Thursday, March 20, 2014

No Calorie Doughnut Pin Cushions


Do they look good enough to eat?

 
What is your favorite flavor?  How about raspberry icing with multi-colored sprinkles?  Or chocolate frosted with multicolored sprinkles.  My favorite?  Vanilla frosted with caramel sprinkles!

 
A needlewoman never has too many pincushions.  I find it helpful to have one in most rooms, so I baked up this batch of three felt doughnut pincushions.  I was browsing the April/May issue of Sew-it today magazine and discovered these cute pin cushions as one of the many featured projects.  They were so fast and easy to whip up.  


There are essentially only four steps:
  1. Cut your felt doughnut circles and your felt icing circle.  ( I used my Spellbinders Nestibilities Peonie die for my frosting and ran the felt and die through my Cuttlebug.  You can easily hand cut any icing design you like.)
  2. Sew the center circle on the sewing machine (right sides together and then turn out)
  3. Bead the frosting.  (If you prefer not to use beads, a simple straight stitch or french knots could be used to achieve the sprinkles look.)
  4. Whip stitch the edges of the doughnut for a couple inches and then stuff with whatever stuffing you choose (I used fiberfill).  Then continue stitching and stuffing until you complete the circle of the doughnut.  Be sure to pull the thread snugly to create a crimped border as you are stitching. 

Aren't they just the yummiest pin cushions?  And don't you just love my fancy pins?  I didn't make these but I did purchase them from  Nik Nax by Arlana  who has an Etsy shop and sells the most adorable pins. 

 

CAUTION!  If you make a batch of these pin cushions I can guarantee you that you'll begin to crave a good doughnut and a cup of your favorite beverage.

Until next time,
 
Cheers!
 
 
Jennifer 

 


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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making Kitchen Linens

 
While the wind howls, snow is falling (yes!  STILL) and the temperatures remain so low that we continue to have daily frostbite warnings, I've been keeping warm indoors and dreaming of spring flowers while doing a lot of sewing.  In particular, I've been making a variety of kitchen linens; everything from tea towels, hot pads and pot holders to aprons.


I've fallen in love with Tanya Whelan's line of lovely floral prints and using them in my kitchen linens.

My BFF had a birthday recently I sent her these pot holders and tea towels as a gift.  She'd had an old, worn and well used and loved pair of pot holders very similar to this and it was time to freshen up her kitchen linens supply.  I'm so pleased that she was thrilled to receive them.

 
I should get in my kitchen and put my new kitchen linens to use now.  What shall I make for dinner tonight?  Something that will be warm and filling.  It is a very, VERY cold and frigid day today.  Hmmmm...did someone mention something about it being Spring tomorrow?  It is going to be a long time before we fill any warmth here.
 
Until next time,
Cheers!
 


Jennifer 

 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

For you Valentine: Mayan Chocolates

St. Valentine's Day is this coming Friday and today for What's under the cake dome Sunday #47 I got made a box of Mayan Chocolates for my special Valentine, the Mister.

Start with as good of quality of dark chocolate as you can afford.  Then, once you've created these delightfully and sinfully delicious dark chocolate truffles you can let your imagination free to top them with your favorite accoutrement.  In photo above, I've topped a truffle with Coarse Sea Salt.

 
Or perhaps you'd prefer chopped almonds (or peanuts, cashews or any type of nut).

 
How about rolling some in cocoa powder and a dash of cayenne pepper and/or cinnamon?

 
The combinations and possibilities are endless and sure to delight the recipients of your creations.  After all, to quote Forrest Gump's mother, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."
 
 
 
 Valentine's Day Mayan Chocolates
 
Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces (by weight) Dark Chocolate
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly brewed coffee or coffee flavored liqueur
  • Optional top coatings:  sea salt, icing sugar, cocoa powder, toasted coconut, chopped nuts, candy coating, sprinkles... (anything your imagination desires)
 
Directions:
  1. Chop us your chocolate as finely as you can keeping the chopped pieces about the same size so that they will all melt evenly.  Otherwise, you'll be left with little chunks of chocolate in your finished candy.  I put my chocolate in a plastic zip lock bag and crushed it with a mallet.  Place your chocolate into a heat safe glass bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the cream just until it begins to boil (when you see bubble beginning to form around the edges of the pan.   Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit a few minutes to begin softening the chocolate.
  3. Now add the vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne and coffee (or coffee flavoring) and whisk everything together until it is smooth.  If you still have a few lumps, place the bowl into the microwave to 10 seconds at a time and whisk/stir.  Repeat until your mixture is smooth.
  4. Now is the hard part because this is when you let the chocolate sit at room temperature for an hour to allow it to cool and begin to set up.  How many times do you think you can see the bowl with chocolate and NOT taste it.  (or shewing the hand of someone wanting just one taste.)
  5. With a small cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop out small balls of the chocolate mixture and place on a parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet.  Place the balls in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to completely set up.
  6. Once the chocolate is set take the chocolate balls out of the refrigerator and gently roll in your hands to form balls. 
  7. Roll the balls in your favorite topping.  The choice is yours.  You may leave them plain if you wish too.
 
*Recipe note:  you do not have to add cayenne pepper or cinnamon to your chocolates if you don't want to.  I really like these scant amounts in the chocolate for a particularly lovely Mayan Chocolate flavor.  Sea Salt is a popular topping these days for the sweet/salty combo.  It gets a thumbs up from me too!


 
Part of the inspiration for making these lovely Mayan Chocolates laced with cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coffee flavor comes from the movie, Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.  If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it.  A sinfully delicious romantic fable, is how it has been reviewed.


 
Let's all give a huge thank you and cheers of gratitude to the ancient Mayans and their contributions to the importance of Chocolate.  I became engrossed in reading about the history of Chocolate while my truffles were cooling and setting up.  It's a fascinating history and a very important one too.  I encourage you to search Mayan Chocolate. 
 
 
Until next time,

Cheers!
 
 
Jennifer 

 


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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lemon Chess Pie topped with Sticky Blueberries


Tonight while the rest of North America is watching the Super Bowl, the Mister and I will be watching Downton Abbey.  What better time to have a piece of pie and a cup of tea than while watching our favorite television series. 

 
Presenting What's Under the Cake Dome Sunday # 46
Lemon Chess Pie Topped with Sticky Blueberries

There are many stories of how chess pie became known as "Chess Pie."  No one actually knows the real reason how it came to be know by this name, but my favorite story about it is that someone was complimenting the pie baker on her delicious pie and her reply was, "Oh darlin'!  It's just pie!"  Now say that with a thick southern drawl and it sounds like "It's 'chess pie."

Chess pie comes in a variety of ways but the bottom line is, they are simple ingredients, mix up easily and are full of flavor. 

At Christmastime I made a Cranberry Chess Pie and it was one of our favorites.  Today's pie is much the same, but with Lemons (I used Meyer Lemons) and an interesting topping of Sticky Blueberries.


 
Lemon Chess Pie Topped with Sticky Blueberries
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 unbaked single-crust pie shell
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112 grams) unsalted butter
  • Just a pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 Meyer lemons, for zesting and juice (if using large lemons then 1 lemon should be enough)
  • 2 Tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 recipe of Sticky Blueberries (recipe can be found after pie directions)
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius)
  2. Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and brush the rim with a pie wash of equal parts milk and cream (I find about 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon cream is plenty for one pie).  Set pie shell aside.
  3. Combine the sugar, butter and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Zest the lemon over the ingredients in the bowl. Set the lemon aside to juice later. (NOTE:  because I used Meyer lemons and they were small, I zested 1 1/2 lemons and used the juice of 2 Meyer lemons.  If you are using large lemons then one lemon should be sufficient.)  Cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 or 3 minutes).  Add the cornmeal and flour and continue to mix on Medium until the ingredients are just combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
  4. With the mixer on Low, slowly pour in the milk.  Add the lemon juice and mix until just combined. 
  5. Scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl and incorporate any unmixed ingredients, should there be any.  Pour the batter into the pie shell and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, rotating 180 degrees every 20 minutes, until a dark golden brown crust forms on top and the filling is set.  Once cool, top with Sticky Blueberries.
STICKY BLUEBERRIES
(makes enough sticky blueberries to top one pie)
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups blueberries
Directions:
  1. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir until combined.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally
  3. Place the blueberries in a colander set over a large bowl.
  4. Pour the hot syrup over the berries.  Shake the colander to make sure all the berries are covered.  The leftover syrup that has drained through may be reheated and used once more.
  5. Let the berries cool until they are comfortable to touch, then pile them on top of the pie.  The berries get stickier as the syrup cools, so if your berries roll off the pie, wait a few minutes and try again.
Recipe adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie, by Paula Haney



Until next time,
 
Cheers!
 
 
Jennifer 

 


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Monday, January 27, 2014

Mini Log Cabin Squares on Tea Towels and Pot Holders




The other day I posted about making my first Log Cabin Quilt Block.   I joined in on the It's a New Year SEWALONG group on the website, blog and facebook page.  January's SEWALONG challenge is to make Mini Log Cabin blocks and then create something with your blocks.  If you're interested, you can read  HERE  how week by week during the month of January the SEWALONG group fulfilled assignments all the while working toward the goal of creating something with your miniature Log Cabin Quilt Block. 
 

Today is my reveal of what I decided to do with my mini log cabin quilt blocks.  I made two tea towels with coordinating hot pads.  Each item incorporates my mini log cabins as the focal point.




I chose to use these lovely floral fat quarters that I had in my stash by Tanya Whelan called Sunshine Roses, for Free Spirit Westminster Fibers.

 
With these fat quarters I made them into this log cabin block.


For the tea towels, I appliqued the quilt block on huck toweling fabric and added a flounce/ruffle at the bottom of each towel with a coordinating Tanya Whelan fat quarter.
 
The pot holders are also of a coordinating Tanya Whelan fat quarter for the outside designer fabric.  Beneath the designer fabric is a layer of Insul-Bright lining.  It is a heat resistant lining/batting material that is perfect for hot pads.  Next came a layer of batting.  On the opposite side of the pot holder I layered the same layers and with wrong sides together I basted the two sides together.  Next I quilted the diamond shape quilting.  Then I quilted the mini log cabin square to the center of one side of the potholder.  Finally, I bound the edges with double fold bias tape.
 

This was such a fun project to make.  The other members of the Sewalong have been posting some of the most creating and beautiful projects.  Each made with mini log cabin squares as the focal point.  I'm so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined in the fun with the Sewalong group.


Until next time,
 
Cheers!
 
 
Jennifer 

 


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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chewy Butterscotch Chip Oatmeal Cookies

 
Today's "what's under the cake dome Sunday #45" is not what I had planned.  The Mister has a man-cold is sick and not feeling up to the pie that I had planned to make today.   But it is a good day for cookies and milk.  It's cold and snowy just like it is in a great deal of North America and I just didn't feel like going out to the grocery store.  So...I went through the cabinets and found: Butterscotch chips (we were out of chocolate chips) coconut, oatmeal, an orange and decided I'd create a chewy Oatmeal cookie that included coconut (great for the tender 'chew' in the cookie) and cut just a bit of the sweetness of the butterscotch chips and sugar by adding a bit of orange zest and juice and cinnamon.


 
What I created was a yummy clean-your-cabinets-out kind of cookie and I want to share my baking-by-the-seat-of-your-pants recipe with you.  This is how I made them:
 
 
Chewy Butterscotch Chip Oatmeal Cookies
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 12 ounces butterscotch chips
 
Directions:  
 
(Preheat oven to 375 degrees)
  1. Beat together the shortening, white and brown sugars until creamy. 
  2. Next, beat in the vanilla, orange juice and orange zest and the eggs.  Beat well.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until blended together.
  4. Finally, mix in the oatmeal, coconut and butterscotch chips.  Incorporate well.
  5. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Drop 1 inch balls of cookie dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12 - 15 minutes.  Watch carefully!  Oven temperatures vary.
  6. Remove the cookies from the oven just when the bottoms begin to get golden brown.  DO NOT OVER BAKE!  Even if the tops don't look completely set, remove them from the oven when the bottoms are brown.
  7. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Yield: Approximately 3 dozen cookies.  This depends upon the size of cookie you make.
 
 
Now it is time to pour yourself (or your ailing partner) a big cold glass of milk and enjoy the cookies.  They're sure to sure what ails you...or at the very least, make you feel a little bit better.


Next week I'll make the pie.  It is going to be an extra special one you won't want to miss.
 

Until next time,
 
Cheers!
 
 

 


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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Log Cabin Quilt Block


Ta daaaaaaaaaaa!  I made my first Log Cabin Quilt Block.   I joined in on the It's a New Year SEWALONG group on the website, blog and facebook page.  January's SEWALONG challenge is to make Mini Log Cabin blocks and then create something with your blocks.
 
 photo coversquare_zps5d0586a6.jpg
 
Week #1 Assignment was to choose the fabric you wanted to use.  I chose some lovely floral fat quarters that I had in my stash by Tanya Whelan called Sunshine Roses, for Free Spirt Westminster Fibers.

 
Week #2 Assignment was to cut your fabric pieces for the mini log cabin block.


Week #3 Assignment: Piecing and Pressing

 
My first block is a bit wonky but since this is my first time making a log cabin quilt blocks I'm fairly pleased.  The great thing about working week by week with the group on this little project is there is plenty of time to learn from mistakes and have the support and advice from a great online group of quilters.  

 
I know now how to better true up my edges as I sew and the rest of my blocks will be trued up better (I hope!)
 
Week #4 Assignment:  Make Something!   Now is the fun part.  I have more blocks to make so stay tuned.  I have a finished project in mind for my mini log cabin blocks.  The ladies have been posting the most amazing projects using their mini log cabin blocks.   Since I'm very new to quilting and to this group I'm just excited to play along. 
 
Within the next few days I'll reveal what I've done with my very first Log Cabin Quilt Blocks that I've ever made. 

Until next time,
 
Cheers!
 
 

 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cake Dome Sunday #44: CRAZY Chocolate 'n Peanut Butter Chip Cupcakes


What is so crazy about chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter chips?  They are CRAZY delicious and CRAZY easy to make.  And they are so CRAZY easy to make that if you have young children who like to help you bake, these are made-from-scratch chocolate cupcakes that even toddlers can help with.
 
When I was about 10 years old I started to really enjoy making a mess in  helping my mom in the kitchen.   I used to make a basic chocolate cake so often that when my mom made a family favorites recipe cookbook for me she included this recipe and titled it Jennifer's Crazy Cake.  This is a basic chocolate cake recipe that you dump all of the ingredients in the pan, make three holes in the dry ingredients for the three wet ingredients and then pour water on top.  Next, mix with a fork to get the lumps out and put the pan in the oven and bake.  CRAZY, eh?  It defies all of the pastry chefs and bakers advice on proper ways to make a delicious cake.
 
 
So today I used the basic CRAZY CAKE recipe and made cupcakes and added peanut butter chips to the batter, iced them with smooth and creamy whipped vanilla icing and sprinkled more peanut butter chips on top.  CRAZY simple and CRAZY moist and CRAZY delicious!
 
Below is the recipe for the basic 13" X 9" crazy cake.  But if you'd rather make cupcakes like I did today, just dump all the ingredients in a mixing bowl all at once, mix it all together and bake in cupcake tins. 
 
 
"MY" CRAZY CAKE
 
Grease and flour a 13" X 9" pan and sift the following ingredients into the prepared pan:
  •  3 cups all-purpose flour
  •  2 cups sugar
  •  1/2 cup baking cocoa
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  2 teaspoons baking soda
Make 3 holes in the dry ingredients pour 3/4 cup vegetable oil in one hole, 2 teaspoons of white vinegar in the second hole and 1 teaspoon vanilla in the third hole.  Now pour 2 cups of cold water over the entire ingredients and mix well with a fork until thoroughly blended.  Now is the time to add 1 cup of Peanut Butter chips to the batter.
 
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  When making cupcakes, I bake my cupcakes for about 15 - 17 minutes at 350 degrees.
 
Frost with your favorite icing. 
Recipe will yield approximate 2 dozen cupcakes too, depending on their size.


Until next time,
 
Cheers!
 
 

 

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Happy New Year!

We're midway through the first month of 2014 and I've been remiss in sending out my sincere and warm greetings and wishes for a very happy and healthy New Year to you.  The Mister and I are looking forward to seeing what new experiences and adventures will unfold this year.  If all goes as we hope, it is going to be a VERY exciting year.


One thing I've been doing a lot of lately is going through my crafting supplies.  Having done a tremendous amount of sewing during December I have found myself with quite the upheaval in my craft and sewing room.  Time to clean!  I haven't inked up a stamp in months and once everything was put away and the room tidy I was inspired to play with some stamps.  Thus, today's card.  I've had this adorable dragon stamp for a couple years but hadn't used it.  Time to rectify the situation!

Card Recipe:

Stamps: The Stamp Barn (Heather's Stamping Haven CHSH 112M) and Papertrey Ink
Cardstock and papers: Cardstock is Stampin' Up! the the Design Paper is from K & Company
Ink:  Memento Tuxedo Black and Memento Bamboo Leaves Green
Image Colored: Coloring with a combination of Prismacolor Pencils and a few Copic Markers.
Tools and Accessories: Cuttlebug circles embossing folder, Vellum for the wings, Green and yellow Stickles glitter, Prima Flowers,


This week's MOJO Monday #328 (below) provided the layout inspiration:



This was so much fun to put together.  I haven't stamped or made cards in such a long time and I've missed it.

Until next time,
 
Cheers!
 
 

 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cake Dome Sunday #43: Eggnog cake doughnuts



Eggnog Cake Doughnuts...yum!  The perfect way to use up some left over eggnog you might have in your refrigerator.  These were great with our morning coffee (or tea).   I've frozen up individual baggies for the Mister's lunchbox to take to work when he returns after his vacation.



 
Simple and fast to make and quite yummy with the flavors of eggnog, rum extract and nutmeg.
 
 
Eggnog Cake Doughnuts
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
 

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup eggnog
  • 3/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, eggnog, sugar, butter and both extracts.
  3. Stir dry ingredients into the beaten wet ingredients just until moistened and combined.
  4. Spoon batter into greased doughnut pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. (about 10 - 12 minutes). 
  5. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the doughnut pans and finish cooling on wire racks.
  6. When cooled, dust tops with icing sugar.
Yield: 2 dozen Doughnuts
 

 

If you don't have a doughnut pan feel free to use a loaf pan.  Just grease it well and bake the loaf longer (maybe 30 minutes for a loaf).  When a testing stick comes out clean you'll know it is done.
 
 

Until next time,
 
Cheers!
 
 

 

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The Chicken Chick


 


I can be found sharing at these online parties:


 
 Clever Chicks Blog Hop, FoodySchmoody Tuesday Tastings,  Delish Dessert Link Party, Share your stuff Tuesdays, Anyonita Nibbles Tasty Tuesday'sShare it One More Time, Much Ado About MondayFeathered Nest Fridays, DIY Vintage Chic FridayThe Style Sisters Centerpiece Wednesday, Sew-Off Saturday Sew Can She , Brag about it Tuesday BeBetsy , Shabby Art Boutique Shabbilicious Friday , Give Me The Goods Monday , Homestead Barn Hop , Whimsy Wednesday , Knick Of Time , Hickory Trail , Make the Scene Monday (at Alderberry Hill), From the Farm Blog Hop , A Peek Into My Paradise , A Delightsome Life , Share your Cup Thursday Have a Daily Cup, Homework , Green Willow Pond , A Stroll Thru Life , Work It Wednesday , Savvy Southern Style , I Should Be Mopping the Floors , Common Ground Be Inspired , Simple and Sweet Fridays , Frugal Fit Family Friday Follow Along , Sweet and Savory Sunday This Gal Cooks Marvelous Mondays , This Silly Girl's Life, Living Better Together TGIF Linkparty , DIY Sunday Showcase , Dear Creatives Inspiration, Super Saturday Link Party