Pretty in Pink

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to use a recipe I’d found for a vibrantly pink raspberry buttercream frosting I came across last year while making a Rainbow Sherbet – inspired cupcake.  I know February is the season for all things chocolate, but I just couldn’t move past the lemon raspberry flavor combo I adore so much  (Lemon Raspberry cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory, anyone?) so I paired this with my Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes from years past, just made into minis.  The results are DIVINE.  This frosting is pretty darn amazing; tart-sweet with no food coloring added.  That shocking pink is au naturel! Topped with a conversation heart for some V-Day flair, these are a cute and yummy treat for friends and coworkers.

What you need:

Makes 48 cuppiecakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • zest of one lemon

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature (if needed)

Lemon Buttermilk Cuppiecakes

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a mini muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

Beat in egg until just incorporated.

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

Add vanilla, lemon zest and lemon extracts into the buttermilk and mix half into the sugar mixture. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk, then the rest of the flour. Stir only until just combined. Use a cookie dough scoop to portion out into liners.
Turn oven down to 325 just prior to placing pan in oven. Bake for 9 1/2-11 minutes, turning halfway though, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

 

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

Place raspberries in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat stirring with a spoon until they resemble a sauce.

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

Place seedless sauce back in the pan and simmer until it reduces to a 1/4 cup of very concentrated raspberry sauce. Set aside to cool.

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

When the raspberry flavoring is room temperature, cream the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Sift in 2 cups of powdered sugar, and combine.   Add the raspberry sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of kosher salt and process until smooth.

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

Sift in an additional 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until it is spreading consistency.  If it is too stiff, you can add a tablespoon or two of milk, but I didn’t need to. Isn’t it lovely? A bit labor-intensive but worth every delicious calorie.

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats

Pipe your cakes and top with a conversation heart. Spread the love!

lemon cupcakes buttermilk fresh raspberry buttercream frosting valentines day recipes treats


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Doggie Scarf

dog scarf instructions how to make your own DIY christmas craft pet

I’m one of those knitters that never really progressed beyond scarf-making.  I love to buy yarn, however, and have an entire bin of the fuzzy stuff in storage that quietly waits to be used. Recently, I decided that my friends and family had been subjected to my scarves long enough, so it was time to move onto the dog.   I’m not sure he thinks he looks quite as fashionable as I think he does, but it is a great, festive accessory for winter. Just wait ’til you hear all the “Look, Mom, that dog is wearing a scarf!” comments.  It is pretty darn cute.

dog scarf how to DIY knitting patterns free, holiday christmas pet outfit

I fashioned this scarf from plain old, dirt cheap Red Heart acrylic yarn, in basic knit stitch. I casted on 18  for the proper width for my dog’s neck, but you can adjust your width accordingly.  The only fancy thing this scarf has is a keyhole built in so it won’t fall off.  All you do is after you’ve knitted enough to wrap around your dog’s neck (about 90 rows in my case), you begin your next row and at the halfway point, in my case after nine, you tie on a second skein.

dog scarf how to DIY knitting patterns free, holiday christmas pet outfit

Knit both sides at the same time, rejoining the sides with one skein only when you have about a 2.5 inch opening (or whatever is big enough for the width of your scarf.)  Continue for another 2.5 inches to finish and bind off.  Cut and add tassles to end opposite of keyhole for some extra pizazz. Try the scarf on your dog and sew on a button to secure keyhole end of scarf.  Personally, I think the button is what makes this scarf so darn cute!

Finished dimensions for my 20+ lb Jack Russell: 3.5 inches wide, 22 inches long (not including tassles), 2.5 inch keyhole, 2.5-3 inch tassles, 6 inch neck opening when buttoned.

If you need a good handbook for basic knitting, I like Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook.  The Windy City scarf on page 159 has a keyhole, if you need additional help.

Doesn’t he make the best doggie model?

dog scarf how to DIY knitting patterns free, holiday christmas pet outfit


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Better-Than-Presents Cake

peppermint fudge cake better than sex heath bar christmas baking holiday recipes

I think everyone has had some version of the acclaimed Better-than-$&# cake.  In my family, we innocently call it Heath Bar Cake but the result is the same – decadent, moist, fudgy deliciousness with a pillow of whipped topping and covered in crunchy bits.  This is the Ultimate dessert, and for good reason, just check out the ingredients! Absolutely no health benefits here, this is pure indulgence. :)

I changed up the recipe slightly for some holiday festivity, using the Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge boxed cake (the original uses Devil’s Food) and some peppermint bark from Trader Joe’s (the original is crushed up Heath bars).  I might prefer the original just for nostalgia’s sake, but this is definitely a fun and festive variation!

Ingredients:

peppermint bark cake better than sex heath bar holiday dessert recipe

  • 1 box of Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Cake mix
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk
  • 1 jar Mrs. Richardson’s hot fudge
  • 1 tub Cool Whip
  • 6-8 ounces Peppermint Bark, like Trader Joe’s, coarsely chopped

peppermint fudge cake cool whip better than sex heath bar holiday baking recipes

Directions:

Bake chocolate cake according to box instructions. Allow to cool, slightly.

peppermint bark cake better than sex heath bar holiday dessert recipe

Using back end of a wooden spoon, poke holes through the cake.

peppermint bark cake better than sex heath bar holiday dessert recipe

Pour consdensed milk over top of cake, making sure milk gets down into poked holes.  Wait a few minutes until condensed milk is absorbed.

peppermint bark cake better than sex heath bar holiday dessert recipe

Warm up your hot fudge to a spreadable consistency, then pour over top of cake.  I like to then tap the pan against a kitchen towel on the counter to encourage the fudge to run down into the holes.

peppermint bark cake better than sex heath bar holiday dessert recipe

Refrigerate fudge-topped cake overnight for best results.

The next day, top cake with Cool Whip (that you shave stored in the fridge, not the freezer, otherwise you have to thaw and final consistency can be too wet, just ask me how I know) and sprinkle chopped peppermint bark pieces on top.

peppermint fudge cake cool whip better than sex heath bar holiday baking recipes

Don’t be a grinch now, share!

 


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Peppermint Sugar Cookies

 peppermint sugar cookie recipe christmas holiday baking food gifts

This Christmas, I’ve decided to share with the blogging world the refreshingly minty, sweet joy of these cookies, which my mom has made at Christmas since we were kids.  Over the years, I’ve changed the recipe a bit and now use a brown sugar spiced cookie, which, combined with the minty buttercream frosting, makes for one delicious holiday bite.  I look forward to making them every year, and hope you will, too.

Ingredients:

Cookies (makes 64, 2-inch diameter cookies):

  • 2 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 packed light brown suagar
  • 1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Frosting:

  • 2 1/2 c powdered sugar, sifted
  • 7 1/2 TB unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4-5 TB whole milk
  • 1 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • a generous pinch of salt (just under 1/4 tsp)
  • 15 peppermint candy canes, pulverized

Directions:

Cookies:

Preheat oven to 375. In stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat brown sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, until just incorporated.  Stir in vanilla.

peppermint sugar cookie recipe christmas holiday baking food gifts

In seperate bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

peppermint sugar cookie recipe christmas holiday baking food gifts

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in 3 parts, beating until just incorporated.   Optional: chill dough for 30 minutes prior to rolling cookies

Use small scoop to portion out cookie dough, roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Use measuring cup (or bottom of a glass) lightly dusted in flour to gently flatten balls.  Brush off any excess flour.

peppermint sugar cookie recipe christmas holiday baking food gifts

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove and let cool on racks.

Frosting:

Remove wrappers from candy canes and break each one into 4-5 pieces.

peppermint sugar cookie recipe christmas holiday baking food gifts

Place candy canes in a mini-chop and pulse on high until you have a good mixture of finely ground and some smaller pieces.

peppermint sugar cookie recipe christmas holiday baking food gifts

Add softened butter to bowl of stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment.  Sift powdered sugar into bowl and mix, adding 4 TB milk and vanilla until very smooth.  Stir in pulverized candy canes and salt, adding milk as necessary to achieve good spreading consistency.

peppermint sugar cookie recipe christmas holiday baking food gifts

Use teaspoon to place dollop of frosting on each cooled cookie, using a knife to spread it over the top.  Let dry, then package as you’d like.  This year, I used glassine treat bags from Michael’s that came with a foiled cardboard insert and tied them off with red and white butcher’s twine.  These make great, festive little gifts!

peppermint sugar cookie recipe christmas holiday baking food gifts

 

 


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Impromptu Holiday Wrapping

inexpensive gift wrap ideas DIY freezer paper bakers twine dollar spot store cheap

I found myself in a pinch this week, gifting wine without a wine bag to present it in.  Since presents are most fun when they need to be unwrapped, I scoured my house for something I could use and remembered I had some freezer paper laying around from a previous crafting project (heaven forbid I actually use freezer paper for wrapping things that go into the freezer!).

inexpensive gift wrap ideas DIY freezer paper bakers twine dollar spot storeThe nice thing about freezer paper is the width of it – 15 inches – as opposed to using my beloved parchment, which I use religiously for baking purposes, at a mere 12.  It was perfect to fully cover a bottle of champagne, which stands at almost 13 inches.

What you do: Unroll a length of freezer paper and place your bottle, upright, on top.  Take a corner and bring it to the top of the wine bottle to figure out where your ‘center’ is, then use the end still in the box and bring that to the top.  Cut.  Bring two opposite corners of your cut paper to meet at top of bottle, then fold over and tuck in the rest.  Tie off with your choice of string.  I added some red and white baker’s twine and a glittery gift tag that I found in the $1 spot at Target for some festive pizazz.  Once the bottle was wrapped and tied, I snipped the cut edges with scissors.  Inexpensive, cute, and classy.  Just the way I like my crafts.  :)


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Cider Bourbon cocktails

apple cider ginger beer bourbon cocktail winter recipe holiday drink

I never used to be a bourbon drinker.  Whiskey, bourbon, scotch – they always made me feel like my throat was on fire and my nose was being subjected to bad smells for no good reason.  Fast forward to this holiday season, the only cocktails that sound any good are bourbon ones.  Maybe it is the fact that this spirit family does tend to have that internal warming effect that makes them such lovely winter cocktail components.  Regardless, this recipe is great, and I prefer it over ice.  Some spice from a good ginger beer (try Reed’s), some sweetness from the apple cider and a touch of heat from the bourbon.  Garnished with an apple slice, you could sip this spicy-sweet heat by the fire all night!

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts ginger beer
  • 2 parts apple cider
  • 1 part bourbon (we like Blanton’s)
  • apple slice

apple cider ginger beer bourbon cocktail winter recipe holiday drink

Directions:

Measure out and mix liquids in a cocktail shaker with ice to chill.  Serve over a glass full of ice.  Garnish with a slice of apple. Adjust your liquor depending on the kind of day you’ve had. :)


12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Pecan Bars

holiday christmas recipes dessert bars cookies pecan pie caramel shortbread

I discovered Pinterest earlier this year and stumbled upon this recipe for Pecan Bars right before Thanksgiving.  I’m a Nuts and Chews kind of See’s gal, so these sounded right up my alley.  The original recipe had splenda in it which turned me off (it is the holidays after all!), so I used C & H dark brown sugar and toasted my pecans prior to adding them for increased depth of flavor.  These little babies are deliciously crumbly right out of the oven and oh-so-chewy, buttery and nutty when cooled.  One of the simplest and best things I’ve ever baked.  So much so, that I’ve already made them three times this holiday season for various groups of people!

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 2 2/3 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Topping:

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 1 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 2 TB heavy cream
  • 2 c toasted pecan halves or pieces (I like to buy raw pecans from Trader Joe’s and toast them at home)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º and line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper.  Paper should cover most internal surfaces of pan. **In the pictures below, I halved the recipe and used a square baking pan.**
  2. Start by making your crust.  In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until crumbly.

    holiday christmas recipes dessert bars cookies pecan pie caramel shortbread

  3. Press crust dough into your parchment paper-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

    holiday christmas recipes dessert bars cookies pecan pie caramel shortbread

  4. While your crust bakes, prepare the filling. Combine the butter, brown sugar, honey and heavy cream in a small saucepan, over medium heat.holiday christmas recipes dessert bars cookies pecan pie caramel shortbread

    Simmer the mixture for 1 minue, then stir in your toasted pecans.holiday christmas recipes dessert bars cookies pecan pie caramel shortbread

  5. Remove your crust from the oven and immediately pour the pecan filling over top, spreading it to cover the entire surface of crust.holiday christmas recipes dessert bars cookies pecan pie caramel shortbread
  6. Return your pan to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the pan from the oven and allow the bars to fully cool in the pan on top of a wire cooling rack.
  7. Once cool, lift the bars out of the pan and transfer them to a cutting surface. Slice and package as wanted! I like to wrap mine in unbleached parchment paper and tie them up with festive, red and white butcher’s twine.

12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Recipes: Persimmon Cake

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

Earlier this year, my husband and I moved into a cute little rental in a charming, established neighborhood, replete with mature fruit trees.  Imagine my delight when, come autumn, my next door neighbor had not one, but two, persimmon trees bursting with the gorgeous orange orbs!  I eat the Fuyus raw and put them in salads, but the Hachiyas, which I used in this modified recipe from David Lebovitz, are great for baking.  Hachiyas should feel heavy and soft, with skins about to burst when ready to use.

Ingredients:

Cake

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups persimmon purée
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 or 5 teaspoons water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use an empty butter wrapper to grease the inside of a Bundt cake pan.

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

For the cake:

Prepare persimmon puree by scooping soft flesh from persimmons into a bowl, discarding skins and stem.

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

Transfer pulp to a blender and blend until smooth.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups for this recipe, then store any extra in an airtight container in the freezer.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cranberries and whiskey to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and softened butter on medium until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium-low until just incorporated. Gently mix in the persimmon purée and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

Add flour mixture to bowl, in 3 parts, beating just until incorporated. Fold in the cranberries and the walnuts. Do not overmix.

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

Scrape the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, invert the cake onto your cooling rack, which has been positioned over a jelly roll pan.

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

For the icing:

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon butter on high speed until smooth. Beat in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and the lemon juice, then gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on high speed until smooth. Add the 4 teaspoons water; the icing should be pourable. If necessary, add 1 more teaspoon water.

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

Pour the icing around the top of the cake, then tap the plate on a folded kitchen towel on the countertop to encourage the icing to run down the sides of the cake.

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

Transfer cake to your favorite cake platter and serve.  While my icing technique has never been great, this cake is gorgeous! Think of a decadently wholesome and delicious version of fruitcake, without any of those strangely fluorescent gooey things.  So good!

David Lebovitz persimmon cake holiday christmas dessert epicurious recipes

 


High Time Halloween Ideas

We decided to throw together a last-minute party for Halloween this year so I hit up the Dollar Store to see what I could find.  Never a big fan of anything cheesy (though my husband is all about giant blow up lawn ornaments and the like – we’ll battle that one out at Christmas, I’m sure!), I tend to look for inexpensive basics that I can dress up.  What I found on my recent trip were black serving plates, a black plastic tablecloth, some cheesecloth, the fake spiderwebs you find at most places, and some lovely rubber rats. I went to the dollar store specifically looking for black construction paper, which I unfortunately did not find, so went through my scrapbooking stash and luckily found about 4 sheets of black cardstock (which you can buy at Joann’s or Michael’s).

So, for a whopping $6, I turned my food table into a spooky serving place by layering the cheesecloth over the normally-tacky black plastic tablecloth, adding the rats for some extra creepiness.  I used the fake spiderwebs to add some festivity to the front door and the coffee table and used last year’s decor to top it off.

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy

With the black scrapbook paper, I decided to make some bats to hang from the ceiling, after a summer road trip through Austin, TX where we watched the Congress Ave bats take flight at dusk.

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy

To do this, I found a silhouette image of a bat on the internet, traced it onto a piece of paper (don’t yet have a printer in my new house), cut it out and copied it onto scrapbook paper. A trick for less tracing/cutting: fold your paper edge over and line the bat up so he is bisected lengthwise. This way, you don’t spend as much time cutting AND the crease makes the bat look like he’s in flight!

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy

Use a needle and fishing line, or in my case, invisible thread which I had on hand, to hang from the ceiling with clear tape.  I love the way it turned out!

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy

To continue with the bat theme, my husband has loved the idea of a conceptual costume ever since we donned chick magnet and deviled egg costumes a few years back. This year, we decided he would be a “dingbat”.  Easiest costume ever! Your base: black shirt, pants and shoes. Then, you need some scrap black fabric, about half a yard, for your wings, and a desk courtesy bell that you can find for cheap from your local office supply store.

All I did was cut wings from the scrap fabric by laying the shirt flat with arms stretched out at 90 degrees, lining up the corner of the fabric and scalloped the edge from wrist to hem to look like a bat wing.  When done, simply glue the wings onto the shirt seams, then hot glue the desk bell to the front of the shirt.  Hit the bell, and up go his arms! A hit with the kids, who couldn’t stop dinging him! We fashioned a quick set of bat ears with a headband and some leftover black felt, though my dear husband took the liberty of cutting them without consulting me first and he ended up looking more like a flying dingcat.  But you get the picture. :) And doesn’t my doggy make the cutest shark?

halloween decorating ideas cheap craft diy dollar store bats spooky creepy


Eh Crafty Ladies!

Its Crate & Barrel style! (sorry, I couldn’t help myself, that song is taking over the universe)

bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

After a long hiatus from blogging due to a cross country move, the start of a new job and getting settled in our new home, I thought I’d start off with a post on home decor since we’ve been doing so much of it lately.  Hubs and I recently moved into a cute, little rental with lots of character and were in need of some curtains for our bedroom.  We have hardwood floors and some vintage, solid wood dressers that are much too gorgeous to repaint a la Pinterest so I wanted some type of graphic print in the citron-yellow range to brighten up the room.  I was having a hard time finding anything I really liked, except for these $278 babies ($139 for only one panel!!) at Crate & Barrel.

bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diyI couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on curtains so continued my search in fabric stores to see what it would cost to make my own.  After all, basic curtains are simply two large rectangles, with some finished edges, right? Imagine my surprise when I found the EXACT fabric from an online discount fabrics retailer for 80% off for the yardage I needed! That’s right, I only paid $50 to make two curtains!

bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

I did not line these as they are decorative, but you could do it easily with some inexpensive muslin to add some weight.  I am pretty happy with the results, and best of all, I didn’t have to spend a fortune for my Crate & Barrel taste!

What you need:

  • 5 yards of fabric (for two, standard 84-inch curtains)
  • matching thread (I used white)
  • pins
  • iron & ironing board

What you do:

  1. Take your 5 yard piece of fabric and cut it in half into two, 2.5 yard pieces.
  2. Start pinning the sides first with a 1.5 inch hem.
    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

    Make sure to take a look at your fabric design and see what you want your edge to be.  I preferred my edge to be just outside the circle part of the design.   First I pinned where I wanted the edge to be, then folded the unfinished edge under.  May seem redundant, but this is how I made sure to keep things straight and even.

    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy
  3. Sew your pinned sides then break out your iron and iron your edges flat.
  4. Now, its time to pin the bottom of the curtain.  Again, I used a 1.5 inch hem to match the sides, though I believe the Crate and Barrel ones have a 3 inch hem.  To make sure things were straight, I used the underside of the pattern to line up the lines of the design.
    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy
  5. Determine how long you want your curtain to be and pin the length.  Make your rod opening at least 3 inches, then pin under the unfinished edge.  Depending on how long you want your curtains to be, you may need to cut off excess fabric at this step.
    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy

    *A standard curtain you buy at a store is typically 84 inches long (the ones at Crate and Barrel are actually 96 inches, which was waaaaay longer than I wanted).  Our landlord hung the curtain rod on the actual window frame, which in interior design is not what you are supposed to do – you should hang it above and beyond the edges of the frame.  In any case, because of this and not wanting to rehang the curtain rod, my finished curtains were 81 inches so as to not crumple on the floor, so I did need to cut some fabric at this step.

  6. Before you sew, check your length by hanging pinned fabric from curtain rod.  Adjust length as necessary, then sew! Hang and admire your handiwork.  And if the moment strikes you, break into a little horse dance…you’ve earned it crafty lady!
    bella porte citrine curtain panela crate and barrel curtains cheap craft diy


Toasted Walnut and Orange Buttermilk Pancakes

orange buttermilk toasted walnut pancakes breakfast brunch recipes spring almond meal wheat bran IHOP Harvest Grain and Nut

My favorite pancakes to order out are not from Clinton Street Baking Co, Sarabeth’s, or any other famous NYC breakfast spot. They’re from — wait for it —  IHOP.  Their Harvest Grain & Nut pancakes have a wonderfully hearty texture and nutty flavor that I simply crave.

Enter epicurious.com. I found a recipe for a toasted walnut and buttermilk pancake that got rave reviews and sounded like a good base to start with.  Because I like my pancakes a little heartier and nutritious, as well as delicious, I subbed half the flour with almond meal, used honey instead of granulated sugar, and added some wheat bran to the batter for fiber.  To take these golden beauties to another level, I added the zest of an orange for a lovely, bright contrast. Needless to say, these savory delights may be my leisurely, Sunday breakfast-at-home staple from now on!

yield: Makes about five 5-inch pancakes, serving 2

Ingredients

orange buttermilk toasted walnut pancakes breakfast brunch recipes spring almond meal wheat bran IHOP Harvest Grain and Nut

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon wheat bran
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or you can use agave syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • zest of one medium orange
  • cooking spray
Directions

  1. In a bowl stir together the flour, almond meal, wheat bran, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and the walnuts.

    orange buttermilk toasted walnut pancakes breakfast brunch recipes spring almond meal wheat bran IHOP Harvest Grain and Nut

  2. In another small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, orange zest and honey.

    orange buttermilk toasted walnut pancakes breakfast brunch recipes spring almond meal wheat bran IHOP Harvest Grain and Nut

  3. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined.  Add a scant 1/8c of water to thin out the batter and stir. Do not overmix!
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Heat a griddle over moderate heat until it is hot enough to make drops of water scatter over its surface use cooking spray to coat the pan.
  5. Use ice cream scoop (same on you would use for cupcakes) to ladle batter onto the griddle and cook the pancakes for ~ 2 minutes on each side, or until they are golden.

    orange buttermilk toasted walnut pancakes breakfast brunch recipes spring almond meal wheat bran IHOP Harvest Grain and Nut

  6. Transfer the pancakes as they are cooked to a heatproof plate and keep them warm in the oven. Slap on a  small pat of butter and enjoy!

orange buttermilk toasted walnut pancakes breakfast brunch recipes spring almond meal wheat bran IHOP Harvest Grain and Nut


Paddy’s Day Party Prep

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

I love to entertain.  Over time, I’ve found the more gatherings you host, the better you get in terms of time management.  Like the best known entertainers will tell you, you host events to spend time with your guests…and how much time are you spending with them if you are constantly in the kitchen?

St. Patrick’s Day gatherings at our house have become a yearly thing.  Luckily, the food is so easy to prepare, and so naturally flavorful and good that getting an algorithm down for preparation isn’t half bad.  It is a meal that is a good place to start if you are just getting into entertaining.

My usual menu goes a little something like this:

Appetizers

  • Cheese plate with crackers/fruit
  • Pretzels with a fun mustard
  • Crudites with some type of dip
St. Patty's Day entertaining recipes hosting meal planning

*I always try to stick with a theme when entertaining.  For St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll typically pick up an Irish Cheddar, a stout infused cheese and something like an English Cotswold or an Apricot Stilton or some other fun variety.  For veggies and fruit, I choose what I serve using yellow, green and white as my color palette.

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

Main meal

  • Corned beef and cabbage (and carrots and red potatoes)
  • Irish Soda Bread
  • Salad of mache, crisp green beans and tomatoes with a white wine-whole grain mustard dressing
irish soda bread recipe St. Patty's Day menu planning hosting entertaining tips tricks

*I find that the traditional corned beef in a bag that you get from your grocer is sufficiently delicious for this meal. It is so easy to not have to worry about brining and seasoning…it always comes out great!  So, to amp up the foodie factor, I spend time making my own bread and a nice salad.

Dessert

  • Rich chocolate stout cake with a ganache drizzle and french vanilla ice cream
  • Coffee and Bailey’s
chocolate stout cake recipe St. Patty's Day menu planning hosting entertaining tips tricks

* This meal is so rustic and simple, it almost demands a decadent dessert for a strong finish! A great way to round out a fabulous meal.

The key to a smooth evening is prep earlier in the week.  Cut your veggies (cabbage into quarters, red potatoes halved or quartered , depending on size and carrots peeled and chunked for your CB&C and slice your crudites for appetizers) 1-2 days ahead of time and put them in easy to grab ziploc bags or reusable containers.

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread
St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

I love to add blanched green beans to a simple mache and heirloom tomato salad with mustard dressing – blanch your green beans ahead of time, slice your tomatoes and make your salad dressing early.

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread
St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

One thing I love to do, since a cheese plate is always a staple, is cut the label from a cheese wrapper and affix it with scotch tape to a simple toothpick.  Trader Joe’s has a great cheese selection and particularly cute labels, so it is identification and cute decoration, all-in-one!  Place unwrapped cheeses in a reusable container, ready to plate!

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

If making Irish soda bread the day of (which should definitely be eaten right out of the oven!), get your wet/dry ingredients portioned out in mixing bowls and cover in plastic wrap so they are ready to go. I typically pop my unbaked loaf into the oven just after guests arrive as it takes a little over an hour to bake.  Nothing better than the smell of fresh baking bread! And don’t forget to take some butter out of the fridge the morning of to allow to soften for serving.

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

Clear out one shelf in your fridge and stick everything for that day there, so you don’t have to search for things.

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

Plan out what servingware you’ll use, pre-wash them, and set them out how you want them arranged the night before.

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

Iron your fabric napkins and polish your silverware and glassware with a clean cloth.

St. Patrick's Day entertaining menu recipes corned beef and cabbage irish soda bread

And most importantly, have a great time and enjoy your guests the day of!  Happy Entertaining!

entertaining for St. Patrick's Day

Bake Love

Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

When you think of Valentine’s Day, what comes to mind? Love, romance, Cupid…<snore>, let’s get a little more tangible, people.  How about roses? Chocolate covered strawberries? Champagne, maybe? What if you were to combine all of those elements into one perfect edible little package…in the form of a mini cupcake? A delicate champagne cake, topped with a rich, rose-scented buttercream, garnished with a white chocolate drizzled strawberry slice. One, maybe two bites if you’re being polite, the interplay between these subtle, yet distinct flavors delivers one lovely treat.

As always, I’m a scourer of recipes, so this is a combination/adaptation.  Many thanks to Gimme Some Oven (how great is that name?) for the cake recipe and the peeps at epicurious for the fabulously pipeable buttercream frosting base. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the Champagne Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup champagne
  • 3 egg whites

For the Buttercream Frosting:

Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon rose water (found at specialty food stores and your local middle eastern market)
  • 1 drop red food coloring (optional, though festive)

Directions:

To Make The Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a mini cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.

    Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

  3. In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. You should be able to hold the bowl above your head and nothing should move.

    Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

  4. Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites.  Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.

    Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

    Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

To make the frosting:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the butter, sifted powdered sugar, salt, milk, and rose water until smooth. Mix in food coloring if using.

    Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

For your strawberries:

Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

  1. Wash, hull, and slice your berries into ~4-5 slices per berry.  If making minicupcakes, smaller strawberries seem to make a more proportionate garnish.

    Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

  2. Lightly dry berries by using paper towel to remove excess moisture and place berry slices on a sheet of parchment paper.

    Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry

  3. Temper your melting chocolate and use a spoon to drizzle melted chocolate over berries (obviously, there is some room for improvement in my drizzling technique!).  Allow to dry.  Garnish your cupcakes and share the love!

    Valentine's Day treats cupcakes desserts rose buttercream frosting champagne chocolate covered strawberry


Cake Poppin’

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

When I first saw little cake balls on a stick at Starbucks, I honestly wasn’t very interested.  The idea of frosting and cake covered in more candy/chocolate sounded overly sweet for my preferably savory tastebuds. Then, along came Pinterest and all it’s pretty pictures…all of a sudden, just like that, I HAD to make them.

Thank goodness for Bakerella and her lovely YouTube video!  If you’re a first timer, be sure to check it out for helpful tips – you really can’t go wrong.

As Valentine’s is coming up, what better combo for a cake pop than my favorite, dreamy red velvet with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, doused in a white chocolate shell and adorned with some festive red sprinkles?  Simply, sinfully, scrumdeliumptious.

If you have a recipe for 12 cupcakes, it’ll make enough cake for about 48 cake pops.  I didn’t have enough frosting for that many, so I cut the baked cake in half.  I <gasp!> do not own a cake pan, so poured my prepared cupcake batter into a loaf pan and baked for ~45 minutes at 325, until a toothpick came out clean.

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

I cut the loaf in half and crumbled it up,

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Added about 1/4 – 1/3 c of Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting (I made a batch of 24 mini cupcakes the same day and frosted them – this was the amount that was leftover)

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Mix the cake and frosting together and, using a cookie scoop, roll them into uniform little balls that hold together.  Stick the balls in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm them up, then switch them to the fridge – you do not want frozen balls!

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Meanwhile, get your chocolate ready.  I used the narrowest and deepest microwavable vessel I had on hand, which turned out to be my trusty Pyrex liquid measurer. I filled up my Pyrex cup with my melting chocolate, put it in the microwave for two, 30 second intervals and used a spatula to stir from the inside out (just like you would if using a double boiler to melt your chocolate) to make sure everything is melted, incorporated and smooth. DO NOT OVERHEAT or your chocolate will not set properly.

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Take a lollipop stick and dip 1/2 inch or so of the tip in melted chocolate.

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Insert tip into firm cake ball, about halfway through (not all the way through!)

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Using a straight, vertical motion, submerge your cake ball in chocolate.

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Use the turn of your hand to make sure all cake is covered (do not twist the stick!)

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Lift cake pop straight out of vessel, pausing to let excess drip off in a vertical fashion, THEN, turn cake pop 90 degrees and slowly spin stick in your hand.  Use your opposite hand to gently tap your palm to allow all excess to drip off as you spin (watch the video – it is easier than it sounds!)

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

Before chocolate has fully set, sprinkle your cake pop with your favorite adornment. Place finished cake pops in a thick styrofoam base to allow them to set and dry.

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert

To serve, I set mine in mini cupcake papers – helps contain the sprinkles!

red velvet cinnamon cream cheese frosting cake pop valentine's day treats dessert


Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice

Carrot ginger oatmeal cookie recipe

That’s what these ginger-carrot-oatmeal cookies are made of!

What can I say?  I hadn’t baked in about a month and was starting to get that NEED.TO.USE.THE.KITCHENAID itch.  Armed with ingredients already on hand, I began to scour recipes for carrot/oatmeal cookies and came across two that were inspiring, Martha’s Carrot Cake Cookies and Dorie Greenspan’s Gingered Carrot Cookies. I didn’t have pecans or walnuts or coconut and don’t particularly love raisins, so I used the base of Martha’s recipe and the gingery idea of Dorie’s, adding candied ginger to increase the ginger flavor and replicate the chew of the raisins.  The result was a pretty delicious hybrid!

I might mention that this itch might of had to do with coming straight from the gym, where my treadmill faced a TV that was playing Food Network episodes.  Hmmmmm.  To make myself feel better, I subbed half the flour for almond meal, which since I was omitting walnuts, gave them a great nutty base.  The cookies spread out quite a bit, probably in part due to the fact that almond meal doesn’t bind as well as flour, so this is definitely more of a thin, crispy cookie, as opposed to a chunky one. Crumbled, it would be great over vanilla bean ice cream, or if you live in a foodie friendly place, over some stracciatella gelato.  :) Next time, in order to get them to hold together a little better, I think I will decrease the baking temp to 350 and chill the dough for at least an hour prior to baking. Still, pretty darn delicious.

Gingered Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

adapted from Martha Stewart.  Makes 24.

Carrot ginger oatmeal cookie recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup finely grated carrots (about 3 small-medium carrots)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until just incorporated.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir to combine.

    Carrot ginger oatmeal cookie recipe

    Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended.

    Carrot ginger oatmeal cookie recipe

    Mix in oats, carrots, and candied ginger.

    Carrot ginger oatmeal cookie recipe

  4. Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies.

    Carrot ginger oatmeal cookie recipe

  5. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Positively Persimmon

PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS

I.LOVE.PERSIMMONS. What’s not to love about the crisp, vibrantly orange, lightly spicy-sweet fruit? It wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t understand why you would choose a strange piece of fruit after Thanksgiving dinner over traditional desserts like pumpkin pie and ambrosia (alright, alright, I probably don’t ‘choose’ so much as make room for both or all).  My uncle always has a plate of fresh Fuys out and, one year, they just looked so perfectly plump and pretty that I had to try one…and I’m so glad I did!

Now, I always look for them in the fall and buy them in numbers. Usually, I’m the only one in my household eating them and this year I actually let a few get <gasp!> overripe.  What’s a girl to do with overripe fuyus?  Same thing you do with bananas – bake ‘em up! Perusing the web, I came across this lovely photographic blog and a persimmon cookie recipe that sounded pretty tasty and decided to give it a whirl (literally!). The original recipe  (and most persimmon baking recipes) calls for Hachiyas but the Fuyus worked out great; whichever variety you choose, just make sure the persimmon is so ripe that the skin is almost translucent and bursting at the seams. The flavor and texture of the finished cookie reminds me of fall with flavors very similar to pumpkin spice.  Tasty little guys either on their own or with ice cream…butter pecan, anyone?  :)

Persimmon Cookies

PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS
  • 1 cup persimmon puree (about 3 persimmons)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

For the persimmon puree, remove the stems from the persimmons and cut the fruit into chunks. Puree the chunks in a food processor until the mixture is smooth. Use a sieve to strain pulp  and remove skins.

PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS
PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS
PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the the orange rind, egg, vanilla, and persimmon pulp.

PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in 2-3 batches, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries.

PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS

Drop the dough, using a small ice cream scoop onto the prepared cookie sheets.

PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS

Bake cookies for 20 minutes, depending on the size, rotating pan halfway though.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

PERSIMMON COOKIE RECIPE  FALL DESSERTS THANKSGIVING TREATS FLAVORS

Fall in the Big Apple

old fashioned apple cake apple picking baking recipes fall dessert bread

thethriftycrafter has moved to New York! While my new schedule doesn’t allow for a whole lot of crafting time, my hubs and I have tried to make the most of the time we do have by venturing out to explore our new surroundings.  Among our most recent trips, we did a little apple picking in New York’s Hudson Valley region at Wrights Farm. We spent the day taking in (and taking pictures of!) all of the fall colors and finished up with a brisk hike in the apple orchards.  Such a fun outing to enjoy the fall season!

old fashioned apple cake apple picking baking recipes fall dessert bread

Coming home with 2 whole pecks of apples, I was in search for a few good recipes. I turned to my trusty Moosewood Desserts cookbook for inspiration and found a great recipe for Old Fashioned Apple Cake.  I made it as directed and it was delicious, though next time to mix it up, I would add some chopped walnuts and a cream cheese glaze.  Try it as a morning bread in a loaf pan, or increase the recipe and make it in a bundt pan for a festive fall party cake.  A sweet reminder of the glorious beauty of fall.

Old-Fashioned Fresh Apple Cake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled, chopped apples (recipe suggested Mutsu and Rome, both of which were varieties we picked!)
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

old fashioned apple cake baking recipes moosewood fall dessert bread

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Oil or butter a loaf pan.

2. Combine the melted butter and brown sugar, beating well by hand or using an electric mixer. Add the vanilla, then beat in the eggs one at a time.

old fashioned apple cake baking recipes moosewood fall dessert bread

3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture – batter will be stiff. Fold in chopped apples, lemon juice and lemon peel.

old fashioned apple cake baking recipes moosewood fall dessert bread

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the cake is golden and a knife comes out clean.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or let cool and garnish with a cream cheese glaze.

old fashioned apple cake baking recipes moosewood fall dessert bread


Yarn-Wrapped Vases

yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

What to do with the leftover yarn from your Party Animals wire animal project? Pick up some cheap tin cans of varying sizes from your favorite discount store and turn them into coordinating centerpieces, that’s what! Flowers are a must for me at any type of event and when you can get them gorgeous and on the cheap from your local Trader Joe’s, this craft really is a no-brainer! We ended up using the smallest can as a utensil holder…another great way to add some texture and color to your table!

Here’s what you need:

yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

  • leftover yarn
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • washed and dried tin cans (I went to Big Lots and bought the cheapest cans I could with the best size variation)
yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

Here’s what you do:

  1. Remove outer paper label from tin can and thoroughly wash both inside and outside of can.
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
  2. Once dry, use hot glue gun to tack end of yarn to edge of can.
  3. Wrap tin can 10-20 times or so, keeping some tension.
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
  4. Scrunch yarn down to cover up any openings and to create the textured look.
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
  5. Continue wrapping in sets of 10-20 until you reach the upper edge of can.
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
  6. Cut yarn and glue down on edge.  Voila!  Gorgeous vase in less than 10 minutes!
    yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

Cost: Under $4 for five vases.

yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun
yarn wrapped vases cheap craft ideas party decor hot glue gun

 


Party Animals

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

I had the privilege of helping out in the decorating department recently for a very special one year old’s birthday.  The parents had sent out an Evite with animal silhouettes, so when I saw the brightly colored print below on sale at Joann’s, I knew it had to be apart of the celebration.  In typical thriftycrafter fashion, I made a few table runners and a new bunting to incorporate the print, but still wanted some type of wall/hanging decoration to carry the animal shape theme.

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

I remembered seeing a super cute craft that a very talented friend of mine did for her sister’s baby shower that involved wrapping colored string around the wire frame of an old lampshade; I loved the textural look of it and knew I had to incorporate this technique somehow.  I decided to mimic the animal shapes from the print by bending re-purposed wire hangers from the dry cleaner, then wrapping them in interesting textural yarns that matched the colors in the fabric.  The best part?  Most of the yarn came from Big Lots and was $1/skein…now that is a thrifty craft!

We hung them along the backyard fence with invisible thread for some extra outdoor festivity.  I think they turned out so perfect and cute…the giraffe is my favorite.  What’s yours?

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

This last one is supposed to be a hippo, but I think the consensus was that he ended up looking like either a pig or an aardvark. :)

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

Here’s what you need:

  • wire hangers
  • wire cutters
  • pliers
  • yarn
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors

Here’s what you do:

  1. Use your wire cutters to remove the top portion of the wire hanger.
    DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
  2. With the print in front of you, use pliers to bend the hanger to mimic the shape of the animal. Each of my animals needed wire from two hangers to complete.
    DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
  3. Use hot glue gun to tack separate pieces together.  Allow to cool slightly, then mold glue while it is warm (not hot!) to minimize any bulk.
    DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations
  4. Once your wire animals are complete, spot glue end of yarn to hanger.  Wrap yarn around hanger 10-20 times, then cinch down and pull taut to create the textured, rugged look.  Repeat until you’ve covered the entire wire frame.  This part of the project can be tedious, but it is perfect if you need some mindless activity or need to catch up on your tv programs! Once completely wrapped, snip your yarn and use hot glue to affix end.
    DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

Cost: While 4 of my skeins were only $1 at Big Lots, I spent $9 total on yarn for the 6 animals in order to get the right bright coral and bright green for the rhino and turtle.  Still, not bad and certainly a lot of bang for your buck! Look for sales, shop your discount stores and use your Michael’s and Joann’s 40% off coupons!

DIY birthday party crafts kids wire hangers yarn wrapped project decorations

Spring Cleaning Crafts

seashell wreath lotus pods reindeer moss natural craft project spring summer

The weekends have been nice around the beach lately so we’ve been taking our dog down there to play. There always seem to be an abundance of nice, big, unbroken shells at Dog Beach (probably because you don’t see many little kiddos running around with their pails full) so I’ve been picking up the pretty ones and saving them for a craft.  As most seashell decorations tend to not be my favorite, I wanted to create something that brought in my love of nature-inspired, textural elements.

seashell wreath lotus pods reindeer moss natural craft project spring summer

I’m a collector of all notions crafty  – when I head to a thrift store, discount store or garage sale (or even when someone does their spring cleaning and discards perfectly good items that could be repurposed!), I’ll take home things that I might not have an immediate need for and save them until inspiration strikes.  Such is the case with this twig wreath, which I found discarded on top of someone’s trash.  It originally had ugly, fake flowers not-so-delicately hot-glued on it which were easily removed to reveal a clean and natural base.  The lotus seed pods were found at a thrift store mixed in a bag with preserved leaves for $2 (but you can find them at any Michael’s) and my reindeer moss is leftover from some Christmas projects.  I wanted another textural component, so used my trusty 40% Michael’s coupon to purchase these interesting dyed and dried mushrooms.

seashell wreath lotus pods reindeer moss natural craft project spring summer

While I think the addition of succulents would be gorgeous, I wanted something dried so that I could hang it, then store it away with the seasons.  So grab a hot glue gun,  get inspired by your findings and leftovers, and get creative!

seashell wreath lotus pods reindeer moss natural craft project spring summer