Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Show Me Some Love {Part Two of the Fun!}

"Roses are Red" Valentine Wreath

I just love the fun wreaths that are floating around out there. And I love even more to see one of those cuties hanging on my front door! This is one I saw a few years ago and I actually put it together last year.  Although I do not have many photos, I will do some step by step instructions to help you out.


*Styrofoam wreath  I believe mine is 14 inches

* A plethora of felt  (red, pink, white)
("Would you say I have a plethora?")..." anyone know that line? ("Anyone?, Bueller...Bueller?")  Ha, I crack myself up! I think I purchased 10 sheets of each

*glue gun, glue

*good fabricutting scissors

 *a good movie

This wreath is not difficult at all which means you can put it together while you are watching all your favorite shows (Sherlock, Downton Abbey).

Step 1: cut each sheet into four to six sections (rectangles), depending on how big you want your roses.

 Step two: cut each rectangle in a circular motion, beginning with the outside and working your way to the center. As you can see they do not need to be perfect, though I did round the edges a bit.
Step 3: Wrap the felt in a circular motion, beginning in the center and working your way out to make your roses.  They will for the most part stay together so if you want to do a few at a time before gluing them on go for it. 

 Step 4: Assemble your wreath by gluing your roses on in whatever pattern you wish. Then when you are finished either glue a piece of ribbon to the back as a hook or you can wrap material like I have done and tie it off. 

 Have a Happy Valentine's Day!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Show Me Some Love {Part One of the Fun!}


When Pottery Barn came out with their cute Valentine envelopes that hung on chairs I said, "I need those!". Then I looked at the price, and... yikes!! So, a sister of mine took on the task of making the envelopes while I fell in love with the heart idea.  So fun, right? Creating this craft using either method results in you getting something super easy and cute. I made one for each member of our family so during the month of February they can expect to find a card or sweet treat each day reminding them of how much they are loved! It's also an added bonus for people like Heather and I who just don't have enough Valentine's Day decor...this adds to the holiday making it more festive!

You will see that I sewed mine,I know how to sew, however, it is not necessary! Glue works great and looks just as good!

Here's what you need:
*Felt, both soft and the sturdier sheet.  The sturdier felt is about 12X16 inches. Both are found at the craft store right next to each other. 
*Glue gun or sewing machine
*White writing pen, paint, or embossing thread (for names)
*Ribbon for tying, and ric rac for trim

 Step 1: Make a heart or envelope shaped template.  I used card stock and the good old trick I learned in grade school, fold the paper in half, draw an "ice cream cone" shape along the crease and cut away.  This worked great and this way you can choose the size you want based on the size of your chairs.

Step 2: Use your heart template to make another template, only this time cut the top half of the heart off.  This is going to be used to make the pouch for all the goodies.

Step 3: Use your heart template to cut 2 hearts, 1 of the soft felt and one of the sturdier.

Step 4:  Use your half heart template to cut 2 half hearts, 1 of the soft and one of the sturdy.

Step 5: Write, paint or embroider names on your soft felt half hearts.  An easy way to do this is to go to your computer, choose a font and size  you like and type all the names out on paper first. Then, place the paper with the typed name behind the piece of  soft felt and hold it up against a window.  The name will show through and you can trace it on the felt using a marker to better help you paint, write, or embroider. (They have these great disappearing markers at the craft store that I use for quilting. The ink just disappears after so many hours.  Its awesome)

Step 6: Start assembling, Glue or sew the two half heart together with a piece of ric rac between the two. Then determine where you are going to place your ribbon.
(My chairs have no wooden bars going across the back. If yours do, feel free to insert your ribbon at the top and bottom or just at the top if you like.) Using a straight pin, secure the ribbon just until you are ready to glue or sew it.  Then begin to glue or stitch the ric rac between the full hearts and then glue and secure the ribbon.  (The pictures are better at explaining this than I am!!!) 

Step 7: Glue your half heart sandwich onto the full heart, leaving the top open for the pouch. 

Extra: I use a lighter on stray threads, ric rac, and ribbon to keep them from fraying.  To do this simply bring the flame close enough to only melt the strays away.  The flame will not touch the fabric but the heat from the flame will do the work.  If you are nervous about this you can always use the fun stuff they sell at the craft store to accomplish this same goal. 

Now all that's left is to tie them to your chairs and fill them with love.

Happy crafting!!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Homemade Valentines

We are big fans over here of making our own valentines. I know, I know, it takes a lot longer, but I feel like it is away to get the kids involved more than just writing their name on a card. Not to say that we have not done that too some years, but if we have the time, we love making them.

Last year, we made these cute little flower lollipop valentines that were a lot of work to cut out, but really cute and fun! This year we are making minion valentines for school. Can you say ADORABLE? The kids absolutely loved the design and they weren't that hard to make (we already started!). My daughter has a birthday this month, so along with the minion ones, we also made some cute rice krispie ones for her birthday party. They are adorable, and once again, easy enough for the kids to do mostly on their own!

Interested in trying them out? Check out my post on Little Lake County in my monthly column over there: Kids in the Kitchen with Girl and Her Kitchen. They are easy and fun and sure to make for some fun family time!

Also...did you know that Girl and Her Kitchen is on PINTEREST? Follow us HERE now!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Decadent Chocolate Pudding {Perfect for Valentine's Day!}

It is funny to think about a time in my life where I actually did not care for chocolate.

I know you probably don't believe me, but it's true!

I liked it, but I didn't really crave it. That was a really long time ago. Now, even the thought of chocolate sends me tearing up my pantry looking for a small square of it. I am a dark chocolate fan, I know the chocolate wars get pretty intense over the milk versus dark, but I am a die hard dark chocolate fan. I guess you can add white chocolate in there (NOT a fan), but let's face it, we all know it isn't really chocolate, so let's stop fooling ourselves.

This pudding is made up of the richest, most decadent chocolate flavor you can get without biting directly into a bar of chocolate. It is swirled into the creamiest of pudding recipes and far better than the boxed stuff you can buy at the store that's made mostly of chemical flavors! This says homemade all the way, but it is actually easier than you may  think! I made dinner for a few friends this week and whipped this up in no time for them. I even had time to make some fresh whipped cream, which is a must I might add.

I found this recipe in one of my older cookbooks (did I mention I collect them?), and this recipe was written a long time ago. Of course, that immediately tipped me off that it would be delicious...wasn't everything made better a long  time ago? I tweaked it just a bit, and the result was this delicious pudding that I could call my own.  This is a perfect treat for Valentine's Day, a special occasion, or just a fun family dessert.

I would like to lie to you to tell you that you won't want to make this again and again, but I just cannot do it.

It is simply that addictive.

Decadent Chocolate Pudding

3 tblsp cocoa powder
3 tblsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whipping cream
3 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, corn starch and salt. Pour the cream in slowly, whisking until nice and smooth. Whisk the eggs into the mixture one at a time. In a 3 quart saucepan, add the milk and sugar and heat, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved. Heat to a simmer and watch carefully! Do not let the milk boil over. Pour a cup of the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cream, cocoa and cornstarch mixture. Whisk. Repeat with a second cup and whisk very quickly. Continue with one more cup, repeating the quick whisking process. Carefully pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Warm over medium heat until it comes to a full boil ...once again, carefully making sure it does not boil over. Once it is boiling, start your timer for 2 1/2 minutes and whisk vigorously. Make sure you are careful not to splash the hot mixture out of the pot. Scrape the bottom while whisking. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and chocolate. Stir gently until chocolate is completely melted. Spread into a storage container, cover the top with plastic wrap to act as the pudding "skin" so one does not form. Cover, chill for 3 hours or longer. Serve chilled with fresh whipped cream. Store in the fridge, and eat within 3 days...if it lasts that long!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies {Perfect for a Valentine's Day Treat!}

We are so lucky to have an awesome gluten free guest blogger! Welcome back Amy, who is bringing us more of her delicious gluten free treats! 

The idea of chocolate chip cookies and cookie pops started as a simple request from my husband for cookies.  Well, not really cookies, but the cookie dough, for him to eat straight out of the bowl.  He’s asked me for his own personal bowl of dough before, since he usually sneaks several bites of mine while I’m making the actual cookies, and I continually shoo him away, reminding him that he cannot double dip!  So I set off to make one of the recipes you can find on Pinterest for ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip’.  The word ‘dip’ should have been my first clue that it wasn’t going to be a salmonella-free version of the traditional cookie dough.  Alas, the dip was more like a frosting and we decided it would be pretty good on brownies or maybe even the chocolate chip cookies themselves.
Deciding that cookies were finally going to be made and any experimenting with safely edible cookie dough would have to wait, I headed downstairs to round up my ingredients (As a side note, I keep my gluten free flours in labeled containers in a small freezer chest.  The stay fresher longer, especially the brown rice flour, which can go rancid quickly if left at room temperature).  As I found my cookie sheet, I saw my heart-shaped Wilton cookie pop mold peeking out from under my baking towels. Yes! I had completely forgotten I bought this at our local Goodwill last fall, and now seemed like the perfect time to give this a try.
Gluten free chocolate chip cookies are one of the easiest recipes to convert yet one of the hardest cookies to perfect.  Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies and everyone has a particular taste they associate with them, which is very, very hard to recreate in a gluten free version.  Most gluten free chocolate chip cookies you will find will have a gritty texture to them, mainly from the type of gluten free flour that is used.  Some will have a more bland taste than you might remember from the wheat version, and some may have an odder shape to them - either really small and puffy or really large and flat.  Like most of cooking or baking, getting to the gluten free chocolate chip cookie that you really like is a process of trial and error.  But at least you can eat most of what you experiment with!
Below is the gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe I use.  It’s a slight modification of the original Toll House version that we all know and love.  I used softened coconut oil for the shortening and a blended mix of gluten free flours, including Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour.  That particular flour is a little more difficult to find and more expensive than a Bobs Red Mill pack at Target (check Amazon and watch for free shipping!), but well worth it.
Oh – the edible cookie dough recipe!  Just skip the eggs, add a little more butter, reduce the flour by ¼ C and omit the leavening ingredients.  It actually looks and tastes like a chocolate chip cookie dough pie crust…an idea for another recipe!

Chocolate Chip Cookies -  Gluten Free!

½ cup coconut oil, softened (or shortening)                             
½ cup butter, softened                                                                      
¾ cup brown sugar                                                                               
¾ cup sugar                                                                                             
2 eggs                                                                                                   
2 tsp vanilla                                                                                             
2 1/4 cup brown rice flour blend
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

1.       Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease a large cookie sheet or cookie pop tin with coconut oil or shortening.
2.       Cream coconut oil (or shortening), butter, sugar and brown sugar together in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix well. In a separate, medium bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop dough onto cookie sheet by  tablespoon and place them about 2" apart on the cookie sheet. If using a cookie pop tin, drop about a tablespoon of dough into mold and press in to form. Insert cookie pop stick and cover with an additional tablespoon of dough into mold and press in to form. Insert cookie pop stick and cover with an additional tablespoon of dough. Bake in oven for 9-11 minutes for  cookies, 13-15 minutes for cookie pops. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet approximately two minutes, remove from the pan and place on a cooling rack. For cookie pops, allow cookies to cool almost completely in the tin, letting the cookie stick set in place. Gently remove cookies from tin using a rubber scraper. Store cookies in an air tight container for up to three days.