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March 27, 2013

Rainbow Bread

It was a spur of the moment decision to make this one night after work. I found the recipe on Pinterest and figured the kids at my daughter's school would love this.

After cutting the ingredients in half to make one loaf, I followed the directions to a T, even checking the temperature of the water. Mine didn't rise as much as the photo in the recipe, which could have been my impatience because it was after 9:30pm when I put this in the oven to bake! I didn't taste any, I gave my daughter one slice for PB&J that day and we packaged the rest up to share with her friends at school.

She still talks about it and we will be making this again, perhaps with 3 colors to a loaf, rather than six. 

 

 

Sidenote: my co-worker made this with frozen bread dough and had excellent results! She also made a monkey bread cinnamon sugar recipe in a bunt pan and with frozen dough and it turned out beautifully. 

 

October 09, 2012

Taco Seasoning

I've been pretty hesitant to make my own taco seasoning, but after seeing lots of recipes on pinterest and doing a little research, I decided to take the plunge. My biggest fear is that I don't like spice, not even medium salsa, and I'd whip up a batch of seasoning and it would be too spicy or taste disgusting and I'd have to toss out the entire dish. sigh.

So I made it anyways. And it turned out great! Here's my recipe:

TACO SEASONING

2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoon onion flakes (or powder)
1 teaspoon salt

If you want to add spice, add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste.)

I made three batches and store it in a mason jar. It's pretty aromatic, so I suggest a glass container for storage, otherwise your entire cupboard will smell like taco seasoning. 

I mix 3 tablespoons with 1 lb of meat (beef, turkey, chicken) and I add 2/3 to 3/4 cup of water to my meat. I heat and let the water absorb/cook away. Then I enjoy!

September 03, 2012

Oreo Cake

Because my husband's birthday fell on a Wednesday, we had a little party for him on Friday (since that was my day off) in which we presented him with the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake. But because I'm CRAZY and found something on Pinterest I had to make, I also made him another cake for his birthday.

A few weeks before his big day, Meijer had Oreo cookies on sale - 2 packages for $5 so I picked up two regular oreos and two peanut butter. 

Barely awake, armed with my oreo packages, cake plate and toddler, I began to assemble the cake at 6:04 am on Wednesday so it was ready when my husband (and I) got home from work. 

I used two packages for the bottom and two for the top. It's solid oreos, all the way through, but I'm sure you could leave a hole in the middle or find a cup or something to provide support if you didn't want to make it solid. The peanut butter top was a little tall for my liking, but hey, it was early and it was done and I needed to get into the shower and get ready to go to work. 

First layer complete...
 

 

The finished piece!
 

 

August 28, 2012

Cheesecake Filled Strawberries

I found this image and recipe on pinterest here.

 

It looked like a great idea, but after work, I didn't have time to get this done, so I modified the recipe. So here is my version of Strawberry Cheesecake Bites.

Strawberries - washed, dried and the tops removed
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (I didn't measure and I ground up in my mini food processor)

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped off.

Spread the graham cracker crumbs in a pan. You could use anything here, a plate, waxed paper, bowl, etc.

Pipe a dollop (like that technical term) of the cream cheese mixture onto the graham cracker crumbs and press a strawberry, cut side down, into the cream cheese. Transfer to a plate and immediately refrigerate so the cream cheese firms up.

These were so easy to make, and was so simple on a busy work night that I didn't take an after photo. Plus, they were eaten in an instant! But here they are, ready to be transferred to a plate and tossed into the refrigerator.

 

August 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Pinterest inspired me to make my husband's birthday cake this year. I was excited about this new recipe and after posting a (terrible) mobile picture on Facebook, I had tons of comments and even a recipe request. So here it is!

This cake is very, very rich. You'll want to cut it into small slices or else you'll have a belly ache. You can find the original recipe here. I've noted my edits below with the recipe.

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

CAKE:
1 box cake mix and ingredients for cake.
Make the cake according to the package, two rounds, and cool it completely.

FILLING:
8oz semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I always use Baker's in the red box, and I don't chop it)
8oz heavy cream (also called heavy whipping cream)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Peanut Butter Cups - I purchased two bags of the minis and had leftovers even after decorating and sampling.

Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the chocolate in a medium bowl. Let sit for five minutes. Whisk until the chocolate melts, then whisk in the peanut butter until it's all incorporated and smooth. If you've never made chocolate ganache before, know that it can be tricky. Sometimes after it's all mixed, I let it set for 15 or more minutes to cool and thicken. You can always encourage thickening by putting into the refrigerator, but set a timer, and be sure to check it every five minutes. When it is completely set, it's similar to fudge. If you need to soften it, put it in the microwave for a minute at a time, at 50% power. Stirring after every minute. While my ganache sets, I made the frosting. 

FROSTING:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add the vanilla, then the sugar. I beat mine until it was pretty fluffy. But then it seemed too solid, so I added a touch more vanilla. You can probably add milk, so it's similar to a frosting consistency.

ASSEMBLY:
Place one round cake on a cake stand or plate. Cover the top in the peanut butter fudge filling. I only used about 1/3 of the peanut butter/fudge filling/ganache here. You'll need some for the next few steps, so don't use it all. I also speckled the top of the ganache with mini peanut butter cups. This is completely optional.

Place the second 9-inch round on top. Using ganache, spread a thin layer on the outside of the cake. Refrigerate until the fudge is set and firm to the touch.

Slather the whole thing in the peanut butter frosting. I struggled with this part because my frosting was thick, but it was delicious so I kept going. I did manage to get the frosting to cover the entire cake, but it was somewhat thin on the top so I decided to take the remaining ganache and pour it on top of the cake before decorating it. I think it polished the piece nicely. To decorate the bottom of the cake, I cut the peanut butter cups in half, because I was afraid I might not have enough.

I tossed it into the fridge and took out to "thaw" before serving. It is best at room temperature because the ganache and frosting will become firm. 

This might look intimidating, but it is not. I encourage you to try it! 

 

 

December 19, 2011

Penguin Party

I've been hyping up Rachel's 2nd birthday party when I talk to her about it. I assure her she is having a penguin party and shortly after seeing her penguin cake, she realized what was going on. She would wake up from her nap and see the cake and say, "penguin party." When she saw her penguin party favors she would say, "waddle, waddle, waddle, penguin party." 

We've been wearing our penguin finger puppets and practicing our song so we shared it with our friends at school. She loves to sing it and so did the kids. It's so great being next door to her school!

 

 What on Earth do you do with....homemade Fish Graham Crackers...

...Penguin Cups...

...homemade penguin finger puppets...

...penguin sticker sheets and a thank you card with penguin songs....

 

...you put them all in a gift bag for friends!

And the penguin finger puppet is attached to the back of each bag with a piece of velcro so we could take off the puppet, sing our songs and put it on for each kid to take home.

A penguin party isn't complete without a penguin cake! This was SUPER EASY to make and I found the recipe here. 

 I followed the directions except, I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting, which means I didn't tint the frosting with black food coloring as the recipe stated. I also made the wings out of chocolate. I just melted chocolate chips in a zipper bag, cut the end and traced an oval pattern on waxed paper. Once they were dry, I affixed them with frosting, flat side down. I used necco wafters and m&ms for the eyes.

I made these super easy penguin olives and a cheese ball igloo for snack. I thought the Penguins were going to be very hard to make so I told myself from the beginning I would only make 12 - for the number of kids in her class. I used jumbo and medium olives, one carrot and half a brick of cream cheese, heated in the microwave. I then cut a triangle out of the jumbo olives and used a pastry bag with tip to fill the bellies with cream cheese.


The cheese ball recipe was very basic: 2 bricks cream cheese, 1 packet ranch and 2 cups shredded cheese. It's quite mild, so it might be perfect for toddlers. I put it in a bowl with plastic wrap and then let it set up/harden. I heated the other half of the cream cheese brick in the microwave and spread it on the igloo, then let it set up and used a skewer to make ice blocks on the igloo.

And of course my daughter wore her penguin tee shirt on her special day! Two penguins for a 2 year old! 

 

 

December 20, 2010

First Birthday Treat

I fell in love with cake bites/cake balls a while ago and have been trying to find an excuse to make them for every event. Usually I roll them in balls and dip them in chocolate and call it good, but this year, for Rachel's first birthday, I stumbled upon these and HAD to make them.

My first quest was finding mini ice cream cones. I called around, I searched the internet, I ended up buying them on Amazon. GFS sold them, but I had to buy 1000 cones, and I figured that was a tad too many for a first birthday party. After my cones arrived, the rest was super easy! And as you can see, I didn't use any creativity! I just copied the recipe. It wasn't hard, just time consuming.

The final task was to find a "holder" for all of my cones. I took a set to Rachel's day care to celebrate her birthday and I took them to my parent's house for her party. I ended up making a "cone holder" out of some wood we had in the garage. I drilled a gazillion little 1" holes in it and then covered it with silver wrapping paper and used 35mm film tubes for legs. It fit perfectly in a box I got from work, making it easy to take to her day care. 

Here is the first batch in progress. 

 

The first tray finished and ready to go! 

The second batch! You can see my handy-work with the film canisters and scotch tape! 

 

August 25, 2010

Unprepared

I'm pretty sure my husband was not prepared for what he was biting into when I decided to make him a cake for his recent birthday. I don't think he knew I had this in my recipe arsenal, just waiting for a very special person to make it for and a very special day to eat it. When I went searching a few days before his birthday, I knew I needed to make something chocolate and something with peanut butter. And then I stumbled upon this recipe, a big one, a 2 pager with three different parts of the recipe. I was so excited I had found this two years prior on one of the blogs I stalk. The name alone might make most people afraid, but I was excited, excited to accept the challenge and make the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze.

He was impressed. I was impressed and neither of us could finish this rich dessert and we sat for a few minutes, staring at our plates full of uneaten cake and went into a chocolate coma. 

 

April 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Cups

Is there anything better than a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup? I thought for sure a homemade peanut butter cup would somehow be better than a store bought peanut butter cup. I guess I was wrong.

For Valentine's Day, my husband and I decided to make gifts for each other. I decided to make him Peanut Butter Cups from scratch. I was very excited about making them because I love to cook and I thought he would love them.

On Valentine's day I gave him the container of peanut butter cups. After we each tried one, I said to him, "aren't they good?" To my surprise, he said, "ahh, I don't like the peanut butter filling. It tastes funny." I then told him I thought they were delicious and if he didn't want them, I would eat them all. After that, I let him know I had to "hand paint" all of the chocolate in each paper cup, then add the filling and hand paint the top chocolate on! It didn't make him love the peanut butter cups any more, but I think they were good. Maybe not as good as Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, but comparable enough to share the recipe! 

Maybe before sharing the recipe I should admit I used Smooth, not Chunky Peanut Butter, I had smaller paper cups, which could explain why I had so much chocolate left, and I didn't have graham crackers so I substituted for Ritz crackers, possibly the reason why he didn't love them! 

Peanut Butter Cups

1 3/4 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

60 (1 1/2-inch) paper candy liners, separated into 30 double-lined cups

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs


MICROWAVE morsels and vegetable shortening in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 2 minutes; STIR. The morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10 to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted.

PLACE about 1 teaspoon melted chocolate in each candy cup; spread to about 1/8-inch thickness, almost to top of cup, with small pastry brush. Refrigerate.

COMBINE butter and peanut butter in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 6 minutes or until melted. Stir in powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Cool for 5 minutes. Spoon about 1 heaping teaspoon into each chocolate cup.

SPOON about 1/4 teaspoon melted chocolate on top of filling; spread to cover filling. Freeze for about 2 hours or until firm. Carefully peel off paper liners. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

Makes 30 candies


 

 

 

March 26, 2009

"Baked Alaska" Cake

Since I ranted and raved about how great a few Pampered Chef products are, I thought I should share with you one of my favorite cake recipes, "Baked Alaska" Cake. It's from The Pampered Chef Seasons Best Recipe Collection Fall/Winter 2004 recipe book.

"Baked Alaska" Cake

1 package devils food cake mix, plus the ingredients to make the cake
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I use mini chocolate chips)
1 package (8 ozs) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large container (16 ozs) cool whip, thawed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and flour the Pampered Chef Classic Batter Bowl.

Prepare cake mix according to box directions and pour into batter bowl. Bake 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until cake tester (I use a wood kabob skewer) inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let stand 15 minutes. Run a knife around the outside of the cake and gently turn the cake out of the bowl onto a cooling rack, large side down. Cool for at least 3 hours.

Meanwhile, I like to prepare the "mousse" and then toss it into the fridge while the cake cools.

Chop 1/4 cup of the chocolate morsels using a food chopper. Set aside. I omit this step because I use the mini chocolate chips. Place remaining chocolate (in the mini chocolate chip case, it would be 1/2 cup) into a bowl and microwave on high 20-60 seconds or until melted and smooth. Add cream cheese to a bowl, whisk until smooth, add powdered sugar and whisk again. stir in melted chocolate and mix well. I don't often use the wire whisk, I just use my hand mixer, it seems to break up the cream cheese with little effort and blended all the ingredients very well. Fold in 2 cups of the cool whip and the remaining 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips (I do this by hand, no mixer) into the cream cheese mixture.

Place the large end of the cake down onto a serving plate/platter. Using a serrated bread knife, trim the large end of the cake to make it level. Usually the cake comes out of the oven with a "bump" on the top, and often I just trim off the bump, to taste the flavor of the cake and make it level, even if it isn't "flat" on the bottom of my plate. Slice the cake in four equal layers. First slice horizontally in half and then slice each half into equal parts.

Spread the bottom layer of cake with about half of the filling, forming a 3/4 inch layer. Repeat with the remaining layers and filling ending with the top layer of cake.

Spread any remaining filling over the outside of cake to create a smooth surface. I do not do this, I use all the filling for the inside of the cake. I often put a very thin layer of cool whip on the outside to seal in the crumbs. Frost cake with remaining whipped topping.

To form decorate peaks, press a knife into the topping and pull away. Repeat over entire surface ofcake. For easier slicing refrigerate cake at least 30 minutes.

To easily cut cake into servings, cut cake inot eight wedges from top to bottom. Insert a pie server horizontally into each wedge, dividing into two equal portions.

Makes 16 servings.

Filling Variations (I've never tried these, but had to include them)

Strawberry Splash:
Omit chocolate morsels. Add 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened strawberry drink mix (sugh as Kool-Aid) to cream cheese mixture. Stir 1/4 cup chopped strawberries into cream cheese mixture.

Magnificent Mint:Omit 1/2 cup melted chocolate. Add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and 3-4 drops of green food coloring, if desired, to cream cheese mixture.

I'm thinking you could easily make an orange or lemon flavored filling with orange or lemon flavored drink mix, splash of orange or lemon juice and some orange or lemon zest!

And maybe even some "big kid" cake variations with Kahlua or gringing coffee beans and adding them to the cream cheese!

 

December 26, 2008

Power Cooking

I frequently volunteer to bringing a dish to my parent's house and my in laws house for the holidays. I figure it's the least I can do since they are hosting a house full of people, proving us with the main dish and beverages. This year I offered to bring lasagna on Christmas Eve and cheesy potatoes, salad and dessert for Christmas Day. It's pretty standard that I have to make these creations a day or so before the events, and this year I ran into a big pickle, and had to make lots of items in one night. 

Dan and I didn't get home on Tuesday night until 8pm. He took me to work that day and then off to the race shop he went. He picked me up, took me to the gym, while he did errands and by the time we ate and got home in the snowstorm, it was after 8. First order of business was lasagna and cheesy potatoes. While I was making lasagna, Dan was hard at work on mixing HIS cheesy potatoes. Next up were brownies, he made the entire batch himself, and I moved on to the salad. By 9pm, we had four dishes done: lasagna, brownies, salad and potatoes. I recall looking at the clock when we began and it was 22 minutes after 8. We just completed a Power Cooking session. Maybe we should start a TV show...

I cannot tell you how fast, helpful and wonderful this power cooking session was with my husband. He was awesome, he'd finish one job and ask me what was next. After cooking he was onto putting the clean dishes away and then snowblowing the driveway. I guess his next "cooking lesson" on his blog can be him teaching me how to cook something...