September 10, 2013

Candy Corn Wreath

I'm officially a wreath convert.  I watched my friends make wreaths at our previous Pinterest parties, nodded, and went about my mixture of pin wins and pinstrosities without excessive crafting envy.  Granted, Sarah makes a MEAN wreath, but in pretty much all things crafty she puts me to shame so I don't kid myself that I could pull of one of her wreaths.  This time, however, I found one that was that perfect fit of awesome looking and yet at my skill level.  Thanks to The House of Smiths for this keeper!

I did need more fabric than the post called for (maybe because I used broadcloth, not canvas fabric?), so a quick JoAnne's Fabric run later and I was back in business.  I also tried to give some pics to show how I fluffed out my fabric, manipulating it a bit differently from the original post as well.

Look how nice!


  • 13-inch foam wreath
  • 1/2 yard of plain muslin, cut into 3-inch wide strips
  • 1 1/2 yards white broadcloth, cut into 4-inch squares
  • 1 1/2 yards yellow broadcloth, cut into 4-inch squares
  • 1 1/2 yards orange broadcloth, cut into 4-inch squares
  • Pack of ~800 small straight pins (like these)
  • Black ribbon
(pictures follow)
  1. Wrap muslin strips closely around foam wreath, pinning into place at the beginning and end of each strip.  This will provide a uniform background for your fabric squares.
  2. Cut your fabric into 4" squares.  They don't all have to be perfectly 4" so don't make yourself crazy with exact measurements here.  It's also okay if your fabric frays a bit on the edges- this craft is all about the rumpled/wavy look.
  3. Portion off your wreath before you get a bit too "can't see the forest for the trees", trying to evenly divide the top, middle, and bottom portions for your different colors.  Maybe colored string would help?  Chalk?  I ended up pulling pins and rearranging at the later stages to get my colors more even.
  4. Fold each colored square in half, and then in half again.  Fan out slightly, and pin the folded corner to the wreath.  Fluff out the square a bit, and repeat times A LOT.  :)  Be prepared for a few hours of effort, here.  And use up that fabric!  Make it nice and full!
  5. When wreath is filled in, time to top it off!  Cut a long strip of black ribbon, and tie a neat bow.  Use a straight pin to attach to wreath (or hot glue).  I also cut a loop of fabric and used a few pins to attach it to the back of the wreath for hanging.  It's holding strong.
  6. Talk about how impressed you are with yourself until you get hoarse.  You've earned it.

And the helpful pics to walk you through this.

4" square.

Fold in half.

Fold in half again, and fan out.

Pin in the folded corner.  See that teeny tiny pin?

Pin to the wreath.

Put fingers into the curved/folded parts of your square, and fluff out.

Give it a nice wiggle and twist till you're happy.

Ta da!  Now I need to go fluff the other squares around it.  Sigh.  ;)

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Can we talk about some crazy good pumpkiny goodness?  I've been dying to make this recipe since October 13, 2013.  I can say that because it's from last year's Food Network page-a-day calendar.  This stupid recipe makes 18 mini cheesecakes, which is the exact wrong amount.  Too much to make just to have at home, and too little to make for the office.  SURE I could just double the recipe and take it to work, but my brain doesn't always work that way.  It has rules, like wanting the recipe to be just right as it is without having to double or halve things.  This is why it took me a year to make it.
Anyway, quantity issues aside, this is some seriously good stuff.  The gingersnap crust is so perfectly perfect I can't handle it, and don't let the sour cream topping scare you.  It's just right.  Enjoy.


  • 18 gingersnap cookies
  • 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 15-oz can pure pumpkin puree (Watch out- many canned "pumpkin" purees are actually butternut squash.  GASP.  This horror was shared at last weekend's Pinterest Party I made these for. The horror.  Check your label.)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 300°.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.  Place 1 whole gingersnap in the bottom of each lined cup.  Set tins aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixture set to medium-high and using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Scrape down the sides, reduce the speed to low, and beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.  Beat in 1/3 cup sour cream and the heavy cream.  Stir in the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice by hand until the batter is smooth.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the cookie-lined paper cups, filling almost to the top.
  5. Bake until the filling is just set, 40-50 minutes (mine took longer).  A sharp knife inserted into the center will come out moist, but clean.
  6. Top each cheesecake with about 1 tablespoon of the remaining sour cream, and gently spread with a spoon.  This can be a bit tricky when the sour cream is cold and the cheesecakes warm.  Just a heads up.
  7. Cool completely in tins on a wire rack.  Then refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours or overnight.  Top with a dusting of pumpkin pie spice.
Well hello, you handsome yummy devil.

September 8, 2013

Mom's Snickerdoodles

These snickerdoodles have been a staple in my mom's Christmas cookie rotation since I was a little kid, and probably for years before I was born.  I wasn't feeling well last week, and had a random craving for these super soft, fluffy cookies.  I included them in the mega cookie gift basket I made last Christmas, but didn't write out the recipe at the time.  Here you go- the long overdue secret family recipe.  ;)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Cinnamon sugar topping (1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, blended)
  1. In a medium bowl, use a wire whisk to gently mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter, sugar, and eggs at medium speed.
  3. Turn speed to low and beat in sour cream and vanilla until smooth.  Gradually add flour mixture until well combined.
  4. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375° and spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
  6. Drop chilled dough by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.  Sprinkle unbaked cookies with cinnamon sugar topping.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until just golden along bottom edges.
  7. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

September 7, 2013

Potato Stamps

This morning my son and I had fun painting with potatoes.  I had a sweet potato that was just growing ancient in my veggie basket, so I decided to put it to use in a different way.  I asked my son what shapes he wanted, and he chose circle (haha, ok, cut the potato in half and I already have that one), and a pumpkin.  I just used a paring knife to carve a stem and stripe on the "pumpkin" stamp, and we were good to go.  5 minutes of prep and we had a great time.  One of the things I liked best was how he decided to decorate the stamps after we'd painted with them.  One circle got turned into a ghost, and one pumpkin got a smiley face.  So easy and fun!

  • 1 large potato
  • Chef's knife
  • Paring knife
  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Paper
  1. Cut the potato in half, or in thirds, to make slices for stamps.
  2. Use a paring knife to carve designs into the stamps.  Scrape over the whole surface of the stamp after carving, to clear off scraps.
  3. Dip the stamp in paint, spreading around.  Use paint brush to spread evenly on stamp and remove excess.  Optional: stamp a couple times on a paper towel before stamping on paper, to make a cleaner stamp image after the paint has set in.
  4. Stamp firmly and evenly, and lift gently.  Decorate image with smaller paint brushes.

September 5, 2013

Parmesan Garlic Breadsticks

Well hello there. It's been a while, hasn't it?  Both my blogging and my cooking took a right turn to nowhere during the month of August.  My summer class was tough, and summer is the busiest time of year at work.  Perfect storm to lead to quick meals and a neglected blog.
Anyway, trying to get back in the saddle a bit, I'll share my experience with these tasty but a bit tricky breadsticks.  My friend Sarah pinned these ages ago for a Pinterest party and they've been lurking on my recipes board for ages now.  I finally made them and wonder where to rank them in my ever growing list of garlic-flavored bread sides.  They have the garlic monkey bread, knots, and Domino's bread bites to contend with!

  • 1 tube refrigerated pizza dough (like Pillsbury's)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (from the can; not freshly grated)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Mix Parmesan, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Roll out dough to full rectangular shape (about 12" x 9").  Brush with the melted butter.  
  4. Sprinkle half the dough with the Parmesan mixture and pepper.  Fold other side of dough on top and gently press together.
  5. Use a pizza cutter to cut 1" strips of dough.  Twist the dough strips tightly and set on the baking sheet.  If you look at my picture against the one in the original post, you can see that I wound up with some fatty breadsticks.  I think that I cut them larger than 1" wide, and didn't twist too tightly so I got these floppy ones instead of the crispier looking ones in the original recipe.  Just some advice depending on the texture you want.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes or until puffed and golden.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve warm.