Saturday, November 19, 2016

"The Claw" costume

It's been months since I've posted any projects, but Bea's Halloween costume this year was so much fun, I just had to share.

Bea decided she wanted to be an arcade "Claw" machine. We found a used "claw" on eBay, and Eric did all the construction using red foam board, red masking tape and lots of hot glue. He even made a secret candy compartment inside the coin slot that Bea could open with the push of a button. I added the graphics, blinking lights and stuffed animal accessories inside. She looked like the real deal, for sure. 

The Claw costume was a huge hit - especially with Bea. Even though it was sorta heavy and hard to maneuver at times, she was so proud of her costume and the rave reviews she got at trunk-or-treat events, the school costume parade, and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. 

Our kids are getting older, so our crazy costume days are almost over. Sigh. It sure has been fun.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Life's Current To-Do List

I've always been a big fan of making lists. Mostly because I REALLY enjoyed crossing things off. (It makes you feel like you're accomplishing stuff, right?) 

Well, after I published and promoted my book last fall, I decided to take a break from lists. And projects. And basically anything that felt like it was adding stress and taking away joy in life. So that's why our blog has been a little quiet. (Insert crickets chirping here.)

I saw this "Ultimate List" on Pinterest the other day and it pretty much summed up my attitude lately. 

Who knows, I may be back sharing projects one day. Or I may find that I really enjoy doing less. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dessert Green Bean Casserole

I have a dear friend who has a strong hatred of green bean casserole. So much, that he's written many diatribes on Facebook about it's nastiness. Here's just one of the more tame, abbreviated examples: 

"Ebola, schmebola. If you've had that Thanksgiving green bean casserole - made by suffocating innocent vegetables in a can of Campbell's Cream of Toxic Gray Sludge, garnished with an old man's yellowed toenail clippings - then you've survived something far worse than Ebola.

Hoping to bring a smile to his face and laughter in his belly this Thanksgiving, I created a dessert version of the classic green bean casserole in his honor.

Thanks, Joe. Your friendship is better than a "steaming pile of raccoon vomit" any day.

Instructions and step-by-step photos of how to bake your own dessert green bean casserole are below. Enjoy!

Dessert Green Bean Casserole

This recipe will make 2 tart-sized desserts or one casserole-sized dessert
Approximate time: 30 minutes

Ingredients & supplies:
1 tube sugar cookie dough
8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup granulated sugar
Lemon juice
Green and black food coloring
1 cup Frosted Flakes cereal
2 tart dishes or one casserole dish

1. Gather your ingredients and supplies.

2. Spray your casserole or tart dishes with non-stick spray. Using half of the sugar cookie dough, press it into the bottom and sides of your baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 11-15 minutes.

3. Add green food coloring to the other half of the sugar cookie dough. Mix well. You might add a little bit of flour to keep it from sticking to your hands as you roll it.

4. Roll the dough into tiny green been shapes and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. (If they spread slightly during baking, just use your fingers to reshape them like green beans while they’re still warm.

5. Mix together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add just a tiny bit of black food coloring to make it light gray (similar to what cream of mushroom soup looks like.)

6. Top the baked sugar cookie crust with the cream cheese mixture.

7. Add the baked, green bean sugar cookies on top and line the outer edge of the dessert with Frosted Flakes cereal to look like the “fried onions.”

Serve up a surprising slice or a spoonful to your Thanksgiving guests!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Strawberry Turkeys

This year, I'm thankful for simple food crafts that make me smile - like these sweet, strawberry turkey treats.

Just cover a strawberry in a caramel apple wrap, add some pretzel and Tootsie Roll legs, and you've got a miniature roasted turkey.

Then, gobble, gobble, gobble them up.

Here are my step-by-step instructions. Enjoy!

Strawberry Turkey Treats

This recipe will make 10 Strawberry Turkeys
Approximate time: 30 minutes

10 large strawberries
10 caramel apple wraps
10 dipping pretzel sticks
10 vanilla Tootsie Rolls

1. Gather your ingredients and supplies.

2. Cut a small piece off the upper side the strawberry so that it leaves a flat area for the strawberry to sit.

3. Place the strawberry in the center of a caramel wrap, with the cut side up.

4. Gently wrap the strawberry in caramel, trimming off any excess caramel with scissors, and shape it to look like a roasted turkey body.

5. To make the turkey legs, break the dipping pretzels in half. Tear off pieces of vanilla Tootsie Roll and shape them over the rounded end of the pretzels to make the bone. Use your scrap pieces of caramel from wrapping the strawberries, to make the meaty part of the turkey legs.

6. Attach the pretzel turkey legs to the sides of the strawberry turkey body. If they don’t stick immediately, use some softened pieces of caramel to help attach them.

Strawberry Turkey Treats are best if served immediately. Store in a cool room. Can be refrigerated for 24-hours, but will start to get sticky if left refrigerated too long.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Candy Snoopy Balloon

Snoopy has always been one of my favorite balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Did you know, there have been seven different Snoopy balloons since 1968?

In honor of the new Peanuts movie and Thanksgiving, I created this candy, cupcake-topper version of the Snoopy & Woodstock balloon that debuted in 2013. 

If you'd like to make your own, below is tutorial and some step-by-step photos.

Candy Snoopy Balloons

This recipe will make 3 Candy Snoopy Balloons
Approximate time: 30 minutes

Ingredients & supplies:
6 white Jordan almonds
6 black jellybeans
6 white jellybeans
12 white Tic Tac candies
6 yellow candy-coated sunflower seeds
3 yellow candy decorator hearts
3 red candy melt wafers
6 white candy melt wafers
3 black candy melt wafers
3 yellow candy melt wafers
1 black food color marker
3 clear acrylic food picks
3 frosted cupcakes
Drill bit and exact-o/serrated knife

1. Gather your ingredients and supplies. 

2. Drill a small hole in the bottoms of three Jordan almonds (wide enough to fit your acrylic food picks.) Using a serrated knife or exact-o knife, carve a flat, angled spot near the pointed tops of the almonds. (This is the area that the head and body will attach.)

3. Make the Snoopy heads. Cut the black jelly beans at a slight angle, lengthwise, for the ears. Attach them to the sides of the Jordan almonds that have not been drilled or cut. The ears should stick with just a little pressure. Draw on the eyebrows and eyes with your black food color marker. Melt the black candy melt wafers in a microwave safe dish. Using a toothpick, add just a dab of candy melt for the noses.

4. Make the Snoopy arms and legs. Cut three of your white jellybeans in half, lengthwise, for the feet. Cut the rounded tips off the other three white jellybeans for the hands. Melt the white candy melt wafers in a microwave safe dish. Using a toothpick, put tiny dabs of candy melt on the tops of the jelly bean feet and hands, and attach the Tic Tac candies. Allow them to dry and harden.

5. Make Snoopy’s red dog collar. Using a small circle cutter, make three red circles from your red candy melt wafers. 

6. Attach the Snoopy heads to the bodies. Insert the clear food picks into the Jordan almonds with the holes. (It’s helpful to use a piece of foam to keep the toothpicks in place for assembly.) Attach the red dog collars to the body almonds with a dab of white candy melt. Allow them to dry and harden. Next, attach the Snoopy heads to the tops of the dog collars with more white candy melt. Allow them to dry and harden.

7. Attach the body parts. Using small dabs of white candy melt on a toothpick, attach the arms, legs and a tiny tail to the almond body. (The tails can be cut from leftover pieces of white jellybeans.) Be patient when attaching these items. You may have to hold them in place for a few seconds while they dry and harden.

8. Create Woodstock. To make the Woodstock bird, use two, yellow, candy-coated sunflower seeds. Attach the bird’s body to Snoopy’s head with a dab of melted yellow candy wafers. Next, attach the bird’s head, and add a yellow candy decorator heart for the tail. Using a toothpick, dab spikes of yellow candy melt on the bird’s head for Woodstock’s “feathers.”

Create a festive parade of cupcakes by topping them with your Candy Snoopy Balloons! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Oreo Cookie Costume

I often joke that my kids are rarely impressed with my baking creations, and would almost always rather eat an Oreo cookie.

So, I wasn't surprised when Bea decided she wanted to be an Oreo for Halloween this year. It was the perfect choice really. She's one sweet kid. (And a really smart cookie.) She even came up with the idea of using a milk jug for her candy bucket.

Oreos & milk - the perfect combination.

Gus is 14 now, so he decided he was too old to dress up and go trick-or-treating this year. But he was a nice big brother, and helped walk Bea around the neighborhood.

I didn't take any how-to photos as I made the costume, but it was pretty simple. First, I had Signs Now print the Oreo wafer images on adhesive vinyl. Then I applied them to black foam core and cut out the cookie shapes with an exacto knife. For the creamy filling, I used upholstery foam, making sure to cut holes for the head, arms and legs. The foam tends to have a yellowish hue, so I painted it white with spray paint. Bea wore a white shirt, tights, hat and gloves and I painted the inside of the milk jug with white spray paint too.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Edible Art at WAM

I met some lovely, lovely folks today at the Wichita Art Museum during my make & take edible art event. I'm especially thankful for two of the world's best helpers - Gus & Bea. They did such a wonderful job of welcoming people to come play with the food projects that were set out on the tables. Bea even sold and autographed a few books for me. 

One of my favorite guests was this little cutie. She and her mom stopped by and they made one of each treat. She's a future creative in the kitchen, for sure.

Thanks to the Wichita Art Museum for hosting me and my book today. Happy to be a part of their "Around the WAM in 80 Days" - 80 events in 80 days to celebrate 80 years. I even made this special treat inspired by the new art garden - a fudge and cake version of the Douglas Abdell sculpture "Kaephae-Aekyad #2." (Or as I was calling it: "Abstract Poodle.")


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