Friday, November 23, 2012

Holiday Wreaths now on sale!

Sandy Toes Creations: Wicker Christmas Wreath

Gorgeous Handmade Wicker Wreaths with cinnamon scented pine cones now on sale! View my website for more details or you can now purchase them on Etsy.

These are the few I have available, so don't miss out! Close up pics of each on my website as well.

Sandy Toes Creations: Wicker Christmas Wreaths

Prices have been lowered! 
I made these last year for some craft fairs and these are the only ones I have left. I am not making any new ones this year, as it was a lot of work and the kids were into everything! But it was fun! To see how they were made, with the help of a mischievous adorable little elf, hop on over here to my old post.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Favorite Fall Recipe 3: Quick, Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Sandy Toes Creations: Fastest, Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever!

You're in-laws are coming over and you have no time to prepare a fancy meal, but still want to impress? Don't stress out! I have the solution! This is the easiest "homemade" chicken pot pie (you can barely call this one homemade, but no one has to know how easy it really was!) and it tastes great!

Sandy Toes Creations: Fastest, Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever!
Here's all you need, a few cans of soup, a bit of flour, and store bought pie dough. Did you know Marie Calendar's now makes a soup called chicken pot pie? Guess what else? It tastes just like their pot pies! Only it's missing the best part, the crust. So, the idea popped into my head to heat it up in a small ramekin and put some crust over the top. Tada! Almost instant "homemade" pot pie! 

Here's how:
For 4 pies: 2 cans of soup and 1 store bought pie dough (should come with two crusts)
Sandy Toes Creations: Fastest, Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever!preheat the oven to 425
add a tsp of flour per can of soup to thicken
(you could also add cheese, more veggies, anything you want really)
roll out dough (you could also make your own from my favorite crust recipe, the best!)
place empty ramekin upside down on dough and trace about 1/2" around it

Sandy Toes Creations: Fastest, Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever!Use extra dough to make shapes to make your pies pretty. I've made stars, moons, letters, and leaves. Here's an example of leaves:

Cut shapes with knife.

Sandy Toes Creations: Fastest, Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever!Press lines into leaves with butter knife to make the veins. They don't have to be perfect! Natural leaves are all different. I did this in less than a minute and thought they looked all funky, but they turned out beautiful. No stressing!

Pour soup into ramekins and place the round pie crust on top. Fold the edges under and then gently pinch to hold it together and make it look nice.

Sandy Toes Creations: Fastest, Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever!Sandy Toes Creations: Fastest, Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever!Then place the leaves or other shapes you made on the top. I find it works best to place them off to the side so they don't weigh down the middle.

Place on baking sheet in oven for 10-15 minutes, until top is a light brown. The insides will be very hot so allow to cool before you burn your guests mouths! The delicious smell will have filled the house and they won't be able to restrain themselves if you put it in front of them!

Now that's impressive!
Sandy Toes Creations: Fastest, Easiest Chicken Pot Pie Ever!

Of course you can make your own filling when you have time, if you'd rather have fresh ingredients to really get all the great flavor and nutrition (mmm, I wish I had one right now!) or just need to prove to yourself you can make one from scratch. Either way, nothing is better to warm a tummy and a family on a chilly evening than a fresh out of the oven pot pie!

Oh, bonus! Kids love to have their own little pie! You could make this with so many different fillings and it's so fun and simple! They can make their own shapes to decorate the top, too. Enjoy!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Favorite Fall Recipe 2: Easy Mini Pumpkin Pies

Sandy Toes Creations: Easy Mini Pumpkin Pies

The wait is over just in time for Thanksgiving! Here's the much anticipated favorite of fall recipe #2! Mini pumpkin pies! Wait, don't run away just yet, it's actually super easy! Really!

store bought dough, cut circles and stick in-
muffin tin, pour in-
canned pie filling, bake in-
oven 425 F for 15 min, turn down to 350 F for 25-30 min
Wallah! Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Sandy Toes Creations: Easy Mini Pumpkin PiesStep by step instructions here:

Very cute and tastes good! However, if you want pie to die for, like me, you can go a little further. Make your own crust or filling or both! 

Here's the perfect all time best crust in the world I use for every pie (unless I run out of time and am forced to (*gasp*) buy store bought. Enough for one crust, double if need a top crust as well. (double to have enough for mini pies)

Sandy Toes Creations: THE Very Best Pie Crust Ever!
Best Pie Crust Ever
  • 1.5 cups flour - plain flour, not self-rising.  I use whole wheat flour.
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/6 cup COLD vegetable shortening - I use Crisco, just as my grandmother did.  Useful conversion: 1/6 cup = 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
  • 1/3 cup COLD butter
  • 1/4 cup cold water
Mix Ingredients: flower, sugar, and shortening first. Then add butter. 
Add little bit of water at a time, just enough to moisten dough so it holds together.
Chill (optional)
Roll out between two pieces of wax paper.  Put in greased pie pan, shape and pinch edges or for mini pies, cut into 4" in diameter circles with cookie cutter or cup rim and put circles into well greased muffin tin.

See for detailed instructions.

Sandy Toes Creations: Super Easy, Very Best Pumpkin Pie!I've always preferred canned pumpkin pie filling with just a bit more pumpkin pie spice added (I guess it's just what I was raised on I'm used to the texture and flavor), but this homemade filling is delicious, and everyone I know that has tasted it absolutely Loves it! And always asks for the recipe. (No, don't run screaming!) For years I avoided ever attempting a homemade filling because it just had to be hard and very involved, but it's way easier than you'd ever expect!

Sandy Toes Creations: Super Easy, Very Best Pumpkin Pie!
Easy Delicious Homemade Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • Pie Pumpkin, smaller than a typical jack-o-lantern pumpkin, about 6-8 inches in diameter.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree (way easier to get than you think, I swear!)
  •  1.5 cans evaporated milk
Rinse pumpkin clean, cut off top, scoop out insides (just like at Halloween),  cut into 2-4 pieces. 
Use a sturdy spoon, such as an ice cream scoop, to scrape all remaining stringy stuff from the "meat" of the pumpkin.
Put in microwave (yes, microwave! Told you it was easy!) in a microwavable bowl such as a glass casserole dish with lid in two inches or so of water for 15 minutes on high.
Repeat in smaller increments of time if needed until soft enough to scoop innards out. Sometimes the "meat" falls right off the skin!
Puree in blender, who knew pumpkin puree was so easy to get, right?! Should yield about 3 cups or so.
Mix all ingredients in mixer or with hand blender.

Pour into pie crust right to the top, doesn't rise like a cake. Will be very runny, but will firm up after cooling. Or pour into mini pie crusts in your muffin tin. (If you have extra puree, freeze and put in pancakes or french toast. So good with maple syrup!)
Bake at 425 F for 15 min, then turn down to 350 F for another 50 min. Knife inserted in center should come out clean.
Cool, top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and eat! Yum! My mouth is watering already!

For more detailed directions, I started with this recipe and made it a bit simpler over the years

Sandy Toes Creations: Super Easy, Very Best Pumpkin Pie!

That's it! So much easier than you could have imagined and everyone will be in awe of how much work you did and how wonderful it is and aren't you just a little Betty Crocker?! Just smile, nod and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Favorite Fall Recipe 1: Delicious Apple Cinnamon Cake with Struesel Topping

Here it is! Recipe One of my favorite fall recipes! They fill your house with the most delicious aroma! If that's not enticement enough, to want to lick the air, this apple cinnamon muffin cake with streusel topping recipe is so mouth watering, you will have to be restrained in order not to eat them all yourself (or maybe that was just me?)!

I snitched the recipe from under "Easy Apple Cinnamon Muffins". "Easy" is relative, of course. I did prepare them easily enough, especially since we have an apple peeler and corer which my son was thrilled to be allowed to use by himself! But as I said in an earlier post, they exploded melted out over the edges and onto the bottom of my oven! They didn't look pretty, but once I pried them from the pan, they were so addicting, I had to make them again! Looking at the recipe again, I noticed many reviews having the same problem. Recipe says it yields 6, however, I filled 12 muffin cups, and they still overflowed. Why would I assume they, this big, well known recipe company, would have their measurements right?! Silly me.

Sandy Toes Creations: Delicious Apple Cake Recipe!For round two I used a cake pan rather than muffin tin and it worked beautifully! Once cooled, I cut them into bite size pieces. Good thing they were off to a party (where they were a bit hit), otherwise this would have been a huge mistake! They're hard to resist in the first place, but in tiny morsels, it's hard to justify not eating one more, and just one more after that, and maybe just one last one.... oh they're so little, one tiny little piece more won't hurt anybody? Right?

Just in case the link doesn't work (I mean you can't be too careful), I've copied the recipe below, noting my suggestions in red. (I just pressed 'kitchen view' under their muffin recipe, thinking maybe I'd get a printable page, and got a Baked Ziti recipe card! Beware of Maybe they just like to mess with you!) If you make them and don't like them for some strange reason, drop them by my house. We wouldn't want them to go to waste!

Apple Cinnamon Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
2 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cubed (cold)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease six  muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners. (lies! All lies!) at least 18, maybe 24? Use a cake pan!
2. Stir together 1 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, baking powder and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix in oil, egg and milk. Fold in apples. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling to the top of the cup cake pan.
3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix together with fork and sprinkle over unbaked muffins.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin cake comes out clean.

Quickest way to melt a mom's heart!

Sandy Toes Creations: Quickest Way to Melt a Mom's Heart

I had to share three things my son said to me since last night that made me melt like butter!

"Mom, your hair is softer than a cloud", he said last night as he smoothed my hair out over his pillow and laid on it before falling asleep.

This morning before school, "You're my favorite person in the world, so I just don't want to leave you."

Right after that I gave him a big hug and I said, "I'll take your hug and keep it safe with me all day." Hugging me back tightly, he replied, "And when I get home you can give it back again." And gave me an award winning smile with eyes full of love!

I love this boy! Can he stay five and so sweet forever? He can sure drive me crazy, but he knows better than anyone how to bring happy tears to my eyes and feel absolutely wonderful! What are some of the best things your kids have said to you?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Baking mmm.. can't you smell the apples, cinnamon, pumpkin pie?

Sandy Toes Creations: Fall BakingThe only good thing about being stuck home with sick kids for two weeks is that I had time to bake! I cook almost every day, but only quick meals. It has to be healthy and well balanced, but I am a huge fan of 30 minute meals (give or take) with 3 to 5 ingredients! Better yet, if I can throw it in a pan/oven/crock pot and leave it there to cook its own self, I am thrilled! If it's too complicated, calls for tons of ingredients (especially that are not already in my cupboards), or requires long involved prep times, I will most likely never make it. I will literally look at a recipe without reading the words and determine whether to keep or toss it on the spot, just by how long it is. The only time I spend hours in the kitchen is while baking! Baking is just so much more delicious fun! And when the weather gets chilly, I suddenly want lots of yummy, fattening foods, to warm me up!

Over the last few weeks I made three things that involved a bit more than throwing the usual quick fixes together and were so fabulous I can't wait to eat make them again! So, over the next couple days, I will dig out those recipes and share them with you! Don't fall out of your chair with excitement just yet, I am so regretting that I didn't even think to take pictures of any of these tasty things before it was too late (they didn't stick around long), but I will send you off to the websites where I stole the recipes and they will have beautiful pics there to make your mouth water!

First, I had more apples than I knew what to do with, so made some apple cinnamon muffins with a crumb topping, which, though I followed the recipe exactly(!!), exploded in the oven! Well, okay, they didn't exactly explode, but they bubbled over onto the bottom of my oven, which I have yet to clean (I should apologize to my neighbors for setting off the smoke alarms more than once recently!). What didn't bubble out of the muffin pan was absolutely delicious, though! So...the next week, I made a cake using the same recipe in a cake pan...oh perfection! I cut it up into bite size squares for a Halloween party and they were a hit!

Mmm, cake... I should get some more apples.

Second: I found the easiest, you won't believe how easy (seriously), way to make a beautiful (semi)homemade chicken pot pie that looks gorgeous, tastes great, and would impress anyone! I was impressed with myself.

Third: Last, but not least, I couldn't wait for Turkey day and made my favorite; pumpkin pie! I even made it with fresh pumpkin! I know, I should be crowned mom of the year. But I had to think up something for another Halloween party, so I came across the idea for mini-pies. Sounds daunting, I know, but was so easy and adorable, that I will be making them again for Thanksgiving (how many days till then?)! And thinking up (okay, most likely looking up) other mini-pie ideas. Who knew muffin tins had other uses?!

I'd love to hear your favorite fall recipes while you eagerly await mine.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Latest Project, a dog clothes memory quilt

What am I working on currently? I knew you were dying to know, so here's the latest! I've been cutting squares for a small memory quilt. It's made from dog clothes! Not the first I've made, either. A great keepsake to remember your beloved canine! But, perhaps that's why my cat was so interested in helping? How dare I bring anything with that "dog smell" into the house! Or as someone mentioned to me, "cats must have a strong instinct to craft!" Either way it was slow going, if it's not kids, it's cats! Finally, I managed to get the whole pile cut into nice even squares.

I stayed up late another night, with the cats safely out of the way this time, to arrange them into a fun, colorful pattern. Now for the sewing. I'll have to come back to that when all my helpers are out of range again. 

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