Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March is National Craft Month!

And Qreative Quail has been featured on aubreandrus.com, along with 2 other talented ladies of the crafty night. Take a moment to browse their sites for inspiration for your next creative adventure. Hmmm, if there's a craft month, I wonder if there's a baking month, too??? Yum!

And while you're surfing the web, take a gander on Aubre's site as well. She's got a friendly and captivating writing style that draws you in and interesting posts to keep you coming back.

Mad about Macarons

Lately, I've been running into these little guys everywhere. On my favorite baking blogs, magazine pages, and even during lunchtime chats with my co-workers. Some say they're the new cupcake. So what's with these pretty little French cookies? Well, curiosity, or my stomach, got the best of me and I insisted on trying them. Problem was, there's not a single bakery or sweet shop that make them in my humble little town of 250,000 people. So I scoured the web for the best recipe I could find (well, the least intimidating recipe) and got to work baking a few batches of these sweet sandwiches. Warning: This was my first time attempting to make macarons and have nothing to compare them to except the photos I find online. I am happy to say that they tasted amazing so that's reason enough to declare myself an official Macaron Maker - but not yet a Master. Overall, I think they were a success but I feel there are a few little things I need to improve on. I have a feeling that the more I make, the better each batch will turn out. Let the baking begin!

There are many tips and tricks to getting the perfect macaron and to achieve what they call feet (the desired cookie edge when it rises). Here are a few in case you're thinking of attempting them yourself - which I highly recommend.
1. Let your egg whites sit out at room temperature for at least 48 hours. I know that sounds gross but do it anyways. I only let mine sit out overnight and they clearly needed more time.
2. Use a scale to measure your ingredients. Accuracy is important.
3. Practice piping if you're not yet skilled at it. I had never piped before so I ended up with a mess of batter all over me and the counter. You can also draw circles on the back of your parchment as a guide for when you're piping.
4. Before you pop them in the oven let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about 30 minutes.
5. Fold your dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites. Do not over mix otherwise you'll get weird feet and fragile tops.
6. You can use anything for the filling. Frosting, ganache, and even ice cream! I used sugar-free blackberry jam (full sugar jam was too sweet) and Nutella.

Here's what my batter looked like after piping it on the baking sheet. It turned out thinner than I liked which I contribute to either not letting the egg whites sit out longer or over-beating the batter.

Note: for those of you not familiar with a macaron, they are bite-sized French cookies, that consist of a decadent filling sandwiched between 2 light cookies, that tend to come in pretty pastel colors. Not to be confused with coconut macaroons (spelled with two o's, not one).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sweet Sliders

My brother's surprise birthday party is today, so I finally have an excuse to make hamburger cupcakes. The best part, he's vegan and so are the cupcakes. How's that for an oxymoron! I can't wait to see him bite into these tasty sliders.

(See below for recipes.)

To make hamburger cupcakes:

1. Bake a batch of vanilla cupcakes. Cut them in half to create the top and bottom "buns".
2. Bake a batch of chocolate cupcakes. Pour only a small amount into each cup so they are much smaller. Or, you can make brownies in a cupcake tin instead. This will be your "meat".
3. Color frosting green and pipe onto bottom "bun". This will be your "lettuce".
4. Place your "meat" on the bottom "bun" and use red and yellow decorating frosting to create "ketchup" and "mustard".
5. Place top "bun" on top. (optional: sprinkle real sesame seeds on "bun".)
6. Finish with an "olive" or "pickle". Hold in place with a toothpick.
7. Done! See how ridiculously easy that was. It takes some time to assemble but anyone can do it.

Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes recipe:


• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
• 1 1/2 cups almond milk or soy milk (either vanilla or plain work well)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed until liquid, or grapeseed oil (grapeseed oil will look slightly green at first, but don't worry, it'll mix in and bake up like yellow cake)
• 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract (almond extract works well, too)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 12 cup muffin pans. Do not line with baking cups as this will leave grooves in your "buns".
2. Measure the vinegar into a 2 cup measuring cup. Fill with almond (or soy) milk to make 1 1/2 cups. Let stand until curdled, about 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk/vinegar mixture, coconut (or grapeseed) oil and vanilla.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, each cup should be about 3/4 full, dividing evenly.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You will know when the cakes are done when a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean, with no crumbs.
7. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack.
8. When cool, cut in half to create the top and bottom "buns".

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes recipe:


• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon white vinegar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 1/4 cups water


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 12 cup muffin pans. Do not line with baking cups as this will leave grooves in your "meat".
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, in a separate bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, vanilla and water until well combined.
4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir just until blended (note: batter will be thin). Spoon the batter into the muffin pans, each cup should be about 1/4 full, dividing evenly (note: you'll probably have left-over batter which you can make into full size cupcakes to snack on later).
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate tin halfway through baking. You will know when the cakes are done when a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean, with no crumbs.
6. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack.

(This recipe is from the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book. You can find a version of it here as well.)


Because of how time-consuming these cupcakes are, I highly recommend buying pre-made frosting from the store. Surprisingly, store-bought decorating, tube, and can frosting tends to be dairy-free. Check labels carefully. Generally, this type of frosting is made with oil instead of butter or milk, unless you are buying buttercream frosting. They also come in a variety of colors perfect for creating lettuce, ketchup, mustard and any other condiment you can think of.

Olive and Pickle candies:

You can mold and shape olives and pickles out of marzipan that has been dyed with a few drops of red and green food coloring. Or you can follow this recipe for a sweeter version of this almond flavored treat.


• 1 tablespoon softened soy margarine
• 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
• 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (however, you can use any flavoring extract to suit your taste buds)
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• red food coloring
• green food coloring


1. With a fork, mix soy margarine, light corn syrup, salt and extract in a bowl.
2. Slowly add about 1/2 cup powdered sugar to the mix one spoonful at a time. Once the dough is thick enough, you can start kneading it with your hands, while continuing to add the other 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar.
3. Take about 1/4 of the dough, and set the other 3/4 aside. Color the smaller piece of dough red by kneading a few drops of food coloring into it. Continue adding as much food coloring as needed to reach the desired color (note: you may have to knead for a while to get a smooth, even color).
4. Wash hands. Repeat step 3 using the larger piece of the dough and the green food coloring.
5. At this point you should have a small piece of red dough and a larger piece of green dough.
6. Start rolling and molding the dough to create green pickles and olives, and small red pimentos to stick in the olives.

Play with Clay

Kneed it, roll it, pinch it, poke it, slap it, bake it!

A clover necklace for St. Patty's day.

Acorn necklace.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (peanut butter on one side, jelly on the other). Because some days I feel like peanut butter, and other days I feel like jelly.

Kitty wearing a scarf.

Did you know squirrels like donuts? This little guy does.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Qreative Quail has a logo!

So I FINALLY got around to designing a logo for Qreative Quail. I have to say though, it’s difficult designing a logo for myself. For months I didn’t even know where to begin, so I decided to give the blog some time to develop before I re-evaluated it’s personality for my second attempt. I think I did okay with this one. What do you think? If you want to see more of my logo concepts, check out my other blog here.

And like most of my branding adventures, I’m hoping to knock out a business card and other paraphernalia in the coming weeks.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Take A Chance On Me

My lottery ticket wedding favors has been a hot trend lately and I'm happy to say I got to design another one for Kyle's and Katie's wedding. To go along with their book, I repeated the color scheme and pattern on the lottery ticket holders. GOOD LUCK!

And yes, I did win...$1.00. Ha! At least it's better than nothing. Hmm, now what can I get for a dollar???