Homemade Salt Dough Ornaments: (Update to my "not" salt dough Christmas ornaments) - LOVE this dough!

ORIGINAL POST - with 'recipe' from August, 2017

Christmas in August!?  Yes... Christmas ornaments that is!

This morning I had the urge to make Christmas ornaments.  The kind you make with a simple dough, roll and cut out and then bake dry and paint.  I have no idea where this urge came from other than it's been a pretty stressful and busy past two months and I haven't done anything 'fun' since... I don't remember when.  I have done another dough ornament post on An American Housewife, back in 2007 I think (?).  It featured some ornaments I had made 10 years earlier with the traditional salt dough for the ornaments.  I still have those ornaments and they are now 20 years old.  This particular dough today is a softer, non-grainy, pure white dough.  But both (either/or) doughs work well for ornaments.  You can find the other recipe by typing ornament in the search box to your right.

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


Spur of the moment decision to 'finish' these today.
Using what I had in the house already, I found some random little bottles of craft paint in the junk drawer and a pack of cheap paintbrushes I bought at the dollar store last week.

Without any plan in mind I just started painting stripes of random paint in shades of black, white, gray, silver, beige and bronze.

Had I gone to buy paint for this project I'm sure I would have chosen matte colors; as it was my silver and bronze were both metallic.  But it worked just fine.

Winging it....

Last years Christmas cards had a letter "B" on them (our last name starts with a B) and I had some extra leftover cards so before I threw them away I had snipped out the monogram and threw them into the envelope thinking 'maybe' I'd use them, maybe not.  

I did.

I just put a blob of modge podge on the ornament and squished it down a bit to attach it.


Finished with a simple piece of twine - which is the only thing I had on hand in the junk drawer, but happens to have worked out perfectly with the 'weathered wood' look of the dough ornaments.   These will look great on our rustic, natural decor themed Christmas tree this year.

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Cheesy Faux Pasta Bake - Cottage Cheese and Sour Cream Noodles Redone Lower Carb

Faux Cottage Cheese and Noodles - lower carb

1 - 7 oz. pk Pasta Zero or other Shirataki Noodle (optional: or just use more zucchini instead)
2 medium zucchini - spiralized (or use all Shirataki or Pasta Zero noodles)
2 cups mild cheddar cheese
1 c sour cream
1 c cottage cheese
2 oz. cream cheese
2 T butter
1 egg
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray your pan with cooking spray - a 9X13 pan works well.  Spiralize your zucchini into 'noodles' - I cut each zucchini into 3 chunks and spiralized those individually so the strands aren't quite as long.  Boil the shirataki noodles for 2 minutes in the microwave and then rinse under water for 1-2 minutes.  Drain.  Mix the cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese and cubed cream cheese.  Add melted butter, salt and pepper.  Mix and add the zucchini noodles and shirataki noodles.  Pour into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with a little more cheese on top if you wish.  Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking about 15-20 minutes until it's bubbling, hot and golden on top.  Let cool 10 minutes to set up a bit before serving.

The two ingredients that inspired this for dinner:  USING UP COTTAGE CHEESE AND SOUR CREAM

If you don't have a spiralizer (link below) you can just julienne or cut your zucchini into small pieces - or use all Shirataki Noodles instead

Shirataki noodles - boiled for 2 minutes in the microwave and rinsed and drained

I mixed the two together, placed them into the pan and put the cheese mixture on top - OR you can mix it in.  Either way.

Ready for the oven - top with foil, bake half the time, remove the foil and finish baking golden brown.

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Homemade Artisan Bread: Chewy and hearty - only 4 ingredients and no kneading!

I LOVE this recipe.  Only 4 main ingredients and you can mix it up with a wooden spoon in a bowl or bucket.  No kneading.  No fuss.  


Artisan Bread

1 ½ T yeast
1 ½ T salt
3 c water, lukewarm
6 ½ c 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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Homemade Strawberry & Rhubarb Pie (using frozen fruit)

Strawberry & Rhubarb Pie

3 c frozen rhubarb pieces (the whole bag)
3 c frozen strawberries, whole (the whole bag)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c flour (I used this in addition to the corn starch since it was frozen fruit)
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/2 t lemon juice
1/2 t vanilla
egg white

Mix all but the egg white and extra sugar into a bowl.  Stir and blend well.  Pour into a prepared deep dish pie crust.  You can choose to prick it ahead of time and brush with a beaten egg white or not.  Totally up to you.  Fill the pie crust and use an additional bit of pie crust dough or a second frozen pie crust to roll out on a lightly floured surface.

Cut strips about 3/4 of an inch wide.  Use these to make a lattice top on your pie OR use the 2nd crust to cover the fruit filling without bothering with a lattice.  Seal the edges in your favorite way (finger seal or fork). Place the pie on a baking sheet (foil lined baking sheet if you hate scrubbing pans like I do!)  Beat the egg white with about a teaspoon of water and brush it on the top and sides of your pie and then sprinkle with a bit of sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 1 1/2 hours.  Turn off oven and let it sit in the hot oven for another 15 minutes if you feel it needs a bit more time.  Remove and cool completely before slicing.

The fruit, sugars and spices all mixed in a bowl

I pricked and brushed the bottom crust but it's totally optional

After filling the pie dish, either top with a second crust or cut strips to make a lattice crust

Trim if you have excess on the edges

Seal either with fingers or fork.  I had extra dough so I laid a small rope around the entire edge and pressed it down and then sealed.

Brush the top with beaten egg white and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar

Cool completely before slicing so it's allowed to 'set up' - you can also chill it or just let it set out on the counter until the next day before slicing so it will set up nice.  When  a fruit pie is sliced too soon or when warm, it's quite liquidy.  Not a bad thing at all - especially if you serve the pie with ice cream!

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The most perfect sugar cookie

This is not a roll and cut out dough; this is one you form a ball, squash it a bit with the bottom of a glass or your hand, and sprinkle with sugar or wait and leave blank to add a swirl of frosting later.  You could make it into a cut out dough though by adding about 1/2 cup more flour and chilling the dough before rolling out on a floured surface and cutting them.

The most perfect sugar cookie

1/2 c real butter
1/2 c Crisco brand shortening
1 1/2 c Morena Pure Cane Sugar
2 eggs
2 t Watkins Original Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cream of tartar
1/4 t baking powder

Cream the butter, shortening, sugar and eggs till fluffy.  Add the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients and beat until until blended, scrape down the sides when needed.  If it's really sticky you could add a little more flour by tablespoons but don't get too much flour in there or your cookies will be too cakey.

Form balls about 1 1/2 inches and place on a baking sheet.  Flatten the tops with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, or use your hand.  Sprinkle with additional sugars or sprinkles or leave plain.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool on pan about 1 minute before removing from pan to cool completely.

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