Monday, January 28, 2013

Baking Monday - Girl Scout Cookie Cupcakes

Today's cupcakes inspired by our current Girl Scout cookie sale (and by the fact that I STILL have cookies in the freezer from last year - whoops!) I started with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe (which totally lives up to its name.) This recipe makes 30 cupcakes, filling each cup about 1/2 full. The batter turns out very thin, so it's very easy to put it into a big measuring cup and pour. Don't be tempted to overload the papers, they will overflow and make a giant mess. (Yes, I'm speaking from experience!!)

Half of these were frosted with peanut butter for Tagalong fans and the other half mint for all the Thin Mint lovers. I topped each cupcake with half a cookie. (Warning: the frosting makes the cookies soft, so after awhile, they lose their signature crunch ... but are still yummy.) 

Peanut butter frosting: 1 stick softened butter, 1 c creamy pb, 2 c confectioners' sugar, 4 tbsp of milk (add more if needed until piping/spreading consistency)

Mint frosting: 1 stick softened butter, 1/2 tsp mint extract, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 drop green food coloring, 2 c confectioners' sugar, 4 tbsp of milk (add more if needed until piping/spreading consistency), and cookie crumbs (leftover from cutting cookies in half)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Christmas Ornaments 2012

Two fails and one ornament crafting success this year. The happy project: glitter bulb ornaments! I bought silver bulb ornaments 6 for $1.00 at the craft store, took them apart, and covered each ball with Mod Podge and sprinkled with glitter. (Crafty tip: a row of toothpicks stuck in Playdoh makes an excellent drying rack!) These got packaged in little clear plastic bags and included with our cookie trays. I think I may need to coat more things in glitter, because this was super fun. However ...

 ...glitter glass balls, not so great. I ended up with one keeper, but the other ones were a disaster, they turned out super streaky and clumpy. I've got 11 months to perfect this project for next year!

This was the kids' ornament craft ... not our best. We attempted to make these painted glass balls. It was not very easy nor did we get quite such spectacular results. First, it took a loooong time for the paint to work it's way around the whole surface (turns out, watching paint drip is NOT an exciting activity). Once they were totally coated, it took a LONG time for the paint to dry - like several days - and we had to keep rotating them to keep the paint from pooling in one place. The kids managed to get out just enough to give to godparents - and everyone was dutifully impressed with their work - but it was definitely not our favorite!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grandma Crafts - Winter Trees

Christmas crafts! Yeah, I'm a bit behind on posting pics, but it's definitely still winter, so this is still timely. Similar to the leaf collage we did back in the fall, Grandma and I made winter tree pictures this time around.

Same idea: I painted 9x12 canvases light blue, planned out the tree sizes, printed outlines on the back of scrapbook paper, and cut them out. We decorated with star and snowflake paper punches. Grandma had so much fun with this that my aunt helped her decorate wooden frames for gifts in the same way.

Again, I planned out what size trees to fit in the space and printed them on the back of scrapbook paper.  Grandma stuck decorations to the painted frame with Mod Podge, followed by one more coat over everything to finish it off. These turned out so cute!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Baking Monday - Double Chocolate Cookies

An oldie but a goodie today - double chocolate cookies from my grandma's handwritten recipe. Soft, chocolatey, and delicious!

The snowflakes are just for fun. These are also good with a chocolate glaze.

I maaaay have eaten a lot of these by myself. 

I did not post the recipe last time ... here you go!

Double Chocolate Cookies

• Sift together 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt
• Cream 2/3 cup softened butter with 1 cup sugar
• Add 1 egg, beaten well
• Blend in 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
• Add half of dry ingredients and mix
• Add 1/3 cup milk and 1 tsp vanilla, mix
• Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until dough forms
• Add 1 cup chocolate chips
• Drop 1 tbsp of dough (mini scoop!!) onto baking sheet (if adding sprinkles, do it now!)
• Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Girly Sugar Cookies!

Okay, I know I say that every tray is my favorite, but this one is definitely high on the list. These were for a friend who missed getting cookies for her daughter's birthday, so she decided to order cookies for report card day instead. (Super Mom Award!)

One girl loves frogs, one loves penguins, specifically PINK! I mixed up the animals with sparkly hearts and monograms. LOVE the color palette!

I hope they liked them (and had good report cards!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baking Monday - Cheesecake Cookies

These were happy coincidence cookies - I didn't have a plan in place for Baking Monday and had no eggs in the house. This recipe met my requirements of quick to make AND having all the ingredients on hand (including exactly 3 oz of cream cheese leftover from another baking project). One thing I did not have was Oreos, as suggested in the original recipe, but I've still got lots of (say it with me, now): graham cracker crumbs! Which actually makes these taste more cheesecake like, IMHO, though I probably wouldn't turn down an Oreo coating, either.

Best eaten within a day or two - rich and yummy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Summer 2012

Hey, remember summer? We had one, and we did stuff. Taking a break from the snow this week to remember warmer times. 

Watching the teachers line up to wave goodbye until September.

We built a soda can robot ...

Visited the Story Garden ...

Went to the splash park ...

(Please, submit all complaints in writing.)

Helped Dad finish the treehouse.

Made Origami boats and ...

... had a minifigure regatta.

Bubbles were popped ...

Ice cream was eaten ...

And the big kids learned Backgammon (while Dad and Mom argued about the rules).

We visited a 6-story treehouse, that was built by high school students. ("Showoffs!" says Dad.)

And did lots of Geocaching (with only a handful of successes).

We celebrated the completion of the treehouse (phase 2!)

And some of us got holes punched in our ears.

Spent a day at the lake with cousins and got to go tubing for the first time ...

... and ride a jet ski ("Best day ever!" says Theo).

I went on a spontaneous trip to LA to visit my friend for her 40th birthday. I spent the weekend at her beautiful house and got to spend a whole day doing party prep, including setting up this awesome dessert table ...

... bliss!!

We finished up the summer with a surprise first trip to Great Wolf Lodge (thanks, Dad!)

(That's Mr. Hotcakes. Isn't he cute?)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Christening Day Cookies

Baptism cookies for my cousin's little girl. I've used the dress cutter before for ladies' dresses and wedding gowns, but never christening gowns before. The cutter has a slim waist, I bent it out to get more of a baby-doll shape. I loved the way they turned out, it was so much fun adding all the different details!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Baking Monday – Peanut Squares

My aunt made these at Thanksgiving - they were hands down my favorite of the five-dessert selection. She called them Pay Day Bars, like the candy bar, which I've never had in my life (no chocolate? Why bother?) so I can't compare. But I can say that as a peanut butter lover - these squares are pretty much perfect. 

Um, they also happen to be super easy to make. Good news is they will probably require a trip to the grocery store, so they can't be made /eaten on a whim. Because nutrition-wise, they're pretty evil. Enjoy!