Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Merchants’

Halloween Treats – Cake in Kilner Jars!

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Cake in Kilner jars

Happy Friday, folks!  With Halloween less than three weeks away, we here at Pacific Merchants have been crafting and cooking Halloween projects and recipes like mad people. I spent yesterday afternoon making delicious cakes with our Kilner Jars in preparation for Halloween.  For a more refined, friendly, and cute take on the Halloween spirit, this baking project proves a great family activity, but is easy enough to whip up on your own for a party or your home.  Surprisingly easy with great opportunity to satisfy everyone’s creative Halloween ideas, and of course, your sweet tooth.

What you’ll need:

  • -1 box white cake mix or your favorite cake recipe (white cake is great because you can add food coloring to change the color!)
  • -Non-stick Spray
  • -1-2 tubs whipped white frosting
  • -Food coloring
  • -Halloween Sprinkles
  • -(3) 0.5 Liter Kilner Round Clip Top Jars. You can also use preserve jars, but I love the look of clip tops for this.
  • -1-3 Mixing bowls, if you’re making more than one color batter or coloring your frosting.
  • -Piping Bag/tips (or you can just spread the frosting on)

1.  Make sure your jars are clean.  It’s really important when using any canning or preserve jars to make sure they’re clean: You don’t have to sterilize them like you would if actually canning something, but just make sure you clean them before baking in them.

2. Preheat oven according to your box or cake recipe.

3. The only part of these jars that shouldn’t go in the oven is that orange rubber seal.  See it? It’s super easy to remove: just pull at the tab and it should pop right off. If you’re using preserve jars, just leave the lids out of the oven.

4. Grease your jars!  Easy to forget, so I’m putting this step up front.  Non-stick spray comes in handy here as jars are harder to grease than an open pan.

5. Batter time!  I used white cake to match any frosting or decoration I would later adorn the cake with.  I kept the batter white, but try making some green, purple, or red batter for a more intense Halloween cake experience!  I dyed the frosting, hence why I recommend using white frosting as well.  Our Mason Cash Mixing Bowls are great for batter making. They’re easy to clean, big enough to mix up a huge batch of batter, and the white interior makes it easy to see when all your color is blended in (if you’re coloring your dough.)

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6. Pour batter into Kilner Jars, filling up about half way.  The cake will expand and rise in the oven, bringing the top of the cake right above the lip of the jar.  If you want to be able to close the clip top jars completely including frosting/decorations, pour batter a little less than halfway full. Making cakes in jars that you can close makes for a great hostess gift, school lunch treat (use a smaller jar) or holiday gift!

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7. Place jars on a baking sheet or pain, and stick ‘em in the oven.  I kept mine in for 43 minutes.  The batter densely sits in these jars, so I followed directions for a bundt cake on my boxed cake mix, versus a 8” or 9” pan or cupcakes.  Plus or minus a few minutes won’t hurt anyone.

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8. Keep an eye on the cakes when they’re in the oven.  They’re ready when you can stick a toothpick or knife through the center of the cake and it comes out clean.

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9. Take out, and let cakes cool completely before going to town with icing/decorations.  We don’t want messy melting icing (unless you do).

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10. Once cakes are cool, frost those babies.  I put whipped white frosting in a piping bag with a professional piping tip to get that cool star effect.  You can also just use a hefty zip-top bag with a professional tip, or no tip, just cut the corner off; it just won’t have that star effect. You can even just use a butter knife and spread the icing on smoothly. Two of the cakes I frosted with plain white frosting, and the third cake I frosted with my own mixed green frosting.  Get creative here!  Mix and match your cake color with your frosting color and/or decorations.  Decorate with sprinkles, candy corn, sugar eyeballs, or cupcake flags.  Most kitchen supply stores and even some big craft stores like Michaels have awesome sugar bats, pumpkins, ghouls, etc.  Drip with red food coloring for a more gruesome cake.

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11.  Grab two spoons, a scarfing partner, and go to town.  Or just tackle that cake solo; that may or may not have been what I did. Enjoy!

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Tune in next week for some awesome Halloween roundups and DIY projects, brought to you by yours truly.  Now go have a craft-tastic weekend!

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Labor Day doesn’t mean “back to school” now that most schools seem to start in August, but it’s a really good time to throw a great, end of summer barbecue and enjoy spending time outside before the weather turns cold.  Of course, now that it’s the end of the summer, you might be a little sick of a traditional BBQ with burgers, hot dogs, and even ribs, so we’ve got some great tips to add some color (and some spice) to your Labor Day Barbecue!

First up, Set a colorful table! There’s something about bright, lively colors that make even the most casual get-together feel like a party.  Use flowers, colorful foods, and vibrant placemats.  For a recent party, we used 24 of our Laguna placemats as a tablecloth, and it looked great! As a labor day gift for you, we’re offering 25% off of our ENTIRE Laguna line to our retail customers from now until Tuesday, Sep 3. Just enter LABORDAY at checkout! Laguna mats look great indoors and out, so they’re perfect for entertaining as the seasons change.

Second, make (or buy) snacks that you can set up ahead of time, like our chips, salsa and guacamole in the picture above.  They’re easy to set out an hour ahead of time, and they’ll help keep your guests snacking and mingling if you need a little extra setup time. We love making and serving guacamole in our Mason Cash Mortar and Pestles.  They’re perfect for crushing garlic, cilantro and spices and mashing avocado. Plus, they’re made of heavy stoneware that looks great on the table.

Here’s our signature guacamole recipe. It’s simple to make, and whether you’re grilling hot dogs and burgers or carne asada for tacos, it works.  If you like more heat, add a chopped up jalapeno.  If you like more tang, add more lime.  This serves 4-6 people and is the perfect amount for the large Mason Cash Mortar and Pestle.

  • 3 avocados
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ tsp whole cumin
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. In the bottom of your mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic, cilantro and cumin until they form a paste
  2. Add the lime juice and half the avocado
  3. With the pestle, grind until very smooth. Add the other half of the avocado, the onion, and the tomato
  4. Combine with pestle (you may also need to use a fork) until thoroughly combined
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve right in the mortar and pestle!

If you want to make a bigger batch, the recipe doubles or even triples really nicely.  Just grind up the cumin, mince the garlic and cilantro, and make the whole thing in an Acaciaware bowl. Just like when you serve in the mortar and pestle, there’s one less dish to clean, since your serving dish is also your prep bowl.

Since you’re already making guacamole, I suggest you grill up some simple carne asada to go along with it.  This flavorful dish is easy to prepare and uses a cheaper cut of steak, so even if you’re cooking for a crowd, you won’t break the bank.  Do most of the prep the night before to save time!

  • 2 lbs flank or skirt steak
  • 4 garlic cloves,
  • 1 jalapeno,
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves,
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppe
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • Zest of one orange
  • Zest of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1.  In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except the flank steak. Blend until smooth.
  2. Put flank steak in a gallon-sized sip top bag.
  3. Pour marinade in on top of steak and seal bag, pressing as much of the air out as possible.
  4. Allow steak to marinate for at least 1 hour, or as long as 12 hours.
  5. Heat your grill to medium high. If using a gas grill, allow at least 10 minutes for the whole grill to heat.
  6. Brush grate with vegetable oil carefully to avoid flare ups.
  7. Grill the steak for 7-10 minutes on each side, turning once for a medium-rare steak.
  8. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes
  9. Slice across the grain, on the diagonal, into thin slices.
  10. Arrange on an Acaciaware plate.

We suggest serving the carne asada with fresh tortillas, grilled corn, our amazing guacamole, and some cheese and salsa.  If you want, you can put together a whole condiment bar using small acacia bowls and  condiment serving sets  Consider filling bowls with pico de gallo, shredded cheese, pickled jalapenos, grilled peppers, grilled onions, and sour cream.