Friday, September 26, 2014

CINNAMON RECIPE COLLECTION

Happy Weekend, Everyone! I don't know about you, but I don't think there is a scent or a taste that reminds me more of fall than cinnamon does. I love that spicy warmth it adds to everything, and I love the aroma that fills the kitchen when you bake with it! There's nothing like it! So if you're looking for something to bake this weekend, here are some cinnamon flavored goodies to inspire you! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Left: These Cinnamon Monkey Bread Muffins (recipe HERE) are a recent favorite, and they are oh-so good! Let me warn you though, they will disappear pretty quickly! Right: These Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling (recipe HERE) are the perfect little fall treat. Soft and chewy oatmeal cookies stuffed with a sweet, cinnamon flavored cream cheese filling?! Delicious!

Both of these cinnamon recipes would make a great weekend breakfast or afternoon snack with a big cup of tea or coffee! The best part? The sugary cinnamon pockets hidden throughout them! Left: Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread (recipe HERE), Right: Cinnamon Coffee Cake (recipe HERE)

Left: These Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins (recipe HERE) are another favorite! Soft donut muffins brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar = pure deliciousness! Right: And for a cinnamon classic, these Cinnamon Rolls (recipe HERE) are always a hit!

And for a cinnamon flavored cozy hot drink, try this decadent Hot Chocolate for Two (recipe HERE) that's the perfect treat for a cold fall day!

Happy Baking, Everyone!
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NO-KNEAD BREAD BOWLS

Hi Everyone! With the fall season also comes soup season, which I am very happy about since I could pretty much eat soup for every meal of the day, every day. At least in the fall. I love baking bread and do so pretty regularly, often using the NY Times No-Knead Bread recipe which is so easy and always very good! It always makes a beautiful loaf of bread that's great to serve with salads, pastas, soups and stews, but can also be used to make something else... soup bread bowls! Because you can hardly find a cozier meal than some steaming hot soup in a big bread bowl. Sure, it's not exactly light on the calories or the carbs, but on those days when you are craving some serious comfort food, it's just what you need!

NO-KNEAD BREAD BOWLS
(Adapted from The NY Times No-Knead Bread Recipe)

YOU WILL NEED
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 5/8 cup water
Cornmeal or extra flour for dusting
Delicious soup to fill the bread bowls with!

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine the all-purpose flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add in the water and stir together until a super sticky dough forms. Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot for 12 - 20 hours. (I usually let mine rise for about 14 hours.)

2. Once the rising time is up, you should have a VERY sticky dough with lots of bubbles all over the surface. It will seem like you won't even be able to work with the dough because it's so wet, but don't worry about that, that's the consistency you are looking for! Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a generously floured surface, divide it half, and form each half into a loaf shape (make sure you cover your hands with flour, because this will be very sticky!) Sprinkle both with more flour and cover with some plastic wrap. Let it rest for about 15 minutes. 

3. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 450 deg F and place your baking dishes in the oven while it preheats. (The no-knead bread is baked in a Dutch oven or a covered casserole dish. I used two 2 quart covered casserole dishes to bake these two bread bowls.) Once the oven is preheated, carefully take the hot baking dishes out and place a loaf in each. Cover with the lid and let bake for about 30 minutes, then take the lid off and bake for about another 15 minutes, or until the loaves are nice and golden on top! Let the loaves cool completely before cutting out the holes on top and hollowing them out to serve your soup in! (*Note: this made two BIG & hearty sized bread bowls, if you want smaller bread bowls, divide the dough into three or four loaves, and adjust baking time so they don't burn!)

 For other variations of the NY Times No-Knead Bread, check out these recipes:

Left: NY Times No-Knead Bread (Recipe HERE), Middle: Pesto No-Knead Bread (Recipe HERE), Right: Whole Wheat No-Knead Bread (Recipe HERE)
Happy Baking, Everyone!
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Monday, September 22, 2014

DIY SWEATER CANDLE COZIES

Hello dear friends! Happy Fall! I am so excited that fall is officially here, and I have a fun little fall-inspired project to share with you! These little candle holders only take a couple of minutes to make and look so pretty with a tea light burning inside! Plus it's a great way to repurpose two things... old candle jars and old sweaters! See, this is why I never throw things away! You just never know when you might need them! Or at least that's what I tell my husband. You could embellish these with ribbon, bows or buttons, or leave them plain like this, either way, they will instantly cozy up your home!

DIY SWEATER CANDLE COZIES
YOU WILL NEED
Small glass jar or cleaned out old candle jar
Old sweater (preferably the sleeve part)
Scissors & Hot Glue Gun
Tea light/candle


DIRECTIONS
First, make sure your jar is clean (if you are re-using an old candle jar and need to clean it out, you can check out my tutorial on how to remove wax from a jar HERE!) then wrap the sweater around it. I used the sleeve part which fit around the small jar perfectly. Roll down the sweater by about an inch at the top of the jar, then cut off the sweater at the bottom of the jar, leaving about a half inch sweater boarder. Using hot glue, stick the sweater boarder you reserved onto the bottom of your jar, making sure there aren't too many bumps and that the surface is as even as possible, so your candle holder doesn't stand unevenly! Then, just place your tea light or candle inside the jar, and you are all done!

For more candle projects and ideas, check out these posts on Shopgirl...

Left: How to remove wax from jars (HERE) Right: Pumpkin Candle Holder Tutorial (HERE)

I'm super excited that my Pumpkin Candle Holders were featured by Better Homes & Gardens! Check it out HERE!
Happy Crafting, Everyone!
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*This project was originally featured on Or So She Says, where I am a monthly contributor. If you're looking for more fun projects and recipes, head on over to the site!

Friday, September 19, 2014

KITCHEN TIP: FREEZING CHEESE FOR EASIER GRATING

Hi Everyone! I have a quick and easy kitchen tip to share with you today, that's all about cheese! Maybe you already do this, but if you don't, you should definitely give this a try because it will make your life so much easier! If you are hand-grating a block of cheese or any kind of soft cheese, place it in your freezer for about 15 - 20 minutes (time depends on how soft the cheese is), or until it feels firm; this will make it much easier to grate! For more kitchen tips, check these out!

Happy Cooking, Everyone!
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SIMPLE CARNATION FLOWER ARRANGEMENT

Hey Everyone! I love having fresh flowers around the house, because they are such a simple and easy way to brighten up a room! You don't necessarily need big, lavish flower arrangements to do this, you can use simple and inexpensive grocery store flowers to create pretty arrangements that will instantly add color and life into your home. Carnations are one of my favorite flowers to use for this. I feel like they are a very underestimated flower that sort of has a bad reputation, but with just a couple simple tricks, you can make beautiful little arrangements with them!

SIMPLE CARNATION FLOWER ARRANGEMENT
SIMPLE AND EASY TIPS

1. Stick to one color. Carnations sort of have this bad reputation of looking cheap, tacky and old fashioned, but you can create clean and elegant arrangements with them if you stick to just one color. Another fun idea is creating three or four different carnation arrangements for your table in ombre shades, and placing them down the center of your dining table for a cool effect! You could also go seasonal with your arrangements... reds or whites for Christmas, oranges for fall...

2. Bunch them together tightly. Flower arrangements look more professional and luxurious the fuller they look. If the arrangement looks sparse it will look incomplete. Instead, bunch the carnations together tightly, almost creating a snowball look. Because the carnations are pretty big flowers and the curly petals give them a look of lots of volume, you don't need very many of them to make a full looking arrangement. I like to place these small bunches (I used about 10 large carnations here) in some clear, low vases that make the arrangement appear even fuller.

3. Make them last even longer. Carnations naturally stay fresh for a very long, which is another advantage when using them in arrangements! To make them last even longer, cut the stems on an angle before placing them in water. If you see that they start wilting a little bit, just cut the stems on an angle again to make them last even longer!



For other fun flower arrangements, check out these ideas:

Left: Repurposed Tea Tin Flower Vase (HERE) Right: Teapot Flower Arrangement (HERE)
Have a great week, Everyone!
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Monday, September 15, 2014

CINNAMON MONKEY BREAD MUFFINS

Hello Everyone! I almost don't want to say it because I don't want to speak too soon, but I think fall may have arrived! I wore a sweater for the first time in months this weekend, we had the windows wide open and actually got cold at night, and it rained most of the day on Saturday... could it really be that fall is finally here?! It was the perfect backdrop for some baking this weekend, and these little Cinnamon Monkey Bread Muffins were so good that they disappeared pretty quickly (don't worry, I only made half a batch!) so I wanted to stop by and share them with you! They couldn't be easier to make; I used the same recipe that I use for my cinnamon rolls (you can find it below) and then coated the small dough balls in (a little bit of) butter and a cinnamon sugar mixture... what could be better!

CINNAMON MONKEY BREAD MUFFINS
(Makes about 16 muffins)

YOU WILL NEED
Your favorite cinnamon roll recipe (find mine HERE)
3 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon



DIRECTIONS
1. First, make your dough and let it rise for at least an hour, or until it has doubled in size. Either use your favorite cinnamon roll dough recipe, or you can use mine, which you can find HERE. Once your dough has risen and is ready for you to use, punch it down and take it out of the bowl that you had it rising in.

2. Preheat your oven to 350 deg F and line your muffin tin with paper liners, or grease it lightly. Make a small assembly line on your kitchen counter by placing your melted butter in a bowl, and stirring together the brown sugar and ground cinnamon in another bowl. Then, start making small balls out of your dough (about an inch in size), covering them in the melted butter, then coating them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.


3. Place about 6 - 7 of them (depending on the size of them) in each muffin liner, then bake for about 16 - 18 minutes, until they are golden and puffed up and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, but are still soft on the inside! Let cool for at least 10 minutes. You can drizzle them with the classic cinnamon roll glaze if you like, I just like to leave them plain since they are pretty sweet already!

 And for another recipe involving cinnamon sugar (and some butter!) try THESE Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins!
Happy Baking, Everyone!
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

REPURPOSED TEA TIN FLOWER VASES

Hi Everyone! I hope you are all having a good weekend so far! My countdown until the official start of fall continues... only a week left! Today is the first cool day in a long time, and I actually found myself feeling cold for the first time in months! I almost forgot what that feeling is! It's been the perfect (almost) fall day... cold, rainy weather, a soft sweatshirt, fall baking involving lots of cinnamon (more about that soon!), watching Jane Eyre (one of my favorites!), all with a teapot full of English Breakfast Tea! Perfect. And speaking of tea, I have a sweet little idea to share with you today, involving old tea tins! This is another one of my "this is why I never throw anything away because you never know when you'll need it" crafts! An arrangement of two or three pretty tea tins filled with different flowers would be so pretty on a kitchen window sill or on your desk to brighten up your day!


This little project really doesn't need any instructions, you can either simply fill the tin with water and arrange your flowers inside it, or place a small vase (that won't be visible) inside the tin and fill that with water and arrange the flowers in it, just to prevent any leaks. I used an old Royal Wedding Tea tin, which is my all time favorite tea. It was created for the royal wedding in 2011, and it smells like almonds, coconut and rose petals... so delicious! An arrangement of a couple different sized tins filled with different flower arrangements would be so pretty, I love the sweet, casual look of these!


Happy Weekend, Everyone!
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