Welcome to "chuff to bits"! My blog about food, crafting, and other wonderful things! Stay tuned to find out what!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Link, stop smashing my jars!

So today I have that creamcheese frosting recipe. It's the creation of a friend of mine who has generously offered to test recipes for me here and there, and send me recipes she'd love to share with you. It's all very exciting actually because it means:

a) I'm not the only person reading my blog.... and less disappointingly:

b) You might actually get recipes during the weeks on end where I manage to get nowhere NEAR a kitchen!

So for the icing:

1 pkg of cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
Lots of icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt (1/8 tsp)
2 or 3 tbsp cream/milk

Blend softened cream cheese with butter until smooth. Add Vanilla and salt and stir more. Add icing sugar until you get an icing consitency. (some like it thick) and add a couple tablespoons of cream or milk just to help smooth it out and make it creamy and spreadable.
Stir for five mins, sit the bowl in the fridge to stiffen for five mins and then stir thoroughly before drizzing on anything that needs frosted.

OR put it in an icing bag and squirt into the middle of your favorite muffins

OR eat with a spoon (unless your diabetic)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who would do that.

Also today, I have a couple of links for you.

First, unless I've already sent you to this site, I'm sending you to Stumbleupon Now if you're reading this, you probably are already on Stumbleupon. Stumbleupon is my secret addiction. It's like channel surfing for the internet. Have you ever been bored and just kept clicking the links on sites to take you to other sites to find something interesting to look at or do? Fear not dear reader for I will change your life. Stumbleupon installs a toolbar where you click a "Stumble" button and it takes you to random websites. You can give the website a thumbs up or a thumbs down and Stumble learns your likes and dislikes as you go, bringing you more and more sites tailored to your specific tastes. Just try it, trust me.

Second, we're going to hop on over to XKCD which is, in their words "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language". If I was you I'd just start at the beginning and read through a couple. Try not to laugh. I dare you.

Anyway, I'm promising pictures in the next post. It's a tall order but this is 2010 after all. I "should" be able to make that go.....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sloooooow Cooking

Hey all,

Well, I'm certainly remiss in my posting duties. Bad blogger, bad. Anyway. I messed up somewhere and the stupid raspberry torte I've been trying to post here for ages isn't forthcoming today either. Somehow I lost the cable I needed to plug my camera in. I'm still promising it, just not today (how many times have I said that already?).

Anyway, I have a delicious (and super easy) slow cooker recipe for you:

Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches

(now this is NOT my recipe, I heard of it somewhere and made my own modifications of course. If I recall where I ran across it I'll be sure to update you)


1 pork roast (I picked the nicest looking one that fits into my slow cooker)
1 bottle root beer
1 cup BBQ sauce (I used Diana's Hickory Smoke Sauce)
6 kaiser rolls or hamburger buns


Put pork roast in slow cooker. Cover with root beer. Cook on high for 8 hrs or as long as it takes for the pork to break apart easily when you jab at it with a wooden spoon (my highly scientific test).

Pull pork out of slow cooker, dump liquid. Tear pork apart into bits using 2 forks(removing fat or bones or what-have-you). Add 1/2 cup root beer and 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. Mix. Adjust sauce and rootbeer to your own tastes. Put on buns. Eat. Thank me later.

There you go, deliciously rootbeer-y sandwiches.

AND as a special bonus, if you call right now, we'll give you TWO recipes for the price of one!!!

So a friend of mine was looking for a good pumpkin cookie recipe. I happened to have one handy that I've never tried. She tried it and confirmed it was good. She used her own cream cheese style icing though and I'll try to get that recipe out of her for you because it sounds delicious.

Here's that recipe, it comes from the Taste of Home Christmas recipe cookbook:

White Chocolate Pumpkin Dreams

1 cup butter
1/2 cup each sugar + brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or whatever spices you like best)
1 tsp each baking powder + baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 pkg (11 ounces) vanilla or white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2- 2 cups icing sugar

1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, beat in egg vanilla and pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients then gradually mix into cream mixture. Stir in chips and pecans.
2. Drop by tsp 2in. apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-14 min or until firm. Cool.
3.For frosting combing brown sugar and butter in saucepan. Boil, cook over medium heat for 1 min until slightly thickened. Cool for 10 mins. Add milk, beat until smooth. Beat in enough icing sugar to reachhh desired consistency. Smooth over cooled cookies.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Busy Busy Times

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I'd originally intended to post once every two days or so. This time of year is bad for me though, and I admit that while I've opened the post writer a couple of times now, my heart just hasn't been in it.

I promised a post about the Raspberry Cream Torte and I will make good on my promise, just not today. I managed to write the whole post and crash my computer trying to open the pictures I took. Today I'm nowhere near where the pictures are stored as I write this.

Recently this week, I finished knitting a very easy toque, which I'll post instructions for the minute I figure out how to fix it ( I managed to pull it apart while wearing it the other day). I've also almost completed a coat for my dog. It was a two day project (minus the velcro which isn't attached yet). It only took more than one day due to some alterations I had to make to fit my weirdly shaped dog. As a bonus, I'll also include some instructions for the cute netbook tote/purse I made from one of those reusable shopping bags everyone seems to sell these days. I made the tote some time ago, but it was simple and I think I can talk you through it.

It was a very crafty week all in all. While I'm not going to be very forthcoming with details, I promise they will follow in the next week or two.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna and Chocolate Chip Coconut Bars

I have one single thing to say about this recipe ...mmmmmmmmm.

I've had some terrible experiences with vegetarian/vegetable lasagnas. Most seem to include eggplant, which I find disgustingly gelatinous, or zuccini (ew). I've even had a particularily revolting lasagna where I had the unpleasant surprise that the golden crusty layer of cheese on the top was actually.......EGGS! That's right, solid layer of scrambled eggs. Zero cheese. Blech.

So, always on the lookout for a tasty lasagna recipe. I came across this one in that $12 magazine of holiday recipes. It looked delicious but I was a little skeptical. Artichokes can be hit or miss. I was concerned that the Significant Other wouldn't like it since artichokes can be a little sour to some people. Well, I have to say that this lasagna could stand up to any traditional meaty, cheesy, tomato-y affair out there. Try it for yourself and see. The ingredient list looks long but we had most of this stuff on hand:

1/2 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and pepper
1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 jar (16) ounces roasted garlic Alfredo sauce
12 no-cook lasagna noodles (these are the kind that don't need to be boiled first)
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup feta cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon each oregano, parsley, basil (I omitted the basil)

In a big pot cook the onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add broth, rosemary, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add artichokes spinach and mushrooms. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add Alfredo sauce.

Spread a cup of the spinach mixture on the bottom of a 13in x 9 in lasagna pan. Top with layer of lasagna noodles. Top that with 3/4 cup mozza. Repeat 3 times. Top with remaining sauce, then mozza, then with the crumbled feta cheese. Sprinkle with garlic, oregano, parsley and basil.

Cover and bake at 350 for 40mins. Remove cover and bake 15mins longer until just a little golden on top. (I had to move the pan up and turn the broiler on to get it to brown on top and watched it carefully so that it didn't burn. Let stand for 10 minutes.

It was soooo delicious that I didn't even remember to take pictures until it had been eaten and the leftovers packaged for lunches. So I did get one picture of one slice.

The lasagna having been demolished, I turned to dessert....mmmmmm. I had a Creamy Raspberry Torte planned for dessert. Unfortunately, I didn't read through the whole recipe, which says at the end of it that it has to sit for six hours or overnight. Hmmmm. Well, it will be delicous for dessert tomorrow, but what to make today?

I ended up looking for a recipe based on the ingredients in my house that I had that I wouldn't need for the torte. I came up with a Chocolate Chip Coconut Bar recipe. Which I put in a 9 inch round pan since I'd bought a few of them for the torte (since I don't have a springform pan) and because my one rectangular pan had a lasagna in it.

Also delicious, the recipe for this one is:
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coconut
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy. (The website I collected this from had a comment from a reader that said that her bars turned out spongy and she disliked the texture. I use powdered egg replacer which doesn't do fluffy. I just mixed it in and mine turned out cookie like. So I recommend if you're using real eggs and you don't want the spongy texture, then maybe don't fluff the eggs.)
Add salt,baking soda,vanilla and coconut. Beat in flour. Spread into a greased 8 in pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. (I just wantonly sprinkled chips without measuring). Bake 350* for 25 minutes. (Until light golden brown and with a cookie texture at the edges). Careful not to overcook.

Proceed to demolish cookies. MMMMMMMMM......drool. We ate more than half the pan last night and the last few pieces that made it into the fridge went with the Significant Other to work today. This was sooo simple that I'm sure I'll make it over and over again.

Tomorrows post should include how the Creamy Rasberry Torte finally worked out.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Brownies

My apologies to anyone who actually reads my blog. :D The first week back at work after Christmas is usually pretty busy.

A few days ago I made chocolate cherry brownies.

I had half a jar of maraschino cherry juice left from the cherry angel food cake and I was craving something chocolate. I made the brownies without a recipe but I'm sure you could just add the cherry juice to any good brownie recipe.
Here's what I used:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
approx 1/2 cup of cherry juice
Blend together.
In a seperate bowl, mix together:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until you have a consistancy you like (runnier makes gooier brownies, thicker makes cakier brownies). Bake in a 350 deg oven until dry and cracked on top (gooey) or until a toothpick comes out clean (cakey).

In other news, I'm adding a picture of some pictures.....that's right.... I was looking for some artwork to hang on a wall. Something simple. What I ended up doing was cutting two pieces out of scrapbooking paper and framing them in matching frames. It's a pretty simple way to get some elegant looking art up on your walls and scrapbooking patterns are pretty much infinite in styles and colours now.

I'm always intrigued by what people frame and put on their walls. If you have a great idea for easy art on your walls I'd love if you'd leave a comment. Anonymous comments are welcome.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why yes I DID get a bag of holding for Christmas!

I was showing the Buxton organizer off to the Significant Other, and he exclaimed that I'd recieved a bag of holding for Christmas! I thoroughly agree. The more I use it, the more I like it. It's like some kind of creepy symbiotic alien virus. It's stuck to me now and I'm not sure how to get it off. At any rate, it is kind of handy, if silly. (If you haven't already read it, which I'm sure all you dozens of fans have, you should check out my last post about the Buxton).

I haven't actually done much baking. The pretzels were such a downer. I did make a loaf of bread....it's almost gone already, so it's not very good for pictures. As for pictures today, I have two pictures courtesy of my DVD player. Strange, I know. Anyways, we here in my house are firm believers that the DVD player is ANGRY. It's mad at us. Seriously. If you don't believe me just check out the face it makes:

Can you see it? How about we try another colour?

Personally I find the red creepy.... This creepy image is my DVD player's screensaver, it's their logo, inside a colour-changing ball that bounces randomly around the screen. It took years before we realized it was a face. I almost wish we hadn't....every so often you forget....then suddenly it jumps right out at you!

Here's their mundane startup screen logo, for comparison:

Nothing weird there.....

In other news... I bought a $12 magazine last week. That's right. It was like that commercial "you got your bonus today AND IT'S ALREADY GONE!" The magazine supposedly has 350 holiday recipes in it. At first glance it sure looks like a lot of recipes, but at second glance it looks like most of them involve sweet potatoes. I intend to try many of them anyway.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Buxton experiment and soft pretzels

So I recieved some interesting gifts for Christmas this year. One of which was the "Buxton Organizer"....as seen on TV! I find infomercials hilarious, and have more than once giggled to myself over the Buxton Organizer. If you've never seen it, you should go hunt for one of the various versions of it on Youtube. Each version is basically variations on a woman stuffing a pile of items into a Buxton Organizer, exclaiming it's virtues the whole time. While I find the commercials hilarious, in theory the bag is a perfect fit for me. I tend to opt for less traditional or less girly purses. I carry a variety of strange things, and I can quite frequently be found with my pockets stuffed full of random items.
So, you'll understand why I simply HAD to see if all the things in the commercial actually does fit into the Buxton Organizer. I couldn't find the version of the commercial that they'd been showing, but after watching a dozen of them, it seems like they use the same items in every commercial with very slight differences (even the salesperson was the same in most of them). So we wrote down all the items in the commercials, found a version where we had all the items, and gathered them all up. This is the list of items:

2 500ml bottles of water
1 umbrella
1 mp3 player with ear buds
1 travel pack tissues
2 pairs sunglasses
3 pens
1 flashlight
1 cell phone
1 wallet
3 29ml hand cream
1 lip balm
6 credit cards
1 coupon

Following the commercial exactly, we put all the items, in order, in the pockets that the salesperson does. Much to our great surprise, everything DOES fit, exactly like they said it would, WITH ROOM TO SPARE! Shocking, totally shocking. Can't I count on TV to lie to me anymore? What IS this world coming to?
Anyway, I took photos of the bag, with all the stuff in it. It is a little bulky front to back....but if I ever needed all of this stuff at the same time, I would be thankful for it.
I dumped everything back out onto the table and took a picture of the whole lot. While I was staring at it on the table, I had an interesting thought. It seems like a lot, but when do I ever carry two bottles of water in my purse? Have I ever even tried that before? So, I gathered up a purse I bought for $2 at an outlet store. It's of average size for a purse, and made of corduroy. Surprise surprise it also can hold all the things on the list. Hmmm..... Well, the corduroy purse was more uncomfortable and awkward to carry, and there was certainly no more room for extra items.
Conclusion? I will definately use the Buxton Organizer! (I know, even I'm surprised). In fact, I've already used it to carry heat packs, dog treats and bottles of water to the dog park. It's certainly not going to win any beauty contests, and I don't advise packing all that much stuff into it unless you're using it to hold down a tarp during a violent thunderstorm. At least now I know the commercial isn't lying to me.

Today is also Soft Pretzel Day! Should be a holiday shouldn't it? Well, I made soft pretzels using this recipe. Turned out some good, but not extraordinary pretzels. Some tips for you if you attempt it. Do NOT flour your board when you're rolling them, flour will just make the dough slide instead of roll. Don't skip the boiling step, it makes the pretzels taste like pretzels. Personally I found it easier to roll the pretzels off the end of the roll of dough instead of cutting it into bits first.

If you're out there reading this, and you have a good pretzel recipe, please send it my way! While this one was functional, and good, it was not the taste I expected. The outsides weren't as crispy as I wanted them to be. I must be missing something...

Nappy New Yeas!

Today's title has been brought to you by Cake Wrecks! Absolutely my most favourite blog on the interweb. If you have never heard of it, you should go check it out. RIGHT NOW! GO!

Anyway, I hope everyone's New Years was fun and safe. Due to a fair amount of lovely alcoholic sparkling cider, I'm posting my pictures from yesterday today. Yesterday I had a craving to bake soft pretzels, I didn't have any yeast though, so pretzels will be later today or tomorrow. I ended up making low-fat cranberry mandarin oatmeal muffins. Oh they were tasty (and easy)....because I'm a cheater...... Anyway, they were made using a mix again (I promise the pretzels will be from scratch). I screwed up the first batch by adding twice as much water as the mix called for, so I had to run out and get a second bag of mix. To the mix I added 2 cups of fresh cranberries (thawed from frozen) with about a tablespoon of grated mandarin orange rind and a tablespoon of sugar (to counteract the cranberries). They turned out delicious and we've already demolished 6 of them by this morning. Luckily I made lots!

Today was take-down-the-christmas-tree-decorations day. Actually I dislike this job. I'd have the tree up all year long if I thought I could get away without dusting it. So three of today's pictures are from me playing around with the camera and the Christmas tree. Also is a picture I took while out at the park with the dog today, makes it look very cold out today....well..it certainly isn't warm out.
At least I've figured out how to add more pictures to my posts.

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