I love Halloween! It is by far my favorite holiday, so in the spirit of all things spooky I wanted to give Christine McConnell’s edible spiders a try. I will say she makes it look so much easier than it is. As I type this, I still can’t feel a few of my fingers but if you have time, patience, and like playing with fire (I do!) definitely give them a try.
I would like to say - insert amazing homemade cake recipe and buttercream frosting recipe here… however, some weeks with a toddler it just doesn’t happen, so it's a box cake and store-bought frosting. I think if I were to do this again, I would make the frosting so the web could be a little thinner, but overall I’m happy with how it came out. It was all about the spooktacular decorations!
What you need:
1 Standard can edible brown spray food coloring (I used gold)
1 Standard bag Werther's Original hard candies
1 standard bag of plain peanuts
1 standard bag of macadamia nut whole
Making the legs:
Now it's time to pour yourself some wine and crank up some Stevie Nicks... Just relax you are going to be here a while. Preheat oven to 325 deg, and place parchment paper on a cookie sheet with 2 Werther’s Original candies. It takes about 4-5 min for the candy to melt enough to mold. So while that magic is happening, I suggest setting up your building station. Wax paper down, food scissors at the ready, and toothpicks out. Once the candy is melted, it’s time to mold the legs (I feel like people who waited tables or are used to working closely with an iron or basically anything that would burn your fingers have the advantage here.) Pull candy out of oven and use toothpick to lift up the middle, then grab the scalding hot candy off the toothpick (see, told ya) and pull straight up, cut and bend so it has a decent leg-like shape. Repeat this step until you have about 20. They shatter like glass and you will need backups.
Putting it together:
This part requires steady hands. Light that candle and put a small amount of caramel on a toothpick, (or keep placing candy back in oven) melt candy on the toothpick and apply to the macadamia nut. Now apply more caramel to the peanut, and while hot mold with macadamia nut, holding for 10 seconds to set. Now take big sip of wine, we’re almost done! To attach the legs, melt caramel on a toothpick again, and add a thin amount to the macadamia nut. Grab one caramel leg and hold one end to the open flame to re-melt very carefully. Add the caramel on the macadamia nut, easy right? Now just repeat until you have a spider. Spray with food coloring once done.
So it's been a minute since spring… Happy fall y’all! And that spring cleaning you did on your closet a few months ago has probably expired? Me too. Not to mention I'm just sick of most of the clothes in my closet. While it is expensive to replace your closet with all new, it's free to take your old clothes and alter them into something new! That’s upcycling in a nutshell, and it helps the environment (double-win). There are a ton of how-to videos and amazing inspiration all over the internet. What I noticed was that most people were cutting up clothing and not adding a lining or finishing out the hems, making the clothes just look cut up… not a good look. Below I have listed three different ways to transform a garment, two require no sewing and one that does.
So you know those times you enter into a queso cook off before your brain catches up to remind you that:
a) You are not a professional chef, you are a stay at home mom with too much time…
b) You have NEVER done anything like this, and…
c) Why? Just why are we doing this? Well the answer is cheesy; (pun intended) life is short and cheddar makes it better!
Over the last month, I have made queso at least once a week, and tried every possible ingredient: cream cheese, butter, beer, sour cream and many MANY variations and combinations. I kept coming back to my basic recipe I have been making for years. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a Texas gal and I love a good Velveeta-base queso, but in terms of being a purest, Velveeta is Velveeta and to get depth in flavor can only be delivered by the real C.C. (Cheddar Cheese!)
Typically I am not a competitive person. If we are running a race, playing ANY sport with a ball, or even playing trivia, you probably don't want me on your team. However, if we are doing something that I’m good-ish at… GAME ON! That being said, there were two categories in this particular queso competition - overall theme and best queso. We came to win, so on top of having an awesome recipe, we decided to glam it up and go with a David Bowie rocker theme... because why not?
So how did it go you ask? I had to make more queso than I have EVER made in my life! Two gallons worth of cheesy goodness! I started the day before the cookout shredding cheese. Now, before you tell me there is this thing called pre-shredded cheese available, I know. I think when you shred it yourself, the texture is better and it melts more evenly. Just one of my weird things.
My first batch had some problems to say the least. My math was off when making more than double of the below recipe (ok I didn't do the math, I just winged it). However, I did learn that when working with real cheese, the cheese can separate. Who knew? I turned my heat off so it would not burn and turned to google. From what I read, I needed a binder FAST in order to recombine the separated layers. Options listed were American cheese (the kind you have to take the plastic off piece by piece), mustard powder, and cornstarch. Now if I was making a queso to put over veggies I'm sure the mustard is awesome, but not for chips. So i went with corn starch. It worked, however the consistency was more grainy than I would have liked, so I started over.
Working much slower the second time and paying attention to the proportions it turned out its usual cheesy goodness. The contest was fun, I am going to say we got third for most creative theme (David Bowie) however; they only announced 1st place. And as far as the queso goes, we ran out of our queso first out of everyone there with similar starting amounts. I think that speaks volumes to how amazing this cheddar is!
Ok let's get cheesy with it!
8 oz Sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz Pepper Jack cheese
8 oz Cream cheese (room temp)
½ tbs Chili powder
½ tbs Garlic salt
1 tsp Chipotle Chili Pepper
¼-¾ cup Whole Milk
10 oz of Onions, Red and Green Peppers chopped (or a can of Rotel drained)
Salt and Pepper to taste (about ¼ tsp each)
Combine the cream cheese, veggies, cheddar, and pepper jack in a medium saucepan over low heat. LOW heat is the key, as is stirring often! Once it’s all melted, start adding the milk until you reach the desired consistency. Add spices and taste test to perfection.
Serve it up! Best if served immediately.
Add a few drops of Tabasco or sriracha if you are looking to amp up the heat. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and Jalapeño... and to make it glam rock queso, you can't forget the edible glitter!
It’s September in Texas and that means it's coming to the end of tomato season. This was my first year to have a garden and to be truthful, I was surprised at how much I loved it! Turns out that bugs and dirt is a small price to pay for veggies and herbs (yep that’s my line -- can i eat it).
What do you do when you have four tomato plants, two jalapeno plants and cilantro growing? You get good at making salsa! Chances are, if I came to your house this summer you have had some version of this recipe. It’s so easy to make and so delicious -- I think I am ruined on ever eating store-bought salsa again!
So venture forward at your own risk friends -- it’s salsa time!
This restaurant-style salsa recipe only takes about 15 minutes to make, it's easy to customize, and it’s so delicious you will think twice before buying pre-made ever again!
Fresh Tomatoes (Roma or garden tomatoes cut into quarters)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
I'll leave it to you if you want to add the seeds or not. I only added seeds from 2.
Cilantro 1 ½ cup chopped
Zest /Juice from 1 Lime
2 Chipotle peppers from a can
¼ Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 Red and 1 Green Bell Pepper seeds removed
½ Large yellow or red onion peeled and roughly chopped
Pinch of cumin (optional)
Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
1 Teaspoon Sugar
Pinch of Chili powder
Wash and dry all produce. Pop veggies (skin side up) on a baking sheet under the broiler for about 6-8 minutes until they are nice and blistered/blackened.
You will need a big mixing bowl to add everything together in.
Give a rough chop to a little less than half of your fresh tomatoes and add them to the bowl (this is if you prefer your salsa a little chunky... if not, then just add all fresh tomatoes to the food processor). Toss the other half of the tomatoes into the food processor and pulse until desired consistency.
Add can of fire-roasted tomatoes to big bowl. Again, if you prefer to pulse them, pulse away... just for the love of Mexican food, do NOT drain the can first. You need all of that fire roasted goodness in your life -- TRUST ME!!
Give a little chop to the cilantro and add to the big mixing bowl. Tip: chop the stem off first then roll and chop leaves.
Pulse the chipotle peppers very fine and add to bowl.
Now it’s time to add the roasted veggies to the food processor or blender. Maybe I am just a control freak, but I have noticed that doing this in small batches works best for me as you are able to have more control over the end size. Once all veggies are around the desired size, add to mixing bowl.
Ok let’s finish this -- have a tasting chip at the ready!
Add lime zest and juice. Add cumin, salt, sugar, and the wham-bam that gives this salsa such complex flavor -- the small dose of liquid smoke. Now taste test and add more of anything if needed.
Once you think you have the flavor just right, split it up into mason jars and let all the flavors get to know each other for at least an hour in the fridge before serving.
This salsa can last up to a week in the fridge; however, mine rarely does since I add it to just about everything!
I have been craving my mom’s peach cobbler for weeks now, and I have tried to talk myself out of making it because… you know… calories. But as every southern girl knows, it’s just not summer until you have cobbler and ice cream, bikinis be damned!!!! So “for the sake of the blog” (yes saying this helps me sleep better at night!), this post is all about peach cobbler! The peach mixture is sweet and creamy. The crust is crisp on the outside and cakey on the inside, and served up hot with a big scoop of ice cream it’s southern heaven!!!
· 1/2 cup unsalted butter
· 1 cup all-purpose flower
· 1 tablespoon baking powder
· A pinch of salt
· 1 cup milk
· 4 cups fresh peaches cut into slices
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
· Zest ½ the lemon (or more, who am I to judge)
· 1 tablespoon cinnamon
· Wash, dry, and cut your peaches. A little extra step is to scoop out the deep red spikey looking part by the pit.
· Set out your butter so it gets nice and soft by the time this party gets going
· Pre-heat oven to 375 deg F
Ok let’s do this!
Making the crust:
· Melt butter in a 13-X 9-inch baking pan
· Combine flower, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, and start stirring until combined. The lumps should dissolve pretty quickly. Pour batter over butter (do not stir). I prefer to do a zig zag shape and then go back over to fill in holes.
Now for the main attraction, the peach filling:
· Bring the remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices and lemon juice and the zest from ½ of the lemon to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon.
· Bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool
The options are endless with cobbler: add raspberry, apple, cherry, or just go crazy and do a mash up of everything. This recipe never fails to impress, and let’s face it, it’s just not summer in the South without cobbler! So bikinis be damned, this cobbler is well worth it! Enjoy!!
I thought I’d make the last post of the season hot – like “bring a tear to your eye” hot! So let’s talk Jalapeno Poppers! These lil babies are perfect for end-of-year parties at work or for a southern NYE party. They pair great with tamales or can make a fun alternative for them. Just a word for the wise… wear gloves for goodness sakes when cleaning them; they don’t play around and will burn your skin! As a past roommate who once found me crying over my red blistered hands screamed at me “Porque no tienes guantes puestos muchacha loca?!” Translation: “WTF stupid white girl?!” In her defense, she was grabbing the milk to soak my hands while screaming this at me. Yes, milk has never been so heavenly! #loveyoucarmen
· Fresh Jalapenos (12)
· 1 package of Cream Cheese (full fat if serving to company, reduced fat for a night in)
· 1 package of Bacon (sub for turkey bacon for a lighter version)
· Sharp cheddar cheese ½ cup
· Chili powder 2 tsp
· Garlic Salt 1 tsp
· Paprika ½ tsp
· Broiler pan
Make sure the cream cheese is out (trust me, you will thank me later! It mixes much better when is not straight from the fridge)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Cleaning the peppers:
As previously stated now is a good time to put your gloves on!!
Cut the stem side of the pepper off, now slice the pepper down the middle horizontally (hot dog style, not hamburger). Next take a spoon or knife and scoop out the seeds, the more seeds and stem you leave, the hotter the popper, so beware and scoop well! I love spicy food but there is a difference between “oh man that’s hot” and “THAT’S ATOMIC EVEN MY LIPS ARE ON FIRE!” Now rinse the poppers once cut to help remove the remaining seeds and set to the side to dry.
Now let’s get cheesy (yes I went there… I almost always go there actually).
Take your room temperature (or close) cream cheese, add in your spices and the sharp cheddar and mix. The hard part is not stopping at this point and retiring to the couch with a spoon and your spicy cream cheese mix… don’t judge me.
Now to make the poppers (gloves still on, people):
Scoop some of the cream cheese mixture into the pepper until its level with the sides of the cut jalapeno. Now take one piece of bacon and wrap it around – it should stick to its self once wrapped around, but if not a good old toothpick always works! Place on the broiler pan and repeat until done. Pop in the oven until the edges of the pepper start to look soft and the bacon is cooked (30ish min depending on your oven). Feel free to put the oven on broil for a minute if you like your bacon crispier.
Once out of the oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes then plate ‘em up!! I serve these lil bacon wrapped bundles of joy with a big side of ranch dip (it’s a southern thing, everything goes with ranch). Whether you are pairing these with a Mexican style NYE with tamales and queso, or just making them for a work potluck, they are sure to steal the show!
Here’s to a hot and spicy start to the new year!!
There is something about the fabric creating the mood for a collection that has always fascinated me. Coco Chanel changed the fabric in her famous tweed jacket over 75 times, proving that all it takes to completely transform the look and feel of the same basic pattern is a fresh print or a slight alteration. As a small designer, this strategy can greatly help with the cost of overhead! I’m not sure if this is a topic designers typically talk about… but let’s get real. Not everything is based on creative magic. Sometimes it comes down to being cost-effective and using what you have in your studio; refreshing patterns with a slight tweak or reusing the same pattern in a new fabric can create a completely different look. Maybe that’s its own kind of studio magic… a poor designer’s guide to fashion design!
Let’s start with my first love (and a small confession)...I am a fabric junkie. Seriously, I hoard it. I just can’t help myself – fabric feeds my heart! When I see a fun and flirty floral or a vibrant bold print, I just have to have it! Never mind the fact that I have no immediate use for it, or that I have three similar prints sitting at the studio in a crate. They are not like THIS one. This is “the one” and I neeeeed it!! Yes I know I sound like a crazy person when I get going about fabric… You just never know when THAT floral print will be perfect for a creation!
When starting a collection I always begin with the fabric before doing any sketching. This is because the fabric has a way of telling me what it wants to be (there I go again). When you’re refreshing some looks from seasons past, changing the fabric is a very fast and effective way to make a whole “new” aesthetic! The fabric sets the tone and feel for a collection. For example, in one season you do a long cardigan in black lace, giving a gothic but romantic vibe. The next year you can use the same pattern to remake the cardigan using that floral silk print you had to have, and BAM a whole new look that is light and playful. It's easy to completely change the tone by swapping out the fabric!
Now if you're going for a completely new design, why not start with one of your favorite patterns? You already know it fits great and moves well, so why not add on to this strong base and create something "new". By manipulating patterns, you are not only able to cut some of the overhead, but also easily refresh your design. Add sleeves to a top, make a dress longer/shorter, change the waist line and BAM you have created a completely new garment! No one will even guess that you started with an amazing design you did three years ago and just began adding on. I call this working smarter, not harder.
Well there you have it, I have broken the rules again with this post, and let you in on an insider secret. Never be ashamed of refreshing patterns or remaking the same design with a new fabric (everyone does it!). Heck, that’s just smart business! Build up a great set of pattern blocks and tweak away, because this design technique will save you time and money! And hey… if it was good enough for Coco its good enough for me!
Nothing says its summer to me like being by the pool with a big bowl of this Texas-sized guacamole! Seriously, after you run out of chips you will be eating from the bowl with a fork… it’s that good (poolside pics from the waist up only this summer please). Surprisingly simple, this recipe will have your guests asking for it every Sunday Funday! It’s easy to double, triple, or quadruple if you need to feed a larger crowd.
I love fashion, food and southern living! Welcome to my blog.