crafting is sanity

DIY or die.

Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Coconut Bars (Samoa Bars)

Although it’s not officially Spring yet, we did just “spring” forward for Daylight Savings Time! And it’s Girl Scout cookie season, yay! Although Girl Scout cookies are delicious, my favorites are the Lemonades and Tagalongs – their Samoas seem to be one of the most popular ones! So this month, I tried two different Samoa Bar recipes – one definitely turned out better than the other. I tried this Martha Stewart recipe, and although it was yummy, it didn’t quite capture the flavor of a Samoa.

IMG_1045Start with your ingredients:

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Yes, yes I know this looks like an advertisement for generic brands, but I’m a big believer in generic brands! :D The recipe calls for a 15×10 inch rimmed pan, but I don’t have one and after reading the comments on the original post, I decided to use a 9×13 inch pan and it worked great!

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Make the base using graham cracker crumbs (I used one sleeve of crackers), sugar and butter. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Let the cookie base cool before adding toppings. So this is where I started diverging from the recipe a little, haha :)

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Crunch the pecans into smaller pieces and toast them in a pan while the crust is baking. Once the crust has cooled, drizzled some condensed milk so the toppings have something to stick to.

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Then start adding the pecans and chocolate chips. Please excuse the crappy iPhone pics, my camera was out of battery :(

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I actually did two rounds of pecans and chocolate chips and then I drizzled more condensed milk over that. then top with some coconut flakes:

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Stick back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the coconut has toasted.

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I cut them into rectangular bars at work, but then they ended up being too big so I cut them into squares.

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Although this recipe was relatively easy (except for the stickiness of the condensed milk), it didn’t really taste like a Samoa to me. There wasn’t that caramel-y flavor and the coconut wasn’t very incorporated with the bar, so it made for some messy eating, whoops! I wish the toppings had come together a little better. I do like the second Samoa bar recipe I tried much better so stay tuned for that post later this month!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Valentine’s Day Pretzel Hugs & Kisses

Happy (super belated) Valentine’s Day!! I decided to make pretzel hugs and kisses for Valentine’s Day this year and I’ve made them before for Christmas so these treats work for any holiday that has color themed M&Ms :)

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Start with your ingredients – square pretzels (they’re called snaps), Hershey’s hugs and kisses, and M&Ms.

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I actually bought the kisses after I made the hugs batch :P Spread the pretzels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place a hug or kiss on top.

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Put them into a 200 degree oven for 4-6 minutes. The hugs get softer much quicker than the kisses – they take about 4-5 minutes. The kisses took about 6-7 minutes. Once they’re soft and shiny (but still holding their shape!) take them out of the oven and place and M&M on top.

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I use a chopstick to press the M&M down but when the chocolate isn’t ready, you end up with something like this…

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Whoops. It’s still edible and delicious of course, but not as pretty if you’re giving them away. You put it back into the oven and kinda save it or you can leave it and eat it yourself :) Once you get the hang of it, I do it assembly line style to get the whole tray done.

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I stick them in the fridge for a few minutes to cool them down quickly. Then I transfer them to a cooling rack so I can reuse the cookie sheet to make more. Once they’re completely cooled, you can store them in a container to bring to work like I did!

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The salty sweet combination is so addicting! And because they’re so little, it’s really hard to stop at just one… :P

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Yummy!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Turkey Kielbasa Hash

Another super belated post! This one is from a Christmas potluck-get together my friends and I had last year :)

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Yummy! Start with your ingredients:

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A couple of potatoes, red, green and yellow bell pepper, an onion and turkey kielbasa! I used this recipe and was very happy with the way it turned out!

Peel and dice the potatoes and start them in a big pan. I seasoned with salt, pepper, seasoned salt, garlic powder and onion powder. Not too heavy-handed or else it will be too salty.

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Cook the potatoes until they’re golden brown and soft on the inside – and when they smell really good! While the potatoes are cooking, start the kielbasa in another pan until the pieces are brown and yummy smelling too.

IMG_1054Once the kielbasa is done, take them out of the skillet and set aside. Start the bell peppers and onions in the pan.

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Pretty colors!

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Stir fry the peppers and onions until they’re soft, then add the kielbasa and potatoes into the pan.

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Serve hot! Very delicious and easy to make! The recipe makes a lot of food, so it was perfect for the potluck :)

Happy cooking~!

-Yenny

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Dragonfruit Lychee Smoothie

So my ┬ámom grows a TON of dragonfruit in her yard, and I get a bunch every time they’re in season! I usually give some away since I can’t eat it all but this time I decided to make a smoothie!

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I just blended the dragonfruit together with a can of lychees I had in my fridge.

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Isn’t that beautiful? I like to peel the dragonfruit skin off since you don’t waste any of the fruit that way. So cut into quarters and just peeeeel it off!

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This is how I also peel avocados :D

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Open up the lychees – I buy the kind that’s packed in syrup, which comes in handy for a smoothie!

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My immersion blender came with this handy blending cup, so I dumped all the dragonfruit chunks in, then the lychees, and then I added some of the syrup and some water so it wouldn’t be too sweet. Then blend away!

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That made plenty of smoothie for me to drink and it was yummy! Sweet and refreshing – I drank it throughout the day :)

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Easy, quick and pretty healthy! You can even omit the lychee syrup and use water or soy milk.

Enjoy!

-Yenny

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DIY Hello Kitty Bow Headband

HAPPY (belated) NEW YEAR!! Wow, 2014 sure went by quickly and I’m so looking forward to what 2015 will bring! I’m a bit behind in my posts so this one is actually from November during Hello Kitty Con in LA! The first ever Hello Kitty Convention and it was right in my city! My friend Melissa and I got our passes and as we were figuring out what to wear and when we decided to make bow headbands! Buying the headbands ranged from $25-$40 so we were not willing to pay that much. She sent me instructions to make the headbands (which I can’t find the link for anymore…) So here goes!

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I made a paper template to see what size i wanted my bow, and then I made a practice bow before I made the real one! Super cute, right? :D

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Put the paper template on top of the felt, and then carefully cut around it to get this shape:

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Like a rounded rectangle!

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Pinch the felt in the middle and make sure your pleats are even and you make the number of pleats you want.

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Cut a small piece of felt for the middle part, carefully wrap it around the middle without loosening the pleats and hot glue the ends together. Don’t make it too tight, a little wiggle room can help with any adjustments needed!

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Lastly, slide a thing headband into the loop and voila~! You’ve got your very own Hello Kitty bow headband!

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Here we are with our bows at Hello Kitty Con! It was very fun but SO crowded and SO tiring!! So glad our bow headbands turned out so well! We did buy black headbands so it would blend more with our hair :)

Project Breakdown:

– red felt (one square) – 33 cents

– headbands (multi-pack) – approximately $5

Total: approximately $5! So much cuter and cheaper than buying the pre-made ones! AND we can use the headbands on their own as well!

Happy crafting!

-Yenny

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Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake

It was my friend Kim’s birthday in October and I baked her a Chocolate Raspberry Bundt cake for for birthday dinner! I really wanted to use my new Nordicware Fleur de Lis Bundt Pan so I scoured Pinterest for bundt cake recipes until I found one I liked. I made some slight moderations to the original recipe, but for the most part it stayed the same :)

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Start with your ingredients:

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In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing after each, and stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping down the bowl as needed.

I always reduce the amount of sugar I use and instead of buying buttermilk (I can never use the whole carton) I buy regular milk and make buttermilk by adding lemon juice to curdle it. Grease and flour your bundt pan WELL so your cake doesn’t get stuck inside. Since the pan is pretty ornate, I was super careful to spray and flour all the nooks and crannies.

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It was only after I baked my cake that I realized I had OVERgreased and floured the pan :( Anyways, add a little batter, make sure it gets into the tips of the designs.

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The original recipe doesn’t call for raspberries in the middle of the cake, but I decided to chop some up and sprinkle them in

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Then I scooped more batter, another layer of chopped raspberries and then the final layer of batter.

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Then I popped it into the oven to bake! I put it in for 55 minutes and I think my cake was a little dry, I probably would take this out at 48-50 minutes (or even less) because the carryover heat will continue to bake it. In the meantime, I really wanted to make a raspberry syrup for the cake. I decided to use raspberry jam but I couldn’t find seedless jam so I had to STRAIN it to get it how I wanted it. I don’t recommend this lol.

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I made about a cup of the syrup before I got tired and gave up :P Time to take the cake out of the oven!

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Definitely puffed up! I pushed this as flat as I could before flipping it over. Cake came out very smoothly BUT

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Do you see how the edges are yellow? THAT is too much butter and flour! Lesson learned – don’t go overboard with the cooking spray hahaha

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Spoon the syrup over the cake. After doing this, I thought it kinda looked like blood… so I added fresh raspberries and some powdered sugar to make it look prettier!

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I’m MUCH happier with the way this looks!

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All lit up for the birthday girl!

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Happy birthday Kim!

Kim also has a really awesome food blog and is a MUCH better baker than I am! Go check out her recipes!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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DIY Christmas Wreath

It’s that time of year again! I feel like Christmas decorations start appearing in stores earlier and earlier every year! I saw Christmas stuff while I was shopping for my Halloween decorations! Yeesh. Anyways, this year I hung up my wreath on November 30th, right after Thanksgiving festivities were over :)

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I reused the red ribbon and green wreath-y part from last year and bought some new decorations at the 99cents store.

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I left the ribbon as is and tied the bell in the middle. The bows are on twist ties! Super easy to attach to the wreath :)

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I didn’t use all four bows because I thought it would look too crazy, so I just twist tied two of them on -

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Super easy and cute!

This project only cost me $2 in new supplies, the rest were reused from last year! I try to keep all my seasonal decorations if they’re in good condition so I don’t have to buy new stuff every year. More cost saving that way!

Happy crafting!

-Yenny

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DIY Buzz Lightyear Wings

So this year for Halloween, I was Buzz Lightyear!! And boy I had SO MUCH fun making the wings and putting the whole costume together! :D

To infinity and beyond!

To infinity and beyond!

It was so much fun to dress up for work and all my coworkers loved it too! I only made the gloves and wings for the costume, everything else was bought. For the wings, I got this giant CB2 box from my friend –

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And then I stared at many reference images of Buzz’s jetpack on Google images. I sketched out the rough shape and cut them out with an Exacto knife.

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I cut out one wing, then flipped it over and traced it onto another piece of cardboard so both sides would match.

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Then I binder clipped the pieces together to see how they looked. I ended up cutting the center piece two more times to make it smaller because it was kinda looking like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shell. I shortened the wings too.

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Now the fun part! Spray painting! :) I sprayed both sides with Kilz No Odor Primer in white. Set up your spray station – I propped each piece on top of the caps of the spray paint bottles I had.

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I did two light coats on both sides and made sure to cover up the CB2 logo and I made sure to spray the edges too. Once the pieces are dry – shouldn’t take more than an hour – I drew Buzz’s jetpack design onto the wings.

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The design isn’t very difficult and I traced very lightly. Then start painting! I did 2-3 coats of each color to get the coverage I wanted.

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Don’t forget the edges!

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Ta da!!! I’m so proud of these wings! They look pretty darn good for being cardboard and they weren’t too difficult to wear at work. I did have to make sure that I had room to walk and turn around though – or I ended up taking them off and on as needed.

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I hot glued 1 inch wide elastic to make straps so I could wear them and the elastic provides a little give in case someone walks into your wings (which happened a lot lol)

The gloves were super easy too! I bought 2 squares of white felt and sewed it into a tube, then flipped it inside out so the stitches didn’t show. I left the upper part open so I had more movement.

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Cut a wide strip of lime green felt and sew that onto the open ended part (which will cover the opening)

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Then cut a rounded corner rectangular shape in the green and a thin strip of purple to finish off the gloves. I have no pictures of this process but it shouldn’t be too difficult!

Project Breakdown:

– Cardboard box – free!

– Spray primer. hot glue gun, Exacto knife – free, already owned

– Various paints – 50 cents each, $2.oo total

– Elastic – approximately $1

– Gloves – approximately $1

As you can see, the DIY portions of the costume are very cheap! The Buzz Lightyear tank dress was $25.oo from Spirit, I bought a purple headband ($1), long sleeved white t-shirt ($6), white knee high socks ($3) and white sneakers ($10). So the total cost for the whole costume is about $45-$48 BUT the headband, white t-shirt, socks and sneakers are all re-wearable! Not too shabby at all! :)

Hope everyone all had a great Halloween!

-Yenny

 

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Mummy Hotdogs

Happy November! And happy daylight savings time! We all “fell back” last night/this morning and now I guess I have to admit that winter will eventually be here…if it ever gets cold lol. Halloween just passed and I’m a fan of Halloween – the costumes, the parties, the candy and this year, the Halloween potluck my friends and I decided to do!

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I made mummy hotdogs! I’m sure you’ve seen this recipe floating around Pinterest but bear with me :). Gather your ingredients – hot dogs (I chose turkey dogs) and crescent dough.

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Unroll the crescent dough and cut into thin strips. I was in a crazy rush because I was running super late to the potluck so this picture is kinda blurry lol. Sorry!

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Wrap each hot dog in the strips until you’re happy with the way each “mummy” looks.

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Follow the baking instructions on the crescent dough can – I did mine at 350 degrees for 16 minutes.

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They’re a little light (and were a little underdone) so my next batch I added 2 extra minutes. I also rolled the remaining dough into crescents haha

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A lot more golden! I think they turned out pretty well – I didn’t have time to dot mustard eyes on them, so they don’t look very scary but here are some of the other dishes we had!

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Meatloaf hand!

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Witch finger cookies!

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Creepy red velvet cake from Porto’s!

Hope everyone had a happy Halloween!

-Yenny

 

 

 

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Summer Vegetable Tian

It’s finally starting to cool down and feel like fall! Even I have to admit it now, especially since I started dragging out extra blankets to snuggle into on these gloomy days =/. My friends and I had an Oktoberfest themed potluck this past weekend, and in my attempt to cling to summer, i decided to make this summer vegetable tian (I don’t know why its called that)

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I adapted the recipe to fit more my taste buds and it turned out really yummy! Start with your ingredients: 1 zucchini, 1 squash, 1 potato, 1 onion, 2 tomatoes, minced garlic and cheese.

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I don’t have a mandolin (and I would be too scared to use it), so I just sliced my veggies thinly and as evenly as I could.

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Dice the onion and saute in a pan with the garlic. I only used half an onion and that was the perfect amount the cover the bottom of my baking dish.

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Then the fun part! Start arranging your veggies in three rows, I did the rows simultaneously and just went according to color and making it look pretty lol.

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Then season your dish GENEROUSLY! I used salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder and made sure to get them around the edges too.

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Then cover with foil and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes. After the first round of baking, uncover the dish and sprinkle with cheese. Then stick back into the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes. I very lightly sprinkled cheese because I wanted to keep the dish healthier and I’m also lactose intolerant lol.

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All done!

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After it was done baking, there was a lot of liquid at the bottom of the dish, so I VERY VERY carefully tipped the dish over the sink to drain some of the liquid away. I left some in for flavor. And it turned out the be quite the hit at the potluck! Healthy and yummy! The most time consuming part is the prep :)

Happy cooking!

-Yenny

 

 

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