navygreen: (Baking)
What do you make when you're invited to a birthday BBQ in the summer?

"Hot Off the Grill Cupcakes," of course!

Hot Off the Grill Cupcakes.


I came across this idea in my latest issue (August/September) of Taste of Home magazine, and I thought it was just the cutest idea! The original decoration is shown on a brownie, rather than a cupcake, and topped with candies. However, I had some buttermilk I wanted to use up, so I opted to go with my Chocolate Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes (minus the icing and cherry buttercream) as the building block instead. I love the springy texture of this chocolate cake, and it's quickly become my go-to recipe for using up leftover buttermilk. I never have complaints when I give away cupcakes to all our neighbors and friends, either! *wink*

To make these oh-so-hot treats, you'll need the following:

  • 2 dozen cupcakes (or brownies, as the original idea suggests)

  • 1 can store-bought chocolate frosting (omit if using brownies)

  • orange icing sugar

  • 72 pieces Hot Tamales candy

  • black royal icing (piping consistency)


Click for more. )

You could jazz these up even more, too. Try some Hershey's Chocolate Drops™ to make tiny burgers, or small bits of red and yellow royal icing for ketchup/mustard accents. I can't wait to do more the next time I make these! :-D


(As an aside, I'm ridiculously proud of the photos in this posting, as every single shot is "SOOC," or "straight-out-of-camera" with no post-processing at all. *squeee*)
navygreen: (Texas)
I miss BBQ.

That is the ONE thing we find lacking in Minot (both the base and the town): there isn't a single BBQ joint at all.

After living here for almost 14 months, we finally trekked back down to Bismarck today to eat at Famous Dave's. It was wonderful, and we ordered extra to bring home dinner for the next night or two. (No, really. We ordered the $60 "Feast" just to bring home!)

It was so worth the 5-hour drive. :-)
navygreen: (HP: Wood - snitch)
We just returned home from the Jones's Super Bowl party. Everyone had a great time, even if Philip was the only Steelers fan in the bunch! (Not that everyone else was a Packers fan, of course. Some were Dolphins, Panthers, etc.) There were a ton of kids in the 9-16 range this time, so the boys were quite entertained as well - an unexpected bonus!

When I asked Jennifer earlier in the week what she needed for the party, she said there was plenty of food planned, but nothing sweet. Sweet?! I'm pretty sure I can handle that! *wink*

Super Bowl Cookies.


I made cookies & cupcakes! I had an order for Steelers Super Bowl cookies for today, so I figured, "Why not go ahead and make double?" Then I decided to make a gift dozen for my friend Jan (HUGE Steeler fan!) and surprise her with them. While I was cutting out the cookies, Philip asked if I could make a few extra for a guy in his squadron, so I made eight more for Benford, too. Suddenly, 24 cookies turned into 61!

Click to see LOTS more pictures of the cookies! )
navygreen: (Food Porn)
I made these two new recipes for the boys' big sleepover on the 21st, and I definitely want to share them! They were well received by the crowd of boys, and I am already planning when I will make them each again.

Banana Pineapple Bread.
Banana Pineapple Bread.


This sweet bread has just a bit of tangy pop! from the crushed pineapple, and I thought it would be such a nice perk from the heavier winter foods. I wasn't wrong! It made two loaves, and the nine boys here polished off one loaf in just minutes!

Recipe and another picture. )

Cheddar Sausage Muffins.
Cheddar Sausage Muffins.


These hearty muffins were so light and springy in texture, and the golden bits of cheeses throughout made them practically melt in your mouth. You could easily substitute the sausage for another meat of your choice, too!

Recipe. )
navygreen: (Office: Dwight - Dwigt?)
It's been a relatively lazy day around here. I went to bed at almost 7:30 this morning, when Philip came home from work. (Yes, I was awake all night. It's the new routine I'd gotten into over Christmas break, I think.) We both slept until 2pm, about the time A.J. was to be home. I showered and Philip shoveled snow. By the time we were finished, Jack was also home from school!

We headed to the commissary for a short list to round out the rest of this meal plan, and I also grabbed all the things for a craving: Italian noodle salad. I had it over the summer at a party, and I fell in love! I don't really remember exactly what was in it, so I did my best tonight trying to make it. I boiled pasta, chopped up a small jar of black olives and a tomato, diced 1/4 of a white onion, then bathed it all in Italian dressing. I put it in the fridge to marinade overnight, and I can't wait to dig in tomorrow for lunch.

Tonight's dinner was an easy one: BBQ Chicken Pitas, mixed vegetables, and pears. I sprinkled a tiny bit of mozzarella cheese over the succotash (sufferin'!) before serving, and it was a neat change. I already have tomorrow's main entree ready, too - a smaller lasagna that I made on Christmas Day with the larger one that I took to our dinner hosts. I had frozen the small one (unbaked), and I'll make a loaf of fresh garlic french bread to go with it tomorrow. It should be an easy dinner for Philip to handle on his own.

I put out the word last night for an impromptu girls' night to several friends. I'd been wanting to catch Burlesque, and it will be showing at the base theatre. I invited some gal pals to watch the movie with me, then head to J.R. Rockers for appetizers and drinks afterward. It should be fun, and there's a few of us lined up now, plus two more that will be joining just for the food later. I'm excited for a night of chit-chat!

I've been watching tons of chick flicks lately on Philip's nights of work. Last night, I watched Sweet November and The Truth About Love. He's home tonight, and we're about to finish up Repo Men (we watched half of it a few weeks ago, but the movie was messed up and we received a replacement disc today). Here's to the last bits of Friday night!
navygreen: (Baking)
The secret is simple:

:-)

Fresh, warm Snickerdoodles at my house this afternoon. A perfect companion to cool weather and a cup of tea. :-)
navygreen: (Toast)
Happy New Year to all of you!

We felt so very loved last night, having invitation to three different parties to ring in the new year, but it involved some fancy footwork, too! We skipped the third party, but we attended two, and they were both wonderful times. :-)

I made some cookies, but they were complete and utter FAIL. Trust me on this one. (However, so many folks were already disbelieving on Facebook that I actually did take pictures of the sloppy mess!) I was making them on the 30th, and I was so very disappointed. So, to save the day on the 31st, I baked these instead:

Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Peppermint Buttercream.
Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Peppermint Buttercream.**


They're not cookies, but they were oh-so-good! Not only that, but the lasting minty taste made you feel as if you just brushed your teeth. Rest assured, the sugar involved says otherwise! *wink*

We took the cupcakes to the second party first, dropping them off. The temp was well below 0°, so if the cupcakes had just been in the car, they would have frozen solid! Then we took ourselves and the rest of the cupcakes to the first party. They were very well-received at both places - success!

** Picture is SOOC - no post-processing at all!
navygreen: (Fall: pumpkin)
You're either gonna love me or hate me for this one, folks. Maybe love me because it's so good... and then hate me also because it's so good? This is A KEEPER!

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake.
Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake.


I got the recipe for this from this month's issue of Taste of Home. Surprisingly, the recipe was really just on an ad inside the magazine for cream cheese! I couldn't wait to try it, and I planned it as a special dessert for our dinner guests last night.

Recipe, plus two more photos. )
navygreen: (Food Porn)
This dish is simply amazing. The flavor is bright and bold, fruity that just pops! in your mouth. The chicken was so juicy and tender... literally, I had clear juices running down my fork and onto my hand! I just can't express how wonderful this is, and how much I absolutely adore it.

Chicken with Blueberry Sauce.
Chicken with Blueberry Sauce.


The two times I've made the chicken, I've paired it with Honey-Garlic Angel Hair and boiled carrots. It works well together, and we love stirring the leftover sauce into the pasta for an extra kick once the chicken is eaten. :-)

Recipes. )
navygreen: (Sugar Cookies!)
I'm taking a break from vacuuming to make a little post. When I'm done, I'll do the basement and then head to bed, and I'll feel better all around. :-D

La la la la la la la la la laaaaaaahhh! (Sorry, that's the song.)

Growing up, what were some of your very favorite books? I'm talking young books here, elsewise I would be mentioning some serious love for Ramona Quimby (did you hear there's going to be a movie?!) or Claudia Kishi and Dawn Schafer (I can't tell you the number of "clubs" I formed while reading that series). No, I want to know about your favorites when you were itty-bitty.

One I loved for my older sister to read to me was The Fat Cat. I have our family's old copy, and it still resides in Jack's room. Another favorite was Doctor De Soto, and I still see pictures in my mind when I visit the dentist. I dragged Animals of Buttercup Farm with me everywhere (and still have it!), and I can remember my mom reading it to me over and over. And then I went through a Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite phase, and I swear I read Happy Birthday, Buddy Blue every day (also one I still have).

And of course, I had favorites from Dr. Seuss practically memorized. (Who doesn't, even now?!) But a special treat that I only remember reading while at the library were Curious George books. And oh, he had so many fun tales! With my boys last week, I was on a mission to re-find that ol' monkey, and I counted over twenty different titles! I checked out two for inspiration (the original Curious George and Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon), and I was set.

What did I need inspiration for? Cookies, of course!

Curious George cookies for Elsa's 3rd birthday.


My Aunt Mary ordered cookies for my cousin Alisa's daughter Elsa's third birthday. At first, she mentioned wanting the girl monkey cookies (... which, apparently, I've not journaled about yet?!), but then she changed her mind to Curious George. I was so excited to try something new and challenging!

I flipped through the books and found a few pictures to attempt, and then I tossed in a few "title" cookies, as well as a few big "3" cookies for little Elsa. And to make things even more busy, I iced these at the same time as another order (boy monkey cookies that also haven't yet made it to LiveJournal), so I had piping bags and flooding bottles all over the place!

But that's what makes it so fun, right? :-)



Many more cookies! )

Now, Curious George at his most mischievous ranks right up there with Alexander on his most terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days... but I want to hear about YOUR favorites, too. :-)

The matching Thank-You cookie.
The matching Thank-You cookie for the order.

navygreen: (Food Porn)
Per [livejournal.com profile] bekkas's request, this yummy, rich recipe that is perfect for cold nights and summer potlucks. :-)

Baked Mac 'n Cheese.
Baked Mac 'n Cheese.


Recipe. )
navygreen: (Fourth of July)
Patriotic Pancakes.
Served with cheesy eggs and bacon.


Two more. )

We've got our holiday celebration party to attend tomorrow (that's when Philip's flight will be off, though he's on leave right now himself), so tonight's dinner was a low-key affair. Still, I wanted to jazz it up a bit, and the boys absolutely loved it. A.J. actually made the pancake batter and prepared the eggs, and then he scrambled them in the skillet while I cooked the pancakes.

Philip and Jack headed to the pool for a few hours this afternoon after we'd gone grocery shopping. After spending about four hours at the big pool in town yesterday, A.J. voted to stay home from swimming today. I'm not surprised - Philip said they each hiked the stairs and went down the HUGE waterslide about 39 times each yesterday!

As the evening winds down, I wish you all a Happy 4th!
navygreen: (Sugar Cookies!)
I can finally crawl out of the kitchen for just a moment. I swear, I've been tied to both the kitchen and my oven since early Friday morning.

I was working on an order of 230 cookies for pageant gifts, and it was so very time-consuming. Altogether, my tally sheet looks like this:

- 18 sheets of dough (9 batches)
- 80 rollouts (each time I rolled out and re-rolled scraps)
- 39 bakings at 12 minutes each (six cookies to a sheet)
- 4 batches of royal icing
- two very, very exhausted hands

Crown Cookies.


I'm very pleased with the final results, though. It was such a relief this morning to bag up these cookies and reclaim some space in my dining room, bar, and kitchen! Tonight, I'll tie up tags onto the bags (dropped off by the little girl's mother), and then I'll pack these into shipping boxes tomorrow morning. These cookies will be mailed down to Arizona for the Worlds competition of "Little Miss La Petite," and I wish Abigail the very best of luck!

In case you're curious as to how MANY cookies 230 really, really is, click through to see more! )

Now, I'm off again to finish up two more sets of cookies I began today. After the fourth straight day of cookies, I'll be asleep before my head hits the pillow tonight!
navygreen: (Boys: hug)
Philip's parents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary this past weekend. To love on 'em, the boys made special cookies to send to them.

This was the boys' first time decorating cookies. Before that, they each picked out the special cookie cutter shapes they wanted to use, surprising me with their choices. Jack picked out a giant heart and a duck (?), and A.J. chose a Halloween kitty (??). They were so excited to get to work!

They piped the outlines first, and I must say they did a really good job! Piping tension isn't an easy task to master, but they did well. Then they flooded and toothpick'd the fillings. Jack wrote his name on a few cookies, but he used the flooding icing to do so... it kinda bled out. ;-)

Jack's flag heart.
Jack's heart.


While working, Jack had the idea to make one of his giant hearts a flag. (They only had white in piping consistency - none for flooding, by the way.) It turned out very cool! Read more. )

Strike!

Jun. 7th, 2010 07:14 pm
navygreen: (HP: Wood - snitch)
My friend Juanita and her husband won the base-wide bowling championship down at Offutt AFB about a month ago. I wanted to make her some cookies to celebrate, but I didn't have any bowling-related cutters.

THEN, I noticed the announcement asking for refreshments for Isaac's blood drive, and I set about looking for a tractor cutter as well. As luck would have it, I found both great cutters on the same site! Even more in luck, the blood drive refreshments needed to be mailed to Juanita - meaning I could surprise her as well! :-)

Bowling.


I wrapped them in red ribbon and packaged them in a crate with lots and lots of red tissue paper. I nestled them inside the box with all the blood drive cookies and a special note for Juanita on top. When she received them, she loved them - yay!

But I have an important question for any future bowling pin cookies - something Philip and I debated over when I set to decorating. Is it one stripe, or two? )

In addition, I had just seven little squares leftover when I ran out of green flood material for making the John Deere logos, so instead I flooded them with yellow, making a fun treat for the boys to eat. See?

Summer's here!

navygreen: (High)
I've mentioned Isaac before. I know so many of you remember him and his story, and I want to tell you just a bit more.

Isaac's nickname around his home was "Bubba Smiley." I believe his daddy coined the name, and I can understand why - Isaac was always smiling! Any time I ever ran into the family, Isaac was nothing but smiles and mischief. Truly, he reminded me so much of our own "Happy Jack," only he was possibly even more smiley and happy.

Even while battling his cancer. He was just that kind of kid, you know?

One day, his teacher gave a writing assignment to the class. Each student was to tell the story of a "bad day." Now, keep in mind that Isaac had been battling cancer for over 2.5 years at this point. Remember that he had received over a hundred blood transfusions, spent MONTHS in the hospital at a time, had bouts of chemo and radiation, and had even received a bone marrow transplant. Yet, he sat still at his desk, and he was not writing anything at all. After time passed, his teacher, concerned, asked him if he was having problems with some part of the assignment.

Isaac looked up at her and said, "Well, I've thought about it a lot, and I don't think I've ever had a bad day!"

...

Think through that one just a bit, will you? For me, deep inside, I yearn to be "like Isaac" when I'm all grown up. Wow.

Do you know the etymology of Isaac? "Isaac" means 'may God smile,' or 'He will laugh.' Shortly, the name means "laughter." And of course, it does - he is Bubba Smiley, after all! :-)



At Isaac's memorial service, we were all given a smiley face sticker to wear. Philip and I saved ours, putting them on a tin on our dresser to see every day when we dressed. In addition, we all wore green to the memorial - a special request from the family in keeping with Isaac's love of all things John Deere.

And it was for him and his family that I set out to make these very special cookies:



The cookies are for a special event - the 5th Annual Isaac C. Hall Superhero Blood Drive. Even at such a young age, Isaac was always helping to better life for those around him. After having to wait a few times for his own blood transfusions, he decided that wasn't good enough for all the sick kids of the world. He set up a blood drive so other kids would never have to wait like he had, and the blood drive surges forward now in his memory.

This time, after giving blood in honor of Isaac, donors will be able to snack on special treats that aim to help them know Isaac a little better - ones that will remind them to smile each and every day! :-)

More cookies. )
navygreen: (School)
The boys finished school last Thursday, May 27th. I think the entire last week (four days) were nothing but fun and games, but they had a great time. Tuesday and Wednesday were both Field Days, and then Thursday was a whirlwind of events as well.

Packaged and ready to go!
Bees and flowers!


When I set out for the school, a torrential downpour was just beginning. Despite putting my hood up, my glasses were still spotted with rain, and everything I was carrying was soaked through on top... and I parked in the first row near the school! I arrived at the school at 10:20, just a few minutes before A.J.'s 6th grade "Appetizer Social" was set to begin. They had four long tables of food spread, and I couldn't believe how much these kids could put away! A.J. had asked me to make chocolate chip cookies for the event, waiting until 9pm to do so. I'd gotten the boys off to school that morning, then hurriedly threw together a batch of cookies, baking two dozen before putting the rest of the dough in the fridge and zooming off to the school with the very-warm cookies for his class.

It was a nice, leisurely time with him and his classmates, and I enjoyed chatting with his teacher, too. A.J. delivered his teacher gifts while I had the basket of goodies there. After an hour, I left his classroom and headed towards Jack's for what was to be a "picnic lunch on blankets outside." My fleece blanket was still wet on the one side, so we folded it down and ate our sack lunches together. He and his classmates looked adorable in their tie-dyed t-shirts (they'd made them in class the Friday before), but it made Jack a bit harder to spot!

His teacher was just over-the-moon for the little gift that Jack gave both her and her classroom aide. He delivered a few others to special teachers around the school (P.E. and music), and then we settled on our blankets for a short movie in his classroom. After an hour-and-a-half, I then left his room to return the empty basket and blanket to the car. I returned and spent the next half-hour speaking with the guidance counselor about A.J.'s transition next year to middle school. It was a great way to spend the time. I purposely had not wanted to leave the school for that short time... just to fight for a parking spot when I returned at 1:30 for the awards assembly.

During the assembly, I gave my second seat to Jan, a friend and fellow graduate from our high school in West Virginia. We reminisced and planned to get together over the summer with the boys, and it was nice. Once the assembly was over, the boys returned to their classrooms for ice cream cones served by the PTA. After they were finished, they were free to leave, and we drove away about 30 minutes before the "official" end of school. And even after over four hours at the school, my hood and blanket were STILL WET!

Now it's full-on summer break, and they are living the easy life! They don't return to school until Aug. 26th. :-)

For the boys' teacher gifts, I made special sugar cookies. The boys also each picked out and wrote notes in a card, and then they presented the card and cookies together. I didn't go with the boys as they delivered extra cookie packages to the other teachers (principal, counselors, elective, etc.), but I was present when their full-time teachers received the gift, and they both LOVED them!

End-of-Year Teacher cookies.


More cookie pictures. )
navygreen: (Eeyore)
I wonder if anyone really loves bagels for anything more than their cream cheese delivery service?
navygreen: (Button!)
My neighbor has been expecting a sweet baby girl, and I've been excited for them to have their first baby. They are a darling young couple, and her husband is in Security Forces as well. From the moment they knew they were having a girl, they had the name settled, and the nursery was completed weeks ago. It's been so fun to welcome a sweet bundle into her spunky, lime-and-pink new life!

Tanya had a baby shower about a month ago, and I was so excited to be able to pick out a "fun" gift. You see, she'd already had two showers down in Georgia (where she's from), so she had the basics and necessities covered. As such, I had this necklace custom-designed for her to match her nursery, and she loved it. The details were perfect, and everything was in a perfect green-and-pink theme. I'd offered to help in any way possible, and she took me up on it: she asked me to make the cake or cupcakes.

Well. That was too easy, and I can't leave "well enough" alone, of course. So I began a separate project, too. Philip actually was a big piece of this surprise, as he called me one day (this was while he was in West Virginia visiting his father and family) to tell me that he'd gone to a craft store and picked up some baby cookie-cutters, knowing I didn't have any...

And then I made these:

Ducky cookies.
Ducky Cookies.


Other cookies. )

Lastly, I did also make two dozen of the originally requested cupcakes, tinting the frosting to match her colors:

Swirled Cupcakes.
Vanilla cake with buttercream frosting.



I spent a lot of extra time cooking last week, and I made them enough meals for their freezer to last them about ten days or so. I also mixed up a bunch of oatmeal "lactation" cookies and froze the dough in bites for Tanya to bake up whenever she needed. I think their freezer is fairly well-stocked for now!

Now, little Miss Emma was born late Tuesday night. She is just a doll, but she had an infection and originally wouldn't be allowed to go home until Friday. As of today, however, the situation has changed, and she is now not set to be discharged until Monday. Her mama, though, was "kicked out" of the hospital today. She had a terrible, horrible labor, and now her heart is just broken into pieces, having to leave her sweet girl behind at the hospital. If you would offer up any good thoughts or prayers for this precious family, it would be appreciated. :-)
navygreen: (Food Porn)
For St. Patrick's Day, I tried out a new recipe for homemade rolls. This dough comes together quickly, but then it raises in the refrigerator for a day or so. Because the first rise is out of sight, they seem to be much less tedious than regular double-rise rolls.

Southern Refrigerator Rolls.
Southern Refrigerator Rolls.


Two more pictures, plus recipe. )

I got 49 good-sized rolls, plus a half-dollar sized nugget, out of the dough. We ate about ten of them with the corned beef and cabbage, and then we used a dozen the next night for Burger Sliders. The remaining half of rolls I put in the freezer. I'd pull a handful out and microwave them for 45 seconds or so on a plate, and then serve up with other dinners. They were fresh-tasting, light, and buttery, and I plan to make more soon just to put in the freezer again.

On the 17th, the boys and I feasted on my first-ever corned beef and cabbage. Jack loved it all, but A.J. and I weren't crazy about the cabbage. The meat was seasoned fantastically, however. I couldn't wait to make my first Reuben sandwiches with the leftovers.

Now, I've never had a true Reuben in my life. In fact, just the smell of sauerkraut alone is enough to send me running from a room - ICK. I had also looked around enough to know that a traditional Reuben is served with a Russian dressing. I didn't bother searching to find exactly what a Russian dressing would be closest to, though. Instead, we each dressed up our sandwiches how we felt would be the tastiest. I pan-toasted slices of honey wheat bread in a skillet, and then I topped them with the leftover shredded corn beef and caramelized onions (which I'd been searing in another skillet to warm). I put melty Swiss cheese on mine and drizzled it with a Parmesan Caesar dressing.

OMG, it was to-die-for!

My take on Reubens.
My take on Reubens.


I pan-fried the rest of the potatoes and caramelized onions from the CrockPot together and served them up as chunky home fries with the sandwiches. The entire meal was wonderfully delicious, and I can't wait to make it again. I'll forgo the cabbage entirely this time, just roasting up a nice corned beef in the same seasonings. YUM!

One more picture. )

For Christmas, my dad had bought us one of those Burger Sliders patty-making grill presses - the kind you see advertised on TV. They make tiny burgers - one pound of ground meat makes 14 burgers - so we needed tiny buns, too. The leftover Refrigerator Rolls were perfect!

Sliders and Potato Bacon Salad.
Sliders and Potato Bacon Salad.


Please forgive the end, chunky slice of tomato on my burger. I won't waste the ends, even if they don't make for a pretty picture. *wink* Also, this potato salad is my go-to recipe. I love that is has bacon, carrots, and egg in it - the taste is a winner every time.

Potato Bacon Salad recipe. )

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