December 6, 2015

Christmas Potpourri


In hunting around for nice gifts to give my staff this year, I searched high and low on Pinterest.  I finally settled on this simple but classic gift: Christmas in a jar, via Nest of Posies.  I enjoyed the free printables, too!  All you do is put some spices, a small orange, and rosemary in a jar.  Bring a pot of water to a boil, dump out the jar contents, and simmer all day.  Definitely an easy way to get the house smelling perfect for the holidays.
Now, I couldn't find mulling spices at the grocery store, but raiding my spice cabinet did the trick just fine.  I'll be sharing these with my group tomorrow, so fingers crossed that they enjoy the gifts!

Cranberry and Brie Pastry Bites



Today's update is to share a really easy, quick appetizer recipe I made over Thanksgiving.  I've been wanting to make this for ages, but in my household cranberries and brie just aren't appetizing for some reason.  So instead, I made this as an appetizer Thanksgiving day, which was happily gobbled up by my in-laws, and again that same week for a family game night.  Trust me- tuck this away for future reference when you need a nice, impressive snack with minimal effort!  The original recipe comes courtesy of Yummy Mummy Kitchen's blog, and she has plenty of other good things to check out as well.

Cranberry and Brie Pastry Bites
Makes 16

Ingredients

  • 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed (I use Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 4-oz wedge Brie cheese, or 1 container of snack-size Brie wedges, opened and divided into 16 portions
  • 1/3 cup homemade or store bought cranberry sauce (whole berry; not jelly)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry rectangle.  Using a pizza cutter, cut into 16 small squares.
  3. Place pastry squares into muffin tin, pressing down gently in each opening.  Bake 8 minutes or until pastry begins to turn golden brown.
  4. Remove muffin tin from oven and use the back of a spoon to gently press down in the center of each pastry square to create room for filling.
  5. Place a portion of brie onto each pastry square.  Top with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce.
  6. Place muffin tin back into oven for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is soft and pastry is golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven, gently remove from muffin tins and cool on a wire rack.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Optional: Top with toasted pecans and/or sugared cranberries.

October 14, 2015

Apple Cream Cheese Danishes


After a recent outing to an apple orchard, I found myself with an abundance of apples.  I plan to make a pie, but in the meantime I've been enjoying a modified version of these apple dumplings found on Southern Bite.  I was suspicious of the Sprite used in the recipe, but after searching similar recipes found some used Mt. Dew, others used Sprite, etc., so clearly the carbonation was doing... something... to help with these.  I shrugged and ran with it, and have no regrets.  What I DID change was to sneak some cream cheese and cinnamon sugar inside these ooey gooey dumplings, which I am re-branding as danishes.

Apple Cream Cheese Danishes
Makes 8

Ingredients

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced into 8 slices
  • 1 tube crescent rolls (8 count)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (mixture of ~1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 oz Sprite
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a square baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls and separate into triangles.  Spread a bit of cream cheese along the bottom of each triangle.  Place an apple slice on top.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar.  Roll up in crescent roll dough and pinch seams closed.
  3. Place danishes in prepared baking dish, evenly spaced.
  4. Mix melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a medium bowl until well combined.  Pour over danishes.
  5. Pour Sprite down center and sides of baking dish (not over the danishes themselves).
  6. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until tops are golden and danishes are baked all the way through.
I wish you could smell these!

Just your basic white girl, wearing a scarf, loving fall, and baking all things apple and pumpkin.

October 11, 2015

Rustic Pumpkin Apple Bites


These little guys have been lurking on my Pinterest desserts page for a LONG time, and I finally made them last weekend.  Perfect for fall, with a nice oatmeal crust, these are not too sweet and not too heavy.  They make a nice little treat, and would be perfect for a Halloween party or even packed along for a picnic.  I did adapt my recipe a bit from Zestful Lou's, but appreciate the idea she planted!

Pumpkin Apple Bites

Makes 12 bites


Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon milk
For the filling
  • 3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons apple butter (I used caramel apple butter- YUM)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together filling ingredients.
  3. Place dry crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Then, with food processor running, slowly pour in melted butter and then milk.  Process until combined.
  4. Scoop a tablespoon of crust dough and press into mini muffin tin.  Press down and up sides of the tin.  Repeat in each spot on the muffin tin.  You will have a bit of crust mixture left over- reserve.
  5. Scoop 1-2 teaspoons of filling into each crust.  Sprinkle a little of the remaining crust mixture over each bite.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes or until filling is set.  The filling will be puffed up when you take the bites out of the oven, but will settle as everything cools.
  7. Place muffin tin on a drying rack, and allow bites to cool completely before gently removing from tin.
Crust ingredients.  They smell amazing together!

All mixed with the butter and milk.

So rustic and delicious.


Crochet Pyramid Buddy


I have a stack of projects to post, which can only mean that it is FALL!  Time for coziness in the house, making comfort food, and crafting goodies.  First up, we have this little creation that my son requested.  He tasked me with making crochet aliens which was an out there ask, but we designed these little creatures together and had fun doing it.  The last of the set was to be a pyramid.  I couldn't find a good pyramid pattern on Pinterest, but followed this good one for a triangle.  I just took that to make 4 triangles, and a square base (20 rows of 20 SC- same size as the pyramid base).

After attaching the triangles to each other and putting on the eyes, this guy needed some character.  I added hair which went a long way to upping his cute factor, and gave him a fun smile that went around one of his triangle edges.  I adding stuffing and was sewing on the base, when my son said I should leave the tails hanging instead of weaving them in.  He liked the little jellyfish legs.

Lesson at the heart of this: you can make all kinds of crochet nonsense with some basic patterns and letting yourself go with the flow.  It doesn't have to look perfect.  Just enjoy it. :)

August 24, 2015

Lemon Surprise Cookies

 


I tried a new cookie recipe yesterday and am very glad to share this success with others.  It's a chewy, sweet but tart, light cookie that's perfect for summer (or the tail end of summer, as everyone is feeling heading up to labor day).  It reminds me a bit of my chocolate peanut butter surprise cookies as far as technique goes, so I made a batch of those as well for my lucky coworkers.
The recipe comes courtesy of SewLicious Home Decor.  I've only made a few edits to make the instructions a bit easier for me to follow.  Enjoy!

Lemon Surprise Cookies
Yields approx. 2 dozen cookies
Prep time: 1-2 hours (filling needs to freeze before baking)
Bake time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Cookie

  • 1 box supreme white cake mix (just using the powder mix; you do not prepare it as directed on the box)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (not butter)
  • 3.4-oz box lemon Jello instant pudding mix
Cheesecake Filling
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Prepare cheesecake filling, mixing together all ingredients until creamy.  Spoon teaspoon-size dollops onto prepared baking sheet.  Place in freezer 1 hour or more until set.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the cookie ingredients (cake mix, eggs, oil, and pudding mix).  Turn dough out onto saran wrap and refrigerate until cheesecake filling is set.
  4. When filling is firm, preheat oven to 350° and assemble cookies.  Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of cookie dough and flatten into a circle in your palm.  Place a frozen dollop of cheesecake filling into center, and roll cookie dough around the filling, being careful to close up all seams.  Roll into a ball.
  5. Place balls of dough with filling centers on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake 8-12 minutes or until set.  The tops won't brown, but the bottoms will.
  7. Remove from oven and gently press down each cookie with a spatula or the bottom of a cup to flatten slightly.  Let sit on baking sheet 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.
  8. Serve warm, or cool completely before storing.
Aaa!  They just look so summery and yummy!  I wish I could give you smell-o-vision, too.

Mmm- delicious filling.

August 23, 2015

Carpenter's Star Christmas Quilt Part 1

If there's one thing I've learned from my overdue blogging, it's that I forget the details from my crafts and recipes.  Trying to avoid that, I'm going to start detailing some of the exciting specifics as I begin piecing together my newest quilt!  It's a gorgeous carpenter's star I first saw on this quilt on Pinterest.  I figured out my own pattern from that (sadly, the link only showed the final quilting- not the pattern), and I made a quilt for my mother-in-law last Christmas.  A couple more baby quilts later, I wanted to revive the carpenter's star pattern for a red and white Christmas quilt for my family.  I am well aware that it is still summer, but I like having plenty of time to poke around and work on a quilt.  I made the one for my mother-in-law in a breakneck 6 weeks last winter and I have no need to repeat that frenzy.

So, those details I mentioned:

Pattern:

Fabric (for twin size quilt)
[Note: will result in plenty of extra fabric (~1/3 yard per color), which I count as a good thing for inevitable bad cuts, poor calculation (cough cough), stains, loved ones running off with bits of fabric, or other quilting- or life-related issues.)
  • 4 yards white fabric
  • 4 yards red fabric
  • 1/2 yard binding fabric
  • 4 1/2 yards backing fabric
  • Twin quilt batting- high loft
  • Red thread
  • White thread

For the quilt top, I ended up getting 4 different patterns of red fabric (1 yard each), 3 patterns of white fabric (1 yard each), and 1 pattern with holly leaves- a mix of red, white, and green, as an accent stand in for some white parts of the star (1 yard).  I got a different red for the binding, and am using one of my red quilt top patterns for the backing (so for that pattern, I got 5 1/2 yards of fabric total).  With a 20% off coupon, the supplies all cost ~$80 I think.

Squares and Half-Square Triangles (HSTs)
  • For each color, cut 12 squares and 24 HSTs
  • Squares measure 5 1/2" square
  • HSTs cut from 5 7/8" squares; end triangle measurement is 5 7/8 x 5 7/8 x 8 1/4; HSTs sewn together will measure 5 1/2" square, the same as your regular squares
I definitely needed to capture these measurements because I did NOT remember my sizes from the last star quilt.  I tried looking up some handy dandy charts online, and unfortunately the one I followed was off, perhaps because I wasn't cutting my HSTs the same way they were.  There are a lot of great tricks to save you time, but they require you to have multiple triangle pairs of the same two fabrics, which is not the case in my quilt.  What I did was cut each larger square, and cut it in half to get 2 triangles.  That likely threw off my end measurements to be bigger than the blossom heart quilts table.  Live and learn, right?  I had a lot of excess fabric so I cut new squares (now 5 1/2" square) to match my larger assembled HST squares.

After hours of cutting and laying out the pieces in the pattern, here's where I wound up:

As you can see, my designated spot in the living room was too small, so I had to lay out portions on the couch.  That's ok.  :)  You can see the few spots where I swapped out an all-white portion for the holly pattern.  I originally had the holly scattered throughout the white parts and it was too distracting, so I consolidated into designated groups and was much happier.

I currently have 4 or 5 rows sewn together, so I'm about 1/4 of the way through the quilt top rows.  Onward and upward!