Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Lemon Bars April 22, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:28 pm
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Yesterday I was in a rare mood of procrastination. I did not want to write my blog post because I felt I had nothing to write about. There are a few projects I’d like to start but I’m holding off because of our house hunt. Thus my inspiration was running low. So instead of writing I baked. My procrastination got filled up with butter, flour and sugar and a little lemon.

One of Matt’s favorite desserts are lemon bars. Over the last few year’s I’ve modified a recipe from Betty Crocker to become a family favorite.

What you’ll need:

  • Oven heated to 350 degrees
  • 1 8 or 9-inch square pan
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 powder sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • All of the peel from a large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • an additional 2-3 tablespoons powder sugar

To start you’ll mix the flour, butter and powder sugar together. I start with adding the flour and powder sugar together and the cut the butter into smaller pieces. I use my hands to make sure the butter is mixed in well and not left in chunks. Pour the mixture into the square pan and press down firmly all around. Pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the crust starts to brown at the edges. When you take it out, there might be a few cracks but don’t worry, they’ll be covered up in the next part!

While the crust is baking, whip out your Kitchen Aid stand mixer or hand-held mixer. Beat the granulated sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice, baking powder, salt and eggs on high speed for about 3-5 minutes. The mixture will turn a lighter yellow and appear fluffy. Pour the liquid mixture on top of the hot crust. Bake for another 25-30 minutes until the liquid mixture has solidified.

Homemade lemon bars

Homemade lemon bars

Cool for at least one hour and dust with your extra 2-3 tablespoons of powder sugar. Enjoy and here’s to procrastination that tastes good!

 

Gingerbread and Boston December 18, 2013

The 7th annual gingerbread village creation took place this past weekend. This year’s event took a little more coordination than in previous years, because we met up in Boston. As you may recall from a previous post, my best friend Jill moved out to Boston this past spring. Naturally, Bethany, Jill and I wanted to keep the tradition going since we’ve been doing this for seven years!

Bethany and I booked our flights in October and once again we divided up the candy list. We did quite well this year except we forgot sugar cones for our evergreen trees. But that didn’t stop our creativity. We had lots of marshmallows and used those to create shrubberies and an igloo.

By now, we’ve got our schedule down to a science, Friday night after Bethany and I landed and ate a tasty dinner Jill made we got right to work on making our foundations. Jill whipped up an excellent batch of icing and none of us had any major issues in putting up our walls and roofs. The next morning proved to be a little more interesting.

After breakfast we got to work on decorating. Jill’s general store had an awning that proved to be quite difficult. But after some finagling of soup cans and other small cans, she made a support system that would eventually allow her candy canes to take over. Check out the gallery of gingerbread images to see all of the final products.

As for mine and Bethany’s we didn’t have any problems at all. Bethany and Jill were even impressed by my decorating skills. Usually I’m the first one done by about two hours and this year I was last! I think they tricked me though because they gave me the biggest building….

We finished decorating Saturday night just in time for dinner. Jill and her husband Jaz took us to Boston Burger Company. Jill got the Artery Clogger, Bethany the Hot Mess and Jaz and I both got the Run Down. Burgers were delicious. The place also had a nice variety of local beers. To pair with mine, I got a blood orange wheat beer by Somerville Brewing Company. The only bad thing that happened during dinner was that Bethany and my flight got canceled. Luckily, thanks to smart phones we were able to transfer our ticket to a later flight. Phew! Once that was sorted out it was time for dessert next door at J.P. Licks for some tasty ice cream. I enjoyed a small cup of eggnog ice cream that was simply delicious.

The next day Bethany met up with her sister and Jill and I went exploring in downtown Boston. Check out the Boston gallery to see all of the different places we visited and all the snow we trudged through. Here’s a bulleted list of what we accomplished in just a little under three hours:

  • The Old State House

  • Site of the Boston Massacre

  • Saw the Old South Meeting House

  • Went to Faneuil Hall

  • Ate lunch at the Faneuil Hall Market Place (I enjoyed a bread bowl of clam chowder soup)

  • Walked around Boston Commons and saw the Capitol Building

  • Picked up amazing cannoli’s at Mike’s Pastry

  • Went to a ridiculously large Christmas ornament store and bought two ornaments

  • Walked out to Boston Harbor (but didn’t throw any tea overboard)

  • Explored a small corner of Harvard University


We accomplished a lot in a half day but there is still more to see. Guess I better start planning my next trip back to Boston!

Gingerbread 2013 Gallery!

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A few images from trekking around a snowy Boston.

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Ghost Peep S’mores October 29, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:27 pm
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I’m getting into the Halloween spirit this year.  I haven’t been at my current company during Halloween yet, but we are celebrating tomorrow and I’m pumped.  I heard that a lot of people usually dress up which is why I’m excited.  At my last company I always tried to get people to dress up and every year there would only be about five of us!  Oh and there is a potluck so there is bound to be delicious food to eat all day long.  I searched on Pinterest for an idea of what to make that had a Halloween theme.  Some of the ideas I found were too good, which means they disgusted me.  I mean who wants to eat something that legitimately looks like a bony finger or a brain?  Sorry not me!  Luckily I found this little gem on Mary’s blog ‘Home is Where the Boat is’:  S’more Brownies made with ghost Peeps!  It’s such a fun twist on a s’more and the little ghosts are so cute!

This recipe is pretty easy to put together.  The part that scared me the most was the graham cracker crust, but it turned out to be a cinch!  I pretty much followed Mary’s instructions to a T, but I thought I’d share my pictures with some instructions of my own.  Feel free to click on her blog name above to be taken to her post.

You will need:

ingredients

8×8 buttered pan
1 ½ cups Graham Cracker crumbs
2 tbs sugar
1 pinch salt
8tbs/1 stick of butter
Brownie mix of your choosing
1 egg
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Ghost Peeps
mini chocolate chips

1.  Start off by setting the oven to 350 and buttering your pan like so:

butter

I used the stick I would soon be melting for my crust to save myself some trouble

2.  I set the pan aside and mixed together the first 3 ingredients in a glass bowl.

3.  Once those were mixed, I placed my stick of butter in a glass bowl, cut it up a bit and melting it in the microwave at 30 second intervals.  I made sure there were no lumps left and then poured the melted butter into the graham cracker mixture.

sand

Graham Cracker Mixture with Melted Butter

This is the part I was afraid of.  Mary didn’t have any pictures for this step and I really didn’t know what to expect.  I thought it would be hard to combine the melted butter with the dry ingredients, but thankfully I was wrong!  It ended up combining really well.  It’s like the consistency of damp sand.

4.  I poured the graham cracker mixture into the buttered pan and used a metal spoon to flatten it down into a crust.  Again this was super easy and I was relieved at how I didn’t mess it up!

crust

5.  The flattened crust went into the oven for 10 minutes.

6.  While the crust was baking, I combined the next four ingredients to create my brownie batter.  Please note that you may have different ingredients for the mix you choose to buy.

7.  Once my timer went off and the crust was out of the oven, I poured the mixed brownie batter into the pan.  Lucky for me the brownie mix I bought still required the oven to be at 350 so I popped it in right away and set the timer for the specified time on the box.

Oven view

Can you tell how much I like the brand new oven at my new place? It has a window and a oven light! Don’t laugh…my last oven was pathetic!

 8.  Once the timer was done I removed the pan and turned off the oven.  I then grabbed the Ghost Peeps and started placing them on top of the brownies.  Careful the pan will be hot still.

ghost line up

*Please note this is a bit different than Mary’s recipe- During the last couple minutes of her brownies cooking, she sprinkled chocolate chips to adhere the ghosts to the brownies.  I didn’t have enough chips to try that, but I’m sure they will still turn out okay.  The other thing to note is I fit more ghosts on my s’mores.  3 rows of 5 instead of her 3 rows of 4.  Whatever fits for you, just thought you should be prepared with extra Peeps if you need them.

9.  I turned on the broiler in the oven and set the pan inside.  This is where the oven window and light came in real handy.  I watched those ghosts every moment to make sure they weren’t burning!  You do really need to stay near the oven this whole time.  It maybe took my ghosts a minute to brown up.

Once you take the s’mores out of the oven, you’ll notice that their cute little faces have melted away.

faces gone

Tear!

10.  But that is where the mini chocolate chips come in.  Just place three on each ghost, 2 for eyes and 1 for a mouth and you are all set!

done

I can’t wait for people to try these tomorrow at the potluck.  Now it’s time to get my costume ready!  Maybe I’ll add a picture tomorrow so you can see what I dressed up as.

 

Scrumptious Success and a Total Pinterest Fail June 17, 2013

I’ve been doing a lot of one of my favorite things lately…baking!  There have been a few occasions to bake for, and I was entertaining some kiddos this week who needed some fun projects, so I made baking one of those too!  As y’all know, I’m a tad baking obsessed.  However, if I’m going to turn on the oven in the summer’s heat, I may as well get a bit adventurous and try a few new ideas.  If you’re looking for a tasty dessert for a summer party, hanging out on the deck with friends, or just to have when your sweet tooth strikes, try one of these…

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Encrusted Oreos

You will need:

2 sticks of softened butter

1 c. sugar

3/4 c. brown sugar, packed

1 tbsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1 tsp. salt

3 1/2 c. flour (I used an even 4 cups to make my cookies more successful in higher altitude)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 pack Oreos

1 bag milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar in your mixer.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Combine your dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Slowly add your dry ingredients to your mixer, making sure all clumps are blended out.  Stir in your chocolate chips.

Now comes the really fun part!  Put a ball of dough on the top and bottom of an Oreo, forming it around the Oreo cookie.  My advice on this part is use just enough dough to cover the Oreo but not smother it (the kiddos and I learned this the hard way, as some of our Oreos ended up drowning in cookie dough when they emerged from the oven!).

Bake 12 minutes on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (my favorite way to keep all my cookies from browning too dark on their cute little bottoms!).

These babies ended up delish….I mean honestly, one of the most delicious and indulgent bites of homemade dessert I’ve had in a long time.  I highly recommend them!

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Cake Batter Dessert Dip

This dessert is such a great one for summer, as you don’t even need to turn on your oven!  Also, this would be a good go-to for entertaining outside, as you don’t have to worry about anything getting gooey and melty and your guests can just dip as they please, no need to serve anything up.

You will need:

2 c. lowfat plain yogurt

1 c. lite whipped topping (CoolWhip is good, or your grocery store’s generic twin)

1 box Funfetti cake mix

1 bag animal crackers, for dipping!  (or if you are feeling frisky and want to bake with this dip, a simple drop-sized sugar cookie should do the trick…a good soft sugar cookie like this will do just fine)

Mix all of your ingredients together in your mixer, 3-4 minutes or until completely smooth and mixed.  Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

*Recipe amendment: If you want it more fluffy & sweet instead of cake battery and a tad sour from the yogurt, try going half and half with your wet ingredients and do 1 1/2 c. each of the yogurt and whipped topping.

ImageAnd, as I promised…my first complete and total Pinterest FLOP…

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On the left you can see how adorable these cupcake cones are supposed to turn out…and on the right, my flop.  The batter totally overflowed and didn’t puff up the way I thought it should (my own fault, I should have added more flour to my cake mix but forgot).  The worst part, which you can see evidence of on the right side is that they got top heavy and literally fell over overnight.  Hmm….if I attack this project again with more successful results, I will certainly share so y’all don’t run into the same horrendous mess of soggy cones and frosting!

 

Lazy Cake Cookies June 11, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:03 pm
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I’ve noticed this post has become quite popular lately and it looks like most of you are coming from Pinterest.  I’m a little embarrassed because it is literally one of the shortest laziest posts I’ve ever written and I write a post every Tuesday for the past 2-3 years!  A little ironic don’t you think?  Anyway, if you haven’t visited before, this blog actually has four contributors and I’m just one of them.  Please check out our other posts.  We write about travel, DIY projects, our careers,aspirations, share personal stories and of course recipes!  If you have a particular interest, just click on one of the key words located in the green word cloud to the right.  If you are visiting us from a mobile device, the cloud will be near the bottom of the page.  Welcome to all and I hope you enjoy Uncharted.

~Kelly

June is a very busy month, something every weekend and just a lot going on.  So when I found a pin for ‘Lazy Cake Cookies’ on Pinterest it sounded perfect for me.  When I clicked on the pin it brought me to a website called I’m a Lazy Mom, which I’m not {a mom I mean}.  Lazy is another question altogether.  Below is the recipe.  I swear to you, I am the worst baker and it was still easy for me to do!

Ingredients:
1 box yellow or white cake mix- I used Funfetti
2 eggs beaten
5 Tbs melted butter
2 Cups M&M’s or mini chocolate chips- I used mini chocolate chips {because that is what was in the pantry}

Mix together:

prebake

Put in a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 min!

baked

Then cut them up and enjoy!  I made these on Sunday and already about half the pan is gone.  I had a little help, but I need to be careful.  These are so easy to make it’s dangerous.  Next time I’ll make sure I have somewhere to take them!

 

7th Annual Gingerbread Extravaganza December 12, 2012

Last weekend was our annual gingerbread extravaganza. This year’s location was Bethany’s in Indiana. Fortunately the weather cooperated and made for an easy short drive for me!

As you read in last week’s post, I was in charge of making the gingerbread. Which after some practice, actually turned out pretty decent. (Even by Jill’s standards!) We each had to pick up a few candy items as well. As you can see we had just a little candy to decorate all of our houses.

This year was marked by a few interesting hiccups. When I packed for the trip, I placed each house in its own bag because I try to be organized. As we were getting ready to start, we unloaded the bags and low and behold, I totally forgot to make Bethany’s roof. Time for a quick trip to Jewel! We picked up Crisco and molasses and headed back to the house for some backing. Then we also picked up a gingerbread cookie cutter to make some people for the houses since Bethany didn’t have one and Jill and I both forgot ours.

Another hiccup came when we realized that Bethany doesn’t have a Kitchen Aid mixer like Jill and I do, so we were reduced to making the icing using an awesome hand mixer. It was a great workout. The last hiccup was the actual icing. We’re sure it was either the 10-year-old cream of tartar or the fact that we couldn’t get the icing to lose its shine due to tired arms that it wasn’t quite as cement-like as it should have been. But that didn’t stop us.

With the house smelling festive after baking the gingerbread, we finally were ready to start. Bethany got out all of her soup cans for us to begin icing and making sure our buildings wouldn’t collapse. The cans definitely helped since our icing was not solidifying. Luckily, we were still able to get everything done Friday night.
Saturday was dedicated to decorating. Once the Pandora Christmas station was playing and breakfast was over, we worked straight through until about 4PM. Once again I was delegated to tree making and Bethany to the fine decorating of the faces on the gingerbread men. We finished a little earlier than normal because I made smaller houses than Jill had in previous years. I think they all turned out very well.

Despite our hiccups, we managed just fine. Plus we had a great time catching up and thinking of ideas for next year’s extravaganza. What do you think? Check out the gallery below!

 

A Taste of Home December 10, 2012

I know, it’s been forever since I last posted!  I told myself when we started the blog that I wouldn’t let this happen, but well, life happens! And even though blogging is something I really enjoy, I found myself bogged down by life.  But what better time than to cheer up and lighten up than the holidays?

Even though I’m a grown woman of 27, my mom still sends me gifts for St. Nick’s day.  I love it.  It warms my heart, plus who doesn’t love getting something other than bills and coupons in the mail?! So when I received my St. Nick’s package this week in the mail, I was thrilled to find Christmas PJs, an evergreen candle, a beautiful leaf ornament, and Frango mints.  I’m a huge fan of Frangos.  They remind me of Chicago and old school Marshall Fields.  These particular Frangos were the Limited Edition Candy Cane Frangos, even better than the norm!

Image

Jonathan’s sweet tooth has been growing lately, particularly in the evening.  So tonight when he told me that he had a hankering for sweets, I decided I wanted to come up with something that incorporated my delicious St. Nick’s Day sweets.  I combined a few different recipes I found online, added my own twists, and of course my Frangos…and these chocolate Frango cookies turned out absolutely delectable!

Here’s what you need…

6 tbsp. butter, roughly chopped

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup chocolate chips

2 eggs

1 1/3 c. flour (I used the extra 1/3 cup because I’m baking in high altitude, but if you’re closer to sea level, go for 1 cup even)

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

10 (or so) roughly chopped Frango Candy Cane Mints

Melt the butter and chocolate chips on low.  Set aside and let cool.

Combine the sugar and eggs, and your butter/chocolate mixture once it cools.

Add in all the other ingredients.

Roll into 1 inch balls and slightly flatten onto a cookie sheet (I like to put my cookies on top of a sheet of parchment paper, since it gives them a perfect, soft cook without scorching the bottoms).

Cook at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Thoroughly enjoy with a big glass of milk!

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Happy Holidays!!!

 

 
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