Friday, August 28, 2015


If you follow this blog you will know that each month I make the dessert for the Alzheimer's Idaho (local grassroots organization) support group meeting the last Friday of the month.  These wonderful caregivers just deserve the best and I try my best to make them something really good for dessert.  This month they will be getting this big "wow factor" Cookie Dough (the dough is safe to eat NO EGGS) Ice Cream Layer Cake.  The recipe is not hard but I would not recommend it for the first time dessert maker.  Really it just takes time and maybe some concentration but then there is a great outcome.  I am eager to hear from the girls as to how it tasted.
I will give you the recipe below but through photographs try and streamline the process.....First is the ice cream.  You can do this with just one layer of ice cream but I was going for more of a "wow" factor so I chose two layers.  This is best if done the day before you want to put the cake together. I used about one and a half cartons of ice cream (this is one of the brands that is no longer a 1/2 gallon).  It is important to use non-stick aluminum wrap. 
Using the spring form pan as a guide I just drew around the pan and then cut out (4) circles.
Place one circle on the bottom of the pan (be sure and read which side is the non-stick) added a layer of ice cream, then a non-stick down and then another nonstick up and then the second layer of ice cream and finally the last non stick foil on the top.  Into the freezer for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight.  You will be so happy that you used the non-stick foil when you have to quickly work to put the cake together before it starts melting and you have to get it back into the freezer.
The two cakes baked and ready for layering....
Once the cookie dough, frosting and the cakes are made and the ice cream frozen time to put it all together.  Be sure and have everything that you will need to put this together all organized because you have to work fast to get it all done and ready to go back into the freezer.  If you do the two layers this is a very big dessert and will need a big area in the freezer.
Here is the finished product - I took one picture and then it was off to the freezer until it was time to deliver.


Two cartons vanilla bean ice cream - will us about 1 1/2 cartons

  • For the Cake
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter (for greasing the cake pans)
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease two nonstick, 9-inch cake pans with butter. Lightly flour the pans, shaking out any excess.
  •  In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together sugars and oil using paddle attachment.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated. In two batches alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk (starting and ending with the dry ingredients).  Mix until incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.  There should be no lumps.  Stop the mixer, add the vanilla bean paste, and the vanilla extract. Mix one last time to incorporate. Divide the batter into the cake pans, filling them about halfway. Place the cake pans on a sheet tray and into the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  • For the Edible Cookie Dough 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and sugars. Beat until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture, mix until well combined.  Stir in mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight, and until ready to use.
  • For the Frosting
  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Beat butter and brown sugar in standing mixer with paddle attachment. Mix in the powdered sugar, and beat until smooth.  Beat in the flour and salt, mixing well. Add milk and vanilla, until smooth and fluffy.  If the frosting is too thick, add splashes of extra milk. Then, add the chilled, edible cookie dough balls. Stir gently to incorporate.  

To assemble the cake:

Working quickly, either onto a plate or I chose a cardboard cake round, place the first ice cream round (if only doing one ice cream round start with and end with cake) put some frosting and some of the cookie dough on the top of the ice cream, place the first cake and frost top and add some of the cookie dough, then repeat ice cream, frost cookie dough and cake.  On the second layer of cake heavily top with frosting and the last of the cookie dough.  Now, working as fast as you can frost the rest of the cake.  You don't have to but I put some of the frosting in a pastry bag with a star tip and ran the stars around the bottom and then around the top and on the top of the cake I placed a malted milk ball in each frosting star.  Now, back into the freezer for overnight if possible.  

When ready to serve let the cake sit out for 30 minutes.

Thank you for stopping by.






Monday, August 24, 2015


If you follow this blog you will know that I LOVE Annie Sloan chalk paint and waxes.  They are WONDERFUL, easy to use and you are guaranteed a great end product every time - or at least that is my experience.  The downside is that Annie Sloan can be hard to find and it is expensive.
I was very excited when not only Home Depot but hobby stores started carrying Americana Decor paint and waxes and was eager to try them as they are a fraction of the cost of the Annie Sloan products and at the hobby stores if they are not on sale you can usually find a coupon.  I tried the paint previously and found it to be OK but had not tried the wax.
 Since I had a very simple project to do I thought it would be a good time to try the wax and to also try Webster's Chalk Paint Powder. This candlestick is part of a set of five from Frontgate and I tend to paint them whatever color I happen to need at the time.

Since this was a small project decided to try the sample of Websters that was given to me at Enchanting Objects.  Very easy to use - purchase any color you like of flat latex paint, then add the powder and mix well and voila you have chalk paint.  The sample makes one cup - way more than enough to do several candlesticks or a small project.  I chose a Paris white.  The chalk paint was lovely, went on like a dream, dried quickly and I do not hesitate to recommend this product - the best thing is that you just go to your local paint store and pick out the color you want, add the chalk powder and your are ready to paint.  For me that is big because there is only one vendor in Idaho that sells Annie Sloan and it is in Bonner's Ferry - the opposite end of the state from where I live - many hours away so I always have to pay shipping for my paint and products.
 If you have never used the waxes before the purpose of the wax is to not only (in the case of the dark wax) give your project an antique look but it gives a lovely finish to your product.  Had this been a wooden item I would have first put on a clear wax, then rub with a cotton cloth, let it dry for an hour or so and then add the dark wax.  Because this is some type of a composite I just did the dark wax.  The red candlestick had been painted and waxed with the Annie Sloan products and it was easy, fast and I think looked great. I was very disappointed with this product - it was not easy to work with and I do not like the way it looks and this is after I rubbed and rubbed and rubbed until my arms hurt just trying to make it look OK.  I have another project coming up where I am using Annie Sloan dark wax and when I do I will try and salvage this candlestick - if that does not work I will paint it again and wax with Annie Sloan.  There may be a place for this product but it is not something I will use again.

I did set the candlestick with two others in front of my fireplace - the lighting is not great there so it looks OK but I know what it looks like so will try and fix.  When I do I will post a photo of the candlestick after I wax it again.


Webster's Chalk Paint Powder, Link
If you live in the Boise area Webster's Chalk Paint Powder is available at Enchanting Objects on State Street along with the waxes they use.

Thank you for stopping by. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Two weekends ago I had the pleasure of going back to Enchanted Objects antique store in Boise with some dear friends.  I pointed out a rather large old and dirty toolbox to one of my friends saying "that would make a great herb garden." My friend passed but I did not feel comfortable getting the toolbox just in case she changed her mind.  We left without the toolbox and I returned the next day they were open and made the purchase.
So here it is - marked down from thirty-something to $24 and I saw potential and an easy job - turned out to take a little longer than anticipated.
 I had hubby remove the two "built ins" one was for pliers and screwdrivers and not sure what the other one was for but they were both removed. This "little" job took awhile and I had plenty of time to think about the original owner of the toolbox - I could just see it full of tools and every work morning the man who made this for his tools, might have his coffee and then toss the heavy (it is big and had to be very heavy when filled with tools) in an old Ford pick-up and head off to work.  I think that is the magic of re-purposing old items, wondering about the story they would tell if they could speak to us.
Time for power tools - as in power washer - the toolbox was sitting outside and was filled with dirt and leaves.
After a good washing outside, ready to line it with heavy plastic.

I bought a quart of flat latex and chose Paris white - I knew it had a lot of gray in the color but was OK with that.  I used the Websters Chalk Paint powder and mixed with a cup of the paint (sample size is good for a cup) and painted my toolbox.
 I loved the way the chalk paint went on the wood and will use this product again but I was not prepared for the BLUE - the paint sample was a gray white NOT blue. So I painted it again with Annie Sloan Antique White.
These round brushes designed for chalk paint and waxes are so worth the money as they make the job so much easier.  The brush loads up with a lot of paint but does not drip.  The brush in the photo is an Annie Sloan brush ($) but I have used for a few years and just make sure to carefully clean the brush with Dawn dish washing liquid - it takes the wax out too. I just sent for a couple of brushes and some new wax to try - much less expensive and if they work, I will do a post with a link to the seller on Ebay.
After the second coat of chalk paint dried I mixed a little black latex paint with a little white to make the black not so stark black and carefully stenciled "Herbs."  When stenciling I like to use the little round foam brushes from any craft store and always have some cardboard near so as to tap off the paint after dipping with the sponge brush - you never want a lot of paint on the sponge.
I then used a sanding block and hand sanded the letters and around the sides a little and then off to the shop where I took a small round electric hand sander and went all around the edges and the top.
Not done yet - time for the finish.  First a coat of clear wax.
We keep a bag of old tee shirts and socks from Hubby in the shop and my favorite way to polish the wax is with my hand in an old sock.  Apply the wax with a brush and then rub, rub, rub with a soft cloth (or sock).  Let it dry for a while and then ready to add the dark wax the same way.  With the base of the clear wax is you apply too much of the dark wax it is easily removed by just rubbing on a little of the clear again and then wiping to remove the excess dark wax.

Now it was time for the "easy" part - getting terra cotta pots, saucers and my herbs.  Well as it turns out not so easy - I made a few phone calls and the answer was the same "sorry, it's fall and we no longer have herbs or veggies, we will be closing our garden area soon."  Guess that is what happens when you live in an area where the winters can be a little harsh.  I finally found a local place who said they still had herbs.  When I got there they did but they were yellow, half dead and were things that we did not eat and I definitely had a list of herbs that I wanted for this indoor herb garden.
Thanks to Mr. Google I found this WONDERFUL place in Boise. They didn't just have herbs, they had an herb greenhouse and every herb on my list. A really great place that is now on my list of great places you can count on to carry lovely plants - they even had David Austin roses - be still my heart.
The finished product, thanks to the waxes, it is so smooth and I have just the perfect place in front of a window in my kitchen for this little garden.  I used 6" pots and saucers and like I said I lined the box with thick plastic.  I thought about 4" pots after I got home and realized that my winter thyme would have to be in a pot outside the container but after sleeping on it decided that it was more important for the plants to have some growing room than to all fit in the box.  I also had a bag of gray moss to put around the containers but the pots come up too high for that so here it is, as is - I am so happy with having these herbs near me when I cook.

There is sage, two types of chives, garlic and regular, African basil which I have not grown before but I think it is maybe a little less pungent and a little more fragrant than regular basil, curly parsley and on the side winter thyme.

The sage is not just for poultry - one of the things it is so wonderful with is our take on something we buy when in Canada - maple caramelized onions or as they call it - maple confit - it is a little pricey for a small jar so I like to make it (just slice and caramelize onions in a big pan with some olive oil, a little butter, some pure maple syrup and if you like a dash of balsamic vinegar) add toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh sage.  A great appetizer on toasted baguette with maybe a little shaved Parmesan on top or not.  Or leave out the nuts and just use on burgers, etc. just a top notch condiment and very versatile.


Old toolboxes are not hard to find at antique stores, etc., they come in all sizes and materials - you just have to go on the hunt.
Annie Sloan paints and brushes, at speciality stores and online
Webster's Chalk Paint Powder, Link

Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, August 17, 2015


We recently installed the last drapery item that was needed in our home - a very long (about 150") cornice over the drapes in our master bedroom.  Since that was finally accomplished I thought a little refresh of the room was in order.  My mind was willing but my budget said "going on three week vacation soon, better use what you have."
It is a nice size room with a brown/gray plaster walls, dark furniture, with white molding. The deer (the sticks were mine) is the first thing I ever ordered from Antique Farmhouse and I love him!
Large chests for bedside tables and gold accent lamps...the burlap shades make them more traditional.
Even though the tray ceiling wallpaper is gold the room is not elegant, other items pick up the gold but the room is really traditional in decor.
King size bed, very simple.  I found the Vera Wang (not Kohl's) gray bedspread and was thrilled because it is 100% cotton which I prefer for bedding - like the feel and easy to wash. The bedskirt is a gun metal gray.
Decided I liked the look of pintuck and since it is so popular now it is available everywhere from Macy's to Target to Bed Bath & Beyond, to to Walmart at a whole wide array of items included and price from $39 up.  All I wanted was two king size pillow shams and the bedspread. After shopping and looking at my options to my surprise I decided on the Better Homes & Gardens set at  It was on sale with free shipping and the total cost with tax was below $50 which was about a fourth of what I thought I would have to pay even on sale.  All of these items will be a little wrinkled and all I did was put them (individually) in the dryer with some extra dryer sheets and let the wrinkles come out - after you put on the bed they will continue to come out - you could use a steamer too.  I used the old bedspread at the foot of the bed and pillows I already had on the bed.  Very reasonable freshen up for the master bedroom. The white color lightens up the room.  Hubby is upcountry today - hope he likes this when he comes home. Bottom line is that the room looks updated and fresh for less than $50, using a little new and things I already had.


Pintuck bedspread & king cases, Better Homes & Gardens, Walmart, Link, looks like they are out of king size, might have in store.
Lamps, HomeGoods
Side Table Chests, Link
Ceramic Deer, Antique Farmhouse
Frog design rectangle pillow and gray bedspread, Vera Wang
Long tassel, Tuesday Morning
Custom pillows on bed, fabric is Ikat design linen/rayon, Bedazzle by Waverly

Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Last jam of the season (unless I see a new recipe or some wonderful fruit I cannot resist).  Strawberry is hubbies favorite and when I saw this recipe on Food in Jars, my favorite canning blog I just knew I would be making this recipe for small batch jam.
 A really simple recipe, with just a few ingredients....
 The little box chopper is just about my favorite kitchen gadget - I have two different size Cuisinart's and other items but this little inexpensive chopper works so well, easy to clean and gives such a great product.  For the strawberries after they were washed and hulled I just cut them in half and let the chopper dice them.
The berries need to macerate for a few hours with half the sugar and the seeds of two vanilla beans and then the bean pods themselves. I have a wonderful local source for vanilla products including the most supple and wonderful beans and he ships. The beans are only $1.00 each. I will post a link in resources.
Cover with a kitchen towel....
When making the jam, this recipe has no pectin and relies on the natural pectin in the fruit so you must reach that magic number of 240°.
Let them sit on a towel after you have processed them in a water bath.
Ready for a label...

This was my yield plus a partial jar I did not process just put into the fridge and hubby says this may be a new favorite.


 Small Batch Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam

  • 1 quart strawberries (a little over 1 1/2 pounds, should be approximately 4 cups of chopped berries) ((I had a little more than the 1 1/2 pounds so I used them but did not increase anything else)).
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  1. Wash and chop berries. Toss them with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla beans/seeds and place in a large jar or bowl.
  2. Allow the berries to macerate for at least 2-3 hours and up to 72 hours.
  3. When you're ready to make the jam, prepare three half pint jars. (my jars are 8.5 ounces and my yield was 4 + a small portion in one more)
  4. Pour macerated strawberries into a large pot and add the remaining cup of sugar.
  5. Bring to a boil and cook until the jam reaches 220 degrees, stirring very regularly.
  6. Add the lemon zest and juice in the final 5 minutes of cooking.
  7. Once the jam has reached 220 degrees, remove the pan from the heat.
  8. Pour jam into your prepared jars.
  9. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in your canning pot for 10 minutes, once the water returns to a boil.
  10. When time is up, remove jars from canning pot and let them cool on a towel-lined counter top.
  11. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check seals.
  12. If any jars are not sealed, store them in the fridge and use them first.
  13. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place.

Bormioli Rocco canning jars, Bormioli Rocco Quattro Stagioni 5 Ounce Canning Jar, Set of 12
Recipe from Food in Jars Blog, Link

Canning/candy thermometor, Polder THM-515 Candy/Jelly/Deep Fry Thermometer, Stainless Steel
Vanilla products, including beans, Link 
Veggie Chopper,Vidalia Chop Wizard

Thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


On Monday I heard the familiar sound of a text coming into my iPhone.  I picked it up and my nine year old grand-daughter, Belle (Isabelle Grace) had borrowed her mom's phone and here is the text string:

Belle: Hi it's Belle can I bake with you tomorrow, emoticon,  emoticon, emoticon

Belle: Hello?

Grammie: Tmmrw not good, how about Wednesday morning? What do you want to bake?

Belle: Sure and vanilla bean cupcake topped with marshmallow frosting and a strawberry! emoticon, emoticon

Grammie: Be here @10:00.

This eight year old knows what she wants and I think she thinks her Grammie can bake anything, lol.  We baked her request!
 Of course the cupcake papers needed to be PINK!
And even though we all know we are NOT supposed to eat raw eggs, it is a time honored part of baking with Grammie to lick the paddle!
The strawberries have been so beautiful lately.....

24 lovely vanilla bean cupcakes with marshmallow frosting, just as ordered!
It's not all fun and games, somebody has to do the clean up - here is Belle with the little stick vacuum getting rid of some errant flour that hit the floor.
Belle and her Poppa sat down to some milk and a cupcake....
We tucked one in the fridge for Poppa's dessert tonight and the other 21 went home with Belle.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes:

Pre-heat oven to 350°


2 fresh vanilla beans, cut in half length-wise
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups AP flour, preferably King Arthur
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature


Scrape vanilla bean seeds and place in a bowl, add the bean, then cover with 3/4 cup milk and place in the microwave and cook for 1-2 minutes on high temp, until boiling.  Remove the bean and let the liquid cool for about 15 minutes. Add remaining milk to warm milk mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and 1/2t salt. In your mixing bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds.  Gradually add the sugar, beating after each addition.  Then beat for two more minutes, till nice and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture until all blended. Fill your 24 cupcake cups and bake for approximately 18 minutes. Cook the cupcakes before frosting.

Strawberry Marshmallow Frosting:


2 jars of marshmallow creme
3 sticks of softened butter
1/2 cup of powdered sugar (sifted)
1/2 tsp of pure strawberry extract
1-3 drops of red food coloring

Fresh strawberries for garnish, if desired.


In your mixer whip the marshmallow cream until nice and fluffy and then gradually (about 1/4 cube at a time) add the butter until all incorporated.  Whip to combine, then slowly add the powdered sugar and whip until fluffy, then add the strawberry extract and the food coloring - whip until completely combined and fluffy.

Frost your cupcakes and place 1/2 a strawberry in the top of each cupcake.


Small ruffled dessert stand, Pier One
Pure strawberry extract, Link

Thank you for stopping by.