Valentine Cake Pops

Valentine'sI know, I know it’s a week and a half after Valentine’s day. But you see my youngest daughter who just started going to a speech class twice a week just had her Valentine’s day party at school today. Well, not really party, but they handed out Valentine’s. All because every day she had school there was a snow day or a delay meaning her class was canceled. So she hasn’t been at school for two weeks. No school means no Valentine’s party.

But today was snow free and ice free so she finally had class. I was worried that with such a long break the slight success we had finally seen the last time she was at school was going to be completely lost. But girl be a sucker for a party and giving out treats so I had to make these Valentine’s good. I decided I would make cake pops.  Despite my husband’s doubts at my ability to accomplish this without having a special cake pop machine, I managed to pull it off. I got the idea from Hungry Happenings for them, but I skipped a lot of what she did on hers. While it was cute I couldn’t figure out how it would travel to school so I decided to simplify. I mean, we’re talking about 3 year olds here. I’m sure just the fact that they had cake on a stick was a dream come true for them. Even with my simplifying this recipe I have to say it wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

The Cake

I started out with a chocolate cake. I opted to go with the Hershey recipe that’s on the back of the Unsweetened Cocoa rather than my usual recipe because it’s less rich than the one I usually make. I placed the cake into my stand mixer to break it up. Then I added half a cup of white frosting to the cake and mixed it until it could form a ball. Then I started rolling my cake into balls. I made them the size of my ice cream scoop.

Decorating

I melted some white candy melts and inserted a pop stick into the melted candy and put it inside the cake balls. While that hardened I colored some coconut red. I had started out dipping the cake into the melted candies to coat and then dipping in the coconut, but the candy was hardening too fast and it wasn’t letting the coconut stick to it.  So instead I covered them with the rest of the white frosting I had. The coconut stuck to this much better. I had some candy eyes which I placed on the cake pops and held them there with the melted candy melts.  And that was pretty much it.

Valentine Cake Pops

They should have had feet and antennae, but I don’t think I could have covered them and transported them to school without breaking something or losing something off of one. I still think they were cute without all of that and my daughter’s teachers were very impressed with them.  I placed them in small cellophane bags and tied it around the pop stick.  I tied the Valentine cards to the ribbon.  And that was that.  I only needed six for my daughter’s class so the rest I had (about 14) stayed home for us to enjoy and they were very tasty.  The cake was extremely moist. I wish I could have gotten that candy coating to work because I think that would have added more of a crunch to the whole thing, but all in all they were a hit. My daughter couldn’t have been more please to hand out her Valentine’s for the first time this year.

What is your favorite Valentine treat recipe?

Valentine’s Day Snack Ideas

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Image courtesy of maple/Free Digital Photos

Do your kids schools allow for Valentine’s Day parties?  Mine does not, but they are allowed to exchange Valentine’s.  We can’t send in any treats though.  Sigh, this is a bad rule for a mom who’s a baker.  Because I see all sorts of really great and fun treats I would love to share with my kids and their classmates, but I can’t.  Well, I could if I threw a Valentine’s Day party in my home, but that’s not happening.  Too much to do too little time and all that jazz.

But I know plenty of you are allowed to send in fun Valentine’s Day treats so I thought I’d share with you my own little round up of Valentine’s Day desserts that either I have done in the past (prior to this terrible awful rule that I totally do understand and will respect, but makes the baker in me all pouty) or would love to give a try and maybe I will for my kids.  Any excuse to celebrate with cake is a good thing after all.

Valentine’s Day Treats

Valentine's Day Cake Balls, pops, warm fuzzy, warm fuzzies, cute, kids, party favors, dessertHow cute are these Valentine’s Day fuzzy cake balls from Hungry Happenings?  I will warn you this does appear to be time consuming to me, but I love the end result.  I also would say that this is probably not for the beginner.  The antennae are all things you will make yourself with this tutorial, but you might be able to find something else you can use to make the antennae.  Get creative and think outside of the box.

I might give these a try actually for my youngest daughter’s Valentines even.  There are only five children in her class so I wouldn’t have to do a whole batch.  But it looks like there are lots of different options including a cupcake topper, stand on its own cake ball, or turning it into a cake pop.

IMG_04561Here’s something similar to one I tried, baking a heart inside a cupcake.  Mine did not come out nearly as nice as what’s pictured here because my hearts wouldn’t stand up in the cupcake batter.  Looking at this tutorial I think that’s because my cupcake batter was too thin.  But other than that when I did it, these weren’t too difficult to make and it makes for a nice little happy surprise when you bite into your cupcake.  There are numerous different ways to do this.  You can make the heart out of a red velvet cake or just  dye a white cake pink or red.  Who wouldn’t love to have your heart though?  Very cute and even with mine not standing up my kids loved it last year.

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Heart shaped cupcakes.  If you can bake a cupcake, then you can do these.  It’s for any level.  All you have to do is put a marble or small piece of tinfoil between the side of the cupcake tin and the cupcake paper.  This will push the paper in just enough to form the heart shape for your cupcake.  It doesn’t get much easier than that for something that will have people asking, “How’d you do that?”

Here’s a great recipe with some decoration tips for you, or just use your favorite cupcake recipe to make yours.

This is a cupcake I have made.  For a simple to make cupcake this worked out great.   It has been a while since I did it, but as I recall the kids really like it.

conversation-heart-fudge-valentines-day-recipe-photo-420-FF0203VALENA12And finally, to go a little different, try this conversation heart fudge.  I made this fudge a few years ago as a gift for my kids teachers for Valentine’s day.  It was relatively simple to make.  You do have to be very careful with the white chocolate that it does not burn, but all in all it’s a very fun Valentine’s recipe to make.  Using colored saran wrap to wrap up each individual piece of fudge is going to make these very festive and a great gift or quick grab treat at your child’s class Valentine’s Day party.

These are just a few of the fun Valentine’s recipes I would have loved to try or do again for a class party.  Well, it would have been my kids choice.  I would have given them their options and my guess is they would have chosen the most labor intensive one, the fuzzy cake balls.  But that’s probably what I would want them to pick anyways.  I’m always up for a challenge.

Let me know if you try any of these and send me a picture.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans this year?

Did You Miss It?

Did something come up on Saturday and you had to miss my Pampered Chef/Gourmet cupboard brunch birthday party?

Was there something you just had to get for that hard to shop for person on your list?  Is there something that you just really need to make your holidays and food prep go easier this year?

Well, you’re in luck then because this party is still happening.  It is the place to be too people.  Get your orders in while you still can because this isn’t going to last forever.

Let Me Introduce You To Pampered Chef

I mean most of you have probably heard about their products.  I’ve been in the know about them for over twenty years.  As a matter of fact when I was in 5th grade I remember we made our own pizzas.  Some of the students moms came in to help us make pizza and in my group the mom who came in had brought her Pampered Chef pizza stone.  That was my very first introduction to Pampered Chef.  And I’ll never forget of all of the pizzas in that class ours came out the best.  With a perfect crust just like you would get from a real pizza place.  The cheese melted so nicely.  It was great.

I think that’s what Pampered Chef is most known for is their stoneware and I own quite a bit of their stoneware.  I have only started accumulating Pampered Chef items over the past few years thanks to my cousin being a Pampered Chef representative.  I threw a party to help her out to start and it kind of got me hooked on the stuff.  It makes cooking fresh healthy foods easy and possible.  No more frozen entrees.  You can do the same thing in as little time with little work from Pampered Chef tools.  And it’s going to be cheaper and taste better.

For example, a relatively new product is this individual brownie pan.  The idea behind it is it makes it so you have uniform brownie pieces every time.  But you can do so much more in the brownie pan.  My cousin has been talking about it for the past year or so that it has been out so that was the product I requested that she really show case this year at my party.  So we made individual omelets.  Everyone put their own stuff into their omelet and we put it into the wells of the brownie pan and into the oven they went.  15 minutes on 350 in the oven and you end up with 12 perfect omelets.  Seriously, there was no cheese falling out all over the place.  It was puffy and baked perfectly and honestly I don’t know why I haven’t been making my omelets in the oven my whole life.  Well, I do know, it’s because I didn’t have this pan.  You can do anything in here too.  From breakfast all the way to dessert.

My Gourmet Cupboard representative had purchased this brownie pan during my show last year I think.  She recently made mini meatloafs in her pan.  If you have a picky eater in the house that doesn’t like certain seasoning you can make him that just right meatloaf that he’s going to love.  Everyone is happy.  And there’s no cutting the meatloaf.  You can easily store them for leftovers.  I’m seriously sold on this pan.  I can make anything to everyone’s tastes in this without dirtying a bunch of pans, that’s great for any mom.

Pampered Chef loves their hostesses and guests too.  There’s something for everyone whether you host a party or go to one.  As a hostess this month I get a free cutting board that has a $34 value, but I also get discounts on certain items and for the next year every time I order I also get 10% off my purchases.  This months guest special is if you spend $75 or more then you get to choose for free either the large serving spatula, the slice ‘N serve, or the mini serving spatula.  They have up to a $10 value and you get it for free, but only if you order from a show in the month of November.  So that’s what I’m here for.  If you want to get one of these items for free just order from my show.

So are you ready to place your order with Pampered Chef?  Have I convinced you that it’s worth it yet?  If so then please go to this Pampered Chef website (it must be the one I have linked here) and put in Monica Barnes as your host.  If you are local to me you can skip on paying shipping and we can arrange to meet up somewhere when it comes to my house.  If not though the shipping costs really aren’t that bad.  Get your Christmas shopping done.  Need something for your Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner?  Then buy it now.  The show closes on Saturday November 10, 2012 so you should have it in time for Thanksgiving.

The Gourmet Cupboard

Now this is a company that you might not have heard of.  They are relatively new.  They sell food mixes.  You can cook a complete meal with them, make dessert, and they even have various different flavors of drinks like coffee and tea.

So are you the type of person who loves baked goods, but are just a terrible baker?  Well, this might be just the thing for you.  Gourmet Cupboard mixes are in a bag.  There are recipes right on the label of what you can do to make into a cake or bread or what have you.  You simply add a few ingredients to the already measured mixes and bake.

But it’s not just baked goods.  You can make soup and chili with this.  You can do all sorts of cuisine from Asian to Italian with their mixes.  Savory dips to sweet.  There are even diabetic friendly options.  All of the items have the nutritional information written right on them with instructions of how to make them.  You can even get cook books through them that give other ideas of how to use their mixes.

For example on Saturday we made a Mimosa Muffin which used the beer bread mix.  While we steered clear of the alcohol in it we could have made them true Mimosas, but we opted not to.  My son ate two of those the other day.  While the alcohol would have baked off had we used alcohol I was kind of glad we stuck with ginger ale.  It was really easy to make though.  The beer bread mix from Gourmet Cupboard with one orange, 6 ounces of orange juice, and 6 ounces of ginger ale (or beer or champagne would have worked too).  Mix it all together and into the muffin pans on 375 for 25 minutes.  Ours got stuck to the muffin papers so you might want to skip the muffin papers.

Everything was delicious and so easy to make too.  We even made chips and dip.  Homemade chips using Pampered Chefs chip maker which we just put in the microwave.  We figured out by the way that making your own chips is about 60 calories a serving.  Go ahead and get a bag of chips and see how many calories, I’ll wait.  Making them yourself you just have the calories from the potatoes.  Of course if you add the Gourmet Cupboard spinach dip that we used on Saturday which was delicious I might add (this coming from a girl who never cared for spinach) it will add more calories.  But if you use a low fat sour cream which is always an option with everything from The Gourmet Cupboard, then you are doing a little better with the dip.  The chips came out of the microwave very crisp and the dip was a nice savory combination to the homemade chips.

5 Star Coconut Pie from The Gourmet Cupboard

The Gourmet Cupboard offers monthly specials too.  Here is November/December’s special:
Purchase the following:
Caramel Pecan Pie
Peanut Butter Pie
5 Star Coconut Pie
Heavenly Chocolate Pie
And receive a FREE Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie

Retail Cost: $18.25
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
November/December Host/Hostess Special:
Heavenly Chocolate Pie
Key Lime Pie
Strawberry Lemonade Dip/Pie
German Chocolate Pie
Aunt Sherry’s Pie Crust

Retail: Regular Price: $22.00 Sale- $17.00

I’m looking at the 5 Star Coconut Pie. While I normally bake pie this is one my husband likes and while he enjoys my baking he prefers a store bought pie. This seems like a good compromise to me, don’t you think?

So pairing Pampered Chef with The Gourmet Cupboard gives you the ease of processed foods, but without all of the added sodium and the calories and other unhealthy things from processed foods.  You can enjoy a family dinner and make something in 15 minutes that everyone will enjoy.  All while using fresh and good for you ingredients.  If you would like to check out The Gourmet Cupboard and all they have to offer then check out my link here.  This show will end November 23rd.  So you won’t have stuff in time for Thanksgiving, but you can get what you need for your Holiday baking in time.

I do hope you find something you like.  Whether it’s for yourself or as a gift for someone else.  Putting these products together really will make a great gift basket.  They compliment each other well.

What is your favorite Pampered Chef and Gourmet Cupboard item?

Pi Day

Today is Pi Day.  3.14 is a math term to represent what’s known as Pi and of course the word Pi makes us think of the other Pie, the one we eat.  Mmmm pie.  I have had a lot of pie this weekend.  I made an apple pie to go along with my Thanksgiving in March meal I made on Sunday, but we also had a chocolate cream pie which while I did not make and it was store bought it was delicious!

So today my Pampered Chef consultant was asking what our favorite pie is and I was quick to respond chocolate cream pie.  She later messaged me and said, “Hey Monica if you want to blog your pie recipe and post it on my page you can.  I’m promoting my customers pages today.”  I thought well gee my favorite pie is super easy to make.  There’s really not much to it and I wasn’t even sure it was worth blogging.  But being in a bloggy funk I figured this might be the perfect way to get out of it.  So you’re in for a treat.  My favorite pie recipe to share with you for Pi Day…

Ingredients

1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 graham cracker instant pie crust
2 cups milk
Cool Whip (optional)

Directions

In a mixing bowl combine the instant pudding and milk.  Whisk for 2 minutes.  Pour over pie crust and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Cut and serve with a dollop of Cool Whip if desired.

And there you have it an easy no bake delicious pie for Pi Day.  So tell me what’s your favorite pie?

By the way, I am currently hosting a Pampered Chef party.  Go check it out and see the new Pampered Chef products and I would love if you would purchase something as a part of my show.
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Crockpot Ranch Chicken

I was recently asked by one of my readers for a recipe in the crockpot that did not have onions.  I’m not a big fan of onions myself so I enjoyed this challenge.  I actually found a few recipes that I really do hope to try very soon, but hadn’t gotten around to doing.  It has been a crazy week or so.

Yesterday though, my husband pulled out the crockpot and started making his version of Ranch Chicken.  Normally he does this in the oven, but I think he was in a set it and forget it kind of mood so he tossed it in there to cook for the day so we could enjoy the pleasant aroma all day long.  And I got my camera and snapped a few pictures of it going together so I could share it with all of you.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 packages Ranch dressing mix
  • 1-16 oz bottle of Ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup of milk

 Directions

If you did not purchase thin sliced chicken breast then split the breasts in half.  Next sprinkle the chicken breast with the Ranch dressing mix.  Season both sides of the chicken.

Chicken breast seasoned with Ranch dressing mix

Now you can pour some of the Ranch dressing into the bottom of the bowl of the crockpot.  Just enough to fill the bottom.  Layer the chicken on top adding more Ranch dressing to each layer of chicken.  Mix about half a cup of milk with the ranch dressing left in the bottle and pour that over the top of the chicken and if you have any remaining Ranch dressing mix sprinkle that over everything in the crockpot…

Crockpot Ranch Chicken ready to cook!

Cover it and cook on high for 4 hours.  Or you can cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Side Suggestions And Opinions

We then made noodles and mixed vegetables when it was just about time to eat to go along with this.  It was so flavorful and moist.  All of my children loved it.

So there you have it a quick set it and forget it meal for six that had no onions in it!  I have a few more crockpot recipes I am looking forward to trying out soon too for you all so check back.

What’s your favorite crockpot recipe?  Did you make it up yourself or find it online or in a recipe book?
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