Red, White, and Blue Shortbread Cookies

Anyone from the Chicagoland area remember the Ray Raynor Show? It was a delightful show for children way back when, And it had valuable lessons.

My favorite memories are of his cooking a Thanksgiving turkey and when he showed craft projects for the kids. What made it so special? And hilarious? He always managed to mess up in some way. He would start off with a golden brown turkey or a pretty Mother’s Day craft. And whether it was trying to stuff the turkey upside down or adding too much glue to the craft project and ending up with a gooey mess, he entertained and gave good messages.

One might think at first glance “what is the lesson in that?”

He allowed children to be children. To let them know that it’s okay if something doesn’t come out just “perfect”. He got down to their level. It seemed to me to be a show for adults as well as the children.

What does that have to do with Red, White, and Blue Shortbread Cookies? Well, I thought of the Ray Raynor show several times while making the cookies. I just kept running into snags. They were delicious but the recipe didn’t exactly cooperate. Partly my fault.

It called for an 8×8 square glass pan. I didn’t have one so I increased the recipe by half again and put it in an 8×11 glass pan. The only real problem with that actually is the rounded corners. The cookies weren’t exactly squared off.

I was short 1/4C sugar so I added some Equal. That was no big deal.

They baked well. It took a little longer, of course, because of the change in pans and quantity of the dough, but that was okay too.

Then it came to the dipping the cookies in the chocolate and adding the sprinkles. It’s possible I bought the wrong chocolate, although none of the chocolate was listed as dipping chocolate. At any rate, I had a mess, I had chocolate dripping everywhere and so when I needed to add the sprinkles before the chocolate hardened, I ended up with sprinkles everywhere as well.

I had to chuckle and thought of Ray Raynor. Thank you Ray.

I have added a link to the original cookie recipe that I found on Pinterest. I do hope you will give them a try and learn from my mistakes. And if they don’t end up “perfect” give a smile and a nod to the Ray Raynor Show.

Have a great week!
Doris

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The Best Ever Chicken and Dumplings!

CAUTION! Maybe I should put a disclaimer here. This is by no means a dieting recipe. It is a good hearty meal that goes over well all year round.

Every time I have asked my son Chuck what he would like for his birthday he always says Chicken and Dumplings. And now it is passing down to my grandson.

This is a chicken meal I came up with years ago when trying to create a different (for me anyway) way to serve chicken. It remains to be one of the more economical meals to feed a family.

It’s funny, I didn’t realize how endearing this recipe is to me. I hesitated posting on it because I wasn’t sure I wanted to share it. But here we are!

Whereas in the beginning I would buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself, now I purchase breasts, legs, and a few thighs already cut up. These are the pieces that are the main favorites.

Now, unfortunately, the chicken needs to have the skin on. I have tried using skinless and boneless and it just isn’t the same. However, if you start out using boneless and skinless chicken your family may not notice the difference. The gravy will still get you in the calorie count though.

I trim off any excess fat that I can before frying the chicken. I fry it in a little vegetable oil until it is browned. Then I drain off any grease that I can.

The pan gets put back on the stove with medium heat and I add enough water until it reaches about a half inch from the top. I’m old fashioned in that I still use boullion cubes, adding 8-10 of them to the simmering chicken. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a good 20 minutes, checking it to make sure it isn’t sticking and that the cubes are dissolving.

Also, at this time I add dry mustard. Now I know that may sound a little odd and I don’t remember what possessed me years ago to add it, but it works. It just punches up the flavor. I use a heaping tablespoon for a 12-14 inch pan’s worth. Salt and pepper also get added to taste. I also tend to add a little garlic powder here.

After checking the chicken for doneness I remove it and place it in a bowl nearby. Using a whisk, I stir the gravy to loosen anything stuck to the pan getting it ready to thicken. I use cornstarch but you can use whatever you like to create a good thick gravy. About a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water added to it first should thicken it properly. If not, repeat.

When it is good and thick add the chicken back to the pan, letting it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

It can be served from the stove or put in a large dish for the table.

The dumplings? Well, the recipe I use is one handed down to me from my childrens’ grandmother. She played an important role in my life. I would need to ask her family if it would be okay to broadcast her recipe. Any good dumpling recipe will work. Or mashed potatoes. Also, something that I have begun to use for another dish is frozen egg noodles. When cooked they taste similar to dumplings and are very much like homemade noodles.

Enjoy!
D.

Fresh Ideas


For about the past nine months I have had a lot of time to think about projects, new ventures and the like. I have had this time due to the fact that I have been laid up for a good part of it recuperating from 2 surgeries. The first one was from a torn muscle in my knee. That began on Memorial Day of last year culminating in surgery to repair it in August. I was able to work sporadically during this time. After 6 weeks of recuperation I went back to work full time only to develop an even larger tear (tears) in a muscle in my hip. Surgery was 2 weeks later and I am finishing up a 3-6 month recuperation from that. Hopefully I will be back to full time in a few weeks.

The knee was a relatively easy fix but the hip has been quite an ordeal. It has given me time to re-evaluate some things.

I have missed coming here and sharing thoughts, ideas, projects and recipes. So I am adding that back into my life. I will continue my painting business, allowing it to naturally slow down. Thinking over the past 2 years with design elements changing course the main thrust of the business has been painted furniture and doing faux metallic ceilings. The ceilings, by the way, fit in quite well with the current design trend. There is always a call for murals now and again seeing as they are customized to the needs of a client. I say this knowing that I am in the beginning stages of a large project where creating a Tuscan look in a kitchen is one part of it. Hoping to post on that as the project progresses.

A couple of years ago I picked up knitting in order to keep my hands busy while quitting smoking. It helped tremendously! It will be 4 years this summer. It can be done! The thing with knitting is that for the most part you need to stay focused and there is a lot of counting involved so your mind isn’t dwelling on things.

I have come a long way with the knitting and feel like I am on a journey with it. I started off with the basics….hats, gloves, scarves. I also had some disasters trying projects that I just wasn’t ready for. But like I said, it is a journey. I now sell knitted items in my etsy shop (dcartwork.etsy.com). Also, something that I am a little proud of, I started creating my own patterns and have them for sale as well. They are also on ravelry.com and craftsy.com. The patterns are geared toward beginners for now but I look forward to when I am able to create some more elaborate pieces.

My goal here is to share ideas etc. I do mean share – I would love to see some of what you are up to. I have a few projects in mind to finish and showcase here. Like the velvet chair I started pulling apart in order to recover and update it. It felt daunting at the time when I pulled some fabric off only to find a gazillion (is that even a word) staples. I now have a plan in mind to deal with that.
Here is a before and after shot of dining room chairs that I painted for a client:

I also came up with new recipes to pass along as well. Well, one isn’t really new to us but I think you will love it.

I hope you all have stayed safe with the crazy weather that has been happening across the country. We have been lucky right here but there sure has been issues around us.

Have a good day!
Doris

Faux Finishing 101

Glaze

Good morning! Today I thought I would chat about water base glazes that are used for faux finishing. Maybe you have been wanting to try your hand at it, maybe you would like to understand what your professional faux painter is talking about, or maybe you are just interested in the process. Whatever your reasons are, I hope that you will find this interesting and helpful.

I specified water base glazes because there are some decorative artists still out there that prefer to work in oils. Water based paints and mediums have come a long way, therefore I prefer working with them over oil based paint. There are several different brands of glazes, the two that I prefer are:

Dutch Boy Dimensions Technique Glaze (available at Menards)
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and

Faux Effects Aqua Creme (available at most fine paint stores)
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So what is the difference? Cost and dry time. The Dutch Boy Technique Glaze is about $30.00 a gallon and the dry time is a little longer than for paint, thus giving you a little time to move and work the paint. I use it mostly for Old World Washes. BTW, the Technique Glaze is really the only Dutch Boy product that I use. The Faux Effects Aqua Creme gives about an extra hour to move paint which is quite a benefit when creating specific finishes. I use it mostly for Colorwashes and when glazing furniture. However, you pay for the extended dry time. Aqua Creme runs about $28.00 a quart. A little does go a long way though.

There is another difference. The Dutch Boy product has a bit of a sheen to it when it dries. The Faux Effects does not, it dries fairly flat. That doesn’t matter really when you are working on something that will end up varnished.

Below are a few sample boards that I have created for a client and will be delivering tomorrow. The first one is an Old World Wash…
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it has what we call “movement” to it.

The other is a colorwash done with Aqua Creme…
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It has a more even feel to the overall look.

I am also making a sample to paint their kitchen island. What I have found best is to get a piece of moulding (this one I got from Home Depot, where they sell it by the foot), and paint it as I would the piece to be finished. On this one you may be able to see how I used different strengths of glaze over it, in order to create the right look for their kitchen. I prefer to use the Aqua Creme glaze on furniture myself. I like to be able to work the glaze a little longer in order to have the correct amount staying in the grooves and corners.
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So, I hope this has been informative and maybe even inspiring. If you have any questions or concerns about a current or future project I would be happy to answer them. And, who knows, maybe you will want to try your hand at a new project during these winter months.

I hope that your day is filled with sunshine!