Monthly Archives: October 2012

my ten most used kitchen tools

I saw this as a post on Lawfully Wedded Wife so I thought I’d give it a go. Most of my kitchen tools are for baking! I’m not really surprised but it was an interesting realization when I saw the items as I was uploading the pictures. All pictures are courtesy of Amazon.com 🙂
#1: Cobalt Blue Kitchen Aid Mixer – I don’t think I can live without one now that I have one!
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#2: NorPro Ice Cream Scoop – This is a great scoop. I have mine in 2 tablespoons but the picture is a 4 tablespoon one. I use it to scoop cupcake batter as well as cookie dough. Ironically enough, I never use it to scoop ice cream.
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#3: Cutco Ice Cream Scoop – This is my far the best ice cream scoop I’ve ever owned. I’ve had it for over 5 years now and it still looks like it’s new. It scoops the absolute hardest ice creams. It’s a bit expensive but definitely worth the investment.
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#4: NorPro Jelly Roll Pans – I use them as cookie sheets and they’re great. I also use them for sheet cakes, roasting chickens, and for holding cupcakes and caramel apples.
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#5: Cutco Knives – I worked as a sales rep selling Cutco knives the summer I graduated high school. It was a hard job but I loved the knives. They’re the sharpest knives I own. If you’re not careful, you could cut your nail with these. I did it on accident and I was shocked it was sharp enough to cut through my nail. The picture is of the Homemaker +8
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#6: Cuisinart Mixer – This is my back up mixer to my stand mixer. I use this if I don’t feel like washing my stand mixer. Usually I use it if whatever I’m whisking is a liquid such as filling for egg tarts.
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#7: Silpat Mats – These are great for baking cookies. They make sure your cookies are evenly baked and you won’t have to worry about the hassle of throwing it away afterwards. Your cookies also don’t get stuck to them.
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#8: Wilton Muffin Pan – I’m a cupcake freak so this pan is used on a regular basis. I use it for muffins too.
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#9: OXO Flexible Spatula – I use it to cook pancakes or sunny side up eggs. It’s a great tool for pancakes! 🙂
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#10: Lipper International Bamboo Kitchen Tools – I use these for pretty much everything. Whether it’s stir frying or spooning the last of the brownie batter.
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Disclaimer: By no means am I advertising for any of the companies of the products that are pictured above. Everything said in this post is my personal opinion.

What are your top ten kitchen tools? 🙂 I’m going through some family drama right now which has taken me away from blogging. I don’t like to write about that kind of stuff because I doubt my family would approve of being blogged about. I just have one question..WHY is there ALWAYS family drama? I’m so sick of it! Originally I planned to have many other Halloween treats posted but it doesn’t seem likely because Halloween is tomorrow. Somehow, I’ve never enjoyed Halloween. My parents don’t “like” the holiday so as a kid I NEVER got to go trick-or-treating. I’m not sure if it’s because they didn’t trust me or the people I would have gotten my candy from. Regardless, when I have kids I would totally let them go trick-or-treating. I always found it particularly cruel because my cousins got to go and I didn’t. They’d always come back with like 50 bags of candy. I kid you not, one year my cousins got so much candy from trick-or-treating that my sister and I received several bags from them as gifts. My aunt also had to take some into work for her coworkers. She still had leftovers! I hope everyone stays safe trick-or-treating tomorrow! 🙂

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

caramel apples

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I finally found my lollipop sticks! 🙂 I made seven caramel apples earlier. Sadly, I don’t think I did enough research on how to make caramel apples. I’m not talking about the ingredients and the process but technique. My mom saw them in the fridge and the ones that I rolled in m&ms had all the m&ms fall off. I was so disappointed! 😦 She said I put too much liquid in them. So I rolled two apples in caramel then m&ms thinking I would make m&m caramel apples. As I was dipping the third apple in the caramel I notice that the m&ms are falling off the apple. I tried to get pass it by placing m&ms on the third apple individually instead of rolling it. DIDN’T WORK! HORRIBLE IDEA! After the third apple, all the caramel was starting to firm up which made dipping the other four apples very hard. In the end, the caramel firmed so much that three apples are technically “half dipped.” ARGH!! So pretty much, I failed sweetly today.
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This one was rolled..
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This one wasn’t. The m&m’s didn’t get as far.
Here’s the recipe..
Caramel Apples
7 apples (I used granny smith, gala, and this other one that I can’t name)
7 lollipop sticks
8oz MINI m&ms (I used regular m&m’s which were too heavy and fell and my bag had 12oz so I used about 2/3 of the bag)
41 pieces of vanilla caramel (you can use regular)
2 tablespoons evaporated milk (I used three and it was too much so be careful while adding)

1. Wash apples and wipe to get rid of the wax on the outside.
2. Place the lollipop stick on the bottom center of each apple.
3. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and fill a plate with m&ms. Refill as necessary.
4. Melt caramel on the stove under very low heat. Add evaporated milk while the caramel melts.
5. Dip apple in caramel and let the excess caramel drip off. Roll in m&ms and place on the wax paper. Immediately put in the fridge to harden the caramel!

I’m still sad about my m&ms..lol my baking sheet looks like a gooey mess. Three apples are oozing with caramel and m&ms around them. One of the apples looks beautifully coated while the last three are half-dipped. There really isn’t anything like a homemade caramel apple. These are awesome!!!
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On a side note, I think my mom is completely OBSESSED with flax seed and flax seed meal. I understand that she wants to eat healthy but if you buy four bags of flax seed meal…I think you’re kinda crazy. Is it just me? She also bought italian waffle cookies that are lemon flavored. Those were pretty tasty. I laughed when she said she went clothes shopping with my grandma and Sears gave her a 2 liter bottle of root beer for free. Anything’s possible right? I’ve never had that happen before. My mom’s obsessed with Sprouts and Whole Foods. I don’t know why she’s so amazed by their selections, it’s all healthy stuff. My college student budget didn’t allow me to shop there on a regular basis. Since I told her that Sprouts and Whole Foods have been around for awhile, she told me I’m obligated to buy her flax seed meal if she ran out. Nice eh? I knew I should have kept my big mouth shut…I never seem to learn lol 😛

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

halloween treats

I was browsing the Martha Stewart Living website for Halloween treat ideas and I found some really cool and kind of creepy treats.
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This one is called the Medusa head and hands punch. When I first saw it my tummy kind of gave out. It looked totally gross and creepy but very appropriate for Halloween. I think the punch itself is some sort of green fruit mixed with grape juice? Don’t quote me on that. I was too mesmerized by the jello hands. I thought they were awesome! 🙂
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These cupcakes are so genius!!! They’re super cute and the name cards made me crack up. If I had the tip for the pattern, I would totally make these.
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This one is my favorite and probably the easiest one. You could buy the pie crust and then fill it with your favorite ice cream. After you pile on the ice cream, crumble some chocolate wafer cookies and sprinkle it on top. You can use whole or halfed Milano cookies as tombstones. If I were to make these I’d probably use a americolor pen and write R.I.P on the Milanos before I stick them into the pie. It’s such a simple treat! 🙂
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Aren’t these freaky? I had to do a double take when I was browsing through the pictures. Insanely creepy but yet it’s very appropriate. I’m not sure how these are made though. I get creeped out when I look at the pictures too lon. Yikes!

I’m currently on the hunt for my darn lollipop sticks so I can make caramel apples. I love caramel apples. They’re one of my favorite treats. I only eat them with m&ms..all the other coatings never matched up to the good ole m&ms. I will post my recipe as soon as I find the sticks and make the apples. Hope everyone’s enjoying their Halloween treat making.

All pictures are from the Martha Stewart Living website.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

the great food blogger cookie swap is back!!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012
COOKIES!!!! 🙂 The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is back this year. I was disappointed that I couldn’t participate last year due to late timing. However, I will be participating this year! I’m still trying to figure out what kind of cookie to make. It’s going to be a really tough choice deciding on one kind of cookie. Lindsay and Julie are hosting it again this year. I’m so excitedddd! You can’t go wrong with a good cookie. This year’s round up will be a little different. All participants will be asked to donation $4 to Cookies For Kids Cancer which is a non-profit organization. Another reason why bloggers are so effing awesome! It’s a great way to make new friends, share your cookie recipe with others, receive baked cookies, as well as help a non-profit. All U.S. participants will also be receiving a “be a good cookie” spatula from OXO. This year will be the second annual cookie swap.

If anyone’s interested in the swap, click this for more information. All the requirements and sign up procedures are written on that page. It’s an excellent way to attract new readers, but mostly for the cookies and the kids 🙂 You don’t wanna miss out! I saw the photo gallery of the cookies made last year. I was so disappointed because they looked so amazing!!! Be sure to sign up before November 5th!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

DIY blog lovin’

I’ve been browsing through blogs since I got up today and have been eyeing all sorts of cool stuff. I was admiring all the DIY bloggers because I cannot make anything resemble what it’s “supposed to” look like. I lack artistic talent in everything except maybe baking. Even then, it never looks like what it’s supposed to look like!

One of the blogs that I recently started following is Sweet Little Thang and on their blog was a DIY princess and prince crown post. The title captivated my attention at once. For those who know me, I guess I’m a pretty spoiled person. Not as in I always get what I want but sometimes I expect too much of others without giving anything in return because it’s my brothers fault (I kid..well sort of). I blame him solely for spoiling the crap out of me. I believe that’s where my belief for all men to be gentlemen if they want to be a part of my life comes from (the ex boyfriends will agree). That and my old roomie always told me I was spoiled because my brother bought me a beautiful cobalt blue KitchenAid Mixer as a Christmas/Birthday gift (my birthday’s in January). It’s awesome! 🙂 We had baking nights and planned what could be made with my mixer..haha 🙂 That’s the college life. My sister on the other hand, well…she has been trying to stomp the spoiledness out of me for as long as I can remember. So far, brother 1 and sister 0. If she read this, she’d probably roll her eyes. The crowns look amazing. I want one in purple 🙂

Another blog I found is Thrifty Finds and Redesigns. The fall buffet post is super cute. I absolutely love the colors. The photo craft canvas post is beautiful as well. The photos look very rustic and old school but elegant at the same time. If that makes any sense? 🙂

Another wonderful blog is Everything Fab! AH!! I swear it’s like my dream life in those posts. I love the spring awakening post. Those flowers are absolutely gorgeous. AND they’re purple which is an extra plus because I love the purp 🙂 This blog has turned into one of my favorites. It has beauty, fashion, decor, shopping, and traveling all in one. They’re so in my head right now!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

caramel apple cupcakes

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These are so good!!! I’ve never tried spice cake before because I’m not a fan of anise or cloves which I assumed was in spice cake. I found a recipe for caramel apple cupcakes on Sweet Little Thang and they looked delish. I decided to give it a try and the spice cake was so delicious. It was very flavorful and moist. I wish I had pecans to top them off but they tasted great without them.

Here’s the recipe..
Caramel Apple Cupcakes (adapted from Sweet Little Thang)
cupcake batter:
1 box spice cake (I used the Duncan Hines brand)
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup diced granny smith apples

caramel topping:
17 vanilla caramels (you can use regular)
3-4 tablespoons evaporated milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, add all ingredients for batter except the apples and mix thoroughly.
3. Once the batter is well mixed, add the diced apples and mix with a spatula.
4. Line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners and scoop batter into each liner using a ice cream scoop. I got 23 cupcakes out of this recipe.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting with caramel topping.
6. Using a small saucepan, add the caramel and whisk under very low heat. Gradually add the evaporated milk one tablespoon at a time. You may need more depending on the consistency of your caramel. Once it’s smoothe and pourable take it off the stove and frost your cupcakes. You can garnish with chopped pecans, m&ms, sea salt, whatever you please.

These are ah-mazing. I’m assuming they taste even better with pecans on top but I didn’t have any. It’s a great recipe for Halloween or even Thanksgiving. Am I the only one that’s thinking that far ahead? 🙂 Enjoy em

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

dark chocolate chunk waffle cookies

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I was browsing Lauren Conrad’s website for this hair tutorial that I wanted to try out and I came across the dine gallery. A lot of the dishes are healthy but I came across a recipe for waffle cookies! The ones she made look super cute so I wanted to try them out myself. These would go great with a glass of milk or some vanilla ice cream 🙂

Here’s the recipe..
Dark Chocolate Chunk Waffle Cookies (adapted from Lauren Conrad.com) makes approximately 10-12 cookies
1 stick unsalted butter melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (I used a 2oz square from the Sweet Factory)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk melted butter with brown sugar.
2. Add vanilla and then one egg at a time. Be sure to whisk thoroughly after each egg.
3. Add baking soda, salt, and flour. Whisk to get out all the lumps.
4. Pour in the oats and mix.
5. Add the chocolate and mix again.
6. Using a ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto waffle iron. I have a circular waffle iron from Cuisinart and I made these on 3. I made two cookies at a time so they wouldn’t stick. They take about 1 1/2 minutes to cook.
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These cookies are delish with milk, coffee, hot chocolate, lattes, or ice cream. My mom isn’t a fan of my chocolate chip cookies because she thinks they’re too sweet. I’ve tried a number of different recipes and she hasn’t approved of any of them except this one. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s in the shape of a waffle..either way, these aren’t too sweet. If you want the maximum flavor of these cookies (they’re very flavorful in themselves) then use high quality ingredients. Don’t use imitation vanilla. I used dark chocolate squares from the Sweet Factory but Godiva or Ghirardelli work just fine. I usually use the Nestle kind or sometimes the Hersheys kind. My mom said the Sweet Factory quality is better. It’s also more expensive but these little suckers are delish. Try them out!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina