Friday, March 28, 2014

Candied Nuts with Yogurt

A couple of days ago I was craving something sweet. Unfortunately we didn't really have anything in our cupboard to fulfill my craving...including all the pantry staples like flour, oil, know, all the ingredients needed for cookies. Don't you just hate when you run out of everything all at the same time? Luckily, I did have some almond slices, pecan pieces, sugar and cinnamon. Put those together and you get some of this...

Candied Nuts
2/3 cup Sliced Almonds
1/3 cup Pecan Pieces
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 cup. Coconut

Put nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a nonstick pan over low - low medium heat. Move the ingredients around the pan to prevent burning. Just keep stirring until the sugar begins to melt and the nuts start to toast. Once that happens, turn the heat off, but keep the pan on the burner and keep stirring until the sugar is completely melted and the nuts are coated. Pour into a bowl and add the coconut while the nuts are still hot and mix them together. Let cool. Store in air tight container.

*My Notes*
~These measurements are completely estimated. I have made this a few time now and I never measure. Really just do however much you want. If you want a more sugary shell add more sugar. Want less, more or no cinnamon? Done. No coconut? It is so flexible, I haven't messed it up yet!
~These nuts are so tasty by themselves and soooo good with vanilla yogurt, parfait style. I haven't tried it yet but I bet it would be so good sprinkled on some ice cream! Or add some M&M's or chocolate chips and some raisins after the nuts have cooled and you have a little trail mix!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Candy Land Birthday Part 2

Okay, here are the recipes I used for Anne's Candy Land party, then we will be done with birthdays for a little while. I have a fun picture display craft I am working on I can't wait to finish and show you!

If you haven't seen Part 1, go check it out!

Let's start with the cheese pinwheels using my easy pizza dough.

Cheese Pinwheels    Serves: about 12 pinwheels

   Pizza Dough
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup warm water
3 tsp Yeast
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3-4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 450. Combine yeast and warm water to activate. Meanwhile warm milk in sauce pan to a light simmer. While the yeast bubbles up and the milk is warming, in a bowl combine the oil, sugar and butter. Add the warmed milk and stir together.  Add 2 cups flour and mix (it will be dry). Add the activated yeast. Stir together (it will be wet and sticky). Now add small amounts of flour to get a nice, soft dough. Knead the flour in with your hands. Shape. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

*My Notes*
~When I am adding the flour after the yeast has gone in I start with 1/2 cup. Stir that in, then ditch the spoon and use my hands. It is still pretty sticky. I do all my kneading right in the bowl. Keep adding small amounts of flour until it is soft.
~I usually let the dough rest while I prep the pan. If I am doing pizza I use a cookie sheet and lightly spray it so the dough doesn't stick.
~Again, for pizza I just press the dough into the pan, working it until it covers the pan. Then I use a fork and stab it all over to pop the air bubbles.

   Cheese Pinwheels
1 recipe Pizza Dough
1 cup Cheese (to taste)
Italian Seasoning

Make pizza dough. Roll it out flat like you would for cinnamon rolls. Sprinkle cheese, covering the dough. Sprinkle some Italian Seasoning. Roll dough up cinnamon roll style. Then slice the dough about 1 inch thick. Place the rolls onto a cookie sheet or in a 9X13 pan. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

*My Notes*
~I use cheddar cheese when I make these because that is usually what I have on hand. Any cheese would work though. 
~Adjust the amount of cheese used to fit your family and preferences.
~I line my pan with parchment paper, melted cheese on a pan is awful to clean up. And I bake mine in a 9X13 pan. One batch of pinwheels fit perfect.
~Probably obvious, but you can season yours however you want. I love Italian seasoning and use it whenever I can. And you don't need a lot.

Next let's make the yummy Ice Cream and Pudding Cake.

It looks really messy. I did that on purpose. The pudding was suppose to be "Swamp Glop" so the goal of this cake was not to be pretty.
This is how I did it...

Ice Cream and Pudding Cake

12 Ice cream Sandwiches
2 small boxes Chocolate Pudding
3 1/2 cups Milk
1 baked Chocolate Cake

Bake the cake (be sure to grease the pan really well so you can get the cake out of the pan in one piece). Once the cake is cooled you can assemble. Cut the cake in half (so you have 2 full length cake layers). Because this cake has multiple layers, I made it smaller. I only used 6 ice cream sandwiches for each layer. So I took 6 sandwiches (still wrapped) and placed on top of the cake, in the middle to measure, then cut the cake around the sandwiches to get my cake the right size. Then  I separated the cake layers. In the pan I put the first layer of cake, poked holes in the cake with the end of a wooden spoon. Whisk the milk and pudding mix together. It will thicken up quick and it will be very thick. Then I poured enough pudding on top of the cake to cover it (spreading it around with spatula) being sure to fill in the holes. Next I unwrapped 6 sandwiches and laid side by side on top of the pudding, pressing down slightly to "glue" them in place with the pudding. Next I used the cake scraps to form a second layer of cake. Then added more pudding to cover the cake. Then added the rest of the ice cream sandwiches, then topped with the remaining cake layer, poked holes in the cake. Then I dumped the rest of the pudding on top and spread it around being sure to push the pudding over the edges so it will spill over, making it look "gloppy". Place in the freezer for 2-3 hours.

*My Notes*
~The cool thing about this cake is that you can make it any size you want with however many layers you want!
~If you only want two layers of cake be sure to start with a layer of sandwiches so you end up with a cake layer on top.
~This cake looks like it would be super rich, but it isn't. In fact we needed a little bit more sweet, so the second time I made it, for the party (I made a small tester cake before the party) I added mini chocolate chips to the cake batter.
~I kept the ice cream sandwiches in the freezer until I was ready to unwrap and place on the cake so they wouldn't get too soft and melty while I was assembling.
~I probably had close to a whole box of pudding for the top of the cake. I tried to save enough so I had a lot to push over the edges. But I still had good amounts of pudding on the other cake layers.
~You can freeze this cake for days if you want. I don't like the pudding frozen solid, so I found that if I make it and get it in the freezer before I get started on dinner then it is perfect when it is time for dessert. We even had it out on the counter for 10ish minutes before we cut into it, so it had thawed a bit. It was perfect!
~You can serve the cake with a dollop of whip cream on top and some peanut butter topping, it is yummy!

And the last recipe is the Peanut Butter Ice Cream Topping. I warmed it up so we could drizzle it over the cake (like hot fudge). It turns kind of solid in the fridge. I found this recipe over at Real Mom Kitchen she has a ton of fun and yummy stuff! Go over and check her out.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Topping

1 (14 oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Butter or Margarine
1/2 Peanut Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla

Put all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the butter and peanut butter have melted and blended together. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

*My Notes*
~This is so easy! I love it! It keeps in the fridge for about 2 weeks! It will start to get gritty and crystallized after that.
~It is super yummy as a dip for apple or bananas or anything you like peanut butter on!

All yummy, easy recipes. I'm sorry I don't have step by step pictures for any of these. If you have questions with anything, please please let me know!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Candy Land Birthday

I just want to start with a disclaimer: I  am fully aware that a one year old doesn't need an "all out" birthday party. However, it was the perfect opportunity for me to plan and throw a party and I was all over it! That being said, because this party was for a one year old I didn't go all'll see what I mean.  So don't judge, just enjoy! Hopefully I can give you ideas for your own Candy Land party and please improve on them to make your party even better! Also this is a long post with a lot of pictures.

First Jason designed a cute invite to be emailed to the families. He didn't understand the need of an invite, and really there wasn't a need, but it was fun for the kids and it got them excited!

We had the party at my sister's house.  She has this nice open basement and I knew immediately it would be perfect for a life size game of Candy Land! I got online to see if I could get any ideas. Holy Moly! I couldn't believe the kinds of things that have been done! Like this (be sure to check out her part 2 also) or this. There are so many  more fun ideas, go ahead and check it out, just google Candy Land party there are a ton! I knew I couldn't (oh but I wanted to) do a party at this scale. I didn't have a ton of space, it wasn't my own space, we were traveling so I would have had to pack it all, and time, I had exactly 1 week to plan, prep and perfect. So this is what I came up with and, though it isn't huge and showy, I think it turned out pretty cute and everyone had a blast!

This is how I did it...

Let's start with the life size game.
For the board I just got a multi colored pack of construction paper and cut each sheet of paper in half. I printed off the different pictures for the pink specialty pieces and just taped the pictures onto the pink papers. I also did three licorice spaces.

Then for the cards I just cut one inch squares of the construction paper and taped them onto the cards. I used a deck of cards I bought at Michaels a couple of years ago in the dollar bins. Because they are circles they don't get used much for normal game playing so I didn't feel bad about using them. And they were the perfect size don't you think?

For the lands and characters I found some balloon sticks on clearance at Zurchers and taped them into ice cream buckets. For the characters I just printed off some coloring pages I found online and colored them as close to the game board as I could. Then I cut out candy shapes out of foam board and wrote the lands on them, then taped them to the balloon stick. I also wrote little blurbs for each of the characters like they were introducing themselves.

And then in each of the buckets I put a little treat that represented that character/land for the kids to collect as they passed them.

For dinner I planned an easy, cheap meal. Spaghetti, salad, jello and rolls. Easy peasy, I also tied each food item to the game and used little cards to identify what they were. (This is one of those things I didn't go "all out" on, the display is pathetic.)

( Ranch colored red)
 (Jello Jigglers made with Jolly Rancher Jello, Yum!)
(Cheese Pinwheels stuck on paper straws)

Okay so that was the prep work.
Here is the party!

My nieces and nephew were so excited for this party. We went down Friday night and had the party Sunday before coming back home. The kids were practically planning the party that I had worked so hard to do myself. I had to stop them from making the rainbow path throughout the house, putting up pictures of the characters and making the game. I was trying to keep everything a secret so it would be a surprise, but they made it hard. One niece had the way cute idea to make crowns for the girls. She printed off coloring pages of crowns and then taped them onto her head bands. They went through the dress up clothes and dressed like the characters. It was cute.

When it was finally time for the party we ate dinner. Then the kids got a card from King Kandy, he was suppose to come and give them a tour of his kingdom but he got delayed at his castle and left the kids instructions to follow the rainbow path to find him. He told them to stop along the way to meet his friends and collect treats from each of them. The idea was that they would stop at each of the characters and read their introduction...yeah right! There was too much excitement they just wanted to play the game and collect the treats.

And then the game began!

The kids had so much fun! Anne didn't really know what was going on, but she had fun too. She even won! She loved drawing her cards and loved the cotton candy she collected from King Kandy at his sad, pathetic looking castle. Don't you just love the outfit the kids picked out for her? I'm not sure who she is suppose to be.

Once everyone made their way to the castle it was time for some birthday cake!
Ice Cream and Pudding Cake
Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream Topping

We sang and blew out a candle, and everybody dug in!

Lots of fun! Be sure to check out part two! I figured this post is really long so I put my recipes in a second post. Part 2 includes the how to for the pinwheels using a really easy pizza dough recipe, the ice cream cake and the peanut butter topping! You don't want to miss it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Annali Turned One...and had Cake!

We celebrated Annali's first birthday last month!!!

We kept is simple. I had scouts that night, so we did dinner and cake when I got home. I made this super yummy yellow cake...from scratch. I will give you the recipe, but first I want to be a proud mama for a second.

My blog is titled Toadly Good and I love to do tutorials of crafts and yummy food that I  think are good (and I hope you do too). But today I just want to talk a little about the best good thing in my life. My family! I seriously can't get enough of them! I am able to stay home and be with Anne every day, all day. My husband is the best supporter in this, he works hard to make it possible for us. Yes, having a baby is hard...especially when she is just now sleeping through the night and she doesn't want to eat anything so I am constantly worried that she isn't getting the goodness she needs in her body. But she is the best little girl that it is easy to look past that and see what an amazing blessing she is. She has turned into a very snuggly little girl and I LOVE it! She is always smiling and laughing. And I love the look she gets when she accomplishes something she believes a great feat. I can just tell she is so proud of herself! I love her so much and I am the luckiest mom in the world!

I could go on and on, but I promised a cake recipe, so here it is...
This is the link for the original recipe, there are a lot of tips and different ideas in the reviews that I used to make my cake a success.

Yummy Yellow Cake

2 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup Milk
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
3 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, set aside for later. In a large bowl cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating really well before adding the next. Add a bit of the flour mixture, mix, add a little milk, mix, add the flour etc... Stir in the vanilla. Pour batter into a greased 9X13 pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

*My Notes*
~To avoid the heavy cornbread like texture that can be produced by a scratch cake you want to incorporate lots of air into the batter. So I beat the batter a lot between the eggs and the flour/milk trade off.

Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

2 cups Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar (adjust for taste preference)
1 small box Chocolate Pudding

Whip cream until it just begins to thicken. Add the powdered sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form, but before it turns to butter! Dump dry pudding mix in and carefully fold into the cream. MMMmmm!

It is a two layer, star shaped cake. It isn't pretty, and I didn't get a very good picture of it before Anne dug in. But she loved it and that's all that matters!

Her birthday was quiet, but we did do a bigger party for her a couple of weeks ago down in Ephraim. I will have a post up about that tomorrow...hopefully.