It's So Easy a Child Can Do It!

Author: Tara // Category:

This is just a little video to remind you that anyone can bake. If a child can do it, so can you! Get inspired and bake something! Have a wonderful day and remember to keep baking!

The Bake-Off

Author: Tara // Category:

Baking can always be fun, but have you ever considered the fact that it can be even more fun when you get other people involved? Challenge is always a good thing, in fact, most people grow up with various challenges in their lives. From dealing with difficult people to running in a marathon, our lives are filled with everyday opportunities to push ourselves.

Baking is no exception. A great way to test your skills and have a lot of fun is to have a bake-off, whether it be with friends, family members, or even total strangers. This small amount of competition can really push you to become a unique and great baker. Throughout my baking experiences, I have had many competitions. In fact, I was involved in a brownie baking competition a little more than two weeks ago with one of my close friends. It was tons of fun and it really pushed me to try new things within brownie baking.

This is something that is easy to do. Most likely you know someone who bakes, but even if you don't, there are most likely listing in your local newspaper for local baking competitions. The best part is, you get to use your creativity and most likely get some tips from other bakers...after the competition is over of course. It is a great way to learn and become inspired. As always, have a wonderful day and remember to keep baking!

Be Festive for the Holidays

Author: Tara // Category:

St. Patrick's Day has already passed, but Easter is not far away. When everyone thinks of holidays, they typically think of celebrations....and eating! Holidays are a great time to bake for family and friends and use your creativity in your baking. Decorating your baked goods is festive and fun!

For a Halloween party I hosted, I made cupcakes, frosted them and then put pretzel sticks in the side of the cupcakes, with red hot candies on top of the cupcakes. In 5 minutes, my ordinary cupcakes turned into festive Halloween spiders. They were a big hit at the party and almost every guest ate one. This creativity is easily attainable by using your own imagination; however, if you are not particularly creative, magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens or Homemakers can give you easy, holiday decorating tips for baking.

The great part of baking is that you can do pretty much anything you would like. If you choose to make a cake with a giant Easter egg on it, you can do it! When it comes to decorating, feel free to do anything that inspires you. Again, have a wonderful day and remember to keep baking!

Healthy Dessert?!

Author: Tara // Category:
One of my biggest flaws when it comes to dessert is that I can never pick just one. The temptation to pick up another dessert, after already eating two cupcakes,is too hard to withstand. Instead of limiting myself and swearing off buffets in fear that they might have a dessert table, I have decided to start baking with low-calorie baking ingredients. There are substitutions for almost every ingredient. The sugar used to make cookies can always be substituted by using Splenda; the cream cheese used to make cheesecakes can be substituted by fat-free cream cheese. There are hundreds of ways to get the pound cake with out gaining a pound. This is a much better substitute than to give up desserts altogether. In fact, my favorite dessert always includes chocolate. From chocolate cake to a chocolate ice cream, I can not get enough of this sweet treat. The great part about chocolate is that it can go with nearly anything. Some of my favorite low-calorie chocolate desserts actually include healthy fruit in them. Chocolate-covered strawberries are healthy, yet can provide that chocolate fix for the chocolate lover. Here is a simple recipe for chocolate covered strawberries from Fat Cooking:

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Strawberries and chocolate: what a glorious combination. Surprise your sweetheart with a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries after your Valentine's meal or serve some as a light summertime dessert.

* 1 pound of medium-sized whole strawberries
* 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Microwave chocolate in a glass bowl, stopping after 30 seconds, then every 10 seconds until almost melted. Stir until smooth and glossy. Wash strawberries and pat them dry (any moisture from the fruit will spoil the texture of the melted chocolate).

Dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate, covering the lower half of the strawberry. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Per Strawberry: Calories 48, Calories from Fat 18, Calories from Fat 2g (sat 1.1g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 0mg. Carbohydrate 6.8g, Fiber 1.1g, Protein 0.5

The possibilities are endless. Do your own experimenting. Try bananas with chocolate or any other fruit imaginable. The world is now your chocolate-covered oyster.

Eating healthy desserts does not have to stop there. One of my favorite desserts growing up was strawberry shortcake. This dessert is easy and anyone can do it. All you have to do is either bake or buy a low-fat pound cake, cut it into pieces and then slice strawberries and serve the cake with strawberries on top. It can be topped with whipped cream or even sugar. Another healthy dessert is jello or yogurt with fruit in it. It tastes great and is a healthier option than probably anything else on the dessert market.

Again, experiment with your baking and your dessert eating. You can eat anything you want as long as you monitor the contents of of your desserts. Any piece of fruit has the potential to become a new dessert favorite. Have a wonderful day and remember to keep baking.

Lessons Learned from a Dessert Disaster

Author: Tara // Category:
I've been baking since I can remember. Many children start in the kitchen early, not seriously, but putting sprinkles on top of the cookies that their mom or dad baked. My earliest baking experience was helping bake cookies. Every year, as Christmas rolled around, it was time to bake 3 dozen batches of cookies, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. I would put on my little blue and white plaid apron that my Grandma made me in order to match my Mom's. Then the baking would begin. She would hand me the cookies and I would dip the ends in melted chocolate and then roll them in sprinkles or walnuts, and then gently place them on the wax paper.

At this point, the title of this post probably seems a little misleading. You're probably wondering how dipping cookies into chocolate and sprinkles ended in disaster. Well, the trouble did not start with cookie baking, but stemmed from my love of baking. My Dessert Disaster happened when I decided to bring a little culture to a small town in Pennsylvania. As a large fan of the Mexican culture, I decided to make Fried Plantains. I've never attempted to make this cultured dish, but my baking experience was telling me that as long as I followed the recipe, nothing could go horribly wrong. Well, that wasn't the case and in turn I had a huge cleanup of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Ok, that being said, lets take a look at where I went wrong. First I added the butter to the pan as the recipe said. No problems there, despite a little burning of butter; however, I quickly remedied the situation and turned down the burner heat. Next, I delicately cut the plantain skin in 3 pieces, narrowly avoiding cutting my finger. I peeled the plantain and dropped it into the pan. I cooked the plantains until golden on one side and then flipped them and sprinkled the brown sugar and cinnamon on them. Then to my surprise, the sugar actually started to caramelize, like it was supposed to. I cooked them until I thought they were done and then placed them on a plate, ready to eat! It was at that first bite that I knew something had gone horribly wrong. I put the "dessert" in my mouth and found to my dismay that it tasted like a raw potato with cinnamon and brown sugar on top. I then served it to my roommate who spit it out in the garbage.

This dessert experience couldn't have been more of a failure. After feeling bad for having wasted food and the taste buds of my roommate, I found the silver lining. This was an important learning experience and from this point on, whenever making fried plantains, I will always keep the burner heat low, and keep the plantains in the pan until they are finally done. That being said, you now know what mistakes to avoid, yet I don't want to leave you hanging so here is a video for fried plantains in case you are feeling daring today. Have a wonderful day and remember to keep baking!