Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Asiago Garlic Herb Biscuits

I consider these to be like the Red Lobster biscuits, but on CRACK!

-6 TB butter, about half melted (I took my straight from the fridge, microwaved it for 30 seconds.  Ended up half melted half not, and I think that was the key to LIFE).
-2 C AP flour
-1.5 C finely shredded Asiago cheese
-1.25 C Milk
-1/2 TB basil
-1/4 TB Rosemary
-1/3 TB garlic (you can tell I like to eyeball things)
-Dash o' salt
-1 TB baking powder

Mix all this up in a bowl.  For me, I was a little surprised that it took as little milk as it did.  I was expecting equal parts flour to milk, but I think the meltiness of the butter helped me out here.  More on that to follow.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet (not sure if it is necessary so much as just a habit for me) and bake for 18 minutes at 400F.

Anyway, back when I made my birthday cake cookie sandwiches (which were fantastically delicious and I wish I had some right now) it started out like my regular homemade graham crackers do but I had accidentally melted the butter.  What it resulted in was a fluffy and delightful concoction not at all like my usual grahams.  It created a really moist batter and I never could get it back to what it was supposed to be, but the end result was amazing.

Quite the happy accident.

SO I think that is why these resulted in less milk.  Let me tell you, much to my surprise they had an IDENTICAL texture to the ones at Red Lobster.  Moist, soft, fluffy.  HAPPY.  They definitely tasted more happy.

And getting to eat one directly out of the oven definitely made ME more happy as well.

Ok fine I ate two.

I also put just a dab of butter on top of each one right when they came out so it could melt into it...you can't blame me there.

This made about a dozen or so.

Believe it or not I still have asiago cheese left.  I have used the triangle that I got from Meijer (it was the cheese of the month) for a couple of things now, and I still have about a fourth of it.  You definitely don't have to overdo it with asiago, it definitely has ample flavor.

Anyway I think these biscuits are a fun and fancy spin on those fantastic Red Lobster ones. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Flour Tortillas

-1.5 C AP Flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-dash of salt
-1/2 to 3/4 C warm water
-2.5 TB butter, softened

Mix all the ingredients in your kitchenaid with the dough hook until it starts to form a ball.  Add the water slowly, if you end up adding a little too much just add a little bit of flour back in.  It should start to make a ball but still be a little tacky.

Pull off hunks and make balls about 2 inches or a little less in diameter.  I put mine on my silpat, if you don't have one dust a surface with flour and set them on it.

Let them rest under a kitchen towel for ten minutes.

While they are taking a sit, heat a skillet to a medium high heat or a little over.  When the dough is ready, work one by one and roll them out to about 8 or so inches on a floured surface (basically getting them really close to see through) toss it in the skillet, and cook about 20 seconds on each side until it starts to brown.  Move on to the next dough ball and repeat.

I sprayed my skillet with pam a couple times, which is completely not needed because they don't stick, but I wanted to see if it would make them crispy or darker or anything.  It did make some a little more golden, but not enough to really necessitate it.  I like to put paper towel or foil between mine just because I am sometimes a little paranoid they will stick together. Use foil if you want to keep them warm in the oven.

I like to store mine in a Ziploc bag in my fridge.  They should last a week or so in the fridge, a few days out on the counter in a bag, and a good long while in the freezer.  Rewarm them between paper towels, just like you would a tortilla from the store.

I haven't tried them yet with other flour yet, but you better believe that is soon to follow.

The last time I made these I was at my undergrad apartment in Haute, and I had to use a water bottle to roll them out.  Needless to say, now that I have progressed in both degrees and kitchen utensils, this attempt was much simpler.

Now, you may ask, why make your own tortillas.  I personally have multiple reasons I like to make them now and then, but the main reason is just the fresh texture.  They tend to be a little softer and less gummy than store bought.  Don't get me wrong, I buy the store bought ones quite a bit.  But if it comes down to me driving across town or spending a little time making my own with ingredients I consistently have on hand, it doesn't take a lot for making them myself to win out.

Sometimes, you just like to avoid the grocery.

This recipe made 8 for me, and my sizing was completely inconsistent.  So I feel pretty safe saying 8 would be about normal.  I ended up with closer to 3/4 C water and having to add back in some flour.  They are forgiving.  And pretty darn inexpensive.

Just don't do like I did and forget the salt.   GRR!  I even sat it right next to my bowl.  They still taste alright, it was just knowing that I had left it out that was frustrating.

I prefer to make tortillas with butter, you can use EVOO or lard even.  I just happen to be butter biased.

If you leave them in the skillet too long they will get crispy, which I happen to not see as an issue.  Just be aware. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nurse Cake

This was a cake we did for a graduation party. 

The cake is two cakes together in the shape of a T.  The top was iced and then I took a spatula to draw out the shoulders on top.  Although it looks in this picture like the cake is cut, the corners of the top are actually iced in white icing. 

We used fondant to make each end of the stethoscope. Wilton and Duff both make silver color spray to make it look metallic. 

Using a basketweave tip we drew out the top V and the pockets, as well as lined the end of the sleeves. 

The emblem is an edible image.

You could use this same theory for jerseys and similar.

As always, it is topped with sparkly sugar.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crock Pot Ribs

We really like tender, fall off the bone ribs as compared to charred ones that require a lot of chewing.  My mom has it down to an art using a crockpot.

Put small potatoes in the bottom of your crockpot and lay the ribs on them.  Add just enough water to cover it all (obviously will vary by size of crockpot and amount of ingredients) and add seasoned salt and pepper.

IF it were me, you know I would add a couple of TB of butter in at this point too.  It is however, not necessary...

Cook on high for about 8 hours.

Remove the ribs and place them in a pan lined with foil.  Spread BBQ sauce on them and broil them in your oven for about 5-10 minutes.  This will get them a bit crispier on the outside, more like the grill, and carmelize the sugars in the BBQ sauce.  It is a nice process especially for those of us in an apartment with no grill!

We served them up with the roasted potatoes and cornbread cakes. 

What better thing to come home to than ribs?

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wizard of Oz Cupcakes

Here are some super cute Oz cupcakes we made for a local play. 

They utilized fun sparkly rings from a local cake shop.  Cake shops have a lot of easy fun things that you can pop on a cupcake when you need a fantastic but quick answer to decorating.

Never doubt what is in the toy section too, toy tractors make some CUTE decorations.

Short, SWEET, and too the point!

Happy crafting. Pin It Now!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Homemade Coasters: Shelf Liner Backing

I see a lot of people online making their own coasters, which I have done for a year or so now myself.  I have run the gamut in things I have used as backing, but my favorite is the shelf liner that feels like a silicone web.

You can find it at Wal-Mart for a VERY fair price.  One roll will go a very long way. 

I stick it right on with E6000, of course.

Felt is rather frustrating, those little felt pads are EXPENSIVE, and all of it just about needs E6000 anyway to stay on.

Best benefit of shelf liner? Perfectly slice-able with your handy dandy paper cutter (thanks Xacto for another quality product!).

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies

-3/4 C Sugar
-1 large egg
-1/2 C peanut butter
-1/2 C Nutella
-1 tsp vanilla

Mix all of the ingredients EXCEPT the Nutella in a bowl, mixing until well incorporated.  Add in the Nutella and fold it in to the batter, not overmixing so that it is swirled throughout. 

You can either drop it by tablespoonfuls, flatten a little, and bake at 350 for ten minutes...

Or you can put giant scoops on a parchment paper lined sheet, not flatten it at all, and let them bake for about 16 minutes at 350 until the edges are starting to brown and firm up.

I am a big fan of giant cookies, so it is not hard to guess which one I chose.  It made nine 2-2.5 diameter cookies.  They each had varying levels of swirls.

Best part about this is it makes your place smell FANTASTIC. And it will give me something to put on my tall cake stand.

I am not gluten free, although I have been exploring a lot of flourless recipes of late.  What I am is an occasional minimalist.  If I can make something with fewer ingredients, I want to know.  If I can make something that is just as tasty, if not more so, with fewer ingredients, then I DEFINITELY want to know.  That way, if I am out of flour (unlikely) and in desperate need of cookies (less unlikely) I am fully prepared to make them using what I already have.

Not to mention, I have friends that are gluten free, so it is always worthwhile to have a few recipes up your sleeve for that.  Especially for parents, you just never know when your kid is going to come home with a gluten free friend!

If you want them to be more peanut buttery and less Nutella feel free to do 75% PB and 25% Nutella.  These cookies came out with chewy yummy edges and softer cores. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Encased in Resin: Hardware

You can make a LOT of interesting jewelry and crafty things with resin.  I like to buy the resin from Hobby Lobby that comes with about 8 ounces, which you can usually find near the wood crafting stuff.  There is also another kind of resin in the jewelry section at hobby lobby that is a little more straightforward for mixing, but comes in much smaller quantities.  If you are doing a highly critical project that you only have enough time to do right the first time, your safest bet will be the jewelry section resin.

If however you have a little spare time to correct for typical mistakes, the other is a better deal.

There is a LOT of things that I have put in resin.  Extra charms, metal flake, and small hardware have been fun add ins for jewelry. Near the wood crafting where they sell the resin, there are plastic molds in a variety of shapes and sizes.  All you really need to do is put some oddities in the mold, pour in the resin, let it sit, pop it out, and attach necessary pieces to make it a pendant.

A lot of times I wrap mine in wire, mostly because I find it visually interesting and it is an easy way to add a bail.  You can also let a jump ring or similar dry in the resin and then attach directly to a necklace and similar.

If your resin pendant ends up too sticky on the back due to an error in mixing or humidity, I suggest putting a piece of scrapbook paper, saran wrap, foil, or similar on the back so that it seals it in.  I most often use scrapbook paper because it adds another level of detail.  If you notice that it is mostly perfect all the way around but just has a small sticky spot somewhere, use clear nail polish and paint over it to correct the problem.

If it is mixed too incorrectly it will be horrifically sticky and there will be no salvaging it.  That is one of the benefits to the jewelry section, it is more controlled and you pretty much can't goof it.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Train Cake: Choo Choo!

How...freakishly...CUTE IS THIS CAKE?!?

I love it.

I bought the train pan from Hobby Lobby and completely disregarded the color scheme on the picture.  I did rosettes all over the sides of the cake and as a border on top because I have a pretty rigged up board system under this cake.

There is a 16 inch round under my 16 inch cake.  Then there is a red square board under that.

Why did I not just put the cake on the square board? It is heavy, it needed dual supports.  Why did I just not use two of the same shape board? Clearly did not have any.

In fact, a myriad of fun things happened with this cake.

First, she did not rise as much as I figured she would, and she rose unevenly.  Thanks a lot, gas oven.  I also had to crank it down to 325 3/4 of the way through because my oven was baking it just a little too dark for my liking. Usually we always bake cakes at 350 in my moms electric oven, but this guy heats a bit differently.

So when I cut the part that was above the pan lip off to level it, it pretty much did not level it at all.  My middle was level, but there was inevitably a big gap between my edges and my board all the way around.

No matter, everything can be solved with extra icing.  That is, once you get the pin back in your kitchenaid that fell out while you were making icing last night.

So that is how the rosettes happened.  They were a great way to disguise my goofy looking sides. 

This is my first ever solo cake, and I am actually really happy with it! I used two tips on the whole thing basically, a larger writing tip and a small piping tip.  Which is really backwards when you think about it, and not very handy in the long run.  But I am a firm believer in making it work.

I mounded up some icing to make the puffy clouds.  You are welcome whoever gets one of those slices.

I also quickly realized I only had one coupler. I have 5 rings, just nothing to screw them onto.  Awesome.  This resulted in me doing all things needed in the same color all at once.  I went white, red, yellow, black. Washed the coupler out in between each color, shook my head every single time.  Needless to say when I was done I went directly to the shower to wash off the residual sticky all over me from messing with so much icing.

The train cake almost broke because I had to flip it out train side up for it to cool, transfer it to a different cookie sheet train side down, and then get it on to my cake train side up.  Luckily I sprayed the heck out of the pan, and it came out just fine.  The little pans will get you more often than the big guys.

I just barely had enough oil, literally I don't even think my bottle has a tablespoon left.  I used all of my Crisco, barely had enough icing, but managed to make it through it all without a hitch.

I got it in the cake box just fine, and have press and seal wrapped all the way around it because of course, I don't have tape in this entire apartment.

The real fun begins tomorrow.  Tomorrow morning it will have to be transported to school as it is for a retirement party.  Luckily I think it is far too heavy for the boards to shift, it is just a matter of not dropping it or the cupcakes.  I have never actually witnessed someone dropping a cake, and I do NOT want my first time seeing it be me living the nightmare.

But it is super cute, I love it, and I really don't want to give it away.  But then again, I also don't want to see cake in this apartment for at least the next week.

I ate a salad for dinner because I was so tired of sugar everywhere.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Train Themed Cupcakes with a Chocolate Marshmellow Dream Filling

How CUTE are these little guys? I love them.  This is going to be a hopefully super informative blog on multiple features of these cuties.

We will start from the top down.  I used the bottom of an icing tip to cut out these yellow fondant circles, and used the end of a paintbrush to poke them back out.  A coupler works fine too as a cutter.

Next, using liquid coloring "Super Black" from Hobby Lobby, I squirted a dab out and painted on the rail road signs.  I let them dry overnight so they would not get all wimpy on me.

For the icing, it was super simple.  I used a half a can of chocolate icing and whipped it up on high with a pound and a half of confectioner's sugar and about a half cup of cold water.  I don't love every canned icing ever made, that is for sure.  But chocolate canned icing can be a heck of a time saver.  I used a large icing tip to make rosettes on top so that there was no possibility the lid to my carrier would hit them. 

Let me just go ahead and say I don't think anyone can make as consistently stiff of icing as me.  It is ridiculous.  My mom makes perfect icing.  If I had to pipe my icing all the time, I would have some serious guns. I piped all of these out and by the time I was going back and putting the decorations on my icing was already set.  Which is not a bad thing in my opinion, just surprising.  I would much rather have a fast setting icing than a pile o' mush.

Before the rosettes were in place, I filled these cupcakes with a chocolately marshmallow-y heavenly filling.  I mixed 3 heaping spoons of marshmallow cream, 1/4 cup of chocolate icing, and 1/4 c powdered sugar.  It made a barely chocolate but extremely delicious filling. In a devil's food cupcake, I don't mind having a lighter filling.

I hollow mine out but cutting down a quarter to half inch in a circle and pulling out the core.  I cut the bottom 3/4 off the core to have plenty of room for filling and being able to sit the top back on it like nothing ever happened.  I don't like my tops to stick up after being filled because it calls for a LOT of correcting with icing.

Then it really got fun.  The pin fell out of the side of my mixer, dropping the head down and giving me quite the panic attack.  I ended up having to lay the thing on its side, readjust the head while wiggling the pin around, and finally it fell back in.  THANK.  GOODNESS. 

You don't just whip up a decorator quality icing by hand.  At least not if you are me.

In fact...I pretty much never mix anything by hand.

I reeeeeally want to eat one and I am super sad that I can't.  HOWEVER, I know they are going to be a big hit.

Happy crafting!
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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rehab on a Nine Year Old Shirt

 I got 99 problems, and this stitch is one.  Haha.

Couldn't resist.

So as I said in my title, this shirt is nine years old.  I bought it back when Body Central sold extra large instead of just extra anorexic.  But since body central now only caters to super tiny bodies, I shop elsewhere.  But of many things I bought there back in early high school, this shirt is still making a solid run.

It is starting to wear thin though.  Very very thin.
 So as you can see the back had a couple of holes in it that had been patched but had already come back through.  I am probably mostly to blame on this as I am constantly yanking shirts back down and messing with them.

So I messed around with a few different cuts, debated between a grunge look or a dressier look, and so on.

My first attempt had a couple of bigger holes cut, with lace and white material underneath.  You know what that ended up looking like? A really fancy cow.  Not exactly what any woman wants to look in the mirror and be reminded of.

So I ended up cutting out the entire side which made me really nervous because my sewing skills leave something to be desired and it meant I was going to lose some valuable seams.
Luckily I tend to operate under the "what's the worst that can happen" principle.  Worst case scenario, I only get 9 years out of this shirt.  Best case scenario, it works out.  Those are odds I can take.

So I flipped on my sewing machine, stitched it in somewhat questionably but decent enough that I like it.

I figured I would need to wear a tank top under it since I am really not one that enjoys flashing skin, especially on my sides or midsection.  However, it was a long enough shirt to begin with that it basically only shows my jeans!

How perfect, and completely unexpected.

So now I have a cool lace patch in the side of my shirt that won't need a tank top under it.  The shirt originally had chain straps as well, but I removed those so that it became more weather friendly.  Those really are not idea for blazing sun or freezing cold, and the sleeves stay up just fine without them.  In fact, they are more versatile without, allowing me to wear it off both shoulders, one shoulder, or regular. 

I am DETERMINED that this shirt will get its master's degree.  I have a few articles of clothing that I am highly loyal to because they have lasted so long.  My main favorites are:
  1. My AAU shorts that I got as part of a uniform in SIXTH GRADE.  They still fit, they have no holes, they have not faded, and they are basically 11 years old and going strong.  I have had them half my life, and I used to wear them nearly every week and sleep in them all the time.
  2. My Doc Martens.  You cannot ask for a better shoe.  My black Docs look as good as the day I got them, have sustained very little damage, and are the only shoe I wear all winter long unless I have to switch off to snow boots.  I think they are about 9 years old. 
  3. This shirt I am blogging about. 
  4. My tennis T-shirt.  We got team shirts my freshmen year of high school, which means that shirt is going on its 8th year.  For a T, that is pretty fantastic.  Ironically, I like to wear it with my AAU shorts.
  5. My blue racerback tank. Also from Body Central, and also bought in high school.  What can I say, I really used to like their clothes.  It is a little faded, but I still wear it a lot in the summer.  I have since then found similar material tanks at other stores, so I have a color army ready for summer.
I don't know if I just have good luck with clothes, if my mom has secret laundry tricks, or if it is mostly the fact that I prefer poly-fake-a-lene type materials over cotton which constantly shrinks and falls apart, but I always appreciate clothes that are made to last. 

Although it does have a tendency to create some overflow in my closet.

Either way, the better I get at sewing the more I can drag out some of my favorite things!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Birthday Cake Pancakes, My Attempt

-1 C Krusteaz pancake mix
-1/3 C sprinkles
-3/4 C milk
-1-2 tsp vanilla

So basically, you just mix it all up and cook it on a griddle, of course. 

If you do not have an electric griddle, I question your sanity. I have a FANTASTIC one made by Presto.  My mom found it on sale at Kroger, and it is a CHAMP.  I love that little bugger.

Don't really love washing it, but that would be the case no matter what.

Anyway I drizzled a little glaze type thing over these that I made with a LOT of confectioner's sugar and a very small amount of milk. 

And then as I was eating it I was reminded how much I don't like overly sweet pancakes, prefer eggs for breakfast, and while these were tasty it really just did not do it for me this morning.

Any morning that does not start with protein is a sad sad morning for me.

HOWEVER, I love cake.  So that made up for it a little bit.

If you are the type that enjoys sugary concoctions in the morning, feel free to give it a whirl.  If I had any on hand, I would have preferred to use a plan greek yogurt as a base instead of milk, adding in a little milk or water as needed to get the right end texture.  That would have at least added more protein to these.

Now, back to my intensive weekend of getting homework done!

Until next time!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Crockpot Veggie Beef Soup

-Beef of your choosing (I used two hunks of roast...maybe...I really don't know my beef all that well, but basically use whatever king you prefer and however much you want)
-6 to 7 cups of water
-3 TB butter
-1 C baby lima beans
-1/2 C corn
-12 mini yellow potatoes
-1 pack grape tomatoes
-3 carrots, chopped
-couple of slices of onion, chopped
-1 TB basil
-3 tsp Rosemary
-Pinch of garlic
-Salt and Pepper to taste

Toss it all in the crockpot, I sent most of it straight there from my freezer.  Cook on low for nine to ten hours.  Serve with some griddled up cornbread.

When I walked back in to my apartment after my night class, I opened the door to the most fantastic smell on the planet.  Though my chicken tortilla soup will probably be my all time favorite in taste, this one might just have it locked up for best smelling soup.  

And the beef, after a low and slow ten hours, just falls apart.  Fantastic.  It is like perfectly shredded beef with absolutely no work. 

I love no work.

I know it is getting warmer outside and so soup may not be the first thing on your mind.  However, it is quickly becoming my best friend for Thursday nights because I am always STARVING after class, figuratively speaking. It is a drawing class of sorts and anything art related makes me hungry.  Clear broth soups are a nice light meal after that doesn't bog me down before bedtime, and a great way to detox.

One time, my throat was nearly swollen shut due to what I thought was strep and I lived on soup broth and Special K vanilla protein shakes for about 2-3 days.  Was I miserable? Absolutely.  Did I appreciate soup broth for keeping me going? Absolutely.  Every now and then I use soup in some pseudo detox method.  Eating a clear broth soup for a few days always helps me feel a little lighter.

Also, I have to put in a LOT of hours this weekend on finalizing some projects, straightening the apartment, and picking up last minute things I need for a cake I am doing early next week.  So having some yummy food on hand that I can just heat and eat will be fantastic. 

You can add as much beef as you like, mine really only has 2 hunks each the size of half of a brick in it.  Though I am in no way a vegetarian, I do have days where meat does not sound all that great to me, so this soup is predominantly veggies.  As a kid, I LOVED lima beans.  I think I picked them out of soups like this and just ate them, not so sure on that one, but I remember loving them since I was a tiny thing.  So pretty much that was my main concern in this soup, feeding my childhood love of those funny little beans.  It was delicious, even if it is first day soup.

Soup is ALWAYS better the second day, always. 

I don't know if the Italian-esque herbs are typical for beef soup, but my argument is and will remain that if you use more things like herbs and quality products (homegrown veggies when possible, for example) you get a lot of flavor without having to add a lot of salt.  You of course still need some because salt is required for basically everything you cook to not taste flat, but there is absolutely no need to get up to Campbell's soup salt levels.

I am hoping to start my own little herb garden soon in cute barrels.  It is on my ever growing "want to do" list.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lemon Dill Cream Sauce (Lightened up with Lemon Chobani!)

-3 TB butter
-3 TB flour
-1 TB Dill
-1.5 C Milk
-3-4 ounces of Chobani Lemon Yogurt
-Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat butter in a pan over medium heat.  As it is melting, add the dill.  Once it all gets melted, add the flour and stir, stir, stir.  When it is all incorporated (think making gravy) add the milk and start stirring.  Add salt to taste and crank a little pepper on it.

Only pepper grinders are acceptable!

Keep stirring and let the sauce begin to thicken.  You don't want to get it as thick as gravy would be, since you are going to add in a thick yogurt. 

When you are satisfied with the thickness, remove it from the heat and stir in the Lemon CHO.  Taste again and add more salt as needed.  Serve with pasta.  If you think it is too thick, add a little dash of milk and thin it back out a little.  It is pretty versatile.

I served the pasta with grilled salmon.  Delicious!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Twisty Braid Bun

Ignore the frizzies...it has been a LONG day.

This braid was actually easy to do, made easier by bobby pins.

I flipped my hair over to one side and started a braid at the top.  You want to do the typical braiding, but only add hair on the outside instead of both sides.  Basically you will cross from the outside and pull hair into it, cross from the inside without adding hair into it, cross from the outside and pull, and so on. 

Don't pull overly large sections.
Keep braiding and pulling, I tend to lean and bend with the braid to make my hair fall in the right direction so that it does not get messy.  When you run out of hair to pull, continue braiding the hair and secure with a clear small ponytail.

Twist and pin the braid into the desired spiral, add some hairspray, and tuck any loose ends into the braid.

And then remark on how difficult it is to get pictures of the back of your own head.

For long hair lovers, it is a great way to put a little extra something into a hair do.  As an added bonus, when you take it down it should be nice and wavy!

That's like BOGO for fixed hair ;).

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Apricot Pecan Granola Bars (Flourless!)

-1/2 C chopped Apricots (I highly suggest getting them from Trader Joe's! Yummy!)
-1 6oz container of Chobani Blood Orange (I almost used peach which I think would be DELICIOUS as well, so keep that in mind)
-1/4 C chopped pecans
-3 TB real maple syrup
-1 C oats

Preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  I think just greasing the sheet would be fine with these, I usually only have trouble with banana based ones. 

Mix up all the ingredients in a bowl, turn out onto the baking sheet and press into a rectangle (approximately 1/4 inch thick).  Another option would be to go ahead and press them into individual squares so that you do not have to cut them later. 

I have made them both ways.  I kind of prefer the no cutting method.  But I cut these so both are feasible.

Anyway, bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes depending on your oven and pan.  I use dark nonstick and a gas oven.  I like them to be a nice light golden color when they are done.  If you prefer more crunchy bars, bake them a few minutes longer.

Remove from the oven when done and let them cool for a few minutes on the pan.  Cut and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

If you want them to last longer, as always just put them in the fridge.  You can freeze granola bars as well. 

As an optional finishing touch, drizzle with chocolate or white chocolate.  If you don't have maple, feel free to use honey in this recipe instead.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bottle Cap Magnets

You need:
-Magnet backing (I like business card magnet backs from Staples! They are easy to cut and sticky already.)
-1 inch scrapbook circle punched out
-1 bottle cap
-1 inch epoxy stickers (or resin)

I use a 1 inch punch on some cutesy scrapbook paper.  I rarely scrapbook any more, mostly because Shutterfly keeps sending me good deals on books. 

Glue the circle into the bottle cap using crazy glue, E6000, regular glue, whatever you have on hand.  I basically use E6000 for everything.

I don't like to use epoxy stickers on jewelry, but they are just fine for magnets.  Put the epoxy stickers in, cut a circle out of the magnet backing and attach.
Put the magnet on your fridge and enjoy!

I never have enough magnets in my apartment, so I think I will make an army of these.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Homemade Oatmeal Raisin Mini Muffins

-1 C flour
-3/4 C sugar
-3 tsp baking powder
-1 1/4 C oats
-1/2 C raisins
-3 TB oil
-1 egg
-1 C Milk
-1 tsp vanilla

-2 TB brown sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together and spoon into mini muffin pans.  If you want them to be extra delicious, you are going to need to go to Trader Joe's and get their Jumbo Medley pack of raisins.  Then and only then have you achieved amazing raisinmuffinness.

Hey dictionary, add that word.

Anyway you add those together and spoon it into the mini muffin cups.  Put a little of the topping on and bake at 350 for about 14 minutes.  Test for doneness and adjust time as needed.

It is amazing how different each oven is.  These were made in my mom's electric oven.  If you are using a gas oven (like my apartment one) I might suggest checking them around 12. Ovens distribute heat differently, so just be aware. 

For bigger muffins, test the doneness at about 15 minutes and adjust accordingly. 

Try these with different dried fruits and add ins, I would like to especially suggest cranberry and white chocolate together! Yummy!

Happy crafting. Pin It Now!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sea Shell Cake

This is the cake that the white chocolate pieces were for!  I love to have cakes that have a lot of white chocolate decorations, because they are delicious.

I highly suggest to brides out there to consider taste in every detail.  The really weird thing about weddings and cakes is that the bride is so busy a lot of them hardly even taste their cake.  So it is really cool to get some every now and then that are thinking solely of their guests!

Anyway, the topper was found on amazon, and the luster dust on the shells really made them coordinate with the topper.  The sides have brain squiggles (ok fine, Cornelli lace if you insist) on them and it made a vibrant fun cake that looked beautiful. 

It is on a silver stand from Hobby Lobby.

AND that is a tasty, beautiful, craft of the day!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pearl Dust and Chocolate Decorations

We have a wedding cake in progress at the moment that is a beachy theme. 

A lot of the decorations are going to be made from molded chocolate, which is DELICIOUS and a fantastic way to deck out a cake.  And how simple is it to pour chocolate in a mold?  Super simple.

But just having a plain chocolate decoration sometimes doesn't do the trick.

The perfect answer is pearl dust! You can get pearl dust at hobby lobby and cake shops and you can mix it with vanilla or vodka, it dries faster with vodka but I prefer vanilla.

I suggest making it in small batches, it is hard to say exactly how much of each you need to use.  Pearl dust isn't really something you measure.  But you want it to be on the thicker side.

If you are using vanilla just give them long enough to dry and you are good to go.  They will catch a little light on a cake and add another level of faint color. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

MMMM Pulled Pork Pizza

-1.5 C Flour (I use AP and Wheat Mixed)
-up to 1 C lukewarm water
-2 TB honey
-1 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp yeast (eyeball it)
-1 TB basil

-Carving Board pork (it's in the lunchmeat section, or use fresh pork if you just have it)
-Favorite BBQ sauce
-Pizza sauce (go easy on it, you have BBQ too!)
-Mozzarella and Colby jack cheese
-Pineapple (no exceptions, it is delicious)

I mix up all my dough ingredients and let it rise for about 10 hours as it is a no need dough.  You just want enough water to make it a sticky dough, sometimes with wheat flour it can really alter how much you need.  So add slowly until it looks shaggy.  You can use a different pizza dough recipe if you prefer, I just use this dough for everything.

Dust a pizza pan with cornmeal, plop a little more flour on your dough and give it a few turns in the bowl, adding minimal flour as needed.

Stretch it out and put it on your pan, add your toppings, and sprinkle just a hint of garlic on the crust.  HINT.  Not very much.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until the crust is golden and yummy. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sleeping in Sponge Rollers

So you like curled hair but your hair doesn't play nice with curling irons.  Welcome to my world.  My hair has plenty of body and volume, but no desire to be tamed by heat processes.  The workaround is sponge rollers.

You can find them at places like Wal-Mart and similar in the hair section, they come in a square pack usually that has pink, green, yellow, and blue rollers which range from really large to really small, respectively.

If you have a ton of hair like mine, you may consider buying two packs unless they have an extra pack of just blues.  I usually use blue and yellow to get all of the main up.

Now, sleeping in sponge rollers sounds uncomfy right? WRONG.  All you need to do is put your hair up in a high ponytail first.  Then you roll up very small sections of hair, I usually grab no more than 1/2 inch sections. 

Slightly dampen the strand of hair, keep a damp washcloth on hand or similar, and wrap the end around the roller.  Roll it up until you get to the ponytail base.  I usually start with the top of my ponytail and work my way back.

When it is all rolled up, close your eyes and take a nice sleep.  Even with this head of hair, I rarely feel it while I am sleeping.  In the morning you will just need to take all the rollers back out, separate the curls a little and fluff as desired, and then spray with quality hairspray such as Freeze It.

And then choke for the next ten minutes on the fumes.

But later realize the choking was worth it because you had fantastic hair all day long.

If it can't be done while I am sleeping, it is not a hairstyle I consider.  Haha, that is not 100% true but it is darn close.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fabulous Flourless Raspberry Lemon Granola Bars

-1 6 oz container of Chobani Lemon Greek Yogurt
-1 C oats
-4 TB almond meal
-1/2 C freeze dried raspberries from Trader Joe's
-1/8th C honey
-Couple of drops of both vanilla and lemon extract
-Optional 1/4 C Kraft Jet Puffed Mallow Bits (if you don't want to add these, consider chopped up almonds, white chocolate chips, freeze dried blueberries, graham cracker pieces, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Mix up all the ingredients to form a somewhat moist batter.  Get out heaping tablespoons of the batter at a time and form into relatively square pieces.  You can put it all out at once and cut it after baking, but this was much more user friendly in my opinion.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the bars are set and starting to turn golden.  Let them cool on the pan a couple of minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool.  The recipe should make about 20 bars depending on how big you make them.

So, in as much (or little) as I know about nutritional facts, I am pretty darn certain these are packing some serious health in them.  Now, ok, the marshmallow bits maybe don't add quite the healthy pizzazz that the raspberries do, but they serve their own purpose by making your inner child happy.  And that is well worth it.  They really also don't kill the healthiness of the bar either.

The freeze dried raspberries from Trader Joe's are one of my favorite newfound products because the serving size is the ENTIRE BAG!!  What?!?! You never see those words any more.  Fantastic.  The entire bag also has about half the vitamin C you need, a good amount of iron, fiber, other healthy mumbojumbo.  Ridiculous.  Ridiculously delicious.

Chobani, as always, packs a serious punch when it comes to protein and healthy goodness.

Lemon and raspberry combined is one of my favorite flavor pairs.  The honey adds just enough sweetness to them to make these things taste like cookies.  You could put a white chocolate drizzle over them if you so desired to make them more candy-like, but in all reality it is not needed.  They have just the right amount of sweet and a perfect amount of bright fruity flavors to get devoured.

I would personally recommend refrigerating them to get the longest shelf life out of them...not that they will last that long from the standpoint of me not being able to keep away from them.  My only hope at this point is that I can stay out of these long enough to share them with my mom when I go back home in a few days, because she would really like this flavor profile as well.

Does something still count as healthy if you eat the entire batch of it....

Don't answer that.

Happy crafting!

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Google SketchUp: 2 Versions of Turrets and Towers

I am a self-proclaimed software junkie, and fairly consistently recognized as one of the more speedy SketchUp users within my program.  Do I know how to do it all? Of course not.  But I am pretty good at getting where I need to be.

Last semester we had a huge SketchUp model to do in a class, and there was a building downtown with a turret on top.  I loved the building.  I HAD to do this building.  It took a lot of time the first round, but it helped me develop a good system for both round and square towers and toppers.  Square is ALWAYS simpler, which I imagine is true for building as well.  But if you have a little patience you can do either.

Start by making a small square from one corner of your building back towards the center.  Use the end point on that square as the beginning of a larger square directed away from the center of the building.  You will likely need to type in the dimensions on the second square if you cannot get it to hover out on the right axis.  I used a 2'10 square for the small one and about a 5' square for the larger.
Use the Push/Pull button to bring the square to the bottom of your building.  Next, use Push/Pull to bring the square up an extra 5' or however tall you want this particular thing to be.

Starting with a back corner, use the rectangle tool to draw a 3" or similar width rectangle around each side.  This will help make a ledge.

Next, use the line tool to draw an X from the corners of the top square to make 4 triangles.

Using the push/pull again, bring the ledge out a couple of inches to form the base of the top.  Using the eraser tool, erase two of the top corners (I do ones next to each other not across), which should eliminate all but one side and one top triangle.

 Using the line tool, start at the point of the remaining triangle and draw down to the corner of the interior top square (not the corner of the ledge).  Do this on 3 sides.

Erase the top triangle and remaining vertical side, and your final panel should be under it. 

Additionally, not shown in this picture, you can use the offset tool to create details in each triangular panel.  This can be really interesting visually, and if you are modeling a real building may be essential. 

Finally, add color as desired and remaining features for your building.

Here is the finished little building with a basic flat roof.

Next we will work on a round turret.  Start out using the circle tool.  From the corner of the building at the top, pull a circle towards the center of the building, however large you want the tower to be.

Do not erase the lines within it yet. 

Using the push pull tool, pull the circle down to the base of the building to create the tower.

 Under "Draw" you will find "polygon".  Click the polygon draw tool and type in "12" and hit enter to make the system draw a 12 sided polygon. This is what I use for tops that I want to look kind of close to round.

Pulling along one of the sides of the building, draw the polygon so that there is a little overhang.  This will create the base for the ledge.

Draw a very small (I used 3 inch) second polygon on the corner again, dragging the same direction as the larger polygon.  This will ensure that your lines line up in the end.

Using push/pull, pull the sides of the large poly up a few inches. Erase the lines in the ledge made by the sides of the building after the pull.
 Erase any extra lines within the small polygon and pull it up as high as you want the top to be.

If you want there to be a part of the top sticking out above the panels you will put in, use the line tool to draw all the way around the top of the pole as far down as you want the top of the panels to be.

 Draw from the top down to the base of the ledge, it should snap to an "endpoint".  Make a second line down from the next connection of the top and then add a third line to complete the panel. 

This does leave a sliver of space between the bottom of the panel and the ledge (due to the tower being circular and the ledge not) but this is easily hidden with paint.

Keep making the panels all the way around, add color and remaining features, and enjoy your cute little turret.

I completely love SketchUp and have had a BLAST learning how to do different things in it.  My best advice if you are trying to tackle something you are unsure how to construct is to just break it down into its basic shapes and go from there.  Every complex feature is a series of very simple ones, you just need the right combinations.

Happy crafting!

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jungle Baby Shower Cake

So this will be short and sweet (hah, cake, sweet, how clever).  We did this baby shower cake this morning using edible images, fondant leaves, and green scrolling for vines.

We used a leaf cookie cutter and then used scissors to cut small sections out of the leaves.  I came through with a writing tip and drew all sorts of vines coming down from the top of the layers.  It really gave some added character to the monkeys to make them look like they were swinging!  How fun.

Asymmetrical vines keep your stress levels down and the cake fun and interesting the whole way around. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Super Soft Almond Cookies: Chobani Coco Loco Flip Cookies

-1/2 C sugar
-1 container Chobani Coco Loco Flip plus 1/2 container of plain Chobani (I used the rest of my 2% carton)
-1/2 C Almond meal (aka pulverized almond dust, I bought almond meal at Trader Joe's for a great price!)
-1/2 C AP Flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla (almond extract if you have it!)
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 375 and grease a couple of cookie sheets.  Mix all the ingredients and drop by spoonfuls onto the sheet.  For once, I did not even use my Kitchenaid.  Bake for 8-10 minutes (8 if dark nonstick) until the edges are just starting to brown.  Remove from the oven, let them rest a couple of minutes, and transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

I would highly suggest tossing in some coconut for extra texture if you just happen to have it.  These come out with a texture like a cake or pancake but in a completely mobile cookie form.  And they are DELICIOUS!  If you don't want them to come out so thin, you might try it with 3/4 C AP Flour and only 1/4 c of almond meal. 

My bag of almond meal says you can sub almond meal in for up to 50% of the flour in a recipe, but with something like a cookie that doesn't have a pan that holds it shape it would be worth considering subbing a smaller amount.  I personally did not care if they were thin, but some people are particular about their cookies.

Not I.  If it is a cookie, I'ma munch it regardless of size.  YUMMY.

These are delicious, but addicting.  So be prepared to tell yourself that they are cookies and you probably shouldn't eat the whole batch.

I just reminded myself that Greek yogurt is healthy every time I needed an excuse to grab another one ;).

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Space Saver: Vertical Plates

I have been considering this for quite some time, and I finally found just the right contraption to make it happen.  Now, let me just say I am not the queen of organization at ALL.  But every now and again I have a moment like this that offers me a glimmer of hope that it may some day be something I am better at.

Anyway, I found a pot lid rack at Meijer for under $2.  That is my kind of price range.  It allowed me to put my plates vertically instead of stacking them.  Since I have a mix of square and round plates, and only my round ones fit my microwave, a single stack of plates is not an option for me. 

Inevitably I would always end up not having the plate I needed or it being a hassle when I was putting dishes back up.  So until this point, I have had my square plates on one level and my round ones on another.  That made my bowls have to move to a completely different cabinet.

NOW, however, I have all my plates plus my small guys on this shelf, and my bowls fit with plenty of room to spare on the shelf above. It is basically a sigh of relief.

So no, this might not necessarily be considered a craft to some people, but it is one of the darn craftiest ideas I have come up with in a while.

And it was cheap, did I mention that?

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dinner WINNER: Crispy Skillet Fried Chicken and Fettuccine (using my homemade sauce!)

First off, meet one of my very favorite oils.  This stuff is absolutely delicious, and one of my favorite things to fry with.  Keep in mind my version of frying is a skim of oil in a skillet, not deep frying...that stuff is dangerous.

-1 Chicken tenderloin
-1 egg
-1/8 C milk (not stringent, I basically just like to make a thick batter of mostly egg)
-2-3 TB Panko Bread Crumbs
-2-3 TB Flour (larger tenderloins may need a little more, mine was small)
-Meijer Sun-Dried Tomato infused oil
- Pasta and sauce

First off, you can find my homemade skinny fettuccine sauce recipe on my blog from a few days ago, found here http://greenzebra9.blogspot.com/2013/04/homemade-skinny-fettuccine-sauce-on.html

I dropped my pasta in boiling water and put asparagus and tomatoes in a skillet with butter and seasoning salt, added a little water, and put a lid over them to steam.  Then I started prepping my chicken.

Put your chicken on a cutting board and pound it thin with a meat tenderizer (I used the spiked side).  Thin chicken gets done a LOT faster.  It also makes a tiny chicken tenderloin look a lot bigger.  Salt your chicken.  I literally always forget to do that.

I started pounding out chicken a lot after my mom ordered chicken di pana at Cheesecake Factory.  It is a very thinly pounded piece of chicken which you can mimic by cutting a chicken breast in half and pounding out to make two thin pieces.  I highly suggest cutting chicken breasts in half regardless, as it is a sneaky way to make meat last longer.

When you have it thin you want to dunk it in an egg and milk mix in one bowl, and then transfer it to a mix of the panko and flour in another bowl and coat on both sides.  I used whole wheat flour this time, it really did not change the flavor.  But I was curious!

Heat a skim of oil on medium heat, you will want to turn it down later if it begins to pop.  When it is hot, drop the chicken in it and fry until golden brown, flipping minimally.

The oil gives it SUCH a tasty flavor, and you can easily rev it up more with the addition of some basil and rosemary to your flour and panko.

I made way more than I could eat, of course, so I just chopped up all my remaining things and put it in a bowl with the leftover pasta.  This will make for some tasty alfredo leftovers for tomorrow or Friday!

So to recap, frying in a flavored oil is an excellent idea and a little goes a long way, cutting chicken breasts in half or using one pounded tenderloin per person might be a good option for saving money or cutting back, and leftovers are a delicious part of life.

And Meijer had that honey oat bread in the background, which perfectly capped off my Cheesecake Factory inspired meal. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Countdown Calendars: College Survival

So being a college kid for about 5 years now, I have learned that the final semester of any school year is when you have to do the most planning if you want it to go smoothly. 

This has helped me out a lot since I started cooking at my apartments and dorms and similar.  I have a feeling I would use before vacations as well.

Basically what I do is I take an inventory of everything in my freezer, and sometimes the stuff in my fridge.  I rarely have a problem using up what's in my fridge, though, so I usually stick to figuring out what meat and similar I have and need to use. 

For this calendar I have what meals I want to make for the month, the critical assignments for school, and I have grayed out the weekends I have things planned.  In bold I have things I will probably use as crafts of the day.

As you can maybe guess, I do Meatless Monday as often as possible (no I don't count seafood as meat).  I have to plan for a night class on Thursdays, so I try to account for leftovers and having something to eat for that day as well with my Wednesday plans.  I actually had more stuff in my freezer than I will likely use throughout all this, which is exactly why I highly recommend doing this before you are leaving for an extended period.  I probably would have bought more chicken if I had not realized how much I had versus how few days I needed to cook.

If you are really prone to forgetting things, make it your background for that month.  You may not be able to see everything depending on how cluttered your desktop is, but it will serve as a reminder that you need to get things done.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Homemade Skinny Fettuccine Sauce on Trader Joes Garlic Noodles

Every now and then I like a store so much my inner 3 year old just wants to skip through it.  However, being a very reserved human, I just have to skip in my head.  All through Trader Joe's, I was definitely skipping in my head.  It was my first trip since the one in Louisville opened, and it will definitely not be my last...

Thank God I found a paid internship, right?

Anyway, we were perusing the store as I wanted to get some almond meal for future macarons until I get my food processor.  I would like to take a moment to call shenanigans on Rainbow Blossom (another natural food store in the area) for wanting to charge TWELVE DOLLARS for SIXTEEN OUNCES of almond meal.  Trader Joe's had it for four bucks.

Point is, I went there for almond meal and I came out with noodles, a super cute reusable bag, almond meal, and a newfound store love.

When I opened the bag of noodles my sense of smell was met with a strong but fantastic garlic and herb profile.  I knew that a cream sauce was just the ticket, and had been at my sister's house a few weeks back when she made fettuccine using Greek yogurt. With AMPLE amounts of Greek stocked in my fridge, I knew I had just the right set of ingredients to make it happen.

-1.5 TB butter
-1.5 TB flour (aka, heaping TB)
-3/4 C milk (I always use vitamin D milk)
-3 ounces Chobani Plain 2%
-1/4 C parmesan cheese
-Optional dash of garlic and similar if you are putting these on plain noodles
-Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a pot on a mid range heat setting.  When it is nice and melty, pop in the flour and stir, stir, stir.  If it starts to get all bubbly just take it off the heat for a second while you are stirring it and turn your heat down just a touch.  Add in the milk, parmesan, and seasonings and continue to stir.  Let it cook for a few minutes, stirring, until it starts to thicken.  Remove it from the heat, add in the Greek yogurt, and stir well.  You do not need to put it back on the heat.  You may find that you need just a touch more milk to thin it back out, as Chobani Greek Yogurt is incredibly thick and luscious.

Give it a taste and add a little more cheese or salt if needed.  Also consider sprinkling on more parm after you have mixed this in with your pasta noodles.

And of course, I topped mine with fresh cracked pepper.  My father, the scorner of all "pepper dust" and true lover of pepper grinders, would be proud.

I used the sprinkly parmesan cheese dust that you find near the cold cases of pasta sauce, and I would just like to recommend using a real version of parmesan.  Like perhaps the grated stuff.  This was just all I had on hand at the time.

This recipe makes probably enough to top about 2-3 servings of pasta, depending on how heavy you load your sauce on.  With the amount of sauce I put on my noodles as you can see in the picture, I could have gotten at least 3 if not 4 servings out of the sauce.  The rest is currently in my refrigerator and will likely be used on some tortellini this week for lunch time. 

From what I know about sauces, it should freeze just fine as well if you have leftovers and don't want to use them just yet.  I freeze a lot of my sauces in ice cube trays and transfer them to plastic bags when they are set.

But between more pasta, white pizza, and a dipping sauce for breadsticks, there should be absolutely no trouble in going through the rest of that container.

You can use fat free Chobani if you like, just be aware that you may need to add a little more cheese or seasoning to get it exactly where you want it.  Either way, there is a SIGNIFICANT drop in calories from using a heavy cream based recipe.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!