Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger

My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow. She’ll be 12. The signs that she’s almost a teenager are everywhere.

The pile makeup in the bathroom.

The dings of her cell phone whenever a text arrives.

And her wish for a more grown-up-looking bedroom.

The newest hint happened last weekend. We were at Target, looking at shoes.

E: Mom, we wear the same size!

Me: Yes, we do.

E: Do you know what this means? More shoes!

Yes, she’s growing up.

Because this is the last year she’ll bring homemade birthday treats to school, we went all out and made 28 hamburger cupcakes. Walking down the hallway this morning with my cupcake containers filled with cupcakes, I had a taste (see what I did there?) of what it’s like to be a rock star.

It’s pretty awesome.

Happy birthday, Em!

HAMBURGER CUPCAKEShamburger cupcake

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix
  • 1 box Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake
  • White frosting (store-bought or homemade)
  • Red, yellow and green food coloring
  • Sesame seeds, optional
  • Decorative toothpick, optional

Grease and flour cupcake tins. Do not use cupcake liners! Fill the tins two-thirds full with batter and bake as directed in the recipes.

After cupcakes have cooled, slice the white cupcakes in half. Slice off tops of the chocolate cupcakes and set aside. (You will not need the bases of chocolate cupcakes, so you can munch on them or use them for another project.)

Separate the frosting equally into three mixing bowls. With food coloring, make one bowl of green, one bowl of yellow and one bowl of red frosting.

Place one white cupcake bottom on a flat surface for the hamburger bun bottom. Frost it with the yellow frosting (this can be either the mustard or the cheese), then add one chocolate top (rounded side up) on top of the bottom half of the bun to make the burger.

Spread red frosting on top of the chocolate for the ketchup.

Frost one of the white cupcake tops with green to make the lettuce. Place it on stop of the burger. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and add a toothpick, if desired.

Continue with the rest of the cupcakes. You should have 24 cupcakes, unless you make bigger cupcakes, like I do.

Recipe adapted from the Duncan Hines website (www.duncanhines.com)

Oh Snap(ple)!

Day 25: Frozen Green Apple Yogurt

It was probably not smart to make frozen green apple yogurt on the first real cold day of the month, but it looked yummy and I had a few Granny Smith apples that were going to go bad soon.

Breakfast tomorrow will be a little chilly.

FROZEN GREEN APPLE YOGURT

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • 3/4 cup finely grated unpeeled green apple (I ended up chopping mine because I couldn’t locate my peeler)
  • 16 ounces Greek-style yogurt

Stir honey and juice in a small saucepan over low heat until honey melts; cool syrup 5 minutes.

Combine honey mixture, apple and yogurt in 5 x 9 inch loaf pan. Cover with foil, freeze 3 hours or overnight.

Remove yogurt from freezer 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Quick & Easy Recipes With Just 4 Ingredients by ACP Magazines

Day 26: Apple, Brie and Turkey Panini

I received a Panini maker for a Christmas present a few years ago. I don’t use it that often (and yes, I hear about that all the time), but every time I do, I tell myself I need to get it out of the pantry more often. It’s easy, it’s fast – I love it!

A turkey, green apple and brie Panini is one of my favorite sandwiches. Today was a crazy-busy day, so it was the perfect sandwich for dinner.

APPLE, BRIE AND TURKEY PANINI

  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • 2 slices smoked turkey breast
  • ½ of a Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly
  • Thin slices of brie
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush both bread slices with olive oil. Arrange a thin layer of brie on both sides of the bread and then lightly brush with olive oil, and sprinkle freshly ground black pepper according to taste. Place a slice of turkey breast on each of the bread slices. Arrange slices of apple on one side of the bread. Top with the other slice of bread.

Heat Panini maker and lightly brush with leftover olive oil. Place the sandwich on the grill until done. Slice in half and serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of jinkzzkitchen.blogspot.com

Day 27: Apple Nachos

My daughter is having a Halloween party tonight. There are eight 11-year-old girls in our downstairs family room, but it sounds like 50 people, and a herd of buffalo, have taken over that part of our house.

And that was before they consumed sugar.

I love Halloween parties. I love the costumes and I love the food. In years past I have made blood-shot eyeballs (deviled eggs), caterpillar pizza (pizza bread), a Frankenstein’s bride cake and a pumpkin-brownie cheesecake.

My daughter gave me a list two pages long with food suggestions for her party. We narrowed it down considerably to include ghost pizza, boney breadsticks, a jack-o-lantern veggie tray, black cat cupcakes and apple nachos.

Don’t let the name fool you. Apple nachos may be less healthy than regular nachos.

Happy Halloween!

APPLE NACHOS

  • 4 large Granny Smith apples, sliced
  • 35 large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 35 caramels
  • 1 tablespoon evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet morsels

Slice apples and arrange on platter.

In a saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter until creamy. Set aside.

In a microwave dish, melt caramels with milk (cooking in 30 second intervals, and stirring). Set aside.

Pour marshmallow cream over apple slices, followed by caramel sauce. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home magazine

Happy Birthday, Man!

Last week was a heavy baking week.

Monday night I baked an Oreo Cream Cake to celebrate Oreo’s 100th birthday on March 6.

Tuesday night I baked Thin Mint cupcakes and strawberry cupcakes. I plan to make these for a friend’s baby shower on Sunday, but wanted to let her taste them first. (She’s in her third trimester. She deserves to have cupcakes for any old reason.)

Wednesday night I was waylaid by a headache and watched TV most of the night, so Thursday I had to make a celery cake for work (did you know March is National Celery Month?) and tie-dye cupcakes E to take to school for her birthday treats.

The celery cake wasn’t bad, but the tie-dye cupcakes were awesome!

TIE-DYE CUPCAKES

  • White cake mix, with eggs, oil, and water (or use a basic white cake recipe)
  • White frosting
  • Cupcake liners
  • Lots of bowls
  • Liquid food coloring
  • Sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake liners in cupcake pans.

Mix white cake accoding to instruction on the box, or your favorite recipe.

Divide cupcake batter into bowls (I used five for colors green, purple, blue, red and yellow) and add food coloring to each bowl. Stir well.

Spoon a dollop size amount of each colored batter into each cupcake liner and bake as the box or your recipe directs, usually 16 to 22 minutes.

Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting. Use sprinkles to add color and enjoy!

Happy National Pie Day!

I am all for celebrating the many food holidays out there, especially those surrounded by a flaky crust.

I contributed two kinds of pies to my work’s National Pie Day buffet. The Decadent Jif Peanut Butter Pie (so freaking good!) and mini apple pies, which I found on Pinterest last week. Yes, I finally did something with one of the items I pinned!

MINI APPLE PIES

  • Four prepared pie crusts (not those in an aluminum tin)
  • 8 cups of apple
  • 12 tbsp of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp chilled butter, cut into 24 pieces

Cut the apples into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, mix the apples with the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Unroll the pie dough. Using a circular lid (one from a mason jar works well), cut out 24 mini pie shells. Place them in two muffin pans.

Fill the pie shells with the apple mixture. Top each one with a piece of butter. Use remaining pie dough to cover the tops. They won’t be fully covered or look perfect, but that’s OK.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before removing from the muffin pans and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Little Bit Funky blog

It’s the Great Pumpkin

It has been established that my husband and I love pumpkin pie.

Love it.

Here’s the thing, though. Pumpkin is not a pie I’m comfortable ordering in restaurants. Most pumpkin pies produced in restaurants or grocery stores are too spicy — way too much cloves or ginger, or a combination of the two. I know I will be disappointed. If I’m going to pay $3 for a piece of pie, I get something I know I’ll like — apple, cherry, etc.

I made a pumpkin pie Sunday for my husband. It was his birthday and, like me, he’s not a big cake fan, so we had pie.

I love my recipe. It is the perfect blend of cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

Our daughter likes my recipe, too. We shouldn’t have encouraged her to try pumpkin pie ’cause now we have to share.

PUMPKIN PIE

  • Prepared pie shell (go ahead and use a frozen pie shell — I do!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly with wire whisk or hand beater. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar, the cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ginger, cloves, pumpkin and milk.

Place pastry-lined pie plate on a baking sheet to protect oven from spills. Pour pumpkin filling into pie plate and place in oven.

Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350. Bake about 45 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Place pie on cooling rack. Cool completely. I prefer my pie cold, so feel free to put it in the refrigerator 30 minutes after removing it from the oven.

Top with whipped cream.

Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook.*

* It should be noted that I bought this cookbook my junior year in college, making it the first cookbook I ever purchased. Some of the pages are stained, others stick together because of batter gone wild, and the binding looks like it will far apart any day now. I love it.

Feelin’ foolish

It was a quiet April’s Fool Day at our house this year. My kids jumped out and scared me a few times, but when you consider someone could tell me they are going to jump out and scare me then immediately do it and I still scream (I do — every time), then it’s not really a prank. I didn’t even play any food jokes on the kids this year because work has been BUSY!

Last year, though, was awesome. I did the classic meatloaf cupcakes. I made mini meatloaf in cupcake holders, then frosted them with mashed potatoes I dyed bright colors so the kids though they were having cupcakes for dinner.

They were not pleased after the first bite. The boy was really not pleased because he claims to hate meatloaf.

Family Fun magazine has the best ideas for food pranks. Here’s the meatloaf cupcake recipe: http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/colorful-cupcakes-686085/

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is Valentine’s Day, which means a lot of great candy goes on sale tomorrow. Here is my Top 10 list of Valentine’s Day treats:

10. Conversation hearts. It’s tradition.

9. Russell Stover’s Marshmallow Hearts. Especially after it has been in the freezer for an hour. Yum!

8. Hershey’s Chocolate. Period.

7. Hershey’s Kisses.

6. Gummy hearts.

5. Reese’s Heart-Shaped Peanut Butter Cups.

4. Kit-Kats.

3. Hershey’s Hugs. These are so good dipped in tea!

2. Russell Stover’s Marshmallow and Caramel Heart.

And the best Valentine’s treat in the whole world is …

1. Russell Stover’s Caramel Heart. I can’t even begin to guess how many of these I’ve eaten this month.

Happy Birthday Mr. President!

My friends Jennifer and Paul had their annual Abraham Lincoln birthday party last night.

Yes, it is an annual thing and yes, Lincoln beards are required, as is a birthday cake for the president with the correct number of candles for his birthday.

Last year the apple cake started on fire after the 201 candles were lit. We all admired it and then someone announced it was burning, so everyone quickly snapped pictures before blowing it out. It looked like a tie-dye cake after, given the wax that was on it, but it was still yummy.

Jennifer considered having the numbers 202 for this year’s cake, but then decided that was a cop-out and bought 200+ individual candles.

We found out last night that homemade whipped cream can catch on fire, too.

Before

During -- the candles on fire were crackling.

We started singing "Happy Birthday" as we were lighting the candles because setting the house on fire really kills a party.

After

Happy Birthday Mr. President. We’ll do it again next year!

Birthday swag

Transitioning to a new marketing demographic was not as painful as I thought is would be, considering the awesome kitchen gifts I received from friends and family.

There are so many cute kitchen things out there, but I — like most people I assume — rarely buy them. I go for the practical, not the whimsy.

But all rules fly on the window on your birthday.

First up we have some nesting dolls, right?

Nope. They are measuring cups. Technically, they were a Christmas present from my parents, but my birthday is close to the holidays, so it counts. I haven’t used them yet, but I have smiled at them sitting on my kitchen counter.

My lovely little sister and her husband gave me this — a miniature flower pot. The flowers are measuring spoons.

How adorable is that?

Last, but not least, my friend Jennifer gave me these: a boomerang spoon for food fights, Chimp Sticks (chopsticks for dummies), “French Toast” (a bread stamper) and teddy bear bag clips. It was such a surprise and I love them all.

 

Getting older is nothing to be worried about when you have great people in your life. Thank you everyone!

Champagne supercupcake in the sky

That’s what I had to listen to last night, thanks to my husband. I told him I was going to put it on my blog.

He sang another lyric.

I made cupcakes last night. Because I made cupcakes, I did not make dinner. My husband took the kids to McDonalds on their way to a 4-H meeting and I had a bowl of cereal.

Let’s focus on the cupcakes, shall we?

CUPCAKES! (If you do not have one of these awesome cupcake totes, buy one ASAP!)

Four dozen. With homemade frosting. Impressive, yes?

Why make cupcakes on a Thursday night? Well, the answer if twofold. First, it’s my birthday Saturday and you are supposed to bring treats to school work on your birthday. Also, today is my three-year anniversary at the newspaper. The only reason I remember that is because on my second day of work three years ago, my birthday, my parents had balloons delivered to the office.

Sweet, right?

No. One of them sang ‘Happy Birthday.’ Seriously. You tapped it and it sang. Tapping it again wouldn’t make it stop.

I made an impression on people.

So today is definitely a day to celebrate, which means pink champagne cupcakes, courtesy of Betty Crocker. Champagne is the ultimate drink of celebration, so why not put it in the food of celebration?

Champagne + cupcakes = total win.

The recipe is easy peasy. Yes, you use a box mix, but the frosting is made from scratch. And that little extra the champagne adds to the frosting? YUM!

Happiness is ... a bowl full of frosting.

Someday you will find me

Caught beneath the candles

In a champagne supercupcake in the sky