To help continue the celebration of the release of Paper Crafts's newest book, Paper Crafts Gourmet, I'm happy to share one of our family secrets - my grandfather's mother's recipe for her chocolate cake. She was known for her baking and my great grandfather ate up everything she made and stayed as skinny as always...my mother remembers spending weeks in the summer at their farm in Kansas and this chocolate cake was always one of the highlights. This is a photo of my great grandparents on their 50th Anniversary.
Great Grandmom's Chocolate Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 Tb cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Place butter, cocoa, and water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk together sugar and flour in large bowl. Pour boiling mixture over sugar and flour and blend. Add buttermilk, baking soda, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined. Bake in greased and floured 15" x 10 1/2" x 1" pan at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. (high altitude 425 degrees for 20 minutes)
The frosting is really what makes this cake so delicious - it's like pourable fudge. The nuts are optional, but we love it with chopped walnuts. Make the frosting right when the cake comes out of the oven and pour it over the cake while it is still warm.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
4 Tb cocoa powder
6 Tb milk
1 lb box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
Bring butter, cocoa, and milk to a boil then add remaining ingredients. Pour over warm cake. Lick spoon :)
This cake is good any time, but it is really incredible when it is still warm served with a glass of ice cold milk. Please send some willpower my way today...it's just me and the leftover cake here spending the day together...
This week Paper Crafts Magazine will be promoting their latest new hardcover book - Paper Crafts Gourmet. This is an entire book based on their popular special issue from last year of the same name - it is both a cookbook and a paper crafting idea book - how cool is that?!
I had the privilege of contributing both recipes and designs to this book - in addition to the judging they do for the project designs they also had quite a competition to see which recipes made it into the book - I was thrilled to have three of my recipes chosen. One of those recipes is available for you to read about and download here.
To help celebrate this new book Paper Crafts has sent me a recipe and project to share with you here on my blog. If you are not familiar with Alisa Bangerter, she is one of the Paper Crafts Pros and one of the very first designers I ever "noticed". I remember admiring her projects in the very first issue of the magazine and have been so lucky to have gotten to know her in person over the years and feel even luckier now to be able to call her my friend. Not only is she a talented paper crafts designer, but she is a fabulous cook - in the past she has had a cooking segment on television and continues to present her wonderful ideas for entertaining in style on a Utah channel...still waiting for my cable network to pick up the show here in Massachusetts!
This is Alisa's recipe and design idea for how to present it as a gift - isn't it adorable? and what a great idea for something to bring to a Halloween party - a nice alternative when everyone is already loaded up on sweets. I'm planning to make these to serve at our Halloween dinner this year - you can read more about that here.
Here is Alisa's recipe for the biscuits:
Cheesy Garlic Drop Biscuits
This is a perfect recipe to pull out if you are short on time because there is no rolling or cutting. The cheese and garlic add extra kick to a plain biscuit, and kids love them. They are the perfect accompaniment to serve with soups or stews, and are great served with a salad.
2 c. flour
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. butter or margarine
1 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 1/4 c. milk
Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry cutter until mixture is fine. Add cheese and mix well. Add milk and stir until just moistened. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Sprinkle top with chopped dried or fresh chives if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 15 minutes.
And here are Alisa's instructions to make this adorable tag:
Enjoy Halloween Tag
Designer: Alisa Bangerter
SUPPLIES: Cardstock: (ivory) Dye ink:(Black) Stewart Superior Corp.; (Summer Sun) Stampin’ Up! Specialty ink: (Mango Lemonade color wash) Stewart Superior Corp. Color medium:(black chalk) Craf-T Products Accents: (black brads) Making Memories; (chipboard bat, moon) Melissa Frances Fibers:(black striped ribbon) Pebbles Inc. Font:(Black Family) www.dafont.com Adhesive: (foam tape) Finished size: 3" x 4 1/2"
1Make tag from cardstock. 2 Crumple tag and smooth out. Spray edges with color wash; let dry. Apply chalk. 3 Ink chipboard moon; let dry. Chalk edges and adhere. 4 Ink chipboard bat; let dry. Adhere with foam tape. 5Print sentiment on cardstock; trim and tear edges. Chalk edges and adhere with foam tape. Attach brads. Attach ribbon with brad.
You can pre-order your copy of this book here. Wouldn't it make a great holiday gift? It would be a wonderful addition to a gift basket filled with cooking gadgets and gourmet ingredients.
But wait, that's not all you get with this blog post (read in a TV announcer's voice LOL). I'm planning to keep on celebrating for the next few days by sharing some more of my favorite recipes that aren't in the book. And what is a celebration without a giveaway? :) If you leave a comment on any post from now until Sunday, November 2, you will be entered in the drawing to win one of two prize packages which each include a copy of both the October and Nov/Dec issues of Paper Crafts Magazine as well as some great new products from Me & My Big Ideas!
Stay tuned tomorrow where I will be sharing a killer recipe for my great grandmother's chocolate cake...come to think of it, I don't have any photos of that cake...guess I'll have to make one today...just for you, you understand...has nothing whatsoever to do with any chocolate cravings that I may or may not be having...
I'm in some serious need of motivation to get my studio back in shape and thought I would post these photos of it all cleaned up to remind me of how nice it is when everything is in it's place. These photos were taken a few months ago when I was asked to be the Guest Designer at Emma's Paperie. I used to work in a corner of our laundry room and would have papers piled up all over the washer and dryer - and often spilling out into the hallway and our bedroom - it felt almost impossible sometimes to get anything done - especially when the washer was on the spin cycle :)
About a year ago some friends helped me come to the conclusion that changes were definitely in order and I decided to turn our formal living room turned guest room into my new space. There is a bit of history behind my house - we discovered after we had been living here for about 7 years that it was the site of a famous murder in 1860 - for those of you that would like more ghoulish details, I found this on the internet. Anyway, it appears that the autopsy was conducted in none other than my new studio - lovely, huh?
This is a mirror over the fireplace - the faux marbeling was done in the mid 1800's. I love all the character in our house - it was a real fixer upper when we bought it 15 years ago and I feel like it will never be "done". I have a love-hate relationship with our house - sometimes I would trade all the fireplaces and every last bit of crown molding for windows that were easy to open and some decent closet space. If you live in an old house, I bet you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Many of the furnishings and storage containers are from IKEA. This unit hold SO much! The doors hide all kinds of "alterables" and the drawers are great for holding chipboard, adhesives, paint, and DT products.
This little gem was found in the "as is" section at IKEA for a fraction of the original price. I use it to hold all kinds of paints, chalk, stickles, markers, glitter, etc. The buckets were in the kitchen section at IKEA. It's on casters so it can spin around - the sides that you can't see have shelves for holding all my paint bottles and pockets for catalogs.
In addition to the room, I took over our downstairs coat closet (believe me - I really debated over this since it is our only closet on the first floor!) I was able to add some shelves from Home Depot and I used the Cropper Hopper vertical folders to store my paper by manufacturer.
One of my best purchases (and biggest splurges) were these two triple towers of stackable drawers by the Best Scrapbook Shelf. You would not believe how much they hold - and how organized they keep me! I use many of the 1" drawers to hold wood mounted rubber stamps that I can't yet bear to part with; I use the larger drawers for ribbon storage - one drawer per color - and for all my stickers, rub-ons, and embellishments. I would have to say that this has been my single best purchase ever in terms of helping me to stay organized. I love how the drawers come all the way out and I can take one over to my work area, use what I need, and then just pop the drawer back in - it really helps to contain the mess. (well, except somehow the mess seems to have gotten away from me a bit...)
Thanks everyone for all of the interest in making the set of note cards & portfolio that I designed for Paper Crafts magazine way back in February of 2005. It is still one of my favorite projects because it is so versatile, it's easy to make with supplies you already have on hand, and it makes a great gift.
I created a template for the portfolio based on one that I had from PSX - I just kept tweaking the dimensions until I had one that was big enough for 6 cards and 6 lined envelopes, plus little pockets with embellishments and sentiments for the cards.
I scanned in my well-worn cardstock template and added some dimensions - this is sized to print on a 8 1/2" x 12" piece of cardstock. I think most printers will allow you to set the paper size to 8 1/2" x 12" and then this should print to the exact size you need - simply cut out and you will have your own template. Please note that the finished size of the template is 11 1/2" wide by 8 1/2" tall. I tested it out on my printer and it worked fine.
I created my set using three coordinating patterned papers (the ones in the photo are Anna Griffin) - and here is the best part - you can decorate the front of all 6 note cards and line all 6 envelopes using just three sheets of patterned paper! You will need one extra sheet to line the inside of the portfolio and to decorate the cover.
You can see a couple of variations in this post. Here are a few more photos which show some of the details in this set, as well as some possibilities for decorating the note cards. I kept the design simple with the idea that the recipient would be the one adding the finishing touches of a sentiment and embellishment.
I'd love to see your finished projects - send me an email or post a link here when you're done. Have a great day everyone!
I've been starting to think of some holiday gifts I can make and one that always seems popular is a gift-in-a-jar mix. If you have any favorites, I'd love it if you would tell me about them - I'm always looking for new ideas.
Anyway, this led me to think about one I made for Paper Crafts a year or so ago in which I decorated a canning jar with a photo of my cute niece Ella baking cookies. I used some Clear Sticker Project Paper to print the photo along with a holiday greeting and created my own label for the jar. I painted the lid and added some ribbon to finish it off. You could fill this jar with your favorite cookie-in-a-jar mix - this is one of mine except that I like to add red and green M&M's to make it a bit more festive. Also, when you add the mix to the jar, the image becomes a bit more opaque.
This sticker paper is a real find...it works right in your inkjet printer and you can cut it to the size you need - great for mass-produced holiday gifts! One thing I have found in working with this paper is that the image will be much more vivid on one side of the paper, so depending on the look you are going for, you might want to print a mirror image and adhere the sticker paper to the inside of your project so the image is showing through the glass - as I did on this little glass box that I decorated with some favorite travel photos. (I know I haven't explained this very well, but it will make more sense to you once you start printing on the paper).
So that's it - my little tidbit for today - give this paper a try and I bet you'll be hooked too :)
I just finished some new projects for Karen Foster Design's Idea Gallery and thought I would share one.
I started a tradition when James turned five where we spend one entire day together each summer. James was about to start kindergarten and with taking care of his infant and toddler brothers, I felt like we never spent any time together. I know it sounds kind of lame writing it down here...one day per year - big deal - but really, it has been wonderful - a whole day, from before breakfast until as late at night as we can last - doing whatever the two of us want. It is so nice being able to focus on just one child for the entire day - and always getting to say "yes" - I know these days will be among my favorite memories of my kid's childhoods. As each of my other boys turned five, they started getting a "Mommy" day too.
Last year for James' 13th birthday we decided to extend "James & Mommy Day" to a 2-day trip to New York City - we had such a blast! When I was asked to make a project using one of Karen Foster Design's new Stacked Statements, I thought this would be perfect for an album of our visit to NYC. This is a mini album that I'm working on with some photos and souvenirs from that trip. I'm going to have James add much of the journaling when he can find some time.
I've always loved the long weekend we get over Columbus Day - the leaves are always just about at their peak, the weather is starting to get cool at night and the fact that it usually falls right around my birthday makes it fun too.
This is a little book I made with some photos from a Columbus Day Weekend trip to Vermont a few years ago. I love Vermont at any time of year, but if you are lucky enough to visit during fall foliage season it really is spectacular.
A Halloween tradition we have created over the years is to sit down to a special dinner together before setting off for trick-or-treating. We started out just inviting my parents and Joe's step-mother over and it has now expanded to some of the kid's friends and their families. Since we now have so many people coming over to eat, I've opted for a buffet rather than the sit down dinner we started with.
I love to use lots of candles and some extra Halloween candy for decorations around the table. This is a photo from one of our early dinners - 2004.
These are some photos from last year - as well as some recipe ideas.
I'm sorry some of these photos aren't the greatest...I can't wait until this year when I can use my new camera! This is an old standy-by and a big hit with kids -
Chopped Up Fingers served with a Blood Sauce
Cut up pieces of hot dogs and wrap one end in a half of a piece of bread stick dough (the kind that comes in a can). If nut allergies aren't an issue, then you can add a slice of almond as a "fingernail". Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the "bandage" is browned. Serve with Blood Sauce (ketchup).
Devil's Favorite Eggs
Use your favorite recipe here...I like this one from Allrecipes.
I found this one that I'm planning to try this year - Eyes of Newt. You can find this recipe here.
Fried Ogre Brains
This was more popular with the adults - it not only looked good, but it was really yummy - even for those that don't like cauliflower, roasting it with garlic gives it a whole new flavor. Here is the recipe I used - plus just a touch of tumeric to give it a orangy color.
This is a great crock pot recipe for baby back ribs - the meat falls off the bone and they have that same yummy taste as BBQ ribs. Here is the recipe.
Eye of Newt Salad
This is simply your favorite salad and dressing with some "eye of newts" added as a garnish. They were a little tricky to make, but did look great in the salad. The eyes are made from mini balls of fresh mozzarella cheese which you cut in half and press a slice of stuffed olive in the center. Another one that was probably more popular with the adults than the kids.
I found these two large fun pumpkins at a farm stand and knew they would be perfect for holding some homemade soups. I serve the soup in coffee cups (I used disposable ones to make it easy) so everyone can have a little sample of each.
Granny Werewolf's Award Winning Soup
This is the tastiest soup ever - I have made this many, many times and never have come across anyone - young or old - that didn't love it. It is a butternut and ham bisque and the orange color looks perfect for Halloween. The recipe is here.
Stay Away From Me Soup
You need something to ward off vampires on Halloween (sorry Twilight fans :) and this garlic soup does the trick. The garlic is poached and develops a sweet flavor. This was the first time I made this soup and it was surprisingly good - almost as popular as Granny Werewolfs. The green color is a great finishing touch. Here is the recipe. In spite of being loaded with veges - including a healthy dose of spinach to give it the greenish hue - the kids LOVED this soup!
Typepad has been giving me problems this morning, so I split the post into two parts.
Vampire Blood Punch
This is the punch I served at last year's party. I didn't get a good photo of the floating ice face and hands, but the directions for those are included with the recipe which you can find here.
And here are two recipes I came across that I'm planning to add this year. I like to change the menu each year so it doesn't become too predictable (except for the Chopped Fingers...that's always on the menu). These are both from Family Fun.