Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ideas To Celebrate The New Year

 happy new year

I've been swamped with a very tricky escrow on a new home. (Don't worry. If we get the house, I'll dig up my lemon tree and take it with me).  Due to my current hectic schedule, today's post will be kinda a recap quickie of previous posts.  Click on the links below for some fun ideas to celebrate the New Year.

1. My favorite Ideas To Ring In The New Year.

2. Three Crowd Pleasin' Party Dips sure to be a hit at an New Year party.

3. Happy New Year Frog Cookies


~The Lemonista

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

In my quest to come up with a fun treat to bring to my kids holiday classroom parties, I came across these darling Hot Cocoa Cupcakes on Days of Chalk and Chocolate blog. As soon as my eyes hit the screen, I knew these were perfect.  Here's my tutorial on how to make these simple yet fabulous cupcakes.  Thanks to Jenny for the amazing idea!

You will need:

1. Bake your cupcakes according to the instructions on the box. I baked the cupcakes in Reynolds foil cupcake liners to look like little tin mugs.*grin*

2. Using a Bakery Crafts #9P tip (which is basically just a big plain round circle) I piped white icing/ whipped frosting on the top of the cupcake to look like a dollop of whipped cream. Leave some of the chocolate cake exposed around the edge so you can see some hot cocoa ;-) You could also try dolloping on the frosting with a spoon or filling a ziploc bag with frosting, snipping off the corner and decorating that way.

3. Sprinkle on some hot cocoa mix or cocoa powder.

4. Add three mini marshmallows.

5. Hook a mini candy cane into the side of the cupcake to look like a handle.
*Hint. Some of my candy canes were a little long and I trimmed the tail with a sharp knife.

That's it! Here they are all boxed up and ready to go to the kids schools.


~The Lemonista

Featured at:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Salted Caramel Bars & Other Salted Holiday Treats

Who doesn't love the irresistible combination of salty and sweet? 

Ever try a salted chocolate chip cookie?

It's Heaven. Next time you make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, try adding flaked sea salt as a finishing touch.  It will knock your socks off.

Honestly, the delightful addition of flaked sea salt to baked goods has been my favorite trend in desserts. However, when making salted treats, it's very important to use the right kind of salt. Do not use regular table salt to guild your goodies. Just the thought of biting into that makes me twitch like Bugs Bunny. It is important to use a good quality flaked sea salt, such as this Murray River - Pink Flake Salt purchased at Saltworks for $6. This light and delicate flaked salt has a wonderfully mild flavor.
*As a little side note, this salt would make a fantastic stocking stuffer. *wink*

On the top of my euphoric salty treats is any kind of handmade salted caramel. I wanted to share this amazing flavor combination in my holiday cookie exchanges, but I didn't want to mess with candy wrappers.  Plus, if salted caramel was going to work for a holiday cookie exchange, it needed to be, well, more like a cookie.  So after snooping around the Internet to see what recipes I could dig up and putting together one of my own, here are a couple I plan to make and salt this holiday season.

First up, these fabulous Salted Caramel Bars by Gaby Dalkin. Don't these just make your mouth water! I used Gaby's crust recipe in a batch of light caramel bars I made.

Next up, these Millionaire's Shortbread Bars by Stephanie Jaworski are just a beggin' for some salty goodness. Even without the seas salt these look down right sinful.

I have an old fashioned creamy caramel recipe that I love, so I decided to whip together my own batch of Salted Caramel Bars.  I used Gaby's crust recipe linked above and then poured my light caramel over the top.  You cannot go wrong with Gaby's wonderful brown sugar caramel but if you like a lighter caramel, then feel free to give mine a try.

A basic candy thermometer will work fine for this recipe.  I picked one up for $2 at the grocery store.

Put sugar, salt and syrup into a heavy pan.

Using a candy thermometer, heat to 245 degrees, stirring occasionally.

Gradually add butter and milk so slowly that boiling doesn't stop.

Cook rapidly with constant stirring to 243 degrees (do not go over). I paused from stirring here to take a photo and ended up with some darker caramelized flecks in my caramel. Still tastes great but let this be a lesson to keep that spoon movin'.

Remove from heat. Add vanilla

and pour over crust.

Allow caramel to cool.

Sprinkle with desired amount of flaked sea salt.

Cut into desired size squares or bars and serve.

Salted Caramel Bars

Shortbread Cookie Crust
I used Gaby's crust recipe in this Salted Caramel Bar link.

Caramel Filling
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Flaked sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Grease/butter a 9 x 9 inch pan and line with parchment paper, allowing the paper to come up over the sides.

FOR SHORTBREAD: Prepare and bake your crust. I made the crust in Gaby's recipe. Please see this link for instructions.

FOR CARAMEL FILLING: Put sugar, salt and syrup into a heavy pan.  Using a candy thermometer, heat to 245 degrees, stirring occasionally.  Gradually add butter and milk so slowly that boiling doesn't stop.  Cook rapidly with constant stirring to 243 degrees (do not go over). Remove from heat. Add vanilla and pour over crust.  Allow caramel to cool.

TOPPING: Sprinkle with desired amount of flaked sea salt.  Cut into desired size squares or bars and serve.


~The Lemonista

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey Leftovers

How many of you remember this commercial from 1986? I know I'll never forget it. My sister and I irritated my mother by singing, "flaming turkey wings," at every meal we were served leftovers. Kudos to Pizza Hut for making such a memorable advertisement.  And while Pizza Hut probably will be on my post Thanksgiving menu this year, it wouldn't be the holiday weekend without some entrĂ©es whipped up with good ol' turkey leftovers. Here's what I've got planned to gobble up the rest of our Tom:

Leave it to PW to come up with a turkey casserole that includes bacon, cream cheese and shredded cheese!  I mean, Dang, Girl, this casserole looks so mouth watering I'm tempted to skip the traditional Thanksgiving turkey all together and make this instead! Yum!

Turkey Focaccia Bread Sandwich w/ Roasted Garlic Mayo by Moi

Gosh, I feel outta-my-league posting one of my recipes after PW, but in case you missed this tasty sandwich when I blogged it back in June, give it a peak now.  It's worthy of your Thanksgiving turkey--I promise.

So that's it.  After three turkey meals (well, maybe four), I'll have hit my turkey threshold and be ready to move on to pizza. *grin*

Have a fabulous holiday and please feel free to link your favorite leftover turkey meal in the comments.  I'm always looking for new recipes. Well, ones that don't involve lighting turkey wings on fire.

~The Lemonista

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mason Jar Snow Globes & Terrariums Tutorial ~ Holiday Repurposing

I've always loved antique Mason jars and I've found so many uses for them. They are wonderful for repurposing projects and in 2010 Country Living Magazine had a great tutorial to convert them into a super cute soap dispenser.
 Mason jar soap

But when I began seeing them in magazines this year as Holiday decorations, my wheels started turning.  I love taking something old and making it new again, and well, I knew I had to give these a try! The result was a fraction of the cost of buying a Mason Jar Snow Globe from a catalog, and in my humble opinion, something way more special.

Mason Jar Snow Globe in Sundance Catalog $45

Anthropologie (Used to display jewelry and not for sale)

I started searching the Internet for tutorials and found this one on Martha Stewart that uses any household glass jar with a lid.  I used this as my guide.
 Mason jar martha stewart

For this project you will need:

*I'm using E-6000 glue because that's what I had on hand and it worked fine but Epoxy glue is best (especially if you are using any type of glass ornament or glass figure in your jar). Do not use a hot glue gun.
  • Mason jars or any glass jar with a lid (I found wide-mouthed jars easiest to work with)
  • Distilled Water
  • Glycerin
  • Glitter and/or Diamond Dust (Glitter is best for snow globes, Diamond Dust is best for Terrariums)
  • Epoxy glue, that dries clear and is waterproof
  • Spray paint for lids (optional), or stickers and ribbon to decorate the lids (also, optional)
  • Something cute to put in your jar :-)
Okay, so here we go.
Start by washing and drying your jars. I like to collect old Mason jars so I have these around the house, but you can find them at flea markets, salvage yards, antique shops and ebay. If you don't have these, can't find these, or just don't want to spend the money, any glass jar with a lid will work here.  Later in the tutorial I'll show you what my kids made with gravy, jelly, and nacho cheese jars salvaged from my frig. *grin*

The Terrarium
I came up with the idea for terrariums because there were so many cute things I found to go in the mason jars that wouldn't do well with water. These are a dry decoration, so problem solved.

The tree and the little deer were purchased at Michaels.

Apply glue to the bottom of the deer's feet and position on the bottom of your jar with tongs.

This is a 1 quart blue glass vintage Mason jar.

Allow glue to set so that the deer is stable and then add the tree, repeating the same process.

Allow glue to dry overnight.
Spoon in desired amount of Diamond Dust (also purchased at Michaels).

Screw on the lid and put your gorgeous vintage looking terrarium on display!
Wouldn't a couple of these be darling lined on your holiday table between fresh pine branches and gorgeous mercury glass votive candles? *Swoon.*

I found this darling little elf like gnome at Cost Plus and the white tree at Michaels.  I knew these two would be terrarium bliss together.  I used a 1/2 gallon vintage Mason jar for this one and followed the same process shown above for the deer terrarium.

This is a new mason jar bought at the grocery store. I glued a decorated Christmas tree and mini presents (both purchased at Michaels) to the lid. The total cost of this terrarium was $7.50. I bet some crafty soul could figure out a way to drill a hole in that lid and run a strand of mini lights to light up the tree. *grin*

The Snow Globe
The kids had a ball making these!

Apply generous amount of glue (I should be using Epoxy here) to the bottom of your decoration and attach to the inside of your lid.

Allow glue to dry overnight.
*I found the cute little glass bird at Cost Plus.

Fill your jar almost to the top with distilled water. This is a 1 pint wide-mouth vintage clear glass Mason jar.

Add a healthy splash of glycerin (found at Michaels in the cake decorating section). Glycerin makes the glitter flutter and swirl like real snow.

Stir and then add desired amount of coarse glitter. I am using white glitter to look like snow.

Run a generous bead of glue all the way around the inside rim of your lid.

Over a sink, gently apply the lid to the jar and screw it on tight. It is normal for some water to leak out while you do this.

I allowed the glue to set for a bit before I played with the snow globe. 
Upside down birdie :-)

Turn your jar over, shake and enjoy the beautiful snow.

Important tips for making snow globes:
  • While you can use any fake tree making a terrarium, trees used in snow globes must be all plastic.  Make sure whatever item you choose for your snow globe gets tested in water first.  I found that the cute little bottle brush trees at Michaels bleed and turned the water green.  The trees that didn't bleed but had a metal trunk rusted :-(  I think the only tree that works in these are trees that are all plastic. 
  • I found the little plastic figures for snow villages worked great in the snow globes, along with all plastic toys and ornaments.
  • Glass decorations also did really well. 

As promised, my kids' snow globe creations made with household jars. The kids had a blast digging through their toy bins for little plastic animals, etc, to make these. Kids can select and wash their jar, pick out and set up cute things to go inside and even decorate the lid when the jar is complete.  HOWEVER, unless you want to contend with a little hand permanently glued to the kitchen table (don't ask), kids should NOT use epoxy glue.  Leave the gluing to an adult.

Gravy Jar (I spray painted the lid silver)

Nacho Cheese Jar  (the lid was already black. Whoot)

Small Jelly Jar
My daughter wanted to try gluing her toy squirrels to the bottom of the jar and it worked fine and she decorated the lid with a paper flower sticker.

As you can see, as long as you water test your decorations, the sky is the limit as to what you can do with these. The terrariums I've made are water free so just think of the possibilities! Glass jar snow globes and terrariums are a fun way to make your days merry and bright.

***If you enjoyed this post, see my 2013 Winter Scene Cupcake in a jar! It's an easy tutorial and a perfect gift.

~The Lemonista
*This has been added to Project Queens Christmas Craft  link party #2
and Oasisaccents Sunday's Best link party.

 all crafts Homemade Projects ~ Add Yours {11/22}
here  The Lettered Cottage here