April 20, 2014

Ham and Cheese Sliders

YUM.  A friend made these for our last Pinterest party, and I knew immediately that my husband would love them.  The warm gooey cheesy ham middle with the mustard sauce is just awesome.  This is the recipe she used, and I adapted it just by halving everything because I was making it as a quick dinner to use some of our Easter ham, not as an appetizer for a party.  Easy, quick, and super tasty, this recipe is all around win.


Ingredients (makes 12 sliders; enough to serve 3-4)
  • 12 dinner rolls (I used mini kaiser rolls)
  • 12 pieces honey ham
  • 12 small slices Swiss cheese
  • Mayonnaise (about 1/3 cup will be enough for all 12 sandwiches)
Poppy seed sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 3/4 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Spread mayonnaise onto the inside of both halves of each roll.  Assemble sandwiches with a slice of ham and cheese on each roll.  Place snugly in a baking dish or rimmed cookie sheet (I used a 9x13 baking dish).
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the poppy seed sauce ingredients.  Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches.  Set aside 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350° 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted.  Uncover and cook 2 additional minutes until tops are slightly brown and crispy.  Serve warm.

Super Easy Rainbow Cake

I'm sure we've all seen the rainbow cake/cheesecake pins all over Pinterest, which often don't actually link to a recipe.  After investigating a few and some Google searching, I realized the "recipe" is really all about the technique of laying your dyed batter so you get the rainbow look in the end product.  That lesson learned, you can do this with any cake recipe, including simple boxed cake mix!  Keep it simple with white (premade) frosting and sprinkles, and this cake can lead you to crazy impressive results for minimal effort.  BINGO.

Look at that beauty!  Full on double rainbow across the plate.


So the trick here is that you mix your cake batter, separate out into 6 equal portions in bowls, mugs, whatever you have on hand, and dye each portion a different color.  You layer the batter by pouring into the center of your cake pan, and then pour the following colors in the center one by one.  This approach spreads out the layers below evenly.

See?

What's fun is deciding how to layer or change up your rainbow.  My cake is kind of reversed/upside down.  I poured in the purple first, then did the rainbow in reverse.  This gave me the fun red center spreading out to a thin purple edge, but had I started with red as the first color and flipped my cakes upside down, you can see how I'd have perfect Rainbow Brite style rainbows going on.  Bottom line?  Be creative, don't overthink it, and just have fun with the colorful result.

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix and required ingredients (likely eggs and vegetable oil)
  • 1 container frosting
  • Food coloring (at least red, yellow, and blue)
  • Sprinkles

Directions
  1. Prepare cake batter according to package directions.  Divide equally into 6 different mugs/containers- probably ~2/3 cups in each.
  2. Dye each portion a different color of the rainbow.
  3. Prepare cake pan(s).  I used two 9" round nonstick pans, which I coated with butter.  Pour half of your first batter color into the center of one pan, and the other half into the center of the other, to have identical cakes.  Pour half of the second color slowly and evenly into the center of your 1st batter color in pan 1; repeat in pan 2.  This should slowly spread out the first color, with the 2nd color making a circle in the middle.  Repeat with remaining colors.  When done, wiggle and/or tap your batter if it isn't filling the pan fully or is lopsided.  I did, and it wiggled the whole mixture well without making the colors bleed.
  4. Bake according to package directions.  Cool completely.
  5. Optional- trim the rounded top off of each cake to get a more professional look, not the rounded look I have.  In my opinion, though, rounded makes sense for a rainbow cake!
  6. Frost the top of one cake, layer on the 2nd, and cover the entire cake in frosting.  Add sprinkles and you're done!  

April 6, 2014

Egg Carton Bouquet of Flowers

This is the perfect weekend craft with a toddler.  Fine motor skills not needed from your helper, and pretty much no matter what you get an adorable result.


For our display, I first cut the cups off an empty egg carton, cut and shaped in different flower styles, and then let the painting rumpus start.  Once dry, a quick slit with an x-acto knife in the bottom of each cup made it easy to slide the flowers onto their popsicle stick stems.  A quick rummage through the recycling bin turned up our vase- an empty Morton's salt container.  We covered with scrapbook paper my son picked out (I am in love with this notion of having a huge pad of scrapbook paper on hand!), plopped in our flowers, and we were golden!
The beauty of this, though, is that you can really use any supplies you have on hand.  The egg carton flowers are light enough that I think you could use pipe cleaners or even twisted and painted newspaper for your stems.  Any empty container can be your vase.  I liked ours because I could cut slits with the x-acto knife to position our popsicle stick stems, but you could do the same with an empty oatmeal container turned upside down, or even a plastic tub like a yogurt cup.  To decorate the vase, you can use wrapping paper, construction paper, or just continue to break out the paints if you don't have scrapbook paper.

March 23, 2014

Kahlua-espresso chocolate chip cookies

This awesome cookie comes courtesy of a new cookbook I got for Christmas- The Recipe Girl Cookbook.  Lori also has the recipe on her website if you want to take a look.  The flavors work so well, and the cinnamon is a nice mix in with the chocolate and coffee flavors.  YUM.


Ingredients
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua or other coffee liqueur*
  • 1/2 tablespoon espresso powder (found in the coffee aisle)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
  • 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the Kahlua and espresso powder.  Stir until the espresso powder is dissolved.
  4. Melt the 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips in a small bowl by microwaving at 50% power, stirring at 30-second intervals until just melted.  My chips are usually melted after 1 1/2 minutes.  Set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until creamy (~2 minutes).  Add the Kahlua mixture, eggs, and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly combined.  Add the melted chocolate and continue to beat until mixed in.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix until flour is just incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Drop the the cookie dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown and no longer gooey in the middle.  Let cool on cookie sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
*Note: If you don't want to use the Kahlua, just increase the vanilla extract to 1 tablespoon and dissolve the espresso powder in the vanilla instead.

March 19, 2014

Nutella French Toast Rolls

Every once in a while, the internet presents you with something so amazing, so perfect, that it MUST be a part of your life immediately.  This week, the internet blessed me with Nutella rolls.  A friend posted a pic on FB, I needed info STAT, her husband shared the very simple recipe, and I made them tonight.  Heaven.

EXTRA LARGE PIC FOR EXTRA LARGE DELICIOSITY.

Ingredients
  • Slice of bread, crusts cut off, rolled thin
  • ~1 tablespoon Nutella per slice of bread
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Pat of butter
  • Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top
Directions
  1. Cut crusts from bread and roll out with a rolling pin.  Spread Nutella down the center of each slice of bread.  Roll up one nutella-free side to the other.
  2. Set a pan on medium heat and melt a pat of butter in the pan.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk with a fork.  Dredge rolled bread in egg mixture and shake off excess.
  4. Lay rolled bread gently in heated pan and cook until golden on each side, about 1-2 minutes per side.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar as soon as removed from pan.  Serve warm.
What is so perfect about this recipe is that you can quickly whip up just a couple rolls as a snack like my pregnant self did, or churn out a dozen in short order for breakfast or dessert with the family.
It's a new world, people.  A delicious new world.

March 16, 2014

Vacation Goody Bags

Continuing the post catch up, here's something I did in September and wanted to share.  My husband and I were going on a long vacation, but our son wasn't coming with us.  While he stayed with my mom, I wanted to leave him some goody bags to make it easier to adjust with us gone, and also have a count down to know when we'd be back.  It worked wonderfully!  I just collected some small toys and books from a little toy store near my house (each item only a dollar or two) and put them in paper bags.  Easy to do with a big payoff.  Perfect!


Supplies

  • Paper bags
  • Small toys, stickers, and books (1 for each day you are gone)
  • Markers
  • Tape
Directions
  1. On each paper bag, write a day of the week when you'll be gone, with a countdown saying how many days until you're back.  (Tuesday, September 24.  Mommy + Daddy will be back in 4 days!)
  2. Put a toy in the bag and tape closed.
  3. Repeat for each day you'll be gone.  Try to vary up the toys to spread out similar items so they don't get all the stickers at once, then all the books, etc.

Woodland Monogram

I've been having a lot of fun putting together different things for a woodland nursery for this baby to come in July.  When we found out we were having a girl, it helped a lot to direct those little details, such as how to decorate this monogram I want to hang over her crib.  A mossy letter with just a few ladybugs and a butterfly has that little girl touch without being crazy glitzy girly.  I love it!




Supplies
  • Large monogram (I chose a painted one instead of plain)
  • Green craft moss
  • Brown craft moss (I think it was called reindeer moss)
  • Paper mache ladybugs
  • Fabric butterfly
  • Glue, such as Tacky Glue
  • Large frame proportional to letter (mine is 10x13)
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Hot glue
  • Glue stick
  • X-acto knife
Directions
  1. Spread glue evenly on letter surface, working in small sections at a time.  Cover with green moss, pressing down firmly.  Continue until entire surface is covered with moss.  Press down firmly all over, and tap letter against table top to shake off excess and loose pieces.
  2. Glue portions of brown moss and place on monogram.  Allow to dry (will dry clear).
  3. Glue lady bugs and butterfly in place.  Allow everything to dry.
  4. Depending on the size of your scrapbook paper, you may need to trim and arrange it to fit so that it fills out the frame.  Glue scrapbook paper to frame backing so it is secure and lays flat (I prefer a glue stick for this purpose).
  5. Lay monogram where you want it to be placed in the frame.  Lightly mark edges with pencil.  Set the letter aside, then use the x-acto knife to cut away a sliver of scrapbook paper under where the monogram will be.  This way the monogram will be affixed directly to the frame backing, and not just to the scrapbook paper.
  6. Hot glue the back of the letter, then lay in place on scrapbook paper on top of cut away portions.  Press firmly and allow to dry.
  7. Hang and admire every day.  ;)
Alternative method: String a ribbon through eye hooks on the back of the letter, and glue the ribbon to the frame.