12/5/19

The Best Homemade Christmas Ornament Dough

The tree is up and again this year we are doing a 'nature' theme, with cranberries and pine cones.  The only ornaments on the tree this year are some of the homemade ornaments I made on a whim a couple years ago.  They were quick and easy - and although I had ZERO plans when I started the dough, I love how they came out.

I made squares and stars; sending the stars to a family member and keeping the squares with no idea what I was going to do with them.  I decided one day to make a rustic 'reclaimed wood' look out of them as I happened to have some gray, white and black craft paints in my 'junk drawer' in the kitchen.  I had a metallic silver as well - and from that the idea for rustic, farmhouse, reclaimed wood, beach drift wood 'ideas' came to mind.

After I painted them (and loved how they turned out) I realized I had some leftover Christmas cards from the year before with a rustic looking monogram on them, so I cut those out and simply glued them to the ornament.  Adding some jute twine, I hung them on the tree and fell in love with them.

I made this batch into rustic reclaimed wood looking Christmas ornaments



Obviously you can make whatever shapes you wish!  Use your favorite cookie cutters and make Santa's, or nativity scenes, snowmen, snowflakes, reindeer... even press little hands to make handprint ornaments and tie up with a ribbon or even mold the dough into shapes!  It's SO SOFT AND EASY TO WORK WITH!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dough!  You can literally play with it as if it's play dough or soft clay so you can form any shapes you wish.  It will dry hard so be sure you add a hole to hang it by before you dry them.

This dough reminds me of  Crayola Model Magic and dries perfectly white and unlike salt dough, doesn't have salty little gritty crystals in it.  It's perfectly smooth. 


Fun Dough

1/2 c corn starch (I use Argo brand)
1 c baking soda (in the yellow bag/box)
3/4 c water

Blend the cornstarch and baking soda in a pan.  Add the water and stir to mix.  Turn the heat up to medium high and continue to stir.  It will quickly go from looking like white glue to a thick gloop and then suddenly start to come together into a dough (much like cream puff dough).  Turn off the heat as soon as it comes together and push it out onto a flat surface (like a cutting board) to gently start to press it together (*it's hot) to a dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it set and cool a little bit.  The plastic wrap keeps the moisture in so it doesn't start to dry out.  After about 5-10 minutes when it's cooled down to work with it a little bit, start to push and pull and knead it back over itself.  When it's completely smooth and feels like a soft play dough, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and let it cool completely for little hands to play with or you can start to use it right away.

Roll it out on a cutting board, silpat, etc. and cut into the shapes you wish.  Use a straw or small round implement to make a hole if you are going to hang them later.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 170 degree oven approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on how thick and large you made your shapes.  Or you can let them set to air dry - although you will need to let them dry about 2 days and even longer if they are thick balls, sculptures or if you live where there is high humidity levels.  (My oven is a digital and the lowest setting it can go to is 170.  That is how I came up with that figure.)  Carefully turn your ornaments over (flip them) about half way through the baking time as the parchment paper under them traps moisture.  This dries both sides.  I placed mine on a wire cookie cooling rack for the last 10 minutes of baking but you don't have to do that.  I did a second batch and air dried completely on a wire cookie cooling rack.

When completely dry, paint them if you wish or glue baubles on it, glitter, etc. String a ribbon or string them to hang or finish however you wish!  If you drop it on the floor they will probably break, but just painting them, etc. is no problem as they are not fragile as long as you are not pressing hard, dropping, etc.





The cornstarch and baking soda in the pan

Adding the water and starting to stir, it resembles white glue

The heat starts to turn it to gloop

It quickly comes to a dough - place it on a heat safe surface and quickly press the hot dough to a ball shape

Cover with plastic wrap and let it cool until you can handle it

Use whatever cookie cutter shapes you wish - have a small utensil to make holes for hanging

Knead it a few times to get it smooth

Roll out as thick or thin as you wish - just like cookie dough

Cut whatever shapes you wish







Don't forget to add holes before baking if you wish to hang them later!

Ready to go into the oven

All finished baking!  Just let them cool completely and decorate as you wish
Painted to look like rustic old wood (before I decided to add a monogram)

Here is a shot of the back of the ornament - I just left them unfinished. There was no need to do both sides.








Related products available through Amazon affiliate links;
Crayola Model Magic
Wilton Snowflake 7-Piece Cookie Cutter Set
Acrylic paint 12 Set by Crafts 4 All For Paper,canvas,wood,ceramic,fabric & crafts.Non toxic & Vibrant colors. Rich Pigments With Lasting Quality - For Beginners, Students
Crayola; Acrylic Paint; Art Tools; 6 2-Ounce Bottles; Assorted Bright, Bold Colors
Wilton Holiday 18 pc Metal Cookie Cutter Set, 2308-1132
Wilton Holiday Grippy Cookie Cutters, Set of 4


    

      






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11/28/19

From Instagram: Thanksgiving Day Pies


If you saw these on my Instagram... well, God bless ya, because Instagram started shadow banning me over a month ago - (why? I have absolutely no idea and apparently they have a whole hidden list of rules that they don't show anyone... normal, everyday hashtags that if you use, automatically send you to the shadow land, and when they do... they don't even have the balls to tell you they did it.  You have no idea until you realize you suddenly are down in views and only the people who already follow you can see what you post).  So... again, God Bless Ya!  Because I've reached out to them and so far... silence. I keep hoping I'll magically be back in their good graces, but I'm a conservative, Catholic Mom who bakes cookies so I don't think they like me much.



Today is actually Thanksgiving and yes, I'm making a full traditional Thanksgiving meal, but if you have the pies done, the turkey and stuffing is in the oven and the side dishes are prepped, you really do have a good amount of down time until it gets a bit crazy bringing it all together the last 30 minutes or so. 

I'm here sipping coffee and getting ready to go mash the potatoes, add some things to them and then pop them into the crock pot to keep warm until mealtime.  Thought I'd pop in long enough to post my Instagram photos here - and remind everyone that the recipes are all on my site; just do a search for the item use the labels in the sidebar.  (There is a Thanksgiving label too!  It has 144 posts right now - just scroll through, and don't forget to hit 'older posts' to continue to the next page of search results.) 

You'll find my pie crust recipe, homemade bread and rolls, mini Thanksgiving Dinner Cupcakes that look like turkey and gravy but are really cupcakes, frosting and candy), our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, pecan pies, pumpkin pies, chocolate pies and more... as well as Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, Homemade Gravy, Stuffing and, well, you get the idea.

I've been posting on An American Housewife since 2006 so it's all there.











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11/23/19

From my Instagram Today - Artisan Bread









If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen this (below) photo posted today.  


 I've been battling what seems to be 3 different back-to-back colds for over a month now (the first wasn't a big deal, mostly just a cough, the second one following it was a little worse and then my husband returned from a business trip with a whopper of a nasty cold and was more than happy to share it with me... ha ha) so in regards to our normal low carb keto way of eating?  Nope.  We still mostly do low carb and of course, sugar free (always sugar free) but the carbs have been more Atkins maintenance than anything else. 

However, this cold coupled with the rainy, wet, dreary and gray last few days has me just wanting homemade bread.  Although I could easily make one of my regular bread recipes or even just make my 'classic' easy bread dough in the bread machine with no work on my part (all those recipes are posted numerous times already on An American Housewife - just use the search engine) I really wanted a thick, chewy, artisan bread.  The kind with a chewy, crunchy crust, but a thick, chewy center to either slather with butter and eat hot, toast under the broiler for a couple minutes or use to dip into a thick, rich, hot soup for dinner.

That kind of bread.

But I still needed it to be rather easy and no work because this cold has my head killing me with a massive headache, a hacking cough and I'm just so so so worn out I don't have the energy to babysit a dough.  

With that in mind, I turned to one of my favorite recipes that I don't get to make often since we normally are eating low carb or keto.   
This artisan bread recipe I've posted a couple times before, that uses just a couple ingredients, you mix, but don't knead, toss into a bucket or bowl with a lid and forget about for a couple hours.  Then you take it out, cut some off to use, form a round, let it sit there for 40 minutes and bake in a hot oven with some steam to form the chewy crust.  (The part I'm craving!).
I'm just going to cut and paste the recipe from a previous posting but I'm going to add a note here.  The recipe as original is not necessarily a tasty sweet bread or even as sweet as you might be used to because it uses zero sugar. Yep, zero.  Not even to feed the yeast.  So I add some sugar-free honey to my water/yeast/salt mixture just to give it a little bit of flavor.  

This bread also don't save well for a 2nd or 3rd day (I personally don't think) but the cool thing about this recipe is that you can pop your bucket or bowl into the refrigerator after the initial 2 hour raising/falling and use it over the next 10-14 days.  You can get about 4 - 1 lb. loaves from it. Just reach in, cut off a piece of dough, toss it on a floured surface and form a round, let it rest 40 minutes and bake.  So you can be making fresh rounds from it from the refrigerator and don't have to worry about leftover bread.


Artisan Bread

1 ½ T yeast
1 ½ T salt
3 c water, lukewarm
6 ½ c flour
cornmeal
flour
Baking/Pizza Stone

Dump yeast, salt and water into a large bowl, bucket or container.
Add flour.
Mix with a wooden spoon just until the flour is incorporated. No dry flour, no lumps.
Put a loose lid on or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Not air tight.  Let set at room temperature about 2 hours.
Sprinkle bit of flour so your fingers don’t stick. Cut off grapefruit sized piece with serrated knife.
Work in your hands to make a ball, pulling top layer to bottom.  Round and smooth.
Place on cornmeal sprinkled board.
Let set 40 minutes.
Sprinkle with flour, slash the loaf with a few slices.
Bake at 375 preheated oven with an empty pan in the bottom.
Slide on middle shelf baking stone.
Pour a cup of water in the hot empty pan and close door quickly to steam the bread.
Baked till top is golden brown - about 20-25 minutes.
Hard crust and moist, soft bread!

NOTE:  This bread is best served fresh.
I like it warm and eaten the first day.
I personally don't think it 'saves' well the second or third day because the texture changes.
I'd use it for croutons, cube & save for Thanksgiving stuffing, or process for bread crumbs and freeze any leftovers after the 2nd day. That's just my personal opinion though.

Mix it with a wooden spoon

Let it rise and do it's thing

It's ready!

Pull it out and prepare your bread rounds

Small or large - it's up to you! Just chop or pull some dough and form. No kneading.

Ready for the oven!

Crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside. Love this bread with soup!




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