Spring Cleaning & A Few Baking Essentials

Sprinkles!

Spring cleaning makes for a happy and refreshed mindset– it’s a tale as old as time, and one worth repeating year after year. If you cook and bake frequently, having an organized and functional kitchen space is paramount. Once you degrubbify your kitchen (that is, vacuum, scrub, toss out the moldy-oldies, polish glass/wood/stainless steel), restoring order to the chaos that is your pantry, cupboards, and refrigerator should be next on your list.

If you’re anything like me, one of the most unsightly parts of your kitchen domain is probably your spice drawer. I had a nasty, cluttered mess of mismatched spice and herb jars –with and without caps– strewn across the base of a drawer in a manner that lacked any intuitive method to the madness. I also had no plan of action to remedy the situation.

And then I stumbled across a post by fellow blogger A Cozy Kitchen that featured a fantastic way to organize herbs, spices, and cupcake toppers that is both practical AND totally adorable.

Sold and inspired, I trotted across the street to my local Container Store and picked up twenty of these 56mm Italian preserving jars. The jars are $1.99 a piece and remarkably well-made. I put two coats of chalk board paint on the jar tops, let them dry for about half an hour, and used a marker to label them (note: A Cozy Kitchen uses chalk, but I found that the chalk rubbed off too easily if I accidentally touch the top of the lid). Pour sprinkles/herbs/spices into their respective jars, seal tight, and store someplace dark and cool.
Sprinkles!

A well-stocked kitchen is just as important as one that is well-organized. Below are a few baking staples I keep in my kitchen pantry at ALL TIMES.

A variety of sprinkles, cupcake toppers, and cupcake liners: What’s a cupcake (or any sweet little confection, for that matter) without pretty accoutrements? I often teeter on the verge of hoarder status with my ever-growing stash of sprinkles and cupcake liners, but I’m willing to argue that it’s better to have an assortment to choose from at home than to give yourself an extra errand to run. Below you’ll find a list of recipes that work great with what I’ve deemed “the essential assortment of sprinkles.”

Sprinkles!

Sprinkles for every occasion.

Sprinkles

Rainbow: Funfetti Cake Batter Truffles

White pearls: Almond Lavender Cupcakes

Black pearls: Oreo Truffle Stuffed Cupcakes

Rainbow shimmer: Breaking Bad Funfetti Cupcakes

Gold shimmer: Lucky Charms Cupcakes

Cupcake Liners

Tip: try T.J. Maxx or Marshall’s for cheap liners in a variety of great prints and patterns! I buy mine almost exclusively from them.

Almond bark: I go through this stuff like water. It’s also harder to find than a cross-eyed unicorn. Thanks to Amazon, you can buy a six-pack for $20.oo, which is a fraction of the price you’d pay for the equivalent amount from your neighborhood grocery (if they even have it). It’s versatile, and easier to work with than bakers chocolate. Try it with sugar cookie dough truffles, pretzels, or shaped candy molds.

Log Cabin Almond Bark

Log Cabin Almond Bark

India Tree Vanilla Powder: I recently discovered this while perusing the baking aisle at Whole Foods. It’s not exactly wallet friendly (about $14.oo for a 2.7 oz bottle), but now that I have it, I can’t live without it. Keep in mind, it is NOT a substitute for vanilla extract; it adds a sweet hit of vanilla flavor to coffees, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, and more, but shouldn’t be used in place of a good quality extract…

Vanilla extract: I’ve been using this Penzey’s Spices brand double-strength extract lately, and it’s great because a little goes a long way. I also love Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract, which is the brand my mom has used for as long as I can remember. Regardless of brand allegiance, make sure you don’t cheap out on good vanilla!

Vanilla extract and vanilla powder.

This is the first non-recipe-or-review post I’ve written. Did you find it helpful? Inspiring? Annoying? Let me know what your thoughts are, and if you’d like to see more posts of this nature (how-to’s, step-by-step guides to different baking methods, product hauls, et cetera) in the future!

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