cooking

No enchiladas in the icebox, and the television’s broke

(Bonus points if you recognize the title of this post as being from Pat Boone’s 1962 single “Speedy Gonzales”.)

Today, I come to you not with a decadent dessert, but with a quick and easy entrΓ©e. I’m pretty sure my junior-high Home Ec. teacher wouldn’t classify this as food, and I secretly kind of agree with her (purely hypothetical) assessment, but when you’re hungry but also unmotivated, this does the trick.

I first spotted this “recipe” on Buzzfeed, which of course sources its content from Reddit, whose original poster saw a video for this on TikTok. This feels a bit like the 21st century version of passing a recipe down through the generations, albeit at warp speed.

Preheat your oven to 400Β°F, grease a baking dish, and let’s get started.

Start with some frozen Taquitos. I used plant-based ones from my favourite independent grocery store, but any kind will work. Once your oven is up to temperature, pop them in there for 10 minutes.

Once your 10 minutes are up, turn them over and pour a can of enchilada sauce over the works. I used verde sauce which admittedly looks a bit nasty in photographs but smells and tastes heavenly. Sprinkle some shredded cheese over the top (my designated shopper brought me old Cheddar), and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Crispy shells and melted cheese? Check and check.

Et voilΓ , lazy enchiladas in 20 minutes. Like I said, maybe it’s not food-food, but it’s quicker and cheaper than hitting up the local drive-through. It’s also no slower than making Taquitos the usual way, so for 20 minutes the choice is yours. I made these a couple of times over the holidays, and they hit the spot.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

craftmas, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

On the third day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a night known for being starry!

Earlier this year (or maybe late last year?), I read about a shop called CrossStitchObsession that produces charts of miniaturized works of art in cross-stitch form. The picture the article featured included a tiny version of van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and one of my nearest and dearest particularly admires that painting. This was a stocking stuffer just waiting to stuff!

I had my doubts when I first started – it really didn’t look like too much.

Gradually, though, a picture began to emerge.

Before long, anyone would have been able to recognize it!

It actually got harder to do the further I got! I’m not one for marking up charts to cross out what I’ve already stitched, and without that, trying to match up the blank spots on the perforated paper to the chart became quite the trick. There are so many shades of blue in this, and they all started to look alike after a while.

I backed it with some navy blue cardstock to give it a little sturdiness. The mini easel was one of those miraculous Michaels finds. They came in a pack of four, so I might have to stitch a few more mini masterpieces.

For comparison, here’s the original painting (image courtesy of the MoMA website):

That the designer(s) got that much detail into a 2″ x 3″ pattern is simply astounding. I’m so excited for him to unwrap it on Christmas!

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

craftmas, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

On the second day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!

“Wait, wait, that’s not how this works! You’re just supposed to use the format of the song to talk about what you’ve made, not rip it off word-for-word. You know better than that! Now, what did you actually make? OK…two…turtledoves and…a partridge in a pear tree? Really? Uh, carry on, then, I guess.”

I don’t collect much anymore. Sure, my tsundoku spiralled out of control during the pandemic, but books don’t count, right? One soft spot I have, though, is cross-stitched interpretations of “The 12 Days of Christmas”. I’ve probably got no fewer than six or eight different patterns, not to be stitched (yet!), but to be admired and the possibilities dreamt of.

Late last year, I was delighted to see that Satsuma Street had been offering, for the last two years, an ornament pattern for the first two days. Not only do I *heart* Satsuma Street, but stitching a single 3″x4″-ish ornament felt much more achievable than the entire 12 days at once – although I also own that pattern of theirs.

Anything that starts with colours like this has to be good right?

I worked on these at a nice, leisurely pace, occasionally setting them aside if something more pressing came along, but got the beads and sequins added in time for them to go on the tree this year.

I backed them with white felt for a little extra stability, and used an iridescent white metallic thread for the hanging loops.

She already has a French hen in this year’s ornament collection, so I’m sure you can guess what’s going in my virtual cart. I’m hoping she continues with this series, because I’d love to be able to display all twelve days, eventually…just nine more years to go, at the current rate!

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

craftmas, General Sewing, Other Crafts

On the first day of Craftmas…

My true love gave to me: a calendar to count down daily!

Back in the summer sometime, in the course of scrolling through Etsy, I came across a panel of 24 mini-stockings meant to be made into an advent calendar. Did I need it? No. But also maybe yes. In either case, it was delivered to me in short order. If you’re curious and/or want to try this at home, kids, it’s the “Merry Christmas Mini Stocking Advent” by Makower.

The instructions included were pretty straightforward: lay your stocking panel wrong-sides-together on top of whatever fabric you want for your stocking backs, pin and cut.

Of course, I had help.

Once they were all cut out…

…I could pin each front-back pair and sew them together.

It’s funny how much smaller they are once they’re turned right side out! From here, the instructions cheerfully directed me to press the top edge under 1/4″ and stitch close to the edge, then cut ribbon into 6″ length and fold in half and stitch the ends to the inside edge to create hanging loops. There was no way those tiny little things were going to fit around the needle plate on my machine, and I wasn’t about to hand-sew a hem. Instead, while they were inside out, I pressed that top edge the recommended 1/4″, and then turned them right side out and pressed everything – including the top edge. It still created a neat finish, and I can always sew them later if I change my mind.

Rather than deal with making ribbon loops, I decided to attach them to their display rope (that’s a very technical term) using mini clothespins. Thankfully, both the clothespins and the Command Hooks supported the weight of the chocolates I had tucked inside.

I really like that each stocking’s design is oh-so-slightly different. Even the ones that look the same have small differences!

After the day’s chocolates have been, um, dispensed with, the stocking gets re-attached, toe-up, to keep the wall from looking empty as the 24th draws closer. I’m looking forward to turning this into a yearly tradition, where the only decision is what kind of treats to fill them with.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

baking

Just kidding, pumpkin spice…we love you!

I had to go at least a little pumpkin-y while the season still permits, didn’t I? Don’t get me wrong, the apple bread is still firmly in my repertoire, but it’s nestled in there right beside pumpkin as an autumn-y bake.

I’ll keep it short and sweet, because Christmas crafting time is ticking away, and you’ve got better things to do than listen to me wax poetic about pumpkin, don’t you? Besides, this baking adventure wasn’t born out of sentimentality, but of pragmatism: I had a container of pumpkin in the fridge as well as half a brick of cream cheese, and I wanted to use them both up.

Over the years, I’ve mish-mashed a few pumpkin cupcake recipes together and honed the finished result until it was perfect. So without further ado, I present…pumpkin spice cupcakes with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting.

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk* (see note)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (or more, if you’re a fan – I used a heaping teaspoon)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • *NOTE: if you want these to be pumpkin spice latte cupcakes, you can dissolve 4 1/2 tsp. instant coffee in your milk. And if you want these extra-coffee flavoured, keep about 1/4 cup from your morning pot of joe set aside to brush on the tops of the cupcakes before frosting them.
  1. Preheat oven to 350Β°F, and line a 12-cavity cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium-to-large bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  3. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake for 20 – 24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting. If you’re going the coffee route, it’s easier to brush the tops with it while they’re still warm-ish.

For the frosting:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (attention, cinnamon lovers: my teaspoon was heaping to the point of being nearly 2 tsp.)
  • 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar, depending on desired consistency
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the cream cheese and cinnamon on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, about 2 minutes.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat until combined, adding more as needed to achieve the consistency you want.
  3. Add the vanilla and beat on high speed until well combined and creamy. Frost your cupcakes, and marvel at the flavour explosion.

If cinnamon isn’t your thing, these are also great topped with a whipped cream topping like I did here.

And now, back to holiday crafting. Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

baking

Take that, pumpkin spice!

As soon as the calendar flipped over to October and I could start thinking autumn-y thoughts without feeling like a total weirdo (says the girl who had her first pumpkin spice latte of the year sometime in August), I decamped to my baking buddy’s kitchen to try out a recipe from Ree Drummond for cinnamon apple bread. It wasn’t going to take much more effort to double the recipe so we each got a loaf out of the deal.

The best part? When I first floated the idea by him, he came back with, “I’ll chop the apples!”

No way was I going to pass up that offer. While he diced, I prepared the pans and got the dry ingredients together, and we finished at almost the exact same time. Teamwork makes the dream work!

The recipe name is a little bit of a misnomer: the only cinnamon in it is used to coat the apples.

Once he finished up with his A+ dicing, we got the wet ingredients together, added them to my carefully assembled dry ingredients, and folded in the apples and pecans before divvying it up between the pans.

It’s not super inspiring-looking here, but it gets better. Promise.

Told you!

The recipe recommends baking for an hour-ish, and after half an hour the house smelled like warm apple goodness. It’s hard not to get your hopes up when something smells that good, and luckily, this didn’t disappoint.

He even had a little jar of apricot jam at the ready to be warmed up in the microwave and brushed over the tops of the loaves. I wasn’t convinced that step was necessary – I just figured it would make things sticky, and I don’t like sticky fingers (apologies to the Rolling Stones). But I’m glad he talked me into it! Look at the difference between the glazed loaf (on the right) and the to-be glazed loaf:

They came out perfectly!

This recipe is definitely going in our “make again” pile. It’s moist and flavourful, although we agreed we’d add some cinnamon to the batter the next time (or maybe nutmeg). I’m also told the leftovers make great French toast, and can’t wait to try that the next time.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

Other Crafts

Baby got cake!

I hate painting. It’s not the actual act of painting I dislike, but all of the trappings that come with it: the prep work, the masking, the moving of things, and the inevitable chaos that descends with the furniture/appliances pushed to the middle of the room and all the things you would normally use on a daily basis shifted somewhere else or packed into boxes. Compared to that, the painting part is a breeze.

I thought a newly painted kitchen could use some sort of kitchenwarming (paintwarming?) flair (since you can’t gift yourself), and found the perfect match in heat-transfer vinyl.

Because I’m a clever, clever individual, I forgot to take a picture before I unwrapped it, and did not quite manage to hold the label flush to the roll. I’m not sponsored by Siser, by the way; I just really like how easy their Easyweed actually is.

I found a couple of fun designs on the Silhouette design store, and started cutting!

Are they “sister designs”? Nope. Do I love them? Yes! I sing modified versions of “Baby Got Back” to the cat all the time, so this is beyond appropriate. The tea towels I used were some that I found in my crafty stash, so this was a great way to use them instead of waiting for the perfect project to come along…or maybe this was the perfect project?

And they certainly turned out to be a perfect match for the paint! I can’t say that I’m eager to start cooking again (painting the kitchen is a great excuse to not cook), but at least I can admire my handiwork while I do it.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

cooking

I am not a…salad?

Earlier this summer when the temperatures were high and my motivation to do much of anything was low, I spent a few consecutive evenings camped out on the couch and watching DVD’s from my collection. One night’s feature presentation was Dick, which is a fictional take on the Watergate scandal. High cinema? Hardly. But it had a recognizable cast and a good soundtrack, and there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half.

Some time after that, I was leafing through my mom’s copy of Retro Recipes from the ’50s and ’60s: 103 Vintage Appetizers, Dinners, and Drinks Everyone Will Love (this was a Mother’s Day gift from me, and 100% worth it just for the photos, even if you don’t ever plan on making liver and onions or beef Wellington), when I came across Watergate Salad in the “Side Dishes” section. Reading through the ingredients, I thought that calling it a side dish might be stretching it a bit…but also, I really wanted to make it!

I assembled my ingredients…

Kraft created this recipe to showcase their new-at-the-time pistachio pudding mix, and originally called it “Pistachio Pineapple Delight” before a newspaper columnist gave it its more infamous name. I call it a misnamed dessert.

The pineapple, pudding mix, and pecans get thrown into a mixing bowl along with the marshmallows.

It’s still not a salad, but at least it’s still fairly benign-looking at this point.

Not for long, though…

What the heck, Kraft? This looks like one of those queasy-making dishes you see at Halloween. (“Zombie Brains”!) Folding in the Cool Whip helped a bit.

By the time I was spreading it in the pan, it looked like the picture in the book.

The recipe called for an 8″ baking dish; I went larger than that after looking at how much was in the bowl. (I think my problem might have been a larger container of Cool Whip than the recipe called for, but in my defense it was not labelled as being 8 oz and was also the only size available at the store, so…)

Also of interest: the recipe said it could either be scooped or sliced for serving, and I had my doubts at first. Until…

I’ll be darned! That stuff really held its shape, and I’m not sure if that’s a selling point or not.

By the way, if you’re wanting to try this for yourself, here’s a very similar recipe to the one in the book.

I’m not sure what it is, but it’s definitely not a salad. Even Ambrosia salad feels more salad-like, somehow. Perhaps it’s best enjoyed with shlocky 70s-by-way-of-the-90s nostalgia. It’s cool and light, though, and my mom loved it – so I guess the book was a good investment.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

baking

Cherry, cherry, where you goin’ to?

If you’ve been following my crafty exploits for a while, you’ll know that every summer the cherry tree in the yard produces far more cherries than I care to deal with. To top it off, they’re sour cherries so they don’t make a great snacking fruit. I’ve made jam and cherry crisp in the past, and tried throwing them into muffins with great success, but surely there had to be something else to do with them.

As it turned out, I had a pack of ladyfingers in the pantry from a month or two ago when I had visions of making this icebox cake during strawberry season. It didn’t happen, for a few different reasons, and I knew I wasn’t just going to open the package and eat them like cookies. Would the recipe work with cherries instead of strawberries?

I managed to make cherry picking a bit less arduous this year by grabbing a bowl and picking for as long as it took to fill it. This was somewhere in the 15-20 minute range; definitely doable.

I have problems with recipes that call for fruit (or what-have-you) to be chopped. I’m meticulous rather than speedy…some of my helpers are the opposite.

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly. It’s a lot harder (skipping right along to about halfway through the recipe) adding cherries to the whipped cream mixture without any of the juices, since they tend to be juicier than strawberries are. I tried, though, and I’m not entirely dissatisfied with the pretty pink colour the whipped cream took on.

If you don’t count the time taken for cleaning and chopping the fruit, this recipe actually comes together really fast. And fun fact: apparently my pan flares a bit toward the top, because I was able to fit extra ladyfingers on the second layer.

The last couple of times I’ve made this recipe (with strawberries), it’s been hot as all get-out and I haven’t felt like turning on the oven to make the crumbly topping…but I got an early jump on it and was able to not heat up the house too badly. This is after I crumbled it up; pre-crumbling, it looks a little…gross. So no before picture, sorry.

Et voilΓ !

I love the dark pops of colour the cherries offer! It looks like a more sophisticated version of the original strawberry take. But…how does it look? How does it taste?

It cut so cleanly, and lifted out of the (ungreased) pan with zero difficulty. As summer desserts go, this is a good one! It’s light and goes down really easy, and because I used the crispy ladyfingers rather than the soft ones, they retained some of their original texture and contrasted nicely with the whipped cream and fruit (and crunchy topping). It’s not too sweet, either, thanks to the sour cherries. I love that I’ve got something I can use them in now, besides jam and more jam. πŸ˜‰

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

P.S. What inspired my post title? Click here!

cooking

*Slightly* less magical than Disney…

Last weekend was supposed to have been hot as all get-out and since turning on the oven to bake sounded less-than-appealing, we decided this was our opportunity to try one of those copycat Dole Whip recipes that proliferate on Pinterest. Who needs a passport and a plane ticket when one can recreate all the magic of a Disney park in one’s own kitchen?

If you search out “copycat Dole Whip” online, there are tons of recipes to choose from. I went for this one, which seemed the most true to the recipe released by Disney a couple of years ago and didn’t include any weird add-ins like sugar (the pineapple and ice cream are full of it already, thanks) or lime juice (just…what?).

I had no idea that frozen pineapple even existed until I sought it out for this recipe. We used about half the package (or 2 cups-ish), plus a “big scoop” (~3/4 cup) of vanilla ice cream, and 1/4 cup of pineapple juice.

This view of the blender holds promises of infinite riches, of creamy, tropical bliss. Now, the recipe says that the frozen pineapple chunks should be set out “a few minutes ahead of time”, without really specifying what “a few minutes” is. Diligently photographing my packaged ingredients and then measuring them all out and adding them to the blender surely took “a few minutes”; what the recipe did not tell us is that that was not nearly enough time, and that trying to blend everything now would result in a solid, seized-up frozen chunk that would need to be poked with a stick like some sort of dead body in the woods in order to start moving around the blender.

I feel like if the four kids in Stand by Me had been on a quest to look at frozen pineapple, the movie would never have been a success. Ahem.

After much poking and pulsing, everything more or less came together and looked like the pictures I was seeing online. The recipes almost unanimously agree that to get a classic soft-serve look, this should be spooned into a piping bag and swirled into your cup or bowl.

What they don’t tell you, however, is that any pineapple chunks that escaped the blender’s blades will block the piping tip, resulting in more poking with a stick (a chopstick this time, and not a wooden spoon).

Me: Do you want to just spoon this into the bowls and eat it?

Him: Yup.

It might not have been much to look at, but it was cool and refreshing. Shockingly, the stick-poking didn’t deter us from wanting to try it again – albeit with slightly thawed pineapple next time.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚