Tame Your Evil Side, Feed it Cookies

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Crinkle cookies

Crinkle cookies

Crinkle Cake Mix Cookies. OH YES! This is more than a recipe, it’s a technique that once you learn the cookie possibilities are endless. Endless really? No. But there will be a lot of cookie possibilities.

The air was cold, the wind had a bitter bite to it. Good cheer was abundant. Decorated trees peeked out of frosty windows. Yes it was that time. Christmas. I always plan a raid on those Who’s down the mountain this time of year. I will celebrate Christmas but I’m not a big fan of it. Why you ask? Well I am full of evil and darkness but that’s not the reason I’m not a Christmas fan. To some people (I’m one of them) the holiday is just a reminder of what has been lost. The hubby and I lost a child some years ago. We tend to stay home more during the holiday and only limit our outings to work and family gatherings. We avoid the public as much as possible, it is too hard, even after all these years, to be out and around people during the holiday season. It seems our sadness and heartache intensifies that time of year.
Why am I sharing this sad story? Not for pity. I want people to know when a co-worker, neighbor or even a stranger ‘Bah humbugs’ Christmas it’s not because they are bad it’s because it is just to painful. So please keep that in mind next holiday season. Don’t be angry or pity them just understand for some of us we don’t celebrate Christmas we just try to survive it.

Okay now that I’ve bummed out myself and maybe even you let’s cheer up by baking some crinkle cookies! Since I’m home most of the holiday season I spend time on Pinterest and a whole lot of time baking. It’s nice to have a full belly of some fresh baked goodness when you are going on all those Whoville raids.

Me and my Grinchy self was snooping around Pinterest looking for some cookie recipes I could make to share at a family gathering. What grabs my who hash hoarding soul’s attention? GRINCH CRINKLE COOKIES! I repeat: Grinch. Crinkle. Cookies.

Here is the direct link to the blog by Cookin’ Cowgirl and her “How the Grinch Crinkled Christmas” cookies. If you visit her site, stay awhile and wandering around. She has some great recipes. I mostly go by her recipe but I have changed it slightly. You may prefer her recipe so hit that link that will transport you to the Cookin‘ Cowgirl (after you scroll down past this first recipe and check out my devils food crinkle cookie recipe).

The cookies have the word Grinch in them because the cookies are green not because it’s made from real Grinches. I’m sure that’s a relief to know!

Green Cake Mix Crinkle Cookies

1 white cake mix.
6 tbsp melted butter.
1 tbsp vanilla extract.
2 eggs.
Green food color.
Powdered sugar.
Mix cake mix, butter and eggs together.
Add food color, mix well.
At this point I put my dough into freezer for several minutes to firm up. It works better for me that way.
Remove from freezer. Roll a spoonful dough into powdered sugar. Once covered roll into ball. Bake at 375 degrees 8 to 9 minutes.
Transfer from cookie sheet to wax paper to cool.grinch2

Below is the cookies I ended up making for my family get together.

Devils Food Crinkle Cake Cookies
1 box devils food cake mix.
2 eggs.
1/2 cup vegetable oil.
2 tbsp coffee.
Mix by hand.
Set in freezer 30 minutes(makes it easier to roll).
Roll in powdered sugar. I use 2 spoons to cover dough in powdered sugar before rolling them into balls. Bake in a preheated 350 degree over for 8 minutes. Transfer to wax paper to cool.
*Line cookie pan with parchment paper. Makes clean up easier. I store the cookies in a plastic container, each layer is covered in wax paper to keep each layer of cookies from touching. These cookies are delicate and will stick to each other.

These cookies disappeared like diamonds at a kleptomaniac convention. I set them on the dessert counter at my grandmothers, went to car to grab the other things I cooked, walked back to the dessert counter and bam! No more cookies. They were gobbled up that fast. Everyone was expressing their disappointment that I hadn’t brought more.

gccc2

So one recipe used melted butter the other oil. You can adapt either recipe to any cake mix. Easy as heart shaped pancakes. (if you’ve read my other postings you totally get that)

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Candied Pecans

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pecans3
Two years ago I found a pin for candied pecans, I made several batches to give as Christmas gifts to family and friends. To go off point a moment, why say family and friends? Don’t friends before all is said and done become family? Okay back to the pecans.

Thankfully I wrote the recipe down because for some reason I no longer have that pin, pinned. I have found a few pins/recipes similar it over the years but most are more involved, but have the same outcome. Why use more steps if you don’t have too? So here is the recipe. I have also made candied almonds and peanuts with this recipe.

Candied Pecans

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound pecan halves

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt, mix; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water and vanilla extract. Add your cinnamon/sugar mixture, stir. Add the pecans to the bowl and stir with a rubber spatula, making sure they are all moistened.
4. Pour the coated pecans onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 1 hour, stirring them every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. The pecans can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. (but they will be long gone by then).

These things should be called candied crack. They are that good.

I box these up with some chocolate covered pretzels, some fudge, cookies and a few other goodies to give as gifts for the holidays.
pecans4

Tinted Lip Balm. How it bombed before it went right.

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IMG_4887

 

I’m coloring my hair red tonight. Trying to cover these bothersome gray hairs that are trying to take over my head. So while I’m waiting on the timer to tell me I’m done I thought I share with you the tinted lip balm I attempted to make.

Tinted Lip Balm

Some of your favorite lipstick: a little dab will do (tint is optional)

Coconut oil 1 tsp

Vitamin E oil (optional) a drop or two

Beeswax ½ tsp

I used a little metal measuring cup to make my balm in and a wooden stick (like a lollipop or popsicle stick) for stirring. Turn an eye on stove to low. Heat your beeswax first, it takes longer to melt. Once the beeswax melts add your coconut oil and if using something to tint balm with add now. Stir. Take off heat, add you vitamin e oil. Stir. Then pour into your container.

The pinner who posted this, like me she did not have any beeswax handy, so she used a tube of Burt’s Bees chap stick she had. I had an unopened tube myself so I used that.

Okay I will confess the original pin was not ‘tinted’ lip balm. But I read enough pins to know what it takes to tint lip balm. Everything looked good but it did not harden. I ended up with a container of tinted lip butter. What the hell did I do wrong?

My tinted lip balm was more like Tinted Lip Bomb. My first attempt sure did bomb.

The pin/blog did warn about too much oil vs. not enough beeswax.

Second attempt I used more Burt’s bees chap stick less vitamin E oil.

Also used red lipstick, but very little. The result was nice. Not nice enough that I would make it again. I’m not a big lip balm user to begin with that might be why I just don’t feel the need to make more.

Bad balm on left, very nice balm on right.

Bad balm on left, very nice balm on right.

But if you like the balm go ahead and give this a go. If you know any lip balm/chap stick users this will make a great gift. FYI: I did make it a third time as a gift for my sister.

Here is where I found myself after following the pin. There is also a recipe for lip scrub here.

DING! Time to rinse my hair. Wish me luck it turned out nice. Have a Pinteresting day !

Hair update: I like the red, sadly my grays are still showing. I did end up with stain from the color on my face. I used some coconut oil to take it off. The coconut oil took it right off, no scrubbing needed. Coconut oil is something every household needs. You can use it for so many things.

 

Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give a Jam

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jam

I had a strawberry dilemma. Too many strawberries for us to eat. They were on sale, how could I resist that? I had already frozen plenty for smoothies and still had a ton left over. I decided to try something that’s been at the back of my mind. A longing you might say. For what you ask? Jam, crock pot jam. On Pinterest there are many recipes for this glorious breakfast treat. Most require pectin. I was out of pectin and you should know by now I won’t go the store just to pick up one item. I did find one pin that used apples in place of pectin. I just so happened to have an apple handy. As a matter of fact I was going to munch on it while cruising Pinterest. Thankfully I hadn’t taken a bite before finding that pin.

Here is the Crock Pot Strawberry Jam pin.

Here’s the recipe and if you continue reading past that you can read my little strawberry jam session.

Crock Pot Strawberry Jam
Ingredients:
2lbs fresh strawberries, sliced
4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-1.75 oz box pectin or peeled and slice medium size apple

Directions:
Spray crock pot with non stick cooking spray or line with crock pot liner/parchment paper. Add ingredients into a bowl. Smash/mix until combined well. Add into crock pot. Cover and cook on low for approx 8 hours or high for 4 hours, once strawberries are soft. Pour into your containers. It will thicken as it cools.

My jam session. I halved the recipe, if things went bad with the jam I had only ruined one pound of strawberries. I just threw everything into the crock pot. I like my jam chunky so there was no smashing going on. As I was tossing everything into the pot I was singing, loudly, “we be jamming, we be jamming” This lasted only a minute before I heard my husband shout from the living room, “Shut the hell up my ears are bleeding!” My singing is bad, so so bad. So I laughed at the hubby before continuing with the noise I call singing.
I let the strawberry concoction cook overnight, cooked it on low for nine hours. I planned on eight hours but I overslept the next morning.

sugar berriessugar apple berry

 

When I checked it that morning the ‘jelly’ was more like strawberry juice. It will thicken as it cools but it should have thickened some in the pot. So I turned the pot up to high and let the jam cook for another hour without the lid on. I don’t know if that caused it to thicken I just know that it did thicken up slightly. I poured the mixture into three small canning jars, put the lids on then let the jam cool. It did ‘set’ after it cooled. It wasn’t a hard set like some store bought jams.

 

That night for dinner I made breakfast just so we could try the strawberry jam. As I was spreading it on my bread, my bread whispered, “Oh yeah, spread it just like that. Ahh nice.” Most store bought jams don’t spread so easily and often tear the bread. But not this stuff, it spread so easy.

How did it taste? Amazing. I will never use store bought again. Ever. I put some in the freezer so it would stay good for awhile. Yeah, it was gone in four days. Do yourself a favor and try this crock pot jam thing.

There will be more strawberry recipes coming this summer. Just one mile from my house is a strawberry farm. You can go pick them yourself or get a big ole basket of freshly picked. Actually the strawberry patch is my back up plan. The hubby and I built a wooden strawberry planter late last summer and this year I shall plant my own strawberries. It’s my first time growing them so if it is a disaster the strawberry patch will save the day.

So I’m actually killing two pins with one post. The next pin was once again just a pin with a photo, no instructions. But for this the photo was enough. First before I reveal this pin you must promise to not tell anyone I did this. I am known for my dark soullessness if this gets out my reputation is ruined. I would no longer be able to face the creatures of the night with my head held high.

Since I can’t make you sign something in blood I am going to assume you will keep my undark side a secret. Here is what I did. I made… heart shaped pancakes. Yes I know, I’m as shocked as you are.

This is how to heart your pancakes. Make you batter thinner than you normally do. Pour into a squirt bottle, the kind that restaurants put ketchup and other sauces in. Use that to draw a heart outline then just fill in with more batter from the bottle. Easy as that. This is so easy you will no longer use the phrase easy as pie instead you will be saying, “Well that was easy as heart shaped pancakes.”

heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

I heart pancakes

I heart pancakes

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to share another secret, this one is okay if you want to share it. I am known for my pancakes. People have came to visit just to get me to make them pancakes.

Gotha’s Somewhat Famous Pancakes
You will need:
A store brand (name brands don’t do as well) complete pancake mix.
1 or 2 eggs, depending on how much batter you plan to make.
Water.
Ground cinnamon.
A little sugar.
Vanilla extract.

I never measure. I’ve been making these over 20 years I have no need to measure at this point. The eggs, if you are making pancakes for two people 1 egg is plenty. More than that 2 eggs will do. Cinnamon, I like cinnamon, a lot. I use a good bit. For most people, a teaspoon should be plenty. For the sugar I just use a spoonful. (What’s a spoonful? Whatever spoon I’m going to use to mix the pancake batter with). Vanilla extract, a cap full. Or just a quick pour from the bottle like I do. Use enough water to make the batter just a tad thicker than thin. Kind of like a cake batter. If it’s like a brownie mix that is way too thick.
That’s it.

Two pins, a pancake recipe and some out of tune singing. It’s all in a days work in the Pinteresting life of Gotha Stewart.

When Caramels Attack

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Inside this chocolate goodness lurks a surprise

Inside this chocolate goodness lurks a surprise

Last Christmas I did so much baking and candy making for family and friends. When all was said and done I had a few things left over I needed to use. One thing I had was little caramel candies. Honestly I don’t even remember what I used them for originally. They were still there taking up much needed cabinet space.
I remembered a pin where you put a ROLO candy in the middle of a cupcake or brownie before baking. I thought why not use the caramels in the same way? So the plan was simple, bake some chocolate cupcakes with caramels inside as a nice little surprise.
Yeah, pretty thought. Everything appeared to have worked out greatly. I opened one up while it was still warm, oh it looked so heavenly. The hubby and I ate one right away. The others I put some icing on after they cooled.
So after they cooled, icing applied and they sat on the counter for a little bit I decided I needed to eat another one. Did you know that once melted and cooled those damn little caramels get hard again? Hard as a damn rock. Why that did not dawn on me when I came up with the plan, I do not know.
Biting into that soft moist cupcake then hitting that hard sticky piece of caramel. Not a happy moment for me. I’m not going to lie one of my teeth got stuck in that chunk of caramel. I had to run to the nearest mirror and thus began the fight to get my tooth free from that evil caramel. I was in a panic I feared if I yanked that caramel to hard my tooth would come out with it. I envisioned an emergency trip to the dentist where once he asked to see the tooth I would shamefully pull from my pocket that piece of caramel with my tooth embedded in it. That was not going to happen!
I tugged, I twisted, I even tried to talk that caramel from my tooth. Wouldn’t budge. Finally I grabbed the caramel with both hands and yanked as hard as I possibly could. There was a “pop” then it was over. Thankfully it ended well for me. The tooth is still where it is suppose to be. No shameful emergency dentist visit. Whew!
I threw those cupcakes in the trash. I would say lesson learned but I know me I will see some pin, read the directions and decide to try it my way. Once again I will be off on another Pinteresting adventure.

Looks so innocent doesn't it? That caramel is EVIL!

Looks so innocent doesn’t it? That caramel is EVIL!

 

It Was the Best of Chocolate It Was the Worst of Chocolate

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A close up of paradise.

A close up of paradise.

 

Chocolate. It’s only one word. Yet that one word has power over me. It can make me happy when I‘m eating it, sad when I don’t have it, the smell of it can and often does lift my mood. Certain times of the month chocolate is a life saver. In excessive amounts it can be a life ender, or make me so nauseous I vow to never touch the stuff again. Then a few days later I’m having a Hershey bar.

The silky texture as it melts slowly in my mouth, oh chocolate you sexy piece of work. I have never done this but I know if there was a shortage of chocolate I would be willing to kill. Both strangers and those I hold dear. Okay maybe not those I hold dear, unless it’s really good chocolate. Like Dove.

I love chocolate so much it is one of the main items in my ‘Bug Out Bag’. You know, the bag hanging out by the back door of your house ready to help ensure your survival during an emergency or zombie apocalypse. When I planned my bug out bag I was realistic. I’m a big girl, not in the best of health. Any apocalypse will be the end of me. So if I’m out trolling the mean streets of rural North Carolina and I am soon the meet my end. I will make damn sure my last meal will be chocolate and not some cardboard tasting meal bar. The thought of running out of that glorious melt in your mouth lighten your mood goodness during an end of people event horrifies me. I also have this fear of a zombie outbreak happening during the night, I get bit, turn, and get caught dead wearing a pink nightgown. Oh the horror of people seeing me in pink clothing and not my normal black. Yes I wear a lot of black, but damn it matches my soul.

Look I’ve been rambling, lost focus. Lack of chocolate people! I am currently without chocolate. My brain does not function properly when I’m out. Not that I eat it constantly just knowing I have some in the house (hidden of course) eases my troubled mind.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the latest pin I tried involves CHOCOLATE! At one point this pin began to sink like the Titanic but the candy gods smiled down upon me at the last moment and the pin was saved.

First I must confess I did not use real chocolate for this pin. I used chocolate flavored candy melt. I’m not even sure real chocolate candy would work. Maybe one day when I have an over abundance of chocolate I will try using it. HAHA who am I kidding? There will never be an over abundance of chocolate in my house.

So on to the pin. Chocolate bowls. Oh my goodness. A bowl. Made of chocolate. Chocolate. Made into a bowl. Oh sweet pin, you had me at chocolate. The pin I saw on Pinterest just had photos no link to instructions.

You will need:
Candy melt, almond bark, whatever you use for chocolate dipping/coating.
Several small balloons. (I gave the outside of the balloons a quick wash)
Glass or metal bowl along with a cooking pot for the double boiler method.
Wax paper.
Something awesome like ice cream to fill the chocolate bowl.

Please note, from here on out when I use the word chocolate I am referring to the candy coat. Mainly because I have just began to realize my excessive use of the word chocolate. Now it’s just a challenge to see how many times I can actually use it.

Here is how this bowl of happiness is made. WARNING: There will be scenes of violent acts against chocolate below. Not everything went perfectly. If your heart is fragile like a Hershey bar left out in the sun, look away. Please just look away.

It began easily enough. Blow up several balloons. Not huge balloons. You want to make a dessert bowl not a punch bowl. Melt your chocolate. Dip, swirl, coat the bottom of balloon with chocolate. Sit this on wax paper, hold for a few seconds for the candy coat to set up slightly so your balloon will stand up and not fall over. Dip a few more balloons. DO NOT KEEP DIPPING UNTIL THE CHOCOLATE IS GONE. Make sure you have a good amount of melted chocolate left. Or you will learn the hard way like I did.

Bowls of chocolate setting up on wax paper.

Bowls of chocolate setting up on wax paper.

Here I must tell you what I did and the disaster that followed. I let the bowls set up. With scissors I snipped a tiny hole right below where the balloon was tied off. You want to air to release slowly. So I snipped a hole in just one balloon, stood back and waited for the magic to happen. There was no magic. No jaw dropping angels singing in the background Disney moment. My pin hit an iceberg and was sinking fast. The pictures will tell the story. I cannot find the words to describe the horror I witnessed.

oh the horror

oh the horror

Learn from my chocolate bowl apocalypse. Dip your balloon, let it set up, then dip it again. Dip it, dip it good, dip it real good. I dipped a second time. I also used a spoon to drizzle chocolate over any thin spots I saw. If there is a spot that is thin your bowl will collapse at that spot.

Everything was redipped, the weak spots taken care of. I snipped one of the balloons and this time: MAGIC HAPPENED. Oh happy day. I danced around my kitchen, song burst forth from my vocal chords, birds fluttered around me eventually landing on my shoulder to vocalize with me. Okay here’s what really happened when the pin went right. MAGIC HAPPENED. Oh happy day. I danced around my kitchen singing, badly out of tune. Birds and other animals escaped to far away or died on the spot as my voice reached their ears. Yes my singing is bad. People say every time I sing a musical dies.

SUCCESS !

SUCCESS !

Success. I now have chocolate bowls. Now all that is left to do. Fill a bowl with other sweet goodness, snap some photos then dig in.

Chocolate bowl filled with vanilla ice cream, berries, and caramel.

Chocolate bowl filled with vanilla ice cream, berries, and caramel.

This is not something I will make often. It was easy, it tasted good. But in reality you have to make the bowl so thick with candy coat you can only handle a bite or two. This is really something to make to impress others. Like cooking for your lover or having your boss over for dinner. Or having your lover boss over for dinner. Who am I to judge?

Even if you don’t have any special occasions to make this. Make it once anyway. That way during the zombie apocalypse when you and a small group of survivors are huddled around a fire with everyone telling what survival skills they have to benefit the group, right after the guy who says he can build shelter with a spool of thread and a dull pocket knife you can proudly declare to the group. “I can make a bowl…from chocolate.”

Signs of the Apocalypse

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Last September I stumbled upon this darling spooky Pin. It was a wood post with direction signs to scary locations. I knew I could do this, I just needed a little help from my man.

Halloween Sign from Pinterest:

Halloween sign from Pinterest

Halloween sign from Pinterest

Link to Halloween sign Pin

When will I learn? I have had a few pins go bad over the years, the worst were the ones my husband had a hand in.
Remember the pin where someone dug a little trench along their flowerbeds, lined it with landscape rubber runners then filled the trench with white rock? It looked really good. I showed the picture to my hubby then I began to explain what we needed to do along with the supplies we needed. He put his hand up to shush me, “I got this,” he assured me.
It turned out so bad I didn’t even take a picture of it. I lived for weeks with fear that the landlords would see it and ask us to move. Thankfully it is now covered in grass, all evidence gone…for now.

With the spooky sign I was determined to keep control. Get the wood I needed, along with some paint and stencils for the lettering. Within five minutes of entering Lowes I lost that control. I know where I went wrong, oh if only I could go back in time to warn my delusional self.

I lost control the minute I opened my mouth and asked, “What size boards do you think we need?” What my husband heard was, “please take over this project and dazzle me with your manly awesomeness”.

I wanted to get a small can of paint, we got spray paint. The wood for the sign the hubby decided we would use some fence wood left over from another gone wrong project. The lettering? No stencils for me just black sharpie and bad handwriting.

Let me share with you all the problems with this Pin.
Problem one: well, letting him run the show, obviously.
Problem two: the wood just soaked up the spray paint. I lost count of the cans we used.
Problem three: we couldn’t agree over the destination names. eventually I did win that battle. Bless my evil heart.
Problem four: Sharpie. That’s all I’m saying.
Problem five: see number one
Problem six: coating the sign with a clear sealant. I wanted to do several layers to make this thing last. After all that work I didn’t want the first rain to ruin everything. We did one coat.
Problem seven: I suggested cutting the bottom of the post into a point so we could drive it into the ground. Again I refer you to problem number one.

The hubby could only drive the sign into the ground so far because…wait for it…no pointy end. So every gust of wind knock the damn thing over. All in all it did turn out decent but nowhere near what I envisioned.

wood

Our Halloween sign

Our Halloween sign

 

 

Did I learn my lesson? Yes.
Will crap like this happen again? Sadly yes.
Will I one night smother him in his sleep? No because I need someone to kill spiders and other bugs that invade my space.
Do I love this man? Yes, with all my dead heart. That is why I will still involve him in my projects, he’s my best friend.

So on this Pinteresting adventure the Pin didn’t go wrong, the man behind the plan was the problem. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. We had fun together. In the end, isn’t that what life is about? Going through this world, the good and the bad with the one who has your heart, (even if it’s in a jar buried in the backyard).

My fall display with Halloween sign

My fall display with Halloween sign