Sunday, December 22, 2013

Felt-Embellished Sweater Hat

I made this last year for Anna, and I never got a post up.  I used an old sweater of mine, so I felt sort of "thrifty."  Anyway, Anna had it on today, so I had to get a picture of her!

I used the tutorial found here.  I used an existing hat as a pattern.

I simply cut the petals and center for the flower from felt using my pinking shears.  I made a line down the middle of each petal, pinned them in place, and sewed down the line using my machine.  I then folded the circle for the center of the flower to make it stand out a bit and hand-sewed it in place.

This is one of those projects that should be quick and easy, and it actually was!  As a bonus, Anna is still wearing it a year later!

Tiger Butter

This was one of my favorite candies that we would make around Christmas when I was growing up.  It is so easy and delicious.  It combines peanut butter and chocolate, so need I say more?

Tiger Butter

2 pounds almond bark
1 cup peanut butter (you can use smooth or crunchy)
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Grease a 9 by 13 or 10 by 15 inch pan, depending on how thick you want the candy to be.  I usually make it in a 9 by 13 so that it is about an inch thick.  Melt almond bark in microwave or on stove top according to package directions.  Add peanut butter and stir until smooth.  Spread into prepared pan.  Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Let sit for a few minutes or until chips soften and begin to melt.  Use a knife to swirl the chocolate into the candy.  Cool until firm, then cut or break into bit-sized chunks.

Note:  sometimes my chocolate chips don't melt.  When that happens, I just pop the pan into the oven at 300 for 2 minutes and then swirl.
Friday, December 20, 2013

Mason Jar Mini Pies

Our church was preparing care packages for the college students for finals week, and I wanted to make something special to include in them.  I had been wanting to try making pies in mason jars for a long time, so I finally decided to give it a try.  I was inspired by this post here.

First wash 12 four ounce mason jars, lids, and rims and dry.

Then make one recipe of Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust.  Find the recipe here.

Roll out half the dough into a circle and use the ring from your mason jar to cut the tops for your pies.

Then press dough on bottom and up the sides of the mason jars.  Place on a baking sheet.

Fill with filling of choice.  The recipe I was following recommended 1/2 cup pie filling per pie, but I found that I did not need that much.  I made the apple pie filling adapted slightly from Betty Crocker--8 Granny Smith apples, peeled & chopped, 1/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg & cinnamon.  (I had quite a bit of filling leftover.)  I recommend chopping the apples a little smaller than what you would for a regular pie--it makes it simpler to get the filling into the jars.

Place filling in crust and place a small pat of butter on top.  Then press top crust on.  I tried to do make some decorative marks on the sides with a fork, but I found that this dough will not hold the shape.  You can use a decorative stamp to vent the top or just make a couple of slits with a knife.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Then bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes or until browned.

Using hot mitts to handle the jars, wipe the rims with a wet cloth, place flats on top, and screw on the lids.  (I had to push some of the crusts down a little, but it worked fine.)

Let the jars cool.  All of mine ended up sealing.  Label and decorate as desired.  I used muffin liners on top of my jars--thank you Pinterest for the idea!

Here is our "Pearce Pie" label that Maddie drew!

Please keep in mind that these are not shelf stable--they should be consumed within a few days or frozen for later.  There's just something about that little "pop" you get when you break open a sealed jar, though!

I also made up some of these using my County Fair Pie recipe.  For this, only half of the pie dough is needed, because there is no top crust.  I also had plenty of filling with this recipe for 12 mini pies.

I am planning to try this out with pumpkin pies soon, too!  I always have more than enough filling for a 9 inch pie, so this will be a great way to use that extra filling!  Have fun experimenting with this one!

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

We really like this pumpkin bread recipe, but the taste itself is not what makes it perfect.  The thing that makes it perfect is that it uses exactly 1 can of pumpkin!  I can't tell you how many times I have made a recipe that uses one cup pumpkin.  Thinking I will use the remaining 3/4 cup at a later date, I put it in a container in the refrigerator.  Weeks later, I pull out an unidentifiable substance that is covered in mold.  Oops!  Well, no penicillin experiments with this one!  Just throw the whole can in!

Perfect Pumpkin Bread  (adapted from this recipe)

1 15 ounce can pumpkin
2 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup water
2 1/3 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I like white whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon cinnamon & 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans.  Mix canned pumpkin, sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and water in a medium bowl.  In a second bowl, stir together flours, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice.  Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients until just combined (we used a mixer for this).  Pour batter into prepared pans  Bake for 60 - 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 15 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from pans and cool on rack completely.  Enjoy!

Note: If you want to make your own pumpkin pie spice, it's really easy.  I like this blend here.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fudge-Filled Cookie Cutters

I had seen this idea on Pinterest, so when I saw these darling folk star cookies cutters at our local general store, I knew I had to give it a try.

After I washed and dried the cookie cutters, I made up a batch of Grandma's recipe for easy fudge (recipe below).  I sprayed a small glass dish (since I was only making three of these) with cooking spray and also sprayed the insides of the cookie cutters.

I carefully spooned the fudge into the cutters and used the spoon to level it out and make sure that the corners were filled.

Yes, a little will come out of the bottom, but it will clean up easily later.  Then I covered these and refrigerated them overnight.  (The remaining fudge I placed in a greased 8 by 8 inch pan.)

I removed the excess fudge from the bottom and used a paper towel to wipe the outsides of the cookie cutters clean.

Then I placed them in a clear treat bag and tied it up with a raffia bow.  Easy enough.  I originally started with a Christmas-themed treat bag with stripes on it, but then you could not see the shape of the cookie cutter, which I think is what makes this gift special.

Grandma's Easy Fudge

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups coarsely chopped nuts (Grandma used walnuts; I prefer pecans)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine semisweet and butterscotch chips with sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 45 seconds and stir.  Microwave another 45 seconds and then stir until smooth.  Stir in nuts and vanilla.  Pour into greased 9 by 9 inch pan or use to fill greased cookie cutters.  Store in refrigerator.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Easy Pecan Pie

So, my three year old and one year old are napping.  My other three are downstairs watching a movie.  I should be folding laundry, but I wanted to get this post up.  It has been forever since I have added anything to my blog, and I decided that it was time!

One of the reasons that I haven't posted anything for a while is because we have been busy working on a project.  My kids love to make pies, and we had been talking about the idea of selling pies around Thanksgiving.  So, we decided to give it a try this year.  We have a young man from our church who is currently in Kolkata, India, doing mission work.  He left this August and will be staying there for three years.  We decided to donate our proceeds to supporting him.

We spread the word through our church and through facebook, and this Tuesday we delivered the last of our 65 pie orders!  I was so proud of my kids' hard work and determination.

When we first started this project, we sold Apple, County Fair, and Pumpkin pies.  About two weeks before we stopped taking orders, we added Pecan to the list.  I found a recipe that I wanted to try out and sent a test pie home with a friend (she loves pecan pie!), and it got rave reviews!

If you are looking for a pretty pecan pie, this is not the one for you.  Several of mine have cracked after they baked, and it doesn't cut cleanly.  But, if you are looking for one delicious pie, make this one.  As a bonus, it does not contain corn syrup.

My three year old Lyla would help me mix up this pie.  We could get three in the oven pretty quickly (probably 15 minutes or less), and she was so excited to be helping with our pie project!

Here's the recipe (adapted from

Easy Pecan Pie:

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

First, make a half recipe of Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust (use 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup canola oil, and 1/4 cup water).  Place in pie pan, flute the edges, and put the crust in the freezer while you make the filling.  (I often would leave the crust overnight and then make the filling the next morning.)  You could also use a store bought pie crust if you really want to make this easy!

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl,  beat two eggs with a hand mixer until bubbly.  Add butter and blend until incorporated. Mix in sugars and flour until well-blended; next, add the vanilla and milk.  Add pecans and mix one more time.

Retrieve your crust from the freezer, and pour  the filling into it.  Place on heated baking sheet in oven.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then, reduce heat to 325 and bake approximately 40 minutes more or until golden brown.

Remove baking sheet from oven with pie on it and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

PS--Don't feel bad if it cracks; several of ours did!  They still tasted great, especially warm with a big scoop of ice cream on top!

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


So, do you ever feel like you are losing your mind?  I do.  More often than I would like to admit, in fact.  I was certain that I had posted a recipe for Stormboli on my blog sometime last year.  I remember taking the pictures and everything.  However, when I looked for the recipe, it was nowhere to be found!  I even did a search and turned up nothing.

Consequently, when I made Stromboli the other day, I decided to take new pictures and waste no time getting them posted.  I make this at least once for supper during the harvest season because it is so good and easy to eat while driving machinery.  Stromboli is a great, easy meal that you can customize to your family's tastes.  I put pepperoni on one half for my spice-loving little guy, and ham on the other half for my girls.  Feel free to experiment with your favorite pizza toppings on this one!

Here's the recipe:


1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed (or use your favorite bread dough recipe.  I like this one!)
Olive oil
Your favorite toppings--I use sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon or ham, etc.
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Roll dough out very thin on a floured surface.  If you like to make your own dough, you have got to check out the recipe for quick bread dough by Something Swanky.  It is ready to go in about 20 minutes, and it rolls out perfectly.  Check out the link to the recipe in above.  The only change I made was to use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour instead of 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour.

Anyway, like I said, roll your dough very thin on a floured surface so that it doesn't stick; probably about a 20 by 15 inch rectangle.  (I divided my dough into two parts and made two Stromboli.)  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano.  Add toppings.  Be careful not to get too crazy with the toppings or your Stromboli will not bake well.  Starting with a long side, roll up as tightly as possible.  Seal the ends and place, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet.  (I like to use a baking stone for this.)  Brush the top with olive oil.

Bake at 350 degrees for twenty to thirty minutes or until done.  You can rub a stick of butter over the top of the Stromboli before cutting into slices if you like!


Tip:  You can also freeze this for a quick meal later.  After rolling up your Stromboli, place on a baking sheet that is covered with waxed paper.  Freeze for an hour or two, then wrap with up tightly with cling wrap (or Glad Press and Seal--I love that stuff!) and foil.  When ready to bake, place on greased baking sheet and put in cold oven.  Turn to 350 degrees and bake approximately 40 minutes or until done.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sewing with Sarah

I have always enjoyed learning new things from other women.  When I was little, it seemed like my Great Aunt Connie was usually working on something crafty when she and Great Uncle Keith would come visit.  Under Connie's tutelage, I learned how to do counted cross-stitch and latch hook.  I would sit beside her and watch her hands busily move over a project.  Noticing my interest, she would take the time to show me how to do it, too.

When I got married, I got to know Matt's Aunt Sarah, who introduced me to the joy of quilting.  Over the years, she has helped me with many tips and helpful advice.  When Matt and I have visited her in Salina, she and I have laid out many a quilt design on her ping pong table downstairs.

So, when she offered to come out to sew during a recent visit, I jumped at the chance.  I had cut the squares and laid out the pattern of a baby quilt recently, so it was a great morning project for us.

Lyla was anxious to help, and she did a great job cutting apart the squares that we had chain pieced together.  (One of the first tips that Sarah gave me on quilting was how to chain piece.)  Lyla was so excited to be a helper (reminds me a little bit of me years ago with Great Aunt Connie!)

Anyway, we got the quilt put together in about an hour--sewing does always go so much faster with two.  I still need to sew around the edges and then get the quilt to my mother-in-law Lois to clip.  I'll be sure to post an update of the finished project!

Incidentally, if you live in the Western Kansas area, be sure to check out the Quilt Cabin in Colby.  They have a great selection of fabric and lots of quilt kits.

Want instructions for making a rag quilt?  See here.  The quilt above is uses 7 inch squares and is 8 blocks wide by 10 rows long.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Perfect Party Punch

I think that I admitted in a recent blog post that I am not that great at pictures.  However, I am not going to let that stop me from posting this fun and easy recipe.

To celebrate Anna's fifth birthday, she requested a tea party with several of her friends.  We have done tea parties in the past, and no matter how much I doctor up the tea with honey, the girls don't drink it.  So, I had the idea to put punch in their tea cups.

It was a big success!  I think Anna had at least four cups.  And, despite the picture not showing it very well, it was a beautiful shade of pink.

Perfect Party Punch:

Raspberry Sherbet
Sprite or another lemon-lime soda
Pink Lemonade (I used the frozen concentrate and mixed it per the package directions)

Pour equal parts of Sprite and Pink Lemonade into punch bowl.  Add small scoops of raspberry sherbet.  Let sit for at least ten minutes so that the sherbet can melt into the liquid a bit and get foamy.  Serve!

I think I also put an extra dollop of sherbet in the girls' cups as I ladled out the punch.

This is an easy way to add a little something extra to whatever event you are planning.  It would be a great punch for a girl baby shower as well.

Click here to see more about Anna's tea party!
Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lime Marinated Grilled Chicken

So. . . I spent more than a little time trying to decide whether to call this "Lime Marinated Grilled Chicken," or "Marinated Lime Grilled Chicken."  In the end, it probably doesn't matter that much, but I sought the counsel of my oldest daughter, who agreed with me on my choice.

I love this recipe.  It is so easy and delicious!  It's one of my son's favorites.  Whenever I tell him that we are having chicken, he asks, "Is it the lime one?"

The only kink with the recipe is that you have to plan ahead.  It tastes best when you marinate the chicken overnight.  So, throw this into your fridge today and celebrate the fact that dinner is ready for tomorrow night!

Lime Marinated Grilled Chicken (adapted from here)

8 - 10 four ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup lime juice
2/3 cup olive oil
5 - 6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons minced garlic (I use the jarred kind; you could also run 4 garlic cloves through your garlic press if you prefer.)
2 teaspoons sage
2 teaspoons thyme
Pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients except chicken in a bowl and mix to combine.  Put chicken in a ziploc bag and pour marinade over the top.  Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  (I like to turn the bag over every now and again.)

Grill chicken over low heat until chicken is done.
Friday, July 19, 2013

Maddie's 9th and Grant's 1st Birthday Party

So, my oldest is 9, and my youngest is 1.  I can finally say that without cringing!  I say this all the time, but it sure has gone quickly!  These two have birthdays that are just a week apart, so we decided to do a combined party with family.

Maddie wanted a basketball cake, and Grant has always been our little monkey, so we had monkeys and basketballs!  I found the monkey cupcake idea here.  I used candy eyes from Walmart and placed some chocolate sprinkles on the top of the monkeys' heads for hair.

Of course, I had to make some cake pops, too!  The monkey idea came from my Cake Pops:  Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats by Bakerella.  I used a mini vanilla wafer for the nose instead of a peanut butter candy wafer.

When Maddie requested a basketball cake, I decided it was a great opportunity to try fondant.  I mean, I only needed one color!  I used this recipe and tinted it orange.  I greased my mixing bowl and dough hook with Crisco and used it to knead the dough instead of doing it all by hand.  I put the food coloring in right when I started mixing the fondant so that I did not have to need it in later.

I baked two 9 inch layer cakes and frosted them with orange-tinted buttercream frosting.  Then I placed the fondant on top.  I rubbed the fondant with Crisco shortening to help smooth the wrinkles and give it a nice finish.

Ready for a party!

Happy Birthday to you!

I was nervous cutting into Maddie's cake because I wasn't sure what it was going to look like.  I used this idea and put cake balls into the chocolate layers!  We baked some orange cake balls with my Babycakes Cake Pop Maker, tinting the vanilla cake pop batter (from the user's manual) orange.  I froze them to use when baking the cake the next day. I just used a boxed chocolate cake mix.  I placed enough batter to cover the bottom of each of my prepared 9 inch round cake pans.  Then I placed 12 cake balls in each round and spooned batter over the top to cover them.   I baked the cakes about 7 minutes longer than called for on the cake mix instructions.   I was worried about getting the cakes done, so I think I over-baked them a bit.  Next time I will not bake them quite as long.

It was neat cutting into the cake and seeing little "basketballs" inside.

I'm not sure if Grant liked the balloons or Grandma better--probably a tie!  In case you are wondering, I ordered the Mod Monkey balloon, napkins, and plates from Birthday Express.  

Happy birthday to my sweet girl and boy!  I am so proud to be your Mom!

If you like decorating cakes, be sure to check out these posts!

Anna's Fifth Birthday
My Tips on Decorating Cakes
Evan and Lyla's Party (7 & 3, How Can That Be?)

Easy Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

My husband jokes with me that I'm not happy unless I use my slow cooker at least twice a week.  While that may be an over-exaggeration, I do love my slow cooker.  I enjoy the feeling of knowing that supper is in the crock pot at home ready to go.  Right now my kitchen smells amazing because I mixed up some of this spaghetti sauce right after lunch and turned it on low.  That sauce is in there, getting all warm and bubbly and yummy.  For supper, I'll just cook up some pasta for the kids and some zucchini noodles for Matt and me.  Pass the parmesan, please!

Easy Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce (adapted from this recipe)

2 pounds ground meat, cooked (use ground beef, pork, sausage, or any combination.  I keep thinking I will try half ground beef and half sausage)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons each dried basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in slow cooker except meat.  If your family is like mine and does not like a chunky sauce, then use an immersion blender to blend up the tomatoes.  Add meat and stir well.  Taste and adjust spices as needed.  Cook on low 3 -4 hours or high 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Enjoy over your favorite pasta or some zucchini noodles if you are going low carb.  Enjoy!

Megan's notes:  Feel free to adjust the spices to your family's liking.  That's the nice thing about making your own spaghetti sauce--you can tailor it to your tastes.  My mom always used to add some brown sugar to her spaghetti sauce.  It cuts the acidity of the tomatoes a bit.  Probably about 1 tablespoon would do the trick.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Super Simple Hot Fudge Sauce

What's better than a big bowl of ice cream? Some ice cream with hot fudge on top! We would have this recipe often growing up. My grandma had an old-fashioned fondue pot that she would heat it up in. I usually use the microwave now, but you can throw the ingredients into a crock pot to have ready whenever the meal is over. When you have guests, setting up a sundae bar is a simple and yummy dessert that everyone enjoys!  I served this the other night to my kids with their choice of sprinkles, M & M's, and/or mini Reeces Pieces to put on top.  They each choose all of them!  You should have seen the looks on their faces when I piled it all on and handed it to them.  Yum in a bowl!  Here's the recipe:

Super Simple Hot Fudge Sauce

1 cup chocolate chips
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place chocolate chips and butter into microwave-safe container. Microwave about 45 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds. Add sweetened condensed milk and microwave another 30 seconds. Stir well. Microwave another 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each increment, until mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and enjoy with ice cream!
Sunday, June 30, 2013

Apple Pie Pockets

We are getting ready to make some harvest meals next week, which means that everything needs to be able to be eaten with one hand while operating machinery. One of my husband's favorite desserts is apple pie, so I wanted to make apple pie that could be eaten on the go.

I combined a couple of recipes that I found on the web to come up with these tasty little treats. Here's the recipe:

Apple Pie Pockets

1 recipe Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon flour
Approximately 2 tablespoons butter
1 egg white, beaten
2 tablespoons water
cinnamon sugar

While you are waiting for the oil and water to cool for the pie crust, mix sugar, spices, and flour together in a bowl. Add apples and mix well.

Roll out dough between wax paper and cut out circles of dough. I used a plastic container that was nearly five inches in diameter to cut mine out.   I put the scraps together and re-rolled the dough once to get a total of 12 circles.

Place circles on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (This makes clean up so much easier!)

Place a small amount of apples on each circle of dough. Cut butter into twelve equal pieces and place one on top of each pie. Carefully fold the crust in half over the top of the apples and seal the edges with your finger. Flute the edges with a fork if desired.

Combine the egg and water in a bowl. Brush the top with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut two slits in the top of each pocket to allow steam to escape.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let rest for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

My husband said the filling was a little "drier" than regular apple pie filling. I think this is because I didn't use as much butter as I would with an apple pie. I didn't want the filling to be too moist, though, or the pockets would get soggy and would not be able to be eaten on the run. There is also more sugar in this filling that a typical pie fillinge, which could contribute to the dryness. I may cut the sugar a little bit next time. I'll keep playing with the recipe and update you with any changes.

All in all, I would say this recipe was a success. We had these last night when we had some friends over, and they passed the hand-held test. I'll be making them for harvest.

We are in the middle of a bad drought here in Wallace County. The wheat does not look too favorable. It is really hard to see a chance for rain on the weather and have it continually pass us by! I have been praying this Scripture:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
--2 Chronicles 7:14

In the meantime, we will continue to choose to trust God to provide.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Etched Cookie Jar

Okay, I admit it.  I'm not very good at taking pretty pictures!  I see all these beautiful blogs with pretty pictures with everything "just so," and I sigh and think, "I wish my pictures looked like that!"  Often I am trying to take my pictures with my cell phone with a baby wiggling in the front pack.  I'm lucky to simply get my picture in focus, let alone set up a neat background!  So, I apologize for the not-so-pretty picture.  However, I didn't want to let it stop me from sharing this great project.

I made this as a graduation gift for a sweet girl who graduated from high school this year.  (And, yes, I know I'm a little late with my gift.  I figure better late than never!)

I bought the glass cookie jar from Walmart.  I used the same technique to etch the jar as in my Powercat Etched Glass Dish Tutorial.  I found the flower clip art here and used Janda Apple Cobbler Font, which is one of my new favorites.  I left the etch on for about 6 minutes.

I added some smaller flowers and butterflies around the jar.  You can find the butterfly graphic here.  Maddie, my almost nine year old artist, drew the bumblebee for me.  She used this picture as inspiration.

Here's a close-up of Maddie's bee.  (Yes, I'm a proud mama!)

I filled the jar with some of our favorite cookies (the kids helped with the recipe suggestions and with baking the cookies) and delivered it this morning.  It was a really fun project that I enjoyed doing, and it was great to get the kids involved.  I may have to try this on some mason jars sometime soon!

Here are the cookie recipes that I used:

"Chip & Putter" Cookies
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

I found this recipe on Six Sisters' Stuff.  I love their blog!  I have probably made at least two dozen of their recipes, if not more.  Not to mention the massive amount of ideas/recipes from them that I have on my Pinterest Boards!  I love this recipe because you don't have to run the mixer--it just stirs up easily.  (aka, we can whip these out during nap time without making too much noise!)  Plus they are just so fun!  You could easily add seasonal sprinkles to fit any holiday you could imagine.  Anna, my five year old, was pretty excited to show Daddy the cookies that she made "all by herself"!

Here's the recipe (modified slightly from here.)

Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

1 box, 18.25 ounces, Funfetti Cake Mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup white chocolate chips (chocolate chips are also delicious in these!)
1/2 cup sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cake mix in large bowl.  Stir in baking powder.  Add eggs and oil and stir until well blended.  Add chocolate chips and then sprinkles.  Once you add the sprinkles, you do not want to stir too much, or the colors will bleed!  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.

"Chip & Putter" Cookies (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I was discussing cookie recipes recently with a friend, and she mentioned that Chip & Putter Cookies were one of her family's favorites.  I, of course, requested the recipe.  I mean, what a great name!  So she graciously shared the recipe for these delicious peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

"Chip & Putter" Cookies (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 ounce dark chocolate chips (or any flavor chocolate chips that you like!)

Stir flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Blend in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover and refrigerate dough for at least three hours or overnight.  Shape into large balls (around two tablespoons) and place on parchment paper on air-bake cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees approximately 14 minutes or until light brown and center is just set.  Let rest on baking sheet several minutes before removing to wire rack to cool.

Megan's notes:  The original recipe called for 6 ounces of milk chocolate chips, but I really like dark chocolate.  Nestle makes a dark chocolate chip that is a little bigger, and I like the way it looks in this cookie.  I also upped the amount of chocolate chips because, as far as I'm concerned, you can never have too much chocolate!  I didn't include the salt because I think the peanut butter adds enough salty flavor. Lastly, the original recipe did not call for chilling.  However, I had just gotten some size medium Pampered Chef cookie scoops, and I was itching to try them out.  I knew that in order to keep the cookies from spreading all over, I would need to chill the dough first.  For a smaller cookie, scoop out rounded tablespoons and place on cookie sheet.  Reduce baking time to 10 - 12 minutes.

Looking for other great peanut butter and chocolate recipes?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheerio Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Double Peanut Butter Brownies

Monday, June 3, 2013

Anna's Fifth Birthday

I can't believe that Anna is five already!  I know I say it every year, but where does the time go?  Somehow, when they hit five, they seem so much older than four.  I mean, it's going to be time for kindergarten!

For this cake, I made the inside to look like zebra stripes.  You can find the tutorial here.  Then I simply frosted it with white buttercream frosting and put zebra-striped sugar paper around the sides.  (You can find sugar paper at Walmart.  I used my rotary cutter and ruler to cut it instead of buying the fancy tools in the cake aisle.  Then I used a glass as a template to cut a circle for the top of the cake.)  I piped on some pink stars and added a happy birthday wish, and I was done.  It only took my an hour to put together that morning!  I had used the extra batter from making to cakes to bake up a few cupcakes, so I iced those with pink frosting and used the leftover sugar paper to decorate them.

Best of all, Anna really liked it!

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

I was a little nervous about what the cake would look like on the inside, but it turned out great!

On a final note, one of her favorite presents was a set of high-heeled princess dress-up shoes from Grandpa and Grandma.  We were glad that they bought the pack of three--Anna was happy to share her extra pairs with cousin Aria and sister Lyla!

After all, when it comes down to it, it's all about the shoes!

Anna's Par-tea

When I asked Anna what she would like to do to help celebrate her fifth birthday, she said that she wanted a tea party.  So, once school was out for the summer, that is what we did!  Though it's not my strong suit, I actually managed to do some decorating!  I found some great free printables online.  I used the banner and place cards for our guests.  You can find them here.  I also made some tissue paper flowers.  I was trying to figure out how to hang them without putting pushpins in our ceiling.  My husband and I came up with the idea of hanging them from the ceiling fan blades.

I got out my good china and everything!

When the girls arrived at 10:00 that morning, they all went downstairs to decorate foam crowns.  (I found them at Walmart in the kids' crafts section.)

Then we came upstairs for tea!

I've served my girls tea before.  I've put ice cubes in it so it won't be too hot and put in lots of honey--they still don't really like it.  So I decided instead to simply serve some punch in their tea cups.  I found a really easy recipe on Pinterest--equal parts Sprite and pink lemonade with raspberry sherbet.  It turned out to be a really pretty shade of pink, which pleased the girls from the beginning.  It was also really tasty; I think Anna had four cups of it!  Click here for recipe.

Somehow in my excitement I forgot to take a complete picture of the food table.  Here is a rundown of the menu.  Suffice it to say, since I have been enthralled with cake pops recently, many of the treats were on a stick:

1.  Cake pops
2.  Marshmallow pops
3.  Oreo Rice Krispie Treat Pops
4. Lindt variety pack of chocolate truffles
5.  Cheese and crackers (I tried to get a little something in them besides pure sugar!)
6.  Bisquick No-Roll Sugar Cookies (rolled in pink sugar, of course!)
7.  Cupcake Bites

Needless to say, we had plenty of food!  If I do this again, I think two of the homemade treats would be sufficient.

For the Rice Krispie Treat Pops, I made this recipe and cut the bars into small squares.  I dipped a lollipop stick into melted candy coating and stuck it into the bottom of each treat.  I had to use my hands some to mold it around the stick and make sure it would stay in place.  Then I drizzled them with melted chocolate and pink candy coating.

For the marshmallow pops, I dipped a lollipop sticks in candy coating and placed it about 1/2 inch into the bottom of marshmallows and allowed the candy coating to harden.  Then I placed the marshmallows in the freezer.  I dipped them into pink candy coating and immediately shook sprinkles on them.  They were super easy to make and were probably the girls' favorite treat.

After stuffing them with sugar, I had the girls go back downstairs to color their own tea sets.  You can download the coloring page here.  The girls had a really great time coloring; I was surprised at how long they stuck with it.

Anna, my budding artist, had a particularly good time with her page.  She even went back a few days later to put some final details on it!

At the end of the day, my little girl felt pretty special, and that's what I was going for!

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