Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cake Pops

I have been seeing these EVERYWHERE! I don't even know where they first popped up...Pioneer Woman, Bakerella, I'm just not sure. But I decided I would join the "IN" crowd and do some myself. There really are SO many things you can do with these. I put them on a stick but I have also seen them done as truffles. The cake options are many, as are the icing options, the covering options and the decorating options. So go ahead and have a little fun of your own, be creative and daring! My boys thought these were so cool and my oldest even asked if I would make them for his next birthday. We wrapped up a bunch and took them to a couple of friends. They really are such a great idea and so easy (minus a couple of mishaps that I will explain as we go so you can learn from my mistakes!)

Cake Pops
(30-40 depending on how big you make them)

1 cake mix (any flavor you like) baked according to the box
1 can store bought frosting (I know, just go with it!) any flavor you like
1 bag of candy melts, any color/flavor you want (chocolate chips will also work, as will white chocolate, peanut butter chips, butterscotch get the idea)
sprinkles or other decorations
candy/sucker sticks (I got mine at Walmart, they also have them at craft stores)
a block of Styrofoam (optional)

Once the cake has been baked and cooled, crumble it, in a bowl until there are no big chunks left. Now, mix in the frosting until a dough forms. I used the whole container of frosting and my cake balls were a little soft. So, you might want to use a little less like 3/4 of it. Shape the dough into balls. Do NOT make them too big or they fall off the sticks. About one Tablespoon of dough is all you need. If you are going to make truffles instead of pops, go ahead and make them bigger, if you want. Place the cake balls on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour. Because I used all my frosting, I left mine in the freezer overnight, covered. This made them more frozen/firm and they worked great. If you want them to be ready in 1 hour, use less frosting. Once they are firm, melt the candy melts in a double boiler or microwave (there are instructions on the bag for both ways). Now, stick a stick into each of your cake balls and dip them into the melted coating. I made sure to get a little of the coating on the stick to make sure the cake ball didn't just fall off. Gently shake off the excess coating (if you don't they will drip everywhere) and decorate as you like. Sprinkles were fast and easy and I loved the outcome. If you are using sprinkles make sure to sprinkle over a bowl to catch the excess. This makes for a much easier clean up and I could reuse all the sprinkles that fell into the bowl. Then stick the cake pop into the Styrofoam to dry. Another reason I loved that my cake balls were more frozen is that it helped the coating to dry really fast, about 2 minutes. If you don't have or want to use Styrofoam you can place the cake pops on wax paper to dry. Wax paper is also what you would use to make the truffles. Now go out and spread the happiness of cake pops!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our Favorite Smoothie

This is just a list of ingredients. I just start putting these things into my blender and taste/adjust amounts as I go. I do always put the same things in though. After trying so many different combinations of things, this is our favorite. My kids love it and I love that they love it! This makes for a happy family! And who doesn't want that?! We do smoothies for breakfast all the time, but they are great whenever and can even be frozen into popsicles.

Our Favorite Smoothie

ripe bananas
yogurt (I like Greek, more protein and probiotics...Greek Gods is the best brand in my book)
orange juice
vanilla, just a few drops
protein powder (we use the soy,vanilla flavored, it adds sweetness)
a handful of baby spinach and/or kale (the beauty is you can't taste it)
frozen or fresh berries (we like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries the best. Plus the color hides the green from the veggies)
ice (you won't need very much or any at all if you use frozen berries)

Blend this all together until smooth. I don't add any additional sweetener, it is always sweet enough for us. But if you want it sweeter, honey or agave both work great.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits

Abby is the one I got this little concoction from. It couldn't be easier. I don't know if I would actually call it a recipe, just more a list of things you throw together. So here it is...

Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits
(makes about 9-12 biscuits)

2 1/4 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cups milk
garlic powder (to taste, I put about 1/2 t)
shredded cheddar cheese (as much as you like, I usually put about 1/2-3/4 cup)
3 T butter, melted
garlic salt (I like the one with parsley)

Preheat oven to 450. Mix together Bisquick, cheddar cheese, garlic powder and milk until a dough forms, do not over mix. Drop by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. While they are in the oven, melt the butter and add a dash of garlic salt. When the biscuits come out brush the tops with the garlic butter.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Homemade Croutons

These are so easy and such a great way to use stale bread! I used this Artisan Bread recipe. But I think any french bread would work just fine. I don't think I will ever buy croutons again, these are just too good! I looked at quite a few different recipes but in the end took what I liked from each one.

Homemade Croutons

day old or stale french bread (I used Artisan bread)
extra virgin olive oil (about 1/4 cup per half a loaf)
kosher salt
dried oregano
dried basil
garlic powder
(any other spices you like...thyme, rosemary)

Preheat oven to 350. Cut bread into one inch by one inch cubes or any size or shape you want. (It would be fun to use small cookie cutters and make shapes). Put the bread cubes on a cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the bread. Sprinkle with the salt and spices. Toss with your hands until the bread is evenly coated. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the bread is very crusty and golden brown. Make sure to stir the bread once or twice as it cooks to ensure even cooking. Cool completely. Use on salad, soup or anything else you can think of. These will store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
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Holiday Wassail

This is one of my favorite Fall drinks. As soon as the weather turns cold I crave this! I make a full batch just so I can heat up a cup whenever I want. I got this recipe from my sis-in-law. I have never had any other that even came close, in my opinion.  Happy Fall!

Holiday Wassail

1 qt water
2 cups sugar
2 cups lemon juice
12 oz orange juice concentrate
10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole piece of ginger (about 2 inches)
2 quarts apple juice

Add all the ingredients together, except the apple juice, in a large pot on your stove or your crock pot. You don't even need to peel the ginger, just drop it in, skin and all. Let this simmer for about 1 hour. Add the apple juice, then add as much water as you need to desired potency. (For me this is about 3-4 more cups of water, but I like it strong).

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Monday, October 11, 2010


Manicotti has to be one of my favorite pasta dishes ever! And this one is the best homemade one I have ever had. I have made a couple and hated them so I decided that I would just give up and I did for a while, until I came across this recipe. I decided to give it ONE more try, and boy I am glad I did! This recipe is so yummy! It is adapted from My Kitchen Cafe.

(6-8 servings)

Tomato Sauce

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes, in juice (I like petite diced)
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t salt
2 t dried basil or 1 t fresh, chopped

Cheese Filling and Pasta

3 cups ricotta cheese (I used low-fat)
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T chopped fresh parsley (I like flat leaf/Italian)
2 t chopped fresh basil
16 lasagna noodles, large shells or manicotti shells

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large saucepan heat oil. Add garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant but not brown. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 t salt and simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, eggs, salt , pepper and herbs.  Set aside.

Cook the noodles according to box directions.  I loved using lasagna noodles, they were easy to use and gave a cute ruffle to the edge of the manicotti.

Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Fill noodles.  If using lasagna noodles, lay them on a clean dish towel with the short side facing you.  Spread 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on the bottom 3/4 of the noodle, leaving the top 1/4 exposed.  Roll the noodle starting with the edge closest to you.  Place into the pan.  Repeat with the remaining noodles.  Put 8 filled noodles in each row creating 2 rows in your pan.  Pour the rest of the sauce evenly over the top of the noodles, making sure the noodles are covered.

 Cover the manicotti with foil.  Bake for about 40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.  Remove foil and top with the other 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Cook uncovered for 6-7 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. The manicotti can be prepared up until the baking step then covered with parchment paper and then foil and stored in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.  Thaw before cooking.  To bake, remove parchment, replace foil and increase the cooking time to 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours.  

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

I saw this recipe over at Brown Eyed Baker and couldn't resist. They made for such a great Fall breakfast! It made me wish I was having brunch with my girlfriends. I fear the beauty of these was entirely lost on my crew of boys, but they ate them just the same. I, on the other hand, ate mine daintily on this adorable plate! So next time you are feeling in Fall mood, whip up a batch of these!

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze
(12 scones)

the scones

2 cups flour
7 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground ginger
6 T cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 T half and half (I used cream, it is what I had)
1 egg

powdered sugar glaze

1 cup plus 1 T powdered sugar
2 T milk

spiced glaze

1 cup plus 3 T powdered sugar
2 T milk
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
1 pinch of ground ginger
1 pinch of ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 425. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in a large bowl. Using a fork cut in the butter until there are no more large chunks. In a separate bowl mix together the half and half, egg and pumpkin. Fold this into the dry ingredients until a dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a 1 inch thick rectangle that is 3 times longer than it is wide. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough twice through the width making 3 equal portions. Now cut an "x" through each section so you end up with 12 triangles. Put these on the cookie sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown (mine only took about 9 minutes, so watch they closely). Cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the powdered sugar glaze by mixing the milk and powdered sugar together until smooth. Once the scones are cold, brush the powdered sugar glaze over them evenly. Allow this to get firm.

Mix the ingredients for the spiced glaze all together. Once the powdered sugar glaze is firm on the scones, drizzle the spiced glaze over the top and allow this to set before serving.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Monster Cookies

These cookies are from The Pioneer Woman. They have SOOOO much in them and they are SOOOOO good! Now, I am a succor for cookies, almost any kind, but these are one of my favorites. There are so many flavors happening and they are so rich. Need, I say more? Do you need more convincing? I could go on and on! But instead, just go make some yourself! I used these cookies as an excuse to photograph my cute new cookie plate and adorable Fall apron my mom gave me! She is the BEST!

Monster Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used dark)
2 eggs
1 T vanilla (yes, Tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups flour (I added a little more, about 1/8 to 1/4 cup)
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 cups oats (I used quick)
1/2 cup mini M&M's
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
2 1/4 cups rice krispies

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix well. After that, add the rest of the ingredients leaving the rice krispies until the very end. Mix until just combined, do not over mix.

Scoop onto a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, about8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sweet Pastry Apple Bars

I found this recipe at my friend Stacie's blog. She called them Apple Pie Bars, however, I already have something called that on my blog and these are totally different. So, I changed the name to avoid confusion. Anyway, these are just so yummy. They come together quickly and definitely rival Apple Pie for me.

Sweet Pastry Apple Bars

sweet pastry

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten

apple filling

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 t cinnamon
4 cups baking apples (about 3 medium) peeled and sliced. (I used Fuji, it is what I had)


2 cups powdered sugar
3 T milk
1 t almond extract (I used 1/2 almond 1/2 vanilla)

preheat oven to 350. To prepare the crust, mix flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives until you have pea-sized crumbles. Gently mix in the egg. Press 2/3 of the crust into a GREASED 9x13 pan. Set aside.

To prepare apple filling, combine flour sugar and cinnamon and toss with the apples. Spread the apples over the crust. Sprinkle the reserves 1/3 of the crust over the top. Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Prepare the glaze by mixing powdered sugar, milk and almond extract. Drizzle the glaze over the top and allow to harden. Cut into bars and serve.

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Ok, I know this is a FOOD blog but I don't know where else to store this. Besides, this just might come in useful to some of you.

My son loves to put EVERYTHING in his pockets so when I discovered a myriad of things in the bottom of my washer, I assumed everything had come out of his pockets...until I got the clothes out of the dryer!  There was green crayon melted and dried all over the load of clothes!  Now, I don't know about you, but I can't afford to throw away a whole load of clothes. So I quickly called Abby, so I didn't totally break down and cry, and once I had vented and counted to 10, I jumped on the ever trusty Internet and googled "How to get dried crayon out of clothes".  Here is what I got...

2 max amounts (line 3) of concentrated tide
1 cup oxiclean
1 cup borax
1 cup shout
1 cup vinegar
very hot water

...well guess what, it totally worked!  I mixed up this little concoction, minus the water, and put it in my washer with the clothes and used very hot water.  I let the clothes sit in the water for a few minutes before starting the washer.  I just wish I had thought to take a before and after picture for you all to see this miracle take place.  If it ever happens again (and I have NO doubt it will)  I will be sure to snap a picture!  So there you have it.  Oh, and thanks to some more great friends who came to my rescue and brought me some of the ingredients I didn't have on hand, you know who you are!
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