Kettle Corn

For that post-state fair kettle corn craving… the best part is it’s super cheap, super easy to make AND you can enjoy it more than once a year. 🙂ADSC_6383 copy

1/2 Cup popcorn kernels….ADSC_6374 copy

1/3 Cup sugar…ADSC_6375 copy

1/4 Cup vegetable oil… Mix together and cover….

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Heat over medium heat.  Pick up the kettle and shake every 3 seconds to keep the sugar from burning.

Once the popping slows down, toss in a bowl and add some salt!

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Enjoy!

 

 

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1st Birthday Party – Woodland Theme

I figured I should probably share this before we got to his second birthday. 🙂

Here’s a look at the details of our woodland themed birthday party.  Our budget was tight so we kept in simple.

The Happi Woodland Themed high chair decorations were purchased here on Amazon. The hat was from Party City and the streamers we found to match at Target.  Total for these items was under $15.

Here is a photo of the table.  We did a walking taco buffet to keep with the woodland/campus theme. 🙂
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We made cucumber sandwiches shaped like pine trees.  These were easy to make – We used a Christmas Tree shaped cookie cutter to cut the slices of white sandwich bread and used a recipe from Pintrest.

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The cupcakes were another idea we found on Pintrest.  They were called ‘Reindeer’ but look more like bears to me.  Either way, they fit the woodland theme. 🙂

You can find more details about how to make them here.  We found the eyes premade in the baking section at Target and used chocolate chips for the noses since we already had them.

My only recommendation is to not add the toppings until the day of the party.  The leftover ones ended up having soggy pretzels the next day.

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To hold the bags of Doritos for the walking Tacos, I used this picnic basket that we already had which I originally found at Goodwill.  It worked perfectly and we even added a little woodland friend that we already had from his nursery.

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We found several ideas for s’mores themed treats but this was by far the easiest to make – it was chocolate Teddy Grahams, Mini Marshmallows and Golden Grahams cereal.

Once again, this is another thing that you will not want to mix together until the day of the party.  The next day the marshmellows were hard and the cereal was soggy.

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These Maple Leaf cookies were found at Trader Joes.  They were cute, they fix the theme and no prep work needed!

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We also purchased Apple Cider from Trader Joes and the paper straws were from Target.  We purchased the orange ones on clearance from Halloween and the blue ones were left over from his baby shower. They sell them year round by the party supplies.

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We purchased this banner kit several years ago from ThinkGeek.com and turned around the pink letters to make them white so they matched the theme.

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For his cake to smash, we used some of the cake batter from the cupcakes and made one in a large muffin pan.  This was cut in half to make a mini two layer cake.  The sprinkles and candle we already had.  I cut out a stencil to make a number ‘1’ and laid that on the top while adding the sprinkles.

I like how it turned out and it was quick and easy to make!

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It was a lot of fun to make and now we already have to start thinking about what to do for his second birthday! 🙂

Donut Muffins

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We found this recipe on AllRecipes.com.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/214651/donut-muffins/

What you will need….

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 24 mini-muffin cups.The recipe tells you to grease the pan, not to use cupcake liners.  I would recommend doing it that way as it worked much better on the second batch — we just did it this way because I figured it would be a fun thing for our toddler to do while I was mixing the other ingredients. 🙂ADSC_4129 copy
  2. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the milk, then mix in the baking powder and flour until just combined.
  4. Fill the prepared mini muffin cups about half full.

We didn’t do this part in any sort of order.  He would point to the random open cups and tell me that it needed ‘more’.ADSC_4138 copy

As you can see, we sort of made a mess.  See his reaction?  That was what I was thinking at this point too. 🙂ADSC_4137 copy5. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

We used this time to make some pretend cupcakes. 🙂ADSC_4156 copy.JPG6. While muffins are baking, place 1/4 cup of melted butter in a bowl.

7. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

8. Remove muffins from their cups, dip each muffin in the melted margarine, and roll in the sugar-cinnamon mixture.

8. Let cool and serve.

9. Enjoy!

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Chess Cake

Chess Cake

Also known as ‘Gooey Butter Bars’, these are always a favorite when I make them for our friends.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Stick of Butter (1/2 Cup)
  • 8 oz of Cream Cheese
  • 3 1/2 Cups of Powder Sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix together the Yellow Cake Mix, 1 Egg and 1 Stick of Butter (melted).
  3. Press into a 9×13 pan.
  4. Mix together Cream Cheese with two Eggs and add 3 1/2 cups of Powder Sugar.
  5. Pour mixture over the first layer in the pan.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes.

Enjoy!

No-Bake Granola Bars

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I found this recipe off of Pinterest and was excited to try it.  After trying the KIND brand Maple Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt bars through Birchbox, I have been disappointed to not find this flavor it stores and have been looking for something similar to make myself ever since.  I made a few changes from the original recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds *
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds *
  • 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 3/4 cup rice krispies
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt**
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon**
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • flax seeds to sprinkle on top
*Since the recipe didn’t call for too much of the seeds, I bought a bag with a mix of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and used 1/2 cup

**Next time I make them I plan to use less sea salt and cinnamon or try mixing it into the peanut butter/honey mixture so they mix in better.  These flavors seems a little too strong.

  1. Toss together sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, rice krispies, dates, sea seal and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, mix together peanut butter and honey and microwave for 30 seconds or until warm & gooey.
  3. Line a loaf pan or small 9×9 pan with parchment paper so that the paper also covers the sides as well as the bottom of the pan.
  4. Press the mixture into the pan & top with flax seeds.
  5. Press down with plastic wrap, leave covered and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or over night before eating.
  6. Wrap individual bars in parchment paper & enjoy!

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Ice Cream

The day after we found a cute container for homemade ice cream at Marshalls (which you can also buy on Amazon), I knew we had to try a new recipe.

Cheesecake sounded really good so I found this recipe for Cream Cheese Ice Cream.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • Caramel Topping (Optional)
  • Sea Salt (Optional)

1. Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.

2. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream cheese and vanilla bean paste until cheese is melted.

3. Cool completely (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally.

4. Place plastic wrap directly on mixture (to prevent a film from forming) or store in a sealed tight Tupperware container, and chill 8 to 24 hours.

5. Pour mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (For the Ice Cream maker we had, this took around 25-30 minutes).

6. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze 4 hours before serving.

7. Top with desired toppings — I used caramel & sea salt.

Enjoy!

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Taco Bake + Taco Salad

After looking through about a dozen recipes and trying to decide on a taco bake or a taco salad, I found this recipe for a taco bake and decided to make a combination of the two (sort of).

Ingredients:

-1 lb. hamburger
-1 pkg. taco seasoning
-8 oz. sour cream
-1 pkg. crescent rolls (8)
-(1) 8 oz. can tomato sauce
-1 can diced tomatoes (optional)
-1 c. shredded cheese
-Dorito chips

*Instead of adding diced canned tomatoes to the taco bake, I cut up fresh tomatoes to top it with after it came out of the oven along with onion, lettuce and cheese.

 

Instructions

  1. Brown hamburger and drain.
  2. Add taco seasoning, tomato sauce, tiny bit of water (I used the amount recommended on the taco seasoning), and diced tomatoes (Optional, I left these out) and let simmer.
  3. In a Glass 9 Inch x 13 Dish , press out crescent rolls and roll them to form crust
  4. Layer hamburger mixture, sour cream and then cheese.
  5. Crush about 3/4 of a bag of Doritos and put them on top. *If you happen to be snacking on this ingredient during the first 4 steps, I learned it’s hard to gage what 3/4 of the bag is based on what’s left… 🙂  Once it’s covered with a layer of chips, you know you’re set though.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 min.
  7. Have diced tomatoes, onions, lettuce and shredded cheese available for the topping (this is the ‘taco salad’ part).
  8. Enjoy!

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Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com and knew we had to try it.  I only made a couple changes from the original recipe and it turned out great!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Box (16 oz.) of Lasagna Noodles
  • 10 oz. of cooked Spinach
  • 1 1/2 grilled boneless chicken breasts, diced
  • (2) 16 oz. jars of Alfredo Sauce
  • 4 Cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese *I used 3 1/2 Cups
  • 2 Pints of Ricotta *I used 1 Pint
  • Salt & Pepper to taste *I didn’t add this before baking
  • Diced Tomatoes (optional) – *Not in the original recipe

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. 
  3. In a medium bowl, combine chicken and one jar of Alfredo sauce, stir together. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta and drained, cooked spinach, and stir. ADSC_6610 copy
  4. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, place one layer of lasagna noodles, edges overlapping. Pour chicken and Alfredo sauce mixture over noodle layer and spread evenly. ADSC_6611 copy
  5. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded mozzarella over chicken mixture. Top with another layer of noodles. Spread spinach mixture evenly over noodles. ADSC_6613 copy
  6. Pour 1/2 of the jar of Alfredo sauce over spinach mixture, spread evenly.
  7. Sprinkle another cup of mozzarella over sauce, lay on the final noodle layer and top with remaining 1/2 jar of Alfredo sauce, 2 cups of mozzarella *I used 1 cup instead which was plenty, and salt and pepper to taste. *I did not add the Salt & Pepper before baking and didn’t think it needed it after. ADSC_6616 copy
  8. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until top is brown and bubbly. ADSC_6619 copy

Once it was done baking, we left the option to sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper or diced tomatoes to the top. 

To go with it, I made some garlic toast by lightly buttering a couple pieces of Tuscan Pane bread, sprinkling some Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning Blend (lightly) and some Parmesan Cheese.  This was toasted in the toaster oven until the top of the cheese is golden brown. 

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It turned out great and will definitely be included in our favorite-dinner rotation. 🙂

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Pasta Salad

Here is the recipe for the new pasta salad we tried. The Italian Dressing is made from scratch and that recipe is also listed below.

The pasta salad recipe was found at AllRecipes.com and the italian dressing recipe was found at BrownEyedBaker.com.

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What you will need:

  • 8 ounces of uncooked pasta
  • 1/2 Cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 Onion, finely chopped
  • 5 Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Black Olives, sliced
  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the pasta, and return to a boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool by running cold water over the pasta in a colander set in the sink.
  2. Combine cooked and cooled pasta with the cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, and olives in a large bowl.

Italian Dressing –

What you will need:

  • â…“ cup olive oil
  • 3½ tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Âľ teaspoon salt
  • ÂĽ teaspoon garlic powder

3.  Add all of the ingredients to a salad shaker, mason jar or other container. Close with a tight-fitting lid and shake for about 10 seconds to combine.

4.  Pour 1 cup of the Italian dressing over the salad and stir to combine.

Enjoy!

Checkered Cake

We found this cake pan over two years ago shortly before Christmas on clearance at Walmart. This seemed like the perfect time to give it a try and after my S’more Cookie Fail, I was determined to get this to turn out!  I followed all of the instructions carefully. 🙂

First we mixed two boxes of white cake mix together and followed the normal instructions on the box.  Since we were going to be pouring three different layers in the same pan, they noted to make sure that you were using all of one flavor/brand of cake mix so the colors wouldn’t bleed together.

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We separated part of this out into a different bowl and added blue food coloring.

Next we poured the mix into the greased & floured pans using the divider tool that came with this kit.

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It was important to make sure all three sections were at the same height because the next step was to take the divider out… and cross your fingers.

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I think so far it looked similar to the photo on the box, so we had to be following the instructions well so far!

 

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The other two pans were then filled the same way, only with the blue on the outside and middle instead of the white.  They were then put in the oven following the standard baking times that were on the cake mix box.

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We took them out of the oven and allowed them time to cool for at least two hours before taking them out of the pan.

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After taking them out of the pan, they were flipped over and allowed time to cool a little bit longer.

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All three layers were then stacked together on the plate and it was ready to be frosted!

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By this point it because clear that we would not know if the checked pattern was a success or not until our family was here to watch us cut it the next day.

 

Here is one last photo before the cake was cut:

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The squares look a little more like trapezoids but for the most part I think it turned out ok. 🙂

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