Monday, February 28, 2011

Best Blondies Ever!

This is my go-to-recipe when I need to make a treat in a hurry. It is SO yummy!

Here's what you need:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 - 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips

Here's what you do:
Melt butter. Pour butter into mixing bowl.
Add brown sugar and vanilla to the butter.
Beat in eggs.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt, then add to egg mixture.
Stir in coconut and chocolate chips.
Pour into lightly greased 9x13 pan.
Spread mixture evenly.
Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on the top of the mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
And enjoy!

I have made these blondies with white chocolate chips and cranberries, I've added rice krispies for a little bit of a cruch, and sometimes I'll add some almond slices or walnut pieces. You can add (just about) anything to this recipe and it always turns out amazing!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Coffee Cupcakes

I got to make a few goodies yesterday!

Well... I don't actually know how to make just a "few" goodies.
I think it stems from being a part of a family of 12, I just can't help it...

The beige cupcakes I made are coffee flavored. I've made them before using a "white" cake mix and they were a huge hit!
This time I tried this French vanilla cake mix and put two packets of Starbucks instant coffee right into the cake mix and then I baked it as normal. I love these little packets from Starbucks, they come 3 in a package. I mixed the other packet into two, yep two (it takes a lot of frosting to make the pretty swirl) containers of store bought vanilla frosting to make a really yummy coffee flavored frosting, it's the best! I think I could just eat the frosting by itself.

I made these goodies for a pink and brown birthday party for an adorable little princess who is turning 1 today. Happy birthday, princess!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine Gingerbread Houses

My friend Liz and I had a handful of leftover gingerbread house kits, so we thought we'd decorate them for Valentine's Day!

Take a look at our fun!
My super crafty friend, Liz and her daughter Meaghan joined us in our crafty chaos.
This was the best thing ever! We put the frosting in squeeze tubes! I picked mine up at Joann Fabric in the Valentine section. If you want to find them online, here's a link to the Wilton store. Super easy and super cheap!
The kids were able to put the frosting on by themselves! It was so much easier than piping bags!
* Tip: If the bottle started to get too empty they were hard to squeeze, so we kept them pretty full. We also cut a bigger hole in the tip to allow more frosting out at a time.
Deacon had fun playing "destructo" with his house. Notice the bullet holes.
His roof needed a few repairs from the bullet damage.
Look Mom! He used one of your homemade lollipops on the house. A little angel guarding the door. :)
Here's one of the houses that Elena decorated.
My super crafty friend Liz made this one.

 It was a lot of fun, very relaxing and a great activity to do with the kids!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Banner

I am certainly not a "paper-crafter", but I having been drooling over the paper banners and pennants that I'm seeing all over the blogosphere. I don't have the proper tools, the proper paper or adhesives. And I really wanted to make a banner, but since I really don't know what I'm doing, I decided to "fake it" and make something up.

Here's my attempt at making my own Valentine's Banner. Try not to cringe my "paper-crafting" friends. :)

Here's what I did.

I utilized Word Art on Microsoft Publisher and printed out the word "Love" on pink and red printer paper.

I cut out the letters, my little helper glued the letters on to the triangles cut out of really pretty card stock.

I cut the 4x6 sheet of pretty card stock in half and then cut the triangle out of each half. Two triangles, from one sheet.

Then we stapled the pennants onto grosgrain ribbon.

And there you have it! My version of a Valentine's Banner. I love them!

And here's the pink banner.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

S'mores on a stick!

What could be better? Inside of a warm cozy house with no smokey-fire smell on your clothes... graham cracker-chocolatey-marshmallowy goodness! Um...YUM!

I've been seeing all kinds of little treats-on-a-stick all over the entertaining blogs and this one looked so easy, I was anxious to try it. I love easy treats that make it look like a "big deal". Presentation is kind of a big deal to me, when it comes to desserts that is. :)

(Oh shoot! I can't seem to find the link to where I saw them, my apologies. I'll add it later if I find it.)

Anyways, here's how we made a bunch of s'mores on a stick!

Deacon smashed up the graham crackers.

We put sticks in the marshmallows.
Then we dipped them in chocolate almond bark and sprinkled the smashed up graham crackers on them.

Since it's close to Valentine's Day, Elena dipped some in red candy melts too.
We used a combination of standard white marshmallows and the pink strawberry ones.
The kids each had a taste, if only you could have heard the moaning, "ohhh, mommy, these are sooo gooood"!
I had a taste. I prefer the taste of the chocolate, but the red just looks so pretty.
Sometimes pretty wins.
We lined the counter top with waxed paper to let them harden.
We made enough for the kids to bring to school for their Valentine's Day party.
We made enough to fill this red tray. I got it for $1.50 at Wal-mart. I think it's lovely.

And we made enough for me to add to my Valentine display.
Did you notice my beautiful red heart-shaped baking dish? First candy hearts and now peanuts. I think I'll keep it around, it's being very useful.

In the original instructions that I read, they used lollipop sticks in the marshmallows. When I went to buy them in town, the only lollipop sticks I had found were about $6.00 for 20 of them, I couldn't do it, I'm too cheap, and it didn't seem smart. Then I went to Cash and Carry and they had a big box of 1000 coffee stirrers for about $2.00. Since they're only holding marshmallows, they seemed like they would be sturdy enough. We made a ton of them, and hardly made a dent in the box, so I'd be happy to share if anyone would like some of these coffee sticks/s'mores sticks.
P.S. I'm sure there must be a better source for lollipop sticks, but I haven't gotten around to checking yet. If you know of one, I'd love to hear about it.
Once the chocolate ran out, Deacon had a good time building with sticks and marshmallows.
He made all sorts of creations, but in the end the marshmallows ended up being one big baseball that he tossed around the house... um, eww! I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture of it. But, he was so happy, laughing and playing that I had a hard time putting an end to it. (He was being creative and I like that.) But I did. Eventually.

This week has been full of sweet-treats. Thankfully they've been leaving the house just as fast as we've been making them. The real prize is the time being spent with the kids. A time to talk, a time to be together, a time to be creative and (shh.. don't tell) a time for them to learn new skills. Deacon has now mastered the hand mixer and mastered the microwave melting process of almond bark and candy melts. Things he seemed a bit apprehensive about, now he does without reservation. I love that! You can almost see the confidence rising.