Homemade Fire Starters

I love the chill of winter. The scent of snow and chimney smoke make me swoon. No matter my hurry, a crackling fire shifts me to pause if only briefly. I repurpose simple household items to make these useful goodies.

Fire Starters
paper egg cartons

dryer lint
cotton kitchen twine
bees wax or leftover candle bits

Place the wax/candles in an old can or jar with a wide mouth and place in a saucepan with water filled so it comes about halfway up the jar. Place over low to medium heat, to indirectly melt the wax. Meanwhile. cut the top off the egg carton, and then cut the egg cups apart. Tightly pack lint into each cup, leaving a bit of headroom, so you can close the tops, but folding the corners in. Tie into a bundle using kitchen twine, allow for a fairly long wick, so you can use it to dip the cup into the wax. Once the wax is liquid, dip each cup into it, allow it to be fully immersed. I use disposable chop sticks or skewers to shimmy the cup, to make sure it is fully covered. Lay on wax or kitchen paper to cool. Once cool, trim wick and you are ready to go!

the wax is used to keep the starters waterproof…which is great for campers and hunters. if you will be using the firestarter in your home, you may not want to add this step. i always do, because i love the smell of beeswax
if you really jam pack these with lint, they will burn for 10 minutes or so and smolder for quite some time as well. i find it enough time to get the kindle lit and the logs on their way

Snow Globe Cupcakes

I love snow globes. When i see grand collections, a tinge of envy bubbles up; like plastic snowflakes in a whirl. It then turns to a settling calm, because, the last thing i need is another collection. Unless of course we are talking
edible. Like these little darlings. This is an incredibly simple project perfect for your holiday table.

Snow Globe Cupcakes
1 recipe of your favorite cupcake baked and cooled
my favorite
1 recipe of your favorite frosting
1 dozen plastic clear christmas balls
like these


cupcake toppers deer, trees, house in the woods; whatever your fancy
edible glitter in white

using a sharp scissor or craft knife, cut the top off the ornament like so


Wash and dry the “globe” then sprinkle some of the edible glitter in the bottom.  swirl it around.  Most of the glitter will stick, what doesn’t will fall to the cupcake when you invert.  If you want lots of “snow” in the globe, brush a bit of vodka on the inside of the globe, swirl the glitter.  It will stick well, and the vodka will evaporate, eliminating any unwanted moisture. Frost the cupcake as you normally would, place your decorations on top, and carefully invert the globe over the top. Finish with a little bow

Simple Nut Tart

Dinner parties stump me sometimes. Being that I am trained in pastry, there is a certain expectation that dessert will be served. Andit will be from scratch. Normally not a problem, but i don’t always want to finish
with a substantial & heavy dessert. Sometimes a simple nut tart served with strong coffee and paired with a bowl of clementines, is just the trick.

Simple Nut Tart
1 pastry crust, pressed into an 8″ square tart tin–baked blind
1 cups walnut–toasted
1 1/2 cups pecans–toasted
1 cup almonds–toasted
1/2 cup pine nuts–toasted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup water
1 oz whiskey

preheat oven to 350. place all nuts in a large bowl and mix until well combined. put brown sugar, granulated sugar, honey salt and water in a heavy saucepan. stir well, place on medium heat and bring to a simmer. allow to boil for about 3 minutes. carefully add the whiskey and bring back to a boil. boil for 2 more minutes. the sugar should get a bit syrupy, but should not smoke or turn excessively dark. keep a constant eye on the sugar. remove the sugar from heat and tip in the nuts. stir well, giving each nut a coat of syrup. immediately tip into the baked crust, gently and spreading to cover the entire crust. pop into the oven for 5-7 minutes. remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

-add orange juice in place of some water in caramel; a pinch of orange zest & a sprinkle of cinnamon to the nuts
-the addition of fresh rosemary when stirring the nuts into the caramel (light hand) make for a beautiful winter tart
–drizzle with bittersweet chocolate or drench in dark ganache
-substitute vanilla for whiskey