Broccoli Cheese Casserole

 

What to do when you have a bunch of vegetables that need to go? As long as you won’t get too watery of a mess, there’s always casserole. I had broccoli, carrots, frozen cheddar cheese, and cream of mushroom soup I needed to use. So…. I ended up going with a modified version of Campbell’s Broccoli Cheese Casserole.

Ingredients

  •  1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 whole clove of broccoli, chopped into small pieces (I don’t know what the right term is.. when you go to the grocery store, you can buy broccoli in giant pieces with the giant stalks. I cut those giant pieces up)
  • Cut carrots (I used half a zipbloc sandwich bag which I had stored carrots in and cut the carrots in half before mixing them in)
  • A bunch of shredded Cheddar cheese to your liking (I just went with whenever it looked like there was enough yellow in the mixture)
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter, melted

Steps

  • Heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Stir the soup, water, eggs, broccoli, carrot, cheese, and water else you want to mix in. My dish was about 10 inch by 7 inch by 2 inch(height), buuut I’m not sure if I measured right because it was definitely looked at least one quart.
  • Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the broccoli mixture. Don’t accidentally try to mix it like I did… and end up with the crumbs on one side.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the broccoli is tender or when the casserole doesn’t look completely like liquid. I did leave my casserole in the oven after turning off the oven because it still seemed a little runny. So, you may need to adjust the timing by checking visually.
  • Enjoy!
Advertisements

Asian Egg Custard Tarts

 

FinishedPie

Snowed in? Why not make some egg custards? These are great as breakfast (although one too many may be a bad idea… haha) or as dessert! This recipe is based off of Yvonne Ruperti’s version of Singaporean egg tarts. The recipe is supposed to yield 16 egg tarts, however, count on me to mess up. My crust was too thick, so I had plenty of filling left over. I dumped that into a premade pie crust.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • A little less than 1/2 cup sugar  – Use less if you don’t want it as sweet. I thought this was more definitely sweet enough.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups  all purpose flour

For the Custard Filling:

  • A little less than 1/2 cup   sugar – Use less if you don’t want it as sweet. I thought this was more definitely sweet enough.
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 jumbo yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps:

MixingDough1. Crust

A. Grease or dump cupcake paper or aluminum foil into 16 cupcake tins. If you have these tins, which are the ones you see if you buy these egg tarts at an Asian bakery, they are probably better to help you estimate size to form the dough later and also you don’t have to clean them.

B. Mix melted butter, sugar, salt in a large bowl until combined. Then add the egg and stir in the flour until completely combined.

C. Divide dough into 16 portions and roll into balls.

E. Press a dough ball into each cup, pressing dough up sides to about 1/4 inch from top of cup, and maintaining a thickness about 1/8-inch thick.Yvonne’s recipe states to do this, but I believe I did not press the crust thin enough.

D.Chill for 30 minutes. I put plastic wrap over the baking pan tins so the dough doesn’t get too dry. If you intend to leave the dough in the fridge for a while, that may be safer.

InOven

2. Custard Filling and Finishing up!

A. To make your filling, simply mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Then add water, cream, yolks, and vanilla until combined.

B. Fill each cup with custard to about 1/8-inch from top of crust (don’t overfill or else you’ll have stuff stuck to the pan like I did). Bake at 375 degrees F until crust is golden and custard is just set, about 20 minutes.If your crust was too thick and you ended up having a whole pie of filling left, you can put them them into a premade pie crust or some other crust size depending on how much you have left. This larger pie will take longer and will take more like 30 minutes or so.

C. Let tarts cool in pan for 15 minutes then carefully transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve room temperature or chilled.

D. For storage, I put them in plastic ziploc bags in the fridge. Do not freeze, or if you do, keep in mind that the flavor will not taste the same afterwards. In the fridge, they can probably last for a couple of days, but not too long.

Failstuck

Oops. Custard filling leaked into pan outside of aluminum so I had some issues getting the aluminum cups out. It wasn’t too bad though. Washing will be a pain though.

 

Lunar New Year 2015

What do you do with a bunch of coconut shavings you happened to buy for no reason at the store?

Macaroon Jar

Macaroon Jar with Year of Ram Doodle

….make a coconut macaroon gift jar for Lunar New Year….

Ingredients:

– Macaroons

– Tissue Paper and Ribbon

– Quart Mason Jar

– Cardstock, Markers, Tape

Gingerbread Houses…wait, what? FOAM?

Gingerbread houses are pretty awesome since you can always eat them (if the gingerbread/candy isn’t too hard by the time you decide to eat them) after you’re done!

While surfing for craft supplies, I stumbled upon Foam kits! I guess I never really noticed them before, but this year they were gracing the craft stores all round. So, happening upon two crafts stores, AC Moore and Michaels, I decided to buy a foam kit from each of them and test drive which sets are better for the kiddies. I may still do an edible gingerbread house, but… that shall have to wait.

Nicole Kids foam kit (AC Moore) and Creatology foam kit (Michaels)

Nicole Kids foam kit (AC Moore) on the left, and Creatology foam kit (Michaels) on the right

Yes, they do say it’s for 6 years old and up! We’re all kids at heart, right?!! But I’ll break this down further in detail.  The Nicole kit on the right looks more like a gingerbread house. That one is from AC Moore, and currently, you can get it for $5.00 USD. I was able to use a 50% off coupon, so I got that for even less.  Pricewise, the Creatology Michaels one on the left was also $5.00 because it was on sale for half price. Luckily, I got to use a 20% off sale coupon, so….I also got it for less than $5.00 USD.

Finished Foam kits

Finished – Front!

The Nicole gingerbread house was pretty easy to put together. It consisted of stickers and foam, and everything you needed was in the kit. I made sure not to have the sticky parts stick the roof onto the rest of the house. This way, I can still remove the roof and shove a tealight inside the house, and it’ll glow! Simple and nice. Too bad there’s no design on the back…although you could put extra stickers on the back…

Finished Foam kits

Finished- Back View

As you can see, the Creatology one is a bit more complicated. You need glue, and I question if 6 year olds can do this! Besides the fact that the kit came with broken pieces (some of the foam was super thin, and it was already broken. I hid the broken window behind the squirrel.) and missing pieces (you can see I am missing one of the red ribbons for the roof. They are supposed to be on both sides of the house.), some of the pieces were very flimsy and thin and the stickers were not very sticky. Since these pieces had to be torn out of their frames to use, I’d be afraid that the kids would break the whole piece while trying to take the pieces out. As for the sticker pieces, some are already unsticking after only a day after assembly. It actually feels like it’d be better to glue everything instead of using the sticker stickiness.

So, I think I enjoyed the Nicole’s one better. It is much simpler and doesn’t require any additional supplies. Additionally, I think the quality of the stickers is much better. For the younger kids, I would recommend going with the Nicole’s kit.  However, if you are not afraid of them breaking thin pieces and getting upset, the Creatology set is good and will keep them occupied for much longer. Creatology offers several other kits including nativity ones as well. You might even be able to build a foam holiday village from the sets.

Have you built any gingerbread houses, miniature villages lately? I always find miniature villages cute.

Holiday Cards 2014

This year, I acquired a snowflake puncher and a couple of clear stamps. I’ve made three cards so far. Not sure how I feel on these yet.

I didn’t know clear stamps existed. Clear stamps are basically peelable, and are used by putting them on an acrylic block. You apply the pressure to the acrylic block in order to get the ink on the ink pad onto the stamp. Then, after you’re done using the stamp, you peel the stamp off. I guess this saves making a wooden block for the old wooden block/rubber stamps. I’m not sure how I feel about them yet. So far, the clear stamp takes off ink pretty quickly, and I can’t stamp more than once. With the wooden block stamps, I can stamp multiple times before the ink runs out…so maybe the clear stamp material doesn’t absorb as much ink…or just dumps it all in the first go.

Oh, and for kicks….here’s the one rubber stamp I acquired this year. I randomly colored it, and then realized the colors reminded me of Waldo…so I drew glasses on the right penguin.

Look, it’s Waldo!

Halloween – Yup I’m late, but why not carve a pumpkin!

So, this year, in the spirit of Halloween, I decided to give trick or treaters candy and Halloween pretzels. I had more pretzels than candy, so suffice to say, I ran out of candy first. I guess pretzels, while healthier, just aren’t as popular. I got some blank stares from the trick or treaters…. Haha. Hey, beats people giving out cans of heavy soda and apples! I remember getting those when I was a kid. It was always one house. Well, hopefully, my housemates and I won’t be known as the pretzel people…. but the pretzels were Halloween themed! Bats and pumpkin shaped!

But I digress… what is DIY about today’s post? A foray into pumpkin carving! Albeit….late. A friend gifted me a pumpkin, and I let it sit outside as decoration, but never got a chance to carve it until today! So.. here we go.

This is what I was shooting for. A friend kindly found something for me to try imitating.

SampleModelMinion

Looks cute, right? Somehow, I’m supposed to imitate this.

For a first time carver, I think I did pretty well. I didn’t have any special tools, just mostly random knives and spoons in my kitchen stock.

1_TopCut

First step after rinsing the pumpkin off. Cut the top off.

Next, get all the seeds and stringy stuff out.

Next, get all the seeds and stringy stuff out.

The stringy stuff just wasn’t coming all out, and I tried using a tool to descale a fish…not really sure it helped so much. I tried using a big spoon too… Do you have suggestions on best tool to use for this?

I drew a rough design of the minion on the pumpkin, and then started with fond a smaller knife to cut the eyeball.

I drew a rough design of the minion on the pumpkin, and then started with found a smaller knife to cut the eyeball.

4_EyesHair

Eyeballs and hair….done!

Done! You can see my lines. Clearly, I had issues following them. Haha. The part with the mouth was terrible. My knife wasn't small enough, so I ended up with the minion looking like it got punched in the teeth! The hardest part was the section surrounding the mouth. The cut wasn't supposed to go all the way through, but deep enough for light to go through.

Done! You can see my lines. Clearly, I had issues following them. Haha. 

The part with the mouth was terrible. My knife wasn’t small enough, so I ended up with the minion looking like it got punched in the teeth! The hardest part was actually the section surrounding the mouth. The cut wasn’t supposed to go all the way through, but deep enough for light to go through. So… I cut the outline and then used the small knife to pick out some pieces slowly cutting randomly to get small chunks out. Using a small spoon helped to scoop the pumpkin meat out. The knife kept slicing it, but not taking the meat out of the hole.  And… because a tea light didn’t work, I just shoved a bright flashlight in it. Otherwise… I’d probably break the meat and the whole mouth…

And voila! Glowing in the dark! Came out better than I thought!

And voila! Glowing in the dark! Came out better than I thought!

Dusty Woes on Kitchen Cabinets

With the arrival of the end of the lease comes the move into another place after all those woes of searching for new potential places to live. I’ve just recently moved once again, and it seems that with each move, I encounter new problems.

This particular place has got to the be most poorly cleaned place I have ever encountered, and as I clean, I find myself sometimes looking online to see if there are any good solutions. Or maybe you might have some advice for me as well!

The kitchen cabinets looked fine on the outside, but oh my. The insides and the top were terrible. For the insides of the cabinets, I tried vacuuming with a hose, scrubbing with a sponge, scrub, and Lysol wipes. The stains mostly came off. My guess is the previous renter stored a ton of leaky food or drinks…and was a slob. Unfortunately, some stickiness still remained, and even after multiple wipes and scrubs, stickiness still prevailed. My temporary solution has been just to line the cabinet shelves with plastic liner or clean white kitchen trash bags. Any other suggestions appreciated!

Next  came the top of the cabinets. This is just a whole new level of dustiness. The dust was caked onto the cabinets; it must have simply been a paradise! Vacuuming failed to budge that beach of dust, and even scrubbing and wipes didn’t make so much a dent. Alas, I gave up, and found out that instead of cleaning, some people line the tops of their cabinets with wax paper and then change out the wax paper once in a while. It turns out that the wax paper catches the dust. Well, I guess I failed in removing all that dust stuck onto the tops of the cabinets, but at least I can try to use the wax paper to catch future dust…

Linkies Which Recommended Wax Paper Battling Dust:

Mum ‘n Oven

Deflect Dust