12/15/17

Homemade Caramel Sauce

Another totally easy recipe to make. All it takes are the ingredients and some patience . . . and your family with think you are a GOD.
Yeah, it's that good. 
 

Homemade Caramel Sauce


½ cup water
1 ¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In medium-sized sauce pan, combine water, sugar and salt over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Slightly increase heat, simmer and swirl mixture until color resembles the color of honey, about 6 minutes. When sugar mixture turns medium amber, add cream and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly until mixture is 225 F on digital candy thermometer, or about 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract and transfer to heat safe container.


Tips & Tricks:

·            The hard part of making caramel (or any sugar based candy: brittle, toffee, hard caramels) is waiting for the color to change. . . and as soon as you think you can walk away . . .

                  It. Will. Burn.

·            Ignore the crap about using a wet pastry brush to wash down sides of pan. Which is why I left that part off the instructions.  Just stir or swirl to heat the sugar droplets into mixture again.

·            I placed my first batch of sauce in a candy squirt bottle. It didn’t have a meltdown.

·            With my second batch, I used a Kerr jelly jar with a fresh lid to heat seal. It sealed with a pop when the caramel cooled down enough.

·            It will thicken as it cools.

·            Store it in the fridge for up to a month.

·            It is freaking delish on ice cream, pies, cakes, or a finger. . .  just saying.

 

11/17/17

Foodie Friday -- Pumpkin Streusel Bread

My first Foodie Friday recipe after a long break.
I had some leftover canned pumpkin and needed to find a way to use it. This recipe is the result.
And it was polished off quite quickly!

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Streusel Bread


 

Streusel:

¾ cup chopped walnuts
2 T butter
2-3 T sugar
1 T flour
1 t. cinnamon

Mix well, using fingers to break butter into tiny pieces.


Pumpkin batter:

1 2/3 cup flour
1 ½ cup sugar
1 t. baking soda
¼ t. baking powder
¾ t. salt
½ t. ground cloves
½ t. nutmeg
½ t. cinnamon
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup pure pumpkin
½ cup water

Sift dry ingredients together. Add eggs, oil, pumpkin and water. Beat well. Pour ½ of batter into greased and floured* loaf pan, sprinkle with ½ of streusel mixture. Swirl with knife. Add remaining batter and sprinkle remaining streusel on top. Bake at 325 degrees F. for about 1 hour 20 minutes, or until top springs back. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out of pan and cool completely.

Tips and Tricks:

·         I’ve become a HUGE fan of parchment paper, especially since my loaf pans are the “folded” kind, which means you can never get the corners completely clean.

·         Measure parchment and fold neatly so it fits the bottom of the pan. Flatten the corner edges and staple them into shape Repeat for all corners.

·         I did spray a little Pam on the paper, but probably didn’t need to.

·         Feel free to make more streusel. I only had ¾ cup of walnuts, so I had to make due.

·         To deepen the flavor of the streusel use brown sugar—dark brown sugar will give the deepest flavor.

·         Yes, sift the dry ingredients. I have a battery operated sifter, but any type of mesh wire sieve will work. Use a spoon to work the flour mixture through the sieve.

·         If you don’t have all the spices, you could probably make due with McCormick’s pumpkin pie spice. It has ginger and allspice along with the above ingredients.

·         I had to use about ½ cup of pumpkin from a 15 oz. can for a different recipe and this was what I had left. The original recipe called for only 1 cup. If you add more pumpkin (like the entire can) you might want to cut back on the water.

·         I used the convection oven setting for this recipe. I wanted more circulation around the pan due to the longer time in the oven.

·         After removing the bread from the pan, I let it cool for a little longer before removing the parchment paper so the bread could cool completely

 

11/15/17

Afghan

While I have less yarn in my stash (only one blue tub) compared to most crocheters and knitters, it was time to thin out my stash.

READ: save money, but fulfilling the need to keep my hands busy to keep from going crazy.

How does one get a yarn stash?

Well, sometimes it's because you crochet tighter than the gauge for the project resulting in extra yarn. Or the bigger the project the greater the chance of erring on the side of too much yarn, especially when one is trying to keep a particular colored lot number.  Or you calculate 1 1/4 skein of yarn for a particular project, which means you have to buy 2 skeins.

Over time, extra yarn builds up. Luckily, I tend to like certain colors that work well together. Unless I happen to crochet a baby afghan there will not be any pastel colors in my stash. I do have some odd leftover yarns: a red from making a  couple of 'shark' hats, and camo from a baby hat and booties.

Yes, I have made this pattern before. Many times. The dark flower is a deep purple, not black. These gloomy days don't provide adequate lighting to take a picture. I added another row of seven which made 42 squares for this afghan. Finished size 54 x 64 inches.


10/31/17

Foodie Friday Links Active!

I finished linking and verifying all my Foodie Friday recipe links.

Some recipes will appear in two different places. For example, Flemings mac and cheese, appears under Pasta Entrees and Sides. While it is served as a side at the restaurant, we tend to eat it as our main meal. HELLO, HEART ATTACK! Yep, it's that rich . . . and that good.

Or there might be multiple recipes that might seem like a duplicate, but they aren't. For example: Chili.

I really enjoyed linking these recipes because it gave me a chance to remember some forgotten recipes, along with remembering the people and stories that go along with them.

Please flip through the selection and enjoy!

MAG's

10/25/17

Cake Pops 101


The other day I wandered into Starbucks for my freebie coffee and spotted their glass case of food.

Did you know they sell cake pops for $3 each? Or 2 for $5?

Really? Crazy pricing, but people pay.

Selection of my decorated cake pops

Anybody can make cake pops. This was my first time. It isn't hard. Time consuming, yes. Hard, no. All you need are the ingredients and decorating supplies.

Allow at least one day to make the pops. They can keep on the counter for a day or two, or in the fridge for up to 5 days. I sent them with the hubby to work to get them out of the house.

For the cake balls (Walmart):
Boxed cake mix
Tub of icing

Decorating supplies (Michaels) in the candy/cake section:
Styrofoam form (I used a 12-in square form, 2-in deep)
Treat sticks
assorted colors of white melting chocolate (white, black, dk green, red, orange, yellow, neon green, orchid, etc)
sanding sugars (black, orange, white)
candy eyes
candy bones
assorted nonpareils (the wee black and orange balls)
and whatever else strikes your fancy. If you want to bag them individually, then you need small plastic goodie bags and some black and orange curling ribbon to tie around the stick.

How to make a cake pop:
No pictures. Sorry.
I didn't think about blogging until AFTER I finished cleaning up the cake pop mess.

Start with the center of the pop, I opted for chocolate cake and chocolate icing.

Bake the cake according to the directions. I made the 13 X 9 size. Cool. Crumble cake into large bowl. Add icing (start with 1/2 can) and fold until mixture comes together. I used almost the entire icing tub, except for a couple tablespoons. Using a 1 1/4-in. cookie scoop, scoop rounded ball of cake and roll into a ball.

This is where you need to decide if you want to make any shapes other than balls. I made Frankenstein into a rectangle. The tombstone has a rounded top and is fairly flat. I did put ridges in the pumpkins, but it didn't make a difference, though I did make an indent in the top and flattened the ball a little. Make triangles if you want a candy corn, or cone if you want to do a witches hat. Or whatever floats your boat.

Note: do NOT roll the balls too tightly. It will bite you in the butt later when the chocolate-dipped balls dry and crack open. It appears to be random, but prepare to do a little 'doctoring' of the wounded cake balls.

Place balls on parchment lined cookie sheet that can fit into your refrigerator. Repeat until all of cake mixture is used. I ended up with 65 balls. Chill balls.

Time to get your workspace organized.
  1. Pre poke holes in Styrofoam--allow enough space for the wet pops to dry. Place parchment/waxed paper over Styrofoam form to catch drips, and the occasional Oopsie where the cake ball falls off the stick. Use toothpicks to hold paper in place over foam and poke into pre poked holes in foam.
  2. Disposable plastic cups (16-18 oz) to melt chocolate wafers. Fill cup 3/4 full of wafers to equal about 1/2 cup melted chocolate.
  3. Cut large cups in half if you don't have small cups to hold sanding sugars, nonpareils, eyes and bones . . . and whatever else you want to use to decorate.
  4. Waxed paper covering your workspace. Easy clean-up for drips and to set your chocolate dipped cauldrons to dry.
  5. Snack-sized Ziploc baggies to melt chocolate wafers for decorating. Put about 10 wafers in baggie. Melt the chocolate in the microwave about a minute. Squish to make sure wafers are melted. Cut off tiny bit of one bottom corner of baggie. Squeeze to decorate.
  6. Whipping cream--use a tiny bit if chocolate is too thick to dip into. Some of the colored chocolate doesn't melt quite right. If you don't have cream, add a little bit of melted vegetable shortening. Mix well.
Dip tip of treat stick in chocolate--what color depends on your preferences and what you are making. Poke chocolate coated end 2/3 into cake ball. Refrigerate. This will help adhere the cake ball to the stick. Work a couple of balls at a time, leaving the rest in the fridge. Dip cake ball into melted chocolate, completely coating it. Spin between fingers in cup to remove excess chocolate. Turn upright and continue twisting to smooth chocolate. Place in Styrofoam holder to dry. Repeat.

 *The cake pops that look too perfect to be true are made with FONDANT, NOT dipping chocolate.*

Use the plethora of Internet pictures for ideas. Here is what I did:

Mummy--white chocolate base coat. Let dry. Add a neon swathe and place eyes. Dry. Use Ziploc baggie of white chocolate to make bandages. Dry.

Frankenstein--dark green base coat. While wet, dip top into black sanding sugar, add eyes, and jab bones into neck. Dry. Add mouth and eyebrows. Cover cracks with black 'scars'.

Tombstone--White chocolate base. Dry. Dark green for grass. Dry. Black for RIP and add cracks to tombstone.

Jack Skellington/ghosts--White chocolate base. Dry. Black face. Dry.

Pumpkin/Jack-o-Lantern--Orange chocolate base. Sprinkle with orange sanding sugar. Dry. Add dark green chocolate stem and vine AND/OR black Jack-o-lantern expression.

Nonpareils--Dip in desired color. After excess chocolate is removed, add eyes and roll in cup of nonpareils. Dry.

Cauldron--Dark chocolate base. Tap off chocolate (need excess chocolate to form rim of cauldron). Place on waxed paper with stick in air. Dry. Add 'flames'. Red, orange and yellow. Dry. Turn over. Don't worry if the chocolate comes off the cake ball. Blob neon, or purple, or dark green into cauldron. Add eyes, bones, excess bits of colored chocolate (red, yellow, orange, etc), a few nonpareils and a touch of sanding sugar. Dry.

By the end of the day, I was beat and just dipped the last few cake balls into yellow chocolate for a moon effect. After they dried, I drew a bat or a witch riding a broom. I also used the green and orchid chocolate for monsters (the ugly cake balls) and added random eyes. I tried making a Dracula, but it didn't work out, but he tasted good! Oh, and I made a legless spider (I didn't have any licorice legs!) Dipped him in dark chocolate added eyes and rolled him in black sanding sugar.

And there you have it--Cake Pops 101.

Have fun creating!

Margaret






8/11/17

Broken Links

All links on this blog are currently broken. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Contacts link--updated
Homemade Candy--updated
Works in Progress--updated
Crocheted Afghans--updated
Goblin's Apprentice--in progress
Mystic Legacy--
Foodie Friday
Weighty Wednesday
Writing 101

If you want a recipe, please email me at Margaret.golla@gmail.com with your request. 

8/10/17

Big Steps and Lil' Uns

Back home from vaca!

We did our yearly migration to the summer hell hole called Flo-rida. The beach at Ft. Lauderdale was nice and relaxing. Walt Disney World was hideously crowded, but fun. And Universal was awesome, but MUST HAVE an Express Pass if you go in summer!

I had high hopes that I would have at least one day with over 30,000 steps, but the closest I got was 26,000 steps. *sigh* Oh, well. You couldn't walk three steps without having to jog around people suddenly stopping or having a family conference in the middle of the walking area. And shuffling in the lines doesn't constitute "walking steps".

Massive amounts of humanity crowding in a finite location with 95% humidity with 90+ degree days equals UGH! The issue was the same at Universal, though there were far fewer strollers that were used as battering rams.

Speaking of strollers, Disney should outlaw them in their stores. It's bad enough to miss time one's shopping and have to deal with serious crowds, but then having ankles rammed and feet run over just made it irritation.

Highlights:
    • The Flight of the Banshee in Animal Kingdom was AWESOME!! The Ikran you sit on (it's like a motorcycle seat with handles to hold onto) actually breaths, and your legs feel it use its wings.
    • We managed to score THREE extra fast passes one day. FIRST TIME EVER!
    • Managed to get off the monorail and enter the Magic Kingdom right when the 3 PM parade was coming around the corner. Parked ourselves on the steps of City Hall. I think they kick people off this location prior to the parade, but we just lucked out with our timing.
    • Butterbeer ice cream is hands down the best thing ever!
    • And if you do go to Universal get the park-to-park pass (Hogwarts train experience is different both ways). AND if you are there in the summer, find some way to budget an Express Pass into your budget. We still had to wait in lines, but there were far shorter lines than the regular standby line.
We have very long, very active days while on vacation. A Golla vacation isn't successful unless your feet bleed! Mine didn't, but the others weren't so lucky . . . or in condition.

Later!

MAGs