Food

English Toffee

Posted in Food on April 12th, 2011 by jen – Be the first to comment

As I've mentioned before, I am a staff liaison at my church. I wanted to make a birthday treat for one of the staff members, so I tried my hand at English Toffee. Our friend, Eric, made some using this Cooking for Engineers recipe a while back and it was so good. Mine got a big thumb's up in our house too.

English Toffee

I also brought some to a few of my girl friends who happen to be in our own Biggest Loser club. Chad asked if I was trying to sabotage, but since I'm not trying to win this time, I called it "A friend bringing treats." Right?!

Get Your Craft On Tuesday

Mickey Mouse Cake Pops

Posted in Food on April 3rd, 2011 by jen – 3 Comments

Molly's teachers asked parents not to bring in cake or cupcakes for birthday celebrations since preschoolers + icing = a big mess! So, in an effort to follow the rules yet still sneak in a bit of birthday cake, I made Mickey Mouse Cake Pops.

Mickey cake pops

You've never heard of cake pops, you say? It's cake mixed with icing and covered in chocolate. How can you go wrong? It's not the most healthy treat, but oh it's yummy goodness! Check out all the amazing cake pops at Bakerella.com.

If you decide to make some, here are a few tips from a rookie:

  • I melted my candy melts in a double boiler. When melted, I removed the boiler from the stove, but left the bowl of chocolate over the warmed water while dipping. This kept the chocolate warm and thin.
  • The chocolate coating cracked on several cake pops during my trail run. After much googling, I realized that the cake balls were too cold before I dipped them. So, when I made the Mickey ones, I let the balls sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before dipping. I'm happy to report there were no cracks the second time around!
  • I inserted the chocolate dipped lollipop sticks while the cake balls were sitting out. The coolness of the cake balls set the chocolate quickly so they were ready to dip.
  • I had some streaking showing up while dipping my Mickeys. I thought it was because of the 2 Tablespoons of shortening I added to thin out the melted chocolate. But I realized it was from the ears melting! I used milk chocolate candy melts for the ears, and dipped in dark chocolate. So, if you make the Mickey Mouse cake pops, I'd suggest using the same kind of chocolate for the ears and dipping.

Now go make some of this yummy goodness for yourself!

Making

Happy Mardi Gras Day!

Posted in Celebrations, Food, Kid crafts, Leah, Molly, Playdates on March 8th, 2011 by jen – 1 Comment

For the third year, I hosted a Mardi Gras celebration with my MOMS Club. I enjoy sharing this New Orleans tradition with my Maryland friends!

The party favors were made...

Mardi Gras cookies

And someone was very excited about eating king cake with her friends! I made a cream cheese filled, with cream cheese icing. Mmmm...

Mmmm, king cake

Molly welcomed everyone at the door saying, "Happy Mardi Gras Day!" The kids decorated their own king's crowns...

Decorating king's crowns\

then donned their hats and enjoyed a piece of cake.

Enjoying the cake

The more, the merrier

Each child left with Mardi Gras beads and a bag of cookies. I hope I lived up the the hype, as according to one friend, "It's the best event of the year!" I had to laugh when another friend said she'd been waiting years to come and was "starting to feel like [she] should camp out for tickets!"

Show and Tell Green

Come “Sip and See”

Posted in Food, Sewing on February 28th, 2011 by jen – 3 Comments

This weekend, I helped host a "Sip and See" for my friend, Emily, and her baby girl, Camille. Sip and See's are not common here, so it was a great way for us to bring a little Texas to Maryland for Emily.

I volunteered to make these monogrammed cookies. (And unlike what some may have thought, the C was not for Chad or Christy!)

C is for...

The guests were offered lots of tasty sweets while waiting to see the sweet baby!

The party spread

Christy, myself, Kathy and Helen with the honorees, Emily and Camille.

The hosts and honorees

I also made a bubble outfit and matching headband for Camille. Hopefully, it will fit her when the weather is warm. The pattern ran a bit bigger than I was expecting.

A bubble for the baby

Operation Cookie Bake

Posted in Food on February 10th, 2011 by jen – 6 Comments

This week, Molly and I embarked on Operation Cookie Bake. I volunteered to bake cookies for both our MOMS Club Valentine's party and Molly's preschool Valentine's celebration - 6 dozen in total! I decorated half of them, and found inspiration here, here and here. I had a great time creating all my mini masterpieces!

Operation Cookie Bake

linkparty

A fun dessert

Posted in Food on February 6th, 2011 by jen – 7 Comments

February 3rd was Elmo's birthday. That evening I brought dinner to my friend, Emily, who recently had a sweet baby girl. I decided to make them a fun dessert in honor of the furry guy. They were a hit with the 3 year old big brother!

And don't worry, I did make cupcakes for my own 3 year old, just not quite as fancy. Though she loved them just as much!

A fun dessert

Twelfth Day of Christmas {crafts}

Posted in Crafts, Food on January 5th, 2011 by jen – 1 Comment

I made homemade pure vanilla extract for my Mom, Mother-in-law and myself. Chad and I do not drink alcohol, so I got several funny looks when my family realized that I had to go to the liquor store and buy the vodka to make it!

If you are interested in making this too, I bought Madagascar vanilla beans and 8 ounce bottles from Beanilla.com. I made larger bottles than in the link above, so I used 4 beans per 8 ounces of Ketel One Vodka. The instructions on my tags were, "Use ½ amount called for in a recipe. Refill with Vodka as needed. Allow to ferment 6 weeks."

Homemade vanilla

And there you have it, folks. My "Twelve Days of Christmas {crafts}" is complete. If you missed any of them, here's the list again for your reading enjoyment!

Appliqued kitchen towels
Monogrammed clipboards
Reusable travel lids
Coffee cozy
Number bean bags
Felt bracelets
Buttercup bags
Superhero cape
Knitting needle roll
Ribbon tree shirts
Dignity robes

Bake. Decorate. Donate.

Posted in Food, Molly, Playdates on November 25th, 2010 by jen – 4 Comments

This week I hosted a Drop In & Decorate party for my MOMS Club. The idea is simple: decorate sugar cookies, then donate them to a local non-profit agency. The kids had a great time using squirt bottles to decorate the sugar cookies.

Drop In & Decorate

The kids also painted icing on the cookies.

Painting cookies

The moms joined in on the decorating fun too!

Moms joining in

More decorating fun

Decorating is serious business!

Concentrating

Throughout the day, over 40 kids and moms came to the house to decorate. Molly loved having so many friends to play with!

A full house

We had some creative designs created on the cookies.

Fun designs

Cookies = happiness

Everyone had such fun decorating that before I knew it we were out of cookies! In the end, over 200 cookies were decorated. The dining room was so colorful and smelled heavenly!

Colorful cookies

The cookies dried overnight and the next day we wrapped and boxed them for donation.

Wrapping cookies

I delivered 125 bags of sweet treats to the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center.

A sweet treat

The party was a huge success! Several moms talked about hosting a party with their Girl Scouts and military wives groups. The great thing about these Drop In & Decorate parties is that you can have 5 people or 40 people. If you are interested too, all the information and resources to do so is on the Drop In & Decorate website.

Squirt bottle painting

Posted in Food, Kid crafts, Molly, Playdates on October 18th, 2010 by jen – 2 Comments

Last week, I hosted a squirt bottle painting playdate. Squirt bottles + colored water + paper = happy kids! They sprayed so quickly that the water didn't really soak into the poster board, but they didn't care!

Squirt bottle painting

The kids did a nice job of sharing to end up with a nice waterfall of colors. They all had such fun!

Waterfall of colors

We all enjoyed owl s'mores when the masterpieces were completed.

Owl S'mores

Deliveries from the farmer

Posted in Food on September 28th, 2010 by jen – 2 Comments

We've been getting deliveries from South Mountain Veggies and South Mountain Creamery for several weeks. Every Thursday morning it's like Christmas on our porch to see what "the farmer" brings!

From the farmer

Some weeks I've had to be more creative in my cooking in order to use what comes in our share. I made pizza from scratch one night. Homemade tomato sauce, homemade whole wheat crust, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh red onions, fresh garlic, and some mozzarella. Yum.

Homemade pizza

I've also cooked some new things like eggplant and fennel, and one of the best things is that Chad has come around to tomatoes now that they are über fresh.