Monday, November 24, 2014

Pie so cool, you don't even know how cool it is

Thanksgiving is nigh.  In fact, I told my kids what we were going to be doing on Thanksgiving Eve, and they informed me that there's no such thing as Thanksgiving Eve.  I guess they know better than I do.  FYI, on the eve before we give thanks, my young and I will be making pecan pie, and so should you.

amazing pecan pie
This is my slice of pie du jour.  The gourd pie may get all the glory, but this is the unsung hero, if you ask me.  Made correctly, pecan pie is a pleasantly sweet, caramelized fusion of velvety custard and lightly toasted pecans.  Made incorrectly, pecan pie can be a gelatinous, overly sweet mess.  Let's do it right, shall we?

best pecan pie
There are a couple things you need to know before you make pecan pie.

not gelatinous pecan pie
-Watch for over-browning.   If you are moving past golden brown and delicious, but your pie is still too jiggly in the center, throw on a piece of foil to keep it from browning further. Once the pie filling is no longer liquid, and the crust is nicely brown, throw on the foil.  I usually do this with about 25 to 30 minutes left of cooking time.

-Take the pie out of the oven before it is completely firm.  You want the tiniest bit of give in the middle, but no wiggle on the sides.  Got it.  Because it's all about the bass, 'bout the bass no treble...Darn, catchy song.

-Do not pre-toast your pecans.  I have made many pecan pies in my time and have tried a lot of different methods.  If you toast them and then bake them in the pie, in my opinion, you end up with dry nuts.  Ew.

delicious pecan pie
The custard is creamy and velvety.  Not gelatinous.

Pecan Pie
1- 9" pie crust, unbaked (I use store bought.  Shhhhh don't tell)
6 Tbl. Butter
1 Cup corn syrup (I use light because it's what I have on hand and it tastes great, so why mess with anything else?)
3/4 C. Sugar
3 eggs, whisked
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 Cups, chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 F. Place a cookie sheet in to get hot.  You are going to put the pie on the cookie sheet as it cooks just in case any filling bubbles over.  You don't want that in the bottom of your oven.

Put your pecans in the uncooked pie crust.

In saucepan heat butter, corn syrup and sugar over medium-low until the butter is melted

In another bowl, combine your whisked eggs, vanilla and Kosher Salt.  Here's the slightly tricky part.  You are going to add your melted butter mixture to your egg mixture, but you do not want to cook your eggs, so make sure the melted butter isn't at all hot when you're pouring it into the eggs, whisk constantly.

Pour your filling over the pecans in the pie crust.

Bake for between 60 to 80 minutes (I know that's a big time difference, you just have to watch your pie carefully.  I cooked mine for about 67 and it was pretty perfect), in the center of the oven until (like I said above), the pie is nicely golden and just a bit soft in the middle.  Let it cool completely (I am cooking it the night before which is perfect if you don't have a lot of time on the day of the feast).  Probably better would be to cook it same day, just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to bake it and let it cool for at least 2 hours before eating.

homemade pecan pie
Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and you will be the hero of the day.  The pie is quite sweet, so take it easy when you're adding the sugar to your homemade whipped cream. 

Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Because it's cold outside...Pantry Hot Chocolate

hot chocolate condensed milk
I frequently run out of prepared hot chocolate mix.  This is primarily because my children and their friends love hot chocolate.  After an afternoon of running and playing in the snow, there's nothing better than coming in to a warm mug of cocoa.  And of course, my kids usually have the whole neighborhood with them, everyone needing a mug of cocoa, so I have to be on the lookout for how to make it from scratch just in case the worst should occur.  No hot chocolate?  NOOOOOO!  Luckily I always have the following ingredients in my pantry for just such an emergency.

 Everybody line up for the good stuff.

homemade hot chocolate condensed

 Homemade Hot Chocolate
4 Cups Water
3 1/2 Cups Milk
1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa
1-14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
Flavored syrup of your choice, to taste (I used 2 Tbl. coconut syrup and it was sooo good)

Combine all ingredients in heavy bottom pan.
Cook over medium heat until everything has dissolved, stirring constantly.
Bring up to heat; but be careful as it gets very hot very fast and you don't want to burn little mouths.
***Make sure to scrape the bottom very carefully as cocoa can get stuck in the edges of the pan and may burn.
Serve with marshmallows.

Now time to wash all the mugs.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cold Preparedness Kit

I'm not talking about the Polar Vortex, either.  I'm talking about the congested, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, aching head, kind of cold.  Because I've got one.  Of course.  I will blame it on the polar vortex, though.  Nothing like a change in seasons to bring on a cold, and our temps have dropped from a gorgeous autumn, mid-60's, blue skies, falling leaves to...I think we're going to peak in the high 20's today, and where the heck is your winter coat from last year?  Anybody seen her gloves? And, Where'd my ice scraper end up last Spring?

This is what I need when I have a cold...

Lots of soft Kleenex, the kind that has lotion in it because I've got one sore nose and have used about a million of them since morning.  Clementines.  Orange Juice.  Lemons and Tea (I particularly like this mojito mint tea from Stash).  Throw in a nice, mucus-reducing decongestant, my bed and a good book, and I can almost be content.  Except for one more thing.

I need a warm, broth-y soup that I didn't have to cook for lunch.  As I was perusing the soup aisle looking for anything that sounded good and was broth-based and marginally good for me, I came across the best instant soup I've ever had.  Forget those packages of ramen, this is what you want.  It cost $3.50 which I feel is plenty for soup, but after I ate it, I felt it was worth it.

Annie Chun's Vietnamese Pho
The brand is Annie Chun's and I chose the pho because I enjoy a good bowl of Vietnamese Noodle Soup (minus the intestines) and I wanted the soothing warmth that only hot broth can provide when you're head feels like it's stuffed with cotton fluff.  I was very pleased.  I have nothing to do with Annie Chun's, just that I want to share when I find something good.  I plan to eat this every day until I feel better.

Course, I wasn't planning on falling in love with an instant noodle soup, so I didn't take any decent before pictures, but this soup comes in a bowl with a packet of soup base and dehydrated toppings, like green onions and bok choy and the noodles packaged separately.  It's organic, has no MSG and no preservatives. It was quick and easy to make and the best part is (apart from the tastiness,) as far as I can tell it's actually good for you. 

Annie Chun Pho
I doctored mine up just a touch with some rooster sauce (Sriracha) and a squirt of lime juice.

So, if you have the same cold I am suffering from, take a cue from me and get some instant pho, tissues, orange juice, get the idea, and you'll be glad you did. 

Thanks for reading.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Awwoooo, werewolves of...Salt Lake?

I think I officially have a tween now.  Oh, heaven help me.  My Oldest is turning nine which is a hop skip and a jump away from the days when I am despised and scorned by my own flesh and blood.  Luckily we're still in the days where I am loved and for the most part listened to.  If I think back to when I was a teenager....nope, don't even want to fathom it.  My girls are going to be soooo much better than I was....echo....echo....echo....

I am also still in the days when my children ask me to make them things for their birthdays.  Love it.  Can I always make my babies crocheted dollies and have them like them?  I suppose this day may come to an end and I will have to make amigurumies for complete strangers and hand them out on the street, and like it.

My Oldest asked me for a wolf, this year.  A wolf, right, I can totally come up with a great wolf pattern all on my own.  I mean, I did whip up a African Guinea Fowl for her presentation on animals who live camouflaged. But, turns out, nope.  I couldn't.  Luckily I found The Craftery Cattery, and she has a free wolf pattern that is righteous!  When was the last time you used the word righteous in this context?  I'm bringing it back.

Her pattern is well written, easy to read and results in the cutest little ankle biter.

Maybe my favorite part of this ami, is his tail.  Do you see how it curves!  Cleverness.

And its adorably long snout.  My, Grandmother, what a big nose you have.

A couple, in progress shots.

This was a very quick to make and I know my daughter will love it.  If you have any experience with crochet, making amis is fun and easy, all you need is some yarn, fluff and eyeballs and you are on your way. 

Thanks for reading!


Other amis I've made
Girl TMNT ami Girl Ninja Turtle Amigurumi

Lizacorn, yeah, you heard me
 Mister's Mini Me

The day my daughter crocheted herself a rattail

April, inspired by TMNT

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Love her...

My daughters are swimmers.  This is a good thing.  They enjoy it, have fun and are pretty darn good at it.  I really can't say anything bad about this being their activity of choice, except....the chlorine.  It wreaks havoc on their skin and hair.

I am still looking for the perfect solution to keeping their hair from drying out, but I have their skin under control thanks to one pretty amazing lady, Karen from The Feral Turtle.  She's what I aspire to be.  I would call her a Wizard of All Natural, do it your way and kicking ass and taking names.  Is that something?  It is now!

She knew I was having a hard time with the girls' skin and after I had....cough, cough, attempted to make my own all natural moisturizer and failed with astounding awesomeness, she quickly sent me a care package filled to the brim with everything I needed, and more.

hemp oil lotion
For their skin, she sent us hemp oil lotion.  You cannot even fathom how thick and creamy and wonderful it is.  Trust me, I am a skeptic when it comes to home-made soaps and lotions, I mean, how can it possibly be better than what you can buy at the stores, right?  No, this is better.  You put this lotion on and it sinks into your skin leaving it moisturized and so healthy and not greasy!!
My girls skin is so soft and remember, I've got a couple red heads with the skin that comes with, can you say sensitive?  This lotion has been a miracle and has not irritated them one bit.

Karen also included this foot lotion, and I don't know how she knew, but both my girls are obsessed with having smooth feet.  They enjoy rolling it up and putting it on each night before bed. Karen's products are so professionally made and packaged, everything was shrink wrapped and did I mention the foot lotion is in a roll-up container?  I didn't even know you could buy those!!!

She even included something for me (shhh, I'm not going to admit to sneaking my daughter's lotion every once in a while), it's solid bubble bath.  This was so fun, it pretty much looks like a delicious treat and smells so good, but the best part, after I had my bath using this, my skin felt softer than it has in a long time!

This lady makes her own soaps, wines and builds anything and everything she wants by herself!   I mean, if I want something made I have to ask the husband because I'm sure I'd do some serious damage to myself and my surroundings.

Alright, alright, enough gushing on and on about how cool Karen is.  But trust me, maybe give her an email and see if she'll sell you some of her amazing products.  But then again, maybe don't because I want to keep her all to myself.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 3, 2014

The Yummiest, No-Fail Corn Bread for a crowd

My Youngest asked me if I will make her corn bread instead of cake for her birthday, next year.  That's how good, and how much she likes this corn bread recipe.  It's super low-fuss and I have modified it from the recipe on the Quaker cornmeal package, just a touch.

I like to make a heaping amount of corn bread and use a 13 X 9 inch pan.  For the obvious reason of my ravenous corn bread eating young and husband.  I have been known, on days when we are having left-over soup and have run out of corn bread, to whip up a second batch because it is loved that much in my household. 

Easy corn bread
So light and moist (dry corn bread=ew) and it works out EVERY TIME.  No fuss, no fancy stuff, just good, simple corn bread.

Corn Bread
3 1/2 C. Flour
1 1/2 C. Corn Meal
1/2 C. Sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
2 C. 2% Milk
1/2 C. Canola Oil
2 eggs, whisked

Heat oven to 375 F.
Using butter, grease a 13 x 9 inch glass casserole dish.
Combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
Combine milk, oil and beaten eggs together and add to dry ingredients.  Mix until the wet and dry ingredients just come together.
Pour batter into greased dish.
Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until the top is lightly gbd (that's golden brown and delicious) and a wooden skewer, when inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Serve while warm with a generous slathering of creamy butter and sweet honey.

Serving suggestions that go perfectly with corn bread:

easy chili
Easy Chilli

2014 Halloween Showcase

owl face paint
We don't do masks, we do face painting here.  My Oldest was Hermione/an animal witch, so she got a cute little owl on her forehead.  She actually gave me free-reign to paint whatever I wanted, as long as it was an animal. 

snow witch face paint
My baby was a snow witch.  I think this is partly because she wanted to be Elsa and a witch and so we met in the middle.

My little witchlings trying to keep their hats on in the wind. 

Thanks for reading!!

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