Tips for baking light and fluffy biscuits

I bake a lot, but for years my biscuits were a bust. I tried several recipes, but they always turned out flat. It took me years to figure out what I was doing wrong, but now that I have it figured out, I thought I would share my findings with you. If you want light and fluffy biscuits, here is what you need to know:


1) Make sure your baking powder (not baking soda) is fresh. Baking powder is a leavening agent that loses its effectiveness over time. (It's usually good for 9 to 12 months, so if yours is older than that, throw it out.)



2) Mix the dough COLD. The cold (straight from the fridge) bits of butter are what is going to make the biscuits light and fluffy.

3) Use a pastry blender. Cutting the dough with a pastry blender (and not your warm hands) is key. There are tons of inexpensive options, but this one has positive reviews. You can also use the "two knife" method to cut up the dough... but a pastry blender is MUCH easier.


4) Don't overwork the dough. Just knead the dough until everything is combined. Overworking the dough makes the biscuits flat.

5) Bake the biscuits HOT. Make sure you bake the biscuits in a really hot oven. I cook mine at 450 degrees.

6) Don't roll the dough too thin. I roll my dough about 3/4" thick.

7) Use a tried and true recipe. Here is the one I bake weekly, and I'm never disappointed.





Are you a biscuit pro? Would you add anything to my list? If you struggle with flat biscuits, I hope these ideas help you "up your game". Light, fluffy, and buttery biscuits are the best, don't you think?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple St.Patrick's Day Food Ideas

When it comes to St.Patrick's Day food, many people opt for traditional Irish fare, but a simple way to celebrate is to go with a green and rainbow coloured theme. How fun is this simple St.Patrick's Day buffet featuring green pancakes with rainbow sprinkles?


Green milk in  a wine glass with a rainbow straw (plastic straw covered with Froot Loops) is also fun!


Froot Loops also become "rainbow seeds" when you add the free printable tag you can find here.


And, if you have a Shamrock-shaped cookie cutter, you can easily cook up these adorable Shamrock pancakes. Cute, right?


And finally, extra Froot Loops can be used to make rainbow necklaces for dessert. It's a fun and festive craft for kids of all ages!


What are you serving your family on St.Patrick's Day? I think I'll set up a green buffet. It's an easy and inexpensive way to celebrate March 17th!

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Pi Day Treats

Did you know that March 14 is "Pi" day? Get it? π is 3.14 (so the fourteeth day of the third month is Pi Day). And... because I love to celebrate everything... and I am kind of a nerd... I thought I would make some simple Pi Day treats.


The basis of these treats is that π goes on forever. So, when you read these tags, you can replace "π" with "forever".

This one would be fun for a teacher to share with her class.


This one is perfect for parents to give to their kids.


This one is great for kids to share with their friends / classmates.


To download the tags I designed (for free): click on one of the pictures below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.




Aren't these treats super-cute?


I put together treat bags for my boy's lunches, and it made me smile. I told you I was a nerd! lol

Happy π Day!


Gina
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

No Bake Chocolate and Coconut Cookies (Haystacks / Cow Plops / Spider Cookies)

Every Spring, my boys and I make bird nest cookies. They are filled with chocolate covered eggs, but the base of the cookies is what makes them so special. In fact, as a stand alone cookie, these "no bake" chocolate oatmeal cookies are a winner any time of year. They go by lots of names, but my family always called them "haystacks", "cow plops" or "spider cookies". Whatever you call them, they are delicious, and I'm sharing the recipe below.



The secret to these cookies is to have the dry ingredients ready, so when the chocolate mixture boils, the two mixtures can be combined and spooned out before the mixture starts to dry out.


To make these no bake chocolate coconut cookies:

1) Mix together the following dry ingredients, and set aside:
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/4 tsp salt


2) Put the following ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil:
2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips


3) Remove from heat, and stir in dry ingredients.

4) Before the mixture starts to dry out, drop the mixture from heaping teaspoons onto wax paper, and allow to cool completely.



These cookies are easy to make, and they are packed a rich chocolate flavour. Have you ever had these yummy no bake chocolate and coconut cookies? What do you call them?


Gina
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Hot Chocolate Bar... with free printable "Snow Day Hot Chocolate Bar" sign

Hot chocolate bars are perfect for winter. They are simple to put together, and they are popular with people of all ages. Who doesn't love to wrap their hands around a hot cup on a cold day?


Mason jars (of different sizes) are great for displaying the "hot chocolate bar" ingredients. Consider including: hot chocolate, marshmallows, cookies, whipped cream, sprinkles, and chocolate kisses.


You can also add some simple decorations to your table. I used some dollar store snowflakes, a dollar store tablecloth, and a snowman sign I designed.


To download the sign I designed (for free): click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8x10 photo.


You can also decorate white styrofoam glasses with Sharpies. How cute are these snowmen cups my boys made?


Kids (and adults) will love creating their own hot chocolate creations. Clearly my youngest son has an affection for whipped cream and sprinkles! lol


A simple hot chocolate bar is a perfect place to gather together after a fun day playing outdoors.


What would you include in your hot chocolate bar? The possibilities really are endless. Add your favourites, and have some fun!


Gina
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Pom Pom Winter Wreath

I love a simple home decor project, don't you? And... I'm a little obsessed with hanging something fun on my front door. It makes me happy to come home every day and see something cheerful (that I made)... and it's a wonderful way to greet guests too. Today, I am sharing my latest creation. It's a darling "super soft" DIY pom pom wreath that is surprisingly easy to make!


Isn't it gorgeous? And I swear, the picture doesn't do it justice. I totally wish you could touch it too. I a made it with "velvet" yarn, and it is sooo soft. My kids touch it every time they walk by it. lol


I started with a styrofoam wreath form, and I wrapped it in yarn (securing it periodically with hot glue). Then I covered it in homemade pom poms.


To make simple pom poms. Wrap yarn around your fingers, slip the yarn off your fingers and tie it in the middle, cut the loops, and trim to shape. It's that easy!


Then, you use the long ends of yarn (that you used to tie the middle of the pom pom) to secure the pom pom to the wreath. Just keep making and adding pom poms until you are happy with the look of the wreath.


My only problem now, is that I can't decide where to hang my wreath. Here it is hanging on the inside of my front door. I love the look of the wreath on the blue door, but then only my family can see it.


And here is how it looks hanging outside (on the front door of my house). I think this is where it is going to stay. I have a covered porch, so it will be protected from the elements.


Isn't this a great winter wreath? I love the look of this pom pom wreath so much, I am thinking about making new versions for spring, summer, and fall too. What do you think?


Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushroom Caps with Balsamic Glaze

Doesn't everyone need a delicious"go to" appetizer to serve to guests and to bring to parties? I have a few appetizers I love, but these goat cheese stuffed mushroom caps with balsamic glaze have become a favourite of mine. They are super easy to make, and they are packed with rich flavor.


To make these tasty treats, you'll just need a few simple ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 5oz (150g) goat cheese
  • 15 large white button mushrooms (with the stems removed)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like a little salt and a generous amount of pepper.)


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, mash together (with a fork) the bread crumbs and goat cheese. 
  3. Fill the mushrooms with the cheese filling (until heaping)
  4. Place stuffed mushrooms on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Move mushrooms to a plate or tray, and drizzle with balsamic glaze. (You can make your own, but I buy a brand called Nonna Pia's, and it is delicious.)

This recipe is simple to make, but your guests will think you are a culinary genius when they try these little bites of goodness. 


Give these goat cheese stuffed mushroom caps with balsamic glaze a try, and let me know what you think. I have a feeling you are not going to be disappointed!


Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

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