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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Salted Chocolate and Caramel Popcorn

1 bag popped popcorn
2 ½ cups mini pretzels, broken into pieces
1 cup pecans
½ cup salted butter
1 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
½ cup light-corn syrup
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup mini marshmallows

Put popcorn into a very large bowl.  Be sure to remove any un-popped kernels.  Add in crushed pretzels, marshmallows and pecans and gently fold mixture together, set aside.  In an large microwave safe bowl, melt butter, it should take about 50 seconds.  Stir in brown sugar, light corn syrup and salt.  Mix well.  Microwave mixture for 2 minutes, then stir and immediately return to microwave and cook 2 more minutes.  Remove from microwave, add in vanilla and baking soda and stir until frothy, about 10 seconds (don’t be tempted to dip your finger in and taste test, it is HOT).  Pour caramel over popcorn mixture and gently stir until evenly coated.  Pour caramel coated popcorn mixture onto a parchment or wax paper covered cookie sheet. Melt milk chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, on 50% power in 30 second intervals stirring after each interval until melted and smooth.  Pour melted chocolate into a piping bag or ziploc bag and cut the tip off and drizzle melted chocolate over popcorn. Place chocolate covered popcorn in refrigerator until chocolate hardens, about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from refrigerator and break popcorn into pieces.  Store popcorn in an airtight container.

Homemade Lemon Curd

3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

In a small saucepan, whisk together egg yolk and egg until combines. While whisking, pour in sugar, lemon juice and zest, and continue whisking until creamy and well incorporated, about one minute. Place over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens and can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the butter, one cube at a time. Strain into a bowl or jar, cover surface with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Makes 1 cup

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/2-3/4 cup pepperoni, chopped
1/2 cup pizza sauce

Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes. Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.


DIY Swing Set

Build A-Frames

Child safety first: Round the edges and ends of all pieces of lumber with a belt sander. Use 3/8-inch carriage bolts for fasteners and countersink the holes on the threaded side, so that no bolts protrude from the frame. Construct the A-frame ends from 8- or 10-foot-long, 4-by-4 pressure-treated posts. The two posts meet at an angle of 60 degrees. To accommodate a cross beam between end frames, cut the post top ends at 30 degrees. Cut the post bottom ends at 60 degrees to sit flat on the ground. See the illustration.
Use a rafter square to mark the angles. You are making an equilateral triangle in which the base is the same as the height. To use 8-foot long posts, make the base 7 feet wide and the finished height will be about 7 feet. Cut the posts on a miter saw. For the bottom ends of the posts, you will have to cut complementary angles since the maximum angle on a miter saw is 45 degrees. Add two 2-by-4 cross pieces, one at the apex where the angle cuts end and the other at a height of 3 1/2 feet from the bottom of the A-frame. The opening for the swing support beam should be 3 1/2 inches wide or slightly more--measure the beam for the opening size. Drill holes for 3/8-inch carriage bolts and countersink the holes on one side so that the bolt ends, washers and nuts are below the surface of the wood. Trim the ends of the cross pieces to match the 60-degree angle of the A-frame.

Swing Support

Stand the A-frames up in place and temporarily brace each with two 1-by-3 boards. Plumb the frames with a level. Lift a 4-by-6 beam (get a helper, they are heavy) into place between the two frames. Secure with two 1/2-inch bolts by drilling through the post, into the beam and out the other post. Countersink the holes to hide the nuts, washers and bolt ends. Make swings seats from 5/4-by-6-inch deck boards. Drill two holes in each end for ropes. A good width is 12 to 14 inches. In the swing support beam, drill 3/8-inch holes and install 3/8-inch eye-bolts. Countersink the holes on top of the beam to hide the nuts, washers and eye-bolt ends. Suspend the swings with soft, 5/8 inch braided rope. Synthetic rope is best since it doesn't rot. Thread the rope through an eye-bolt and take both ends down through one end of the swing seat, one rope end through each hole. Tie a knot and secure the tag ends of the knot with waterproof duct tape.


Dig post holes 6 inches in diameter and 2 feet deep next to each post. Set a pressure-treated 2-by-4 upright in the hole and bolt it to the 4-by-4 frame post. Counter sink the nut and bolt end into the 4-by-4. Add half a 40-pound bag of quick setting concrete to the hole and stir in water per instructions. Once the concrete sets, typically after 30 to 60 minutes, refill the remainder of the hole with dirt.

Source: http://www.ehow.com/way_5453488_diy-wooden-swingset-budget.html

Friday, March 16, 2012

Red Beans and Rice

Photo Source: http://media-cdn1.pinterest.com/upload/262334747013825268_v0IxuwOf_f.jpg

1 1/2 cup long grain white rice
 3 cups hot water
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pkg smoked sausage
1 pkg Andoullie sausage
 2-3 cans red beans
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

Add the rice, water and salt to a sauce pan with a lid. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, then cover & simmer for 15 mins. Meanwhile, thinly slice the sausage and drain the juice from the red beans into the sink. Add 2-3 tbsp olive oil to to a large skillet and begin heating over medium heat. Add the sausage, give a sprinkling of creole seasoning and stir occasionally for about 7 mins until the sausages start to get sizzly on both sides. Add the red beans and stir until warmed through. About this time, your rice should be done too. Serve the beans and sausage over the rice. Add extra creole seasoning as desired at the table. Serves 4.
Source: http://www.kevinandamanda.com