Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July Weekend!

Wow, this was a really fun weekend. I am so full of barbecued food and treats that I can hardly move. The star of my weekend was really this pie though.

4th of July 1

I wanted to make a blueberry pie, and did a little hunting on the internet for a recipe. I love reading other people's blogs because they talk about the recipes they make and tell you what went wrong. So based on those opinions, I figured out that Cook's Illustrated had a really good recipe that wouldn't have a runny filling, thanks to the inclusion of a shredded Granny Smith apple in the mixture. When the pie bakes, the pectin in the apple cooks out and helps the filling thicken up. Half the blueberries are also mashed and cooked down on the stovetop before filling the pie, and that also helps remove some of the moisture from the filling. It really worked! The filling was fantastic and even after the leftovers sat in the fridge overnight, not a single berry oozed out into the pie plate.

4th of July 3

The crust recipe was also from Cook's Illustrated, and it called for 1/4 cup of ice cold vodka. The theory is that while it cooks, the vodka evaporates leaving flaky layers. The crust was really good too, although sticky and a little hard to work with. I'd use it again and just chill chill chill between rolling it out and then trying to move it to the pie plate.

4th of July 4

I also made these Dixie Bars. I'm not sure what the name means, but they taste almost like home made Twix. The bottom layer is a shortbread, then a layer of caramel with nuts, and then finished with chocolate. Cut these bars really bite sized!! A little tiny taste goes a very long way.

Dixie Bars
I found the recipe here

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 can sweetened condensed milk (300 mL)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 cup pecan pieces

4 squares semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp butter
24 pecan halves (optional)

Heat oven to 350 F.

Combine flour and sugar; cut in butter to form soft dough. Press evenly into an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden.

Combine milk, sugar, butter and corn syrup in heavy saucepan, cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat and boil for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly or until mixture thickens slightly and turns a caramel colour. Remove from heat; stir in pecan pieces. Spread evenly over base. Chill.

Partially melt chocolate with butter over low heat. Remove from heat and continue stirring until completely melted. Spread over caramel layer. Garnish with pecan halves.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Family Visit and Potluck Designs

I've been loving my summer vacation so far and even though camp started it still feels like I'm on vacation. Charlie's parents are on vacation too, all over Europe! They stopped off in Bayonne for a day before leaving and Charlie's brother came over to see them too.

Mami cooked us dinner and I helped.

We had party chicken, mashed potatoes, salad with strawberries and bleu cheese, and dinner rolls. For dessert, we had vanilla and caramel ice cream with strawberries and fresh made whipped cream! It was really good and we all had a fun time together.

I also learned about Panko breadcrumbs. They made the baked chicken so crispy and crunchy, like it was fried!

I've been busy making business cards and hang tags for my blankets.

It was a pain because the templates didn't line up right with the sheets of paper! I saw that the pack of business cards I bought got terrible reviews online because of the bad template so I had to improvise. Charlie helped me create a template of my own and it actually worked with a little tweaking. For the hang tags, I bought clear stickers to print on and white tags on a string. We folded the sticker in half wrapping the hang tag so it's double sided. The hang tags were even more of a pain because the printer kept feeding the sheets through differently so it was hit or miss. I definitely do NOT recommend Avery double sided business cards or clear labels!

The ribbon I ordered came the other day so all I need now are the gift boxes. I ordered some from ULINE, brown craft boxes that were the perfect size. The only problem was they smelled like vomit. They stunk up my craft room! So I returned them and I'm nervous to buy boxes online again.

Heres a picture of the latest blanket I made. It was a custom order for a friend. It's all jazzed up with my ribbon and hang tag. The hang tag has my logo on the front and care instructions and my etsy address on the back.

I'm working on a new blanket too, its white with rows of little purple flowers. I love to crochet!!

I haven't seen Rachel since last weekend. I don't even think I've talked to her all week!!! We haven't done PLC in so long. I know she is working on some kind of quilted lap top carry case. I hope she posts a blog about that! I want to see how its coming along.