Saturday, August 20, 2011


My cousin Jill issued a challenge on Thursday.  "Make one Pinterest-inspired item by Saturday."   That was all it took for me to go through my boards and select something to make.  I'm a sucker for a challenge - but only if it's something doable.  Challenge me to make something crafty or bake a fun recipe?  I'm in.  Challenge me to climb a mountain or solve a tough math problem?  Totally out.  So I guess I like challenges that aren't very challenging...

We're going to a birthday party tonight for one of our best friends - he's turning the big 3-5.  I said I'd bring a little something sweet.  And what did Pinterest have in store for me?  No Bake Vanilla Cake Batter Truffles.  Sold.  And they are SO easy!  And don't they look festive?

No Bake Vanilla Cake Batter Truffles (I doubled this recipe and it was a good amount to bring to a party)
  • 1 cup vanilla cake mix
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups chocolate chips (you can also use chocolate almond bark)
  • Combine the cake mix, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  It will be a very firm dough.  
  • Roll the dough into small balls and place on a parchment or wax paper covered cookie sheet.  (If the dough gets too sticky during this, place it in the fridge for a few minutes.)
  • Place the cookie sheet of dough balls in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  • Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.  I like to melt mine in a mug - it makes dipping easier.
  • Dip each dough ball in melted chocolate and then place back on the cookie sheet.  Put sprinkles on before the chocolate hardens.
  • Once all the dough balls are covered in chocolate, put the cookie sheet back in the freezer until the chocolate is hardened.
  • Store in the fridge or freezer

Then I was left with about half a bag of cake mix.  What's a girl to do?  Why, go back to her pinterest board and see what other cake-mix inspired recipes she's pinned.  And that'shat I did. 

And that's when I found these beauties.  Cake mix cookies.  And only 3 ingredients?  Done.

Cake Mix Cookies (I only had half a box of cake mix, so I halved this recipe.)
  • One box cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • whatever mix-ins your little heart desires
  • Heat oven to 350.
  • Combine cake mix, eggs and oil.  Stir in your chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
  • Drop by the spoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes
So easy!  And delicious.

Thanks, Jill for the challenge!

PS - I also made one other sewing/crafty project, but it's for a 2-year-old birthday that's coming up on October 1st...stay tuned!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mint Condition Cookies

It was my dear friend Sara's birthday on Tuesday.  Sara lives all the way out in Washington state.  :(  One of Sara's favorite things in the world is a Mint Condition from Caribou.  Mint + chocolate + coffee = happy Sara.  One of the bummers about living in Washington (aside from being far away from friends and family) is that there are no Caribous.  Poor Sara.  So for her birthday I wanted to send her something to remind her of home - aka a Mint Condition.  I figured the good ol' USPS probably would not approve of me sending a cup of coffee through the mail, so I decided the next best thing was to make a mint condition in cookie form. 

Sidenote:  Why do people always take pictures of their baked goods in mugs?  When's the last time you ever used a mug to serve cookies?  But, I'm nothing if not a band-wagon joiner, so enjoy the cookies-in-a-mug picture.

I combined a bunch of different recipes and here's what I ended up with:

Mint Condition Cookies:
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup Andes Mints baking pieces (or other mint chips)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Dissolve the coffee granules in the milk.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars.
  4. Add the coffee mixture, melted chocolate and eggs.
  5. Add the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Stir in the mint and chocolate chips.
  7. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
They were pretty darn good!  You could also drizzle a little chocolate over the cookies when they're cool....mmmmm.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Extra Milk?

I had a gallon of milk that was getting near the expiration date and was still 2/3 full.  There was no way I could use that much milk in 2 days, but I didn't want to throw it out.  What's a girl to do?  I poured the milk into ice cube trays and froze it.  (I figured I can freeze breastmilk, why not try it with cow's milk?  TMI?)  It worked!  Now I use those cubes for milk shakes or smoothies (this one was milk cubes, a banana and some pineapple juice).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

News Flash!

I think I like coffee.  I've always liked the flavor of coffee in things like coffee ice cream, but could never bring myself to drink it.  That is until yesterday.  I was reading a friend's blog (Mommy Monologue) and she had posted a recipe for Greek Iced Coffee.  And I thought, "Heck, why not try it?"  So try it I did.  The recipe is super easy and uses instant coffee granules so if you're like me and gave away your coffee maker that you never used, you can make this!  It's so yummy and made paying bills yesterday WAY better.  :)

Last night, I used this recipe, added some ice cream, hot chocolate mix and extra milk and poured it into a popsicle mold.  Can't wait to try my mocha pops today!  Yum!  Thanks, Laurali for the recipe and making a coffee drinker out of me!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


So, I'm slightly addicted to pinterest.  It's my little escape.  It gets me motivated to do cool things around the house and cook fun things.  And fun things I have cooked.  Like these:
What is all that deliciousness, you ask?  Why it is an Ulitmate Chocolate Chip Cookie 'n Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar.  Seriously amazing.  I've made them twice now and they've been a big hit.  The recipe calls for you to make your own cookie dough from scratch.  While I have THE best chocolate chip recipe in the world, I'm sometimes on the lazy side so I used a mix from a pouch.  Cheater. 

Really, you don't need much for these amazing bars - chocolate chip cookie mix, brownie mix (and the eggs, oil, etc. needed for both) and some Oreos.  I recommend the double stuff.  Why?  Why not?

Mix up the cookie dough and pat it in the bottom of a greased 9x13.  Arrange the Oreos on top (don't worry, you don't use all the Oreos so there are some for you to munch on...).  Mix up the brownie batter and pour it on top.  I like to add some chocolate chips to my brownie batter because that's what this recipe needs, more chocolate.  Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes. 

Okay, after typing this post I may or may not be going to the grocery store to get cookie mix, brownie mix and Oreos.  Don't judge.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chickpea Nuts

I made nuts out of chickpeas.  I'm pretty much a magician.  That, or they're not actual nuts, just baked chickpeas.  I guess the secrets out then - I'm not a magician.

Ingredients: Chickpeas, olive oil, whatever spices you want (good ol' s&p for me)

Rinse your chickpeas.

Pat dry with a paper towel.

Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spices.

Put them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 450 for 25-30 minutes, or until brown and crunchy.

Voila!  Chickpea Nuts!  (Next time I'll cook them a little longer, some were still a little soft...)

Easy, healthy little snack.  :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Baby Food Co-op

Drew started eating baby food about a month and a half ago and I decided that we were going to homemade baby food.  I wish I could say that I made that decision because I want only the best, organic, no-weird-stuff-added food going into my baby's belly.  I mean, I guess all that's true, but the real reason I decided to go the homemade route is because I'm cheap,  I can get one jar of baby food for a buck, or a pound of sweet potatoes which makes the equivalent of about 4 jars of baby food.  Sold. 

After making sweet potatoes and then carrots for Drew, I realized making baby food is kind of time consuming.  And if I wanted my child to have some variety in his diet, I needed a new plan.  And so the Baby Food Co-op was born.  It's basically the same as the cookie exchanges you do around Christmas, but with homemade baby food.  Five other moms and I each made a ton of one type of baby food, froze it ice cube trays, and then had a little party where we swapped.  Okay, we did more than swap at the party.  We drank some wine, had some yummy appetizers and desserts and chatted.  Without kids.  It was glorious.

Confession:  I was all about having this be a "moms only" night and thought I had made plans for my mom to watch Drew.  Come to find out, what she thought the plans were and what I thought the plans were didn't quite match up.  :)  And Drew was only awake for about 15 minutes of the party.  Hooray for early bedtimes!

My contribution to the baby food extravaganza?  Peas and parsnips.  I know, I made two things.  I'm kind of an over-achiever.  Not.  (Who says "not" anymore?)  Apparently parsnips are not the most popular vegetable and I cleaned out our local grocery store and didn't have enough.  (We were supposed to make enough for each person to go home with the equivalent of one ice cube tray of each food.)  So I made peas as well.

My peas and parsnips in all of their baby food glory.

The lovely ladies at the party
(Sarah, Samarah, Erin, me and LauraliEmily is taking the pic.)
We each ended up going home with peas, parsnips, applesauce, carrots, plums, peaches and pears!

And here's the babe enjoying some of his tasty food.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Word to the Wise

When we moved into our house (6+ months ago) there were tons of little holes in the walls where the previous occupant had pictures hanging. And some not-so-little holes where she had her TV mounted on the wall. Justin got right on filling in those holes after we moved in. (One day I counted - there were 18 spots. And that's only what I could see from the sofa.)

And then life took over and we lived with little white spots all over the walls. It was kind of obnoxious. And possibly a health hazard. One friend that came over thought she was getting a migraine because she was seeing white spots. I told her not to worry, we were all seeing the spots. That is unless we were all getting migraines...

After living with the white spots for over 5 months, we (a.k.a. Justin) decided it was high time to paint them. So he broke out the Navajo White (our favorite Behr neutral) and his trusty paint brush and started making the white spots disappear. He only said abra-cadabra once. Or maybe that was me...

After painting over the first few spots, we had to double check the paint color we were using because it just wasn't quite the exact same. This should have been our first clue to investigate a little further... But the can said Navajo White so we kept on going. (For future reference, replace every "we" with "Justin". I actually did nothing.) We figured the paint just needed to dry.

After drying, it still looked a little off, as seen in this picture:

Wowza. Looks like some greasy-handed person wiped their hands all over the wall. But alas, that was not the case. The real cause of the problem? We used Navajo White in this house and our former house, but in different finishes. We apparently used the eggshell paint to touch up the flat paint. Awesome.

But in keeping with our we're-really-good-at-not-finishing-projects vibe, we haven't fixed it. And probably won't for a while. Or ever.

So word to the wise, don't just check that you're using the right color for touch ups - check the finish as well.