Cricut

Cricut Access Challenge: Red Envelopes for Chinese New Year

Every year since MO (my son) has been in school, I have sent along little gifts to his classmates for all the holidays, including ones that most Americans don’t celebrate.

Actually, I especially like to send things for the smaller American holidays, like Chinese New Year.  It’s unexpected and fun!

Chinese New Year–also known as the Lunar New Year–is an annual holiday celebrated by millions of people and is chock full of wonderful traditions. One of the most prominent traditions is the giving of Red Envelopes.

One of my favorite traditions from Chinese New Year is these cute envelopes!

Red Envelopes usually contain money, but I’ve always slipped chocolate coins (usually left over from Christmas stockings!) in them.

My version of Red Envelopes uses plain red card stock and uses Cricut gold markers to draw traditional Chinese symbols for Prosperity, Happiness, Peace and Love on them.

This is a quick and easy to make Cricut project that you will want to make a lot of!

Because this Design Space file has six different symboled envelopes–which all fit on one sheet of 12″ x 12″ paper–it’s easy to churn out a dozen or so of these adorable little envelopes. All you have to do is glue the edges and stuff them with the chocolate coins.

How fun is that?

Here’s the Pinterest link to this project:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/273030796146112058/

Here’s the Design Space file:     https://design.cricut.com/#/design/127066857

“Go forth and Cricut, my friends!”

Best always,

Miss Rita

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on one of my links and buy something I will receive a small commission from your purchase. Thank you for using my links as this is how I support myself and keep MO in pickles and Ted E. Bear in chew toys–they both are insatiable!

But seriously….I do so appreciate your continued support!

Here is my affiliate link:  https://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=327204&m=51766&u=1089398

Remember if your order exceeds $50 and you use my code MISSRITA1 and link, you will receive an extra 10% off and free shipping on most items!  My code will *not* work for Access Subscriptions or machines (anything that plugs in).

 

 

Cricut

Cricut Access Challenge: Cupid Wall Hanging

Cupid Decoration
Cupid Decoration

I am a child of the 70’s and, as such, I have a weird attachment to cutesy wall decorations.  Let me explain.

Most of the time, we “celebrated” all of the major and minor holidays with cheap paper decorations taped to our door or windows and that was enough for us.  Nowadays it seems everyone has to have full on art installations for every holiday…or, worse yet, hang nothing to celebrate.

Guess that makes me “vintage” or “old school”.  And, well, you can call me anything you like–as long as I get to hang my cutesy paper decorations of yesteryear!

Today’s Cricut Access Challenge harkens back to my old-timey decorations and is quick, easy and adorable, because it uses Cricut’s “Print Then Cut” feature.

Have you tried “Print Then Cut” yet?

“Print Then Cut” is exactly what it sounds like–you print images from your printer and then you use your Cricut to cut it out precisely.

It’s really simple to use and yields incredible results!

And here’s the fun part–the original image doesn’t have to be a printable image, because you have the ability to make any Cricut image “printable” with one easy step.

That’s right!  ALL of Cricut’s images can be manipulated to make them ready to print on your home printer and cut as a single image.  And it’s SO easy to do!

 

For today’s project we are going to be using this adorable cartoon Cupid from the Seasonal Characters image set.   This small image set also offers an Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, a Leprechaun and even Mother Earth and the good news is they will all work exactly like this Cupid does.  Bonus!

Seasonal Characters Image Set
Seasonal Characters Image Set

 

Once you’ve located the image and placed it on your canvas, you can size it to whatever size you want.  For my example, I wanted something big enough to show up on a door, so I sized it to 9 inches high.

Once you’ve adjusted the size, highlight the image.  When it is highlighted, you can see there are seven layers to this image, all of which are set to Cut/Print, which means that each layer will print and cut separately.  This is a useful function, but NOT what we want, so we need to meld all the layers into just one layer; we do this by using the Flatten tool, which is on the bottom right corner of your canvas.

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 10.12.35 am

Once you’ve flattened an image, it will print as ONE layer!  When you go to Make It, you will see that you flattened it correctly.  Here’s what your screen should look like:

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 10.17.45 am

Then…from there it’s simple!  Just print it, put it on your mat and cut it! So easy and fun and also sure to assuage your vintage upbringing!

Here’s the Pinterest link:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/273030796146099104/

And here’s the Design Space file in Cricut Community:  https://design.cricut.com/#/design/126389997

 

“Go forth and Cricut, my friends!”

Best always,

Miss Rita

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on one of my links and buy something I will receive a small commission from your purchase. Thank you for using my links as this is how I support myself and keep MO in pickles and Ted E. Bear in chew toys–they both are insatiable!

But seriously….I do so appreciate your continued support!

Here is my affiliate link:  https://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=327204&m=51766&u=1089398

Remember if your order exceeds $50 and you use my code MISSRITA1 and link, you will receive an extra 10% off and free shipping on most items!  My code will *not* work for Access Subscriptions or machines (anything that plugs in).

 

Christmas · DIY · recipe

Pizzelle: Auntie’s Italian Cookies

If you come from an Italian-American family, I have no doubt you had one auntie who seemed to be “in charge” of making the pizzelle for all the family gatherings. I’m pretty sure that’s because pizzelle makers were a bit expensive and therefore hard to justify as a purchase in more than one household.

In our family, my Auntie Elisa was the pizzelle maker.

Every family gathering and holiday Auntie Elisa would place a plate of gorgeous snowflake shaped cookies–complete with the distinctive aroma of anise–on the table for enjoying with coffee and company. Admittedly, I was completely enamored of pizzelle as a kid and I guess I still am today.

Sadly, when my father passed away in 2011, it became too difficult to continue our extended family gatherings and my annual pizzelle consumption took a dramatic nose dive.

Last year, I was ecstatic to find some authentic pizzelle in Costco and I remember bringing a small package to my Auntie Anna’s hospital bed. Her son and my cousin, Ricky, went on and on about them and it reminded me of the annual family gatherings we all attended. How I have missed those times.

Last year I lost two of my favorite aunties–Auntie Mary and Auntie Anna–and their passing has had a profound effect on my thoughts about family, home keeping and love ever since.

So, despite suffering from a serious knee injury this Christmas, I was determined to reinstitute some old family traditions and one of them was making the delicate, snowflake-like cookies that are called pizzelle.

Luckily I had procured a pizzelle maker some time ago; it was still new in its box and hanging out among my many Christmas decorations. Unfortunately if there were instructions, they were long gone, so it was up to me to figure out how to use it. Thankfully there is the internet and I cobbled together an updated recipe for chocolate pizzelle and set to testing out my maker.

If you can get your hands on an authentic pizzelle maker, I would urge you to try. There is nothing like a freshly made pizzelle! When they emerge from the iron, they are very pliable…but you only have a few seconds to shape them. It’s a fun challenge.

Obviously they can be enjoyed on their own with a fresh cup of coffee…but they are also excellent vehicles for a little extra something if you can work fast enough!

You can roll them like cannoli shells and fill them with homemade whipped cream. Or you can shape them into bowls and add a scoop of gelato! They could even be folded like a taco shell and stuffed with berries and cream!

And, obviously, they can be enjoyed plain, too!

So here’s my take on a Chocolate Pizzelle for you to enjoy. You’ll notice that they don’t have the traditional anise flavoring (or any flavoring!), but you can add it if you’d like. Orange or peppermint flavoring would taste especially good

Chocolate Pizzelle:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (I like King Arthur)
  • 1/4 CUP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar, no lumps
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I prefer unsalted butter in my baking, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can substitute regular butter and adjust the salt in the recipe)
  • Water to adjust the thickness of your batter

If you are a purist and want to make your pizzelle the “old fashioned way” the ingredients are much the same

Classic Pizzelle:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, no lumps
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • Stick of melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. anise extract (you can substitute almond or even vanilla extract, but anise is the most traditional)
  • Water to adjust thickness of your batter

A few hints:

  • It’s important you start with the right consistency batter, so after mixing all the ingredients slowly add water until you get a thick batter….you don’t want it too watery
  • Heat up your iron thoroughly and then spray with cooking spray so your cookies won’t stick
  • Don’t use too much batter for each cookie! I used a standard table spoon and put the batter in the middle of both cookie Wells
  • You should stay with your cookies as they are cooking! They only take about two minutes and you CAN definitely over cook these. When you open the iron, the cookies will be pliable. You will learn as you go…it’s like pancakes!
  • The cookies will remain pliable once removed from the iron, but not for long! Seriously…like ONLY a few seconds. So if you want to shape them, have your tools–little bowls, medium sized rolling pin, funnel–ready BEFORE you take out the hot cookies
  • The iron gets hot…BUT (unfortunately) the best way to remove the cooked pizzelle is with your hands…another reason to work quickly
  • Only add one teaspoon of extract to this recipe and only if you want to! Pizzelle are not suppose to be super sweet, but subtle. The chocolate flavoring really came through without any extract and was made for a very nice “adult” cookie (therefore MO shunned them! Haha!)
  • It’s traditional to dust pizzelle with confectioners sugar, but it’s not necessary…they shouldn’t stick together
  • Store your cookies in airtight containers or zippy bags and they will last for several days!

I hope you enjoy my recipes! And if you have an Auntie, give her a call! She is always happy to hear from you!

Please note: When I started my blog, I didn’t realize I would be sharing so many recipes. I am now in the process of figuring out how to make my recipes printable, so please bear with me until I can figure that out!

Christmas · recipe

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Here’s a quick and easy Christmas treat that won’t break the bank like Scallops Wrapped in Bacon and could possibly be even yummier, too!

So simple!

Four ingredients: soy sauce, water chestnuts (whole), brown sugar and bacon (I like the maple flavored kind)!

Soak the drained water chestnuts in soy sauce for at least an hour. Drain and roll them in brown sugar. Wrap each one in a half slice of bacon. Place in an 8″ x 8″ pan…not touching. Bake for 45 minutes in a 375 degree preheated oven.

If you use maple bacon, it smells terrific!! These are quite addictive, too!

Merry Christmas to all!!

DIY · life

Potato Pancakes for Hanukkah

I’ll start off by saying, I am not Jewish and I don’t even like making potatoes. But in honor of my friend, Mark Titelbaum–who does celebrate the Festival of Lights (which begins tonight!)–I unfroze my leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and whipped up my version of potato pancakes (aka latkes).

Mark might disagree, but I happen to like my version, because they are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Being a somewhat old-fashioned dude, Mark informed me that fresh potatoes are best. Only I didn’t have any fresh potatoes. Luckily I did freeze the mounds of leftover mashed potatoes I had from Thanksgiving.

My defrosted potatoes were prepared with butter, milk, a smidge of cream cheese and salt and pepper. If you want to duplicate my latke recipe, just reserve some leftover mashed potatoes in your freezer as I did. Otherwise I suppose you could use prepared mashed potatoes often found in the market this time of year. Or start from scratch.

Combine the previously mashed potatoes–whichever kind you have, of course–with some flour, and egg, salt and pepper and some browned, chopped onion and garlic. Your “batter” will look like egg salad and be fairly firm. So sort of like this:

Now I’m not going to give you measurements, because it sort of depends on the potatoes you start with. Drier mashed potatoes might need an extra egg. Looser potatoes might benefit from a bit more flour. So you’ll need to eye-ball it a bit.

You’re looking for a thick but gooey mixture that will hold be firm when you go to fry them up…see how these hold their shape?

I know…they still look like mounds of egg salad…but they won’t soon I promise!

In a large skillet, heat some olive oil and then spoon three (or four, if you can fit four) big globs of your mixture in. Flatten them slightly with a spatula.

When the bottom is browned and crispy, turn them over and brown the other side. If your skillet is hot, this will go pretty fast and you can expect something like this:

After you flip them, make sure to flatten them down so the inside is about maybe a 1/2 inch thick. We’re going for a browned, crispy latke with a warm, creamy center…much like the next photo here:

And all that’s left is serving! I enjoy my latkes with sour cream:

So delicious!

Enjoy the Festival of Lights, my friends!

Oh…and Mark! I hope these meet with your approval!