Sunday, December 20, 2009

Handmade: Easy Ornament

So, I had a bunch of response cards after the wedding and I didn't want to just toss them, so I made ornaments out of them. I used a large circle punch, double-sided tape, leftover cards, beads, beading string, clamp rings, pliers and a bit of hot glue for this project.
Start by punching out 8 circles and then fold them all in half.

Tape all of the halves to eachother to create a sphere.
String some seed beads on your beading wire and create the teardrop at the bottom. Thread a large bead over both ends of the wire to hold the teardrop in place. Thread both through your paper sphere and add another large bead at the top.
Use your pliers and clamp rings to hold the large bead in place and to close the two ends of the beading wire at the very top of the loop. I also dabbed some hot glue at the two ends of the paper sphere to hold the large beads in place and at the top of the loop just for a little bit of extra stability.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Operation Baking Gals

A fellow weddingbee blogger organized a group to send baked goods to a soldier through Operation Baking G.A.L.S. You can follow her kitchen adventures over at So, on to what I baked and sent.

Moravian Molasses Cookies
This recipe comes from Williams Sonoma: Cookies.

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 c. unsalted butter (softened)
1/3 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 c. dark molasses

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in molasses. Sift together remaining ingredients in separate bowl. Slowly blend flour mixture into butter mixture.

Drop tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined pan. Leave plenty of room as they will spread quite a bit. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes until they start to brown. They will still be very soft. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to cookie rack.

Makes about 2 dozen. These last about a week in an airtight container and they stay very moist and soft.

Simply my favorite brownie recipe ever, I make it far too often. It comes from the Silver Palate Cookbook and it's amazing. I made a half recipe for this and it made 24 mini cupcake brownies. I reduced the baking time to about 17 minutes. I start checking them after 15 minutes.

1 c. (2 sticks) sweet butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs
2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 12 inch baking pan.
Melt butter and chocolate in the top part of a double boiler over boiling water. When melted, set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, beat eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored; add vanilla. Fold chocolate mixture into eggs and sugar. Mix thoroughly.
Sift flour and fold gently into batter, mixing just until blended. Fold in walnuts.
Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until center is just set. Do not overbake.
Allow brownies to cool in pan for 30 minutes before cutting into bars.
Makes 28 large brownies
These coconut macaroons came from the back of the bag of Baker's Angel Flake Coconut. They couldn't be easier, I promise. Again, I made a half recipe so I wouldn't have too many leftovers to eat all by myself.

1 (14 oz.) package of Baker's Angel Flake coconut
2/3 c. sugar
6 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp. almond extract

Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt. Add egg whites and extract. Stir until well blended.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking pan lined with parchment or silpat. Bake at 325 for 2o min. until edges are golden. Cool on racks.

Makes 3 dozen.

I followed the advice of those before me and packaged them in those gladware, ziploc sandwich containers. The Baking GALS recommend that you place slices of apple peel between paper towels inside the containers to keep the baked goods moist. So I did that and hoped for th best. This soldier also got a magazine, candy, goldfish, gum, trail mix, a stocking and a card.
You can fit quite a bit in those priority mail boxes. And even though they were out of the APO boxes, I still got the APO rate because the rate is determined by the zipcode. So for those out there wondering USPS priority mail boxes and APO priority mail boxes will both work.
Merry Christmas Soldiers!