Friday, July 26, 2013

{Peanut Butter Dream Frosting}

Wow, summer sure has flown by. I can't believe that we are almost done with July.... grrrr.... I'm a little nervous for the summer to end. You see, my oldest daughter will be starting kindergarten and my middle daughter will be in preschool, which means I'm going to officially be a "School Mom", at least that's what I call it. You see, up until now, my life has revolved around whatever I have wanted it to. We wake up when we want, eat whenever, go wherever, and haven't had any limits set on our time. I realize this is going to change dramatically, so I've been soaking up these past few months before my life revolves around school. Know what I mean?

We haven't really done anything super spectacular this summer. I started running at the high school track a few days a week with some friends, and we pretty much go swimming every day. No big vacations are planned, but we do have lots of visitors coming next month. Woot woot!

However, here some things we've done...

I took pictures of my kids. Last year I bought my first DSLR camera because I was sick of paying people to take pictures of my kids... so I've been practicing my mad photography skills, and here's one of my favorite pictures from this year.


Ugh. Love that girl so much! 
We celebrated the Fourth of July in style...

                                     

And celebrated 8 months of having this little one (who's not so little... 22 lbs is a lot of squishy, cuddly chub!) in our lives. Aw, she just melts my heart every time, and I do mean ever single time, I look at her!



And yes, I've even squeezed in some baking. Nom, nom, nom! I made these cupcakes for a baby shower a few weeks ago. I wasn't super impressed with how the actual cupcake turned out, but it didn't matter 'cause the frosting was simply dee-vine. Seriously. I can't describe how fluffy and light it was... you'll just have to make it for yourself and see what I'm talking about!


I used the same recipe I used here, but modified it a little. I added more powdered sugar and cream since I was making a bigger batch. Also, I have a problem with not really measuring things, so I just kept adding stuff until I got the results I wanted. I know, this may drive some of you crazy, but I just can't help it!



But just for good measure, I'll give you the recipe again...

Peanut Butter Dream Frosting

*1 c. powdered sugar
*1 c. creamy peanut butter
*5 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
*3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1/3 c. heavy cream

*In a bowl, mix together powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt.
Mix until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed.
Add the heavy cream and mix on medium speed until light and smooth.

Ooo la la! Enjoy!

Claudia

Monday, July 1, 2013

DIY 4th of July + $200 Gift Card Giveaway!


I am sooooo excited to post today! Eeeee!!! I'm practically squealing like a little school girl! Why am I excited? Two reasons. 1.) I have a fabulous project tutorial to share with you and 2.) I have teamed up with some amazing bloggers as well as Coupons.com to give one lucky reader a $200 e-gift card to either Jo-Ann's or Home Depot. Keep reading for more info! But first, let's get started on this awesome project.

As you know, we love the 4th of July around here. Christie's husband is a Marine, and my brother is a Marine and I have another brother enlisting in the Navy, so we are pretty darn patriotic around here and have a deep love for this amazing country. To celebrate, we are always trying new recipes and creating new projects that channel those fabulous colors of red, white, and blue.  Want to see more of what we've created? Just click here for some more simple treats you can make yourself! 

 Now that I have 3 kids, carrying all of their stuff makes me look like a one woman circus, if you know what I mean... and with those of you who have kids, you know what I mean... Instead of constantly looking like a crazy lady, I wisened up and started making my two older girls carry their own stuff. We have practically a bazillion dress up purses, so when we go to church, or swimming, or to the park, the girls each bring their own purses with their own little drinks in it or chapstick, or whatever Barbie they decide needs to tag along that day. And here's the thing... Every year on the 4th of July, we go to a parade, have a little BBQ, and go see some fireworks and since the 4th tends to A.) Be hot, which means we are carrying around extra drinks B.) Be a long day, which means we are carrying around extra snacks and toys to keep the kidlets happy C.) Involve parades, which means lots and lots and lots of candy and D.) Involve fireworks, which means my girls like to carry their own sparklers and pop-its around, I did not... let me repeat that... I DID NOT want to be the one carrying all that extra stuff... So, when I was contacted by Coupons.com to create a DIY 4th of July project from Jo-Ann's (want some awesome coupons? Click here), I knew I wanted to make something that was quick, fairly easy, and p.r.a.c.t.i.c.a.l.  That's how this little tote was born...



I am not much of a seamstress, so this tote had to be on the easy side. I waivered back and forth between being super adventurous and making my own tote, or make things simple and use a canvas tote... you can cllleeeaaarrrrlllyyy see that the canvas tote is the big winner here.

I wanted the tote to be red, white, and blue (of course) and I wanted some sort of flag theme. So, I decided to purchase just a plain white medium tote, some red polka dot fabric (which I am in love with!) and some blue fabric to adorn the tote with. For once, this project turned out just how I envisioned... I love it when that happens! Woot! Holla like a rock star!

Want to make one (or two, or three) of your own? Here's what you'll need to complete each tote...


Step numero uno... Cut 5 or 6 red strips. One of my totes had 5 strips and the other one had 6 strips. That's just how it ended up....  I cut mine 1" wide and made them 13" long. My tote was 13.5" wide, but I didn't want the strips to reach all the way to the end, hence the 13".  However, for the last strip, I cut it about 12" long because the bottom of the bag wasn't as wide.

I then fused them onto the tote using some Stitch Witchery. That stuff seriously saved my life! I'm so glad I fused it to the tote... you'll see why in a second. I didn't hem the strips because I knew I would be sewing them onto the tote later on, and after they were sewn,  if they frayed a little, that's ok. That's the look I was going for. If your heart desires, you can hem the strips. Just cut a them a little wider. Here's what the tote should look like after the strips are fused onto the tote.


And here's what they look like after they were sewed onto the tote. Like I said before, I'm glad I fused them on first so that they stayed in place while I was sewing. I'm kind of an awkward seamstress because I'm pretty much making things up on my own, and I don't have a lot of sewing experience, so I didn't want to be bothered with tons of pins poking me everywhere! :)


Step #2. Cut two strips of blue fabric. Your measurements don't have to be exactly what mine are, but I wanted a fairly large flower, so these are my measurements... 3" x 9" for the smaller strip and 5" by 26.5" (can you tell I didn't really measure... classic.)

The smaller strip you will fold it in half and baste it. The larger strip I decided not to fold it in half (I wanted it to be kind of floppy) so I just basted it. I didn't hem the strips either because I wanted them to be a little frayed, but I didn't want them to fray completely, so the stitching helps with that. 


See how lovely it looks all basted?


Step #3. After your strips are basted, cut scallops on them. Some people would probably make a template with scallops and trace around the template, but I really didn't want to do that, so I simply cut scallops. Flowers in nature aren't perfect, so why should this flower be absolutely perfect? Sometimes, beauty lies in the imperfections. Heh heh heh...


I cut smaller scallops for the smaller strip, and larger scallops for the larger strip.


Step #4. Sew around the scallops.


Step #5. Gather both strips to create some ruffles. I'm not very good at gathering material and ruffling, so this was probably the hardest part of the whole project. Remember I'm a little awkward at this kind of stuff? Well, if you're a whiz, then this whole step should be a breeze for ya.

Gather the strip until it makes a little circle. Make a little stitch by hand to fasten the circle together. My circle overlapped a little, and that's perfectly okay because it adds a little to the natural flower affect I was going for. Do this for both strips.


Step #6. Take a little break and enjoy some smiles from a sweet baby girl and and Diet Coke with lime.



Step #7. Place the smaller flower on top of the bigger one, and sew in place. I just did little stitches by hand  at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 positions to make sure it was on there securely.



 Step # 8. Sew the flower securely onto your tote and add a little embellishment! My girls picked their embellishment out, and of course it had to be a little sparkly button! *Little side note: My flower was a little floppy, so I just dabbed some fabric glue here and there to adhere the petals to the tote. If you don't have fabric glue, I'm sure a hot glue gun would work!


Step #9. (Last one, I promise) Take pictures of your cute girls with their new totes and send it to me! If you have boys, you could easily make a star out of the blue fabric and if you happen make a tote for a boy, take a pic and send it to me! If you made one for yourself (like I am conteplating doing), take a pic and send it to me! My email is:

 ccash{at}popsandpodge{dot}com!! 

I would love to see all pictures of your totes and learn more about you! I may even do a post featuring your totes!


 See, isn't that a fun project? Yippee!

Now, for some the other fun stuff!

I have teamed up with Coupons.com  and seven other bloggers to host this giveaway and blog hop!
First off, who are our other bloggers who have designed their own DIY 4th of July projects? They are:

1. Natalie at Natalie's Sentiments


2. Katie at Made to be a Momma


4. Stephanie at Crafting in the Rain

5. Danielle at Blissful and Domestic

6. Emily at House and Hone

7. Lisa at Grey Luster Girl

Stop by and show them some lovin'! They are fabulous bloggers, and I have admired their talents from afar. They have been so amazing to work with!

Now you have the chance to win a $200 e-gift card to either Jo-Ann's or Home Depot! Your choice!

Whoa, that's awesome sauce. Seriously. $200? You get to choose between two awesome stores? You've got to enter this giveaway! Snap to it!

Now here's the details...
The giveaway runs from July 1st through midnight on July 7th. To enter the giveaway, simply tell us what DIY 4th of July project you would like to create, and "like" each of the blog hop hosts on Facebook. That's it! The winner will picked via Rafflecopter on the 8th and will be contacted via email. If you do not respond to the email within 48 hours, we will pick another winner. 

That's it! 
Now I'll stop gabbing and let you submit your entries!!

Happy Crafting!
Claudia



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 27, 2013

{Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies}

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Growing up, Sundays were a special day. We would go to church and come home and spend time as a family. Once a month, this meant getting together with my aunts and uncles and cousins and having a fantastic dinner with a delicious dessert, but the other 3 weeks out of the month it was just my parents, my 3 brothers, and me. My mom would always  bake some sort dessert. She always made it from scratch, and usually without a recipe. Yep, my mom is gifted like that. She can just throw ingredients together, and it will come out to be a gourmet meal. No recipe needed. 

While enjoying our dessert, we would have great family discussions. We would talk about what we learned about in church, talk about our week and what we did, and one time we even discussed what makes a swear word a swear word. Yes, we had some deep discussions! Often times, we would have neighborhood kids stop by for the treats and to chat with us. It was always a lot of fun, and they are some of my most precious memories.



When I got married, my husband soon discovered our Sunday night treasures. Since he is the only in-law on my side (none of my brothers are married) she wanted to make sure he was spoiled rotten, and soon discovered what treats he liked. She would then make them to entice us over... and it worked like a charm.

For the past 2 years, we have lived far away from both of our families, and have sorely missed Sunday night dinners and treats. Yes, we Skype with both of our families, but it's just not the same. So, we have started baking our own treats each Sunday. Without fail, around 6 p.m., my husband starts to scour the internet for a delicious treat that we can bake. He does most of the baking, and enlists the help of our 2 girls while the baby and I sit on the couch and rest.

This past week, we decided to make some Peanut Butter Molasses cookies. We both love peanut butter and molasses cookies, so when we found a recipe that called for both, we knew that it was meant to be our Sunday treat! We made a couple of batches, one rolled in sugar, and one not rolled in sugar... and I'll just save you some headache and tell you to ALWAYS go with extra sugar. It just completes your cookie!




What I loved most about these cookies was how chewy they were. Mmmm how I love me a chewy cookie!
Biting into one, I didn't know what to expect, but you can taste a hint of peanut butter mixed with the spice of molasses. It was like a match made in cookie heaven.

Go ahead... make a batch and try them for yourself!

Happy Baking!
Claudia

{Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies}
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup white sugar (for rolling your cookies in... do not skip this!)

Directions
*Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
*In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar, peanut butter, molasses, and egg.
*In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves, and salt. Add this to the brown sugar/peanut butter mixture.
* Shape some dough (about a tablespoonful) into a ball and roll it around in the sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. When the sheet is all full, put it in the oven and bake for about 9-10 minutes.
*Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool down!

You may enjoy a glass of cold milk with these cookies. It's not required, but highly recommended. :)


Monday, June 24, 2013

Ramekins

So.... I have a confession.... actually, I'm sure I'll eventually end up confessing a lot of things on here, but let's start with, this one. 

I bought my first pair of ramekins. (I'm pretty sure Christie is gagging right now, because she owns probably a million of them....)

This year, I am putting together a family cook book and giving it as a Christmas gifts to my in-laws. What about my family, you ask? Well, I will eventually do one for my extended family, but as for my immediate family, not anytime soon. Why? I have three brothers who are all bachelors, and they don't exactly have any recipes to give me.... Their menu consists of mainly Hooters (yes, Hooters.... don't ask) and McD's. So, I'm doing one for my husband's family. A.N.Y.W.A.Y.S...

 I plan on gathering recipes from my husband's parents and siblings and making them and taking photos of them for the cook book. Photographing food is one of my favorite things to do, and I want to get better at it, so I figure this is a good place to start!

Since I will be photographing food and trying to make it look pro-fesh-ee-uh-nal, I decided to start stocking up on some pretty plates and things...

Up until now, I've been photographing my food on plates I bought from Wal-Mart about 11 years ago when I was headed off to college...

                                      

Lovely, right? Heh, heh, heh... I've been holding onto them because I'm pretty sure that one day, they will be considered vintage. :) 



As much as I personally am in love with the delicate grapevine design, I don't think my in-laws would appreciate it as much as I do... so, I'm collecting other plates and dinnerware to photograph...

And, in case you can't tell that I'm being sarcastic, these plates need to go, and I'm slowly replacing them. :)

I've been eyeing ramekins at Target for awhile. I walk by them every time I'm in the store (which is quite frequent) and I just look at them.... and trying to justify spending the $2.39 on them... yes, I'm that much of a tight wad.

Finally, I took the plunge and bought a couple! 


I know, exciting, right? I know you're all super thrilled and are probably wondering what I've baked in them.
And I just have to say that I haven't baked anything in them yet. This week has been so darn busy, that I haven't even had time to catch up on my TV shows... 

So, as of right now, I use them to hold my mints.




Ah yes, these glorious mints from Costco. They are dee-lish. And not only are they delish, but I am in love with the color! I have them in a jar sitting on my entertainment center (yes, I still have one of those) for decoration.

Do you have any ramekins? If so, what's your favorite thing to bake in them?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dinner Journals

It seems that dinnertime is a little stressful at my house.... or maybe my patience just runs out at 4:00 p.m. and anything that happens after that makes me stressed out. Is it just me? I sure hope not, cause then I would feel silly letting everything get to me.

It never fails that as soon as I  start making dinner, my kids are immediately at my feet telling me that they're hungry, and they start opening the fridge, and the pantry, and trying to get cups down for a drink.... all while I'm trying to open a package of chicken and dump it into the frying pan without a) trying to touch any of the raw meat (gag) and b) trying to make sure the empty package makes it to the garbage pan without contaminating anything.... yeah, it's quite the scene. And not always a pretty one.

So, I came up with this idea of having a dinnertime journal. This little journal serves serves a few purposes. While I'm preparing dinner, it gives my girls something to do and therefore keep their mind occupy from their said hunger pains.... and it also helps them think about their day and remember what they've done. I am a firm believer in journal writing and I want to help my girls keep a little record of what they've done.

For these little journals, I didn't do anything super fancy.... I simply went to Target and bought the cheapest notebooks I could find and slapped their names on the front.


 Then, while I'm trying to prepare a somewhat *cough cough* nutritious meal for my little brood, my girls draw pictures about their day. I love seeing what they come up with. They draw things that I would have never thought of.



These are drawings from my almost 4 year old... She mostly writes her name and her sister's name, or draws random smiley faces, like the one below.


I just love looking at all her drawings! They are so cute and funny! The other day, she drew me a random picture of a lemon and a bar. Not a lemonbar.... on one side of the paper was a lemon, and on the other side of the paper was a brown rectangle that she said was a bar. A bar of what? I don't know... just a bar!

My almost 6 year old is a little more advanced with her drawings......


I love that picture! We had gone to pick up a bucket of strawberries from a ladies house, and I was impressed that Ava had remembered that it was at the end of a circle. She drew the lady standing outside, and she drew our van.... love it!! It is pretty funny because her pictures are of the places we go.... and it seems like every day we are at a different store... Wal-Mart, Winco, Target, Bi-Mart, Goodwill.... sheesh! We go to a lot of different stores! Ha!

After dinner is fixed and we are all sitting down at the dinner table, we go over their journal entries. They each tell me what they drew and what they remember about their day, and I write a couple of sentences down for them.


As a family, we have also been trying to be a little better at reading our scriptures daily. Mornings are out because my husband leaves for work before we are even thinking about waking up, and nights are out because my husband is gone either doing church stuff or umpiring. Plus, at night time, I morph into some sort of monsterous beast.... All my patience is seriously gone at the end of the day, so all I want to do is hurry up and get my children in bed as soon as possible so I can just sit on the couch and play Candy Crush. :) 

Ok, that makes me sound like a lazy and mean parent... which I try not to be... All I'm saying is that the end of the day is not my prime time for trying to have a spiritual moment with my girls. 

So, we have started reading our scriptures at dinnertime! After our meal is finished, instead of jetting off to do whatever we do, we sit and read 5 verses and talk a little bit about those verses. Right now, our scripture time lasts all but 4 1/2 minutes, and it usually consists of me telling Halle to be quiet and listen to daddy read about 28 times. Are my kids getting anything out of it? I don't know, but at least we are trying.

I have ended up keeping their markers and our scriptures in a little basket on our table so that we all remember to write in our journals and read our scriptures.

What are some ways you keep your kids entertained while you're cooking dinner?

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Sweet" Friend - Free Printable!

Over the past few months, I have noticed what fabulous friends I have! I truly am blessed to know such great people, and to have an amazing support system, especially since I'm living out of state about 800 miles from my family. My friends have listened to my rants and strongly held opinions (and trust me.... I rant about a lot of things.... I'm a very opinionated person), have watched my kids, have given me clothes for my kids when they've bought too much for their own kids (you know who you are.... wink, wink) and have just been plain old awesome.

 I have a friend who lives down the street from me (but not for long, boo!) and she has been so wonderful to live by. She is constantly bringing us treats,  delicious dinners, and is always having my kids over to play which means I can catch up on laundry or even sneak in a nap here and there. I wanted to do a little something for her to show my appreciation... so I text her hubby to see what her favorite scent from Bath and Body Works was, and he told me it was Sweet Pea. Honestly, who doesn't love that scent?


So, I headed to the mall to not only stock up on my own soaps (they were having their 5 for $20 deal. Can't beat that!) and I bought her some hand lotion, and I also bought a couple of Sweet Pea hand sanitizers to keep on hand. I created this little printable and made several copies to go along with the little sanitizers just for those little occasions when you want to say "Thanks". Too often, I mean to say thank you, or I mean to take treats to someone, and it just doesn't happen because life gets in the way. But having these printables on hand and ready to go will hopefully (fingers crossed, folks) help me to show my appreciation.


I hope you will take a minute to tell someone how much you appreciate them. Even if they don't love the fabulous scent of Sweet Pea, you can always give them a little candy bar, a container of ice cream, some cookies, or even donuts with this printable. There are a few different awesome ways that you could use this printable...



So seriously... take a minute, download it right here for free!! I put it on an 8.5 x 11 inch document because I always go to Kinkos and print it on glossy cardstock.

Enjoy!

Linked up at Whipperberry

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pintrest Granola Bars... Hmmm...

Pinterest is a fantastic site. If you agree with me, raise your hand. Good. Glad we got that out of the way. :) Hee, hee. It's one of my favorite go-to sites for recipes and DIY projects, and sometimes I get a little pin-happy. I see something that sounds good, so I pin it. However, it gets lost in the couple thousand pins that I currently have (I am in the middle of downsizing). So lately, I've been a little pickier about pinning things. I now actually go to the site it was pinned from and check it out before I pin it, because let's face it... I'm probably not going to do everything I've pinned, so I want to make sure that I'm pinning things that I'll actually do. And in fact, I've done a little bit of Pinterest Purging.... I've been going through and deleting things that I probably won't ever do, or that I've lost interest in. Anyone else do this? If not, you should... it's quite liberating! :)

Moving on... These granola bars were one of my more popular pins. I took one look at the original picture, and they looked delicious! The bars looked absolutely perfect! And I was super excited to make them because they were "healthy", used up some stuff I had in storage, and inexpensive. So, I put the ingredients I didn't have on my shopping list, and went and got them. I set out to make them and followed the directions exactly..... and this was my end result...
 
 

Ahhh yes... They looked spectacular! I was so excited to taste them.... and then I picked them up. And they crumbled. Right in my hands. I was devastated! Why? What did I do wrong? These things tasted delicious.... but they fell apart right before my very eyes. I mean, the website I got the recipe from showed that her granola bars held their shape just fine, so why didn't mine? Hmmmm..... after racking my little brain trying to figure out how this could happen.... and the only thing I could think of was I didn't pack them tight enough.

Lesson learned.

What lesson? That not everything on Pinterest turns out the way it's supposed to. {Remember my chocolate bowl disaster?} Or perhaps that maybe I'm terrible at following directions.... hmmm....

:)

But that's not keeping me from trying new things on Pinterest. :)

Want to attempt these granola bars? I think you should! I bet you can follow directions better than I can! Ha!

Ingredients
1/2 c. honey
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. crunchy peanut butter
1/4 c. butter
4 c. quick oats (not rolled oats)
2 c. crispy rice cereal
3 tsp. vanilla

Directions
*In a large bowl, combine the oats and the crispy rice cereal.
*In a medium saucepan, melt together the honey, brown sugar, peanut butter, and butter. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil then bring the temperature to low and simmer until the sugar disolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
*Pour the hot mixture over the oats and cereal and stir until well combined.
*Press well onto a parchement paper lined cookie sheet.
*Now, pay seriously close attention to the next few directions..... Don't follow my example. I'm pretty sure this is where I went wrong....PACK the mixture as closely and as tightly together as humanly possible. Make it about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick. Let it cool down, and you're ready to enjoy!

**If the mixture doesn't hold well together, you can refrigerate it.... that's what I had to do.... :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring! French Spring Soup

Is anyone else seeing daffodils and tulips popping up, a little peek-a-boo of sunshine in the sky, and maybe the ability to leave your scarf and gloves in the closet.  Folks I think Spring has hit!  Actually today is officially spring. So in honor of more sunshiny days here in Portland, your fab friend Christie is posting today.  Yep, I know you might have forgotten about me, but I am still here.  It's been a doozy of a year, a new baby (love her), starting a new conference (a different baby), moved to a new home (projects coming soon to a blog near you) and just all around trying to figure out how to deal with this life.  I don't know? We will see if I can actually get my groove back, jury is still out.  Now moving on to soup, there is always room for soup.

OMG! This soup is amazing. Not kidding!  Do you want to know what the best part is... my husband made it!  He came home one day and said, "Honey! I had this soup today at the cafe near my work and it was amazing".  He asked them the ingredients and then searched online for a similar recipe, it wasn't quite right so he made it up. Whatever he did...it is soooo good!  And it is pretty dang healthy minus the cream part, but it is made with all veggies, so in my book this is healthy. 


To make this soup you will need the following:
Yield 10 servings
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1 pound leeks, chopped
• 1 onion (yellow), chopped
• 2 quarts water (add ½ quart extra for brown rice)
• 3 potatoes (red), chopped
• 2 large carrots, chopped
• 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
• 1/3 cup uncooked long-grain white rice (substitute brown if desire)
• 4 teaspoons sea salt
• 1/2 pound fresh spinach
• 1 cup heavy cream or ½ pint of half-and-half

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Oreo Cupcakes

Well, well, well... another post that has something sweet in it. :) I've got to get all my sweets out of the way because tomorrow, I am starting a Biggest Loser competition. So, I've been getting my sugar fix in preparation for this little competition. (It's been said that I have a little sweet tooth...) I'm even giving up Diet Coke, which is saying A LOT! I am serious about losing this baby weight (and it's baby weight from my 1st and 2nd and 3rd babies that I need to lose!) and about creating healthier lifestyles for my family...
 
But I thought I would share one last little sweet thing with you... I've posted about these before, but these cupcakes are so yummy that I think they deserve a second post. That, and I really like these pictures a whole lot better than my old pictures. It's amazing how much I've learned about taking photos this past year. I'm not saying that my photography skills are extremely stellar, by any means! But I am saying that I've improved. Just a little bit. :)
 
So, if you need a good laugh and want to see the old photos, you can see them here.
But, if you want to get straight to baking these divine little things, then by all means, keep reading!!
 
 
First: start off with your favorite box of chocolate cake mix.
I used Duncan Hine's Devil's Food Cake because that's what I had on hand. But don't stress too much about what kind of cake mix it is. As long as it turns out somewhat chocolate-y, you are in good shape.

Mix the cake mix according to package directions.

Second: Pour a little batter into your cupcake liners. You don't want to fill the liners up the whole way because you don't want them to overflow once you've put the Oreo cookie in the middle.

Third: place a whole Oreo on top of the batter in each cupcake liner. Yes, a whole Oreo! Yum!
I used Double Stuff Oreo's because that's the only Oreo I will eat. On a little side note... One time my husband came home with a package of just regular Oreo's. I was just heartbroken. I mean, I don't eat them for the cookie part... it's all about the cream! I asked him what in the world prompted him to do such a thing, and his reasoning was you get more Oreo's in the package if they are single stuffed. Pfft. Whatever.

Moving on...
Fourth: Top each liner off with batter until the liner is 2/3 full.
Bake according to the cake mix package directions.

 
Once the cupcakes have completely cooled,
frost them with your favorite buttercream icing.

I used the Vanilla Buttercream Icing recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.
So delicious.
 
After I piped the frosting onto the cupcakes,  I cut an Oreo in 1/4ths using my butcher knife,
and placed a quarter Oreo on each cupcake.
 


And when you are finished, you have a masterpiece of a cupcake! What a simple and fun way to present a cupcake, and you'll have everyone fooled into thinking you spent hours just making these!

I had a little batter left over, so I made some mini cupcakes for my girls. I tried practicing my piping skills, and tried to pipe a little rosette onto the cupcake. It's a little harder than it looks... Ok, it's a lot harder than it looks! I think I'll just stick with the swirly things.

Oh, and by the way... Happy Valentine's Day. All you need is love. And a little Oreo cupcake. :)

Happy Baking!
Claudia

Monday, February 11, 2013

{Totally Kool} Printable

     For Christmas, my hubby bought me Photoshop Elements 11. It was 50% off, and I had been wanting it forever, so I told him to just get it and let it be my Christmas. So much for surprises, eh? Funny thing is, I have never used Photoshop.... so learned it has been a huge learning curve for me. But there is so many cool things that you can do with it!

My first project was designing our header, favicon, and button. Let me tell you... I entered into a whole new world. Pixels, cropping, feathering, layering, merging the layers, etc., etc., etc. My mind was spinning the first couple of days, but I started to get the hang of it. And guess what? It's so fun!! I love designing new things and finding new fonts to try out.... aaahhh! I think I'm going crazy!

Valentine's is fast around the corner, and my two little girls are going to a little Valentine's Day party that me and a couple of friends put together on a whim. It's a pretty low-key party, so the actual valentines didn't have to be anything spectacular, but I really wanted to make my own instead of buying them. I've pinned some valentine's ideas here and I had my oldest daughter pick out what valentine she wanted to give to her friends. (My 3 yr old daughter doesn't really care.... so she gets whatever her older sister picked.) And Ava picked to give out Kool-Aid. I've seen some pretty cute printables, but I really wanted to learn how to make my own.

And guess what?

I did! I made my very own valentine, and I am so excited that I want to share it with you!!!




 To download it, just click here. It's free. Can it really get better than that? Nope. Don't think so! I hope you enjoy!

Happy Downloading!

Claudia

Friday, February 8, 2013

Marshmallow Brownies

Wow. Three posts this week? Who are we? Just kidding. Like I said, I feel like I am starting to get in the groove of things  so I have a little time to bake here and there. That, and I have a family to feed, so I might as well share the recipes I make, right? I know I could always use some new recipes, so I might as well share them with you!
 So, on Sunday there was a little game called the Super Bowl. Ever heard of it? Well, we were invited over to our friends house to watch the game, and of course I offered to bring something. As my friend and I were texting back and forth, I was assigned to bring the dessert because (according to my neighbor) I always make good desserts. Little does she know, I only share the success desserts... you know, the desserts that actually turn out.... not everything I make turns out.... so needless to say, I was just a little nervous to come up with a good dessert. GAME ON! (Ha, ha, ha....).

Saturday night came, and I was half tempted to just run to the store and pick up some rootbeer and ice cream and have rootbeer floats. Can't go wrong with that.... but I didn't want to seem like a slacker, especially since our friends were going to a lot of work to make some yummy food and since she was expecting a delicious dessert...

 
 Soooooooo....
 
 
After much deliberation (ok, like 5 minutes....) I decided to make these brownies topped with marshmallows and a chocolate ganache. Come on, a brownie topped with marshmallows and chocolate? It didn't take much convincing for me to make these... And am I ever glad I did! But I have to tell you, I was literally on pins and needles waiting for them to cook (remember how my friend expected a good dessert? What if these didn't turn out? Aack! The suspense was too much to bear!).
 
 
But my little heart sang as I cut these up. Why? See for yourself...
 
 
I have never, I repeat... NEVER, had a brownie set up like this! It was UH. MAZE. ING!
Just looking at these pictures, I have to wipe the drool off my chin!
When we took these over to my neighbors, I was glad I decided against rootbeer floats. Especially after I saw how much food they had made! Boy was I glad that I put a little work into this dessert.
 
 
Yeah, still can't get over how good these are.
Just looking at these pictures makes me want another bite!
 
Nom, nom!
Enjoy!
 
 
Marshmallow Brownies
 
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups tiny marshmallows
 
Chocolate Drizzle (Make while brownies are baking...)
In a medium saucepan, combine a 12 oz package of semisweet chocolate chips with 1/2 cup whipping cream, and 1/4 cup of butter. Cook and stir on medium-low heat until the chocolate is melted.
 
*Preheat ovento 350 degrees. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan (or the biggest pan you've got) with foil, making sure that the foil extends over the edges of the pan. **On a little side note, my foil just went to the top of the pan, and it was fine. Grease the foil (I just used cooking spray) and set the pan aside. In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, and baking soda together. Set aside.
 
*In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, water, and cocoa powder. Heat over medium heat and bring just to boiling point, stirring constantly. Add to the flour mixture. Beat with mixer on medium until combined. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat again. (The batter will be pretty thin... don't be alarmed! All is well!) Pour the batter into the baking pan.
 
*Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Sprinkle with marshmallows right away. Then top with chocolate drizzle. Cool in the pan and use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan. Cut them into bars and for heavens sake, ENJOY!
 

 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

{Cinnamon Chex Mix}

     Since having three children, I have discovered that it is virtually impossible to get a decent picture with all three of them co-operating. Anyone else have this problem? My first child loves to pose and pose and pose some more for the camera. I love it, but I am always desperately trying to get just a candid shot of her! My second child is a bundle of energy and really can't sit still for more than a nano second. Really... I'm not joking. Before I got a DSLR (greatest investment of my life!), every single picture I have of her is blurry. And even now, I still get blurry pictures from time to time. Then my third child is only 2 1/2 months old, so she really doesn't know what the heck is going on when it comes time to take pictures.
     Last Sunday, all three of my girls were looking just darling in their Sunday outfits, and of course I wanted to capture that moment in time. So I sat all of them on the couch, and Ava (my oldest) insisted on holding Colbie (the youngest) and I was somehow supposed to have a Kodak moment. Yeeeeaaaaahhhhh.... that didn't happen. Instead, here's what I got...


 

   Ahhhhh.... the memories that these pictures will forever hold. As much as I would love to someday have a decent photo of all 3 girls, I really do cherish these pictures because they capture just a small portion of what having 3 little kids is really like.



    What makes these kids even crazier is when they are hopped up on some sugar! Yes, I am a terrible, rotten mother, and I feed my kids sugar... sometimes they have marshmallows for breakfast! Oh well... you're only a young mother once, and you're only a kid once. Marshmallows for breakfast once in awhile won't hurt anyone. When I made this Cinnamon Chex Mix, I caught my girls sneaking it a couple of times for breakfast, but who could blame them? This stuff is scrumptious! I loved how it turned out because it had the perfect amount of crunchy and chewy.... that's a hard balance to come by, wouldn't you agree?

 

    I first tasted Cinnamon Chex Mix at our New Year's Eve party. A friend of mine brought it, and I couldn't stop munching. It satisfied my sweet tooth, which is unusual. Not because I don't have a big sweet tooth, but because it seems that only chocolate is the sweet tooth satisfier. :) I promise, you probably already have the ingredients to make this.... so why not give it a try?

Cinnamon Chex Mix

*1 1/4 cups brown sugar
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1/2 cup butter
*1/4 cup corn syrup
*1/2 tsp baking soda
*1 tsp vanilla
*1 box Rice Chex or Corn Chex
 
 
Directions:
Pour cereal into a very large mixing bowl and set aside. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir constantly. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour over cereal and stir lightly until all pieces are coated. Spread onto a greased cookie sheet with sides (I poured mine into a greased 9x13 baking pan because my cookie sheet wasn't big enough, and I like the depth of the baking pan. The mix doesn't spill over the sides when I mix it while it's baking.)
 
Bake at 250° for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Pour onto waxed paper to cool. Once it's cooled, you can break it apart and enjoy the cinnamony goodness that is abundant in this delightful snack!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ricotta Cookies

Little Colbie is now 10 weeks old. 10 WEEKS! I know every mother says this, but I'm going to say it too... I WANT TIME TO SLOW DOWN! I feel like time is just whizzing by, especially since she is my third child, but, at the same time, I am enjoying watching her grow.  She has started to talk and interact a little, and she just couldn't be any darn cuter.
 
Plus...
 
She is finally able to fit into her little Michael Jordan outfit that we bought her...
 
 
Yeah, how cute is that? We live a couple of miles away from Nike World Headquarters, and while our friend was at the Nike Employee Store, he found this outfit and got it... for 1/2 off the retail price. Schaweet!
 
Oh, on a little side note... I will always remember the first time I saw Nike World Campus. I had lived here for about a week, and I was driving to Winco when I stopped at a red light (like every good driver should do...). I looked to the left of me and BAM! There it was! Nike World Campus! It is a sight to behold, and it also explains why I kept seeing joggers everywhere. :)
 
Back to the post...
Miss Colbie is growing like a weed, and I am just loving every minute with her!
And I finally feel like I am getting back into somewhat of a routine since she is sleeping longer at night.
 
Getting back into a routine, means that I am cooking and baking (and crafting) just a little bit more. Sure, there are nights when we have pb&j or just pull out a freezer meal, but I'm trying to make an effort to have a more consistent dinner routine.
 
Some easy dinners (at least for me) are Italian dinners, which include ricotta cheese.
But every time I cook an Italian dinner, I end up with extra ricotta cheese.
The leftover isn't enough to make another dinner out of, but it's just too much to throw away...
 
 

That's where these Ricotta Cookies are a perfect solution!
They use just a cup of ricotta, enough to finish off what I usually have leftover!
I love the consistency that the ricotta gives these scrumptious cookies...
and I also love that I don't have to waste anything!
 
Ricotta Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup ricota cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract

*Heat oven to 350. Coat baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

*In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg, ricotta, and vanilla. Continue to cream until well combined.

*Slowly add in flour mixture and beat until blended. Drop by tablespoon onto the baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. Let it cool on the sheet for 3 minutes, remove, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
3 TBSP milk
Optional: Add in some lemon zest or lemon juice for a little zing.

*Beat powdered sugar and milk together until well blended. If the glaze is too thick, add a tiny bit of milk. If the glaze is too runny, add in a little more powdered sugar. Drizzle onto cooled cookies and set aside until the glaze has hardened.

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