Sunday, December 22, 2013

Felt-Embellished Sweater Hat

I made this last year for Anna, and I never got a post up.  I used an old sweater of mine, so I felt sort of "thrifty."  Anyway, Anna had it on today, so I had to get a picture of her!

I used the tutorial found here.  I used an existing hat as a pattern.

I simply cut the petals and center for the flower from felt using my pinking shears.  I made a line down the middle of each petal, pinned them in place, and sewed down the line using my machine.  I then folded the circle for the center of the flower to make it stand out a bit and hand-sewed it in place.

This is one of those projects that should be quick and easy, and it actually was!  As a bonus, Anna is still wearing it a year later!

Tiger Butter

This was one of my favorite candies that we would make around Christmas when I was growing up.  It is so easy and delicious.  It combines peanut butter and chocolate, so need I say more?

Tiger Butter

2 pounds almond bark
1 cup peanut butter (you can use smooth or crunchy)
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Grease a 9 by 13 or 10 by 15 inch pan, depending on how thick you want the candy to be.  I usually make it in a 9 by 13 so that it is about an inch thick.  Melt almond bark in microwave or on stove top according to package directions.  Add peanut butter and stir until smooth.  Spread into prepared pan.  Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Let sit for a few minutes or until chips soften and begin to melt.  Use a knife to swirl the chocolate into the candy.  Cool until firm, then cut or break into bit-sized chunks.

Note:  sometimes my chocolate chips don't melt.  When that happens, I just pop the pan into the oven at 300 for 2 minutes and then swirl.
Friday, December 20, 2013

Mason Jar Mini Pies

Our church was preparing care packages for the college students for finals week, and I wanted to make something special to include in them.  I had been wanting to try making pies in mason jars for a long time, so I finally decided to give it a try.  I was inspired by this post here.

First wash 12 four ounce mason jars, lids, and rims and dry.

Then make one recipe of Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust.  Find the recipe here.

Roll out half the dough into a circle and use the ring from your mason jar to cut the tops for your pies.

Then press dough on bottom and up the sides of the mason jars.  Place on a baking sheet.

Fill with filling of choice.  The recipe I was following recommended 1/2 cup pie filling per pie, but I found that I did not need that much.  I made the apple pie filling adapted slightly from Betty Crocker--8 Granny Smith apples, peeled & chopped, 1/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg & cinnamon.  (I had quite a bit of filling leftover.)  I recommend chopping the apples a little smaller than what you would for a regular pie--it makes it simpler to get the filling into the jars.

Place filling in crust and place a small pat of butter on top.  Then press top crust on.  I tried to do make some decorative marks on the sides with a fork, but I found that this dough will not hold the shape.  You can use a decorative stamp to vent the top or just make a couple of slits with a knife.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Then bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes or until browned.

Using hot mitts to handle the jars, wipe the rims with a wet cloth, place flats on top, and screw on the lids.  (I had to push some of the crusts down a little, but it worked fine.)

Let the jars cool.  All of mine ended up sealing.  Label and decorate as desired.  I used muffin liners on top of my jars--thank you Pinterest for the idea!

Here is our "Pearce Pie" label that Maddie drew!

Please keep in mind that these are not shelf stable--they should be consumed within a few days or frozen for later.  There's just something about that little "pop" you get when you break open a sealed jar, though!

I also made up some of these using my County Fair Pie recipe.  For this, only half of the pie dough is needed, because there is no top crust.  I also had plenty of filling with this recipe for 12 mini pies.

I am planning to try this out with pumpkin pies soon, too!  I always have more than enough filling for a 9 inch pie, so this will be a great way to use that extra filling!  Have fun experimenting with this one!

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

We really like this pumpkin bread recipe, but the taste itself is not what makes it perfect.  The thing that makes it perfect is that it uses exactly 1 can of pumpkin!  I can't tell you how many times I have made a recipe that uses one cup pumpkin.  Thinking I will use the remaining 3/4 cup at a later date, I put it in a container in the refrigerator.  Weeks later, I pull out an unidentifiable substance that is covered in mold.  Oops!  Well, no penicillin experiments with this one!  Just throw the whole can in!

Perfect Pumpkin Bread  (adapted from this recipe)

1 15 ounce can pumpkin
2 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup water
2 1/3 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I like white whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon cinnamon & 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans.  Mix canned pumpkin, sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and water in a medium bowl.  In a second bowl, stir together flours, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice.  Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients until just combined (we used a mixer for this).  Pour batter into prepared pans  Bake for 60 - 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 15 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from pans and cool on rack completely.  Enjoy!

Note: If you want to make your own pumpkin pie spice, it's really easy.  I like this blend here.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fudge-Filled Cookie Cutters

I had seen this idea on Pinterest, so when I saw these darling folk star cookies cutters at our local general store, I knew I had to give it a try.

After I washed and dried the cookie cutters, I made up a batch of Grandma's recipe for easy fudge (recipe below).  I sprayed a small glass dish (since I was only making three of these) with cooking spray and also sprayed the insides of the cookie cutters.

I carefully spooned the fudge into the cutters and used the spoon to level it out and make sure that the corners were filled.

Yes, a little will come out of the bottom, but it will clean up easily later.  Then I covered these and refrigerated them overnight.  (The remaining fudge I placed in a greased 8 by 8 inch pan.)

I removed the excess fudge from the bottom and used a paper towel to wipe the outsides of the cookie cutters clean.

Then I placed them in a clear treat bag and tied it up with a raffia bow.  Easy enough.  I originally started with a Christmas-themed treat bag with stripes on it, but then you could not see the shape of the cookie cutter, which I think is what makes this gift special.

Grandma's Easy Fudge

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups coarsely chopped nuts (Grandma used walnuts; I prefer pecans)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine semisweet and butterscotch chips with sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 45 seconds and stir.  Microwave another 45 seconds and then stir until smooth.  Stir in nuts and vanilla.  Pour into greased 9 by 9 inch pan or use to fill greased cookie cutters.  Store in refrigerator.

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