Tag Archives: christmas

Holiday DIY: Gold Leaf Pine Cones

So, I got this idea off of pinterest. I was looking at holiday craft projects and realized that I had been limiting my universe to glitter in the past, and that GOLD LEAF is amazing and I should put it on everything.  I mean, how could you not?gold leaf pine cone centerpieceTechnically, when you’re using gold or silver leaf, you’re supposed to use a special adhesive that is made by the same brand as the gold leaf, but I didn’t have any so I just used Mod Podge.  I bet you could use Elmer’s glue if you wanted and it wouldn’t matter.

Materials:

  • a few pine cones
  • gold leaf (FYI: not real gold leaf, that would cost a million dollars. Fake gold leaf is made of other metals and is much cheaper, about $10 for a big pack. You only need a few sheets for this project, depending on how many pine cones you do)
  • craft glue or gold leaf sizing
  • spray varnish or gold leaf sealer spray

The method is simple:

Paint the outer tips of the pine cones with a thin layer of glue.  Gently place the sheet of gold leaf over the pine cone and it will stick to the glue.  You may have to use a dry paint brush to gently ease the gold leaf onto all of the glued spots.  pine cones step 1Now, wait for the paint to dry.  Use the dry paint brush to brush away all of the excess gold leaf. Take the pine cones outside and spray them with varnish or gold leaf sealer.  You’re supposed to use the gold leaf sealer, but I already had a can of spray varnish for oil paintings which worked just fine. pine cones step 2Once they’re dry, bring them inside and use them for whatever decorating needs you might have.  I originally saw them used as garlands, but I decided that we needed a centerpiece instead, so I put them in a pottery bowl with some fir branches.  gold leaf pine cones DIYI think the finished product looks cute and festive, right? (But really just an excuse to bring more metallics into your life.)

Happy Holidays!

Chocolate Jam Thumbprint Cookies

I made cookies!

I’m a horrible baker. I can’t follow a recipe for the life of me, and I don’t own a timer. Simple instructions like “bake for 7-9 minutes” are virtually impossible for me to complete.  I never preheat the oven long enough, and I always decide to change an ingredient part way through and end up ruining the recipe.  I don’t know why.  I like making soups, stews, roasts and braises where the instructions are more along the lines of “put in as many carrots as you want, and if there are other vegetables that make you have warm fuzzy feelings, put those in too.”

Shockingly enough, I figured it out this time.  This is an adaptation of one of my favorite cookies that my mom makes every year.  It’s the same chocolate butter cookie dough, but her version tops each cookie with a half of one of those bright red candied cherries.  They’re delicious, and I love those cherries, Red #5 be damned.  I have about four hundred half-used jars of jam in my fridge, though, so I thought it might be nice to turn them into jam thumbprint cookies.

I’m giving myself an extra pat on the back for making these even though my kitchen aid mixer is fried right now.  I felt like a pilgrim actually creaming together butter and sugar using good old-fashioned elbow grease.  It was horrible, and I hope I can fix the mixer soon and go back to flipping a switch. The chocolate butter dough is so rich and delicious, and far superior to all of the usual thumbprint cookies floating around out there, if I do say so myself.  When I decided to post this recipe, I called up my mom and asked her where she originally found it.  She dug out the original clipping from the closet, and I’m proud to say that it was from a Land O’Lakes ad in a Sunset Magazine.  This recipe here looks pretty much the same, but has slightly different measurements. Chocolate Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Makes: 20-36 1″ balls, depending how good you are at measuring

Cook Time: 25 min.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks of softened butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. raspberry jam or orange marmalade (I wanted to use marmalade but I also wanted to use up the raspberry jam. I think that marmalade would be even better).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (doing it by hand blows, don’t do it unless you have to).  Add in the egg yolk and keep mixing on medium speed.  Slowly add in the flour and cocoa powder.  Mix until everything is combined and the dough comes together.  Form into one inch balls and arrange on a greased cookie sheet.  Use your thumb to make a small indentation on each of the cookies.  Bake for 4 minutes. Remove the  tray of cookies from the oven and put a small dollop of jam or marmalade in each of the indentations (not too much or it will melt all over the place and burn). Cook for about 4 more minutes.  Be careful not to overcook them; they should be slightly moist and fudgy in the middle, not crunchy and dry like some of mine.

My cookies also look like a kindergartener made them.  My mom’s always look all perfect and smooth, and mine are lopsided and cracked.  I’m confident that these flaws are because of my lack of skill at baking, and not because there’s any problems with the recipe.

Happy Holidays!

P.S. Making eggs for breakfast when there’s perfectly good cookies sitting right out on the counter would just be . . . wasteful.

Because The Holiday Season Means Drinking Booze At Inappropriate Times Of The Day

I’m going to disguise this post as a way to use up your mint jelly. Isn’t that one of those jars that ends up sitting in the fridge for ages, after you had one roast leg of lamb back in April, and now you have 3/4 of a jar left, still just sitting there, looking kind of sad and unappealing? That’s how it is at our house.

So. This isn’t about putting Jack Daniels in your coffee at 8 a.m., it’s about cleaning out the fridge.

I swear.Cleaning out the pantry, too…  That bottle of creme de cacao that I bought back in May, when the strawberries were starting to come in, to make chocolate-strawberry jam? I used about half a cup of it and the rest is just sitting there in the pantry, looking neglected and lonely.

This is what you should do with all that stuff.

No, Honey, This is Special Coffee For Grownups

Makes: 1 cocktail

Cook Time: 2 minutes longer than however long it takes to make a batch of coffee

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 c. freshly brewed coffee
  • anywhere between a splash and an ounce of whiskey, depending on how serious you are
  • 1/2 ounce of baileys
  • 1/2 ounce of creme de cacao*
  • 1 tbs. mint jelly
  • 1/4 c. whipped cream
  • 1 peppermint puff candy
  • optional: cream and sugar, to taste, depending on how sweet you like your coffee

Once the coffee is finished brewing, heat up 1 c. in a small saucepan and stir in the mint jelly.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes to melt the jelly into the coffee.  In a coffee cup, measure out the whiskey and the creme de cacao.  Pour in the hot coffee and stir everything well.  Add a pinch of sugar and some cream if you like.  Pour the Bailey’s in last, and top with whipped cream.  Crush a peppermint puff candy by placing the flat part of a chef’s knife on top of the candy with the base of your palm.  Sprinkle the crushed candy on top of the whipped cream.

Drink up!

*This makes a pretty boozy cup of coffee. If you want something a little less knock-your-socks-off, substitute chocolate syrup or some cocoa powder instead of the chocolate liqueur.

 

P.S.

This recipe is all about fun things to put in your coffee and then more fun things to put on your coffee. If you happen to have any of these things lying around, they’re all pretty good ideas, (but not necessarily all at the same time, of course):

In:

  • egg nog (especially the soy stuff!) & rum
  • amaretto
  • other flavors of jelly or jam, like raspberry or apricot, especially with coordinating liqueurs
  • extracts like vanilla or hazelnut

On:

  • crushed candy canes
  • a very small scoop of peppermint, chocolate, coffee or vanilla ice cream either instead of or in addition to the whipped cream
  • a drizzle of hot caramel or fudge
  • chocolate shavings

Dang That’s Festive

I didn’t realize that making homemade snow globes out of mason jars and glitter was a thing until just a few weeks ago, when I starting see it all over the internet.  Do you think that parents everywhere know about this craft project, but choose not to do it with their children because of the copious amounts of glitter involved?

Or was it just my parents?

I remember my parents telling me, as a five-year old child, “DO NOT WIPE UP GLITTER WITH A WET SPONGE.  IT WILL JUST STICK RIGHT IN THE TABLE.” I’m pretty sure I did it anyway, so that then I had to use my fingernails to pick every single piece of sparkle off of the wooden kitchen table.  Now that I’m a grown woman and can use glitter whenever I feel like it, I had to make this awesome craft project.

Homemade Snow Globes

time: 20 minutes

materials:

  • old mason jars with good, tight fitting lids
  • glitter: I used this great retro-flake glitter made by Martha Stewart
  • assorted figurines, plastic pine trees, small ornaments, etc. (go raid the craft store, it will be awesome)
  • super glue

Make sure the lids are clean and dry.  Use super glue to attach whatever festive stuff you have lying around to the underside of the lid.  Obviously, whatever you glue should be able to get wet and not get ruined, so it will probably be made of plastic.  Once you have your items glued on, give them plenty of time to dry (I waited five minutes).

Put some glitter in the bottom of a mason jar.  You don’t need a lot- I thought I’d make a snowstorm and dumped in a ton of glitter on my first try, but it just looked stupid.  Go easy on the glitter.  Fill the jar mostly full of water.  Brush the lid lightly with some super glue around the red part that usually creates the seal.  Screw on the lid. (Do this part over the sink, or somewhere you don’t mind potentially spilling a bit of glitter-water).

Let the jars sit for a minute so the glue can dry.  Then you can turn them over and do the snow globe thing.

A word of caution: My mother did instill a fear of glitter in me.  I’m keeping a close eye on these to watch for dripping/seepage, because I intensely don’t want to clean up several quarts of glitter water off my cookbook shelf.