Sunday, March 31, 2013

Different Flavors of Homemade Cheese It-style Crackers

-8 ounces of cheese
-1/2 stick butter
-1 Cup of AP flour
-Salt and Seasonings to taste
-2 TB(+) of cold water

Now I understand that it does not seem like a very detailed recipe, but there are a few things to know about it.  First, different cheeses have different moisture contents, so some may naturally require more water. 

Put the softened butter, cheese, and seasonings into a mixer bowl and mix them.  Add in the flour and mix to form a pebbly dough.  Start adding in the water slowly, adding just enough so that the dough begins to stick together.  You want it to just be to the point that you can press it into a dough and it sticks together.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface and roll it out very thin.  Cut it with a pizza cutter or cookie cutter of your choice and bake on a greased sheet for 15-17 minutes at 375.  If you have a convection oven, you can convect them for 12 minutes (I was using a light metal pan instead of dark nonstick this time).  When you pull them out of the oven you will want to transfer them to wire racks or wax paper to cool, you will want to sprinkle a little salt on them. 

My absolute favorite, and unanimous favorite among my family members, uses 8 ounces of mozzarella, about 1 tsp of garlic cheese topper, 1 tsp of basil, 1/2 tsp of crushed roasemary.  All of my recipes have between 1/2 and 1 tsp of salt in them.

Other tries include:
-Fiesta cheese with 1-2 TB of taco seasoning (I would err on the high side unless you just have an extremely strong mix)
-Colby jack cheese with garlic cheese topper
-White cheddar with salt and pepper

They are so simple to make and are incredibly addicting.  I love the fact that they just have a few simple ingredients and don't have all of the freaky ingredients with twelve mile long chemical names.

PLUS, this is stuff we always have around the kitchen.  The next goal is to make them with pepperjack cheese. 

But after spending hours this morning cutting them out with the worlds tiniest cookie cutter (which was obnoxiously cute by the way) those pepperjack ones will just have to wait.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Poofing the Unruly Mane

I always say that my hair fixes great, when you play by its rules.  You sometimes have to find a few workarounds if you have hair that is a little on the soft side. My hair also does not always like to tease.  But as I said, there is always a workaround.

So, I did not do it for these shots but if you want a higher poof, you can tease it a little with a comb.  Tease under the section of hair. You can smooth it out after.

The next step for poofing the unruly mane involves twisting the section up to your scalp.  I hold it close to my scalp, press it against my head, and push it toward the front of my head.

This secures all the little unruly pieces in the twist and pushes them up as a group.

When I try to poof mine up without twisting it, it tends to separate right along my part...or fall flat in no time.
So then I hold it in place with one hand and put 3 bobby pins in to hold it and spray it with hairspray. 

I put the first two pins in an X and the third one down through the X.  I call it the Trinity of bobby pins.  Two just never works for me.

Now this clearly has a bit of a bump in it which I rarely have if I tease it first.  After I get it secured I usually use my comb again to smooth it out or lightly pull any strands that need to come up a little bit.

If you pull the rest of your hair into a bun you can take the pins back out as soon as you have your hair up, which for me avoids a lot of unneeded headaches.  And as a bonus, it makes my ponytails look a little less like I didn't want to try that morning! :)

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Decorating Idea: Easter Chick Cupcakes

So, I have to admit.  These are almost too cute to eat....almost.

My mom and I whipped these up for a bake sale that a local church is doing.  I was pretty obsessive this entire week about doing something with fun decorating, and so began these chicks. 

We used the large Wilton cupcake tip (I want to say it's a 1M), a leaf tip for orange beaks, and a writing tip to pipe eyes.

You could totally do these with googly eyes if you bought them, that would be fun as well.  I did the first one with dot eyes and the rest with "happy eyes" because they just seemed like they were having a more fun time that way. 

They are in orange cupcake liners with polka dots on them, which I highly suggest! The color matching really popped them at the end. 

The cupcakes themselves are a lemon cake.  I personally think these will go over great at the sale!

If I don't buy them myself that is!

Make sure you have a firm icing that will set so your beaks don't flop. 

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Flourless Banana Muffins

-4 very ripe bananas
-2 eggs
-2/3 C milk
-3 C oats
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 TB cinnamon
-3 oz Chobani Pineapple Greek Yogurt
-half a small can of crushed pineapple with juice
-1 TB baking powder
-Optional addition of chopped pecans,  1/2 cup
-1/2 tsp ginger
-Pinch of salt
-Dash of nutmeg

Mix all of the ingredients well and put them in cupcake liners in a muffin pan.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the top starts to brown. I ended up sprinkling mine with cinnamon sugar, but that is completely optional.

These were SUPPOSED to taste more like hummingbird cake, but the crushed pineapple I used just did not quite have the flavor that some name brands tend to have.  I noticed it in the last recipe I used as well.  How frustrating.  Cinnamon applesauce should also be considered if you don't have yogurt on hand.

These can easily be gluten free if you buy the right oats.  But no matter what, without having the sugar in them they are a better option for breakfast than a typical muffin.  I used super ripe nearly black bananas, if you use a less flavorful one you might consider adding a little honey in. 

These raise a little, I filled the wells with about 2.5 TB of batter.  Well, really probably 3 since they were heaping scoops...

Definitely bake these in cupcake liners.  Banana works GREAT in recipes, but it can be a little bit of a pain if you don't grease your pans good enough.  Parchment paper and cupcake liners save you a lot of potential hassle.  Once the muffins cool down they are fine, if you try to get one out of the wrapper while it is still hot it will tear a bit.  Not to mention, these taste so much better when they are cooled down, so just wait.

You could use Banana CHO, the pecans or walnuts, and easily have a banana bread muffin and just 86 the darn crushed pineapple that has let me down. 

Oh well.  I love banana muffins QUITE a bit, so these will be just fine by me.

Happy crafting!  I have some much needed sleep to catch up on.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fantastic Crockpot Tomato Dill Soup

-1 28oz can of diced tomatoes (I used Meijer Naturals)
-3 tomatoes, chopped into 1/8ths or so
-4.5 C chicken broth
-1 TB dill
-2 TB finely chopped onion
-Salt and Pepper to taste

I tossed it all in my crockpot and let it go on low for 8 hours. 

I had boiled some chicken earlier in the week with about 4 TB of butter (for around 5 or 6 chicken tenderloins) and used the leftover broth from that to make this soup.

When I got home from stats I mashed around with my potato masher (I don't have a blender or similar) and then served it with some finely shredded mozzarella and toast.  You could start with tomato juice instead of diced tomatoes if you prefer something a little less chunky.  I love a hearty chunky soup.

The TB of dill looks like a lot when you toss it in but do not be alarmed.  The onion measurement may sound odd, but I really just grab a few slices of the onion I have frozen in my freezer and break it in to little pieces.  I would imagine it comes out to a couple of tablespoons.  You can add more or less to your personal preference, I happen to be a big believer in a little onion goes a long way.  This soup is without a doubt the best soup that I have made in a really long time, if not ever.  I mean my chicken tortilla soup is pretty darn good...but this absolutely hit the spot today.  It is packed with flavor.

AND my crockpot did all the work.

AND I have ample leftovers for the next few days.  Tasty!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Roasted DELICIOUSNESS: Potatoes, ham, tomatoes, herbs, chicken broth

Some of you might be able to use some leftover Easter ham in this type of dish! Yea right, who ever has Easter ham leftover...

Roasting dishes is what got me through my senior year of college.  If you ever need an easy meal that is pretty much foolproof, the general equation is veggies cut thin + meat + seasoning + a little water and butter = HEAVEN.  Although you have to wait for an hour.

For this particular full glass dish (approx. 13x9ish dimensions) I cut up 5 small red potatoes into cubes, plopped my container of tomatoes in various colors down in it, put a few rings of an onion chopped fine, and 3 slices of hand torn up into bits.

I seasoned mine with basil (a lot), rosemary (a little), seasoning salt (a lot, it's potatoes after all), and pepper (some).  Then I poured in 3/4 C homemade chicken broth, a TB or less of butter in small pieces (as I knew I would get some flavor from the stock, you can use water too just add more butter). 

I roasted it covered with foil at 350 for about an hour.

I used to do this a lot with chicken, usually using closer to a cup of water, and would drain off the "stock" left in the pan after roasting and use it as a base in soup.  Since mine tend to have a medley of veggies and herbs, the juices left behind are perfect to get a small pot of soup going.  I would say that in my senior year, I probably roasted something close to once a week, and always used the broth leftover in some sort of soup concoction.  You can use the broth AND leftover meats and veggies in a soup as well.  Allow me to suggest tortellini in soup.  Yum, now I am hungry again.

It is a really great option for those days when you get back to your apartment, want to just lay on the floor and try to take in the incredibly hectic day you had.  You can throw all this in a pan with very little prep needed, and even take a nap for the next hour as long as you are a responsible human and set multiple alarms and timers so that you don't forget. You can absolutely make similar dishes in crockpots, but for those days that just don't go as you planned and there isn't a crock pot of yumminess waiting for you, it isn't a bad option. 

I usually take roasting times to catch up on dishes or other loose ends as I rarely budget the time to do dishes after breakfast in the mornings.

Foolproof, minimal dishes, minimal work...highly recommended for new cooks, college kids, and anyone who has had a stressful day and just wants some comfort food.

If it was a really bad, terrible day....up the butter.  HAH!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Taco Bowl

-1 8" taco shell
-1/2 C-1C shredded chicken
-1/4 C corn
-Lettuce, tomato, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, and desired toppings

We have probably by now all see the idea of baking a taco shell in the bottom of a muffin pan.  I opted to toss mine in a cake pan as well to make it a little easier for me to grab out of the oven.  I put the tortilla shell between the cups and rubbed it with a little canola oil so that it would crisp up in the oven.  I popped it in at 350 until it was golden brown.  I really could have left mine in a few minutes longer, as you can tell it is a very light golden, but I was really hungry...

Earlier I had boiled 4 strips of chicken tenderloins with enough water to cover them, salt, and about 4 TB of butter. 
After they had boiled for about 40 minutes, I was able to shred them.  I ended up with plenty of chicken for this and for the chipotle chicken salad that I will make later this week.  I popped the excess chicken in my freezer so that I did not have to worry about it staying fresh until Thursday.

I also was left with a large container full of chicken broth, which is slated for use in a couple of recipes this week. 

With the chicken I was going to use in this, I popped it in a skillet with a very small pat of butter, 1/4 C water, and a generous sprinkle of taco seasoning.  I also tossed in the frozen corn.  Really everything is already cooked you are just going for seasoning here, so I let it cook on low until the taco bowl was done.

Then I piled on the toppings and stuffed my face.  It was delicious.  The best part about this is the tomato medley pack was on sale for 99 cents as they were starting to get a little soft (perfect for roasting in my Tuesday dinner) and the guacamole was also clearanced out for being close to the expiration date but it will survive substantially longer in my freezer.  This all made my taco bowl delicious and highly affordable.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Skinny Carrot Raisin Salad (Pineapple Chobani Style!)

I sincerely adore Chick-fil-A's carrot raisin salad.  It is actually my favorite thing on the menu, and I am very sad that the location on campus here does not have it.  I understand that it is a miniature selection of their menu, but everyone should have CRS on demand!

What I do not love, however, is the 12 grams of fat.  At all.  So naturally, I set out to make my own version.  Now, without using mayo this of course does not have quite the same flavor as the original, but this did come out with a fantastically bright flavor that is oh so right up my alley.

I used 3 carrots, 1/4 C golden raisins, 3 oz pineapple Chobani Greek Yogurt (half a container), 1/2 can crushed pineapple, 1 TB honey, a couple drops of lemon extract (feel free to just use a little squirt of lemon juice), and a pinch of brown sugar. 

I finely shredded the carrots and added the remaining ingredients.  I personally did not drain the pineapple and so mine has juiced up a bit, but I am not worried about this one. You can feel free to add regular raisins or a mix of them, I just happen to prefer golden in general so I used what I had.  Also, you can add as many as you like.  I think raisins are especially delicious in this type of dish.

Again, it does not taste identical but I think it tastes delicious!  Instead of the 12 grams of fat, Chobani Pineapple has 2.5 grams for the whole container and we are only using half here.  Not to mention, the yogurt in here alone brings in almost 7 grams of protein itself.  Carrots pack a pretty decent punch when it comes to Vitamin C, and they aren't crunchy and rabbit-y when you shred them finely.

It should hold out fine in your fridge for a couple of days.  I would say this recipe makes a similar amount to what you would get in a large order, my container was pretty full by the time it was done.

If anyone had told me a few years ago that I would be buying 2 pound bags of carrots every couple of weeks at the grocery, I would have told them they had lost their mind.  But as it turns out, they are a lot more versatile than what I think they get credit for, especially when you finely shred them.  Between this and my carrot raisin bites recipe (found here I definitely can see me going through this bag and a whole lot of yogurt.

Happy crafting!

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blue Jeans Gift Bag

So many people talk about finding the perfect guy, and that's great and all...but what about finding the perfect pair of jeans? You know that pair of jeans that you put on and instantly feel like you could conquer the world, your sassy levels skyrocket, and you just feel awesome?

Yea well mine died.

I had my beloved "Rockstar" jeans as I called them for five years and I would almost bet my mom washed them at a bare minimum every other week, sometimes probably more.  I wore them all the time.  They fit me through my lowest weights of those years and they fit me in the higher weights (just maybe not as well..).  In some circumstances, they were my Traveling Pants.  Literally, they got a Bachelor's degree with me and made it through the first semester of my Master's degree.

But you can't turn back time and you can't patch a hole when the entire rest of the material around it is completely threadbare.  The hips were starting to thread through, the legs were, and it was just futile.  With my mind completely set against throwing them away, I sought out other things I could do with them.

They were too threadbare to do a skirt, sadly, but I did end up making bags out of them.  I think this one is particularly cute, so though I have posted this once for a different style bag I will do this one as well.

All I did was essentially cut the jeans from the top down on each side of the zipper and cut them across right below the back pockets.  This gave me two sections of jeans to work with, in which I simply only had to sew one side and the bottom.  The top kept its beautiful waistband, the other side kept its professional hem, and Jenna had to sew less.

Which if anyone knows my sewing skills or complete lack thereof, knows that is a good thing.  I have that fancy Singer now in the background, but sadly I have still managed to find ways to screw up most projects...I really should stick to baking and food.

Anyway, I had cut the thick seams out as close as I could on each side to use as straps on some of the bags.  For this little bag, however, I laced the seam through the belt loops and tied it to pull the top together.

You can easily put a gift card in the front pocket, fun stuff in the back pocket, something bigger in the main part of the bag, and come up with a really fun gift in an innovative and very eco-friendly bag. 

This bag is going in my craft studio, however, because it has the precious and most favorite patch I have ever had on a pair of jeans and so I want to reuse it for my very black and white crafty space.  And I always need more organizational things.

So if you just have a pair of jeans that you can't give away because no one else could wear them and they have seen their better days, think about bags! It is a fun way to remember them and pass the fun along to others.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lemon Cheesecake Pops

-2 8 oz Packs reduced fat cream cheese
-1 6oz container of Chobani Lemon Yogurt
-Zest of 1 Lemon
-1 tsp lemon extract
-2 eggs
-1/2 C sugar
-lollipop sticks
-vanilla candy coating

Mix up all of these ingredients really well in your mixer.  I baked mine at 375 in a glass dish for about 40 minutes, and my sides were really brown when I pulled it out.  I was pretty surprised because cheesecakes tend to take a bit longer than that, but I have also never made one in my oven.  So, with no crust on it and whatnot, maybe start checking it around or a little after 30 minutes, or start it out on 350 so that you don't have to worry about it browning.

You can also use this mix in a crust as a regular cheesecake, just note that you will want to use a water bath and typical cheesecake methods.  For pops, you don't need that color on them you just need them done and holding together, and sometimes slightly formable.

Is formable a word?  Is now.

Anyway pull the cooked cheesecake filling out of the oven and let it cool.  I put a fan on mine so that the heat would dissipate faster, and set it on a cooling rack. 

You can use a cookie scoop if you have one (I would suggest melon baller size instead of really large cookie scoop).  Of course, this is yet ANOTHER kitchen gadget that I do not own.  My birthday list is going to be entirely from a cookware department.  If you are like me and do not have one, I just cut most of my cheesecake into squares and formed the weird shaped edges into balls. 

You might consider just baking it in a square or rectangular size pan to begin with.  The only pan I had that was small enough (maybe an 8 or 9 inch) was a glass baking dish.  My rectangular ones would have made a very thin filling. 

Anyway, put the cubes or balls onto a cookie sheet and stick the lolipop sticks in them.  Freeze them for at least 45 minutes, and then working with a few at a time dip them in melted vanilla candy coating.  I found it easier to use a big spoon and pour the coating over them.  You may find that you need to add a couple tablespoons to your candy coating to get a nice thin coat on these, in which case just add it, give it a good mix, and reheat for another 5-10 seconds if necessary. 

As a general rule, you can pretty much always sub out 1 pack to half of the cream cheese in a cheesecake recipe for greek yogurt.  I have done a pumpkin cheesecake with honey Chobani that went over very well at a Thanksgiving feast, and have done lemon ones like these before.  By far Lemon Chobani packs the most flavor into a little cup, so I highly recommend it in lemon cheesecake ventures if you are looking to lighten one up a bit. 

All in all this made 24 pops.  With the reduced fat cream cheese and the no fat Chobani yogurt, one of these little buggers is not nearly as problematic to a diet.  And the bright lemon flavors just remind me how much I want to see spring...and not more snowflakes....

The NEXT cheesecake I make will be on a homemade graham crust.  We shall see how that turns out.

Happy crafting!

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

5 Minute Fix + Sleep = The Hair

So a lot of people liked the overnight hair with the braiding, and this method will get you similar results with even less work.

Which makes it my favorite.

Now.  Understand this.  If you need to look really cute when you sleep...this might not be the version for you :P.  You kind of will look like a goofball until you wake up. But for really thick long mane-type hair, it is a gem.

All I do is with slightly damp hair, I separate the top section of my hair and pull it on top of my head as high as I can get it and tolerate it and put it in a messy bun.  I do my messy buns by starting like a pony tail, not pulling it all the way through the first time to make a loop, not pulling the loop all the way through to the second time to make a looped loop, and then securing the bun in with the third pull.  Loose ponytail holders will likely give you a headache, you need the really good ones that aren't stretched out but aren't insanely tight.  Three is a magic number for me and hair.

With the remaining hair I just pull it in to a messy bun at the back of my head.  So yes, this makes a series of goofy buns and I look like a nerd who messed up a mohawk or something, but it doesn't matter because I go to sleep and when I wake up and take them down and spray the heck of it with quality hairspray, it looks like the picture above.  Sometimes it looks even better if I use Freeze It, which has the best hold.

Sadly, my can is nearly empty.

I pretty much do everything from sleeping in one bun with all my hair to two buns to braids, and it is just really a matter of how much of your hair you want to mess with and what you are going for.  Braids tend to make parts of it more crimpy instead of wavy, especially with two braids in. The single bun tends to give the bottoms a lot of volume but not the top because it is futher back on my head.  The two buns gets the whole top part really wavy along with putting body through the underlayer. 

Or you can put your hair in a high pony and sleep with sponge rollers in it.  The most time consuming but a surefire way to get your hair to have a massive amount of body by the time morning comes.

Now, as a little sidenote.  Obviously different hair is going to react different to this.  My hair, personally, will never fix right if I use conditioner.  It makes it all way too soft and slippery so to speak and it just won't hold anything.  I really only ever use conditioner if I have to get a LOT of hairspray out, like after I have had my hair in sponge rollers.  Freeze It and AquaNet always result in conditioner.

Other than that, I don't use it.  I have never dyed my hair and I eat relatively healthy foods so my hair rarely ever suffers the kind of damage that some will.  I don't own a curling iron or straightener, and probably only break out the blow dryer 3 times a month.  So A) that means I use hair fixing methods like this one a LOT and B) I don't have the heat damage. 

Don't bother trying this with soaking wet hair.  I always let mine air dry for a while before putting it up.  Damp is perfect, wet is not going to work.  If you try to do it when your hair is still wet you will wake up with still wet hair, or even a wet pillow, and your hair will hang in odd little drippy strands.  It's really not good.  A braid is the same way, it will hold water for a LONG time if you start with it too wet. 

People always look at my long hair and ask if it is a ton of work. The answer is no, it is never hard work to take five minutes to put my hair up and sleep all night like I would have done regardless.  Waking up to fixed hair is beyond simple.  I also don't get mine cut until it stops fixing right, which is about 2-3 times per year. When no methods will get me body and volume, it is time to see my hair doctor.  

The downside to this over braids is that if you don't feel like fixing your hair the next day you can wear a braid out.  The great thing about this over braids is that it only takes five minutes in the first place, and if you don't want to spray it the next day you can just take it down and let it uncrimp on its own throughout the day or throw it into a ponytail and leave.  Or you can take an extra five minutes and just spray it. 

A curling iron would take me well over an hour.  Not happening.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Yoga PowerPoint for Workouts

To everyone thinking "you know they make yoga videos right?" yes, I am aware.  However, I am also well aware of the fact that I have to severely modify yoga programs to even be able to work with them.  I also don't like goofy mellow music.

To give you an idea of my modification needs, I am somewhere between a robot and a steel beam when it comes to flexibility. God blessed me with a body that looks like it could possibly be a dancer or a soccer player, and I did play volleyball and tennis in high school.  However, when it comes to my hamstrings, they seem to be built for a 4'2" person and just trapped in a 5'7" body.  I have really never been flexible enough to sit with my legs straight in front of me and get anywhere near my toes.  Haha, sad but true.

Anyway I also can't do handstands or anything that involves arm strength to hold my whole body up. So far we have ruled out a LOT of yoga poses.  This is pretty much why I refuse to go take a yoga class, even the beginners would be lightyears ahead of me in ability!

So I made a little PowerPoint that I can use as I have yet to get a Kinect game for yoga.  All I did was find a good Pinterest pin that had a lot of moves I could do, copied it and pasted into PowerPoint.  You can really use this same guideline for anything, I just happen to be wanting a yoga mix.

I cropped the collage image down to the pose I wanted for the first slide, then I right clicked on the slide in the lefthand pane and hit "duplicate slide".  On the copy slide it made I clicked on the picture, went back into format and crop, and adjusted the image so it was at a new pose.  For a few starkly different poses I had to readjust the crop lines, but that was simple!  Duplicating the slide kept me from having to copy and paste over and over again.

When I was done with all of those, I duplicated slides where I would also need to do the reverse side pose.  I went into format again after clicking on the picture on the duplicate, and under rotate selected "flip horizontal" to make a mirror image of the pose.

Next, I cropped out the background in the picture format selection by choosing "remove background" at the far left in my version of PowerPoint.  PP has gotten really good at actually knowing what it is you want to crop out in most cases, so very little adjusting was needed on many of the pictures.  If you need to include or remove certain parts, you simply select the option you want in remove background and click the spot of interest.  Sometimes readjusting the boundaries it creates also is a fast way for it to correct itself. 

Finally, in the transition selection, I set a basic transition (cut or similar) and added a whoosh sound, so that if I could not see the screen I woud know to switch moves.  On the far right I selected transition after a set time, and set my time to 40 seconds.  This would be about 5 deep breaths, plus an extra 5 to 10 seconds to adjust or go to the next pose.

There are a few other poses I may eventually also add from various styles of yoga, especially as my abilities increase.  Back when I used my wii and balance board a lot I was somewhat better with flexibility, but it is not really something I think I will ever be astonishingly better at.

I don't see splits in my future basically.  Except banana splits perhaps...

All in all, it is really simple to use PowerPoint for a lot of different things if you get to know it.  For me, the best part about this is that I can do the yoga poses in the order that makes the most sense to me, which is the order that flows the best.  All floor all at once, for example.

A random craft for a random day.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sweet Potato Casserole Cookies

There has been a long standing tradition in my family that one of my aunts will bring sweet potato casserole.  They have flip flopped a few times on who brings it, but I never mind who makes it as long as it is there.  I love it.  It is my very favorite Thanksgiving dish.  My VERY favorite.

So imagine my suprise this year when NO ONE MAKES IT.  What the heck is going on these days?!?! My most beloved dish was MISSING from Thanksgiving.  The horror...

No matter, I have taken life into my own hands.  I was pondering today, in class mind you so pondering while staring at a PowerPoint, what I was going to do with some sweet potatoes I had bought.  I milled and I mulled, I wondered and pondered, and finally I decided that I would make sweet potato cookies with a maple glazed pecan topping.  And then I realized, hey, that sounds like sweet potato casserole...
-1 very large, thick sweet potato, finely shredded, mine was pretty close to the size of a 20oz soft drink bottle
-2 C oats
-1 egg (I used 4 TB of liquid egg whites because I did not want to mess up breakfast, but under normal circumstances I would use 1 jumbo egg)
-1/2 stick butter, room temperature
-1/2 C brown sugar, packed
-1/2 C AP flour
-1/4 C granulated sugar
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ginger
-2 shakes of nutmeg
-Dash of vanilla extract
-Pinch of salt

-1 C chopped pecans
-1/4 C Real Dark Amber Maple Syrup
-1 TB brown sugar
I know right? That is quite the list of ingredients.  What makes this different than other sweet potato cookie recipes is that you do not have to cook the sweet potato first.  YES! Exactly as I prefer it.  I make granola bars, muffins, and similar with carrots a lot, which are usually at least as obnoxious if not moreso than sweet potatoes when it comes to getting done.  I figured that since a finely shredded carrot worked in a granola bar, I had a great shot for these which would cook a little longer.

So I peeled the sweet potato and shredded it on the back, smaller grate side of my Kitchenaid box grater.  It is a champ when it comes to pretty much everything, and is one of my favorite kitchen tools.

In fact, Kitchenaid pretty much makes all my favorite kitchen tools...

Anyway, I shredded the sweet potato right into my mixing bowl, added all the remaining cookie ingredients and gave it a good mix.  If you are a little worried that your sweet potato wasn't big enough, add in 1.5 C of oats to begin with and go up after you see the texture of the batter with the rest of ingredients. You can add the rest in if it seems to moist.  It formed a moist batter that held its shape pretty well when I scraped the sides down, as you can see in the first picture.  I plopped spoonfuls of it down onto a parchment lined baking sheet and made little wells in them for the topping.  I would suggest making deeper wells, mine were very shallow.  It resulted in a lot of running over of maple syrup.  But I had planned for things to not go 100% perfectly since this was highly experimental, hence the parchment paper.

Mix the topping ingredients together and spoon about a half tablespoon or so into each cookie well. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the edges are firm and desired doneness is reached.  My pans are dark, so you might end up closer to the 30 minute mark with a light pan.  I baked mine exactly 25 minutes.  Let them sit on the pan for a couple minutes when they come out and then transfer to cooling racks. 

The edges of mine are firm and the centers ended up soft right under the pecan topping.  They are super yummy and really do remind me of sweet potato casserole.  This recipe made 18 for me...some of which were definitely a little bigger than others.  I maybe should invest in a cookie scoop.

My idea originally started as a healthy granola bar, but as you might imagine I am in no mood for healthy things right now.  If you think about it though, a sweet potato cookie is probably a lot better option than a chocolate chip one, so I will use that as my defense.

This was very much a wing it recipe for me, with a little reference to the recipe on the quaker oats lid for what even goes in an oatmeal cookie in the first place.  These are my favorite kind of bakesperiments, know the basic idea and general concept, and then just roll with it. 

And a little secret for whoever bakes these, if the maple syrup glaze does happen to run off, it makes the most fantastically delicious sugar shard that you can eat and not share if you so choose!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Funky, Chunky, and a little Steampunk-y Bracelet

SO I have this tendency to redo things multiple times.  My menu board, this particular steampunk pendant thing I had made, and similar.  This guy was on a necklace but I just did not really enjoy the way it laid, so I revamped it.

All you need to do for this entire thing is find some nuts, washers, gears, of various sizes and wire them together.  I used a large washer as a base and a metal ring that I got off of another necklace.  Then I added in some watch gears and had a pretty cool pendant.  At least, until I decided I didn't want it to be a necklace.

So instead, I bought a 16inch chain from Hobby Lobby with big metal rings. I folded it in half and measured what I needed to take off to have it fit my wrist doubled over. 

I used pliers to open and remove the links I needed off the end, secured that end to the ring before the closure, and attached the pendant on with jump rings.  It was very simple because you can just hook the closure to any of the rings on the other side without needing to create anything else. 

I also hooked the two sides together so that it would all stay in place.  All in all, the bracelet took hardly no time at all to make.  And it is fun because it is like wearing a watch skeleton :).

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lemonberry "Ice Cream": Lemon Chobani meets Shenanigans

If ice cream, froyo, and slushies all got together and had a food baby, this would be its story.

-1 C heavy cream
-1 container Lemon Chobani Yogurt
-1 C milk (I used Vitamin D milk)
-16.9 oz 7UP
-zest of half a lemon
-1 TB lemon extract
-Small container of blackberries, mashed and strained to get the seeds out with a couple tablespoons of sugar mixed in
-optional 1/2 C sugar (I did not bother with that because I like tangy stuff, if you want a super sweet treat, toss some in)

I mixed all the ingredients except the blackberries in my ice cream maker bowl and gave them a good few minutes of whipping. When I had a fantastic light and fluffy mix, I tossed it in my ice cream maker, simple as that.  Follow your ice cream makers directions and get going!
It's not that I couldn't have mixed the blackberries in so if you want to go ahead and do it.  But if you want the blackberry to be swirled in like it is in some of these pictures, hold them out.  You could turn it into a blackberry simple syrup if you wanted to.

I like ice cream, but I do not like all the fat and heavyness that some ice cream has.  I also would argue that Lemon Chobani is one of the best flavors I have tried of any greek yogurt, and is especially good if you like to cook with greek because it packs a ton of flavor in a mere 6 oz.

If you are a lover of froyo textures, this ice cream would work well for you.  It has a light and bright taste and texture.  It may not be as healthy as some varieties of froyo, but it is packing a lot lighter punch than the Ben and Jerry's I would pick up if I was on the ice cream isle...(Americone Dream, rock it!)
Plus, I don't know about you, but I am ready for some spring time flavor.  I like berries and salads and fresh things, and that is definitely a taste profile that this little mix up follows.  I don't like when things taste heavy and loaded with preservatives, either.  From what I can tell from some very rough calculating, the unfrozen base of all this has about 2.6 grams of fat per ounce. I considered cutting the milk out for another lemonCHO, but opted to keep it in for a reason.

I really adore greek yogurt in the fact that it is a champ when it comes to multitasking and upping the protein content without adding fat in most cases.  It also doesn't have a crap ton of sugar in it like some other yogurt does. My system only runs well on protein and similar, and so whenever I can eat something that has a bit in it I like to take the opportunity.

Also, I think that in terms of dieting, few people can ever really succeed when they have to give up things they love.  If you love ice cream, chances are no matter what diet you are on, you are going to give in eventually if you completely cut things out.  I know for myself I could absolutely never give up sweets if I was on a hardcore diet.  I would cheat all the time!

But what I can do is develop a good base of recipes that satisfy what I am looking for while sneaking in a little extra healthy here and there.  I am not currently dieting, but I do value staying at the weight that I am.  It is important to me still to be able to eat things I love without feeling guilty about it.  This ice cream could easily stem into a pink lemonade ice cream with strawberries instead of blackberries.  So yes, the higher fat milk could have been switched out, but I think this little guy strikes a good balance as a healthier version without straying too far from the thought of ice cream. 

That being said, I am a huge froyo fan and probably would have adored having the second yogurt in there in place of the milk or with through a reduction in the amount of heavy cream, so adjust this recipe as you see fit based on what kind of textures you like.  No matter what you do, if your freezer is like mine you will have to let it sit out for a bit before serving regardless of the fat content.  Mine is always frozen solid. That second little container of lemon yumminess is slated for a different and equally fantastic use later this week ;).

Now.  If only I had remembered to bring back that ice cream scoop with me from the last time I came home....sigh.  Baby steps I suppose.

Happy crafting!

**Update, if you were to freeze this into cubes it would make the most fantastic smoothie base known to mankind.  At least in my biased perspective.  It has a perfect slushy consistency when it thaws! Pin It Now!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shamrock-arons: French Macarons and Life

I synthesized information from two sites to go a little rogue on these:

Ingredients (via Martha Stewart):
-1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
-1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
-6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)  I used liquid egg whites, reasoning to follow.
-Pinch of salt
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
I ground my almonds by hand.  I am not kidding.  I don't have a food processor (I am asking for one for my birthday for sure).  I used my meat tenderizer to crush the pieces.  It took hours, but when I get obsessively set on making something, it has to happen. More on that later, just know that this recipe is possible if you don't have fancy appliances or yuppie stores near you (oh to be near Whole Foods!).
 Anyway I measured out 6 TB liquid egg whites.  A lot of times when I have seen macaron and meringue recipes they have called for aged egg whites, although Martha's seem to work with fresh.  However, I almost literally HATE to touch egg whites they are on the very small list of foods that just really gross me out.  Liquid egg whites were on sale at Meijer, so as far as I was concerned it was a sign.

Yes.  I would rather grind up almonds manually than touch egg whites.  At least almonds would build muscle...

So I let my egg whites sit in the bowl while I ground up the nuts.  This got them room temperature, which I think was a good idea.  I stuck a knife tip down in the Kelly Green Wilton food coloring I bought and wiped it on the whisk blade so that it would dye my egg whites, making them egg greens.

Whip the egg whites with the salt until they are foamy, on a medium speed.  They will be super dark green if you are using this exact recipe and color.  It is pretty cool looking.  This took me just a couple of minutes or so, and then I cranked up my mixer to high and started streaming in the sugar.  Some people add it a TB at a time, but I just let it pour slowly and steadily out of my measuring cup, and the meringue whipped right up in just a few minutes.  In all honesty, I was a little surprised how nice and friendly this meringue was being.  You want it to get to the usual "stiff glossy peaks" stage.  By this point, it was literally the exact color of green I wanted.
Whisk the almond dust and confectioner's sugar together and fold into the meringue.

I lined two baking sheets with parchment paper and put my green fluff in a piping bag.  Everything says to fit it with a tip and to me that's just not necessary.  I just cut the tip off the bag.  If you do shamrocks, or any shape really, you just need to make sure that they are really really close.  I piped out 4 circle blobs for each one, and the more compact shamrocks did a lot better than the spaced out ones.  You might want to poke the little tips down too.  I really did not think of that at the time.

I find it easiest when I am freehanding things to do the first row (somewhat willy nilly) and then make the row below look as close in size and shape.  If there is an odd number of rows like this, I just do my best to make matching pairs in the last row. 

Tap the baking sheets on the counter a few times, as per Yum Sugar's directions.  I did this with my second pan and not my first and more of my second had feet, so I suggest it.  Let them sit out for about 15-30 minutes until they form a bit of a thin crust on top and start to not be so shiny. 
 To get the most out of these with your oven, check out this post it really helped me understand what my gas oven would do in this situation.  This is the second time I have ever attempted macarons (my first failing for lack of whipping it long enough, long story) and the only time I have ever tried it in gas.

I put both my sheets in, jelly roll pan on bottom cookie sheet on top.  I would have rather had the jelly roll pan on top since it has sides and I figured it would cook them ever so slightly faster (and it did) but the ones on my cookie sheet were far prettier and I was more concerned with their success.

Bake at 280 for 15 minutes.  This is where I abandoned Martha's recipe.  It suggested 350 for the same amount of time and I just wasn't comfortable with a meringue cookie that high.  My mom has made meringue cookies a lot and so I have not only see how finicky they are, but I know they tend to be baked lower than most things.  So I went with the Yum Sugar temperature. Open the door for just a moment after the first two minutes of baking to let humidity out.

 I took them out and cooled them on baking sheets, and I kind of think that leaving them in the oven with the door open a bit and cutting the heat might have worked better.  I noticed a lot of mine cracked.  I don't have my therm up as high as some people might, so that is something I might consider in future batches.

I made a simple vanilla buttercream to go between them and iced them when they were fully cool.  DO NOT make a stiff buttercream for this (I swear its all I can make here) because it will make it really hard to assemble them without crushing them.
 Words cannot describe how proud I was to see some of these little buggers had those classic feet that macarons are supposed to have. 

I have to give a shameless plug here.  Please, whatever you do, go to Meijer and get this legit jelly roll pan I used.  First of all, the Martha Stewart recipe warned of them sticking to the parchment paper.  The ones coming off my dark non stick cookie sheet took a miniscule amount of coaxing, but the ones on my jelly roll pan popped right off the parchment paper at the faintest touch. 

Plus, it has a nifty lid and handle and all of these little buggers fit around the outer edges.  I put some in my freezer, which by all accounts should last for one month, and some are in my fridge, which should last for perhaps a week or so.
They are really delicious, I will definitely agree with that.  I love the texture of them, but I have also always been highly biased toward meringue cookies. 

Now for the rambling story of how these occurred.  I was really frustrated yesterday, and I have always said I have very productive anger in that I either bake or I clean.  Technically I do both because I bake something and trash my kitchen and then have to clean.  But I was a little regretful that I did not go home as none of my friends were available for visiting and I had just had Spring Break last week and tons of fun in the homeland.  A few other things piled on, including a recipe that had a lot of potential but just failed for dinner, and by that point I was a frustrated soul.

So I did my usual, had a little "woe is me" type session of moping around, and then decided that it was completely unproductive.  I love the color green, far more than any other color, and I made up my mind I was going to march right to the store and get some ingredients to make something.  Anything.  Preferably anything unhealthy (though I did get the ingredients for some more granola bar varieties I have in mind!). 

I had said for weeks I was going to wait until the next time I was home to try macarons because there is this great thing called a dishwasher there and I knew how bad my last disaster was in terms of cleanup.  However, as I stood on the baking row looking at various forms of almonds...I decided time waits for no one and I was going to make this happen.

The easiest way to get me out of a funk is by accomplishing something.  And there was just no way I was going to let yesterday end on a bad recipe note.

So I got back around 830 or so and began pounding and flattening and crushing and grinding the almond pieces with the spikey side of my meat tenderizer.  Not only was it incredibly time consuming, but it was interesting to think that somewhere back along the lines that would have been similar to a way that people of ye old days would have had to work with grains and similar.

I am a big fan of trying things the hard way once so that you really know what ALL goes into your food, including time.  Seriously, go make your own jelly.  It is good stuff to know.

So, fast forward to when I have these in the oven, I open the door a microscopic crack when it has about five minutes left to go, and shut it real quick because I did not want a lot of heat to escape.  In that quick glance, I noticed the most perfect one with its cute little feet.  Suddenly, I was back in business.  Woe is me no more, that was for sure.

And when they came out I rejoiced.  They looked GREAT! Sure some of them cracked and some where a little goofy looking but the point is they were amazing in their own right.  I thrive in accomplishing things, and to have a recipe like this come out well without anyone to help was a major boost for me. 

You can sit around and mope, or you can go out and tackle the world.  That is how I see it.  But I leave you with this thought.  If you are going to tackle the world at midnight or later, be prepared for everyone you know to be asleep and you not have anyone to mass text message of your accomplishments...

Happy crafting!  (and Happy St. Patrick's day!) Pin It Now!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Baked Jalapeno Popper-changas

Ingredients (enough to fill 3-4 shells):
-1/2 pack of reduced fat cream cheese
-1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
-1/2 can crushed pineapple (small can)
-1/4 block mozzarella
-1/4 C sour cream
-Pinch of salt
-8 inch taco shells

I would not call these spicy.  I would call them delicious, however.  If you want them to be super spicy, consider upping the amount of jalapeno you use.  These were very tasty and had some heat.  Mostly though, they were just delicious.  I love jalapeno poppers, I love chimichangas, and such the popperchanga was born.

I soaked my pepper pieces in warm salted water for ten minutes or so while I got everything else ready (after getting the seeds and such out of the inside and chopping them to bits), goal being to pull out some of the intense oil in them.

Normally, I hate crunchy veggies in things.  For some reason I was ok with them being crunchy in this.  However, if you want to not have small crunchy jalapeno bits, simply sautee them beforehand, I vote for doing so in a little bit of butter.  Personal preference.

Mix up all your ingredients into a bowl until well combined.  Put some filling in the taco shells.  Fold the top and bottom down and then roll it over from the side with the filling to make a nice little chimichanga. 

Place on a baking sheet and brush a little cooking oil over the tops of them.  Bake at 375 for at least 15 minutes, or until desired golden brown-ness is achieved.  I pulled mine out when they were just crispy because I had not really allowed much time before I had to go to class.  They were still pretty good and crisp.  I sometimes like to use the explosion alert system: when the filling starts to burst out, they are done. 

You might want to let them stand a few minutes before digging in.  They will be piping hot coming out of the oven.

For added yumminess, cut up some pieces of ham and toss it in.  THAT would be incredibly yummy as well. Sadly, none was in my fridge. 

I made two, of course, and then could only eat one of them.  I stored the other in the fridge, warmed it up today, and it actually warmed up a little better than I thought it would in the microwave.  Not as delicious as the previous day's because it was not as crispy, but certainly a valid two minute lunch. 

The rest of my concoction will be going in my remaining wonton wrappers this weekend and I might just break out some oil and do some frying. 

Other considerations for this filling includes using it as a spread or garnish on a sandwhich or wrap. Or just plopping it on some crackers.

Happy crafting!

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Asian Glaze Beet Chips

It's perhaps a little difficult to explain just how this came about.  I have been looking for some time at all the various fruits and veggies that people have turned into chips.  I like the crunch that a baked chip has over a deep fried variety, because I think they have less of a "greasy dust" texture.  It's the same reason why I like kettle chips.  They are just much crunchier.  I am not a big fan of the instant disintegration of typical mass produced chips.

Plus, I am always looking for ways to sneak in new veggies, and give me a break these chips are BEAUTIFUL.

Anyway the Asian Glaze idea is still a bit of a mystery as to how we ended up with it on these chips.  I use a pretty consistent glaze in my stir fry and similar dishes, because soy sauce apparently wasn't something I could leave alone either...

Asian Glaze Ingredients:
-2 TB Soy Sauce
-Pinch brown sugar
-Quick squirt of honey
-1 packet of True Lime (or a little lime zest, whichever you have on hand)
-1/4 tsp Ginger

Mix up all the glaze ingredients (it will make well over what you need for these bits, we will come back to that in a second) I whipped mine all together with a fork because I am high tech like that.  Using a mandoline and kevlar gloves, so no fingers are lost in the making of these beet chips) thinly slice about 4 beets (ends cut off first of course, I did not peel mine). 

The four I bought were in a bundle so they were smaller than the ones you can buy open stock.  As long as you don't care how many cookie sheets you use, you can clearly slice up as many beets as you wish.

To avoid getting my countertop purple, I put saran wrap down over my cutting area.  I really did not want to stain anything, cutting board included, especially without knowing whether I would like this recipe.  A stained board and a yucky chip would have been a horrible combination.  I also did not want to turn my hands purple, so I made a saran wrap glove to pick the slices up.

I know, wasteful.  But from all the times I have been dyed by cake coloring, I was NOT interested in turning purple.

Anyway, lay the beet slices on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet, unless you just enjoy washing purple beet juice off things.  Spoon a drop or two of glaze on them and then use the back of the spoon to rub it over the entire top surface.  I only put the glaze on one side because the soy sauce does have a high salt content and a little bit of glaze goes a long way.  Bake them at 350 for about an hour, flipping the chips every 20 minutes or so.  You may have to pull some of the smaller rings off before time is up.  Depending on your slice thickness, your time may be different, so really pay attention after the first 20 minutes.  I put my chips out on a wire rack after to cool.

I used the thin slice setting on my mandoline, but had I used super thin they might not have taken as long.  I would definitely not go any thicker. 

Happy crafting!
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Freaky Fresh Chunky Chili

That's right! Time to unveil it. 

-2 Tomatoes, diced
-1/2 pound ground beef
-Big o' handful of noodles (I have mine in baggies, handfuls are easier)
-2 TB Durkees Texas Red Chili Spice (I used 2.5, but this was a little hot for me, you can choose)
-1 C water
-Optional 1/4  c corn (I pretty much add it in everything closely resembling soup)

This makes about 3 bowls of chili, perfect for the solo student that I am!  Anyway, put the beef in your chili pot and get it to browning.  Cut up the tomatoes and add them in after breaking apart the beef if you haven't already.  I tossed in a most minute amount of onion to cook in with this (probably not but several tablespoons of onion pieces I had frozen).

I added a little salt and pepper.  I am thinking I should have just stuck with salt.

Anyway let all that cook for a few minutes and add the seasoning.  Give it a good stir, let it go a minute or two, and add the water.  Let it come to a boil then add the noodles, reduce the heat a bit, and cover it.  Let it sit there and think about what it has done for 15-20 minutes.

Haha, the chili is GROUNDED.

OK so let's say you are like me and you get it too spicy, or you like really spicy chili but your kids don't.  What is the solution?  Ketchup.  I added a squirt to my bowl of it earlier today and the concentrated tomato flavor and sugars really helped tone down the heat level.  I like heat, don't get me wrong, but I had slightly overdone it with pepper and seasoning...

Just a tad.

Anyway kids love ketchup so it is absolutely a viable option to add to their bowls especially if you are having trouble with anyone a little more susceptible to the heat. In fact, I would really argue for adding in a little ketchup regardless and then just increasing the heat after if you need.  A little squirt can go a long way.

Chili is only chili, in my opinion, if there is cheese in it and a PB samich on the side.  Homemade crackers (yesterday's blog) were a seriously amazing added bonus.  I highly recommend that recipe.

So, if you are wondering why I didn't have anything in this like tomato juice, it is really simple.  I was going to buy some, but I noticed how much sodium is in them...and I was over it really quickly! The way I saw it, I was buying fresh tomatoes anyway and I would just make it work. Pretty much all of these ingredients are ones I am guaranteed to have in my fridge, so for me this just makes more sense.

No juice needs to invade this apartment....

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Crazy Good Crackers (from scratch!)

So it's times like these I wish I had a ranking system for some of my blogs.  If I had developed a star rating system for all of these posts, I would easily give these all five.  As far as I am concerned, they put the crack back in crackers. 

-1/2 Stick butter (salted, for the record that's the only thing I ever use)
-1 C AP flour
-1 ounce of reduced fat cream cheese
-1 tsp salt
-Cold water (I get it in a 1/4 cup measuring cup and add slowly, I used maybe half of the measuring cup or a little less)

Throw the butter, flour, cream cheese, and salt in a mixer bowl.  Beat until it is all combined, I mostly did this on a medium speed.  It will be a pebbly-looking dough.  Add in some water, a little at a time (think tablespoons) until the dough comes together and starts to hold.  You might have to press it into a ball depending on the paddle you are using, which is perfectly fine. 

Pat it into a disk and turn it out on a floured surface.  Roll it out pretty thin (1/8 inch or so) and cut into squares with a pizza cutter.  You can use a fancy fluted cutter or cookie cutter if you want perfect ones or different shapes.  My little cutter I like to use with the fluted edges is apparently avoiding me, so I opted for a pizza cutter instead.

Lay them out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 17 minutes at 375 (time for me is based on a gas oven and a dark sheet).  I poked holes in mine with a fork before baking.  Basically, bake them until they start turning golden.  Pull the pan out and sprinkle a little salt on top (or not if you are anti-salt, I happen to love it).  I just left mine on the pan to cool, I was really hungry by the time they finished baking.

I made them to go with some chili I was whipping up, and they really hit the spot.  Look for my chili recipe tomorrow!  I would have blogged on it tonight, but chili is a lot better the second day and I can't tell if the heat level is right on just yet.

To give you an idea of what these crackers taste like, imagine a super buttery biscuit flavor, but a cracker texture.  I am a BIG fan of saltine crackers, and I like these just as well.  They might have worked with a little more butter instead of the cream cheese, but I like the flavor so much I would not change it.

Getting to try a cracker fresh out of the oven while it is still warm is an experience I HIGHLY recommend.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Delicious Pumpkin Granola Bars

-Half a smaller can of pumpkin
-1 C oats
-1/4 C REAL Maple Syrup
-1 Egg
-Handful of pecans, broken into pieces
-Handful of craisins
-1 TB cinnamon*
-5 Shakes ginger
-2 shakes nutmeg

Mix up all of these ingredients, I would suggest doing the egg last and tasting the batter beforehand to make sure it is spiced to your liking.  I recommend the top ones as a starting point.  Also, cloves could be a delicious spice to add in as well, but do so sparingly.  I happen to not have any cloves. 

Anyway, preheat your oven to 350 and turn the batter out onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper over it once you have everything mixed well and spiced to perfection.  Bake at least 22 minutes, or longer for desired texture, let cool for a few minutes and slice.  These came out a lot like my banana ones, which are soft as opposed to crunchy style granolas. 

I really wanted to drizzle white chocolate over them, but I refrained. 

There is a good chance that if I had happened to have any honey flavored greek yogurt on hand, I would most certainly have used that over the egg. I like to add in extra protein in the form of greek yogurt and it also works to hold things together like the egg did.  I also really don't like having an uneven number of eggs, strangely enough.

I am very much a person that completely bottoms out if I don't have protein throughout the day.  I cannot run on sugar, and I am not very pleasant sometimes when I am rather hungry.  So any tasty snack that also is healthy can really help me out.  Granola bars are super simple to make, in my opinion, and can be done with a lot of things you already have on hand. Even if you mess around with a recipe and they won't quite hold together because it is a little too dry, just consider it granola pieces instead of bars! ;)

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pulled Pork Chimichangas

-8 inch taco shells
-Leftover Pulled Pork
-BBQ Sauce of Choice
-Frozen corn
-Cheese Combo: Pepperjack, Mozz, Colby Jack
-Garnishes such as sour cream, tomato, lettuce
-Cooking oil

You can pretty much fill the taco shell with anything you want.  My favorite one had pulled pork, corn, BBQ sauce, all 3 cheeses, and tomato.

You want about 1-2 inches of oil in a skillet. Heated to about medium high (7.5 on our electric stove).  Mom heated it until dropping a drip of water in it sizzled. Fold the top and bottom down on the tortilla and roll it over to make a chimichanga look.  You will probably need to stick a toothpick through it.

Fry unil it reaches desired golden brownness, flipping it occassionally. Garnish as desired.

Words CANNOT describe how fantastically yummy these were.  I would highly suggest starting out with one per person, they are extremely filling, especially with a side.

For the rice, we just mixed a little salsa and corn in with minute rice for a quick side.

Really you can use this same theory on any leftover meat you have or anything you want to throw in them. 

Happy crafting!

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Coolest Toaster Ever

 If you are on the go, or just love egg mcmuffins, I really think you should consider this Westbend toaster.

It makes eggs AND toast, at the same time.  How cool is that?

When my sister first got it, I made fun of it.  But I tried a samich from it, and it is pretty darn tasty.  You just plop your eggs in the pseudo skillet, add in the amount of water the cup says, and put the lid on for it to steam away.

My sister said it does hardboiling, poaching, over easy, etc.  It really is pretty cool!

It has settings for all kinds of fun combinations, and I see no reason why you co

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Knitted Headband with a Bow (using hat loom)

You need 2 colors of yarn and a hat loom kit.  I used the large hoop and the second to the smallest loop, but the smallest one would also be perfectly acceptable.

You will tie the yarn colors to the side peg to keep them in place on the large loom and loop them both around the pegs in two rows to start out with.  Next, use the hook to take the bottom loop over the top, going all the way around.  When you later do this on the small one to make the bow, you might have to go back around the bottom loops and pull them all again to get everything.  It pretty much doubles the work, but it helps keep things nice and tight.

You will then scoot the loops down on the pegs, add another layer, bottom up and over the top again, pull the bottoms once you get all the way around and retighten, and repeat repeat repeat.

You will make it twice as long as you want the headband to be, because you will fold it and loop it back up.  Attach the very bottom of the headband back onto the pegs and pull the loops over when you have it to the length you want. 

I do something a little bit different than some, I don't cut my cord for the headband.  Instead, I leave a lot of extra string on there and use it to lace through the remaining row of loops and pop them off the pegs.

I end where my starter string still is and then tie them together.  Keep in mind that you don't want to pull this cord real tight unless you need it tight.  You don't want it to cut in your head.  The good thing is, a little bit of tightness really helps to keep it in place.

You will pretty much do all this same process for the little bow. On this one, once I got all the loops up and over, I had to go through pulling the bottom row all the way around to get it all back tight.  It was a little frustrating.

But the end product is SUPER CUTE, so I will tolerate it.

 I really think I just wanted the picture of the mini loop and the grey bow because it made my rippy jeans look like cool kid jeans.  ;)

Anyway, I opted to make the bow solid grey because the band is so loud.  I pulled the middle of the bow down and wrapped grey yarn around it a lot to make a big center in it.  I kept a lot of length on the end, and used the remaining yard to essentially sew it to the headband with the little needle thing in my kit.

My mom is still currently detangling my grey yarn nightmare that I created in all of this... thanks mom!

I tied the string around the back through a headband loop to secure it.  If you don't want the bow to move, you will want to go through the sides of it to keep them in place.  Don't worry too much about placement so much as angle, you can always readjust where it is on your head.

I spent a solid ten minutes thinking about where on the headband I wanted it only to realize that it did not matter as I could just turn it on my head.  I will save you the trouble.  Haha.

Forgive me for not going to great lengths to look all fancy for headband pictures.  Spring Break includes a whole lot of not caring on my part when it comes to things

Pink is in no way shape or form one of my favorite colors, but I do really like neons.  AND I think the grey works well to tone down the pinksanity.

What the grey does not do is untangle easily...seriously how does this even happen?

Yarn apparently hates me.

I bought super soft yarn from Joann's and Michaels, only to discover Hobby Lobby had it cheaper last week...

Oh well.  I tried.

Anyway, to recap you can certainly use the smaller loop for the bow to make a cute and compact jaunty bow.  The instructions in my kit have ones for flowers, but you know how I am about anything that resembles a recipe.  It pretty much just isn't going to happen.  But I DO think the flower theory with one on the bigger small loop and another color from the smallest loop tied together would make a cute flower.

I love earwarmers, and I am a little sad that I did not learn this earlier in the season! However, I will be well prepared for next winter.  Warm ears, all day every day.

Happy crafting!

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