Monday, July 30, 2012

I: Illumination

Below are a few projects playing with lighting that I've make over the past few years.

The Floral Vase

I took a small vase with a cork topper and some small fake white flowers and pushed a few of the stems that were attached into the bottle to lay with the shape of the bottle. Cork it up and let it sit somewhere in front of a light source!

Glow Stick Chain

This "project" was really fun and unanticipated! While at a friend's birthday party we started playing with glowsticks and I linked up a few of the same color into a rainbow chain that could then be twirlled around for good pictures with extended lighting exposure from an open shutter. I ened up keeping the chain for 2 years, adding to it whenever I got more glowsticks and draped it over a mirror for a fun little twist in my dorm room!

Canvas Firework Lamp

This canvas firework lamp was supposed to be an easy and cool pinterest project! Instead, it turned into an exhausting nightmare that just wouldn't go right! 
Take a canvas of any size (I used a 20"x 24"), a strand or two of christmas lights (I used 200 lights), an awl (to poke the wholes, or in my case a leather needle, safety pin, and small phillips head screwdriver, after learning that scissors don't work.) Simple enough, right?
What I didn't take into account was that you have to draw out a pattern on the back to show where your lights will be so you know it will look good. The original source suggested leaving 2 inches of space between each whole, but I definitely ignored that and it turned out just fine in the end with a little maneuvering. I ended up counting and recounting the dots of the drawing at least seven or eight times before thinking I had a correct count because each one was different. After poking all of the wholes, a tedious effort in itself, I discovered that I poked two too many. I'm sure there is some magical trick to healing canvas that I don't know about yet, but I've just let it slide. If you look carefully enough at the photos, you'll see the wholes :(
As if that weren't enough, Once I had maneuvered the mess of twisted christmas light cords through the wholes, I realized that some were slipping out and I had entirely missed other wholes! :( :( Double sad face!
I went back and fixed all of my mistakes and hot glued each individual christmas light on the back to the canvas for good measure. God forbid any of these lights ever crack or burn out...
IF you do attempt to recreate one yourself, make sure to plan carefully so that the wall plug has enough room to reach an outlet from wherever you decide to place your lamp! 
Click for the Inspiration Source

Recycled Negatives Display

I have always loved photography and had boxes of old photos printed from film. I just love the quality that photos get from being printed from film negatives. I found a bunch of negatives from my favorite photos over the years and thought I'd try to find a way to display them. Found an old 8"X10" clear acrylic frame, cut up the negatives into individual slides, lined then up and taped the backs to thin piece of clear plastic from an old calendar clipboard (random item), so that they would stay straight and not fall out. You could probably use a piece of parchment or wax paper, but it won't be as sturdy. Just an idea... You can see the pictures well enough without a backlighting source, but it definitely helps to have light!
The idea stemmed, months ago from a pin of this...

Stick around for more! Thanks! :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

D: Dessert

Chocolate Souffle (recipe below) 

Coconut-Lemon Layer Bars
(recipe below)

Fruit-On-The-Bottom Greek Yogurt Parfait (recipe below) 

Apple Rhubarb Crisp (recipe below)
Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake with Whipped Cream


Chocolate Souffle- Got this recipe from a food prep class. Everyone is always so intimidated by souffle, but it really isn't THAT difficult. The batch from the photo above was left in the oven just a bit too long, due to an error of my own fault, but every other time they have come out perfectly, even in a kitchen that found a way to screw up even the most time-tested recipes.

1.5 oz. butter
3 tbsp. cocoa (or dark cocoa)
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
6 oz. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
& a little extra butter and sugar for the ramekins.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. 
  • Butter 5 souffle ramekins, covering whole inside and top of dish. Coat in sugar, if there isn't butter for the sugar to stick to in certain spots, add butter and sugar. This prevents the souffle from sticking and allows it to rise beautifully.
  • Melt butter and cocoa in a medium bowl over simming water in a small pot. Stir in flour, first 2 tbsp. sugar, and salt using a heat resistant spatula. It will be very thick. 
  • Slowly whisk in milk and place the bowl back on the simmering pot, stirring constantly until it thickens to a creamy consistency. If the chocolate sauce separates, stir in a small amount of water. Stir vanilla into chocolate sauce.
  • Beat egg yolks in another bowl and temper eggs by adding chocolate sauce a little at a time and whisking well into the yolks. Set aside.
  • Beat egg whites to foam,and continue beating until they form soft peaks and then gradually add last 2 tbsp. sugar, beating until peaks fold over. They should be stiff and shiny. 
  • Fold the meringue (beaten egg whites) into the chocolate sauce a third at a time, and pour the mixture into the ramekins and bake. Check after 15 minutes. They should move slightly but be set as a whole.

PROBLEMS OCCUR IF: You wait too long to get the beaten egg whites into the chocolate sauce, and therefore, into the oven. The air beaten into the egg whites is what makes the souffle mixture rise the way it does. If you didn't preheat your oven before preparing the mixture and dishes, they won't rise properly. If you open the over door too frequently or take out the ramekins before the souffle has risen and set, they will fall. Once a souffle has fallen, it does not get back up! They will fall naturally within 10-15 minutes, sometimes sooner, after taking them out of the oven, so serve quickly! And they do well topped with whipped cream!

Coconut-Lemon Layer Bars- recipe from Kitchenaid
2 c. vanilla wafer crumbs (or graham cracker)
6 tbsp. butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. grated lemon peel
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 egg
1 c. white chocolate chips
1 c. sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. chopped macadamia nuts

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  • Stir together vanilla wafer crumbs and butter in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture firmly in the bottom of a 13"x9" baking pan.
  • Place cream cheese, lemon peel, lemon juice, and egg in a mixing bowl and beat on medium-low until smooth. Spread evenly over the crumb mixture.
  • Layer with white chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts; press down firmly.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely and cut. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe supposedly makes 32 bars, but I do not understand how that is even close to accurate. I usually get anywhere from 9-15 bars.

Fruit-On-The-Bottom Greek Yogurt Parfait-
1 c. plain greek yogurt
1/4 tsp. vanilla or other extract
2 tbsp. blueberries or other berry
A few other berries
1 tbsp. almonds
Powdered Sugar (optional)

  • Mash up most of the berries on the bottom of your bowl. 
  • Mix greek yogurt with extract and scoop onto the mashed berries. 
  • Top with leftover berries, almonds, and powdered sugar.

Apple-Rhubarb Crisp-
(As per the reviews, I halved both the white and brown sugar, and it was still very sweet, but not too sweet. I used approximately 2 tsp. of ground cinnamon, a dash of ground nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp. of ground clove. I also used 2 and 1/2 cups of frozen unsweetened rhubarb and two apples chopped into small chunks.) Clicking the link will get you the actual recipe, but below is my rendition, which got rave reviews at my office!

1/2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 c. all-purpose flour (or whole wheat!)
3/4 c. quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 c. melted butter
2 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1 dash ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground clove
2.5 c. sliced rhubarb (frozen or fresh)
1.5 c. sliced apples
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove; mix together until crumbly. Press half of the mixture into a buttered 8"x8" baking dish. Top with sliced rhubarb and apples.
  • In a saucepan, combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla. Cook together until clear and slightly congealed. Pour over rhubarb and apples. Pour remaining crumb mixture on top.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes.
  • Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake with Whipped Cream- (original recipe from My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing)

2 tbsp. butter, softened
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
2 lbs. cream cheese
1.5 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk
4 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1.5 pints blackberries
1 lemon (juice and zest)

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Mix graham cracker crumbs and butter and press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a greased 9" springform pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Then blend in the milk and beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to combine. Mix in the sour cream, flour, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Divide the mixture into two bowls.
  • In a food processor or blender, puree 1 pint of blackberries with the lemon zest and juice. Pour the puree into one bowl of the cheese mixture along with the remaining 1/2 pint of whole blackberries and mix well.
  • Pour the blackberry filling onto the prepared crust. Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and pour the remaining cheese mixture (without blackberry) on top. Return to the oven and bake for 1 hour, until the topping is set.
  • Let cool, and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Cover in whipped cream (recipe below) and fresh blackberries!

Note: Many of the originial recipes do not involve whipped cream, but it is easy enough to make.

Whipped Cream-
Beat heavy whipping cream on high until it starts to fluff a bit, then add powdered sugar to taste and continue whipping on high until it forms stiff peaks (when the whipped cream holds its shape when the beaters are pulled out.)

Other wonderful recipes I've used that don't have pictures:
  • The Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe- it is golden, especially when baked using the instructions found here!
  • This Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe
  • These Fried Mozzarella Sticks
  • Chewy Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies
  • Earl Grey Tea Cookies- my sister is obsessed!
  • Zebra Cake- not only does it look cool, but it tastes incredible! Made this for my cousin's high school graduation party, and it was a huge hit!

Enjoy! And feel free to leave me your recipes. I'd LOVE to try them! :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

My new blog! Ace, Bake, Craft

Hi there!

Thanks for taking precious time out of your day to look at my blog! 

I plan to indulge you in my accomplishments, baked yummies, and craft projects!
I am a junior in college and quite an over achiever. Member of the honors college and two nationally recognized honor societies, Co-Vice Chair for Programming for a university-wide day of community service, a volunteer tutor, part-time event staff, and hoping to become Secretary for a possible new organization. 

I love baking, but I'm a bit of a snob about it. The only things I bake that are not from scratch are brownies, especially marble swirl. :) Yummy! I'm always on the search for new recipes to try!

And, I love crafting. I'm addicted to pinterest, and am fortunate enough to have the time to make some of the crafts that I pin! Many of my posts will be pinterest-inspired, but I will always attempt to link back to my source for the idea, if at all possible. Credit where credit is due! :)

The first few posts will be a sort of archive of the projects I've worked on in the past and I'll post newer crafts, recipes, and cool information as it comes!

To kick off, here's a preview of some of my past work:

Canvas & Christmas Light Lamp
Tiny Pillows
Yes, I made my prom dress

Greek Yogurt and Fresh Fruit
Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake with whipped cream
Whale Stamp

 And, my latest and greatest project... reupholstering this monstrocity...

... into this custom, modern arm chair! Stay tuned!