Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Paper Shamrocks



A simple little craft for March is just what I needed this week.  These Paper Shamrocks are so simple to throw together, you will want to keep making them.  They are  perfect to make  flower arrangements coffee stirrers, or  some delightful garland to drape around and decorate.






Supplies:
Green Scrapbook Paper 
A small heart punch (or a larger shamrock punch)
Double sided tape 
Coffee Stir sticks
Bakers Twine
Glitter Glue
Tiny Buttons




Instructions:1.  Punch hearts out of the scrapbook papers (you will need six hearts for each shamrock, or two if you are using a shamrock punch).


2.  Lay down three hearts (backside up, pretty side down).


 3. Run the double sided tape several times over each heart.


 4. Place the three hearts together, so that they are slightly touching.


 5. Place a flat wooden stir stick down on the middle of the Shamrock.


 
6.  Add more tape to the other three hearts, and begin to place them over the first three hearts (wrong sides together). Smooth them down, pressing the two hearts together.




 7.  From here, you can decorate them if you want.


 8. Add buttons of glitter, or anything you might like.


 9.  You can use bakers twine instead of the stir sticks, if you want to create a garland.


 10.  Put them in a little jar, along with some Spanish moss and create an arrangement.


 or just a jar of stir sticks for a special coffee time.








Have fun everyone, and.....


May God give you, 
for every storm a rainbow,
 for every tear a smile,
for every care a promise, 
and a blessing in each trial.
 For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share
for every sigh,  a sweet song,
and an answer for each prayer.


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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Chocolate Salt Dough




You can make these delightful little essential oil diffusers and "play chocolates", just in time for Valentines Day with this chocolate salt dough recipe, inspired by the Cinnamon salt dough  recipe I posted a few years back.  This one came as a brain storm one day when I had the cocoa out. I realized I could use it to make a chocolate salt dough, very similar to the Cinnamon Salt dough.  Eureka! It worked wonderfully.  I had a lot of fun with this, by the way,  Whenever glitter and the wonderful smells of essential oils are involved, I guess fun is a sure thing for me.  These would make a cute novelty gift, something the kids would love to play with, or  fun Valentines craft and decoration.  They make great little essential oils diffusers as well; simply drip essential oils over them periodically and enjoy the smell for days.









Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup ground Cocoa powder
1 cup salt
1 /1/2 to 1 3/4 cup water
Essential Oils if desired.

Extra Ingredients:
Silicone Chocolate Candy and Cake molds
Cookie Cutters
Straws or Toothpicks to make holes to hang the ornaments (if desired)
Brown Craft Paint
Glue or Mod Podge
Glitter and glitter glue
Candy Pearls or sprinkles 
Paper Clips for hooks if desired

Instructions:
  1. Mix together Flour, Cocoa and Salt.
  2. Stir well, until completely blended
  3. Add desired amount of Essential oils (10 -15 drops) to water and stir well.
  4. Pour water into flour and salt mixture, stirring as you pour.  Mix until well blended,  using just enough water to make a workable dough.
  5. Form, shape or cut out ornaments. 
  6. For the candy ornaments, spray each candy mold with non-stick cooking spray.
  7. Pinch off a piece of dough in the approximate amount needed for the mold, and roll into a smooth ball before placing into the mold (this helps create a smooth salt dough candy, with very little cracks.  
  8. Place the dough balls into the molds and then press the dough ball to fill the molds and imprint the shape.
  9. Turn the molds over onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or non-stick cooking spray.
  10. Gently ease the salt dough candies from the mold, and arrange on the cookie sheet. 
  11. Bake at 300 degrees 30 minutes to 60 minutes, until the ornaments are hard.

Decorate however it suits you. I decorated in the following two basic ways:
  1.  Paint with a coat of Brown Paint, allow to dry then paint with a coat of Mod Podge, allow to dry and add glitter glue, candy pearls, and more fine glitter.
  2. No paint, but drip more essenetial oils over the ornament, to give it a rich dark brown color, and more delicious smell. Then finish with glitter glue, candy pearls, and fine glitter dust.


In a medium sized mixing bowl, measure the flour, salt and cocoa and mix together.




Measure out the water.




  Drip 10 - 15 drops essential oil into the water.






Add the water and essential oil mixture to the flour salt and cocoa mixture, stirring as you pour.  Add enough water to form a well moistened (but not too sticky), dough.





Knead until the dough is well blended and moist, but not sticky.  If needed you can add more flour or water.






Prepare the silicone candy or cake molds by spraying with a non-stick cooking spray.  Pinch off an approximate amount needed to fill each mold, and roll into a smooth round ball.






Place the balls of dough into the molds, and smash evenly to fill the mold.




Turn candy molds onto a lined cookie sheet, and gently ease out the salt dough candies.





Place Chocolate salt dough shapes into the oven (pre-heated at 350 degrees)  and bake 30 -  60 minutes, until hard.  


Warning, your family will think you have just made brownies or fudge just for them and may be very disappointed when they find out these are not edible.  I would suggest warning the family ahead of time, to ward off disappointment.  I know this from experience.



Decorate




     Use Brown Craft Paint, Mod Podge, Candy Sprinkles, Glitter                  Glue, Glitter and anything that seems good to you.























Have Fun!



Monday, February 5, 2018

Instant Pot Beef Burgundy



This, comforting, hearty, beef stew is a favorite of ours through the winter months, and I love to serve it up for company, or a special occasion, because of its classy presentation and delicious flavor.  In France it is called "Boeuf Bourguignon, which gives it such a lovely Epicurean sound, but no need to be intimidated about making this dish, it is simply a beef stew made with red wine.  This can be made to braise in your oven for several hours, or done quickly with an Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker as I am making in this recipe.




The Beef is so flavorful and tender, and perfectly paired with the beautiful broth  that is slightly thickened, from the added flour in the cooking process. This stew becomes even more flavorful after a day or two in the refrigerator, so it is wonderful warmed up as left overs, or frozen for a later meal.





Serve it over egg noodles or mashed potatoes, with a big piece of  sourdough garlic bread, and you will not be disappointed.




Perfect Comfort Food, but elegant enough for the best occasions. 



One of the things I love about the Instant Pot, is that you have the ability to brown in the pot before you begin slow cooking, or pressure cooking, which makes things simple when most or all of the cooking can be done in one pot.


Set the Instant Pot on the  “Sauté” setting.  Add half the butter and the chopped bacon into the Instant Pot;  Cook until the bacon begins to get crispy, stirring occasionally. 




 When the bacon is lightly crisp, add the diced onions and minced garlic. 




 Continue to saute until the onions are wilted and just beginning to brown.




Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion and bacon mixture to a bowl, and set aside.





To the pot, add the olive oil, and allow it to heat for a minute or two,  then add the cubed meat and  brown on all sides.





Once the meat is browned, add the flour, salt and pepper and stir to coat the meat.




Add  the beef broth,




 as well as the wine, and tomato paste and stir until well combined.




Add the onions and bacon mixture back into the pot.



Press cancel to stop the Saute function.
Add the carrots.



 Add herbs. 
Stir to combine.   
Place the lid onto the Instant Pot.
Press the Manual setting and set the timer at 40 minutes. Leave to cook until the timer shows 5 minutes remaining.





When Pressure cooker has only 5 minutes remaining, prepare the mushrooms  by sauteeing the  mushroom halves/quarters on medium high heat, in the remaining butter, until lightly browned.  
Set to the side.


When Pressure cooker has finished cooking, press the cancel/keep warm button and then manually release the steam (as shown in the instruction manual). Spoon the Beef Burgundy into an oven safe serving bowl.  Place in oven and broil for 10 - 15 minutes to give it a nice browning.

Instant Pot Beef Burgundy

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons of butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and diced
3 pounds beef  (chuck roast, or any stewing beef) cut into 2-inch cubes
3 tsps Himilayan salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
4-5 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-inch chunks
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, tops halved or quartered

Serve over:
Mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles

Instructions:

  1. Prepare ingredients and set aside.
  2. Set the Instant Pot on the  “Sauté” setting.
  3. Add half the butter and the chopped bacon into the Instant Pot; Cook until the bacon begins to get crispy, stirring occasionally. 
  4. When the bacon is lightly crisp, add the diced onions and and minced garlic and continue to saute until the onions are wilted and just beginning to brown.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion and bacon mixture to a bowl, and set aside.
  6. To the pot, add the olive oil, and allow it to heat for a minute or two,  then add the cubed meat and  brown on all sides.
  7. Once the meat is browned, add the flour, salt and pepper and stir to coat the meat.
  8. Add the wine, the beef broth, and tomato paste and stir until well combined. 
  9. Add the onions and bacon mixture back into the pot.
  10. Press cancel to stop the Saute function.
  11. Add the carrots and thyme and stir to combine.
  12. Place the lid onto the Instant Pot.
  13. Press the Manual setting and set the timer at 40 minutes. 
  14. When Pressure cooker has only 5 minutes remaining, prepare the mushrooms by sauteeing the  mushroom halves in the remaining butter, until lightly browned.  Set to the side.
  15. When Pressure cooker has finished cooking, press the cancel/keep warm button and then manually release the steam (as shown in the instruction manual).
  16. Spoon the Beef Burgundy into an oven safe serving bowl, add salt and pepper at this point if you need more. 
  17. Top with the sauteed mushrooms.
  18. Place the Beef Burgundy into the oven and broil about 10- 15 minutes, to give the dish a nice browning.  
  19. Garnish with fresh parsley or thyme and serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. 
  20. Delicious served with fresh sourdough garlic bread.
  21. Enjoy.
Note:  if you like your carrots to be a little firmer, do not put them into the pot until the end; reserve about 2 cups of the sauce in the pressure cooker ( after the rest is removed: step 16), add the carrots. Put the lid on and hit the manual button.  Set the time for 6 minutes. When timer has finished, manually release the steam. Add the carrots and the remaining sauce to the serving dish, and stir to distribute ingredients evenly.  Finish with steps 17 - 19.













Bon Appetite!