Friday, August 31, 2012

Fall Trail Mix {with FREE printable}

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Strawberry Creme Cupcakes


Is it really only Monday? It's really amazing how stay at home moms can juggle several kids, chores, laundry, appointments, get food in everybody's belly 3 times a day and yet still have no idea what day of the week it is...seriously. As I was planning out things that need to be done this week and activities that are going on I had to pause for a moment....wait is only Monday? For real? Apparently I have completely lost my sense of routine around here..or maybe it's just that I'm really looking forward to this coming weekend and next week's activities and I was in denial. :) Either way, it' still Monday. 

A neighbor of ours asked me this morning if I had any quick and easy dessert ideas for a last minute meeting tonight. Why yes, actually a whole blog full lol. As I looked to the cupboards for a quick fix I remembered I have been needing to share these cupcakes for awhile now. I have been asked for this recipe many times...and I've just never got around to sharing it here. 

Lot's of people come to me asking what strawberry cake I use, because they've just had no luck with different recipes they have tried. I also tried many strawberry recipes and just didn't have any luck. Fresh strawberries just didn't bring the sweetness I was looking for and the box stuff wasn't perfect either. Until I happened to come across some strawberry creme Jell-o pudding to! It made a really great cake mix add in and it was so good when we taste tested it I thought why not fill the cupcake with it too?! Everybody seemed to love it and always wanted to know what is in the center. I always get a kick out of their surprise when I say it's pudding. Why does everybody assume baking has to be so complex?! 

So here's the stars of my strawberry creme cupcakes. If your looking for something fun and a little different these cupcakes will do! Do you remember those strawberry creme lifesavers they use to make with a white and pink swirl....that's what it reminds me of. Super yummy. I have made this cake many many times and I have found that not all grocery stores carry it,  but I have had great luck at finding it in Wal-Mart no matter the state I'm in. 

I like Pillsbury for this flavor of cake, it has this little bit of strawberry in it. I like to pair the strawberry cupcake with a white vanilla buttercream but if your a huge fan of strawberry I would try mixing in a packet of Duncan Hines Strawberry Shortcake Frosting Creations. I also generally top these with a fresh slice of strawberry which of course I was out of today...and just about every other red thing I could think of! I came across some left over nips from the apple pretzels and ended up cutting out little strawberries with a circle and star cutter..not bad for last minute :).

Ready to whip up some strawberry sweetness? 

Here's what your going to need:

1 Box strawberry cake
1/2 Box of Strawberry creme Jell-o
(Note: you will need 2 boxes of strawberry creme pudding total)
1 Cup Water
4 Eggs
1/3 Cup Oil
1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 Box Strawberry Creme Jell-o pudding
3 Cups milk

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup crisco
1 TBS vanilla
8 cups powdered sugar (1 2lb bag)
4-6 TBS milk

 Makes 24 cupcakes.
Preheat oven to 350.

Step 1: Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake wrappers. Mix together cake mix, 1/2 box pudding, water, eggs, oil, and sour cream. You can measure out the pudding packet if you'd like but I just kind of eye it.

Step 2: Spoon 3 TBS of batter into each cupcake liner. This batter will be thick.

Step 3: Bake at 350 for about 16 minutes. The cupcakes will just be starting to brown on the top and a toothpick will come out clean of course. Place on a cooling rack to cool.

Step 4: While cupcakes are cooling pour 1 1/2 boxes of pudding into a bowl, add 3 cups of milk. Beat for two minutes. Sit in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes while the cupcakes are cooling.

Step 5: Once cupcakes are cool use an large round icing tips to create room to fill you cupcakes. (More shown here)

Step 6: Place the firmed pudding into a piping bag with a round tip and fill cupcakes. To fill start with tip inserted in cupcake and pull up while applying pressure, do this slowly.

Now for the icing.

 Step 7: Beat together crisco and unsalted butter. When blended well add vanilla. Slowly add in powdered sugar until fully combined. Now add in milk one TBS at a time until desired consistency. Pipe on to cupcakes.

Please note that these cupcakes will need to be stored in the fridge until close to serving time, warm pudding is no good ;) That was pretty easy right? I love making treats from such regular ingredients and are so quick even us stay at home moms covered in paint and stuck to a toddler can make...even if we don't know what day of the week it is. After all aren't cupcakes good any day of the week?

Happy Baking!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Brownie Batter Frosting

Don't be fooled by these cupcakes. They may be showered in bits of pink and purple but they are far from innocent. This brownie batter frosting is sinful. Remember when I made the chocolate chip cookie dough icing? Since then I've been wanting to try other batter icings because lets face it everybody loves licking the spoon clean. I've always experimented with icing adding in flavoring and syrups ect. But recently I've figured icing can be just about anything....who says icing must consist of mainly butter and sugar? Why not swap out the powdered sugar with brownie mix? So I did....and it was amazing. 

I first tried it with just butter, crisco, and milk and it was good don't get me wrong. Just a bit too "grainy". I knew if wouldn't be as smooth as a regular icing because after all it was brownie after all. I went to the fridge in search of something to help and there sat the Milk Chocolate Indulgence by Philadelphia. BINGO. I've been waiting to come up with something to try it out and this was the perfect combo. It made the brownie batter much smoother and just a little bit creamier.


If your wondering what cupcakes are hiding underneath, they are of course brownie cupcakes. I played with the brownie mix a bit to get it a little softer and more cake like so it wouldn't be little brownie pucks under a pile of icing. It's still not perfect, but I couldn't not share the icing with you. My husband and kids loved them just the way they were but you could swap out with regular chocolate cake, or brownies, cookies, heck I'm pretty sure my kids would eat it on their vegetables if I let them. If your wanting to try out the brownie cupcakes ... I simply added 4 eggs 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup of sour cream to the brownie mix. Then I filled the cupcake wrappers with 5 TBS each and baked at 350 for 20 minutes. (the wrappers will be very full because the brownies rise very little)Ready to whip up some brownie batter frosting?

Here's what your going to need:

1 Box Duncan Hines Brownie
1Stick Butter 
1/2 cup Crisco
1 Philadelphia milk chocolate indulgence
4-6 TBS Milk (whoops he didn't make it to the photo op) 

Step 1: Beat the butter and crisco together.

Step 2: Mix in the milk chocolate indulgence until fully combined.

Step 3: Slowly add brownie mix.

Step 4: Add milk one 4-6 TBS at a time until desired consistency. The more you add the softer it will become.

Step 6: Pipe on to some of your favorite brownies, cupcakes, etc or just sit and eat it from a bowl :).

I only made a small batch of cupcakes to try these out so now I have a half batch of brownie batter icing leftover in the fridge. Oh what to do...

Happy baking!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to School Treat: Apple Pretzels

I've been kinda behind on the whole back to school thing. My excuses are: school it still a few weeks away in our area...and I don't have a child really going "back to school". Our oldest however, is headed to school for the first time. She's going into Pre-K which happens to be in elementary school here and 5 days a week. So it feels like "big kid school" to her and me. So I wanted to make at least a little something to send with her to start out the school year right and these little apples are going to work just perfect! So for those of us that were procrastinating or waiting for the right moment... I think these cute little chocolate covered pretzels will be gladly welcomed by both students or teacher. Heck my kids have been eyeing these since the moment they got up waiting for the moment mommy says they may have a bite. Who knew and pretzel deisguised as an apple would be such a hit?! I have to say these could be one of my favorite pretzels I've made...and I've made my fair share.

Just the other day I was looking through the Target 1.00 spot..because that's where the world's best little trinkets are kept of course. (I firmly believe it is physically impossible for a momma to run into Target without at least checking the dollar spot) I was in need of a few new buckets and was happy to see some silver ones. Much to my surprise however there was a little chalkboard spot on each of them! They made the perfect little tote to send off these apples with Cadence on her first day of Pre-K!

I took a quick stroll through the candy aisle to find some edible stems and leaves. I was happy to find these little sour rips that were perfect to cut leaves from and small chunks of Hershey bar made the stems delicious :).

Here's what you will need:

Red Candy Melts
Large Pretzels
Hershey Bar
Small leaf cutter of scissors
Wax Paper

Step 1: Using the green rips, cut out the little leaves with a small leave cutter. The one I used came from a Wilton fondant set. However, if you don't have one you can use a pair of kitchen scissors to free hand some leafs, they are easy enough. 

Step 2: Now cut little stems from your Hershey bar. I cut each Hershey square into half one way then the opposite way then trimmed one side to get a small angle.

Step 3: Before you melt your chocolate lay everything out, organized and ready to go. As I've said so many times when your working with chocolate you want everything in order to make the process smooth. You can lay you finised pretzels on wax paper or on a cookie cooling rack over wax paper. I prefer it on the cooling rack so the excess drips off and doesn't pool around it.

Step 4: In a microwave safe bowl melt your chocolate (I do about 3/4 cup at a time) using 15 second spurts stirring in between. Your chocolate should be nice and smooth when melted easy to drip off the pretzel. If you need help thinning it a bit add a small amount of crisco and heat.

Step 5: Holding your pretzel on a fork use a spoon to spoon the chocolate on to the pretzel. Then gently tap fork on side of bowl until excess had dripped off. Then move to cooling rack.

Step 6: After the chocolate coating has set (about and hour) move them onto a fresh piece of wax paper.

Step 7: To attach the leaf and stem. Place a small amount of chocolate in a ziplock and melt in microwave. Cut tip of ziplock then use to pipe chocolate onto the end of each stem then "glue" to pretzel. Once you have done your stems repeat process with leaves using icing on the back to attach.

And that's it! Wasn't that easy? These are super quick and easy to make.  Even those who couldn't frost a cake to save their life...could make some pretty cute pretzels apples. And no oven required. :)

Just a little tip for the chalkboard. Instead of using actual chalk (ew, I have major chalk issues) I used some white water color and painted the A+ on. Works like a charm. You could add their teachers name or another cute little message. It wipes off with a damp cloth but doesn't rub off when touched. I plan on sticking the entire thing in a clear favor bag and adding some ribbon when transporting.

Monday, August 20, 2012

S'mores Pocket Pies

I am super excited about the thought of fall. I. Can't. Wait. Ready for the cool weather, the beautiful colors, wonderful scents, pumpkin patches, bonfires...I get like this every year about this time. I just want to press fast forward a bit and skip to the fun stuff :)

Today I'm sharing a dessert perfect for the end of the summer season and start of fall. S'more desserts seem to be all the rage today and I'm sure your pintrest feed is full of them, but you won't mind just one more right? A few weeks ago I received this cut and seal little gadget from pampered chef (thanks mom!). It cuts and presses food into these little pocket sandwiches, just like the Smuckers uncrustables. We use it all the time to make homemade uncrustables, which my kids love. Today I finally got the time to try it out in a different way, I think this could be one of my new favorite tools! Also they are super affordable at only $10.00. It is so easy to create little single serving desserts perfect for the little kids and the big ones. I can't wait to try some other flavors now!

And maybe just maybe I'll be giving on of these away soon So if your not a Facebook follower yet you may want to stop by our page and say hello. :)

...but don't worry if you don't have one of these little guys and you've just got to make some of these little pocket pies. You can simply use a circle cookie cutter and press together the edges, or even use a dull knife pressing little slits around the edge about a cm apart.

Here's what you going to need:

1 package pie crust
1 jumbo Hershey's candy bar or regular small bars
1 7oz jar of marshmallow cream (I had a large one on hand)
warm water

Sandwich cutter/circle cutter
Parchment paper
Rolling pin

Makes 10 mini pies.
Preheat oven to 400.

Step 1: Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: Break up Hershey bar into tiny little pieces. If your wondering why you can't just stick them on there in the pre made's because they don't melt well.

Step 3: Open both rolls of pie crust and lay flat on clean surface.

Step 4: On one piece of pie crust use cutter to gently mark circles into the dough. This will give you a little guide to help keep the filling in place. Don't push all the way down you just want a very light mark. I was able to get 7 out on the first round.

Step 5: Spoon about 1 TBS of Hershey chunks into the center of the circles. Keeping the chocolate on bottom and the marshmallow on top allows the chocolate to melt and the marshmallow to rise into a nice shape.

Step 6: Spoon about 1 1/2 TBS of marshmallow fluff onto of the chocolate.

Step 7: Use a clean finger to trace some warm water around where the lines are in the dough. This will help the two doughs stick.

Step 8: Gently lay the second pie crust over the first. Now gently press around the little mounds and smooth out the dough. 

Step 9: Line up your cutter above the center mound and cut. If your using a cut and seal like mine I found the trick was to push down on the outside first to cut then press straight down on the spring to crimp. Pull up and push the spring again to release. Then lay on parchment paper. If your not using a cut and seal simply cut the circles first, remove excess dough, then crimp the edges all the way around using you finger tip or by making marks with a butter knife.

You can then ball up your excess dough and roll it out again to make several more.

Step 10: Line up on a parchment sheet and bake
 at 400 for 12-14 minutes. I'm a burnaphob so I like mine on the soft golden side :)

Now just give them a few minutes to cool off a bit and enjoy. Yum-O. These are really great for the kiddos. I think even my toddlers could handle these without needing a bath....maybe. And surprisingly they were pretty good cool too and easy to rewarm back up! 

Happy Baking!