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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Zucchini Muffins - Pinterest Success

Sneaking green veggies into the kids, and they don't even know it!
Score one point for mama!

     I love when I have a Pinterest success. I really do. I love it even more, when it's something good for my kiddos. I saw a PIN for Zucchini Bread Muffins. I've had Zucchini bread before, but never tried to make it myself. After I read the recipe, I knew I could do this. Very simple ingredients, very simple recipe, and very yummy muffins. However, don't answer the telephone when you're measuring and pouring - you might add too much baking soda ;)

Ingredients gathered:

Zucchini prepped and ready for steaming.

 Steaming zucchinis!!


Well, two zucchinis pureed made 1 1/2 cups.
The recipe called for 2 cups. None the less, it still came out good.
No, really, it did. 

The batter, all dried ingredients & 
wet ingredients mixed together.
Can't tell it has something GREEN & healthy in it!!




The end result.
I actually took a FINAL picture, 
can you believe it? 


     The muffins came out moist and sweet. As soon as the man came home he ate one, and said it was delicious. (biased opinion) I was slightly hesitant to try one, because I knew I had put a tad bit too much baking soda. That's what happens when you answer the telephone while measuring. Who better to be my guinea pig than my other half right? Then the true taste tester came home. The tweenage girl child, who would DIE if anything green touched her lips! She ate THREE! After the third one, not consecutively, I broke down and told her it had a special ingredient. She refused to believe me. When I told her what the secret was she said, "Well you better do that more often mom!" WOW! If that's the only way I can get her to consume green food, then so be it. Another PIN success in the books!

<3 One happy mama!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Panda Cake Pops - Success..... sort of

     Damn you Pinterest! Damn you, for sparking creativity and making it look easy. I'm sure everyone who Pins, has seen the cutest ever panda cake pops. 

Panda Cake Pops 
     Seriously, aren't these just absolutely ADORABLE? Yeah, well they SUCK to make. My cousin's son was turning two, and his mom wanted a panda theme. She had made a Facebook post, asking around if anyone knew anyone that could make these cake pops. And of course, I volunteered. Glutton for punishment? I have no idea. I have a love for baking, and love a great challenge. However, I wasn't aware just how challenged I would be on this adventure.

     The link takes you to Bakerella's web page.  Usually, Pinterest pins take you to a blogger's site and you get instructions. NOT THIS ONE. You have to buy the book. I'm sure a person could just "wing it" and try to do it on their own, however I'm not THAT person. I like directions, I like reading, and I could totally benefit from purchasing the $8.00 book. Since I had to purchase the book, I will not reveal every step to making cake pops. Seriously, it's $8 for the ebook, and I'm sure there are copyright laws or something to that effect.

     This project took TWO l-o-n-g days. Again, not what I was expecting. I have a cake pop maker, you know the cute one that looks like a waffle iron? It's fun to use, my daughter and I played with it at Christmas time. However at that time, we just used it to make the little cake balls, and didn't dip them in the melted chocolate/candy, or put them on a stick. So, I tried the magic cake pop maker. WHOMP WHOMP! That was a total freakin' bust. The pops were TINY, and just didn't come out right. Then I knew it was time to refer to the book. I read the book, like seriously READ the book, and made the cake balls they way they were supposed to be made. It made a HUGE difference, and tasted oh so much better. 

My handmade cake balls 
Chocolate of course
I should have taken a picture of the horrendous previously made cake balls,
 and again, I didn't take a picture. Duh me
Cake balls stabbed, and prepped for dipping

Ghetto double boiler.
 I just haven't had time to find my real double boiler.

Dipped and drying.
 I made the ears out of fondant,
 and applied them to the balls before 
the melted chocolate hardened. 
 That nifty little cake pop stand I purchased came in quite handy. However, next time I'm sticking to a foam block. The holes in the stand were too close together and it made it a little harder to place pops in without touching other pops. Also, the sticks went straight through the bottom of the stand, leveling them on the counter top. If I tried to lift the stand the balls would fall to the top of the first disk. Not fun!

Pretty easy stuff, so far.

And now the fun part....
Decorating the faces of the adorable little pandas. 
      The book made the decorating part seem quite easy. It wasn't. I couldn't find the sprinkles necessary ANYWHERE! I went to multiple stores: Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Target, HEB (local grocery store), and AGS Cake Supplies. All no to avail. The one and only item the author used, that I was able to find was an edible food writer/marker. Aaaaaaaand it totally SUCKED!!! The marker would not write on the chocolate, it reminded me of writing on Easter eggs with the white crayon. You know, the waxy film that protected the egg shell from being colored, how it bunched up and left little waxy reminants. The marker would just not color. I was pretty miffed. Only to find out later, while at a cake shop that, "yeah, the Wilton's markers tend to clog easily". Geez, thank you for allowing me to completely waste $8.

Failed attempt #1 - drawing Panda face with edible marker

Failed Attempt #2 - Eyes made of fondant, and painted with edible marker. 
Painted nose and mouth with food gel

Failed Attempt #3 - Eyes made of fondant, and painted with edible marker
Painted nose and mouth with food gel

Semi successful attempt #4 - Piped on face with Royal Icing. 
I piped icing on the face, and shaped it 
with a fine tipped paint brush. 
Once the icing dried, I painted over it with the food gel.

After the Royal Icing set, and I finished painting all of the faces and ears (32 total pops), I applied a small dot of white royal icing for the eye, then painted the dot for the iris with the food gel.
 Again, the food marker failed me.
So this little sucker was the end result. A completely hand painted panda face. 
I was very very satisfied with the result.  

I was going to individually wrap the pops, but as you can see, the black gel smudged.

I ended up putting the pops on foam. 
I cut a round foam ball in half, and glued them to a paper plate.
I cut tissue paper into little squares, and shoved them into the foam
to add a little somethin' to the look. Actually, my 11 year old
daughter did one ball, I did the other.

     Again, I failed to take a final picture. This project literally took two days. I was exhausted and so frustrated throughout the entire process. But in the end, I LOVED my beautiful creations. Everyone else loved the cake pops, and it was funny to see mouths turn black from the painted gel. My best compliment was from my aunt, who NEVER eats sweets. She said they were so good, she had to eat two. That really made me proud. I most definitely will continue to make cake pops, but I will NEVER again do one that is this detailed. Lesson learned. Actually, many lessons learned.

Keep Calm and Bake on!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pin...wha??? How do you use pinterest?

I had a few friends ask me how to use Pinterest, and what is an easier way to explain than in pictures?? I love love love PicMonkey to help create picture masterpieces. These are NOT masterpieces, but I will post a blog about a baby shower invitation I "made" using PicMonkey. It's like having paint shop, without paying out the wazoo for a program. And seriously, I think I'm becoming a blogging junkie. Any excuse to blog, I do. :)

So my friends, here's how you participate in my guilty pleasure...... it's addicting, beware!!

Once you log in, you should be taken to this page. When you find a PIN you like, hover over the picture and you will see the three buttons: REPIN, LIKE, COMMENT. Simply click which button tickles your fancy.

 If you click REPIN, a window like this will pop up. Select the board (category) you would like to PIN this to.

 Once you have selected a board, "Pin" it!
 I love pinterest so much, because it's like an online "hope chest". I can find things I like online and group them all together in one place. It's easy to access and so much better than having a MILLION bookmarks on your browser.

Now, if you are surfing the 'net and see something you'd like to save, you can PIN it! You  need to install the PIN button on your browser bar. Somewhere in your account settings you can do this.

In this example I googled "Chore charts".
I found the site I liked, and opened it up.  Along my browser bar, I have a "Pin It" button. If you've found what you like, PIN it.
 Another screen will pop up, that allows you to choose which thumbnail you would like to use for your pin. Select the thumbnail you like, then click the "Pin It" that hovers over the picture.
 Finally, this screen will pop up. Use the drop down arrow, to select the board you would like to pin to. Add a brief description or whatever, and PIN IT.

TADA! That's about as clear as mud right? HAPPY PINNING!!! :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Crock pot chicken wings - PinFail

Well........ It was bound to happen, right? A Pinterest fail. It wasn't an epic failure, but I was slightly disappointed. (Why can't my computer auto correct like my iPhone or iPad?) Today, Aaron was on-call, so going out to eat was down the drain. I had a bag of chicken wings ("Little Chickens" the boys call 'em) and decided to try a new pin. I grabbed my iPad, searched on Pinterest, and found a recipe that called for stuff I already had on hand. Today was definitely NOT a grocery shopping day. I found this.The picture was taste bud friendly, seriously. Take a look. It was simple, had very few ingredients, and took no time at all.                                                                  *Sigh* 

So here we go:
Little Chickens
Soy Sauce
Green Onions (I grow my own, comes in very handy!)
*Ginger - the only ingredient I left out because I never buy it, and never cook with it

 I always, prep my chicken by washing it thoroughly in cold water. I don't know why. It's just something my mother always told me to do. Korean women, we will NEVER understand their logic. But no matter the case, whenever I'm about to cook chicken, I can hear my mother saying, "You gotta washing the chickens real good. Making sure all bloods is gone." (Of course in her accent). So I do. After I washed them I cut them. I separate the drumette from the wingette (yeah, I totally googled it), and throw away the wing tip. The little claw on the end just grosses me out.
 I threw all the ingredients in the crock pot, as directed, sans ginger. 

The recipe said to cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. Well, 5 hours later I had this mess. Don't get me wrong, it smelled absolutely incredible. However, it was extremely visually unappealing.  It was soupy and I had chicken bits floating around. My concoction is the top picture. The misleading picture is below. See the fail?
Crock Pot Chicken Wings. Photo by kiwidutch 
The flavor was not as expected. It was slightly tasteless. I served it with a side of steamed white rice and green beans. The man thought it was good. The boys said it was good, but again I was pretty dissatisfied with the turn out. Next time, I think I'll play with the ingredients add more honey and or soy sauce and definitely more garlic. Needless to say, I will NOT be recommending this recipe to anyone.

Thanks for reading!! :) 
Little chickens OUT!

Pulled pork - Pinterest success

The other day, my daughter asked me what "Pulled pork" was. I gave her my best description and she asked if I could make it. Naturally, I turned to Pinterest for a recipe. I found this recipe and gave it my best shot. This blogger used diet soda, and due to my sensitivity to aspartame I used a regular soda. Dr. Pepper, because that's what was in the fridge. And, it rocks. I also used a different seasoned salt. Our good friend's family makes all kinds of seasonings, sauces and jerky; so we always have some of Krenek's Bohemian All Purpose Seasoning. (They don't have a website, but some of their stuff can be found here)
This was a very simple recipe and it came out great. A little salty, less seasoning next time.  But the meat was extremely tender and juicy. The man gave it two thumbs up. The girl child said it was delicious. And they boys, well, they're boys and not so picky. I can never get an unbiased verdict from them.

The Ingredients:

Generously coat the pork with all purpose seasoning. Although, next time I'll use less

 Add half the bottle of soda (6 oz). And half a bottle of bar-b-que sauce. This family LOVES Sweet Baby Rays, and I just happened to have a full bottle at home.

Cook on LOW setting, in crock pot for 4-5 hours. Or until the internal meat temperature reaches at least 160* .

I could have SWORN I took an after picture. But alas, I cannot find one. It is possible, I completely forgot to take one with the chaos that always ensues at dinner time. Dinner time for four kids and a grown man (sometimes), can be quite the challenge. I served the pulled pork in different ways. One child wanted a sandwich, one wanted an open faced sandwich, one wanted it with a slice of bread on the side, and one just wanted the meat - no bread; with a side of homemade coleslaw and grilled corn on the cob. Dinner was a success.

Thanks Pinterest, for another success story!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Baby Shower Pinning (part 2) - Motor Cycle Diaper "Cake"

Another SUCCESS!!!

After lots, and lots, and LOTS of pinning, I found an awesome twist on the over done diaper cake. A DIAPER MOTORCYCLE! Super adorable, and super easy. Truly a wonderful gift for a mother to be. Sadly, the original pin lead to an website. I had to find a tutorial to help me out. This blogger did an AMAZING job. I just followed all of her steps.

The Supplies: (I don't know why the picture loaded sideways, sorry)
          * Pampers Swaddlers Size 1 (40 pack, but you only need 34) - $9.49
          * Baby bottle - $5.49
          * Receiving blankets (only need 2, but this pack of 4 matched my theme) - $9.99
          * Bibs (only need 2, but this pack of 3 matched my theme) - $8.99
          * Infant socks - $1.00
          * Ribbon - $2.00 (on sale)
          * Rubber bands - $0.50
Supplies I had at home and needed:
         * 8" cake pan
         * paper towel roll (see I did need it after all)
         * pins

I followed her instructions to the T. Her steps were broken down easily, clearly, and in lay man's terms. 
It was a bit tricky getting the diapers to line up, just right, but I got it.
I didn't take pictures of EVERY SINGLE step, because I feel if anyone wants to do this, they can click on the original link. She totally gets the credit for this incredible idea.

TADA!!! My creation completed! Sans stuffed animal. It's not very easy to find a dinosaur plush.
I am just TICKLED at how it came out.
I had some left over supplies, so I made a diaper bouquet topped with Oreo pops for the mom to be.

Baby shower decor complete. The beautiful corsage was not made by me. I cheated, and ordered it online from a wonderful little Etsy shop. Check her out!!! 

So that makes two Pinterest ideas completed in one day, and both were a success!!! 
My kids want to keep the motorcycle, they don't want me to give it to my friend. LoL. My love couldn't stop praising my good work. And I can't stop patting myself on the back. I'm so glad there are other alternatives to the "diaper cake". Next.... I'll try the Diaper Carriage or Diaper Airplane.

G'night ya'll!

Baby Shower Pinning (part 1) - Oreo Pops


I'm happy to say, my part won. :)
The other day Aaron found a paper towel roll, and asked why I hadn't thrown it away. I simply said, "What if I find a craft or project I need it for?"
To which he replied, with a hint of an eye roll,  "A pinerest thing?"
Well guess what! I needed and used that paper towel roll today. So there!!!

I am co-hosting a baby shower for a dear dear childhood friend. Tomorrow. So of course, I had to get everything done (started) today. All of my ideas originated from Pinerest, and they were all a success. Albeit, a few mishaps here and there, but it's a learning process.

On the baby shower crafting menu:

          * Oreo cookie pops. Original pin found here.

          * Motorcycle baby shower cake. Original pin found here.

                          Baby shower 

First time making them, so it was a little tricky trying to figure out what is a good technique. I googled and googled, looking for advice/tips/hints. They all helped tremendously. However, once you start doing the deed, it's really just trial and error.

My supplies:

Family sized Double Stuffed Oreo Cookies $3.99
Foam boards $3.99
Wilton Pops Decorating Stand $3.99
Spool of ribbon $1.00
Lollipop sticks $2.49
Candy melts (1 lb) $7.49
Blue sugar $3.49
On Hand At Home:
Double boiler
Parchment paper

First, I started the double boiler. Fill the bottom pot halfway with water. Bring to boil, set to simmer. Add top pot. Add candy chips. Stir. Pretty simple.
While I waited for the chips to melt, I lined a cookie tray with foil. Then, separated the cookies.
 Once the candy chips melted, I dipped the lollipop stick in the candy. Once I dipped the sick, I placed it dead center on the cream side of the cookie. Next, I took the cookie top and pushed it on top of the stick, into the Oreo cream.

 I tried sandwiching the cookie with just my hands, and ended up with a broken cookie top. 
See below....
 Turns out, leaving the bigger part of the cookie (cream sided) on a flat surface - then placing stick centered onto cream - the pushing cookie top over the stick- was the best way to do this. This was keeping the cookies from cracking. It pushed the stick into the cream and spread the melted candy between the cream and cookie.

So..... somewhere between putting cookies together and decorating them, I forgot to take pictures. Or was so involved and messy, my camera was the last thing on my mind. Oops.

Anyhow, once I placed the stick in each cookie, I put them all in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. I read, on one of the million sites, that this helps the candy adhere and gives you less chance of the cookie sliding off the stick into the melted candy. It's true.

Then the dipping. (All the while, continue stirring the melted candy every so often). So, I tried many different "dipping" techniques. Half cookie.... Whole cookie.... Spoon melted candy over cookie...... They all worked well. The trick is to have the melted candy at the PERFECT consistency. The candy alone melts into a thick glob of grossness. To thin it out, add 1 teaspoon of shortening. (So says the millions of websites). I just cut little pieces, the size of a finger nail, and stirred until I got the consistency I thought was good. More often than not, I was wrong! The correct consistency is when you put a metal spoon (I used the one I was stirring with) in the melted candy and it coats in a pretty (yes, I seriously mean pretty looking) coat. If there is too much shortening, you can see a thin oily layer drip off the spoon. When that happens, just add more candy chips. If the melted candy is too thick, it will make clumps.
After 10 wasted cookies, and not a single one lost into the melted candy, I FINALLY got it down. I wanted to play around with it, so some were fully coated and some only half coated. Once I coated the cookies, I immediately sprinkled the blue sugar onto the hot candy. Then placed it on a cooled cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. When the cookie sheet was full, I put it in the fridge and let the cookies cool for no less than 15 minutes. (The cake pop stand was a complete bust. I'm sure it'll work GREAT for actual cake pops, but not for Oreo pops. That will be tested next week when I make panda cake pops )

After I cooled all the cookies, I tied a ribbon around the stick & shoved them into a foam rectangle. I decorated the rectangle with the same ribbon used in the Motorcycle diaper "cake". End result......


 I had left over diapers and receiving blankets, from the other project, so I made a small bouquet for the mom-to-be.

The very first taste tester was an extremely biased 2 year old Momma's boy. He LOVED them so much he shared with his face, hands, and hair. Then Aaron came home, and was the real taste tester. He ate two. :) I'm pretty pleased with the end result. If there are any tips or tricks anyone cares to share, please help a sister out!