Some Favorites from 2012

After my last post where I whined about not accomplishing too many of the things on my to-do list for 2012, my mom emailed to say she didn’t like the post. Since we should all try to keep our moms happy I thought I’d do a quick recap of some of the things I DID accomplish last year.

My first big project of 2012 was my Craigslist dresser rehabilitation, and I’m still in love with it. I still sometimes (ahem – yesterday) look at it and can’t believe that I did it all myself. Refinished Dresser1For Valentine’s day I came up with some rather tasty looking heart-shaped cookies. It’s not so much my baking skills I’m proud of for this post, but it was my first attempt at food styling, and it’s not so bad. Raspberry Window CookieSt. Patrick’s Day had me sharing with you a recipe for Irish brown bread. This was my second attempt at food styling, and yes, I did buy the smoked salmon and cream cheese specifically to take pictures. Don’t worry – I made sure to eat all the props once the pictures were taken – no point in wasting it. Brown bread, cream cheese and smoked salmonIn April I shared the little Ikea table and chairs I customized for my boyfriend’s nephew. Table and Chairs4In June I made a little change in my kitchen by replacing the cabinet door handles. This is a favorite as I think it took a bit of mettle and moxie to attack my cabinet doors with a drill, and the new handles look SO much better.Spann kitchen handles on Abstrakt cabinetsMy refinished media console was my next big project, and I’m happy to report it does a wonderful job at storing all my crafting supplies and other random things I can’t seem to find a place for.In all it's gloryMy blog underwent a couple of makeovers in 2012 starting with this post, but I have to say I’m quite pleased with it’s current look which I revealed in November.

The old and new header images - the new one is simpler

The old and new header images – the new one is simpler

And last but not least was my Almond Cream puffs. This post is a favorite not just for it’s a gastronomic delight, but the pictures make me drool, so I think my photography skills are improving.Easy and Delicious Almond Cream PuffsSo there you have it – my favorite posts from 2012, and no, it hasn’t escaped me that almost half of them are relating to food. I wonder what I’ll say were my favorites from 2013?

Almond Cream Puffs

With Christmas just a few days away I thought I’d share a go-to dessert recipe from our family. I have no idea where my mom got the recipe, but I do know that it’s an easy dessert that always has people asking for more. If you’ve been asked to bring dessert to a gathering this holiday season, and you’re looking for something easy that looks like you spent hours in the kitchen this is the recipe for you.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Almond Cream (see below)
  • Chocolate Glaze (see below)

Directions

  1. In a 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat, heat the water, butter and salt until the butter melts and the mixture boils. Remove from heat. With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in the flour all at once until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the side of the saucepan.
  2. Add the eggs to the flour mixture one at a time, beating after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Cool mixture slightly.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400F. lightly grease and flour a large baking sheet. Using tablespoons drop batter into about 10-12 even mounds on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake the batter for about 40 minutes until golden brown. Turn off the oven, and let the puffs remain in the over for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the puffs from the over, and cool on a wire rack.
  5. When the puffs are cool, using a long serrated knife, slice horizontally in half. Prepare the Almond-cream filling and spoon into the bottom of the puffs. Replace the top of the puffs. Refrigerate.
  6. Prepare chocolate glaze. Spoon Glaze over top of puffs.

Almond Cream Filling

Prepare one package of vanilla flavoured instant pudding as the label directs, but use only 1 1/4 cups of milk. Once it’s set, fold in 1 cup of heavy or whipping (35%) cream, whipped, and 1tsp of almond extract.

Chocolate Glaze

In a heavy double boiler, over hot, not boiling water, heat 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces with 1 tbsp. butter, 1 1/2 tsp. milk, and 1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup. Stir occasionally until smooth.

This recipe makes about 10-12 puffs. While the recipe recommends you start about 3 hours before serving, I’ve made the puffs the night before, and then stored them in a air-tight container overnight. I would recommend you allow the puffs to set in a refrigerator for a about an hour before you transport them anywhere. Serve at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy these almond cream puffs as much as my family does.

Linked to: The Shabby Nest, Chic on a  Shoestring, Beyond the Picket Fence, Fingerprints on the Fridge, {Primp}

Chocolate Mousse Filled Strawberries

Within the next week or so, North America will be going a wee bit nutty with parties and fireworks as we Canadians celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, followed by our neighbours to the south celebrating their nation’s birthday on the 4th.

Given the number of BBQ’s and picnics one may get invited to over the next few days I thought I’d try my hand at a little festive treat that’s pretty easy to make, sweet, and tasty.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Strawberries

  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate Mousse
  • White Chocolate *
  • Candy melts
  1. Rinse your strawberries, and then core them as you’ll be filling them with mousse. Leave the strawberries out to air dry. (The mousse won’t stay put if the strawberry is wet)
  2. Make your mousse (I used this recipe. It makes a dark chocolate mousse which I thought would work well as the strawberries and white chocolate are quite sweet).
  3. Using a piping bag (or a plastic baggie with the corner cut off) fill your cored strawberries with mousse. I placed mine in an empty ice cube tray to ensure they stayed upright while the mouse set. Refrigerate until set.
  4. Once the mousse is set you’ll need to melt your white chocolate or candy. I used white chocolate, but I found it a little harder to work with, so I’ll use white candy melts next time.
    Carefully dip the top of your strawberry in your white candy. The heat will melt the mousse, so this may take a little trial and error or you can also use a spoon to pour the chocolate/candy on top of the strawberry. Place your strawberries on a wax-paper covered baking sheet and refrigerate until cool.
  5. The last step is decorating your culinary creation. Using candy melts in either red or blue, decorate the white part of your strawberry again with a piping bag or baggie. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Happy Canada Day – Eh!

Happy July 4th!

Linked to: Chic on a Shoestring, Fingerprints on the Fridge, The Shabby Nest, Addicted 2 Decorating, Polish the Stars