Saturday, October 24, 2020

What I Learned While Baking Cheesecake

Hello World

This past week happened to hold my birthday and I decided I wanted a cheesecake for my birthday
cake. Not a no-bake cheesecake, but a true New York-style cheesecake. This was also my first attempt. Sadly it didn't work out quite as well as I would have liked, but that means it was a learning experience. As expressed in the extremely underrated Disney movie Meet the Robinsons "From failure, you learn. From success...  Not so much." I also figured that I could share what I learned with you so that maybe you can avoid making the same mistakes. Knowledge is an invaluable tool. Even if you have made multiple cheesecakes, maybe there is something you didn't think of. Also if you have more tips then leave them in the comments below or tweet them at me at @AWitchyMama2020.

1. Use Parchment Paper

Ok, so this may seem like a no-brainer but when I first bake something I follow the directions pretty
much to the T and the directions did not tell me to use parchment paper. All they told me to do was to lightly spray the inside with oil. While yes this worked, you can't really take the cheesecake off the bottom of your springform pan, but if I had used parchment paper then I would have been able to transfer the cheesecake onto the cake tray with no problem. I also think the sides could have come out a bit neater if I had put parchment paper around the sides. Then I don't have to separate the cheesecake from the pan with a butter knife leaving less chance of messing up the edges. I don't think I'll ever bake a cheesecake without using parchment paper again.

2. How to Properly Seal a Springform Pan

The main problem that I had was that my pan leaked. If you didn't know, because I didn't before reading
the recipe, springform pans are not perfect and may let the water in, which will naturally ruin your cake. Now I did seal it, but the way I did it did not work. Luckily it wasn't enough water to ruin the cake completely, but I did have to bake it on low out of the water to dry and bake the bottom half. This didn't fix it 100%, but it did at least make it to where I could remove the outer pan. So, what is the best way to seal a springform pan? When you wrap the pan in foil make sure the foil goes a little above the edges of the pan, then crimp the foil up under the edges. This way water has absolutely no way to get in. I had tried to just seal around the bottom because for some reason I thought that would be enough, alas I was wrong.

3. Have Patients

I am a pretty impatient person, and when it comes to baking I'm sadly no different. There were a couple
things that I didn't let mix quite long enough and that caused there to be some slight chunks in the batter. Luckily it wasn't super obvious in the taste but I wonder if it would have been better had I stayed patient and just let the mixer do its thing. Obviously, I still need to scrape the sides, but I also need to let everything mix properly. This mainly means for me I need to walk away and clean up the mess I've started to make. That way I'm still right there. Also, we cut into that cake way too early. The cake probably should have sat for at least another hour, that most likely would have kept the cake from crumbling. I just really wanted my cake.

Overall, my first time baking cheesecake wasn't that bad. After it sat in the oven for a bit I was able to take it out of the pan. It did kind of sink a little bit and the sides spilled out some, but that's fine. The cake was still cooked all the way through and it tasted fantastic. If you want to make the same recipe I did you can find it here. As I said before if you have any other tips leave them below!



Thank you so much for reading!


Saturday, October 17, 2020

My Top 10 Family-Friendly Spooky Movies for Samhain


Hello World!

If you are anything like me then you probably love to get your family together on the couch, cuddle up, and watch a movie together; and when it's the holidays I tend to put on a seasonal movie. I compiled a list of my top 10 movies to watch during the Samhain season, and I wanted to share them with you. Not all of these movies are directly related to Samhain sure, but they still hold the spirit of creepiness within them. I would also like to add that these aren't really in any particular order, except for the last 3.

10. Mostly Ghostly: Who Let the Ghost Out? (2008) [PG]


I remember seeing this movie on Disney Channel and instantly loving it. It's the first in a series of movies that is adapted from a series of books from beloved children's author R.L. Stine. It follows Max Doyle (Sterling Beaumont) as he helps two lost souls - Nicky (Luke Benward) and Tara (Madison Pettis) - find eternal rest and beat an evil apparition named Phears (Brian Stepanek). In exchange, they help him gain the attention of his crush, who is the most popular girl in school. It's a cute movie. Nothing remarkable, but it's still a must every year for Samhain. If I'm being honest it may be because of nostalgia that I watch this movie every year, but most movies on this list are due to that.


9. The House With a Clock in its Walls (2018) [PG]


This is the most recently released movie on this list so I didn't grow up watching it, but Cora will. I saw this one in theaters and really enjoyed it. Lewis is a ten-year-old who has just moved into his uncle's weird house. Only to find out that his Uncle Johnathan and his neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman both practice magic. Naturally, he wants to learn as well. After he raises the dead his uncle and Mrs. Zimmerman must help him save the world. The movie has some good jokes, but I like it for the visuals. There was one scene that had me general creeped out, so if you have sensitive little ones you may one to wait a little before showing them this one.


8. ParaNorman (2012) [PG]


Of course, I had to put at least one Laika film on this list and it was either this or Coraline. While Coraline has quite a bit of significance to me, ParaNorman is definitely more of a Samhain movie. I mean it revolves around a witch. I remember my grandparents taking me to see this in theaters and I loved it. The movie is about a boy named Norman who, while he has the most normal name, is not normal at all. He can speak to the dead, and for the most part, he prefers their company over that of the living anyways. One day he is told that the witches curse on his town is real and only he can stop it. This movie is hilarious and has great LGBTQ+ representation, as in it isn't rubbed in your face, it's one line, and it's fantastically delivered.


7. Practical Magic (1998) [PG-13]

Click for Trailer

Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock as sister witches? Yes, please! This movie has everything; ghost, murder, sisterly love, and most importantly magic. The movie follows Sally Owens (Bullock) as she goes through losing her husband to a family curse and continuing to move on with her life. I will admit the story kind of goes everywhere, but it's still a great movie. The family feels so genuine when they interact with each other and the end always makes me smile. This movie may not be directly tied to Samhain (except for the last 5 minutes) but it is still a Samhain must watch at my house.


6. Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride (2005) [PG]


Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride is such a beautiful movie. It is based on a Jewish folktale, called "The Finger". The movie itself is about Victor (Johnny Depp) who is betrothed to a beautiful woman named Victoria (Emily Watson) but ends up messing up at the wedding rehearsal. When he runs into the forest he ends up accidentally marrying a corpse bride named Emily (Helena Bonham Carter). The story is definitely a melancholy one. It has some fantastic musical numbers, my personal favorite being Remains of the Day. There are some jokes but the comedy isn't really why I love this movie so much. It's the animation. I love stop motion and the figures for this movie are gorgeous.


5. Monster House (2006) [PG]


I remember when this movie came out I watched it on repeat. It was my favorite movie for a good few months. Honestly, I loved it because it scared me, but not too much. It was like a horror movie for kids, and that's pretty much exactly what it is. It has some pretty creepy moments. As well as quite a few adult jokes, but don't worry they will go over your little one's head, at least they did mine. The major upside to adult jokes too is it makes the movie as enjoyable for you as it is for your kids. The cast has a few notable names such as; Mitchel Musso, Steve Buscemi, Catherine O'Hara, and many more. The characters are fun and likable, which can be rare. Overall it's a really good movie.


4.Beetlejuice (1988) [PG]


The fact that this one is PG kind of makes me laugh, but I have to remember that PG-13 wasn't always a thing and that ratings use to be a lot looser. If you have never seen this movie then I feel you should know that it isn't 100% kid-friendly. There are some language and a lot of sexual jokes. It is probably better for your older kids like Practical Magic, but I personally grew up watching Beetlejuice. It has been one of my favorite movies for as long as I can remember. The acting is great. Everyone's comedy is on point; from dark depressed Lydia (Winona Ryder aka my favorite actress), to kind endearing Barbra (Geena Davis), and of course sleazy disgusting Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton).


3. Hocus Pocus (1993) [PG]

This movie is amazing in every way. The comedy is on point. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy kill it as the Sanderson sisters. Pretty much every important character is likable in their own way. The jokes get me pretty much every time to at least smile. It has the best musical number out of all of these movies. The setting is perfect, I've actually always wanted to visit Salem and have always had a fascination with the Salem Witch Trials, but that is a topic for another day. Did I also mention that the comedy is A+? Now I will add that Hocus Pocus is a bit more intense than Halloweentown, so if you are wanting a movie with witches for younger or more sensitive kiddos then I would go with that one.


2. The Halloweentown Movies (1998 - 2006) [(1&3)TV-G/(2&4)TV-PG]


I know there is some controversy around the fourth movie but ignore that. They were all pivotal to my childhood so yes, I love the fourth one, sue me. Overall these are just classic Samhain movies that most people my age have grown up with. The movies follow Marnie the teenage witch as she grows up. It starts when she's 13 and goes through to when she goes to college. Marnie can be a little annoying, but I absolutely adore Debbie Reynolds as the kindly grandmother witch. I also love that they used a puppet for Benny instead of trying to CGI it. Also, Halloweentown came out on October 17, 1998. That is exactly 365 days before I was born (Oct. 17, '99), which is just awesome to me. With that knowledge, I can also say that the first Halloweentown is officially 22 years old today!


Honorable Mentions

There were so many movies that I wanted to add to this list that just didn't make the cut. I added and removed movies to keep it at 10 and these were what I stuck with. However, no list can be complete without The Addams Family. I also wanted to add The Haunted Mask episode from the Goosebumps series as well as the Goosebumps movie from 2015. These are all quintessential Samhain movies for my family and I as well.


1. Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) [PG]

This is one of my all-time favorite Samhain movies. Especially since it is a Samhain-Yule combo (spoiler alert: you'll likely see this there too). I love that the whole movie is about the spirit of the seasons, which is the most important part of the holidays in my opinion. It was also my favorite movie growing up and I would watch it on repeat no matter the time of year. When my littlest brother was old enough to understand and pick out movies it became one of his go-to's as well, thanks to moi. This has also caused it to be one of my mom's least favorite movies, and now, and really since I was a teen, I only watch it during the holiday seasons as well. It is full of fun music that will get stuck in your head, but every song is a banger so you'll love it anyway. 


So, what is your favorite movie to watch during this time of year? Are you drawn to more comedies or horrors? Tweet me (@AWitchyMama2020) or comment below to let me know!

Thank you so much for reading!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

My Pumpkin Cake Recipe

 Hello World

I love anything and everything pumpkin and pumpkin spice (except for pumpkin spice lattes ironically).
I also love to make cakes. So I figured that I should mix the two together and made some pumpkin cake. I took a basic pumpkin bread recipe and tweaked it to make it slightly more like a cake. The recipe can make a two-layer cake that is 9 inches across or a three-layer cake that is 8 inches across. I chose to frost mine with cream cheese frosting, and it was delicious, though I'm sure a buttercream could be just as good. It is a rather dense cake, but I still think it has a nice texture, quite rich. It also has a nice pumpkin flavor, with the spices complementing it well and not overpowering it. I know cakes normally ask for oil, but I just prefer the texture that butter gives cakes over the oily texture. Plus it's a little healthier... I think... probably not.

This recipe is also important to me as it is my first recipe. Obviously, I'm still learning how to best type
them up but I think it came out pretty good. I'm also still learning how to come up with my own recipes, but it is something I have loved to do since I was little. They tended to be hit or miss. One day I'll use recipe cards, but today is not that day. One thing I see a lot in recipes that drive me crazy is when it says it is a 4 step recipe, but each step has like 4 steps in it. I have decided that would not be a thing with my recipes. I will separate each step so that you get a better estimate of how much work a recipe will be. Plus it helps me keep track of what I have and haven't done easier. Another big thing for me is measurements. When I bake I measure every ingredient to make sure that there is no room for error. Any time I have tried to just throw stuff together it ends in sadness.

If you bake this cake share it, along with what frosting you paired with it, and tag me!




Ingredients:

  • 1 c Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 2 c Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 15oz Can Pumpkin Puree (2 cups pureed pumpkin)
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 c Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix.
  4. Mix in the can of pumpkin.
  5. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin spice, and salt together.
  6. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  7. Grease two 9-inch* cake pans and evenly split the batter between both pans.
  8. Bake both pans on the center rack for 18-33 minutes.
  9. Let cool before frosting and decorating.
*Or three 8-inch pans

I would suggest cream cheese frosting, though, in the end, the choice is yours. Also share this recipe with friends who might use it!

Thank you so much for reading!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

It's October! + Halloween Haul

 Hello World


October is absolutely my favorite month out of the year. It has so much going for it; up north it is sweater weather (the best weather), it has my birthday in it, and it has my favorite holiday, Samhain (Halloween), the air is crisper, there is pumpkin spice everything, and my house smells like cinnamon. It may be basic, but I don't care. I also get to shop at my favorite seasonal store, Spirit Halloween.

I have loved Samhain since I was a kid. Back then it was a day to get dressed up and run door to door

collecting candy. Now that I'm older I tend to dress up and take any kids in the family out trick or treating. Except for this year. This will be the first year that I have a baby of my own. Sadly with the state of the world at the moment, we won't be going anywhere. My plan instead is to curl up with Cora and Cody and have a movie marathon (check back later this month to see my list of favorite family-friendly Halloween movies) with candy, popcorn, and other sweets. We don't really have costumes but we will be matching, hopefully. If the burn ban is lifted I also plan to have a bonfire to honor those who have passed.

I finally got to go Halloween shopping, which was so much fun. We loaded up into the car and headed

to Spirit Halloween. I wondered around with Cody and Cora and looked at all of the animatronics. I was slightly worried that Cora would be scared, mainly that she would get startled, but neither happened. She just looked up at the giant decorations and laughed her beautiful laugh. I ended up picking up the "Elm Street" sign and the Beetlejuice shot glass as my birthday gifts for myself, especially since I'm turning 21. We then went to Walmart to pick up the rest of our Halloween stuff. I had been planning on getting a Halloween book for Cora so as you can see I grabbed one that looked cute. There are a few things I got that aren't pictured, mainly because I forgot to put them with everything else, which are two bags of spider webbing, a shirt for me, a shirt for Cody, and some leggings. Overall, we had a good time.

This isn't as long of a post as I normally would post, but I have a good excuse. The recipe I want to share is my own and I want those to have their own post, so keep an eye out for that. This includes the cake recipe that I mentioned on my Facebook and Instagram pages, which you should follow.

Thank you for reading!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, 7 Months, and More!

Hello World


This month has been quite busy. Fall has finally come and while it is my favorite time of the year it is also an important time for preparation. From preparing for the incoming holidays to preparing for mother nature's worse, there is a lot to do. I have been able to make time to make some oatmeal raisin and some chocolate chip cookies. Plus my little one reached 7 months this month, and there is so much I have learned.

In the past almost 2 years of living where I live I've learned that being stocked on food, water, and wood; is the most important thing. We've lost power and the wood stove is all we had to keep warm. It
does the job sure, but imagine if we weren't prepared. Also when we lose power the water stops running, so bottles water is a good thing to have on hand as well. As for food we just need a lot of dried pasta, beans, and canned veggies. Obviously now I need to have baby food stocked as well. We get meat packs from the butcher and throw those in the freezer and if we lose power for too long we may pack the freezers with snow. Overall, we have pretty much mastered the whole surviving without power thing. We also have been decorating the house, the shelf over the sink is looking the best so far.

With all of the preparation, I didn't have as much of a chance to bake as I would have liked, but I did
[Left] Chocolate Chip [Right] Oatmeal Raisin
get to make a couple different types of cookies. I made oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip. Both came out fantastic. The oatmeal raisin cookies were chewy and delicious. They also didn't last longer than 48 hours. You can find the recipe here. While it doesn't call for it I added some pumpkin spice to them and it was amazing. Be ready for all of the pumpkin next month. I also made some fantastic chocolate chip cookies. They were some simple cookies and they came out really great. It was also nice that they didn't burn, which has been a common problem for me with chocolate chip cookies. Here is the recipe. My fiance really enjoyed them and he is a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, so do with that information what you will.

A big thing that happened this month was that Cora reached 7 months. It's still insane to me that I'm a parent and I spend every second worrying if I'm making the right choices. My mom told me that a big
part of parenting is worrying and that is how you know you are a good parent. A big thing I was worried about was whether or not Cora was meeting the milestones that I was getting from the doctor's office. I had to take a step back and remind myself, and sometimes you may have to remind yourself, that every child is different. Not every child is going to meet every milestone at exactly the same time. I have seen parents drive themselves crazy because their child wasn't exactly at the point that all of their friends' kids were at that age. It's not worth it. I'm happy that at the moment Cora can hold herself up if you place her in a seated position, but she still struggles with getting there herself. She also has finally figured out how to get cheerios from her tray to her mouth, which is adorable to watch. I can't believe that she is over half a year old. It feels like only yesterday she was a tiny newborn in my arms.

My schedule is about to get very hectic. I'm going to be baking and cooking a lot. As well as shopping. A lot of shopping. I also have a few blog ideas bouncing around my head that I'm trying to figure out the best ways to do them. I hope everyone had a fantastic Mabon. I spent mine decorating for the fall and wishing I had a pumpkin to make pumpkin cookies. That is number one on my shopping list for next month, of course, it's October.

Thank you so much for reading!



Saturday, September 19, 2020

Italian Wedding Soup, Apple Turnovers, and More!

Hello World

This week I decided to make some Italian wedding soup for the house, as well as Apple Turnovers with a twist.

Soup is easily my favorite type of dish. I suppose it goes hand and hand with my favorite weather being sweater weather. Nothing is better than a warm bowl of soup on a cold day, you can't change my mind.

Sadly the day I made the soup, it was not a cold day, but it tasted really good. Of course, it wasn't my recipe so I had to search for one on Pinterest. Here is where you can find the recipe. It was honestly quite good, but I did make a couple mistakes while making my soup. First, I didn't think to check the recipe and measure the noodles so I just dumped the whole box in. While the soup was good it lost a lot of its brothyness due to the abundance of noodles. The second thing I did was I bought a bag of spinach that was 16 oz when I only needed 8. the size wasn't the problem, it was the fact that I didn't double-check and just dumped it in. So just like with the noodles I had too much spinach. If I could take anything away from my mistakes it would be that I need to slow down and pay attention to measurements a little better. The meatballs were made by hand and were fantastic. I'm not used to making meatballs by myself. It was something that if my mom decided to do by hand she would have me help. I can't wait for Cora to be old enough to help me so she can have those memories too.

Since getting my new-to-me bread pans at a thrift shop I've been dying to make pumpkin bread, so
that's what I did. I made 2 delicious loaves of pumpkin bread. When I came to the decision to make the bread I was unaware that we were out of eggs, but I wasn't going to let something little like a missing ingredient keep me from my pumpkin bread so I pressed on. I searched the internet for egg substitutes, of course I know about the mayo trick but I prefer to use that for savory things, not sweet things. The second thing on the list was applesauce and I thought "why not?" So, I used applesauce instead of eggs and it came out perfect. For anyone wondering, 1/4 cup of applesauce = 1 large egg. Of course, use unsweetened or cut out some of the sugar of whatever you are making or you stand the risk of making whatever it is too sweet. Overall the bread was really good, as pumpkin bread tends to be. Here is the recipe.

To finish off the week I made some apple turnovers, but these weren't any normal apple turnovers.
Instead of using pie crust or puff pastry for the crust, I chose to use canned biscuits. I sadly can't take
the credit for this idea, but for once it didn't come from Pinterest either. The idea came from my Grandmother-in-Law. I was originally just going to make a good old fashioned apple pie, but she mentioned this idea and it sounded good, plus it was easier than making some pie crust from scratch. All I had to do was take each biscuit, roll it out, fill it like I normally would, then bake it in the oven at 350 *F for ~20 minutes. Did they look pretty? Not really. Were they good? Oh yeah. The filling was a simple mixture of granny smith apples, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. All mixed on the stove on medium-low. 

I think my favorite thing that I made this week was the soup though. It was just so good and I can't wait to make it again in the future. I'm not entirely sure what I'll be cooking or baking next week, but it is sure to at least taste good if it doesn't look pretty. Not everything is about presentation. Especially not food made for your family. Even my ugliest cookies are gone quickly.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Baking Bread, First Teeth, and More!

Hello World

You would be amazed by how exciting and busy the life of a Stay-at-Home mom can be. If I'm not picking up toys, I'm sweeping up cheerios, or I'm baking up cookies that will last all of 5 seconds. So, when I say this week has been eventful what I really mean is; I made some bread, Cora now has 2 bottom front teeth and she did some extra funny and cute things.

My bread loaves rising in their pans
I have been baking bread more and more recently. I would much rather have homemade bread over store-bought any day so I was searching for a good recipe. The recipe I tend to use, and the one I will be talking about today, uses quick-rise yeast. I have used another recipe that calls for active dry yeast, but not this time. The bread isn't anything special and although it makes 2 nine-inch loaves, I only have six-inch pans, so I make 3 six-inch loaves instead. I use this bread for everything; sandwiches, toast, toad-in-a-hole, etc. Basically, if you would use sandwich bread I use this bread, and it tastes 10 x better. As I said I was searching for a recipe, so this is not my recipe, but one I found on Pinterest that I really like. I'm a Stay-at-Home mom, of course, Pinterest is my Bible. Here is the recipe. If you have any recipes to share, comment them down below so I can check them out. I'm still using recipes as I master the basics, so the more the merrier.

It's hard to believe that Cora is 6-almost-7 months old. It seems like only yesterday I was bringing this tiny human home that I now was in charge of. I mentioned in my previous post that she had two teeth cut at the bottom and that she had started eating teething wafers as well and she loves them. They have truly helped with bringing her teeth in. Plus they help with hand-eye coordination, she hasn't quite mastered the cheerio though. Her teeth are becoming much more prominent now so you can't miss them. Of course she bites at the worse times. I know she isn't trying to hurt me but OW! Especially on nights that her gums are really bothering her. I can definitely say that I thought she wouldn't start gaining teeth until she was 1 year old, but here we are, 6 months old and 2 teeth. She's also trying to crawl more and more. She just can't quite get her knees up under her body, but she has been doing a lot of tummy time and playing with toys on the floor.

As I mentioned above she is feeding herself teething wafers, but she hasn't mastered the cheerio. This is because she hasn't figured out how to pick things up yet with her index finger and thumb yet, which is fine. Everyday she is getting better and better. So to complete the week I put some mashed potatoes on her tray amd let her have at it, curious to see a) how much of it would make it to her mouth and b) what she would do in general. Well, she mainly smashed them with her hands on the tray and crushed handfuls. There was a second where she was trying to eat some, but she gave up and just started dropping it off the edge of her tray. She would also bend down and eat it just face directly to tray, it was hilarious. Overall she made a mess, but had a blast, and isn't that what life is really about?

A day in the life of me can be very messy, but I've never minded messy. I'll be back next week with another update!

Thank you for reading!