Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mango Bread

-1 C AP Flour
-1.5 C Oats
-3 tsp baking powder
-1 mango, finely diced
-2 shakes of ginger
-1/2 C sugar
-1/4 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 C Milk
-1/4 c vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 375 and grease a loaf pan (mine was my Rachael Ray Oven Lovin 9" pan).  I mixed all of my wet ingredients first in my kitchenaid, then added in the dry right on top of it. 

I am not one who is much for separate bowls for anything.

I baked mine for about 30 minutes in my gas oven, but I would plan on 30 being a minimum.  The top of it should start to brown, and I toothpick tested mine since it was more like a muffin type thing than a doughy bread. 

Cool on a rack and enjoy this hearty, tasty bread. 

This recipe does not make a highly spiced one, so depending on your taste preferences you may want to add more ginger.  Mango is a really deep, rich fruit in my opinion, I like to think of it as the butter of fruits.  If you want this bread to be more sweet and dessert-like, I would suggest adding in coconut to make a tropical escape bread. 

This would also make great muffins as well!

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Fudge

-3 C sugar
-1.5 sticks butter
-5 oz can evaporated milk
-1/2 jar of Marshmallow fluff mixed with enough peanut butter to make it a full jar (I would guess about a cup, I honestly did not measure...)
-1 tsp vanilla

This is adapted from the recipe on the back of marshmallow fluff jars.  I originally thought that by mixing in the peanut butter it would taste like a fluffernutter does...hence the mini marshmallows on top.

Yea it just tastes like peanut butter.  BUT it does taste fantastically rich and brilliant for peanut butter so it still has its merits.

Anyway just line a 9 inch pan with foil.  You will want to boil the butter, sugar, and milk at a rolling boil for about 4 minutes, always stirring.  I would personally suggest using a candy thermometer and waiting til it reaches 234F, again stirring constantly. 

I did not have a candy therm and I don't think I boiled mine quite long enough, just shy of it.  Mine was soft but still firm enough to handle and devour.  It was also my first time making fudge.

Anyway then you will remove it from the heat and add the fluff and peanut butter and vanilla, pour it into the pan, and let it cool.

I have a really humid apartment because I am one of those strange souls that can function without the AC going 24/7.  Definitely keep in mind that fudge can take a good long while to set, even overnight.  I had let mine set, and it was still a little soft after an overnight cooling.  My mom suggested cutting it into squares so to increase the surface area that air could get to and help the setting process.  I did that and it helped, and then eventually I popped mine in the fridge part for storage purposes, part for firming purposes, and partly just because I wanted my jelly roll pan back (I had put all of my cut pieces on there).

Anyway, the taste is amazing, I would leave off the goofy marshmallows on top they really did not pan out as well as I had hoped. 

I have been wondering what something like almond butter would taste like in a recipe like this.  I have personally never had it and it would have to be amazing to justify the cost, but I am just a curious sort.  Although, as soon as I quit slacking and start getting back on track I will own a food processor and can make my own almond butter.

It's on the agenda.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Strawberry Crisp (using frozen berries leftover from a sale)

 For a small (2 serving) Dish:
-about 1 C strawberries, thawed (I left mine whole)
-Lemon juice or extract
-1 tsp honey
-Dash of ginger
-1/4 (or equal parts if increasing the recipe) oats, almond flour, and brown sugar combined (fine to use regular flour if you don't have almond flour)
-About 1 TB or so of butter

Once the berries are thawed you will want to drain them and then toss them in a the honey and lemon.  Just a squeeze of lemon is needed, or a drop or two of extract.  It really helps them have a bright fresh flavor.  You don't necessarily have to add in ginger, but a little hint of it is a berry's best friend in my opinion.
Preheat your oven to 350 and layer the berries first and then the oat mixture.  I would suggest melting the butter and pouring it on, but I don't have a microwave just yet and could not make that happen.  I left mine as pats on there, and it still turned out alright although mine did not adhere into a hard topping.

Strangely enough some of my brown sugar stayed in its clumps instead of properly melting.  I will attribute this to mine coming in contact with too much humidity in my apartment.  I should probably have put it in something a little better than a Ziploc bag.  The great thing about a crisp is that even if it doesn't turn out is still delicious.

Bake for about 22 minutes, I would highly suggest something better than a glass dish. I do not have any ramekins here or small metal pans of any sort (although I guess I could have used my loaf pan but I just now realized that).  I have never been a fan of baking in glass, and things never seem to get done as properly.

Again though, even a slightly off crisp is very tasty!

Like I said the berries had a really bright flavor in this, and this one was EXCEPTIONALLY good cold the next day.  In fact, I think I liked this one even better cold than I did hot.  An apple one? Way better hot.  But this one was even more flavorful when it got nice and chilly in my fridge.

Crisps are a great way to use those berries that you buy too many of when the store has them on sale for a dollar and they are starting to go bad in your fridge...I am sure none of you are so drawn in by fruit sales that you buy more than you can use, of course ;).  That is surely only an error in my shopping tendencies!

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tortellini Pasta Salad: Feta, tomato, flavored oil

-1 to 1.5 C tri-color tortellini (I get mine in big packs from SAMs, divide into smaller bags and freeze)
-1 roma tomato, diced
-1/4 C Athenos Feta Cheese crumbles (I used fat free)
-2 TB flavored oil of choice (I used a sun dried tomato basil)

I cooked my pasta, which the kind I get only takes about 5 minutes to get done, and drained it.  All it was a matter of then was tossing it all together, putting a pinch of sea salt on it, and chilling it overnight so I could take it for lunch the next day.

Now.  This recipe is good for sure.  But it would be BETTER with bacon crumbled up in it.  This tortellini is really cheesy and good but if it was partnered with BACON it would be fantastic.

If you get a tortellini that does not already have some herbs mixed in, then you might consider adding some extra basil or similar depending on how flavorful your oil is.

But seriously...bacon.

I always have to come up with some pretty creative lunch ideas because I cannot stand lunch meat.  I mean once in a blue moon I will eat a bologna sandwich if I have cheesy Ruffles (worst possible choice I know) but I cannot, and will not, eat sandwiches consistently for lunch.  So between chipotle chicken salad, pasta salads like this, and fruit salsa I have managed to find quite a few lunch options that are not contingent upon me using a microwave!

And I do so love flexibility.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cheesy Chipotle Corn Muffins

The recipe I adapted this from can be found at

I halved the original recipe, so double or increase this as needed:
-1/2 C Corn Flour (I use Maseca)
-1/2 C AP Flour
-1/2 TB baking powder
-1/4 C frozen corn
-1/2 C milk (I used whole milk)
-1/2 C Colby jack cheese (original uses cheddar)
-1 egg
-1/2 TB honey
-2 TB butter, melted (I actually melted my butter by pouring about 2 tsp of boiling hot beef stock over it as it was going with my meal, so mine did have just a touch extra liquid)
-1/2 chipotle pepper, minced
-1 tsp adobo sauce (significantly less than the original, can be adjusted according to taste preferences, I like hints of chipotle)

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease a muffin tin.  I mixed my dry ingredients first, and mixed the butter (melted with stock, I don't actually have a microwave with me just yet), honey, adobo, and pepper.  I then added the egg, butter mix, corn, and cheese into the dry.  It should be on the stiff side for a batter.

I divided the batter evenly between the 6 muffin wells and baked for 20 minutes in a dark nonstick pan.  Depending on your pan and your oven they may take a little longer.  I toothpick tested mine just to make sure they were done.  20 minutes was spot on perfect for my oven (gas oven). 

You may want to up the spices in these, but I really thought they were tasty! I like the texture of these as they were a little more on the soft and moist side like a cake.  The addition of the corn is NON NEGOTIABLE! :)

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Bubble Guppie Cake

An interesting thing to do with tall cakes is to put edible images on the side of them to look like murals.  This cake is actually 3 layers tall, and has multiple edible images around the sides.

The rest of the cake is decorated with white chocolate letters and sea shells.  These are really fast and simple to make using candy molds.  If you want to add a little color without having to dye the chocolate, you can mix up a little edible pearl dust with vodka and paint over them.

By setting the cake on a blue foil covered board, you get more of an under the sea type of feel.

The sides of this cake were sprayed blue with edible color spray.  This helps give the sides a varied look without having to dye icing blue, which takes a lot of color and can be quite messy.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

HEAVEN in a Pan: Caramel Apple Cake (a caramel cream cheese icing!)

-1 Box cake mix and required amount of oil and eggs (I HIGHLY suggest using Duncan Hines, it is more moist.  I used Betty Crocker today and I was not nearly as content with the texture)
-1 C CHUNKY applesauce (I really like Meijer's best)
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ginger
-dash of nutmeg
-1/2 jar* caramel ice cream topping (I have decided I like Hershey's best)
-1 block reduced fat cream cheese
-1 lb powdered sugar

Mix the cake mix, oil, egg, applesauce, and spices together.  Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan and pour in, baking as per box instructions.  Well, as per instructions unless you are using a dark nonstick in a gas oven.  Mine always seems to bake much faster here than at home, so you may want to just keep an eye on it as it gets within the last few baking minutes. 
 When the cake is done (I use the toothpick test method) you can pull it out and use the back of a wooden spoon or a knife to stab a few holes in it, just like you would a poke cake.  Spread/drizzle a thin layer of caramel over the cake while it is hot. 

With the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese and about 3 TB of caramel together until incorporated.  Mix in the powdered sugar.  You may find that you need a little bit of water to thin it back out a little.  I added just a half tablespoon or so of warm water to mine, as I had no concern if it ended up setting later and wanted a soft icing.

When the cake is COMPLETELY cool, top with the caramel cream cheese icing. Use a knife or similar to drizzle more caramel on top.  I swirled the knife around the jar a few times and then pulled it out quickly and let it drizzle around on the cake.  It is not exact science. The only thing you need to know is that everybody loves a caramel drizzled dessert.
It is really up to you how much caramel you put under and on top of the icing of course, which is why I put the * next to that ingredient. 

I made the cake the night before a party and put it in my refrigerator in one of my cake carriers.  I was fortunate enough that my cake pan fits perfectly in my bright green cake carrier.  I was so ready to give that thing a good toss (I only paid $5 for it, nothing fancy) but now that I know my pan fits it...whole new ball game.  I can take yummy pans of yumminess anywhere!

It is really ironic because I actually don't even like caramel apples, I think they are hard to eat.  However, if you put them in a cake they are very simple to DEVOUR.  I left the remaining slices with my friend but brought one slice back that I intended on eating tomorrow at work...

Yea, all great and good except I ate it in my car on the way home.  True story.  Guess I could pour some of the caramel on applesauce and pretend it is the same...

This cake got rave reviews, and it was a nice change of pace for me.  We spend a lot of time doing fancy cakes with beautiful decorations and so on and they are both beautiful and tasty, but I also think that some of the best cakes come out of 9x13 inch pans.  There is something really comforting about the classics, the pineapple upside down cakes and oatmeal cakes and whatever else cakes of the world.  They are the family reunion type cakes, tradition-bearing cakes, the things that really take you back to your childhood.  And let's face it...they don't take 3 hours to decorate.


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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mango Toast: A Heavenly Nutrient-Packed Breakfast of Champions!

You will need:
-2 slices of Eurograin bread, I found loaves of it at Meijer in their bakery and oh boy, it is delicious.  A good hearty multigrain with seeds would be an alternative if you live somewhere without this bread or Meijer
-1 mango, diced and smooshed (a technical term)

So anyone who knows well would know that I don't do well on stuff like cereal or cinnamon rolls alone for breakfast.  I have to have protein or within about 2 hours I am not a very happy camper.

So I figured I would get up this morning, toss something together, and go grocery shopping because I was out of eggs and many other things.  Imagine my surprise when I return home from shopping hours later (I also was dress shopping for a wedding) and am tucking things away in my cabinets, then take a nap.  All in all this encompasses, oh maybe 6 hours or so...

And I was not on the verge of breaking down or throwing a temper tantrum.. Why, you ask? Mango toast.

Mash the mango like you mean it and pop that toast in the toaster.  Mid-range setting for a nice brown without being burnt.

Spread the mango mash out on the toast, drizzle with honey, and give it just a little shake of ginger.

Rule #1 of my entire existence: Ginger is the best friend of nearly all fruit.

True story.  I use it weekly. 

Eat your scrumptious toast and marvel at how delicious it is, like a fresh jam, and get your day off to a fantastic start.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Cheesy Quinoa Hash and Shrimp

 Yes, alright.  I am on a quinoa kick.  So badly, in fact, that I really wanted to spell kick with a q...  Regardless.

-1 C cooked quinoa (mines was leftover from when I cooked it in stock and seasoned it with herbs de provence from my nifty spice rack)
-1 C chopped baby lettuce blend (or spinach, something leafy)
-1/2 C diced tomato
-1/2ish C shredded cheese (I used fresh mozzarella)
-1 heaping TB Greek Yogurt (for me, this is ALWAYS Chobani 2% Plain)

Now, with a little tweaking this has the potential to be a quinoa burger or patty, but I sadly had no egg.  I wanted to see if Greek would hold it together.  It was close, but it did at least end up as a good hash! If I were going to make it a patty I would use an egg and a little corn flour in it, as I think that would be a good texture though I could be wrong.
 Anyway, plop that all in a bowl and give it a good mix. Put it into a skillet greased with butter and press it down with the back of the spatula.

I let mine cook about 5 minutes or so and then went through and flipped it.  For the first bit of cooking it lets off a lot of moisture, but it will eventually start to dry up and really begin to brown and crisp.  Salt and pepper it after you have pressed it in.

In another skillet, put about a TB of butter in and start cooking the shrimp.  I tend to let them cook a few minutes, then add in some water, and then steam them a few more minutes.

Once my quinoa mix started to look like it was drying out, I used my spatula to section it into quarters in the pan.  I did this so that I could flip sections as the cheese crisped and they would stay together better.
When your shrimp is done, remove all the yummies from heat and start fixing up your delicious dinner.

I ate mine as a cake essentially with shrimp on top, drizzled with a loose cream sauce.  It am a person who tends to roll with it when cooking, as sometimes things just don't exactly go as planned.  I was making fettucini earlier this week and was just too hungry to patiently wait for my sauce to I ended up with a much thinner variety.  But no matter!

Feel free to use a regular fettucini sauce on this, or one thinned down with just a dash of milk.
I was very hungry after crashing for about a 2 hour nap (my usual) so I ate it with a side of toast and some berries.  Two notes here:

1) The Eurograin bread from Meijer is FANTASTIC you have to try it.  It is in their bakery and it is as good as the bread I was thriving on over the summer from Trader Joe's!

2) The next time you eat raspberries, drizzle them with just a touch of honey and add a light shake of ginger.  Seriously, it turns them into the most decadent little healthy dessert.

Feta cheese would also be delicious in this hash conglomeration.  I have been sorely unhappy with some of my own cooking this week, just hitting a few high points here and there, but this meal tonight really connected. It takes a bit to transition back to my kitchen and a completely new schedule.

I have two cakes left of the hash (I kinda smooshed two together and made a pig of myself for dinner) and I am considering turning them in to the base of an egg's benedict.  You know...once I get more eggs...I tried it for the first time over the summer and I was very much in love.

You could use any meat really in this, top them with grilled chicken or serve this with another fish.  They would even be delicious as a side on their own.  If you have not tried quinoa yet I really think you should give it a go, as it is loaded with nutrients and just adds a little variety to life.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nature Inspired Wedding Cake

This is going to be a real quick post as it is a design idea and not so much a process blurb.  Well, that and the fact that I am both 1) immensely tired from my first week back at college and 2) obsessed with Dr. Who and losing sleep to watch another episode.

True story. Just started watching it and I love it.

Anyway for this cake we did white scrolling on one side and a floral cascade on the other.  To make life a little simpler in a more complicated way, I piped the scrolling on the whole cake first and then went back over some of it in brown once I got a good idea of which side needed to be which and where decorations would be.

The flowers are a mix of lavender drop flowers, blue roses, and lighter blue gumpaste flowers.

To get the color of a dark periwinkle for the gumpaste, I mixed sapphire blue and lavender pearl dust in vodka to paint them.  The purple was not all that great, but mixed with the blue it made a perfect color.

There are also two shades of green leaves on the cake for some variation.

This stand makes it simple to cut a cake as it does not require layers to be taken apart.  By making a cascade it visually connects the layers and actually adds another level of decoration that can be put on.  It is definitely an easy to get along with stand.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mushroom Quinoa "Dressing": A Meatless Monday Spoof on a Thanksgiving favorite

Now, let me first say mine was only pseudo meatless because I used stock to cook it with.  You may use a veggie stock or water and it will be back to meatless.

-1 C Quinoa and 2 C liquid (I suggest a stock of some sort, I used a pork stock, but water with a little butter and salt will do)
-1/2 TB Herbs de Provence (OR a combination of the herbs that you use in your stuffing recipe.  I did not have sage, and this spice mix has it in there along with thyme, marjoram, basil, rosemary, and others)
-1 small pack of mushrooms, sliced
-Optional parmesan cheese

Cook the quinoa in the stock according to package directions, adding in the herbs directly to the liquid to cook with it.  Like I said, I used pork stock.  I had a lot left from making pulled pork in the crockpot, and I wanted this to have a really rich flavor.  Add a dash of salt in the cooking liquid as well.

Sautee the mushrooms in a little butter and a teeny tiny tad of onion pieces until they reach the desired doneness.  As for me, I like to sautee them a while, then add a couple tablespoons of water to the skillet and pop a lid on it so they will steam.  You may prefer them a different way, in which case by all means go with that.  I cook mine with just a little salt and pepper. 

A tiny smidge of onions, in my opinion, is a necessary component to making a mushroom eat more like a meat.  I always sautee mine in butter with onion pieces that I keep frozen and on hand at all times. Mushrooms are hearty little guys, and they make a good filler in things like pastas, on pizzas, and similar.

Anyway when the quinoa is done, I added the mushrooms in and actually topped it with a little parmesan.  Fresh grated is the only acceptable parmesan in my opinion (I really don't like the dust, although I will use Pizza Hut's blend sometimes if I am in a crunch).  Taste it and add just a sprinkle more of the herbs if you want it more heavy, and if you are like me you will want to give it a hit of salt.

I ended up making way too much quinoa and practically used half my bag of it, so if you are a solo soul I would highly suggest cutting the recipe in half.  I will find a creative use for the rest of that quinoa though, and am sure it will not go to waste.

I think this recipe would be best with a little more sage in it, but as I said I just did not have it available.  Definitely consider using isolated spices (sage, thyme, maybe marjoram) if you have them, but if not the herb blend is amazing in a pinch!

I consider this dish to be healthy comfort food.  I plan on buying some sage and tweaking it a little the next time I make it, and make even turn it in to some baked casserole type deal.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Crispy Fried Eggplant

-1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced (about 1/2 inch slices or so)
-2 eggs, whipped up
-Panko bread crumbs
-Salt and pepper
-Oil for frying

This recipe comes from my mom.  I love going home every few weekends while I am at school because A) I love to see my family and B) I am personally terrible at frying.  Don't get me wrong, we don't always have fried food.  But if we do, we want it to come from mom!

It isn't that I can't fry, I definitely am qualified. I more so just can't stand to do it because I don't really do all that well with hot grease and popping and it sometimes just turns into a bit of a frantic panicky mess.  I do skillet fry things every now and then however, preferably with butter...

Anyway, you want to pour out some panko on a plate, typically I whip up eggs in a bowl and dip things directly in them, unless I am doing longer fish filets in which case I adjust my battering devices.

Salt and pepper the eggplant once you have it peeled and sliced.  Get oil heating in a frying pan, a couple inches or so (amount varies depending on size and how many of these you want to throw in at once but enough that something could submerge in it).  Dip the slices in egg and next panko and fry until golden brown.

If you cut things real real thin you can do them in a skillet, but thicker slices end up kind of funky on the sides.  You want the thing you are frying to cook fairly evenly, so it can kind of be an all or nothing deal. Sometimes you just have to break out the bottle of oil and pour like you mean it.

Fried eggplant is a delicious side item for burgers or pretty much any meal as far as I am concerned, and it makes a great meatless option for things like eggplant parmesan.  You could eat it on a fancy fried eggplant sandwich if you like.

As for me, I just grab a fork and devour it as is, no fancy needed. 

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Nature Inspired Turtle Groom's Cake

This was easily the most fun groom's cake we have done. First off, I love turtles.  Second, it is a caramel apple cake and I loved that the bride chose a unique and fun flavor that her guy loved.

Anyway, to do this cake we made the bottom tier 2 layers and the top one a single.  We did not want it to look too much like it was trying to be a second wedding cake, but at the same time a flat cake would have been dull compared to the cake this had to sit next to.

I used the Wilton grass tip to make various heights of grass around the top and bottom of each layer in two different colors.

Using the #4 writing tip, I made cattails up the side of the bottom by drawing a single, slightly arched line and then drawing a hotdog shape near the top. I filled in the hotdog to make the top of the cattail, which is a pretty fun statement when you think about it.

I used that same tip to put some scrolled brown lines on the top tiers, which mirrored some details of the main cake.

I next went and added leaves in two colors of green around the cake, as well as lavender drop flowers. I iced little rosebuds on top of the cake by piping a small flat section directly onto the cake and lapping another layer back over it to make a flattened half loop.  Then I put one petal from each direction piped over that.

Finally, I added in some gum paste flowers that were also used on the cake.  This way, the two cakes had a lot of the same details and coordinated, but clearly stood apart as well. 

A cute little turtle, inspired by a memory from the couple's early dating, finished the cake off.  It was every bit as delicious as it was cute.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Creamy Fruit Salad (Chobani and Honey base!)

-1 pack of raspberries
-2 mangoes, peeled and cubed
-1 navel orange, flesh cubed
-1.5 C grapes
-1/2 C Chobani 2% Plain Greek Yogurt
-2 TB honey
-2 shakes ginger
-1 Pack of true lime (or lime zest, I was out of fresh limes and True Lime is AMAZING!)
-4 drops lemon extract (or a squirt of lemon juice)

Chop the fleshy parts of the mangoes and orange into small cubes. Add them and the other fruit (whole) to a bowl.  In another small bowl, combine the Greek Yogurt, honey (always buy locally sourced!), ginger, lime, and lemon extract.  Mix well. 

I mix it in a separate bowl so that it combines better and does not cause me to break apart my raspberries more than needed.

Add the Greek mix to the fruit and fold together. Chill overnight.

I would just like to say that the Greek mixture was good enough to eat by itself.  Tasty! I wanted to make up a few things tonight that I could eat on throughout the week.  The Meijer here had amazing prices on raspberries and other fruit, so it was a perfect way to make up a quick side.  This tastes like some versions of Ambrosia I have had, mostly due to the inclusion of the orange, but it is substantially yummier in my opinion.  And it does not have the heavy cream in the base, another bonus.  You could even add in some slivered almonds for a little crunch!

Meijer for me is proof that a good produce section can completely change your shopping pattern.  I used to shop at Wal-Mart when I was in my undergrad because I was in a town without a Meijer.  At Wal-Mart, I always shop back to front, which puts produce last.  At Meijer, my shopping trip and weekly meals focus on the produce section.  Even though I meal plan ahead to get a general idea of what I want to buy for the week, I always am ready to adjust on the fly when something like a pack of raspberries pops up for A DOLLAR.  The quality and prices of fruit are exceptionally good at the Meijer where I am now.

Raspberries, especially, have some impressive health stats and nutrients, so I highly suggest capitalizing on them when they are on sale.  They are a good snack in and of themselves, but this fruit salad is a great way to have a little variety in a waistline-friendly sort of way. 

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mom's Potato Soup

-2 C potato, cubed
-3 Tb butter
-2 TB very finely chopped onion
-Salt, pepper
-2.5 C Milk (cream if you want it heavier)
-Potato flakes if needed (for thickening)

Boil the potatoes with 2 TB butter, onion, salt, and a little pepper until they are tender.  Drain all but 1/4 C of the water, add the remaining TB of butter and return to a boil.

Add in the milk, cooking on medium heat, and stir until heated.  Add in 1/2 C of Colby jack cheese and potato flakes as needed to thicken.  Mom adds them 1 TB at a time until it gets to the right texture, usually adding about 3-4.  Serve when it is thickened to your liking.

Let me tell you the SECRET to the most fantastic soup we have made and eaten to date when it comes to potato soup: Spiced gouda cheese.  Now, that probably sounds really mind boggling and strange but potato soup sometimes doesn't have a real high level of pizzazz in the flavor department.  It is good, there is no doubt about that, but it doesn't always leave the taste buds tingly.

Adding in a tad of spiced gouda will do that.  It has a combination of peppers in it and it is warm like pepperjack but rich and creamy at the same time.  It is perfect!  You just need a little sprinkle of it to really make the soup stand out.

We topped this with the homemade croutons from a post a few days ago.  Other considerations are to add in a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of bacon bits to make it a loaded potato soup. 

I am back in the college land armed with a list of recipes I want to try and crafts I want to tackle, so the shenanigans will most certainly keep on rolling.  I am fresh off a fantastic internship experience and just over a day away from starting a new graduate assistantship, and I am really enjoying this kickoff to my last year of school for a while...

Even though that means I all too soon have to be an adult...hmmm...

But first, to catch up on sleep.  Because I may not have started classes yet, but I have most certainly scrambled my sleep schedule.

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Baby Bump Shower Cake

 To do this cake we used 1/2 of the ball pan and two cupcakes on top of a half sheet cake.

We did this entire thing in icing as I am particularly not a fan of fondant. 

The polka dots are done in sixlets, and the strap and bow are made with the basketweave tip, ridges down.  

Technically this is a little late for the challenge but on the bright side, that means two clever things in 24 hours!

Happy crafting!

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Simple Apple Cupcakes

I wanted to take cupcakes to work for the last day of my internship, because I have really enjoyed my summer there and I love to take goodies in to places I like.

I have also been in an apple mood, so my mom whipped up a simple swap to make a white cake mix a fantastic apple cake.

We highly suggest using Duncan Hines.  It is DELICIOUS! Here is how to alter it:

-1 box cake mix and required eggs
-1 cup chunky applesauce
-1/3 c oil
-1 tsp cinn
-1/4 tsp ginger
-pinch nutmeg

You want to mix all of the stuff up and put a scoop in a cupcake well.  Next put an apple chunk (from chunky applesauce, pie filling if you chop the apples, basically any cooked apple chunk) on the scoop in the middle and put another scoop on top.  We use a cookie/watermelon scoop so that ours come out evenly.

Bake them according to package directions, cool, and ice with your favorite icing.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homemade Croutons

-Bread of choice, cubed
-EVOO or melted butter
-garlic cheese topper
-sea salt

We used multigrain rolls that we picked up at Wal-Mart, but you can use whatever kind of bread you like.  We really like those croutons at Ruby Tuesday, so we wanted to use a similar bread.

Anyway, cube up the bread and heat your oven to 350F.  Toss the cubes in olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with garlic cheese topper and a little heat of sea salt.

Bake for 7 minutes, more if you want them to be more crispy.  At 7 minutes on a light sheet in an electric oven, these came out with a crispy edge but a soft interior. 

We kind of like that whole not so hard it breaks your teeth style of crouton ;).  And a hot crouton is the most delicious crouton. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

DIY Patriotic Flag Coaster Quad from Small Canvases

You will need:
-4x4 canvases (I bought mine from
-Illustration Markers (AD CHARTPAK!) or acrylic paint
-Sharpie or Pentel Sign Pen (I use the sign pen)
-Spray Polyurethane and/or Mod Podge
-Shelf Liner

So one of my new favorite things is making coasters that form a picture when they are all together, but look interesting apart as well. There are a lot of ways you can do this, but more on that later.

Basically, I ordered the canvases from and used markers I already had to decorate them.

To make these, first draw out the stars with a pencil.  Fill in the open spaces with blue marker or paint.  When you have that done, outline the stars in black (if you are using paint, you may like to just paint them in white, but for markers I preferred the outline). 

Next, use red paint or marker to draw out the lines.  I made mine broken and worn looking because it worked a little better with my ultimate goal on what I wanted them to look like.  Outline the stripes in black.  I scrolled the word "freedom" on the bottom right in the quad. 

When you have them decorated like you want them, you will want to seal them.  Some people prefer to use just mod podge on things, and it is supposed to seal stuff after multiple coats.  I, on the other hand, prefer to use about 2-3 coats of mod and about 5 coats of a spray polyurethane.  Usually, I use Rustoleum.  If you have some other sort of polyurethane, shellac, or other sealant that you fancy feel free to use whatever.  I have considered painting resin over them, but I like the spray poly better because it reminds me of bananas whereas resin just makes me think of mold.  (From a smell perspective). 

Anyway, cut a 3.5x3.5 square of shelf liner and attach it to the back with E6000 after the sealant is dry.  Now, admittedly, it is not quite as necessary to worry about backing on these as it is with tiles because they are not going to scratch tables up.  Shelf liner is literally the perfect thing to use with coasters though because it keeps them from sliding, it can be cut with a big-o paper cutter, and it is cheap!

You can also do this with a big photo on tile coasters, in which case you could cut the photo into quads, attach them with mod podge (I would highly suggest printing on quality photo paper), and then coat with a sealant.  It would be a great way to functionalize some of your favorite family images.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Healthy Carrot Cake Bars: No flour, no eggs!

-About 7 large carrots, finely shredded
-1.5 C almond meal
-1/2 C honey (I highly suggest locally sourced honey)
-2 6 oz containers of Chobani Lemon Greek Yogurt (other options that would be interesting would be pineapple, orange, or honey flavor)
-1/2 C raisins
-1/2 TB cinnamon (if you have a super new fresh cinnamon you can maybe cut it back, but these guys can handle a lot of spice, taste them and adjust accordingly)
-1 to 2 tsp of ginger
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-Optional white chocolate for drizzling or dusting

Mix up all the ingredients and plop out onto a jelly roll or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spread them out with a wooden spoon so that the batter is about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until the edges are firm.  If they are not getting done quite like you want, cut them into squares on the pan and bake another 10 minutes or so.  This basically helps get the edges done for each piece.

I imagine with these that you could easily bake them without the parchment paper as they don't seem very particular.  If these had bananas in them I would highly suggest not eliminating the parchment paper.  If you don't use parchment paper, you may want to check them a little earlier. Also, if you are baking in a gas oven, I would check them a little earlier.

I shredded and dusted them with white chocolate.  Usually I melt chocolate and drizzle them, but I wanted to see what a dusting would do.

These will keep longest and best in the fridge...although they are delicious so shelf life is somewhat of a non-issue.

You could also add in some oats to this recipe and put them out in scoops to make another tasty little treat.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

DIY Graduation Cap Favor Box

 You will need:
-Toilet Paper Rolls
-Black Paper
-Embroidery Thread or yarn
-Mod Podge

First, cut about a 1.25 to 1.5 section of toilet paper roll or paper towel roll.  Cut out a strip of paper wide enough to cover the roll (mine was a little bigger but that is no biggie) and long enough to go all the way around.

Attach the paper to the roll with mod podge.  Cut another strip almost the diameter of the roll.

Basically, you want to mod podge a strip in the inside that will hold some candies in. 
 You can try to make a fancy bottom. Other options would be lining the inside of the roll with something like aluminum foil, saran wrap, something of that nature.  You could glue or tape that in. Now that I think about it, a foil lining would be really cute and look more finished.  You can buy gold foils for candies if you don't want to use silver.

Maybe even attach it with double sided tape!

Cut out a square about 2.5x2.5 and attach a small strip to the back of it.  Mod podge the other end of the strip on the inside of the container, which will make a sort of hinged cap for your favor box.

 To make a tassel, I wrapped embroidery thread around my pointer and middle finger, maybe 20 times or so.  I would suggest leaving a tail out before you wrap it so that you will have it in the right spot to attach to the hat later.

Wrap some embroidery thread around the ball near the top and make a knot with the last couple of wrap arounds to secure it.  For extra security, put a little mod podge or tape on it.

Cut through the loops at the bottom to make a fluffy tassel.

Attach the tassel with glue, fill your little favor box, and have a very happy graduation.

I plan on making some of these over the next few months as I will have a graduation party next May.  By starting now, it allows me to make them at a leisurely pace.

Happy crafting!

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Reupholstering a Beautiful Settee

You will need for whatever furniture piece you get:
-Staple Gun and Staples
-Upholstery Trim
-E6000 (or hot glue if you are in to that kind of thing)

Now. I am not really very domestic in the realm of sewing.  We got this bench from a fantastic neighbor and my mom said she would teach me how to reupholster things.

Even if you have never done it before, this method is super user-friendly.

 First, I pinned the fabric onto the back of the bench to hold it in place.  I readjusted it to make sure my stripes were right, and then began stapling.

You want the fabric to come about halfway over the previous trim. 

Start stapling in the middle and work your way out to each side, stretching it as needed to keep it tight.

I did the top, sides one at a time to make sure it stayed tight, and then finished with the bottom.  I put staples in every 2-3 inches as needed.
After I got all four sides done I cut the fabric close to the staples.  My fabric was from an extremely wide bolt.  If your fabric is wide and does not have stripes or a specific direction, you may be able to buy a lot less fabric and still get your pieces out.  Definitely plan ahead on that.

I have a lot extra but plan on making some pillows.

Next I moved to the front top panel.  Staple the top center, the bottom center (I had to sit on mine to squish the super poofy cushion down enough to get the staple in), and work your way outward, finishing with the sides.  If you plan it just right, you can get the top and bottom done without having to cut two sections.
To do the trim, I started at a corner by putting a staple in it.  I then put a bead of E6000 up to about the middle, and followed it with another staple. Make sure that it covers the original fabric.

I tried to only do about 3-4 staples in, and will run a paint pen over them to make them blend in with the trim a little better.

I ran my trim in a solid stream for each section, putting staples in before and after the corner to help it stay in place.

I found clearance fabric at Joann's for $9/yard and bought my trim at Hobby Lobby which was CONSIDERABLY cheaper than Joann's even before my 40% off coupon on it.  All in all, I would say that the material used for the bench and the trim probably came to about $25.

If you have never upholstered something or assume that it is astronomically expensive, you might just be surprised with what you can do on a budget.  Including buying the bench, I don't even have a hundred dollars invested in this bench.  And it will be fantastically perfect for my room, which is full of vintage natural style colors and prints.

I think of all the fun things I see at flea markets that are so cute, but the fabric is just hideous. Now, I can buy whatever I want and make it AWESOME!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Under 15 Minutes: Pan-Seared Scallops with Garlic Butter Noodles

Ingredients (dinner for 2):
-6-8 sea scallops
-angel hair pasta
-2TB garlic cheese topper (I suggest Shipshewana if you happen to be somewhere you can get it, if not McCormick is decent as well)
-1/2 TB Basil
-2 TB butter
-1/4 C Parmesan Cheese (more to taste)
-Garlic bread of choice

Get a pot of salted water boiling and a skillet heated up on medium high (about 6.5 on my mom's electric stove).  Drop the pasta in the water and add about 1-2 TB butter to the skillet.  Salt and pepper the scallops and add just a hint of garlic cheese topper.  Drop the scallops in the skillet.  You do not want to drop a scallop without that skillet being fully heated because it is a lot easier to overcook that way.

The pasta should take about 5 or so minutes to cook so just let it do its thing.  Cook the scallops about 3 minutes on the first side and then flip.  Your butter should be browning by this point.  I actually like butter over EVOO because it never pops.  Cook another 3-4 minutes.  Ideally, you only want to flip them once (which is my opinion on most meats).

Drain the pasta when cooked to your desired doneness (we don't often do the al dente deal) and add in 2 TB butter, the garlic cheese topper and basil, and the parmesan.  Salt to taste. 

Serve this all up with your favorite garlic bread.  I did garlic bread using focaccia with butter and garlic on it and baked it at 350 for about 8 minutes.  I really should have grabbed it out around 5 so it would have been less crispy, but I was preoccupied.  Depending on what kind of garlic bread you are using, you should be able to have this whole meal finished and ready to eat in well under 15 minutes.

To make it even simpler, opt for an Alfredo sauce (I suggest Buitoni!) to make an even fancier seeming dish that is so simple and fast.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Work-Appropriate Batman Outfit

It is a rare day that I ever post an outfit.  As in, I have never used an outfit for my craft of the day.  However, if you can make Batman work-appropriate, you need to be blogging about that.

This outfit starts with a tight gray pencil skirt that I actually bought on amazon.  I tucked a flow-y black shirt into it, because my theory is if you are going to be skin tight on bottom you better be counteracting it on top.  My pencil skirt is meant to be worn pretty high anyway.

My shirt is from Body Central...and I got it 9 years ago.  Good job, Body Central! (And my mom, for killer laundry skills).  Flowing tops are pretty trendy still, so you should have no problem finding one.  I would suggest looking at Body Central, Deb, or Rue 21 for an inexpensive one.

Next, add a bright yellow belt (also from Body Central).  Now, I like to wear flats. I can't imagine a superhero chasing down a villain in heels, so I paired mine with Mad Love flats from Target.  They are the black glittery ones, and I bought them off Target's website for about $20 or less.

Find some Batman earrings (most likely online, I found mine at a flea market for $1!!) and finish off the look.

If you are not a fan of tight skirts, a flouncy gray skirt would work just as well, but I would suggest pairing it with a tighter top in that case.  A dress with a blazer may also be perfectly suitable.  This is more a starting point that you can adapt to your preferences as needed.

I actually got quite a few remarks on my outfit today, including getting whistled at this morning (sheesh).  I don't see a reason in the world why work clothes would need to be boring.  I think a fun pair of earrings and some cute flats are a great way to tone down a pencil skirt if you are at a more laid-back office like mine.

There may not be a lot of outfits in this challenge, but I think this one earned its spot.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bridal Shower Cupcake Arrangement

For this arrangement we used 57 normal sized cupcakes and about 30 mini-cupcakes. 

This is done on a full sheet cake board covered in decorative foil (food grade).  Now, my absolute best suggestion for cupcake arrangements is this: make two flavors of cupcakes that are different colors (before they are iced). 

Arrange your cupcakes on the board beforehand, and the different colors give you a decent idea of what the final product will look like.

For cupcakes like these, I HIGHLY suggest using the good quality foil cupcake liners.  They are stiffer and they are great because you can really pack the cupcakes in tight and the stiff grooves help them stay in place.

Another thing that helps them stay a little better is to fill the sides with mini cupcakes.  This helps everything fit just so in a box during transportation, and the smaller sized cupcakes don't create a visual distraction from the dress itself.  They become a very nice compliment and background.

So you want to put your cupcakes in nice and tight first, and then decorate them.  I think that all cupcake arrangements should be required to have rosette piping because I think it makes the design look better instead of icing that sticks up really far. By piping out to the edges and having the cupcakes in close together, the icing will slightly touch between cupcakes and create a fuller and beautiful look.  I do not personally like the arrangements that use a flat sheet of icing over cupcakes as I think that looks messy when they pull apart.  These look beautiful and will be pretty even when they separate.

To make rosettes, you start piping in the middle and swirl outward and around, making sure your layers just touch. 

For the sash, we used fondant rolled thin and laid over buttercream.  We mixed some pearl dust with vodka to give it a satin sheen.  A sash was cut from more fondant and laid over the cupcakes.

The top cupcakes have small edible beads on them, the Betty Crocker Cupcake Gems that you can find at your local grocery.  As many dresses have beaded bodices, it really gives it another little special touch.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Upcycled Headband DIY: Scrap Fabric and Stretched Out Ponytail Holders

You will need:
-A scrap of fabric just shy of stretching around your head
-1 stretched out ponytail holder

When you are deciding on if your headband piece is the right size of fabric, keep in mind a few things: is it stretchy material? how tight of fit do you want?

I used a non-stretchy material and wanted a fairly tight fit so I used one to where it just came short of the two ends meeting. 

On each end, fold the corners in to meet in the middle of the bottom.  This doesn't have to be overly precise, you just want it to taper in.  Fold each end around the ponytail holder, with about a half inch overage to place the seam.
I popped mine on my sewing machine to secure both sides.

Eventually, this headband could break if it is an especially tight fit, as some of my ponytail holders eventually break in the long run anyway.  However, this particular method will be a little less stressful on this than trying to put it around a 4th time on my hair bun.

If you have a big mane like mine, I have little doubt in my mind that you have stretched out plenty of ponytail holders. I hate to throw them away, and will sometimes use them for braids to get the most out of them. However, a good headband is pretty handy when it comes to workouts and hot summer days.
If you don't do a lot of sewing, you still have options.  Places like JoAnn's sell small scrap packs of fabric, as well as quarters of fabric, that would be perfectly useable.  Another excellent option is using some of those old college and high school shirts!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Almond-Crusted Sole with Lemon Parmesan Quinoa: 15 Minutes to Delicious Dinner

For Fish:
-2 Sole Filets
-1/3 C Almond Flour
-1 TB Garlic Cheese Topper
-1 Egg
-1 TB Chobani Plain 2% Greek Yogurt

For Quinoa:
-1/2 C Quinoa cooked according to package directions
-Zest of one small lemon
-1/3 C Parmesan or Parmesan Regianno
-Salt to taste
-1/2 TB Basil
-1 TB Butter

Put the quinoa on and cook according to package directions in water with salt and butter.  When the quinoa has about 8 or so minutes left, start heating a skillet on medium high. 

Mix the egg and Greek yogurt in a shallow bowl or plate big enough to dredge the sole.  On another plate, mix the almond flour and garlic cheese topper. 

Handy tip: if you don't have the garlic cheese topper, use something like the cheese blend packets that come with Pizza Hut pizza (ALWAYS grab an extra)!

Put a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper on the sole filets.  Dip each in the egg mix first and then the almond coating. Put a couple of tablespoons of butter in the skillet when it is hot and put in the filets. You can use EVOO if you prefer, of course.

Cook about 3-4 minutes on the first side and then flip.  Cook for another 3 minutes or so.  Time will vary on how thick your filets are, but they should be a nice golden brown. We got our filets from Trader Joe's and they were magnificently thin and perfect.

When the quinoa is done, drain any excess liquid off if you are like me and did not maybe measure as accurately as you should have...and then add the cheese, lemon zest, basil, and a little salt.  You can optionally top it with more cheese if you feel so inclined.

We served up one filet per person and half the finished amount of quinoa.  I would suggest also making a little side salad to go along with this.  That way, you have some green goodness to round it out and it is that much more nutrient-rich. 

I very much wanted to eat about 3 times as much as what I made (my other reason for suggesting a salad), but I was also quite ravenous from exercising.  Filets like this are so thin and the breading is substantially healthier in that it uses almond meal instead of AP flour, so I don't think you need to feel too terribly guilty if you make a few extra pieces to eat or split.  I like to mix Greek Yogurt with egg to batter things because it makes a thick, rich base for my almond meal to stick in.

All in all, I got this done in about 15 minutes.  That is a timeframe that can work with my schedule.

If you have not had quinoa, I highly suggest buying a pack and trying it for yourself.  The pre-seasoned boxes do not seem to cook as well to me, but the regular stuff cooks like a charm.  It is a great way to cut down on the amount of white rice you consume and to add in some grains to your diet.  It holds up extremely well to some heavy herbs and sauces, and it works with a lot of flavor profiles.  It has fast-tracked itself right up the list of must-haves at my apartment.

Today kicks off Day 1 of the second 365 Day Craft Challenge, which I originally said I would do a craft and not food today.  However, you can't argue with a quick, healthy dinner that tastes amazing.  I was always told, "Learn something new every day."  This is my way of taking that challenge.

Welcome back, and happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Reflecting on the First (of many) 365 Day Craft Challenge(s)

So I was a little surprised when I woke up this morning (at 330 because we were decorating yet more cakes).  At first, I was panicked because I had not blogged.  I was thinking I really needed to get on the ball because I didn't want to mess up my 365 Day Craft Challenge...

And then I realized that technically, August 1st was the last day of it.  It has been one whole year since I started this adventure.  I say technically because I knew about 3/4 of the way through this that I was not going to stop with just one challenge.  There was going to be a lot of things I did not get to, and there will always be more things to learn and recipes to tweak.  There are entire cultures of food I have yet to venture into, and a world of craft techniques I have never tried.

On Monday, August 5th, the SECOND 365 Day Craft Challenge will kick off! :) I decided to give myself a weekend off, that way I could catch up on some sleep and work on a few other projects that were not crafty so much as necessary (e.g. organizing for college which is creeping up on me).  The real fact of the matter is that I have learned a lot from this craft challenge and it has meant the absolute world to me to do something every single day for a year.

Something new, every single day.

So I want to take a moment and reflect on the highlights of the craft challenge.  To everyone who viewed that little puffy painted ornament, all thousands of you, you made the blog extra special.  I never thought I would have something that popular.  It was pretty fantastic.

Getting to interact with Chobani, a company that I truly love, and discovering that with such an outstanding product I could take food I love and sharply reduce the fat, that also meant the world to me.  Alfredo is good, light and protein-induced alfreCHO is way better.  Chobani in cheesecake made some fantastic lemon cheesecake pops that made me want to eat the entire batch. Healthy food does not have to taste bad, and in fact can taste far better than the preservative-filled junk.

I learned a lot in other things this year. I can honestly say that my entire way of cooking changed drastically.  I now consistently opt for less processed food and have found a ton of new veggies and grains that I really like.  I could easily see Quinoa replacing all or part of my rice in stir fry, as well as being a standalone side for other meals.  The apple granola bites and the carrot raisin bites mean I never have to buy another granola bar because they taste so, so good.

My most prized accomplishment was tackling macarons.  They were French and scary and I was just sure that I would mess them up.  But I tried, and they worked. There is a lot of perfecting of those for me in the future, but I am so much further along than I ever imagined I could be.  That's a takeaway tip, nothing is out of reach if you are willing to stretch a bit more.

So what I take away from this first challenge is this: Get out of your rut.  Whatever your food rut is you are limiting yourself severely.  There are so many things in this world to try and to get to the end of your life and to only have tried something as exciting as chicken strips would be pretty darn sad. 

I also learned that no matter what it is, and no matter how hard it looks, there are people out there doing the thing that you want to do.  They are living the dream that you want to live.  And they are cooking the food that you want to cook.  You can do absolutely anything with a little practice and a whole lot of patience.  For the most part, the things most people cook don't even involve a lot of monetary investment and use inexpensive ingredients- so why not try?

To me, food is what brings us together.  We celebrate life and death, holidays, family dinners, everything with food and meals.  The sharing of meals is a sharing of experiences, bonding, and something that cannot be replicated through anything else.  A great meal has the power to change your life, as far as I am concerned.

As a personal and somewhat humorous lesson, I decided that life is too short to eat low quality cheese.  A good parmesan or parm/reggiano will change your entire outlook. It tastes better, it is stronger and you can use way less, and it is infinitely better than that junk in the green duster ever thought about being.  If I never saw pre-shredded and pre-pulverized cheese again...I would be perfectly happy.

But it really is bigger than that.  Life is too short to settle for low quality products.  Look in to what you are eating, what goes into it, and ask yourself if you are ok with those ingredients.  For me, I don't want the mile long chemical lists.  I want something closer to the original.  And if that means having to make my own sauces or granola bars or whatever else, so be it.  That is quite alright with me.

People aren't always going to understand why you do the things you do, and that is alright.  It does not matter what a single other person thinks about your eating habits or preferences in cooking if you are happy and you know that you make a darn good dish. 

So as I said, the next challenge will kick off Monday.  If all goes according to plan, it will kick off like the first one did, with a craft as opposed to a recipe.  I am thinking about a few things, some might just involve my sewing machine (SCARY!).  After that, the following 365 days will include some goals.

I want to tackle making homemade ravioli.  I want to make the ravioli that brings me to tears.  And then I want to drown my tears and my ravioli in AlfreCHO.

I want to make a delicious focaccia.  I love focaccia. 

I will make a fancy macaron.  Not the boring vanilla that I made, but something fantastically strange and just so bizarre that it works brilliantly.

I want to sew something new I can wear.  That one might be toward the end of the challenge because this chick is a train wreck when it comes to that or any sewing machine.

And you better believe there will be more cake pops with eye balls.  I don't know what shape or animal they will be...but there WILL be googly eyes. Every good challenge has eye balls.

So thank you again for everyone who followed along with some of the posts, and I sincerely hope that you will keep following along.  I encourage anyone and everyone to do something new as often as they can, to step outside their cooking or crafting comfort zone and just go for it.  Try new things, learn new techniques, and sit back and enjoy the beauty of what you have created.  We all have so many unique ideas and perspectives, and there has never been a better or simpler time to share a little bit of ourselves through creating things.  And in all reality, there will always be someone out there that would love to know the information behind what you did.  There are people with similar interests around every corner.

Tune in Monday, this next year is sure to be a doozy.

And as always, happy crafting.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Race Car Cake

The theory behind this cake was simple.  However, this cake gave me particular issues.  I happen to be able to melt icing severely, I have unreasonably hot hands.  Mindboggling.

Anyway, I used the largest Wilton tip that people use to ice the sides of cake and made a black track with the ridges up.  I lined the track in red and white piping and used the little grass tip to make an infield.

I went ahead and piped a start line, because birthdays are beginnings and not finish lines (well and "Finish" wouldn't fit on my track).

I streaked a little red in with the sides and piped the name and a few little flags.  Basically I did the streaks just by putting a few small lines in and then used a spatula to flatten them out.

We put cars, a 5 candle, and 3 flags at jaunty angles to finish it off.

It is a small cake for a small party, but let's face it...

All he is going to care about is the cars. :)

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!