Thursday, September 17, 2009

Easy Accent Pillows

     I recently read a decorating blog that talked about using cloth placemats or even table runners to make decorative accent pillows. I liked the idea that it could be so easy and I have been looking for ways to add more color to some of our decor. A couple weeks ago we volunteered to help with a charity yard sale and I found a set of 4 brand new cloth napkins that I thought would be perfect for this. They are a sage green suede fabric, 18" square and were brand new with the original price tags still attached. I got the set for $1! A total steal.
     All you need for this project is your napkins (or placemats), matching thread, and pillow stuffing. I already had the thread, and I found some stuffing on sale at JoAnns, so the entire project cost me about $3 per pillow. A much better deal than you could find buying accent pillows in a store.

     Pin 2 of the napkins right sides together and sew around the edges leaving an opening of about 3" on one of the sides. I would suggest trimming the corners after you have sewn, as shown below. This will help once you have turned it right side out so that the corners are not bunched with all the extra fabric.

     Turn right side out and stuff to desired fullness. Use a stuffing tool (one was provided with the stuffing I purchased) or a pencil or chopstick to poke the stuffing into the shape needed. It really does help to smooth out the lumps as you go. Once stuffed, stitch the opening closed using a needle and thread. Voila! Accent pillows.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lemon Delight Cake

This was another lower-fat dessert option I found. This lemon cake turns out light and moist with a mild lemon flavor. This is a great option for a summer dessert.

Lemon Delight Cake
1 pkg lemon cake mix
1 (3.4 oz) instant lemon pudding mix
1 3/4 cups water
3 egg whites

3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 (1 oz) pkg instant lemon pudding mix
1 (8 oz) container frozen light whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 inch cake pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix together cake mix and pudding mix. Add water and egg whites. Beat on low for 1 minute. Increase to high speed and beat for 4 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely.
To prepare the whipped topping, Combine milk, lemon extract and pudding mix. Beat on low for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cooled cake. Decorate top with lemon slices or lemon rind. Store cake in refrigerator.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

We've been eating pretty healthy this year, but I still love to make dessert when we have family get-togethers or dinner parties. So I have made it a point to try to find some less fattening dessert options. I don't pretend that these are "healthy", but they are a lower fat alternative than some of the things I normally make.
These crinkle cookies were a huge hit with the family. The presentation is nice and I have had several requests since to make them again. They have a very brownie-like flavor. You will love these!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup powdered sugar

In medium mixing bowl, combine cocoa, sugar and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into cocoa mixture. Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put powdered sugar in shallow bowl. Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 inch balls. If your fingers are not moist or the dough is not cold it will stick to your hands. Place dough ball into powdered sugar and coat liberally. Making sure the ball is completely coated will create a better "crinkle" look once baked. Place on lined or greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.