Category Archives: Food

The Best Egg Salad Sandwich of the Year!

Easter is over.  That means it’s time for the best egg salad sandwich of the year!

After eating a big dinner after church on Easter Sunday, we are always too full to eat much for supper.  That’s ok though because we have a perfect light meal just waiting for us.  All of those eggs we dyed before Easter need to be turned into egg salad!

Dyed Egg Whites

Dyed Egg Whites

And that’s what makes it the best egg salad of the year.  There’s something extra special about chopping up those eggs with dye that has somehow rubbed off from the shells and winding up with orange and blue bits of egg in your egg salad.

Orange Bits of Egg

Orange Bits of Egg

I’m a traditionalist – I like plain egg salad on regular bread.  But there are a few variations you might want to try to spruce up your post-Easter egg salad sandwich.  Marble rye bread is very good with it.  A few green olives sliced on top are a nice touch too.  And my husband loves hot sauce on his egg salad.

However you serve it, there’s no doubt that your post-Easter egg salad sandwich will be the best of the year!

Bunny Cake

Every Easter for as long as I can remember my family has a made an annual bunny cake.  It’s a fun tradition I’m excited to continue with our own little girl.

It’s so simple to make.  Start by making your favorite cake batter.  (We always use chocolate.)  Pour it into two round cake pans and bake.  After the cakes have cooled, leave one cake round and cut the other into two ears and a bow tie.  The ears come from the edges and the bow tie is the space left in the middle.  This sketch I made for a friend shows how.

Bunny Cake Pieces Sketch

Bunny Cake Pieces Sketch

Then put the pieces on a cookie sheet in the shape of a bunny with a bow tie.

Bunny Cake

Bunny Cake

Then comes the fun part – decorate the bunny!  Frost the cake and add eyes, a nose, and a mouth.  Frost the inside of the ears with pink.  We always like to decorate the bow tie with m&ms, but you could use any candy of your choice.  It’s sure to be a special part of your Easter celebration!

Another Bunny Cake

Another Bunny Cake

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Treat

When I was in elementary school, my mom was room mother extraordinaire.  She was legendary around the school –  at the beginning of each school year kids would be excited if they were placed in the same class as me because that meant great holiday parties from my mom.  She brought treats for every holiday – not just the big obvious ones like Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day but the little ones like St. Patrick’s Day too.  Whenever there was a day that had the remote possibility of being a celebrate-able holiday, kids would greet me at the classroom door asking if my mom would be making an appearance.

It’s sad to me that kids can no longer have these types of memories.  Holiday parties are now often banned by principals because they are not covered on standardized tests.  Once I even had to sneak in a Valentine’s Day party during recess time so that my students could still experience it without losing class time.  Or if the parties are allowed to happen they are limited to only a few minutes and treats must be purchased from a store instead of homemade. 

So I figure, if kids today can’t have the type of class party my mom used to throw, I can at least give my own daughter the same treats and experiences at home.  For St. Patrick’s Day, my mom always made green apple juice and green cupcakes.  For the apple juice, just add green food coloring to the juice.  The kids always enjoy watching the green color spread throughout the juice.

Green Apple Juice Before

Green Apple Juice Before

Green Apple Juice After

Green Apple Juice After

For the cupcakes, add green food coloring to white cake mix batter and bake as usual.

Green Cupcake Batter

Green Cupcake Batter

Frost with white icing and decorate.

St. Patrick's Day Treat

St. Patrick’s Day Treat

And have your own little St. Patrick’s Day party at home!

 

 

Groundhog Day Cupcakes

I attended schools in the same district from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  During that time, I had a total of 4 – maybe 5 tops – snow days.  So far this year, that very same district is on its 6th snow day and counting… and it’s only January.  Needles to say, Groundhog Day has never been more important.  In an effort to butter up the little critter and persuade hime to predict an early spring, this week’s project is Groundhog Day Cupcakes.

To make these adorable treats, you will need a brownie mix, a cake mix, chocolate frosting, white frosting, red hot candies, mini chocolate chips, and regular chocolate chips.  These special baking pans work perfectly for this project:

Groundhog Pans

Groundhog Pans

The bowl shaped brownie pan on the left makes perfect groundhog burrows (although you could also use regular muffin tins if you can’t find one of these pans), and the mini muffin pan on the right makes the groundhogs.

Make the burrows with brownie mix.  They will be much more sturdy and come out of the pan much better than if you make them with regular cake (learned that the hard way!).  When they are cool, frost them with white frosting so they look like snow covered burrows.

Then make the groundhogs with cake mix in mini muffin tins.  After they cool, frost them with chocolate frosting.  Add red hots for the mouths and chocolate chips for the ears.  Use white frosting with mini chocolate chips for the eyes.

Groundhog Cupcakes

Groundhog Cupcakes

Finally nestle the groundhogs in the tops of the burrows and enjoy… and cross your fingers for an early spring!

Mummy Dogs

When I was little, we always had hot dogs for supper on Halloween night before heading out to trick-or-treat.  This was not necessarily and intended tradition on my mom’s part.  One time she asked me what I wanted for dinner on Halloween, and I gasped in surprise that she would even ask!  Hot dogs, of course!  Turns out, she hadn’t even realized that we always ended up having hot dogs on Halloween.  It was just a convenient coincidence: trick-or-treating started early, and hot dogs made for a quick and easy dinner before the rush to set out candy for my mom to give our visitors, put on my costume, and get my dad and me out the door to roam the neighborhood.  However, hot dogs came to say Halloween to me in the same way turkey says Thanksgiving and candy canes say Christmas.

Now that I have my own little family, I still fix hot dogs on Halloween night to carry on the tradition my mom accidentally started.  (And I must admit, they are very convenient to have on such a busy night!)  I was so pleased last year then when I found a fun new way to serve my Halloween hot dogs on Pinterest – Mummy Dogs!  Just as quick and simple, but way cuter!

Mummy Dogs

Mummy Dogs

All you need is hot dogs, a tube of crescent rolls, peppercorns, ketchup, and mustard.  Cut the crescent roll dough into strips.  Wrap the strips around the hot dogs leaving a small space uncovered for the mummy faces.  Bake them at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Just before you serve them, put peppercorns on them for the eyes – or you could draw faces with ketchup and mustard instead.  Then gobble them up and get on your way to trick-or-treating!  Happy Halloween!

Acorn Donut Holes

A couple years ago I discovered the amazing-ness that is Nutella when I made these darling little acorns for the first time.  I can’t imagine how I had missed it up until then, but after making these fall treats, I was hooked!  These little goodies are so quick and easy and are the perfect way to spruce up your run of the mill cider and donuts party.

I first found these on Pinterest.  All you need is donut holes, Nutella, toffee bits, and pretzel sticks.

Acorn Ingredients

Acorn Ingredients

Start by spreading Nutella on the top of a donut hole.  Then dip it in the toffee bits.  Finish by sticking part of a pretzel stick in the top for a stem.  That’s it!

Acorn Donut Holes

Acorn Donut Holes

Short, sweet, and delicious.  The Nutella and donut hole combination is unbelievably tasty.  A fall treat to make any squirrel envious!

Apple Cake Pops

It’s September!  Time for fall treats full of apple-y, caramel-y, cinnamon-y goodness!  How do apple cake pops sound?

First, some tips for making cake pops in general because they can be frustrating and disastrous.  They take a lot of practice to get right, but they can turn out great once you get the hang of it.  I used this Cake Pops book when I first started making them and then tweaked several of their ideas to make them work better for me.

Cake Pops Book

Cake Pops Book

Cake Pops Tips:

  • Start with your favorite cake recipe or cake mix.
  • I like to bake it in a jellyroll pan at 350 for 15 to 17 minutes.  The cake doesn’t need to look nice, and this is the quickest way to bake it.  Also it will cool faster in this pan when it is done baking.
Cake Batter in Jellyroll Pan

Cake Batter in Jellyroll Pan

  • Let the cake cool and then crumble it all up into a big bowl.  For some reason this is really fun and kind of relaxing to do!
  • Mix the crumbs with about 3/4 cup of your favorite frosting.  You can always add more frosting if it is too dry and doesn’t hold together in a little ball, but if you add too much frosting to start with the mixture will get too sticky and difficult to work with.

Cake Crumbs and Frosting

Cake Crumbs and Frosting
  • Form the crumb and frosting mixture into about 1 inch balls.  Put them into the freezer for a few minutes until they are firm.
  • Melt chocolate or candy coating in a deep bowl.  If it is deep, the cake balls will get a smoother coating.
  • After the cake balls have spent time in the freezer, dip a toothpick or some sort of stick into melted chocolate then into a cake ball.  This will help “glue” it all together.
  • Dip the whole cake ball into the melted chocolate and put it on wax paper to harden.

For the apple cake pops, I like to use spice cake and caramel frosting.  Sometimes I add in chunks of apple too.  I use pretzel sticks instead of toothpicks to look like stems.  Dip them in red candy coating and decorate with green frosting leaves.  Ta-da!

Apple Cake Pops

Apple Cake Pops

Apple cake pops – cute and tasty with all the great fall flavors in one bite!

 

 

Ice Cream Cones that WON’T MELT in Hot Summer Weather!

Make them into cupcakes!  These darling ice cream cone cupcakes are perfect for a last hurrah of summer!  When I was little, there was a restaurant in town that always had cupcakes in ice cream cones.  I thought they were the best thing ever.  My 9 year old mind boggled as to how such a thing was even possible.  So obviously, I was so excited when I found lots of “how to’s” for ice cream cone cupcakes all over Pinterest.  http://pinterest.com/alwayswonderful/

I thought that they would be really difficult to make, so I put off trying them.  I finally decided to give it a shot though, and I found they are actually quite easy!  I just used a cake mix and store bought frosting to save time.  As you can see, my ice cream cone cupcakes turned out great!

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Here are a few tips to make sure your ice cream cone cupcakes work out perfectly:

  • Make sure you get cones with flat bases.  Just stand them in regular muffin tins for baking.
  • Fill each cone with batter up to the point where the cone begins to flare out.
  • Bake them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  I was very worried the cones would burn, but they didn’t!
  • When it is time to test the cakes for doneness, use a skewer instead of a toothpick.  If the skewer comes out clean, they are done.  The toothpicks just aren’t long enough to test the cake down in the cones!
  • When they have cooled, frost them using a decorating tip.  You make want to practice once or twice to make sure you get a good ice cream “swirl” shape.  Sprinkle jimmies on the tops to make them look even more like ice cream cones.
  • The ice cream cone cupcakes didn’t melt like ice cream would, but they did start to get soggy the next day.  Some of the cones began to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!  I would suggest trying to serve them the same day they are made.  If you want to save some until the next day, you might want to try storing them in a container that is not airtight.  That might help a little with the sogginess.

I hope you enjoy these fun summer treats!

 

Burgers of the World

Nothing says summer like burgers, so this week’s post is all about burgers.  Not just any burgers though… I proudly present to you: BURGERS OF THE WORLD!!!

A few years ago, my husband and I wanted to grill out more and decided  it would be a fun summer project to come up with a variety of internationally themed burgers.  We usually start with a regular hamburger patty then add toppings.  Sometimes we use ground beef, sometimes veggie burgers, sometimes ground turkey.  So you can just pick your favorite type of burger and go from there!  We are still trying to refine and come up with new concoctions, but we have compiled a pretty good list – if you ask us.

Our favorite is our Italian Burger.  We use toasted Italian bread instead of a bun, mozzarella, basil leaves, and marinara sauce.

Italian Burger Ingredients

Italian Burger Ingredients

We put the burger on the bread, top it with marinara, put a slice of mozzarella on top of that, and finish it off with a few basil leaves.

Italian Burger

Italian Burger

Here is a list of some of the other “worldly” burgers we have come up with:

Mexican:  Use a tortilla instead of a bun and top with salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and shredded cheese.

Greek:  Use a pita instead of a bun and top with olives, tomatoes, and feta.  To be extra fancy, try using lamb instead of beef for the burger.

German:  Use a pretzel roll for the bun and top with sauerkraut.  Have some German potato salad on the side!

French:  Use a croissant instead of a bun and top with thin slices of ham and some Gruyere cheese and a bit of dijon mustard.

Hawaiian:  Use a sweet Hawaiian bun, switch out the burger with Spam, and top with pineapple.

Making “Burgers of the World” is a tasty way to be creative during the summer.  The possibilities are endless!  Enjoy, and please be sure to reply with international burger ideas of your own!

 

A Very Hungry Birthday!

Caterpillars, butterflies, fresh fruit – all perfect for summer, right?  We recently celebrated our daughter’s first birthday with a The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party.  We had waited a very long time for our daughter to arrive.  I found Very Hungry Caterpillar plates and napkins probably 3 or 4 years ago.  I went ahead and got them at the time in hopes that we would have a baby, and that baby would need a first birthday party someday!  It couldn’t have been more perfect that our daughter ended up having a summertime birthday just made for a The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party!

This party was so much fun to prepare.  Eric Carle’s book provides so many great possibilities!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A lot of my ideas for the party came from Pinterest.  Check out my Pinterest page to see my inspirations! http://pinterest.com/alwayswonderful

One of my favorite projects was making a caterpillar with pictures to show how our daughter had grown each month throughout her first year.

Month by Month Caterpillar

Month by Month Caterpillar

For the food, I chose foods from the book like apples, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, swiss cheese, and salami as well as butterfly shaped crackers and brownies.  (By the way, this would work for more than just a party – gathering up food for a Very Hungry Caterpillar picnic would be a fun activity for any summer day!)

Very Hungry Caterpillar Food

Very Hungry Caterpillar Food

The cake was a lot of fun to make: individual cupcakes decorated to look like the caterpillar and fruit from the story.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes

Finally, I filled the goody bags with rainbow lollipops, m&m caterpillars (I filled a long skinny plastic bag with red and green m&ms), and fruit snack butterflies (I filled a small bag with fruit snacks, pinched it in the middle, and twisted a pipe cleaner around it).  I could also see making these as part of a The Very Hungry Caterpillar lesson at school.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Favors

Very Hungry Caterpillar Favors

It was a very special day.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer or our precious baby!