Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Upset of the Century.

This is my angry face.

Last weekend, my sister and I entered the Mountain Mandarin Festival recipe contest. And, we. were. robbed.
  1. Someone who had a food booth at the festival won the side dish category...With SALSA. Have you ever eaten salsa as a side dish? What kind of food booth did they have? You guessed it, SALSA. Let's just invite Bobby Flay to an amateur barbecue contest.... 
  2. One of the winners turned in a handwritten recipe, when it said right on the rules that handwritten recipes would not be accepted.
  3. Another winner was friends with the judges.  HHmmm....
  4. Frog Eyed Salad placed.
How dedicated were we? We were almost late, so we drove there with the gas light on. Then we (I) had to book it across the muddy fairgrounds in high heels. (I think I was the only person in Auburn that day who owns a pair of heels.) Did I mention it was RAINING? 

Yes, we came home empty handed, but we will be back next year. Just you wait.

Without further ado, I present to you, our non-prize-winning recipes:

Nyki's Recipes

Mandarin Baklava

1 package Phyllo Dough
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 mandarin oranges, peeled, chopped, and drained
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

Juice of 3 mandarin oranges
1/3 cup honey
1” of vanilla bean
Zest of one mandarin
2/3 cup Snow’s Citrus Court Mandarin Orange Syrup and Desert Topping


  1. Prepare sauce: In a small sauce pan, combine the sauce ingredients, except for the Snow’s Citrus Court Syrup. Before adding the vanilla bean, slice it down the middle and scrape out the contents with a knife. Add this, plus the bean to the pan.  Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place the sauce in the refrigerator to cool.
  2. Butter an 11” x 7” baking pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Mix the walnuts with the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. Layer the ingredients: The dough sheets should be the same size as the pan. Place 2 layers of phyllo dough in the pan. Use a pastry brush to evenly coat dough with melted butter. Repeat 3 more times. You should have 8 total sheets. The top sheet should also be buttered. Using half the walnut mixture, spread an even layer over the dough. Add two more sheets of phyllo, and brush with butter. Spread the chopped mandarins evenly over the phyllo. Sprinkle the remaining walnut mixture evenly over the top. Top with 6 more sheets of phyllo dough, buttering every second sheet, as before. The top sheet should be buttered.
  5. Cut the baklava into triangles, cutting almost but not completely to the bottom.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes.
  7. Remove the sauce from the refrigerator. Remove the vanilla bean, and stir in the Snow’s Citrus Court Syrup.  Pour the sauce evenly over the hot baklava.
  8. When the baklava has cooled, cut completely and serve.

Spiced Mandarin Sweet Potatoes


2 medium sweet potatoes
Zest of one mandarin
2 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
¾ teaspoon Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar.

 Candied walnut topping:
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped walnuts
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon white sugar


  1. Make candied walnut topping: Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and sprinkle with the salt, Caribbean Jerk Seasoning, and sugars. Cook, stirring constantly until the sugars are melted. Remove from heat. Stir occasionally as the mixture cools to coat the nuts.
  2. Boil the sweet potatoes until fork tender. Remove the skins and cut into 1” cubes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Toss together the sweet potatoes, zest, mandarins, and Caribbean Jerk Seasoning.
  5. Place mixture in a baking dish.
  6. Top with small pieces of butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Top with walnut mixture.

Charity's Recipes

Lucky 7 Mandarin Bread Pudding

7     mandarins
1   large loaf of day old French bread, cut into one inch squares (6-7 cups)
2½  cups of milk
½    cup heavy cream
1    cup sour cream
3     eggs
1     cup sugar
½    cup brown sugar
½    vanilla bean
2    tablespoons dried cranberries, finely chopped
¼    teaspoon ground cloves
½    teaspoon cinnamon
3    tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 baking pan.
  2. Zest and juice 4 mandarins.  Soak the dried cranberries in the juice while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Peel and section the remaining mandarins.  Chop the sections into smaller pieces, 3-4 pieces per section. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, sour cream, and milk.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape the inside into the milk mixture.  Whisk until the vanilla is evenly distributed.   Add the cubed bread to the bowl and stir gently so all the cubes are saturated with the milk mixture. 
  5. In a separate bowl, gently beat the eggs and add the melted butter while whisking continuously.  Whisk in the sugars, spices, and mandarin zest and then gently stir this mixture into the soaking bread.
  6. Drain excess juice from the soaking dried cranberries and the chopped mandarins and gently stir into the bread cube mixture.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until set.  The bread pudding is done when the edges brown and begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. Serve warm or cold.

Sweet and Spicy Mandarin Chicken Wings

2.5   pounds chicken wings, disjointed
2      tablespoons vegetable oil
4      mandarins
4      tablespoons honey
½     cup brown sugar
½     teaspoon onion powder
½     teaspoon salt
½     tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Line 2 baking sheets with foil and preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Lay wings on baking sheets and pat dry with paper towels
  3. Brush wings with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the skin is crispy
  5. Zest and juice the four mandarins.  Boil the juice, zest, and remaining ingredients in a large saucepan for 3 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.
  6. When the wings are finished baking, remove from the baking sheets and put them into the saucepan and stir gently to distribute the sauce. 
  7. Using tongs, return the wings back to the foiled baking sheets and broil for 3 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Digital Inspiration.

Click for a larger picture.

I've been wanting to make an inspiration board for a long time. Instead of going the old cork board and thumbtacks route, I decided to get my geek on. I have been collecting photos of things I like for a long time, so I had loads of material to work with. To organize my photos, I used Picasa 3 since it is free, and it has an awesome collage tool. I just tossed all my favorite pictures into an album, picked the collage style I wanted and BAM! Instant inspiration. It is my new desktop backgound, so I can get inspired every time I turn on my computer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Little Table in the Corner.

So, here is my little table at the TVAM Holiday Event. Somehow, my table ended up wedged back in a corner; nearly hidden from view. But that's OK. This was my first time selling at an event. I usually just hide out on the internet. So, I learned a lot from this experience:

  • If people keep asking you the same question, over and over again, make a sign that answers that question.
  • Get some packaging for your stuff, so you don't look like a no0b.
  • You will look and feel dumb when your table is the only one without a tablecloth.
  • If you bring four tutus, bring four hangers, not two.
  • Plan your displays beforehand. Don't rely on your years of retail sales experience to get you by.
  • Don't eat 3/4 of a Chipotle Burrito bowl intermediately prior to the event; making you feel too fat to wear the outfit you had planned on.
  • If your are a blogger, don't forget your camera, or else you will end up with crappy phone camera pictures.

These things are easily remedied. My big challenge right now is to create a more cohesive look and better define my niche. My craft ADD is really showing.

Ending on a good note: my banner totally kicks ass.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Here's all my delicious knitted play food for The TVAM Holiday Event! What makes it even cooler? All but the Brown, Black and White yearns were hand dyed by me, AND everything except the donuts and apples were knitted "freestyle," That means no patterns, people! I have had so much fun making all this awesome food, that I am now working on knitted food patterns using chunky yarn, so they knit up twice as fast! (I am impatiently waiting for more yarn to arrive from WEBS.) This also means more fun experiments with dye!

Super Bonus!: What doesn't sell at this event will be available in my Etsy shop on Friday. This also goes for Diapers, Lotion Bars, Sewing kits, Tissue pouches and Zippered pouches.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

When You're This Awesome...

When you're this awesome, you NEEEED a massive banner with your name on it.
Don't I wish... This is actually the sign for my craft fair table.