Easter Crafting Craziness – Character Eggs

Right now Ms M is totally into Sesame Street and Minions, while N is all about the Ninjas, both the Teenage Mutant Turtle and regular varieties. I searched several different stores and couldn’t find plastic eggs in any of these varieties.

So what’s a mom to do but make some!!! So a little vinyl, some electrical tape, a black sharpie, some googly eyes and I was set!

For Ms M – Both good and evil minions. The purple minions really need some hair, but I haven’t found anything in my stash that I can use yet.

Minion Eggs
Materials

  • Electrical tape for the goggle bands
  • Silver paper attached using terrifically tacky tape and cut using Nestabilities dies
  • Googly eyes attached with E6000 glue
  • Sharpie for the hair and evil minon teeth

For Ms M – Sesame street characters
Sesame Street EggsMaterials:

  • Characters were cut using the Cricut Sesame Street Friends cartridge
  • Black, white, brown, orange, and red vinyl
  • Black sharpie for the eyes and Ernie and Bert’s hair

For N – Some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle EggsMaterials:

  • Masks cut using the Cricut Paper Doll Dress Up cartridge – superhero mask and then welded to some curved shapes for the knot
  • Red, orange, and blue and purple vinyl

For N – Some Standard Ninjas

Ninja Eggs

Materials:

  • Square and 2 circles from Cricut craft room basic welded
  • White vinyl
  • Sharpie to draw eyes and eye brows

I can’t wait to put these in the kids baskets and see their reaction on the “Easter Bunny” knowing just what kind of eggs they wanted.

Posted in Curious Crafts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Crafting Craziness – Homemade Peeps

Earlier this year we made homemade marshmallows, and they were AMAZING! Well I have wanted to try making homemade peeps ever since I saw Martha Stewart do it way back in 2001! Shesh, has it really been that long?! Good grief!

Since the marshmallows turned out so good, and pretty easy, we took the plunge!

We used Martha’s recipe and her technique as well.

We used Pearl Dust to color the sugar. Mr. Steam was very dubious that it would work. But the colors turned out pretty good. I got pink and blue. Then we mixed some of the sugar to make purple.Peeps - Colored sugar
After we made the pipping marshmallow, the Mini-Steams had fun helping, er, clean up.
Peeps - Cleaning the dishesPeeps - Cleaning the dishes
Then while I was piping the peeps they wanted to see how it tasted. So of course I had to oblige! They decided it was even better than squirting Reddi-wip in their mouth.
Peeps - Better than Redi-whip Peeps - Better than Redi-whip

Here are the peeps before eyes. They looked like something out of a Tim Burton movie. Mr Steam thought we should make a stop motion movie and call it Peep-le-juice.Peeps - Before eyes
After the eyes were added they looked better, but still very Burtonesque.

By the way, this is the one place we diverged from Martha’s instructions. I thought it was silly to make a batch royal icing just for about a teaspoon worth of eyes. So I melted some chocolate chips in the microwave and used a toothpick to add the eyes.
Homemade Peeps

I think they are cute though. And definitely worth the effort. They taste sooo much better than store bought.
Homemade PeepsJust ask the Mini-Steams! (And no it wasn’t warm enough here for swimsuits today, but the kids found them while cleaning their rooms and just HAD to wear therm.)

Homemade peeps
References:

Posted in Fantabulous Food | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Easter Crafting Craziness – Egg Ornaments

I love to decorate for the holidays. I have 3 small fake cedar trunk trees that I leave up all year and decorate for the various holidays. It drives Mr. Steam nuts! And now the Mini-Steams have caught the holiday decorating bug. Tee hee!

The kids wanted to decorate their trees for Easter, but I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on Easter ornaments.

At the craft store I found these small plastic eggs 24 for $0.60! So I got one bag for each of the Mini-Steams. They were super simple to make.

  1. Drill a small hole in the end of the each egg
  2. Cut about 7″ of 1/4″ ribbon. I matched the ribbon to the egg color, but you could use all one color.
  3. Tie a square knot in the ribbon
  4. Push the ribbon through the hole. I used a blunt skewer to help push the ribbon through.

DONE! Told you it was easy!!! They didn’t take to long either. It took me about 1 hr to drill and tie all 48 ornaments.

The kids are thrilled with how they turned out.

Egg Ornaments Egg Ornaments

Posted in Curious Crafts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Spicy Chocolate Pots de Creme

So it all started with Mr. Steam wanting me to make him a Schaum Torte for his birthday. So we made one this weekend. No, it wasn’t his birthday. He wanted me to practice to make sure that it turned out right ON his birthday. Sigh.

Well it turns out that it was a good thing we did practice, because the torte did not turn out very well at all. The crust was almost non existent and it was grainy. Blech!

So now I had 9 egg yolks and no dessert for the week. And I had at least 9 more egg yolks to look forward to with my next try for the Schaum Torte.

So I went out and searched for different recipes that used lots of egg yolks. And to my pleasant surprise I found that Pots de Creme use lots of egg yolks! PERFECT!!! I have been wanting to make those for several years.

Then I found a recipe for SPICY Pots de Creme. EVEN BETTER! I have been really wanting to try making a spicy chocolate dessert for almost as long.

20140408-184804.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1 t instant espresso powder
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 T coffee liqueur
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 T superfine sugar (I just ran regular sugar thru my mini food processor)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 deg F.
  2. Start 6 cups of water to boil.
  3. Put the chocolate into a medium heat proof (glass) bowl and set aside.
  4. In a small sauce pan whisk the cream, milk, espresso powder, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a low simmer and leave for 10 min. Then raise the heat to bring to a boil.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the coffee liqueur.
  6. Poor the cream mixture over the chocolate. Let it sit and melt the chocolate.
  7. While the chocolate is melting, whisk the eggs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl until combined. Set aside.
  8. Whisk the chocolate mixture until it is completely combined.
  9. Take 1 cup of the chocolate mixture and slowly pour into the egg mixture. Stirring the eggs the whole time. This will temper the eggs so they don’t scramble from the chocolate.
  10. Pour the eggs in to the larger bowl of chocolate and stir to combine.
  11. Divide the chocolate mixture between 6 ramekins. Put the ramekins in a casserole pan. Pour the boiling water into the casserole pan until it comes half way up the ramekins.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven. The edges should be set, but the centers will still be jiggly. Let the ramekins cool for about 1/2 hr then cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hrs before serving.

I have to tell you that these are HEAVENLY!!!! This is NOT a super sweet dessert. So, if you are a milk chocolate kind of person this may not be the dessert for you. I am a dark chocolate kinda gal. And I LOVE THESE!!!!! They have a VERY strong chocolate flavor. But, man, does the cinnamon really pop! The chili isn’t strong, but its there. I am almost hoping that the next trial of the Schaum Torte fails too, so I can keep making these. Almost.

Posted in Fantabulous Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

All New Method for Quilting!!!!

I am so excited. I was surfing some of my favorite quilting blogs tonight and came across a whole new quilting technique on Alex Anderson’s site. It looks like a lot of fun! What do you think???

 

Posted in Quintisential Quilting | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why I Create

People ask me ALL the time, how do you find time to do all you do – Cooking, crafting, work, kids? I find the time. When I can’t find the time, Mr. Steam finds the time for me. He makes it a priority.

This article on CNN.com explains WHY he and I find the time to do all I do. Creating makes me a happier and calmer person. When I am a happier person work goes better, home goes better, I am better. Mr. Steam already recognized that when I get way stressed out he finds a way to make time for me to craft. The mini-steams are also starting to recognize it.

I don’t need hours a day to feel better. It may just be 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there. It may be planning the next project in my head while driving to work. For me it’s way more important to make sure that I do have cumulative hours in a given week.

I actually find that the more stressed out I am the more I craft. It helps to give me balance.

And actually it is kind of funny, because my response to that question is what the heck do you do with your time if you aren’t crafting? I’d go crazy!

What do you think?

 

Posted in Curious Crafts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Craft Cave – The Ever Evolving Space

A few years ago when M was born I had to move my craft space out of the spare bedroom and turn it into a nursery.

But I had to have a craft space. And the only space that was left in the house was either the dining room or the basement. I wasn’t thrilled about either option. The dining room is the first space you see when you walk in the house and we use it a lot. The basement isn’t finished and is dingy and was a complete MESS.

But, Mr. Steam and my mom did an awesome job getting the space set up for me. Mr. Steam even got me some new HUMONGOUS shelves to hold my fabric stash. I repurposed an L shaped desk as my sewing table. My sewing machine was set up on one leg of the L. My cutting mat was on the corner of the L. And my thread, and notions were on the far leg of the L. I had my grandma’s library table behind my sewing table that I would cover with a heat proof pad so I could press my seams. This was the perfect sewing triangle for me. I could sew, cut, and press all in the same space and had everything in easy reach.

Craft cave version 1I really didn’t like being in the basement.  But, it did have one serious benefit. The other side of the basement was turned in to a play area complete with an indoor swing and slide. There was even room for the kids to ride their bikes. This resulted in me having WAY more crafty time. Because as long as they could see me they were happy to play and leave me to craft.

The space pretty much stayed as you see it above until a year ago when I took the plunge into long arm quilting and bought Millie. We had to do some serious re-arranging to get everything to fit. You can see that things got pretty cramped. There was only just enough room to get around on either side of Millie. And when I wanted to piece it was really hard to use the library table for pressing. But believe me, I had waited 10 years to get Millie and it was worth the sacrifice!

Craft cave version 2
Craft cave version 2
I was happy to work on Millie, but when ever I did any piecing or any paper crafts it seemed the basement exploded. There just weren’t efficient work surfaces or space to get around.

That is until last week. I got a hand-me-down china cabinet and 2 storage cabinets. So Mr. Steam and I rearranged the craft cave a 3rd time. And I LOVE IT! It feels like a whole new space.

The two large cabinets were put behind Millie and offer a TON of storage options. I have diaper boxes that I will either paint or cover in contact paper that are storing different supplies. Behind the glass doors are my current works in progress (WIPs) like the tree skirts and a quilt I want to make M for her birthday (more on that later).

Underneath the glass doors there are these small compartments that are just a little wider than a cookie sheet. Which is perfect, I love using cookie sheets to stage different paper and piecing projects. The cookie sheet helps keep everything laying flat and all together. I can just slide in the cookie sheet in its cubbie when I am done for the day and know that all the little project parts will stay together.

Next to my sewing table I have my Cricut which is perfect, because my sewing table is also my main craft surface. So I can just sit at my table and let the Cricut work away. I have a milk crate with hanging folders to store my scrap pieces. I prefer to leave it out in the open as that encourages me to put the scraps away IMMEDIATELY and it also is easy to get at which encourages me to use the scraps before cutting up new paper.
Craft cave version 3We moved out the huge blonde amoir cabinet and put the china cabinet there. The china cabinet is shallower and narrower than the amoir so it allowed me to move the library table up against the wall. Now I have room again to walk between the table and Millie. And if I need to do piecing work I can just pull it out from the wall a little to use the whole surface for pressing.
Craft cave version 3
I still have a bunch of fabric that needs to get put away. I have ordered some plastic tubs that will stack under Millie. They are the perfect size. They will stack 4 high without interfering with the machine. And they are short enough that I won’t kick them when working from either the front or back of Millie.

All in all I am THRILLED with the new layout. It feels so much bigger and so much brighter. I can’t wait to start working on the next project!

Posted in Curious Crafts, Quintisential Quilting | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Salted Caramel Brownies in a cast iron skillet

Mr. Steam LOVES caramel. And he loves all things cooked in a cast iron skillet. So when I saw this recipe for Salted Carmel Brownies in a cast iron skillet I couldn’t pass it up!!!

I have to tell you that these are the best brownies I have ever had. The cast iron makes them super crunchy on the sides. The caramel made them crunchy on the top. And they we moist and fudgy in the middle. I am pretty sure that Mr. Steam is going to require that I cook all our desserts in cast iron after this success.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1 1/4 c Dutch processed dark cocoa
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 T instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c chocolate nuggets (or chips)
  • 1 c walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 c salted caramel sauce (recipe at the end)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
  2. Grease a 12″ cast iron pan.
  3. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the sugar and stir for a few minutes until the sugar and butter have combined well.
  4. While the butter is melting, whisk the cocoa, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  5. Remove the butter from the heat and add the cocoa mixture and stir until combined well.
  6. In a small bowl mix the vanilla, eggs, and espresso powder. Mix that into the batter.
  7. Mix the flour, chocolate bits, and nutsin a bowl. The flour will help the chocolate and pecan pieces from sinking to the bottom of the brownies.
  8. Add the flour-chocolate-nuts to the batter and stir until JUST combined.
  9. Pour the batter into the buttered cast iron pan.
  10. Pour about 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce on top of the brownie batter and swirl with a knife.
  11. Bake the brownie for about 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Salted caramel sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1 t fluer de sel (or other finishing salt)
  1. Put the sugar and water into a large sauce pan. Heat over low heat, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Increase the heat to medium and let the sugar get to a medium brown, 350 deg F on a candy thermometer. This will take about 5 – 7 minutes. You will want to swirl the pan a few times. Also, watch the thermometer very closely the difference between yummy and burnt is only a few seconds.
  3. When the temp gets to 350 turn the heat off, stand back and add the cream. The mixture will bubble violently and the caramel will turn solid. Don’t worry. Turn the heat to a simmer and stir for a few minutes and the caramel will melt into the cream.
  4. Add the salt and let come to room temperature.

We served our brownies with some vanilla ice cream and it was divine! We have some single serving skillets (4 to be precise). Next time I am going to use those. That way the crust to fudge ratio should be just about right!

Salted Caramel Skillet Brownie Salted Caramel Skillet Brownie

Posted in Fantabulous Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cranberry Jalapeño BBQ Pork Chops

All four of us love grilled pork chops. And now that Mr. Steam has become a pro at cooking them on the grill, we usually like them with just some simple salt and pepper to let the porky goodness shine through. The trick to a good grilled pork chop is two things.

  1. Instant read thermometer. You want your pork to read about 150 deg F. Then let that chop rest for a 5 minutes under some foil.
  2. Thick cut chops, at least 1 inch. It is very hard to get a thin pork chop to the right cooked temperature. Almost always they will get over cooked on the grill. Save your thin chops for pan frying.

Of course  bone in pork chops will have more flavor and be juicy. But the two steps above will give you juicy tender pork chops every time.

That said, I have been wanting to try some new flavors out on our pork. I am not a fan of store bought BBQ sauces as they are FAR too sweet for me. But I don’t relish the idea of making a home made sauce.

Then I got this jar of Wildtree cranberry jalapeno jelly and had NO CLUE what to do with it.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 thick cut pork chops (bone in or not, your choice)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 c Wildtree cranberry jalapeno jelly or 1/4 c cranberry sauce and 1/4 c hot pepper jelly
  • 1/2 c BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays original)
  • 2 t dried mustard
  1. Bring the pork chops to room temperature and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Mix the jelly, BBQ Sauce and mustard.
  3. Grill the chops for about 5 minutes per side. Brush with the sauce and cook for a few minutes per side.
  4. Check for temperature the chops should be between 145 (med rare) and 150 (med).
  5. Server with the extra sauce. (Be sure you ONLY bush the chops AFTER they are cooked on the outside or you can’t serve the extra sauce.)

Cranberry Jalapeno BBQ Pork ChopsI am sad to find out that Wildtree no longer makes that jelly. So now I am going to have to find regular jalapeno jelly to make this next time.

 

Posted in Fantabulous Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Greek Dinner – Part 3: Lemon and Oregano Chicken

The final part to our Greek dinner is Lemon and oregano chicken. This is a favorite at the Steam house.

When I was a kid we had a family friend that we all called Mr. V. Because no one could pronounce his Greek name correctly. He made THE best ever chicken on the grill. I was so flavorful tons of herbs and lemon. But he would NOT share the recipe. And he always made sure to make the marinade at home so we couldn’t even watch him make it.

After years of trying I have finally gotten close.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lemons juiced (1/2 lemon juice)
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 2 t dried parsley
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1/2 t thyme
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t fresh ground pepper
  • 1 chicken cut up or 4 chicken breasts bone in, skin on
  1. Thoroughly mix of all the ingredients except the chicken and split between 2 gallon zip top bags.
  2. Put split the chicken between the two bags.
  3. Put the bags in a dish (the dish will catch any juices in case the bones poke a hole in the bag) and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
  4. Either grill the chicken until the internal temperature is 165. Or bake in a 350 deg F oven for about 45 min until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165.

Greek Dinner - 3 easy recipes

Posted in Fantabulous Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment