Jacques’ Cranberry Chutney

With the influx of guests, decorating and tasks for the holidays I’ve let my posting fall off. Time for a few quick hits.

We all have favorite recipes, collections we go to no matter what appears in a magazine, food show or blog. Some because it would be heresy to deviate from. In my family that would be Nana’s hardsauce that she’d pour over plum puddings. Never liked plum pudding as a kid but a bowl of hardsauce would suit me just fine. If any family member held the holidays and tried something other than nana’s hardsauce – well, that would just be an insult to her memory. Other go to recipes are the ones you make and sigh, perfection. Why try any other chocolate cake , hermit cookie, veggie chili ,whatever once you’ve found the one recipe that truly rings your chimes for flavor, texture, ease of preparation and your other selection criteria.  

For me, Jacques Pepin’s Cranberry Chutney from Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home is one of these recipes. Doesn’t matter what I see in blogs, tv or magazines – this is my go to recipe.

I rarely deviate from the recipe as published but have seen the addition by some of dried cranberries to a sauce which might be interesting. If I were hosting a meal with many kiddies, I might swap the lemon for orange. Be forewarned, this recipe is TART. But, I like tart. The chutney is not only lovely with turkey; I also enjoy it as a topping for cream cheese on a bagel or toast. If you’re a fan of tart lemon flavor and a fan of cranberries – this could be your next go to recipe as well.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

No Muffintops

When browsing Williams Sonoma a few season’s back, I’d seen this apron.

I immediately fell in love with the simplicity of it. It can be so easy to go for the cute, busy prints offered for the holidays. But this was subdued and I liked that. It wouldn’t be all matchy matchy with other things I use and it wouldn’t clash.  My friends, relatives and I all prefer the full apron without a cinched waist for the simple reason that none of us have the waist to carry that style off.  Half aprons are cute and fast, but as they say of some in skinny jeans, that would result in a muffintop appearance that is a tad unflattering.  My mom used to call it a “potato sack tied in the middle”. Nomenclature changes but the image is the same. The full apron, although not a miracle maker, can mask all those days not spent at the gym with its simple smooth lines (to a certain degree  :-)  ).

I’d been debating about styles to try out and had also saved this picture of an Anthropologie full apron to try although the Williams Sonoma won out. Again, simple and somewhat subdued was the mood I was in when browsing.

Utilized the same pattern I discuss in Apron Redo and line the apron as illustrated in my Halloween version tutorial. Chose the scoop neck over straight and left the bow off the pocket. The ruffle for this one is not from a pattern. It’s simply a long rectangle about 1 1/3 the bottom length of the apron and about 12 inches high. Fabric was JoAnn. The bias trim is Wrights double wide.

I adore how it came out! It’s exactly what I wanted.  Although I was looking for subdued, my sister’s favorite decorating theme is poinsettia and I found this fabric to use for a gift for her, which was also a hit. The Wrights trim in deep green set it off beautifully.

All of us in the U.S. are pushing to get through our Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday so December holiday projects are just starting to appear, more to come.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Victory in a Jar

I enjoy writing. My days are spent in business where good business writing is concise, clear, three points, short words, never confuse anyone with multi-syllable words, descriptors are clutter to the message and sentences should be short. This is important with global audiences where English is a second language to many. For my blog, I love the freedom of “stream of consciousness” (sounds more intelligent than run on sentences, doesn’t it?) and like to push myself to remember simple things like adjectives and descriptors. When pondering terms to use for this post, antediluvian is what I settled on. It means “from the time before the biblical flood”. Marvelous word – don’t you think? Why is this post antediluvian? Because this post is about Mix in a Jar recipes.

Why victorious for my title? Because this mix in a jar recipe is sheer bliss once it’s made into a loaf. Victory, found what I needed, settled on my “theme” to work up (baskets, various wrapping ideas and the theme with another recipe in a future post; you may want to subscribe so you don’t miss it J  I will tell you that for folks I know, I like to include a baked version, plus the mix for them to make and enjoy again later ). If there were blog police, I think they should go after anyone who posts mix in a jar recipes and hasn’t actually made and eaten them or has not posted pics of the finished cooked/baked product. I want to know there’s firsthand experience and what I’m gifting isn’t some gummy oily monstrosity once baked. So, I’m Maggie and I approve this recipe.

Sunset’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quick Bread in a Bottle 

My slight variation, substitute some of the white flour with whole wheat and use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips:

Dried Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Quick Bread (or Raisin Walnut)

Layer:

 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries, lightly chopped (or raisins) 

Follow Sunset recipe for wet. For gifts I recommend you add the notation that 1 ½  TBL vinegar added to 1 ½ Cup milk can be substituted for the buttermilk (not everyone you gift may have it handy and although buttermilk would be a smidge better, this will still make a fine loaf). * Since originally posting this, I’ve become a fan of dry buttermilk (once the America’s test kitchen folks gave it their approval, I gave it a go. I now add the buttermilk powder to the dry and the corresponding amount of water to the wet. Follow instructions wiith the brand you get for amounts.

 At first I was very concerned. The batter seemed MUCH looser than most tea breads I make. I was reaching for the flour thinking just another ¼ cup but made myself resist as Sunset is usually pretty reliable. I truly had my doubts when putting these into the oven that they wouldn’t be a bit soggy. No worries – do not give in to the temptation to add flour, it bakes up beautifully.

 

 

As I’m testing out gifts, I thought about making the loaves just a tad easier to wrap by lining the pans with parchment (long side only see photo. I didn’t bother with the pan that was for me). As the cooking sprays come out pretty wet – I usually tip the pans over and let them drain a tad, figure the manufacturer doesn’t want any sticking, thus the heavy hand – I placed the parchment in the wet pan then turned it over so batter side had some of non-stick goo. I also sprinkled the tops with a light dusting of white sugar as I like the little extra crunch it gives the final product.

 

My smaller pans took about 40 minutes (I am in the mountains and seem to have to cook all baked goods a tad longer). 

Jars

I realized I wanted to do another wash of my jars (they’d gotten dusty), so you won’t see mine here. But they are something you can ready ahead of time. A nice add is to check the expiration on the flours you use and note that expiration date on the bottom of your recipe cards.  For jars, I use thoroughly cleaned Classico sauce jars (get the sauce in a 3 pack from Costco).  Yes, linking this post to food sites and I have jars of premade sauce confessed to in it. Just mush a few olives, capers and caper juice into it and it transforms. So, the jars – I like that the Kerr regular lids fit precisely and there are no vendor marks on the jars. You might have to use an adhesive remover to get the labels off. A final run through your hot dishwasher and your jars are probably more sterile than what you buy.  I know some paint and reuse the sauce lids, but new Kerr lids cost virtually nothing and take the package up a notch.

 

Wrap

 Experimenting with wrapping alternatives and found another keeper. These loaves can be boxed in one 8 ½ X 11 sheet of cardstock (U.S. Letter). My example is showing you only the cardstock “plain” (having guests for U.S. Thanksgiving and am not dragging out the Christmas stuff yet). Crafters reading this post will realize the decorating ideas are endless – they include paint (simply sponge or wash your holiday colors over the paper and let dry), rubber stamping, pen and ink, decoupaged tissue, composing whatever combo you like and running your sheet through your printer, purchased cardstock or downloadable sheet images. I used a heavier cardstock and scored all lines using a clean pan as my guide. No tape – the ribbon at the end holds it together. Plan to make and print round labels for the tops (something original like “From Maggie’s Kitchen” in holiday hues). I’ve scanned the folded one so that I can work the pattern in my design programs.

         

 Special thank you to ‘SnoWhite’ for featuring this post on her blog.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Loving Linen

Making your own linen guest towels is pretty fast and easy if you sew anything at all. And that’s splendid as I love linen. Love the look, love the feel, love working with it.

I know I’ve mentioned that I often rely on Napkins Online from eBay rather than sewing out mitered cornered napkins – but hey  - at about $1.50 each it’s worth it if I have a bunch (sets of 12) to make given I like the whole mitered corner thing. Four or 6 double sided napkins with cute rik rak, aka the Halloween ones I discussed with tutorials here, yield very satisfying high speed results. Linen mitered corner napkins in larger numbers lose their appeal quickly.  Not so the linen towels. You’re not burning your fingertips trying to press and miter really small hems. And, two make a very nice gift. Keep your regular bath towels out but make 2 guest towels in coordinating colors to place over them for your holiday of choice.

Pretty much, I pick up my linen at JoAnn on sale. The folks over at Martha Stewart Living had recommended Gray Line Fabrics in one of their articles and I keep them bookmarked in case I need a color I can’t find locally. They have a wonderful selection and reasonable prices.

 

I simply cut rectangles 25 inches by 15 inches. First press the hems – I like to use a stiff piece of cardboard as a guide, for those in the U.S. priority mail envelopes have a nice edge to help with straight hems. First, press all around less than a ¼ inch. Then make a second pass. Finished side hems are about ¼ inch, back hem about ½ inch and front hem 1 ½ inch. Decorate to your liking. Machine embroider, hand embroider, stitch rick rak, trims or fabric strips across or appliqué with either iron on or stitching. The one thing to keep in mind is that linen really only looks good if you iron it while damp – it can be difficult to get crisp looking otherwise.

I’d purchased some linen guest towels here and they’re fine -literally and figuratively (she’s a popular seller). My Nice / Naughty stitching actually poked a hole through the purchased towel when stitching out the poinsettia (i.e. the fine notation). For my handcrafted linen towels I use a bit sturdier linen so I have more design choice in machine embroidery I’ve used JoAnn’s 100% linen (note the linked linen is 53 inches wide), not a handkerchief linen which would be too fine. You could go with linen look (55% linen, 45% rayon) or craft some very inexpensively using “poor man’s linen”, osnaburg (100% cotton), if you prefer. I’ve decided I like my handcrafted better then the “for sale hemstitch”. If you like the look of hemstitch but want to make towels, check out the fancy stitches on your machine. You may find you like an airy, feathering stitch along the hemline just as well.

 Always prewash and dry (low if linen, high for cottons). If you machine stitch items that later shrink, you’ll end up with something that’s only good as a rag – it will never look good again (picture a scrunched up embroidery design that never flattens out). For this reason be careful when purchasing items to embroider. I’d bought some cotton waffle weave that shrank terribly. I was a tad forewarned as the site said wash cool lay flat – but I don’t know anyone I could gift waffle weave cotton dish towels who would not throw them in the washer and dryer so I bought a few as an experiment. I was surprised to find someone was actually selling cotton dishtowels that couldn’t go in the dryer to crafters as embroidery blanks. They are now with my rags, luckily I didn’t embroider with them first. I can understand with linen, but cotton waffle weave? I only hope crafters reselling these didn’t lose their reputation and customers. Not pre-washing keeps that crisp, new look. But it can bite you later. Always pre-wash. Starch after if you like and want a crisp new look. (aside: I did email the seller, saying the warning was there so I didn’t want a refund but it wasn’t big and could cost customers – I noticed they came off the site’s offerings).

I use various shades of linen above are 2 in the “natural” look. The runner they are sitting on is linen yardage from Ikea (seemed to be a summer product only).

The Dove towel stitched out beautifully. The Peace on the right I’d edited by removing the dove and added the word peace. My machine then had problems stitching it out (no stop from green to red on 2 of the poinsettias that you can see). When machine embroidery fouls up – it can be nasty. Nests of threads knotted together on the underside, can poke big holes, and worse. My first machine had a ton of problems (and these puppies can be expensive). The retailer finally swapped it for a different new one and it’s been clear sailing since, but at first it was way too finicky and unpredictable.

The designs on the towels I’m displaying are: Embroidery Library Watercolor Maple Leaves and Embroidery Library Victorian Christmas Dove. I usually edit the colors to suit me better. The Nice, Naughty I’d put together with my font program. I have so many small holiday designs I’m not sure where those particular poinsettia and mistletoe came from.

If you don’t want to “sew your own” Dharma trading has very reasonably priced linen runners (and  Napkins Online has linen cotton blend runners). For something different in hand embroidery designs, check out Sublime Stitching or Urban Threads. Using trims, fabrics and appliqué on your guest towels is as limitless as your imagination.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Giving Back

Women Giving Back. There are a few groups that use this name.  Over in Sonora, it is a group of generous women who hold a monthly fundraiser for a local charity. It started when one woman had lunches in her home and each of those invited would donate a certain amount of money.  They’d have a speaker from a local charity come and gift that money to the speaker’s charity. It is now significantly larger.  The local blood bank allows the use of their banquet room and kitchen as long as a certain number of folks donate blood in Women Giving Back’s name during a quarter. About 10 women purchase all supplies for lunch and host it (one is a professional caterer). Those attending make a donation of $25.00 to that month’s charity. The amount includes a raffle ticket, with additional raffle tickets available for only $5 for 3.  Prices are very reasonably set so that, even in this economy, many can attend. I donate a raffle basket once/year and chose this month as it is Sonora Library’s Literacy Services program. I read constantly and thought it would be a good fit.

A Good Book, some Hot Cocoa and Snacks in Murphys is my theme (I’ve mentioned I love my little town and like to lure folks here). I’m not the best with baskets, the two previous years I’ve picked up a beautiful plant or two from local garden centers in a nice basket container. Every time I went to buy something locally to put in the basket I thought “if it were me I’d rather have a gift certificate so I could pick what I really want”.  After all, I’m an avid reader – but it’s of fun fiction not the kind of books so many book clubs settle on. I was an English Literature major in college and have done my duty trudging through the work of so many depressing suicidal geniuses. If someone put books in a basket for a literacy raffle, I can bet it wouldn’t be something I’d be dying to read. So, gift certificate to the local bookstore, Murphys Books aka Paul’s Books, it is. The recipient can choose what they like.  

Then on to Creative Cookware, our marvelous cooking store.  The owner, Barbara, made a few suggestions in my price range for the basket – and again I was thinking “would the recipient rather have a new cookbook, a snack of gourmet jams or chutneys or a snack of an Ina Garten mix?  Why decide for her? Second gift certificate done.  To round out the Murphys theme a stop at the very deadly if you have any sweet tooth at all, Nelson’s Candies. Their locally handmade candies (you can watch in their Columbia shop – a popular stop for school field trips) are not only delicious but they are beautiful. Their large handmade candy ribbons are a staple of my Christmas repertoire – they add such beauty to dessert tables. This was easy, a small box of chocolates and a small box of fruit chews.  Stunning new black and white mugs and a four pack of gourmet flavored cocoas rounded out the purchase. Topping it off would be some treats baked by me.  I settled on Baker’s Chocolate Nut Loaves.

It’s an easy recipe to put together and something on my list to try. This gets another Maggie Gold Star gotta try it recommendation. I did alter it just a tad by adding one heaping tablespoon of cocoa to the mix for a deeper chocolate flavor. The smaller cakes took 25 to 30 minutes to bake (I’m at an altitude in the mountains, start checking something as small as the leaves at 20 minutes).

 

Cooks Illustrated has some special editions out for the holidays. One (with an updated Tunnel of Fudge cake) talks about cooking in Bundt pans. They recommend melting 2 tablespoons of butter, mixing in the same amount of flour and then pasting that into your pans with a pastry brush so the cakes come out easily with the added bonus that they won’t have that white coating you get with a flour dusting or Pam Baking Spray.  Also recommended was to use cocoa instead of flour for chocolate cakes.  Decided to give it a go as I wanted to drag out the fancy pans for this effort. It can be confusing with cocoa as it so looks like chocolate, that your brain keeps telling you it’s going to burn.  Although I’ve found America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated to be correct and informative, I made one pan with Pam Cooking Spray in case there was anything off about this method. I also used a silicone brush which worked well. It turned out fine and you get fingers covered in chocolate powder anytime you touch those treats – be careful using it with any finger food. The batter is actually a bit thick for the detailed pans.  I’d pushed the batter into all the corners but did end up with lots of bubble marks (and I’d tapped the pans to release them). Luckily – lots of icing covered the little pock marks but if I wanted a clearer shape (like the Nordicware leaf pans with leaf vein lines) I’ll use a different recipe.

 

 The small book had a recipe for bittersweet glaze, and although I had the unsweetened Baker’s chocolate, I was concerned it might be too strong for some. So, I substituted the unsweetened with semi-sweet squares and then followed their recipe.

Semi-Sweet Glaze

 2 squares Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate

2 TBL butter

Dash salt

 1 ¾ Cup Confectioner’s sugar

3 TBL hot water

Melt chocolate with butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add salt. Alternately add sugar with water, making sure to stir until smooth (may look lumpy after a sugar addition). Enough for a 9 or 10 inch cake (tube or square). Completely yummy.

 

 

 The cupcake boxes can now be found in the Wilton area of your craft stores.  The leaf pan fits cupcake bottoms and in the cupcake boxes quite well.  For others, you can pull out the cupcake insert piece of cardboard and use it as a small bakery box. 

These cakes with glaze are superb.  After the luncheon, shared some with my neighbor over a glass of light white wine and we agree this is a winner (yes reds with chocolate when you want to balance, but believe me, white works J ). Oh, and it is a bit different than a traditional chocolate cake – truly something about it is more of a “loaf” texture. 

   

For folks who know me, one of my favorite containers is saved and washed ice cream containers (don’t soak them or put in the dishwasher or they fall apart, but quick hand washing is fine). Works great for single layered cookies, excellent for shipping them as you can pad outside the small container, works for single cupcakes, here you see the raspberry bars en route to neighbors.  Also works for a few small rubber stamps with one inch type stamp pad or special Christmas ornaments. They are just so dang cute (and I am an ice cream fan). However, not fancy enough for the basket so went with the cupcake boxes. The Cupcake Queen over at 52 Cupcakes I believe I saw recommend Plastic Container City. I’ve also seen folks recommend Candyland Crafts. I’ve not used them but have them bookmarked to try if I don’t find what I want at the craft stores. For those of you who like to craft your own, Wilton’s single cupcake box is 10 1/2 inches by 16 inches. You could use glossy 11 X 17 cardstock to replicate them.

 I ran out and didn’t nab photos of the raffle basket with mugs and treats – it did turn out lovely and the Sonora library got almost $800 for their new book fund from the lunch plus raffle activities (and I have extra chocolate nut loaves to share with my neighbors).

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

It’s hurtling towards us like a meteor

With the winter holiday hurtling towards us like a meteor, crafts and sewing are in high season. Given the size of my family and friends gift list, I know my optimistic plans for handcrafted gifts will be a crater of despair by mid-December “mailing deadlines” if I’m not far along soon.  I’ve resorted to over $100 to mail a box past that mid-December window (ouch, that hurt) and I’ve gifted many gift certificates with folks getting fun handmade “extras” post holiday. Every time, I tell myself never again. I’ll only begin what is reasonable to accomplish in concert with my work and other schedules. Yet here I sit among bins of fabric and patterns, some wood, beads, beads and more beads and recipes with plans for neat containers and stacks of holiday magazines collected throughout the years spread over every available surface for “inspiration”.

Those who purchase gifts may be able to kick into gear the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, but for crafters time is slipping away at an alarming rate. I should add that I don’t work quickly. Even simple projects are approached as an exercise and play. This color with that or here? I’ve seen folks grab a quilt pack, toss it down, say “good enough for so and so” and motor away, quilt top in a day. No arranging on a quilt board, no fussing about with color and patterns, no back and forth.  That’s not me. The design is the part I enjoy most and I milk it for all its worth. I want the best possible combinations so test and try, stop and arrange, move slowly, checking as I go is my snail’s pace. Whenever folks say “you should sell that (or those)” I think “they’re nuts” – it generally takes me days. Handcrafted items from me are only for those close to me.

One area where I can make a bit faster progress is jewelry – specifically earrings. Was a time when they were all long and more involved in design.  But, for wearing all day without getting earlobes that stretch to your ankles, a few select beads work best. Today I’ll talk about this simple “one drop” style (note that a few in the photos require joining 2 pins – hadn’t segregated those out when I shot these). Once you settle on a main bead and finding color (silver, rose tone gold, gold…) you’re set.

First my favorite suppliers; Rings & Things in Washington is the go to place for craftspeople and avid crafters (http://www.rings-things.com, there are others with similar urls, you want this one with the hyphen). They have a fantastic supply, very clear catalog and excellent prices. As they’re primarily a wholesaler, they do charge a minute small order fee. They also have an excellent project gallery and instructions. I’m putting together my order to place it before I post this (I’m such a nudge – but first in, first out J ). Second is the original Garden of Beadin in California (in last few years some shops with the same name have come online http://www.gardenofbeadin.com). Those of you who hit the crafts stores know that both JoAnn and Michaels have expanded to include a rather respectable collection of jewelry supplies as well.

If you plan to make much jewelry, invest in the tools. You can use a coupon at your craft store for a multipack of tools for around $10. It’s worth it. The big clunkers used for home repair will be too hard to work with in the tight spaces of jewelry loops and finishes. The black handled tool in the above photo is a crimper – great for necklaces and bracelets, not necessary for earrings. The craft stores are now carrying sterling silver and gold plate jewelry “findings” (the stuff you use to put your jewelry together). The silver and gold plate head pins bend easily – good for working with, not so good if you snag your earrings with a hairbrush or clothing making them burst apart and go spinning across the room. The less expensive standard head pins will take a bit more muscle to make a nice loop to attach to your ear wires but will withstand more “wear and tear”. If you online/catalog shop you have a choice of standard and thin head pins. Some beads (mostly the really small seed beads) have tiny holes and won’t fit on standard head pins. Generally, standard pins are the way to go. There are all sorts of ear wires and posts to choose from – personal tastes there. If you use the gold plate or silver wire, consider doing the wire-wrapped beaded head and eye pin instead of the simpler loop on head or eye pins. The simple loop is fast and easy and will hold up on standard head pins. I use my thumb, sometimes the back of the wire cutter, to push the wire around the needle nose pliers and get a good even circle loop.

For simple post earrings you need needle nose pliers, wire cutters, your choice of ear wire and head pins. Pick a bead to highlight. Place a seed bead in an offsetting color above and below it. Create a loop on the earring pin and attach it to your ear wire. The red glass bead used in the photos was available in a multipack of colors in the crafts store. A friend had come by to match an outfit (I have a rather large stash) and put this combo together.

You might also scan the Designer Tip Sheets and Project How to list with Photo thumbnails. I’ve gifted earrings in boxes, sewn bags, on a decorated square of cardstock with 2 holes punched in for the ear wires to fit. This year I’m planning to make a bunch of decorated matchbox type fold overs (aka Mirkwood’s matchbox notebook without the paper with a length to match whatever is required by the earring). I’ll place these sets in a matching box.  Photos to come.  (Meteor image from NASA, copyright free).

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Can you say Scrumptiliumptious?

Oh oh – can you say Scrumptiliumptious?  I’m starting to think the image of a pufferfish might be too dainty for me if I can’t stop baking and indulging in luscious treats warm from the oven. Perhaps I should paste a photo of a big, bloated multi chinned manatee in the kitchen?

For those of you not in the know, I signed up for the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies blog hop where some fabulous food bloggers are posting positively scrumptiliumptious cookie recipes right up until mid December.  Luckily no one had to commit to posting in all 12 weeks or the fact that I don’t have the requisite will power to deny myself tasty treats when the aromas of said treats baking perfume the entire house would demand an entirely upsized wardrobe prior to the holiday season. You can tell I’m not trying to be the next Food Network Star – food writers don’t open their posts with big “Warning”, “Might be too luscious”, large ugly animal photos. But I feel it is only right to alert you to the fact that these cookies are addictive.

There’s no such word as scrumptiliumptious you say?  Well, first try this MAHVELOUS cookieand then tell me there’s no such word.

Short break for a history lesson. Once upon a time there was no internet for home users (gasp, horror, but t’is true). Surfing for recipes wasn’t an option.  Manufacturers of all sorts of food and beverages would make offers – send us a letter and we’ll send you a recipe book. As a munchkin, I liked to help out in the kitchen and I loved getting my own mail. Off these offers for little treasures would go.  I still have some, plus assorted cookware, tourist and other recipe pamphlets. That Seafood one you can see is even from a Boston bank. Been browsing the stash for recipes others may not be posting and found this one.  It’s a keeper.

This week’s recipe is brought to you by Pillsbury, Holiday Classics.

I made only 2 minor changes to the recipe.  I replaced the cherry pie filling with seedless red raspberry jam (I like jam cookies) and, as this sharing was with only other adults not wanting to do the pufferfish/manatee thing (the neighbor munchkins had rampant success in Halloween candy gathering) omitted the icing.  You can see from Pillsbury’s photo above, the icing does make them look just a tad more festive.

The jam was placed in a pan of boiling water and removed from the burner to warm and become more easily spreadable over the dough.  Modern mixer conveniences make creaming the butter, sugar and vanilla until light a simple process.

The resulting dough is a bit stiff and should hold its shape. I wet my hand to more easily press the dough into the pan – you can see my fingerprints, but that’s ok as it will be covered. I had considered making a half recipe, but had a few adults to share with and just went “whole pan”.  It would be very easy to halve this recipe and cook in a 9X9 pan.

I used an offset icing spatula to spread the jam – added a bit more after this photo but not so much that you’d get pockets that would drip on unsuspecting souls. Wet my hands again and pulled bits of dough to drop over the top, then tapped down a bit once I was done.

The kitchen was filled with the heady fragrance of raspberry plus cookie dough.  The cookies were screaming their presence before they were even out of the oven.

These are faster than jam thumbprints and the dough is moist with a wonderful texture.  Next time I might try half the pan jam and half lemon pie filling – two cookies from one baking effort. Recipients of this batch have let me know they’ll happily assist with the dispersal of future batches :-) .

I’d like to give a special call out to Barbara of Barbara Bakes, who, in addition to posting scrumptiliumptious recipes herself, lends a helpful hand to many of us in maneuvering the blog hop.  I’ve mentioned before that for security reasons, WordPress doesn’t allow the script/Javascript commands that allow these to work (and that’s ok with me). 

Special thanks to Krystal over at http://recipesofacheapskate.blogspot.com/ for highlighting this post on her blog. :-)

This post is also participating in the linky parties noted below.

Another 90′s hit

In the 90’s I had a crafts company and I’d do craft shows with table displays (I later decided I preferred making a bit more money working in biz and would keep my crafting for myself, family and friends).  One of the items I’d stumbled across for display is something I continue to use and make as gifts, an earring holder.  You may have seen this elsewhere as friends and crafters have been making them for more than fifteen years that I know of.  But, just in case you haven’t, here’s another so-simple-anyone-can-do-it project that is actually quite useful.  I have one niece who doesn’t have one yet (it’s one of those items that’s so perfect as a gift you run out of friends and family who don’t yet have one) when I craft that I’ll add more pictures.

  1. Frame – you can put your earring holder on a wall or stand it up with a one, hinged two frame or triptych frame setup.
  2. Plain black plastic window screen (or grey or colored pet screen which is a tad pricier) available at any hardware store.
  3. Staple gun
  4. Glue (I’ve used a hot glue gun, might venture into other glues as I move forward)
  5. Ribbon or solid hem tape

I tend to use wood frames that I can paint to my liking – I’m showing you black with gold sprayed over it. Simple but works where it is. The cat is a Faster Plaster mold that I don’t think is made anymore. Such a pity as I still like it – made many Christmas ornaments from it one year. I have mold making compound – might have to make additional molds myself.  But I digress, back to the earring holder.

 

Cut the screen a bit larger all around than your frame – you can trim it once it’s stapled on. Screen is inexpensive enough that you shouldn’t scrimp and end up with a too short end. Staple the screen to the back of the frame as close to the edge of where your glass would sit as you can  (above I’m pointing to that edge with a knitting needle). I staple by following a cross pattern, noted below. You’re stapling around to always pull from the center, keep it taught. More stapling around results in a more durable earring holder. Since you place earrings on and off pretty much daily, don’t just rely on glue. Trim the screen. Hot glue (or other) your choice or ribbon or solid hem tape over the stapled screen edge so the back of your holder looks nice. Ribbon should not be as wide as your frame as you don’t want it to show. Use something like a plastic knife to really press your topping ribbon flat to the stapled screen (remember, hot glue burns fingers). 

If you like, add ornamentation to the frame or pin ornamentation to the screen. Remember that you’ll also have the earrings themselves.  Mine’s on the wall, in easy reach where I hook earrings up and off no problem. For those dressy post earrings I might wear only a few times a year, I take the screen off the wall and place the earring on. You can also use one for pins that you rarely wear.  I’m all about ease – so anything I regularly use I want to hook on and off leaving the frame on the wall. I wouldn’t place pins I regularly wear on it as the reaching the frame and hooking and unhooking the pin is a tad too much effort.

You can create wall groupings by color if you have a huge earring stash, or by pins and earrings on smaller clustered frames.  You can also use double hinged frames to create a display on a dresser or close to wherever you dress. I have one of those “master baths” newer U.S. homes are built with and my jewelry is kept close to my mirror.  Would never have worked in the teeney bath of my previous house – there the earring frame adorned a portion of the bedroom wall.

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