May 29, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

     Hello!  Today's recipe is a request from a co-worker who had banana chocolate chip cookies once upon a time and was wondering if I could work my magic and come up with something similar. 
     Interesting.  I'd heard of banana bread and banana muffins but I'd never heard of banana cookies.  But, I'm always up for a challenge, especially when it comes to baking, so I told her I'd get right on it.  After a little research I found a recipe on that looked quick and easy so I decided to give it a try.
     The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of orange zest but due to Pam's citrus allergy I omitted the zest and added chocolate chips instead.  There's also a buttery frosting you can make to top the cookies but honestly I don't think they need it - they're perfect the way they are.  Incredibly light and airy with just a hint of banana flavor.  And since the recipe calls for real bananas there's no icky imitation banana flavor in the cookie (not a fan of that!).

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  In bowl of stand mixer combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add bananas, egg and vanilla; mix well.

2. In separate sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add to banana mixture.  Add mini chocolate chips and mix one final time.

3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoon on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.  Let cool completely and enjoy!

May 25, 2012


     Hello! This spring I'm in need of several graduation cards, one for a co-worker who just earned her M.Ed and the other for a cousin who is graduating from UNH. 
     I was inspired by Natasha and Leigha's "You're a Star" card over at their blog (here).  To make it more of my own I changed the colors of the stars and used a stamp from the SAB set, Sprinkled Expressions.  This card was quick and simple enough to make in large quantities (birthday, thank you, party invites).

Stamps: Sprinkled Expressions (SAB, retired)
Ink: Rich Razzleberry
Paper: Crumb Cake, Rich Razzleberry, Pear Pizazz, Tempting Turquoise, Whisper White
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Perfect Dots embossing folder, Stars #2 die, 1 3/8 circle punch, Soft Suede taffeta ribbon, button, bakers twine, dimensionals

May 22, 2012

Baked Coconut Chicken Fingers

     Hello!  While I've realized that cooking isn't quite my thing, Aaron is still a magnificent cook!  Today's recipe is one that I found on Sweet Pea's Kitchen (here) and gave to Aaron to try out.  Result?  He {loves} it and it quickly became one of our regular dinners!  The outside is crispy (without frying!) and the inside is tender and juicy - absolutely delicious!  While there are a few steps in the recipe once you get the hang of it it's easy enough to whip together on a weeknight.  At least, that what Aaron tells me ;)
     Christina does have a recipe for a marmalade dipping sauce but we prefer to use BBQ sauce or local honey.

Baked Coconut Chicken Fingers
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 3/4 inch strips
1.  Preheat oven to 475.  Set wire rack inside a baking sheet and spray rack with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In food processor process coconut until finely chopped
3.  In a skillet, combine the breadcrumbs, coconut and oil.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown.  Transfer to a wide, shallow dish and set aside to cool.
4. In a second shallow dish, combine flour, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.
5. In third shallow dish, whisk together egg whites, water, Dijon mustard until the egg whites are broken up and the mixture is foamy.
6.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, shaking to remove excess, then dip in the egg whites coating both sides completely.  Finally, place in the toasted breadcrumb/coconut mixture, turning to coat both sides.  Transfer to the wire rack and repeat with remaining chicken.
7.  Spray the chicken lightly with cooking spray then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until gold brown.  Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice and enjoy!

May 18, 2012

Pocket Silhouettes Thank You

     Hello!  Today's card was inspired by a card that's been sitting in my "Favorites" folder over at SCS for years. Seriously, years (here).  The little nudge I needed to actually make this card came from my Stampin' Up! upline and the monthly card challenges we host on Stampin' Connection (a website only available to SU demos, just one of the perks of working for SU!).
     Our challenge this month was a thank you card with embossing and at least one embellishment.  Immediately this card came to mind.  I changed the colors to reflect my current favorite (Calypso Coral) and chose a different sentiment.
     In case you're wondering, the embossed part of my card is the stripes!  I used Natasha's Gingham Background technique over at her blog Diary of Two Crafty Girls (here).

Stamps: Pocket Silhouettes, Thank You Kindly
Ink: Calypso Coral, Early Espresso
Paper: Crumb Cake, Calypso Coral, Very Vanilla
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Stripes textured embossing folder, modern label punch, pearls, grosgrain ribbon, dimensionals

May 15, 2012

Peanut Butter Jelly Cupcakes

     Peanuts. Is there a more perfect food?  I can easily say that this is the one food I don't think I could live without... In my mind just about everything tastes better with peanuts or peanut butter.  Think about it... pad thai, toast, sandwiches, ice cream, beer... I could go on and on.   

     Thank you, George Washington Carver.  Thank you.

     Today's recipe came from and the instant I saw it I knew I had to make it.  I followed both the cake and frosting recipes exactly (with only one goof!) and do have some suggestions:
1.  Use quality jelly or jam - this does make a difference.  I recommend Stonewall Kitchen's red raspberry jam (here). 

2.  If you have the patience, I would cut out a small hole in the center of the baked cupcake and fill with jam.  Then top with frosting.  Trust me, it will be easier to eat.

3. To frost the cupcakes use a pastry bag or a zip-top bag with one end snipped off.  Again, so much easier.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter **
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (Reese's is the best!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
** I goofed and used 2 sticks of butter.  Thankfully, my cupcakes looked and tasted great so no harm done, I guess!

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl.  Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add peanut butter and then eggs (1 at a time), beating after each addition.

3. Reduce speed to low.  Combine sour cream and vanilla in bowl.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream mixture and ending with dry.  Scrape sides of bowl.

4.  Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.  Bake until tester inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

5.  Once cupcakes are cool, front tops with peanut butter frosting, placing a dollop of jam in center of frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting (this is rich)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I prefer Reeses')
  • 3 tbsp milk, or as needed
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

1.  Place butter and peanut butter into medium bowl and beat with mixer (I used stand mixer). 
2. Gradually add sugar to mixture.  When it starts to get thick incorporate milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is combined and the frosting is spreadable.  Beat for at least 3 minutes to allow it to get light and fluffy.
3. Spread with knife or place in pastry bag and decorate cupcakes.  Enjoy!

May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Grad school graduation 2 years ago
     I have to admit that my parents are pretty cool.  They run all kinds of road races with me, participate in tons of outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking, skiing), dress up in costumes on Halloween and sometimes have a better social life than we do!  Mom and Dad have always supported me (and now Aaron) and with the exception that cool 1980's toy the "Sit-n-Spin" (ha, ha, ha!), I never wanted for anything growing up.  They even helped out with college tuition!
     With my old age I think I've become more appreciative of things I have in my life that others may not.  And though I may not always say it I appreciate everything you've done for me!  Thanks for being such great parents! 
     Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Our pot o' gold costumes for a 5 mile race on St. Patrick's Day (we made them!)

Lace Ribbon Border Punch

     Shannon from the Stampin' Up! home office shows how to create a border element with the Lace Ribbon Border Punch, then shows it off with a couple of projects.

Lace Ribbon Border punch 122362, $19.95

May 11, 2012

A Calypso Easel Card

     Hello!  Today's card is one that was inspired by Tui Nathan's Freshly Made Sketch #26 card (here).  I absolutely loved the colors she used and decided to make a few minor changes to the layout.
     The easel card was super easy to make, I just followed the directions given by Brian Pilling in the Stampin' Up video (here).  With all the dimensionals and layers, this card turned out to be a bit heavy.  If mailing one, I suggest having it weighed first before popping it in the mailbox!

Stamps: Pocket Silhouettes, Teeny Tiny Wishes
Ink: StazOn Black
Paper: Calypso Coral, Very Vanilla, Basic Black, First Edition DSP 
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Beautiful Wings embosslit die, Designer Frames embossing folder, curly label punch, grosgrain ribbon, dimensionals 

May 8, 2012

Sugar Cookies

     I tried making spinach lasagna... that didn't really work out so well.
     I tried making pumpkin soup... not so good.  And then there was that meatloaf that looked (and I'm sure tasted) nothing like the photo.
     To make a long story short I've come to the realization that I'm not a chef... I'm a baker.  And I'm ok with that.  Thankfully Aaron knew about this before the wedding and was prepared to do most of the nightly cooking (isn't he wonderful?!).   

     Anyhoo, here's my latest creation - sugar cookies!  I've stated before that I prefer to save time and buy the famous brand pre-made refrigerated dough but I think I've changed my mind.  It all started when I stumbled upon this ah-mazing blog, Bake at 350 (here).  Bridget is an absolute genius with cookie dough, her creations are stunning and it's so easy to get lost in her blog.  And as if her confectionery creativity isn't enough Bridget is sweet enough to share her sugar cookie recipe with readers.  There are a grand total of 7 ingredients in the dough and here's the best part (are you sitting down...) there's NO refrigeration required!

These cookies are perfect eaten as is but if you're adventurous you can frost them.  My favorite frosting is from one of my good friends, Betty Crocker.  Over the years I've tried just about all of her frostings but I have to say my absolute favorite is her Butter Cream flavor.  Yes, it tastes delicious on sugar cookies but I prefer to eat it sans cookie, right from the container.  But I must warn you... eating frosting in the manner this can lead to trouble (I was being polite for the camera, I usually eat it by the spoonful)

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks salted, cold butter cut into chunks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside.  Cream the sugar and cold butter.  Add the egg and extracts and mix.  Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, scraping the bowl, especially the bottom.

2. The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling. 

3.  Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets (Bridget recommends freezing the cut out shapes on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking and I agree).  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.

I like thick sugar cookies so I usually get about 24 cookies per batch.

May 6, 2012

Spreading Ink Technique

     Need a unique embellishment for that next project? Watch as Carrie from the Stampin' Up! home office as she takes an embossed stamp image, adds a little water, then lets the ink spread with the aqua painter. You have to give this technique a try!

Aqua Painter 103954, $16.95

May 4, 2012

Summer's On It's Way (I think)

     Hello!  Doesn't this card make you think of the 4th of July and a BBQ?  It was an interesting winter and spring here in New England and I don't know about you but I'm so ready for summer (how many days 'til summer vacation?).
     Today's card was inspired by summer and this wonderful new technique I found over at Diary of Two Crafty Girls (here). 
     Creating the stripes on my card was super easy!  Using a brayer, I inked up the stripes embossing folders with Cherry Cobbler ink (the side with the SU! logo) and ran it through the Big Shot.  How easy is that?!
     For a little sparkle I added Iridescent Ice embossing powder to the star. I think this would make a fabulous 4th of July BBQ invite... Mmm.... hamburgers and hotdogs on a grill, I can almost smell 'em!

Ink: Cherry Cobbler, VersaMark
Paper: Whisper White, Not Quite Navy, Cherry Cobbler
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Stripes embossing folder, Stars #2 die, Iridescent Ice embossing powder, heat tool, seam binding ribbon