Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

In addition to making centerpieces while at Grace’s house last week, I also attempted this Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cake from Picky Palate. And let’s just say it didn’t go so well.

Picky Palate
I mixed up the batter as directed and poured it into two bread pans.

Then you’re supposed to bake for 55-60 minutes.

I let it cook for 50 minutes and I thought the outsides were starting to burn. So I took the cakes out and let them cool. Once I took them out of the pan, I realized that the middle was wet and undercooked.

I should have taken a picture but I was so mad I just wanted it out of my sight…haha

It wasn't the recipes fault. If I had baked it for 65-70 minutes, it probably would have been fine. I did try a little taste and could barely taste the pumpkin. If there’s ever a next time, I would maybe add a dash of pumpkin pie spice.

Needless to say, I did not serve the cake on Thanksgiving. The last thing I needed was for everyone to get salmonella.

The butter cream however, was AMAZING! I ate it on its own right out of the bowl.

Grace did whip up a pumpkin gingerbread trifle for Thanksgiving that everyone seemed to enjoy. Check back for her review.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Slow Cooker Bacon Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken

I am a big fan of using  my slow cooker. I am not insane in trying to use it everyday, but before JJ I would try and use it once a week. It makes coming home to an almost finished dinner and delicious smelling house so wonderful. I pinned this recipe awhile back:

from Six Sisters Stuff. I believe they reference the recipe from somewhere else, but they supply it as well. I figured it would be a quick to throw together for an easy meal (and I am looking for easy these days!).

Grating an apple was new for me, but it was easy. I only used one though because I didn't have the patience to do another one.

Grated Apple

Wrapping the bacon around the chicken

All sauced up and ready to go

Here is the final product:

Full disclosure, I got it in late, so I put it on high for an hour and then low for another 5. I also used really thin chicken breasts, so I think that was more than enough time (probably even too much - it came out a little dark).

Verdict: It was tasty and juicy despite the dark appearance. I think I would make it again. Joe isn't a huge fan of BBQ sauce though, so it probably won't be in the rotation very often.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Olive Garden Breadsticks

I was having Italian again the other night and thought this would be the perfect time to try my hand at these Olive Garden Breadsticks, originally pinned from Full Bellies, Happy Kids.

Full Bellies, Happy Kids
This was my first attempt making bread from scratch and I was a little nervous. Okay, that may not be completely true. I did make bread from scratch in my Kindergarten class. But seeing as that was 20 years ago, I’m not going to count it.

Start by making your dough with the typical ingredients- warm water, yeast, flour, butter, sugar, & salt.

Knead the dough for a few minutes until dough is smooth. This is where I had some trouble. The recipe explicitly said “do not over knead.” This made me nervous. I kneaded and kneaded but the dough was so sticky and would not get smooth. I used flour on my hands but it did little to help. Finally, for fear of over kneading, I just stopped and went to the next step.

Once the dough is smooth (ha), cut off pieces and roll into strips. Since I couldn’t get the dough smooth, my rolls were hard to work with and didn’t look so great.

I had a hard time making room for all the rolls on my pan. I actually threw out some of the dough because it was just too much.

A quick side note- you may be wondering why I’m using such a small baking sheet to begin with. That would be because my oven is really tiny. So tiny in fact, that when I moved into my current apartment, I had to buy a new cookie sheet because the normal size one I had, didn’t fit! My cupcake pan only fits if I put in the oven long ways. See for yourself…

But anyway, I digress. Back to the recipe….

Cover the rolls and place in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Place in oven heated to 400 degrees. While the breadsticks are baking, make the glaze. The glaze is simply melted butter with garlic powder and salt.

After 6 minutes take rolls out of the oven and brush the glaze on top. Bake for another  7 or 8 minutes

Immediately upon removal of the oven, coat the other side of the breadsticks with the butter mixture. Allow to cool and enjoy!

The Verdict: These were great! They were a little dense but I think that may have been due to my over kneading. I would definitely try to make these again.

Things to Note/Consider: The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and 2 Teaspoons of salt for the butter mixture. I only put about 1 & ½ teaspoons of salt in and it was still WAY too salty. I would only put in 1 teaspoon at the most. Next time I make these, I think I would even add a little more garlic powder.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

I spent Thanksgiving Eve over at Grace’s house enjoying time with beautiful little JJ and catching up with my sisters.

While we were hanging out, Grace and I decided to throw together a centerpiece using this pin from Thoughtfully Simple as our inspiration:

It looked cute and simple so we took a look at what Grace had on hand. We quickly realized that we didn’t have enough corn husks to go around the candle (and we weren’t about to go to the store on Thanksgiving Eve). Here’s a look at the supplies we had, with a quick cameo of my awesome animal print top (we were in Jersey after all!):

Basically, we had a bunch of pine cones, leaves, and some fake corn. We had two smaller glass round containers and one larger glass square one. So we made due with what we had.

First we lined each container with leaves around the outside. Then stuck a candle in the middle and filled it in with pines cones. The corn wouldn’t fit inside the round containers but we were able to put one in each corner of the square dish. Then to complete the look we tied some raffia around the outside.

It took all of five minutes and I think they look cute!

Here’s how they turned out:

I realize that they look NOTHING like the original pin but the inspiration was there. Maybe next year we'll be more prepared. But knowing us, probably not!

Grace and I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Check back later this week to hear my disastrous story about the double chocolate pumpkin cake!

Mint Oreo Truffles

I recently came across this pin from It is a mint twist on the Oreo truffles I made a few weeks ago. Since I loved how the original truffles came out & since I love mint (especially mint chocolate chip ice cream! Yum!), I figured I’d give it a go.

Start by crushing up a whole package of mint flavored Oreos. Side note: I’ve never had the mint flavored Oreos before, but they are quite tasty!

Mix the Oreos up with an 8oz package of softened cream cheese. Then form 1 inch round balls out of the mixture.

Put them in the freezer for 10-15 minute to make them easier to dip.

Now it’s time to dip them in the chocolate. This recipe calls for melted white chocolate mixed with a teaspoon of peppermint extract and green food coloring.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that my dipping technique has gotten worse with every item I make instead of better. I couldn’t get my truffles to look nice once dipped. I think it might be because the green chocolate is less forgiving then the dark chocolate.

Although my truffles didn’t come out looking that great, I did gain a nice green thumb. I’m sure my office plant will appreciate that.

The final step is to place the dipped truffles in the fridge for an hour or so, to let the chocolate harden.


The Verdict: A nice twist to the classic Oreo Truffle. It was easy to prepare and delicious. I just wish they looked a little nicer. But, I would definitely make these again. A great treat for the holiday season!

Things to Note/Consider: Make sure you have enough white chocolate. The recipe calls for 12 oz which was not enough for me. Luckily, I had a candy melt stash that I could break into to cover the rest. Also, I forgot to save some Oreos to garnish with. I think that might have made them look a little nicer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

While I was visiting New Jersey a few weekends back to meet my new nephew, my mom gave me an early Christmas gift.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Thanks mom!

I came across this pin from Your Cup of Cake for Cinnamon Toast Cupcakes. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is my favorite cereal so I just HAD to try them out. Also, I just really wanted to try this mixer out!

From Your Cup of Cake
Mix eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla in a large bowl.

Crush up the Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Add sour cream, cake mix, and cinnamon to the egg mixture and mix until smooth. Stir in the crushed cereal.

Fill cupcake liners ¾ full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Buttercream. And frost once cooled.

The Verdict: To be honest (and when am I not?), they weren’t that great. The cupcake itself was blah at best. And when you bit into the Cinnamon Toast Crunch pieces, they tasted soggy. The frosting was awful. It wasn’t buttercream at all. It was more of a cream cheese frosting but not a good one. I ended up tossing most of them.

Things to Note/Consider: Stick to Funfetti cupcakes. Or if you really want to give these cupcakes a go, try a different frosting.
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