12/31/13

Cute Edible Horns for New Year's





Feeling a little bit guilty that I don't have a New Year's post up today.  Why?  Well, I'm going to celebrate the new year by sleeping through it!  I don't have little kids anymore so my teens to twenties all celebrate in their own ways.  My husband is actually working until about 11:00 tonight so my big plans are to head to bed with a book around 9:30 or 10:00 and hopefully sleep through the midnight revelries.  

So what is this post about?  It's about a fun, cute and easy idea for you to make for your own party, or with your kiddos!  Since I'm not making any goodies tonight, this one comes to you from Hungry Happenings where you can see the tutorial showing how to make these yummies for your own crew tonight.

Happy New Year!




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Never boil lasagna noodles again. No Boil Pasta Lasagna - Think how EASY lasagna is to make now!


Although our family loves lasagna and I make it every couple months, I haven't boiled lasagna noodles in over fifteen years.

Back when I had three little ones under the age of 5, I learned a 'trick' to whipping up a pan of lasagna quickly and easily.  This made a huge difference in how often I'd throw together a pan of lasagna for dinner.  Eliminating the need to boil the pasta before layering the ingredients took this dish from a 30 minute prep time to about 5 minutes.

Instead of boiling the noodles before layering, you steam them in the pan while baking.

The photo on the left is the pan of lasagna layered and ready to go into the oven to bake for an hour after I do one more step.

See the turquoise glass on the edge of the picture?  There's the time-saver.

Water.

Layer your favorite lasagna recipe (whether or not you line your pans with foil is up to you.  I do for easier clean up) and just before baking, pour in about a cup of water all around the edge of your pan.

I don't measure, I just use a coffee cup, small glass or similar and pour in about 1 cup of water more or less.  I would say I error on the side of a little 'more' than less and sometimes it might be 1 1/4 cup but 1 cup is about right.  Now, using a piece of foil, completely cover the top of your lasagna pan, turning the foil under the edges and squeezing it to stay in place and form a seal.  Bake as usual per your recipe; usually 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees.  As your lasagna bakes, the noodles will cook.  Remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking and return to oven if you want to brown the top to a golden color.  Proceed as usual with letting your lasagna rest for 5-10 minutes to let it set up for easier cutting and serving.


 Ready to seal the top with foil and bake.


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12/27/13

Gateau Bon Bons (Yum! Almond Paste filled Cookies!)



http://www.housewifebarbie.com/2012/12/gateau-bon-bons.html


A rounded little cookie with a yummy surprise in the center;  almond paste!  Think; marzipan.  I love anything almond so of course these are a favorite of mine as well.  In the past I've dipped them in red, green and left white.  This year I did just dark green, with candy sprinkles and a drizzle of glitter icing. 


Gateau Bon Bons

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c butter, soft
1/3 c powdered sugar
2 T milk
1 t vanilla
4 oz. almond paste

Almond Glaze:

1 c powdered sugar
1/2 t almond extract
drops of food color to make yellow, green, blue, purple or pink
4 t milk - mix all until blended smooth


Heat oven to 375. Beat flour, butter, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla on medium until mixed well. Slice almond paste into 1/2 inch slices and then cut each slice into fourths. Shape one inch balls of dough around each bit of almond paste. Roll into a nice ball shape. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until they are set and the bottom is just starting to get golden. Remove to a rack and cool completely. Dip the tops of the cooled cookie into the almond glaze. Let set to harden or sprinkle decorator sprinkles or sugar on top if you wish when the icing is still wet.









This is two examples of what almond paste looks like;
    

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12/16/13

Homemade Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeyes but I covered the 'eye')





If you've read my blog around the holidays before, you may already know that I hate making chocolate dipped... anything.  I find it a mind numbing, boring process and usually end up finding creative ways to make the food item into something 'else' that doesn't involve dipping. Like... when I made peanut butter 'patties' in 2008 instead of balls because they were just that much faster to dip!



Or when I got even lazier and poured a layer of chocolate, topped it with the peanut butter center, spread smooth and poured on another layer of chocolate before cutting them because this way I didn't have to dip anything!


But this year... I did it.  I did the dip.  That's how much I love my family.  And yes... they were thrilled.  And many were 'snitched' before dipping, during dipping and after dipping.  I didn't mind though!  I'm just happy they are so appreciative of my baking.


Peanut Butter Balls or Buckeyes

1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/4 c real butter, room temperature
3/4 - 1 t vanilla extract
2 c powdered sugar
1 c semisweet chocolate chips mixed with 1 c milk chocolate chips**
1 T shortening or paraffin

Mix the butter, peanut butter and vanilla; add the powdered sugar and blend.  Form into 1" balls and chill or freeze.  Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave or stove, double boiler method until smooth, stirring regularly. Dip the balls, one at a time into the chocolate. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Refrigerate until firm.  I melted a little bit of white chocolate to drizzle on top and placed them in mini cupcake liners as 75% of these will be going on a goody tray for my husbands place of employment. 

*Note:  to make balls, dip all the way and cover any holes or marks with a bit of melted chocolate to seal.  If making traditional buckeyes, you dip 3/4 of the way but leave the small peanut butter circle showing on top to resemble the Buckeye seed from the Buckeye tree.

**You can also use chocolate almond bark or chocolate wafer candies instead of chocolate chips.  Use what you have local or what you like to work with best.











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A Cookie a Day Until Christmas... Glittery Snowflake Cookies

http://www.housewifebarbie.com/p/blog-page_2.html



Snapped a picture on my phone as I was starting to decorate the glittery snowflake cookies this weekend.  You can find the recipes on my Cookie a Day Til Christmas page or search for recipes in the search box to the right.









You might be interested in edible, food grade glitter:

     





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Quick and Easy Cabbage Salad




Although it's the holiday season and I want to keep Christmas cookies and baking in the 'top slot' of my page, there are other recipes I've made and like well enough to store in my blog-files for my kids to use as well as my own quick future reference.  You can still easily search for hundreds of cookie recipes using the search to the right - or the "Cookie a Day" link above.

This however, is a good old fashioned recipe for an alternative cabbage salad when you don't want to make the usual coleslaw with a mayonnaise based dressing.  I used a 1/2 head of fresh cabbage I had in the refrigerator I wanted to use up, but if you opt for a store bought bag of cabbage that is fine too of course.  I love this simple salad.  I had it for lunch and with my dinner for 2 days in a row!




Cabbage Salad

1/2 head cabbage
1 small onion (I like to use 1/2 of a large 'sweet' yellow onion as they are more mild)
3 T oil of your choice
2 T sugar or sugar substitute
3 whole carrots
3 sticks celery
2 T vinegar
A few cranks of fresh cracked black pepper - optional

Grate the vegetables or put them all through your processor.  Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and chill for at least 2 hours to let the flavors mix. If you use a bagged, pre-shredded cabbage mix, obviously just dump it in the bowl - don't run it through your processor as it will become mush.



Quick and easy to run everything through the processor


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12/4/13

A Cookie a Day Til Christmas: Melted Snowman Cookies





A Cookie A Day 'Til Christmas Link HERE.


How do you tackle the holiday baking when you bake for an average of 100 people?   Baby Steps!  (And a big freezer!).

Today I made homemade fondant and rolled the little heads that will be used for my Melted Snowman Cookies. SO cute and they are always a hit with people.  I have 2 dozen cookie recipes and photos here:  A COOKIE A DAY TIL CHRISTMAS.












You might be interested in this TOY kitchen Melissa and Doug playset for the "littles' or cookie pans or cutters!
     




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11/30/13

A Cookie A Day Until Christmas!







http://www.housewifebarbie.com/p/blog-page_2.html


A Cookie A Day 'Til Christmas Link HERE.




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11/29/13

Use up that leftover turkey! Turkey Pot Pie




You can see how flaky and tender the biscuit crust is!

A recipe I started making in 1996 and haven't found we like better yet to date.  A great way to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!  I will make this and then freeze the rest of the leftover turkey to make something in about 2 weeks.  We aren't big turkey fans so too much turkey within a week or two is just too much!  This recipe however is 'gobbled' up immediately.  (Sorry, couldn't resist). 


Turkey Pot Pie

1 10 oz. package mixed carrots and pea's (or assorted veggies)
1/4 c butter
5 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t poultry seasoning or sage
1/8 t pepper
2 c chicken or turkey stock (or use 2 cups water and 2-3 boullion cubes)
1 c milk
3 c leftover cooked and diced chicken or turkey
1/3 c chopped onion or 4 green onions, chopped and cooked tender in a bit of water
1 c cooked and diced potatoes (or use canned or dice and cook them with the onions)


Prepare the pea's and carrots (or mixed veggies). I like to cook them in the microwave while I prepare the rest. Melt butter in saucepan. Blend in flour, salt, poultry seasoning or sage, and pepper. Gradually add stock and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and smooth. Add vegetables, turkey and cooked onions and potatoes. Pour into a greased shallow baking dish. Make a biscuit topping and top the vegetable mixture. Bake at 425 degree's for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. About 6 servings.

Biscuit Topping;

Mix
1 1/3 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Cut in
2 T butter
3 T shortening

Add 1/2 c milk (scant) and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. If it's too wet and sticky add one or two more tablespoons of flour. Pat down on a lightly floured surface and roll out to the shape of your baking dish. If you prefer you can cut into wedges or squares and simply top the vegetable mixture that way too. (Up to you!).




The hot vegetable mixture
before the biscuit topping is put on

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11/22/13

3 Layer Pumpkin Bars - (sugar free option available)





This time of year I crave pumpkin.  Cinnamon and spice infused pumpkin... anything.  Breads, bars, pound cakes, pancakes, lattes...   Last night I decided I really needed to use up the 1/2 can of pumpkin I had leftover in the refrigerator from another recipe.  I decided on these bars because I had a random yellow cake mix in the pantry as well as a 2nd can of pumpkin.  It comes together so quickly because you bake all three layers at the same time.

I made my version sugar free since my cake mix was sugar free and I used Ideal Brown Sugar Substitute for the filling and Just Like Sugar for the white sugar in the topping.  I will link to those products at the end of the recipe if you are interested.  Otherwise, this is just another 'Grandma' style recipe from the heartland of the USA where I grew up!


Triple Layer Pumpkin Bars

Bottom:
1 yellow cake mix, divided. Save 1 cup out for top.
1/2 c real butter
1 egg

Filling:
2 eggs
3/4 c milk
20 oz. pumpkin
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla - liquid or powder
2 t pumpkin pie spices

Topping:
1 cup of the dry cake mix reserved from bottom layer
1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 c butter

Combine the bottom layer ingredients; dry cake mix, butter and egg.  Press into a 9X13" pan or the equivalent sized pan.  I used 10X10.  Mix together the filling ingredients by hand, whisk or electric.  When blended smooth spread over the bottom layer.  Mix together the reserved 1 cup dry cake mix with the sugar, cinnamon and butter.  When crumbly, sprinkle over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  Cool completely and preferably chill before cutting. 




Press the bottom layer in a pan


Add the filling on top


Make the crumble topping

 
Ready to go into the oven to bake

You might be interested in sugar free products;

          





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11/21/13

For Thanksgiving or Christmas; a bright and beautiful (and yummy) salad - Spinach Salad with Craisins and Feta






This is a re-post regular readers might remember, but I'm reposting not only because it's one of my favorite side salads, but hello... it is Thanksgiving next week and wouldn't be this be a beautiful salad option for the meal!?  I think so but maybe that is my love (and craving) of feta cheese and the crunch of the almonds in this dish.  It's an obvious favorite for Christmas as well with the festive and brilliant red and greens!


Spinach Salad with Craisins and Feta

1 package or desired amount of fresh baby spinach leaves
Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/2 c Craisins (**or consider other flavored of dried berries!  I've used pomegranates and fresh strawberries in the past) 
Balsamic dressing of your choice (original, creamy, raspberry, pomegranate, etc.)
Pecans or toasted, sugared almonds, chopped

*other dried fruits - consider blueberry, pomegranate, cherry (or cranberry w/ cherry)

Start with a bowl or serving plate of desired amount of spinach leaves.  Sprinkle on feta and dried fruit and nuts according to how it looks and how much you desire.   See my photo above for the amounts that I like to add.   Just before serving drizzle with the dressing. 



Start with with fresh spinach

   

To quickly make sugared almonds, add about a 1/2 cup sugar to 1 cup chopped almonds in a medium hot pan



Stir the almonds continuously while cooking until the sugar melts and caramelizes

Place the almonds on buttered foil and break apart and let cool



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Too many hours in the sun as a teen: My product review of Lancome DreamTone

This post sponsored in part by Lancome and SheSpeaks for the complimentary Lancôme DreamTone face cream, given to me to try and review. All opinions are honest and are mine.



Although I don't wear heavy makeup and don't go for a dramatic effect, I do wear daily makeup to enhance as well as cover my uneven skin tone gained from too many hours spent in the sun during the 1980's with only a bottle of baby oil between me and that golden ball in the sky that would give me 'really dark tan'.    It was because of my skin tone flaws I jumped at the chance to try a product called Lancôme DreamTone.  A serum specially formulated to reduce the appearance of dark spots, uneven skin tone and color imperfections. It comes in 3 lightly-tinted serums formulated to visibly correct dark spots, color imperfections and give  a more even-looking skin tone.  1- Fair, 2 – Medium, 3 – Dark. 

From their own product information and testing the results were promising;

The results:

IMMEDIATELY:
• 74% saw glowing skin*

7 DAYS:
• 70% noticed a more even skin tone*

4 WEEKS:
• 69% saw the appearance of dark spots reduced*

8 WEEKS:
• 78% saw color imperfections reduced* 

*All results based on global self-assessments of women of multiple ethnicities in an 8-week study. 72% reflects 8 weeks of use.



After using the product for a month, I would love to say I am one of the 69% of people who have seen glowing skin and radiant results after 4 weeks.  But... I haven't.

The directions state:  For best results, apply the product twice per day, in the morning and evening under your moisturizer.

After a month of using the product, you can see my cheeks still have splotches of uneven tone and I have dark sun freckles by my eye.

The product is packaged beautifully, lightly scented and easy to use with my daily moisturizer so I'm going to to continue to use the product as directed for another month or until it runs out.  72% of the respondents reported favorable results with 8 weeks of use.  Because I enjoy the product, I'm happy to continue use and hopefully will see an improvement over the next couple weeks.

If you are interested in giving Lancôme DreamTone a try, it retails for $98 for a 1.3 fluid ounce bottle and is available for purchase at Lancôme.com and department stores nationwide.



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