Masquerade Mask

Ah….masquerade balls or costume parties could be fun, right? But what do you do if you have glasses? Paint the glasses? Glue a mask onto the glasses? Fit something to glasses? The usual custom curved masks templates don’t work well because they can’t fit with the glasses.

Actually, website had a good method. However, I found that cutting through cardboard got dicey when I just had scissors, so I ended up going with a mask on a stick. But I did use her method of tracing out the glasses.

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First attempt at tracing glasses shape on paper and then cutting out holes for the eyes and smaller holes to loop onto the glasses. This is Bunny’s website’s method. Because it was paper, I could just fold in half to get the outer outlines even on both sides :). Unfortunately, because of the side glasses holes, It looked like i couldn’t actually do a mask with smooth pointy edges. This sort of looks like an Owl, doesn’t it?

 

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This is a satin template mask I bought. However, it still didn’t work with glasses, so I was just goofing with possible designs. I decided to use an unsharpened pencil as the mask “stick”.

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So, I cut out the mask shape (loosely based on the paper cut out I had before and the satin mask in order to get symmetrical lines) . I did this for cardboard and black cardstock. Then I glued the black cardstock onto the cardboard. Every time I made the eyes holes, they got smaller because I was tracing off each cut out…haha.

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Then, I tried to plan the mask. Sequins seems good on the outside, but what to do for the rest?

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So, I used Elmer’s All Purpose glue on the sequins and waited. Then, I started using gold glitter glue to google on the mask.

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All done glitter glue doodling!

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I used a glue gun to glue the black gem and feathers to the top of the mask. Then I wrapped black ribbon around an unsharpened pencil, glue gunned the ends, and then glue-gunned the pencil/ribbon to the back of the mask. I would recommend glue-gunning the ribbon to the pencil in the top, bottom, and middle. I didn’t glue-gun the middle, so the ribbon came loose after the event this mask was used for. But anyway, if you want to make your own mask with just cardboard, glue, and random stuff, here you go!

 

Carroty for Easter

…or when you buy a giant bag of mini carrots at Costco and realize you need to start getting creative with what to do.

My sibling found a random recipe and wanted me to try it, so this recipe is from Food network. I made some modifications such as cutting down the sugar as usual. This is my first time making carrot cake. I should have tried one of the carrot recipes from the other blogs I’ve read, but since this recipe was shoved in front of me, I worked with it. No, Food network’s recipe does not take 25 hours like it says it does.

 

3 Layer Carrot Cake

 

Cake Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups avocado oil
  • 4 fresh whole eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice (a mix of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg)
  • 3 cups raw shredded or diced carrots
  • 4 ounces chopped walnuts(or just break them by hand and mash them up with a wooden spatula)

Icing Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar (you can prob use less like 3.5 cups)
  • 12 ounces room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces room temperature butter

Steps for Making Cake/Icing

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 300 F.
  • Mix sugar, oil, eggs in one bowl.
  • If you’re lazy like I was, instead of separately mixing the dry ingredients in a different bowl, you can just slowly start mixing the dry ingredients in afterwards. I did the salt, pumpkin spice, salt first. Then, I started slowly stirring in the flour.
  • Mix in carrots and then nuts.
  • Cutting the carrots and shredding them took by far the most time.
  • Now, you need to split the batter between three 9 inch circular pans, or you can use other containers and not do 3 layers too. I used 2 metal circular pans and 1 silicone one. I used all of them, and at the end the silicone one was the easiest to get the baked cake out.
  • Bake 50 to 60 minutes.
  • Cool pans and cake layers.
  • During this time, you might as well do the icing!

Icing

  • Mix powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and butter. Beat until thoroughly blended. Hold refrigerated and use as needed.
  • Note: When you are beating, be careful! I used a hand mixer, and it started to smell like my motor was burning out! This mixture can be dense. You need the mixer in order to get all that sugar blended into the rest of the ingredients. Take it slow and let the mixer rest so you don’t kill it.

 

Combining Cake and Icing!

  • Ok, now you can invert one cake layer from its pan in order to get it out. If you can’t get it out, start eding along the side of the pan with a thin flexible spatula. I cracked the two layers I made in the metal tins…sooo my cake looks a little crumbly in the picture above.
  • So, once you put down the one layer, ice the top of it.
  • Then put down another layer, and ice the top of that. Repeat with third layer.
  • You will still have icing left over. You can use the rest to ice the sides of the cake. I was lazy, so I didn’t do that.
  • Since the icing has cream cheese and butter, store the cake in the fridge when you’re not going to eat it. I put mine in a Wilton cake carrier because it has the snap ons to “Seal” the cake inside.

 

Enjoy! Happy early Easter!

 

 

The Turkey Struggle

About a week before Thanksgiving, I found out that my parents, despite not really wanting a turkey, had bought a turkey…the smallest one they could find. It was still a 10 pound Butterball though… We haven’t made turkey in the family for years and may have only done it once. So, my brother decided to take it upon himself to find a recipe, him being the one in the family who doesn’t know how to cook and literally just tosses meat in the oven, drizzles it with sauce, and waits while hoping the oven doesn’t blow up. That’s about the extent of his cooking.

So, here’s what he found: Link to Recipe Base

And well, we followed that recipe as closely as we could, and this is what we did based on the ingredients we could find and our limited pot sizes(Did not know that turkeys are this big and wasn’t prepared to make turkey…so our biggest pots were…not big enough to pull off the original recipe). We couldn’t find peppercorns and berries at the grocery store nearby, so we just improvised and use Pumpkin pie spice. .and how come we met a bunch of coworkers all shopping in that same grocery store for supplies at like 8-9pm at night? Guess some grocery stores can be hang outs/places to go “Oops…we need food for Thanksgiving”.

Ingredients:

  • 1o pound thawed turkey (instead of original recipe’s 14-16 pound)
  • Avocado oil (but any oil that can survive 500 F is good. The original recipe said canola is fine.)

Brine:

  • 1/2 cup salt (instead of original recipe’s 1 cup)
  • About 1/4 cup brown sugar(instead of original recipe’s 1/2 cup)
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (instead of original recipe’s 1 gallon)
  • About 5 or so shakings from a McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice(mix of cinnamon, ginger nutmeg, allspice)(instead of original recipe’s 1 TBSP black peppercorn, 1.5 TSP Allspice berries, 1.5TSP chopped candied ginger, and 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 2-3 quarts iced water (guestimating since we did it based on how much our container could hold)(instead of original recipe’s 1 gallon)

Stuff to put inside Turkey/Aromatics 

  • 1 sliced apple (we used Fuji, original says red)
  • 1/2 sliced onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 sprigs rosemary (instead of original recipe’s 4)
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Stuffing(optional)

Steps

Making Da Brine:

  • The night before roasting the turkey…. find a pot. Then add the veggie stock, brown sugar, salt, spice in the pot over medium heat. Stir and boil.  (We didn’t have a 5 gallon bucket. Our biggest container was a mixing bowl that would hold 2 gallons, but that couldn’t go on the stove…which is required…sooo we used a smaller pot and halved the ingredients from the original recipe.)
  • Let it cool and then refrigerate it.

Prepping the Turkey

  • Your turkey should be thawed already.  Remove all the inside stuff. Usually, if store bought, there is a white pouch which contain the innards and there may also be a neck in there. We tossed those out. The white pouch looked weird under the skin, but it was stuck by the hole where the neck would have been if the turkey neck wasn’t chopped.
  • Prep some iced water. We just ran some filtered water into our 2 gal mixing bowl and added ice. It was the biggest container we had.
  • Next, combine the brine and iced water(water with ice) in that mixing bowl/container. Rather, put the turkey into that container first and then add the brine, so you don’t overflow the container. We probably used less iced water because I dumped the ice out to get the turkey to the bottom.  Make sure to pour some of that brine inside the turkey cavity if you can’t submerge the whole turkey…we couldn’t get it to fit.

Turkey Brine

  • Push it down as far as you can and then put the whole thing in the fridge. The idea is for the salty brine to trick the turkey into absorbing more water, so the turkey won’t dry out while roasting in the oven. We put some plastic wrap so the turkey wouldn’t be exposed to air, and so the brine wouldn’t affect anything else. Be careful, this mixture is heavy…turkey plus liquid! Could be a good weights workout if it wasn’t so dangerous to drop! We put the turkey in the fridge at 11:30pm Wednesday night.

Turkey Brine in Fridge

  •  So, here’s where having a night owl comes in handy. After a couple hours, you’ll want to flip the turkey so you can soak the other side of the turkey if it’s not submerged or just try to make the brine even. My brother stayed up and flipped the turkey at around 3:30am in the morning and then tossed a big ketchup bottle on the turkey to weight it down, and then he passed out.
  • No one woke up early on Thanksgiving day. I just remember the turkey was ready to eat at 2pm.  Anyhow, next you want to dump all the brine out and rinse the turkey with cold water.
  • Put the rinsed turkey on your roasting rack in your pan! We used a V shaped rack, which helps to hold the bird in place. Dry the turkey with a paper towel.

Stuffing/aromatics

  • Parents didn’t know what they were doing and grabbed Kraft stove top stuffing because everyone else was grabbing it in the grocery store a couple days before. So…you could put stuffing into the turkey and stuff it from the butt side, not the neck cavity. I forgot and ended up wasting time trying to stuff the stuffing into the neck and yelling at my brother when it kept falling out. The stuffing mix that ended up on the bottom of the pan would burn in the oven later (and I would keep randomly tossing water ingo the pan while the turkey roasted because Kraft stuffing said it needed butter and water…and I failed to read the directions beforehand). Alternatively, just cook the stuffing separately and don’t stuff the turkey with it.
  • Next, slice your apple, onion. Then put the 1 cup water, apple, onion inside a microwave safe dish and microwave for 4 minutes. Then pour that into the turkey cavity.
  • Take the sage and rosemary and stuff it into the turkey cavity too.
  • Tuck the bird’s wings (or give up because this one bird wing wanted to defy all tucking and just stick up for itself…) and then coat everything with oil.

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Roasting

  • Preheat the oven to 500 F.
  • Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at a lower rack in the oven. We used the 3rd lowest rack because the oven thermometer was hanging under it. (Don’t accidentally change the temperature to 470 to save energy because making the aromatics took too long while arguing with brother and nearly dropping heavy turkey in brine.)
  • Then roast at 350 F for about 2 hours. Toss water into the pan randomly a few times if you put the stuffing in and realized it requires water.
  • Take the turkey out and cover lightly with aluminum foil for 15 minutes. My brother just cut a rectangle and shoved it only on the top of the turkey. I have a feeling you’re supposed to cover the pan sides too… but apparently it didn’t matter!
  • Voila! Then you are ready to serve!

Cooked

We had the turkey with Heinz Homestyle Beef Gravy and jellied cranberry sauce. We didn’t make gravy out of  the turkey grease because the stuffing already burned the bottom of the pan. The turkey skin was crispy, and if you want it crispier, then more oil and longer roasting probably works. The inside could get dry, but it wasn’t as dry as it could be (that’s good!). It was great with the gravy and sauce though!