Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Featured Craft: Christmas Cookie Plate by Cari!

Today I'm featuring an easy, super adorable Christmas craft done by my friend Cari who writes the blog Adventures of the Roberts. Cari is a personal friend of mine who I've known since we were both engaged and planning July weddings in 2010 :) She's one of my Knottie loves!

Cari has a sweet little girl named Bre and created an adorable plate for her to put out Santa's cookies on for Christmas Eve. The end result of her craft was soooo cute


I'm going to do a similar crafted plate for Conner this year. It's just too cute! 

You can find Cari's post for this craft here. It's got simple, easy to follow instructions, which are always wonderful!

Happy crafting!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's Cooking Wednesday? Semi-Homemade Pizzas

It's link-up day with Young from The Mrs. Diaries! And today I'm talking pizza :)

One of our favorite dinners is make-your-own pizza night in our house. It's the chance for hubby and I to get crafty or classic with our meal. Recently Derek got crafty with an alfredo based pizza, and I stuck to the classics making myself a nice, cheesy pepperioni pizza. YUM.

We always start out with Pillsbury thin-crust pizza dough. It's easy, yummy and a staple in our fridge for those nights when we are at a loss for dinner ideas.


For Derek's pizza, he started out with a light layer of mozzarella cheese


Then he spooned on the sauce, which was Classico Light Asiago Romano Alfredo



Then came the grilled chicken and more mozzarella....



And the kicker...Siracha!


I went more classic with my own pizza. Since I was sharing mine with Conner, we did extra cheese and half pepperoni! I started with the sauce...I like Bertolli Olive Oil and Garlic sauce on these pizzas.



Then the cheese, a quick sprinkle of ground black pepper, and the pepperonis



In the oven they went at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Now, the directions say to pre-bake the dough for 5 minutes first, but we didn't see that until after the fact...and truthfully I doubt it makes much of a difference. Our pizzas turned out awesome!




If you're a blogger and want to join in on our little link up, grab the button below, write up a recipe post, link This Whole Mommy Thing and The Mrs. Diaries and comment below! We'd love to hear what you're cooking this Wednesday :)
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Baseball Birthday!

I'm finally getting around to writing about the big event...Conner's Birthday Party! (and yes, it all needs capitalization).

So if you've been following along over the past few weeks, you'll know that I was planning a baseball bash for my dude. I'm a HUGE Phillies Phan (yes, phan with a PH) and naturally I'm raising an equally big little phan (ha!), so this year Conner stole 2nd base with a birthday bash!

I spent a while scouring Pinterest and planning ideas. Perhaps my favorite idea from his party were the Pinterest-inspired favors that all of the kids took home. What started out as an idea for wiffle/plastic baseball sets for each kid evolved into them also taking home a box of Cracker Jacks...and then with a sweet score from Conner's Godmother's sister (still following there?) each kiddo also got to take home a real Phillies hat. Awesome, right? I hit the dollar store for the baseball sets and some poster board to make baseball tags, and Safeway for the Cracker Jacks. The baseball sets were, well...duh, a dollar each plus a buck for three sheets of poster board. Cracker Jacks were $1.79 for a three pack and I grabbed a pack of clear plastic gift bags at Walmart for less than $2 and a spool of curling ribbon for $2.99 and came up with...



So total for the favors I spent about $2 per kid. Way less than what you'd spend filling party bags with candy and knick-knacks, and really stinking cute!

On the menu for the party, we had:
  • Fruit kabobs
  • Bags of chips
  • Popcorn
  • Hot dogs with all the toppings you can think of including
    • ketchup
    • mustard
    • relish
    • jalepeno ketchup
    • bacon bits
    • cheese
    • crunchy onions
  • Corn dogs
  • Kielbasa
  • Sausage and peppers
  • A veggie tray
  • Nachos
  • Real hoagies from Philly (thanks to hubby's uncle! And his parents who were the hoagie transporters)
  • Sodas, lemonade, beer and adult strawberry lemonade (Country Time lemonade, vodka, frozen strawberries...YUM)
  • And of course, BIRTHDAY CAKE! Made by me, naturally.
We got a lot of the food supplies at Costco because you can get everything in bulk and their prices are awesome. I served popcorn in those cute little cartons which I found at Party City for $7/10, and we decorated with dollar store crepe paper and baseball centerpieces, Party City balloons and a really cool "grass" printed vinyl table cloth on our kitchen island.

I'm super proud of how Conner's cake turned out. The dude was treated to cookies n cream cake decorated with whipped frosting (the same icing recipe from my recent cupcake post) and graham cracker crumbs...




I piped the "grass icing" with a Wilton leaf tip, and the baseball candles were ordered from Amazon :)

After all of the planning and hard work, it seemed like everyone had a good time, and my little boy had a pretty awesome second birthday. We are truly blessed and grateful that we have such wonderful people in our lives who came to help make Conner's birthday such a special one!

AAAAAAND it was even more special because daddy got to be home with Conner to blow out his birthday candles!



And yes, my nails were painted appropriately for the occasion :)









Thursday, November 7, 2013

What's Cooking Wednesday: Birthday Cupcakes!

So I fully realize that I'm a day late on the What's Cooking Wednesday post. But I was busy celebrating the dude turning 2 yesterday! So I'm posting my super yumminess today, and I know you'll all forgive the day-late-ness when you realize that today I'm talking...CUPCAKES.

Yeah.

So when you're my kid, you get a cake at your party and cupcakes on your birthday. That's just how it goes, because cake at a party is wayyy different than cake on your actual birthday. And let's face it: it's just not your birthday without cake. So yesterday, while Conner napped, I whipped up a batch of cupcakes that are 1) super easy 2) super yumm-tastic and 3) super cool looking.

So let's start with the cupcake itself...

I started with a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. You can totally cheat here if you wanted to and use box mix, but truthfully vanilla cake mix is easy to whip up if you have all of the ingredients. There's a great basic cake recipe here from Spoonful.com. If you are using box mix though, I highly suggest swapping out the water for milk if you can because I find it helps to make a slightly denser (but not too dense) cake which is what you want for a cupcake. Once I had the batter mixed, I divided it into two mixing cups and added yellow food coloring (for cake batter I use liquid coloring) to one and green and yellow to the other...

I set them aside for a few minutes and proceeded to line my cake pan with cupcake liners...and then I added a bit of magic. Which is really just a whole Oreo in the bottom of the liner....but seriously, it's cupcake magic.

Then I filled one row of liners 3/4 of the way with the yellow batter and drizzled a green blob on top of that. I took a kabob stick (a toothpick would work fine here too) and swirled the batters together to give a tie-dyed marble-y look. Then I alternated with the green batter for the next row and so on...



Then in the oven they went for about 20 minutes, and when they came out...woo hoo!




Now while the cupcakes were in the oven, I made the world's easiest icing. It's also the most delicious. I hate store-bought icings because they're hard to spread and they are allllways way too sticky sweet for me. So I've found an icing that I love, holds up really great and pipes easily on top of a cupcake.

Are you ready for how easy this is?

2 tubs of thawed Cool Whip (cold, but not frozen)
1/2 package of instant vanilla pudding

I'm not kidding. That's it. Dump everything in the mixing bowl, turn on the mixer and walk away for 15 minutes (unless you have a handheld mixer. Then don't walk away. That would be bad). The pudding helps stiffen the Cool Whip and it all whips together into the most delicious frosting ever. And since the pudding mix doesn't add any kind of color to the Cool Whip, it gives you a nice clean base to add whatever coloring you want to the frosting. For mine, I added a heap of blue gel coloring and it turned out AWESOME. But always use gel here, never liquid coloring, because the gel is more concentrated meaning you'll get brighter color without adding extra liquid.

Once the cupcakes came out of the oven, I popped them out of the pan to allow them to cool faster. While they cooled, I filled my pastry bag with frosting and prepared to decorate. Now, pastry bags can be a pain to fill because it can get messy, especially if you are adding too much frosting to quickly or don't have a hand to hold the bag open for you to fill. I've been piping icing for years now and just recently mastered the art of filling the bag, via my own ingenuity and a Hard Rock Cafe glass...

First, cut the end off of your pastry bag and insert your decorating tip



Then open your pastry bag and, tip down, drop it into a tall, wide-mouthed glass (a beer glass is ideal here because of it's shape!)

Fold the top of the bag around the rim of the glass

Fill the bag with icing using a spoon (which is better than a spatula here because it allows you to get icing further down into the bag without making a big mess)



Carefully pull the sides of the bag up around the filled part, and you're ready to pipe icing!


I always pipe icing for cupcakes because it looks nice, and truthfully I think it's easier and cleaner than doing it with a spatula or spoon! Add some cake sparkles and a few sprinkles and viola! You've got awesome looking and awesome tasking cupcakes fit for any birthday!


Bet you're drooling right about now, huh? :)



So there you have it, my What's Cooking Wednesay (on Thursday) cupcake edition! If you missed Young's post on The Mrs Diaries, she's got a great recipe for Korean Chicken Stew. And if you're a blogger and want to join the link-up, grab the button below and join us on Wednesdays! Don't forget to leave a comment and share your recipe, and link us in your post :)
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Until next time,