Monday, July 18, 2011

For The Love of Disney World...and Coffee Mugs

Anybody that knows me, knows that I love love love Walt Disney World.  Seriously, who doesn't???  It is the happiest place on earth!  I grew up in Orlando and took for granted I would always be able to go when ever I wanted.  Now I live 1400 miles away and haven't been in at least 4 years.  I can't wait to go back!!!!

OK, next thing about me.  I collect coffee mugs.  Isn't that silly???  I collect coffee mugs...and pens, but that's another story.  I try to get a coffee mug everywhere I go.  Let's face it.  It's the practical souvenir.  If you are a coffee drinker (I love coffee), this is at least something you will use.  Really, what are you going to do with a collection of tiny spoons?  Unless you know a colony of leprechauns, these are useless.

So, I've told you these things so I can tell you what I got today.

No, I did not get a person.  That's my friend Lara (on the left)  This picture is a couple of years old, but what a great memory!  We decided to have a wine tasting at her house.  We set out different kinds of wine and foods to pair with them.  If I recall correctly, we had A LOT of wine.  Not a lot of food. 

Sorry, I've wandered.  Anyway, my good friend Lara goes to Disney World every chance she gets, which these days seems to be every other weekend.  The last time she went I told her to send me a mug.  Here we are a month later, and today it appeared on my door step. 

I thought it was so great, it was worth pulling out my photo box to take pictures of it. 

I am well aware that some of you are laughing at me right now.  I'm OK with that! 

Aside from the 3 mugs I have with my son's art on them (it was a school fundraiser, and I think he drew the same picture for all 3), I think this is my new favorite.  It has 50, yes 50 Disney Characters.  I'm proud to say that I knew all but 1.  It's bigger than the average mug.  That means it holds more coffee...YAY!!!!

Best of all, when I use it I will think of my friend.  Thank you Lara for this small fantastic gift!!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Baking Bug Hits Again!

Even with the heat of summer and no central air conditioning, the baking bug has hit again! 

Fresh berries are in season and available everywhere.  USE THEM!!!!  They are fabulous! 

Raspberry is one of my favorite flavors.  I use it year round including Christmas when I make White Chocolate Raspberry bars...check back in December for that one!

Today's creation couldn't be just about the berry though.  It's been too stressful of a week (the first week back from vacation always is).  Oh no...I wanted to recreate that one piece of candy I always look for in the Valentines Day box of chocolate.

Are you getting my vision  Wait for it...Raspberry filled Dark Chocolate Cupcakes!!!!!  Can you say yummy????

Not just regular raspberry filling either.  This is a cream cheese raspberry filling made with Grand Marnier.  Pure decadence!!!!!! 

Then it gets better...could it be?!?!?!

YES IT COULD!!!  Add fresh raspberry buttercream frosting!!!!!!  OMG!!!!!!  Seriously, I've died and gone to heaven. 

This is not a child's cupcakes.  This is for the serious chocolate lover.  This is for the person that understands that you should take your time to eat it.  It is an indulgence! 

Enjoy with a your favorite glass of wine.  I assure you that anything that went wrong in your day will disappear!!!!


Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Raspberry Filling

Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
10 cups powdered sugar
8oz fresh raspberries

Dark Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons sour cream

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (32oz) package powdered sugar


Start with the filling ingredients.  Mix cream cheese and butter until creamy.  Add vanilla, salt, Grand Marnier, mix well.  Add powdered sugar 2 cups at a time until blended, then on high whip until fluffy.  Add in the fresh raspberries.  Mix until well combined.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While filling is in the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, whisk egg and brown sugar until smooth.  Add milk, cream, butter, and vanilla; mix until combined. Add in sour cream.  In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture.  Mix until batter is smooth.  Line cupcake pan with liners.  Fill each liner with 1/4 cup mixture.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out smooth. Let stand for 5 minutes until slightly cool. Using a filling injector (can be found at Michaels in the baking aisle), inject filling into cupcake...slowly as not to overfill.

For the frosting, in a mixing bowl, combine butter, raspberries, vanilla, and salt.  Beat on medium speed until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix on low until blended and smooth after each addition.  Once cupcakes are cooled completely, frost.

Powdered sugar is very sweet.  I always taste my frosting and fillings in between additions of sugar.  I rarely use all that is called for. 
Make sure you rinse and carefully dry your berries before use.

One last thing...I was wondering if anybody else's counter looks like this when baking???? 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

S'mores & Birthday's Are The Perfect Combination

I very much dislike s'mores!!!!  I don't hate them, but I don't particularly care for them. 

Why do I dislike them you may ask.  Well, they are sticky.  I don't like sticky foods.  Usually you have them while camping.  I'm not a camper!  They involve marshmallow's.  I don't like marshmallow, except for those sugar covered peeps at Easter. 

My son, however, thinks s'mores are the very best food ever invented.  I am sure that if I would let him, he would eat them morning, noon, and night!  Today also happened to be his birthday.  Is there a better way to celebrate than combining both of our favorite things?  Cupcakes and s'mores!!!!  Yummy!!!!

Yes, that is marshmallow coming out of the top! OMG, really, I think THIS was the best idea ever!!!!!!!!!!!  While they were a little fussy to make (I don't usually do fuss), they were incredible! 

Then I frosted them...with MARSHMALLOW frosting!  I know before that I do not prefer marshmallows...I was wrong!!  I wanted to eat a big bowl of frosting.  It is my new favorite. 

I don't even want to share these, they were so good.  But, it was my son's birthday.  So...HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVID!!!!

Right after this picture, he claimed it was the best birthday ever. Then we played Rock Band...I'm awesome at it!  I think there will need to be a contest soon.  We'll leave that to another post! 



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup oil
6 - 8 jumbo marshmallows cut in half

Graham Cracker Crumb topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together with a wire whisk.
Separate the mixture in half into two bowls.
Stir cocoa into one bowl and the graham cracker crumbs into the other.
Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup oil to the cocoa mixture and beat on medium until combined.
Repeat adding the same ingredients to the graham cracker crumb flour mixture.
Prepare the graham cracker crumb topping.
Add the brown sugar and crumbs in a small bowl and pour on the melted butter. Stir until combined.
Pour a little graham cracker cake batter into the bottom of your baking cups and then sprinkle the topping mixture lightly on the surface.
Place a marshmallow half on top and then cover the marshmallow with the chocolate cake batter until it is about 3/4 full.
Sprinkle with more topping mixture.
Bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes. Place a cookie sheet underneath when you bake just in case. I had a little bit ooze over into the oven. Oops.
This recipe will make at least 12 cupcakes. I had a some batter from each left over so you can probably get more like 14-16.


4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tub (16oz) marshmallow cream (I used Fluff)

In a large bowl, mix butter until cream.  Beat in 1/4 of the sugar until fluffy, repeat with remaining sugar.  Beat in vanilla, then stir in marshmallow cream until well blended.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

So Sad To See The Weekend Go

OMG!!!  Words do not describe the weekend I had.  There was nothing overly spectacular.  I didn't win the lottery.  I didn't go on a fabulous trip.  I just loved my life.

Saturday morning started with a little bit of pampering.  A great cup of coffee while getting an incredible pedicure.  If you've ever had one you know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't had one, stop what you are doing right now and go do it!!!!!

Saturday night Mr. Sweet Life and I went out...without kids!!!!!  For the first time in, well, I don't remember how long.  We had a great dinner, just the 2 of us.  Afterwards we met some friends of ours to see a band at a local pub. 

Vinyl Groove - Kick Ass Band
We laughed, we drank, we danced, we had all around great time!!!!  Then Sunday morning happened.  I think we forgot what it feels like to have that good of a time, hahahaha!  I can say it was TOTALLY worth it!  Oh yeah, and thank goodness for greasy breakfast sandwiches.

Sunday brought what it always does.  Laundry, Nascar, and fantastic dinner!!!! Today's was no disappointment!

Pork tenderloin crusted in applewood smoked bacon, corn, and Parmesan roasted potato wedges.  The tenderloin was good, though I can take no credit other than taking it out of the package and following the cooking directions.  If you want to try this tenderloin, get a Sam's Club membership. 

Corn is just corn.  I don't have any good tips on corn except try to get it fresh.  In a couple of weeks we will have fresh corn stands everywhere.  It's always the best then.  I did recently read on The Southern Lady Cooks to add some sugar to the water when boiling it. She says it will bring out some of the sweetness.  I always boil mine in water with a little milk and butter.  GOOD STUFF!!!

Tonight's winner though were the potatoes!!!!  Again I stalked my favorite foodie site.  I was on the look out for a good side dish to complete our already great dinner.  Once again she did not fail me. 

Potato wedges...I always forget about this option.  My standards are mashed and baked.  Nothing exciting here.  Today, though, we had wedges...covered in herbs and parmesan cheese.  Do not under estimate the wonderfulness and many uses for parmesan cheese.  It's not just for shaking on spaghetti. 

I also can't speak enough about how easy this was.  I'm not one for extravagant.  I need something that looks and tastes like I put a lot of work into it, but really takes no more than 15 min prep before popping in the oven. What you get in the end...incredible!!!

These were in fact the perfect addition to our Sunday dinner.  We ended the night watching Marley and Me.  A perfect ending to a perfect weekend.  To all of those that made it great (especially my hubby)...thank you!!!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Secret Blog Crush

Can you have a crush on another blog? Because I do. 

I read several blogs, and they are all great!  I read a really good one that has book give aways all the time, Chick Lit Is Not Dead.  I'll do a post about them some day.  I read a lot about food because I am always looking for the next great recipe.

My crush today is on How Sweet It Is.  Seriously, she makes some of the most incredible looking food I've ever seen.  My favorite part is that we are not talking 5 star, super fancy, not even iron chef could make that food.  It's down home, simple ingredients, easy preperation food...that tastes wonderful.  Turned me into a full fledged foodie.

Since I became a follower just over a month ago, I have made 4 of her recipes.  Each one turned out great! I even owe her thanks for my first roasted chiicken.  Most recently, like 4 days ago, I made her brown sugar blueberry cookies.

Actually my son made them.  He made the batter anyway, while I made pasta fagioli soup.  I was a little concerned that the brown sugar would be too much, but it was perfect.

The other part of my crush is the pictures she takes.  As early as this weekend I will be aquiring a new camera.  For anybody that knows me,  you know I'm big on taking pictures of my food.  It is because of How Sweet It Is that I now set up the pictures.  At least I'm trying.  See number 6 on previous here.

So there it is.  I have a crush on another blog.  I read it everyday. I wait anxiously for my inbox to tell me there is a new post.  I am sad when the day is over and I've read what there is to read.  As I wait until tomorrow, I leave you with this, the recipe to these amazing cookies!


1 stick butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk
3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well until combine, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon with the mixer on low speed. Mix until dough comes together. Add in milk. If dough is still crumbly, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Fold in blueberries gently with a spatula – it is okay if they break a bit. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove dough from fridge and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls or scoop out with an ice cream scooper. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.  Makes 12-15 cookies


One last thing.  I sent these home with my father-in-law because I happen to know he is the best taste tester there is.  He gave them 2 thumbs up!  Thanks Poppy!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blueberry Bloggin'

What a week it's been!  I don't even know where to begin.  So let's start with blueberries!

On Monday I fell in love with blueberries.  They are in season (which means on sale), and they are everywhere.  I don't know about you, but to me they are the first indicator that summer is finally here.

First thing on my list - Banana Blueberry Bread.

I've never made banana bread with blueberries, so I searched and searched and searched some more for a recipe. In then end I decided on old reliable and threw in hands full of blueberries until it looked good.  What I got...turned out amazing! 

The smell that comes out of the oven while baking is worth it alone.  Turns out the taste is fantastic!!!!!  Three loaves came out of the oven.  Two went to offices and were enjoyed by many.  The third sits on my counter waiting to be devoured by my family.   I have listed the recipe below for all to try and enjoy!

3 large ripe bananas
1egg, well beaten
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large mixing bowl mash bananas well and mix with beaten egg.  Add sugar, melted butter, and vanilla, mix until well combined.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add half of the sifted ingredients to the banana mixture, mix well.  Add the other half  of the sifted ingredients and mix until combined completely.  Bake in 1 greased 5x9 loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Bread is done when a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.


Tuesday brought Brown Sugar Blueberry Cookies.  That's a story for another day!
(Check back tomorrow)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Good Ending To A Not So Great Day

Today was not a great day.  Any day that starts with having your car towed, the day after getting it back from the shop, is not going to be a good day. As a matter of fact I quoted one of my favorite kids books today several times, "Today is terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  I think I'll move to Australia."

This all ended when I got home.  As soon as I got home I did some of my favorite things.  First I put on my cozy clothes, including my favorite pair of cupcake print jammie pants.  Side note, I also wore cupcake print socks today. Do you see a theme here.  Next, since Mr. Sweet Life had a commitment to tend to this evening, my son and I ate left overs for dinner.  Nothing like beef with broccoli paired with mac and cheese...yum!. Lastly, I baked!!!!!

Those may look like mini chocolate cupcakes, but ooooohhhhh nnnnoooo.  They are fabulous, fantastic, wonderful cappuccino bon bons!!!!!!  It's one of those great things that you forget about, but then when they come up again you can't believe you had forgotten about them.  I should tell you now that this wonderful morsel of goodness was first brought to me by my good friend Lara.  She is an excellent cook and brought these to every party we had while we lived nearby...tear!  Thanks La!!!!!

Here's the thing about me and baking.  It's relaxing.  I know some people that dread the thought. I know some that say it's ok when they have to do it, but me I get pure joy out of it. There is something about mixing all of the ingredients in a bowl, baking it, and getting something delicious.  Let's face it, flour, baking powder, and even baking chocolate taste like crap on their own. Mix them together with a little oil and eggs, you get cake!  Who doesn't love that????

Really what made me want to bake tonight was the tub of leftover chocolate cream cheese frosting that was taunting me in the refrigerator.  I think at some point today I considered eating the frosting for dinner.  Perhaps not a great idea.  However, if you pair it with this little bite, it becomes dessert.

I can honestly say that by the time I was done frosting my bon bons I felt much better than I had at 8am.  I'd forgotten everything that bothered me today, I'd had some good laughs with my son, and good memories of good times with my friend who is so far away. So really, it was a good ending to a not so great day.  Now it's time to wrap up my tray of bon bons for my hubby to take to work tomorrow.  Maybe they will make somebodies day!

Sweet dreams all! Tomorrow will be a good day!