Thursday, January 22, 2015

How-To Blow Your Own Mind with Butterfinger Blondies!



I'm not one for repeats but do you remember those Butterfinger Blondies I made for Super Bowl Sunday a few years back? Well, I had a hankering. Whipped up a batch and good lord I forgot how amazing (slash) life-changingly delicious they are! RUN, don't walk, to your kitchen to make this recipe...like immediately! 

BUTTERFINGER BLONDIES
SERVES: 9

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chopped Butterfinger candy bars (about 4 large bars)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9-inch-square baking dish with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
2. Beat the butter and brown sugar in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
3. Turn off the mixer. Add the flour mixture and return the mixer to medium speed until just combined. Beat in 11/2 cups chopped Butterfingers. Spread batter into prepared pan (it will be thick) and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup chopped Butterfingers. Bake about 30 minutes or until golden and mostly set (it's okay if the centers a little giggly, that will solidify when cool and give the Blondies a super gooey, chewy texture). Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from the pan using the parchment, transfer to a cutting board and cut into squares.




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Sunday, January 18, 2015

DIY or Buy It? Modern Ring Cone—Perfect For The Stylish Minimalist Bride! #MrsMaker



Hey there, little ladies! I was so incredibly excited to share our big news with you last week. You know, one of the first things I did was start hunting for a modern ring dish. I needed a safe place to store the sparkles when I'm in the kitchen asap, duh! Gonna be honest, though, I found nothing. 





The ring-storage piece I really loved was this amazing ceramic ring cone by Bailey Doesn't Bark here in Brooklyn. It's totally perfect for a soon-to-be modern, minimalist bride like me. Problem was, it was completely sold out. Fact: Re Jin Lee's handmade pieces are so ridiculous beautiful, they're in high demand! 

Instead of settling for a subpar dish, I just decided to make a ring cone of my own. I admit it's not as gorgeous as something from Bailey Doesn't Bark but it gets the job done. Want to make one, too? Here's a quick video explaining how it's done. My secret: Air-dry clay from Crayol—you can get a tub on Amazon for about $5 (what, what)! Three steps, one afternoon and you're set! 




DIY RING CONE
SUPPLIES: 

Air-dry clay
White paint
Disposable cup
Gloss varnish
Paint brush

1. Mold and roll air-dry clay into a cone shape; let dry as the label directs. 
2. Thin out some white paint with water in a disposable cup. Dip and twirl rind cone in the paint; let dry.
3. Top the ring cone with a final layer of gloss varnish using a paint brush; let dry.


I'm dying to know, where do you store you engagement ring and/or wedding ring? Do you have different spots around the house? xo Erin

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Friday, January 9, 2015

5-Ingredient Mini Smoked Salmon Pizzas—Your Fastest, Fanciest Weeknight Dinner Ever!



Gah! Happy belated New Year to you all. I hope you had an absolutely lovely holiday season—spending time with your family, eating too many cookies, smooching at midnight, all the good stuff!



I'm sorry it's been a while since I posted. A lot has happened since last we spoke. For starters: Boyfriend popped the question (!!!!!!!) and we're engaged xoxo OH. MY. GOD. I cannot wait to marry that guy. I'm still floating and giddy. Guess this means we need to start calling him fiancé on here, huh?



Well, in honor of my new fiancé (still feels weird saying it) I'd love to share one of his fave recipes with you. I needed a quick after-work recipe to make on the eve of his 30th birthday. I was working in the Good Housekeeping test kitchen at the time and our brilliant food director, knowing his love of martinis and smoked fish, suggested I make a fast DIY pizza topped with cold smoked salmon and creme fraiche. SO smart! And such a hit. 




My 5-ingredient take on her recommendation has quickly become a weeknight staple in our home, not to mention a fabulous last-minute recipe for parties and surprise dinner guests. In fact, I just shared the recipe on Freutcake as a no-fuss New Years Eve appetizer. These teeny pizzas are absolutely divine with bubbly! 



One thing to keep in mind, ladies: Red onion + smoked salmon = kiss-killing breath, duh! So do yourself a favor and soak your red onions in cold water for a few minutes to tame their stank and pop a mint before moving on to your smooch session. What!? We're newly engaged! We can't stop smooching! Get on board. Make this pizza. Smooch your own boo, ok? xox




5-INGREDIENT SMOKED SALMON PIZZAS
SERVES: 4 to 6

1 pound pizza dough
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 pound thinly sliced smoked salmon, torn into pieces
Crème fraîche or sour cream
Snipped chives, for topping

PANTRY STAPLES: Olive oil, salt and pepper

1. Put an upside down rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 500˚F—yeah that’s right!

2. Pinch off a small handful of pizza dough, then roll and stretch into 4-to-5-inch circle with the edges slightly thicker than the center; transfer to one large sheet parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough (you may need to work in batches). Put the red onion in a bowl of cold water.

3. Brush pizzas with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Carefully remove the preheated upside-down baking sheet from the oven. Slide the pizzas on the parchment paper onto the baking sheet; return to the oven and bake 5 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. 

4. Top warm crusts with a few dollops of crème fraîche—let it get all melty and yummy! Top with smoked salmon, chives, few pieces of red onion and lots of freshly ground pepper. 



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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

30 Second Craft: DIY Mini Sprinkle Ornaments—Officially The Easiest Christmas Craft EVER!

Sprinkles make everything better. I mean, do remember these tea lights!? Or this manicure!? So obviously my instinct is to spread sprinkles all over our holiday decor this season...


I love starting my day on a creative note by making a super-super-fast craft as soon as I wake up—they're my "Wake & Make" sessions!

This morning I made these speedy DIY Sprinkle Ornaments, so I can confirm that they take just seconds to make! All you need: Sprinkles (duh),  some empty glass ornaments (I had these lying around from last year), some thread, scissors, and a Ziploc bag for mess-free filling.


I'll admit the filling process wasn't quite as mess-free as I had hoped. I think I snipped the corner of my bag too wide (you'll see in the video, below) so be a tad more careful than me. You will need to shake/squeeze out the sprinkles, though, if you go any smaller. Just something to think about.

For this project, I used multicolor nonpareils—cuz they're clearly the best—but you could always swap in another teeny sprinkle. 

For instance, you could do the same craft using sanding sugar in different colors. Maybe red and green for Christmas or another color scheme that compliments your holiday decor. It's a 30 second craft, you can try a few different options!


One word of advice, if you plan on keeping these forever or hanging them in a high-traffic area, I'd recommend gluing down the top of the ornaments. There's no reason why they should come loose but I'm a worrier...and I hate cleaning up spilled sprinkles. 

Could you imagine covering an entire tree with these babies, someone knocking into it and causing a sprinkle explosion!? It's the stuff nightmares are made of. Or dreams. It depends.


 

 
SPRINKLE ORNAMENTS
YOU'LL NEED: - glass ornaments 
- sprinkles
- resealable plastic bag
- scissors
- string

1. Remove the metal tops from my glass ornaments; set aside. 
2. Put the sprinkles in a resealable plastic bag; shake to one corner and twist the bag closed. Snip a small piece from the corner with scissors and "pipe" the sprinkles into the ornaments. 
3. Put the metal tops back on the ornaments. Thread string through the top and tie to hang. 


That's it! How easy is that!? I'm curious—what time of day do you feel the most creative? Are you an AM craft? A midnight maker? I'd love to know! xo -Erin



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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cranberry Sauce Thumbprints for Thanksgiving—Cuz Why Wait 'Till Christmas For Cookies!?



While everyone else is stressing about finally perfecting an un-cracked pumpkin pie, you could be breezing around with the ultimate Thanksgiving treat: Cranberry Sauce Thumbprint Cookies! 

Fact: Everyone loves cookies. And you're going to start baking them for Christmas the day after Turkey Day anyway, so why wait? Make these thumbprints for your family's celebration!


This really is the easiest shortbread cookie recipe ever. We're talking butter, sugar, flour, pinch of salt. That's it! I added almond extract, since that's my favorite holiday cookie flavoring. If you want to leave it out (or use vanilla extract, instead) that's fine, too! 

The difference between these babies and your everyday thumbprints is that I'm using little mountain of canned cranberry sauce in place of jam. I thought it was a good idea but, turns out, it's a great idea! It's sweet-tart and totally perfect. Stick with the jellied stuff for the right consistency. 




If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year and stressing about time, whip up the dough tonight and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to start baking. I'm curious, are you a prep-a-food-few-day-ahead host or do you pull an all-nighter the evening before the big day?




Like I said, this recipe really could not be easier but here's a quick video walking you through it incase you'd like some extra guidance. 

Wait! I almost forgot. Cranberry Sauce. Canned or homemade? Loose or molded? I'm dying to know. Our family does a homemade cranberry mold with yogurt that's out of this world. 


CRANBERRY SAUCE THUMBPRINT COOKIES:
MAKES: about 1 dozen

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt
1 can jellied cranberry sauce, for filling

1.Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone mat. 
2. Beat the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the almond extract and beat until combined. Add the flour all at once and a nice big pinch of salt. Beat on medium-low speed just until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes. 
3. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; make an indent in the center of each with you thumb. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Add a heaping 1/4 teaspoon cranberry sauce to the center of each cookie. Bake until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 




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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Turkey Cheese Balls for Thanksgiving Dinner—Only 5 Ingredients, Totally Make-Ahead!



Thanksgiving is a little over a week away—how did that happen!? What are your plans this year: Are you hosting? Spending it with friends? Going out to a restaurant? I'd love to know! 

For a minute there, I thought we were going to host our 1st Turkey Day in Brooklyn for boyfriend's parents. It would have been a blast—cozy and small with way too much pie—and I planned to make these individual cheese balls as double duty snack/place settings.


You may have noticed, my cheese balls look like turkeys. GAH! Yes, that's correct. I had this idea a few months ago and I couldn't wait for November to arrive so I could share it with you. It's like a miniature T-day meal for your plates when guests arrive. 

Here's the deal: Since hand-shaping turkeys can be time consuming, I'm keeping the actually cheese ball recipe as simple as possible. First, we'll mix some shredded cheddar, hot sauce and parsley into softened cream cheese...









Then we'll roll 'em in Cheeze-It dust. "What's that," you say? Oh just some very finely ground Cheeze-It crackers that'll add another intense, colorful layer of cheesiness to your hilarious turkey cheese balls. No biggie. And seriously, no fuss. 

For live-action instruction and a full turkey-shaping tutorial, I uploaded this video to my YouTube channel for you all. 




Otherwise, let's move right into the recipe. One feature that I love—besides the fact that it's shaped like a teeny, tiny turkey (eeks!)—is that the cheese balls are totally make ahead. You can prepare this Thanksgiving snack up to 2 days ahead; tightly wrap with plastic wrap and stick 'em in the fridge until you're ready to use. I'd let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before guests arrive.




As I said, my recipe is super simple but you can swap in ingredients (or add to it) to tailor it to your personal Thanksgiving style...

  • Want something more Ina-esque? Replace the cheddar with crumbled blue cheese, add a few chopped pecans and snipped chives. 
  • Love a Southern T-Day Feast? Just add chopped pimientos to my original recipe for a Pimiento Cheese Spread variation. Get down with your cheesy self! 












TURKEY CHEESE BALLS
SERVES: 6 to 8

1 (8-ounce) block reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus leaves for serving
2 cups Cheeze-Its 
PANTRY STAPLE: Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Beat the cream cheese, cheddar, hot sauce, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste with a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and combined. 

2. Pulse the Cheeze-Its in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment until very finely ground—almost like dust! Transfer to a shallow bowl. 

3. For each turkey, roll about 1 tablespoon cheese mixture until a flat, oval-ish shape to be the turkey breast. Roll about 1/2 teaspoon each into the legs, then make two little pinches of cheese mixture for the wings. Roll each piece in the Cheeze-It dust and arrange on a small serving plate. Roll two ting balls cheese mixture and place at the ends of the legs to look like bones. Repeat with remaining cheese and Cheeze-It dust.

4. To serve, surrond each cheese ball with a few parsley leaves. Serve with miniature crackers (I used Triscuit Minis because they're the perfect size...and totally amazing). You can make these cheese balls and store in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, up to 2 days ahead of time. 


Leave a comment or send me a Tweet if you try the recipe, I'm dying to know what you think! xoxo - Erin


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

5-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles That Make Sweater Weather That Much Better!


I thought I was over pumpkin, at least for a while. I went a little gourd crazy this year: Pumpkin Panna Cotta, Pom Pom Pumpkins, Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Chorizo. Gah! It's like, put down the can opener girl, right!?

That was until this morning, when I warmed up the last Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffle I had in my freezer from this post I wrote for Freutcake. Could I go another year before making these delightful, just-barely-sweet, perfectly spiced beauties again? Definitely not! I need another batch asap. So my pumpkin craze continues. 



I realized I never shared this recipe with you on F&F and that's a total shame. Let's correct that. The secret ingredient: Pancake-waffle mix! I know, I know..."that's cheating!" No it's not. Everyone needs a little extra help in the morning and it's OK to ask for help. 

In fact, we conducted an official pancake mix taste test in the Good Housekeeping kitchen and the winner (Hungry Jack Buttermilk Mix) and the mix I ended up using for these waffles (Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Mix) both tasted absolutely lovely. And that's science! Enough talking, let's just get to the recipe...

PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE WAFFLES
SERVES: 4

1 cup pancake-waffle mix
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup pumpkin pie filling
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚F. 

2. Whisk the waffle mix and instant espresso powder until combined. Add the pumpkin pie filling, maple syrup and egg. Stir with a spatula until just combined—it’s okay if the batter’s a little lumpy!

3. Preheat a waffle iron and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add one-fourth of the batter and cook until golden brown, then transfer the waffle to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter.





And as always, if you want a little more instruction (or if you just love cool videos) here's a quick how-to number I put together for my YouTube channel. Take a look and please subscribe if you're into it! There's plenty more to see! xo -Erin



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