Finally February

It’s finally February! It seems like January just dragged on and on. I apologize for the delay in posts. It’s been a busy week.

The fellow and I made the first batch of mead. It’s sitting in the craft room just  bubbling away. I’m anxious to see if it tastes good, but I’ve got a long while yet to wait.

20170201_045511
Happy little mead jug

Next weekend there is a SCA event, and I’m staying busy getting things in order for it. I have decided that I want to hand-stitch a Viking under dress and an apron dress. I’m moving toward more obtainable period colors (a lot of the fabric and color combinations we use now are a result of our accessibility to colored linen and while they are possibly in period – especially for the wealthy – they were not common), and I want to create some lasting garments. The goal is to have pieces which I can mix and match.

20170201_045446.jpg
All of the tiny stitches!

Right now I’m working on the apron dress (the outer layer) and it’s going well. I know that I cut it a bit small, but I plan to add extra side panels in a looser stitch so that they can be removed when I have a size change.  I hope with some luck to be able to wear it next week, but we will see.

On another note, it seems that love is in the air! I tried to hold out until February, but I put up some Valentine’s Day decorations last weekend. Yesterday I put up the bulletin board at work. I wasn’t sure if it was cheesy, but my team said that it was cute, and dinosaurs never go out of style! What do you think?

20170131_135231

Advertisements

Valentine’s Day Treats

It is a snowy, snowy February. Looks like my new spring wreath did nothing to ward off the snow and ice. We actually were sent home from work early due to freezing rain today. I had to chisel the ice off of my windshield before taking on the perilous journey that is the interstate. Thankfully, I made it home ok.

The managers at work almost always stay late and help people clear their cars off in bad weather, for which I am always so grateful. I’m glad to be home snuggled up under a fuzzy blanket with my warm cuppa tea.

The crab legs and steak turned out ok, but the shrimp didn’t compare to Daddy’s. Oh well, you can’t win them all and two out of three ain’t bad. The fellow’s V Day gift to me is a “pick your own gift” at a hobby store. As Grandpa Alfonse always said, “Anything free is worth saving up for” and crafting supplies are always worth the wait!

Now that V Day is over, I can share with you the gift basket I assembled for him.

My gentleman happens to be a beer snob and that makes gift-giving easier. A four pack of a particular beer that he likes (and has a difficult time getting) was the main gift, and then I threw in some other things to fill out the basket.

When we go on vacation, he always ends up stealing a glass from the house (Again, beer snob. Can’t drink from a bottle). I etched his SCA name on a glass, so that he could have a cheap glass for vacation that wouldn’t get lost. The letters didn’t come out very crisp, but for my purposes I like it.

Along with the glass and the beer, I filled a Dollar Store tub with beef jerky, beer nuts and dry salted peanuts, sunflower seeds, and two alcohol-flavored chocolate bars from Target, one was pale ale- flavored and the other was porter. The chocolates ended up not tasting much like alcohol, but they were a cute addition to the basket, and everyone loves chocolate!

Also, I wanted to share a picture of the mini-cheesecakes. The tart pans worked great!

IMG_20160215_192423.jpg

yuuuumy!

Cupid is a Knavish Lad

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This is one of those holidays that I love because I get to just enjoy the holiday. Major holidays carry an incredible amount of stress for me, enough that I dread November and December. I love the minor holidays because I get to bake fun-themed cookies and meals and have parties. I can decorate and bust out my hot glue gun and do crafts and put together fun little presents.

This Valentine’s Day hasn’t been a let-down. I’ve got the fellow’s gift basket all put together and the table set. I’d like to have dinner ready when he gets here, but most of the meal doesn’t keep so I expect we will end up cooking the meal together which is something I really enjoy.

I cook because a gal can’t really live off of cookies, regardless of how much I want to try, but I love to bake! Cheesecake is one of my fellow’s favorite desserts and something I’ve only recently began experimenting with. We’re trying to eat a little healthier, so I wanted to do something special without having a whole cheesecake sitting in my fridge.

I use the Kraft cheesecake recipe and I quartered it. I was unsure how reducing the recipe would work out, but it seems to have been just fine. A friend at work gave me a mini spring form pan and a few mini tart pans (Are we seeing a theme with me and mini foods?). The quartered recipe made one spring form pan.

I plan on topping the cheesecakes with a peach topping. I make this on occasion as a sweet and healthy treat. I cut the peaches into pieces and cook them down in a pan on medium heat with a little brown sugar. We usually just eat it plain, but this works well with some whipped cream, ice cream, or in this case on top of cheesecake!

For the rest of dinner, I’ve been craving shrimp and crab legs and figured I’d use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to indulge. Crab legs and shrimp are one of those foods that my father makes and I get to enjoy – like steak. The fellow and I have gotten pretty good at making steak (not quite like Daddy grills it but what can ya do?), so tonight we’re going to try our hand at not only steak but shrimp and crab legs too.

Might as well jump into the deep end. My stomach is already rumbling!

 

 

 

 

 

Heart-Shaped Hand Pies

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. I’ve got a few ideas for dinner and dessert (We’re thinking about avoiding a fancy restaurant since they will be packed and overpriced). I’m going back and forth between just ordering in Chinese, watching Netflix, and chilling in sweatpants and getting steak and crab legs and throwing a fancy Valentine’s Day meal in the apartment. I’ll let you know which wins out!

What is it that makes tiny things so much cuter than their full-sized counterparts? Think about it – muffins, cupcakes, cake pops, birthday cakes, kittens, puppies all are cutest when they are tiny! Don’t believe me? Do a quick Pinterest search for teacup puppies.

I wanted to take something to our monthly potluck. In the spirit of the season, I decided to make mini heart-shaped hand pies. They came out just as I had hoped, although they were a little on the crusty side. The fellow said I could have used more filling, but it would have made it more difficult to close the pies.

IMG_20160213_095242

 

There was a bit of trial and error with the sizes of my pie crust hearts. Originally, I had thought that the best way would be to make the bottom crust larger and the top crust smaller. The thought was to lay the base crust down, fill with the meat and veggie mixture, and top with the final crust. To close the pies I folded the bottom crust edge up over the top crust creating a seam to hold in the filling. I made about three that way before I realized there had to be an easier way.

My second attempt was what I ended up doing for the rest of the pies. This time I made both the top and bottom crusts the same size using my largest heart cookie cutter. I layered the bottom crust, then the filling, and lastly the top crust. Instead of folding the bottom layer up, I just took a fork and crimped the edges down which made the heart into a pocket.

In hindsight, it probably would have been best if I had combined my first and second attempts. If I make these again, I will try making the bottom crust a size smaller than the top crust. That way I could put more filling into the pies and the top crust would have more room to stretch over the filling. I would still crimp the edges.

Supplies:

Cookie Cutters

Baking Sheets

Parchment Paper

Grammy’s Pie Crust:

2 C Flour

1 tsp Salt

¾ C Crisco

Cold water to mix

Blend Crisco into flour and salt; gradually add water until dough reaches correct consistency to roll.

(This is the official Crisco pie crust recipe in a double batch. My grandmother has used it for years and it is amazing. This yields enough for a top and bottom crust or two topless pie crusts and is flakey and wonderful.)

Pie Filling:

1 Large can of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup

1 Bag frozen mixed veggies

3 Sticks of celery

3 T Butter

3 Chicken Breasts

Salt, Pepper, and Herbs De Provence to taste.

Boil and shred the chicken breasts. Chop the celery and sauté it in the butter until tender; add in the bag of mixed veggies and heat. Once the celery and veggies are tender, add the cream of chicken soup and spices and continue to heat. Add the shredded chicken breasts to the heated veggie mixture. Set aside on low heat while you prepare the crusts.

I mixed each batch of dough individually, rolled it out and cut out as many hearts as I could from one batch. I’ve found rolling it two or three times in succession causes it to be tough so I work the leftover dough from each round into the next batch. I made approximately four turns of pie crust for this endeavor.

I swear by parchment paper for almost everything that requires a cookie sheet. Less spreading and quicker clean up makes me a happy camper.

Towards the end, I managed to fit around 8-9 hand pies on a cooking sheet. At the beginning, I was spacing them farther apart and only got around 6-7 per sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until edges of crusts are beginning to turn golden brown.

Love Smells Like Syrup

Everyone has some type of comfort food that they grew up on. For some people its mac and cheese, tomato soup with a warm, gooey grilled cheese alongside it, or for some it’s breakfast foods.

French toast happens to be the favorite of my fellow. It is a quick enough treat to whip up so sometimes when I’m feeling particularly sweet (and lazy) I’ll make him French toast for a snack.

Now that it is finally February anything that can be made with a heart-shaped cookie cutter is fair game- French toast being no exception.

**If I can get around using measuring spoons and cups I do, dishes like this don’t need exact measurements. As I always say, cooking is an art not a science.

 

Valentine's day french toast moonshineinateacup.com
Valentine’s day french toast

To make heart-shaped French toast you will need:

Eggs

Vanilla

Milk (I used Almond Milk)

Cinnamon

Bread

1. Preheat your pan (I use Cast Iron so this step is a necessity).

2. Cut a heart out of the bread using the cookie cutter.

(Here you have a decision. You can make mini heart-shaped French bread shapes, or you can do what I did and use both the heart and leftover bread sections separately.)

3. Crack 2 eggs into a bowl large enough fit your bread. Add a splash of milk, a dash of cinnamon and a bit of vanilla (Rough guesstimation: 3 T milk, ¼ t vanilla, ¼ – ½ t cinnamon) and mix together.

Delicious Valentine's Day French Toast

4. Quickly lay the first of the bread pieces in the mixture then flip it to coat the other side. Put the battered bread immediately into the preheated pan (Don’t let the bread sit in the egg mixture or it will get soggy and rip. A few seconds on each side will do it).

Valentine's Day French Toast

If you left the heart cut-out of the bread, you can dump a little of the egg mixture into the empty heart to fill it with scrambled eggs like I did.

Flip so both sides are cooked. Repeat with the next piece of bread until you’re done!

Valentine's Day French Toast

**Use a medium heat so that the French toast cooks the whole way through slowly, not just cooking the outer layer which then burns before the center hardens.

Serve with either syrup or powdered sugar. You can also use the cookie cutter idea for Eggs in a Basket! Butter both sides of the bread and cut out a heart. Put the bread in the pan and crack an egg into the cut-out section.

IMG_20160202_084125