Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

I have decided that after a year of writing the Cupcake Spotlight, to change things up a bit.  I will still post delicious recipes for the tiny cake treats, but I would like to feature cookies for the next chapter of my blog. 

I am debuting Cookie Corner!! I will feature a special cookie each month.  The cookies will vary in degree of difficulty, and once again I hope to coordinate them with the seasons.  I will post the recipe on the Cookie Corner tab of My Little Blogspot.  Also, unlike Cupcake Spotlight, I will post the recipe on the Recipes at a Glance page.  This way, you can build your cookie arsenal and have an easy way to look back at recipes for the holidays.

The first Cookie Corner is in honor of a fellow blogger.  Her blog was a huge inspiration for me to start my own blog.  The Gourmand Mom produces a stellar blog with fresh ideas and true gourmet dishes.  Among these recipes, she posted a recipe for Vanilla Cherry Drops.  I made it at the holidays and they were delicious.  When I was making them, I thought I should try them sometime with a chocolate dough.  Chocolate and cherries are  a classic combination, and now they can be enjoyed in this cookie.

The only real difference between the original recipe and the chocolate version, is a substitution of cocoa powder for a portion of the flour.  I also refrigerate the dough before forming the cookies to help to cookie hold it's shape and to keep from spreading too much.


3 sticks Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar
1 Egg
2 teaspoons Vanilla
3 cups Flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 dozen Marashino Cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla.  Slowly add flour and cocoa powder.  Refrigerate dough for about 10 minutes.  Using a small cookie scoop, portion out cookies into balls, approximately 1 inch in diameter.  Press a cherry into the middle of each cookie.  Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 15 to 17 minutes.  The cookie dough will no longer have a sheen when they are done.  Allow to cool on the pan for a couple of minutes, then move to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, June 24, 2011

W.H.A.L.E. : Important Information For All Parents

About a week ago, I read an article posted by a friend concerning a car accident.  Here is the link for the original article.

As a parent, this article touched me on many levels.  I also started thinking about what would happen if I got into a car accident by myself with the boys.  I always seem to think I am invincible.  I would be perfectly fine and level headed during an accident.  However, the reality is, I might be in shock or unconscious.  If that were to happen I would want the response team to be able to help my children and call my emergency contact.

Immediately after reading the article I order my W.H.A.L.E. (We Have A Little Emergency) kits for the car seats.  We have three car seats, two for my car and one for Jay's.  I ordered one kit for every car seat.  The kit is easy to fill out.  Simply fill out the information sticker with your emergency contact information and your child's name and D.O.B. (I also included my children's allergies to medications.)  Place the sticker on the back or bottom of the car seat, where it is not visible from the window.  (This insures your child's privacy.)  Then place the Whale stickers on the window of the car and the car seat, so emergency responders know you participate in the program.  They will know to look for the information sticker.

I now have a little more peace of mind when I travel with the kids.  Whether it's going to the grocery store or on a long trip, I know first responders will have more information to help us.  I feel anyone who has a child in their car at anytime should have these kits on the safety seats.  Parents, grandparents, and child care givers, please pass this information along to your loved ones.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Funnel Cakes

Father's Day in our house was celebrated with surf n' turf.  I prepared lobster tails, while Jay prepared the steaks.  After dinner, I wanted to make something special for dessert.  I thought an appropriate summer time treat was funnel cakes.

We have enjoyed funnel cakes in our home for years.  Most people treat themselves to this sweet dough at a fair or carnival.  In all honesty it is so simple and inexpensive to make , there is no reason not to enjoy them more often at home.

If you have the ingredients to make pancakes or waffles, you can make funnel cakes.  As for the toppings, anything goes.  We use cinnamon sugar, powder sugar, fresh berries, whipped cream, or chocolate syrup.  Anything you top an ice cream sundae with, you can top a funnel cake.  Go ahead and gives these a try.  The only problem is, your family will beg for you to make them all the time :o)

Linking to these parties.
recipe (makes approximately 5 cakes)

1 1/4 C. unsifted flour
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 C. milk (I used skim)

Vegetable oil for frying. The amount you use depends on the depth of the pan.  I used a 1 1/2 qt. pan and filled it about 2 inches high, approximately 1 1/2 C. oil.

In a large bowl, preferably one with a pour spout, combine all the ingredients.  Mix well. If your bowl does not have a pour spout, you can transfer the batter to a large squeeze bottle.

In a medium stock pot, fill with about 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat, until you reach 350 degrees.  If you don't have a thermometer, drop a teaspoon of batter into the oil, if it bubbles up immediately, the oil is hot enough.

Once the oil is hot, in a circular motion, drizzle the batter.  Then change directions and pour back and forth.  This creates the funnel cake pattern, with some holes in it.  Fry in the oil until golden brown (about 2 minutes), then flip over with tongs or large metal spoon.  Cook on the other side another minute or two. 

Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.  Top immediately with sugars, fruit, or syrups.  Serve warm.

Use a small sauce pot, the size of the pan determines the size of the cake

Mine topped with berries

Jay's topped with a lot of sugar!

Adam being patient, while I take pictures for the blog :o)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Love My Mia

Oil slicks, rough terrain, uneven texture, cracks and crevices, dry patches.  What I am describing?  No, its not the wilderness or desert, it is my 30 something face. 

When I was in my twenties, I never gave a second thought to my skin.  I sometimes took of my makeup before going to bed, and even possibly used a moisturizer.  It was really no big worry.  I would have the occasional pimple, but nothing a good concealer couldn't take care of.   Fast forward ten years and two babies later.  Oh my gosh, maintenance on my face has become a full time job.

A few years ago, I started to notice fine lines setting in.  The breakouts would come more frequently.  This last year, I have noticed a huge change and not for the good.  I have been using Philosophy products for several years, and I am a true Philosophy Girl.  Still my skin is just lacking the radiance I had in my 20's. 

So, I have been watching the buzz around a product called Clarisonic.  At first, I couldn't justify the $200 price tag that accompanied a tool to help clean your face.  I heard celebrities rave about it, beauty editors dedicating articles to it, and of course QVC running hour long shows on this one product.  A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that QVC had a Today's Special Value for the Clarisonic.  I said to myself, if it around a $100, I'll try it.  The Clarisonic Mia (the smaller version) appeared for $125.   I made the decision to purchase it, and figured I had QVC's money back guarantee. 

My Mia arrived a week ago.  I charged it and that night cleansed my face.  I'll be honest, no noticeable difference on the first use, except for the amount of make-up it removed.  A week later I have noticed a change in the texture and smoothness of my skin.  I have also notice the appearance of pores and "black heads" on my nose are diminishing.  I'm hooked.  The Clarisonic stays and hopefully a new start to better skin.

I know it is a considered purchase.  I also just realize I have outed myself to my husband as to how much it is :o)  Hopefully he won't be too mad, considering it will make me look better, right?  It's also on easy pay, so not that much of a hit on the credit card every month.  I definitely think it would make a lovely present for a birthday or the holidays. 

Here's a picture of mine in the pink paisley.  Oh, and notice the new Vera Bradley cosmetic bag behind it, in Twirly Bird Pink.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rainbow Cake

As you saw in my previous post, we had a magical birthday extravaganza.  Adam's request for his birthday cake was it had to be rainbow.  Back in March, I had posted a rainbow cupcake for Cupcake Spotlight and Adam told me then, that's what he wanted for his birthday.

The process is quite simple and the effect is very special.  Don't limit yourself to just rainbow colors either.  For a princess party, use pink, purple and white. For the 4th of July use white, red, and blue.  The possibilities are endless.


1 white or yellow cake mix, prepared according to box instructions
food color, I used Betty Crocker gel colors
2- 8 inch cake pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix according to package instructions.  Next divide the batter into six even amounts.  My cake mix yielded 5 cups so I had approximately six bowls filled with 3/4 c. each.  Using gel colors, tint the batter to desired colors.

Next with your greased cake pans, start pouring three of the colors into a pan.  This requires a slight bit of thinking. You want to put colors that compliment each other in the same pan.  For example, I poured the red, yellow, and orange together.  Then the blue, green, and purple.  Pour one color at a time directly into the center of the pan. Don't worry about spreading it or making it even, they colors will level themselves out as you pour.

Bake according the package instructions.  Allow to cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Then remove from pan an allow to cool to room temperature on a baking rack.

Frost and decorate with your favorite frosting and sprinkles.

***If you are doing cupcakes pour approximately one teaspoon of each color into each cupcake well.  One teaspoon of all six colors, fills it about 2/3 full. Bake according to cupcake instructions.***

Rainbow Cupcakes

Monday, June 13, 2011

Abracadabra: A Simple Guide To A Kids Magic Party

The party day came and went, and in my opinion was just perfect.  My little boy enjoyed an afternoon with friends and family, and thanks to video will have this memory forever.

The planning part was actually quite simple.  In years past when throwing a party, I always wanted to cram too much into an event.  As all experiences provide a lesson, I learned that a few simple, heartfelt ideas can go a long way.

Adam requested a magic party.  I went to my favorite party supply website, Oriental Trading, and started to scope things out.  To my surprise, I found plates, napkins, party favor ideas, and decorations.

I wanted a few simple activities for the kids to do as they arrived.  I decided on "magic" bookmarks, that when the kids draw on a their design it is revealed in rainbow colors.  The kids also decorated their own magician hats with stickers.

The food was also kept simple.  I ordered pizza, and provided fruit skewers and a vegetable platter.

After the meal was complete we enjoyed a rainbow cake, which I will give step by step instructions to in tomorrow's post.

To round out the activities we had a pinata and a magic show.  The price of magicians for a children's party can be very expensive, so I enlisted my husband to provide the entertainment.  The guests and myself were pleasantly surprised as how good he actually was.  He learned tricks the month prior from a magic book.

Finally as the kids were heading home we offered them a few party favors. Included in the bag were magic tattoos, stickers, their own box of tricks, and a magic wand.  I made the magic wands from doweling and then painted them with sparkle paint.

My best advice for giving a party, is keep it simple and stick to one theme.  My next project: Brandon's Toy Story birthday in November!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hectic Week

I'm sure most parents will agree with me, the month of June is down right CRAZY!!!  The school year is coming to an end, and it seems more and more projects are coming about.  I just got a notice home yesterday  Adam will be in an end of the year play.  GREAT, right??? Well now I have to make him a fox costume for his role as Foxy Loxy from Chicken Little.  It never ends.

I know it will only get harder as the boys get older, with more involvement in different activities.  The other item I am preparing for is Adam's 6th birthday party this weekend.  Now Adam really won't turn six until July, but he really wanted a friends birthday party.  We are always back in our hometown for his birthday, and he doesn't have the  opportunity to celebrate with his school friends.  So after he gave a bunch of logical reasons why he should have a party early, we gave in.  He gave a really good argument ;o) 

Then I asked him, "What kind of party do you want?"  He replied almost instantly, "Magic!"  So I started my online search for magical ideas and party supplies.  To my surprise, there were plenty of ideas, and I came up with a few of my own.  The only other request was for a rainbow cake, similar to the cupcakes I made in March.

Next week I will post the entire party.  I have ideas for decorations, activities, party favors, food, and of course the cake!  Have a safe and sane rest of the week, and I will see you soon with our magical festivities.

p.s.  I also have company coming this weekend too!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cupcake Spotlight (June 2011)

Is it a cookie? Is it a cupcake? It's a mix between the two.  I started making these about 15 years ago.  I loved a store at our local mall called Original Cookie (who since has been taken over by Mrs. Field's).  They had these little delectable cookies filled with frosting.  Every time I would go the mall, I would buy one.  The only thing was, they were super expensive.

This began my quest to making my own version.  After several attempts, I came up with the process.  It's not hard, but does involve a few steps.  Also, I discovered using Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough does work best.  Homemade doughs tend to be too soft, and wind up burning the edges before the center gets cooked. 

I thought these would be perfect to make for 4th of July.  They travel well to parties and picnics, and are always a crowd pleaser. Decorate them with festive sprinkles and you are guaranteed to be a hit.


Click here for recipe.
Linking to these parties.