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Friday, August 30, 2013

Tofu Isn't Taboo!

I don't know about you, but tofu is just a word that made me want to cringe when I heard it. I thought it'd be something that was totally disgusting. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever actually eat some. But I did! Another misconception that I had was just thinking since it was healthy, it'd be expensive. Wrong again! Now in all honesty, I can't say I'd just eat some tofu crumbled on a salad or something along that line. My first try was mixed with chocolate so I can't say I really tasted tofu. Baby steps.....

I came along this recipe called Mint-Chocolate Fudge Pie. I'm a sucker for anything mint & chocolate and was almost appalled when reading the ingredients it had tofu in it. But you know what? I said I'm going to try this because I make a French Silk Pie that is heavenly, but certainly not healthy, and if this works out, it will be a great alternative. Sadly, I actually had to Google the brand she listed in her recipe so I even knew what to look for. So, I went to the store and picked me up some tofu. It was only $1.50!
Look mom! I'm baking with tofu! ;)

First I made my pie crust. You can certainly use a store bought to make this go even quicker/easier but I am loyal to my pie crust recipe. In this case I was only making one pie, so I halved my recipe.

and baked it per my recipe.

Then I gathered the ingredients:

1 (12.3 oz) package Mori-Nu or Mori-Nu lite silk-firm tofu (or any brand)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
scant 1/8 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract (start with 1/8 & add more if desired)
2-3 tablespoons agave or other sweetener (I didn't have this type of sweetener & left it out and it was just fine)
8-10 oz chocolate chips (approx 1 1/3 cup or more)

Throw all the ingredients - except for the chocolate chips - in the food processor and just hold on a second. Melt your chocolate chips either in the microwave or on the stop top.

When melted, add to the food processor. Blend until really smooth. See the 2 finger marks? My oldest and I tasted it just to make sure it wasn't gross. She was the only one that knew I was making a pie with tofu. Of course, it was yummy!

 Pour into your prepared pie crust and put in the frig to firm up. 

The longer it sits, the more firm it is. However, my family doesn't wait too long for dessert so mine isn't quite as firm looking as it could be, it was more of a mousse. But it was deelish!

I then tinted some Cool Whip with green coloring and topped my pie with that. Served it to the fam and they all thought it was great! Afterwards, I told my middle child what was in it and she immediately took to social media about how I had tricked her with a tofu pie. Geesh! You'd think she was 5 and I had promised her a trip to the circus and instead took her to the doctor's office for shots! ;)

Do you like tofu enough or do you like it "hidden" like this?

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Monday, August 26, 2013

DIY Liner for the Longaberger® Tall Tissue Basket

I promised I'd write up the post on the DIY stand up liner that will fit the Longaberger® Tall Tissue Basket (now retired) so here it is! First off, I have to say that this is probably my absolute favorite basket they made. I have one in our bedroom, the kitchen, the living room, both bathrooms, and 2 of the 3 kids rooms. Hence, the reason why I'd like to make my own liners because in true Longaberger fashion, they always retire the good stuff!

I had an older denim liner that I no longer use, so I started by taking it apart at the seams. 

Once I had the liner taken apart, I ironed the pieces flat for the most accurate measurements.

You will be able to make this liner with a half yard of fabric. 

Next, I made pattern pieces to cut out on the fabric of my choice. Cut 2 pieces of the side pattern and one of the body, on a fold where indicated. Get your PATTERN here.

When your pieces are cut, mark the 2 spots on the main body piece, right side of the fabric, with a washable ink pen or fabric marking pencil, as you need to know where to sew the side pieces. Place your pattern on both ends of the body piece and mark both sides.

Then place the shorter end of the side piece within your marks on the body piece, right sides together, like below. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew only in between your markings.

Begin at top of side piece........... end at the bottom of the side piece.
Then, do the same with the other side piece and this is what it will look like when you are done.

Next, start sewing up your 4 sides, also using a 1/4" seam allowance. 

When all 4 sides are done, it should look like this, able to "stand" up on it's own!

At this point you can decide what kind of finished top you want. You can either just fold it over and sew a simple hem, add bias tape trim, make your own bias trim with coordinating fabric, it's up to you. For this first trial run, I just did a simple folded hem but I have done the bias tape and made my own bias with coordinating fabric. They all work well.

Now it's all done! How easy was that?

Grab your basket and put in your liner!

Stand back and admire your handiwork!

One advantage to having the tissue basket is when they have all the holiday kleenex boxes on clearance, you can stock up and then at Easter no one knows you have a Christmas decor kleenex box in your basket! ;)

I have purchased several liners for different baskets dirt cheap (perfect for taking apart) at the Jelly Belly/Longaberger Factory store event so if there's one you'd like to get a pattern for just ask and I will see if I have it to take apart and duplicate.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Making a Pie Is Just Peachy!

What says end of summer like a peach pie? Mmmm... good stuff. I found this really good peach cream cheese pie recipe at ai love baking. As great as the post was, I still had lots of questions since I had never made a peach pie (or any peach dessert) before. That had nothing to do with the quality of the post, obviously it still very much appealed to me since I wanted to make the pie, but it was just my own lack of knowledge about peaches that made me want to learn more. So I asked around and tracked down information to help me successfully make a fresh peach pie and I'm sharing everything I learned, starting from the beginning. You can thank me after you take your first bite! ;) If you already know all about peaches, it's still a great recipe to try!

Find yourself some fresh peaches. For this recipe, you'll need about 6-7. I've never eaten a fresh peach before. I like peaches, but have only had canned (I know, sad.) I just can't get past sinking my teeth into the fuzzy peach skin which is why I knew nothing about fresh peaches. Ha! I got to say knew, as in past tense because that's no longer the case!  Sorry, little things excite me! 

Along this pie making quest I learned how to remove the skins and cut a fresh peach. You'd think cutting a peach wouldn't be something you need to learn, but seriously, I tried to cut one based on what I was told first and it SOO did not work. You can't just cut into the peach to the pit and split it open. Yes, I mushed a few peaches trying to pry that baby open before I got frustrated enough to find the correct way! But that's how you learn, right? 

Get yourself a big pot of boiling water going. Then get a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes in it. With a sharp knife, carve an X at the top end of the peach, one line going with the crease of the peach, and the other going the opposite way. Do not go deep - you'll let good nutrients out! Keep the cut right under the skin. Put the peaches in the boiling water for about 30-40 seconds - just enough to see the skin loosen where you cut it.

Immediately put it in your bowl of cold water to stop the heat. 

Once all your peaches are done, we are now going to take the skins off. I use a paper plate to put my skins on for easy clean up and a bowl to put the peaches in. Start with the loosened skin and peel off the peach. Holding the peeled peach in your hand, insert your knife at the top of the peach, down to the pit and slice to the bottom. Move your knife over a little bit and do the same thing. Before removing your knife, gently push the slice out. Do this all around the peach for nice even slices. Works like a charm, eh? 

My bowl is quite large & full because I'm making 2 pies. But you should have a bowl full of yummy peach slices too. Now you are going to add your sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Let it sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

During the 15 minutes that your peaches are marinating, you will make your crust and your cream layer. Yes, you can do all this in 15 minutes! First, with a hand mixer, mix your block of cream cheese and 1/2-1 cup (your preference) of powdered sugar. Set aside. Stir your peaches. :)

Next, the pie crust. I mean, the best pie crust that also happens to be super easy.  This is my pie crust recipe I've always used from my mom so I never use any other. Grab a bowl and add 2 cups of flour and a shake of salt. Stir it up real good with a fork. In a 1 cup measuring cup, add 1/2 cup of oil (I like to use grapeseed oil) and 5 tablespoons of water. Yes, in this case we are mixing oil and water. Pour this into your flour bowl and mix with the fork. How easy was that? Wait until you taste it...heavenly. I never have much luck rolling anything out on a floured surface, so I take a piece of parchment paper and put it on my counter, plop half the dough on it and put a piece of waxed paper on top and roll it out. Remove the waxed paper and flip to lay inside your pie plate with the parchment on top. Remove the parchment. Take your fork and prick a few holes here and there to avoid the crust bubbling up. Set aside your papers for the top dough. Stir your peaches. :)

Spread your cream cheese filling in your pie plate.

 Now take your peaches and drain them into a bowl, as you want to save the liquid.

Scoop your peaches on top of the cream cheese filling. Pour in half of your liquid and add a few tablespoons of butter pieces.

Now let's do the top crust. Roll out your dough again and you can either just leave the crust plain and cut slits or get fancy and do cut outs. I like to do cut outs. I have a cookie cutter collection of small seasonal cutters I like to use and usually use the heart but this time I decided to use my apply corer, since it was the perfect circle size. I like to save the cut outs and decorate the crust.

Lay your top crust on your pie, crimp the edges closed all around, and use your handy fork to impress the edges. Brush a thin layer of milk over the top crust and add your cut outs if you'd like. Are you getting excited yet? 

 Now bake at 425 F for 30 minutes on the lower third oven rack. Lower the temperature to 350 and bake another 25-30 minutes. And then you have a wonderful smelling house and beautiful pie! Remove and let cool long enough that you can stand to eat it with some ice cream. 

It never says what to do with the other half of the liquid and I'm not going to pour out all that goodness. I would suggest heating it over the stove and letting it thicken a little since it has cornstarch in it and use it as a sauce to pour over the pie and ice cream. I however, reserved some of the peach slices and added it to extra sauce and just put in the frig for my kids to throw in the blender to make smoothies with it.

I hope this eliminates any questions you may have and makes peach pie making very simple for you!

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Peaches & Cream Pie (printable version)
(adapted from ai love baking)

My Mom's Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
5 tbsp water

Add flour and salt in a bowl and sift with a fork. Measure the oil in a 1 cup measuring cup and add the water to the oil. Add to the flour and mix with a fork. Divide dough in half & roll out. Makes 2 pie bottom crusts or 1 bottom and top crust.  Prick with a fork to eliminate bubbles. (Bake at 425 unfilled for 10-12 minutes or according to your recipe directions for a filled pie.)

Peach Filling:

6-7 ripe peaches, skinned and cut into slices
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Drain the peaches, saving the liquid.

Cream Cheese Layer:
1 - 8 oz block cream cheese, softened
1/2-1 cup powdered sugar (your sweetness preference)

Mix the cheese and sugar with a mixer until well blended and smooth. Set aside.

Putting Pie Together:
Position rack on lower third of oven, heat to 425 F. 
With prepared crust, peaches & cream cheese as above, fill crust with cream cheese mixture and peaches adding half the liquid and 2-3 tbsp of butter pats. Add top crust. Lightly brush the crust with milk. Bake for 30 minutes; lower temperature to 350 and bake for another 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven to cool. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

3 Easy DIY Kitchen Projects

About 2 weeks ago, I posted about making an easy DIY awning window treatment. I'm now doing an updated post to show I did paint the soffit and I made a new awning window treatment (this time it's a little jazzed up) and the faux metal letters I made. 

First things first... I painted the soffit a nice taupe color. I have this color in my house already and I really like it so I wanted to put it in the kitchen to break up the boring floor to ceiling cream.  And I say boring because when we moved in, the cabinets were already cream, there is no backsplash except for in front of the stove and that's a dingy white tile so it looks cream, and the walls are cream. This is the "before."

When we moved in, there were baby blue (gag!) countertops so we changed those out for the black/gray/taupe flecked. Which is another reason why I wanted to go with taupe for the soffit. At least that was a little color to break up all the cream. But I really like the taupe!

Then I decided I wanted to make a new awning since the first one went so easy. This time I made it with a little more "quality", as I used heavier home decor fabric, used the serger on all my edges and added a nice little trim on the bottom hem. The fabric I chose is one of my favorites from Jo-Ann's, last summer I recovered a chair in my craft room with the same pattern but in a different color scheme. Isn't it a pretty pattern?

Luckily it came in this cream, black & taupe combo too.

 And I found the perfect trim for the bottom hem in the upholstery trim section at Jo-Ann's.

Again, super easy to make - you can refer to my previous post only this time I serged all my edges,

and added the trim to the bottom hem! But even doing those 2 steps still left it an easy project. I just ironed a 1/2" hem, pinned the trim to my hem and used my zipper foot to sew. Then I cut the edge of the trim and used my hot glue gun to glue a few drops so the ends wouldn't fray.

All done!

My next project was the faux metal CAFE letters. I had found the post for the faux metal EAT letters at like a saturday and thought they were super cool. Again, a really easy project to do. I picked up the cardboard 3-D letters at Hobby Lobby for $2.48 each. They didn't happen to be on sale today, but still not a pricy project (considering Anthropologie wants $18 per letter and even already made metal letters at Hobby Lobby are $24.99 each.) All you need are your letters, some bronze spray paint, some silver spray paint and some sandpaper. I had the silver spray paint and sandpaper on hand and I just bought a small Short Cuts of the bronze. 

The cardboard/paper mache letters look like this:

I laid down a piece of plastic drop cloth on the garage floor that I had previously purchased from the Dollar Store. I then painted the first coat with the bronze paint.

After I let it dry, I painted with the silver paint.

After that dried, then I roughed up the edges and some of the surface with the sandpaper. I have no idea what grit or whatever it was, I just saw a scrap piece sitting on the shelf in the garage. Just rub off & rough up to your own liking.

Use 3M Command Strips to hang & enjoy!

Yesterday is when I painted the soffit and made the new awning. My husband has not even noticed yet. Today is when I did the CAFE letters and they kind of catch your attention so now we will see if he notices the painted soffit & new awning when he comes home from work tonight.

Items left on my kitchen list are a new overhead light fixture, new backsplash, paint my cupboards and change out the nasty gold hardware on them (now that I have the silver letters above & can see the gold hinges, they really bother me!) But, I have a feeling it will be a while before you see pictures of any of that!

Meanwhile, I will just enjoy my small little changes that I can quickly do myself.  :)

I do have some left over fabric so I think I will recover the seat of a kitchen stool with it and see if I can make a liner for my kitchen Longaberger tissue basket using one I have already as a template. Wish me luck!

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