Red White and Blue JELLO Squares

The summer I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, I had a weird obsession with Jell-O. Yes, I clearly had too much time on my hands as so many would say, between chasing around my one and a half year old, returning back to full time post-graduate student, and the joyful aches and pains of being six, or more, months pregnant. CLEARLY I had too much time on my hands. I began to obsess over fine-tuning the art of layering jello, like a classy 1950’s susie-homemaker. Once I discovered this incredibly simple, yet game changing tweak to the typical boxed jello found at the store, I began to make themed Jigglers for each of my niece and nephews birthday parties. If my sister-in-law read this blog, she would seriously laugh at this post, because I literally made a spider-man face and matching black and red Jigglers for her son.


Prior to that, I made pink and blue for my other niece, along with Rainbow striped for yet another niece that fall. When my daughter’s second birthday rolled around with her super sweet Snow-Bunny theme mentioned in Winter Birthday Blues Brightened, I tried using the Royal Brand jello in the “Frozen” themed colors available at the time. I particularly liked this layered jello, because it had a CLEAR, which was super icy and cool look.

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The other really cool trick I also learned during this summer of layering Jello obsession, was how to make the perfect gelatin white layer, thanks to Recipe Girl, I was able to take her basic formula and expand on it, creating variations to match every party theme possible.

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So today, I am sharing with you her layered Red, White, and Blue Jello, which I absolutely love! It’s so festive and simple to make, and such a crowd pleaser! Once you try this version, you’ll never go back to regular “Jigglers.”

The magic ingredient to this amazing consistency is “Knox” gelatin, which I discovered about 5 years ago while planning for our wedding. I wanted these beautiful jello shots in replace of the schnapps during the bridal dance, and found this Jelly Shot Test Kitchen book, thanks to Pinterest, way back in it’s primal stage. This book was full of beautiful jello cocktails, that also happened to be delicious.

I believe a group of girls came over the Thursday night before my wedding and all sat around while I mixed up batch after batch of light purple and sea foam green tinted concoctions. Just as I was about to finish the last batch, and my friend Kali will vouch for this, I turned around with the final pan in my hand ready for the fridge, but turning just a little too sharply, SHOWERING MY ENTIRE KITCHEN  in Jello goo. What a nightmare that was to clean up. To her ever lasting credit, Kali was the only one who got down to help me scrub up the hot-mess my kitchen had just become. (That was just the beginning of a weekend full catastrophes, but another story for another day)

Returning back to this very simple jello, For ever two boxes of 3 ounce JellO brand, or alternate brand flavored gelatin mix, you would need to add one pouch of Knox gelatin as well.

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Combine those pouches in a glass bowl and add two cups of boiling water to the powder. Pour this layer into a greased 9 x 13 glass dish.

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Now, the other thing I really like about making jello, is my Pyrex Glass Dish with Carrying Case and while I’ve linked you to a newer version, the one I have is a special hand-me-down.

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This specific dish was my great aunt’s and when she passed, my Mom had it for a few years. Once my husband and I got our first home, my Mom gave it to me. I love that every time I open the case, I see her handwriting, neat, and organized on the label. *Disclaimer, this is no longer a valid address or phone number (pre-9/11).*

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My aunt would always bring a cold “salad” for holiday meals, typically consisting of a mousey, gelatin dessert. As a kid, I never questioned an adult giving me dessert as salad, because who would?! The lemon one was my favorite, perhaps I’ll share that with you down the road.

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On a more practical note, I still love the warm core and cool core options for traveling during picnic season. I use the cool one any time I take a gelatin dessert to an event and it works great!

After completing your first layer of red, place in the fridge for at LEAST 30 minutes. It’s super important that you wait the appropriate time between layers or they mix together and you lose that pretty, smooth layered look.

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Once the red layer has been placed in the fridge, begin working on the white layer, starting by emptying a can of sweetened condensed milk into a bowl. Add one cup of boiling water. In a separate bowl sprinkle two pouches of gelatin over 1/2 cup ICE COLD water, letting stand for 5 minutes. Then add the other 1/2 cup of boiling water to dissolve the gelatin, before adding to the milk mixture.

*When I made this for our picnic this year, I made a mistake and placed a cup of ice cold water in a bowl, sprinkling my two pouches over this, instead of the original instructions. I simply let it stand a minute or two, and then mixed into the hot milk mixture. The gelatin dissolved just fine, luckily!

Remove the chilled red layer is solid, waiting until your white creamy layer is room temperature. I have made the mistake of pouring hot mixture on to the solidified gelatin, ultimately turning my white layer pink.

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Pour in your white mixture and let chill at least thirty minutes.

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Once it’s back in the fridge, repeat the directions from the red layer, with blue gelatin and Knox.

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I usually have to do some strategic balancing act in our fridge, since we are usually having this for a picnic, and our fridge is slightly un level, which can leave your layers looking something like that crafty 1990’s sand art in a bottle, before accidentally shaking it up on the way home. I swear I could never get enough sand in those darn things to keep them set…

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Again, when adding your final layer, be sure to not rush and pour in your gelatin before gets to room temperature. Patience is key, which reinforces the fact that it truly is a miracle that I am ever capable of completing this dish.


Once all is said and done, you have a splendid looking and deliciously tasting teeny work of art! Try out some cookie cutters for fun shapes!

Click HERE for original recipe.

Happy Picnic Season ūüôā

Cheers!

  • Whitney

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GLUTEN FREE | Knock off Ice Cream Cake

As promised, I must deliver on this ridiculously simple and amazingly delicious gluten free version of, you guessed it, Dairy Queen’s infamous Ice Cream Cakes. I made this in 2016 for Mother’s Day, as mentioned in my post¬†10 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Mother‚Äôs Day Brunch, and chose this because it’s a dessert that must be made the night before, leaving more free time the day of. This weekend kick starts picnic season, and surprising everyone at your picnic with this cool and pretty dessert, would definitely wow a crowd.

This dessert went over so well with my in-laws and parents on Mother’s Day last year, that I believe they had all wished I would repeat for Father’s Day. I seriously regretted not repeating the recipe this year for Mother’s Day. But lucky for you gluten-free fanatics, my girls and I whipped one together just for fun this week!

Now, I was recreating this from memory, and quickly ran to the store grabbing the essentials. There are two major differences between the one I photographed, and the one I made last year. The first major difference is the one in the photographs only has one half gallon of vanilla ice cream; whereas the exact Dairy Queen Replica cake requires one full gallon of vanilla ice cream. The second difference is the quantity of¬†whipped topping used to “ice” your cake. So be prepared for the one following the recipe below to be a bit taller than the one picture here.

To make this cake you will need a spring form pan, preferably a 9-inch. I believe mine was a 10-inch, which made a wider and flatter cake. (but just as delicious!)

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You will need to line the bottom and sides with wax paper. Remove the bottom piece of your pan and trace it on to a piece of waxed paper.

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Next line the edges of your pan with waxed paper. Tape it together if you are going for a cake that’s taller than the sides of your pan.

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I like to make this after getting home from the grocery store. Ice cream seems to naturally soften while shopping, loading, and unloading groceries. By the time everything is put away the ice cream is the perfect consistency to spread evenly.

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If you have a half gallon of chocolate, you will need a full gallon of vanilla. Begin by evenly spreading the chocolate in the bottom of the pan. Now, this is not an ad for ice cream brands, but if I’m being totally honest, Great Value brand ice cream has to be my favorite carton ice cream on the market right now. It’s so rich!

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Next, take a container of gluten free chocolate cookies with vanilla filling (aka, Gluten Free Oreo alternatives) and let out all that aggression from the week with a few good swift whacks of a rolling pin.

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Crumbling these Oreos evenly over your chocolate ice cream will create that delicious crunchy mystery layer hidden inside the Dairy Queen cakes. Place in the freezer at least 30 minutes.

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Next, soften two jars of hot fudge just until pliable. Drop the fudge on to the semi-frozen layer of ice-cream and cookie crumbs, and gently spread until evenly coated. If you are quick handed go ahead and spread the softened vanilla ice cream on to the fudge. If you are not comfortable with this, place the cake back in the freezer an additional 30 minutes until the fudge solidifies again.

This is where my pictures are not a proper replica of the recipe provided below. I only used a half gallon, but strongly recommend using a full gallon to create your cake.

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Place back into the freezer for a solid 30 minutes to an hour. Once the cake is nice a solid, remove spring-form sides and wax lining.

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Don’t worry if your cake isn’t perfectly smooth or even. A swift hand and lovely thick whipped topping “icing” will smooth out all of those bumps and cracks. You literally just open a package of cool whip and begin to “ice your cake, starting by evening out the top of your ice cream.

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Once you have a nice even layer of cool whip on the cake, place the cake back in to the freezer for at least two hours or overnight. If you want to get really fancy, consider this your “Crumb layer, and use a second container of cool whip at room temperature to put a smoother layer over the entire thing, even adding a little piping on the edge of the cake to get that true “DQ” feel.

Remove the cake from the freezer just before serving and top with sprinkles, pipe on some decorative cool whip or take my approach and line that bad boy with more cookies! Chop your gluten free cookies in half and gently press them into the frozen dessert.

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Ok, some little fingers found their way into this pile of cookies before ever decorating the final product. And trust me, I got one official stamp of approval on the end product from a 3 year old semi-pro dessert sampler.

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And with a few simple steps, zero cooking, a little free time, and a whole lotta ice cream carton licking, you can¬†FINALLY have a gluten-free ice cream cake that will most certainly”Take the cake” to any store-bought ice cream cake around. Happy Summer!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

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Gluten Free DQ Knock Off Ice Cream Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon chocolate ice cream
  • 1 gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 1 jar hot fudge
  • 1 container gluten free chocolate cookies with vanilla cream (plus additional for topping)
  • 2 8 oz containers Cool Whip
  • OPTIONAL
  • sprinkles, cherries, additional cookies to decorate

Directions

  1. Line a 9-inch spring form pan with wax paper. Spread softened half gallon of chocolate ice cream in bottom of pan.
  2. Crush chocolate cookies and sprinkle over ice cream. Drizzle hot fudge sauce (slightly warm) over cookies. Place in freezer 30 minutes or until solid.
  3. Spread softened gallon of vanilla ice cream over top. Free again until firm.(30 minutes to 1 hour)
  4. Remove from freezer. Ice with cool whip. Decorate with optional toppings, return to freezer at least 2 hours or over night. Serve immediately after pulling from freezer.

10 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Mother’s Day Brunch

When you are the Mom of the house, more often than not, you are the cook, the clean-up crew, and the planner. This may not fit for everyone but it certainly is how our life seems to go. In the summer my husband really steps up to the plate at dinner time by proudly using his Weber Summit grill that was a joint Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift about three years ago. You might wonder, how a grill for my husband is a gift for me as well? Or perhaps, why would you get such a large or fairly expensive grill?¬†Let me tell you, when your husband¬†willingly¬†cooks at least half of the dinners through summer, and takes meticulous care of EVERYTHING he owns, it is a gift. It is the BEST gift. He is a good cook too. Each year he likes to get the updated version of the Weber New Real Grilling Cookbook, and I strongly recommend picking up this book of recipe inspiration! I can’t make a recipe without a good picture to go with it, and this one is full of amazing pictures and simple recipes.

But getting back to the issue at hand: Mother’s Day. If you are the planner and cook in your house, you will want to plan ahead for some simple, and effective ideas that will make your Mother’s Day Brunch enjoyable for all!

Each year we have both my parents and my husband’s over for a Brunch/Lunch and last year, I think we might have knocked it out of the park. Between the food, the timing, and the beautiful day, I’d say everyone left full, relaxed, and pampered.

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  1. Host Early and Keep it Small

We typically have our Moms come around 11 or 12 with plans to eat about an hour after the parents arrive. This timing is so nice because it gives plenty of time to spend the morning with my girls but still be ready before the guests arrive. We don’t extend out beyond the parents (my husband has 3 siblings who all have families themselves, so we limit just to the parents to keep it special for the Moms).

With my in-laws, they have 4 children, so by providing a nice brunch/lunch they still have plenty of time to enjoy the day, and visit their other children. My sister lives out of town, so my parents are pretty flexible to hang out at any point.

2. Flowers are a thoughtful Addition

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Last year, I had two matching floral arrangements picked out and scheduled to deliver ahead of time, (and no, my husband did NOT plan ahead and whipped last second flowers out for me… such a man) that doubled as beautiful centerpieces and take-home gifts for our mothers. I love peonies, and took in an inspiration picture to a local florist, who did an amazing job matching the arrangement, but keeping to my specific price range. The flowers had just begun to open, so they lasted for about two weeks after the brunch.

3. Choose Foods that can be Prepared in Advance

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I knew I would not want to spend my Mother’s Day preparing food all afternoon. My husband was more than happy to grill, so we chose meat options that allowed him to do just that. I also cut up fruit and prepared the dip the night before, along with the blueberry muffins. Tomato Salad was made first thing in the morning, because it’s delicious after it has time to sit, but too long in the fridge and the tomatoes get weird. My menu last year included:

  • Marinated Chicken, ready to grill
  • Sausages¬†wrapped in bacon, and stuffed with cheese (we did have men there too, after all – learning curve, do NOT grill over direct heat! They WILL BURN)
  • Lemon Blueberry Muffins¬†(easily converted to gluten free with the use of Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour¬†)
  • Fresh Fruit and Dip
  • Tomato Basil Salad
  • The BEST Ice Cream Cake (recipe to come soon)

4. Bubbly Drinks are a Must

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With the brunch theme, the Perfect Mimosa was a great pairing for the meal. We of course always have beer for any guys, but The Perfect Mimosa is an excellent drink option whenever you have ladies who might not always be inclined to drink. The combination of a champagne of your choosing, (we aren’t super classy so we go for the sweet and cheap kind!) and raspberry or orange sherbet in lieu of juice makes a beautiful and delicious drink!

I did a quick scour of the Mom Blogger’s out there and found a similar recipe on¬†The Cookie Rookie’s¬†Sherbet Mimosas¬†however, I only use the champagne and sherbet, skipping the additional alcohol.

5. Grandmothers need Spoiling Too

While Mother’s Day primarily focuses on the relationship between Mother and Child, the grandchildren can also play a role with sweet little homemade cards or hand-made gifts for the honorary Grandmother, Nanna, or Grammy as well! Nothing melts a grandparents heart quicker than a cute little craft project.

Love Bugs and Postcards has an AMAZING compilation of craft ideas in their post: 12 Fabulous and Fun Mother’s Day Crafts¬†no point in re-inventing the wheel here!

6. Dessert is ESSENTIAL

I have an incredibly HUGE sweet tooth. Period. A Mother’s Day, or frankly any holiday, is not a celebration without dessert. So here is a list of possible pre-made dessert ideas to serve at your Mother’s Day Party:

7.¬†Decor –¬†Less is More (Hey, it’s your day too!)

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Whenever hosting a Mother’s Day event, and being a mother yourself, many times we get so swept up in planning that “our day” becomes a day of work. So keep it simple. Use a table runner that’s fairly neutral, some miscellaneous vases, a tray, or even floral arrangements that double as both a gift AND a centerpiece! We have a trifle bowl full of apples on a wooden tray sitting on our kitchen every day. It’s simple but pretty and would be an excellent centerpiece for an event like this. Even little dishes of candy can be included into a tablescape.

8. Put Thought into the Gift 

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I have spent many hours researching the top items available on the market this year, and have developed a fairly comprehensive list of suggestions, including some previous Mother’s Day gifts I have received. Last year, I found some unique and personalized options through Etsy shops that were tailored specifically to my Mom and Mother-in-laws tastes.

If you are looking for some suggestions for the Mother in your life check out my Complete Mother’s Day 2017 Gift Guide

9.¬†Don’t Over-Plan

Keeping to simple foods, drinks, and sweet little gifts is more than enough. Don’t get crazy with decorations, over-the-top cleaning. We are all Moms! We get it! Your Mom will not be inspecting the windows for toddler finger smudges, nor will they be looking for hints of dust on your shelves. Remember this is YOUR weekend, so enjoy it alongside the Mom role models in your life!

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10. Outdoor Seating

If the weather permits, outdoor seating areas are always a nice introduction to a season of picnics and summer weather. But keep in mind, Mother’s Day falls DEAD CENTER in early allergy season. If you are planning to do outdoor seating keep in mind the following issues:

  • Wind – Use Table Cloth Clamps¬†to secure your outdoor tablescape, and consider using heavier plates as Melamine is easily scooped up with a friendly breeze.
  • Allergies – if you are serving anyone with significant allergies, it doesn’t hurt to check your pollen count on any smart phone weather app.
  • Temperature – Outdoor seating is great in theory, but lets face it, Mother Nature has a mind of her own. While you may the most beautiful garden seating for a Mother’s Day brunch, random 50 degree temperatures do not accommodate most appetites, and neither do 80 degree temperatures in full blown sunshine. We try to host our events on the massive covered porch behind out house, but there are even times when the weather just doesn’t cooperate for our outdoor living space either.
  • Alternate Location – If you are hosting at your house, it is always good to have an alternate option prepared even if it’s just inside at your kitchen table, just in case Mother Nature decides to pull a fast one on you.

 

So there you have it! 10 simple tips to help you host a fabulous event, while still enjoying your own Mother’s Day! May you all be pampered and appreciated this Mother’s Day.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

Gluten Free Spring Cake

So one afternoon, while I was debating the final contestants for my blog’s Logo and writing Hello Logo, Welcome Home¬†my oldest daughter was camped out beside me with her cute little Leap Frog Pink Laptop, plugging away at her work as well.

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As usual, I was multi-tasking and distracting myself on Pinterest when my oldest piped up saying, “Mommy! Wait! I want to make that cake right there!” Immediately pointing to a boxed cake idea utilizing food coloring and colorful layers on a bundt cake. After carefully inspecting the recipe, I said to her we would try it out.

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This was the original picture from Tablespoon my daughter saw online.

The recipe required a white boxed cake mix which in the world of gluten free, does not exist.

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Knowing that a yellow cake mix with food coloring would most likely look more orange than pink, I needed to come up with a white cake recipe. I continued to scour the internet for another hour or so until I had enough background information to develop a fairly simple gluten free white cake recipe.

So my daughters and I went to work, making a homemade Gluten Free White Cake recipe.

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I always start by measuring my dry ingredients and combining them first in a lovely spouted bowl. This cake was made with Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour which is simple, and cup for cup convertible to non gluten free recipes.

Since this recipe has melted butter, I do this next so it has a chance to briefly cool. I’m pretty sure I’m going to experiment with melted butter in boxed mixes, because this cake turned out SO. GREAT!

Next, I place my mixer assistants on the counter and start beating the eggs and sugar.

After everyone is in place, I add in the butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and almond extract. Once everything is mixed really well, begin adding in the flour one cup at a time, and stop as soon as the cake mixture is just combined.

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This is my favorite cake batter to lick. And both of my girls would agree with me on this. (yes… my children lick the beaters when I bake. So do I, and we are all just fine…)

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As I was watching the cake lighten up in color with every scoop of Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour, I was getting pretty excited! It was actually going to be a WHITE CAKE. But then we would be adding color to it, meaning that a true white cake really needed to be added to our future to-bake list.
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Look how delicious, fluffy and light this cake batter ended up! I hated to even color it! But needless to say, my daughter was anxiously waiting to add the color. So we divided the batter evenly among 3 bowls.

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I then began to color each section of batter to match the original cake inspiration, following through with a yellow, purple, and of course, pink portion.

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After finishing this cake, looking back, I would definitely pursue a deeper shade of purple cake, because while it was visible in the final product it would have been a little cooler looking with a deeper shade.

Now comes the fun part: handing three bowls of batter to a 3 year old and letting her go to town layering the colors in the pan. She loved this part; however, decided part way through it would have been better to just make a pink cake. Of course.

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Look at her, she’s like a little professional! The final cake looked something like this prior to baking:

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How pretty and fun is this cake? And once we finished baking it, about 40 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees, it looked even prettier!

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Now, here is where I went wrong. I did not let my cake cool long enough before attempting to remove it from the pan. So my cake cracked, but evenly so I was able to piece it right back together.

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You almost can’t even see the crack! Once the cake has COMPLETELY cooled, divide up your icing into 3 separate bowls.

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Again, you could make this from scratch, but when a classic white icing is already gluten free, and you plan to drizzle it, why not just use it from the can? It’s easily thinned by adding some milk to get the glazing effect you are looking for.

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I added my colors and found the shades I was looking for before attempting to thin the icing and it worked out really well this way.

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Once your icing is slightly runny, your daughter is wired on sugar, and the cake is cooled, let her go to town flinging icing on to a cake. It might be slightly messy, but she had so much fun decorating this cake!

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The other thing I noticed was the original did not use a ton of icing. In our household, it’s a crime to under-ice a cake. Needless to say, this cake was drenched in frosting, and every bit of the final product was delicious!

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Just one handful of colored sugar sprinkles and we were finished!

The colors swirled pretty well, all things considered, but I think layering the colors in to the pan one at a time and then using a knife to swirl them would work out the best to achieve the true swirl cake effect.

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Well there you have it! One fairly simple Gluten Free White Cake Recipe, and another simple modification to make my daughter’s Gluten Free Spring Cake.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

Gluten Free White Cake

  • Servings: 12 servings
  • Print

A perfectly white and moist cake, with a delicious flavor that will fool even the keenest of taste buds.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  1. Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt butter and let cool slightly.
  3. In a stand mixer beat the eggs and sugar together. Add in the butter, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extract. Continue to mix at medium speed until combined.
  4. Add in the dry mixture one cup at a time until ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Pour into 2 greased  8 or 9 inch baking pans and bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (For a bundt cake, bake for 35-40 minutes)
  6. Let the cakes cool at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a wire rack to continue to cool completely.

Gluten Free Colorful Spring Cake

  • Servings: 12 servings
  • Print

A fun twist on a classic gluten free white cake that is sure to wow a crowd or add a cheerful touch to a spring gathering.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 can white icing
  • 3-6 Tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt butter and let cool slightly.
  3. In a stand mixer beat the eggs and sugar together. Add in the butter, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extract. Continue to mix at medium speed until combined.
  4. Add in the dry mixture one cup at a time until ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Separate cake mixture into three even portions. Add food coloring to each to make a yellow, pink (use red) and purple (use red and slightly more blue) colored batter.
  6. Rotating between colors, pour layers of each color into a greased bundt pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  7. Let the cake cool at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan and transferring to a wire rack to continue to cool completely.
  8. Using canned icing separate into 3 even portions, repeating the same food coloring portions as the cake batter. Thin each bowl out with 1-2 tablespoons of milk, until a glaze consistency has been achieved.
  9. Drizzle icing over cake alternating colors. Let the icing set completely before serving.

 

 

Last Minute Easter Treats

So it’s the night before your child’s Easter party and you are in a panic. Why? Because you just realized you do not have half the items to create the “bunny munch” or the Twinkie Race Cars” that are blowing up Pinterest this year. However, you have done a little easter shopping, low and behold, you have PEEPS.

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Peeps generally stir extreme love or extreme hate in fellow Easter snackers. For me, it’s in the extreme love category, and both my girls will agree with this side of the argument. I’m pretty sure I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love a marshmallow. After some minor research, I discovered Peeps are gluten-free. Interestingly, the Lavender peeps are DAIRY FREE as well.

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Seems a little strange that one specific color is dairy free while the others are not. The bunny shapes are not always listed DAIRY FREE either. Read your packaging.

On the official PEEPS & COMPANY website, you can shop by Gluten Free category. I found countless options available. I had a little more trouble finding dairy free specific listings. Anyways, getting off my rant and returning to a simple last minute Easter treat to please a crowd, “Treats for your Peeps!”

I love making printable tags for gifts, holiday events, treats, teaching materials, you name it. I don’t think I’ve ever met a teacher who didn’t love making or receiving a great free-printable.

I whipped these tags up last night for my daughters Easter party at the sitter, and couldn’t help but share with anyone who might need a last minute treat idea!

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It was such a fun, colorful, and simple treat to make! I used a couple packages of Peeps, some bakers twine, treat bags, and the tags that I printed. I kept the treat small, placing 3 little peeps in each treat bag. I also did not have treat bags in stock so I simply cut the end off of a plastic sandwich baggie. It was the perfect size!

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Start by sectioning your peeps in to 3 or 4 peep sections, depending on the size of your treat bags, and place them in each treat bag. Using just a small piece of bakers twine, Tie off the open end, leaving enough string to attach your tag.

img_7939.jpg¬†I didn’t have a hole punch handy so my scissors had to work. Once the tag was attached you couldn’t even tell the difference!

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The girls go to a smaller child care so I only had to make a few, but enjoy sending extras for the “big kids” at the sitter’s. I personalized the girls tags; however, have provided a simple generic tag anyone can download and use!

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So simple but so cute! Hopefully this tag can help out an always multi-tasking mother this holiday!

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Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

(Click Below for the Printable Tags)

Easter Tags

The BEST Gluten Free (And Dairy Free) Sugar Cookie

Well this is it. THE. MOTHER. OF. ALL. MOTHER. The official: Gluten Free Sugar Cookie recipe. I’ve been speaking about my Mother-in-law’s sugar cookies for months now. She makes, no joke, the softest and by far the most delicious, sugar cookie recipe I’ve ever tasted. The recipe is very easy to make as well; however, I am not giving you her recipe.


I am giving you my modified, and gluten-free specific recipe. This recipe can be made dairy free by substituting the buttermilk with an “acidic milk substitute.” See the conversion graphic below from buzzle.com. (Thank you Pinterest!) I have made these cookies using regular milk and adding vinegar to it, whenever I get home and realize I forgot to purchase buttermilk. It doesn’t really affect the end product.

6047d6a047601fe9b277c22c14d75e5eThis is the one hot ticket item that every Bargerstock grandchild looks for at every holiday, from Christmas, to Easter, birthdays and even one time my mother-in-law and I decorated 4th of July cookies together (lord help me that she doesn’t still have pictures of those cookies…!)  They were a centerpiece at each one of our weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, and I have carried on her tradition of sugar cookies for each of my children’s birthday parties. She even attempted gluten free cookies once for me. Not being used to gluten free baking, I’m pretty sure she hated it. Having begun to fine tune the craft of gluten free baking I am beginning to find the “fixes” for the original recipe to create the updated Gluten Free version of her cookies.

The one specific detail that my mother-in-law always includes in her cookies is the very era-specific “Star-tipped” decorating that takes you right back to 90’s childhood when it was customary to buy old school style sheet cakes covered in star-tipped icing. More recently this has been replaced with a slightly more intricate, and less carpal-tunnel-causing method of cake and cookie decorating that look more like works of art than food.

I have created this cookies in a variety of ways, from the original star tipped style, to the flooded royal icing, and even to a combination of both, layering icing on top of hardened icing.

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Here you can see the classic start tipped icing from my post, Winter Birthday Blues Brightened, where we held a “Snow Bunny” themed birthday party for our oldest when she turned two.

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These cookies were my first attempt at “flooding” and layering of icing, (pardon the incredibly crooked lines… it was my first attempt!) which didn’t turn out too bad, the pearlescent dust really helped to cover up some of my unsteady hand errors. I made these for my youngest daughter’s Bohemian 1st Birthday. I also really enjoyed the “toothpick” effect of pulling the icing in the feathers. I will post a follow up with suggested decorating do’s and don’ts that I have learned through trial and error.

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These were from my second attempt at “flooding” icing. My niece was turning two last fall, and I had recently finish making the teepee and feather cookies, and really started to get obsessed with decorating. Plus, I found the jackpot royal icing recipe, which I will also share with you. This round I was able to get a better handle on lining and flooding.

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These are from the same round of cookie baking. The chef and her family were Disney bound in the near future, so in my cookie-obsessed mind, I decided I should make some Disney themed cookies to send in a care package along with each of their birthday gifts. I also sent Cinderella’s Castle; however, they were incredibly ugly so I didn’t even bother to photograph them.

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How can you not love a  flamingo tucked into a 3? Best accidental design ever! (I secretly forgot to purchase a flamingo cookie cutter… whoopsies!) fullsizerender-2.jpg

This last series of cookies is from my oldest daughter’s most recent birthday. We had a Flock on Over and Let’s Flamingle theme.

I had WAY too much fun with this theme and returned back to the classic star tipped icing style. It just seemed to fit so well with the pineapples scattered throughout the theme.

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And of course, the subject of today’s post: Spring themed sugar cookies.

So you can see, my Mother-in-law’s cookies will forever hold a precious place in our home, whether it’s the original recipe she follows or one modified to meet my family’s needs, these cookies are a tradition that WILL be passed on to my daughters.

To begin the recipe you will need to crazy kids with jammies having a bad hair day:

Just kidding, in a separate bowl combine your Pamela’s Artisan Blend flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set your oven to 350 degrees.

In your stand mixer, cream your Crisco (the magic ingredient to this entire recipe) eggs and sugar. I beat this on high speed until it’s nice and fluffy.

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Next, add your vanilla, almond extract, and then add in your buttermilk, (or dairy-free substitute following the conversion table).

6047d6a047601fe9b277c22c14d75e5eIt’s very important not to panic when your mixture starts to look like it’s curdled on you. It tends to get a little gross looking at this point, but I promise you, it will turn out amazing in the end.

The only way I can guarantee that your recipe will turn out with the quality consistency of a soft sturdy sugar cookie is if you follow this recipe exactly and use Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour. It is a perfect CUP FOR CUP replacement whenever following a recipe you may have had prior to going gluten free. For this recipe you will need 4 1/4 cups of flour (previously mixed with your baking soda, baking powder, and salt)

Begin by adding the flour in 1/2 cup increments at a time, stirring on medium-low speed. Continue to stir and add flour until just combined.

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Once your flour is mixed, turn off your stand mixer and give it one last good mix with a wide spatula, being sure to scrape the sides well and incorporate all the flour. The batter will be fairly soft. Place the entire mixing bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flour to stiffen up just slightly.

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Once your batter has chilled, it will still have a light, almost velvety feel to it. Time for the fun! By this point in baking, my youngest daughter has typically headed to bed for a morning nap, leaving my oldest and I to get down to business rolling and cutting out cookies.

I have to pause for a minute, because when we baked these cookies a month or so ago, it almost took my breath away looking through the photographs afterwards at how grown up she is becoming. She is such a kind child and loves to help, particularly in the kitchen that I can’t help almost tearing up writing about our afternoon of baking cookies together.

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Before baking, she and I have a routine. First, we wipe down the entire kitchen table, because lets face it, crust kids will be crusty kids… Next, we set up our Stackable Cooling Racks (enter Pampered Chef sales pitch), get out our pre-cut baking sheets, (GENIOUS invention), set out the container of flour, and cookie sheets.

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Finally, choose our cookie cutters. My daughter loves picking out the cookie cutters, although I need to find a better organizational system for storing baking supplies in the near future.

Our set up looks something like this:

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When preparing to roll your cookies, it’s important to remember some specific gluten free practices:

  • Only bake gluten free
  • If you are baking with regular flour wait until AFTER you have finished AND stored the gluten free product
  • Keep separate rolling pins for use with Gluten Free flours ONLY.

Flour your surface with a nice even layer, and flour your assistance surface to match.

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I like to work in small portions and I only re-roll my dough one time. If you work this dough too much, it becomes stiff and hard, losing the soft, fresh-baked feel these cookies should have. Trust me, I have made this mistake before. (Thanksgiving 2016 – ask any of my in-laws)

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Pat the top of your dough down with a little additional flour and begin to work it gently with the rolling pin.

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Melissa and Doug have a darling baking set that actually works for your little assistants. We need to get a second rolling pin soon for my littlest assistant.

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I like to leave my dough about 1/4 of an inch thick when I’ve finished rolling. When you begin to use cookie cutters, I strongly recommend keeping a metal spatula nearby to transfer cookies smoothly to the prepared baking sheets.

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Keeping in mind that you only want to re-roll your dough one time, be efficient in placing your cookie cutters in order to get as many cookies as possible from the dough.

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One re-roll of the dough will look something like this. Do not go beyond this or your cookies will be hard and crumbly.

Yes, even at 3 years old she pretty much has mastered the craft of baking. I could spend every day doing things like this with her.

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Once your cookie sheets are prepare, place in the oven for 10 – 13 minutes. I specifically chose this arrangement to demonstrate the variation in time. For the smaller cookies start with 10 minutes, and check them. Larger cookies like the butterfly, larger shapes and my daughter’s ridiculously thick “B” would all require a minimum of 12 minutes to bake.

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Once your cookies have finished they should look something like this. Set, but not browned, and puffed, but not sinking anywhere.

Transfer ALL cookies to a cooling rack about a minute after being removed from the oven.

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In the bottom right corner of the cookie picture above, notice how cracked and split those cookies are. These are ones that my daughter rolled, cut, re-rolled, cut again, about 3 times total before deciding they were ready. I included them to emphasize why you only want to re-roll your dough one time with this gluten free product.

If you are only baking on one cookie sheet at a time, consider placing your cookie dough back into the fridge between sheets. We typically have 4 baking sheets going at once, so I do not worry about keeping the dough chilled.

When I do re-use a cookie sheet, I don’t like to be wasteful of my baking sheets, so I place a second round of cookies onto the same pre-cute parchment paper I used on the first round.

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Once your cookies have completely cooled, your cooling racks make excellent “out of reach” resting zones for your cookies as you complete decorations on them.

My Mother-in-law’s cookies use canned classic white icing. And it’s amazing. Don’t judge the use of canned icing until you try it. Trust me, you can make very similar tasting icing from scratch, and I will provide you with some of my favorite homemade recipes for cookie decorating, but why waste the time? Unless you love the Royal Icing, then hold tight as I will be giving you the BEST ROYAL ICING recipe in the very near future.

A little canned icing, food coloring and some star tipping, and you too can celebrate in our family’s tradition of sugar cookie baking! I hope this recipe allows you the family project time my girls and I enjoy while baking together.

Cheers! and Happy Spring!

  • Whitney

 

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The BEST Gluten Free (And Dairy Free) Sugar Cookies

  • Servings: 6 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup Crisco
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk (or Acidic Dairy Substitute)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/4 Cups Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour (plus additional for rolling)

Directions

  1. Set oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and crisco until creamy and slightly fluffy.
  3. Add in vanilla, almond extract, and buttermilk stirring until just combined.
  4. Begin to add flour in 1/2 cup increments until all dry mixture is just combined. Remove bowl from mixer, scarping sides with a large spatula to ensure all ingredients combined well.
  5. Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes until firm.
  6. Flour surface and roll 1/4 of the dough at a time until 1/4 of an inch thick. Using cookie cutters, place cookies on prepared baking sheets.
  7. Only re-roll dough one time. Repeat with remaining 3/4 of dough mixture.
  8. Bake cookie sheets in oven at 350 degrees for 10 – 13 minutes.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

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This week I have really been focusing on gift giving. I know it’s a random time of year to choose gift giving as a topic of interest, but there is something about Spring that is so new and fresh and makes me want to put winter blues behind me and brighten some one’s day. It could also be that my husband and two very good friends have birthdays right at the beginning of Spring, or even the fact that Easter is coming just around the corner. Regardless of whatever inspired this mood of gifting, I wanted to share some of my top Mother’s Day Gift Ideas with my 2017 Mother’s Day Gift Guide.

Mother's Day GIFT GUIDE

Every product includes a description of¬†why you will love it along with an image and link to the product itself. Spoil your mother, or better yet, share this with your husband… and enjoy the spoiling yourself!

  1. Echo Dot

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Ok… so at first I wasn’t sure about the whole talking to a piece of technology in your home; however, there are countless times that I have my hands full with the girls and my husband is off doing whatever… and a little assistance would be nice! Our three year old likes to try to change channels and mess with the dvd player while I am cooking. How nice would it be to say, “Hey Alexa, play¬†Frozen,¬†for the girls.” Or even, “Hey Alexa, what is the next step in this recipe?” How many of you mothers use Pinterest as your recipe book? I do! I am constantly flipping through my phone, leaving flour or who knows what else on the touch screen of my phone while trying to cook.

2. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

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This classic novel, is a picturesque story of the occasional struggles between mother – daughter relationships, and the secrets children sometimes are unaware of when it comes to their parents. Kristin Hannah’s attention to detail and build up in this heart warming novel will leave any mother in tears of joy by the end.

3. Keurig 2.0 K200 Series

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I am a coffee junkie! My husband and I recently purchase a more elaborate coffee system, but inevitably returned to our classic Keurig. It is so simple and convenient! I registered for a Keurig 5 1/2 years ago before we were married and my teaching friends purchased it for us as a shower gift. I still have that system. Keurig products are such great quality products. There is something about feminine colored appliances that really appeal to me. I love this K200 in Oasis. Keurig also offers a K250 in Sandy Pearl

4. Gold Flatware by Threshold

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I confess, I have been eyeing this set of flatware up for months. I am in¬†love¬†with the gold finish and the price! You just can’t beat a good value that looks and feels like quality. If anyone happens to speak with my husband, this would be an excellent addition to our home…!

5. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

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My Kitchen Aid is my appliance better half. My husband bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for my first mother’s day and I use it constantly. It literally fell out of the hatch of my vehicle on a trip to my sisters this past Christmas, bounced across her driveway, and miraculously still works. There was a moment I thought I might be losing my poor baby appliance, but it was a trooper and pulled through! If that doesn’t sales pitch you on the quality of this machine, I don’t know what will. This is the specific model I use and love. I would recommend ordering an additional bowl, for busy baking days. While this item is on the higher end of the shopping budget, it certainly will let the Mother in your life know how much she is appreciated! Besides, who doesn’t love a little extra motivation to have baked good around more often?!

6. Porcelain Classic White Dinnerware Set

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I¬†LOVE¬†my white dish set from Target. These dishes are high quality and affordable. You can purchase them as a set or individual pieces, which I also love. I was treated to a nice set of these clean white dishes last year for Mother’s day. The thing I love the most about a white dish set, is the timeless feel. You can switch in different accent plates, compliment with seasonal colors, and never get sick of it. While patterns and colors may be trendy a times, white plates will never go out of style. When I am investing in an item for my kitchen, I want it to last. These plates are exactly that.

7. Decorative Dry Erase Boards

Help Mom stay organized and stylish at an affordable price at a mere $9.99 with this Marble Dry Erase Board or this Navy Blue and Copper Chalk Board. These are so cute and would look great in an office, kitchen, or entry way! I have the Marble one in my Updated Home Office (post coming soon!).

Mother's Day GIFT GUIDE

8. Classic Wooden Tray

These beautiful, yet simple, wooden trays remind me of a fun Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tradition we had in our home growing up. Each year on Mother’s day my dad and I (or my sister and I when she still lived at home) would get up and make breakfast for our Mom and take her a tray of breakfast in bed. As a kid it felt SO FUN to eat ¬†breakfast in a bed! We did the same on Father’s day serving my Dad breakfast in bed as well. So when I stumbled across this Acacia Bed Tray¬†and Espresso Benito Breakfast Tray¬†I just had to share this fun tradition from my childhood. Even surprising Mom with the tray, breakfast, and some fresh flowers would surely start any Mother’s Day off perfectly.

9. A Shopping Trip!

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Plan a day and prepare in advance by surprising her with a scheduled date, child care arranged, and a budget for a shopping spree. Target now offers both credit cards¬†and debit cards. If my husband ever said to me, “Here honey, I took care of scheduling a sitter for this day, and I have this awesomely full Target gift card (or credit card) spend the day enjoying yourself!” I might just have a heart attack and never even make it to the store. Some of my close friends who have experienced my shopping trips to Target will vouch for how¬†dangerous it would be to send me unsupervised into a Target store with a credit card. But trust me, it has happened…

10.  Affordable Floral Necklace

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When it comes to jewelry you will really need to feel your way through this. I like jewelry that is inexpensive, as the more trendy styles come and go; however, I have my select timeless pieces with more sentimental value. (See the next item if you’re looking in this direction) This necklace lays beautifully when paired with a simple shirt and jeans but can also dress up an outfit for an evening out with the husband. I find myself following the ever spinning circle of “silver” or “gold” falling more heavily on gold at the moment, but like that the crystal look balances out the gold if you’re still unsure about jumping back into gold jewelry.

11. Personalized Jewelry by Unmistakably Mine

  1. As I have mentioned in my previous post, UnmistakablyMine | Personalized and Affordable, this is my ultimate go-to shop on Etsy for personalized and sentimental gifts for those that I love. ¬†You cannot go wrong on Mother’s day when shopping with Lori and her quality products from personalized necklaces for a mother, to bracelets for a friend, and ¬†even the Pet Mommy out there will find items to cherish on her website.

12.  Reversible Tote

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Show me a Mother, and I’ll show you a multi-tasker. This bag is perfect for the Mom on the go. It’s inexpensive and REVERSIBLE! Plus if you click the link above, it comes in 8 color options. I have one in the black and tan reversible option, prior to this little gem of a pattern being released. I love the spring feel this pattern has, and the strength of the bag has my stamp of approval. I’ve carried multiple laptops in mine at once, along with items for my kids.

13. Terracotta Planters – Personalized

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Plants and planters seem to go hand in hand with Mother’s Day. Perhaps it’s that Kindergarten-Style brainwashing we receive when we place our hand prints on Terracotta planters at 6 years old. ¬†Then followed by the act of planting the pot with basil or some other random herb and take our creations home to our mothers, hearts beaming, anxious for her approval. Today I am presenting you with an updated, modern approach to that childhood gift. Hello Smith and Hawkins:

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I love the small Terracotta Planters new, empty, and full of gardening tools or seed packets, or planted with a favorite flowering plant or frequently used herb.

14. Cake Stands – Not Just for Cakes Anymore

From white, to milk glass, to crystal, and even metallic, cake stands are one of the trendiest purchases of late. I have two currently, but would love to continue to grow this collection.  A simple White Cake Stand is always a classic starting point. Galvanized Metal Cake Stands add that rustic charm so heavily inspired by Chip and Joanna Gaines. And the third cute stand listed above is a sweet little Gold Cake Stand with pretty little details that would be a compliment to just about any cake or cupcake presentation.

But cake stands don’t have to remain in the kitchen. I’ve noticed some very cute presentations from jewelry trays on a vanity, to accent pieces on a mantle. The possibilities are endless. So get creative!

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Well there you have it. 14 ideas to inspire some unique, yet thoughtful gifts for the mother in your life. Celebrate her and all that she does for her family. If you are the mother, just forward this helpful little link on over to your husband and leave the rest up to him!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Recipe Round Up | Cadbury Season!

 

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With St. Patrick’s Day freshly in the rear view mirror, it is only appropriate to move ahead to the upcoming holiday, Easter. I was walking through the isles at the grocery store a few weeks ago after proctoring the SAT exam, and came across my Mom’s¬†favorite Easter treat: Cadbury Minis. A few years ago, I take full credit for successfully hooking my Mother-in-law on to theses little bad boys. So this post is completely for these two and all people who love Cadbury Minis.

Last Easter I was browsing Pinterest for ideas to use during our pre-Easter egg coloring family event I host each year. I randomly stumbled upon a recipe incorporating in Cadbury Minis leading me to a plethora of recipes! I was so shocked  and thrilled that I now have a Pinterest board dedicated to these recipes just for fun: Cadbury Mini-speration with additional recipes and ideas.

So here it is: 15 cute Cadbury Recipes to spark a little Spring Fever in us all.

  1. Bunny Chow

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I mean, like the name isn’t enough to sell you?? I just love this idea! And what a simple twist!

2. Mini Eggs Cheesecake Dip

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If you are looking for a simple recipe to add to any potluck or family gathering, this one is sure to please a crowd! Everyone loves the dessert styled dips. And Cheesecake? Well that just seals the deal!

3. Easter egg Pretzel Chocolate Swirl Bark

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I love bark recipes, but really need to work on my chocolate swirl patterns. Bark recipes make the best last minute gift ideas. Salty and Sweet, covers all bases and the festive colors are so pretty!

4. Coconut Macaroon Nests

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These delicate little treats are almost too cute to eat! Being a sweets lover, I couldn’t resist these and already have them scheduled mentally for Easter dinner at my parents!

5. Easter Nest Sugar Cookies

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Now, I can guarantee you I will see sugar cookies that look exactly like this at my mother-in-laws this year! Why? Because her sugar cookies are delicious, she decorates in this star tipped style, and she¬†loves Cadbury Eggs! And who wouldn’t when you could make these sweet little nests with just a couple quick tweaks to convert it to a gluten free recipe?

Everyone in the family looks forward to her sugar cookies. She even made me gluten free ones one time, for my baby shower. They were sweet little pink and yellow star-tipped owls. I’m pretty sure she hated working with the gluten free flour and would agree there is a learning curve to get the feel of it, but trust me when I say, it’s an easy conversion!

 

6. White Chocolate Easter Egg Cupcakes

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I love these cupcakes! They are so sweet and light. But I think the best part is the egg carton presentation! It’s so cute! These are on my to-do list for a school party coming up in a few weeks!

7. Cadbury Chocolate Thumbprints

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I. LOVE. THUMBPRINTS. They are so simple and delicious! I also love six sisters’ stuff¬†blog, and have lost count of the recipes I use from these lovely ladies!

8. Mini Egg Fudge

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Fudge should be a necessary staple at all holiday events. This one in particular makes me think of when I was young and my Mom and Aunts would go to Smicksburg, a local Amish village and buy all kinds of crazy fudge the day after Thanksgiving. We kids would wait for them to get home and dive into the pounds of fudge we knew would be hidden in those bags. I love when new recipes arouse a sense of nostalgia when viewed for the first time. It makes a new taste so personal right from the start.

9. Cadbury Mini Egg Blondies

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I feel safe to assume I will see this recipe in my Mom’s kitchen at some point in the next 4 weeks until the holiday. Blondies? YES PLEASE.

10. Easter Egg Layer Cake

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My next big project I want to tackle and master is cake decorating. I made a miserable attempt at my oldest daughter’s birthday and really need to recover my reputation with a pretty cake. Perhaps this simple recipe might help!

11. Peanut Butter Cadbury Cookies

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Chocolate-Peanut Butter, enough said!!

12. Cadbury Mini Egg Candy Bark

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These are so cute! I know I have already mentioned bark, but this one is so light and sweet looking, how could you NOT want to try and make it? I might have to improve my melting skills and bring this pretty little treat to life!

13. Cadbury Brownies

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Brownies are like a blank canvas, you can add anything to them to create unique and flavorful treats! And with the creation of some of the most delicious boxed gluten-free brownie mixes out there like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Pamela’s, and my sister’s personal favorite: King Arthur

14. Milkshake Recipe

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Alright, this recipe came from¬†The Food Network so of course it’s beautiful, b I love the idea of a pretty milk shake! We just gave our youngest her first milkshake recently, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, she loved it!

15. Chocolate and Orange Mini Egg Cheesecake

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This particular recipe I posted with my Mom in mind. I always think of her when I hear the Orange and Chocolate combination thrown around. It’s unusual but works so well!

So there you have it! Does this post make you want to run out and grab the first bag of shiny plastic grass and get your spring vibes on?? I’m pretty sure I’ll be binging in the Easter sections this upcoming weekend.

Happy Spring everyone!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

St. Patrick’s Day Craft Ideas

Before I ever had children, I was obsessed with holiday crafting. A few girlfriends and I have made several feeble attempts to pull together a “Pinterest Club” or “Craft Club” as my mother used to call it. We usually get one excellent day in, with the plans to follow up a month later at someone else’s house, failing miserably on the follow-through. Once we all began to have children, those craft nights turned into food and drink and laughter nights, usually having at most, one member follow through with a craft. Yes, those children will do that do you. They wipe away all excessive motivation to complete a project when surrounded by your best girls and some excellent food and drink.

For those of you who still have that follow-through and motivation, I have rounded up some of my favorite online seasonal ideas for this dreary March that just seems to be having an identity crisis, alternating from Lamb to Lion and then back to Lamb.

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I have included 5 projects: one for each day between now and St. Patrick’s Day along with the link to the original post including instructions for completion. Perhaps this will inspire a St. Patrick’s day girl’s night for you to pull together a few girls and have a spontaneous creative Friday night. Or, if you are more like my girls and I, enjoy this Friday as a food and laughter filled evening, sharing the trials and tribulations of being a wife, mother, or employee! This St. Patrick’s Day I will be hosting an impromptu Girls Night In with a former classmate of mine! Kayla Jamison, a new member of the Stella and Dot family, will be introducing us to a collection of jewelry and fashion with a trunk show. You can check out all of her great products HERE. I’m not sure if I’m more excited to see her awesome collection, or just FINALLY get to catch up with her!

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This was the cute little invite I crafted; however, I failed to it out to the majority of the people invited! 
In high school we had several mutual friends, and definitely would have considered each other as friends, but shortly after graduation we each took very different life paths, keeping in touch with our select few friends and losing those common connections. Then that magical shift came. The moment you have a child, particularly if you are the first in a social group to have a child, the social group starts to dissipate. Suddenly those common grounds disappear and you find yourself drawn more to the young parents showing up in your social media news feed, and less to the shenanigans of those weekend events from your kid-less friends. This is when Kayla re-entered my life.

Shortly after our oldest was born I found her appearing more and more often in my social media. Perhaps this was because another classmate of ours, her best friend, was having a baby just a short two months after my oldest was born. And just like that both Kayla and the other classmate became my most common follows. I love watching my classmates children grow up. Particularly the ones who are going through different stages of parenting ahead of me, the ones close to my children’s ages since they will be in school together, and even ones who are miles away, say Florida, because it helps to keep me from feeling disconnected from those close friends. This is, in my opinion, the epitome of Social Media perks.

So bringing this ever-side-tracked mind back into focus the first items I have found for you include some festive decor, some of which I plan to include in my upcoming Girls Night In!

  1. DIY St. Patrick’s Day Garland

St Patricks Day Garland

For those of you unfamiliar with The Land of Nod, the children’s line from Crate and Barrel, they also have a blog: Honest to Nod which is, quite possibly, my absolute favorite creative idea go-to. This post comes from 2014, and reminds me of a little garland project my nieces and I took on that same year for Christmas. We made simple little pom poms out of yarn and strung them up in the girls rooms. I love the variety of three dimensional shapes along with flat glittery shamrocks in this garland. I can honestly say, this would be a cute and reusable decoration easily stored in a tote. If you aren’t big in to cutting out shapes, I would strongly recommend investing in a variety of paper punches, or a Shamrock Paper Punch . I did not purchase specific shapes, rather several sizes of Circles, presenting holiday feelings from the colors of paper I choose to make my garland with. I have the Fiskars Medium and Extra Large circles. You can find the full instructions by clicking on the link to the project above the picture.

2. Paper Shamrock Shapes

Shamrock Shape

This one is more of a cutsie decoration, not the type you save and reuse in your house each year. But I will admit, they are very fun to make! I was inspired to attempt to transform the hallway where my classroom is located after the Family and Consumer Science department decorated the entire wing of the school where their classrooms are located the month before Christmas. It was so festive and beautiful that I ran to Walmart and purchased 4 strands of 300 count white lights to string down our hallway trying to replicate their festivity. My students then went to work designing beautiful three-dimensional blue snowflakes to hang with fishing line from the drop ceiling. The end result was stunning! My classroom assistant began to peruse the internet for seasonal three dimensional shapes to incorporate into the design of the hallway throughout the remaining seasons of the school year, starting first with elegant tiny hearts (one of the leaves of the clovers pictures above). She then stumbled upon a shamrock version of the same shape. Currently, our hallway only has a few of the green shamrocks floating. We just received a random lion of a snow storm after 55 degree weather the day before. Another colleague and I were concerned our snowflakes were jinxing the school so we tore each one down quickly!

This was the best tutorial I could find online to make these cute shapes and would double as a great project to complete with kids on a random Lion of a March day.

3. Potted Clover

Clover

With the world on a Joanna Gaines high, and Magnolia this, Magnolia that, I found that Pretty Handy Girl  (which I must add that I love her profile picture!) has an excellent and simple idea to get into the vibe of March. With Joanna continuing to inspire us with her fresh whites, clean lines, bright greenery and exquisite floral arrangements, this simple little craft idea is just enough to get into those spring vibes only days before Spring officially begins, and spark a light in all of those green thumbed friends out there itching to begin those gardens.

4. Free Printable Banners

Banners

As a teacher, the thing I believe I am going to miss the most about the brick and mortar classroom will be the holiday decorating, or even the unit-specific decorations I have developed over the past five years. Already planning my home office, I’m envisioning some type of re-purposed frame with a chalkboard center, just to still have the feel of school around me as I convert to the digital world. These sweet little banners may work as the perfect seasonal alternative for a home office classroom.

That being said, I do not feel these should be limited to a classroom! They are so cute and would make an excellent food table backdrop, mantle addition, or entryway surprise any any other various creative location that might work for you! Flag banners are my favorite event accent as well. They are so simple but add a whole new level of creativity to any event. Ella Claire has three printable cute options available for you! Click here to go to my Pinterest page to view this item, along with many more options like it!

5. DIY St Patrick’s Day Mason Jars

mason jars

No craft post is ever complete without a mason jar project! And if you happen to be one of those mason jar junkies, I have found the blog for YOU! Ka Styles is seriously an entire blog with gorgeous mason jar ideas! I was stuck scrolling through her posts and ideas for 45 minutes! They are so pretty! And how simple is this?! You pick the color, paint the jar and just like that! You’ve created a beautiful little accent piece for a mantle, a gift for a friend, a vase for those Joanna inspired blooms, or a pencil jar for that home office. Plenty of time to spare to gossip with those gal pals!

While this was a bit wordy, I hope you were able to hop around and find some great projects to work on this week as we wind into the upcoming holiday festivities next weekend!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

Treats on a Tuesday

With the upcoming festively green holiday, I have been searching the internet in attempts to find some fun activities to do with my girls and some cute little treats to send with the girls to the sitter. My mother is 50% Irish, and like all mothers of the 80’s and 90’s this meant dying anything possible in our St. Patrick’s day meal GREEN. We did not eat some lavishly traditional Irish cuisine, nor did we all speak with heavy Irish accents. Nope, just straight up ate all the green foods possible. And I loved it.

Since the invention of Pinterest, I’ve noticed even the less than crafty have stepped up their A-game on crafting. I had to laugh on my way to work today as I listened to the radio personalities going on and on about how no real mom makes the cute crafts on Pinterest. It must be a food stylist, or a professional posing as a stay at home Mom. Reality check Radio. Some of us do exist! We are the epitome of over-doers, those people that everyone seems to feel the need to throw the ever insulting comment,¬†“You have too much time on your hands…” at us every chance they get. I am relieved every time I see a fellow Facebook friend post some ridiculously crafty idea he or she made online. It’s almost a relief to see someone else, like they make it OK to be crafty. Ridiculous thinking, I’m very much aware of that.

So I found a collection of cute little St. Paddy’s day crafts and ¬†treats to share with you over this first week of March. Today I’ll start with a couple easy kid-friendly treats.

  1. Rainbow Cups

rainbow-pot-of-gold

I love this Rainbow and Pot of Gold! It’s so cute! Plus you can find all of these items easily at your local grocery store or on Amazon having them delivered right to your door! I found this one on I Can Teach My Child¬† I love the organized Skittles¬†before layering the candy cups. But the Chocolate Gold Coins layered at the bottom are the kind of candy that takes me back to childhood! Using the simple 5 oz Clear Plastic Cups¬† and then of course topping them off with Mini Marshmallows¬†This treat is naturally gluten free which is always a plus in our house!

Ok… Brace yourself for this next product!

2. Edible Gold Spray

Wilton has an edible Gold Color Mist Spray¬†that can be used to turn your favorite treats into GOLD! So if you need to eat gluten-free cookies in replace of Oreoes, order ¬†Kinnikinnick’s Chocolate Cookies¬†and make your own gold coins for your little cuties! Genius.

edible-gold-spray

I have already ordered 3 of these. My students will be getting gold treats, my sitter’s kids will be… my nieces and nephews will be… perhaps even my parents will!

3. Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats

lucky-charms-treats

With the recent change in Lucky Charms as they transitioned to a Gluten Free product, I have secretly been reliving my childhood in the mornings. It’s still amazing to me how easy it is to access so many gluten free products these days. But with this being a fairly recent change, it’s important to make sure the packaging displays the Gluten Free Emblem

gluten-free-logo-on-lucky-charms

Some stores are still finishing up selling older packages that are not certified gluten free. So shop cautiously.

I really like the recipe for Lucky Charms Treats I found on Brown Eyed Baker  She has a good balance of ooey-gooey in her treats! The girls and I kicked off the month with a batch of these already!

And if all else fails, just buy a big old bag of the Marshmallows! That’s all my girls want to eat anyways!

3. Shamrock Pretzels

The next big ticket treat that seems to be blowing up online is the Shamrock Pretzel! These are so cute and only require two ingredients:

shamrock-pretzels-56e0f5905f9b5854a9f86f65

I prefer Gratify Gluten Free Pretzel products. I also like Glutino Gluten Free Pretzels and I know Snyder offers a Variety Pack along iwith individual purchases.

You can find a great Step-by-Step instructional article on The Spruce.

Again, I cannot stress how much I LOVE my Amazon Pantry boxes. My girls are great shoppers, but lets be realistic. What mother ACTUALLY enjoys taking a one and three year old to the store with her? No one. I feel like shopping at a store without my kids is almost like a mini vacation.

4. Fruity Rainbows

rainbow-fruit

This treat is a unique presentation for a party! You could easily adapt this to make cute little plates for your sweeties at lunch or breakfast, but I just love the fruit with a little chocolate treat at the end! My girls looooove when I sneak in a little chocolate treat to their meals. And what is better than a gold wrapped Rolo candy?! It screams Pot-o-Gold!

5. St. Patrick’s Day Muddy Buddies Treat

Who doesn’t love the good old fashioned Puppy Chow snack? When I think about Puppy Chow, I go back to my mom’s great friend and neighbor popping in to our house infrequently with random treats and baked goods she would come up with. She was¬†Pinterest before there was Pinterest! This was one of my particularly favorite surprises she would bring over as a child. Oh Pammy, I’m drooling over your puppy chow as I type!

st-patricks-day-muddy-buddies-snack-for-kids

This festive little twist on a classic snack follow very similar instructions to the original Puppy Chow snack mix using Gluten Free Rice Chex but adds in a couple slight alterations. Try it out following Glue Sticks and Gumdrops recipe.

I hope these 5 little festive treats help to ring in the St. Paddy’s day mood. After all… it is Fat Tuesday! Sneak one treat in today before starting your Lenten sacrifices off tomorrow!

Cheers to a very Green March!

  • Whitney