Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recipe: Royal Wedding Scones

Yes, I am absolutely counting the days until the royal wedding. (It's the day after tomorrow - Friday morning - if you're out of the loop.) I'm not at all ashamed to admit it. In fact, we're planning a lovely Royal Wedding Tea Party to celebrate the grand occasion. Mama Bex, her girls, Ella, and I will be driving to Pequot to join my mom, her sister Bue, and Bue's friend Maureen for a sleep over on the eve of the wedding. It's practically a requirement since the wedding is scheduled to begin at 11am London time, which equals 5am Minnesota time.

What does a Royal Wedding Tea Party entail? Tea, of course, in the very English tradition. I've also been working on hats and a fascinator (not meant to be particularly pretty, mind you), decorating royal cupcakes, and baking scones. Last night I made a lovely recipe fit for an early morning tea party and wanted to share the it, just in case you'd like to make them for your own wedding watching party or just for fun.

The scones can be made in a variety of flavors. A few of my favorite are apricot, cranberry white chocolate, and raspberry. You can easily experiment with different ingredients by changing the cranberries and white chocolate in the recipe below with whatever you would like.

So here is what you'll need:

1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 large egg
6 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a fork or pastry blender until mixture looks like a coarse meal. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate.

apricot mix

3. In a small bowl, beat together egg and cream. Add this to the flour mixture. Stir it all together gently with a fork until the mixture come together. Try not to mix it much more than that. If the dough is too dry, add a splash of heavy cream until it sticks together but isn't too sticky.

4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a circle about 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into equal wedges.

cranberry chocolate

5. Place scones on prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of each scone with heavy cream and sprinkle the tops with sugar.

6. Bake until golden brown, about 15-16 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.


Perfect for watching the Royal Wedding!

cranberry white chocolate


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Week in Cupcakes

Unintentionally, cupcakes were plentiful last week in the Olsen house. I thought I'd share a few of them with you.

This first pink one was actually not completely made at home. I taught my mom and the other ladies at our fun weekend in St Cloud how to decorate a cupcake. As my mom says, you know it's a good cupcake when there is just as much frosting as cake. I couldn't agree more! Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting. And sprinkles, of course.

Here is just one of the quad of cupcakes delivered to our dear neighbors the day before they moved away. Chocolate cupcake with almond frosting.

This is what we took next door. Each was slightly individualized for a specific member of the family.

This was a quick one for Ella's afternoon snack. I topped the chocolate cupcake with whipped cream and a blackberry. She loved it.

These lovelies were made for our new neighbors the day after they moved in. All chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. The middle has mini chocolate chips with a mini Chips Ahoy cookie, a few had raspberries, and the others were just sprinkles.

The cake plate awaited with similar cakes as the photo above. These were for a girls dessert night I hosted on Friday. There's never enough chocolate with girls around.

And this little beauty is my new cupcake cook book, given to me by my sweet friend Zaundia. My first recipe was mint frosting. Yummy yummy yummy. How long do you suppose it would take me to bake my way through all 500 recipes?? It's a nice thought.

Oh, cupcakes. They really are lovely little treats, aren't they?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Naptime Study Session

My view while the wee one sleeps. Only two weeks left of the semester!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recipe: Perfectly Sweet Vanilla Whipped Cream

My little helper has helped me discover a perfect whipped cream recipe. And even better than discovering the recipe? I wrote it down! Amazing concept, isn't it? I had been working with a Martha recipe for a while that wasn't sweet enough for my liking, so I changed it every time I made it. The thing was, I had to keep re-inventing it because I kept forgetting to write it down. So now that I practically have it etched into stone so I don't forget it again, I want to pass it on to you.

The recipe makes a pretty good amount. (I just wrote it down for the first time. Please don't expect that I've also measured how much it produces.) I do know that half of the recipe is plenty to cover a pie. So if you don't want to have extra because you think you just might eat all the leftovers with a spoon right after promising yourself you'll save the extra, I'd recommend going with the half recipe.

Here's the full recipe:

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar

Pour all the ingredients into a bowl and mix just until stiff peaks form. This can be done by hand with a whisk or using a mixer on medium-high. If you use a stand mixer, though, don't walk away. It can reach a ready point pretty fast and ruin the batch if the mixer isn't turned off right away. (Yes, I tell you this from experience. If this does happen, add more cream one tablespoon at a time and mix until it gets back to the right consistency.) Feel free to add more or less vanilla and powdered sugar to your liking. A lot of vanilla can be really good on some desserts. I've done it with French silk pie and hot chocolate. Mmmm.

It's a simple recipe, but whipped cream is kind of a dessert staple, so it's nice to have a good recipe on hand. And it's always memorable to tell people it's homemade.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

A New/Old Dress

I love dressing up for parties. Love love. I don't doubt it comes from theatre experiences and all the amazing costumes I've had the privilege of wearing since I was little. Basically, if there is a theme, I'm so dressing up.

Just such a party came up two weekends ago. Theme? Roller disco. That's exactly what it was. A roller disco with skates and snow cones and the Hokey Pokey. It was at the church. Yeah, pics to come. Now, before you look at this dress and say, Ang, that is so NOT roller disco, let me assure you that I'm aware of the fact. Here's what happened. Pete & I went out looking for something for me to wear to the party (Nana & Bapa Olsen were with Ella, so we considered this a hot date). There was a store I wanted to check out that I thought might have what I was looking for, so we headed to Obscurities on 4th Street. If you're from Duluth, you may or may not be aware of its existence. Not many people I know have been there. Kinda one of those sketchy places from the outside. Looks like they just run it out of their house. Anyway, Pete was with me so I was a bit more brave than I would have been on my own. So glad we went! As soon as we walked it, I knew I was going to find something.

And find something I did. Hanging from the window in the front room was this amazing little orange number. So very 60s. But would it work for a roller disco party? After looking through the rest of the store and choosing a couple different outfits, I tried everything on and pretty much fell in love with this one. I'd make it work. Here was my thought: I'm going to wear it one night for a disco, right? So big deal if I'm a few years off on the fashion train. After that, I'd be able to wear it for whatever I felt like. So I went with it. Yeah, I would have loved to wear a sign on my back at the party that said I realized I was total 60s, but why apologize, right?

The only change I needed to make before the party was to shorten the hem. That's nothing new in my world, being a whole 5 feet 2 inches. (I do completely enjoy being on the shorter side, mind you.) The hem originally fell right in the middle of my calves, but I took it up to just above my knees. I tucked the extra 8 inches up in the hem so I can change it in the future if need be. (You can see Ella's little helping hands in the work shot above.)

I paired it with black opaque tights and tall black boots. I'm a big fan of the collar and sleeves. There's a chance I'll do more alterations eventually, but I'm not exactly sure what. Take off the collar? Remove the sleeves? For now, I like it just the way it is.

Never mind roller disco. I've got a new 60s frock. And I like it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Isn't She Lovely

Recently, I was a part of leading up an amazing event at our church here in Duluth. We hosted a spa morning and invited every woman we could think of in the city. Most of it was done by word of mouth, which was really fun. One small group Bible study even went to a women's shelter to paint nails and personally invite them to the big event. The morning was titled Isn't She Lovely, and it honestly felt like every woman felt that way as they were pampered for absolutely no cost. What an event to be a part of!

Here you can see the coffee bar area ready for serving breakfast. Volunteers (tons of women from the church) and guests ate eggs and muffins and breads while chatting and warming up from the snowy outdoors. It was delish!

Every guest and volunteer had a name tag. Don't you love the way they were created with the woman's name in the middle?

Guests signed up for appointment times in order to avoid having to stand in line for services. These babies filled up incredibly fast when the doors opened at 9:30. The most popular? Massages and hair cut & styles.

We also offered foot soaks and pedicures.

Look, magazines to read while they soaked their feet. Someone was thinking!

Another area was facials and make up. This was one area that I oversaw. No, I didn't apply make up to any of the lovely ladies that morning. I just got lots of things put together, contacted volunteers and leaders, and made sure everything went smoothly during the event.

Everything was donated for the event. It was to see it all come in. Stylists and make up artists who had never been to the church donated time and supplies. Aveda and Mary Kay make up and hair products, lots of things from Alta and The Body Shop, O.P.I. polishes and so much more.

Manicures and paraffin waxes were also very popular.

How is it even possible to choose with all those options?

Here you can see a few of the women having their hair cut and styled. It smelled and looked just like a salon! And, to be completely honest, I couldn't help but get teary while watching these beautiful women. The hearts of the stylists were pouring out as they were on their feet racing to get as many cuts done as possible. Most of them even stayed more than an hour past the end of the event to make sure they got through everyone who had made an appointment. And the ladies getting the cuts? I'm pretty sure that many of them haven't been to a stylist in years, if ever. It was fun to see how much they enjoyed it.

Here are some ladies in the make up area. On the right you can see where women were getting manis.

By the end of the morning, over 370 women had been pampered. Music was playing, ladies were chatting and smiling and showing off their gorgeous looks. Tons of kids got to play in the VineyardKids area and have a blast. I can't tell you how much fun it was to be a part of the team of leaders and dreamers for Isn't She Lovely. We're dreaming up even more for next year. In the meantime, it'll be fun to reconnect with some of the new ladies I met at the spa.


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