Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grilled Pound Cake S'mores

My family gets together for family dinner on Sundays. I am often put in charge of either bringing or making the dessert.  My mom found a recipe for grilled pound cake s'mores and thought they sounded like a perfect way to celebrate the end of summer so I took over making them for her.  Of course we adapted the recipe a bit too. Here's our ingredients (plus butter not shown).  It didn't call for the chocolate indulgence spread but we were glad we got it (great thought mom!).

So you slice the pound cake into 12 slices to make 6 s'mores sandwiches.  Lightly brush melted butter on the bottom side of six slices and spread chocolate on the top (we made half with milk and half with dark).  The butter helps to prevent it from sticking to the grill while giving you the beautiful grill lines and the chocolate spread helps work as a wonderful glue to hold in the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.  

I used 12 mini marshmallows and a handful of chocolate chips per slice.  Then top with another slice of pound cake that has chocolate spread facing inwards and brush melted butter on top.  We grilled the s'mores sandwiches on low heat for about 3-4 minutes per side.  So glad we used the chocolate spread because without this "glue"  chocolate chips and marshmallows would have been falling out when we flipped them for sure!  Be sure not to burn the bottoms but allow them to grill long enough to give grill marks on the cake and melt all the goodness inside.  They were pretty yummy, an interesting take on s'mores, and the perfect way to celebrate summer winding down. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baby Time

 A friend is having her second baby soon, and I made some goodies for it (the gender is a surprise). Since she has now received said gifts I finally get to post this!  A group of us girls all get together for a game night about once a month and we all were to decorate a onesie for baby.  Well, mommy-to-be is a big fan of owls so I knew right away that I wanted to go with an owl theme. I came across a tutorial to sew little felt owl ornaments HERE and adapted the pattern to make a larger stuffed owl toy first.  Then I used the pattern to paint an owl on the onesie using acrylic paint mixed with fabric paint medium. I like how it came out, and so did mommy-to-be!

 I also like to knit hats for new babies so I picked yarns that would go with my color scheme and came up with a little gray, white, and yellow striped double ribbed design. It should fit newborn-3months.

 All the other onesies were cute too but I didn't bring my camera so you'll just have to take my word on it.  I also made a baby face cake to celebrate the little one to come.  It's made of cookies and cream cake in a dome cake pan and frosted with colored butter cream icing.  The little paci in the mouth is my favorite.  (I had to re-do the nose twice and I'm still not a huge fan of it but it worked.  Guess I need more practice on cute baby noses.)  It was yummy and that's what matters most.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pin-tocity and Pin-cess

Pin-troctiy:  Trying an idea you saw on Pintrest and having it fail in a major way.

Pin-cess: Having a new thing you try based on Pintrest and it turns out a major success.

In this post I'll show you that I've experienced both. But first a little laugh to help demonstrate what a pin-trocity really looks like.

So I've been seeing this thing where you use permanent sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol to create a tye-die effect on a t-shirt.  Here are the two examples I kept seeing, followed by my pin-trocity:


Let's just say it's not fail proof!

I took an old hand me down blueish grey shirt of Hailey's to give this a try.  My colors weren't really bleeding the way in the pictures.  Maybe it was because I used 70% instead of 91% alochol.  Maybe because the fabric wasn't staying stretched tight enough over the flimsy plastic cup.  Maybe I doused it with too much alcohol too quickly instead of drop by drop in the center.  Whatever the reason I soon abandoned it as a lost cause and just went crazy drawing "fireworks" on it in sharpie and squeezing it all together so that the alcohol that was already on it could help "spread" the design.  I hate it.  But I think I learned enough from this flop to give it another go some time in the future.  We'll see.

Here is the pin-cess I made a few weeks back: layering cookie dough, Reece's PB cups or Oreos, and topping it with brownie batter to make one delicious dessert.  Here's a peek mid layering of both:

 I baked them in cupcake liners for easier removal from the pan.  I think they took about 18-20 minutes to bake at 350 degrees.  While they both turned out good, I REALLY loved the Reece's one.  For added indulgence to help celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday we then topped them with ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauces and a sprinkle of toffee peices.  Here is the final yumminess.

Great.  Now I really want to eat these again.  I think I see them in my near future.

Freezer Chili

I've been seeing a lot of pintrest interest in both freezer cooking and crock pot recipes lately so I decided to rework one of my meat and veggie chili recipes to accommodate both.  The thing that makes it so cool is that you prep once and get three meals out of it, one to cook and enjoy that day and two to freeze for easy tasty future meals. Here's my recipe (I tripped it!):

I write the directions on the bags of chopped veggies before I throw them in the freezer so that I know what to add and how long to cook it.   Also this is pretty mild (so that my 2 year old will still eat it) but if you like spicy add more chili powder.  I usually sprinkle more in my bowl at the end to accommodate my spicy taste.  Here's what you need for one meal:

I like a mix of bean types, just use your favorite or whatever you have on hand.  Also, since mine was made with ground beef this time I used beef broth, but I like it with ground turkey and chicken broth too!  Here's it all served up and ready to eat:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Art Display

I'm a firm believer that kids should do hands on art projects starting at an early age.  There is a sense of wonder and excitement when toddlers and preschoolers are given the freedom to experiment with colors or textures.  Paint, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, glitter, stickers, ribbons.  The possibilities are limitless.  So is the mess.  But there is learning going on with all that experimenting, and overall a sense of joy and happiness that far out shadows the mess in my book.  My little Miss H has always loved art time. Given the opportunity to choose an art project her favorite has always been painting, and while she know how to use the brush she will still happily ditch it to get her fingers in on the action and feel the colors slip and slide along her paper and she mixes the colors and comes up with a new masterpiece.  She has so much pride in her creations and loves sharing it with others.  Isn't that what art is really all about? Loving what you do and the joy of sharing it with others? 

Well, a few months ago my husband moved offices at work and ended up being able to enjoy the large black and white picture of a wave in the new office that had served as the art piece over our kitchen table.  Finding ourselves in need of new art, I turned to our little Picasso in training.  I also wanted to capture the process of the painting, snapping pictures of the little artist at work.

I bought the frames from IKEA, $10 each for the two side ones and $15 each for the ones with the paintings in them.  So for $50 and a lot of fun for my little one I have a bright and cheery display.  Of coarse, you can always use frames you already have around the house, or cheap ones at garage sales. You can even exchange new paintings and masterpieces in the frames to coordinate with seasons, holidays, etc.

Monday, August 20, 2012


If you've never made jam before let me state that it's a long and messy process!

Thanks to a donation to our church, I was blessed with 4 boxes of fresh fruit, pears and nectarines.  We gave away one box to friends, family, and neighbors. I dehydrated close to one box worth of fruit, and went to town making pear sauce and raspberry nectarine jam with the other two. (The tomatoes in the picture were donated too and turned into awesome chili.)

 There are a lot of sites with detailed descriptions of how to make jam and fruit sauces online...it's how I learned about 5 years ago!  I'll just give you an overview of the process.  I love the pick your own site to find farms near you to pick all kinds of fruit to turn into home-made goodness.  They even recipes and how to's.  I used them as a reference guide when creating my recipes too. 

Step One:   Wash all jars, lids, and rings.  Place in pots of boiling water to sterilize (10 minutes or longer.  I usually sterilize the jars early, then return the water to a boil right before filling when I have to peel and prepare fruit like this jam recipe.)  I use half pint sized jars for jam.

 Step Two:  Wash and peel fruit.

(Trick to peeling pitted fruits is to boil them for about 2 minutes then quickly cool them in an ice bath.  The peels will slide off much easier but you want to make sure not to cook the fruit too much or it will turn mushy.)

Step Three:  Dice and slightly mash the fruit. (Tip:  It takes about twice the amount of cups of raw, unprepared, whole fruit to make the desired amount of pealed and mashed fruit for jam.)

Step Four:  Dissolve pectin in water, then add it and lemon juice to mashed fruit in a large pot.  Bring fruit mixture up to a full boil for about a minute on high heat.   ( I try to use no-sugar pectin but this time i couldn't find enough so I used one box of no-sugar and a half box of regular pectin. If you use only regular pectin you will need to increase the sugar in this recipe to 8 cups instead of six.  Also, this picture shows the fruit before reaching a boil.)

Step Five:  Mix in sugar and return to a full boil for about 2-3 minutes.  (Since I use the no-sugar pectin I mix half sugar and half splenda to cut down on the amount of sugar in the jam.  The insert in the no-sugar pectin will tell you lots of options to sweeten your jam if you need less sugar.)

Step Six:  Take jars out of boiling water using tongs, fill jars full of jam leaving about 1/4 inch space on top, and cap with a sterilized lid and ring. 

Step Seven:  Process jars of jam by boiling it in a water bath for 10 minutes (Longer if you're not at sea level.  The pectin insert will tell you how long depending on your altitude.)

Step Eight:  Remove from water bath, place on counter and let rest until cooled (overnight). Verifying that the lids are vacuum sealed by pressing in the center with your finger. If it pops up and down (making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away you can still use it.  Sealed jars last 12 months (or more) stored.  

Step One:   Wash all jars, lids, and rings.  Place in pots of boiling water to sterilize (10 minutes or longer.)  I use pint sized jars for pear sauce.

Step Two:  Wash, core, and chop pears into cubes. Place in pot with orange juice and water (the citric acid in the juice prevents too much browning).  Side note: I leave the skins on because of laziness...I mean added nutrients.  You can always peel them if you prefer a smoother pear sauce but my family is cool with "Homestyle".

Step Three:  Bring to a boil and simmer pears (covered except for picture) for 20-30 minutes until pears are tender.

Step Four:  Puree pears and liquid in batches.  I pulse it a few times until broken up but not liquified.  This step determines your consistency for the final product!

Step Five:  Return to pot, add sugar and spices, and return to simmer.

Step Six:  Take jars out of boiling water using tongs, fill jars full of pear sauce leaving about 1/4 inch space on top, and cap with a sterilized lid and ring. 

Step Seven:  Process jars of pear sauce by boiling it in a water bath for 10 minutes.

 Step Eight:  Remove from water bath, place on counter and let rest until cooled (overnight).  Or you can ladle some into a bowl, cool slightly and enjoy it while still warm and no need to process it.  Again, verifying that all the jars are vacuum sealed by pressing in the center with your finger.  I've never had a problem with jars not sealing because I'm pouring boiling hot jam/sauce into a jar that just came out of boiling hot water.  They can be stored for 12 months (or more). 

You could of coarse replace peaches for the nectarines or apples for the pears, depending on what you have available. All in all I made two batches of jam for a total of 21 jars (8 oz each), and four batches of pear-sauce for 28 jars full (16 oz each).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Sissy!

Three weeks back was my older sister's birthday.  Our family usually gets together for Family Dinner at my mom's house on Sundays, so for that week's dessert I made sis a very rich and moist Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.  Can you say yum? Here is Little Miss H taking a look at the finished cake: 

 Little Miss H helped me to make the cake.  She started helping me in the kitchen more and more just after her 2nd birthday and has been asking me to make a cake at least twice a week lately.  She helps herself to my baking cupboard and will bring out mixes, canisters of sugar and flour and bags of chocolate chips if I'm not watching her.  One of these days she's going to just go to town "making" something herself, but as of now she'll just hand me random ingredients and ask to bake.  She's very good at pouring in ingredients, stirring and ever eager to help crack the eggs.  I love that she is learning to enjoy one of my passions. 

So for this cake we started with a box of white cake mix (since it's what we had on hand), added cocoa powder and the secret to moistness- a box of chocolate pudding. We had to add a little extra water since it was so thick.  The frosting recipe I found on Pintrest:  Martha Stewart's Chocolate Frosting.

Everyone agreed that the cake was delicious, but I'm not so sure about having cream cheese in the chocolate frosting. I'd give the cake 5 stars, but the frosting was more like 4 stars.  Little Miss H and her cousin E look like they enjoyed it though, don't you think?