Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake

The combination of those three things: chocolate, caramel and salt just can't be beat! They are delicious - and ever since I tasted the best cupcake from a little cupcake shop in Arkansas called Fat-Bottomed Cupcake Girls, I have been craving this cupcake. So when the kids and I got up on our first day off this week and sat and watched two Cupcake Wars back to back it was inevitable. We had to bake some!

I got so many comments over my cupcake on Facebook that I had to post the recipe and of course I figure if I have to post it why not here on my blog?! So here it is. Now the only thing I will say is I am actually not a huge chocolate fan so I use a homemade chocolate cake recipe for the cake part so if you are a die-hard chocolate fan go ahead and just use the box mix. However, substitute the water with buttermilk and add an extra egg - you will never do it the box way again!

If you do want to try this recipe though here it is:

Chocolate Cupcakes
(Adapted from "Hello Cupcake" by Karen Tack)

1 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 TBLS) unsalted butter, softened (I used regular butter & it worked fine)
1 Cup of brown sugar
3-4 Tbls. sugar
2 large eggs
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (I actually used mini chocolate chips)
1 Cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffly, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the melted chocolate. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating just until belended. Stir in the vanilla.

4. Fill the paper liners 2/3 full with the batter and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the baking pan, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool compltely.


1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 stick (8 tbls.) unsalted butter, softened (again I used real butter)
1 box (16 oz, more or less as desired) powdered sugar
2-3 Tbls. Milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Heavy Whipping Cream
Caramel Sauce

1. Combine the cream cheese and the butter in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until luight and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Gradually add the powdered sugar and 2 tbls of the milk and beat until smooth. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and the remaining 1 tbls. milk if the mixture is too thick.

3. Pour about a cup or two (I made this part up so sorry I didn't measure) of heavy whipping cream into a seperate medium bowl. (Depending on how your frosting came out decide upon amount of whipped cream you would like to add, mine came out very runny and not stiff like frosting so I added quite a bit of whipped cream. However if yours is already fairly stiff and holding form you may only want to add a little.) Beat cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar to desired sweetness and beat until stiff peaks form. Add in vanilla extract and beat just until combined. then pour the whipping cream into cream cheese mixture and gently fold it in.

4. Spoon frosting into a ziploc bag and seal. Cut 1/4 hole at corner of bag and begin piping frosting onto cupcakes.

5. Then gently chop pretzels and sprinkle pieces on top of each cupcake. Drizzle caramel sauce over entire cupcake and finish with a dash of sea salt on top - just a little! And indulge!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Bulletin Board

This is a simple Thanksgiving bulletin board idea and can easily be adapted for older kids. Make each child write a sentence strip of a quote or poem - or write about the indians or pilgrims - or what they are thankful for....the list goes on and on. Make it what you want but hopefully this basic idea will help inspire you!

Thanksgiving Placemat Craft: Indian Corn

Every year our teachers make place mats for our school wide Thanksgiving Feast! Last year took a lot of work as I had the toddlers make a TON of yellow, red and brown dots to make Indian Corn. I was determined to find an easier place mat for young toddlers this year. I accomplished my task!! Check out what I found:
This is one of the place mats we made this year. The outside are simple pattern sponge rollers you can find at most teacher or craft stores. I did 2 or 3 each of the different patterns. One was polka dots, one was a plain stripe and so on. Some I did all four sides and some just the outsides. It's up to you!

The main part of it is the kids hand print. You can trace their hand and cut it out or you can capture the actual hand print as I did by painting their hands yellow and making a hand print on a plain white piece of paper. Then cut out around their hand print. Next take a hole punch to some dark and light brown paper and glue sporadically onto their cutout hand. I free handed the simple corn stalk out of green paper and the banner out of yellow. I even outlined the yellow banner myself with a sharpie marker. Then I personalized with their name and the year.
SO SIMPLE yet so pretty and a great keepsake for years to come! Make sure and laminate or the food will ruin them!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Football Party w/ a Chic Twist

My dad loves college football! Mix that with being out of the country for the past three months and he was a bit deprived of his lazy game day Saturdays! So for his birthday we gave him just that! We got the idea straight from a "Better Home and Garden" Magazine.
Start by painting white lines on butcher paper that you've covered your table with. Measure them out, you need 11 I believe in all.

Next carefully paint your best football numbers! They don't have to be perfect, the goal is rustic.

Roll down some brown paper bags (you can add in white bags for variety) and add your best snacks!

Wrap up your gifts with remaining butcher paper and raffia.

Don't forget every one's bets on the games that day! Our winners won a candy bar.

Bring it all together and voila! Or should I say TOUCHDOWN!

Best part? Guests can make a huge mess and you just fold it all up in the paper afterwards and throw away!

My dad is from Ohio so the Ohio State game was kind of a big deal that day :)

Need a meal idea that's simple and easy to entertain with - chili bowl! Perfect for chilly days filled with football and cheering. Just set out all the fixin's and it's a relaxed buffet style meal.

Easy, yes. cheap, yes. So chic, YES! But still cool enough for the man (or little guy) in your life!

7 Day Photo Challenge Results

Now I remember why I don't do photo challenges. Because I am the absent minded professor who always FORGETS!! So join me and laugh at yourself for something today, remind yourself you ARE HUMAN, and enjoy my lousy three photos I DID manage to take.
Day 1 : Lego

Day 2: Cup

 Day 4: Pencil
Now let me explain...the pictures not my constant failed attempts at photo challenges! I refuse to explain myself for that. Day 1 was a piece of cake - my son has TONS of Lego's. He is a bit obsessed with them right now so it's the only one I could have fun with!
Day 2 was a normal rough day of battling toddlers among the minefield of Day School. This sad cup of coffee seemed liked a Pumpkin Spice Latte to me on a TIRED day!
Day 4 is sadly a shelf at my work. No the Easter coffee cup isn't mine, it was there when I moved in and posting this photo may finally motivate me to make the space more "mine". Which means cuter and way more organized! And believe it or not that orange ball thing is a pair of toddler socks...you keep these things on hand as a toddler teacher because you just never know what will happen!