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Monday, December 15, 2014

I Don't Deep-Fry, Making Doughnuts

Based on the title of this post, you must think that it's going to be about cake doughnuts. WRONG! I don't like cake doughnuts, I think they're a disappointment. To me a cake doughnut is cake in the shape of a doughnut, and when you want the crumb, taste and texture of a doughnut, the cake doughnut doesn't do it for me.

As I was flipping through my box of RedStar Yeast recipes, I kept coming across a recipe for Raised Doughnuts, alas it called for deep frying. Now, I didn't deep fry, not for any health reasons, but because I was scared. I was scared of being burnt by the hot oil, I was scared about not knowing when the oil was ready or when to take out the doughnuts. I hoped someone else would make them, as many of the RedStar Yeast recipes that I've tried have been delicious so far. I also don't usually get in the mood for doughnuts except when they are seasonal-meaning Chanukah time. We eat doughnuts on Chanukah because they're fried in oil and we want to commemorate the miracle that the oil lasted for eight nights.

It's the day before Chanukah, and I see the recipe again. Hmm, I figure you know what, I 'll make the dough and maybe someone else can do the frying. The dough seems really easy, just putting all the ingredients into the bread machine. I come across my first hurdle, the recipe calls for milk, I need these doughnuts to be dairy free. Awesome, RedStar says I can substitute water for the milk. First hurdle cleared. Second hurdle, some of the ingredients say they need to be at 80 degrees. I don't have a thermometer to check and my eggs are in the fridge.The water is already warm. I warm up the oil in the microwave and run warm water over the egg. I don't know if it's 80 degrees, but it will have to do. Second hurdle cleared. Third hurdle, the recipe I have is written for a Welbilt bread machine, that's not the company I own, so the instructions get confusing at this point for me, I just put it on dough. The recipe on the site seems to be more clear then what I had been using. Ok, third hurdle semi-cleared. Dough's ready. I needed to add flour to mine, but this may have been avoided had my recipe been clearer. How think should the dough be rolled out? I wasn't sure, so some of my doughnuts came out too think, I would say there should be a slight thickness (maybe 1/4-1/2 inch) to them and it's better they be too thick than too thin. The recipe says to use a doughnut cutter, I just used my misshapen circle cookie cutter. I let it rest for a half hour.

AAGH! Time for Deep Frying. I don't have a thermometer and I have never done this before. Google to the rescue. How to deep fry without a thermometer....a few different ideas turn up, but the one that appeals to me the most, was to heat one kernel of popcorn along with the oil and when the kernel pops, you know the oils is ready. It took a while for the oil to heat up, and the kernel to pop, but once I saw it popped, I started to gently slide in the doughnuts, a few at a time, fried each side until golden brown, and drained oil on a paper towel placed on a plate. Once they were cool enough to touch, I shook them in a ziploc with some confectioners sugar.

Next time, wait for the doughnuts to be fully cool before shaking in confectioner's sugar to avoid a condensation like effect/

It was not so bad and the doughnuts are yummy!

Here's the recipe I used Raised Doughnuts.

If you use a circle cookie cutter like I did, you can fill the doughnuts with jelly or jam too.

I should have used less confectioner's sugar too.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Evening Bag Essentials

I was at an affair the other day and I based on the requests and my experiences I'm compiling a list of evening bag essentials.

  1. Make-Up for retouches-I do my full face at home and I usually only take my lipstick with the balm. 
  2. Stirrer Straws-Take a bunch and use them for your beverages. They keep the lipstick looking nice and from coming off on the glass.
  3. Pocket Mirror
  4. Sanitary tampon or napkin in case of emergency
  5. Prayer Card-the Chuppah by a Jewish wedding is considered an auspicious time to pray. There are specific prayer cards that may be given out by some weddings. Since not all weddings give them out, it's a good idea to keep one in your bag. Some Prayers That are Included on The Prayer Cards
  6. Pen
  7. Small card with car service number-ride there and no ride back?
  8. Some Cash/Credit Card
  9. Your Phone
Okay, so they're not all quite essential, as I only had in my bag at the affair-lipstick, straws, pocket mirror and a prayer card.

But it provides ideas for what you might want to have in your bag. What items do you always have in your evening bag or everyday bag? What items can't you live without?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Candyland Series Part 3 Mr. Mint

The next stop on the board is the Peppermint Forest. For the Mr. Mint's costume we found some pink shorts, a darker pink shirt,  bought 2 pairs of red and white striped tights from party city. One pair we cut to make sleeves and the other was worn as a regular tights. The pink wig was bought and the hat was made out of oak tag aka as poster board with some red masking tape around it. The top of the hat was a clown's nose. The hat was bobby pinned to the wig and the bobby pins were taped to the hat for more stability-we had used packing tape. We bought some fake snow decorations in December. Holiday Candy Canes rounded out the look. Near the Peppermint forest we had a scalloped jar holding the peppermint candy canes. You can also sprinkle the small peppermint candies over the snow.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Candyland Series Part 2 - Plumpy Caretaker of the Gingerbread Plum Trees

Plumpy sits in the beginning of the game taking care of the Gingerbread Plum Trees. To make the tree you can use cardboard, brown craft paper or just use a poster and do a drawing. For food since it was Purim, I made Plum Hamantaschen. I really wanted to do Gingerbread (Spice) Plum Hamantaschen but I couldn't find spice cake mix in my local grocery. I could have also done plums, but the issue would be keeping them fresh since fridge space was at a minimum. Plums being a soft fruit also have a tendency to get mushy or be smashed by other items if not carefully placed. Since we didn't have any people to dress up like Plumpy we just used a poster board and I freehanded it.

For a party you many want to play games such as throwing plum looking bean bags onto a board or through holes that are worth different amount of points. Darts at purple balloons can also work.

If someone wants to or is able to dress up as Plumpy, I would suggest using a Green morph suit with padding, jumbo googly eyes with fuzzy eyebrows, use green foam or felt for the whiskers and mouth, as well as foam for the pendant. If you have any questions leave me a comment.

Ideas for the eyes:

See other posts in the Candyland Series-More Links Coming Soon

  1. Candyland Kids & Gingerbread Men at the Beginning of the board
  2. Plumpy under the Gingerbread Plum Tree
  3. Mr. Mint in the Peppermint Forest
  4. Jolly near the Gumdrop Mountains
  5. Gramma Nut near her cottage
  6. Princess Lolly in the lollipop woods
  7. Queen Frostine in the Ice Cream Sea
  8. Gloppy in the Molasses/Chocolate Swamp depending on version
  9. King Kandy
  10. Board Set-Up-Tiles, Signposts, Cards/Spinner, Music & Movie
  11. Favor Box Ideas

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Candyland Series Part 1-Candyland Kids

Candyland I remember from my childhood

Candyland Series Part 1- Candyland Kids & The Gingerbread Men

Do you remember the Candyland game from your childhood?

It was most likely one of the first games you learned to play, you didn't need to count above two and you barely even had to know your colors, as you were able to match the colors of the card to the board. Many kids loved the special cards so much, that they would go as far as remixing them and strategically placing the cards where they would be the one to receive the special cards.

I had the idea of bringing this game to life. I wanted it to be a game that people would be able to walk through and collect the candies in real life.

I decided to do this theme for the holiday of Purim. It's not obligatory to do all this work for it, but for fun I decided to go for it. We are only obligated to give one person 2 respectable food items. You can read more about the obligations of the day here & here.

There are costumes as we dress up. Candyland has many characters, so there is something for everyone, whether you choose to dress up as a few characters or get everyone together for all the characters.

Characters & Locations List:

  1. Candyland Kids at the Beginning of the board
  2. Gingerbread Men at the Beginning of the board
  3. Plumpy under the Gingerbread Plum Tree
  4. Mr. Mint in the Peppermint Forest
  5. Jolly near the Gumdrop Mountains
  6. Gramma Nut near her cottage
  7. Princess Lolly in the lollipop woods
  8. Queen Frostine in the Ice Cream Sea
  9. Gloppy in the Molasses/Chocolate Swamp depending on version
  10. King Kandy

For this post we are going to focus on the Candyland Kids and the Gingerbread Men as they go together. The Gingerbread Men serve as the Candyland Kids guides on their adventure to find the lost King Kandy.

Candyland Kids

Costume Ideas for the Candyland Kids:
Blue overalls and red and white striped shirt. Optional: Red Sneakers. Girl should wear her hair in a whole pony with a red bow.

Costume Idea for Gingerbread Men:

(Clicking on the picture will take you to Amazon where you can purchase the costumes.)

baby gingerbread bunting    
cute gingerbread
child gingerbread

adult gingerbread

child gin

What you can do with this stop or these characters:

  1. Use Gingerbread Cookies as party favors
  2. Have a Decorate the Gingerbread Cookie as an activity.
  3. Gingerbread Playdough-she also has lots more Candyland themed activities.
This post is part of a series to see other posts related to the Candyland theme click on the links below:

The links are coming soon.

  1. Candyland Kids at the Beginning of the board
  2. Gingerbread Men at the Beginning of the board
  3. Plumpy under the Gingerbread Plum Tree
  4. Mr. Mint in the Peppermint Forest
  5. Jolly near the Gumdrop Mountains
  6. Gramma Nut near her cottage
  7. Princess Lolly in the lollipop woods
  8. Queen Frostine in the Ice Cream Sea
  9. Gloppy in the Molasses/Chocolate Swamp depending on version
  10. King Kandy
  11. Board Set-Up-Tiles, Signposts, Cards/Spinner, Music & Movie
  12. Favor Box Ideas

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mishloach Manos

So I don't post much about the holidays here, but Purim is so much fun and I love the creativity that is displayed this time of year. To learn more about Purim-see here.

While many people compare this holiday to Halloween, it's not quite like that. In terms of Mishloach Manos, there are rules to it. Although it often ends up being an exchange, you can't expect anything back, because the idea is to give, not to receive. We also want to increase friendship, so while we give to our friends, it's also nice to give to people we're not necessarily friends with.

Some rules of Mishloach Manos

You only need to give 2 different food items ready to eat*, but at the same time it should be a respectable** package, delivered via messenger, that's why children often deliver the packages as they become messengers for their parents. The children often receive cash or candy from the recipient, sort of like a tip, this is lots of fun for the kids. The cash tips can range from 25 cents to $10. The $5-$10 tippers are very rare. Most people tip between 25 cents and $1.  Some people give and tell the kids that some of it is for them and some of it is for charity. The kids don't usually expect a tip, and not all people give, but they are quite happy when they receive one. The costumes (check out some easy ideas here), the music, parties, it's a day of great fun.

*respectable-certain drinks are not considered respectable enough, and therefore do not count towards your 2 required items although they may be included provided that you have another 2 items. Some examples include water, soda, drink boxes, coffee. 
Respectable drink items include: Milk, Alcoholic Beverages, Grape Juice, Beer

**Ready to Eat
means no prep involved, no putting together ingredients in a jar for a recipient to bake, or heating up required, etc.

Then there's themes, some are for it and some are against it. Okay this is a whole 'nother discussion probably worthy of it's own post, where I'll share my opinion. This is quite a controversial topic.

You can check out some shalach manos we have done in the past here and here.

We have actually a few versions that we made up this year.

Organized, Colleague, Friend-Okay, I don't know what to call it, but it's super cute.
We bought mini drawer set, picked up at a local 99 Cents and Up store, yep was more than a dollar. It was also available in bright pink as well as a set with more drawers. We filled up the drawers with goodies.
 Mini Drawers

Bottom Draw- Bite Size Oreos,  Twizzler Nibs, Taffy

Middle Draw-Chocolate Bar (type with squares) Mike & Ikes bag, Box of gum

Top Draw-Presidors (wafer rolls), popms (tiny choc chip cookies),
chocolate coins

You can even personalize it, add stickers to the outside. Be creative.
You can add the recipients favorite items, just keep in mind the size, as the drawers don't have much depth.

Now looking back, it seems like we went with organize your life type theme.

We found these organizers for 4.99 and then went about filling them up. You can make similar boxes. This pinterest board and this one are full of ideas.The basic idea seems to be cardboard boxes, covered with fabric. I think it looks nicer with the inside covered to. Now that I think about it and the costs, for me it probably worked out to just buy it. I don't sew and don't really have fabric around my house, so I would have had to go out an buy fabric and more glue gun sticks.

We put in a box of wafers, chocolate cake, triangle gift box of chocolate, candies in a rectangle tube, pretzels, chocolate umbrellas, Alprose chocolates, chocolate coated pretzels, wafers and a bag of klik, mini liquor.

Here are some different ways we thought of to package them. Later picture will show the actual food items.

This is one way of packaging it.
This package does not include a mini liquor.
The cover is is lifted up a bit on this one

same as above, but cover is open all the way

We ended up packaging it more or less like this one.
The pan is in there  to show the size of the chocolate cake we were going to bake.
It was not baked as of this picture.
On to what was actually in there.

Triangle box of chocolates.
I think they were selling it like thins in honor of the holiday and Haman's  3 cornered hat.

This is a package of individually wrapped Alprose Swiss Chocolate squares
or rectangles in this case.

Some golden Zaza sucking candies packaged in a plastic rectangle box.

These were labeled as bon bons. I had never seen them before. Without even tasting them I bought around 40 of these.
They were something like a wafer with cream and chocolate.  My sibling loved them.

Milk chocolate covered pretzels
This one is pretty self explanatory. Mini Pretzels.

Chocolate covered wafers
Godiva Chocolate Liquor

This is how I started setting it up.
The wafers were on the bottom and the triangle box was wedged in back.

we baked a chocolate cake in the pan, but this is a basic idea
of what was in there including the Godiva chocolate liquor

wanted to give you an idea of the size of these boxes

ah, I got the whole box into this picture

wafers on the bottom again

This pan is a snug fit into the box. Perfect.

This one also got the individually wrapped chocolates.

and a Klik Party Mix.
 Klik is a brand they make all sort of bags of bite sized chocolates.
This one's an assortment.

chocolate umbrella

self explanatory again

yummy bon bon

triangle box of chocolates

gold wrapped candies, these actually come in other colors,
you can always take a clear plastic box and fill it with candies yourself

and the scotch

similar to the brown one, I think we changed the way we packaged it,
but this is what was included plus a mini bottle of scotch

this is one idea of how to package it.
Please excuse the missing cake. I assure you there was a cake in there when delivered to the recipient

Idea 2 for packaging

Idea 3, I believe we went with something most similar to this,
although this one had the scotch rather than the Godiva and again a cake was included.

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