Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Make Pumpkins from Sweaters- A Tutorial on Sweater Pumpkins

 How to make Darling Sweater Pumpkins
    Here's one to pin!
 

I've been spending some time on Pinterest, it's dangerous. I usually set a timer so I don't get lost there for hours browsing all of the amazing ideas. I was looking for some fall decor ideas and found lots of pictures of these darling pumpkins made from sweaters. I couldn't resist making a few. A quick trip to the Salvation Army store and Hobby Lobby and I was set. I paid $4.10 for 3 sweaters, $1.99 for the stuffing and $3.99 for the twine.

I learned a few things along the way though so here are step by step instructions on how to make them with my tips I learned the hard way through trial and error.

Here's what you'll need:

    Pullover Sweaters- (XL Men's sweaters give you the most material to work with)- I found the heavier knits are more forgiving in terms of not showing lumps and bumps from the stuffing as easily. See orange pumpkin at botto
m of page!
    Stuffing: I used a bag of loose poly-fill stuffing and also some old quilt batting. I also used the scraps of the sweaters that I wasn't using for pumpkins as stuffing.
    Twine, string, dental floss, or even a heavy elastic band to close up the bottom.
    Natural Jute 3 ply twine. I used this kind.
    Sissors
    Glue Gun

Steps:

  • Find the parts of the sweater you'd like to use. The sleeves are really easy and you can get one larger and one small pumpkin from each sleeve, if you are careful. You can use the front and back as well. I cut a square from the front and a square from the back and sewed that square into a tube with my sewing machine. You can also use a glue gun. Fold the square in half, right sides together and run a line of glue down the edge to seal them together. 

  • Take the Jute and measure out 5 pieces that are about 2 to 3 times the length of the piece of sweater you are using.  Tie one end of these 5 pieces together in a knot, to hold them together.
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  • Turn the piece of sweater inside out so the seams are facing out.



  • Thread the pieces of Jute through the tube with the knot coming out what will be the bottom end of the pumpkin (the wider end).

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  • Take your twine or elastic band and tie the bottom of the tube very tightly. The Jute will be coming out of the center. I tie a knot then wrap the twine around then tie another knot.

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  • Turn the tube right side out.

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  • Time to stuff!!!  As you stuff, you have to pull the knot up through the center to the height you will want the pumpkin to be, you'll see why in a minute. Stuff the pumpkin around the outside of the Jute. Here you can see I used some of the stuffing and some of the sweater scraps. I kept the stuffing on the outside and the sweater scraps on the inside, so it was smooth and un-lumpy.

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  • Once it's stuffed as much as you want, it's time to close up the top. Here's the SECRET!! You have to have the knot come up through where you tie it at the top. I grabbed the top with the knot above my hand then pulled the bottom strings to get the knot exactly where I wanted it to be deep at the base of the neck.

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  • The knot is the key to having it look like a pumpkin! The first few ones I made I didn't have the knot above where I was tying the neck and the pumpkins didn't look like a pumpkin. See the difference? The advantage of a tutorial- I make the mistakes and figure it out so you don't have to!!!!

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  • While holding the neck under the knot pull the ends so it's nice and tight.

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  • Take one of the jute strands and come up the side and wrap it around the neck. I threaded the end under the jute coming up and pull it tight to anchor. Pull it tight so that it pulls the side in a bit and pulls the knot down.

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  • Repeat with each of the 5 jute strands.

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  • Put a dot of glue where each string crosses itself.

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  • Begin to wrap the jute strands around the neck.  On some I just tied them into a knot and left the ends hanging down. On some I took the 5 pieces, lined them up and used them to wrap the stem all the way up to the top.

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  • Once you've got the ends where you want them glue into place and trim the ends.

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  •  Trim the sweater to the style that you want. On some I wrapped up and inch or so and then left the top of the sweater lose and sticking up.  On a couple of the white ones in the photo, I trimmed the top even with the jute. You can do it any way you want.  You can also shape it, squeeze to make it taller and skinnier or push down and flatten to make it more short and squat. 

  • How to make a sweater pumpkin!
    I hope you enjoy making your sweater pumpkins!

    Friday, September 6, 2013

    Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Almond Coconut Milk and Fresh Peaches that's Gluten Free!

    Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Fresh Peaches that's Gluten Free from Buttercream Lane and Fact Woman
    Panna Cotta is one of those desserts that sounds much harder to make than it is. Once I discovered how easy it was to make, I make it often. It really only takes about 4-5 minutes to whip together and then an hour or so to chill. I came up with this recipe when I wanted something a little different that I could make for a dessert but also eat for breakfast and not feel guilty! I used a combination of Nonfat Greek yogurt and almond coconut milk as the base. It turned out thick and rich and delicious and guilt free.

    I feel so blessed to live in Colorado, especially during the summer peach season. This year, because of a late freeze, the peaches are harder to get than a good night's sleep but when you can get your hands on them, it's worth the effort. They're the kind of peaches that when you cut or bite into them, the juice just flows out and the perfumed scent fills the room. They are so sweet and so delicious! Just writing about them is making me want to go cut another one but I have to pace myself so I can extend this batch of them. I decided to chop some up to put into this batch and I was not disappointed. If you don't like peaches you can use almost any fruit except fresh pineapple or fresh papaya- their enzymes will prevent the mix from setting up. 


    Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Fresh Peaches from Buttercream Lane and Fact Woman

    You can make it in small jars like I did and just eat it out of the jar, or you can make it in small ramekins that you can un-mold onto a plate. You can also make it in a regular 8-9" round cake pan and un-mold that onto a large plate to serve. I just like eating it out of my cute Weck jars plus I didn't feel like un-molding anything!  If you want to un-mold it- Lightly grease the inside of your pans/ ramekins so that the panna cotta will come out easier. I also get a bowl of hot water and hold the mold in the water for a few seconds to loosen it before un-molding.

     Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta  Makes 5-6  medium servings


     Ingredients:

    • 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin 
    • 1 cup of Almond or Coconut or  The Blue Diamond Almond Coconut Milk. (you can use unsweetened or sweetened it doesn't matter. but if you use unsweetened, you might cut back on the agave or sugar) 
    • 1/4 cup agave syrup or honey or 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1- 17 oz container of Plain Greek Yogurt- nonfat, 1 %, whole milk- doesn't matter
    • 1 tsp vanilla- optional
    • 2 large or 3 medium peaches chopped- Optional You can also use strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or apricots. Any fruit but fresh Pineapple or papaya- they have enzymes in them that will prevent the gelatin from setting up so you'll end up with a yogurt and fruit drink! 

    Instructions:



    1. Take a 1/4 cup of the almond milk  in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let sit 1-2 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients together and chop up the peach. 
      1. Greek Yogurt Panne Cotta from Buttercream Lane and Fact Woman Blogs
    2. Add the yogurt  and 1/4 of the almond milk to a small bowl- (preferably one with a spout to pour out of) and whisk together until smooth. 
    3. Take 1/2 cup of the almond milk and the sweetener and place in a small saucepan 
    4. Over Medium heat, heat the milk and sweetener until mixed together and all dissolved. 
    5. Add the softened gelatin to the pan and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. You don't have to bring it to a boil. Heat just until everything is dissolved. 
    6. Remove from the heat and pour the warm mixture into the yogurt.
    7. Add the vanilla to  it if you wish. I think real vanilla tastes like plastic and the fake stuff is worse!
    8. Pour the mixture into your containers- filling 1/2 way. 
    9. If you are adding fruit, add the chopped fruit and push the fruit down into the yogurt mixture with a spoon. Then top with the remaining yogurt mixture  so that the fruit is covered. 
    10.  Greek Yogurt Panne Cotta from Buttercream Lane and Fact Woman Blogs Greek Yogurt Panne Cotta from Buttercream Lane and Fact Woman  Greek Yogurt Panne Cotta from Buttercream Lane and Fact Woman Blogs
    11. Chill for 1-3 hours depending on the shape of your container. a thinner layer will chill in an hour. A 5 oz jar will take closer to 3 hours. 
                                   Greek Yogurt Panne Cotta from Buttercream Lane and Fact Woman
    The panna cotta  will still jiggle a bit but not be  set up. Think a little less gigglier than jello. It's really a softer jello consistency. 

    Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Fresh Peaches from Buttercream Lane and Fact Woman


    Friday, August 9, 2013

    Fluffy No Bake Peanut Butter Pie with a Chocolate lined crust!

    Fluffy No Bake Peanut Butter Pie

    Fluffy No Bake Peanut Butter Pie from fact Womand and Buttercream Lane




    We love to go to a very small town cafe about a half an hour away for their pan fried chicken, cooked to order, and their homemade pies. 

    The Castle Cafe always has a killer banana cream pie but every few months the chef will get in a mood to make a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie that is one of the best things I've ever had and I'm not even a big peanut butter person. Note the "only every few months" part of that- it's not nearly often enough so, I had to play with some recipes to come up with one that tastes just like his!!! We all agree that this is a perfect copy!


    One of the secrets to his great pies is his chocolate coated graham cracker crusts. He uses it for his Banana Cream Pie and his Peanut Butter Pie. Brilliant! The crust never get's soggy!!I hope you enjoy this pie as much as we do!



    For a Printable Version of this recipe- Click Here! 

    Ingredients

    Pie Crust- Makes one 9" pie crust- You can also just buy one!!! 

    • 1 package from a box of graham crackers- about 10 sheets of crackers
    • 1/3 cup of sugar
    • 1/3 cup of melted butter
    • 3/4 of a cup of chocolate chips

    Peanut Butter Filling

    • 1 1/2  8oz packages of low fat cream cheese at room temperature(12 oz)
    • 1 1/2 cups of creamy peanut butter- store bought not the fresh kind. I like Jif
    • 3 TBS of water or milk
    • 1 1/2  cup of powdered sugar- divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup
    • 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips- Optional- you can mix some into the filling or you can just top the pie with some or both. 

    Topping

    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips- Optional
    Peanut Butter Pie from Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane

    Instructions 

    Pie Crust

    1. Preheat your oven to 375º
    2. While the crackers are still wrapped, press of the sides, top and bottom to start to break them up. 
    3. Place the crackers into a food processor. You can also put everything into a large zip lock bag and crush and mix the ingredients in the bag. 
    4. Add the sugar
    5. Pulse until the crackers are a fine crumb
    6. Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse until all combined. 
    7. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9" pie plate. I use a measuring cup to press it in nice and tightly. 
    8. Bake for 7 minutes
    9. As soon as you take the crust out of the oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the bottom of the crust. 
    10. Let it sit for 5 minutes until the chocolate chips are melted. 
    11. With the back of a spoon, spread the melted chocolate over the bottom and up the sides of the crust. 
    12. Place in the refrigerator until cool 

    Peanut Butter Filling

    1. In a  mixing bowl, beat the whipped cream with 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar until it forms stiff peaks. That means when the beaters are pulled up out of the whipped cream, the points stand up straight. 
    2. In another mixing bowl, place your 12 oz of softened cream cheese, the 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter, 1 cup of powdered sugar and 3 TBS of water. Beat until well combined and slightly fluffy. 

    3. Take 1/3 of the whipped cream and stir it into the peanut butter mixture to lighten it. 
    4. Take the remaining whipped cream and fold it into the peanut butter mixture and fold until all combined. 
    5. Spoon the peanut butter filling into the chilled crust and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 

    Topping:

    1. In a  mixing bowl, beat the whipped cream with 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar until it forms stiff peaks. That means when the beaters are pulled up out of the whipped cream, the points stand up straight. 
    2. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie and sprinkle on the  mini chocolate chips. 
      Note: You can beat all 2 cups of whipped cream and the 3/4 cup of powdered sugar together- just remember to pull out a quarter of it to top the pie with before mixing the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. It's up to you! I tend to forget the pull out the topping so I beat the cream in separate batches! 
    Peanut Butter Pie from Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    Moist, Delicious Strawberry Shortcake- A super fast and easy vanilla cake to go with berries!

    Strawberry Shortcake from Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane
     I'm not a fan of the dry, crumbly, biscuit style of shortcake. I want a moist tender cake for my berries. 16 years ago, we ordered the strawberry shortcake at a restaurant and I was in heaven. It was the perfect cake for berries. I had to have the recipe and with a bit of flattery and begging, the chef shared the recipe with me. The one catch was, he had to leave one ingredient out to give it to me. Thankfully, he made it easy when he told me that it was a vanilla cake and guess what ingredient was missing?
    We always have this on Easter to usher in berry season and is one of our favorite spring & summer treats.  It's so fast and easy to mix up and bake. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
    Moist Vanilla Strawberry Shortcake

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    Makes one 9x13 pan or 12 cupcakes or one jellyroll pan
    Ingredients
    • 3 cups of flour
    • 2 cups of sugar
    • 1 1/2 TBS baking powder
    • 1 cup melted butter
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350°
    2. In a 2 cup glass measuring cup or a microwavable container- microwave 1 cup of butter for 60 seconds or until melted. I leave the sticks in the wax paper and micriwave it that way. No spatters and you just have to pull them out when it's melted. Easy and no mess. 
    3. In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar and baking powder
    4. Stir in the milk and vanilla then the melted butter and mix well. There may be a few small lumps but just leave them. Don't over stir! 
    5. Pour batter into a greased pan and bake in the preheated oven until golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean. 
    6. Baking Times: 
      1. For a 9x13 or cupcakes-  25 to 30 minutes  
      2. For jelly roll pan- or 20 mins f. 
      Strawberry Shortcake from Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane
    For a large half sheet pan 2”x13”x18”- Double the recipe and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. 
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    Monday, July 1, 2013

    Easy Zen Tomato Tarts


    Zen Tomato Tarts


    In the summer tomatoes are so delicious. Juicy, sweet and filled with flavor.  I grabbed some at the farmer's market last week and wanted to use them up by making these Tomato Tarts. I made 3 tarts; one with goat cheese, one with parmesian and one with some white cheddar. The thing that makes these so special is the seasoning. This month our challenge from the   The Fennel Friday Cooking Club (hosted is by The Pollen Ranch and Kimberly, at The Hungry Goddess.)  was to make a vegetable dish using The Pollen Ranch's Zen-Sational Seasoning Blend as an ingredient. We all post our recipes to the Fennel Friday group to share our recipes.  Head on over to check out the other delicious thing we all came up with!
    These take about 10 minutes to make (not including the thawing time for the puff pastry and are baked and ready to eat in 30 minutes.  

    These are perfect with a salad for a lunch or a light dinner or sliced up into small pieces as an appetizer. You can make them up to 2 hours ahead of when you want to serve them. They are just as good at room temperature as they are warm. 


    Ingredients
    • 1 sheet of puff pastry- thawed
    • 3 large tomatoes. I used Roma
    • 1 tsp of Zen-Sational Seasoning blend
    • 2 tbs basil chopped of chiffonaded ( fancy way of saying cut into thin little strips) I use scissors!
    • 1/2 cup of the cheese or cheeses of your choice. 
    • Olive oil
    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 425º
    2. Unroll the puff pastry sheet and cut into 3 strips
    3. Place the strips onto a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet
    4. With a sharp knife, cut just into the top part of the puff pastry all the way around leaving about 1/3 of an inch between the score line and the edges

    5. Tomato Tart from fact woman & buttercream lane Zen Tomato Tarts From Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane
    6. With a fork, prick holes all over the center of sheet staying inside the score lines- this keeps the center part from puffing up while allowing the edges to rise up
    7. Brush the center with some olive oil
    8. Slice the tomatoes up into thin slices and chop up the basil
    9. Arrange the basil pieces evenly over the pastry

    10. Zen Tomato Tarts From Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane Zen Tomato Tarts From Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane
    11. Sprinkle each strip evenly with 1/3-1/2 tsp of Zen-Sational Seasoning
    12. Arrange the tomatoes in a line down the middle
    13. Top the tomatoes with 2-3 TBS of the cheese of your choice.
    14. Place them into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
    Serve these warm or at room temperature.  
      Zen Tomato Tarts From Fact Woman & Buttercream Lane





















    The Zen-Sational blend is made up of Pollen Ranch Fennel Pollen, Sumac, Sesame Seeds, Orange Peel, Ginger, Fleur de Sel (Sea Salt), Yellow Curry, Savory Leaf,  and Cayenne. It is not hot but adds a lovely earthy warmth to the tomatoes!  It's a perfect blend!

    Thursday, June 27, 2013

    10 Minute Summer Pasta for a Fast and Easy Dinner

    In the summer I don't really feel like cooking.  I just want a fast and easy dinner recipe that's healthy and not too heavy. This dish fits the bill. It takes only 10 minutes to prepare - 20 if you count waiting for the water to boil. It's filled with colorful tomatoes, basil, arugula, spinach, garlic and feta and only gets one pot dirty.  Enjoy this delicious dish warm for dinner tonight and chilled for lunch tomorrow.
    10 Minute Summer Pasta for a Fast and Easy Dinner
    Ingredients

  • 1 pound of campanella, penne or any shape pasta you'd like. 
  • 6 large roma tomatoes or 4 large regular tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic crushed and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil leaves or 1 TBS of  Gourmet Garden Basil.
  • 2 cups of super greens or spinach and or arugula
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1- 1 1/2 tsp of salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of oregano or italian herb blend


  • 1 TBS kosher salt for the pasta water

    1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a full  boil with 1 TBS kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp regular salt in the water
    2. Add Pasta to the water and cook for the recommended time until al dente 
    3. While the pasta cooks- Cut up the tomatoes into bite size pieces and place into a large serving bowl. Leave room to toss it all together- unlike the one in my picture!
    4. Add the chopped basil and the greens to the bowl
    5. Add the feta to the bowl
    6. 10 Minute Summer Pasta- Fast and Easy 
    7. In another small bowl - or you can just dump it on top of the pasta. 
    8. Mix the olive oil, minced garlic, 1 tsp salt, pepper and herbs together. 
    9. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the bowl right on top of the tomatoes, greens and feta.

    10. 10 Minute Summer Pasta Fast and Easy
    11. Pour the oil blend on top and toss to combine. 
    12. Serve with some warm bread and you're already done! 
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