Second Annual Reader Survey

By Coleen

It’s time for the Second Annual Redhead Baker reader survey!

2nd Annual Redhead Baker Reader Survey

This blog has grown by leaps and bounds since last year, in part because of last year’s survey. Why is that?

Well, for one thing, it tells me what you want to see — more recipes, more “How To” posts, etc.

In addition, providing me with demographic data helps me when it comes to sponsorships and giveaways. Brands want to know that they’re reaching their target audience, and providing them with demographic data makes them more likely to work with me.

This survey shouldn’t take any more than 5 to 10 minutes, and none of the questions are required. In return for your time, anyone who fills out the survey and leaves their email address will be entered to win a $10 gift card to Amazon.com! The survey and the giveaway entry are two separate forms, so your email address will not be connected to your survey answers. Everything is anonymous!

The giveaway will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, September 27, 2014. A winner will be chosen and notified on Sunday, September 28, 2014.

Friday Favorites

By Coleen

friday-favorites

1. My new Target bathing suit. Great tummy coverage. I love the mint color.

2. Also from Target: Sam & Libby Kamilla Sandals in turquoise.

3. Kerrygold Dubliner Cheddar cheese. C’mon. It’s cheese. Thin slices of this cheese on Triscuits are my go-to afternoon snack.

4. Peanut Butter Cup Oreos. These have gotten mixed reviews among my friends, but OMG, I love them.

5. Reading classic literature. I downloaded The Great Gatsby for my Kindle.

6. Rediscovering childhood favorites. I loved the Berenstain Bears books as a child, and now I read them to my toddler.

7. These strawberry-banana smoothie popsicles. Can I call them favorites if I haven’t actually tried them yet? I just bought a popsicle maker. But how can you go wrong with (A) strawberry and banana or (B) popsicles???

8. These lobster tacos with avocado salsa. Lobster tails are $5.99 at my local Whole Foods today only. Yum yum yum!

9. Bare Minerals Lash Domination mascara. Did you know choosing a brand of mascara was so controversial? It’s a very “love it or hate it” product. One person loves a mascara, another person hates it. For me, Lash Domination thickens and lengthens my lashes without being clumpy.

10. Maybelline Color Tattoo Leather Collection. I was initially scared of the intensity of color in cream eyeshadow, but I figured at $6.99 for one pot, I could experiment. I’m a convert. My favorites are Vintage Plum and Creamy Beige.

Meals on Wheels DE “Meals from the Masters”

By Coleen

Meals on Wheels Delaware "Meals from the Masters"

I’m taking a quick break from posting recipes for today. Instead, I want to tell you about an upcoming event in Wilmington, DE, by Meals on Wheels of Delaware. The event is the 17th Annual Meals from the Masters, held on April 25th and 27th, and it brings together restaurants and chefs both local and international to raise funds and awareness for senior hunger.

Meals on Wheels Delaware "Meals from the Masters"

Meals on Wheels of Delaware is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that partners with five meal-providing agencies to foster independence and good health in the senior population of Delaware. Last year alone, over 635,000 meals were delivered. In addition to delivering meals, Meals on Wheels volunteers help connect seniors to the help they may need to manage their affairs, or get financial assistance or care.

 

Meals on Wheels Delaware Evening with the Masters

Photos courtesy of Meals on Wheels DE

The event on Friday, April 25th is called Evening with the Masters, with tastings by more than 45 local and regional restaurants, samples from more than 20 craft breweries in a tented beer garden, wine and unique cocktails, hosted by Spencer Graves of 93.7 WSTW radio station, and live music by Paul Cullen and Spin Jocs Entertainment. The evening will feature participants from Buckley’s Tavern, Chesapeake Inn, Harry’s Savoy Grill, Philadelphia Distilling Company, Sweet Somethings, Union City Grille, Brooklyn Brewery, Dogfish Head Brewery, Flying Fish Brewery, Samuel Adams, Troegs Brewing Co., Victory Brewing, and many more. See the complete list of participants here

The event runs from 6:30 to 10 p.m at the Doubletree Downtown, 700 N King St, Wilmington, DE. Tickets are $75, and you must be 21 years of age or older to attend. Purchase tickets online.

Meals on Wheels Delaware Celebrity Chefs Brunch

Photos courtesy of Meals on Wheels DE

On Sunday, April 27th, the event concludes with the Celebrity Chefs’ Brunch, showcasing food from chefs across the U.S. and the world, including Michael Blackie of NEXT in Stittsville, Ontario; Jay Caputo of Espuma in Rehoboth Beach, DE; Daniel Fox of Heritage Tavern in Madison, WI; Roger Herring of Grand Tour in Chicago, IL; Bruce Moffett of Barrington’s in Charlotte, NC; Debra Paquette of Etch in Nashville, TN; Cathy Whims of Nostrana in Portland, OR; and more. See complete list of participants here.

In addition, there will be a silent auction for prizes including high-end culinary items, travel packages, one-of-a-kind experiences and luxury gifts.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hercules Plaza, 1313 North Market Street, Wilmington, DE. Tickets are $175. Purchase tickets online.

Last year's celebrity chefs, photo courtesy of Meals on Wheels DE

Last year’s celebrity chefs, photo courtesy of Meals on Wheels DE

A weekend pass to both events can be purchased for $200, or for $250, you can purchase a pass to both events as well as a wine auction.

I hope that if you’re in the area, you’ll help support Meals on Wheels by attending the event. If you’re not in the area, there are special room rates available at the Courtyard Marriot, the Doubletree, and Sheraton hotels. See the Meals on Wheels site for more information.

Disclosure: In exchange for help promoting the 17th Annual Meals from the Masters, Meals on Wheels DE is providing me with free tickets to the events.

The Power of a Virtual Community

By Coleen

Today’s post is not recipe-related; if you’re just here for the food, check back on Wednesday!

Light and Love for ZB

I would bet that if I told you I had a friend, you’d assume it was someone I met with, in person, on more than one occasion, right? Maybe someone I’d known since school, or someone I’d met while pursuing a mutual interest? 

I have hundreds of people I consider friends, most of which I have never met.

Back when I lost Ben, sure I received well-wishes and messages of sympathy from family, and from past school-friends, and fellow animal rescue volunteers.

But my biggest supporters were women I had never met: women from a pet-centered chat board; women from all over North America who had babies due in December 2011; and women from a food-centered chat board. They sent me cards, comforting snacks, pampering products, and gift cards to treat myself. They sent me the most beautiful memorial necklace.

This past week, I saw the same response to a time of need, multiplied by hundreds.

A mother, a woman I call my friend even though we’ve never met in person, was frightened — her young daughter needed emergency surgery. The little girl seized and coded during surgery, and the prognosis was uncertain at best. In the end, there was too much brain trauma, and her parents made the heartbreaking decision to let their little girl go, while donating what they could so that others could live.

This mother was a long-time member of many virtual communities. The very night of the surgery, one of the virtual communities collected donations to purchase items for a care package, when it seemed that the parents would spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the hospital.

They put together a YouCaring fundraiser, to help pay for hospital meals, medical bills, funeral costs, and lost wages, and raised over $40,000 in TWO DAYS.

We are devastated that none of our efforts could make their little girl well.

But so many of us made similar comments, “We’ve never even met her …” yet we were all sobbing as if our “in-real-life” best friend had lost a child. I know more about some of these women than I know about my “in-real-life” friends, or even family. I will never again feel embarrassed to admit that I have a network of “virtual” friends.

Please, if you can spare a few dollars, donate to the YouCaring site. In this time of unimaginable grief, finances should be the last thing on their minds. Thank you.

Light and Love for ZB

First Annual Reader Survey

By Coleen

I’m coming up on my four-year “blogiversary.” This blog has grown larger than I ever thought possible. I still remember the first time I got a comment from a name I didn’t recognize, and how giddy that made me. I recently surpassed 500 fans on Facebook, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that people like this blog enough to follow it on Facebook.

And because I appreciate each and every one of my readers so much, I want to know what you think of this blog. I want to know what you like about it, and what you don’t, because I want to make reading it as an enjoyable experience as I can for you.

You can help me help you by taking about 10 minutes to answer the survey below. As a token of my appreciation, anyone who completes the survey will be entered into a drawing to win a $10 gift card to Starbucks.

Not a single question is required, simply skip over any you don’t want to answer. The survey will remain open for 30 days, closing at midnight Eastern Time on Friday, September 20, 2013. A winner will be chosen on Saturday, September 21, 2013, and will be notified at the email address they provided in the survey.

All information sent to The Redhead Baker will be kept secure; it will not be sold in any way. You will not receive any email as a result of submitting your address through the form. Email addresses will not be saved after the winner has been notified and accepted the prize.

Gourmet Cookie Bouquet Giveaway

By Coleen

I was recently contacted by a representative at Gourmet-Cookie-Bouquets.com, asking if I was interested in co-hosting a cookie bouquet giveaway. I wasn’t familiar with the company or its products, so I went to the site, browsed around, and read some reviews.

I was really impressed with the creativity of each of the themed cookie bouquets. Reviewers raved about the taste of the cookies. So, I opted in to the giveaway. I would love for one of my readers to win one of these cookie bouquets to help celebrate the arrival of summer!

Sock Monkey Cookie Bouquet

Sock Monkey Cookie Bouquet

I looooove me some sugar cookies. Soft cookies, crisp cookies, plain cookies, frosted cookies. I will eat them all!

The cookies that go into these cookie bouquets are labor-intensive. Make the dough, roll the dough, cut the dough, bake the cookies, outline the cookies, fill with frosting, let dry. As much as I love frosted sugar cookies, I usually only make them when I’m asked to donate to charity events, or make a cookie platter for an event, but rarely for home consumption, and the labor is the main reason why.

Summer Fun Cookie Bouquet

Summer Fun Cookie Bouquet

Thanks to the Gourmet Cookie Bouquet company, though, you have the opportunity to win one of TWO cookie bouquets! Yes, two lucky winners will be able to choose any of their summer cookie bouquets. Each bouquet is valued at up to $75.00.

Some bouquets contain nothing but sugar cookies cutouts, others contain a mix of sugar cookie cutouts and flavors like chocolate chip, white chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, chocolate chip pecan, M&M, snickerdoodle and peanut butter with chocolate frosting!

Sun-sational Gift Box

Sun-sational Gift Box

Here’s the rules:

  • You must be 18 years of age or older to enter;
  • You must reside in one of the 48 continental United States;
  • You must leave a comment on at least one of the participating blogs in order to enter;
  • Any other methods of entry in the contest are optional, and do gain you extra chances to win;
  • You should be running the most recent version of your web browser and JavaScript to use Rafflecopter;
  • Contest ends at midnight EST on July 7, 2013;
  • A representative from Gourmet-Cookie-Bouquets.com will choose a winner at random after the contest ends;
  • Winners will be notified via email — check your spam folder!;
  • Winners have 3 days to respond to the email to claim their prize, after 3 days, another winner will be chosen;
  • Winners will be announced no later than July 14, 2013;
  • Complete contest rules are available in this PDF.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I did not receive any form of compensation, in money or products, from Gourmet-Cookie-Bouquets.com in exchange for participating in this giveaway.

Featured

By Coleen

Hello, readers! Today, I’m being featured over at Momma’s Meals!

She made the Baked Ziti and Summer Vegetable Casserole that my family recently enjoyed. Head on over and check it out!

Momma’s Recipes

Birthday Cake Donuts

By Coleen

Birthday Cake Donuts

Our What’s Baking host this month, Beantown Baker, chose sprinkles as our theme! We could either bake something that had sprinkles in it, or decorate a baked good with sprinkles.

whatsBaking

March also happens to be my birthday month! Actually, today is my birthday. No, I’m not telling you how old I am.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of decorating with sprinkles, I think birthday cake. I was thinking about past birthdays as a child, and I always had a yellow cake with chocolate icing. Then another memory popped into my mind.

My father, a law enforcement officer, worked the overnight shift for much of my childhood and teenage years. He was often just getting home from work when I woke up to get ready for school. On his way home on the morning of my birthday, he would stop and get me a birthday donut — always a chocolate glazed, my favorite.

Birthday Cake Donuts

So, for What’s Baking, I decided to bake my own birthday donuts. I slightly adapted a recipe I found on RecipeBoy.com, who adapted his recipe from Tasty Kitchen. The resulting donut reminds me of both the yellow birthday cakes of my childhood and the chocolate glazed birthday donuts from my father. The yellow cake mix adds the yellow cake flavor and the cake texture. The chocolate glaze reminds me of the chocolate frosting from my birthday cakes.

The sprinkles I used were are “confetti” sprinkles from a Wilton variety pack, available at Target and most craft stores. You can substitute just about any non-chocolate cake mix you like (the original recipe uses Funfetti). I wouldn’t use a chocolate mix without adding additional cocoa powder to the batter. Using chocolate cake mix alone wouldn’t provide enough chocolate flavor.

Birthday Cake Donuts

 

Birthday Cake Donuts

Slightly adapted from RecipeBoy.com

Ingredients

For the donuts:

  • 1 cup flour
  • ⅔ cup yellow cake mix
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the glaze:

  • 1 ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup hot water

For topping:

  • Sprinkles (a few tablespoons)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray a donut pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cake mix, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk just until combined. Add in the melted butter and whisk until incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into a pastry bag, or heavy duty zip-top bag. Snip one corner of the zip-top bag to pour. Divide the batter evenly among the donut wells, filling each ½ to ¾ of the way full.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the donuts spring back when touched.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12 (3-inch) donuts

12 Most Popular Recipes of 2012

By Coleen

As 2012 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting back over the year, its highs and lows.

Some highs:

  • Getting back to work, even if only part-time
  • My blog redesign!
  • We took our first vacation in six years
  • Liam’s first birthday
  • And my favorite Christmas present — an engagement ring!

engagement ring

Some lows:

  • With me working only part-time, we’ve struggled financially at times 
  • We’re still in our crappy apartment
  • One of our dogs is having some health issues, and it’s a reminder that she’s getting older

I’ve made some goals for 2013:

  • Find a full-time, permanent position
  • Make an effort to eat healthier and exercise more often

What were your highs and lows? What are you goals for 2013? 

 

I also thought it would be fun to check look back over the past year, and feature the top 12 most popular posts. These posts, this whole blog, are popular because of YOU, and I really do appreciate every single pageview, every single comment, every single share. Knowing that you read, share, and try these recipes yourselves makes it all the more enjoyable for me.

I’ve blocked the photos on this page from being pinned; if you’d like to pin them, please click on the link to the original blog post and pin from that source.

At #12: Eggnog Ice Cream

egg nog ice cream 1

 

At #11: Cheese Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

Cheese Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce | The Redhead Baker

 

At #10: Alton Brown’s Baked Mac and Cheese

Baked Mac and Cheese | The Redhead Baker

 

At #9: Orange Creamsicle Martini

creamsicle

 

At #8: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes | The Redhead Baker

 

At #7: Mulled Apple Cider Donuts

Mulled Apple Cider Donuts | The Redhead Baker

 

At #6: Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House | The Redhead Baker

 

At #5: Peppermint Marshmallows

Peppermint Marshmallows | The Redhead Baker

 

At #4: Strawberry Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache Filling

Strawberry Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache Filling | The Redhead Baker

 

At #3: Baked Cheeseburger Eggrolls

Baked Cheeseburger Eggrolls | The Redhead Baker

 

At #2: Tiramisu Cupcakes

Tiramisu Cupcakes | The Redhead Baker

 

And at #1: Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Vanilla Glaze

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Vanilla Glaze | The Redhead Baker

Happy New Year to all of my readers!

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Round-Up

By Coleen

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Roundup | The Redhead Baker

Readers, I hope you all enjoyed reading about these Christmas treats as I did finding new and interesting recipes to share with you.

I hope you clicked through the link-up photos and found even more new recipes, and more new blogs to read.

I wanted to post a round-up, not only of the recipes that I posted, but also highlight 12 recipes from others that I can’t wait to try myself.

In the collage above, the top photo is rich, creamy egg nog ice cream, which would be fabulous served alongside a slice of apple pie for Christmas dessert.

In the next row, on the left, is crisp Italian-style vanilla bean biscotti. Vanilla is the star ingredient in these cookies, with the inclusion of vanilla extract AND a whole vanilla bean, both pod and seeds.

Top center of that row is gingerbread sandwich cookies with maple cream filling, a traditional Christmas flavor with a twist.

Bottom center of that row is homemade mulling spice sachets, made for a fraction of the cost of store-bought!

Top right of the row is decadent caramel shortbread bars, and bottom right in that row is peppermint marshmallows. Store-bought marshmallows just can’t compare to homemade!

In the last row, top left is homemade peanut butter cups, treats that I made with my grandmother when I was a child.

Bottom left in the last row is inside-out caramel apples, a more elegant presentation of a childhood favorite.

Top center is mini maple pumpkin pies, perfect for large parties where no one wants to be the first to cut into the pie, and bottom center is cranberry white chocolate cookies, another traditional Christmas flavor.

Yes, that’s only 11 treats. I skipped a week in early November, too busy with a wedding cake, a gingerbread house, and my son’s birthday party.

~~~

On to my favorites from other bloggers!

From Week 1, Candy Cane Brownies from Roxana’s Home Baking! I love fudgy brownies, I love peppermint and chocolate. These are so festive!

From Week 2, Browned Butter Shortbread Crisps from Vintage Kitchen Notes! Shortbread is one of my favorite cookies (appropriate, since they are Scottish cookies, and I am half Scottish). Browning butter brings a whole different flavor to the table, and I can’t wait to try them!

From Week 3, Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies from Alida’s Kitchen! I love, love, love pumpkin. Need I say more?

From Week 4, Nutella Magic in the Middles from Sweet as Sugar Cookies! Prior to starting my blog in 2009, I’d never heard of “magic in the middle” cookies. Actually, I’d never heard of Nutella, either. I’ve still never had a Magic in the Middle (but I have tried Nutella), and these sound right up my alley!

From Week 5, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles from Sweet as Sugar Cookies! When I first read the title, I thought it sounded weird, but when I gave it more thought, snickerdoodles are covered in cinnamon sugar. Pumpkin and cinnamon go naturally together. How could these not be awesome?

From Week 6, Apple Cinnamon Streusel Bars from Meal Planning Magic! They just sound so . . . comforting. Warm apples. Streusel topping. Drizzled icing. It’s like wrapping yourself in a warm, fuzzy blanket.

From Week 7, S’mores Truffles from Cooking to Perfection! Who would you think you could create a creamy graham cracker filling? Wrap it around a mini marshmallow, dip the whole thing in chocolate . . . Yum!

From Week 8, Caramel Cupcakes by Baked Bree! If you’re tired of cupcakes that simply serve as a vehicle to move tons of frosting, you might enjoy these cupcakes with a caramel glaze.

Photo by Baked Bree

Photo by Baked Bree

From Week 9, Peppermint Bark Ice Cream from Delicious Meliscious! I’m not the only nut who eats ice cream in the winter! The ice cream sounds delicious and is so pretty, too!

From Week 10, Skinny Eggnog Pie from Kitchen Meets Girl! I love how she took a lightened-up homemade eggnog recipe and turned it into a pie with a gingersnap crust. Not exactly diet food, but with so many tempting treats, it’s nice to indulge in something a little lighter now and then.

From Week 11, Cookie Dough Fudge from Cooking to Perfection. Cookie dough is my weakness. I never get the full yield of cookies from a chocolate chip cookie recipe, because I always eat at least two cookies’ worth of dough. Maybe if/when I get salmonella someday, I’ll stop. Or, I could make this fudge and get my fix.

From Week 12, Peppermint Cake Roll from Baking and Boys! I was considering a different version of this dessert for my last post of the link-up, and I’m glad I did the ice cream instead, only so that I didn’t duplicate someone else’s efforts. Cake rolls are fun to make, easy to serve, and impresses guests!

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