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Summer Foraging Recipe: Elderberry-Blueberry Jam with Chia Seeds

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In the woodland valleys of Central California, Elderflower trees have been in bloom all spring with their prolific, lacy white blossoms.  I've enjoyed making Elderflower syrup, candied elderflowers and sweet Elderflower Tempura.  A few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting to bear fruit -- diminutive, tart little berries, deep purplish-blue growing in heavy clusters.  

Inspired by a love of biscuits and jam, foraging, and adapted from a recipe from Simply Beyond Herbs, I whipped up a simple and delicious jam made from the foraged Elderberries, fresh blueberries and using chia seeds for a perfect jammy consistency.

Enjoy and Happy Foraging!
PrintWith ImageWithout Image Elderberry-Blueberry Chia JamYield: One half-pint jarAuthor: Jenn Erickson Prep time: 10 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 20 M An easy and delicious sweet-tart jam to make from foraged Elderberries. Ingredients:1 1/2 cups elderberries, rinsedPinch of salt1 cup blueberries, rinsed2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds1/2 Tabl…

DIY: Silhouette Easter Eggs

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I love the charm and old fashioned elegance of the silhouette.

For this year's Easter eggs I decided to stray from the usual palette of pastel & polka-dotted whimsy; opting instead to play off the natural alabaster of the eggshell with a sharp contrast of elegant black.



The wonderful thing about this technique is that it doesn't require special transfer paper or expensive equipment. 

If you have some white tissue paper, Mod Podge, a glue stick and a printer, you can make Silhouette Easter Eggs without spending a penny!

Silhouette Easter Eggs
Materials Eggs (hard boiled if you plan to eat them, or blown if you want to keep them) White tissue paper (ironed flat if it's wrinkly) Silhouette images (I used the beautiful free images from The Graphics Fairy) A sheet of copy paper A glue stick (I like the Elmer's Craft Bond Repositionable) Scissors Mod Podge Paint brush An old gift card or club card to use as a refining tool 

Step 1:  Find some silhouette images that you like.  I found…

DIY: Pressed Flower Easter Egg Tutorial

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After the fun I had last year adhering elegant Silhouettes to Easter eggs, I felt inspired to try embellishing my eggs with a different paper-thin medium this year. 

What could be more naturally lovely and simple than pressed flowers?  These beautiful eggs require only three materials:  eggs, pressed flowers and Mod Podge.  

Lacking the patience to press my own flowers, I sent away for a sample pack of pressed blossoms from Greetings of Grace.  After a bit of trial and error, I determined that the thinner the flower, the easier they are to adhere.  Try to avoid flowers, like daisies, that have thick centers.  Here are some of the types of flowers that work best:  pansies, verbenas, violas, hydrangeas and forget me nots.

Each egg can hold 6-8 blossoms, although I liked the way that the single chrysanthemum on the stem turned out.  The pressed flowers can be purchased in packages and end up costing only a few pennies each.  
Ready to make some?  Let's go...
Easy Pressed Flower Easter E…

The Ultimate Kit Kat Birthday Cake
Featuring My Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe

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I've been working for years to perfect my signature chocolate cake recipe -- a cake that is moist, deeply chocolatey, and can be stacked umpteen layers high.  The batter is versatile -- baking up perfectly peaked cupcakes or easy to level layers.  The best part is, it hardly takes more time to throw together than a mix! 

When you have the perfect recipe, it's easy to get creative with all the possibilities for complimentary fillings, frostings and decorations.  This week my youngest daughter turned eight.  She's a huge fan of Kit Kat bars, so when she asked that I bake her a chocolate cake, I knew exactly what I'd make for the birthday girl.

This towering chocolate confection feeds 10, generously.  It consists of 6 layers of decadent sour cream chocolate cake, homemade chocolate frosting, and lots of Kit Kat bars.



Print
With ImageWithout Image The Ultimate Kit Kat Birthday CakeYield: 1 tall 6" cake
Author: Jenn Erickson Prep time: Cook time: Total time: My signature c…

The Easiest & Quickest Way to Make Lace Crowns {Tutorial}

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Lace crowns are utterly enchanting. But they can be time consuming to make. Not these.
Whether you plan to adorn one royal head or a whole party of princesses, this new shortcut method for making lace crowns from crochet lace are royalty-ready in just a few hours.

In early 2012 I fell head-over-crafty-heels for the lace crowns I had seen online (at Bitter Betty Blogs, Girl Inspired andJoyfolie to name a few).  The crowns were sensational and the technique was simple.  Yet the fabric stiffener used in the projects often needs 24 hours to completely dry.  I'll admit it -- I'm an impatient crafter.  So I immediately started experimenting to find a quicker way to make lace crowns.  In February, I published my "Lace Crowns: Quick Microwave Method".  Using the same materials as the other tutorials, I was able to shorten the time by using a microwave oven.  The method is quicker, but has a few quirks, so I've been longing to come up with an even quicker and easier way to get th…

Recipe: Hello Dolly Cookies

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Imagine if you will, a Magic Cookie Bar and a Chocolate Chip Cookie got together and made a delicious little baby cookie. That's what we have here.
The "Hello Dolly Cookie", also known as the "Magic Cookie Bar" has been around since the 1960s. The origin is up for debate, but no matter what you call it, the original bar-like treat is inarguably delicious and easy to make. The recipe below is an actual cookie version of the classic bar. They look a lot like chocolate chip cookies, but are chewier and have that whole salty/sweet thing going on.
This is a great recipe for kids because it's so easy to make. If you want your cookies to look professional (and bake-up evenly), invest in a few portion scoops. I recommend a #30 for cookies. It's a generous size cookie, like the ones you get at Mrs. Fields or Nestle stores.
Here's one I recommend:

Hello Dolly Cookies (yield:  approx. 28)
1 ½ cups fine Graham Cracker Crumbs ½ cup all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons…

Recipe: "Dirty" Rice with Chicken and Andouille Sausage {a one-pot family favorite}

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Aww geez, has it really been since December since I last posted?  Where has the time gone?  Well, school's out, which means that this teacher has a little more time on her hands.  I've been enjoying a little me-time, and in the process of sitting back and enjoying the silence, I realized how much I've missed connecting and sharing through my blog. So, over the summer, I'm hoping to share some of the recipes that I developed for my family and my students over the course of the school year.  

I'm starting with an absolute family and kids-of-all-ages-approved one-pot dinner:  "Dirty Rice and Chicken".  This dish ranks high on my list of ultimate comfort foods.  It is so delicious, so flavorful, and very easy to make.  We always make a double-batch in our oversized Bayou Classic cast iron pan (love this thing!!) so the kids can enjoy leftovers all week.  My kids enjoy it simply warmed up, but I've been know to shred the chicken and wrap it all up in a warm…