Archive for the ‘from the kitchen’ Category

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Not much crafty going on for this holiday but I did do some baking.

Cupcakes for school parties

I love the red of these cupcakes.

For the cupcake is used a white cake mix and instead of following the instructions on the back I added 1 cup milk, 2 T oil and 2 eggs. I learned this trick (well not the milk part) from my Aunt Lisa. It makes the cake, while still moist and wonderful, a bit denser and less crumbly. I also added an entire 1oz bottle of red food coloring to the mix to get it this red color.

For the frosting I halved this recipe. It still made enough to frost 24 cupcakes. This recipe is still my favorite.

Then I made up a batch of my favorite sugar cookies.

These cookies are oh so yummy and soft and flavorful and pretty much perfect in my book.

I did add about 1/4-1/2 oz red food coloring and decreased the milk a bit. This didn’t change the cookie at all. Also I got a little lazy and added lemon extract instead of the lemon zest and lemon juice. Still perfect.

This is my adjustments to Aunt Lisa’s sugar cookies. (I tell you, this lady knows what happening in the baking department.)

***Update – I left out an ingredient in the original post. All fixed. ***

Sugar Cookies

1/3 cup shortening (I have added only butter with great results as well)

1/2 cup Butter

1 1/3 cup Sugar

2 Eggs

1/2 t Vanilla

1 squeeze of a lemon + the zest from half a lemon

1-2 T milk

1 Cream of Tartar

1/2 t Salt

2-3 cups flour

Mix ingredients in order. Separate into two discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour. Roll out dough no less than 1/4 inch think. I like mine about 3/8 inch or so. Place on cookie sheet and bake.

350 for about 8-10 minutes.

For the glaze I followed this recipe adding lemon as my flavoring. (also subtracting all the fancy decorating. I just dipped mine in the glaze  and put them on the rack to set up.)

All I can say is Yum. If you don’t already have a favorite sugar cookie recipe or if your willing to try a new one, this one is sure to please.

What I love about making both of these is that I was able to do so without any of the last minute cooking (and stress) you deal with when you want something fresh.

I make the cookies and the cupcakes a few days before and just placed them in the freezer. Then on Sunday I frosted the cupcakes and put them right back in the freezer. On Monday I glazed the cookies and let them set up and then put them back in the freezer.

I have found that it is much easier for (my) kids to transport treats to school if they are frozen. I don’t worry so much about them being dropped or shaken this way. Then by afternoon they are all thawed and ready to go at the school party.  Still fresh and soft and yummy without any of the stress.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Rose Cake

I recently discovered a fun blog with a ton of cake ideas.

This past week I gave her rose cake a try. I used two cake mixes (one white, one red velvet) and her best buttercream frosting recipe. I was very happy with the frosting and how easy it was to make the roses. My roses are pretty sloppy since I don’t have a steady hand or much patients with details like this. I get in a rush to finish it. It did still turn out pretty good. I made two cakes and this is the second cake. A bit nicer than the first.

I wanted to try her vertical strip technic with a slight twist giving it a  checkerboard pattern. I did accomplish the desired pattern but the little blocks of cake separated from each other. (the above pic is missing the center tip blocks.)

To make the checkerboard pattern I just cut circles from all four cakes separating the rings and reassembling like in her tutorial but then placed one of the cakes on top of another that has an opposite outer ring color.

Then finished with the simple syrup (my red velvet cake bled) and wrapped it in parchment paper like in the directions. Next time I will fuse the opposite color cakes together like she did in her tutorial in hopes that they don’t fall apart so much.

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Valentine Sweets

For the cookie I used this recipe. They are FANTASTIC! Soft, chewy, and with the double chocolate, oh so yummy. MMMM

For these special Valentines, Thisbe and I dyed a white cake mix red and used my new favorite frosting; a regular butter cream frosting recipe but cooked the butter in a saucepan until it just started to brown then adjusting the sugar as needed. So Good.

To put these together we cut two cupcakes in half, layering them with frosting in a ***(update) half pint sized jar and then dusting the top layer of cake with powdered sugar. Added fabric to the lid and tied on a tag and spoon. Very Cute.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Christmas 2010 – Elving

There have not been many handmade gifts this year, just a few things sent away to our parents. We did however deliver some treats to neighbors earlier this week. There was some yummy Buckeyes made with friends and a delicious cheese ball surrounded by crackers and some summer sausage all wrapped up on a plate. (thanks Annie for the  idea)

I had such a wonderful time making these treats with a friend. They brought back forgotten memories made while living in Ohio. She is originally from Ohio so it was fun to reminisce while dipping and rolling.

You can find a ton of recipes out there on the net but here is what we did.


2 cubes butter – softened

3 cups peanut butter

6 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 pkg semi sweet chocolate chips

2 tsp canola oil

Mix peanut butter, butter and vanilla in mixer until smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar until well mixed and smooth.

Roll into balls and place in freezer for 30 min. (this is very helpful for the dipping part)

When balls are ready, heat up chocolate and oil in double boiler, being careful not let water boil, stirring until smooth. Using a toothpick dip the peanut butter balls into chocolate until bottom and sides are covered and all but a circle on the top is covered. Place on parchment paper and smooth out hole left from toothpick (we didn’t do a very good job with this part) Let rest in fridge for 1/2 and hour and then enjoy.

Back while living in Washington the children had a piano teacher who always served the most delicious cheese ball at piano recitals. During her last recital prior to moving she gave us the recipe. I have since changed it a bit so I’ll share the recipe here. You can find many similar to this by doing a quick search on the net.

Cheeseball (one large or 3 small)

16 oz cream cheese – softened

2 Tbl Mayonnaise

1/4 onion that has been pulsed in the food processor until very small.

1/2 can diced olives

1 1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese – grated

1/4 tsp Garlic Salt

1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

Chopped Pecans

Mix all ingredients except pecans and roll into ball(s)

Roll ball(s) in pecans until covered.

Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.


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No Bake Cookies

No Bake Cookies

These cookies bring back so many memories. Mostly of American Lake. Growing up our family used to go to American Lake to water ski and swim. My mom would often make these cookies for this trip. They were my absolute favorite with her sugar cookies at a close second.

The problem with these cookies is that you have to be very careful when cooking them. You cook them even 30 seconds too long or short and they just aren’t right.  In an attempt to figure out the perfect cooking time I went through three batches. The problem was that my mom didn’t have how long to cook them on the recipe. In a home economics class in middle school we made these and I thought the time was about 2 minutes but every time through the years I’ve tried to make them they always came out gooey. Not that that is a bad thing, but I wanted cookies not something I needed a spoon to eat. I knew that over cooking them was bad since it burns and is not so good to eat. So, anyway, I fooled around with the time and decided that I was wrong in thinking that you only cooked them for 2 minuets but actually they needed to cook for 4.

So here is the recipe. If you try it and have success at 4 minutes let me know, maybe it’s only 4 minutes here in turkey.

No Bake Cookies

3 cups oatmeal

one large scoop peanut butter (about 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup cocoa

Measure out the oatmeal,  peanut butter, vanilla, and set aside. It is important to have these ingredients premeasured because if you don’t your cookies will burn while you do it.

In a medium saucepan bring sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

As soon as you see the first signs of the mixture boiling start your timer. Boil for 4 minutes stirring the whole time. At 4 minutes remove from heat and quickly add premeasured ingredients stirring until combined. Again, quickly scoop out the mixture onto parchment paper . If you move too slow the cookies will harden in the pan and you’ll end up with a pan that is very hard to clean and very few cookies. The bigger the scoop the bigger the cookie. You can place them pretty close together if you want. The cookies will harden has they cool.


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Today we made some yummy caramel/chocolate pops. First we unwrapped some caramel candies placed them on a plate so they were not touching and nuked them for about 20 seconds. Then we rolled them into balls and shoved a stick in them. Some we squished into small cookie cutters.

While the caramel was hardening up I chopped up a 5oz chocolate candy bar and heated it in the microwave just until it started to melt. I stirred and stirred until it all melted. Then the kiddies dipped the caramels into the chocolate. It ended up not being enough to do all the caramels. Next time I’ll get two bars.


Nothing left but the stick and some chocolate on his cheeks.

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