Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cajun Pizza!

You may not know this about me: I’m a pizza expert.  A professional pizza maker.  Or, at least I was in college.  For 3 and a half years, pizza was my life.

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“It’s a better day at Papa Juan’s, this is Feaux, how can I help you?”

I had two vehicles throughout my pizza delivery career; both reeked of pizza sauce and anchovies by the time I got rid of them. I put about 20,000 miles on those cars each year, thanks to pizzas.  This is a college town, and college kids LOOOOOOVE pizza.  College kids also don’t know how to tip.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Always tip your pizza delivery driver, peeps.  They’re putting miles on their personal cars, burning gas, oil, and every other motor fluid to get that pie to your door hot ‘n fresh.  They make minimum wage, plus about 5% of their sales to “cover” the fuel costs for their cars…which doesn’t actually come anywhere near covering fuel & maintenance costs.  They pay higher insurance rates for having a “high risk” job that they use their personal vehicles for.  They’re hardworking college kids who need a flexible schedule to work around classes, or adults who need a second job to make ends meet.  They drive through rain, thunder, snow, sleet, and tornadoes with wet shoes and numb toes, so that you don’t have to.  Sometimes, they work ‘til close at 2am, then get up and open the store at 10am the next day, and are very tired.timmysleep

(Our assistant manager catches a quick catnap during the post-lunch lull.)

They get treated like crap, get snowballs thrown at them, get griped out for not just  automatically “having” parmesan & crushed red pepper in their cars… but they take it in stride with a smile on their face and then get back in their vehicles and scream, “I HAVE A BACHELOR’S/MASTER’S DEGREE!!!!  I’M A FREAKING HUMAN BEING, PEOPLE!!!”  Then they sigh, drive back to the store, and do it all over again.  Why?  Because of the tips.  Without the tips, it’s completely not worth it.

ANYWAY.  *jumps off soap box*  Where were we?  That’s right…PIZZA.

I decided to make a pizza, from scratch, at home the other night.  But not just any pizza.  A CAJUN pizza.  Something I felt honored Louisiana flavors & tradition.  Toppings like smoked Andouille sausage, bell peppers, green onions, and jalapenos, and a kicked-up tomato sauce full of Cajun Power.  And this was our end result:

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This was, and I’m being totally honest, probably one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.

You don’t HAVE to make your own dough—I did because I wanted to try out my Kitchenaid dough hook.  But a store bought crust would not take away from the awesomeness of this pie at ALL.  However, if you do want to make your own dough, the basic dough recipe I use is here.

Sauce Ingredients:

1 6oz can of tomato sauce

1-2 tbsp of Cajun Power (depending on the heat level you like)

1 tsp minced garlic

3 dashes Louisiana hot sauce

1 tsp Italian seasoning blend

1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, diced

about 8 leaves fresh basil, julienned (1/4 cup, or 1 tbsp dried basil if you don’t have fresh)

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl & mix well.

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Toppings:

1 link sliced andouille sausage (if you can’t get authentic Louisiana andouille, Johnsonville makes a pretty tasty version)

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

2-3 green onions, sliced

sliced jalapenos

Other Optional Ingredients: mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.

1.5 cups shredded mozzarella

 

Directions:

Heat your oven to 425 F.

Spread your crust out on a pizza stone or cookie sheet.  Add sauce (if you don’t use all the sauce, that’s okay, it’s great with pasta later in the week, too), then sliced andouille.

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Then add peppers & onions & jalapenos, along with any other ingredients you might like.  I just tried to keep it somewhat simple with very traditional Cajun ingredients.

Now add cheese.

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More cheeeeeeese!!!

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That’s better!

Now bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust & cheese are lightly browned.

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No worries…if it burns a little, just tell people it’s “blackened”.  People seem to think Cajun & “blackened” are fairly synonymous.

Let cool for a bit, slice into 8 pieces, and then CHOW DOWN!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tiny Drops of Fame: Pumpkin Pancakes!

So, if you’ve been reading this blog a while now, you might remember back in January when I posted my recipe for pumpkin pancakes.

Well, our local magazine, 417 Mag,  has started hosting a monthly “Reader Recipe” contest, and the October theme was pumpkin!  So I of course submitted this recipe, because I LURVE it SOOOO much.  And…lo & behold, I WON!  Totes crazy.

They called me up at work to let me know, and then said, “Okay, I’m going to transfer you to our art department so we can set up a photo shoot.”

*GuLp*  Photo Shoot?  Um… okay.  You should know…I’m not 100% comfortable in front of a camera.  I very much prefer to be the one BEHIND the camera. 

But, still slightly stunned and very humbled, I set up a day so that the photographer from the magazine could come out to our house & take photos.

OUR HOUSE.  Holy crap.  We don’t have a fancy house.  So as much as I would LIKE to do some fancy kitchen photo shoot like Julia Child:

 

…our kitchen kinda looks like this (but with appliances):

Main Image

(And with a less nice stove, and white counters.  Our neighbor’s house is for sale, so I swiped this from their real estate page.  Apparently I don’t have a wide shot photo of my kitchen.)

But we make do.  The photo shoot was scheduled for a Monday.  So….we spent the entire weekend before that scouring the kitchen, steam mopping the floors, clearing counter tops and clutter…and cleaning the rest of the house too, because OMG Strangers/Photographers In. My. House.  Gotta look nice for these people! What if they want to sit on the couch!  What if they want to shoot photos on the porch?  What if they need to USE OUR HALL BATHROOM???  We even cleaned & conditioned the leather furniture in our living room.  We were THOROUGH.  (In all honesty though, it really needed it.  We’re more of a “vacuum & dust once a month” type of family.)

Monday morning rolled around, and I baked up a HUUUGE stack of pancakes, so that at least a few of them would be perfect.  When Jamie, the photographer, showed up, she was all about shooting the tall stack, rather than just picking out a few.  We busted out some pecans and spices and a bottle of maple syrup, and they made food-photo-magic happen.

Jamie loved the natural light from our dining window as much as I do…that’s my favorite spot for food photos.

The end result?

ROM_pancakes

Utterly gorgeous.  And SOOOOO much better than the pics I snagged when I first posted that recipe!  They did a great job and I am just overwhelmed and super happy about the whole shebang.

This post is littered with links to their article, but if you haven’t accidentally stumbled upon one of those yet, CLICK HERE.

And for those who are too lazy to click?  Here’s the recipe. :D

 

Makes 6-8 pancakes (3-4 servings)

Ingredients

3/4 cup flour
1/8 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (nuts are optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
a pinch of  salt
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/8 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 can pumpkin puree

Directions

1. Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl (or your mixer), reserving half of the chopped nuts for garnish.
2. Add milk, brown sugar, oil, vanilla and egg, and beat until well mixed. Stir in pumpkin until well combined.
3. Spray a non-stick pan lightly with butter-flavored cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan per pancake.
4. Turn pancakes when the tops are covered with bubbles and the edges look cooked.
5. To finish, sprinkle with the remaining nuts, and drizzle with maple syrup.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes.

I’ve been a little absent this week: for that, I apologize.  But there’s been some IRL-drama that has kept me from doing much of, well, anything.

Last week, I posted about my company’s 20th anniversary potluck.  Well… in a very tragic turn of events, our company president was killed in a single-engine plane crash this past weekend.  She was a vibrant, amazing, highly successful 46 year old woman who we all adored, so things have been really rough around here.

And I, being…well…ME… have been baking as a coping mechanism.  It seems to be far less destructive than booze or pills, and my coworkers and husband get to benefit as well, so it’s sort of a win-win.

These mini upside-down cakes have been on my Pinterest board for quite a while, and they seemed somewhat appropriate since our world is a little “upside down” at the moment.  They were also super easy.  And very delicious, and pretty comforting.  And visually pretty.  Just generally awesome.  And I just bought a new jumbo cupcake tin last week, so I wanted to test it out.

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Ingredients:

For the Cake -

2 eggs
2/3 C white sugar
4 Tbsp pineapple juice
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded coconut

 

For the Topping -

3 Tbsp light butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-can pineapple rings (NOTE: I used crushed pineapple instead, since I had an open can of it in my house, and I really liked the result.)
6-maraschino cherries

 

Directions:

Step one, as always – heat your oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, combined the egg, sugar, and pineapple juice.  Then slowly add your dry ingredients (I added about 1/8-1/4 cup at a time with the flour) and beat until well combined.

The original recipe called for using a small sauce pan to make your brown sugar syrup, but I was feeling a little lazy, so instead, I melted my butter in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave (about 15 seconds), then added the brown sugar, mixed well, and nuked in the microwave for another 30-45 seconds.  If you don’t have a microwave, just melt the butter & brown sugar together in a small sauce pan on the stove & let simmer on low for 1 minute.

Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray (will make 6 jumbos, or about 8 regular size cupcakes), and then divide the brown sugar syrup between the tins (about 1.5-2 tbsp per cake).  Then place a cherry in the middle of each tin, and then add your pineapple. (With the crushed pineapple, a heaping tablespoon filled each cup.)

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Now pour your batter over top, dividing it equally between the cups.  Bake for 25 minutes for the jumbos, or about 20 minutes for the regular size cakes.

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Voila!  Looks like lil’ angel food cakes, huh?

Let cool for about 3 minutes, and loosen the edges by running a butter knife around the outside of each cake.  Then place a wire rack over the top of the pan, and invert onto the rack.  You might want to place a cookie sheet under the rack in case any of the syrup drips down.

Let cool for a bit, then serve!

feaux 086 The cake part tasted a bit like angel food.  It was delicious…and sort of appropriate. :)

R.I.P. Robin…we miss you very much.

NutriFacts:

Calories 331.4

  Total Fat 8.6 g

  Saturated Fat 4.6 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 2.1 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 1.4 g

  Cholesterol 61.7 mg

  Sodium 295.3 mg

  Potassium 142.9 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 67.8 g

  Dietary Fiber 1.4 g

  Sugars 55.7 g

  Protein 4.2 g

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fleur de Lis Art.

I’m jonesing for a new fleur de lis art print for our kitchen/dining room area (really, honestly: we have 1300 sq ft of living space—those rooms are one & the same).  I know I’ll probably end up making something, thanks to my Pinterest addiction, but I’ve been perusing the InterWebz for some inspiration. 

This one is so cute it makes my heart ache:

“Fleur de Lis” by Ryan Merrill…actually, I may buy this print, I love it so much!

 

This metal work is also gorgeous:

If I could find a trivet that looked like this, I would be quite pleased.  Because art that is also functional makes me happy.

 

This set of four is quite lovely, too, although I think I’m looking for something a bit smaller, since we already have a large focal piece in our dining room

Set of 4 16 x 16 Fleur de...

…of course, I could just split them up and spread the fleur love around the house. :D

 

I don’t usually go for metallics, but there’s something so regal about this one…

 

I think I may try to recreate something like that, using the “glue, aluminum foil, & shoe polish” craft that’s trending on Pinterest right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cajun “Debris”: Roast Beef Poboys, and a filthy lil’ potluck party.

This month, my company celebrates its 20 Year Anniversary.  And as the head of the Potluck Planning Committee, this seemed like a fantastic opportunity for a luncheon get-together.  So I sent out a mass email to my coworkers, asking for dishes to represent the work we do, and/or how long we’ve been doing it.  AKA—since the 90s. 

This is by far one of the most fun potlucks we’ve had.  I was SO impressed with the cleverness and creativity of my coworkers.  There are tons of pics at the end of this post so you all can share our nerdy-food-geekery.

As for my entry, of course I wanted to do something Cajun.  But what? 

Well, last year, we did a huge amount of work after the Joplin Tornado.  Spill cleanup, disposal of regulated materials (aka sifting through debris at a commercial retail store to recover pharmaceuticals, bullets, alcohol, cleaning supplies, fluorescent bulbs, etc.), demolition, debris removal…

DEBRIS!  My Aha Moment had occurred.

In New Orleans, a big, fat, drippy, gravy-coated shredded roast beef poboy is frequently referred to as a “debris” (DAY-bree) po-boy.  The name comes from the gravy, which is made from reducing the pan drippings from the roast beef (including the delicious little bits of roast beef, or debris, that fall off as you’re cutting the meat).  Mother’s Restaurant in New Orleans is quite famous for their amazing debris poboys & biscuits:

I found a good recipe online for making my own NOLA-style debris, but that recipe called for braising the meat.  I wanted to use my Crockpot.  And so I did.  And it still turned out just fantastic.

Joplin Debris Poboy

Ingredients:

1 large roast; whatever’s on sale.  Chuck roast used to be the cheapest, but lately I’ve seen it hovering around $4/lb.  Rump roast seems to go on sale here more often for closer to $2.  Aim for about 3.5 lbs of meat.

3 garlic cloves, quartered

Cajun seasoning

Black pepper

Cayenne pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 small carrot, diced

1 cup beef broth

1 cup chicken broth (we used bouillon cubes for both of these with good results

Water, if necessary

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp hot sauce (Louisiana Gold)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 bay  leaf

1 Tbsp Cajun Brown Gravy Mix (or flour and some extra Cajun seasoning, if you don’t have this mix)

 

Directions:

Cut small slits into the roast, and insert the garlic slices.  Then season liberally (both sides) with Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and cayenne—use in proportion to your & your family’s tastes.  I.E. – if they don’t like spicy food, you can omit the cayenne.

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Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat until it begins to smoke.  Swirl the oil to make sure the bottom is coated.  Then—add your giant slab o’ meat to the pan.  Start to realize that what the store called a “roast” seems to look an awful lot like the Ol’ 96’er.

 

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You see the similarity, no?

Brown El Slab O’ Carne on all sides, then set aside.  Add onions and carrots to the pan, season with salt & pepper, and sauté until onions start to caramelize.

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Then, place the onion mixture in the bottom of your Crockpot.  Add the beef on top of that, then pour the broths over that.  If the broth is not level with the meat, add a little water.  Add your seasonings, cover, and Set on Low for 8-10 hours (overnight works perfectly).

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When you wake up the next morning, you will have a slab of meat that will fall apart with little to no effort.  Dispose of the bay leaf, then fish your meat out of the crock.  It will probably crumble—that’s TOTALLY okay, since we’re shredding this stuff anyway.  Use a fork and some tongs, and in less than 5  minutes, you will have THIS:

feaux 073 Toss the fatty bits.  They’ve done their flavor duty—no one wants to nom them in a sammich.

Now—transfer the liquid from the Crockpot into a large skillet, and add your brown gravy mix.  This will help thicken up the gravy a little faster.  Set the skillet to medium heat and stir occasionally until the liquid is reduced by half. 

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Then fish the carrots out (because they look odd in gravy),  place the shredded meat back in your Crockpot, and cover with the gravy.  Toss to coat.  If your gravy gets a little too reduced, no problem, just add a lil’ bit of water. 

 

Serve with a side of split rolls (because these are mini-servings—if you’re planning to serve as a meal, use French bread) and you have: Joplin “Debris” PoBoys!

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(Note my note.  I like to edu-mah-cate my coworkers. It’s culture, y’all.)

I had planned on getting some shredded lettuce and making jalapeno mayo to go with these, but time got away from me.

And now, I’d like to showcase some of the other amazing dishes that my coworkers came up with!

First, we have Babsy’s “oil spill” hummus.  Is this not the cutest thing ever?  She made that little “drum” herself, too.

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Then, on the left we have “sludge on a shingle”, complete with its own hazardous waste manifest.

sludge on a shingle sludge waste profile

 (The “Odor: Garlic” made me LOL.)

 

And just in case there’s a spill of some delicious dipping oil, we have absorbent pads!

Sorbent Pads

 

We also had some very hazardous Kool-Aid to drink:

OSHA compliant Koolaid

 

And for Dessert: some “DNAPL” pie, and a cake with an old photo of our CEO on it, back when she used to have to get down in the dirt like us.

DNAPL pie Robin Cake

 

As per usual with potlucks, I MAY have overeaten.

feaux 097 Most delicious “wastes” ever!!!

 

All in all, a really fun luncheon.  Our owner loved the cake and even told us the story behind it.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine our boss, who is always very fashionable and put together, out there in a hard hat and Tyvek, but here’s proof!  It’s great to work in this sort of environment, with fun & equally nerdy coworkers and bosses who’ve been in the trenches (both literally and metaphorically) themselves.  Here’s to another 20 years!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

This cup’s for you, Nana.

For a while now, I’ve had a personal mission to find a coffee cup in same pattern that my grandparents had: Corelle’s Butterfly Gold.  I would occasionally see saucers or plates show up at the thrift stores, but never the mugs.

While I’ve never been much of a collector of such things, that pattern has a strong connotation in my memory, and brings back so many happy thoughts of times with my now deceased Nana & PawPaw.  They were both teachers, and just wonderful people. I know everyone feels that way about grandparents, but it really was a true blessing to have them in my family.  My Nana taught me a love of arts & crafts, of seeing potential in things for what they could become, to exercise my imagination, and devour books.  My grandpa taught me to make spaghetti, to drive a car, and would never turn down a game of Scrabble.

From the time I was little until I was 14, they lived in Texas & I only saw them at Christmas & during the summer, when my parents would ship me off down there for a month or two so they could have some solitude.  After that, they moved back to Missouri, close to the area where I live now, which meant I got to visit them much more frequently—particularly once I started college. (Hey, 50 minute drive to do laundry, rather than the 2 hours up to my parents’ house?  Heck yeah!) 

My Nana loved Christmas more than any other holiday, which is probably where I developed my affinity for it as well.  We would have Thanksgiving at her house, and then, the next morning, we busted into the attic and brought down all the Christmas décor.

nanaxmas

(Every gift got a big reaction, which is very gratifying for a 12 year old shopping on allowance money.)

Nana loved Christmas stockings, and stocking stuffers.  She made us stockings one year…and eventually, the stocking stuffers wouldn’t all fit inside, so she then made one-gallon drawstring sacks of Christmas fabric that became our new “stockings”.  PawPaw buried an orange and a half-dollar coin at the bottom of our stockings every year.

PawPaw loved old Westerns, and the Steelers, and Arnold Palmer.  We spent a lot of time on the couch watching those together.

Sadly, they were also both heavy smokers, and my Nana developed multiple myeloma in 2000.  She fought it hard for several years, and it even went into remission for a while.  But in 2003, it came back with a vengeance, and you could just see she didn’t have the strength to fight anymore.  We got to say our goodbyes at Thanksgiving that year, and she passed a week later.

True to Nana fashion, she had already bought each of us our Christmas present for that year, which my aunt found in the attic, unwrapped, with our names written on the bottom.

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My last Christmas gift from Nana.  Still sits on my bedside table to this day.

My PawPaw was lost without her, and went to join her a year later, suffering from health conditions of his own, though we all know he just couldn’t bear to be without her anymore.

So…all that said…that’s why I had a mission.  To find one, just one, coffee mug.  Why a mug?  Because it was from one of those mugs that I had my first ever sip of coffee.  And, like nearly all 14 year olds, I hated it.  They drank their coffee black, with little to no sugar.  Ugh. 

But then I started college…and caffeine became a necessity.  And so I would have coffee with Nana & PawPaw on the weekends while doing laundry…with about 4 teaspoons of sugar added in.

Now, I have coffee every morning.  Thanks to the hundreds of flavored creamers out there, I never have to make the “coffee grimace” ever again.  But I still think about that first sip now & then.

And today…today would be my Nana’s birthday.  Which is why Fate led me to a stack of Butterfly Gold coffee cups at a thrift store on Wednesday.  So for 99 cents, I get to have coffee with my Nana today.  Worth every penny.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thirsty Thursday: Frozen Watermelon-Lime Margarita

Maybe I’m a cheapskate, but frozen fruit is expensive.

So I like to stock up various fruits when they’re in their respective peak seasons at super-cheap prices, and then freeze them myself. 

Example?

A 14oz package of Dole frozen strawberries can go for $2.50 at Wal-Mart.  OR---I can buy a 16 oz carton of fresh strawberries for 99 cents, wash, hull & halve them, and then freeze them myself.   That’s a 12 cent per ounce savings.  And with the recent popularity of “green” and fruit smoothies, there are probably families out there spending at least $10-20/month just on pre-frozen fruit and smoothie mixes.  For the upper end of this scale, these families could save up to $144/year just by freezing their own when things are on sale.  Aldi’s constantly has random fruits under a buck—and as I’ve mentioned before, if you don’t like the quality of the produce at Aldi’s, you can get Wally-World to price match it.

ANYWAY… this also means I have a veritable crap-ton of fruit in our freezer right now.  Which my husband likes to remind me of, because it’s taking up valuable retail space where more manly things, like meat and ice cream, could be. Because the two shelves filled with everything from chicken tenders to elk steaks apparently isn’t enough meat.  (…love you, honey…) ;-D

This weekend I organized our freezer and decided it was high time to use up some watermelon (I went a little crazy when they were marked down to $2.99 for a large seedless).  Did you know you can freeze watermelon???  I didn’t, until this summer.  Granted—it’s not so great for “freezing then thawing” uses, but if it’s intended to remain in a frozen state (think frozen yogurt, smoothies, granitas, etc) then everything is peachy-keen!

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You know what I like in a frozen state?  Margaritas.  And when you use frozen fruit?  No ice needed.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen watermelon

juice and pulp of one lime

2-3 tablespoons sugar (start with 2, then taste & add more if necessary.  The amount needed will depend on how sweet your watermelon is.)

1/3 cup tequila

pinch of salt (optional, but I think it makes the flavor of the watermelon pop)

 

Directions:

Combine the above in a blender and pulse, using the “ice crush” setting.  Pulse until no large chunks are visible.

Wet the rim of a glass with lime juice, and then dip in a shallow plate/bowl of sugar.

Garnish with lime slice & straw.

INHALE. Savor on your back porch as the sun sets on another weekend.

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Makes two small (10 oz) margaritas (or one big @$$ one).

NutriFacts:

Calories 190.1

  Total Fat 0.7 g

  Saturated Fat 0.1 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g

  Cholesterol 0.0 mg

  Sodium 3.5 mg

  Potassium 199.6 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 23.1 g

  Dietary Fiber 0.9 g

  Sugars 20.8 g

  Protein 1.1 g

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Meltaway Cream Cheese Mints

How did I forget to post this recipe when I was doing my Ultimate Wedding Week countdown?  It would’ve fit in so perfectly.  Alas, I am imperfect.

Nary a worry!  Here I am to rectify the situation and introduce you all to the amazingly awesomeness that is: The Cream Cheese Mint.

These lil’ beauties are a tradition at my family weddings.  So of course, I HAD to have them at my own wedding last year. In my wedding colors, natch.  And I had just gotten a Kitchenaid from my parents as a pre-wedding gift…so it ONLY made sense to bust it out & spend three evenings cranking out hundreds of tiny mints.

Of course, we then somehow managed to completely FORGET to put them out at the reception.  300+ mints.  That my bridesmaid Babsy & I slaved over.  Completely forgotten.  Lost in the freezer behind the ice cream for the root beer floats.  It pains me, even to this day.

So, after the reception, my new hubby & I had all the extra “stuff” that wasn’t eaten at the wedding.  Ice cream, sandwiches, cupcakes, meatballs, fruit, and a quarter-ton of mints.  We started putting them on EVERYTHING.  Including the leftover ice cream.

IMG_0016 Tastes like love.

If you’re not cranking out hundreds of the lil’ buggers, they are actually ridonkulously easy to make. Only a few ingredients, a good mixer, and some mint molds are needed.  Technically, you don’t even need the mint molds—you can also just pat them flat, smash with a fork (a la PB cookie-style), or use small cookie cutters.  You can get plastic candy molds like these from on Amazon or at your nearest craft store for just a few bucks. 

mint molds

I also had some silicone molds that I borrowed from my aunts.  There are TONS of designs available; my aunts had some for Christmas, baby showers, graduations, etc.

I stuck with making green leaves, blue roses, and threw in some white fleur-de-lis for good measure.

 

Ingredients: (this will make about 5-7 dozen mints)

1 package (3 ounces) fat free cream cheese or Neufchatel, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

food coloring (enough to get your preferred shade)

4 1/4 to 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Granulated sugar

 

Directions:

NOTE: if you want to make a couple different colors, just make half of a batch at a time.  Or you can make a plain white batch and then add your food coloring at the end, though it’s sometimes hard to get the color incorporated as well at the end…however, it can produce a really cool marbling effect, so that’s also a fun option!

Place your cream cheese & extract in a mixer and blend until smooth and the extract is well incorporated.  (Note: A stand mixer, such as a Kitchenaid, will make this recipe SUPER easy, since you can leave the beater running while you incorporate ingredients.) 

Add your food coloring.  Depending on what color you’re going for, this could be a lot, or not very much.  For the green you see above, I only had to use a few drops per batch.  However, I wanted a really rich blue for the roses, so it took considerably more food coloring to get it beyond a “baby shower blue” color.

Now, start adding your powdered sugar—about 1/2 cup at a time, in order to avoid the “there’s sugar everywhere and my kitchen looks like a meth lab” effect.  Your “dough” is ready once it’s firm and no longer sticky.  If it’s still sticky after 4.5 cups…add some more sugar.  You should be able to pull off a piece & roll it into a ball without it sticking to your hands, though it may still be slightly tacky.

Set up a “sugarcoating” prep station.  about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl will work.

Hygiene Note: You’re going to be handling this stuff with your paws, so now’s a good time to wash your hands.  With SOAP. 

Scoop out a small piece of the “dough”—the amount you need will depend on the size of your.  You’ll sort it out as you go; it might take a couple tries to guesstimate it right.  Roll it into a ball, and then drop that ball into your “sugarcoating” bowl.  Roll it around until it’s fully coated, and then press it into your mold.  The sugar on the outside keeps the mint from sticking to the mold, so be sure it’s fully coated.

Now, repeat like 59-83 times.

 

And the GREAT news?  These freeze perfectly.  You can make them up to a month in advance.  Then, on the day of your event, just take them out of the freezer that morning.

 

As you know, I was a wedding-crazed bride while I was making these…so I don’t have a ton of pics, since I wasn’t in “blogger mode”.  So instead, I’ve perused the interwebs for some fun examples of mints you can make using this basic recipe.

Fall is coming up, so some of these would be super cute:

This would be some of that marbling I mentioned above. 

Or, if you don’t have mint/candy molds, you can also just lightly smash the sugared dough ball with a fork to make these simple lovelies:

 

Another option if you don’t have mint/candy molds would be rolling the dough out, lightly dusting with sugar, and then using small cookie cutters, like this example:

Love those colors!!!

 

And THESE are simply gorgeous, if you’re really adventurous.  The creator used buttons to create their own silicone molds.  These would just be PERFECT for a vintage style wedding.

 

MINTY DINO’S!!!!  Love.

 

Are there any interesting traditions your family has at weddings?  I would love to hear about them!