Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Sweet and Spicy Nuts
I love it when a recipe actually works.  Not only that it works but EVERYONE loves it.  That's the case with these sweet and spicy nuts.  Chris Nease of Celebrations at Home shared an incredible recipe for Sweet and Spicy Pecans that I've made several times over now.

I tend to use whatever nuts that are in the house and each batch has turned out perfectly.  I follow the recipe verbatim except for the nut selection.  I'm not going to take credit for the recipe so you'll need to be sure to visit Ms. Nease's blog.  While you're there, check out all the other great things she has to offer.

These nuts start out with a slight sweetness to them and finish with some heat.  Neither overly sweet nor too hot.  Of course, you could always alter the recipe one way or the other.

Whipped Egg Whites by Substance of Living
Whip egg whites until peaks form.

Mixed nuts added to egg whites by Substance of Living
Add nuts to the egg whites.

Spices and Sugars for Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Spices and Sugars

Making Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Combine the sugar and spice mixture with the nuts

Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Bake on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes

Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Flip the nuts over and bake another 10 minutes

Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Allow nuts to cool on the pan

Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Sweet and Spicy Nuts


Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Nuts by Substance of Living
Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Nuts given as a Hostess Gift by Substance of Living
Sweet and Spicy Nuts as a Hostess Gift

When you get the chance, please check out this recipe.  It really has become one of our favorites.

Findings

  • I've made this with mixed nuts and is terrific.
  • Have used a sugar substitute (such as Splenda) in place of the white sugar and everything turned out great.
  • Perfect gift.
  • Will continue to make.

Have you tried these before?  What did you think?  Do you have a favorite recipe  - if so, please share with us in the comments section.


P.S., These were served at my Redbook + L'Oreal Paris House Party.
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Substance of Living

Monday, May 27, 2013

Semi-Homemade Tres Leche Cake Recipe and A Giveaway!

Our very first Giveaway here on Substance of Living!

Betty Crocker logo
We're so excited that we made a Celebration Cake in honor of You, Betty Crocker, and Publix.  We spent the first part of this year looking for the right fit to kick off our giveaways.  (DH thinks we've found the perfect fit.  Maybe that's because he gets to eat the celebration cake and banana bread.  Hmmmm.)

The first time Marie had the chance to taste a Celebration Cake or otherwise known as Tres Leche Cake was about 10 years ago in Arizona.  It was heaven without the chocolate.  I know, that is really hard to believe that anything without chocolate could be included in the same sentence as heaven.

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Product
It really is hard to decide which mix is our favorite.  Seriously!  We've enjoyed all but the rice flour blend only because we didn't know it was out there.  Everything else has been wonderful, so we have to guess it will be and look forward to trying it out in the near future.

What is fun, is when we share our cookies, cupcakes, brownies, cakes from Betty Crocker and the plate is empty long before the gathering is even half over.  No one knows that our goodies are gluten-free.  All they know is that whatever was on the plate was beyond YUMMY and want more!

We do, however, tell the Celiac or gluten intolerant guests where to go and get there fast.  They get to enjoy food, not feel uncomfortable explaining to people why they aren't eating, and feel normal.  There is a lot to be said about feeling "normal".

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Banana Bread
Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Banana Bread
We, at Substance of Living, are a little distressed because Betty Crocker actually asked us (very politely) to share with you our thoughts on the Gluten-Free Banana Bread mix.  Unfortunately none of the grocery stores in our area have it on their shelves yet.  Publix apologized profusely and offered to place a special order in hopes it would get here in time to write this article.

Promise: To find, purchase, bake, eat, and share our thoughts with you as soon as we can about the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Banana Bread mix.


Tres Leche Cake (Celebration Cake)

Gluten-Free Tres Leche (Celebration) Cake & Giveaway by Substance of Living
Tres Leche (Celebration Cake) - Gluten-Free

Recipe

    Gluten-Free Tres Leche (Celebration) Cake & Giveaway by Substance of Living
  •  Follow the mixing and baking directions on the back of the box. 

Note:
  • In place of the water, Almond Milk was used (this was the first leche (milk) used in the cake
  • Rather than using 3 whole eggs, the equivalent of 3 egg whites were used
  • The 8"x8" non-stick pan from the gift pack was used





Sweetened Condensed Milk and Coconut Milk for Tres Leche Cake by Substance of Living
Sweetened Condensed Milk and Coconut Milk

In a separate bowl, combine:

  • 5 ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 3 ounces Coconut Milk

Note:
3 ounces Evaporated Milk or Goats Milk could replace the coconut milk. 

Bake according to directions and allow cake to cool in the pan on a cooling rack. 

Gluten-Free Tres Leche Cake and Giveaway by Substance of Living
Once the cake has cooled for at least 30 minutes, poke tiny holes around the top of the cake.  Combine the sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk and brush over the entire cake.  Allow each application to soak in completely.  About half (1/2) of the mixture will be used.

Remove the cake from the pan by placing a plate upside down over the top of the cake pan and flip both the pan and plate over at the same time.  The cake should come out without sticking.
Gluten-Free Tres Leche Cake and Giveaway by Substance of Living
Can you see all that moistness absorbing into the cake!  I want to eat it again and again!!!

You might be able to see, in the picture above, that a small section of the center portion of the cake stayed inside the pan.  It didn't make a dent or anything and actually helped with the milks' absorption.
Gluten-Free Tres Leche Cake and Giveaway by Substance of Living


Brush the milk mixture over the bottom of the cake (which is now the top) allowing about 15 minutes to absorb.  Then continue brushing, absorbing until your milk combination is gone or to taste.

If you're not sure, I'd recommend using about a 1/4 of the mixture while the cake is still in the pan and about another 1/4 to 1/3 of the mixture for the remainder.
Gluten-Free Tres Leche Cake and Giveaway by Substance of Living

Frost your cake.  Some people like to use a butter cream or cream cheese frosting but we like the simplicity of whipped cream.

Gluten-Free Tres Leche Cake and Giveaway by Substance of Living
Gluten-Free Tres Leche (Celebration) Cake
 Won't you come sit outside on our patio and enjoy a piece of cake and some coffee or tea with us?  This cake is moist and delicious.  One would think it would be overly sweet, but it really isn't.  I'm not sure why but maybe it has something to do with our using whipped cream instead of actual frosting.

How do you make your Tres Leche Cake?

Your BRAND NEW gift pack will contain:

  • Baking Tool Set
  • 8" Square Cake Pan
  • Retail Value: $60


Now for the Rules

  • Submissions close at 11:59PM (South Carolina timezone) on Monday, June 17, 2013
  • Not mandatory but Highly appreciated:  Please sign up to receive Substance of Living directly in your email's inbox
  • One entry per person, just answer one of the following questions in the comments section of this post:
    • What is your favorite Gluten-Free baking recipe? (You can add a link to your specific post if you'd like)
OR
    • What is your Yoplait Greek 100 flavors favorite?
OR
    • You can share your favorite in each category!  Be our guest!

We will use Random.org to select 1 winner.  The Winner will be announced on Thursday, June 20th. So be sure to check back!

I look forward to reading all about your favorite Gluten-Free and yogurt recipes.  Have you ever tried combining yogurt into your Gluten-Free baked goods?





The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Be sure to visit Betty Crocker and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Please share me with your friends!
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Substance of Living

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Beautiful Thrift Store Wedding

"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue"

Your wedding day is a reflection of you and the life you live.  You are intelligent and savvy.  You could take the easy road and buy everything but you want your day to be personal and one that you along with everyone else will remember.

While you are creating a day that will be forever memorable, how about taking a trip down a local thrift store aisle.  Put on your DIY hat and see all the possibilities.  Thinking about things that will work during and after the wedding will save time, money, and waste.  What wedding decorations will also work in your home?  What wedding favors can also handle double duty as table decoration?

Speaking of double duty and personalization, why not have your wedding party visit the thrift store with you and choose their own dress while helping you find a gown of your own.  Each dress will be unique and showcase personality as well as accentuate the positives.  These will actually be dresses your bridesmaids will be happy to purchase and of course wear after the wedding.


Thrifty Wedding Tips by Thrift Town
Thrift Store Bridal Party Dresses

If you are a tea drinker, you probably have a lot of tea tins and love their beauty.  In case you have been giving away your tins or don't drink much tea, you're still in luck because thrift stores are perfect for tea tins, cookie tins, or even recycled candle tins.

Let's say you have a nice selection of tins.  Now what do you do with them?  Make candles!  Candles are a lot of fun to make and these are super simple.

You'll need a few things.

  • Wax
    • Buy wax at a craft store
    • Melt down those partially used holiday candles or candles that have warped due to storage or candles that you just don't want to have around anymore. 
  • Wicks
  • Tea Tins, Tea Cups, Sugar Bowls, Creamers
I use Candle Warmers Etc. Original Candle Warmer to melt candles for reuse.
Thrifty Tea Tins by Alguma Bossa
Thrifty Tea Tins

Thrifty is synonymous with smart, savvy, chic, eco-friendly, "green", DIY, creative, beautiful, fun, stunning, modern.


Mix and matching plates, glasses, silverware, and linens is "Thrifty".  You can choose a color or pattern that will tie everything together as you'll see in the next few pictures.

See how these plates and cloth napkins, pictured here from Wedding Chicks, go together even though they were Thrift Store items?

Country Chic Wedding Ideas by Wedding Chicks
Country Chic Wedding

Bridal Buds found a unique way to transform Thrift Store wine glasses into Glass Cloches and Candle Holders.
Thrift Store Wedding Finds by Bridal Buds
Glass Cloches and Candle Holders

Abby Larson of Style Me Pretty took her Thrift Store finds a step further.  None of these items individually looked as though they would go together and she made a sophisticated statement by painting them all the same color.
Thrift Store DIY Project: Painted Vases by Style Me Pretty
Sophisticated Thrift Store DIY Centerpiece

I really like this next project by Let's Get Thrifty.  This is perfect for a bridal shower, baby shower, anniversary, and of course wedding.

Instead of having a guest book that will most likely be stored away and brought out from time to time, have each guest write a note or simply sign each square.

After your wedding and honeymoon, you can sit down and make a quilt.  If you don't sew and don't know of anyone who sews, fabric stores often know of someone who will be willing to help you out.

Quilts aren't just for the bed anymore.  They can be made into lap-size quilts (blankets), framed as artwork, made into place mats/coasters/table runners, and so many other uses.

Wedding Quilt

  • Purchase Thrift Store sheets and cut them into squares
  • Permanent Fabric Markers 
Having an area where guests can "sign in" that is in a 3-D format also adds to the wedding decor.  This quilt can easily handle triple duty (1) Guest Registry, (2) Wedding Decor, (3) Home Decor.
Guest Quilt by Lets Get Thrifty
Wedding Guest Quilt

From Thrift Store to eventually Home Decor by route of your wedding says a lot about you.  These Thrift Store glasses and servers make beautiful plant holders and wedding favors.  When you get a chance, take a look at other eco-friendly ideas on Wedding Bee.
Eco-Frienhdly Centerpieces found on Wedding Bee
Eco-Friendly Thrift Store Centerpieces

Shabby Chic, whether indoors or outside is so romantic.  This next setting has the desired elements for an outside party such as; tea party, bridal shower, mother's day, an afternoon of English games, and of course your wedding.

How to accomplish this look:

  • From the Thrift Store you'll need Sheets, Tablecloths, Fabric of different colors or patterns
  • Vases from the Thrift Store
  • Fresh Floral Bouquets made of flowers that are in season from local stores or your garden, Silk flowers or bouquets from Thrift Stores
  • Mix and Match plates, glasses, silverware, napkins, napkin rings from Thrift Stores
  • Tie all together with a Burlap runner, color scheme or pattern
For more rustic and chic wedding ideas, be sure to sneak a peek at French Wedding Style.
Shabby Chic Embracing Rustic Charm by Green Bride Guide
Shabby Chic Embracing Rustic Charm


Put all of these ideas together or pick and choose; either way will create a gorgeous wedding.

Having a wedding that you will remember doesn't have to be expensive.  In fact, what you use at your wedding can be easily enjoyed in your home for years to come.  Your wedding day is one day in your life but it will always be a part of your past, present and future.


What is your ideal wedding?  What plans have you made for your upcoming wedding?  Are you planning a wedding for someone else?






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Substance of Living

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gourmet Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Popcorn

Do you LOVE chocolate?  (I do! I do!)  How about Dark Chocolate?  (Absolutely, without a question!!!)  Now, if you combine your love of chocolate with the deliciousness of Sea Salt along with the all-time favorite movie watching snack - Popcorn, then you have a snack that everyone will LOVE.

The first time I made this, it was meant to be as a hostess gift.  Guess what?!  My lovely and oh so sexy Husband and I ate the entire first batch!  Can you say "Oink!"?  But we only tasted it one kernel at a time.  We rationed that we had to make sure it tasted good enough to give away.  Oops.

The recipe is over on Adrianna's website A Cozy Kitchen and she attributes her good friend Johnna Lynn of Copper Peace for the actual creation.

Chocolate Popcorn with Sea Salt by A Cozy Kitchen
Chocolate Popcorn with Sea Salt

Make sure you visit A Cozy Kitchen for the recipe because I followed it exactly with a few minor changes.  I used flavored chocolates.

Start with fresh popcorn kernels.
Popcorn Kernels
Popcorn Kernels


Add some oil (I used Grape Seed Oil) and three kernels.  Let them pop.
Popcorn Made on the Stove by Substance of Living
Popcorn Made on the Stove


Remove from pan and add the measured amount of popcorn kernels needed.
Popcorn Made on the Stove by Substance of Living
Popcorn Made on the Stove


The popcorn lifted the lid!  When making popcorn on the stove, continuously shake the pan holding the lid so the popcorn evenly pops.  When the popcorn starts to slow down and you can count two to three seconds between pop, it should be done.
Popcorn Made on the Stove by Substance of Living
Popcorn Made on the Stove


Moser Roth Dark Chocolates purchased at Aldi Grocery Store are the chocolates used.  We wanted three distinct flavors.  Two bars each of the Mint and Orange & Almond were added to dark chocolate melting chips.  Again, two dark chocolate bars were added to the dark chocolate melting chips.  All in all, three separate batches were made.
Moser Roth Dark Chocolate
Moser Roth Dark Choclate


Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave.  If you use the microwave, make sure to use a microwave-safe bowl and stir every 20 - 30 seconds.  Chocolate tends to maintain its shape so keep stirring after the first 30 seconds and eventually most all of the chocolate will melt.  Add additional seconds by 10 or 20 after the first stirring.
Melted Dark Chocolate by Substance of Living
Melted Dark Chocolate



Pour the melted chocolate and some of the sea salt over the popcorn and mix well.
Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Popcorn by Substance of Living
Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Popcorn


Using a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or waxed paper, evenly distribute the chocolate covered popcorn, sprinkle remaining sea salt, and allow to cool.
Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Popcorn by Substance of Living
Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Popcorn


Once the chocolate has cooled it will harden a bit.  Doesn't that make your mouth water?!
Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Popcorn by Substance of Living
Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Popcorn

Findings

  • Adrianna, thank you so much for sharing the recipe.  It quickly became one of Substance of Living's (our family, friends, neighbors, and everyone else) favorites.
  • I like the way these chocolate bars melted and flavored the popcorn without overwhelming.
  • Additional flavored chocolate bars could easily be added for a more pronounced flavor.
  • It would be fun to add crushed peppermint candies or peanuts.
  • White Chocolate would be a nice addition.  Maybe with some yogurt added.
  • I will definitely make this again.
  • These make nice hostess gifts or gifts for any holiday or occasion.
  • I'd like to put these in a gift basket.  Try three flavors again but separate them in small containers along with some sweet and spicy nuts and a movie or movie tickets.
  • Making my own Gourmet Chocolate Covered Popcorn is so much healthier and not to mention CHEAPER than buying.
Have you tried this recipe before?  What would you add to the mixture?  Do you serve this at parties or give as gifts?

P.S., I purchased the products listed above and am not a paid spokesperson.  These are my humble opinions.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.
Substance of Living