Do you know the Muffin Man?

Man did my house smell like the holidays this weekend.  I don’t think it’d be hard for you to believe that I love cooking and baking during the holidays.  Sunday morning I decided to pull down a cook book and see what I could make with the ingredients I had on hand.  Turns out I have everything I needed to make Gingerbread Streusel Raisin Muffins. 

I got this out of a cookbook my sister left at my house; I told her if she hadn’t claimed it in 6 months I was keeping it.  I’ve been making goodies out of this book for nearly 3 years now.  I found a copy of this recipe on line if you like a printer friendly version, here’s what you’ll need.

1 cup raisins
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
3/4 cup Molasses
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, cover raisins with boiling water; let stand 5 minutes. I had a bag of golden raisins in the pantry so that is what I used for this recipe. I measured all my ingredients before I got started.  

In large bowl, beat 1/3 cup margarine and molasses until fluffy.  I absolutely pulled out the Kitchen Aid for this and attached the paddle with the scraper on the side. I can’t praise this attachment enough it makes everything so much faster and easier.  Add egg; beat well.

I added the dry ingredients after beating in the egg. It says to blend just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Next I poured in the raisins with the water and mixed ever slow slowly so as not to make a big mess. This is what it looked like after all was said and done.

I mixed up the topping before ever getting started, but I have to show you the handy tool for that process.  It calls of ¼ cup of chopped nuts.  This is the South so I pulled out some pecan halves, and popped a handful in my PC food chopper

Then I place the bottom piece and gave it a few good whacks with the palm of my hand. I popped off the bottom and dumped the pecans right into the bowl.

Next I filled the muffin tin ¾ full using my PC Medium Scoop. I know it is a lot handy dandy tools, I'm someone who likes to be in the kitchen and is always looking for ways to make the job more efficient and fun.  If you don’t have a scoop the two spoon method works great for this mix. 

I topped with the streusel topping and put them in oven and baked for 20 to 25 minutes.

These were really good I enjoyed them quite a bit.  The boys in my house were another story.  They liked the flavor of the muffins but neither of them cared for the raisins.  My oldest ate a bowl of raisins while I mixed, but when it came to eating them baked in the muffin he gave it a big thumbs down. So next time I will add the warm water until I get the right consistency, but leave out the raisins. 
Also I found that there was too much topping and I wasted quite a bit, next time I will likely cut that in half.  Lastly, I will add more melted butter to the topping, it had a great flavor but the texture and appearance were too dry for my taste.  On the whole it was a success.  I even found some friends who share my taste to take some of these off my hands.  Give these a try if you are feeling adventurous and remember recipes are the jumping off place, don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own.

Stamp To It

This is going to be a quick post, because there are so many good things I could say about these stamps that I could ramble on and on.  But there are some wonderful and creative sites I want to share with you, and I think the versatility will begin to speak for itself.  Today I want to talk for a moment about my PSA Essentials stamps. 

I first came across these a couple of years ago on another blog.  I had considered purchasing a return address embosser, but this stamp looked as though it gave me many more options.  I checked out the Expressionery website and considered it for a couple weeks more.  Then much to my surprise and excitement they were 60% off.  I had to pull the trigger on this one.

My first stamp was a monogramed return address stamp.  Then I got to thinking I needed some accessory packs to use my return address for different occasions by changing out the center. 

Next I wanted to use the stamp for gift tags and other things.  I got tired of disassembling my address stamp and at the next 60% off sale I ordered the stamp kit only 

And of course the one you saw featured here was the last one, my kitchen stamp. 

I purchased a couple as teacher’s gifts, for my son’s kindergarten teachers. I had one that had Ms. Smith’s Class around the Edge and had her monogram in the center; I also purchased the teacher's accessory pack to go with it.  For her assistant I purchased the monogram gift set. 

I gave one of these to my sister as a birthday present.  Remember how I said I can’t stand to wait to open presents, well that goes for giving them as well.  I wanted to give it to her the day it came in, but she made me wait until her actual birthday.  I mean what’s a couple of weeks anyway, but she insisted so I had to wait. 

I subscribe to the Expressionery website, so I get the email alerts for sales and special offers. I use these quite often for return addresses and gift labels but I have to realize that the possibilities are endless.  I find that most newlyweds these days own a house and it makes a nice wedding or housewarming gift. 

There are a number of websites where I have gotten so many fun and fresh ideas.  Have a look and see if your mind doesn’t envision all kinds of crafty uses for these stamps.

Let’s Play Guess The Sheet Size

Don’t you just hate it when you have to unfold sheets in the linen closet to guess the size? Well you may not have given it much thought, but it is one of those things that drives me a little bit nuts. 
Not to mention when you are grabbing one from the bottom and the neatly folded stack falls to the floor.  Argh!  Years ago I used a laundry pen to write a T, Q, or K in the corners of the sheets.  I found I still had to unfold the sheets because the letter was rarely ever visible after I folded them.  Next I placed the folded set inside one of the pillow cases to keep a matched set together, but again this wasn’t ideal because even though I tucked in the edges the pillow case was too large to keep them neatly stacked.  My next method included me whipping out some elastic from the sewing kit and tying pieces around the folded set with a big chunky knot on top.  This worked for the last several months, but this doesn’t solve the problem of identifying the size without opening them up.  

Lying in bed one night, moments before drifting off to sleep it hit me…I need to sew tags!  I of course proclaimed this out loud and startled my husband moments before he drifted off to dream land.  He groggily replied, “that’s nice dear,” and kept is date with the sandman. 

This is what my crafting mind came up with to solve the folding, stacking and identifying conundrum. I used a couple different fabrics, ¾” braided elastic, and some Sharpie Stained fabric markers.  In truth I was inspired by these Stained by Sharpie fabric markers that I purchased off the clearance rack at Office Depot.  I sometimes wander their aisles on my lunch break as a form of meditation during my workday.  You’d be surprised how rows and rows of paper products calm the nerves.


I began by scribbling the words using different colors and style until I found a few I didn’t mind.  I then cut the fabric into 4” square around each word.
I used the iron to press a narrow hem on each side of the tag.  The iron works better than pins when you are sewing a hem this narrow. 
I then folded the fabric right sides together and hemmed along the long edge.
I used a large safety pin to turn the tag inside out.  I put the pin through one end and pass the pin back through the center until it is right side out.  I discovered this trick when making scrunchies in the 90’s (don’t judge me; we all had them it’s nothing to be ashamed of).
Next I used the same pin to fish through the elastic, which I then overlapped and sewed closed. UPDATE: For the elastic I used 24" for kings, 20" for queens, and 18" for twin sized sheets.
I finished by slipping the tag over where I connected the two ends and stitched both sides of the tag.  This holds it in place and give it a more finished look.
I made several more using the same technique and proceeded to give my new invention a try.  They worked beautifully to keep the sheets sets together and make them easily identifiable.

The possibilities are endless here, you can be as fashionable as you’d like. 
I think they would be lovely if you have access to a machine with and embroidery feature. I hear those machines cost plenty of money and take up tons of space.  For now I am pleased to have solved another organization dilemma in my home.  Thank you for stopping by and be sure to come back to see what I’ve got going next.

Pumpkin Bread & Gift Giving

Hello all, I hope you enjoyed your weekend.  Mine didn’t go quite the way I planned, but I stilled managed to get everything done that I set out to do.  This included making and wrapping pumpkin bread to share in a post with you all today. 

I have been making this bread for the last three years after stumbling on the recipe at Décor Chick.  I am not going to reinvent the wheel, and all the details for this recipe can be found on this amazing blog.  Here are a couple of shots of me lining up all the ingredients and into the oven they went.  I made 8 mini loaf pans from this one recipe. 

After they baked and cooled I got started on the fun part, wrapping.  The holidays are fast approaching and regardless of what you celebrate in your home, I’m sure there is a fabric or scrapbook paper out there to suit your needs.  I made these for Thanksgiving and Christmas just to give you some ideas.  

I began by picking out some fall colored and Christmas themed scrapbook papers, and some coordinating colors of card stock.  All of these were 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  I also purchased and pair of fancy scissors, a circle template, raffia, some scrapbook mounting squares, and clear cellophane treats bags.  The fabric I bought at the local fabric store around the corner from my home. Out of my own closet I got out the paper cutter, pop-up tape strips, and my favorite PSA Essentials stamp.  The one for this project says “From the Kitchen of Marta”, but I’ll get into more detail on these later in the week. I’m a little obsessed with them. I usually stamp an entire sheet of Avery circle labels and keep them in the front pocket of my recipe binder. When I give food trays or bread to others I pull one out and pop it on top.   

I began with the easiest and that was to place the loaf in a cellophane bag, fold the end under the bottom and secure with tape.  I cut a 1 inch strip of the scrapbook paper and wrapped it around the center of the loaf and secured it with a circle label. 

Next with this same theme I wrapped the strip around the loaf, but this time secured it with a coordinating color card stock label.  I stamped the cardstock and carefully cut the circle out with the decorative edge scissors. I used a mounting strip to secure the label on top.   

I wanted to purchase a punch, but dang it all they weren’t on sale this weekend, so that will have to wait for another day.  The scissors were $1.99 and did the job quite nicely.  I liked the look of both of these and the possibilities are endless really. 

Next I dusted off the sewing machine and got to work on the next wrapping technique by sewing up some festive gift bags.  This was a trial and error process, and unfortunately there was one error. After I made the bag below I cut it a little too short for the loaf of bread, but hey don’t sweat it I’ll just have to wrap something smaller with that bag.  Nothing goes to waste around here. 
I used a clean loaf pan as my gauge for this project and found the measurements that suited me best.  I cut the fabric to a 14” square.  The 7" picture below is folded over.


I folded the right sides together and hemmed along the long side and one short side. I cut the opening with my pinking shears and I was finished.  This makes a nice little bag for giving the bread as gifts, and if you are not on speaking terms with your sewing machine, this is more than enough and you can stop here. 

But if you have developed a rapport with your machine as I have then move onto this next step to dress it up just a bit more.  I cut the next bag the same as before. After sewing the side and bottoms seam, I folded the sewn end to a point and secured it with a pin.  I eyeballed approximately 1 inch from the corner and sewed it straight across. 


I did this for both sides and when it is turned right side out it created it nice square end.  Because I wasn’t going for the cover of Craft Weekly, I cut the open end with my pinking shears and voila.  There you have it, quick and easy little gift bag for yummy gift giving. 

I made a couple of gift tags to coordinate and prepared to shower my neighbors with pumpkin bread.  Anyone who lives near me has come to enjoy this time of year because they know goodies will soon be coming their way. 
A couple of them were thrown off by the early Christmas present, but they all follow the blog, so they understood completely why I jumped the gun a little. 
We enjoyed some pumpkin bread for breakfast this morning, warmed for a few seconds in the microwave. I would like to tell you it was on fine china, but I would be lying.  In reality it was a paper plate with a smidge of Redi-Whip on top of the slices, cause in this house that’s how we roll.

Enjoy and remember to share it with a friend. Come back later this week for another simple sewing project and some stamping fun.

What’s Up Doc? Carrot Soufflé

Sorry I couldn’t’ help myself I had to go for the easy bunny reference.  Must be all the Looney Tunes my husband and son were watching last night.  It was cute the more big brother laughed the more the baby laughed.  Even with all the craziness in this working mom's day, those are the moments you have to just sit still and enjoy. 

Today we are making Carrot Soufflé.  We had our annual Thanksgiving pot luck at the office yesterday, and this is my go to dish for the fall.  Yeah sure it involves peeling and slicing 3 pounds of carrots and has ridiculous amounts of eggs and butter, but hey that's what are the holidays for. 

This is a recipe that I found in Southern Living in the late 90’s.  I lost it in a move once and spent an afternoon at the public library searching through 2 years of back issues to find it.  I think I made $2 worth of copies of it back then so I would never lose it again.  Here’s what you need.
Carrot Soufflé

3 pounds of carrots, peeled and sliced
6 eggs
1 ½ cups butter softened
1 cup flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. cinnamon

 Start by peeling and slicing 3 pounds of carrots.  Nothing compares to my pampered chef vegetable peeler for this, it is super sharp and definitely the right tool for the job.  I always thought that the two sides of the blade were made for left or right handed people, until I saw Rachel Ray peel carrots.  She kept the peeler in contact with the carrot and in a back and forth motion peeled the carrots twice as fast. Thanks Rachel Ray for the tip.  Also I don’t need a knife to cut the tops off, because the PC peeler is sharp enough the cut the green tops off with a few passes. 

Next I slice the carrots using the food processor.  Of course a knife would work but this is more fun.

I add these to a pot of salted water and cook them until they are tender.  I like to serve this dish straight from the oven, but often to save time I prepare and cook the carrots the night before then place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
I cooked these the morning of, so when the carrots were tender I strained them and ran them under cold water to stop the cooking, cool them off, and keep from melting the butter.  After rinsing I placed them back into the cooking pot, I used an immersion blender so I tried to dirty as few pots and dishes as possible.   

If you don’t have an immersion blender use a potato masher, mixer or food processor.  I add the softened butter and use the immersion blender to process the carrots and butter until they are mixed. Be careful not to over mix.  I like mine to still have a little texture to the carrots.

I crack all my eggs in a separate bowl and beat with a fork. I mix the flour baking powder and cinnamon together in a small bowl. 

I add these to the carrots, and then mix with my favorite mega Mix n’ Scraper and pour into a buttered baking dish. 

Because our get together was pot luck I used an aluminum catering pan that I sprayed with Pam for Baking. 

Put this in a preheated 350° oven for 1 hour and serve immediately. This will come out a little loose, so don't be alarmed.  You may need to add additional time in the oven, look for slight browning on the outer edges. 

The original recipe in Southern Living called for 3 cups of sugar, but I began to back out the sugar until I reached an amount that gave it plenty of sweetness without overpowering the carrots’ flavor. I have used as little as 1 ½ cups of sugar before.  Try it and find what works for you.  Some people sprinkled this with powdered sugar for presentation, but I prefer it without.  I usually only make this at Thanksgiving and Easter, but I sometimes get request from the family to make it more often.  This recipe also cuts in half beautifully for Sunday dinners.  If you’ve never had it before be adventurous and give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.  Enjoy and remember to share it with a friend. 

Have a nice weekend and come back next week for a mommy’s corner, more baking and some holiday gift ideas.