Monday, September 30, 2013

Influenster Voxbox #1: Annie's Mac and Cheese Review

Have you heard of Influenster yet?

Let me know if you say yes to the following questions:
1. Do you like free stuff?
2. Do you use social media?
3. Would you write product reviews in exchange for full sized products and prizes?

If you said YES- Influenster is for you.

I signed up a while ago and just received my first box.

One of the many products inside my voxbox was Annie's Microwaveable Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese.

I taste tested it with Sara, my finicky 3 year old that loves real mac and cheese.

After opening the package and filling to the water line, I put it in the microwave for the 2 minutes and 15 seconds the package suggested.

After, I emptied the cheese packet and stirred it up, and left it covered for 5 minutes.

After I stirred it up, it thickened up and was really, really cheesy...

I allowed it to cool and asked Sara to share her thoughts.

Result? Instant YUM! She ate the whole container!

I would definitely purchase this again for quick meals. Thanks Influenster! #realcheese

Disclaimer: Influenster provided the product complimentary, but the thoughts and opinions in this review are my own (and Sara's!).

Braided Apple Pie: Yum.

Holy cow. I'm so serious when I say this is probably the best thing I have ever baked. And presentation? Wow. I'm in love.

Want to try braiding your next pie? Read on!

You will need:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter, cold, sliced
ice water

5 apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Egg Wash:
1 egg white
Pastry brush

1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar, butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles rough pebbles. Slowly add 3-4 tablespoons of ice water, and watch for the dough to combine.

2. Remove dough from food processor and work in hands, forming a disk shape.

3. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

4. While dough is chilling, make the filling. (!) Dump the apples in a bowl, and toss with the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until coated.

5. Prepare a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat.

6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

7. Work the dough in your hands for 10-15 minutes and when warm, begin to roll the dough in a rectangle shape on the cookie sheet.

8. Shape the dough with a share knife, as seen in the picture. Then, cut 4-5 inch strips on either side of the dough, leaving room in the middle for your filling.

9. Gently spoon your filling across the middle of the dough, stacking as high as you can so the pastry is not flat.

10. Fold over the top piece, then begin to "braid" the dough, one piece over the other, over the fruit.

11. Work to the end, and fold in bottom piece.

12. Using the pastry brush, coat the pastry in egg white, and then sprinkle sugar over the top.


13. Cut a piece of aluminum foil to tent the pastry for the first 25 minutes of baking.

14. Bake for a total of 40-45 minutes, or until golden.

15. Allow to cool completely, and serve with vanilla ice cream for a real treat. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Crock Pot Love: Easy Apple Butter

I admit it- I love my crock pot. Dump in ingredients and hours later, magic happens!

Here is an awesome small batch fall recipe that will be a show stopper at any brunch, and is super simple to make.

You will need:


3 1/2 pounds apples (peeled, cored and chopped) I used a mixture of tart and sweet apples.
Lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
2-3 half pint mason jars with lids

1. Mix the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium sized crock pot.

2. Spray the apples lightly with lemon juice, then dump into crock pot and stir until well coated.

3. Cook on low for 10 hours. Apples will be thick and dark. Add vanilla.

4. Uncover crock pot and cook for 2 more hours, stirring frequently, on low heat.

5. Once to desired thickness, use an immersion blender and puree to a smooth consistency.

6. Using a wide mouth funnel, spoon apple butter into half pint mason jars, and close finger tight.

7. Refrigerate for 2 weeks, or freeze to store.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Easy-Peasy Pumpkin Pie in a JAR!

Anything in a jar is downright adorable...and we already know about my pumpkin passion....

Combining the two was a natural for me to try!

Here is my recipe for pumpkin cream pie in a jar...

You will need the following:
6 half pint mason jars and lids
1 cup of Gingerbread cookies (crushed)
3 tablespoons of butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
Box of vanilla pudding
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Whipped cream

1. Mix the melted butter, gingerbread crumbles and sugar, and press evenly in each of the mason jars.

2. In a preheated oven to 325 degrees, place the mason jars on a cookie sheet and bake the crust for 5-7 minutes.

3. Allow the mason jars to cool, and make the pudding according to the package directions.

4. Add the pumpkin puree and spices to the pudding, stirring until well blended.

5. Spoon the pudding mixture into the mason jars and seal, finger tight. Place in fridge and allow to cool 1 hour.

6. Once chilled, scoop whipped cream on top of the layers and sprinkle with cinnamon. Seal jars again and place in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


These make a great gift for any pumpkin lover....or you can hoard them for yourself.
Hey, autumn only comes once a year!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Diamonds (and Donuts!) are a girl's best friend!

To celebrate a friend's upcoming wedding, I wanted to surprise her with something fun and memorable...

I enlisted the help of my two favorite crafters and got to gluing!

To make these adorable donut rings, you will need the following:
-diamond printable found here
-24 mini donuts (powered look best)
-24 toothpicks
-Elmer's school glue (a glue pen works best but I keep my glue safe for kid crafters!)
-silver glitter
-plastic plate for glittering

1. Cut out the diamond printable and tape the toothpick to the back to secure.

2. Outlining the shape, lay a light layer of glue and working quickly, place on a glittered plastic plate.

3. Tap off excess glitter and lay flat to dry.


4. Insert the toothpick in the donut and arrange on a cake plate or other pretty medium.

5. Celebrate! :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pumpkin Spiced Almonds

I admit it. I am pumpkin-obsessed.

I dream about pumpkin recipes, douse myself in the scent, and am counting down the days to go pumpkin picking with the fam.

This simple recipe is a whole lot of pumpkin...but crazily enough contains no pumpkin...but a ton of pumpkin flavor!

You must try these pumpkin spiced almonds.

2 cups of almonds (or really any nut you like)
4 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Line a baking tray with a silpat. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the spices until well blended, then add vanilla and honey. Pour in the nuts and stir to coat.

Spread the nuts on the silpat, and sprinkle the sea salt.

Bake for 20 minutes and let cool completely before eating. Breathe in, your house will start to smell of autumn fabulousness!!!

Store in an airtight container, if they last long enough to store!

A little mason jar of these gems with a mini pumpkin would be a sweet treat for any pumpkin lover!

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