Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fun birthday Craft

Many of my nieces and nephew are at the age where gift buying is HARD, but who doesn't like getting money? My Nephew turned 12 this year, and I decided that I was going to make his gift of Money a little more fun.

I took 25 crisp one dollar bills (straight from the bank) and taped them end to end with cheap tape (cheap so it peeled off easier). Every 5 bills I taped in a note like "Will it never end!?!?!?!". Then I rolled the whole shebang up and put it in a wrapped box with a slit in the top (I used a sudafed box, and I wrapped it first leaving on side open to insert the money into)

My nephew thought this was hilarious! We were cracking up the whole time. It really turned a dull gift into something exciting :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Berry Limeade Cupcakes

On Friday I was considering making cupcakes as an excuse to use these adorable new liners I bought, but I wasn't so sure it'd be a good idea being alone with 2 dozen cupcakes all weekend. Then my Mom called me and asked me to make a dessert for a family gathering on Saturday, perfect timing, and perfect excuse.
So I searched a few of my favorite blogs for a white cupcake (because chocolate would have hidden the designs of my cute liners. Is that superficial of me? Oh well!) and I found these amazing looking Cherry Limeade Cupcakes from Annies Eats. And the best part: I had all of the ingredients on hand except the cherry juice, but I did have frozen berries so that was an easy substitute. Score!

I am very happy with how these came out, I think they're just adorable. And, as a bonus, they were pretty easy (although very messy) to make. A tip, don't fill up the cupcake well 3/4 of the way like you would for a rounder cupcake. You want these to be sort of flat and end below the wrapper so the glaze has somewhere to go.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. limeade concentrate
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk

For the lime syrup:
3/4 cup limeade concentrate
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the frosting:
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 tbsp. (or more) maraschino cherry juice (I used frozen mixed berries, pureed in the mini chopper)
red food coloring (optional)

For decorating (optional):
fresh lime slices
maraschino cherries

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl combine the cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed. Add in the limeade concentrate and mix to incorporate. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Add in the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix ingredients just long enough to incorporate but no longer.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack over wax paper to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the limeade concentrate and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lime syrup. Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.

To make the frosting, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter and maraschino cherry juice in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated, then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth. Add more maraschino cherry juice as needed to achieve desired texture. Add red food coloring if desired.

Frost cooled cupcakes. Garnish with lime slices and maraschino cherries, if desired.

Source: From Annies Eats, adapted from Baking Up Chaos

So...go make these now!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Crochet baby hat....with ears!

I've seen these adorable knitted/crocheted hats all over the interwebs, but since I have no patience to follow a crochet pattern (anyone else get lost in ch.1 dhc. dc. sl. in 1. turn and repeat from *. What??) I had to wing it. I like winging it. And the great thing about really fuzzy yarn like this is that you can't see if I made any mistakes. As a semi new crocheter, I love that!
But, I'll put my pattern here just for you, in case you are fluent in crochet. Actually, in case you are fluent in my short hand, because that's what my pattern is in.

Tiny (newborn size) baby hat with ears
ch. 5, dbl ch in 3rd ch from loop, dbl ch in each ch. Tie off and leave about 5 inches of yarn. Make two.

ch. 5, join with sl st.

row 1
dbl ch. in each st, join with sl st. turn.

row 2
2 single stitch, dbl ch in each st, join with sl st. Turn

row 3
2 single stitch, dbl ch in first ch, 2 dbl chain in next. repeat this pattern around and join with sl st

rows 4-8 (or however big you want the hat. mine has no brim, but you could easily add more rows to create a brim)
ch 2, dbl chain in each stitch, working in 2 double chains at every 10th st. join rows with sl. stitch

Once you've finished the hat, you sew the ears on using the extra 5 inches of yarn that you left at the begging.

Hope my short hand works for you! I love how this little bugger turned out, and it only took me a few minutes to make. I see many more of these in my future!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jalapeno Cheese Bread

Sometimes a vegetable or two will end up in my crisper without being designated for a meal (I'm sure that happens to everyone. Right? right??). This week I had three lonely jalapenos with nowhere to go.
The other day I came across (another) beautiful cooking blog, Homemade by Holman, and what do you know, there was the most perfect recipe that called for the exact amount of jalapeno I had. It was meant to be.
This Cheddar Jalapeno Bread is easy to make and comes out beautifully, colorful, moist and tast-ay! We loved it, and I definitely think this will be the new chili partner in my house. I can't wait to make it with fresh jalapenos and peppers from the garden.
I made one alteration to the recipe, I had this delicious smoky chipotle cheese, and I used that instead of regular cheddar. mmmmm!

Jalapeno Cheddar Bread
Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Savory Baking

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8" x 4" loaf pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, pepper, salt, and cheese. Toss together and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, combine milk, oil, and egg and whisk together. Pour mixture into well in center of flour and stir mix together lightly with a wooden spoon. Add peppers and stir just until dry ingredients are all combined. The batter should be lumpy. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake bread for approximately 45 minutes until golden brown. Bread should spring back when touched. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, run a knife around all sides and turn out of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Also, you'll want to go check Homemade by Holman's photos, as mine don't do this pretty bread justice. We cut into it while it was still hot so it didn't cut so well. But boy howdy was it delicious.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shamrocks and gold! Cookies, that is.

Okay, so my adorable husband thought my "gold" cookies were lemons, but hey, I don't spend a lot of time around leprechaun gold so I did the best I could. This is only my third attempt at Royal Icing and I'm loving working with it more and more every time I try it.
I used my absolute favorite sugar cookie recipe from A Year in The Kitchen and the Royal icing recipe and tips from Annies Eats. I'm sure I'll never need another sugar cookie or icing recipe, as this is a most delicious combo (which usually isn't the case for highly decorated cookies).

I tried sprinkling sugar on a few, and I liked the look, but my poor arms were tired (and it was nearly 11pm) so I gave up. Those sprinkled ones went the fastest, though. People love sparkles! Also my pictures were taken at 6 am. That has nothing to with anything...I just wanted to share because the beginning of daylight savings is coming and with it comes the end of me being coherent at 6am!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

I had a small carton of buttermilk that I needed to use and I was trying to think of something clever to make (it was originally intended for red velvet cake, but then I suffered from a case of valentine goody burn out...) Fortunately, came to the rescue and I found this recipe for Irish Soda Bread, very appropriate for this month!
I've never even had Irish Soda Bread, let alone made it from scratch, so I was surprised that there was no soda in- just baking powder. But I trusted the recipe and I'm glad I did, it's delicious!


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Beat eggs with buttermilk. Add the eggs and buttermilk into the flour mixture; stir in raisins.
  3. Pour dough onto lightly floured board. Shape into a round loaf, adding flour if necessary. Place in a lightly greased springform pan. Sprinkle top with caraway seeds if desired.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

I didn't have a springform pan, so I just shaped it into a round shape and baked it on a cookie sheet. I did pull it out of the oven about 20 minutes in to brush the top with butter. Mmmm. butter.

I will definitely be making this simple but tasty sweet bread again in a few weeks to go with my corned beef! (no cabbage, though! blech!)