Category Archives: Sweet

Recipes and How-to for Sweet Dishes

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract

vanilla-extract-homemakerchic.comSo, two Christmases ago, before I was the lucky mother of two children (and I had all sorts of free time), I decided to make all homemade gifts for my family. I made lovely gift baskets with lots of really cool homemade goodies including this glorious Vanilla Bean Extract. I couldn’t blog about it at the time because it would have spoiled the surprise for all my family. So I had big plans to blog about it in the fall of last year so my readers would have time to make this really thoughtful gift for their families in time for Christmas. Only I had a baby. So here we are in the last day of January 2016 and I’m not going to put it off anymore. Now you will have around 11 months to prepare to make Vanilla extract for everyone on your gift list. You could have a whole vanilla extract factory in that amount of time! Here’s how…

sks-bottle-amber-bottles-homemakerchic.com1) First you will need some dark amber bottles.

The dark color of the bottle keeps light out and preserves your finished product and helps it to last longer. to the rescue! They have these lovely amber bottles that have the bonus of including tamper evident caps and pouring inserts that keep your vanilla beans from falling out every time you want extract. At less than $1.50 a piece for the 8 oz size (which by the way will hold enough vanilla extract to last your average home baker approximately a lifetime give or take) the price was definitely right! The 4 oz size are around $1 each. You just can’t find them any cheaper, I looked. I absolutely love the old fashioned look of these bottles.

2) Get some good quality vanilla beans.

For an 8 oz bottle you will need 7 beans per bottle.

I got mine from on Amazon. I got 1 pound of Madagascar Vanilla beans for $56.75. That’s over 100 beans. I looked and that price has gone up since I bought them, but you don’t need a whole pound. I got a bunch because I was making a lot of these for gifts and also using them for other projects (Homemade Kahlua!). If you’re only making a few of these you can get 25 beans for around $30.

3) Pick your poison.

You will need 1 cup 70 Proof Alcohol

Next you will need to decide if you want to make a bourbon vanilla or a vodka vanilla. Whether you use vodka or bourbon is up to you. Bourbon has more flavor than vodka and will yield a richer, deeper, final flavor. Vodka is a more neutral flavor and really lets the vanilla beans shine. Vodka is also less expensive if you’re trying to stay on a budget (Costco’s Kirkland brand is great!). You can also try light rum, I haven’t tried it but I read lots of reviews of people who loved it. Whichever you choose, avoid using alcohol with too high of an alcohol level as it can really break down the vanilla beans too much and it just won’t work right. 70 proof will do the trick.

4) Make the stuff.

Slice the beans in half and shove them down into your bottles. You can cut them into smaller pieces if you have a hard time fitting them in, but I liked the elegance of the long leggy beans.

Using a funnel, pour the alcohol into the bottle.

Press the white plastic strainer pieces firmly inside the openings of the bottles. (Sometimes they get hidden inside the caps if you can’t find them). Then affix the caps by pressing straight down firmly. If you’re having a hard time getting them on, try to twist gently to the right as you’re pressing down. Don’t twist too hard or you will break your tamper proof seal. It takes a little finesse but I love this feature. It makes them so finished and professional (especially if you wanted to sell these).

5) Labels & Presentation

homemade-vanilla-extract-homemakerchic.comI really love these brown Kraft labels for various purposes. They just look so old fashioned and I love the way they turned out against the amber bottles. I used a font called Chocolate Box from 1001freefonts. I used round ones but in the future I might use something with a different shape like these. 

And these scalloped ones are really cute too! And these would be nice if you were using smaller bottles. 

And rustic twine is just a must in my opinion. I buy twine by the roll and use it for everything. I wrap gifts with it, tie gift tags on with it, I wrap pencils in it, hang pictures with it. Tie my hair back with it. I’m a big time twine fan. Adding a little to these bottles just totally makes it special.

Finally, leave the extract for at least 8 weeks (or more!), shaking the bottles once a week for good measure.  Enjoy!!

Beet Juice Recipe PLUS Juice Pulp Muffins!

Recently I’ve gotten into juicing! My dad loaned me his Jack Lalaine juicer several months ago and I’ve been meaning to try it. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when a friend introduced me to a new vegetable stand about a mile from my house that sells organic veggies at great prices that I finally got the itch to make some tasty juices! I decided to start with beets. After trying a few different blends I finally came up with one that is so delicious, surprisingly sweet and super nutritious. Beet+Carrot+Cucumber+Apple.

I was shocked by how quickly the juicer did its job! In just a few minutes it had pulverized my fruits and veggies into a glorious deep red beverage, and spit out about 8 cups of pulp just as quickly. I was really surprised by how much pulp was left over. And I felt like it was such a waste to throw out all that good stuff, so I figured why not whip up some healthy muffins while I’m at it? So today you get a bonus Carrot Beet muffin recipe.


  • 2 med/large Organic beets
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 2 small apples
  • 6 large carrots

Prepare the beets by cutting off the hard stem area, and peeling them. It is very important to use organic root vegetables because they are steeped in the soil and if that soil has pesticides in it you will have pesticides in your juice. Yuck. The first time I made this recipe I did not peel the beets and I found it had much too strong of a “dirt” flavor even though I thoroughly washed them. Cut the beets into small enough pieces that they will fit easily into your juicer. Craftsy The apples should also be cut into halves or quarters depending on the size. The cucumbers and carrots should fit just fine. Now juice! Since we are only using the pulp from the carrots, beets and apples, juice those first then set the pulp aside. TIP: After trying this recipe a few times I found that I was left with quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of my jug of juice after it settled in the fridge. To eliminate this I decided to pour my juice through a coffee press. You could also pour it through cheese cloth. This helped a lot! RECIPE:

  • 4 cups juice pulp
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, mix sugar, oil, and eggs. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture and blend well. Fold in juice pulp, raisins, and blueberries. (Be sure to pick through your pulp firstto make sure it doesn’t have any large pieces that didn’t get chopped up by the juicer). Grease mini muffin tins with cooking spray (the kind with flour mixed in). Fill the cup almost completely full as these muffins do not rise a whole lot. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Eat them HOT! Enjoy.🙂 P.S. My toddler loves these healthy muffins!


Corona-rita Lime Cupcakes

margarita-lime-tequila-corona-cupcakes-recipecoronaritaIf you’ve known me for any time at all you might know that I happen to love Key West. And two things that I love to enjoy while I’m in Key West (or anywhere!) are Margaritas and Corona. The fresh lime flavor just sends me to paradise in a way little else can. So a few years ago when I learned that the Coronarita existed I had a mini-heart attack and had to order one as soon as possible. It tastes just as magical as it looks. But then I thought, how could this delightful marriage of tequila, lime and corona get anymore fabulous? And the magic continued…

I had seen recipes for margarita cupcakes floating around pinterest. And I’d used beer in cake before (like the guinness in my irish coffee cupcakes). So I had the idea to blend the two and make a totally new recipe.

I give you the Corona-rita cupcake.



  • 1 Lime Cake Mix
  • 1 bottle Corona beer
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 limes
  • Sea Salt for garnish
  • Tequila for brushing (about 2 T)

For Frosting:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 T tequila
  • 1 T freshly grated lime zest
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice

Cake Decorating Supplies

Prepare the cake mix but make the following substitutions. Instead of water, use the same amount of corona called for on the box. Instead of oil use the same amount of melted butter called for on the box. Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with cupcake liners filling the cups 2/3 full. Bake as directed. Allow cupcakes to cool. Brush tops of cupcakes with Tequila.

Tip: Bake your cupcakes in plain white cupcake liners, and save your pretty liners for after they come out of the oven. Double up the liner so you have a bright and fresh look on the outside. You could also make custom cupcake wrappers if you’re feeling crafty.


In a mixer cream together the butter, sea salt, lime juice, and tequila. Add the powdered sugar one half cup at a time, stopping periodically to scrape down the bowl (or try the new KitchenAid mixer attachment that has a spatula attached to the side and automatically scrapes down the bowl as it beats! I love this thing!) You can add more or less tequila and lime to suit your taste. I ended up adding more than I originally planned because I wanted it to really taste like a margarita.

Craftsy Cake Decorating ClassI use a 1M wilton tip to frost my cupcakes. Garnish with a slice of lime, a little sea salt, and some lime zest. Your guests are sure to love this refreshing treat! Now who’s ready for a trip to Key West?



Rustic Lemon Raspberry Buttercream Layer Cake

raspberry-lemon-layer-cake-homemakerchic.comI love family get togethers because it gives me the chance to show off my baking chops and to try out new recipes. Which really benefits everyone, especially you! Well maybe it benefits my family slightly more because they get to sample the delicious treats! This summer I made this fabulous Lemon Raspberry Layer cake which was equally as scrumptious as it was gorgeous. And the rustic messy buttercream frosting is so splendidly simple to do.Cake Decorating

Craftsy Cake Decorating ClassYou will need two batches of your favorite vanilla cake recipe or vanilla cake mix. Its surprisingly easy to find organic and gluten-free cake mixes now! They’re a bit more expensive than your usual Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker mix, but they don’t have all the garbage in the ingredients. Check out your local supermarket (super Target, whole foods and Trader Joes have great selections) for products from Bob’s Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills or you can grab them on Amazon and have them delivered to your door!

Here’s what you need for the cake:

  • 2 x vanilla cake mixes (or your favorite homemade recipe)
  • 2-3 lemons (you will need 2 for the juice and zest, and one for garnish)
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (plus 8-10 extra berries for garnish)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3 cups seedless raspberry jam
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Pink food coloring
  • Red food coloring
  • 1 x – 8″ cardboard cake round

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 7.5 cups confectioners’ sugar (one 2 lb bag)
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat until blended.
  2. Add the milk, lemon zest and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.Craftsy Cake Decorating Class

Make the following adjustments to your mix-

Lemon Cake:

  1. Substitute half lemon juice and half water for the liquid called for in the instructions.
  2. Substitute melted butter for the oil called for in the mix.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of freshly grated lemon zest.
  4. Add 5-6 drops of yellow food coloring.
  5. Pour into two 8″ greased cake pans. I like to use Baker’s Joy cooking spray with flour added. Bake as directed

Raspberry Cake:

  1. Substitute cream for the water called for in the mix.
  2. Substitute melted butter for the oil called for in the mix.
  3. Add 1/2 cup pureed and sieved raspberries (about 1 cup of whole berries). Be sure to use fresh, ripe, sweet berries. Its best to let them ripen for a few days before you make the cake, so they are at their peak sweetness. Sieve them through some cheesecloth or a chinois (which is really just a fancy pants version of a fine strainer) to remove all the seeds. Because let’s face it, no one likes raspberry seeds.
  4. Add a few drops of hot pink food coloring, and 1-2 drops of red food coloring to get a nice deep raspberry color.
  5. Pour into two 8″ greased cake pans. Bake as directed.

Assembly and Frosting


To make this glorious layered effect we are going to be torting this cake. To tort a cake just means you are slicing each layer in half and adding filling in between. This makes your cake slices look beautiful plus it gives you more filling which makes for a much more delicious cake.

I recommend using a cake slicer (or cake saw) like this one from Wilton. You can use it to level off the tops of your cake, then drop it down to the lowest setting and slice your cakes in half. Be sure to do this on a level counter or table or your cakes will end up lopsided.

Slice all four cakes in half. Then begin by smearing a little frosting on your cake board then place the bottom raspberry piece down. The frosting will keep the cake from sliding around. Add about 1/2 cup of jam in the center and spread it around leaving about 1/2 inch of space all around the edge (that way when you place your next layer on the jam doesn’t smush out the sides.) Next, add a lemon layer and more jam. Continue layering one raspberry, then one lemon layer, with jam in between until you get to the top. Make sure your top piece is a “bottom” layer of one of your cakes. That way you will have a smooth top and not too many crumbs. Does that make sense?

Now for the frosting. Just drop a big blob of frosting on the top of your cake and, using a large offset spatula, begin working the buttercream down the sides in smooth swirly motions. Don’t worry about making it too smooth. Just make sure you have a nice even layer. Then go back and using the tip of the spatula make some nice rustic swirls. Finally, slice your lemon and stick a few slices around the bottom of the cake and add a few berries for garnish. That’s all she wrote friends! I hope you enjoy this delicious and delightful cake!



Homemade Valentine’s Day Mints Recipe

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and this year I wanted to make something extra special for my friends and family. I saw a recipe for homemade Altoids a while back and decided I would make my own spin on the curiously strong mint. I’m not a huge fan of peppermint so I decided to make Vanilla Spearmint Heart Shaped Mints.home-made-mints-homemaker-chic

2014-02-06 12.10.33I have these amazing tins from SKS and I knew I just had to use for this project. You could certainly use repurposed Altoids tins but I made this adorable logo to go on the tops of the tins and the altoids containers have ridges on them and you can’t put a sticker on it. mint-to-beYou are welcomed to use my logo for free, because I’m just THAT nice🙂.

The tins from SKS are excellent quality and made for a lovely gift. This would also make a super cute wedding favor. I would recommend buying a big bag of ready made mints if you wanted to use the tins for a wedding because these are a scoche time consuming to cut out, and not really any cheaper than just buying mints at the store. These are just super fun to make and cute!

2014-02-06 11.39.47The recipe only calls for a few simple ingredients:

  • 1lb Gum Paste
  • Confectioner’s Sugar (powdered sugar) For a sugar free version of these mints try Xylitol.
  • Flavor Oils or Essential Oils
  • Food Coloring


Prepare the gumpaste following the instructions on the bag or carton. You can also buy ready-made gum paste. Either will work for this recipe.


Cut off an egg sized portion of the dough. Add a bit of food coloring (I used a little green for a nice mint color) and 5-6 drops of oils. I used 6 drops of Spearmint Oil and 1 drop of Vanilla Oil for a sweet mint flavor. You could really get creative with the flavors, as long as the essential oil is food safe you can use it as flavoring. Or you can try Lorann flavoring oils in flavors like Wintergreen, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Orange, even Root Beer! The Oils are dirt cheap so get a bunch and try them out. Knead the dough until the oil and coloring is well incorporated. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Now you are ready to cut out your mints!

2014-02-05 23.31.19

I found these fantastic heart shaped cutters with plungers. The plunger makes it super easy to get the dough out of the cutter. The set I found came with 5 different sizes so you could easily do a super adorable mixed size batch of mints. They have other cool shapes besides hearts like stars, circles, squares and more. You could also use a large straw to cut these out if you don’t have the cutters.homemade-mints

2014-02-06 12.38.20Once you’ve cut out your mints, toss them in a little more powdered sugar so they don’t stick to each other, and lay them out on waxed paper to dry overnight. Allow them to dry for 24-48hrs for a nice hard, crunchy candy.2014-02-06 12.48.26

Line your tins with some tissue paper in a complimentary color to your mints. One egg-sized portion of the dough yields about 100 mints which will nicely fill up one tin. The entire container of gumpaste will make about 600-700 mints. You’ll want to make all the mints within a day or so of preparing the gumpaste because it will dry out and harden. I hope you have lots of fun making mints! I know these will make such a lovely valentine gift for all my friends.🙂

2014-02-06 12.56.32

Baking Cupcakes with Silicon Baking Cups

One of the benefits of blogging is that I often get asked to try products and share them with my readers. I don’t often accept these offers because I am very choosy about what I will endorse, and also I want to always provide my readers with relevant content that represents Homemaker Chic. Well recently I was approached by The New York Baking Company about trying out their silicon baking cups and seriously friends, these are SO cool.

I’ve seen these before in stores but never really considered trying them, but I’m so glad I finally gave them a shot!

They’re called Baking Buddies and they come in a set of 12 in four really bright and super cute colors. You don’t have to use paper cupcake wrappers or cooking spray at all. The cupcakes baked so evenly and perfectly and the best part is that the slipped right out of the cups without sticking.


Well… the chocolate cake was more moist and did stick the slightest bit but not enough to bother me.


I’m not sure I would use them as shown in the photos on the site. They show them being used as actual cupcake wrappers which I suppose you could do, but I would be worried people might throw them away.


I like these cups for when you do not want a wrapper on a cupcake at all. For example I used them for making little petit-four cakes by slicing the rounded tops off the cupcakes, placing them upside down, slicing them in half to add a filling, and then piping some decorative frosting on the outside. The cups were great for this purpose because they yielded perfect little cakes with no need to peel off paper that takes half the cake with it!

Try them out. I know you’ll like them!


Romantic Ruffle Wedding Cake

romantic-cakeI don’t often toot my own horn, but I am so stinkin’ proud of my most recent wedding cake that I just had to share it with all of you! I’ve been dying to do a romantic style wedding cake, and I got the opportunity last month to create this 4 tier, over 2 foot tall, masterpiece. It was so much fun to make, and the wedding was positively stunning. The photography is by the amazing Ariel at Ari Photography who photographed my own wedding. My sister danielle at Save The Date FL did the beautiful flowers.

romantic-cakeThis was actually a dummy cake, where the tiers are made of styrofoam and I covered them in real fondant. It works out great when you want a huge fabulous cake, but don’t have 500 guests. The 130 guests were served sheet cake in Champagne Vanilla cake with strawberry filling and vanilla buttercream, and Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and dark chocolate ganache.

Whenever I do a dummy cake people often ask what to do about the cake cutting. The bride and groom actually cut their slice out of a little tiny two-tier cake that I prepared for them. The top tier is their piece for the night, and the bottom tier which is a 6″ cake is their anniversary cake. You can see in the last picture where they are cutting the cake that it worked out perfectly!

ribbon-cakeCake Decorating Supplies bride-and-groom-cake-cutting