Sweet Thanks

Hello friends!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  November flew by for me and I can’t believe tomorrow marks the start of December!  I filled many orders on Wednesday and spent Thursday morning at the Aurora Turkey Trot.  Casey and Carrie participated in the Mashed Potato Mile and many others turned out for the 4 mile run.  It was a beautiful, snowy morning and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to sell goodies at the event!

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This time last year, we were just settling into our house after a challenging move from Cincinnati to NE Ohio.  I didn’t know which end of me was up!  A year later, I’m happy to share this has been Floured Apron’s highest sales month ever!  Woo hoo!  I am touched by the tremendous support of people who have trusted me with their baking needs and many who have opened doors of opportunity.  Thank you doesn’t seem like enough to express my gratitude.

Honestly, I have considered giving up on this business many times, especially, since we moved.  It has been challenging to start over and build a customer base in an area that was completely new to me.  There have been many tears, confusion, frustration and several agonizing moments over business decisions.  What keeps me going on this business venture?  I think it’s a combination of meeting new people, making great friends and fulfilling my passion for baking.  Countless supporters push me to be better and try harder.  Thanks to them, the difficult moments pass and I get to keep doing what I truly love!

Motivation comes in many forms.  For me, it’s receiving phone calls or emails sharing positive feedback.  It’s a wonderful feeling to know I’ve brought a little joy to someone’s life because that’s what sharing food is all about to me.  It’s rewarding and fulfilling on so many levels!  This year, I’ve been fortunate to be part of baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, rehearsals, shopping events, small business events, baking classes, 4th of July festivities, Halloween parties, office parties, races and Thanksgiving.  Countless pumpkin rolls, pies and cupcakes consumed my November and I couldn’t be happier!

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Thank you SO MUCH!  I hope your support continues because we have amazing plans for Spring and I can’t wait to share all the details!  I’m taking the pursuit of my dreams to the next level and I want all of you to be part of it.  You’re going to LOVE what’s next!  In the meantime, bring on December!  I’m excited to spend time with my daughters baking our favorite holiday treats, decorating the house and simply hanging out!  Enjoy this magical time of year with friends and family and thank you for all you do to make Floured Apron the best it can be!

From the heart, Shannon

Sweet and Sticky Caramel Love

Things have been pretty exciting lately in my little Floured Apron world!  I conducted my first baking class and it was wonderful!  The theme was “Falling for Cupcakes” and I featured my Pumpkin Patch and Caramel Apple cupcakes.  This class was a dream come true for me because I’ve always wanted to share my passion for baking with others.  The women who attended were fun, enthusiastic and so supportive.  I can’t even explain how fulfilling and rewarding this was!

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The prep for this class was the perfect opportunity for me to start my annual caramel making.  As I was making it, I decided to snap some photos so I could share.  I remember the first time I tried making caramel.  It was a disaster because I had no idea what I was doing.  Now, I’m kind of addicted to the process and, of course, the final product!  These pictures aren’t the best because I was trying to take them while I was making it but you’ll get the idea.

Start by heating the sugar and water in a pan on medium-high heat.  Stir constantly!  The sugar will burn (trust me).

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Keep stirring.  You will see some of the sugar begin to turn brown.  Keep stirring.  I promise it will liquefy!

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As the sugar dissolves, you will see it transform to a beautiful golden brown liquid.  Keep stirring.

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Once the sugar is dissolved, add butter and vanilla.  Remove from heat and slowly whisk in heavy cream.
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Once the cream is whisked in and you have the gorgeous color, set aside to thicken for about 15 minutes then refrigerate. It is an absolute must to keep a small spoon near the pan, as it’s cooling, so you can test the temp. 🙂 YUM!

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I love to pour my cooled caramel into jars.  They make great gifts and I keep plenty on hand this time of year so I can make Caramel Apple Cupcakes whenever the urge strikes (which is pretty often).  I also like to eat a spoonful every time I open the fridge.  It’s fall, right?  I gotta do it!  Look at this cute jar full of deliciousness.

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One of the best things about having homemade caramel around is our Caramel Apple Cupcakes!  These cupcakes are the perfect combination of everything fall…cinnamon, apples and caramel.  They are a mouthful of gooey goodness!  When you finish eating one, you are a sticky mess and it’s wonderful!  Did I mention these are filled with caramel?  I could just drink caramel so the more the better for these little beauties!

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Caramel Apple Cupcakes are available to order now.  Please contact us if you want some for your fall festivities!

Here is the full recipe for the caramel.  I’m going apple picking next week and I can’t wait to make more caramel and apple concoctions!  I’m on a pumpkin kick too, but that’s another post!  Yay for fall!

From the heart, Shannon

Caramel
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon water
12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, at room temp

Pour the sugar and water into a large sauce-pan. Heat on medium-high heat and stir constantly until the sugar completely liquefies. After sugar has dissolved, add the butter and vanilla extract to the saucepan and mix thoroughly. Once the butter has melted and the butter and sugar are completely mixed, remove from heat and using a whisk, slowly whisk in the heavy cream until you reach a beautiful golden brown caramel color. Set aside and let cool and thicken for 15 minutes at room temp. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to thicken further before using.

 

Third Grade and Rustic Tomato Tart Recipe

Things have been a little hectic in our house lately as both my daughters started school this week.  I’m sure many of you are facing the same brutal reality that summer break is coming to an end.  Hannah and I hit the road Tuesday to move her into her dorm room.  She is happily embarking on year 2 of college and I couldn’t be more proud (and kind of sad because I miss having her around)!  I made the 9 hour drive back home on Wednesday and Carrie started third grade Thursday.  Our school district has different buildings for different grade levels.  Last year, Carrie was in a building that was first and second grades.  This year, she switched to a much larger school for grades 3, 4 and 5.  She was really excited and popped right up out of bed, ate breakfast and we were out the door no problem.  When we got to school and she saw all the other kids, she seemed a little nervous (4th and 5th graders can be intimidating).  Of course, she had a fantastic day, loves her new teachers and saw many of her friends!  My sweet girl is growing up way too fast!

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To help ease the transition from summer break to school days, I thought I’d surprise her with one of her favorite dishes for dinner and really celebrate her first day of third grade.  I’ve made this Rustic Tomato Tart a couple times this summer.  As a matter of fact, this is Carrie’s request for her birthday dinner every July.  I snagged some gorgeous tomatoes from a farm stand in North Carolina on Wednesday and couldn’t wait to top off Carrie’s first day of school with a delicious summertime dinner!

As I started preparing the dough, it dawned on me that I could share this with everyone.  I came across this recipe in Cooking Light several years ago and it has been a dish my family looks forward to every summer.  It’s not fancy but it is so yummy!  The preparation includes several steps but they are not hard and totally worth it; all that’s required is a little patience.

I didn’t capture photos of the dough making because I thought about posting it after I finished that part.  The dough calls for fresh corn kernels (I just cut them right off the cob), a little lemon juice and sour cream.  I toss all that into my little magic bullet to blend then add them to the flour, cornmeal, butter and salt.  I use my hands to make the dough then roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap.  I then put the rolled out piece of dough on a flat cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer until I’m ready to assemble.  Today I made the dough early and left it in the freezer for a few hours.  It works like a charm and makes dinner prep much easier to do this step ahead of time.  My tip on cornmeal is to use coarse grind.  It gives the dough a nice little crunch and I love it so much more than regular cornmeal in this recipe.

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If you are already thinking this recipe sounds too complicated, stick with it!  This tart is scrumptious and, once you try it, you’ll be looking for every reason to make it again.

I sliced the tomatoes then placed them on paper towels and salted them.  The salt draws out some of the moisture.  Then I grated the cheese, grabbed the dough, preheated the oven and started putting the whole thing together.  Those are some good-looking tomatoes, huh?  I like to use a combination but you can use whatever kind you have on hand.

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Once I remove the plastic wrap from one side of the dough (it’s much easier to remove while the dough is frozen), I flip it onto a piece of parchment paper that is covered with the cornmeal.  Next, I remove the other pieces of plastic wrap and start with the first layer of fontina cheese, fresh basil and flour.  The scissors pictured here are amazing!  They are herb scissors and they make life so easy!  The flour gets sifted over the cheese to keep the crust from getting too soggy from those juicy tomatoes.

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Here come the tomatoes!  Just one layer for now and leave a little dough border.  Beautiful!

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One more sprinkle of flour then another layer of tomatoes.

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This part is fun and where the term “rustic” comes in.  Simply fold the dough around the tomatoes.  See the flecks of cornmeal?  You’re going to love the crunch!

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Pop it in the oven for about 30-35 minutes.  It will be golden brown and the tomatoes will be cooked.  I like to sprinkle more cheese (yep) on top and let it melt for a few minutes at the end.  Once I take it out of the oven, I top it with more fresh basil.  It looks pretty and, truth be told, I could eat basil 24/7 when it’s tomato season!  MORE BASIL!

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There you have it!  It’s fresh, healthy and delicious!  Carrie LOVES this dish!  Please don’t be intimidated by the numerous steps.  Once you make it a couple times, you’ll find it’s really simple.  Besides, you can’t mess it up because it’s rustic!  Find something to celebrate this weekend and make this before all the tomatoes are gone.  Let me know how it turns out!

From the heart, Shannon

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Here’s the full recipe from Cooking Light.  Again, I usually make the dough ahead of time.

Rustic Tomato Tart

1 1/2 pounds medium yellow tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 pounds medium red tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2-3 ears)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill coarse grind is really good!)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Preparation

Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on several layers of paper towels; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 20 minutes; blot dry with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Place corn, juice, and sour cream in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add corn mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Knead gently 3 or 4 times.
Slightly overlap 2 (16-inch) sheets of plastic wrap (or parchment paper or wax paper) on a slightly damp surface. Place dough on plastic wrap; press into a 6-inch circle. Cover with 2 additional (16-inch) sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into a 14-inch circle; place on a large baking sheet in freezer 10 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; sprinkle paper with 1 tablespoon cornmeal. Remove 2 sheets of plastic wrap from dough. Place dough, plastic wrap side up, on baking sheet. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap.
Combine 2 tablespoons flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Arrange half the cheese on dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Top with basil. Using a sifter or sieve, sift 1 tablespoon flour mixture over cheese mixture. Arrange half of tomatoes over cheese mixture. Sift remaining flour mixture over tomatoes; top with remaining tomatoes. Fold edges of dough toward center; press to seal (dough will only partially cover tomatoes). Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until crust is brown; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil and pepper.

Blueberry Bliss and a Recipe

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Happy end of July friends!  WOW!  I can’t believe it is almost August!  July is one of my favorite months.  Most importantly, it’s the month we celebrate Carrie’s birthday (she just turned 8)!  It’s usually the month when summer feels like summer.  Flowers are everywhere, pools are full of adults and kids splashing, local veggies are delicious and evenings are full of fireflies, games and s’mores.  This summer has been a little cooler than I hoped but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying most of  the things summer has to offer.

Remember the farm we stumbled upon to pick strawberries?  I never stopped thinking about what the farmer said about the blueberry picking in July.  As a matter of fact, I started calling the last week of June to check the readiness of the berries.  I know…

My mother-in-law came for a visit and I thought it would be fun to take her blueberry picking.  She and my father-in-law have a beautiful cabin in Minnesota where they pick wild blueberries every July.  As a matter of fact, there is a Blueberry Fest held each year in nearby Ely, MN.

I couldn’t wait to get to the farm!  The blueberry bushes did not disappoint and before we knew it, we had tons of blueberries!  Carrie was just as excited to pick blueberries as she was strawberries (maybe a little more since Granny was there) and we had a great afternoon!

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We ate lots of them while we picked and all I could think about was making one of our family favorites, Blueberry Cake.  The recipe is from The Chopping Block located in Chicago.  My sister-in-law took me for a cooking class just before my wedding in 2004.  It was there I first had this cake and it has been a staple in my recipe book ever since!  I’ve made this many times and it always turns out perfectly.  This time I used only blueberries but have prepared it with both blueberries and fresh peaches, a super yummy combo!  Add fresh peaches to anything and I’m there!  Here’s how to make this simple, not too sweet, delightful little cake.  I’m including the recipe at the end so please let me know if you try it and how you like it.

It all starts with dry ingredients:  flour, dark brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and salt; cut in butter.

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Next, you divide the mixture and add the following to about 2/3 of the mixture:  baking soda, buttermilk, egg

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Then you simply place half of the wet mixture in a baking pan or pie dish and sprinkle the berries on top

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Top the berry layer with the remaining wet batter then sprinkle the remaining dry crumbs on top and bake…EASY!

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I have served this cake many times with cinnamon ice cream along side.  I know, right?  I didn’t have any on hand so I made fresh whipped cream and added cinnamon.  Oh, the sacrifices I make.  Ummmmmm, y’all know about my love affair with whipped cream!  The cinnamon made it extra special and, well, you have to try it!  This cake is a scrumptious dessert and would be out of this world spectacular served for breakfast or brunch.  After all, it’s loaded with healthy, antioxidant rich blueberries.  It would be a tasty treat on a picnic.  The possibilities are endless.  It’s not fancy and that’s what makes it so delicious!  Bake this cake…you won’t be sorry!

From the heart, Shannon

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Here’s the complete recipe:

Blueberry Cake

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups blueberries (more if you wish-fresh, frozen, store bought; also, you can add peaches, raspberries, any berry)

Preheat oven to 325; butter and flour or spray a pan or pie dish (8-9” wide)

Stir together the flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until crumbly. Set aside about 1/3 of these crumbs in a separate bowl. Add the baking soda, buttermilk and egg to the other crumbs and combine well. Place half of this batter into your baking dish. Sprinkle the berries on top of the batter then top with the rest of the batter and top with the reserved dry crumbs.

Bake until firm and golden, about 35-45 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.

 

Delightful Dobbies

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Hello friends!  I hope you are getting a nice dose of warmer weather and starting to enjoy these early days of summer.  My oldest daughter, Hannah, finished her first year away at college and is home for the next couple months.  My seven year old, Carrie, wrapped up second grade a week ago.  It is wonderful to have my girls together and I am soaking in all the sounds of sister giggles!

As you may remember, we moved from Cincinnati to Aurora, OH (near Cleveland) last Fall.  Last summer was a whirlwind so we decided to keep this summer simple and trade in a big vacation to explore our new area.  We are close to Lake Erie and the Cleveland Metroparks system is amazing.  There are several farming communities just a hop, skip and a jump away.  I love to visit local farms!  I have a list of several to check out and hope to meet many of these amazing women and men at upcoming farmer’s markets.

Hannah is out of town this week and, after three very unsuccessful attempts at making French Macarons, I was ready to get out of the kitchen yesterday.  I had a morning meeting then Casey, Carrie and I hit the road for Peninsula, OH.  We didn’t have a specific plan but knew there were some local shops and farms in the area.  As we were driving around, we saw a sign for Greenfield Berry Farm.  We pulled in and met a young man who told us to walk toward the barn and we’d find what we need to pick our own strawberries.  We raced to the barn, picked up our pint boxes and headed to the field to start picking.

Of course there’s nothing new about strawberries.  I’ve bought fresh strawberries from stands many times.  Some of my favorites were from an adorable berry farm off the coast of California.  Hannah, Carrie and I were on our way to the airport and thought it would be neat to bring home some of the most delectable strawberries I ever met.  This specific farm picked the berries and sold them along with many scrumptious baked goods.  The strawberries were small, sweet and juicy and we bought a few pints.  I was concerned we wouldn’t get the berries through airport security.  There was no need to worry because Carrie ate most of them before we got to the airport!  Love her!

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Carrie has always been crazy about strawberries.  When she started talking, she couldn’t pronounce the word strawberries.  What came out of her mouth was the most adorable word ever.  “Dobbies.”  Her sweet baby voice made that word a staple in our family vocabulary.  We went through hundreds of bags of Trader Joe’s freeze-dried dobbies over the course of her toddler years.  Carrie consumed tons of fresh dobbies as well, and asked for a dobbie cake for her fourth birthday.

The days spent at my corporate job often had me dreaming about starting my own business; I always wanted to call it Dobbies.  I changed my mind when we came up with Floured Apron, but have never stopped using the word dobbies in place of the word strawberries.

Since we’ve always had a thing for these succulent berries, it was awesome to have a chance to pick our own.  Someone was very excited!

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My heart filled right up when I saw the joy in Carrie’s face and her delight in filling up her pint boxes.  When I thought I couldn’t have a better day, the farm owner, Daniel, told us the blueberries would be ready in July!  YAY!  Fresh dobbies, pure fun, and a new-found farm all made for a perfect afternoon!

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I thought we’d come home and stuff ourselves full of dobbies, however, it was killing me not to make something with those fresh berries!  Jam, pie or smoothies?  I couldn’t let it go.  Carrie has been asking me to make a cupcake named after me.  She thinks it’s a big deal that we have cupcakes named after her and Hannah on our menu.  (Here’s the post on Carrie’s claim to fame cupcake.)  Carrie came up with Shannon’s Shortcake Cupcake a couple of months ago.  I haven’t made shortcakes in years (instead, I’ve been banging my head against the counter with Macaron making attempts, but that’s another story).  While she and Casey headed to the pond to fish, I decided it was the perfect time to make a Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake.  I wanted this cupcake to represent all the things I love about traditional strawberry shortcake.  I decided to start with my Vanilla Bean Cupcake.  I thought about mixing some of the fresh berries into the batter but didn’t think that was enough of a dobbie punch.  So, I ended up making a dobbie filling.  I simply diced up some of the berries, cooked them in a pan, added a little sugar and cornstarch and let the mixture cook then cool.

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Looks good, huh?  As soon as it cooled, I ate a big spoonful and had to stop myself or I was going to have to make another batch to fill the cupcakes!  Once everything was cool, I cored the cupcakes and spooned as much of the filling inside as possible.

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Let’s face it, all the components of strawberry shortcake are delicious.  I have always been partial to the biscuit type shortcake and the sugar soaked berries on top with all the syrup running everywhere.  Then there’s the whipped cream.  When I eat strawberry shortcake, I put whipped cream on top, eat it, add more, eat it…you get the idea.  Whipped cream rules and I want some with every bite!  I wanted these cupcakes on the lighter side so I walked away from all thoughts of buttercream frosting and topped them with generous dollops of, you guessed it, fresh whipped cream.  I’m pretty sure I made the right decision!

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I can’t even find words to tell you how delicious these are.  Not too sweet, light and just heavenly.  They were gone in a minute and I don’t regret eating a single one (neither does Carrie)!

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Carrie wants me to call this Shannon’s Shortcake Cupcake and add it to our seasonal menu.  I don’t care what it’s called, I just want to eat these every single day!

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I feel fortunate to have several farms nearby and am thankful for the people who work hard to grow amazing food and share it with us.

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If you’ve never been to a local farm, I’d highly recommend finding one this summer.  It’s a great experience for the whole family and farm owners are always happy to share their stories and crops.  I enjoyed picking berries, watching Carrie pick berries, making a spectacular cupcake and reminiscing about when the word dobbies first came into our lives.  You just never know where an unplanned day will take you!

From the heart, Shannon

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Giddy Up!

Today is Derby Day and what kind of Kentucky girl would I be if I didn’t make a Derby Day cupcake?  Plus, I’m feeling a little homesick and I kind of need this cupcake for sheer comfort.  That may be a slight stretch because you know I look for any excuse to make and eat cupcakes!

I spent most of my younger days living on a farm in Kentucky.  We owned several horses and had many fun times trail riding and many not so fun times cleaning stalls.  We didn’t own thoroughbreds but we always gathered around the TV on Derby Day.  I knew a little about thoroughbreds from a few trips I made to the Kentucky Horse Park.  Additionally, I grew up in small town Walton, KY where jockey, Steve Cauthen, was proudly honored on our water tower:  “Walton, KY Home of Steve Cauthen.”  That was pretty cool!  I’m, by no means, a thoroughbred or racetrack expert but I enjoy the Kentucky Derby and all the time-honored traditions that are part of race day.

While many ladies have been selecting their magnificent Derby hats and the gents have been shining their shoes, I’ve been thinking about how to turn traditional Derby Pie into a cupcake.  Someone has to do it!  I didn’t feel the need to create this on my own as I was certain there were tons of recipes out there.  Sure enough, my search resulted in lots of variations.  Mine is a combination of a few recipes I found.

Kentucky bourbon chocolate walnut pie is traditionally served at the annual Kentucky Derby horse race. Melrose Inn, located in Prospect, KY, is famous for their invention of Derby Pie in 1950.  I reviewed several Derby Pie recipes and decided that bourbon, chocolate, walnuts and a little frosting would make for a fantastic cupcake!  So, I got busy and put these together. I’ve decided to add these to our menu for May and call them My Old Kentucky Home cupcakes.  Something about these just feels like home.  They are decadent and gooey.
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A key ingredient in these is bourbon.  It’s in the cake, the frosting and the sticky glaze I drizzled on top.  We usually have lots of bourbon on hand but the only bottle in our cabinet (obviously, it’s time to restock) was Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon made in Bardstown, KY.  It smelled AMAZING as I added it to every part of the cupcake!
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After smelling all that deliciousness, I was pretty excited to dig into these!  I wish I could tell you they were terrible and I wouldn’t be wasting any calories on these BUT they were out of this world, melt-in-your-mouth divine!  I was not disappointed and, as far as the calories go, let’s just say I could use a lap (or two) around the track! 🙂
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I’m excited for the 140th Kentucky Derby!  Do you have any Derby Day traditions?  Perhaps you’re attending live and deciding if you want to place your bets on California Chrome, Dance with Fate or Wildcat Red.  If you’re like me, you’ll be watching all the action from home.  Whether you’re drinking Mint Juleps, wearing a fancy hat, eating Hot Brown and Derby Pie or just cheering on your favorite horse and jockey, have a grand time!  I know I’ll be eating more of My Old Kentucky Home cupcakes while I eagerly await post time!  Yee-haw!
From the heart, Shannon
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Apron Strings Part 3

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This is the third and final post of my Apron Strings series.  I’ve told you how much I adore my aprons but I am crazy about the apron collection we have for Hannah and Carrie!

I have not purchased a single one of these aprons.  They have all been gifts, with the exception of one Carrie made.  This little collection started when Hannah was about 3 years old and has, fortunately, extended to Carrie.

These are sure to bring out the kid in you!  If you haven’t made something in the kitchen with a child, please try it!  If you are lucky enough to have a cute apron, it makes him/her feel extra special so don’t waste another second and make some wonderful memories together!  I am thankful for special baking moments with the girls.  I am also thankful for cute aprons that have served as dropcloths to splattered eggs, flour, batter, dough and anything else that somehow ended up on them.  If these aprons could talk, they’d say most of the baking sessions were full of smiles and kisses.  You just can’t beat it!

Here’s the oldest member of our kid apron collection.  My mom gave this to Hannah when she was about 3 years old.  Hannah thought she was the bee’s knees playing with her toy kitchen while wearing her special apron.  It was a staple for Christmas cookie making!  I have fond memories of her wearing it over her pajamas, sitting on the counter, cutting out sugar cookies.  There are little pieces of velcro on the front that once held bright red oven mitts.  I’m not sure where those are but the idea of velcro to hold mitts on an apron is genius!

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Here is a set of Christmas aprons my mother-in-law gave to Hannah and Carrie.  I’m so glad she gave them matching aprons!  These aprons have seen lots of peanut butter kiss cookies and Hannah’s amazing holiday pizzelles!

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Here is another of Hannah’s aprons.  This one was given to her by our cousin as a Christmas gift about 5 years ago.  I kind of have a thing for snowman stuff and think this is adorable and really wish it was mine!  That snowman face melts me.  Hannah wore this many times when we made snowball cookies (one of her favorites!).  Lots of confectioner’s sugar and lots of deliciousness!

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The same cousin who sent Hannah the snowman apron, sent this Santa apron to Carrie.  So cute, right?  Carrie thought she hit the big time in her very own Christmas apron.  She wore it all day, everyday for weeks.  She seriously thought it was part of her outfit most days of December!  Why would I ever object?  Cutie!

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Now, let’s think SPRING!  Casey gave this charming chick to Carrie for Easter the same time he gave me the cute mint green/orange apron featured in Part 2.  First, it’s yellow with lavender gingham ruffles.  Second, it’s a chick!  This apron screams spring!  It is the perfect thing to wear when we make carrot cake!  It also doubles as a prop for our Easter Egg Vanilla Cakelets.

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The next few aprons are really special.  The first may look familiar!  It’s the other side of the matching Christmas aprons above.  This side is a bright red cherry pattern with classic black and white details.  The reversible idea is so clever!  I have also used this pattern as a background for Swiss Meringue (YUM!).

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My mother-in-law gave these to us for Christmas and we can wear our matching cherry side year round.  Here’s mine from Part 2.  I always wanted to get a photo of all three of us in these but never did.  I’m going to work on that this summer because I love that they match!

 

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This apron is so cute!  Carrie made this at Vacation Bible School the year we had a cooking theme.  It’s artsy, fun and one of a kind!  The kids used stamps and paint to make their individual creations.  Carrie’s name completes this apron and it is truly a keepsake!

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The final apron is one Hannah gave to Carrie.  It was from her mission trip I talk about in Part 2.  It’s perfectly endearing and dainty and all things girly.  At first glance, it makes me think dress instead of apron.  Carrie looks adorable in it and it’s my favorite apron on her.  The color makes her eyes look extra beautiful!  The back is just as lovely as the front.  Precious.

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Aprons captivated me at a very early age and I have had a soft spot for them for quite some time.  After putting this post together, I realize how much I cherish each one.  I wish I had more photos of Hannah, Carrie and me wearing them.  The truth is, they are just part of what we do when we bake and I never think to snap a photo of us.  I will try to do that moving forward.  In the meantime, I hope you will share any apron photos you have.  I have seen some really cute ones and plan to expand my collection.  Don’t be surprised to see an Apron Strings Part 4 in my future! 🙂

From the heart, Shannon

Apron Strings Part 2

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Hello!  I’m so happy to share the second part of my apron series (click here if you missed Part 1).  Part 2 features aprons that have been given to me for many occasions.  Some of them I “gave” to myself!  I never get tired of seeing and receiving new aprons.  This collection is very special to me and I hope you can get lost for a few minutes in my little apron world!

 

 

The first is one of the most cherished aprons in my collection.  Hannah brought this back from one of her high school mission trips in Liberty, KY.  It was made by a Mennonite woman.  I love the bright colors and the simplicity of the design.  It’s modest and sweet.  When I wear it, I feel like Ma on Little House on the Prairie! DSC_0613                 DSC_0615 This cute blue and white apron was given to me by a dear friend.  I love the shade of blue combined with the bright red rick-rack trim.   There are little red sombreros on the patterned squares.  The apron shape, colors and patterns make it whimisical and fun!

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The next couple aprons were given to me when I started Floured Apron.  Hannah ordered this one and it has been my go to working apron when I have a lot of things to bake.  It’s soothing and brings me thoughts of her and all the times we have spent baking together.  I’m pretty sure she bought this one because of the chocolate cupcakes and cherries!  It’s a cute pattern but not super frilly and it was just what I needed in those early trial and error days of Floured Apron!

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This one is from my sister-in-law and my niece and nephew as a “congrats on starting your business” gift.  I have worn this a lot and it shows!  I feel like a professional baker and, of course, love that it has our name on the front!  Boy, it’s a mess, huh?  Rightfully so!  This apron has seen me through several test recipes, the good, the bad and the ugly!  We bonded early on in my learning process and I refer to it lovingly as my friend!

DSC_0611Casey, my husband, is so supportive of what I do and he enjoys surprising me with new aprons from time to time. He purchased both of these at Sur la Table.  If you haven’t seen their aprons, you won’t be disappointed!  Whenever I walk in that store, I run right to the clearance section to see what they have.  After that, I go look at the full price aprons and find myself lost in the cuteness!  He gave me this bright red one for Christmas.  Aren’t the little pom poms adorable?  The whole design is just FUN!

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Casey gave me this delightful apron for Easter.  I just wore this orange and mint green one today while making St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes.  It screams spring and I’m more than ready!  Isn’t it pretty?  Both the red and orange aprons are so feminine with their necklines and ruffles.  Confession:  When I wear these, I do twirls around the kitchen because they make me feel like I should dance!

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My mother-in-law and I share a love for baking and she rarely finds an apron (or a piece of pottery, but that’s an entirely different post!) she doesn’t buy and send me.  Each one is unique and I’m not certain where all of them came from but I’m thankful she spots them!

She loves nature and the environment.  This apron sums up many things I associate with my mother-in-law: natural, beautiful, sweet, gentle and LOVELY!

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Here’s a beauty she gave me for Christmas a couple years ago.  It’s covered in cherries and the little polka dot and outline details really give it character!  Can you see the big red buttons at the top?  Look for a couple more like this in my final Apron Strings series.

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Here is the most recent apron she gave me for Valentine’s Day.  The note she included was very sweet.  Since we moved, I have told everyone we do not want more stuff.  I’m trying to simplify and not collect so much.  Her note acknowledged that wish with a caveat that it’s fairly small and she couldn’t resist.  Thank goodness because this is SO STINKIN CUTE!  Right?  The color, the sweetheart neckline, the stripes, the cupcakes.  It’s perfection in an apron!  They really don’t take up that much space and I secretly hope she never stops finding  aprons for me! 🙂

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Get ready to step back in time!  Think 1950’s soda fountain and ice cream parlor.  Helen, a member of our church in Cincinnati, made several of these many years ago for an ice cream parlor type function.  I was introduced to this apron when we had a cooking theme for Vacation Bible School last summer.  Helen kindly shared these wonderful pink beauties with us to wear during VBS.  I told her I collect aprons and she knew all about Floured Apron and we exchanged a few stories.  The Sunday after we announced to our church family we were moving, Helen handed me a gift.  As you’ve already figured out, it was one of her adorable aprons.  I cried.  It serves as a reminder of our church in Cincinnati and sweet Helen!

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I bought this apron on a trip (not to North Carolina, believe it or not!) to San Francisco last summer.  I always wanted to take Hannah and Carrie to San Fran and, with Hannah leaving for college, I decided to do it.  We covered as much ground as possible: Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street, cable car ride, Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods and Ghirardelli Square.  We spent a few days in San Fran then drove down the coast to Santa Cruz and took a whale watching cruise in Monterey Bay.  It was a blast and we had many adventures and even more laughs!  This apron captures several California memories, including where Casey and I were married (hint:  it begins with a Y!).

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Last, but not least, is a darling pink, cupcake covered, ruffly apron.  I also bought this for myself.  I keep this one hanging in my kitchen all the time and wear it frequently.  I immediately get in my baking zone when I put it on.  I can’t explain it but it’s the one I turn to time and time again when I really have to crank out some cupcakes.  Plus, it’s precious (and pink)!

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I thought that was the last, y’all!  As I was finalizing this post, Casey returned from a business trip.  While traveling, he found himself in Savannah, GA and grabbed a bite at The Lady & Sons (Paula Deen’s restaurant).  He also grabbed this sweet thing!  Our kitchen is yellow with accents of blue and this definitely belongs with us!  Thank you, Honey!

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I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into some of my apron gifts.  I love each of them for so many reasons.  You won’t want to miss my next and final piece to this series!  I’m sharing all the fun kid aprons we have.  I would still love to see any of your aprons and please feel free to share this with your family and friends so they can share as well!

From the heart, Shannon

Apron Strings

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This is the first of a few part series I want to share with you about aprons.  Specifically, I thought this would be a great way to showcase my small(ish) apron collection and what each of them means to me and offer you the opportunity to share some of yours!

The timing of this series is intentional as March 11 was Mammaw Brooks’ birthday. She always wore aprons and she gave me my first. If you’ve read Our Story, you know the word “Apron” is part of our name for a reason. So, to celebrate aprons (and Mammaw’s birth month), I thought it would be fun to share some of ours!  I hope you enjoy this peek into my apron world. If you ever catch me in the kitchen, you’ll probably see me wearing one. I’ve grown to adore them!

My love for aprons started well before Floured Apron came to be. I didn’t realize it when I was a kid but I was always fascinated with Mammaw’s aprons. I remember her wiping her hands on them all the time, using her apron as a potholder to move an iron skillet from one burner to the other or take a pan of hot biscuits from the oven. She also tucked dishtowels into the waist of her apron, so she’d always have one handy.  She made most of hers and she always had big safety pins on the pockets. One day I asked her about the pins and she said, “Well, you just never know when you’ll need one.” Fair enough!  Especially, from a woman who was a master mind with duct tape!  I bet she fixed a million things with duct tape and big safety pins!  At the time, I didn’t think much about aprons or how many she had or their purpose. I just knew she had one on most of the time and she often let the grandchildren wear them.  While I wish I had more of hers, I’m thankful for the ones I have; they bring me comfort and inspire me to do what I do.

This apron was a gift from Mammaw when I moved into my first apartment. I was so happy to receive it and I loved that she made it just for me! Check out the embroidery. She embroidered anything she possibly could:  napkins, pillowcases, towels and, thankfully, she added that special touch to my apron.  Can you believe how sweet this is?  Precious.

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As the years went by, I treasured this apron and used it frequently (it has lots of stains!). Now, I treasure it even more and love that it has my name and sweet details straight from Mammaw’s hands.  The pink bow and the basket of fruit are simply adorable.  The pink flower between “Shannon’s Kitchen” served as inspiration for the pink flowers in our logo. I can just feel the love and care she put into this and it is one of my most beloved possessions. I have often wondered how she came up with the design and wish I would have spent more time talking with her about that when I had the chance. As much as I miss her, I always feel there’s a part of her baking right along side me. I know how much she enjoyed filling our stomachs with food, and our hearts with love.

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She also made this one for me. The gingham fabric and rick-rack trim are so cute! I have worn this one quite a bit and it just makes me think of spring.  I’ve used this apron as a background for some of my cupcake photos.  You can’t go wrong with gingham!

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Photo 5 Green Gingham Pocket

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Now, I’d like to share photos of aprons I’ve collected from antique stores. One of the many things I love about old/vintage aprons is that they must have so many stories!  I enjoy thinking about all the women who wore these and often wonder what types of foods they prepared while wearing their aprons.  For me, it’s fun to look at the handmade details such as the different shapes, embroidery, pleating, pockets and fabric styles.  The combined elements make each of these aprons unique and special.

The first is a sweet pink apron I found at an antique store in North Carolina when we were combining a vacation with college visits.  How cute is this?  It always brings a smile to my face and I wear this one a lot.  This little number takes my ordinary yoga pants and t-shirt ensemble to new levels!

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Here’s a close up of the pocket.  It is slightly stained along the top edge and the fabric is very thin behind the pocket.  I  can just imagine someone’s flour covered hand reaching into that pocket countless times.  What do you think has been in there?  I am a big fan of pink and this apron always makes me feel happy (and girly) when I wear it!

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Next up is another antique store find.  This one was purchased in Glacier National Park in Montana (my happy place!). This apron represents so many things about that vacation.  It has a natural beauty and soft flowing lines.  It’s pretty but not over the top fancy.  It has rick-rack along the entire outer edge and at the top of the pocket.  This one doesn’t have any stains, so I’m guessing it was not used for everyday cooking but maybe for a Sunday supper in a quaint cabin, nestled in the mountains of Glacier.  Yes, I think that’s it!

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This little gem is quite beautiful and is one of the fanciest aprons I have.  I found this one on a different North Carolina trip.  We spent a few summers looking at colleges so I was able to get to a few antique stores on occasion.  I love North Carolina and the aprons I purchased there serve as joyful reminders of our summer trips with Hannah and Carrie.  This apron is made with a sheer ivory fabric and the pockets and waist are adorned with a light blue floral pattern.  The trim is a delicate blue and ivory lace.  It’s simple and lovely and represents all things southern to me.

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That’s it for some of my older/vintage apron collection.  The next post will feature a different set of aprons that have been given to me from many people.  I hope you will share pictures or stories of your favorite aprons!

From the heart, Shannon

Who needs a fire pit?

A couple months ago, Carrie, my 7 year old (who is also a BIG cupcake fan!), shared something with me.  She said, “Why do you have a cupcake named after Hannah but you don’t have one named after me?”  I thought for a moment and realized I didn’t have a good answer and, frankly, hadn’t given it much thought.  Birdie’s Buckeye is the cupcake I named after Hannah, my 18 year old, because she adores anything peanut butter and chocolate and she loves homemade buckeyes.  Birdie is Hannah’s nickname and has been since she was a baby.  When I  started experimenting with the buckeye cupcakes, the name wasn’t something I really had to think about, it just worked!

The day Carrie posed her question, made me realize she felt a little left out of the cupcake naming.  After all, what’s more awesome than to have a cupcake named after you?

I looked at our menu and, while Carrie can gobble up any number of them and always has a new favorite, none of them seemed right as her cupcake namesake.  I keep a list of ideas and recipes I want to try.  One of the cupcake ideas on my list was something with marshmallows or a s’mores type recipe.  There’s nothing new about s’mores cupcakes but I never got around to experimenting with them.  S’mores have always been a family favorite.  What’s not to love, right?  The night before Casey and I got married (in Yosemite), we stuffed our faces with s’mores.  While most brides are not eating, hoping they fit in their wedding dress, I was inhaling roasted marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers.  To say the least, I was a happy bride!

Hannah and Carrie always enjoy fire pit nights filled with bags of big white mallows, Hershey’s bars and packs of graham crackers.  During the summer and fall months, making s’mores is one of our main activities.  Carrie kind of likes s’mores (I kind of like freckles and big blue eyes, but that’s another story)!

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I’m excited to introduce Carrie’s Campfire S’mores Cupcake as the latest addition to our cupcake family!

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One word…YUM!  This cupcake is AMAZING!  I experimented with how to arrange the s’mores components and, after some trial and error and several taste tests, came up with a winning combination.  These consist of a graham cracker crust in the bottom, dark chocolate cupcake with milk chocolate chips, gooey marshmallow frosting topped with a piece of Hershey’s bar.  In a later batch, I added cute Teddy Grahams to the top but I didn’t get a photo.

This was part of the experimentation process (someone had to do it)!

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I just love how pretty the marshmallow frosting looks!

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Most importantly, Carrie approves!

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With the cold weather and snow, these cupcakes have us longing for summer fire pit nights.  Hopefully, it won’t be much longer!  HA!  Until then, we’ll keep enjoying our delicious Carrie’s Campfire S’mores Cupcakes.  Try them!  

From the heart, Shannon

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