Monday, April 23, 2012

Chocolate Craisin Cookies!

Yes, I know it's not glass.  ;)  Baking is another thing I'm passionate about.  I thought I'd start sharing that here as well.

Let me start out by saying that this is not my recipe.  I took the recipe from a bag of unbleached white whole wheat flour from king arthur flour and made ONE substitution, I traded cranberries and replaced them with craisins.

OMG, these are the BEST cookies.  They taste even better the next day IF you can get them to last that long.  The original recipe states this makes two dozen cookies but we (DD and I baked them together) ended up with about thirty.

The juxtaposition of the tartness of the craisins and orange juice (see below) against the chocolate is just divine.  Have you ever had those chocolate oranges?  Yeah, that.  Only better.

Before I post the recipe I would like to say that I use mostly King Arthur Flour in all my baking and have for over 20 years.  I order online and if you get the newsletter frequently they have sales, free shipping, etc.  I don't use it because I work for them or get a kickback.  I use their products simply because in my experience they are the best.  If I'm going to work hard in the kitchen I want good results so my tip to you is if you can afford a bit extra, get the best.  Of course you can always do like I did here and make substitutions for similar products, that's what cooking is all about after all.  Just like glass, the joy is in experimentation.  Pull the craisins and use raisins or any chopped up dried fruit.  Ditch the chocolate and use M&Ms for more kid friendly fare.  Ditch the walnuts and use crushed almonds, etc.  You get the idea.

Don't let the small amount of flour fool you either, that's not a typo.  These are dense goodie filled cookies.  All the amounts below are correct.  I would link you back the recipe at King Arthur's website (which, BTW, is a great source for TONS of amazing recipes) but for some reason they don't have this one posted online.  In the recipe below I'll link to the KAF products I used in my cookies.

                                               Cranberry-Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup (1stick) unsalted butter (if you are using salted butter omit the addition of salt below)
3/4 cup packed light OR dark brown sugar (I had dark, that's what I used)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 large egg
1 and 1/4 cups  white whole wheat flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (this chocolate is the bomb diggity, just sayin')
1 cup dried cranberries (I substituted craisins)
3/4 cups chopped pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts)

*NOTE - This is a dump n go recipe however I did want to say that I always always measure all my dry ingredients into a bowl, whisk them, and then add them to the wet ingredients.  Why?  Because when I married my husband I couldn't boil water.  I had to learn everything from scratch (and no internet, I envy you girls now, really).  In some ancient tome of a french cookbook I found cheap (we're talking the copyright date was 1930, lol) the author stressed when baking always mix the dry ingredients then add the wet because this allows you to mix the salt, baking powder, baking soda, etc. completely into the dough and that is important because you want your baked goods to rise properly and you don't want someone biting into a glob of baking soda or salt.  As Mr. Honey Badger would say, that's just nasty.

That said, here are the recipe directions exactly as they appear on the bag.  That's another thing about cooking.  Just because someone else says it's supposed to be this way that doesn't mean you have to do it like they did.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper

In a large bowl cream together the butter, sugar, orange juice, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat in the egg until combined: scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.  Add the flour, mixing until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks, cranberries, and nuts.  Drop by the tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes (for me, it was 13 minutes) until just beginning to brown around the edges (they won't look set in the center, that's okay).  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan (if you can freakin' wait that long, the smell is TDF).

Fight off children, significant others, and agressively whining dachshunds.  ;)

Yield:  2 dozen cookies

Calorie Count:  Seriously?  Not bad for one cookie, insane for six, how's that?  lol

Thanks for reading and watch for more cooking from me on Pinterest.  I'm astridboyce there if you want to follow me.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Supporting Cast

New made to order beads (go to the 'MTO lampwork beads sets' section of my Etsy store to find them).  My listings state that my lead time is currently 5 days but depending on my workload smaller orders often ship within two days.


I love color.  Anyone who follows my work knows that I am a freak for color.

However there are times when you have some amazing stone like amazonite or you have found or created gorgeous pieces in gold or silver and you don't need the addition of color but rather texture is what you want.

That is why I've created a supporting cast for you.  :)

These beads have a high refractive index and with the defined ridges whatever you place next to them will play through the clear glass with some amazing results depending on the materials used.  Try enamelled metal or polished silver for lots of bling.  For a more subtle streamlined design try pairing these with sodalite or beach glass for a subtle summery look.

I plan to do some experimentation this week and if it's successful I'll be offering these in an etched version for a small price increase.

On a more personal note I found stumbleupon.  I DO NOT have time for this, LOL!  Seriously though it is just as fun as Pinterest and I've spent too much time today stumbling and pinning all sorts of amazing art.

I'm Astrid Boyce on both apps if you want to come and find/follow me.  Need a Pinterest invite?  Convo me through my Etsy shop and I'll send you one!  You need to have a facebook account but that is really easy to set up.  I did a superquick search on youtube and found a how to set up a facebook account. video for you.  I only watched the first couple of minutes as this is not entertaining, lol, but it is basic and it looks like a good walkthrough.


Now hurry up and send me photos of your work so I can share them here! :)


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What have you been doing busy little bee?

ACtually, I have been a very busy little bee.  :)


I recently sent 14 big hole beads (or european charm beads) to the artists give program at Beads of Courage.  This is consignment and 50% of each sale goes to benefit the beads of courage program which helps children with cancer to mark their journey to recovery.  If you aren't in the market for my beads there is so much amazing work by other contributing glass, polymer clay, and jewelry artists you really should check out in the main gallery.  Please consider purchasing or even contributing beads you no longer need/want to the Beads of Courage program.  They can use anything you can spare and it will make you feel good.  We all love to feel good, right?  ;)

Since my last post I took a long look at my artistic, personal, and professional goals and it was my conclusion that it was time to turn up the heat, as it were.  You will find new beads added to my Etsy two and sometimes three times a day now Monday through Friday (and sometimes on the weekends although my husband and my pets frown on that - last night I came in from the studio at about 11pm and was assaulted by pets when I flopped down on the couch.  They're a needy bunch, lol).

Here are some of my current shop offerings:







I've also been doing quite a bit of made to order work, here are some of my most popular styles:






.....aaaaaand, I have new sets cooling in the kiln as I type.

You can also find my tool and product reviews over at things crafty.  My most recent post there had to do with the creation of this necklace:


......and the prior post was a review of a book that helped me to create these two bracelets for myself and my daughter:



As my cat would say when she stalks the poor random cricket that accidentally strays into the house, "I has a plan".  You can also look for more frequent updates to be happening here as well.  Here's to workin' it!  There may not be enough hours in the day but I'm much happier when I'm busy (especially when I'm busy doing what I love).  Until the next time I hope you get busy doing something you love too.  My dachshund Andi and my three kitties Pi, Baby, and Sophie send you much furry love.  <3