Thursday, February 20, 2014

Harry Potter Party Treats: Honeydukes Express

We just had our New Beginnings program and did a Harry Potter theme (more on that here). After the program we had refreshments off the Honeydukes Cart (the treats cart on the train that takes the students to Hogwarts).  Just thought I'd show you what we did for treats!


We looked up some of the treats on the cart and came up with our own versions of them. Sandy made all the awesome signs for us, and then we all just went through our cupboards and found dishes to use for the treats.

Magic Wands:
Pretzel sticks dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in sprinkles. These were SO yummy. I loved the salty against the sweet along with the crunchiness.  

Chocolate Frogs:



Here's a size reference for you. 
I ordered a frog mold from Amazon to make these. I figure with a little boy in our lives now, a frog mold will be fun (chocolates, jello, ice, etc.), so I just got it for me to have at home (and it really was a decent price). I got the 2lb bag of melting chocolates made for those chocolate fountains and that made 32 frogs. These disappeared fast! 


 Anti-Dementor Chocolates:
Hehe...I just made a connection...a dementor's "kiss" sucks out a person's soul...a chocolate kiss protects it apparently. Bahahaha, love it.  

Jelly Slugs:

Levitating Lemon Drops:

Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans:

Jelly Belly sells actual every flavor beans, but at $2.25 for a small box, we couldn't afford enough for everyone. So we just got the regular assortment of Jelly Bellies. 

Fizzing Whizbees (aka caramels): 
 The recipe for these can be found here

Butterbeer:

I didn't get an actual picture of the butter beer. But it pretty much looks like cream soda with whipped cream on top...because that's just about what it is. We used this recipe for our butterbeer. We thought the flavor of the extracts was way too strong, most of the adults didn't like it. But the kids thought it was alright. If we were to make it again I'd just use butterscotch flavoring and not add as much as the recipe calls for. 

Easy Caramels



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  •  2 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 15oz can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
You will also need a candy thermometer. I also used both parchment and waxed paper in making these.

Directions:
  1. Melt butter in heavy saucepan. 
  2. Add sugar and salt. Stir thoroughly. 
  3. Stir in corn syrup and mix well. 
  4. Gradually add sweetened condense milk, stirring constantly. 
  5. Cook and stir over medium heat to 244 degrees-firm ball stage (**Read next note!!**)
    1. This may need to be adjusted to your specific area. Look up your altitude, find the boiling point (http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/boiling-points-water-altitude-d_1344.html). In Silver City, the altitude is 5895 so the boiling point is 201. 
    2. Subtract your boiling point from 212 (in Silver City: 212-201=11). 
    3. Subtract the number you just calculated (i.e. 11) from 244 (the original temperature for the firm ball stage). Silver City: 244-11=233. This is your new firm ball stage temperature for your area. Cook the caramel mixture to THIS temperature if you are not at sea level. 
  6. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. 
  7. Pour into buttered 9x13 pan. 
    1. You can also spray the pan with Pam, place parchment paper inside the pan, then butter the parchment paper. This makes clean up super super easy!!
  8. Cool and cut into squares. It may take 8 hours to cool completely. 
  9. Caramel squares may be wrapped in wax paper to keep from sticking to each other at this stage. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gingerbread People Cookies

I made these to share with our playgroup, and we had a marvelous time frosting and decorating them! We also REALLY had a marvelous time eating them, they were SO yummy!

This recipe comes to you from this cookbook, which came to me from Kate:

What you need for the cookie dough:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup golden brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup light molasses
2 large egg yolks
2 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt

What you need for the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 tsp milk

What you do for the cookies:
*In a bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and molasses. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat until incorporated.
*Sift together remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the dough into thirds, shape into flat disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
*Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Grease 2 large cookie sheets with cooking spray. 
*On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 dough disk to 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out gingerbread people shapes. Using a metal spatula, transfer to cookie sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Gather the scraps into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Repeat rolling and cutting with remaining dough disks, one at a time. 
*Bake until the cookies begin to turn golden brown at the edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. 
I cannot for the life of me get blogger to turn this one the right way. Sorry about the sideways gingerbread men!
What you do for the frosting:
*In a small bowl, combine the sugar and vanilla. Stir in enough milk to thin to the desired consistency. Decorate the cookies with the icing. Let the icing dry completely before storing cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. 
Erik and his friends decorating their gingerbread men. They were sure yummy!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Totally Awesome Biscuits

I'm going to break the rules and not post a picture. Just imagine a biscuit and there you have it. 

Totally Awesome Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 T. baking powder
4 T. shortening
1 c. milk
2 T. butter (do not add into dough mixture)

1.    Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.
2.    Cut in shortening.
3.    Stir in milk. The dough will still be sticky at this point, that's normal
4.    Dump about 1/4-1/2 cup of flour on the counter and spread it around (about a 1 to 1 1/2 foot circle is plenty) to prepare your floured surface
5.  Place dough on the floured surface and sprinkle a light layer of flour over the top. 
6.  Knead the dough (by folding it in half) 7-10 times. Do not over-knead.
5.    Flatten (either by hand or with a rolling pin...I just flatten it with my hands) to about an inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter/cookie cutter/tin can. Recombine edge pieces, flatten and cut again (mixing the dough as little as possible). 
7.    Melt 2 T. butter in 8x8 baking pan.
8.    Place each cut biscuit dough in the pan of butter, turning it over so that both the top and bottom are coated. 
9.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown. You don't want to wait until these are brown to pull them out of the oven as they will be overcooked and hard at that point. To test if they are done, lightly try pulling the top of one biscuit. It should pull up easily and the inside should look flaky. 
10. Store cooled leftover biscuits in an airtight container (plastic baggies work) in a cool place. Can be reheated in the microwave (you only need about 10-15 seconds). 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Potato Soup

Mostly I'm putting this up here because I sorta winged the making of this recipe and really liked the results, so I'm going to record what I did here so I can duplicate it in the future. I had a list of ingredients for my mom's potato soup recipe but no directions, so I found this recipe and kinda combined the two. We gobbled this up with slices of fresh buttered home-made bread to dunk in it and it was awesome! Talk about comfort food!


What you need:
Bacon (a few slices should do)
1/2 an onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced into bite size pieces
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper
3 cups chicken broth (plus extra bullion for added flavor if desired)
1/2 cup milk
2 TBS flour
1/2 can evaporated milk
Grated cheese
Parsley (optional)

What you do:
Chop your bacon into small pieces and cook in a largish soup pot. When the bacon is crunchy, remove from pan onto a paper towel, and discard most of the grease (save about a tsp).
Add the onion and carrots, and cook until the onions start to soften (maybe five minutes?). Add the potatoes and salt and pepper; cook for a few more minutes.
Dump in your chicken broth and bring to a boil. Boil for something like 10 minutes, or until your potatoes are soft.
Mix the flour and milk together in a separate container and then add into the soup. Return to a boil and let cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in evaporated milk and grated cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Sprinkle in the parsley (this is mostly a garnish, I don't think it did much for the flavor), and serve up a big bowl for yourself. Garnish with a sprinkle of bacon pieces and enjoy!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Eclairs

I was in need of something yummy yesterday. And when I say yummy I mean REALLY yummy. OOZING with yummy-ness. Decadently yummy. Do you get the idea? Boring old cookies or something like that just weren't going to cut it, I needed something amazing. But I don't have huge reserves of energy right now (and I'm just lazy) so it had to be something that wasn't going to require a large amount of effort. Or a trip to the store. Ethan helped me swim through mountains of cookbooks and ideas and we finally decided that these would be the perfect thing. And OH BOY were they ever!
What you need:
Pudding (we used this recipe to make our own, but you could use the boxed stuff) or Pastry Cream
   
*For the eclairs:
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
4-5 eggs
*For the chocolate glacé icing
3 squares (3 oz) semi sweet baking chocolate, melted in 1 1/2 TBS water
3 cups confectioner's sugar, SIFTED
3-4 TBS water

What you do:
Make your pudding/pastry cream first and get it started chilling in the fridge.

For the eclairs:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift the flour and salt together into a small bowl or onto a piece of waxed paper. Put the water and butter into a fairly large saucepan, bring to a boil, and when bubbling, remove from the heat. Immediately pour in the flour/salt. Beat vigorously for a few seconds until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball.
Cool the mixture about 5 minutes, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. If the eggs are large, break the last one into a bowl and beat with a fork. Add this egg slowly to the pastry dough to ensure that it remains firm and keeps its shape--all of this last egg may not be needed, depending on the consistency of the dough.
Beat the dough for 1-2 minutes until it's glossy and very smooth.
Put the dough into a pastry bag (I just use a large ziplock bag and cut off the tip of one corner) with a 1/2 plain tip. Pipe the dough fairly far apart onto a dampened baking sheet in 3 in lengths (I don't know why they have you dampen the baking sheet. It didn't prevent the pastries from sticking, next time I'm going to try just spraying the pan with cooking spray).
Bake for 10 minutes in the heated oven, then raise the temp to 425 degrees and continue baking for 15 minutes. When the eclairs are firm and crisp, prick the sides to release the steam and cool on a wire rack. Slit them open along one side.Fill the eclairs with the pudding, making sure the entire length is filled, preferably using a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip (again, I used a plastic baggie). 
Dip the tops of the eclairs in the icing (recipe to follow) and return to wire rack to set (I didn't dip mine, I just spooned the icing over the tops, it seemed less messy). These were good warm, but we decided we liked them best chilled. 
For the chocolate glacĂ© icing:
In a pan over gentle heat, melt the chocolate pieces in the water, stirring until it's smooth (Remember how I said I didn't want to have to go to the store? I didn't have baking chocolate, so I just threw in three medium size handfuls of semi sweet chocolate chips, and it worked fine). Take from heat and beat in the sugar. Add enough water to make a thick cream. Heat the icing over a pan of hot water until warm to the touch--it should coat the back of a spoon. If it's too thick, add a little more water; if too thin, beat in more sugar.

Now, I do have to warn you that I have a terrible time getting my pastry to come out uniform. There are often several of them that have holes or deformations that make them unfit for filling. Also, my oven has a thing against heating to and staying at the temp you've chosen so my first pan of these didn't cook right. So, I took the ones that would work and filled/frosted them the conventional way, but the rest didn't go to waste. I put a layer of the pastries in a dish, then poured the leftover pudding over the top of them. I added another layer of pastries and topped with the remaining frosting. I ended up with an eclair casserole tiramisu lasagna cake pie thing that was REALLY yummy, though not beautiful. None of the ugly pastries got wasted and I have WAY more good stuff to fatten myself up with. That's a win for everyone!

Vanilla Pudding

Okay, so I didn't take a picture of this one, but we all know what pudding looks like, right? Home made pudding tends to be more mildly flavored than the store bought boxed stuff, but it's SO good!

What you need:
 1/3 cup sugar
2 TBS cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 TBS butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla

What you do:
In a 2 qt saucepan (it really does need to be that big, trust me), mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
Gradually stir at least half the hot mixture into the egg yolks, then stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil an stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla.
Pour pudding into individual serving dishes. Cover (use plastic wrap and push it all the way down onto the surface of the pudding, if you don't a skin will form on top of the pudding, yuck!) and refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled. Store covered in the refrigerator.