Thursday, December 20, 2012

Easy Peasy Toffee

If you are on Pinterest there is a good chance you have seen some recipes floating around called "saltine toffee" or something of that sort.  Well, they continued to catch my attention so today, when I decided to make some kind of Christmasy goodie I tried some.  To my surpise it was delicious and super easy!  No candy thermometer, nothing.  In fact, I was so skeptical of it...I didn't even take any pics at all till I had eaten two pieces of the finished product!  Since there are so many recipes that are quite different you can feel free to google around, but this is what I did and it worked really well, so I recommend it!  :)  Best part is that it can be ready to eat in about 30 minutes from the start!  Great huh?

Easy Peasy Toffee:
1/2 sleeve Saltines
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 stick butter, salted
2oz. chocolate (milk or semi sweet)
toppings (nuts, more saltines, etc...)

1.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and line a 1 lb. bread pan with foil or parchment paper.  Then put one layer of saltines down breaking them if necessary to cover the bottom.
2.  Put butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan on medium high heat until butter is melted.  Continue by stirring until it come to a boil.  Once boiling set a timer for 2 minutes and continue to stir the toffee mixture.
3.  After the 2 minutes of boiling, remove from heat and evenly pour over the saltine lined pan.  Place in 400 degree oven to bake for 5 minutes.
4.  While the toffee is in the oven, soften the chocolate in the microwave.  So once the toffee comes out of the oven you can evenly spread the chocolate on top of it.  While it is still warm and gooey you can sprinkle nuts, saltine pieces or anything else you would like on top.
5.  Let set for 20 minutes in the freezer.  Then break up into desired pieces using a knife.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mini Cini Crust

I'd seen this type of thing before...but since I'm not a huge fan of cinnamon I didn't give it a second thought.  Until Thanksgiving came around this year, that is.  I got to thinking of desserts, and wanted to make an apple pie with a crumble top.  I got to thinking that this type of crust would add something different, so I thought I would whip it up and see what happened....just so turns out that I loved, like, l.o.v.e.d. it!  So here's how you can try it for yourself....

What you'll need:
Favorite Pie Crust Recipe (I like BHG here)
1 t. cinnamon
1 T. Sugar
Rolling Pin
Sharp Knife
floured surface

Once you have your pie crust dough roll it out to an oval/rectangle.  Then sprinkle/spread cinnamon and then sugar over it.  Tightly roll it up and pinch shut.  Then carefully slice into little cinnamon rolls and place together on floured surface.  Roll to desired thickness and use as normal pie pastry.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My (our) new toy!

My hubby and I have both been really wanting a Digital SLR for a few years now.  Each year when I get Christmas or Birthday money I hope to save it up for a camera but something else comes along to gain my affections...ususally clothes, shoes or things to craft with...  

This year my husband and I both decided to pool our Christmas money together though and *hopefully* be able to afford a DSLR.  I have been checking specs and prices on cameras (and so has he) for as long as I have been interested in getting one, so when we saw a great deal on Black Friday we went for it.  It just arrived in the mail on Thursday and we got to try it out a bit that evening and today after Church too.  I must say, that we are impressed. :)  I still have a ton to learn, and I'm sure the Mr. would say the same, but it's already taking great pics for us!  Can't wait to learn more about it and how to become a better photographer!!  It's exciting I get to share this all with my hubby too.  Just one of the perks of being married to my best friend. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

DIY: Canvas Hymn Sayings

 I get so inspired to do do crafting when I look at pinterest.  I usually don't get around to doing much of what I pin (and like) though.  A few weeks ago I made these Canvas Sayings featuring lyrics from some of my favorite hymns.
 I used a paper transfer technique.  I just used GIMP to create the words I wanted and add a bird on one, and later a tree on another.  Then I reversed the image in GIMP and print it.  I very lightly wetted the canvas, placed the paper ink side down and brushed water evenly over the paper.  I pressed the letters down, and left it for a couple of minutes.  Then I gently peeled the paper up.
 I was faint, but it was there.  I continued with the other three until all were transferred.  Let dry overnight.
Then I carefully took a couple of different sizes of paint brushes, black paint and darkened up the words (and images).  Let dry overnight.
 I almost left these white because we have a red wall that they would go really well on...but I decided to lightly paint them my favorite color - turquoise.  (I did a kind of weird effect that I like, but not everyone would I'm sure...)

I have these on some built in shelves in our home now, but I am still trying to find a more permanent spot.  I like the versatility of them being together if I want or separate.  (currently they are separated...)

Mexican Gumbo (like Qdoba's)

Here's a somewhat homemade quick and delicious dinner!  It tastes almost exactly like Qdoba's Mexican Gumbo too!  Which is one of my very favorite things ever!

What you'll need:

Rice, cooked
Beans, heated
Chicken Tortilla Soup, heated (Progresso's is the most simliar to Qdoba's)
Pico or salsa
Shredded Cheese
Chicken (optional)
Layer and Enjoy!  :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cranberry Apple Sauce

Photo Credit: 
I realized last night as I was trying to fall asleep that I hadn't yet planned a menu for Thanksgiving.  Since we won't be able to spend time with family in CO or KY, we are just having a low key holiday here.  We will run in a Turkey Trot in the morning, and then eat some turkey and fixin' later.

As I was laying there I got to to thinking of this Cranberry Chutney/Sauce that I made three years ago.  I looked all over my house and the internet to find it, until finally coming across it.  I had remembered that I omitted something out of the recipe...but when I came across it tonight, I realized I had left out a few things.  They didn't seem to go with teh characteristic that I like in my sauce...but I suppose that's what made it more of a chutney recipe?  Anyway, here's a link to the original recipe from Good Housekeeping (aka my favorite magazine!) and I will put my version below.  It's worth a try, it's the perfect balance of sweet, sour and refreshing with that coriander! :)

Cranberry Apple Sauce
1.5 c. Water
1 c. Ssugar
2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 t. Coriander seeds
3 Medium Gala Apples, peeled and chopped
1 bag Cranberries

In a large saucepan stir together water, sugar, vinegar and coriander seeds until sugar dissolves.  Heat to boiling and then add apples.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 25 minutes or until apples are tender.  Add cranberries and simmer for another 10 minutes or until about half of cranberries pop.  Stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or cool.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chicken Quesadillas

I love quesadillas.  Pretty much any way you slice them (literally) and these I made with leftover chicken and veggies from fajitas the other night.  Yummy!  They are not rocket science...but of course, they are just good and easy.  :)

What you need:
Cooked chicken
Veggies (optional)
Tortillas (any size works!)

My favorite way of making them (and the way I think gets all the melty goodness around best) is to place one tortilla down on the preheated skillet and top with an even layer of cheese.  Then once it melts carefully pick it up and place it on a plate for a moment.  Then place the second tortilla down on the skillet and spread an even layer of cheese, AND now put your chicken and veggies.  Once the chicken, etc is set on the tortilla place the tortilla with the already melted cheese on top of the chicken cheese side down.  (make sense?) Sounds more complicated than it is really!  :)  After a few more seconds you have a perfectly crispy, melty quesadilla!!
Load it up with your choice of toppings and it's good enough to eat!  :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Easy Fajitas

I suppose you probably already know that one of my all time very, very, very favorite, most loved restaurants is Chili's.  There are a few things on their menu that I cycle through when I go there.  (Which isn't as often as it used to be...which is probably good for my wallet and waistline...)  Chicken Enchilada Soup and Salad, Chicken Sliders and of course, their Chicken Fajitas!  I really, really love their fajitas, and if I didn't also like those other two things i would probably always get them.  Although, I also need a sharing buddy for their fajitas for one...  Anyway, I make different fajitas from time to time at home too, because i love them so much.  And you'll notice I didn't label this recipe a copycat because it's not.  I'm not going for that with this one at all.  I just am posting a simple recipe for some yummy fajitas at home. :)  I may later post one that's a copycat stay tuned.  My mom has a killer (why do we use that word in this context?) recipe for their marinade...

Easy Fajitas at home (serves 4)
2 Chicken Breasts
1 Sweet Bell Pepper, sliced (I used yellow, but red, orange or green work too)
1 Onion, sliced
1 T. Oil
Fajita sized tortillas, or any size you want!
Cheese, shredded
Sour Cream
Pico or Corn Salsa
Guac. (optional)
Clockwise from top left: Chicken, Onions and Peppers; Plate of garnishing
goodies; tortillas ready to go; starting to assemble; and ready to eat!

1.  Cook the chicken until there is no pink.  Set aside.  (While chicken is cooking you can prepare a plate with the sour cream, cheese, pico, etc...)
2.  In a large skillet saute the onions in the oil until they start to caramelize.
3.  Add in peppers and continue to saute until they are slightly caramelized or to your liking.
4.  Slice cooked chicken and add into skillet.  Top with fresh ground  pepper.  Remove from heat.
5.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

If you have any chicken and/or onions and peppers left you can use them for these yummy quesadillas. :)

Corn Pancakes

Here's a little twist on a favorite comfort food!  I recently heard about corn pancakes from a friend at Church. (who happens to have a father who is from Kansas, which this recipe is probably more likely from than NC)  So I had to try to make some of my own a couple days later when I was making "Breakfast for Dinner".

These corn pancakes are really simple.  In fact, all you do is add a can of corn to your pancake mixture -- whether you use storebought or make it from scratch.  Then you just cook them on a griddle like normal and voila!  Corn Pancakes!  They have a distinct taste, are a little heartier and you can sneek another veggie in!  (even if it is, just corn!)

 Proportions for 4 servings:
Prepared Pancake Mix (homemade or storebought)
1 can of corn (I used Green Giant White and Yellow Sweet because I love sweet corn)

Yum!  These will definitely make another appearance on our dinner table soon!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sparkly Skirt Tutorial

So, you may remember a couple of years ago, right before my hubby and I ran our first 5k, I bought a new running skirt--called a Sparkle Skirt. (check out  It's fabulous, beautiful, sparkly and made in the USA!  If I had a lot of money I would buy one in every color...or at least a couple more and some of their tech skirts.

My new Sparkly Skirt!
But since I can't, I was happy with my dark pink one...until I ran across some sequined fabric at Wally World that was only $7.49 for two yards!  I don't know about you, but I'm still disappointed that Wal-mart isn't carrying regular fabric by the yard anymore...but at least they have some pre-cut fabrics in various types now (I saw burlap, tulle, cotton, poly, sequined and a few others)!  I picked up two yards of the black sequined fabric and went on my merry way.
My black fabric with my SparkleSkirt on top.
I was excited to get started on my skirt.  I first laid out the fabric on my little card table.  Then I placed my Sparkle Skirt on top of it for some guidance.  I carefully cut a circle around the skirt out of my black fabric.  My circle measured about 36" in diameter.  You can adjust this depending on the length of skirt you want.  Although, you'd have to probably do some piecing if you want it longer unless you find a wider cut of fabric than I did. :)  I cut a line on the radius to make it easier to sew later.  I suppose that is an optional step though.
Circle cut out with radial line.

Then I decided to make a yoga style waistband since I don't have the fancy wicking fabric Sparkle Skirts does.  I cut about 8" off of the bottom of an older black tee.  Then I cut one seam off to make it one long strip.

Bottom of shirt for yoga waistband.
Long strip of shirt material for waistband.

Now fold your large circle into forths.  Like so....
Now you have to use a little math.  Measure around your waist, or hips or wherever you want your skirt to rest when you have it on.  Take that number (which is the circumference of the waistband) and divide it by Pi or 3.14 to get the diameter of the circle you are going to cut out of your fabric!  Make sense?  So, for example if you have a 28" waist where you want to wear your skirt, you divide 28/3.14= 8.92" and 8.92" (and you can round to 9 if you want!) is how big of a circle you want to cut out.  Since your fabric is in fourths though, you'll want the radius which is half of the circumference or 8.92/2=4.46".  I recommend using something like a compass to make sure you get a perfect circle cut out.  If you look at my pic below you'll notice I didn't use one... :/  Luckily these skirts are forgiving! :)
 Here's a close up of the fabric below....cute huh?  This would also work for a skirt for a costume or a little girl!
 Once you have the inner circle cut out, fold the waistband material in half like a hotdog.  Then start pinning it around the inner circle.  Be sure to pin the outside of the waistband to the outside of the skirt material so that the seams are on the inside.
 Sew around the waist and leave about 1/4" seam allowance.  If you have fancy stitches you can use those...I just used a straight stitch and went around twice.
 Once you have the waistband attached you can sew the whole thing together.  Pin the sides of the skirt so they match at the bottom and then finish off the waistband too.
 Slip it on and see how it looks.  (don't ask about my bangs were driving me nuts and I put them in an apparently crazy high clip! ha!)  These skirts (and fabric) are very see through, so you have to wear something under them.  I prefer my spandex capris, but to each their own!  :)
 Closer up look at the yoga waistband!  Super comfy and cute!
Let me know what you think!  I hope I didn't ramble on too much.  If you have any questions please let me know!  :)  Happy Sewing!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Easy (and affordable!) Halloween Wreath

It seems like just about everyone in our neighborhood puts things up for every Holiday.  We do for Christmas and sometimes Easter and Thanksgiving but not usually Halloween, except for maybe a pumpkin or two.  (Well....I guess we did the first year we were married and lived in Married Student Housing.  We even entered a contest for best Halloween decorations that year!  Ha!)  Anyway, I decided to get a little crafty (actually the last couple days I have been rather crafty--more posts about that to come soon!) and make a wreath.

I had part of a black t-shirt around (because I'd used part of it for another craft I'm going to post about soon) and I cut it into strips.  I then tighly wound those around the wreath.  (Sorry I forgot to get in process photos...)  I also made some flowers out of the jersey material and hot glued those on the wreath.  Then I made a cob web out of hot glue.  My trick was using a silicon pot holder to put the hot glue on when it was hot and then peel it off when it cooled.  My hubby thought I had purchased the cob web, so that's pretty good in my book!  :)  Then I used some scrap purple sequin fabric to accent.  I just put it up on my front door with the exsisting nail (that we didn't put in btw).  Festive and affordable! :)

Easy Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Simply take creamy potato soup and add on toppings like:  cheddar cheese, bacon bits, sour cream and green onions.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


It's the beginning of October and fall decorations are almost everywhere by now.  In fact, Halloween decor is abundant too.  So why not mix up some splendid sneaky treats?  Here's some dirt that is edible and delicious.  It's like a super easy chocolate mousse recipe.  In face this one is my Mom's recipe, that she says she got from Jello years ago.  (This is the closest link I could find of the recipe but it's not exactly the same.)  It's really great to do as individual servings in little dixie cups, or you can do it in a pie plate for like a dirt pie, or really more like a mud pie at that point.  :)
Photo from:

What you'll need:
Chocolate Pudding Mix (4 serving size)
2 c. Milk
8 oz Cool Whip
16oz pkg. Oreos, crushed
Gummy Worms

Beat Chocolate Pudding mix and Milk together for 1-2 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir in Cool Whip and half of crushed oreos until combined.

If using dixie cups put 1 T. oreo crumbs in bottom and then spoon pudding mixture in the cups.  Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top and decorate with gummy worms.

If use a pie plate, place ~half of the crumbs in the bottom of the plate and then spoon the pudding mixture over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining crumbs and decorate with worms.
My dirt pie (mud pie if you prefer) that I just made this weekend. I also would like to give a shout out to for it's awesome free editing tools!  It can make photos look like old polaroids.  Sweet. :)


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

M.A.D.'s Chicken Enchilada Soup

I have quite the treat for you today!  My Mom's cousin just shared her recipe for Chicken Enchilada Soup with me, and gave me permission to share it with you!  I need to grab a couple of things from the store before I can make it, but I couldn't wait to share it with all of you!  Enjoy! :)  And thanks again to M.A.D.!!

Chicken Enchilada Soup:

1 onion chopped small - or 1 leek chopped small

2 ribs of celery sliced in pieces
2 carrots peeled and sliced in "coins"
Saute in some olive oil until tender.
Add 1 can chicken broth and 1 can water
1 can enchilada sauce 
1 large can (13 oz.) canned chicken (like from Sam's) including broth and broken up
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t thyme crushed or crumbled
Cook for at least 30 minutes.
Mix another 1/2 can water with 1/2 cup masa harina**. Mix until smooth. You might need more water to moisten all the masa. Gradually add all the masa mix to the above simmering mixture. You may need to add more liquid depending on how thick you want the soup.
Cook for at least 15 more minutes.
While hot take off the heat and add 1 C shredded cheddar cheese and stir until blended. Do not return mixture to heat as cheese will curdle.
Serve with tortilla chips.
*Note: We like lots of vegetables with our soup so that amount can vary - or you can add no veggies. Depending on the amount of liquid you add, it makes about 4 bowls of soup. One bowl is plenty for a meal and it keeps in the fridge and re-heats very well. 
**Note:  You can buy a 5 pound bag of it (which is a LOT) and now there is a smaller 2-3 pound bag available. Since I make it often, you can portion it out and put it in ziplock bags in the freezer to keep it fresh. And of course you can put the whole bag in the freezer. It's good for making homemade tamales!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

...for a good cause.

When I cut my hair off a few years ago I don't exactly know why I didn't think of donating it until after it was all on the floor--which is too late, it has to be in a ponytail or braid.  I guess I had forgotten, and the stylist's are probably not allowed to suggest it to clients....  After that cut I decided to grow my hair out until it was long, and then if I want to cut it off I couldn't until it was long enough to donate.  (8" for some, 10" for others and 12" for some)

On Thursday I measured my hair and indeed it was long enough to donate.  I called a couple of salons and they would only donate to one specific charity that had a longer requirement than I was willing and really able to give at this time.  So...I had to take it into my own hands. :)  I tied off sections with rubber bands, then measured and cut.  I ended up getting about 9" to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.  The requirement for them was 8" and I went a little over in case I hadn't measured right or something.  
I placed the ponies in a ziploc, then in a padded envelope and sent it on its merry way.  I know it won't cure someone's cancer, but it will help provide a hair piece for someone which is super neat in my book!  I did go to a professional to actually get my actual haircut after I chopped these off.  It's pretty short now, but I think I'm going to dig it.  :)  Especially because it's for a good cause.

This is no way is to pressure anyone into cutting off their hair and/or donating it.  I just wanted to share this experience with my readers.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns please let me know by either commenting or emailing me at:

Friday, September 28, 2012

ADM 2013 Calendar!

Hello!  You can now purchase (at a discounted right now!!!) my 2013 year in NC through my eyes Calendar!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

White Chicken Chili

I never used to be a big fan of chili or beans.  In the last few years I have realized that they are so versatile and comfortning though.  So, when I fell in love with a White Chicken Chili from one of my favorite places in the area I knew I wanted to make some at home.  And here it is.  In fact, I think I like this one better than the one I was trying to replicate.  This is hearty, flavorful and warming from the inside out.  Perfect for fall and winter! :)

White Chicken Chili
2 T. Canola (or vegetable) Oil
1 Poblano Pepper, finely diced
1 Medium Onion, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 lb chicken breast, cut up in bite size pieces
1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Navy Beans,  rinsed and drained 
1 can White Kidney Beans,  rinsed and drained 
4 c. Milk
3 c. Water
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. Pepper
1/2 t. Chili Powder
1-1/2 t. of your favorite taco or smokey seasoning (you could also use cumin)
1/4 c. Corn Starch
1/3 lb. Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded

1.  Saute onion, garlic, poblano pepper and chicken, until the chicken has no more pink.
2.  Add beans, milk and water bring to boil.  Immediately turn to simmer once it's boiled.
3.  Add salt, ground pepper, chili powder and taco/smokey seasoning then stir to combine.  Simmer for 30 minutes.
4.  Mix corn starch with a little water to make paste and stir into chili.
5.  Slowly stir in shredded cheese until melted and combined.  Serve immediately or let simmer until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Tuna Cakes

Here's a quick, easy and delicious recipe for Tuna Cakes.   Small Can of Tuna yields 3 good sized Tuna Cakes.  Easy to double or triple.
Tuna Cakes:
Small Can of Tuna
1/4 c. Bread Crumbs (either plain or seasoned)
1 Egg
1 T. Water
1/4 c. Veggies, chopped (peppers, onions, etc.)

1.  Heat about 1/4 " of oil in a skillet on medium high.  (I used a cast iron skillet but stainless would work well too.)
2.  Mix together the egg and water.  Add in tuna, bread crumbs and veggies then mix until well combined.  It will be fall apart.
3.  Make "cake like" (thick) patties and place in the heated oil.  Cook each side until golden brown.  Be sure to be careful with the hot oil.  Turn the cakes very slowly and carefully.

Serve with salad, or other sides.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Patriotic Cupcakes (and Multi-Colored Frosting Tutorial)

So, one friends/co-workers just got her US Citizenship this week.  She's from New Zealand, but has been in  the US for about 10 years now.  She lived in the New England for a while, met her (now) hubby and then he was transferred down to NC about a year ago.  She took the test last month and just had her Citizenship Ceremony on this past Monday.  So, in order to honor her huge accomplishment one of my other co-workers and I threw a little party for her.  I made some very Patriotic cupcakes, and my other co-worker brought the card/gift.  

Now, I really think Patriotic treats are fantastic any time of year.  I love the way that red, white and blue go together to show our love for our Country, support for our Troops and how blessed we are to live here and be free.  So, these are perfect for the 4th of July or Memorial Day of course!  I went all out making them Red, White and Blue inside and out, which was fun but not totally necessary.  You can just use whatever cupcakes you have and them frost them like this if you'd like.  :)  

Here there are....

I used my favorite white cake recipe by Better Homes and Gardens, and the frosting I used on my Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes but I will also post the recipes below to make it easier.

BH&G White Cake Recipe:

  • 4
    egg whites
  • 2
    cups all-purpose flour
  • 1
    teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2
    teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2
    teaspoon salt
  • 1/2
    cup butter or shortening, softened
  • 1 3/4
    cups sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3
    cups buttermilk or sour milk

1.Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 9x1-1/2-inch or 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set the pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add egg whites 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter into the prepared pan(s).
3.Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, 30 to 35 minutes for 8-inch pans or 13x9-inch pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on racks. Or, place 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting.

(You can also use this recipe for cupcakes, just line muffins tins and bake at 350 degree for ~20 minutes.  Makes about 24 cupcakes. ~Cindy)

My White Frosting Recipe:
1 T. Water
1/2 c. Shortening
1 t. Vanilla
3-4 c. Powdered Sugar
1 T. Milk
            Instructions for Frosting--whip together water and shortening until fluffy.  Add in vanilla and 2 c. Powdered Sugar until combined.  Add milk and mix thoroughly.  Mix in more powdered sugar until it is to your desired consistency   I usually use 3.5c. of powdered sugar in this recipe.

Ok, so I made the white cake batter according to the recipe BUT before I put it in the lined tins I split it into thirds and left one white, colored one red and one blue.  Then I layered them into my cups.  Everyone at work had a pleasant surprise when they bit into the cupcakes!  It was priceless to see their expressions! :)  You could also just swirl in red and blue coloring into the cups before you bake the cupcakes.  (Picture A is layered and B is swirled above.)

Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I frosted them using a technique I first learned about on Our Best Bites here.  They only ever did it with two colors tho but i just thought it had to work with three so I did it!  :)  It worked perfectly.  It's kind of wasteful is the only prob...but easy to clean up which is a plus.  

After you make the frosting split into thirds and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Then keep one white, then tint one red and one blue.  I use paste coloring because it's easier to get a more vivid color, tastes better (to me at least), mixes in easier and doesn't change the consistency of the frosting.  But work with whatever you prefer or have on hand!  :)  I used "rose" for the red and "cornflower" for the blue and I really like the way it turned out.

Ok, now prepare a decorating bag with the coupler and tip like normal and set aside.  Then get three more bags out.  Fill one with the white frosting and tie off with twist tie or rubber band.  Fill one with red and tie off. Fill the last one with the blue and tie off.  Make them lie flat on counter and get air out of them before you cut the tips off.  (You may have to open the end at this point...I didn't have to though, so hoepfully you won't have to.) Cut the tips off, but don't cut too much. Just remember you can always cut more off later, but you can't glue it back on if you cut too much...  Carefully insert one flattened bag at a time into the bag prepared with the coupler until it looks something like this below.  I did red, white and blue, but you can order them however you want AND of course can use this technique for other colors for other seasons, etc...

 Then pull the bag up over the ends and decorate like normal.  I am still totally digging the really large tips and couple I recently got.  Makes frosting cupcakes go SO fast!  I like the faux rose technique most of the time...  Love the way it looks in red, white and blue...
 Another the way the colors are a little different each swirl that comes out!
 Yep, can't get enough of it....  btw these were all take with either my phone or Rocket Scientist's phone because I needed to charge my camera....  Love that phones are finally having pretty great cameras these days!  :)

Anyway, happy Independence day!  or Citizenship day!  or Patriotic day!  or Memorial day!  :)  God bless the USA!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (or Cake)

Our Adult Sunday School class had a get together last night and it was fiesta themed.  So I had the perfect dessert idea for it, Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes! I really enjoyed the way they turned out too.  (Which is always a plus.)  I went ahead and made a regular batch (~26 cupcakes) and sent half with the hubby for his co-workers, and took the other half to our dinner.

I tweaked Better Homes and Gardens Chocolate Cake recipe and then also put a Mexican twist on it.

Here's my recipe, Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes:
2-1/4 c. Flour
1-3/4 c. Sugar
1-1/4 c. plus 1 t. Water
1 t. Baking Powder
3/4 t. Baking Soda
1/4 t. Salt
2/3 c. Shortening (or butter)
2 Eggs
2 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
1 T. Cocoa Powder (heaping)
1-1/2 t. Vanilla
1-1/2 t. Cinnamon (Any works, but my favorite for this recipe is this one from Savory Spice Shop)
Additional Cinnamon for sprinkling on tops of frosted cupcakes

Frosting:  Your favorite white frosting, buttercream or this...
1 T. Water
1/2 c. Shortening
1 t. Vanilla
3-4 c. Powdered Sugar
1 T. Milk
(Instructions for Frosting--whip together water and shortening until fluffy.  Add in vanilla and 2 c. Powdered Sugar until combined.  Add milk and mix thoroughly.  Mix in more powdered sugar until it is to your desired consistency   I usually use 3.5c. of powdered sugar in this recipe.)

For cupcakes beat together shortening and sugar until combined.  Add in baking powder, baking soda, salt and eggs until combined.  Then mix in vanilla, melted chocolate, cocoa powder and cinnamon until combined. Finally, alternate mixing in flour and water until all combined.

Pour into ~26 cupcake wrapper lined tins, one 9x13" pan, two 8" round cake pans or two 9" round cake pans.  (Cake pans should be prepared with grease and flour before the batter is poured in.)

Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or the cake/s for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool on wire racks, then frost with desired frosting.  Once cooled and frosted sprinkle a touch of cinnamon on top! (As pictured below)  :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Roasted Peaches with Vanilla Sauce

Peaches are still plentiful, at least around these parts.  So grab a couple and make this yummy and versatile dessert!  I pretty much guarantee you will love it.  That is, unless you hate fruit, or peaches, or sugar, or vanilla....if you do, then you probably won't like this much at all....  But if you like those things, then you will love it!  :)
 Slice your peaches into eighths or so, and distribute around shallow baking dish.  Pour 1/4 cup water over them, then sprinkle about 1/4 c. of sugar on them and drizzle a splash of vanilla.  Then bake in a 400 degree oven until the peaches are tender or about 13 minutes.  (If you'd like them fall apart bake longer, if you'd like them more firm bake them less.)
 This is them right out of the oven, see all that juicy vanilla-ee goodness in the bottom?  Yum.  You can eat them by themselves OR...
put them in a bowl and top with ice cream!  Yum-O! :)
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