Frozen Hot Chocolate
Those of you who know me are aware of my love for trying new recipes. This past Christmas a good friend included a recipe in a card for me. How fitting and thoughtful that idea was. I decided to use this recipe in my blog to share with all of you who follow me so I can continue her thoughtfulness and pay it forward.
The recipe is for the most scrumptious chocolate drink I have ever had, I hope you all will take the time to try it. The drink is definitely worth the effort. I will include the original recipe along with the version I came up with which contains fewer calories in parenthesis .
Step 1: Gather all Ingredient; you will also need a blender that will crush ice.
- 1/3 cup evaporated instant dry milk
- 1/3 cup sugar (I use 3tsp and a squirt of Hershey’s Syrup)
- 4T cocoa
- 1 cup milk (I use 1%)
- 3 cups ice
- whipped cream (sometimes I whip my own)
- grated dark chocolate (I use Dove)
Step 2: Add ingredients to blender in the following order: milk, then dry ingredients, then the ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.
Another item to mark off my 101 list (#20 Try 25 new dessert recipes, 3/25). Three desserts down, twenty two to go!
Semi Homemade Veggie Pizza
So yes, I realize this blog post is way over due and some of my followers may have given up on me. However, I have been busy completing many of the items on my Day Zero Project. I am now ready to begin sharing what I’ve been up to and hope you will continue the journey and Follow me to 50!
Let’s begin with what has become one of my favorite quick and healthy meals: Semi Homemade Veggie Pizza. You can follow my directions or get creative and modify this recipe to your own personal preference.
Step 1: gather all ingredients.
- Rustic All Natural Old World Pizza Sauce
- Rustic Organic Pizza Crust
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Green Pepper
- Fresh Garlic
- Olive Oil
- (2) eggs
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Canola Oil
Step 2:Wash and chop all veggies.
Step 3:Cover bottom of skillet with canola oil; heat. In bowl beat (2) eggs, add 3T milk, salt and pepper. In separate bowl measure about 2 cups flour. Dip sliced zucchini in egg mixture, roll in flour and place in skillet. Cook one layer at a time until golden and crisp. Place on a platter lined with paper towels to drain grease off after cooking.
Step 4:Place pizza crust onto baking stone. Lightly brush crust with extra virgin olive oil. Cover oiled crust with pressed garlic. Spread with pizza sauce leaving almost one inch of outer perimeter uncovered. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.
Step 5:First add tomatoes; second add peppers, third add zucchini. Cover entirely with freshly grated Mozzarella Cheese.
Step 6:Bake at 450 degrees for 10-13 minutes.
Step 7:Serve with fresh pineapple and lemon-aid.
Another item to mark off my 101 List (#16 - try 10 new dinner recipes). One down, nine to go.
A New Spin on Hula Hooping
Some of you may remember hooping as a child, while others have continued into adulthood with their love for this activity. I am among the group who have always kept their hoops in use. I have to admit though, until this summer, my hoop was strictly used for the basic rotating around the waist move. I am excited to share my renewed love for hooping. This summer while in Florida, I stumbled upon a Hula Hoop Dance Class, this is where it all transpired.
When I arrived at the class I was surprised to see women of all ages. Another surprise was the hoops they used; they were much bigger and heavier than the one I had at home. The instructor was amazing, she shared many techniques, tips and dance moves. During the 90 minute session, I learned so many things and couldn’t wait to practice on my own. Hoop dancing is so much fun, a great workout and definitely something I will continue as one of my weekly activities.
Since I had to fly back home and the hoops were 42 inches or more in diameter; I was sad that it was not an option to purchase one to take with me. They were also very expensive. Being that I am a creative and frugal person, I was motivated to learn how to make my own hoop. I did some research, made a list, and when my plane landed, I drove straight to the store to purchase what was needed. As I was shopping for the materials, I found that it was not possibe to make just one hoop. Instead, I made several and decided to begin selling them. I have priced my hoops so they are affordable in the hope to get more people involved in hooping. Here a few pictures of what my hoops look like.
My hoops can be used to do the basic moves or for more advanced hoop dancing. How ever you choose to hoop, it is FUN and a great way to exercise. If you are interested in purchasing one, you can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And now, I can mark two more things off my 101 list, #15: Take a dance class and #77: Learn to make something new.
In the future I may decide to become certified to teach hoop dancing; you will just have to keep following me to see!
Summer 2011…Wow! What an eventful, inspiring, creative, fun summer, full of lots to blog about. Thanks to all my followers who have been understanding and have patiently waited for a new post. I promise more will follow to fill you in on what I have been up to. For all of you who are creative and love to learn new things, keep checking back because I have a lot to share!!!
I had a hard time deciding where to begin blogging. Since I feel so blessed that I was able to share so many wonderful memories that I made with my family this summer, that is where I chose to begin. So here we go…
My husband and I both share June birthdays and this year our oldest daughter, Lucretia, gave us tickets to the CMA Fest in Nashville, TN.
On Friday June 10th, the three of us spent the evening together enjoying the talents of: Dierks Bentley; Lady A; Reba; Ashton Shepherd; Sugarland and Keith Urban. What a show!!!
The show lasted about five hours and ended with fireworks. This was an amazing gift, and the best part was, our daughter spent the evening celebrating our gift with us.
If you have not been to the CMA Fest or need a gift idea; I suggest and encourage CMA Fest tickets. Our family has already made plans to attend two nights next year.
And now I can mark #28 off my list - Go to CMA Fest in Nashville and #21 - See someone new in concert (Lady A, Ashton Shepherd and Reba).
Our youngest daughter Lindsey, her husband Miguel, and their daughter Maddy, gave us tickets for a dolphin cruise for our birthdays. We boarded our cruise boat at the marina in Saint Petersburg, FL. I am not sure who was more excited, our granddaughter Maddy or myself. We both share a love for dolphins and I have never seen them in the wild, so I had high expectations that our trip would allow us to share this together. Here are a few pictures of our ocean adventure -
And now, I can also mark #30 off my 101 list - See live dolphins in the wild.
While in Florida, Maddy and I shared a day at the Tampa Zoo together. We had so much fun. We bought a leaf of lettuce and Maddy was very excited to feed the giraffe the “salad” as she called it. The giraffe was a big gentle soul who brought much excitement and giggles to my granddaughter as she fed him.
My checklist continues, now #79 is marked off my 101 list - Go to the zoo with Maddy.
More memories in Florida include Busch Gardens. We had so much fun here too. And, if you are not aware of this piece of info, at the end of the day you can upgrade your ticket for $5.00 and it will be good until the end of the year. This was definitely worth it for us because we make multiple trips to Florida each year to see our kids. We have found that the lines are short for the rides at Busch Gardens, they have animals, a water park, a childrens section and awesome shows. Did I mention they also have several roller coasters? One just happens to be the tallest in the state. My son-in-law somehow talked me into riding this one with him. I have not been on a roller coaster in years so I was a bit nervous. I became even more nervous when we were about to board and I realized that everyone riding was much younger than I. Miguel also insisted that we ride in the very front to get the full effect. So here we go…
I know, it does look scary but it was a blast and I will definitely do it again!
Now to end our adventures at Busch Gardens on a milder note. Here is a picture of Maddy with the cast from The Sesame Street Live Show -
On another trip to Nashville, TN, I saw the American Idol Live Tour at the Bridgestone Arena. This was a birthday gift from my husband Jeff.
He knows what an Idol addict I am. He was even supportive after I stayed home from an event I was to attend with him to watch the final episode where they were to announce the new Amarican Idol. What an understanding hubby! But, the ironic thing about this was; I didn’t get to see the show. We were having a thunderstorm that night and our power went out. Luckily my mother-in-law had recorded it so I watched it a few days later with her. This is kinda funny now, but at the time, not so much! Anyway, I saw the final 11 perform and WOW! It was amazing! I was a Lauren fan all the way through and still am. But I have to admit, all 11 are very talented and have the potential to do well. The one I feel who improved the most was Stephano.
I hope you enjoyed my summer adventures. I will be sharing more soon!
Wall Art Volunteer Project
I am happy to report my first day off for the summer was quite ambitious - I spent the day volunteering at the vocational school where my husband teaches. With the help of his students, they had penciled a 6’ x 6’ Trans Am logo onto the wall of his auto body classroom. This six foot bird needed someone to paint it…since I was off for the summer, and had experience in painting detailed projects, I was a good candidate for this job. I accepted the challenge, with a little grumbling under my breath, crawled out of bed early and headed to work with my husband. My favorite paint brushes in hand, I was ready to put my creativity to use.
As my husband prepared for his soon to arrive students, I proceeded to begin my wall art project. The first step was gathering materials and paint. Since the wall had a fresh coat of white paint and the logo already penciled on, my job was not too difficult. I started by painting the black bird body.
Next, I added the gold wings.
The third step in this project was adding the red. This final color was what I believe made the logo “Pop”.
In this last picture, my husband is in his classroom standing next to the logo.
This past year he has had to adjust to a new school and is trying to make his classroom more inviting by painting the walls and adding several different car logos; very appropriate for the subject: Auto Body. He is an enthusiastic teacher, like so many, who goes above and beyond to get students excited and engaged in learning. He has also been known to use his own money for items needed, not to mention all the extra time spent to work on whatever needs to be done; all for the benefit of his students. He has an amazing talent with an unselfish goal of passing it along to anyone who is willing to learn a trade. If you can’t tell, I am very proud of my husband and feel that he does have a lot to offer his students.
I truly believe that it does take a village to raise a child, which is why I was so willing to give of my time to spend the day making a classroom more appealing to those who plan to enter through the doors. And now, I can add to #41: Volunteer to do something. If this has left you wondering whether I will have my hand in the rest of the car logos that will be painted on the walls of this classroom…I guess you will have to continue to “Follow me to 50” to find out!
Spring Luncheon Fundraiser
I was excited when I received a call again to participate in the P.A.S.T. Spring Luncheon. When I shared the news with my husband, he did not react with the enthusiasm that I anticipated. He thought that I would have learned my lesson from the last time I decorated a table for this event. He remembered walking into the Potato Barn, where the event was held that year, and viewing all of the tables that were decorated by different women from the Union County area. All of the tables except for one had fine china, crystal, elegant linens…well, you get the picture, and you probably have guessed by now whose table was different, that’s right, MINE. Honestly, that did not seem to bother those who chose to set at my table, and it didn’t change my view on plastic ware and paper products either!
So as I began the planning phase, with excitement I might add, I thought about the theme for this year which was “Ties that Bind: Faith, Family and Community.” Since the event was going to occur in April, I thought how perfect, my youngest daughter’s birthday was in April and I could go with a birthday theme because most families do celebrate this occasion. With that said, I am excited to report that my table will be done in paper products, and my husband was cringing. I hope that everyone who loved my table will share with my husband that it was acceptable, awesome and a fun table to be seated at!!!
The color theme was decided after finding the most adorable paisley printed paper plates and napkins. The table was adorned with pink, brown, blue, teal, green, lavender and white. For my center pieces, I used a small cupcake stand for party favor boxes filled with chocolates and a glass cakestand had cupcakes with pinwheel toppers. I also purchased a game in a cute canister that matched my decor. As my guests waited for their food we were entertained by playing the game “Do You Really Know Me?”
This theme was used again for my daughter’s special day and I hope the pictures will bring inspiration for you to begin planning that next birthday celebration for someone special in your life!!!
Athough my husband continued to question my choice of table decor, he did admit what I had done was impressive. I’m not sure if he was sincere or just wanted another cupcake but anyway, I took it as a compliment. And now, I can mark another item off my 101 list - #41: Volunteer to do something.
Paper Party Favor Boxes
In case any of you are interested in making party favor boxes, you will definitely want to read this post. I used these boxes as part of the decor for my daughter’s birthday and at a recent fundraising event. These boxes are adorably cute and can be filled with chocolates and used as a “thank you” to send home with all your party guests. Here are a few simple steps and some pictures that will help to get you started on this project.
Step 1: Select several colors of cardstock and cut into 2” x 11” strips.
Step 2: Score each strip every 2 inches, end to end.
Step 3: Use a bone folder to crease and form crisp folds, cut off excess piece on each strip.
Step 4: Using a glue stick, glue one of the 2” ends to the other end to form an opened square, then attach another strip to form a completed enclosed box.
Step 5: Continue the above steps until all of the boxes are completed.
Step 6: Rubber stamps, ink pads, punches, and ribbon can be used to create decorations to add onto the outsides of the boxes. Use dimensional tape to adhere decorations onto the boxes. Double-sided tape or glue can be used to attach the ribbon.
Step 7: Fill boxes with assorted chocolates. Stack the boxes to create a center piece for your party table and share!
I hope you enjoy this project and can use it at your next party or event! I shared these boxes with all the ladies who sat at my table during a recent P.A.S.T. fundraiser which brings me one step closer to completing my 101 list- #56: Do something nice for someone.
Pinwheel Cupcake Toppers
As I was contemplating on what my next blog post would be, I began thinking about the numerous events that were coming up. In April, I have a couple of birthday parties to host as well as an event in which I volunteered to decorate a table. I will be posting in detail about my table decor very soon, but for now, I will share with you how you can make pinwheel toppers for your cupcakes.
The first step in this project is to pick out designer paper. I could not find paper printed on both sides in colors I wanted so I bought single sided printed paper. I then glued fronts to backs to create double sided paper prints that were pleasing to my taste.
Second step: gather all materials and get organized. You will need scissors, colored metal brads, ruler, pencil, four inch lollipop sticks, craft hammer, eyelet hole setter, cutting mat, and double sided tape.
Third step: cut paper into 3” x 3” square pieces. Place a two inch circle in center of square, next, draw a cross from corner to corner stopping as you reach the center circle. Cut along the lines until you reach the circle creating four triangles. Punch holes in left corner tips of each of the four triangles in the square and one hole in the middle of the square. Next, take the left corner tip of each triangle and fold inward to the middle hole, place a metal brad through the holes to secure in place creating your pinwheel. I started an assembly line and continued these steps until I completed 50 pinwheels. Next, cover the ends of the lollipop sticks with double sided tape and insert into each pinwheel.
Although I did not make my pinwheels to spin in the wind, hopefully they will turn heads when my guests see what I have created. Now it’s time to mark #43 off my 101 list- Begin a new tradition: the new tradition is to create new cupcake toppers for my daughters each year for their birthdays. I hope this new tradition will bring smiles to my daughter’s faces as they anticipate what next years birthday cupcake topper will be!
Chocolate Cups filled with Chocolate Mousse
I finally decided what I was going to make for one of my dearest friends from junior high school who was coming to Southern Illinois for a visit from Hutchinson, Kansas. I wanted to make something really special for dessert since we always considered this to be the best part of the meal. And why not kill two birds with one stone…a fabulous dessert as well as a post for my blog so she could read about it later.
And now to unveil the chosen dessert: Homemade Chocolate Cups filled with Mousse and topped with Whipped Cream. The Chocolate Mousse recipe was given to me by my youngest daughter who promised this to be a recipe that would be appreciated by anyone who loves chocolate. For those of you who are dieting, don’t read any further because this recipe is definitely not part of your plan. I’m sure just reading the ingredients will pack on the pounds.
Set aside plenty of time to prepare this recipe, especially if it’s your first attempt. One step I even had to redo, which I have included some helpful tips to hopefully prevent you from making the same mistake. This is not a quick and easy recipe, it took me an entire afternoon and then I spent the evening cleaning up my kitchen. Who knew this would be such a messy project but I had chocolate everywhere. With that said, I would still recommend trying this at least once. The rave reviews that I received when I served this after dinner definitely confirmed that I chose the perfect dessert for my friend’s visit.
If you have someone special you would like to share this with, here is a list of ingredients as well as the directions for a dessert that will satisfy any chocolate lover’s craving!
Ingredients for Chocolate Cups:
- 8 small balloons (wash and pat dry)
- 10 ounces dark chocolate, divided (I use either Private Select or Ghirardelli)
Blow up balloons about 4 inches in diameter and tie. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Melt half of chocolate in microwave (turn setting to defrost); stop often to stir. Add the remainder of chocolate and continue stopping and stirring to avoid getting too hot. When all chocolate is melted, use a spoon and drop about 1 tsp. of chocolate onto parchment paper to form a small flat round disk (this will provide a flat bottom for bowls).Dip one balloon at a time covering about 1/3 of bottom then place on round disk onto parchment paper. If dipping the balloon seems awkward, a spoon can be used to smear chocolate onto bottoms of balloons. Repeat until all balloons are coated with melted chocolate. Place in freezer for 30-45 minutes. Take one balloon out at a time and carefully release the air by snipping the knotted end with scissors to gradually release air. Carefully peel the balloon away from the edges and place back in refrigerator until ready to fill.
Ingredients for Chocolate Mousse:
- 1 bag semi sweet chocolate chunks (I use either Private Select or Ghirardelli)
- 1/2 cup milk, divided
- 2 T butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 T sugar
- 1 1/4 cup whipping cream
Directions for Chocolate Mousse:
In double boiler melt chocolate, 1/4 cup milk and butter. Let cool for 10 minutes. In saucepan over boiling water, beat yolks, sugar and 1/4 cup milk, whisk on low heat until ingredients reaches about 160 degrees. TIP: DO NOT cook too long or mixture will curdle (this is the part I had to redo). You will know it’s done when the color changes to a pretty lemony color, this occurs right before it reaches bubbly stage. Remove from heat and whisk chocolate mixture into yolk mixture, mix well. Set in bowl of ice to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
Whip 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into cooled chocolate mixture. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. This can be made the day before serving.
When ready to serve, remove cups and mousse from refrigerator, pipe the mousse mixture into cups using a pastry bag and large star tip. If desired top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.
Two more items to mark off my 101 list: (#20 Try 25 new dessert recipes, Chocolate Cups and Chocolate Mousse 2/25). Two desserts down, twenty three to go!
Going through the big “D” and I do mean Dallas!
Some of you may be familiar with Flat Stanley. He is a character in a book who is usually introduced to 2nd and 3rd grade students. After reading the story, “Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures” by Jeff Brown, the students usually have an opportunity to color and cut out a Flat Stanley paper figure to take home and journal about their adventures together.
My husband and I thought our days with Flat Stanley were over, but much to our surprise we were mistaken. Right before Christmas we received a visitor at our door, her name was Flat Raeanna. She traveled to Southern Illinois all the way from South Hutchinson Elementary School in Hutchinson, Kansas. Their teacher, Mrs. Weesner (a close friend of mine), had her student’s make flat people and name them.
We were so excited to have her as our guest in our new home and wanted to take her on a fun adventure. So, we began planning a Christmas Vacation Adventure to Florida. Raeanna made herself at home and had a few days to rest before we set out on our journey.
On December 21st our travels began. We were packed and in the car bright and early. Along the way we traveled through Kentucky, Tennessee (we made a stop in Nashville to pick up our oldest daughter), Georgia, and finally reached our destination near Tampa, Florida. This is where our youngest daughter and her family live and where we made arrangements to spend the week.
We wanted to show our guest a special time so we filled the week with lots of fun. During our time in Florida we celebrated our granddaughter’s 2nd Birthday, we went Christmas shopping, decorated a gingerbread house, went to Apollo Beach and Anna Maria Island, went after Christmas shopping, went to the park, rode a carrousel, saw the movie “Tangled”, and celebrated Christmas. Raeanna had so much fun and enjoyed the beautiful Florida weather; it was hard for her to say goodbye to my daughter and her family. Raeanna thanked them for being such wonderful hosts and hostesses, a few tears were shed and then we began our journey back to Southern Illinois.
We safely arrived back in Southern Illinois where the weather was frigidly cold. Raeanna enjoyed a few snow days and her visit was extended (because I lost her, so sorry about that!). While I was frantically looking for her, I created my 101 list for the Day Zero Project. Then, I found her and helped her pack for her next destination: Dallas, Texas. Raeanna forgave me for losing her (hopefully Mrs. Weesner and her class will too, especially when they read my blog). Raeanna was even kind and thoughtful enough to request that pictures be sent to let us know she arrived safely.
Here is Raeanna enjoying her adventures in the Big “D”.
Raeanna began her adventures in Dallas, Texas…And another item to mark off my list (#101 find Flat Raeanna and send her to another state).