Tag Archives: every day tips and tricks

20 Next Level Baking HACKS!

Up your cake decorating game with this collection of 20 Next Level Baking HACKS!  Whether you want your boxed cake to taste like it was professionally made or you need a replacement for sugar or butter, this assortment of tips, printables, charts and more will help your cakes, cookies, brownies, and cupcakes look (and taste) better!

baking-hacks

20 Next Level Baking HACKS!

Want to make a boxed cake taste better?  Add one more egg than listed on the box, replace oil with melted butter and double the amount, replace water with an equal amount of milk, then mix and bake according to package instructions.  If that’s too much work, just combine all the listed ingredients and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Image result for boxed cake mix ingredients

Keep this list of baking swaps handy for last-minute changes.

Simple Baking Swaps

Use toothpicks to attach bread to a sliced cake to keep every piece nice and fresh.

Keep cut cake fresh with sliced bread. Learn more + cake recipe at TidyMom.net

You can also use a slice of bread to keep your freshly baked cookies nice and soft.

1. Dip cookie cutters in flour first before cutting dough to help cookies retain their shape.

When using a hand mixer, use a paper plate to prevent batter from splattering your kitchen.

Brilliant Baking Hack | Avoid Batter Splatter: Poke the ends of your mixer's beaters through the middle of a paper plate before attaching them to the mixer to act as a shield.

Are you terrified to write on a cake?  I AM!  To limit the stress, use a toothpick to outline your lettering or design before piping.

Edible Obsession: The Easiest Cake Lettering Tutorial Ever | LaurenConrad.com

Keep chocolate chips suspended in your cookies by rolling them in flour first.  You can also keep berries suspended in cakes or blueberries suspended in muffins by rolling them in flour as well.

how to stop chocolate chips from sinking 2

Use unflavored dental floss to evenly slice a cake in half.  I LOVE this hack and use it all the time!  Just place toothpicks evenly around the cake to help guide and line up the floss.

How to Cut a Cake Layer in Half with dental floss: Goodbye, Fear of layer cakes! This was so flipping easy, even I could do it!

Flip a muffin tin over to make edible chocolate chip cookie bowls.

OH, MY!!!!!  -

Create the ultimate non-stick release by combining flour, shortening, and vegetable oil.  Find the exact recipe at ifyougiveablondeakitchen.com.

Never worry about broken cakes again. This magic cake pan release leaves no crumb behind and you can store it at room temperature for up to three months. | www.ifyougiveablondeakitchen.com

Use a piece of masking tape to help level off cocoa powder.

Here’s a helpful chart with conversions on how to change metric to standard.

Get room temp butter lickety split by pouring boiling hot water into a glass.  Dump out the water and flip it over your stick of butter.  Let it sit for a few minutes and your butter will be softened in no time.

butter

Here’s a helpful chart for replacing sugar with honey in your baked recipes.

Use this helpful guide to create a perfect circle of parchment paper for your round cakes.

parchment paper

One cup sifted all-purpose flour does NOT mean the same as on cup all-purpose flour, sifted.  One cup sifted all-purpose flour means you sift the flour BEFORE you measure it.  One cup all-purpose flour, sifted means you sift the flour AFTER you measure it.

Speaking of flour, the perfect cake and cookie comes from measuring your flour correctly.  Avoid scooping flour out of the bag with your measuring cup.  This often results in getting more flour than you need.  Instead spoon the flour into the measuring up, then level off with a knife.

Image result for spooning flour

Spray your measuring cups with non-stick spray before measuring out sticky substances, like honey, syrup, and molasses.

Image result for spray measuring cups

Here are some great cookie substitutions.  Replace 1 egg with 1 banana or 1 cup butter with 1 cup apple sauce.  You can also replace 1 cup butter with 1 avocado for chocolate cookies, or 1 cup butter with 1 cup Greek yogurt.

Image result for substitute egg with banana

Here’s a list of temperature conversions if you need to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit or visa versa.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Toilet Paper Roll “Speaker” and Phone Holder

I don’t know about you, but I love jamming out to my favorite tunes when I’m cooking.  Maybe some Sinatra if I’m making pasta…maybe some bluegrass if I’m making some down-home stick-to-your-ribs comfort food…or, if all else fails, I’ll just pop on Pandora and hit shuffle!

But sometimes it’s hard to hear the phone speaker when I have pots and pans moving all over the place…and I always lose my phone under some towel or cookbook, only to find it when it ultimately falls on the floor…

So instead, I’ve found a crafty way to keep track of my phone AND hear my music better when I’m cooking!  The solution, funny enough, lies in your bathroom.

IMG_0377

Yes, I’m talking about toilet paper rolls.  Love em or hate em, these buggers are pretty useful around the house…and this little DIY Phone Speaker is a clever way to use it to your benefit.  All you need is some paper or Washi Tape to dress it up!

Make sure you put your phone or device into the holder speaker side down, which will help pump out the sound so you can jam to Dr. Dre when you’re cooking, cleaning or just chillin’ on the couch.

Toilet Paper Roll Phone Holder

Materials:

  • Toilet Paper Roll
  • Pencil
  • Craft Knife or Scissors
  • Washi Tape or Patterned Paper
  • Glue Sticks
  • 4 Push Pins

Instructions:

Place your phone on top of the toilet paper roll and trace around it to measure how big your hole will need to be.  Use a buddy to hold the toilet paper roll or tape it to your desk to prevent it from moving around.

Using a craft knife or scissors, cut out the hole.

Now it’s time to decorate!  You can use Washi Tape to decorate your phone holder quickly, or use patterned paper to glue onto the toilet paper roll.

Push one push pin into front and back of each round side of toilet paper roll.

Place your phone in the holder and jam out to your favorite tunes!

IMG_0378

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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11 Awesome Backyard Games for Summer

I grew up in a small Chicago suburb among a slew of other young kids with young parents.  We all lived in a small condo complex that circled a huge courtyard and budded up to a small man-made lake that housed a snapping turtle (or so legend says!).  I remember running home from school with my friends only to throw our stuff on the porch and play outside until the sun went down.  In the summer, we’d often be out until 9 o’clock at night, playing tag, making crafts, or just sitting outside amongst the bugs and the dirt.

Now as a 30-something with a growing family, I rarely see kids playing outside, if at all.  Most kids I see at the mall or at restaurants are on a phone or tablet.  Kids I see at the bus stop all have their faces buried in their electronic devices and, come 4 or 5 pm, the streets of my suburban Chicago neighborhood are EMPTY.

11-backyard-games-for-summer

I’m often reminded of this George Carlin skit when I’m driving home most days and see the sidewalks completely void of any demarcation of childhood.

As a kid who grew up with a stick in one hand and an earthworm in the other, I plan on being outside with my family as much as I can, and these fun outdoor family games are a great way to get kids out of the house…especially when the weather gets warmer!

If you have older kids, have them help you construct these games.  Many of them are easy to assemble and even older kids and adults will have fun playing this huge game of Kerplunk! with their friends.

Also great for summer BBQ’s, graduation parties, or 4th of July picnics, these 11 Awesome Backyard Games for Summer are sure to give you quality time with the people you love!

11 Awesome Backyard Games for Summer

DIY Backyard Jenga
jenga

Large Connect 4
connect 4

Yard Yatzee
yatzee

Tic-Tac-Toe
tictactoe

Backyard Bean Bag Toss
beanbag toss

Ring Toss
ringtoss

Large Kerplunk
kerplunk

Flamingo Ring Toss
flamingo ring toss

Garden Twister
twister

DIY Cornhole Boards
cornhole

Backyard Bananagrams
bananagram

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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11 Healthy(ish) Vending Machine Snacks

The 10 am hunger slump…the 3 pm hunger slump…the daily stress that just makes you want chocolate ERR DA TIME…the fact that food is 100% more interesting than anything you’re doing at work…that hopeful thought you have every time you pass the break room…

 party food celebrities reactions jennifer lawrence GIF

Sometimes you just have to feed the craving.

If you work in a corporate job, chances are there’s a vending machine in your break room…probably filled with candy bars and packaged baked goods, these snacks have most likely been sitting in there since before you were hired, just waiting for a despite hungry worker to come buy an old granola bar when no one was looking…just to have a little munchy.

And, if you’re one of the really lucky ones, you might have a vending machine that has a nice assortment of options…filled with chips, granola bars, and a few sweets here and there for those emergency moments.

And for those of us who are trying to be healthier, the vending machine can be a pitfall of despair, offering little to no options to actually help the hunger slump.  However, if an emergency hits, there are better options than others hidden in that vending machine.  So, if you are in dire need of a snack or something to get you through the day, here are 11 Healthy(ish) Vending Machine Snacks that won’t drag you down and make you feel like a slug.

snacks1

11 Healthy(ish) Vending Machine Snacks

Overall nuts, granola, trail mix or anything high in fiber and protein will help tame the hunger beast.  Look out for meal replacement bars that are packed with sugar or fatty snacks masked as healthy options. 

  • Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels (110 calories)
  • Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk (110 calories)
  • Sun Chips Original (140 calories)
  • Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts (160 calories)
  • Planters Sunflower Kernels (160 calories)
  • Nature Valley Granola Bar, Oats & Honey (180 calories)
  • Fig Newtons (190 calories)
  • Baked! Lays Original (210 calories)
  • Traditional Chex Mix (220 calories)
  • Triscuits (240 calories, but packed with fiber)
  • Peanut M&M’s (250 calories)

…And a Few You Should Avoid

All those muffins, pastries, and candy bars may look tempting, but they’re just gonna drag you down even more.  Plus, most of them carry tons of trans fat, sugar, and empty calories that are just no good!  If you must indulge…because really, sometimes you must, share these with a friend!

  • Austin Cheese Crackers with Cheddar Cheese (210 calories, also high in fat)
  • Doritos (250 calories)
  • Skittles (250 calories, also high in fat)
  • Twix (280 calories, lots of fat and saturated fats)
  • Lay’s Potato Chips (280 calories, packed with BHT)
  • Snickers Bar (280 calories)
  • Pop-Tarts Frosted Strawberry Pastries (420 calories)
  • Drake’s Apple Fruit Pie (440 calories)
  • Entenmann’s Jumbo Iced Honey Bun (660 calories, a serving is half a bun!)

 

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Seasonal Produce Printables

One of my favorite things about summer is going to local farmers markets.  For those of us who live in the Midwest, it’s often hard to find fresh seasonal produce at our local stores, so whenever the farmer’s markets come to town, we do our best to stock up on fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies.

And one of the best ways to buy your produce is to know what’s in season when you’re out shopping.  Buying produce when it’s in season often means fresher, cheaper, and tastier ingredients…and who doesn’t love that?

To help you learn what is in season when, here are some handy printables so you can see what fruits, veggies, and herbs are in season every month of the year.  Happy shopping!

Looking for clever ways to use your favorite herbs?  Check out this herb printable for some handy ideas!

SUMMER PRODUCE

summer

FALL PRODUCE

fall

WINTER PRODUCE

winter-veggies

SPRING PRODUCE

spring

Download All Produce Printables Here!

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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12 Easy DIY Lip Scrubs

As a life-long trumpet player, I know all about taking care of your lips.  The cold, dry weather, the heat from the sun, it can all wreak havoc on your skin, especially your more sensitive areas on your face.

In the winter, I easily go through a few tubes of Chapstick before the season is over, but sometimes it just doesn’t do the trick.  When I need to bring out the big guns, I use lib scrubs.

easy-diy-lip-scrubs

Lib scrubs are so amazing, and once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop.  Made using anything from sugar to coffee, these scrubs help remove the dead skin and dirt from your lips and leave them feeling super soft.

Omaze love kiss the walking dead i love you

While you can buy scrubs in a variety of flavors and styles, it’s just as easy to make them at home…and chances are you probably have everything you need in your pantry already.  So don’t fear the extreme weather…make your skin super soft with these easy DIY Lib Scrubs!

PS – you can also use these on your feet and hands, too!  We won’t tell!  😉

12 Easy DIY Lip Scrubs

  1. Honey Lip Scrub
  2. Raspberry Lemonade Sugar Scrub
  3. Vanilla Mint Lip Scrub
  4. Cotton Candy Lip Scrub
  5. Cinnamon Lip Scrub
  6. Mint Lemonade Lip Scrub
  7. Cucumber Mint Sugar Scrub
  8. Dark Chocolate Lip Scrub
  9. Rose Petal and Mint Lip Scrub
  10. Pineapple Lip Scrub
  11. Vanilla Peppermint Lip Scrub
  12. Lavender Vanilla Lip Scrub

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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9 Foods that Help Cure Hangovers

First thing’s first – HAPPY NEW YEAR! Phew, 2016 is finally over and done with and I bet we’re all ready to move on to bigger and better things.

I hope you all had a wonderful, fun, and SAFE New Year’s celebration! After a night of drinking and celebrating, it can be hard to get up and going the next day…especially if you’re nursing the common New Year’s hangover…

But you don’t have to suffer through it! There are things you can eat and drink now to help put a kabash on those headaches and stomach pains so you can get 2017 off to the right start!

cure-hangovers

Unfortunately, the science of hangovers (and how to prevent them) hasn’t quite made it to the research table…leading to brave souls inventing their own “cures” for morning headaches, nausea, and overall crappy-ness.

Though there is nothing that exists – that we know of, at least – that can act as a 100% cure all elixar, there are certain foods and drinks that are better for refuling than others. Stick to foods high in fructose, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals to banish those horrible headaches and help break town the toxins that are causing the reaction…and remember that alochol is a diuretic, which means it pushes water out of the body…so keep drinking water before, during, and after your night of drinking to help avoid a horrible morning.

If you still need some help getting out of bed today, here are a few drinks and foods that will help re-energize you, as well as a few foods to avoid so you don’t have problems later on!

9 Foods that Help Cure Hangovers

Water
Well this is a no-brainer. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means is pushes liquids out of the body (which is why you have to pee so much when you drink). For nourishment, the body will draw water from any available source, including the brain…thus the headaches. Drinking water before heading to bed and when you wake up can help prevent, or at least lessen, the hangover headache.

Sports Drinks
Sometimes there’s just nothing like the taste of a good ol’ fashioned Gatorade to get you back on your feet. Packed with electrolytes and sugar, sports drinks can help restore liquids and help you feel like your normal self.

Ginger or Peppermint Tea
If the nausea bug’s got you down, try an herbal tea. Ginger and peppermint are both known to help reduce nausea and motion sickness and may help ease stomach pain.

Coffee
If you drink coffee on the daily, keep on keepin’ on. The liquid in coffee can help rehydrate your body and skipping it may even lead to a worse headache. However, if you’re not normally a coffee drinker, the caffeine in coffee could make your headache worse…so to each his own.

Eggs
Ugh, eggs are literally one of the last things I want sometimes, but they are chock full of amino acids, which boost liver function. They also help break down the chemicals in alochol that cause headaches.

Bananas or Leafy Greens
Bananas have been praised for ages for having a lot of potassium, but there are actually some greens out there that pack more potassium than bananas…regardless, anything with potassium can help restore important electrolytes in the body. Add yogurt to your banana for an even stronger boost of the good stuff.

Chicken Noodle Soup
All us Jews out there know…this stuff is magic. Chicken noodle soup can help restore liquids in the body as well as restock sodium levels. The chicken is also packed with nutrients that are great for liver recovery.

Oats
A hot bowl of oatmeal contains a ton of essential nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium and iron. Oats can also help neutralize acids in the body and raise blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost.

Watermelon
Any water-rich fruit will help hydrate you and watermelon is loaded with potassium and magnesium, as well as other amino acids that help boost blood circulation.

WHAT TO AVOID

Greasy Foods
I know, I know…everyone says that a greasy spoon breakfast is what you need to fix everything, but actually a hamburger and fries is much better at PREVENTING a hangover than curing it. If you’re planning a big night of drinking, down a good pub meal beforehand to help prevent alcohol from being absorbed into the stomach lining and bloodstream. Eating food like this after you’re already hung over may actually cause more hurt by irritating your stomach.

Hair of the Dog
The Scandinavians were the ones who gave us this popular saying, but boozing in the morning is not the best solution to curing that hangover. Alcohol can help take the edge off, but it will further dehydrate you and make your hangover symptoms worse throughout the day.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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