Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cinco de Mayo: Lost Shaker of Salt Margarita Bath Set


I saw this fun idea for making a margarita bath set at GreenbeanCrafterole.  I had some extra soap left over from a project I'm going to share in a few days, and I decided to try this idea out, and add a little slice of lime soap. 
As for the towel (Greenbean had fuzzy green socks)....I folded it at a diagonal. 
Folded in again. 
..and again...
Rolled, and inserted into a glass I snagged at the Dollar Tree. 
As far as the soap goes....I used about two cubes of soap mix, melted it down as the package instructed, added a scent I had on hand, and one drop of green, and then I poured it into the bottom of a plastic cup.  It dried without about 20 minutes.  (More on this process in a few days).  I then cut the cup away. 
I filed off the cups recycling logo, and printed of a 'lime slice' about the size of my soap. 
I placed the lime slice picture I printed from online over the soap, and wrapped in syran wrap. 
I added a mix of baking soda, epsom salt, and a drop of sent to the salt shaker to sprinkle in a bath and create a 'soft' water, and thus, soft skin. 
Here she is...a soft towel, fun soap, and a little salt for that bath. 

Cinco de Mayo: Personalized Name Tortillas

One of my favorite low(er) fat desserts is baking up flour tortillas, spraying them with butter spray, and sprinkling them down cinnamon sugar.  I decided to have osme fun, and cut out names using cookie cutters. 
 Punch
Spray, and shake down with cinnamon sugar. 
Back at 350 until golden brown (about 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven).  I'm going to make some of these and punch out Cinco De Mayo and bag them up with cute ribbons.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cinco de Mayo: Churro Cupcakes

I was trying to decide what cupcake to make in honor of Cinco de Mayo...and I decide a churro cupcake sounded delicious.  I googled it, and figured I could find a recipe, and I did....here.  These are certainly a conversation piece. 
Churro Cupcake Recipe
*Makes 22
Ingredients for the Cupcake: 
3 c. cake flour (sifted and then measured), 2 1/2 t. baking powder, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. salt, 11 T unsalted butter, 1 /2 c. packed brown sugar, 2 eggs (room temp), 2 t. vanilla, 1 1/4 c. milk (room temp)
Instructions: 
Mix all ingredients, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes, and then fill. 
*You can also use a yellow cake mix, make as usual, and add cinnamon. 
Dulce de Leche Filling for Cupcakes:
I used my 'caramel making instructions here' from a few years back.  It's sooooo easy, and delicious! 
I carved out a funnel, and filled with caramel.
Swiss Meringue Icing Recipe: 
Ingredients: 
5 large egg whites, 1 c. granulated sugar, pinch of salt, 4 sticks of unsalted butter, 3 t. vanilla. 
Instructions:
1.  Fill glass bowl with whites, sugar, salt.  Set over simmering water (don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl or the eggs wll cook).  Whisk until sugar dissolves, and thermometer reads 160 degrees. 
2.  Remove bowl from heat, and beat with mixer with whisk attachment until luy and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch. 
3.  Switch to paddle and mix at medium.  Add butter 2 T. at a time.  mix well, add vanilla and beat on high until smooth. 
I used this tip to 'ruffle on some icing.' 
And then I sprinkled the whole thing with cinnamon/sugar mix. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cinco de Mayo: Churros

Pardon my Cinnamon Dust, the pictures, and the 'pastry chef' didn't do this dessert justice.  I found this GREAT recipe for churros here.  I tried to fry these up in a small pan, which made squeezing the pastry through the piping bag a little difficult, and my churros were less than straight, but they sure were yummy.  Note to self:  Use the extra oil, and do this in a wider skillet next time around....and there WILL be a next time.  I may have been a LITTLE overzealous in my sugar/cinnamon dusting, but I WILL do that again as well. 
Ingredients:  vegetable oil (enough to fill a skillet), 1 c. water, 1/2 c. butter, 1 c. flour, 3 eggs, 1/4 t. salt, 1/4 c. sugar, 1/4 t. cinnamon. 
Instructions:  Heat water, butter, and salt in a pan, bring to a boil.  Add flour, and stir continuously until a ball of dough forms.  Remove from heat, and add 3 (beaten) eggs.  Place in pastry bag. With a large tip.   

Heat your oil (I had my stove set to medium), and squeeze strips into the pan.  Fry for about two minutes. Flip.  Fry another two minutes.  Drain and toss in cinnamon sugar mix.  This made about 24 churros.  Next time I'm going to make churro 'bites' b/c making a churro 4 inches didn't go well with my current piping skills....or lack there of, but the taste it out of this world! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cinco de Mayo: Making a Pinata

I've made many a pinata in my day.  I've had my students make quite a few as well for one reason or another.  This year I have an accelerated group of students, and they are going to write an example how to for a younger group of kiddos (long story), and so...in order to write a how to, we decided to 'do' a how to project.  Enter...lessons in making a pinata part #324,356.  I let the gals choose the design...a bee.  Works for me. 
 I blew up a balloon, and we attached the stinger.  If you were making an animal (we made a bear one year-school mascot, and a tooth for a Dentist graduation....we added for tubes for the roots of the tube, and a nose and legs for the bear).  I just used sturdy poster board to make these parts, and tape them on with masking tape.  Eventually the paper mache layers will harden them up enough to hold their shape. 
 The students broke down a bunch of newspaper. 
 Next, the dragged it through a mix of elmers glue and water (about 1 part glue to 10 parts water).  And they started building layers. 
 We built up about ten layers until it was hard enough to hold it's shape.  By about layer 5, I tied a string around the middle, and they paper mached over this, leaving the dangling end exposed.  I poked a pin in to pop the balloon after layer ten. 
We covered the tale and face with a layer of tissue and light layer of glue, and then they folded over strips of tissue, and cut down the middle (not all the way through) make a ruffle. 
They build layers of ruffles from the tale to the head. 
We added the eyes and wings later, and eventually candy will be added, but first, they owe me a paper, I'm sure their how to will be much better than mine, but that's pinata making 101....just one of 101 different ways to make a pinata!  I love customizing these for parties. 

Linking To:  Under $100

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cinco De Mayo: Easy Empanadas

I'm a member of the Empanada Fan Club.  In particular, Empanadas from On the Border.  Once upon a time, a parent brought my teaching team some homemade empanadas.  She definitely ranks amongst my favorite parents of all times, my affection can be bought.  On the Border fries their Empanadas, so....I'm sure if I had tossed these in the fryer they'd be even better, but these were good, and REALLY easy to make, considering the labor intensiveness of most empanadas I ran across in my search for a good recipe.  This is a combination of a bunch of recipes. 
Ingredients:  Med Onion, 1 Clove of Garlic, 1 Lb of Ground Beef, Taco Seasoning Package, Water (amount listed on the back of the package), 1 14 oz can of corn-drained, 1/2 c. cheese, 3 cans of buttermilk biscuits, queso
Instructions: 
Basically, I cooked a medium onion, and a clove of garlic in 2 T. of butter, once they were soft, I added a pound of ground beef, cooked until browned, drained, and added a taco seasoning package, and the water it called for on the back of the package.  I added a drained can of corn.  I might toss in a tomato (salsa?) or some additional seasoning next time, for fun. 
A lot of recipes have homemade dough, but I ran across this idea that was just too easy to reject.  I flattened out some buttermilk biscuits, and added a little filling. 
Fold over and crimp down (press firmly or it will seap out). 
This easily makes 30, which gets a little boring, I'm going to try freezing some next time, and maybe popping some directly from the freezer into frying oil. 
I baked at 375 for 10 minutes (until brown).  Then I added some cheese.  If I believed in sharing, I would have left this on the side for dipping.  I'm going to explore the concept of 'sharing' in my 40's. 
T

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cinco de Mayo: Taco Soup

The best thing about the crockpot and May is that it won't heat up your house.  Sure, soup seems like a winter food, but I think it's fair to say-taco soup is a year 'round dish.  When spring comes, it's patio time at all the Mexican restaurants in my hometown, so even though it's hearty, Mexican=May and everything after for me. 
This is a Taco Soup recipe I got from Laine, and I really liked it.  I made one change (I substituded a can of pinto beans for a can of corn), but otherwise, it was true to form, and truly yummy. 
Taco Soup Recipe
1.  Combine 1 lb of hamburger meat, and 1 chopped onion in a skillet.  Brown, drain, and then add 1 package of taco seasoning. 
I did not add the water the package usually calls for.  I just mixed it, and added it too...
2.  1 can of pinto beans, 1 can of corn, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 can of stewed tomatoes (chopped), 1 can of rotel, 1 pkg of ranch dressing packaged mix, 1 can of chopped green chilies, 1 c. medium picante sauce.  Do not drain any of the juices, just add those right along with all the fixings...this makes is soup. 
3.  You can cook these together for 45 minutes on high, or turn the crockpot on low for a few hours.  I actually tossed the crockpot in the fridge at this point, and then put it out the next morning on low, so it was ready to go when I got home from work.  Anything with spices is always better day 2...or 3....or that's what I tell myself, and I tend to believe what I tell myself. 
4.  Serve with cornbread, OR if you are really feeling wild, toss this over fritoes, and top with cheese and sour cream.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Week of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo in Texas is a big deal.  Twist our arms, we'll celebrate with our Sister to the South.  Pretty much any reason to eat Tex Mex goes to the top of the radar.   On the 5th of the May, it's usually were you find me.  Really...on the 4th of May you'll find me there...and the 3rd...and the 2nd.  (And this from one of the few people in Texas who won't say it's their favorite 'kind' of food).   Here's the trick to good Mexican food....I've learned in my travels...never...never...never eat Mexican food away from a border state.  I was waiting for my friend to get off work when I went to visit her in Kansas...the other gals and I decided to grab some Mexican food for dinner....they brought out the traditional meal starter-chips and dip...except...the dip came in a ketchup squeeze bottle.  We tossed a tip on the table and high tailed it out of there.  I know a bad idea when I meet it...in a squirt bottle.  I'm sure every location has it's dish...and feels the same. I love eating local and figuring out how :insert local food here: is supposed to taste:.  I'd want to eat local if I visited :your: state...and if :you: came here, I'd insist you try the Mexican.    So, from a native Texan, until you come for a visit, here are some recipes and projects.  All the links, inspiration etc are attached to each link when you open them. 
1.  Margarita Cupcakes (one of my very favorite cupcake recipes, click on the words for the complete recipe and how to)


2.  Crockpot Tamales (sooooo good)

3.  Tissue Flowers

4.  Homemade Salsa
5.  Taco Soup
6.  Easy Empanadas
7.  Churros
8.  Churro Cupcakes

9.  Personalized Tortillas

10.  Margaritta Bath Set

11.  How to Make a Pinata
Linking To:  Blackberry Vine  Today's Creative Blog Craft O Maniac Skip the Housework Cherished Bliss Messy Missy Blue Cricket Design Tip Junkie Trendy Treehouse Fireflies and Jellybeans HOH Creative Juice Gluesticks Crafty Soiree Night Owl Crafting Fun to Craft Fingerprints on the Fridge Sugar Bananas Tatortots and Jello Funky Junk WGW, Be Different...Act Normal A Vision to Remember Nifty Thrifty Things Craft Envy Sundae Scoop Under the Table Lollyjane

Homemade Chocolate Bunny

 I saw this mold on Amazon while I was searching for another mold (I'll blog about later), and I decided it would be my Easter treat for my family this year.  Sure, you can buy bunnies for a dollar at the grocery store, but how much potential a do-it-yourself chocolate bunny has, and I'll be exploring more of those ideas next year! 
In the meantime, one bag of chocolate chips made 2+ bunnies.  I made mine solid chocolate.  I melted (45 seconds in the microwave, stir, and then 20 second intervals between stiring until it's smooth). 
 I filled both sides with chocolate. 
 I used a toothpick to press the chocolate down into the small crevices, like the nose, and paws, and then I pressed both sides together. 
 I shook it around, and tapped it to make sure the two sides became friends. 
I stuck it in the freezer for about thirty seconds, popped it out, shaved off the small pieces of chocolate on the edges with a butter knife.  Rinse.  Repeat.  And be-ribbon.

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
Despite the fuzz, and the frenzy I face in this world, how fortunate and good life is knowing how the story ends. 
Happy Easter!