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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sweet Treats Saturday: Macadamia Nut Crunch Ice Cream

Living so close to Hawaii (ok, really, not that close, but I like to pretend) I like to get my tropical fix by indulging in island flavors like macadamia nuts.  Actually, having some friends that live there and having been on a recent trip, I found myself staring at a jar of macadamia nuts in my pantry.  I knew I wanted to make something sweet with them and this recipe was the perfect summer solution.

The brittle is so good that you'll want to eat it on it's own. Don't - it's worth it putting it into the ice cream mixture. However, I can't help it if there might be some that 'just wouldn't fit' and somehow ended up in my mouth.  It was worth it.

Macadamia Nut Crunch Ice Cream
Recipe from Technicolor Kitchen

Ingredients for Macadamia Nut Crunch:
2/3 cup roasted salted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Ingredients for Ice Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole mik
pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions for the Macadamia Nut Crunch:
1. Lay out a silpat mat or butter a small rimmed baking sheet.  Combine nuts and baking soda in a small bowl.
2.  Stir sugar, water and butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts, about 2 minutes.
3.  Increase heat to medium-high.  Boil until amber colored, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.  Mix in nut mixture and immediately pour it onto silpat or buttered sheet, spreading as much as possible.  Cool completely then chop into small pieces.  Set aside to add to the ice cream mixture.

Directions for the ice cream:
1. Bring cream, milk and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan.  Whisk sugar and egg yolks in a medium bowl.  Gradually whisk the hot ice cream mixture into the yolk mixture - making sure to start with a small amount of the hot liquid so as to not curdle the eggs.  Return mixture to the same saucepan.
2.  Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves a path on the back of a wooden spoon when your finger is drawn across.  Do not let the custard mix boil.  
3. Pass the custard through a sieve into a medium bowl.  Stir in vanilla and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours.
4. Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Add the crunch brittle during the last few minutes of churning.  Transfer to a container, cover and freeze until firm.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Checking In

Sorry for the lack of posts. So much has been going on... between house guests, work, dance, life, etc... I haven't had much time for sewing and have been so pre-occupied physically and mentally.  I have made a dent in two needlecraft projects.  One baby blanket for a wonderful friends' baby shower in a couple of weeks, and my other crochet blanket that I've been working on since the dawn of time (or last November).  I hope to finish the baby blanket this week, and well... I hope to finish the other blanket before its one year anniversary of casting on, but I really can't promise anything.

We're going away for a few days for a little R&R.  I will hopefully get this time to mentally get back in the sewing game, and maybe even meet up with a fellow blogger.  I'll keep you posted, and I promise I won't be gone for too much longer.  And of course, keep looking for the regular Sweet Treats posts. Those are still coming to you every Saturday!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sweet Treats Saturday: Orange Almond Cupcakes

I had some more almonds calling to my from the panty, and I wanted to make use of some fresh summer fruit.  Our orange tree is filled year-round, but I really don't make enough use of it's fruit.  So, I grabbed a couple and whipped up this recipe.  It was soooo good.  It's probably one of my favorite cupcake recipes.  The orange tastes fresh without being overpowering, and I love the combination with the almond flavor.

Orange Almond Cupcakes
Recipe from Lauren's Latest
Makes 12 regular or 36 mini cupcakes
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Ingredients for the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp orange zest
1 egg

Ingredients for the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir to combine and make a large well in the center.  Pour in the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined.

3.  Spoon the batter into the prepared tins to 3/4 full and bake for 18-22 minutes (less for mini's).  Cool completely before frosting.

4.  To make the frosting, whip the butter, orange juice, zest and vanilla together.  Slowly stir in powdered sugar until it starts to come together.  Scrape sides and whip 30 seconds until light and fluffy.  Frost cupcakes and store in an airtight container.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Savory Sunday: Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks

The hubby and I both love scalloped potatoes, and when asked to bring a side dish to a recent party, I jumped on this recipe.  It's one of my tried and true, and I make it for most of our large lunch or dinner get-togethers.  There wasn't a bite left in the dish by the time the party was over - a sign of success in my book!

This recipe is easy to transport to a party because once it's out of the oven, it needs to rest for 15-30 minutes.  Just enough time to wrap it up in some foil and drive over to the event.  Because of all of the baked, cheesy goodness, it stays warm for quite a bit afterwards too.

Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks
Recipe from Martha Stewart
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2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 leeks, trimmed, thinly sliced and well rinsed (about 1 cup)
6 russet potatoes (2 1/2 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
fresh ground pepper, to taste
8 oz gruyere cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 12 cup baking dish (I used a standard 9x13 dish).

2.  Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks and cook until translucent, about 3 o 4 minutes.

3.  Arrange 1/3 of the potatoes in dish, slightly overlapping slices.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the salt, 1/2 of the nutmeg, paper, and cover with 1/2 of the leeks and 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat.  Top with remaining potatoes.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

4  Combine cream and stock.  Pour over cheese and potatoes.  Cover with parchment and foil.  Mixture can be refrigerated overnight.

5.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Increase temperature to 425 degrees F, uncover, and cook until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.  Let rest for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sweet Treats Saturday: Brown Butter Toffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I promised our recent house guests that they would have fresh cookies waiting for them upon their arrival (they were driving all the way from Texas to California) if they could make it by the evening of their second day of driving.  They had been trapped in Southern California traffic and were debating whether or not to push through to the end.  I'd like to think that my cookies were what made them continue the journey.  They made it in record time, and they had these delicious, fresh baked goodies waiting for them.

Brown Butter and Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Table for Two
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1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
14tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp salt
2tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup Heath (or similar) toffee pieces

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line baking sheets.

2.  Whisk the flour and baking soda together and set aside.

3.  In a small skillet  over medium-high feet, melt 10 tbsp of butter and continue cooking until the butter is a dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma.  Swirl constantly so it doesn't burn.  This should take a couple of minutes.

4.  Pour brown butter into a heatproof bowl and stir in the remaining 4 tbsp of butter into the bowl, stirring until it's completely melted (it helps if the 4 tbsp of butter are cut into small pieces).

5.  In a large bowl, mix both sugars, salt, and vanilla with the butter and beat using an electric mixer until well incorporated.  Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until smooth, with no sugar lumps in it.

6.  Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes, then beat on high for 30 seconds.  Repeat this process 2 more times until the mixture is thick and smooth.

7.  Stir in the flour mixture until just combined, then stir in the chocolate chips and toffee bits by hand.

8.  Scoop out cookie dough using a medium sized cookie scoop or a spoon - the dough should be about the size of 2 tbsp.  Space 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges are crispy and the insides are soft.  Let cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Pattern Giveaway Winners

Hello readers! I apologize for the delay! It's been a crazy week at work and also getting back into our normal routines after house guests for two weeks.  I was totally wow'd by the number of people who entered the summer pattern giveaway and was excited to divvy up the responses.  Surprisingly, an almost even number requested either pattern.  I was waiting to see a clear favorite pop up, but it really was as close to divided in half as it could be (with 31 entries).  So, onto the winners!

Winners were selected using random.org after I sorted the entries into two buckets - Simplicity 1873 and 0325.

The winner of Simplicity 1873 is:
Stacy Sews and Schools
'My favorite summer tradition is cooking out and just hanging around the house with my family. '

The winner of Simplicity 0325 is:
Cuckoo Chanel
'My favorite summer activity is going to Block Island, RI with my boyfriend. During this heat wave, I am also devoted to jumping into the pool as soon as I get home from work!'

Congratulations to the winners!  I really had fun with this and it made me want to host more giveaways.  So, if you were not a winner, stay tuned as I'll try to get another giveaway going shortly.

If the two winners could please send me their mailing address at craftycupcakeblog@gmail.com.  Thank you!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Sweet Treats Saturday: Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles! I've made them before but this is just a slightly different version.  What the previous version had in crispiness, this one had in chewiness.  I found this closer to store-bought snicker doodles and it totally fulfilled my craving for a kicked up sugar cookie.

Makes about 36
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1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 egg
1/2 sp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon

1.  In a medium mixing bowl, bea the butter until smooth (about 30 seconds).  Add the sugar, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer, then stir in the remaining amount with a spoon.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a small bowl, combine the 3 tbsp sugar and cinnamon.  Shape dough into 1inch balls (I used a small cookie dough scoop).  Roll in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 11 minutes, or until edges are golden.  Transfer cookies to racks to cool.  Store in an airtight container.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The 'Boardwalk' Dress

I was so excited to receive Christine Haynes new pattern in the mail! I signed up for her Sassy Librarian Craftsy class and was pretty into her style, so I instantly preordered one of her two new patterns when she announced them.  It arrived early last week, bundled up in the cutest retro designed tissue paper, calling to me to make it up.  I just happened to have picked up this red, white and blue floral print fabric for this week's Sew Weekly challenge... in 3 1/2 yards, just under what the pattern called for. But with my creative pattern placement, I actually had just enough fabric.  I think her yardage allowances were pretty generous and I can be pretty frugal with my pattern placements - making sure to get every last inch of fabric covered so that I 1) have leftovers, and 2) can use 3 1/2 yards of fabric when almost 4 are called for.  Genius. (Or cheap... whatever).

The Facts
Fabric: 3.5 yards floral printed cotton, $22, on sale
Pattern: Christine Haynes Derby Dress pattern, $18
Year: Contemporary
Notions: None!
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: This last Friday, to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Wear again? Yup
Total cost: $40

When it actually came time to cut out the fabric, I almost got cold feet.  I started to worry that the dress shape just wouldn't be flattering on me.  Ultimately, I bit the bullet.  I had spent the money on the pattern, the dress looked really cute... I should just do it.

The pattern was a breeze to assemble.  While there were quite a few pieces, they were no-fuss, no zippers, no notions... just me, my machine, and my serger.  I didn't make the belt that comes with the dress... yet.  I will, I just wanted to be done and I was happy with the look with my own little brown belt.  The only aspect that I wasn't a fan of was the way the notches were done on the pattern.  Instead of being inside the pattern lines, they were out... which would seem easy enough to fix but I was too lazy to draw the notches into the patterns.  I know some people prefer to notch their patterns on the outside but I figure that with a standard 5/8" seam allowance, there's no real need.  Anyways, not a deal breaker by any means but just something I had on my mind.

We've had some out of town family members staying with us so we're showing them the California sites.  We took them to Santa Cruz. It's a somewhat nearby coastal town famous for it's hippie vibe, surfer culture, and Boardwalk (which you may recognize from the movie Lost Boys).  It was actually a gorgeous summer early-evening.  We rode a few rides, enjoyed some funnel cake, took pictures on the beach and had Marianne's ice cream.  The dress held up really well though keeping the front slouchy can be a challenge when you constantly stuff your hands in your pockets.

Here are some more pictures from our trip to the Boardwalk:

I did not go on the ride in the last picture. Ok, well, I went on the roller coast, but not the crazy spider arm.  I left that one to my hubby and our house guests.  My excuse was that I was wearing a dress. In reality, I thought I'd pee my pants (which would be pretty impressive considering I was wearing a dress).

What I Watched: Trainspotting (1996). Love. Ewan. McGregor. Oh and Kelly MacDonald was so young! The Shawshank Redemption (1994).  I feel like I watched this recently but I just love this movie.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Summer Pattern Giveaway

The promised giveaway is here!  In celebration of surpassing 250 GFC followers, 200 Facebook followers, and just because I appreciate my readers, I am giving away two of the new Simplicity summer patterns.   

One may look familiar – I just made Simplicity 1873.
And the other dress, Simplicity 0325, just looked like a fun summer pattern.  I love the center pleat in the skirt.

To enter: Please leave a comment to this post specifying the pattern that you prefer, and for fun... what's your favorite summer activity/tradition?  If your profile doesn’t have a link to your email, please also leave a way to contact you.  This giveaway will close on July 9th, and is open to all readers (global) that follow via Google Friend Connect, Facebook, or RSS feed.

*Note, this giveaway is not sponsored by Simplicity, but are new, uncut patterns from my own personal collection.
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