Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fool 'Em, April!

My son and I spent some quality fun time together in the kitchen the other day whipping up these adorable hamburger cookies for his preschool snack.  He wasn't so sure at first about the outcome especially with the word "hamburger" in the name, but when he checked out the ingredients, he became intrigued.

I have been making these hamburger cookies for nearly 20 years.  (EEK!  Really?)  So long, in fact, that I have no idea from where the original recipe came.    They were the traditional dress rehearsal dessert when I was doing musicals in college.  Everyone expected me to bring them,and that was that.

Here is a fun, completely un-healthy snack, that won't fool anyone, but is cute just the same:

Hamburger Cookies

makes about 40 cookies
  • 1 box vanilla wafers (you will need two boxes if you want very neat buns)
  • 1 package fudge mint cookies (such as Grasshopper cookies)
  • 1 - 12 oz container vanilla frosting
  • shredded coconut
  • honey
  • sesame seeds (I found them very easily in my cupboard thanks to this.)
  • food coloring
You will also need some small sandwich bags, a quart-sized Ziploc bag, and a food-safe paint brush.

Fill the quart-sized bag about half full with coconut, and squirt in some green food coloring.  More food coloring will make the "lettuce" a deeper green.  SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE!

Divide the frosting container into thirds.  Color 1/3 yellow, color 1/3 red, and leave the last 1/3 white.  This makes the "mayo," "mustard," and "ketchup."  Put the frosting condiments into the sandwich bags.  Snip a small corner off of each to make a rudimentary pastry bag.  Put the frosting into the refrigerator to keep cool while you are working on the buns.  Take one condiment out at a time.  You can apply the condiments with an offset spatula, but it takes a whole lot longer. 

You will have more frosting than you need for 40 cookies.  Get two boxes of each type of cookie and you will have enough frosting to make about 50 cookies. 

We used the whole bottle of liquid food coloring to get the deeply-colored condiments.  Paste food coloring could also be used. 
The pastry bags

Sort through the vanilla wafers and remove the broken cookies.  Set out the best ones flat side down on a clean towel or piece of parchment.  Squeeze about 2 tablespoons of honey into a portion cup.  Use the paintbrush to paint the honey on the top of the vanilla wafer to glue on the sesame seeds.  
You can warm the honey to make it spread more easily, but it is not necessary.

Dip the vanilla wafer honey side down into a bowl containing the sesame seeds.  

This is a perfect job for little hands!

Choose a condiment to attach the lettuce to the top bun.  Attaching the lettuce to the top bun makes the finished cookie more stable.  

We chose ketchup!

Use the same dip method that was used for the sesame seeds to attach the lettuce.  

Set the buns lettuce side up back on the towel and set aside while you are preparing the bottom buns.  

Chose another condiment to attach the "burger" to the bottom bun. 

Here is the mayo!
Use the last condiment to attach the bottom bun sections to the top buns.  

Here is the mustard!

Be generous with the condiments so they squish out the side a little.
Place the hamburgers sesame seed side up.



Here is your finished product.  

Do you see all of the condiments?
How cute is that!

Store them in an airtight container layered between sheets of waxed paper or parchment in the refrigerator.  

Most of all, have fun!

If you would like a printable recipe, send me an e-mail (found in the Contact Me page) and I will send one to you.

See the fabulously crazy linky parties I link up to here!

This recipe and other awesome projects were featured on the April 8th edition "Crush of the Week" at Flamingo Toes here!


Monday, March 28, 2011

I am SO Hooked Up!

I'm sure you have heard the old adage: "A place for everything, and everything in its place."  It is so true.  I know when I have a good organization system in place somewhere in my home because that location does not get untidy.  My laundry cupboard is such a place. 

I organized this cupboard five years ago, and it has stayed neat ever since.  There is a place for everything that I need.  There is some space for back-up items.  I can easily find everything quickly, and I can rotate items into use without difficulty. 

Such is my desire for my master bedroom closet.  Before we moved into this house, I knew that all of the closets were trouble.  As is the case with most tract homes, the closets were equipped with a single shelf and clothes bar.  SHEESH!  Who can do any organizing with that?  I couldn't.  We immediately added extra shelving and more clothes rods throughout the house.

My master closet is not bad, but I am always looking to utilize the space in such a way as to allow our things to stay tidy.  This space has always been annoying to me.  The ties stay nicely clipped on the hangers, but the belts often fall into an unsightly heap on the floor (usually helped along their way from a small tug from my children, or gravity, or the air conditioner, or whatever...) 

I am annoyed every time I come into my closet and find one (or many) of those serpentine piles lying on the floor.  To solve this problem, I needed something that would support the weight of the belts.  Hooks were the answer.  I went to Lowe's and picked up a couple of packages of two-pronged hooks. I ( really my dad) attached them to the end of this shelf using an electric screwdriver.  Here is the finished shelf:

My husband's belt is still hanging the old way, not anymore!
These hooks are great!  I have found no strange snake-like belt piles on the floor since this quick, easy installation.  This project cost less than $10, took less than 10 minutes, and has cured a bothersome clutter spot away for good.  Look around.  Where can a few well-placed hooks clean up the crazy from your home?  The other closets are next...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pucker Up!

Who does not love a tall, cold glass of lemonade?  No one!  (Well, actually I'm sure there are lots, but I don't know any.)  Well, here is the story...   My husband and I used to frequent a wonderful middle eastern restaurant near our home.  The restaurant was owned by a family.  I loved several of their dishes, but they had the most delicious lemonade that I would crave.  Later, the family sold the restaurant to others, and soon after that, it closed and now sells pancakes.  I have missed that lemonade terribly and have searched for a way to recreate it ever since.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  We visited a middle eastern restaurant in Tempe with an attached grocery store, Haji Baba.  While we walked through the aisles of the grocery store before lunch, I found the secret ingredient that made the lemonade of my memory so delicious! 
You can find is several places online, but at My Lebanese Grocer it was the least expensive.
Alrighty then, here is the recipe for the best lemonade you will ever taste!


This is not a sweet lemonade.  It is definitely tart.  You can always add more sugar to sweeten it up, but tart is how I like it.  

Orange Blossom Lemonade

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (DO NOT use bottled, YUCK!)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 oz orange blossom water (2 tablespoons)
7 cups water

Add all ingredients to a large pitcher and mix with a balloon whisk.  Pour over ice.  Enjoy!

In the above picture, I want to point out a few interesting gadgets.  

First is the balloon whisk.  A balloon whisk does a great job of agitating whatever liquid you are stirring.  (See the froth on top of the lemonade.)  This model is made by OXO and is my favorite.  

Next you will see this strange measuring apparatus here with the orange blossom water. 

This is a small, plungered measuring cup that measures up to one ounce of liquid.  It is especially good for measuring things like peanut butter, shortening, or butter, but is great for liquids too.  The plunger scrapes all of the product out of the tube to give you a true measure.  I also have a 1-cup size and a 2-cup size.  They are my favorite measuring cups for sticky things.  (Thanks, Alton Brown for introducing them to me!)  I got mine from King Arthur Flour.

Here is a tip for freezing liquids.

We bought a large box of lemons from a local grower and juiced them all that same day using my trusty wooden reamer (mostly my husband).  We packaged the lemon juice in quart-sized Ziploc bags (4 cups). 
We put the bags of lemon juice in a second bag labeled with the day's date.  You can see the second bag in the picture.  Double bagging helps to keep the first bag from leaking while you are defrosting the liquid.  This works for all types of liquid, soup, spaghetti sauce, etc. 

The date is on the other bag.  You can see the date in the above picture. 

Also, I believe Haji Baba's lemonade uses rose water instead of orange blossom water.  That was delicious too so we bought a bottle of that to try as well.  

Try some of this delectable lemonade.  I'm drinking some now!

I am linking up to these and other great link parties!  To see a complete list, click on the Linky Party button at the top of the page!

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Flower Power

This wreath simply shouts "Welcome to Spring!"  With its big fabric flowers and jaunty little bow, it helps to usher in the three days of "spring" that we get here in Arizona.  (That isn't a fair statement, but our skin-searingly hot weather is right around the corner.)

I got my inspiration to create this wreath around Christmas time.  We had a craft day at church and someone had designed a wreath like this using Christmas fabric.  The simple design was a set of three concentric circles with a small brad in the middle and a bow at the top around a grapevine wreath.  I modified the Christmas design (which I have not finished yet)  in the following ways:

I changed the circles to flower shapes.
I used larger brads in three sizes, the largest were 1" in diameter.
I added a leaf shape to compliment the flower shape.
I placed my flowers on an 18" diameter wicker wreath.

 Here are the directions for making your own Flower Power Wreath:

  • 18" wicker wreath ($1.00 @ the dollar store)
  • 10 different fabrics for flowers (I purchased 1/3 of a yard of each.)
  • 1 coordinating fabric for leaves ( I used a remnant, but I think you'll need about 1/2 a yard.)
Here is the fabric formula for the flowers:
1 chenille, 3 felt, 2 gingham, 1 polka-dot, and 3 prints
(I did not follow this formula with mine. I used 2 chenille, 2 felt, 1 polka-dot, 2 stripes, 2 prints, and 1 solid.)
  • 60 brads (They can be different colors, shapes, or sizes.  There are buttons in the picture, but I chose not to use them.)
  • 1 1/2 yards of ribbon (double-sided)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks (I needed 5)
  • Flower patterns
I made the patterns for the flowers by choosing some clip art shapes that I liked and then sized them to what I wanted. I printed them out and then cut them out of craft foam.

I don't think I liked the foam patterns that much.  They tended to slip around a lot.  I would suggest making the patterns out of felt or chipboard like these:
These are for an upcoming project.  The chipboard was again recycled from here.

Next cut your shapes.  I used pinking shears on the leaves and small center circle of the flowers.  I used regular scissors for the other shapes.  I could cut several shapes at a time with the thinner fabric, but I had to cut one at a time with the felt and chenille.  You don't have to be extremely precise when you are cutting because the finished wreath is intended to have a haphazard quality about it.

Here is a quick lesson on pinking shears.  

I have a gentleman that comes to my fabric store once a month to sharpen scissors and knives.  I brought him my truly pathetic pinking shears that I have had since I was about 10 years old.  They did more squeezing the fabric out of shape that cutting.  I thought that they just needed to be sharpened.  He took one look at them and told me that there was nothing that he could do to make them better.  They were poorly constructed.  He told me that I needed to spend at least $45 on a good pair of pinking shears and that even then, I was not guaranteed to have a good set.  I guess they are very difficult to manufacture.  He suggested that quality brands are Gingher and Wiss.  Then he said to test them immediately and bring them back if they don't work.  (I got a set of Gingher pinking shears for Christmas, and they work beautifully.)

Okay, back to the project at hand.  It took me several days to finish all of the cutting, but that is because I have a toddler who is potty training.  You could get it done much faster.  I kept the shapes separated by color in sandwich bags to keep them clean and organized until I was finished with all of the cutting.

There is my helper's leg.
Now it is time to assemble the flowers.  I began by laying all of the large flowers out on the floor.  (You can use the table, but I like the floor.)  Place all of the medium shapes on top of them...  

And the smallest shapes on the top of them.
Don't repeat colors throughout the flowers.  You can see that no two flowers are the same.

You can see the three different sizes I used.

Lay out the brads on top of the flowers. I used the largest brads on the thickest flowers (felt and chenille).

Add a leaf to the flower, and use scissors to punch holes through all four layers of fabric.  Use a cutting mat for safety and to protect your carpet.  (The white bumpy chenille was very difficult to punch through.)

I used my very sharp scissors.

Push the brad through the hole and open the prongs to secure the flower together. 

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
To finish your wreath, set out your piles of flowers, ribbon, glue gun, and extra glue sticks.  I kept the flowers grouped by the color of the largest flower. 

Slather a generous amount of hot glue on the backs of your flowers and stick them to the wreath.
Sorry for the blur.  If this looks clear to you, see an eye doctor!

I began at one point and then worked out from both sides.  I made sure that no two large flowers had the same pattern next to one another.  Place the flowers close together so that they have a bunchy three-dimensional look.

Tie a simple bow or a fancy one.  Hang up your project and admire your work.

Light off.
Light on.  There is the head of my helper.
Love it!

This would look great on my door, but I decided to hang it from my sconce at the last minute.  Whatever, it is versatile.  Have fun making your own Flower Power Wreath and bringing spring into your home!

I am linking up to Quilt Story and other great parties!  Click here to see a complete list.

The Lettered Cottage




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