Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Project 365: Week 52 - The Final Week!

December 23 | The Flinn Christmas.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Waffle Pizzas

Which do you prefer: waffles or pancakes?  I will go for a waffle every time.  Well, unless french toast is also an option, then it's split between the two.

Basically, I like the crunchiness and the little pockets that hold your butter and syrup.  When I saw this recipe for waffle pizzas, I figured it would be just as good.  Crunchy little squares that can hold more sauce and cheese!
It's really simple to make your own pizza sauce, but of course it's even easier to buy a little jar of it at the grocery store.  Same thing for the dough.  You can make your own if you have a recipe you like or just buy a ball of it at your grocery store - it's usually somewhere in the deli.
And then top it off with whatever you like on your pizza.  I made these before we moved but when most of our kitchen was already packed up.  So, we didn't have any food in the house either.  If I made them again, I'd probably put green peppers and pineapple on mine but that's just me.  You do what you want.  Make it as involved or as stress-free as you want.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I'm back!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

This year, Christmas felt a little rushed to me so I'm going to give you some advice to avoid that: don't move 4 days before Christmas.  It's been quite the whirlwind of packing, driving, unpacking, making yule logs, hosting Christmas parties, opening gifts and working.
I'm sure it will settle down.  I'll get used to the new kitchen.  I'll figure out the best lighting for pictures. I'll do all of that and it will feel normal again, but right now, it just feels like a lot to deal with.

Usually, when I have a lot going on in my life and everything feels out of control, I bake.  I bake bread or cookies or biscuits and then everything seems a little more manageable.  Biscuits especially are good.  They're good because they're easy to make and they don't take a lot of prep time.  Whip 'em up, feel better and then get back to sorting out the rest of your life.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cranberry Margaritas

Last night, I packed up all of the liquor in the house.  I'm not sure if that was such a good idea.  I feel like a pitcher of these cranberry margs might ease the stress of working Friday at my current job, driving a truck full of all of our belongings for 8 hours on Saturday, and then working at my new job on Sunday.

Just writing that all down, makes me realize how big of a mistake I've made.  Hold on - let me go find that box!
I'm back!

I made these particular margaritas for an ugly sweater party last weekend.  Austin won ugliest sweater and there was a white elephant exchange involved.  We picked 4th out of the bunch and when we opened up our random mesh jersey, we got another surprise present....
...a piece of cat poop.  Literally.  The person who wrapped the present, claimed he didn't know about it!  We didn't take the cat poop home.  Actually, we didn't take the jersey home either.

I hope you have better luck with your gift exchanges this year, but if not, after drinking a few of these, you'll be laughing when it happens at least!

Monday, December 16, 2013

White Chocolate Créme Brûlée

For how much time I spend in the kitchen making sweets, I really haven't given much thought to sugar. I know the difference between brown sugar and powdered sugar and granulated sugar, but beyond that...it's all just sugar.  Then I tried a different type.  I got a bag of pure can sugar thinking it was just a little bigger grain, but when I tried it, I realized I was wrong.
Yes, the grain is bigger.  The taste is also just a little more complex...you have to try it to see what I mean, but it has a little more depth to it.  But the biggest difference was when I caramelized the sugar on top of the créme brûlée.
Do you see the difference?  The one on the left is the Zulka pure cane sugar and the one on the right is regular white sugar.  The white sugar melted too quickly and any pieces that had melted then burned right away, but the cane sugar melted more slowly and evenly.  Don't ask me to explain why it happened that way, just know that it did.  Just try it for yourself.

Ok, enough about sugar.  Do you ever wonder why créme brûlée is a fancy dessert, but pudding is not?  Just something to think about.  I can pretty much guarantee you that you aren't going to find puddin' on the menu at a fancy restaurant.
Because it's got a fancy french name, I think sometimes people get intimidated by créme brûlée, but you don't need to at all.  Actual prep time for these was about 15 minutes.  There's some cooking time and some cooling time and just a little bit of time playing with fire, but really, it's amazingly simple to make.

My brother-in-law has been making this version of the 'fancy pudding' for the past few years...it's the reason we're glad my sister married him ;)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nutty Russian

The other day I had a jack and coke and the moment I took the first sip, I realized I haven't had one of those since high school...erm, I mean, college.  Point is: it's been a long time.  Another drink that reminds me of my college days is a white russian.  Austin used to fill up thermoses with a giant white russian and we'd share that going to snowboarding competitions, parties, walking down Main Street, whatever.  I think he wanted to be 'The Dude.'

A nutty russian is essentially the same thing as a white russian, minus the cream and add some Frangelico - that's the nutty party.  You're welcome to fill up a thermos with these guys or just a glass at a time.  I'd skip the robe though.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Baked Brie

In case you didn't already know, there are cheeses that I like to consider 'grownup cheeses.'  Brie is a total grownup cheese.  It might as well be a whole different food group from American and string cheeses.  You never see kids requesting brie or Muenster or Gorgonzola.  Well, maybe you do, but I never ate it as a child.  To be honest, I never even ate it as a young adult, until recently.  Am I still a young adult?  Let's just say that I am.  Thanks, you're so nice!
Baked brie...that's really stepping it up.  That's pretty much full on adulthood. 

Every year we have a Christmas party at my parents' house on Christmas Eve and my sister's been bothering me about what should be on the menu.  This is all I've come up with so far.  It's festive, it looks fancier than it is, and it's easy.  Sounds like it's gong to make the list to me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

'Baby, it's cold outside' doesn't even begin to describe it.  We've been in a bit of a 'cold snap' around here.  The type of frigidity that makes you cough when you walk outside.  The type of cold that freezes your nose hairs the first breath you take.  I think this is what you call bitter cold.  To put a number on it: -20˚.  Mother nature's not messin' around.
To combat the freezing temps, I've been drinking more coffee.  Not just because my body's telling me I had better get to hibernating, but also to warm my hands.  Once it warms up again and I scale back my caffeine intake, I'll probably start going through withdrawals.  To combat the withdrawals, I made chocolate covered espresso beans.


It's all just a series of cause and effect, really. 
These are not very sweet so if you're thinking of making them as a gift for a coffee lover, make sure they like their coffee black.  And strong :)  But remember you can always adjust the amount of sugar that you add to the cocoa powder to suit your own tastes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Peanut Butter Popcorn

There are only 3 weeks until Christmas.  You're probably already aware of that fact, but still I thought I'd give you a reminder.  Since Thanksgiving was later this year, everything feels a little more rushed.  Normally, I would have gifts planned out for everyone by now, or maybe even have a bag full of them and be done with my shopping altogether. 
This year, along with planning our Christmas Eve party, buying presents, and decorating the tree, I'm also packing boxes, renting a moving truck, and canceling our TV and internet contracts.

The reason?  We're moving back home to Utah!  I'm really excited, but to be totally honest, I'll be way more excited when it's over with.  Moving is never fun but there probably couldn't be a worse time of year to do this stuff. 
Anyway, maybe I can just give out popcorn for Christmas.  Not a bad idea really.  Or maybe we can serve popcorn at our Christmas party.  Also, not a bad idea.  Plus, I read in a target catalog that "popcorn is the trending snack of the season."  I didn't actually know that snacks could trend, but what do I know. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Project 365: Week 48

November 25 | I really hate mascots, but made an exception for the Sleepytime Bear at the Celestial Seasonings factory.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

Are you scrambling for last minute Thanksgiving ideas?  I've got something for you!  Here's a roundup of some easy, festive, and quick* dishes to bring to dinner tomorrow. 

*The salted caramel apple pie takes a little bit more time, but it's worth it
Whether you're sitting around a big table full of family and friends or if you're having a small meal tomorrow, have a happy Thanksgiving!  I'm thankful for each and every one of you that stops in to read my blog :)  Thank you!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Crantini

I know I normally only give you cocktails on Thursdays and Fridays to get you prepped for the weekend, but this is a short week, so you can to start drinking earlier.
I'll admit that before this Crantini, I'd never actually had a martini.  I've still never had a straight martini. I don't know if I could deal with that quite honestly.  Not because of the straight liquor - it's the olives.  And besides that I'm happy with this version.  It's a very pretty pink color, it's festive, and it's still very much a strong cocktail.

Once your turkey's in the oven, the cheese platter is out on the table, the candles are lit, shake yourself one of these and pat yourself on the back.  You deserve to enjoy Thanksgiving too.
If you're the guest this year, bring the liquor, a shaker, toothpicks, and some fresh cranberries then pour your hostess a drink.  I bet you'll be invited back next year.  Just don't spill it on her couch cushions.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

One week from today is Thanksgiving.  Some people call Thanksgiving, "Turkey Day," but I think it should probably be called "Pie Day."  Who really cares about the turkey anyway?

Thanksgiving is all about the sides and the dessert.  I've never met anyone who says that their favorite part about the big dinner is the turkey.  I'm sure those people exist, I just don't associate with them.
I hope you're planning on doing your grocery shopping soon.  Have you ever tried to go to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving or even worse, that morning?  Inevitably, we forget something and have to make the last minute trip.  Normally, it would take 5 minutes tops, but instead you are battling strangers for the best bag of cranberries and waiting in long lines to pay for your one forgotten item.

Just go through your list...twice.  Don't forget the sweet potatoes.  Don't forget the whipping cream.  Do that and you'll be golden.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cranberry Pecan Pie

Thanksgiving is next Thursday!  I literally couldn't be more excited.  I am in pretty desperate need of a few days off spent at home with family (and my kitten).

Austin and I have been lucky enough to go home every year for Thanksgiving.  We are also lucky that our families live 5 miles away from each other and actually spend Thanksgiving together.  We don't have to choose sides.  We get to have our pie and eat it too.
Speaking of pie...  See what I did there?  Bear with me, it's only Tuesday, but it's already been a long week!  I have already told you and everyone else that I like pretty much all pie.  I like new versions of pie and I like the classics.  I like fruit pie, cream pie, custard pie, and pot pie.
Seeing as pecans are my favorite nut, I obviously hold a special place in my heart..um stomach...for it.  But on Thanksgiving, I save a lot of space in my stomach for pie, so there's always room for more.

The biggest complaint I hear about pecan pie (besides from people that "hate pecans") is that it's too sweet.  I hear ya.  I don't really get it, because I can eat anything as long as it has sugar on/in it, but I can put myself in your shoes.  The answer?  Cranberry pecan pie.  The tartness of the cranberries cuts the sweetness perfectly, but the pecans still give you all the nutty, rich flavor you want.  And, it's cranberries and pecans, what could be more festive than that?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Project 365: Week 46

November 11 | I read in a target catalogue that "popcorn is the trending snack of the year."  I didn't know there was such thing as a trending snack.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Every year, the "Christmas Season" starts a few days or a week earlier.  Pretty soon, we'll just listen to songs about decking the halls all year round.  People like to get their shopping done early and I get that.

I like getting people gifts and I like planning and thinking about what would be perfect for my family and Austin and his family, but then there are those other people that I don't know what to get.
Usually these people are coworkers, neighbors, hosts of Christmas parties, more distant relatives, maybe in-laws.  You get the point.  There are some people you need to get a gift, but you really don't know them all that well.  The answer?  Food!  Duh!

Homemade food is an especially good idea.  Homemade vanilla in cute little bottles is the best idea.  The only catch?  You need to start now, like this weekend.  It requires very little work on your part, but it does take about 6 weeks to sit.  So put it on your to-do list.

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