Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hello, Dolly

Today's tutorial is a simple, yet tasty treat: Hello Dollies (also known as seven layer bars). I love the versatility of the ingredients and of course, the taste. What you'll need as the basis for these bars is sugar, graham crackers, and sweetened condensed milk. Here's what to do:

To make the crust:
Place a package of graham crackers (not a box, but one of the packages within the box) into a ziplock bag and break into small pieces. For this, I find a rolling pin works best. Once crumbled, pour into a bowl and add a stick of butter (1/2 cup) and 1/4 cup sugar. Mix using a fork, cutting into the ingredients (you want the mixture to form into pea-size clumps). Next, press the mixture into the bottom of an un-greased 9x13" pan.
For the filling:
Select any toppings and sprinkle over the crust. Classic Hello Dollies consist of coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips. Other fun ideas are to add butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, dried berries, m&ms, candy corn or Oreos! It's easy to add your own creativity to these bars, changing the overall flavor. After adding your toppings, pour a 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk over the whole pan and bake at 325° for about 25 minutes.
That's it! Honestly, the hardest part about these cookies is waiting to let them cool before eating.
 Enjoy ♥

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Want s'more cookies?

As many of us can tell by the sunny weather and smell of barbecues, summer is definitely here! With that being said, I wanted to make a spin on a classic summer dessert: s'mores!

For these cookies I combined this Hershey's recipe for s'mores bars (which are also delicious) and Martha Stewarts technique with this s'mores cookies recipe. The result? A tasty and messy-free way to make, serve and eat s'mores!

Aside from your typical cookie ingredients, you will of course need graham crackers, Hershey's chocolate bars and marshmallows (I used large marshmallows to follow Martha Stewart's method, but you could easily substitute one large marshmallow for 2-3 mini marshmallows). Simply make the Hershey's s'more dough, and scoop out cookies and bake at 350° for about 10 minutes, rotating your pan half way through. Once the cookies are slightly brown, remove from oven and place 2 squares of Hershey's chocolate on each s'more (you can of course use any brand of chocolate, I just chose Hershey's because it is the classic s'more chocolate).

Now for the fun part: cut large marshmallows in half and place one on each cookie. I definitely recommend using actual scissors for this because knives get too gooey to cut after a few marshmallows. Set your oven to broil and place a pan of cookies on the broiler rack. Broil for about 30 seconds. **WARNING** check your cookies every 5-10 seconds because they go from brown to burnt very quickly! I burned my first marshmallows, but luckily I was able to scrape them off and add fresh marshmallows. For those of you who like your marshmallows burnt, you won't have as much anxiety while these cookies are broiling, but still be sure to check often.

Once broiled to marshmallow perfection, consume immediately! These cookies definitely taste best when the marshmallows are still ooey-gooey from the oven. I absolutely recommend these to anyone who wants to have s'mores, even without the sand and bonfire pit. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Be a Crafty Volunteer!

I am very sorry that I have been absent from my blog for awhile. I have 3 weeks left of college and so it has been a very busy time for me. I hope that all of you had a great Easter. I will be doing an Easter Round-Up post hopefully on Tuesday to show you all of the treats I pulled together for my Easter baskets!

This past week I had the amazing opportunity to go to Miller's Children's Hospital in Long Beach for a craft day with the children. I volunteered through my Professional Event Planning course ; however, you do not have to be with an organization or group to volunteer. Just grab a few friends, contact your local hospital and plan a fun day of crafts! Most likely the craft room will be available for any of the chil patients, so make sure you plan a craft that is gender friendly and age friendly. As a class, we agreed that making books would be a fun and versatile idea. For the younger children, they can turn their book into a sticker book or doodle book and for the older children, it could be a journal. Another great tip is to individually package supplies needed to make each book. This way the children who cannot leave their rooms can still make the craft.

On the day of the event, my four classmates and I drove to the hospital with our box of supplies. We were placed in the crafts room in the children's cancer ward. Though only one patient came to make a craft with us, we were visited by three infants and a young boy. The girl who did make the craft with us, Blanca, was an eighteen year old senior in high school. It was definitely challenging to see so many people younger than myself facing such a terrible disease. I knew that this would be the hardest part of volunteering. 

I am sharing this with the hope of inspiring some of you to contact your local hospital to volunteer for a day. Through crafts you can easily put a smile on a child's face. I know I was very happy to be able to have this opportunity and I would love to go back in the near future.

Thanks for stopping by ♡

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How To: Hollow Easter Eggs

With Easter right around the corner, knowing how to blow an egg is essential to avoid having a massive amount of hard boiled eggs and potentially losing one during the Easter Egg Hunt! Before yesterday, I had never attempted to blow an egg as I thought it was going to be too difficult, but I was proven wrong. Just follow these steps and you will have ready-for-decorating eggs in no time at all.

In order to blow an egg with ease you will need a pin (I used a "T" pin), toothpick, a rubber ear syringe (found at drug stores), and of course, some raw eggs. The steps are as follows:
Securely holding your egg over a bowl, take your pin and poke a hole at the bottom of an egg. For this step, you will want to find a balance between being slow and delicate and having enough force. Once you have poked a small hole, widen it a little bit by turning the pin while it is inside the egg. Once your hole is about the size of a pencil eraser, flip the egg over. Repeat this step and make a hole on the top of the egg, slightly smaller than your last hole.
Holding the egg right-side-up, use a toothpick to break up the yolk inside of your egg. To do this, simply insert the toothpick into your egg and turn it inside of the egg. Do this for about 10 seconds. After this step, you may start to see a bit of egg escaping out of the bottom.
Now, take your ear syringe and place it on the top hole of the egg and squeeze. Before releasing, move your syringe away from your egg. Now you can release the syringe allowing air to go back into the syringe. (If you let go of the syringe over your egg, some of the egg's contents may be sucked inside of the syringe.) This step will force the egg's contents into the bowl below. Repeat this step until the egg is empty.
Finally, rinse out your eggshell with your faucet. That's it!

I promise that this is not as daunting as it seems. Once you try it, you will not be hard boiling all of your Easter eggs again :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ingredient Substitutions (Cookies)

I try to keep baked goods in my apartment and my angel food cake just ran out, so I knew it was time for another baking post. Yesterday I was craving cookies. This is fairly typical, so I decided to try a new recipe. I went to Martha's website (as she seems to always have what I'm craving) and found the perfect recipe: double chocolate coconut cookies. Doesn't the name alone make your mouth water? The only problem was that I currently don't have any walnuts in my pantry. Simple solution: ingredient substitutions. You can easily put a twist on a recipe by substituting ingredients. This comes in handy when you don't own an item that you need, or just to have some creative fun. For this particular recipe, I substituted the walnuts for oats and mmm are they delicious.
There are so many ways in which you can substitute ingredients to work with. The easiest ones to substitute are the final ingredients added to the cookies. These include the chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, oats, raisins, you name it.  The most important things about cookies is having fun and having a sweet treat, so think about substituting some of these ingredients into your cookies next time you have a cookie craving:

store-bought cookies (oreos, teddy grahams, etc.)
broken candy bars (reese's, kit kat, almond joy)
potato chips
hot chocolate mix (replacing cocoa)
yogurt chips
jelly beans
dried/fresh fruit

There is a fascination and allure to cookies being made with unique ingredients like potato chips and bacon, so I say if you don't have chocolate chips, throw in something you do have. The options are limitless.

I hope you enjoyed today's post. My next one is a tutorial about blowing your own Easter eggs, so be sure to check back soon :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Felt Easter Baskets

 This year, I have seen quite a few felt Easter baskets for sale. I looked at them and knew that you can easily make your own for less! I feel that if you can make something more personalized for a cheaper price, the choice is a no-brainer.
I made this basket for my Packers-loving boyfriend
All you  will need is some felt, embroidery thread with a needle, scissors, some thin cardboard (found from used cereal boxes, tissue boxes, etc), and a basket or container to use as a guide. (You can still make your own without a guide, just know that you will want to have some sort of pattern. If you would like me to scan and upload mine, just leave me a comment) Also, for my felt, I bought four pieces of my main color and a piece for each of the accent colors. And now, here are the steps to make your own:
If you already have an Easter basket that you want to use as a guide, trace the base of the basket onto a piece of your main colored felt. Then stack the felt and cut your base out of all four pieces of that color.  Alternatively, you can ensure that your basket base is sturdy enough by using only two pieces of cut felt along with a piece of thin cardboard. If you choose to use this method, make sure you cut the cardboard base slightly smaller than the felt base so that you can sandwich and sew around the edges. Now that we have prepared our base, we will move on to the sides:
Place your Easter basket guide on its side onto your felt. Starting in the center, trace the top rim of your guide as you roll it on your felt piece. Then start back at center and repeat this step, rolling the basket the other way. Now that you have traced the top rim, repeat these steps while tracing the bottom rim. Once finished, you should have something that looks like this:
Stack four pieces of felt on top of each other and cut out your newly traced shape. Because my basket ended up being fairly small, the sides were sturdy enough being only two pieces of felt thick, but if you want your baskets to be very sturdy, you can use thin cardboard and cut out the traced shape onto two pieces of cardboard (again, making sure the pieces are slightly smaller than the felt).
Now it is time to start stitching things together. First you will want to stitch together the sides of the basket, but only on one side. Laying the four stacks on top of each other, stitch about a quarter-half inch from the edge. I chose to use a loop stitch, but you can also use a simple stitch as well. Now that you have made this stitch, pin the other edge of the side pieces together. Split open the pieces into two groups (two felt pieces each) and let it stand on. Not only will this help you visualize your finished basket, but it is easier to start attaching your base this way. Flip your sides over to the unfinished basket is upside down. Place your base felt pieces on top. Starting at the pinned seam of the basket (the side that you did not sew), stitch the base to the sides. Soon, you will have stitched around your base and will end up at the other side of the pinned seam. Depending on where you stitched the side seam, you may have a bit of extra felt (almost like a bubble of felt) left over. Just unpin the seam and let the felt set so it can be sewn flush against the base, and stitch.
Whew, you now have the base and sides of the basket done! It is downhill from here, I promise. To make the handle, cut your felt into two thin rectangular pieces. Make them as long as you want your handle to be. If your felt pieces are not long enough, just cut four pieces and stitch two together so they are twice as long. Now, cut your thin cardboard into the same shape, making sure it is slightly smaller than the felt pieces. Stitch the felt pieces of your handle together around the outside edges of your rectangles. Leave 2-3 inches unstitched. Take your thin cardboard handle piece and slide it in between the felt pieces of your handle and stitch up the remaining 2-3 inches.
At this point, I recommend decorating your basket before you attach your handle. This way, you can add a contrasting rim of felt. To add your decorations, you just cut out your shapes from your felt, and use white glue to attach. I chose to hand-stitch my pieces to my basket to be certain that it would stay intact. A great idea would be to cut out shapes and let your child glue them where he/she wants them to go. Then after you can stitch them so they are securely on.
Okay, so now you have decorated your Easter basket, all that is left is attaching your handle! This just takes a simple stitch and you're done! Now you can fill your felt Easter basket with your homemade Easter grass and other lovely treats :)
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial showing you how to make your own felt Easter basket. Be sure to check back soon for more Easter ideas! ♡

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Simple Strawberry Syrup

I purchased an Angel Food Cake from my grocery store today (sorry, I would love to show you how to make your own, but I don't have a beater/mixer). Because strawberries were on sale, I bought some and decided to make the easiest topping for my cake: simple strawberry syrup. Here is what you need:
Only strawberries, white sugar and angel food cake. The first step is to rinse your strawberries, and trim off their stems. Once your strawberries are prepped, place them into a bowl. With a sharp knife, cut through the strawberries inside of the bowl. Cut through the strawberries until they are cut to your desired size. If you want your strawberries to be finely cut, you can either use a food processor, or a pastry cutter (as I used).
After cutting your strawberries, add some white sugar. For one carton of strawberries I used 2-3 Tablespoons. Of course, you can add as much or as little as you'd like.

Cover the bowl of cut and sugared strawberries and refrigerate overnight.
 Finally, scoop onto your angel food cake and enjoy! For variations, you can use a variety of fruit. Another favorite of mine is tangerines. Have fun experimenting with different options and enjoy your simple syrup :)