Mixing Up Some Gifts

I’m a big fan of giving food gifts. Who doesn’t love a box of cookies, a bottle of homemade vanilla extract or a plate of boozy blondies? And, as a bonus, I get to enjoy tailoring each gift to each recipient. This past holiday season I decided to change things up a bit, though, and strayed from my typical edible presents. Instead, I decided to give gifts that would last long after the holiday season was over. Behold, my gift of choice: The wooden spoon!
Mixing Up Some Gifts: DIY Wood Burned Spoons by somethingwewhippedup.com

Mixing Up Some Gifts: DIY Wood Burned Spoons by somethingwewhippedup.com

While I can’t take credit for the idea (there are similar items all over Pinterest and Etsy), I can say I had a fun time playing with my new wood burning tool as I worked to develop a new crafting skill. I etched a different design into each wooden spoon I had—all 36 of them—mostly so I could try out all of the attachments that came with my burner. I found the activity to be very calming, similar to casually sketching in a notepad. I was able to create a wide variety of styles so I let each recipient choose the spoon that best suited her and her kitchen.
For a first go-around, I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’m hoping to move beyond spoons and engrave cutting boards, frames and more. Stay tuned to see what I do next.
In the meantime, here’s a few tips to make your first experience with a wood burning tool run smoothly:
  • Burning into a flat surface is easiest, beware of curves until you get the hang of working with the tool.
  • Pay attention! The tip of the tool gets extremely hot. This is not a tool that should be used around young kids or pets that might bump into it.
  • Open a window or make sure you’re working in an area that is well ventilated. It smelled like a campfire in my house for a few days after I’d finished my projects. I didn’t mind, but it’s worth noting.
  • Use a piece of scrap wood to do a test run with each tip that comes with the wood burning kit. Once the hot tip touches the wood, it has made its mark and there’s no turning back.
  • It takes the tips a long time to cool down once they’ve been heated. The included instructions recommend you unplug the tool and let it cool completely before swapping in a new tip. To avoid a long wait time I used pliers to loosen and remove the old tip and put the new one on. Be be extra careful not to touch anything with your bare skin.
  • Have fun! There’s no right or wrong way to design something.

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Wine Charms

On a recent trip to Charlotte, NC our hosts, Eric and Mike (the awesome guys behind this project), took us on a wine tasting tour through the Yadkin Valley. Before we left for our adventure, Eric recommended we stop by the supermarket to pick up pretzels to make an edible necklace with. Sort of like a candy necklace, but with a salty snack instead. Sure, the idea sounded a little kookie, but we were up for anything. I have to admit, this clever little project took me by surprise for more than one reason.

Edible Wine Charms by somethingwewhippedup.com

Edible Wine Charms by somethingwewhippedup.com

First, designing and creating the necklaces gave everyone (except the driver) something interesting to do in the car on the drive. Second, it allowed us to have our own tasty snack at the ready while we were tasting wine. Third, we didn’t have to munch on stale oyster crackers that every other guest that had visited the winery that day dipped their hands into.

While Brian and Mike were a bit sceptical of their new accessories at first, they quickly saw the benefit of having a snack right their around their neck. And at each stop, more and more strangers seemed to love the idea, commenting on how they wish they had one, too.

To make your own, you just need natural cooking twine, scissors and pretzels (we had a mix of Rold Gold Tiny Twists, Snyder’s Butter Snaps and Pretzel Crisps). Use your imagination to create a design that’s right for you, tie it around your neck and enjoy. Don’t worry what others might think, after all, you’re likely to be a bit tipsy from the wine you’re sampling.

SWWU TIp 1: Stay away from flavored pretzels as they might stain your clothing. Also be careful of salted varieties snagging silk or other delicate fabrics.

SWWU TIp 2: This would be an excellent activity for a group going on a wine tasting tour for a bachelorette party or wedding shower. 

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Craving Cure: Crème Fraîche Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Crème Fraîch Chocolate Chunk Cookies by somethingwewhippedup.com

Crème Fraîche Chocolate Chunk Cookies by somethingwewhippedup.com

These cookies may just be the perfect solution to a chocolate craving. They’re rich but still light, i.e., you won’t feel guilty when you go back for seconds—or thirds. No judgement here! When I developed the recipe I decided to I incorporated a bit of crème fraîche that I had taking up space in my fridge. After all, tangy crème fraîche usually takes other foods I add it to up a level (remember my favorite onion dip?). The result was  a moist cookie that was full of chocolaty goodness but wasn’t dense or overloaded like so many are. I’ve made several batches and fall for them more and more each time. See for yourself.

Crème Fraîche Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (check out our homemade vanilla extract recipe)
  • 2/4 cup chocolate chunks
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips 

1. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer, cream together the butter, crème fraîche, sugar and brown sugar. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add in the eggs and mix to combine.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, mixing until completely combined each time. Add the vanilla extract and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and chocolate chips. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in heaping tablespoonfuls.  Space cookies at least 2.5-inches apart. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until almost set in the middle. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

SWWU TIp 1: Of course these cookies are delicious when you eat them right out of the oven, but I found the flavor to be at its peak a day later. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. They won’t last that long though.

SWWU Tip 2: These cookies are very moist and fragile when they come out of the oven. Make sure you let them set a bit on the warm pan as directed, then use your thinnest spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to continue cooling. They will firm up as they sit.
Crème Fraîch Chocolate Chunk Cookies by somethingwewhippedup.com

Crème Fraîche Chocolate Chunk Cookies by somethingwewhippedup.com

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Big News from SWWU!

Here's one of the reasons we've been MIA. Yup, that's Jen swimming with a sea lion in the Galapagos. Life can be pretty amazing sometimes.

Here’s one of the reasons we’ve been MIA. Yup, that’s Jen swimming with a sea lion in the Galapagos. Life can be pretty amazing sometimes.

We’re sorry it’s been so long since our last post. There really is no excuse, but here are a few we’re going to try out on you: Jen started a new job (that she loves), we both celebrated our birthdays, about a million holidays (and holiday parties) occurred in a very short amount of time, we went on the trip of a lifetime to the Galapagos, and WE GOT ENGAGED! We hope you’ll forgive us if our minds have been elsewhere for a while. We’re here now and will be posting on a more regular basis. I’m sure we’ll also be adding a “For the Wedding” tab sometime soon, too. Stay tuned!

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Sweet Nothings

Our lives have been a bit hectic for the past few weeks. I won’t bore you with the details right now, but I will apologize for neglecting the blog a bit. Lucky for you, we have been busy cooking and crafting up a storm, so there will be lots to share soon. In the meantime, here’s a quick recipe we recently tried for a super simple sherbet that takes just five ingredients to make.

Lemon-Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet by somethingwewhippedup.com

Lemon-Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet by somethingwewhippedup.com

I know, I know. Summer is over! But I’m not quite ready to move on to the pumpkin-flavored goodies just yet (it’s not even October). And we just spent the last few days in North Carolina, which is still enjoying some warm temperatures during the day. This refreshing treat is a great way to hang on to the fading warm temperatures while we can.

The sherbet was inspired by a recipe I spotted on a Buzzfeed post for a three-ingredient frozen lemon-buttermilk dessert. It turns out, that person got the original recipe from the website for Bon Appétit. We put our own twist on it by incorporating a blueberry compote we had whipped up a few days before. The result: A tart, sweet dessert that is simple and refreshing—and a perfect way to wind down on a hectic day.

Lemon-Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet

(Recipe adapted from Lemon-Buttermilk Sorbet via Buzzfeed)

Makes about 2.5 pints

  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup blueberry compote

1. Combine the buttermilk, lemon juice, lemon peel and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk until sugar is dissolved, cover and store in fridge until well chilled (about 3 hours).

2. Once chilled, pour mixture into an ice cream machine and churn until nearly finished. Once you think you have about 5 minutes remaining, add the blueberry compote and continue to let the ice cream maker do its thing. When complete, transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 to 4 hours or more.

SWWU Tip: Curious to know why I called this creation a sherbet instead of a sorbet? A bit of research revealed that adding dairy (be it milk, buttermilk or eggs) to a sorbet actually makes it a sherbet. Either way, it’s delicious!

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