Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fresh Strawberry Frosting

How can something so simple be so good? This Fresh Strawberry Frosting is a great way to dress up a little 8x8 cake. The only thing that could possibly make it any better would be local berries in season.
 I love the pretty natural pink color and that's from only 3 Tblsp of fresh strawberry puree!
I think you'll really like this if you try it:@)

Fresh Strawberry Frosting-from Gastronomyblog.com
1/2 C ripe strawberries pureed, or enough for 3 Tblsp puree-I used a food chopper
1/2 C butter, slightly softened
pinch of salt
1 1/4 C powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp vanilla
  1. Beat butter and salt until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in powdered sugar until well combined.
  3. Add vanilla and 3 Tblsp strawberry puree. Important: Mix until just blended, do not over mix. It should be thick and creamy like ice cream. If you over mix it can separate... I'm speaking from experience here folks:@)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Foam Easter Egg Holders 2013- Pig Alert!

I started this little Basket Buddy Foam Egg Holder Series in 2011 with the Bunny Tutorial. Last year Just Ducky was added and this year, oh yea, a Piggy... The others better watch their jelly beans!
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You can click HERE for the original detailed tutorial, I free handed the piggy's ears and nose. The ears were sticking straight up so I bent them down towards the front, eventually they stayed in that position. A Sharpie finished the nose, a button would be really cute too (especially if it has 2 holes).
Don't forget the tail:@)
This is an easy project to do with the kids or a great surprise for their Easter baskets.

Have a Happy Easter Weekend!

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Maraschino Cherry Appetizer

In case there was any doubt in your mind, here's further proof that just about anything is better with bacon:@) Bacon Wrapped Maraschino Cherries would be a fun last minute appy for Easter dinner.
Super easy and while I didn't experiment, I kept thinking they would be good with a mustard dip?
The cute bunny picks were 97¢ at Walmart.

Cherry Rolls/Bacon Wrapped Maraschino Cherries-adapted from Food.com
4 slices bacon cut in half long ways
12 maraschino cherries, drained well
  1. Cook bacon until clear and still soft, don't over cook or it won't roll.
  2. Cut each slice into 3 pieces.
  3. Wrap each piece around a cherry, secure with a toothpick.
  4. Chill-I didn't do this.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes-mine took about 8 minutes.
  6. Serve warm.
Notes:
  • I lightly rendered the bacon and then just cut it into thirds, I didn't slice it in half long ways first. I might try that next time (it sure will go further). 
  • I secured them with a wooden toothpick for baking and used the fun plastic ones for serving. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Square Knit (or Crochet) Bunny

This cute little project was not intended to be made with the crazy thick yarn I used, but since I had it I wanted to give it a try:@) I couldn't tell you what I've knit in the past but found a set of #10 knitting needles in my craft closet(?) so I decided to try this Square Knit Bunny.
The idea is, you can make a bunny from any size knitted/crocheted square. I've seen it a few 
different times on-line but fell in love with the really beautiful one HERE.

Of course mine is silly and chunky and while I won't be making any more for this Easter, 
I'd like to pick up some "hairy" thin yarn specifically for making another smaller one next year.

I used this $1 white yarn from AC Moore, it took about 1 1/2 skeins.
You can click the link HERE for a tutorial and I encourage you to see Anette's pretty bunny.

Notes:
  • I used 34 stitches, #10 needles and my square was about 11". 
  • My completed bunny is about 5.5" tall. Since my bunny was top heavy (this yarn was crazy) I made it stand up tall instead of laying down as intended.
  • I also added some dried beans to the bottom to help it stand up.
  • Does he need eyes? Googly eyes wouldn't look good on this, any ideas?
Have a happy day:@)

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jam Shortbread Cookies

The minute I saw this in the April 2013 Food Network Magazine I knew I'd make it. We're talking 5 pantry ingredients... and can salt even be counted??? They made it with a few different colored jams, that was very pretty too. I think these cookies would be a perfect Easter treat:@)

Jam Shortbread-from Food Network Magazine
1 1/2 C A/P flour
1/3 C sugar
Pinch of salt
10 Tblsp unsalted butter at room temp-I used salted
6 Tblsp preserves (any flavor)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8 inch square dish with aluminum foil, leaving an over hang.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together. 
  3. Work the butter in with you fingers to make a crumbly dough.
  4. Remove 2 Tblsp of dough and place in refrigerator. Press the rest into the baking dish. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. 
  5. Bake crust for 15 minutes. 
  6. Spread with preserves leaving 1/2" border. 
  7. Crumble Reserved dough on top. 
  8. Bake until edges are golden brown, approx 25 minutes-watch this, mine were over done. Maybe 18-20 minutes in my oven. 
  9. Remove from oven, let cool 20 minutes, remove from pan and cut into squares.
Tips: 
-My strawberry preserves were extra chunky so I ran them through a food chopper.
-Trust your nose, if you smell it getting brown, check on it!

Have a happy day:@)

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Monday, March 25, 2013

There's A Pig In The Pinot Noir!!!

How cute is this Piggy Bottle Stopper from WineEnthusiast.com! It has rubber gaskets to ensure an air tight seal and the spring provides lots of movement and big smiles:@)

They also didn't forget about folks that might prefer a beer… I was offered these cool Double Wall Mouth Blown Beer Glasses to review. They work great for keeping an icy cold beverage, wellicy cold! The double wall keeps the heat from your hand away from the drink, and there's no condensation, so no drips or rings on the table. And of course these 12 oz tumblers would be good for iced tea or soda too. 
A perfect gift for that guy that's so hard to buy for!
I wasn't the only one to try them out...

These glasses have been Earl tested and approved!
If you’re looking for great gifts for a wine lover or to treat yourself to specialty items 
be sure to stop by WineEnthusiast.com

Have a happy day:@)

Disclaimer: Thanks to WineEnthusiast.com for providing the products, the review and opinions are are my own.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Carrot Crosses for Deviled Eggs at Easter-Simple Tutorial

I've had these Carrot Crosses for Deviled Eggs on my mind for a while now and finally decided to give them a try. They are very easy and I love the pretty color to spruce up a favorite deviled egg recipe.
If you'd like to learn about perfect hard boiled eggs or how to dye the whites click HERE.
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Peel and wash a fat carrot, thinly slice it on a steep diagonal (a little wider than 1/8" thick).

I just free-handed the crosses, you could make some paper templates to cut around if you'd like.
The bits and pieces of leftover carrot are great for soup.

Since carrots tend to dry out, if you cut them ahead of time store them between damp tea towels.
Add them to the eggs just before serving.
Happy Easter Planning:@)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Scraps to Fab-Homemade Air Freshener

Sometimes simple is best. Just a reminder to put those citrus scraps to good use as a natural air freshener. I have a small crock pot that's used for this purpose. I love the fresh smell of orange peel simmering away and you could always add some cloves and cinnamon, or a splash of vanilla.
A fresh sweet orange for breakfast today and I'll enjoy the fragrance tomorrow-Works for Me!

Have a happy day:@)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Corned Beef Hash with Fresh Rosemary

True confession time: I'm not a big fan of leftovers, nope-not. (Well, unless we're talking cake:@). I will say though, I wait all year for leftover corned beef to make this hash! I even stash a little extra in the freezer for a couple special Saturday morning breakfasts down the road.
Everyone has their own way of making corned beef hash. My favorite is the first batch using the leftover potatoes and carrots from St. Patrick's Day Dinner that soaked up all those great flavors fried in a little olive oil to a nice dark brown crust... What takes it over the top is adding fresh onion while frying, your favorite seasoned salt (Lawry's Black Pepper Seasoned Salt for me) and a good amount of minced fresh rosemary (about 1/2 tsp per generous serving)-yum!

Adding an over-easy egg or two makes this a very hearty breakfast! For a super easy way to make over-easy eggs you can see my tutorial HERE.

My tip: You don't need a special kitchen press to help make a great crust while pan frying, any flat bottomed pot lid that clears the sides of the pan and lays on the food will work.

Eat well and have a happy day:@)

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crochet Daffodil Ornament or Embellishment

While these little Crochet Daffodil Ornaments don't want to photograph well, they sure are cute! I wanted to add some to my Easter tree and started with the free pattern HERE. But the flowers were getting too big for my tree, so I had to do some tweaking...
The yellow was my first one and I shortened the trumpet by leaving out round 3, 
and completed it through round 6. Using an F hook through round 6 the flower is approx 2 3/4".
I winged the white one. The good news is, this is a small project and if you're not happy with how it's turning out you can easily rip out some stitches and start over. 
I plan to add a few more to my tree.

Have a happy day:@)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Amish Pickled Red Beet Eggs

Here's a blast from the past, a genuine grown-up Easter Egg! I've been making these Amish Pickled Red Beet Eggs at Easter for years now and have to tell you, they are great! The color is beautiful, the flavor pronounced and they can be enjoyed as is, diced in potato salad (actually I suggest sprinkling them in a pile on top for great color), they're pretty as deviled eggs and make a great egg salad sandwich.
 This is what the color looks like after about 24 hours, 
the red/purple will permeate more of the white the longer they soak.

Here's a pic at a little less than 2 days.


They make good Deviled Eggs.

Pickled Red Beet Eggs by Allrecipes.com
1 (15 ounce) can beets
1 small onion, thinly sliced
*12 hard boiled eggs, shelled and left whole-I use 5 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar

Directions:
  1. Drain liquid from the beets into saucepan. Place beets, onions and eggs into a large bowl or pitcher-I use a quart jar.
  2. Pour sugar and vinegar into saucepan with the beet liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Pour the beet juice over the eggs and veggies. Seal bowl or pitcher and refrigerate for at least one to three days.
Notes:
  • *I feel from making these eggs, this recipe as written might make 6 eggs, 5 is my personal maximum. Comments suggest water should be an ingredient, I've never bothered to figure that out, I just make 5 flavorful eggs:@)
  • You do not want the liquid to evaporate in the pan folks, bring to a gentle boil and reduce that heat immediately to  barely a bubble. You'll need all the liquid you have to cover the eggs/beets.
  • I've used red, cider and white vinegar, I prefer cider.
  • If you just want to try this recipe (maybe as a test batch), it will work with 3 eggs in a pint jar.
  • They'll last in the fridge for weeks, I like the fresh flavor of about 2-3 days.
  • A wonderful side note to this recipe is, it makes great pickled beets too-yum!!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day Weekend!

I saw a pig with a beer,
and had to stop and say,
good sir where are you going,
on this fine March day?
With a smile and tilted head,
he said he's on his way,
home from the pubs and partying,
he needs to hit the hay!
Here's wishing you a fun St. Patrick's Day:@)

Friday, March 15, 2013

TGIF!

Now I'm not saying this has been an exceptionally long week or anything... 
But my head will be hanging out of the car window on the way home from work today!!!
Where'd I put my pinwheels???

If you'd like to see the commercial you can click HERE.

Have a happy day:@)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Green and Gold Popcorn for St. Patrick's Day

Here's an affordable great little last minute gift for St. Patrick's Day-Green and Gold Popcorn! Super simple, you only need to use liquid green food coloring, Mother Nature took care of the gold:@)
Add some popcorn to a sandwich baggie, add drops of green (about 20 for a 1/4 C popcorn) 
and smoosh it around to distribute the color. Pour out onto a cookie sheet to dry, 
mix with gold popcorn and package any way you'd like. Jars are cute or if you want to give away several,
cellophane treat bags would be good tied with some green and gold ribbon.

A saying suggestion for the gift tag...
Just "popping" by to wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Don't forget to wear your green and...
Have a happy day:@)

Updated: Some folks have asked how it looks popped,
here's a pic and link from the Red & Green I made at Christmas:

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pineapple Mustard Dipping Sauce

Need an appy for St. Pat's or Easter dinner? I made this Pineapple Mustard Dipping Sauce and love the fun gold color for spring! It's kinda sweet, kinda mustardy and the touch of cinnamon balances it out well. The best thing is the mustard doesn't overpower it and you can taste pineapple.
I served it with Hillshire Farms Turkey Lit'l Smokies.
Don't hesitate to use anything from sliced kielbasa to mini franks, this is really fun folks!
Note: This recipe is plenty enough for 3-4 packs of mini wienies and easily halved:@)

Pineapple Mustard Dipping Sauce
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, with juice-use 1 C if cutting recipe in half
1/4 C prepared yellow mustard
1 C sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C cornstarch mixed with enough water to make it pourable-approx 2 Tblsp
  1. Run the pineapple through a food processor or blender, the smoother the better.
  2. Add everything except cornstarch and water to a 2 quart pot.
  3. Heat to a boil, reduce heat.
  4. Add cornstarch slurry, cook until it thickens enough to coat a spoon.
  5. Serve with heated meat.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bit O'Blarney Jello Candied Popcorn

I seem to be drawn to Jello around St. Patrick's Day, it must be that perfect green color! This Bit O'Blarney Jello Candied Popcorn is a fun play on Cracker Jacks using peanuts (or cashews, or no nuts at all) and Lime Jello. Gotta say, I did really enjoy this one myself!
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The 8 year old across the street felt "Leprechaun Boogers" was an equally appropriate name... 
I'll let you call it what you wish, you know your crowd:@)

Note: Do I think kids can help make this one? No, melted sugar is extremely hot, just let them enjoy it!

Jello Rainbow Popcorn-from Kraft
8 C popped popcorn
1 C salted peanuts or cashews-optional
1/4 C butter
3 Tblsp light corn syrup
1/2 C brown sugar or white sugar-I used white
1 small box Jello, lime-or you could use other flavors/colors
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees, line a sheet pan with foil or wax paper. Reynolds Release or silicone is best.
  2. Toss popcorn and peanuts in large bowl, I just mix it all on the sheet pan.
  3. Place butter and corn syrup in small pan, heat on low until butter is melted.
  4. Add sugar and Jello, stir until Jello has dissolved.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour immediately over popcorn, toss well to coat. This is why I mix it on the sheet pan, I can drizzle it over as much popcorn as possible.
  7. Put popcorn on sheet pan and spread out using 2 forks.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes-I suggest stirring it halfway, remove from oven, cool completely, break apart and store in an air tight container.
For more Jello ideas you can check out these posts:

Jello Frosting-Green would be great for St. Pat's!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Irish Flag Mint (or Vanilla) Pizzelles for St. Patrick's Day

How about treating the kids or coworkers to some Irish Flag Pizzelles! I remove about 1/8 cup of batter for each the green and orange colors and use Wilton Icing Gel Coloring. Then load green and orange into disposable icing bags, add a dallop of white batter to the Pizzelle baker with a spoon then squeeze some of one color in a thick line against the white towards the back of the press and some of the other in a thick line against the white towards the front of the press. Not difficult at all, you just need to work quickly because the white will begin melting once it hits the press.
Pizzelle Tips:
  • I always add 3 Tblsp cornstarch to my 1 C measure and then top it off with A/P flour. It just helps make a lighter, crisper Pizzelle.
  • Be sure to place the batter off-center, more towards the back of the press. The motion of closing the press automatically pushes the batter forward, this helps compensate for that.
  • For this simple project you don't need to use icing tips, just snip the end of the icing bags off. I did use the tips because I had them.
  • If you don't want mint just use 1 tsp vanilla. If you'd like to make them for Christmas red and green food coloring is pretty.
Mint Pizzelles
3 eggs, room temperature
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp mint extract-any kind you have
1 3/4 C A/P flour-I sub 3 Tblsp corn starch then fill the rest of the measuring cup with flour
2 tsp baking powder
Food coloring if desired.
  1. Beat eggs and sugar.
  2. Add butter and extracts.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder, add to wet, mix well.
  4. Separate for adding food coloring.
  5. Drop by spoonful onto press, add colored dough by squeezing from an icing bag (if desired).
  6. Bake till crisp, cool on paper towels and store in air tight container.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Simple Beaded Shamrock Ornament or Embellishment

I'm always looking for ornament ideas for my feather tree and as soon as I saw the Beaded Shamrocks at Purple Hues and Me I grabbed my bead stash! Love the idea of green pipe cleaners but I was determined to use what was on hand, so sparkly gold it was (Leprechauns like gold, don't they?:@)

The round beads are 6mm, the 2" green ornament has Rondelles, the 2.5" mixed one uses pony beads. Each of my petals has 11 beads, you can make them as big as you'd like.
Since I think this is a quick and fun craft for kids to do, I wanted to share a link to Gail's tutorial. They will love making these shamrocks into a simple necklace or barrette for school or the St. Patrick's Day parade!
'Cause we all know no one wants to get pinched:@)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Crochet Bunny Peeps Garland Pattern

Doesn't everyone love Peeps at Easter in one form or another? Here's a fun little project that whips up in no time. The bunnies are worked in half double crochet and are about 5 1/2" tall by 2 1/2" wide.

These would be adorable in an assortment of the bright Peeps colors. 
I did see light pink Peeps at Walmart this year so I used what yarn I had on-hand:@) 

I just made this pattern up myself, you'll see that there's a rhythm to it,
once you get the hang of it it goes pretty quickly. 

AC Moore has a bunch of these "funky" yarns for $1 a ball and they always catch my eye. The green kinda reminded me of Easter grass so I used it for my garland. I doubled it by using both ends.
This crazy fuzzy white yarn is a subject for another post...

Definitions:
HDC across=half double crochet in each hole.
HDC DCR=half double crochet decrease. YO, insert hook in first hole, catch the yarn and pull through (3 loops on hook), YO, insert hook in second hole, catch the yarn and pull through (5 loops on hook), YO and pull through all 5 loops on the hook.

Bunny Peeps Garland
Chain 7
Row 1: 2 HDC in 4th hold from hook, HDC across, 2 HDC in last hole, CH 2, turn.
Row 2 & 3: 2 HDC in first hole, HDC across, 2 HDC in last hole, CH 2, turn.
Row 4: HDC across, CH 2, turn.
Row 5 & 6: HDC DCR using first 2 holes, HDC across, HDC DCR using last 2 holes, CH 2, turn.
Row 7 & 8: 2 HDC in first hole, HDC across, 2 HDC in last hole, CH 2, turn.
Row 9: HDC across, CH 2, turn.
Row 10: HDC DCR using first 2 holes, HDC across, HDC DCR using last 2 holes, CH 2, turn.
Row 11 - First Ear: HDC DCR, HDC next 2 holes, CH 2, turn.
*Row 12, 13 & 14: HDC across (should be 3 holes), CH 2, turn.
*Row 15: HDC acorss, CH 1, turn.
*Row 16: Slip stitch in first hole, HDC in middle hole, slip stitch in last hole. Cut yarn and fasten off.
Second Ear: With finished ear to the right, in the next available hole Chain 2, HDC in next hole, HDC DCR using last 2 holes. CH 2, turn.
Repeat from * to complete the second ear.
-Add eyes and a nose with beads or black yarn to your completed bunnies.
-I doubled my green yarn (used the outer strand and the one from the middle too) and simply chained 15 then picked up a stitch on top of the ear, chained 5 between the ears, picked up a stitch in the other ear, then chained 10 between each bunny, and 15 on the other end. These numbers just worked for the thickness of my yarn and gave me a look I liked.

If you try this pattern and something needs to be clarified kindly let me know.

And don't forget my Bunny Egg Holders Tutorial HERE for something cute in the basket...
Easter is early this year, it's time to get hopping on the crafts:@)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Fruit Cocktail Pie-My $1.96 Experiment

Walking down the isle at Walmart my eyes fell upon cans of fruit cocktail in natural juice... I wondered how it would be in a pie and decided to find out:@) After all, peaches, pears, grapes, pineapple and cherries all make good pies! If you raised an eyebrow at grapes check out this post.
Do you see all those different colors? Each one has it's own flavor, this was a fun pie!

I even used my LeCreuset Paddy O' Pie Bird:@)

Two cans at 98¢ each... that's less than $2 for a fruit pie in winter folks.

Fruit Cocktail Pie
double pie crust
2 (15 oz) cans fruit cocktail, drained-I used 100% natural juice
1/2 C sugar
3 Tblsp A/P flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon-I'd use a little more next time
fresh nutmeg, a few hearty grates
  1. Add bottom crust to pie plate.
  2. Mix fruit, sugar, flour and spices in skillet. Heat on stove until it just begins to thicken. 
  3. Remove from heat and pour into bottom crust. 
  4. Add top crust and poke with fork to vent (or use a pie vent).
  5. Bake at your normal pie crust temperature for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown. My homemade shortening crust bakes at 400 degrees, store bought crust is around 375 degrees.
Notes:
  • As soon as I added sugar to the drained fruit it began to release a ton of liquid, so I used 3 Tblsp flour and heated the fruit mixture on the stove until it just began to thicken.
  • Is this going to bump apple pie out of first place in my son's eyes? I don't think so, but it's very tasty and it was fun to try something new!

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