Monday, February 7, 2011

Spicy Barbecue Peanuts

I made these peanuts for my husband a few years ago and they've been a requested treat ever since. Usually I just make regular barbecue peanuts, but lately we've been eating spicy foods. This time I decided to make one of our favorite treats with some extra kick. They were the perfect munchie for our Super Bowl party. Happy cooking!

Spicy Barbecue Peanuts

1 jar dry roasted peanuts
1/3 cup barbecue sauce - any flavor
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp  black pepper


1)      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour barbecue sauce over peanuts in a medium-sized bowl. Mix until the peanuts are lightly coated. 
2)     Spread peanuts out onto a greased baking sheet.
3)     In a small dish, combine dry spices. Sprinkle over the peanuts on the baking sheet.
4)     Bake for 15 minutes, turning once half-way through. Allow the peanuts to cool thoroughly and then place in a serving dish or back into their original jar.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

D.I.Y. Wedding Favors

I love to do things myself. So, when it came to planning my wedding I wanted to make all the decorations, the invitations, the favors - anything that allowed me to use my creativity to design my wedding the way my now-husband and I wanted. These wedding favors were probably the easiest things that I put together.

I figured that the people coming to my wedding didn't need a $2 wine bottle stopper or a mini-picture frame that they would never use. I knew they definitely didn't want a candle that had my wedding date and my name written all over it either. So, I decided that everyone pretty much likes candy, and if they don't, the person sitting next to them probably does.

There were many options that I looked at doing. I could have ordered special candies from my childhood for each person. Slowpokes were always my favorite. I could have ordered monogrammed M&Ms with our names or hearts or the date of our wedding - pretty much anything I wanted to put on them. Or, I could have ordered hand-made chocolates that came individually boxed for each guest. All of those options were just too expensive for our budget, so I decided to put together my own wedding favors.

My mother-in-law found clear cellophane bags with a black and white floral design on them at a party store. We filled the bags with a handful of candies that matched our color scheme of black, red, and white. We used Hershey's kisses wrapped in silver, red and white peppermints, and cherry chewy candies. We had 175 guests at our wedding and I spent well under $1 for each favor. We bought the candy in bulk and the bags were the most expensive part. What I like about these favors is that they would match any wedding design. Even if you used clear bags and only put in one type of candy, there's usually something you can find that will match your decor. You could even use them as a pop of color on the tables at every place setting.

We tied red and white curling ribbon around the bags just above the top level of the candy to bring everything all together. We didn't even have to buy the ribbon because we had some with our Christmas wrapping paper. We curled the ribbon with a scissors and then I cut off the tops of the bags so that there would be less of the extra bag material at the top. This way they became a little more stout and not so tall. I love this project because we could fill these with as much or as little candy as we wanted and they looked great and matched our decor. If you're looking for an affordable and adorable wedding favor, I highly suggest these little candy bags.  Happy crafting!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spiced Vanilla Brandy Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Last night we got 10 inches of snow here in Madison, Wisconsin. Other cities in the state were dumped on with over 2 feet of snow. I didn't much feel like going outside on this blustery day, so I stayed inside and made a new cake. I just played around with my ingredients and made the following spiced vanilla brandy cake. It turned out nice and moist with a seasonal hint of cinnamon - sort of a mesh between a traditional white cake and a coffee cake. Just what I needed for the cold day. I frosted it with my own cream cheese frosting and it really hit the spot. I hope you enjoy it too! Happy baking!

Spiced Vanilla Brandy Cake

2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons brandy
¾ cup boiling water

1)      In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
2)      In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each egg. Add the oil, vanilla, and brandy and mix together.
3)      Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined.
4)      Add the boiling water and combine until evenly moistened.
5)      Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch pan, or two 8 inch rounds. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes for 9 x 13 or 20 to 25 minutes for rounds, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6)      Leave in pan for 10 minutes to cool, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Transfer to a cake plate or platter for frosting.

Ooey Gooey Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream

1)      Place cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a small mixing bowl and blend together until just combined.
2)      Add milk one tablespoon at a time. Beat until the mixture is creamy and has reached your desired thickness.
3)      Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top of the cake, then frost up the sides. Spread any remaining frosting on the top of the cake.

Tip: For two 8 inch round cakes, use apple pie filling to fuse the rounds together.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pancakes for Two

My mom used to make my brother, sister, and I chocolate chip pancakes almost every Sunday after church. They were always fluffy and sweet and something I looked forward to every weekend. I've scaled down the recipe below to make enough pancakes for two people, but feel free to multiply it to make as many as you need. These pancakes are a quick and easy treat that I can make for a "breakfast in bed" for my husband or for a tasty start to any day. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Happy baking!

Pancakes for Two

1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
Milk to moisten

1)      Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in medium bowl.
2)      Add egg, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir together with a fork to roughly bring together.
3)      Add a few tablespoons of milk to moisten the batter. Mix everything together until it loosely comes together. Lumps in the batter are normal and can be left alone.
4)      On an electric griddle (or stove top skillet) heat surface area to 310 degrees F (or medium-high heat). Pour batter onto the griddle and cook each pancake 1-2 on each side. Makes 6 medium-sized pancakes.

Tip 1: For flavored pancakes, chop up your favorite fruit and add to the batter before pouring onto the griddle. For chocolate chip pancakes, add chocolate chips to the pancake after it has been poured onto the griddle and before you have flipped it over to cook on the second side.

Tip 2: For a doubled recipe, use only 1 egg. Tripled or quadrupled: use 2 eggs - so on and so forth.
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