Sand And Happiness

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend my surrogate big brother’s wedding to his amazing wife. It was located on the beach and despite the Florida rain everything managed to take off fairly smoothly. He made his vows and she had a quote recited and of course they exchanged their rings (Admittedly the rings were tied too tight and the father of the bride had to cut them out of the ribbon – a rather fitting way of letting go of his little girl?).Image

It was wonderful to see them again, and I finally had the pleasure of meeting my niece, who is now seven months old and growing like crazy. The dances were tear-jerking with the classic Bride and Groom’s first dance, Father and Bride sharing some laughs, Groom and mother dancing to good old Will Smith, and finally Groom and his little girl sharing a moment on the dance floor.

I just recently found out that the family will be moving closer to my area (Most likely about an hour and a half away now, as opposed to four), so I will have to make sure I get better at staying in touch, as I will profess that it is not my strong point in life. The wedding was also a nice chance to spend some quality bonding time with my younger brother (Pictured below) as well as catch up with an old friend.

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Overall, I have to say it was a nice weekend, and that the bug bites and learning to walk through the sand in heels were more than worth it. I’ll post more pictures soon!

Got a wedding coming up but have no clue what to get them?

More often than not couples make use of a registry, but for those that don’t, I’ll share what I presented to my big brother and new sister-in-law.

I knew I wanted to get them something they would be able to use regularly and – seeing as they have a little one in the house – I wanted it to be simple and safe. I thought about monogrammed towels, decorations, etc. but I wasn’t sure of their taste. So, after much brainstorming, I decided on bathrobes. I searched all over, and apparently it is quite hard to find nice bath robes that fit my college, part-time, shopping addicted budget. Thankfully Burlington Coat Factory and TJ Maxx have always been my best friends.Image

This didn’t seem like quite enough, so I thought “Why not stick with the theme and make it more?” I added mugs with Mr. and Mrs. that I hand painted myself (Because lets be honest, everyone wants to do a little something like that for a wedding!) and picked up a hazelnut ground coffee and a packet of gourmet biscotti to add to the mix.

I also wanted to add the little one in as well, since family is a big focus for them, so I slipped in the baby blanket I purchased for her just before she was born (This is the part where you don’t judge me for being completely incapable of staying in touch). Add in an adorable onesie from Old Navy saying “I ❤ My Dad” for comfy giggles as well.  Finally I slipped in a photo album I had decorated and placed it all in a giant basket that can later be used to hold baby clothes or blankets, and wrapped it up in tulle. Image

When wrapping a gift in tulle, spread out the amount you are working with and place your gift directly in the middle. Fold up the front and back sides, and then gather the left and right sides in bit by bit until you have a nicely disbursed tulle covering. Take some ribbon and tie it at the point that your wish the tulle covering to end at, leaving the excess hanging above the ribbon. Tightly gather the excess in your hand and slide your hand up until you hit the point that you would like the tulle to over flow the ribbon. Cut directly across at this point and discard to the excess. Fluff the overflowed tulle to your preference. Image

Be sure to add a card to the gift as well, whether you are putting it in the basket or safety pinning it to the tulle. The bride and groom will wish to thank you for your attendance and for the gift (which they loved of course!).

Take as many pictures as possible, you won’t regret it and the candid shots always make for great pictures. If you intend to post on Facebook, I don’t recommend tagging the couple unless you are very close with them, as they will doubtless have a ton of notifications already. Be sure to let them know if you’ve posted pictures and allow them to tag themselves in the ones they like.

Image“What a handsome couple!” – Said every older lady in attendance. *Awkward*

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Apple Pie Cookies (I’m Not Sorry)

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The other day I found this absolutely incredible recipe for Apple Pie Cookies. So with Independence day fast approaching, I figured why not try something All-American – with a twist! Check out the original recipe here.

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Ingredients:

1 Box of frozen Pillsbury Pie Crust (2 sheets per box)

Approx. 1 Can of Apple Pie Filling

Approx. 1 Cup of Caramel Sauce

1 Egg..for egg-wash

2 tbsp. Cinnamon/Sugar

1 tbsp. Nutmeg

Flour for sprinkling

A round cookie cutter

You’re going to need a few things, and keep in mind that these ingredients only create about 6-8 cookies, so if you want to make a lot, be prepared to stock up on the pie crusts and apple pie filling. The caramel pictured above will make two sets of this recipe (About 14 cookies total), the mix of nutmeg and cinnamon sugar will be more than enough and you’ll only need one or two eggs for the egg wash, depending on how many cookies you make.

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(I’m all for multitasking too, so if you want to buy flour but don’t know if it will go to waste because you don’t bake often, try a simple cookie or brownie mix that can cook in between preparation of these cookies.)

Sprinkle some flour onto the counter and unroll one of the pie crusts on top, sprinkling some flour onto the top of the crust as well, spreading it out with your hands. Use a rolling pin the roll the crust flat and increase the surface area a bit more, but be sure to use only a light pressure as you don’t want to make the crust too thin.

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Instead of a caramel sauce I used caramel from Nestle’s La Lechera.

Don’t worry about spreading the caramel all the way out to edges, since your round cookie cutter won’t hit the edge of the pie crust all the way around. You’ll also want to be careful about how thickly you spread it, depending on your personal love of caramel.

Filling

From here you can open up your can of Apple pie filling and empty it out. Cut the pieces into much smaller chunks, that way they are proportionate to the size of the much smaller cookie.

Put together

Now, simply spread the pie filling out on top of the caramel, spreading the filling thin as well, and to the edges of the caramel.

I’ll be honest, I had never done a lattice top before I found this recipe, meaning I fudged the whole thing up a fair few times and added about 15 extra minutes to the prep time. Considering that I was making these before I left for work I was a nervous wreck the whole time I was making them, but they turned out pretty good so the recipe can’t be too hard, right? For those of you that have never done a lattice top before, I have been considerate enough to add it here for you!

Cut crust

Unroll the second pie crust the same way as before, rolling this out as well to about the same size as the first one. Cut it into long slices as pictured above, eyeballing the size of the slices to your own taste.

Lattice begin

To start your lattice, lay some of those pieces that you just cut across the beginnings of your pie, spaced across to your taste. Keep in mind the more space you leave between pieces the easier it is for your apple slices to ooze out when they’re baking. Yes, I am speaking from experience. With every second piece peeled back on themselves as pictured above, lay another crust piece perpendicular to the originals (Those years of math were good  for something it seems).

Lattice continueNow, unfold the first pieces so that they lay over the newest perpendicular slice. Take the other half of the pie crust pieces and fold them back on themselves so that they wrap over the perpendicular slice. Taking a new slice, lay it across the flat pieces, as pictured above. Repeat this step until the entire pie is beautifully latticed. Like so:

Lattice HalfLattice finish

Now that you’ve done such a great job, it’s time to destroy it! Take out your cookie cutter (I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered breaking out my Ikea cookie set with the moose, but I had to remain practical) and set to work! Be sure to dip the cookie cutter in your egg wash first

Cookie Cutter

I’ll also admit to being a poor college student and using a glass as a cookie cutter.

Egg Wash

Spread a light egg wash over the top of your cookie cut outs.

Spices

Once you’ve gotten all of your cookies cut out and egg washed, go ahead and mix together your spices for easier dusting. Sprinkle onto your cookies until you find you’ve used an appropriate amount, though be sure not to overdo it.

Ready to cook

Separate your cookies from the extra pie remnants and scoop them onto a greased baking pan. Cook for about 25-30 minutes on 350 degrees F – or until golden brown, slightly crispy but deliciously gooey and make you mouth water with the scent. Or basically, until these^ become this:

DoneI know, right? You are so welcome.

I meant to take pictures of my co-workers eating them (And hopefully not cringing) but they were eaten too quickly for me to provide proof, so you will have to just try them yourself.

Until next time!