Category Archives: Recipes

*Update:  apparently I need to google any slang I use, as my original post used a slang for husband that was not on the up and up.  My apologies to anyone who read this and knew what the slang word meant.  It was not my intent to misuse the term AT ALL.*

Today is Tom’s birthday…the day after 9/11, which he is not too happy about.  BUT today was all about him and I enjoyed making a fabulous meal for his birthday dinner.

The meal was courtesy of the blogosphere.  I had a “Dr. Pepper slow-cooker roast beef “ cooking in the crock pot all day, and then turned to some of my other favorite blogs for the sides…creamed corn, and PW’s amazingly creamy mashed potatoes.  It may not look like much, but it was very delicious and I prided myself for taking it a little farther than I usually would.  My only complaint would be that the roast beef cooked a tad too long and wasn’t as tender as I had wanted.  Woops.

And then the pies de resistance:  Cake!!  Tom has been a long-time fan of Nutella since our visit to Hungary almost 4 years ago.  It was a staple in C’s life at the orphanage, as I think it is in many European homes.  It’s gaining ground here, although I just don’t see the purpose of slapping chocolate/hazelnut spread on bread and calling it a sandwich.  I’m a peanut butter girl through and through.

aaaanyway, I looked through my Pinterest boards and found a Nutella cupcake recipe that I had pinned awhile back.  But since I didn’t want to do cupcakes, I modified it to be in a cake form.  And it was awesome!  For Nutella fans (Tom & my friend Erika, in this case), it totally hit the spot.  I found it a bit rich so would probably used a less chocolatey cake next time, but all in all I’m happy that it turned out well for Tom’s special day.

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Chocolate Nutella Cake

For Cake (adapted from “Kevin & Amanda’s” Chocolate Cake):

Ingredients

  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix (or for less richness, a yellow or milk chocolate cake would work well)
  • 1 small pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips (optional, again depending on desired richness)
  • Jar of Nutella for Between cake layers

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together everything except chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into cake pan of choice (I normally use two 9-inch pie pans).
  3. For cooking time, I use the cooking times on the back of the packaged cake box as a guide and usually add 10 mins to whatever it says. Then I do the toothpick check, and if it’s not done, I check on it every 5 mins after that. It usually takes around 45 mins for two, 9-inch pie pans.
  4. For layer cake, level bottom layer & spread healthy dose of Nutella on it (repeat for more than two cake layers).  Cover with top layer and prep for frosting.
For Frosting (adapted from “My Baking Addiction” Nutella Cupcakes):

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
  • 1 13-ounce jar of Nutella
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted (or not, I was lazy and didn’t sift)
  • 6-8 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and Nutella until well combined. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue creaming until well blended. (caveat:  this step produced such a thick frosting, that I added 3 tablespoons of the heavy cream while incorporating the sugar.  Otherwise my stand mixer may have blown up…)
  2. Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons (or remaining quantity) of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 3-5 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  3. Frost cake when cake is completely cooled (I put the cake in the freezer for a couple of hours as it makes it easier to frost.  Crumb-coating before you put it in the freezer is highly recommended if you have the time…and patience).
  4. Garnish with chopped hazelnut & chocolate bar, found in the candy section of your grocery store.

Notes
-This recipe will make enough frosting to generously frost 24 cupcakes or one 9 inch layer cake.
-You can easily adjust the consistency of this recipe by simply adding in more heavy cream or milk.
-Covered and refrigerated frosting can be stored for up to three days. Simply bring it to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. You may need to add a couple of teaspoons of heavy cream or milk to revive the consistency.

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As far as a birthday present, I thought maybe he’d like a Kindle or something since he is such a voracious reader.  But no, when pressed, he said he wants a ham radio antennae…for his truck.  I should have just bought the Kindle without asking…

Yesterday Tom found himself without any inspections (a rarity these days) and proposed an impromptu family day.  Now, I usually plan my days out a bit and I had planned on making a peanut butter pie (for a good reason, which you’ll read about in a moment).  I also needed to clean the house in a desperate way.  But in light of some stuff going on in the blogging world, and some things we’ve been studying in church, I realized that it was most important that I spend the day with my family.  just us.  together.  all day.

We decided to finally take the kids to see the pirate exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.  Something that C has wanted to do for quite awhile now.  So after breakfast at the Egg & I, we headed downtown.  Once there we decided to spring for a membership so that I could take the kids on a regular basis.  They have a cool “T-Rex Encounter” coming next month and I know my kids will love it.  It’s also a good resource in the event I start home-studying C.

We saw the pirate exhibit which, honestly, bored the kids a bit.  The part they liked the most was the life-size mock-up of the Whydah…the ship & pirate crew that this exhibit revolves around.  It was fascinating, but we missed a lot of the displays with the kids getting impatient and C pointing out every exit sign he saw.  Luckily we also bought tickets to the Imax 3-D show, “Under the Sea”.  That was great!  A little politically-charged with global warming rhetoric, but really fun all the same.  The kids loved the 3-D effect and we found them reaching out to touch the sea creatures.  E didn’t keep her glasses on the whole time, though.  She would pull them off when it got a little scary, and then try them on again a few minutes later.  She loved the seals and bubbles at the end though. :)  We also visited the Discovery Zone which is geared for younger kids.  Lots to do and see in there and both kids loved it.

imagine them saying "aaaargh" here...which is what they did.

E makes it pretty clear when she tires of my picture-taking

I SO want to get her going on piano lessons!

excavating a dinosaur bone

All said, it was a long but amazingly wonderful day.

On a much more serious note, this past week a food blogger named Jennifer Perillo suffered an unimaginable loss.  Her young husband Mikey died suddenly of a massive heart attack.  I do not know Jennifer personally, never even have met her.  But when you read people’s blogs a lot, you develop a kinship with them.  So much so that when a tragedy befalls someone who brings you into their life through blogging, you feel for them…you empathize with them.  And sometimes, you realize how blessed you truly are.  Jennifer wrote a blog post about the loss of her husband and the fact that he loved peanut butter cream pie.  She expressed sadness that she had not taken the time to make the pie for him recently, not knowing that he would be taken from her so soon.  And isn’t that the way we all go through life?  Thinking that we will all be here tomorrow?  Even though we are not promised even tonight?

Her post definitely puts things into perspective for me.  How I need to embrace my children even when they are tracking mud over my newly cleaned wood floors.  How I need to say thank you to a husband who works two jobs so that we can be debt-free (and not focus on whiny little me who complains of feeling like a single mom).  I need to treasure every moment, good and bad, because I could be in Jennifer’s shoes someday.  You just never know.

So, in remembrance of Mikey, Jennifer asked the blogging community to make a peanut butter pie and share it with those we love.  This is an opportunity I could not pass up.  Partly for just an excuse to make a pie, but mostly to let my family know that I love and treasure them.  It’s a small thing in the scheme of things, and I pray that I never forget to hug and love on my family…even when it’s “inconvenient”.

My loves. I am so blessed.

Here is my tribute pie…

in memory of Mikey

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Peanut Butter Cream Pie

{Adapted from Jennie’s Kitchen}

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made chocolate cookie crust (Jennie has recipe for home-made crust)
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened @ room Temp.
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powedered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg. Reese’s Minis

Instructions:

  1. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth. Spoon mixture into the bottom of the prepared pie crust. Top with the chopped peanuts. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl (I used my stand mixer for this part). Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
  4. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into pie crust. Refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.
  5. Top with additional chopped peanuts and/or Reeses Mini’s, if desired.

Enjoy!

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{by the way, I just saw an AMAZING tribute video posted online, it is so beautifully done!}

A few noteworthy things took place this week, so I was busy snapping some pictures…

C’s training wheels are off his bike! He hasn’t ridden it much lately so when he started riding it again, we decided it’s now or never. I have to admit, I’m shocked that he picked it up so quickly!

Meanwhile E was trying to corral ants with her arms…

It was also teacher appreciation week this week.  So, for something different I decided to make each of C’s teachers “ice cream sundae cupcakes”.  They were actually really simple and I love how they turned out!

Oh, and remember the bird’s nest in our tree?  Well, the parents are now empty-nesters:

Makes me sad to see them go…and a little jealous too. ;)

 

To celebrate C’s 7th b-day, he invited a few friends from his class to come over. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I quickly found that 5,6,7 year-olds have very strong opinions! It is amazing how 4 of them can quickly exhaust you.  Plus, that day also brought a snow storm…making travel for his friends a little tricky.

Despite that, it was a successful party and C had a wonderful time.  I captured some moments below…

A simple pizza lunch...because kids are picky!

Playing Wii.  Argish didn’t know what to make of these obnoxious creatures…

And of course I had to experiment with a cupcake recipe.  I got the “Hot Chocolate Cupcake” twist from Kevin & Amanda and it was pretty good!  I didn’t have to worry about icing the cupcake and it saved some time…which has been of the essence these last couple of days.

Happy 7th Birthday My Sweet Boy!

A Crafty Soiree for crafts and treats…and tutorials! I’ve had a couple events over the past week that allowed me to use *some* creative energy.  I’m pretty happy with how things turned out so I thought I’d share the tutorials on my blog. Felt Rose Bouquet For a Ladies’ Christmas Dessert function at my church, I made a centerpiece to go on our table, along with a pin as a take-home gift. The centerpiece was essentially a knock-off of the one found at “Creative Jewish Mom“, but with my own touches (like adding leaves).   The roses are the same as the ones I used for my yarn wreatha couple of months back…

 I used a 6″ foam ball for the bouquet (size isn’t clear in the tutorial) and would not recommend going any larger…unless you want to go insane and wipe out the felt in every Michael’s store withing a 25 mile radius.  Making these flowers is a tedious (albeit not hard ) process!  I also chose not to glue the roses to the ball, and instead used long straight pins with a pearl end so that I could re-arrange as necessary (and it was necessary).
 Here is a picture of the pins I made as gifts for the eight ladies at the table
(they matched the bouquet even though they look like different colors in the photographs):
 
Melty Snowman Rice Krispy Treats

For my son’s school Christmas party I put these treats together.  I have seen something similar on other blogs where the snowman was on top of a sugar cookie, but I thought this version would be better for the kids who had gluten allergies (disclaimer: not sure how gluten-free these truly were since I didn’t take the time to research the chocolate I used.  You CAN do it though!)

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Melty Snowman Rice-Krispy Treats

To start, make a single batch of rice krispy treats according to package instructions, and let cool before adding snowmen (yield: 12 treats).
Ingredients:
  • White Candy Melts (one 14oz package makes 16 snowmen)
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Light Cocoa Candy Melts
  • Rolos Candy
  • Candy Corn
Instructions:
  1. For each snowman, you’ll need 6 mini chocolate chips, a light cocoa candy melt, and a Rolo.
  2. To make the nose, cut the orange section from a candy corn, then slice it in half lengthwise. Roll the piece between your fingers to form a carrot shape.
  3. To assemble your snowman, melt the white candy in a bowl according to the package instructions, then scoop a rounded tablespoon onto the *cut* rice krispy treat. With the back of a spoon, smear the candy into a puddle.
  4. Working quickly, stick on the light cocoa candy melt, add a dot of white melted candy, then place the Rolo on top (side-note: if you assemble the hats beforehand, it makes for faster assembly).
  5. Finally, add the candy corn nose and mini chocolate chip eyes and mouth (I used tweezers for accuracy in placement).
  6. Let treats set and enjoy!

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What crafts and special treats are you making this holiday season?

This post has been linked to:

MakingThe Girl CreativeSumo Sweet Stuff