Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christmas Pins Roundup

What pins did you try out for Christmas this year? Here are the ones that I either made or ate for the Holidays:

Easter egg ornaments - My kids loved these.
Kettlecorn - Note that some popcorn poppers allow for only 1/2 cup of kernels.
Oreo truffles - My sister made these and they were amazing.
Applecrisp - Super easy!
Peppermint bark - You can get candy canes without red dye 40 from Whole Foods.
Double Chocolatey Hot Cocoa in a Jar - This makes a lot of hot cocoa!
Cowgirl Cookies in a Jar - Substitute chocolate chips for the candies if you want to avoid food dyes.
Trailblazer bean soup in a jar - Gifts in a jar are easy to make.
Glitter Tea Towels - The tulip glimmer transfer sheets are really easy to cut and use!
Wrapping paper bows - Just as easy as it looks.
Sweet Potato Pie - Vegan!

Things I want to try next year:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Easter Egg Ornaments

Who else has toddlers who won't leave the Christmas tree alone? Even my four year old occasionally brings me an ornament to ask me about it or to request permission to fly it like a space ship. And then leaves it in the two year old's reach. ARG.

Some years we set up a separate little tree for them, which they love, but which I totally forgot to do this year. I forgot in part because I was busy obsessing over these babies:

Pin it!
The 2yo was so excited that he wouldn't hold still.

The kids went nutso over them, too. They flew them around like spaceships. They ran through the house with them. And only one out of six started to fall apart!

I got the inspiration from a Martha Stewart craft where they wanted you to use actual craft materials to make nice looking owl treat boxes. Since I wanted them for my little kids to destroy, I used:

1. Easter eggs
2. Felt
3. Googly eyes
4. Ribbon for hanging
5. Low temp hot glue gun/glue

Here is how I put them together:
1) I sketched out the pieces I wanted on plain paper, cut them out, and held them up to one of the eggs as a prototype. 

2) Then, I selected eggs that still had both halfs attached and still opened and closed easily, because the kids were going to be coming to me any time that they had trouble opening and closing them.

3) I lay out several different colors of felt and traced my paper cut outs with white fabric pencil all in one go.

4) I cut all the pieces out, making small piles that went together for each egg.

5) Then it was time to warm up the low temp hot glue gun! The seam where the eggs are held together I designated the back and, in the case of the angels, glued the wings there first. For the owls I began by gluing the face on the "front" top. Careful not to glue anything to the seam or across the seam, so that the eggs will still open.

6) Cut ribbon and glue on the top back.


Have fun!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Beer Marshmallows
I pinned this recipe a few months ago for the novelty of it. I don't really like beer, but my husband and his family are beer lovers so I thought if I ever got the opportunity I'd make these. I did not make these chocolate covered, because I doubt my ability to temper chocolate. With my sister-in-law's 28th birthday coming up, I decided I finally had an excuse to try my hand at homemade marshmallows! 
The beer I chose for this project was called Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout. This is a dark stout beer with 10% ABV from the New Belgium Brewing Company. My husband's sister actually got him this beer for Christmas and we decided it would be perfect for these marshmallows. 
Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout

Since I started these the night before, I neglected to take pictures of the mixing stage. It wasn't very exciting, so it's not a big loss, lol. For this recipe, you will also need a candy thermometer. When working with melted sugar, it is very important that you take all safety precautions!

The ingredients are as follows:

Approx. 1 cup confectioners sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold, flat beer
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup flat beer heated to approx. about 115°F
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites*
1 teaspoon vanilla
*If you’re concerned about egg safety, substitute reconstituted powdered egg whites.

I don't know how long it takes beer to get flat, but I gave mine about 3 days. About 1/4 of liquid evaporated in the meantime, giving the beer a much stronger flavor. 

Here are the directions according to the source blog Greenbush Brewing Co:

1. Oil bottom and sides of a 13×9-inch rectangular baking pan and dust bottom and sides with confectioners’ sugar. *Erin's Note: These made super thick marshmallows. For thinner marshmallows, I might use a larger and shallower pan or split it between two 9x13 pans. 

2. In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold beer and let stand to soften.

3. In a medium (3-quart is good) heavy saucepan, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, heated beer, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F., about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

4. With standing or a hand-held electric mixer, beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. In a large bowl with cleaned beaters, beat whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and sift 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.

5. Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert onto a large cutting board. Lift pan and loosen one corner of marshmallow and let drop onto cuttingboard. (Here’s where it gets sticky.) With a pizza cutter, cut marshmallow into roughly 1-inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Brush off excess confectioners’ sugar.

Unfortunately, I did not give these enough time to rest at room temperature so they were quite sticky. I did not bother with the chocolate coating because I do not trust myself to temper chocolate correctly, lol. I do not particularly care for beer, so I wasn't enamored, but my sister-in-law loved them, so YAY! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Raspberry Turnovers

Source: via Michelle on Pinterest

I have a wee problem, and that problem is that I bought too many chocolate chips. BJs had a giant bag of them, which I then purchased and set in the cupboard over the over-the-stove microwave. Pretty soon they were breaking down and starting to color. Yeah, turns out it gets hot there. So, in my panicked search for chocolate chip recipes, I came across this one.

 Verdict? Simple and delicious! A friend and I may or may not have eaten the whole pan in one sitting.


  1. 1 package/1 cup frozen raspberries
  2. 3/4 semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate chips
  3. 1/3 cup seedless strawberry (or raspberry) jam
  4. 2 tubes refrigerated crescent dough

  1. Heat the oven to 375*F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil for good measure. 
  2. Open your crescent dough roll and place half of the triangles out on the sheet. Use the rest to turn these triangles into squares, pinching the joining sides together. We managed parallelograms, so ours turned into triangles instead of rectangles and didn't hold quite as much.
  3. Mix together chocolate chips, raspberries, and jam in a bowl. Spoon into your squares, covering only half of them. It's easy to put in too much.
  4. Fold your squares in half and press the sides together with a fork. Pierce each top for venting. We didn't bother with an egg wash, but if you're going to, this is the time to whisk a bit of egg and water together and brush it on top.
  5. Bake for 11 at 375*F or until the edges begin to brown.

Lesson: you cannot have too many chocolate chips!

Friday, May 3, 2013


Michelle, here!

Collard Greens are a(nother) first for me. I love garlic so when I saw the clear instructions for this easy recipe, I just had to try it. You can mix in similar greens like kale, as I did, or stick to collards.

All you need are:

  1. Collard Greens
  2. Whole Garlic
  3. Salt 
  4. A pot of boiling water 
  5. Strainer
  6. A saute pan
  7. Olive Oil
The original post has measurements, but I eyeballed every thing because I wasn't sure exactly how much greens I had and I love garlic more than most rational human beings.

The process:
  • First, prepare the greens by washing them and cutting out the stems. Removing the stems helps achieve an even consistency once they are cooked.
  • Second, salt the water in the pot and bring the pot to boiling. Dump in your greens for 5-10 minutes. Leaf vegetables are fairly delicate and you're about to cook them again, so it's difficult to under cook them. They also shrink down as they cook, so feel free to shove more in the pot than appears reasonable.
  • While they are boiling, slice your garlic thinly and heat up your olive oil in your saute pan. I used a whole bulb of garlic for about 3 bunches of greens. YUM.
  • Strain your greens.
    See? They already look cooked, but I want that garlic flavor in there!
  • Add the garlic to the hot saute pan, then a minute later, add the greens. Add a bit more salt if you like. Saute for a few more minutes, or until you can no longer resist the smell of garlic. :)
    OM NOM N-- Wait. The greens. Still need the greens.

This makes a great side and it is hard to mess up! Happy cooking. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Roasted Peanuts

Michelle, here.

This week I held raw peanuts in my hand for the first time ever. It was less of a magical moment and more of a "OMG. Raw peanuts exist? Now what?" Thankfully, roasting peanuts is very easy. You don't even have to shuck them, if you prefer.

My husband said that, if you like your shelled roasted peanuts salted, you can soak them in salt water overnight. But, see, that requires that he tell me this the night before instead of when the peanuts are in the oven. Bah! Sounds like work.

Here is what I did:

1. Spread shelled peanuts on baking pans.

2. Set oven to 350*
3. Roast for 25 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Tada! Really, that's it.


1. Do one pan at a time. I tried to do two pans and the pan closer to the heating element was overdone. Thus my burnt first attempt. Peanuts seem to quickly go from perfect to What Have You Done!
2. If you have a gas oven, like me, roast them for only 20 minutes.
3. If the peanuts are a tad overdone, remove them from the pan right away so that they will cool off faster.

Left to right: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd attempts. :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pita Bread!

Last week was Spring Break at my college.  I decided that I'd visit my brother and his family who live 5 hours away with my time off.  So on Wednesday I packed up the car and my son and I hit the road!  We had a great time being lazy and hanging out and as we were leaving, my brother and wife decided to gift me with their old Kitchenaid Stand Mixer as an early birthday present!  Seeing as a Kitchenaid was the only thing I've been wanting for years, I was totally stoked. 

And the angels rejoiced!

Unfortunately, life took over as usual so I wasn't able to bust this bad boy out until an entire week after I got home!  But today was the day. I cleaned the kitchen, wiped down this glorious machine, and scanned my Pinterest boards for something to create.  Since I had also brought home a cold from my brother's house along with the mixer, I decided to make something simple so I wouldn't be overtaxed.  I settled upon this pita bread recipe from Under the High Chair which I had pinned a few months back.  

The recipe is as follows:

1 tablespoon yeast

1 ¼ cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt

3- 3 ½ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. I make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’. Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.

Preheat oven to 425F.

With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden. Stick around for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four inch high pitas.
After 5 minutes
After 15 minutes

Unfortunately, I did not achieve actual pita breads here.  While I did get some delicious rolls, they were not hollow in the middle.  I am not quite sure what I did wrong.  It's possible I used too much flour (I added an extra cup because it was so sticky) or I kneaded it too long.  I think maybe my dough balls were too thick.  My son sure liked it, though!

A special shoutout to Homeland for the tutorial on how to align pictures in HTML!