Category Archives: Food

Turtledove Meringues

By now you’ve figured out that I love love love holiday baking. I really love sharing my baked goods too! But 2011 was really about getting healthy for me, so back in October I was convinced that I wasn’t going to do much holiday baking. That totally went out the window 🙂

For the most parts, I made classic favorites – Peanut Butter Balls, Oreo Balls, Peanut Butter Cup cookies. As my mom and I were finishing up our baking day, I decided I wanted to try these cute meringues, Turtledove Meringues to be exact. The picture was just too cute!

So I measure out my ingredients. I had never beat egg whites before, so I was totally surprised when they went from being regular egg whites to being foam. It was so cool!

And here’s my final beauties:

Turtledove Meringues

Ingredients
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Directions
Beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until small peaks form.
Keep beating, and slowly add sugar, one tbs at a time, until more peaks form.
Shape your turtledoves using the meringue in a frosting or Ziplock bag, doing this on parchment paper works great, but don’t plan on using the paper a second time.
Bake at 300 for 15 minutes, then turn oven off and leave in oven for 30 minutes.


Here are my turtledoves compared to the ones in the book. I think they turned out really well.

Then I got this not-so genius idea to make Ghosty Meringues. They didn’t turn out quite as awesome, I should have added more sugar or substituted the food coloring for the flavoring or something. They just weren’t as puffy, but they were just as delicious.

Cupcake Heaven

I finally found the key ingredient in delicious homemade frosting: Cream Cheese.

After weeks of thinking and recipe Googling, I decided on my flavors. First things first, need to lessen the holiday baking stash. Get rid of all cake mixes and candies.

The first batch I made was Chocolate Cherry. I used a recipe found here. Didn’t quite follow all the steps. The cupcakes were delish, but I’d either use only half of the cherry pie mix, or run it through my food processor before mixing with the batter. The heavy cherries just sank to the bottom of the paper. This recipe alone made like 36 cupcakes. If you like this flavor combo, I highly recommend.

Yum! Red Velvet was great! Recipe here. Deliciousness all around, follow the recipe as-is.

I found this recipe by accident, and I love mandarin oranges AND coconut, so it seemed like a win-win. I made this one with my Mom in mind because she was coming to my party and she doesn’t care for chocolate. These would be absolutely perfect as a breakfast muffin.

My complaints are small – 2/3 cup of oil was way too much. The PAN was greasy when I took the cupcakes out. Cut back to 1/3. Run the oranges through the food processor.

Don’t mind the burnt coconut, that’s the work of my lovely oven. The oven that I still haven’t mastered after a year and using it every week.

___

The other cupcakes were candy-bar themed.

I used a vanilla cake mix and divided the batter into two, Heath for one half and Cookies and Cream for the other.

The Heath were kinda fails. I put at least a cup of Heath bar in the cake batter. Halfway through cooking, I dropped a caramel into each cupcake. Thats where the fail comes along. The caramels were just sticky, hard and annoying.

Cookies and Cream also a failure. The crushed Oreo crumbles dried out the cupcake batter, so even tho I cooked these the correct time, they were still way way way dry and burnt.

Both of these cupcakes had plain Cream Cheese frosting.

Ingredients:

  • Cream Cheese (the 8oz container)
  • Butter/Margarine/Crisco (whatever you got works) – 1 cup
  • Powdered sugar (lots) – start with half a bag
  • Milk (for thinning)
  • Vanilla

Mix room temp cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar accordingly. Add vanilla. Taste. Add more powdered sugar if you need a thicker mixture. Mix til you think it tastes great. This is a big mixture for tall frosting, aka drowning the cupcake in frosting, as it should be.

You do not need any fancy schmancy cake decorating tools. I *tried* to use my reusable bag for one of the batches, was a total failure. It wasn’t Wilton’s but the bag was busting at the seams and seemed like the frosting was seeping through the fabric (word to the wise, dont buy cake decorating sets from Ikea). So, for the rest of them I just used gallon sized freezer bags. Worked great, less mess.

The last two had peanut butter themes – so take the above frosting mixture and add peanut butter. Start with half a cup. Add accordingly.

I mixed like a cup or two of crushed Butterfinger into the batter. Cook. No complaints.

I saved these for last because they were by far my favorite. I saved out 12 whole PB cups to top the cupcakes. The remaining were ran through the food processor and mixed into the batter.

So there you have it. Please don’t eat your computer screen.

Have your (cup)Cake and eat it too! Part 1.

There is a small business credit card commercial that I used to hear all the time. About a woman who started a cupcake and wine bar. I thought the concept was genius, and on the spot decided I wanted to do the same in the form of a party. So this has been on my mind for like 6 months.

What better way to drown the winter blues than with 7 different types of cupcakes?

First of all, I needed some decor. I didn’t want to go all out, but found a super cute idea online that took cupcake papers and styrofoam balls and made cupcakes. So I did just that!

As I was buying the ingredients, I found out how expensive styrofoam was. So I only bought a 6-pack and hoped that I would find something else of the same size to use for more. I’m cheap.

I stopped at Michaels later and they had some leftover Christmas decor – including plan, 3 inch not-heavy, not-sure-what-they-are-made-of Christmas balls (bulbs). On clearance for like a quarter each.

They were great for painting. Also glued sequins to a bunch as well. The original idea called for these to be made into Christmas ornaments, but I wanted garland. So I secured the loop under the pom-pom, and tied that on another piece of string.

Here’s a better shot of most of the styrofoam garland,

If I had to do-over, I think I’d stick to styrofoam. It was so much faster to slap on some glue (ok, I used ModPodge for the glitter) rather than hot glue individual sequins. I think I just liked the styrofoam ones better. I love these, but can’t help but think that they look more like ice cream cones than cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • Styrofoam Balls (3inch)
  • Cupcake Papers
  • Pom-Poms
  • Glitter
  • Paint brush
  • Paint (optional)
  • Sequins (optional)
  • Glue (Hot, Tacky, Modpodge, whatever you want)
  • Ribbon (optional)

Directions:

  1. Glue the ball to the bottom of the cupcake wrapper. I used hot glue.
  2. Decorate the ball. I brushed on the glue, then poured the glitter over. I was kinda leery about glitter on Styrofoam, but the excess shakes right off.
  3. Cut your ribbon, if you want it to hang. Like 5 inches? Fold in half, glue to top of ball, add a dab of more glue and add the pom-pom.
  4. Hang.
  5. Don’t eat.

I don’t want this post to get TOO long, so I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the edible cupcakes. I’ll post recipes and more detailed pics soon.

Elmo Big Top Cupcake

Ok, raise your hand if you have a Big Top Cupcake mold and you LOVE it!

ME ME ME!

This was my first try at making a cake with the Big Top Cupcake mold. I offered to make a cake for my friend’s 2 year old’s birthday. We decided on Elmo, white cake, almond filling.

The silicone pans come with directions, but I definitely should have made a trial cake last week. I ended up making two full cakes from three cake boxes because the first cake just didn’t quite live up to standards. Also, 20 mini cupcakes. I didn’t fill the molds enough on the first two. They definitely needed to be filled more than 2/3 full. 

The first cake. Not impressive. Not enough dough in the mold, too dark on the corners, and weird area of not cooked. Must try again.

 

Success! A top and a bottom, with a thin layer of glaze to hold all the cumblies in - Altho, this wasn't too crumbly!

I was very proud of the glaze – used Crisco instead of margarine, powdered sugar and milk. So, I wasn’t sure if should use the Crisco, but when my mom came over to help, she assured me that it was fine. Also, that a lot of people use that instead of margarine or butter, and I felt better. I bought some to make some Christmas cookie… when else am I going to use Crisco?! I need to use it up! 

Elmo needs eyes, and a nose.

Elmo has giant eyes, right? Well, frosting wasn’t going to do it. Those eyes needed height – almond bark covered Oreos (not pictured: I melted a tiny bit of chocolate for the pupils). He also needed a nose. So, I don’t know if I burnt the almond bark, or if it just didn’t like orange food coloring. Instead of dipping the Oreo, I just kinda molded it to the cookie, and made it round on top. Then I made sure to tell everyone not to eat his nose due to the questionable nature.

Close up of the orange almond bark madness. Next time I need colored bark, I'm just going to spring for the Wilton candies.

 

Almost there - his fur is done, a little matted in places, but what can you do? He's a Muppet!

I can’t take all the credit here. Mom did the frosting, I’m so glad she came to help! So here is all of his red fur, with space for his mouth. Also, at the top of the cake are slits to shove his eyes in. By this time, she still didn’t quite believe that this was going to look like Elmo. She thought I was crazy at first. Also, she had to remind me that when I was two, I ate half of my birthday cake while it was cooling and no one was looking. I think she was implying that Karma can be a bitch, but I’ve got a while before I have to worry about someone crawling on my table and eating my cakes 🙂

Elmo Cake

I probly shouldn’t have started with him as my first Big Top Cupcake, as I have no idea how to top this – but I do have at least two more cakes to make every month for the next like 4 months.

Bacon Explosion

Confession: I didn’t make this, my husband did. It was delicious. He did an awesome job.
Brian had been talking about this recipe for like a month before he finally made it. He started at 4 in the morning. The log of greasy goodness was done way before I woke up! He suggests serving it with scrambled eggs. I would also recommend pancakes and French toast, but mostly because I love them. 

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs of your favorite, thick sliced bacon
  • 1 or 1.5 lbs of Italian sausage, mild or spicy, your choice
  • Seasoning of choice, we used Cavandars
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Sliced green pepper
  • cookie sheet covered in tinfoil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Weave the bacon 5×5, this will serve as your outer layer. (Weave it like the potholders you made as a child, on the red loom)
  3. Cook and crumble remaining bacon
  4. Take weave of bacon, lay flat on cookie sheet/tinfoil. Flatten sausage over the weave. Spread BBQ sauce and season to your liking. 
  5. Lay pepper slices and bacon crumbles on top of sauce.
  6. Carefully roll the MEAT into a log, with the weave on the outside. Have the seam on the bottom.
  7. Coat the log with more BBQ and seasoning, to taste.
  8. Cook 2.5 or 3 hours, use a meat thermometer to test. You want the meat around 165°. 

 

Slice of explosion - notice the deliciousness.

LOX, Orange Chicken and House Progress

The creative juices are flowing… just no output. This is the first time I’ve really MOVED, and I didn’t realize how time consuming it would be to put all of my stuff away! It probably doesn’t help that on top of getting organized, I seem to be acquiring more and more stuff. Apparently Babies do that to you. I’ve already sectioned off a portion of my living room that will undoubtedly be devoted to TOYS for the next … 10 years. I can’t say that I’m not excited for the Lego Mania that is bound to happen in my living room. Also, I’ve got lots of stuff. Every time I get three totes put away, I go back to Mom and Dad’s house and pack up three more totes! Who knows what they are going to do with all their extra space!

So, here we are three weeks later and the only thing crafty I’ve done is make potholders – granted, they are awesome – Oh, and paint my craft room. Three of four walls are painted, the fourth may or may not be painted at a later date. Yellow, green and teal. 

Craft Room: In Progress

If that doesn’t satisfy your room decor needs, click on the photo to go to my flickr account, do some browsing and you’ll find the originals.

On the right is walls 1 (yellow) and 2 (green) with totes of fabric and plastic bags (Man to build shelves in closet soon); middle photo is a cool book shelf shoved in a couve; the photo on the left is walls 2 (green) and 3 (teal). These photos don’t do it justice – the bright colors will be very inspiring in months to come!

For those of you playing Sherwin Williams Home Game, the colors are:

  • 6907 Forsythia
  • 6931 Jolly Green
  • 6947 Tempo Teal

More about the middle photo: I had all intentions of putting my television on this shelf, but I just don’t think that is going to work. It will have to be housed on another stand, in another corner. All of my craft stuff (beads, sequins, feathers, trims, biased tape, paint, tools etc) had just been thrown in to a giant tote and a giant plastic bag. I bought twenty 6 qt Sterilite storage containers from Walmart and separated everything into it’s appropriate category. And of course, as any good crafter would have, the multiple containers of “What in the world am I ever going to do with this/I can’t get rid of these doll glasses, you never know when I will want them” crap. So – there’s half the storage in this shelving unit 🙂 Above those are patterns, more bead/button/embroidery organizers etc; the top shelf is books/magazines. 
Not pictured: the closet that will (eventually) be housing all of my fabric/recycled clothes.

Altho I haven’t been crafting, I’ve been cooking and doing some light baking. One of my goals for 2010 is to try one new recipe a month. January was a success, as I did two and Brian did one. Let me introduce you to: Orange Chicken.

Orange Chicken

This is a recipe is from the Diamond Jo Casino Employee Cookbook (Northwood, IA). My changes [following the original]. You might also want to make some rice! I recommend remembering to make the rice BEFORE the rest of the food is done cooking. Goes a lot faster.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb chicken (uncooked) [I used two chicken breasts]
  • 1/4 c onion, chopped [or a whole onion]
  • 1/4 c green peppers, chopped [or 2 whole green and red peps]

 

Sauce

  • 1/4 c frozen orange juice concentrate [more like half a cup; and we use orange-pineapple since it was on sale]
  • 1/4 c ketchup
  • 2 tbs soy sauce [lite SS of course, add more to taste]
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper [pretty sure I didn’t add these]
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • [add red pepper flakes next time – not too many, just enough for flavor]

Their instructions (Oven):

  1. Spray 9x3in glass baking pan. Place chicken, onion, peppers in dish.
  2. Mix sauce together and pour over chicken.
  3. Bake, covered, for one hour at 350. 
  4. Uncover and place orange slices on top, return to oven for 15 minutes
  5. This is a Weight Watchers recipe.

My instructions (Stove):

  1. You will need a good sized pan. The big-ish one. I don’t know what they are called. But you’re throwing all the ingredients in together and they all need to fit and cook.
  2. Cut onion and peppers into whatever size you like to eat.
  3. Cut chicken into bite size pieces.
  4. Mix sauce together. Will be thickish, shouldn’t be runny.
  5. If you like your onion clear, start cooking them in the pan for a few minutes before adding the chicken and peppers – add some sauce so the onions start cooking in the sauce. 
  6. Add remaining ingredients (chicken, peppers, remaining sauce). Cover. Set your stove to medium to high.
  7. Check periodically should be done when everything is cooked. You want to give the sauce enough time for all the flavors to mix, it definitely tastes better at the end than when you mix it together!

More Balls, and a new cookie

Mom and I had a marathon baking day yesterday – 700 cookies later and I’m still tired!

We made drop sugar cookies, Cheesecake Delights, Neapolitan Cookies, Peanut Butter cookies, Thumbprints, Almond Crunch, Caramels and finished some Peanut Butter Balls. I also spent all of Thursday evening baking more Oreo balls, Peanut Butter Balls, and Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies. We had so much fun trying a couple of new recipes with some tried and true ones. Also just having fun in the kitchen together. It was also fun when Beckey called asking for the fudge recipe, and Leah sending photos of her Oreo Truffles! Family baking day, thousands of miles apart 🙂

Only ONE week til Christmas!!! One more dessert to make, and a few more presents to buy. I am READY! While baking, lounging and making gifts I’ve been soaking in the Christmas music and Holiday movies (mostly on Lifetime). 

One of the new recipes I tried this year was a Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookie. I really like them! I haven’t shared them with anyone else, so perhaps the verdict is still out on this one. But I call it a success. 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookie

 

This is another cookie from the Taste of Home Holiday Christmas Cookies and Candies magazine. And I have to be honest… I doubled the butter right away and had to double the entire recipe. I still only ended up with about 30 cookies 🙂

Ingredients

  • 24 maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c packed brown suger
  • 1 tbs cherry juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/2 tsp shortening

Directions

  1. Pat cherries with paper towels to remove excess moisture; set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cherry juice and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refridgerate for 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.
  2. Insert a chocolate chip into each cherry (there should be a nice cut from where the pit was removed). Wrap a tablespoon of dough around each cherry. Place 1 in apart on ungreased baking sheet. I recommend following the directions on the tablespoon of dough – I didn’t follow that exactly because I accidently doubled the recipe. Mine was more like… two tablespoons. I also found it incredibly hard to “wrap” the dough around the cherry. So I mostly the scooped the dough onto the pan, then pushed the cherry into it and just kinda pulled the excess around the top. 
  3. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  4. In microwave, melt remaining chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Feel free to add more chips and shortening, these recipes never call for enough frosting. Dip tops of cookies in melted chocolate OR just spoon the chocolate on to cookie. Let stand and eat. 

Next up is another ball, just for my sister-in-law, Leah. She has some fascination with balls. Says she could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She likes Christmas with our family because we always have ham balls, and now Oreo balls and Peanut Butter balls. So Leah, this one is for you!

Peanut Butter Balls

 

This is an awesome recipe from my Grandma Drevs. So, I don’t ever remember her actually making these, but her name is on the recipe card. And I remember a few other delicious peanut butter and chocolate desserts 🙂 

Ingredients

  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c peanut butter
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 c graham cracker crumbs
  • Package of chocolate bark or chocolate chips

Directions – You have two options – you can make these into balls, or just spread in a pan and eat as bars. Grandma made them into bars. Also, you might as well double the recipe now, because it’s flawless and you will love it.

  1. Mix butter and powdered sugar, mix in peanut butter, then graham crumbs (if you are making the balls, don’t use a full cup of graham crumbs – just a little less will let you roll the balls easier) .

Balls

  1. Put out some parchment paper or tinfoil on the counter or a cookie sheet, someplace for your balls to dry.
  2. Roll into about 1 in balls, set aside.
  3. You will need the chocolate bark for the balls, the chocolate chips just wont set up enough. Melt the bark according to directions – as always, follow the directions so you don’t burn it! 
  4. Dip the balls into the chocolate. As I was putting the balls into the chocolate and removing them with a spoon, my mom suggested using a fork – it allows the excess bark to drip off before it gets to the pan. GREAT idea, as usual!
  5. Allow balls to dry, then eat and package!

Bars

  1. Spread mixture in 8×8 pan.
  2. Melt chocolate chips and spread over mixture.
  3. Let cool in fridge for 30 minutes (Grandma said not to leave it in longer or it would be too hard to cut!)

Peppermint and Macaroons

I had a busy weekend, filled with holiday preparations! Mom and I made four batches of fudge (pics and recipes to come!) and 6 pairs of flannel pants (pics to come!)! I’m still not done filling you in on my baking efforts from last weekend, so here are two more recipes for you to try!

Peppermint Meltaways

 

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 c cornstarch
  • 1/4 c sugar

Frosting

  • 2 tbs butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 1/4 tbs peppermit extract
  • red food coloring
  • 1/2 c crushed peppermint candies

Directions

  1. The original recipe calls for no sugar and 1 1/4 c of flour instead of just 1 cup. I followed the original recipe and the cookies turned out really bland – way too floury. My dad suggested that they need more sugar, so next time, I’m adding sugar. These cookies turned out OK – I will tweak the recipe and try them again. They were just a little plain the first time!
  2. In a small bowl cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy; Beat in extract; Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  3. Shape into 1 in balls, place 2 in apart on un-greased baking sheets. My suggestion – take a wooden spoon (or your finger) and push down on the ball, making a small indent. My cookies stayed in the ball shape, so the frosting didn’t have a place to go, it just dribbled off the cookie. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, milk, extract and food coloring (add til you get the color you want!); beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies. Sprinkle with crushed candies. 

 

Chocolate Macadamia Macaroons

 

Ingredients

  • 2 c flaked coconut
  • 1/2 c finely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 3 tbs baking cocoa
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 egg whites, beaten (or one egg!)
  • 1 tbs light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 squares (1 oz ea) semisweet chocolate

Directions

  1. In large bowl, combine the coconut, macadamia nuts, sugar, cocoa, flour and salt. Add the egg, corn syrup, vanilla and mix well. 
  2. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes or until set and dry to the touch. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. 
  3. In microwave, melt chocolate; stir until smooth. Dip the bottom of each cookie in chocolate, allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper (I prefer tinfoil), let stand until set. 

These are fantastic! My mom and I love them, but we are also a big fan of coconutty desserts. I just melted chocolate chips for the top, but the chocolate squares might work better! I also thought these would be good to really cool the dough and roll into balls, then dip in chocolate bark.

Have a good, fun, not boring cookie or bar recipe?! Send!

December Snow Day

Today was an (un)official snow day! I love snow days, even as an adult. What’s better than enjoying a relaxing day at home, not at work? My office was open, but my street was not plowed. My Focus was not going to tackle a foot of snow in the street and win. Instead, I finished my Christmas presents for kids (if your name is Brooke/Jade/Ty/HayHay/Emma/Dalton/Jenny/Alanna or are one of their mothers, you are warned not to read past the recipe!), made a batch of Chex Mix, puppy chow, and a half batch of Candy Cane Oreo Truffles.

Last Christmas I was obsessed with dipping things in Chocolate and drizzling icing on everything. Neither are hard tasks and they really give desserts that extra appeal. Not that most dessert needs extra appeal 🙂 So last year I tried a couple of truffle-like recipes – Oreo Truffles and Peanut Butter Cups. The peanut butter cups were from a bar recipe, and my mom didn’t think they would work as well as balls, but they were awesome. So today I had half a package of Oreos, and half a package of cream cheese. And since it is December, plenty of Chocolate Bark and Chocolate Chips on hand.

Candy Cane Oreo Truffle

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg of Oreos
  • 1 pkg (8oz) Cream Cheese
  • Crushed Candy Canes (Optional)
  • Chocolate Bark or Chocolate Chips (to melt)

Directions

  1. Crush the Oreos! If you are lucky enough to have a food processor, this is a great time to dig it out. If you (temporarily) live with three boys who didn’t own a pasta strainer before you bought one from the D-Tree, a jar of peanut butter and a cutting board will work fine. I stacked three Oreos then used the bottom of the PB jar to smash them. If you’re careful, you won’t even make a mess. 
    If you are adding candy canes, make sure to crush them now. Mine were pre-crushed with food processor. I’m sure a hammer and zip bag will work just as well. 
    Also, get the cream cheese to a soft stage – melt if if you need, but it needs to be suitable for mixing. 
  2. Mix Oreos, 75% of candy canes and cream cheese together. Use a fork or mixer, whatever you want. Chill the mixture until it is easily shaped into 1 in balls. This may take an hour or so. 
  3. Put tinfoil or waxed paper on to a cookie sheet. Shape mixture into 1 in balls. Carefully melt chocolate – follow the directions on the package. Don’t just wing it. 
  4. Dip Oreo balls into chocolate, make sure to coat all sides, lets excess drip off as much as it can, and place on covered cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle candy cane on top – get to it before the chocolate hardens. If you didn’t save out candy cane, use sprinkles. Make it pretty.
  5. Let truffles chill, then eat and enjoy. But you’ll probly need to try one as soon as they are done 🙂

Moving on.

I am making gifts for my nieces and nephews this year. Luckily they are all kids – ages 4-9 – so I mass produced the same gift for each of them – but personalized it for their personalities. So ummmm… don’t let them see this!

Monster Apocalypse

 

Yes, I used a pattern – McCalls 5826 – I found it months ago and fell in love with it. All of the fabrics were scraps, remnants, or old wacky dance wear knits that I had bought years ago and never used. There is a reason I never sewed on the shiny dance wears – they SUCK to sew! Machine or otherwise, it was not a pleasant experience. But I survived, with some help from my mom!

What I really love about the pattern was how easy it was to customize each little guy. There are two body forms, three ears, three arms, and like four legs. Then you get to make your face. I used felt for the face, buttons for eyes, and felt and embroidery floss for the mouths. I really just used two mouths – full teeth or a line and two fangs. And these are loving monsters, so most of them have hearts (except for the ones going to boys – I know boys don’t care for hearts!)

I’ve been working on these for a few weeks. It would have went pretty fast if I was making one or two – but there is a total of like 13 here, and that slowed me down. But it was worth it and I think the kids will really love them. I had to make a few extra for myself and some friends. And I know my sister will ask for one after her kids open theirs. Here’s some full body shots:

Cotton Monsters

 

Scary dance wear knit monsters

 

True story: The camo fabric was originally bought for my senior prom dress. But something political was going on and my mom refused to sew me a dress made out of that. So instead, she slaved and sewed it out of maroon pleather. She is a rock-star.

Marathon Holiday Baking

Happy Holidays! The holiday baking has begun! I tried out 6 new recipes on Sunday, needed to get a head start for all the holiday parties and gatherings coming up later in the month. 

I’ve also been working on Christmas presents for the nieces and nephews, photos to come.

The Cookies

The Cookies

 

Michelle and I had a marathon baking day on Sunday! We made all the cookies on the cute tray above – Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Molasses, Butter, Strawberry Cream, Chocolate Coconut Neapolitans, Oreo Candy Cane Bark, and Peppermint Melt-aways. I made three others when I got home. It was a long day 🙂

At Thanksgiving my sister-in-law let me browse a cook book she bought at the checkout at the grocery store. Sometimes I glance at them, but generally ignore because the internet gives me free recipes. There’s only a handful of recipes in here I don’t want to try, only because I already have a great sugar cookie recipe! Regardless, this one is a must have! It’s the Taste of Home Holiday: Christmas Cookies & Candies – I cannot find a picture of the cover – but I’ve seen it at every grocery store. I also noticed that some of the recipes are online, but go purchase the book anyways, then you have them in one place, right in front of you 🙂

My favorite from the morning was Chocolate Coconut Neapolitans! Recipe is below, other recipes to follow.

Chocolate Coconut Neapolitans

 

Ingredients

  • 1 c butter
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 drops red food coloring (or more 🙂
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coconut extract (optional, this was my addition)
  • 4 1/2 tsp chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp shortening

Directions

  1. Line a 9×5 loaf pan with waxed paper (or tinfoil), set aside. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  2. Divide dough into thirds (use your best judgement, it’s OK to be a little off!). Add almond extract and red food coloring to one portion, spread evenly ito prepared pan. Add coconut and coconut extract, spread evenly over first layer. Add chocolate syrup to third portion – we added too much, and it is delicious, but it was a bitch to cut later, use the recommended amount, or try substituting cocoa powder – do they make chocolate extract?; anyways spread over second layer. Cover with foil; freeze for four hours or overnight. 
  3. Unwrap loaf and cut in half length wise – I recommend doing this three times – so you cut it in half, then cut each of those halves again – so you have four long rectangles of dough. Cut each of portion widthwise into 1/4 in slices. Bake 2 inches apart on baking sheet, 350 for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  4. In microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening, stir until smooth (Start at 1 minute, then heat for increments of 20 seconds – don’t burn your chips!). Dip one end of each cookie into chocolate, place on waxed paper or tinfoil (I prefer the latter), and let stand until they set. I like to sit them outside, because it’s Iowa and it’s cold!