Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Salt Dough Thumbprint Hearts

Today I decided to change it up a bit. Instead of doing a food post, I'm doing a crafty, DIY post! It was a total experiment for me. I usually have some delusions of grandeur about how perfect my crafts will come out--however, that is not always the case, despite my greatest effort.
My craft challenge of the day was to make Salt Dough Thumbprint Hearts, which can be used as pendents, key chains, or good luck charms!

To make the salt dough hearts, all you need is:
-1 cup flour
-1/2 cup salt
-Water
-Spray Paint
-Small heart cookie cutter 



I added in the water a little at a time because the recipe I followed did not have a specific amount, but you want the end result to be something similar to play-dough.  I also halved the original recipe because I only wanted to make a few hearts, however I had PLENTY of dough left over, so feel free to cut this recipe in half as well.

Once you have the right consistency roll it out on a floured surface using a floured rolling pin.  



 Roll out the dough until it is a smooth thin surface.

  It is important to get the right thickness. I would suggest about 1/4 inch thick. You don't want it too thick, because they will puff up a bit, but you also want to make sure that it is durable enough to withstand pressing your thumbprint as well as being cut out.


Of course being the cheese ball that I am, I decided to go with a heart cookie cutter!

 This was the smallest heart shape out of the pack of about 6 different sizes and ended up being the perfect size! I cut out about 8 hearts and still had plenty of dough left over.



I then grabbed my love to press his thumbprint into some of the hearts, while I did the same!



After each heart was pressed, I took a pen and punched a hole through one side and flipped it over to make sure the hole went all the way through.


I then placed them all on a tiny baking sheet lined with parchment paper and popped them into a 250 degree oven for an hour.


To my surprise these little hearts plumped right up during their 'tanning session' and became a nice golden brown as well!


As you can tell, not every heart came out perfectly shaped (like that poor guy on the top in the middle.)But no worries, that's why its always a good idea to make extra!
 

When I first took the hearts out of the oven I was a little disappointed that the thumbprints didn't show up as much as I thought they would after being cooked. 

But, don't fret me brotha,(said in a Jamacian accent)that's why we have metallic spray paint, which will get into every nook and cranny of your thumbprint and make it pop!

Before spraying these little guys, make sure you let the hearts cool for a bit, I'd say 15-20 minutes would suffice.

TA-DA!

Granted, not every heart is perfect, but it's the thought that counts!

I plan on running some ribbon through the holes and giving them to all my loved ones to hang in their car or where ever else they please!

Have any of you ever made anything out of salt dough?  If so, please share your photos and any tips you may have! 

SIDE NOTE:  If you are wondering about the random Jamacian accent insert, please click the link below to find my reasoning. Trust me, you will be happy you did so!

 This was my favorite 2013 Super Bowl Commercial. 
 
Beware: There is a good chance you will find yourself repeating the phrase "Don't fret me brotha, stickybuncome soon" every now and again. It's just too fun not to!




Monday, March 18, 2013

A Saturday in Hudson

This past Saturday afternoon was wonderful.  It finally felt like spring was just around the corner!  

The sun was shining and the crisp clean air was refreshing and welcomed on my drive, as I met Kim for lunch in Hudson.

 I mean, look at that clear blue sky!

We began our afternoon of sister bonding with some scrumptious coffee at The Cascades.  I ordered a large cappuccino while Kim sipped on her medium sized latte. It was a necessary step before an afternoon of food, wine, walking, talking and shopping!

Once our morning pick-me-ups were finished, we headed down the street to this amazing little gem called Swoon Kitchenbar.


Trying to get the most out of our Saturday-sister-meet-up time, we arrived exactly the time they opened, well maybe a minute or two early, but the lovely staff didn't mind!

Waking in, we were met by the smiling face of a hostess standing behind a beautiful wooden cabinet adorned with a fresh vase of flowers, which sat just in front of a painted rose bush on a distressed piece of wood.


Kim and I immediately fell in love with just about every aspect of this place! The decor was crisp, clean, open, and one of a kind!

Behind the hostess stand is a full dining room packed with tables, big comfy chairs and beautiful flowers.




Now, on to the food....

Things are always changing at The Swoon Kitchenbar, as their menu focuses on fresh local ingredients and is usually updated weekly! 


 Before deciding on what we wanted to eat, it was more important we figure out what we wanted to drink!  It was a tough call between the Swoon Bloody Mary, and a bottle of wine, however, in the end, a bottle of Chardonnay was the winner... (Wine usually is in my book!)

We decided on a 2007 Mâcon Chardonnay, which was crisp and refreshing.  It paired nicely with the food we chose too!


Once Kim and I finally looked at the menu we quickly glanced back at each other knowing we just had to dig into their Cheese Plate


Three chunks of deliciousness were served with crunchy toast and an amazing fruit preserve that paired great with each cheese.   

My favorite was the Ewe’s Blue from Old Chatham Sheepherding in Old Chatham New York. I've always been a HUGE fan of Blue Cheese, but this one is amazing. Bright, blue-y tangy goodness!

I would have to say my second favorite was the cheese in the middle, which I believe is the Hudson Red from Pampered Cow Creamery in Philmont New York. This soft cheese spread nicely over the crispy toast.

We then dove into some Bacon Wrapped Dates drenched in Maple Syrup! Sweet, salty, and meaty all wrapped in to a bite sized piece of heaven. No exaggerations either...I was sincerely upset we did not decide on two orders!


 After that little tease, we split their Roasted Beet Salad with local goat cheese and baby lettuce.  


It was a scrumptious and refreshing choice.  They served huge chunks of beet which were so yummy along with the perfect amount of greens and cheese!

I can't help but to almost always order a beet salad when it is on a menu.  No matter what way they are prepare, beets always make my taste buds dance and are sooo good for you too!

Kim and I also indulged in their House Cured Gravlax with poached eggs, crispy potatoes, and baby lettuce.

Oh-em-gee! This dish is similar to Eggs Norwegian, minus the English Muffin on the bottom.  Having a crispy potato with every bite was a delightful change and the amount of Gravlax was insane!

After we finished our meal, we asked our cheerful server, whose name is Erica I believe, a little bit about the place.  She informed us that the place has been open for 7 years and is owned by a couple, who happened to be away on vacation...lucky ducks!

Once we killed our bottle of wine, we headed out onto Warren Street where we stopped in a few stores, as well as another amazing gem a little up the street, called The Spotty Dog Books & Ale.


What an amazing idea--selling local beer in a book store!  A few tables were placed near the windows, while a decent sized bar allowed for more seating, all while having plenty of room for an amazing selection of books!


 Miss Kimberly checking out some new reads while sipping on her beer!


An adorable card I found while perusing through the store!  It reminded me of my sisters and I as little chillens! <3



The final purchase! Kim bought me Mindy Kaling's book, while she opted for Steve Martin's book!  So far I'm LOVING mine! Kim and I totally enjoyed our Saturday in Hudson, and hopefully plan on making it a monthly date day! 

 Please share any great spots have you found in the Hudson area!

If you want to check out Kim's blog for the fun things happening in Albany, her blog is The Simple Little Treat.
 


 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Homemade Dog Biscuits

 This morning I woke up to a winter wonderland.  Although the mass amount of snow deterred me from going to the gym and meeting my sister for lunch, I was still able to make my morning productive and warm up the house at the same time!

A few weeks ago I came across a little cook book for doggy treats and today I found the time to make something yummy for my four-legged buddies! I followed one of the extremely easy recipes in MacPherson's K-9 Cookbook.

The best part about making these homemade biscuits is that it is extremely cheap. I didn't do the exact calculations, but I'm guessing the cost of making these would be around $2.50, whereas store bought biscuits cost anywhere from $3.00 to $5.00. 


What you'll need to make some of these Golden Cheese Biscuits:
-3 cups whole wheat flour
-2 tsps garlic powder
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk

Feel free to exchange some ingredients for what you have in your cabinets. I did and I think these treats still came out great! (I substituted whole wheat flour for All Purpose Flour and veggie oil for EVOO)



To start out, mix the flour and garlic powder into a large bowl and form a well.
 In a smaller bowl mix in the remaining ingredients, then slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry.


Once the mixture is completely blended together, pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 3 to 4 minutes.


Once it's ready, roll it out until it's about 1/2 an inch thick.


 Then, its biscuit cutting time!

The best part about this little cookbook is that it came with three different size cutters, which are perfect for four legged friends of every size.


Since I'm making these treats for a few black labs and one older dog, I decided to use the smallest yellow cutter.


It's important to try and cut out each biscuit as close to the previous cut one, that way you make as many biscuits as possible with the least amount of work!



Once you have all the treats cut out place them on either a lightly greased cookie sheet or a sheet lined with parchment paper.


 Then pop them into a 400 degree oven for 15-25 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on them so they don't become too dark.

And voilà!
Perfectly golden speckled doggy treats!


Look at this lil' guy...
This handsome doggy's name is Red.  Look at him sitting there, all patient waiting for a treat!

 
Aww! What a nice doggy!

Once you've spoiled your doggies and the biscuits have cooled, store them in a loose fitting jar and hand them out when necessary!


What homemade dog biscuit recipes have you tried?

(Please feel free to share photos of your doggy enjoying some treats!)