chocolate buttermilk cupcakes*

These cupcakes are simply chocolate heaven! I haven't made cupcakes for the students for the longest time, so I decided to kick off getting out of cupcake retirement with a bang! Who doesn't like chocolate on chocolate on chocolate?? No one I know. Except my husband. Except him. It hurts my soul.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

oatmeal cookie s'more bars*

I don't think it is any secret that I like s'mores. I finally had my first official "over the campfire" s'more in over 10 years last year - meaning we made them over a fire in a fire pit in someones backyard. And you know when you crave something that you remember being SO good, and you eat it and it's not nearly as good as you remember?? That happened. I hate that. Like when I ate Corn Pops awhile ago. Not good. So sad.

ANYWAY, today I made these oatmeal cookie s'more bars for the students because I have been craving an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and how can you go wrong with some toasty marshmallows in the mix? You can't. You just can't.

I really liked how these turned out, however I think I would have liked them more had I eaten one warm. With ice cream. I have a cake & ice cream, cookie & ice cream, brownie & ice cream, anything & ice cream addiction lately. And also I think I would add some cinnamon. Because, again no secret, I am obsessed with cinnamon. Other than that, these are tasty as can be.

Oatmeal Cookie S'more Bars

minty chocolate cupcakes w/ peppermint buttercream*

This year we went all out for St. Patrick's Day!! For breakfast we served green eggs & ham, Irish beef stew for lunch (recipe coming soon), and corned beef and these amazing cupcakes for dinner! Although I really slacked big time and forgot to order some cabbage from my produce company to have corned beef & cabbage, so I ran to the store and I guess everyone else got the memo that it was the day of St. Patty's, because there wasn't a head of cabbage in sight. So....we had to opt for green's the thought that counts, right? This is the first year that we served all three meals Irish style, so I feel like it's a pretty big deal :). Also, it's the first time in history we've attempted to make corned beef. The kids were actually pretty excited about it, which surprised me. I'm not going to lie, I wasn't a fan. I've have corned beef from the can one time, and I can honestly say I'd rather have that than the fresh kind, although it's by no means my favorite thing. But the kids were actually pretty open to it and some were more excited than I've ever seen them. So that's something!!

Onto these cupcakes. Ummmm...delicious!! I did a chocolate cupcake batter and added some Andes mint baking chips, and when the cupcakes were baking the chips kind of just melted into the batter. It wasn't like when you add chocolate chips and they are still in the form of a chocolate chip and harden once cooled. They blended right into the batter and made it even more fluffy with the perfect touch of mint. And the buttercream!! I'm pretty sure I've mentioned on here, probably several times, I am not a buttercream fan. However, I do think I've discovered a great technique and now I like buttercream. Well...I like my buttercream :). And this peppermint buttercream is GOOD. However, I really just kind of have to guess on the measurements for the frosting because I didn't keep that good of track - you know, since I made about 200 cupcakes. But I'll do my best!! Also, if you aren't going to pile the frosting on like I do, I would cut the recipe in half.

Minty Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Peppermint Buttercream
makes 24 cupcakes

cajun spiced tater tots*

So after a LONG blogging hiatus, I decided it's about time I got back to one of the things that I truly love, which is blogging about all of the amazing foods that me and my peeps make on a daily basis. Sorry for being gone for basically over a year  - I cannot believe it's been that long!! If you are wondering why I've been absent for long, you can read about it here. In a nutshell, my husband passed away last January, which was shocking and completely unexpected and left me trying to pick up the pieces the best I can. I am now actually in a good place and have learned to love life again!! A big shout out to everyone who have helped me get through this past year and supported and loved me along with way. I owe making it through to all of you!

So let's get to these tater tots. I saw this recipe on Pinterest the other day and could not wait to have the opportunity to make them. Today we made the students turkey burgers (they are AMAZING, made with garlic and lots of pepper), and I paired them with these spicy, crispy, salty tater tots. They were a huge hit! I had several of the kids come up and tell me how much they loved them! That in and of itself is a success!! WOOT WOOT!

Cajun Spiced Tater Tots
from Everyday Southwest

parent conference goodies*

So I got really ambitious right after our last parent conference in April and wrote a blog post about some of the amazing things that we served, when out of nowhere my computer shuts off right in the middle of my progress. Then guess what happened?! I completely forgot about it. Is it possible to have Alzheimers at 26?? It's June for pete's sake!! Anyway..luckily blogger saved my post, so here it is:

Last weekend was parent conference, which of course means there were many goodies served! Although I was a complete slacker and didn't take any pictures, I've promised many that I would share the yummy recipes! So here we go...

Oreo Truffle Brownies from Chef in Training
(I did a ganache topping instead of the dipping chocolate)

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes from Very Best Baking
(I used my go-to chocolate buttercream recipe)

Caramel Cheesecake Apple Dip from Cooking Classy
(I added about 1/4 cup brown sugar to the dip)

Snickers Dip from relativetaste
(Definitely the biggest hit of all!! SO amazing! We served the dip with graham crackers.)

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies from Ambitious Kitchen
(I LOVED these! Amazing!)

Browned Butter Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sweet Treats and More

I'm almost positive I'm forgetting something, so if any of you were there and would like any other recipes from that weekend, let me know and I will track them down.  Even though I didn't take any pictures of any of those simply amazing recipes, I will leave you with the next best thing...


dark chocolate cupcakes w/ peppermint swiss meringue buttercream*

A bunch of firsts for my hubby this week. I made him watch The Grinch with Jim Carrey, and The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. He hadn't seen either one and I gotta admit, I was nervous. He likes to pretend like he is too macho to enjoy a "family friendly" movie, and guess what. He thoroughly enjoyed both! SCORE! (Keep it hush hush. Wouldn't want to crush his ego.)

Christmas is 3 days away and I have the PERFECT cupcake for you! We served these babies this past week at a sports banquet for the students and they were a huge hit! If nothing else, you need to make the dark chocolate cake. It was chocolatey - but not too chocolatey, moist and delicious. Oh and the buttercream. Man oh man, I have never had swiss meringue buttercream, and it is officially one of my new favorite things - and I am not a huge buttercream fan! And I am always down for peppermint anything. Simply an AH-MA-ZING dessert I tell you.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Peppermint Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

baked maple bars*

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Yes, I am still alive! I cannot believe I have not posted since JULY. That is crazy, but most of all not OK. I promise you, I have still been creating and cooking and baking away. It's gotten so bad that I don't even take pictures of my creations anymore. However, 2013 is approaching and I am going to turn a new leaf. Or lack thereof these days in my neck of the woods. I miss the pretty leaves. And the sun. And flip flops. Mostly flip flops. I wore them today for fun because I have missed them so much. Thought my toes got frost bite, but did it anyway.

Christmas is a little over a week away and I am so stinkin excited!! This year for my birthday I asked for a Christmas tree and new decorations that match the house. I know, I'm weird. I have been told this over and over again these past few months. My tree was up on November 4th. Don't judge me. One month is not enough time to have the twinkling lights and happiness that come from looking at your cute tree. I also made my own ruffled tree skirt (tutorial here - found it on Pinterest of course). Wanna see a picture??

You can't see my cute skirt in this pic, so here is another with my cute little nephew. He decided that he would play with the ornaments. Good thing he's cute :). If you look closely you can see the skirt in the background.

Sorry, I did take a normal pic of it, but then I got a new phone and was too lazy to take all my pictures off of my iPhone. I am happy to announce that I am now an android owner/user again!!! Beats the iPhone any day.

Anyway, let's get down to business. These maple bars are seriously amazing. My favorite part is that they are baked! They are healthier, but most of all I don't have to deal with the mess of using oil. I am a clean freak (in case you didn't know) and whenever I cook with oil I scrub and degrease and scrub some more and the dang stuff just gets on everything. These are no fuss with these bars, and honestly if I can make them successfully so can you! Especially since I really stink at making bread. Don't know if I could repeat this amazing feat again, but I will try because these are one of my new favorite things!! I even bought some shortening for the event, which is a big deal for me. The stuff freaks me out. Like a lot. I kind of have the heeby jeebies just knowing it is in the pantry right now. Ick.

*By the way, I realize that the format is all messed up and there aren't spaces where spaces should be, but blogger is being dumb right now and won't save normally. Technology these days.....*

Baked Maple Bars
from Make Lemonade and More

Maple Bars
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup shortening
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2  (1/4 ounce) envelopes yeast - which equals 4 1/2 tsp. if you have it in the jar like me
2 large eggs, beaten
5 cups flour (might need a bit more, but I used about 4 3/4 cups)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (a little extra never hurt anybody!)

Maple Icing
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
\1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons mapleine (found by the flavor extracts and seasonings)
1/8 teaspoon salt*
For the dough:
In a medium saucepan scald milk; add shortening, 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, and salt. Stir to combine and set aside to cool to lukewarm.

In a large mixer bowl, add the lukewarm water and the yeast (remember the water should be just lukewarm, too hot and it will kill the yeast) Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar to the yeast and water and whisk to combine. Let sit for about 5 minutes until it starts to bubble and become foamy. After the yeast is foamy and the milk mixture is luke warm. Add the eggs to the yeast and stir to combine, then add the milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Whisk the cinnamon into the flour and gradually add to the yeast mixture. You may need to add more, you want the dough slightly sticky but not too sticky.  Knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Spray another large bowl with non-stick spray, place dough in the bowl and let raise for an hour or until double in size.

Punch down and roll out into a large rectangle about 1 inch thick. Cut into rectangles, I cut the rectangle in half, and then each half into 6 pieces to make 12 bars, then place on a greased baking sheet. Let raise for about 30 minutes. While bars are raising,  preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the bars for 7 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown, Watch carefully. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before icing.
Make the icing while the bars are raising:
In a small saucepan mix butter, brown sugar and milk. Bring to boil for medium heat and simmer 3 minutes.l Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Add the mapleine and powdered sugar and blend well with a hand mixer. Add a little more powdered sugar if needed (I added about 1/4 cup more). Spread on your cooled bars and eat your little heart out! Extra delicious with an ice cold glass of milk!
*I just realized that the recipe calls for 1/8 tsp. of salt, which I am assuming goes in the frosting, and I didn't put it in because it wasn't in the instructions. So if you leave it out, I promise it will still taste amazing! You won't even miss it!

So yeah. Make these. They are yummy. I promise I will be back before another 5 months pass by. Maybe even this week if I get crazy!!