Friday, June 29, 2012

Patriotic Stained Glass Jello

I hope you didn’t like I was going to leave you without any 4th of July desserts.  I’m here just in time with an easy, quick, and semi-homemade patriotic treat.  What makes this dessert semi-homemade is that I used store-bought Jello boxes.   Normally I would never buy ready-made products like this, but for this recipe it definitely works best.

To create the Stained Glass effect, all you do is “make” 2 different flavors of Jello – 1 red and 1 blue.  Cut the Jello into small cubes and then add a mixture of sweetened condensed milk and gelatin.  This creates your white color.  After you let it set and chill in the refrigerator, you have a beautiful red, white, and blue worthy of any 4th of July celebration!

I’ll be back Monday with an even easier 4th of July snack :).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cherry Pie

Cherries are finally in season and I’m in love.  They are one of my favorite fruits, but I only get to enjoy them a few months out of the year.  The first time I see them in grocery store I’m completely overjoyed and immediately pick up a bag, no matter the price.  From that point on, we pretty much always have cherries until they go out of season. 

My favorite way to enjoy cherries is the simple, fresh way – eating them straight from the bowl with nothing added to them.  But if I want to do something special with the cherries, I make cherry pie.  

This filling of this pie is very simple.  It’s made up of cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla.  You make the filling on the stove until it turns into a thick, cherry mixture, and then pour in into a homemade crust.  Top the pie with another layer of dough and your done.  Of course you could use store-bought dough to make this pie easier, but a homemade crust adds an extra special touch to this pie.


*This pie would be great to celebrate the 4th of July!  A classic cherry pie to celebrate this special Patriotic day. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Melted Crayon Art Tutorial

Today I have something very different for you.  Instead of sharing a recipe, I'm sharing a tutorial on a recent piece of artwork I made.  You probably don't know that I am very into artwork, especially modern and abstract art.  My husband and I actually collect art from a local artist here in San Diego {Her name is Shalisha Loyd, you can see some of her work here}.  In college is when my passion for art really began.  I decided to minor in Art and was even thinking about double majoring {that didn't happen because I was able to graduate in 3 1/2 years with my current "Teaching" major and I didn't want to stay any longer! haha}.  During my senior year I started painting and creating artwork on my computer.  Ever since then I have created numerous pieces of art that, in different points in time, have been hanging all over our house. 

A few months ago I got the idea that I wanted to create something special for our little baby on the way.  After some brainstorming and research (I love looking at other art for inspiration), I came across this wonderful Crayon Art Tutorial by 52 Kitchen Adventures - I'm sure you might have seen it on Pinterest at some point in time.  I immediately knew I wanted to do this for Ezekiel's future nursery.  It came out better than I could have ever imagined!  I love it and can't wait to tell Ezekiel I made it especially for him :).  

Here is a tutorial so you can create your own piece of Crayon Art.  *And before I start with the tutorial I wanted to let you know that anyone can do this!  Seriously.  No artistic ability required.  Even if you have never attempted any type of craft or piece of art, I have confidence that you can follow these easy steps and create this piece of art on your own!*

You will need:
- Canvas (I wanted to make a statement piece so I used a large 48"x36" Canvas)
- Crayola Crayons (I ended up using about 250 crayons because my canvas was so big)
- Hot Glue Sticks & Hot Glue Gun
- Blow Dryer

Start by picking out the colors of crayons you want to use.  Because this was going in a boys nursery I took out all the pinks and purples.  I also took out the darker, boring colors, such as the blacks, whites, and browns.  I ending up using the crayons in these color schemes - red, orange, yellow, green, blues, and greys.

After you picked out all your colors, begin lining them up in the order you want them to be.  I started by lining them up right below the canvas.  I ended moving them around quite a bit until I liked the order they were in.  Once I had them in the exact order I wanted I transferred the crayons to the very top canvas of the canvas with the crayon head pointing down.

Using a hot glue gun, place a small line of hot glue on the backside of the crayon, from the top of the crayon paper jacket to the bottom.  Try not to get hot glue on the top and bottom of the actual crayon wax.  I wanted "Crayola" to show in front so the backside of the crayon was just the opposite side of the word "Crayola'.  Immediately place the crayon back onto the canvas exactly where it was before.  Remember to place the crayon with the HEAD POINTING DOWN.  Repeat gluing the crayons right next to other (with no space in between) until you a long line of crayons at the very top of the canvas, all the way from left to the right.

Now you will start melting your crayons.  Place the canvas on top of plastic, newspaper, or anything you don't care to get dirty.  While the crayons melt they will splatter around.  Be sure to place the canvas down so the crayons are on top.  Grab your blow dryer and start melting the crayons by placing it about 4-inches away from the crayons.  Move your blow dryer back and forth, up and down, so you melt about 2-3 crayons at a time.  

At first it seems like the crayons will take forever to melt.  And trust me, they kinda do.  But after they start to get really hot they start to melt quickly and run out of the paper jackets pretty fast.  When the crayons melt they will run down the canvas at different speeds, sometimes really fast and sometimes super slow.  Use your blow dryer to help the crayon wax move down the canvas.  This will also allow you to help guide the crayon wax where you want it to go.  

Continue moving all the way across the canvas until almost all of the crayons have melted.  They won't quite melt completely but most of the wax will be gone from inside the crayon jacket.  

I tried to get the crayon wax and far down as possible.  Because of this it took me a really long time to create this piece of artwork.  Getting it ready took about 2 hours.  Then once I started melting the crayons it took about 5 hours.  Depending on how large of a canvas you use and how far down you want your crayon wax to go will dictate on how long it takes you to complete the project.

A couple quick notes before I leave you to go create this on your own:
- Don't try to use generic brand crayons, they won't melt as well.  Some don't even melt at all.
- The crayons dry really fast, so be sure to help guide your crayons down the canvas with your blow dryer right away.  It's a lot harder to go back and re-melt it.
- If you want this art to be shorter and easier, use a smaller canvas and less crayons.
- Patience is the key to this artwork.  You will be standing for a long, long time in front of canvas trying to get the crayons to melt.

Allow the crayons to completely dry before hanging.  Now you can enjoy your beautiful creation!

I hope you enjoyed this little change in pace.  Be back soon with a recipe :).

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blueberry Crumble Pie

It’s official – I’m pregnant.   Well technically I’ve been pregnant for 6 months, but now, I’m really, really, really pregnant.  My belly is just getting so big!  It’s crazy.  And because of this I had to get my first pair of pregnancy jeans!  Eek!  I haven’t even purchased any other real maternity items.  I’ve still been wearing my normal everyday clothes and summer dresses, but it’s starting to get to the point when my tummy is just too big.  It’s making my dresses too short, and it really just doesn’t look right.  So it’s time for me to start moving my way into maternity land.  We’ll see how it goes!

At least I know if it doesn’t go well I can always soothe myself with a large piece of this Blueberry Crumble Pie. 

One of my favorite fruits to bake with are blueberries.  When fresh, they taste perfectly sweet and slightly tangy.  So after picking up a huge basket of them from Costco, I thought the best way to use them was to make a delicious, fresh pie.  I used my favorite pie crust for the base and then topped the sweetened blueberries with a crumble topping.  Easy, quick, and perfect for a summer day.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Favorite Chocolate Cupcake

Everyone needs a good basic chocolate and vanilla cupcake recipe.  I haven’t quite narrowed down my favorite vanilla recipe {I have so many I like!}, but I’ve had my go-to, favorite Chocolate Cupcake recipe for quite some time.  This is the recipe that I use almost every time I make chocolate cupcakes.  I rarely ever use a different chocolate cake recipe, unless I’m trying out a new recipe for fun or want a cake that is more rich and dense.  

This cupcake is the lightest and fluffiest chocolate recipe I’ve ever tried.  It always comes out so moist and perfectly baked.  One of my favorite things about this recipe is the flavor.  It doesn’t have an overwhelming chocolate flavor, so both chocolate lovers and people who don’t really love chocolate will enjoy these cupcakes. 

This is my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe, and I hope it becomes yours too!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Milk Bar Mondays – Birthday Layer Cake

I think it’s no surprise that I love sprinkles.  And not only do I just love sprinkles, I love colors.  Everything from my food photography to my décor in my home is colorful.  So it only makes sense that I would love this Birthday Layer Cake for this week’s Milk Bar Mondays.  A vanilla cake filled with rainbow sprinkles, layered between white frosting and birthday cake crumbs – Now this is my type of dessert. 

This cake was made to taste like the {funfetti} birthday cake you buy from a box, and the stark white frosting you buy in a can.  At first I was a little skeptical that a homemade, from-scratch cake recipe that actually tastes like the box version really does exist.  I already have a couple recipes that are supposed to taste like the funfetti box cake, but they aren’t quite exact.  

I can honestly say that this recipe is the closest to the box cake and canned frosting from the store.  But this cake is even better.  Why?  It’s homemade, from scratch, with no chemicals or preservatives.  But still has the delicious flavor and texture.   

I love all the recipes from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, and many have them been one of my favorite desserts.  But many of them have so many steps and take so long to make, that I don’t see myself coming back to them often.  However, this cake recipe is different.  I will make this birthday cake, with or without sprinkles.  But knowing me, sprinkles will be involved :).

For the recipe, head on over to Audra’s Blog, The Baker Chick.

And don't forget to check out the other girls' versions:
Cassie from Bake Your Day
Meagan from Scarletta Bakes
Nicole from Sweet Peony
Jacqueline from The Dusty Baker
Erin from Big Fat Baker


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Fathers Day!

I'm a very blessed girl.  For many, many, many reasons, but two of the most important being that I have a loving husband and wonderful dad.  And to that I thank God.  Every day.

Fathers Day is important to me, but it doesn't take a special holiday for me to realize how great my dad is.  He has always, and still does, take care of me.  And I have no doubt that he will continue to take care of me, and my family, until the very end.  Dad -- Thank you so much for everything you do.  Happy Fathers Day! 

Now there is a new father in my life, my husband, and I couldn't be more excited.  With our little boy on his way, Steve is celebrating his first Fathers Day.  I have no doubt in my mind that he will be a wonderful father.  I can tell by the way that he takes care of me, how wonderful he will take care of our boy.  He truly does any and every thing to make me happy.  Steve -- Happy 1st Fathers Day!  You are the best husband a girl could ask for.  Your going to be an amazing father. 

*When I went to meet Steve in Kentucky a month ago, he was waiting for me at the airport with a sign - For me and our baby boy in my belly. {Yes, we picked a name!  Ezekiel.  It means Strength of God.}  How cute is he!  Now that's a great husband!

Happy Fathers Day to all the dad's out there!  Have a great weekend :)


Friday, June 15, 2012

Raspberry Hand Pies - Guest Post for Big Fat Baker

I must admit - Sometimes we go to McDonalds and get their vanilla ice cream for dessert.  I know it's not the best for you, and probably isn't the most "natural" ice cream, but it's just so delicious.  And not only does it taste good, it's cheap, easy, and quick.  But, I promise, that's where I draw the line with McDonalds.  I only eat their ice cream, and that's it!  We'll, sorta.  My husband got their Apple Pie recently.  We were on a cross country roadtrip and he was driving hours all day.  His reward was to get an Apple Pie along with his McDonalds ice cream.  And I'm not going to lie to you, he ate the whole thing and loved it!  But I'll tell you this, it wasn't as good as these Raspberry Hand Pies I made the week after :).

Head on over to Big Fat Baker for my Guest Post, and to get the recipe for these cute hand pies!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spinach Walnut Pesto

Lately I haven’t been loving greens.  I used to be all about spinach, kale, asparagus, and more.  But ever since I became pregnant, I have not been the biggest fan of greens.  I eat them here and there, but I don’t like when they overwhelm the meal.  The problem with this is that when you’re pregnant you need your greens more than ever.  Nutrition is super important because everything you eat the baby eats.  And the baby is taking so much of my nutrients I need to make sure I get more than usual.  My solution to this “problem” is to make meals that disguise the greens, such as this Spinach Walnut Pesto.

You would think that Pesto is a dish where the greens really shine, but I think it’s just the opposite.  The combination of nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and oil, blend together with the greens to make a sauce that is balanced and not too overwhelming.  It’s a great way to sneak in those greens!

Traditional Pesto is normally made with Basil and Pine Nuts.  Both of these items can be pretty expensive, especially the pine nuts, so I like to play around with different greens and nuts to make my pesto.  My favorite combination is this Spinach-Walnut, but I have tried it with arugala and almonds, and they have all been delicious.  Just substitute whichever ingredient you have on hand into this recipe and you’ll have a quick, flavorful, pesto in no time!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Waffles

I love thinning the line between breakfast and dessert.  Creating breakfast recipes that are suitable for dessert, and visa versa, is something I really enjoy.  The most expectant breakfast-dessert item is doughnuts.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t have pancakes or waffles for dessert as well.  So, I created Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Waffles for either your breakfast or your dessert.

The base of these waffles is a creamy peanut butter batter.  I folded some chopped   peanut butter cups right into the batter and then baked the waffles in my basic waffle maker.  Some of the chocolate in the peanut butter cups melted while baking, which gave both a peanut butter and chocolate flavor in each bite.  To top off the chocolate flavor, I made a quick chocolate ganache and poured it over the waffles.  And then, of course, finished the waffles with more chopped peanut butter cups.  

These breakfast-dessert waffles are delicious and satisfying in every single way.  They’re chocolaty and sweet, but not too overwhelming for a breakfast item.

To make these waffles in your own home, click here for the recipe.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pregnancy Update - 23 Weeks!

Instead of sharing a recipe with you today, I thought I'd share a update on my pregnancy.  I'm in my 23rd week, which is almost 6 months!  It's crazy how fast time has flied.  Before I knew it, my stomach was growing bigger and bigger every day.  It was probably around my 20th week that my stomach really popped out.  Before that I had a bump, but nothing big enough to tell I was really pregnant.  Now you can definitely tell I'm pregnant {unless I'm wearing a sweatshirt!}.

Thankfully I have had a wonderful pregnancy!  Other than a couple expectant changes, I have felt perfectly normal.  The biggest change for me has been sleeping.  Sleeping is just not comfortable anymore.  I find myself waking up multiple times during the night to turn over to my other side.  The way I make up for that is that I make sure I sleep at least 7 hours a night.  That way I'm rested when I wake up in the morning.  

As far as my diet, I have had no weird pregnancy cravings.  I thought I'd have some type of craving, but I have really haven't craved anything out of the ordinary.  I'm eating pretty healthy, while still enjoying food and not holding back.  I have, of course, gained a good amount of weight, but it's really only showing in my belly {at least that's what people tell me! haha}.  I think it's because I haven't gone crazy with what I eat, and I still workout about 5 days a week.  But I can tell you this, my clothes just does not fit the same anymore.  I can't wear almost 70% of my wardrobe.  And if they do fit, they just aren't comfortable.  So, I pretty much live in a basic tank-top or tee, and my leggings.  I haven't had to get maternity clothes yet, but I'm sure that's coming soon!

That's it for now :).  Thank you so much for letting me share this with you!

Oh, and the picture above is just me on a normal day.  I was going to get all dolled up, with my hair and makeup done and a pretty dress.  But I figured I'd just show you how I am every day - No makeup and a basic white tee.

Be back tomorrow with a great recipe :).

PS - Our little boy was kicking so much while I was writing this.  He must like this blog as much as I do!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Toffee Pops

It’s official.  I’m obsessed with Cookie Dough.  Any dessert I see that involves any bit of raw, safe cookie dough, I’m on it!  Like these, and these – Both from the new Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook by Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil.  I think I’m obsessed with raw Cookie Dough, now more than ever, because I can’t eat cookie dough while pregnant.  Most cookie dough has raw eggs in it and while your pregnant you can’t eat raw eggs.   You can’t even have an over-medium egg.  Your eggs have to be completely cooked.  It’s one of the hardest things to not while pregnant.  Of course I do it, but it’s not easy.  

One of the first cookie dough recipes I tried while pregnant is not from the Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook {but, trust me, I will be baking many, many of those recipes!}, but from this random little recipe booklet my mom found at the grocery store.  

While making these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Toffee Pops I was a little concerned.  The dough wasn’t quite as smooth as I was hoping.  But after some slight tweaks they came out better than I expected.  Imagine your biting into a treat that tastes like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, but with added toffee bits and graham cracker crumbs mixed in.  Yeah, I know what your thinking.  Delicious!  And your right.  One bite and I was convinced.  The sweet toffee enhanced the cookie dough flavor, and the graham cracker added a great crunch.  

These would be a great favor or gift to pass out to friends and family.  And the added lollipop stick definitely ups the cuteness factor.  Enjoy!

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