Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wine Cork Pumpkins

I had a friend recently invite me over for lunch. Not only was there yummy food when I arrived, but a surprise craft she had been dying to try. I walked in and in front of me was a table full of autumn leaves, wine corks, hot glue guns, stamps, ink pads, and crafts supplies as far as the eye could see! I was in heaven! There could have easily been a heavenly autumn light shining down from above onto the table with crafty angel voices singing... does this lady know my love language or what?  She wanted to make wine cork pumpkins!

Wine cork pumpkins are a perfect little addition to your autumn/harvest decor
My friend let me know she had been dutifully drinking wine (for several years I hope, as she had THREE gallon sized bags of corks) and tucking the corks away for just such an occasion.

Leaves, and corks, and glue guns, oh my!
There were many to choose from.  The red wine corks had nice shades of purple, some pink, some brown on the tips of the cork.  The white wine corks had stayed their original light tan color.  We separated the corks into two piles, the red wine and the white.  

If you love wine and crafts, this wine cork pumpkin is right up your alley!
We were using some pictures off Pinterest for our inspiration, as some looked a bit pentagonal (angular instead of round edges) and we picked out one that had a more rounded look using the following pattern:

5 corks in a row
6 corks
7 corks
7 corks
6 corks
5 corks

I picked out an array of corks with different colors.  She had some stamp pads in plum and orange colors to help "enhance" any of the corks that needed an extra splash of a harvest color tint of our choosing.  I lined up my first row of five and simply started using a line of hot glue to connect the corks to each other.
I tried to pick a good mix of reds, purples, natural, and then one "enhanced orange" using the stamp pad
The glue gun makes fast work of the stacking.  Now onto row two which has six corks.  

Mixing up the colors a bit so it makes a random pattern of different fall shades
Rows 3 & 4 are seven corks long.  I sort of laid them out in front of the project to continue that "random" pattern where the same color isn't next to itself, but to mix and match all the shades throughout the same row, and not lined up with the color in the row below it.  It's like wine cork Sudoku.

When gluing between two corks I ran two lines of hot glue, one on each cork below for better adhesion
The interesting thing here is, the first three rows interlock with each other each time you add a new row, however the second row of seven is actually stacked directly on top of the row below it.  This will give you a more rounded pumpkin in the end, but be sure to use corks around the same size so they don't throw off your row height.

I love how the different shades are working out here, some light, some dark, some purple, some orange
The next row is back to six corks. I am not only gluing the new cork to the two corks below it, but a third line of glue to stick to the cork next to it.

Almost done with our cork pumpkin!
The final row is the same as the first with five corks.

It's turned out very cute!
Now, you get to gussy it up with some finishing touches. I chose an exceptionally cute cork without any blemishes to be the "stem" of my pumpkin. We also glued some realistic plastic fall leaves she had (branches from the dollar store).  A few of the branches had little acorns on them, so I thought that made a nice little touch.

Wine cork pumpkins could become all the rage
For a last little topper she surprised me by pulling out some raffia ribbon (looks like straw ribbon) that helped give it a rustic, yet finished the look.

The finished wine cork pumpkin!
Here was her finished design:

So adorable!  I love the yellow leaf here it looks very real, plus her stem has a top that looks great
We decided to try them out on a shelf she already had.  They went really well with her existing decor. 
Wine cork pumpkins in their natural habitat....
This was such a fun little project to do over a lunch visit! They would make a great little display for your entry table or fire place.  Make a set in different sizes, and display together. It could also be a cute little gift for a friend or a thank you give for a hostess.

I put mine right on the entry table as soon as I got home, and it fit right it.

Wine cork pumpkins rock.
So get some friends together, drink copious amounts of wine (or start saving up your corks from now on) and do a little craft project together. Bringing the world closer one craft at a time!


Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Stakehouse Molasses Bread

I've finally found it!  You know that tasty, craveable, slightly sweet, dark, molasses bread that comes with your meal at steakhouses around the country?  Well, I've been trying to make it at home.  I've tried multiple recipes online and haven't been satisfied with the results, until last night. I have finally found one that works great! The bread is beautiful, soft, and flavorful!  It has a great texture and is best served warm from the oven and slathered with butter!

Steakhouse Molasses bread!  Soft, sweet, and hot from the oven.
Let's get started.  This recipe by the way was found at "It's always Autumn"
You will need

1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 3/4 cup of wheat flour
1 egg
2 Tablespoons of butter, room temp
2 Tablespoons of molasses
1/4 cup of honey 
2 cups of bread flour (can also use AP flour)
1 Tablespoon natural baking cocoa
1 teaspoon of salt 

Optional:  1 egg for an egg wash, and quick oats for a pretty topping 
Printable recipe found here: Click me!

First put 1 cup of warm water, 1 Tablespoon of dry active yeast, and 1 Tablespoon of sugar into your stand mixer. 

I'll admit, this looks a tad gross.  Like I need a lab coat and a beaker to proceed.
Let it "proof" for 10 minutes, (or sit around until bubbly and foamy).

Ah that's better... I think
Add in 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 egg, 2 Tablespoons of room temperature butter, 2 Tablespoons of molasses and 1/4 cup of honey.

I finally found a "molasses bread" that actually uses real molasses!
Once combined a little bit, add in 1 cup of the bread flour (we just used regular AP unbleached flour), 1 Tablespoon of baking cocoa power, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Turn the mixer on low (with the bread paddle).

It's the unsweetened cocoa power that gives this bread it's darker hue, but luckily not a chocolate flavor at all.
Mix the dough together a bit, then add in the last 1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour.  I ended up using the whole remaining 1 cup.  Kneed the dough for 10 min on low, until the dough ball pulls away from the sides. The dough should be soft and elastic. Pull the dough out and roll it into a ball, place in a bowl where it can rise for 60-90 min, covered and in a warm place.

Pretty lil' dough ball
After 90 minutes (we did the full time recommended) we peeked under the tea towel and found it had doubled in size.

Hello big ol' bread lump!
We decided to split the dough in half, to make two long loaves, because my hubby gave me this handy dandy french bread loaf pan, that makes two loaves at the same time (and helps the loaves keep their shape instead of flattening out like they would on a regular cookie sheet).

Just sort of stretched and gently pulled the dough into a long tubular shape

Then your bread needs to rise a 2nd time for an hour. In a non-drafty place.

You really have to be patient to make yummy bread.
After an hour the bread has started to fill out the loaf pan.  Since I wanted this to look and taste like the bread you get at the Blank Angus Restaurant around these parts, I brushed the top of the loaves with an egg wash

action shot

Then sprinkle on some of those quick oats and they will stick to the egg wash.

Look how pretty!  Now it looks like a longer version of the round rolls you share at the restaurant
Bake the bread at 350ยบ for 27-30 min. By the time these are ready to come out of the oven, your house will smell amazing!

Activate smell-o-vision here
You can let the bread cool all the way, or if you're like me and can't resist, cool it just a little and try to cut a slice while it's still warm so it will melt the butter.

Our hopes were high at this point.  It looked great... it smelled great... but would it taste great?

My hubby surprised us with some fancy Kerry Gold Irish butter, he had been saving for just such an occasion. The bread was still warm enough to start slowly melting the butter... YUM.

Steakhouse Molasses Bread, warm from the oven
We served this with some slow cooker loaded baked potato soup and green salad with garlic butter croutons.

Feast your eyes on all that delectable goodness!

I have to thank Autumn for this recipe that turned out fantastic!  It's soft, it's got a great texture, it smells fabulous... AND it tastes amazing.  It's the closest I've ever come to that yummy restaurant bread at home. 

You're gonna want to make this!

This would go great with a number of warm soups you make this fall and winter, but I will admit, it also tasted delicious toasted up in the morning for a hearty little breakfast treat.  So look no further, I've done all the searching for you.  Make this molassess bread and you won't regret it!


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