Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dressed Up Bookshelf for my Craft Room

You will need contact paper in your desired print, I found mine at Wal-Mart.

Remove the shelves from your book shelf.  To make it easier to stick the paper down, I measure out the length I need and cut it.  Next I roll it print side in.

Start removing the backing, keeping the contact paper rolled.  This will allow you to stick the first edge down without having to worry about the rest of the paper getting loose and sticking to everything including itself.

Smooth out the paper as you go, pulling the backing off slowly as needed until you have the entire sheet secured.

Repeat this process until the back is covered.  You can also use this reverse roll if you need to attach a poster to an adhesive board for displays.

The slower you go the easier it is to correct, so take your time.

Pop your shelves back in and adorn with knick-knacks and shenanigans.

I will be putting damask print caddies from Thirty-One and other black organizers on here.  the two bookshelves next to it will also be painted black and may get the shelf lining as well .  This took hardly any time and is a great way to dress up some inexpensive shelves.

Happy crafting, and a very Happy New Year! Pin It Now!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Easy New Year's Eve Edible Arrangement

You will need:
-A hat or similar decorative thing.  I found this hat at Meijer's in the seasonal decorations display
-Bamboo Skewers (I found these at Meijer in the kitchen gadgets section)
-White and Chocolate Candiquick or other dipping chocolate
-Glittery Sprinkles in as many colors as you like
-Florist foam (small block, you may have to cut it to fit in the hat, I wrapped mine in foil to keep the foam from going everywhere)
-Tape (to secure the hat to a tray)
-A tray
-Dippable yummies: I used marshmallows, coconut marshmallows, and Triple Double Stuffed Oreos.  You could use anything you can put on a stick.  If you use fruit, you will not want to do it the day before.  You will want to do it as close to the time you need it as possible (like just a few hours in advance to give the chocolate time to dry but not enough time for the fruit to get mushy)

You can also make things to use in the arrangement like cake pops or peanut butter balls or whatever truffle-like things you can think of.  The benefit to using marshmallows and oreos? SPEED.  Limited work and still delightfully tasty.

Let's face it.  With all the holiday baking that has gone on, a shortcut can really be welcomed.

Anyway, I started by cutting my florist foam block to fit in my hat, then wrapping it in aluminum foil.  I don't particularly like the green foam bits that go everywhere, so I tend to wrap mine.  It is not actually necessary, really it is just more of a thing that I am just very particular about.

I put the block in the bottom of the hat, and then sat the hat on a larger silver tray and taped the front and back down.  I really did not want it sliding around on my tray.

At some point, you will need to make some holes in the top of the hat, which I like to do after I have stuff dipped so that I can get an idea of spacing for the holes.  I used an Xacto knife and started with the center. Build out from this, making it as dense as you like.  You can change the heights of things by pushing ones toward the outer edges in further into the block, and by angling them in around the edges instead of pushing them straight down.

For the treats, melt your chocolate according to package directions.  I like to dip the FLAT end of the skewer into chocolate first.  Next, before it dries, I push that into the marshmallow and then dip the entire thing in chocolate. For oreos, I twist apart the cookie, dip the end of a skewer in chocolate, and set it on the cookie and then set the other side back on top of that.  You want a good amount of chocolate on the stick so that it holds when you go to dip it later.

I will be the first to say that the oreos are a lot more persnickety than the marshmallows but they are worth it because they are delicious.

As each thing was coming out of the chocolate, I let the excess drain off and gave it a few gentle shakes.  Then, I had poured out piles of glitter sugar  and I sprinkled sugar around the sides of the marshmallows.  Then, I tapped the top of the marshmallow into the sugar piles to coat and set it topside down on wax paper to dry.  For the oreos, I dipped them in chocolate and sat them on wax paper after letting the excess drain, and then I sprinkled the sugar glitter heavily on the top and less toward the bottom just because I liked how that looked.

Give them a bit to dry, and then pop them in the arrangement base.

This is a super simple way to have a fun dessert display without costing you hours of work.  I quite frankly think everything tastes better if it is on a stick.

Also, this is a cute way to display non-dipped food items if you are having fondue.

Happy crafting, and happy New Years! Pin It Now!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kid's Birthday Pirate-Themed Cake

This was a fun little cake that we did for a kid's birthday party.  The figurines were purchased online by the person who got the cake.  For the other decorations, we used red fondant to cut the X, the lines, and the number 5.

The pearls were edible white sixlets, which you can typically find at Hobby Lobby or similar.  We also used various sizes of decorator sugars to give it a pretty dusting on top.

The bases are done in buttercream, which we prefer to use because it just tastes yummier.

You will want to stick the little figurines in when the icing is fresh and soft or you will want to put a fresh spot of icing under the base of each and then press them into the cake.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Vanilla Bean Custard Ice Cream

-2 1/4 C Milk (I use whole milk)
-1 1/4 C sugar
-2 Vanilla Beans, split and insides scraped out
-6 egg yolks
-3 C heavy whipping cream

Heat the milk, sugar, and vanilla beans (both the scraped out bits and the beans themselves, which you will later remove) on medium or a little lower until thoroughly warmed.  Remove the vanilla bean pods with a spoon or similar.  Alternatively, if you want to make sure the caviar or whatever you want to call the vanilla bits you scrape from the pod break up appropriately, you can mix them in with your sugar before getting it all in the bowl to start. Most of mine broke up just fine, but I did notice a few clumps still here and there.

Whip up the egg yolks (I just whipped mine up a bit with a fork but you can be really effective and whip them up really well with a mixer).  Add a little of the heated mixture at a time, very slowly, to temper the eggs, mixing it thoroughly while adding it in.  You don't want the eggs to scramble.
After you have mixed in about a cup or so, add the egg mixture back in to the heated mixture, whipping really really well while you add it back in.

Heat the mixture on medium low, stirring very well. You will want to stir up the mixture and continue heating until it thickens enough to coat the spatula.  You should be able to wipe your finger across the back of the spatula and it hold in place without running.

Remove it from the heat.  Get a metal bowl or your ice cream canister and pack it in some ice in another bowl or in your ice cream container.  Add the cream to the chilled bowl.

Add your custard mixture to the cream and mix well to incorporate. Chill it for a while in the fridge, or pack in more ice and stir in the container to cool it.  Once chilled, freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Now, mine came out pretty yellowy, mostly because I use jumbo eggs so the yolks were big and I did not whip a whole lot of air into mine.  I had the goal in mind of making a rich custard-like ice cream, and I think this accomplishes that.

I got these super cool containers on amazon.com which they sell in cups, pints, quarts, etc.  They are waxed paper just like a normal ice cream container and you could dress them up with all kinds of cute labels and such for gifting.  I am really excited about these little things because these are a lot easier to store in my freezer, and I think they will be better than the thin plastic containers I had to use before.  I got 25 containers for $20, and it shipped prime!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mango Salsa Mexican Rice

-1 ripe mango, diced
-1 pack of cherry tomatoes, chopped
-Cilantro, I used approximately 1 to 2 tsp of cilantro that comes in a tube from the produce section, you may want to start small with dried cilantro
-1/3 C frozen corn
-1/4 of a very small onion, very finely minced
-salt, ample.
-1/2 tsp taco seasoning
-1/4 tsp pureed chipotle peppers (I just used canned, nothing fancy)
-1 to 2 cups of cooked rice, depending on the ratio you want
-Optional additions of beef or chicken and cheese to make it a full meal instead of a side

Heat all the ingredients except rice and whatever else you are optionally adding in on medium or just a little higher.  You don't want to overcook the mango, and so if you want to cook the tomatoes down more you can just add the mango in later. 

I however just cooked it all together about ten minutes or so just to get all the flavors combined.  Remove it from the heat and stir in your yummies.  You could easily add peppers as well.  You also have the option of sauteeing onions and peppers first, then adding the tomato and cooking all that about 10-15 minutes with the herbs and seasoning, and then adding in the mangoes and cooking for another 5 minutes or so if you want more veggies but want them to be cooked not crunchy. 

This is a good way to stretch ingredients in rice, and a great way to add a really fresh variety of flavors.  I feel like we eat much heavier food over the winter months and stop eating a lot of bright flavors like cilantro.  But, if you just watch the grocery, you can stumble on a really ripe mango in the dead of winter when you least expect it!  You can also make cilantro-lime flavored foods all year round.

This rice would also be a great side dish to fish, or you can add things like beef or chicken in it and eat it like a meal. It is really versatile, which makes it a great quick side that can go with a variety of meals.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chocolate Dipped Triple Double Stuffed Oreos: The Tastiest No-Bake Dessert

For every pack of Triple Double Stuffed Oreos, you will want two packs of Candiquick (white or chocolate, or one of each).

Let me start off by saying I HIGHLY suggest the white chocolate coating on these.  I did not personally try the chocolate coating, I am gifting these to some chocolate lovers I know, but I did try the white and it was basically Heaven.

In fact, it was a lot like dirt pudding, all condensed into a portable little cookie in a way.

Regardless, melt the chocolate according to package directions.  You can either keep it in the trays or melt in in a bowl or soup mug.  Honestly, it doesn't much matter for oreos.  Pretzel rods are a different story, as they would be impossible to dip in a bowl.

After you have the chocolate melted, plop an oreo in it and scoop chocolate over the top and down the sides to coat it all.  I like to use a FORK (much easier to balance than a knife and less frustrating than tongs) to get under the cookie, hold it up for a moment and let the chocolate drain, and then transfer it to wax paper to dry.  I just let mine slide off the fork.

They may need 20 or 30 minutes to set, you could pop them in the fridge if you need to speed them up a bit.  Just do not leave them in too long as chocolate that cools quickly will streak sometimes.

So, typically I just dip double stuffed oreos as I find dipping the originals to be insulting.  They don't have near enough icing!  But these Triple Doubles...they have made me a changed woman! These are amazing dipped in chocolate.  It ends up costing you more because there are fewer in a pack (not that I counted but logistically I assume this) but they are so impressive looking when you bite into them...

It is like a super simple cookie torte of amazingness.

In fact, you should probably just go ahead and call them that.  Unless you need to impress someone.  In which case they would be the Super Complex Cookie Tortes of Amazingness that Require Extreme Talent and Beauty.  That is a pretty impressive title...

There are multiple reasons to make these: 1) you don't have to fire up the oven.  2) these are relatively no-fail unless you ignore the chocolate melting directions.  3) they look awesome.  4) they take an already loved cookie to a whole new level.  This is like an oreo with a PhD. 5) RIDICULOUSLY EASY!

My best friend loves dipped oreos, and I am taking her Christmas gift to her tomorrow, so I am adding these in with it.  I had gotten a broken pack of oreos and my mom was nice enough to go to the store in town and pick me some up.  They were running a special on cookies, and that is how we ended up with these fancy cookies.  It was QUITE a happy chance that stemmed from a very sad little pack of busted up oreos.

But that seems to be how the best things come about in life.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Banana Blueberry Muffins

-2 Extremely ripe bananas, like when you think they are ripe enough, give them another day or so ;)
-2 C sugar
-1/2 C oil
-2 jumbo eggs
-3/4 C milk
-3 C whole wheat flour
-1 C frozen blueberries
-1.5 tsp baking soda
-pinch of salt
-1.5 tsp cinnamon
-Brown sugar for sprinkling

Mix the banana and the sugar well.  Add in the remaining ingredients except the brown sugar.  Put out into small loaf pans and sprinkle a little brown sugar on top.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  You may need to bake a little longer if using a larger muffin pan, or maybe a little shorter if you use muffin pans.

It may seem a little strange to use only whole wheat flour, but honestly these were the best muffins that I have tasted in quite a while!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Herb Roasted Cornish Hens

Preheat your oven to 350F.

For each person you will be serving, you will need a hen.  We really didn't eat all of ours, but that is ok because the leftovers can always make for a great soup or pot pie or anything you would use roasted chicken leftovers in.

Brush each hen with melted butter.  Sprinkle the top with basil (approximately 1-2 tsp, however heavy you like it basically), a light sprinkle of crushed rosemary, and a pinch of marjoram if you happen to have it on hand.  It is my very favorite spice to use with chicken, and I believe it would work well with this.

Hit the hens with a hefty dose of salt and pepper.  After eating this, I think it would be worth taking the time to season both sides.  I did not honestly think to do that.

Put the hens in a glass baking dish and add about a half cup of water or so, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.  If you want, you can add in any pieces of potato, carrots, or other veggies you may want to roast.

Bake, covered with foil, for 45-50 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 10-15 to brown the tops.  Remove from the oven and let stand about ten minutes to let the juices settle.

We served ours with rice and green beans and pumpernickel bread.

These would also be good with more pizzazzy flavors like BBQ or really anything that you like to use on chicken.  Again, don't worry about leftover meat going to waste because if you save the broth and the meat, add it to a pot of water with a couple TB of butter and some of the same herbs you used in the roasting process, you are just some noodles or dumplings away from a delish dinner all over again.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Vanilla Sugar for Holiday and DIY Gifting

You will need:
-1 small container with locking lid (I used the one shown from Hobby Lobby, it is about 2.5 inches tall or so)
-1 vanilla bean
-Enough sugar to fill the jar

Slit the vanilla bean and scrape the vanilla yumminess out of the inside.  Cut the remaining part of the bean in half and toss it in the jar.

Pour in enough sugar to come to the top of the jar and mix in the vanilla bits you scraped from the inside of the bean.  You can definitely toss this in a food processor and pulse a few times if you like, just don't turn the sugar into dust!

For best results, let it sit at least a week before gifting it.  I shook mine every couple days to make sure nothing was clumping together.  Include a note to let the recipient know that they can stretch this further by adding in more sugar as it is used and shaking it up.

This is great to use on sugar cookies, in tea or coffee, or wherever else you might think.  For a total package, I am including a cookie baking book and a couple packs of cookie mix. Let's face it, sometimes you want to make them from scratch and sometimes you do NOT.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffins (from Maseca)

Ingredients (per dozen):
-1 C Maseca (corn flour)
-1 C AP Flour
-1 TB baking powder
-2 eggs
-1/2 C frozen corn
-1/2 C Sour Cream
-1/2 C milk, more as needed
-4 TB butter, softened
-1 small jalapeno, thinly sliced with seeds removed as much as possible (won't need all of it)
-4 oz extra sharp white or regular cheddar cheese, shredded
-Pinch of salt
-Pinch of sugar

Real simple, just toss everything in a mixer and let it go until combined.  I don't bother to do dry then wet then combine.  I just skip right on to combining, and add just enough extra milk to make it like a thick cake batter.  I used my mandoline to thinly slice my jalapeno which I daresay was extremely convenient.  My mom shredded my cheese for me, which was also quite convenient.

Top each of these with a thin jalapeno ring and a little sprinkle of cheese.

Anyway, grease a muffin tin (no need to use liners), and fill with two heaping TB or so of batter.  This is absolutely not a runny batter, so you can fill it up more than you might a cupcake without having to worry about it running over.

Bake at 350 for 20 to 22 minutes.

And then gobble them up!

I am a big fan of corn muffins, and the next time I am going to make this particular batch I am going to add bacon.  Bacon jalapeno would be pretty fantastic.  I have seen a few recipes that combine jalapeno and cranberry, so you could do something like that if you are a brave soul.

I love making these muffins from maseca because I know exactly what is in them and can control the sugar.  I like sweet corn muffins of course, but sometimes I just want something more savory! And these come out with a texture more moist, a kin of a cupcake for sure, which I like better than really dry varieties.  Pair a good corn muffin up with a good chili, and you get one happy camper out of me!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Snowflake Cookie Designs

Like I posted yesterday, I think one of the best things about Christmas cookies is using the same cutter to make multiple different designs.  A round cookie can be an ornament, a penguin head, a peppermint.  A duck can become a Santa (as I happily proved this year).  And just like the real deals, each snowflake can be just a little bit different.

With the right mix of time and patience, you can make some pretty elaborate cookies.  The fast way is the top left.  For this, all you need to do is outline the cookie, let it sit for five minutes or so (typically however much time it takes you to outline the rest of the ones you made) and then go back and fill it in.  A little sparkly sugar sprinkled into the wet icing gives it a beautiful snowy look.  Check Hobby Lobby or a local cake shop for various sugars, glitters, and other useful shenanigans this holiday season.

On other cookies, like the bottom left, you may choose to come back and put think snowflake lines over the base icing once it is completely dry and stick an edible pearl in the middle.  You can often find cute decorations like those at stores like Meijer and Wal-Mart.  You always want to stick them in when the icing is wet.

Alternatively, you can make wide snowflake legs like the bottom right and stick a pearl in the middle after the base coat is dry.  This actually was one of my favorites of the batch.  To make the top right snowflake, I did almost triangular shapes at the points, with spokes going to a large hexagon in the middle in white.  I came back once that was dry to outline the points, line the spokes, and outline the center.  Stick the white pearls in the blue outline.

This is a great way to be able to still use cookies that maybe bulged out a little more than you expected so that they don't look so out of place.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Creative Cookie Cutter Use: Ducks to Santa

So, originally I had this idea in my head that I would make Christmas cookies at my apartment.  I already had a train cutter, and was looking at my other cutters to see what I might be able to redesign into something else.  I had a square, cool that could be a present.

I had a halloween cat...that wasn't helpful...an apple? Nope not so much...

A duck? Of course, that could be a Santa in a heartbeat.

True story, this is actually how my brain works. I turned the duck around and around and finally worked it out in my head exactly what I would need to do to make it look like a Santa with a bag on his shoulder.

Honestly, sometimes I just like to use what I have.

However, what I did not have was icing bottles, powdered sugar, food coloring...or anything that I needed basically.  So I brought my cutters home because we always make Christmas cookies here.

As you can see, you need to turn the duck cookie so that the tail points down and the beak points up.  Turn the tail into the beard and make the white hat details.  Let those dry then add the red for the hat and some blue eyes.   Let those dry before putting the green in for the bag or it will bleed.  You can also come back with a stiff white royal icing and make another layer outline to give it more detail.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Train Themed Christmas Cookies

This year we mixed our Christmas cookies up a little and added a train.  I found a cookie cutter clearanced out at Meijer, which is easily my favorite store to be at and the one where I go to college always has the most interesting things on clearance racks.

The first train I decorated was...well...ugly...ok fine it was HIDEOUS.  I was thinking to myself, oh this cannot be.

So I gave it another go and we ended up vastly improved.  First and foremost, you need to do complex cookies in stages. As soon as linework dries, it is way easier to fill in than trying to go when it is wet and dragging and smearing colors.  Plus, the way the different colors bulge right where they meet gives something like a train more depth and dimension like a toy would have.

So first I do all the linework in black.  I Do it all at once, and for the most part and not worried if there are a few pull marks because I know I will fill it back in with color.  I do the wheels first, then outline the body.  Next I put the little puffers on the engine.  Lastly, I make any midsection lines and details that I want.

We do all our cookies with royal icing because it dries firm and makes them stackable.

Anyway, give that at least about a 10 or fifteen minute headstart- AKA, do all of your linework on all of your cookies first, because by the time you get to the last one your first should be dry.

Come back and add red and green to the body as you see fit.  As you can tell, this final cookie in the corner was not the one I had taken the linework pictures of, but you get the idea.

These are so darling and I absolutely want to make many more of them this holiday season.  So many people have little train sets that go around Christmas trees and other decorations that it only seems appropriate to give nod to them in the seasonal lineup.  Plus, as Dr. Sheldon Cooper points out...everybody loves trains!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Roasted Portobello, Sweet Potato Fries, and Chipotle Ketchup

Ingredients (per serving):
For the Mushroom-
-1 large portobello mushroom
-1 heaping TB feta cheese
-1 TB chopped tomato
-1 slice bacon, chopped
-1 tsp ranch seasoning

-1 Sweet potato for fries, cut into...fries?
-Ketchup mixed with 1/4 tsp adobo sauce or pureed chipotles, or more to taste

Preheat your oven to 450F.  Line a pan with parchment paper (not inherently necessary but I like to avoid burning the bottom in the hot oven).  Toss the sweet potato pieces in a little oil, arrange on the pan saving a space for the mushroom, and hit them with some sea salt or other desired toppings.

Put them in the oven and set your timer for 20 minutes.  Clean your mushroom cap and put on the toppings, adding it when your timer gets to about 15 in the spot you saved on the pan.  Let that all finish roasting, watching it carefully because as you can tell from the picture your gas oven may be a complete loon and almost burn your fries...

This was all really tasty and was a fun and much more healthy play on a burger and fries.  I LOVE sweet potato anything, and the flavor works well with the chipotle in the ketchup.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

No-Wait Breadstick dough

-3/4 C AP Flour
-1/2 C Sour Cream
-3/4 tsp baking soda
-Pinch of salt
-Milk as needed

Mix the first four together, and then add the tiniest bit of milk to make the dough come together if it doesn't at first.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a couple minutes until smooth.

Tear off hunks about the size of a golf ball and roll into breadstick shapes or twist into knots.  Brush with melted butter and top with desired seasonings.  I like to hit mine with just a little pinch of salt on top as well.  Very light!

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so or until they start to brown.

This recipe results in a very soft and tasty breadstick.  I like it because I do not have to wait for any dough to rise, and I am typically quite impatient.  I also have not been planning meals out very well so I have not done a whole lot of advanced prep for anything.  I am getting ready to go on break and have just mostly been flying by the seat of my pants and doing a whole lot of sleeping the past couple days.

It takes a lot to recover from graduate school, I have determined...

But breadsticks and carbs are a great step in the right direction! ;)

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sweet Corn Muffins Using Maseca

Ingredients (per every 6):
-1/2 C corn flour
-1/2 C AP flour
-1/2 TB baking powder
-1/4 C frozen corn
-1/4 C sugar
-1/2 C milk
-1 jumbo egg
-2 TB softened butter
-pinch of salt
-Optional 1/2 C shredded cheese, if desired

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Mix all the ingredients up, folding in the corn last.  It should be a pretty thick batter.  Grease a dark nonstick muffin pan or line with baking papers (I really only like and suggest the foil ones, I HATE the paper ones).

I use my large ice cream (one of those with the release lever handle thingy, technical term) and put a half scoop in each muffin well, which pretty much fills them up.  So basically put a glob in there, it should get you exactly 6.  Sometimes one of mine is a little small because I don't really scrap my bowl as much as I probably should.

Bake for 20 minutes and then relish in their deliciousness! I have a serious thing for corn muffins, and really I should not make them because I eat them all.  If you have ever wondered why I make some of my recipes so small, that right there is why.  There are just some things that this girl cannot resist.

And a good corn muffin is right up there with cupcakes on that list.

Corn flour makes great savory muffins, as well as sweet ones like these, so investing in a bag is well worth it.  I have mine from making corn tortilla shells, which have not been working out for me lately for some strange reason.  I may need to get a tortilla press...my unorthodox methods could be backfiring.  I like to use Maseca for corn muffins though, because I really like knowing all of the things that are in them.  And I like to control the sweetness level and salt levels.  Basically I am just picky...

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beefy Bacon Chili

-1 large steak or equivalent size of other meat, I actually used the same cut I use for beef roasts in my crockpot so get what's on sale in my opinion, I would use a half a pack of a beef roast type cut.  Think, size of a kindle or so. Chop it into pink eraser size pieces.  I am all about the learning today.
-1 pack of bacon, chopped
-1/4 small onion, finely minced
-1 28oz can petite diced tomatoes, I ONLY use Meijer naturals
-4-6 roma tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
-Chipotle peppers: I blended canned chipotles up and used about 1 TB of the puree.  You can use less or more to your taste.  I love chipotle peppers.  LOVE THEM.
-1 tsp garlic
-heaping TB flour
-1/2 tsp basil
-Shake of marjoram
-Shake of nutmeg
-Hefty squirt of ketchup (think 3 Mississippi's)
-6 dashes of Worcestshire Sauce (random but true)
-Salt to taste, pepper as needed
-Optional 1/2 C frozen corn or whatever else you want to throw in

One pot meal alert! Anyway, add the bacon and fry to crispy in the bottom of a large kettle.  Add in your onions next, give them just a moment (scoot your bacon over to the edges) and then add your beef pieces.  Cook all of this until the beef is done with 1/2 TB chipotle puree.  When that is ready, add the flour and stir well to dissolve.

Why add flour? Well, I knew my bacon would create grease.  I was not particularly fond of the idea of greasy bacon.  I also did not want to go to the effort of draining it.  I also am very adept at gravy. I also knew I might need to thicken this. A lot of chili mixes have a thickening agent of some type, or at least that is what I read recently.  X,Y, Z later, it made the most sense to soak up that grease and thicken my soup!

Anyway, stir like crazy and get that flour dissolved in the juices, then add the pureed tomatoes, spices, ketchup, W. sauce, and let it cook for a couple minutes.  Then add the canned tomatoes and the rest of the chipotle puree.  Bring to a slow boil, add the corn, and let it cook until it reaches desired thickness.

You can obviously make this as thick or thin as you want, and you can add as much or little beef as you want.  I would personally suggest using part of your pack of bacon to fry up and put on top of the chili for serving.  I gave mine a hit of extra sharp white cheddar.  It was very tasty!

This is best served with corn muffins, which my sweet corn muffin recipe will be posted later today.  I made mine from maseca, I actually have found that I prefer it to typical cornbread mixes.

You can use a variety of peppers if you like for different types of heat, chipotles happened to be all I really had handy at the time, and like I said they are my absolute favorite.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Multiple Christmas Card Designs from One Paper Pack (Joyeux Noel)

For the most part, all you need is a pack of envelopes, the Joyeux Noel paper pack from Hobby Lobby that is 8.5 by 11, glue and mounting dots.

For one of the cards, I did use a present sticker and glitter glue, red ink or marker, and a green inkpad or marker would be helpful but you can get by without.

I started off by cutting a half inch of the narrow side of the paper, then cutting the sheet in half.  This gave me 5.5 x 8 pieces of paper that folded into 4 x 5.5 cards, which is the size of my envelopes.  The paper is good enough that I used it as a base, except on the Santa card which I had to cut just a front out and glue to a different card base.

The poinsettia cards were my favorite.  To make these, I cut strips of paper 4 inches long by 2 inches wide.  On the back of one, I drew the shape I wanted for a poinsettia petal.  I would argue there is little need to print out a template, as they are mostly an oval with wavy edges. As with most things, irregularity is actually your friend on this one.

I cut five sheets at once to make sure that my petals were close enough alike.  I used the same process for leaves and glued them down first.  Next, I glued 3 base colors down flat to the card, then put the two printed ones on mounting dots.  You can bend and fold the edges if you like to give them a little texture, or curl the tips up.  Cut off any excess material. I folded a small scrap of paper over a couple times to cut out three rough small circles to put in the center.

For the tree cards, I used the tree paper as the base, then glued 1.5 inch by 4 inch scraps over the top and bottom.  To create the white cores on the smaller details, you will need to tear some paper.  Working SLOWLY to make sure you get the look you want, tear the part that you DO NOT WANT TO USE (e.g. the top part and you want the bottom to use, or similar) TOWARD YOU.  The part you do want to use you should be slowly pulling away from you.  By keeping your fingers close to where the tear is, you can manipulate the paper to get peaks and curves as desired.  Glue these accents right on the line of the border scraps.

I used some of the sheet music pages to make the birch trees in the card with the redbird.  I used varying widths of paper, then used the backside of another sheet to give myself some white snow.  I hit the snow and a few places on the trees with glitter glue.  Next, I freehanded a small bird on the back of the red and white paper, cut it out, and colored over it with a red marker.  This left the lighter details while toning down the color differences.  This bird was attached using a mounting dot.

Finally, for the busy card on the bottom right, I used the printed paper for the base, and used another sheet of it to cut out a few details like a piece of the stamp, Santa's face, and a tree.  These I put on the card where the image was on the base, but used mounting dots to give them depth.  I hit the Santa and the tree with glitter glue.

When I glitter things, I use a Q-tip to just paint a little glue on.  My glitter glue is close to being empty anyway and it has not wanted to play nicely, so that is a nice little workaround.

This did not use hardly any of the paper pack at all, and I plan on using some of the paper to make some simple Christmas tags to put on things.  Considering this paper was half price, I really feel like it was a good deal considering how little extra things I had to buy to make this all come together.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Minion Lightbulb Ornament

You need yellow, blue, black, and white paint, and a lightbulb of course.

I painted the yellow top first, and the blue simultaneously. Let this dry and then add the eyeball details.

To let this dry, I typically find something like that a bottlecap or a roll of washi tape or similar.  Minions don't mind drying upside down! :)

This will be a fun addition to the shenanigans tree when I get home to put it up again.  I have been switching out my lightbulbs for CFLs throughout my apartment.  I had so much fun last year upcycling bulbs that I decided to let it carry over.  And I DO love Despicable Me and the minions.

To hang this, I am planning on gluing a ribbon or similar onto the top with E6000, you could use hot glue as well of course.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chobani Yogurt Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

-1 6 oz container chobani plain greek yogurt
-3/4 C whole wheat flour
-option 1/2 tb honey
-hefty dash of salt (remember, yogurt starts it more sweet than normal)
-1 TB garlic cheese topper (McCormick or other brand as available)
-1 tsp baking powder

Mix all of this yumminess up, I kneaded mine in the bowl to combine for a few minutes after it was fairly well mixed.  Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to desired thinness.  Dust a pizza pan with cornmeal and put the pizza crust on.  Top as desired and bake at 400 for 14 minutes, and optionally switch over to the broiler for a few to brown the cheese.

You could also brush the edges of the crust with butter and top them with herbs.

As you may have noticed, I did not take a lot of care in making my edges pretty.  I.  Was. HUNGRY.  I typically make a no-knead dough for my pizzas, but those have to rise 8 hours and that was just not going to happen.  I really wanted pizza, and I wanted it right now.

This little guy takes no time to rise!  You of course could use AP flour if you are not a wheat fan.  I actually like wheat crusts on pizzas.  I topped mine with pulled pork, 3 kinds of cheese, tomatoes, BBQ sauce, and a few little jalapenos. I cut mine into 1/4ths and ate two, so I get two meals out of this little guy! That is even better.

I topped my slices with parmesan cheese, of course.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Flaky Layer Biscuits

-6 TB butter, softened
-2 C AP Flour, plus 2-3 TB more as needed
-1 C Milk
-1 TB baking powder

Mix the ingredients, adding flour 1 TB at a time after the first 2 C until it just forms a ball.

Turn out onto a floured surface and dust the top with flour.  Roll out about 1/4th inch thick or so, and brush the top with melted butter.

Fold the sides over like a brochure, overlapping in the middle.  Fold the top or bottom, or both, as well if needed or if you want more layers.  Give it a good roll (or smoosh) with a roller to meld the layers back together. You want it to be an inch or a so tall dough when you go to cut it.

Cut as desired, I like to use a square cutter that way I don't have to reroll my dough since when you fold this it has relatively squared off sides.

Bake at 400F for 16-18 minutes. 

I decided to try this while pondering pastry dough.  I also was out of bread this morning, so it was a perfect time to give it a whirl.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Meatballs in a Fresh Tomato Sauce

-14 meatballs of desired brand, I use Trader Joe's
-7 or 8 Roma tomatoes
-Hefty pinch of salt
-1 TB butter
-1/4 small onion, finely minced
-1 tsp garlic
-2 tsp basil
-1/2 tsp rosemary
-Optional bit of oregano if you like it, I happen to not be a fan
-Noodles and cheese as desired

In a medium saucepan, I chop up and add all the tomatoes with the butter, herbs, and onion.  Typically I heat this on medium and give it a five to eight minute head start before I add my meatballs.  This way, there are already juices flowing and bubbling by the time they are added in.

I leave my very chunky and cook with the meatballs for about 20 to 30 minutes after the meatballs are added.  You could reduce the heat and simmer this if you wanted it to thicken up, but I actually like the light sauce with chunky tomato bits, personally.

Top it over noodles and then add some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

What I really like about this (especially since I have been in college) is it takes me a long time to get through a jar of spaghetti sauce.  I constantly had the issue of it going old well before I could use it up.  This gives me a lot of similar flavors with stuff that I always have on hand, like tomatoes and herbs.  Plus, I like the taste of the fresh tomatoes without being overly herbed in the process.  It really strikes a nice balance for me personally.

You could also use this sauce for chicken in a pasta dish or as a chunky fresh pizza sauce.  I have not made pizza in so long, but tasting this sauce today really made me want to make one again.

Happy crafting!
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Brownie Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chips

-1 box betty crocker fudge brownie mix
-2 eggs
-1/2 C AP flour
-1/4 C oil
-2 TB water
-1/2 C dark chocolate chips
-Optional 1/2C walnuts (highly suggest)
Other inclusions as desired such as craisins, dried cherries, almonds, caramel pieces and pecans for a turtle cookie (wish I had thought of that sooner!)

Mix all of these ingredients up and add a little more oil if needed.  I use jumbo eggs.  Some people don't.  Your two eggs may be much different than mine so be prepared to adjust.

Preheat your oven to 350F and drop dollops onto a silpat or parchment paper.  I highly recommend using one of these two as these little guys like to stick.

Bake for 9-10 minutes or until edges have set and middle is barely still shiny.  Especially when using the fudge brownie varieties, it is very important to not let these bake too long. 

Remove from the oven, let sit a minute or so on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

I love these they are chewy and rich and have a lot of potential to be something completely sinful.  I had to adjust this recipe from what I actually made because I put pretzels in them and that was a really big mistake.  It tastes like stale pretzels are in my cookies.  Rawr.  However, the dark chocolate chips are so tasty in them it pretty much makes up for it.

I highly suggest trying the turtle option, that will be my next venture with these.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tempura Battered Veggies (And Everything Else I Could Find!)

-3/4 C corn starch
-1/4 C flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 C water
-1 jumbo egg
-2 TB milk, more as needed

To dip in batter:
-1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced 1/8th inch thick
-handful of snap or snow peas
-8 spears of asparagus
-1 large carrot, peeled and sliced by length, then cut in half to make smaller pieces (see picture)
-other veggies like sliced summer squash, onions (delicious, highly suggest) etc
-1 small chicken breast, cubed

Mix batter ingredients together, adding more milk as needed to form a batter the consistency of cake batter or just a touch thicker.  Err on the side of thicker.  Before I added the milk, mine was really firm like a hush puppy batter, then I added a fourth cup of milk and made it to thin, then I had to correct back with a bit of flour to thicken it back up.  I suggest the 2 TB as projecting what I think I would have needed if I had just started off small to begin with.

Dip your veggies and chicken in and drop in a pan or whatever you like to use for frying.  Fry until golden brown.  I love the snow peas because they poof up when they are fried! I was not expecting such fun.  I would say most things are going to take a bare minimum of 5 minutes each side to fry.  I typically don't time frying, although I really shouldn't say typically because I rarely fry.  I don't always fry, but when I do I time it by looks not by time.  Golden brown.  You can also tell because the batter will get firm and not squishy.

The BEST part about this batter is it reheats AMAZINGLY WELL! Seriously, I saved the rest of my meal and put it in the oven on a baking sheet at 350F for 10 minutes.  The oil that gets trapped in the batter basically fried the veggies and such again making it even more crispy and tasty.  I was really impressed.

I don't like frozen food, I don't really want to go to a hibachi grill where I always get tempura, and I don't really want to order takeout most days.  Having a way to make a tempura batter off of things I always have in my cabinet was a serious win for this apartment.  My only complaint is since I did not have a dipping sauce, some of it tasted a little bland.  I sprinkled salt on mine when it came out of the fryer.  Keep in mind, however, that I am very used to using sea salt in meals and used regular salt in this, which I always thinks skews my taste buds.  You can adjust the salt level as desired.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

DIY Burlap Wreath

You will need:
-1 16 inch wreath form, wire with greenery fronds to attach things (Hobby Lobby)
-1* Roll of burlap, 6 inch by 5 yards
-A scrap of fabric roughly 12x12 or similar amount, I used material leftover from my settee
-Embellishments, I used a rustic red poinsettia with jingle bells in the middle that I got from Hobby Lobby
-Extra wire, thin

If you want to make a super fluffy wreath, buy two things of burlap.  I had JUST enough.  You could buy two different shades if you like.  I saw extremely cute red burlap with snowflakes in the Christmas section of Hobby Lobby, but it was way pricier so I stuck with just plain since I already had scrap fabric I could mingle in.

Anyway take 3-4 inches of burlap and fold it to make a loop.  I used the fronds on the wreath to secure it down, as that is what the wreath and fronds are for according to the tag.

That's right, I read the tag for once.

Keep making these loops and securing them, altering the ring they are attached to and the direction they are oriented. If you have a big embellishment like this one, you can leave a gap at the end because it will cover it.  Just like the burlap, I attached the embellishment by wrapping a frond around it and onto the wire form. 

Since I only used one roll of burlap, I thought this looked awfully sparse when I was finished.  I decided that I had some scrap fabric in my bag that would be perfect for this.  I cut strips of fabric approximately 1.5 inch wide and about 6 inches long and made bows.

I held the two ends together, brought them to the middle of the fabric loop that it made, squeezed the middle together and wrapped it in wire to secure the bow form.  I used the tail of the wire to secure the bow to the wreath.

Others I just made smaller loops of my scrap fabric and secured them, that way it was not so apparent that I just stuck bows in this thing.

And then I hung it above the baking department, and it promptly made me want to make holiday treats.  Oh if I only had Christmas cookie cutters here, the mess I would make!

But thankfully (sadly) I don't so this area is clean for now until I make bread later or pretzels tomorrow.  This wreath goes great with my overall scheme of neutrals in my apartment.

I had left my shenanigans tree at home, which made me sad because it has all my crazy homemade ornaments on it, and I was ready to add the Stash Away All ornament that I made a few weeks ago to the mix.  Not having any holiday d├ęcor in the apartment prompted me to go to Hobby Lobby to correct it.  This wreath basically cost me $10, and I got lights and mini tree for right about $10 as well.  It has a burlap base, the tree does, and only cost $5 as everything is half off right now. 

This wreath is starkly different from the pristine white modern one I made last year for my studio at home, but I absolutely adore it.  I wanted something soft and rustic or vintage looking, and it is definitely a very warm and welcoming addition to my wall hangings. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Banana Nut Bread Pudding from Extra Muffins

-16 mini or about 4 normal sized banana nut muffins.  They need to be pretty hearty muffins, mine included oats and were from the recipe here.
-1/2 C golden raisins or raisin medley from Trader Joe's (the medley is my personal preference)
-2 slices (I used the heals) of a hearty bread like Meijer's Eurograin bread from the bakery
-2 eggs
-3/4 C milk
-1/2 TB cinnamon
-2 shakes nutmeg and 3 of ginger
-Brown sugar for sprinkling

Tear up the bread and the muffin bits and toss them with the raisins.  Turn this mixture out into a glass baking dish, mine was approximately 5 inches wide by 8 inches long perhaps.  I really am bad about knowing what my baking dishes are, but it is a rectangular Pyrex and those dimensions should be pretty reasonable.  It is smaller than the 8x10 photo hanging on my wall near my kitchen!

Anyway, mix the eggs with the milk and spices and blend well. Pour over the bread mix.  I like to press the bread stuff down after doing this with a fork to make sure it is absorbing the egg-milk.  If you want yours to still look fluffy you don't have to.  This was my first bread pudding, I am allowed to be paranoid.

Anyway let this sit while you preheat your oven to 350F.  When it comes to temperature, sprinkle brown sugar on top the bread pudding and bake 25-35 minutes or until set.  I did not put any sort of drizzle or icing over mine tonight, but I very well might whip one up in the morning from a little milk and powdered sugar or similar.  A caramel drizzle over this would be divine!

It is a funny, although rather frustrating at the time, story of how this idea came about.  When I baked those banana walnut muffins a few days ago I used Wilton mini liners that were paper and not foil.  May it was the fact the muffins were banana based or maybe the liners are different as I have not used them in a LONG time for minis, but the papers would not release from the bottom of my muffins.

I was super heartbroken as I wanted to take them in to work with me, but luckily I had enough big ones to take.  I did not want to throw the little guys away though because I hate wasting things, and I was really rolling through my brain trying to come up with a good idea.  These are the times I basically pretend I am on Chopped and try to come up with something from really random things.

Since I made the muffins so hearty instead of cupcake-y, I opted for bread pudding and I must say it worked out really well.  There are a lot of good textures going on since the bread has grains and the muffins have walnuts, and then the chewy raisins cut through with a different flavor.  I would also suggest considering blueberries or craisins if you are just not a big raisin fan.

And if you like chocolate covered bananas, maybe even chocolate covered raisins in this. I of course wanted to put bacon in it...but I held back.

Sometimes life has a way of really giving you what you need and not always what you want.  I originally planned on having a friend over this weekend, but some snow has come in and wiped those plans out.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because although I would really like to see my friend, I REALLY needed to do a deep clean this weekend on my apartment.  It is not dirty, but there is just clutter clutter everywhere, and I kind of want to rearrange things. 

Telltale to my personality, I really want to put my desk where my TV is to optimize the light I get and because I rarely turn my TV on...I really don't think it has earned the prime location.  That was on my list of things to do, but I opted to focus on my kitchen tonight instead.  It is a very long list of things to do...

But NOW I have some delicious bread pudding to reward myself with. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

-1.5 TB melted butter
-Brown sugar
-1 can whole berry cranberry sauce with optional addition of some chunked up fresh cranberries
-Zest from 1/4 of an orange
-Favorite vanilla cake recipe

Grease an 8 inch cake pan well and put the melted butter in the bottom, covering it completely.  Pack a layer of brown sugar in about 1/8th inch thick or so (aka thin layer) and top with a layer of cranberry sauce mixed with fresh cranberries and orange zest.  The fresh cranberries cut through the sugar and give it a little pizzazz.

Next, pour in your favorite cake recipe and bake as directed.  We like to use the one on the back of the Swan's Down cake flour box, but you can use others and even experiment with flavors if you are feeling bold.

When the cake is done, remove and flip it out onto a cake plate, tapping the bottom as needed to release the cake.

This is a fun spin on pineapple upside down cake that is just in time for the holiday season.  You could also add things like pecans to the topping if you have a family that likes them.  Ours is not fans of such shenanigans (except me, but then again I would find a way to put bacon in this...oh what a good idea...a bacon pineapple upside down cake....)

Anyway, I highly suggest using a half cup or whatever you want to use of fresh cranberries, of which I would chop.  The sugar in the topping helps tone them down, but they work to cut through the sweetness.  It is a pretty good setup really.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Crockpot Beef with Gravy Over Rice

-Beef roast of desired variety (I had a chuck roast)
-Rice, enough to suit number of people or to account for leftovers
-Butter (2-3 TB total)
-1/3 of a small onion, diced
-1 tsp garlic powder

Add the roast to your crockpot and put enough water in to cover it.  Add in 1 to 2 TB of butter, the garlic powder, some salt, and the onion.  Cook on low for at least 8 hours or until it is pull apart tender.

When it is ready, cook the rice according to directions.  In a medium skillet, add 1 TB butter and melt.  Add in a heaping tablespoon of flour and stir constantly until combined to start the gravy.  Dip out 1.25 C of beef broth and add it to the flour/butter.  Stir constantly until it starts to thicken and gets to desired consistency.  This makes enough for about 2 people, so adjust as needed.

Put a bed of rice down, top with beef, and pour a little gravy over.  Crack pepper over it if desired.

I would love to stay and chat, but I am nearly falling out of my chair.  This chick is sleepy!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Banana Walnut Muffins

Ingredients (I made 17 large muffins and 24 minis with this one recipe):
-1 C AP flour
-1 C whole wheat flour
-1.25 C oats
-4 large very ripe bananas, mashed
-3 jumbo eggs
-1/2 C packed brown sugar
-1/2 C walnuts, roughly chopped
-1/3 C applesauce
-1/3 C milk
-1 TB chia seed (optional)
-1 tsp vanilla
-3 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-pinch of salt
-1/2 TB cinnamon (less if yours is really strong)
-3 shakes ginger
-2 shakes nutmeg

Quite a list, no?  Quite a muffin.  Mash the bananas and mix with the egg, vanilla, spices, milk, applesauce, and brown sugar until incorporated.  Add in the dry ingredients next and mix until just combined.  You may find that you need to add a touch more flour depending on what types of things you use, e.g. I use very chunky applesauce and you may choose to use a very smooth applesauce.  This could change the texture and you may need to adjust on the fly.

Line a cupcake pan with cupcake papers (I highly suggest shelling out the extra money and getting the good foil ones) and put a large ice cream sized scoop in each tin.  These raise a bit but don't run.  They dome more than really spread. I topped mine with a mix of almond flour, oats, and brown sugar.  That step is completely optional and you could just use oats or nuts to give them a nice textured look.

Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes or until the top starts to turn golden.  The minis I baked about 12 minutes, they might have been able to handle up to 15.  Remove to a cooling rack and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired.  I love this step.  For whatever reason, it seems impossible to get enough cinnamon in a recipe for me, so I always love to have some on the top of the muffin as well.  As I typically do not make overly sweet muffins, that added sweetness on top is also beneficial.

I get really excited when I walk into the grocery store and they have spotty clearance bananas, because I know it is always going to be a fun adventure.  Banana nut is one of my all time favorite muffins and bananas in general are just really versatile, which I love.  Plus, this recipe does not reduce my butter stash, and that is a big plus for me.  Butter is gold in this apartment!

Since I was not at work Monday and since I ate all the pretzels that were going to go to work with me Monday, I felt it only right to make up for it.  I did not want to make pretzels again, and who doesn't love a muffin to start the day.  It also is not as much cleanup as a pretzel, although I did manage to get flour all over my black tank top.

But that is sadly nothing new to me.

Happy crafting!
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Maple Bacon Wrapped Soft Pretzel Bites

When I started the 365 Day Craft Challenge, Round 2 I had multiple goals in mind.  Granted I cannot remember most of them which is the most ironic thing about when I set goals as I have absolutely no idea when I succeed if ever.  But no concern there, what I do remember is that I wanted to make the dish that brought my entire world to a halt. Something that when it hit my taste buds that even I would be left without something to say...which is a rarity- ask anyone who knows me.

And not to toot my own horn but beep beep! I delivered.

Meet the bite that you will never be able to make enough of, the Maple Bacon Pretzel Bite.

Ingredients, as follows:
-MIX 1 C warm water with 1/2 TB light brown sugar then add 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast.  Let this sit about 10 minutes or until foamy.
-1 C whole wheat flour
-1.5C* AP Flour
-Coarse sea salt
-Bacon, cooked but not to crispy, you need it to be flexible and it will cook up some more in the oven, I used half strips and cut those in half long ways to make thin strips. Adjust yours to whatever shape you are making the pretzels (balls versus sticks versus whatever)
-REAL dark amber maple syrup, get off my lawn if you have that pancake fake junk!
-kettle of boiling water (I used my large soup kettle half full with 1/2C baking soda.  Trim the soda down if you are using a smaller pan)
-1 egg mixed with a little water to form an eggwash

First you will make the dough.  To the foamy yeast water (sounds appetizing, no?) add the whole wheat flour and mix to combine.  Once nearly combined, add one cup of the AP flour and mix until incorporated.  This should help you determine how much if any of the rest of the flour you need.  Mix in just enough for it to come to a ball. Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead five to ten minutes until smooth and elastic.

Form into a ball and put into an oiled bowl, turning to coat.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.

When the dough is ready, get the baking soda water boiling and preheat your oven to 450F.  Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment.  Tear off small hunks and form into balls or whatever shape and size suits you.  I like to roll out all the dough first, then plop them about 10 or so at a time into the kettle and boil for one minute.  I remove mine with a tea strainer or colander depending on size.

Drain them and transfer them to the baking sheet.  When they are all out of the bath, coat with the eggwash and sprinkle a little salt.  Yes bacon has salt but trust me on this one you still want that sea salt.  Wrap the bacon strip around and secure with a toothpick.  Once all of this is finished, brush the bites again, especially the bacon portion, with a generous layer of maple.  This WILL get very messy in the oven so again let me suggest silpat or parchment.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Mine took 8 minutes on a silpat in a gas oven with dark nonstick pans.  If you do the complete opposite of all that it could take a little longer so don't be alarmed.

I don't know about you but I always tend to get alarmed when my recipes bake excessively different than what it says they will.  And trust me, my gas oven bakes EVERYTHING extremely different.

I murdered some chess squares a week ago not knowing how my oven would bake them.  Quite a mess, a sad sad mess.

So I had spent a lot of time googling bacon pretzels and I was less than impressed with what the internet had to offer.  My original plan was to make sticks but I also thought I was going to take these in to work so I needed something that made a lot of them, and I picked bite sized.

BY the way, let me go ahead and suggest doubling the recipe.  You are going to want a lot of these.

As proof, a little story...

Once upon a time there was a hungry college kid who made the mistake of making pretzels.  The next morning she woke up with borderline strep throat and did not go in to work.  She and the pretzels sat 'round the little ole apartment all day...except she picked them off one by one and ate all 30 or more pretzel bites in LESS THAN 24 HOURS.

The moral of the story is these are dangerous and you need to be prepared because willpower is really not an option.

I am not even this bad with cupcakes...

You don't really have to use whole wheat flour you can use all AP, I just used part wheat the first time and I really enjoyed it.  I love the taste and texture but let's face it if you are going to eat the entire container of them it really doesn't much matter what you make them out of.

But oh my my they were delicious.  Every.  Last.  One.

And you can never go wrong with bacon!

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Turkey Noodle Soup

-1 to 1.5 C leftover turkey, chopped or shredded
-4 C water
-2 TB butter
-1 tsp marjoram
-2 shakes thyme
-1 tsp sage
-Salt to taste
-Noodles (based on whether you want it heavy on noodles or more brothy)

So I just tossed all this into a pan, brought it up to boiling, and let it cook long enough to cook the noodles.  The herbs gave it a nice hearty taste that made it seem like it had been cooking away much longer.  If you happened to have turkey broth leftover you could absolutely sub that in for water, or even use chicken stock or similar to add another level of depth.  I knew I was making mine heavy on the turkey and noodles and low on the broth side, so I was not overly concerned.

This is a fun way to use up some of that turkey, or to use turkey that you store in the freezer after the holidays.  It is also perfect for cuddling up and relaxing after the holiday business.  I don't personally Black Friday shop very often, but just deleting all these emails that have overrun my inbox because of it was thoroughly exhausting and required soup ;).  Turkey and dumplings would also be a quality option.

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Cookie Decorating Ideas

We do Christmas cookies pretty much every year, and as such we love finding a new cookie cutter to mix things up a bit.  This year, though it be early in the season, we have already stumbled upon some new things we like.

We use a stiff royal icing, to start off with, for anyone wanting to know.

So first, penguins are not commonly thought of in Christmas cookies if I had to guess, but they are consistently the favorites wherever we take cookies.  We have managed to come by a large penguin cutter and now a small baby penguin cutter.

An entire batch of penguin cookies complete with babies?!?!? How could you pass that up!

Another thing that we discovered today that we really like the looks of is using a cabin cutter in gingerbread and making log cabin cookies.  For this one, I drug lines across first, then filled in the window and door, and then made broken lines on the roof in green and a red chimney.  It took just a minute or two and it was adorable!

When doing anything kind of complex, I find it best to make the outline around a cookie and outline any little details like the penguin centers or making the eyes and letting that set a few minutes before filling in a main color.  It is a lot easier to not smear things around that way.

The top right corner are the ridiculously easy lemon cookies I made yesterday from a cake mix that taste delicious. That is a really simple way to add some easy filler cookies to a box and/or mix up the flavor offerings.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Super Simple Lemon Cookies with Lemon Icing

-1 box Duncan Hines super moist lemon cake mix
-2 eggs
-1/3 C oil
-Optional white chocolate chips

-1/3 C powdered sugar*
-2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 375F.  Mix the cookie ingredients and drop dollops on a greased cookie sheet, smooshing them down just a touch.  I like to use one of those melon baller scoops/small cookie scoops that have the trigger releases.  But relative spoonfuls are fine too.

You will want to space them about an inch and a half or two apart, they will spread a bit. 

Bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are set (this time for me was on light cookie sheets in an electric oven, my dark sheets in my gas oven at school would be shorter, please adjust according to what you use).  They will firm up and flatten out as they cool, and they will form a pretty crackled top.  Transfer them to a wire cooling rack.

Mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together, adding more powdered sugar by tablespoons if needed to thicken it up.  I made mine the consistency of honey, maybe just a touch thicker.  It set up very well and was nice and tart.

That is actually what I like about these cookies- they are tart yet sweet.  I love a good cookie and I for sure love sugar cookies especially, but mixing it up a bit with a cookie that shies away from being overly sweet is a great change of pace.  These cookies for me came out with a nice soft center, but not one that does not taste done...I am not a fan of liquid cookie goo in the center of my cookies.

Let them sit until the icing sets before stacking or similar.  I did not bake mine with white chocolate chips, but I fully believe that would be a great addition to these cookies.  I adore lemon and white chocolate together! 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fresh Cranberry Salad

-1 bag fresh, whole cranberries
-2 C white sugar
-3/4 C brown sugar
-zest from half an orange
-1/4 C water or orange juice
-1 C mini marshmallows

Add all of the ingredients except the marshmallows to a pan and heat over medium.  You will want to stir it a lot, and will need to cook it approximately 15 minutes to really cook that sugar in and soften the berries.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before stirring in the marshmallows.  You could also add things like pecans or almonds if you wanted. 

Mom used water to make this, but you could most likely get a really great flavor from using orange juice as well. 

I think this is a good thing to know how to make because it is interesting and very versatile, plus it really helps you step back and take a look at how much sugar has to go in to something cranberry to get it to not be so tart.  I think this is something that I definitely if not many people have overlooked when it comes to things like Thanksgiving and cranberry sauce.  Fresh crans pack a pretty feisty kick!

The marshmallows really balance out the tartness that remains, so it works really well together.

Happy crafting, and a very happy Thanksgiving! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Cake Pops Version 2.0

You will need:
-Your favorite cake pop recipe, I chose a red velvet and desired filling
-Red and orange candy melts
-skewers or lollipop sticks
-candy eyeballs
-snack size Ziploc bags
-An arrangement base, I used mine from yesterday's post
-Ziploc bags and wax paper

So after you have your cake pops baked, cooled, cored, and filled, you can get to work on putting them together.  Before you dip the birds, you want to make the tails, beards, and beaks.  You can also use butterscotch chips for beaks.  Believe it or not, we were OUT of baking chips.  I sincerely think this is the first time in my life.  But fortunate favors the clever, and most things can be made of chocolate.

So you want to melt the candy melts and pour the chocolate into a Ziploc bag.  Cut a TEENY bit of the corner and pipe out your decorations on to wax paper.  Do NOT cut too much of the corner off or it will be really hard to control it.  You also want to err on the thicker side over super thin decorations as they will be easier to get off the paper.

Leave them be until they are fully set, this should not take too long but may require you popping them in the fridge if you have a really warm house.  Slide a knife slowly and gently under them to pop them off the wax paper.

Melt your chocolate to dip the turkeys in, putting a little chocolate on the stick before you put the cake pop on it to make sure it holds better.  Again, if you have a warm house, freeze the pops for a bit after you insert the sticks so that they will help the chocolate set faster when you dip it.  Dip the turkeys and let a little chocolate drain off of them. Set them on top the tails, holding them if they are not sitting level and are trying to roll. Put the eyeballs on, the beards, and the beak pieces.

Let them sit until cooled and then return them to the base you have prepared. 

I really just expected them to start singing or something I mean honestly to me, it looks like a fun chorus of goofball birds that should burst into song...

Or that should be devoured. But sadly, that must wait until tomorrow.

Happy crafting!

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Easy Holiday Edible Arrangement Base

You will need:
-2 foam blocks or one large block, depending on the desired size of your arrangement.  I am using 2 blocks approximately 3 by 8 or so (rough guess).
-Foil, wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, or other desired covering that you can poke sticks through
-Bamboo skewers
-A tray that fits the amount of foam you have
-Tape (good quality)

I always wrap my foam blocks in paper because it keeps the little foam pieces from getting on things and it makes it look better.  When doing an edible arrangement, you have to think in 3D for multiple reasons.  First, things like cake pops are chunky.  You need space in between them so that they can all fit.  Second, you want to be able to see the things you have included in your arrangement. 

What I do is I cut off the bottom third on long skewers for sticks that will go in the front.  For the next tier, I cut off only about an inch.  The back row stays uncut. Cut all sticks at an angle to make sure you can poke them through the paper and the foam.

Quite frankly, the cut ones are often easier to poke.

Stick central ones in first, then outer ones in at an angle to make a sunburst, or in this case a turkey tail shape.  Use these sticks later to put your cake pops or whatever edibles on and reinsert in the holes.

The last thing you want in an edible arrangement is to try to poke a hole with a delicate treat already attached to the stick.  It is a recipe for disaster.

If you are a little worried that the wood will make whatever you are putting on them taste funky, dip the end of it in chocolate first and let it set. 

I like to secure my blocks to my tray with tape.  It helps the stability and makes it easier for people to grab things and pull them out.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, November 25, 2013

DIY Simple Christmas Canvas Decoration

You will need:
-A canvas size of your choosing, mine was about 5x7
-Paint in the colors of your choosing, I used white and green
-Puffy paint in red or other color as desired

If you are wondering why part of mine looks pink it was because I was trying to paint over a canvas I had messed up just to see if It would work.  You may prefer to start out on a clean slate.

I used red puffy paint to make the tree first, making it whimsical and curly.  Next, I painted my canvas white, after the puffy paint had dried, with crappy cheap paint and put roughly three coats on, to very little avail.  I don't mind, I love a good experiment.

After I was done coating the canvas, I came back with green and added some color to the tree.  This would be fun to have multiple shades of green on hand for.  I of course do not as I rarely paint anything.

Then, I finished it off with the word JOY in red puffy paint.  I would have polyflaked my tree boughs...but my glitter is missing.  It is really killing my soul.

Regardless of the pink showing through, I actually like this concept and it was delightfully easy. I have a few more projects in mind that I may use this for.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Chipotle Cranberry Turkey Wings

Ingredients (increase as needed, this was to fit my round baking dish):
-3 pieces from turkey wings once separated at joint and wing tips removed
-1 TB butter, soft
-1/2 C chipotle cranberry sauce, recipe found here
-2 TB brown sugar
-2-3 TB almond flour

Put the wing pieces in the baking dish (I always like to butter any glass dish I am baking in just in case).  Rub them each with a little butter, then give them a healthy dose of salt and a little pepper.

Spoon the chipotle cranberry sauce over them evenly and sprinkle with the brown sugar and almond flour.  The almond flour can be omitted, I just wanted to add it in for a little texture.  To be honest, it was not all that noticeable in the dish, so don't fret too much if you leave it out.

I like to add just a couple TB or so of water to the dish, cover with foil, and bake in an oven at 350F for 35-40 minutes.  I like to remove the foil for the last ten minutes of baking, adding more chipotle sauce if it looks like it needs it.

You need to understand that these should not be eaten if you need to look dainty, delicate, well mannered, or sexy.  You will be a MESS by the time you are done eating them and I must say it is quite an adventure.  Thoroughly enjoyable, and why not get a little messy now and then?  I personally found myself only able to eat one piece per meal having other sides to go with it.  These wing pieces are quite large.

And they were CHEAP.  So I was not afraid to do a little experimenting.  It was quite an adventure cutting them apart and I suggest looking up how to do it because I am not a good resource for that.  I almost became a vegetarian while cutting them up after I got some goo on me.  I have never cut anything like that apart before, I hardly ever even cut apart pork because my mom and I share packs of it and usually she cuts it before giving it to me.  I realize now I am completely spoiled by this. 

But this was a good experience.  Shenanigiving helped me get insight into parts of cooking I usually don't get: having multiple things done at the same time and cutting apart meats, and just how exhausting bigger than usual meals can be to make. 

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Shenanigiving, Part 2: Paleo Friendly Bacon Sweet Potato Casserole

Now I do not in any way shape or form claim to be a paleo expert, I don't eat paleo, but I do have friends that do and through them I come across recipes I like to adapt.  Through most of my online perusing, it seems maple syrup is paleo although I always see a notation of grade B.  Regardless, this recipe is delicious and I don't care if you are paleo eating or not, you should try it.

Per 2 servings you will need:
-1 large sweet potato, peeled boiled and mashed
-2 strips of bacon, cut in half and cooked until just under crispy
-1/4 C or less almond flour plus additional almond pieces or pecan pieces if you want to add those in
-1 TB real maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Layer a buttered, greased, oiled, or whatever you prefer to use glass baking dish with sweet potato.  I did not even mix my sweet potato with anything I left it as is. 

Sprinkle a layer of almond flour on top, along with any larger nut pieces you may desire.  I would suggest cutting the bacon up into pieces and not leaving it as chunks but I was being really lazy during Shenanigiving.  I was tired!  Put the bacon pieces on and drizzle the entire dish with maple syrup.

Bake, covered, for about 30 minutes. 

For anyone just tuning in, yesterday I did the first-ever Shenanigiving meal which I am posting in a 3 part series.  I wanted to take some very typical foods or concepts of Thanksgiving and give them a little shenanigan spin.  Another sweet potato recipe had been passed along to me by a friend, and some of the concepts for that made me think this was possible.

I took my first bite and it was basically heaven.  Why are bacon and sweet potatoes not always together? These are an absolutely perfect pair! Pin It Now!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Swaps: Flourless Stuffin' Muffins

Welcome to the first of three Shenanigiving Posts!

Ingredients (per 6 muffins):
-1/2 C pumpkin puree
-1.25 C almond meal
-1/2 C almonds
-2 jumbo eggs
-2 TB butter, melted
-1.5 tsp sage
-1 TB chia seed (optional but suggested)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 TB honey
-1 tsp minced onion flakes
-Dash of marjoram and thyme
-Optional 1/4 C or so of chicken/turkey/preferred stock

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Now, it may seem odd to say that the stock is optional, but hear me out.  A LOT of times when I make muffins like this or when I make corn muffins I make really stiff batters.  They actually do have a little wiggle room if you want to add in some extra liquids.  I would in no way classify these as dry without the stock, but the addition of it would give it a richer depth and would loosen up the batter a little. 

Anyway, pulse the almonds a few times in a food processor until they are mostly small bits with a few large remaining.  Now that I think about it, you could remove the almonds to a bowl and then mix everything together in the food processor and not dirty up your kitchenaid...really wish I had thought of that sooner.

Regardless of what you use, mix all the rest of the stuff up and grease a small cupcake pan. Since this is a really firm dough, you can put large scoops in that basically fill up the wells.  It does not rise too terribly much and it is not soupy so you don't have to worry about it running over.  Bake for 12-18 minutes or until starting to brown on top.

So these reminded me of a hybrid between hush puppies and dressing...WHICH is amazing because I absolutely love both.  It really made me want to try to deep fry this batter, but I don't have a deep fryer so I will just have to forever wonder on that one.

You can use a fork to loosen these up and remove them to a wire rack to cool. 

I LOVED the crunchy almond pieces hiding throughout these.  I think pecans or walnuts would be delicious options as well.  I think the most important thing, at least that I have come across so far, is that if you are going to make something flourless you really need to think about the texture.  Some things I have tried just end up a little mushy or a little too eggy textured.  If you just toss some crunchy bits in it really helps.

Happy crafting, and happy holidays! Pin It Now!