February 24, 2013

oscars caramel corn



I love the Oscars!  I'm so excited that Seth MacFarlane is hosting.  It should be a fun night.

I plan on parking myself on the couch for a good while, with a bowl of this crunchy caramel corn.  Perfect for a night at the movies.

corn is popped and ready to be doused in caramel
out of the oven, cooling down before being devoured

Here's the recipe!

Oscar Caramel Corn
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
10 cups popped popcorn
1 cup slivered or chopped almonds
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for baking sheet
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

Directions:


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter 2 large rimmed baking sheets; set aside. For instructions on how to pop popcorn on the stove check here.  Place popcorn and almonds in a large bowl. Set aside.  
  2. In a small saucepan, bring butter, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil, stirring constantly. Working quickly, drizzle popcorn with sugar syrup, and toss.
  3. Spread popcorn evenly on prepared the baking sheets. Bake for about 40 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!


February 17, 2013

comfort corn heat pad


My mother-in-law shared a really cool idea for a home-made, reusable heat pad using scrap fabric and feed corn.  I couldn't wait to share it with you!  It's perfect for the cold winter nights we've been having.  You warm them up in the microwave for a couple of minutes, and they'll stay warm for almost an hour.  We put them under the sheets and put our feet on them. They were life-savers.


We also read that you can put it in the freezer overnight and using it a cooling pack.

One thing to make sure of is to use feed corn, not popcorn.  This will definitely not work with popcorn for the obvious reasons.

You can make them in different shapes and sizes.  Here's one we made that was long and thin, perfect to put around your neck.  The instructions below are for a 8"x12.5" bag.


feed corn and other supplies
giant bag of feed corn. i think you can get it in smaller quantities :)

Here's what you'll need:
Scrap fabrics
Fabric scissors
about 4 cups of feed corn (we used NatureWise cleaned grains) - do not use popcorn kernels
Sewing machine
Pins and thread
Measuring tape

Directions:

These directions are for a 8x12.5" sized finished bag.  But you can make them any size of like, just adjust the amount of corn you use accordingly.

1) Cut a 19"x13.5" piece of fabric (this allows for 1/2" seam on each side).  Fold your fabric over on the long (keeping the bag inside out for now), so you have a 9x13.5" sized rectangle.  Pin it in place.

2) Sew a straight stitch along two of the sides that join at the edge.  (Tip: don't remove the needle once you've finished one side.  Just lift the needle and turn your fabric 90 degrees and continue sewing the second side.)

3) Now you should have one end of the bag still open.  Turn the bag right side over.  Fill the bag with corn feed.  Flip the ends of the fabric inside, allowing about 1/2" of fabric to get folded inside.  Pin the fabric in place.

4) Sew the remaining side, sewing as close to the edge as possible.  Voila!  You have your bag of feed.

To use:
1) place your comfort corn heat pad in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Don't heat longer than that since you could risk over-heating or catching fire.
2) Remove it from the microwave. The bag will be nice and warm now and you can use it as a heating pad.  It should stay warm for about 30 mins to 1 hour.

cut your fabric, get it ready to be pinned
pin your fabric
sew your fabric
hot tip: cut the edges of your fabric like so before you turn it back over.  this makes it much easier to get nice corners.
nice corners after I've turned the bag back over
pour your feed into your bag
sewing the final side!

February 14, 2013

February 12, 2013

snow


Is it ok to love snow?  After the big snow storm on Friday,  I had to dig a snow trench on our patio so that I could get to our bins in the backyard.  I felt like a kid again. :)


February 10, 2013

how to water an orchid



I thought I'd share this tip because we have two orchid plants and I finally figured out a fail-safe way of watering them.

As you may know, orchids need to be watered in a very particular way in order to keep well.  I've tried many different ways: submerging them with water every two weeks, misting them every couple of days, and finally the method I want to share with you today (which has worked the best):

Once a week, take 2 ice cubes and place them on the bark/soil part of the plant.  That's literally it!  Using this method I've had two more flowerings in 6 months.




ps. I'm usually the worst at watering plants.  So if you have any watering tricks with other flowers, please share them with me! :)

February 03, 2013

best cream cheese frosting



I've tried many times to make a great cream cheese frosting for my carrot cakes.  It seems like they never turned out... until this one.

I know it's strange to only write about the frosting, and not the cake, but I've already shared a carrot cake recipe which you can check out here.

This post is going to be all about the frosting.  I've finally found a great recipe, and I'm super excited to share it.

Here it is!

Awesome Cream Cheese Frosting (for Carrot Cake)
adapted from Baking by James Peterson

Ingredients
1 package of regular cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups confectioners' (aka. powdered) sugar
2 tsp orange zest

Directions
Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla, confectioners' sugar, and orange zest, and beat on medium speed for about 8 more minutes.  Place the bowl in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden just a bit.  Then spread it on your cake generously.  Enjoy!