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1  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Thai Basil Beef on: Today at 07:13:28 PM
Made some Thai food with American flair.  It's not terribly traditional, but it was really great.  I made a beef stir fry with thai basil, sticky rice, and an Americanized peanut sauce.  If you can find sticky rice at an asian market, grab it.  You steam it instead of boil, so it sticks together and you can make a ball to dip in the peanut sauce.  It's something even my picky kid will eat.

Thai Basil Beef

1.5 pounds New York strip steak
2 TBSP avocado oil
2 tsp cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves minced garlic
1 thai chile thinly sliced OR 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 TBSP peanut butter
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 cup thai or regular basil
4 cups stir fry vegetables

Cut steak into strips against the grain.  Season with salt and pepper and coat with the cornstarch.
Heat skillet over high heat, add avocado oil and sear meat on both sides.  Set browned pieces aside on a plate.
In same skillet, reduce heat to medium, add vegetables, garlic, chiles and season with salt and pepper.  Saute until vegetables are tender.
Add beef back into skillet.
Add soy sauce, peanut butter, and fish sauce.  Let simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens.
Add basil.  Remove from heat and toss the basil into the hot stir fry until just wilted.
Serve immediately.  Great paired with Thai Sticky Rice.

Thai Basil Peanut Sauce

One 13.5 ounce can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP fish sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp thai basil

Put everything into a medium sized, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, wisking constantly.
Let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes over low heat.  Be careful to not let the mixture scorch at the bottom.
Take the pot off the heat, let the sauce cool down and serve.
(To make it more traditional you can add about 1/4 cup Thai Massaman curry paste...I omit this as I don't like the flavor)
2  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / Cake Walk Boards on: February 09, 2018 06:33:35 PM
I've been making lots of games for carnivals and parties lately and here is the latest.  I had a cupcake walk with laminated pictures that were taped to the floor, but in two carnivals they were toast.  So made a tough one.  12 inch square boards of 3/4 inch wood, painted and numbered in cute cupcakes!

Hand painted and tossed in some Harry Potter colors in there as well, because everything I do has to have a nod to HP.

Printed the cupcake images so those can be pieces to pick the winning number.

Goodbye tiny tape-y cupcakes!

Edit to add: a cake walk is a school carnival/fete game where kids walk around the steps to music. When the music quits, kids stop on a number tile. Adult host picks a number and whoever is standing on that number tile gets a whole cake (or we just did cupcakes).
3  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Valentine's Day / Chocolate Box "Wreath" on: February 08, 2018 08:43:54 PM
Saw this idea online and knew it had to be done!

Needs a standard Valentines heart box or you can make one out of cardboard.  I bought a bunch of boxes last year on clearance, put the chocolates in the freezer for later and kept the boxes for crafties. 

Chocolate Heart Box
Air dry clay
paint - chocolate browns and creamy white
3D puffy paint - white pink and/or black (I used black instead of brown because I didn't want to buy a new brown)
cupcake liners
hot glue
ribbons for hanging and edging

I cut styrofoam into chocolatey shapes and then painted them, as the idea I saw online, but I used a more open styrofoam and hated the way it looked.  Not realistic enough for me.  So I used those as a base and rolled air dry clay out super thin to cover. 

Smooth it as best you can, and then let it dry.  After it was dry, I even sanded them down a bit to smooth it out even more.
Arrange in your box to make sure you have enough and a layout you like.

Paint with your chocolatey colors.

Then use your puffy paint to make designs on the top.

Dry and then hot glue inside cupcake liners in your box.  Use your ribbon to ruffle some edges on if you'd like and make a hanger.

Mmmm.... yummy....ish.
4  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Laundry Room Redo on: January 11, 2018 03:34:46 PM

As I understand it, three owners of our newish house have left up this laundry room:  Quilt like stripes painted on the walls and foam sheets cut into tshirts hanging on clothes pins, and random miniature sink, long mirror.  But it just wasn't our style.  Previous owners had ten kids, so I can imagine another sink would be welcome, but we don't need a baby sink.  Maybe if it was a deep utility sink it would be different, but it had to go.  In its place we put our new mudroom!  ....only a year in the works.  Embarrassed

We started with demo of the old sink and working the pipes back into the wall.

Took out the old cabinets that wouldn't let us have the pedestals for our washer and dryer.

Mirror and shelves came down.  Primed and painted.  Granite Gray.

Found some cabinets that would fit better with our pedestals, but I wanted white.

Started a build in place bench, so it would fit perfectly to the sink size already cut into the floor.  That's all DH, I'm just the painter.

Starting the back wall.


and with everything in my house, a little Harry Potter flair.

I love it!
5  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Fantastic Beasts Occamy Meme on: January 11, 2018 03:20:20 PM
There's a fun meme that has cats of all sizes trying to fit into things called "if I fits I sits".  We've got cats and we end up saying it all the time when our weirdos try to get into tight shapes.  Well I took this and flipped it for an occamy.  Occamys are known to be choranaptyxic, meaning they grow or shrink in order to fit available space.  In Fantastic Beasts we see one fill a whole attic and then shrink down to fit in a teapot.  Thus, if they sit they will fit hehe.

Made this pic with my new blending pens and vinyl cut words, about a 5X7.  First time I've used the pens, so I'll do better with practice, but a fun trial run.

randomly googled cute meme
6  CRAFTSTER CRAFT CHALLENGES / CHALLENGE 122 ENTRIES / Gingerbread House VS T-Rex on: January 04, 2018 08:22:14 PM

This gingerbread house, while cute, makes me remember why I usually buy kits.  You spend all this time making and cooling the house, just to then have to spend hours decorating.  My 11yo gave up on hers at the 30 minute mark and by the end of the second hour I was pleading with my candy to be bigger so I wouldnt have to decorate anymore, lol. 

Basic of house as they come. Prettier color than the store bought houses though.  The deep molasses color shows much better.  Store bought seems like its almost sugar cookie dough compared to homemade.  I used royal frosting for the roof, but it was thicker than I hoped so my sprinkles weren't sticking.  I ended up getting handfuls of sprinkles and basically throw/punch-ing the sprinkles into the icing.  Well, one throw/punch I missed and showered my 13 year old and kitchen with sprinkles.  That was fun times! 
The rest of the house goodies are stuck on with candy wafer chocolate.  I thought it would taste yummy/look better against the dark color/dry faster.  It worked pretty well.  Though I never did try to eat the house..... which is good....
Because.......reasons to come later.

Well, after the season I went to toss the houses and 11 year old daughter shouts that she knows what to do with them instead.  She had just gotten an inflatable T-Rex costume for Christmas!  Begin Massacre.... 

And this is what I think of you Mr. Take forever decorating house!

Gingerbread House Massacre

For the whole gruesome T-Rex Movie:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2JtXdQs4lQ&t=6s

7  COOKING / Dessert / Christmas Layer Jellos on: December 28, 2017 08:39:08 PM
My grandmother used to always make this for Christmas.  I may not remember the gifts I got for Christmas when I was a kid, but I remember this jello!  When my dad came for Christmas eve dinner, I decided to make it for him and as a pretty bit of color for our table.  I made these in individual cups, but grandma always just did a 9X13, so make it how you like.  Individual cups are sweet for the table, but more of a pain to fill.   You could also play with the jello colors for other holidays, red white and blue for example. 

Layered Christmas Jello Salad
1 large box or 2 small boxes Lime Jello
1 large box or 2 small boxes Cranberry Jello (or other red)
1 small box lemon Jello
1 cup mini marshmallows
⅓ cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup crushed pineapple
1 8 ounce package whipped topping (cool whip)

Prepare lime Jello as directed on box. Use ice water where it calls for cold water so it will set up faster.  Pour it into dish of your choice, if you are doing individual dishes remember to only fill ⅓ of the way.  Let set in fridge until firm.

Prepare middle layer by boiling one cup of water and adding it to the lemon jello mix.  While still hot add marshmallows and stir until they dissolve.  Whisk in yogurt, half of the 8 ounce cool whip and the cup of crushed pineapple (make sure you strain and squeeze any excess juice from the pineapple).  Finish by adding a cup of very cold water to the mixture.(you can use the strained pineapple juice to make up part of the 1 cup of water if you want to).  Pour on top of lime layer and return to fridge until firmly set.

For the final layer, prepare the cranberry jello according to package directions, and use ice water where it calls for cold water again, you do not want to put hot or warm jello on top of the middle layer it will melt it and give your jello a milky color.  Return jello to the fridge and let it set until firm and you are ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve use remaining cool whip to put dollops on individual serving dishes or to spread on top of Jello if you made it in a 913 dish.

Made ten of these cuties.  With plastic cups for the littlests, though they just licked the whipped cream off the top anyway.

What was leftover after my mini cups, I just put in a bowl.
8  COOKING / Dessert / Chocolate Lava Cakes on: December 28, 2017 08:26:21 PM
For my birthday this year I got a ten pound block of chocolate so I've been trying to figure out ways to use it up!  Chocolate lava cakes to the rescue.  Was a delicious fancy type dessert for our Christmas dinner.  Best of all, the batter can be made up ahead of time and then throw in the oven for 20 minutes when you're ready for a warm oozy molten cake.  Mine I made in jumbo muffin cup pans, but these babies are so so rich that the regular sized muffin pan is plenty.

Chocolate Lava Cakes

2 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 tablespoons of cocoa

3/4 cup of butter
12 ounce of chocolate chips (I used a kitchen scale and chopped semisweet chocolate)
1/2 cup of heavy cream
5 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup of flour
Prepare cupcake pans by coating the inside of each with melted butter by swirling it around. Then sprinkle the insides with cocoa, coating completely.  Tap the pan upside down once, to let any excess fall.

To make the batter, place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, then top it with butter and cream. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth and butter is melted. When chocolate has cooled slightly, stir in eggs, sugar and flour. Pour into prepared cupcake pans. Refrigerate for 1 hour (at least) and up to a couple of days.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes for regular 12/cupcake pan size, and 15-18 for jumbo 6/cupcake pan size, just until the outsides and most of the top have set, and the centers are still slightly runny. You can insert the tip of a knife to test. You just want a bit of the very center to be a thick pudding like texture. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then place a sheet pan on top of the muffin pan and invert them.

Serve with whipped cream, ice cream and/or dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon.

9  COOKING / Dessert / Homemade Marshmallows on: December 27, 2017 09:19:53 PM
"Money can't buy happiness buy it can buy marshmallows which are kinda the same thing."

I have that as a sign hanging in my kitchen, so you can imagine I do have a thing for marshmallows.  I collect all the shapes and colors, lol.  So, making homemade was just another step.  I've now been making them for years and I love to.  It is a process, but the taste and texture of a homemade marshmallow are so soft and sweet!

Homemade Marshmallows

1/2 cup cold water
3 - 1/4 ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Spray a 9X13 pan with release spray, then sift a layer of powdered sugar over the whole pan bottom and sides so the marshmallow can release.  Soften gelatin with cup cool water in bowl of stand mixer.

In a medium saucepan put 2 cups sugar, cup water, 1 cup corn syrup, and tsp salt.  Bring to a boil at medium to medium high, stirring.  When boiling, place saucepan lid on top for two minutes to let condensation wash down the sides.  Remove lid after two minutes and clip in candy thermometer.  Allow to reach 240* without stirring this time.

Start mixer on low speed, slowly pour in hot syrup into softened gelatin.  Gradually increase speed to high, beating for 8-12 minutes until bowl is softly warm to the touch and mixture is white, shiny, and thick.

Stop mixer and add 2 tsp vanilla.  Beat again until vanilla is mixed, about 10 seconds.  Spatula out sticky mixture into prepared 9X13 pan.  Try to smooth top as best you can.  Sift a generous amount of powdered sugar over all top.  Let set for 8 hours or over night.

Loosen marshmallow from sides of pan with knife.  Sift powdered sugar over counter or cutting board, then pull marshmallow sheet from pan and place on top.  Using kitchen scissors or knife, cut pieces apart and press edges into more powdered sugar.   Place pieces in a sifter and tap all excess sugar off marshmallow pieces.  Eat as is or drizzle on melted chocolate.  Keep in a covered container.

*make sure your candy thermometer is calibrated for your altitude. 
*try adding a tsp of other flavorings like peppermint, and/or add a little food coloring.

Great wrapped up for gifts!
10  COOKING / Dessert / Chocolate Frogs Neighbor Gifts on: December 18, 2017 09:44:33 PM
In years past I've given my specialty cupcakes as neighbor gifts for Christmas, but I wanted to mix things up this year.  I got some new chocolate molds, so I thought it would be fun to make boxes of lots of flavors of different kinds of chocolates.  I giggled to hubby that I wanted a frog in there too, for our Harry Potter fanatical-ness.  He thought it would be better to just give out a bunch of kinds of chocolate frogs and do it all Potter.  Fun idea.  So, I didn't get to use my other chocolate molds, but I gave my frog mold a good run!

I made peanut butter cup, white chocolate, oreo cookie, rice crispy, dark chocolate, and peppermint toads.  Used a plastic clamshell because I always have to be super fancy, and a shiny bright purple wrap under the frogs for the pop of purple color from the chocolate frog boxes....  And then made 30 boxes worth!

Made cute Honeydukes tags to go on it.  The fun part is trying to guess out of our neighbors who will actually appreciate that they are a Harry Potter reference, and who will think we are weird giving out frogs.

Honeydukes presents Holiday Chocolate Frog Boxes

Now with any of these, they could be any kind of mold--even just an ice cube tray, so don't get caught up on the frogs!  I used a variety of chocolates and melting wafers.  If you use real chocolate you are going to have to temper it, which is quite a process (chop chocolate, measure, heat to a specific temp, lower to a specific temp, add seed chocolate) so to simplify you can use melting wafers.  With melting wafers you just melt and go, it will set up great without being tempered.  I prefer the ghirardelli brand, tastes a lot better than the wax of wiltons, but I like the wilton colors.  So I use red to swirl around the peppermint.  Also, if you have any melted chocolate left over just leave a blob of it on some parchment paper and you can reuse, or eat.

Peppermint Toads

1 package of white chocolate
1/2 or less package red candy melts
1/4 tsp LorAnns peppermint oil (or to taste)

Melt white chocolate and red melts separately in 30 second bursts, stirring each time.  Spoon a stripe/dollop of red over the white and then spoon into your mold, trying to stir the colored mix around as little as possible.  Put in fridge for 20 minutes, or until hardened.

I left these out because they didn't have good swirls.  Doh for not taking a pic of all the good looking swirls!  There's a good one in the last picture of this post though.

*with these I wrapped them in foil candy wrappers because peppermint oil is a strong flavor and could flavor other close candies.  Just wrap the foil around it, making sure all candy is covered.  Then take a clean towel and rub over the top to get the details to show.

Peanut Butter Cups

1/3 cup Peanut Butter
1 TBSP Butter, softened
tsp salt (if needed to taste) I omitted
1/2 cup powdered sugar (or more or less to desired thickness of the pb middle)
1 10 oz package chocolate melting wafers
Melt wafers in microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring well in between each time.  When melted pour a spoonful of chocolate into each mold and drag the chocolate up all sides.  Give the mold a few slight taps on the counter to rid any air bubbles.  Put that in the fridge.  Mix all the peanut butter, butter, salt, and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl until combined.  When mix is combined, grab mold from the fridge and press a spoonful of peanut mixture into the center of each mold.  Be careful to keep the mix below the top of the mold.  When all mold cavities are filled spoon extra melted chocolate on top, again slightly tapping the mold.  Put back in the fridge until hardened.
*grumbles at the upside down pic* hope you get the idea.  Spoon it up the sides.... or down the sides? lol

Oreo, I just broke a few cookies into the white chocolate, trying to leave bigger pieces.  And then spooned into the mold. 

Rice Crispy, I used one cup of crispies per pound of chocolate and I think it was a little too much, but still good.  I'd probably lessen that amount next time.  I wrapped these with gold only because I wanted them to look different than the dark chocolate.
White chocolate was just melted and molded
Dark chocolate was melted and molded.

The peppermint swirl and a blob of peppermint to get reheated or eaten later.  A few extra oreos and a PB.

Sorry for the photo overload!  Sometimes it's nice to have lots of pics when you want to try for yourself.
Thanks for looking  Smiley
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