Tuesday, November 6, 2012

... pure BLISS - - in a cupcake!

Easy-Peasy Caramel Sauce:
12 T. butter
1 1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
3x/4 c. whole milk (do not substitute)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugars together, stir in milk and bring to a boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Scrumptious Cupcakes:
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
12 T butter, room temp
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
3/4 c. whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins.
In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. 
In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar over medium speed for 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.
Add flour and milk, beating on low speed, until just combined - scraping sides of bowl when necessary.
Fill each liner about 3/4 full.
Bake for approx. 20 minutes
Transfer to wire rack and cool.

Delish Caramel Buttercream:
 3/4 c. caramel sauce, completely cooled
3-4 c. powdered sugar, depending upon taste/preference
3 T butter, room temp.
1/2 c. shortening (Crisco)
2 T. milk
Course Sea Salt for topping

Combine powdered sugar, caramel sauce, butter and milk in mixing bowl.  Add approx. 2 c. powdered sugar (1/2 c. at a time) beating slowly and then add the shortening.  Add remaining powdered sugar (1/2 c. at a time), depending on your preference of sweetness.


Once cupcakes are cooled, pipe buttercream onto cupcakes, drizzle with the caramel sauce and sprinkle the course sea salt on top.  Now ... go get yourself a cup of coffee, curl up and get comfy, because your world is about to fall away in one bite!  Forget Calgone!  This trip is much better :)


I made these cupcakes for my hubby's birthday ... he is a fanatic caramel lover!  And, let me tell you ... these are now the requested cupcake for all birthdays - - why?  Because they are INSANELY GOOD! 

I searched and poured over the Internet to find this recipe and was lucky to find it here!  I made a couple tweaks to the buttercream recipe, as I wanted a lighter and stiffer frosting to pipe.  Also, I did not poke holes into the cupcakes and soak in the caramel sauce - - I tried it with one, and it was my opinion that the cupcake seemed too wet.  Trust me ... there is a TON of flavor here and the cupcakes really do not need the extra sauce, as they are moist, crumbly and a knockout!

Note that you will have a good bit of caramel sauce left over.  It's like the gift that keeps on giving :)  Pour it over ice cream (which by the way ... Land O' Lakes makes the BEST Vanilla - it's like custard and only has 3.5 grams of fat in 1/2 cup!!) ... or dip apples for a semi-healthy after-school snack. 

I ended up using most of the remaining sauce as a base for little apple tarts this Halloween.  I peeled and diced up about 4-5 Granny Smith's and cooked them in the sauce.  I then cut out circles of pie crust ... dolloped some caramel apples in the center and topped with another circle.  Make sure to press a fork around the edges to seal.  I brushed egg whites over top and baked at 350 until the crust became golden brown.  Sprinkled with course sugar.

“The measuring and mixing always smoothed out her thinking processes - nothing was as calming as creaming butter - and when the kitchen was warm from the oven overheating and the smell of baking chocolate, she took final stock of where she'd been and where she was going. Everything was fine.”

― Jennifer Crusie, Maybe This Time   Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 5, 2012

... beginning of a new week

... hazelnut coffee, paints & brushes, cozy light and The Family Stone ... I'm a happy girl.

"And now," cried Max, "Let the wild rumpus start."

- Luke Wilson, as Ben Stone

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


When witches go riding,

and black cats are seen,

the moon laughs and whispers,

‘tis near Halloween.

- Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

... creatively busy :)

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.
— Mary Lou Cook

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

... pulling over ...

So glad that I remembered to bring along my camera today :)

Photography is the beauty of life - captured.
- Tara Chisholm
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

... leaves of fall - pins on fabric ...

My mind wanders so much during this season ... its as if I'm on stimulus overload.  The changing leaves, the painted skies ... the textured grounds ... the cooler air - - all call to me in soothing waves of inspiration.

My hands are busy with the preparation of a special wall hanging. 

A few weeks ago, I had the loveliest day meeting and creating with a group of the sweetest ladies at a nearby retirement home.
They captured their favorites of autumn on canvas squares using acrylics.  I have taken their beautiful paintings and have been creating a collective wall hanging to feature their work.
I'm hoping to have it all together today ... it's been a LOT of blanket stitches!  But, I am anxious to finish and send it on over to their home for display :)
Happy Wednesday!
Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing.
~Author Unknown
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

... comfort food ...

Doesn't that picture just make you want to toss on a cozy sweater, take a stroll through the fallen leaves and head home to cook up something warm and comforting?

I give you a homemade macaroni & cheese meal to fit that bill!

Cheesy Roasted Campanelli &
Seared Turkey Sausage

1 pkg. campanelli pasta, cooked and drained
1/4 c. butter
3 T. flour
1 t. mustard powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground black pepper 
2 c. milk (1% can be used)
3/4 lb. sliced cheese (Land O Lakes American Cheese)
1 pkg. smoked turkey sausage, sliced on the bias
1 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly spray cooking oil to prepare a 9x13 casserole dish for baking. 

Prepare a saute pan with olive oil and heat on medium heat.  Add smoked turkey sausage to pan and sear on both sides for approximately 2 minutes, until a slight char is evident.  Remove pan from heat.

In a separate medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in the flour, mustard powder, garlic powder and black pepper.  Simmer mixture on medium heat for approximately 2 minutes.  Wisk in milk and heat thoroughly.  Thereafter, stir in slices of cheese, reserving 10-12 slices for layering.

Once sauce is together, place a single layer of cooked and drained pasta in casserole dish.  Add sausage.   Then place strips of cheese overtop.  Drizzle half of the sauce mixture on top of layers.  Add a final layer of pasta, cheese and the remaining sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Served with some fresh veggies or a side salad.


Sidenote:  Other cheeses may be substituted for this recipe; however, it is my opinion that if American cheese is used, Land O Lakes American cheese is the best option.  I tend to shy away from the American cheeses that are prepackaged in plastic ... as it seems that the cheese takes on its packaging - - plastic-looking cheese that is gummy instead of crumbly.  Of course, this is just my opinion.

TO THOSE WHO ARE LOCAL TO ME -- Our Giant Eagle apparently carries TWO DIFFERENT TYPES of Land O Lakes American Cheese.  One, that they refer to as the "block cheese" which is my top choice -- and another that is referred to as "presliced cheese" which can be compared to Kraft slices in plastic.  Now, here's the best part ... they are SAME PRICE!!  My complaint is that there is NO reference to give notice to the customer of the difference in qualities on the Giant Eagle labels ... and of course, I feel that the price should be cheaper for a lesser quality item.  So, just a forwarning, should you grab a pound in the display cooler that the deli has offered for convenience and you grab a package (wrapped and bagged just as if it had been handed to you from a deli clerk) of Land O Lakes American Cheese - - be WARNED.  You may find that when you bring it home ... you have just purchased shiny, plastic-like cheese - minus the perk of a cheap price.

On a brighter note ... the temps will be falling through the weekend and I'm thinking ... apple dumplings!

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort."

~ Norman Kolpas

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

... my girl ...

In my daughter's eyes,

I am a hero --

I am strong and wise,

And I know no fear.

But the truth is plain to see,

She was sent to rescue me.

 I see who I want to be,

In my daughter's eyes.
In my daughter's eyes,

Everyone is equal ...

Darkness turns to light,
And the world is at peace.

This miracle God gave to me,

Gives me strength when I am weak,

I find reason to believe,

In my daughter's eyes ...

 And when she wraps her hand around my finger,

How it puts a smile in my heart.

Everything becomes a little clearer,

I realize what life is all about. 

In my daughter's eyes,

I can see the future.

A reflection of who I am and what will be ...

  And though she'll grow and someday leave,

Maybe raise a family.

When I'm gone, I hope you see,

How happy she made me ...
For I'll be there,

In my daughter's eyes.

~ performed by Martina McBride
written by James Slater

(photo:  a message from my daughter :)

You inspire me, Emme ...

... and, I couldn't be more proud of you - - the beautiful, young lady who shares so much of her life with me.  Your insight, compassion and creativity never ceases to astound me.  You gave me the greatest gift in life ... you made me your mom.
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