Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tree Stump Chalkboard Ornaments

This summer when we went to Ruidoso, NM for vacation, I brought home some tree limbs to be cut for use at our nephews' wedding rehearsal dinner decorations. Shortly after that, I decided to use those cuts for my homemade gifts for my husband's side of the family.
Those cuts ended up being too tiny to do much with, so I had him cut some more that were larger. These may have been a litt too large, but I wasn't going to ask him to do any more. We were leaving for vacation a few hours after I finished them anyway, so it was a chore just getting them done at all!

I painted the cuts with an acrylic chalkboard paint, then used small chalk to decorate and write on them. An eye screw and baker's twine finished out the top. Lastly, I sprayed a fine mist of hairspray to set the chalk. Family members should be able to wipe off my writing and put their own, if desired.

If I had planned this idea originally, little jingle bells tied on top would have been a cute addition. My original idea was a decoupaged chalkboard tag, but it wouldn't have looked good. In my head, it did! :) Too bad my chalkboard writing skills are lacking - especially on small chalkboards.
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Ladies Cookie Exchange 2014

Yesterday I hosted a Ladies' Cookie Exchange.  Every lady that attended brought a few dozen cookies and an empty cookie tin.  Then everyone took their empty container and filled it up with all of the different kinds of cookies.  There were so many different kinds, that it was fun to sample a few as we placed them in the containers.

My daughter had mixed together a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies, only to find that the element was out on the oven!  Her dough is all frozen now - ready to thaw and bake at any time.  I didn't even make any because of the oven situation, but had candy, cheeseball, and other snacks to serve to the guests, so it worked out perfectly fine.

So, here are just a few pictures of the quick get-together to share with you!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Salted Caramel and Chocolate Drizzle

Sorry I haven't posted in a while! I knew this one would take a while to write, and I didn't have the time until today!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Have you ever had the dulce de leche cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory? It's one of my favorites!  This cheesecake isn't quite as good as theirs, but it costs a whole lot less per slice and will satisfy your cheesecake craving, for sure.  I really liked the cheesecake, but would have preferred more caramel topping, so will serve some on the side next time.  And my homemade caramel should have been cooked a little longer.  It's a great recipe that I've shared before and will here again.

1/2 box of chocolate Teddy Grahams (or use 2 cups chocolate graham crackers)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Directions for crust: Prepare the springform pan so that no water leaks into it while cooking. Place a large 18-inch by 18-inch square of aluminum foil on a flat surface. Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the pan. Make sure to do this gently so that you don't create any holes in the foil. If there are any holes, water will get into the pan and ruin the crust. Press the foil around the edges of the pan. Place a second large square of foil underneath the pan, and repeat, gently folding up the sides of the foil around the pan and pressing the foil against the pan. Gently crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the pan. Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in lower third of oven. Crush the cookie crumbs in a food processor or blender until finely ground. In small bowl, mix together cookie crumbs and melted butter. With clean hands, pat into buttered springform pan and up the sides a little. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese (not low or reduced fat), at room temperature
1 and 2/3 cups sugar (can used part brown sugar for a richer taste)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs (if you only have large, just use part of one more egg)
1 can dulce de leche 
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of one 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides. Place one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy for several minues, scraping down the bowl a couple of times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each. Beat in the cream just until blended. Blend in can of dulce de leche. Be careful not to overmix. Spread the cheesecake batter on top of the cookie crust.  Place the pan in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan. (I recommend using an old or disposable pan because the wet aluminum foil will discolor your pan.) Bake the cake at 350 degrees until the edges are light golden brown and the top of the cake is slightly golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours (don't worry if it seems a little too browned. Mine is sometimes and it's still fine.. The top will soften up with the added toppings.) Also, this is a darker cheesecake, so it's harder to tell when it's browned.  

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and cool in the pan for 2 hours. (Just walk away. Don't move it.) Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours. Transfer to freezer for 1 hour.

To remove cheesecake from bottom of spring form pan, set on stove burner and turn it on - just barely enough to melt the butter on the bottom. Use a large flat icing spatula or knife and turn around to loose from bottom. Slide it onto serving platter.

Salted Caramel Topping:
(From Sally's Baking Addition website)

1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt

Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes. Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while whisking. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.

For cheesecake:  Serve on the side or spread topping over cheesecake.  Finish with chocolate drizzle.

Chocolate Drizzle:

1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Place chips and shortening in small bowl. Microwave for 15-30 seconds at a time, depending on your microwave.  Stir, then microwave at 15 second intervals until melted.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate.  Using decorators bag and decorating tip (or just cut a small hole in the bag), pipe chocolate onto cheesecake in desired design.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Layered Pumpkin Dessert

I made this for something, but then ended up serving it at something else. Several people commented on how much they liked it and some wanted the recipe. I couldn't remember exactly what I did to it, but think I have it down now!  It's really only changing up the pudding mixture from the ever-popular Chocolate Pudding Delight (or Quad, or Pudding Cake, or Chocolate Lasagna - whatever YOU call it!)
The crust:  
1 cup crushed pecans
1 cup flour
1 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together and pat into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch dish.  Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until crust is lightly browned.

Cream Cheese filling (I doubled this from the chocolate version)
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups Cool Whip (I like this brand, myself....no the cheaper brands)

Spread filling over cooled crust.

Pumpkin pudding layer:

3 small packages Pumpkin Spice Jello Instant Pudding  
1 can Eagle Brand (sweetened condensed milk)
2 cups milk

In medium bowl, mix well until mixture begins to thicken. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread onto cream cheese layer.

Cool Whip layer:
1 large container Cool Whip
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix ingredients together - using cinnamon according to your taste preferences.  Spread over pudding layer.  Sprinkle with more cinnamon.

Chill for several hours, then serve! Pin It Now!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Marshmallow Candy Pops

I've done marshmallow pops with chocolate many times before, but never with candy.  A friend was planning to use the pink Candy Melts for something else, but was busy decorating for the baby shower and didn't have the time to make what she planned. I had bought a LOT of big marshmallows for another event and had enough to use for this quick little treat for the baby shower.  I had never actually used the candy melts, so it was fun trying something new!

Melt the candy as directed on the package.  Insert a lollipop stick into a marshmallow, then dip the marshmallow into the melted candy.  Dip into sprinkles, if desired, and allow to harden on waxed or parchment paper.  I used clear crystal sugar sprinkles.  They turned out so cute!  Of course, that pink color may very well be my favorite color, so that helped :).  Baby girl pink is so sweet!  

And, by the way....I have a new great niece, so I got to see baby girl pink just a few days ago!  
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Homemade Hot Chocolate

The oldest boy made homemade hot chocolate today and all of us thought it tasted like Starbucks! I actually thought it was a little better!  He's racking up quite a few recipes now. He's even got himself a notebook keeping them all for the future.  So neat!  I'm glad he likes to cook and try new things. And we're all glad he likes to share them with us!


1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup boiling water
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half-and-half OR evaporated milk (He used evaporated milk.)

Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring continually.  Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes.  Be careful not to scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and half-and-half and condensed milk.  Pour into mugs and serve! 
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Texas French Toast Bake

My son, Zachary, subscribed to an online cookbook that's filled with breakfast recipes. He made this Texas French Toast Bake. He made it for the Science Fair at school today and those that ate it said it was delicious! It sure smelled good this morning as it baked! I look forward to having him make it - or me making it - for our family!

Instead of serving the syrup on the side, Zachary poured it on top while it was hot - and he just used Log Cabin brand, not pure maple.


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Breakfast Quesadillas

You can make almost anything into a quesadilla, I suppose!  Yesterday I made my 16-year-old a "Breakfast Skillet" (posted recently) with eggs, real bacon bits, and cheese. I made it with four eggs, knowing he'd only eat two, so I could use the left-overs in a burrito. Instead, I turned it into a breakfast quesadilla! 
In a small skillet over medium heat, melt a pat of butter.  
Put down one medium sized flour tortilla, shredded cheddar cheese....
add the leftover mixture...
...add a little more cheese to "glue" the tortillas in place....
....then top with another flour tortilla.
Turn when browned and brown on the other side. Cute into four or more pieces.  Eat and enjoy! Pin It Now!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Using Media for Good

I thought I would share this with all of you. Hope you enjoy!

Our daughter came to Tipton Children's Home for a "Using Media for Good" project for her broadcasting class. She, along with two classmates, Kate and Mindy, brought towels, washcloths, and candy for the children of TCH.  Here is their video presentation about their project.
Thanks for your project to help TCH, girls! We appreciate it!

To learn more about TCH, visit tiptonchildrenshome.com.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mexican Trash

This recipe is a definite keeper for our family.  I saw it come across Facebook from Pinterest. I'm not sure who originally posted it, but we're thankful she did.  I was proud of myself for actually paying attention to the direction and really "following" a recipe! That doesn't happen often. I dump everything together and read later that I wasn't supposed to!  Of course, with this one, it would have been okay, anyway.  

Mexican Trash

1 large bag Nacho Doritos, crushed
4 cups shredded chicken (I bake chicken tenderloins in the oven for about an hour, covered. Allow to cool for 15 minutes or so, then they easily fall apart.)
6 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 can Rotel tomatoes (diced tomatoes and green chilies)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 package taco seasoning (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with nonstick spray. 
In large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients EXCEPT Doritos. Layer half of the Doritos on the bottom of the casserole dish.  
Spread half the chicken mixture, rest of the Doritos, and the rest of the chicken mixture. Add more cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Recipe may be halved and put into 2 quart baking dish and baked for 35 minutes.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Parfaits

If you ever want to try out a new recipe, try it out on the HS football team!  They'll be quick to let you know what they like, and these little parfaits were a hit.  Parfaits are easy, but they look fancy.  They are a simple way to use up cookies, brownies, cake, candies....just lots of things.  

My son had made the chocolate chip cookies I had posted a week or so ago and we had some left. I chopped them up and made a creamy filling to be one of the layers.  Added some Cool Whip, and the parfaits were done in a snap!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Parfaits

Crumbled chocolate chip cookies
Cool Whip

Creamy filling:
2 cans condensed milk
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 - 8 oz packages cream cheese
1 small box vanilla pudding

In medium bowl, with electric mixer, combine condensed milk and brown sugar until sugar dissolves.  Add cream cheese and small box of vanilla pudding.

In small clear punch cups, put a layer crumbled cookies, then the cream filling, then Cool Whip. Repeat layers.  Top with a larger piece of cookie.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Taco Salad in a Bag

Saturday my daughter and a few friends were coming to town to do a service project for the children's home here. They were going to be here for lunch, and because I was gone to a wedding shower all morning and because my daughter had said she was hungry from taco salad a few weeks before, I decided to make taco salad.
On the way home from the store, I had a thought: Taco Salad in a bag where everyone did their own! It worked out perfectly and the girls thought it was fun!
Just put into various bowls:  hot ground beef, heated Ranch Style beans (undrained), chopped lettuce, cherry tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips.  I had two choices for dressings: Classic Catalina (Kraft) and homemade garlic ranch.  I also put out Picante Sauce.  You could add onions as an ingredient and serve guacamole and/or sour cream on the side as a topper.  Put all ingredients into a Ziploc bag, seal, and shake! Dump your salad into a bowl...your OWN bowl.  Such fun!  So good!
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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies by Zachary

My "chef" son, Zachary made these great chocolate chip cookies last week!  I'm thankful he likes to cook.  We're sure going to miss him around here next year when he goes to college!  He's always willing to help out or just cook for fun.  His wife will like that, too! 

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (he used milk chocolate and we will cut the amount some next time because we don't care for this many)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, white sugar, brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, the stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges are nicely browned.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pumpkin Dump Cake

(Photo from savingcommoncents.com)
A friend made this dessert for their Sunday after-worship lunch.  They all liked it!  Some liked it cold served with whipped cream. Some liked it hot served with ice cream.  It's a pumpkin pie type of dessert, but perfect for fall.

The dessert came from Jessica Harlow of savingcommoncents.com.


(1) 15oz can Pumpkin
(1) 10oz can Evaporated Milk
(1) cup light brown sugar
(3) eggs (slightly beaten)
(3) tsp pumpkin pie spice
(1) box yellow cake mix
(1) cup butter, melted (2 sticks)
(1) cup crushed graham crackers or pecans (your preference)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking pan. In a large bowl combine;
pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir and pour into prepared baking pan.

Sprinkle entire box of cake mix on top, followed by crumbled graham crackers or pecans. Pour melted butter evenly on top.Bake for 45-50 minutes, until center is set.
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fun Pancakes for Kids

There's nothing more fun for kids than eating fun food!  This Mr. Potato Head pancake looks extra-fun to eat!  
This owl pancake is cute! Kiwis and strawberries trim out the face, feathers, and feet.
I made these puppy dog pancakes several years ago. They were so much fun to make, but our kids thought they were even more fun to eat!  Find the recipe HERE.

When food looks fun, children especially enjoy eating!  It doesn't have to be fancy, but  just take a little more time in preparing or presenting. That makes all the difference!

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