Monday, January 30, 2012

Bake Me Happy...Thin Mint CookieTruffles

Easy Thin Mint Truffles

I did a bad, bad thing. 

I bought a box of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies...and then I ate them.  The whole. stinking. box!  Yup, I sure did. 

And you know what else?  I don't feel bad about it.  I have NO guilt!  NONE!  With every bite I took, I reminded myself that I was supporting a great society by eating them.  A society that EMPOWERS girls to do get involved in their community and to help others.  So essentially, I was helping others by eating cookies.  I like the way that sounds, don't you? 

And since I am SUCH an awesome supporter of the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies Society, I not only bought from one Girl Scout but TWO!  Yea, I'm awesome like that.  Which means that I now have enough cookies to feed a small army. 

My first thought was to freeze them in hopes that I would forget about them but quickly realized that the freezer only makes the cookies cold which actually inhanced the flavor.  UGH!  This simply will not do!  I CAN NOT have these in my home or I will proceed to eat every last box of them necessitating the need for more TRX classes (which you can read about here).  Again...this simply will NOT do!

Soooo....I had to come up with something I could do with them ASAP! 

And I did what any good food blogger would do.

I jumped on Pinterest. 

Oh yea I did!  Then I proceeded to waste an hour of my life looking at all the things that other people create and suddenly felt inadequate.  So I soothed myself with a few more Thin Mint Cookies...again HELPING a great society.  Did you know that there are like a meell-ion recipes out there for Thin Mint cookies?  I had NO idea!    GHAH!

I came across one for Thin Mint Truffles and knew that those were the ones to make (mostly because its the only one I had all the ingredients for).

Add then I made them...and we ate them! 

End of story!

So heres the recipe...Now go make your own and be a GREAT supporter of the Girl Scouts!

Easy Thin Mint Cookie Truffles
  • 1 (9 ounce) package Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies, divided
  • 1 (4 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER’S Dark Chocolate Baking Chocolate, melted
  • Crush cookies to fine crumbs in food processor. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.)   Add cream cheese; mix until well blended.
  • Roll cookie mixture into balls, about 1-inch in diameter.  Place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Dip balls in chocolate using toothpicks; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs or your favorite sprinkles immediately after dipping.
  • Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator. Yea, like there will be an left to store.  Uhm...NOT!
So tell me, what do you do with your Girl Scout cookies?  Do you just eat them straight from the box or do you conjur up some new recipe?

You may find this post partying in the following places:

I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom), Friday Favorites (Simply Sweet Home), Latest & Greatest Friday (Days of Chalk and Chocolate), Bacon Time, Fusion Friday (Jane Deere Blog). 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bake Me Happy - Cinnnamon Chip Banana Bread

Best Banana Bread EVER
(infused with Cinnamon Chips)

So I baked banana bread...and then Gremlins ate it. 

True Story.

I had the intentions of getting up this morning and taking pictures of my beautiful creation whilst the morning sunlight was streaming though the windows casting a sort-of "ethereal" glow. 

That didn't happen.

Instead, I got up this morning and this is what was left.

WTH?  Do I have gremlins that sneak into my kitchen at night and devour my food while I sleep?

I'm seriously concerned about this now people.  When I left the kitchen last, there were only TWO slices missing...TWO!  This morning I come in and there are only two slices REMAINING! 

Ummm....I am hopeful that this bread was so stinking good that the 3 men in my life could not resist the temptation to WAIT until I was able to take some photos of it and that I do not need to be concerned about midnight prowlers in my kitchen.

And that is what I am going to go with...that this is the BEST banana bread EVER! 

How did it come to be you ask? 

Well, I had 3 rotten bananas sitting in my fruit basket. My intention was to make chocolate chip banana bread; however, when I went to get out my chocolate chips.  There were none.  I'm blaming that one on my gremlins too.  It wasn't me that ate them...I swear it!  Instead, I found a leftover bag of cinnamon chips from when I baked these.  Yumm-ERS!

So I tossed in a cup of the cinnamon chips and there you have it folks...the Best Banana Bread EVER!

Cinnamon Chip Banana Bread
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 c. sugar
¼ c light butter – softened
3 mashed, ripe bananas
¼ c. milk
¼ sour cream
2 large egg whites
1 c. wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ c. cinnamon chips (optional)

1.       Preheat oven to 350°.
2.       Combine sugar and butter in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add banana, milk, sour cream, and egg whites; beat well, and set aside.
3.       Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating until blended.
4.       Spoon batter into 4 (5 x 2 1/2-inch) miniature loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Let cool completely on wire racks.
5.       Note: To make one 9-inch loaf, spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350ยบ for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Yield: 1 loaf, 20 servings (serving size: 1 slice).
You may find this post partying in the following places:

I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom), Friday Favorites (Simply Sweet Home), Latest & Greatest Friday (Days of Chalk and Chocolate), Bacon Time, Fusion Friday (Jane Deere Blog). 

Monday, January 23, 2012

First project of 2012 - FINISHED!!

Painting the Front Door

Cue the angels singing...I have FINISHED the front door!  My first project of 2012 COMPLETE!  Wow...gosh...I just didn't think it would ever happen.  Oh my gosh...who do I thank first?  Let me husband, Mr. AKM for always standing by me and supporting me when I'm being so totally OCD that no one else can stand kids for telling me that the color is AWESOME even though they would prefer that I paint it camouflage or orange or any other color besides turquoise blue :)  But most importantly I want to thank Wagner for making the most incredible paint sprayer like EVER!  Seriously, having that paint sprayer made this project soooo totally worth my time!  LOVE IT!  You can read all about this little piece of paint spray heaven here.  It took me all of 10 minutes TOPS to paint this door.  It sprayed on like velvet.  2 coats and it was over...I almost felt a little cheated that I didn't get to spend more time getting to know my paint sprayer better. 

So here is a before in case you forgot what it looked like...

and now...lots of photo love for you....

Remember these nasty scratches???

TOTALLY GONE!  Isn't that awesome?  I so love this color!  I want EVERY door in my house this color! 

Check it out in all it's glory...

I love how the colors from the rug are all tied together now.  I was a bit nervous when I saw the door finished leaning against the wall in the garage but having it hung up in my entry...I. AM. IN. LU-OVE!  I just love the pop of color it gives to the space don't you?

So tell me, what do you think of it?  Do you think you could bring a bright pop of color to an area in your home?

You may find this post partying in the following places:

I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom), Friday Favorites (Simply Sweet Home), Latest & Greatest Friday (Days of Chalk and Chocolate), Bacon Time, Fusion Friday (Jane Deere Blog).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Organization = Life Simplified

Dry Erase Love
(meal planning…SIMPLIFIED)

Dry Erase...its like the greatest thing EVER invented.  I mean seriously...who doesn't love it?  Its a board that you can write on and wipe off of endlessly.  There is NO waste involved what-so-ever.  See!  It's even ECO friendly.  Sooo many reasons to love dry erase boards.  My reason for loving THIS dry erase board is because it makes it easy for me to plan our weekly meals...and if something changes (as it always seems to) I can just wipe it off and write in the "update" to our menu.  SO SIMPLE!  I don't have to print out a new menu sheet or have to deal with cross outs (I'm fairly anal about things like that).  Its like whatever was there before never. even. existed!  Sah-weet!

I know that everyone loves to make printouts to help keep themselves organized and I'm all up in that too but I found that I never really "did" print out that menu planner that I created.  I was always writing it on a sticky note and slapping it on the fridge and then it would fall off and slide under the fridge.  I got kind of tired of getting down on my hands and knees and looking under the fridge to see what was on the dinner menu for Thursday night.  It wasn't fun people.  And lets face knees aren't as young as they used to be so that tile floor was getting a bit hard for me to handle.  

So the other day when I was wandering around Target all by my lonesome, I found myself wandering down the calendar isle (I have a mild addiction to day planners...but that's a whole different story).  When out of the corner of my eye, I spy this.

I knew in an instant that it was meant to be mine.  We were destined to be one.  Love at first site.  I will not lie, the first thing that caught my attention was the pink and the red of it all.
The 2nd thing that caught my eye...the price tag!  For $6.99 I could own this little piece of pink, red and white dry erase heaven AND it comes with a pad of paper for me to stick on the fridge next to it or under it or wherever I want to keep track of the grocery items that I need!  SCORE!  Dry erase AND a pad of paper...its a total win / win in my book! 

Just check it out in it's new home...

Maybe it's because love is in the air with Valentines Day coming and all but there was just something about the pink and red flowers that drew me in.  Are you feeling the love too??


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shut the Front Door!

Painting the Front Door
(making progress or is it progress in the making?)

So when does a project ever go as planned?  Uhm, like NEVER!  I thought that choosing the front door as my first project of 2012 would be a smart, easy project to undertake.  That was my first mistake...thinking.  Ugh!  

So it started of pretty plain and simple.  Take the door off the hinges, remove all hardware and start sanding.  This went off without a hitch, for the most part.  I started using 120 grit sand paper to take the finish off but quickly realized that the people who owned our home before us must've put like 20 layers of shellac on this baby.  Jeesh!  So I busted out some 80 grit paper and went to town again.  After about an hour of this, I removed as much of the shellac as I was going to be able to.  Then it was time to start filling in all the lovely gouges that my dog left for me.  How sweet he is...

This part too went off without a hitch.  I just used some standard wood filler and slapped it on there with a putty knife.  Easy breezy lemon squeezy.  Then I let it dry and sanded it again.  I think I may have developed tendonitis in my right shoulder from using my palm sander a little too much...if you know-what-i-mean :)

So that part was finished.  The door went back on the hinges to wait for my much anticipated paint sprayer to arrive. 

The paint sprayer arrived in the middle of the week…then Mr. AKM ditched us for the weekend alas I had to WAIT (I do not wait well when I have a project that I want to finish).  So Sunday arrived and so too did Mr. AKM.  Squeals!  I danced around like a little girl that needed to go to the potty whilst I waited (impatiently) for him to take the door back down again so that I could start that painting process.

Sir grumpiness with the door, kindly (yea, right) taping the windows up for me so I can spray on the 1st coat of primer.

His back is to the camera because he DID NOT have a smile on his face...but I was all kinds of filled with giggles and giddiness.  Can you see my paint sprayer on the tool chest to the right?  Yea...such excitement!

Whilst he was finishing the taping I busted into my paint sprayer to put it all together and get it ready for priming.  I filled up the little paint can with primer.  This is the stuff I used.  Valspar Multi-purpose primer.

I have found it to be the best stuff EVER for priming just about anything but especially slick surfaces like this (thanks previous owners for the shellac covered door).  It says that you don't have to sand...but obviously I needed to.

So back to the paint gun...I got it all put together and then realized that something wasn't right.   The spray nozzle did not look like what was in the picture. After further inspection, I realized that it was missing the air cap...the very piece that is needed to adjust the spray.  (Insert small temper tantrum here).  By this point, I no longer have a smile on my face.  I am quite devastated to be honest.  After I beat myself up for not checking the contents of the box when it arrived, I decided to move forward with priming my door the old fashioned way...brushes and foam rollers BAY-BEEE.  

So that is what it looks like as of today...but reattached to my front door.  It's a work in progress.  I have spoken to the wonderful people at about the missing piece from my paint sprayer and they are rushing it to me ASAP!  LOVE THEM!

With a hope and a prayer, this door will soon look like this...



Stay tuned for more! I promise to show you the big reveal next week!

Do you have any projects that take longer than you expected?  I'd love to hear about know misery loves company and all :)


Monday, January 16, 2012

Bake Me Happy...Butter Vanilla Cake

Butter Vanilla Cake
(with Semi-sweet chocolate frosting)

So Mr. AKM ditched the fam and went out of town this past weekend to help my dad move his deer camp from one lease to another.  From what I understand, they both worked their butts off to get it done in two short days. (snort).  Um, yea….ok.  Thats why 2 cases of beer disappeared.  I’m sure their right bicep was extremely sore from lifting those bottles of beer.   Soooo….exhausting.    

He came home on Sunday all scruffy faced (I guess razors don’t work in a deer cabin???), smelly (uhm, shower please) and grumpy!  It was nice to have him home…really it was.  Well, until the grumpy part really took hold.  He was all snippy and snappy and really REALLY SNARKY!  NOT COOL!  He dumped us for the weekend to fend for ourselves.  It was tough people!  We were forced to dine on pizza and ice cream and to stay up late watching movies.  What else were we supposed to do?  The daddy guy was GONE!  There were no rules.  So we got a little wild, I admit it!  And then he had the gall to come home and be GRUMPY and totally harsh our mellow?  It was wrong I tell you!  I had to put my foot down and let him have it. 

I did what any rational woman would do in this situation to calm her savage beast. 

I made cake.  Not just any cake, but his all time FAVORITE cake. 

Rich, buttery vanilla cake with a semi-sweet chocolate frosting.  OH YUM!  Some people may call it a yellow cake, but it looks more vanilla than yellow to me, plus my man really likes the taste of vanilla so I punched up the cake with an extra tablespoon of vanilla extract to help take the flavor of it over the top.  It worked!

He took one bite of this cake and instantly became a calm, balanced person again. 

End of story.

So the moral of this story is…the truest way to a man’s heart…really IS through his stomach.  True story.  Go try it today, or the next time your man harshes your mellow.

Butter Vanilla Cake:
2 sticks (1 c.) butter, softened
1½ c. all-purpose flour
1½ c. cake flour
1 T. baking powder
½ t.. salt
1¾ c. sugar
4 large eggs
2 T. vanilla extract
1¼ c. milk

Semi-sweet Chocolate Frosting:
1 lb. semisweet chocolate chips
6 T. Dark Chocolate cocoa powder
6 T. boiling water
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ c. powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt

1.  To make the cakes, preheat oven to 350˚ degrees.  Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.  Butter and flour the edges of the pans, tapping out the excess; set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk together to blend well and set aside.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.

3.  Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pans to help remove the cakes.  Invert the cakes onto the rack and peel off the parchment.  Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.  

Frosting Directions:

To make the frosting, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 25-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until the cocoa is dissolved.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, powdered sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add the melted chocolate; beat on low speed until combined, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the cocoa mixture until well blended.  (Note: My frosting was still a bit runny for decorating at this point.  I let it cool longer before frosting the cake so it could firm up slightly.)

To assemble the cake, level each cake and then cut each cake in half.  Place one of the cake layers on a serving platter.  Top with 1 cup of the chocolate frosting and smooth over the top of the cake.  Repeat 2 more times, topping with the remaining cake layer.  Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting as desired.  Add sprinkles!  Refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.  Let come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

You may find this post partying in the following places:

I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom), Friday Favorites (Simply Sweet Home), Latest & Greatest Friday (Days of Chalk and Chocolate), Bacon Time, Fusion Friday (Jane Deere Blog)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Say it don't spray it...

Paint Sprayer
(Wagner HVLP Conversion Paint Sprayer)

Mama got a new toy!  WOOOHOOOO!   I can not WAIT to bust this bad boy out and start spray painting EVERYTHING in my house.  Not even the kids or the dogs are safe from this new toy.  Be very, very afraid!

Wagner HVLP Conversion Gun  - click to enlarge

Just looking at this paint sprayer makes me want to go all Tim the Tool Man Taylor with his manly Uh, Uh, UH grunts.  Don't laugh...I had NO idea how to spell that sound out.  LOL!  But if you know Tim the Tool Man, then you KNOW the grunt I am referring too :)

My front door is about to meet its new coat of paint by way of this very sprayer!  SQUEALS!  I can not WAIT to see how it works.  I'm so very excited! 

And if it is a monumental failure, you will understand my absence while I mourn in peace. 

Until then, may your head be filled with visions of spray painted Happiness!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bake me Happy - Dark Chocolate Brownies

Dark Chocolate Brownies
(infused with Raspberries and White Chocolate)

Are you the type of person to make the same New Years Resolution every year?  You know the one…the one that says that THIS. IS. THE. YEAR. that I will get in shape and lose weight.  Do you do that?  I do!  I always resolve that I will give up desserts but then that makes me all stressed out and unhappy.  You do know that desserts spelled backwards is stressed right?  I consider that to be a sign myself.  It doesn’t take much to make me give up on that resolution now does it?  HECK NO!  But!  I have made a valiant effort this time to get in shape…and I don’t mean the shape of an apple.  I do choose to go for a more hour-glass type of shape.  I don’t need to get all twiggy as I would have to give up food entirely and work out 12 hours a day to obtain that figure…and I still believe that I would look more “roundish” than “twiggish” even if I did the above mentioned types of torture to myself.  NOT COOL! 

However, I did start my resolution well before the New Year came into play this time.  I did this through December to help combat all the “holiday” eating that I succumbed too.  It’s a new type of torture.  They call it TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise).  I call it the Try Really (hard to not die) Exercise.  It’s CRAZY HARD!  Its 45 minutes of butt busting, sweat pouring, can I actually die doing this, don’t laugh at me for crying kind of hard.  But I. LOVE. IT!  Yes, it’s true…I admit it.  Even though I have spent the better part of a month walking around like Gumby with every single inch (to include my hair follicles) hurting.  Note to self:  Don’t ever let yourself get so out of shape that your body hurts like this again.  Got it!?

So….while I was having one of my moments during TRX that caused my eyes to water because the sweat that was dripping into them was stinging…NO…I WAS NOT CRYING (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)…a thought popped into my head.  It was the thought of super rich, ooey gooey dark chocolate brownies infused with raspberries and white chocolate and drizzled with more dark chocolate.  OH. EM. GEE!  Suddenly my eyes were “stinging” a little less…my butt was “lifting” a little higher and the “Burpies” (an actual form of exercise) were a touch easier to do.   I kept telling myself that if I could just make it to the end I would treat myself to just a bite of one of these decadent treats.  One measly little bite…I can do this!  *Do not judge me for my thoughts.  It beats sitting in the corner in the fetal position sucking my thumb crying for my mommy now doesn't it*  Alas, I survived yet another series of Try Really (hard to not die) Exercise.

Thus the brownies came to be. 

It started with my all time favorite brownie recipe.  You can find it here on King Arthur Flour's Website.  Then a jar of this...

     And a bag of these....

I love Ghirardelli chocolate don't you? 
So just whip up your favorite brownie recipe...or you can use the boxed kind.  In a pinch my go to brownie in a box is Ghirardelli's Double Chocolate.  I can't tell the difference between that and the homemade stuff so if your feeling lazy or just prefer the boxed stuff thats ok! 
Once you have your brownie batter all mixed up, add about a cup of the white chocolate chips in.

Mix it all up and pour the batter into your favorite pan.  My all time favorite is this one from Chicago Metallics.

Do you have one like this?  If not you simply MUST go get one now before going any further.  Its ok, I'll wait for you.  Go on.  This pan makes the BEST brownies ever if your addicted to the corners like my family is.  Every. Single. Brownie. has FOUR corners to enjoy.  Count that...FOUR!  YUM! 

So now that you've got your brownie batter in the pan, heat up about 1/4 cup of the Raspberry Preserves in the microwave to "loosen" the consistency.  You don't want it runny just a little smoother than straight from the jar.
Then drop them here and there by tablespoons on to your batter like so...

After that drag a knife through the batter to "infuse" the raspberry preserves into it.

Pop them in the oven according to the brownie baking directions and pace the floor while you wait for them to finish baking.  You'll want to pace for the full time as it burns calories so that you can eat more brownies.  This step is VERY important!
Let them cool, remove from pan and proceed to eat as many as you can with a glass of ice cold milk, or coffee or even a glass of wine.

But most of all...Enjoy them!

So tell me, what do you dream up during your killer work-outs...or just killer days in general.  Do you dream up new recipes or decorating ideas?  I'd love to hear about them!

You may find this post partying in the following places:

Thursday:  Delightful Order


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