Jul 2, 2016

4th of July wreath

I have always loved the Fourth of July.  Growing up in a military family, patriotism was definitely something that was instilled in me from an early age.    And now as a military spouse, it absolutely continues.  I am incredibly proud of my husband and father (and brothers-in-law, grandfathers, etc) who have served (some still serving) this amazing country!

Military bases, especially overseas bases, really know how to celebrate the 4th.  They go all out!  Base-wide BBQs, food trucks, raffles, bouncy houses, climbing walls, combat vehicle tours, emergency vehicle rides, air shows....all leading up to a dazzling fireworks show set to blaring patriotic music.  I love it all!

This year, I decided to add a few new pieces to help deck out my house to show this patriotic pride.  

First, I made this yarn-wrapped flag wreath.  

Supplies:  foam wreath base, royal blue yarn, white yarn, red yarn, blue paint, a wooden "K" (for our last name), glitter foam star stickers, paint brush and a hot glue gun.  Yarn-wrapped wreaths aren't technically difficult, but they can definitely be time-consuming...especially if you are a little OCD like I am.  I measured out the circumference of the wreath so I would know just wear to do each of my coloured stripes, making them even spacing.  Hot glued as a I wrapped to make sure everything stayed in place.  Once the wreath was completely wrapped, I hot glued the star stickers in random placement all over the blue yarn section.  Then I painted the wooden "K" blue, tied yarn around the top and hot glued it on to the top of the wreath.  It makes a bold statement on our front door!  (ps - I do wish that our front door was a different colour, but alas, it is a rental so there you go.  It does, however, look fabulous at Christmas time. :) )


The second wreath I made was a large "K" flag, that I have hung up inside.  I LOVE the way this one turned out!!  


Supplies:  large wooden letter (in our case, a "K"), masking or painters tape, white paint, red paint, blue paint, foam paint brush, wooden stars, burlap / lace ribbon, and a hot glue gun.  I used the masking/painters tape to mark off the stripes.  Then I painted all the red stripes and the blue top section.  When that was dry, I removed the tape, and painted the white stripes.  I also painted the wooden stars with the white paint.  While everything was drying, I cut my ribbon into 4 equal length strips, and used hot glue to make four separate ribbon circles.  I did one extra ribbon circle, but much smaller, to form the center loop.  Once that was complete, I hot glued each circle together, one on top of the other, using the smallest loop as the top central loop.  Then I hot glued it on to the wreath where the blue and the top white stripe meet.  I used the same ribbon to hang the wreath by hot gluing a section on the back of each side. 


I LOVE how these both turned out.  They add so much when you walk up to and into our home.  So festive and fun!

Hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July!

Jan 22, 2016

Baked Chocolate Donuts with Chocolate Ganache frosting

We started the day with predictions of approximately 30 inches of snow fall this weekend!  This storm could land us in the history books, according to the weather channel.  So, after we set up a yard stick on our deck to record the accumulation, we hunkered down with a tasty breakfast.

When I think of meals during freezing snowstorms, I think "GOODBYE DIETS, Hello yummy comfort food!"  I mean, it's survivalistic, really.  Gotta have the extra layer of fat to keep me warm, just in case our power goes out and we can't heat our home! ;)

Donuts just scream 'yummy comfort food'.  Especially when talking about decadent chocolate donuts with chocolate ganache.  YUM.  

Make these.  Seriously.  Go.  Go now.  

CHOCOLATE DONUTS WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE
Yield - 10 donuts                  Prep Time - 15 minutes                 Cooking Time - about 11 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

Donuts-
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
heaping 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used 'special dark')
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache-
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup whole milk

Optional Toppings-
sprinkles
coloured sugar crystals


DIRECTIONS:

Donuts-
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray donut pans well with cooking spray, and set aside.  (I used two of these donut pans.)

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  

3.  In a small bowl, combine the whole milk and vinegar together.  Let sit for at least 1 minute, until it looks slightly curdled. Then add the applesauce and vanilla, whisking to combine.

4.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry, stirring to combine.  Be sure not to over mix, as that will cause your donuts to be too tough.

5.  Pipe the batter into your prepared donut pan, until each cavity is approximately 2/3 - 3/4 full.  (I just use a Ziploc bag that I've snipped out a corner.)

6.  Bake donuts, approximately 11 minutes.  You can tell they are done with they have risen to a dome, are spoungy to the touch, and pass the "toothpick test".  Sounds obvious...but don't overbake!  

7.  Cool the donuts in the pan on a wire rack, for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.  While the donuts are cooling, make the ganache frosting.

Ganache-
1.  Put the chocolate chips into a medium microwavable bowl, and microwave on high power for 1 minute.  Chips will not be completely melted, but will be soft.  That's what you want.  Set aside.

2.  In a small microwavable bowl (or glass measuring cup), add the whole milk and microwave until it is just bubble (but not boiling).

3.  Pour the warm milk over the chocolate chips, and let stand for about 1 minute.  Then whisk to combine, until smooth.

4.  Dip the top of the donuts into the ganache mixture, one at a time.  I tried to get a nice thick ganache layer because, personally, I LOVE frosting.  And this ganache makes for a fabulously thick and tasty donut top!  
*you will probably have extra ganache...unless you make a REALLY thick layer.  We dipped apple slices in it later in the day.  ooh la la!*

Optional - 
1.  After dipping the donuts, add any toppings you like.  My husband is not a fan of sprinkles (or jimmies, depending on where you live), so we left most of ours plain.  However, I love the visual colour punch that they give so I couldn't resist garnishing a few of them.  :)
You need to make the tasty treats when you know you are going to be stuck indoors for days and days.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I have!