Flag Cake Awesomeness

Dude.  Where’d the week-end go?  Holy cow.

I say “dude” way more than anyone of my age and education level should.

Dude. Have you seen that Flag Cake floating around on Pinterest? 

Yeah, I made it.

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And I watermarked that photo.  I don’t want anyone stealing my stuff.

It started out pretty decent.

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Pretty!

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We’re killing this flag cake thing.  Boo-yah.

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Uh oh. Should have greased that blue cake pan a little better.

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God bless America.

Where’d we go wrong?  We didn’t level the cake layers enough and the frosting was too runny. And we were trying to cook a delicious supper and didn’t give this cake our undivided attention.  It’s obviously a needy one. You win some.  You lose some.  Luckily the in-laws are good sports and laughed at us with us.

Part of the inside was pretty though!

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If you would like to attempt to make your own disaster, you can find some decent instructions at Glorious Treats.

Are you whipping up anything good for the ol’ 4th of July?  Any other great cakes I should attempt next?

Lemon Shake-Up

Who’s loving summer?  Yeah, me too!

Who thinks it’s been ridiculously hot.  Yeah, me too.

Who is always on the lookout for a refreshing drink that’s easy to make?  Yeah, me too.

Today I want to share with you one of Nate and I’s summer favorites.  The Lemon Shake-Up.

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I had not experienced the wonders of the Lemon Shake-Up until I met Nate.  That husband of mine is good for so many things.

Is your mouth watering now and you’re wondering how to make this delicious concoction? Well, you’re in luck.  I will share our super secret recipe with you. Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you. So good.  And very low calorie!

Here’s what you’ll need…

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Lemon Shake-Up Ingredients (1 serving):

  • 1/4 cup Splenda or sugar
  • 14 oz water
  • 1/2 lemon
  • ice

The secret ingredient is the water. Bahaha.

steps

1. Squeeze lemon juice into a container with a lid.  (You will be shaking it later.)  Use a utensil to muddle the lemon in the bottom of the container. Muddle is a fancy word for mush.  Nate taught me that.  It’s important to get all of that juicy goodness out.

2. Add water and ice.

3. Add Splenda (or sugar)

4. Shake!!  Make sure your lid is on tight!  Singing that “Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture” song is optional.

Shake!

5.  Check with the dog to make sure it’s ready.

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6. Enjoy!

Enjoy!

What’s your go-to summer drink?  Who’s sweating to death? Who else thinks muddle is a funny word?

Granola Bites

Nate and I recently thought we’d try this thing where we eat better. We don’t eat horrible.  We only eat junk food on the week-ends.  We do, however, eat an okay amount of packaged products.  We’re slowly transitioning to a more cleaner way of eating. 

We both like granola bars.  I eat a lot of them.  I decided to be a hippy and research making my own.  By making my own, I am aware of all of the ingredients in them. I like that.

I think I have finally perfected the art of granola bar making.  Well, I make bites. I like bit sized things.  They trick my brain into think I’m eating more.

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My food photography still amazes me.

These bites are so good that I will no longer buy granola bars.  I make these at least once a week.  It’s a slight obsession.

Want to make your own delicious from scratch granola bites? I knew you did.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 C. quick oats
  • 1/2 C. crisp rice cereal
    • I used Rice Krispies because I need to finish the box.  A less sugary option will be my next purchase.
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
    • You will probably want a little more if you are using a non-sugary rice cereal.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C. canola oil
  • 1/4-1/2 C. honey
    • This varies every time I make it.
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 C. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, raisins, M&Ms, whatever you like!

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350.  I always forget to preheat my oven. I wish my oven could read my mind.  That would be amazing.

Mix together all ingredients except for the chocolate chips.  You want the mixture to be well mixed.  The oats will start to clump a little.  If your mixture seems to dry, you can add more honey or oil.  I prefer adding more honey. It keeps the bites from being too greasy….like my hair currently.  Mmmm, appetizing.

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Once the oats are well mixed.  Add in the tasty stuff.  I’m a fan of Nestle’s Chunks.

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Grease a mini-muffin tin.  I use cooking spray. 

Scoop the mixture into the muffin tin.  I usually fill each one to the top using a cookie scoop.

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Bake in the oven for 13-14 minutes.  You want the tops to be lightly golden brown.  (If you cook the bites too long, they will be dry.  If you don’t cook them long enough, they will fall apart.  Honestly, they will taste delicious no matter what.)

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Seriously.  When is the Food Network going to hire me as their photographer?

Pop out the bites and store in an air tight container.  My bites don’t last long.  These things are so stinking good. 

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Any fellow hippies making their own granola out there?  Any other good granola recipes? 

Andes Mint Cupcakes

I was responsible for treat day last week.  I think all of my co-workers reminded me that it was my treat day.  Everyone loves treat day.  Everyone also knows that I’m absent minded.  (Like when I almost left these delicious cupcakes in the fridge on treat day.  Luckily, I ran back for a Diet Coke. Phew.)

I headed on over to my cupcake board and picked out a recipe for Andes Mint Cupcakes.

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Good choice.  Good choice.

You can find the recipe over at Your Cup of Cake.  I only wish I the skills to dream this stuff up.

I do want to share with you two of my favorite cupcake making weapons.

Weapon #1: Cupcake Batter Dispenser

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This thing is awesome.  I am the world’s messiest baker.  Filling the cupcake liners is a breeze with this guy.  I used it for all of the them except for the top right.  See the difference?

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Yes, it does look like Ike left a surprise in each liner but it shakes out. Trust me.

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Weapon #2: Pampered Chef's Easy Accent Decorator

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This little guy is super easy to use.  I’ve tried frosting bags before and they are always such a mess.  I just fill the tube with frosting using a spoon and squirt away.

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The kit comes with multiple tips for many decorating options and a lid.

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What are your favorite baking weapons?  Tried any delicious cupcake recipes lately?

Parmesan Crusted Steak

I never used to like fancy food.  Then Nate’s parents started taking us to fancy restaurants.  And now I like fancy food.  Darn those in-laws.

One of my favorite fancy foods is parmesan crusted steak.  Nate and I whipped this up at home for his mom on Mother’s Day.  And it was pretty much amazing.  And easy.  So easy that I could play sous chef successfully.  It’s that easy.

For four steaks, you will need:

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  • 2 sticks butter 
  • 1 cup Panko 
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan 
  • 1/4 parsley 
  • 1/2 TBSP Kosher salt 
  • 1/2 TBSP cracked black pepper 
  • 1/2 TBSP fresh minced garlic 
  • 1/2 TBSP Wocestershire

Mix all of the ingredients together until blended. 

Grill up some steaks to perfection.  (NY Strip would be the best but whatever kind of steak you have on hand will work just fine.  We used ribeyes.)

Make a patty out of the parmesan/butter mixture and place on top of the grilled steak.

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Turn your oven’s broiler on high and broil until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and eat up!

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We served ours with rabbit food and cheesy hash browns cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Holy cheese overload.

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Can you beat a fancy dinner that is super easy to make?  That’s right.  You can’t.

How do you like your steak?  Any delicious preparations that we should try?

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Mostaccioli Casserole Recipe

Be prepared to be amazed by my food photography….

Nate’s mom was kind enough to feed me about once a week during tax season.  I think she was secretly working with my mom.  They both worry about my lack of cooking skills.

Nate’s mom made this fantastic casserole last week.  It was so fantastic that I had to make it for Nate on Saturday night.  Well, he actually ended up making it…but I gave him the recipe.  Awesome Wife of the Year award, right here!

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Mostaccioli Casserole (modified from Taste of Home)

Ingredients

  • 1 package (16 ounces) mostaccioli
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped green pepper (I skipped this because it’s a vegetable.)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (We don’t chop onions.  We use onion powder.)
  • 1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted  (mmm, secret ingredient)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions

  • Cook mostaccioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, soup, Italian seasoning and pepper.
  • Drain mostaccioli. Add mostaccioli and 1-1/2 cups cheese to beef mixture. Transfer to two greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dishes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the remaining casserole at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese is melted.
  • To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Yield: 2 casseroles (6 servings each).
How sweet is that?  A casserole to eat and a casserole to freeze.  Bonus!!  Write that one on the pantry doors!

Mmmmm, casserole.
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Any favorite casserole recipes you would like to share?  Feel free to e-mail them or leave them in the comments!

Rainbow Birthday Cake

I did it.  I turned 30.  I was seriously dreading it.  Thirty.  So old.

My 30th birthday was actually quite fabulous.  I think I like being thirty.  Or at least that’s what I keep telling my old self.  Isn’t that would old people do?  Convince themselves that being older is actually better.

Rainbow birthday cake definitely helped the transition from being a twenty-something to a thirty something…

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I’m honestly not sure I could have done it without the cake.

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Want to make your own cake to ease into being another year older?  Of course you do.

Gather your ingredients.  Two boxes of white cake mix and gel food coloring. (The drops won’t work.)  Sprinkles are optional.  Wait.  Who am I kidding?  Sprinkles are never optional.

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Mix the cake mixes according to the directions on the box.

Divide the batter into 6 bowls (~1 1/2 cups in each).  Add ~1 teaspoon of gel food coloring to each.

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I was quite giddy at this point.  Look at how pretty that mess is!  And then I realized someone would need to wash all of those dishes.  Giddy fail.

Now it’s time to bake.  I only have 2 round cake pans so this was definitely a  time consuming cake.  Bake ~15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Words of wisdom from the ancient one:  Grease your pans VERY well…or this cake becomes a mess. (See purple and blue layer below.)  Use a knife to loosen the edges.  Let cool until you can touch the pan.  CAREFULLY flip onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Next it’s time for the frosting!  We used Nate’s mom’s secret frosting recipe.  Nate thinks I married him for his charming good looks and sense of humor.  It was actually for the frosting recipe.

Alternate cake and frosting.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t look super pretty.  It will still turn out just fine. 

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It helps to have a supervisor.

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Nate applied a skim coat of frosting to the outside and then let it sit in the fridge while we went out for a fancy supper at Noodles.  We returned and Nate applied the final layer…and sprinkles.

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And then we cut into it.

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Magical.

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Ike, of course, got in on the birthday action.  He was really more interested in eating the cake than having his picture taken.  He keeps mumbling something about an agent.

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I think thirty is going to be pretty awesome!

Bake a Rainbow Cake.  Learn how!
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Sunday AM Glazed Donut Muffins

Don’t you just love Sunday mornings?  Yes, I know it’s Wednesday but I want it to be Sunday so I am going to pretend it is.  Or should I just blame Leap Day?  It messes me up.  Leap Day is keeping 29 another day longer though.  Thank you, Leap Day.

Where was I going with this?  Oh yes, Sunday mornings.

This past Sunday morning was particularly lovely.  I woke early-ish.  I read a little.  Wasted time on the internet a little.  The sun was shining.  The dog was snuggly.  My stomach started to growl.  Nate kept sleeping.  My stomach started to growl more.  Nate was still sawing logs.

I decided to start breakfast without the accounting zombie.  I headed on over to my Nom Nom Breakfast Board and picked out Glazed Donut Muffins from My Baking Addiction

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Good pick!  These muffins were tasty and easy to make.  I followed the recipe exactly.  (You can find it here.)  I have a few suggestions if you would like to make these yourself.  The recipe stated to bake 15-17 minutes.  I baked for 15 minutes and that was too long.  The muffins were also a little dry..which could be due to over baking.  I might poke some holes in the top to let that delicious glaze settle on in and moisten things up.

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The recipe also states that they are best served warm.  Nate and I both preferred them later on in the afternoon.  Not that we ate more.

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Is it Sunday yet?  What’s your favorite morning of the week?  Any muffin recipes that I must try this Sunday?

No Good Very Bad Day Cupcakes

Have you ever had one of those days?  You know, where you get out of bed and put on your favorite grey sweater.  You are all warm, looking cute, and ready to conquer the day.  Ten minutes later you realize your favorite sweater has purple stains…probably from your second favorite sweater.

Whatever.  You can handle this.

You then put on another sweater that has a new giant hole.  Gee.  This is stinky.  You finally find a sweater that will work (but isn’t nearly as cute as you’d like).  Bring it.

You go to work and are immediately bombarded with a million and twelve different annoying things.  This isn’t any different than normal but on this particular day you just can’t handle it.  So you sob at work in the storage room for 10 minutes. And then you sob some more because you are mad at yourself for sobbing in the storage room.

The day continues in the manner.  It is a full moon.  You have a headache from fighting back tears.  You decide after lunch that once 5:00 PM hits the world will become a better place….because you will make cupcakes. 

Not just any cupcakes.   Death by Oreo Cupcakes.  Seems like a good way to go.

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Recipe adapted from Instructables

Death by Oreo Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 package Oreo Cookies, regular size
  • 1 package chocolate cake mix (mix according to directions on box)
    • I used Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Triple Chocolate.  I don’t mess around.
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    • I’d probably use less cream cheese next time.  Only because I don’t love cream cheese. It’s growing on me.  Slowly.
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
    • I used 4 cups…to cover up some of that cream cheese.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix packaged cake mix according to directions (do not bake).

Line cupcake tins with liner, place a regular size Oreo cookie in the bottom of each liner. (Yes, you read that right.  The Oreo at the bottom is a fun little surprise.)

Take 1/2 of remaining cookies and chop coarsely and add to cake mix. Fill the cupcake tins.

Bake for according to box directions.

Frosting: Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla, then add powdered sugar slowly until blended well. Chop remaining regular-sized Oreos very fine (The original recipe said food processor.  I placed them in a Ziploc bag and rolling pinned the heck out of them.  Worked like a charm.) Add to frosting.

After cupcakes have cooled, frost.

Eat them.  A lot of them.  The world suddenly becomes an amazing place again.

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Going to bed at 9:00PM doesn’t hurt either.

***Disclaimer.  As a medical professional, I don’t recommend feeding your emotions on a regular basis.  But sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do.***

What’s your go-to bad day vice?  Cupcakes?  Cookies?  Wine?  Apples?  Today is going to be much better.  I can feel it!

THE Best Pumpkin Bars

October around our house is the only time of year we make two recipes.  Chicken Enchiladas and Pumpkin Bars.  The enchiladas are Nate’s favorite meal and he always picks Pumpkin Bars to take to work for his birthday.

I will not be sharing the Chicken Enchilada recipe with you because it looks like barf and I dry heave while making it.  I made Nate his own special birthday enchiladas last night while I ate toast…to settle my stomach.  True story.  He told me they were so good that I should open my own Mexican restaurant.  Those of you who know me are dying laughing.  (I am the world’s pickiest eater and Mexican doesn’t make my list.  And I don’t cook.)  I think he was serious about them tasting good. 

I will, however, share with you our pumpkin bar recipe.  I know there are lots of pumpkin bar recipes out there but these are truly the best.  You can trust me.  I’m a pharmacist.  People trust pharmacists.  (P.S. Our food photography needs improvement.)

Pumpkin Bars and Frosting

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  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 16 oz can pumpkin
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt

Beat together in large bowl: eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until well blended.  In another bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until well mixed.  Add dry mixture to large bowl.  Mix well.  Pour into long ungreased cookie pan.  Bake at 350 degrees 23-30 minutes.

FROSTING (You know, the best part.  We usually double the following.):

  • 1 3 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Cream together cream cheese and butter.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Put on cooled pumpkin bars. 

Always keep in the fridge.  Can be frozen.

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?  Anyone else sacrifice their own well-being to cook for their dear husband?