Valentine’s Day

I know this post is waaay last season but hey, there’s always next year right? This past Valentine’s Day my boyfriend and I were doing long distance. I wanted to do something that was cute, fun and relatively easy to ship.

These customizable sweetheart cookies were just what I was looking for. I personally find regular sugar cookies to be boring and funfetti is my absolute favorite. Luckily I was able to find this recipe to make cake mix into shape cookie dough. I followed this wonderful royal icing guide, and employed the help of my bake savvy roomie.

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The only downside to these cookies is they were a multi-step process and ended up taking me several hours to finish. However I did enjoy getting to think of classic, funny, and personal cookie sayings.

Classic

Classic

Personalized

Personalized

Once I finished making the cookies, I packaged them up all cute in this little paint can like container, added a ribbon and headed to the post office.

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I also made this super cute card. All it took was:
Black Card-stock
Red Card-stock
adhesive
Cuttlebug with Disney cartridges
and obviously loving words

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The boyfriend loved the cookies and appreciated the card. So I’d have to say this was a pretty successful Valentine’s Day. ­čÖé

Wonton Paper Madness!!!

This summer I finally got to try my hand at making different wonton type finger foods. Two of my old roomies came over and we made our entire meal using wonton wrappers and various fillings.

Appetizer Wontons

    Mozzarella Cheese
    Spinach and Cheese

Main Course

    Mix of spinach, carrots, onion and chicken: delicious dipped in soy sauce and siracha sauce.

Dessert

    Chocolate Strawberry
    Chocolate Peanut Butter
    (topped with powdered sugar of course)

These were all absolutely delicious. Our favorite appetizer was the spinach and cheese wontons. The main course was perfect. The desserts were also wonderful, but we were unable to agree upon a favorite.

For the appetizers and the main course we fried them in a pan with just a bit of olive oil. However, for the desserts we dropped them in hot oil and deep fried them. As you can see in the pictures we wrapped some like wontons and some like ravioli. The wrapping shape is really a preference but it was sometimes easier to wrap like a ravioli when you added a little too much stuffing.

Speaking of stuffing when using cheese fill to the brim because the cheese will melt and then they end up seeming a bit empty. All in all I’d say it was an incredibly successful meal.

Ooey Gooey Deliciousness

Next time I think I will try a taco inspired main course with diced apples and cinnamon sugar for dessert.

Leprechauns and Rainbows

Well this is a long overdue post, but hey better late then never right?

My roommate is slightly obsessed with Ireland, so she decided she wanted an Ireland themed party. So we whipped out the Jameson, anything and everything green and some good ol’ Dropkick Murphy jams and had a killer celebration.

Being the shortest person amongst my group of friends I found it absolutely necessary to dress up as a leprechaun.

But the real purpose of this post…our Irish themed birthday desserts! There was both Irish car bomb cupcakes (how cool does that sound?) and of course the Leprechaun ensured that there were rainbow cupcakes!

First: Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

All the Cupcakes


These were good in theory, but seeing as how most of us don’t like whiskey they weren’t that great in practice. However the few people that did like whiskey thoroughly enjoyed them. Now I didn’t make these and have no idea what recipe they used. But basically there is Guinness in the cake mike, Jameson in the ganache filling and Bailey’s in the frosting. The cake and the frosting were delicious, it was the ganache filling that I didn’t like. In fact the Bailey’s frosting was really really good!

Second: Rainbow Cakes
These I did make! I used a box of Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix (because we all know this is the ultimate birthday cake mix).


1. Seperate cake mix into 6 small bowls.
2. Dye each bowl a different color of the rainbow
3. Transfer first color (purple) into a piping bag. Or, if you are cool like me a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off.
4. Pipe some of that color into each cupcake paper. (Start by adding a little and then going back and adding more if you have extra of the color. I found that there was not as much mix of each color as I had anticipated, and therefore some of my cupcakes seem to be missing a layer of the rainbow)
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for all six colors.
6. Bake as directed.
7. Let cool and then Frost! (I frosted mine white and orange in order to complete our cupcake flag, but you could also make the cupcake 5 of the 6 rainbow colors and have the frosting be the final color.)
8. Share and Enjoy!

Beautiful and Delicious

On a Roll

That would be the most delicious pancake ever.

This pancake was beyond fabulous, but really would you expect anything less from a pancake crossed with a cinnamon roll. Needless to say the pancakes were devoured quickly and left us with quite the sugar high. I didn’t really use a recipe. I just kinda went with it after seeing a picture of cinnamon roll looking pancakes on pinterest.

But here’s the jist of it:

Batter: just your standard “just add water” mix

Cinnamon Swirl: melted butter, brown sugar, and LOTS of cinnamon (mess with proportions until you get an easily pourable mixture)

Cream Cheese Drizzle: cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla (a little vanilla goes a long way, you probably don’t need the butter just the cream cheese, I made mine just thin enough to drizzle)

Next time I’m thinking this would be good served as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! Mmmm…

Not Your Standard Dessert

Over the past few weeks I have decided that I should try making all sorts of different enticing recipes from popcorn cakes to green smoothies to black bean pie. But for now let’s concentrate on the desserts and I will fill you in on all the other stuff later.

First I made popcorn cake. For starters we must all understand that I truly love popcorn, it might be a minor addiction. There is no late night snack more satisfying then a nice warm bowl of stove-popped popcorn. Second the roommates and I recently discovered that we had accumulated roughly 3 bags of marshmallows and were getting pretty sick of rice krispie treats, so this popcorn based dessert seemed to be the answer. However we didn’t want a whole cake so we just made a few popcorn cupcakes and subbed chocolate chips in for the m&ms. These were a delicious study snack but should be eaten shortly after being made; they were stale by the next day.

But wait…popcorn balls aren’t enough. I also tried my hand at sweet popcorn. I added brown sugar and cinnamon to my usual canola oil-popcorn kernel mix. I thought I recalled reading recipes that called for a tablespoon or two of sugar to make kettle corn so I added just a little sugar and a little cinnamon. And I am not gonna lie, the final product was wonderful; however it was not actually sweet like the kettle corn I have had so many times at fairs. So after demolishing my bowl of cinnamon sugar popcorn I looked up some kettle corn recipes and found where I went wrong. The recipes all called for 1/3 cup or more of sugar…not a tablespoon. But that’s alright I still enjoyed it and I didn’t consume an outrageous amount of sugar in the process so I’d say that was a win win situation.

Even after the popcorn cupcakes we still had more marshmallows then we knew what to do with. So I set about making baked smores. I started with crushed graham crackers topped with marshmallows and then chocolate chips and baked at 325 for about 10 or 12 minutes (I think…this was a few weeks ago). I probably should have mixed the graham crackers with the chocolate chips so that the chocolate melted into the graham cracker solving two minor problems: 1) not as much loose graham cracker at the bottom of the muffin paper and 2) not so much chocolate stuck to the sides of the muffin paper. These did not quite compete with real campfire roasted s’mores, but they were s’mores nonetheless.

Finally I made this delicious chocolate chip cookie dough dip. This is currently one of my favorite food blogs, the recipes are delicious and I love all the unexpected ingredients like garbanzo beans. I made this dip for a movie night with the bestie. My friend and I thorougly enjoyed this dip with apples for dipping; my sister on the other hand could not get past the texture (it was a bit grainy). I highly suggest putting it in the freezer or fridge for a while before eating because I found it to be much tastier when it was cold. This recipe gives lots of suggestions and alternative to make the dip more your style. For the nut butter I used almond butter, and I used about 1/2 cup of brown sugar as sweetener. We were not able to eat this all in one night (waaay to much dip) so I put the dip into mini muffin tins the next day and made cookie bites; which were just as tasty.

Red Velvet Birthday Celebration


After having a hankering to bake for the last two weeks or so I finally got the opportunity…my best friend’s birthday celebration. I wanted to make something fun and exciting. I knew she was quite the fan of red velvet (mainly due to her unconditional love for cream cheese frosting) and I have always been a bit curious what exactly is Red Velvet? This question has puzzled me for several years now and finally I got the genius idea to use the powers of modern day technology to find the answer. After discovering the secret to red velvet I set out to make some rather large cupcakes.


After reading several recipes I settled on this one. The recipe turned out fabulous…just a little redder then I had imagine…but hey red is a wonderful color. I did not feel like going out and buying buttermilk and had previously heard about making your own buttermilk, this worked wonderfully.

I decided while I was at it I should go ahead and make rich cream cheese frosting as well. This frosting was much cream cheesier then I care for but for the cream cheese lovers this is ideal, and the extra was perfect for dipping strawberries. I put my cake decorating bottles to work and frosted the cupcakes with swirls and dollops to make them fancier. These were definitely a hit. Everyone loved them, especially the birthday girl.

Cupcake Bliss

My Milkshake Brings All The Boys to the Yard

I have the worlds greatest soft spot for ice cream. I could definitely eat a bowl everyday, but I don’t. However a few weeks ago I broke down and decided a milkshake was a necessity. My roommates and I went out and got not one, but TWO cartons of ice cream…because really who can ever settle on just one flavor.

Shakin' It Up

Butterfinger Delicious-ness

I decided to make simple milkshakes, ice cream and milk, nothing complicated and absolutely delicious; mine was butterfinger. I found that in order to get a nice thick milkshake you need quite a bit of ice cream. To top it all off I added chocolate drizzled whipped cream topped with shredded chocolate.
My next ice cream challenge will be to try one of these healthy ice creams…maybe I can eat ice cream everyday.

Kabobs…for Dessert

Who doesn’t like kabobs. They are the perfect mix of various foods that could easily complete a meal. After a day of working the front desk at work I was introduced to a new idea…dessert kabobs. I had never eaten or even heard of such a thing, but it sounded like fun to me. So over my winter break I set out to try my hand at dessert kabobs.

I thought that oreo truffles, brownies, cake balls, chocolate covered strawberries and rice krispies would make a nice well rounded kabob. Well strawberries are out of season and therefore were taken off the menu. Next I decided to skip on the rice krispies as well (next time I will definitely include them). I also thought that I should make some chocolate chip cookies while I was baking, because well why not, they are one of my favorites.

The Fixings

The making of the various desserts went well and I started to assemble…not as easy as I had expected. I decided that I didn’t need five million cake balls so I left half of the cake and decided to add cake chunks to the kabobs. I started assembling and realized that I needed to have a somewhat solid piece at both ends, which lead to adding cookie halfs to the kabobs. Another slight issue was that the brownies were very crumbly (perfect to eat not perfect to stay on a stick) and kept falling off the stick if not added just right.

Final product (minus the cake balls)

However after some careful assembly the kabobs were finished and everyone at work was quite excited to try them. They definitely would not win a prize for looks but they were delicious to eat and unique; so I am satisfied.

Lessons in Making Peppermint Bark

Looking and Tasting Good

So I have currently made three batches of peppermint bark this week. Each batch has been a adventure of its own, here are a few of the things I have learned from the process.

1. The quality of chocolate does make a difference. (as much as I prefer Nestle in cookies, 60% cocoa Ghirardelli is superior for melting)
2. A double boiler works MUCH better then the microwave. (even if it is a makeshift one from two pots)

My double boiler


3. Adding anything to your perfectly melted chocolate will alter its consistency. (ie. water from a too full double boiler and the peppermint extract the recipe calls for will both make the chocolate a bit chunky/thicker then it was)
4. Stir constantly and be patient, the chocolate will burn otherwise. (and you microwave users be extra cautious about under-stirring)
5. Peppermint and Mint extract are different. (do not let the sales associate at the grocery store tell you otherwise, just try a different store)
6. Be careful when crushing your candy canes or peppermint. (of you may end up with a broken ziploc and peppermint pieces all over your kitchen like me)
7. White chocolate does not melt as well as other chocolates, and the peppermint extract should not be added to the whit chocolate. (peppermint makes white chocolate a chunky mess)

Marble Effect: 2nd Batch


8.Spread the white chocolate with care. (it easily melts the chocolate underneath and you may get a more marbled looking bark if not done very carefully)
9. Press the peppermint into the chocolate, and use lots of peppermint. (the back of a spoon works well and a lot of the peppermint falls off when you break the bark.
10. Even if it does not look as you may have hoped, once it is broken it will taste just the same…DELICIOUS!!!

I used this recipe and altered it a little. I used about a half bag of dark chocolate and half a bag of white chocolate chips, and I highly recommend adding the peppermint extract only to the dark chocolate (see #7). Although this took several tried before I was satisfied with the outcome it was a learning experience and fun to make. I would now say that I am on my way to becoming a professional chocolate melter.

Peppermint: The Key Ingredient

My roomate and I decided to kick start our winter break with some baking…so long as it involved some peppermint. Peppermint bark, peppermint gluten free sugar cookies, chocolate chip peppermint cookies and peppermint rice krispies.

The peppermint bark was delicious but I will have to make it again for the regular chocolate to the white chocolate ratio was  bit off. We used this recipe.

For the peppermint gluten free sugar cookies, we used a basic sugar cookie recipe, substituting for gluten free flour and adding crushed candy canes. And for the chocolate chip peppermint cookies we just added crushed peppermint to a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Now…the peppermint rice krispies were my favorite. A few weeks ago we bought peppermint marshmallows for our hot cocoa, then decided they would be the perfect substitution for regular marshmallows in rice krispie treats, and well, we were right. (Although you will need a few more then 40 peppermint marshmallows)

The Final Products