October 31, 2014

Unique Halloween Costumes

What to be for Halloween?  A cat, a ghost, a witch, a princess, a cheerleader? Been there done that!  I like to be something unique!! But every year it seems like we wait until the the last minute to do our Halloween costumes.  Most of the time we don't even know what we're doing until the night before!  

This year may have been my best idea ever.  What you may ask could be the ultimate Halloween costume?  Well let me start by saying I don't like anything too scary, bloody, difficult, etc.  Family and kid friendly is the way to go.  :)  

So what was I this year? (drumroll please.....) A CHRISTMAS TREE!!  And you know what?!  It was so easy!  

Here was my Pinspiration.  Not too bad (for the night before) if you ask me! All I did was take a green crew neck sweatshirt and pin on garland and Christmas ornaments.  With leggings and boots you're good to go!

Now if you want to go all out, you can add ribbon and bows to your boots.  (Presents under the tree)  And wear yellow gloves.  (A star)  

You'll have to stand with your hands above your head to get the full effect.  Now when you're our trick-or-treating use a gift bag to carry your candy.

Our English class also had some great costume ideas.  Yes, it's a class of all girls...and it's the most amazing class ever!  But anyways back to the point.  One girl was even a leaf blower! Definitely going to keep the flower and energizer bunny on tabs for next year!

October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Snicker Doodles

From September to November everything I make involved pumpkin.  EVERYTHING.  Pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin squares, pumpkin pumpkin and more pumpkin!

In the spring I came upon these White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles from Sally's Baking Addiction.  Of course I pinned it!  Pumpkin cookies....I couldn't pass them up! When she says they deserve a standing ovation she's not kidding.  

Since it was October, I decided to make them for my bake sale. Well of course (being a new recipe) I had to do a trial run...  BAD IDEA!!  I have this problem where I sample devour the dough. Before a single snicker doodle was baked over half the dough was gone.  WARNING: do not sample the dough! (unless you want to eat it all...)

When I finally got a batch baked, you guessed it!  Yep, I tried one a dozen of them too!  Let's just say by the time my family came in only a couple cookies were left.  Whoops!  

Pumpkin Snicker Doodles

by Simple and Sweet Creations
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
In a large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup white sugar until no lumps remain. Whisk in vanilla and pumpkin until smooth.
Stir in flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and 3 teaspoons cinnamon. Fold in chocolate chips.
Cover and chill 30 minutes (or up to 3 days). CHILLING IS MANDATORY
Preheat oven to 350* F. Roll dough into balls (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each).
In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
Roll dough balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on baking sheet.
Slightly flatten balls and bake 10-12 minutes.

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October 29, 2014

Snicker Doodles

If you haven't guessed it already, I absolutely love Christmas! Not because I get presents and go shopping (well...those are pretty great too) but mostly because I get to give everyone gifts. Really. I look forward to it all year.

But since I have so many teachers it's hard to get them something they'll use that's not too expensive. Last year I may have given my teachers the best gift yet.  Everyone gives baked goods or little homemade treats. But unbaked goods? Now we're talkin!

Yep that's exactly what I did!  I gave each of my teachers a box of cookie dough balls. They loved it too! Why? Because who wants more sweets over the holidays? Since these were unbaked they could be saved for later.

Just one thing...make sure you include baking instructions...

Snicker Doodles

1 cup butter flavored Crisco shortening
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
Cinnamon Sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the first six ingredients.
Stir in flour, adding more if batter is too sticky.
Roll balls in cinnamon sugar mixture.
Bake at 350* for 8 to 10 minutes.
Copyright © 2014, Grace George. Simple and Sweet Creations. All Rights Reserved.

Click for printable recipe.

October 28, 2014

Banana Nutella Muffins

WARNING: If you like bananas and Nutella then be prepared to become addicted to these muffins.

Long story short, my friend is obsessed with the hazlenut spread. Her and I started a board on Pinterest where we can pin all our Nutella recipes.  Dangerous and wonderful all at the same time! Occasionally we'll get together at one of our houses, each choose a Nutella recipe from our board, and have a "baking day".  I don't think we've made a bad thing yet!  

On our first "experiment day" I choose these Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins.  That was over a year ago. Guess how many times I've made them since?  Bigillions!  We ALWAYS have at least a dozen in the freezer...just incase something terrible would happen to bananas or Nutella.  Help us all if either one becomes scare...

Banana Nutella Muffins

by Simple and Sweet Creations
Ingredients (24 muffins)
  • 4 over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease or line two regular muffin pans with liners.
In a large bowl, combine bananas, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in egg, vegetable oil and vanilla.
Slowly stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until no lumps remain.
Fill tins 3/4 full and top with about 1 teaspoon Nutella. Using a toothpick, swirl Nutella into batter.
Bake 15-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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October 24, 2014

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

These are my aunt's favorite cookies!  When we make them for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner she swears she could eat them all.  Sometimes she even makes us hide them from her!  Yes, they're that delicious.

I made these for my bake sale last week (red, white, and blue stars for Veterans) and they were a hit.  An elementary teacher came over and bought (not lying) at least a dozen.  By Saturday night she said they were all gone.  So much for freezing them for the holidays...

I'm pretty picky when it comes to cookies.  Nothing too crunchy, too sweet, too dry, too soft.  Let's just say I'm pretty hard to please.  (You can blame my mother for that one!  I've been spoiled since day one with delicious homemade cooking!)

These may be the only sugar cookies I'll eat.  They're firm, but not too hard.  Soft, but not fall apart in your hand.  Sweet, but not that you can't finish the whole cookie.  (You could will easily eat more than one!)  

Oh...and don't forget to sample the dough!  You can always tell if a cookie is going to be good by tasting the dough. :)

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

by Simple and Sweet Creations
    • 1 cup margarine
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 1/2 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3 cups confectionery sugar
    • 1/4 cup margarine
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer.
    Cover and chill several hours before rolling.
    Preheat oven to 350° F.
    Roll and cut out on a generously floured surface.
    Bake 10 to 12 minutes.
    Allow to cool before frosting.

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    October 22, 2014

    Christmas Wreath

    Nothing says football like a Christmas Wreath.  No, not a wreath like you hang on the door in December.  A chicken Christmas Wreath!  This is my dad's absolute favorite game day appetizer. He waits all year for lie.

    I was in the kitchen this weekend baking for my bake sale and decided to whip this up for dinner.  A good football game was about to start, my dad had been asking for it for weeks, and the oven was already on.  It was the perfect time!

    It's super simple, I really don't know why we don't make it more often.  Just crescent rolls, chicken, soup, cheese, and veggies. The hardest part is waiting for it to bake!

    Start by laying the crescent rolls in a circle on a baking stone.  You want the point to be facing in, like so. And made sure you overlap the edges slightly.  

    Mix the remaining ingredients and spoon around the outer edge.  

    Now here's the tricky part.  One at a time, pull the tips of the crescent rolls over the mixture and off to the side.  Lightly press to the edge so it stays.  Bake bake at 325º for 30 to 45 minutes.

    Christmas Wreath

    • 2 cans crescent rolls
    • 1 cup chicken, cooked and chopped
    • 1 cup colby jack cheese, shredded
    • 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
    • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, cooked and chopped
    • 1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 can cream of chicken soup
    Preheat oven to 325° F.
    In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients except crescent rolls.
    Lay crescent rolls around baking stone with points in the center.
    Spoon mixture evenly around edges.
    Pull points to the outside to form a wreath.
    Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

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    October 10, 2014

    Chicken Nuggets

    When I was little I'd look forward to the days grandma picked me up from school.  Why?  Well of coarse anytime spent with grandma is special!  But grandma always seemed to find a Wendy's or McDonald's on the way home.  She liked to call it "her special treat." Fine by me!  What 10 year old wouldn't eat chicken nuggets everyday!?  Unfortunately they aren't the best things for you...

    I still love chicken nuggets...well my homemade chicken nuggets. Yes, after I learned just how bad those "tender, juicy McNuggets" actually were (and the fact that they may not be 100% meat) I quit ordering fast food chicken nuggets. 

    Then I saw Mr. Food's recipe for Buttermilk Chicken Nuggets. Yes! A homemade chicken nugget recipe!  I printed it off and gave it a try.  

    It was really good...but of course I had to make some adjustments. Instead of buttermilk I like to dip the chicken in egg.  I think it sticks better.  And if you want some real breading, dip it twice!  I'm not a huge spicy person, so I left out the red pepper.  Feel free to add or leave out whatever spices you'd like. Sometimes I even add parmesan cheese. (delicious!)

    Chicken Nuggets

    • 1 pound chicken breasts, cubed
    • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
    • 1 egg
    Preheat oven to 425° F.
    Cut chicken into nuggets, strips, or tenders.
    Dip in egg then breadcrumbs, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
    Bake 15 minutes or until no loner pink.

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    Blueberry Smoothie

    Since it was 40 degrees last week we decided to take advantage of the cold and defrost our freezers.  Yes, freezers...more than one.  Three full size to be exact.  What do you put in three freezers!?! Well if you must ask...

    One is full of meat.  Beef, pork, chicken, name it we have it.  Last summer we bought half a cow from my dad's uncle and quarter of a pig from our friends.  For anyone who hasn't had farm fresh meat, you're missing out!  Not only is it better for you, it tastes 110x better!  If you are ever given the opportunity to buy local meat do it.  Definitely worth the extra penny!

    Freezer two has vegetables.  Corn, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, peppers, zucchini, applesauce, soup, coleslaw, pickles.  Basically this freezer is our garden.  One problem...every year our garden gets bigger, and the freezer seems to be getting smaller.  Christmas 2014: new computer freezer four?

    The last one has stuff we need on a daily basis.  Bread, muffins, fruits, chocolate chips, butter/margarine, pie fillings, pie crusts, apple dumplings, ice cream.  Do you think we like dessert? We LOVE it!

    So there's our freezers. Well in the middle of defrosting the third (everyday) freezer I found some blueberries.  Not sure how long they'd been in there I figured I better use them pretty quick.  But what do you do with a gallon zip lock bag of frozen blueberries? Smoothies!

    Blueberry Smoothie

    by Simple and Sweet Creations
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
    • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ice (if using fresh berries)
    Combine all ingredients in a blender.
    Blend until smooth.

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    October 6, 2014

    Strawberry Smoothie

    For the past week our house has been filled with nothing but apples.  Apple pie fillings, apple dumplings, apple crisp, applesauce...  I'm pretty sick of apples.

    So instead of an apple pie smoothie I decided to make a strawberry one.  Strawberries are such a good fruit for smoothies. Like bananas, they are sweet so you don't need much if any additional sugar, and if they're frozen they replace the ice too!

    In June I make sure mom and I pick extra strawberries so we have enough to freeze for smoothies and yogurt parfaits.  I love mixing them in greek yogurt with blueberries, bananas, cinnamon, and honey. :)  Sometimes I even put some cheerios on top for a little crunch!

    ...I just gave myself an idea.  Greek yogurt with apples, honey, and apple cinnamon cheerios.  In a couple weeks when the apples are done I'll start experimenting with it and an apple pie smoothie. But now...I just can't do it.  

    Start by combining all ingredients in a blender.  I like to put all the soft stuff on the bottom.  I think it blends easier.

    Blend... (I like mine really smooth!)  Pour into a glass and enjoy! :) 

    Strawberry Smoothie

    by Simple and Sweet Creations
    • 1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
    • 1/2 cup yogurt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • Ice (if using fresh berries)
    Combine all ingredients in a blender.
    Blend until smooth.
    Pour into glass and enjoy.

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    Microwave Egg Sandwich

    I could eat eggs everyday.  Scrambled, omelet, in a sandwich, the possibilities are endless.  This morning I was feeling an egg sandwich.  It was cold and I needed something hardy to keep me full until lunch.  

    Like my microwave scrambled eggs, it took a long time to prefect an egg sandwich.  My first attempts were in a frying pan...  I'm just not going to tell you about those ones...

    I'd pour them in my little mold really slow but no matter what I did they just never cooked in the right shape :(  One day I looked at my cereal bowl full of eggs and thought Why can't it just stay like that... 

    Then it hit me!  Duh!  Cook it in the cereal bowl!!  

    I have to laugh at myself sometimes...  Does anyone else do stupid things like that too?  I sure hope so.

    So after I perfected the cooking I started experimenting with the add-ins.  When we have it, I like to mix in broccoli and mushrooms.  Recently I tried cauliflower.  Wasn't bad!  I actually really liked it!!  Oh..and you always have to add cheese!  Mixing in shredded or topping with a piece of american.  They're both good. Don't be afraid to try mixing in something crazy :)

    Start by cracking your eggs into a regular cereal bowl and add any mix-ins or shredded cheese.  (We didn't have any broccoli, cauliflower, or mushrooms!) :(

    Cover and microwave 40 seconds or until egg(s) are mostly set.  You may need to go longer if you have more eggs or a less powerful microwave.  Just experiment!

    Flip egg over and microwave another 12 seconds or until cooked to your liking.

    Place on a toasted Sandwich Thin, english muffin, bagel, or piece of toast!  And don't forget to add the slice of cheese if you didn't use shredded!!

    Look how delicious :)

    October 1, 2014

    S&P Chicken

    Would you believe it was 75 and sunny today? September... Ohio... 75... sunny... Something definitely isn't right.  I guess mother nature is just getting ready to shock us with winter. With our luck we'll get 10 feet of snow before Thanksgiving.

    Now I probably just jinxed myself saying that...shoot.  Oh well, what are you going to do.  We Ohioans are used to 40 degree changes everyday.  It's why I keep my shorts and jeans in the closet all year round.  Who knows, I could be wearing flip flops for Christmas!

    Since today was such a beautiful day, I didn't feel like starting the oven to cook dinner.  Why heat up the house when it's already hot outside?  And it just sounded like a good day for a salad.  Dinner Solution: Chicken Salads

    When I plan on making salads for dinner, I usually make Italian Chicken.  But just wasn't an Italian Chicken day. Wasn't feeling it.  So instead I whipped up some S&P Chicken. (yes...nothing like good old salt and pepper)

    Cook it on the stove in a frying pan, in the oven in a glass dish, or even on the grill.  I've done them all!  Chop into bite size pieces and throw on a salad or sandwich...wallah!  Bon appetit!

    Start by sprinkling your chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Since mine were a little bigger and I wanted them to cook fast, I cut them into smaller pieces.

    Here's the many ways you could cook it...
    Frying Pan: Place in a lightly greased frying pan and cook on medium heat until no longer pink.  
    Oven: Place in a lightly greased glass baking dish and bake in a pre-heated 350* F oven for 30 minutes or until no longer pink.  Baking times will vary depending on your oven!
    Grill: Grill until no longer pink.

    Chop up for a salad or leave whole for a sandwich.

    S & P Chicken

    • Chicken breasts
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.
    Choose your cooking method...
    Chop into bite size pieces for a salad or leave whole for a sandwich.

         Place in a lightly greased glass baking dish and bake at 350* F for 30 
         minutes or until no longer pink.
    Frying Pan:
         Place in a lightly greased frying pan and cook over medium heat until no 
         longer pink.
         Grill until no longer pink.

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    Peach Smoothie

    Every time I go to the mall and walk through the food court, I'm temped to stop at Frullati for one of their delicious smoothies. Unfortunately, I can't rationalize spending $4 or $5 on a drink.  I guess I'm just cheap.  

    One day at Walmart I came across a small blender on the sale rack.  For $10 (two smoothies!!) I picked up one of the best kitchen appliances. Now I can make my own frosty drinks whenever I want!! It's a dream come true :)

    It took several bad smoothies (un-drinkable may be more accurate) to finally find the right combination but I'm proud to say this one is a winner!

    Peaches weren't the best this year so I have to be careful how many times I whip up this delicious treat!  With peaches, yogurt, milk, and cinnamon, this is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day...or if you're like me you'll still be making these in the middle of December!!  

    Start by combining all ingredients in a blender.  I find it best to put liquids on the bottom.

    Blend until smooth...

    Peach Smoothie

    by Simple and Sweet Creations
    • 3/4 cup almond milk
    • 3/4 cup greek yogurt
    • 2/3 cup sliced peaches
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon sweetener
    Place all ingredients in a blender.
    Blend until smooth.
    Pour into glass and enjoy!

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