Saturday, April 30, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Notepad and Pen Set...


Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2nd - May 6th and I've got a couple of cute ideas that your kids teacher will love....... trust me, okay. 

The first idea is this notepad and pen set. It's a lot fun and your kids can help you put it all together!

  • 5 x 8 in./ 12.7 x 20.3 cm legal pads
  • Clear re-fillable pens, the larger the better
  • 3-4 Decorative 12 x 12 scrapbooking papers, coordinating solids and prints
  • Themed embellishments and/or stickers
  • Double-sided tape 
  • A paper cutter
Begin by measuring a paper of your choice to fit as the cover of your notepad. Measure an inch longer at the top so it folds over the top of the notepad, covering the binding. Next, place double-sided tape along the entire front and back of the top binding... as shown below:

Place the cover on the front of the notepad and secure it in place, folding the extra inch of paper over the pre-taped binding. Now you can start cutting your coordinating paper and adding your embellishments and/or stickers how you would like.

I chose to cut different sized rectangles in different papers to layer on my cover. I then vertically placed three apple sticker embellishments down the center.

For the pen, unscrew the top and remove the ink stem. Measure and cut coordinating paper to fit in the pen. Using the ink stem as a guide, roll the paper tightly around it. Place both the ink stem and paper back into the pen and screw the top back on. The larger the pen, the easier it is to fit both stem and paper back into the pen.

There you go! A cute, fun, and crafty Teacher Appreciation gift that just screams THANK YOU!!! 

I've got another super Teacher Appreciation idea that I will be posting soon...... stay tuned!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Salsa for Cinco de Mayo...


I heart Mexican food... but I don't heart pinatas. I won't delve into this subject any further... click on the link to read about it if you must...

Anyway, something else I heart... Cinco de Mayo. A celebration of Mexico's defeat over the French Army on May 5, 1862 at The Battle of Puebla...

... just thought I'd throw that historical fact in there.


Another fact...... the amazing food! A subject in which I love to talk about... LOVE!

Where I currently reside, my family and I have yet to find a Mexican restaurant that blows us away. You want SPAM dishes, great Kalua Pork, the best dang shaved ice........ oh, they have all that here.

Mexican food... not so much. But, we haven't given up. We still have a few more restaurants to check out.

So, being half Mexican, and having some pretty tasty family recipes... I've been the main source of Mexican Cuisine in our home.

And by the way, Miklo... from the movie Blood In Blood Out... and I, do not share the same views. I've been very happy being half White and half Mexican... I embrace both races. Just sayin'.

And if you totally didn't get that reference... I apologize........ Vatos Locos, FOREVER!


Don't get me wrong... I enjoy cooking the amazing recipes handed down to me, but it is nice to go out every once in a while and order a delicious meal that is prepared without my having to cook it.

So, the search for a Mexican restaurant continues. As it does, I have a great salsa recipe that I grew up eating. It's a family recipe that each member has added their own flair to. I enjoy keeping it simple with basic Pico de Gallo ingredients.

It's fresh and tastes really good. You should make some.

Dad's Famous Homemade Salsa
  • 4 whole Tomatoes
  • 8 whole Green Onions
  • 1 whole Small White Onion
  • 2 whole Jalapenos, Seeds Fully Or Partially Removed
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce, 15 Oz
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1-½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Garlic Powder
Dice the tomatoes, green onions, onion, and jalapenos. You may choose to leave some of the jalapeno seeds to increase the heat of the salsa. If you like your salsa mild, remove all the seeds. I usually wear gloves when dicing the jalapenos, as they irritate my skin.

Place the diced ingredients into a medium bowl. Add in the tomato sauce and water. Stir to combine. Measure in the salt and the garlic powder and stir. Taste test with tortilla chips and adjust the the seasonings according to taste.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. The salsa may thicken after sitting in the refrigerator. Add a little water if you desire a thinner consistency. This recipe makes about 1.6L or 7 cups of salsa.

It’s great on tacos, carne asada, even grilled chicken. You may choose to add an avocado for more texture and taste.


Printable Recipe here on Tasty Kitchen

I'm linking this post up to Sweet Tooth Friday and I'm Lovin' It.
    Adios Amigos...

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Chocolate Fridge Cake...

    OK... I'm just gonna lay it all out there...... I am super excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding! I will be one of THOSE people who'll stay up and watch the entire event on TV. Of course it helps that I live in a time zone where Wills and Kate's wedding will air around 10pm... a major score for me... no setting my alarm clock so I can get up at the crack of dawn!

    For weeks I've been thinking about posting a recipe in regards to their wedding cake. If you haven't already heard, the main wedding cake is a traditional English Fruit Cake...... um, yeah...... I don't like fruit cake...

    ... at all.

    No need to worry though, Prince William is having a groom's cake. Then I found out it's going to be an unbaked chocolate and McVitie's biscuit cake. Biscuits in England are what we call cookies here in America, by the way.

    Cookies and chocolate, plus it's not baked... oh yeah... I'm lovin' this!

    So, I've done a little research and found that one name this cake goes by is Chocolate Fridge Cake. Jamie OliverNigella Lawson, and the King Arthur Flour blog have recipes for this sort of cake. All the recipes look great. The first two have way too many nuts and fruit in it for my taste, but they are more traditional, which I like. As for the third recipe, it doesn't have the abundance of ingredients, like the first two...... I like that. So, I decided to adapt my cake from all three recipes.

    I must be super lucky people, because I found some McVitie's Rich Tea Biscuits at my local grocery store. They were with the specialty food items such as German and English brands. If you can't find them, they taste almost exactly like an animal cracker. Those could definitely be used instead of the tea biscuits.

    Before I bore you too long with all my research details and all the attempts it took to develop this cake...... not to mention my excitement for The Royal Wedding, I'd better just tell you how to make this oh so yummy cake.

    So, here's an American take on a British dessert...

    Chocolate Fridge Cake
    • 6 oz. Milk Chocolate Chips
    • 6 oz. Dark Chocolate Chips
    • 2 Tablespoons of Butter
    • 1 Tablespoon of Honey
    • 1 Teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
    • 1/2 Pint of Heavy Whipping Cream
    • 12 McVitie's Biscuits, 2 per Ramekin
    • 1/2 Cup of Macadamia Nuts, Divided
    • 3 Tablespoons of Cocoa, for Dusting
    In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, butter, honey, vanilla and cream until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside. In six 7 oz. ramekins, place one biscuit at the bottom of each. Next, divide and sprinkle the macadamia nuts over the biscuits. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the ramekins, dividing evenly. Place one more biscuit on top of the chocolate mixture. Chill the ramekins in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving, dust the tops with cocoa powder. Makes 6 servings.


    Printable Recipe here on Tasty Kitchen

    Now, be sure to make these... get up at the crack of dawn... pop one outta the fridge... and indulge while watching Wills and Kate's happy day!

    Who says you can't start the day off with chocolate!?!

    I"m linking this post up to I'm Lovin' It, Sweet Tooth Friday, and The Royal Wedding Linky Party.

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Fresh Raspberry and Lemon Pie...


    I hope everyone is all geared up and ready for Easter...

    ... we're gettin' there.

    I've got our eggs boiled and ready for coloring and my potatoes cookin' for my potato salad that I'm making for our Easter picnic tomorrow.

    Since we live on an island, I thought it would be a great idea to do something totally out of the ordinary for us and have an Easter picnic on the beach. Usually we stay at home and I prepare a nice brunch or sit down supper for the family.

    ... kinda rebellious.......... I like it!

    I figured, nothing too fussy... just a picnic lunch of ham and cheese on sweet rolls, potato salad, fruit salad, a cooler to pack it all up in, and the beach!

    Something else not-so-fussy...... this super easy, throw together pie...... a great Spring time dessert.

    Whether you do something traditional or totally, crazily out of the ordinary this Easter....... just have fun!

    Aloha and Happy Easter!

    Fresh Raspberry and Lemon Pie
    • 1 package Cream Cheese (8 Oz. Package)
    • 1 package Jell-O Instant Lemon Flavor Pudding And Pie Filling (1 Oz. Sugar Free Or 3.4 Oz. Regular)
    • 1 cup Cold Milk
    • 2 teaspoons Lemon Zest
    • 2 cups Cool Whip - Divided
    • 1 whole Keebler Shortbread Pie Crust (6 Oz. Package)
    • 1 cup Fresh Raspberries
    Beat the cream cheese, dry pudding mix, milk, and lemon zest in a large bowl until well blended. Gently stir in 1 cup of Cool Whip. Spoon into the crust and top with the remaining Cool Whip. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm. Top with the raspberries before serving.

    Presentation tip: you can also pipe your whipped topping on the pie and/or create a berry medley using strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.


    Printable Recipe here on Tasty Kitchen

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Chocolaty Chocolate Frosting...

    Every year my husband requests a traditional Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting for his birthday. Immediately I started looking up Butter Cake recipes... but alas... he wanted the boxed cake mix...

    Oh man, I was so excited to bake a Butter Cake from scratch! Oh well, maybe next time...

    The recipe I had my eye on was one that I found on Tasty Kitchen. Oooohhh, it looked good! I know you're just sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for me to let you in on the recipe...

    ...... am I right?

    OK, well... it's a Kentucky Butter Cake by Laurie @ Simply Scratch and you can find the recipe HERE.

    I did, however, manage to frost his cake with a homemade chocolate frosting. Chocolate frosting has to be my all-time favorite frosting...... besides cream cheese...... and German Chocolate...... and Vanilla Buttercream...

    Alright, alright.... I have many "all-time favorite" frostings.

    So, if you want an oh so chocolaty chocolate frosting... please, please, please... try this one out.

    You'll be lickin' the bowl clean... I guarantee it.

    Chocolaty Chocolate Frosting
    • 1 Box of Powdered Sugar
    • 1 Cup of Cocoa
    • 1 Stick of Salted Butter, Softened
    • 8 Tablespoons of Milk
    • 2 Teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract
    In a medium sized bowl, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together; set aside. Next, in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter for a few seconds. Gradually add the sifted mixture and the milk to combine. Add the vanilla and beat until creamy. This frosting frosts a two layer cake or 24 cupcakes.


    Printable Recipe here on Tasty Kitchen

    This post is linked to: Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin' It and Sweet Tooth Friday

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Birthday Celebration Pail...


    One year for my birthday my mother-in-law ordered, on-line, a birthday cake package that included balloons, party blowers, candles, confetti, and a cake...... of course.

    It was adorable...

    ... and very clever.

    So, I thought it would be super duper simple to create a birthday package similar to the one I received a few birthday's ago.

    Here's what I did:

    My local craft store has these really cute paint pails in three different sizes. Some are solid and some are clear. I decided to go with the gallon sized clear pail. In it I placed homemade brownies, party blowers, confetti, and balloons. I added some grass filler and taped a decorative ribbon around the center of the pail with a cute paper cupcake die cut, that I mounted on green scrap booking paper cut into a circle. I embellished the green backing with a few eight point star die cut pieces... just to make it pop.

    Totally cute... and probably half the price I would have paid to order something similar on-line. Also a bonus... it's personalized by little ol' me.

    I love anything you can change up and add your own touches to. You could easily place these items in a decorative box...... so cute! Change the brownies to cupcakes... or cake pops... I think you get the idea.

    So, the next time you're in need of purchasing a birthday gift... try this idea out!

    You can find the brownie recipe that I used HERE on Tasty Kitchen...... and it's delish!

    This post is linked to Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin' It and:
    Tip Junkie handmade projects

    Until next time...

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Convenience Cupcakes...


    I've been baking...... way too much...... and that's not really the best thing to do when you are trying to shed some pounds.

    I think my neighbors love me, because I'm shoving desserts in their faces. I cannot have these cupcakes in my house. I WILL eat them...... all of them!

    I love pineapple... and mandarin oranges... and whipped cream... and cake. Put them all together and I've got a big problem on my hands. A problem that pretty much goes from my hands to my mouth to my waistline...... fo' shizzle.

    Sorry about that... I get a kick out of talking like Snoop Dogg every now and then.

    Anyway, I like to make cupcakes, but you could make a cake with the recipe. I just like cupcakes...... correction...... I LOVE cupcakes. They're just so cute!

    ... fo' shizzle... sorry again.

    Convenience Cupcakes
    • 1 box (18.25 Oz. Box) Yellow Cake Mix
    • 4 whole Eggs
    • ½ cups Milk
    • 1 can Mandarin Oranges With Juices (11 Oz. Can)
    • 1 carton Whipped Topping, Thawed (7 Or 9 Oz. Container)
    • 1 package Instant Vanilla Pudding (3 Oz. Package)
    • 1 can Crushed Pineapple With Juices (8 OZ. Can)
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

    Mix and beat the cake mix, eggs, milk, and mandarin oranges (with juice) for 4 minutes. Bake in cupcake liners or two 9-inch greased round pans for 20-25 minutes. Once done, let cool completely. Next, beat the remaining ingredients in a mixer for 1 minute and then frost cupcakes. You could also place this as a filling in between layers and on top of the cake. Makes 24 cupcakes or a two layer cake.


    Printable Recipe here on Tasty Kitchen
    (Having problems with the Printer Friendly button)

    This post is linked up to Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin' It and Sweet Tooth Friday.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Turkey and Sun Dried Tomato Meatballs...


    I usually don't cook with ground turkey... I'm a ground beef kind of girl. The last time I made turkey meatballs I put WAY too much salt in them and they were horrible. Yeah, we pretty much spit them out after one bite and into the trash they went. Not my best cooking moment.

    Cooking with ground turkey is a little tricky, for me anyway. You have to make it flavorful and add ingredients that will make it very moist, or it will come out dry... at least that's my experience. Hence, I developed a ground turkey phobia, seriously...... I did.

    Well, I decided to conquer my phobia and this time around, I thought I'd brown the meatballs in olive oil and make a sauce they could bake in. In hopes that they wouldn't dry out. The results......

    ...... it worked!

    I was very pleased when these came out of the oven tasting delish! Most of the recipes I cook are tried and true family recipes...... and now I'm trying to develop my own recipes. It's a lot of fun, but can be a little frustrating at times.

    I was excited to see that this recipe was one of five recipes featured on Tasty Kitchen last Friday...... yay! Thank you Tasty Kitchen!

    One cooking phobia down and...... well, a few more to go.

    Turkey and Sun Dried Tomato Meatballs

    • 1-½ pound Ground Turkey
    • ⅓ cups Italian Style Bread Crumbs
    • ¼ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
    • ½ teaspoons Pepper
    • 1-½ teaspoon Dried Parsley
    • ½ cups Sun Dried Tomatoes In Their Oil, Chopped
    • 1 whole Egg
    • ½ cups Flour (for Dredging)
    • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    • 1 Tablespoon Butter
    • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
    • 1 Tablespoon Flour
    • 2 cups Chicken Stock
    • ½ cups Heavy Cream
    • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
    • ½ cups Sun Dried Tomatoes In Their Oil, Chopped
    • 1-½ teaspoon Salt
    • ½ teaspoons Pepper

    For the meatballs:

    In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, parmesan, pepper, parsley, sun dried tomatoes, and egg. Mix until just combined. Loosely roll into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place in a large baking dish, cover, and chill in the refrigerator to firm up for about an hour.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
    Once firm, dredge the meatballs in the flour. Heat the oil in a large skillet or pan on medium heat and brown the meatballs. Place the browned meatballs in a large baking dish.

    For the sauce:

    Leaving the skillet or pan on the stove, add the butter and oil. Whisk in the flour, combining well. Add the chicken stock and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the the heavy cream. Add the tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Whisk and cook for an additional 2–3 minutes, just enough so the sauce thickens a little. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are done. Makes 16 meatballs. Serve with pasta or on their own with one or two side dishes.


    I'm linking this post up to Mouthwatering Mondays. Head on over to check out all the great links!


    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Project Simplify Week #5 and White Chocolate Macadamia Bars...


    Well, it's the last assignment of Simple Mom's Project Simplify and this time we got to choose which Hot Spot to tackle in our home! I decided that my laundry room needed a serious clean-up.

    When we first moved into our house, I purchased some cute baskets to keep the laundry room in order. Well, stuff just kept piling up and it's become a dumping ground for things that don't really have a place.

    I also bought cheap plastic serving trays and plates to decorate the walls with...... since I HATE doing laundry, I wanted to make this room inviting. I wanted to enjoy going in there and not dread it.

    To attach the trays and plates to the walls, I bought triangular picture hangers and glued them to the back with a glue gun. It brightens up the room and because we live in base housing and can't paint, it's a great alternative to getting some color on the walls.

    Now, on to the before and after pictures... and then a special treat.

    The wash sink area:

    The washer and dryer area:

    The storage area:

    I feel much better now that I've cleared the clutter from my laundry room... I hope you've enjoyed reading about all of my hot messes as I've tackled four out of five Project Simplify tasks. If you missed my past posts you can catch up on them herehere, and here.

    Happy reading... and don't forget to check out my recipe for White Chocolate Macadamia bars. If you love Magic Cookie Bars, you're gonna love these too!

    White Chocolate Macadamia Bars
    • 1 stick Butter
    • 1-½ cup Graham Crackers (crushed)
    • 2 cups White Chocolate Chips
    • 1 cup Shredded Coconut
    • 1-½ cup Macadamia Nuts, Chopped
    • 1 can (14 Oz. Size) Sweetened Condensed Milk
    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (F).

    Place the butter in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish and transfer to the oven so the butter melts. Once melted, carefully remove from the oven and layer the crushed graham crackers, white chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and the macadamia nuts (in that order). Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the layers until they are completely covered.

    Bake for 25–30 minutes or until set. Cool completely and cut into small squares. Makes 30 to 32 bars.



    I'm linking this up to Project Simplify: Week #5 ResultsSweet Tooth Friday, and Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin' It.

    Now go make these bars... immediately!

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Fluffy Cheesecake with Blackberry Lemon Sauce...


    I totally did not participate in Simple Mom's Project Simplify: Week #4. Not because I didn't want to... because my refrigerator and pantry really need a good cleaning!

    It was one of those super busy weeks... really, it was... and that's why, OK.

    I had a PTA fundraiser pick-up that I needed to be at...

    A doctor's appointment...

    And I started back to working out... and when I start exercising after months and months and months of stopping... well, I'm drained... and for a good week at least.

    In between all of that though, I did find the time to go to Target...... I love Target.

    I found the cutest 4 inch springform pans in the Easter section.  You see, cookware for me is like a pair of Louis Vuitton heels for someone with a shoe obsession. I could wander all day in a specialty kitchen store.

    Once I saw these little babies, I knew I had to make cheesecake...... I love cheesecake, maybe even more than I love tuna.

    It's a pretty simple recipe. The only thing baked is the crust... and if you don't want to do that, you can buy the pre-made graham cracker crust...... slacker. Just kidding.

    Anyway, this recipe will make 4, 4 inch cheesecakes or 1, 9 inch cheesecake.

    I even made some Blackberry Lemon Sauce to drizzle on top...... and it was good...... very good.

    Fluffy Cheesecake

    For the crust:
    • 1/2 a Box of Vanilla Wafers
    • 4 Tablespoons of Butter, Melted
    For the filling:
    • 8 OZ Cream Cheese
    • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
    • 1 Teaspoon of Pure Vanilla
    • 1 Cup of Cool Whip
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).

    Crush the wafers and mix them with the butter in a large bowl. Divide the wafer/butter mixture evenly into 4, 4 inch springform pans and press to cover the bottom. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely.

    In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and sugar for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Fold in the cool whip. Divide the filling evenly between the springform pans. With the back of a spoon or a small spatula, press the filling down onto the crust and smooth out. Cover with foil and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Before serving, run a butter knife, gently, along the edge of the springform pan before releasing. Top with berries or with Blackberry Lemon Sauce (recipe below).

    Blackberry Lemon Sauce
    • 12 OZ Blackberries, Rinsed
    • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
    • 1/2 Cup of Water
    • 1 Whole Lemon, Juiced
    In a medium saucepan, reduce all the ingredients on medium/ high heat for 20-30 minutes; stirring occasionally. Once the berries have popped and the sauce has reduced and thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and cool. Pour the sauce into a sieve and with the back of a spoon or spatula, press the berries so that the juices are strained into a small bowl. This should yield 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of sauce. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Drizzle over vanilla ice cream, cheesecake, or pancakes.



    I'm linking this post up to Tasty Tuesday.

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