Monthly Archives: April 2013

One Little Thing… Springtime cupcakes

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Tomorrow is pot luck day for my Nursing Class. I signed up to bring cupcakes because I always bring cupcakes. I love that I am finally comfortable enough with my “skillz” to fiddle with recipes and box mixes and actually have them turn out good.
I have a ton of strawberries in my freezer. I thought it’d be great to put them into cupcakes. I thought about angel food strawberry short-cup-cakes, or maybe chocolate strawberry, but I settled on strawberry lemon cupcakes. Mostly because I really didn’t want to make them from scratch and although I did have vanilla and yellow cake mixes, I also had lemon. Lemons go well with strawberries – like with strawberry lemonade. Yum.
Here is my recipe for delicious and easy 4 ingredient cupcakes.

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These are my strawberry lemon cupcakes just after the frosting went on. They were so pretty! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes
1 box lemon cake mix
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups mushed thawed from frozen strawberries
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring (1 cap)

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These beauties were cuter up close.
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Mush up the strawberries well, I used a potato masher in a big 4 cup measuring cup and it worked great. (1 1/2 cups was the total of water and oil required by the mix. If your mix is different, use that amount). Pour the cake mix in a big bowl, pour in the strawberries, add eggs and lemon flavoring. Mix well.
Scoop into cupcake lined tins. Bake 15 minutes, or the low amount listed on your box.
Let cool.

I would love to share the frosting recipe, but it melted into a gooey mess. (It started with store frosting… therein lies the problem!) Perhaps if you frosted it with vanilla frosting and either filled with mushed berries, or drizzled with mushed berry goo it would do well?

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After 2 hours of hanging out in the carry container (not outside… in the classroom!), they looked like this. I was heartbroken, and NO ONE wanted to touch them. I think 3 or 4 people tried one. Besides me, of course.
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At least it tasted good!

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They were so good, even if I did have to eat them with a fork! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

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Menu Plan Monday – April 29

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It’s Monday again, and the best part of this day is the menu planning and sharing over at OrgJunkie!  You should go visit over there and see the VERY long list of folks that play along with this Menu Plan Monday and snoop on their menu board. It is a great way to get a ton of new ideas for your own supper!

I have been doing a pretty good job of using up the freezer meals that I made last month, and I am hoping to do another freezer cooking day soon. However, I do have to share about a freezer cooking FAILURE that we had yesterday. We were invited to supper at the in-laws house so I decided to make the Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes (from the McCormick Seasoning card) for lunch.

I had it all defrosted to make that evening, so no biggie. However, when I dumped it out onto the baking sheet, all of the potatoes were BLACK. It was gross!!! I didn’t want to throw out the chicken, because that was still good, and it’s not like they were rotten from exposure, so I moved the chicken to a bowl, cut up some new potatoes and tossed it with the seasoning and oil still left on the chicken. It was very dry though, so I’m not sure how I will deal with the other bag of it in the freezer.

So, moral of the story… don’t freeze potatoes. And this is strange, though, because the potatoes in the beef stew that I made last week were fine. Kooky.

Moving on. Here is my menu for the week!

Monday: Chicken N Biscuits – based on Melissa D’Arabian’s recipe and it is awesome! I have made it at least a dozen times, and everyone loves it.

Tuesday: Tacos – this will be made by Jake (my 11 yr old)

Wednesday: My 14th anniversary!! I will be making steak and potatoes because that is my hubby’s favorite. This is a GREAT Steak 101! Funny too, but potty mouthed words.

Thursday: Pork Chops. Not sure if it will be my usual Cream of Mushroom gravy and rice, or if I’ll poke around Pinterest for something new.

Friday: Honey Lime Chicken from the freezer. I got it from here, though. After the disappointing show from Cilantro Lime Chicken, I am very hopeful though!

Saturday: FFYS – fend for yourself / leftovers / something from the freezer. We have a birthday party at 2 to go to, so I’m not sure if/when we will do dinner.

Sunday: Pork BBQ Ribs from the freezer. I have to remember to pick up some more ribs though – it makes a ton of sauce, but not enough ribs for everyone. They are crazy good though!

That’s it for me. What will you make?

One Little Thing… Sweet Crescents

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Yesterday I was in a breakfast mood that didn’t include a Slim Fast Shake or cereal. Again. I was really craving cinnamon buns but had none in the house. So I peeked in the fridge to see what I DID have, and came up with a brilliant idea.

(I haven’t checked Pinterest yet to see if it exists already, be right back! Nope!! Moving on.) I did this two ways in my experimenting. I took 1 package of crescent rolls and half were separated into the regular triangles, the other half was halved again to form 2 squares. The square ones had to go back in the oven a couple times, so I really prefer the regular crescent ones.

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These Sweet Crescents take 3 little things and turn them in to a whole whack of delicious!

Sweet Crescents

1 package crescent rolls

cinnamon (maybe 1 tsp total)

8 Tbsp leftover maple cream cheese frosting (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 375 (or as directed on crescent roll package).

Separate crescents and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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Unroll, sprinkle, squeeze, roll.
Easy peasy!

Squeeze about 1 Tbsp of frosting along big end of crescent.

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Rolled up and ready for a suntan.

Roll as normal.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Let cool (VERY IMPORTANT – those things are HOT!!!).

Enjoy.

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This, my friends, is 4 bits of goodness.
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Also, I saved one for later and it was a little deflated but really very good. Like something from a pastry shop. SO good.

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This was one of the square pastries that didn’t make the cut. Sadly, it had to get eaten as punishment. bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

Maple Cream cheese Frosting

This is what I use on buttermilk cupcakes and top with bacon. I’m sure any other frosting would work too. Bet chocolate would be awesome! Oooh, or Nutella! Anyway…

1/2 C butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened (I use 1/3 less fat and it is fine)

1-2 tsp maple flavor (near the vanillas)

4 C powdered sugar

milk as needed

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add maple and sugar (in increments, otherwise you’ll wear it). Add 1 Tbsp of milk if needed for consistency.

I load mine into a gallon size zipper bag (held up by a big tumbler cup because it’s easy to spoon in that way), snip the tip and frost my cupcakes. I put the whole gallon bag into a smaller zip top bag to save any leftovers. This keeps quite a while in the fridge.

One Little Thing… Weekly Menu Plan

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One of the things that I must each week is plan my menu for the next week. I have gone through a few different ways, all of which really work for me, to make and post the menu.

I have a weekly tear off on my Mommy calendar hanging on the fridge that combines both traditional calendar with by-person planner, with an extra line for my menu for the week. It is really how I started with the menu planning, because it let me see what is going on each day as I decide what to make. For instance, on my 10 hour hospital clinical day, I can choose leftovers or Jake cooking something, because I am wiped afterwards. If it is a day that one of the boys is spending the night elsewhere I can plan something that they don’t like, but the rest of us do so everyone is happy. The downside is that it’s big and a little unwieldy, so I have slacked on using it. I still jot down stuff in the top bit of real calendar because it’s easy to get to and easy to remember since it’s on the fridge. It it comes to a time where each person has a lot of things to remember for themselves, I will go back to it.

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A calendar like this with a line for each person (and an extra for Menu in my home) is a great way to see what’s gong on if everyone has different schedules, or schedules that change.

Another way I choose what we are eating, and always post the menu, is my dry erase board. I love this for a few reasons. First, you can see it from the table and anywhere else in the kitchen so I (mostly) don’t get asked THAT question anymore. I also love that it has my freezer inventory list attached to it so I can see what I have when making the menu, which helps save time and money. Better to use whatcha got instead of buying stuff you don’t got. I try to buy big when sales are good, so shopping my freezer helps me get the best price for my meals.

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This is a way that everyone can see what we are having and I can see what we need!

And finally, the new way I have been planning, has been with sticky notes on my Day-Timer ruler thing, I started using the little tabs a couple weeks ago, and kept them as the week passed. Then, while I was waiting for a store to open, I filled out a bunch more with meals that my family likes. Now what I have been doing is emptying the old week, putting those tabs on the Day-Timer folder they live on, and picking new meals for the next week. Once I got home, I put the meals on the dry erase so everyone can see it, and also making sure I have all the meat that I need for the week, and if there is any other items that I need for the meals. In this case it was potatoes and French bread for the sloppy Joe boats.

I use the ruler in my Day-Timer so I can see what we are having when I'm not at home.

I use the ruler in my Day-Timer so I can see what we are having when I’m not at home.

The beauty of this is many-fold. I don’t waste tabs because I reuse the ones I have, it is easy to weed out stuff my family doesn’t like or add new things to try, and its portable.

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Using and reusing tabs makes quick work of figuring out a menu plan for the week.

Do you plan a menu? How do you do it?

MPM, FTB, EGGs

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It’s Monday, kids, time for this week’s menu plan! Normally I do this post while we’re watching Sunday night tv, but I was distracted by yarn. It’s a good thing, since it gave me the opportunity to try out Muffin Tin Omelets and Sunny Side Up Eggs. They’re still in the oven right now, but I’m sure that by the time this gets finished, I’ll have done pics!

Feed The Bay 2013

One of the drop off points for Feed The Bay.

First of all, I wanted to give an update on last weeks Feed The Bay. Together we were able to collect and distribute 160,050 pounds of food to local nearly 20 food banks and soup kitchens. This is enough to stock their shelves for 4-6 months! This is a whole lot of good after a week of a whole lot of bad. Even though the FTB event was before the Boston Marathon tragedy, hearing the total and seeing first hand what people can do to help one another was heart lifting. Lots of folks donate food to food banks through churches, schools, work, and event food drives at Thanksgiving time. FTB stocks them for nearly the rest of the year.

Secondly, the eggs are done and being eaten as I type. The omelet ones came out nice and fluffy, and apparently tasted good. (I don’t eat eggs, I get nauseated, usually, at the smell of cooking eggs!) Here is my recipe, and my notes on how to change it!

3 eggs + 2 Tbsp shredded cheese + 1 slice diced deli turkey = 4 mini omelets.  bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

3 eggs + 2 Tbsp shredded cheese + 1 slice diced deli turkey = 4 mini omelets.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

Omelet eggs (makes 4)

3 eggs

1 slice deli turkey diced/cut/sliced

2 T shredded cheese

Whisk up the eggs with a fork. add in turkey and cheese. Spoon out into 4 muffin tins.

Bake 350 for 20 minutes.

NOTES: my oldest said there was too much cheese in the omelets (I didn’t know that was possible!), but the little one loved them!

By using a big spoon, it was so much easier to get the egg mixture into the muffin cups. Pouring would have been very messy! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

By using a big spoon, it was so much easier to get the egg mixture into the muffin cups. Pouring would have been very messy!
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

The omelets were the perfect size. If I had done 4 eggs instead of 3, they would've poofed up above the tin and been very messy! bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

The omelets were the perfect size. If I had done 4 eggs instead of 3, they would’ve poofed up above the tin and been very messy!
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

Sunny Side Up Eggs

Spray muffin tin with Pam.

Crack 1 egg into 1 muffin cup.

Bake 350 for 20 minutes.

NOTES: They were a little hard, with the yolk pretty but cooked through. My oldest liked them, but said that he prefers the yolks a little runny. Next time I would bake for less time, maybe 15 minutes, and see if they still jiggled a bit.

Muffin tin omelets and sunny side up.  bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

Muffin tin omelets and sunny side up.
bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com

And Finally, my menu plan for this week!

Monday: Cheesy Baked Chicken – Kraft Fresh Take (I’ve had this on the plan for 3 weeks and haven’t been able to make it yet!! Today is the day!)

Tuesday: Crock Pot Beef Stew

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (Jake’s night to cook)

Friday: Rosemary Chicken & Potatoes

Saturday: Sloppy Joe Boats. I got the idea from a pin of this post, and I am going to use that as my idea to do my own thing.

Sunday: Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes.

Planning my meals each week helps so much in the shopping, dining out, and “what’s for dinner Mama?” that I don’t know if I’ll ever not have one again!! You can play along too by creating your own Menu Plan and sharing it at OrgJunkie.com. See what others are up to this week: Menu Plan Monday 4/22. In the next couple days I will share my meal planning strategy. It’s easy, and a great way to weed out the meals that everyone doesn’t like.

Happy Earth Day.

Boston Cream Cake

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Today is my in-laws anniversary. I wanted to make supper for them because they really do so much for us. I had quite a hard time deciding what to make, and I really did scour Pinterest for some ideas.
I decided to pull a Pesto Chicken Alfredo Pasta out of the freezer, and make a cake. The cake part was a challenge too. I have eleventy seven pounds of strawberries in my fridge and freezer right now now and thought about making something with them. However, my husband doesn’t like strawberries, so I looked around for plan b. I saw some Boston Cream cupcakes that whet my whistle, so I decided to make that, but a cheater cake version. I had all of the ingredients in my fridge, freezer, and pantry so we were good.

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Easy and delicious with ingredients you probably have on hand. Bucketfulofcrazy.wordpress.com.

Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup oil (or applesauce)
1 cup water

Filling
1 big (3.4 oz) vanilla pudding
1 cup milk
1 1/2 c thawed Cool Whip
1 Tbsp vanilla

Chocolate Glaze/Topping
1 ounce bakers chocolate (I bet cocoa powder would work too!)
1 ounce (about) semi sweet chocolate (I used mini morsels, about 1/4 cupish)
3 Tbsp milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1Tbsp butter

Directions
1. Make cake mostly to package directions, adding the extra vanilla. Pour into round cake pan. (Note #1)
2. Bake at 325 for about 40 minutes, or until its not jiggly anymore. Turn off the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Remove cake to cooling rack (out of the pan) to cool.
3. Cut the cake in half (Note #2), and let sit on cooling rack separated until very cool.
4. Mix together filling ingredients. Let Sit At Least 5 Minutes or it will be pudding soup and not hold up. You can put it in the fridge to firm up a bit too.
5. Microwave chocolates and butter for 30 seconds and give a stir. Do another 20 seconds if needed.
6. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, whisking often.
7. Put the bottom of the cake on a plate. Spoon pudding mixture to 1 inch inside the edge. Carefully place the top of the cake on pudding. Smoothly pour chocolate mixture on top, evenly moving for pretty coverage, go slow, and it won’t goo too much.

Both dinner and dessert were big hits. Yay!

Tips
#1. If you cut a strip of parchment about 3 inches wide and lay it inside the pan before baking, and spray it with Pam before adding the cake batter, it comes out really easily when you move it to the cooling rack. You could also make a perfect circle the same size as the cake pan, and it will come out too, but the strip is quicker to make and easier to lift.
#2. A couple feet of dental floss is the bet way to get a nice even cut . Simply wrap the floss around the cake where you want it cut, overlap the ends, and pull. Easy peasy.

Menu Plan Monday and Feed The Bay

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It was a long week full of wait and see, ending with some great news, but more wait and see. I am so grateful that God is good.

Sunday was Feed The Bay. This annual event, started by our church 7 years ago has raised a million pounds of food to support our local food banks and soup kitchens. We have gained 40 other churches to help out over 25 different organizations fill their shelves for up to 6 months at a time. It is a wonderful way to help out the organizations that help the needy in our area. I am excited to see what we were able to do this year. Our slogan has been Together We Can Do More, and that really is the truth. It’s great that people donate a few cans during the holidays, or maybe a gift card to help during a tragedy, but by banding together with a list of what is needed most, we are able to do the most amount of good at one time.

As for food in my own home, here’s what we’ve got cookin.

Monday: Cube Steak and rice – this is my second time making this recipe – the whole fam loved it!!

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Kraft Fresh Take Italian (or cheddar bacon, not sure yet) chicken and (baked) fries

Thursday: my oldest is cooking his favorite “recipe” of hot dogs mixed with corn and Mac n cheese. We’ll also make beans so we can have it that way too. It’s actually better than you would think!

Friday: Pork chops & rice

Saturday: Shephards pie

Sunday: Pesto Chicken Alfredo

Find other great bloggers with their Monday Menus at OrgJunkie.com! I’ve gotten some great ideas from them, and started stalking I mean following some pretty cool folks.

One Little Thing… Outta the freezer

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Last night I grabbed a bag of cilantro lime chicken out of the freezer. I intended to make it on Wednesday, but the kids ate with their grandparents and I wasn’t going to make a big meal for just the two of us. At 10 I put it in the crock pot, should be ready at 6. That’s the beauty of these crock pot freezer meals.

Pull it out to defrost. Empty bag into crock pot. Turn it on. Wait. Serve.

Easy peasy!

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We’re currently in the wait portion of the meal. Fingers crossed that the hubby and kids like it! Now to get some cleaning done.

The Garden Experiment: egg carton seedlings

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My pumpkin seedlings are doing incredibly well. If I ever needed a project that showed kids how seeds grow… I’d use pumpkins. Right after this was taken, I moved the ones in the ramikin to a glass. They like it better that way. Also, best to ignore the dirty window!

These pumpkin seedlings are getting too big for their britches. I mean ramikin.

One of the things pinned on my Pinterest Garden board is a way to recycle an egg carton for seed starting. Many of my seeds in their Baggie greenhouses were getting mold, so they needed a change. I had an egg carton in the trash! Ok. We can do this!

I took my seedlings one at a time, pulled out the best 3 – 6 of each variety, wrapped their little roots in a little hunk of damp paper towel, and put them in the carton. The sixes had roommates in their egg cup, threes were alone. I tried to label them with the little sticky tabs on toothpicks… Didn’t work. So I settled for putting them on the carton, which did work. I was a little surprised.

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I put a few drops of water in each cup, and off we go. I did not put the onions or carrots in there, mostly because I have a lot of each of them and they are doing ok in their Baggie. I am hoping for good weather and a not-sick hubby this weekend so he can go get my soil. Fingers crossed!

One Little Thing… Get To Know Your Kids

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This is my 6 year old's answers. He's pretty funny, and enchanting.

This is my 6 year old’s answers. He’s pretty funny, and enchanting.

I decided a couple months ago to get to know my kids with a 20 Questions inspired by a post on Reaves, Party of Four. I really loved that idea, and I wanted to recreate it on my own. I was just starting to play with some new found fonts, but I had a blast asking these questions and hearing their creative and, uh interesting answers!

Jake is 11, dramatic, funny, full of himself, and sweet.

Jake is 11, dramatic, funny, full of himself, and sweet.

I sat with them at the dinner table when they were finishing diner and I had already finished (slow, those two!) and started asking these questions. I asked Jake if he wanted to write his own answers and he said no. I don’t think Sean could swing that much writing yet, maybe next year! I would like to do this every year, perhaps on their birthdays. It will go well with their birthday morning photo! Tradition… I like it.

So do a little something to make your Mommy heart swell – get to know the little people living with you!