Monday, September 30, 2013

Spicy Seared Salmon, Rice Medley, and Avocado

Ingredients (per person):
-1 salmon filet
-1/2 C brown rice medley (Trader Joe's)
-1 Avocado (as much as desired once cut)
-Cajun/creole seasoning

Technically...I don't know if these foods are really supposed to go together.  My taste buds, however, would like to put up a pretty good argument for why they do.

Get the recommended amount of water boiling for the rice with 1.5 TB butter and a couple pinches of salt (I used sea salt).  Cook the rice medley as directed.

When there is approximately 6 minutes left, heat a skillet with a tablespoon of butter and drop the salmon filet when it is hot.  Sprinkle the top side with a heavy dusting of your creole seasoning (mine was Zataran's, nothing too fancy) and salt if it does NOT already have it in it (Z's has an obscene amount, so I omit salt). 

Cook the salmon about 3 minutes on the first side, you should notice the butter starting to brown.  Flip and cook another 2-3 until it is done to your liking.  I tend to get mine a nice toasty color on each side.  I tend to err on the side of a little more done when it comes to most meats. 

Also with all meats, you only need to flip this guy once.  Don't mess with it before it is ready!

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, remove the pit, and scoop out with a spoon in one fell swoop.  Slice that little bugger up and serve alongside your rice and salmon deliciousness.

I happen to eat an entire avocado at a time when I have a spicy something.  I know this may not exactly be the healthiest, even though it is good fat it could still be a lot of fat...but I don't care.  I love avocados and especially love them with zesty fish and rice. And I don't know enough about their nutritional value to know if I should not eat it all at once, so ignorance is bliss ;).

I also happen to be WILD about this rice medley! It is seriously way more delicious than boring white rice.  It had texture, but it got done well.  It had pizzazz.  And it has 6 grams of protein per serving.

And you know how I love protein.

This is going to be a difficult meal to top this week.  It was a nice light dinner that kept me full a long time.  I will be buying that rice medley for some time to come!  A half cup goes a lot further than you would think once it is cooked, so be aware.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Steak and Roasted Corn Salad

-8 or so strips of steak per person (whatever cut you like, we prefer thin ones)
-1/2 C corn
-Baby spinach leaves and/or spring mix
-boiled egg slices
-Parmesan cheese, shredded
-Cilantro Dressing

We like to use thin steaks and cook them to well done.  This means about 4-5 minutes per side in a screaming hot skillet or griddle, give or take a few, cooked in a TB or so of butter.  We season ours with seasoned salt and pepper.  You may like your steak cooked differently, so feel free to cook to your liking.  Also consider adding some Mexican seasoning to get another layer of flavor in the dish.

In another skillet, put 2-3 TB of butter in and let it melt.  Plop in the corn and cook until the butter starts to brown.

Throw everything on your plate in a tasty salad and top with cilantro dressing and fresh shredded parmesan cheese.  We got ours from Trader Joe's.  You don't need a lot of dressing, trust me, start very sparingly.  It packs a wollop of fantastic flavor but can be overdone if you are not mindful.  Cilantro is a peppy little herb, and this dressing definitely reflects that.

I like salads that eat like meals.  I really don't like to eat salad just as a side, for some reason, so when one comes across like this that is visually and taste bud-ally interesting, it is something I rave about. Avocado would be good in this salad as well.

Keep in mind this is an EXTREMELY filling dish so you may not want to overload your plate.  Adding avocado in will make it even more filling.

You could toss in some nuts or croutons, but with as much flavor and richness as this salad has, you won't miss the croutons if you pass on them. 

Happy crafting!
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Homemade Pepperjack Cheese Crackers

-1/2 Stick of butter, softened
-1 C Flour
-8 oz pepperjack cheese
-2 TB* water

Mix the butter, cheese, and pinch of salt in your mixing bowl.  Add in the flour and mix to form a pebbly dough.  Add in the water, a tablespoon or so at a time.  You just want enough water that the dough will hold together when you press it, just enough to come together.  You may need to add more.  Roll out on a floured surface very thin and cut to desired size (cookie cutters work too).

Every block of cheese has a different moisture to it, so it is normal if you need to adjust.

Bake (preferably convect if you have an electric oven) at 350 for 12-17 minutes.  If you are convecting it, it should be on the low end of that time frame, or if you have a gas oven that seems to heat hotter like mine does.  Basically, you just want them to start getting brown and toasty on top.

Pull them out and sprinkle salt on them.  And watch as they disappear!

These are my favorite ones I have made to date.  I had wanted to try pepperjack flavored ones for some time.  The best part is, my food processor just arrived today and I got to test it out on shredding the cheese for these.  Needless to say, I am in LOVE with the food processor and these crackers.  They came out extremely well and were gone in no time.  They make the perfect party snack!

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Black and White Wedding Cake with Gumpaste Calla Lilies

This is probably ranks among our best ever cakes, in my opinion at least.  It is from a while back, but every now and then I run across something that needs to come out of the archives.  This was a cake that I absolutely adored. 

For the sides we just used the lace technique for the top and bottom tiers, and put some black scrolling on the middle tier.  White sixlets (wedding section at Hobby Lobby) were used in the piping around the bottom and top of each tier, plus the middle of the middle layer. (Hah, middle of the middle).

I made gumpaste lilies using the cone shaped forms from Wilton, the Wilton Gumpaste mix, and a lily cutter (basically a glorified heart shape cutter).  All you do is cut the lily shape, roll it out thinner if needed, wrap it around the form with the point side toward the wide base of the form, and wet the edges and stick together.

They can, and should, be made days in advance. Gumpaste needs at least 24 hours to dry.  I also dyed some yellow and made little centers to go in them.  You can buy the plastic ones if you know for sure that little kids won't try to eat them.

The cake is on a three tier stand that is easy to remove the layers, which is really helpful if someone there has to cut it.  Taking a cake apart is no fun when it is a stacked cake.  I like stands like this from a decorating standpoint as well because it gives you another dimension in the top of each layer to decorate, which I find more visually interesting. The back is wrapped in white tulle to make the stand attractive.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Glazed Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits

-2.5 C AP flour
-1.5 C milk
-6 TB butter
-1 TB baking powder
-Pinch of salt
-2 TB sugar
-1.5 tsp cinnamon (more if you like a lot of cinnamon)
-1/4 C raisins or other dried fruit

-1.5 C powdered sugar
-1 to 2 TB milk (less if you want a thicker glaze that sets harder, more if you want a thinner glaze, you can always up the powdered sugar as needed)
-3 shakes of ginger (or use vanilla for flavor, your preference.  I like ginger in everything and like the taste of glaze without vanilla as well)

Preheat your oven to 400F and grease a baking sheet.  Mix up all the biscuit ingredients and drop blobs of them (neat, orderly, similarly sized blobs of course) onto the cookie sheet.  Bake for 14-18 minutes, taking them out when they start to brown a bit.  I use dark nonstick in a gas oven, so my ultimate times may be a little different than yours. I would certainly not let these get too brown, as they are so delightful and soft when they are just starting to brown on top.

Pull them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.

I have a confession, and you might have already noticed it in the picture...I put saran wrap over my wire rack to glaze these...

In my defense, I don't have a dishwasher and I just cleaned off my counter and most of my dishes. I really did not want to get my other baking sheet dirty, so I decided that I would just be wasteful for once.  I am really looking forward to being home for the weekend, and I am really tired of washing off my counter!

I made a thick glaze so I just poured mine straight from the bowl I mixed it in (with a high tech mixer called a knife, mind you) over the biscuits. 

And then I ate one, which explains the gap in the biscuits in the picture.  OMG I must say I really liked it.  And boy were these simple.  They are a lot like a scone, but with no work...I like that about them!

This idea came out of a brainstorm between me and my mom.  It never fails, when I am really flat lining on ideas of what to make for the blog, I always call her up.  When she said this idea, I perked right up from my bleh-mood of not knowing what I wanted to make.  She is definitely where I get my kitchen creativity from.

AND I get to return the favor and bring these home this weekend for tasty enjoyment.

You may find that you want to add more sugar to the base biscuit recipe if you do not want to glaze them.  I, however, did not want an overly sweet biscuit, as when I eat cinnamon raisin English muffins they are not overly sweet.  Plus, I knew I would glaze these so there would be a lot of sugar in that. Adjust it however you see fit.

Breakfast is going to be legit in the morning!

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chocolate Macarons

-1.25 C powdered sugar sifted with 1 C almond meal and 2 TB cocoa powder
-1/4 to 1/2 C granulated sugar*
-3 egg whites (I use jumbo, which might be larger than what you typically buy, which is why I have the star in the one above)
-pinch of salt
-1 tsp vanilla

Fillings of choice: (I used nutella, caramel, and a peanut butter fudge icing made of 3 TB butter, 1/2 C peanut butter, 1 C powdered sugar, a little vanilla, and water as needed to thin it out)

Whip the eggs and salt until frothy in your mixer.  Add the vanilla and start streaming in your granulated sugar, slowly.  Beat on high as you add the sugar until stiff glossy peaks form.

Fold in the sifted chocolate almond yumminess until incorporated. Preheat your oven to 280 degrees.  Line some baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. 

Put the macaron batter into a pastry bag and cut the tip off.  Pipe out circles an inch or so in diameter and let them sit out for 30 minutes to an hour.

Bake the cookies for for 15 minutes (I open mine after the first two to let the humidity out). I like to open mine and cut the heat right before my timer goes off so that it cools down a little slower.

Pop them off the parchment paper (I bake on dark nonstick and they always come off pretty easy but do NOT try to bake them without parchment paper because that does not work at all).

Fill them with your desired fillings, if you have a stiffer filling try to pipe it on parallel to the cookie and move it around with your finger to spread it out. Top it with another cookie.

AND then devour.  Or share them....if you like to share things...

Now, like I said I used larger eggs than what some might so I ended up adding a little under 1/2 C sugar to make the meringue.  Mine did not seem to be whipping up just right, so that is when I decided that more sugar was necessary.  If you are using smaller eggs, you may not need any more than just the 1/4C. 

Macarons are really delicious and you have to be prepared to make them a couple of times to get used to how your oven bakes them and the adjustments you need to make to get them just right.  Mine is a gas oven.

Good luck!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings

-4 Chicken tenderloins
-5 C water
-2 TB butter
-1 large carrot, diced
-1 TB very finely minced onion (I am an onion minimalist, you can use more as you like)
-1/3 C frozen corn
-1/4 tsp marjoram
-1/4 tsp garlic
-thick cut dumplings (I used my ravioli dough recipe, made pieces about 1/4th inch thick, and froze them for this occasion.  I based my ravioli dough on a Tyler Florence recipe at

So let me start of by saying that I loathe cream of junk soup.  If you had your heart set on a recipe that used them, I am sorry.  I prefer clear broth and nonquestionable ingredients.

And I highly prefer crockpots for soup.  Basically they are fantastic.  All you need to do is throw everything except the dumpling bits in (you can also use biscuit dough if you like) and let it cook on high for about 5 hours.  If you are going to be gone all day, just cook it on low.

Toss the dumplings in about 30 minutes to 1 hour before it is finished.  Mine were frozen so I kept them in around an hour or a little over.

This soup was delicious, and it completely hit the spot on a day that I was actually rather sick.  I managed to land myself with a stomach bug. Delightful. Fingers crossed that it will be out of my system by tomorrow.

Fingers crossed that I remember to grab the sanitizing wipes out of my car when I get back from work also to wipe down everything I own...

It has actually been a while since I had a bug that progressed this far, but luckily I was able to take the day off.  That is something I rarely do, but in the grand scheme of things every now and then I think you have to give yourself a break.  Life will chug along just fine, and it helps to remember that there are things important for you and your personal health.

Plus, let's face it, some people are walking around with some pretty shoddy immune systems and I would have been a plague carrier for them.  Ah yes, let's say I stayed home for the greater good ;).

The point is, this soup is FANTASTIC and will definitely be happening again in my apartment.  I will thoroughly enjoy eating it for lunch tomorrow.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Birthday Zone: Construction Themed Cake

This is a very cute and special cake my mom did recently for an equally cute and special little boy.  Though I was not involved in this cake, it definitely deserved a spot in the 365 Day Craft Challenge.  It is just too cute!

The best part about this cake was that the father built the little structure to go on the cake.  I love to see people getting involved and being a part of cakes, and it really made this extra special.

There are a lot of things you can use to make this cake happen.  Some of the favorites include cocoa powder dirt and heath bit rocks.  If you need darker dirt, crumble up oreos or graham crackers! 

The decorations on the side are done in a combination of fondant pieces and chocolate letters. Stick them on with a little dab of icing. 

The trucks are a great way to decorate a cake for a young one, as they get to play with them after the cake has disappeared.  Plus, seriously, who wants to sit around and try to make an edible truck?

I proposed after this cake was finished that chocolate donuts may make great tires in the future for things we are doing.  I thought of that at 3AM after watching way too much Dr. Who at one time...

Making cakes that look like a play scene is a fun way to celebrate a kids birthday.  Consider this type of idea for race cars, horses/farms, construction zones, and any other favorite that you can find figurines for.

And don't be afraid to get involved with a cake! It made this cake even more special to have that structure.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sweet Potato Biscuit Breakfast Sandwiches

Biscuit Ingredients:
-1.25 C AP Flour
-1 TB maple syrup
-4 tsp baking powder
-pinch of salt
-1 sweet potato, cooked and mashed (mine made just under 1 C)
-1/2 stick melted butter
-up to 4 TB milk (just enough to make the dough come together)

Sandwich Ingredients:
-1 egg per desired sandwich
-1 strip of bacon per sandwich

Preheat the oven to 400F.  With the dough hook attachment in your mixer, mix the ingredients, adding just enough milk so that the dough comes together.  If you add a little too much, just put a touch more flour in and dry it out.

Turn out dough onto floured surface.  I pressed mine out to about a quarter inch thick.  They don't raise a whole bunch so don't get it out much thinner than that. 

Grease a baking sheet and bake for about 12-15 minutes.  Watch these things, and make sure they don't get too dark (I almost did, as you may have noticed...

Fry up some bacon and scramble a few eggs (fry them if you like) and enjoy the most fantastic breakfast sandwich you will have that morning...unless you just eat a whole lot of random breakfast sandwiches in which case I make no promises.  But I sure did like them ;).

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Glass Jar Labeling: Kitchen Edition

 You will need:
-Paint pens for glass
-Glass containers

So I bought all of the above and some stencils.  I was going to stencil really cute letters on these jars.  That was all great and good until my stencils did not work for the letters and kept smearing EVERYWHERE.

No matter, always have a plan B ready or be ready to reverse engineer a new path on the fly.

The beauty of glass jars is that they are clear.  When I figured out my stencil idea wasn't going to pan out, I traced the outline of the sides of the jar onto paper.  I then wrote with pencil what I wanted the jars to have on them.
I laid the jars back down on the paper, closed one eye since I needed to be precise and I was so close to them, and used the paper as a guide for the style and spacing of my letters.

Then I just added some freehand decorative bits next to them. 

If you mess up, find some Goof Off wipes or similar if it is already dry.  It takes these pens a little bit to dry so if you mess up on the fly, just wipe it right off.  One way or another, there is always a way to correct things.

I got these cool jars at Hobby Lobby for just a little over $5 for the biggest and less for the other two.  I am obviously going to put my favorite ingredients in them to make my kitchen island a little more visually appealing.

For something like quinoa, consider writing on the back the cooking directions as well unless you just happen to use it so much that you know it by heart. I often get my water to product ratios confused.  Just a thought!

Overall I spent less than $40 and I have 3 large and two of each smaller size.  Once finished, I will have a quinoa, panko, corn flour, oats, flour, wheat flour, and sugar containers.

You could also get a white paint pen and label the lids if that would work better for the jars you find or for where they will be stored.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars

-1 small can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling, regular pumpkin)
-1.5 C oats
-1/2 C chopped pecans
-1/4 to 1/2 C white chocolate chips (based on preferences)
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp nutmeg

Grease a glass baking pan (or grease and use a cookie sheet but watch the time closely) and preheat your oven to 350F. 

Mix all the ingredients up until the oats are well combined.

Bake approximately 13 minutes, maybe a little less if you are doing it on metal.  Just watch and such.  Cook until the edges firm up and start to brown.

And then devour.  As it should be.

It is perfect for fall! You could mix it up and make it as healthy as you like...or you could just keep it delisheriffic. 

Happy crafting!
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Basketball Cookies

You will need:
-Royal icing in orange and black
-Fondant letters and numbers
-Sugar cookies

My mom and sister tag teamed on these cool cookies for the basketball team.

It is really easy to add in fondant and/or chocolate in to royal icing, just set them in before it sets completely.  The same goes for the sparkly sugar. 

My best suggestion is to put outlines and some linework in first.  For these, that would putting the black lines on and doing an orange outline.  After these set up a little, it makes it much simpler to fill in the rest of the orange without everything running all round and getting messy.  Right when you get it all filled in you can pop in the fondant or chocolate numbers and just leave them out to sit.

When royal icing dries, these cookies should be perfectly stackable and totally delectable!

Not to mention, they are adorable.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sole with Cilantro Lime Quinoa and Avocado

Ingredients (per person):
-1 Sole filet
-1/4 C quinoa
-1 avocado
-Zest of 1/3 of a lime
-1 to 2 tsp taco seasoning
-1 TB butter
-about 5 cilantro leaves (or a little dried cilantro, sprinkle)

I love sole! It is really quick to thaw and it is just a really tasty fish.  I get mine from Trader Joe's.

To start, cook the quinoa according to package directions, adding a little salt, cilantro, and butter to the water. Cook about 15 to 20 minutes as directed.

When it has about 5 minutes remaining, heat a skillet to medium or just a little over and grease with butter.  Add the fish, pepper it (salt too if you make your own taco seasoning without salt) and taco seasoning.  You may add more or less depending on the spiciness or strength of your particular favorite brand. 

Cook 3-4 minutes and flip, and cook another couple of minutes until the fish is completely done, adjusting as needed to your filet thickness.  

Add the lime zest to the cooked quinoa and fluff.  Taste and salt if needed.

Cut up an avocado and enjoy!  I ate pieces of avocado with every single bite and it was fantastic. There were a lot of flavors going on in the dish, and the texture of the quinoa held up really well and was a nice contrast between the other ingredients.  I can honestly say that I liked it better in this case than rice.

This was a protein packed, light and fit meal that I could eat every week and not complain.  It was really fresh and a perfect way to end a terribly hectic day that involved me losing my wallet and keys, being stranded and locked out of my apartment, and having to call a friend to take me to get my wallet when it was found. 

But everything worked out, and that is what matters!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Natural Shower Drain Fix: Baking Soda and Vinegar

You will need:
-Baking soda (1/4th cup increments)
-Vinegar (1/2 cup increments)
-Mason jar or other cover for drain
-Optional: Old mascara brush

Now...that mason jar sounds really weird, and I get that.  But hear me out: A mason jar bottom curves up, and so does my shower drain cover.  It made very logical sense to me.  You can use whatever you want to cover the drain. 

To start, I poked around with a mascara brush in my drain to try to coax the blockage out on its own accord.  How did my drain get blocked, you ask? Well...

I could play Mufasa on Broadway (if it was a silent show with no singing) and not need a mane built into my costume.  I have about 3 feet of hair.  Really thick, really long, mane-like hair.  It is great for styling, but terrible on shower drains. 

Anyway, so I poked around with the mascara brush to try to get the whatever it was making my shower not drain loose.  That didn't do a whole lot of good (mostly because I have waited, oh I don't know, a year to address this issue?) so I went a different route. 

I am not a big fan of chemicals, I will use Lime Away some but I was not real interested in getting some Liquid Fire or Drain-O or whatever the heck else is on the market these days that sometimes result in the finish coming off your tub.

So I opted for the fix it all combo of baking soda and vinegar.  Even vinegar smells way better than chemicals. For a lesser blockage and if you don't have vinegar, try lemon juice.

Anyway, I poured about 1/8th of the baking soda in the drain with an elaborate paper funnel I made (fancy technology only at this apartment).  Next, I poured in 1/4th cup of the vinegar and quickly plopped my mason jar drain cover over it so that it would fizz down and not up.  I then poured the remaining baking soda in, and vinegar, and repeated the process.

Next, I plugged my tub and let the hot water run until it was a couple of inches deep.  I let the drain out, and it looked like I was getting a nice little vortex of draining water.  That was something I had not seen in a while!  Based on how well yours drains after this, you may want to repeat the process. If a couple of times doesn't work...well you might just have to call a professional on that one.

Now, obviously I cannot say how often this will need to be done as everyone's showers are different and this is the first time I have done it.  But I can definitely say that I saw REMARKABLE improvements.

For example, before I went home last week, the shower water backed up to around my ankles.  This makes for a nice warm foot soak, but all in all is not my favorite way to spend my shower.  After just showering when I got back from a hectic day today, my shower never backed up ABOVE MY TOES! That is right, it did not even get over my toes.

I would have jumped for joy, but I was in the shower and that would be dangerous.

After losing my wallet, being stranded, finding my wallet, and getting one heck of a life mulligan from a friend who took me to retrieve my wallet, I needed some good news today.  This shower was some fantastic news.  The dinner I ate was also delicious, but more on that tomorrow.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Brown Sugar Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is one of my favorite things.  I think that the best way to cook it is with brown sugar. 

First, you want to peel and slice the butternut squash into pieces approximately 1 to 1.5 inches thick.  Boil the squash in water until it just starts to get tender.  They boil very similar to potatoes in timing.  You do not want it to get mushy.

Drain and transfer to a skillet with a TB or so of butter, and add brown sugar.  The amount is kind of more to your preference on how close to candied you want it to be.  I would suggest at least 2 TB per piece, and I would also suggest putting some on both sides. 

Put the squash in, put brown sugar on the first side.  Let it cook for a few minutes and flip.  I would personally add brown sugar here again.   Cook a few more minutes, or until desired doneness.  I would say that it will be in the skillet at least 7-10 minutes.

We enjoyed ours with steak!

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Two Tier Teal and Purple Cake

Something I really like doing is taking cakes that were originally done in fondant and making them in icing.  As I am not a fan of fondant, to me it makes a cake more delicious when you can recreate it like this.

I use the Wilton Base Ice tip to put a pretty thick layer of icing around my sides (I do two rows around instead of up and down).  We smooth out our cakes with an offset spatula dipped in the hottest of hot waters.  I smooth out the top first, then smear any icing hanging over down the sides, smooth the sides, and then pull any icing that has come up over the top in toward the center with the tip of my spatula.

Usually, by the second time I smooth out the top, the cake is smooth enough that I don't need top piping if I want to avoid it.

For this, I used the tip I would typically pipe with and make scrolls.  For best results, I like to use the tip to draw out my scroll, then come back and do another layer over it to make it stand up and look better. 

Before we scrolled, we used Wilton's color spray to lightly dye the base icing purple.

Next we used our big cupcake tip and made teal pseudo-flowers all over the top of the cake.  We put big pearly purple gumballs in the center of these. I came back and did smaller flowers with small purple candy pearls in them as well. 

And as all cakes should, we finished it off with sparkly sugar.

We were exceptionally happy how this cake turned out.  I think it has a very princess-y, whimsical flair to it.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Two Tier Blue Wedding Cake with Scrolling

I got home just in time this weekend to help out a bit on a wedding cake.  This cake was all icing.  We used the widest Wilton tip that is used to base ice a cake to make a ribbon around the bottom of the top tier.  You just want to make sure that the ridges are in toward the cake so the smooth side is out.

I used a #4 tip to put some fancy scrolling around the sides, as well as making the dots above the ribbon to spruce it up.  On the top, we did matching blue roses. 

I put in some white leaves around the roses as well.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Superhero Coasters

You will need:
-4x4 canvases
-watercolor paints and a brush
-a pencil
-Mod Podge and/or Spray Polyurethane and/or your sealant of choice

I bought a 24 pack of small canvases from and I already had the rest of the goods.  

First, I found some pictures online to base my drawings off of.  You will want to find things you can work with.  I knew, for instance, that I could not do Captain America's face, so I opted for the shield instead. 

Draw out your design with pencil first, then you can start painting.  I suggest starting with a base layer of a color, like a lighter green/yellow for the hulk for instance.  Then, I like to bring in black lines.  Next, I will come in with a darker green and work near the black lines to soften them and add in some shadow.

If you need to lighten anything, just hit it with a little water on the brush and it should reactivate and smear a little better.

Add in the remaining shades of color, and go back and hit some of the lines again with black if they need to darken up a bit.

Remember, the more abstract you make the design, the less accurate it technically needs to be haha!

When you are done painting them.  I would suggest a little spray sealant before breaking out the Mod Podge.  That way, you make sure all this water loving paint speckles stay right where they are.  If you want to just use mod, sponge it on that way it isn't any smearing of loveliness.  If you want a backing on them, allow me to suggest shelf liner.  It cuts easily and is great for coasters of any variety.  Attach with E6000.

I was going to give these as a gift...but they are far too cool so they will be mine.  I will have to order more canvas to make some gifts. ;)

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Delicious Warm Garden Salad with Craisins, Bacon, Feta

 Ingredients, per one serving:
-1 C spinach leaves
-6 asparagus spears
-1/2 summer squash, sliced
-1/4 C corn
-2 okra, sliced
-1 Strip of bacon
-1/4 C feta
-Handful craisins or dried berries
-Salt and pepper
-Lemon wedge

Let me just start out by saying, this was the best salad I have eaten in a long time.  I am a new fan of warm salads.

I cooked everything in the same skillet.  First, I cut my bacon slice in half to make it fit better and tossed it and the veggies (not the spinach leaves) in the skillet.
Cook everything as is, salting the veggies but avoiding the bacon obviously, until the bacon is crispy.  I added just a few tiny little pieces of onion in mine as well.  Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel.

Readjust the veggies toward the middle of the pan to get the heat, add just a little water, and put a lid on the skillet to let it all steam.  I would say let it steam 5-10 minutes, depending on how squishy you like your veggies, but adjust accordingly.

Remove the lid and let it cook for another couple of minutes to let some of the water evaporate.  Get a bowl with your spinach ready. I cut the asparagus in the pan, which I probably should not do since it could ruin the finish, but what can I say I am a rebel.

Anyway, toss the veggies in straight on top the spinach.  This will cause it to wilt and soften a little and it is majorly yummy.  Toss on the feta and berries, and add just a little pepper to the salad.  Cut the bacon into little pieces, add to the salad, and squeeze a little lemon juice on top.

Devour.  And enjoy.  I would seriously eat this salad all the time! I would have liked it a little better with some tomatoes in it, but my fridge was sadly lacking. 

For just one little piece of bacon, this salad had some amazing flavor.  AMAZING.  I really do not ever get excited about salads. I am actually excited about being excited...

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Spaghetti Squash and Garlic Shrimp

-1 spaghetti squash
-6-10 shrimp (based on size)
-Garlic or garlic cheese topper (I use the latter)
-1 TB butter
-Parmesan Cheese

Preheat your oven to 375 and cut the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds and such from the middle.  Add just a touch of salt and pepper to the cut side, pour 1/2 C water into a 9x13 glass baking dish, and put the squash in cut side down.

Roast for about 35 minutes, remove from oven, and use a fork to scrape the insides into a yummy pile of veggie-ghettie. (My computer wanted to change that to veggie-ghetto, hence the random -ie...).  You will want to start your shrimp 5-10 minutes before it is done.
Shrimp is not something that needs a whole lot of effort in my opinion.  I heat a skillet on medium or just a touch over medium and melt a TB of butter.  I cook the shrimp a couple of minutes on each side, sprinkled with garlic cheese topper, salt, and pepper.

When it is all done, toss the shrimp on the "noodles" and grate a little parmesan over top.  Salt to taste.

I used one half for this dinner and the other half I ate for lunch at work with marinara and mozzarella over it.  It was really tasty!

This is a fun way to eat pasta now and then without really eating pasta.  I love some pasta, truly, but I also like that this is packed with yummy orange-veggie nutrients. Plus, who doesn't love a food imposter (or should I say, im-pasta...)

The meal itself was really yummy so I think I will do this with regular noodles sometime too.  I served it all up with some cucumbers with a little salt and pepper on them and some multigrain toast. 

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gourmet Grilled Cheese: Bacon, asparagus, mozzarella

You need:
-2 strips of bacon, cut in half
-6 asparagus spears
-a couple slices of fresh mozzarella
-2 slices of Eurograin or similar whole grain yummy bread

Get a skillet heating on medium to medium-high heat.  Get a plate ready and put both slices of bread on it, one with the cheese (or divide the cheese between the two if you like).  You are going to cook the insides of the sandwich first, then assemble it, then cook it as a grilled cheese.

Drop the bacon in the skillet and give it about 2 minutes, then add in the asparagus.  This process will leave you with a crunchier asparagus, which I was perfectly fine with as I wanted some texture from it.

IF you completely have no interest in crunch asparagus, steam the asparagus first. 

Cook the bacon with the asparagus, and remove the bacon when it is sufficiently crispy.  Drain if needed on a paper towel before putting on the cheese.  Cook the asparagus a few minutes longer, basically until it blisters or is to your desired level of done-ness.

Assemble the sandwich and transfer the asparagus to it.  Drain the excess bacon grease out of the skillet and wipe off any that spills down the outside.  Add just the TINIEST little smear of butter to each side of the bread, return the skillet to the heat, and put your sandwich.  I popped a lid on mine for about 3 minutes to trap the heat in and get my cheese melting.

Cook until brown and then flip, again cooking until your desired level of brown-ness.  I like to smoosh mine with a spatula right after I flip it...I really do smoosh everything it seems.

I served mine up with some cucumber slices to act as crunchy chips, and to add a slightly more healthy element to the meal. 

I got this idea because I was thinking about making some bacon wrapped asparagus.  I have a really obnoxious smoke alarm that literally goes off as soon as my oven comes on, regardless of the fact there is no smoke anywhere. I developed an elaborate scheme of putting press and seal over it for when I cook, always taking it down promptly after dining.  That annoying smoke alarm, my lack of interest in finding my press and seal cover, partnered with the fact that the forecast for today says it will be over 90 (and as I look at my computer weather widget, it is in fact 92) made me less than interested in turning on my oven.

AND THAT is how this fantastic grilled cheese was created.  The irony is that I have veggie beef soup going in my crockpot for when I get back after my night class, which I suppose is not a 92 degree day type of meal either.  But it is comfort food, and you definitely need comforting after a night class that long. This sandwich was quite comforting, I feel my mood rising as I type!

This was such a tasty lunch that I am glad I did not want to turn on my oven.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Spinach Veggie Burger (Or the Most Delicious Eggs Benedict Base!)

-1 Cup Spinach, rough chop
-1 Egg whipped with 1/4 C milk (start with half to two thirds of this mixture, then add more as needed, discussed later)
-1/4 C cooked quinoa (I like tri-color, it's more festive)
-1/4 C Dry Blend (I use equal parts AP Flour, corn flour, and panko.  I LOVE the corn flour in this, I highly suggest not subbing that) plus more for sprinkling (works great as a frying breading so having more on hand is not a bad thing)
-2 TB garlic cheese topper (McCormick makes one in standard groceries, I like Shipshewana that I find at festivals)
-Salt and pepper
-Optional ingredients like feta or roasted peppers to add in

This is super simple and you just want to mix it all together and form a patty.  You may need to add a little extra dry ingredients or spinach to get it to hold just right, so adjust accordingly.  I mixed mine with a spoon and was satisfied when I could scoop it in toward the center and form a mound that did not move.
Anyway, get a skillet hot and melt a TB or so of butter in it (or oil of choice). Sprinkle a little of the dry mix on top of the patty and plop that side down in the skillet.  Salt and pepper the top and add a dry sprinkle to it as well.

Cook it about 5 minutes and flip.  You may need to drizzle the top with a tiny bit of oil before you flip if you want it to brown (or add just a touch more butter, my preference).

Cook it another 4-5 minutes, smooshing it (technical term) with a spatula when you first flip it any maybe another time near the end.  I smoosh everything.

As is my mantra for all meat and faux meat cooking, you want to only flip this thing once.
 Now as to why I said only use half the egg mix and add more if you need to.  I made some baked onion rings so I had used some of the egg mix for that. It was actually one of my more brilliant schemes because I was able to use the egg mix and the dry blend for both dishes.

The onion rings sucked by the way.  Next time, they get fried.

Anyway, that is why I suggest using parts of the mixtures and adjusting as needed.  I obviously only had a part of a milky egg in mine. You could use full amounts, add more spinach, and get multiple patties out of it.

I shredded a little parmesan on mine...because I must just love washing my smallest grate shredder multiple times a day.

Now, as I said in the title, while I was eating this all I really wanted to do in life was poach an egg and make it into an eggs benedict.  It would have been freakishly fantastic.  I reserve that idea for next time.

This was hearty and tasty, and really did not seem at all like I was eating an entire cup of chopped up spinach leaves.  This all started when I noticed I was shedding even more than usual, so I googled superfoods for hair.  Spinach was on that list, and I had been wanting to make a veggie burger, and so here we are.

I served mine on Eurograin bread that I find in Meijer's bakery.  It is delicious.  A little mayo would have been superb on this, but I was trying not to kill the healthy.  You could consider a little ranch dip mix in Greek yogurt, however. A sauce of some sort is really rather needed for all sandwiches, in my opinion.

Happy crafting!

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Theme Shaped Ravioli for Baby Showers, Parties, Super Bowl, and More

 Quick recap on making ravioli:

In a mixer with a dough hook, mix 2 C AP flour with a pinch of salt.  Add 3 eggs, one at a time.  Add 1 TB of oil.  Mix until it forms a ball.  Turn out on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Cover with plastic wrap and rest it for 30 minutes.  You can also add in herbs as desired, mix them with the flour/salt mix in first step.

You will want to work in smaller pieces of the dough ball (thirds or so) to prevent it drying out.  Roll it out about 1/8th in thick or so on a floured surface.  Cut it to your desired shape.  I had a really hard time deciding between ducks and stars...but this guy was just too cute.

Cut out the ducks and then fill with desired filling.  This filling pictured is 1 sweet potato, peeled and boiled until tender, mixed with 1 TB butter and a little ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
 Wet the edges with water, and lay the top layer over it.  Press any air out from around the filling and press the edges down.  Crimp with a fork.

Sit it on a floured cookie sheet and continue on with the rest of the ducks and dough.

You have a couple of cooking options.  You can boil these 4-6 minutes in salted water at a rolling boil and top with your favorite sauce (maybe it is a cute birthday meal for a youngin').  OR you can bake them until crispy for an appetizer party food!
To bake these, I mixed about 1/4 C Chobani Plain 2% Greek Yogurt (sour cream will work too) with 4 TB or so of milk (I really just slopped some in there).  You want a base that is thick enough that it will stay on there, think egg batters.  In fact, you could probably use an egg batter for this.

I am an egg hoarder, however, because they are a critical breakfast food for me.  I had PLENTY of extra Greek on hand.

Anyway in another small bowl mix cinnamon sugar together (up to you on how cinnamon-y you want it).  Dip the ravioli first in the yogurt mix, and then in the cinnamon mix.  Lay on a greased baking sheet.  If you want to avoid some serious scrubbing, allow me to suggest parchment paper and adjust your cooking time as needed.

I was afraid these might run all over the place as I had never made them before, so I put mine in my cake pan just to avoid it getting all over my oven.  They did not, however, run anywhere and I would have been just fine making them on a cookie sheet. 

Bake at 375 for 14-16 minutes, maybe a little longer if using parchment paper (have not tried that, so just be wary).  You can also coat these with breadcrumb and parmesan for a savory bite.  The combinations of fillings and breadings are numerous!

These ducks would be so cute for a baby shower, or even better...A DUCK DYNASTY PARTY!

I had made these yesterday and frozen them, fully intent on waiting a week or so to use them.  But the cuteness was overwhelming, I had to give it a go.  I made up a few quick dipping sauces of yogurt mixed with caramel, one with honey, and one with maple.  The caramel was the best (even though I still am displeased with my Smucker's caramel for lack of flavor).  I finally got to use my trio tray.

Flowers would be adorable, stars, apples with an apple filling in them would be genius, FOOTBALL shaped ravioli for Super Bowl...there are a lot of things that you can do this with.  The dough should make 15-25 ravioli depending on how big your cutter is, and these can be made up in advance and then frozen.  I let mine thaw before coating and baking them.

These are definitely on my graduation party radar for Spring.

Happy crafting!
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Creole Sole Fish with Spicy Roasted Veggies and Tri-Color Quinoa

Ingredients (per serving needed)
-1/4 cup cooked tri-color quinoa
-10 to 15 slices of summer squash
-3 okra, sliced
-1/2 C cherry tomatoes or small tomato blend, chopped
-1/2 chipotle pepper, finely minced
-1 filet of sole
-Zataran's or preferred creole seasoning

Now. Normally I would say salt right? No.  If you are using Zatarans you will NOT need salt.  It has PLENTY.  If you are using another kind, add if needed.

Add 1 TB of butter and 1/8th of a cup of water to a skillet and heat on medium.  Add in all the veggies and peppers.  Add a light sprinkle of creole seasoning (desiring to mimic that flavor through the dish). Cover with a lid and steam for about 10 minutes.
Depending on how done you like your veggies, you may want to go ahead and start cooking the fish at that ten minute mark.  Look at the veg and add another bit of steaming time if needed.  At the ten minute mark, go ahead and get a second skillet heating on medium or just a little higher.

When you feel like you have about 3 or 4 minutes left to get the vegetables how you prefer them, give the sole a solid sprinkle of creole seasoning, add 1 TB of butter to the heated skillet, and put the fish in.  You want to hear some serious sizzling. 

At this point you can also go ahead and toss in the quinoa to the vegetable mix.

Cook the fish a minute or two on each side, my filet was papery thin so it hardly took any time at all to cook up.  Adjust your timing as needed if you have a larger piece.

As with all meats, I suggest only flipping once. That should not be a problem with this swimmer.

Put a bed of quinoa/veggies on a plate and grate a little fresh parmesan over them.  I cannot really vouch for the creole authenticity of parmesan...but I do know it is delicious!  Transfer your cooked fish to the bed and dig in.

You may want to cut the chipotle back a little if you are not a big fan of heat, or leave it out entirely.  The seasoning on the fish has a little heat of its own, so keep that in mind.

I personally liked the dish as is, I know my mom would rave over it because she is a heat lover and a veggie lover, and I will have to make this sometime when I go home.  I am still not 100% sold on my Zataran's seasoning, it has a lot of flavor but it has a crap ton of salt.  I really prefer to be in control of salt levels...

But I do have a whole container of it so I probably will use it (and not salt at the same time).

I almost fell over dead a few days ago because someone said they never use salt when cooking.  First of all, that should be illegal.  You definitely don't want to oversalt things, but you can't hope to get the most out of a dish without just a little salt! Undersalted food is pretty high on my most depressing things list.

It might even be #1 since I just made the list up for that sentence...

Anyway, just because I am in grad school does not mean I have to eat boring, sad food.  I raided a farmer's market this morning, and this is one of the NUMEROUS dishes I will be posting over the next few days that utilize some of my spoils.  I am very excited to get going with all of this tasty produce.

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Photo Book: Life and Other Shenanigans Cookbook Chronicles!

Click here to view this photo book larger
The new way to make a photo album: photo books by Shutterfly.

I made a photobook of all of my favorite recipes from my blog! Now I have them on hand and ready to go in times of very slow internet (which happens to me more than I like!).  Thank you Shutterfly!
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Homemade Ravioli (Sweet Potato Filling)

The recipe for the dough that I used was a Tyler Florence recipe.  Believe it or not...I did not even alter it (except I did not bother with the cornmeal I just used flour).  This might be the first time I have ever not deviated from a recipe...

I followed his exact instructions on mixing, kneading, letting it rest, and similar.  I mixed mine in my kitchenaid, let it rest, and then rolled it out by hand.  Yes I know I could mix dough by hand...but let's not get too ahead of ourselves.

I actually enjoyed kneading it and rolling it by hand, which is good because pasta devices can be a bit expensive (especially since I would buy something Cuisinart...)
 Anyway, I rolled it out really thin with my super long Nordicware rolling pin that is basically my new favorite kitchen thing.  My only issue with it is that my limited counter space is constantly an issue on having enough room to roll things.  I am looking in to that this weekend though with possible organizational overhaul.

Anyway back to the pasta.  I boiled cubed sweet potato until it was tender (maybe 30 minutes or more, you technically could microwave it but I refuse).  When it was done I drained it, mashed it, and added a TB of butter and a dash of nutmeg, ginger, and salt.  I let that cool while my ravioli rested.

Then I rolled it out with my previously mentioned awesome rolling pin and used my biscuit cutter to cut rounds.  Ironically, I never make cut-out biscuits, so I guess I should start calling it my ravioli cutter.
 I put a teaspoon of filling on a ravioli bottom, wet the edges with water (that actually was a deviation from T. Florence, eggs are a hot commodity in my apartment and I did not want to use another one just for a wash) and put the top round on and crimped the edges with a fork.  Make sure before you crimp that you press down around the filling edges to get any little air bubbles out.

You could also use wonton wrappers instead of making your own...but where is the fun in that? :)

Anyway I plopped mine on a floured cookie sheet until I had them done.  This recipe would probably make about 20 raviolis of this size at a minimum...why do I say probably? Mostly because I made 8 and then called it quits.  I was a hungry soul, and the rest of the dough will rest happily in my fridge until I decide what to fill or make it into tomorrow.
 Get a pot of salted water boiling and drop the ravioli in two at a time.  They need about 3-5 minutes to cook depending on how tender you like yours (I did four but personally wished I had let them go a little longer).  They start to float a couple of minutes in, so every 2 minutes I dropped ravioli.  This way, the first ones in were floating and the second two were at the bottom of the pan and would not risk sticking.  By the time the two were ready to start floating up, I could pull the first two out because they were done.

Sometimes, I function like a machine. Just never at 6 AM before work.

Anyway, I got mine out with my tea strainer! So handy.  I never use it for tea I guess I will now call it my ravioli strainer.  Funny how that works out.  If you are making a lot you may want to put them on a warm plate, or cover them with foil, something to keep the heat in. 
I served up these babies with my chipotle alfredo sauce that I made two days ago (found here:  ) and some grilled chicken.  I topped it with a lot of fresh parmesan. Cracked pepper and fresh grated parmesan should be required for life!

It may sound like an odd combination, but sweet potato seems to be used in a lot of southwest-type dishes and with chicken and similar.  It tastes rich more than anything when you don't have it loaded with brown sugar and butter.  It held up really well to the sauce.  For the rest of the sauce I have left, I am going to freeze it in smaller containers to pull out and use over the next couple of months.  In theory, it should freeze in an ice cube tray just fine as well (I do that with marinara because I use so little at a time) but I have an excess of tiny containers that need a purpose.

I was stuffed by the time I ate all this, but it was definitely worth it.  This homemade ravioli was absolutely worth the work.  I will probably make it in big batches and freeze it in the future. 

You could add herbs right into the dough even, depending on what you wanted to fill it with.

I am a big fan of learning how to make things homemade.  Even if you only do it once, you learn the work that goes into it and I think it really helps us appreciate food a little more.  Not to mention, I am all for having things with a lot fewer preservatives, as well as being able to pick how much salt goes in something.  And I ALWAYS have flour on hand!

Flavored oils may be another fun consideration for making the dough.  Now that I have made it once, you better believe that my next attempts with have a little more shenanigan flare to them. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Easy Mango Quick Jam (or any other fruit you have leftovers of!)

 I apologize for my phone that takes pictures sideways without me noticing...

-1 mango, very finely diced
-1/2 C sugar
-couple drops of vanilla
-couple drops of lemon extract (or some zest if you have lemons)
-2 shakes of ginger

I refuse to ever make something mango without ginger.  I am just saying.
 Anyway, I put the mango in my pan before turning it on.  I used a dead ripe, ripest of ripe, wrinkling quality ripe, mango.  It was delectably juicy.  I poured in my sugar, heat still not on, and stirred it all around to get the sugar stuck on the mango and in all the juicy goodness.  This way, I avoided needing to use water and/or my sugar burning.

You can also go ahead and add the extracts and spice directly after.  Turn the heat on to medium or just a little higher, and start stirring.

Stir and heat for about 10 minutes, I mashed around while stirring to break some of the chunks down. You still (in my opinion) want some of the chunks in there just as you would with preserves.

After the ten minutes of heating and stirring, transfer to a mason jar and pop in your fridge when it cools a bit.  I put mine in a pint jar and before I spooned out 4-6 spoonfuls this morning for toast it was much fuller than the picture.  What can I say, I had big bread for toast this morning...

Excuse my photos being of not as great quality, my phone is having some issue.  The jar is on my window sill to get some better light in...didn't really help. :P
I think this would be fantastic on English muffins, especially a whole or honey wheat variety. 

Mango to me is like the butter of the fruit world, it is really rich and is actually not overly sweet, even when it is wrinkly-ripe.  It is versatile and can be used in a lot of savory dishes as well as desserts (much like an avocado, but with a more mass appeal flavor). 

Just make sure that you get a mango that is really soft.  A hard mango is not ripe.  If it sets in your fridge so long it starts to get wrinkly, this is a perfect recipe!

I see no reason why this could not be done with other fruits as well.  My main issue with jams and jellies and canning in general is multiple:
1) I have a small apartment and a lot of carpet and I really don't want to take on numerous bushels of peaches or similar.

2) Buying enough fruit to make an army of jars full can be pricey, and I am on a college budget.

3) I have a grand total of 4 feet of counter space, plus a 3 foot kitchen island...not a lot of real estate for canning.

And finally,

4) It takes me a good long while to get through one jar of jelly...much less 50.

I am a somewhat stringent breakfast eater of eggs (usually scrambled) and some multigrain toast with a little butter each morning.  I am very systems oriented, and not the best morning person that ever walked the earth, so a routine fits me just fine.  On the weekends I do occasionally go for something more of a splurge, but I just prefer the land of salty in the morning.

I really hate wasting fruit. There are so many things that you can do even with fruit that is a little past prime on ripeness, case in point bananas used in bread recipes.  This is a simple way to extend its usability.  This jam can also be used for macaron filling, donuts, cookies, anything else where a traditional jam would come in handy.

Spread over a cheesecake...

Things to think about!

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chipotle Alfredo Sauce

-1 Chipotle pepper, very finely minced (I used canned)
-1.5 TB butter
-HEAPING TB of flour (so basically 1.5 TB)
-1.5 to 2 C milk (I did not have quite 2 cups)
-1/4 C+ parmesan cheese (or alternative cheese as desired, more on that later)
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Optional 1/4+ C of Chobani Plain 2% Greek (to tone down the spicy if it is too much, or to thicken the sauce if needed)

If you can make a gravy, you can make this sauce.  If you can't, follow these instructions and we might just teach you both!

Melt the butter with the minced chipotle on medium high until completely melted and just starting to bubble.
 Toss in the flour and stir like crazy with a wooden spoon.  I did this in a 14 inch skillet with tall sides because I don't like to risk sloshing, and so I made sure that I stirred the outer edges in toward the center to capture all that butter.

When the flour is incorporated, add the milk and a little salt and pepper.  This for me is always just pouring milk out of the jug until I am satisfied.  The first time I made gravy, however, I measured and it was 2 I tend to eyeball right about there.  As you start to stir it will look splotchy and streaky.
Keep it on medium high and stir constantly.  After a little bit you will notice that the sauce is starting to drag the bottom as I like to call it for lack of a more official term.  When you stir, you will see the bottom of your pan.  That is when you know you are close.  The sauce will also start to really come together in color as well.

After it starts to do that heat it for another 3-5 minutes or until it is to your liking on thickness.  Remove from heat and add in shredded fresh parmesan.  If you happen to have it, you could use a more authentic queso-type cheese and give this a little more of a southwest flare.

Anyway, stir the cheese in until it melts and give the sauce a taste. Add more salt if needed, and add something like Greek yogurt or sour cream if you need to tone down the spicy or thicken the sauce a bit more.

Now, in essence the bits where you come across a chipotle pepper may be too spicy for your liking.  You completely could leave the pepper itself out and just start with a couple of teaspoons or so of the adobo sauce that they are packed in.  You can easily adjust this sauce to a lot of different heat levels.

I think that this would be phenomenal on a seafood fettuccini dish, especially shrimp. Shrimp, when you think about it, is used a lot with spicier flavors and it holds up fantastically. It would of course be great with other things too like chicken and whatnot.

I love a dish with heat that builds.  You taste it and it does not light your taste buds on fire but instead tastes incredibly rich.  Then you swallow it and start to notice that it did in fact have a bit of a kick to it.  I think this sauce achieves that pretty well.

Why did I make a sauce when I really wasn't using it for dinner tonight? Well I really needed to use the rest of my milk.  I made a mango quick-jam as well because I needed to use my last mango.  But more on that tomorrow.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oatmeal

-3/4 C Oats
-1 C Milk
-1/4 C Chobani Plain 2% Greek Yogurt
-1/4 C Chunky Applesauce (I like Meijer)
-1/2 TB Chia seeds
-1/2 TB Cinnamon/Sugar Mix
-2 Shakes ginger
-Texture Toppings: Dried fruit, pecans, pie crust pieces, caramel bits or toffee, etc.

So this is pretty simple, you just toss it all in a mason jar, give it a good stir, and let it do its thing overnight in the fridge. This for me filled a pint mason jar mostly full.

Now, I am a human and therefore I make mistakes.  There are two possible mistakes in this adventure of mine.  First, I tried to add caramel to mine originally (a heaping teaspoon, and I mean very heaping) and I just could not taste it at all.  The mistake is maybe not so much in the idea but more in the product.  Smuckers caramel topping just doesn't have a lot of flavor in my opinion...should have got the Hershey's.

But the real mistake on my part was not adding in something for texture.  The texture of this stuff is actually not that far from normal oatmeal, and the chia seeds add a lot of nutrients but disappear texturally after the overnight soak. However, I was never overly fond of the oatmeal texture and always used to add dried fruits and nuts.

You definitely should consider doing that with this.  It just needs something to vary the severe monotony of texture.  If I could put anything I wanted in, it would be German Roasted Pecans.  However, with what was available in my fridge I should have at least put dried berry blend in it.

You could dice up an apple and put in it, or get really fancy and make some pie crust ahead of time and crumble it in.  ANYTHING to add a little variety to this will be a step in the right direction.

Don't want to make pie crust? Consider a cinnamon apple Belvita.  Consider graham crackers.  CONSIDER SOMETHING! Cannot stress the need for crunchy enough here.

This actually filled me up really quick and I was not able to eat the whole thing, so about 1/3 of it is back in my fridge.  Once I get some texturally inspired additions, I actually could see this being something I make regularly, as it would be a quality snack or an I-Overslept-Oh-No-Breakfast-On-The-Run type of deal. 

And I think you are completely insane if you don't buy chunky applesauce.  It is delicious (not so much on Kroger's kind, I like the store but the apples in their chunky applesauce are still too crunchy and undercooked tasting).  Pin It Now!

Monday, September 2, 2013

4H Pig Cookies

So, summer and fair season may be over, but that doesn't mean we can't still have a nice little tribute to something so close to many communities: 4-H! As I am from a small town, we are especially fond of 4-H here and farming and livestock and all other sorts of shenanigans.

These cookies were done with edible images for the square 4H emblem cookies, and a cute pig cutter for the others. Check a local bakery supply store or similar for the availability of getting the images to make the cookies yourself, or for having someone make them for you.  We have a bakery material supply store nearby that will print them.

Now, a pink pig is pretty cute in and of itself, but a spotty little pig is even more adorable and far more appropriate for this particular order. You even could stick the big sugar googly-eyes on these for an extra level of fun.

These are great for end of season parties and similar for any of your favorite little 4-H-er's. 

These are decorated with royal icing, and we suggest either making a stiffer version for outlines, or at a minimum putting the outline on first and then filling in the center.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Veggie Casserole: Eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, tomato

-1/2 of a large eggplant, peeled and cubed
-1 pack of mini bella mushrooms, chopped
-1 roma tomato, sliced
-1 C spinach or lettuce blend, chopped
-1/4 C feta
-1/4 to 1/2 C mozzarella (to desired level of cheese-iness)
-1/4 C parmesan (shredded)
-1/4 C panko
-couple of pats of butter
-salt and pepper

Boil or steam the eggplant and mushrooms until tender with a little salt and pepper.  When they are done, drain them and put them in a 9 inch casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 350.
 Toss in the spinach, tomato slices, and feta cheese.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and add in some basil or garlic if you like.

Next, add on the mozzarella (shredded).  Mix the panko with the shredded parmesan and spread it on top.  Melt a tablespoon or two of butter and drizzle it over the topping.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until it gets to your desired level of golden deliciousness.

I actually just ate mine like a meal, so I pretty much ate half the dish. It was really delicious and it warmed up really well the next day as leftovers.

If I was doing it again, I would DEFINITELY add summer squash in the mix.  A nice yellow squash would fit perfectly.
This was nice and filling and a great use for some mushrooms that I found on sale. I froze the rest of my eggplant for use in stir fry later.

You could do this with just about any veggies that you have on hand or the ones that you like to eat.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!