Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Sugar Rush: Vanilla Butterfinger Cupcakes

This is the very last sugar rush recipe I'm going to post. I don't know about you, but that is probably enough sugar for me!

I've saved something pretty fantastic for the last sugar rush recipe, though. These cupcakes are deliciously  good. Seriously. Amazingly. Wonderfully. Yummy. They are also pretty easy. I made them up after a whirlwind all-day-long baking day. We were supposed to take a dessert to my husband's work Christmas party and we had to be there in two hours, plus still make sure our little one got dinner and put to bed before we left. I was able to pull it off because these cupcakes were so easy. And I believe they earned four stars from the reviews everyone sitting at our table gave me. Easy and delicious. That's good enough in my book.

Vanilla Butterfinger Cupcakes
Recipe from Your Cup of Cake
Makes: 24 cupcakes

1 box vanilla cake mix with pudding in the mix
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp oil
2 egg whites + 1 whole egg
1 cup buttermilk {see note below}
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and line two cupcake pans with liners.
In a small bowl, sift the cake mix to remove any lumps. Add cinnamon and stir. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine egg whites, whole egg, and oil together. Mix just until combined - you don't want to over beat it.
Add buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla to egg mixture and stir to combine.
Slowly add cake mix to egg mixture and stir just until cake mix is entirely moistened.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 15-17 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan. 

Vanilla Butterfinger Buttercream:
3/4 cup {1 1/2 sticks} of salted butter, softened {you can use unsalted but I prefer the flavor of salted}
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 crushed Butterfinger bars

Beat butter and peanut butter on high for 3 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition,  until it reaches desired consistency. Add sour cream and mix well. Add more powdered sugar if needed then stir in the crushed Butterfinger pieces.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with additional crushed Butterfinger pieces. Ta-da! Some delicious cake.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Sugar Rush: Andes Mint Cookies

Our sister-in-law made them once for a family function and they were gone so quickly I never even got the chance to try them! My husband told me they were really good so I figured I'd better make some and see for myself. When I asked for the recipe, she told me I could find it on a back of Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips. When I finally found some chips and tried the recipe for myself, I found that everyone was right. These cookies are positively delicious! I have only ever found the baking chips during the holiday season so when I see them I stock up on a few bags to have throughout the year. Because let's be honest, Andes mints are the best. {No, they aren't paying me to say that. I just really really love their mints!} I always get excited when the holidays come around because I see the baking chips coming out again and I dream about making these delicious cookies. Well, okay, I get excited about the holidays for other reasons, too.

Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies
Recipe from Andes
Makes approx 4 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar {dark is best, though I have used regular before}
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 package {10 oz} Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips
2 2/3 cup flour, sifted

Blend butter, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs until mixed. Stir in Andes Baking Chips and then add flour. Chill approximately one hour in refrigerator before baking.
Once dough has been chilled, heat oven to 350 degrees. After chilling, form the cold dough into 1-inch balls and flatten slightly. Raise oven rack one level above middle and bake on non-stick baking pans or pans that have been lightly greased.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on pans for two minutes before removing.

Holiday Sugar Rush: Ginger Cranberry Shortbread Wedges

Can you believe that this shortbread was my introductory foray into the world of ginger? I believe I am quite the fan. The combination of ginger and cranberries with the delicious flavor of shortbread makes these cookies perfect for the holidays.
Ginger-Cranberry Shortbread Wedges
Recipe from Betty Crocker Cookies
Makes approx. 16 cookies

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger {I found mine in the bulk section of Winco though I'm sure you can find it near the spices in any grocery store}
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped {I used craisins and it worked out fine}
2 tsp granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix butter, powdered sugar and ginger until fully incorporated. Stir in the flour and cranberries.
Form the dough into a rough disk shape. On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat the dough down into a 9-inch circle. Shortbread doesn't really change much when it's baking so remember that the thickness of the dough is about what the thickness of your cookie will be. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into 16 wedges.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Sugar Rush: Caramel & Heath Bar Cupcakes

These cupcakes are deliciously moist and caramel-y. If you have an event you want to take cupcakes to, you can't go wrong with these. Yum!
Note: All cupcake flags and toppers were made using Stampin' Up stamping sets and ink colors.

Caramel and Heath Bar Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes:
Recipe from Your Cup of Cake
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
2 Heath Bars, crushed 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners.
Combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
Sift in (for easy mixing) cake mix and add sour cream. Stir in the heath bars.
Fill liners ¾ full and bake for 18-22 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool in the pan.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Caramel Sauce

You'll also need Heath Bars, broken into bits or a bag of broken toffee bits

Once cupcakes have cooled and frosting and caramel sauce have been prepared, put the caramel sauce into a squeeze bottle. Poke the tip of the squeeze bottle into the cupcakes and squeeze in caramel sauce until the cupcake begins to expand. Go ahead and poke and fill each cupcake a couple times until all the caramel sauce has been used.
Once you've filled all the cupcakes with caramel sauce, pipe the buttercream frosting onto them. Top with crushed Heath bars.

Holiday Sugar Rush: Caramel Corn Balls

This caramel corn is perhaps the most delicious I've ever tasted. I know, that's kind of a bold statement. But this is really delicious. The last time I made this, I told myself I would only take a bite out of one of the balls. But once I started I couldn't stop! I have to be very careful when I make this because it is just so good I'm quite certain I could eat a whole batch. I got the recipe from the ever reliable AllRecipes and with just a couple tweaks I think it's perfect. I'm feeling pretty bold today. :)

For this recipe, I recommend using a candy thermometer just because it makes really easy. You can get them pretty inexpensively at WalMart. My thermometer is pretty nifty and even has "soft ball" printed right on the exact temperature that makes it perfect. However, if you don't have a candy thermometer, you can still make this without it. Just see the note below about cooking candy to soft ball stage.

This recipe can be cut in half pretty well. If you want to cut it in half, I recommend using about three bags of popcorn. The other ingredients easily divide in half. 

Soft Caramel Corn
 Recipe adapted from AllRecipes
 Makes: approx 40 popcorn balls, about the size of my fist or slightly larger

5 bag microwave popcorn, popped {or the equivalent in home popped}
2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla


Spread the popcorn onto a clean surface and carefully pick up the popped kernels, putting them in a bowl, until all that is left is the unpopped kernels; discard.
In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, cook the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter, stirring constantly. Heat to 235-245 degrees, soft ball stage {see note below}. In my experience this takes between 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully pour in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla; stir until smooth.
Slowly pour about 1/4 of the caramel sauce at a time over the popcorn, stirring the popcorn after each addition until all the popcorn is equally covered. Cool about ten minutes before forming into balls.
Store in an airtight container and it will stay nice and soft. :) 

*Note: Soft Ball Stage refers to syrups being cooked to between 235-245 degrees F. If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can test the syrup to see if it has reached the right stage by placing a small spoonful of the hot syrup into really cold water. You'll know the stage is right if the syrup balls up easily with your fingers in the water but flattens out when you remove it from the water.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Sugar Rush: Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies

My hubby is a pretty big fan of cherry. These cookies were a little too chocolatey for me, but I think they were a hit with my hubby and his littlest fan, our daughter.

Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Recipe adapted slightly from Betty Crocker Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup margarine, softened
1/4 milk, room temperature
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried, chopped cherries

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, milk, almond extract and egg with an electric mixer or spoon until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda and coca. Add to the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients until incorporated. On an ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly in the center and surface is no longer shiny. Immediately remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Holiday Sugar Rush: Lemon Bars

I've mentioned before that I've been looking for the perfect lemon bar. I was having a hard time finding it. So I finally just started combining and tweaking recipes until I came up with what made me happy. These bars make me happy. I like them slightly chilled, though not completely cold.

Delicious Lemon Bars

1 cup butter, cold and cut into small squares
1 3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add the butter and cut into the other dry ingredients until well combined and crumbly in appearance. Press mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides slightly.
Bake for 17-20 minutes or until slightly golden.

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp lemon zest
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice {you can use the stuff that comes in a bottle but fresh is better}

Whisk together all dry ingredients and lemon zest. Add the eggs and lemon juice and mix well.
Pour on top of the warm crust and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the topping has set and browned. Cool.
Once cooled, sprinkle the top with additional powdered sugar.
Store tightly closed in the refrigerator.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Sugar Rush: White Chocolate Popcorn Bark

This popcorn treat is perhaps the easiest treat you'll make all winter. Because you will make it. I'm just sure of it. :)

White Chocolate Popcorn Bark

2 bags microwave popcorn {I like it with extra butter to give the bark a nice sweet & salty flavor} or equivalent of home popped popcorn
3 large squares white chocolate almond bark
1 1/2 cups pretzels, lightly broken into pieces
Any add-ins you desire {see below}

Pop your popcorn according to package directions. Spread the popcorn out on some waxed or parchment paper and remove the unpopped kernels. Melt the white chocolate almond bark according to package directions and drizzle over the popcorn. Sprinkle the pretzels and any desired add-ins over popcorn/chocolate mixture. Allow chocolate to harden, break into pieces, and enjoy!

Possible add-ins:
Chocolate chips
Smooth & Melty Mints {as seen in the photos}
Candy Corn
Reece's Pieces

Note: you can also substitute the white chocolate almond bark for milk or semi-sweet for a chocolatey flavor. 

Holiday Sugar Rush: White Chocolate and Craisin Cookies

These cookies are so soft. Somewhat surprising based on how they always look when they are finished, but they really do stay so soft. They also keep well in the freezer so bake up a batch and hide em where no one will see so you can snitch a cookie whenever you feel like it put them in the freezer to save for later.

White Chocolate and Craisin Cookies
Recipe adapted from Jacobs, Powell and Harris

1 cup shortening {butter flavor is best}
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup craisins

Preheat oven to 375.
Cream shortening and sugars together for 2-3 minutes or until it is light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition; add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
Add the white chocolate chips and craisins to the wet mixture. Stir in the dry ingredients just until fully incorporated. Be careful not to over mix. If the dough is still really wet, add a couple more tablespoons  of flour.
Drop by teaspoon full onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Take out when the cookies still look just a little raw. Leave on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes to finish baking. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Sugar Rush: Homemade Oreos

Since we're already on a cake mix cookie kick, we'll just keep up the trend, at least for another recipe. Everyone probably has a recipe for these. Or at least everyone has tasted them before. Nothing can compare to a soft, homemade Oreo cookie. This is the way I've been making these for years. They always turn out so chewy and delicious. I love making them small to get some tasty little bites of Oreo. It's the way to do it. :)

Soft Homemade Oreos

1 chocolate cake mix {I like German chocolate, but devil's food is pretty good, too}
3/4 cup {1 1/2 sticks} melted butter
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all ingredients together until cake mix is completely moistened. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until firm. Form the dough into walnut size {or smaller if you are like me and like small little Oreos} balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet two inches apart and bake for 6-8 minutes. They may not look quite done when you take them out - they'll still be just a little raw. Leave them on the sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. This helps make sure you get soft, chewy cookies.

Oreo Frosting:

4 oz cream cheese {half 8oz package}, softened
1/4 cup {1/2 stick} butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb {between 3-4 cups} powdered sugar

Place the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and two cups powdered sugar in a bowl. Mix together until smooth. Continue adding powdered sugar 1/2 at a time until you get the consistency you want.

And then comes the tricky part:
Assemble Oreos by spreading frosting on one cookie and topping with another. Delicious!

If you want to make these even more festive, you could add some peppermint or mint extract to the frosting. Add it with the vanilla - put between 1/2 and 1 tsp, depending on your preference.
You could also add some finely crushed peppermint before spreading onto the cookies.
Another yummy option would be adding a few teaspoons of orange zest & freshly squeezed juice to the frosting before spreading. Yum!

Holiday Sugar Rush: Three Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies

The holidays always need a little spice with all the sugar, right? These three ingredient pumpkin are a big hit. I made this for my sister's baby shower and everyone loved them. My cousin even said they were just as good as her mom's more involved and difficult-to-make pumpkin cookies. 

Three Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies
Recipe from Nina Wilkins

1 spice cake mix, sifted
1 14 oz can pumpkin pie filling
1 12 oz bag chocolate or cinnamon chips

Mix pumpkin filling and cake mix together until cake mix is completely mixed in. Add the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 6-9 minutes, or until set and slightly browned. Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Sugar Rush: Fudge Crinkle Cookies

Fudge Crinkle Cookies
Recipe from Betty Crocker Cookies

Makes: approx 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 box devil's food cake mix {a mix with pudding is the best}
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix cake mix, oil, eggs and vanilla with a spoon until a dough forms.
This next step is easier if you refrigerate your dough for about 15 minutes, but it isn't absolutely necessary.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in the powdered sugar. Place balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes, or until set. Allow to finish setting up on the cookie sheet for one minute, then remove to a cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Store tightly covered.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

 This is a basic buttercream recipe, good for cupcakes, sugar cookies and cakes.

Buttercream Frosting
1 cup {2 sticks} real butter, at room temperature {I don't recommend using margarine; it alters the taste and texture too much}
3 1/2 - 4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Put the softened butter into a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add one cup of powdered sugar. Using a hand mixer or the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, beat all the powdered sugar into the butter. Add the second cup of sugar; beat until sugar is incorporated. Add another cup of sugar and incorporate. Add the final 1/2-1 cup sugar and beat on medium speed for 4-5 minutes. Trust me on this. Don't try to cut back on the time. Beating it for this long will make it fluffy and creamy and beautiful. The color will also change and you'll end up with a snow white frosting. It's lovely. Don't forget to scrape the bowl a time or two. Add the vanilla {after you've beat it for 4-5 minutes} and mix just until incorporated. If the flavor is still a little too buttery just add a little more sugar until you get the flavor you want. When you're finished beating the frosting, it should be stiff and hold it's shape {as in the photos} but still be wet enough that it will stick to your surface when you use it.

You can store this frosting in the refrigerator. Just be sure to pull it out about an hour before you need it and once it's softened up again, beat it for a minute or two to fluff it back up.

This frosting colors really well. You can also do a chocolate version by cutting out 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar and adding 1/4 cup cocoa powder at the same time you add the vanilla. If you need a stronger chocolate flavor, just add more cocoa and adjust the powdered sugar measurement accordingly.

If you find that you want a buttercream frosting that isn't quite as sweet, add a 1/4 cup or so of sour cream with the butter. You may have to add a little sugar to get the right consistency but not too much.

Holiday Sugar Rush: Peanut Butter Cookies

This is a little series I'm going to call Holiday Sugar Rush. Christmas is always the time for some extra goodies, right? So I hope you're all ready for some whirlwind goodie posting! I've got lots of recipes to share {and I'm a little behind getting started}. Enjoy the sugar rush! 

This is quite possibly one of the best peanut butter cookie recipes I've ever made. They cook up nice and soft and stay that way for several days {which is amazing for peanut butter cookies}. The flavor is fantastic. I've been making these for years and haven't found any other peanut butter cookie to take it's place.

I know the photos aren't the greatest. Please don't judge me. Things were pretty crazy so I did what I could.
Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. soda
2-1/2 cup flour
½ tsp. salt
Extra granulated sugar

Cream together butter, peanut butter, eggs and vanilla. Add the sugars and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together the flower, baking soda and salt {this helps make sure your baking soda and salt are fully mixed}; add to the rest and mix until incorporated. Roll into balls and roll into the extra white sugar. Press down with a fork in a crisscross manner. Bake at 375oF for 6 minutes, or until slightly browned on the bottoms. Do not over bake!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Themed Food

I've been saving up most of the goodies for this post since last year! I am so excited to finally be sharing. I'll just put here a bunch of ideas for Halloween themed food that you can use for the dinner party I'm sure you're planning. :)

Everything on this list is pretty simple to make, though it can take some time. But it's all so worth it. Have a spooktacular time!!

First for the hors d'oeuvres. :)

Jack-O-Lantern Oreos
Melt down some orange candy melts {I used Wilton brand and bought them at Walmart} according to package directions.
Dip your Oreo into the melted candy.
Smooth it out so you have a somewhat flat surface for your jack-o-lantern. Allow the candy to harden. You can pop these in the refrigerator to speed up that process.
Once the orange candy is hardened, pipe on jack-o-lantern faces using black frosting.
I think these would be a lot of fun with lollypop sticks stuck through the center {just be sure you get double stuffed so they don't fall apart}.

Now time for dinner. 

Mummy Dogs:
Wrap hotdogs in crescent roll dough. Bake in a 350 degree oven or until crescent dough is golden brown. Use ketchep or mustard to give the mummy some eyes. Eat up!

Bones n' Blood:
For this recipe you use bread stick or pizza dough {here's a recipe until I can get you mine}. Roll the dough out and cut it into two inch strips, with whatever length you'd like your bones to be. On each end, use sharp kitchen shears and cut into the bread stick, right in the center {does that even make sense?}. Curl the edges out and around and stick them to the long part of the "bone". Bake according to directions. Serve with marinara sauce.
Spiderweb Pizza:
If you want toppings {including cheese} on this pizza, just put them on the pizza crust before the sauce. Then put your pizza sauce on top of that. Using ranch or alfredo sauce, pipe {for lack of a better word} concentric circles onto the pizza. Place a few olive slices to be the "spiders". Bake the pizza according to directions. When it's all baked up, slice it up to create the web.

Candy Corn Pizza:
This is a basic cheese pizza, using at least two different kinds of cheeses. You'll need a white cheese {I used mozzarella} and a yellow cheese {I used cheddar}. Put the white cheese in the very center of the pizza {and I suggest using more white cheese than orange so it doesn't get taken over as mine practically did} and the orange cheese around the outside. Bake it. Slice it. Eat it. Yum!

 Mashed Potato Ghost:
This might be the easiest thing in this post. Maybe. And isn't it so stinkin' cute?? I love this. I can't claim this idea at all. My sister-in-law did this and I think it's so much fun!
Anyway, it's easy. Whip up your mashed potatoes and then pile them onto a plate in a big mound. Add two olives or black beans for eyes. Voila! Potato Ghost. I think this would be really cute as a bunch of small, individual potato ghost mounds, too. Have fun with it!
Not the greatest photo. Sorry. Check out the link for a better one.

Mummy Meatloaf:
We got this idea from Family Fun and isn't it fun?  
Here's how to make it:
Make up your meatloaf. {We used this recipe but I think it would be delicious using this recipe and even using the glaze.}
In a 9x13 pan, form the meatloaf into the shape of a mummy. Don't forget the arms! {Suggestion: line your pan with tin foil. You'll be happier.}
Bake it according to directions until the meatloaf is done.
When it is done, place mozzarella slices all over the meatloaf to give the mummy his wrapping. The thinner the slices, the better it looks and the faster it melts. We used toothpicks to hold some of the cheese on until it melted.
Put it back in the hot oven for 3-4 minutes or until completely melted.
Place two olive slices for eyes on the mummy's head. Mmm.

Now for the best part: Dessert!

 Brainiac Cupcakes:
These cupcakes are so so easy.
Just bake up your favorite cupcakes.
Make some buttercream frosting. {I'll work on getting a recipe up for that.} Tint it a light orange/pink color {note: if you use gel coloring instead of liquid coloring, you'll get a richer, truer color}. Frost the cupcakes with a thin layer of the frosting {you can see I frosted mine with white - I didn't have enough orange} and put the rest in a baggie. Cut the tip from the baggie and just draw squiggle lines on the cupcake. Ta-da! Brains! :)

 Bloodshot Eye Cupcake:
These cupcakes are almost too much for me. Yes, I have a thing with the way things look grossing me out. But these are sure fun to make {and quite a favorite, actually}.
Bake your cupcakes.
Make some frosting.

Take out three parts of the white frosting. Tint one blue {or some other color you think would be good for an eye}, one red and one black. Again, if you use gel coloring you'll be able to get a true black color. You'll need more blue than red and black, so just plan the amounts of frosting accordingly. Put all the tinted frostings in their own plastic baggies. Cut a small corner of the black and red frosting bag and a larger corner of the blue frosting bag.
Frost the cupcakes in white.
Pipe on some blue for the eye's iris.
Pipe some black onto the blue for the pupil of the eye.
Pipe red in lots of little squiggly lines from the iris out.

Skeleton Cupcakes:
For this cupcake {idea from Family Fun}, I made chocolate cupcakes and chocolate buttercream frosting. Before adding the cocoa to my frosting, I reserved a bit of the white frosting for the skeleton bodies. Frost all the cupcakes with the chocolate frosting. Place a miniature marshmallow at one side of the cupcakes for the skeleton's head. Pipe the bodies by drawing a little stick figure under the marshmallow and adding two lines across the center of his body to give him ribs. You can pipe on some black decorators gel for the face or do like I did and just use a toothpick dipped in black frosting to draw the faces on. 

 Spiderweb Cupcakes:
Easy peasy.
Bake your cupcakes.
Frost with white frosting.
Draw concentric circles {three or four} around the cupcake using black frosting or decorators gel. Gel probably looks the best. But if you use frosting like me, don't be like me and wait to finish the webs until all your cupcakes have circles. They look better if you pipe on the circles and then pull the toothpick through right after so the frosting doesn't have any time to set up.
Using a toothpick, pull lines from the center outward, creating the web.

Fuzzy Monster Cupcakes:
These are currently my favorite! Aren't they so cute?
Bake your cupcakes.
Make your frosting. Reserve a small amount of white frosting; you'll color the rest. Tint half of it orange and then flavor the other half with cocoa powder. Then pipe your frosting onto the cupcakes like grass. I used Wilton tip 18, which is a star tip, but you could also use a grass tip. {For a quick tutorial on how to pipe with this technique, check out this video.} Then pipe two white circles onto the cupcake for the eyes. Finish it off by piping a small black circle onto the white using black frosting or decorators gel.

There you have it! Some yummy and very fun Halloween food ideas! Have a fun party!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday with Tierra!

Hey all!! I know I disappeared there for a long while! Im sure you were all just so worried... lol.. Well I am alive... I got so busy with work that I kept forgetting and the next thing you know a couple months has gone by! I sincerely apologize!
Sorry for letting you down Jessica but I am going to do my best to start back up on Tuesdays. Since we got smart phones I never get on the computer and currently our internet isnt wireless so I havent been getting on as much. Anyway i know excuses excuses!

Well today I am gonna share a recipe I got off of It is such a simple fast, easy snack!

Pretzel Bites!


5-10 thawed Rhodes Rolls (1 roll makes 4 bites)
1/2 cup melted butter
Cinnamon Sugar Mixture (1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
1/2 cup finely graded parmesan cheese


Once Rolls are thawed take a sharp knife and cut into four pieces like your cutting a pizza.
Get a medium sized sauce pan and bring water to a boil. Plop no more then 10 pieces into the boiling water for about 45 seconds. They will puff up. Use a slotted spoon to take them out and placed on a cookie sheet with a paper towel laid down to soak up the excess water. They might deflate a little but not to worry it will all work out!
Once you are all done with that place them on a greased cookie sheet and put in the oven to bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown. (Now i have a gas stove so the heat comes from the bottom and not the top. So they did not all get golden brown and you have to watch the bottoms so they dont burn. In my oven it only took about 10 minutes)
While that is baking melt the 1/2 cup of butter and put in a big ziploc baggy. Also put the Cinnamon Sugar mixture in another big ziploc baggy.
When bites are done first put them in the butter, seal the bag and shake!!! Then add into the Cinnamon Sugar, seal the bag, and shake!! Use tongs to take them out and place on a plate.
You can also do just plain ones with butter and sea salt!
You can also shake them in a bag with butter, Parmesan and garlic. Which I did but the Parmesan was not the right kind so didnt work but my husband liked them!

A couple of different sauces to use from that blog are: (I made the vanilla glaze one which was great but i did not do the cheese one. My friend who was with me made a glaze with just powdered sugar and orange juice!! It was my favorite!!)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract.
Combine sugar, milk, butter and vanilla and mix well.
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups of grated Cheddar Cheese.
Melt the butter in a med. size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until blended, and
butter has turned lightly golden brown. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar Cheese until smooth and all of the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Shake a few red pepper flakes into sauce for added zing!

If you go to her blog it shows really good pictures of step by step process. You will notice some differences between her steps and mine just find whatever works for you!!

A couple days later I went to pretzelmaker and got some pretzel bites! And to be honest I really enjoyed these ones wayyy better! I do plan to find a pretzel bite recipe making my own dough but this is such a nice easy fast way to make a snack!Sorry for the lame picture lol. We made these at night and the lighting in my house is horrible. So go check out the pics on the other blog! They are great~ (Going clockwise from the left are Cinnamon sugar, parm and garlic and butter and salt)
This was such a fun girls activity!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

I have always loved cooking and baking.

I've always put the two together and said I loved them both. Probably equally.

But not anymore. I think I have finally decided that my favorite of the two is baking. It is so, so much fun!

As I told a friend recently, there are a lot of variables when it comes to baking. There are all kinds of things you can do differently that will change the outcome of what happens when you bake. There are also things beyond your control, like the way your oven heats, that also affect your baked goods. The best thing to do with those things beyond your control is to experiment and learn what you can do to still get what you want with what you've got. For example, in one of the apartments we have lived in, our oven heated too warm. We experimented and finally learned that the best way to get things to turn out the way we wanted was to turn down the temperature 25 degrees before baking. No more burning or over cooking. Perfect.

As far as variables that you can affect, there are all kinds of secrets out there about what to do/not to do for your baking to be a success. I won't pretend to be an expert on any baking secret, but I have found a few things that really help with baking.

Number one: people like shortcuts. They like cutting corners, taking the easy route, simplifying things. And, hey, I'm all about simplicity! Life is way too complicated as it is, no use making anything more complicated than it has to be. However, when it comes to baking, cutting corners is a bad idea. If a recipe says to add and beat eggs one an at a time, do it one at a time. I know, it takes a whole two minutes longer. Must save those minutes, right? Wrong! In baking, it really does make a difference. Pinky swear. Now, let me just say that I am almost the complete opposite when it comes to cooking. Experiment, change things up, do things differently, whatever! But when it comes to baking, just follow the recipe instructions.

Number two: margarine cannot always be used as a substitute for butter. I am a total advocate of saving money and I totally get that margarine is so much more affordable than butter. And I'll be totally honest and admit that I use margarine in place of butter almost any time I make cookies. But I also almost always use real butter in cupcakes and frosting recipes. It truly does make a huge difference.

Number three: mixing sugars and fats {i.e. - sugar and butter or sugar and oil} needs to be done thoroughly. While you're beating the two together, if you mix it long enough {sometimes it only needs a minute or less, but longer than just enough to mix them basically together}, you'll notice that the color starts to change. That's a good thing and it's what you want. I don't know the science behind it, but it creates wonderful things in your oven. Not all recipes need this much mixing, but every time I've done it this way, I end up with a better product.

That's enough "secrets" for today. Let's get on to these cupcakes, shall we? These cupcakes are so good. Seriously, I had about five different people ask me for the recipe within a couple days. I made two batches of these cupcakes within four days. They are just that good.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Recipe from Crazy About Cupcakes, page 53

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium sized tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped small

Preheat the oven to 350. Insert liners into a cupcake pan.
In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer) beat together the brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed. I usually mix it for at least a minute, or longer if it needs to be mixed more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. I always sift in my first cup of flour and then add the baking powder and salt to the second cup to sift with the flour.
Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. I add about a 1/4 or 1/3 of the dry mixture at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat until well blended (don't forget to scrape your bowl!). Stir in the apples.
Fill the cupcake liners one-half to three-quarters full with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan {I've tried cooling my cupcakes in an airtight container before to preserve the moistness, but I generally find that cooling them in the pan works just as well}.

To assemble Caramel Apple Cupcakes:
Once all your cupcakes have cooled, poke three holes in the tops of each cupcake using the handle of a serving spoon {it's best if your handle is nice and round so you get good holes}. Make up a double batch of Caramel Sauce {or do like I did and make one batch for pouring over the cupcakes and then another for drizzling - whatever your preference}. Pour the caramel sauce over each cupcake, being sure to fill up the holes really well. Once you've filled up each cupcake, go back and pour caramel sauce over them again. Did I mention that this isn't a cupcake for sissies? 'Cuz it really ain't. Yes, pouring caramel sauce over cupcakes twice might seem awful indulgent. But it is oh, so good! And somewhat necessary, that first round gets soaked up pretty quick. The second round gives it a nice soaking and really gives the cupcake that caramel flavor.
Now make up some Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting. Pipe it onto your cupcakes. Don't be stingy, now. Pipe it on nice and high {my husband keeps telling me that cupcakes don't need that much frosting. But come on! They look so awesome!}. If you'd like a little tutorial about piping frosting, check out Your Homebased Mom. She has a nice video tutorial with some good tips about cupcakes. Then spoon the remaining Caramel Sauce over the top of the cupcakes {I prefer to put the sauce into a squeeze bottle and drizzle it over with the small nozzle - this really gives me control of how my cupcakes look}. And lookie there - you've just made yourself a gourmet cupcake! Enjoy!

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

This is the next recipe that came from Crazy About Cupcakes. The ginger in this frosting gives it a subtle, enticing flavor that really pulls you in. It is delicate and sweet and the perfect combo with Caramel Sauce and the cupcakes recipe above!

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Crazy About Cupcakes, page 86

1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger

In a medium bowl cream together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, usually about 1 minute.
Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and continue beating. Mix until all lumps are gone and it starts to be slightly stiff* {please see note below}. Add the vanilla and ginger and mix until fully integrated.

*Note: this will not be buttercream stiff. It will be slightly stiff in that it will begin to hold it's shape, but thanks to the cream cheese, if it gets very warm it will be melty. This frosting doesn't need any more sugar than I listed above. If you don't really care about piping your frosting {but I'm telling you, it's so much faster and more fun than spreading with a knife}, you can even use about 1/2 cup less. You only need all the sugar if you want it to hold it's shape enough to pipe. 

Caramel Sauce

This recipe comes from a book called "Crazy About Cupcakes" by Krystina Castella. I really love this book. My wonderful cousin {hi, Tierra!} gave it to me several months ago when she read my bucket list and saw that I had a desire to learn how to make gourmet cupcakes. Anyway, this caramel sauce goes with one of the cupcake recipes I made recently. It is truly delicious sauce and I would totally just eat it with a spoon!

Caramel Topping
Recipe adapted slightly from Crazy About Cupcakes, page 95

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick)  butter {you can use unsalted but I like the taste of salted better
1/4 cup cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan over medium heat bring the brown sugar, butter, and cream to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer (just above low on my gas stove) and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir in the vanilla.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Angel Chicken

So, did I chase you all away after my last post? Sometimes I'm not in the best mindset for blogging. I think I was in a rambling mood that day. Surprising you even got a recipe out of that! Anyway, I'm back {sort of} and trying to figure out how to make my computer time more effective so that I can share recipes more often. 

I found this recipe in a Kraft recipes magazine I got ages ago. I think it was a 2009 magazine. But I only just recently got around to trying it out. So so tasty! And the best part is this recipe is perfect for doing in the crock pot so it can be a make-ahead, too. I love those!

Angel Chicken
Recipe from Kraft

4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Cream Cheese, very soft
1 can  cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup Italian Dressing
1/4 cup  chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 lb.  angel hair pasta, uncooked
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley OR 2 tsp dried parsley

Put your chicken pieces into a frying pan with a small bit of oil. Cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is done. Turn heat down to low and cover while completing next part.

Beat first 4 ingredients with whisk until well blended; pour over chicken in pan. Simmer on medium/low for 10-15 minutes to let the flavors blend. {Alternate cooking method: put the chicken in a crock pot; cover with the cream cheese mixture. Cook on low 4 to 5 hours or on high 2 to 3 hours.}

Cook pasta as directed on package; drain. Serve topped with chicken mixture and parsley. {Note: if using the dried parsley, mix it into the chicken mixture just before serving.}

Monday, August 1, 2011


Okay, let's talk for a minute. The topic of discussion: life.

Now wait! Don't run away just yet.

I know it's not the most fun of conversation topics and it's really easy to get all Debby Downer on the subject. But here, I'll make it better - let's talk about my life.

Not better?

Okay, never mind.

Wait. Not never mind. Ah, what a quandary this post seems to be. You see, I want to tell you how busy I've been. I want to tell you about how I just don't ever feel like cooking in the summer. I want to show you pictures and brag about everything that's been accomplished this summer. That, my friends, is life. And sometimes, life starts a sprint race and forgets to tell you about it.

Life hasn't ever done that to you?


Well, that's what it feels like has happened to me this summer. Never in my life have I had a busier summer. I am still trying to figure out what everyone means when they talk about summer being the perfect time to get all that reading in. I haven't hardly picked up a book in a couple months! {Okay, so this isn't entirely true. I have actually finished a few books in the last couple months. However, it feels like it's not much because it's less than normal. I'm a read-aholic. :D As if that's a real thing.}

Anywho, as I've been busy catching up to the life that took off without me, this little 'ole blog has taken the back, back burner. The one that isn't even on. It's cold and lifeless. I'm sure glad Tierra has been around to keep it going the last couple weeks. But now I'm back {hopefully!} - and with a recipe that will surely help with your "I don't feel like cooking in this hot summer weather" attitude.

Huh? That's just me, too? Okay, never mind again. Maybe I should just shut up now.

Or not! Tricked ya! Can't hush up until I've posted the recipe. And then the next time I'm back, I'll try to make sure I make sense. Thanks for sticking it out with me! I hope you've all been having a great summer!

Recipe from Mary Bingham

1/2 lb ground beef or turkey {I like a mix}
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp oil
1 can sweet kernel corn, drained or 1 cup frozen sweet corn
Salt and pepper to taste {I actually really like seasoned salt with this}

In a large skillet on medium heat, brown the ground beef; drain and transfer to a bowl or plate. Add the onion and garlic powder and mix well. In the same skillet you used to brown the burger, add the potatoes and oil; cook on medium low heat until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Once potatoes are done, add the ground beef and the corn. Cook on low for 5 minutes, or until corn in warmed through. Salt and pepper to your liking. Enjoy!


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