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Sunday, December 30, 2012

{ Reuben Dip }

 I know there are several different "lucky" foods for New Year's Day. Here in Ohio, however, the lucky foods are these:

Pork & sauerkraut

The tradition comes from Ohio (and surrounding areas) being historically rich in German immigrants.

Eating Sauerkraut on New Year's Eve is a long-standing tradition in Germany. It is believed that eating Sauerkraut will bring blessings and wealth for the new year. Before the meal, those seated at the table wish each other as much goodness and money as the number of shreds of cabbage in the pot of Sauerkraut.  (info from German Food Guide).

I know many people don't like sauerkraut. I, however, am not one of those.

I especially love a good Reuben Sandwich. Yum.

I was not always this way. When I was a kid, each year my mom would cook up a big pot of the foul smelling stuff on New Year's Day. Usually, she'd throw in some kiełbasa or some spare ribs.

Then, worst of all, she and my dad would... EAT IT.


As a kid, this was just nasty.

It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I began to appreciate the stuff.

Now, I love it. I don't eat it often, but I do really enjoy it. Like I said, especially as a Reuben Sandwich.

So, for New Year's Eve this year, I'm making up a mess of Reuben Dip.

It's easy, it's creamy, it's tasty.

Do like.

I realize this only gets me my kraut, and not my pork, as is called for in the German tradition.

I suppose I'll just have to eat some bacon for breakfast.

Oh, the tragedy!

There are many versions of Reuben Dip out there, however, this is mine.

Reuben Dip 
by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

1- 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened*
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 cup sauerkraut, well drained
1/2 cup sour cream*
1/4 cup thousand island dressing*
4 oz corned beef, chopped (I use the packaged corned beef, but you can get it from the deli as well)

*low fat/fat free work fine

Preheat oven to 350 F

Mix the cream cheese, sauerkraut, sour cream, dressing in a bowl. Stir until well blended. Work in the beef and cheese.

Pour into a well greased baking dish.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the sides are bubbly and it it hot throughout.

You can also cook this in a crock pot on low for a couple hours. I prefer the baked though. 

 Serve with cubed rye bread or on cocktail rye. You can also hollow out a round loaf, like I did here.

*Please note this dip does not reheat well, if it won't all get eaten, you may want to 1/2 the recipe

 I put a bowl in mine, but you can spoon the dip right into the bread if you wish!

The Bean, of course, does NOT like this.

Darn kids. Maybe when he's in his 20s.

With him, I highly doubt it though!

 So, I'm calling curtains for SBB in 2012.
Thanks for reading this year!

I hope you have a wonderful, blessed, lucky, and prosperous 2013- sauerkraut or not!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

{ Mock Champagne }

Well, we did it! 


We made it through Christmas!

I'm not sure how exactly I, personally, did it, with being sick for several days, but I did!

And everyone was happy! 

It was crazy and hectic, but, it was worth it.

This year, the Bean, age 15, was more excited for Christmas than I've seen him in at least 5 years. I'm not sure why. I think, probably because he didn't know what he was getting. He knew a couple things, but the bulk of gifts were a mystery to him. 

He'd get done on the floor nightly and shake his presents. He'd ask me daily if he could open his gifts.

Me: "Sure!"

Bean: "REALLY???"

Me: "You bet!"


"On Christmas!".

Bean: grumble grumble grumble

His favorite gifts were a new camera, Dishonored (video game), a Corduroy Blazer, and the Tenth Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver.

My favorite moment from Christmas, however, came on Christmas Eve. We'd just gotten back from Christmas Eve service, and I let him open a box containing a pair of Mickey Mouse PJ bottoms and Arthur Christmas on DVD. Earlier in the day he'd gotten a fox eared hat I had a girl make for him. He was walking around in those PJs and his fox hat, popping popcorn for the movie, and he looks over and says to me:

"This has already been a great Christmas!".


Mickey PJs, Fox hat, Popcorn, watching Arthur Christmas. And, yes, cell phone and Kindle.

So, our Christmas was pretty great. Hope yours was too!

Last New Year's Eve, I posted a mocktail called New Year Rising

It was a big hit, so I'm making another this year.

Last year I wanted to make Mock Champagne, but, oops, didn't buy the right stuff. So, this year would definitely have Mock Champagne.

It's SO easy. So. so. so easy.

2 ingredients & embellishment.

Let's start with the embellies.

First, let's pretend this photo isn't blurry, kay?


Dip the rims of your glasses in corn syrup.

Then dip that into sugar crystals. This is my most favorite look. It's simply all the leftover colors poured into one container. You can also mix it up if you don't have leftovers. I think it's the prettiest :)

Ta Da! Pretty!

Once the drink is done, I like to pop a few frozen grapes in there as well.

My decoration was made from a swizzle stick, metallic curling ribbon, and tape!

Then add the bubbly!

Honestly, I've never tasted champagne in my life, so I have no idea if this tastes ANYTHING like it. I highly doubt it, but it's fruity and fizzy, and I quite like it. And did I mention.. it's SO easy!

 Be safe on New Year's Eve &
Happy 2013!
May it be blessed & beautiful.


Mock Champagne
recipe adapted by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

1- 64 Ounce bottle of White Grape Juice, chilled
1- 2 liter of Ginger Ale, chilled

Pour together.

The end!

Add frozen grapes (or other fresh or frozen fruit) and decor if you wish.

*this is a very common mocktail. I adapted the measurements for ease of making.

Monday, December 24, 2012

{ Wassail }

I'm sure you've all heard the song, Here We Come A Wassailing, but do you know what wassailing is?

Singing carols, right? 


Well, kinda.

Wassail (Wah-sail), first began, many eons ago as a greeting to others or as a toast. People would lift a mug of warm cider and say, "Waes hael!". Wassail (Waes hael) is an Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning, "be thou hale", modern translation: "be in good health".

Wassailing began as a celebration the west of England in the cider-producing counties. It was a celebration to waken the cider trees to ensure a good harvest in the Autumn. They would sing songs to the trees, shout, play drums, and generally just make a lot of noise to scare away evil spirits.

The Wassail Queen would be lifted into the branches where she would lay cider soaked toast as an offering.

Traditional Wassail was made of Mulled Ale, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, nutmeg, curdled cream, and sugar.

Um. No and thanks.

This is an easy, modern Wassail.

As much as I love the legend, lore, and romance of Olde England, I'll pass on the eggy, curdled creamy, gonna get me drunky drink.

This will make your house smell AMAZING. AH-MAZE-ING.

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wassailing,
So fair to be seen:

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you,
A happy New Year,
And God send you,
A happy new year.

Happiest of Christmases to you and yours! Thanks so much for reading my blog!
I wish you a holiday filled with magic and dreams come true.


Wassail Punch
recipe by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

1 Cup apple cider
1 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks*
4 whole cloves*
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 (or more) Tablespoons of brown sugar, depending on taste

Apple, orange, & lemon slices

*you can use ground cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon) & ground cloves (just a pinch). You might want to drain it through cheesecloth before serving, however, or you will have all of the spices swirling around in your drink.

Add the cider, juice, and water to a pot. Add in spices & chopped fruit.

for this size recipe, you will only need a couple slices of each. Make sure there are no seeds.

Simmer on low for 1-2 hours

The sugar content is really decided by personal taste. Some ciders & orange juices are more tart than others, requiring more sugar. Taste and decide on sugar for yourself at this point.

Remove fruit & whole spices.

Serve warm.

**you can also add alcohol, I believe it's brandy,
but you might want to look that up.

This recipe is easily doubled/tripled, etc.

Friday, December 21, 2012

{ Red Velvet Bûche de Noël }

Let me start off by saying, this is not how this is supposed to look.

Long about September, I asked my friend Darla (of Bakingdom), if she'd ever made a Bûche de Noël (also know as a Yule Log Cake). She'd made plenty of roulades (cake rolls), but never an actual Yule Log.

She suggested that we both do one in December & link to each others recipes.

Guess what... it's December.

Now, I've known this was coming up for over 3 months now, but, did I do anything about it? No.
The day before this recipe was supposed to go live, I'm running frantically around my kitchen trying to make sense of myself.

You'll remember I posted yesterday that I am currently sick.

So, yeah. Sick. Frazzled. Procrastinator.

That's me.

The recipe I chose to follow was also a little more complicated than I planned on. I mean, it wasn't hard, but man, dirty dishes everywhere! It was a bowlaplooza in here.

I finally got everything made, mixed, and in the oven though.

I thought then that it seemed a very small amount of batter for my jelly roll pan, but what can ya do? I followed the directions.

After the roll came out, I noticed how unevenly it had baked. My fault for not smoothing it good enough, I guess. 

And man! Was it thin. Most roulades are thicker, but, I'd followed the directions sooo... 

But, it doesn't look like the photo on the site.



What can I do but proceed though? So, I added my cream filling and let chill.

Then I took it out and man, was it whimpy.


So, I frosted it.

Meh. Looks ok.

Not right, but ok.

It seriously was not until 2 hours after I'd finished it that I realized what had happened.

I have a large sheet pan. That is what I used.


It's about 2 inches longer AND wider than the standard jelly roll pan.

Yeah, that explains it, folks.

So, your first step is using the correct pan. Your roulade will work out much better than mine.

However, here is what I did.

Red Velvet Cake Roll

My filling was this one, that I use ALL the time

And my icing was Cream Cheese, get that here

I wanted my log to look like Birch, so after I drug a fork through it to get the bark look, I added a bit of chocolate glaze ( or a bit melted from a can will do, you only need a teensy bit). I barely dipped the ends of the tines in, then I drug it through the icing.

My decorations are Marshmallow Fondant,
it is too, too, too much fun to play with. It's totally grown up, edible play doh.

(The Bean is obsessed with it (eating it, that is).

When he asked what it was made of, I said, "Well, marshmallows- so, sugar. Then you mix in sugar, then you knead in sugar, and for good measure, you dust it with sugar!"

Is there any wonder he loves it? Pure sugar, folks.)

Lastly, I dusted everything with powered sugar and pure cane sugar for a bit of sparkle.

You can definitely fill roulades with a multitude of different things. 
Or, you can fill it and not frost it.

Just make sure you use the right pan.

Here's the thing though. Still tasted good.

Still looked pretty.

That works for me.

Next time, I wanna make a Pink Velvet Roll though!

You know who DID use the right size pan though?

Darla! And you HAVE TO SEE her gorgeous PINK Bûche de Noël.


For assembly instructions for the Yule Logs, check out her Ghoul Log.

Now, I need to go nap. For like, 12 hours.

Happy Christmas!


P.S., I'm super glad the world didn't end today at 6:11am Eastern Time.

I just don't have time for that in my schedule!  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

{ Crock Pot Candy & Bible Verse Ornament }

So, I'm sick.

Figures, right? Just a few days before Christmas, 68,123 things to do, and... I'm sick.


Generally speaking, I am not a napper. I nap when I'm sick and that's about it. 
Yesterday, I'd just laid down for a long winter's nap. 10 minutes later, I was quite rudely awakened by 2 little barking mutts.

What was it?? Is the UPS man here with a delivery? Does the mail lady have something too big for the box? Is it at least the meter reader? Were the Mayans off by 2 days and the end was nigh?



They were barking at nothing.

I was not amused.

Miss Luna, after her barking spree, decided to climb up on the couch and lay with me.  You know, for a nap.

Being the mature person that I am, this ensued.

I wait until Luna falls asleep.

Then I yell, "BARK!  BARK!  BARK!  BARK!  BARK!  BARK!  BARK!  BARK! "

Luna wakes up and looks like this.

I'm sorry it's so blurry, but I was laughing so hard at the look she gave me, I couldn't hold the phone steady.

The laughing, of course, made me cough, so it made this almost not worth it.


I'm hoping for a bark free nap today.

Anyway, in case you hadn't heard, it's dang near Christmas.

I want to share 2 things with you today, both easy! woo! That's the best kind of thing at Christmas.

1. Is an easy Christmas ornament

2. Is an easy Christmas candy

Yay easy!

The ornament starts off with the clear glass blubs.

The ideas for these things are limitless. The ideas for what I'm showing you today is pretty much limitless too!

I made a Luke 2 ornament. I simply printed the Bible verses, which I then cut into strips.

Wrap the strips around a pencil. That is the perfect size for inserting into the bulb.

Notice my clever use of a Halloween pencil for a Christmas craft. I'm classy like that.

Just roll them up and pop them, one at a time, into the blub. I put some in right side up and some upside down. After you add the slip, give the ornament a little shake.

You can add sparkly ribbon

or add some glitter

I then made a tie on with alphabet beads and hemp twine.

After adding your tie on, you are all done! Yay!

As I mentioned, this idea is pretty limitless, but here are some I came up with:

Lines from a favorite book (hello, Harry Potter!)
Wedding Vows with Wedding Date on tie on
Baby's Firsts with birth date tie on
Special Memories from this year with year tie on
Child's favorite things for the year, with age & date tie on

These are quick and easy & a lot of fun to make.

I'm planning to do the Harry Potter & Special Memories of 2012 for myself.


So, how about some candy?


I was watching Trisha Yearwood's show the other day when she was making Crock-pot Chocolate Candy. How easy did that sound? Pretty darn, that's how!

I, being myself though, had to tweak the recipe to my own liking. Here is what I came up with.

Put crock-pot on 'low'.

Pour peanuts in the bottom.

Then add chocolate chips, then Almond Bark

 Let cook for 1 hour.

Please note, Trisha said 3 hours for her's. Mine didn't take nearly that long.

My friend, Lori's crock-pot, set on low, BURNT Trisha's recipe in 30 minutes. Be sure to check your candy now and then, as crock-pot times can differ greatly.

After the hour, stir until all ingredients are combined.

Then add your mini mallows.

Stir again. These will get gooey and melted.

Is good.

Now, you are totally done. Just scoop into mini cupcake liners. You could also put into a greased baking dish and cut into squares.

So, there you have it. An easy craft. An easy candy. And two bad dogs.

Is it naptime yet?

No? No, because coming up for you tomorrow, I have a really exciting treat that I've always wanted to make! I've paired up with my friend Darla of Bakingdom for two times the fun!

Rocky Road Crock-pot Candy
Recipe by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers, adapted from this recipe

1 - 12 oz can of salted peanuts
1-  12 oz package of semi sweet chocolate
12 oz  (6 squares) of almond bark
3 cups mini marshmallows

Let cook for 1 hour.

Be sure to check once in a while, as crockpot times can differ greatly.

After the hour, stir until all ingredients are combined.

Then add your mini mallows.

Stir again. These will get gooey and melted.

Scoop into mini cupcake liner or put into a greased baking dish and cut into squares.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

{ Homemade Cocoas! }

Today I present to you, cocoa.

When the Bean was little, he'd run outside and play in the snow for all of about 10 minutes. That's all his asthma would allow. In the length of time though, I'd whip him up some amazing place and bake cookies & cocoa from a box. He'd sit down, rosy cheeked and tingly & eat the cookies warm from the oven & drink his hot chocolate happily.

Half of the time I think he'd go out in the snow JUST so he'd get the treats when he came in.
Dirty trickster.

How times have changed though. He no longer runs out to play in the snow. Sad.
However, I no longer make place and bake cookies, so that's a plus! 

I won't say I never make cocoa from an envelope anymore, because that would be a total untruth, but, when it's time for something truly decadent, homemade cocoa is the way to go.

While I have my own Homemade Cocoa recipe here on the blog, I'm using another's today.

I'm starting off with Darla's hubby's cocoa. Darla, as I'm sure you know by now, is the baking genius behind Bakingdom. She's also my mental twinsie, I'm not sure if that is good or bad. Haha.

I'm starting off with his cocoa, actually, but I'm just making 1 cuppa. His recipe makes 4.

Then, I'll make some Snowfall Cocoa... as in White Chocolate Cocoa.

And then, I'll make some Candy Cane Syrup to add to the cocoas, so you can have Candy Cane Cocoa.

I have a lot to type.

I'd better start.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

recipe makes 1 cup (easily adjusted to make larger quantities)

1 cup milk (or 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half)
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 heaping tablespoon sugar *
1 scant tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (or other extract of your choice)

Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar if using a flavored syrup like the Candy Cane Syrup below

Pour milk, and half and half or cream, if using, in a bowl and warm in the microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (optional).

Transfer milk to small saucepan over medium heat and whisk in cocoa, chocolate chips, sugar, and vanilla.  Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking almost constantly, until it just barely begins to lightly boil, about 10 minutes; remove from heat.

Pour into a mug, throw in some marshmallows, or plop on some whipped cream and sprinkles!

Or make a little Mallow Man, like this

He is simply 3 mini marshmallows on a swizzle stick. His eyes, mouth, and buttons are drawn on with an Americolor Food Writer. You could also just dot on some melted chocolate. His nose is an orange jimmie that I just poked into the mallow, and his hat is a gumdrop that I squished with my fingers. 'Glue' it on with a little melted chocolate.

Now, some Snowfall Cocoa (white chocolate cocoa), you say?

Snowfall Cocoa

1 cup milk (or 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half)
2 Tablespoons white chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

*White chocolate is very sweet. I, personally, don't think you need any extra sugar, but feel free to use some if you wish.

Heat your milk over medium heat, whisk in your chips & vanilla. Whisk constantly, until it comes to a very light boil. Remove from heat.


Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream & sprinkles!


Make a Mallow Man like this!

He is 2 large marshmallows on a toothpick.

His eyes and mouth are, again, an Americolor Food Writer, but his nose is orange chocolate.

This is actually quite sweet, as I said, and not really to my personal taste, but the Bean LOVES it,
so I had to include it in my post.

Plus Marshy Man #2 had to be seen, right?

But, to get you in the Holiday Spirit a little more, wouldn't you like a little Candy Cane Cocoa?


This is a true Candy Cane Cocoa, not just Peppermint.

First we will make a Candy Cane Syrup.

Candy Cane Syrup
recipe adapted from Chica & Jo

2 Candy Canes
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water

Crush 2 candy canes very finely. Power fine.

To a heavy pan add, 1/2 cup sugar & 1/4 cup water. Over medium heat, whisk this together, then add in your crushed candy cane.

Allow your candy cane to melt, but do not let your syrup boil. If it boils, it will become too thick.

When finished, your syrup will look like this, kind of a cloudy pink.

 Skim off the frothy stuff at the top & fish out any unmelted candy cane.

When it cools it will be a bright red.

Now, you have a Candy Cane syrup to add to your cocoas.

Stir in a bit!

I suggest 1-2 Tablespoons per cup of chocolate & 1 Tablespoon for the Snowfall Cocoa.

Do not add vanilla extract if you are adding the Candy Cane Syrup.

You can also use this syrup in lattes, or maybe poured over vanilla ice cream!

I'm sure you can think of other great ideas!

You can make this in larger quantities as well. Simple syrups like this, and my Homemade Pancake Syrup, just use a 2 parts sugar to 1 part water ratio.


it's Christmas & maybe you aren't the mint and chocolate kinda person (are there people out there like that? Really??).

What about some Gingerbread Cocoa??

Yeah? Yeah.

Head over and see Darla. She, too, is starting with her hub's cocoa as a base and making something truly delish!

You won't want to miss this!

Happy Christmas!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

{ Photography Tutorial: Starburst Christmas Lights }

This is a non-baking post, but it is Christmas related.

I'm just posting a quick tutorial for those of you who were interested in the Christmas Tree pic I posted the other day on my Facebook Page.

First, let me say, I'm sorry for the web compression :( but,  I don't upload full resolution photos to the web). the full res photos are very clear.

This tutorial will show you how to get the starburst or twinkle light effect on you tree photos.

You'll need 3 things: A DSLR camera, a Tri-pod, and at least a bit of knowledge about your camera.

You will need to set your camera to manual for these shots, know how to change the ISO, Shutter Speed, and F/Stop (aperture). If you are unsure how to do these things, consult your camera manual, or my good friend can help you out. His name is Google.

Once you camera is on the tripod, set up your shot and focus. Turn all lights off in the room except the tree.

You will use a high f/stop

You will use a low ISO

You will use a long shutter speed

If you have a steady hand, you can press the shutter and carefully move your hand away, or you can set your timer.

 For my final photos I used these settings (though you may have to mess with them a bit depending on your camera):

100ISO, f/22, 30 second exposure

Here are some of my other shots

bit of camera shake here too! Should have used the timer!

Luna wanted in the photo

And the final products:

If you want people in the photo, this too is possible, but they will need to sit VERY VERY still for entire time the shutter is open.

I will try to snap one of those soon.

In the meantime, I hope you find this helpful!!

I'd love to see your photos, post them to my Facebook wall!

Happy Christmas, Tina


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