Monday, April 22, 2013

Diaper Box Storage

     Anyone need extra storage? If your house is like mine, it was obviously designed by someone who didn't have any stuff. My kitchen has a whole wall that could have cabinets on it, but it's just bare. My plan is to build a hutch for that, but that is a post for another day. For today, I have a cheap and easy solution to some of my storage needs.
     We have lots of diaper boxes. Some of them are currently holding things for a big yard sale, but some were just being saved for a rainy day. On Pinterest one day, I saw people recovering their diaper boxes with fabric to turn them into beautiful storage. Well, fabric is expensive...and we get the big diaper boxes. Seriously, the cheapest fabric I could find that would come close to fitting my decor was . I also found some using wrapping paper. This would probably be fine if you mod podged it on so it wouldn't tear. My solution is a little different.
     I was looking at storage boxes at the store one day, and saw one that would fit perfectly above my kitchen cabinets. You know, the unused vertical space between your cabinets and the ceiling. I thought this would be the perfect space to put things you don't use very often. The problem was that basket was $20! Seriously, I was going to buy 3 or 4 of them. That was just not going to work for me. That particular basket had stripes on it, and I thought I could do that would yarn and a diaper box. Originally, I set out to find a few colors of coordinating yarn to do stripes, but then I found some bulky yarn on clearance for $1.99 that matched the greens and browns in my house. I also bought some contact paper to cover the print on the diaper box...because yarn is hard to get so close together that you can't see what's under it.
     The result: An over the cabinet "basket"...Now, I just have to make about 10 more of these!
  • Cut diaper box top off and trim sides down to fit your space if needed.
  • Cover box with contact paper. You could stop here I guess, but I was going for a different look.
  • Wrap yarn around the box until covered. I used glue to secure it every now and then.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Microwave Sea Salt Caramels

     When I got this month's assignment for the Secret Recipe Club, I got right to work picking and trying out several recipes. Ellie, from The Bitchin' Kitchin', has tons of recipes that appealed to my sweet tooth! Over the last month we have tried the Cookie Butter Cupcakes, Chai Spiced Scones, and Brownie Batter Pancakes. All of these were just great, and you should try them if you get the chance. One recipe stood out above the rest.
     I was skeptical when I saw the recipe for caramels in the microwave. Really, is there anything good that can be made in the microwave? Somehow this wonderful machine can magically transform chicken into rubber, and it can also turn a few ingredients into delicious caramels! I could not stop eating them...and the recipe makes a ton. J had to take them to work before I ate them all.
     Overall, the caramels are easy to make. A word of warning to you: You have to watch it as it cooks, because it will boil over into your microwave and you'll have a mess! I recommend stirring every minute or when you see it's starting to boil over instead of every two minutes. Stirring helps the caramel settle back down. At one point, I wondered if making caramels in the microwave was really easier than standing over the stove and stirring constantly. Either way you do it, these caramels taste amazing. Just make them.
     I pretty much followed Ellie's recipe. I didn't have sweetened condensed milk, so I found a recipe to make some homemade. I may never buy it again. You can adjust this according to how much your recipe needs so you won't have any left over. Brilliant.

Microwave Sea Salt Caramels

by Robin
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 6-7 minutes
Ingredients (24-40 caramels)
1/4 cup butter, cut in 8 pieces
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Coarse sea salt
  • Combine the sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, butter, and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave proof bowl. The bowl should be at least 2 quarts to allow for the caramel to expand as it cooks.
  • Cook it in the microwave on full power for 6 minutes (for soft & chewy texture) or 7 minutes (for firm yet still chewy texture), stopping and stirring often during the cooking time.
  • Line an 8x8 baking dish with aluminum foil, making sure the foil extends up the sides. Coat the foil with cooking spray.
  • Pour the hot caramel into the dish and Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt. Put it in the refrigerator until it is firm enough to cut, 40-60 minutes.
  • Remove from the fridge. The firmed up caramel will have taken the shape of the dish, so you can lift by the foil edges to remove the entire piece at one time. Peel off the foil.
  • Use a large knife to cut the caramel into whatever size you prefer.Put the caramel on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper for easier cutting and removal later. Otherwise, it may stick to the cutting board.
  • Wrap individual pieces in parchment paper and twist the ends.You can also layer them on top of parchment paper in a covered container.
  • Store in fridge or at a cool room temperature. If refrigerated, make sure to bring the caramels back to room temperature before indulging.
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