Pumpkin Profiterole with Caramel Drizzle

Merry Almost Christmas y’all.  This morning I woke up and whipped up some yummy goodness for a Christmas Party this afternoon.  To be fair I didn’t have to be at work until 9:30, but I still think this puts me in the running for the coveted Supermom title. 

This is a combination of several good recipes that I have modified to meet my needs. First I began with a profiterole recipe I learned years ago.  Of course all of my favorite kitchen gadgets made this job go a lot quicker.  You will need:

¾ cup water
¼ cup butter
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 375°.  It is best to have everything measured and ready to go, this process goes fast.

In a saucepan mix the water, butter and salt, bring this to a boil.  I slice my butter into pieces to prevent boiling off too much water while waiting for the butter to melt. 

Take the pan off the heat and dump the flour in all at once, mix until this forms a dough ball.  

Put the dough into a large batter bowl and whisk vigorously with the eggs. This will become glossy, and then come together to a smooth consistency.  

Keep whisking until the dough comes together smoothly. I used my small PC scoop to portion into my mini muffin pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake for 25 minutes until lightly brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool. 

For the filling I began with a pumpkin spread recipe to which I added cool whip for a lighter and fluffier consistency.  You will need:

8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
½ cup of canned pumpkin
¼ cup of sugar
¾ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup cool whip

I mixed all but the cool whip in the kitchen aid until they were smooth and even.

I decided it needed to be lighter which is when I mixed in the cool whip with the whisk attachment. 

I placed this in a PC Easy Accent Decorator.  I generously filled each cream puff, and place on parchment paper. A piping bag would do the trick here nicely.

Once they were all filled I drizzled with caramel topping.  Yes I know I'm a cheater cheater pumpkin-eater so to speak, but I never could have pulled this off in the morning without a little help.  Don’t be afraid to use what’s out there. 

I place a food storage bag in a glass and spooned in the caramel topping, I cut the tip off and drizzled back and forth over the top.

These were all done, and ready to be enjoyed.

I may have tried one just to be sure they were ready for the big event.

Trust me, Santa will leave you the neighbors presents if you make these for him.  Give it a try and be sure to share with a friend. 

Cake Mix Magic - Sour Cream Pound Cake

I promised my neighbor I would have this recipe up by Christmas I think I can make it just under the wire.

I've had this recipe for years and the woman who gave it to me called it sour cream pound cake. I guess with four eggs in it could be considered pound cake.

 Here's what you will need:

1     Duncan Hines butter recipe cake mix
1/2  cup sugar
4     eggs
3/4  cup oil
1/2  stick of butter melted
1     cup sour cream

I started by adding my cake mix, sugar, oil, and butter in my mixer. Beat until blended.

Add the sour cream and eggs, then beat until blended.

Then beat the mixture for 4 minutes until it gains more volume.

I poured this into my eight mini loaf pans that I'd sprayed down with Pam for baking. I baked at 325° for 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Truth be told I never poke at my cakes, I touch the top gently and if it bounces back I call it done.  If it dimples then I know I need more time.

To make one large cake I use a fluted pan and bake for an hour and five minutes. Let cool completely before trying to remove from pan.

You can make a glaze for this cake, however I think it's good just plain the way it is. If you want to make the glaze here's what you will need:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons of milk
Chopped pecans (optional)

Mix the ingredients except for the pecans in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Place in the microwave on 30 seconds whisking every 5 to 10 seconds so that you don't over cook. When it's bubbled and heated through at the pecans and pour over the cake.

You do not have to microwave this glaze, you can mix and pour over the cake. I find heating it through gets rid of the raw powdered sugar taste.

I have made this cake in so many different shaped pans it makes a great gift. Enjoy and don't forget to share with a friend.

Special Early Christmas Gift

I’m pretty sure that I have mentioned that I love to open Christmas presents at Thanksgiving, or any present really.  I can’t stand the anticipation and the waiting.  Imagine my surprise when my dad handed me a Christmas present this past weekend to open. 

I do crazy amounts of cooking and baking and my recipes are usually laying on the counter vulnerable to all the ingredients as they are poured, mixed and flung all over the counter space.  I mentioned to my mom that I needed a cookbook stand like the one in her kitchen, and dad went to work making me this beautiful cookbook stand. 

He used two beautiful pieces of cypress from his shop, and I just love the look and the history.  

My dad wanted me to have my present early so that I would have it to use while cooking and baking for Christmas day.  

So thank you daddy for the Christmas gift, it is just perfect and it now has a permanent place on the counter.  This is one gift that will get plenty of use.

Let’s Turn Up The Heat – Hot Cracker Snack Mix

Today’s edible gift is pretty high on the spicy scale, but it is something you can scale back if you’re looking for zing and not spice.  This is another simple recipe that people can’t get enough of.

Moments ago a co-worker begged me to take the bowl away from her, she is currently scouring the internet for a 12 step program for Hot Cracker Snack Mix.

You will need:
1   box Saltine Minis
1   package Hidden Valley Ranch Mix
2   tsp. Cayenne Pepper 
½  cup canola oil
2  14 oz bag of prepared Chex Party Mix

Measure the oil and whisk in the ranch mix and cayenne pepper. 

Place the entire box of mini crackers in a gallon size Ziploc bag and pour the mixture over top of the crackers.  Seal the bag and gently roll and toss the cracker to evenly coat. 
Be gently while tumbling so as not to break the crackers. Let them soak for 1-2 hours and lay them out on a large cookie sheet to continue to dry.  I was wearing food service gloves when I made these in the morning because I needed to fix the baby’s bottle and I wanted to be careful not to give him his first taste of hot peppers. 

When the crackers were ready I mixed them with the Chex Mix tossing them together and it was ready to serve.  Check out these colorful bowls I bought at Sam's, they are so festive and they each have a lid to fit. 

I reserved 2 cups of the minis for my pantry, and mixed with only one bag of Chex Mix because I love to have the mini hot crackers in soup or chili.

To make the regular size hot crackers use a 1 pound box of saltines, 1 ¼ canola oil, 1 package of hidden valley ranch mix, 2 tbsp crushed red pepper flake (or 1 tbsp cayenne pepper). Place the crackers in a 2 gallon storage bag, mix, pour and toss.  These regular crackers go great with soups, gumbo, and believe it or not chicken salad.  Give this one a try if you like a little spice in your life, and remember to share with a friend. 

Chocolate Delights - Edible Gifts

Here we go, it is officially Christmas Season in the kitchen. Let's start with a quick and easy recipe called Pecan Delights.

I made these Friday morning and sent them to my husband's new office.  They are so quick and easy, they practically make themselves.  You'll need:

8 oz  package semi-sweet chocolate squares OR  2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz can of condensed milk
2 cups chopped pecans
Pinch of salt

I placed my chips in a microwavable bowl and microwaved for 1 minute.

I stirred them and then heated again stirring every 15 seconds until they were smooth.  I stirred in the milk and nuts and scooped them out into cupcake liners.

I think the smaller scoop would have been a better size if I had chopped the pecans smaller, but I used the large scoop which probably made for a large satisfying bite.

I liked how the liners made the candy easy to box up and serve.  I sent my hubby to the office with two boxes, and that my dear readers is how to win friends and influence people, tee-he-he.  Enjoy and don't forget to share with a friend.

Now We’re Cooking With Fire…Um, Electricity!

We are back up and running in the kitchen.  Whew, I was really sweating this one big time. There is no way I would have survived the holidays without my oven.  I realized there was a problem after trying to heat a couple of casseroles about two weeks ago. My sister was here with her kids and I was making dinner. The oven never really felt hot, and it didn't cut off so I knew it wasn't getting up to temp.  We ended up warming everything that night with the broiler. I knew the broil element worked and I had the oven thermometer replaced the week before Easter.  Why do my appliances keep staging revolts right before major holidays? Here's a picture of my model, if only my cabinets were that nice.

The next night I turned on the oven again, this time it was on for over an hour and never reached 350⁰.  I came to the conclusion it had to be the element.  While considering a major appliance purchase weeks before Christmas a co-worker told me she ordered an element for her oven online and changed it herself. Well, shoot I could do that. I looked up the model and serial number online and had the part delivered to my door.

First thing this morning I got to work.  I began by having the hubby stand in the closet and shut off the breaker.  It has a label on it, but I wasn’t the one who put it there so I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.  I turned the upper and lower oven on and seconds later he threw the switch, this way there was no doubt that the power to the oven was off. 

Next I removed the racks and put up my work light. My son picked a light out for me when we were shopping, the magnet comes in handy. 
I removed the screws from the bad element and gently worked the wires out from behind the insulation. 

The instructions I read said to be careful not the rip out the insulation, the last thing I need are cold spots in my oven.  I was careful but it still took some tugging to get the wires to come out.  The leads on my model have a 90⁰ angle and pulling straight out would have pulled the insulation through. 

Once the wires were free it was as easy pulling off the leads and attaching them to the new element. Okay, okay the husband may have helped; he has longer arms and could get a better grip on them than I could. 

With the element attached I gently finagled the wires back through the insulation and secured the element with the shiny new screws that came with it.  We flipped the power back on and I sat in front of the oven holding my breath. 

It works, just look at the shiny red glow.  I turned it up to 300⁰ and the element shut off when it reached temperature.  Just to be sure I turned it to 400⁰ with the same result. 

Oh happy day, I have a working oven again.  After getting a look at the pictures of the repair I realized it was time for a self cleaning cycle.  I ran the self cleaning cycle, after 3 hours of heating and another 2 hours cooling this is what it looks like.


When this cools completely I will wipe it out with a wet rag and this kitchen is open for some holiday business.  We might not get 12 edible gifts in, but I will do my best to get to as many as I can. 

I'm not sure why I never considered doing this work myself, but I'm glad I did.  So thank you to my co-worker and friend for giving me the idea and the courage.

A Stitch In Time...

Good afternoon all. Today I am reviewing a slip cover project, but first a few updates. 

I have been enjoying a little downtime, and by that I mean putting aside the blog to handle a few things that have fallen apart around the house.  My oven bit the dust just in time for my 12 Edible Gifts of Christmas idea.  I was in a panic about what to do, until a friend pointed out that changing the element is super simple.  I ordered the part online last night and it should be here by the weekend.  I predict an appliance repair post coming soon. 
Not to be left out the kitchen faucet decided it needed attention as well.  The faucet was leaking copious amounts of hot water and when I disassembled the handle to replace the washer in the valve, I realized it was too cheap to be repaired and had to run out and get a new faucet.  I didn’t take detailed pictures of this project because I don’t want to fess up to my 1970’s brown porcelain sink just yet. 

I wanted to take a moment and give a shout out to the nice people I met in the grocery store yesterday afternoon.  Welcome, I hope that you enjoy the recipes we were discussing in the grocery aisles. I’ve never really met a stranger; I know that good conversations and ideas can come from anywhere. 
Today I am going to talk about a little slip cover project I finished recently.  I say finished because this project started a couple of years ago with my search for barrel chairs for my den.  After scouring the blogosphere for months I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for. I love the chair in the corner of this den from Young House Love.

Young House Love-House Tour
I stumbled into the Goodwill store on my lunch one day at precisely the right moment to swoop up two barrel chairs in good condition for $10 each.  I remember the employee telling me I was never going to get them in my Mom Mobile, little did he know I had stow-n-go seats and chango-presto I popped them in the back of my minivan. 

I had no idea back then I would start a blog, but I took these outside before cleaning them to commemorate their transformation.  I began by taking the skirt off the bottom and exposing the modern looking legs. Next I used my Bissell Little Green to give the chairs a thorough steam cleaning and left them in the sun to dry (Quick Note: If you have kids or dogs you should have one of these, splurge a little and get the heated model). 
Bissell Little Green

After searching high and low for the right fabric I came to the conclusion that all of them would cost more than I wanted to spend, especially given that I was chicken about sewing slip covers.  I happened onto on the Ikea website one day when the light bulb went off. 
Ikea Ektorp Tullsta
The EKTORP TULLSTA slip covers were very similar in shape to my two chairs; I thought I could modify these to fit my chairs without having to slipcover from scratch. As a bonus they were only $30 each so I wouldn’t be out much money, this fabric would have cost much more than I wanted to spend spiffing up my new-to-me chairs. The premade covers were thrifty and efficient. I went home to check the measurements of my chair against those on the website, and they were close enough I could make it work.  The cushions were the perfect size I removed them from the old covers and slipped them into the new ones no problem. 
Since you all know how much I love to confess, let me disclose that a friend came to the house two years ago just before Easter and helped me get started modifying these slip covers.  We put the slip covers on the chairs inside out and she pinned the profile of the arms until they were snug.  Then she whipped stitched them with a needle and dark thread to be sure they fit. We pulled them off and ran them through the sewing machine.  Once she was satisfied with the contour she would pull the dark thread out easily.  I liked this technique; it saved the fingertips from the unnecessary pin pricks.  

Now for further cleansing of the conscience I will say that we took a break from our sewing for lunch and pedicures and by the time we came back to the covers it was quite late and we called it a day.  I tucked the extra fabric at the end into the arms and had every intension of finishing them later.  Fast forward 2 years and some months to this past weekend. I was hold up inside during nasty weather and decided to scratch this one off my to-do list. 

I began once again by removing the covers and placing them inside out on the chairs so I could see where we left off.  You can see the fabric that would have been the front arm of the chair; this is what I used to bring the arm together to the seat of the chair.

I pulled the seam together all the way down to the edge and decided to rip a seam on the front seat to sew the extra fabric from the arm. 

I pulled the edges together to create a new seam at the base of the arm.   I realize that is hard to describe in words, have a look at the pictures, because the general idea is the same even though each project is different. 

The finished product is pictured here. My plan is to live with this a while longer and decide if it needs any further tweaking before I cut off the excess and commit to the changes, just to be sure.

Come back later this week to see what I pull out of my grab bag of ideas. Let’s all relax and celebrate not knowing what comes next shall we.