Monday, October 20, 2014

30 Second Craft: Easiest Ever Polka Dot Pumpkins with Pom Poms—Modern Halloween DIY!



It's Monday! Blek, right? But would pom poms and pumpkins make you feel better? Obviously! This whole mess started with one glue gun: I finally bought one at the craft store near our office and needed to test it out—duh!—so I started gluing miniature pom poms to the pumpkins hanging around in our apartment...and I couldn't stop. It felt too good! 


My point: Why have plain pumpkins when you can have polka dot pumpkins covered in these colorful, fluffy babies? Lucky for all of us, it's a one step DIY project that only requires three items. Here's how it works:




POLKA DOT PUMPKIN
SUPPLIES: 

- Hot glue gun
- Miniature pom poms
- Small pumpkin 

First and only step: One at a time, put a small dot of glue on your pom pom and press onto the pumpkin; repeat as desired. Remove any glue strands when you're done.

NOTE: Rest your glue gun on a paper plate or other surface to catch drips.





 
You're a smart, fabulous, crafty person but if the instructions weren't crystal clear—or if you just LOVE crafty videos—I made this  little ditty for my YouTube channel. Please give it a watch! And hey, I'm making a real effort to post a new video at least once a week so I'd love it if you subscribed. So much fun to be had! xo -Erin 
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Friday, October 10, 2014

DIY Thank You Gift: Homemade Beeswax Candles In A Snap! With Stress-Busting Aromatherapy.

Wishing you the happiest Friday, coffee in hand! It's been a crazy three weeks and I'm finally ready to come up for air and tell you a little bit about what's going on. I took a new job! Today's the day I'm changing my "statutes" on Twitter, Pinterest, etc. but I wanted to let you know first. 

I left my amazing spot in the Good Housekeeping test kitchen to launch a new TV channel. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into—and I was super hesitant to leave my dream job—but I swear this is the coolest things I've ever done. I can't wait to tell you more about it once I'm able to share details! In the meantime, I'd love to show you the thank you DIY project I made for my amazing colleagues at Good Housekeeping on my last day.

You know I'm a sucker for a playful pun (I mean, Birth-nay!—come on) so I was obsessed with crafting something bee-themed, that way I could express how "Bee-yond Grateful" I was for the time spent with such an incredible, creative, game-changing team. 

My plan: Make homemade beeswax candles laced with stress-relieving essential oils. And for an extra-sentimental touch, I poured them into the old tartlet molds I bought at a Good Housekeeping sale my first week on the job. They lived in our kitchen for decades! Such a perfect, retro touch.

This was my first candle-making experience. Um, it's amazing! And, like, the easiest thing ever. I ordered natural beeswax pellets from Amazon, along with a pack of wicks. Next, I stopped by the Whole Foods right by our office for some aromatherapy business.

I picked neroli oil for a soft, floral, clean, citrusy scent. People say it's a mood-lifter...and who doesn't need that in the office now and then, right!?


Let's get to it, shall we? Here's what you'll need to make these homemade candles...


DIY BEESWAX CANDLE SUPPLIES
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Waxed paper
- 1 to 2 dozen tartlet molds
- 1 to 2 dozen wicks 
- 1 pound bag natural beeswax pellets
- 1 large microwave-safe bowl
- Popsicle sticks for stirring 
- Your choice essential oil (optional)

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. 

2. Arrange tartlet molds (or small jars, if you'd prefer) on the prepared baking sheet. Arrange 1 wick in the center of each mold and snip as needed so they stand up!  

3. Put the beeswax in a microwave-safe bowl. Put it in the microwave and microwave in 1 to 2 minute intervals until totally melted. 

NOTE: I first tried melting my beeswax in a pot of boiling water and it was an epic fail! The microwave is sooo much more simple. Why make things harder for yourself, you know?




4. Add drops of essential oil to your melted wax; stir in with a Popsicle stick. Add as much or as little as you'd like! 

5. Divide the melted wax among the prepared molds and let sit an hour or until set—this may sound lame but I totally loved watching the wax cool and change colors! 

One last thing, let's chat about wrapping 'em up. A great inexpensive way to package your homemade candles (read: not buy individual gift boxes for everyone) is to use grocery-store flowers and baker's twine. Tie small snippings and DIY cards to each candle—done! 

Anyway, that's what I made, this is what's going on, I hope all's well with you! I'm exciting to loop you in a bit move over the next few weeks. Happy Friday. Cheers, all! xo Erin



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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fastest Fall Dinner Ever: 5-Ingredient Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Chorizo!

During a shoot this week, our camera man told me about how his lovely girl friends makes big pots of soup for him once fall hits. It's her creative solution for having a partner with long, unpredictable work hours. Soup's the perfect solution! It's cozy, make-ahead and easy to reheat when one (or both) of you get home from work late.

Since starting this new TV job, I never seem to make it home in time for dinner. It's been a big adjustment: Not only do I feel guilty about not being able to cook for boyfriend, I feel awful asking him to wait to eat his dinner until I come home. I'm curious: What's your meal schedule like? Do you eat together? Dine in shifts? I'd love to know!




Anyway, I figured I'd give this soup solution a try. On Sunday I made a big pot-o-Pumpkin Soup! But since I like full-flavored recipes, I added some spicy dried chorizo and hot paprika for a fabulous kick—that's super savory, too! You only need five ingredients to master this fun fall recipe. Want to dress it up a big, though? Add some fresh parsley and crusty bread for serving...
 

5-INGREDIENT SPICY PUMPKIN SOUP
SERVES: 6

5 to 6 ounces dried chorizo, casing removed and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can pure pumpkin 
3 to 4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons hot paprika, plus more for topping (optional)

PANTRY STAPLES: Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Cook the chorizo in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and drippings release into man (you should have about 2 tablespoons drippings. If not, add a slash of olive oil). Transfer chorizo to a paper towel–lined plate using a slotted spoon. 

2. To the saucepan, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin, chicken broth, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. 

3. Divide the soup among bowls. Top with the chorizo and more paprika, if desired.

 
If that's not enough pumpkin for you, I have even more recipe! Try my 5-Ingredient Frozen Pumpkin Pie—INSANE!—Pumpkin Parmesan Risotto, Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, or my Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake (seriously my favorite things ever) xox - Erin
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5-Ingredient Chicken Milanese with Crunchy Snap Peas—Fancy Chicken Cutlets, Y'all!



Over on Freutcake today you'll find one of my favorite chicken dinners ever! How do you feel about breaded chicken cutlets? Because I feel real good about 'em. They're just the best. That's why you'll often find chicken Milanese (a fancy way of saying breaded and pan-fried chicken cutlets) on our dinner table. Offset with some veggies, of course!



Before all of the summer produce disappears, go out and try to get some last-ditch snap peas for this meal. Thinly sliced on the bias, they make the ultimate fresh and crunchy topping for your super-savory chicken. Too late for snappers where you live? No worries! Sway in snow peas or baby arugula. Problem, solved! 





I'm curious, what's your go-to chicken dinner? Are you a cutlet-fiend like me? I've love to know! One of my favorite things about this recipe is that if feels relatively virtuous. It's low-carb, full of protein, and topped with the most veggies! Maybe I'll make it again tonight...






CHICKEN MILANESE WITH SNAP PEA SLAW
SERVES: 4

1 pound boneless, skinless thin-cut chicken cutlets 
1 large egg
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs 
8 ounce snap peas 
2 lemons 

PANTRY STAPLES: Kosher salt, freshly ground and extra-virgin olive oil 

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat up some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
2. Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, sprinkle the breadcrumbs. Dip the chicken in the egg, then press in the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off any excess. Transfer to pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. 
3. As the chicken cooks, thinly slice the snap peas on the bias; transfer to a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon; sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. 
4. Serve the chicken topped with the snap pea slaw. Top with fresh Parmesan cheese, if desired. 

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How-To Make The Most Epic Horse Cake EVER! Step-By-Step Instructions, Just For You xo



Birthday cakes don't have to be so serious after you turn 20, 30, 40...heck! Even 100! I love a sophisticated layer cake but compared to a frickin' multicolored horse!? It's not even a question which one I'd rather have my candles in. 

To wish my dear, beautiful friend a "Happy Birth-nay" this weekend, I whipped up this sweet stallion. It's easy—and I'm not just saying that. It's, like, legitimately one of the easiest cakes I've ever created (and I've made some no-brainers). Here's what you do...




HORSE CAKE
SERVES: 8 to 12

1 (9- to 10-inch) round cake
1 (9-inch) square cake
3 cups chocolate frosting 
2 (5-ounce) bags Hershey's Chocolate Twizzlers
1 mint-flavored Life Savers
1/4 cup melted chocolate  
Candy dots, for decorating
Marshmallows and/or sprinkles, just because

1. Put your round cake and your square cake on a cutting board or other work area. Cut two rounded edges off of your round cake (see above); trim one of the scraps into two ears. Cut the square cake in half. 


2. Put the trimmed round cake on a serving platter. Arrange the two square halves (trimmed, if needed) to be the nose and neck of your horse (see above). Place the ears on top. 

TIP: You can squish everything together with toothpicks to make it super sturdy but I hate cutting into a cake with wood bits in it. My advice, just be careful not to move your design when frosting. Frost gently! Everything will be okay.



3. Cover your cake with homemade chocolate frosting. I like to swoop the frosting where the neckline would be to make it look more realistic.

TIP: Tuck strips of parchment paper under the cake before frosting for easy clean-up. When you're finished, just gently pull 'em away and throw in the trash.






4. Cut Chocolate Twizzlers into strips (fringing them at the ends, if desired). Place Twizzlers pieces along the neck and between the ears to be the mane. 

5. Press the Life Savers into the frosting to be the eye. Fill the Life Savers center with melted chocolate and top with a candy dot to complete the look. 

6. Use melted chocolate, put in a resealable plastic bag with the corner snipped, to pipe an eyebrow and eye lashes onto the horse. Pipe on two nostrils, too! 


7. Use more candy dots to make the—horse lovers help me out here—face harness? The bit? The cavesson? What's that thingy called? Anyway! Use the dots for that, then press sprinkles onto the base of the neck to dress things up a bit. 


That's it! What do you think? Do-able, right? You can of course change up the frosting color or even use this face-template to make another animal, maybe like a pig or a dog. The hardest part is cutting into your creation after you made it look so darn fabulous! Sigh. A little bit of heartbreak in each slice xo -Erin




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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dreamy Coconut Rice Pudding! The Best Gluten-Free Dessert for Gluten-Free Dessert Haters xo


I'm not a calorie counter nor a carb-restrictor nor a don't-eat-dairy gal. I believe in balance and lots of exercise but that's another conversation. The important thing is, there are more and more people in my life who do need to watch what they eat and I try to dream up delicious treats with them in mind. I'd love to show you how to make this super-simple Coconut Rice Pudding, a gluten-free, dairy-free recipe I created for Freutcake a few weeks ago. Sound good?



The not-so-secret ingredient in this dessert? Coconut milk! It's sweet, nutty and totally cow-free (aka bonanza)! Toss it in a pot with frozen cooked white rice, sugar, vanilla and you're drooling—guaranteed. 

If you can't find frozen cooked white rice in your regular grocery story, double check Whole Foods. They make my favorite kind (it's just 365 brand). Still no luck? Cook up some white rice from scratch or use leftovers from takeout Chinese—now that's super resourceful!

For an extra-special presentation, serve this coconut rice pudding in fresh coconuts. I kid you not, this is way easier to do than you think. I posted a quick how-to video with coconut cracking instructions on YouTube incase you need a little extra help. Let me know what you think! xo 



5-INGREDIENT COCONUT RICE PUDDING
SERVES: 6 to 8

4 cups frozen cooked white rice, thawed 
1 (13.5) ounce can light coconut milk 
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Optional: Fresh coconuts, for serving

1. Bring the rice, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla bean and vanilla extract to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, simmering, 15 minutes or until thickened slightly. 
2. Transfer pudding to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. Scoop into small glass bowl or serve in fresh coconut cups. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

11 Modern Cork Finds For Small Kitchens—Rad Grocery Bag, Included!

Got a small kitchen? Put a cork in it! These neutral accessories are a no-brainer way to add natural frill to your teeny space and—bonus—they're all kind of good for the environment, too. Fact: Cork is inherently sustainable because it's both biodegradable and recyclable (aka greener than the tupperware stash mom sent you) so your shopping spree is kind of, like, a good thing for the planet! Add a few pieces to your countertop this weekend Planeteers...


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