Friday, November 30, 2012

Getting ready for Mixed!!

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This post will be short and sweet because I am getting ready to leave for Mixed, my first ever food bloggers conference and I am SOOOO excited!!  The conference is being held at the Mountain Lake Hotel right here in Virginia.  It's the resort where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. 

"Nobody puts baby in the corner" :)

Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes will be teaching us cake decorating!  Can you believe it!?!

I'll have lots of lot of photos to share, so be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Gotta run!

Oh yeah...they asked us to bring some cookies with us, so I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookie cups with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles.  Hope they like them!

Happy Friday!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

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I was brave and tried three new recipes for Thanksgiving.
Two of them are going to become a new Thanksgiving tradition in our house.
Mini pumpkin cheesecakes are one of them.
Bite size pumpkin goodness topped with piped whipped cream.
Cute, easy to make and delish!
What more could you ask for.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

I use this mini cheesecake pan to make my mini cheesecakes.

3/4 cup crushed graham crackers ( I crushed 6 crackers in my food processor)
1 T light brown sugar
1 1/2 T butter, melted
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup plus 1 T canned pure pumpkin
1 egg
2 T sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1 T flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare crust by combing crust ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix to combine with a fork.
Add one rounded tablespoon of moist crumbs into each mini cheesecake space.  Use a small bottle or Pampered Chef mini tart shaper to press down the crumbs to form a crust.

Prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese until smooth.  Add pumpkin, eggs, sour cream, sugar and spices.  Blend until combined.  Add flour and vanilla and beat until well combined.
Pour filling into prepared crusts, dividing amoung the 12 spaces. 

Bake mini cheesecakes for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for about 15-20 minutes.
Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Top with piped whipped cream.

Recipe from Glorious Treats

Friday, November 23, 2012

Firmoo Prescription Sunglasses Review

I spend a lot of time by our pool during the summer.
Hot summer days filled with family, friends and books are my fave!

This past summer my girlfriends listened to me complain ALOT that I couldn't see to read by the pool anymore. Either that or they witnessed me wearing reading glasses with my sunglasses over top of them.
It was not a pretty sight :)

So when Firmoo, an on-line prescription eyeglass company, contacted me a few weeks ago about trying out their prescription glasses and sunglasses I was all over it!

Firmoo is the most popular on-line eyeglasses store.  Vision and fashion the frugal way is the ultimate goal of Firmoo.  They are commited to providing customers with high quality and fashionable eyewear at affordable prices.

Firmoo offers free eyewear to first time buyers in order to give customers the opportunity to try their eyeglasses and service.  All you have to pay is the shipping - what a great deal! 

My sunglasses arrived in this pretty pink case.
It also contained a cleaning cloth, black cloth carrying case and an eyeglass repair kit.
I love the shape of the lenses. 
The frame color was not my first choice, but black was on back order so I decided to give the green a try.

I'm just happy to be able to sit outside in the sun and read again!
Now I'll be ready for all of my books and the pool next summer :)

Want your own free pair of glasses?
Click HERE to find out how to order yours.

Be sure to visit Firmoo on Twitter and Facebook too. 
They have over 500,000 Facebook fans - pretty impressive!

Thanks for my free glasses Firmoo :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cinnamon Applesauce Holiday Ornaments

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Recently while trying to organize some of my recipes, I ran across an oldie - cinnamon applesauce holiday ornaments. 

I first made these 10-15 years ago and can't believe I forgot all about them.
They make your house smell amazing while they are baking and the aroma continues all through the holidays when you hang them on your tree. They are super easy to make and would be a fun project with the kids.

All you need is applesauce, ground cinnamon and some ribbon, yarn or bakers twine to hang them.
I purchased the cinnamon and applesauce from the Dollar Store because it takes at lot of cinnamon.
The project only cost $3. 

Let's get started.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
Pour 1 cup of ground cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.
Add 1 cup of applesauce and stir....alot. 
Once that is combined add more cinnamon (1/2 cup).
I also added 1 T ground cloves, but that is optional.
Keep mixing and mixing and mixing. 
I rolled up my sleeves and started mixing with my hands.
You don't want the dough to be too wet or too dry. 
It takes awhile for it to all get mixed together, so don't get discouraged.
If you feel it is too wet add more cinnamon.  Too dry?  Add more applesauce.
I didn't need to add any additional.

Once you have it well mixed, sprinkle some cinnamon onto your counter top and then begin rolling out the dough.  I used mini hearts and star cookie cutters that were about 1 inch in size.

I wanted the edges on mine to be smooth, not like the ones pictured above, so I patted around the edges of each one before I placed them on the baking sheet.
Tedious I know, but I'm OCD like that :)

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
You don't need to space them too far apart from each other because the dough will not rise or expand.
Poke a hole through the dough for the string.
I used a plastic straw-like coffee stirer. 
Once they are all cut out and holes are punched, place them in the oven.
Bake for 1- 1/2 hours.  Turn off the oven and leave them in over night.
The next day they should be ready to use.

Use yarn, ribbon or bakers twine to hang them on your tree or to add a festive touch to a package.
This recipe made 104 mini ornaments.

Don't they look pretty!

Linking to:
33 Shades of Green
Seven Thirty Three
Serenity Now Weekend Bloggy Reading
Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap Up Party
I {heart} Naptime Sundae Scoop Link Party
Flamingo Toes

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Torani Flavored Syrups & Recipes

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It's cold outside and you know what that means.
It's warm and toasty flavored coffee and hot chocolate time!

I'm all about a coffee shop hot beverage every now and then, but it's also nice to be able to whip one up at home and enjoy it in your jammies :)
It's also a great way to impress your friends with your barista skills.

Torani flavored syrups let you do just that.
Torani is the #1 brand of flavored syrups in America, offering over 100 delicious flavors. 
They also make sugar-free versions too.

I received these two bottles to try and was super excited that Salted Caramel was one of them.
Salted Caramel hot chocolate is one of my favorite hot drinks.

I had no idea they offered flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough, toasted marshmallow and cupcake!
What a great way to add a little zip to cocktails, coffees, iced tea and lemonade.
I'm going to experiment using them in baked goods too.

Here are a few recipes to get get you started with Torani.
I think you will love them as much as I do.
I also received 5 coupons for $1 off any flavor of Torani syrups.
Let me know if you would like one and I will send one to the first 5 people that ask.
I'm nice like that :)

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

1-2 T Torani Salted Caramel Flavored Syrup
1 package of hot chocolate mix or make your own
Whipped Cream
Caramel Topping (optional)

In a large mug add boiling water or warm milk to your hot chocolate mix and stir.
Add 1-2 T Torani Salted Caramel Flavored Syrup, stirring to combine.
Top with whipped cream and caramel topping.
Enjoy your warm and toasty mug of happiness :)

Gingerbread Latte

1 T Torani Gingerbread Flavored Syrup
1-2 shots (1 oz) of very strong coffee
1 cup hot steamed milk
whipped cream
ground cinnamon or nutmeg

Make very strong coffee by using 4 T of coffee grounds to 1 cup of water in a french press or coffee maker.
Warm your milk in a pan on the stove until steaming.
Pour Torani Gingerbread Flavored Syrup into a coffee mug.  Add coffee and then the warm steamed milk.
Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg if desired.

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks and Torani.  All opinions are my own.

Follow Me and My Pink Mixer on Facebook, Twitter
and Instagram (meandmypinkmixer).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Peanut Butter Explosion Cookies

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I can't believe that in just a little over 2 weeks I will be leaving for Mixed!
Can you tell I'm excited!!!

Mixed has such fantastic corporate sponsors and OXO is one of them.
Cookies for Kids' Cancer was founded by two OXO employees inspired by their 2-year old son’s battle with cancer. The program provides inspiration, ideas and support for people everywhere to help fight pediatric cancer – through the simple concept of local bake sales.  This year OXO will donate up to $100,000 to support this wonderful cause.

Mixed is hosting a cookie bake-off and I hope to be one of the finalist with my Peanut Butter Explosion Cookie.  Peanut butter cookie topped with peanut butter glaze, chopped Reese cups and fudge drizzle - YUM!  Wish me luck :)

Peanut Butter Explosion Cookies

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 bag Reeses Miniatures, chopped
Hershey's Hot Fudge topping

Peanut Butter Glaze:
2 T butter
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 T milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat brown sugar, sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add peanut butter, vanilla, honey and eggs; mixing well.  Turn mixer to low and add flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix just until combined. 
Using a medium size (about 2 T) cookie scoop, drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used a Silpat mat).
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or just until golden brown.  Remove from cookie sheet onto a wire rack to cool. 

For peanut butter glaze - Melt butter and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar and milk. 

For fudge drizzle - Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of hot fudge sauce into a bowl and microwave for about 15-20 seconds.  Pour it into a Wilton plastic bottle with tip.  Let it cool for about 5 minutes before putting it on the cookies.

To assemble cookies - spoon a little peanut butter glaze onto the center of each cookie. 
Top with chopped Reese cups and drizzle with fudge sauce.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Holiday M & M Cookies and the Food Lion Holiday Bake-Off

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The holidays are coming!  Are you ready?

When I was younger I loved baking cookies for the holidays and I still do today.
A tin of cookies or a loaf of freshly baked bread is the perfect gift to show friends, family and neighbors how much they mean to you. 

The M & M cookies below are one of the first cookies I learned how to bake as a girl and they are still one of my holiday favorites.

Do you enjoy baking?

Food Lion is launching a Holiday Bake Off recipe contest on their Facebook page.
You can enter the contest by sharing a recipe in any of the four categories: appetizer, entre, side dish, or dessert. 12 grand prize winners will receive a $500 Food Lion gift card! 
Wouldn't that be nice!

The Food Lion Bake Off contest kicked off on 11/7/12 and will end 11/28/12.
Visit the Food Lion Facebook page to enter.
Hurry - the contest ends November 28th.
Good luck!

Holiday M & M Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granualted sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups Holiday M & M's

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.
Spoon in dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Stir in m&m candies.
Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto a Silpat lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Food Lion. I received a promotional item to facilitate my shopping experience and review.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

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My co-worker, Pat loves pumpkin, so I made these cupcakes for her birthday last week.
She is super sweet and I appreciate all she does for me!

The chocolate drizzle adds just the right touch and makes the cupcake taste kind of like a
pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. 

Make some for someone sweet in your life :)

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

1 box spice cake mix
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place liners into cupcake pan.
Sift cake mix and spices into a large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until combined.  Using a large cookie scoop, drop batter into cupcake liners.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-2 T heavy cream or milk

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla for 2-3 minutes on med-high speed.  Lower the speed and add the cinnamon and milk. Beat for another 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Frost cooled cupcakes.  (I use a Wilton 1M tip to frost my cupcakes)
For fudge drizzle - Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of hot fudge sauce (I use Hershey's) into a bowl and microwave for about 15-20 seconds.  Pour it into a Wilton plastic bottle with tip.  Let it cool for about 5 minutes before drizzling over cupcakes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My favorite Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

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I am so, so, so excited to be attending Mixed, my first food bloggers conference later this month.
Dixie Crystals is one of the sponsors and they are part of Bake It Forward, which you can find out more about here.

Dixie Crystals is also hosting a cookie contest.  They are looking for cookies that travel well in a tin and my favorite peanut butter chocolate chip cookies will do just that, as long as you don't eat them all first!

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is my fave and the addition of the honey helps to keep them soft and chewy.  Make some today and be sure to check out Bake It Forward too :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup Dixie Crystals light brown sugar
1/3 cup Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat brown sugar, sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add peanut butter, vanilla, honey and eggs; mixing well.  Turn mixer to low and add flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix just until combined.  Pour in chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Using a medium size cookie scoop, drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used a Silpat mat).
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or just until golden brown.  Remove from cookie sheet onto a wire rack to cool.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Litehouse Freeze-Dried Herbs and a Recipe

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Happy mail arrived today :)

The nice people of Litehouse Foods sent me some of their Freeze-Dried Herbs to try.
It was perfect timing since my container herb garden has pretty much bit the dust now that the weather has got so cold here in Virginia.  I love using fresh herbs when possible, but hate the waste when I don't use them all.

Litehouse Freeze-Dried Herbs combine the convenience of dried herbs with the taste of fresh.
They harvest their herbs at the height of flavor and freeze-dry them immediately. When they come into contact with moisture they rehydrate instantly.  No more herbs dying in my crisper drawer!

Tonight I used the poulty herb blend, which consists of onions, thyme, sage, marjoram, spring onions, garlic and rosemary.  You use them just like fresh herbs.  If your recipe calls for 1 tsp. of fresh herbs, use 1 tsp. of freeze-dried as well. I also used the garlic.

I love wide mouth on the container.  My teaspoon fit in there nicely.

Overall I was very impressed with the quality and taste of Litehouse Freeze-Dried herbs.
I will definitely use them again and again in my recipes. 
Be sure to check out all of their other products as well. 
You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Click here to sign up and receive a .55 cent off coupon for a Litehouse product.

Herb Chicken and Tomato Orzo

2 large boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 tsp. Litehouse Freeze-Dried Poultry Herb Blend
2 T olive oil
1 tsp. Litehouse Freeze-Dried garlic
1/4 cup diced onion
1 can petite diced tomatoes
3/4 cup whole wheat orzo
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper

Pound chicken breasts thin and place them on a plate.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle poultry herb blend over the chicken breasts.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until tender, about 1-2 minutes.
Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently.  Place chicken breasts in the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until brown. 
Remove the chicken breasts from the pan.  Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and orzo.  Stir to combine.
Place the chicken breasts back into the pan and cover with lid.  Cook over medium low heat for about 20 minutes or until orzo is tender and chicken is cooked through.
Yield:  2-3 servings

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Cake with Whipped Cream, Salted Caramel and Toffee Bits

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Sorry, but I still haven't had my fill of pumpkin yet :)

I made this cake on Halloween for our special Trick or Treat visitors, but it would also be great for Thanksgiving or pretty much anytime you need a fall sweet treat!

Pumpkin Cake with Whipped Cream,
Salted Caramel and Toffee Bits

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
8 oz. Cool Whip or Whipped Cream (recipe below)
Heath Toffee Bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour 9 x 11 cake pan.
In a large mixing bowl sift cake mix and spices together.  Add pumpkin, milk, oil and eggs.
Beat with an electric mixer until well blended.  Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack.
Top individual slices with whipped cream, salted caramel sauce and toffee bits.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 T confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, whip cream, sugar and vanilla together until stiff peaks form.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Salted Caramel Sauce

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I was never a huge fan of caramel until salted caramel became all the rage.
It is definitely the cool caramel on the block.
There's just something about the sweet and salty combo that is so hard to resist!

This yummy sauce is so versatile.  Use it to swirl into brownie mix, add it to buttercream to make salted caramel frosting, dip apples into it or drizzle it over your favorite sweet treat.
It makes everything better!

There are lots of salted caramel recipes out there, but this one is so easy and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.  If you want a glaze-like sauce, let it cool at room temp.  If you want a thick, fudgy sauce... pop it into the fridge to chill.

Salted Caramel Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp sea salt

Melt butter in saucepan.  Add sugars and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. 
Stir in whipping cream and bring back to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 
Remove from heat and stir in salt.  Cool completely.
Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks, but I doubt it will last that long :)
Recipe makes about one cup.