Sunday, March 30, 2014

Home, Sweet Home

     Hi everyone, we just got back from our wonderful trip to Texas for Liam's Spring Break! We had so much fun and did so many fun exciting activities! I can't wait to show you, but for now, I'm gonna take it easy after a long drive home, unwind a bit, then later start the unpacking.  I still need to upload and edit the many pictures I took.  So for now, I'll just say hello there and see you real soon!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

What you need:

3 cups sugar
3 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
1 cup and 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
3 eggs, slightly beaten (room temperature)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup hot coffee

** Frosting- 
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 oz unsweetened chocolate (finely chopped)
12 TBsp unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

**The cupcake recipe makes A LOT of cupcakes, so I doubled the Frosting recipe.**

How to make them:

Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, four, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mix to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, vegetable oil, and milk; stir to mix.
Then, with mixer on low, pour wet mixture into the dry mixture; mix on low until evenly distributed.
Pour the hot coffee into the batter and mix on medium low until smooth, the batter will be soupy.
Divide the batter between the cupcake liners.
Bake for 13-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out cleanly.
Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.

For the frosting
In a saucepan, bring the sugar and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cream and sugar for 6 minutes.
Be careful not to let the saucepan overflow.
Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter until they have completely melted.
Stir in the vanilla extract.
Let the frosting cool completely, whisking every now and then during cooling.
To speed up the process, place in the freezer (really fast), or in the refrigerator (fast) for awhile, whisking every now and then until frosting is spreadable or can be piped.
Spread or pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.
Garnish with chocolate sprinkles then ENJOY!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Cupcake recipe from Get Sweet Smart
 Frosting recipe adapted from Audrey's

What you need:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 TBsp unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups milk (room temperature)

1 tub of mascarpone
1 cup of powdered sugar (sifted)
seeds of half of a vanilla bean
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of whipping cream

How to make them:

Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Line two muffin tins with cupcake wrappers.
In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
Slowly add eggs one at a time until combined.
Add vanilla and vanilla bean seeds to milk.
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat with mixer until well combined.
Then at 1/3 milk and mix throughly.
Repeat with remaining ingredients, scraping bowl as needed.
Scoop batter into prepared pans and bake 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
Cool cupcakes completely on wire racks before frosting.

To make the frosting:

Combine the mascarpone and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Add the vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and whipping cream.
Whip at medium-high speed until cream turns into a whipped cream consistency.
DO NOT over whip the mixture.
Spread or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
Garnish with white sprinkles then ENJOY!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Taking a little Spring Break

       Since we didn't get to go home (Texas) for the Christmas holidays, I planned on packing up the family and heading there for Liam's Spring Break, which starts as soon as he gets home from school!  That means I have been packing suitcases and checking off lists all week, the car will be loaded, snacks packed the night before so we can leave bright and early the next morning!  So with that, I will be away from the laptop so I can focus on making lots of fun memories, which I will make sure to take pictures of, so I can share when we get back.  So, in the meantime, have a great week and see ya when we get back!
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Cookies

Adapted from original recipe on Pia Recipes

What you need:

3 1/4 cups cake flour (sifted)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (washed and dried)
1 cup white chocolate chips

How to make it:

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beat after each addition.
Add in vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mix until well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients into the batter.
Then carefully fold in the white chocolate chips and blueberries.
Allow dough to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Scoop out dough onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 11-14 minutes, until bottoms are slightly golden brown and the edge should NOT be brown.
Take out let cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bourbon Pecan Pralines

Recipe from Taste of Home

What you need:
1/4 cup unsalted butter (cubed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup pecan halves (toasted)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
1 TBsp bourbon
How to make them:
Grease two baking sheets, set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
Stir in the sugars, then cream, cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reads 236˚ (soft-ball stage), about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the pecans halves, chopped pecans, and bourbon.
Immediately drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.
Let stand until pralines are set up and no longer glossy.
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Joyeux Mardi Gras!

     So Mardi Gras has been going on for awhile, but I usually just celebrate it with the kiddos on Fat Tuesday.  It's a day with beads, masks, purple, green and gold, yummy food, and festive treats!  I usually make the traditional Red Beans & Rice, Gumbo, Dirty Rice, Okra, yadda yadda.... but this year I wanted to do something a little different.  So, I went on Pinterest and found some yummy new recipes to try out on the family.  They are awesome and got the thumbs up!  These were definitely blog worthy!

Here's the Mardi Gras lunch I came up with for Liam 
Purple, green & yellow Gold Fish,
PB&J with sanding sugars,
Grapes & Apricots,
and a King Cake Bar (I made)

While Liam was in school, Kinley and I dressed up!

For dinner I made some finger lickin' Cajun BBQ Shrimp

For dessert we enjoyed some King Cake Bars

Hope you had a fun festive Mardi Gras....
now that we filled ourselves on Fat Tuesday, it's time to fast for Ash Wednesday for Lent!
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top of the Mornin' to You

     Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, so why not dress the kiddos up in green and some leprechaun hats to take some pictures?  That's exactly what I did!  My babies are growing up so fast, gotta take as many pictures as I can!  So here's my little models.....

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Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Treats

     I am ALL about St. Patrick's Day fun and celebrations, so I wanted to make something special that Liam could bring to his class.  I had purchased a bunch of chocolate gold coins last month just for St. Patrick's Day.  But, what to do with them?  Why not make some cute rainbow pouches out of coffee filters? Perfect!

Here's what you need:

Chocolate gold coins
coffee filters
green ribbon
spray bottle with water in it

How to make it:

First using the markers, color the coffee filter in rainbow order. (ROYGBIV)
Or however you want, I just liked the rainbow look, since it was St. Patrick's Day.

Place the colored coffee filter on a paper plate or a tray.
Spray a little water onto the coffee filter to moisten it.

Place the wet coffee filter on some old newspaper to dry.

When they are dry, place 2 or 3 chocolate gold coins in the middle of the coffee filter.
Pull up the sides and tie a piece of green ribbon around to make a little pouch.

 Here's what they will look like!

Such a cute way to say HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!
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Lucky Leprechaun Cookies

Recipe adapted from Sugar Plum Blog

What you need:

1 TBsp unsalted buter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups Lucky Charms cereal pieces (not the marshmallows)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tspsalt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg (room temperature)
3/4 cup Lucky Charms marshmallows
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips.

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Spray a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Melt 1 TBsp butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; whisk in 1/4 cup sugar until combined.
Bring to a boil, until sugar dissolves.
Stir in cereal pieces until combined.
Place in prepared pan, bake 5 minutes, stir, bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper, for the cookies.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy, about 1 minute.
Beat in egg until combined.
Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
Stir in in candied cereal pieces, marshmallows, and chocolate chips until just combined.
Scoop out tablespoons of dough onto prepared cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart.
Bake 10-13 minutes or until slightly crisp and starting to turn golden around the edges.
Cool 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

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King Cake Bars

Recipe from The Christian Science Monitor

What you need:
2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
1 cup unsalted butter (cold and cubed)
6 TBsp sugar
2 Tbsp milk
2 (8oz) blocks cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 egg (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup confectioner's sugar (sifted)
2 Tbsp milk
colored sanding sugar or sprinkles (purple, green, yellow)
How to make them:
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Spray a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, mix flour and sugar.
Drop in the butter cubes and beat on low speed until mixture is crumble and looks like wet sand.
Add the milk and beat until it starts to stick together.
Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared baking dish then press it in to form an even layer, making sure there are no holes or gaps.
Clean the mixer bowl and paddle, then make sure it's dry.
Beat the filling ingredients together until completely smooth.
Spread the filling evenly over the prepared crust.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and filling is set.
While the bars are cooking, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and milk until completely smooth.
As soon as you remove the bars from the oven, spread the glaze in an even layer across the top.
Immediately decorate with the sanding sugar.
Leave the bars to cool completely.
To serve, cut into bars then ENJOY!
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Bacon Collard Greens

Recipe from Taste of Home

What you need:

2 lbs collard greens
4 thick sliced bacon strips (chopped)
1 cup sweet onion (chopped)
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil, chopped)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

How to make it:

Trim thick stems from collard greens, coarsely chop leaves.
In a Dutch oven, saute bacon for 3 minutes.
Add onion, cook for 8 to 9 minutes or until onion is tender and bacon is crisp.
Add greens, cook just until wilted.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until greens are tender.

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