have enough money to purchase a decent camera to take beautiful photos….no one is going to want to look at my lame smart phone photos on this blog.
- I rarely get home in time from work to whip up some fancy pastry before the sun sets - losing the natural light that makes photos more aesthetically pleasing… why would anyone want to look at my blog when there are other gorgeous, perfectly aesthetic blogs that make you want to quit your day job and just bake away.
- I'm still #foreveralone (depressing, I know…). I know that somewhere out there is Mister Perfect (for me, anyways), but I am 26 and still without even a hint of potential. I have been single for my whole life - I've never dated or been in relationship-like anything…which is hard, yet wonderful. My heart is wholly in tact, yet desires to be loved. Even in my complete contentment, I still look forward to the day when I meet the one my heart will love for forever.
- I work in an office, which is a constant struggle for my artistic, ever-changing soul… and sometimes, even though I truly love my job, I feel caged in to the mundane eight to five life.
- As an artist, I want to express myself… to explore and experiment. I want to create things that make a person light up. I want to live life creatively and without artistic boundaries. I want to be able to create for a living.
- As a young christian woman, I desire to somehow use my gifts and abilities for Jesus - to bless His heart with what He's blessed me with. Yet I feel like I am always coming up short, that I am not really of any actual use.
- I feel like a failure as a christian continuously…
- I wish I was able to just clearly know what I'm meant to do with my life…

Honestly, the amount of discouragement we can feel in a day (at least in my personal experience), can be overwhelming and emotionally exhausting.
Add in the role of social media - which I am just as guilty of using as the next person - and how it can portray the perfection that does not really exist in our lives. Instagram displays the perfection we wish our lives truly were. It hits every perfect angle, smoothed over with the perfect filter, finished with the perfect I-just-thought-of-this-brilliantly-witty caption.
In reality, my life is nowhere near the depiction my photos display on Instagram and Facebook.
Despite knowing this tiny fact in my own life, I still see all the gorgeous posts of people I admire on social media and I find myself feeling like a failure… wondering why their life is perfectly in order - perfect job, a bajillion likes and supportive comments, perfect husband, perfect life - while mine still feels mundane and lacking.

Depressing thoughts, huh? 
Well… these thoughts and discouragement try to bring me down on a daily basis, and while I sometimes succumb to them, I find myself constantly clinging to the goodness of Jesus.
I may be a late-bloomer in figuring out my life, but I am serving the King of the universe right now. I am sporadic and filled with many different desires that constantly want to pull me in various directions, but the consistency I find in my Jesus calms my heart and anchors me to His will.
I may not be succeeding or winning according to the world's standards, but I am right where Jesus has called me to be for now, and that is enough - I am succeeding in His eyes.
I may feel desire-less from time to time, unloveable… but then I remember God desired me enough to send His Son to die for me. He loves me more than anyone in this world could even attempt to love me.
I feel like a wandering soul, unsure of my future… but Jesus reminds me that my life is in His hands, and He has the most beautiful, amazing life set for me… I just need to take it one day at a time.

So, if you're feeling lame or like a failure today - whether you believe in Him or not - Jesus finds you to be beautiful, amazing, and loves you more than you can imagine. You are something extraordinary. You are more than enough. You are amazing. You are fierce and lovely. If discouragement is trying to weigh you down today, just remind yourself that you are a beautiful masterpiece - someone created you with a purpose, and He sees you as stunningly beautiful.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Homemade Chicken + Veggie Noodle Soup

Hello Blogger-world… it's been quite a while.
What have I been up to in my [blogging] absence…?
I had decided to go back to school full-time, taking on five hefty classes, while concurrently working full-time… needless to say, I barely had time for sleeping and showers with my crazy schedule.
It was hard.
Then June came…
June is one of my absolute favorite, anticipatory months ever, not for the weather as most would think, but because it is the month that we go to Vajta, Hungary.
If you don't know me personally, and maybe even if you do know me somewhat, you very well might not know the love I have for Vajta. Although I have prevented myself from going to Vajta a few times for heart reasons, it is a place I hold very dear… it is a piece of my heart.
Every June, the ministry that I am a part of, that I work in, goes to Vajta for the Foundations conference - a conference where missionaries (specifically the leaders and their families) from eastern Europe come to be refreshed and renewed, and we (the children's ministry, where I work) get the amazing opportunity to watch their children while they go to study.
This year was very exciting for me personally since I hadn't seen some of my missionary friends since 2012, and getting to see how big some of the littles had gotten, and how fun their personalities were. I also was able to finally meet a sweet little baby I had been wanting to meet but had only seen in Facebook pictures... and instantly fell in love with her. 
The biggest downside to this missions trip for me (although it never once ruined this trip) was the cold I caught. Health overall, actually, was my biggest hardship this trip. On the second leg of the flight there, I ended up getting "air-sick" according to the flight attendant. Then by Wednesday night, I had a painful bug bite on the back of my head and a very raw, sore throat. In the morning, the bite had calmed down, but the sore throat became very painful. By the end of the day, I knew a cold was forming. I ended the last night (on Friday) with a fever and full blown cold.
Regardless, I was so thankful for the time I was able to spend with all my friends around me, and connecting with older acquaintances and seeing Jesus answer prayers.
After the conference, the team and I went to Vienna… which a stunningly beautiful, and culturally rich city… but it is a little hard to fully soak in when you are quite sick. But I am thankful for every moment I spent on this trip, with people who inspire and encourage me - sick or not, this trip was so amazing and eye- and heart-opening. I'll add photos of Vajta in a separate post...
Budapest - Parliament at night

So, how does this post relate to the title, you ask? 
(sorry for rambling… my mom says I've always been a chatter-box since I was a child)
Flying home was pretty harsh with the cold, and not eating to prevent air-sickness… after landing and eventually getting home, I stayed awake for a few hours, but then was able to really sleep for quite a while. Yesterday was the first full day home, and I ended up waking up with a stomach bug (this post makes me sound like I have no immune system, but I promise, this is not common at all)…
I knew I wanted a comforting soup to eat for dinner… the only problem, we didn't have any soup in the cupboards. So I started scouring the kitchen for ingredients to make a soup from scratch and was so excited when I found chicken thighs in the freezer, and some yummy veg in the fridge. 
The pasta was not much of a concern since we always have pasta available in our house…
I didn't follow a recipe, just my instinct and past experience when I use to make the sickies soup in bible college in York. So, you can follow my "recipe" or tweak it to meet your preferences… have fun with it, and enjoy this delicious soup.

Homemade Chicken + Veggie Noodle Soup

First, fill your pot almost 3/4 full with water, then add the chicken and some olive oil
Bring to a boil, and lower temp so it maintains a simmer (low boil). Chop and add your onion. Add your seasonings. Add the lid, but don't put the lid on completely, leave just a sliver of the lid off so the soup can "breathe"… you can't really tell in my low-quality photo, but it is slightly tilted so it's not on completely...

Allow the broth to simmer for an hour. Then pull out the chicken, and de-skin and de-bone the meat, making sure to clean it as you go - my thighs (chicken, that is) had some grody bits I discarded. Shred the clean meat and set aside in a clean bowl, and cover. Some people agree and disagree on this part, but I put the large leg bone back in the broth to simmer for another 30 minutes. Add more seasonings according to taste, and keep tasting the broth as the soup progresses, adding (or not adding) seasonings according to your taste preference.

After 30 minutes, add all the chopped veggies and let simmer again for about another 30-40 minutes
Add seasonings according to taste.
I added a little lemon juice and tapatio at this point (emphasis on "little" since flavors, especially spice, bloom as food cooks and marinates… gage it according to your spice preference). Spice can oddly be really good for an upset stomach and clearing out a cold.

Since I wasn't sure when my uncle would be home for dinner, I took the soup off the heat, placed the lid on, and waited till I knew he was close to add the noodles and place the soup back on the heat.

Once noodles are soft, or according to your taste/preference, serve it up piping hot with some garlic toast and lemon water (that's how I like it at least, but enjoy it any way that fits your fancy :) ).
And enjoy the deliciousness you just created!

"Recipe" (quotations since it wasn't really specific):
5 chicken thighs
1 green bell pepper
1 onion
1 head broccoli
3 carrots
1 box pasta
Olive Oil
Sea salt
[Hungarian] Paprika 
Lemon Juice
Garlic powder
21 Season Salute (from Trader Joe's)
And any other seasoning you may want/like