Monday, April 23, 2012

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes with Oreo Cookie Butter Cream

This week at work we are honoring the lady who holds us all together. Our Administrative Assistant, The General.  No, that is not her real name.

Her name aside. I am so thankful for her. She is a super hard worker. She is funny. Sometimes sarcastic. Always giving.

She loves chocolate. Boy, does she love chocolate!

In her honor, I whipped up these cupcakes to take to her.

Thank you, General, for all of your hard work!



To make these cupcakes:

One Chocolate Cake Box Mix
Eggs and Oil as directed by the Box.
2 packages of Oreo Cookies
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of Crisco Vegetable Shortening
6 cups of Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Milk
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

I want to first say, I tried out Reynolds new cupcake liners. I found these at Wal Mart and they promised to not turn black in the oven. I am so loving the way they look!

Make the cake mix as the box describes.

Before you put the batter in the cupcake liner, put an Oreo in the bottom of the liner.

Then add the batter. Bake the cupcakes according to the box instructions.  Let them cool.

Next, crush 12 Oreo's. I used a food processor that made super quick work of it. If you do not have a food processor, you can crush them in a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin.

Make the butter-cream.

Cream the butter and Crisco. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time. Then add the milk one tablespoon at a time. Then the Vanilla Extract. Next add the crushed Oreo cookies.


Decorate the cookies.  Top with an Oreo for garnish, if desired. They even make mini-Oreo's, those would look cute.



 OH!, And then you bite into the cupcake and get a nice surprise.

I promise The General is going to love them!




Saturday, April 21, 2012

Touring The Kansas City Temple


 Today we went with my in-laws to tour the new Kansas City Temple.  We have watched The Temple under construction for some time and I was excited to tour it.

I only have photos of the exterior because photography inside the Temple is not allowed.

The exterior is the most breathtaking white. I learned that after the Temple is dedicated anyone who enters must change out of their street clothing and put on all white clothing.

Today, as every day the temple has been open for viewing, between 4 and 5 thousand people will take the tour.  We wore white slippers on our shoes to protect the carpets and keep everything inside looking as nicely as possible.

The entryway has stunning stained glass and dark wood. The entire temple has the theme of Olive Tree Branches throughout.  My Father and Mother-in-law said that the dark wood was brought over from Africa.

Once dedicated, only members of the Mormon Church in good standing are allowed to enter the temple.

We walked past the temple offices and into the baptismal room. The Baptismal font rest on the backs of 12 white oxen, which we were told represents the 12 tribes of Israel. I learned that new members are not baptized here, those are done at the local Stake Center. The baptisms that occur in the temple are actually ancestral baptisms. The teachings of the Mormon Church allow a living person to be baptized for a deceased  ancestor who might not have accepted Jesus Christ in their earthly life. They also teach then the deceased ancestor can accept the gift or deny it.

What I can tell you is that the baptismal room is stunning.

We traveled to the second floor of the temple. We observed two Instruction rooms. One has a beautiful mural painted on three walls. The tour guide said a local artist painted the Missouri/Kansas landscape and included the Grand River in the mural.

As we walked to the top floor, I noticed that the feel of the temple became lighter/brighter. The wood went from dark and rich to light. My Father-in-Law also pointed out that the hallways were slopped. It was no coincidence that I felt the temple get brighter, it was absolutely designed that way. The temple is designed that as you go higher it represents: 1) you would become more enlightened with knowledge, and 2) it is representative of what Heaven would be like.

What can I say about the Celestial Room? Stunning.  Breathtaking. Inspiring. It is light and bright. The chandelier in the middle of the room just sparkles. Two mirrors hung on each side of the chandelier which caused the optical illusion that their were lots of sparkling chandeliers.

There was no talking inside the Celestial Room. I asked my Father-in-Law afterwards what type of ceremonies would be held here. {I was thinking appointment of Temple Leaders} He told me none. It is a room strictly for meditation and prayer.

The last room we saw was a Sealing Room. This was a new concept for me. Sealing? The Mormon Church believes that Married Couples can not only be united for their time on this earth but sealed for eternity. According to my Father-in-Law, you are automatically sealed to with any children born to that marriage. Couples and families who join the Church after marriage can be sealed.

Our tour guide told us her story of adopting a little girl. They had a sealing ceremony in a temple in New York and she shed tears while telling us her story. It was so obvious that the experience touched her heart. I felt honored to shared a moment of her story.

The Sealing Room resembles the Celestial Room. Bright. Full of light. But it has more chairs.And a small alter in the center. A smaller chandelier with the same large mirrors strategically placed to give the optical illusion  of more. {I asked The Short Chic how many she saw and she counted at least 10!}

The art work throughout the temple is beautiful and abundant. The art depicts the life of Christ. The other thing that struck me as I walked throughout the temple are the flower arrangements. Every room is full of a elaborate floral arrangement. They are stunning! I had to look extra long and hard to get a sense about real or silk. I have come to the conclusion they are silk. Otherwise, I would love to see the budget the church has for flowers. More importantly, I want to know where they are ordering their arrangements from!

The Open House of the Temple has been extended another week. We did not have an appointment. We just showed up. Our wait was minimal. I strongly encourage you to go and visit. The building is architecturally stunning.

Before I end, I should give a disclaimer. Since I am not Mormon, I am not 100% sure I got everything right. A member of the Mormon Church might have a need to correct me. {And I will allow them too!} I do not know if I am grammatically correct in my post. I may have WAY under simplified some things. I wrote this post with a good heart to educate other non-Mormon readers. I believe education is important. I once read that under the surface, we are all genetically 98% the same.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's Cookin' via Pinterest

I try to stay off of Pinterest when I am hungry.

I just end up pinning things that I want to bake or cook and I am still trying to be healthy.

But this week I have tried two Pinterest inspired dishes and given them two thumbs up. The best news is that for the most part, they are actually both really good for you!

{BONUS}

The first dish I have been gobbling up this week is OVERNIGHT OATMEAL.

A new breakfast option! Looking forward to trying this.
This photo is from Pinterest and is not mine!
                                                       

My friend Krista pinned this and I thought it looked good but I wanted to wait to here her review. She liked it and I decided to try it this week. Ironically, my husband brought home a bag of Chia Seeds and I thought it was destiny!

So here are the two recipes I have made this week

Coconut Mango Overnight Oatmeal

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup mango, diced
1 T shredded coconut (I only had sweetened in the house)
1 1/2 T agave nectar

To make this, you simple mix all the ingredients in a bowl/jar/container. Put a lid on it and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. I used my fitness pal to count the calories and it per serving this was under 500 calories.

Mango Almond Overnight Oatmeal

1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oatmeal, uncooked
1/3 cup skim milk
1/4 cup lowfat Greek Yogurt ( I used plain but next time I plan to get Vanilla)
1 - 1 1/2 t dried Chia Seeds
1/4 t almond extract
1 t honey
1/4 cup diced mango

Again, mix the oatmeal, skim milk, greek yogurt and seeds together. Add the almond extract, honey and mango. Since I used plain greek yogurt I also increased the honey to 2 teaspoons. But it in the fridge, overnight and eat it cold.

I honestly have had this oatmeal every day this week for breakfast. They are filling. There are two things you have to get over. 1) You are eating cold oatmeal....and it is good.  2) My husband tells me it is not visually appealing at all. But he absolutely enjoyed every bite!

Growing up in the country, my Momma and Grandma each had giant gardens! If I know anything about gardening, I know that zucchini is easy to grow and is bountiful. My Momma was always looking for things to make with zucchini. Bread, pies, even cakes were not off limits.

So I thought of her tonight when I saw this Stuffed Zucchini recipe on Pinterest.  I just happened to have some in the fridge so I set off to make this dish for dinner tonight.



 I took 2 large zucchini's and cut them in half. Then I used a spoon to scoop out the insides. Do not throw away anything you scoop out because you are going to use it. Chop the scooped out portion and set aside.

Chop a Roma tomato and set aside.

Chop a small onion, heat some olive oil and saute the onion in the oil. We love garlic so I added some.  Soften it and brown it.

I cooked up 2 slices of bacon, crisp.

Next I added everything to the onions and garlic. I added the scooped zucchini, the tomatoes, the bacon, salt, and pepper to taste. I then spooned it all into the zucchini boats and topped it with shredded Romano Cheese.

I baked it in the oven for 20 minutes.  I also put this into www.myfitnesspal.com and it comes in less than 100 calories. It was yummy. The hubby liked it. I am guessing The Boy did not so much, because he only ate one bit.

It is okay, I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Despite All Odds: I Rocked Today!



Have you ever avoided something? 

Like stuck your head in the sand and hoped it was not true. 

Because if you avoid it long enough, it will go away?


That has been me.

My husband, at my recommendation, signed me up for a 5K. 

I know I should have been eating well, exercising, preparing for this event. 

But, I did not.

And today was the big day.

  But, I finished. And I did not walk, well not all of it anyways. 

I actually ran, half.

 I crossed the finish line in 48 minutes.


 That was 10 minutes behind my husband, who has been preparing everyday for the past two months.

  And about 5 minutes before the first half-marathon runner came across the finish line.




My son was there, to cheer me on. 

{actually, he might have been there for the free food. I am sorry to anyone half marathoner who did not get free food. My growing son ate your share.}


My great friend Melissa was there. 

She actually walked the course.

She was an ostrich just like me. 

We promise to be better prepared next time!


This guy did a half marathon. He finished in 2:30. It was his first half marathon.


My husband has a great support network through his work. 


A great group of girls!

Rock The Parkway
Kansas City, MO
April, 2012

Next year, I promise to be better prepared!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Celebrating...Me!


I hope this post does not sound....full of myself.

It was my birthday and I decided to celebrate....Me!

I did the things that make me happy. I baked. I decorated. I entertained.

In the end, even though it was my birthday, I hope others got as much enjoyment out of it as I did.

There are a few desserts I have always wanted to make: Creme Brulee, Tres Leches cake, Pavlova, and Tiramisu. I made a quick decision while talking to my BFF on the phone, I was going to make my own desserts and invite friends over to share.

 For both desserts I found great recipes at Pioneer Woman Cooks. I recommend her site, she has lots of great photos with step-by-step instructions.  Her photos gave me some confidence when I found myself cooking things I had no history with.


If you would like to try this dessert, go here:  The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Tres Leches Cake
My reflections on making this cake: It was actually way easier than I thought. No box mix was used and making the batter was not hard. I used a small kitchen squirt bottle to pour the milk on with (think small ketchup bottle). It has a fine tip and allowed me more control to get the edges of the cake than if I was just pouring from a pitcher.  In hind-site, I would have still tried to pour more milk into it. The center was "juicier" than the edges.

The next dessert that I love is Tiramisu. I can't even tell you the first time I had this dessert and fell in love with it. I love the creamy layer covered in chocolate and then just a hint of coffee. I made this dessert once before but in retrospect it was a non-traditional version.


The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Tiramisu. Again, this was easy enough to prepare! Cooking the eggs and Marsala was a little nerve wracking but it turned out well. I kept sampling the parts. They tasted good but it was not until like step four that they came together and tasted like something familiar. In hind-site, I love that Pioneer Woman drizzled the coffee/marsala mixture over the ladyfingers. Dipping the ladyfingers in the mixture gets messy and they fall apart. Drizzling the mixture over them was way easier! I do think I put too much cocoa on the top. It was a little overpowering.


Next up, the decorations. They came together by accident, honestly! I had planned a pink table cloth and cups because my little girl loves the Toby Keith song, Red Solo Cup but she is insistent on changing the words to pink solo cup. Then my dear friend at work  gave me this lovely metal sign that said, "I can do ANYTHING with the right SHOES!" And it was kinda pink.

I thought, how cute would this be on my table. I have a collection of small shoes at my work. They make me smile. So, I thought I would bring them home and use them to make a centerpiece. A coworker suggested using flowers and that lead me to the grocery store after work to get flowers.


I went there after pink flowers and came out with both pink and these spectacular orange mini roses. They were on sale, for $10.00! Happy Birthday to ME!


I came home and used things I already had to whip out this tablescape. I even made my own flower frog out of scotch tape! Now I do sound kinda MacGyver'ish!


And the best part is spending time with my good friends. Thank you all to everyone who stopped by and shared a hour or so with me on my day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Were Egged: And I Have No Photos To Prove It!

I am a phototaker! I love snapping photos of anything and everything.

And if I am honest with you, I use this blog as a reason for taking even more photos.

So I am sure this will surprise you, but something cool happened to me this weekend, and I was at a loss for taking photos. I even thought during it that maybe I should grab my camera, but I was so into the moment that I did not want to let it pass without me.

We were "egged".

Are you familiar with this term? It is similar to being "boo'ed" at Halloween time. Someone leaves Easter Eggs at your house with a note telling you that you have been "egged." Well, it happened to us.

We were out of town for the weekend and came home early Sunday morning. I was actually a bit concerned because The Short Chic helped Mommy set out eggs for an egg hunt for the older boys. She also helped her Nana stuff eggs for an egg hunt at her house. There were no eggs she had not had some insight information about and I was worried that she might start to put two and two together.

I know that sounds premature for her four years but she is pretty smart.

Well, fast forward to our arriving home on Sunday and I actually  notice something colorful in our yard by the driveway. I start to say something to the Husband when I realize there are lots of colorful things in our yard.

They were Easter Eggs. And The Short Chic is squealing with joy! She is yelling to any neighbor that will listen to her that the Easter Bunny found her, left her eggs, how she loves the Easter Bunny, ect, ect, ect!

I let The Short Chic pick them up. There are a lot. Three, maybe four dozen eggs. While she is picking them up, I find a note. It said, "You've been egged! Now go egg someone else!" So this was intentional.

I immediately think The Husband arranged this. He thinks I did. We both think our neighbors did it. But they are outside when we get home and they deny it. Then I think it is my Mother and Father-in-law. They even denied it. I think her actual words were...I wish I had thought of it!

I am left scratching my head. I will say we opened the eggs up. Hmmm, there is "good" candy in those eggs. I am still left wondering who did this.

THEN, Monday morning at work my dear friend Melissa calls me and asks if we got all of our eggs picked up. I thought, what an odd way to ask about Easter. Then she repeats it and I ask her, "did you egg me?"

To which she replies...YES!

I am immediately saddened that I did not get a single photo of the event. Thank you, Melissa for such a wonderful experience! And thank you for saving the Easter Bunny for Miss Short Chic!W

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Birthday Weekend

I am sharing my birthday with Easter, once again.

I don't mind. A holiday full of chocolate...candy...egg hunts!

We spent Saturday at my Momma's house. The boys went fishing. The girls enjoyed getting to know my Momm'as new neighbors. The Short Chic even shared her Grandma's carrots.


To celebrate my birthday, we had a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Nothing warms up a spring evening like a backyard fire! Before the bonfire, we had an egg hunt. The Son brought his friend to the party, he had never roasted a marshmallow before. How is that possible?  Don't worry, he had a great teacher, now he can't say he has never roasted a marshmallow!


After our meal, The Husband and the Guest went back out fishing. My kiddo's and I took a walk around my small town. The Short Chic wanted to see the creek. It was nice to get out and walk around a bit and enjoy the warm weather.

The layout of the town is the same as it always has been; four blocks long, six blocks wide. Most of the houses are the same. Of course, there are different people living in them. Growing up, you knew everyone and their truck they drove. Not living there on a daily basis, I have lost that. Thank you to everyone who stopped and said hello!

And I should say..The Husband...who went fishing....he did not bring home any fish. He took some photos of fish he caught. BUT, you wanna know what he brought home...TICKS!  That is correct.  Ticks!


Today, when we got home from my Momma's The Husband tricked me into going to the store with him. He wanted me to pick out my own flowers for this wonderful topsy planter that he made for me today {pinterest inspired, by the way. I love it that we spent this Easter day planting new flowers. 

Happy Easter to all of you! 



Thursday, April 5, 2012

Homemade Marshmallow Easter Eggs


I love classroom parties! Luckily for me, my Short Chic is in a church-based preschool. Which allows me to bring homemade treats to classroom parties.

I am responsible for the sweet treat for the Easter party.

I decided to make homemade marshmallows and dip them in chocolate.

This is not the first time I have made homemade marshmallows. A long time ago, the domestic goddess herself, Martha Stewart, featured them in one of her magazines and I rose to the occasion. But that has been nearly 14 years. What I remember from that experience....they may sound hard to make but they were actually easy. Time consuming, yes. Difficult, no.

This time, I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

To make homemade marshmallows you need:


  • Powdered Sugar
  • 3 1/2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup very cold water, divided
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 of corn syrup
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 T vanilla


In the mixing bowl add 1/2 cup of very cold water. Add the unflavored gelatin. Let this sit so the water can soften the gelatin.

Oil the bottom and sides of a jellyroll pan. Dust the oil with powdered sugar.


In a large saucepan, add the sugar, corn syrup, the second 1/2 cup of cold water, and the salt. Over low heat, mix with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring.

Bring the sugar mixture to the temperature of 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and add the hot sugar mixture to the softened gelatin. Stir until the gelatin dissolves.


THANKFULLY, I have a stand mixture. The next step is beating this sugar and gelatin mixture on high speed until the mixture is thick, white, and triples in volume.  This took about 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl with clean beaters add the egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks form. Add the egg whites to the sugar mixture and add the vanilla until just combined.


Pour the mixture into the prepared jellyroll pan. Sprinkle additional powdered sugar on top of the mixture.

{Side note, the mixture is VERY VERY sticky at this point} Let the mixture sit for a minimum of 4 hours or up to one day. I let mine sit for a day before I took a knife and ran it around the edges. I then plopped the marshmallows out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Next I used a cookie cutter and cut out shapes. I used an egg.

I melted chocolate, dipped a Popsicle stick into the chocolate and put it in the bottom of the egg. Then using a spoon, I covered the egg shaped marshmallows in chocolate and added sprinkles.


After they were hardened, I added a cute bag and was ready for the Easter Party. Can I  add there were small pieces left over and I am so looking forward to melting some dark chocolate and eating them! Happy Easter to everyone!


She loved them! And that is all it takes to melt my heart!

Sassy Sites: Free For All Friday

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Roller Skate Cupcake Cake


I am excited for me. I had a couple of first yesterday! 

My friend Shannon called me a few weeks ago and asked if I would help her decorate a cake for her daughter's birthday celebration. Of course I agreed to that! Then she tells me she wants to do a cupcake cake. 
Um, I have never done that. Nor have I ever actually decorated for someone other than my family. Now I am nervous!

 So, after a very long day at a Sip and See, I drove over to Shannon's house. Her little boy was my biggest helper. We made frosting. Tinted it. Piped it. Okay we might have even sampled some.  He told me he wants to learn how to make a cake because he wants to go on the Food Network and do the cake challenges. We agreed to be a team.



 So, with no experience, we put as many cupcakes as we could get on a cake board. We covered all of the cupcakes with white frosting and then Shannon's husband...who also has to go with us onto the Food Network because he can draw and I can't...helped us by outlining a skate with a toothpick into the frosting.


 I used his outline, pipped frosting all over the cake and came up with a super cute birthday cake.  All I could think about as I was working on this cake is all the time I spent at the roller rink when I was in high school. We spent every Sunday there. Our school took us on a field trip every year, we would skate away the last day of school.


 Shannon added the little pearls to the inside of the skate, how cute do those wheels look!

Shannon thinks the cake looks a lot like Shelby's real skates. How sweet is that!


Today is Miss Shelby's birthday party. Monday is her actual birthday. She will be 8! Happy Birthday Miss Shelby! Thanks for letting me decorate your cake! (and I think I might be going back to help Zac this winter. He wants a Titanic birthday! I better get to practicing!