Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Fun

I'm still in the wedding explosion faze in my apartment, and I don't think I'll get to be able to do fall crafts. I'll be sure to fit in what baking I can (bring on the pumpkin), but it may be limited. And, I hear there may be a pumpkin shortage this year in the northeast. Another good reason to live in So Cal! If I had all of the time and space in the world, here are some fall things that I'd love to do. Thank you Pinterest for so many of these ideas.

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes from The Craving Chronicles

Pumpkin cupcakes from Duncan Hines

One thing that we will be doing is pumpkin carving. The hubs carved his first pumpkin  EVER with me a couple years ago. Somehow he went 26 without ever carving his own pumpkin, so now it is a must do for us each year. I'm excited to do something a little fun a different this year.
Fanged Pumpkins from Martha Stewart

Shish-ka-boo Jack o lantern from Disney Family Fun

I have lots of burlap from the wedding, and was looking for some good things to do with it, and I think a burlap wreath, or two, may be the winner. 

Burlap Wreath from Etsy

Crochet Beret with Bow from Creative Yarn

Trick or Treat boxes from Brown Paper Packages via eighteen25

BOO! jars from Uncommon

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baked Devils Food Cake with Angel Frosting

Another hit from the guys at Baked! These great Devil's Food Cake with Angel Frosting are from Baked Explorations, which I have sadly had to recently return to the library. I opted to make these nuggets of goodness in a cupcake form, because that is just cuter. :)

This cake is moist, chocolaty, and just a little dense. The frosting is amazing - it is marshmallow cream. I've made marshmallows plenty of times before (I'll do a post on that in the next week or so), and always wondered how they make the marshmallow cream in the jars. Now I know!

This recipe made 20 or so cupcakes, or the recipe can make a double layer 8 inch cake. The frosting recipe could easily be taken down, I had a bunch of extra frosting, which isn't all that bad since you can eat by the spoonful if needed. :)
For the Devil's Food Cake
1 ounce good quality dark chocolate (60-72%) broken into a few pieces
1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valhrona)
2/3 cup hot coffee
1/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/14 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Angel Frosting
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

Make the Devil's Food Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line the cupcake pan with liners. If you are making a cake, butter two 8 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.

Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot coffee directly over them and whisk until combined.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes (35-40 for cake) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Make the Angel Frosting
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, stir together 1 1/4 cups of the sugar, the corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to medium high, and clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pot. Heat the mixture, without stirring, to almost soft ball stage ( about 235 degrees F) do not let it go above 235 degrees F.

While you wait for the syrup to reach soft ball stage, whip the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form-do not beat beyond this.

As soon as the sugar mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, remove the pan from the heat.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sugar over the soft peaks of the egg whites and turn the mixer to low. Slowly stream in the hot sugar syrup. Once all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to medium high and beat the icing for about 7 minutes until it is thick and shiny. Add the vanilla and beat again for 10 seconds.

I think that this frosting would pipe very well, but it came out very well just swirling it with a knife. It is super shiny. They recommend serving in within 4 hours of making the frosting, but we actually didn't eat ours for a day and half, and the frosting was still yummy, delicious, and still had it's fluff to it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cupcake Crafts

Each year the Girl Scout council I work for hosts an large fundraiser, called Urban Campout. One part of the event is a silent auction that is held, and the team I work on donates a basket to the silent auction. Last year we did a cupcake theme for the basket, and it was a blast to put together. This year, since I was getting married the next day, I opted out of coordinating the basket for our team. :) Here is the cupcake creation we made last year, and a bit about the crafts that I put together for it.

The first thing I put together were these cupcake stands. I'm a believer in presentation of food. When you get that first impression that is looks great, you do into it expecting the best. I am a fan of cake stands (and just got this one that I love, but haven't been able to get it since I still have wedding explosion all over our 400 sq feet of apartment.) When I saw these adorable DIY cupcake stands in Crafts & Things magazine, I knew I had to make them. They are fairly simple and can be decorated up more or coordinated to match a party theme. 

You need:
2 inch pots
3 inch saucers
acrylic paint
one button for each holder
super glue

Start by painting the pots and saucers. Do a double coat to be sure to get it all covered and looking nice.
You are then going to cut a piece of string long enough to attach the button around the pot. I also put a dab of glue behind the button so it was sure to stay in place.
Then glue the saucer to the pot
and you are done! Just place a cupcake in the top for ultra cute presentation!  Be creative with the color combos and buttons. You could also add some rick or ribbon around the saucer.

We were also including sprinkles and cake mixes in the basket, and I wanted to display them in something other than the box or container they cam in, so I did some decorating of jars for them. 
I drew some basic cupcake shapes on white paper for a pattern, and then cut them out of some cute dotted paper.
I then just took some glue and put them on the jars and they were good to go! (and even cuter once they were all full.
And here is our finished product with all kinds of cupcake fun!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Banana Coconut Muffins

In the midst of the wedding mayhem, our bunch of bananas sat on the counter for a week and did not get eaten. So, I decided since there were several of them that I'd make a batch of banana muffins. Ordinarily I'd put chocolate chips in them, but I was fresh out of those.

So, I decided to just go ahead and make plain banana muffins. Then, as I was looking in the cupboard I saw a bag of coconut. I mentioned to the hubs that I wanted to make some banana coconut muffins. I expected him to do the usual, 'eh whatever you want babe.' Instead I got 'wow that sounds really good!' This is a very unusual thing to hear from him, so I jumped on it and started!

I used this recipe from All Recipes for banana muffins, and added in a cup and a half of coconut to it. When these came out, hubs couldn't wait to dig in because they were the perfectly browned and looked great. They tasted as great as they looked. The picture isn't doing it justice, my camera is dead and charging so I used the webcam on the computer to take these pics of these nuggets of yumminess.

Here is the recipe. It's simple and easy, and great. This is for 12 muffins, one of my favorite features in All Recipes is that you can change the servings and it will recalculate the ingredients for you. I went ahead and recalculated to 18 muffins, and it actually made 20.

Banana Coconut Muffins
Makes: 12 muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Stir in coconut. Scoop into muffin pans.
  3. Bake in preheated oven. Bake muffins for 15-20 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Crepe Paper Flowers

One of the bigger projects I had for the wedding was the flowers. After looking at several different options, I decided to make all of my own paper flowers instead of getting real flowers. I picked up this kit to do a little experimenting to see its done and how long this would take me to make all of these.
It actually came with supplies to make some of these flowers, and after trying them out and seeing how they came out I decided to go for it. I ordered more crepe paper sheets and get the wire and LOTS of floral tape and went to town.

These were a little tricky at first, but once I had a system down of cutting and taping it went faster. These were a cut and tape individual petals, and you just have to be okay with your hands being all sticky from that wonderful tape. I was very happy with the result of them, and while they were time consuming they were worth it. Here are some pictures of some of the completed flowers. These aren't the way the final bouquets looked, but a good idea of it. I actually don't have a picture of the final bouquets at the moment, but I'm sure someone has one that I'll get soon enough and can share.

Martha has lots of paper flower tutorials on her website, and my original intention was to just pull her off of there. But, once I saw this kit for $12 with supplies to experiment, I thought it worth it for the testing. And, there were enough types of flowers in there that I didn't need to print and figure out the online ones. 

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Mr & Mrs

We've finally gone and done it! I can't wait to share more pictures of the big day, and all of the prep and crafting pictures leading up to that. Stay tuned, they are on their way!

<3 The Mrs.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stephanie Plum

Ok another book post already, but the Stephanie Plum books are so easy to get through!

I just finished Smokin' Seventeen, and it was great. If you aren't familiar with the Stephanie Plum series you need to get squinted. Yes, they are on book 17, and 18 comes out in just a couple of months, but don't let that scare you. These are fun, quick reads that you'll want to jump to the next one on.

Stephanie is an average girl in Jersey who, for lack of a better job, becomes a bounty hunter. She isn't good at this job, and usually catches the bad guys by sheer luck and coincidence. Her sidekick is Lula, a plus size lady is size 2 spandex and stilettos, who means business. She also has a couple men in her life that she just can't pick from.

This book she is up to her usual antics of cars being destroyed, people out to kill her, and having no luck catching anyone. There are some fun new characters in this one that she has to catch, including a senior citizen who thinks he may be a vampire. Her mom adds to her Morelli/Ranger dilemma by trying to set her up with the former high school football star, and Morelli's grandma Bella is putting the eye, and other of her 'curses' on Stephanie left and right.

If you are already a fan, be sure to pick this one up her back and forth between the men is worth it! If you aren't then go get One for the Money and get reading!

Oh. My. Goodness!! I'm so glad that I have just Googled One for the Money, because I just saw they are making a movie of it that comes out in January! Now, Katherine Heigl is playing Stephanie, which I'm not totally convinced about, but I'm sure a preview will be out soon and we'll see.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I have gotten the chance to make a couple things out of the Baked: Explorations book! The first thing I did was the Jello salad. I wanted something light and fruity, and this seemed like a great combo of salty & sweet without being heavy. It turned out very well and everyone enjoyed it!

It is a three layer jello salad, with a pretzel crust, a cream cheese layer, and then the jello with fruit on top. It was pretty simple and would be a great picnic or potluck item. In the picture in the book they made nice slices of this, we opted to do scoops since the crust wasn't holding together. (probably because I didn't have enough butter to get it all stuck to itself)

Here it is
Jell-o layer:
1 (6-ounce) package strawberry Jell-O
2 cups fresh strawberries (about 14-ounces), sliced

Pretzel Crust:
8 ounces salty pretzels (about 4 cups)
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

Cream Cheese Layer:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
¾ cup heavy cream

Jello layer: Make the Jell-O according to package directions. Stir in strawberries and refrigerate until partially set. Make other parts of recipe while this sets. *The book says it should be partially set in 5 min-1 hour. I did not find that this was the case, it took a couple hours for mine partially set. That could be because I had it in the front in a deep dish and kept opening to see if it was ready though... :)

Pretzel crust: Heat oven to 350. Butter or spray sides & bottom of a 9x13 pan . Crush up the pretzels. I used the tried and true put them in a bag and bang on them really hard, but you could always use a food processor if you wanted to. You just want to have chunks, so don't grind them into a powder. 

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and remove from heat. Stir in pretzel pieces until combined and put into prepped pan. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, but not up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes, then let it cool completely. 

Cream cheese layer: Put cream cheese and sugar in goal and beat on medium until well combined.

In a another bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Using rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese.

Assembly: Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled crust. Chill for 5 minutes in the fridge. Pour almost set Jell-O over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate the dessert for about 2 hours, or until set.

Who needs power?

This is what we are suppose to see when we look out the front of our apartment complex
Well, almost, I live on the other side of the buildings, but you get the idea...
Last night this is what it looked like from my place.
No power across San Diego county yesterday, starting about 3:40. The lights here are from the cars on the freeway. After making it home, the hubby to be and I decided to take a nap and see if everything came back on quickly. When I got up an hour or so later and looked at the news on my phone I realized this was not the case. So, we found the flashlights, grabbed the steaks out of the fridge and headed up to community balcony to BBQ. Some other neighbors had the same idea, so we all sat around and used the BBQs and ate. One of the neighbors even got out some firecrackers to entertain the kids that were out there.

Once it started getting cold, we headed back inside and played some board games and listened to music on the ipod til I fell asleep. About 1:30 there were people in the complex and on the street cheering, which we knew meant power was back on! So, we managed to survive our 10 hours of powerlessness pretty well. Thank goodness for the BBQ, or we would have been eating PB&J and Cheez-It's for dinner. (Not that those aren't wonderful things) It seems that they were able to get power to some people in just a couple hours, and by the early morning power had been restored all over.

Since the initial thought was power might not be back on until mid day today, all the schools were cancelled throughout the county. And, my work got closed for the day. So, I'm starting my vacation time a day early!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I say potato

One of the soon to be hubby's favorite things to eat is rice. He wants to eat it just about every night with dinner, no matter what we are having. Chicken? Rice as a side. Fish? Rice as a side. Steak? Let's have rice with it. To save on trips to the grocery store I buy rice in 25 lb bags at Costco, the small grocery store bags just don't last long enough.

A couple weeks ago I had a bag of white potatoes, and suggested we have those with our pork & veggies for dinner instead of rice. His initial response was no, but I told him I was going to prep them differently and he said he'd try it. This is what I did.
I just sliced the potatoes and wrapped them in aluminum foil with some onions and salt and baked them with the pork in the oven. They came out wonderful. We put a little spray butter on them (If you don't have spray butter, go out and get some, it is awesome) and enjoyed. He has since requested them a couple times, and has even made them himself. They do take a while to bake through, so if whatever you have going in the oven takes less than 40 minutes, just throw these in a little before you do the others.

I'm Down

I've just finished my most recent book and I wanted to share.
Yep, I'm Down. I came across this book as I was doing one of my favorite ways to pass the time...doing a Google image search to find a funny picture to use to reply to an email. I wanted to let whoever it was at the moment know I was on board for whatever shenanigans they were planning, so I did an image search for 'I'm down.' This popped up first, and I promptly used this a reply to the email. I then had to know more about this book.

So, I read the synopsis and immediately reserved it at the library. Well, I got it and held off for a few days before digging in. Once I started, it was a quick finish. Here is the synopsis from the book cover:

Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. "He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol--telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson. You couldn't tell my father he was white. Believe me, I tried," writes Wolff. And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter "down."

Unfortunately, Mishna didn't quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldn't dance, she couldn't sing, she couldn't double Dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team. She was shy, uncool, and painfully white. And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too "black" to fit in with her white classmates.
"I'm Down" is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

I really enjoyed this read. Mishna is able to portray her young life with humor, but able to make you feel like your right there with her in the neighborhood or at school. There were parts where I felt sympathy for her in life, and places where I laughed out loud. (Just wait til you read about her little step brother falling out the back of her dad's van when they hit a pot hole, you'll be laughing hysterically as well.)

Pick it up and try it out, it's a fun, quick read that will make you ponder a bit as well!