Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Raspberry Yogurt Muffins

As much as I have enjoyed making a large variety of muffins the past few months, I am eager for the cooler weather so I can make more yummy soups, stews, and crock pot meals.  I love the way the house fills up with tantalizing scents while those wonderful meals are simmering.....

Can you tell I am ready for fall?  We have finally experiences a bit of chill in the air and I am NOT complaining.  I love an excuse to pull out my sweaters and jeans and boots and get comfy!

But in the meantime, we still get an occasional great buy on a variety of berries, and lately raspberries have been in abundance.  And they have been deliciously HUGE!  I really did take a picture of them for this post, but my camera malfunctioned (translate to mean user error)  so I cannot prove how large and beautiful they were, but hopefully you can still tell in the photos of the end result!

This recipe was easy, and the muffins were light and OH SO MOIST.

Raspberry Yogurt Muffins

adapted from Raspberry Sour Cream Muffins / Weave a Thousand Flavors

1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 containers Dannon Oikos vanilla yogurt (equals about 1 cup)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla (I love the Vanilla Bean Crush from King Arthur Flour)
3 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
12 oz. fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray the muffin pan with non stick cooking spray or place a liner in each cup.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix eggs, Greek yogurt, and vanilla.  With a mixer, beat for a minute or until well blended.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and blend with a mixer for another minute or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the melted butter and lemon zest and stir with a rubber spatula until well blended.

Spoon a tablespoonful of batter into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup.

Place a raspberry in the center of the batter and then fill the muffin cups with the remaining batter.  They should be about 3/4 full.

Place three raspberries on the top of each and push slightly into the batter.
Bake for about 22 minutes or until  the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean.

Let the muffin tin cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the muffins and let them finish cooling.

Dust with powdered sugar as desired.

These were scrumptious!

The finished product - and see those raspberries ARE big!

Brimming with berry goodness!

That bite is headed for my mouth!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Cards for the Family!

My oldest son's wife is a fashion diva.  She looks like she just walked off the cover of Vogue most of the time.  And she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.  My son is certainly blessed.

I tease her about her love for shoes.  She adores high heels, I mean REALLY high heels and she wears them well.  The funny thing is she is already six feet tall so she certainly doesn't need the height .  I don't blame her at all. If I could wear those 5 inch heels without destroying my body I would, because they just look so wonderful!!

So..... with that in mind..... I had no choice but to make her a card that embraced one of her loves.  I found the perfect cutting file at The Cutting Cafe. It was a shoe shaped card that I thought it would be fun to make and decorate. But then I had an idea to use the card as an embellishment and put a card on a card.  It was definitely something different for me but it was fun to play around with different ideas.

Where the shoe opens up I wrote "Happy Birthday" in a white gel pen.  You can see all of the dimension of the card in this photo.

The card base is a Coredinations paper - I like the "tweedy" look of it.  The dotted paper (on the shoe) is from Bo Bunny. I took the black Sakura glaze pen and went over each dot (who does that??) to give the dots dimension.  It really went fast and I have to say I really like the added texture!!  The heel is glittered paper from American Crafts and it is easy to cut on the Silver Bullet because the glitter is as smooth as silk, so no damage to the blades!  I think it might be fun to wear a pair of shoes that looked like these (for maybe 10 minutes or so!!)

Really happy with how this card came out.  She loves red and black so hopefully will love this too1

And a week later there is another celebration - their wedding anniversary. I think Scott planned it that way so it would be easier to remember (not that he would ever forget...!)  So once the birthday card was finished it was time to work on the anniversary card.  Am I the only one who struggles with those?  I was at a loss for ideas so I defaulted to their wedding colors which were maroon and navy blue - striking really.  It is so hard to believe that this is their second anniversary.

You can clearly see the positive and negative images of both the rose frame cut and the sentiment.  I rescued all of the extra cuts for a future project!

The design is elegant but simple - another one from Birds Cards.  And all of the papers are from Paper Temptress. That should come as no surprise by now!  I am clearly addicted to her papers!  And using the Silver Bullet Pro Cutter guaranteed that I would have a positive and negative image - again - so I have pieces set aside for another card in the future.  Love it!

A close up of the sentiment and detail of the cut.

I kept this card pretty basic with a popped up mix and match sentiment , again from Birds Cards, and just added some pearls and pre-made roses from Wild Orchid Crafts (they have some  beautiful flowers if you are not familiar with the site and need to add to your stash!)

And the final product. The bow was made with my new Bow It All tool.  It is my favorite bowmaker (and I have tried a lot of them!)

Hope you enjoyed these two celebratory cards.  I have one more family member that will need a card the end of the month, so stay tuned for more!  
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins - sugar free and healthy

It's Fall..... and Fall screams pumpkin.  I am not a huge fan of pumpkin pie (I know - that is almost sacrilegious!)but I do love everything else pumpkin - muffins, bread, cheesecake, pancakes, waffles - well you get the picture.  I am a fan!  Even my dogs love pumpkin. They each get a tablespoon of it every night because it is really good for them!
So it should be good for us too  -right?  And this recipe is truly a "good for you" recipe.  it is low in sugar, low in fat (really NO fat) and totally healthy.  And yes, they are good too - I mean really good.  They are not like a regular muffin, but that doesn't make them any less desirable.


adapted from Foods for the Soul

1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
4 1/2 tsp. applesauce
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
1 1/4 cups non or low fat milk (I used vanilla coconut milk - Silk brand)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. vanilla (not a typo - it adds a TON of flavor)
1/4 c. Truvia Baking Blend
2 tsp. Truvia
1/2-1 cup raisins, soaked in apple cider then drained  (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 and spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray (I love EverBake from King Arthur Flour - so worth the extra money to me).

In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.. Whisk together and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, pumpkin, milk, lemon juice and vanilla.  Stir in the two different Truvia products. Add in the flour mixture and stir, just until the flour is incorporated. Gently fold in the drained raisins, if desired.

Ready for the oven with a dusting of maple sugar.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each to the top.  Bake at 325 for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.   Serves 12.

The aroma is intoxicating as these cool.

These muffins are different than the "regular" muffin. They are very dense, not cake like, because of the ingredients.  But when you take that first bite, you instantly know you are eating something fabulous and the healthy part is just an added bonus!!   Healthy is transformed into something wonderful!!
 Because they are dense, they are incredibly moist and are delicious the next day , warmed in the microwave.

 You definitely cannot eat just ONE bite!

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Amazingly EASY Peach Cobbler

I love it when I find something that is so incredibly easy AND good.  I really like to try to bake as much as I can from scratch. But there are times when there just isn't the time or the energy to take those extra steps.  So when I ran across this recipe I was more than willing to give it a try, and it was unbelievably easy and surprisingly good.

I will admit to having my fair share of cake mixes stored away in the pantry that I have picked up on sale. There is always a need for something quick and easy, and I have all of the Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks that put this supply to good use.  It is always comforting to have a back up plan , right?

So this recipe was not only easy, but delicious, and I imagine you could easily substitute apples or any combination of berries.

Oops - forgot the blueberries in the picture!


There is actually very little that I changed with this recipe because when there are only FOUR ingredients, there isn't much leeway!

1 box cake mix (I used Butter Golden)
1 (12-oz can) diet Seven-Up
4-5  cups fresh peaches, chunked
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 TBSP cinnamon-sugar

Peel and slice fresh peaches into chunks. Place into a 13x9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Scatter the blueberries over the top of the peaches.

Step 1 - add the fruit!

Sprinkle the dry cake mix directly on top of peaches. Use a spoon or rubber spatula to gently press the cake mix down into the fruit.

Pour the can of soda on top of the cake mix,, making sure to cover the cake mix completely. It will bubble up and look rather inedible!

The Seven-Up is foaming!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Do not preheat earlier because you want to give the cobbler time to sit and bubble and just be!

Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar on top of the soda. It will pop some of the bubbles, but it will still be very runny on top.

Adorned with cinnamon-sugar.

Bake cobber for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping! 

The smell of this right out of the oven is heavenly!

Yum!!  You can leave the whipped cream off
and eat it for breakfast too!
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

October Birthday Cards... Positive and Negative

So here we are again with another installment of positive and negative cards.  I have to say, I just love when I can cut one file and create two cards from a single pattern.  It's like a two for one sale - who doesn't love that?!?

The mat was placed over a colored sheet of paper so the designs would be more visible. 
The positive is on the left, the negative pieces on the right.

This file is from Birds Cards.  She has some great files for anyone who loves to make cards.  And I was able to cut a square of double sided adhesive from All That Jazz to pull up the negative pieces for the glitter application.  But first things first...... the main cut from Paper Temptress mica paper, dotted with Viva Decor pearls in the center of each flower (those are so easy to make and fun) and then I cheated and used a Prima flower that I had in my stash for the center.  I have so many flowers to use up that I am trying to make a concerted effort to use them .  I like the colors of the card - the patterned paper is from Echo Park (I think). I had several out and lost track when I finally settled on one. I need to pay more attention.

Here is the cut file again showing the frame on the right and the pieces on the left,
with the double sided adhesive placed on top.

And finally, the frame on the card base  on the left with the double sided adhesive covered in glitter with the negative on the right.

The negative card or reverse image was sprinkled with Ritz lilac glitter onto the double sided adhesive.  The center flowers are from the Calendar Series at Ducky's Designs and were cut out of two shades of the mica paper from Paper Temptress.  Yes I use that paper a lot. I love how it cuts and there is something about the subtle shimmer that glimmers on the card. It just makes me smile.

These are two of the upcoming birthday cards.  There will be more to come in the days ahead. I have a lot of family occasions hitting in October so hope my motivation doesn't run out before I finish.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Special Birthday!

All of a sudden, October had become a VERY busy month for family and friend greeting cards.  So you will be seeing a lot of sharing this month, and I will try to be more creative and try some new things.  I am definitely in the mood to stretch my wings - a little! :)

This first card is the "negative" of a tulip frame card that I featured here.  If you scroll down in that post to the red and gold tulip framed card , you will be reminded of that beautiful file from Monica - and that was the positive or main image.

Well guess what?  Yep  - I saved the negative image with double sided adhesive attached just waiting for the right person or occasion - and it happened!  I have a dear friend, who recently moved from our city to Las Vegas.  So now she is amid the bright lights and dazzle of that most interesting city!!  And I know I have not lost a friend, but gained a new place to travel!! I can hardly wait.

Here is where the project started - the positive and the negative.

The original image is on the left - the negative or remaining pieces are on the right.  That part
was covered in double sided adhesive.

I simply sprinkled the adhesive with  Ritz poppy orange glitter and voila - instant card front!

This is the image with the double sided adhesive covered in glitter.

 I layered a flower image in the center with foam adhesive and accented the center of the little flower with some glitter glue. The card base is Paper Temptress Mica card stock - I am addicted to the mica and lustre line!

A side view showing the dimension of the 3D flower

I will have another postive/negative card set in a few days. In the meantime, I just want to say...


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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Banana Muffins with Dark Chocolate - low sugar and Truvia Baking Tips!

Bananas and Chocolate - what a great excuse to incorporate dark chocolate into the breakfast menu, right? Well,  these are going to be a staple. They are not overly sweet, but have just enough chocolate to make them feel decadent, without leaving overwhelming guilt in their wake!

I took this recipe and reduced the sugar with Truvia Baking Blend as I have been doing with most of the recipes of late.  I have been wondering if it made a difference in the finished product since I was reducing a quantity of an ingredient in half - so did that give me less batter in reality?  I wondered, but that was as far as I got until my friend, Nance asked a question about substituting regular Truvia for the Baking Blend.
Thank goodness Truvia has a conversion chart or you would need to have a math degree to figure it out!! But in finding that for her, I discovered some great tips for getting the best product possible when using the Baking Blend.

I will assume that you all know when you use the Blend that you reduce the sugar stated in half. So if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you substitute 1/2 cup  Truvia Baking Blend.  But here are the tips.  Add 1/4-1/2 tsp. of baking soda to help increase the volume.  And..... substitute at least 1/2 of the butter or shortening with oil.  I used both tips in this recipe and my muffins rose more and seemed a bit lighter.  I love learning the little tricks that make things look as good as they taste!!

So here is my latest muffin treat that is lower in sugar and tastes OH SO GOOD!!

Low Sugar Banana Muffins with Dark Chocolate

adapted from Buns in My Oven

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup Truva Baking Blend
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 bar (3.5 oz) 80% dark cocoa/dark chocolate, chopped (I used the bar from Trader Joe's)

Spray a muffin tin with non stick spray and set aside.

In a mixer, blend butter, oil and Baking Blend until creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until they are well mixed.  Continue beating and add the vanilla.  Then add the bananas (premashed or whole if they are really ripe), and blend them in well.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Gently mix into the batter and finally fold in the chopped chocolate.

Fill the muffin tin 1/2-3/4 full and bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Check to be sure they are done by inserting a toothpick in the center.  Remove and let sit for 10 minutes, and then remove from the muffin pan and let cool on a wire rack.  YUMMMMM!!!

Makes 12 large muffins.

Banana batter with chopped dark chocolate - flavor sensation!

Ready for the oven with a surprise of vanilla sugar on top!

Fresh from the oven...

Yes the first bite is THAT good!

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Glass, Glaze, Glitter and Glow!!

I love to make cards. Unfortunately the ideas do not always come as the need arises, but I try to push through it.  I have been in a rut lately, needing to make a LOT of cards for October and feeling overwhelmed and uninspired.

So when I decided to participate in a challenge on the "That's Scrap Inc" forum (for cutting machines), I was ready to push out of my comfort zone.... and push I did!  LOL  It was all about doing something with glass containers, vinyl and glitter. I love cutting vinyl because you can do the most detailed work with ease.  But I couldn't think of anything to do.  I scanned all of the vases and jars sitting stored in my garage. They were just begging to be used. But of course none of the dozens were quite right!!  So I finally settled on a trio of square candle holders.  I found a new website of designs from Lori Whitlock and grabbed some of her flourished leaves.  I also was drawn to a quatrafoil background that was a tracing of a design (thank you Lisa!!) .  It was starting to come together - at least in my head!!

So technically, I didn't really use vinyl - but it's close. It's patterned contact paper and it just said "fall" to me. I don't decorate for Halloween anymore with all of the kids grown and the grandkids away, so I chose a simple autumn theme to carry me through the next couple of months.  I am hoping that if I decorate for fall it will start to feel like it here!!  It will be in the 80s again today and then 90s this weekend  - ugh!  I am SO ready to pull out my boots and sweaters and cuddle up on the couch with my dogs in front of the fireplace. Somehow the ambiance of the air conditioner is less than comforting! But enough of my whining......

So here is my project.  I used the acrylic glitter glaze from Dick Blick (it has been waiting for some attention) and then used Distress Rock Candy glitter to further add to the sparkle on the inside. It added a nice background to the vinyl cutouts.  Then I picked up some battery tea lights from Michaels and added a variety of glass pebbles, both in the containers and sprinkled around.

Step 1 - paint glitter glaze and add dry glitter to coat.  It looks nicer after it dries!!

These are the products I used on the inside of the candle holders.

Step 2.  Apply the vinyl cut outs.  It was super easy to do with the transfer tape.

This is just a test run to see how they look with the battery candles!

A closeup of the larger center candle.

One side of one of the smaller candles.

Candles arranged for a day time display.  Love the colored glass pebbles!

The glow at night.........

The finished arrangement

I am really happy with the effects and they look really festive at night. I would definitely do this again.

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