Birthdays Make Me Crafty

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you already know how I feel about birthdays. To sum up for the new kids: I like them a lot. (example, example, example)

I had a string of birthdays recently, and it brought out the craftier side of me that apparently had been napping for the past couple of months. I love a good craft project so I sort of ran with it. It started with my gal L’s birthday. I had planned a specific project for her birthday since it was a milestone year and I was going to visit her in San Fran (read about it here). My plan was to make a scrapbook of her birthday weekend. I prepped the book prior to leaving for the trip and the plan was that I would run to the store, print out the pics, glue’em in (I brought some supplies with me) and I would give it to the birthday girl just before we all left. It was a flawed plan. We were jamming in super fun activities until the moment we left for the airport. So I had to finish it when I got home and mail it instead.

A book to remember our magical weekend gallivanting all over San Fran together and celebrating birthdays.

A book to remember our magical weekend gallivanting all over San Fran together and celebrating birthdays.

Not too long after that came two back to back birthdays. First was one of my best buds C. Second came my co-worker R. I attempted to try something cool for C that I had seen on the internet, and Pinterest, a millions times. An ombre layer cake in a mason jar. All I can say about this endeavor is that it was horrible lol. EPIC PINTEREST FAIL.

UGH...started off decently with the ombre cupcakes. But look at this shizzzz. HORRIBLE.

UGH…started off decently with the ombre cupcakes. But look at this shizzzz. HORRIBLE.

Ugh. Just looking at the picture annoys me. I couldn’t possibly give this monstrosity to C. It ended up in a mushed pile on my counter that was later eaten by my roommate.

I ended up admitting defeat on the whole ombre thing and making a mason jar cake instead. I filled it with some nutella as an added perk. To make it extra special (and because I turned into an unstoppable craft machine for like 2 weeks) I printed out tiny pics of us from our years of friendship and made a little photo-tree topper for the cake.

Apparently we are incapable of making attractive faces.

Apparently we are incapable of making attractive faces.

As you know, I love a good theme. As it happens, my coworker R shares my love of Doctor Who…so it struck me with the idea of making her some Doctor Who cupcakes for her special day. Basically it gave me an excuse to craft and indulge my nerdiness.

The Doctor Who Gang

The Doctor Who Gang

I printed small pictures of each of major characters from the new reboot of the series, including a 3D Tardis so that I could use them as cupcake toppers.

I used my awesome little cupcake screw thingy and filled them with some Tardis blue buttercream icing (recipe from my Gram…thanks Gram).

I got this little tool from some weird Chinese overstock website I found 2 Christmases ago

I got this little tool from some weird Chinese overstock website I found 2 Christmases ago. Icing piped in with my super sophisticated ziplock bag.

Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and blue buttercream filling

Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and blue buttercream filling

All in all, the birthday crafting went over really well. Everyone seemed pretty pleased with their birthday surprises.

Also, if you’re interested in making the white cake the recipe is super simple:

-1.5 c flour
-1 c sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 c milk
-1 3/4 tsp baking powder
-vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Add everything else. Bake for 20-30 mins at 350.

 

Fact: I Love Awards Shows.

Fun fact about me: I love award shows. I pretty much love all of them (except the Grammys…that’s not my jam). And guess what was just on?!…The Golden Globes. Of all the award shows the Golden Globes are my fave…it combines everyone worth seeing. TV stars: check. Movie stars: check check. Random musicians: they got’em (I’m looking at you TSwift).

I love the red carpet,

Those ladies, those dresses…THAT FACE! I LOVE IT!

I love the celebrities,

This is definitely one of the greatest moments of any awards show ever

I love the audience reaction shots

Goop is NOT entertained you guys….

…I love all of it.

So obviously I needed to gather than gang to watch this biz last weekend. Plus, its Tina and Amy; how can you NOT watch when they’re hosting?

I decided to make some golden globes for the golden globes….do you see what I did there?…such a clever girl. I decided to whip up some home made cream puffs…also some chips and dip and sangria because…well every party needs a beverage.

Party Punch!

Party Punch! check out this super simple recipe!

But back to the cream puffs. So for Christmas my Gram got me an electric cookie press (poorly named because it does soooo much more than make cookies). Said cookie press makes things like cheese crackers, cream puff, cookies, it frosts cupcakes and fills cream puffs…that kind of thing.

This beast is so much more than a cookie press....

This beast is so much more than a cookie press….

I’ll be honest, it did not go smoothly. Making the puffs themselves is actually pretty simple…except I messed it all up almost immediately. I misread the recipe and like tripled the flour…which incidentally was exactly how much flour I had at the time, meaning I had to RUN to the store for more and restart the dough.

The press came with a little recipe booklet with some decent recipes in it…which is where I got the recipe for the puffs.

Combine 4 Tbs butter and 1/2 c. water in a pan.  Take off heat and add 1/2 c flour. Mix it up until it cools. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time until smooth (like a thick cake batter).

Combine 4 Tbs butter and 1/2 c. water in a pan. Take off heat and add 1/2 c flour. Mix it up until it cools. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time until smooth (like a thick cake batter). Use the press (or spoons) to make 2 inch-ish blobs on your parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  

I had a few issues. The recipe have the wrong baking temperature…so my puffs deflated a bit (womp womp). You need to preheat the oven to 500F, then turn the heat OFF and put the puffs into the hot over for 10 mins. Then turn the heat up to 375 for about another 20 mins.

The primary issue I had was with the press itself. The design of this thing is ridiculous. It’s VERY difficult to fill the press with only yourself…1. it leaks out the tip 2. you have to either put the press in between your legs or (as my gram suggested) use a cup to hold it while you fill it. To me, this is a MAJOR flaw because the time and frustration it took for me to get the first batch of puffs in the over was insane. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ this sh**.

See what a mess this is?! You can see how much leaks out the bottom.

See what a mess this is?! You can see how much leaks out the bottom.

I swear I called my gram no less than 3 times that fateful Sunday when I undertook these globes. I want to love this press but we’re going to have to get to know each other better before I attempt to make anything again.

To make the filling I simply used a box of vanilla instant pudding (made with 1/2 c less milk) mixed with some homemade whipped cream.

To make the filling I simply used a box of vanilla instant pudding (made with 1/2 c less milk) mixed with some homemade whipped cream.

Golden GlobesAll the stress and frustration paid off though, because they tasted like actual cream puffs. And we were able to have our very own golden globes while watching the Golden Globes 🙂

See ya next year ladies.

Salad Time

So when I go to the gym I typically go straight from work. This means that when I’m done working it all out I still have dinner to deal with. There are few things as frustrating as going to the gym and busting your butt only to immediately ruin all your hard work by chomping on a hamburger or some other crappy-type food. So the other night, C and I made an awesome post-gym dinner. Grilled Chicken Salad with Poppy-seed Dressing.

 

Mmmm...strawberries are always a welcome a to my salads

Mmmm…strawberries are always a welcome a to my salads

We put lots of yummy things into our salad to make it awesome enough for us.

Grilling up the chicken

Grilling up the chicken

C spiced up the chicken with some herbs and spices and grilled em’ up nice.

Spinach, strawberries, avocado, and cucmber

Spinach, strawberries, avocado, and cucumber…almost done!

While I was helping assemble the salad, C was busy making the chicken and whipping up some dressing.

 

Here's what you'll need.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Poppy-seed Dressing:

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon diced onion
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil (we used olive oil)
1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Looks good right?!

Looks good right?!

After the dressing was done, we sliced up the chicken, sliced up a little cheese, and sat down to EAT!

ain't she a beauty?

ain’t she a beauty?

This is one meal you can feel happy about eating after a work-out. So good!

 

Meat and Po’tater Casserole

When you read the title, imagine it with a southern accent…because that’s how I hear it haha…

So last week I went over to a friends house and we whipped up a tasty meal. She had found a recipe for Meat and Potato Casserole online so we figured it was worth a try. We did however make a few changes….namely that we used sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes.

Its actually pretty simple to prepare and doesn’t cost a fortune to put together…so clearly I’m a fan. I WILL however point out some key things that you’ll likely miss if, like me, you read and prepare one step at a time.

Meat and Potato Casserole

Ingredients

  • 4 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • Minced fresh parsley, optional

Now before you read ahead, Note: YOU COOK THE POTATOES FIRST. After you peel, slice, and butter’em up you have to bake them for about 20 minutes! We sort of missed that part and it set us back time-wise so I thought I would tell you guys up front.

Directions

  • Toss potatoes with butter and salt; arrange on the bottom and up the sides of a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Sprinkle beef and corn over potatoes. Combine the soup, milk, garlic powder, pepper, onion and 1/2 cup cheese; pour over beef mixture.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

It was super yummy and you can spice it up by adding other spices or veggies. And it all totally holds up when you take it for lunch the next day!

Note for vegetarians: This recipe can totally work with meat substitutes like lentils and soy-fake meat (sorry I can’t remember the actual name)

On an unrelated note: Its holiday fair season! woohoo! I can not express how much I love a good fair/yard sale. I happened to get a MAJOR steal when I went with my fam the other weekend! I got this AMAZING crystal cut punch bowl set complete with 12 glasses and stand bowl for….wait for it…..SIX DOLLARS. I basically died. I love it so much and CAN NOT wait to use it!

Punch Bowl Set!

 

How have the rest of fared at these fairs?…see what I did there…college money well spent.