Monday, June 24, 2013

Carrot Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting and Fondant Carrot Tutorial

So my 2 youngest kids just had a Lalaloopsy Birthday Party. I made this cake...
which was 2 tiered, and therefore 2 different types of cake. My daughter is a typical 6 year old and requested vanilla/vanilla for her tier. My 5 year old son, however, is a boy after my own heart. He asked for carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Love that boy. After hours and hours of making this cake, I moved on to the cupcakes that I had made with the left over batter.
 
My Carrot Cake recipe originated here: Paula Deen's Grandma's Carrot Cake. Since I am allergic to recipes, I have changed it. I mean, don't we all like different things in food? Why not. But I just want to give credit where it's due....and this recipe gets killer reviews, you should check it out.
 
So, now let me tell you how to make these:
 

 
 
After you frost the cupcakes, you can take it another step and make some adorable little fondant carrots. I used some store-bought fondant that I colored with food coloring, but you can use home-made marshmallow fondant, or you could even do this with Starburst candies.
 
So lets start by gathering the supplies you will need...and it's nothing fancy...
 
Next, follow these simple steps...
 
Easy as pie....or should I say easy as cupcakes. What I love about cupcakes is how simple they are. You don't have to spend hours making detailed fondant decorations. Give yourself 30 minutes or less and you can have some super cute fondant decorations for any cupcake. The possibilities are endless.
 
Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you will check it out again soon!






Monday, June 17, 2013

Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup- Fast, Easy & Delicious!

So at my house, soup is one of our favorite go-to meals. It just so happens that soup is also better leftover....yes, I really said that. As a kid, I HATED leftovers. As an adult and busy mom of 3, leftovers are my best friend. We eat soup year round, and since my kids were all sick last week, I went for the standard chicken noodle soup. But I would like to just mention that this is a not-so-standard chicken noodle soup.
 



ROTISSERIE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP (huge batch)
1 rotisserie chicken- remove from bone and shred
2 onions- coarsely chopped
3 large carrots- coarsely chopped
1 large zucchini- coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic- finely chopped
3 boxes chicken stock (or broth)
1/2 box spaghetti noodles- broken into 2 inch pieces
2 cubes Saute Express butter blend
salt & pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. cajun seasoning
*more or less seasoning to taste

It starts with a 3 pound rotisserie chicken from Costco. Yep, the whole thing. I like to remove all the meat from the bone and coarsely shred it. (It's way easier to shred while warm, so if chicken has been refrigerated I like to put it on a baking sheet and warm through in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.)


Next, you are going to coarsely chop your onions, carrots and zucchini. (Sometimes I use celery or potatoes also.)




Now that your chicken and veggies are prepped, melt your Saute Express herb butter blend in a large soup pot and add you garlic, or grate it in. Saute garlic until fragrant, and add the rest of your veggies. Season with salt and pepper and saute your veggies until fork tender.

Add your chicken stock...and make sure the pot is only about 2/3 full at this point. Once the stock has come to a boil, add you broken spaghetti noodles. Boil for 8-10 minutes until noodles are cooked.


Lastly, add your shredded chicken and all your seasonings. I don't actually measure my seasonings, I just kind of eyeball it, taste it, and go from there. I also tend to be pretty heavy-handed with the seasoning but that's how I like it.

After you add your chicken and seasonings, let it come to a boil again. Once it reaches a boil, turn to low and it is ready to serve. Preferably with some kind of bread. Maybe Jalapeno Cheddar Artisan bread from Safeway.

 
I hope you enjoy my favorite Chicken Noodle Soup! If you would like to know more about the Cheesy Rolls, comment me. They're easy too, and delicious.
 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lalaloopsy Party Favors- Shrinky Dink Charms Tutorial!

My two youngest kids, Julia and Jackson, are not quite a year apart in age. They both have June birthdays, the 11th and the 22nd. They are actually the same age for 10 days every year! Call me lazy, but they have had a joint birthday party each year. It just makes sense. They are totally best friends, so it's not that hard to find a theme that they can both agree on. Last year it was Star Wars, which was somewhat of a compromise for my daughter. So this year, my son had to make the compromise. What did we choose? LALALOOPSY! Yes, a boy/girl Lalaloopsy party. A little bit of a stretch, but my son loves his sister, and he also loves Lalaloopsy.
Okay, on to the difficult task of making a Lalaloopsy party gender neutral. So naturally, I went to Pinterest. I found some cute ideas....Lalaloopsy Candy Tags and Lalaloopsy Frisbee Favors, both super cute, but I needed more. Even though Lalaloopsy makes boy dolls, most boys would find any doll too girly. And there will be boys like that at the party, starting with my oldest son. If you are not familiar with Lalaloopsy dolls, they all come with a pet, and the pets are not near as girly as the dolls. So I knew I wanted to incorporate the pets.
Now that brings me to.....Lalaloopsy Shrink Film Charms!
 
                          
 
 So lets start with the images you will need...

For the pets, I knew I’d need something to trace. So I found some coloring pages, that had a Lalaloopsy doll with their pet, I saved the image to my computer. Because I needed just a picture of the pet, I needed to get rid of the doll and make the pet bigger. So I called one of my nearest and dearest friends....PICMONKEY!
 
I went to Picmonkey and clicked edit photo. I chose a blank 5x7 I have saved to my computer. (Leave me a comment if you need help with this.)

Once I had my blank photo, I needed to resize it so it would be square (step 1). Now that I have a square, I need to add my Lalaloopsy picture that I saved to my computer (step 2 and step 3).
 


Now I have my picture, and since I only want the pet I need to make the overlay A LOT  bigger (step 4).


After you have the picture you want to use for your Shrink Film charm, save to your computer and print. I just opened mine in Windows Live Photo Gallery and printed as a 5x7. That way I was able to get 2 per page. The Shrink film is supposed to shrink to 20% of it's original size, so keep that in mind when choosing your size.

Next, you will need to gather your supplies (step 5), and lay you Shrink Film over your image (step 6).


After you get your image ready, start tracing....and tracing (step 7). Once you have your images traced, punch a hole and cut out the image leaving a 1/4 inch around the edge (step 8).
 
 
 
Now you can line your baking sheet with parchment paper and set your oven according to the instructions on your Shrink Film package. Lay your cut Shrink Film on your parchment and
bake (step 9). Remove from oven and let cool. Now you are ready to make your adorable charms into necklaces, bracelets, keychains, or whatever your heart desires (step 10).

 












Now you have your DIY Lalaloopsy party favors, that can be loved by boys and girls alike! And you didn't have to spend a fortune- I made 24 charms and spent less than $10.



You could really use this method to make party favors for any theme. Your only limit is your own imagination. It is also a great craft for kids. My 7 year old made himself a keychain with Bowser (from Mario) on it. Hope you try this out for your next kids party! Not only was it easy peasy, but also FUN!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Welcome to my brand new blog!

So...I finally did it! I took the plunge. I am a legit blogger. I have been reading dozens of my favorite blogs for a few years and wanting to start my own forever. Why did I wait so long, you ask? Honestly, I don't really know. Not sure how or where to begin, what to name it, blah blah blah. The usual excuses one uses to put something off indefinitely. But I finally went for it and that is what counts.
I think it only makes sense to start with an introduction. And let's pretend that someone who is not related to me will be reading this. Not likely, I know, but I did say pretend.
So lets start with my family. I have an awesome husband. We have been BFF's since we were 15. He is a great dad and an incredibly hard worker. He works A LOT, which sucks. But, it does allow me the time to do some things I really enjoy. Not to mention the budget. He does flooring, and the only reason I tell you that is because there may end up a being a "how-to" post on flooring at some point in the future. He would actually like to start a flooring blog but when you work 70-80 hours every week it's hard to find the time.
And then, there are my 3 kids. All SO different. James, my oldest, is 7. He loves school and is quite the artist. He loves Harry Potter, dinosaurs, Legos, and all things Mario. He has a more serious personality than my other kids, but he can get down on a good joke with the best of them.  My best (and only) daughter Julia is almost 6. She is a princess, or maybe a queen. All girl. She is so beautiful, but more importantly nice. She loves jewelry, fashion, Barbies and Lalaloopsy. Her best friend is her little brother. She is a parent's dream. Then we have the baby, Jackson, who is 5. HILARIOUS! Enough said. He would do just about anything to get a laugh. The more shocking and inappropriate the better. He is the most independent of my kids. And oddly enough, he likes to be called "baby" and never wants to be a grown up.
So I guess that leaves me. I never really considered myself to be crafty or artistic until recently. I have always liked to cook and bake, but that's about it.  A few years ago I decided I wanted to start cake decorating. So I looked at some blog tutorials and YouTube videos and gave it a shot. Turns out I had a knack for it. I did the same with sewing about 2 years ago, and although I am definitely no pro, I do alright. So now, any time there is something I want to do or try, I turn to the best teacher I know....the web. My goal for this blog is to post about things that I enjoy doing or making, and hope that you will enjoy reading it.
I am going to post a couple of my projects. Please forgive me for the crappy photo quality, most of them were last minute cell phone shots.
 
 
I hope you made it this far....I know it was a long one. I hope that I can get someone to read this regularly, and I hope it ends up being fun and interesting. Thanks for your time!
-Haley