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

7/8/17

Dragonskull Keep


This is one of those pieces of flash fiction that I wrote while figuring out the backstory of a couple of my character's from GOBLIN'S APPRENTICE. It's not perfect, but it isn't supposed to be.

Enjoy!
MAGs


Dragonskull Keep

by
Margaret A. Golla
 

Anger infused every step he took, killing all plant life within a meter radius. Kalen Van’Dar, powerful mage of the Celestian council, a necromancer, had managed to let the one person in the way of his ascending the throne to slip through his fingers.

His plan had been perfect: seduce Queen Deanara with his magic-laced words, take over her mind to control the Celestian Council and conquer Celestia. Simple.

But his greed had cost him. He’d pushed Deanara too hard, and now she’d vanished, along with her goblin mentor, Rhan. Suspected of treason by the council, Van’Dar was on the run. Malvoren elves tracked him even as his ire killed the forest around him.

It was time for an alternate plan.

A calculated grin wreathed his face as he entered a clearing. He sent a thought, “Come to me.” He would disappear, not from Celestia, but from the minds of those who knew him. He must regain control of Dragonskull Keep, his tower and source of his power. It was time to move his pawn into position.

Wind buffeted the air as a griffin landed across the clearing, folded its wings and with big cat grace slinked across to punt its head against Van’Dar’s chest. “Yes, my friend, it is time,” he murmured.

The griffin bowed, allowing Van’Dar to climb on its back in front of its wings. Van’Dar raised his hand, muttered a few words, and sliced it open with his dagger. Blood sprayed across the clearing as the earth churned under the griffin’s claws, mimicking a battle, one that Van’Dar had lost. “To Dragonskull.”

The griffin took to the air carrying its burden willingly. Van’Dar cast another spell to cover their progress with shadows. Malvoren elves would find evidence of the battle, drawing the conclusion that he had been killed and taken away to feed the griffin’s cublets.

They would be wrong.

Once Dragonskull was his again, he would grow his army, influence his followers, and bide his time until war was needed to gain what had almost been his. Soon they approached the rocky promontory overlooking Dragonskull. The griffin backwinged into a soft landing, and bowed low as Van’Dar dismounted.

He placed his hand on the griffin’s head, inches from a beak that could easily savage him. “Thank you, my friend. May the wind always be at your back.” The griffin bowed his head, turned and loped off the rock only to take to the air with a beat on silent wings, disappearing from sight.

Planting his staff, Van’Dar concentrated and mind-spoke to his pawn. “M’kel? It is time.”

M’kel, as he was known by elves in this garrison, woke from a sound sleep. He hated the name, but it wouldn’t do to have his real name—Magyar—spoken. Elves had long memories. They would remember the invasion of his village. The slaughter the elves brought with them and the death they received in return. It was a mystery that only he and Van’Dar knew the answer. Van’Dar had taken him in, taught him, and trained him. If it weren’t for the necromancer, Magyar would have died that day instead of the invaders—Malvoren elves may they be damned forever.

It was time for to repay his debt to Van’Dar. “I am here, Master.”

“Kill everyone in the keep. Kill the guards patrolling the wall. Open the gates. I want to be welcomed into my home by death.”

“It is your will, Master.”

Magyar quietly rolled off the straw mat on the floor, picked up two long knives he had placed next to his bed. Methodically, he walked to each sleeping elf, crossed his blades around their necks and pulled outward, slicing their throats. Blood splattered on his hands and face as it spilled from their severed throats only to be absorbed by the straw they lay on.

Memories of that fateful day returned.

Twenty times he repeated this action. Twenty times he killed Malvoren elves as they slept.

Wall torches threw a low light over the carnage as Magyar looked around. One was missing. Who?

An elf walked into the great hall, adjusting his leggings after a visit to the garderobe. His footsteps faltered as the smell of death caressed his senses. He looked around, spotting the lifeless bodies around the room. His gaze turned to Magyar’s shadowy figure, knives dripping with blood from his murdered comrades.

The elf turned and fled.

“T’rgon!” Magyar snarled as he took chase. If the elf opened the keep’s doors to alert the outside guards, all would be lost. With one blade he snagged T’rgon’s cloak and pulled him close, placing the other blade against the elf’s throat. “It’s not personal, T’rgon,” Magyar whispered into his ear. With a quick swipe, Magyar sliced T’rgon’s throat. Warm blood poured down the body as it dropped to the floor.

Time was of the essence as Magyar methodically walked through the keep, killing the remaining elves, including the cooks and wantons. No one must escape. No one must suspect him of this treachery.

When the keep was silent, Magyar let himself out the great doors. One by one he killed the remaining guards. “It is done, Master.”

“Open the gate. Let the trolls enter.”

Magyar pulled the rope to raise the portcullis. He’d barely begun to raise the gate when it was shoved upward by one of the monster trolls who called Van’Dar master.

Trolls trooped into the keep. The garrison would protect and guard his master as he wove his magic. Now was Magyar’s time to sacrifice for his master’s cause.

Van’Dar strode into the bailey, regal and kingly. Fist over his heart, Magyar bowed. “I serve my master’s needs.”

“Yes. It is time.” Van’Dar caressed Magyar’s cheek before gesturing to three smaller trolls. “Gravely injure him. Do not kill. Play your role well, M’kel, and you will be rewarded.”

 

THE END