Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Candy Creations: Almond Bark

Growing up, I remember making a white chocolate chex mix candy with Mom each year around Christmas. After we were done making it, we'd package it up (or at least whatever we didn't eat of it!) and mail it to relatives as a nice homemade holiday gift.

Once I moved away from home, I picked up the tradition and have been making it ever since.But it's a shame to make this treat only once a year, so now I make it whenever I can!

The beauty of this dessert is that you can add in anything you want.

Pretzels? Yep. Pecans? Sure. Corn and rice chex? A must.

One of my favorites to mix in is Peanut Butter Captain Crunch cereal.

You can find almond bark in the candy or baking aisle of the grocery store. One big batch calls for one big bowl of cereal/pretzel combo mixed in with one package of melted almond bark.

We always made it with the white chocolate, but it's very tasty with regular chocolate as well. 

Yummy. It's like a sea of chocolate lava.

Here's the basic recipe, but one word of caution: I add in extra each and EVERY time I make it. So I'll round up to what I think I really put in ...

6 cups corn and rice chex cereal
2 cups Peanut Butter Captain Crunch cereal
1/2 cup pecans
1 package almond bark (white or chocolate), melted in slow increments in a microwave-safe bowl
2 cups pretzels

Other add-ins that would be delish:
M&Ms or other chocolate candy (Reece's Pieces sounds yummy just thinking about it!)

Nothing but sweet goodness as far as the eye can see ...

Spread the candy out on a flat surface covered in wax paper. Make sure it dries completely before packaging.


And I just love how pretty it is all packaged up!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who Loves Tinkerbell?

We do, we do! And so does little Amelia, who is celebrating her 3rd birthday with a Tinkerbell-themed birthday party.

Mikaelah handmade these ribbon topiaries for Amelia's party, and we hope she loves them as much as we do!

Did you see all those sparkles? It's pixie dust =)


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oh. My. Strawberry.

Ahhh, the sweet taste of strawberries. Gotta love them. Gotta love that they're in season. And gotta love them in this ....

Oh My Strawberry Cupcakes

Ok, now wipe that drool away and let's talk about how to make these.

First, round up some freshly picked strawberries. Rinse. Cut off stems.

Now, try not to eat all of them before you put them into the cupcake mix. I know, tempting, huh?

Here's the rest of what you'll need:

1 box white cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water
About 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 small container Cool Whip
1 graham cracker sqauare

*** The eggs, oil and water measurements are what my Pillsbury cake mix called for. Follow the box instructions and you can't go wrong.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 24 cupcake liners into 2 12-cup muffin baking tins.

In a medium size bowl, blend together cake mix, oil, water and eggs. Use a hand mixer on low speed for 2 minutes or beat by hand for 2 minutes.

Using a spatula, gently stir in about 1 cup of the sliced strawberries. Scoop batter into cupcake liners and fill about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool.

Once cupcakes are completely cool, pipe or spread whipped topping right onto the top of the cupcakes.

Now the fun part. Load them up with strawberries! A slight sprinkle of crumbled graham cracker will do the trick. And voila!

Now go eat up and enjoy!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh, This Will Sock It To Ya!

I had a recent baking request from my friend Amy, who is pregnant and due any day now. And when a pregnant woman wants something, you better not say no!

Sock It To Me Cake: Absolutely delish!

Amy said she grew up eating this dessert that her grandma made. She was really craving it, and I can see why.

I couldn't believe how yummy this was. First I made it for her ... then I made some for us the VERY NEXT DAY. It's sooo good.

 I found a recipe online and adapted it slightly, because it called for butter cake mix and I couldn't find that. So I swapped it for a simple box of yellow cake mix instead.

Sock It To Me Cake


1 package yellow cake mix (18.25 ounces)
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
4 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13 pan with cooking spray. (You could also use a round bunt cake pan.) In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, blend cake mix, sour cream, oil, white sugar, water and eggs. Beat at high speed for about 2 minutes. Pour 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan.

In a separate bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over batter in pan. Spread remaining batter evenly over cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Once cake is cooled, mix together powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over cake.

Now it's time to eat! 


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Toy: Cricut!

Disclaimer: The following crafting tool is extremely addictive and should be used only at your own risk of also becoming addicted.

It's a Cricut, and so far, we have used it to make ALL KINDS OF STUFF. My favorite is the greeting card ...

Best thing about it? It's giving us a reason to write letters. You know, with an actual pen in hand instead of a laptop or smartphone? No texting to say "thanks" or e-mailing to say "Thinking about you."

The beauty of (hand) written communication =)

Happy writing and crafting, everyone!


Baby Shower: A Positively Pixar Theme

With a 2-year-old in the house, it's safe to say that we watch a fair amount of Disney movies. And Pixar movies seem to be some of Avery's favorites. She loves "Toy Story" (all of them!), "Cars" and "Monsters, Inc."

So we all got pretty excited when we found out that our cousin Kendra and her husband, Josh, were planning a Pixar themed baby shower.

Of course, Mikaelah immediately started working on decorations and a diaper cake =)

Fun and colorful ribbons wrapped each tier of the diaper cake. Sorry, Baby Smith, but I don't think you'll be old enough for the suckers for quite a while ... Better leave those for Mommy and Daddy!

And now it's complete with Buzz and Woody at the top.

This was another fun project of Mikaelah's. She made a Pixar-themed topiary, made of the same ribbons from the diaper cake. Very fun and unique.

 Congratulations, Kendra and Josh! We can't wait to meet baby and find out if it's a boy or girl!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Cupcake Ice Cream Cones

Cupcakes that look like ice cream? Ummm, yes please! I saw these on Martha Stewart's website a while back, and I had really been wanting to try them. They're just so darn cute.

Martha featured the pointed sugar cones, but it seemed nearly impossible to bake a cupcake in those! So I went out and bought a box of inexpensive cake cones. If you try this, I'd recommend crumbling up a little aluminum foil to help keep the cone from moving once you've placed it in a regular muffin tin.

Devil's Food Chocolate Cake made yummy ice cream cupcakes! I filled the cones maybe just a bit too full. I'd also read that putting a small marshmallow in the bottom would help prevent the cone from getting mushy. ... Well, the cone wasn't mushy, but the marshmallow expands so much that some of the cones were nearly hollow inside! So, next time, no marshmallows =)

I had fun decorating these. Fluffy white frosting swirled to look like soft serve ... oh, yummy soft serve!

Some of them really overflowed, but then they just looked like melting ice cream cones on a hot summer day. All that with a sprinkle on top!