1 tbsp lemon juice (optional, but I like the tartness it provides)
3 cups milk
1 cup icing sugar (also known as powdered sugar or confectioners sugar)
3 tbsp finely chopped pecans (to sprinkle on top)
I’ve had many readers from Australia and the UK ask if there’s an alternative to Cool Whip (I guess it’s a North American thing?). A thoughtful reader passed this recipe for homemade Cool Whip for those of you who can’t find the name brand in your grocery stores.
TO MAKE THE CRUST:
Combine flour, chopped pecans and melted butter. Make sure your pecans are either ground or chopped very finely. This will produce a crust that holds together nicely.
Stir these three ingredients until well-blended and crumbly.
Press this mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes.
ADDING YOUR LAYERS:
With electric beaters, mix cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.
Fold in 1 cup of Cool Whip, and spread over crust.
*If your crust pulls apart, don’t panic. Your pecans were likely a bit course (ask me how I know this). Just work slowly (you may have to get your fingers in there) to spread the cream cheese layer as best as you can.
Whisk together pudding packets and milk. Add lemon juice, and continue to stir until thick.
Since first publishing this recipe a little over a year ago, it has received over a half a million views, hundreds of comments, and people have written to me from all over the world telling me that it is now their favorite dish. And the best part is it is super simple to make! I originally came up with this recipe when looking for a new side dish for BBQs. I am not a big fan of mayo and wanted something a little less “wet” and non-traditional. It has been a wild success and I’m not allowed to host any BBQ now without making this and doubling the recipe!
Fully Loaded Baked Potato Salad
One 5 pound bag medium Russet Potatoes
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 package of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 small onion, chopped
Chives, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash the potatoes and poke holes in them with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until fork tender.
2. Cool and cut the potatoes into bite sized chunks. I put them in a separate bowl and once they cooled enough I put them in the fridge to cool all the way. This gives them an excellent texture and prevents the dairy ingredients from getting hot or the cheese from melting. If you are serving this salad hot then you don’t need to cool the potatoes, just skip that step!
3. Mix the mayo and sour cream together in a bowl. Add to the potatoes, then add the onions, chives, and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste – I use a pepper grinder and a sea salt grinder for EVERYTHING so I never know exactly how much of either I put in. I think the taste is far superior to just using regular table salt and pepper.
4. Top with extra shredded cheese, bacon, and chives, and serve!
This is a simple and inexpensive side dish for any meal but especially great to take to a barbecue. My favorite part is that this is one of the regular ole recipes that anyone would make without realizing that it happens to be gluten free naturally. Those are my favorite! No special ingredients or expensive grocery stores, just regular food that I can eat along with everybody else. And it’s delish!
Wire wreath form (I used an 8″ form. You can get these at craft stores.)
Fishing line or stout thread
Long needle with a fairly small eye
Floral wire (optional)
1 package cranberries
About 4 cups popped popcorn
For the sake of birds’ health, use unsalted, unbuttered popcorn only. It’s best to use air-popped popcorn with minimal added oils. If you use pre-packaged microwave popcorn, choose only “Plain” or “Natural”.
Author’s Note: I had several readers who commented they were concerned about the use of fishing line in this project. I actually chose it over thread because it is very strong and much less likely to break or come loose and get tangled in bird bills or feet. Fishing line usually causes problems when it is loose and a bird becomes tangled in it, such as when a fisher discards a broken line along the shore instead of in the trash. Fishing line is actually pretty hard to break, and if tightly tied around the wreath is unlikely to cause problems for the birds. However, if you are concerned about using fishing line, use strong thread instead.
I found it was easiest to work in shorter sections around the form. Cut a three-foot length of fishing line and knot it to the wire wreath form. Thread the needle and begin stringing the popcorn and cranberries. I used three popcorn kernels, then one cranberry, and so on.
Once you have about a foot of popcorn and cranberry strung, carefully wrap it around the wreath form. Continue stringing and wrapping until you reach the end of the line. Tie it off firmly to the wreath form.
Repeat steps one and two until you have covered the wire form.
If you like, you can use any leftover cranberries to create a “bow” at the top. Cut a length of floral wire about 3 feet long. String it with cranberries, twist into a bow shape, and attach with additional wire at the top of the wreath.
Use floral wire to add a hanging loop to the top of the wreath, and hang it out for wildlife to enjoy!
What other ideas do you have for decorating your yard while also providing a banquet for birds? Share with us in the comments!
Baking can be an infuriating science, but the advantages far outweigh the headache. Fresh-baked cookies whenever you damn well please? Homemade pancakes to feed your hot date the day after? Girly, indulgent cupcakes in the privacy of your own home? All reasons you should learn to bake.
Especially when just starting out, there are many ingredients and pieces of equipment you won’t have, but, with these life-changing baking hacks, you won’t need them. Give some of these a go next time you try your hand at baking. You’ll look like a pro – or at least fake one real well.
This also gives you amazing arms. Chill a Mason jar in the fridge. Fill it halfway with heavy cream, add a teaspoon of powdered sugar, seal the lid, and shake vigorously for 2 minutes or until it’s thick and fluffy.
For recipes that call for cut butter or folded butter – like pies, biscuits, and croissants – grate the butter into the dry mix for the same effect with less effort.
Make buttermilk in 10 minutes with ingredients you already have
Stir together 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or white vinegar). Let it sit at room temperature until thick and slightly curdled, about 10 minutes.
Bring cold butter to room temperature quickly
Many baking recipes call for butter at room temperature, but that can take at least 30 minutes. Save some time with this cheat. Cut butter into chunks. Fill a glass bowl with hot water. Pour out the water and invert the hot bowl to cover the butter. Let sit for 2 minutes, uncover, and use.
Soften crispy cookies
Whether they turned out crispier than you like, or they’re one day too stale, place a slice of sandwich bread in the cookie jar. The following day, cookies will be soft, chewy, and moist.
Credit: Laura Murray/Thrillist
Roll pastry dough without a rolling pin
Use a chilled wine bottle. The cold will also prevent your dough from softening too quickly.
DIY corn syrup
Melt 1 cup of sugar with ¼ cup water over medium heat until sugar melts, about 3 minutes. It’ll thicken up as it cools.
Mayo makes an effortlessly moist cake
For a moister crumb, add 1 cup of mayonnaise to the batter.
Use a muffin tin for even cookies
For soft and evenly round cookies, bake them in a muffin pan so they don’t spread out.
Credit: Laura Murray/Thrillist
Keep brown sugar soft
Toss a strip of rind from an orange or lemon in with the brown sugar and seal it in a Ziploc bag or container. It’ll stay nice and soft. A slice of bread or marshmallows will also work.
Soften brown sugar when it’s already hard
Microwave it in a baking dish covered with a wet paper towel for 20 to 30 seconds. Use a fork to break it apart. It’ll feel like packable sand once again.
Slick measuring cups before scooping sticky ingredients
Honey, syrup, molasses… whatever sticky substance you measure will slide right out when you spray the measuring cup with cooking spray first.
Prevent blueberries from sinking for even distribution
A dash of flour will help blueberries – or whatever you’re throwing in your batter – defy gravity. The flour makes them stick to the batter and stay suspended instead of sinking to the bottom. Toss berries with a tablespoon of flour before folding them in, but use flour from the recipe – don’t add extra.
Credit: Laura Murray/Thrillist
Separate eggs with a plastic bottle
Break eggs into a bowl. Use an empty bottle to suction the yolks out.
Use a Ziploc bag for detailed icing
Fill a Ziploc bag with frosting and cut the tip off one corner. Squeeze the frosting through the hole and pipe it right onto your treat.
Frost cupcakes quickly with an ice cream scoop
For that “Magnolia look,” use an ice cream scoop to portion out the frosting onto the cupcake. Then turn the scoop over and use the rounded end to spread it out to the edges, leaving a cute crater in the center.
Today I want to share a cute and easy idea for making your own wine corks! These fun, decorative corks make sweet gifts. I love using them in my home because they add a little bit of personality!
Supplies needed: wood spools and corks (i got mine from hobby lobby), double sided tape, wood glue, embriodery thread, scissors.
1. Use double sided tape to begin adhering thread to your spoot. You can use a vintage spool with thread already on it if you like too. 2. Wrap thread around the entire spool. Be sure all the wood is covered. 3-4. Use a small dot of glue to secure the end of the thread. Rub it in so that it will dry clear.
Next, Adhere your corks to your spools using wood glue. Let them dry completely.
Aren't they cute!? This project is super quick and a fun gift idea for any wine lovers in your life!
I also wanted to share a few other D.I.Y. projects using corks. I love this coaster project from Apartment Therapy.