Sweet like Sugar: How to add a little sweetness in your life!

December is here! The cold is here! We are getting warm by layer our fleeces, busting out hats, and sipping a warm cup of cocoa. With the bright lights and white frost, it means the holiday season is right around the corner. Get ready for delicious treats, festive coffee drinks, and anything sweet to brighten your day.

The best way to kick off your holiday season? Decorate a gingerbread house! Bellevue Whole Foods Market is very happy to create an event that is family-friendly and a great way to spend time together while creating something beautiful. Bring your foodie friends and get ready to decorate a house that you can take home to start your holiday season right.

The Details…
TIME AND DATE: Sat. Dec. 14th at Bellevue Whole Foods Market (888 116th AVE NE Bellevue WA), 10:00 AM – 1:00PM. Feel free to arrive at any time to start decorating!
 
WHERE: Front and center of Bellevue Whole Foods Market. There will be tables set up when you arrive on Dec. 14. Still can’t find the event day of? Ask a helpful Whole Foods Team Member who can assist you in the right direction. (Free parking in our spacious lot right off of 405, by the hospital. Minutes from downtown Bellevue.)
 
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST: $19.99 gets you one gingerbread house to decorate, all the frosting and candy décor, your entire parties admission (no matter how people you bring), and fun drinks and snacks to munch on. Plus, Bakery Team Members will assist you on decorating your house!
 
HOW DO I RSVP? Easy! You can 1) Pre-pay  inside Bellevue Whole Foods Market at the Bakery Counter  (Recommended! This event is popular) or  2) Call Bellevue Whole Foods Market  (425-462-1400), connect to the Bakery Team, reserve a spot, and pay on 12/14 when you arrive.
 
WHAT HAPPENS ON 12/14: Come on inside with your party, decorate your beautiful gingerbread house (everything will be ready for you), eat snacks, check out the sales happening at Whole Foods, and take your house home with you! Don’t worry, we will deal with the clean- up and mess.
 
MORE QUESTIONS? Call Bellevue Whole Foods (425-462-1400) and ask to be connected to the Bakery Team. We will happily answer any questions or concerns you have.

 

Get ready for a fun, filled day! There will be festive drinks to help you stay warm while you decorate your house.  The best part? You don’t have to deal with the clean up or mess, we will.

 

See you on Dec. 14th at Bellevue Whole Foods.

Happy Baking,

Kimm

 

Sweet like Sugar: How to add a little sweetness to your life!

My favorite thing to do is explore the Seattle food scene. To a new food truck, the latest ultra lounge, or perhaps a dimmed-light speak easy, attending and checking out new foodie events and restaurants is a great way to find a new favorite food dish. I have always been an avid attendee of popular and major events, but my secret passion are the small “meet-ups” that show case raw, up and coming talent in Seattle’s food scene.

I came across a pop-up dinner called ‘Feral Feast’ hosted at Queen Anne’s GRUB (http://www.letsgogrub.com/) the third Monday of every month. Thus, save this Monday the 18th for the next feast. It is a mutli-course meal, but you can purchase 3, 4, or 5 dishes depending on your appetite. The menu inspiration is based on the chef/host ideas and varies from season to season.

This month’s feast is based on Spanish Cuisine and brings fresh and vibrant dishes to the tasting. Check out what is in store:

Arugula salad, radish, blood orange, green garlic vinaigrette

Pa’amb tomoquet; grilled bread, tomato relish, jamon

White gazpacho, almonds, apples, grapes, olive oil

‘Paella’, mussels, shrimp, saffron, peppers, crispy puffed rice, green onion

Sherry braised chicken thighs, rich tomato sauce over chick peas, roasted cauli, crispy chicken cracklins’

Pork belly confit, clams, kale, potato King oyster mushrooms, potato, fiddleheads, pimenton alioli, parsley

To purchase tickets: feralseattle.brownpapertickets.com  (3, 4 or 5 dishes for a fixed price of $28, $35 or $44 per person. Gratuity and alcohol not included)

For any questions, comments, or concerns: feralseattle@gmail.com

Adult beverages are available for purchasing at the Feast, don’t worry!

Happy Cooking and see you this Monday,

Kimm

 How to add a little sweetness in your life!

When you are baking, it is important to follow directions: Bake at the proper temperature, using the correct ingredients, and make sure the batter is completely uniform. One key step I always follow, and encourage others to do, is sifting your dry ingredients. Just do my easy steps and sifting will be a natural habit in your own bake shop!

First off, what is considered a “dry ingredient” in baking? Think: anything with a powder texture, like flours, powder sugar, baking soda, baking, powder, salts, and cocoa powder. Remember, if it stored at room temp and “dry in nature,” it is a dry ingredient. Can it go through a sieve? Thus, yes, it is a dry ingredient.

Sifting is an act, a simple verb. The goal is remove all the excess lumps in your dry ingredients. If you do not sift, the dry lumps can easily be seen and tasted in the final outcome of the baked good. No beuno! All dry ingredients, especially flours and cocoa powder, get jam-packed in a tight, small package. Sifting brings it “back to nature.”

How does one sift flour? It is a pretty simple action: With a large mesh strainer, set it over large bowl. Put the dry ingredients in the mess strainer and gently “push” it through with your hand. Ta-da! You did it! Don’t have a mesh strainer? Use a large balloon whisk, and “whisk out” the visible flour clumps. Now you won’t have any small dots of flour stuck in your sweet treat. A “tanis” is a special pastry tool, specifically designed to sift dry ingredients. You won’t need one unless your are constanting sifting ingredients on a regular basis.

Helpful tip: Remember to measure your dry ingredients FIRST, then sift.

Sifting is easy to do and it will help the outcome of your delicious treats, making them have a fine crumb and light texture. That’s why it is important to do with angel food cakes, chiffon cakes, and any types of cupcakes.

Happy Baking,

Kimm

Sweet Like Sugar: How to add a little sweetness in your life!

I love pie. And, what is the best part of the pie? The crust. When it is done correcty, it is: Super tender, flaky, golden delicious, goodness! When it is done poorly, it is: soft, soggy, and under baked.

Traditional pie crust can be broken down in two categories: mealy or flakey. (Tradition crust is crust made with flour, salt, white sugar, cold butter, and water.)  Mealy is meant for top crust and flakey is meant for bottom crust.  What is the difference between the two? How finely the butter is “blended” into the flour.

Mealy crust: The fat you use (butter, lard, shortening, etc) is 100% blended into the flour. Thus, the liquid (usually water) absorbs it better, making it great for a top or lattice crust.

Flakey crust: The fat is left into “pea size” shapes, when blended into the flour.  Those “globs of fat” add layers and flakiness to your pie crust. Perfect for the bottom crust.

These 3 key tips will ensure a PERFECT FLAKEY CRUST!

1) Keep it cold: Keep all your baking ingredients cold, especially the fat and liquid. If the fat is warm, or room temp, it will not properly blend in the flour. I even like to “chill” my bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes before mixing my pie dough!

2) Do not over-work your dough: After mixing your butter in your flour, slowly add your liquids and “fold” the mixture, with your hands,  until it forms into a dough. Over mixing causes high gluten development, thus a tough pie crust.  Since pie crust is meant to be delicate, little gluten formation is needed.

3) Chill your pie crust:   After you make your pie crust, make sure you chill it in the fridge, for at least one hour, before rolling it out. Also, after you roll it out, chill your pie shell, again, in the fridge. Keeping it cold will  help shrinkage and keep your pie shell in uniform shape.

Overall, pie crust ingredients are simple and the procedure is time-consuming, but worth it. Follow my three tips for delicious pie for your holiday baking season. There is nothing like a wonderful and delicious pie crust to compliment the perfect pie filling!

Happy Baking! Kimm

Knocking down the basics in baking will help you conquer the more difficult pastry techniques. Before attempting a homemade linzer tart or croquembouche, stick with simple sweet treats: like cookies, cakes, and one of my personal favorites, brownies!

Brownies are chocolate cake without a chemical leavener, like baking power or baking soda. What is the story behind the creation of brownies? A woman was baking a chocolate cake for her dinner guest, forgot her chemical leavener, and still served the chocolate cake calling it a “brownie” because of its color. The rest is very sweet history!

Here is my amazing brownie recipe that is simple and easy:

Kimm’s Brownies:

Before you start baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly butter a 9×9 inch square baking pan. Line the baking pan with parchment paper. (Please, PLEASE, avoid aersol non-stick sprays! They leave a caramel-colored film on top of your cookware and bakeware.)

Buttering and lining your baking pan with parchment paper will help release your brownie!

 Step One: In a medium sauce pan, over medium-low heat, melt 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate and 1 cup of unsalted butter. Stir this mixture frequently so the bottom does not burn. When it has melted, let this cool for 10-15 minutes or until room temp.

STEP ONE: Be sure to always use a heat-safe spatula!

 
Step two: With a stand mixer and whisk attachment, whip together 2 cups white sugar, 4 eggs, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
 

STEP TWO: Put the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in the mixing bowl.

 
 Step three: On medium speed, whip together the eggs-sugar-vanilla until light and fluffy. This should take about 3-5 minutes. You want the sugar-egg mixture to be at “ribbon” stage at the end of mixing. 
 
 
 

STEP THREE: This is ribbon stage! Nice and thick egg-sugar mixture!

 
Ribbon stage means the egg-sugar mixture is so thick, it leaves a “ribbon” like pattern after being lifted with a spatula.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Step Four: Sift together 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoon salt. This is fair easy to do: set a strainer over a medium size down and “sift” the flour-salt into the bowl.

STEP FOUR: Sifting means breaking up any major lumps and clumps in your dry ingredients.

Step five: Now, add the melted chocolate and butter to the egg-sugar mixture. Slowly stir in, by hand, using a spatula.

STEP FIVE: Slowly adding the melted chocolate and butter is key! Take it easy!

 Step six: Now, add the sifted flour and salt. Again, slowly add it in, stirring by hand. Make sure the batter is uniform and evenly mixed.

Make sure you do not over mix when adding the dry ingredients!

 
Step seven: Pour the brownie mixture into your prepared baking pan. Put inside, center of your preheated oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until done. (You can tell when it is done by inserting a toothpick and it comes out clean.) 
 

STEP SEVEN: At the half way point, make sure you rotate your brownie pan for uniform baking.

 
 The brownie is done by: doing the toothpick test, the edges “slightly” pull away from the pan, and a nice “chocolate” smell invades your kitchen.

THE FINAL PRODUCT: Oweey, gooeey, goodness!

 Yes, you can add various nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate to this basic recipe. As always, share your sweet treats with the sweet ones in your life!
Happy Baking,
Kimm
 
 
 
 
 
 

Not only do I love blogging and helping people with their dessert recipes, I love informing people about what different types of bakeware for the domestic market. Picking the right baking pan for your dessert recipe is “half the battle.” You want a pan that is, not only easy to clean, but will cook your delicious goodie evenly and uniform.

 

In the photo above is the five most common types of baking pans you will find: 1) Cast Aluminum 2) Stoneware with food-safe enamel 3) Stainless Steel 4) Glass 5) Non-stick .  Confused? With so many on the market, it is helpful to know the pros and cons to each baking vessel.

Here I explain the differences between each baking pan:

1) Cast Aluminum:

-Apperance: Light grey/blue and light weight.

-Pros: Great heat insulator; Very abundant and easy to manufacture; Will not rust.

-Cons: Very “poreus,” meaning it scratches and stains fairly easy; Since it has been casted, it needs to “seasoned” like cast iron pans; Food will stick easily; Pans might warp (AKA: “bent” on the bottom).

-My opinion: Honestly, it is not my first choice for baking because cast aluminum pans scratches easily and warps over time.   

2) Stoneware with enamel over it:

-Apperance: Stoneware is a light sand color. The enamel inside should be white and the exterior can be a variety of colors.

-Pros: Long lasting; Excellent heat conductor; Attractive-looking.

-Cons: Can be expensive; Stoneware is only found is select sizes and retail stores.

-My opinion: My first choice for baking because of the excellent heat conduction stoneware brings to my baked good. I know stoneware can get expensive, that is why I only have a selected key all-purpose pieces in my kitchen.

3) Stainless Steel

-Apperance: Super shiny!

-Pros: Long lasting; Attractive; Dishwasher safe; Very durable.

-Cons: Very “not” non-stick, make sure your pans are well-greased; Stainless Steel bakeware is hard to find in retail stores, it is primarily sold online; Stainless steel naturally heats uneven.

-My opinion:  I tend not to bake many desserts in stainless steel because it tends to heat uneven (that is why stainless steel cookware has aluminum sandwiched in between, for better heat conduction) and I have to use more fat when greasing my pans.

4) Glass:

-Apperance: See-through.

-Pros: Good heat insulator; Long lasting; Easy to find in retail stores; All-purpose use.

-Cons: Poor heat conductor; Not the best for baking; Breaks easy.

-My opinion: Glass is best for savory items since it is a good heat insulator (keeps your food warm!) not a heat conductor (naturally heats uneven, like stainless steel).  I like using glass dishes for potato and casserole recipes.

5) Non-stick (AKA “stamped thick aluminum layer with protective coating over it.”)

-Apperance: Non-sticking coatings are shades of grey, and some are becoming “colored” in shades of bronze to look more attractive.

-Pros: Easy to clean and use; Dishwasher safe; Less grease/oil used; Easy to find in retails stores.

-Cons: May scratch; May flake or chip off if the company did not use a strong non-stick patent; Depending on how thick the stamped aluminum is, it could warp over time.

-My opinion: I enjoying baking with non-stick bakeware that has a heavy “feel” and gauge to it. Avoid any thin non-stick bakeware that bends easily.

My two personal favorites are stoneware and a thick non-stick bakeware. Both are, not only easy to clean, but attractive and conducts heat evenly. Remember to take care of your bakeware properly! I recommend to hand wash, avoid non-stick sprays (those contain an ingredient called “propellant” which is a chemical that leaves a caramel-film all over your bakeware), and use real butter or a flavorless oil when “greasing” your pans.

Happy Baking!

Kimm

How to add a little sweetness in your life!

I love, LOVE, working and eating chocolate. Who can say no to homemade chocolate chip cookies, Molten Lava cakes, or walnut brownies? The world’s most popular confection is reguarly used in a variety of cookies, cakes, candies, drinks, and consumed by itself. More females crave chocolate than men, which makes me a true chocolate-holic.

But, chocolate, and other sweets, have received a bad reputation. Promoting tooth decay, obesity, and high cholesterol levels. With all sweet delights, I stress: portion control and consuming “real” ingredients. True dark chocolate will aid in lowering choesteral levels, add antioxidents to your diet, and help your blood flow.

My top 4 hints and tricks will help you: pick the right chocolate to get all the benefits, keep it stored correctly, and notice physical apperances REAL chocolate should have!

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How to add a little sweetness in your life! (…and this time, without adding a bunch of extra pounds!)

Attempting to live a “very sweet” lifestyle without adding extra calories is, well, HARD. So participating in GPH’s 3rd Annual Mind-Body Challenge is one of my biggest hurdles this year. Baking cake, making buttercream, cooking delicious food, working in a professional kitchen, are all part of my daily lifestyle. Find the balance is tricky and challenging, but in the end, worth it for my health and future.

I immediately found my group in “Team Bikini Martini.” Why? I am constantly on the move, leaving one job for the next, and trying to attend local social events in the Seattle/Bellevue area. Plus being a foodie, I love trying new food and cocktails at any hot spot I find!

After more than 1 week doing the challenge, I feel: less bloated, more organized, and my skin seems to “pop.” (Even my mom said I look taller and leaner!) Taking tips from my fellow Team Bikini Martini members, health nuts I found on social media, and yoga teachers, I NOW follow 3 tips for my active lifestyle:

1) STAY HYDRATED: Most people are dehydrated, not hungry. Drinking water throughout the day keeps me perky whem I didn’t sleep a ton last night. Also, drink electrolytes: trace minerals your body needs to function. Not only take a multi-vitamin, take a multi-mineral. My favorite electrolyte drink: cold coconut water!

2) EAT REAL FOOD: I have my pantry (and purse!) stocked with real “food” snacks: fruit, nuts, whole grain bread, and tofu. (I tend to grocery shop in the evening, when the store is more quiet and less crowded.) I avoid any package snacks and fast food. This rule also applies to: sweet treats. Only choose baked goods made with real butter, sugar, and dairy. Avoid sweet treats with “super long” ingredient lists.

3) MAKE TIME FOR YOU: I like to give myself a hour a day to rest, relax, and organize my life. Being healthy also means being mentally healthy, this 110% for busy women! I try to stay social, meet new people, try new foods, and new activities. Power naps are a plus, too.

What I have learned thus far from the challenge:

-Making healthier choices is difficult and will demand you to be more organized, but in the end, BETTER and HAPPIER.

-YES, people will notice your positive change!

-Keep in touch with people also doing the challenge, they will keep you motivated. Thank you to Team Bikini Martini!

-You can add sweetness without adding extra calories: having a cupcake won’t kill your diet. It is normal and natural to indulge!

Happy Baking! Kimm

 

How to add a little sweetness in your life!

Filled with cupcake lovers, bakers, and adorers, The Canal (located in downtown Ballard) on Sunday, was the place to be if you loved cupcakes. Since 2009, Seattle has hosted “Cupcake Camp,” which brings together local cupcake shops, bakeries, and caterers to hand out their delicious treats to the community.

Being a Red Velvet Sponsor of Cupcake Camp, I had my own personal table and competed in the professional cupcake competition. I brought three brand new flavors to the show: 1) “Milk and Cookies:” Chocolate chip cake with whipped cream. 2) “Peanut Butter BOMB:” Peanut butter cake with chocolate buttercream. 3) “Girls Best Friend:” Rich chocolate cake with red wine buttercream, which was Girl Power Hour-inspired! Not only does the cupcake repesent two of my favorite things, it was very GPH influenced from all the lovely ladies I have met at the stylish events.

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How to add a little sweetness in your life!

A fun, cupcake-filled event held at The Canal in Ballard, WA.

April is, by far, my favorite month. Why? I celebrate my birthday, my adorable niece’s birthday, and Seattle’s Annual Cupcake Camp happens! What exactly is a “cupcake camp?” An event where you EAT CUPCAKES ALL DAY LONG. Major and minor cupcake shops, bakeries, and caterers come together and hand out delicious cupcakes to the community.  Ladies, bring your family and friends, Cupcake Camp is 100% family-friendly.

Cupcake camps happen all over the USA, and this is Seattle’s third year hosting. Carrie Middlemiss, of Bella Cupcake Couture, host the very sweet event and runs a terrific show. Not only do you get to try a variety of cupcakes from different, local bakeries, you can mingle with fellow Seattle foodies while watch a cupcake eating contest!

Since we are helping Hope Heart Institute while serving some of Seattle’s finest cupcakes, you can enjoy some sweet treats for a wonderful cause. Tickets can be purchased prior or at the door. I highly recommend buying your tickets ahead and arriving  to The Canal, in Ballard, early. Seattle is FILLED with cupcake lovers and adorers.

Photo courtesy of Bella Cupcake Couture: 2011 Cupcake Camp.

Happy Baking! Kimm

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