Monday, October 29, 2012

{ Autumn Mix Popcorn }





My oven caught on fire.
Sadly, that's not the opening line to a joke. It actually caught fire. Well, not like flaming up, gotta call the fire department fire, but my element definitely had 3" flames coming off of it.

I was baking Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes for the Bean's girlfriend's dad. He likes to read my blog (Hi Roger!) and try to get her to make him some of the treats. I told them to pick something and I'd send it home with her one night. She chose the Cookie Dough Cupcakes. With nine minutes left in the bake time, yeah... flamage. 

Luckily, I was standing in the kitchen at the time and saw it happen.

Needless to say, I'm ovenless at the time. It's just the element, but it has to be ordered online. 

I'm going to need about a week's worth of stovetop/crockpot/toaster oven recipes.

This is the 2nd time in 6 years that this has happened. The first time didn't include flames, but an element blew out (and into pieces) a few years ago. I'm thinking i should forget the new element and just buy a new stove. This one is a menace. Sadly, that is not in the cards for me at this point in time.

Woe is me.
I think I'll survive though.

I needed a goody to take to Youth Group last night and baking was, clearly, out of the question.

I've done a couple popcorn mixes before. My Snowflake Crunch Popcorn & My Luck O' The Irish Pop and they are always a big hit. They are quick and easy to  make, and daggone tasty too.

I took 2 gallon sized bags last night and came back with zero kernels.

I think they liked it.

Here's what you need:

Autumn Mix Popcorn

You'll need:

3 bags of popcorn
(a variety that is light on butter)
6 squares of Almond Bark*
Candy Coloring (optional)
Candy Corn Mix
Fall Colored M&Ms  
Assorted Fall Sprinkles
Oil
*you can also use colored candy melts
I know this is crazy, but I could NOT find the Autumn colored M&Ms at the store yesterday. So, I just picked the blue out & used the rest.



Pop 1 bag of popcorn. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove any un-popped kernels
Melt  2 squares of Almond Bark, 30 seconds at a time, in the microwave. Mine took about 1 1/2 minutes to fully melt. Add about 1 teaspoon of oil and stir until very well blended.

For my colors I did orange and black and left one bag just plain white.

You can color all, use different colors, or not color, leaving all the chocolate white.

With your bag of popcorn poured into a large bowl, drizzle with the chocolate. Allow a few minutes to cool,  sprinkle in 1/4 of the candy, then toss with your hands. Pour out onto foil/parchment to allow drying.

Repeat this process with the next two colors.

When you have all of it on the foil, sprinkle the remaining candy & any autumn sprinkles you wish.



After is it dry, mix all the colors together in a large bowl for serving.

Store in a tightly sealed container/ziploc bag. Stays fresh for about 2 days.



Baking isn't necessary for a delicious treat!

This would be excellent for Halloween parties, for Trick or Treaters (that you know!), and even sat out on Thanksgiving as a fun football game food!
 Now, I'm off to fix spaghetti, because, yes, no oven required for that!

Tina
















 

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!


Did you know the expression Winner Winner Chicken Dinner comes from the days in Vegas when the minimum table bet ($2) was the same value as a Chicken Dinner? Therefore, if you won the $2, you'd have enough for your chicken dinner. The rhyming factor, of course, made it stick.

Oh, the things my child tells me.



The winner, winner, chicken dinner of my 2nd Blogiversary prize, via random.org is:

Post #64!



Congratulations, KaySue. I know you'll LOVE the awesome tips (I use mine all the time!) & cupcake liners from Bake It Pretty!

Thanks to everyone who enters and, of course, to Bake It Pretty for providing the prize!

Tina

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

{ UPDATED with WINNER: Giveaway: It's My 2nd Blogiversary! }





It's been 2 years since I posted this. It's kinda crazy hard to believe, but there it is, in black and white. Ok, fine, it's actually in red, but there it is.

Over the last 2 years, I've shared lots of recipes and stories with you. Each day I get more and more visitors. Some days I'm honestly shocked that this many people visit my little ole blog. I'm grateful for each 'click' you all make though!

In celebration of my little anniversary, I asked Bake It Pretty, my favorite supply site, if they'd give a prize. They agreed!


Bake It Pretty has an amazing selection of cupcake liners, sprinkles, fun packaging, toppers, and so much more!

In my last order, I got some adorable mini berry baskets, egg cartons, and treat tubs and lids to fill with goodies for Christmas! Did you know that mini cupcakes or truffles will fit perfectly in the egg cartons? What an awesome gift! 

Now to the giveaway!

You are entering to win The Best-Ever Cupcake Kit, which is a really awesome kit! You'll also win an assortment of Bake It Pretty's favorite cupcake liners (chosen by them). 

photo property of www.bakeitpretty.com


You can earn up to 3 entries. 

1. Required entryYou must go to Bake It Pretty and then, come back here, and post your favorite thing. Please be SPECIFIC. Just saying something like "cupcake liners" will disqualify your comment. However, something like "Vintage Pink Zebra Cupcake Liners" is a proper answer.

for extra entries (NOT required)

2. Like Sugar Bean Bakers on Facebook
 (if you already like Sugar Bean Bakers on Facebook, you still get the extra entry :))

3. Share this post on Facebook

Leave a separate comment for EACH entry. A winner will be chosen via a Random.org drawing

Please leave your email in each comment so I can contact you! If you are the winner, your prize will be shipped to you directly from Bake It Pretty.

Contest closes 10/29/12 at 8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time

The winner will be announced on Monday, October 29th, 2012.

Thanks for participating in my Blogiversary Giveaway! Good luck!

Thanks, Bake It Pretty & thanks to all of my readers for making this fun, even 2 years later!



UPDATED:

The winner posted #64, KaySue!

Congrats!

Tina































Tuesday, October 23, 2012

{ Tomorrow is my Blogiversary! }

Tomorrow Sugar Bean Bakers turns TWO!!

WOOHOO!!

To celebrate, I will be having a giveaway sponsored by Bake It Pretty!

I LOVE Bake It Pretty! They have awesome stuff and lightening fast shipping.

Their packing is also adorable :)

Here's a peek at how my last ordered was packed.


I ordered it on a Tuesday and hoped it would be for my party on Saturday. It arrived on Thursday! Can't complain about that.

So, stop by tomorrow learn how to win an awesome prize from Bake it Pretty!

Tell your friends!

Two years and this is still fun!

Thanks for making it awesome,

Tina

Monday, October 22, 2012

{ Festivals, Funnel Cakes, and Deep Fried Twinkies }

This post is brought to you in 3 parts.

1.  Ren Fest
2. Funnel Cakes


3. Deep Fried Twinkies


Shall we go forward?

PART 1

Every year for the last several, the Bean and I have gone to the Renaissance Festival. We love the swashbuckling action, the humor, the costumes, the (sometimes convincing) British accents. The feel of the Festival is just so much fun.

We traveled there yesterday, barely fitting it in this year, as it was the very last day of the event (it runs for 8 weekends Sept-Oct). However, we did make it, and that's what counts.

The Bean, being a thespian, never misses the chance to dress in costume. So, we went. I, in my Hunger Games T-Shirt, and he, as The Dread Pirate Roberts (from our favorite movie!). He's worn the costume before, and people have thought he was Zorro. It was fun being around geeks who knew exactly who he was. "The Dread Pirate Roberts!" they'd  yell. "Inconceivable!" he'd yell back.

GOOD.TIMES.


His girlfriend even walked around with him like that. All day. Willingly.

I've only ever been to Ohio's Ren Fest, of course, but it is a sprawling spread of buildings, games, stages, etc.


There is one thing that always happens at the Ren Fest.

We eat...



PART 2
This year, I decided we should make our own instead.

When I was a teenager, our church used to sell them at a local festival. So, making funnel cakes is not a new experience. It HAD been a 'few' years though.

Please note, this recipe is NOT for small children & everyone should exercise extreme caution with the hot oil.

Funnel Cake Batter

1 Cup Flour
1 Egg
3/4 Cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons sugar*
dash of cinnamon (optional)

*you can use 1 Tablespoon of sugar or no sugar, but I like my cakes a little sweeter. 

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and cinnamon. 


Then, in a small bowl, beat together the milk and egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  



Beat in the vanilla. Whisk until well combined. This very much resembles a pancake batter.

In a deep skillet, heat at least 1" of oil to approx. 375 degrees F. I simply use the sizzle test. Drop a bit of batter in, and if it sizzles and rises to the top, it's ready.

Place your finger over the spout of a funnel, and fill it. Over the oil, remove your finger and quickly make circles to form your cake. They need to be tight and together. You can criss cross as well. It does not need to be perfectly circular.

Allow to fry for about 1 minute. Flip and allow that side to fry. Remove to a paper towel covered plate to absorb the oil.

Then, place on a plate, top with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, apple pie filling, strawberries, whipped topping, chocolate, etc, etc, etc!!

I like mine with powered sugar & cinnamon sugar. Yum.

But... do you know what you can do with Funnel Cake batter?

You can dip things, and fry them. Yeah, you can!

PART 3
 So, I fried a Twinkie. I've seen these sold at Festivals and Fairs as well. For a crazy price, I might add. All you need to do is make up the Funnel Cake batter & dip away.



Fry, according to the Funnel Cake directions



Remove to paper towel, place on plate, dust with powdered sugar....And... enjoy!



I, actually, was not sold on these. I've heard GREAT things about them, so I was excited to try.
The Bean, however, LOVED them, as did my Sister In Law. She'd had one at a local festival and was not impressed. She said these were delicious though and forgave my niece for telling her last minute that she had to drive her to my house (which is about 25 minutes away from theirs)!

In that case, they must have been good!

I think they would be really amazing with some toppings on them though.

I also, possibly, fried some Oreos.

You weren't here though. You cannot prove it.

Tina




Funnel Cake Batter

1 Cup Flour
1 Egg
3/4 Cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons sugar*
dash of cinnamon (optional)

*you can use 1 Tablespoon of sugar or no sugar, but I like my cakes a little sweeter. 

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and cinnamon. 
Then, in a small bowl, beat together the milk and egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  
Beat in the vanilla. Whisk until well combined. This very much resembles a pancake batter.

In a deep skillet, heat at least 1" of oil to approx. 350 degrees F. I simply use the sizzle test. Drop a bit of batter in, and if it sizzles and rises to the top, it's ready. Use extreme caution. IT IS HOT.

Place your finger over the spout of a funnel, and fill it. Over the oil, remove your finger and quickly make circles to form your cake. They need to be tight and together. You can criss cross as well. It does not need to be perfectly circular.

Allow to fry for about 1 minute. Flip and allow that side to fry. Remove to a paper towel covered plate to absorb the oil.

Then, place on a plate, top with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, apple pie filling, strawberries, whipped topping, chocolate, etc, etc, etc!!

 To fry Twinkies/Oreos

make batter above, dip Twinkie/Oreo & follow directions from there.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

{ That time I met John Green & JScribble Cookies}





Long rambling post, but there is a cookie/cupcake decorating tip at the end, promise!

You all know by now that I am a huge, massive, raging Harry Potter fan, right?

Well, there is another in my life. Actually two others.

Don't tell.

They are the brothers Hank and John Green. They have a little YouTube channel called Vlogbrothers. And by little, I of course mean, over 788,000 subscribers and over 258,000,000 video views. I've been watching the Vlogbrothers since 2007. The project, which started on Jan 1, 2007, was simply a year of textless communication between two brothers who lived thousands of miles apart. John, then in New York City (currently Indianapolis, Indiana), and Hank, in Missoula, Montana, were not allowed to email, instant message, or text each other for an entire year. Instead, they alternated days making YouTube videos.  It just snowballed from there.

I found the brothers Green in July 2007, when Hank's video for the day, a song called Accio Deathly Hallows, was featured on the home page of YouTube.

So, really, Harry Potter brought me to this community.

This is one of my favorite John videos. Honestly, it's NOT because he's talking about Harry Potter. haha... I love his quote about  being a nerd. It's awesome.


John Green, the older of the brothers, is a prize winning, best selling author of Young Adult literature. I'm sure it will come as no large shock to you that YA is my preferred read. John's books include: Looking For Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault In Our Stars, which is currently spending it's 40th week on the New York Time's Best Sellers list (children's chapter books section). He's also co-authored the book Will Grayson Will Grayon with David Levithan, and wrote one of the three short stories in the book Let It Snow (the other two being authored by Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle).

I love these guys. They are made of awesome. Completely crazy,  nerdy, educational and, yes, sometimes a little risque. They celebrate the power and amazingness of being a nerd. They have a foundation called "The Foundation to Decrease World Suck". They also have the educational channels Crash Course & SciShow where John teaches History & Hank teaches Science (these are often used in classrooms across the country). They have other channels too, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Hank Games, and Truth or Fail.

They are busy guys.

Oh, and Hank also founded a little something called VidCon.

Anyway, this is a really long intro to tell you that I met John Green on Monday.

He was speaking and signing a the Cincinnati Public Library.

Well, that's quite a drive, but dern it, we.were.going.

In the years since discovering the Vlogbrothers, I have made Nerdfighters 

  this video explains it all 

(what they call their followers, we don't fight nerds, we ARE nerds) out of the Bean and my two nieces. So, we gathered in the car with my sister in law behind the wheel and away we went.

It was insanely packed. The library guesses 1200 people. We got there an hour prior to John's talk and we were still WAY in the back. He was a great speaker, of course. I watch him on YouTube all the time, so I know he can string an entertaining speech together. It was so surreal to see him after nearly 6 years though! 

We are in the crowd shouting "GOOD MORNING, HANK, IT'S TUESDAY!".
We've always wanted to say that!

To us, meeting John was more exciting than meeting a movie star. I think this in the same way that if I had a chance to meet a Potter actor or J.K. Rowling, I would pick Rowling. Hands down. So, we were pretty geeked out. 

They handed letters out for the signing. We were Q. Yes. Q. I saw two girls with Y though, so I was feeling OK about the situation. In the end, we waited 3 hours to have our things signed. And it was worth it. He was engaging and polite (in the 60ish seconds you get with him), even though he'd been signing non-stop at that point for 3 hours.
The Bean & my niece with their line letters. Q. They were on E when I took this photo. 
See John in the background?

John's autograph is affectionately known as the J-Scribble. So, I decided to make some J-Scribbles* out of chocolate.

Cause, why not.

First I started by making these sugar cookies & icing them with this icing (it's so glossy and pretty!).

I made up the icing and tinted it, anyone? anyone? Bueller? Green. Yes, I tinted it green. 

I iced a couple of my cookies, then decide that, since the icing was so pretty, I should dip the cookies. 

Then I allowed them to dry.

While that was happening, I melted up some white chocolate. I had John autograph two prints I made, which I brought home and laminated. I put one of those under parchment paper so I could see his J-Scribble. I put the melted chocolate into a decorator bag and snipped off a TEENY bit off the end. You could also use Wilton Tip #1, which I planned to, but could not find. Hmph.

I allowed them to dry, then very carefully, with a spatula, I popped them off the parchment and onto the cookies.
It's a little tedious, but it was a lot of fun. In the end, here is what I got. They aren't perfect (aww shucks, my plans for a career in forgery aren't going to work out!), but I think they are pretty cool.



This is one of the prints I designed for him to sign

Yes, I have his books in ebook & hard copy. I actually own hardback copies of
Alaska & Katherines, but I couldn't find them for the photos.



The other print I made

If you think you might want to read a John Green book, I recommend The Fault In Our Stars.
It was deeply moving, but also amazingly witty. 

I own four copies. Ask me about my Harry Potter books sometime. *wink*


A warning, there is frank dialogue in some of his books. He is writing for teens about teens.
If this is something you don't like, his books may not be for you. 

So, I said there was a decorating tip at the end of this. If you've read this far and not closed the page, thanks! I know I'm a nerdy fangirl, but I can't help it. It's who I am.

QUICK TIP TIME

The tip is the chocolate. Many people think of chocolate for dipping only. They don't realize how versatile it is. You can pipe out designs, let them harden, then add to cupcakes, cakes, cookies, ice cream sundaes, etc. It's also EXCELLENT for gluing gingerbread houses together at Christmas!

Here are a couple examples


.

It's so much fun. I mostly like to do circles, stars, and hearts, but it's all fun to play with.

Try it sometime!

After all the yammering on about John, I guess I should show you the photos from the event.
He couldn't do posed pictures, we would have been there FOREVER,  but I shot these from the line.


niece 1
niece 2

The Bean & John

The Bean and John again
And again...

Thanks for letting me get nerd all over the page.

I'll be ok. Possibly.

DFTBA

(that's the Nerdfighter mantra: Don't Forget To Be Awesome)

Tina



*these cookies are meant as an homage to someone that I admire. I am in no way claiming that they are John's actual autograph. I'm also not trying to forge his name. These cookies are not being sold. Only eaten by myself and my son, at a rapid pace, I might add.

I love John Green and would never forge his name. Ever.

Monday, October 15, 2012

{ How To Throw A Zombie Party }





Yeah, it's nearly Halloween.

It's also time for a new season of The Walking Dead.

Which we can no longer see. Thankyouverymuch, Dish :(

The idea was brought to me a while back, by one of the Bean's friends, to have a zombie party this year.

I thought, why the heck not.

I have a love/hate relationship with horror movies. I really don't like anything that deals with the spirit world. However, zombies, monsters, aliens, etc... yeah, bring 'em.

My favorite horror movie is 28 Days Later. Very violent. Very gross. It'sawesome.

My least favorite horror movie? The Shining. That thing freaked me out. I've seen it twice. I couldn't sleep twice.

No and thanks.

So, zombies? Yeah. Let's do this thing.

*note, there is nothing particularly gross in this post, but if you are queasy, you may not enjoy some of the names for foods.

This was not a fancy party table kind of party. It was also not a long and thought out party like my Epic Harry Potter Party. It's a quick and easy party that you can throw together in a couple hours. You could totally fancy up your table too! We were going at this survivor style!

Before the party I had the kids RSVP as either Survivors or Zombies. 

Survivors dressed in tattered, blood stained clothing. They were armed with AirSoft guns. 

I shared this photo of the shirt we made the Bean over on my Facebook page. I used kitchen supplies! I dirtied it up with Cocoa Powder and made the blood stains with Americolor Super Red Gel Food Coloring.


Survivors 
(sorry for the blurred faces, but I don't post photos of minors online without permission)



 The Zombies... 
well, they came as zombies. One girl went ALL out and was particularly gross.



So, as I said, this is a pretty easy party to throw.

We had a campfire (you know, Survivor style) & roasted hog dogs (aka Fingers of Fat Men), which I forgot to take a photo of.

I wish I'd taken a photo of our 'campsite' prior to the party. The Bean did a great job "fortifying" it with old tobacco stakes & hung a 'blood stained' flag with the words 'Novam Vitam' on it which means 'New Life' in Latin.

This is what it looks like under normal circumstances. It did look quite desolate with the fallen leaves & fire burning.


We also had:

Contaminated Brain Juice

Recipe at end of post


Bloody Chunks
 Salsa, obviously

Contents of Old Canned Goods


It's Ranch Dip tinted red. I think it would be better green.
Hindsight and all.

The chips were labeled 'Crisped Skin'. Forgot that photo as well.

Guts

Brains!

made from Finger Jello (recipe at end of post)

For the Brains, I used this mold that I purchased from Bake It Pretty.

The hatchets and tiny spoons came from there as well.

And of course, Brain Cakes.

I made these last year for my niece's 16th birthday party.


This year though, I added an element of surprise.

Not everyone got the clot (cherry). If you got that, you were safe. If you were infected, however,
you got green pudding in the middle of your cupcake.

SAFE


INFECTED

 Everyone liked taking a bite and seeing what their result would be.

I also had Sixlet candies in a baggie and labeled "Vaccine".



Zombie Attack!

After they ate and it got dark, all they did was play Ghost in the Graveyard.
The Survivors hid & the Zombies looked for them. Apparently, it was extremely freaky to
be out in our pitch black woods & corn fields. Especially the cornfields. The wind rustles and 
so does the corn. Very scary, they say. These aren't young kids either. The youngest is 15.

From the campsite I heard LOTS of screaming, followed by lots of laughter.
I'm really glad we don't live in a populated area. I feel certain the Sheriff would have shown up on
my door step.

"No, really, officer. We are just practicing for the Zombie Apocalypse, no big deal. Have YOU been practicing? I'd feel much better knowing our law enforcement was preparing with regular drills.
Have you? HAVE YOU?"

Then I'd prolly get taken in.

In a white coat.

But hey, preparation is key.

Right?

Tina



Recipes:

Finger Jello
2 packages unflavored gelatin
1 regular sized package Jello gelatin
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar

In a small bowl, add 1 cup of cold water to the gelatin & stir to dissolve. Set aside.

Add 1 cup of water to a pan, along with the sugar & flavored Jello. Bring this to a bowl, then remove from heat.

Stir in the gelatin & water & and extra 1/4 cup water. 

Pour into a pan and place in refrigerator to set. When fully set & cut, you should be able to easily pick up and eat pieces with your fingers.

For the "guts" I made 2 recipes. I made the first recipe exactly as listed above. Once it was set, I made the second recipe. For it, I added 1/8 cup of whipping cream and 1/8 cup water instead of 1/4 cup water. This is what makes it less opaque & more of a pink color. You can see the division in the photo above. Pour over the first layer, and allow to set. After both layers were set, I cut them in long, thin strips.

You can make lots of layers by using different flavors of jello. Very pretty & tasty.
When I was a kid, my mom made this ALL the time. Other kids had never had it before (this was in the days prior to Jello Jigglers) and everyone loved it. This tastes much better than Jello Jigglers as well!

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Contaminated Brain Juice
1 Gallon Lemon Lime Hawaiian Punch
1- 2Liter Lemon Lime Soft Drink
1 Container Orange Sherbert
Recipe by Tina



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