Friday, December 30, 2011

5 Minute Mug Cake

Sometimes you need a baked good fix.  Now.  At those times you also don't want to have to make an entire cake.  It would not work with the whole baked good now issue.  My mom found a recipe for a mug cake a couple of years ago and after making it I decided it could use a little improving.  I tweaked it... a lot and came up with a cake worth eating.  Start to finish, 5 minutes and worth the wait.

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake
3 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1/8 tsp. instant espresso
4 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa
pinch baking soda
3 Tbsp. buttermilk
1 egg
splash vanilla
3 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips


Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave (it takes about 30 seconds).  Sprinkle the espresso powder over the top and set it aside.

In a LARGE coffee mug, mix the flour, sugars, cocoa and soda.

Add the buttermilk, egg and vanilla to the melted butter and mix.  This was my second cake of the evening so you can see leftover batter from the first cake around the edges because I was too lazy to clean it off...  Sorry if this ruins your experience.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.

Now stir in your chips.  I sadly, had used all my mini chips making the chocolate chip cheese ball on Christmas so all I had were big ones.  It was not the same.  I ate it anyway.

Spray the mug you mixed your dry ingredients in with cooking spray and pour in the batter.  Throw it in the microwave and cook if 2-1/2 to 3 minutes.  Err on the low side or it will dry out.

It will look like this when it is done, unless your mug was too small and then it will look like Don King or Marge Simpson.

Turn the cake out onto a plate and let it cool for a couple of minutes.  Each cake should feed two people.  Unless one has PMS...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chiken Stock

If you can't already tell, I like to cook, which is good because I would be screwed if I didn't.  My people like to eat.  My daughter wakes up in the morning and the first thing she says to me is "What are you making for dinner?".  The sick part is I usually know.  I plan my dinners a week at a time so I can do my grocery shopping and get everything I will need (I also put my grocery lists in the order that the items are found in the store, but we'll have to discuss my neuroses another time).  Whenever I roast a chicken I always make a dinner that uses chicken stock the following night.  Homemade chicken stock is amazing.  So much better than broth-in-a-box (which does have it's place).  It is VERY easy to make stock so there are no excuses.  If you have a left over chicken (even one that came from the store rotisserie) make stock!  NOW!  Then make soup, or dumplings, or a casserole, or freeze it and use it later.  The moral of the story is MAKE STOCK!  Over and out.

Homemade Chicken Stock
Leftover chicken
bay leaf
salt and pepper


Take your leftover chicken...

And destroy it.  Well, pull off all the meat, thereby destroying it.

Now put your sad, meatless chicken in a pot and cover him with water.

Take a carrot and some celery...

and chop them up big like.

Toss them in with the chicken add a bay leaf and plenty of salt and pepper.  Chicken is bland so don't be shy with the salt.  If you are worried, let it cook a little and check the seasonings.  Now comes the hard part.  Cook it for like, hours.  You want to get every last drop of flavor into that broth.  The chicken will fall apart and lose most of it's color.  It will take at least 2 hours.

Once it is done, place a strainer over a bowl and pour the liquid through.  You will end up with a pile of gross looking stuff and.

BEAUTIFUL chicken stock.  It is now ready to use however you can dream up!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

This is a Christmas tradition.  I make it every year to take to my mother's family's party.  When I walk in the door people are looking for it.  It is sinful.  It contains an entire stick of butter.  It should be called Chocolate Chip Butter Ball, but then no one would eat it.  Who am I kidding?  My family would probably eat more.  I serve it with chocolate graham crackers, but you could use regular graham crackers too.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips

Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth.  As you can see I was impatient and nuked my butter for 15 seconds and kind of melted it.  Don't be like me.

Add in sugar and vanilla.

Stir in chocolate chips.  After this step I had to put mine in the fridge since I over did it on the butter, but if you softened yours properly you will not have to do that and you can...

shape it into a flat ball, or a dome or whatever you want.  You are in charge.  Keep it in the fridge and take out a few minutes before the party so it can soften.  I spread some chocolate graham crackers around it when serving.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

These are my husband's favorite cookies...  well one of them.  They are also the third and final installment of cookies his co-worker's snarfed this Christmas.  I have made these for multiple carry-in's at his work and they are always requested for the next event.  They are really good and really rich.  Make them small or you will be sad... and sick.
Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

1 pkg. brownie mix
1/4 c. melted butter
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1 lg. egg
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. peanut butter
1 container chocolate frosting

Mix together brownie mix, butter, cream cheese and egg.

Drop by scant tablespoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Smooth edges, they will not smooth out as they bake.

Mix together sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Roll into small (scant teaspoon size) balls and...

press into each brownie ball.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (more for bigger cookies, less for smaller ones).  Cool on cookie sheet.  When completely cool, spread with frosting.

Ripple Afghan

My step-son went to college this fall and I thought a great Christmas gift for him would be a handmade afghan.  My mother has made everyone she loves (and probably some people she didn't) an afghan.  Handmade blankets last forever.  They are warmer because they are full of love and sometimes swear words.  This one, has none of the latter.  It is a fantastically simple and quick afghan.  If you are knitting an afghan for the first time, I highly reccomend this one.

Ripple Afghan

What you need
7 skeins Vanna's Choice yarn in Taupe
6 skeins Vanna's Choice yarn in Cranberry
6 skeins Vanna's Choice yarn in Linen

What you do
*This afghan is knit holding 2 strands of yarn and working as if they are one*
Co 150 st
k 4 rows
Next row begins pattern
Row 1(RS): knit
Row 2: k3, p to last 3 st, k3
Row 3: k3, k2tog 3 times,*yo k1 6 times, k2tog six times, repeat from * to last 9 st, k2tog 3 times, k3
Row 4: knit

Work rows 1-4 3 times in Taupe, change to Cranberry and work rows 1-4 3 times, change to linen and work rows 1-4 3 times.

Repeat until desired length.  I did 6 reps so 72 rows in pattern.

Work rows 1-4 3 times more in Taupe.  Knit 4 rows and cast off

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chocolate Icebox Pudding

My plan is to post a group of my family recipes after the first of the year, but I couldn't wait on this one.  It is one of my grandmother's recipes and I made it to take to my dad's family's Christmas Eve get-together.  I have altered it a little but it is still pretty close to the original she made when my mom was little.  It is amazingly good and very easy to do.  No baking involved so it is a great summertime dessert.

Chocolate Icebox Pudding

8 oz. sweet German chocolate
2-1/2 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
4 eggs
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 pt. whipping cream
8 oz. vanilla wafers

This is what the chocolate you need should look like.  If you cannot find it I would use semi-sweet chocolate.  You do not want to use a milky or mild chocolate here.

Break chocolate into pieces and melt in a saucepan over low heat.

Beat eggs...

and add them to the melted chocolate.  It will look grainy and gross.  Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture smooths out and gets thick.

It will be the consistency of frosting.  Once it is there, let it cool to room temperature.

When the chocolate is cool, whip your cream.

Fold half of your cream into the chocolate mixture.

Now fold your chopped nuts into the chocolate mixture.

Spread the wafers in a single layer in the bottom of a 9"x13" pan.  Top with the chocolate mixture.

Then spread other half of whipped cream on top of the chocolate.  At this point, the pudding needs to be refrigerated overnight.  You want the moisture from the pudding and whipped cream to soften the cookies.  After it sits about 24 hours it is technically done, but I like to decorate so....

I threw a handful of the cookies in my food processor and pulverized them.  Then I sprinkled their remains on top.  What can I say?  The holidays make me a little homicidal.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Neck Warmer #2

I went on kind of a knitting bender this Christmas.  I think handmade items are the best gift you can give someone.  Buying a present takes what?  An afternoon?  If you have to go a couple of places because you can't find what you're looking for?  But making something.  That takes days.  Weeks even.  That's a gift. 

I am going to show some of the stuff I made for my lovies this year.  This pretty is a neckwarmer I made for my sister's girlfriend.  It is cozy and chunky and very glamorous.  I lined it using the same method I used on my Cabled Neckwarmer.  It knits up very quickly and easily.  Happy knitting!

Chunky Neckwarmer

You Will Need
2 skeins bulky yarn ( I used Lion Brand Jiffy in Dark Grey Heather)
3 large buttons (at least 1", but preferably larger)
size 13 needles

What to do
co 18 st
Row 1: k2, p2, k10, p2, k2
Row 2 (and all even rows): Knit the knits and purl the purls
Row 3: (button hole row): k2, p2, k2, p6, k2, yarn front to back, yo, p2 tog, k2
Row 5: k2, p2, k10, p2, k2
Row 7: k8, p2, k8
Row 9 (button hole row): p6, k2, p2, yarn front to back, yo, k2 tog, p6
Row 11: k8, p2, k8
Row 13: k2, p2, k10, p2, k2
Row 15 (button hole row): k2, p2, k2, p6, k2, yarn front to back, yo, p2tog, k2
Row 17: k2, p2, k10, p2, k2
Row 19: k8, p2, k8
Row 21: p6, k2, p2, k2, p6
Row 23: k8, p2, k8
Row 25: k2, p2, k10, p2, k2
Row 27: k2, p2, k2, p6, k2, p2, k2
Row 29: k2, p2, k10, p2, k2

Repeat rows 19-30 until warmer reaches desired length.  Mine is about 25".  Line if desired (see Cabled Neckwarmer for tutorial).  Sew on buttons and weave in ends.


Barbequed meatballs are my go-to carry-in food (that is a lot of hyphens).  These are based on a recipe I got from a fundraiser cookbook when I was a kid.  They are awesome.  They are easy (maybe that's why I think they're awesome).  My daughter loves loves loves them.  All the ingredients are adjustable so feel free to use more of one or less of another.  Have fun!

Barbecued Meatballs

1 onion, chopped
2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. grape jelly
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1-2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
3-14 oz. bags frozen meatballs

Add all ingredients except meatballs to large crock pot.
Stir well.  The jelly will still be clumpy, but will melt down into the sauce as it cooks.
Add in the meatballs and stir to coat.
 I have a programmable crock pot so I set mine to cook on low for 3 hours and then it switches to warm.  These are great as appetizers but my kids LOVE them shoved in hot dog buns...  yum.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies

This is one of the cookie requests from my husbands co-workers.  I made them for a carry-in he had at work a few years ago and apparently they were memorable. 

Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. peanut butter
1 c. packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 egg
1-1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1-8 oz. pkg. Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits


Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, milk and vanilla.  Add egg and beat until just blended.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

Stir in 1 cup toffee bits (reserve the rest for topping).  Drop by heaping teaspoons onto parchment lined cookie sheet, top each with reserved bits.  Bake at 375 degrees 7-8 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through cooking time.  Cool 2 minutes on sheet before removing to rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quilted Granny Square Baby Blanket

I am going to ease off the food (for today) and show you how I made this sweet baby blanket.  I decided to quilt this granny square blanket because the back side looked... well, awful.  I used fleece instead of batting because I didn't want fluff to ooze out the holes in the squares.  It turns out, it didn't even need the fleece.  When I do this again (and I will), I will omit the fleece.  It made it a little too thick for my liking (not so thick I felt the need to take it apart though).  I will con my mom in to showing me how to crochet a granny square so I will give you the know-how on that soon!

Quilted Granny Square Baby Blanket

This is not an exact tutorial.  Sorry.  The quantity of materials will vary greatly, depending on the size of your blanket.

You will need
completed afghan
enough baking fabric to cover the size afghan you have
trim fabric, I used about 1/4 yd
enough fleece to cover your afghan (as I said, I would not use this next time)

What you do

Lay out your blanket with the backing on the bottom, then the fleece (if using), and the afghan on top.  Pin layers together LIBERALLY.

Since my afghan is a granny square, I chose to machine quilt along the edges of the squares.  Base your quilting on the design of your afghan.

Trim the excess fabric from around the edges of your quilted blanket.

Now it is time to make your binding.  Choose the width you want your finished binding to be and multiply it by 4.  I wanted mine to be 1/2" so I cut my binding 2" wide.  Fold each piece in half and press, then open up and fold each raw edge in to the pressed line and press again.

It will look like this.

Pinning as you go, sandwich binding onto blanket and hand stitch (sorry) onto blanket, overlapping edges of binding as necessary.  This is a labor of love and I promise, promise, promise, it is worth it!

My friend teared up a little when I gave this to her.  I am twisted enough to find that very satisfying.
***Like this project?  Check out my Crochet Backed Quilt or my Crochet Granny Quilt.***