Monday, July 25, 2011

Homemade Samoas Cookies {MMM Girl Scout Cookie Goodness}

Homemade Samoas Cookies
shared from the kitchen of
Read Before Making:  These cookies do take some time and there are many steps to it.  However, you will not be dissappointed.  They are well worth the work.
Cookies ~ Homemade Samoas
(also known as Caramel de-Lites)
Makes about 4 to 4 1/2 dozen

Let the 4 step process begin:
1. Make the cookie Base
2. Top with Caramel-Coconut mixture
3. Dip bottom of cookies in melted chocolate
4. Drizzle tops with melted chocolate

The Cookie (base):
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
up to 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, next, the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk only as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (you may not need any at all). The dough should come together into a soft, pliable ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough seems sticky.

It's easiest to roll the dough out in 2 or 3 batches (between pieces of wax (or parchment) paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or a little thinner) using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined (or on silicone mat) baking sheet and make a hole in the center. I used one of those big plastic straws.  You know the ones that your kids blow into and they drive you crazy with that whistling sound.  However, this part is really not necessary.  Next time I don't think I will do it.  They will give you the Girl Scout look, but the flavor is still the same. Repeat until the dough is used up (it's okay to re-roll, this dough is shortbread-like and very forgiving.)

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are very lightly golden brown around the edges. All ovens are different so I actually did mine for 9 mins. and they came out perfect.

Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, to allow them to firm up slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-ounces good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
8 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips will do, however, I found that when I made them with the chocolate chips they melt in your hands even after setting up.)
(If you prefer milk chocolate use it.  I used semi-sweet and JBody wishes I would have gone with Milk.  He is a huge milk chocolate guy though.)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees (F)

Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Watch carefully, especially near the end of toasting time; the coconut toasts very quickly once it begins to become golden.

My Notes:  20 minutes was too long.  The coconut was already golden at 10 and I had to take it out.

Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 teaspoons per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it begins to firm up, to make it soft and spreadable once again.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching.  Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper (I dipped them and then had them set up upside down before drizzling). Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.
Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Let me just tell you that you have to try these.  And once you make them hide them from yourself.  Trust me they are addicting.  I have plans to make them again.  I have a cute cookie container idea I found on pinterest.  We are going to give them away as Christmas Presents.  Let me know if you make them and what you think of them.

Recipe credit: Nicole @ Baking


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Homemade Ice Cream in a Baggie

Tonight after having fun playing baseball in the front yard, we came inside to make some ice cream.  We found the idea at 2 little hooligans.  I had all plans to make a picture tutorial to add to this post, but with 3 excited kids, and momma for that matter, it just didn't happen.  If you go to 2 little hooligans you can find the picture tutorial I didn't add.

Here is what you will need to make homemade ice cream in a baggie:
2 TBL sugar
1 cup half & half (or light cream)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarse salt or table salt
gallon-sized Ziploc bag
pint-sized Ziploc bag

Mix the sugar, half & half, and vanilla.  Pour it into a pint-sized Ziploc bag. Make sure you seal it tight. 
Fill your gallon Ziploc bag half full and add the salt. 
Place the half & half baggie into the gallon Ziploc. 

Now the fun begins.  Shake, Shake, Shake it up!!  The kids had fun with this...for the first 2 minutes.  Then I got the privilege of shaking.  Shake for about 5 minutes (8 minutes if using cream). When solid remove the icecream baggie and clean off the salt.  Then it is time to enjoy!

The kids had fun filling up their ice cream with toppings: cookie crunch, chocolate drops, caramel, and raspberries. 

Hope you get the chance to make your own yummy homemade icecream!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Blanch Peas {tutorial}

Are you growing a garden this year?  Do you find that you planted lots of one vegetable and you just can't eat them fast enough?  Do you know how to freeze your vegetables.  Even if you don't have a garden you can still freeze fresh veggies to eat them later in the year when you are craving those fresh garden vegetables. I am going to show you how to blanch and freeze peas for later use.

Go get your peas.  You want them as fresh as you can get them.  The best is to pick your peas right before you prepare them for freezing.  Morning is also the best time to pick your vegetables.  Make sure your peas are ripe, but not too ripe.  You don't want dried out, bruised, or too ripe peas.  They won't taste very good later on. 

What you will need:
A bowl of peas
A pot of boiling water with a lid
A bowl of ice water
A collander
Freezer bags or Vacuum Seal

Wash your peas.  Sorry no picture.  I figured you knew how to wash your vegetables. Once washed Hull your peas. The peas I am freezing have edible pods so I skipped this part.  To Hull press your thumb into the seam and squeeze the pod gently.  It should open up and you can push your thumb through the pod and remove the peas.  If you are not hulling, just pull the tops off.
Next comes the Blanching.  Place your peas into boiling water for 90 seconds.  All you want to do is kill the enzyme (and any bacteria) in the pea that would discolor and change the taste of your peas if you did not boil them. Time yourself.  Do Not Overcook.

Immediately remove from boiling water and place in ice water to stop the cooking process.  Keep in water until completely cooled.  A general rule of thumb would be to keep in water as long as it was in the boiling water.  

Again I have no picture for this step but completely Drain your peas.

Now you are ready to seal.  I love my vacuum sealer.  Things tend to stay fresher and don't get freezer burned.  However, if you don't have one you can place your peas into freezer bags.  Just make sure to get out as much air as you can before placing in the freezer. 

I know three bags isn't that much.  I do still have more in the garden, but three bags is a start.  I am hoping to get another crop started since peas are so quick to mature.  Can't wait to try out peas out this fall.

Take a Walk Through My garden

We are so pleased with our garden this year.  Last year our garden did very poorly.  We expected it to be the same this year.  We redid the whole garden this spring.  Last year we had the fence put up around the whole yard and then a smaller one to box in our garden.  JBody built new raised bed this year.  I love them.  The rock was all given to us by our neighbors and we had just enough to lay on the floor of the garden.  I love how it stays so nice looking.  And I love the green!!!  That means everything is growing.  It is growing so well that we actually had to pull out lots of spinach and feed it to the chickens.  I wish I would have blanched it and freezed it.  We did plant another crop of spinach and I plan to freeze what we don't use of it. 
Some things we grew this year are: peas, beans, turnips, lettuce, zuchinni, squash, carrots, tomatoes, pumpkins, potatoes, Sun Chokes, beets, brussel spouts, cucumber, and berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries). 

This year I planted onions inbetween our new strawberry seedlings.
Can you see our lovely peas?  I actually got some blanched and in the freezer today.

My poor little tomatoe plants.  They were given to me by a friend.  We will see if they grow.  They have been through quite a bit.  You can also see our carrots.  In the background those really tall things are our Jerusalem Artichokes (aka Sunchokes).  They are roots, but the plant can grow like 6 feet tall.  This is the first year we have ever planted them.
Another look at the peas.  You can see my overgrown spinach and the beans and lettuce as well. 

Did you plant a garden this year?  What did you plant? Are you having success?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

PVC Mister Sprinkler {tutorial}

Do you need a fun way to beat the summer heat? Well here is an easy and fun way to get the kids wet this summer.  I found this idea on Instructables.

First you will need to gather your materials.
What you will need:
 Head to your local hardware store for the following 3/4" pipe and fittings:
2 ten foot lengths of PVC
3 end caps
1 threaded female hose connector (slip fit)
2 elbow joints (90 degree)
2 T connections
1 pack quarter circle mister jets or raindrip jets

Next Find all your tools
Tools needed for this project are:
measuring device
pen or pencil
pvc cutter or saw
PVC cement and primer
5/32" drill bit

Now it is time to cut your pipes.  
2 at 5 feet
1 at 4 feet
4 at 18 inches
Cut one of the 10' lengths in half so that you have two 5' sections.
Then, cut a 4' section from the second one. Cut the remaining 6' section in half and then each of the 3' sections in half.

Now make your center lines. 
To help keep your misters pointing in the same directions you will need a center line.  Take your three longest pipes and mark a line on them.  To do so, hold two pipes together, using one as a guide run your pen or pencil  along it to make the line. As long as you keep your pen or pencil angle the same you will get a straight line.

Make your drill markings. 
This step really depends on the amount of misters you have.  I had 10 in my package so I placed 4 on the top and 3 on the sides.  My markings were as followed.  9" from each end on the top and then every 10" for the other two.  For the sides I placed my holes every 12 inches from the top end for 3 holes on each side. 

Drill your holes for the jets. 

Make sure you check your jets, but for my jets the 5/32" drill bit worked the best.

Assemble upright poles.
When assembling you will need to for a "U" shape.  Each of the drilled holes will need to be facing up. Once you're satisfied glue up the "U", making sure the holes stay facing up. To do so you will prime it first and then glue.

Screw in the jets.
You can skip this part and just have streams of water shooting out all over the place, but the misters are lots of fun.
You will need to use some good pressure for this step.  However, once the jets begin to make their own threads into pipes it will become easier.  Face the jet holes toward the center.  My jets made it possible to move them around depending on how the kids wanted to you the sprinkler later.

Assemble and glue the base
Your "U" shape is up and the misters are installed so you are just about done.  Now it is time for the base.  Before you glue all parts together, MAKE SURE YOUR HOSE FITTING FITS YOUR HOSE, then glue.

Almost done...Attach your base
First assemble the "U" and the base without glue. Make sure the base pieces are parallel with each other, and perpendicular to the plane of the "U". The edge of a sidewalk is a great reference to make sure your base pieces are parallel with each other, and perpendicular to the plane of the "U". Once everything is lined up you are ready for glue.

make sure everything is dried before turing on the water.  It doensn't take too long, just have patience.

Now it is time to turn on the water.
Finally after many windy days, the kids have been able to enjoy their new sprinkler. 
They can run through it.

They can ride through it.

Or they can just sit under it and enjoy the cool water.

Hope you enjoy your summer!  We Are!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love pinterest. I have become addicted to it. In the evening while we are watching tv I find myself looking through pins. I have found many things that I will slowly be doing myself and sharing here on the blog. Here is a recipe that I knew I wanted to try out. I had to share it with you. They were pinned and posted by i am baker.

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
*I only used all purpose flour for my recipe.
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds chocolate chips
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add eggs. Stir in vanilla. Reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients slowly, mixing until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 24-36 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

I don't know why these turned out perfect. Whenever I make chocolate chip cookies they spread out thin. It could be because the dough is refrigerated. I don't know, but these were so yummy. Try them out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Soda Can Wrappers {tutorial}

Today Lil' E decided that he was going to come up with his own craft.  After making his first soda can wrapper for his little brother, he wanted to make one for his dad.  He asked me if I wanted to see how to make them.  Before starting he asked me if I would take pictures and put it online so other people could see how to make them too.  So here you are.  Let's get crafting.

Supplies: Paper, An Empty Soda Can, Scissors, Crayons, Glue

Step 1: Lay your soda can on the paper

Step 2: Wrap the paper around the can.

Step 3: Cut the extra paper off getting it as flat as possible.

Step 4:  It should look like this.

Step 5: It should look like this.

Step 6: Do the same to the other side.

Step 7: Lay the paper flat and draw a picture.

Step 8: Put glue on the other side of the paper from your picture.

Step 9: It should look like this.

Step 10:  lay your can in the middle of the paper.

Step 11: Wrap the paper around the can.

Step 12: It should look like this.

Finished project.

You can make a note to go along with the wrapped can.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Lil' E came up with it all by himself.  All credit should go to him.