Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-Milk Dud Cupcakes

SO I have this fetish for this particular straws that can only be had in a grocery store found in Texas. I happened to know that a friend of ours was going house hunting down in Texas and in order to bribe him into buying said straws I promised him baked goods of his choice. His exact words for his choice were " I want a chocolate cupcake with something to do with caramel". So I looked all over the web for chocolate caramel cupcakes. There were like 2 whole recipes and they looked pretty intense. So I decided to get creative. What I came up with is these: Milk Dud Cupcakes.

Now don't get to excited. In my opinion they looked better than they actually were. However I am not a huge frosting person and the caramel frosting was super on the sweet side! The guy I baked them for LOVED them though. Therefore you must all bake these and give me your professional opinions;)

OK enough background info, onto the recipe!
For the actual cupcake portion you will need: 
  • Chocolate Cake mix of your choice. I used Duncan Hines Devils Food.
  • Ingredients to make Cake mix according to package. (Eggs, Oil, Water...)
  • 24 unwrapped caramels
  • Not necessary but I highly recommend FOIL cupcake liners.
Prepare Cake mix according to package directions. Then fill cupcake liners not even half full. Put in oven for 5 mins only! Take out and insert one upwrapped caramel into each cake and cover with enough cake mix to make liners 2/3 full. Bake about 18 minutes more or until toothpick inserted into actual cake part (not the caramel!) comes out clean. What you will have when you pull these out is a cakey milk dud! The caramel will have sunk to the bottom and become chewy, hence the name:) This is where the foil liners come in handy. The caramel has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the liner, the foil ones are more non stick.
Now for the Caramel Frosting to ice these guys you will need:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar ( I used Dark brown. DON'T recommend this, made them to sweet!)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 * Extra Ingredient: Box of Milk Dud Candies.
Here is what you want to do:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then add the milk and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and beat in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Cool slightly, then at medium to almost high speed beat in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar.You may need a little more or less powdered sugar depending on the consistency you like to work with for frosting. I had to refrigerate my frosting to get it to set up right and it was still a little on the runny side, so if you have better success let me know what you did! This step may not be neccassary and if so go right to icing your cupcakes. After you make them pretty:) be sure to top each one with a milk dud!
So go! Bake these and make me world famous. Or bake these and when they are horrible pretend you have no idea what went wrong, cause you know I would never bake something like that!;)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Manic Monday-Toilet Paper, Teeth and other Tidbits

SO since I said I can post whatever I want on Mondays, and I didn't post a Family Friday, I am going to post a few tidbits from our family over the last week. 
Starting with the big news for our big boy. My favorite six year old in the world lost his first tooth last week! Funny enough on the same day his six year old uncle did:) He actually lost another tooth over the weekend so here is the timeline in pictures:

Next in Family News: I have two little Monsters! Literally! See I have this basket in the Main Bathroom, it holds toilet paper, it looks like this:
So I go into that bathroom last week and I see this:

Now it is not unusual for me to find 1 roll missing, but to find 2!!? So I immediately holler for my children and ask "does anyone know what happened to the toilet paper?" Gilly scampers off to return holding a raggy, dirty, looks like may have been chewed on 1/3 of a roll of toilet paper. She hands it to me and says matter of factly " My brother and I were trying to be mummies yesterday and the blankets wouldn't stay wound up so good. But the toilet paper worked great!" Wish I had seen that! Don't ask where I was or what I was doing apparently my children run the show around here. Also wish I had taken pic of gnarly TP or little tiny mummies but no such luck:(

And finally because somehow she always gets the shaft since her brother is such a ham, I thought I would share a pic of my little sous chef:

She takes her job so seriously! But she is such a joy to me, and has really become a big help in the kitchen.

Well Folks that's all I have for today! 
P.S. I heard some of you don't prefer to be emailed my posts. If this is the case please leave me a comment telling me so and I will take you off the list. NO Biggie!:)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thematic Thursday- Going Green

Since today is Earth Day I am posting my favorite "green" items. These are in no particular order:)
  • My Patty Reed reusable totes! These are SO pretty and sturdy. I get TONS of compliments on them. I hardly ever shop with out them anymore. If you would like to pick some up and don't happen to have a Fred Meyer store available, go to her website. Totally worth the money, had lots of reusable shopping bags, these are tops!   
  • My reusable Starbucks cups. I own both the cool beverage and hot beverage cups. They both look exactly like the disposable version but are totally reusable down to the straw! Plus they keep my drink warm/cold for hours longer than the paper ones.
  • My Garden! I planted a little square foot garden this year. And due to limited growing time (we move 1st of July) I could only plant fast things. Therefore I basically planted salsa:) you know tomatoes, jalapenos, green peppers, and cilantro. The only thing I won't be putting in my salsa is my cucumbers! I couldn't take a pic because it was to dark. But I will probably post about my garden another day anyway.
Well sadly enough I am obviously not very "green" cause I really couldn't think of anything else earth friendly that I do. We used to recycle but since we moved this lil ole town doesn't offer it. I guess I will have to strive a little harder to be reduce/reuse friendly. In the mean time I will be content with  looking cool with my reusable tote and Starbucks cup!;)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Give it a Whirl Wednesday-Bread Flats

I told you I couldn't decide about the name for Wednesdays posts, may have to play around with it a bit more to find something I like. Anywhoo... on to the item of the week:
Bread Flats! I know you've seen them, they have like 3 different brands with 2 or more flavors. And of course yours truly has tried them all; you name it I've bought them. Entenmanns, Thomas, Pepperidge Farm etc. All with varied results. My favorite ended up being the Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain White. I have tried some of the multi grain versions, I just didn't prefer the taste and texture. That was what cinched the PF variety for me. They were really smooth with a light texture. 
However I did decide that my mind set had a lot to do with my enjoyment of these "buns". I realized I needed to look at these at round pieces of bread NOT flat buns. Because in the end no matter the brand my family preferred these in place of bread not buns. I think this is why I couldn't really get into the "bagel thins" that are out also, see I like a bagel I can sink my teeth into. Not a crispy thin piece of toast with a hole in the middle. Now if you are one of those healthy type people that likes to drink your breakfast in the form of a "shake" or inhale it in the form of a nutrition bar then these are for you. All of them! However I am old fashioned and when I think a bagel should be chewy or a bun should be fluffy no matter how it taste I am not pleased if it is flat!

ALL that to say that I would guess my family will continue to buy these about once a month. Here are some of our favorites ways to use them:
  • Sandwich Melts : this our favorite! Slather Mayo and Mustard on the buns, pile high with deli meat and top with nice cheese such as Munster or Provolone. Place in broiler on low till cheesy becomes melty.
  • Salad Sandwiches: this is a funny way to say that we like tuna, chicken or even egg salad on these.
  • Chicken Breast Sandwiches: We use tyson's chicken patties and make up nice sandwiches complete with lettuce, tomato & onion.
  • PBJ: I know it sounds 2 year oldish but honestly these are almost better on Bread Flats than regular bread!
How bout you? Have you used these yet? Do you have a favorite brand/variety? Someone let me know if they have tried toasting these and eating them like toast/english muffins in the morning. It is the only thing I haven't tried yet and I saw the suggestion today on the package and thought it sounded fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tasty Tuesday-Pasta Fagioli

So I have been hooked on the Pasta Fagioli  soup from Olive Garden ever since my friend 
Amy introduced me to it while our guys were deployed. Seriously I love it so much I ordered just soup and salad last time we ate there, NO pasta! This soup reminds me of a really well seasoned minestrone but with so much more. Needless to say I was hesitant to try and replicate it at home because I figured no copy cat would live up to the original. I did gather up my courage though and after hours of browsing through tons of similar recipes I found one that sounded close to the real thing and gave it a whirl. I figured my days of soup like weather were dwindling and I didn't want to wait to next year to try it out. And what do you was good! Really good, not exactly the same, but close enough that it curbed the craving. So here I am sharing my copycat recipe of Olive Garden's Pasta Fagioli containing the modifications I made to it. Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients it is lengthy but not hard.

Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli Soup
Here's what you will need: 

1 pound ground beef ( I used Italian sausage, and I think it made ALL the difference)
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup) finely!
2 cloves garlic, minced ( I used a tad bit more but I have a garlic addiction)
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes ( I only used 1 because I don't like chunks!)
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 15-ounce can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce ( I actually ended up using 3 cans! It just looked to think for my taste)
1 12-ounce can V-8 juice ( Don't substitute!)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano ( I increased all the following spices by at least double)
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 pound (1/2 pkg.) ditali pasta ( I will decrease this next time by at least a third if not half)
1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat.
Drain off most of the fat. ( I did not find it necessary to drain any fat, I needed it to saute the veggies)
2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes.
3. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour. ( this is vital, the longer you simmer the better the spices come out!)
4. About 50 minutes into simmer time, cook the pasta in 1 1/2 to 2
quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just
until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain.
5. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5-10 minutes
and serve.
Serves 8.

I topped ours with fresh grated parmesan cheese and served with garlic breadsticks. SO authentic;) Enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Family Fridays-Gideyon & the Gum

So each Friday I think I will post an activity or a cute quip from a member of our family or the family as a whole. This week Gideyon steals the spotlight. The most memorable thing that has happened all week is when I asked my 6 year old what happened to his neck. He replied matter -a- factly " I tried to wrap my gum around my neck but it got stuck." He simply wanted to know if his gum would stretch all the way around his neck ("what's the problem with that, Mom?)This is what gum looks like on your child's neck after days of scrubbing to get it off with no avail:
Note how he is all smiles. His mom not so much! I truly wonder how that boys mind works sometimes, other times I am scared to know! Either way I am so glad he is mine:)
Caption should read: This is my beloved son in whom I am well amused!;)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursdays Theme- Cherries

Not sure I will stick with Thursdays as a "theme" day, however I was so excited about my purchase today at Sam's that I am really stuck on Cherries at the moment. Today while I was at Sam's I found Chudley's Cherry Blossoms! Now I will admit the berry kind are my favorite, but when you live in the sticks you will take whatever "blossom" you find. This lead me to think about other cherry items, both "likes" and "dislikes" . So since I LOVE a list I thought I would share them with you:)

Cherry Items I Like/Love:
  • Cherry Starburst
  • Cherry Blossom scent from Bath & Body (not Japanese Cherry Blossom!)
  • Cherry Turnovers (vs Apple Turnovers, but don't worry I will eat either!)
  • Black Cherry Juice from Welchs
  • Fresh Cherries ( Not sure which type, just not the tart ones )
Cherry Things that I Dislike/Hate:
  • Cherry scented CarFreshners (to sickly sweet!)
  • Cherry Preserves or Jam (to many chunks)
  • Cherry Pie (I don't like all the smooshy cherries)
  • Cherry Chapstick (makes me feel 6 years old)
  • Chocolate Covered Cherries (need I say more!!)
So I am sure that is not an all inclusive list so feel free to comment and let me know your likes/dislikes in the cherry category.

To round out this post I thought I would finish out with one of the only Cherry recipes I know. My mother in laws "Cherry Ice Box Dessert", she is somewhat famous for this dessert around her part of the country. This reminds me of a combo of 4 Layer Dessert and Cherry Cheesecake. Enjoy!

Goodman Cherry Ice Box Dessert
  • 2 sticks margarine (I use butter)
  • 2 Pkgs (Bricks) Graham Crackers finely Crushed
  • 2 Pkgs Dream Whip (you find this in the baking aisle in box)
  • 2-8 oz Pkgs Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Cans Cherry Pie Filling with some of the liquid removed ( I remove a lot of the juice personally)
Beat Margarine (I melt mine) and then mix in Cracker Crumbs. Press in bottom and up sides of 9x13 pan. Prepare Dream Whip according to package. Beat Cream Cheese with sugar in separate bowl. Combine Dream Whip mixture with Cream Cheese mixture. Spread over Graham Cracker Crust, then top with Pie filling. Let set up in Fridge for a couple hours. 
P.S. The original recipe called for 3 cans of cherry filling, my MIL said the cans used to be smaller. However I find 2 cans to be plenty! 
P.S.S. If you can't find Dream Whip you can subtitute Cool Whip. I will tell you though that Dream Whip does give it a little better consistency and changes the flavor slightly.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Works Wednesdays-Sally Hansen Insta Dri Polish

So I played with the name of Wednesdays theme a bit. Still trying to come up with something that isn't such a mouthful! Not entirely satisfied with this name either since my intent was not to only post stuff I like, but stuff I tried and want to keep you from trying cause it sucks! But I guess I will go with it for now.

Onto the Product:
My sister always teases me that the only thing I keep in excess is hygiene/grooming products. And while I don't like to admit it she is right. I have gone through 3 different types of shampoos,conditioners, and body washes (each!) in the last 2 months. I refuse to use up a product I don't love, however when I do love something I tend to buy it in excess. See when I love a product the manufacturers are instantly alerted and discontinue the item withing months normally!

All that to say that I recently tried a product that has been out for a while and found that I adore it! It is Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color.

I picked these up at Wally World. They cost around $5. So while they aren't the cheapest Polish there they are totally worth it!This stuff does everything it touts. Not only does it dry within minutes you only need one coat! No primer, no topcoat, just one (albeit liberal) coat:) The last time I used this polish was right before Easter and it held up with chipping for about 10 days. Now granted I don't wear a lot of closed toed shoes, but I thought that was pretty dang good for a 2 minute pedicure. I used my lovely model Gilly to show off the pretty coral color.

I figured you would rather look at her cute little pigs than my fat feet. Plus I was wearing the darker color which isn't the best in photos and has been on now for about 2 weeks;P. So now no excuses to not have pretty sandal ready toes. Let me know what colors you try!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays-My Easy "Salsa"

This is really not a very authentic version of salsa. In fact NO real vegetables are harmed in the making of this salsa. But to me that is part of the appeal. See I HATE big chunks in my salsa, plus I almost always have the ingredients on hand for this.

Here's what you will need:

-1 Can Diced Tomatoes (I usually Drain because I don't like my salsa soupy, but you may:)
-1 Can Ro Tel (Again I Drain! see above note)
-1 Tsp Garlic Salt
-1 Tsp Ground Cumin
-1 TBS Sugar
- Chopped fresh Jalapeno to taste

Ok are you ready for these complicated steps? Huh are you?? Well here they are:

Put all above in Blender/Food Processor and pulse till desired consistancy! Seriously thats all! And honestly I have used both my Food Processor and my Blender and they work equally well:)
Serve with Tortilla Chips and Refrigerate leftovers ( salsa tends to keep for about a week or so).

Ok important side notes about ingredients! I have never used the above tomatoes before and honestly didn't care for it. I normally use regular diced petite tomatoes with better success. Also I choose the mexican blend of rotel because I adore cilantro, however please use what ever type your family would prefer:) Normally I just kinda eyeball all the spices, but I suggest you start out with the above amounts and work down or up from there. In my personal blend I WAY up the cumin and sometimes the sugar. You may prefer more garlic, but from personal experience I can tell you that amount of garlic usually doesn't require much adjusting. Also if you think you don't like Cumin please don't leave it out! Try even just 1/2 a tsp, it really does make this dish. Not world famous or anything but I find it fun and different, and most important EASY!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blog Overhaul!!

It's long overdue so here it is! I am officially overhauling my blogging life. If you have met me you know that I LOVE a LIST! I have been told that I obsessively organize and I admit I do love a routine. SO why I never adopted that attitude towards my blog I will never figure out. However now that I have had that revelation I am applying it. My new blog will have a structure/routine. I am going to have some sort of theme for the 5 weekdays. Does this mean I will post a new blog every day? Chances are good....NO! I had an epiphany not an intervention! Yet I think going to my computer everyday and having some direction in which to take my blogging will increase the postings. So with out further ado my new blogging schedule:

Manic Mondays- this will be my "free" day, I may post ANY random thoughts I want that day.
Tasty Tuesdays- Maybe my weekly menu, usually a recipe and hopefully a picture. Let me know what you want to see here and I will do my best.
What I tried Wednesdays- This one is a mouthful so if you have a better name please send it to me! I often get asked about new products I have tried or even things I have use that just work! So on this day I will post a product that I have tried or I currently use and give it my "Robyn Rating". Suggestions for products are welcome:)
Thursdays??- Ok honestly I am stumped as to what to post Thursdays but I didn't want to put my blog on hold while I figured it out.
Family Fridays- I will try and post quips and pics from current family going ons.

Wish me luck! I am not so good with the posting of pics and all of this together will be a learning experience. I am excited about it though and hope it is as fun as I think it will! Kels, Aunt Dawn, even Clare hope you are prepared to field some questions about posting pics, linking things etc!