Friday, November 16, 2018

DIY Mason Jar Candles

 I've been teaching a kids art class this year and having a great time at it.   This week we decided we should do a fun craft for Thanksgiving, and thought it would be nice to make candles to dress up the Thanksgiving table.  We loved making these, and it was really a quick and easy thing to do.  We used Paraffin, (because I happen to have a box of it from another craft) and crayons, and a few scrap candles.  If you want a more natural, clean candle, use soy wax or beeswax.  We used 1/2 pint canning jars and essential oils to scent them naturally. If you are thinking of a fun quick craft to do this week for Thanksgiving, you might really love this one.


1 lb  Beeswax, Soy Wax, Paraffin or the equivalent of used crayon and candle pieces
1 bag of Wix
1 bag of Wick Clips
Approximately 6 Crayons in your choice of color
3 "1/2" pint canning jars or ( 6 "1/4" pint canning jars)
Glue dots (optional
Pencils or pens

  1. Prepare wicks and wick clips by cutting the wick to fit the full length of your jar leaving enough extra to wrap around a pencil or rod. 
  2. Slip the wick through the hole in the wick clip and crimp a tiny bit of it over the edge underneath to secure. You will want to be sure that the flat side is on the bottom. 
  3. Wrap the top of the wick around a pencil, pen or rod, adjusting the length as you place the wick.
  4. Place wick into jar, straightening as needed, and placing wick clip on bottom securely         Note: You can use Glue dots if you would like to glue the base of the wick clip to the bottom of the jar.
  5. Lay the pencil over the top of the jar, straightening wick and adjusting it into place as needed.
  6. Place wax and crayons into a small pot and turn to the lowest setting.  We did this in three batches, as there were different colors we wanted to use for each candle. Each jar filled nicely by using 1 and a half of the wax squares, and 2 crayons for each jar (for 3 "1/2" pint jars: If you wanted to do it all in one color, you can put it all in the pot at once).
  7. Once wax is melted, stir well, and add 15-20 drops essential oils.
  8. Pour into the prepared jars.
  9. Allow the wax to cool and set for about 1 hour, or more if needed.  You should trim your wicks, leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wick, (this is important to keep your candle from smoking; if your candle smokes, it is probably because your wick is too long. 

 Gather and prepare supplies.

These are the wick clips.

 Slip the wick through the clip, allowing a tiny part to come through the bottom and use your finger to crimp the the wick against the bottom.

Crimp and hold wick end as you straighten the length.  Wrap the top end of the wick around a pencil or rod.

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 Place wick in jar, and lay pencil over top.

 Straighten and adjust wick, and wick clip so that it is straight and wick clip sits flat.

 Ready to go..... lets melt some wax.

 Put wax into a pot, and add approximately two crayons to add the color you want.

Add essential oils.

Stir over low heat until completely melted.  This one is just beginning to melt... but already looks so pretty doesn't it?

 When wax is melted, stir well, and then pour into jars.

 This batch was made up of candle scraps, and paraffin.

 Here they are, nicely set.  You will need to trim the wicks to 1/4 -1/2 inch, to avoid smoking.

 They look beautiful just like this.... but, tie ribbons or twine around them, or decorate them any way you like.

 Note: when using paraffin wax and crayons together, the crayons will tint the wax a lovely color, then will separate from the wax, as the candle cools,  leaving a pretty multi-layered color effect.  For our second batch of candles, I used a couple of scraps of old candles mixed with paraffin. It turned out super pretty as well, although it didn't have the pretty layers that the other candles had.

 Happy Candle Making.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Double Layer Chocolate Cherry Cake Surpreme

This cake reminds me of the big beautiful party hat in the children's book "Go Dog Go".  Do you remember that book?   I loved that book as a kid, and of course my favorite part was the party on top of the tree at the end of the book, and the last "hat" that the girl dog wore to impress the boy dog.  That was the hat that finally impressed him, and not only him but any of us who read the book.  But here is the story behind this cake.

Two of my daughters have celebrated their birthday together for most of the last 34 years.  That is because they are twins. They are married now, and have families of their own, but have often been able to celebrate their birthday together,  and would make each other a cake.... and their cakes are always something special.  But this year, they weren't together for their birthday, and so no cake for each other... but our daughter Marie was able to be with us, while our daughter Elizabeth was able to be with our son and his family in North Carolina, which was really special for each of us who had one of them, but what about that special cake?

I was going to make the cake this year, and  I wanted it to be special, because I had to keep up with their wonderful tradition. When they were little I had often made an ice cream cake, with layers of pound cake alternating with layers of ice cream, and frosted with chocolate frosting and then completely covered with M&M's.  They were fun, delicious cakes, although not very pretty.... always a little lopsided and messy looking, but so good.  I considered doing that again, but it seemed to me that it ought to be a little more grown up  type of cake and it should be much prettier than it was in those days.  I wanted it to be chocolate, and I decided cherries would add a variation to  traditional chocolate cake, and it should have some fun decorations, like those cakes of old, but perhaps an upgrade of the chocolate candies, with  at least a flower or two.  So here is the cake I made. I hadn't initially  intended to post the recipe, but it was so good and I did end up taking pictures of it once it was finished, soooo I decided afterwards, that I would go ahead and post it.

I had thought about frosting the cake completely, but once I began building it, my whipped cream started seeping out the edges, and I knew it wouldn't quite work to frost it all, so I left it mostly naked, and just frosted the top. I think if I realized how it would go, I would have made chocolate ganache, and poured it over the top and let it drip down the edges instead of the frosting, then I could have had purposeful drips, and it might have seemed more planned... but oh well, maybe next year.  Anyhow it turned out wonderfully moist,  rich and chocolatey.  The whipped cream and cherry pie filling was amazing with it,  the chocolate decorations were delightful and delicious, and like the dog at the end of the"Go Dog Go" book, everyone really loved it.

 For the Cake:
2 cups organic granulated sugar
1 cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil (my latest favorite oil to bake with is avocado oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Instructions for the Cake:
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
  3. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix well. 
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  5.  Stir in the boiling water ( the batter will be very thin). 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  7. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted  center comes out clean. 
  8. Cool 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
  9. Place in the freezer, and freeze for several hours or overnight (optional). 
For the Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
1cup organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions for the Frosting:
  1. In a medium small saucepan, add half and half, butter and chocolate chips, stir constantly and warm over low heat until melted.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar to the saucepan, stirring constantly to blend.  
  4. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Allow to cool about 10 minutes. 

For the Filling: 

Whipped cream

Cherry pie filling

For the Decorations: 
Fresh cherries
Chocolate chips
Large chocolate bar
Round chocolates, (Such as Lindt Truffles, or Ferrero Rocher Truffles)white, milk and dark chocolates  for variety
Chocolate cream filled wafer sticks
Chocolate covered cherries or chocolate covered dried cherries
Roses or pretty flowers

How to Assemble: 
  1.  Remove Cakes from freezer, and allow to sit at room temperature 10 - 15 minutes.
  2.  Place one cake onto a cake plate for the bottom layer.  
  3.  Spread with whipped cream.
  4.  Spoon cherry pie filling over whipped cream, (leave a little border of whipped cream on the edge, so that the cherries don't spill over and down the sides of the cake).
  5. Top with remaining cake.
  6.  Frost with Frosting
  7. Decorate by arranging chocolates, cherries and flowers over the top in one big wonderful grouping. When I shopped for the toppings, I looked for a variety of textures and shapes, all with the theme of chocolate, white chocolate and cherries.



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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Fourth of July Layered Bean Dip

I do love to make a Patriotic "something" for fourth of July, be it appetizer, main dish, side dish or dessert. It just helps make the meal and the day more fun don't you think?  This year's "something", is an  American Flag layered Bean Dip.  It is quick and simple, and would be great to bring to potlucks or picnics. It can be eaten cold or hot; I prefer it hot, but my hubby says he would take it either way without hesitation, so of course serve it the way you like.

2 16 ounce cans re-fried beans, or the equivalent homemade (about 4 cups).
2  cups salsa
2 1/2 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
1 1/2 -2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in chunks
1/2 medium white onion, minced
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
salt, pepper and onion powder
Blue Corn Chips

Optional Ingredients: These optional ingredients can be layered over the salsa, and under the cheese and sour cream, to keep your colors consistent for the flag.
Chopped green chilies, chopped green peppers, chopped jalepenos, guacamole, corn, fried ground beef or Chorizo

In a 10 x 13 rectangular serving dish layer the following:
  1. Begin with the re-fried beans spread evenly over bottom of dish. Season with salt and pepper
  2. Top with Salsa.
  3. Cover with shredded Pepper Jack Cheese.
  4. Spread  sour cream over cheese. Sprinkle with onion powder.
  5. Place chopped Tomatoes as stripes.
  6. Add shredded Pepper Jack Cheese over the remaining sour cream stripes.
  7. Top the cheese with minced white onion.
  8. Place sliced Olives in the upper left hand corner as the blue background, allowing for a few gaps of white sour cream to show through for the stars.
Serve Cold, or Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, for a hot dip.
Serve with Blue Corn Chips

Spread re-fried beans on bottom of pan.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Top with salsa.

 Cover with shredded Pepper Jack Cheese.

 Spread sour cream over cheese. Sprinkle lightly with onion powder.

Lay tomatoes chunks into red stripes.

Cover the exposed sour cream with the remaining Pepper Jack Cheese, then top the cheese with minced onion.

Use sliced olives for the blue square of the flag, leave little spaces of white to show through for the stars.

Serve cold....

or bake for 20 - 30 minutes in a 350 degree, oven, and serve hot.

Little fingers can't resist.....