Archive | April, 2011

Easter Goodies :)

23 Apr

First, let me start by saying that I don’t believe the true meaning of Easter is bunnies, colorful eggs, and baskets filled with chocolate. I believe in Jesus and his miraculous defeat of the grave. He is alive and that is what Easter is meant to celebrate! However, on the other hand….I see no harm in baking cute Easter goodies. ๐Ÿ™‚ I mean, let’s face it. Easter eggs make more adorable treats than empty graves. So there you have it. My entire 2 cents about the holiday. ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted to make something for my class. Several of my students had mentioned to me that they were excited about Easter and that they had been learning about it at church, were going shopping for new dresses, and already had baskets for egg hunts. So I thought it would be fun to bring them an Easter surprise on Friday. I thought about some cupcakes that I made last year and knew they would be perfect. They are easy, but were also a big hit.

It start, of course, with baking cupcakes. I realized after I started mixing up the batter that I had no Easter colored baking cups. So bright red ones would have to do. ๐Ÿ™‚ (I got no complaints about the wrappers not being Easter themed from the 1st graders! Ha )

My next step was to mix together some green icing. I usually mix up my own icing, but you could make these cupcakes with store bought icing too. Just add a little extra powdered sugar so that the icing is stiff enough to hold the design.

I know this picture is a little blurry, and I wish you could see it better. I used an icing tip that has lots of little holes in it. That way, when the icing is squeezed out of it, it will resemble grass. As in Easter grass. ๐Ÿ™‚

And the last step is to add a few jellybeans to the top to look like Easter eggs. ๐Ÿ™‚ I used Starburst jellybeans, because those are my personal favorite. Any brand would do, but just think about this: You get to eat all of the leftover jellybeans. So choose your jellybeansย wisely, my friends.

That’s all folks! Enjoy your holiday.

Up Next: Another cupcake design. A very cute one. ๐Ÿ™‚

Random Thought of the Day: I ran in my first ever 5K today! It was exciting to finish the whole thing, and finish it without walking any. I finished in 33:34, which I thought was a decent time for my first race. I’m planning on running another one in a month. Hopefully I can finish just a little faster. ๐Ÿ™‚


Very “Special” Cookies

16 Apr

I went to the grocery store last night. I bought NOTHING to make a dessert with to post here on the blog. So I decided to be resourceful. I tried to figure out what I could make with ingredients on hand, and not make another trip to the grocery store. Not that it’s a big hassle. I just wanted to be a little lazy on this nice Saturday afternoon. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a couple of boxes of Special K cereal and I thought to myself, I could make rice krispyย treats with that. I remember my mom making rice krispyย treats out of lots of different cereals when I was little. I loved them. So I guess they weren’t really “rice krispy” treats anymore. But I enjoyed lots ofย Honey Nut Cheeriosย treats. ๐Ÿ™‚ I checked the pantry and I had plenty of marshmallows to make this happen.

Then I thought….I wonder what else I could make with this cereal? I decided to do a little search online, and then if nothing interesting came up I’d go back to the rice krispyย treats plan. As it turns out, there are several different recipes that I found for cookies made with it. I decided on a no-bake kind. I think those are easier because you don’t have to worry about them being over cooked. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like chewy cookies, not crunchy so I don’t like it if I overbake cookies and they get hard. Here’s the recipe I decided to try:

The two stars of the show are Special K cereal and peanut butter. Sounds good to me already. ๐Ÿ™‚

I bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school nearly every day for lunch. It’s my favorite and I never get tired of it. And I eat cereal just about every morning for breakfast. It just never gets old. So I think this should be a perfect combo. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did tweak the recipe just a tad, to use what I had on hand already. I didn’t have any creamy peanut butter, so I used crunchy. I figured it wouldn’t hurt the texture any, maybe even help it out. And I used the vanilla and almonds flavor of the cereal. It has a little crunch to it also from the almonds. So, in my best Iron Chef America food critic voice, I thought in my head “Theย  peanut and almonds will work together to give it a nice depth of flavor. The two different kind of nuts will just bring out the flavor so much more and really enhance the dish.” ๐Ÿ˜›

The first step is to stir together light corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and a little salt in a microwavable bowl. I was interested to see what it would look like after cooking it for 4 minutes. The recipe said that the corn syrup would begin to boil in the microwave and the sugar would dissolved. I’m pretty sure I’d never boiled corn syrup in the microwave before. It became a very smooth mixture and pretty translucent.

The peanut butter gets stirred in next….

…and lastly the cereal.

How easy is that?! Judging by the look of this mixture, I guessed that this recipe turned out to be very similar to a rice krispy treat anyways. I wonder if boiling the corn syrup and sugar in the microwave created something very similar to a marshmallow? Whatever the case, it looks yummy. ๐Ÿ™‚

I dropped spoonfuls of this onto wax paper to cool. According to the recipe, they’re all done.

Even though this was the end of the recipe’s instruction, the picture of the cookies that was posted with the recipe had one more thing. Melted chocolate drizzled on top. I thought this was a FANTASTIC idea.

I really liked the look of this.ย  But why stop there? Why not dip the entire cookie into chocolate? It’s just getting better and better. ๐Ÿ™‚

One cookie, 3 ways: no chocolate, a little chocolate, or lots of chocolate. ๐Ÿ™‚ Which one would you prefer?

And here’s the ironic part. I mentioned that I was trying to be resourceful and use ingredients that I already had atย  home to save an extra trip to the grocery store. And it worked. Kind of. The recipe called for 1 1/3 cups of peanut butter, and once I scooped that much out of the jar I had none left. So even though I didn’t have to make a trip to the store to make these cookies, I’ll need to go buy more peanut butter before Monday so that I can make my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, there was a little bit of a backfire. But, I found a completely new recipe idea in the process. So not a failed attempt. ๐Ÿ™‚

Up Next: Something for easter.

Random Thought of the Day: 5 more weeks of school and then summer!

Fancy Nancy

8 Apr

If you know who Fancy Nancy is, this blog post is for you. ๐Ÿ™‚ This week all of the first graders at my school went on a field trip to see a Fancy Nancy play. They loved it, and a co-worker of mine encouraged me to bring a cake for the occasion. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you don’t know who she is, she is a book character who loves to do everything the fancy way. They are actually really cute books. Her favorite color is fuchsia (she explains that this is “fancy” for purple). She likes to pick out elaborate ensembles for school (fancy for outfits), and she likes to bake delectable cupcakes (fancy for yummy). Here’s what she looks like.

ย As a teacher, I love them. The kids start using all of these “fancy” words in their conversations because they want to be like Nancy….and they don’t even realize they are enriching their vocabulary. Ha! Caught ya, kiddos. ๐Ÿ™‚ I decided that to make the cake truly stupendous (her favorite work for great), it needed to have a special design on the inside as well as the outside. So, I got out my checkerboard cake pan set. It’s a little confusing to explain how this works, but I’ll try…

I mixed together two batches of cake. Both were vanilla flavored, but I left one batch the normal yellow color and tinted the other batch pink with food coloring. This set of pans comes with a ring that you place into each pan before you pour the batter. It divides the cake into rings, in a pattern like the Target logo. For two of the layers, I poured my pink batter into the outer circle, the yellow batter into the middle circle, and then the pink batter again for the inside circle. For the other layer, I started with yellow on the outside, and pink in the middle. I think it would make slightly more sense with pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

Once the layers are alternately stacked together, the rings create the checkerboard pattern on the inside. Of course then I needed to finish icing the sides and top to create a blank canvas for my masterpiece. ๐Ÿ™‚

I decided to try a new technique for this cake. It’s called “Frozen Buttercream Transfer.” You start by printing out a picture of whatever design you want on the cake.

I taped this down to a flat surface, and then taped down some parchment paper on top of it. Then, I traced the picture onto the parchment paper using buttercream icing and piping bags. You have to pipe each color of icing on top of each other, starting with the outline.

Once I’d traced over all the details, I put this into the freezer for about two hours. Once it was very firm, I took it out and flipped it over onto the top of my cake. It ends up being a mirror image of the picture that was traced. Then I *carefully* peeled off the parchment paper. I was very nervous about this part, especially since this was the first time I’d tried this technique. It took over 30 minutes to pipeย little Nancy (including time to mix the colors) and I didn’t want it to go to waste! I was very relieved when I saw that the picture was still in tact. ๐Ÿ™‚ I added one of her favorite, fancy phrases (Ooh La La!). As Nancy explains in her books, everything sounds more fancy in French. ๐Ÿ™‚ And of course, it needed a pink border. And voila! Fancy Nancy.

My students loved it. That half an hour spent tracing all of her little ruffles on her dress was worth it when I saw their faces. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I was happy with how the inside looked when it was sliced. Fancy indeed!

Up Next: Really not sure yet? Any requests?

Random Thought of the Day: Special K, Vanilla and Almonds flavor. I love it. Try it. That’s all. ๐Ÿ™‚

The End.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame :)

3 Apr

If you know me very well at all, you know that I was excited for the return of baseball season this week. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a huge Braves fan, so of course this week’s post has to do with baseball. I made a few cake pops to celebrate the season’s opening series. If you missed my previous post about cake pops, they are pretty simple little treats (depending on how elaborately you want to decorate them). They are crumbled up cake pieces mixed with just a little frosting, and then dipped in chocolate coating. All on a stick. Kind of like a cakeย  lollipop. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s what I started with:

Three (traditional) round cake pops, and 3 in the shape of jerseys. I made these by using a onesie cookie cutter. I just cut the bottom edge off straight instead of leaving the little leg holes. I had this from a baby shower cake I did last year, and never realized that baby cookie cutters could be useful for baseball season. ๐Ÿ™‚ I used a little melted chocolate to secure the lollipop sticks and then placed them in the freezer until they were firm enough to dip.

I dipped them in melted white chocolate bark.

The baseballs were pretty easy. My sweet husband helped mix together some red icing while I was working on melting the chocolate bark. All I had to do was add a few stitches, and these were good to go.

Then for the jerseys. These were a little more tedious, but so much fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ I started by trying to make a jersey that said “Braves.” As you can see, I ran out of room. So instead, it said “Brave.” Oops. Haha. Close enough, I think.

Then I made one with a tomahawk. I figured I couldn’t run out of room for letters ifย I didn’t include a word. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last but not least, I made this one to dedicate to my sister who loves Chipper Jones*. Actually, I can’t say too much bad about him myself. He’s a legend. This one’s for you Kasi.

*Real story: I actually wanted to make one that said “Heyward.” But I thought that might not end well. Since I already ran out of room for “Braves”, I thought I better go with a player’s name with less letters than Heyward. So I settled for Chipper. He’s an alright guy though, so I can’t complain. ๐Ÿ™‚

So that’s it for this week. GO BRAVES! This is our season. I just know it is. We’re going to be the World Series Champions of 2011. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yes, I’ve been saying that every season. But one of these days it’s going to come true!

P.S. – My password for my computer at work may or may not contain the number 95. Since that was the last year the Braves won the world series, I’m hoping it brings them good luck. ๐Ÿ™‚

Up Next: Something Fancy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Random Thought of the Day: I’m going on a field trip tomorrow. Hope it goes well! We are going to see a play.

The End.