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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Zebra Popcorn

Do you ever go to Costco during the holidays when they have the sample stand out, serving and selling that deliciously addicting popcorn?!!? There sits samples of cheddar, almond, zebra, and cinnamon white chocolate popcorn! Are you like me, trying not to act embarrassed as you walk up to the station for the 15th time grabbing another sample? Well I am tired of waiting for another holiday to come around before I can buy another months supply.....and now I don't ever have to wait again! This recipe is so close to Zebra Popcorn flavor that I might just open up a stand of my own and start selling it!

Zebra Popcorn

12 Cups popcorn
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 Karo syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups melted white chocolate for drizzling
1 1/2 cups melted milk chocolate for drizzling

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Place popcorn in largest bowl you can find. You will need a large bowl with a little extra room so that you will be able to adequately incorporate the hot caramel and the popcorn. I actually split up my popcorn between two bowls.
Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Add in brown sugar and corn syrup and stir to combine. Microwave until you see bubbles start to form. Once bubbles form, continue to microwave for 3 minutes without stirring.

Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla and baking soda.
Pour the mixture over your popcorn and stir until the popcorn is well coated. You will want to do this right away so that your caramel mixture does not become hard which will make it nearly impossible to then coat your popcorn. Spread your coated popcorn onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Place popcorn in the oven for 30 minutes being sure to toss every 10 minutes. 
 Remove your popcorn from the oven and let cool completely before drizzling with melted white and dark chocolate.  Let your popcorn rest until the white and milk chocolate drizzle has hardened. I am completely impatient so I place my pan of popcorn in the refrigerator or freezer to harden faster. When cooled, brake into manageable pieces and serve right away or store in an air tight tupperware container until ready to eat.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gooey Peanut Butter Cup White Chocolate Bars

If your looking for a truly gooey, rich, peanut buttery dessert smothered in white chocolate and dripping with goodness then look no further. This bar will give you a cavity just looking at it! Oh but it will be worth it my friends! A cold glass of milk, a comfy chair, one of these beauties in your mouth and you will be in some serious sweet heaven!!

I just love how the peanut butter cookie dough wraps itself around all the chocolatey and peanut buttery goodness like a warm little blanket; it reminds me of a sinful little gallete. Its so easy to throw together and great for a family treat or a get-together. The hardest part will be trying to wait until it cools to cut and eat...although in our house we brake that rule quite often :)

Gooey Peanut Bitter Cup, White Chocolate Bars

1 bag peanut butter cookie mix
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
35 Reeses  mini cups, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 inch baking dish with tin foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place cookie mix, butter and egg into a large bowl and mix to combine all ingredients. 

Press mixture into prepared pan and top with broken Reeses pieces. 

Top with milk chocolate chips

Top with white chocolate chip pieces

Pour sweetened condensed milk over. 

Bake for 30 minutes and let cool completely. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Baby Onesie Bouquet

Babies babies babies; it seems everyone I know is having babies this year! Its fantastic and so exciting! A recent baby shower I was invited to had slipped my mind and I found myself the day before rushing to the store to pick up something quick and easy to give. I opted on a few cute summer/fall outfits for the little girl to be but was unsatisfied with the idea of simple wrapping the clothes in a garment box and presenting them to the soon to be mother. I wanted a more creative way to present the gift.  Thats when I remembered a gift I give to all of my nieces and nephews on their 5th birthdays. I make them candy and toy bouquets. I attach their favorite candy and fun toys to wooden BBQ skews, wrap the skewers in green floral tape, stick the skewers into styrofoam that is placed in a heavy vase or pot and stuff in tissue and flowers to fill in the gaps. It really is a sight to be seen and almost a heartbreak to watch disassembled. 

For this occasion I decided to use the same technique just simply replace the candy and toys with the baby clothes and make a baby onesie bouquet. It is really really quite simple to be honest and took way less time than you would think. And the presentation and the expression on the mother to be's face is way worth any anxiety you may have of making this. 

Here are things that I used to make my bouquet:

  • container
  • popcycle sticks (they were sturdier to use with the clothes than the BBQ skewers I normally use
  • rubberbands
  • filler flowers
  • tissue paper
  • styrofoam to secure popsicle sticks and flowers in place inside of basket
  • baby clothes, bibs, socks, beanies, etc.

I started by wrapping all of my baby gear onto the Popsicle sticks as follows.
fold over the tails of the bib onto itself
place the popsicle stick between the fold
and roll the bib, as tightly as you can, onto the stick
to hold the bib in place wrap a rubber band around the bib and stick.
Continue this process with all of your clothes and additional baby gear. Below I will show you how I wrapped a shirt for a further example.
here are all of my completed baby clothes flowers
Next up I placed tissue paper inside of my container and then placed my styrofoam square inside the same container, as this will be holding all of my clothes and flowers in place.
Now its time to start placing the sticks inside of your container 
Then simply fill in any gaps with your flowers.
And voila! Baby Onesie Bouquet!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Italian Wedding Soup

Temperatures are cooling off and of course the dreaded cold/flu virus that seems to be unescapable finds its way into your house to wreak its havoc on any unexacting passerby. Thats exactly what has happen to my little family and the only thing that sounds good to my poor sickly husband is soup...italian wedding soup that is. And there is only one recipe that I turn to when making italian wedding soup...Ina Gartens. This soup is dang good and seriously satisfying, especially on a cold winter day or in this instance on a sick day when all you want is a soothing, comforting bowl of soup to help heal your aches and pains.

Italian Wedding Soup

3/4 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, beaten
salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
10 cups chicken broth
1/2 dry white wine (If you are uncomfortable cooking with wine you can substitute additional chicken broth)
1 cup small shell pasta
1/4 minced fresh dill
8 ounces baby spinach

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare your meatballs place ground meats, panko, garlic, parsley, parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. Drop 1-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper; making about 40 meatballs. Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
To prepare the soup heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large stock pot. Add onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened, 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil. Add pasta to the simmering broth and cook an additional 6-8 minutes, until pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in spinach and cook for 1 minute, until spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Family Silhouettes

When my niece was first born, almost 12 years ago, my aunt made a silhouette of her cut out of black paper and framed it. I was in awe!! It was incredible and I knew that once I had children I wanted to do the same thing. However, instead of using paper I decided to paint a silhouette onto a canvas using a profile shot.  I blew up a side profile picture of my son , cut it out, traced it on the canvas and then painted within the lines. You can also paint the dead space black instead for a different look, use different colors or add details that might not have been in the picture; such as my husbands cowboy hat and my hair around my face (seen below)
After I had finished painting I couldn't help but think that there was something missing.....something to make the silhouette painting a little more personal and whimsical. Turned out a crochet bow tie was just what my son needed around his little neck.
Of course I couldn't stop there! I painted profiles of my husband and myself as well. 
This is really a fun project and a way to capture your little ones or family members at a specific time in their life. 
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