Sweet Treats: S’mores Popcorn

In honor of the biggest night celebrating movies, for your consideration: S’mores Popcorn. Four ingredients. Five minutes. You can do this.

Not gonna lie, Four-Eyed Girlie’s had her hands full lately. I’ve been out of the kitchen and trying to whittle the waistline, so I haven’t been up to my usual shameless indulgences. But it’s Oscars Night people, and I need a snack. Just like Amy Adams isn’t showing up in her usual jeans/t-shirt combo, I’m not munching on the standard carrot sticks + hummus.

I decided no night honoring the movies was right without popcorn, so I went on a frantic internet search to find out how to take it to the next level. All I needed was microwave popcorn, marshmallows, golden grahams and chocolate chips. Thank you, Kellie — I’m soooo glad I found your blog, Nest of Posies.

Yep, that’ll do it. Salty, sweet, crunchy, chocolatey. I got the recipe here, but am copying below:

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 box of Golden Graham cereal
  2. 1/2 bag of miniature marshmallows
  3. 1 & 1/2 bags of Tender White Orville Redenbacher Popcorn
  4. 1 bag chocolate chips – melted (I like Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips)

How:

  1. Pop popcorn
  2. Mix together with marshmallows + Golden Grahams
  3. Spread out on large cookie sheet and drizzle with melted chocolate
  4. Let chocolate set/harden and enjoy!

Have fun tonight!

Easy and Super Delicious: Spiced Nuts

Happy New Year! Excuse the Christmas packaging, but I’m a little late on posting this. Couldn’t let it slip by though – this would be a delicious addition to your party tables tonight. They’re quick, easy and fall right in line with everybody’s mindset of staving off sweets after the holiday over-indulgences. You can make these for the party or package them up to give to your friends to start off the new year. Enjoy!

Spiced Nuts (adapted from the recipe found at JaxHouse.com)

Ingredients
  • 1 large egg white
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 40 oz. mixed nuts (I bought in bulk at my local Sprouts market)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 300°.
  2. Beat the egg white until nice and foamy. Mix in all spices. Add nuts and stir to coat.
  3. Bake nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, pull ‘em out and give ‘em a stir.
  5. Reduce heat to 250° and bake for another 20 minutes
  6. Let nuts cool completely and store for up to two weeks.
Notes: It was recommended to double this recipe and use 40 oz. of mixed nuts and 40 oz. of cashews. I have to second that recommendation. Cashews rule!
Packaging: The sky is the limit! Use treat bags, brown paper bags or mason jars! I found these clear cylinder containers from my local Cake Supply Store. Similar containers can be found here.

Sweet Treats: Holiday Fun with Oreos

Did Christmas sneak up on you as fast as it did for me this year? With limited time, I decided that I would ditch all my baking from scratch (gasp!) and have a little fun with Oreos this year. After all, it’s kind of merging my love for candy-making with cookies, and how could that be anything but a win? I had a lot of fun playing with different varieties of Oreos and chocolate combinations to make both pops and chocolate-covered treats. It’s so easy to do, I almost feel bad for bragging about doing it.

Christmas Oreo Treats, project #1: Gingerbread Cookie Pops

I’ve been holding on to this little idea for awhile. After I first saw them on Love From the Oven I knew I had to make them. Did you know there were Gingerbread Oreos? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them here locally in CA this year, but thank goodness Target came out with some generic “Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies” under their Market Pantry label. They tasted great and allowed me to stick with the theme!

All you gotta do to make these cute little pops are buy some cookies, some white chocolate and some popsicle or lollipop sticks (and whatever sprinkles you think would make them look cute, if you’re into that).

  1. Screw the tops off your “oreos”, lay ‘em on a tray, and get your chocolate melted. You dip the sticks in the melted chocolate, and gently push them down into the layer of creme filling. Make sure you’ve got enough chocolate on there to stick to the cookie once you put top back on as well. Once they’re put back together (“glued” by the chocolate), stick them in the freezer so the chocolate can set and the sticks will be in place.
  2. Add a pinch of cinnamon to your white chocolate and about 10 mins. after the cookies have been in the freezer, dip them again to make the cookie pop. Add sprinkles/decorations and you’ve got yourself a tasty and adorable little treat!(Find The Domestic Rebel‘s original recipe post here.)


I used lollipop wrappers from Wilton and found cute holiday-themed twist ties to wrap ‘em up with. Piece of cake. And because I’m a sucker for those Candy Cane Oreos (and anything Peppermint flavored or themed during Christmas for that matter!), I did Milk Chocolate Candy Cane Oreo Pops as well.

Christmas Oreo Treats, project #2: Chocolate Covered Poinsettia Oreos

Seriously – these are so impressive and all you have to do is melt some chocolate into a mold and stick an Oreo in it – they really are that easy! My mom and I found poinsettia molds on the amazing Fancy Flours site a few years ago and we finally tried making a few last year. Since they turned out so gorgeous, we knew we wanted to make them for gifts this year. We bought Winter Oreos (regular Oreos with red filling) and made red poinsettias, and I bought some White Mint Chocolate to make white poinsettias with Candy Cane Oreos.

First, I melted a tiny bit of red chocolate to put in the center part of the flower mold (I used yellow on the red poinsettias) and let that chocolate set. Then, I filled 1/2 the mold with white chocolate, submerged the Oreo, and covered the top. They’re ready to pop right out of the mold in about 15 minutes!

Christmas Oreo Treats, project #3: White Chocolate Covered Candy Cane Oreos decorated with icing and sprinkles

I bought plain molds like these to get a cleaner look than the pops, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. It was fun to use different sprinkles and toppings to create different looks for each one. I didn’t use anything fancy — just the Red and White sprinkles out of Wilton’s Christmas Confetti Sprinkle Mix, some of the white candy canes from Wilton’s Candy Cane Sprinkles, Crushed Candy Cane Topping and red, white and green cookie icing. Since I didn’t have boxes to fit three, I cut gold cardstock to fit inside of the Wilton Pretzel Bag and used my hole punch to add two holes to feed my ribbon through. I tied it up in bow and had a pretty little trio to gift a few friends with.


In the end, it was a really fun and easy way to dress up Oreos that ended up looking great. I made a few larger variety boxes with 6 cookies and wrapped them up with ribbon to give as gifts, too. I can safely say I’ll be making these again. You should too!

Climbing Pie Mountain

photo(10)When I found out that my friend Danny had been given the task of making Saveur Magazine’s Salted Caramel Apple Pie for the Thanksgiving Dinner she’d be attending, I was all up in her business asking if I could help. I’ve never made a pie before and I was eager to check that off the bucket list. Kicking off my pie-making career with this recipe was one heck of a start, but I’m happy to say that we climbed Pie Mountain and each had our own pies to show for it … barely.

photo(11)Things got off to a good start: we’d donned adorable aprons, we’d made our flaky butter pie dough, apples were sliced and doused appropriately for their 1st phase of marination and the remaining steps ahead of us sounded delicious. But wow, Saveur sure knows how to make a recipe convoluted — there were only three steps numbered in the recipes, but each step had many more tasks within the paragraph! With two sets of eyes (and two pretty sharp brains) you’d think we’d catch everything, but each time we referred back to the recipe, we seemed to find something we’d missed. No big deal, we made a quick jaunt to the grocery store for a package of pie shells (oops, the receipe makes two crusts, but we needed two for one pie) and heavy cream (no, the 4 sticks of butter weren’t enough I guess).

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 12.08.47 PM

Photo capture from Saveur.com

Upon our return, the homemade dough was properly chilled, so it was time to roll it out. Danny didn’t mess around, she busted out her ruler and took cutting those 1.5″ strips seriously. Our apples had been doused in round two of their marinade, and they were ready to get into that pie crust and get cozy with the salted caramel sauce we were making. The caramel sauce turned out just as described … deep reddish brown and seductively shiny-looking. That caramel was almost a lacquer once it got inside of the pie pan. We decided to both use one homemade crust and one store-bought so we could each taste the fruits of our labor. Once the lattice detail on top was complete, we were ready to throw these babies in the oven.

photo(9)

At the end of SIX HOURS, we were ready to call it a night … it was late, we both were semi-delirious, and Danny assured me we both didn’t have to wait for them to bake, I could swing by in the morning and pick up my pie before dinner.

Poor Danny. Apparently that’s when things got crazy. Suddenly, smoke was filling the kitchen, and when she looked in the oven, all the filling was bubbling and leaking outside of the pie pans. WTF? She was able to keep her smoke alarm from sounding after midnight and miraculously — she also somehow managed to save these pies from destruction. They were completely intact and edible, even if they had a sloshy filling.

So what went wrong?

Well, somehow we managed to forget about that heavy cream that sat in the fridge; apparently, we were supposed to have added it to the caramel sauce after taking it off the burner. I think we were being so careful to not burn the caramel, we just plum forgot. I think that forgetting the heavy cream is what caused our caramel sauce to melt back down to its buttery-pure sugar state and eventually, bubble and run over at high temps in the oven. My thought is without the cream, the sauce couldn’t congeal and stay creamy and thick in the filling.

Was it still good?

Yes, the pie was tasty. It was flavorful and delicious, but instead of sticky gooey caramel sauce intermixed with honey crisp apples, we had more of a caramel apple marinade inside.

Was making your own crust worth it?

Tough call. It was my 1st time, and I don’t have much to compare it to, but based on this experience — no. Instinct told me that the consistency wasn’t quite right, but it still worked and it still tasted great. However, the difference between the store bought and homemade wasn’t worth the hassle in this particular case.

Should I make this pie myself?

Why not? I will say, I felt very accomplished. I’ll also say that it was a very testy recipe though. If you do take on this task, allow yourself a lot of time and do it with a friend. It definitely took the stress off and many f-bombs in the kitchen were replaced with laughs!

At the end of the day, I made a pie, it tasted good, and I had a blast with my pal, Danny. It was a win all around. Be sure to let me know if you brave this recipe — click this link to get on your way!

Christmas in November: Treats (and recipes!) from the Holiday Craftacular

photo(8)Well folks, this year I broke my own rule. I have a strict policy of “No Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving”. Even as much as I love Christmas time, I do not indulge in Peppermint Mochas nor do I listen to my vintage holiday albums until after I’ve eaten turkey. But this year, when my friend Crystal of Baby Begonia asked if I wanted to be a vendor at her Holiday Craftacular, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

photo(1)Since I’d never really done an event like this, I wasn’t exactly sure how much to make. I wanted a variety, and I wanted to show off how tasty treats can be adorably sweet, but I also didn’t want to go home with 10 lbs. of leftover fudge on my hands, either. I decided to stick with some tried and true holiday favorites, and I threw in one new treat for fun. Fortunately, I guesstimated correctly; I ended up selling everything I made — hooray! But the best part was seeing all the people enjoy the stuff in person. I had a great time and I definitely want to try and do more of these “live” events in the future!

So now for the good stuff … here’s what I made. You’ll recognize these for sure, and I’ve even linked up the past posts in case you’d like to make some this year. (Just wait until Friday, though – okay?)

photo(6)#1 “Elements of the Holidays” Mini Bread Loaves
Inspired by the Periodic Chart of Elements, I think of certain flavors as elements of the holidays. I usually do Gingerbread and Pumpkin Bread, but since my favorite Gingerbread recipe was more labor-intensive than I could pull off under such a time crunch, I opted for making Cranberry Orange Bread instead. These make such nice hostess gifts if you’re an invited guest for Thanksgiving dinner or even if you just don’t want to show up empty handed at the holiday party. I made some Fall themed loaves with brown hounds-tooth fabric I had, attached an orange bow, and voila – they’re ready for Thanksgiving! I also did my signature red and green stripes/polka dots loaves for Christmas.

Learn to make the no-sew packaging yourself, here!
(The post also includes my favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe.)

photo(7)#2 Triple Decker Maple Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge
Yup, you read that right This stuff is ridiculous. The part I love most is that it’s delicious and pretty. I package huge pieces of it so you can see how rustic the pretzel rods and crushed pretzels look on top, even though it’s so decadent that there’s realistically about 4 pieces per “block”.

Recipe and free download for a tag is here, now go make some yourself!

#3 Festive Holly Berry Cupcakes
These are so. freaking. easy. Use your favorite cupcake recipe and pick up a bottle of these Holly Mix sprinkles by Wilton. Yes, I apply the sprinkles individually with tweezers so I can make them perfect. Really, it’s that easy.
IMG_00139#4 Red Velvet Brownies drizzled with Cream Cheese IcingThese were new for me, but I had to make them, simply because I wanted something red! This is a GREAT brownie recipe – super crackly on top, and gooey on the inside. I used a round cookie cutter to cut the brownies so they’d be a perfect fit inside these red/white striped baking cups I had. But, when I cut them, the tops were so crackly that they weren’t very pretty, so I flipped them upside down and iced the bottoms! Wish I would’ve remembered to take a pic before they were gone. Sorry ’bout it.

This recipe is a keeper. Make your own using this recipe here.

Now it’s time to take a break and gear up for more holiday treat making once the season officially begins! Still trying decide on this year’s goodies. What will you be making?

Operation Ballerina Birthday Cake: Cherry Vanilla Cake, from scratch!

I have a secret to share: Four-Eyed Girlie is intimidated when it comes to making cakes. Making a perfect cake is hard. And I have this problem with needing things to be perfect. It takes work, and a lot of practice, and still — it’s not always perfect. But when it comes to my daughter’s birthday, I enjoy making them (perfect or not). I guess it’s because when I was a kid, my parents made me a custom birthday cake every year for my birthday. All I had to do was name a theme, and it was on! So now, I consider a special cake for my daughter’s birthday the ultimate labor of love.

This year, my soon-to-be three year old muttered two words when the topic of cake came up: “Pink” and “Ballerina”. Whoa. This girl is SUPER girly these days. Although I’m pretty girly myself (I am a grown woman who wears a bow in her hair most days), a pink ballerina cake was still a little out of my comfort zone. But, it was her birthday request and I was eager to deliver.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about the “pink” cake. I knew I could use food coloring and dye it, but that just seemed like a cheat. And strawberry cake mixes taste like … well, let’s just say they don’t taste so much like strawberry, but more like sticky sweet chemical sludge. So, I knew I had no choice — I had to find the ultimate recipe, from scratch. I went to the Sprinklebakes blog right away (she is a complete superhero and totally my idol), and sure enough, I found it: her Cherry Vanilla Cake recipe.

This cake is no joke. It uses maraschino cherries and the juice … and paired with almond extract instead of vanilla, it actually isn’t as sweet as you’d expect it to be. This baby is entirely from scratch … and guess what, it’s not difficult! Most importantly, it is the perfect shade of pink to make any girly-girl smile. I didn’t even need the optional food coloring in the recipe, the batter was pink enough, and the bits of cherries throughout were gorgeous! You really should make it yourself. Click here for the recipe.

As for icing, I went with the Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting I used last year on my daughter’s jumbo sprinkles cake. I love this frosting SO much. I just added a teeny dab of Wilton’s pink color gel with a toothpick to get the perfect ballerina pink. Click here for the recipe.

Of course, I wanted it to look “charmingly homemade” (it’s how I justify it to my perfectionist self!) and slightly retro … so after I found a vintage looking ballerina cake topper, pearl sprinkles for the side, and iridescent glitter dust to sprinkle on top, I was all set. I took super girliness to a whole new level with this one! The birthday girl was thrilled though, and all the adults enjoyed this uber-pink creation as well.

If you decide to make it, let me know how it goes! ;)

Sweet Treats: Pumpkin Swirled Brownie Bites

photo(1)I was asked to make some treats for the Sip + Shop event at Fox & Moon Clothing last night and the lovely shop owner Kristen asked, “Can you do something ‘pumpkin-y’?” Of course, I thought about Martha’s Pumpkin Swirled Brownies right away!

For the event, I thought bites would be better, so I used my cute little heart-shaped cutter to make adorable bite-sized pieces. Then, I decided they still needed to look cuter, so I drizzled them with cream cheese frosting.

Visit this post to get the recipe!

These “brownies” are really more like pumpkin bread with brownie batter mixed throughout. They do have a little bit of an after-bite thanks to a dash of cayenne, so be warned — but truly, it’s that bite that make these guys really special. When I serve them as brownies, I like to skip the drizzle, because the brownie/pumpkin swirl is really pretty – but the drizzle on these bites were just perfect!

Enjoy!