Monday, September 29, 2008

Best-Loved Chocolate Bars

This recipe comes from Taste of Home's America's Family Recipes 2006

Best-Loved Chocolate Bars
1 chocolate cake mix
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
3 Tbsp half and half
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 jar (11.75 oz) hot fudge ice cream topping
1 package (12 oz) milk chocolate chips
1 cup salted peanuts

In a bowl, combine the dry cake mix and cracker crumbs. Cut in peanut butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, whisk the egg and cream. Add to the crumb mixture just until moistened. Set aside 3/4 cup for topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture into a greased 9x13 baking pan.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add fudge topping; mix well. Spread over the crust. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, peanuts and reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Cut into bars. Refrigerate leftovers.
(I only had chocolate graham crackers so I used those instead of regular ones. It was very chocolate-y, to say the least.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tray Chic

Yet one more thing to do with a picture frame.

Find a large-ish frame. Spray paint it the color of your choice.

Meanwhile, get a piece of thin wood or hard wood from Lowes or Home Depot. Cut it (or have it cut there) to the size of the back of your frame.

Cover one side of it with pretty papers (or I used fabric), using Mod Podge. Mine's pretty thick (5 coats).

Screw the decorated wood onto the back of the frame, pretty side up.
You can be done at this point but if you want legs, keep on going.
You can buy small table legs from Lowes or Home Depot too. Paint them.
I took the giant screws out of the back since they were much too big to use for this project.

With a miter saw, I cut mine at a slight angle so the legs slanted out a little when I glued them onto the back of the tray.

Liquid Nails is how I got them to stay on.
Dries fast and holds like...well...nails.

(I'm thinking about painting the frame black instead.)

The End

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pottery Barn Knockoff

Busy week but here's a little goody from Bridget who is gearing up for Halloween.
We all love Pottery Barn, but why buy it when you can make it?
This is Bridget's take on the Halloween Banner from the Kids Thanksgiving issue.

felt squares-for each letter you need 1/2 of a square and 1/4 of another square
scraps (or 1/4 yard) of fabric
tacky craft glue
jute string
stencils (I made letters from my computer using "IMPACT" font/400 size text, print them on card stock, cut them out)

Decide what you're going to say (Halloween, Trick-or-Treat, Boo, Give Thanks, Noel, etc.) and get the colors and amount of felt you will need. Trace letters backwards on "paper" side of wonder-under.

Iron bumpy side of wonder-under to wrong side of fabric, then cut out letters.
On 1/2 pieces of felt, hand or machine stitch 1/2-inch seam; this is to allow the jute string to go through.
Glue 1/4 pieces of felt onto 1/2 pieces of felt. Peel paper off letters, and position one on each felt pieces, with gluey side down. Cover felt and letter with a piece of paper and iron until letter adheres to felt (If you don't put paper between the felt and the iron, the iron melts the felt). Repeat until all letters are done.

Measure out how long you want the string to be. Tie one end in small knot and attach a small safety pin, thread letters through, using safety pin as guide.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chocolate Raspberry Bars

A little sweet and a little tart. Yum!

Chocolate Raspberry Bars
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp milk
1 cup vanilla or white chips, melted
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp shortening

In a bowl, combine the flour and sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Press into an ungreased 9-inch square pan. Bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes or until browned. Spread jam over warm crust. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth. Add vanilla chips; beat until smooth. Spread carefully over jam layers. Cool completely. Chill until set, about 1 hour.
For Glaze, melt chocolate chips and shortening; spread over filling. Chill for 10 minutes. Cut into bars; chill another hour before serving.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Girly Room

My girls share a room. But really it's decorate. I'm sure in a couple of years I'm going to get the boot and the Jonas Brothers posters will take over. Until then, this is what they have to live with.

The picture frames are a Target clearance (formerly dark brown, spray-painted white). The mats were redone with fabric scraps that match some other things in the room. They are hung on a regular old curtain rod with the ribbons threaded through eye screws on the back of the frames.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Here's a pretty picture frame Bridget made for her group of girls at church to save for their future wedding day. She had them write letters to their future husbands too! :)

Here are her instructions for the frame:
'I got a square, wood frame from the dollar store, spray painted it white and hot-glued the florets on (I bought them at a while ago, they are called "swirl florets" and they still carry them).'

It looks just like those frames we spend a small fortune on for wedding gifts!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Double Chocolate Banana Cake

The blonde, blue-eyed beauty of the bunch is Bridget. She hails from California but we've brainwashed her since she married into the family. She's a true East Coaster now...California who?... :)
Not only can she throw down in the kitchen (evidenced here in today's featured recipe), but she can sew like nobody's business. She and Jill and I attempted a craft fair a few years ago but we got rained out shortly after we set up.

We would have made millions too, I know it. Well, Bridget would have...
She has 4 boys and one little Princess who is most often dressed in something made by her mother. Lucky girl, no hand-me-downs for her.
Okay, onto the CHOCOLATE!
Enjoy, courtesy of Bridget...

Double Chocolate Banana Cake
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 large ripe banana
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Beat banana in mixing bowl; add all remaining ingredients. Mix until moistened. Spread in lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Meet Amy

No, it's not a new American Girl Movie...but she is American and she is a girl. She's also a busy, hands on mom of 5. Amy has a knack for scheduling and organizing her large family and sometimes finds time for some creative projects like today's feature. Being only 2 years apart, I know some of her many talents, and believe me, she's way better at stuff like this than she was at learning how to drive... he he...
Amy has a large wall right next to her kitchen table. Here's how she filled the space.

Those are pictures of her 5 kids at various ages doing what else? Eating!

She bought the wood letters at Michaels and used a paintbrush to "paint" a thin layer of really tacky glue on the back of the letters. Then she put masking tape on top of them to hold them there until they dried (ooh, you could even use the vinyl letters that are all the rage now...). She says the hardest part is doing the math involved in making sure that your pictures are evenly spaced on your wall space, and the letters are even trickier to get them centered on the wall also....Well, we took a college math class together and she did struggle a little...ha ha! Just kidding A-frame!

Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

It doesn't get any better than this.

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies
1 box traditional fudge brownie mix
1/4 cup butter flavored Crisco
(you could probably get away with regular Crisco if that's all you have)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat brownie mix, Crisco, cream cheese and egg until well blended. The dough will be sticky. Drop 2 dozen rounded spoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and peanut butter until it forms a ball. With your hands, roll out 24 peanut butter balls. Lightly press a ball into the center of each cookie dough. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool and then top with this topping:

8 oz tub Cool Whip
6 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate

Melt both ingredients in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and melt for additional 30 seconds or until smooth and shiny.
(You can use this topping for lots of things, including ice cream!)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Marilyn & Another Window Idea

As the blog author I get to introduce everybody (bwahaha!)
There are 10 of us so it will take some time.
This time I'll start with Momma Marilyn. I say that because she's the oldest of 4 girls and claims she raised us.
She is biologically the mother of 2 great kids.
This Domestic Diva is getting ready to move into her dream home...although her current home is pretty dreamy...but how much fun will that be to start over with bare walls, bare floors, bare everything? I say very fun.
She's totally up for the task. She's had tons of decorating, crafting, furniture refinishing, sewing, etc. experience. She's a very busy lady so it might be tough to get her ideas posted on here but I'm commissioning her daughter to help me with that.
So look for more fun ideas from Martha Marilyn in the future. Meanwhile, here is another idea for one of those old windows that sit outside those antique shops, begging to be purchased. (Trust me, this is just the tip of the iceberg with this girl.)

Marilyn pressed real flowers between two panes of glass and put it all back together and hung it above her fireplace. Brilliant!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Get ready to get PHAT because this stuff is RICH! ha ha!

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake (From Taste of Home)

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cups creamy peanut butter

3 pkgs (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, divided
6 peanut butter cups, cut into small wedges (or chopped)

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, cookie crumbs, sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 7-9 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. In a microwave safe bowl, heat peanut butter on high for 30 seconds or until softened. Spread over crust to within 1 inch of edges.
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed until combined. Stir in vanilla. Pour 1 cup into a bowl; set aside. Pour remaining filling over peanut butter layer.
In a microwave safe bowl, heat 1/4 cup fudge topping on high for 30 seconds or until thin; fold into reserved cream cheese mixture. Carefully spoon over filling; cut through filling with a knife to swirl.
Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.
Microwave remaining fudge topping for 30 seconds or until warmed; spread over cheesecake. Garnish with chopped peanut butter cups. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Yield 12-14 servings. **Reduced fat or generic brands of peanut butter are not recommended for this recipe.