Sunday, September 9, 2012

Long time Coming...Fall Cooking

It's been nearly a year since I've updated this blog, but I've been really busy with my photography business and other life happenings that sadly, this little project of mine has been neglected.

Today though I was inspired. The first hints of fall are peeking through and I couldn't help but spend all day cooking and baking some of my favorite fall foods. The majority of these ideas I had gathered from Pinterest but did some tweaking to a few of them. So, without further adieu, here's what I concocted today. All the recipes will be included in this post if you are interested in making them yourself!

Salted Caramel Shortbread
Ingredients for the Shortbread:
10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1-2/3 cups flour

Ingredients for the Caramel:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.) Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and leave excess hanging over the edges for easy removal.
2.) In a bowl mix sugar, salt, and butter with a fork or pastry cutter. Add the egg yolk and continue mixing.
3.) Add in the flour and combine the dough with hands until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Transfer the dough into the pan and press it into an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
4.) For the caramel, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan except the vanilla extract and bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramel reaches "soft ball stage" (basically if you are mixing it with a spoon you'll see the caramel start to harden and drizzle off the spoon when ready.)
5.) Remove from heat and add in vanilla extract. Then pour the caramel mixture evenly over the shortbread. Chill in the fridge for 3 hours. Sprinkle sea salt on top when ready to serve.

*I only chilled it for about 2 and it was perfectly fine. My caramel hardened to the consistency of a heath bar so it was hard to cut into bars once ready. I just took a knife to the shortbread and broke off individual pieces. Not the prettiest presentation, but absolutely delicious!

Homemade Apple Sauce

This recipe I just sort of improvised. Many of the recipes online were calling for all this fancy equipment but I didn't think apple sauce was that complicated. So I cut, cored and peeled 6 granny smith apples and put them in a large pot. I then added 3/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, the zest of a lemon, the juice of a lemon, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. I brought all of the ingredients to a boil and once the apples had softened, I mashed them down, reduced the heat and let it sit for about 20 minutes on low heat. Once the apple sauce cooled, I stored it in one of my mason jars for safe keeping. My roommate had a taste and said that it was fantastic, so that's encouraging!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

1 cup of canned pumpkin
1 box of Yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup of oil 
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 T. of Pumpkin Pie Spice*
Cream cheese frosting

*I didn't have pumpkin pie spice available so I just eyeballed it and added dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to the mix.

Mix Pumpkin, cake mix, water, eggs, oil, water and spices into a large bowl. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds and then on medium speed for 1 minute. Add cupcake mix to lined cupcake tin and bake in the oven at 350 for 19-24 minutes.

For the frosting I simply blended in some cinnamon to the cream cheese frosting and spread it on the cupcakes once they were cool.

These were SO easy to make and such a hit tonight at dinner.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb of velveeta cheese
1 Cup of cooked shredded chicken
1 jar of Black bean corn salsa
1 Cup of black beans
1 cup of chicken broth

Easiest soup ever. Mix all the ingredients but the velveeta in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat and add cubed velveeta and blend until cheese is melted.

I added some diced avocado and crushed tortilla chips on top and whipped up a quick batch of corn bread to go along side the soup. This is one of my favorite fall meals to make and it's great for portioning out and freezing for meal planning!

Happy Fall and Happy Eating!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Color Me Creative

I love to color. Yes, I realize that I'm 25, but I find it to be quite stress relieving thank you very much. When I saw this next project on Pinterest I knew I had to do it. The Crayons were used to color something, but in a more non-traditional way. I'm pretty sure this has become somewhat of a fad among call me a hipster if you like, but now I have a really awesome piece of art for supah cheap. Like 20 bucks supah cheap.

Here's the original idea:

And here's how I went about it:
For your supplies you'll need...
A hot glue gun.
A canvas.
Crayola Crayons.
A blow dryer.
Black paint/paintbrush.

First, I painted my canvas black. You can leave yours white, but I wanted something a little different.
Then organize your colors from the crayon box. I left out browns, tans, and grays.
Then organize your colors however you want.I did your traditional ROY G BIV but I didn't take the time to organize them perfectly. 
Take your hot glue gun and glue the crayons in a line on your canvas.
When you melt the crayons with the blow dryer, make sure you have a drop cloth or some trash bags on the floor because the crayons will splatter. Use the blow dryer at different angles to achieve different splatter effects.
And here's the final project. I love it. I want to make various ones with different color schemes and give them as gifts. 

Easy peasy. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Paper Flowers, Paper Lanterns and Paper Wall Art

This week, it's all about paper. Scrapbook paper, tissue paper, and paper flowers. I've been wanting to make our apartment feel more like a home so what better than to use ideas from Pinterest to start decorating the apartment. I think everything was meant to be because when I went to get the supplies from Hobby Lobby, nearly everything was on sale this week. Perfect! Here are the original pins and after I'll go through the supplies, how I made them, the cost for each project, and how the final outcome was for me.

Project #1. Shelving Board and Scrapbook Paper turned into Wall Art.

12x12 Shelving board or Particle Board from Home Depot or Lowes.  They'll cut it for you!
Spray Adhesive
12x12 Sheets of Scrapbooking Paper

Total Cost: Under $20.

Spray your 12x12 boards with some acid free spray adhesive. Make sure you stand back a few feet and spray in an open area. Carefully place your pieces of paper right on top of the board and line it up evenly. Let the adhesive dry and you've got 12 really awesome wall hangings. The great thing is that if you buy a nice color palette you can mix them around however you like. To hang mine I took some command strips and simply hung them up according to the directions on the command strips.

My finished product:

Project #2. Repurposed Paper Lanterns.

Set of 3 Paper Lanterns from Hobby Lobby
Gift Wrap Tissue Paper
Elmer's Craft Glue

Make a template for a circle and trace onto your tissue paper. Cut out plenty of circles to cover your lanterns. Start at the top of the lantern and glue the circles around the lantern and as you go down just stagger the circles so they look like fish scales. Hang accordingly. :) There are directions that come with the lanterns if you want to add lighting components to them, which I plan on doing eventually, but right now they make for great art hanging from the ceiling.

Total Cost: $12

My finished product:

Project #3. Paper Flower Centerpieces (This one was a combination of two ideas on Pinterest)

Empty Soda Bottles or Beer Bottles
White Matte Spray Paint
Twigs or Sticks
Scrapbook Paper

Clean the labels off of the soda or beer bottles by soaking the bottles in hot water. Dry off and then spray paint with the white spray paint (or whatever color you choose). To make the paper flowers draw a spiral on a 4x4 piece of paper and cut the spiral out along the lines that you drew. Start to coil up the paper until you get to the very end. At the end glue the center of the coil to the bottom end of the paper and the flower should stay together. I then hot glued the paper flowers to the twigs and arranged them in the bottles. So easy and so beautiful! These would make for great centerpieces at a wedding for real cheap.
Total Cost: Under $10.

My final product:

Here's how the dining room looks now, so pretty:

So I was able to revamp the two rooms for around $40. So I'd say my first Pinterest Craft weekend was very successful. This week I'll tackle Mason Jars, Lightbulb Gardens and Shoebox Lid artwork! Happy Pinning!