Sunday, April 21, 2013

pom pom coffee filter garland & a celebration!!!

Yesterday we honored our dear friend Megan and her baby-girl-to-be with delicious food, many drinks, sweets, love, and laughter all wrapped up within a fun and festive pom pom garland.

I've always wanted to make this coffee filter garland and when I found out that Megan's baby shower was a lady collaboration, I quickly volunteered myself to be part of the decoration committee.

Pom Pom Coffee Filter Garland
*The more coffee filters you dye, the more you make. Get the picture?*
200 - 600 coffee filters 
food coloring
gardener's twine
a stapler & scissors

Roughly pull apart stacks of 20 filters and set aside. ***No need to separate them individually, just in rough stacks of 20.*** Place a large measuring cup or bowl in the bottom of your sink, fill 1/3 of the way (or less) with water and add a few drops of food coloring to create your favorite color.

Gently place your stack of 20 filters down into the colored water. Once the filter has absorbed the color, remove it and quickly wring out the colored water. To make a two-toned or tie-dye effect, soak the bottom of the filters, remove it from the colored water and set aside in your sink. Quickly add a few drops of food coloring to your existing color to create another color. Red + Blue = Purple. Dip the edges into your new color and hang to dry.

Continue dying your filters and hang them over hangers to dry overnight. ***Only 200 filters are shown here. I dyed 600.***

Once your filters have dried completely, start separating them individually.

15 filters make nice and fluffy pom poms but  20 filters make them even better and fluffier!!! You can colorize your stacks monochromatically or shake it up and mix up your colors.

Take your gardener's twine and tie a simple knot; leaving enough excess for hanging.

Separate your stack of 15/20 in half and using your stapler, staple the knot of twine on the bottom half of your stack.


Replace the other half of your filters on top of your stapled knot and carefully staple the whole thing together.

You can make a long garland with many pom poms or hang vertically with just a couple.

To connect your pom poms together and make a long garland, you'll need to tie another knot of gardner's twine after you've stapled your first stack. The closer the knot, the closer the pom poms. You can decide how far apart you want them.

Continue with your stacks, stapling and knotting. Make sure to leave some long ends for hanging the garland.

After all of your stacks have been stapled, it's time to cut and fluff. Start by cutting each of your stacks with scissors.

Carefully make cuts starting at the outer edges cutting inward. Leave about a 1 - 2-inches in the middle. Try not to cut your twine.

Time to scrunch & fluff!!! Scrunch the ends of the pom pom with your hands. ***I also like scrunching each layer to make them even fluffier!!!***

It also helps by giving them a nice shake too!!!


Baby Elka we can hardly wait to meet you!!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

super easy apple crisp

This super easy apple crisp can be eaten at room temp (or warmed) with yogurt for breakfast, warmed with vanilla ice cream for dessert or if you're like my Dad and I, it can be eaten anytime of the day. 

Super Easy Apple Crisp
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

8 medium apples - peeled & chopped into 1/2 inch cubes  ***I used Fuji apples here. Granny Smith would be great or any combo of baking apples will be just fine. Also if you're using organic apples, skip peeling and just chop***
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats  ***Whole or Quick. I used Quick oats***
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup coconut ***Sweetened or unsweetened. This time I used sweetened***
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter - cold & cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. In an oven-safe baking dish, combine chopped apples and lemon juice to prevent browning. Sprinkle in the corn starch, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Toss so that the apples are thoroughly coated.

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, oats, sliced almonds, coconut, sea salt and cinnamon. Add the butter and with your finger tips pinch the butter pieces into the brown sugar & oat mixture so that it resembles crumbs.

Crumble the crisp topping over the apples.

Bake for 35 -45 minutes or until the top is browned and the apples are soft.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

peanut butter blossoms

Peanut butter blossoms need no introduction to most cookie-eaters. They're usually baked around the Christmas holiday and I really don't know why because what's not to love about peanut butter and chocolate any time of the year?

The poor Hershey's Kiss.....It gets kicked to the candy curb when there are other yummy candies in the candy dish. But these sweet kisses should never go to waste or be forgotten! Peanut butter blossom cookies are easy to make,  pretty to look at, and just darn tasty.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
courtesy of Land O Lakes
makes 4 dozen+ cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar - firmly packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter - softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter ***I used an all-natural and organic peanut butter, but you can use whatever peanut butter you like***
1 large egg - at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup sugar
48+ kisses

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl and with a hand held mixer or your stand mixer, cream butter and both sugars. Add peanut butter and mix until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture in two stages. Scraping down sides of bowl after the first addition of flour.
***If the dough seems too soft, set in frig for 15-30 minutes while you unwrap the chocolate kisses***

Roll small pieces of dough into 1-inch round balls. Roll the balls in the reserved 1/4 cup sugar and place on your prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies for 8 - 10 minutes.

After 8 minutes, the cookies should be puffy and have a crackled top. Immediately after removing from the oven, press a chocolate kiss into the middle of each cookie. Work quickly. Set on a wire rack and to cool completely or enjoy them warm.....

Monday, April 1, 2013

blind baking a pie crust, banana pudding pie, & post easter celebrations

I have been on a baking & blogging hiatus so I thought I'd pack today's post with more than one recipe. Please forgive me, but I've had other things on my "plate" lately. We're not baking a black-eyed pea pie here but blind baking a pie crust. So here it goes.....

PIE CRUST for one single 9-inch pie crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 stick unsalted butter - cold & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup ice cold water

Drop a couple of ice cubes into your water and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add the cold 1/2 inch cubes of butter and cut the butter in with a pastry cutter until the butter pieces resemble small peas. Work fast so that the butter stays cold. Remove the ice cubes from your water and drizzle about half of your water over the flour mixture. With a spatula, work the water around so that the flour mixture gets absorbed. Add the rest of the water and gently work it in. Do not mix. Gently fold.

Dump the mixture out onto a clean surface and gently pinch together the "wet" clumps of dough and set them aside. Sprinkle in a little more water (1/2 - 1 teaspoons) onto the dry bits and gather together. Gently gather the dough together, form it into a ball, press it down slightly into a disk, wrap in plastic and set in the refrigerator for 1 hour (2 hours ideally).

Once the dough has rested and chilled, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface, less than 1/4 inch thick but more than 1/8 in thick. Your crust should be at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan.

Fold the dough into quarters and place the folded point into the middle of the pie pan and gently unfold. Excess dough should be draping over the sides. Fold the excess dough under itself. At this point you could leave it as is, fork the edges down, or with your fingers create a wavy edge.

Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and place your crust into your frig while you preheat your oven to 425°F. Your crust must be completely cold and firm to prevent the sides from shrinking during baking.

Line your cold crust with parchment paper and pour in some pie weights or dried beans. Make sure your parchment paper reaches well above your crust so that it makes it easy to remove later. Press the parchment and beans so that they reach the sides and corners of the crusts. ***Once you've used your dry beans for blind baking they cannot be used for anything else.***

Bake your crust @ 425°F for 20 minutes. Remove your crust from the oven and gently lift out your beans. Lower your oven temperature to 375°F and bake your crust for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Set your baked pie crust onto a rack and let it cool completely.

Banana Pudding Pie
adapted from a few recipes....

BANANA PIE PUDDING makes enough for 1 9-inch pie
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
2 cups milk  ***Whole would be best but I used 2% and it was just fine***
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter - cold and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large bananas - sliced or cut into cubes
1 - 2 tablespoons banana liquor/schnapps (optional) 

1 baked & cooled 9-inch pie crust

In a heavy bottom saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. In a medium bowl whisk your milk and egg yolks. Add to your sugar mixture and mix thoroughly. Cook over medium heat until it thickens and boils, about 5 minutes, while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook pudding for 1 minute, still stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and whisk in cold butter cubes and vanilla extract and banana liquor/schnapps if using. Transfer pudding to a shallow bowl and immediately cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Cool for about 30 minutes.

I chose to cut my bananas into 1/2-inch cubes....

I mixed my cubed bananas with 2/3 of the pudding and poured the mixture into my baked and cooled pie crust.

Spread out the chunky banana pudding and pour the remaining third of pudding over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in your frig for at least 2 - 4 hours before serving.

This pie was consumed so fast that I barely got a pic of it!!! If you celebrated Easter, I hope it was a happy one!!!