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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

CRANBERRY ORANGE BISCOTTI

Having a half bag of frozen cranberries in my freezer, I set out to find a recipe that called for fresh cranberries.  I landed on a biscotti recipe that fit the bill.    The recipe also suggests that you can use dried cranberries, which would probably be a bit sweeter.  If you're looking for a little tart with your sweet, go with the frozen variety.

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup room temp butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1 tsp. orange extract
¼ tsp. almond extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder 
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
6-8 oz. of fresh or dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy.  Beat in eggs, orange zest, orange extract, and almond extract.  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl; mix dry ingredients into moist ingredients to make a stiff dough.  Mix cranberries into dough.  Form dough into a ball, cut into halves, and shape each half into a log.  Place logs onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the oven until the edges are lightly browned; 20-25 minutes.  Let logs cool completely on wire racks.  Cut logs into slices and lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake biscotti until crisp and lightly golden brown, about  *10-12 minutes.

*baking time may need to be longer when using fresh cranberries due to the added moisture they provide to the dough.

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  allrecipes.com

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

TWO TIER CATHEDRAL VEIL

This past summer I had the pleasure of making a cathedral length veil for a Texas bride.  Sarah wanted a simple cathedral length veil; meaning no embellishments....but she also wanted it a double layer.  Now, I have to tell you, I hadn't heard of this before.  I thought she may have meant a two tier (meaning with a blusher), but she meant two full layers of illusion the full length of the veil.
Take a look at how full the veil looks with two full layers of illusion.  So beautiful! 

I also used an extra wide comb, which looks really pretty ... creating a statement from the top of the comb to the very tip of the veil!  So elegant!

Sarah did a great job choosing a veil that was a perfect match for her contemporary gown.  Simple and understated, yet look how well it complemented her dress and...... what about that bouquet?! 

Thank you Sarah for allowing me to be a part of your special day and for introducing me to the double layer veil, it's a beauty! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

LITTLE BLACK DRESS

It was sometime in late November or early December when my daughter approached me about making her a dress for New Year's Eve.    She wanted a short off the shoulder dress, and it just so happened that I had some beautiful black lace that would be perfect.  I found a black suiting fabric for the dress itself on a trip to JoAnn fabrics.  I chose one with a two way stretch since we discussed the fact that she wanted it to be form fitting.
So here she is rockin' her little black dress on NYE 2017!

I began the project with a classic strapless dress with princess seaming in both the front and the back so I could d really fit the dress to her shape.                                                      
After that, I draped the lace on top of the dress to create the lace overlay.  As I was creating it,  I knew the scallop would at the top of the bodice (the off-the-shoulder piece), but I also wanted to take advantage of the lace motif, by cutting around the pattern highlighting the leaves and florals where the bodice ended right at the hipline.  

I put in an invisible zipper up to the top of the underlayer and then strategically placed four sweet buttons at the very top in the lace.

I apologize for all the differences in the lighting in these pictures, but some of them were obviously taken on NYE, while others were taken at different points in the project in my studio.

I love how it turned out....and better still, my daughter loved how it turned out.  Best part for me....since she was pleased with the final fit, I now have a"block" pattern that I can work from to make her all sorts of different dresses in the future without starting from scratch each time!

Friday, December 22, 2017

MINI EGGNOG BUNDT CAKES

I just bought myself a mini bundt cake pan and decided to try these for the holidays.  Of course, I put out some of my homebaked cookies, but since everyone gets their own personal cookie tin full of cookies, it's fun to try something new!
The recipe I used indicated it would make 8 bundt cakes.....yeah, no.  It made 16!  I put several in the freezer.   Oh, and see those little holly decorations.  I ran all over town trying to find some pre-made.  After the 5th store, I bought myself some green fondant and made my own, using the cinnamon decorations I already had in my pantry for the centers.  I know a bit neurotic, but I couldn't let go of the idea once I had it.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
1 cup eggnog
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the salted caramel icing:
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. sea salt, plus more for topping
3/4 - 1 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a mini bundt pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Using a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Combine the eggnog and vanilla in a measuring cup.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture in four additions, alternating with the eggnog, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

*Spoon the butter into the bundt cups, filling about 3/4 of the way full.   Bake 20-25 minutes or until the cake is golden brown, springs back when lightly touched and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes, invert the pan onto a cooling rack.  

*this part is critical....my first batch overflowed.  It didn't mess up my oven but the batter came up and over the individual forms.  The cakes still came out of the pan okay, but I literally had to trim around the base of the cakes and open up the hole at the bottom.  On the second batch, I filled them closer to half full and they worked beautifully.

For the icing:
Combine butter, brown sugar and heavy cream (I used half and half since I find it hard to find heavy cream) in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl.  Let cool slightly.  Add the salt and beat for 1-2 minutes.  Add 3/4 cup powdered sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes.  Add additional to reach the consistency you prefer.  I stuck with 3/4 cup and put it in the fridge for a few minutes and it worked great.    Spoon over each cake and sprinkle with additional sea salt.  

Sunday, December 17, 2017

PHOTO TRANSFER COASTERS

I've made many different types of coasters over the years, but the one I had yet to try was the "photo transfer" type.   I realized I had the perfect opportunity to give it a go with the logo for my daughter and her boyfriend's travel blog/instagram account (Kate & Mike's adventure).

I chose to use 4x4 stone tiles since the look seemed to work well with their travel theme and their logo. You can easily find these in your big box home improvement stores at a very reasonable price. 
The first step is to print the picture/image.  Be sure you flip/reverse your image before you print (you can easily do this in your computer) since you place the image face down during the transfer process. 

Also, a very important point is to print them with a laser printer, if you don't the colors will bleed when you apply the transfer medium.  For me, I put the image on a thumb drive and took it to my local Staples and printed them there. 

Once your images are printed, trim them to the desired size.  I used the Mod Podge photo transfer medium.  You can find the step-by-step process on their website (which is listed on the back of the bottle). 

I chose to leave more of the paper on this project.  I liked the way it looked like a piece of an old worn map with the compass component.   Based upon how I trimmed the paper and how much of it I removed during the transfer process, no two coasters are exactly the same which was intentional. 

I sealed the top of my coasters with three coats of matte Mod Podge making sure to let them dry throughly between coats.  Finally, I cut out cork circles and used my hot glue gun to attach them to the bottom of the coasters for a polished finish and eliminate the possibility of any table scratches when they're used.
It warms my heart when my gifts are received so positively.  They absolutely loved these!  I made them four, but who knows.....I purchased a total of nine tiles, so there may be more in their future.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE COOKIE CUPS

These are hands down the best Christmas cookies ever!!!  When I put my platter of cookies out after our holiday dinner, they are the first to be snagged. 
A flaky, buttery cup with a delicious filling and topped with chocolate and peanut butter morsels.  They take some time to make, but are so worth it! 

I first shared the recipe here, and they have been a part of my holiday baking ever since.  Not only do I put some cookies out after Christmas dinner, but every "family unit" gets their own cookie tin of home baked cookies each year....these by far are the #1 favorite of the entire clan.

I just had to give them their own set of pictures.  After all, they've become famous!

The filling which is made of condensed milk makes quite a bit, so this year I chose to increase the dough ingredients by 50% and it was just the right amount of base for the filling.   So again, if you make 1.5x the dough, you won't be wasting any of the liquid center and of course, you'll have more cookies to share! 

Enjoy.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

CUSTOM CORNHOLE BOARDS

This idea came to me when I saw how much joy my daughter had playing cornhole.  Add in the fact that she owns her own business and voilĂ ....you have the perfect Christmas present!  This was a true joint effort between my husband and me and took quite some time.  But, it was so worth it.  To me, personalized gifts are so awesome, and when they're handmade it's even better.
I'm so thrilled with how they turned out......and even better, our daughter was ecstatic!

My husband was in charge of the woodworking and I was responsible for the bean bags and the artwork on the boards.   We tag teamed this project so well.  He did the research to ensure the boards were "regulation".  I researched the same thing for the bags, including size and how much feed corn they're supposed to have in each one.  I even measured out the corn on my postal scale so each one is exactly the same weight!

I wish I could remember exactly when we started...I think it was sometime in September.  We were able to work in the garage for a time, but due to the change in the weather, we ended up having to move indoors to finish the painting.

I have to tell you I was concerned about getting straight lines for the borders since I had yet to find a tape that really sealed.  But, I am now a personal spokesperson for Frog Tape.  It is outstanding!  No bleed through at all and perfectly crisp lines.
For the company logo, I used my silhouette machine.  I uploaded my daughter's logo to the software and then used the stencil material, which worked great.  I was able to paint right over it, and only needed to touch it up ever so slightly.

I found some canvas in light blue and grey colors (they were so close to her actual colors it was uncanny) for the bean bags and then made a tote bag with some canvas remnants I already had on hand.   It has both a drawstring
top and a shoulder strap for easy carrying.

To help carry the boards, I purchased drawer pulls from Hobby Lobby (when they were 50% off, of course).  We placed two on each board.  My husband visualized two people carrying them with the people in the middle and the boards on either side of them.  Hopefully it works as slick as we planned.


After everything was painted, we finished the boards with a couple of clear coats of gloss finish to add some sheen and also provide a nice protective coat for all our hard work.   

You may already know that I have a hard time waiting until Christmas when I have a really cool gift that someone may like.  That was the case with this project.    We gifted them to her this Thanksgiving weekend in hopes there may be a few more days yet this year when she may be able to have some friends over for a cornhole tournament!