Wednesday, March 21, 2012

St Patrick's Day Recap

Hi there - its me, Grace. I am still alive. And I won't go saying "I will be posting more regularly", because obviously that's not working. I have this huge backlog of things to share, I just don't seem to get the time to type them up. Being a working mom is time consuming (and exhausting)!

But anyway, I found a couple minutes to recap my St. Patrick's Day (even if it was days ago). First up: my usual holiday themed printable:

It's another one from the ladies at Eighteen25. A quick trip out of the printer and popped into a frame and here it is:

Next up, we had a St. Patrick's Day Party to go to, so I scoured Pinterest and found some cute options. I wanted to try these Bailey's Irish Cream Cookies, but I don't have a shamrock cookie cutter. So I settled on these:

The original pin came from Nook & Pantry - a site I will have to add to my google reader - lots of good stuff in there! Anyway, here's how mine came out:

Mixing up the batter

All baked up - they came out a little flat!

Knowing that there would be kids at the party, once I made the frosting I pulled out half before adding the Baileys. I colored this half green, so the kid's version would be easy to spot. I realize that the couple tablespoons of Bailey's would probably be fine, but I wasn't sure kids would like the taste.

The yummy adult frosting

Final product!

The Verdict on the Cupcakes: I thought they were delicious! I usually don't like how my cupcakes or cakes come out when I make them from scratch (I think I have the tendency to overmix, creating lead sinkers), but these came out great. I guess maybe the beer helps them stay light. They did come out a bit flat, but that didn't really bother me. I was told they were even great for breakfast the next day - hair of the dog?

Things to Consider: The original recipe says to make sure you bake them right away, so the beer still has some fizz. I did this and like I said above, I think that helps keep them light. I think I could have filled them a little less and gotten a couple more cupcakes (I think they might have risen a bit more), but I didn't have another pan or space in my oven.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting
From Nook & Pantry2 C unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 C Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C light or dark brown sugar
4 oz./1/2 C unsalted softened butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg
1/2 C sour cream
1 12 fl. oz. bottle/1 1/2 C Guinness or stout beer

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or line with paper cups 2 12 count muffin tins.

In a large bowl briefly whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add one egg and beat until evenly mixed and fluffy, make sure to scrape down the mixer bowl once in a while. Add the second egg and vanilla extract and beat again until light and fluffy.

Add the sour cream and beat in, then with the mixer running, slowly pour in the Guinness.

Sift the dry ingredients into the batter and slowly stir the batter until it is evenly mixed and there are no streaks of flour. Make sure to stop the mixer frequently to scrape down the sides and make sure to mix up any flour pockets hidden on the bottom of the bowl.

Divide 1/4 C of batter into each muffin cup, you’ll get about 20 – 24 cupcakes.

Bake at 350 degrees F on the middle rack for 20 – 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake in the middle of the pan should come out clean. Make sure to rotate the pans halfway through baking. Set on a rack to cool to room temperature before frosting.

For layer cakes: baking 25 – 30 minutes, rotate the pans around halfway, a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes should come out clean.

Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz. bar of cream cheese, softened
1 4oz. stick of unsalted butter, softened
2 C confectioner’s sugar
4 – 6 Tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, add the cream cheese, butter, and confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the Bailey’s, more or less depending on how boozey you want the frosting, and beat until completely incorporated into the frosting.

Lastly, on Sunday, I tried making corned beef for the first time. I have a love/hate relationship with it. It is sometimes slimy and too fatty, and I don't like it, but if cooked just right, I love it. I pinned this recipe:

from Food Network and gave it a whirl. I didn't take any pics, but it came out pretty good. Joe loved it and I loved the non-fatty parts. The potatoes and veggies were super flavorful too. I will definitely use the same recipe next year.

So there's my recap on all things St. Patrick's Day in our house. Hopefully I get a couple more minutes this week to type up some more posts. I have a project from JJ's room that I can't wait to share!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Oreo Brownies with Buttercream Frosting

Let’s carry on the Oreo loving/birthday celebration with another simple Oreo recipe. Last week I made Oreo brownies with buttercream frosting, originally pinned from Love from the Oven.

Love from the Oven

I decided to make this recipe as easy as possible by using my favorite boxed brownie mix and some store bought buttercream frosting.

Basically, you make the brownie mix as directed on the box and then add in half a package of crushed Oreos.

Spread the batter evenly in a 13x9 pan.

Bake as directed on the box.

Allow the brownies to cool and then cut them into circles. I ended up using a drinking glass again.

Then just simply frost with buttercream and top with crushed Oreos.

The Verdict: These were delicious! I absolutely loved them. Such a simple way to jazz up a plain brownie. Also, I must say, the store bought buttercream was actually really good!

Things to Note/Consider: The brownies were a bit difficult to cut into circles. I think it was because they were fudge style. Next time I make these, I’ll use the dark chocolate kind. It might make it easier to cut. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing!

Oreo Brownies with Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Love from the Oven

1 box of brownie mix
1 container of buttercream frosting
1 package of Oreos

  • Prepare brownie batter as directed on the box.
  • Crush half a package of Oreos (either in your food processer or with a rolling pin).
  • Mix the crushed Oreos in with the brownie batter.
  • Bake brownies as directed on the box.
  • Once the brownies are cooked & cooled, cut into circles.
  • Frost with buttercream & top with Oreo crumbs.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Framed Cork Board

I’ve had these framed cork boards from TeaRoseHome pinned for quite some time.

So when it came to decorating the new office, I thought something like this would be perfect. I planned on making it myself (finding some frames and inserting the cork board) but as I was perusing HomeGoods, I find a bunch ready made! I’m always all about making things as easy as possible so I purchased one.

Anyway, here’s the one I bought hung on my office wall.

Stay tuned to see what the complete office looks like in the next week or two.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mac N’ Cheese Pies

Remember that book club I mentioned a week or two ago?  The final items I made for the gathering were these mini mac n’cheese pies. I’ve seen these cute little treats all over pinterest so I decided to try The Curvy Carrot’s version.

The Curvy Carrot
I started by making the crust and pressing it into the muffin pan.

Then I mixed the cooked & hot macaroni with butter, shredded white cheddar, and garlic & herb cheese. The recipe called for Bousrin Garlic and Herb cheese but unfortunately, I couldn’t find it in my super market. I searched for at least 20 minutes. I looked in the nice cheese section, then the cheap cheese section, then the nice cheese section again, and then in the cheap cheese section again and there was no Boursin to be found! I’m sure it was right in front of my face but after looking for so long, I got fed up and made a substitution. I ended up buying the Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese. I honestly don't think it made a big difference. 

I mixed up the eggs, milk, sour cream, salt, & red pepper flakes and added them to the macaroni mixture.

It was a bit watery, but it firms up after baking. I divided the mixture up & filled up the muffin pan and topped with the left over white cheddar.

Then bake for about 20 minutes and enjoy!

I neglected to take a finished picture before putting them out for my guests to enjoy. So here’s what remained after book club...

The Verdict: I didn’t love them (didn’t hate them either) but I think that it was a color thing. In my mind, mac n’cheese should be made with orange cheese (like Kraft’s mac n’cheese). So, the color thing sort of turned me off. But you should know, this is all coming from the girl who only eats mint chocolate chip ice cream if it’s green (I know, it’s just food dye but I still like it to be green).

Regardless of my weirdness, they were a hit at book club. My roommate really enjoyed them and even saved the leftovers for lunch the next day. She did mention that the crust was tad too rich and buttery.

Things to Note/Consider: Nothing to really add or change to this recipe! They are super cute and not too difficult to make.

Mini Mac n’Cheese Pies
adapted from TheCurvyCarrot

1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed
2 cups white cheddar cheese, grated
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 and 1/2 cups cooked elbow macaroni (about 8 ounces uncooked)
One 5.2-ounce container of Boursin Garlic and Herb cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
·         Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and generously spray your muffin pan with cooking spray.
·         In a large bowl, combine the crushed Ritz crackers, 1 cup of the shredded white cheddar cheese, and the melted butter, mixing well until the mixture holds together and resembles coarse sand.
·         Divide the mixture among the muffin cups and, using your fingers or the back of a spoon, firmly press the crust into the bottoms and up the sides of each muffin cup.
·         In another large bowl, combine the cooked (and still hot!) macaroni with 1/2 cup of the shredded white cheddar, the Boursin cheese, and the butter, mixing well.
·         In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sour cream, salt, and red pepper flakes, mixing well.
·         Add the egg/milk mixture to the cooked macaroni, mixing until all the ingredients are melted and smooth.
·         Place about 2-3 tablespoons of the macaroni mixture into each muffin cup.
·         Top each muffin cup with the remaining white cheddar.
·         Bake the mac and cheese pies until lightly golden on top, about 20-25 minutes.
·         Let cool slightly before removing from the muffin pan, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dry Erase Board

The next project I attempted for my office d├ęcor [read more about that here], was this dry erase board from on MrsCraftyPants.


I don’t know why I never thought of writing on glass as a dry erase board before. Which is precisely why I love pinterest, I’m always finding genius ideas on there!

Anyway, I thought this dry erase board would be perfect to put on my desk. I’m always writing small notes to myself or making lists on scraps of paper and post – its. This will be the perfect fix to wasting all that paper.

So I bought a frame.

And gathered my fabric. I just used the left over shower curtain from the tray project. I still have plenty left so I’m trying to figure out what to do with it all.

All you do is pop out the back of the frame, cut a piece of fabric to fit, and glue it on. So easy!

I’ve been using it for a week now and it definitely comes in handy!

I just love simple, crafty projects!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mini Cannoli Cream Cups

In addition to the Cake Batter Dip, I also made these Mini Cannoli Cream Cups from Cooking with Sugar for last week’s book club. However, I ran into some issues and didn’t end up putting them out.
I made the cream and the cups the night prior but kept them separate until right before I was going to serve them.

I started by making the cream as directed. This is where I ran into my issues.  Now I’ll admit, I didn’t watch the directional video posted on Cooking with Sugar. In hindsight, I probably should have.

I used the wrong attachment for the mixer. I should have used the whisk. Also, I don't think I mixed for as long as I should have.

The cream was very thin and watery. I put it in a gallon freezer bag and threw it in the fridge to chill, (hoping it would thicken). Then I went on to make the cups. I spread the cinnamon and sugar on the pie crust and pressed it in with a rolling pin.

Next step is to cut circles in the pie crust to press in the mini muffin tin. I didn’t have a round cookie cutter so I used a drinking glass.

The cup just happened to be the perfect size for the mini muffin trays! I pushed the pie crust into the cups.

And baked for about 8 minutes.

I sealed the cups in a separate zip lock bag and left them on the counter until right before serving.

Right before book club, I filled one up and taste tested it. I decided it wasn’t that great and didn’t put it out for my guests to try.

The Verdict: They came out terrible. The cream never thickened up and it didn’t taste anything like cannoli cream. It just tasted like straight up ricotta cheese. I will say that they did look very cute! The shells tasted good as well. What a shame that the cream left so much to be desired.

Things to Note/Consider: I believe they came out poorly due to user error. I definitely suggest mixing the cream well and use a whisk attachment. Sugar suggests straining the ricotta cheese a day ahead of time to make the cream thicker. If I ever decide to make these again, I would definitely try her tip.

Cannoli cream is just not my forte!

Mini Cannoli Cream Cups
adapted from Cooking with Sugar

For Cups

Flour for dusting the surface
Refrigerated pie crusts
3 tablespoons natural coarse sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For Cream

1 (15oz) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup mini chocolate chips

  • In a large bowl with an electric mixer combine all the ingredients for the cream except the chocolate chips until creamy.
  • Put the cream in a freezer bag and chill while you make the cups.
  • Unroll the pie crusts onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Lightly roll with rolling pin to press in the cinnamon & sugar.
  • Cut circles and press into ungreased mini muffin trays.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees or until lightly golden.
  • Once the cups are cool, they can be filled with the cream.
  • Sprinkle with chocolate chips and confectioner’s sugar.
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