Sunday, 27 July 2014

Recipe: London Fog Shortbread Cookies

Hello! I know I should be posting a DIY tutorial this week instead of a recipe but I am so excited about sharing these teabag cookies that I had to break the alternating DIY and recipe rotation. But out of all seriousness, have I ever stuck to that rotation? No, not really. 

I have been wanting to bake teabag cookies for a while and it happened to be my friend's birthday a few days ago so I decided to bake some of these cookies and give them to her. 

These are essentially earl grey shortbread cookies with vanilla, hence the London Fog title. This recipe makes a crisp shortbread cookie because it uses granulated sugar. If you prefer the softer, melt in your mouth type of shortbread, you want to use a recipe that calls for icing sugar. So here is what you will need:

1. Half a cup of unsalted butter
2. Quarter cup of granulated sugar
3. Quarter teaspoon of salt
4. One cup and an extra pinch of all purpose flour
5. Two tablespoons of earl grey tea leaves (~2 tea bags)
6. One teaspoon of vanilla 
Yields: 24 cookies
Cream together the butter, sugar, and salt. Add in the vanilla and the tea leaves. Mix in the flour. If the dough seems a bit dry at first, it is okay - just keep on mixing! 

Once everything is well incorporated, roll our your dough on a floured surface or a piece of parchment paper. You want the dough to be evenly rolled out and be roughly a quarter inch in thickness. At this point if your dough is too soft to be shaped and carry a clean edge, chill the dough for roughly 20 minutes before cutting out the tea bag shapes.
After you take the rolled out dough from the freezer, cut the dough into strips, then into little tea bag shapes. If you have a cookie cutter that is in the shape of a tea bag, that's even better! 
I used a straw to cut out the hole at the narrow end of the tea bag. You want to make sure the hole is big enough so that even if the cookies expand a little bit, you will still be able to thread a piece of string through it. Return the cookies to the freezer for another twenty minutes before baking. At this point you can start preheating your oven at 350F. 
Bake the cookies at 350F for 10-12minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown.
You can leave the cookies plain (I like it this way the best) but I decorated some of them with chocolate because I thought it looked extra cute this way. I melted some white chocolate and milk chocolate and used a butter knife to spread the chocolate across the lower third of the cookie. I used a knife to frost one side instead of dipping the entire end because I didn't want the chocolate to overpower the tea flavour.
I made the tags out of cardstock, attached them to embroidery floss, and tied them to the cookies. My favourite one says 'you're my cup of tea.' : )
And there you have it! Throw them (well not throw...more like gently place) into a tin or a box and you will have a perfect little gift. They look really cute in a mason jar too! I'm pretty sure everything looks cute in a mason jar.

 Until next time, happy baking!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Thrifting Thursday: Denim Floral Dress

Hello! I haven't done a 'Thrifting Thursday' post in a while...so I might be a little rusty at this. I am an avid thrifter. Well, I was until thrift store prices started matching regular store prices. A dolla can no longer make me holla at my local thrift stores. I was digging through a drawer of my thrifted pieces (yes, I have a drawer for thrifted clothing that I have yet to modify/wear/do anything with) and came across this floral and denim dress that I have yet to wear. I got this dress from Value Village for 3.99. Oh how I miss the days of thrift store pieces that are priced $5 and under. While browsing my older Thrifted Thursdays posts, I noticed that this dress was actually part of my first TT post...meaning I got this dress two years ago! What. Time sure does fly. 
This dress was actually pretty long - it hit mid-shin and in general was just at an unflattering length. I cut off a few inches of the dress and re-hemmed it with my mom's sewing machine. I am actually terrible at sewing and these simple hems are the only thing I can do with a sewing machine. The length of the dress is now right above the knee. Wouldn't it be great if I actually took a picture that showcased the new length of the dress? Apparently I do not plan these things out carefully enough and I forgot to take a picture of the entire dress...

I am totally digging the small pocket in the front - I think the pocket is the main reason why I gravitated towards this dress. I can put something useful in the pocket...like a pen...or a cookie...

(And yes, besides hacking a few inches off my dress, I also hacked off a few inches of my hair)
Expect a few more Thrifting Thursday posts this summer since I have a whole drawer of thrifted items. Until then, happy thrifting! 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Recipe: Pistachio Pudding Cookies (With Avocado!)

I know, I know. Everything I have been baking has been in some shade of green. If it is green, it is healthy right?! I promise the next recipe post will not be some sort of green/avocado baked good. (Hint: It will probably be a lavender and lemon tart topped with torched meringue. Yes, that's right. Torched meringue.) 

I've made these cookies three times already (in two weeks) because they were that good. Don't worry, I didn't eat it all. I baked them for work and for other people. I played around with the avocado and butter proportions with each batch and I think I have got it! These cookies are soft, chewy, and fudge-y. The texture is a hybrid between cake and cookie. It is crisp around the edges but super soft in the centre and I can't get enough of them. These are so easy to make that they make really good last-minute 'oh, I forgot about tomorrow's work potluck' kind of treats.

This is a recipe I found on The Kitchen Magpie, but I changed it just a bit because apparently I like to add avocado to everything. If you did not have a chance to read my last post about the butter-free avocado pound cake, you would have missed out on the monologue I had about my love of (hopefully) healthier butter substitutes. Avocado happens to be a great substitute and I had many ripe avocados around the house. The thing to remember when substituting avocado in baking is: for cakes you can replace all the butter with avocado and with cookies (or anything that needs to be a bit firmer or have more of a crisp), you can replace up to half of the butter with avocado. 

Enough rambling. Here is the recipe:
What you will need:
1. One quarter cup butter
2. A little bit under half a cup of white sugar
3. One quarter cup pureed avocado
4. Half a pack of Jell-O Pistachio Pudding Mix
5. One egg
6. Half a teaspoon of baking soda
7. One cup of all-purpose flour
8. Half a cup of white chocolate chips
9. Chopped up pistachios to garnish
Yields: Approximately 14 - 16 cookies

Preheat your oven to 350F. While the oven is preheating, cream together the butter, pureed avocado, sugar, and pudding mix. The batter should be this lovely light green colour! Add the eggs and continue creaming. 

Mix the flour and baking soda in a separate bowl and add this dry mixture to the butter/avocado mixture. 

Once it is all well incorporated, fold in the white chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto your baking sheet and garnish each ball with some crushed pistachios. (I pressed down the dough balls just a little).
Bake for around 8-10 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown. You don't want to over-bake these because they will not be in their full chewy and fudge-y glory if you do! Let them cool for a couple of minutes before removing them your cookie sheet or pan.
Random side note - I actually did not intend to blog about these cookies until I got asked to share the recipe. I had some trouble finding good photos to post up, but with some cropping here and there, I somehow managed to muster some half-decent photos for this post. Good thing I take pictures of everything I make!
These are so so so good fresh out of the oven and the next few days after they are made. So what I'm trying to say is that they are really good in general. Try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting! Keyword is 'try.'

Enjoy the cookies and happy baking!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Recap: Steveston Salmon Festival (Canada Day!) 2014

Happy July 3rd and to my fellow Canadian DIY-ers, I hope you had a lovely Canada Day. Every year on Canada Day I attend the Steveston Salmon Festival. My favourite things to do at the festival each year include buying a big slice of strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode, lining up for filipino barbecue, and browsing the craft fair held inside the community centre. This year, I had a slightly different Salmon Festival experience - I had my own booth at the craft fair! I signed up to be a vendor at the craft fair a few months back and got my jewellery "juried" in April. I was super happy when I found out that after browsing the craft fair year after year that I finally get to sell my jewellery. So this is just a brief (hopefully brief) recap of my day as a vendor at the Steveston Salmon Festival.

Set up happened the day before the festival. It would have been way too hectic to start the set up the day of the festival. I arrived at the community centre an hour before the craft fair opened to do some final set up. Set up for me does not take that long - all I have to do is place all my frames and necklaces on the table. Some other vendors had much more elaborate ways to display their work, but I kind of like how my necklaces are displayed : )
This was right before the craft fair was open to the public. My set up was pretty similar to the set up I had for previous craft fairs - DIY frame necklace holders (click here for the tutorial!) and price signs for necklaces according to theme. The only thing I did differently this time around was the appearance of the price tags. I printed off a cute whimsical border on mint-coloured cardstock and had the prices and necklace description handwritten inside the frame.


I was really happy with the way these little mint-coloured signs turned out! I had a mint theme going on - mint coloured business cards, mint signs, and of course I was wearing a mint-coloured dress.
I used my bird cage to display the earrings and mini easels to prop up the photo frame necklace holders.
At this craft fair, I got to use my Square card reader for the first time! Since I had the Square reader, I could accept both cash and credit card payments. 
A lot of familiar faces dropped by to say hi and to send some love. To all my friends that came to say hi or wished me luck at the craft fair, I really appreciate it : )

Eunice dropped by and even brought me a super delicious smoothie with a handwritten note. She also brought me a container of cherries. (Thanks, Eunice! <3)
This was my table for the day! And here is my lovely vendor buddy : ) (Thanks for being such a wonderful vendor buddy and lining up under the scorching sun so I could have some filipino barbecue for lunch. Let's continue to hate on other vendors selling overpriced things and subpar banana bread 'cause we both know you make a much better loaf.)
And that was pretty much it! I had a successful day at the craft fair and I am currently filling out the application to be a vendor at the Steveston Christmas craft fair in late November. If you have been following my blog for a while, thanks for sticking around and reading my rambles. If you are a new reader and found out about this blog through the craft fair, welcome to Constellation Inspiration and I hope you enjoy my DIY adventures. Until next time, happy DIY-ing!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Save the Date: Etsy + Steveston Salmon Festival

I have finally updated my Etsy - I added some new creations and made some more of the old favourites. But the exciting part of this post is that I will be selling jewellery at the Steveston Salmon Festival tomorrow! So if you don't have any Canada Day plans yet and live in the Richmond/Vancouver area...you should drop by! I mean the festival is always loads of fun...so even if you are not the biggest fan of craft fairs, you will still find so much to do there. The craft fair will be located inside the Steveston Community Centre and it goes from 10:00am - 5:00pm.

So this is what I have been making : ) I have also been making some custom orders (woop woop) so if there is anything you have in mind but do not see in my Etsy store, don't hesitate to contact me!








Along with the new pieces above are some that I haven't gotten around to place on my Etsy...but they will be found at my booth tomorrow at the Salmon Festival! I also made a few new locket necklaces but I forgot to take photos of them...





Have a lovely Canada Day and I hope to see you tomorrow!


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Recipe: Butter-Free Avocado Pound Cake

 Hello! Just a warning - this is going to be the first of many baking posts that I will be uploading. I've been experiencing a DIY-er's block lately and have not been as productive as I like in the DIY world...but luckily I have been in a baking mode lately. I have been baking too much for my own (and my waistline's) good, so I am going to document the process of getting my own show on TLC. It will be titled "Baking My Way to Obesity." Stay tuned.

I bought two bags of avocado last week and you know how avocados like to play these stupid little games with you? One second they are too raw, but the next, they are overly ripe. Avocado 1, Amy 0. I have been trying to use up my avocados before they all go bad. After some googling, I found out that I can use avocado as a butter/oil substitute in baking! I have used apple sauce as a butter substitute in the past, but I have never thought of using avocado. So this is what I learned when it comes to avocado and butter substitution: for cookies, you can substitute half of the butter with avocado and for cakes, you can substitute avocado for the butter entirely. I actually made pistachio pudding and white chocolate cookies with avocado before I made this cake (that recipe will be up in the near future), but a few people asked that I put up this recipe. So here it is, a butter-free avocado pound cake.

What you will need:
Adapted from: Fake Food Free
1. One cup all-purpose flour
2. One avocado
3. Three-quarter cup white sugar
4. A quarter cup brown sugar
5. Two eggs
6. A teaspoon of vanilla extract
7. Half teaspoon of baking powder
8. A pinch of salt
Yields: One 6 x 3 rounded cake

Preheat your oven to 350F and grease your cake pan. I used a little cooking spray and sprinkled some white sugar to the sides of the pan to prevent the cake from sticking (Thanks for the tip, Megan!). 

Cream together the avocado and the two types of sugar. Then add in the eggs and the vanilla. At this point, the colour of the batter will be kind of gross (okay, really gross) because the green from the avocado and the brown from the brown sugar do not compliment each other. Don't worry, the flour will save everything.

Add the baking powder and the salt, then slowly incorporate the flour. 

The batter should now look like this:
After you pour the batter into the cake pan, place the pan into the oven and let it bake for 35 - 40 minutes. The baking time really depends on what kind of cake pan you use. It might take a bit longer if you go with a loaf pan.
 Ta-da! Let the cake cool before taking it out of the pan.
Isn't this cake stand the cutest?! My lovely friend Megan and I found it at Crate & Barrel - it was pretty much love at first sight.
 Cut a big slice and enjoy! Will you be able to tell it's avocado upon first bite? Yes! This cake carries a very nice avocado flavour, so for those of you who do not like avocado and poke out the avocado pieces inside of a California roll, you might want to stick to a normal butter pound cake. But for an avocado lover like me, one single slice is not enough. Like most cakes, this is best when it is fresh out the oven when the exterior carries a light crisp.
Enjoy and happy baking!

Random fact that I learned: Pound cakes get their name from the ratio of ingredients used to make them - one pound flour, one pound butter, one pound sugar, and one pound of eggs. Pound cakes are usually baked in a loaf of bundt cake pan (but I used a circular cake pan because I really wanted to use my new cake stand).

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Recipe: White Chocolate Chip Matcha Cookies

Hello! I have always been obsessed with matcha-flavoured baked goods and desserts but after visiting Basho in East Vancouver the other weekend, I knew I had to make some matcha goodies for my constant matcha cravings. Basho offered a very delicious white chocolate chunk matcha cookie and here is my take on their cookies, but a less sweet and more matcha-flavoured version. The texture of these cookies resemble that of a crinkle cookie - a softer and more crumbly cookie. If you prefer the texture of a more traditional cookie, head over to my simple fail-proof cookie recipe and add matcha powder to that instead : )

What you will need:
1. One cup whole wheat flour
2. One quarter teaspoon baking soda
3. Half teaspoon salt 
4. One heaping tablespoon of matcha powder
(I used 'matcha matsu' from David's Tea)
5.  Half cup unsalted butter
6. A little less than a quarter cup of white sugar
7. Half a cup of packed brown sugar
8. One teaspoon vanilla extract 
9. One egg
10. Half a cup to three-quarter cup of white chocolate chips 

Makes 15 - 18 cookies

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and matcha powder. In a larger bowl, mix together the butter and sugars. Then add the vanilla and one egg to this larger bowl. Beat until well mixed.
Add the dry mixture to the larger bowl and mix until they are well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoons of the dough on a nonstick baking tray and bake for roughly 7 - 9 minutes until edges are golden brown.


Happy baking and try not to get addicted to these cookies!