Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Individual No Bake Cheesecakes!

I told you the mason jars would be making an appearance! This is a great way to make individualized desserts to take to a picnic, pot luck, or pack in a lunch. Even more no fuss: a no bake dessert! The glass jars certainly may go in an oven to bake (and I've seen many clever recipes online for pies, etc.) but I decided a no bake dessert was the way to go this time.

You will need:

1 sleeve graham crackers (about 5 ounces)
4 Tablespoons butter (melted)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream
16 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depending how sweet you like your desserts)
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon

To make the crust you will need to smash up your graham crackers (other crackers or cookies may be substituted if you have something else on hand). I used my trusty old rolling pin and placed my crackers in a sealed bag and smacked/rolled them to smithereens. If you prefer, you may use a food processor. Once I have my crumbs, I mix in 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar to evenly distribute it. Then, mix in your melted butter with a fork (or pulse it in with your food processor).

Once you have your crust, spoon it into your containers. While I used tiny mason jars (4oz. jars) you could also use a pie plate or any other container you like for your cheesecake. Gently pat your crust into the bottom of your container.

To make the filling, start by whipping 1 cup of heavy cream into whipped cream (like you would top a sundae with). You could try substituting an already whipped topping, but I like the results better with real whipped cream. Once you have your whipped cream, add in your cream cheese and sugar. Last, but certainly not least, add in the zest and juice of one lemon. I found an exceptionally large lemon, so I used all of the zest but only about 3/4 of the juice. Again, you may add this to suit your taste. If you prefer, lime juice would also be lovely in this.

Spoon your filling over your crust and smooth out with a spoon or spatula. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight (the jars come in handy here as each one has it's own built in, air tight, cover). Serve as is, or with your favorite fruit topping (okay, okay or chocolate/caramel, etc.). Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Magical Mason Jars

Portland has finally gotten a small taste or two of Spring this year, and with that I have my renewed love of gardening and putting everything into a mason jar. They aren't just for preserves to me, once Spring and Summer hit, I want all of my drinks, gifts, desserts(spoiler alert for Friday Food Craft!) and more to be packed in a mason jar.

As you can see, I like to doll them up on occasion and using scrapbook paper on the lid inserts is a great easy way to start your own love for mason jar decorating. I also like to make sticker labels, use a ribbon tie, etc. This is one you can really personalize and go nuts with, and the containers are reusable so you and your friends can pass them around forever if you want!

For the lids you see here, all I did was trace around the circle insert for my lids, cut out the circle inside the lines (you don't want it to end up bigger than the insert). The best part of this is your circle doesn't need to be absolutely perfect around the edges because your jar ring will cover the edges when you close the jar. If you don't have scrap booking paper, or another colored paper, scraps of fabric would also be lovely.

I will be sharing a few more Spring inspired crafts this week and next! What are some of your favorite Spring time crafts?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Eggs in a Basket

I know it has been awhile, but I couldn't leave you all without a Friday Food Craft, especially before Easter. Sadly, I returned from my trip to Wisconsin with a horrible head cold and have spent most of my week in bed. More crafty goodness will be coming your way next week, I am feeling quite a bit better today.

Now for the food! This is a great take on "eggs in a basket" that is super easy and would make a great Easter breakfast, or part of a larger brunch. It is baked in the oven, so you don't need to babysit it the whole time and doesn't require any turning. I decided to try it with some left over dinner rolls, I'm always trying to use up everything in the kitchen before it goes bad.

You will need:

Dinner rolls (one for each person)
eggs (same number as dinner rolls)
salt and pepper to taste
cheese (I used both a goat cheese and a small sprinkling of grana padano, any cheese you like will do)

*optional additions: tomatoes, peppers, fresh herbs, hot sauce, etc.

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Next, slice the tops off of your dinner rolls. I cut off about the top 1/3 of my dinner roll, to leave ample space for an egg in the bottom. Set the tops aside and hollow out the bottoms of your "bread bowls" enough to hold one egg (you can leave a little extra bread because some of your egg will soak into it and you don't want a skimpy bowl).

Place your egg bowls onto a baking sheet. Now comes the fun: add your seasonings and toppings to taste. This is great because each person can choose their own toppings to make a special breakfast without a lot of fuss. Also, if you have some people who prefer scrambled eggs, they could scramble theirs before pouring it into the bread bowl.

Bake your eggs for 20-25 minutes, and then place your roll tops onto the baking sheet for an additional 5 minutes so they crisp up a bit.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Place the tops back onto each roll and enjoy this delicious breakfast sandwich!

This is a great way to change up the classic eggs in a basket, which generally uses a slice of bread with a hole cut into it. Topping choices are really limitless so you could do this every week and still be having a slightly different breakfast each time. :) I also like that it is baked in the oven so while my sandwiches are baking, I can be making a fruit salad or some hash browns to go with and not risk burning my eggs. Enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Hotdogtopus!

I am in the great land of Wisconsin with my two adorable little nieces, and what better thing to do for a food craft than Hotdogtopus, the hot dog octopus! This is a super easy way to make meal time fun for the little ones. Honestly, it's about the only reason I would ever want a hot dog, but the kids love 'em. ALso, you have a lot of serving options, and they are easy enough to make that you can do these special for the kids while you have some more adult fare on your own plate.

You will need:

Hot dogs (I prefer the "bun length" as they give you more room to work with)
a sharp knife
pot of boiling water

See? I said it was easy.

Take each hot dog and cut 2/3 into "legs". Just slice in half, turn slice in half, until you have 8 "legs", these do not have to be perfect by any means. Place your hotdogtopus into a pot of boiling water and watch the legs curl up! If you are like me, you can't eat a plain old boiled hot dog, so I arranged my hotdogtopi on a baking sheet with heads up, resting on their legs to brown a tiny bit and crisp up those legs! Finish by making a little face with toothpick pricks, or a knife. These are great served in a sea of mac 'n cheese, or surrounded by tater tot "coral".

Friday, April 8, 2011

Butterfly Collection Pillows!

It has been a very busy week! Lots of working, laundry, packing and gift making for my upcoming trip to Wisconsin to see my family. I'm excited for the trip but I am also exhausted from all the work! Here is the final outcome of my butterfly project from a couple days ago, butterfly collection pillows! These butterflies would make a lot of other great projects as well: tote bags, a sciency looking butterfly pincushion maybe? Some wall art, shadow box, etc. The best part is you only have to sew around the little body shapes so the wings are free to give your project extra dimension.

For the butterfly template I used, check out this post.

I got the original idea for this project at Ruffles and Stuff but I liked a more intricate butterfly, and wanted to use brighter colors.

Friday Food Craft: Hummus

I don't know about you, but packing for a trip makes me work up a hunger. I decided to whip up a quick batch of roasted red pepper hummus since I generally have all of the ingredients in my pantry. I lacked pita bread for dipping, but I like toasted corn chips just as well. Yum!

You will need:

1 can (15.5oz.) of Cannellini beans, rinsed thoroughly (chickpeas are the traditional, but I think it mixes up smoother with cannellini's, and it's what I had in the cupboard)
1-2 cloves of garlic (depending how much you like garlic)
1-2 Tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste)*
1/4 cup of roasted red peppers (I use the ones you can buy in a jar already roasted)
extra virgin olive oil (enough to get the consistency you want, I used a couple Tablespoons)

*If you do not have (or can not find) tahini, I have used peanut butter before in a pinch. I'm sure almond butter, etc. would also be fine.

Place all of the ingredients (except the olive oil) into a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times to see what the texture is like, then begin adding your olive oil in a slow drizzle until you reach your desired consistency.

Place into a bowl and serve with chips, crackers, or warm pita bread. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rain theme contest on

I love fabrics of all kinds, but I especially love one of a kind fabrics! Cue and the magic they help everyday people like you and me create! For those of you unfamiliar with spoonflower, it is a website where you can upload your own designs and create your own fabric. You can even upload photographs and turn them into fabrics for your own special projects. For one of a kind designs, the prices are also very reasonable, and you can order as much or as little as you like!

This week on, the contest theme is rain, and I just so happen to have a design in the contest. If you like it as much as I do, go and vote now! You can vote for as many patterns as you like, and don't need to be a member to vote. There are some very cute designs I am up against too. To vote in this week's contest just go here.

Fab Finds on the Internet: MaaPstudio

Ahhh! Look at this ring and tell me you are not absolutely in love with it! I came across this Etsy shop while using as I was wasting time before work very early this morning. At first glance I thought "Wow, how beautiful, I bet this stuff costs a fortune." Answer: No, it does not. The rings all seem to be priced under 50 dollars and the necklaces and earrings are all also very reasonably priced. I really don't have a reason to get myself such a gift right now, but I know where I will be pointing the husband if he has any want to give me something of the jewelry persuasion.

When I find something like this I have to share it, so please go take a look at the shop for yourself, it is worth a peek at least. The shop can be found here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Elephants on Parade!

I just finished these this morning. Aren't they just the cutest? Trips from Aunt Kari come with gifts galore and these little elephants will be just perfect. My smaller niece, Hannah will be getting the super soft purple fleece elephant. I have seen several different patterns for stuffed elephants, and I have to say as far as being usable by small children I prefer ones where the ears are sewn into a slit, like in these (it also helps ensure that your ears are even on both sides).

I would advise to find patterns you like, and change them up with your own twist. Maybe in the future I will decide I would like the trunk to point up rather than curling under, for example.

You may recognize this guy! It's a larger stuffed Patchy Derm the pachiderm. I added an extra little patch of scrap fabric to the backside. Flowered corduroy will be soft, and more durable for "Big Girl" Lexi. The tails of each are braided yarn, there is a huge knot on the inside and they are triple sewn in to make sure they don't fall out (or that their doggies don't help rip them out).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring is in the air!

It is an absolutely beautiful day outside! I know I have been MIA in the crafts department as of late, but I assure you it is a time constraint, not a lack of crafting that is keeping me from you all. I am taking a trip to Wisconsin next week to visit my family and have been hard at work on gifts for them (nothing is actually finished yet, I'm multi-tasking them all at the same pace to be done Friday).

This is going to end up being projects for my grandmother and my sister-in-law, for their respective birthdays. I thought the butterflies and bright colors were fitting for the day, and it will give you all a chance to start guessing at what I am making. I also have a little template photo you can use to make your own colorful butterflies! These would also make a great paper craft, but for now I'm sticking with the felt and sewing projects at hand. You could also find some images of your favorite type of butterfly, or many different butterflies to make a more diverse collection. I'm hoping to get the finished project(s) done and posted for you all tomorrow!

What kind of ideas do you have for springtime colors and/or butterflies?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Bagels

I have always appreciated the finer things in life. Like carbs. So you can imagine, I go absolutely nuts over just about any kind of fresh baked bread product. These bagels are no exception. I'm going give you the basic recipe for plain bagels, just keep in mind that to this recipe you can add any extra ingredients you like (raisins, cinnamon, fruits-I recommend using dried or at least well drained fruits, cinnamon-sugar, sesame seeds, poppy seeds...really the list is endless).

You will need:

3 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. instant dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups hot water (between 120-130 degrees)

For boiling the bagels prior to baking you will also need another 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar to add to the water.

If adding toppings, an egg wash makes things stick much better. I generally mix one whole egg with about a tablespoon of water and beat it together well. You may also use this if you like a really golden and shiny top crust on your bagels.

Now, on to the bagels!

I start by adding all of my dry ingredients (yes, even the yeast) into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Mix these together on low, and while the hook is still moving start to slowly add the water. This makes a fairly wet dough as far as breads go.
(If you have a large food processor, you could also use that and just pulse the water in.)

Once you have all of the hot water incorporated, I usually let the dough hook go a little to work up some tasty gluten in my dough before I set it to rise. About 30 seconds on high speed seems to do the trick. Then, just place your dough into a large, greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and/or a clean tea towel to rise for about 1 hour. The dough should double in size.

Prepare your water for boiling around that one hour mark. I add about 2 Tablespoons of sugar to 6 quarts of water and bring it to a full rolling boil. As soon as I get my water on the stove I start to separate my dough and shape my bagels.

Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface. As I mentioned, this makes a pretty wet dough, but you will not need to add a lot of flour. You will separate your dough in to 10 pieces (or more if you want to make mini bagels) and roll the dough into "snakes" about 8 inches long and 1 inch thick. Then, loop the dough around your hand (I like a small hole in the middle rather than a large one so I only use 3 fingers to wrap my dough around. Gently roll the ends together to close your circle (the dough being wet really helps with this, but you can always bad some water on the ends like glue to help them stick if you need to).

Once all of your bagels are shaped allow them to rise an additional 10 minutes. I generally place mine on a bed of cornmeal so they don't stick to the surface and lose their shape/deflate when I pick them up to go in the boiling water.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Boil each bagel for about 1 minute, 2 to 3 at a time, turning each one about halfway through. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a clean towel to remove extra moisture.

*If you are adding toppings, now is the time to do so. Brush each bagel with your egg wash and sprinkle with toppings.

Once all of your bagels have been boiled, place them on a greased baking sheet (or line it with parchment paper) and bake them for 20 minutes on the first side, then flip and bake another 10 minutes on the other side. This will get a nice golden color on both the top and bottom of your bagels.


These make a very chewy on the inside, golden on the outside bagel. I like them with cream cheese (I just discovered a spinach and artichoke cream cheese that is absolutely delicious!) but you could use any topping you like. Also, if you like making bagels sandwiches or bagel pizzas, this is a great opportunity to shape your bagels without the center holes for your toppings to fall through! (I would boil the bagels a little longer if you are not going to have a center hole, just to make sure they cook all the way through.)

The best thing about this recipe is that it can be adapted to anyone's taste. What is your favorite bagel combination?

*Want more pictures to follow? Serious Eats has a very similar recipe with step by step photos.