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1  COOKING / Dessert / Raspberry Pavlova- Recipe on: March 26, 2018 01:46:53 PM
My middle son was turning 19, and I have always made them their birthday cakes/desserts. Well, this son doesn't like pie and he just informed me he didn't want a cake. My brain was churning and I landed on a pavlova. He loves meringue and he likes raspberries.

I made 2 of these

6 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat the Oven to 250˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

1. Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat 6 egg whites and 1 1/2 cups sugar for 6 to 7 minutes on high speed, or until stiff peaks form. The mixture will be smooth and glossy.
2. Add 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract and 2 tsp corn starch and continue mixing another 15 seconds or until well blended. Transfer immediately to a large sheet of parchment paper and use spatula to form a 10″ round ring, making a deep indent in the center to accommodate the cream and curd later.
3. Bake at 250˚F for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Then turn off the oven and with door closed, let it sit inside the oven another 1 hour until cooled. Remove pavlova from oven and let cool completely to room temp then cover and let stand in a dry, room temp room up to 2 days or assemble and serve right away.

Raspberry Sauce

12 oz frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch

1. Thaw raspberries.
2. With a fine wire strainer, use a spoon to press the raspberries so that the seedless pulp falls into a bowl below, (or use a few layers of cheese cloth and squeeze the heck out of it).  Strain enough pulp to get between 1/3 - 1/2 cup of pulp (I usually get close to the 3/4 cup). Add enough water to equal 3/4 cups.
3. In a small saucepan, combine raspberry juice/water, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens (remember it will continue to thicken as it cools).  Remove from heat, set aside.
4. Cool and place in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Whipped cream
1-1/2 c heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp real vanilla
1/2 tsp cornstarch (optional helps to hold the cream longer)
Put all ingredients in mixer and beat until slightly stiff peaks form (over beat and you will get sweet butter)

Right before serving I layered a pavlova, the sauce, the cream then repeated and topped with fresh raspberries.
It was so good! Crunchy, marshmallowy, raspberry! We'll definitely make again. Maybe with mini ones next time.
2  COOKING / Dessert / Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes on: March 13, 2018 06:01:01 AM
I am on a quest. A desperate quest to find the perfect banana cake recipe. I want it to have real banana flavor (not imitation) but I also want it to be light. These are packed with banana flavor, but I still need to adjust them because they aren't super light yet, a bit denser than I prefer. But super yummy!

2 eggs separated (whites and yolks)
Beat whites until soft peaks form, set aside.

10 T butter, softened
1 c sugar

cream together until fluffy, add
2 t real vanilla and reserved yolks

In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients
1-2/3 c flour
1-1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

In a separate bowl combine;
3 medium very ripe bananas*
1/2 c yogurt
2 T water

Alternate adding dry mix and banana mix until all combined don't overmix. Fold in egg whites keeping it light and airy.
Line muffin tin with parchment liners. Bake 325 degrees F 17-19 minutes or until lightly brown and a toothpick comes out with minimal crumbs. Makes about 18 cupcakes
Cool before filling. To fill I cut a little core out of the top.

*I like to toss my extra bananas that are over ripe in the freezer still in their skins. Then when I'm ready to use I microwave them on a plate until they are soft (1 minute or so depending on how many bananas I have. Then I pop off the bottom knob and discard that weird bottom dark pin like thing at the bottom. I squeeze it out like a tube of toothpaste. Don't discard the liquid, that stuff is super banana flavor gold!

I have done this 2 ways; 1 easy, 1 not as easy.
Easy way make Jello brand vanilla pudding with 1 cup milk and 2/3 c heavy whipping cream (reserve 2-3T T of pudding for frosting)

Less easy way
Creme Anglaise

1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

-Combine milk and cream in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring milk mixture to simmer. Remove from the heat.

-In a medium mixing bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thickened and light in color. Gradually whisk a quarter of the hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return the yolk/milk mixture back to the saucepan.

-Stir with a wooden spoon over low heat until custard thickens, about 5 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then stir in vanilla extract. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. I put in a ziploc and clip the end off to pipe into my cupcakes (you will probably have extra but it is so good you won't mind.
Reserve 3 T of anglaise for frosting


I like it light and simple and not too sweet.

Reserved anglaise or pudding (this helps it hold for longer than normal whipped cream)
1/4 c granulated sugar ( you can use more if you want it sweeter or less if you want it less sweet)
1 pint of heavy whipping cream

Beat this together until light and fluffy and holds a peak (if you over beat it a little it's ok, it gives it a little bit more of a butter-ish texture. If you overbeat it too much, you have sweet butter. Who knows, maybe that is what you like  Wink

You can garnish with a banana chip or whatever you like.
3  COOKING / Dessert / Peanut Butter Semifreddo on: February 22, 2018 10:12:11 AM
I went to a fancy restaurant and we had a few different desserts. My hubby picked the peanut butter semifreddo with blackberry sorbet. I don't like peanut butter (I know gasp) but thought I'd give it a taste. It was the best thing I had ever eaten in my life! I had to have it and I had to learn how to make it because we could not afford to come to this fancy restaurant often. So I did, and it turned out pretty great. Next time I will try a different sorbet and maybe add a tuile or something for crunch, but it was amazing and probably my go-to for guests in the future.

Peanut butter Semifreddo
8 egg yolks
 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter*
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 1 cup heavy whipping cream

-Combine the egg yolks and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk until smooth.
-Place the bowl over a saucepan filled with an inch of simmering water (a double boiler). Whisk the mixture slowly and continuously until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F, about 5-7 minutes. It will be fluffy-ish
-Remove the bowl from the pan, and pour the egg mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any small bits of cooked egg.
-Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract, and mix with an electric mixer until smooth. It will be incredibly thick.
-In a separate bowl, combine the whipping cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and whip to soft peaks.
-Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to the egg yolk mixture, and mix with the electric mixer until incorporated. This will lighten the peanut butter mixture tremendously, and you should be able to fold the rest of the cream in by hand.
-Add another 1/3 of the whipped cream and fold it into the peanut butter with a spatula, taking care to deflate the cream as little as possible. When mostly incorporated, fold in the remaining 1/3 of the whipped cream.
-Transfer mixture into an 8x8" cake pan, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture, freeze 4-6 hours, until completely frozen. I used a biscuit cutter, but you could cut in squares to serve. Be careful it will melt quickly. It is a semifreddo
-Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the peanut butter mixture, then freeze for 4-6 hours, until completely frozen.
4  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Pizza Sauce Recipe- Allium free on: February 22, 2018 09:48:40 AM
My husband has just learned he has an allium (onion, garlic, chive, green onion, etc.) intolerance maybe an allergy. We are not sure to what severity, so we are still in the elimination process about to step into the reintroduction stage. Anyway, his favorite thing in the entire world is pizza, and he's been super depressed because of this elimination, so I went into the kitchen with no real recipe or plan, just I was making him pizza.... This is what I came up with for a sauce and it was AWESOME! I mean, I'd prefer it with garlic and onion, but for not having it- it was amazing. I also made a sausage but have a bit of tweaking to do for perfection so I haven't posted that yet.

Pizza sauce- Allium free
2 T olive oil
1T butter
1/4 c minced celery
8 oz tomato sauce
6 oz tomato paste
2 T parmesan cheese
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1/4 t black pepper
1 small bay leaf
1 t ground fennel

Cook celery in oil & butter until soft. Add all other ingredients and simmer 30-60 minutes until the desired consistency.

I hope no one else has this issue, but if you do, this is a great recipe to not feel like such a freak. (Now to find a perfect ketchup recipe)
5  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Harry Potter Advent Calendar on: December 01, 2017 08:25:39 AM
Every year we do an "Advent" calendar/countdown calendar with activities & little treats to bond us as a family and to be positive influences on the world. Well, this year 2 of my children moved out. I figured it was the end of the tradition, but the boys all insisted that we find a way... enter this year's Harry Potter Advent calendar. I made up 3 swags (2 pictured) of mismatched socks. The activities are a bit simpler than in earlier years, but with everyone so busy I wanted it to be doable.

Here is what we're doing;

1. Let's start off our advent fun by trying to be the perfect house-elf. Do something good for someone without them finding out.
2. Professor Slughorn has been brewing again. Here's some Felix Felicis, know you'll have good luck all day long. (Forgot a picture of this, but it is ginger ale with some shimmer dust swirled in, inside of a glass bottle with a cork stopper)
3. Time to get your creative juices flowing. Let's make up new Christmas carols. Work together, work alone, up to you. In the next week text the new song to the rest of the family. Extra points if you send a video of you singing it.
4. Congratulations! Just like Harry you've caught the golden snitch! It feels pretty good, doesn't it? Spread some of that joy by making a special effort to smile & compliment others today.

5. Today we will dip into the Pensieve. Text your favorite memory from 2017 to the family.
6. To celebrate Rubeus Hagrid's birthday, enjoy festive garden gnome shaped candies.

7. Defense against the dark arts- what would your Patronus shape be? Text a pic, drawing, or words to the family.
8. Dementors have been spotted in the area. Hand out this chocolate to help those who have succumbed to the sadness and irritability.

9. In honor of the sacrifices Dobby has made it is now traditional to exchange socks. Wear these socks & remember to selflessly help others for good as Dobby did.

10. We're practicing for the next Triwizard Tournament with this team scavenger hunt. Babes vs. Geezers. Find the items on the list and snap pictures. Text the pics to the family. You're working with your partner. First team to complete the list wins.
11. Zonko's Joke shop is always looking for some new material especially around Christmas. Text your favorite Holiday joke to the family. Here's one to get you started;
What does Santa suffer from when he gets stuck in the chimney?
12. It's Charlie Weasley' s birthday today. Here's some dragon jerky to celebrate.

13. Remember how happy Ron was when he collected all of that Leprechaun gold? Over the next day or so place this dollar somewhere for someone to find it.

14. "Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic" -Albus Dumbledore
Write a card to someone telling them how important they are to you. Text the family a pic of you at the mailbox when you send it.

15. Christmas cookie bake-off- over the next few days bake some cookies/treats to share at our Christmas on the 22nd. Traditional, crazy, creative, your choice. Prize for the favorite.
16. Let's help Arthur Weasley answer his question "what is the purpose of a rubber duck?" Take this little friend with you today and snap pictures as you and he/she contemplate the purpose of a rubber duck. Don't forget to name your friend.

17. Snowmen are magical creatures, but as Hagrid knows the snow isn't always cooperative. Make a small clay snowman to add to the family's collection.

18. Molly Weasley gathered the family by the radio to listen to her favorite singer, Celestina Warbeck. What is your favorite Holiday song? Find it on YouTube and send a link to the family.
19. Tis the season for mistletoe, kissing, & spreading cheer. Just beware of Nargles!

20. The sweet cart left some Bertie Botts beans for you. Let us know the best and worse flavor you got. You may even want to share some.

21. St Mungos has released a new book of home remedies. Here is a simple Pepper-up recipe to keep your spirits up. Prepare some hot chocolate as directed. Stir with magic swirled cane 7 times clockwise, more for hard cases.

22. "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only my remembers to turn on a light" -Albus Dumbledore
On this longest of nights let us gather together and light our candles & remember to be the light for those who can't.

23. Divination class- text us your predictions for 2018.
24. If you could apparate anywhere for Christmas where would you go? Send a picture to the rest of the family.
6  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Big Liam Fan on: June 09, 2017 08:22:50 AM
My middle son, Liam, graduated last Sunday. It is usually hot and stuffy at graduation and he's an actor and a character so I thought it would be funny to make a big fan of him for me to use. I was inspired by a photo I saw years ago online of Martin Freeman with a similar fan of Benedict Cumberbatch.

I printed out a bunch of copies of one of his senior pictures onto cardstock. I cut them all out which didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. I then used packing tape to "laminate" them. That took much longer than I had anticipated. (Looking back I should have taken them in to get laminated.) I pressed the tape down really well with a tongue depressor to get a good seal then I cut those out again leaving a bit to keep the "lamination" seal.

For rigidity, I hot glued them to tongue depressors being careful to line it up with the other ones. I drilled a hole a bit bigger than my skewer. I hot glued a plastic bead to one end of a bamboo skewer. I laced the blades onto the skewer. Squeezed the blades together, trimmed the skewer and hot glued a bead to the other end. Once it was dry I released the blades and lined the blades how I liked them. I hot glued a piece of ribbon to the back so that it flicked open just right.

The back isn't all that pretty, but it didn't really cost me anything because I had everything to make it at home. And he laughed so hard when he saw it, it was totally worth it. We're thinking we'll maybe make some more for the whole family for his next play.
7  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Glue Spot to Rose Shirt on: June 09, 2017 08:04:57 AM
I had a shirt I liked, the first day I wore it a little girl came up and hugged me while she was covered in gobs of permanent fabric glue.

I tried everything to remove it, but couldn't. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at some reverse applique

I used an old blue tshirt, found a rose stencil as inspiration, redrew it on freezer paper. Cut the freezer paper design out. Ironed the negative onto my shirt. I used flour in a sieve that I shook over the freezer paper. I patted it in a bit with my hand then removed the freezer paper. I used a basting spray to hold the blue tshirt on the inside of the black shirt. I used grey dmc floss and chunky stitched around the rose designs. I carefully pulled the top tee and the bottom tee apart in the areas and snipped the top tee only and trimmed around each part.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. The placement looks better on than it does on the hanger, but I couldn't get a decent picture of it on me.
8  COOKING / Dessert / Stroopwafels- Dutch Caramel Filled Cookie on: December 11, 2013 09:09:42 AM

These are a delicious, Dutch, crisp cookie filled with a honey caramel. You can place them on your warm coffee or tea and it warms the caramel and makes them gooey and delicious! You can make them in a waffle cone iron or a pizzelle iron like we did.

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 c sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 c warm water (slightly above body temp)
2 large eggs
dash of salt

In a mixer bowl; add flour, yeast, cinnamon, & sugar, cut in flour with your hands until it resembles small pellets. Place mixer bowl on mixer and on low slowly pour in the warm water and allow the dough to start coming together. Add eggs one at a time. Add in the dash of salt and knead dough until it's a firm and cohesive dough.

Cover with a damp towel or cling wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

1 stick of butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T Karo syrup (I used light)
1 T honey
1 T maple syrup
1 T vanilla

Melt butter and sugar stirring slowly over low heat. Add cinnamon, honey and syrups and continue to stir until the caramel comes together and slowly bubbles. Keep stirring because at this stage it's easy to burn. Keep stirring until sugar is all dissolved and caramel is creamy. It will be HOT! Keep caramel warm.

Divide the dough into 40 equal pieces. Roll them into small marbles and cover with a damp cloth so they don't dry out while baking other pieces.

Heat your pizzelle iron or waffle cone machine according to instructions. Place dough ball in the iron, press down and bake each cookie/waffle for approximately 40 seconds. Check to see if browned and puffed up a little. Remove from machine and place it on a flat surface.

*Working quickly while the cookie is hot and pliable (when it cools it will break on you.)

Place your hand on top of the cookie and slice it horizontally in two with a sharp non-serrated knife. (I had to use a towel/clean pot holder because it was too hot.) Because of the yeast it puffs up a bit to make a spot to cut.

Immediately smear a bit of caramel on top of the bottom cookie. Replace the top and gently push down so the caramel spreads. Let cool on a rack. Then do the next dough ball.*

NOTE: * This is the traditional way to do it. But this is not how I did i;. my pizzelle iron has 3 cookie spots. I cooked 2 at a time [3 I couldn't quite do quick enough] set on 3.5. After 40 seconds I took them out and using a towel to protect my hand I cut them horizontally. I then set them aside (I pressed them gently to encourage them to stay flat. After I cooked all of my cookies. I then made my caramel. When my caramel was hot I reopened my cookies and spread the caramel on the bottom cookie half, then smooshed them together. They held up just as well as the traditional way, but was easier for me to do by myself.
9  CROCHET / Crochet: Discussion and Questions / Traditional Scarf or Infinity Scarf? on: August 06, 2013 12:39:28 PM
I am working on a scarf for a charity auction at my church. I'm not following a certain pattern, but a stitch patter which is a lacy-ish chevron pattern. I am wondering if I should make it a traditional scarf or if I should make it an infinity scarf. I would want it to be whichever is most likely to be desirable to the most people to get a better price. What are all of your thoughts?

Thanks in advance!!
10  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Grey Crocheted Work Purse on: January 26, 2013 11:26:17 AM
I am taking part in the destash challenge/craftalong to try to cleanse my home of some of my stash. Also my goal for the year is to be more organized (who's isn't). I have also just been appointed to the Governance Council of an newly forming high school, which meant I needed a purse/bag to easily carry my note-taker, folders, and contact information to and from meetings and school visits. Thus this purse was born.

I crocheted the outside based off of the stitch pattern from this pattern http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bobbling-along-aran-tote I didn't use the pattern though, so I can't vouch for its accuracy at all. I crocheted this while on acar trip with my family.

The inside took me quite awhile as I was very indecisive about pockets and trying to utilize my fabric scraps as optimally as possible.
I have one large pocket on either side one for my note-taker and one for my folders with information, contacts, etc... in. There are clips and rings along the top for my keys, sunglasses, lip chap, etc...
In hindsight I do wish I would have made the top band with the snap a touch higher, it would have been slightly easier for sewing, but over all I'm very very pleased with it. The dimensions are 15x12x4" without the straps. I made it out of scrap Heather Grey Red Heart Super Saver Acrylic Yarn. The fabric was from JoAnns that I had scraps of from other projects, all of the notions I had at home from leftovers from projects.

Any other questions/comments feel free to ask. Thanks!
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