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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