Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Next Cupcake Hero

Yep, I think I'm the next cupcake hero! This month's challenge by Quirky Cupcake was to make a cupcake with cranberries in it somewhere. In the cake, the icing or the filling.
So I went browsing for cupcake recipes and came across this one that uses one of my new favourite things, dulce de leche, in the icing, so I just had to make them! They do have cranberries in the cake and I had to garnish not only with toasted pecans but more dried cranberries, so yummy!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup dried cranberries (3 oz), finely chopped
5 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup dulce de leche
1/2 cup pecans (2 oz), finely chopped, toasted, and cooled
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put liners in muffin cups(I didn't use liners).

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing just until incorporated. Fold in cranberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until pale golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto a rack and cool 15 minutes. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese in a bowl with cleaned beaters until smooth, then add dulce de leche and a pinch of salt and beat until combined well. Stir in half of pecans.

Spread frosting generously on cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with remaining pecans (and dried cranberries if desired).

Makes 1 dozen

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Cards

Well I'm on a Basic Grey roll. Here's some more Christmas cards using Basic Grey's Figgy Pudding card kit. I like all of them but my favourite is the one with the mittens.Here's some closer views:

On another note, my previous card is featured in the Basic Grey Gallery, click here to see.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cracker Barrel Fried Apples

One of my favourite treats when we travel in the US is a stop for lunch or dinner at Cracker Barrel. And aside from their hashbrown casserole I always have a side of fried apples. As I had some apples to use up I searched the internet for a fried apple recipe and found this one:

1/4 cup bacon drippings or butter
6 tart apples sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg

In large skillet melt drippings or butter
Place apples evenly over skillet bottom
Sprinkle lemon juice then brown sugar then salt over apples
Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes untill tender and juicy
Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg
Makes:6 servings

My version turned out pretty well except the Gala apples held up better under the heat than the Granny Smith. I left the skins on as they do at Cracker Barrel and liked the contrasting colours of the cooked apples.

And they passed the ultimate test, both my daughters liked them!

Another Figgy Pudding Card

Here's another simple card I made. I like the look of layering embellishments.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Card Creation

Here's a card I created using Basic Grey's Figgy Pudding line of paper. Brianne liked how I added the snowmen to the ends of the ribbon. I've submitted it to an online contest so I'll let you know if it gets an honourable mention!

Light Snow Fall

Tonight we had a light snowfall that truly gets you in the Christmas spirit.

Here's a few pics.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christimas Gift Tags

For the past few years Brittany and I have handmade gift tags for our Christmas gifts.

This year's were quite simple. Using marking tags from an office supply store, outline stickers, glaze pens, ink and a bit of ribbon, we created 50 unique Christmas tags in no time.

Inking the tags.

Adding the glaze.

The finished tags.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Organized Christmas

In an attempt to organize my Christmas preparations I created this planner.

I used Figgy paper by Basic Grey, a bit of ribbon, a few brads, chipboard, rub-ons and a charm. I like how the tabs, made with cardstock, rub-ons and a corner rounder turned out. Tabbed catergories I included are: calendar, baking, shopping/gifts, cards and decorations.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

For my birthday my Grandmother gave me a Chapters gift certificate. So I held on to it for awhile thinking about what book I'd like to purchase. I finally decided on a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I've watched her show a few times and like the ease with which she prepares her recipes. There were a few cookbooks to choose from but I settled on Barefoot Contessa At Home. The recipes are those that can easily be prepared any day of the week. I recently broke in to this cookbook and made Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. And they actually do look like the picture in her book.

Here's the recipe:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.

Now which recipe shall I try next? There's coconut cake, tomato feta salad, couscous with pine nuts, frozen berries with hot white chocolate.........

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Autumn Layouts

Well, here I jump to another scrapbook topic, autumn layouts from our visit to the pumpkin patch and a fall fair last year!

I like the use of paint dots on these pages. They provide an additional bit of detail. But as usual I haven't added the journalling yet!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More Shopping

Yes, more shopping in the US. This time it was with my Mom, Sister and Aunt and, for me, was mostly geared to getting Christmas gifts. And I did make a good dent into my Christmas shopping! And rather than repeat what my Mom said on her blog, click here for her posting as its a great summary of our weekend. Of course she didn't get the pics of the deer(it was deer hunters widows weekend at the outlet mall!) on the way home like I did!
Check out my photos below and Mom's here!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

First layout of our 2007 Cruise

Finally I broke into our cruise pics from earlier this year! I do jump around in my projects. Anyway these are from a formal night on the cruise we took with the girls in January. You'll notice there is no jounalling on my recent layouts. I have the bad habit of letting my pages requiring journalling pile up and then do a bunch of updates at once. Maybe in 2008 I'll break myself of this habit!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gruene Layouts

Its been almost a year since we visited Texas and I'm still working on Texas layouts! Oh well, that's the way of scrapbooking and I tend to work on a few projects at a time.

These layouts are of Gruene(pronounced Green) located between Austin and San Antonio. Its the home of the oldest dance hall in Texas,highlighted on page 3 and 4.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sweet Memories

This is a layout with some pictures of the girls taken this summer in Niagara Falls. For some of the shots, I asked them to just forget about the camera and run up the stairs. We got some really fun and candid pics.

And I made these little note cards from the scraps of this layout. A bit of ribbon and buttons and you can create some cute cards.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pumpkin Dip

For a candle party I recently hosted(I do love Partylite candles,they burn so cleanly), I prepared a couple of new recipes including this yummy pumpkin dip served with graham crackers. Although not called for, I topped the dip with chopped pecans.

I didn't get a photo until we had already dug in!

By popular request, here's the recipe:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup chopped pecans

In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

Online IQ Test

Here's the results of my online IQ test. Click here to take it and let me know how you do!

Your IQ score is 129!

You are gifted with the natural fluency of a writer and the visual and spatial strengths of an artist. Those skills contribute to your creative and expressive mind. Insightful linguists can take complex concepts and articulate them to just about anyone. You have a gift with words and an insight into processes and the way people think.

These talents enable you to explain things clearly to people as you can conceptualise ideas internally and understand patterns on an abstract level

Guess Who Has a Blog!

Martha!!! And its very Martha like! Check it out here.

On A Country Drive

I met my Mom and Sister for lunch at a tearoom just a short drive from home on Friday. But I didn't bring my camera to get pictures. I paid particular attention to what I saw along the way.

I saw
red green-roofed barns
a lone silo
green unplowed fields
dark brown plowed fields
grey skys
weathered headstones at a pioneer cemetary
Canadian and US flags atop a cluster of grain silos
chickens running loose
winding gravel roads
country churches
stone century farm houses
yellow and rust coloured leaves defiantly remaining on some trees

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Customer Service Tip

I needed to go to the Post Office the other night but I wasn't sure when it closed, was it 7 or 9? So I called and confirmed that it closed at 9.

While I was there purchasing stamps and mailing notebooks, the phone rang and the postal worker sighed quite loudly. "Busy night?", I said. "Yea", she said, "Probably another dumb question like what time are we open to". She then proceeded to answer the phone not knowing that I was the one that had posed that 'dumb' question earlier in the evening.

So here's my tip....when speaking to a customer be careful what you say is dumb, you never know who you are talking to!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Altered Notebooks

Here is a pic of the altered notebooks I'll be sending to my blog candy winners.

I've made these with a Christmas theme in the hope they can be used to record any special Christmas memories or plans.

Of course, they can be made with any theme in mind and work up very quickly!

And the winner of the fourth book is Elaine! Elaine please leave me a comment with your e-mail and I'll contact you for your address.

A Busy Weekend

Its been a busy weekend! Shopping with friends(got started on some Christmas shopping), an 80th birthday part for my Grandma, dinner with friends and then the usual cleaning etc. Whew! I'll draw for the 4th altered book from all the comments received this week tonight. I'll then post the winner along with a book sample.

In the meantime, here's a couple of pics of my daughter Brittany and her friend Jana from Halloween!