Monday, January 27, 2014

whole wheat almond paste cinnamon rolls recipe

adapted from America's Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeovers

 This cookbook is my new obsession. My husband got it for me for Christmas this year and is already appreciating it. However, he is also attempting to convince me that the recipes are 'good' for us since they have reduced calories. Haha boys! Have I mentioned that my husband is thin and has always been, despite being fed a steady diet of McDonald's growing up. That being said, the recipes are significantly better (=less bad) without losing the flavor that makes them enjoyable. So far we have made a Mexican Casserole and Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs and both were amazing. In order to preserve my self-esteem, normally we talk about recipes in whether or not we would want to consume them again. Needless to say all of these have made the cut.

Dough:1 C. whole wheat flour, 2 ½ C. all-purpose flour, 2 ¼ tsp. yeast, 1 tsp. salt, 1 ⅓ C. skim milk, 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, 3 Tbsp. maple syrup (I omitted this though on second thought the extra moisture could've been a plus.)
Step 1: Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Attach dough beaters to your mixer.
Step 2: Combine warm milk (110°F), butter, and maple syrup.
Step 3:  Mix wet ingredients into dry on low speed until dough forms, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is shiny and smooth, 4-6 minutes. Add flour as needed if too sticky.
Step 4: Transfer dough to floured counter and knead briefly with floured hands into smooth ball (don’t clean up just yet). Place dough in large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled 2- 2 ½ hours. Since my house is not precisely room temperature, I have started proofing my dough in the oven which cuts down on the waiting time (approx. half) significantly.  Meanwhile,

Filling3-4 oz. almond paste, ¼ C. granulated sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, ⅛ tsp. salt
since johnny requested these, here he is filling as my sous chef
Step 4: Using a pastry blender combine filling ingredients til fine, crumbly texture
Step 5: Grease 13x9x2” baking pan. Transfer back to floured surface and roll out into an 18x12” rectangle, long side facing you. Mist dough with water then sprinkle with filling mixture, leaving a ½” border at top edge; press sugar to adhere. Roll dough into tight 18” log. Pinch closed at seam and roll seam side down; even ends and reshape as needed.
 Step 6: Using a serrated knife, slice dough crosswise into 12 rolls; lay cut side up in prepared dish. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rolls rise at room temperature until nearly doubled, 1-1 ½ hours. Once again I proofed for half the time.
Step 7: At this point I deviated again to refrigerate overnight. Next morning heat oven to 350° F. Bake rolls until deep golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack (I skipped this sorry to say was starving). Meanwhile,

Icing: 2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, 1 C. powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. skim milk, ½ tsp. vanilla extract
Step 8: Whisk (I used whisk beaters on my mixer) all ingredients together til smooth; spread over tops of rolls. Serve. 

Nutrition info, not completely accurate due to my deviations, but close.

Before--->After                 410--->280               15--->4              8--->2.5
                                              calories                    g. fat                 g. sat. fat

Sunday, January 26, 2014

painted dining room hutch tutorial

Does anyone have one of those days, weeks, months where you feel like everything that comes out of your mouth is complete and utter garbage? And you think, whoa I could have sworn I used to be a nice person. Well needless to say I am having one of those days, weeks, months. I keep getting washed over by feelings of bitterness and irritation. Normally any reasonably sane person would filter these comments out and keep them to themselves. I mean the principle has been ingrained in us since childhood, right. If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.  So what's my problem?? Somewhere my attempts to be witty have just gotten lost in the shade of being nasty; having something to say is saying something stupid; and my ability to be fun has become toxic and intolerable. Ok, clearly I am being melodramatic. Per my usual ability to over-analyze what others perceive in me or about me is far surpassing the thoughts others would probably give to my actions. According to my husband I am fine (but he has to say that right?), but I feel as if I have lost my way in so many areas.  I am officially in a funk. However, that being said, and whether this is based in fact or fiction, most of us are making strides towards being the best version of ourselves. So here is hoping that each day will bring forth kindness and understanding for the people that we matriculate through life with, since we never know the external and internal battles being faced on a daily basis. Here's hoping it is as easy as this painted hutch.


Yet another treasured heirloom from my Granny. I have read so many blogger's hesitation when parting with an heirloom to the master's of fate and paint. I felt the same. I was worried that this would be the job I botched and there would be no going back. Those concerns were unnecessary fortunately. I didn't initially achieve the color that I was going for, because I tried to be cheap and tint the white paint with some acrylic craft paint I had lying around. Fail - it was far too Easter egg blue, so I tried again with a sample size of the right color with just a hint of the white to get the properties of the water based alkyd enamel I decided to spring for. I tried to find Benjamin Moore Advance water-based alkyd, but no dice and ended up going with a similar version of Sherwin Williams. I also chose a bonding primer to decrease my effort with stripping.

gloves, 220 sand paper, disposable gloves, tack cloth, frog tape, bonding primer, 1 1/4 angled brush, small foam roller intended for cabinets, etc, min wax clear polish, Sherwin Williams water based alkyd enamel, blue acrylic craft paint, satin latex paint in a Moroccan blue

Step 1: Disassemble cabinet, then give it a quick clean
Step 2: Sand lightly to rough up gloss of surface, use tack cloth to wipe down. Use wood putty and glue on any difficult or beaten up spots
Step 3: Prime all surfaces, then let dry as indicated on container

Step 4: Paint white, cutting in corners, first; dry as indicated. Repeat for a second coat
half primed half painted

Step 5: Tape off white, paint inset area blue, dry as indicated. Repeat for a second coat

Attempt #1 failed mixed craft paint

Attempt#2 improved darkened color (for my purposes at least)

Step 6: Apply wax to polish and protect
Step 7: Reattach hardware and cabinet doors, reassemble


Monday, January 13, 2014

converting mini blinds to roman shades diy

       20 yards of white muslin on sale at Joanns for 40% off plus additional coupons
+     1.5 packages of dropcloth from Lowes
+     1- 4 oz. container of Liquid Stitch permanent adhesive
+     2 snow days with school cancelled
=     11 hideous mini blinds converted to roman shades

I looked at so many tutorials it is going to be hard to give anyone appropriate credit. I started off following the directions from Simply Mrs. Edwards which added 2" width and 6" length, then sewed the two long sides followed by the short sides.
Well I ended up improvising, which is what it sounds like everyone has done with these.
I cut my drop cloth to 39" wide by 60" long for a 35.5" x 53" window, but I cut the muslin to the exact size of the window. I find that the drop cloth is easier to work with when pressed so I made that my next step.
In addition, the drop cloth tends to fray when cut, so I decided that I preferred a double fold hem to prevent this. I folded the sides half then a whole inch pinning them down (to a 36" width finished). Followed by pinning the top and bottom in an inch then down a little over two inches (to a 54" length finished). I sewed around the whole thing starting at the top left hand corner so that I could essentially sew 5 sides without having to stop and start again. I only had to go back and sew one more side again so that I would have a single stitch on the sides (3/4" seam) and two stitches on the top and bottom (1/2" and 2" seam).

Once sewn I started deconstructing the blinds. Lengthen them to full length.
Cut the ladder string apart all the way on both sides DO NOT cut the center cord as this is what is going to allow your shades to gather.
Remove the bottom rod, making sure to keep all of the pieces for later.

Decide how far apart you want your shades to be. I would say don't go wider than 10 inches. Mine generally ended up being in the 7" range. Since they were all going in the same room I made sure they were the same. Then use the fabric glue to attach the parts of the mini blinds to the back of the curtain (muslin) starting at the top and working down. For my blinds I couldn't glue on the outer most inch of both top sides due to how it went into the bracket. I also made sure to leave an inch above the top. When possible I tucked the sides of the slats under the side seams after applying the glue (rounded side down) Then lastly reattaching the string to the bottom and gluing it.  Don't forget to let it dry for a bit before hanging it up.

On a side note we have old windows and I was amazed at how this cut down on the cold air getting into our home! My only concern is cleaning them if they get dusty or stained - I mean the only option will be to spot treat or vacuum from what I can tell. Which is definitely a bit of a downside over throwing something in the wash. 

other tutorials with more and better info :  Maison de Pax The Inspired Room

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

DIY french press cozy

ok before I start rambling about this cozy ---- look what Santa gave me for Christmas ---- a new stainless steel trash can!! To quote my husband 'sad to say but I think that might be the present you are most excited about'  haha I am pretty excited about it.

DIY French Press Cozy

 So this pattern was incredibly easy to follow. I actually didn't even print the pattern listed in the book. I simply measured my french press (12d x 6w;  interior handle space 3w) and added an inch to about everything so that I would have 1/2 inch seam allowance. It is basically a rectangle the length from handle outside to outside with a narrower portion to go under the handle. I used a snap instead of velcro as was listed in the pattern, simply because that is what I had available. I used leftover outdoor canvas from the dining room bench cushion I made seen here and some batting in the middle. Cut two outside pieces, mine are the same, but for more fun definitely make them different and reversible. Layer the outside pieces with right sides together then place the batting on top. 

                          Pin together. Sew around all but 3 inches at the bottom of the large rectangle.
Trim up your seams, cutting the corners at an angle. Turn right side out.
Press if need be then stitch the opening closed. I used a zig zag stitch to make it 'decorative' but you could slip stitch it closed. Then attach whatever velcro, snap, or button you would like. If you are going to do a button then you will have to take the time to do a buttonhole earlier on. 
Mmm now my coffee stays nice and warm