Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Truffula Tree Push Pop Cakes...

 

Are you celebrating National Read Across America Day on March 2nd... or otherwise known as Dr. Seuss's Birthday?

If you are... I have some fun treats for you!

I know that everyone and their mother is making these Truffula Trees for the upcoming Lorax Movie, but I really wanted to make a Lorax themed treat, so I couldn't pass up making these whimsical trees!

I have to say... it's the first time I've made Push Pop Cakes, and while cute, they were a nightmare......

...... at first.

I made sure to puncture styrofoam with the push pop sticks before hand so I could place them right side up after assembling. Okay... easy.

Next, I decided I would push the base up, place a mini-cupcake on, then pipe the frosting, pull the base down a bit, then repeat the process, and pull the base all the way down. Oh man... this was the worst... my push pop stick would come out and the frosting would smear inside the push pop. Let's just say I had a few choice words for these annoying push pop dispensers!

Anyway, I finely came to the conclusion that I better leave the base all the way down, place a cupcake on the base, frost, then repeat.

EUREKA!!!

Why didn't I do this to begin with!?!

I found the Push Pop dispensers at my local craft store, but you can order them at online shops such as Shop Sweet Lulu.

I also used two different kinds of cotton candy... Fluffy Stuff and Tear Jerkers. I just pulled the different colors apart. The Fluffy Stuff was blue, pink, and yellow... while the Tear Jerkers was purple and green.

Anyway, they turned out cute, so I hope I didn't scare you away from trying them. You can also try making the Dr. Seuss Cupcake Toppers I posted about last year.


Truffula Tree Push Pop Cakes


For the Push Pop Cakes:

  • Mini Cupcakes
  • Colored Frosting (I Used Orange) 
  • Push Pop Dispensers
For the Truffula Trees:

  • Various Colors Of Cotton Candy
  • Pepperidge Farm Pirouette Rolled Wafers French Vanilla

Cut the Pirouette Wafers in half with a paring knife and set aside.

Making sure the base of the push pop dispenser is all the way down, place a mini cupcake on it, then pipe frosting from a piping bag onto the top of the mini cupcake. Repeat this process one more time. Place on a styrofoam board that has been pre-poked with holes from the Push Pop dispenser stick. 

Take a previously cut Pirouette Wafer and attach a pouf of cotton candy onto the top with a small amount of frosting. Gently stick the finished tree into the center of the mini cupcake that is at the top of the Push Pop. Serve immediately, as the cotton candy becomes dry and powdery if it sits too long. 

Enjoy!

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

I'm linking this post up to I'm Lovin' It and Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Creamy White Bean Soup...





It's been, what we consider, "chilly" here on island the past few weeks... so needless to say, we've been feeling like we are catching a little cold.

Really... it's still in the 70's and we seem to get sick.

I have absolutely no idea what we are going do do when we move to a new duty station. Anywhere we go we are going to have a major climate shock!

We will literally be bundled up when it hits below 80 degrees... I kid you not.

So, soup was gladly welcomed for dinner.

I have never pureed a soup before... honestly, I was a little scared to blend hot liquids and I haven't wanted to take that extra step and dirty another appliance that would need washing.

Wow... I sound like a scaredy cat and a lazy bum...

Anyway, it was totally worth it. Just be careful when blending hot liquids. You don't want the blender lid on tight. Leave it oh so very slightly ajar.... and pulse quickly, so the liquid doesn't rise and erupt out of the blender. I am totally NOT up for cleaning up soup all over my kitchen counters and cabinets... and I'm willing to guess you are with me on this one!

Head on over to Tidy Mom where I am linking this comforting soup up for SoupaPalooza, which starts tomorrow!

Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAidRed Star Yeast and Le Creuset


Creamy White Bean Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 2 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 3 Cans (15.8 OZ) Great Northern Beans, Rinsed
  • 1 Carton (32 OZ) Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Half & Half
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Once heated, saute the onion, celery, and garlic until softened. Do not brown. Add the seasonings, then gently stir in the beans. Pour in the chicken stalk and bring to a simmer. 

In a blender, add the soup and carefully puree, in batches. Make sure to fill the blender no more than half way and hold the lid slightly ajar, so the heat releases. Pulse the soup on low until it is smooth. Pour the batches into a large bowl, then back into the Dutch oven. Add the half & half, adjust the seasonings, and heat through on low.  Makes 6-8 servings. Serve with a loaf of french bread and/or salad.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roasted Gemstone Potatoes...



Potatoes have to be one of my favorite side dishes. Especially roasted potatoes. Once I saw these beauties in the produce section, I just had to grab them. They were in a bag labeled Gemstone Potatoes.

Brilliant! They definitely looked like little gemstones.

I usually only buy white, Yukon Gold, red, or russet potatoes.

I have never tried purple potatoes... mostly because I've never really seen them in my grocery store.

Look how purty they are...




Am I right?......

....... of course I am.

Definitely purty.... but of course, I think all food looks fabulous.

Purple potatoes are in fact wonderful. They have a starchy, robust flavor. My husband likens them to almost a pumpernickel taste. I think your just going to have to roast them to find out. So, if you see them in the grocery store.... don't shy away, now. I mean it.


Roasted Gemstone Potatoes

  • 1.5 Pounds Gemstone Potatoes (Variety Of Small Red, Purple And White Potatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt, Or To Taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Course Ground Black Pepper, Or To Taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, Roughly Chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F).

Spray a 13 x 9 dish with non-stick spray. Halve or chop the potatoes in thirds so they are roughly the same size and place in the baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt, pepper, and rosemary. Toss to coat. Bake for an hour or until slightly crispy, yet tender. Leave in a little longer if you like your potatoes very crispy. Makes 6-8 servings. 

Enjoy! 




Now go roast some purty potatoes!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Monkey Bread Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting...



You best kick off Fat Tuesday with these muffins, people! I'm completely and totally serious. I really am.

It's all about indulging before the Lenten Season begins on Ash Wednesday.

Yes, I'm telling you to throw all caution to the wind, eat, and be merry...... pretty please.

I guess it's okay if you don't want to go that far... but promise me you will indulge at least a little bit.




Now who doesn't love some buttery, cream cheesy, cinnamony goodness!?!

No one, that's who.

You can also try the King Cake I made last Mardi Gras. It's not a traditional King Cake, but it tastes pretty darn good, so I think you'll like it.

Now... go have some fun this Fat Tuesday......

...... and by fun, I mean eat some yummy goodies! Don't worry about those calories, just do some double time at the gym Wednesday morning. There... problem solved!


Monkey Bread Muffins

  • 3 (16.3 OZ) Tubes Pillsbury Grands 8 Piece Flakey Layers Biscuits
  • 2 Sticks Butter
  • 1-1/2 Cups Cinnamon Sugar*
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 Cup Salted Butter (2 Sticks), Softened
  • 1 Block (8 OZ) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 3 Tablespoons Whole Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Pound Powdered Sugar, Siffted
For the Monkey Bread Muffins:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).

Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners and set a side. Quarter each biscuit and place them in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small heat proof bowl or measuring cup in the microwave, about 45 seconds. Place the cinnamon sugar in a small bowl. 

To begin, roll a biscuit piece into a ball, drench it in the melted butter, then dredge it in the cinnamon sugar to cover completely. Place it into a lined muffin mold. For each lined mold, place four of these completed biscuit pieces. Continue with this process until all the lined muffin molds have four completed biscuit pieces.

Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until the muffins have puffed up and are done. You can test them with a tooth pick to make sure they are no longer gooey. Allow the muffins to cool a few minutes before removing to cooling wracks. Makes 24 muffins.

Cool slightly before dolloping the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting on top or dollop the frosting on right out of the oven. However you'd like.

* Cinnamon Sugar: For every 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon. Stir to combine and store in an airtight container in the pantry. 

For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cream the butter, cheese, milk, and vanilla for a couple of minutes, until fluffy. Add the cinnamon and incorporate. Next, add the sifted powdered sugar and combine well, scrapping down the sides as you go. Dollop over the warm Monkey Bread Muffins or frost completely cooled cupcakes. Frosts 24 muffins or cupcakes. 

Enjoy!   

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mini Popcorn Balls...

 


I always seem to be extremely busy during the Spring months of the year... maybe even more so than the holiday months.

Our PTA Board usually does a fundraiser in March as well as other events the last part of the school year, I've got two birthday parties to plan for in May and June, and to top it off my youngest is making her First Communion in May, so we are busy with that.

Busy, busy, busy.

I know that my girls birthdays aren't for a few more months, but I like to plan in advance. I'm a planner. I'm a list maker. I like to have almost everything done early.

I'm the weirdo who asks her kids what theme party they want as soon as Christmas is over and we're celebrating the New Year.

I gotta order decorations and plan a menu, okay... geesh... don't judge!

Anyway, I love finding easy party treats that take no time to prepare. I've been making these popcorn balls for quite a while now and they are always a big hit. I usually make regular sized ones, but thought it would be fun to change it up a bit and make them mini sized.

I love mixing sprinkles in, but you could totally mix in small candies or nuts. How fun would that be!?!

Want a simple and fun treat for your kiddos next party? Sure you do......


Mini Popcorn Balls
Slightly Adapted from White Chocolate Popcorn Balls by Gale Gand

  • 1 Bag (3.3 OZ) Microwaveable Popcorn
  • 1 Bag (12 OZ) White Chocolate Morsels
  • 1/3 Cup Sprinkles
Using two generous pieces of cling wrap per pan, loosely line mini muffin pans. This will help the popcorn balls from sticking to the pans. Microwave the popcorn according to the directions, usually 2 minutes for a 3.3 ounce bag. Carefully pour the popped popcorn into a large bowl, making sure to discard any kernels that may not have popped. 

Next, melt the white chocolate morsels over a double boiler or in the microwave (in a few 30 second intervals)  and stir until smooth. Pour over the popcorn and coat well. Add the sprinkles and stir to incorporate them into the popcorn mixture. Spoon the popcorn mixture into each mini muffin mold until you've formed a small ball. Once you are done, transfer the pans to the refrigerator to set, about an hour or so. Serve in mini cupcake liners or clear favor bags tied with a decorative ribbon. Makes 42 mini popcorn balls.

Enjoy!





I'm linking this post up to I'm Lovin' It.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guava Pancakes...





I thought I'd try something different with pancakes. By different, I mean using some guava paste as an ingredient.

See... there's this restaurant... it's called Cinnamon's and it's located on the Windward side of the island in Kailua. They have some pretty awesome breakfast items. One of those items is a guava pancake.

Although their pancake is literally to die for, I didn't want to replicate it exactly... just draw some inspiration from it.

And this is what I came up with.... and I'm pretty happy with it.

I have never worked with guava paste before, so I was a little unsure. I really don't know what I was worried about, because there was really nothing to be afraid of. Other than it being a little sticky, it was pretty easy to work with.

I not only used the guava paste as an ingredient in the pancake batter, but also as an ingredient in a sauce that you top the pancakes with.

Guava is pretty sweet, so a huge ginormous dollop of whipped cream balanced the sweetness nicely.

It's always fun, although sometimes worrisome, working with new ingredients.... you never know what you're going to come up with!

I was pleasantly surprised!




Guava Pancakes

For the Guava Sauce:

  • 1 Cup Guava Paste, Cubed
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract 
For the Guava Pancakes:

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Guava Paste, Finely Diced
  • 1 Cup Guava Nectar
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Whole Eggs
For the Sauce:

In a small heavy duty saucepan, heat the cubed guava paste, water, and vanilla on medium/low heat, whisking constantly until the guava paste melts and all the ingredients are combined. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

For the Pancakes:

In a large bowl, sift the flour, powder, soda, and salt. Whisk in the sugar and set aside. In a food processor or blender, add the finely diced guava paste, guava nectar, milk, oil, and eggs. Continuously pulse or blend until well combined, 2-5 minutes. You may still have some guava paste bits in the blended mixture and that is fine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until most of the lumps are out. 

Heat a griddle on low heat. Spray with cooking spray and pour a 3-1/2 to 4 inch round onto the griddle. Flip the pancake when the surface of the pancake becomes somewhat dry and when most of the air bubbles have risen, about 2-1/2 to 4 minutes on each side. Makes 15 or so pancakes. 

To plate, spread butter over the hot pancakes (if desired), then add a dollop of whipped cream and drizzle the prepared Guava Sauce over the pancakes. 

Enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Roasted Asparagus...

 



So, I thought I'd take a break from sugary sweets and post something healthy. Gotta throw it in there every once in awhile, right?

Luckily, I love any roasted vegetable. When in doubt... roast vegetables. You absolutely, positively cannot go wrong. I've become kinda lazy with my vegetable preparation. What I mean by that is, I buy the frozen veggies that you steam in the microwave. I mean, they're still good for you, and there's pretty much no work involved on my part to make them.

Lazy....... and I really don't feel bad about that. Hey, anyway I can cut corners, especially when it comes to making dinner, I'm there.

So, this roasted asparagus recipe, while you don't just throw a bag in the microwave to cook them, it's still hardly any work on my part....... and I totally feel like I'm eating something fancy. Don't ask me why, but for some reason asparagus screams fancy to me.

I only bought one bunch and soon regretted not buying two, so I doubled the recipe for all of you, because you WILL want more than one serving!

Anyway... go roast some veggies... more specifically... some asparagus. Word.



Roasted Asparagus

  • 2 Bunches Asparagus
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt, To Taste
  • Course Black Pepper, To Taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F).

Rinse and dry the asparagus and cut or snap a few inches off the bottoms. Place the asparagus on a large baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Spread the asparagus out in a single layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender, yet still crisp. 

Enjoy! 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine Treats...



While at the craft store a few weeks back I saw these long, slim clear bags. I knew right away that I wanted to incorporate them into a classroom treat for Valentine's Day.

These are pretty thin, so you'll need small candies to fit in them. 

I used M & M's and Sweetheart's candy. If you can find wider bags, candy such as Laffy Taffy would work great! 

I also found adorable Valentine stickers like the cute animal ones above and the flaming heart ones below. I attached the flaming heart stickers to some black card stock and cut them out leaving a border, since the entire baking of the sticker was sticky. I then attached a pop dot to the back to mount it onto the white tag. The animal stickers had a pop dot attached to them, so I just stuck them right on the white tag. 




It did take a little time to fill them with candy, since the clear bags were so narrow, but I love how they turned out! A great thing about these treat bags... they seal shut! Love that! 

Anyway, here's what you'll need to make these super cute goodies...

Valentine Treats
  • 1" x 8" Clear Bags
  • 1-5/8 x 3-1/4 White Craft Tags
  • Various Valentine Stickers (Your Main Sticker), 1 Per Tag
  • Coordinating Ribbon
  • Small Valentine Heart Stickers, 2 Per Tag 
  • Card Stock, Optional
  • Pop Dots, Optional
  • Double Sided Tape
  • Various Valentine Candies, Small Enough To Fit In The Clear Bags

Begin by folding all the white tags in half. Cut your ribbon 3 inches long. String the ribbon through the punched hole in the tag. Using 2 of your small Valentine stickers, seal the ribbon toward the ends, attaching them back to back so they stick together. Place your 1 main Valentine sticker on the tag, just above the punched hole. 

Fill and seal the bags, leaving some space between the candy and the top of the bag. Attach the decorated tags with double sided tape by sandwiching the bag in between the tag. 

You can use the back of the tag to write who the treat is for. 

* You will only need card stock and pop dots if the backing of your stickers are completely sticky. If so, mount them onto the card stock and cut them out, leaving a border. Place the pop dot on the back and mount on the tag, just above the punched hole. 





A perfect Valentine treat for the classroom or as a party favor!

I'm linking this post up to I'm Lovin' It and Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday.
 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine Heart Garland...




You know.... if there's such a thing as re-incarnation, I must have had a previous life as a 19th or early 20th Century British woman.

I kid you not. 

I mean... it totally explains my love of Jane Austen and my love of any British period piece television series or miniseries, such as Downton Abbey and Cranford.

I'm totally obsessed with anything remotely related to Queen Victoria of Great Britain

Sherlock Holmes is my hero. Yeah, he pretty much rocks...... 

Anyway, I also love paper crafts... which I think were pretty popular during that period. I thought I'd make a cute paper heart garland for Valentine's Day. 

Here's what I did...


 

You're going to need three different patterns of 12 x 12 paper (2 pieces for your base and 1 of each for the second and third layer), ribbon, and knitting thread (optional). I found this Martha Stewart knitting yarn at my local craft store and had to buy it. I loved how it sparkled!

You'll also need three heart cookie cutters, all in different sizes. A pencil for tracing, scissors for cutting, a hole punch, and double sided tape.




On the back of the base paper, trace the largest heart cookie cutter. Trace the medium and small heart on the backs of the other papers. Cut them out.




Layer and tape the hearts onto each other. Use the hole punch to punch a hole toward the top of the hearts for hanging.




Cut about 8 or 10 inches of ribbon or knitting thread. Pull it through the hole and tie the hearts onto a longer piece of ribbon.  I knotted the knitting thread onto the longer piece of ribbon and then cut the excess off. I did this so the hearts wouldn't slide around when I went to hang the garland.




Perfect for some Valentine's Day decor!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brownie Petit Fours and The Giveaway Winner...



I love little treats. They are so much fun! So, I decided to make some cute little brownie petit fours.

They are perfect for Valentine's Day! Just how cute are these sprinkles!?!

For the frosting I used my Chocolaty Chocolate Frosting, only I cut the recipe in half, since I only needed a little bit for the petit fours.

These treats would be perfect for a desert bar...... or send them as a secret admirer gift. Either way, people are going to love ya for making them...... seriously, they will.

I bet you're just dying to know who won the Valentine Care Package...... am I right? Okay, here we go!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway, but alas, there can only be one winner! That person is...

Beti... congrats!
... "I don't do anything special on valentine's day :( I'm sorry but I don't have a boyfriend and I always invite my sister and my mom to the movies or something like that, we do have a great time but I will tell you that I could spend that day eating this cake, the combination of brown butter and salt sounds great I'm glad that you came up with this combination"

I'll be contacting you very soon!

Want some Valentine love?!?

...... go make these little treats!


Brownie Petit Fours

  • 1 Box Brownie Mix, Plus Ingredients Listed To Make Brownies
  • 12 Ounces (Weight) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1/2 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream 
  • Chocolate Frosting
  • Various Valentine Sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).

Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper with over hang on two opposite sides for easy removal. Mix and bake the brownies according to the instructions on the back of the box. Once the brownies are done, completely cool them in the pan, then remove and cut into 1-inch squares. 

To make the chocolate ganache, heat the heavy cream just until boiling, in a small heavy duty saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour in the chocolate morsels. Allow them to sit in the heated cream for 2 minutes, then stir until combined and smooth. Allow the chocolate ganache to set up for a few minutes. In the meantime, place parchment paper under cooling racks and arrange the brownies on top of the cooling racks.

Next, spoon the chocolate ganache over the brownies to coat them. Let the excess drip off onto the parchment paper placed under the cooling racks. Allow them to dry for about an hour, then carefully transfer the petit fours to a lined cookie sheet to set in the refrigerator for another hour or so. Using a decorative piping tip of your choice inserted at the end of a piping bag, pipe chocolate frosting on each petit four and top with sprinkles.  Store the petit fours covered in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. Place in candy liners for presentation. Makes 65 brownie petit fours.

Enjoy!

I'm linking this post up to I'm Lovin' It over on Tidy Mom.

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