Monday, February 20, 2012


Over the weekend I thought I would make some of these since it's Mardi Gras time-a holiday that I happen to know next to nothing about, other than it involves: beads, naked people, jazz music, large quantities of alcohol, and delicious food. I happen to have some knowledge of the food due to the fact I have visited New Orleans twice in the past few years. (By "New Orleans" I am here referring to "Disneyland"-where I have eaten at the following restaurants: The Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans, and my favorite: The Jazz Kitchen. Clearly, I am an expert.) 
If you've never tasted a beignet, they are kind of a mix between a doughnut and fry bread (or scones, if you live in Utah). The kids LOVE them, and the first time I made them Dylan said, "Hey! These are what Princess Tiana makes!" Obviously, we are looking into the gifted and talented program at her school.
This here, friends, is the very recipe from The Jazz Kitchen restaurant in Downtown Disney. Enjoy!

Makes 3 dozen

1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup shortening
oil for frying
powdered sugar for sprinkling

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water. Stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt, eggs and milk. Pour into blender and blend until smooth (I used my food processor and it worked great). Add 4 cups flour, blend until smooth. Add shortening and blend in remaining cups of flour until dough forms.
 Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. 
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick (you may want to do this in batches). Using a pizza roller, cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Let dough rest 20 minutes.
Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Fry the beignets in batches (I did 3 at a time in my big pot) until golden brown on each side-it only takes a couple minutes, so watch closely. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Frosting

Yesterday, I decided to make my children a Valentine treat. And by "my children" I mean "myself". I've made a few different recipes for Red Velvet Cake, and this is by far my favorite-dense, but not too dense; super moist; and not too tart (many recipes call for vinegar). 
The frosting is one of my very favorites from my More From Magnolia cookbook-and the same one I used for Dylan's 6th birthday cake. It's a great recipe for people who aren't big fans of frosting-it's creamy and fluffy without being too sweet.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 30 regular-sized
Source: (a copycat Sprinkles recipe)  

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 oz. red food coloring (the liquid-not the gel)
1 Tbl. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake pan with paper liners. 
Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. 
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add sour cream, buttermilk, food coloring and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture on low speed until combined. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 full.
Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting

6 Tbl. flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla  

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until mixture becomes thick and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and cover with wax paper directly on the surface. Cool to room temp, about 30 minutes. (I've tried to speed up this process by refrigerating it-you have to be really careful with this, because mine got a little too cold, and left lumps in the frosting.)
In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy-about 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy-another 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well.
Add the milk mixture, and continue to beat on medium speed for 5 minutes. The frosting will become noticeably more white in color.

A Last Minute Semi-Crafty Valentine Idea:

I am a highly creative and crafty in person, in that I copy the ideas of highly creative and crafty people. In this case, my neighbors the Brewers. 
The kids and I really like how they turned out, and it only took about an hour to cut out a few paper hearts, tape them to our back fence, take the pictures, add the words with photoshop, (if you didn't want to use photoshop, you could make a sign and use it in the background) and pick them up at Walmart. 


Monday, February 6, 2012

Baked Banana Oatmeal

I have recently taken up a weekly yoga class taught by one of my besties, Marci. It has been a highly beneficial activity to prepare my body once again for childbirth- and where I can, for 1 hour, focus with desperate concentration on not passing any gas (which I have in abundance at this time) in that oh so very, very quiet room. It has also been a special opportunity for Josh at home with the children to discover that it is, indeed, possible to happen upon a destroyed library book-and to then discover the guilty party with his entire body inside the guinea pig cage covered in shavings, EVEN THOUGH HE HAD TURNED A KID MOVIE ON.
Since I'm practically a health nut now (on Thursdays for several hours), I decided to try a baked oatmeal recipe. We all loved it- even Josh, who normally detests oatmeal. This is super hearty, and the little bit of streusel on top really makes it delish!

Baked Banana Oatmeal
Serves 6
source: adapted from

For the Oatmeal:
2 1/2 cups oats
2 1/2 cups water
3 Tbl. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbl. cinnamon
2-3 bananas

For the Topping:
2 Tbl. oats
2 Tbl. brown sugar
1 Tbl. flour
2 Tbl. butter, softened

Optional Serving Additions:
whip cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine first 5 ingredients for the oatmeal in a large mixing bowl. Slice the bananas, and fold into oatmeal. Pour the oatmeal into a casserole dish (I used an 11x7 baking pan).
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your topping: mix the oats, brown sugar, and flour. Using your fingers, add the softened butter. Mix until crumbly.
Remove oatmeal from the oven, and sprinkle on the topping. Bake an additional 30 minutes, or until topping begins to brown.
Serve with desired serving additions.
*If you would like to bake this the night before, refrigerate overnight-then heat in the oven at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

I can't tell you how much Guinea loves Carson....and that is because she doesn't.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I've been trying to come up with activities for my boys that do not involve: The Freshbeat Band, dumping the garbage down the stairs, destroying furniture, or conducting toilet-water parties in the bathroom. I saw a recipe for this slime on pinterest, and thought we could give it a try as a special science experiment-and they LOVED it. 
Here's what you need:

If you want opaque slime, use the white school glue. We happened to have the clear, and I thought it turned out cool. Borax is a laundry booster, and I found it with the laundry detergent at the grocery store for $5. You'll also need some water and some food coloring.

First, make two solutions:
Borax Solution: Mix 1 tsp. borax in 1 cup of hot water. Mix until borax stops dissolving. (The mixture will still be a little grainy at the bottom)
Glue solution: Mix 4 oz. container glue with 1 cup hot water. Add your food coloring (for our "radioactive" slime I mixed green and yellow food coloring)
Start adding the Borax Solution to the Glue Solution in small amounts. It will immediately start to gel. Mix with your hands as you add to get the desired texture. I used the entire Borax Solution, and our slime got quite thick.

Obviously, the slime is quite messy- but since it is made of washable glue and laundry detergent, it's an easy clean-up.

You can store the slime in a zip-lock bag, where it will stay nice and slimy for up to a week. I would not technically know this, since as soon as Josh came home from work he requested that it please be thrown directly into the garbage. (This may have due to the fact that I let Owen take the bag of slime to Dylan's room to "show her", and by the time Josh got home there were green particles in every room and surface of the house. Probably don't allow your children to do this.)

A pretty serious bath was required after our experiment, but a bubble bath is better than cleaning old soup off the basement stairs any day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles

We went to church yesterday. While it's important to us to go to church every week,  I would say there are places more "fun" to take small children. Children such as Little Carson David, age 22 months. I have included an account of a matter regarding Carson and church below the recipe, for those who would like to feel better about their own children. 

I made these for the church class I teach-a group of 8 11-year-olds, who are super fun because they are at an age when they appreciate treats. We get along very well, since I highly enjoy making treats for appreciative people.
The cream cheese made these super soft with a melt in your mouth texture that I just love in a snickerdoodle.

Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 package yellow cake mix
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
With electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the egg yolk and vanilla. Add the cake mix gradually.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon.
Form dough into 2 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat.
Place on an ungreased baking sheet, (I placed mine on the sheet as balls, and they stayed pretty round-if you want flatter cookies, press them down a little now) and bake 8-10 minutes.

An Account of the Joys of Bringing My Son Carson to Church:
Carson is different than my other children in that he does not hesitate to defend himself-even from children much larger than himself. If a child larger than Dylan or Owen were to snatch a toy from them, they would look hurt for a second or two, then find another toy. Carson will not only snatch the toy back, he will proceed to use the toy to beat the offender-thereby teaching them an important lesson about snatching toys. 

Carson is also the type of person who, upon seeing a baby with cute chunky cheeks-like many of us, gets the urge to just pinch those cheeks! And they're just so cute you want to eat them! Unfortunately, Carson takes these urges literally-with his fingernails and teeth. 

These three behaviors are not "ideal" behaviors for Carson's church class-a nursery of small children ages 18 months to 3 years. Since I teach a class of 11 year old's, Josh is thrilled to have the opportunity to police Carson in the nursery for 2 hours. Luckily, there was a big celebrity awards show-his FAVORITE thing- on TV last night, so he was able to relax and enjoy all the fashion and completely natural cleverly scripted celebrity banter with me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie Bars

I've been debating whether or not to post this recipe, because the number of steps are a little high-maintenance, and might be a deterrent for many of my busy friends and family. But I am here to tell you, friends and neighbors-it's completely worth it. I've made Ina Garten's peanut butter and jelly bars, and while they are quite delicious-these are a completely different level. And I can tell you that as an expert, because I have hidden them from my family and eaten the entire pan myself. The crust is a basic pie crust, pressed into the pan; you will be severely tempted to eat the peanut butter filling with a spoon; and the streusel on top has a perfect taste of cinnamon. 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie Bars
Makes 12 large bars, or 1 very large bar eaten with a fork from the pan over 3 days.
Source:, who got it from the second Baked Cookbook

For the Pastry Dough:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 egg
For the Peanut Butter Filling:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1¾ cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Crumb Topping:
¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar and have so far not been struck down)
2/3 cup traditional rolled oats
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
For Assembly:
2 cups jelly or preserves
1. Make the Pastry Dough: Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9×13-inch pan.  Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until sandy (about 6 to 10 quick pulses). In a small bowl, whisk the egg and pour into the food processor. Pulse just until the dough begins to hold together.
2. Dump the dough mixture into the prepared pan. Using your fingers, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and up the sides just a little (maybe a half inch). Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Remove the pan from the freezer, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it three-quarters full with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.
5. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
6. Make the Peanut Butter Filling: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again. Turn the mixture out onto the cooled crust and, using an offset spatula, spread it into an even layer. Put the pan in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the crumb topping.
7. Make the Crumb Topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the brown sugar and use your hands to rub it in until the mixture is uniform in color. Stir in the oats.
8. Place the dry mix in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and beat on low speed until loose crumbs form. (I did this step with a pastry cutter since I didn't want to wash my mixing bowl due to extreme laziness; you could probably also use your fingers to rub and mix the butter in)
9. Assemble the Bars: Spread the jelly in an even layer over the peanut butter filling. Sprinkle on the crumb topping, covering the jelly.
10. Bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, or until the top is brown.
11. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut the bars and serve.

A few things going on at our house:
  • Owen is, at long last, A Pet Owner

We have had a ton of fun with "Guinea" the guinea pig, and she has proved to be quite resilient by surviving more than a couple near-death encounters with Little Carson David.
  • Last night I had a for-real Dream Within a Dream where it was Incepted into my mind that if I did not renew my van registration (which may have been due in September), I was going to get a ticket for $500. I decided to go ahead and renew it today.

  • And here are a few of my favorite photos from my sister's wedding last month:

Coming out of the Draper, UT LDS Temple

My Baby Sister

My own Baby Girl...
Who will be The Bride before I know it...

And who will be getting her own Baby Sister
(Me in my hugeness at only halfway)

The Kidlets

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fluffs (Chocolate Covered Homemade Marshmallows)

In the fall of 1999, I was employed for a short time at Mrs. Cavanaugh's Chocolates store before I was fired for insubordination (ironically, not for eating approximately 1.5 lbs. of chocolate a night along with my coworker). It was a highly destinal (this is a word I just invented-you are free to use it) employment, causing me to become severely addicted to gourmet chocolate-which happens to be quite costly, and not at all figure-flattering.
Of the highly delicious chocolates to be had, one of my favorites was the Chocolate Fluff, or a double-dipped version- a Flip. The marshmallow inside was nothing like the marshmallows from the grocery store-it was fluffy, creamy, and moist.
I've always wanted to try homemade marshmallows, but I once read a recipe review where the cook said mixing the marshmallow cream caused to mixer to burn out-so I've been a little nervous. Most recipes call for beating the mixture for 20+ minutes, but the cinchy recipe I found has you mix for only 5, and it turned out great. Since the recipe sounds complicated by just reading it, and some of you may not have worked with gelatin before, I thought I would post some photos along with the instructions. It really is easy and uncomplicated-and the marshmallows really are 100 times better!

Serves 20-40, depending on the size you cut
Source: adapted from Baked-New Frontiers in Baking

2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin (a little less than 2 packets)
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup, divided
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I was worried the vanilla would discolor the marshmallows, but it doesn't.)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

1 lb. chocolate-milk, semi-sweet, or dark (I don't think chocolate chips would work as well in this recipe as baking chocolate-the added wax would make a more crunchy bite)

Optional toppings: toasted coconut, crushed candy cane, chopped nuts, coarse salt

Grease a 9x13 inch pan with vegetable shortening. In a small glass or metal bowl, pour 1/2 cup water, and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let the gelatin soften 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, pour in 1/2 cup of the corn syrup.

On your stovetop, set up two saucepans. In a small saucepan, fill half way with water, and heat over medium low heat. You want to get the water hot, but not boiling. In a medium saucepan, gently stir together the sugar, 1/2 cup of the corn syrup, and 1/2 cup of water. Put the the saucepan over medium-high heat and clip a candy thermometer to the side. You 'll heat this to soft-ball stage, 235-240 degrees. It will take a while-around 10 or 15 minutes. You don't need to stir it.

After your gelatin has softened for 10 minutes, place the bowl over/inside of the pan of hot water. Stir with a spatula as the gelatin melts to a smooth consistency.

 When the gelatin is smooth, pour it into the mixing bowl with the corn syrup. Turn on the mixer to a low speed, and keep it going while you wait for your sugar mixture to reach soft ball stage.

When your sugar mixture reaches 235-240 degrees, remove from the heat and take out your candy thermometer. Turn the mixer up to to medium speed for one minute, then slowly pour the hot sugar into the bowl. When all of the sugar mixture has been added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes. (I started mine out at a 5 speed in my kitchenaid, and I probably should have set it on speed 7-mine took a couple minutes longer than 5) The marshmallow mixture will turn white and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and turn the mixer up to its highest setting for another minute.
The mixture will turn from this.....
To this.

Working quickly, pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and let sit for 6 hours, or overnight.

After setting up overnight.

Another situation I discovered this morning: the kids had  begged and begged to have a "camp out" in our  extremely unpleasant basement-I had given it 2 hours, tops, but they slept the entire night like this.
Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan, and use your hands to pull the marshmallow (it will come out in one giant piece) out of the pan and onto a flat surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

Cut the marshmallows into desired sizes. If you just want some delicious plain marshmallows for hot chocolate or snacking, you'll want to roll the cut squares in some powdered sugar. They keep for a week in an air-tight container.
Owen made smaller squares, since he likes to cut things.

To coat in chocolate:
Prepare your toppings, if using.
Lay sheets of waxed paper over two baking sheets.
Chop the chocolate into chunks and heat on the stovetop over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.You will notice my fluffs are not a picture of beauty. They are a little lumpy, and this is due to the fact I don't know what I'm doing. But here's what I did: Drop the marshmallows one at a time into the pan; use a spatula to cover the marshmallow in chocolate; lift the marshmallow out with a couple of forks, and place on the baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with toppings. They will take a few hours to set up, depending on the temperature of your room.
Toasted coconut topping