Gobble gobble! That’s something you see written a lot at this time of year. I would say “hear a lot this time of year” but honestly, it’s been years since I’ve heard a real turkey’s garbled yell. Not something the next door neighbors keep in their yard. Maybe your neighbors do…..?
I don’t love turkeys, but I do love cheese-balls! And snacky foods. And cheesy foods. So I saw this baby on Pinterest and felt in my bones that I should copy it! I followed the recipe from Homemade in the Heartland for this handsome gobbler, though I didn’t have all the decoration ingredients. We ended up having a Thanksgiving snack table before the actual turkey dinner, and this gobbly guy fit right on it!Instead of starting life out as an egg, he started out as this (cream cheesy, oniony, pinappley goodness):And then rolled around in this (pecans):I found that after sitting around a while, the pecans started to soften up (especially the next day). I think I would try and roll him in pecans at the very last minute before the party! I used white chocolate chips for his eyes, glued him together with black candy melts. His neck is a pepperoni stick and candy corn for beak and feet!With the extra red candy melt I made his “gobbler” and wrote….a little word….I was in a hurry, ok?!! (and my brain has been turning to mush lately)To go along with Mr. Gooble, I was all excited to try this traditional Texas snack mix! (Texans, tell me the truth in the comments below:) A delicious recipe for Texas Trash! I found it on Little Magnolia Kitchen and just changed her recipe a bit to fit with what I could easily find. The only Chex cereal I could find was Honey Chex (see photo above)!! And the nacho flavored Bugles. I made up half the recipe, and could barely squeeze it into my pan. Little Magnolia’s recommendation to use a large aluminum foil roaster is a good one….next time! I didn’t have steak spice, so just kinda made my own with what I had. So things were kinda different, but kinda……AWESOME!It turned out Y.U.M.M.Y!! Definitely a hit!!! I think it might go on our “traditional” list. We thought of our Texan relatives while we ate it!! 😉 (Oops, should I have said that???)There were some other new recipes that I tried out this year…..let me get it together and I’ll do another post…..
This bread is easy enough and delicious enough to make and eat every day!! I know you won’t, and I won’t even go there either, but really it’s a great recipe to have on hand to round out a hot meal. It takes just minutes to throw together, about 45 minutes in the oven and a little rest while you are finishing the rest of the meal. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water….homemade bread in all it’s lovely whiteness (more about that later)…
I made this recipe for Irish soda bread for our St. Patrick’s Day meal, fitting, eh? I found the recipe in my rusty trusty Fannie Farmer Baking Book (the one I was going to throw out when somehow it made it’s way into my house, but then I decided to use it to press flowers in, then finally when I actually started cooking and baking, realized that it contained some great recipes and instructions! Now it’s my go-to for baking. Funny how things work out….) Here are the photos, then I’ll add the recipe.
It’s such a gorgeously rustic looking bread! I love the texture, color and the big cross in the center. Oh, and the smell while it bakes, and did I mention that it was easy? And only takes 4 ingredients! F.O.U.R. Having said that, I didn’t actually have all of the ingredients on hand….
I had spent my time working on roasted cabbage and an “Irish” stew variation (made with what I had on hand: sausage, potatoes, onions and carrots…but I guess that that’s fairly authentic anyways). So I go to bake up some Irish soda bread, like I did last year. I measured out the dry ingredients and opened the fridge. I knew that I didn’t have buttermilk, so I would just use milk and vinegar or lime juice….but no milk!!! I dashed to the computer and typed in “substitutions for buttermilk” and found a great link here, so I found out that I could use yogurt as a substitute! Yay, I had lots of greek yogurt!
Here’s a close-up of the texture (I was eating the leftover bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil as a snack…sooooo good!) Remember, this was made with yogurt, and no extra fat! A very white color and great taste, and it must have a lot of protein with 2 cups of greek yogurt!! Now on to the recipe….
Irish Soda Bread
(an authentic recipe from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham, 1984)
4 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 tbsp. vinegar in milk to make 2 cups OR 2 cups of plain greek yogurt)
Preheat your oven to 3750 F. Grease a baking sheet or an 8-inch round pan…I used baking parchment on a cookie sheet. Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl (flour, salt, baking soda) and mix them around. Add buttermilk and stir it up with a fork until it holds together in a rough mass. Since I was using thick yogurt, I actually had to add just a bit of water to the dough to make it mixable. Knead the dough a few times (I did this right in the bowl) then pat into about an 8 inch round mound on the sheet (or in the round pan). Using a sharp knife, slash a large X into the top of the dough, about 1/4 of an inch deep.
Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until it is nicely browned and the X has spread open. Transfer to a rack to cool for awhile, then wrap it in a slightly damp tea towel and let it rest, on the rack for about 8 hours. This recipe makes one round loaf, and it should be completely cool when you serve it. The rest time in a damp towel helps the crust to nicely soften up. We didn’t wait 8 hours, obviously, or it wouldn’t be such a quick bread!!
If you can whip this up right before you prepare the meal, bake it, then let it sit in the damp towel while you make the rest of the meal, it should be ready to be served when the meal is ready. Using the towel is a good way to store leftovers. This bread also makes great toast! I love it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or just plain with butter. This loaf was enough to go with 2 meals for the six of us! So thankful for our blessings!
(now I am craving some yummy bread….!)
An easy way for toddlers and preschoolers to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Pink dough to play with! Mix up a quick batch of pink colored dough and break out the heart cookie cutters! The recipe I used is at the end of the post. Here’s my nostalgic look back at my babies busy at work on their “Valentines”We’re going to make something!Squish that pinkness!The idea was to get them to make a Valentine on the table, then I would photograph it as their “valentines” for Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa.And that’s what we did.It was a lot of very pink fun! I had to play a bit, too….Here’s the recipe I use for play dough:
2 and 1/2 cups of white all purpose flour (I’ve tried it with whole wheat flour, and let’s just say…No!)
1 cup of salt (fine, not coarse)
2 small packages of Kool Aid (the ones without real sugar) this is optional. if you don’t have Kool Aid, then add food coloring
3 tsp. vegetable oil (canola oil is good)
2 cups of boiling water
Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the boiling water. Stir it all together very well and turn out onto a surface where you can knead it a bit. It will be hot, so let it cool a bit before kneading. Then knead away until it becomes smooth. When it’s cool enough, the kids can start playing. As soon as it’s cool enough, either play with it or seal it in plastic bags so it doesn’t start drying out. This will last for quite awhile in a sealed bag. Note: the Kool Aid is just for easy color and aroma! We used cherry for Valentine’s day. If the kids love the smell so much that they taste it, it won’t hurt them at all, just a little salty. If there’s worry about the flour, then I’d say don’t add the Kool Aid and then it won’t smell appetizing enough for little ones to put into their mouths!
Fun for the kids to make, and the photos are easy to send to everyone online, no mess, no snail mail! 😉 Just digital cuteness from the kids! Happy ❤ weekend!
I love Snoopy and Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang! I remember looking forward to watching their specials on TV when we were young. (I also love pumpkins) so it was easy to come up with the perfect theme for a fall birthday party for my son. I haven’t watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!” for years, but I remember how Linus made me laugh, trying to wait all night in a pumpkin patch. So this party started with a little pumpkin patch. I had made some fondant pumpkins for cupcake toppers, and so there were still some just sitting around, waiting to form a pumpkin patch for Linus.Add in a “great pumpkin” and some more chipboard Peanuts characters (from last year’s kids’ Thanksgiving table)…..I had found some little packets of tissues with Snoopy on them, so they were a bit of a favor at each place….There were some other cute and fairly easy pumpkin ideas that were fast enough to put together for this party. My sister told me about using mandarin oranges as little pumpkins….Just peel them and add “stems” from celery, or in this case, stems from spinach leaves! And a bit of cilantro for leaves around the pumpkins. And then a jelly bean favor for each kid, this idea I found here on Parenting.com. I happened to have some red tulle (no orange!), so wrapped the orange jelly beans in it, then added pipe cleaner for a stem (and to hold the bag together) and some green curled ribbon for the tendrils. Didn’t take long to put together.The orange tablecloth and birthday banner I had saved from last year’s Garfield party…My preschool nephews were visiting, so I was trying to think of ideas that they could help out with for this party….baking!! Let’s make some birthday brownies!! (from a box!!)You could always add a pumpkin puree swirl into the chocolate brownies, that would be finger lickin’ good! (or pumpkin and cream cheese!! ahhhh!) Another idea that turned out great to do with the little kids was to make a birthday poster. First I drew a picture of Snoopy with a Sharpee marker on posterboard, then covered it up with white paper and painter’s tape. Then let the kids at it with paint daubers (bingo dabbers?)A fun idea even the youngest can help with!After painting is dry, peel off the tape to reveal….Snoopy!Then an older kid colored the words in with black marker so they’d stand out a bit. Posters, bday banner, favors, centerpiece, check!!….bring on the food and the party!
A happy pumpkin with a jack-o-lantern face from Papa Murphy’s pizza…..it’s the season for those, and they were just right for our pumpkin theme. We love Papa Murphy’s pick up and bake at home pizzas!Time for pizza!Pumpkins! (oops, that’s from something else!)Linus’s pumpkin patch moves over to the birthday brownies….Make a wish….Happy birthday! Check out some more pumpkin ideas…Here are some more pumpkin food ideas that I’ve worked on in the last few days, and they’d be perfect for a Charlie Brown pumpkin theme. My mom told me about some cute pumpkin cheese-balls that she saw, so I tried them out….How to: mix up softened cream cheese with spices (garlic, onion, paprika, pepper, season salt, or whatever you like) and some grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese. I also added chopped sun dried tomatoes. Let sit for a few moments in the refrigerator to harden a bit, then pull it out, divide into two chunks, cover with plastic wrap and shape into 2 balls. On top of the plastic wrap, mark the lines on the pumpkin with a back of a knife. Return to fridge. Later, before serving, take off the plastic and roll the cheese-balls in crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips (Doritos!) and add the stems from some bell peppers.The stems were easy to cut out….cut out from the pepper, along with the seeds, then cut right at the base of the stem, it kind of just popped off….crushed Doritos…I added paprika, but don’t do that, it dulled the color….When you press in the stem, it helps squash it into a pumpkin shape…I took a knife and re-made some of the indentations on the sides….Such cute, tasty little guys!And one last pumpkin idea….we just loved this one! I found a video on how to make these adorable pumpkin buns, by Hani, from Haniela’s. She has all sorts of great how-to videos for lots of yummy eats! She made these in just an hour. My first time to try took close to an hour and a half, but the next time was faster….and really, 35 minutes of that time is letting the buns rise, so really they’re pretty quick to make! And so adorably pumpkiny!! (Click on the link above for her video and recipe! you can do it!) You can make large ones for hamburger buns, how fun is that??Make the dough and cut….Let rise, add egg wash and sesame seeds, Bake for about 12 minutes…Add a stem and there you go!! I didn’t have the big pretzel sticks, so used several small skinny ones. I’ve also seen photos with pecans as stems!I just love those pumpkins!! All pumpkins, I guess. We had a lovely day out at a pumpkin (and everything else) farm and I had such a great time! Love photographing pumpkins!Hope you got some ideas for your next fall party…oh, I just saw that It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is on TV tonight….pumpkin memories!! 😉
Well, it’s more like a sewing party….and what could fit that theme better than some button cookies?! Button cookies are not my original idea, there are all sorts of button cookies floating around out there in cyberspace and other people’s kitchens and such. But anyways, this is my version of them. I gave them a photo shoot this morning. I needed to see something sweet and colorful to cheer me up! The ugly photos for the “how to” were taken last night in bad bad light…they are FYI only. Here are the cute buttons:Here’s the HOW TO:
Make: cookie dough with real butter, add liquid food coloring.
Tools: rolling pin, small circle and scallop cookie cutters, other round objects, plastic drinking straws, scissors.
First ,mix up some cookie dough. I used LilaLoa’s recipe (click here) for vanilla rollout cookies and was very pleased with it! I followed all her directions and used the full amount of flour and baked them for about 6 to 7 minutes. I divided the dough into thirds, even before I was finished mixing it, and added a few drops of liquid food coloring to each little batch (they were the neon colors from the grocery store). The colors didn’t mix in well until I kneaded it…totally looked and felt like playdough!! The dough is quite stiff. You can roll out the dough right away with this recipe, which is nice. I did stick the colors I wasn’t rolling out into the fridge to wait.
Roll out the dough and start cutting circles! Use 2 slightly different sizes of circles. I used the 2 smallest cutters that I have from a set of circles that are plain on one end and scalloped on the other end. You can also use other small circular objects (clean) for making patterns in the buttons.Using a slightly smaller circle, press into one of the cut out cookies…but not hard enough to cut right through!For some of the buttons, I used a plastic communion cup to make an even smaller third circle…
Then use a drinking straw to punch out the holes in the middle of the button, either 2 or 4 for each button. I cut up a plastic straw into thirds, then used each side to punch out holes, since the straw gets full of dough. You can squeeze out the dough to reuse it (or eat it), but it flattens out the straw. I went though a handful of straws with the whole batch (three colors) of dough.It is quite easy to do, and doesn’t take too much time. You do have to eye-ball everything to get it centered up. I suppose you could make a paper pattern with circles punched in, then overlay it to punch the holes through the dough….that just sounds like way to much effort to me, though the results would be practically perfect!!Some of the cookies received a scalloped flower design….I really liked these ones!Bake those babies! I always use parchment paper to bake cookies, since I only have one cookie pan, so I fill a sheet of parchment while the other batch is baking. The colors in my photos are weird, I know, the cookies didn’t really change much when they baked…it’s my flash. Here are the baked cookies, they hardly spread at all and kept their shape very nicely!Hmmm, I forgot to count up how many cookies the batch of dough made….lots though!! We ate up the deformed ones of course, and some raw dough, and even so that left lots and lots of little buttons. I re-rolled the scraps several times, so some of the cookies look a bit cracked, but I was trying to get as many as I could from the batch. You could probably avoid that….
Now back to the “fancy” photos….The colors turned out quite well with minimum effort, I thought. The right shades of blue and pink can be hard to make, since sometimes the blue looks more aqua since there’s a lot of yellow in the butter and the egg yolks….good thing I wanted aqua!! I didn’t fuss with the pink, either, and even started dropping in purple food coloring by accident! I dug most of it out and then tried the pink coloring….it matched my color palette close enough!!
I did make quite a few flower-shaped buttons and poked indents around the edges, but these are some of my favorite designs, the simple ones:
You just can’t get enough of that cute Kitty, I know! So I thought I’d post just one more party food idea for your next Hello Kitty party. This one turned out great and is super yummy, I promise!
One of our favorite “salads” is more like a dessert, I’m afraid. It’s a marshmallow-fruit-whipped cream salad of yumminess…ahhhh. Very easy, and it adapted itself perfectly to this Hello Kitty idea. This food project needs to be made a day before your party.
Start out with a clean fishbowl. You could call it a salad bowl, but it’s really a fishbowl…but ours has never even seen a fin. (I bought it at Michael’s arts and crafts store). I used one package of mini marshmallows for this recipe. It’s not really a recipe, just kind of a throwing-together of ingredients. I don’t think there’s really anything that you could do to mess this one up!
First whip up some whipping cream…the real stuff!! (with a bit of sugar and vanilla, nice and thickly whipped) Like maybe about two cups. (Or more!) In a very large separate bowl, mix about half a bag of mini marshmallows and about half of the whipped cream. It should be a thick mixture, not runny at all. Now with a big spoon, start spooning this into the fishbowl, and coating the sides of the bowl, like this…This is so that Hello Kitty will have a nice smooth-looking face, instead of grape “beauty marks or warts” on her face! Coating the sides of the bowl with the marshmallow/whipped cream mixture is quite easy. Try to make it as thin as possible, so you have some more mallow for the salad!
Now to finish the salad: mix up the rest of the marshmallows with the whipped cream. There’s a healthy short cut you can do here. I added in plain greek yoghurt and/or plain vanilla yogurt instead of some of the whipped cream. It works great….really, I think this salad could be made with only yogurt and no cream and it would be just great! But I don’t think cutting out the marshmallows is an option!
Now cut up and de-seed some grapes. A big bunch of grapes. We like using the red grapes. Make sure each grape is cut at least in half! Add these to the mix in the big bowl. Add some mandarin orange segments (maybe a can-ful or two). (I didn’t have any, but you can add a can of pineapple chunks, too). You kind of add what you have on hand, fruit wise. Now it’s a fruity marshmallowy salad. To give it a nice nutty crunch, add some toasted almonds now (might be a good idea to have these toasted before you start making the salad).
Almonds: to peel whole almonds, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit for a few minutes, then start popping the skins off them…that’s the fun part that kids usually like helping with! After they are all peeled, toast them in an oven or in a skillet on top of the stove….just a warm toasty brown, don’t let them burn!! When they are cool, add them to the salad.
That’s about it for the fruit salad! Mix it all gently together and spoon it into the fishbowl. It made just enough to almost fill it. Now cover and refrigerate it. The next day, right before the party, you can add the face and bow. The bow was made from a paper napkin/serviette. Cut a strip off one side, gather the large rectangle up, then use the strip to fasten around the middle and tape together. Use a small piece of tape to stick it to one side of the bowl.
For the face: melt a couple of cocoa candy melts (I use Wilton’s), or a few spoonfuls of chocolate chips. Put into a plastic baggie and snip a tiny piece of the corner off so you can pipe the chocolate out there. The fruit bowl is nice and cold so the chocolate will set up quickly. Pipe the whiskers on first, then the eyes and nose….I think the eyes should have been down a bit….oh well, it took just a minute to do right before the party started. If you mess up, you can just scrape it off and start again. I found that the chocolate stayed on perfectly for a long time….the only problem was that the kids wanted to pick it off and eat it!!
Right before eating time at the party, you can gently mix the salad up, or even just mix it up as you serve it…so that there is fruit throughout the whole salad. Mmmm, love this salad!! And the Kitty, too! I was especially pleased that this was my very own little idea…I didn’t “find it on Pinterest” like most of my ideas, haha!!
I’m sure that you have asked yourself this question at some point…how many cool things can I make with chocolate-covered almonds? Or more specifically, how can I make cupcake decorations and toppers for cupcakes with delicious chocolate coated almonds? I know that I recently pondered that profound question. And yes, please feel free to ask…why did I ask myself that question? Maybe you have already guessed the answer, particularly if you have a child in school who at some point has suddenly brought a rather large cardboard box (with a nice handle) full of smaller boxes of chocolate-covered almonds and has announced that they must all be sold as an important school fundraiser.
Yes, we have chocolate covered almonds for sale! I’m afraid that last time we went through this, we bought the whole box and ate them all. For sure I don’t want to do that again, so I started looking around for ideas to use these candies….as decorations on cupcakes. Surely there are many other ways to use them, but I’m only interested in bakedy bake baking stuff right now….so I checked around. And I made a list. Yes, I am weird that way. And one day baked the cupcakes, and finally finally got around to testing out all the fun ideas. All 13 of them!
I wanted you to have some cute ideas, so that you’ll buy chocolate almonds from us and we’ll get rid of the whole boxful. Or better yet, order some cupcakes from me, and I’ll make sure that they have some chocolate almond toppers!!
And there you have some ideas for having fun with chocolate covered almonds. I had fun yesterday, can you tell??
Some of my favorites…If you would like the how-to for any topper, just let me know. They were all made with chocolate covered almonds, some had chocolate chips on them and some had nonpareils (for eye pupils). They were all put together with candy melts, or melted chocolate. Pretty easy!! About half of them, like the mouse and the choco cat, were my own brainwaves…oh, and the ugly moose…he needs some work! Below I listed the ideas I saw as photos pinned on Pinterest. You can find the pin or blog link that I found each idea at by clicking on the highlighted words (none of them have instructions FYI):
bees, there are some really cute ideas on this blog
penguins, there are a lot of pins for these penguins, but I found the blog source! there are a lot of other great ideas here too.