Monday, December 31, 2007

Does it get any better than this?

This is my new spice rack and vinegar/oil holders next to 2 loaves of freshly baked bread. Does it get any better than this? You can only see one tier of the spice rack in this picture but behind it is 2 more. Not bad.

I had to take the rental van back the day after christmas. I still haven't blogged about x~mas but it is mainly cause I can't find my digi cam and that is what I took all those pics on. Grrrr....

Anyhow the day after, Joey went to work and I took the van back. I was sad to see it go. It was a lot of fun to drive and having a vehicle big enough to toss everyone in and just go somewhere is a good thing. Hopefully one more month plus a few days give or take and we will have our own.

I felt kind of bad a few months ago when we rented a van for a few days for a trip and my 3 y/o, almost 4 was sitting in her car seat in the middle and was clearly enjoying the ride and she was like, "Is this our van mommy?"

Uggghhhhhhhhhhhh. :( No sweety it isn't. Daddy is going to buy us a MUCH better van soon! lol

SO I stopped at Target and of course they were having their 1/2 off sale on all things Christmas. I told myself just a few things.

I wound up with 2 Christmas cookie plates. One is a snowman, one is a penguin, $2.00 each. I got a penguin that is a cookie jar and matches the plate, I think it was $7.50. I bought a much needed spice rack. Joey and I have been looking for one for a while. I seen one at Costco for $25.00, good price but it seemed flimsy. I just can't seem to find the right combo of good price/good quality. Not really having much room left on my counters either.

I found a small one and I think that will be a perfect starter one. It was $10.00. I found a spiced vinegar/balsamic vinegar/olive oil set as well, $5.00. I also found a panini press, $8.25. I think that was it. I seen a box of gingerbread mix/cookie cutter on sale for 1/2 of what I bought one for weeks ago. I haven't even used the one in my kitchen yet! I was kind of tempted to buy one and bring the other one back. hahahahaha But I was like is getting $1.75 back worth the hassle and time and the line and ......

I will post more pics later of the other stuff. Did you catch any after x~mas specials?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The best cupcakes ever!

This is not my picture. Aren't they cute though?
These cupcakes are the best! Yeah I know, that is what every one says, but seriously, these are wonderful! I have tried many cake mixes(store mixes)in my day and most the time was not impressed. I think the only time I was impressed was the year my aunt made lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I believe the mix was Pilsbury. Even though these mixes have gone on sale for .50 cents to $1.00 over the holidays I can NOT bring myself to buy something, no matter how cheap, laden with trans fat!

SO this means I need to find delicious recipes for mixes on my own. As I posted earlier in my Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes blog, I was inspired by Chocolatechic's and Zsuzsanna's cupcake stands. They were so cute I had to get my own! Then I went in search of the perfect recipe to go along with them. I found it while searching for cookie recipes.

Like I said before they are tender, light, fluffy, moist, everything you would want in a cupcake. I do recommend using real butter though. I used real vanilla extract as well but I am sure artificial vanilla would be fine. I even calculated last nite how much it cost me to make these.

Now here is a small adjustment, they say 6-8 cups of sugar for the frosting of 2 dozen cupcakes. But I have found when smearing the frosting on top that is double what I need. Now maybe when I get into fancy swirls and what not, maybe I will need that much frosting? *Shrugs*. The only thing I did not add up was the vanilla, but if you are using artificial it would add what a penny or so? lol

I buy real butter at Smart N Final, it is $5.65 for 3 lbs. I buy confectioners sugar there to and that is $2.55 for 4 lbs, eggs at Lonq's are always $1.20, sugar I catch sales sometimes but more often than not it is $2.99, the self rising flour was 1.69 for 5 lbs, the all-purpose flour was $1.50, milk is $6.59 for 2 gallons.

Anyhow, when I added this up it was $4.78 for 2 dozen cupcakes the way the recipe is written(with all the frosting). That is less than .20 cents a cupcake. If you are making this recipe for the first time I would follow it closely and use 7-8 cups of sugar. The price for the cupcakes with halfing the frosting recipe is $3.52 or less than .15 cents per cupcake.

So you see you can use expensive ingredients(real butter) and still save money. Mixes in the store are generally $2.00 and frosting is like $2.50! I don't know if that makes 1 or 2 dozen cause I haven't used a store mix in ages. And then they still want you to add stuff like eggs, milk, oil, etc. I will have to price those out later. Anyhow these are very delicious and were a big hit over the holidays here.

This is definately going to be one of my main recipes for cupcakes. I did not use any whole wheat what so ever. It would probably ruin them. hahahahahah

In my last blog I realized I forgot to post the recipe and I kind of felt bad when Zsuzsanna stopped by that blog and said she needed to make cupcakes every day to get good use of it! Those children need cupcakes and Zsuzsanna needs more recipes. How can I disappoint that wonderful family? I can't, so here you go. lol Don't forget, you can also put blueberry muffins and brownies on the stand. :)
CLick link for the recipe for Magnolia's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes

Everyone is always asking us which is the most popular cupcake at the bakery. Most people are surprised that it is what we call the vanilla vanilla - the vanilla cupcake with the vanilla icing (and the most popular color for the icing is pink).

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins)



1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Vanilla Buttercream (recipe follows) or Chocolate Buttercream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. At the bakery we ice the cupcakes with either Vanilla Buttercream or Chocolate Buttercream.

Note: If you would like to make a layer cake instead of cupcakes, divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans and bake the layers for 30-40 minutes.

What is your favorite cupcake recipe?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Chasing the Sun

That is what Joey calls it. The sun seemed as if it had been setting forever as we drove closer and closer to the coast. Remember in my last post how I said I couldn't wait to go back to Laguna Beach? Well I didn't have to wait long. haha
Don't pay any attention to the dates on the photos. These are from my digi cam and Joey needs to change something. I don't want to post anyone elses photos without permission so I will just stick to Joe and I and our kids. This is eldest ds#1.

This is a picture of Joey and I and dd#3. There were 17 family members at the party total. The night after the wedding of our friends my cousin was hosting a big family party at her house in Laguna Beach. I remember when I was a child we used to have 40-50 people at these gatherings. 4th cousins and your mom's dad's 3 nieces who were all a good 20 years older than my mom who would of been in her mid 50's now, and all their kids, etc. It was really neat. We always met on Thanksgiving and always a few days before Christmas. But over the years a few people have died off, and lots more have moved out of state. That is a picture of ds#2 opening a gift.

Now we are down to mainly my immediate family(my two aunts and grandma, plus one of my aunts is married and has 2 kids, my lil family of 7 over here.)

That is a picture of dd#2 with window paints. There are 2 nieces of my grandpas(who passed on in 96 at 84) still out here and their husbands. One of their sons is still out here with his wife and 2 kids but I guess they are mad at each other. :( The other son lives in Las Vegas and did come out for the holiday with his mom and dad and is moving back next year.

The other niece and dh went out of state for the holiday. They have 3 grown children and all are married and 7 ot 8 grandkids and one great grand kid now. The other niece and her dh and her 2 kids and their kids moved out of state years ago. I think there is 15 all together. I could go on, but you get the point. There is alot of family but they are all gone.

My immediate family trys to keep it together and my one aunt hosted turkey day at her house and invited everyone but the 18 or so still living in Ca, besides us and the immediate family, only 2 showed. The one niece and her dh who are now visiting out of state. This is a picture of our eldest dd.

My aunts daughter hosted the x~mas party at her house this year and the other niece and her dh and son came. Of course we came and her mom and dad and my other aunt and my grandma. but besides the immediate family, only 3. It was still a very nice time. I got to wow everyone with my awesome vanilla cupcakes. I also realized my cousin can make some awesome appetizers. There was way too much food and we all ate way too much of it.

We did a gift exchange and the kids had a present to open.
As you can see youngest dd is really enjoying her new sleeping bag! Do you get together with distant relatives or is every one too spread out?

Laguna Beach

is about 100 miles from here, one way and is breathtakingly beautiful. This was the second time we had been out that way. The first time was a few days before our wedding. Friends of ours live out there and recently got married on the sand at sunset. It was a small gathering and afterward we all walked over to the Hotel Laguna for the reception.
Well I walked, Joey drove the car over from the metered parking to the valet parking. That was the only parking they had. By the way, when we got home that evening a few items were missing from his back pack.

A few packs of cigarettes. Yes he still smokes, yes I pray he will quit some day. We are fortunate that was all that was missing. My purse was under the seat in the middle row of the rental van with his jacket over it.

Here is a picture of my sweetie Joe, sitting on the rocks. He took a few of me too but I really didn't like how they turned out. Maybe next time we will get some better ones.

The tables were decorated very nicely There was salad, fruit, pasta salad, a variety of cheeses, some shaped like french fries, sour dough bread, white and wheat breads, and 3 different kinds of dessert. One was carrot cake, a chocolate cake and a fudge brownie.

The Brides father even picked out a cake topper for the chocolate cake with the bride dragging the groom on the train of her dress. haha

It was a lovely evening. Gifts were toasty by the fire and the room it was hosted in had a lovely view overlooking the ocean. Well there was a patio below it too. Here is a picture of us on the patio. We are right next to the umbrella.

I wish we had the time to get out there earlier in the day and have time to walk on the beach. Or go poke around in some of the shops.
Laguna Beach at sunset. Truly amazing. It is so beautiful there. I can't wait to go back. What are your favorite beaches?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes

Well I made the vanilla cupcakes twice now. If you are interested in the story behind these cupcakes, read my Peanut Butter Cookie's thread. WOW! They are tender, light, fluffy, moist. They are perfect! The second time I even got the frosting right. They are awesome. Last time we added 6 cups of powdered sugar, too runny. It says between 6-8. This time I was on the phone and lost track of how many cups I put in. So I am not sure if I used 7 or 8 but the frosting looked great and this time I could tell it was done! Hooray! I made violet and green cupcakes with sprinkles.

My two aunts tried them and my cousin and they all said they were really good. My one aunt thought they were REALLY good and said she was going to bring two for the next day and some for grandma. We are also seeing them again on Tuesday and she said I needed to make more for that party! She wanted the recipe and took some extras home for her son and dh.

MMMMMMMMM.....Yummy!! You have got to try these!

The picture is from my cousins house of the cupcakes. After seeing pictures of Chocolatechic's and Zsuzsanna's cupcake stands, I just had to get one too! I seen one online at Bed Bath and Beyond for $20.00, used my 15% off coupon and got it for $17.00 with the birthday $20.00 my Grandma sent me. Next on the agenda will be perfecting decorating them.

I stopped at Michael's and got a 12 pack of icing colors. We have a cake decorating kit but I am not too handy with it. Don't forget to use real grade aa butter, I am sure that makes a difference. What kind of cup cakes do you like to make?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jessica’s Spectacular Fudge

Jessica’s Spectacular Fudge

3 (4 1/2 oz.) Hershey bars
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1 jar marshmallow cream (7 oz.)
1 tbsp. butter
12 oz. chopped pecans
1 tbsp. vanilla
4 1/2 c. sugar
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

Mix sugar and milk in heavy, 6 to 8 quart pan. Cook until it comes to a rolling boil (stir often to prevent burning). In the meantime put rest of ingredients, except pecans, in large 6 quart bowl. Break Hershey bars into pieces. When sugar and milk mixture is ready, pour it over the other ingredients and blend until creamy and smooth. Add pecans and pour into greased 8 x 12 x 2 inch pan. Let stand until firm, about 4 to 6 hours. Makes 6 pounds delicious fudge

I have never made fudge before. Neither has Joey. But this is one of the recipes we made together yesterday. He doesn't mind baking with me on occasion. I has seen a recipe online for fudge and noticed it called for marshmallow creme. So I picked up some. Then when I went to make some I found a recipe that wanted marshmallows. I had those too but the kids can have that with their hot chocolate. What am I going to do with the creme? lol

One of my online friends, Jesticalynn, posted a recipe for me for her fudge so I decided to give that a try. Thanks Jesticalynn! It makes 6 lbs!!! It was easy to make. Especially since Joey did most of the work on that one. ;) It said break up Hershey's chocolate. Wouldn't you know he took the hershey's out to the garage, in a ziploc baggie and took a sledge hammer to it to break it up? hahahahah I kid you not! That's a man for ya. ;)

We put ours in a 16 x12 x 1 pan. We also didn't use pecans. I took half the pan and sprinkled crushed walnuts on top. It turned out really good. I have been having so many other treats this holiday season I only sampled a small taste. It was good though. My dh tried it and said it was really good and loved the consistency of it. Do you like to make fudge?

Magnolia Bakery Blueberry Muffins

Well I found online about 7 of the Magnolia Bakery recipes. That is the bakery in New York City where people line up down the block for an hour or longer sometimes just to buy a cupcake. lol Joe was baking with me yesterday and we also tried the vanilla, vanilla cupcakes. I will review those later. These muffins are very good. I used half whole wheat/half all purpose flour. Usually any muffins I do, if I do all whole wheat they come out pretty wheaty tasting.

I am trying to get some baking done now and out of the way for two Christmas parties we have coming up. Blueberry muffins freeze well so that is where they are. I doubled this recipe and already baked 24 and I still have batter left over that I froze. If you like blueberry muffins these are very yummy. Nice and tender too. I will be doing this recipe again.


Source: The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Recipes From New York's Sweetest Bakery by Jennifer Appel, Allysa Torey

3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries, lightly coated with flour
1 tablespoon sugar (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease well a 12 cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, making a well in the center. Stir in the liquid ingredients until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Batter may be lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries into the batter.

Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. Lightly sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 20 - 22 minutes until lightly golden or a cake taster inserted into center of muffin comes out with moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake.

Does your family like blueberry muffins? If not what kind do they like?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Santa eats at In & Out Burger!

So the two younger girls, Joe and I were out getting last minute baking supplies and hitting Target. We stopped for lunch at In & Out Burger and lo and behold Santa Clause was there! He walked over by our table talking to people and he was even nice enough to pose with the girls. I just took one. Thank goodness the photo came out okay. I didn't want to be rude and take more.

Youngest dd says Santa looks cute! :D Have you bumped into Santa out there this season? Have you had your picture taken at the mall or anything?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

White Chocolate, and Macadamia Nut Cookies

You see how thin these are? Okay so yes I am baking alot this month. This is the perfect time to try new recipes. My pants I slipped on this morning are fitting a little tighter but it is cause I washed them in warm with hubby's work clothes last night. You see he had been playing in the mud all day. Digging a trench, fixing a broken water main or something at work.

REALLY!! I am not gaining or anything. Really I am not. Oh you don't believe me? Hmmmppphhh. Well let us get to the cookies then. :)

Okay so making these the night after making those awesome peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, was well, disappointing. They were okay. I think they came out a bit too crispy or something. Most of my cookies seem to do that. No matter what recipe I use, no matter what butter or flour I use. They always seem to come out thin and crispy. I am talking in all my years of baking cookies. It is only recently I started using whole wheat and only real butter. I used half all purpose/half ww flour wise with these.

Most the times in the past when I make the kids choc. chip cookies I eat some of the cookie dough and have maybe one cookie. Yeah I know raw eggs and all that. But what about eggnog? Isn't that raw eggs? Or do they pasteurize the snot out of that too? haha

You know what I want? A Nice chocolate chip cookie that looks thick. That doesn't taste crispy. I didn't even take a picture of them in the pan, I was too embarrassed. So I am by no means a cookie expert. This is why I was soooo happy with the peanut butter cookies. Finally a cookie I could make correctly that were truly awesome. They were nice and thick. They were chunky. A little crispy but when they are thick like that who cares? lol

Oh by the way dh called me at break time yesterday and everyone LOVED these cookies! They kept coming back for more.peanut butter chocolate chip cookies His boss even stopped by and had one and asked for the recipe so his wife could make them. Who knows? Maybe he will get a promotion! They are THAT good!! Absolutely excellent cookies folks. You MUST try them!

Okay so I got the Macadamia recipe from Epicurious. Do you like macadamian nut cookies? I skipped on the cranberry's. I think it needed some chocolate and to be thicker.

I went back and re read about the peanut butter cookies, even though this is an awesome recipe and those cookies were excellent I am just going over what could be wrong with my other cookies. I noticed something she mentioned was to not overbake. 10-12 minutes and that is it. I do know that is something I have been guilty of in the past is thinking the cookies don't "look done" and waiting. I think that is a problem. Another thing I noticed is she said un greased baking pan. I greased it anyways. lol I wonder if that is why my cookies are too crispy?

Any suggestions or hints let me know.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips Cookies

Who ever heard of peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips and peanut butter chips in them? Not me. Not until I found a new blog yesterday. I just love finding new blogs full of yummy recipes.

Smitten Kitchen

She got this recipe from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Recipes From New York's Sweetest Bakery

Now if that wasn't interesting enough, the New York Times has even written an article about this bakery and several other offshoots and I guess they are all battling it out in court. It was a pretty interesting read if you have the time.

An excerpt from Adam Sternbergh at New York Magazine:

Together, [Jennifer] Appel and a high-school friend, Allysa Torey, begat Magnolia Bakery in 1996. When their partnership, and friendship, dissolved in 1999, Magnolia begat Buttercup. In 2003, Magnolia begat Billy’s, a bakery in Chelsea, opened by a former Magnolia manager, and Buttercup begat Sugar Sweet Sunshine, started by two former Buttercup employees. Now there are at least a half-dozen similar bakeries throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, with such jolly names as Baked, Happy Happy Happy, Polka Dot Cake Studio, and Cupcake Caboose (an all-cupcake catering company), each serving up cupcakes topped with dollops of sugary frosting swirled artfully like beehive hairdos.

So much fuss over cupcakes and cookies. Bake these and taste for yourself what all the fuss is about. ;)

Anyhow here is the recipe:

Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

The brilliance of these cookies is that they have include two different formats for peanuts–three if you use chunky peanut butter. They’re crisp on the outside, and almost cakey on the inside. Bake a batch and then hide the results in the furthest and most forgettable reaches of your kitchen. You’ll thank me later.

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (smooth is what we used, but I am pretty sure they use chunky at the bakery)
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (for sprinkling) sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup peanut butter chips
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Place sprinkling sugar on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crissscross pattern (I used the back of a palette knife to keep it smooth on top), but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely

Now I am normally not a peanut butter cookie lover. But WOW! I fell head over heels for these! I seen the recipe, we have plenty of peanut butter, so I just had to try it. Joey loved them too and he is normally not big on peanut butter cookies either but he said he HAS to have these cookies now. haha They are THAT good. Of course the kids loved them and Chris pitched a fit when he seen Joe take a bowl of them to work to share with co workers. lol

Here is the link to Smitten Kitchen, the blog I got it from. I am definately going to have to go over there more often. I did use half whole wheat and half all purpose flour in this recipe. Do you like peanut butter cookies?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chocolate Nut Bread

My buddy Sonshine shared one of her favorite Christmas recipes with me, Chocolate Nut Bread Thank you Sonshine! Oh and that is NOT my picture.

Chocolate Nut Bread

* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 tablespoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 1 3/4 cups milk
* 2/3 cup vegetable oil
* 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, divided
* 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

COMBINE flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.

COMBINE eggs, milk and vegetable oil in medium bowl. Add to flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Stir in 1 1/2 cups morsels and nuts. Spoon into prepared loaf pans.

BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool on wire racks.

MICROWAVE remaining morsels in heavy-duty plastic bag on HIGH (100%) power for 45 seconds; knead bag to mix. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, kneading until smooth. Cut a small hole in corner of bag; squeeze to drizzle over bread. Sprinkle with additional nuts.

I was going to make this but decided I needed something more chocolatey and with more spices. So I decided to merge two recipes and throw in some extra stuff. Isn't that how most recipes are made? lol To see or make what I came up with click this link: Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolaty Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Muffins

Okay so I merged two recipes to get a new one. I have a recipe I normally use from my make a mix master mix recipe book that is pretty good but with all whole wheat it comes out pretty wheaty tasting.(To see these pictures better, click on them. The x~mas background is interfering.) Not exactly a bad thing but I kind of want to WOW family and friends around the holidays, not turn them off to whole wheat breads. So I figured I could do half and half. I really wanted a chocolate looking muffin though, not just chocolate chips tossed in. I did go to Walmart and buy two Texas Size muffin pans. I wanted some mini loaf pans as well but did not see any. I should of picked up some mini cupcake pans while I was there so people can sample more goodies. I just may still do that.

The first thing I did was double the Chocolate Nut Bread recipe. The next thing I did was compare it to my other recipe. I noticed the other recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar, this new one only 2. I had to remind myself that the new recipe is actually supposed to be a chocolate bread, not a cupcake. I also love the idea of using less sugar. So I decided to make 4 test batches.

Like I said I changed the recipe up a bit:

Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Muffins

* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 4 cups whole wheat flour
* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 2 teaspoon baking powder
* 2 tablespoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoon salt
* 8 tablespoon Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder
* 4 large eggs
* 3 1/2 cups milk
* 1 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 3 cups (12-oz. pkg.)Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
* 2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 2 tsp ground nutmeg
* a splash of vanilla

Turn the oven on to 350° F. Spray cooking spray on four 12 cup muffin pans

combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.

combine the milk, eggs and vegetable oil in a medium mixing bowl. Add this to the flour mixture; mix it until it is moist. Stir in 3 cups chocolate morsels and any nuts. Pour into waiting cupcake pans.

Bake these at 350 for 18-20 minutes Let cool, remove. Let cool on wire racks if desired.

Okay so I used two 12 cup pans and two 6 cup pans. It wasn't very sweet but I was expecting that. But once you bite into one of the chocolate chips it is perfect. I really like using less sugar. Maybe next time I will drizzle some melted chocolate chips on top like the other recipe suggest. My dh thought they were great, not too sweet. I told him to take a holiday bowl full of them to share at work and get some feedback. When he called me at work he was eating ALL of them. He said he wouldn't share and that he only brought 3. Not enough to share with anybody! Can you believe him? lol

Out back last nite he was talking to the neighbor and I offered him a muffin and he said he didn't want anything to sweet. I told him these weren't too sweet. When I got back from my walk this a.m. I seen him out there and he said they were perfect, not too sweet, just enough. He said it was moist and he had given his son the other one and he it was good. Hooray. These are really good. The half and half was perfect. If you try these and you like them, or even if you don't like them, let me know.

What kind of muffins does your family like?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Super Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

Okay so I always like to make a huge pot of sauce. I grab one of those huge 6 lb 6 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes from Smart N Final. Take the juice it comes in and put that in the pot. I take the tomatoes and cut them up. First in half, then I cut about 3-4 more times. You can dice them finer if you like. I take 2 green bell peppers and chop them up. I take about 6 cloves of garlic and 2 onions and peel and chop that real fine.

I shake a good helping of basil, oregano and parsley in to the pot. I added 7 6 oz cans of tomato paste. I added a spoonful or so of olive oil. I also added some water.

Simmer on low for 45 minutes stirring every once in a while. It is very good! last time I also chopped up some celery too. Maybe next time I will add some carrots. DO you make your own sauce or just grab Ragu?

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

So I had some buttermilk left after I did the chocolate cake the other day. I decided to whip up a batch of buttermilk biscuits. Now I for one am not too fond of biscuits but my dh is. These are actually pretty good. I should of stuck them in a muffin pan though. For the page I got the recipe from just click the link. One batch makes 16 HUGE biscuits. Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

Do you ever make biscuits?

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

4 c. whole wheat flour
8 tbsp. of softened butter (½ c.)
2 c. buttermilk w/ live and active cultures
2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Work the softened butter into the flour till the mixture is crumbly, a fork works best for this. Add the buttermilk to the flour and set in a warm place (75-80 degrees) for at least 8 hours or overnight. If you want biscuits for dinner, it’s best to start them right after breakfast. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Then, add the rest of the ingredients, mix well. Butter a 9x13 pan. Grasp a small handful of dough, form it into a biscuit shape and line them up in the pan, sides touching. All the dough should fit. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until slightly brown on top. Keep an eye on them, they brown quick! Eat with butter and raw honey :-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

California Round Cake

Okay so I finally got around to making "The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever I used restraint. I waited for a birthday! lol I went to bed at 10:00 p.m. on 12-7-07 and I woke up at 2:00 a.m. having a nitemare. I laid there but couldn't fall back asleep. So at 3:00 a.m. I got up, had a cup of coffee, and started making cake! If you want the recipe and step by step pictures, just click that link. It was fun and easy to make. I have a huge cookie sheet that is only 1 inch off of hers but I decided I wanted to make 2 round pans instead so I could put it on my cake stand. Next time I will probably do the cookie sheet. I chopped walnuts, but didn't use them cause I was thinking they weren't ground up fine enough and didn't want dh to complain.

Now remember, I use all whole wheat. It was fun and very easy to make. The only problem was she recommends icing the cake when it is warm. Now that is probably a good idea if you are using a cookie sheet and leaving the cake in the pan. But I needed the two cake pans empty and the cake on a cake stand. Joey woke up, by then was it 5:00? I can't remember. So he took the cakes out but one broke a little bit. Grrrrrr......It was very soft. So yes the 3rd picture looks terrible! But trust me the cake is excellent. He iced it and there was plenty left over and I put it in the fridge hoping it would firm up. It did.

It really did. It was the best chocolate whole wheat cake ever. Not wheaty tasting at all. I also added some cinnamon to it. We ate it later that nite straight from the fridge. I really did like this recipe and will use it again and again. All the kids loved it and Joey said it tasted like a chocolate fudge brownie. On her website in the comments section lots of people were saying that this cake is Texas Sheet Cake. I believe it. In my make a mix cookbook where it tells how to make a huge brownie mix up and all the recipes you can use from that base mix, texas sheet cake is listed. The recipe is different though.

So my point is if you are looking for an awesome chocolate cake that some people think taste like a brownie, that you can also use all whole wheat with, this may be the recipe for you. :) Enjoy!

See the 4th picture? It doesn't look so bad there once it was cut and it firmed up a bit. :)

What kind of cake do you make for birthdays?

The Birthday Girl

So our youngest dd is 4 this month! Normally in the past we tried to keep birthday and x~mas presents at $50.00 each. This year money has opened up a bit more so I told the kids $100.00 each and that is it! That adds up quickly when you have 5 kids. Well her birthday falls in December so basically $200.00

Well back in late October or so Joey seen a Barbie Big Wheels car for her at Costco, $189.99. I checked the other stores and seen them for like $235.00-$250.00! I told him to get it as soon as he got off work! Good thing we did. A few days later there were no more and have not been in that store since!

But how to split that up between birthday and Christmas? lol We found a kitchen playset at Walmart for surprisingly only $38.00! We also wanted to get her some stuffed animals. SO we got her a bear rug for $15.00 and a pack of 7 bears for like $10.00 from Costco.

Well we celebrated last Saturday. Home made cake, 2 different kinds of ice cream, hot dogs, nachos and lots of nachos with nacho cheese sauce! Yeah I am glad all the food is gone. lol Here are some pics of her in her new ride. Oh and yes those are garage couches.

Yeah I know, now we are spending like $255.00! She wants a baby doll too. *sigh* Maybe she needs to write a letter to Santa cause I don't want to go broke! lol What are you getting your kids for christmas?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Holidays

Well we are renting a van for 4 days from the 22nd til the 26th. That Saturday my friend is getting married down by the beach! I am so excited. Joe actually has to work Sunday-Thursday! Sunday the family is having a get together for all the 3rd and 4th cousins etc. So right after he gets off work at 3:00 we have to rush over there down to the beach. How long will that take? 2 hours? 3 hours? I have no clue. Tuesday he has to work for like 20 minutes, believe it or not. He HAS too! Then we have to be at my Aunt's by 10:00 a.m. That should take about 90 minutes.

We are having our traditional German potato pancakes for breakfast. Normally we have ham and/or turkey for dinner but this year my Aunt said they are making rice and curry for dinner, with some orange chicken thrown in for good measure. Is Mc Donald's going to be open? lol I can't stand curry!

Do any of you have a traditional holiday meal that you do? What are your plans for christmas?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chocolate Brownies

One sentence is all it takes.
"Mom, can I have money for the snack bar at school?"

NO!!! Do you know how much garbage is in those snacks at school? A lot more than what I would put in a snack. So I went looking for the already prepped muffin mix in the deep freezer. I can usually abstain from eating those. Gone. But there was a huge container of brownie mix! Thank goodness we only had 3 eggs left so I could only make a batch and a half. It was delicious!

Do you let the kids buy junk food at school? Or do you just make them junk food at home?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Home made Creamy Chocolate Pudding

Make your own pudding packets for only .45 cents. Aren't they like $1.50 in the stores most of the time? I think once in a while I see it on "sale" for $1.00.

1 1/2 cups plus 2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

Basically add all the ingredients together and stir with a wire whisk. This makes enough for 6 cups of dry mix. Which is enough for 6 packets of chocolate pudding mix.

1 cup of mix
2 3/4 cups milk
2 TBS butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

In a sauce pan add the mix and the milk. Cook and stir until it thickens. Remove from heat and add in butter and vanilla. Makes 6 servings. Enjoy!

I will have to check the prices again at Smart N Final but from what I remember the cocoa is $5.69 for 16 oz(4 cups), the corn starch is $3.00 for 10 lbs(40 cups) and the sugar is $3.00 for 5 lbs(20 cups), I didn't bother adding the salt.

So $2.13 for cocoa, .49 cents for sugar, .10 cents for corn starch = $2.72 divided by 6 = .45 cents each. :) Oh I forgot to add in the butter but really, how much can it be? lol Not much more. ;)

What do you like to do with chocolate pudding? DO you like to make chocolate pie? Or just as a treat for the family?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

$65.00 Christmas Cookies

Well that IS for 18 of them. But seriously,for $3.61 each they had better have nuggets of gold in them. lol Well now that I am feeling better I can get get back to what I love doing, baking, cooking! I am going to start gathering up a bunch of yummy recipes.

dd # 3's birthday is also coming up on Saturday so I need to do that cake soon too.

This recipe looks really good.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

SO does this one:

Rudolph's Christmas Sugar Cookies

What is your favorite cookie recipe?