Sunday, June 30, 2013

Apple Pie Pockets

We are getting ready to make some harvest meals next week, which means that everything needs to be able to be eaten with one hand while operating machinery. One of my husband's favorite desserts is apple pie, so I wanted to make apple pie that could be eaten on the go.

I combined a couple of recipes that I found on the web to come up with these tasty little treats. Here's the recipe:

Apple Pie Pockets

1 recipe Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon flour
Approximately 2 tablespoons butter
1 egg white, beaten
2 tablespoons water
cinnamon sugar

While you are waiting for the oil and water to cool for the pie crust, mix sugar, spices, and flour together in a bowl. Add apples and mix well.

Roll out dough between wax paper and cut out circles of dough. I used a plastic container that was nearly five inches in diameter to cut mine out.   I put the scraps together and re-rolled the dough once to get a total of 12 circles.

Place circles on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (This makes clean up so much easier!)

Place a small amount of apples on each circle of dough. Cut butter into twelve equal pieces and place one on top of each pie. Carefully fold the crust in half over the top of the apples and seal the edges with your finger. Flute the edges with a fork if desired.

Combine the egg and water in a bowl. Brush the top with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut two slits in the top of each pocket to allow steam to escape.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let rest for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

My husband said the filling was a little "drier" than regular apple pie filling. I think this is because I didn't use as much butter as I would with an apple pie. I didn't want the filling to be too moist, though, or the pockets would get soggy and would not be able to be eaten on the run. There is also more sugar in this filling that a typical pie fillinge, which could contribute to the dryness. I may cut the sugar a little bit next time. I'll keep playing with the recipe and update you with any changes.

All in all, I would say this recipe was a success. We had these last night when we had some friends over, and they passed the hand-held test. I'll be making them for harvest.

We are in the middle of a bad drought here in Wallace County. The wheat does not look too favorable. It is really hard to see a chance for rain on the weather and have it continually pass us by! I have been praying this Scripture:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
--2 Chronicles 7:14

In the meantime, we will continue to choose to trust God to provide.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Etched Cookie Jar

Okay, I admit it.  I'm not very good at taking pretty pictures!  I see all these beautiful blogs with pretty pictures with everything "just so," and I sigh and think, "I wish my pictures looked like that!"  Often I am trying to take my pictures with my cell phone with a baby wiggling in the front pack.  I'm lucky to simply get my picture in focus, let alone set up a neat background!  So, I apologize for the not-so-pretty picture.  However, I didn't want to let it stop me from sharing this great project.

I made this as a graduation gift for a sweet girl who graduated from high school this year.  (And, yes, I know I'm a little late with my gift.  I figure better late than never!)

I bought the glass cookie jar from Walmart.  I used the same technique to etch the jar as in my Powercat Etched Glass Dish Tutorial.  I found the flower clip art here and used Janda Apple Cobbler Font, which is one of my new favorites.  I left the etch on for about 6 minutes.

I added some smaller flowers and butterflies around the jar.  You can find the butterfly graphic here.  Maddie, my almost nine year old artist, drew the bumblebee for me.  She used this picture as inspiration.

Here's a close-up of Maddie's bee.  (Yes, I'm a proud mama!)

I filled the jar with some of our favorite cookies (the kids helped with the recipe suggestions and with baking the cookies) and delivered it this morning.  It was a really fun project that I enjoyed doing, and it was great to get the kids involved.  I may have to try this on some mason jars sometime soon!

Here are the cookie recipes that I used:

"Chip & Putter" Cookies
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

I found this recipe on Six Sisters' Stuff.  I love their blog!  I have probably made at least two dozen of their recipes, if not more.  Not to mention the massive amount of ideas/recipes from them that I have on my Pinterest Boards!  I love this recipe because you don't have to run the mixer--it just stirs up easily.  (aka, we can whip these out during nap time without making too much noise!)  Plus they are just so fun!  You could easily add seasonal sprinkles to fit any holiday you could imagine.  Anna, my five year old, was pretty excited to show Daddy the cookies that she made "all by herself"!

Here's the recipe (modified slightly from here.)

Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

1 box, 18.25 ounces, Funfetti Cake Mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup white chocolate chips (chocolate chips are also delicious in these!)
1/2 cup sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cake mix in large bowl.  Stir in baking powder.  Add eggs and oil and stir until well blended.  Add chocolate chips and then sprinkles.  Once you add the sprinkles, you do not want to stir too much, or the colors will bleed!  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.

"Chip & Putter" Cookies (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I was discussing cookie recipes recently with a friend, and she mentioned that Chip & Putter Cookies were one of her family's favorites.  I, of course, requested the recipe.  I mean, what a great name!  So she graciously shared the recipe for these delicious peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

"Chip & Putter" Cookies (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 ounce dark chocolate chips (or any flavor chocolate chips that you like!)

Stir flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Blend in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover and refrigerate dough for at least three hours or overnight.  Shape into large balls (around two tablespoons) and place on parchment paper on air-bake cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees approximately 14 minutes or until light brown and center is just set.  Let rest on baking sheet several minutes before removing to wire rack to cool.

Megan's notes:  The original recipe called for 6 ounces of milk chocolate chips, but I really like dark chocolate.  Nestle makes a dark chocolate chip that is a little bigger, and I like the way it looks in this cookie.  I also upped the amount of chocolate chips because, as far as I'm concerned, you can never have too much chocolate!  I didn't include the salt because I think the peanut butter adds enough salty flavor. Lastly, the original recipe did not call for chilling.  However, I had just gotten some size medium Pampered Chef cookie scoops, and I was itching to try them out.  I knew that in order to keep the cookies from spreading all over, I would need to chill the dough first.  For a smaller cookie, scoop out rounded tablespoons and place on cookie sheet.  Reduce baking time to 10 - 12 minutes.

Looking for other great peanut butter and chocolate recipes?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheerio Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Double Peanut Butter Brownies

Monday, June 3, 2013

Anna's Fifth Birthday

I can't believe that Anna is five already!  I know I say it every year, but where does the time go?  Somehow, when they hit five, they seem so much older than four.  I mean, it's going to be time for kindergarten!

For this cake, I made the inside to look like zebra stripes.  You can find the tutorial here.  Then I simply frosted it with white buttercream frosting and put zebra-striped sugar paper around the sides.  (You can find sugar paper at Walmart.  I used my rotary cutter and ruler to cut it instead of buying the fancy tools in the cake aisle.  Then I used a glass as a template to cut a circle for the top of the cake.)  I piped on some pink stars and added a happy birthday wish, and I was done.  It only took my an hour to put together that morning!  I had used the extra batter from making to cakes to bake up a few cupcakes, so I iced those with pink frosting and used the leftover sugar paper to decorate them.

Best of all, Anna really liked it!

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

I was a little nervous about what the cake would look like on the inside, but it turned out great!

On a final note, one of her favorite presents was a set of high-heeled princess dress-up shoes from Grandpa and Grandma.  We were glad that they bought the pack of three--Anna was happy to share her extra pairs with cousin Aria and sister Lyla!

After all, when it comes down to it, it's all about the shoes!

Anna's Par-tea

When I asked Anna what she would like to do to help celebrate her fifth birthday, she said that she wanted a tea party.  So, once school was out for the summer, that is what we did!  Though it's not my strong suit, I actually managed to do some decorating!  I found some great free printables online.  I used the banner and place cards for our guests.  You can find them here.  I also made some tissue paper flowers.  I was trying to figure out how to hang them without putting pushpins in our ceiling.  My husband and I came up with the idea of hanging them from the ceiling fan blades.

I got out my good china and everything!

When the girls arrived at 10:00 that morning, they all went downstairs to decorate foam crowns.  (I found them at Walmart in the kids' crafts section.)

Then we came upstairs for tea!

I've served my girls tea before.  I've put ice cubes in it so it won't be too hot and put in lots of honey--they still don't really like it.  So I decided instead to simply serve some punch in their tea cups.  I found a really easy recipe on Pinterest--equal parts Sprite and pink lemonade with raspberry sherbet.  It turned out to be a really pretty shade of pink, which pleased the girls from the beginning.  It was also really tasty; I think Anna had four cups of it!  Click here for recipe.

Somehow in my excitement I forgot to take a complete picture of the food table.  Here is a rundown of the menu.  Suffice it to say, since I have been enthralled with cake pops recently, many of the treats were on a stick:

1.  Cake pops
2.  Marshmallow pops
3.  Oreo Rice Krispie Treat Pops
4. Lindt variety pack of chocolate truffles
5.  Cheese and crackers (I tried to get a little something in them besides pure sugar!)
6.  Bisquick No-Roll Sugar Cookies (rolled in pink sugar, of course!)
7.  Cupcake Bites

Needless to say, we had plenty of food!  If I do this again, I think two of the homemade treats would be sufficient.

For the Rice Krispie Treat Pops, I made this recipe and cut the bars into small squares.  I dipped a lollipop stick into melted candy coating and stuck it into the bottom of each treat.  I had to use my hands some to mold it around the stick and make sure it would stay in place.  Then I drizzled them with melted chocolate and pink candy coating.

For the marshmallow pops, I dipped a lollipop sticks in candy coating and placed it about 1/2 inch into the bottom of marshmallows and allowed the candy coating to harden.  Then I placed the marshmallows in the freezer.  I dipped them into pink candy coating and immediately shook sprinkles on them.  They were super easy to make and were probably the girls' favorite treat.

After stuffing them with sugar, I had the girls go back downstairs to color their own tea sets.  You can download the coloring page here.  The girls had a really great time coloring; I was surprised at how long they stuck with it.

Anna, my budding artist, had a particularly good time with her page.  She even went back a few days later to put some final details on it!

At the end of the day, my little girl felt pretty special, and that's what I was going for!

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