Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter egg holder templates

Here is the direct link for: Easter Party Egg Holder Template.

This fun template comes from Pottery Barn Kids. No kid is going to be able to cut out these templates without some adult help. The design is too intricate. But with a small, sharp scissors it definitely is worth the effort!

While we were waiting for our silk-tie dyed Easter eggs to boil, we cut out a few egg holders in anticipation. With a little paper grass and a colorful egg, the effect is super cute. No need to decorate them further.

I used heavy card stock bought at Target, found in their office supply section. They also had colored paper. These would make wonderful place setting decorations filled with decorative eggs like the one above or filled with chocolate eggs and jelly beans.

The red pin award for the good ol' cute factor! and happy Easter to you!

Happy pinning!

silk dyed Easter eggs

silk tie eggs
Here is the direct link for: Silk Dyed Easter Eggs.

Last Easter season, a friend invited me to join her at another friend's house to color eggs like the photos above. It was so much fun! I came away wanting to host my own silk-tie-egg event. The hostess made it appear so simple and organized. Well, I did it today. It wasn't as simple-looking at my house! Thank goodness I only invited a few people to practice on. We're still in the learning stages of what ties do and don't work, if that even makes sense. 

The instructions for dying these eggs comes from the blog, Domestic Bliss. The process is really very simple: unboiled eggs, a few 100% silk ties cut up, some plain muslin and a few twist ties. The blog's author also sells kits on her Etsy shoppe The June Bride. The kit comes with all the fixings to make at least 16 eggs. She says the ties can be used more than once.

my favorite egg
The kit recommends using small to medium-size eggs which are almost impossible to find in super markets. My husband eventually found some at an Asian market in town. But as you read all the various other Pinterest sources, any size eggs works. Simply cut the tie pieces larger to accommodate your egg size. Not able to do that with a kit already pre-cut pieces. Would I buy a kit next time? No, just follow the instructions and buy your own ties, unless you want to only try it once.

Martha Stewart also has a great video to watch for those that like to 'see' it first: Silk-Tie Easter Eggs. I was most surprised that the ugliest ties made for the prettiest eggs. Who would of ever thought! so don't steer away from those 'no way in hell' ties, they're the best.

The red pin award for creative and a great 'wow' factor! I will definitely do it again next year. A little practice makes for a little more perfect every time.

Happy pinning!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

bunny mix

Here is the direct link for: Bunny Mix.

I love edible mixes such as this one! I love texture and color and a variety of shapes. This bunny mix satisfies all of that and just in time for Easter. A little bag of bunny mix tied with a springy-color ribbon would make a sweet hostess gift !

cheddar chickadees
This recipe comes from the blog, Bubbly Nature Collections. The blog's author, Rachel, gives her readers two recipes: Bunny Mix and 'Sweet' Bunny Mix. The first being more savory and the latter obviously, more sweet from the added marshmallows and chocolate eggs. I gave up sugary items for Lent, so the salty version bunny mix recipe was my first choice. FYI, here is the original link to Rachel's blog: Bunny Mix.

The recipe is a simple one. No baking. No fussing. It only requires opening up packages, dumping them into a large bowl, and a little mixing. Once I got into the stores and saw all the fun shapes of crackers out there, I changed up Rachel's recipe slightly, adding a few new finds of my own. Below is my new version of the Bunny Mix. My teenage kids loved this!

Bunny Mix

1 cup Annie's Organic Cheddar Bunny Crackers
1 cup Annie's Organic White Cheddar Bunny Crackers
1 cup Annie's Organic Pretzel Bunnies with sea salt
1 cup Target's Market Pantry brand Cheddar Chickadees
1 cup Veggie Straws, broken in half
1 cup original Kix cereal

Mix all the ingredients together in a large serving bowl. You may want to double and triple the recipe cause it goes that fast! Enjoy!

The red pin award for fun recipe, very fun and simple! I would make it again, my version for sure!

Happy pinning!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

cinnamon valentine caramels

Here is the direct link for: Cinnamon Valentine Caramels.

This recipe comes from the blog, A Farmgirl's dabbles. The blog's author, Brenda, shares her caramel recipe, a adaptation of her Grandma Klein's Chocolate Caramels. I will definitely be trying that recipe as well!

It took me two tries, but in the end the caramels turned out beautifully. The first batch I didn't heat them long enough, I think. I used an old candy thermometer and it wasn't registering correctly. I went on the internet and learned about how to test for caramel stage by dropping a dollop of mixture into a bowl of ice water and if it holds its shape it's done. The combination of a candy thermometer and the ice water test was a sure thing.

The caramel's red color comes from Wilton's red no taste icing gel, an intense red that blends beautifully, such a perfect Valentine red. The spicy flavor comes from a little vile of cinnamon oil which I purchased at Michael's in their baking section. The blog's author suggests using cinnamon extract if you want a milder taste. The caramels using the cinnamon oil taste like a chewy, but slightly mild red hot candy. YUMMY! As you can see, the recipe makes quite a few caramels. I cut them into thin slices and bagged them up in little cello bags tied with red ribbons. A perfect gift for my teenage Valentines!

FYI, I purchased the caramel wrappers from an Etsy shop, SweetCO1. The shop sells a variety of wrappers, so I stocked up. I prefer the store bought wrappers rather than cutting my own wax paper into pieces. The store bought wrappers are thicker and don't tear when twisting them tightly around the caramels. I also bought some clear wrappers for when I make the chocolate caramels.

The red pin award for a great Valentine gift treat! I will definitely make these again. Next time I might try adding a licorice oil, doesn't that sound good?

Happy pinning!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

chocolate heart peanut butter cookies

Here is the direct link for: Chocolate Heart Peanut Butter Cookies.

This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker's home page. The cookie is described as "chocolate and peanut butter marry in a favorite cookie combo." I love this combination in a cookie!

The recipe uses one pouch of Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix. I have never used this cookie mix before, so I was curious to try it. Plus I wanted a quick and easy cookie as a Valentine's gift to send off to my son away at college. In the end, it was quick and easy to mix up but the cookies lacked that 'real' peanuty-taste. I prefer traditional home-made peanut butter cookies.

The recipe calls for chocolate hearts so I used Hersey's Chocolate Hearts Assortment, a combination of chocolate hearts in milk chocolate, peanut butter filled and dark chocolate. I personally don't like the size of these hearts, they seem a bit too big. I usually like my cookies on the smallish-size. The cookies in the photo above measure about 3-inches after baking. The cookies on the Betty Crocker site look more delicate than mine. They must of used a smaller chocolate heart. But of course, they don't tell you where they got their hearts.

NOTE: I just noticed in the reviews on Betty Crocker's site that one reviewer recommended using Dove milk chocolate hearts for their size and creaminess. Boy, it is amazing what you can find if you dig deep enough in these blogs!

I found another blog, The Baker Chick, that creates a similar cookie but she makes her cookies from scratch, Peanut Butter Sweetheart Cookies. I will try this recipe next time. She also made a great suggestion which I found very helpful. She said she likes "to put the hot cookies into the freezer for a few minutes so the cookie doesn't melt the chocolate too much. Otherwise it can take quite a long time for the chocolate to solidify again and the cookies won't stack easily." This idea worked slick!

This Valentine cookie needs a little work, a bit of tweeking to find the right size chocolate heart and a better tasting peanut butter cookie recipe, but I am getting close, I can taste it.

I give this cookie idea the red pin award cause its different from the traditional Valentine's cookies! I will definitely try this idea again and keep you posted of my results.

Happy pinning!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

easy snowman marshmallows

Here is the direct link for: Easy Snowman Marshmallows.

This recipe comes from the blog, The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. The blog's author has a wealth of information of decorating sugar cookies, a very fun blog to follow.

The recipe is simple enough especially if you take her suggestion of using store-bought marshmallows. I bought the large-brand of Kraft Jet-Puffed Jumbo Marshmallows. I loved their size so when cut in two, as instructions suggest, you get a nice-size snowman or two for each cup of cocoa.

I followed her instructions except for a few changes: I didn't dredge each cut edge in powdered sugar and cornstarch, only powdered sugar alone. The marshmallows were not sticky afterwards at all. Secondly, I made the frosting using royal icing and decorated each face using a toothpick. This was a little putzy because of the light dusting of cornstarch the marshmallows already had on them. If I would of read on further (deeper into the blog) I would of received her tips on using small plastic bottles for decorating. Very clever idea, pays to read everything, eh?

Another fun, quick and easy ideas is to use Peeps Marshmallow Snowmen in your hot drinks. Definitely not as cute, but if you don't have the time it's a great alternative.

The red pin award for a keeper of an winter fun idea! these would make great gifts along with a mason jar of cocoa mix!

Happy pinning!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

blueberry cream cheese coffee cake

Here is the direct link for: Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.

I am into new recipes lately, thus this new recipe for coffee cake. I loved the photo from the blog, Michelle Smith. The blog's author, Michelle, says this about her cake, "While this isn't the simplest cake to make, it is still a crowd pleaser and worth the extra steps it involves in making it." The extra steps did not deter me at all. It is so worth it!

The cake has four parts to it: the base, the cream cheese filling, the blueberry topping and the nut streusel. She is right about the extra steps, but nothing too difficult.

Would I do anything differently next time? Yes, of course, I always do! I would first add 2-3 teaspoons more of the lemon peel (Michelle only calls for one teaspoon) to the body of the cake to give it more lemony flavor. Secondly, Michelle recommends 'gently spreading the blueberry mixture over the cream cheese mixture, leaving some visible', next time I would cover the cheese completely, it would look less spotty-looking. Thirdly, I would lightly toast the almond slices first so they don't get soft so fast. And lastly, I would work the streusel-butter mixture by hand to warm it before I add the nuts so it is more crumbly-looking on the top before baking. I had left them as course crumbs and think the bigger crumbs would look prettier. Just my immediate thoughts. 

This recipe is definitely my new 'go to' recipe for coffee cake. It is that good! I love pretty food as well as great tasting. And this definitely meets the criteria.

The red pin award for a great 'go to' recipe every time! Another keeper!

Happy pinning!

Monday, August 12, 2013

white chocolate raspberry tart

Here is the direct link for: White Chocolate-Raspberry Tart with Almonds and Pistachios.

This past week I had gone with a friend to pick-your-own raspberries. And with the abundance of fresh, ripe raspberries in my house I was needing a new raspberry dessert recipe. I found it in this one. The recipe comes from the blog site. Chef Nic's comments on the recipe sold me, ". . . this is my new favorite dessert! Crisp pastry with a layer of lush fresh raspberries and nuts, covered in creamy white chocolate." Doesn't that sound yummy?

The recipe calls for super fine sugar, one tablespoon, but I didn't have any. So I added granulated and I didn't notice a difference. I also used Ghirardelli white chocolate bars (which added to the cost a bit), but it was well worth it in the end. The recipe also calls for 1/4 cup each toasted pistachios and sliced almonds to be mixed within and on top. I changed it slightly here. I added the whole 1/4 cup of each, leaving the pistachios whole (not chopped) to the tart. I liked the idea of the green pistachio along with the red raspberries. Then I sprinkled another 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds to the top for additional decoration. I absolutely loved the 'extra' crunch the abundance of nuts gave to the body of the tart. If you are not a nuts person either follow the recipe exactly or eliminate them altogether. FYI, I also used almond extract rather than the vanilla.

As you can see in the photo above, it was a beautiful dessert as well as delicious. I served it to my dinner guests and everyone loved it. It serves 12 guests rather nicely.

The red pin award for delicious and extravagant-looking dessert to wow your friends! I will definitely be making this one again.

Happy pinning!

Monday, April 8, 2013

bunny bait mix

Here is the direct link for: Bunny Bait Snack Mix.

This pin comes from the blog, Miss Candiquik. I love snack mixes like this one. It is so versatile to add your favorite snack items to the mix. I changed things up a bit to go with my Easter bunny theme.

sticker for each bag
The blog's author, Sarah, calls for salted peanuts, Cheerios, pastel M&M's and twist pretzels. Then she coats it all with vanilla-flavor Candiquick. A great blend of sweet and salty!

To make it a little more 'bunny-like', I added to my mix Annie's Honey Bunny Grahams (a small bunny-shaped cracker), as well as, changing out the original Cheerios to chocolate flavored ones instead. Annie's also has a great tiny bunny-shaped box of pretzels too. The mix was so yummy that I gave a bag to my sister and while we were visiting, I ate most of it! I owe her another bag!

The final touch was this cute sticker atop my food-safe cello bags. I found this design from the blog, Lilac & Lavender. The blog's author, Megan, created a cute image, Sweet Bunny & Chicks,  that you can download for free. I printed them onto label paper and tied them with a pastel ribbon. Wonderful gift idea!

The red pin award for great recipe as well as whimsical gift idea! This recipe could be easily adapted for each season of the year.

Happy pinning!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

pastel devil eggs

pale pink, turquoise and purple deviled eggs

Here is the direct link for: Easter Deviled Eggs.

Another fun Easter treat idea! I sure had a lot of fun playing this Easter with some fun pins.

This recipe comes from the blog, Real Mom Kitchen. Laura, the blog's author, says this about her eggs, "I found this to be a fun way to dye eggs and bring some color to your Easter dinner," and I would agree with her.

She recommends using neon food color dyes, which I didn't even know they existed. I found the above box in the baking isle at my local grocery store. The colors are a little bit funkier than the traditional dyes. Her instructions are easy and I had three fun colors in a short amount of time. My purple was a bit too funky, so maybe next time I would try a pale green instead.

In addition, as I have mentioned before, the comment section can be just as educational as the blog post itself. One commenter suggested the use of Thousand Island salad dressing, rather than mayonnaise, along with the mashed up egg yolks, just enough to moisten. So I tried it, and you know, it was very tasty! Next year I will put a snippet of fresh dill or parsley as a garnish for each egg. Didn't think of it ahead of time.

The red pin award for festive and delicious besides, a two-fer! This would be fun for St. Paddy's Day as well!

Happy pinning!