Totally Tubular Two-fer!

Kowabunga dude!

Don’t ask why I went surfer for this post, neither one of the two things I have to share today have anything to do with surfers, or water at all for that matter. Special shout-out to my home girl Candace who is celebrating a birthday today!! Happy Birthday Candace! It is actually her that inspired both the DIY project and the yummy treat that I have to share with you. Because, it was for Candace’s birthday that I made these:

I already know what you’re thinking… “What are those scrumptious looking bite-sized treats and where can I find a fancy serving tray like that?

I know what you’re thinking now too… “Is she a mind reader? How did she know exactly what I was thinking??

Good news friends, I can answer all of those questions right now. They’re apple crisp cups, and with a little bit of work you can make you’re own tiered serving tray! And yes, I’m a mind reader.

Let’s start with these delicious apple crisp cups first. I wanted to make Candace something for her birthday of course, but she’s not a big fan of cake and frosting (I hear you on that one sister). I was super sneaky and coaxed her into disclosing that she loves apple crisp, that’s easy enough to make. I wanted something that was individual sized though, I knew there would be a few of us gathering together and no one wants to clean up a bunch of forks and plates, am I right? (First world problems at their peak)

I wasn’t entirely sure if it was possible but I set out searching for a simple recipe none the less. I was very pleased to discover that is is very possible indeed! I found this recipe on which is a favorite site of mine. If you’ve never been there and enjoy trying new things I’d definitely suggest it. You can enter specific food items that you have on hand and it’ll search for recipes containing those ingredients. There’s an app for it also, which has a fun “Dinner Spinner” which will select recipes for you, and one of my favorite things about this site is that most people who have tried the recipes rate them (stars, 1-5) and leave their own comments and insights on how to make the recipe better, or different ingredients you can substitute if your pantry is low or void of one or some.

Anyway… where was I? Oh yeah, the crisp cups. So I followed that recipe for the crust of the cups, but I did my own things for the apple filling. Apple crisp isn’t something that’s new to me, and I really like the way mine turns out when I prepare the apples my way, so that’s the recipe I’ll be sharing with you.

Mini Apple Crisp Cups

4 apples (I used a variety: Golden Delicious,  Fugi and McIntosh)
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
dribble of orange juice
dribble of apple cider

2 cups flour
2 cups quick oats
1½ cups packed brown sugar
1½ cups butter
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

Grease the muffin tin of your choice, the original recipe says this make 48 mini cups, I got 24 minis and then made 12 ‘normal-sized’ cups to switch it up a bit. When everything was said and done I ended up having about 1½-2 cups of crust mix left over, but ran out of apples. If you don’t like to waste, perhaps you should get more apples (I think 2 more) or cut the recipe down by a forth (I’m not doing that math for you, sorry!). Don’t hold me to that though, I think it’d be easier to just add more apples. Preheat your oven to 350° and let’s get this ball a’ rollin’!

Peel, core and cube the apples. My grandma and great grandma used to say if you peel an entire apple in one strip, swing it around your head and toss it behind your back, it’ll land in the shape of the letter of the man’s name that you will marry. After 27 years, I was finally  able to peel the entire apple without breaking the peel! (Nina would be so proud) And can you believe that is this what came up after I tossed it??

Okay, okay. That was staged, most of them came out like this:

That’s just not as exciting though, is it?

Side note: Don’t judge our bodacious 70’s style laminate kitchen floor. We’re renting.

Another side note: The only thought going through my head while taking these pictures was ‘please don’t let Tyler walk in and see me taking pictures of an apple peel on the floor…’ He didn’t, thankfully.

Okay, so after you peel, core and cube, (try to eat as little as possible, it’ll be hard especially with the lovely smell of fresh apple wavering below your nostrils, but you”ll need all the apple you can get… I still ate a few slices.. shhh!). Put the apple in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix all of the “Filling” ingredients together. I know I said “dribble” the OJ and cider, that’s not really specific is it? If you don’t have cider then just nix it, it’s not completely necessary and I mainly used it because we had some in the fridge. The orange juice keeps the apples from browning while they sit out and also helps the other ingredients stick to the apples. Set the apples aside and begin to work on the crust.

You know what I love about huge butter bricks? This:

Seriously makes my life so much easier. In this recipe it’s required to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  I hate cutting butter into flour mixtures. It’s so annoying and takes up time and energy that I’d rather spend eating delicious food. Unfortunately I cannot eat said food, unless I cut the darn butter into the darn  mix.

For those of you wondering why on Earth you have to cut the butter instead of just melting it and mixing it in like you would with a brownie batter, let me explain. If you were to melt the butter, it would be liquid (duh) and turn the mixture into more of a runny batter. That is not what we want for these treats. The big chunks of butter are necessary in this case to work as a “paste” to hold the other ingredients together and help the crust mixture hold it’s form while it’s baking. In the case of a pie crust, the big blobs of butter help make the crust flakier.

I’ve seen a few different ways to do this, I’ve even cubed and frozen the butter and rubbed in into the dry mix with my fingers. That was hard, and made my already cold fingers even colder, so I chose to take a different route this time. The easiest way to do it, I’m sure is with a pastry cutter, of course I don’t have one (Christmas gift, anyone?) so I had to use butter knives. Cube the butter and set it aside, if it’s going to get too warm, then place it in the fridge so it stays cool while you mix the dry ingredients.
I started with one knife in each hand, with the blades pointing down into the mixture and criss-crossed. I pulled the knives in straight lines towards the outside of the bowl.

I rotated the bowl every five or six slices, and stuck my hands in to mix it up a bit and get the bigger butter chunks that were hiding from me at the bottom. When you’re done you want it to still be chunky, but not too chunky. The butter balls should be about the size of peas, don’t stress out about it, if some are bigger than others it’s no biggie.

Congratulations! You’ve made it past the stupidest and most annoying part! Now we can prepare the cups. You want to press the crust mixture down into the muffin tins, and pack it tight. I decided to do all of the bottoms before working up the walls. Don’t make the crust layer too thick- you want it to be thick enough to remain sturdy but thin enough to save plenty of room for the apples. Go all the way up the sides of the walls, pressing the mix along the sides of the tin.

I noticed that the butter part of the mix wanted to stick to my fingers rather than the side of the pan. When this happened I simply sprinkled some of the mix that contained more oats or flour onto the butter. This coated the butter better and helped it to get off of my fingers. Definitely keep that in mind, because I think it’s inevitable that this will occur and you’ll be saving yourself some frustration.

wham, bam, thank you ma’am

The original recipe says to sprinkle extra crust mix on top of the apples, I didn’t for the mini cups, but did sprinkle a bit on the top for the bigger cups. Stick them in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or longer depending on how soft you like your apples. I like them to have a little bit of a crunch in them, so I baked the minis for 15 minutes but kept the bigger cups in for about 20-22 minutes. Just make sure you don’t over-brown the crust and burn it.

When they’re done and you take them out of the oven, let them cool in the muffin tin for a bit before removing them and placing them on a cooling rack (this is when it became beneficial to be making two different sizes, or if you have more than one muffin tin).

I was quite nervous at this point, the recipe online didn’t have any instructions on how to remove them, and I couldn’t find any comments from others that gave any advice. Thank goodness I married an engineer! Tyler suggested lifting it out with two knives, and it worked beautifully! After letting them cool for 5-10 minutes, I ran a knife around the edge of each tin to loosen the cups, I then slid the knives down the sides of the cup and lifted them out. They came out quite easily, held together great and didn’t leave any mess in the tins!

Aren’t they just the cutest little things? They’re quite the crowd-pleaser too, these bad boys were all gone in record time. I’m also pleased to announce that the consumers were still singing their praises (and therefore mine as well) the next day! Definitely a winner in my book, and adaptable too. Prefer peaches to apples? Or blueberries instead perhaps? Substitute different fruits for the apple, or make a little bit of each for some variety. I plan to make a few peach ones with my left over crust mix.

But what ever will you serve these cute cups on? Why not make your very own triple-tiered-tray? I went to the thrift store (shocker!) and found an ugly glass tiered tray for $8, but like I said, it was ugly. I decided if I could find materials to make one for cheaper, then I’d do it, and boy oh boy did I do it!

If you’re a fan of Pinterest, I’m sure you’ve seen the ol’ candlestick and plate project. It’s always been something I wanted to attempt, but I’ve never really had the means or motivation to do so. This proved to be the perfect opportunity, and hey- I saved $6! I wanted the candlesticks to match the plates of course, nothing a little paint couldn’t fix.

I poorly mixed some white and black paints and sponged it on. I’ve recently discovered that sponging is my new favorite way to apply paint to something. Brushes always leave streaks behind, which is extremely annoying to me, and forces you to apply more than one coat if you want to get rid of the stupid streaks. Because I poorly (but purposely) mixed the paints together, it left some spots whiter than other, which gave it an antique-y look that I enjoy. When it was completely dry I sponged on a layer of ModPodge, to make it a bit glossier, but also (and more importantly) to protect it from water while washing.

Important note: I’m pretty sure ModPodge is not safe to put on dishes or anything you would eat off of. I used it for these because food will not be directly sitting on them, and they are only there to support the plates.

I took apart the double-tiered tray that I bought (it unscrewed easily) and glued the candle sticks to the plates. DO NOT use a glue gun! Although it is by far the fastest drying glue you could use, it is not reliable and will not hold for long. Use a glue that is waterproof and strong, I’d suggest a super glue of some sort.

Starting at the bottom and working my way up, I glued the first candlestick to the bottom plate, then the second plate to the top of the first candlestick. I then glued the second candlestick to the second plate, and glued the third plate to the top of the second candlestick (got all that?). Make sure you center the candlesticks both on the plates and with each other. This will of course give your tray a cleaner, more polished look, but also provide stability for the plates, ensuring it will not topple over.

Not too shabby for $2! I decided to flip the second candlestick upside-down because I found it aesthetically pleasing, of course you can choose to stack them anyway you please. Any material would work for this as well; wood, glass, metal or even plastic. Just make sure you use the appropriate glue for whatever materials you choose to use to ensure it’s solid structure and stability.

There you have it kids, two super simple things that go together like peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots, beer and pizza… (mmmm…. beer and pizza…). Now get up off your butt- make and bake, and then proceed to show off to all of your friends.

Hang Loose Dudes!


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