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Freeze!

I think one is supposed to stop and put your hands up when you hear “Freeze!”, but my mind just keeps going “Hammer Time!”  Yeah…I don’t get it either.  Stop…Freeze.  Not even close.  Whatevskis… 

(I’ll pause here for you to go get your 90’s on…You know you want to…)

Back? Gnarly.  Anyone else feel a strong urge to go call someone a scrub
Moving on!  I swear there’s a point to this post.  Maybe someday I’ll blog and NOT ramble….Ha.  Such a jokester…

Awhile back I mentioned that I may or may not have a slight obsession with my slow cooker.  Well, this post slaps me in the face with that “may not”.  We’re full steam ahead on this obsession!  You see, last night I made SIX meals, none of which we actually ate.  (That was meal number seven, but I made hubby whip that one together.)  I threw virtually all the ingredients for six separate slow cooker meals into individually labeled freezer bags and plopped those suckers right into the freezer.  I think this may be the smartest thing I’ve ever done.  You know, besides marrying hubby.  (Sometimes he reads these…) 

Now, all I have to do is dump the contents into a crock pot in the morning and we’ll have a meal ready to go when we get home from work!  I think I’m going to try to do this at least once a month.  I’ll wait for some good sales and just go nuts! 

Obviously I can’t give you a verdict on the tastiness of the six meals, but I can at least list them here for you!  I wrote the name, date, and cooking instructions for each meal on the outside of the bag. 

    • Cranberry Porkchops (I used chops instead of a roast.  A big pack of chops was on sale. :))
    • Orange-Apricot Porkchops
    • Beef Stew (Code for throwing anything I can find into a bag and adding stew meat and a stew seasoning packet.)
    • Jalapeno Pot Roast (I don’t love spicy, so I stuck to just one jalapeno.  I would have done the green chiles instead, but I was out.  Also, I made a note on my ziplock bag to add sour cream at the end of the cooking time.  Totally would have forgotten otherwise.)
    • Creamy Beef over Noodles (I didn’t have anymore stew meat, so I just ripped apart a hunk of ground beef and called it a day.  I used cow’s milk instead of soy milk, shrugged my shoulders at “herbs de Provence” and just whipped in some italian seasonings instead.  I’m Italian…it worked for me.  I also made a note about adding cream cheese at the end of the cooking time and serving over rice or noodles.)
    • Red Sauce Beef Stew (This was a nice little experiment.  There was a can of tomato soup, some browned ground beef, beef broth, onion soup mix, and some random veggies involved.  It’s a crock pot.  Nothing can go wrong, right?)

Non-Frozen Meat Looks Less Than Appetizing

Someday It'll Look Delicious

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I’m pumped to have ready-to-go meals that are homemade and NOT loaded with sodium!  Do you have any favorite slow cooker meals?  Looks like I’ll be needing some recipes.  I’m so excited I just…

Can’t stop this! 

(Yes, it was completely necessary. :D)

 
 The Stuff of Success

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To beer, or not to beer…

My little brother bought a house.  It’s another one of those moments when you have to stop and ask yourself, “When did we grow up!?”  Well, anyone that actually knows me would question if I am, in fact, a grown up but you get the picture.  So, being the amazing big sister that I am (pause for Cody’s rebuttal…), I thought it would be fun to make my brother a fun piece of artwork for his new kitchen.  He’s a 23-year-old boy so naturally he’s going with a beer theme.  I expect nothing less from him.

I’ve been obsessed with subway art lately.  There’s so many different ideas out there and people are using the idea for just about anything!  I stumbled across a picture of beer-themed subway art and knew that I had to take a crack at my own masterpiece.  Cody’s favorite beer is Budweiser (pause for a collective “ewwww”….I mean it’s Wisconsin.  Where’s the Miller, dear brother?), so I incorporated that brand and some of its catchphrases into the art.  I made the entire thing on Photoshop CS4.  I just started learning Photoshop, so I thought this would be a nice little project to get my feet wet.  It definitely took more time than I thought it would, but I wouldn’t say that it was hard. 

I think it really turned out well!  I made it as an 8×10 and we’re going to print, mat, and frame it.  When all is said and done, my brother will have a piece of custom artwork for under $20!  I think it’ll look cute!  Cody hates the word “cute”…had to make sure to throw it in here somewhere.  Looooooooove you! 😉

 I’m excited to try this for all sorts of different themes.  Maybe a Green Bay Packer one will be next. (Go Pack Go!!)

 

property of betweenarockandahobby

 
 

    UndertheTableandDreaming  all crafts Homemade Projects ~ Add Yours {8/30}       Todays Creative Blog     The Stuff of Success   I linked up at It’s a Keeper, too!

Why, oh wine…

…do you taste soooo good?  I mean I like grapes just as much as the next chap, but something magical happens between Lucille Ball stomping on them and me drinking their fermented goodness.  But…I bet you want to know what tastes even better than wine.  (I swear it’s possible!)  Well, my dear friends, take a little look-see at sangria.  Oh my dear heavens, this stuff is tasty.  Nectar of the gods, I tell ya!  It even sounds delicious.  Say it with me…sanngggriiiiaaaahhhh.   Yep.  Delicious. 

Know what’s even better?  It’s so simple to make!  You’ll only need 4 ingredients:  wine, sugar, fruit, and ginger ale.  Come on, you can’t tell me that doesn’t sound like pure awesomeness.  We took this along on our camping trip to share with the crew.  I didn’t know how much I needed, so I tripled it.  That was perhaps too much.  (There were 8 of us, but apparently not everyone loves wine the way I do… Yeah, I think they’re crazy, too.)

Okay, enough yammering.  Recipe time!  (FYI – This is my tripled version.)

Ingredients:
1 large bottle (1.5L) of Livingston Red Rosé
1 bottle (750 ML) of Wollersheim Blushing Rose
1 cup of sugar
A bunch of sliced strawberries that you didn’t measure but think was maybe about 3 cups (mine were frozen)
A bunch of raspberries (I did a bag of frozen ones plus one tiny container of fresh)
2 liter bottle of ginger ale
Some lemons

Directions:
Pour bottles of wine into large pitcher/jug. 
Add the sugar and stir well.
Add the fruit (minus lemons) and give a quick stir.
Cover and let the magic happen overnight in the refrigerator.
Prior to serving add the ginger ale and a sliced lemon to each glass.  (You could also be lazy like me and just slice up the lemon and dump it in the pitcher.)
Enjoy!

all crafts Homemade Projects ~ Add Yours {8/16}           HookingupwithHoH      It's a Keeper

Tape + Canvas + Paint = Art

This is the easiest piece of homemade artwork you ever did see!  Therefore, this will be a tiny little post. 🙂  See my post title?  That’s seriously all you need.  Hubby and I threw together this artwork for our bedroom.  We had searched all over for something we both loved AND was in our price range.  Do you know how impossible that is!?  My mom had seen the idea for this on some home show…nope, don’t remember which one.  The steps are SUPER simple and you can alter this any way you’d like.
Purchase canvas. (We waited for a canvas sale at Hobby Lobby and purchased 3 the same size.)
Place painters tape (or masking tape) haphazardly across the canvas.  Rub your fingers along the edges of the tape to make sure it is firmly secured.
Paint the canvas.  We stuck with one color, but you could definitely use more than one.
Allow paint to mostly dry and remove tape.
Hang on wall.

See!?  So easy!

handmade projects

Check out some other great blogs over at Somewhat Simple’s Blog Link Party.  You can find me there, too!

This project was featured over at Nibs, Nabs & Knots!  Come check me out and say hi!

 

 

C is for cookie…

That’s good enough for me!  In fact, these were fabulous!

Two Words of Warning:
1. Make these near a sink.  I’m sure you know this, but ice cream melts.  I rinsed my hands off approximately 947 times.  (Have I ever told you that I just might exaggerate slightly?)
2.  Hide your pets.  The recipe involves mini chocolate chips and if you’re anything like me they will be all over your kitchen floor.  Kyra pounced on them like a jungle cat.  Seriously, there was no way I could stop her.

Last week I bought a gallon of ice cream as an addition to the strawberry sauce I was taking to my sister’s birthday party.  There were 6 of us and somehow my brain computed that a gallon of ice cream was necessary for that crowd.  Obviously I had a boat load of leftovers.  Hubby doesn’t love ice cream (I’m convinced he’s some sort of mutant.), but I could eat it every single day.  Probably every hour of every single day…  The devil must have invented ice cream, don’t you think?  I mean, can you think of anything more tempting than a darn-near full gallon of ice cream staring back at you?  Yeah, me either.  I had to get it out of my house.  The opportunity presented itself in the form of a work lunch potluck.  “I call dessert!”  Time for Mini Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches from Delish!

Ice Cream not included due to melt factor

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Leftovers from buying far too much vanilla ice cream (The recipe says 1 pint…I have no idea how much I actually used)


Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350° F.
2.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Truth be told, I have no idea why this is necessary…I just listened.
3.  Read the directions wrong and add the granulated sugar to this bowl as well.  Yell out “Oh, crap!” and try to scoop out as much white sugar out from the white flour mixture as you can.  Fail miserably and move on.
4.  Re-read the directions (correctly this time) and add both sugars and the butter to a separate bowl.  Beat together.  Add sour cream, egg, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
5.  Turn the mixer on low and gradually add in the flour mixture.  Mix in 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips. (The original recipe calls for 1 cup into the dough.  I usually reduce the amount of chocolate in cookies because I find it to overpowering otherwise.)
6.  Drop chunks of dough (about 1 TBSP) onto a cookie sheet and bake until golden. (About 10-12 minutes)  Move cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.
7.  Here’s where I stopped listening again.  The recipe calls for softened ice cream…lies, I tell ya!  First of all I’m far too impatient for that, and second if you START with soft ice cream you will have a ginormous soupy mess by the time you get all the sandwiches made.  I used the ice cream right out of the freezer.  I used two large spoons (Are they called tablespoons?  That feels weird…) to form a flat looking ball on top of one cookie.  Then I just smooshed another cookie on top of it and rolled them/pressed mini chocolate chips into the exposed ice cream.  Place on a wax-lined cookie sheet and freeze for 2 hours.

The not-so-mini ice cream sandwiches

Verdict:
Everyone at work loved them, but I still had leftovers (I work in a small building) so I took them over to my in-laws during their pool party.  They disappeared in seconds and I got rave reviews.  Really, they aren’t very difficult to make and these cookies are A.MAZ.ING!  I’m storing this recipe away and will definitely make these cookies minus the ice cream as well.  They were so soft!  This is a 5 star recipe for sure!

I’m linked up over at Simply Sweet Home.  Check me out and say hi to some other loverly bloggers! 🙂

  It's a Keeper

Slackers R Us

If at some point in this crazy string of days we call “life” I would decide to open a store, there’s a very good possibility I would name it “Slackers R Us”.  Actually, that’s a really good reason for me to NOT open a store…  The thing is, I am the Queen Bee of procrastination and you just cannot properly procrastinate without first mastering the art of slacking.  (Plus, Slackers R Us has a much better ring to it than Procrastinators R Us…)  I’ve done a lot that I could blog about the last couple of weeks, but I have neglected to sit my tooshie down to actually blog about it.  I am here to apologize to all 5 ½ of you that read said blog.  My tooshie is firmly planted here until something shiny comes along to distract me once again. 

PS – I’m cheating on this blog.  It’s 3 blogs in one so that I can catch you up to speed all at once.  Yeah, yeah…Cheater, cheater pumpkin eater.  I can’t help it.  At least I have a theme, right?  Cakes.  It’s been quite the eventful couple of weeks – Confirmation Party, Graduation Party, and a Birthday Party!  Here’s a little synopsis of each of my cake adventures.  And we’re off!

 Round 1: Confirmation Party
My sister was confirmed this year and my mother put me in charge of making her cake, (gulp!) and I needed to make two of them to have enough for all the people coming (double gulp!).  I did a bunch of research on both decorating ideas and working with fondant, and came up with a plan. (Remember the F word post I did way back when?  Yeah, that’s how long ago I made her cake…whoopsie daisies!)  I was going to make a round layer cake (red velvet) and a cross cake (yellow).  And heck yes, they came from a box…

With all of my research I learned that frosting a cake doesn’t have to be as hard as I had been making it.  It really IS possible to frost a cake without having a million little crumbs showing through.  One little thing that will change your life forever:  Freeze.The.Cake.  I’m not joking.  Holy easy cake frosting, batman!  The party was on Saturday so I baked the cakes on Wednesday and froze them until Friday when I decorated them.  I also added a crumb coat layer of frosting before doing the topcoat.  The crumb coat is literally just a thinned down layer of frosting that you allow to harden a bit.  I used a bit of milk to thin it down, frosted the cake, and set it in the fridge to crust up.  Yeah, that sounds disgusting but it’s what the “pros” called it.  After that I was able to frost the cake without any crumbs!  I added some flowers and lettering and Voila! – Cake #1

Cake #2 was being covered with fondant.  In order for the fondant to adhere to the cake, it also needs a layer of frosting.  (Can we say sugar coma!?)  I took the frozen cake and gave it a crumb coat.  It then needed to thaw completely so it wouldn’t make the fondant sweat.  Speaking of fondant… That was rather…frustrating, at first.  I needed to roll out a chunk that would be big enough to cover my cake, but my counter space isn’t very plentiful and I kept ripping the fondant when I would pick it up to place on the cake.  I learned 2 things from this experience:  Number one – ask your husband for help BEFORE you haphazardly pick up a huge chunk of fondant and then have to stand there frantically screaming for his help because you didn’t think it through and now have nowhere to go.   Fact – The fondant will fall apart before he casually walks into the kitchen and looks at you like a nutcase.  Number two – if you use a rolling-pin and sort of roll the fondant on to it, you can use that to unroll the fondant right over the cake thus making your life a million times easier.  You have to be smarter than the fondant, Erica… 

I did eventually get the cake covered in fondant.  Then I was able to make the lovely bow that YouTube taught me how to make.  Really not very difficult, and it is simply gorgeous!  I jazzed up the ribbon tails with my fondant roller and embossing ring.  The way this cake turned out made me über thrilled, but what really matter was that my sister loved it!

Round 2: Graduation Party
Super Duper cheating here.  I didn’t bake this cake OR frost it.  Yep, I just showed up and put my pre-made fondant cut-outs on it and wrote on it.  Easiest.job.ever!  This was my cousin’s graduation party and my godmother requested my assistance so I was off on another adventure!  My cousin is a boy (Hi Brock! :)) so we wanted to stay away from pinks/purples and flowers.  Stars and Dots seemed like a fun and easy solution to me!  I used some of the fondant I had already made and dyed some green and some blue.  I just love the blue/green contrast, don’t you?  We have it EVERYWHERE in our house.  Virtually every room is painted either blue or green.  Our dinner plates?  Blue and green.  Our wedding colors?  Yep… blue and green.  Hmm…temporary tangent here.  This is just screaming for a google search on what these colors mean to us. *Goes to search google*  So, green is my favorite color and blue is my husband’s.  If you know us, after reading this you will notice the distant sound of the hammer striking the nail dead center.  Dan is seriously the most passive individual I have ever met.  He doesn’t understand why I care at all what other people think, but there I am freaking out about it as he shakes his head.  How interesting!  This has absolutely NOTHING to do with this cake, but I get sidetracked easily. Ohhh.emm.gee! Colors were just my something shiny!  I honestly thought I could make it through this post without a massive tangent.  Oh well, at least I warned you…

ANYWAYS…  I made blue and green fondant and I cut out stars and circles with cookie cutters and let them dry on the counter for a few days.  I also rolled some snakes out of green and blue and twisted them together to form his graduation year.  That looked pretty banging!  (Hmm…that’s not really a word people use anymore, is it?)

Round 3: Mom’s 50th Birthday
There was a little banana peel on the road to Mom’s cake.  It goes by the name “chocolate ganache.”  The ganache was super delish and gave the cake a fun shine, but it was not one of my finer moments to combine that with a big, heavy, fondant bow.  The ganache doesn’t have the stick power that regular frosting has, so my gift bow slowly slid its way apart.  It was kind of a lot of work to make that bow, so it was a little disappointing that it didn’t turn out quite as I planned.  Thankfully the cake still tasted delicious!  I made a red velvet cake (thank you, Betty Crocker!), a cream cheese filling, and then topped it all with the ganache.  I’m glad that I decided to go the ganache route, because more frosting would have made the cake far too rich. 

Since I made this cake forever ago I no longer remember what recipe I used for the cream cheese filling, so I’m going to skip that part in my description.  Just imagine me doing an amazing job of it. 😉  The ganache was really easy.  Heat cream, pour over chocolate chips, stir.  After that hard labor you just sit and wait for it to cool down and give it a stir every once in a while.  Seriously, that’s it.  I put the cake on a Tupperware lid for a bit more support and then put the cake on a cooling rack.  Under the cooling rack I had a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.  I took the cooled ganache and poured it on the cake, starting in the center and gradually circled further outwards.  The cake looked fairly decent, but not amazing.  I put it in the fridge to cool and then poured another layer.  Layer two was fabulous!

Here’s the part where I should explain to you fine folks how I made a fondant gift bow, instead I’m going to take a rain check.  I’ll try it again sometime and when I actually succeed I promise to fill you in. 

Just don’t hold your breath waiting for me…

The F Word…

Fondant.

What!?  Of course I didn’t mean THAT F word.  Though, I really thought that word would escape my mouth about 100 times while making homemade fondant, but it didn’t!  Okay, I probably said it.  Afterall I was making fondant for over an hour…that’s quite the stretch of curse-free time.  But, without lying, I can tell you the F bomb was not delivered due to the pain-in-the-arseness of Rolled Marshmallow Fondant.  Once again, Erica stumbled upon a recipe that was actually easier than anticipated.  After accomplishing the first batch sans troubles I actually made a second batch.  Both batches were made and cleaned up after in an hour and a half! 

Ingredients: (The directions really recommend name brand products) 
1 package (16 ounces) white mini marshmallows
2-5 tablespoons water
2 pounds (about 8 cups) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

 Directions:
1.  Place marshmallows and 2 TBSP water in microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again.  Repeat the process until all the marshmallows are melted. (It took my marshmallows 2.5 minutes to melt.)
2.  Put about 3/4 of your powdered sugar on top of the melted mallows.  Fold in the sugar.
3.  Scoop out your shortening and put it in a separate dish.  You’ll be reaching into this dish throughout the course of your fondant kneading. (Your measurement here doesn’t need to be exact.)
4.  Cover your kneading surface and your hands in shortening.  Really, really cover them.  Load those babies up!
5.  Dump the contents of your bowl onto your greased surface.  Knead away and slowly add in the remaining powdered sugar.  
Warning: Don’t dump a bunch of powdered sugar on top and haphazardly press down on it.  You will, in fact, create a powdered sugar volcano in your very own kitchen.  Disastrous results immediately follow.

Powdered Sugar Explosion!

 Honestly, that’s really it.  Re-grease your hands and surface as you knead.  If the fondant is too dry and tearing, add small amounts of water until you reach the correct consistency.  I added about 1.5 more TBSP of water as I kneaded.  Oh, and you’re going to be kneading for like 10 minutes.  So make sure to crank some tunes before you get all greased up.

I did dye half a batch of fondant once it was all kneaded and ready to go.  I just used Wilton’s dyes and added a small amount with a toothpick and kneaded it in well.  I went with purple!

One batch of fondant


The directions say it is best to let your fondant sit overnight.  Double wrap it and store it in the fridge.  It’ll keep that way for a few weeks.  You know you want to try it.  Bust out your Crisco and get cracking! 

Word of Warning:  Making this F word turned out to be a literal pain in another f word…finger.  Between the fondant making and yard work I did last week I seem to have strained my thumb.  Try not to knead the fondant like a crazy person, and maybe you’ll be okay.

 

I linked up at It’s a Keeper!