February 22, 2010

Key Lime Squares

I bought a bag of key limes last week and I have been using the lime juice mostly on my tortilla chips, but I really wanted to make a key lime dessert. I have a great key lime pie recipe, but I wanted to try something else, something smaller, like maybe a tarlet? I wanted something a little more individual serving size-ish. Anyway, I found this recipe from Martha Stewart for Key Lime Squares. SCRUMPTIOUS! And, actually, it turns out that the filling is the exact same recipe as my Key Lime Pie recipe that I have from my mom. The hubs' only criticism was that it was possibly a little too zingy in the filling, but that was my own mistake. After squeezing all the juice from those teeny-tiny limes, I got a little too far into the zone and added 2 1/2 tsp of zest instead of just 1 1/2. So there. That should account for the extra zing. Still delicious if you ask me! Extra bonus points because my arms are so much buffer today than they were 2 days ago from extracting all that zippy juice from those miniature green globes of citrus!
I sent all the leftover squares with hubs to work to get them out of my kitchen. They call to me. But maybe I can still lose my 7 pounds if I send the extras away.

February 18, 2010

Chocolate Friands

This recipe came from a new book for me, but I'm not even going to cite it because it was nothin' great. In fact, the cake recipe was downright dull. However, the redeeming quality of this experience was that it was a fun idea to do a delicious, dense, richly chocolatey cake in a one or two bite size. I would recommend using your favorite chocolate cake recipe that is just too rich for an entire slice. Half that recipe (or even less if you are a master mathematician and worried about your hips) and then bake them in lined mini muffin tins at the temperature recommended for your recipe until a testing stick comes out clean from the center. Let them cool completely on a rack.

My recipe for this ganache is...

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 c heavy cream

Bring the cream to just under a boil in a small saucepan. Have the chocolate waiting in a heatproof bowl. When the heavy cream is ready pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute then stir it gently with a rubber spatula to combine.

Dip the tops of the mini cakes into the ganache. Return the cakes to a cooling rack and let them set up. A little drizzled caramel is delicious over the tops. Enjoy.

February 17, 2010

DIY Tufted Upholstered Headboard

The hubs and I have been sleeping in college-student-style since we got married nearly 10 years ago (you know, metal frame and a mattress, but no headboard, footboard, or real furniture).  That was fine for the first 7 years because we were students, but hubs graduated almost 3 years ago and our bedroom has not graduated from it's student style.  BUT NO MORE!  We bought our first home a few years ago and most of it is pretty grown-up and decorated.  Except for that darn master bedroom.  Surely it has been painted twice since we moved in and our plain bed(mattress) has been wrapped in several new quilts and comforters in hopes to give it that grown-up look, but that's about as far as we've made it.  Those virgin walls have never even seen a nail, poor things.  There are just about a majillion other things ahead of our bedrrom on the list of  BIG $$ to be spent.  In fact, I don't think our master bedroom even made it on that list.  What is it about the master bedroom that makes it the last on the list of rooms to decorate and adorn?   

This past week I have spent my extra minutes between changing diapers and folding laundry, scouring the web for DIY headboards, specifically upholstered ones.  There is quite the plethora out there and here I am adding my own experience to the load of them.  

Here's my list of products and prices for my queen size upholstered headboard...

  1. 1/2" thick plywood cut to 24" x 60" -the hubs picked this up for me and he's not one for remembering details, but he thought that it was right around $20

  2. 2" thick high density foam -Joann's had it on sale for 50% off.  It is regularly $28.99/yd, but on sale I got mine for $25.  I called ahead first to find out what dimensions it came in which was what was the deciding factor on doing the headboard at 24" tall.  So I got 24" x 60" to fit the plywood backing.

  3. Batting lowloft -reg 12.99 at Joann's, but also on sale for 50% off so $6.49 for me with a lot of extra left over for another project.

  4. Cover button kit- I needed 12 buttons for the tufting I had planned and they came in sets of 4.  So I bought 1 kit for $3.29 that came with 4 buttons and the clever tools for covering them and then 2 sets of just 4 buttons for $2.29 each.  Total for buttons of $7.87.

  5. DMC embroidery floss to match fabric covered buttons for the tufting $0.37.

  6. Long needles- I bought "Doll needles" with one at least 4" long to reach through the 2" of foam and the 1/2" plywood. $3.79

  7. Tacky Spray to adhere foam to plywood (from what I read this is not always necessary, but I didn't want to take any chances)- $6.99

  8. Fabric for covering the headboard- you need the size of your plywood dimensions with at least an extra 4 inches on each side for wrapping around the back and stapling.  I bought a natural linen curtain panel on clearance at Target for $12.49

  9. Staple gun- at first we bought a fancy one from Walmart, but when we tried it out at home it didn't drive the staples in all the way so we returned it for the cheapest one and that one worked fantastically, go figure.  I think it was like $10

  10. Staples for your staple gun- maybe $3 at most
Assuming you are starting from absolutely nothing and need to purchase all supplies .... $96.00!!!!

  • First thing you want to do is mark your holes for the tufting.  My board was 24" tall by 60" wide.  I figured that I wanted two rows of buttons for square tufts.  My measurements worked out to be  10" in from the sides and then 8 " squares.  Hmm, ..... maybe a diagram would explain better.

  • Anyway, mark your holes and then drill them.  After you have drilled them on one side, flip your board over and drill through on the other side for a nice clean hole that you can easily get a needle in and out of. 

  • Attach your high density foam to your plywood.  I used tacky spray and I sprayed the plywood and the side of the foam that would be against the plywood to form a good bond.  Trim any excess foam with scissors so that your foam is flush with the sides of the plywood.  If you have time you can let it sit for 30 minutes to dry, but if it's all one piece of foam then I don't think drying time is absolutely necessary.  However, if you are working with more than one piece of foam on your board then I would definitely recommend waiting the drying time.

  • Now you can lay out your batting on a smooth surface being sure to straighten it out and smooth out any folds or wrinkles in it.  Lay down your foam and board top of the batting, foam side down.  Starting on one side of the board, staple in the middle and work your way to each end.  I stapled mine just about an inch onto the board and about 1 1/2" - 2" apart.  Next do the side opposite of the one you just did starting in the middle and working your way out to each end being careful to not pull it too much.  You want it to be tight, but if you pull it too tight then you don't get a smooth, crisp edge, you'll get a messy, scalloped-looking edge. I saved the top of the headboard for last to make sure that it was smoothed out exactly right.  I did my corners like hospital corners when you are making a bed.  Just try to get the fold and crease right on the corner and you'll be fine.  The batting is kind of the practice run for the fabric so you can even play around a bit to see what will look best for the next next and final layer.

  • Trim within 1/2" of your stapled edge.

  • Next lay out your smooth and ironed fabric on your flat surface and lay your board down on top of it, batting side down.

This is me really concentrating because I was sure that this was going to be so much harder than it turned out to be. 

  • .  Do the same thing you did with your batting by starting in the middle of one side and working your way out to each end.  I stapled about 2" onto the board so that it smoothly covers the batting (not that anyone will ever see the back, but it looks nicer and lays smoother).  Stop stapling about 4-5" away from the corners so you have room to fold them nicely before securing them down.   

Now turn it over and admire your work.


  • Now you get to cover your buttons.  I was all prepared for this to take F.O.R.E.V.E.R!  I set aside 2 hours the night before project day just to get my 12 buttons ready.  I was really disappointed when it only took me less than 10 minutes to do all 12.  Seriously, this was fun!  I have been thinking about all sorts of other projects that I can do now that would require covered buttons because I really want an excuse to do it again!  Seriously!  Follow the instructions on the back of the kit.  It's too super easy and they're cute-as-can-be when you're all done.

  • So now we're ready to begin the tufting.  Cut your DMC floss (all 6 strands together) to about 24" in length and as many times as you have buttons.    Thread your needle and  insert it through your drilled hole in the back straight out the front.  Don't pull it all the way through.  Leave at least 6-8" hanging in the back.  Thread your button over your needle.  I wrapped the thread around my button twice for a little extra strength and then put the needle back through the same hole that it came out of.  *this was the trickiest part of the entire process.  Sometimes you get lucky and your needle goes straight out the back first try and sometimes you get stuck and have to feel around with it for several minutes before you find your drilled hole again.  Good luck with that.

  • Once you have your needle out the back again you can take the needle off the thread and grab both ends of the thread and pull taut.  Pull both off one direction and staple and then pull the opposite direction and staple again and then tie a good double or triple knot with both ends and then pull the opposite direction and staple right up against the knot to keep it from slipping.  I was really worried about if it was going to hold, but somehow all this directional pulling and stapling really holds it so you just need the knot for a little extra security.  Now clip your ends and move on to the rest of the buttons.  Be sure to pull them all equally as taut as you go along.  This gets pretty difficult by the last two or three because your fingers feel raw and tired and they cry out in pain, but you can do it.  You can!

You are done!  Voila! 

A beautiful custom headboard that looks incredible and maybe you don't need to replace your bedding after all!  The hubs is super happy about that money-saving idea!

February 9, 2010

Perfectly Owly Valentines

Who? Who? Who's my Valentine?
YOU! That's Who!

My preschooler and I made these adorable owly valentines for her preschool class. With only 9 kids in her class I thought this would probably be a good year to handmake valentines. Originally we were going to make these cute floral valentines for the girls and the owls for the boys, but after we saw how absolutely precious the owls were turning out, we bagged the flower idea and did a hot pink version for the girls. My 4 year sharpened her cutting skills and snipped out the leaves and beaks while I worked on the
birdy bodies. We both are pleased-as-fruitpunch with how they turned out. Now we are just crossing our fingers that the snow will let up so they don't cancel the Valentine's party tomorrow.

February 7, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies are my hubs' favorite. He wanted to bake some this afternoon so I found us this great recipe that makes perfect, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies. Now, the hubs is technically the one who made them, but I found the recipe. I scooped and dropped. I supervised the chilling and bake times. Really he only mixed a few ingredients- and, not to discredit him too much, but the KitchenAid did most of the mixing labor. Anyway, they were super delicious. This recipe yields just the perfect amount- enough that our little family can enjoy them but not so many as I have to worry about excessive amounts hanging around the kitchen and threatening my hips with extra cushioning and width.

January 26, 2010

S'mores Bars

Mm, Mm! We had some friends with small kiddies over for a casual dinner on Sunday and I made these delicious s'mores bars for our dessert. They have been my go-to treat whenever I haven't had the time to get something else together. They are delicious with chopped peanuts on top with the toasted mallows and chocolate chips or with just peanut butter chips like I used in the picture above. Sweetness!
I am definitely in a baking mood. I just ordered myself a french pastry cookbook and some new crinkle cookie cutters. I had to hurry and just do it before I talked myself out of it, seeing as how my baking repertoire is pretty plain-jane basic. French pastries are a bit ambitious, right? Well, I guess I am feeling gutsy and, for the moment, committed. I hope that I don't lose this drive before the dark brown truck backs into my driveway in 3-5 business days and Mr UPS guy hand-delivers them to my door. Meanwhile, I am tearing pages out of my favorite magazines with fun Valentine's Day ideas to adorn my nightstand and occupy my thoughts while I wait for sleep to find me at night.
Sweet Dreams!

January 19, 2010

100% Whole Wheat Goodness

So, as a first posting to this new blog, I think it is fitting for me to introduce at least a couple of my newer interests in one fabulous loaf! 100% Whole Wheat Bread!

Some of my new year's resolutions are to a) help myself and my family to a healthier eating lifestyle, b) contribute to my family's finances by saving money that would have been spent, which to me is the same as making money and c) to pick up and develop at least one new hobby during 2010.

This loaf fulfills the 3 resolutions above. Well, at least it is a vessel to carry me towards fulfillment. I am trying to use more whole grain goodness and ease my husband and little girls into the acquired taste for health. They eat this up. By baking the bread at home I am making money because I would be spending it on bread and more than it costs me to make it. And finally, I am learning the art of baking- at least a bit of it.

I got the recipe off the bag of King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, but you can also get it here. The only thing I did differently was to add about 1 Tbs of wheat gluten.

It is tasty!