Saturday, August 31, 2013

Halloween Advent Calendar

I love love LOVE Halloween.

It's kind of an obsession of mine. But not in a creepy, blood, guts and gore kind of way. I love hokey Halloween. Cute ghosts, goofy pumpkin faces...
And Disney movies (say what almost 30 year old!?) I know, I know... But I could watch Hocus Pocus and Halloween Town on repeat year round. I don't though, I promise... (shh, yes I do...)

Every August, after my Birthday, I treat myself to a Halloween baking magazine. It's my guilty pleasure.

So I hope to pass on fun Halloween traditions to my boys, like this cute Halloween advent calendar!

It's so easy, and all of the supplies cost me less than $10! The best part? It is really easy to swap out for Christmas.

I started with the 7th of October, as to not purchase 2 muffin tins but the 24 slots will be perfect for the 1st-24th of December!

This calendar is easy to pull together and even EASIER if you have helpers (thank you Cousin/sister!)

Wanna know how to make it? Great!

Here's what you will need:

  • 24 count mini muffin tin
  • Magnets (I used Avery business magnet sheets, found here)
  • Various Halloween and number stickers
  • Halloween scrapbook paper
  • Scissors and scrap booking glue
Start by cutting out your magnet sheets, in a circle shape just a little larger than the muffin tin. 

Cut your scrapbook paper the same size and glue onto the back (paper side) of the magnet. The great part about using the Avery magnets is one side is magnetic and one is paper, this makes for easy adhesion.

This paper worked out perfectly since it already had the "12" in place! Add a decorative sticker, jewels, ribbon, or accent of your choice... And place magnetic end down on to your muffin tin!

(see how well it sticks!?)

Continue doing this with various scrapbook paper designs, stickers, and number stickers! Really use your creativity here, until all 24 slots are filled!

When the day comes, fill the tin with your desired candy or treat of choice (candy corn, small candies, or Halloween toys and stickers are great!) The finished product will look something like this:

This calendar makes for a totally fun way to countdown to Trick or Treating! Another great idea would be to fill the slots with activities such as, "take a hayride" or "carve pumpkins!"
Kids will love this fun interactive calendar as well!
Enjoy and have fun counting down to the haunting season!

Sorry to post this so early, I just looooove Halloween and luckily, so does my little guy!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bacon & Fig Jam

This jam is too legit to quit.


It's smokey and rich and a little tart from the figs... It really reminds me of apple butter.

I'm fantasizing about spreading this on thick country bread, sandwiching brie and pears inside, and making an out-of-this-world panini.

It would also make a great gift for the upcoming holidays.

Wanna know how to make it?

For the jam:
(makes a pint and a half)

3 slices of bacon, cut in 1/2 inch pieces and cooked until crisp
2 Tablespoons bacon grease, reserved from the cooked bacon
1 3/4 pounds fresh black figs, washed, stems removed, and cut in quarters
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Cook the bacon until crisp, remove and place on a paper towel lined plate and reserve the 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease.
In a large saucepan, add figs, white sugar, brown sugar, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, water, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Stir together to combine. Turn heat to medium and add in the reserved bacon grease and cooked bacon.
Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat down to low to simmer. Cook mixture, uncovered, for 45 minutes making sure to stir constantly so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Turn heat off and either puree mixture with a stick blender, or carefully transfer to a standing blender or food processor. Blend until completely smooth and pour mixture back into the saucepan.

Turn heat to low and gently simmer jam for 10-15 minutes longer. You want the jam to be a thick consistency (remember, it will thicken up more as it cools).
Immediately transfer the hot jam into your canning jars, the heat is what helps it to seal.
Allow the jam to sit, covered, at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Once the seal has popped, place jam in the fridge. It will keep for 3-4 weeks!

*recipe adapted from Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

... Or the longest named cookie in the history of all cookies.

I'm sorry. I had to. I just lurve pumpkin (ermahgerd!!). These cookies are so soft, but not too sweet. And the cream cheese frosting is well, creamy, and heavenly, and pairs perfectly with the cookies.

By the way, I'm officially declaring that the end of August is pumpkin season. If you don't like it, tough.

Just kidding... Please don't leave my blog! :(

Now, let's make some cookies, shall we?

For the Cookies:
(makes 12 large cookies)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

For Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
2 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda/powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the pumpkin, egg and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.
Mix in the dry ingredients, in 2 parts as not to antique your kitchen, until completely combined and the dough is formed.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and drop the dough by 2 Tablespoon sized scoops onto the prepared sheet. Flatten the tops slightly.
Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven or until puffed and lightly golden.
Place on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, prepare your frosting.
Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and beat until thick (add more or less powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency).
Add in vanilla and cinnamon.
Take the cooled cookies and smear frosting over the tops with a knife or offset spatula.

Enjoy these spicy, slightly sweet cookies. The cinnamon in the frosting pairs so well with the cream cheese.
Plus, these cookies whip up fairly quick so they would pair well as a dessert to any Fall meal.
Bring on pumpkin season!!!!

*recipe adapted from The Baker Chick

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oreo Cheesecake

Another birthday is fast approaching... ugh. Not that I don't love to celebrate (especially with Oreo cheesecake) but I am getting ever closer to the dreaded 3-0.

But 30 is the new 20 right? So I better start getting this body in shape to wear mini skirts and tube tops...

Oh, who am I kidding? I love desserts far too much. I've been having a hard time finding "mature" adult clothes that don't make me look like I'm older than 30, if you catch my drift.

All of these issues make me want to eat half of the cheesecake and never look back, oops...

Maybe I already did that...

For the Crust:
20 whole Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
3 packages cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 Oreos, chopped

For the Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the Oreo cookies into crumbs. Dump the crumbs into a medium bowl and pour the melted butter in. Stir until all of the cookies are saturated. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9" spring form pan and bake for 6 minutes just to set. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, just until incorporated. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla and fold in the chopped Oreos.
Pour the prepared batter onto the crust and bake in the preheated oven for 55-60 minutes. You want a slight wobble in the center of the cheesecake. Remove the cheesecake and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, place in the refrigerator to set for 6 hours or up to overnight.
Before serving, make the ganache.
Simmer the heavy cream over medium heat just until bubbles form around the edges. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over. Stir until smooth and shiny. Pour the ganache on the cooled cheesecake and spread in an even layer over the top.
Place back into the refrigerator to set up.
Serve the cheesecake slightly chilled.
Enjoy this delicious cheesecake with bursts of chocolaty Oreo cookies.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blueberry Italian Cream Sodas

Oh my gosh, I love Italian Cream Sodas.

Our local coffee shop makes amazing raspberry and strawberry ones, but at $4 a pop I knew I had to start making my own.

The food closet next door to my job gave away 2 baskets of blueberries and I knew I was going to make these.

The homemade syrup is super easy to whip up and blueberries can be substituted for any fruit, I'm actually going to make strawberry syrup for them in just a bit.

So I took a lot of photos for you because this recipe is ridiculously easy!

For the Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups blueberries

For the Cream Soda:
Blueberry syrup
Club Soda
Heavy Cream

In a saucepan, simmer the cup of water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add in the blueberries and boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, after the time is up, cook the blueberries for 10 more minutes. You want the berries to be mushy and the syrup to be dark.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer in a bowl or heat proof container, you want to keep the syrup but get rid of the blueberries, they did their job.
Cool completely and place in the fridge to cool the rest of the way.
Now... you wanna make cream sodas?
The amount of syrup, club soda and heavy cream will vary based on your preference. My blueberries weren't very sweet so I added a good amount of syrup to the soda.

Enjoy this bubbly, sweet, creamy drink! Trust me when I say this drink would be amazing using strawberries or raspberries! It tastes like bubbly blueberry ice cream... Hope you all try this today!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Arroz con Leche (rice pudding)

My dad always loved rice pudding. That, and butterscotch.

Although I am not the biggest fan of butterscotch pudding, rice pudding has become one of my favorites.

I love the creamy pudding base with little soft pieces of rice. Delicious.

Arroz con leche is probably the best way to make it too. Cinnamon sticks + sweetened condensed milk reveals a creamy, spicy flavor that takes you straight to the holidays...What more could you ask for?

For the Pudding:
(recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup long grain rice
1 large cinnamon stick
2 strips of lemon zest (use a peeler to get larger pieces)
dash of ground cloves
4 cups cold water
1 egg
3 cups milk
1 (12-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla

  1. Soak the rice, cinnamon stick, lemon zest and pinch of cloves in the 4 cups of water in a saucepan for 1 hour.
  2. After soaking, bring the mixture to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When the mixture starts to boil,  lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 10-12 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated.
  3. While the is cooking, beat the egg in a medium sized bowl. Add in the 3 cups of milk and stir to mix.
  4. Once the rice has finished, add in the egg/milk mixture, sweetened condensed milk, salt, and vanilla.Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture thickens to your desired consistency, about 15-25 minutes. *For a thick pudding, I found 17 minutes to be perfect.
  5. Take the pudding off of the heat and remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick. Transfer to a large bowl or heat proof container and let cool, uncovered, then chill the rest of the way in the refrigerator.

The pudding does most of its thickening as it cools so don't by fooled by removing semi-liquidy pudding.

Serve the pudding with a dash of cinnamon, or I even like a dash of non-traditional pumpkin pie spice!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Custard

Well, it seems Summer is coming to a close. The nights here have cooled down tremendously (in the 40's and 50's) and school is only a week away from starting!
I'm honestly really looking foward to Fall and the upcoming Holiday season but I know once they hit the rest of the year flies by.
So, I'm starting a half-new years resolution and devoting more time to my little blog. There has been so many blessings and changes in this new year it's hard to find time to devote to every one of them.
So here is to stop saying the words "hurry up" and loving and living each day to the fullest.
Now, how about some Strawberry Cheesecake frozen custard? Creamy, rich, and oh so delicious.
For the Base:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 ounces of softened cream cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup strawberry preserves
1/4 cup finely chopped strawberries
3-4 graham crackers, crushed
1-2 drops of red food coloring
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and heavy cream to a simmer (but not boiling) over medium heat. Remove from burner.
In a large heat proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and  cream cheese until fluffy and light in color.
Once the egg yolk mixture is combined, gradually pour in a little bit of the warm milk, whisking constantly to temper the egg. Return the mixture to the sauce pan with the rest of the warmed cream and heat over low until thickened. The mixture is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Pour mixture into your heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla and strawberry preserves. This is when you may add the red food coloring.
Cover the custard with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.
Transfer the chilled custard to your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers instructions. During the last 5 minutes of mixing, add in the crushed graham crackers and diced strawberries.
Transfer the custard to a freezer safe container and freezer for a few hours or up to overnight.
Serve and enjoy!
This custard is so creamy and very, very rich.
"You're pretty rich.."
Enjoy! :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cheesecake Dunkaroo Dip

Ah... The 90's, boy do I miss it.

All That.
L.A. Gear's.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Snap Bracelets.
Lisa Frank
The Spice Girls.
Saved By The Bell.

...And Dunkaroo Dip. Did anyone else wish the packages came with more frosting?
Sometimes, I would skimp on dunking the cookies just to lick the frosting. I obviously have no shame.

I decided to serve this dip with animal crackers, but it would be delicious with almost anything else! Graham crackers, apples, Ritz, your finger?

For the Dip:
8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup white cake mix
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons rainbow sprinkles

Extras for Dipping

Put the cream cheese in a medium sized bowl and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is light and fluffy.
Add the sour cream and vanilla to the cream cheese and mix until combined. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and cake mix to the bowl and beat until incorporated.
Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula,  and then gently fold in the sprinkles.
Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

This makes the perfect dessert for your summer BBQ's. Or a late afternoon snack with your trapper keeper. Just don't forget to feed your Tamagotchi!