Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 121: National Oatmeal Cookie Day

Today is National Oatmeal Cookie Day. This is one of those cookies that seems to be "old school". These days, the star is the chocolate chip cookie or whatever cookie you can create with the most indulgent ingredients. In my opinion, there's not much better than a soft, chewy homemade basic oatmeal cookie. You don't even need the raisins or chocolate chips, just a hint of cinnamon.

I tried a new recipe in my quest for the perfect oatmeal cookie, and I believe that my search has ended almost before it began. This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, has met all my criteria. 1) soft & chewy  2) not flat  3) a hint of cinnamon.  The key is to not over-bake them so that they don't get crunchy and dried out. These are the perfect little snack at only 100 calories each.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 119 & 120: What a busy weekend!

This weekend has been a busy one which is why I am just getting around to posting for yesterday and today.

Saturday morning, we were up early for a family garage sale at our house. After cleaning up and loading leftover boxes of stuff to send to Goodwill, we were off to Russellville to meet Thomas' family for dinner and to see our nephew participate in the musical, Annie Get Your Gun. It was an excellent performance and we enjoyed every minute of it. Amazing performances by some very talented high school students! There was no time for baking so we hit Sonic after the play and indulged in Sonic Blasts. YUM!

This morning, we went to church with my parents and enjoyed lunch and a few afternoon board games with them. Mom made a pie for dessert - cool whip and chopped Hershey bars in a chocolate crumb crust. It was very good but very sweet.

We returned home late this afternoon and I managed to get a 2 hour nap in. It was fantastic! Hope your weekend was relaxing and sweet!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 118: S'more Monkey Bread

Today I chose one more S'more recipe to share with you. I promise I will take a break and share some other recipes besides just S'more's!!

Believe me, you won't be able to resist this recipe.  I saw this on one of my favorite blogs, Picky Palate. Jenny shares some irresistible recipes with great photos to go with it!  She shared this recipe for Rolo S'mores Skillet Monkey Bread a few weeks ago and I knew I had to share it with you. I had to go out and buy a cast iron skillet just so I could make it!!  

The only change I made was to use light butter to save a few calories (this dish is definitely not calorie friendly). I didn't make the glaze to pour over it because I thought it was sweet enough. Also, next time I will add a tsp of cinnamon just to give it that cinnamon monkey bread taste. Other than that, it is a keeper!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 117: Fruit Creamy Smoothie

Thursday nights are a busy time for us. Thomas gets home from work and quickly gets ready and heads out the door with Camdyn for a group bike ride. Nick and I head to the gym where I have weight training class and he plays basketball and racquetball and just plays around on the different machines upstairs. We meet back at the house around 7:45 where we find something to eat for dinner. Tonight, I put potatoes in the oven to bake while we were gone, so they were just perfect when we got home. Then I top it with grilled chicken, a little cheese and bacon pieces and dinner is served.

Nick wanted to stop and get a milkshake on the way home, but I talked him into letting me make homemade at home. The boys love my milkshakes and malts! Even though they are a little healthier than the ones in restaurants, they are still heavy on the calorie side for a small amount. For myself, I made a Fruit Creamy Smoothie. I took about 8 medium strawberries and hulled them, then blended with my immersion blender. When smooth, add 1/2 a packet of Sweet & Low and 4 tbsp of cool whip and stir together until blended. It has a similar consistency as the milkshake and fills you up as well without all the calories. Only 115 calories!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 116: Strawberry Malt Cupcakes

Strawberry Malt Cupcakes - the perfect dessert for a warm spring day! And to celebrate the conclusion of my month long frustrating fight with my insurance company. They have finally come through, and I have overcome!!  Now to just move on and actually get the wood floors replaced - oh how I will love being back to "my normalcy"!

Went out for a 5 mile run this morning. The temperatures were perfect, but it was very windy! I try to avoid wind as much as I try to avoid hills! Not FUN! I persevered and had a feel good finish.

So, on to the cupcakes. I am not much of a malt person, but something about this recipe was calling my name. Maybe it was the strawberry pink frosting with the malted milk ball on top. Whatever it was, I am glad I gave in because these were delicious! 

Strawberry Malt Cupcakes
Revised from:
Yields: 33 cupcakes (295 calories each)

Vanilla Malt Cake:
  • 2 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups malted milk powder
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
Strawberry Malt Buttercream:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweetened strawberries, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and malted milk powder and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla extract.
  4. Add sugar and brown sugar to the oil mixture.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and stir until fully combined.
  6. Fill liners 1/2 way and bake for 18-22 minutes or until and inserted knife comes out clean.
  7. butter cream: Beat butter and cream cheese for 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl as needed. Add powdered sugar and malted milt powder. Slowly add strawberry puree until the butter cream reaches your desired consistency. add vanilla extract and let beat.
  8. Pipe butter cream onto cooled cupcakes and top with malt balls.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 115: Six Layer Bars

Today's recipe comes from a cookbook called Sweet Eats that I actually got from a book fair at my child's school several years ago. It has some real good recipes in it and this is one that I have never tried. These Six Layer Bars were a snap to put together and throw in the oven. The hardest part was keeping my husband out of them while they were cooling!

Besides being simple to make, these bars are very versatile. The bottom layer is a graham crust topped with sweetened condensed milk. The other 4 ingredients can be whatever you like. A little bit goes a long way because of the richness and combination of ingredients. Below is the original recipe as well as the changes that I made.

Six Layer Bars
Yield: 24 bars (220 calories each according to my recipe)

  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut flakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir until mixture is evenly moistened; press into a greased 9x13" baking dish.
  2. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumb crust.
  3. Sprinkle the chips, nuts and coconut over the condensed milk.  Using a spatula or your hands, gently press the goodies into the milk.
  4. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool before cutting into squares.
Sharla's changes:
  • I used peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch chips.
  • I only used 1/2 cup pecans.
  • I used 1/2 cup Heath toffee bits in place of the coconut since I don't like coconut.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 114: Mini S'more Cheesecakes

Okay, so today is actually National Cherry Cheesecake Day, but who's keeping track!! I veered off course a little and made Mini S'more Cheesecakes.  It's still cheesecake, right?

And I do realize that I may be overdoing the S'more thing a little lately, but I just can't get enough!  I have one more S'more recipe that I may make this week, and then I will take a break - I promise!!

So, my life has been a little crazy lately - ok, a lot crazy!  I am still dealing with the insurance company over our huge hot water heater mishap which happened 1 month ago tomorrow!!  It's getting a little ridiculous.  We went ahead and had the bedroom carpet ordered and they came to put that in today.  So yesterday was spent moving furniture and everything else out of the boys rooms.  What a mess!  I am waiting to settle the wood floors with insurance before I proceed, because I don't want to cash the check until they have completely paid.  We are a little closer than we were a week ago, when I finally got the adjuster's supervisor involved.  I still have to wait for them to come back out and remeasure so I can prove that there measurements are WRONG!  I have been patient long enough!!  Sorry, it's a very sensitive issue for me, so I just better move on to something else.

I have no cake orders this week which is a good thing since I am getting ready for a garage sale this weekend. I told myself I needed a break, so I won't be taking any new orders for a few weeks.

So, here's the recipe for Mini S'more Cheesecakes.  This is a Pampered Chef recipe from several years ago that a friend introduced me to. 

Mini S'more Cheesecakes
Yield: 24 mini cups (83 calories each)
From: Pampered Chef

  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2-1/2 Hershey's milk chocolate bars (1.55 oz each)
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened (8 oz)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  1. Preheat oven to 325 deg. line mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners
  2. Combine cracker crumbs, 1 tbsp sugar and butter in bowl; stir until moistened. Divide evenly among cups; press into bottom using mini tart shaper. Bake 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place 1-1/2 chocolate bars in a bowl and melt in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.
  4. Add cream cheese and 3 tbsp sugar; beat until smooth.  Blend in egg.
  5. Spoon mixture evenly on top of crust.
  6. Bake 15 minutes or until filling is set (cracked on top like cheesecake).
  7. Remove from oven; press 3 marshmallows into each cup.  Break apart remaining chocolate and cut in halves. Place on half on top of marshmallows.
  8. Bake 3 minutes or until marshmallows and chocolate begin to melt.
  9. Immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Cool before serving and store remaining cups in refrigerator.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 113: National Jelly Bean Day

Today is National Jelly Bean Day. Jelly beans are one of my favorite non-chocolate candies. It's a great snack to have when you just need a little sugar hit. If you stick with the tiny ones or Jelly Bellys, then you can have a serving of 35 beans for 140 calories. Not bad!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 112: National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day

Today has been a good Saturday! Thomas and the boys left last night to go to his parents house in Russellville, so I had a little time to myself.  I started out the day running a 5K here in town. Ran it in 26:30 which isn't my best time, but it is faster than I have been running lately. It was a beautiful morning for a run with cooler temperatures that are fantastic once you get started! After the race, I came home, showered and left for several hours of shopping. It's been a long time since I did that and I enjoyed the solitude and just walking around with no time constraints or kids tagging along.

I spent this evening decorating a cake for a young girl in our youth group. We will celebrate her birthday tomorrow night when the youth group is all together.
While I was in Target this afternoon, I was looking for chocolate covered cashews to eat for my sweet today, since today is National Chocolate Covered Cashew day. I came upon these DeMet's Cashew Turtles. I love chocolate turtles, so what better to have than chocolate and cashews, with some caramel mixed in. They were delicious and two chocolates is only 160 calories. That's not bad as long as you can stop at 2!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 111: S'more Stuffed Brownies

I just can't get enough of S'mores so when I came across this recipe for S'mores Stuffed Brownies at Picky Palate, I knew this would make it into my Sweet Samplings repertoire. 
I made a few changes to the original recipe:
  • I sprinkled 3 tbsp of graham cracker crumbs instead of using whole graham crackers (that's what I had in the pantry). Next time, I will use the whole cracker, because mine didn't quite have the graham taste that I like.
  • I used 10 fun size Hershey bars (they worked fine - you can see them in the middle of the brownie)
  • Instead of 16 large marshmallows, I used 1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows. I don't think this makes a difference either way because the marshmallow melts during baking and leaves a fudgey brownie layer on top.
This is definitely a recipe worth keeping!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 110: Chocolate Cupcakes for Baby Williams

Tonight was girls night to celebrate with my friend Wendy who is expecting her 4th baby. We had an awesome group of ladies meet at Mike's Place for dinner and to honor the unborn baby Williams.  We had a great night of food, fun and fellowship! Of course, every baby needs to be welcomed with some fun cupcakes!  I made these chocolate cupcakes in honor of the occasion. 
This is my go to chocolate cupcake recipe that I make for birthday or holiday orders. I have tested many recipes to find the right one and this is it. I would love to share it with you, but then my clients might start making these themselves instead of ordering from me. My lips are sealed!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 109: National Animal Crackers Day

Happy Animal Cracker's Day to you! Animal crackers are such a fun treat for kids of all ages - even grown ups! They come in regular, iced, and even in chocolate now.

The Stauffer's brand are my favorite - they are crunchy and not too sweet. They are a great snack at 120 calories for 1 serving of 16 cookies.

Why are animal cracker's called crackers when they are really cookies? I googled this and this is what Wiki.answers said:

Because they make a loud 'crack' when you break them.
Animal crackers are 'crackers' in the shapes of animals, many brands of which are sweetened. There is debate about whether or not animal crackers are actually crackers or cookies. They are like crackers due to the way they are made, with layered dough, but the ones made with sweetened dough are more like cookies. The original version, made by Nabisco in 1902, were crackers in decorative little boxes meant to hang on Christmas trees.
So there you have it!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 108: Yum Yum Brownies

The Yum Yum Brownies that I made today came from Hungry Girl on the Food Network. Her show airs on Sunday mornings so I turn it on while I am getting ready for church. She uses food substitutions to make meals with fewer calories and fat. There are several grocery items that I keep in my pantry that I was introduced to from her show and through her books.
I saw this recipe about one month ago and have wanted to try it ever since.  It is so easy with only 2 ingredients. All you need is a devils food cake mix and a can of pumpkin purée. I know, I was skeptical at first too. Is it going to taste like pumpkin? Absolutely not! I tasted the batter and it was delicious and the baked product is dense like a muffin but soft like a cupcake. They don't look very pretty, because the batter is so thick but the taste makes up for the look! At only 185 calories each, it is the perfect snack when you need a chocolate hit or great for a breakfast muffin. Try it and let me know what you think. You can see her recipe at

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 107: Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

I only pick out and bake with recipes that I think will turn out successful, so when something doesn't turn out just right, it is very disappointing! Today's sweet turned out that way for me. Some of you have expressed to me that you think everything I make turns out great, so this goes to show you that we all flop some time in the kitchen!

I baked Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes from Martha Stewart Cupcakes. I was looking forward to this chocolate peanut butter combination in a cupcake that required no frosting. First off, I must not have swirled the two flavors together enough because the tops just came off the cupcake after removing from the pan. Second, they tasted more like a muffin with a dense texture instead of a moist, fluffy cupcake. All in all, I considered it a flop although Thomas said they tasted fine to him. I won't even take the time to share the recipe since I won't be making these again.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 106: My latest cakes

Here are a few of my latest cakes:

I made this birthday cake for a sweet girl in my middle school class at church.  She was wanting something to match a pattern similar to her bedspread.  I did what I could and I think she was happy with it.

This cake was for my boss's birthday. He is an outdoor kind of guy who loves to hunt and fish, so this matches his personality. It was a lot of fun to make. The rocks were edible.

This cake was for our youth minister who is leaving to go back to Texas. We wanted to let him know that he is definitely leaving the promised land (Arkansas) to head back to Texas. I also made a cake covered in fondant and had all the youth group kids sign it with edible markers.  It turned out real well but I don't have a photo of it yet.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 105: Mini Pecan Cups

First of all, let me apologize for missing yesterday's post. I had to work later than usual and then had to hurry off to a late night lock-in with our middle school church kids. There was no kitchen time for me yesterday. I will say that I made up for it today. I started out in the kitchen at 8:15 this morning and just finished up around 9:00 this evening. Other than an hour run this afternoon, I never left the kitchen.

The kitchen is my most favorite room in my house! There are times that it can get tiring and overwhelming, but I love baking and creating food masterpieces. I have also come to love sharing it with you in this blog as well as sharing the actual food itself. Running is when I come up with most of my ideas. During today's run, I came up with a design for some cupcakes and a cake that I am making this week for a baby shower and a birthday. I also thought up a new parenting idea for some issues that we are struggling with. How productive - exercise, stress relief, and organization all at one time!!!

I made 2 cakes today for a going away party for our youth minister. One is a vanilla flavored multi colored layer cake covered in fondant that I am going to have the kids sign with edible paint markers. The other is a chocolate layered cake decorated so that he will realize how much he will miss Arkansas. I have several cake pictures that I have done in the past few weeks that I would love to share with you, so hopefully I will get those posted this week. 
My dessert for today is Mini Pecan Cups to celebrate National Pecan Day. I love pecans and this recipe came from my mom. I have always loved it - the crust is flaky and the sweet pecan goodness oozes out when you bite into it. And there's nothing better than bite size goodies. I love anything that is mini. The only negative is that it usually takes longer to bake individual things as opposed to something in a big pan, but I don't mind.

Mini Pecan cups
Recipe from: My mom
Yields: 5 dozen (115 calories each)

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 8 oz light cream cheese, softened
  • 3 sticks butter, at room temp.
  • 1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
  1. Pre heat oven to 325 deg. Lightly spray mini muffin pans with cooking spray
  2. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, butter and flour together; chill for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile in another medium bowl, combine brown sugar, egg, and butter; whisk together. Stir in vanilla and pecans.
  4. Using a tablespoon, roll dough into 60 balls and press each into prepared pans using mini tart shaper. Fill with 1 tsp of pecan mixture.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust begins to brown. Cool slightly and remove from pans.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 103: S'more Poundcake Panini

I am going out with the girls tonight to dinner and a concert, so I wanted to make something quick and easy this afternoon.  If you don't already know, I am obsessed with s'mores. I just love the combination of graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate. This recipe for S'more Pound cake Panini is right up my alley.

I started with frozen Sara Lee pound cake and sliced off 2 pieces about 1/4" thick.  Spread 1 tbsp of Nutella on 1 piece and then sprinkle about 12-15 mini marshmallows on top of the Nutella.  Top with the other slice of pound cake. Lightly spray with butter flavored Pam. To give it the grill marks unique to paninis, I cooked mine on my George Foreman grill for about 2-3 minutes. You can also cook on a skillet or griddle just like you would a grill cheese sandwich.

I made one for me and one for Camdyn, because he is my S'more buddy. He likes S'mores as much as I do, if not more! These were so good and so simple - soft buttery pound cake with the gooey marshmallow and yummy Nutella.  Simply divine!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 102: Cookie Dough Pita

Long, busy day today with no time to be in the kitchen. Ate dinner out at Pitza 42 and enjoyed sharing a cookie dough pita for dessert. You need to try one if you never have!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 101: National Cinnamon Crescent Day

Today, I thought a lot about what I could do differently to a plain, old cinnamon crescent. I was still trying to piece it together as I was in the process of making it. Think about it: crescent rolls, cream cheese, honey, cinnamon and sugar. The thought of those combinations makes me squeal with excitement!

We indulged in these fresh from the oven - hot and fresh with the cream cheese & honey filling and the slight hint of cinnamon! Scrumdiddlyumptious!

Filled Cinnamon Crescent Rolls
From: Sweet Samplings
Yield: 4 pastries (240 calories each)

  • 1 can refrigerated reduced fat crescent rolls
  • 2 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Cinnamon sugar mixture

  1. Unroll crescent dough and separate at perforations.
  2. Blend together cream cheese and honey until smooth. Divide evenly between 4 of the dough triangles and spread evenly.
  3. Place the other 4 triangles on top of cream cheese topped dough. Crimp edges with a fork. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  4. Turn dough over, sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar and roll up crescent roll style; place on baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 375 deg for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Enjoy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 100: Homemade Marshmallows

Happy 100 days of blogging to me! Wow, how time flies when you're having fun!! I hope you have as much fun reading it as I do baking and writing it.  I hope I have inspired you to try some new recipes and and maybe even found some new favorites.
For today's sweet, I am sharing with you something that I have wanted to make for a long time - Homemade  Vanilla Marshmallows. I mentioned to my husband what I was making and he was kind of speechless and befuzzled! He assumed that marshmallows were only sold in bags in the grocery store and had no idea that they could be made in my very own kitchen.

I have seen shows on TV that show how marshmallow is made and it always looks so sticky and time consuming. Until I saw a post on Sweetapolita where she made Homemade Puffy Cloud S'mores. I decided to just borrow the marshmallow recipe portion from the s'mores and give it a try.

My idea that it would be time consuming and messy was surprisingly wrong. It was very easy and only took about 20 minutes to make. This is definitely a plan-ahead recipe, because the marshmallow has to set for 6 hours after cooking. I was really wanting to flavor these with extract, but for my first time, I wanted to keep them the normal vanilla flavor to compare them to the store bought version. I really enjoyed eating these. The flavor was great and the texture was light and fluffy.  Definitely better than store bought. 

This would not be one of those recipes that I would make very often, but I will try this again and use some sort of flavoring other than vanilla. It would be fun to cut into shapes with cookie cutters for a fun occasion or holiday!

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallow
Yield: About 2 dozen 1-1/2" mallows

*the bloom
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water

*the syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

*the mallowing
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Classic Coating (below), plus more for dusting

  1. Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour into the mixer bowl. Set the mixer speed to low and keep it running.
  4. When the syrup reaches 240°F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla; finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Pour it into the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to smooth it into the corners. Sift coating evenly and generously over top. Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.
  5. Use knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into whatever size pieces you wish (a pizza cutter works great for squares). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting off the excess.
  6. Super vanilla-ize these mallows by adding a scraped vanilla bean or dab of pure vanilla bean paste along with the vanilla extract.

Classic Coating: 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar + 1 cup cornstarch or potato starch
Sift the ingredients together in a large bowl or combine them in a food processor.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Day 99: Oreo Stuffed Brownies

Happy Easter to everyone!  What a beautiful day today has been. Church service this morning was inspiring and a great reminder of Jesus' sacrifice and love for us. Spent the afternoon at home planting my garden and doing a little baking - very relaxing and therapeutic. 
Today I baked Oreo Stuffed Brownies. Oreos are good and brownies are good, so Oreos and brownies together are just chocolatey goodness! I started with a Ghiradelli brownie mix that makes up an 8-inch square pan. Spray a muffin pan very liberally with cooking spray. Scoop 1 tbsp of batter into bottom of each cup, place Oreo cookie on top of batter, and spoon one more tbsp of batter on top of Oreo and cover cookie completely. Bake at 350 deg. for 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately run a knife around edges to loosen. Let sit in pan for 5 minutes then remove and place on cooling rack to cool completely. 

This recipe made 14 brownies at 260 calories each. Not very calorie friendly, but they are very rich, so one should satisfy your sweet tooth!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Day 98: Date Night

Today has been a very productive day. Since I ran last night, I decided to hit the gym first thing this morning for weight training class. Morning exercise is not my thing but it feels good to get it over with and get my day started.

For the rest of the morning and afternoon, I mulched my flower bed and then Thomas and I cleaned out the garage. It's amazing how much junk piles up. Can't wait to clean and purge the rest of the house. I was hoping to plant my vegetable garden but that will have to happen tomorrow.

This evening was our date night. We have started scheduling a once a month date night and it has been really fun. Tonight, we went to Ya Ya's bistro in Little Rock where we indulged in a molten brownie covered in crispy phyllo dough topped with ice cream. Cutting into it caused a flow of hot melted chocolate! (Sorry, I meant to take a picture but we devoured it before I realized it!) It was so good! After dinner, we did a little shopping and enjoyed hanging out at Barnes & Noble. Fabulous ending to a great day!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 97: National Caramel Popcorn Day

Cracker Jack is the most notable brand of the caramel corn family. It was one of my dad's favorite snack foods when I was growing up. I liked the caramel corn and the prize, but I didn't like the peanuts. Cracker Jack seems to be making a comeback in the stores, but the prizes these days are far from exciting. They are just downright ridiculous.

These days, I prefer butter toffee popcorn to the caramel popcorn. As the name implies, it is a buttery toffee tasting popcorn, as opposed to the burnt caramel taste from the caramel corn. But since today is National Caramel Popcorn Day, I decided to try out a new recipe.

The recipe I tried is called Caramel Easter Popcorn, but since the caramel didn't harden on the popcorn, I decided to make Caramel Easter Popcorn Balls instead. They actually turned out very yummy. Instead of a crunchy coating on the popcorn, it is a gooey, sweet coating which is just as fabulous! When life gives you soggy popcorn, make popcorn balls!
Caramel Easter Popcorn

  • 6 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped salted pretzels
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • Food coloring, if desired
  • 1 cup Robin Eggs, M&M's, or other candy
  1. In a large bowl, combine popcorn and pretzels. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, salt and water to a boil over medium high heat. Boil, undisturbed, until mixture is amber in color, for about 8-12 minutes.
  2. Remove pan from heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up. Stir until smooth, then add the vanilla, marshmallows and food coloring if desired. Stir until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth.
  3. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pretzels and gently stir with a rubber spatula until popcorn is well coated. Stir in the candy. Transfer mixture to a large baking sheet; let cool completely.
Sharla's notes:
  • I used Orville Redenbacher Natural 50% less salted popcorn.
  • I believe the reason my caramel didn't set up was because I may not have cooked it long enough. It also didn't have as much of the caramel flavor, probably because the sugar didn't cook long enough. 
  • I used Robin Eggs, because I really like them, but use whatever you like.
  • I used pink food coloring.
  • If your caramel doesn't set up on the popcorn, just roll into balls.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 96: Homemade Vanilla Malt

What a busy and long week this has been! Glad tomorrow is Friday! I came home from work exhausted, so much so that I skipped my run tonight. I stayed home with Nick and helped him pour 200 pounds of sand bags into his new basketball goal. That was a workout in itself!

Thomas and Camdyn went out on a group ride but didn't get very far due to their first wipe out! Scared me silly when Camdyn called me to let me know, but thankfully they are both fine! Thomas is pretty banged up with some bad road rash. He will be sore for a while.

Since I was feeling pretty lazy, I was struggling with what to make for my sweet today. I opened the freezer to scoop a bowl of frozen yogurt and it hit me - vanilla malts! I had some leftover malt powder from the nougat that I made the other day and I knew Thomas would love one too. So, I waited until the boys went to bed and got started. Several scoops of yogurt, about 1/2 a cup of milk, and some malt powder. Blend with my Kitchenaid immersion blender and there you have it - a homemade vanilla malt better than the drive thru. And probably a little more calorie friendly!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 95: Sunflower Peeps Cake

Today, I made an Easter themed cake using Peeps. I was given this idea from a link that was sent to me by a new friend (thanks Leah!). It was a lot of fun to make and turned out so cute. In my opinion, Peeps are a must have at Easter time. They are now made for several other holidays as well, but there's just something about the yellow chicks that draws me in!
I tried a new yellow cake recipe for the cake part. Yellow cake for me is not necessarily something I am typically interested in, unless it is paired with chocolate frosting. It turned out very moist and delicious. It uses the process of whipping cream to soft peaks and folding it in to the batter, which I usually shy away from, but I am glad I took the time to try it. The recipe can be found on The Cookie Madness blog.

The cake is made to look like a sunflower. For the decorating, I frosted the sides green and the top brown or chocolate. Using 4 boxes of yellow Peeps, place them around the outside edges of the top of the cake. Sprinkle chocolate sprinkles in the center and that's it. Simple and so cute!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 94: National Chocolate Mousse Day

There's nothing like a cool, creamy cup of fluffy and light chocolate mousse. Especially if it only takes 5 minutes or less to make. Here's the secret: take 2 individual pudding snack packs and spoon into a bowl. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping. Spoon into serving cups and refrigerate until ready to eat. Yummy, quick and easy! Just the way I needed it since I have only been home for about 1 hour all day. Off to bed to sleep thru this rainy, stormy night.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 93: Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

Today is National Peanut Butter and Jelly day. I will tell you that I am a fan of peanut butter but not so much the jelly part. I am particularly fond of peanut butter and honey. In fact, I buy it already mixed like that - it is so much easier. It is great on bagels, pitas, and just plain old bread.

When I saw that today was peanut butter and jelly day, I knew I wanted to do something different, not just a sandwich. That's not dessert! I recalled seeing a recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly cookies at I came home for lunch today and made these cookies on my lunch break. That's how quick and easy they are. And the peanut butter cookie alone would be awesome with some peanut butter and chocolate chips or reeses mixed in. It was soft and peanut butterey and delicious. Since I am not a jelly fan, I could have lived without that, but it kind of gave a new dimension to a plain peanut butter cookie!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
Yield: 29 cookies (160 calories each)

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup jelly (any flavor)
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  1. Pre heat oven to 375 deg. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine shortening, peanut butter, both sugars, milk and vanilla; beat on medium speed until just combined.
  3. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls with hands. Place on ungreased baking sheets and press into the centers with thumbs to form divots. In each divot, place 1/4 tsp of jelly and 1/4 tsp of peanut butter. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes; let cool.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 92: Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

Other than Peeps and jelly beans, I think the candy that most often comes to mind when I think of Easter is Cadbury Creme Eggs. Even though I don't really like them (they are way too sweet!), the Cadbury bunny is a staple around Easter time. So when I saw this post on My Baking Addiction, I knew this was on my "to do" list of Easter baking recipes, especially since Thomas really likes the creme eggs. I did half of them with the mini caramel eggs since I prefer those. I brought these to our church potluck this morning. Needless to say, there were none left to bring home. I figured that would be the case, so I kept 2 at home for Thomas and I to feast on tonight. They were yummy and turned out so cute!
I have linked the recipe to the cupcake decoration above. You can use any chocolate cupcake recipe or even a cake mix. My favorite chocolate cake recipe is from the King Arthur Flour website. It works great whether made into a cake or cupcakes. It is very moist with a light crumb and not too dense. I add a combination of regular and dark cocoa powder to give it a more chocolatey flavor as opposed to a milk chocolate flavor.