April 7, 2012

DIY: Peep Topiary

I've been busy making peep trees! No, this is not a joke. More officially, I suppose they are called peep topiarys. I found my inspiration at The Hungry Mouse where she made the CUTEST centerpiece from peeps. Check it out to see all the how-to details. Below is some of what I changed or added.

Although on my first tree I used 3 blue peeps for the center, on my 2nd tree I learned that 4 might actually be better. By the time I was finished, I needed about 8 boxes of peeps. I also used a 6inch ball instead of 7, simply because I couldn't find a 7inch at Michaels Craft Store.

I also painted the dowel/stake green and pulled faux leaves from a flower I had on hand, and painted them with the same color. I hot glued them onto the stake. I also added plastic wrap between the Styrofoam in the pot and the jelly beans so the beans are projected and still edible. I also waited until the last minute to add the jelly beans, so they were yummy to eat.

I gave my topiarys as spring gifts. They were a huge hit!

Happy Easter!

March 31, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I found this treasure of a recipe via pinterest and have saved it up for when I had the energy to complete it all at once. As I was also warned, let me tell you that this is not a recipe for the weak- it is not a cookie dough battle, but instead, a war. A fabulously delicious, totally worth it war; a war that you feel good about when it's over. Borrowed  and adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything Blog, who borrowed it from Annie's Eats.. here we go!

Here's what you'll need:

For the cupcakes:
3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups), at room temperature
1½ cups light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the filling:
4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups), at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
3½ cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons milk
2½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For decoration:
Mini chocolate chips

For decoration:Mini chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350° degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners. Although it approximated 24 cupcakes, I was able to make 30.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cookie dough filling, combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up just barely.To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone-shaped portion out of the center of each cupcake. I used the tip of a steak knife but I've also been told that there are specific kitchen gadgets for this very purpose, who knew?! I used a stiff pastry bag with a very wide tip, or if needed you can remove the tip (sometimes the chocolate chips get jammed in there). Fill each hole with a chunk of the chilled cookie dough mixture. It may come up and overflow a bit onto the top of the cupcake but don't worry, the icing will do a great job of covering it.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.

I used a disposable pastry bag for piping the icing and it worked like a charm! Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips to finish.

Look at this cupcake in all its glory! I hate myself for not taking a picture of the cupcake cut in half so you could see the amazing inside, the perfect amount of cookie dough! Run on over to The Girl Who Ate Everything and check it out!

March 26, 2012

Eat it All Week Chicken Salad

When you know your week will be crazy busy and there's no time to cook every meal, here's a super yummy and really easy chicken salad recipe that you can turn to. Not to mention it's full of fresh fruit and veggies and will get you ready for spring .

Quite possibly the very best part of chicken salad is that you can't mess it up- put as much of each ingredient you want, add different things or leave some out!

Here's what I used:

2 large cans canned chicken breast, drained and shredded
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1/4 cup sweet relish
1/2-3/4 apple, diced
purple grapes, halved or diced
2 stalks celery, diced
Duke's Mayo, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste

Mix it together really well and refrigerate.

Serve on toasted bread or with crackers! Hello Spring!