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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I received this book one year for a secret Santa gift. I really love it! I recommend it to anyone who likes to bake but doesn't have everything for "made from scratch" goodies. This book has ideas for cookies, brownies, bars, pies, cakes, breads and much more.

The cookies I'll be showing you are a huge hit at my work and with my family. They're also my husband's favorite cookies ever ;)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies


Ingredients:
  • 1 box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter*
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 cup candy-coated peanut butter pieces** (I use reeses candies, you can also use peanut butter chips)

*When I make them, I use creamy peanut butter
** 1 cup candies seems to be too much candies and not enough dough. I would use a little less.

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease baking sheets.
  2. Combine cake mix, peanut butter, eggs and milk in large mixing bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer until blended. Stir in peanut butter pieces
  3. Drop dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes* or until lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to cooling racks. Cool completely. Store in airtight container.

*With my oven it took 11 minutes to bake. It's tough to tell they're done when they're brown to begin with. They're going to be pretty squishy because they're made with cake mix.

 
I obviously didn't use Duncan Hines brand cake mix but Betty Crocker works just great :) Though I accidently placed 3 eggs in that picture instead of 2. GO ME :) Ignore that one.
 


Blending this cookie mix is sticky business! Make sure you use a spatula to get all the dough off of your beaters. When adding your candies, I would advise against blending them in with the beaters; it tends to chop them up. Unless you want that, go ahead. Otherwise fold them in by hand with a spatula. If the dough seems too thick and hard to spoon, add a tiny bit more milk and blend. That should help, though the dough should be pretty sticky.

 

 

Spoon your dough onto your greased cookie sheet. I made these cookies a little bigger than I usually do. Typically you can spoon at least a dozen onto one cookie sheet. The bigger the cookie, the longer the bake time so keep an eye on them.

Once you spoon your cookies, put them in the oven and while those are going I prepare my second cookie sheet. If you only have one that's OK. After spooning out my second sheet, I prepare the cooling rack and container I'm going to keep them in. If you don't have a container, use a ziplock bag, or something of the sort :) A good place to get air tight containers is SnapWare. We found a really awesome container at Costco; a 3 layered cake/cupcake/cookie travel case. Pretty handy!
 
 

MMMMMM, cookies are done! Take them out and let them cool on the sheet before you put them on the cooling rack. At this point I put in my second sheet. After cooling, I take my spatula and put them on the cooling rack. Now you can start spooning your 3rd batch of cookies.
 
 
Put them in your container and they're ready to go! Yummy yummy yummy yummy yummy!

 
Hope you find this recipe easy to use and delicious! Email me or comment with any questions, comments or concerns :)

Cloud 9!

I apologize for the long wait between entries; life has been incredibly busy and I'm very forgetful.


This next recipe is called "Cloud 9" and is perfect for the upcoming holidays, spring time pot lucks or family get-togethers. This recipe is one my Mom has made for so many occasions and has passed it down to me. I love making this for the 4th of July or pot lucks. It's always a crowd pleaser!!

What you'll need:
  • 1LG Box Orange Jell-O
  • 2SM Cans Mandarin Oranges
  • 1LG Can Crushed Pineapple
  • 1LG Can Pineapple TidBits
  • 1 Reg size Cool Whip
  • 8oz of orange yogurt

For topping you could use any fresh fruit to decorate; this time I used:
  • 1LG Can Pineapple Slices
  • 1SM Jar of Whole Maraschino Cherries


    

To make this recipe "light" would be pretty easy. You would buy Sugar Free Orange Jell-o, Light Cool Whip and Light Orange yogurt, or even soy yogurt for lactose. Also try to purchase all your canned fruit in either water or Light Syrup.

Right, this recipe you could easily make the day before hand but I like to make it fresh. Get out a medium sized bowl and prepare your Jell-o to the box directions. I would make the jell-o pretty firm so when you're mixing the ingredients together it doesn't break apart.

I usually make the jell-o and drain the fruit the night before and let it firm over night. Be sure you put some saran wrap or lid over the jell-o so a film doesn't produce over the top while over night in the fridge.


Once my jell-o is prepared, I stick it in the fridge and open my cans of fruit to drain. You don't want any liquids in your end product or it'll be gross and runny. You want it to be thick and bouncy :)

Open your Mandarin oranges and pineapple tidbits and place them in a strainer in the sink.


If you have a fine strainer, I would use that for the crushed pineapple.


Crushed pineapple has A LOT of juices so I use a potato masher or even using the bottom of a small cup would work. Just place it in the sink and press down on the pineapple squeezing as much juice out as you can.


I like to save some of the juice from the can to drink later :p Yum!


Once you feel you've squeezed all you can out of your fruit, I place a damp paper towel on top of both strainers and put a small plate under the strainers for any leftover juices that might drip. Place strainers into the fringe for overnight. Again, you can do this all in one day, I just do it the night before so the jell-o can harden completely and the fruit is well drained.


 

The next morning I check on my fruit and jell-o. A little drippage from the fruit but that shows that it's pretty strained; perfect!


Next you get out whatever bowl you want to serve your sweet dish in.


 
I like using my red glass wear because of the bright contrast with the white and orange colors in the Cloud 9.

Dump in all your drained fruit, the whole container of cool whip and yogurt. Since yogurt cups come in 6oz when the recipe calls for 8, I just put in 1 and a half containers of yogurt; you could even put in all of it if you want. I try to keep the consistency even with fruit chunks and creaminess.


Mix well.


Next you dig into your Jell-o. I just cut the jell-o right from in the bowl into cubes. I add the jell-o last so your mixing doesn't chop up your cubes too much.


Mix in your jell-o carefully.


Chunky!! But very messy. That's OK though, you can clean it up easly with a paper towel around the edges.


Delicious!! Now I like to decorate the top pretty for visual effects. You can add blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, cherries... whatever you want! This time I'm using whole rounds of Pineapples and maraschino cherries to make a cute flower design. Use your imagination :) For traveling, use saran wrap or foil.


I hope you all enjoy this delicious cool treat! Any questions or comments, be sure to ask away via email, messenger or comment.

BBQ'd Chicken.

Ahhh one of my favorite things to make; Chicken :) I love chicken. I also love it BBQ'd!

Here I will show you a couple different ways to make delicious and juicy chicken and how to BBQ it properly. If you don't have a BBQ, the method is exactly the same but with your oven on broil.

When I select the chicken I'm going to cook, I usually go with the boneless and skinless breasts. Those have less fat and you don't have the hassle of bones. Though I do love hot wings now and then.

Anyway, the chicken I prepared today is the kind I make most often; Italian. My Dad taught me this recipe (along with several others) and I've modified to my liking. We buy our chicken from Costco and the rest of the ingredients I get from a grocery store.

What you'll need (when cooking for two):
  • 2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • lemon juice
  • Italian marinade dressing (I prefer Bernstein's brand)
  • garlic powder
  • garlic salt
  • basil
  • salt free chicken rub
  • fresh ground pepper
  • olive oil




Since I get my chicken breasts from Costco, they come already frozen so I need to defrost them. There are several different ways to defrost chicken safely; you can take them out ahead of time and place them in a closed container in the fridge, place them in warm water until thawed or in the microwave on low heat for a few seconds at a time. I suggest warm water or the fridge as the microwave could cook it too much and get dry. If you purchased your chicken fresh from the store and thawed, place it in the fridge until you have everything you'll need ready.



Nice defrosted chicken. At this time you can also trim it of its fat (if any) before marinating. Once I have everything set out for use I sprinkle some lemon juice on both sides of the chicken along with fresh ground pepper. The lemon juice helps break down the chicken and makes it very juicy. It also gives it a tasty flavor :)
The Italian marinade I use has a lot of key ingredients that make the marinade so delicious. The top is oil, middle is vinegar and settled at the bottom is a mixture of herbs and garlic. Tasty! The brand Bernstein's is one that my Dad and I have been using since... I can remember. I've tried other brands and nothing compares to this. If this brand is not carried in your store, check out the other kinds; see if any of them have these ingredients in them.

Now if you're looking for a different kind of flavor besides Italian, I have several other favorite marinades I use. You could use Teriyaki, BBQ sauce or just a plane chicken rub would work nicely. Whatever you choose it will be delicious!



               
Here are the two favorite marinades I use besides Italian. The brand Soy Vay has several different flavors but this one in particular is my favorite. It has pineapple flavor along with teriyaki and sesame seeds. The Yoshida's marinade we purchased at Costco. They also make soy sauce but this one is very thick and has a wonderful flavor. When I make both of these types of marinade, I add some fresh ground pepper along with the lemon before marinating.



So after you've applied your lemon and pepper I let it sit for a little while, let the lemon soak in. I also rub it in pretty good, messaging it into the meat. Once you’re done with that I add my garlic salt, garlic powder, basil and chicken rub. Don't add your marinade just yet. I rub this in on both sides pretty good until I'm satisfied. You could even add rosemary to this if you so wish. That goes well with the lemon.



When you add your marinade, be careful not to wash away all that you just put on the chicken. I pour it in till the chicken is half submerged; you don't need too much but enough for the chicken to soak in. Again, massage it in really good and get all the goodies in the nooks and crannies :)



Once you've drenched your chicken in delicious marinade, set it in your fridge to percolate. Make sure you place it on the most bottom shelf of the fridge so any chicken juices don't drip on food you may have open in there. Now that your chicken is soaking, you have some time to prepare anything else you're going to cook with it. With this meal I'm making white rice and steamed broccoli. I also get my timer out, a plate for the chicken and basting materials. I have small glass bowls I use to mix some of the marinade in for the BBQing process.



When BBQing It's good to baste your chicken (or what have you) to keep it moist and not dry out. I use the same mixture I put on the chicken, in the basting bowl.



It's a good idea to have everything ready so the process goes smoothly and there's no frustration. Tongs are used to flip and handle the chicken onto the BBQ and the basting brush is for.... basting.



I use the silicone tipped brush because it cleans well and the 'hair' brushes sometimes lose their 'hairs' onto your food. Not very appetizing. The silicone can withstand high heats and come with a convenient long handle so you don't burn your hand in the basting process (like I always do).

I recommend you leave your chicken marinating for about a half an hour or so just go get it all soaked into the chicken. It gives it good flavor. If you really wanted, you could make your chicken marinade and place your chicken in a large zip lock bag over night, then your chicken would be very delicious :)

After getting my tools ready, I get my rice and broccoli cleaned and ready for steaming.






When I first started cooking, I had a hard time timing when to start the rice or the chicken or what have you so everything was done at the same time and nothing gets cold. For my particular rice maker, it takes about 10 minutes longer than the chicken does when cooking so I know to start that when I get my grill ready. Steaming broccoli doesn't take very long so I get the water ready and boiling so all you have to do is set your broccoli on top the steam when you’re ready.

After your half hour of marinating is done, I get my grill hot and start my rice maker. (By the way I'm using a gas grill). If you don't have a grill and are using your oven, set your oven shelf in the middle and set it to broil, medium heat. When placing your chicken in the oven to broil, I get out a cookie sheet and a small rack for the chicken to sit on so the fat drips down below instead of soaking back into the meat. Also when you’re broiling, keep your oven door open! The cooking time is the same exact as you would BBQing it. So follow these next steps.

 

Set it on high and get it to about 300 degrees. Hopefully your grill has a temperature gage, if not, wait about 5 minutes then turn off your grill. Once your flames are out, I get the olive oil out and an old rag. Rub the olive oil thoroughly on the grills, this prevents your chicken from sticking to the grill in the BBQing process. After you’re all oiled up, turn it back on to medium heat and close the lid. Once your grill is to about 500 degrees, I get my chicken out and ready.




Once you get your chicken on the grill, you can use any leftover marinade in the bowl you had them in since the chicken is still raw. You don't want to use it any time after. Immediately dispose of the old marinade and start your timer for 7 minutes. Keep your grill top closed during this time. While waiting, check on your boiling water and rice. When your timer goes off, it's time to flip your chicken to the other side.



But before you flip, get your little bowl of marinade out and your baster and baste the top real well, getting the sides. You might see fat bubbles, just brush those off. Carefully flip your chicken over, it shouldn't stick from the olive oil you put on the grill before. If it does stick a little, just use your tongs to carefully remove it without breaking the chicken. If you're using BBQ sauce or teriyaki, your chicken might be a little dark and blackened. That's because of the sugars in the marinade that caramelize. If you're using the Italian marinade, beware that the oil in it is very flammable and might create large flames when basting. So watch your fingers!

Set your timer for another 7 minutes and close your grill lid. At this time your broccoli water is probably boiling and is safe to place your broccoli on top to steam. You can check for doneness with a fork. If the fork slides in easily, it's done. It really depends on how you like your veggies steamed; if you like them pretty mushy or crunchy, it's up to you. It's best to keep the heat to a minimum when cooking vegetables to retain as much as the nutrients as possible. The less heat, the better. Boiling and over steaming, you might lose its goodness. I also like to add cheese when it's done. I had never tried that before until I met my husband lol it's very good!



Once your chicken is done, place it on your designated plate and set your timer again but for 5 minutes. Do not cut your chicken yet! If you've followed the cooking directions and depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts, it's most likely done. Leaving your chicken untouched for 5 minutes lets the chicken settle; the inside is still cooking even though it's off the grill. This goes for all BBQ'd meats, if you cut it directly after cooking, all the juices leak out and your meat becomes dry.



After your 5 minutes is up, you're ready to serve! Your rice and broccoli should be finished by now. But whatever you make with your chicken, it goes with a variety of things! You could make it with a salad and slice it on top... pastas of many sorts... or you can even slice it up in a sandwich. That's always very good.


I hope that this recipe is delicious for you and easy to follow! Any questions, comments, concerns... please feel free to comment! I'm always around to help. I also have AIM you can contact me on; all my information is in my LiveJournal info page.



Also if you're wondering what to do with leftovers, here's a good idea. Sometimes the chicken breasts are a little large and I'm unable to eat it all. Also when I make white rice for two, I make two cups and that always gives us a good amount of leftovers for lunch the next day. I cut up my left over chicken into bite sizes; place my rice in a travel container with the cut chicken and some frozen veggies on top :). I always look forward to leftovers for lunch! Mmmm Bento!

Garlic bread!

Ooooh boy! Garlic bread time! I love my garlic bread and so do so many other people whom I've made it for. This recipe is one my Dad taught me and I've done exactly the same ever since. There are many different ways to make garlic bread but this is the most delicious (to me anyway :D ).

Ingredients you'll need:
•    Bread
•    Garlic salt
•    Garlic powder
•    Basil
•    Oregano
•    Parmesan Cheese (grated or shredded)
•    Butter
The choices of bread are so vast, you can basically use whatever kind you want from a fresh homemade French loaf to hot dog buns (yes you can lol). I've used all sorts of different breads. Easy breads you could use are left over hot dog buns you don't have any hot dogs for or a loaf of say white bread from the grocery store. Most grocery stores have a bakery and you'll be able to pick out a great fresh baked bread from there too. Depending on how many people you’re feeding, choose your bread wisely. If you pick a large French loaf from the bakery, that would be a good choice for a large group of people. Sliced, it serves about 22 people one slice each. Though I'm sure people will want more than one piece lol. If you're making for just 2 (as we always do) I've found these nifty "Half Loafs" the bakery makes for sandwiches. Those are usually located by the bagles and whatnots. Those make large slices you could even split into 4 and be plenty for all. Some really fancy bread you could try is the Asiago cheesy bread. MMM! That’s particularly good with regular cheddar cheese shredded on top and broiled. YUM! But whatever you try, be sure it'll feed enough!




I attended a 4th of July "Cowboy Camp" with my husband and a friend of 11 years out to her farm for a potluck and dance party. YEEHAW. So I chose as a side dish; Garlic Bread! I was struck with this brilliant idea driving home from work (the day of the party) and quickly stopped by the store and picked up some fresh baked bread. It's so quick and easy, it's a really nice side dish.



Now that you have your bread picked out, the tools you'll need for this operation is a nice sharp bread knife, a butter knife and hot pads or mitts. Be very careful slicing with that big knife... super sharp and it's easy to slip with this awkward bread. Also while you're preparing your bread, turn your oven on "Broil" and turn it to its hottest setting.







Alright! Now you're bread is successfully sliced in 2. When slicing you'll also want to make sure they're even. You don't want one side thicker than the other, it'll compromise the broiling and burn one and under broil the other. Mmmmm fresh bread! Now it's time to butter! You'll need LOTS of butter. Oh did I tell you this recipe is not fat free :) Indulge!!

You can make it with low fat, salt free butter or margarine. Whatever you choose :)



Thickly buttered! When using the butter, make sure it's really.... really soft. I say that because I thought my butter was soft enough but I ended up making quite a mess trying to melt it. So be sure and take your butter out of the fridge well before needing to spread. If you use hard butter, the bread will clump up and you won't get anywhere, trust me lol. Very messy.

The ingredients you'll be needing are all available at any grocery store. I like to buy my sweet basil and whole oregano from the Mexican food section. They have those small packages of dried herbs and spices for very cheap prices... and very tasty!



Now the herbs from Italy right there (oops I put an extra L in there LOL... yikes) were actually from Italy my grandparents brought back many years ago for my dad. He has a big bag of it and I need to replenish my stash. It has a very exquisite taste, even with the pepper seeds. Kinda spicy if you get some of those but I make sure and add it to all of my Italian meals!

After applying my butter, the next ingredient I add is the garlic salt. Hence the word salt, I would go lightly on it if you're watching your salt intake. It gives it good flavor but if you want more garlic than salt, go ahead and use the garlic powder and minced garlic pieces.



Then sprinkle on your herbs. Your basil should already be crushed into pieces but if you bought whole oregano, you'll need to crush that yourself. I pour some in the palm of my hand and use my fingers to crush... I love the smell of oregano so if it's all over me, I don't mind! Sprinkle lots on your bread. I prefer more oregano to basil, but you put as much as you want.



To top it off, you add your grated parmesan cheese liberally. I've tried shredded parmesan, that's really delicious and ads more crunch to the bread, it also looks pretty fancy! With the Asiago cheese bread you can also add the cheddar cheese to the top. So many options!




Your bread is all prepared! You're oven should be pretty hot so now you'll use your oven mitts to place the bread in your oven. You could use a cookie pan if you're not comfortable placing the bread straight on the oven shelf. Make sure the bread isn't tipped over; one side will get cooked faster than the other. The top slice tends to tip because of its shape, so you can use the other bread to lean it on. Leave your oven door open! You're bread will cook too fast and burn very quickly if it's closed. It's also handy to leave it open if your oven (like mine) doesn't have a window. My light inside usually doesn't work but for today, it's decided to be nice.






NOM!

Keep an eye on your bread at all times. When the edges start to brown, get your oven mitts ready. I usually wait till the top of the bread is pretty browned and the sides are dark. The whole broiling process takes maybe 5 min, tops. Now that it's done, get your oven mitts out again, your bread is pretty hot. Carefully pull out the bread and set it on a cooling rack or just your cutting board will work. This garlic bread is at its most deliciousness when it's fresh out of the oven! YUM!



Nice and browned! Once you're bread is cooled enough to touch, I get my bread knife out again and slice it into long pieces. I try and make them a good size, maybe an inch.. inch and a half or so wide. Since I'm taking this with me to the hoedown, I'm putting the slices on my nice big plate and covering it with foil for the ride.





Now since the foil isn't large enough to cover the whole plate fully, I had to use two pieces together. A nifty way to keep them together is to place the long sides together and kind of fold it over its self. This creates a sort of dome for the plate so the food isn't squished and stays fresh.




Alright! I hope that you enjoy making this delicious side dish and that the directions were easy to follow! Any questions, comments and concerns, please feel free to contact me and I'll be more than happy to help :)

Enjoy!

Stawberry Cupcakes!

On June 9th I had made strawberry cupcakes for my Husband, Dennis. I had never really had strawberry cake before let alone strawberry cupcakes.



I had decided to make cupcakes instead of a full cake because 1.) It's easier to eat and 2.) Easier to carry around if you were to share at work or something.

For our wedding gift we had received an awesome cupcake traveling case which holds up to 2 dozen cupcakes :) Very handy.

These little guys are fun to make around Valentine’s Day because of their pink-colored-ness. You can decorate them with hearts and loves all you want. But you can make them any time really. I've come to enjoy the strawberry flavored cupcakes better than vanilla or chocolate, probably because those are so popular everywhere.

Anyway! Okay so you're looking at the box of cake mix and there are instructions on the back. Heat temp. for the oven... mixing times and ingredients. If you've never really made a cake before... these can kind of be daunting and confusing. So I'm giving you simple guidance and tips for whenever you feel the urge or bake a cake/cupcakes!

At the bottom of the box you see Pan size and even Bundt and cupcake bake times. Depending on your oven, I would watch the cake(s) about 5 min before your time ends. I know my oven bakes a little warmer so I usually take out the cake(s) 5-6 min earlier than the box indicates so it doesn't burn/over cook. Over cooked cupcakes/cake will be dry and crumbly. If they end up that way, you know next time to take them out earlier :) You live and learn for next time!


Alright! So get your blender out and hook all its attachments. You're ready to go. Cakes and cupcakes use blenders to get the clumps of dry ingredients and wet ingredients together quickly and no lumps are left. It also whips it together so it's light and fluffy, which makes the finished cake/cupcakes fluffy too. With making brownies, you're able to mix by hand, being lumpy is OK. So a blender it is. 

One thing to remember when you’re at the store, buying your cake mix. Don't forget your cupcake baking paper cup liners! I always forget to get those and end up having to use my back-up birthday balloon cupcake liners lol. I bought a bunch of white ones just for any time use. These little guys can be found at pretty much any store. If you're looking for a specific color/size any party store has a substantial collection of colors, sizes and even fun plastic holders with feet for the kids.


You might even be able to find a cupcake carrying case at party stores. I've seen them there before. If not they have crafty shaped pans for cakes too if you're making a cake. I love party stores!











Also while you're at the store, don't forget your eggs and oil! I always have a small bottle of vegetable oil hanging around but make sure it's up to date and not old :) Eggs too. If you're unsure of how old your eggs are, test them in a bowl of water. If the float, they're bad. If they sink, they're good :) Anything in between… you might as just well get new eggs. They sell half egg cartons at any store. This cake recipe calls for 3 eggs so the pack of 6 work great. Unless you'll be using eggs in the future, go ahead and get a full dozen.









When I get all my ingredients out and ready to go, I also get everything else I'll need as well. I happen to have 2 cupcake pans clean and ready to go. If you have only one, that's totally fine, you just have to wait a little while longer to fill the next batch up after the pan has cooled. Light and dark pans have a small heat difference. I keep the same temperature, just keep checking your cupcakes for done-ness frequently with both types of pans.




Fill your cupcake pan(s) with your little paper cupcake liners if you're making cupcakes. Otherwise you bring out your Crisco or even butter works. Pam butter flavored spray works nicely too. This prevents the cakes from sticking to the pan and makes it much easier to release them from the pan and cool before icing. If you're using Crisco, I would use a butter knife or a small spatula to spread it around. It can be kind of thick and very oily if you use your fingers. Thought, you can always wash your hands again :)

Having everything ready before you start mixing and baking makes for an easier and less stressful cooking experience.

One more thing to remember is to preheat your oven! The back of the box lets you know the proper temperature for your pan. Know your oven and adjust accordingly.











So now you have your pans filled with paper liners and all your ingredients out and ready for use. One more thing to remember to have while mixing is your spatula. This is used to scrape the side of the bowl when mixing to get any dry ingredients off the sides and into the blending mix. You also want to remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl too. Your blender can't mix anything that close to the bowl so you have to help it a little.

I've also noticed that spatulas do get old. Especially if you've had it for a long time, make sure it isn't slimy and cracking. It should be firm and clean! If it's old and cracking, you run the risk of it breaking and crumbling into your mix. Not very tasty!



Now we are ready to blend! Dump your cake mix in your bowl and start your blender on low. The lowest it can go or it'll throw the dry ingredients all over you and you'll have a mess lol. Slowly pour in your water, oil and carefully crack your eggs into the mix. If you're worried about getting loose shells in your mix, crack them before starting your blender in a bowl so you can fish out any shell remnants before adding it to the mix. For health reasons, don't leave your eggshells lying around anything that will be touching food or yourself. I use my dirtied measuring cups to hold them. Or just simply throw them away. I find it easier to place them in the cup for now so I'm not playing with the garbage can, getting my hands dirty. Cleanliness is very important when making food, especially when cooking for other people/co-workers.

The back of your box indicates to mix at low speed for about 30 seconds. That's to insure all wet and dry ingredients are together and blending well. After a good 30 seconds of blending and scraping the sides of your bowl, turn your blender on medium speed to really get those chunks of dry ingredients mixed with the oil, water and egg.




Blend at medium speed for 2 minutes while continuing to scrape your bowl bottom and sides. Also turn your bowl counter clockwise while your bowl is naturally turning clockwise from the beaters. This helps things get blended twice through. Nice and fluffy :) This particular cake mix does have strawberry pieces inside. You'll notice this when blending. Those chunks won't go away. You're looking for any dry clumps hiding.

After your 2 minutes is up or you feel your mix is thoroughly blended, you're done mixing!

Helpful hint:
When your turning off your blender, slowly turn the speed down to low while slowly raising your blender head up out of the mix. This gets you more of the mix off the beaters without having to stick your fingers in the mess getting it off them. Once your beaters are out of the mix, turn off the blender completely so the mix doesn't splatter all over.




Now you are ready to spoon your mix into your paper cupcake liners in your pans. If you are baking with just one pan, you'll have to wait, as I said before, to fill the next batch after your pan has cooled. It's pretty handy having 2 baking pans because you're able to equally measure your batter into the cups and make exactly 24 cups.

I just use a large table spoon to fill the paper cups. You could use a scoop of some sort. They do make spatulas that are scoop like. Mine are flat so I use a spoon.

When spooning your batter into the cups, I hold the bowl in my other arm over the pans to help prevent any dripage all over the pans, counters or myself. It can be kind of heavy so take your time. And if you spill on your pans, it’s ok! It comes off.

Now for me, it takes about 2 large table spoon fulls to fill the cups. You want them to be about 3/4 of the way full. Any fuller and they'll spill all over the place in the middle of baking and make a mess. Any less and it might compromise the cooking time and overcook. Make sure all your cups are at equal level.  When having 2 pans, this helps a lot. If you have extra batter after filling all your cups, you can go back and even out the ones with less batter.







See I made a bit of a mess but it'll clean up just fine :D. All filled and ready to go! By this time your oven should be well preheated and you're able to stick one of your pans in. Once in the oven, start your timer and sit back to relax! For cupcakes, the box says to bake for 18-21 minutes.

When you're waiting for your cupcakes/cake to bake, take out your cooling rack. If you don't have any cooling racks, you could use an unused pan upside down and use that as a cooling station. The purpose of cooling is so you can frost the cake or cupcakes when it's not so hot and the frosting doesn't melt off and liquefy. It gets quite messy! Make sure you leave yourself adequate time to mix, bake, cool and frost before you need your treat to be done.

If you're looking for cooling racks to buy, they pretty easy to find. Most grocery stores have a section where they sell pans, cooking utensils and things you might need. Though, those are a little more spendy than you would find at say, Wal-mart or even the Dollar store sells tiny little racks that work just as well!

DING your cupcakes/cake time is running out! At around 6-5 mintues left, I would open up your oven and check your cake for done-ness. For this process, get your oven mitt or hot pad and pull out your cupcakes and get a toothpick.

Find the biggest cupcake or the center of your cake and stick the toothpick all the way down and pull it out. If your toothpick has cake mix sticking to it, you're cake isn't done. Push your pan back into the oven and finish your last few minutes and try it again.









If you pull the toothpick out and it's clean, they're done and ready to be cooled.

For cupcakes you can do this process with a few different cupcakes just to make sure they're all properly done. The toothpick holes won't be seen, don't worry :).













Now that your first batch is done cooking, put your other pan in the oven and repeat the process! If you only have one pan, take your cupcakes out of the pan to cool and let the pan cool for a little while before you put more paper cups and batter inside. You could wait about 5 minutes, which should be a good amount of time for cooling.

Your cake or cupcakes should come out of the pan pretty easy if you used a good amount of Crisco or butter on the pan. If it isn't coming out as well, turn your pan over with your hand on the top of the cake. Tap the bottom of the pan for a bit till it comes loose. You don't want to wiggle it too much, it might come only half way out and break into pieces. If that happens, you might be able to salvage it with frosting to stick it together when it cools. Again, you live and learn for next time! Using a butter knife around the edge of the cake also helps it loosen without breaking.




Once all your cupcakes are done baking, place them all on your cooling rack for a little while till they're cool to the touch. If the inside is warm, that's fine. It's the outside you want cool so you can frost! Yum!

When I'm waiting for my cupcakes to cool, I usually get out my pan I'm going to be storing them in; either my cupcake carrier or I have a deep pan with a lid that I use. I get those out and make sure they're clean. This is good to have ready so when you're done frosting and decorating, you have somewhere to put them so they don't get squished or touched and stay fresh.

I also open up my frosting can and bring out my butter knife I'm going to spread it with. You could also use a small spatula if you wanted. Whatever is easiest for you.





Time to ice! About 8 months ago I was introduced to Strawberry flavored icing and fell in love with it! So since the cupcakes are strawberry, let’s make the icing the same delicious flavor too! You could also use vanilla or even cream cheese flavor would be nice. Whatever your preference, one can of icing will thoroughly cover all 24 of your cupcakes or a cake if that's what your making.

A good idea for a cake, a box usually makes 2 small round cakes. You would be placing a round cake on top of the other to make a 2 layer cake. In the inside you could use strawberry preserves or even fresh strawberries. That would be a great filling! If you don't have any of that, just a thick layer of frosting would do just fine.


When frosting, you can use a lot of frosting on one top, there's enough to go around. You just want to have enough to cover the top and be satisfying without too much of it like some store bought cupcakes. I use my butter knife to spread the frosting back and forth slowly turning the cupcake with the other hand. They don't have to be pretty! You're just going to eat them later lol.

Now that you're all iced up, you can try your hand at decoration! You can do the simple sprinkles of various colors or you can buy the tube of colored frosting and decorative tips that come with the tube. Those tips have different shapes that help you write things like "Happy Birthday" in skinny letters or they have the + shape that creates frilly lining you could use around the outside of the cake or cupcakes. This time I used sprinkles!



My first attempt at decoration didn't go too well lol The more you try, the better you'll get at it! I know you can buy books at craft stores or book stores that help teach you to make your cakes and cupcakes pretty!







Delicious and fluffy!



I'm not a milk drinker so my tiny tea cup is perfect size :)



Now that you're all decorated pretty, line your container and it should keep your cupcakes fresh for days!


I hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as we do. I love anything fruit so these are simply delectable! I also hope that the instructions and helpful hints were understandable and easy to follow! Any questions, concerns or comments, feel free to ask away and I will help out!

Jell-o Shots!

I had recently joined the "Cooking" feed and was browsing it yesterday in boredom. I had stumbled upon a Jell-O shot recipe. I knew I've already used a recipe before but this is a little different. My shots never really "hardened" very well so I might try this recipe next time, whenever that will be.

For some reason I decided to read the comments to the recipe and found she had a one for Jell-O Pudding shots.

DELICIOUS!




Jello Shots


Ingredients:
1 lg cherry Jell-O mix (makes 6 shots) *or whatever flavor you want*
chocolate shell topping
maraschino cherries
whipped cream
crème de cocoa
vodka
sprinkles (optional)
You can soak the cherries in rum first for 20 minutes if you'd like.

Dissolve Jell-O mix into hot water, replace 2/3rds of the cold water with 1/3rd crème do cocoa and 1/3rd vodka. Let set in cups. Cover top in light chocolate topping, put in fridge or freezer to harden. Put small bud of whipped cream on top. Top with sprinkles, or more cherries.




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(sorry, no pictures yet for this one)
Pudding shots:
Ingredients:
1 pkg Instant pudding
1& 3/4ths cup milk
1/4th cup Baileys Irish Cream

It takes a little while to set but it makes a delicious dessert!
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I can't wait to try the Baileys and pudding! It sounds so good!!!


I hope you guys find these fun and delicious ;) Kind of a twist on the regular Jell-O and vodka. '



Recipe received from whorishness  .

Wakie wakie Pancakie!

I was going through my cabinets the other day making room for new groceries and I stumbled upon these "Betty Crocker" complete mix packages I got a while ago and I forgot about. I had bought them at a local Super Wal-Mart and that's the only place I've been able to find a substantial selection. I had bought pancake mix, blueberry muffin mix, cheesy roll mix, corn bread mix and the list goes on. Why I forgot about them, I don't know lol. They're quite handy because, for example, if you don't make pancakes very often (I actually don't remember the last time I made pancakes) these little packages are very handy to have. Before, I had to buy the large bag of pancake mix that makes 10,000 pancakes. Of course you're able to scoop out a small amount of the mix to make just for yourself... but then the bag goes back into the cupboard till next use (who know's when??)

Moving on. I found those suckers and ever since I have been craving pancakes. I went out yesterday and purchased some fresh maple syrup and surprised Dennis this morning with some little round love cakes <3



The package says "Makes 10" but I ended up making them smaller than directed, I like small ones.


Though I made the last one large and couldn't finish it lol


I'm all for the big flour sized bags of pancake mix, don't get me wrong. But when you don't have kids and make pancakes all the time, these packages are just the right size. You don't waste money and food products! They cost about .88 cents a package.

Helpful hint:
When you pour your pancake batter onto the skillet, take a bit of butter a little half way through cooking each side and slide it around the edge of the pancakes. That gives it a bit of a crispy edge :) Very tasty. I had used "Pam, butter flavor" on the pan and I kind of don't like using Pam. The smell kind of throws me off. So I think I would use just regular butter/margarine to help lubricate the cakes. I also don’t have a flat skillet or griddle so a large frying pan works fine too.

Welcome!


All right! First post!

Let me introduce myself.

I love to cook and bake. I love food. lol And I make good food. A lot of people like my food so I decided to make a journal about how to make my good food, good tips, suggestions and fun ideas for people who need some help.

I mostly make meals that serve two people so there are a lot of leftovers usually. I will specify in each recipe post how much it usually serves. I really enjoy making quick meals that taste really good instead of resorting to "Hamburger Helper" though those do sometimes pop up in our day to day lives. If they do, I almost always spice it up one way or another, making it tasty and not so... well... boxed. I'll also throw in some "from scratch" meals for those daring to try.

Just keep in mind that if you aren't use to cooking or you feel you aren't adequate enough, it takes practice like everything else. Soon you'll have your own cooking sense and you can add your own splash of delish to your own dish.

I also barbeque a lot. I've never used the microwave to cook anything. Microwaves, to me, are for warming up leftovers or quickly boiling water. If you don't have a barbeque, you’re oven will do just fine :) Barbequing meats are the best way to cook, I think. The fat drips off and doesn't sit, pooled and sucked back into your meat. Also, microwaving meats causes it to be dry and bland. I will show you how to marinade, barbeque and/or broil your meats so they're restaurant juicy! And once you get the hang of it, you'll never go back to that microwave. Another way to cook meat is fried on a pan. That works but again the fat has nowhere to drain. They do have meat grilling skillets with rivets, which work very well but can be expensive. We found ours on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, we love it :) it works well with grilled cheese!

When cooking vegetables, I've never, ever bought canned. I've had it before and it has no flavor and basically no nutrients. Buying fresh fruit and vegetables aren't very expensive if you visit your local market and look for things that are in season. Buying frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh. The brands I find best are "Flavor Pac". I'm not sure if that is sold everywhere but you can try different brands till you find one with the freshest taste. Now when I actually cook them, I use to boil them till done but I've found sautéing them works so much better, is healthier and tastes better! I will soon add posts on how to sauté mushrooms, corn (yes sautéed corn is delicious), green beans, and other stir fry materials. Steaming your vegetables is another way to cook, it holds the nutrients instead of leaking out into your water. If you're making soup, boiling the vegetables is fine because you usually eat the 'broth' along with everything in it. That way you're still receiving the nutrients.


I know a lot of people might know this stuff but some people don't. I thought I would start with the basics and explain my reasoning for how I cook. I love fresh food :) None of that canned and packaged stuff unless absolutely necessary. For some people it's more convenient or they do like the taste of it. That's fine with me :)


Anyway! I hope you enjoy my posts and find them at least somewhat helpful!! I find a lot of recipes off of www.allrecipes.com and from being handed down by my family. Or I even make some myself. Anything you would like to see on my journal or you have a recipe of your own you want to share, PLEASE feel free to do so! I'm always up to learning more and sharing delicious ways to enjoy food!