Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A New Years Eve Tree! Why not?

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays winding down, why not ring in the new Year with a little whimsical decor that can brighten the spirits but is easy on your time and budget.

 Using some holiday leftovers and a few odds and ends it's easy to create a festive tablescape to welcome the year ahead with flair.

                                                   Check out our Video here or on our Youtube Channel                                            

                                               Coming out of the box, our tree needs a little TLC

but the tree looks fun and festive spruced up with party beads, a clock printout, silver ball ornament and dress-up feather boa

A silver ball ornament is a nod to Time's Square

Wintry accents add sparkle

Wishing all our Readers
A Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Five Minute Ice Globes

Even when the weather outside is frightful, Jack Frost  can surprise us in delightful ways. Icy conditions that make a morning commute or grocery store run a dreaded chore, become magical when turning trees and landscapes into a glistening winter wonderland. 

Of course the holidays are the perfect time to bring a bit of this frozen beauty indoors.

 With some inexpensive supplies you might have on hand it's easy to create wintry icy orbs without the freezing or melty mess. 

The real thing. A frozen ice bubble:  pixaby.com

By now we've all seen countless ways to craft with those clear plastic globe ornaments. Readily available at Dollar and Craft stores, they can be found in different sizes and styles(some snap together in two pieces and some have a removable hanger and small opening at the topEither style ornament works for this almost embarrassingly easy project.

You'll Need
for the ICE GLOBES
Clear globe ornaments
Plastic wrap (yes plastic wrap)
Dollar Tree

Then display with
Tray, Bowl, or Stand
Battery flameless lights
Faux greens, Optional wintry accents

Simply tear off sections of plastic wrap and insert into globe (a pencil helps arrange and loosen wrap inside for top opening ornaments) 

Then have fun adding a little icy glow to your holiday decor

By Day on a sunny Windowsill

Pop a few in a vase and display with winter white accents

Or perch on a pedestal with whimsical woodland decor

Simply nestled in greens on a thrift shop platter

Pennywise is now on Youtube

Wishing everyone 
the Beauty & Joys
of the Season

Thursday, November 26, 2020

     We are so Thankful for our Wonderful Readers and wishing everyone health and happiness for the holiday Season!

We are delighted to be returning from our hiatus with new recipes, crafts and always budget friendly ideas to add a little Joie du Vivre to our lives!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Pink Champagne Petits Fours

The phrase 'good things come in small packages' couldn't be more true for the classically delightful bite size confections, petits fours.
While these dainty treats can be complicated and time consuming to make, I whipped up an easier, if not completely authentic version with store bought cake mix and splash of pink bubbly. I made mine just in time for Mother's day, but they make an elegant grown-up treat for teatime or any special occasion or celebration.
Rather than purchasing a large bottle of champange for this recipe, I bought a box of the small individual bottle sizes (using two) so, heaven forbid, no champagne went to waste and I have a mini bottle left for gifting with the petits fours.
Starting with a pound cake mix, I simply substituted the liquid in the instructions with pink champagne, or in this case, technically a less expensive California sparkler, baking it in a rectangular 9 x 13 parchment paper lined pan.
Once cooled, I iced the top lightly with a simple buttercream. This step is optional but creates a smoother and more opaque finish for the glaze.
Simple Frosting 
2 cups confectioner's sugar
 1/2 cup butter
2-3 tbsp's champagne
I omitted vanilla so as not to detract from the champagne flavor

I then popped the iced cake in the freezer until icing firm. I removed from freezer with parchment paper, turned upside down and sliced into long strips. I trimmed a bit off the the bottom to make shorter and more even and cut into squares. 
I saved the trimmings in the freezer for a future recipe- a trifle maybe?
Then back in the freezer while I make the glaze.
Icing glaze
3 cup confectioners sugar
5+ teaspoons Corn syrup
5+  teaspoons champagne
pink food color
Blend ingredients except coloring together until smooth and glossy. 
Add small amounts of extra corn syrup and champagne in turn until desired consistency if icing is too thick and more sugar if too thin. 
You can divide icing in separate containers and create various colors of pink and reserve some white for decorating

This gets a bit messy. I set squares on wire racks set over wax paper on a cookie sheet to catch drips and spooned glaze over cakes, making sure to cover sides.
Chill until firm and glossy
Since I ran short on glaze, on some cakes I just drizzled pink splashes across the tops which still made a lovely little treat.
You can accent as desired with swirls of different shades of glaze, sprinkles, or candies.
Serve with pink champagne. 
 or give as a gift with a mini bottle of bubbly

Variations on a theme
Classic petits fours consist of layers, so if desired, cake squares can be stacked with a layer of frosting, lemon curd or raspberry jam in between. Unfortunately my last attempt at layers resulted in some wobbly, collapsing and less than picture perfect too tall cake towers, so this time, I omitted the filling and kept it deliciously short and sweet.

Short on time? Use a store-bought pound cake and skip the frosting step. Simply slice chilled cake into small squares, or cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters and ice with glaze as above. 
See link below

Have fun with flavors. Using an orange cake with the champagne and adding orange extract and coloring makes a refreshing mimosa inspired petit four.

I made a similiar recipe on my Jane Austen Tea Party post, using doilies and cake color spray for a lace effect

Petit Four Fun Facts
Petits Fours is french for little oven. Before modern temperature control, chef's often used coal burning ovens resulting in roughly two temperatures - very hot 'grand four' for dinners, meats and large breads and 'petits four' - when the oven was cooling when they would bake small individual sized treats. 
Thus the name petit four was born.

There are many varieties of petits fours including both sweet, and savory, salĂ©, although today the name is mostly synonymous with the elegant sweet treats

Petits Fours were a must on 19th century tea tables and have made a resurgence in recent years with the growing popularity of home baking.

For more history on Petits Fours pop over to
The Petit Four story

Merci to our Sweet Readers for Stopping by
and Happy Baking!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Wedgewood Inspired Easter Egg Cookies

While purple and yellow are the traditional "official" colors of Easter, this year I thought I would veer off palette in my kitchen endeavors. Taking inspiration from the elegant and timeless Jasperwear made famous by Josiah Wedgewood in the late 1770's, I opted for the cheerful and classic color duo of "Wedgewood" blue and white for this holiday's Spring treats. 
These cookie creations are easy to put together and make whimsical and unique hostess gifts or sweet additions to your table or Easter baskets.
above images from Pinterest

You'll need
Plain Easter Egg Shaped Cookies
homemade or store bought
blue candy melts
white candy melts
reserve some for piping borders
assorted candy molds
candy melt squeeze bottles
I admit it. I saw these cute Easter cookie kits in several shops and due to schedule and "cookie skill" constraints (I have yet to be able to bake a decent sugar cookie), I sprung for them, using the perfectly shaped cookies and saving the included icing and decorations for project some later date. Of course skilled bakers might want to use their own homemade recipe.
My first step was to make the white accents. I chose molds of bunnies (really a lollipop mold without the stick), leaves, swirls and tiny flowers which would fit the cookie size nicely and then made according to package directions. I set them in the refrigerator until cold and firm.
The cookies from the kit had cute decorative imprints but I flipped them over for a smoother surface.

I then melted the blue melts and covered the cookies as evenly as possible.
While still slightly warm, I added the white accent candies from the refrigerator, pressing firmly.
After melting the remaining white chocolate I used a squeeze bottle (designed for candy melts from my craft store), adding swirls and borders around the cookie edges. 
While unable to work in any great artistic detail, the simple scrolls and dots added flare and that "wedgewood" touch to the treats.

Creating border patterns was lots of fun and gave the cookies more a finished look.

bunnies and carrots add some whimsy
 Display with Spring and Easter themed and decor 
makes a lovely snack with a cup of tea

For those who don't celebrate Easter or for other times of the year, "Wedgewood" cookies can be made for any festive occasion. Simply substitute round, square or heart shaped cookies for the egg shapes and use different themed candy molds.

Though most famous for blue, why not try other lovely Wedgewood inspired candy colors like pink or green for variety.
Wishing everyone all the joys of

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tipsy Leprechaun Cakes: St. Patrick's no-bake tiny treats

While St. Patrick's Day celebrations offer all variety of vividly green treats, hearty Irish stews and generously spirited drinks, this year I thought I'd think small and whip up some tiny but tasty little leprechaun cakes, a perfect sweet treat for Ireland's Wee Folk.
Classic chocolate wafer cake, made from whipped cream and the  delightfully old fashioned Famous chocolate wafer cookies (born in 1924!) has been an ice box favorite for years.
 I found a fun modern mini sized version of the famous dessert on the wonderful site thekitchnI simply adapted the easy recipe with a hint of cocoa and a splash of Irish Cream in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Like the classic original, these mini stacked cakes use the same simple ingredients and transform with elf like magic from cookie to cake-like layers overnight in your refrigerator, no oven required. They're a perfect Irish inspired confection for any friends or hungry leprechauns who might drop by.

You'll Need
1 box Famous chocolate wafers
 1 1/4 cup whipping cream
   2 tbs sugar
2 tbs cocoa or to taste
3 tbs Irish cream liqueur 
for a non alcoholic version simply omit the liqueur 
or try Irish Cream flavored coffee creamer, or any flavor extract to taste
garnishes: mint, green icing and berries or candy 

Whip the cream in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form.
gradually add sugar, cocoa and liqueur, whipping until firm.
Arrange wafers on tray lined with parchment paper.
Spoon or pipe whipped cream mixture evenly onto wafers and top with another wafer
Repeat until the stacks are five wafers high.

 Frost tops and chill six hours or overnight.
The next morning they are ready to decorate!
I stored a bit of the leftover whipped cream overnight in the fridge 
for adding some decorative piping the next day.
Now for the fun part! I used chocolate chips, blackberries (a popular Irish pick), green mint M&M's and gel icing but any of your favorite candy, nuts or sprinkles will do. Or simply pipe a swirl of whipped cream and serve as is.
A variety of toppings add interest
Display with a palette of greens and items inspired by the Emerald Isle.
tiny doilies and a cupcake stand add festive flare

                                I brought last year's St. Patrick's Day Paper figures "Wee Folk" 
                                      out from their winter slumber for the celebration -
instructions to make your own here

             These are perfectly sized for individual sweet treats with a cup of coffee or Irish Tea
                           Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator two - three days

                             Wishing Everyone  a Sweet St. Patrick's Day