Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"W" cookies

I had originally planned on doing number ones instead of W's.  However, I was trying to keep costs down and only wanted to buy one cookie cutter, not a whole set of them.  But, I think they came out super cute.  I might add that they were delicious!!!!  We were worried that there would be any left for Weston's birthday, because we kept eating them (guilty grin, here!).  

I used a recipe that Brooke, from Inchmark used and swears by.  I have always wanted to make them, but usually sugar cookies aren't my first choice to bake (if you are wondering, chocolate chip would be my first choice!).   I used a frosting that I found on allrecipes.com that I love. It has Karo syrup in it and gets hard when it dries.  It tastes amazing, but you don't get the smudges and messed up frosting that you would find from a butter cream.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
adapted from Blonde Designs

1 cup butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
pinch of salt
3 tsp vanilla (the recipe originally called for 2 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond. . . I also don't measure my vanilla)
3 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and mix.
Add egg, salt, and vanilla.  Mix well.
Add flour and mix.
Place dough in a round ball on plastic wrap.  Wrap it up and stick it in a zip lock bag.  Refrigerate overnight.
Roll out onto a floured surface and cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutters.
Stick cookies on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 until edges begin to brown.  There was no time limit and it completely depends on your oven and if you are using metal pans, a silpat, or stoneware.  I recommend setting your timer for 7 minutes and then checking.  You want the cookies to be just barely brown.  Cool them on a wire rack.

Sugar Cookie Icing
adapted from allrecipes.com

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp milk
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
Wilton coloring gels

Combine ingredients together until smooth and glossy.  If it too thick, add more syrup.
Dip, paint them, or use a size 1 tip and spread it around.

I used a 1 tip and my Pampered Chef decorator bottle set, with the size one tip.  They worked really well!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weston turns 1: a woodland party

Weston's first birthday is Wednesday.  I can't believe that it's been a year since he decided to make his entrance into the world (a little early and unexpected, but completely welcomed!).  I had a lot of fun putting the stuff together for this party.  I know that he will remember nothing, but I love doing parties!  It is so much fun!  

This party was really easy because we chose to do desserts rather than a full meal.  That made it so much easier for both Jon and I that we actually had a few minutes to breathe before our guests started arriving.  (I highly recommend going the dessert route. . . it is so much more relaxing!).  

Here is the dessert table at a glance.  I will admit I wasn't sure how it was going to come out, but I was very happy.  Every thing seemed to work out great!  Here is the overview and this week, I will spotlight one item each day with the recipe, or tutorial in honor of Weston's birthday. 

W is for Weston sugar cookies with orange frosting.  

Funfetti cake balls with green candy coating and sprinkles. 

Cinnamon Bun caramel popcorn in coned holders. 

Chocolate cupcakes with orange butter cream frosting. 

Trail Mix

The dining room table: Green wrapping paper for table runner, tree houses, and homemade trees.  Then I scattered rocks, pine cones, and moss in between everything. 

Banner.  We put the presents right underneath it on the fireplace. 

High Chair. 
"I am 1"

High chair with balloons. 

The shirt:  This year, Weston's shirt spelled out the words ONE.  It turned out so cute with the orange striped shirt  (Crazy 8) that I found.  The brown fabric is a heavier linen.  

Happy Birthday, Weston!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ramblings and a thankful heart. . .

Tuesday. . .

What's going through my head. . . in no particular order. :)

I should be working on my incredibly long (I'm not exaggerating) list of things to do for the little one's birthday party on Saturday.  I'm not.  I'm sitting here on the couch checking Facebook and a Pinterest.  Oh, and I watched last night's episode of Castle (thanks, Hulu!).  I was slightly productive.  I made some plans, did some dreaming, and put some page protectors on upcoming montly specials for Pampered Chef (have I mentioned I am really enjoying being able to earn a little bit of extra money by cooking for people. . . seriously, the greatest job ever!).

I have almost finished Weston's birthday gift. I can't wait to show it to you!  I think he's going to love it. . . I hope so anyway.

Both boys are sound asleep right now and I seriously am enjoying the peace and quiet.  We have been blessed with the most amazing rain and now fog. . . and I am not complaining. It means I can hang out at home and live in yoga pants and  a sweatshirt.  I'm thankful for that.

The lemon tree needs picked, I will probably do that Saturday after the party . . . it's a Woodland Forest Party.  I am so excited, but Pinterest has gotten me in trouble.  So many ideas, so little time!  Thankful that my husband as a quiet week teaching classes at University of Pheonix this week so he can help me out. . . he is such a blessing!

Weston has excema really bad. . . I think it's a milk allergy.  Apparently he got that from me.  Sorry kiddo.  I'm just thankful it's not something worse!  Praying it goes away soon.

Ethan had his first dentist appointment today.  We were so prepared.  He was ready and excited.  Until he went back to the room.  He was so scared.  Thankful, our doctor is so friendly with 3 year old boys and doesn't expect to get a full mouthful.  I hope that things get better in 6 months.  It's hard to get you child excited about the dentist when that's the last place on earth I'd rather be.

So, as soon as the kids get up, it's time to start checking things off my list.  I found an amazing sugar cookie recipe for Weston's party.  We're making the dough today.  It's going to be so much fun!

I hope you all are having a great week!

Monday, January 23, 2012

I might be losing it, but first some deliciousness!

For awhile tonight I thought I was losing my mind.  Those that know me probably are saying, it's been gone for awhile.  But this week is crunch time at my house.  It's a MOPS week combined with a little someone's first birthday party coming up.  Throw that in with a first dentist appt for Ethan and a random Dr. appt for Weston (he's got a funky skin thing going on since the Roseola and we aren't sure if he is developing a milk allergy or has some sort of virus going one).  So, I am taking a quick break from birthday stuff to show you this:  Yes, it's amazing.  And yes, it's another Pinterest find (I can't help myself. . . there are great ideas out there!).  

I made this yummy breakfast wreath for Christmas morning.  It was so yummy.  I used my heart shaped bundt pan (a wedding gift that I registered for thinking no one would pay 30 bucks for me to bake in this thing. . . I was wrong and I love it!), some Pilsbury Grands Biscuits, and everything turned out so scrumptious.  I think I am going to make it again for breakfast on Saturday. . . afterall, it is birthday party day!

Go visit All things Delicious for the recipe. It is great. . . Easy. . . and delicious!  Plus, if you use a fun shaped bunt pan, you can make it festive, too.  I don't know, I just may have to do this for Valentine's Day.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Apple nachos

I am sure many of you have seen the Apple Nacho craze on Pinterest and have pinned them with the hopes of making them for a secret afternoon snack and then forget about the recipe until you see it pop up on your pinfeed because one of your very close friends also pinned it.  That's what happened to me.  Then, last week at our small group Bible Study, my friend Steph made them for everyone.  Let's just say that a huge platter of the yumminess was completely licked clean.  Jon had stayed home that night with the kids because we have had a Roseola epidemic go through our house last week, so I decided to make them for dessert on Tuesday night.  Let me just say that EVERYONE loved them!  I made a small batch, but they were so yummy I will have to make them again!  I keep telling myself that they must be healthy because all the apples I am consuming. . . fiber and nutrients, right?  

So, I dare you . . . go make these for your family. . . err. . . i mean. . . you.  They are so yummy and addicting! 

Apple Nachos
adapted from Shugary Sweets via Pinterest

4 Apples, sliced and cored
1/4 cup butter
1 cup to 1 1/2 cups marshmallows (I didn't measure)
Hershey's Caramel Sundae Sauce
Handful of mini chocolate chips
Hershey's Syrup

Layer apples on plate.   Melt butter and marshmallows together in a small saucepan.  Spoon melted marshmallow goodness over apples.  Drizzle with caramel sauce and Hershey's syrup.  Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the top.  Serve or just eat.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

artichoke tapanade

I checked Facebook this morning and saw snow. . . lots of it. Not here though.  We are just cold and dry.  In fact, it hasn't rained in forever. . . it's supposed to rain in a few days . . . I can't wait.  

My oldest is sick right now.  Just a fever, most likely roseola. His brother is just getting over his case of it.  It's a quiet day full of movies.  I maybe strange, but I don't mind a feverish kid every now and then.  It is kind of nice to slow down.  

Preparations for Weston's first birthday party are underway.  I am really excited about his party and how everything is turning out.  There is even a sewing project in the works and I can't wait to share it with you!

So, for today, I am going to leave you with these:
 yes. . . they are yummy. . . but wait until you hear what they are. . . artichoke tapanade over toasted baguette.  Let me just say that they are amazing!  
 I made these awhile back, for my Pampered Chef Christmas Open House.  Which means it is a Pampered Chef recipe that was made for one of their newer products, the manual food processor.  At this time, I didn't have the product, so I just used my good old, reliable plug into the wall and push Go and it will process.  It worked great (of course!).  I do have that special tool now, and maybe later I will give it a review.  
Ahh. . . a close up.  Makes me want to go and make these right now.  Good thing I am out of artichokes, because there is no way that eating ALL of these will help me win my war against extra Jolie. You can go and make them. . . I promise, you won't regret it!

Artichoke Tapenade
Adapted from Pampered Chef

1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts in water
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley 
1 garlic clove, peeled 
1/2 cup pitted green olives (I used black on accident and it still was amazingly good!)
1 tbsp capers
5 tbsp olive oil 

Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until thick and creamy.  Cut baguette into thin slices and lay on cooke sheet.  Place under broiler for a 1-3 minutes until lightly toasted.  Put a dollop of tapenade over each slice and place on serving tray.  This makes a wonderful appetizer!  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Gift cards for Debbie

Every Thanksgiving, Jon's family draws names for their annual Christmas Gift exchange.  We have a 20 dollar limit and we get to suggest some things that we have on our wish list.  This year, I got Jon's Aunt Debbie.  She had asked for some thank you cards and I thought it would be fun to whip up some handmade ones really quick.  Everything was from scraps laying around the office.  I was able to come up with these sets. Each package is a set of 5 like note cards.  
 I <3 yellow and grey!

This one reminds me of spring. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas wrap-up: part 2

This year Jon decided to participate in his work's annual Cookie Exchange.  There were only 6 people who signed up, he being the only male.  We decided to finish off the spritz cookie dough I had made the previous weekend at my Pampered Chef Open House.  They were just so easy to make a bunch and they taste so yummy!

For this cookie exchange, each set of 6 cookies had to be individually wrapped.  I drove my husband a bit crazy because I took the time to put them in small, clear treat bags with festive scrapbook paper with zig zagged edges.  Super easy, but so nice.  (He was slightly embarrassed, but they got lots of compliments!)

Classic Spritz Cookies

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
assorted sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat butter on medium speed until creamy.  Add sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Beat well.  Slowly add flour, 1 cup at a time, until all mixed.  Dough will be soft.  Don't refrigerate.  

Fill cookie press with dough, pick desired disk, put lid on and press away.  Then sprinkle with sprinkles and stick in the oven for about 10 minutes.  

This recipe will bake approx. 6-7 dozen cookies . . . .perfect for cookie exchanging!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Oh my goodness!!!!

I made these cookies last night and they were simply amazing! I kid you not! They are actually called "I want to marry you" cookies. And, seriously, with a title like that, how could I resist?

These cookies were good hot out of the oven and they are still amazing this morning. They are quite seriously the perfect cookie. They were easy to make (a few extra steps, but perfect to do while cleaning up an easy dinner and putting kids to bed), had the perfect dough to chocolate chip ratio, nicely colored and soft with a little bit of crunch (just the way my husband likes them, by the way!).

Okay, time to get the little guy up from his nap. I will be back later today with the recipe.

 . . .I'm back (it's nap time again).  Here's the recipe. . . now go out and bake some cookies for someone special.  Send a little love someone's way.  Seriously. . . it's worth it!

"Will you marry me?" Cookies
adapted from Cookingchannel.com

1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla (I don't really measure. . . I just sort of pour it in)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (mine was heaping)
2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine the melted butter and sugars together.  Let them chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. 

Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and cinnamon. 

Slowly add dry ingredients.  

Let dough chill out in the fridge for 30 minutes.  

Scoop onto cookie sheet lined with your silpat or parchment paper.

Bake at 325 for 12 minutes.  


p.s. did you get any proposals?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Getting my chocolate fix

Some days I just need chocolate.  I am sure you can relate.  Really, I am sure that it is written in some {unknown} book somewhere that mom's need chocolate every now and then. . . and not just a handful of M&M's. . . a nice slice of moist, chocolate yumminess.  Anybody agree? 

And, I am sure most of you would probably agree that on such days, when above mentioned chocolate fix needs to be filled, creating more dishes in the sink just doesn't sound like a way to end the day. . . regardless of the delicious, need-meeting, moist, deliciousness that is quenching your palate's need for chocolate. 

So, on a day (much like the one mentioned above), I found a wonderful recipe for a chocolate cake that would not create havoc in my kitchen or leaving me regretting my decision to bake something.  (thank you, Pinterest!) This recipe, required 1 bowl. . . yes, one bowl (and if you were brave and were planning on eating it straight out of the cake pan, you could even mix everything up right in the pan, resulting in less dishes to clean!).  I honestly think this took about 5 minutes to mix up and then bake.  
Chocolate Pan Cake
adapted from The Whimsical Cupcake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

:: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
:: Grease a 8 inch pan with cooking spray. 
:: Put all the dry ingredients in to a bowl.  Give it a stir and make 3 holes.
:: Start putting the wet ingredients into holes.  Stir until mixed up.  
:: Pour into prepared 8 inch pan. 
:: Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then invert onto a serving plate.  Dust with powdered sugar . . . cut . . . eat. . . savor. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Brownie balls: Christmas wrap-up, part 1

I love Christmas time!  The whole month of December is always filled with so many fun-filled activities.  And, I think adding kids into the mix makes it somewhat busier, and then this year, I added Pampered Chef!  So, it has been Crazy around here.  Last week, I said I would be more consistent. . . who knows what happened. . . life apparently.  

So, in honor of Christmas being over and January starting, I thought I would post my Christmas Brownie Balls. They are great! Bad for the diet, but amazingly Delicious!  This year with my Christmas baking, I tried to incorporate everyone's favorite treat.  Jon picked his usual, peanut butter balls and Ethan picked these brownie balls.  They were so very easy!  Did you make anything this year?  If so, what was your favorite thing that you made or received?

Brownie Balls

Brownie Mix
Chocolate fudge frosting
chocolate candy coating
sprinkles (optional)

:: Make brownies according to package directions.
:: Let cool, and then crumble and place in bowl.  Put a few spoonfulls of frosting and mix together with your hands.  You don't want to use too much frosting, or else they won't stick nicely together and you will have a mess.  
:: Put waxed paper or parchment paper on narrow (needs to fit in the freezer) baking sheet.  Start rolling into balls.  Place balls on baking sheet and freeze for about 24 hours.  
::  Melt chocoalte candy coating and dip frozen balls, covering the whole thing.  Put back on waxed paper or parchement paper and let sit until hardened.  Sprinkle sprinkles over the top while still wet.  

These freeze really well and can be made several weeks in advance and then frozen until ready to serve.  These are always fun to keep on hand in case someone drops by and you need a fun dessert.  

Monday, January 02, 2012

Welcome 2012

Happy Happy New Year to all my blog reading friends!  I hope you having a phenomenal year so far (I know. . . it's only the second day of the year!).  Life here on the home front is settling down after a busy Christmas season.  I love the month of December with all the activities, music, and fun.  However, I am so excited for life to get back to normal (what is normal, by the way?)

So, I thought I would start the year off with a new look for our blog and something new.

I want to answer your questions (if you have any?) and make a Q and A page for my blog.  Please leave a comment asking me a question and I will answer it. 

In the meantime, I am going to upload my pictures from my camera and finish getting ready to get my carpets cleaned in a few minutes. . . we are getting off to a clean start.


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