Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oreo No-Bake Cheesecake Bites

I've posted about my love for Yummy Delicious Goodness on multiple occasions. I love all things yummy, but more than that I absolutely L-O-V-E everything Oreo.

However in my world, I have to qualify that I only work in Double Stuff Oreos. I remember when they came our and they had the most filling in the middle, well I maintain that over the years, Nabisco has gradually pared down the filling until, now a Double Stuff Oreo is really a regular Oreo and a regular Oreo is a 1/2 stuffed Oreo. What, okay, I'm getting off the soap box....onto the yummy goodness.

When preparing for Brandon's birthday at work, I really struggled with the question do I make the Mountain Dew Cupcakes or these. See Brandon loves Oreos as much as I do, but I think he leans towards the Dew more so I went with the cupcakes. But I couldn't not make these, so here they are. These may become a much demanded dessert, because the pan I brought to the office very quickly disappeared.

With no further ado.. I give you...drum roll please........ OREO NO-BAKE CHEESECAKE BITES

·         2 ¼ cups heavy cream
·         1 pound cream cheese, softened
·         2/3 cup sugar
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         1 tablespoon lemon juice
·         2 teaspoon vanilla powder
·         ¾ cups Oreo Cookies, crushed

1. Beat heavy cream until medium peaks form. Set aside.
2. Add cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla powder, lemon juice to a bowl and beat with a paddle attachment until smooth (approximately 3-5 mins). If you do not have a stand mixer or a paddle attachment a hand beater will work as well, but will take twice as long to achieve a smooth consistency.
3. Add cream cheese mixture to heavy cream and beat until incorporated.
4. Gently fold in Oreo cookies.
5. Place an Oreo cookie in the bottom of each cupcake liner (makes about 24), spoon/scoop filling over the top
6. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours to set or overnight for best results.
7. Remove from refrigerator and smooth top to level with edges. Serve with whipping cream and garnish with mini Oreos.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Birthday Celebration: Mountain Dew Cupcakes

I love to bake delicious yummy treats. I'll take any excuse to eat delicious yummy treats. Birthdays give me the perfect excuse to experiment and try new recipes. Imagine my excitement when I came upon the perfect birthday treat for my coworkers birthday. 
Brandon loves anything Mountain Dew. So when I came across this recipe for Mountain Dew cupcakes, I knew that I had the perfect birthday treat for him. So I assembled my supplies, and got to work.
First I zested. And then I zested and zested some more. I hate zesting and this recipe calls for a lot of zesting. Let's face it, I zested my butt off. But, it's worth. I followed the recipe, and finally came up with some delicious looking treats to take into the office. Brandon and all our coworkers were happy! The boys in the office all love Mountain Dew, so it was definitely a big hit. 

Mountain Dew Cupcakes **
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 cup Mountain Dew
1/4 cup of lemon and lime juice (juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime)
zest from 1 lemon and 2 limes (separate into 2 piles, one for buttercream)
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Beat butter on medium for 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar and lemon, lime zest. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time, Scrape sides of bowl in between additions
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to mixer bowl. Turn on low for 5 seconds.
5. Add the Mountain Dew, lemon/lime juice, and lemon extract . Mix to combine.
5. Scoop into cupcake papers about two-thirds full.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Mountain Dew Buttercream
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Mountain Dew
Juices from half of 1 lemon and half of 1 lime.
Lemon and lime zest (rest of zest from cupcake recipe. Or zest from half of 1 lemon and 1 whole lime)
1 teaspoon lemon extract
neon green food coloring (yellow and blue if you dont have green)
1. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment
2. Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy
3. Add half of the sugar, turn mixer on low for 5 seconds.
4. Add the Mountain Dew, zest, and lemon extract . Beat until combined.
5. Add food coloring to the desired color.
6. Gradually add remaining sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

**Just a note. This batter is very heavy and did not rise as I expected. Therefore I had some little short cakes in attendance. I'd recommend filling the cupcake liner to the brim. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pinterest Challenge: Purse Hoarder

Hi, my name is Amy, and I'm a purse hoarder. Okay, I admit it, I hoard shoes too. But at least my shoes are organized. My purses are not. I'm assuming most women are like me. They love purses, love to switch often, and hate to get rid of the old ones. If your not like me, please tell me how you do it.

I have purses stashed all over my house. And alot of them are stacked inside one another, making it hard to see and locate what I want. So when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew it was for me. 
Source: via Amy on Pinterest

This is what purse hunting used to look like for me. Dig through 3 closets, open up big purses to see little purses, and never ever find the one I was looking for.

Awful huh? So on the Target trip I bought a shower curtain rod (the short one made for stalls) and some double sided curtain hooks. I installed it in my closet and hung up my purses. The hardest part about all this was hunting down all my purses to hang them up.

Drum roll please.........
The final finished product.
Now I can see all my purses, and choose exactly which one I want. The cost break down on this is as follows:

Shower Stall Tension Rod from Target   $4.99
Slide Glide Shower Hooks from Target  $6.99

All together this took me about 30 minutes to do and I was able to organize 18 purses with room for more. Yay!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pinterest Challenge: Dirty Little Secret.

I'm going to let you guys in on a secret. A dirty secret. Underneath my kitchen sink it is a scary scary wasteland. I'm not even kidding. Whenever I wanted something it was a grab and get out as quickly as possible. No lie. When I moved into my house about 2 and a 1/2 years ago, I threw all my cleaning supplies in there and called it good. I don't think I've spent more than 30 seconds in there since. I don't even know what all I have in there. Let me give you an example.
See, I told you it was scary.
Here's a close up shot!
And now you know, the scariness that is was hiding under my kitchen sink. Sometimes, I was scared it would drag me in there and keep me forever.

As you know Val issued her Pinterest Challenge, and I've been staring at this pin for a while. I mean, look how nice and pretty it is. So fresh, so clean. So I got off my butt and got to work.
Source: via Amy on Pinterest

 I spent 30 minutes pulling everything out of the cabinet and lining it up on the counter. The trash can got relocated along with a new recycling bin. I will tell you I didn't expect some of the things I found under there. Let me break it down for you:
  • 4 (yes 4) bottles of Febreeze Air Freshner
  • Tick spray for the dogs
  • Insect Repellent
  • All purpose cleaner with bleach
  • 2 bottles of Fantastic Multi-Surface Cleaner
  • Mr. Clean Multi-Surface Cleaner
  • Yard Guard Mosquito Fogger
  • Windex
  • Soft Scrub
  • Cerama Brite
  • Disinfecting Wipes
  • Mop Head
  • Dishwasher Detergent
  • Carpet Stain Remover
  • Febreeze (the regular kind)
  • 5 sponges
  • Finish Dishwasher cleaner
  • Swiffer Refills
  • 3 rolls of trashbags
  • Charcoal Lighter Fluid
  • Plastic Grocery Sacks
  • Brown Paper Bags
  • 6 rolls of Paper Towels
  • Wet Swiffer Wipes
  • One Rubber Glove
Who knew all that fit under there? Who only has one rubber glove? Where did the other one go? Did it get in a fight with the left glove and leave? Who knows...
 Anyways after about 30 minutes (ONLY 30) installing my new tension rod and organizing, now, it looks amazing under my kitchen sink. Well as amazing as an under the kitchen sink cabinet can get. Let me show you the after shot.....
Isn't it amazing...I could stare at it for all of 5 minutes, before getting bored. But I like that everything has it's place and is much much more accessible.

Let me give you a price break down...

Tension Rod @ Target   $6.84
Large Basket @ Target  $4.99
My Time (30 mins)         $0.00  
Total                              $11.83 (not to shabby)

As I'm working on more Pinterest Challenge projects, I'll be sure to keep you updated.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pinterest Challenge -- ACCEPTED!

Do you all know my good friend, Val, the Sassy Housewife? You don't! Then find the time to pop over and visit. Oh, wait, what's that.....Val, you're my only follower? DAMN! Do you know yourself...that's silly, of course you do. Come on people, hit the "Follow" button. It isn't hard. Plus it means you'll get a semi-regular dose of ME and who doesn't like that.

Alright, let me start over. Hey Val, you know that PINTEREST CHALLENGE you issued, I ACCEPT. Little did you know, that I've already got a bunch of stuff in the works, and I'm going to BLOW YOUR MIND. Or at least make you squeal with delight, or maybe just make you say "that's cute." I don't know, but I can only hope it is the first option.

If you don't know about Pinterest yet, I like to call it crack for organized people. If you want you can come follow my boards, and get some ideas. And if you want to play along, be sure to visit Val and let her know.

Let me show you some of the ideas I've been working on/have scheduled for around the Castle Casa.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest
Source: via Amy on Pinterest
Source: via Amy on Pinterest
Source: via Amy on Pinterest
Source: via Amy on Pinterest
 I've also got one more project in the works inspired from Pinterest, but it's for a certain pregnant momma, and I don't really want to spoil it for her.

I look forward to showing you my projects as they get completed, but I'm really looking forward to them just being done. :-)

Magnet x2

Remember this post, where I was all excited for new magnets. Well they didn't work. They were to flimsy to hold anything up and keep flaking off of the fridge. So it's time to give magnets another go. This time, I think I won.

Remember, how I told you I went to an island for Labor Day? Yes, I'm going to keep rubbing it in. Our beach is pretty rocky, but it's all pretty rocks. (Did you see what I did there?) You can see it in the photo of Hemingway below.

You can also see a super happy sun-dog in the picture. Here's another picture, it's my attempt to be artsy.
One of my families favorite activities is to comb the rocks and pick out the coolest, neatest, prettiest color, etc and save them for later. Except after we've saved them, we never have anywhere to put them. At our cabin there's just bowls of rocks lying around. Another problem is that the rocks never look as cool without the pretty sheen the water gives them.

After picking through all the rocks on the beach, I bagged up my faves and brought them home. I then layed the rocks out on a grocery bag...
 I sprayed them with High Gloss Krylon Sealing Spray. It's basically clear spray paint that is super glossy. It gives the rocks that sheen I'm looking for, mimicking the water.

After waiting the hour drying time, I flipped the rocks over and gave the back side a coat as well. After waiting another hour, I brought them inside. I then got out my magnets that I'd made a trip to the craft store for, and my hot glue gun.
After gluing the magnets on the back of all the rocks, I let them cure for about an hour.
And then, I put them on the fridge. And they rock my world. (Haha, get it?) They're awesome.

I even had some extra's so I made myself a smile face. :-)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dark Chocolate Fudge Cupcake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream Icinig

Don't worry, you read the title right. And trust me, they were as good as they sound. While I was on the island (read about that here) my Dad's cousin had an art show. The people on my dad's side of the family are incredibly talented artists, and Sally is fantastic. She works primarily in water colors, but occasionally dabbles in other mediums.

In preparation for the event, Sally had mentioned to my Mom that she had to supply finger foods along with the other featured artists. So then, my mother turned to me. And that is where the Dark Chocolate Fudge Cupcake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream Icing comes in.

I made 80 of these delicious mini-cupcakes. And I was proud of them. Why was I proud you ask? Well, it was the first time I'd ever ventured into the realm of making up my own icing recipe. And, it was so delicious, that I wanted to eat all 80 of this little cupcakes myself.

Want to know how to make your own? Well, I'll tell you....

First bake these in mini cupcakes. That's right. I cheated, although, this time I have an excuse. I was on an island people. Do you have any idea how EXPENSIVE groceries are on an island? A package of Oreo's is $7.00 up there. Serious!

Raspberry Butter Cream Icing

  • quart of fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup of butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  1. First, puree your raspberries in your food process or blender. Make sure they are all well processed. 
  2. Drain your raspberry puree through a strainer to get rid of all the seeds. This can take some jiggling around, but sooner or later you'll get it all out. 
  3. Take your room temp. butter and cream it in your mixing bowl. Slowly add the seedless puree. (I wanted to know what raspberry butter tasted like, so I tried it. Pretty darn good.)
  4. Slowly add your powdered sugar, until you reach frosting consistency. 
  5. Frost cupcakes and ENJOY!
I thought long and hard about pairing this combo and in the end I was very pleased. I wanted something that would reflect the art culture, and have a good marriage of flavors. I think I succeeded. And by the way the flew off the table, I think everyone else agreed.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Island Vacation

View from our front yard looking down onto the beach.

Do you ever just need a vacation? Believe me, I did, and I got one over the long Labor Day weekend. I loaded up the dogs and embarked on a 12 hour drive (yes 12 hours) for Madeline Island, Wisconsin. If you've never been there GO!!! I'm not joking around. I've been lucky enough to be going there as long as I can remember. In 1932 my great-grandmother bought 20 acres on Big Bay, built an authentic log cabin, and it has become the home away from home for generations since. 

I've picniked in Paris, walked the streets of Rome, explored the Greek Isles, and still this is my favorite place on Earth. Let me share some photos with you. 
The ferry boat you take over from the Mainland.

At the far end of our beach looking toward the house.

Hemingway loves the beach and swimming all day!

So does Eisenhower.

The lagoon where we go fishing. Dad's bringing in the boat.
I caught a little guy. (Northern Pike)

Sea Planes parked on the beach in town.

The dogs are forever happy when they get to go on boat rides!

My extended family usually gathers at all the cabins in the late summer, so our time there is even more precious. With some family members, that may be the only time I see them all year.

Now I know your all jealous, but the good news is, we rent out our cabin during the summer, so you too can visit. Or stay at the Inn in town, or many other rental locations. But our house is the best, just saying....

Also just another tid-bit, La Pointe, Madeline Island, was named #5 on the 10 Coolest Small Towns in America 2011 list. This is like the 5th year in a row, also we've got one of the top 10 beach bars up there too. Again, just should go.