Carnival Time King Cake Recipe

Throughout the Gulf South, communities began celebrating the “carnival season” on January 6, which culminates on Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”), which this year will be on February 9. One of the many traditions of carnival is to serve King Cakes throughout the entire season. Similar to coffee cake, this ring-shaped confection is as rich in history as it is in color and taste. Trademark decorations–sugars in the royal colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power)–honor the three kings from the biblical story of Christmas. Bring some carnival fun to your neck of the woods by baking this tasty confection and hosting a Mardi Gras themed party this carnival season.

Ingredients

1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour (substituting all-purpose flour will make a denser cake)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Creamy Glaze (recipe below)
Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sugar sprinkles

Preparation

  • Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.
  • Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
  • Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
  • Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.
  • Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  • Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle Creamy Glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.

•  •  •

CREAMY GLAZE RECIPE

Ingredients

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Preparation

Stir together first 4 ingredients. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.

Recipe & Photo courtesy Southern Living Magazine. Photography: Beth Dreiling Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey / Food Styling Pam Lolley

Using Paver Patterns to
Create Faux Rug Designs

The overarching theme of contemporary outdoor living design is to apply interior design techniques to create outdoor rooms. We see this in every aspect of outdoor living, from furniture design to light fixtures to decorative accents. It’s all part of the effort to truly live in our outdoor spaces with the same comfort, style and ease with which we live in our indoor spaces.

When planning an outdoor living design, one idea to consider is utilizing paver patterns to reinforce the “room” concept. This can be done in a number of creative ways. Think of how you would use carpet or area rugs to define or accent certain living areas, and then apply those concepts to paver design. Here are some of our favorite examples of this type of paver pattern application.

Fireplace Area Rugs

A cozy living room is traditionally characterized by grouping furniture over an area rug near the fireplace. This look can be achieved outdoors by varying paver tone, texture and shape into an integrated design that mimics this look.

Creating Separate Rooms

Indoors, flooring material or pattern often changes when you step from one room into the next. For example, the kitchen may be floored with ceramic tile, and the living room may have wood flooring. Or sometimes, the same material is used, but the laying pattern changes as you cross the threshold. This technique can be done outdoors to create the illusion of separate rooms.

The Outdoor “Foyer”

Turn an open patio area into a grand outdoor foyer with contrasting colors and textures that create the look of a large decorative area rug. This concept can also be used to simulate an entryway runner that leads from one outdoor room to the next.

Defining Conversation Areas

In a large room, area rugs can be used to divide the space into smaller, more intimate conversation areas. The same can be done in an outdoor room. Place a paver “rug” where it makes sense to position a furniture grouping. For additional flare, a fire pit can be placed in the center of of the design, creating the look of a flaming coffee table.

Designer Rugs

Contemporary block patterns, contrasting colors, arches and swirly designs can be used to emulate the look of designer carpets and area rugs. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Incorporating Nature

Another idea is to incorporate grassy areas into your design to add the textural look of shag. This can be done in the form of a runner or as an integrated element of a faux rug design.

2016 Outdoor Living
Trends Forecast

Outdoor living has indeed become a staple of American culture. As many homeowners begin to spend more time in their outdoor living areas than in their indoor living areas, the overall trends continue to revolve around creating homey, attractive, livable outdoor spaces that are an extension of the indoor environment. As we enter 2016, expect to see a continuation of this theme in outdoor living design, as well as increases in sustainable (“green”) outdoor living practices.

Midnight Bordeaux

Bordeaux Series Fireplace, Midnight trim

Home is where the hearth is.

Once upon a time, the living room fireplace was the favored gathering spot for family and guests, and roasting marshmallows over a campground fire was part of the annual family vacation. Modern outdoor living combines these two traditions into one with outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. This trend will continue to be one of the fastest growing phenomenons in outdoor living for 2016. To meet these needs, Belgard continues to expand and develop the Belgard Elements collection and has recently released a new Midnight trim option for the Bordeaux Series fireplace and matching kitchen pieces. In addition, Belgard offers a full line of retaining wall products that are ideal for creating custom outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, such as Celtik® Wall or Weston Stone®.

Mirage Porcelain Pavers, Officine Collection

Mimicking the indoor environment.

Outdoor living room designs continue to mimic the look of their indoor counterparts. This includes furniture design, lighting fixtures, decorative accessories and flooring. Modern interior design is trending towards larger tiles with natural textures. The same goes for outdoor hardscapes. Expect to see an increase in the popularity of larger format pavers with natural textures and design elements, such as the natural flagstone look of Mega-Arbel®, the cut flagstone look of Mega-Lafitt™, and the cut slate look of Lafitt™ Rustic Slab, all of which offer multi-piece large-format design options. Because of the thinner profile, Lafitt Rustic Slab and its smooth counterpart Lafitt™ Grana Slab are both available with an extra-large 14″x22″ piece. Also expect to see an increase in the popularity of Mirage® Porcelain Pavers, which are a durable outdoor-rated version of interior porcelain tiles and are available in a variety of large-format sizes and natural looks, including trendy wood grain and stone textures.

Celtik Kitchen

Celtik Wall kitchen and Mega-Bergerac pavers

Rise of the outdoor chef.

Outdoor kitchens now rival the scope and scale of their indoor counterparts, with professional-rated appliances, multiple cooking surfaces, and bar-type seating with ample countertop and prep space. Expect to see an increase in brick ovens as more homeowners learn that these attractive fixtures can be used for more than just cooking pizza, but can actually function as a full-use outdoor oven. To meet the needs of evolving kitchen trends, Belgard offers a variety of kitchen pieces and brick ovens in the Belgard Elements collection and has recently released Tandem™ Modular Grid, which can be used to quickly and easily create custom outdoor kitchens and coordinating design elements.

National hardscape manufacturer, Oldcastle APG, projects located in North and South Carolina.

Subterra Stone permeable paver driveway

Turns out, it is easy being “green”.

For several years, permeable pavers have been a growing movement in commercial construction as more municipalities develop and implement stronger codes for managing stormwater. But as homeowners learn about the benefits of permeable pavers, the trend is beginning to make its way into the residential arena, particularly for driveways, and is expected to continue to grow. Textured permeable pavers, like Subterra® Stone and Eco Dublin®, offer the natural stone look that homeowners desire, while at the same time reducing flooding and improving local waterways through the absorption and filtration of stormwater through the paver joints. As an added benefit, permeable pavers can be used as part of a rainwater harvesting system to collect and reuse water for irrigation or other gray-water uses. Because many states and municipalities offer grants and tax incentives for these types of sustainable, or green, practices, the reduced net cost is an attractive incentive for savvy homeowners.

Enter for a Chance to Win the HGTV® Dream Home 2016

DH16 BRAND GUIDELINES_Sponsor.pagesAs a proud sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home 2016, we invite you to take a virtual walking tour of the Belgard outdoor living spaces of this waterfront retreat in Merritt Island, Florida, then enter for your chance to win this fabulous ultra modern home.

.  .  .

Drive up to the ample guest parking area, with its arched duo-tone paver design that adds contemporary flair to the classic cobbled look of the driveway’s Old York™ Pavers. Then take the welcoming walkway, flanked by quaint picket fencing and colorful gardens, to the double-door entrance.

dh2016_front-yard-full-house-straight-on_h_preview

As you make your way to the front door, imagine breezy mornings enjoying a cup of coffee and a buttery croissant with fresh fruit in this cozy breakfast nook, adjacent to the entrance.

dh2016_front-yard-courtyard-furniture_h_preview

Next, step out onto the expansive multi-level backyard lanai, which boasts multiple seating areas to accommodate both large and intimate gatherings. Colorful hues of Lafitt™ Rustic Slab and coordinating Bullnose Coping don the lanai, step edges and poolscape to create one continuous and flowing contemporary design.

dh2016_Lanai-pool-outdoor-furniture-fan_h_preview

Explore the various levels of the vibrant poolscape, with paver colors that mimic the natural tones of the surrounding waterfront property. Imagine enjoying a sunset cocktail as you walk down to the dock to greet neighboring boaters.

dh2016_lanai-sitting-area-wider-b_h_preview

To continue your virtual outdoor living tour, visit our Pinterest board for more photos of the HGTV Dream Home 2016.

Click here to enter to for your chance to win this amazing waterfront retreat!

No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends at 5 p.m. ET on 2/18/16. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. For full official rules, visit hgtv.com or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: “HGTV Dream Home Giveaway”- RR, P.O. Box 53445 Knoxville, TN 37950. Main Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC d/b/a DIY Network. Photos © 2015 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

Yummy Holiday Cocktails

Looking for something new and different to serve at this year’s party? Here are a couple of holiday cocktail ideas that will have your guests singing your praises, in addition to carols.

gingerbread-martini-sl-xGingerbread Martini

Ingredients
Ginger liquer (for rim)
Crushed gingersnaps (for rim)
2 tablespoons ginger liqueur
2 tablespoons vanilla-citrus liqueur
1 1/2 tablespoons coffee-flavored rum
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons whipping cream
1 cup ice cubes
Garnish: partially split vanilla bean brushed with liqueur and rolled in sugar (optional)
.
Preparation
Dip glass rims in ginger liqueur and crushed gingersnaps. Store glasses in freezer up to 2 days. Stir together ginger liqueur, vanilla-citrus liqueur, coffee-flavored rum, honey, and whipping cream in a cocktail shaker. Add ice cubes; cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish, if desired.

 •   •   •

merry-berry-sl-xBerry Christmas “Mocktail”

Ingredients
5 fresh raspberries
4 fresh blueberries
2 fresh blackberries
1 1/2 tablespoons light agave nectar
5 fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup crushed ice
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ginger ale
Garnish: halved fresh raspberries and blackberries (optional)
.
Preparation
Muddle 5 fresh raspberries, blueberries, 2 fresh blackberries, light agave nectar, mint leaves, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Stir in crushed ice and water. Cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (7 to 10 seconds). Pour mixture into a 16-oz. glass, and top with ginger ale. Garnish, if desired.

•   •   •

hot-buttered-rye-sl-xHot Buttered Rye

Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup rye whiskey
6 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons ginger liqueur
Freshly grated nutmeg
.
Preparation
Beat heavy cream and maple syrup with an electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until consistency of softened butter. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours. Pour rye whiskey, hot water, and ginger liqueur into a 6-oz. heatproof cup. Top with about 1/4 cup maple-cream mixture and freshly grated nutmeg.
.

Recipes and photos courtesy of Time, Inc.

Contractor’s Corner:
What’s on Your Holiday Equipment Wish List?

Sometimes it’s that one piece of equipment that puts you ahead of your competitors. This month’s Contractor’s Corner blog looks at some of our favorite must-haves for the residential hardscape contractor preparing for 2016.

Aerial Video Drone

Aerial DroneIt’s not just a totally cool piece of equipment, it’s also an awesome selling tool. Don’t just take photos of your completed projects, bring them to life with fly-through videos that you can add to your company website or Facebook page. Showing videos to homeowners on an iPad will allow them to virtually walk through a design and see it from every angle, potentially visualizing how they would live in that space at their own home. Inexpensive drones are available just about everywhere, but if you’re a serious shopper, read PC Magazine’s Best Drones of 2015.

Paver Slab Vacuum Installer

Mammoth Vacuum EquipmentLarger format pavers are widely popular right now, but installing them can be a tedious and strenuous process. Speed installation of large pieces and minimize worker fatigue with vacuum installation equipment specifically designed for paver slabs. Check out the Mammoth VH from Pave Tech®, which comes with two different handle sets: one for single workers, and one for lifting by two workers.

Paver Placer™ Installers

model2--300I know what you’re thinking…Now that I have a more efficient way to install the big pieces, what about the smaller ones? Have no fear, PaveMor™ is here. They offer a line of hand-held paver installation machines that hook up to a standard air compressor to speed installation and reduce workplace injuries. The model pictured here can be used to pick up one standard sized paver or two smaller units at once.

iQ Dustless Saw

HERO-WishListAnyone in the paver industry knows that cutting pavers or wall block creates a cloud of dust. Overexposure to silica dust can cause serious health problems, but wearing a respirator can be a pain — not to mention the cleanup required from the dust and slurry. If you want to see the difference a dustless saw can make, click to view this video.