Chocolate Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Crispies

Going through my other blog, I found this cookie recipe I created a couple years ago on a whim when I craved a particular type of cookie. I don’t have any pictures, but I thought I’d share the recipe anyway. 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Crispies

Preheat Oven to 375

Ingredients
2 Semi Sweet Bakers Chocolate Squares
1 Cup Unsalted Butter
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp peppermint extract
2 1/2 cup unsifted flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup crushed candy cane

1. Melt Butter and Chocolate squares. 
2. Mix chocolate mixture with egg, salt and peppermint extract. Slowly add flour 1/2 cup at a time, until it is well mixed. 
3. Stir in chocolate chips and crushed candy cane.
4. Form into small balls on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Top each ball with a little sprinkle of crushed candy cane.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes and then remove from oven and cool. 

A pretty simple recipe, but yummy and definitely worth making again and it was fun to go outside my comfort zone a little. I should actually make a batch of these to see if they were as good as I remember. 

Salt Dough Ornaments

It’s Christmas time and since I want to be like my mom and be super crafty and make Christmas magic for my kids, I figured we had to do at least one Christmas activity. My kids are small though, so I didn’t want to be super ambitious. I loved the idea of preserving their hand prints, so I decided to do salt dough hand print ornaments.

My first attempt was a disaster. The dough was too hard to work with, had a weird texture and didn’t get a good print. I really liked the idea though, so I searched and found a recipe on babycenter.com and went with that instead and just tweaked it a little (added more water for one thing).

It was pretty simple:
- 2 C. Flour (I actually ended up using bread flour)
- 1 1/4 C. Water
- 1 C salt

Mix the flour and salt, add the water gradually and need the dough until smooth. Poke a hole in the top, so you can thread a ribbon or hook through them later. Bake at 300F for about half an hour or until ornaments are hard.

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Mark took over the painting of the ornaments and after attempting to actually paint them and getting frustrated, he went out and bought a glossy spray paint and used that to paint them. He used red for our oldest and green for our younger son. I sharpied there names and the year on the back.

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All in all I’m pretty happy with them. Are they great works of art? No, but they are cute and Alex had a BLAST putting his hand in the dough. So I’m feeling like a pretty successful crafting Mama today.

Update– Sadly this recipe ended up being a bit of a fail as two of the ornaments cracked in half. Sigh. We’ll see if the ones we have on the tree make it past this year and we’ll search for a different recipe for next year.

Two Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

I love all things pumpkin. I’m crazy about pumpkin. Mark, not so much, so I have to tone down my pumpkin obsession. Or turn it towards thing that are just for me (or our kids, so far Alex seems pretty crazy about pumpkin as well). I also like things that are easy.

So when I saw the recipe for two ingredient pumpkin muffins that was floating around Pinterest, I knew I had to try them. Pumpkin muffins were perfect because I could eat them all on my own (or share them with the kid) and Mark could turn his nose up at them if he wanted to.

It was a pretty simple recipe: one can pumpkin, one box cake mix of your choice (I used vanilla, I’d imagine it’s best with spice cake) mix together and bake at 375F until set (about 30 minutes in my awful oven).

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Technically I added a third ingredient, some pumpkin pie spice because I knew with the vanilla cake mix they’d need a little something extra and I was right. I’d actually add even more next time, unless I used a different kind of cake.

They were ok. I didn’t love the texture to be honest. Maybe it was my oven, but there was definitely something lacking. Still, these were super simple and they were pretty tasty, texture aside. I would make them again and you know what, despite his professed hatred for pumpkin, Mark ate several of these muffins, so they couldn’t have been that bad.

Greek 7-Layer Dip

In my last post, I showed off the decorations I made up for my oldest son’s birthday party and I talked about the hot dog bar. I didn’t just have hot dogs for food, though that was the main dish. However, I also made up a salad and an appetizer. Normally, I’d make up more than one appetizer, but with the hot dog bar, I figured that was over-kill and settled on one large dip.

7-layer dip is a big hit at parties in my circle, but I wanted something a little different. I found this 7-layer Greek inspired dip from Our Best Bites. I adore Greek food, Markn is not as big a fan as I am, so we don’t have it very often, but I figured the party was a good excuse to make it. It was loaded with veggies so that my friends who are vegetarians would also be able to enjoy it.

I modified the original dip a bit. Mine was needed to serve 10-15 and be the only appetizer, so I went a little larger scale than was probably needed (though about 3/4s of the dip was eaten, so my efforts were obviously appreciated). I used a 9×13 Pyrex casserole dish, partially because I wanted to be able to make it ahead of time and that dish had a lid.

I didn’t use the cream cheese layer of the original, instead I just used some Tzatziki I bought at Costco. I also bought the Hummus at Costco. And then I layered cucumbers, tomatoes, black olives, red onion and feta on top. I had intended to layer roasted red peppers, but I got distracted and forgot. It’s ok, the dip was fantastic without them.

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Greek 7-layer dip

2 containers Hummus (could easily be made with 1)
2 containters Tzatziki (could easily be made with 1)
1 cucumber, cubed
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 can sliced black olives
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 red onion, diced

Spread the hummus on the bottom of your dish, then layer the Tzatziki on top and then sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on top. I made mine up a few hours before I needed to serve it and refrigerated it. I served it with Pita chips and it was a huge hit. I also love how colorful it is.

Mickey Mouse 2nd Birthday

Gah. I’ve been away a while. I’ve had some crazy stuff going on in my life, between school and family. I also suck at taking food pictures, so even when I make things I can’t always manage to blog about them. However, I do have a couple things I need to post on.

We’ll start with the most time consuming: my son’s 2nd birthday party. It was a small party, at our house, for a dozen of our closest friends, but I still wanted to show off some of my Pinterest-mom skills and make the decorations nice. Alex loves Mickey Mouse, so I decided on a Mickey’s Club House theme.

Now, I know I could go to Walmart and buy a bunch of themed decorations, but that’s not how we roll. First of all, I wanted my theme to be a little more subtle, since the guests were adults and I’m fairly competent person, so I had faith that I could pull together the look I wanted on my own. Besides, I had Pinterest to help me. My plan was to go with the Mickey colours of red, black, white and yellow and a few Mickey-isms and work from there.

A quick search of Pinterest gave me the idea of a hot dog bar, or a “hot diggity dog” bar to be more accurate. Last summer, we went on a family vacation to Cleveland and ended up checking out Happy Dog, seriously if you’re ever in Cleveland, check them out. I loved the idea of countless toppings on a hot dog and I thought I could have a lot of fun with it as a party theme.

I hit up the local gourmet store, but also my local superstore, since PC brand has a lot of cool condiments. We went with 27 different toppings which included things like garlic mayo, jalapeno ketchup and feta cheese. The toppings were all a huge hit and it was a pretty no-fuss party food idea, especially since I did the dogs in the slow cooker and just brought them out when it was time to eat (and they were SO good).

Food was easy, but what about decorations? I have a small living room, but I wanted to make it as Mickey-ish as possible. I saw some cool ideas for backdrops and banners on Pinterest and took what I saw to do something that would work for my space. I don’t have a lot of wall space, so a full backdrop wouldn’t fit, so I decided on a small-scale one. I wanted to twist the crepe paper, but after 45 minutes of attempts, I was just ruining the crepe paper, so I gave up (that’s why the red looks so odd). The balloons were almost my undoing, but thankfully Mark came up with a way to make them stick.

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The backdrop was behind the table (folding card tables are awesome)  that hosted the hot dog bar. It was pretty simple, just the toppings, the plates and napkins (in Mickey colours, of course) and my Hot Diggity Dog sign (thankfully I had a cheap frame laying around that I put to good use). Oh and my son’s Mickey doll that I borrowed for the occasion. I actually quite like the visual. This is it all set up, just missing the salad, appetizer and hot dogs.

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My final touch of decorations was the birthday banner I made. Mark used his circle cutter to make the circles and I traced and cut out the letters and clued them to the circles. It was definitely time consuming, but I really like how it turned out. Because of that and because I’m lazy, it is actually still hanging up in my living room two weeks later. I pretty much think it’s staying up until I put up the Christmas decorations.

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This was really my first attempt at decorating for a party. I’ve done party food for years, but until now I’ve had mostly adult parties and haven’t really bothered with decorations. My baby shower was decorated of course, but I didn’t have much to do with that, and we had Alex’s first birthday at a park, so minimum decorations. Now, though with kids’ birthday parties, I’m placing more importance on decorations and I think I did ok my first attempt out. I could do better on the backdrop, but other than that, I’m pretty happy with the result, though it was definitely time consuming.

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

We value fast, simple and cheap meals in our house. Two full-time students with two children under two means we don’t have a lot of time or money on our hands. I often look to Pinterest for inspiration (hence the title of this blog), but sometimes I just wing it.

One of our absolute favorite meals is a super simple sausage, peppers and pasta dish. I make this one on average once a week, because peppers, pasta and sausage are generally things I have on hand.

 

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I boil the pasta (whatever kind you like, we like rotini) and then prepare the sausage and peppers in a separate pan while the pasta is cooking.

3-4 mild Italian sausages (I like the Costco ones, which seem bigger than anywhere else)
2 Bell peppers
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 – 1 tbsp seasoning of your choice (I usually use my homemade Cajun seasoning, but I’ve gone Mexican and I’ve also gone simple with just a little salt, pepper and dried basil)

Cut the sausage into little pieces, put in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. Cut up the peppers into bite size pieces, add the peppers and garlic to the sausage, then add the seasoning. Cook until sausage is cooked through and peppers are tender, takes about 5 minutes all together. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta, add tbsp of butter and toss with the pasta, then serve the pasta into bowls and put the stir-fry picture on top. Tada, dinner is served. Takes 15-20 minutes all together and is super tasty.

Onesie and Carriage Cookies

I have this imagined life where I am a Martha Stewart clone. I’d love to be super capable in the kitchen and whip up a perfect cake, but it very rarely happens like that. But occasionally this delusion gets me in trouble–like when I volunteered to make 4 dozen cookies for a baby shower.

I’m a pretty good baker, but my efforts, while tasty, aren’t always the prettiest. Still, I wanted to make carriage and onesie cookies for this shower.

So first, I went in search of a sugar cookie recipe to work with and I found this one. It seemed simple enough, though I made a couple small changes, partially because I need to use cookie cutters and not just cut my cookies into flat discs. I also needed a lot more than the recipe called for and I found that just straight doubling the recipe didn’t work for me.

Basic Sugar Cookie recipe (adapted from Raegun Ramblings)

- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 lb butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vanilla (my husband finds almond extract over-powering so I just went with vanilla)
- 5 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cream of tarter
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (I love cinnamon and I find that this minuscule amount just helped give a nice hint of extra flavour)

As with most cookie recipes, begin by seperating the dry and wet ingredients. Mix the flour, baking soda, cream of tarter and cinnamon in small bowl and set aside. Cream sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla together. I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer on high, took about 1 minute. Then slowly add the dry ingredients and mix well on high for another minute or so.

This dough needs to be chilled. I seperated it into two balls and wrapped them in wax paper and refrigerated them for 2-3 hours. I then broke off a small amount of one ball and rolled it out to cut my shapes out of, taking only as much as I needed and keeping the rest chilled as it was much easier to get a good shape out of the chilled dough.

I baked a dozen cookies at 375 F for about 6 minutes and they came out perfect, but my oven tends to run a little hot, so I’m not sure if this is the perfect baking time or not.

Once they cooled, I used this glaze to decorate them. I’m not the biggest fan of Royal icing and I wanted something that would travel well, so I was intrigued by the idea of a shiny glaze that wasn’t royal icing.

I found the original recipe didn’t work out so well for me. I had to add a LOT more liquid to it. And one batch made enough for two dozen cookies, so I ended up making two batches, which was fine as I wanted to do the onesies and carriages in different colors. I had to play around a bit until I got the perfect consistancy.

Simple Cookie Glaze (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/8 cup milk, added a spoonful at a time (maybe more)
- food colouring

Blend together the sugar, corn syrup and milk. Again, I used my kitchen aid for the initial mixing and then did the rest by hand, because I had to add a fair bit of milk to get the right consistency. I’d add the milk in small increments until you get the texture you want, it should be smooth, but not runny. It settled about a minute after I put it on the cookie and it completely hardened within an hour.

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I admit that my finished result could have been a little prettier, but I thought they turned out fairly well and they were a big hit at the shower. Even if they weren’t an A on presentation, they were an A+ on taste, one of the best cookies I’ve had in a while. My husband has decided that this should be the sugar cookie recipe I use when I do my Christmas baking and he claims that he normally doesn’t like sugar cookies!

Playing Card Bows

My goal is to actually get use out of my Pinterest account, instead of just have it to look at the pretty pictures. This is mostly going to be food, because I’m not terribly motivated to do most things, but I have to eat every single day and so does my family. However, occasionally the occasion arises for me to do something crafty.

Pinterest is an amazing wedding resource, so many fabulous ideas in one, easy-to-keep-track-of place. Sadly, Pinterest wasn’t a thing when I got married 3 years ago, but a good friend of mine made use of it for her recent wedding. She decided to have an Alice in Wonderland inspired wedding and started searching for cool wedding ideas that went with that theme.

For the bridesmaids, she’s stumbled across this tutorial for bows made out of playing cards, very Alice. It seemed simple enough, so I volunteered to make them for the bridesmaids. It was a simple idea and I eventually managed to come up with 3 usable bows, it just took me half a deck of cards. 

Really, it was pretty easy. Take a card and fold it into an accordion, I found it worked best to aim for 3 1/2 complete folds. Once it’s folded, tie ribbon around the center, forcing it into bow shape and use hot glue to secure the ribbon. The hard part was getting the perfect bow shape.

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I went with the suit of hearts for my bows, because it best suited the theme. We were then left with the idea of how we were going to wear said card bows. I thought the idea of a bobby pin seemed disastrous, so instead decide to secure them to headbands. I picked up a four pack of thin head bands at Walmart for $4 and went to work and came up with three perfect headbands (I could have made a fourth, but only needed 3).

I’m not normally very crafty (or very stylish), but apparently weddings bring out the best in me. And it really is a shame that I missed out on getting to go a little Pinterest crazy for my own wedding, though I’m pretty sure my husband thinks that’s a good thing….

Omelette “Muffins”

I have become a little obsessed with Pinterest lately, to the point that last month I challenged myself to complete a pin a day. I didn’t succeed, but I managed over 20 pins and am trying again this month. Since I also am trying to motivate more often, I thought a cooking blog was probably in order (though there will be the occasional non cooking post as I take on an organizational pin).

This will also motivate me to take photos of what I cook. So I can blog about it.

I am not the world’s greatest cook, I’m not bad, but I’m a lazy cook. I’m not going to make anything super complicated. Then when you add in the fact that Mark (my husband) and I have very different tastes in food, well, it makes cooking a challenge at times. Plus trying to cater to the appetites of a two year old. So I’m always on the look-out for simple, fast recipes that we’ll both eat and when I find them, they’re worth their weight in gold.

My first post is one that has become a favorite in our household: Muffin cup omelettes. My husband is not a huge omelette fan, he likes the concept, but finds the execution iffy and well, I can’t make a proper omelette to save my life, but last year I stumbled on the idea of making them in muffin cups and since then they have become a breakfast staple in our house.

You can pretty much make them however you want, which is the nice thing. You must use silicon muffing cups though, otherwise it becomes an awful mess that takes forever to clean, but other than that there are no set rules. My basic recipe is 4 eggs and about 1/4 cup of milk, mixed well and this makes 6 “muffins”. Next you fill the muffin cups with whatever ingredients you want. Our favourite is pretty simple: crumbled bacon, chopped jalapenos and some cheddar cheese. After you’ve added the toppings, fill the pans with the egg mixture and then cook at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until they start to get a little brown on top.

We like to eat ours alongside a couple pieces toast. My toddler loves these and generally eats at least one, which leaves 2 1/2 for Mark and I, which is generally enough (well along with the toast), because they’re pretty filling.

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Not a cookbook-worthy photo, but super delicious.