Tuesday, August 18, 2015

DIY Mason Jar Sugar Container


I had intended on purchasing a sugar container that had a pour spout, but never remembered to look for one the millions of times we went to Home Goods or TJMaxx.

The other week, I had finally finished the container of salt and it was sitting on the counter next to one of the mason jars I had just washed out. That's when the idea popped in my head. I could just cut out the top of the salt container and insert into the mason jar instead of the metal top!
DIY Mason Jar Sugar Container~ The Dreams Weaver
What you will need:
Mason jar with lid
Emptied salt container {mine was from Morton's Salt}
Scissors
Pencil
DIY Mason Jar Sugar Container~ The Dreams Weaver
The first thing you need to do is to cut off the top of the salt container. 
DIY Mason Jar Sugar Container~ The Dreams Weaver
Then trace the old metal circle from the mason jar onto the salt container lid and cut it out. At this point you can add a paper/fabric overlay over the plain white cardboard to make it look more professional, but I just left it white for now.
DIY Mason Jar Sugar Container~ The Dreams Weaver
Fill the mason jar with sugar and secure the new lid on top.
DIY Mason Jar Sugar Container~ The Dreams Weaver

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Soft Baked Pretzels

This weekend I had a serious craving for those jumbo salted soft pretzels that you get at events. After doing some pretzel research online, I came together with the best recipe that mimics the taste of those, but made them 1/3 the size so I don't feel as guilty eating 3 :-O 

The coating for the pretzel is essential for getting that nice golden brown crispy exterior and super soft center. The science behind this baking soda coating is that a chemical reaction {ie. Maillard reaction} occurs, which allows the exterior crust to become a golden brown color. The baking soda reaction is also responsible for the unique taste of the pretzel. Without this bath, the pretzels would taste more like a bread and would not be as golden brown and delicious {GBD.} We can thank old world Germans for this, except they used sodium hydroxide to coat their brezels {pretzels}! 
Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver
What you will need: 
 4 tsp. active dry yeast 
1 tsp. white sugar 
1 ¼ cups warm water
 5 cups all-purpose flour 
½ cup white sugar 
1 ½ tsp. salt 1 tbsp. vegetable oil 
Pretzel Coating
½ cup baking soda 
4 cups hot water 
¼ cup kosher salt, for topping 
Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver
In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 ¼ cup warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Then add the oil to the yeast mixture. 

Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver

In a large bowl, mix together flour, ½ cup sugar, and salt. With the stand mixer set with the beater attachment, add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture cup by cup with the mixer on low speed. Once all of the flour mixture has been incorporated in, switch to the dough hook. Let the mixer run the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. 

Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water; set aside. 

Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver

When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt or even cinnamon sugar! 

Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver

Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8 minutes. 

Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver

Enjoy! 
Soft Baked Pretzels~ The Dreams Weaver
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Mushroom Barley Soup

I absolutely love the hearty taste of mushroom barley soup. It was on the table for many dinners in my house growing up. I had always thought it was difficult and time consuming to make. Boy was I wrong! 

The whole process is all done in the same pot! Yay for me, less dishes to wash too! 
The Dreams Weaver~ Mushroom Barley Soup
What you will need:
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup diced carrots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup barley
salt and pepper to taste
The Dreams Weaver~ Mushroom Barley Soup
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic; cook and stir until onions are tender and transparent.
The Dreams Weaver~ Mushroom Barley Soup
Stir in mushrooms and continue to cook for a few minutes.

The Dreams Weaver~ Mushroom Barley Soup
Pour in the chicken broth and add barley. 

The Dreams Weaver~ Mushroom Barley Soup
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until barley is tender, about 50 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

The Dreams Weaver~ Mushroom Barley Soup
Enjoy!


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fruit-Infused Vodka


Making your own fruit-flavored vodkas is the best way to preserve the season and take advantage of the abundance of fruit! This is the perfect way to preserve your left over fruit when you got just too much of it! {or picked too many!}  

You can create single fruit-infused vodkas, or come up with a concoction of multiple fruit flavors. The possibilities are endless!  

You don't need to get a fancy vodka for this. The fruit becomes the dominant flavor, so use a basic not too-expensive bottle.  

Fruit-Infused Vodka~ The Dreams Weaver

What you will need: 
2 cups chopped fruit, a single fruit or a mix of fruits  
2 to 3 cups vodka  
1 quart canning jar or other container with lid  
Strainer  
Measuring cup  
Small funnel 
Fruit-Infused Vodka~ The Dreams Weaver
The first step is to prepare the fruit to be infused. Wash and pat the fruit dry. Chop the fruit into small pieces, trimming away any stems or other inedibles. Peels can be left on or peeled off. 

Fruit-Infused Vodka~ The Dreams Weaver

Transfer all the fruit to the canning jar and pour the vodka over the fruit. Use enough to completely cover the fruit and fill the jar, about 2 to 3 cups in a 1-quart jar. Seal the jar tightly and put it somewhere out of direct sunlight.  

Fruit-Infused Vodka~ The Dreams Weaver

Next, infuse for 3 to 5 days. Make sure to shake the jar of fruit and vodka daily. You'll see the vodka gradually take on the color of the fruit. Taste it after 3 days and continue infusing to your liking. Most fruit vodkas are finished in 3 to 5 days, but you can continue infusing the vodka for longer.  

Next, we need to strain the fruit vodka. When the vodka has been infused, separate the fruit and the vodka by straining it into a measuring cup. If your fruit had a lot of seeds or sediment, line the strainer with cheesecloth before straining. Discard the fruit after straining, or you can freeze them and use as garnish in a cocktail! 

Fruit-Infused Vodka~ The Dreams Weaver

 Lastly, you need to transfer the fruit-infused vodka into a bottle. Pour the vodka into clean glass bottles and store out of direct sunlight. 
Fruit-Infused Vodka~ The Dreams Weaver

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Watermelon Hack: Cutting for Clean Eating

I have been a little MIA in blogland recently. But, that just means I have an overflow of unpublished posts!

What a better way to ring in Summer than with a hack to better your watermelon eating? 

Watermelon Hack: Cutting for Clen Eating~ The Dreams Weaver

Where has this been all my life? It seriously reduces watermelon drippage all over the place, and myself!

First, cut off a small circle on the bottom of your watermelon, but not too deep. This will provide a flat bottom so that you can cut your watermelon in half.

Watermelon Hack: Cutting for Clen Eating~ The Dreams Weaver

Next, cut slices across the watermelon.

Watermelon Hack: Cutting for Clen Eating~ The Dreams Weaver

Then, just turn your watermelon 180 and cut slices in the other direction.

Watermelon Hack: Cutting for Clen Eating~ The Dreams Weaver

Now, you're left with square cuts. Just pull out one of the squares, insta-watermelon popsicle! Less mess all over your face. Plus, you can soak your popsicles in vodka (or your alcohol of choice) and freeze them for a great Summer treat!
Watermelon Hack: Cutting for Clen Eating~ The Dreams Weaver
Enjoy!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Flawless Kale Chips

I’ve suffered through one too many batches of burned or soggy kale chips. It took me a while to master my baked kale chip recipe, but I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way and I’d like to pass my tips along to you! 

You want a balance between crispiness and chewiness, without tasting burned. When baked properly, they really do make the perfect base for a satisfying chip alternative. They are also a super food and have many health benefits.

With these few easy techniques you’ll be well on your way to kale chip heaven. No dehydrator required!
Flawless Kale Chips~ The Dreams Weaver
What you will need:
Kale
Olive oil
Sea salt or other seasonings (optional) 

1. Remove the stems and tear leaves into large pieces. Remove the stems very quickly by grabbing the base of the stem with one hand and pushing outwards along the stem to slide off the leaves.
 
2. Wash and thoroughly dry the leaves before beginning. If the leaves aren’t properly dried, the water can “steam” the kale chips while baking and lead to the dreaded soggy kale chip. Be sure they are nice and dry before you add in the oil.

3. Don’t skimp the oil, but don’t drench it in oil either A little bit of extra virgin olive oil goes a long way. I like to use ½ TBSP. of oil per baking sheet of kale chips. Rub the oil into the leaves to ensure all of the leaves are coated. Oil also helps the spices stick to the leaves. 

4. Spread kale into a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Be sure to rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking. 

5. It’s all about the low-heat for even baking. It takes a bit longer to bake, but I can assure you it’s worth it because you don’t get any burnt pieces. The goal is to crisp the kale, not scorch it into little black burnt pieces! In my oven, I bake at 300 for 10 minutes, then I rotate the pan, and bake for another 15 minutes.

6. Cool for just a few minutes on the baking sheet. This allows the kale chips to crisp up even more once they are out of the oven. 


Enjoy!


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Friday, January 16, 2015

Swirled Sugar Cookies


I use my basic sugar cookie recipe to make all sorts of treats.  From football sugar cookies, to heart-shaped sugar cookies, to swirled, it’s a great recipe to have on hand and modify to suit your needs.  Follow along for a quick tutorial on making these colorful swirled cookies using this sugar cookie recipe for the dough (and baking instructions), sure to please all your sweet tooth needs!
Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Make up a batch of sugar cookie dough, divide and place into 2 separate bowls. 
Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Knead food coloring into one of the parts of dough.  I made one half aqua and left the other half as is.  Chill the dough in the fridge for an hour or even overnight.
Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough separately to about 1/4" thickness.
Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Apply a little water to the colored layer of dough to help the layers stick together. Lay the uncolored dough on top of the darker colored layer of dough.  

Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Trim the edges so you end up with a neat rectangle.

Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Save the scraps!  You can still bake the scraps up into yummy cookies!  They’ll just look ‘marbled’.

Start rolling your dough gently from one of the wider ends, brushing water on the dough as you roll it up.  Once it’s rolled up, you can work the log to even it out if the middle is thicker then the ends, and to even out any gaps.

Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Pour out some sprinkles, brush the outside of the log more water and roll it in the sprinkles.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for an hour, or stick in the fridge for a couple hours.

Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Once chilled, slice the dough with a sharp, thin blade into 1/4" rounds.
Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Bake according to recipe directions.  Voila!  Pretty, swirly cookies!
Swirled Sugar Cookies~ The Dreams Weaver
Enjoy!

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