Fall Leaf Cookies Tray

Fall Leaf Cookies

I’ve said it before but I just love Fall! and I love fall leaves. I love to recreate them in any way possible. I know in just one short month we will be celebrating Christmas but I hate to let go of Autumn.

While there’s still a bit of time to squeeze into my schedule, I wanted to make these cookies. I made them several years ago and loved how they turned out and actually forgot about them! So glad I did remember, as they are easier than coloring the actual dough (which is what I always used to do.)

Baking cookies

I think part of the beauty of these cookies is the shape of the leaf. Can’t remember where I purchased the cutter but it truly replicates an oak leaf.

Wilton makes decorating them easy! I used color flow icing for the yellow. The other colors were adding by simply spraying on their color mists in red, green and orange.

I know we have a lot to be thankful for. and I hope you do as well. Times are changing and life isn’t always easy, but it is a whole lot sweeter with special loved ones to share the journey with.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Diane Long

Queen For A Day

Queen for a Day Crown Cookies

With a good part of 2015 in the rear view mirror, it’s time to start thinking about the remainder of the year. It’s holidays, family gatherings, sports themed food indulgences and changing weather.

My journey took a bit of a detour; well, hit a brick wall is more like it. But we mustn’t forget the joy creativity brings us, even in trying days. Force ourselves if we have to, to get into the craft studio, kitchen or garden. To feed our souls as well as brightening someone else’s day.

Queen for a Day Crown Cookies

Don’t you just love birthday parties? There’s nothing like them! We recently celebrated a loved one’s birthday who doesn’t care for cake. Since I am a huge cookie baker, I was up for the challenge.

I’ve been collecting cookie cutters for years. There are so many things you can do with them it’s simply endless! They are an easy size to manage, and I decorate them over several days. This is especially helpful when making Christmas cookies.

I bake the cookies one day and store in plastic containers. You can also take a day to make several batches of dough and refrigerate for up to several weeks.

To make the icing I use Wilton’s Color Flow recipe and try to keep on the thick side. Keep it covered with a wet paper towel as this icing dries quickly. After mixing in a stand mixer I pour some out in a shallow bowl, take the cookie and dip top side down and drag a knife across to remove excess. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Let them dry several hours or over night. Avoid stacking the cookies sheets until icing is thoroughly dry, otherwise the color comes out blotchy. I do stack sheets in oven overnight (to keep out of sight and wandering hands).  Its amazing but they don’t get stale once the icing is on.

Now they are ready for the piping. This is a Wilton Royal Icing recipe. It does have to mix for a long time and can crack or be hard to work with if it’s not right. Definitely worth checking out some videos for helpful tips. Now the fun begins! although your hand will get stiff from squeezing, you can decorate and embellish with any sort of sprinkles, glittery shapes or colors your heart desires. If you want, you can individually wrap them in clear plastic bags with colored twist ties or bows. Add a cookie to each place setting, add some with a gift of coffees, hot cocoa or basket of baking supplies.

Make someone’s life a little sweeter with something from your kitchen.

All the best,

Diane Long

How to Dry herbs

How to dry herbs image

I just love having an herb garden! With little effort, nature produces tons of free herbs that last the entire year. It amazes me every spring to see the barren dead ground come alive and provide lush fresh herbs to be used in cooking, homemade scent blends, aromatherapy and more. Some of the herbs in my garden are mint, chives, sage, lemon balm, catnip, and oregano.

herb garden

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can have herbs, even tender perennials, inside on windowsill. You can also get herbs in season at the local farmers market and dry them yourself. I’ve found the best place to dry them is in the attic. The heat and dry air work wonderfully. If you don’t have an attic you can use, check with a neighbor. They might be willing to “rent” you the space in exchange for some herbs of their own.

Drying Herbs

When I purchase fruit, vegetables or herbs I always soak them in vinegar for a few minutes and rinse well. When I bring in herbs from the garden, I soak them for a few minutes in salt. If any little pests were carried in with the herbs, they will soon make a run from salt.

The easiest way to wash them is with a salad spinner. Let them soak for a few minutes in the basket, then lift out, rinse well and put the basket back in the salad spinner and spin. Stop the spinner, pour out any water, replace the basket and spin again. You probably won’t even need to pat them with a paper towel but you can if you like.

herb spin

The easiest containers to dry herbs on are the trays (flats) you get from the nursery that annual flowers come in.  There are a few different styles. I try to get the ones that are flat on the bottom but the other kind will work as well. Just lay the herbs out spreading them evenly across. If the flats you find have very large holes on the bottom you can cover it with a piece of screen.

When placing the trays in the attic, I rest them on small plastic bins (the kind in the dollar store that looks like a little laundry basket- has square openings on the sides) This way the trays are not on the floor but lifted up so that air can circulate all around. Check on them in a few days, they should be a crispy dry, with no signs of moisture.

herb dry

To make labels, I just typed up what I wanted and used a clear frame stamp. Stamp with clear ink, emboss with silver embossing powder. Simply cut out and run through a Xyron adhesive sticker maker. Store herbs in a glass jar in a cool dry space.

herb label

Dry herbs can also make a great gift! Take a jar of oregano and basil and add a jar of gourmet sauce and a pizza stone. Include a recipe for homemade pizza and you’re all set!

See what you can create with Summer’s bounty.

All the best,

Diane Long

Candy Corn Cookies

Candy Corn Cookies

After such a hot summer, it's nice to get back into the kitchen and turn the oven on for some baking. This is another cookie I often baked in the Fall, and loved bringing it to my children's school. It's much easier to do then the Fall Leaf Cookies but uses the same basic Sugar Cookie recipe many of you probably already have.

Divide the dough in four sections, put one aside, that will be the small “white” part. Take another quarter and divide into 3 pieces. Put 2 with the quarter that will be yellow, and one part for quarter that will be orange. If you are not sure how the colors on candy corn align, you’ll have to buy a bag of them like I did. (what I won’t do for research!)

These dough measurements are just estimates, you can always blend one color a bit into the other to make it work. Roll out the yellow in a long narrow rectangle about 1 inch high. Do the same with the orange, since there is less dough it won’t go as far, it will narrow as you build the layers, Roll the white and place on top. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze till firm. Cut into slices. I usually have to reshape them a bit as I put them on the cookies sheet. Make sure they don’t get too brown.

candy corn logThere will undoubtedly be some leftover pieces of dough that wouldn’t make a candy corn, just twist it around a bit, roll out and cut circles for some interesting cookies to eat. Enjoy!

All the best,

Diane Long

 


Trick or Treat Thursday

Well Crafted Wednesdays

When Something You Create Becomes Meaningful

Homemade donuts

Holiday traditions can be time consuming, a lot of work and very inconvenient. It becomes so easy in our busy lifestyles to say “oh, let’s just skip that tradition this year”. Yet, we said that last year too, and what about the year before?

Our family, like many others, have members who not only remembered the traditions that were handed down, they kept them going faithfully through the years. Until the years got to be too many, and they were no longer able to tackle them.

I didn’t want another year to go by, another party to go by, without mom’s famous donuts being served. Did they take a long time? yes, Was it kind of a pain to do? somewhat, but it was SO well worth it!

It wasn’t just donuts, it’s what they represented. It was a display of the past, and a promise to carry on what is inconvenient but oh so important in the future.

I hope you get a chance to create something meaningful today.

All the best,

Diane Long

 

Fall Leaf Cookies

Fall Leaf Cookies
Even though Fall seems to be speeding by, I wanted to take some time to make my famous-in-the-family
Fall Leaf Cookies. I used to love bringing them to my Children’s class for their celebrations and to friend’s houses. Yes they take time, but there is a lot of love in them, just as the crafts we make take a lot of time to produce, but they are expressions of love and care that can not be compared to anything store bought.
All the best,

Diane Long

Heritage English Muffin Toast

Heritage English Muffin Bread Recipe

Today my creative journey takes me into the kitchen. Inspired by Crystal Paine of the MoneySavingMom blog. I always say “necessity spurs creativity”. Inventions are born out of the need to solve a problem or to make life better. A wealth of information is in her blog and the creative yet disciplined way she approaches life, motherhood and family.


Her desire to be free from financial burden sparked her creativity. She found ways of successfully dealing with the daily financial obstacles of running a household.

Her latest series of Four Weeks of Filling your Freezer led me to share one of my favorite recipes from a friend. I hope you try it and enjoy it. Be sure and visit Crystal’s blog and see what it inspires you to do.



Heritage English Muffin Toast

In a bowl (or large Kitchenaid Mixer) blend

7C flour
2TB regular yeast ( prefer jar not packets)
1TB salt
2TB sugar
1Tsp Baking soda

Add
3 C milk
¾ C water- microwave these till temp is 115 degrees

After blended, pour into 2 loaf pans that have been greased and coated with cornmeal.

Rise in loaf pans for 30 min

Bake at 425 for 25 min
Enjoy,

-Diane 

Springtime in Sugar

Flowers made of icing
It’s amazing what you can do with a little sugar and a little practice. There are so many techniques and neat ideas for making things out of Fondant and Gum Paste and there is always something new to try.
 
If you would like to step down this creative avenue don’t be afraid to try a new craft. Each new craft venture helps you build new skills on top of what you already know.
Diane

Art & Food

sunflower cookies
There’s nothing like bringing two passions together, and for me it’s anything crafty and food!  The warm weather last weekend brought crowds to the Pocono State Craft Festival. What a way to celebrate the last remaining sunny days of summer than with some Sunflower cookies. Talent takes many forms and looking at the selection of mediums people enjoy working with is quite inspiring. Take time to create, eat a bit, and enjoy the momentary treasures around us.
Diane

Embrace Simple Joys

lavender butter
It’s good to slow down and pay attention to the simple joys of the everyday. To be quiet.
Grasp the memories each day will create. A trip to Quiet Valley Historical Farm is always a treat
to escape to. While there, I sampled some Lavender Mint butter. What a wonderful way to use what’s already in the backyard. Simply take some sprigs of mint, a few fresh lavender blossoms, chop finely and blend into softened butter.
Find something to celebrate today.
Diane

Pie that’s fit for a queen

karens pie

I am so thrilled for my cousin Karen. She got to bring her award winning pie recipe to the Martha Stewart Show! She (and her pie) will appear on Monday’s show (nov. 16th) Karen is one of 5 finalists and her’s is the only pie that has the show name written on the crust! I’ve never got to try Karen’s Apple-Pear Blueberry pie before but I know it will be on my Christmas list.
WAY TO GO KAREN !!
Diane

The Riches of Life

blueberry muffins

Although it would be nice to have some of the finer things in life. The occasional getaway, financial security, career success. Life still has its worries. Life still has its sorrows. It’s hard to wait on God, wondering if He will remove you from a situation or take you through it. But it’s nice to notice the hidden treasures in your day, like a really great batch of homemade muffins. Perfectly risen, golden and the sweet smell that wafts through the house. Take notice of these simple everyday moments that make you stop and think, life isn’t perfect, but it is GOOD.
Diane