Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Made Baby Shoes

I am ridiculously proud of myself. My friend Robyn is having a baby and I decided to make some shoes with a tutorial I found on the internet. I am so amazingly happy with the results.

The first shoe took me a day and a half to make. The tutorial is really easy to follow, but I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to sew through the really thick part. I broke my very first needle and at one point I thought I had broken my entire machine. I had to enlist the phone help of my sewing goddess friend, Kristin. I never did sew through the really thick ends. I just started in a little bit, but it didn't matter because the ends are tucked in. (Do the tutorial and you'll understand what the heck I'm talking about). It will probably affect durability, but these are baby shoes that will probably be worn once for a picture and then never again. I'm not worried about durability.

So I mentioned that the first shoe took me a day and a half to make, but I should also point out that the second shoe only took me 20 minutes.

Yes, 20 minutes.

Did I mention how proud I am?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Marshmallow Madness

Today I found out that marshmallows are about the easiest thing in the world to make. Seriously! You should go make some RIGHT NOW!

I had bookmarked this blog post a while ago and recently decided to make them for Valentine's gifts. I had some sticks and bags leftover from last year's cake pops so I decided to put my marshmallows on a stick. I am very happy with the way they came out. And they taste like fluffy little pieces of heaven. And making them was hardly messy at all. Cutting them and putting them on the stick and bagging them, now that got a bit messy, but the actual making of the marshmallows was a breeze.

Oh, the mug and cocoa in the picture are for a hostess gift. We're going to a little valentine playdate tomorrow and we're bringing a mug with cocoa mix and homemade marshmallows. Pretty cute, I think.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Love Pops

I made these last year as super cute Valentine gifts for my friends and family. The idea comes from the fabulous Bakerella. The instructions are here. I think they taste like Ding Dongs. Mmmm...

They are certainly easy to make, but very very messy. And they take some time so give yourself a couple of days or it could be disaster.

And I still have a ton of bags and sticks so I'm planning to use these extras to package homemade marshmallows as Valentine gifts this year. So stay tuned...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Peanut Butter Goodness

I've been in a cookie baking frenzy lately and it needs to stop. I ran out of flour yesterday and almost went into a panic. I started googling cake mix cookie recipes so I could keep the almost daily baking streak alive. This is not good for my waistline.

So when I came across this recipe from The Farm Chicks via this post from Amy Clark at MomAdvice I was very happy. It meant I didn't have to stop cold turkey. I can wean myself slowly off of my baking binge with a no bake recipe. One step at a time, right?

I love the basic concept and how easy it is to throw together. I made a half batch using Barbara's Cinnamon Puffins cereal. I really really liked the cinnamon, honey, peanut butter flavor combo. I found them to be quite sweet and will try reducing the sugar/honey next time. Oh, I also threw in a handful of peanuts and a handful of oats. The oats blended right in so next time I'll throw in a few more and maybe some wheat germ or something.

Here's basically how I made them:

Peanut Butter Bars

3/4 cup peanut butter (I used Trader Joe's natural, salted pb)
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 cups Barbara's Cinnamon Puffins cereal, lightly crushed so the pieces are smaller
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup peanuts

Put the peanut butter, sugar, and honey in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave 30-45 seconds, or until mixture is stirs together easily. Pour over cereal/oat/peanut mixture and stir until well combined. Press into 9x9 pan and chill until set. Keep refrigerated.

Thanks MomAdvice and The Farm Chicks!

UPDATE: I think I have perfected my recipe. For the less sweet version that I have made more times than I am willing to admit, use this:

Emily's Peanut Butter Goodness

3 cups Barbara's Cinnamon Puffins cereal, lightly crushed so the pieces are smaller
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup wheat germ or oat bran
3/4 cup peanut butter (I used Trader Joe's natural, salted pb)
1/2 cup honey

Put the peanut butter and honey in a microwave safe bowl (I use my glass liquid measuring cup). Microwave 30-45 seconds, or until mixture is stirs together easily. Pour over cereal/oat/wheat germ mixture and stir until well combined. Press into 9x9 pan and chill until set. Keep refrigerated.

Another Update: I am contributing this to the MomAdvice Notebook Experiment Project (I might have just made up that title, but you get the idea) here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Valentine Tea

My friend, Kristin, is moving to Texas. Kristin is someone whom you meet and then instantly wish she had been your best friend for the past ten years. She also taught me how to sew. And more importantly she taught me not to afraid of my sewing machine.

So as a little going away token I wanted to make her a little something crafty using the fabric that I used for that very first project that we worked on in her living room. My first two attempts were disasters. I almost gave up and just bought something at Target, but then...then I found Creature Comforts and inspiration struck. She has a great Valentine tea bag tutorial. I wasn't able to use the tea bags as designed because I wanted to put them in a little tin I had and my tin was too small for the wrapped bags.

But let me back up and tell you about the tin. This is a really really cute idea for packaging a small gift (earrings, pin, tea bags). You take a small pop top (very important) tin of something like peaches. You use a can opener and open it FROM THE BOTTOM. You have to make sure to use a can opener that doesn't crinkle the edges. Then you remove the contents from the bottom, leaving the pop top intact. Then wash and dry the tin thoroughly. Put your contents in upside down, so that they will be right side up when the recipient opens it from the pop top. Hot glue the bottom back into place and decorate the tin as desired. People love this and can't figure out how you did it.

In my case I used a piece of the fabric mentioned above and wrapped it around the tin, securing it with scrapbook tape. Then I cut one of the labels from Creature Comforts' post and stuck that on. The tea bags inside (3 of them, I think. It is a very small tin) all have the little heart tag that Creature Comforts designed. I also used some basket shred in there so it would look more festive when she opened it, but you could also use something like tissue paper. Then I tied some ribbon on the pop top and was done. From idea to done in less than an hour.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Celebration Dessert

This dessert was actually made for New Year's Eve, but would work just as well for a Valentine's Day dinner. I struggle with dessert for only two. Especially when you want the presentation to be a little bit better than some cookies on a plate. I was looking for a dessert that said "special occasion", but was small enough to not overwhelm only two people. So I decided on my favorite pre-made tiramisu from Trader Joe's. But when I went to Trader Joe's to buy it, they were out. Damn.

So Plan B was this dessert. Tiramisu inspired, but nothing like tiramisu at all really. It was EXACTLY what I was looking for, though. You see, my husband likes vanilla cake with vanilla frosting for his birthday cake. And vanilla pudding and vanilla cookies the rest of the year and, well, you get the point. So I was looking for a tasty vanilla pudding to satisfy him with some coffee soaked pound cake to satisfy me. And I wanted the presentation to be pretty so I layered it in a wine glass. And so that is exactly what this is.

The recipe I used started here. But as you can see, my dessert ended up nothing like that one. Here's what I did: I used an almond pound cake mix I had in the cupboard. Once it had baked and cooled I cut it into cubes and put a few in the bottom of the wine glass. I then drizzled on about 1/4 cup instant coffee (split between the two). The next part is where I actually used the recipe I linked to a minute ago. I topped it off with a their delicious pudding mixture (so, so good). Then let it refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.

The end result really was surprisingly good. I like to be a from scratch baker, but I'm not embarrassed to go the easy route sometimes. This was definitely one of those times.

Oh, but next time I wouldn't use an almond pound cake. At least not from a mix. The almond flavor was was very fake tasting and a little too strong.