Tag Archives: homemade

Apple Pie Perfection

8 Feb

Sarah’s 18th birthday is today!!! How did the time go so quickly? I think it went quickly because she has been so much fun. She likes to bake and craft, so of course we had to make a special treat to take to school. Sarah has IB Calculus first block and it is a small class with a great teacher–not just because she let’s the girls bring in goodies, but she loves math and helps the girls love math too (it is an all girls school in case you were worried about the boys being ignored.) I linked this up over at Hollie Rogue’s Photo Friday link up party. It is a great place to see and be seen. click on over there to see what’s new.

So what should we make? One of Sarah’s favorite desserts that I make is an apple custard tart. I’ll definitely be making that for the blog sometime, but we have been seeing these adorable apple pies baked in the apple on Pinterest. We saw one at Testado, Provado e Aprovado , it looked both easy and wonderful, so I only changed it a little. Our test Pie was delicious, even though it broke open. I think we carved the inside out a little too much. Here is our version:

Pie crust: adapted from the kitchenaid manual.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shortening –I use coconut oil, which is solid instead of Crisco solid.
1/3 cup  cold  salted butter
5 or 6 Tbs. cold water, add a very little bit more if the dough won’t hold together.

Put all ingredients except water in bowl. With either the paddle attachment on the kitchen aid, or a pastry cutter, cut shortening into flour until it is  like crumbly pea gravel. Then slowly add water and blend until the dough just holds together. Gather it in a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge to chill.

Now cut the tops off the apples, not too far down. Cut the apple top up and peel the skin off those pieces. Now leaving the apple skin intact with about 1/4″ of apple left to give it some strength. First cut out the core, throw out the core pieces, and save the rest. We sprinkled lemon mixed with a little water on the apple pieces to keep the brown down. Make sure your apple pieces are cut up into small pieces. You will have more apple than you need, so don’t worry about doing it perfectly.

Mix in a bowl, not with apple yet:–for 8 apples, obviously less for fewer more for more!

1/2 cup sugar –I like raw sugar it has more flavor.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1  tsp vanilla

In a small bowl put a heaping 1/2 cup of apple bits and 2 Tbs. of the sugar flour mix. Mix them until the apple is completely covered. Put the coated apples in one of the hollowed out apples, add some bits of butter on top about 1/2 Tbs per apple. Repeat with the other apples and set aside while you roll out the pie crust dough. Pre-heat the oven to 375*


Separate the dough into two pieces, on a floured surface roll out half the dough until it is about 1/8″+ thick. Try to roll and handle the dough as little as possible, so that it stay flaky. We used a circular plastic container that was about 5″ in diameter as a cookie cutter, cut out as many tops as you can with the first batch of dough. Add the leftover dough to the second half, and roll it out again and cut out the rest of your tops.


The tops need a small vent to let steam escape. We use a mini flower cookie cutter and then put the scrap back on the crust as decoration. Put the tops on the apples, don’t worry about pressing them in place they will naturally fold around the top as they bake.

Bake for about 40 minutes, when the crust looks golden brown in a bubbling syrup they are done. Let them cool for at least ten minutes  before serving.


I Love You–Pink Marshmallows

31 Jan

For Emma Kate’s 5th Birthday—this recipe is for you!!! These are the best gourmet marshmallow ever, ever, ever, really they are that good. I promise. Hollie Rogue has a fun photo contest on Fridays, there are lots of fun pictures over on her site.

I Love You--Pink Marshmallows, the best marshmallows of all time!

Marshmallows became a fixation for me when my sister made an amazing sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner topped with homemade marshmallows. They taste better and have more character than store bought marshmallows. I developed marshmallow envy. Even when something is really good, I have to make it better. So how does one make something as simple and sinfully sweet as marshmallows better? Well, my first rule for great cooking. Rule #1–Always use the best ingredients available. Actually, use better ingredients than the recipe calls for!

Start with a good basic recipe and add to or modify it to suit your tastes. Pinterest, my new addiction, had some beautiful homemade marshmallow pictures and recipes. I started with this “Baking Bites” recipe. There are three main ingredients, gelatin, sugar and corn syrup, plus water, salt and vanilla. 1st try, I decided that I would add some butter, because rice crispy treats have butter and they taste better. This was an epic fail, not so much because of the butter, but because I failed to notice that my box of Knox gelatin was past its “use by” date. It made the marshmallow smell slightly off—hello, garbage can. I also worried that the butter made the marshmallows too runny.

Second try, marshmallows are just sweet, but just sweet isn’t good enough. Sweet plus some flavor is better. Back to Rule #1, what ingredients could be better? How about honey, clover honey is very mild but it has a distinct flavor. If you prefer one of the stronger flavors, that should work equally well. And raw sugar has slightly more flavor than white sugar. Also, adding more salt balances the sweetness of the sugar. Vanilla pairs well with cinnamon, and cardamom, so a little of those will add the final touch without overwhelming the soft sweetness of marshmallow. And since it is my niece, Emma Kate’s 5th birthday and valentine’s day is just around the corner, they need to be pink; so you definitely need to add some food color. Below is the new and improved “I love you—pink marshmallows.”

In the bowl of a stand mixer add,

½ cup cold water
3 packets Knox gelatin (0.25 oz. each)—sprinkle on top of water

Allow the water and gelatin to gel for about 10 minutes.

In a 2 quart sauce pan add,

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup honey
¼ cup water

Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Keep it at a full boil for one full minute—I had to take the honey mixture off the burner to keep it from boiling over, when I made this with corn syrup it didn’t boil over. While still boiling, pour it over the gelatin. Using the whisk attachment, whisk on high for 7 minutes. It should become opaque and very fluffy.

Fluffy Pink and wonderful--Keep mixing


1Tbs. Vanilla—real vanilla!
1tsp salt—sea salt is very good!
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp cardamom
and food coloring if you want them colored—6 or 7 drops to get good pink

Continue to beat on high for another 7 minutes.

While your mixer is working and you are waiting, lightly but completely oil two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper on one side. They should be big enough to cover a 10”x15” cookie sheet. Place one in the bottom of your baking sheet, leave the other out. When your marshmallows have been totally whipped, pour the mixture onto your cookie sheet spread it out with a spatula which has been wiped down with oil. Cover with the second sheet of oiled plastic and let them set for 4 hours or overnight.

Smooth marshmallow out evenly on the cookie sheet with a spatula

When thoroughly set, turn the marshmallow out onto a cutting board. You my cut them with a lightly oiled pizza cutter or cookie cutters—maybe a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Dust well with powdered sugar, and enjoy!

Pink Marshmallows cut into bite size morsels and covered in Powdered sugar

You Too Can Chan Luu: How to Make a Beaded Leather Bracelet

8 Jan

These beaded leather bracelets are all the rage, while they take time to make—about an hour per row of beads. It is not that complicated. If you follow the step by step instructions below, you can make one this week.

You need 2 pieces of leather or ultra-suede lacing, each approximately 30” long. (2mm diameter leather)

Onto a metal button thread one of the lengths of leather, slide the button up until it is in the middle of the leather.

Secure this on your board with a clip and or straight pin.

Place the other length—also folded in half—behind and just below the button, secure with a straight pin.

You now have four 15” long strands of leather cord. You will braid these just over an inch.

Cross the left outside leather over the strand just to the inside.

Now cross the right outside strand over the next 2 inside strands. Repeat these steps, approximately, 5 times. Until you have braided about 1 inch. Secure with a straight pin.

Make sure your needle and thread fits easily through your chosen beads TWICE. There are a number of different threads and silk beading cords you can use,* NOTE—many stone beads have very small openings. There are also many needle options, there are even wire needles whose eye will collapse as it passes through the bead. You need a couple of needles. It is not uncommon to break a needle. Also, pliers can help you pull a needle through a tight bead hole.


There are 2 main methods I use.

If you are using a 2mm round leather cord, you will be wrapping your thread or Beading cord around the leather cord. For this method a thicker silk cord gives the most professional look.  (I have used the blue ultra-suede because it is easier to see than black or dark brown leather)

Secure your thread/cord with a knot around the middle 2 leather cords. Keep the knot on the back side of your bracelet. Add a small dot of glue to secure it.


The pattern is to come up from the bottom, around the outside of the far left leather cord.  Sew through your bead, under the next leather cord, around the outside and back up then through the same bead a second time, ending with the cord below the outside leather. This forms a figure eight with the leather cords inside either loop and the bead around the middle. Repeat until you have about 4” of beads. Then repeat between the next 2nd and 3rd strands, and then, the 3rd and 4th strands.

                                                  The picture below is to show you the path the string will take, making figure eights between the leather cords         with the bead where they cross in the middle

Braid your ends 2 times using the same method you used for the beginning of the bracelet. Tie off with this knot—take one of your leather strands, wrap it 360*(degrees) around the other leather, tuck the end through from the top and pull tight. This will have all three strands pointing down. Place your finger between the strands, 2 above and 2 below, knot again with the same knot used above, repeat with a second knot using a different strand. Add a dot of glue before pulling the knot tight.

If you are using a flat ultra-suede cord, you will be sewing through the cording. A thinner thread and sharper needle will be better for this. Also, pliers can help you pull a needle through many layers of ultra-suede.

Knot the end of your thread. Sew up through the middle 2 strands at the end of the braid.

Now your needle is on the far left. Add a bead and start your first row. You will have one bead between each strand of leather, plus beads on the outside row if you choose. Press the needle barely through the first strand, add a bead. Press it barely through the next strand, add the middle bead. Press it barely through the next strand and add the last interior bead for that row. Press it through the far right outside strand and add another bead. Stitch down to start the next row.

This will create rows of beads instead of columns as the method above does. You also will have—if you choose—beads on the outside edges of bracelet. You are only sewing through each bead once with this method. So it is a little faster; it is not quite as strong.  

To tie off, use the same method as above.

You’re done!

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