Thursday, October 29, 2015

a new favorite: apple baked donuts

This year has been a great apple season,
a friend of mine goes to the orchard every week end,
and she brings me back bushels of apples,
so many, very delicious apples.
We have been eating them fresh, but also I bake with them.
Many harvest cakes have been eaten, recipe here,
and a few Alsatian pies have been devoured, recipe here.
Well I made a new favorite: apple baked donuts.
Technically they are more like cakes than donuts, since they are not fried,
but with the donuts pan, and the icing they are donuts like!
And there are no actual apple in it, just apple juice or cider,
but it is so very good, and the juice also come from the orchard,
so it is a fruit, right?!

followed this recipe, it is easy and perfect for afternoon snack
or Sunday breakfast, as they are fast to make, slightly longer than making pancakes,
just so much more special, at least that is what my family says!

Happy day!

Monday, October 26, 2015

gift card holder

What to do when you have some girlfriends' birthdays, very little time
but still want to be creative and give a hand made present?

Well, I made two cute gift card holders!

I followed a tutorial I found on pinterest, but the web site seems to be done...
it was easy sew!
I skipped the button to make it slimmer.

It is a pretty fast project, quite doable after a long day at work,
if you have already decided on the fabrics!
I made one modern and one retro with Pink Penguin Ayumi's collection,
it is so cute I have a hard time cutting into it,
which I am very well aware is super silly...

While it is perfect gift card holder, it also works perfectly for business card,
or rewards cards ( I have a few of those!)
and once again, may be I should make one more, just for me..

Happy sewing!

Monday, October 19, 2015


Two years ago, I spent 6 evenings at a great cooking school to learn
the art of French pastry,
I knew a few things but I learnt a lot of tricks, making the work easier.
While we mostly prepared desserts, I rediscovered a favorite of mine: gougeres.
They are made of the same dough than choux or puff,
but with extra cheese and spices/herbs in the dough itself
making it a great appetizers. 

Interested in making your own?
they are actually easy to make and delight adults and children alike!

you will need:
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of water
3 1/2 oz butter
5 1/4 oz flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
cheese (Swiss and Emmental are a good combinations)
salt, pepper, spice, herbs
I like to use cayenne pepper and herbes de provence.

Bring to a boil the milk, water and butter together in a pan,
remove the pan from heat then add the flour and salt at once,
stir with a wooden spoon and return the mixture to the heat,
stir constantly while cooking for a couple minutes.
Now the clever part (and so much better than doing it by hand!)
put the dough in the KitchenAid,
 and mix it with the paddle for a couple minutes to cool it down,
then add 1 egg at a time, mixing constantly.
Take the bowl from the KitchenAid and add the cheese 
(about half the volume of the dough), and spices as desired,
mix manually.

Scoop the dough with a small ice cream scoop onto paper or mat.
Because of the cheese, I found the scoop works much better than piping,
but piping them is perfect for the sweet version (same dough, just no cheese or spice!)
Egg wash the gougeres twice
Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, until golden brown

This recipe makes a lot of gougeres, prefect for a party,
but too much for 2 people.
So I freeze them, and just warm them up at 300 degrees,
and they are just as good as the first day!
The chef who taught the class, recommended to freeze them right away,
even if they were eaten the next day,
they would be fresher that way.

My kids love to have them for snack: they grab the bag from the freezer
and warm up 5 or 6 in the toaster oven!

Happy day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

romantic fall table setting

Our house is slightly decorated for fall, a couple pumpkins here and there,
some nice flowers, some fallish pillows, nothing too intense,
so I enjoyed setting up a little fall table for Mon cheri and me
for a romantic dinner.
With kids, it is sometimes easier to stay home than going out,
some sort of home date?!

Two comfy chairs, a little table,
some pretty plates and we are set for a nice intimate dinner.

Since it  is still too warm to use the fireplace,
 I placed some pumpkins and candles just in front of it.
I used my vintage French tray to hold a real greenish pumpkin
and a fake blue one, and some dried-out hydrangeas from the front yard.

I found this beautiful drink recipe, and it was the perfect time to try it,
it was changed a little, I used real cider for the base (not juice kind),
and skip the vodka.
The cinnamon rim was trickier than I thought, and took a couple tries,
but with the maple syrup underneath it is pretty and delicious!

Since I am mostly an appetizer and dessert kind of girl,
I made some delicious gougeres (cheese puffs),
which I will write about in my next post.
It is here!
Here is my special helper,
she fixes anything that falls on the floor, or even before it hits the ground!

she does not like to get her picture taken!

Happy Fall day!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

pumpkin stand

Under the influence of Pinterest, again,
I made a rustic pumpkin stand.

You might have seen a few around, 
Ana White had a few great posts on them,
so I had to make one too.
It was quite easy, I followed the directions,
except of the wood, I could not find cedar so I used pressure treated wood,
about $3 worth of it.

To finish the pumpkin, I first roughly painted with some orange craft paint, sanded a little,
then applied some stain (early american, my favorite color).
I think it adds a nice texture to this pumpkin.

And there is a lot of space for those candies,
perfect for the trick or treaters.....
if one is not too scared of the crows!

Happy day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

mason jar mug rug

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest....
lots of beautiful pictures, too many temptations, not enough time,
for sure there is no way I can make all the things I pinned!
Sometimes, I like what I see so much, that I have to make it,
right away, like in the case of this cute mason jar block from "bee in my bonnet"
I had not sewed or quilted in a while,
so it was a great little project,
and there is always need for an extra mug rug!
I did not have the pattern, so I sort of winged it,
the jars are a little more square than I wanted, but it will do.

I like my mug rug extra wide, you know with space for a treat or something,
so I place the mason jars on the side and added a cute little label,
it was inspired by Amy's book: Sweetly stitched handmade, also known as Nana Company.

I just love the addition of the little label, now we shall see 
how it survives all the spilling that will happen...

Happy sewing!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

outdoor pizza oven

As summer is officially gone and the temperatures are more under control,
it is time again to enjoy dining alfresco.
One of my favorites is making pizza, as I mentioned before.
But now, we have an outdoor pizza oven.
I did a little research about building our own,
but it turned out to be expensive, complicated and permanent,
three things I am not interested in.
So we went with this propane pizza oven
($300, movable and hot in about 10 minutes)

We have been using it for about a year now and I really like it.
The pizzas cook fast and are pretty close in taste to a wood burning oven.
I usually make mini/individual pizza and I cook 2 at a time.

We have had parties with 20 peoples and made pizzas for everybody,
it is more fun to be able to choose your own toppings,
and for the kids who are against tomato sauce, there is always the just cheese option!
Another way we have been using the oven at party is making pizza as appetizers,
and cutting them into bit size, the 2 favorite variations:
tomato cheese and pesto cheese,
people are simple in the end!

I make my dough using a recipe my cousin the Chef gave me (which I cannot share),
but it is a simple flour, water, yeast, salt and olive oil combination.
I also make my own pesto with roasted pine nuts, basil, Parmesan and olive oil,
easy and totally nut and garlic free (essential for different members of the family).
The large metal peel (nothing fancy, it is from Home Depot!) is very convenient,
 I use a little bit of corn meal under the dough for an easy release,
better than flower that can leave an after taste, and complainy children!
Now the only thing remaining to do for the perfect pizza party is a outdoor kitchen,
we have plans and dreams for it, it will happen eventually!

Happy day!

Coffee, bunny and Easter eggs

Can anyone have too many bunnies, really? OK, maybe, but I am not there yet! I changed my cocoa station from last winter to a spring coffee ...