Thursday, January 27, 2011

Win Some, Lose Some

 I love experimenting with recipes.  I am very rarely turned off from a recipe just because I don't have the correct ingredients, or if the directions aren't real clear.  Sometimes things work out wonderfully, other times they don't.  (My poor family.)  I thought I'd share a few of my recent experiments.

Marshmellows.  I have been wanting to make a decent batch of homemade marshmellows for forever.  I tried to make some several months ago. But they just didn't turn out great.  They smelled funny.  They didn't taste quite right.  I did use a spray olive oil to grease the pans - I thought that had something to do with it.  I also wanted to try to avoid using corn syrup, so I made my own sugar syrup - that may have contributed.  I also made a batch with the corn syrup, but decided to make those ones chocolate - they turned out a little better.  Also made a batch with honey - WAY too sickening sweet.  I was also about 8 weeks pregnant at the time, and in the throes of nausea, so I thought maybe that was why the smells weren't appealing to me.  So I abandoned the quest for marshmellows.  Until a week or so ago.  Most of the recipes said you should you a stand mixer, and I didn't have one of those the first time around. I still had some unflavored gelatin, and the other correct ingredients.  So I started preparing the recipe.  I had mixed the gelatin with some water.  And was happily boiling the sugary ingredients to the correct temperature, when I got a whiff of the gelatin.  Oh my.  It was like I was back in the country house we had that was also home to a mouse or two - ones that liked to visit the kitchen - and play until the stove burners - and so when you turned the oven on.... well you get the picture. The smell turns my stomach. (No pregnancy required.)  YES - this is what the GELATIN smelled like.  I have no idea if this is normal.  So I just tossed it all.  The bag of gelatin and the gelatin I had mixed with the water.

But I still had the sugars boiling... so I decided to try and use my flavored gelatin - because I never use it anyways - and I really didn't have anything to lose.  It was Blackberry flavored.  I have no idea how much I used, but I poured in enough so that it looked to be about the same consistency - then made it as the recipe suggested.

The result was interesting.  They didn't get near as fluffy as they should have.  Oh my though, they were good. But super sweet.  I'm assuming you don't see recipes that call for the flavored gelatin, since I would assume there is a ton of sugar in there already.  So it was definitely a sugar overload.  And they turned the most wonderful shade of pink. I ended up eating about a fourth of them, and then throwing the rest away - because I knew that I would be the only one eating them... and I really don't need to be sugaring up myself (or baby) that much.  So I would call this one a loss, with a little win in there.  I will try again with some more gelatin someday.

Lemon bars.  These weren't so much a result of experimentation, but me following vague directions (wrongly).  I had extra lemons after making the lemonade so I decided to make some lemon bars.  I also had some fresh blueberries, so I thought I would add some to half the pan for fun.  The recipe said to put the crust "in a pan"  So as I am making the crust I tell myself that it looks like the correct amount for an 8x8.  I forgot that I am really not good at guessing things like that.  So after pouring the lemon filling over the crust I realize that it is entirely too thick and I really should have used a 9x13.  Oh well, I thought, it will just be thick.  So I baked it, and it took about twice as long - and still wasn't completely done, but I took it out.  Again, it tasted good - it was just really gooey and really thick.  So a sort of win.  And adding the blueberries was great - that part was a definite win.  But then came the Loss...

I went to boil some eggs.  Turned on the burner.  Sat down at the table.  Heard some bubbling - a little sooner than I was expecting.  I was considering checking, but I just stayed put for a bit... and... BOOM!  I had turned on the burner under the pan of lemon bars. (cry)  It completely exploded.  I think I found a piece of glass at least 10 ft away (again, not great with guessing these things, but it was far)  Thank God no one was in the kitchen at the time, and the kids were so occupied with what they were doing that I didn't have too much trouble cleaning up the mess before they knew what was going on.  I tell you though - gooey mess plus broken glass is not a fun combo.  And now I'm in need of a new 8x8 pan. Sad.  Too bad it isn't garage sale season. :)
Some serious carnage.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A bit of Summer

Ohlen loves lemonaide.

I found a very fragrant bag of lemons at a store.

I made a pitcher of lemonaide.

Ohlen says, "You make good lemonaide Mommy!" 

There are a few lemons left, so I think some lemon bars are in order.  Or a lemon meringue pie.

Mmmm it's like Summer without all the humidity and heat. Perfect. :-D

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coming Soon

My To Make List for 2011:  (I figure if I make them public - maybe I'll actually get through them all)

Finish Surprise #1
Finish Boys' Comforters
Surprise #2
Finish Pinwheel Quilt
Surprise #3
BOM Embroidery Quilt
Girly Car Seat Cover
Umbrella Stroller Cover
Regular Stoller covers
Girly Clothes
Pillow Covers

Exciting things for today - SNOW!  And all new episodes of my Thursday Comedy block. :)  And an increase of little kicks and nudges - even some felt from the outside. Little girl is getting bigger and stronger.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Now for Something Completely Different

Pillowcase Dresses
Doll Clothes
Pink and Purple

Just a few things on my mind this morning.

The plan was to wait.  To wait to find out the gender of this baby until she was born.  But I'm a sucker (or just nosey...)  Yesterday was our ultrasound.  Everything was great.  And we found out we are having a little girl!!  I'm still processing.  :)  For whatever reason, I was convinced it was going to be another little boy.  Which would have been fine.  But now!  So many fun projects to think about. :)

Here she is:

I love her little nose!  She was trying to be all modest and was keeping her little legs crossed, but the tech managed to get a few good looks. :)

Now starts the search for a name.  This should be fun. :)

Oh yeah, for an update on me.  18 weeks.  A few pounds gained.  Feeling good most days.  Although, not usually very motivated to do much.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A week of Nutella: Everything Else

Day 5: Everything Else

Quick link
Lots going on tonight.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A week of Nutella: Brownies

Day 4: Brownies with Nutella

This is one of my own design.  I didn't search for any recipes though, so there are probably some out there.  I had the thought of making brownies, and then another blog I follow posted a brownie recipe - so I figure it was some sort of sign.

I replaced 1/4 c of the butter with Nutella.  The nutella taste is pretty masked.  I can barely taste it, but come on, they are brownies, so they of course, are delicious.  I will definitely be making this recipe again without the nutella, because it is delicious, and very easy.  If I were to try a nutella brownie again, I think I would either replace more of the butter or make sort of a nutella surprise brownie, with a layer of nutella right in the middle.  Mmmm that sounds really good actually.

I found the recipe here: at
You should definitely go check out her site.  She is having a giveaway once she reaches 100 followers and she is getting really close. I really enjoy her blog - and she has some great things for sale in her etsy shop!

Nutella Brownies

1 2/3 c sugar
1/2 c butter
1/4 c Nutella  (change this to butter if you want just regular brownies or up the amount for some more of that great Nutella flavor)
2 Tbsp water
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 c flour
3/4 c cocoa  (I actually used less- 1/2 c - because I didn't have enough - and I thought it would let the nutella flavor stand out more)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (I didn't do this step)

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix sugar, butter, nutella, and water.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix dry ingredients together separately.  Add to sugar mix.  Pour into greased 9x9 pan.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.  I actually pulled mine out a little early, so it was very gooey in the middle - but then I accidentally left them uncovered overnight.... and now they are just perfect. :)

Tune in tomorrow for the final day of Nutella goodness.  I know a week is 7 days, but I'm going for a work week, since I started on Monday, and since I'm running out of Nutella. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A week of Nutella: Ice Cream

Day 3: Ice Cream (!!!)

This was my first search - I KNEW there had to be recipes out there for ice cream.  And I was not disappointed.  The only problem was that I needed a recipe I could make without a ice cream maker - as I don't own one.

The one I used basically called for equal parts evaporated milk and nutella. (I use 1/4 c each)  Microwave to mix better.  Chill for 2 hours in refrigerator.  Then freeze - taking out every hour to mix, until it is frozen.  Mine didn't take too long because I didn't want to make too much to conserve my Nutella.  

It was good - but a little too sweet for me.  I would love to taste a more involved version that uses an ice cream maker.  Here are some that I found:

If any of you make any let me know how it turns out!

Oh and here is where I found the recipe I used - also includes ice cream maker instructions and how to make your own "nutella" if you want.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A week of Nutella: Glaze

Day 2: Nutella Glaze

Today I also revisit a recipe I featured a little under a year ago - Baked Doughnuts

I noticed that I said I would make the doughnuts again, and it took almost a year for me to make them again... This time they turned out amazing.  I took them out of the oven as soon as there was a hint of tan on them.  They were definitely not the light fluffy normal glazed doughnut; they were more dense/ doughy, but so wonderful.  As they were cooking I dreamed up my next exciting thing to make with Nutella.

Nutella Glaze

I put a spoonful of Nutella in a microwavable container with a bit of milk.  Heated it in the microwave for about 25 seconds.  Used a little whisk and whisked away.  Added a bit of powdered sugar until it was a good consistency.

I had about 6 doughnut holes that I covered completely.  And coated the top of one doughnut.  (The others I treated with a cinnamon sugar dip.)

It was excellent.  I thought maybe the powdered sugar would overpower the Nutella, but not so.  It was completely wonderful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A week of Nutella: Hot Chocolate

I bought some Nutella on Saturday.  It's great.

I was wondering how else it could be used - besides just slathering it on some bread.

So was born this week's series:  Exciting things to make with Nutella.

I'm sure there are many ideas already running about cyperspace - and I'll search for them, but so far, I haven't had to.

Day One:  Nutella Hot Chocolate

This isn't my original idea.  I had this marvelous beverage while in Lancaster, PA at Rachel's Cafe and Creperie.  (Oh my goodness I had the best meal there, if you are ever in Lancaster, I highly recommend!!)  They have several menu items involving Nutella.

My version is this:

Make a cup of hot chocolate as you normally would only half the amount of hot chocolate mix (you probably wouldn't have to do this, but I didn't want it to be too intense.)  I also used milk.

Add a spoonful of Nutella.  Whisk away.  I actually used my little frother to help with this and it worked great.  The end result was wonderful.  Had that distinct Nutella flavor.

I'd love to hear any suggestions, please comment!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I've been making this pizza since my best friend and I ordered a similar pizza at a local pizza joint.  My version turned out pretty good I think.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Pizza Crust
Your favorite Ranch Dressing
Mozzarella cheese
Some kind of cooked chicken
Onions, Peppers, Tomato (any topping you think would go well)
Your favorite Buffalo sauce

If you need - prepare the chicken.  I have used canned chicken, chicken I have cooked in a skillet, and chicken I have baked.

I use a prebaked crust.  Spread a generous amount of ranch dressing over the crust.  Sprinkle cheese over top of the ranch dressing.  Place chicken, addition toppings, and basil over top the cheese.  Drizzle buffalo sauce over top everything.  (I've also waited to add the sauce until after it bakes - works well too)

Bake at 400 until cheese is nice and melty.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of this pizza fresh out of the oven - this is a day or two later.  Makes for some decent left overs too.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Definition:  Spending 2 - 3 hours ripping out seams.

Dumb mistake
Just continuing with the mistake - shouldn't have really mattered
Ended up it Did matter for some strange reason
Tried it anyways
Frustrated with 1/4-1/2 inch gaps where  seams should matched up
Seams ripped
Seams ripped
Just going with it
Discovering another small mistake
Last straw
Seam Ripping marathon
One whole row of blocks starting all over - tomorrow  (or tonight if I'm feeling extra saucy - chances are not good.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some Beautiful Bread

This Christmas my husband and I decided to skip the gifts for each other.  However, soon after Christmas, we both looked into purchasing something for ourselves.  Jonathan went for something fun.  I went for something, well I would say fun, but most would say work. :)  I ordered myself a stand mixer.  I have been debating and researching about getting for quite awhile now.  I knew how much I wanted to spend and what model I wanted... which didn't quite match up, at least not for a new model. So I searched the company's refurbished page, but they were all out of stock.  So I resorted to my old friend, e.bay.  I found a nice refurbished model within my price range.  The seller had great reviews, and lots of sales, so I was pretty confident.  The mixer came about a week later and it is perfect.

I haven't used it a whole ton yet, but I'm not doing a whole lot of baking right now either.  Kind of in a post Christmas slump.  I did, however, make a bread recipe that was included with the mixer, and it turned out wonderfully.

I don't usually make plain old white bread, but this bead turned out so wonderful I will probably make it again.  They do have a wheat bread recipe that I will try, I just have to get a few ingredients that I don't usually keep in the house (powdered milk)

On to the recipe, from the Kitchenai.d instruction and recipe book:

Basic White Bread

1/2 c low-fat milk
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 c warm water (105 - 115)
5 - 6 cups all-purpose flour

Place milk, sugar, salt, and butter in a small saucepan.  Heat over low heat until butter is melted.  Cool to lukewarm.
Dissolve yeast in warm water in warm mixer bowl.  Add milk mixture and 4 1/2 c flour.  Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer.  Turn to speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.
Continue on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 c at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.  Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic.  Dough will be slightly sticky to touch.

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover, let rise in warm place, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half.  Shape each half into a loaf and place in greased loaf pans.  Cover. Let rise in warm place, about 1 hour.

Bake at 400 until golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.
Aren't they pretty?  And they taste so good too.

Monday, January 3, 2011


It's 915 pm... and I'm in bed for the night. I was so tired today, I think my late nights this past weekend are catching up with me. I did manage to actually sit in my work area and sew for about an hour and a half Sunday; it was great. As usual I have a few posts in the works - we'll see if they actually make it up here.
Oh, and I have been getting kicked - from the inside - it's great! :)
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