Quick to Make Gift Ideas

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Here is little “roundup” of quick and easy gifts to make … or use for a dessert table! Clear bags and pretty ribbons make wrapping a cinch 🙂 Spiced pecans Candy coated popcorn (just substitute holiday M&M’s or similar candy … Continue reading

Mystery Spice Cake … completed!

Today, as promised, I frosted the Mystery Spice Cake.  I used Cream Cheese Icing and added about one extra cup of powdered sugar to stiffen up the icing.   Usually I don’t use Cream Cheese Icing for decorating because it softens so easily.

Let me take this time to confess that I am not a professional cake decorator, as you will soon see.  What I visualize in my mind does not always translate to the cake.  I just keep practicing!

I baked and froze my cake yesterday because I believe that freezing helps the cake to retain its moisture.  Plus, I find it easier to handle and frost a frozen cake.  As you can see, the cake is standing on its side and I am balancing it with one finger … and it is not falling apart!

Put a dollop of icing on the plate to help prevent the cake from slipping around …

Apply a thin coat of icing … some call this a “crumb coat” because it seals in the crumbs … some call it “dirty icing” …

Don’t worry if it’s not pretty …

Cake #1

I like fast and easy decorating … and texture can add interest.  I used tip #17 and created swirls, starting in the center working my way out …

I would use this type of decoration for many occasions …

Cake #2

Since it is fall … I colored the icing orange … used tip #199 and made what I hope would look like pumpkins …

I use broken pretzel sticks as stems …

Using green icing make vines with tip #2 …

The weather warmed up this afternoon and the pumpkins show it!  Make leaves with tip #352 … remember to hold the tip so that it looks like a bird’s beak …

I made a little red icing to try to make an apple … I’m not sure about it …

Enjoy …

With the addition of sooo much cream cheese icing, I believe this cake could serve 10 people.

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Butterscotch Crisp Cookies

I found this recipe last week on Brown Eyed Baker.  I thought that I had everything in my pantry to make them … well, I had to make a slight change because I didn’t have enough peanuts.  But the good news is … this is a very versatile recipe.  Make changes to fit your needs … the original recipe from Smuckers called for chow mein noodles … but Rice Krispies are in this version.  I may use some Cheerios in my next batch!

I did store these in the fridge because of the heat.  Here is my slightly adapted recipe …

No-Bake Peanut Butter Butterscotch Crisp Cookies

1 3/4 cups peanut butter (creamy, chunky or a combo)

1 – 12 oz. package butterscotch chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts

3 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1.  Line two baking sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper, set aside.

2.  In a medium-large saucepan combine the peanut butter, butterscotch chips and white chocolate chips over low heat, stirring occasionally until completely melted and smooth.

3.  Stir in the peanuts and Rice Krispies cereal.  Drop mounds onto the lined baking sheets.  Chill until set (freezer 5 minutes or refrigerator about 30 minutes).  Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

 Remember to enter my Cupcake Bracelet Giveaway.  The deadline is Thursday, September 8, midnight!

 

Easy pudding with berries

My sister-in-law, Georgia, has been here on vacation and is on her way home to Tennessee.  We usually get to see her only once a year and had a good-bye dinner the other night … I was asked to bring dessert.   I needed to use whatever I had at home and because there was no time for a grocery store trip.  Seven people would be at the dinner … four of which are diabetic and I know that they rely on sugar-free instant pudding as a safe dessert.  There were strawberries in the fridge that “needed” to be used.  So, I came up with this combo and it was sooo simple and fast!

This is what I used … strawberries, sugar-free (or regular) instant pudding mix, milk, cream cheese and vanilla bean paste …

In a mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese and vanilla bean paste  …

Add milk  … and pudding mix

 

Beat until smooth …

Scoop into dessert dishes …

Top with berries …

Garnish with whipped cream, if desired …

Easy pudding with berries

4 ounces softened cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract may be substituted)

3 cups milk

1 box (6 serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix (regular or sugar-free)

2 – 2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries (other berries may be substituted)

Whipped cream for garnish

In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla until smooth.  Add milk and pudding mix … beat until smooth.  Scoop into dessert dishes.   Top with berries and chill until ready to serve.  Top with whipped cream if desired.

Serves 8

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Peaches ‘n Vanilla Cream Pie

Every summer, I need find it necessary like to make peach pie.  Sometimes it is a cooked pie, sometimes it’s a fresh peach pie … sometimes a rolled pie crust, sometimes not.  This is my first pie of the summer.  I took my normal fresh peach pie recipe and made an addition … vanilla cream made with vanilla bean paste!  The thing that I love about using the vanilla bean paste (besides the flavor) is the appearance of the little brown flecks … is seems so special and decadent!

I made this pie to take to Rich and Gwen’s (very old long time and very good friends) house for dessert … after swimming and dinner.  Well, it was like a comedy act.  I was running behind schedule … as usual … I phoned and asked Rich if I could bring the pie, half made … he said “sure” … the message was conveyed to Gwen that I was bringing half of a pie.  No swimming took place … the Peanut Butter Addict left his trunks at home (sitting by the front door) and I haven’t been in a bathing suit in about 100 years or was it 100 pounds ago (but let’s not go there).  However, I finished making the pie at their house and tried to take photos for this post with a dead camera battery.   So, the photos are not great … but the pie sure tasted good.  It got a 4 thumbs up!

This is what you will need for the crust – graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter.  For the pie – peaches, sugar, cornstarch, cream cheese, vanilla bean paste and whipping cream

Make the crust … in the pie pan (why have another bowl to wash) combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar … then stir in the melted butter …

  

Press the crust against the sides and bottom of the pan using the back of a spoon (or your fingers) … put it in the fridge to chill …

  

Pour the whipped cream in a chilled bowl … add the sugar and vanilla bean paste … whip it until peaks form … can you see the little brown flecks?

  

Whip the softened cream cheese and sugar until well blended … then fold in 1 cup of the whipped cream … put the remaining whipped cream back in the fridge and save for garnish …

  

Spread the cream cheese mixture on the crust … and put it back in the fridge …

  

Now … peel, pit and slice the peaches for the pie and glaze … 4 cups for the pie … 3/4 cup for the glaze …

In a saucepan, mash-up the peaches for the glaze … add water … boil for 2 minutes …

  

If you want to be really fancy, strain the mixture at this point to remove the chunks of fruit … I didn’t do it … I don’t mind them … in fact I like them.

Mix cornstarch and sugar together and then stir into boiling mixture … cook until thickened … remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes …

  

Mix the glaze and sliced peaches … then spread in the pie pan … and chill for a few hours .. serve with remaining whipped cream …

Now here are the photos of the pieces of pie …

We were impatient … the pie should have chilled longer before cutting … but the flecks in the whipped cream look good!

The pie looks better, bad lighting and the heat did a number on the whipped cream!    Sorry!

Like I said, it may not be pretty … but it sure tasted good.

Peaches ‘n Vanilla Cream Pie

Pie                                                                    Crust

4-3/4 cups  sliced peaches (5-6 medium)        1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup sugar                                                     1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch                                  1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

3/4 cup water

4 oz. softened neufchatel/light cream cheese

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract may be substituted)

Make the crust – Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar.  Melt butter and combine with crumb mixture.  Press into a 9″ pie pan.

Make whipped cream – Using a chilled bowl whip cream, 1/4 sugar and vanilla bean paste until peaks form.  Store in the fridge.

Beat together softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until combined throughly.  Fold 1 cup of whipped cream to cream cheese mixture and spread in pie crust.  Store in the fridge.

Make glaze – In a small sauce pan mash 3/4 cup of peaches, add  water, bring to a boil for 2 minutes over medium heat.  Combine 1/2 cup sugar and corn starch, add to boiling mixture and cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Mix glaze and remaining peach slices.  Pour into pie pan.  Chill for a few hours and serve with remaining whipped cream.     Makes 1 generous  9″ pie.

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Sweet Slider Cupcakes

Sliders … teeny weenie hamburgers … on cupcakes?  My sliders aren’t hamburgers at all … but I’m sure you knew that.  They are made with Nilla Wafers, York peppermint patties and candy coating.  The cupcakes … well, it is summer … I’m lazy … I used a mix … but I did make my favorite decorator icing (recipe above – all butter version).

This is what you will need to make the sliders … Nilla Wafers, small York peppermint patties and candy coating (frosting could also be used) – red/ketchup, orange/cheese and green/lettuce … I happened to have some candy in tubes (which is very handy, but not necessary) …

This is just like building a real burger … get your buns (Nilla wafers) and hamburger (York) patties ready … put some ketchup (red candy) on the bottom bun …

  

Then put the hamburger patty on the melted candy … add some melted cheddar cheese (orange candy) on top of the patty …

  

Don’t forget the lettuce (green candy) … and the top bun … your sliders are cooked!

  

Now, for the cupcakes … bake your favorite recipe or mix … make your icing … I used a bag and a plain round tip (#12) …

This is the voice of experience … do not make your icing and put it in the fridge … then try to pipe it out of a bag while it is still cold (like I did) … or this will happen … a hard skinny line of icing comes out of the tip … it breaks … it has some pretty big air bubbles … it is pretty ugly … let your icing come up to room temperature (or at least close) …

But help is on the way … sprinkles will save the day!   Sprinkles are a wonderful invention and cover a multitude of boo boos …

Place the sliders on top of the cupcakes …

I believe that if some sprinkles are good … more must be better!

Marshmallows for the 4th of July

Today’s 4th of July marshmallows are so simple …

I did use a different brand of marshmallows this time.  The brand name is “de la Rosa” and they are flavored vanilla and strawberry!  They are available in two sizes, large and extra giant.  Here is a photo …

You will need marshmallows, candy melts or chocolate, sprinkles and lollipop sticks.  To make the glittery star you will need Starburst (or any other candy that will work for you), “Disco Dust” (non-toxic glitter available at cake supply stores) and a star cookie cutter …

First melt your chocolate … put a stick almost all the way in a marshmallow (or 2 or 3 marshmallows) … dip it in the chocolate to coat …

Tap off the excess chocolate …

Add sprinkles …

  

Put it in a stand or styrofoam … pop it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to set the chocolate …

To make the glittery stars … flatten the Starburst candy … I used my fingers … cut out the star using the cookie cutter …

  

Now sprinkle the Disco Dust on the star … do this on a piece of parchment or wax paper so that you can reuse any excess dust … try to keep you fingers out of the dust … it flies everywhere!  The Disco Dust will stick to the candy automatically …

  

I dipped some marshmallows and did not add sprinkles before putting them in the fridge … use some melted chocolate to attach the star to the marshmallow …

  

Now use more melted chocolate (just around the edges) to add sprinkles …

Disco Dust comes in many colors … I love way it adds sparkle!

Visit tomorrow to see Sweet Slider Cupcakes!

Topless S’mores Bars

Do s’mores need graham crackers on the top and bottom?  I have been wanting to make a s’mores creation for some time … but I really wanted to see the golden marshmallow … the result is what you see … topless s’more bars.

Thank goodness for family … they are always willing to be members of  the “test kitchen” a.k.a. guinea pigs.   Normally I think of s’mores with warm marshmallows and melty chocolate … but the consensus was “refrigerate them to chill the chocolate” …  I agree.  I liked using the StackerMallows … they made perfect cutting lines for servings!

You will need StackerMallows, milk chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter …

Mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar …

Melt the butter … mix it well with the graham cracker crumbs and sugar …

Press the crumb mixture into a 9″ x 13″ pan …

  

Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crust …

Lay the StackerMallows on the chocolate chips … don’t let the marshmallows touch the side of the pan … 30 marshmallows fit just right …

Pop them in the oven … s’mores need toasted marshmallows …

Topless S’mores Bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)

2 cups milk chocolate chips

30 StackerMallows (about 1/2 of a bag)

Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar.  Melt butter and stir into crumb mixture.  Spread mixture and press into bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over crust.  Lay StackerMallows in a single layer over chocolate chips.  Bake at 400° for about 12 minutes or until marshmallows are golden.  Cool or chill and serve.    30 servings

Creamy Lemon Ice

In celebration of the first day of summer I made my first batch of lemon ice … cold, sweet, creamy and fat-free!  I have had this recipe for many years … it calls for half-and-half … wonderfully creamy half-and-half … not exactly Weight Watcher friendly.  Have you ever tried fat-free half-and-half?   I have used it in other recipes … even corn chowder … it works well and tastes good.  So … for the first time I used it to make lemon ice.  The results … wonderful … at least in my opinion.  Of course the real stuff is excellent … but my waistline needs all the help it can get.

The real inspiration for making this is … it is summer … it has been hot in southern California … we finished picking all the lemons off the tree … I had fat-free half-and-half in the fridge … and actually had ripe berries on the vine!

This is what you will need … lemons, sugar and fat-free (or regular) half-and-half … a zesting tool and a reamer are helpful …

  

Stir together the half-and-half and sugar until the sugar dissolves …

Zest your lemon … then juice it … I used 1 medium  and 1 small lemon (I have Meyer lemons which are very juicy) …

Stir in the lemon juice and zest …

  

Pour into a shallow 9″ x 13″ pan … cover tightly … pop in the freezer … try to wait patiently for 4 hours …  cut in squares or scoop …

  

Creamy Lemon Ice

2 cups (1 pint) half-and-half or fat-free half-and-half

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Berries (optional)

Stir together the half-and-half and sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in lemon juice and zest.  Pour into a shallow 9″ x 13″ pan.  Cover tightly.  Freeze at least 4 hours.  Cut in squares or scoop.  Serve with berries if desired.

Visit Gooseberry Patch for more Sweet Treats!