Monday, September 17, 2012

Game Day Recipes: Spicy Mac 'n Cheese Cups

Every Sunday in the Fall, you can find me sitting on the couch with my Terrible Towel watching the Steelers play.  I am a Pittsburgh girl and I love football.  And you can't have a game day without some snacks!  So I know I am a bit late as this past weekend was already week 2, but I am going to be sharing my favorite Game Day Recipes with you each week.  

This weekend, the hubby had just gotten back from a work trip and Saturday was spent finishing up the kitchen.  Sunday rolled around and he was run down and not feeling too great.  He loves Kraft Mac 'n Cheese.  And I hate it.  I mean... I don't even think it tastes good, and it certainly is not good for you!  It's kind of a joke around here, but anytime I am away he likes to make it.  Because he knows when I am around I won't make it for him.  

So when I was in the kitchen putting together these Spicy Mac 'n Cheese Cups, he yelled into the kitchen "Smells like Kraft dinner!".  At that point I was just boiling the noodles, so it probably did smell like that.  I just yelled back to him "You're right!"  He obviously thought I was joking, so when he came into the kitchen to see the making of Mac 'n Cheese on the counter, he was very pleased.  :-)   Ahhh... I love being a wife!

Spicy Mac 'n Cheese Cups
makes 20-24 mini cups

  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • 4 1/2 oz. cheese, shredded, I used Colby Jack but use whatever kind you like!
  • 1 oz. butter
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • dash of pepper
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • Italian bread crumbs for the top
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to the directions, drain and set aside.
  3. In pot you used to cook the macaroni, melt butter and whisk in the flour.  Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the milk and continue to whisk until it bubbles and thickens.
  5. Stir in cheese until it is completely melted.
  6. Add a dash of pepper and hot sauce to taste.  I just kept adding the hot sauce and tasting the cheese sauce until it was as spicy as I wanted.  Use as little or as much as you like!
  7. Add the macaroni back into the cheese sauce and stir until combined.
  8. Spray mini cupcake pan.  Fill each hole with the macaroni. 
  9. Top with bread crumbs.
  10. Bake in the oven approximately 15-20 minutes until everything is nicely browned and bubbly.  
  11. Let cool for a couple minutes, and use an offset spatula to remove from pan.  
  12. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Good thing the Steelers won this week, because now I am one happy girl!!  Can't wait for next Sunday!  :-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Squares

For the past few weeks, we have been renovating the kitchen... ourselves.  Thankfully, with the help of some others, we are almost done!!  Just the backsplash left to go, but I have been able to use the kitchen since Monday now.  Ahh... living with no kitchen is not fun!  I normally love a little Wendy's or other fast food here and there, but when you have to get takeout twice a day for almost 2 weeks, it's no fun.  By the end, we were both crabby and ready to be done.  I'm sure most of it was that we had already done a ton of work and just wanted it to be over, but also we were putting such junk food into our bodies and it was making us feel sick.  

I have not been baking for probably more than 2 weeks, so it was nice to get back into the kitchen again.  When I had to stop baking, it was still summer and everyone on the blogs and Facebook were still in summer mode.  Now that has all changed... it's now Halloween!  Now, I am not quite ready for Halloween, but I do LOVE when Fall starts.  Nothing says Fall to me quite like pumpkin does!  So that's exactly what I wanted to make.  

Here is Canada, Thanksgiving is just a couple weeks away now, so the stores already have pumpkins.  I just got a little pumpkin because I was in a rush, but I plan on going back to get some more.  Oh, the hubby will be so excited!

But for now... I made the most delicious Pumpkin Cream Cheese Squares last night!  Oh. my. gosh.  These squares are so moist and tasty.  I found this recipe from How To: Simplify and changed it up a bit and the results were amazing.   Instead of putting frosting on top, I swirled the cream cheese into the cake!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Squares

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin. 
  3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt to wet mixture and stir until combined.  Set aside.
  4. In medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar together until smooth.  
  5. Pour the pumpkin batter into the dish and smooth the top.  
  6. Drop dollops of cream cheese mixture on top of pumpkin batter.  Using a knife, swirl the cream cheese mixture into the pumpkin batter.  Be careful not to overmix, as then you would not see the cream cheese swirl.  
  7. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.  
  8. Enjoy warm or at room temperature!

I love all things pumpkin... cake, scones, pancakes, dips and more!  My dog Bailey even likes pumpkin!  She was sick awhile back, and we read online that pumpkin is gentle on dog's stomachs so she was eating pumpkin and rice for a couple days and loved it!  So when I was cleaning up from making this, she was laying at my feet and I gave her a little pumpkin and she was a very happy dog!  

What do you like to make with pumpkin?!  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top 10 Pins of the Week

If you have followed my blog at all, you may already know how much I have fallen in love with Pinterest.  I get a ton of great ideas from there and could easily waste an hour looking at everything.  I wanted to try something new, and each week I will share some of my favorite things I found thanks to Pinterest.  

Below are all my favorite things from this week and the link to where they came from.  

1. This Bedroom.  I am pretty sure I want my next Master bedroom to look just like this!  I LOVE the colors... light blues and white with a hit of tangerine and dark wood.  I am in love with those reclaimed pieces of wood on only the top part of the wall.


2. Spray painted metal folding chairs.  What a fun idea!  I don't actually own any metal folding chairs, but this makes me want to get some... maybe at a thrift store or garage sale?!

Source: Manuel's Flickr (it's in French, but I don't need to speak the language to love the idea!)

spray paint old metal folding chairs. LOVE!

3.  Scrabble names on the wall.  What a fun idea for a family game room!  Spell everyone's name out in large Scrabble pieces and hang them on the wall!

Source: Remodelaholic

Family Scrabble Decor for the game room~  LOVE this idea!!!

4.  Fun food packaging.  I just found this website and I love it!  They have tons of different packaging for edible gifts!  I have my eye on these ice cream or soup containers.  They packaged cookie dough in one to give as a gift so you can bake your own cookies.  Not only do they sell the packaging, but they sell it in any quantity.  They don't make you buy a whole case of something that you really only want a few of.  Makes it great for the home baker or occasional food gift giver.  Plus, they also have a blog with lots of fun ideas of how to use their products!

Source: Shop Garnish
i am going to revamp my christmas baking baskets this year! this is the best website for cool packaging ever!
5.  Gotta love this dog picture.  The picture and quote says it all.  I have a dog and I love this.  Haha

Source: unknown

oh good, you're up. > yep, I'm familiar with this one. lol

6. Luke Bryan.  Again... I don't have anything else to say.  Love him and love his newest album Tailgates and Tanlines (which I am listening to as I type this!).  

Source: unknown


7.  White Chocolate Cream Cheese Danish Braid with Apples and Walnuts.  I WANT TO MAKE THIS!  Yummy!!

Source: Doughmesstic

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Braid.

8.  Family Cookbook. I made a family cookbook for all the women in my family when I was in college.  I secretly collected everyone's favorite and signature recipes, and then typed up all the recipes and made cookbooks for everyone as gifts.  This takes it to the next level!  She included her family's favorite recipes and pictures and made it on the website Blurb (where you can make your own books too!).  I also love reading her blog, so make sure you check it out!  

\Make your own cookbook with Blurb - add your own family photos and recipes

9.  Framed Cork Boards.  School is just starting and what a great way to display artwork and school work!  It's super simple.  Find old frames... at the thrift store, a garage sale or on sale and spray paint whatever color(s) you like.  Then cut cork board to fit (which they sell at craft stores in rolls) and ta da!  

Great idea! Frames filled with cork board for kids artwork and writings (Totally doing this for the nursery!)

10. Target.  Umm... this happens to me every. single. time.  Haha!  

Source: unknown

Haha!  So true!

These are my favorite pins of the week!  They are either things I want to make or bake, dream rooms or things that simply made me smile!  

Look for my favorite pins of the week next week!  

You can always check out my Pinterest and see what I have been pinning lately!  ;-)

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

It has almost been a year since I went to Hawaii with some girlfriends.  What a great trip!  A whole week of friends, the beach, bikinis, yummy food in the most scenic location.  We didn't do a ton of touristy things like sightseeing and going on tours.  It was a really relaxing and nice vacation.  Especially considering I don't get to see my really good friend, who I've been friends with since middle school, too often!  

My friend works at a hotel and won Employee of the Year, and got a free trip to any of their hotels.  She picked Maui, and I was just lucky enough to go with her!  The hotel had the best food.  I love breakfast food and this place did not disappoint.  The big buffet had so many different options of all the breakfast foods you could imagine with tropical twists, such as guava pancakes.  Yummy!  It was quite pricey, so we didn't eat there every morning.  Down by the pool and beach, they had a mini buffet that had pretty much the same stuff, but at the beach bar so it was about half the price.  So, after we would pick up clean towels for the day and reserve our chairs, we headed to breakfast.

This beach bar also had lunch, desserts and other snacks for during the day.  One of my favorite things was their Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  It's a very traditional dessert, but it was delicious and it probably didn't hurt that I was enjoying it in Hawaii.  

Ahhh... I wish I was still there!

Recently, I have been in the mood for Pineapple Upside Down Cake, so I made some and I want to share it with you!  

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • 2 oz. butter
  • 6 oz. brown sugar
  • 4 pineapple slices, canned
  • about 6 maraschino cherries
  • 4.25 oz. buttermilk
  • 2.25 oz pineapple juice, from the can of pineapple slices
  • 2.5 oz. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz. cake flour
  • 5 oz. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1.5 oz. shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Melt butter and brown sugar in an 8 inch deep cake pan over the stove.  (pictured below)
  3. Once melted, pull off heat (be careful... it may be hot!) and arrange pineapple slices and cherries in desired pattern.  Set aside.
  4. In medium bowl, combine buttermilk, pineapple juice, oil, vanilla and eggs.
  5. In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  
  6. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and whisk until combined.  Mix in coconut.
  7. CAREFULLY pour batter over fruit.  Caution:  fruit may shift a little when you add the batter. 
  8. Bake for 35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.  
  9. Cool 30 minutes before flipping upside down. 
  10. Use spatula to loosen edges before turning onto a cake plate.
  11. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.  

Place the cake pan right on the stove.  Doesn't matter if its an electric or gas stove.  Just make sure you don't touch the sides without checking to see if its hot!

I didn't spray the pan with nonstick spray first because the brown sugar and butter mixture will keep the cake from sticking.  

All done, waiting to be flipped!

My center cherries shifted a bit, but what can you do?!  No use crying over shifted cherries!

This is a very classic "upside down cake".  You can make this with plenty of different fruit.  Apples, peaches, blueberries just to name a few!  


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Name cookies

I made these cookies at the beginning of the summer.  It seems I am doing a little "End of Summer" cleaning and finding all these things I wanted to share with you a little while ago and didn't get around to.  Oh well, better late than never!  

These cookies were for my Mother in law and some of her coworkers.  She works at a school, and these were their colors.  Each one is a little different and unique.

I really am into finding fun and different fonts online and then using them on my cookies!  It makes it that much nicer than my normal handwriting (or my "pipe writing").  I like this website called the Font Pool.  They have SO many different fonts to choose from!

You can type in a sample word and then click on all the different fonts to see your word hundreds of different ways.  

I packaged them all up and sent them to school to be passed out.  It's like I am a Mom and making cookies for my kid to take to school for their friends.  Nope, just for my Mother in law.

I hoped you enjoyed seeing some cookies I made recently.  I haven't been making cookies as much as I used to, especially with it being summer.  I like making them more when its cool and I want to be inside all day.  

I know I am probably early to say this, but I always look forward to fall towards the end of summer.  I love summer, but I don't like the extreme heat so when it starts to cool down I am always happy.  I can't wait to wear a pair of jeans again!! 

Anyways... I won't wish away the last few weeks/month of summer and the beautiful weather just yet.  ;-)