Monday, January 23, 2012

pop tarts gone terribly right!

I found a recipe on the Food Network site for homemade toaster pastries that didn't look all that great because whoever created it used shortenning.  Who eats that crap, anyway?  But I liked the idea and came up with a similar recipe made with good old fashioned butter that turned out quite delicious.  So I decided to share it with you.  I'm so very nice, aren't I?

My 5 year old daughter was in charge of taking pictures and she didn't do too bad.  She probably took 4 dozen as she filled up what was left of my SD card, so I had a lot to choose from.

I decided upon strawberry and chocolate toaster pastries and not to toot my own horn, but they're pretty darn good.  (Who am I kidding? I love to toot my own horn; isn't that what blogging is all about?)

Here's the basic recipe:

Pastry dough
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) of cold butter
3/4 c. milk
1 egg plus 2 tbsp. water (whisked together)

In a food processor, pulse together flour, baking powder, salt and butter until butter is incorporated into pea-size and smaller chunks.  Pour into a mixing bowl and add milk.  Stir with a spatula to incorporate.  When it becomes a dough consistency, turn out onto a floured surface.  Roll dough to 1/8 inch or less.  Cut into rectangles measuring 4" by 5".  Add 1-2 tablespoons of preserves, jam or other desired filling to half of the pastry rectangles, spreading to about an inch from the edges.  Brush edges with egg wash and top with another rectangle of dough, making sure to gently press air from the pocket.  Use a fork to seal the edges.  Gently press the top of the pastry to make sure the filling is evenly spread.  Prick the tops with the fork and place on an un-greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes.  They aren't supposed to be brown at all, but I found that the pastry was a little flakier and had a more buttery flavor if they are very slightly golden.

Store them in a ziplock for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month.



this is one of the fillings I used.  YUM!

Hot out of the oven!

This is the other filling...DOUBLE YUM!

Chocolate Filling:
1 bag of Guittard semi sweet chocolate chips
approx. 1/4 c. heavy cream

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Add cream and stir until shiny and smooth.  You're looking for a little thicker than a fondue consistency.  Allow to cool to room temperature before filling pastries.

Optional Icing Glaze (but don't add this unless you're using a toaster oven or until after you've toasted them in a regular toaster or you'll have a mess!):
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk or cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla

I made my icing pink and added red and pink sprinkles.  As I was doing this I thought how cute these would be made into heart shapes for Valentine's day.  I think I might have to make a yummy, flaky, chocolate-filled, heart-shaped breakfast in a few weeks.  YUM!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Llama Llama Red Pajama

I have the exciting privilege to be a part of the world premier of the stage musical Llama Llama Red Pajama at Stages Theatre Company.  It's a clever adaptation of Dewdney's adorable childrens book that follows the plight of 6 individual baby llamas and their adventures in bedtime drama.  Each mama llama is trying to get chores done and relax a little while her baby llama doesn't want to go to sleep.

The show opened on January 13, 2012 and runs for 5 weeks.  If you are local and interested in attending, you can find information on the Stages Theater's website here.  I would say that it's geared towards children under age 8, but there's enough action and humor in it to keep most kids and adults interested too.  And if you're a mom, you can identify with a lot of it...just like in the book!

So for openning night, I made a little treat for the cast party.  This one has a special place in my heart because I get to be a part of the production.

There are 6 baby llamas and 6 mama llamas in the show and each has it's own distinct personality and interests.

There are 6 baby llama in red pajamas...

one baby llama who loves to read.

a tap dancing llama

a drama llama actress

a golfing baby llama

a soccer llama

a llama magician 

and their mamas...a gardener, a yoga instructor, a clean freak, a dancer, a trumpet player and a very pregnant llama mama.

We had a great opening and are looking forward to a very fun run!  Come out to see this book on stage!

Llama Llama Red Pajama
by Anna Dewdney
Adaptation written by Jennifer Kirkeby
Music by Shirley Mier
Directed by Sandy Boren-Barrett


Saturday, January 7, 2012

a tractor and a drunk cow

I've often given my friend Shanna crap because she doesn't say "no."  She emails me and complains about the stressful situations she's gotten into because she won't turn clients away.  Not to worry, she dishes it back to me.  She's much busier than I am with her cake making business, but she's been doing it longer.  She's my inspiration, my cookbook and my mentor, via Facebook.  She's really quite amazing.  It's not that I look for opportunities to outshine her (OK, yes I do), but for some reason I take on projects to which I should be saying "no."

Now that the cake turned out to my liking, I can openly admit that I should have said, "I don't have a clue how to do that, so go somewhere else" to my last client who wanted a copy of a Cletrac Crawler tractor for her father's birthday cake.  But I'm too proud to say "I can't."  Instead I said, "Sure! I can do that for you!"

I emailed Shanna for support, "A TRACTOR CAKE? WHAT DID I JUST AGREE TO?!!"  She was very sweet and supported and started by advising me to join the Can't Say No Anonymous support group and ended with a sarcastic "good luck."  I think I could actually hear her snickering under her breath in the email.  I took it as a challenge.

So, I got a little information and a picture or two from my very sweet client and went to work.  She said that "Rug" is a rather simple farmer who loves his tractor, his black Angus cows and his beer.  He also loves grilling - and it made me want to grill up a big juicy Porterhouse.

Here's the cake, complete with strategically placed mud and a lager-drinking Angus (betcha can't say that fast 10 times) I have to admit, this was a very fun cake to make and I'm pretty darn impressed with myself, if I do say so...and I do.

Let the being impressed with me commence.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

from trash to laundry

I found a project idea on Pinterest and decided to give it a go, but I wanted mine to be better.  Of course, I want mine to be better.  My theme song is "Anything you can do, I can do better."  Not because I really can, but it motivates me.  Ok, yes, I CAN do anything least in my head.

I bought a couple wicker laundry hampers a few years ago and they lasted about 2 years...but I've been using them for about 4.  The sticks keep breaking off and coming loose and I think the lid of the one I've been using most only covers about 3/4 of the top now as it continues to un-weave itself.

The project involves painting a basic galvanized trash can and put a fabric collar around it.  Of course, I didn't want just a collar around the outside, I wanted a full fabric liner that I could remove to wash and that would protect the laundry from any rough edges that may be lingering in the metal can.  So that's what I did.

I measured around the top and bottom of the can to get the dimensions of the liner.  There are two seams lengthwise.  I traced around the bottom of the can for the bottom of the liner.  For the decorative collar, I measured twice the length I wanted to fold over plus a few extra inches for the inside.  It's self lined and I added a band of elastic around the under side of collar.  The collar is also a couple extra inches in width to make sure it fit around the outside.

I decided to not do a tutorial, simply because it takes too long.  And if you sew regularly, you'll be able to figure it out.  If you don't sew, you won't attempt it anyway, so there you go.

Spray painting in the winter is a bit of a challenge, but I got it done in two coats with two cans.  I did it in my garage, much to my man's dismay as I left an aqua blue dust covering the garage and most of it's contents.

So there it is.  More projects to come.  I've got a busy January and you'll be hearing all about it.