Category Archives: DIY

Jack Bac Jam for Holiday Gift Giving

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Jack Bac Jam
Jack Bac Jam

Buckle up and hold on because this meat sauce recipe is going to take you over mounds of bacon and onions and right down sugar-lane filled with sweet maple syrup and a beautifully rich balsamic vinegar!

vanilla box bulbLast year at this time I suggested DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract as a lovely gift-giving idea.   Vanilla is still a wonderful gift idea, but it is best started around the first of November to be ready in December. You can still get vanilla started and just let recipients know it will be ready to use in January!

This year I am cranking it up a notch with Jack Bac Jam.  This rich and luscious jam tops your favorite steak, chicken, pork, fish or even brats!  It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks making it another spectacular and creative do-it-yourself gift.
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Homemade Apple Balsamic Vinaigrette on an Apple Walnut Salad

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When spending time in England this summer The Chief and I noticed early on that something was missing from the crowds.

Friday afternoon on the streets of London.
Friday afternoon on the streets of London.

Obesity.  Oh, we would see an occasional overweight person (probably a visiting tourist from the USA) but over-all people just seemed  thinner.

Walking a path in the Lake District of England
Walking a path in the Lake District of England

If spending time with our friends was any indication we concluded it may be because they walk so much more than we do.
And I mean walking for the sake of walking.  Walking after dinner, strolling down to the market place, or spending an afternoon on one of the many thousands of footpaths that dot the landscape of the UK.
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Sugar Cookies In A Fun Bouquet

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy sous chef dish-washing mom and I belong to a garden club. By the very nature of “garden” club one might think we are gardeners.  That would be wrong.  We like plants, we have both toyed with growing a flowering plant or two, but gardeners we are not.

little garden
We do have this little garden close by the house but the “real” gardening (and weeding) is done by the love of my life, our Chief Gardener!

Weeding The CornOnce a year it is “our turn” for mom and I to host the garden club members for a brunch/lunch meeting.  Typically members will decorate the center of each table with a floral arrangement.  Mom and I were talking about what we should do for our floral arrangements  and we got to thinking about doing what we know best — something from the kitchen!

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We decided on making sugar cookies in the shape of flowers (great idea) and then making them into a table arrangement (another great idea!)

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Our first practice round looked like these.  Cute, very tasty but not much like flowers.  That was when we knew we needed to call in reinforcements!

sugar cookie dowel
We wanted our flowers to be free-form and so we made the dough into a ball, squished it with the bottom of a glass and then carefully inserted baking dowels gently into the middle of the dough.

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When our very-talented and darling neighbor Abby arrived, we had 80-some cookies frosted with a glossy colorful frosting, ready to be transformed into flowers. SONY DSC

Abby is a culinary arts major and decorating cookies is child’s play for her.  I suggested I could “help” since we had so many cookies to decorate.  After one attempt we both agreed that I would be the cookie foreman, keeping the frosting made, mom would do the dishes and Abby – well, she would create!

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I am including three recipes with this post.  My Gram’s sugar cookie recipe which you can see HERE as Christmas cookies.  Then there is the colorful glossy icing that dries hard and shiny and is perfect for frosting the cookies.

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Buttercream Decorator Frosting

And finally, the butter cream frosting Abby made to use as decorator icing.  All-in-all I wouldn’t do anything different.

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My neighbor Kathy can’t eat chocolate and so whenever we bake something that is “non-chocolate”  she gets some!  I am told she shared these with her granddaughter.

Happy Baking!
Blessings, Catherine

Sugar Cookies
 
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After making this sugar cookie recipe you won't want to use any other one. Crispy on the outside and moist and yummy on the inside. Just perfect every time.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter or Margarine,* softened
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Cups and 4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • Sugar, frosting, or sprinkles as desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cream sugars and butter; add oil and beat on high until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.
  4. Mix flour, salt, soda, cream of tartar. Stir into the wet ingredients.
  5. Use medium cookie scoop, roll dough into balls. Using the bottom of a glass, press into sugar and then press cookie ball down on cookie sheet to flatten slightly. If you are making into flowers then gently insert a cookie stick into the middle of the dough, making sure it does not poke through the dough.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will be light colored but done at 10 minutes. If you want them crisp and brown add another minute or two. They will spread slightly when baking so be sure and allow plenty of space around the dough.
  7. Frost and decorate as desired.
Notes
* I use butter, not margarine, but the original recipe says either one works.

To place cookie flowers into floral arrangement, add floral oasis into a flower pot, making it as tight as possible. Gently stick each cookie into the oasis forming a bouquet. Cover top with decorator grass.

Glossy Sugar Cookie Frosting
 
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This frosting will "dry" hard and is a perfect frosting to use alone or in conjunction with decorator frosting on sugar cookies
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: Frosts 2 dozen cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons Light Corn Syrup
  • 4 Teaspoons Milk (or more for desired consistency)
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ Teaspoon almond extract * Optional
  • Food Coloring as desired
Instructions
  1. Mix all together with small wire whip. Add milk for desired consistency.
  2. Add food coloring as desired.
  3. Frost cookies using small amount of frosting as this will spread slightly as you use it. Try not to put so much on the cookie that it runs off the sides.
  4. Enjoy!
Notes
After this frosting is dry, decorator frosting can be piped over this for a "stand up" look.

Buttercream Decorator Frosting
 
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Exceptional frosting and very easy to make. Use alone to frost cookies or cake, or place in piping bag to create a lovely decoration.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Softened Butter (2 sticks)
  • 32 Ounces Powdered Sugar (Approximately 8 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • Milk to desired consistency.
Instructions
  1. In a mixer combine butter, sugar and vanilla mixing slowly.
  2. Turn mixer to medium and begin to whip the frosting add milk 1 teaspoon at a time.
  3. Continue beating until the frosting is very light and fluffy. Keep adding milk 1 teaspoon at a time until frosting is desired consistency.
  4. Use as base frosting for cookies or cake or as piping for decorating.

 

Oh Say Can You See … Our American Flag

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flag 5From the time the Chief, my sous-chef dish-washing mom and I moved to the country in the hills of middle Tennessee, we have wanted to fly an American flag on our property.  As time went by we talked about it but never did anything about it.  Until now.

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Enter The DIY Outlet.  Both The Chief and I like do-it-yourself projects.  Even better, I like to dream up a DIY project and then he does it … you know what I mean?

 

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From The DIY Outlet we ordered the 25″ flag pole kit with tailgating.  They have lots of cool flag kits but the “tailgating” kit caught my eye because it allows us to place the pole in the ground in cement but then we can remove part of the pole and place in the “tailgating” attachment when we want to go portable.  From their website they explain it like this:  This flag pole kit is great for international team solidarity, company tour, colleague camping, tailgate party, family outing or any other team expeditionary activities. It’s perfect to show your strong patriotic spirit, team spirit, brave and tough spirit everywhere in the world.”

mosaic1fcdb1444c074674e10a5d9bd6197130e352e512My Chief DIY Expert did an outstanding job of planting this steel pole into our rocky soil.
wagon snow treesHe even did it through the snow and ice storms that have pestered us for about 3 weeks non-stop!

flag at shopWe chose the corner of our shop outbuilding so that it can easily be seen from the road.  The cool thing about this particular flag pole is that we can take it down and transport when ever we want to show our American pride at a family event, church picnic or even tailgating!

This is a high quality flag pole that certainly exceeded my expectations.  And it does not have to be secured in concrete because it also has the tailgating attachment where you can actually just place it under the tire of your vehicle and it will stand firm with the flag flying its beautiful colors wherever you are.

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Can you guess what has happened that I didn’t expect?

We can’t take our eyes off of it.  I can’t walk outside without my camera.  There is something about flying the American flag that makes me feel special.  It reminds me of my proud American heritage.  Now more than ever, I am so grateful for the men and woman who have served our country to keep it a free nation.

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I no longer need to wait for a special holiday to fly the American red-white-and blue.  Now it floats as beautifully as an eagle in flight above our property proudly proclaiming the land of the free and the home of the brave.

My DIY husband is a Navy veteran and I can think of no better way of honoring his service than continually flying this flag.  We have added a light so that it never sets on darkness.

If you aren’t flying the red-white-and-blue, why not?  Now is the time and you can get a great deal at The DIYOutlet!

Happy Flying,
~Catherine

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The DIY Outlet provided this flag kit in exchange for my blog post but the opinion of the product is my own.

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