Friday, September 19, 2014

Homemade bread and butter pickles.

I know I say this pretty much every time I post something new, but it has been forever since I have posted anything on my blog. I feel bad about it because I had all these plans, but then things got crazy and super busy. I started college on a few week ago, which was crazy. It has been a long few weeks.
A few weeks ago, my grandma and I were searching for a good pickle recipe that would yield good, crunchy pickles. We had two cucumber plants, and I never knew how fast cucumbers produce until this summer. We had so many cucumber, so we thought we would make pickles. My family loves pickles. My grandma used to can pickles all the time. She'd do bread and butter, lime, and dill. However, her dill pickles never stayed crunchy, and usually ended up salty. We knew that we could make bread and butter pickles with some success. So, we did some searching for a relatively easy user-friendly recipe. And we, of course, found one. I have made three or four batches of these now and they are really amazing. My family loves them, and pretty easy to make, which is why I thought I would share them with you. 
Bonus: they only require a water bath to can, and they are required to be canned. They can be stored in the fridge. 
Good luck!



Bread and Butter Pickles

Ingredients:
14 medium cucumbers
2 large onions, sliced
2/3 cups canning salt
6 cups sugar
2 tsp. Turmeric
1 tsp. whole cloves
2 1/2 Tbs. mustard seed
7 cups white distilled vinegar

Directions:
  1. Cut unpeeled cucumbers thinly (I do a 1/4 or smaller, depending on the size of cucumber). Place sliced onions and cucumbers in a large pot. Mix in salt, evenly. 
  2. Refrigerate for 3 hours. 
  3.  Clean (sterilize) the jars, if canning.
  4. After 3 hours, rinse salt off cucumbers and onions and drain. 
  5. In a large pot, combine sugar, Turmeric, whole cloves, mustard seeds, and vinegar. Scald (a hard boil). Stir regularly. 
  6. Add cucumbers and onions. Bring to boil and then remove from heat. 
  7. If canning, spoon cucumbers into jars. Add the liquid to the jars covering the cucumber and leaving about 1/2 an inch of head space (just to the lip) in each jar. If you are not canning, just place in a container to store in the fridge. 
  8. If canning, boil in a water bath for 25 minutes. Let cool for 24 hours. 
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Even if you don't have any experience canning or pickling, I believe you can make these. The recipe is really straight forward. If you have any questions or just want to comment, please do. Thanks! 


                                                                                         Andrea 


 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mini Bagel Pizzas.

I don't know about anyone else, but I sometimes I am at a loss to fun easy creative lunch ideas for the kiddos. Finding fun and easy lunches can be a challenge during the summer. I mean I don't mind putting a ton of effort in occasionally, but it is my summer vacation too. So if I can do as little as possible sometimes and still have yummy lunch then it's a win-win. 
I have two brothers and two sisters. My youngest brother is seven, and my youngest sister is eleven. They both love to help me in the kitchen, so I usually try to find a meal where they can make their own lunch creation. One that we just tried and made together was mini bagel pizzas. They were so easy and fun to make together. They are effortless, and the best part is the easy clean up.
I loved this lunch because the kids got to do all the work. All I had to do was put it in the oven and remove it from the oven. The very best thing was that the kids loved it, which made it all worth it.



Mini Bagel Pizzas
Inspired by my love of carbs, cheese, and smiles.


Ingredients:
Mini bagels (purchased from grocery store)
Cheese, such as mozzarella 
Pizza sauce 
Any other pizza topping desired

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Slice each bagel in half. Top each bagel with sauce. Add toppings (Don't forget the extra cheese;the more the merrier).
  3. Place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven 10-17 minutes or until cheese is melted (I always bake mine until bottoms are crispy because you don't want chewy pizza). 
  4. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Eat up and enjoy your hard work! 
Don't forget to let the kids decorate their pizzas. I remember as a child, I loved to make pizza. My friends and I would have pizza parties, where we would decorate pizzas. Those were the good ol' days. To be young and only have to worry about what you were going to top your pizza with. Anyway please enjoy your summer, and don't forget to stay cool with a sip the perfect sweet iced tea

Peace, love, bake on.

                                           Andrea 


Monday, June 23, 2014

Perfect Sweet Tea.


Well, I am officially a high school graduate. I graduated on the sunny day of May 18th. May was a month of joy and tears. I truly enjoyed my time in high school. However, I am ready to move on. I know that what comes ahead will require hard work and focus, but that doesn't deter me. My family and friends believe that I can succeed, and with hard work, focus, and their support, I know I can. 
April and May were both so busy. As soon as I was done with this huge event that I was coordinating with a friend was over with (which was a huge success), my friend and I had to plan our graduation party. We had about 3 weeks to plan and coordinate our graduation party. It was really tough to get invitations printed, addressed and sent out in time, but we managed. We made all our decorations, which were so cute (I'll have to find some pictures). As soon as that was over, I had all this graduation things to attend to, and, of course, FINALS. That part of the May was relatively stressful, but it's over and I have graduated.
Now it's summer. I can sit back and enjoy the breeze and let my skin soak up some sun-- that is if I put on sunscreen SPF 100. While soaking up the sun and enjoying the breeze, I will take a nice cooling sip of iced sweet tea. Just thinking of iced tea is refreshing. 
Ever take a drink of a tea, and it just isn't all that smooth? Well, I have found the secret ingredient to solve this very serious problem-- baking soda. A pinch of baking soda will give this sweet tea an extra smooth finish, making everyone come back for more. Baking soda really makes all the difference.



Sweet Tea 
adapted from No. 2 Pencil 


Ingredients:
3 family-sized teas bags or 10 regular sized tea bags
4 cups boiling water
12 cups cool water (such as tap water or filtered)
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (I add 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda into bottom of pitcher. Add tea bags to pitcher. 
  2. Pour boiling water into pitcher. If there is a lid for the pitcher place it on the pitcher. Allow to steep for 10-12 minutes (I do 11 minutes). 
  3. After steeping, add sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved completely. 
  4. Pour in remaining 12 cups of water and stir one last time. 
  5. Serve in cups with ice. Enjoy. 
*Tips: Store tea in refrigerator. After a few days sometimes the tea becomes dark and has a harsh after taste. I have found that to refresh the tea, I just add a couple cups of water.


Please enjoy this recipe! It really does make really amazing tea. My sister hates sweet unless I make it. This secret really does make all the difference. But it's called a secret ingredient for a reason, so SSSHHHH! It's a secret. Anyway sit back and take a sip of the perfect sweet tea. Happy summer. 

Peace, love, bake on.

                                          Andrea 



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Life is like a cupcake.

           I love cupcakes, and really that is an understatement. What I really love about cupcakes is the frosting. And really that's what makes a cupcake a cupcake. Without the scrumptious frosting, it'd be like a muffin or what ever a piece of cake is without frosting. But you, of course, can't have a cupcake without the cake. It wouldn't be a cupcake unless it had cake under the layer of yummy frosting. 
          The cake and frosting go hand in hand. The cake and frosting work together. To truly enjoy a cupcake, there must be a balance. There shouldn't be to much cake or to much frosting in each bite. 
          Then there are those people that like more frosting and less cake, or those who like more cake and less frosting. How do you find your balance? You must test the waters. Or in this case, test and eat some cupcakes. It's really a piece of cake. 
          Cupcakes are like life. One must have a balance. You don't what to much of the frosting or to much of the cake. Each person has his or her own balance; each person is different. Some people are more cupcake compatible with each other than they are with others. 
          The cake is the part of life that is stable, rational,  & logical. It is necessary to life, so that a person may survive a day longer. The frosting is the of part of life that is irrational, fun, and it gives life it's spice. It allows you, through reason, to live and have fun. 
         A cupcake isn't as good when there is to much of one part and not enough of the other. This should be kept in mind when living one's life. A person's life could become toxic or become unbalanced with to much of one element. Life wouldn't be as good if there wasn't a balance, and we all what to enjoy life just like we all strive to enjoy the perfect cupcake. 


           Make sense? It at least makes sense in my head. I wish life could always be explained through food, it'd be much easier. Plus everyone on the planet has that one thing in common: food. That's another post all together. 

           Thanks for reading my ramblings on life and cupcakes, and how they are intertwined. Remember: Life is like a cupcake. 

                                                   Peace, love, bake on.
                                                                                
                                                                                 Andrea 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Prom: Dress shopping on a budget.

Prom season is around yet again. Prom is the time when every girl is looking for the perfect dress at the hopefully perfect price. Prom is the time when I am shopping for hard bargains; I'm scouring the internet for a beautiful dress with a price tag to match. Last year, I found several good (trustworthy) sites that you can purchase nice dresses for prom and other formal occasions. You can find my post about them here. This year I did some more researching. The site that I found this year was really hidden. It is truly a hidden treasure. The website is called UWDress.com. It's really a great site. 

There were so many beautiful dresses for affordable deals. I purchased my prom dress from UWDress,com. It's beautiful, and my signature style; I think. Every time I showed a picture of my dress that I ordered to my friends, they were all like "that dress is so you" and "that dress is so pretty" or "you should get that in emerald green." Several of my friends were very adamant that I should get an emerald green dress. Guess why? My RED hair, of course. Red heads look amazing in green; the funny thing is I never wear green. I wear a lot of blue or peach colors. I don't know why, but I do. Maybe I should wear green more often. 

Anyway, ya'll should definitely check out UWDress.com. You won't regret, and even if you don't find or buy your prom dress from them, you can now recommend them to other or for yourself for future reference. 


This is my dress. It's simple, which is what I like. It isn't over the top extravagant, but it's classy. It also comes in other colors.



This dress is pretty and it can be found in many other colors. It can be found here



This dress was my second or third choice. I like how it has some sparkle, but not to much. It is strapless, which I am not a huge fan of, but it is sill a most gorgeous dress. This dress can also be found in other colors.



This dress is really nice also. It is all silver sparkles. But this dress is really nice. If you want something classy and modest, this dress is right up your alley.


What can I say, a girl loves her sparkles . I think it reminds us of diamonds, which are sparkly too.


UWDress.com has so many dresses that come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. These examples were just a few of the many, many dresses that they have. Anyway, good prom shopping!

                                                       Andrea, The Fiery Redhead.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day cupcakes.

Happy Valentine's Day! How do you celebrate the Valentine's Day? When I think of holidays, I think of sweets. So it's only natural that when I think of Valentine's Day, I think of cupcakes. What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than to have cupcakes. 

Cupcakes pretty much sum up the holiday. They make a statement, especially if you made them yourself. Everyone loves cupcakes. So, if you don't know what to give your sweetheart for Valentine's Day then make them cupcakes. Doing so shows that you care enough about the person to share the cupcakes with them. Even if you don't have a sweetheart to share cupcakes with make them anyway, I did. I promise you won't regret it. 

When I made Valentine's Day cupcake, I made chocolate cupcakes ,  my favorite buttercream frosting, and various decorations I found that was Valentine's Day themed. I used these adorable tiny heart shaped sprinkles and these hard candy heart decorations. Both were Wilton. 

I used my favorite piping tip: the Wilton 1M tip. I colored my frosting light pink to go with the theme, of course. 

I hope you draw inspiration from these scrumptious desserts. I shared these Valentine's Day cupcakes with my friends. They all ooohhhed  and ahhhed over them. Let me tell you a secret. I think decorating cupcakes is easy and fun. It just takes a little patience, love, and time that's all. 



 All you that need to make these is a little heart and extra love. 








All it takes is a little heart. 


Have a very, very happy Valentine's Day. Make the most of it. Tell the one's you cherish that you love and appreciate them. Because all it takes three little words to sometimes make a difference. 

As always,

Peace, love, bake on. 

                                                 Andrea 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Salsa Roll-Ups

Okay, so I am a little late on this, but the Super Bowl was over the weekend. So, I am not much a football watcher myself, but since I was given the chance to make a bunch of food, I was all for it. I do watch football now and again. And I do understand the basic concepts and rules of football, but I don't usually let on that I do, though. I'm not sure why. 

Anyway, I was at this party several days before with my cousin, who also happens to be one of my best friends, and her boyfriend. And at this party, I had some roll-ups that had cream cheese and salsa in them. When I asked what they were made of, I told myself I was going to recreate them as soon as I got home. And I did. It all worked out perfectly since the Super Bowl was the very same weekend. 

Of course, I recreated them with my very own version. I did some research and decided to make my own version of them. And the recipe came out to be something like this.




Cream Cheese Salsa Roll-Ups

Ingredients:

1- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese plus a little extra
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1  4-6 oz can olives (sliced, which 
I always buy the whole ones and cut them myself)
3 green onions, sliced thinly
5-6 tortillas (I used 10 inch, but 
smaller ones can be used)


Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, using mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Next, add salsa and sour cream, and mix together.  
  2. Add the chili powder, cheese, olives, green onions and mix together. Now, add the olives (after adding olives, I mixed using a spoon or spatula instead of the electric mixer.) 
  3.  Now, spoon about a 1/2 of a cup of the mixture (or smaller amount if using a smaller sized tortilla like a 6 inch) onto a tortilla. Sprinkle a little extra cheese (because you can never have enough cheese, this is optional), and then roll up tightly.
  4.  Wrap each tortilla roll-up in plastic wrap individually and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours. 
  5. Cut into 3/4 inch pinwheels and serve immediately. Can be served with extra salsa if desired. 


I love these because they are easy to make and they are delicious. My whole family loved them. They make great appetizers and snacks for any occasion. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family did. If you have any questions or just want to comment please by either emailing me or commenting below. Thanks!

                                                      Andrea