What’s baking? Cupcake Day

It was the last Hot Lunch and Cupcake Day of the year, last week at our daughter’s school.

I volunteered to make cupcakes…

I love making cupcakes! I would bake cupcakes every month for the kiddos if they let me!

They’re not the prettiest cupcakes you’ve ever seen, but they sure tasted good and the kids loved ’em!

Here’s what I made:

Cupcakes

Perfect Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes

courtesy of LifeLoveandSugar.com

Ingredients:
1-2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
3 egg whites
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.

Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, add egg whites, vanilla, sour cream and milk to and mix on medium speed just until smooth. Do not over mix.

Fill cupcake liners a little more than half way.

Bake 18-20 minutes.

Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.

Best Chocolate Cupcakes

courtesy of addapinch.com

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon espresso powder
½ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325º F.
Place cupcake liners in muffin tin. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
Evenly distribute cake batter. Each cupcake liner should be about ¾ths full.
Place in the oven and bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

courtesy of addapinch.com

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
3 – 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch salt
2-3 tablespoons milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half

Directions:

Place softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on a medium setting and cream the butter until it is smooth and has lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
Add confectioner’s sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
Add milk, heavy cream or half-and-half until the frosting has reached the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioner’s sugar, a ¼ cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time.

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, spread or pipe the buttercream frosting onto each one and decorate with toppings of your choice or just leave ’em plain.

So AMAZINGLY good!

What’s for dinner? {Slow Cooker} Mississippi Roast

I made this last week as a trial run and it was pretty successful!

I had to make it again and share it with you!

Mississippi roast

{Slow Cooker} Mississippi Roast

Ingredients:

1 3lb chuck/ blade roast
1 1oz packet of dry ranch seasoning mix
1 1oz packet of dry au jus gravy mix
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup water

Directions:
Add ¼ cup of water into the insert of your slow cooker then place the chuck roast on top.
Sprinkle the dry ranch seasoning mix on top of the chuck roast, then sprinkle the dry au jus mix on top, then place 6 tbsp. of butter on top of the roast.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
Shred and serve with gravy.

Serve up with a pile of creamy mashed potatoes and some veggies of your choice!
Mississippi roast

Mississippi roast

I was worried that the kiddos wouldn’t like this, but boy was I wrong! They had seconds and leftovers the next day!

Christmas Country-Style #TimberlineCountryChristmas

Last weekend we ventured out to Maple Ridge to check out Timberline Ranch’s Country Christmas.

It was a bit of a drive, but we were pleased that we made it out there.

Timberline Country Christmas

Upon our arrival, we were greeted and given ballots to vote on our favourite Christmas trees, decorated by local businesses, and our tickets for the pony rides.

Voting for their favourite trees

 

Our little lady picked the purple one (of course), the wee lad, chose the one with cars on it and Mum and Dad voted for the same one (’cause great minds think alike).

After voting, we popped into the bakery and helped the cow hands decorate some sugar cookies to look like snowmen. The kiddos did a great job of decorating!

Save some icing for the cookies!

Save some icing for the cookies!

We hopped aboard the wagon and ventured on up to the barn where the petting zoo, pony rides and hay maze were. The kids loved the goats, llama, ponies, cow and donkey!

Llama

Baby cow

Goat

Donkey

The highlight of our visit was definitely the Pony Ride! Our daughter hadn’t been on a horse in quite a few years and Captain Awesome had never ridden one before.

Dude on a horse

Little lady on horseback

After running around through the Hay Maze, we hopped aboard the wagon again and drove around the property on our way back to the Lodge.

Once inside, we ventured downstairs and enjoyed the Snowball Room, the dress up photo ops, decorated a couple of ornaments and played a few games.

Tossing snowballs

Vintage costumes

Howdy

Making ornaments

Puzzles

The kids had a really fantastic time and the cosy feeling you get being on a ranch, really gives you a different perspective on Christmas. It was quite nice getting away from the hustle, bustle and noise of the city and just enjoy some peace, quiet and tranquility.

 

What’s for dinner? Kid-friendly Loaded Nachos

Every week should have a taco night!

Perhaps something along those lines, at least. The kids requested nachos instead ’cause they’re easier to handle when you have little hands.

Here’s what I made:

Loaded Nachos

Loaded Nachos

Ingredients:

1lb of ground beef/turkey or chicken

Taco seasoning*

1 bag of Tortilla chips

Canned, sliced black olives

1 or 2 fresh jalapeños, sliced

3 green onions, chopped

1 tomato, seeded and diced

2 or 3 cups of shredded cheese (cheddar, marble, mozzarella or something fancy like jalapeño cheddar or Tillimook’s Garlic Chili Cheddar)

*Taco Seasoning Recipe (kid-friendly)

1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients.

Directions:

In a medium skillet over medium heat add your ground meat and cook until browned. Drain off excess grease. Return to heat and sprinkle the taco seasoning all over. Add 3/4 cup water and cook until all the water is absorbed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet or pizza pan, place tortilla chips all over in a single layer. Sprinkle with tomatoes, olives, green onions, jalapeños and cheese.

Repeat this process two more times until you have three layers of goodness!

Place the nacho masterpiece in the preheated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, careful not to burn.

Remove from oven, serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole and dive in!

What’s baking? Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars

We’ve been invited to Christmas dinner at my sister-in-laws this year and I’m on dessert duty.

I pondered baking a cake or assembling some fancy pants show-offy scrumptiously decadent sweet creation. But I quickly came to my senses realizing that no one really ever has a heckuva lotta room after gorging on bird and all the sides.

I looked around and found this lighter recipe. This is my trial run, so I’ll be needing some Guinea pigs!

Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars

Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars

courtesy of Skinnytaste.com

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, unpacked
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped

For the Frosting:

8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 ounces white baking chocolate, melted*
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch non-stick baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and stir to blend.

In another bowl, whisk the sugars with the butter, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions until the batter is very well blended. If the batter looks more “crumbly” than smooth, add just a drop of water at a time (ONLY if needed) until it smooths out.

Fold in white chocolate chips and 1/3 cup cranberries. Spread batter onto the baking pan using the back of a measuring cup to smooth evenly.

Bake 10 – 14 minutes, until the edges are light brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Don’t over-bake or your bars will be dry. Let it cool completely on wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the frosting; in a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until well-blended. Frost bars and sprinkle with remaining cranberries. Drizzle with the melted white chocolate.

*To melt the chocolate, place in a microwave safe cup and heat 15 seconds; stir. Another 15 seconds; stir until the chocolate is melted.

When the chocolate sets, cut into 15 large squares (5 cuts by 3 cuts with the knife). Then cut each square in half diagonally to create triangles. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

“Oh my garsh!” as Goofy would say. These are sooooo scrumptious! And so delectable with a cuppa tea! Cheers!

What’s for dinner? Tater Tot Casserole

Today was a weird windy day!

The kids wanted to stay and play in the swirling leaves after school and before I knew it, it was 4 o’clock and we still had to hit up the grocery store!

Here’s what I whipped up:

Tater Tot Casserole

Tater Tot Casserole

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup*
1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup*
72 tater tots (onion flavored or regular)
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated*
*reduced fat soup and cheese can be used

Directions:

Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
Arrange tater tots in single layer.
Brown ground meat and onion together, drain.
Combine meat/ onion mixture & soup.
Spread evenly over tater tots.
Top with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

You can mix frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or corn for a veggie component or serve them up along side if your kiddos hate it when their food touches each other! Score another win for Mommy! The kids LOVED this!

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We brave the line-ups every year at the mall, just so the kiddos can have their picture taken with Santa and tell him what they have on their Wish List. He reminds them to be good and hands them a candy cane as they exit stage left.

Waiting in line for Santa

Somehow, this doesn’t seem too personal and that believable. This year, try adding a little more magic to your kiddos Christmas experience. Portable North Pole can do just that! Santa will speak directly to your child, by name, know personal details about them and talk to them about achievements that they’ve had over the past year and maybe help them with some of their struggles.

Portable North Pole

Our kids always look forward to hearing from Santa every Christmas time and seeing what the elves are up to!

The kids snuggle up with Daddy and I to watch their special message and I can’t help but get verklempt, every…single…time! I sit there trying to hold back my tears as my “Mommy emotions” get the best of me.

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You can access the PNP experience online at or via our mobile app (compatible with Apple and Android devices). Premium videos, available for a small fee, are longer and include more personalisation options and storylines. Bundle packages are great for families and an affordable option for those who wish to make more than one video (often selected by parents wishing to make videos for multiple children). The passes also unlock exclusive Christmas Eve video content and allows the video to be downloaded in HD to keep as a souvenir for years to come!

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