Monday, November 24, 2014

DIY Dress-up Organizer

 With three little girls, the dress-ups was bound to get out-of-control, right? I'd been through several different organizational set-ups but last year for Christmas, it was time to pull out all the stops and get it done. 
I knew what I wanted--something with a rod to hang up all the dresses and mermaid tails and tutus and such, and I wanted storage on the bottom for shoes, hats, doctor kits, jewelry, purses, etc. 

A quick google search gave us what we were looking for. Jess at Craftiness is not an Option came up with these great plans for building your own. Her tutorial is actually guest-posted on Ana White.

Strait-up and easy to follow, my husband had this put together in about an hour. Painting took a little more time due to the need of two coats and my last minute flourishes, but overall I couldn't believe how simple and quick it was to put together.

And look how much stuff it organizes!!!

Yay! I don't think I'm exagerating when I say how completely wonderful this has been. When we first had it, my 3-year-old couldn't really hang things up very well on her own, but now after a year of practicing, she is a pro and it stays fairly-well organized. When we clean up the toy room I can just tell them to organize the jewelry and hang things up and it's done. I love it. 

 Plus, there is no need to tear things apart looking for what they want. The girls can clearly see the dress-up clothes they want and pull them out easily.


 If you have a lot of dress-ups at your house, then I highly recommend this easy DIY project. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chocolate Pie: Black Bottom Pie Recipe

Mmmm, boy, I sure to like pie! 
I have always heard of Black Bottom Pie, but I must say I had never eaten it, until I recently made it. Yum-o! If you are a chocolate pie fan, then this is the pie for you!
I read up a bit on Black Bottom Pie and it appears that it was quite the sensation in the early half of the 20th century. People were crazy for it. In fact, Duncan Hines, author of America's trusted Adventures in Good Eating, wrote that Black Bottom Pie was "one of those marvelous creations that has somehow managed to keep its light under a bushel." (food timeline)
So true. I had thought of Black Bottom Pie as being kind of retro-dish--a recipe I can find in my grandmother's Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but not in any more recent ones. 

Well, all this made me think that it was time to revive it and give it a taste test. 
So I did. And it was marvelous.

I hosted our book club last month where we were discussing Edgar Allen Poe's works, so I thought this pie's dark bottom would fit perfectly.

The only problem was that my home-grown eggs have so much darker orange yolks, that the white creamy layer I had envisioned (and saw with my own eyes at my in-laws house when I made it for them with store-bought eggs) was no longer white but down-right yellow! Not fitting for my black-and-white theme. Alas, what trivial problems we face these days. Trivial it might have been, but it wouldn't work for me, so I unconventionally covered mine with whip cream as well. I've never met anyone who complained about a little extra whip cream.

Then, I covered the top with chocolate shavings. I bought the darkest chocolate I could find--I think it was 82% cocoa--melted it with a little butter, then let it harden again and used the vegetable peeler to make lots of lovely chocolate curls. 

My one other modification was with the crust. It seemed that graham cracker or gingersnap crusts were the traditional crust. I wanted to make sure my crust was dark, but I didn't want it to be so much darker than my chocolate filling, so I crushed about 2/3 gingersnaps and 1/3 Oreos for the crust. Perfection!

To make the pie, you first bake your cookie-crumb crust and let it cool (it did it a whole day in advance actually). Then you make a rich custard. Into half of the custard you melt some good chocolate and poor that into the pie crust as shown below. Then to the other half, you fold in whipped, sugared egg whites. And that's pretty much it. It was different than baking I was used to doing, but not difficult.

Know any chocolate pie lovers in your life? Show them you love them and whip them up a good Black Bottom Pie.
Or perhaps save it for something special like Thanksgiving? Christmas? Maybe even Valentine's Day?

Black Bottom Pie
Click here to print
2 c. fine gingersnap or gingersnap/Oreo crumbs
¼ c. softened butter


½ c. sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 c. milk, scalded
4 beaten egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
6-oz. semisweet chocolate

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ c. cold water
½ tsp. rum extract
4 egg whites
½ c. sugar
Whipped cream, optional
Chopped nuts, optional
Chocolate curls or shavings, optional

Prepare crust: Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix the cookie crumbs and butter together. Press into a buttered 9-inch pie pan. Bake for about 8 minutes. Cool.

Prepare Filling:

1. Combine ½ c. sugar and cornstarch. Slowly add milk to the egg yolks, then combine with the sugar/cornstarch mixture in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until the custard thickens and coats a spoon. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
2. In a medium bowl, place the semisweet chocolate. Pour 1 cup of the custard into the chocolate and stir until melted. Pour into the prepared pie crust; chill.
3. Meanwhile, soften the gelatin in the cold water. Add this to the remaining hot custard. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the rum extract. Chill until slightly thickened.
4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form then gradually add ½ cup sugar; beta until stiff peaks from. Fold in the custard-gelatin mixture. Chill until the mixture mounds well. Pile this over the chocolate layer. Chill until set.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Herminone's Cable and Eyelet Hat

One look in our coat closet and it becomes pretty obvious that I love to make hats. It's kind of ridiculous how many hats my kids have actually.
Well, I didn't have any hats! (unless you count my Where's Waldo hat from Halloween, which I don't.) So, I decided to knit something for myself. 
I combed through Ralvery and decided on Herminone's Cable and Eyelet Hat. I thought it was the perfect combination of beautiful, feminine, and warm. Thanks Jackie for figuring it out and for sharing it!

I love the top! Isn't it pretty how it comes together?

I followed the pattern exactly but added an extra cable twist so that it would be longer--4 twists rather than 3--as she suggested for adults. I knit on the loose side, so I stuck with the size 5 needles, and I think it fits my head perfectly. 

Yay! now I have a winter hat. 
I'm so bad about keeping my yarn information, and I know I have owned this particular yarn for over a year. That being said, I think that it is Mary Maxim Woodland yarn--or very similar too it at least. 

And thanks to my 7-year-old for taking pictures. :) 
Hope your ears are cozy this winter!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Tart

Alls that needs to be said for this post is YUM-O!
Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Tart -- an new favorite!

 What's not to love? 
This dessert has all the creamy goodness of good ol' pumpkin pie that we all know and love so much. 
But now it has a slightly fruity-tangy side to it with some added orange zest and fresh cranberries, plus a nutty crunch with the cranberry walnut topping. I thought my kids would be horrified at what I had done to one of their favorite desserts, but they were not in the least--the loved it!


Remember my mother's Pumpkin Party 2014
Well, she had not just a few pumpkins. So many pumpkins that we sent guests home with pumpkins, my kids sold pumpkins, and now we still have a decent amount of sugar pumpkins for our cooking pleasure. We've made a lot of pumpkin muffins and breads, but I decided it was time for a pie. 
I knew I wanted to try something different, so I went to my little binder full of magazine clips and printed recipes I had not yet tried but knew I wanted to. In the back of my mind I knew this cranberry version existed in there somewhere, and there it was!

 This recipe came from one of my favorite food blogs Good Life Eats. This is also where I got my pear butter recipe from, btw. As of late she doesn't post so many recipes....shame.

It's a great recipe though and I highly recommend you heading on over and getting it. 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Favorite Slow Cooker Soup: Pork Pozole

 It's that time of year again--soup season! 
I really enjoy soup, but especially when the weather starts turning cooler. All through the colder months of the year I try to make a soup a week. 

And who doesn't love a good slow cooker recipe? I love how it frees up time in the late afternoon--that crazy (loud) time (at least it's that way at our house it seems) is made much more enjoyable when dinner is already sitting in the slow cooker, and I'm not trying to cook, help with homework, entertain youngsters, feed little ones just enough to stop their whining but not so much to spoil their appetites, etc. 

Anyway, love soups. Love slow cookers, and this is my favorite slow cooker soup recipe. 

Pork Pozole! 
So yummy!

Pork Pozole
click here to print

1   can (15 ounces) yellow or white hominy, drained
1   can (14.5 ounces) Mexican-style diced tomatoes
1   can (10 ounces) mild green enchilada sauce
1   large onion, chopped
3   cloves garlic, minced
2   teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2  pounds boneless pork loin
1/2  cup chopped cilantro
1   tablespoon lime juice
 Baked tortilla chips
 Diced avocado and lime wedges, optional

  1. Combine the hominy, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, garlic, and cumin in a 4-quart slow cooker. Top with pork, spooning hominy mixture over the meat. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

  1. Place pork on a cutting board. Add cilantro and lime juice to the slow cooker. Coarsely chop pork; return to cooker, and stir well. Spoon into shallow bowls. Serve with tortilla chips, and if your family is a fan of avocado and lime wedges, include them too.