Dec 2 2012

Christmas Card photos and Shutterfly giveaway!!!

What makes for a great christmas card… The photos of course!  I love photography as much as I love baking (a big reason why I started this blog in the first place it is a fun way to do both)

So on to talking about one of my favorite things about the christmas season- the CARDS…sending and receiving :)  Some years I will make my own homemade papercrafted cards and some years I use Shutterfly.com.  I have never been disappointed with Shutterfly.

As I said at the begining what makes for a great card is in fact the picture.  I have had years where we did the usual family with Santa,  family in front of the tree, or a  family vacation picture, but I think my favorite card picture was last year where I tried to think a little more outside the box.  I had just started doing pinterest not long before I started thinking about our card picture and saw a cute idea for making a backdrop using Christmas lights and a sheet both of which I happened to have just lying around then I grabbed some cardboard letters to spell JOY and gave them to my girls to hold during the shoot as you can see we had so much fun!

I took the best one and put it into one of Shutterfly’s cute card templates and we were good to go- I did a flat card and put one of the outtake photos on the back

 

I have still been brainstorming about this years photo and have definitely spent some time on pinterest looking…. here is a website with a bunch of fun and cute picture ideas check it out  Also you can check out Shutterfly’s new Microsite which I learned about this past weekend with some fellow Nashville Bloggers over lunch.  The new micro site is Shutterflyfamilyphotos.com.  Some of my favorite tips they have are:

1.KEEP CLICKING- this is very important with little ones especially when you have more than one kiddo I just spent a little time this afternoon having a photoshoot of my girls for my Christmas card and I took about 500 shots and got about 10 photos to choose from for my card

2. PHOTO PROPS- I already mentioned this a little when I talked about my card photo from last year and we used the card board letters to spell JOY.  Some other prop ideas are a large picture frame (see below pic), a strand of Christmas light or maybe give the kids some candy canes

3. MAKE IT PERSONAL- try to have your photos show your families personalities.  You also do not always have to have your subjects both looking straight at the camera here is one of the pictures I got today of my girls that I LOVE!

There are lots more tips and tricks Shutterfly has to offer so head over and check it out :)

 

Speaking of great card worthy photos Shutterfly.com is having a Cardworthy photo contest which is going on from November 9th- December 12th – each week has a  different them and you can upload your picture into one of the fun Shutterfly card templates.  you should definitely go and check it out.

If photography and photo contests are not your cup of tea but you still want to win something how about entering to win my giveaway for a $50 credit to Shutterfly.com :)  Just use the Rafflecopter below and it will direct you how to get entries in the contest

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to keep up with other fun things shutterfly is doing I would definitely suggest also following/liking them on Pinterest and instagram

 

Happy Picture taking and card creating everyone!

 

 

 


Nov 30 2012

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

As I was cruising up and down the aisles at Publix just before thanksgiving something caught my eye… Jell-o pudding in a pumpkin spice flavor!  I love pumpkin desserts if you go back through my blog you will come across a couple other pumpkin treats Luscious Layered Pumpkin Cake and Pumpkin bread and  muffins.  So with that being said a few boxes of the Pumpkin Spice pudding ended up in my cart.  Before I had even checked out I already had some ideas running through my head.  The first one was this cake I am going to share with you.  I got my general idea from one of my go to cake recipes Pistachio Nut cake which is a recipe from my Nana -one of these days I will share that with you :)

 

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with a sugar and spice pecan swirl

Ingredients

  • cake:
  • 1 box butter recipe golden cake mix
  • 1 box pumpkin spice pudding
  • 2 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • swirl:
  • 4T sugar
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 2t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and then mix up the cake ingredients in your electric mixer and mix your swirl ingredients in a seperate bowl
  2. spray a bundt pan with cooking spray and then sprinkle a little of the sugar and spice mixture in the bundt pan next put half the cake batter in the pan and top with the rest of the sugar and spice mixture and then top with the remaining batter
  3. bake at 350 for 1 hour
Google Recipe View Microformatting by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://tennesseesugar.com/2012/11/pumpkin-spice-bundt-cake/

 

if you are looking for another recipe using this yummy Pumpkin Spice pudding head over to my friend Alexandra’s blog Sweetbetweens and check out her recipe for Cranberry White Chocolate chip Pumpkin pudding cookies :)


Oct 2 2012

Red velvet brownie-wiches

I spent some time just browsing through pinterest the other day for some inspiration and of course came across dozens and dozens of  delicious looking recipes.  I finally narrowed it down and found I had almost everything I needed to make today’s treat.  After a quick run to the grocery store I gathered my ingredients and got busy!

The recipes I used came from a fellow blogger Smells Like Home -

Red Velvet Brownies and White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The original recipe was a pan of iced red velvet brownies, but I decided to turn it into a dessert sandwich :)

Have a *sweet* day!

annie


Oct 2 2012

Football Whoopie Pies

 

It is football season and around here that means ROLL TIDE!  How cute are these football whoopie pies?  These are the perfect treat to make to enjoy with friend while watching football.  They are also very portable so whip some up to take with you while you tailgate before the game :)

Roll Tide- Football whoopie pies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (I used 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  1. sift the 1st 7 ingredients into a large bowl
  2. using your mixer cream the butter and sugars together, gradually add in the oil, next add the eggs one at a time, beating to blend in between additions. Beat in pumpkin. Add in the dry ingredients in 2 steps alternating with the milk.
  3. cover the batter and chill for an hour
  4. Spray your pans with cooking spray and fill or pipe out your whoopie pies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray
  5. bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes- toothpick should come out clean when done
Google Recipe View Microformatting by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://tennesseesugar.com/2012/10/football-whoopie-pies/

Whoopie pie filling- cream cheese frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 (16-ounce) package confectioners' sugar
  • 3 drops vanilla extract
  • 2 dashes cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Beat together cream cheese and butter.
  2. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  3. Frost flat side of half the pies and put together (if using the egg pan you will need to cut them in ahalp length wise then frost)
  4. once they are put together pipe the laces in top
  5. Enjoy right away, or chill overnight
Google Recipe View Microformatting by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://tennesseesugar.com/2012/10/football-whoopie-pies/

The cake part of the Whoopie  pie is pumpkin a perfect fall flavor :) and I made a cream cheese frosting with just a hint of cinnamon as the filling.  To get the football shape I used a mini Easter egg pan.  You could also just pipe out your batter into the football shape.

 

*also note to get a more brown cake for the footballs I added some brown food coloring paste to the cake batter*


May 25 2012

Watermelon to go

It is Memorial Day weekend which in my mind is the kick off to summer- Trips to the pool, picnics with friends and all the fun that come with Summer :)  What says Summer more than watermelon?

Watermelon can be messy and isn’t so portable either unless of course it is in the form of a sweet cookie! I think these watermelon cookies are super cute and I made them with my favorite sugar cookie dough and royal icing.

-annie


May 21 2012

Harry Potter Party- The Party

Hello all I know I have been a bit MIA lately but I am back :)  I threw a Harry Potter Party for my oldest daughters 9th birthday and we had a blast!

I think this might have been one of my favorite parties yet that I have done for one of my girls.  I am going to share with you all about what we did from the invites to the treats we ate.  I know I usually mostly just blog about the food but this time I am giving you all the whole package

Let’s start at the beginning with the invitations.  I made a letter from Hogwarts inviting the children to a special birthday celebration for the new “head” girl- Party invitation- letter from Hogwarts 

Now my sweet daughter decided this year that she really wanted to invite her entire 3rd grade class and also a few friends who were not in her class then you ass family friends and cousins it ends up to be quite a few kids-  we had 27 kids coming so I knew we needed to have something to keep them busy or we might have a crazy situation on our hands.  I decided that it would be best of we could have the kids in smaller groups and what better way to do that than with a “sorting hat”  as the children arrived they reached into the “sorting hat” and drew out a House crest and that was the group they would be in for the party.

Since we had 4 groups I came up with four “classes” for them to rotate through.  We had Transfiguration, Care of magical Creatures, Potions and Spell Writing.

Transfiguration- the kids played a game of charades- the clues mostly came from the harry Potter books

Words for Charades: Basilisk, Vampire, Wizard, Unicorn, Muggle, Owl, Whomping Willow, Potion, Dementor, House Elf, Giant, Dragon, Ghost and Flying car

My Daughter taking her turn in Transfiguration class

Care of Magical Creatures- For this class the children made origami owls- there are lots of instructions online for different types of origami owls you will want to look around and find one that is the right skill level for the kids you will have a t the party- we had 2 versions and all the kids chose to do the easier of the two

 

Some of our “Hogwarts” students making their Owls

Potions- This class was held outside on our deck because it was a messy one.  I found a “potion” online that would fizz and foam and change colors.  I put all the ingredients in bottles and jars and labeled them with fun potion ingridient names from the Harry Potter books.

this is the foaming Potion I used at the party

I was the Potions class instructor we had  a lot of fun

Spell Writing- For this class I just had a list of simple phrases or things you might want a spell for and let the kids come up with fun phrases to be the spell.  I did get a couple Latin-English dictionaries from the library to have at this station but I am not sure they were really used I think if the kids were a little bit older they might enjoy having those more.  I also found some Harry Potter Word finds and printed them off to have at this station as well.

This is the site where I found the word searches and the spell writing sheets

A group of  ”students” at Spell Writing class

After all of the houses had rotated through the different classes we all gathered in the great hall aka our living room to sing Happy Birthday to my sweet Madalyn :)

Madalyn about to blow out her candle

 After we sang the kids loaded up their plates and headed out to the lawn to sit on blankets and enjoy their treats.  Do not worry I am not going into detail here about the treat but there will be a whole seperate post about the goodies we had because that is really what my blog is mostly about the sweets :)

Madalyn on the lawn enjoying birthday treats with some friends

The last activity after the kids all got done enjoy there treats was to play a muggle version of Quidditch.  I bought some cheap plastic hoop like necklaces and yard sticks to make 3 rings to go at each end of our yard and then got some wiffle balls.  The object was basically for the kids to run around and try to throw the balls through the rings on their opponents side of the yard- we had a line that they could not cross you will want to adjust this line as the game goes on and you can see how well the kids can throw the balls towards the rings.  It was not a very involved game, but the kids seemed to enjoy it!

Quidditch

This party was a lot of fun and if you are considering a Harry Potter themed party for you or your child I hope you are able to take some of these ideas and use them.  As I mentioned I will be posting a second post soon with all the treats I made/had for the party.  this will include the Goody bags we sent home which were full of sweets from “Honeydukes” well my version of them at least :)


Mar 15 2012

Luscious Layered Pumpkin Cake

This is a cake I make at least once a year.  It is one of my husband’s favorite cakes so I always make it for him on his birthday.  It is definitely a good one to make for a group of people because it makes a lot of cake :)

 

Luscious layered Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • 1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) tub cool whip, thawed-( I have made this with fat free and reduced fat and still yummy)
  • 1/4 cup caramel topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped Pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Beat cake mix, 1 cup of the pumpkin, the milk, oil, eggs and 1 tsp. of the pumpkin pie spice in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Pour evenly into prepared pans.
  2. Bake 28 to 30 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely. Beat cream cheese in small bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Add sugar, remaining pumpkin and remaining 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice; mix well. Stir in the whipped topping.
  3. Cut each cake layer horizontally in half with serrated knife. Stack layers on serving plate, spreading the cream cheese filling between layers. (Do not frost top of cake.) Drizzle cake with caramel topping just before serving; sprinkle with the pecans. Store leftover cake in refrigerator.
Google Recipe View Microformatting by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://tennesseesugar.com/2012/03/luscious-layered-pumpkin-cake/


Mar 13 2012

Spa cookies

Last week I had the privilege to make these super cute sugar cookies for a friend’s daughter for her Spa themed birthday party! She emailed me a picture a couple of weeks before the party and asked if I could do something similar.  This is the cookie I came up with.  I was very pleased with how they turned out and I think the birthday girl was too :)


Feb 27 2012

Tangled party

Well about 6 months ago my sweet Mackenzie told me that she wanted to have a Tangled birthday party.  I was very excited about the theme and could not wait to come up with the treats for it.  One of my favorite things to do is throw birthday parties for my daughters :)  I love the decorating and of course the baking.  We had my iced sugar cookies which have been a birthday tradition in our family since my oldest daughters First birthday party- the only thing that changes is the shape.  I also made chocolate covered Pretzel rods that looked like Rapunzel’s tower and then cupcakes.  I made a special  Rapunzel tower cupcake for the birthday girl.

How to make the Rapunzel Tower cupcake:

Supplies:

Toilet paper roll

a Dowel rod

Various shades of grey paint

Ice cream cone

purple candy melts

yellow embroidery thread

black cardstock

You will paint your toilet paper roll to look like a stone tower and take the embroidery thread and make a braid. The ice cream cone you will want to coat in the candy melts.  Cut the dowel rod to the height you want the tower to be including the Cupcake on top and then hot glue it sticking straight up on a paper plate.  Once you have baked your over-sized cupcake you will want to first put the toilet paper roll and then place the cupcake on top of the dowel rod.  Next you will take purple icing and ice the cupcake and then place the ice cream cone on top.  Finally cut a window out of the cardstock and attach it with the braid coming out of it to the side of the cupcake.  There you have it a very cute Rapunzel tower cupcake for your birthday girl

 

Rapunzel Tower Pretzels


These are the pretzels I made for the party.  To make them you will need short pretzel rods, bugles and some candy melts  and royal icing.  I first took some white candy melts and melted them and then added just a touch of Super black icing color to make it grey.  Then I dipped the pretzels in my grey “chocolate” mixture and put a bugle on top and laid it down on wax paper to harden.

Once they are done hardening you will want to melt your purple candy melts and then dip just he bugle tips into the purple and lay them back on the wax paper to harden.  After they were hardened I took some royal icing and piped on the details (the window, braid and bow)

 

I looked around a little bit for some Rapunzel decorations, but there were not a lot and plus for me part of the fun is coming up with my own.  I ended up sticking with shades of purple for the streamers and balloons and used a few purple fake flowers here and there.  One of my favorite decorations was the long braid of Rapunzel hair that went all along the banister for our stairs.  I also made a Happy Birthday banner- something I have started doing for my girls parties the past couple of years.

If you need an idea for party favors what I did was bought water-color paints and made labels for them with a picture of Pascal and called them Rapunzel paints.

 

We had so much fun at the party and I think it was just what the birthday girl was wanting.  If you are thinking about doing a Tangled party for your sweet princess I hope that some of these ideas help you to have “The BEST day EVER!!!”

The Sweet Birthday girl!

 

 

 


Feb 3 2012

LOVE cupcakes

I made these cupcakes last year for one of my daughters Valentines Day Parties at school.  I got the idea from the Martha Stewart.  They are quick, simple, yummy and of course super cute!  I decided to make them again this year so I could share them with all of you.

They really are simple for the cake I actually just used a Devils food cake mix and the icing is a chocolate ganache recipe they are enjoy using in various recipes for example in my Smores cookie-whiches :) so you can go there to get the ganache recipe.  I mixed my cake batter according to the package direction, and then filled my lined cupcake tin.  IMPORTANT- make sure you only fill them about half way otherwise the cupcakes puff up too much.  As soon as they were done baking I used a piping bag and filled the center with some Buttercream frosting (save some of your frosting to pipe your “love” on top)  If you are trying to keep things simple just use some store bought frosting, but you could also make your own buttercream frosting my favorite recipe is the Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.  While the cupcakes are cooling mix up you chocolate ganache once it is made I would let it set for about 5 minutes then take you cupcakes and dip them in the ganache until the tops are covered I usually go back through a second time and dip each cupcake once more.  Once they are all dipped you need to let the ganache harden I leave mine for a couple of hours.  Once the ganache is set take you piping bag switch out you tip and pipe the “LOVE” on top and you are done.  Super cute cupcakes that are sure to impress whoever you decide to share them with :)