Mickey Mouse Caramel Apples (DIY)

Do you like caramel apples? Do you like the fancy (and quite expensive) ones available at specialty shops?

I am a fan of caramel apples! I have never made them before, but when I was at Downtown Disney and watched the awesome dessert chefs (there must be a name for them) at Marceline's Confectionary create these beautiful Disney-themed apples, I knew I had to go home and attempt to make one!

I was mesmerized by how these chefs worked with the apples and the designs and really wanted to attempt the simple Mickey design.

First I made sure I had all the ingredients:
-caramel squares (after scouring the supermarket candy aisles, I finally found some at Target!)
-chocolate chips
-large marshmallows
-wooden sticks
-red fine sanding sugar
-small yellow jelly beans (this is where candy shops come in handy... you can pick and choose which colored candies you need!)

*I made MANY mistakes during my first trial-and-error so if I included a "tip", it probably means that I am asking you to learn from my mistakes! Haha!*

First up, washed the apples (to remove wax) and stabbed a wooden take-out chopstick into each apple. I started with five because I know I will need back-ups in case I messed up. Then I unwrapped all the caramel candies and slowly melted them in a sturdy pot, adding only 2tbsp of water (or milk if you prefer). The caramel melted very slowly at first, but eventually quickened into a nice creamy texture. Holding the apple by the stick was difficult because the apple was really heavy! I managed to cover each apple with sticky caramel and laid them to rest on a waxed paper-covered cookie sheet. TIP: Make sure the caramel is nice and smooth (almost runny texture) before dipping apples because I was impatient and my caramel-covered apples were pretty lumpy. Also, if you want to stop here with the caramel apples, you can... just add chopped nuts or sprinkles!

After the caramel apples have slightly hardened, I placed two large marshmallows on each side for the "ears". TIP: Use melted chocolate as glue because caramel does not hold up marshmallows well. Also, another TIP: make sure the marshmallows flat circle side (base/top of the cylinder) is facing towards the front because the ears looks cuter this way. Leave the caramel apples with marshmallow ears in the refrigerator to stiffen. Tip: Be patient. I lost one of the caramel apples during this process because the marshmallows slid down. One down, four to go.

(One down, four to go)

Once the caramel and the marshmallows are firmly in place (and not stick anymore), you can cover them with chocolate! To melt chocolate, there are many ways, which includes using a microwave, the boiling water/bowl method, or just SLOWLY melting them in a pot, adding water and vegetable shortening when needed. You want the chocolate to melt all the way and having a runny consistency so it will be easy to pour over the apples. I covered the four caramel apples with marshmallow ears with the melted chocolate and let them sit in the fridge on waxed paper. TIP: This is where "gluing" your marshmallows is important-- apparently the hot chocolate caused the marshmallow ears to melt and slide down the apples. Sadness. Lost three more apples in this process so there is only one left.

(My sister secretly took this picture of my trying to peel the caramel apples from the wax paper)

(As you can see, the warm melted chocolate caused the marshmallows to melt and slowly slides down.)

After leaving the chocolate-covered caramel apples with marshmallow ears in the fridge overnight (again, be patient), you are ready to decorate! I copied the Mickey design from Marceline's Confectionery because it seemed to be the easiest (and cutest) to do!

(Ugh, three down, only one more left.)

Sadly, my only surviving apple had crooked ears.... oh well. I covered the bottom half of the apple with whipped vanilla icing, although I think any thin icing would work. Then I added two yellow (lemon) Jelly Belly jellybeans where Mickey's pants buttons are located. Let the jellybeans sit for a few minutes. Finally cover just the icing area with red fine sanding sugar. (I wish my sugar would have been more red than a translucent red.)

Ta-da! Your very own Mickey Mouse Chocolate-covered Caramel Apple!

(Pretty proud of my first attempt with caramel apples!)

(Here are the failed apples: sliding marshmallows due to warm melted chocolate [left tray] and sliding marshmallows during initial caramel covering [right dish].)

I will definitely attempt this again in the future!

Ingredients: soft caramel square candies, large marshmallows, dark chocolate semi-sweet chips or dark brown/black candy melts, green tart apples, wooden sticks, dark red fine sanding sugars, small yellow jellybeans

Simple Christmas Wreath

I never planned on making a Christmas wreath. It all started like this:

One day, I wondered into my local Michaels in search for some supplies (I think I was looking for brads, glue gun sticks, etc...) and I noticed this LONG line for the register! I have never seen a line wrapped around a Michaels store before! That's when I realized Michaels was having a huge sale on all their Christmas decor and supplies. Curious, I wandered into the holiday section and saw the most beautiful ready-made Christmas wreaths hanging on the walls! They were all 50% off and I knew I wanted to get some for my house (since every year I'm in charge of decorating the entire place).

After looking at the different ones available, I couldn't find the *perfect* wreath-- I wanted something traditional, medium size, and has a nice big bow. I figured that I can buy a plain wreath and individual decoration pieces and create my personalized wreath! I spent nearly an hour searching through Michaels' crazy bins for matching leaves, color schemes, and ornaments. Once I decided my color scheme and my "look", I bought everything (half off!) and was so excited to go home and start.

My wreaths includes a bunch of "Hidden Mickeys" and are traditional in their red, green, and gold colors. I wanted simple, yet Christmas-y!

I love my wreath! I think the entire thing cost a little less than $10... neat, huh?

(plain fake wreath with a wired plaid bow)

(golden and red leaves and acorns with green, red, and gold mini ornaments for decor)

Materials: plain wreath (real or fake), wired ribbon for the bow, mini ornaments, glittered leaves and branches, metal wires (for tying everything onto the wreath)

Mickey Mouse Ornaments

First off, I want to give thanks to the *super* talented Desperate Mousewife of MouseWait. She is always posting incredibly cute ideas (most Disney-related) and I've been itching to try to mimic some of her crafts.

If you have recently walked through any Disney Stores at your local mall or World of Disney at Downtown Disney, you might noticed the beautiful Mickey ornaments on sale for the holidays. After admiring them, you will notice that these babies are not cheap. You can't get away with buying just one because who wants to put only one Mickey ornament on a tree?

DesperateMousewife (DMW) was kind enough to posted these pictures and instructions on the MouseWait lounge:

Directions (from DWM on MouseWait):
How to make a Mickey ornament. Buy plastic ornaments, one large and two smaller. Instructions top to bottom:
1) Measure and mark on each side the same distance that looks good for ear placement. I marked at 1" down. Remove the hook caps from the two smaller ornaments.
2) Use a high temp glue gun tip to press into the ornament to form a hole big enough for the top of the smaller balls.
3) Add some hot glue to the top of the smaller ball and then press inside the hole. Hold until secure. Repeat on other side.
4) Done! You can glue other embellishments on it as well.

This is the story of my attempts to try to recreate these Mickey Mouse Christmas ornaments:

The instructions given by DMW seemed so simple that I ran out to the nearest Dollar Tree and bought some beautiful matching small and medium size red ornaments. They didn't have much of a selection there and I settled for simple red ones.

I was so excited I came home, pulled out my ruler, sharper, mini glue gun, and ornaments to start working. After about 10 minutes of trying to burn a hole with the glue gun into the ornament, I realized I made a mistake-- I was using a low-temperature glue gun! Frustrated, I drove out to Michaels to pick up a high-temperature glue gun since I didn't own one. Luckily, I found a mini one for pretty cheap. (Mistake #1)

Drove home, got with my high-temp glue gun in hand, I was ready for some ornament creation time, but after about 15 minutes to began to realized that even my high-temp glue gun was not going to burn a hole through this shiny, stubborn ornament. Thinking I was just a complete failure (just kidding, but I was bummed and confused), I went back to DMW's post on the MouseWait Lounge and reread the instruction, I realized another mistake-- I had bought shiny, beautiful GLASS ornaments! I was supposed to pick up some plastic ones. Lesson learned: never to skim over instructions, no matter how simple things may look. (Mistake #2)

Because my Dollar Tree doesn't carry uniformed colored plastic ornaments, I had to search far and wide and finally stumbled upon some blue ones at the local dollar store (Viva Bargain is the name). I bought a set of blue (plain and glittered mixed) medium size ornaments and small ornaments, which came out to be only $2.00. Score!

After all that work and purchasing, I finally had some time in my busy Christmas schedule today to attempt to make these cute little guys (while watching old X-Men: Volume 1 episodes).

What do you think?

The first one I made was okay, but the ears were too low on each side.

(Too lazy to rotate picture: top is the initial Mickey ornament-- noticed that the ears are too low on each side; bottom ornament was on the second try)

After that initial try, the rest of the ornaments came out perfect, both the solid blues and the glittery ones!

Success!! Now what to do with them.... currently, they are all hanging out in the pretty Victoria's Secret bag, waiting. My tree is fully decorated and I already handed out gifts... Any suggestions?

Materials: medium plastic ornaments, small plastic ornaments, high-temperature glue gun, additional glue gun (with glue stick) in case you need extra adhesive for the ears, and puffy paint/stickers to decorate the ornament (optional)

Disneyland Snacks: Buttered Popcorn and Coke

If there is one thing you need to know about me when it comes to food, it is that I prefer savory over sweets. Strange huh? I kind of enjoy baking, love to decorate, but I do not like eating sweets! I create, then give away. Once in a while I have to satisfy my sweet tooth, but savory over sweets for me!

One of my favorite snacks at Disneyland is their regular buttered popcorn. There is something magical about Disneyland popcorn that I cannot recreate at home (almost as magical as movie theater popcorn, but that's besides the point). The price of popcorn has risen over the years and now sits at the expensive price of $3, or is it $3.50? Either way, it is expensive for a regular size popcorn. Don't even get me started with their delicious caramel popcorn or kettle corn...

What better way to wash down some buttery popcorn with an ice cold bottle of Coca Cola aka Coke? A coke also cost a hefty $3 or $3.50 at the parks, but at least it is a 20oz bottle, although I do prefer drinking my Cokes from an ice cold can.

Popcorn just got more popular at the parks due to two major holiday money-makers: adorable Mickey Mouse popcorn buckets!

This past October, Disneyland introduced the Mickey Ghost popcorn bucket and Mickey lovers everywhere went crazy over these guys! Due to unexpected popularity, these buckets sold out and quickly became the newest hot commodity! Disneyland cold not keep up with park-goers high demands. Luckily, I was able to snatch one up the minute they became available (and quickly unavailable) again. These things were $9 and came with regular popcorn.

Disneyland quickly realized how much money they can make from selling these things and when the winter holidays rolled around, so did Snowman Mickey popcorn buckets!

(insert pic)

Rumors of release dates began flying around and once the date was settled, I was ready to snatch a few up (one for myself and two for a friend). Got to Disneyland early and took these babies home with me. I have to admit, the Snowman ones are not as cute as the Ghost Mickeys, but I am a sucker for Disney trends. Selling for $11 each, Disney was well-prepared this time around. They seem to have ordered plenty and park-goers do not have to fear these little guys being sold out. Another start thing was that people can buy the Mickey buckets inside specific stores, not just at popcorn stands like previously done. When you buy your bucket in store, you get the empty bucket and a popcorn voucher so you can pick up the popcorn later. Great idea, Disney.

(Chilling inside the Emporium Store)

(Free popcorn voucher with bucket purchase if bought from a non-vendor)

Popcorn locations: regular buttered popcorn can be found at outdoor vendors through both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks; caramel and flavored popcorn are only available at DCA
Mickey popcorn buckets: can be both at outdoor popcorn vendors at both parks; can also be found inside Emporium store on Main St., U.S.A. inside Disneyland

Cafe Orleans at Disneyland Resort

One of my favorite places to eat at Disneyland is Cafe Orleans. Although this place is not as popular at Blue Bayou (the restaurant located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride), I do recommend making a reservation if you know you want to dine here ahead of time. You can call Disney Dining at (714) 781-3463 and their hours are from 7:00am-9:00pm. I usually just call the morning-- this saves me a lot of time!

The food here is fantastic! I have tried several main dishes already and I cannot complain about any of them! Although the entrées are delish, my sister and I would travel into Disneyland to have lunch because of one dish: pommes frites (garlic and Parmesan cheese fries). These are THE BEST fries ever made.

Featured here are the popular Monte Cristo sandwich and pommes frites:

We were planning on ordering desserts, but we were quite full after our meal so the gingerbread beignets will just have to wait (I am so excited to try those!).

Another plus about eating here is that you can people watch if you get seated in the patio area, which is the only place I've sat. Actually, I don't even know if an indoor seating area exist or not!

Prices: about $12-$15 per plate on average
Location: New Orleans Square, across from the Pieces of Eight store, POTC attraction exit inside Disneyland park

Thanksgiving-- Pies All Around!

Apparently I'm known as the "dessert" queen at my "in-laws" house and have unofficially been giving the job of bringing dessert during holiday gatherings. I need to declare something: I am learning as I go. There is no way am I a baker or a decorator-- this is just all fun and new to me!

So Thanksgiving comes along and I was giving the job to "pies" for my boyfriend's Thanksgiving feast. Instead of being adventurous, I opted for a simple apple pie (because I've made that one before) and pumpkin pie (because the recipe seemed easy to follow). I also made some pumpkin spice cupcakes too, but I'll go into more details about that later.

Apple and Pumpkin Pie (recipes are linked)

I should have written this post right after Thanksgiving because my memory is fading and I can't think back to what I did! The apple pie I created was exactly the same as the one I created last year for Christmas so that was simple enough. The pumpkin pie was a bit harder because it was a first time for me! I think I copied this recipe and everything turned out okay! Sorry, if I am being lazy with my post, but I really cannot remember much from that day. I just remember baking ALL DAY LONG and being covered in ingredients and smelling like pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spice with Pecans Cupcakes (see recipe below)

I got the idea of creating cupcakes that are designed like pies from this nifty book I have:

I also stole the pumpkin spice cupcake recipe from my awesome Betty Crocker cupcake cook cook.

I added my own little twist to the cupcakes though: instead of using colored candies to create the image of a blueberry or cherry cupcake, I sugar-coated and roasted from pecans and topped them off on the cupcakes! Now, my cupcakes resembles pecan pies! The sweet roasted pecans added a great taste to the pumpkin spice cupcakes! Yum!

Blueberry Cobbler, Apple Pie, and Derby Pie

My sister and her boyfriend were a bit more adventurous in their baking and decided to try make some new pies! By the end of the night, my kitchen was filled with delicious smells and covered in used bake ware, sugar, and random ingredients. The clean up was NOT fun, but luckily we were smart and wash/clean along the way.

I only got to taste the apple pie and blueberry cobbler, which tastes delicious! The blueberry cobbler was very yummy and the apple pie was perfect with French vanilla ice cream. I didn't even touch my pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice cupcakes because I was tired of the pumpkin smell from baking it all day and night.

Baking can get really tiring! I/We made four pies, a cobbler, and a batch of cupcakes in one long day. Whew! I think I'll hold off on the Christmas baking for awhile!

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes (from Betty Crocker "Just Cupcakes")
-Ingredients: 1box yellow cake mix, one 15oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix), 1/2cup water, 1/3cup vegetable oil, 4 eggs, and 1 1/2tsp pumpkin spice
-Heat oven to 350degrees; place baking cups
-Large bowl, beat eggs, cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, ad pumpkin pie spice together; divide batter evenly into baking cups
-Bake 20-25mins

*Again, I added chopped pecans, which I roasted on a nonstick skillet with sugar and used tinted (brown gel) buttercream frosting for the pie-like details