Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Popcorn Balls

I needed to bring a salty snack to Anna-Kate's Valentine's party at school. I tried so hard to think of something fun and new to make that was salty... that a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds would eat. I was stumped but a couple of friends suggested popcorn balls. I know these weren't salty really, but I thought it would be fun to try! 

I found Paula Deen's recipe and decided to go with hers! 

Here's what you need:
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup corn light syrup
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
18 cups popped corn

First, you combine the sugar, water, syrup, vinegar and salt. 

You cook it over high heat until the mixture reaches the hardball stage on a candy thermometer. We do not own a candy thermometer, so I just got a cup of cold water and kept dropping a bit of the mixture in the water until it formed a hard ball. 

Anna-Kate and I played while Derek waited on the sugar water to get done! :)

Next you stir in the vanilla and pour it over the popcorn. Most of the comments I read said to let the mixture cool for a few minutes before pouring it over the popcorn, so that's what we did. 

Then you just form it into balls- be careful not to burn yourself. You have to work fast because it will harden quick! I made it into smaller balls so the other moms wouldn't be too mad at me for the sugary treat. ha! 

I guess this is where I have to admit that I have never actually eaten a popcorn ball... so I had no idea what to expect! These were super sticky and sweet. Personally, I do not like things that stick to my teeth and feel like they could pull out a tooth but Derek and Anna-Kate loved them. The kids that tried them liked them too! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bee My Valentine

I posted this last year on my blog but I thought I would share it again here! 

 have been reading some really cute food blogs. My favorite treat blog is Bakerella. If you have not checked her out, you should stop reading this and look around her blog. Well, maybe check it out after you read this post. :) Bakerella makes lots of goodies, but the thing that really stands out in my mind are the cake balls. I had never seen such cute little things and they didn't intimidate me too bad! So, for Thanksgiving I made two sets of turkey cake pops. They were really cute, but probably not the easiest for this first timer.

A couple of weeks ago I started planning a Valentines treat to send my sister. I instantly thought of the cake pops. I checked out her blog for some ideas but I decided that I wanted to try to make bumblebees.

First, I made the cake balls. I used a dark chocolate cake mix and just some standard chocolate icing in a tub. You can find Bakerella's directions here. The dark chocolate cake mix is the BEST for these! It is so moist! I've tried a few other cakes, but this one is just so much better! 

While I waited on my cake balls to be ready to dip, I made the faces of my bees.

My sister loves Junior Mints and since they are flat, I thought that they would make perfect faces! Then I just used some halloween sprinkles I had in my pantry for the eyes. I used white chocolate to secure the eyes. I also used the white chocolate to draw the mouths on with a toothpick. (Toothpicks are your friend when it comes to cake balls.)

I just played around making the faces, trying not to worry about the imperfections!

I had 2 very good helpers!

What happens when you run out of black sprinkles?? The eyes get colorful and you get creative!!

When I told these bumble bees they were going to Nashville, they were starstruck!

Not convinced? Neither was Thomas...

Okay, now onto the cake balls! So, I pulled the cake balls out of the freezer and melted my chocolate. Then dipped them according to the directions and immediately stuck in the wings. (I didn't do the wings on my first few ones and they cracked when I put them in after the chocolate hardened.) The wings were just sugar hearts. Derek actually suggested those! 

Don't worry about the mess around the cake balls. Bakerella suggests using a toothpick to score the bottom of the cake ball so that it breaks away from the chocolate drippings easily.

Now, I let mine cool before I added the yellow "stripes" and the heads and stingers. I found that worked the easiest. I melted white chocolate and then I added yellow food coloring to it. When I added the food coloring it changed the texture of the chocolate, but it was fine. I scooped the yellow into a freezer bag and cut the corner off. I was able to pipe the stripes on. If I was more patient, I think my stripes would have looked better. I was just so excited about how cute they were looking that I went quick. I think the imperfections make them cute...

Okay, okay, those are messy stripes but you get the idea! 

Moving on, all that's left is to attach the head and then the little stingers. I used chocolate chips for some whimsical stingers. Or just because that's what my husband suggested and I didn't want to hurt his feelings... you pick. Either way, they were a cute touch. I used my leftover chocolate to stick the heads and stingers on and for some minor repairs.

That's it!! If I can do it, anyone can! I think they are adorable. Derek thinks I got a little too into them when I wound up having a little story for all of them. Hey- it happens!

Excited about Nashville! Opps, looks like I need to fix the red-eyes! :) hehe...

Okay, maybe a little carried away, but I couldn't resist!


Blurry, but here you can see the little stinger!

How can you resist??!!

I know I couldn't...

Mmmm... so good!!

So good my 2 1/2 year old chocolatier snuck into the fridge to eat one while I was in the shower!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Easiest Snow Cream Recipe!

We had a snow day today, which means it's the perfect time to enjoy some snow cream! 

That's absolutely my favorite thing. Yummy! 

I'm kind of on a sweetened condensed milk kick lately (it's so good) so I decided to try that in my snow cream. 

Here's the complex list of ingredients: 

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 can of water
Splash of Vanilla

That's it! 

First, I poured the milk into my bowl then I filled that same can up with water and added that to the milk. 

Then I wisked that together until it literally looked like milk. I added a splash of vanilla because I love vanilla! If you don't like that, leave it out. The sweetened condensed milk gives the snow a nice, rich flavor! 

Then I sent Derek out to get a bowl of snow and mixed the snow with my milk-mixture!

That's it y'all! It's so simple! 

For a quick way to cool of your hot chocolate, add a spoonful of snow cream to it! So simple!

Oh and I looked it up and Paula Deen's recipe is pretty much the same thing! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hey Good Lookin'...

whatcha got cookin'? 

Sorry, I was trying to think of something catchy to open with! I am so excited that I am going to be starting my very own food blog! 

I wanted a place that I could share my weekly menus and some of the recipes I use. I don't believe that I'm the best at coming up with my own recipes but I usually try and tweak something that I've found. Plus I love to eat and try new recipes so I thought this would be a great place for me to post recipes I love (or don't love) too. 

I'm not promising anything spectacular, but I sure hope you enjoy!