Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy 2012!

Sorry I haven't been around the past few days. I'll be back and posting *real* blogs after the new year... unless I get REALLY bored tomorrow. Have a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration, everyone, and stay safe! See you in 2012!



(No, I didn't draw this... just saw it online. ;) ) 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Perfect BAKED Recipe for Non-Edible Gingerbread Ornaments

So, since I've fairly successfully cleaned the house today, as I promised Love, and still find myself with some extra time (even though I SHOULD be sorting beads from one of my more temporary Christmas projects, which has, at last, come to an end), I thought I'd let you in on how to make my version of gingerbread Christmas tree ornaments. :) In fact, it's such an exciting prospect that my tree is literally sparkling with anticipation. (Not really. Actually, it's just plugged into a wall, but one can dream.)

Anyway, as aforementioned, I looked all over for a "just-right" recipe for "cinnamon Christmas ornaments," but ended up putting one together myself, based off of others I'd found. Now, I want you to know that this IS safe, even though I myself wasn't so sure about it at first, and if you are worried about fumes from the glue lingering inside your oven, by all means, leave the oven's fan on for a while after you're done making these, and leave plenty of room for the kitchen to air out.

The fun thing about these is that they don't have to be just for Christmas--can you imagine these (without the extra spices alongside the cinnamon, of course) cut into hearts and decorated in red for Valentine's Day? I sure can... and if I hadn't reached my patience-for-cinnamon ornament-making quota already (they're easy; I'm just impatient), I'd definitely be considering making more for THAT holiday!

In any case, whatever you decide to make these for, and whichever cutters you decide to use, have a wonderful time, and here's the recipe:


1 cup white school glue
1 cup PLAIN, unsweetened applesauce
2 cups powdered cinnamon
2 tbsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. powdered clove
1 tsp. powdered nutmeg

Combine the above, adding more cinnamon powder if you want the mixture to be "doughier," and adding more applesauce if you think it's too dry. The consistency is, for the most part, adjustable to what you'd like to work with, since they will dry completely in the end, if they're of any consistency which can be cut with cookie cutters. Remember to work quickly with this, and save any unused portions for later by wrapping them airtightly (is that a word? My spell check doesn't think so) in plastic wrap.

To roll these for cutting and not ruin your rolling pin, sandwich the dough in between two large pieces of waxed or parchment paper. Roll the dough flat with the rolling pin on top of this paper-dough-paper sandwich. This way, the glue won't get stuck to the rolling pin, not to mention saving clean-up time!

Use whichever cutters you'd like to shape the cookies, and transfer them onto a parchment-covered baking sheet. Don't forget to poke holes in the top of each ornament so you can hang them later!

When you are ready to bake, put them in the oven for anywhere from a half an hour to two hours at 93 C or 200 F. Obviously, you will need to keep an eye on these until you know how long to leave your particular mixture and thickness of "cookie" in your particular oven. Since you can't poke a hole in them to see when they're done, and this is more of a dehydration process than a baking process anyway, the best way to tell is to feel it with your finger--but quickly, so you don't burn yourself! If it feels done, but still a tiny bit moist or bouncy, that means that they're done. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool. Then flip them over and let them sit for about 24 hours. After that, you can decorate them however you like, and hang them anywhere for a wonderful fragrance.

Check out two of mine (the star and the moose) on my Black Forest-themed tree! I used traditionally-shaped cookie cutters, as well as a woodland creature cookie cutter set that I got from Ikea. See? The options are endless!

 I hope you enjoy, and what about you? Have you ever made these before, or just wanted to? What shapes will YOU cut out next? 

"Leftover Fruitcake Ingredients" Muffins

 (Wait! Don't go! I will apologize for the 90's vibe of my muffin photo later! Please stay for the recipe. :) )

So today I made a new recipe--I do that from time to time. This time, I was in the mood for something vaguely healthy, unlike the cookies and bonbons I've been preparing since Thanksgiving went along its merry way. However, I didn't have all the ingredients for the specific recipe I wanted to make, so instead, I improvised with all my leftover fruitcake ingredients. (Don't judge me. I didn't KNOW that I had to make a fruitcake months in advance of its eat-date! We will just have it for St. Patrick's Day, instead.)

Without further ado, here is my first-ever trial-run of the "Leftover Fruitcake Ingredients" Muffins:


1 egg
1 unsweetened personal-sized yogurt (I typically use Greek, but since all I had was a regular one of Love's, into the mixing bowl it went. Sorry, Love, but you weren't eating it anyway.)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup milk, oat milk, or soy milk
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. brandy (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
5 chopped dates
tbsp. dried blueberries (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup slivered almonds
tsp. citrus zest (I used lime because it's what I had on hand.)
1/3 cup golden raisins; increase this to 1/2 cup if you don't add the dried blueberries.


Get ready, get set, go! For me, this included taking more photos of my new toy. :-P

Combine the egg, yogurt, olive oil, milk, brown sugar, and brandy.

Mix it up. (I couldn't resist the action shot.)


Add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Since these things tend to go up in a cloud when mixed, I first worked them in a bit with the little spatula my new mixer came with.Go ahead and mix it up as well. Then add the oats, and mix that, too.

Once it's become batter, add the chopped dates, dried blueberries, walnuts, almonds, zest, and raisins. I mixed mine in by hand and then turned on the mixer for just a second, because it's been ages since I used one, and I was being overprotective and silly, and didn't want to break mine on the first use.

Once all is combined, scoop the batter into muffin tins, lined with muffin papers--but not as much batter as is seen in each muffin cup in the photo below, unless you want a mess. This gets very sticky, and if you don't use the papers, trust me. It WILL be a huge mess. This mixture makes approximately 16-18 muffins. Bake them at 205 C or 400 F for approximately 10 minutes...

...and voila! warm, moist, fluffy, fruity and nutty muffins, made with things that you needed to get out of the house, anyway! ;)

Now, I'm not yet very good at muffin glamour shots, so please forgive me for that, and especially the 90's portrait shot seen at the beginning of the post. The photos will get better! I promise! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the muffins!

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Christmas 2011 Top 5

Hello, blogging world! Honestly, I haven't been so sure on what to write about for my first post--I have a sneaking suspicion that, unfortunately, it won't be so monumental. I wanted to get started on this last week, because I had a ton of baking and crafting projects for Christmas, but you know how it goes.

Since I missed blogging for Christmas, I suppose I could go at it the retroactive way; it IS only Boxing Day, after all. ;) So, without further ado, I present to you my top 5 activities-worth-mentioning from Christmas 2011!


I actually made these for my pseudo-Thanksgiving, back in the "Fall" (I put quotes because, where I live, there are two seasons--Scorching and Slight Drizzles of Rain), but I added loops at the top to add to my tree, which I've been trying (successfully? Unsuccessfully? I don't really know) to give a Black Forest sort of theme. The thought-process was that I couldn't find real pinecones anywhere; it's not like Christmas trees naturally grow in the desert! I ended up making only a few of these, but they worked wonderfully for both late "Fall" and for Christmas. I will definitely be making more next year!

I got the tutorial over at Salt Tree. 


Now, I am not, by any means, of Swedish decent, and with recipes, I usually prefer to either stick to family recipes or create my own. However, when I came across this incredibly old recipe, meant to make literally hundreds of cookies (I cut the recipe in half), I couldn't resist.

It's been a while, so even though I did quite a bit of searching, I couldn't find my recipe source online. :( I'll be sure to post it some other time--sooner rather than later if there's enough interest. Let me know! :)


Like I mentioned in this blog in other places, I come from someplace that could, essentially, double as the North Pole, but I'm currently located in a desert. No snow for me here! Of course, I'm not a huge fan of being cold, but in my experience, there's nothing quite like a Christmas with plenty of snow--even if it's the handmade variety. ;) I decided to up my blizzard's ante this year, and ended up cutting out a TON of paper snowflakes, and hanging them from the ceiling in my little apartment's entryway. Trust me; these took a LOT of time!


I know you see these things everywhere, but in honor of my attempts to create a pretty traditional Christmas, not to mention (like I said before) a Black Forest-esque tree, I thought making a batch was in order. I made several to send to various friends, with whom I was engaged in a homemade-ornament swap, and of course I made some for myself. I decorated them with puffy paint to make them look more like the real thing.

I actually improvised on a recipe for these little guys, because I couldn't find one on the internet that I liked. As with the *real* gingerbread, I'll post the recipe after a while. The world could, after all, use my recipe--one that involves both baking AND glue (yes, it's completely safe)! Also, in case you are wondering, I used woodland creature cookie cutters from Ikea.


Of course, with all the above, it must be obvious that my Love understands that, well, I make things. I have to say, he is the BEST, because what did Mr. Santa Claus get me for Christmas? Well, among other things (including a new dance bag; possibly more on that later), he got me a mini sewing machine and a full-sized stand mixer--with a top that comes off to become a regular blender, if need be! I'm in love--with Love, of course, but also with my new prezzies! This shows how spoilt I am. ;)

If you are interested, the stand mixer is from Morphy Richards, and the mini sewing machine is from Jolly. :)

Of course, the presents above guarantee that, even though I'm fairly crafted-and-baked/cooked-out from Christmas, I won't stop because I want to try my new toys! Also, we still have New Year's Eve/Day to look forward to (I was brought up in a classy sort of way that honored the occasion on the "Day" rather than the "Eve), not to mention Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. However, that's enough from me for now; I hope you had a fabulously merry Christmas, as well as a laid-back Boxing Day. ;)