Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes, Cream Cheese Frosting with Caramel Filling

I've been craving all things pumpkin. I started out with a pumpkin bar recipe and after a couple of tweaks I've come out with a soft, moist, delicious pumpkin cupcake you will love.



PUMPKIN CUPCAKES
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fill your cupcake tins with liners.

In a mixer bowl combine and beat until fluffy:
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil (I use canola)
15oz can pumpkin

In a separate bowl sift together:
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on low until just combined do not over mix.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

As soon as they are finished remove from the cupcake tin and place on a wire rack to cool. Immediately after they have cooled place in an air tight container. These steps will allow your cupcakes to remain soft and moist. (Again, Do NOT allow to cool in the tin pan.)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

In an electric mixer whip together:
1/2 cup butter softened
8oz package of cream cheese softened
1 tsp vanilla

Add and whip together:
3 cups of confectioners (powdered) sugar

Keep the frosting cold until you are ready to use it.

FILLING
I am still trying to perfect my homemade caramel sauce recipe. So either use some from the store or find a recipe of your own to try.

ASSEMBLY

With a sharp knife gently cut out a hole in the center of your cupcakes and fill almost to the top with caramel. Then frost and serve.

Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are baked. So if you want to split up the work, you can make everything the day before and bake the next day. The cupcake batter will keep in an air tight container in the fridge for about a week. If you use cold batter, you will get a wonderfully mounded top on your cupcake.

Adapted from sweetpeaskitchen.

Funeral Themed Halloween Party

A few years ago my husband and I threw a funeral themed halloween party for six. 
Our beloved Leanard Slipp (three times removed) slipped away just before October 31st. He was known to only a few of us (he was something of a slippery fellow). So the funeral procession was very short. And I am somewhat ashamed to say that we had a good time in spite of our loss. RIP Slipp, RIP. 

The invitation went out with a photo of the deceased and read as follows:

You are respectfully invited to attend a funeral in memoriam of the recently departed Leanard Slipp. Bring your favorite Halloween Treats, Ghoulish games, and frightful films...prepare for a procession of six. Appropriate mourning attire is recommended.

 Above is a photo of the gravestone—which was purchased with Leanard's money of course; and also a picture of the deceased. He was rather wealthy. Below is a photo of Mr. Slipp's unused mansion; we decided to hold the funeral there. (I keep several white sheets on hand. They are handy for all sorts of things.)

My husband and I were caretakers of the grounds. (Although Leanard gave us the slip when our bill was due.)
Below are some of our guests. Some were angry with Mr. Slipp. Some were happy and shocked because they found they had inherited some of Mr. Slipp's wealth.
The mansion walls were covered with images of Mr. Slipp's deceased family members. (Some people have made vintage photos of the deceased available on flickr to download for free.) Also, there were plenty of spiders, bats, and rats to keep us company.
We had soft organ music playing in the background. (Do a google search, you can find funeral organ music for free download.) And of course refreshments were served in honor of Mr. Slipp's final resting place.

Cookie Tubs with Printed Ingredient Cards

We've all seen the cute gift idea with mason jars and ingredients for cookies...but mason jars are expensive! So instead, purchase plastic containers (4 for about 2-3 bucks) and use those instead.

Here, I've created a tag with a photo I took of the cookies, and on the back I put the directions. Then punched a hole in it, tied it with ribbon and delivered! So next time you make your favorite cookies—don't forget to take a picture. You never know when you might need it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rapunzel Hair Tutorial

This Rapunzel Hair was a HIT with my niece last Christmas. I am told it is STILL a favorite around the house. You'll probably want a couple of days to work on it, but it's rather easy and well worth the effort. First you'll need supplies: Two LARGE rolls of yarn • fabric scissors • three rolls of ribbon • three hair ties • hot glue and gun • toothpick • fabric glue • hydrangea blossom • two hair flowers.


Step One: Do not exercise today. Instead roll out three bunches of yarn strands—using up all of your yarn. My groups each had about 52+ strands in each. Length doesn't matter, you choose. Just remember it's about 1/3 shorter when it's braided. Take breaks when needed! This counts as exercise—believe me, you'll feel it.

Step Two: Roll out a length of ribbon across each strand. 



Step Three: With some extra yarn, cut short lengths and loosely tie around the groups of yarn...about every  foot or so. This will keep things from tangling while you are braiding.


Step Four: gather the groups into one at the end and tie off with a hair tie. Begin braiding as tight as you can. Make sure the ribbons stays on top of the strands as you braid. Tip: It helps to "pinch" the end of the braid between your crossed legs.

Braiding tips: As you braid, comb through the immediate section with your fingers to keep the plates of the braid looking nice. You will be moving the long strands back and forth across your lap. Admittedly, this part does get tedious...so take lots of breaks to sneak some cookie dough.

Okay, I will answer your question: those are "knee pads" (tape) on my knees. I taped them up to keep from wearing holes in my jeans as I crawled back and forth laying out the yarn.
Step Five: When you get close to the end, tie it off with another hair tie. Your ends should look something like this, with one long and one short.

Step Six: Using your hot glue, glue all around both hair ties. I mean it. Really get it good. Make sure some of it touches the yarn too. We don't want the kids to slide the hair tie off.
Step Seven: Measure your kiddo's head and make a loop that same size—measuring the INSIDE of the loop—and put the short end in the back. Tie this off and glue the bleep out of it again. You may also want to put glue where the braids overlap for extra support.
Step Eight: Tie a ribbon around it to hide the glue and make a bow. Insert the hair flowers to further hide the end of the braid. (The clips can be removed before washing.) And tie a ribbon around the bottom of the braid as well.
Step Nine: Using a little fabric glue and a toothpick, apply a line of glue along the clipped end of the ribbons. This will keep them from fraying.


Step Ten: Clip the little flowers off the hydrangea stem. Use hot glue along the stamen on the back and a few drops of the back of the petals. Push the flower into the braid. Place the flowers randomly along the braid, including the loop. No swearing when you burn yourself.

You're done! Step back and admire your work. I promise, this braid is going to be played with A LOT, your little one with LOVE it.

Care: Hand wash recommended...however, a front load wash on gentle would probably be ok. Use cold water.
Air dry...DO NOT put in dryer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Campaign Trail - Vote for Young Women In Excellence

This year's Young Women in Excellence was a campaign theme; which is quite fitting: “Vote for Young Women in Excellence." The invitations went out as Voters' pins, upon which the girls added embellishments (like the ones seen below). Then we stuck a magnet to the back. As a leader I'm excited because the program is EASY, so I think you'll like it too.
Decorating should be a cinch. You can find all kinds of patriotic stuff for super cheap. (Or just borrow from your girls' parents or other members.) Our decorations came to us from a business who let us borrow them. I've included other decoration ideas in the downloads. The file is at the end of the post.
Each leader brought two dozen cupcakes, we split up the colors: red, white, and blue. I made the white ones (lemon sponge cake with lemon curd filling from scratch—SOOO good.) And then printed out these little flags and attached them to toothpicks. They looked awesome.
At the end of the program we watched a slideshow of the girls "On the Campaign Trail" which were pictures of them through out the year. This theme was so fun!

Below is an outline full of suggestions and a program for the evening. Click on them to enlarge. Actually you'll love it. The whole evening is spelled out for you. Boom. Done.) 
 

Here's a blank jpg for you to work with for the invitations if you wish, and flags for cupcakes or other such treat. Click on them to view and download.




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Zomcon — A Zombie Hunter Party

This post includes ideas for a zombie themed party. I threw this for my husband's birthday and he was thrilled. Enjoy!

First, video invitations are the only way to go. Send them as if they are coming from the Zomcon Safe House. (Zomcon—A Better Life Through Containment)
Have someone dressed as a doctor ask that, “all available Zombie Hunters find and bring a Zombie to the Safe House for research.” Of course the doctor can be attacked at the end of the clip. 

Ideally out of each couple that is invited one would dress as a zombie and the other as the hunter, thus giving you instant teams for all the games. (In our case ALL the guys chose to be hunters of course. And in the end the Hunters won. The human race will live on.)

If you don't want to do a video invitation...do a sound recording. It will be just as effective. And believe me, your guests will get EXTREMELY excited about coming.

DECORATIONS

Board up the fireplace, doors, and windows using strips of cardboard with wood grain and nails drawn on them. Cut hands out of black poster board and tape them up to add the final touches. This is so cheap, you'll love it.
Complete the effect and turn off all the lights; use only candles and flashlights the whole evening.

Use various signs to dress up your walls.
A few games and ways to earn points include:
PIN THE BULLET or brain on the zombie—depending which team you are on.

LIE TO ME: Upon arrival each guest is given a piece of paper with a lie written on it. They are to insert it into conversation without getting caught. For example “I waited in a line party to watch Night of the Living Dead at the theater.” It is especially fun trying to trick your spouse. If no one catches you, your team gets a point!

RESEARCH QUESTIONS: Everyone gets a questionnaire about zombies, how to kill them etc. Points are added up at the end and assigned to each team.

FOOD TEST: After everyone has visited the dessert table, question them “which food did you eat first?" If a zombie had eaten human food, they lose a point etc.

There are so many treat ideas all over the internet. Here are just a few things that I chose to make.



Update: It has been over a year since I threw this party and our family and friends STILL bring it up from time to time and tell us what a fun party it was and when are we throwing the next one. So you really need to do a party like this, just do it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

My dad was raving about these cookies over Christmas. My sister in-law made them twice while we were there. Each uncooked cookie ball is 1/4 cup large. Then you freeze them for a short time so when cooked the outside is crunchy and the middle soft and gooey. These cookies are huge and you will need milk!
I made these for my girls at youth group tonight. Do you think they will love them? Or will I have to eat them, thus necessitating a several extra mile addition to my workout? Worth it either way? Oh yes.

The recipe can be found on Dishing the Divine right here.

Addendum: This sunday I gave the ingredients for these cookies as a gift to my sister-in-law (you know, the kind you see in a jar. The receiver just has to add the wet ingredients and bake). Anyway, I got a call a day later BEGGING me to give her the full recipe. These are THAT GOOD.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Seriously Great English Apple Pie

In speaking with friends, no one has heard of English Apple pie which saddens me. Surely the recipe that my mother copied from Woman's Day Magazine in 1985 (!), has made it into more than just my home by now. After making this you will walk around with fork in hand, change your rout as to pass through the kitchen during the day, and scoop up bite after bite until you are sadly and suddenly left with an empty pie dish.

ENGLISH APPLE PIE: Makes One Pie

In a medium sized bowl beat until fluffy:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix in:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 TBSP water

Stir in (optional):
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl place and combine with hands or spoon:
4 large cooking apples, peeled and sliced (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
 1/4 cup flour
 1/2 cube cold butter cut into pieces
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°

Mound the apple mixture in a pie plate and spoon the dumpling mixture evenly over the top in dollops. Place pie on the lowest rack and cook for 40-45 minutes or until the apples are tender when pierced. (I like the apples when they are still barely firm.)

Serve in bowls with half and half (add sugar and vanilla to the cream and shake well, then pour a bit over a serving of pie.)

"This crustless pie, a favorite in the Hoellerich family, owns its origin to a disappointing crust Fairy Hoellerich made twenty years ago. After one taste, a friend suggested she try making English Apple Pie instead and Mrs. Hoellerich has been doing just that ever since. 'I'd recommend it to anyone,' she says.'It's much easier than ordinary apple pie.' Mrs. Hoellerich and her husband recently moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she teaches Word-Processing part-time in a vocational school. She finds English Apple Pie the perfect dessert to serve to friends after a session of bridge."

SILVER SPOON AWARD 
Woman's Day 2/5/85
page 120