Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marshmallow Melties

Hello! Hope you all are having a great week! This weekend is Halloween and I am sure you all are not short on sweets this week, but alas, here is one more for you! Enjoy!

Kate sent this to us and I have to admit I got a good giggle out of it, check it out!

The Original

 
 
These cute treats look fairly easy/self explanatory and a lot of people will already have everything needed for these on hand! Kate found these not quite as easy to recreate, let's see what she had to say...
 
The Pinstrosity


 
 
"I did let them dry on wax paper, as shown in the photograph. The caramel never really set up and was a bit stringy, which I expected because it's caramel. But when I tried to dip it into the chocolate, it seemed to re-melt on contact and the chocolate slid right off. I resorted to pouring chocolate over the tops, just to try to combine the flavors a little. You can see how well that went. When I finally tried to take the marshmallows off the waxed paper, the paper stuck and I had to stuff to the whole thing in my mouth and loosen the paper with my tongue. The worst part is that they didn't taste like much. All those flavors seemed to cancel each other out and all I tasted was sweet. Totally Lame."
 
What do I think happened here?? The caramel and chocolate never set-up, just like she said, and I think that what she was missing here is cold. After she dipped them in the caramel I think I probably would have stuck them in the fridge (or freezer) to help the caramel set up and then when I was ready to dip them in the chocolate they wouldn't turn to mush. Then I would stick them back in the fridge or freezer let them set-up again and enjoy them after an hour or so. With all of that being said, I have never refrigerated marshmallows (I am not much of a marshmallow person...gasp!) so I am not sure if that would mess with their taste/texture, but as far as this pin goes I really think the cold would react well with helping set-up the ingredients. Perhaps Kate's house was hot, or she left them next to a stove or oven that was on, I can't be sure.
Another thought I had was that the caramel was the apple dip kind of caramel, the kind that never does actually set up, this kind of caramel is proverbially viscous. In this case, cold will not in fact cause the caramel to set up. The same goes with chocolate if it is like a chocolate fudge sauce that goes on ice cream, this too will not harden when encountering cold. Just a few thoughts.
 
Anyone have any other tips or tricks for Kate's treat?? Let us know in the comments!
Happy Halloween all!
Stay tuned for a post this weekend for Pumkintober!!!
 
 


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Surprise: No Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Greetings everyone,

Happy Sunday! Oh boy, have I got a blog post for you today. The odds were stacked against me, and at two or three points during this recipe, I thought "This is going to be a genuine Pinstrosity". But, alas, I triumphed-ish.

So I should probably start this post by saying that I  really wanted to make these cookies for Pinstrosity's Pumpkin-tober.



But I ended up forgetting several crucial ingredients when I went to the grocery store (why do I think I can shop successfully when I don't make a list? I totally can't). Naturally, I didn't realize this until 9:00 PM, when I got the fever to bake said cookies.

Then, I thought I'd make some delicious oatmeal cookies. I was sure I had all of the items for those in the pantry already. But, nope, nope I did not. Being unable (and unwilling) to give up cookie making for my Saturday night project, I settled on these "Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies". Yummsies.



And note, when I type "settled", it wasn't like I was upset about those at all. I mean, look at that picture. GET IN MY FACE!

Here's the recipe listed on the original blog:


Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies
1/2 C Butter
2 C Sugar
1/2 C Milk
4 Tbsp Cocoa
1/2 C Peanut Butter
3- 3 1/2 C Quick cooking Oats
2 tsp. Vanilla

Add the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute. Stir in the next 3 ingredients and drop onto wax/foil paper. Let cool until set. 
Now would probably be a good time to disclose that tonight, for no particular reason at all, I did not do a hands-on inventory of the things I needed for this recipe. I was just naturally sure that I had it all. Bad choice. especially considering that I couldn't make the original recipe because items were missing. As a writer, you'd think that I would have caught the ominous foreshadowing of this. No such luck. We shall call the lack of inventory Mistake #1.
Mistake #1A: Not enough butter. Nope. We're at the bottom of the container. Maybe a couple of teaspoons, at most. 


No problem, I figure. I'll just use Butter Flavored Crisco, despite never having used Crisco in this way. What could go wrong? 
I started with the whole "Add the first four ingredients in a saucepan". Mistake #2 (while Mistake #1 - no inventory-  is still in progress): I started cooking BEFORE gathering the ingredients. What the heck was I thinking?! 
Here we go... Milk, sugar, and Crisco
Here, see? The shortening is melting. That's cool.

Is it supposed to be separated like that? Like... not sure how much you can actually tell, but the shortening was just a yellow layer on top of the milk and the sugar. It didn't seem to be blending at all. Very oil/water. Hmm. Troubling... 
Photo in motion...ooooh....ahhh....
But, not nearly as troubling as what I found next (on the Crisco container):

As you can imagine, since this stuff was already heating in the saucepan, this was not an ideal moment to realize this. Even worse, the recipe instructed me to "bring ingredients to a rolling boil". Gulp.
I turned up the heat a little more, and then this started to happen:

I panicked and removed the pan from the burner (on the off chance that this was what Stage 1 of a grease fire looked like). But, the good news was that it started to mix up, kinda...
Pardon the messy stove.
Next item on the recipe? Quick oats. Awesome... I'll just go ahead and add my 3 - 3 1/2 cu-- oh no. Literally, as I am pouring the quick oats into the pan, I realize that there are only two cups left in the container. And, naturally, we only have one container. Mistake #1B.


Oat to  sugary grease ratio was all sorts of off.
At this point, I'm like, 'welp, this is over and done with. May as well figure out how to dump it in the trash...' Until... dun dun da dun!!! (Prince Oatmeal rides in on his valiant steed)
Individual packets of oatmeal that Rob bought at Target, but didn't like. So they've just been sitting in the pantry for a couple of months. Strawberry or not, into the pan the last three packets went.
Ahhh....much better.
It is only at this point during this "baking" session (if you can even call it that), that I realized I never added the cocoa, as I was instructed in Step 1.  Mistake #3. Whoops. I started scrounging around in my pantry only to discover...... no cocoa. 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!?


Mistake #1C. Seriously. Almost lost my mind. But, again, I'd already made it this far, so I couldn't just give up. Right? Right.


Solution?



Indeed. Ovaltine to the rescue. I mean, it's powdery and chocolately, so, really, I felt like I was going in at least kind of the right direction. I added the vanilla for this photo too:


In the interest of full disclosure, this tasted amazing. I gave it a little nibble and was quite impressed. Because, really, I was still amazed that it wasn't on fire.

Carrying on. Last ingredient: peanut butter. 

And this, ladies and gentleman, was the first PLANNED substitution for this recipe. Skippy Dark Chocolate peanut butter was a Nutella competitor that I found at the dollar store awhile back. I quickly decided that there was no competing with Nutella, so about half of this jar has been hanging out in the pantry, waiting for its purpose. And this recipe was just the ticket.


The bad news? My 1/2 cup wouldn't fit into the container. And, I know, I know, I could have spooned it out into the 1/2 cup, but that just seemed like "too much work". I decided to just "eyeball it" because really, who cared at this point? I didn't really. It was tasty, but I was pretty cranky about how all of this was unfolding.


I scooped this into cookie sized balls and waited. After ten minutes, it didn't look like it was any closer to being "set"-- so I opted to put it in the fridge, with the other half in a pie dish.



This may have been a mistake, but as you can imagine, I was pretty much ready to throw the towel in anyway. I fell asleep and ended up leaving these in the fridge overnight. Here's the final product:


Rob quite likes them. Though they're not nearly as nice looking as the original post. They also have little specks in them. Maybe shortening? Who knows.

I actually find these to be waaaaaay too sugary/a weird consistency (almost....grainy?). But, of course, I don't blame that on the original post. I feel my version of this was a recipe unto itself, what with all of the fails. I do want to say this though, think of what a solid recipe this must be if I could replace butter with shortening, forget/replace cocoa with Ovaltine, use plain AND flavored oatmeal, and a different kind of peanut butter and still coming out edible. Hats off to the original post, I say.

Let's review the morals of the baking story:
  1. Do not, unless you are absolutely sure of what you're doing, start baking at 9:00 PM.
  2. Do a complete inventory of the ingredients needed. Seriously.
  3. Do NOT start to bake until inventory is complete (or, what you start working on can be used for something else, I suppose) 
Learn from my mistakes!!

Have any of you tried the original post? What did you think?
Thanks for hanging in there with me. Hopefully, I'll have something else for you soon!

E-hugs and e-kisses,
Rachel

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pancake Art Reality

I love art. I love think-outside-of-the-box art. I'm not very good at making think-outside-of-the-box art, but I do love seeing it. I especially love eating it. Wait, what?

How many of you have seen this video going around on Pinterest and Facebook?



Best pancakes ever! I'm seeing a whole new trend in carnival caricatures, what about you?

So, if I'm understanding the video correctly the principle of the art looks simple. Lay out the areas of the picture pancake you want darkest first, and then build up to the lightest. Seems easy enough in theory, but as you can see below, the application is a little harder to grasp.


Kelleen did say that perhaps their art would have been more artsy had they used a squeeze bottle with a smaller tip so as to be able to get more details. They used a ketchup bottle they had on hand which gave better control than pouring the batter from a measuring cup, but not quite the control they wanted.

Another idea Kelleen sent over with her video was the idea of blending the batter to make sure it is completely smooth. They had issues with chunks clogging the tip of the bottle and the blasting out onto the pan making a mess of their Pancake Louvre Masterpieces.

So, these didn't turn out as epic as the Beatles Pancake Heads, but throw some peanut butter and maple syrup on top and I'm sure they tasted just as good. Mmmm.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Capsule Wardrobe, Kind Of...

Hello! For those of you just tuning in, this is extremely late! I had a midterm last night (my last midterm of my college career!) and I was bushed and my brain was fried. Here I am now, off of work, out of school, and writing a blog for you guys!
Yesterday I saw something on Instagram that caught my eye:
 
This picture is from Mama Mandolin's instagram/blog (which I love by the way) and I was curious! She said she had decided to try the capsule wardrobe project, and that's what drew me in. What on earth is a capsule wardrobe? Of course I turned to my trusty Pinterst and found hoards of pins! Hoards I tell you!
So I went onto this fun website, Un-fancy and read up about it. Basically the jist is that you have 4 separate wardrobes, one for each season. For each season you get 37 items for your wardrobe. These 37 pieces include shoes, pants, tops, sweaters, jackets, dresses etc.
 
Why limit yourself I asked??!! The blog goes on to explain that often times when you have too many choices you don't know what to do or where to go, so you go with your go to jeans and white-t and you're out the door and you still feel guilty for not wearing any of your cute stuff, and you don't like what your wearing. This plan helps eliminate that because you only get so many choices, you have to get creative with your pieces! I was in right then and there! She goes on to explain some more reasons and rules and what not which you can read here, but I was already committed. Let's try this out. If I hate it fine, I don't have to keep going, but maybe it could give me the wardrobe revamp I have been needing. Just thinking about it yesterday and today totally got me excited about my clothes again! So tonight, I made a fall capsule wardrobe!!
I made some adjustments for myself which I will explain and got myself semi-set-up(which I will also explain).
This was the original bloggers fall capsule wardrobe:
 
I felt WAY too restricted with color if I were to go this route. I really like her style, but I need more than oxblood to get my creative color juices flowing. She encourages people to play with the idea and figure out what works for them, so that's what I did!
 
Here is my fall capsule wardrobe journey!!
I decided in my last class today that I wanted to do this, and that I would try to do it with only items I already have seeing as the budget it tight around these parts. The original blogger budgeted herself $1000 to get her fall capsule up to speed. I would love to buy a few new things every season, but that isn't always going to be an option. I thought trying to make do with what I had was kind of fun though, you have to get creative and decide on what you really really love to wear.
(Like my bored at school doodles??)
 
Next I categorized everything to see what I had in mind and then I laid it all out to see if everything meshed well (for mix and match), and make sure I could actually find everything right now lol My room is a mess.
(Bathroom lighting is the best for pictures ;) )
 
Here is everything all laid out! First we have dress/skirts, sweaters/jackets, tops, shoes, and bottoms and my handy list to make sure I got everything I was looking for.
 
 
I tried to do fall-ish colors, mustard ,teal, olive, grey, navy, gold, browns, plums etc. I LOVE color and I love wild and crazy patterns. The original capsule calls for neutral neutral neutral so that everything goes with everything and then you can be crazy with a purse or something. That isn't quite my style, I live for pizazz so I did lots of fun bright colors and prints.
 
Next I hung everything on hangers, and put them in the rearranged closet!
It doesn't look like 40  37 pieces (shh don't tell I just couldn't part with three more), but it is!
 
Here are my special considerations for all this to make it work for me:
-I actually have 40 pieces. I have a few sweaters I wear on the regular and if I didn't wear them in fall they won't get worn and they are great pieces so I went ahead and snuck them in. It's my first time with all this capsule craziness so I will give me a break this time!
-I have 7 different colored undershirts in there too. I am a very modest person when it comes to dress, I prefer to be covered up so an undershirt is mandatory for me almost everyday. I don't wear these shirts just by themselves so I didn't feel like this was cheating.
-I go to lots of church functions and most functions require nice dress, so I didn't include all the skirts and dresses I will wear to those in my capsule. I have a few skirts and dresses in my capsule for work and school, but Sunday dress I am ok with being a little more lax on the capsule count otherwise I would be wearing the same three pieces 1-2 times a week for the next three months. Poop, not happening.
-Underwear, bras, workout clothes, bathing suits, and pajamas are not included in this count. They are not really wardrobe pieces.
-With that being said accessories are also not in the count, so my scarf collection along with my chest of jewelry, headbands and hats and what not are not included here. Thank heavens for that because I  would not be able to whittle down my jewelry list!
-I probably won't box up my out of season clothes( like the original blog) simply because I don't know where I would put them, so they will sit on the other side of the closet beckoning me to summer until I am ready to swap them out. The original blogger swaps clothes when the seasons change and sometimes uses some items for two seasons which I liked a lot.
- I have one pair of shoes missing, they are my late late late anniversary presents that I had yet to decide on ( I was promised the boots of my choice but hadn't made a decision till now, so I get them now! Yay!), they are these babies...I have to share them with you, I'm way to excited to not to...
 
I have never in my LIFE been an Ugg fan ( I always used to say Ugg stood for Uggly, original right??)...but alas I caved and fell in love. These babies will go just to the right of my black vans on the top shelf.
 
And just in case you think I have this whole capsule thing figured out and that I am on top of things I give you this... the rest of my closet right now haha
        
 
 
This was a fun project for me! I will update you all in about a month on how all this is going and if I have any trouble or have figured anything else out. I encourage you all to read the rest of the Un-fancy blog and read up on the capsule wardrobe. I really like this concept and I think it is just the update I need to feel good with my clothes again :) I feel like a new woman already!!
Happy Wednesday all!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Candy Corn Craziness in Cookies

In our house we often mark the arrival of fall with a big bag of candy corn and melocreme pumpkins. We then promptly need to call our dentist. We love candy corn. One year we thought it would be a good idea to put out a candy bowl of candy corn and salted peanuts for anyone who came to our house. We forgot that we live in the middle of nowhere and don't get regular visitors. We also forgot that we love candy corn and can't stay out of it. So after we ate four bags on our own we decided we had to rein ourselves in. But we still love them. So much so that I'm thinking we need to try out these cookies before the candy corn disappears from the store:

The Original Pin
http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/10/candy-corn-and-white-chocolate-softbatch-cookies.html

Those cookies look so good and like a sugar-coma all in one shot. But you only get Halloween once a year, right? Yeah. That's a good excuse. 

Lucky for me I have a guinea pig with these cookies as Abbi sent in her attempt at making these. 

The Pinstrosity

Not quite there. 

Before jumping into this project Abbi read all the directions (hooray!!), but didn't want to wait the 3 hour chill time for the dough, so she opted for her trusty non-chilled chocolate chip cookie dough recipe from her files. "Even though I didn't use her recipe, I still read through the whole thing to be aware of things to troubleshoot. She said to not let the candy corn touch the pan or they will melt, so I put the candy corn on after I put the cookie dough balls on the sheet. However, my effort was in vain because once the cookies rose, the candy corn slid off onto the sheet. The [above] picture is the BETTER of the two sheets. At least there were a few manageable pieces (not full cookies, but pieces) from this tray. The second tray however, not a single crumb could be saved. The ENTIRE tray was covered in melted candy corn."

At first I wondered if it was the non-chilled dough, but in reading through the comments on the original post I found that some had tried this with non-chilled dough and it came out just fine. So I turned back to the comments to see what I could find and I learned a few things. 

Abbi thankfully didn't do this, and I've never tried it, but someone put a layer of wax paper on the cookie sheets to try and make cleanup easier (especially if the candy corns melted all over). Don't bake on waxed paper! The ladies cookies stuck hardcore to the paper. Use parchment paper, not wax paper. 

One thing that Averie, the cookie creator, mentioned a few times in the post and the comments was rolling the cookie dough into balls with the candy corn already mixed in. This helps to hold the candy corn in place, rather than having it slide off the top. She did mention that you have to check the bottom of each ball before placing it on the cookie sheet to make sure the candy corns aren't poking through. What I would do is have a small bowl of cookie dough with no candy corns mixed in set aside so I could quickly and easily grab cornless dough chunks to reinforce the bottoms of the balls to make sure no candy corns were poking out.

I would also definitely do a test cookie before baking up a whole pan of these. If the dough consistency is a little off (which often it varies for those of us who don't bake with a scale), sometimes the cookies can spread a lot more than others. Need help knowing what to do to improve your cookie? Check back to our Cookie Diagnostics post for some great information!
How many of you think you'll give this a try? I think I will once Halloween gets a little closer! Mmmm!



P.S. Did the cookies look devilishly tempting? They should...this is our 666th live post. cue lighting flash and thunderclap. Too bad this didn't happen on Halloween, that would have been fun. 

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