Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cake Balls

So, I found a new amazing cooking blog called Bakerella. She makes these amazing cake balls. She also makes something called cake pops. Here are some of her fun designs: smiley faces, Hello Kitty, sheep, baby chicks, bunnies, cup cakes, and many more fun cake pops and other recipes. She is really amazing! Go check her out and your dessert world will never be the same!

I'm going to give you some basic instructions, but you have to just go check out Bakerella. Basically, bake a cake, let it cool completely, break it up in a bowl (as pictured below), add about 3/4 of a tub of frosting, mix it together throroughly, form it into balls (I used a mini ice cream scoop and it worked perfectly), place balls on wax paper on a cookie sheet or something, place the tray in the freezer for 5-10 minutes (longer is ok), melt your chocolate or candy coating while the ball is in the freezer, coat cake balls in chocolate and then let those set. ENJOY!

I decided to try them out last weekend and they were amazing and they totally got gobbled up! You can tell Bakerella has made these a ton because hers look so good and mine are a little funny :) They just take a lot of practice so get ready for some more cake ball designs coming up.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fun Chunky Crayons

I got this fun idea from my friend Suzanna! It's a great way to use up all of your old broken and stubby crayons.

First peel all of the paper off of the crayon pieces and then break them up into small pieces.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees and put crayon pieces in the greased muffin cups. Put the tin in the oven and melt crayons for about 7-9 minutes (crayons melt pretty quickly).

Let the wax solidify again and then pop them out of the muffin pan. If the crayon doesn't totally come off your pans when you wash them, just use a little Dissolve-It or a Magic Eraser.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday Morning General Conference Pancakes

I found this recipe on Make and Takes and she calls them Pop Up Pancakes which I think is really cute. They taste a lot like crepes or German Pancakes...

Here's the recipe:

1 cup milk
1 cup flour
6 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
pinch of salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease your muffin tins. For best results, blend all ingredients together in a blender and then pour into the muffin tin cups. If you fill them a little less than half way you should bet 24 pancakes (or 1 9x13 baking pan).

For more detailed instructions and pictures visit Marie's post for Pop Up Pancakes.

I made them this morning before Conference and they were a hit with my husband and my kids. It is so fun to make lots of different creations:

Peaches and Cream

Bananas and Cream

Chocolate Chips and Cream

Homemade Raspberry Jam and Cream

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sweater Vest and Matching Leg Warmers

Ready for a fun project that requires no sewing. My friend Jessica saw this idea on Good Things Utah. Anyway, here's what you do, go through your closet and find an old wool sweater that you don't wear any more...or go to Savers or DI or Good Will and find some wool sweaters. Go home and wash the sweaters in hot water in order to shrink them. Then simply cut off the sleeves. The sweater becomes a sweater vest and the sleeves become the leg warmers or leggings. So, here are the steps:

Step 1: Get a wool sweater.

100% wool is probably the best, but as you can see mine is 98% lambswool, 1% nylon, and 1% lycra spandex.

As you can see, the washing instructions clearly show that you should not wash a wool sweater in hot water. However, since we want it to shrink, go ahead and ignore that. Also, I threw mine in the dryer for a bit after I washed it and that seemed to be fine.

Step 2: Wash your wool sweater in hot water to shrink it and then allow it to dry.

Step 3: Cut off the sleeves at the seams

Step 4: Find a cute little girl to wear it like my neighbor Chadley.

She is about 4 1/2 years old and was the perfect size for my new sweater vest and leg warmers.

So this sweater went from a GAP woman's size S to 4T-5T...pretty awesome huh?

After cutting off the sleeves at the seam you will need to even them up so that they have a straight top. Also, according to Chadley, the wool leg warmers were a little itchy for her so I would recommend having your child wear tights or something like that under the leg warmers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shredded Chicken

So I was going to try canning my own chicken, but the recipe I was planning on using said that I needed a pressure cooker and I only have a water bath canner. Unfortunately, I had already purchased the chicken and had let it thaw. So I decided to just cook it in my crock pot, shred it, and freeze it to be used at a later date.

I cooked it in the crock pot for about 7 or 8 hours with just a little bit of salt and one cup of broth. I checked it periodically throughout and broke it into chunks part way through and then after about 7 hours I shredded it up. After I cooled it down in the fridge I split it up (best to use Freezer Ziploc bags, but I was all out) and froze it. I found out that about 2 cups of boneless chicken is about 1 lb of chicken so I that's how I portioned it out and I had just enough for four pounds of chicken. I can't remember exactly how many boneless skinless chicken breasts I originally put into the crockpot, but if I were to guess I would have to say about 12-14...

Now I have 4 portions of yummy shredded chicken that can be added to many great recipes. Some that come to mind right away are chicken enchiladas, chicken salad, and Hawaiian hay stacks. I purchased the chicken at Costco for $2 a pound (10 lbs. for $20) and I also checked out the price of the Kirkland brand of canned chicken and it was about $11 for about 75 oz. or a little more than 4 1/2 lbs. which comes out to $2.34 per lb. So I'm not saving that much by doing it myself, but still...34 cents a pound can be worth it if you are on a tight budget.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dinner, Dessert, and a Movie

It's Friday night so I thought an appropriate blog would be a stay-at-home date:


Mini-Meatloaves in a Muffin Tin

1 cup bread crumbs (Italian-style seasoned recommended)
1/2 cup milk (skim milk recommended)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup carrot or sweet potato puree
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan or muffin tins with cooking spray. In a large bowl, soak the breadcrumbs in the milk. Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and set it over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 7-10 minutes. Add the celery and cook 3 to 4 minutes longer. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the turkey, Parmesan, carrot puree, ketchup, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Turn the mixture into the loaf pan or muffin tin. Use your thumb or a spoon to make indents in each tin and put a dollop of your favorite BBQ sauce. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Add your favorite cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or so.

I got this recipe from Deceptively Delicious and the muffin tin idea from one of my new favorite blogs...Make and Takes. Here's the link to the recipe.


Root Beer Cookies

Cookie Dough:

1 cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp root beer extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup water (optional-only use if dough is too dry)

Directions: Cream butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the root beer extract. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add a little at a time to the creamed mixture. The dough should be slightly sticky. Chill for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease several baking sheets. Roll into small balls (about 1" diameter). I used a mini-ice cream scoop so that the cookies end up evenly sized. Place them on the pan, leaving a bit of space between the cookies. Gently press the tops of the dough. (If you leave out the water, sometimes the cookies don't spread very much.) Bake for 6-8 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through. Let cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookie Frosting:

1 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp root beer extract
3 Tbsp hot water

Directions: Beat butter on high with an electric mixer until it is fluffy. Add a little powdered sugar and the root beer extract. Beat until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar alternately with a little hot water until a nice spreading consistency has been reached. Frost the cooled cookies and let stand for a few minutes to let the frosting set up. (It should dry a bit on the top.) You can leave out the root beer extract and you'll have a tasty, soft brown sugar cookie.

I also got this recipe from Make and Takes...but the recipe was posted there by a guest blogger, Lindsey from Cafe Johnsonia.

How do you like my little helpers? It was a cold day that day so we just stayed in our PJ's all day and made cookies. My opinion on these cookies is that they are yummy and fun if you are in the mood for something different, but I probably won't make them very often because there are a lot of other cookies that I make that I like to eat much more than these. If I'm going to be eating sugar and butter than I'd rather it be in a chocolate chip cookie, you know what I mean?



I know there's a lot going around about this movie, but I just wanted to put in my two bits. I wrote a post about my experience of seeing the movie for the first two times in one day the evening before opening day. After that I didn't see it for a long time...not until it was in the dollar theater and Brad and I went to see it on a double date in February and I told Brad to go in with low expectations and he enjoyed it. We figured out that part of the reason he liked it more than other guys that we have talked to is because he read the book. So he was more invested in the characters and the storyline and less worried about the acting and special effects. Anyway, as you all know it came out on video last weekend and I bought the special two disc edition at Costco this week. It has lots of fun special features and it's nice to watch it at home where you don't have to deal with a critical audience laughing at the serious parts...that really bugged me the second time I saw it in the theaters. I like the cover picture below because Edward and Bella are smiling and they make them so serious in the movies.

Here are a few links that do a good job talking about this movie:

Hair Issues

Cool Twilight Premiere Party

Good Twilight Review

So, even though some of the acting is a little annoying in this first one I am thinking with a bigger budget and a different director the next one, New Moon, coming out 11-20-09, will be even better and the third and the fourth will hopefully continue to get better and better. Speaking of that, I've heard that the third one, Eclipse, is set to be released summer 2010.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Apple Pie with Crumb Crust

I got this awesome recipe from Whatcha Got Cookin'? which is a fun blog for recipes. Mine ended up a little dark because I forgot to cover it for the last 10 minutes in the oven. Anyway, I love this pie because it's a fun twist on a normal apple pie...which can get a little boring. Plus this was fun to make and easy to decorate and make it look really cute!

Pie Filling:

6 to 8 tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
dash ground nutmeg

If apples lack tartness, sprinkle with about 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Combine sugar, flour, spices, and a dash of salt. Mix with apples. Note: I just used the apple pie filling that I canned last summer.

Pie Crust:

2 1/2-3 cups flour
1 cup shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup cold water

Mix first three ingredients with pastry blender (I use a fork). Beat egg, vinegar, and cold water then mix with first three ingredients. Makes one crust plus some extra (I used the extra to make my little star decorations). Line 9 inch pie plate with pastry crust. Fill with apple mixture.

Crumb Crust:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup firm butter or margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix three ingredients together with a pastry cutter (I just use a fork) until crumbly. Sprinkle over apple mixture in crust. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake in oven at 400 degrees for 50 minutes or until done. Cover pie with aluminum foil the last 10 minutes of baking to avoid crust browning too quickly (I forgot to do this which is why my crust got a little dark).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hawaiian Chicken

6 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
garlic powder
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar (apple)
6 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 can crushed pineapple (with pineapple juice for a more sweeter sauce and without for a less sweet sauce)

Directions: Dip chicken in flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder mixture. Put olive oil in pan then brown chicken and put in a 9x13 inch pan. Combine the remaining ingredients and thicken as needed with cornstarch. Pour over chicken and back at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. Serve over rice or a baked potato.

Note: A great variation on this recipe is to cut the chicken in half and then add some yummy vegetables instead and cook it in with the sauce.

Funny story: Brad grew up eating the rice pictured above, calling it brown rice, and thinking that it was brown grain rice. So, shortly after we were married Brad asked me why I was only making white rice and not brown rice. I grew up on brown rice, but I know that my family is different so I had just assumed that he would prefer white rice. So, I was pleasantly surprised at his request and I went out and got some whole grain rice and served it at dinner soon after that. Needless to say, he was surprised at what he was served and he did not really like it. After a little research with Brad's mother I found out that the "brown rice" Brad grew up on was really just white rice cooked with onion soup mix powder...and that is what is pictured above.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Bean Queen! Ham and 12 Bean Soup

So, unfortunately, I'm not the bean queen...but fortunately, my mother is. All growing up my mother made lots and lots of delicious kinds of beans from Split Pea Soup to Black Beans to Cajun Red Beans and Rice to Ham and 12 Bean Soup.

So, the other day I decided to make her Ham and 12 Bean Soup. Here's the bean making process (and notes and tips from my mom along the way):

Soak the beans in plenty of water for 8-12 hours, usually over night. I say plenty of water because dry beans more than double in size after soaking in water. By the way, there are 12 different kinds of beans in this mix: black, red, split peas, lima, black eyed peas, pinto, white, navy, garbanzo, chick peas...and 2 others. You don't have to worry too much about which beans are in there because you can buy them already in a 12 bean mix.

Rinse beans very thoroughly and then put in a heavy duty pot or a crock pot and cover beans with water. Add seasonings like garlic powder and onion powder and/or actual diced onion and minced garlic.

Bring beans to a boil quickly and then decrease heat, but keep it hot enough that the beans keep boiling. Boil beans for about 4 hours stirring occasionally with a lid on the pot. Test the beans to see if they are soft.

Start to cook uncovered, add ham and ham bone (my favorite time to make this soup is when we have purchased a bone-in spiral cut ham then we eat that for dinner, take off the extra already cut ham for sandwiches, then save the bone and the ham that is still on it to make this soup) and let it simmer for a little while (like an hour maybe). Take out the ham and ham bone. Discard bone and any other undesirable parts. Then break up the good ham into smaller pieces and add it back to the beans. Then add salt and pepper. Continue cooking and allow all of the seasonings to come together and the water to cook off so that the beans thicken.

You never want to add cured ham or salt too early in the process (wait until the beans are soft) because otherwise it will make your beans tough. Also, add water as needed throughout the process so that the beans don't dry up. One great thing about this recipe is it can make a ton of bean soup and it freezes really well which is a nice bonus...food storage!

A final note from my mom: "Jessie hit the 3 keys to good beans right on... but just to reemphasize I'll say: 1) after your beans have soaked overnight, RINSE THEM THOROUGHLY, 2) keep your beans at a ROLLING BOIL until they are soft (this will mean adding water as needed), and 3) don't add salt or tomato products until the beans are soft. Enjoy!"

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Jean Quilt

I started a jean quilt with my cute Beehives (a personal progress project for them) in November and it's finally finished. We all collected jeans for a month and then pooled them together for everyone's individual quilts. I decided to make a queen size quilt because I had a queen size duvet (sp?) cover (the burgundy striped fabric in the picture) that I wasn't using that I knew I could use as fabric for my quilt. Another bonus was that since it was a store bought duvet cover, it also came with pillow cases (pillows pictured above).

I have normal size quilting frames and baby quilt frames (thanks to my sister Jenneka) so I was able to tie my quilt (thanks to my in-laws for letting me use their basement).

What's so great about this blanket is it's thick and warm and durable. Also, it is made almost entirely of recycled materials (meaning old jeans and a duvet cover that I already had that wasn't being used). We are probably going to keep this blanket in our car for road trips, parades, picnics, etc.

Jane enjoying the finished product.

P.S. I'm a Beehive advisor in my ward and the girls are each making their own quilts for a personal progress project...more pictures of their quilts to come. I also have more pictures of the process and the earlier steps of making a jean quilt.