Friday, August 31, 2012

samoa brownie cookie bars

Here is the direct link for: Samoa Brownie Cookie Bars.

I started out this summer, my very first pin, was a Samoa cookie knock-off: Samoa Bark. I thought I would end my summer, my last pin for my summer adventure, with a Samoa recipe: Samoa Brownie Cookie Bars. Hopefully, this recipe is better than the first.

This recipe comes from the blog, Jasey's Crazy Daisy. The blog's author, Jasey, has invented this bar recipe using several store-bought products such as a brownie mix, a jar of caramel sauce and a jar of hot fudge topping, along with the toasted coconut and a shortbread cookie recipe.

Because of the layering it can be a bit putzy, but simple enough nonetheless; shortbread on the bottom, brownie mix next, then the coconut-caramel layer and topped off with the chocolate drizzle. This recipe creates a 9x13-inch pan of bars.

In the end, they were very good, very rich. A great treat to bring to your next potluck. The brownie acts like a fudge layer and the coconut-caramel is wonderful. I also love the shortbread bottom. All of it works together.

Does it take the place of a Girl Scout Somoa cookie? No way! But I don't really think it's supposed to.

FYI. Next time, cut a sheet of parchment paper for the bottom of the pan and spray it with PAM. Jasey doesn't give any instructions for this and the bars stuck to the pan. They were difficult to cut and several of them are missing their shortbread bottoms. Also next time, double the shortbread recipe so the cookie bottom is thicker. The buttery crust really makes the cookie for me!

The red pin award for a very yummy new bar recipe with lots of potential!

I bet these bars will taste even better tomorrow! Oh, and I renamed these bars to 'Samoa Cookie Brownie Bar'.

Happy pinning!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

chili and cornbread in a jar

Here is the direct link for: Chili and Cornbread in a Jar.

So many uses for the old Mason jar, so little time. This pin comes from the blog, GiversLog. The blog's author, AmberLee, makes Chili and Cornbread in a Jar look easy and very doable. Her readers all rave about her photos and the cleverness of her idea!

Many of GiversLog's readers liked the idea of chili in a jar for a back yard party or celebration. One reader even wanted to send it overseas to her husband in the army. Wow!

I started it all off making AmberLee's favorite turkey chili recipe. She lists it later in her comments section. Then I topped it off with my favorite cornbread recipe: Ina Gerton's Raspberry Cornbread Muffins (minus the raspberry jam, of course). AmberLee does give her favorite cornbread recipe as part of her post.

AmberLee says to use quart-size Mason jars for this. I didn't happen to notice whether the jar was a regular or wide-mouth opening. I only had regular-mouth quart-size jars on hand. It is filled a third to half full with chili then topped off with a hearty scoop of cornbread dough. It bakes in the jar for about 25 minutes. Caution: in the end the jars are mighty hot and really should be eaten with a hot pad.

Overall, what did I think? I laugh thinking of the reader's comments wanting to make this for a crowd: good luck with that one! In the end, this pin had three strikes against it:

#1. A quart-size jar is WAY TOO BIG! I hope I made that clear: WAY TOO BIG! A pint-size jar is plenty big enough.

#2. AmberLee really should of emphasized the importance of using a wide-mouth jar in bold and capital letters for all far and wide to see. Eating it out of a regular-mouth was hard to eat. Too bad I couldn't find my long handled ice cream sundae spoons.

#3. Because I used a regular-mouth jar (the smaller opening), all we tasted for the first 15 minutes, literally, was cornbread. By the time we reached the chili we were full.

Once we did reach the chili we really liked it and I would definitely make that again. And if you're going to eat all that cornbread it might as well be Ina's recipe.

If I ever try this stunt again, I would definitely use a half-pint wide-mouth jar and call it a 'chili & cornbread sampler'.

The red pin award, yes, the red pin award for the new chili recipe. Points taken away though for presentation and practicality.

I realize now that if I used a canning funnel it would of been easier to scoop in the chili and cornbread. Plus the jar would of been cleaner-looking.

Happy pinning!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

vanilla pecan butter

Here is the direct link for: Vanilla Pecan Butter.

It has been quite a bread-and-butter kind of week. Most of these pins come from my 'Savories' board. Vanilla Pecan Butter. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

This recipe comes from the blog, Epicurean Mom. The blog's author, Katie, is featuring whole wheat pancakes and pecan butter topped with glazed pecans as her entry. Doesn't that sound wonderful? Today though I am only interested in the Vanilla Pecan Butter. To me, a pancake is a pancake.

The recipe is simple enough and it calls for vanilla sugar which I just happen to have from earlier this summer. And I pulverized my pecans using a small mason jar and my blender. It worked slick!

The recipe consists of butter, vanilla sugar, vanilla extract and a little cinnamon. Pretty simple. Upon tasting it, it needed a little more sugar. The recipe calls for 1/2 tablespoon, but in the end, I added 3 tablespoons total otherwise it was too salty tasting. Surprisingly the pecans do not add much flavor, only texture which I did like.

We spread our butter on mini croissants from the grocery store. The croissants were not very good and to be honest, neither was the pecan butter. It has potential, but not Katie's recipe as is. The sugar doesn't become blended enough so it's a bit crunchy. I love the addition of the vanilla sugar flavor but powdered sugar would blend better. Oh well.

I am disappointed with this one. I had such hopes.

Happy pinning!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

auntie anne's pretzels: copycat recipe

Here is the direct link for: Auntie Anne's Pretzels: Copycat Recipe.

Looking around Pinterest, I noticed that there are at least three pins that claim to be copycats of Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Which is truly the right one? I guess we'll have to try them all. But not all today.

This recipe comes from the blog, Yammie's Noshery. The blog's author, Yammie, loves Auntie Anne's pretzels especially ones that are fresh and haven't been sitting around all day! Doesn't everyone?

I am not a huge fan of Auntie Anne's pretzels, but my kids sure are. So this pin is for them. My daughter, Hannah, helped make these. In fact, she did the mixing and kneading all by herself. I helped with the rolling and twisting. On another blog I found this YouTube video that helped us with the rolling and twisting part, see below.

I never could get the twist-thing down, but they were decent-looking enough. Just remember to have fun.

In the end, do they taste like Auntie Anne's? Not really. Our pretzels puffed up a bit while baking and although they were tasty, it was a little doughy for my tastes. But my kid's absolutely loved them!

In my blog surfing for other copycat Auntie Anne's pretzel recipes, I noticed a recipe used one cup of bread flour and 3 cups all-purpose flour, rather than my recipe that was all all-purpose flour. This other blog said that the bread flour adds in chewiness to the pretzels. This I would of like to have in my pretzels, more chewiness.

FYI. Next time try this recipe from: Sprinkles of Parsley.

The red pin award for fun to make. And the kids sure loved them even if I didn't!

P.S.  I realized in the process of making these that I do like soft pretzels but I like mine with an egg yolk coating. You know the shiny-skin ones!

Happy pinning!

Monday, August 27, 2012

brown sugar banana jam

Here is the direct link for: Brown Sugar Banana Jam.

This recipe intrigued me. Banana Jam, huh? I had to try it. It looked easy enough and only called for one very ripe banana. It only makes a small amount, enough to fill a one 4 ounce Mason jar. So not a lot of leftovers if it doesn't agree with us.

This recipe comes from the blog, Neo-Homesteading. The blog's author, Cat, says this about her Banana Jam, "This is a jam and a butter all-in-one. Buttery, creamy, sweet and salty." When I read that all these ideas started swimming in my head on what I could use it on: pancakes, muffins, toast, corn bread, etc. She even suggests using it as am ice cream topping.

Brown Sugar Banana Jam is out of this world! I could eat the whole jar myself. Who needs the toast or pancakes? They are simply a conduit for Banana Jam anyway. Yummy! I would definitely make this again.

FYI. Next time don't add the extra salt if using salted butter. And next time, double the batch so there is some left overs!

The red pin award for unique and delicious new recipe. This recipe would make for great Christmas gifts.

Start saving up those ripe bananas!

Happy pinning!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

home-made snicker bars

Here is the direct link for: Home-Made Snicker Bars.

I have been craving something chocolate lately. One look at this pin and my mouth started to water!

This recipe comes from the blog, How Sweet It Is. Jessica, the blog's author, first heard about this recipe from a friend who in turn originally pinned it from Taste of Home. Jessica's bars are much more appealing-looking. My kids were eager for me to make these.

My daughter and I made these bars together. We each took a 'layer'. There are four layers total: the chocolate bottom, the nougat-peanut center, the caramel, and the chocolate top. Three of the layers required peanut butter. One of Jessica's readers commented on this by saying, "On what planet does a regular Snickers bar have peanut butter?" Jessica replies with, "It doesn’t, but the nougat layer in a Snickers is peanut flavored. It balances nicely with the fluff to make a reasonable home-made facsimile." We followed Jessica's instructions completely.

After the bars hardened in the refrigerator for a good hour or so, we tasted one or two. Peanut butter is all we could taste. Not that we were complaining, mind you. After sitting overnight, the bar's flavors had melded, because they no longer had that strong peanut buttery taste, if at all. Go figure.

Overall we have been enjoying our home-made Snickers bars. Will they replace the real thing? No way. And here's why: For one, it's quicker to go buy one. Secondly, they are too messy to eat and need to be kept cold. You could never bring them to a potluck. They wouldn't hold up. These bars taste best frozen.

And lastly, they are too thin in appearance. If, and I mean if I ever make these again I would make them in a smaller pan than my 9x13-inch. Then they'd be thicker and more bar to your bite.

In the end, no red pin award here. I enjoyed them, but not enough to make again. Better luck next time!

8/29/2012 -- UPDATE!  My kids told me to change this and give this recipe a red pin award. They said the more they eat them, the more they taste like the real thing. We keep ours in the freezer - a frozen Snickers bar.

Happy pinning!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

biotin: a dietary supplement

Here is the direct link for: Cheap Treats: Biotin.

What is Biotin you ask? Biotin is a vitamin that helps your body break down food and use it for energy, and biotin is needed to metabolize protein, fats and carbohydrates. And it can help your hair grow (she says after just getting a haircut in which the stylist was scissor-happy).

The suggestion for taking Biotin supplements to enhance your hair and nails comes from the blog, Elle Sees. The blog's author, Elle, swears by Biotin saying your hair will grow faster, healthier and fuller. She isn't claiming to be a doctor, but her recommendations come from her past experiences from the use of the product. She uses between 1000-5000 mcg of Biotin per day.

I found my bottle of Biotin in the vitamin section of my local grocery store. It wasn't expensive, under $5.00. Each capsule holds 1000 mcg. The bottle recommends 1-5 capsules a day taken with meals. One of Elle's readers writes, "My hair stylist said that a client of hers is taking 3000 mg a day. Her hair is completely different and stronger. I had always just taken 1000 mg a day. I upped it to 3 pills after the recommendation!"

One caution that several of Elle's readers mention is that Biotin encourages hair growth not just on the top of your head. Another reader writes, "I have been taking it for about a year now and yes, my hair is thicker and fuller but expect all your hair to grow. I used to shave once a week and now I shave three times a week and I have to get my eyebrows done at least once a month . . ." I hope I don't grow a sudden mustache!

From the little research I've done there doesn't seem to be any real side effects (except 'extra' hair in the unwanted places). Research says that Biotin supplements are not necessary if you are eating a balanced diet. In the hopes that my hair (on my head) will grow back a little quicker, I started taking Biotin 3000 mcg a day. I thought I would try it for a couple of months for sure. Several readers recommended 1-3 months until they noticed a significant difference in their hair.

The red pin award for the start of a new and 'growing' adventure!

Happy pinning!

Friday, August 24, 2012

seashells with basil, tomatoes and garlic salad

Here is the direct link for: Seashells with Basil, Tomatoes, and Garlic Salad.

This is a salad recipe. It comes from the blog, Big Sis, Lil Sis, two sisters that share their love of cooking. The recipe is adapted from Sunset Magazine, June 2012, issue. I like this adaptation so much more than the original. The stewing of the tomatoes is their idea.

The recipe sings summertime with the tomato, basil and parmesan ingredients. The salad is so much better tasting than the blog's photo portrays. The cherry tomato slices are simmered in a hot olive oil-garlic sauce and then it stews for 30 minutes to meld the flavors. It also has a hint of crushed red pepper to it. A very light and flavorful salad that presents itself well. A great potluck dish to share.

The seashell noodles are always a little difficult to pick up with your fork. Thus eating this salad is a slow, mindful experience. Bow-tie noodles are easier to pick up and still look festive.

They suggest throwing in some halved kalamata olives, which would be excellent. I didn't notice that little detail until just now. Next time, and believe me, there will be a next time.

The red pin award for absolutely delicious! I have found another winner salad here!

Happy pinning!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

frilled cast on for knitting

Here is the direct link for: Frilled Cast On for Knitting.

I learned to crochet recently so I could create a Picot edge on anything if I wanted to. Now with this stitch, the Frilled Cast On,  I can still knit and achieve a very similar look!

This helpful pin comes from the blog, About.Com Knitting. Eileen Casey, the blog's featured writer, says "the Frilled Cast On is extremely simple and gives a pretty, frilled edge that looks like crochet and blocks quite flat on a Stockinette Stitch piece." That's just what I am looking for.

The blog gives a great step by step photo tutorial on how to create this knitted look. Follow the three simple steps until you have the desired number of stitches. The key to remember is you are casting on about 4 times as many stitches in the end so you need to have a v-e-r-y long tail to start with or they suggest using two balls to cast on with.

I tried it, and as you can see, I caught onto it fairly quickly. I found a tapestry needle helped in the 'pulling over' of the stitches on each repeat sequence. The Frilled Cast On creates a pretty sturdy yet delicate edge for that special sleeve, collar or pocket trim in your knitting future.

I want to try felting this edge (done in wool) and see how its shape holds up!

The red pin award. I learned a new stitch today!

Happy pinning!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

DYI microdermabrasion


Here is the link to the pin above: DYI Microdermabrasion.

What is Microdermabrasion? I had to look it up.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say: 
Microdermabrasion is a medical cosmetic technique that uses a mechanical medium for exfoliation to remove the outermost layer of dead skin cells from the epidermis.
There is no blog or website linked to this pin, sorry to say. Only the ingredients and directions. Easy enough. Mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water into a paste and apply to your skin in a circular motion and rinse. That's it. So I tried it.

I mixed 3 tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of water. This amount worked fine with some leftovers if you wanted to do your chest too.

When measuring out the baking soda I noticed on the back of the Arm & Hammer box the exact same directions under their For Pure & Natural Personal Care section: Invigorating Yet Gentle Facial Exfoliant. On their website they also say that "removing dead skin cells will leave your skin soft and smooth . . ."

Does my skin glow like the pinner suggests? It still is me in the mirror, but I would say my skin feels softer. I would be curious to try it at least once a week for a month and see if I notice a larger difference. My skin definitely appears different, but I can't put my finger on it. Tighter pores maybe?

The red pin award for a home-made exfoliant that doesn't cost an arm and a leg!

Here's to the 'new' me!

Happy pinning!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

chocolate magic shell ice cream topping

Here is the direct link for: Chocolate Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping.

Yesterday I made home-made vanilla ice cream, today is home-made chocolate topping, magic shell at that. So far it's turning out to be a great week!

For all those that are not familiar with magic shell, it's a weird ice cream topping that hardens on contact because of the cold. Really, what is it?

This recipe comes from the blog, Alphamom. The blog's author, Cindy, says that July is National Ice Cream Month, declared in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. And every third Sunday of the month is National Ice Cream Day. Makes you wonder about our politicians and the time on their hands, eh?

The recipe is simple enough, only two ingredients. And no, wax is not one of them. Coconut oil and semi-sweet chocolate morsels. If you love coconut you will love this recipe! Cindy, the blog's author, says her husband thinks the home-made magic shell tastes 'just like Dairy Queen' and their dipped cones. But I don't remember DQ's tasting so coconut-ty.

Overall, I would make it again for special occasions, as a special treat. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat. But when used sparingly, after being mixed with chocolate, and finally drizzled over your ice cream, coconut oil is absolutely delightful! Enjoy!

The red pin award for another great home-made alternative to store-bought!

Wouldn't this recipe be utterly delicious using Nestle's Dark Chocolate Morsels? Oh yes!

Happy pinning!

Monday, August 20, 2012

no-churn vanilla ice cream

Here is the direct link for: No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream.

This pin comes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food series. Sarah Carey, a food editor for Everyday Food shows you (video option) how to make vanilla ice cream without an ice cream maker.

I love Sarah Carey's cooking videos! She is so quirky and fun. Sarah makes cooking simple looking and very doable. She gives lots of no-nonsense like tips to improve your skills like this one: Don't measure wet ingredients over the mixing bowl so if your hand is shaky you won't get extras. I had never thought about it like that before.

Her vanilla ice cream recipe calls for 4 ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, vanilla extract and bourbon (an optional item). The alcohol in the bourbon keeps the ice cream soft and prevents against ice crystals forming.

The recipe calls for two tablespoons of bourbon. Several of the comments at the bottom of the post stated they excluded the bourbon because of having young children. Being curious, I wanted to try the bourbon, full strength, to taste its effects on the flavor of the ice cream.

After about six hours of freezer time, my family scooped up the ice cream for a taste. My husband and daughter found it to be a bit strong tasting with the bourbon. My husband absolutely loves ice cream, any flavor, so this surprised me that he didn't care for it. I personally thought it was just fine, very rich and silky. But to please everyone, next time I will add only one tablespoon of bourbon and not the optional two.

Surprisingly, the same ice cream (now only a little bit left) tasted just fine the next day, still soft, no ice crystals and no longer as strong bourbon tasting. The flavor obviously mellows with time.

This is a great vanilla ice cream recipe, a must go-to recipe for entertaining!

The red pin award for a keeper of a recipe!

Now all I need to do is add a little chocolate for a chocolate version.

 Happy pinning!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

crock pot chicken parmesan

Here is the direct link for: Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan.

I needed a meal to take to my sister-in-law's house for dinner. This dish had so much promise: A delicious-looking meal, easy to transport and it cooks while I run errands beforehand!

This recipe comes from the blog, Chef in Training. The actual recipe originally comes from A Year of Slow Cooking. Like making traditional chicken parmesan, you first dip the chicken in egg, coat it in Italian breadcrumbs, then place it in the crock pot. Then layer slices of mozzarella cheese and finish it off by pouring a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over it all. Pretty simple.

What I love most about chicken or eggplant or even veal parmesan is the lightly breaded coating and the melty cheese on top. When cooking the chicken parmesan in the crock pot you lose that breaded-texture as it all begins to blend into the spaghetti sauce.

The end result? We ate it, even Hannah, but we weren't wildly raving. I will stick to my chicken parmesan baked in the oven. Oh well, better luck next time!

Happy pinning!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

DYI antique custom monograms

Here is the direct link for: DYI Antique Custom Monograms.

I needed a quick and easy pin today, running errands and such non-stop. This pin comes from the blog, Wedding Chicks. The site gives you several color options to choose from such as this color, Light Iris. All you do is choose your frame color, the initial color and the letter you want in the center.

The program saves it as a download. Then you can take it into PicMonkey and change the size, if needed.

I love monograms especially on 'thank you' notes and jam labels.

The red pin award for fun and easy!

Every pin doesn't have to be a ton of work you know.

Happy pinning!

Friday, August 17, 2012

nature wine glass charms

Here is the direct link for: Nature Wine Glass Charms.

These wine charms come from Treasures by Tree, an Etsy shop. Theresa, the shop's owner, has several wine charm themes to choose from: quilting, gardening, knitting, seaside, patriotic and more! The charms come six to a box: lady bug, oak leaf, humming bird, flower, butterfly and acorn.

I purchased two sets of her wine charms to give away as gifts, but in the end couldn't part with them. They are whimsical!

Now, all I have to do is invite someone over and serve wine! What are you doing tonight? 

The red pin award for whimsical and useful too!

Happy pinning!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

baked potato grilled cheese

Here is the direct link for: Baked Potato Grilled Cheese.

This recipe comes from the blog, BS' in the Kitchen. The blog's author, Bob, loves grilled cheese sandwich creations. This baked potato version is his own concoction.

I baked my potato slices in the oven for a more fat-free version rather than fry them in oil. I also used turkey bacon. The result? My family was unimpressed. They are quick to give a thumb's up or down now. And this was a thumb's down. Too much work for the results.

No red pin award here. Better luck next time!

Happy pinning!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

waffle knit dishcloth pattern

Here is the direct link for: Waffle Knit Dishcloth Pattern.

This pattern comes from the blog, Homespun Living. Its author, Deb, sells her wares, like these dishcloths, in her Firefly Farm shop. She was kind to share her favorite dishcloth pattern, her own pattern using the raised box stitch. She says, "using the raised box stitch gives the dishcloth a great waffle texture. For anyone interested in making it, I would like to share the pattern." I love the texture of this dishcloth!

The directions are simple and straight forward. I have made one and a half so far. I am using the same yarn I used for the leaf dishcloths back in June of this summer, a cotton worsted yarn I bought at Michael's for dirt cheap (a dishcloth joke).

Deb suggests knitting several of these and including a bottle of Mrs. Meyers dish soap for a useful Christmas gift. In natural colors, they would also make for wonderful face cloths too.

The red pin award for great and simple pattern! Quick and easy gift ideas. And some simple, no-thinking knitting!

Happy pinning!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

seasoned cucumber slices

Here is the direct link for: Seasoned Cucumber Slices.

I love cucumbers sliced and seasoned! Such a quick and easy salad especially when the cucumbers from your garden are coming out your ears.

This pin doesn't come from a blog or website. It is someone's own photo and tagged recipe. Thus when I went to try the recipe there wasn't much information to find, such as helpful tips on the quantity of lemon juice used or chile powder, and so forth.

The result? Not much flavor and not worth sharing, really. But in the spirit of trying something new each day, I tried the recipe using quite a few of my cucumbers. No one liked it, thus I ended up throwing most of the salad away. Oh well! They might have tasted better sprinkled with cumin powder instead. 

Do you have any favorite seasoned cucumber recipes you want to share?

Happy pinning!