Monday, November 17, 2014

mia

video
Today would have been Mia's 16th birthday. 
We miss you girl.
 Nov 18, 1998 - June 5, 2014

Friday, December 7, 2012

Neapolitan Cookies

'tis the season for delicious cookies

Neapolitan cookies! These things rock. This recipe was given to my mom by her Italian neighbor 30 years ago. There are lots of variations on this cookie, but this is the one I've always had and they're AMAZING. Tedious to make, but simple if you just follow the directions. I NEVER bake (well, just apple pies in the fall) and if I can make these cookies, so can you! The batch yields about 100 little bite-sized pieces of heaven :-)

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What you need:

  • 1 can 8oz almond paste (baking aisle)
  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 20 drops red food coloring
  • 12 drops green food coloring
  • 1/4 cup seedless red raspberry jam (I use the brand Polander)
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserve (store brand fine)
  • 1 pkg 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Equipment/other odd stuff needed:   
  • PAM baking spray
  • tin foil & plastic wrap
  • 3 mixing bowls
  • 3 13x9x2 baking pans  (I bought 3 of these just for this recipe, it just makes life easier)
  •  3 cooling racks
  • double boiler/a heat-resistant bowl
  • hand mixer  
  • sifter
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Direx: 

Spray the bottoms of 3 13x9x2 pans. Fold/cut the foil to fit the bottom of the pan and spray the foil as well.

Separate the eggs, saving both the yolks and whites in separate bowls.


Using a fork, break almond paste into small pieces in a large bowl. Add butter (I microwave for 20 sec to get soft), sugar and egg yolks. Use electric mixer at medium speed and beat mixture till light and fluffy.
mmmmm almond paste.



Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Add flour mixture to the almond paste mixture and mix with a wooden spoon till well blended. Mixture will be dry and crumbly. 

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites till soft peaks form when beater is slowly raised (about 3 minutes on medium-high speed). Add egg whites to almond/flour mixture and stir till well blended.


Use measuring cups to remove 1 1/2 cups of batter to a medium bowl. Spray the measuring cup and spoon beforehand to help prevent sticking. Preheat oven now to 350°. Stir in red color till well blended. Repeat this process in another bowl and add green color. (to save on bowls I quickly rinsed the bowls that we're used earlier for the flour and egg whites). 

Turn the red, green and plain batter into pans and spread evenly. This is the pain-in-the-ass part! Be patient and do it slowly. The foil will move around and the spoon will stick but stay with it, it's worth it! I like to use the back of a teaspoon (sprayed with baking spray) to spread it around. 

 Bake 10-12 minutes till golden brown. I like to cook them for 5, then rotate them around the oven and cook for an additional 6 minutes.

When finished baking, cool pans upside down on wire racks. My mom calls this part "the transfer" and it can be quite scary. When you flip them on the cooling rack there is a chance for them to crack so you must do it swiftly and carefully! She always scares me when I'm baking and calls me to check to see if I survived the transfer or not (so far I always have!)

Once cooled, slide the green layer onto a large cutting board. Spread the raspberry jam over the green layer, then slide the yellow layer on top. Spread the apricot preserves over the yellow layer, then slide the red layer on top. *Flip the red layer upside down on the cake so that the smooth part is on top. To do this, lay another cooling rack on top and flip over.


bottom layer: green cake with raspberry jam
middle layer: yellow cake with apricot preseve

the flipping of the red layer

Cover cake with plastic wrap and set another cutting board or heavy flat pan on cake to weight it down. I like to sit the 3 baking pans on top and just wash them the next day. Refrigerate overnight.
yummy yum yum


The next day, on top of a double boiler, melt 1/3 bag of chocolate over hot, not boiling water. I simply use a stainless steel bowl over top of the pot. Spread the melted chocolate over top the cake. Trim the edges. Let frosting dry (I'm impatient and throw the cake back in the fridge for 10min). Cut cake crosswise into 1/2" strips and cut the other way as well. Depending on how you cut, you'll get about 90-100 pieces. Make sure to "drag" your knife, not moving it in and up and down manner- this way the cake will stay together. I use a long non-serated knife. 
melty chocolate goodness w/my nifty piggy pot holder
trim the edges while chocolate warm
don't waste the edges, those are for the chef you know :-)



I like to store them in a big tupperware container on parchment paper (until I divide them out into cookie tins/containers). Let stand at least 1 day before serving, as they improve on standing.

ENJOY! Try the recipe and spread the cookie love!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crepe Paper Spider Web

crepe paper streamer & some tape
This idea was created by myself the other night- no pins or Pinterest inspiration involved haha. I have this wall in my house that I wanted to decorate with a large scale image or pattern. I looked to my craft closet and saw I already had the materials I needed to come up with a spider web!

Big impact, little time/energy/cost...that's my kind of craft.

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Crepe Paper Spider Web

What you will need:
  • 1 crepe paper streamer roll
  • tape
  • cardstock/colored paper
  • scissors
  • marker/glitter glue for the eyes 
I already had the crepe paper streamers from another project (and didn't end up using them). The bag came with 2 rolls (only 1 needed for this large web) and it was $1.00 at the dollar store.

I googled free spider and spider web clip art. Click here for the spider. Click here for the web. For the web I really referenced a few different ones just to get a good idea of how their shaped. 


For the web:
 
I'm not into measuring things and just "eye-balled" this whole thing. A tip: crumple the streamer in your hand to give it more texture and look less like a streamer. I just rolled up little pieces of scotch tape behind it.


I figured out it was faster to lay out all the tape then just press on one long, continuous piece of streamer. Remember, crumple as you go.





For the spider:

I printed the image from google, then traced/cut it out on some orange cardstock I had. Then I gave it cute eyes with some glitter paint that I had lying around. You can just use a sharpie or jazz it up with googly eyes if you want. 



ta-da and there you have a spider

This took me almost no time to make and cost me nothing- but it really adds a lot to the room!

High impact I tell ya! Now go on and make a web for yourself :-)

spooky! we'll see how long this lasts till the kids rip it down lol

Thursday, October 18, 2012

4 simple (and cheap!) DIY Halloween decorations


cheesecloth ghost, decorative tealights & a spooky tree

magnetic spiders causing arachnophobia all up in here

Now that Pinterest has expanded their categories, it's much easier to find ideas more specific to what you're looking for. I really love the "Holidays & Events" section! Besides a quick trip to AC Moore and the grocery store, most of the things needed I already had lying around the house. Here are the decorations I was inspired to make...

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1) Cheesecloth Floating Ghost
I found this cute idea on Every Day is Crafting Day. Other than adding a few things to the directions, this idea is all theirs! It's so cute and looks like it's floating since the starch is holding it up.

What you need:
spray starch, cheesecloth, wire hanger
  • 1 package of cheesecloth (I found it in the baking aisle at the grocery store)
  • 1 bottle spray starch (laundry aisle)
  • 1 liter empty soda bottle
  • one 6" styrofoam ball (ac moore)
  • black cardstock or felt 
  • glue (I used elmer's glue all) 
  • wire or wire hanger
  • wire cutter (my plyers have a wire cutter on them) 
  • tape (if necessary)
  • old towel
I went through some trial-and-error with this project. I have very little patience and until I figured out to tape the bottle down to a hardy surface, I was about to throw this whole idea right in the damn garbage! Follow my suggestions and hopefully this will be really simple for you! haha

tape it down for your sanity
Curl the ends of the wire to make the "hands". Sit the ball on top of an empty bottle. I let this dry overnight, so I did this in my laundry room so the kids wouldn't be tempted to mess with it. 


lay down an old towel. this gem is circa 1989.

the sun and open window helped dry this thing.

Lay down an old towel around the bottle. Hold the ball in your hand and lay the cheesecloth over it- THEN place on the bottle. If you try the other way around the cloth catches on the ball and keeps falling over. Make sure you lay the cloth on the ground nicely on the front band back b/c when it dries this is what will be holding your ghost up. Now spray the crap outta this thing with starch! front and back! woohoo spraying things is fun!!

when he was done I wanted to squeeze him and say "i love him soooo much" ie raising arizona hehe

woooooo! just leaning on itself

Once dry (mine took overnight), peel the ghost off the frame. Cut out two circles of cardstock (or felt or whatever you have) and glue the eyes on. (tip: I held the ball in the head when I glued the eyes on so I had something to lean against). So cute! It just sits there on it's own! I wonder if it would hang well with some fishing line if you wanted.

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2)  Decorative Tealights
A pin led me to the blog A Spotted Pony. Perfect way to jazz up simple tealight holders.

What you will need:

unscented b/c I've got enough autumn candles going on in the house already
  •  unscented tea lights (I got a bag of 50 for a few bucks with a coupon at ac moore)
  • small glass votives (mine were $.50/ea at ac moore)
  • scrap of cardstock
  • scissors
  • glue
Simply cut out spooky designs and glue them on! I free-hand drew my shapes and then cut them out. Let the glue dry, then take a wet paper towel and wipe the glue residue off the glass to make it look nice and neat. Simple, cheap and endless possibilities! Could be great for other holidays too!

I used an exacto knife for the skull details.


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3) Spooky Branch Centerpiece
I've seen variations on this idea all across Pinterest and I thought it'd be such an easy way to make a quick and simple decoration.

What you will need:
  • tall vase/flower holder
  • fake spider web
  • sticks
the kids had fun wandering around the yard collecting sticks :-)

oooh spooky!

Some people spray the sticks high gloss black or put decorative spiders in it. Again, so many ways to jazz this up- but I like the way the sticks look natural. The dollar store is great for stuff like this, I got the web (spiders included) for $1.00 and the vase from AC Moore with a coupon.

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4) Magnetic Spiders 
Scare guests and trick-or-treaters coming to your front door as they see the spiders creeping up from the ground! Found this on the site DeliaCreates.

What you will need:
  • plastic spiders
  • magnets
  • glue


The original link suggested cutting the rings off plastic spiders- which could work too- but I found this bag of plastic spiders at the dollar store that are plain spiders. I already had the magnets. Hot glue them things on stick them to whatever is magnetic! I've already scared a few family members :-)
 

big momma spider's babies are trying to get in the house hehe

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Happy Halloween! 
Hope this inspires you to add some more Halloween spirit to your house :-)







i'm back...organized & ready to go

crafting center! gift bags, bows, scrapbook paper, stickers, glue, markers, paint, sewing machine, fabric, & party supplies.

So I've been MIA from the blog for the past 6 months- but for good reason. In April we bought a house(!), moved in May and was busy with my 2 boys all summer, then my first born started pre-school in September.  Anywho, I finally found a place in the house for all my crafts (closet in the spare bedroom/office) and now they're perfectly happy, organized and accessible. My label maker was hard at work. ahhh feels so good. Hopefully this will make it easier to craft- it's already inspired me to do a bunch of little Halloween projects (blog post coming soon...)

I did do some projects over the past bunch of months- a few for my son's 1st bday "race car" party and some for my other son's 3rd bday "bug" party. I love trolling other ppl's sites for ideas for parties, so I hope to share mine for you! I also have a bunch of recipes I want to try out and share...So stay hungry and crafty my friends and check back for new posts :-)


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cauliflower Poppers

cauliflower 0 points; side of sour cream 1 pt

My weakness is crunchy, salty foods- especially at night when I'm chillen on the couch catching up on shows on the DVR. These poppers are a perfect snack for that- or even as a side dish with dinner. They get me through mid-day around 3:00 when I'm looking for something to hold me over for dinner.

Oh, did I mention they are ZERO points!? I like to dip them in a tablespoon of red-fat sour cream- so that's 1 point for me but totally worth it. There is so much flavor and spice from the cumin and chili powder- they're totally satisfying and filling.

I found this recipe on the WW website. 

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Ingredients: 
don't forget the head of cauliflower (duh)
  • 1 head cauliflower (this makes a lot)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • cooking spray
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Directions: 
Preheat the oven to 400ยบ.
  1. Cut the head in half, cut out the core, and cut the florets into small bite-sized pieces. 
  2. In a large bowl, coat the florets with a good long spray of cooking spray. 
  3. Add in all the seasonings and toss.










This may be obvious to most people, but remember there is a section to dip in your measuring spoon in containers like this. (hey yea never know)











Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the cauliflower on it. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. If it is still too aldente (firm/crunchy) for you, keep it in a few more.



mmm 10 minutes later you have yummy, golden brown goodness. That's all there is to it! I like to re-heat them in the microwave for 20 seconds to take the chill off. Could also be great with broccoli or be creative with changing up the spices!

 Swap out those late-afternoon/night chips with a healthy, filling alternative :-)