Sugar Rush 2011

Last year Drury partnered with some local businesses to bring the first every Sugar Rush event to Springfield, MO.  It’s basically a sampling a sweets made by local vendors and restaurants with all the profits going to Care to Learn, an organization dedicated to meeting the basic social and economic needs of kids in schools across the Ozarks.

I didn’t know about the event last year in time to go and I almost missed it this year but found out about it at the last minute and managed to score two for one tickets!  I asked my friend Robyn (of Red’s Cupcakes!) to go with me and together we ate our way through 25+ vendors and three plates of desserts.  Yes, THREE plates.  There were a LOT of mini cupcakes, some cookies, chocolates and truffles and even doughnuts and frozen yogurt samples.  I can’t say I was terribly impressed with anything but I definitely had my favorites.  I think Robyn and I agreed the front runners were Amycakes (awesome from scratch cupcakes and cookies), Elle’s Patisserie (loved her truffles and pastry), My Mary’s Jellies (truffles filled with wine-infused jelly–omg, so going to be making my own!) and one that I really liked, Granolove (super delicious homemade granola).  These places stood out above all the rest for quality and taste.

It was so much fun and I absolutely cannot wait for next year!  Here are some pictures from the evening-enjoy!

The Cup Pumpkin Cake
The Hot Chocolate Cups
Tea Bar and Bites Pumpkin Cake

Love Bites Truffles
My Mary's Jellies Red Wine Truffles
Tea Bar and Bites Coconut Cream

Granolove Granola
Style by the Slice Vanilla Bean
Sisters in Thyme Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Elle's Patisserie Salted Caramel Truffle
Gigi's Cupcakes Strawberry, Chocolate, Vanilla
Bambino's Caramel Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

Amycakes Red Velvet
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Cancun Eats

Just one week ago I was digging my toes into soft, white sand, reading non-stop on my Kindle under a palm tree and eating waaaaayyyyyy too much food.  It was a good five days in Cancun.

Here are some photos of the most important part of our trip…dessert!  (Forgive the photo quality..taken with a phone…bad lighting..etc etc etc)

These are some of the gorgeous dessert buffets.  I honestly can’t tell you what 1/4 of the stuff is and there wasn’t much that I liked, believe it or not.  Oh, but I tried it ALL.  Most of the choices were either way too sugary sweet coconut candy type things or bland.  And the “cake”-like options were very dry.  I did find a chocolate cheesecake wrapped in a chocolate purse-type shell (in first pic below, bottom right) that was good and another plain vanilla cheesecake thing (at least I THINK that’s what it was..hard to tell because the top half was green and it was shaped like an oval) that I liked also.  I did find these little chocolate cube-like things that I LOVED and I actually found them in the shop at the resort.  Turns out they were made of toasted amaranth and chocolate.  Yep, totally going to try making them.

There were two little gems that I found on our shopping day.  One is an amazing chocolate shop called Ah Cacao.  They sold all kinds of chocolate, coffee, every form of vanilla, cookies and some of THE BEST brownies I have ever had.  Oh and their chocolate covered espresso beans…AH-MAZING.  They were dipped in dark chocolate and then had a crunchy outer shell, like an M&M.  I wish I had bought more than one package.

This was a lovely little gelato place called Aldo’s.  There’s actually alot of gelato places in Cancun, which surprised me.  They pretty much started shoveling gelato samples into our mouthes the minute we walked up to the counter.  But I’m not complaining!  It was delicious!  I ended up getting a waffle cone with Almond gelato–heaven!

And this is us on our last day of living like beach bums, soaking up the sun.  Let me tell you, it was SWEET.

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Fashion Show

While I don’t typically like to be in front of the camera, I had to show off some of my latest finds to you all (and Jeremy agreed to not get my face in the shots so it was all good).

First up, a cupcake necklace from the Fair Grove craft fair. Love it!

Second, a delicious cupcake shirt from Forever 21.

I also found these cupcake socks while I was waiting in line at Forever 21 to buy my cupcake shirt. I couldn’t resist.

Obviously not fashion, but I couldn’t resist sharing this Hello Kitty that my friend Nicole got me for my birthday. Yes, I know how old I am…but I don’t care, it’s adorable!

That’s all for now. I won’t be posting next Monday or Wednesday due to a vacation in a very tropical location…but I’ll have a little recap of our trip the following Friday. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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The Butterfinger Bites Disaster

Homemade Butterfingers by Plain Chicken

My friend Joelle had been raving on her blog about how amazing these things were called Butterfinger Bites.  My favorite candy bar of all time is Butterfinger, so naturally I just HAD to make these.  The only ingredients are candy corn, peanut butter and chocolate.  And not only that, you make them in the microwave.  Awesome!

Supposedly these little chocolatey gems taste EXACTLY like a Butterfinger.  But I, for one, will never know.  Because I totally and completely screwed up this recipe.  How you ask?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  I followed the recipe and warmed the candy corn in the microwave for one minute.  They melted a little.  So I continued at 15 second intervals, stirring between each.  The candy kind of was kind of melting but it was also EXTREMELY hot and kind of starting to clump.  Uh oh.  I eventually got it into some sort of semi-melted blob and thought, ok, I’ll just throw in the peanut butter and see if it comes together.

No, it did not come together.  I could barely stir the mixture for all the clumps of candy corn in the peanut butter.  So I stuck it in the microwaved for a few seconds…and that kind of helped.  The clumps were turning into itty bitty candy corn bits.  So then I had the thought that I would throw it in my mixer and beat the crap out of it!  That didn’t help.  The tiny little candy corn pieces basically got distributed more evenly.  So I poured it into a pan and just stared at it for awhile.  There was no way this was solidifying or even tasting good.  So I threw it away.  Sigh.  So depressing.

I felt like a total failure, like I couldn’t bake at all!!  I mean, candy from a microwave?!  C’mon!  I went to the blog where the original recipe was posted to see if anyone else had issues with it…no, not one person.  Just me. So, I had to console myself by going back and looking at pictures of things I’ve made but never blogged about.  Yes, I was that depressed.  It actually cheered me up a little and reminded me that I’m not a total screw up.  Here’s my trip down memory lane…

Tons of homemade candy for the holidays…that was fun.  And I didn’t screw anything up!

14-Layer Cake with my baking buddy, Betsy.  We were pretty proud of that one.

A 1st birthday cake for a special little nephew.

Neapolitan Cheesecake Cake for a friend’s husband’s birthday.  Yum.

Maple Pecan and Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons, again with Betsy.  We got those right on the first try!  Woo hoo! Lots of high-fiving going on in the kitchen that day!

Buttered Pecan Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting for my sister-in-law Rachel’s birthday.  I think I need to make this one again…

Oreo and Cherry Birthday Cake for my friend Sarah Carter.  That was a fun one.

Ahh, I feel better.  Time to get back in the saddle!  Err, kitchen. Oh and YES, I most definitely will try to make the homemade Butterfingers again!

 

 

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St. Louis and Cheesecake

This weekend I went to the Joyce Meyer conference in St. Louis with a few other lovely ladies.  I’ve been several times before and it’s always a wonderful time of awesome music and challenging teaching.  It’s also a great time to sneak in some shopping and splurge on some good eating out!   On Friday, our sessions were at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. so during that gap me, my sister Hannah and friend Nicole high-tailed it to the Galleria for a marathon shopping session.

One of our stops was Urban Outfitters where I found these Kitty Cat Measuring Cups.  I am a HUGE cat person, so I pretty much died when I saw them.  I still regret not getting them.

I also came across this toothpaste at Urban Outfitters.  As much as I love cupcakes, I’m not sure I want to brush my teeth with them.  That just seems…wrong.

After the last session on Saturday, we went back to the Galleria for the Cheesecake Factory.  I know, I know it’s a chain and all but I’m sorry, I love the place.  We had some awesome salads and then left.

Just kidding!  Well, we did have salads but we most certainly ordered cheesecake too!  And no, we didn’t share a piece, we each got our own piece.  That’s right.  Total gluttony.  And it was sooooo worth it.  Here is a picture of all three of them taken with my crappy cell phone.

And here are some beautiful stock photos of what we got.  Much better.

My sister Hannah got Craig’s Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake.  It. Is. So. Good.  Layers of carrot cake, vanilla cheesecake, cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans.  Amazing.

I got the Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake which consisted of Raspberry-Vanilla Cake, Creamy Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Lady Fingers and Lemon Mousse.  It didn’t have the lady fingers and didn’t quite look like this photo and wasn’t really my favorite, BUT it was good.  Just not my favorite.

What was my favorite?  My friend Nicole’s choice, the Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake.  OMG.  I know that phrase is overused but seriously, OMG.  It was so, so, so good…a yummy brownie crust with a hint of coffee in the uber-creamy cheesecake filling and some seriously rich chocolate mousse and ganache on top.  I was *this close* to choosing the Kahlua cheesecake and I was KICKING myself for changing my mind at the last minute.  However, Nicole couldn’t quite finish all of her piece so like the good friend I am, I volunteered to help her out.

I had such a great weekend and was so sad to see it end but I’m thankful for the girl time and most importantly, God time.  And now, I’m gonna shut down my computer on this dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon and hold my husband’s hand as he rides the emotional rollercoaster that is fantasy football.  Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday evening.

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The Meatloaf Bakery

When Jeremy and I lived in Rockford, we’d occasionally make trips into Chicago to shop, eat and visit the museums and parks.  Fun times.  One of our favorite areas of Chicago was Lincoln Park, which was a college town full of unique shops, bakeries and concert venues.  We discovered a cupcake place called Molly’s Cupcakes and I’ll never forget one time while we were on our way to get cupcakes from Molly’s we passed another cupcake place that immediately caught my attention due to the enormous size of their cupcakes.  They were huge!

Photo courtesy of LA Weekly

As I peered in the window I thought something seemed off…these cupcakes didn’t look quite right.  And then I realized I was not looking at delicious vanilla and chocolate cakes topped with creamy, dreamy buttercream but instead it was…meatloaf!  Topped with mashed potato “frosting”! Ummm, DISGUSTING.  I guess the name of the place should have given it away.  After all, it was The Meatloaf Bakery, hello!  But I didn’t even see the name because I was too preoccupied staring at the “cupcakes” inside.

Photo courtesy of LA Weekly

I had all but forgot about the place until this past Sunday night when Duff Goldman paid The Meatloaf Bakery a little visit on his new show, Sugar High.  Despite my initial gross out, I have to admit that the food actually looked good.   And I truly couldn’t believe the place was still in business.  I specifically remember thinking, “This place’ll never make it!”  Boy, was I wrong!

Photo courtesy of tumblr

Would YOU eat a meatloaf cupcake?!

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Apple Festivals & Weddings

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity.  I got to have a little girl’s night Friday night with two of my bestest friends.  We treated ourselves to pedicures and a little shopping.  Then Saturday Jeremy and I got up early, worked out, made a yummy homemade breakfast of biscuits, gravy, eggs and sausage and then headed to Seymour for the Apple Festival.

There were a TON of crafts.  Jewelry, fall wreaths, homemade cosmetics and lotions, wood working and so much more.

And of course, there were apples.  We treated ourselves to a slice of yummy apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

From there we headed to a wedding.  My baby cousin, James, got married…I still can’t believe he’s old enough to get married!  Makes me feel ancient.  Sigh.

The wedding was very cute and laid-back.  We all sat on quilt-covered hay-bales and the bride and groom stood under a big, beautiful tree for the ceremony.  Afterwards, we had the most delicious bbq and other homemade food and ended the night with yummy white wedding cake, punch and dancing.

I just love this shot.

Congratulations James and Jess!

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Bed & Breakfast Weekend

Jeremy and I just got back from a short but sweet weekend in a little town called Ironton, Mo.  He surprised me with a belated anniversary trip to a bed and breakfast called The Parlor.  When I went online to do a little research on the activities in and around the town, I found out that the B&B used to be a funeral home and was supposedly haunted! We didn’t see any ghosts or notice anything out of the ordinary while we were there but we did have an absolutely wonderful time and enjoyed our stay IMMENSELY.  The husband and wife that own The Parlor were the nicest people and so accommodating.

There wasn’t much on our agenda (which was nice) other than going to a couple of state parks, eating some good food and relaxing.  Oh and of course enjoying some yummy desserts!  Jeremy also surprised me with a horse-drawn carriage ride Saturday night when we got back to the bed and breakfast.  It was so romantic and a great way to end the weekend.  Here are some fun pictures from our trip!

Outside of our lovely B&B, The Parlor
Flowers that were waiting for me in our room.
At Elephant Rocks state park.
Chocolate covered bacon a vendor was selling at Elephant Rock (for $3 each!!). Random...but good.
Getting cooled off at Johnson's Shut-Ins.
Dinner in Farmington, Mo.
The view from our corner booth at 12 West Bar & Grill. We were a little early (and hungry) which is why it was fairly empty.
An up-close look at those gorgeous chandeliers.
Dessert #1 at 12 West Bar & Grill: Ooey Gooey Butter Cake with Chocolate, Caramel, Sliced Bananas and Whipped Cream. Insane.
Dessert #2 at 12 West Bar & Grill: Triple Chocolate Cake with layers of Devil's Food Cake, Chocolate Mousse and Ganache. Even more insane.
Other than McDonald's, this was the only cafe/restaurant type place in Ironton. Every town has to have a bakery. 🙂
Outside the cafe.

 

A cinnamon roll at Aunt Mary's. It was yummy...warm, cinnamony and soft.
Cream Horn at Aunt Mary's. I had never had one and I LOVED it. Light, flaky pastry filled with the fluffiest buttercream. Really delicious.
Old Village Mercantile in Caledonia, Mo. This was one of a few antique shops we stopped at on the way home. Bonus: They had a coffee/smoothie bar, bakery and candy shop on the first floor.
The first floor of Old Village Mercantile. Lots of candy. And check out the original, beautiful ceiling.
View from the upstairs of Old Village Mercantile. LOVE that ceiling.
Barrels of old-fashioned candy at Old Village Mercantile.
Chocolate candy. Mmmmm.
LOTS of candy!
We stopped at another antique shop in Steelville, Mo and this little ice cream stand was across the street. How convenient. 😉
My choice--Mint Chocolate Chips. It was good. But I liked Jeremy's choice better. Why does that always happen?!
Jeremy's choice--Strawberry Waffle Cone. It was sooooo good!

Hope you enjoyed the peak into our weekend!  Tomorrow I’ll have a yummy end-of-summer recipe to share with you…have a great Sunday evening!

 

 

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A Barn Wedding and Cotton Candy Cupcakes

Over the next four weeks, Jeremy and I will be attending three weddings…THREE.  However, I don’t mind too much because next to desserts, weddings are one of my most favorite things.  I’ve helped many friends and family with their own weddings and love seeing all the details that go into someone’s big day.  Last night we had the privilege of attending the wedding of one of Jeremy’s friends from high school, Brandon.  He married a sweet girl named Morgan and they had a very cute, very simple wedding on a farm.  Yes, farm.  A very nice farm.

The ceremony was held outside and for awhile it seemed like it was going to pour rain, but thankfully it just thundered the entire time.  And the clouds were nice for some relief from the heat.  The reception was held in the upper loft part of the barn.  It was a fun night with good music, yummy food and a dessert table with cotton candy cupcakes, heart-shaped brownies, gumballs and rock candy.  Here are some shots from the night that Jeremy got with the camera on his phone…

 

Hope everyone has had a great weekend–enjoy what’s left!

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Birthday Cake Disaster

The other day I had a request for a birthday cake.  No problem, I thought, I can totally rock this…I’ll just do a cute little three-layer, 6-inch round cake like I’ve made before.  Done and done.  Or so I thought.

As I started to assemble the cake, the layers began slipping and sliding everywhere.  I freaked.  Why is this happening??!  Crap!  And then I started noticing how hot is was in my house…INSANELY HOT.  I looked at the thermostat–80 freakin’ degrees!!  I promptly turned the thermostat down to 75 but it was too little, too late…there was no recovering this cake.  What to do???  A trifle was my only option and thankfully the person who requested the cake was more than happy to go that route.  Whew!  So I made a decent recovery and still ended up with something that tasted amazing and looked pretty.  Gotta love baking in the heat of summer.  Lesson learned!

P.S. The trifle consists of white cake, homemade raspberry filling and white chocolate almond cream cheese frosting.  YUM.

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Going to the Chapel…

Two years ago today I married my best friend.  It went by so quickly (just like everyone said it would) and I am so thankful we have great pictures to look back at and remember everything by.  We had an outside wedding at an old historic, brick firehouse.  The ceremony was actually outside in a courtyard and the reception took place inside.  There was lots of food and punch and a fun jazz band that played all night.

And of course we had cake!  It was simply vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream along with vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla buttercream and an awesome candy buffet.  It was a great night and I love looking at these pics and reliving it.  Oh, and I should mention our photos were done by Cary Bates and Sarah Carter, both amazing photographers.  Definitely check out their work.

Here are some of our sweetest memories from that night.

 

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Fair Food

Jeremy and I went to the fair this past weekend.  We basically had one thing on our agenda while we were there:  FRIED OREOS.  Ok, so maybe it was more MY agenda but after getting a taste of those delicious fried chocolatey puffs last year, I’d been dreaming about them ever since.  And really, what is there to do at the fair besides eat?  I mean, you’ve got fried twinkies, funnel cakes, caramel apples, ice cream, fried Oreos, cheesecake wontons, cotton candy, fried peanut butter and jelly, chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick and even fried Kool-Aid!  And that’s just the sweet stuff!

So after a little searching, we found the fried Oreos and also decided on a fried PB&J.  We grabbed a spot near the karaoke stage to listen to the up-and-coming Springfield musical talent and do a little people watching while we munched down.

First, the fried PB&J.  Absolutely NOT good.  Jeremy and I both agreed that while in concept the idea is great, it just didn’t work this time.  The peanut butter tasted disgusting (perhaps because all I ever eat is natural peanut butter?) and it wasn’t really a peanut butter sandwich, it was one of those Uncrustable things that you get in the freezer section at the grocery store, fried in funnel cake batter.  So disappointing.  I’ve actually been wanting to purchase a deep fryer for home, so once I do, we are trying this again…with a REAL PB&J sandwich!

Now the fried Oreos on the other hand…absolute. fried. genius.  I just love these little things.  The Oreo is dunked in funnel cake batter which fries up nice and golden while the Oreo gets soft on the inside.  Finished with a touch of powdered sugar, these are Oreo HEAVEN.  They are fresh and warm and oh so delicious.  My only complaint is that they don’t serve them with milk!  Other than that, magic.

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Some Sweet Birthday Gifts

Oh I know what you’re thinking, “here she goes talking about her birthday again, how long can she drag this out, no one cares, yada, yada”.  Well as long as I want!  I mean, I turned 30 after all.  Plus, I thought it would be fun to share some of the gifts I got with you!  They are all too cute not to share.

First up, a gift from me, to me.  I fell in love with this dainty little vintage tea cup when I was out yard saling a couple weeks ago.  I mean, does it not scream “sip something yummy from me with your little  pinkie in the air whilst noshing on scones and crumpets”?!  Yes, it does.

Second, an adorable serving tray from my friend Stevie.  She pretty much has my taste down to a tee.  I tried to contain my excitement upon receiving it but I love this thing SO much.  It definitely will be showing up on the blog ALOT.

Third, a gift from Sephora.  Vanilla Birthday Cake body wash by philosophy.  This stuff is amazing.  It seriously smells like cake.  I could eat it.  But I won’t, that would be weird…and possibly toxic.

Fourth, something I had asked for on my birthday wish list that my husband surprised me with by actually ordering it for me…an apron!  Cutest thing ever.  Will I ever bake in it?  Probably not.  It’s too cute for that mess.  But I do love it so. (And yes, I AM wearing clothes underneath it.  Swear.)

Have a wonderful Friday and glorious weekend!

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30th Birthday Video

Thought I’d share a short little video of me blowing out the candle on my surprise birthday dessert at McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin.  This place was so neat…there was a bagpiper piping, one million dollars hanging from the ceiling (for real!) and an on-site brewery (which brewed both beer AND rootbeer-yum!).  Not to mention the seafood and steaks were phenomenal!  My family loved it…it was the perfect place to go for our last night in Florida.

P.S.  The dessert was the most amazing, warm gooey brownie loaded with chunks of whole pecans, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and smothered in hot fudge.  So good!

P.S. S.  It looks like I don’t have the lung capacity to blow out the candle when in reality I was just waiting for Jeremy to take a picture…little did I know he was filming.  Oooops.

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Tommy Bahamas (aka dessert overload)


Triple Chocolate Cake
Four layers of moist chocolate cake, chocolate
ganache frosting and topped with a mocha mousse
whipped cream.

In the past when we’ve vacationed in Florida, we’ve tended to eat at the same restaurants that we know and like.  I really wanted to go to some new places on this visit and looked up some restaurants that had good reviews.  One of those was Tommy Bahamas.  It had about 4.5 out of 5 stars and people couldn’t say enough good things about it, despite the fact that it was a chain.  So we tried it and wow, what amazing food!  We had a variety of things from fish tacos to coconut shrimp, chicken and cuban sandwiches to ahi tuna salad.  Of course after we had our fill of all this food, we decided to splurge on desserts (oh, I should mention that it wasn’t just me and Jeremy on this trip…there were six of us so we had plenty of people to help us pig out).


Key West Key Lime Pie
The real deal! Fresh and tart, made with real key limes.

These desserts were all made-from-scratch and absolutely delicious!  We couldn’t pick just one or two so we chose all except one, which was four desserts.  I thought my favorite would be the Key Lime Pie and while it was absolutely delicious, the Triple Chocolate Cake ended up the #1 dessert on my list and I think everyone else felt the same way.  It was divine!  The chocolate cake reminded me of wacky cake and the mousse was thick and not too sweet, just pure chocolate goodness.  Oh, you’re wondering what a wacky cake is?  Hmmm, well it’s a chocolate cake that is made a little differently than most chocolate cakes.  Not to worry, I’ll make one and do a post on it in the near future.  Purely for educational purposes, of course.


Blackbeard’s Butterscotch
Creamy, rich, vanilla & scotch whiskey flavored
pudding with chocolate ganache, “from scratch”
caramel sauce & fresh whipped cream.

The Pina Colada cake was also delicious…I loved the toasted coconut and hint of rum that had soaked into the cake layers.  And the Blackbeard’s Butterscotch was the first time I had butterscotch pudding not made from a box and wow, awesome.  I’m already looking up recipes so I can recreate it at home.


Piña Colada Cake
Moist vanilla layer cake with Myers Dark Rum,
chopped pineapple, white chocolate mousse &
toasted coconut.

They have restaurants in a few different states so click here to see if one is near you and visit immediately!  And unless you go with a group, try not to order all the desserts at once….

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Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola

As of today I’ve been in Destin, Florida for five days.  Surprise!  Jealous?  You should be, it’s awesome here.  Sun, sand, emerald blue water and doing a whole lot of nothing.  It’s been glorious.  But of course I had to take a little time out of my day and tell you all about a little road trippin’ snack I made.

See Jeremy and I are actually pretty health conscious (despite what I blog about) and have been getting in shape for this vacation for awhile.  Knowing that we would be in the car for 12+ hours, I wanted something healthy to snack on should hunger strike.  And let’s face it, the healthy options at a 7-Eleven are pretty much limited to the bottled water.  We had to be prepared!

So I thought a nice snack would be homemade granola.  I’ve seen a few recipes but never attempted it myself, so after doing some research I found one that sounded like it had potential and was super versatile (because no way in heck was I NOT going to change the recipe!).  I started with Playgroup Granola Bars from Allrecipes.com.  I modified it alot but the bones of the recipe were great…the granola turned out awesome!  I could not keep my hands out of it and seriously didn’t know if there would be any left by the time we actually got on the road.  And yes, this recipe is healthy.  But healthy can taste really, really good.  Like, “no way can this be healthy” good.  Eat it by the handful or pour some milk over it and enjoy it for breakfast.  And DO play with the recipe…experiment with flavors and ingredients!

Enjoy!

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola
Breakfast, Snack, Dessert
10 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats
  • 2 c. Hard Red Wheat Flakes
  • ½ c. 7-Grain Mix (If you can't find it at your local health food store, substitute Wheat Germ or Flax Seed)
  • 2 c. White Whole Wheat Flour (I like King Arthur)
  • 1½ t. Salt
  • ½ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • ¼ c. Cocoa Powder
  • ½ c. Chocolate Protein Powder (I like the All Natural Chocolate Muscle Milk)
  • 2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ c. Honey
  • ¼ c. Safflower Oil
  • ¼ c. Peanut Oil
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ c. All-Natural Peanut Butter
  • ½ c. All-Natural Dry-Roasted Peanuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats and the next 7 ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the eggs and the next 5 ingredients.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread evenly into the cookie sheet, pressing down with the back of a spoon or your hands. Sprinkle the dry-roasted peanuts on top and gently press into the mixture. Bake for 22 minutes and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, or until the granola is cool enough to handle.
  5. Get another cookie sheet and break up the granola into small pieces (the peanuts will probably fall off but that's ok), dividing between the two cookie sheets. Bake both cookie sheets of granola for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely and store in an air-tight bag.

 

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35th Anniversary Celebration

Yesterday was my parent’s 35th anniversary and we celebrated at a place called Marina Cafe, one of my families favorite restaurants in Destin, FL.  The food is superb and the view of the harbor tops it all off.  We surprised my parents with two amazing desserts, White Chocolate Macadamia Cheesecake and Rum Raisin Bread Pudding Souffle with Caramelized  Bananas.  They were two of the best desserts I have ever had.  If you’re ever in Destin, be sure and put this on your list of must-go-to restaurants.

It was a special night, with two of the best parents in the world.  Love you mom and dad…happy anniversary!

 

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The Catering Divas Divalicious Bake Shoppe

I had heard about a new bakery in Hollister, MO, The Catering Divas Divalicious Bake Shoppe (what a name!) and got my chance to stop in and visit a couple weekends ago after a trip to White Water in Branson with my sister and her husband.  I felt a little bad dragging them along for my “research” but they didn’t seem to mind.  After a short little drive right down into the heart of downtown Hollister, we arrived at our destination.  I was a little shocked to learn the bakery was just a tiny room off of a bar, so that was a little off-putting at first but the space was cute inside.  On the small countertop were a few pieces of pineapple upside down cake, cookies, brownies, a couple of pastries, a few cake pops, zucchini bread, some quick breads and rolls and a few chocolate cupcakes in the refrigerator.  I thought they’d have more to choose from because they supposedly stay open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday so they might have had a rush that day, but we still managed to choose quite the selection between the four of us.

The things we chose were cupcakes (chocolate with peanut butter buttercream and chocolate with vanilla buttercream), red velvet cake pops, a brownie and a slice of pineapple upside down cake.  The pineapple upside down cake was good but I probably wouldn’t get it again (only because everything else we got was way better).  The brownie was really yummy, more cake-like with a chocolate glaze, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with pecans.  The red velvet cake pops were also really, really good and not sickeningly sweet like a lot of cake pops I’ve tried.  Possibly the best cake pops I’ve had yet!

And finally, the cupcakes were delicious.  They only had a few chocolate varieties left (I typically like to try white cake with vanilla buttercream).  The chocolate cake part was very moist and had a mild chocolate taste and both the peanut butter and vanilla buttercreams were amazingly smooth and not too sweet…I think the frosting might have actually been an Italian or Swiss buttercream because it definitely did not taste like a typical powder sugar buttercream.

As for the prices, they were very good, if not even a little low on some things.  Jeremy and I got four items and only spent $7.  Overall, we liked the treats very much–you can definitely tell that the owner knows her cake!  I’m already thinking about stopping by for a cupcake the next time I’m in Branson.  Let me know if you’ve been there or plan to stop by sometime soon–I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Pink and Red

Since Valentine’s Day is only four short days away, I thought I’d throw out a few more ideas just in case you’re still stumped on what to make, bake or buy for that special someone.  And even if you loathe Valentine’s Day with a passion, these can still be inspiration for another celebration!  So, to start things off right, I’d like to begin with more from Amy Atlas.  She’s just put up an awesome v-day spread on her blog and I urge you to go check it out IMMEDIATELY.  Part I and Part II.  It will make you happy.

You might even start liking Valentine’s Day.  She’s that good.

Valentines Day Table 1

Next, I absolutely LOVE these cards by MadeByGirl.  You’ll find a lot of unique, fun stuff that is relatively inexpensive and earth friendly. She also has prints and posters that are definitely worth checking out.

Deeply Madly LOVE Roses iheartu

Finally, I came across this adorable Sweetheart Cupcake on allrecipes.com and had to share the recipe!  It’s so simple and fun!  And feel free to go a bit more gourmet if you’d like and make a cake from scratch.

Sweetheart Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 8 drops red food coloring

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a standard muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
  2. Beat the cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and egg whites together until smooth. Fill cupcake liners 1/3 full with white batter; set aside.
  3. Stir 4 drops of red food coloring into the remaining bowl of batter to make the batter pink. Pour 1/3 of pink batter into a resealable plastic bag and set aside.
  4. Mix more food coloring into the remaining bowl of pink batter until it is an orange/red color and pour the batter into a resealable plastic bag. Cut a corner off the bag, stick the open tip into the center of each cup of white batter and squeeze in about two tablespoons of red batter.
  5. Cut the corner off the bag with the pink batter, stick the open tip into the center of the red batter and squeeze about 1 tablespoon pink batter into each cup.
  6. Bake the layered cupcakes in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.]
Ok, now you have no excuses!  Ditch the red roses and  box of chocolates and go for something a little more creative this Sunday!
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