Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Playing Card Cookies with Edible Images

These are sugar cookies decorated with royal icing and an edible image of a playing card on top.  You typically want to ice the cookies one at a time and put the edible images on while the cookie is wet.

These are a great little treat for big game parties, bachelor parties, and many other events.

For us, a local cake shop will print edible images.  If you don't have a shop nearby that will do them, you may be able to order these from a bakery or find similar images online at party supply sites and possibly amazon.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Softball Sweet 16 Cake

This cake turned out to be sporty and chic for a great sweet 16 cake.

The bottom half of the square layer was done in tan and leopard/cheetah print.  I would call it leopard.  But that is a discussion for a different day.

The top used the 3D ball pan from Wilton.  First, we piped the ball out in stars to get decent coverage on it.  Then, using an offset spatula dipped in super hot water, we smoothed out the icing to give it the right finish.

If you were making a tennis ball, you could definitely just leave the stars.  It would be PERFECT!

We used red piping to add the stitches.  The ball is sitting on a tiny cake board with dowels under it so that it did not sink.  We also put dowels in the ball to both hold it together and secure the overall structure.

You could use this same idea for any sport using a ball, globes, SUPER COOL GEOLOGY CAKES!, planet cakes, and on and on.  This pan has inspired me to switch my graduation party to a map themed event, as I love maps and globes.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheetah/Leopard Print Cake Design

 First of all, I don't know how we all got to calling things cheetah print that are actually leopard print.  But, I guess cheetah sounds cooler, and they definitely run faster, so this can be whatever cat you like best ;).

To do this print, I used a paintbrush (cheap-o round one) to put luster dust on the side.  I mixed a dark brown and a gold so that it would have a little luster to it. 

This is just a one layer per tier cake for a smaller party, so I kept with a smaller print. You could make the brown dots as big as you wanted for different scenarios.

Next, I just took black icing and a thicker writing tip to make squiggly C's in various directions around the cake. 
You can make them closer together, larger, smaller, all sizes...variety is what you want in any print.

You could also cut these out of fondant if you want, but to me icing just seems easier to me.

And it tastes yummy

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Omelet Wontons: Tasty Brunch Party Morsels!

-3 eggs
-3 TB Greek Yogurt
-2 tsp basil
-1/2 tsp rosemary
-Dash of seasoning salt
-12 wonton wrappers
-12 cherry tomatoes
-Pepper (to top the cups)
-Wonton wrappers

If you are wondering what my obsession with wonton wrappers was the past few days, I was going on a waste-not-want-not theme as I was in my apartment for a couple of days.  If only you could buy smaller packs of wontons...

Anyway preheat your oven to that most magical temperature of 350.  Spray your muffin tin (regular size) with a light layer of cooking spray and line them with wonton wrappers.

My eggs were just large (I religiously buy jumbo but knew I couldn't use 12 in two days so opted for a smaller pack of smaller eggs) so if you are using a little bigger eggs this might go a little further.  Whip all of the ingredients up in a bowl, saving the tomatoes out. 

If you want to stretch this, you could easily add in a little milk (maybe up to 1/4 C) and/or some cheese.  This recipe as it stands should fill the 12 wontons.

Fill each wonton about 1.5 TB of the egg batter.  Divide any remaining bits of batter into any that just look a little less full.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and put them on top of the egg mix in each cup (1 full tomato per cup).  Sprinkle a tad of salt and pepper on top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the eggs are set and the corners are nice and brown.  Your cooking time may vary based on what kind of muffin tins you have, mine are dark and I have a gas oven at my apartment.  If you are so fortunate to have a window and light on your oven door (lucky soul, you) you can easily keep an eye on them. 

Twelve minutes for me was perfect.

I pretty much had a tapeworm this whole weekend so I ate way too may of these, but they were also the only thing I ate for breakfast.  As a brunch food, these would be the perfect little poppable omelet bites.  I loved the texture of these and the flavor.  A little bacon crumbled on top would be pretty tasty as well. 

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homemade Fresh Pizza Rolls

-Small ball of fresh mozzarella
-1 pint cherry tomatoes
-2-3 tsp herbes de provence seasoning (or pizza seasoning, I happen to not like oregano all that well)
-dash of salt
-a little sun dried tomato infused oil (I get Meijer Gold)
-wonton wrappers

Dipping sauce:
-Spoonful of Chobani 2% plain
-2 tsp basil
-1/2 tsp rosemary
-1 tsp sun dried tomato oil
-salt to taste

Dice the tomato and the cheese up into small pieces.  Mix them with the seasoning and salt in a bowl.  Put a little of the filling in the center of a wonton wrapper.  Wet three edges with a little water. 

Fold the side you did not wet over the filling.  Bring the opposite side over and press to seal.  Press the ends together firmly.  Wet the ends a little and fold them over to close the pocket completely.

Brush with a little infused oil and bake 10-15 minutes at 350. 

Like any good pizza roll, some will explode :).

Mix all the sauce ingredients together.

Then put these on your banned recipes list because you make a pig of yourself.  That is what I had to do. I will confess...I ate like 13 of them...but I loved the fresh bright flavors!

You could of course add some pepperoni or cooked sausage bits, veggies, or whatever else you like on your pizzas.  I will most likely add mushrooms to mine the next time I give in and make them.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Eggplant Won-Tacos

-1 eggplant section (thin sliced and a couple inches long) per wontaco
-wonton wrappers
-1/4C Panko mixed with 2 TB Almond Flour (for my four batch, increase accordingly if making more and feel free to add other flour if needed), pinch of salt and pepper, and 2 shakes of ginger
-1 egg beaten with 2 TB Chobani Plain Greek 2% (forms a thick coating, works nicely)
-Broccoli slaw
-cherry tomatoes
-sauce: I mixed greek yogurt and soy sauce, but think that soy, teriyaki, and/or sweet and sour would all be perfectly acceptable on their own

Heat your oven to 350.  Flip a muffin tin upside down, rub the wonton wrappers with just a little bit of oil, and put them between cups so that they form a taco shell form.  I put my two small muffin pans on my cookie sheet for easy grabbing.  Bake for ten minutes or until desired brown-ness.

With the egg mix in one bowl and the flour mix in another, dip the eggplant sections in first the egg and then the panko mix.  You can do a double dip if you like, I did not find that necessary with it being a panko coating.  Heat a skillet of shallow olive oil on medium and drop the eggplant pieces in when it is ready.

Fry for 5 or so minutes on each side or until they are nicely golden brown.  Mine may not look very golden brown but I had not eaten anything other than some donut holes for about nine hours so I was in no mood to wait.

Remove and drain any excess oil off on a towel.  Assemble the eggplant won-tacos and garnish with desired sauce, broccoli slaw, and slices of cherry tomato.

I have been wanting to make these for quite some time but wanted to wait until I was at my apartment to do so because I was not sure who else in my family would like them.  I had never had anything like them before, so I did not have a lot to go by.  After tasting these, my mom would definitely like them and would agree that sweet & sour sauce could be a fun flavor to put on these instead.

I need to learn to make my own sweet & sour sauce, because it is something I would not use very often at all.  But I digress.

Anyway these were really good but I was so hungry that I was sad I only made four.  They are fairly small, and if you think about it would be more like an appetizer at a restaurant than a meal.  So I would suggest making them with something, like rice for instance and maybe stir fry.  Or having dessert ready to go ;).

These will definitely be joining the ranks of my Meatless Monday Meals.  MM is only ever as boring as you make it, and there are a lot of great options for meatless dinners that are just as tasty and fun as their meaty counterparts.  Whether it is for environmental reasons, health reasons, or you just want to sneak some extra veggies under your children's radar, a good meatless dish can go a long way.  If you need to stretch an eggplant further, cube it and just put about 3-4 cubes on each taco, as then it will be easier to use some of the smaller parts of the eggplant and the edges. 

Happy crafting!

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Turning Drawings into Pendants

You Need:
-Trace Paper (or regular paper, but trace is cool for see through)
-Fine Line Black Pen
-Colored pencils
-Large glass pebbles
-Mod podge and glue

First, I drew out the outline of the circle on some trace paper.  Next, on one side I did the black linework (the side that would be against the pebble).   On the other side I did the color.  Cut it out when you are done coloring.  I used colored pencils and Copic Markers, but colored pencils only would be fine too.

If you want, you could do it all on one side if you are using a solid paper instead of a see-thru one.  What I like about trace paper is that it gives you hints of color but still shows skin or whatever background fabric beneath it, which can give you a variety of looks with the same necklace.

Next, I put a very thin layer of mod podge on the pebble and put the trace layer over it.  After giving the layer a few minutes, I put another layer of mod podge on the back of the layer to seal it.  You can easily make a bail by wrapping the pendant in wire and making a loop in a section of the wire where you can attach it to a necklace or jump ring.  The easiest way to do it is to put a little E6000 on the back when you have it positioned like you want it.

I love the idea that I can make anything I want with pretty basic things.  This would be a FANTASTIC way to make your own photo jewelry and some other really unique pieces.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Apple Berry Granola Bites: No Flour or Eggs

-1/2 C Chunky Applesauce
-1 C Oats
-1/2 C Dried Berries (I used Trader Joe's Golden Berry Blend)
-1 TB Honey
-1 TB Plain Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani 2% Plain which I now buy in the big tub because I use it so much!)
-1+ TB cinnamon (depends on your taste preferences, if you prefer things heavy on the spice you will need more)
-1/4 tsp ginger
-2 dashes of nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients until just blended.  Use a cookie scoop or similar to put even little mounds out, patting them down with the back of the scoop.

Bake for 10 minutes for a fairly soft  granola bite, or longer if you want them to be more crunchy.  Ten minutes on a dark sheet is absolutely perfect in my opinion.  They should be about a half inch thick or so.

I love the bright flavor in these, and it was a good use for a different brand of chunky applesauce that I tried and did not like as well.  If you are an oatmeal raisin cookie lover, you should consider putting raisins in instead and then adding more cinnamon.  I really think these could kill a cookie craving. 

The best part is, you can eat a couple of these without feeling guilty.  Now THERE is a little factoid that I can get along with.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Super Simple Jambalaya

-3 C Water with dash of salt and TB butter
-3/4 C Zataran's Jambalaya mix
-2 C minute rice
-1/3 lb smoked sausage, sliced
-8 large shrimp with tails removed

Bring water to boil.  Add Zataran's and minute rice and reduce to medium low.  Cook for about five minutes with lid and add the smoked sausage and shrimp. Stir it now and then to ensure that the rice does not scorch.  Reduce to a simmer, keeping the lid on, for another ten minutes. 

Put in a couple dashes of Frank's hot sauce.

Optional alternatives would be to dice up a tomato and add in the tomato with the shrimp, and also add about a half a cup of corn.  We both agreed this would be delicious additions to the dinner.

We also both agree that Zataran's is a little too strong.  There are actually a few things on the market that we think would work better if they were mixed with more ingredients.  Stove Top Stuffing, for instance, is too heavily herbed and mushy, but if mixed with more bread and similar would make a great seasoning for a large dish of stuffing.  

If you don't have a lot of desire to invest in all the spices and similar that you would need for jambalaya, or just want a quick easy version of a popular dish, this is a pretty good option.  We served it with some griddled cornbread.

Happy crafting!

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Homemade Dinner Mints

Butter Mints-
-1 Stick butter
-1 lb powdered sugar
-1+ tsp half and half
-1 tsp peppermint extract*

Chocolate Mints-
-1 pack candyquick
-1 tsp peppermint extract
-candy mold in desired shape

The chocolate mints are the simplest.  For each of these, you may need to use more or less peppermint extract based on what you have.  Ours was not all that strong (McCormick), and if you have pepper mint oil you may only need a few drops.

Anyway melt the chocolate according to package directions.  Before you get it all the way melted, add the extract and stir well.  Heat for another 15 seconds until it is completely melted.  I poured it in to chocolate brick shaped mold that pops out about 64 at a time.  They are shallow, similar to an Andes. You want to pour them into the mold, refrigerate for about five minutes or until set (but not too long or they will not be shiny) and then pop them out of the mold.

For the butter mints, you will mix the ingredients together to form a dough, adding just enough half and half to get it to form a ball.  You can either shape the mints by hand (which I did...for hours...) or you can pipe it through a bag fitted with a round tip.  Snip the dough with scissors or cut with a knife.

You could press it into a sheet and cut out shapes if you needed themed ones.  I would imagine that stars would be quite cute. Let them dry at least overnight, but preferably for 24-48 hours.

Happy crafting!

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Champion Chicken Dip: Healthy, Flavorful, and DELICIOUS

-1 C Chobani 2% Plain Yogurt
-1.5 C Shredded Chicken
-1/2 C Corn relish (find my recipe for it here )
-1 tsp Adobo Sauce from Chipotle Peppers
-2 tsp taco seasoning
-Salt to taste

You will need to mix all the ingredients and add salt as needed to get to your preferences.  If you like a little extra heat, feel free to up the adobo. If you are making this for a party, I suggest making it a 12 hours to a day in advanced so that the flavors have time to really come together.

I used chicken that my mom had made in a crockpot from a whole chicken.  Since it was bone-in it was super flavorful, and I just shredded it with a fork to get it into small pieces AND to make sure that there weren't any bones.

What I like about this dip is that it can (as you see here) be used on a roll as well like a spread. If you needed it to be thicker you could mix some low fat cream cheese in.  This would be the perfect party food to throw in a bread bowl or other bowl and serve with blue corn chips, pita sections, bread, and even veggies!

What I LOVE about this dip is that it does not involve mayo.  Don't get me wrong I adore mayo and I adore chipotle mayo, but it is also one of the first things I like to cut out of a recipe if at all possible.  Chobani has made that more than possible for me on many counts.  If you use Chobani 2% it is richer than using the fat free and it gives you a fantastic base to add to.  You won't even miss the mayo.

This is not a burn your tongue off recipe, but more one where the heat creeps up on you at the end.  It is in no way overpowering, but instead gives you that little kick to excite your taste buds.

I am very anti boring food.  And I am especially anti lunch meat every day! I want my lunches to be exciting, not another monotonous note in a day.  The way I see it, if I can get my taste buds excited AND have a healthy, tasty wrap or similar for lunch, why would I pass that up?

To put these on the rolls, I cut out wedges in pretzel rolls and used a spoon to scrape out some of the insides (like you might on a lobster roll or po boy sandwich).  I used a spoon to smoosh in the dip, making sure that it filled up the inside of the roll.  Pretzel rolls are great for this because they add a little extra salty flavor, and as long as you don't overdue the salt in your dip it is just the ticket.

I buy pretzel rolls at Meijer most often, but have recently discovered that Whole Foods sells them individually in their bakery.  Needless to say, you should be able to find some near you.

Pretzel rolls are on my ever growing list of things I want to try to make.

My goal is to eat healthy without eating boring.  I don't enjoy spending a lot of money on new clothes, so the longer I can stay the same size the better.  And, as always, I am a protein fiend...which is blatantly obvious when you discover my dessert was Chobani Blackberry!

Shameless plug for my favorite brand: Every new CHO I have tried so far is fantastic! My Meijer had the orange vanilla, key lime, and blackberry 4 packs which I see myself investing in a lot from now on, and I have a peachy pistachio on deck in the fridge.

I have been eyeing the coffee and dark chocolate bites...but I don't like coffee or dark chocolate...which could be a problem....

AKA I am going to try them anyway some day when I get spontaneous.

Chobani is actually why I called this a "Champion" chicken dip.  I loved the Chobani Champions yogurts that I tried, and they are what got me trying more flavors.  I consider any yogurt packing as good of stats in as tasty of treats as CHO-gurt does to be a champ. 

And it has the same CH as chicken.  Which makes me happy.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fresh Corn Relish

-Corn cut off of 3 cobs
-1/3 Chopped peppers, variety (we used some red, green, and purple)
-1/2+tsp adobo sauce (to your preferred spice level)
-1 tomato, diced
-1/2 TB taco seasoning
-1/3 C water
-1 TB butter

Turn a skillet on medium heat and add the water and the corn (if you need to prep the rest of the veggies).  If you already have everything diced and chopped and ready to go, you can throw all of the veggies in there plus the seasonings and butter and adobo sauce.

I let mine cook about 5-7 minutes without a lid on, mostly because I was chopping peppers and tomato at the time.

Put a lid over the pan and lower the heat (medium for us is about 6 and I turned it down to 3.5).  Cook for about ten minutes, or until the veggies are desired level of doneness.  I like my veggies a little on the soft side, so I tend to let mine steam a good bit.

You could also add in a little cilantro to the relish if you wanted, and onion may also be a good consideration.

I used these in shrimp tacos, the recipe that will be featured tomorrow...well, later today I suppose! :)

Sleep is for when I get back to college, for now there is baking to be done.

I thought this was really tasty, mostly due to some amazing fresh corn that a friend of the family gave us.  You really cannot beat homegrown vegetables.  My goal is to use this in my chipotle chicken salad to make some outstanding wraps for lunch this week.  I also think that in a rice dish, maybe with the adobo increased a bit, this would make a great "Mexican Stir Fry" type idea.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Toffee Pretzels

You need:
-1 bag of pretzel rods
-1 pack chocolate candiquick
-1 bag toffee pieces

This is so, so simple.  First off, I would like to suggest Rold Gold Pretzel Rods because they always seem to have the fewest broken pieces.

Anyway, melt the candiquick according to package instructions.  Dip the rod in by holding it at a slight angle, with the rod going diagonal across the melting tray, and spinning it to get chocolate all the way around.

If you have a really tall glass you can pour the chocolate in there and make life even simpler.

Dip 2-4 and then go back and put toffee bits on them.  You can do it right when they are done but they just don't stay as well.  I like to have a lot of good pieces on top.

I took one of the few broken pieces I had, dipped it in chocolate, and used it to drizzle chocolate over the other pretzels at the end.  It makes for a nice gourmet look.

These take hardly no time at all and make great party favors, bake sale things, gifts, and snacks.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Different Paper Floor Treatment Cover Options

As some may know if they have seen my post before the challenge started about the tiny little bathroom I did, the floor in that room was redone by using pieces of brown paper bags.

Basically, you crumble up pieces of brown bags or shipping paper and mod podge them to the floor.  I recovered some severely hideous tiles using this technique.  Typically you then stain it some color and put a couple of coats of polyurethane over it and just like that you have a cool new floor. 

Different degrees of crumbling the paper result in different textures, and you can easily come up with some unique designs.

Now, this was a room in my mom's house so I stuck with the typical stain, using a dark Minwax like Dark Walnut and English Toffee mixed throughout the floor.  In my opinion, no project should use just one color of stain!

However, had the room been something of my own, I think I would have gone with the other option I tried, which is painting it.  To make the gray side of this board, I used black, light gray, and white paint.

I used really hitech applicators called paper towels...seriously! I used them a lot like sponge painting.  I put thin lines of black across the board and then a few patches of gray not touching the black. 

I then put a little white on a paper towel and started to work with blending them.  Places that I wanted to highlight I added another few small spots of white.  Another really great addition to this would be putting some small pieces of silver metal flake in the paint to add just a touch of shimmer.

Once I had it almost where I wanted it, I brought a thin bit of black back over some places of the lines.  You can always use small paint brushes to get really specific results, but folded up and rolled up paper towels worked just fine for me.

Just like anything, you will need a couple of coats of polyurethane to make this a strong floor.  To me, this particular adventure resulted in something that looked a lot like a granite or gneiss mineral sample.  For reference, I was in geology first in college ;).

With the right design you could easily come up with a faux marble and you can always make it more heavy on the dark or light as desired. 

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Portobello Burger

You Will Need:
-Large Portobello Cap with the gills and stem removed
-Toppings: I used homemade frisco sauce, tomatoes, feta cheese

Put a little oil in a skillet and put the mushroom cap in.  Sprinkle a little seasoned salt over the mushroom. Let it cook for a few minutes.  Flip the mushroom over and put about 1/4 C of water in the skillet and put a lid on it.  Let it steam about 3 minutes or so.

Mushrooms cook up pretty quick.  I put mine on toasted wheat bread.  It probably looks a little strange in the picture because I had to tear off the end of the slices so that it would even fit in the toaster.

Bread should really be marked if it is toaster-friendly...
I made a Frisco sauce similar to Steak and Shake's using one container of Chobani Greek yogurt, 3 TB ketchup, a little bit of sweet pickle relish, a sprinkle of seasoning salt garlic and pepper. 

I put the Portobello cap on with the top down.  I topped it with feta and diced tomato.

I really liked this and it was a great light meal that still tasted hearty.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thin n Crispy Bacon Pesto Pizza with Mushrooms: The perfect quick crust

 Crust ingredients:
-1.5 C Flour (50/50 split between wheat and AP)
-1/16th C EVOO (I am sure there is equivalent TB that would make more sense but this is what I had on hand)
-Salt to taste
-1 TB locally sourced fantastic honey (I am clearly not biased)
-About 3/4 C lukewarm water
-1 tsp baking powder

-Pizza Sauce and Pesto
-Mozz cheese (large block, I get the 16 oz or so logs and use about 3/4)
-1 pack fresh sliced mushrooms (NOT those canned slimy ones, seriously)
- 1/4-1/2 lb bacon, fried to just crispy

Mix all of the crust ingredients together and add about a half cup of lukewarm water.  Continue to add water a little at a time, it should take about 3/4 C.  You want the ball to be moist, but not sticky.  If you go to far just knead a little flour in until you get it right.

Roll the dough out between two pieces of saran wrap to get it started.  Transfer the dough to a greased pizza pan (preferably with holes in it, I greased mine with more EVOO) and continue to gently stretch it.  If you have the dough just right, it should stretch really well without tearing thanks to the oil in it.  Also consider using infused oils.

After you have it stretched to the edges of your pizza pan, brush the top with a very thin coat of EVOO and sprinkle with garlic cheese topper and just a little bit of salt, and then bake it at 400 degrees for 9 to 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and switch it over to broil. 

Add your toppings to the pizza, swirling the pesto and the marinara.  Put the mushrooms, then cheese, then bacon.  Normally I would sprinkle a hint of garlic, salt, and pepper on my cheese to enhance the flavor, but for this pizza I would consider still doing the pepper if anything.  I chose to forgo that step for this one.

Broil until the cheese is desired brown-ness and then devour.

This was easily my most fantastic crust yet, and a darn good pizza to boot. I even got the seal of approval from my father after taking some to him.  That is three resounding yes-s.

I don't really like to wait for a crust to raise, and I keep forgetting to do my no knead crust.  I find with the no need that I prefer it at the 8 hour window, and any time past that it gets a little too yeasty tasting for me.  It is my crust of choice for stuffed crust, but for a fast pizza that does not cost a lot to make, you might just be hard pressed to beat this crust.

If you aren't using something like pesto that has a lot of herbs and such in it, feel free to put herbs in the crust.  It adds another level of flavor and works great with a lot of different toppings.

Happy crafting!

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Black and White Western Decorated Sugar Cookies

We did some western cookies for a barnyard birthday party, which was absolutely adorable since the little birthday girl had professional photos taken in a cowgirl hat.

To do these, we mixed up a fairly stiff white and black royal icing.  You want it firm enough to stay in place but soft enough to blend together and look like a solid layer.

I did the black outlines first.  For the boots I simply made curls up and out toward the sides, made a line up about a quarter inch, and then made another set of curls.  I also put small flares between the curls.

For the hats I just made a black band and did the black trim work.  I always like to give mine about five minutes or so to set before I come back in with the second color.  This gives the first color enough time to stabilize but not set so hard that the second doesn't want to blend together.

Also consider doing these boots in pretty color combinations such as brown and aqua to fit other party needs.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Peace Sign Tie-Dye Cake

 To make a tie-dye batter, I died white cake green, pink, yellow, and purple using regular icing coloring.  I ended up with a couple shades of the colors because I had to mix up colors twice.

First I took the pink and poured in a round bit of batter about 2 inches in diameter in the middle of the pan.  I poured a smaller (1 inch or so) circle toward one edge.  Then I took green and poured it partially over the smaller pink circle until it touched the larger. I kept doing various circles of colors in different sizes, pouring some in the middle of other circles and others more toward the edge to vary it out.

Then in the top I just squiggled some remainder colors in.  There is not a lot of need to be particular, because you are only going to see bits and pieces of each color at a time.  Just make sure that there is a lot of variation.

For the top of the cake I just piped out a green peace sign in stars.  Then I took four other colors and made swirled patterns in the open spaces.

It was a really fast cake that ended up as festive on the inside as it was on the outside!

Happy crafting!

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Barnyard Cake Pops: Sheep, Chickens, Cows, Pigs (oh my!)

Chickens: Sugar eyeballs, butterscotch chip for a beak, carved red chocolate disk

Pigs: 1/2 mini pink marshmallow for nose with black icing color nostrils, pink sugar eyes, 1/2 pink mini marshmallow for each ear, pinched to make a point and stuck on with extra chocolate

Cows: 1/2 mini marshmallow for nose with black icing color nostrils, sugar eyes, gumpaste/fondant or 1/2 marshmallow for ears, regular chocolate spots

Sheep: approximately 15 white mini marshmallows torn in half, 1 black chocolate disk for face, sugar eyes, 2 triangular pieces of black chocolate for ears

Basically all these cake pops are built up the same way, but with different accents.  I make my cake pops in my Babycakes Cake Pop Maker.  Next, I cut a cone out of them and fill them.  I cut the bottom 2/3 of the cone piece off and put the top back on to close up the hole.  I stick a cake pop stick in them and set them on a plate.

When they are all filled and on sticks on the plate, I pop the plate in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes.  Next, I melt chocolate (I started with white on these and did the pigs last) and pour it into a coffee mug. 

One by one I grab a cake pop out of the freezer, dip it in chocolate, and let the excess drip off.  You have to have all of your accents ready because the chocolate will set quickly.  While it is dripping off, I put the decorations on.  For the cows and chickens (and pigs later with the pink) I put the eyes and noses/beaks on right off the bat.  I also included the red accents on the chickens. For the sheep, I put the black disk on first, and then as many half mallows as possible. 

For all of the animals, I put the ears on by dipping the bottom down in chocolate and putting it on the cake pop.  I also had to do this with many of the mallows for the sheep, as well as the sheep eyes and ears.  With the cows, I dipped a spoon in a little regular chocolate after all the decorations were on and used the back of the spoon to spread it where I wanted it.  You could also use a good paint brush.

I like to stick mine in florist foam, which can be wrapped in paper if you want it to match a certain theme.   You can easily reuse the blocks if they are for something you are doing at your house.

As with many things, you need to be prepared to invest about 3 hours or so in these to get two dozen done.  They are time consuming, but they really are a work of art in their own googly-eyed sort of way.  I have also made turkeys and penguins before that have been a big hit at holiday parties.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Potato Bacon Grill Pack

-3-5 yellow flesh potatoes (depending on size) sliced
-3 slices of bacon (can cut into pieces)
-about 1/4th of a small onion
-1 TB butter
-Seasoned salt

You want to make a foil pack out of Reynolds wrap.  Make it two layers so that the grease does not go everywhere. 

Pop in all the ingredients and wrap it up.  In total, you will grill it about 25 minutes.  Get it going on the grill on the bottom, putting the side with the bacon down first so that when you flip it the grease will flavor the other ingredients.

Flip it after about 7-10 minutes.  You can move it to the top rack when you are ready to drop the meat.  Continue cooking, flipping again around the last five minutes.

This is a great way to have a variety of veggies with your grilled meal, with no dishes to wash!

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pesto Bacon Pasta Salad

-1 pack spinach tortellini
-1/4 C pesto
-1 C grape tomatoes
-bacon as desired
-1/4 C fresh grated parmesan

Cook the pasta according to directions, and get the bacon cooking.  You can leave the tomatoes raw if you want, or you can cook them. 

I chose to roast the tomatoes off on the griddle where I was cooking the bacon.  We LOVE using electric griddles.  I drizzled a little oil over them and added garlic, salt, pepper, and basil.

Let them cook until they blister, turning them occasionally. Cook the bacon until crispy and drain on paper towel or similar.

Drain the tortellini when it is done (most tortellini doesn't take long at all) and add in the pesto.  Cut the bacon into small pieces and add it plus the tomato and cheese to the pasta and mix around.  Salt to taste and chill.

I love to make pasta salads for lunch because you can use stuff like Greek yogurt in the sauces and add protein in and really get a filling lunch. This one does not have it, but the spinach tortellini in itself is more filling than some varieties. Whole wheat pasta works well for stuff like this as well.

Happy crafting!  Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pop Up French Braid

It is surprisingly simple to make a French braid pop up instead of the usual one.

Start braiding the same way as you would a regular one.  Separate a small section of hair into three sections.  Cross them over one another, left over middle, then right over middle.  Do this series two to three times.

After you have it started, cross the left side over the middle.  Pull hair from the right side, take it under the braid, and incorporate it into the section that you just crossed over.

Cross the right side over the middle next.  Pull hair from the left side, take it under the braid, and incorporate it into the section you just pulled.

Keep on doing this until your hair is all in place and ready to go.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mango Ice Cream: Champagne Mangoes in a Delicious Summer Treat

I am officially converted.  Champagne Mangoes are a far superior fruit.  Oh my...summer HEAVEN.

-7-8 very ripe Champagne Mangoes (I found a 5 lb box at SAMs Club) cut, peeled, diced, and then mashed well
-2 egg yolks
-3 TB honey
-2/3 C Sugar
-1 6 oz container plain Greek yogurt
-1/3 C AP Flour
-2 1/3 C Milk
-2 tsp ginger
-1 tsp vanilla
-3 C Half & Half

Mash up the mangoes like you mean it!  In a medium to large sized sauce pan on medium heat, add the mango, honey, sugar, flour, milk, ginger and give it a good stir to incorporate.  More explanation on why I chose the ingredients I did later.

In a small bowl (I used the one I had mashed the mangoes in) whisk the egg yolks briefly.  Once the base heats up (keep stirring it, by the way) add a tablespoon or so at a time to the egg mixture and mix well, adding until the eggs are about the same temperature as the base that is cooking. 

Once the eggs are tempered, add the egg mix to the base and stir stir STIR!  Continue to let it heat and come to a boil, I let mine boil for a minute or so.  It should thicken to the consistency of a somewhat loose gravy, but not go so far as to a full out pudding. Don't worry, the thinner consistency will work out just fine.

All in all I would say I cooked mine about 15 minutes, letting it come to a boil after about ten or so and then leaving it on and stirring as much as possible a few minutes after.  I added the vanilla once I was satisfied with the texture, and added the Greek Yogurt after I transferred it to another bowl.  The Greek just adds a little extra thickness, and you could increase the amount (and could use Chobani Mango Greek!) if you wanted.  You are freezing it in the end, so there is a lot more wiggle room than there is with a pudding.

Anyway, once you have it where you want it, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool for a while before popping it in to your fridge overnight.

The next day, transfer your mango mix to the chilled ice cream canister, add 3 cups of half and half, and freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions.  By mashing it, there were still yummy chunks and bits of tasty fantastic mango all throughout it. I absolutely love it.

Anyway, back to my choices on ingredients.  I opted to use some locally sourced honey from Whole Foods in this as opposed to using more sugar because I wanted it to be sweet, but did not need it to set like a pudding. I also really like honey in mango recipes.  The regular sugar I figured would help the base thicken up just a bit, much as sugar would in a jelly (though this small amount would obviously not be enough to get it to jelly status, but you see where I am going).

I added the Greek because as far as I am concerned, there is simply no reason not to add it in and make other healthy substitutions when you can.  Fruits and things like pumpkin that have rich, thick textures can handle a cut back in the fat and subs like yogurt, at least in my opinion.

Also, I don't particularly enjoy the film heavy cream leaves on the roof of my mouth, so I pounce on every opportunity to bypass it without sacrificing delicious flavor.  You can add a pinch of salt in if you like as well. 

These are by far the best mangoes I have ever had in my ENTIRE life.  I absolutely love them.  If you have not tried a champagne mango, you HAVE to find some nearby. 

Happy crafting!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

50th Anniversary Cake with the Wilton Book Cake Pan

I would argue that this is the most underrated pan in the Wilton Line.  There are so many cute things that are possible with the book pan, but one of the ways we use it is for anniversary cakes.

It's appropriate, you see, because of love stories and other such mush ;).

You can't help but love a 50th wedding anniversary cake because it reminds you that there are people out there who have been through so much together.

This was clearly a double 50th anniversary celebration, which in my opinion makes it a million times better. 

On the sides of the book, we used the ridged side of the largest Wilton tip that is used to ice cakes, the 798 tip.  If you don't own that tip I highly suggest it.  You want to press the tip up really close to your cake so that all the icing stays on, and pull the icing line at a slow but steady pace (for thicker icings especially). 

We piped around the edges of the cake, added yellow roses and green leaves, and made curly flourishes in each corner of the book pages.

Next we put each couple's names on a page with a scroll-y heart instead of an "&" as it seemed so appropriate.  It not only blatantly acknowledged the lovey theme of the event, but also was a nod to the thought of names being carved in trees and such. At least that is what it reminded me of.

Then we just stuck in a gold 50 and a congratulations sign, and it was ready to go.

If you know some other people that decorate, this pan is well worth buying as a group and sharing if you don't think you will use it enough to justify buying it.  I think it would be a GREAT cake for any milestones like graduations, anniversaries, going away parties, baptisms, etc. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Baked Apple Cake Donuts with Caramel Buttercream

Donut Ingredients:
-1 C chunky applesauce
-1/2 C brown sugar
-1/2 C white sugar
-1 6 oz container Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, 0% fat
-1/4 C melted butter
-2 eggs
-1 tsp almond extract
-a couple drops of lemon extract
-2 C self rising flour
-2 TB cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ginger

-1/2 C brown sugar mixed with 1 TB cinnamon

Icing Ingredients:
-15 Kraft Caramels, unwrapped
-2 TB butter
-1 tsp water
-1/2 C buttercream icing

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Mix applesauce, spices, sugars, and Greek yogurt.  Next, add the butter, eggs, and extracts.

Add in the flour and mix until it is just incorporated.

Grease two (three if you have them as it makes 18) Wilton Donut Pans, and fill the wells 3/4 full.  Top with a little sprinkle of the brown sugar cinnamon mix.

Bake for about 15 minutes, remove from pans and cool on a wire cooling rack.

When they are cool, put some Reynolds wrap or similar under the cooling rack, or keep it somewhere that will be easy to clean.

In a small ramekin or bowl, put the caramels, butter, and water.  Microwave for about 40 seconds, mix well, and then microwave for about ten minutes more.  When all of the caramel is melted, add the buttercream to it and mix well.  This will make an ooey-gooey topping that will stay pretty soft, but still have a hint of that amazing stickiness that caramel has.  It will to an extent seep into the cake after a day or so, so if you need it to stay put add powdered sugar and whip it up until it becomes more like an icing.

These.  Were.  FANTASTIC.  I can no longer make them as we cannot be trusted with them, they will be reserved for parties and bake sale.

I had to go take a dozen (the recipe makes 18) to my dad that way I would not eat them all.

The rest of them got DEVOURED overnight.

But I danced some on my xbox game, so that pretty much counteracts it...right?

These taste a lot like a cupcake, so if you like caramel and apples and cake these will be right up your alley.  I highly suggest having someone in mind that you can give them to because they are a wee bit addicting in the best way possible. Or eat them all and enjoy every single bite!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pink and Zebra Sweet 16

We got to do another fun sweet 16 cake.  This pink, white, and zebra cake is done completely in buttercream with edible accents (except the sweet 16 candle).  We are not big fans of fondant, and I see no reason to do it when it is something that is 100% pipe-able like zebra. 

The main thing to remember in zebra is that the stripes are close together.  Don't space them out super far.

To do the flourishes like what is on the top layer, I do a series of lines and curves, about 4 wide, and then use a wider writing tip to make pearls.  This covers up the series of lines and adds depth to the flourishes.

There are black sixlets in the piping flowers, which were made with the big star tip for the large decorating set.

The zebra was piped in tiny stars, all of the linework is done with the same tip, because I pretty much never change mine.

The letters are done in chocolate.

It is a cake that will not only look great, but taste great too!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Portobello Parmesan: Meatless Monday MAGIC!

-2 large Portobello mushroom caps
-1 C flour with pinch of salt and pepper
-1 egg
-1/3 C milk
-1 C panko
-oil for frying

Set out three bowls.  Mix the egg and milk in one bowl, the flour in the second, and the panko in the third. 

Rinse the Portobello caps off and do not dry.  If you need to get the stems and black stuff off the bottom of the cap, use a spoon to scrape them off. Dip the mushroom in the flour, then the egg mixture, and then the panko.

Fry the mushrooms until golden brown on each side.

Top with mozzarella and broil for a few minutes until the cheese starts to melt (or don't worry about it because you are way too hungry to wait for that mess).

Serve with spaghetti and sprinkle a hint of fresh shredded parmesan (far superior to the parme-dust in the bottle).

Breaded portobellos will also make absolutely delicious sandwiches if you want something hearty like a burger but meatless.  The non-breaded version makes a great pizza base!

Happy crafting!
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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Homemade Banana Pudding

-1 box of vanilla wafers
-2 bananas (more if small)

Pudding Ingredients:
-4 egg yolks
-2/3 C AP Flour
-Pinch of salt
-5 C milk (I used whole)
-2 Cans sweetened condensed milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp banana extract

Mix flour, salt, milk, and sweetened condensed milk together.  Put in a large saucepan over medium heat.  While it starts to heat, use a fork to whip the egg yolks in a bowl. Stir the pudding base nearly continuously.

Once you have the yolks mixed and the pudding base is starting to get hot, add a small amount (tablespoon or so) to the eggs and stir vigorously.  Keep doing this to temper the eggs so that they will not scramble.

When you have added enough to heat them up close to the base temperature, add them to the base while stirring.

Continue to cook on medium heat until it reaches desired thickness. Remove from heat and add in extracts. Chill overnight.

Now, my pudding took a little longer than expected to come to the thickness I wanted because I used one can of SCM and one substitute (1 can evaporated milk plus 1.25 C sugar).  If you are using two SCM, it may thicken faster since it will be somewhat more thick to begin with.

To make the banana pudding dessert, get a glass 9x13 baking dish.  Put a layer of the pudding on the bottom (using approximately half or a little less).  Add a layer of vanilla wafers and banana slices.  Top with remainder of pudding, and line the edges of the pan with wafer cookies (I broke mine in half for the top).  Top with a whipped topping if you like, or crush up more wafers and sprinkle on top.

I hit mine with the tiniest dash of nutmeg.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Patriotic Marbled Jelly Roll Cake

 I used the cake part of the Taste of Home recipe found here: 
I noticed a lot of similar recipes only used 3 eggs with very similar proportions of the remaining ingredients, and I do think this batter was a bit on the egg-y side. I used almond flavor in my cake.

Anyway, scoop out a little of the batter into two separate bowls.  I put about 1/4 C in a smaller bowl to dye blue and about 1/2 C in a larger bowl to dye red.  The rest of it I left white.

 Now, let me just say that I actually baked mine in a larger pan than what I was supposed to, not realizing that what I have been calling my jelly roll pan is actually 2 inches longer and an inch wider than what jelly roll recipes call for (15x10).  If you end up with this problem, I would just draw out the correct size on the parchment paper underside and pour within those boundaries, cutting off any thin and crispy edges after baking.

I put the white layer down first to form my base.  Next, I used a spoon to drizzle really large V's in blue across the cake.  Then I made upside really large V's in red across the cake.  I kept doing this pattern, putting red where blue was before and similar, with smaller V's in more rows until I used all of my colored batter.
 If you wanted a chevron cake, you could spoon the colors into lines across the cake and drag a knife side to side through the layers, first to the right then a little further up to the left, and so on.  You could pretty easily do things like zebra print as well. 

When the cake comes out let it cool about 5 minutes, gently flip it over onto a powdered sugar-dusted flour sack dish towel.

By doing the design on the top instead of doing the design first and filling the batter over it, the outside of your cake is on the powdered sugar without having to do multiple flips.

Roll it up and let it cool completely on a wire rack.  Unroll it after it is cool and ice it as desired.  I put white buttercream and a blueberry jam filling in this one.
Roll it back up, cover in plastic wrap (keeping the seam side down), and refrigerate overnight. 

If the powdered sugar has not dissolved into the cake by the time I get home like I think it will, I will most likely either take a barely damp towel and wipe it off or make a glaze to pour over it so that the colors show through.

Happy crafting, and a very happy Fourth of July! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Flower Petal Cupcakes

You want to use a rose tip for this one.  I used a butter knife to put streaks of color up the sides of an icing bag and then filled it with yellow.

With the wide end down, pipe 1/3 circles (think rainbows) onto the cupcake to make a petal.  Start a little further in around the edge, curve out, and then curve back in to end the petal (piping with as constant pressure applied as possible, unless you want wave petals).  You can make them lay down or stand up depending on your icing stiffness and how you lay your tip.

Do these  petals around the entire cupcake, building layers on each other as you work your way in.

Finish with an edible pearl or sixlet.

Happy crafting!

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Spicy Sweet Berry Adobo Sauce

-1/3 C pomegranate juice
-1/4 C diced mixed berries (I did blueberry and strawberry)
-1 TB honey
-1tsp lemon juice
-1.5 tsp adobo sauce
-1 tsp ketchup
-1 TB butter
-pinch of salt

I cooked the berries and juice on medium high with the honey and lemon juice. I let it cook about ten minutes until it started getting darker. Next, I added the adobo sauce, ketchup, and salt and butter.

I reduced the heat and let it simmer while I cooked some thin pork tenderloins.

This sauce was incredibly delicious and a thinner sauce. It
was reminiscent of bronco berry sauce that I used to get with poppers at Arby's! If it was made with raspberry, it would be a very close product to that.

It would be fantastic on fried chicken, and I think sweet potato fries would also taste delicious in it. I plan on drizzling it over pulled pork nachos for the 4th of July Festivities we are having.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!