Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Deco Mesh Obsessed

A few months ago I decided to make a wreath using Deco Mesh. I've seen the mesh everywhere so I decided to see what all the fuss was about!

The great thing about Deco Mesh is that it holds its shape and can withstand the outdoor elements  - rain and sun. (No fading!)

So I started making a Fall wreath. I used a 21'' Poly Mesh roll of brown and orange stripe and a 10'' roll of gold.  For my first wreath I used a Styrofoam wreath and floral pins to attach the mesh.  I used some olive green ribbon for bows and a few fall picks to decorate the wreath.

I also added a string of battery powered lights. I think my first Deco Mesh wreath turned out nice. Using the styrofiam wreath I had to use more mesh to cover it and make it look full. I decided to keep researching to find a better/easier way to make things with Deco Mesh. 

I found the Mardi Gras Outlet's online videos which inspired me to make a Christmas wreath and garland.

Here is the wreath How-to Video - 

And the garland How-to Video -

The secret to making Deco Mesh wreaths is the work wreaths and work garlands! And my Hobby Lobby has all Deco Mesh supplies on sale 50% off!

For my Christmas Wreath I used a 21" Poly Mesh roll in Red, green and white stripe, a 10" roll in green and a 2.5" red ribbon.

I used small red, green, and white ornaments as accents and a strand of white battery operated lights. I think it turned out great! I can't wait to decorate my porch for the holidays!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Best Chocolate Cake

I am not a huge fan of chocolate cake. (I prefer chocolate icing on yellow cake.) But I decided to make a chocolate cake while family was in town last week.

One of my go to blogs for recipes is The Pioneer Woman - Ree Drummond. I did a quick search and found The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. A chocolate cake that bakes in 20 minutes and I had nearly all the ingredients on hand! And with a title like that, I had to see if it really was The Best.

The cake batter has butter and lots of cocoa powder so I had a good feeling it would be tasty.  But I was hoping it would also be moist and not bitter chocolaty.

I didn't sift the flour but you might want to if you are OCD about smooth batter like I am.

The one ingredient I didn't have on hand was buttermilk, and I think it is what takes the chocolate cake to another level of yumminess!

The recipe says to use an ungreased sheet pan, but I sprayed mine before pouring the batter in.

You can see some of the lumps in the batter from not sifting the flour.

The best part about this recipe is the cake only bakes for 20 minutes!

The BEST BEST thing about this cake is the icing. It was amazing, I am surprised I didn't eat it all before the cake was done baking.

I omitted the nuts because not everyone in my family is a fan of nuts. The icing is more of a chocolate ganache/glaze. It pours over the cake beautifully. I think I will use it on other cakes I bake because it was so simple and so delicious! Again, if you are OCD about smoothness, you may want to sift the powdered sugar or use a mixer to get all the lumps out.

The icing will harden in just a few minutes. I kept my cake in the sheet tray and cut and served it right out the tray.

I can agree hands down that this is The BEST chocolate cake. Ever. It is smooth and moist, and milk chocolaty! You can even eat two slices and not feel guilty because its so thin because of the sheet tray. I will definitively make this chocolate cake again.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Everybody Makes Mistakes

We found a recipe for a Homemade Chocolate Pie in American Cowboy magazine and decided to make it. I have never eaten or made a chocolate pie before, but how hard could it be?

The recipe called for a homemade pie shell, but I decided to just use a frozen one.

*IMPORTANT TIP* When making a custard or pudding pie you must bake the pie shell first, before adding the custard or pudding. Otherwise the shell will never fully cook. 

Sadly, I learned this lesson the hard way.

I started by making the chocolate filling. Be very careful as you mix the sugar, coca, flour in the sauce pan because it will burn easily!  Make sure you are watching and stirring constantly. I would also recommend sifting the flour. I added in the cream and milk and brought the mixture to a boil.

The next step was to add the eggs to the boiling mixture. Now this recipe did not say to temper the eggs, but I did anyway and I still ended up with some scrambled eggs! After I mixed in the remaining ingredients I poured the entire mixture through a sieve to strain out the lumps.

Here is where I made the BIG mistake of pouring the chocolate filling in to a RAW pie shell. The recipe did not mention par baking the shell and I didn't know that you always par bake a shell before making a custard pie.

Needless to say, this pie was not edible because the shell was raw. :(

I made this pie again a few weeks later and decided to use a graham cracker pie shell. I thought chocolate, graham crackers and toasted marshmallow (the meringue topping) would be like a S'mores Pie!

A few comments about making the meringue. I noticed that after baking and refrigerating the pie was "sweating" out the cornstarch, sugar and cold water mixture. I don't know if it is necessary to add it, I think the meringue would be fine without it. I just put the egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar in my stand mixture and the meringue was nice and fluffy. Just be careful not to over beat.

After making the pie with the graham cracker crust we finally got to try it out! The pie is SUPER sweet but very delicious!  The meringue adds a lot of sweetness so I think it could be omitted. The chocolate pudding filling was amazing by itself!

This pie wasn't easy to make, but I learned a lot of valuable lessons that will help with other baking endeavors in the future.