Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chloe's Princess Birthday Party

We just had Chloe's 4th birthday party this past weekend. She wanted a Princess party - complete with a Cinderella carriage cake and Sleeping Beauty piñata.

The girls all seemed to have fun.

First we made magic wands.  They are super easy.  All you need is wooden dowels, foam stars, glue and decorations (rhinestones, stickers, sequins, beads, buttons, foam shapes, etc). 

I put white glue in little styrofoam cups and gave them each a paint brush.  Then when they were all done, I used my glue gun to glue the dowel in between the two stars and tied a bow with a ribbon around the dowel.

Then we did the pinata.  Here she is... a little creepy, but I did my best. haha.

When the pinata finally broke apart, the top of her head was still hanging on the broom handle and the rest fell... wish I got a picture.  It was like Sleeping Beauty got scalped! Ick!
So many princesses... and one lone knight to protect them all!

Then we had cake (which was actually Rice Krispie cake covered in icing and fondant).

Here's a picture of the birthday girl in her new froggy toque and fleece night gown.... and holding her wand!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

World Juniors

For those of you who follow the World Juniors (hockey), we had to say a sad farewell to Team Canada.  We lost in the bronze medal game.  So sad.  This year marks the first in 14 years (I think my husband said it was 14) that Canada did NOT get a medal in the World Juniors.  Better luck next year, Canada!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Foodie Friday - Shortbread Cookies

Well, I know it's only Thursday, but the post is ready and I'm excited that this week I'm back on the ball.  So... here it is a day EARLY (for once) -Foodie Friday!

Hi, I'm Megan and I'm a shortbread-aholic. I don't know what it is about shortbread, but if there is shortbread nearby I just can't stop eating it. It's one of those cookies that is delicious and melts in your mouth. And is found in abundance at Christmas time.  So, in other words, I've been eating it nearly non-stop for a month... ahem

Anyway, here is my favorite shortbread recipe. I usually make them plain but you could add a maraschino cherry or Hershey's kiss or other topping before baking them if you wish.

The key to that perfect melt-in-your-mouth shortbread is to not overcook them. You want to take them out when the edges are just BARELY turning golden. For me that was 8 to 8.5 minutes. It will vary by oven. I would start with 6-7 minutes and then check them every 30-45 seconds until done the first time. That will give you a better idea for time on the second pan.

Shortbread Cookies

1 lb butter (not margarine)
1/2 cup corn starch
3 cups flour
1 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and vanilla.  Cream in sugar, flour and cornstarch.  Beat with an electric mixer until whipped cream consistency.  Roll into balls and flatten with a fork.  Add cherry or Hershey Kiss to top if desired.  Cook at 350 F for 7-8 minutes until BARELY golden on the edges.  Let cool about 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks.

These freeze really well too!
Anyway, hope you all had a fantastic Christmas!  Ours was lots of fun.  And we even got some tobogganing in with the kids.  So much fun!  Thanks for being patient with me and my recent lack of posts.  I am determined to be more motivated (in terms of my blog) this year and to do at least one post a week.  Happy New Year from The Crafty Conundrum!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Almond Toffee (as seen on So You Think You're Crafty)

In case you missed my guest post at So You Think You're Crafty back in December, here it is (in all its glory ... haha)

Every year since I can remember my mom makes and dips chocolates around Christmas time. My sister and I help out, but my mom is the real pro.  Anyway, I decided that I should probably start to learn the trade myself, so I started with something easy. It's called Almond Toffee and today I'm going to teach you how to make it too. This is great to start with because there are no candy thermometers or beating.  And it's a lot harder to mess up than something like caramels or fondant.

So let's get started.  First you butter a 10 x 15" jelly roll pan. In an electric frying pan, combine light corn syrup, sugar, and water. Set the temperature to 360 F (180 C).

Bring the mixture to a boil, while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Once boiling, add blanched slivered almonds and butter.

Keep stirring and cooking until the almonds are brown.

Pour into prepared pan and press score lines into the candy with a heavy knife as it begins to set.

Let candy cool completely at room temperature. Then break it along score lines.

Now this toffee tastes great by itself, but we love it even more when it's dipped in dipping chocolate and rolled in (or sprinkled with) chopped, toasted almonds.  It's kind of reminiscent of Almond Roca.

The dipping takes a bit more skill and patience while you learn how to "temper the chocolate." if your chocolate isn't the right temperature when you dip it then it will appear "foggy".  A great resource for learning to temper chocolate and dip properly (along with fabulous recipes for all kinds of candy) is a book called Candymaking by Ruth A. Kendrick and Pauline H. Atkinson. I invested in a copy of my own because it's really helpful.  This is the book my mom has been using for the past 20-30 years of chocolate making and it's wonderful.

And here are the ingredient amounts:

Almond Toffee

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup blanched almonds (slivered or chopped)
1 cup butter