Monday, April 30, 2012

Beach House

Hi and welcome to the week ahead.  I'm always so focused on getting to the weekend I thought I'd try to shake things up and look forward to the week.....It's not really working so far, lol!

My brother, Brian, got married last weekend in Hawaii and, while I wasn't able to go, my family kept my posted with texts and pictures.  Brian and Lan had quite a few family member flying into Hawaii so rather than finding hotel rooms for everyone, they rented a beach house on the North Shore with enough bedrooms for everyone and a private beach for the ceremony. 

They had the house for an entire week so they were able to enjoy hanging with family, beach time and sightseeing for those that hadn't been there before. 

The house has amazing ocean views so I thought it deserved its own layout! 

I used patterned paper and embellishments from Basic Grey.

Enjoy the ocean views!


Friday, April 27, 2012

The Joy Is In The Journey

Hi, how's your week going?  I have a few pictures from a trip my parents took to Maine and on into Canada in the summer of 2010.  They loaded up the RV and met up with their friends to explore Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

 They love to travel and see the country so this is the perfect title. 

Patterned papers are from We R Memory Keepers Travel Light collection. 

Thanks for spending a little time with me

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chocolate Chip Brownies

Hey there!  Welcome to Adventures In Baking.  Let's jump right into the baking...this weeks treat is a double delight, brownie and cookie.  I found this recipe here at Tasty Kitchen. 

The ingredients.  Brownie and chocolate chip cookie goodness and a layer of Oreos. 

Let's get started.  The brownie layer.  In a sauce pan, melt the butter.  Add sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted.  Whisk to combine and remove from heat.  Add salt, vanilla and eggs and whisk continuously until the eggs are combined.  Add the flour and continue mixing.  Set pan aside.  It's thick, but not as thick as a box brownie mix and with all the butter that was melted in the beginning, nothing sticks to the pan!

Next step.  The cookie dough layer.  Cream together butter and sugars.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Set dough aside.  I'm starting to see what all the fuss is about raw cookie dough.  I could eat an entire spoonful of this cookie dough......yum. 

Final step.  Assembly.  Layer half the cookie dough on the bottom of the baking pan pressing down to form the bottom layer. 

Layer as many Oreos as you can on top of the cookie dough.  No need to overlap.

Pour the brownie batter on top of the Oreos and spread evenly. 

Taste test.  An unusual brownie.  The directions said to bake for 30-35 minutes.  It took 75 minutes to get a sold brownie.  I was afraid I was going to ruin the cookie layer it took so long to bake the brownie.  The corner pieces are a little crunchy, but overall it's a good balance.  The Oreo layer seems unnecessary.  I shared the brownies and they were enjoyed with big glasses of milk. 

The clean-up.  The bonus with this recipe is that in addition to a nice pan of brownies, you have enough left over cookie dough to make 2 dozen cookies!

On the next episode ....... I'm taking suggestions.  My aunt has been sending me cookie recipes, but I can't seem to narrow it down.  Do you have a favorite cookie?  What flavors do you like?  Do you like to try new things or are you partial to the classics?  Let me know....

See ya back here soon

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bright Eyes

Hi and thanks for stopping by.  I found these studio pictures from when I was a little tyke and thought they'd make a cute little layout.  My 15 month old self appears to be hamming it up, but the hair....thank goodness it grew out!

The patterned  papers are from Lily Bee Design's This and That collection. 
See ya back here soon

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Toffee Chip Snickerdoodles

Good Evening!  My weekend is winding down and I'm mentally preparing for the week ahead but wanted to get this extra episode of Adventures In Baking posted.  Easter weekend I made a trip south to visit my family and splurged by trying out two new cookie recipes. This is the second cookie, Toffee Chip Snickerdoodles.....doesn't that sound good.  I found the recipe here at Recipe Girl. 

The ingredients.  Classic snickerdoodle recipe, so bring on the cream of tarter.    

Let's get started.  Sift together flour, cream of tarter, baking soda and salt.  In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. 

Next step.  Beat butter and sugar until blended.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat again.  Add flour and mix just until incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips and toffee pieces. 

Final step.  Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll it in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Place cookies 3 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Bake 16 minutes.

Taste test.  Very crispy.  They sure do spread out during baking.  They taste fine, but nothing like a snickerdoodle.  After baking the first batch for 16 minutes, I reduced the time to 14 minutes hoping for a little chewy with the crispy.  The recipe made 38 cookies, but by only baking them 6 at a time it took an hour and a half just to bake them!

On the next episode of Adventures In Baking ...... Brownies!

Till then



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hummingbird Cake

Hi ya'll and welcome back to Adventures In Baking.  I know I ended the last baking post mentioning pie and fruit, but I just wasn't feelin' it.  I do want to make a pie for the simple experience of making a pie.  But I don't like pie.  So none of the recipes sounded remotely good.  I did find quite a few strawberry pies.  And I like strawberries.  So that's my goal for sometime in the future.  After the cookie abundance last week and the chocolate overload from those yummy chocolate cupcakes a couple weeks ago, I decided to try this recipe from Bake or Break.  It's called Hummingbird Cake (although I keep calling it Whippoorwill Cake).  It isn't intentional, I just keep getting the birds mixed up!  Have you ever heard of Whippoorwill  Hummingbird Cake?  I hadn't heard of it, but with my limited dessert knowledge that shouldn't surprise anyone.  I was a little curious about the origin so I did a little research.  Apparently no one knows why it's named after a Whi Hummingbird, but according to Southern Living magazine, it's the most searched recipe in history. 

The ingredients.  Lots of ingredients.  Odd combination.  You've got your staples such as flour, sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla.  You've got your bananas and pineapple.  And you've got your extras: pecans, cinnamon, cream cheese and milk?   What a combination.

Let's get started.   Easy enough ... Sprinkle pecans in bottom of pan.  This cake is off to a good start already!  Pecans=Yes, please

Next step.  Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Stir in eggs, bananas, pineapple, oil and vanilla.  Stir just until moistened and pour evenly into pan.  As you can see, the above photo is a spoon.  This is a special spoon.  This spoon has traveled many miles.  This is my go-to spoon for all stirring assignments.  I have other spoons.  But I always choose this one.   When I first moved out on my own.  REALLY on my own, not just in a dorm on my own, I moved two states and five hours away.  I had my new dishes, pots and pans, glassware and silverware.  I had teaspoons and slotted spoons and 'big' spoons.  But I couldn't find a 'big' spoon that felt right.  The weight was off.  The way it fit in my hand wasn't good.  My first on-my-own Christmas you know what I asked for?  Yep, a spoon.  Let me repeat.... A SPOON.  But not just any spoon.  I asked for the spoon that I grew up with from my mom's silverware.  I got a spoon for Christmas!  I was sooooo happy and still am.  Heck, I've just written an entire paragraph about a spoon!  It's the little things in life.....

Final step.  Bake and cool.  Isn't it pretty?  Nice color. 

Frosting.  Beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth and pourable.  Pour over cake and sprinkle pecans over top.  It looks like a gigantic donut.

Taste test.  Maybe I do like cake.  I'd give this an A, but I could do without the bananas.  Between the banana muffins and this I can safely say I'm not a fan of mushed bananas.  I like bananas in fruit salad.  And taffy.  Banana flavor that is.  In the taffy. 

On the next episode...... I've been sitting on a brownie recipe and I think it's time to break it out. 

Extra, Extra!  I've been a tad neglectful of the ol' blog-o postings lately, but now that tax season (and all the over-time that comes with it) is winding down maybe I can get a few more things completed and posted.  As a little extra, I'll be posting the second cookie from last weeks cookie-fest in the next few days so stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by


Saturday, April 14, 2012


Hi!  Just stopping by to share another birthday layout with ya.  These are from my Eighth birthday party with my family.  Looks like I hit the jackpot with a new bike and a roller skate case with my name painted on it......Remember, it was the 70's!

The patterned papers are from Fancy Pants It's The Little Things line. 

See ya back here soon

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

S'mores Cookies

Hello and welcome to Wednesday!  This week in Adventures In Baking we took a road trip.  For the holiday weekend, I went to visit my parents in Southern Illinois and my Dad requested I make a cookie.  I ended up making TWO types of cookies and am sharing the S'mores cookie today.  I found the recipe here at Kevin & Amanda.

The ingredients.  My Mom had most of the basics I needed, but I brought the mini-chocolate chips, graham crackers and Mallow Bits. 

Let's get started.  This recipe is super easy.  Cream together the butter and sugars (white and brown).  Add egg and vanilla and beat some more.

Next step.  Crush 7 graham crackers into fine crumbs.  In a separate bowl, mix together crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt.  Slowly add dry ingredients to creamed mixture just until dough forms.  Add the chocolate and marshmallows and stir to combine.

Final step.  Scoop onto cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes.

Taste test.  I think I liked these cookies more than my mom and dad.  I LOVE the graham cracker dough.  The dough is very dry so the cookies didn't expand hardly at all.  I could do without the mallow bits, you can't really taste them and I think they made the dough more difficult to stick together.  The recipe makes a very manageable two dozen cookies. 

Next time on Adventures In Baking.....we're back in Springfield and I'm thinking about making a pie!  I don't know what kind yet, but it will involve fruit.  Stay tuned.

Till then,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pretty N Pink

Hi!  How's your day going?  Thanks for stopping by to check out what I've been up to.  I'm still going through the great big tub of photos my mom  gave me last year.  I have most of them separated by year and have been working on finishing up the birthdays but I kept going back to these pics of me in my little pink dress.   The patterned papers and polka dot banner are from Pink Paislee's Hometown Summer. 

Have a great day!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Training

Hello and welcome to Baseball Season!!  This is a happy time around my house.  We are huge St Louis Cardinals fans and can't wait to see what this season brings.   The Cardinals have Spring Training camp in Jupiter, Florida and my parents try to catch a few games each year. 

I used patterned papers from Jillibean Soup's Watermelon Gazpacho Soup collection.

Play Ball!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

Hello and welcome to Adventures In Baking!  Blueberry Muffins.   Is there a more perfect muffin out there?  I think not.  I've tried my fair share of blueberry muffins but I have yet to find one that compares to the muffins at the Student Center where I went to college.  On the days when I had the dreaded 8am class (seriously, what was I thinking!) I'd detour through the Student Center to grab a blueberry muffin and a carton of OJ.  They stand out in my mind for several reasons, the first being that they were close to twice the size of a normal muffin.  The second thing I remember about them is that they were warm and moist but didn't fall apart so you could eat one while hurrying to class.  But the most memorable aspect of the blueberry muffin was the crumble on top.  I don't know what was in that thing (probably a whole lotta butter and sugar), but it was yummy!   I'd eat the bottom half first and save the best (the top half) for last.  I knew I wanted to try my hand at blueberry muffins this week and was excited to find a recipe here on Baked Perfection.

The ingredients.  The sour cream surprised me.  As I was grabbing ingredients for the pic, I paused and thought 'huh, no eggs in this recipe?'  And then I checked the recipe.  Nope, no eggs.  OK, whatever.  Took the picture and moved on.

Let's get started.  Mix together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Little bit of a side note:  After my first couple of baking adventures, I've been pretty good about reading the directions and not making too much of a mess.  But today.....oh, today.....I have digressed.  This first direction is simple enough.....Mix the four ingredients.  For some reason, rather than using a spoon I decided to use a whisk.  Not just any whisk.  This is my Le Creuset whisk.  Ooh la la....fancy.  And awkward.  The handle is heavier than the whisk end.  So I gave the flour a good little whisk and left it in the bowl to grab the camera.  The whisk did a back flip right out of the bowl and took a little bit of flour mixture with it.  Not a lot, but enough. 

Next step.  In another bowl, beat together eggs, white sugar and brown sugar.  Eggs?  What the.... Yep, right there in the ingredient list.  First item.  Two eggs.  At this point I'm not sure if I feel stupid for not being able to read or smart for *knowing* there should have been eggs in the recipe back when I was pulling all the ingredients together...... Which is why I double checked the recipe.  And didn't see them listed on the first line.  And we're back to stupid.  Maybe I need to get my eyes checked, lol!

And then.  Mix in oil, vanilla and sour cream.  Mix dry ingredients into wet mixture, but don't over-mix.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Messed this part up also.  In the ingredients list it says 'blueberries dusted in flour'.  The flour keeps them from sinking to the bottom.  Do those blueberries in the picture look like they're dusted in flour?  No?  You would be correct.  Little bit of flour dusting the inside of the bowl, but not a speck on the blueberries.  Scoop batter into muffin tin until cups are 2/3 full.

Final step.  Mix together sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon.  Mix with fork (which was taking entirely too long so I just used my hands) and sprinkle over muffins before baking.  I narrowly averted disaster here as well.  I put the pan in the oven and started making the crumble.  For some reason I thought the crumble went on after they came out of the oven.  After only a couple of minutes, I pulled those babies out of the oven, added the crumble topping and baked for 20 minutes.

Taste test.  They smell good.  They look good.  They taste.....well, they're not bad ..... but they don't have much taste.  Nice texture.  Good crumble.  The blueberries didn't all sink to the bottom, so yeah on that part!  It may just be the out of season blueberries. 

The clean up.  This recipe yielded 12 muffins.  I think I'm done with the muffins and breads category when there are so many other exciting options in the world.

On the next episode of Adventures In Baking......We're taking this show on the road!  I'm heading home for Easter weekend and my dad has requested a cookie.  Nothing more specific, just a cookie.   What can I come up with?   Check back next Wednesday to find out!

Till next week