30 April 2012

Crazy Sweet Tuesday

Welcome to Crazy Sweet Tuesday, where you do the dishes and I reap the benefits.

Can you believe it's May 1? Um, I'm still catching up from March thankyouverymuch. How is school out in a month??? Then I will have a second grader???? *Sigh*

Okay, some business to attend too. Time to choose a winner from last weeks party! The winner of the apron and dish towel set is...

Erin from Making Memories ... One Fun Thing After Another! Congratulations Erin! Shoot me an email with your info and I'll get your prize out to you. :)

And now...onto the features from last week...

Nutella Chunk Cookies by the Desperate Chefwife. People. She made her own Nutella chunks. Genius!

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle by LouLou Sucre. Oh, sorry. I *may* have drooled on you a little.

Hot Chocolate Dippers by Jellyfish Jelly. These are the cutest things I've ever seen. And they're not limited to Teddy Grahams either, she did a whole bunch of them! (These will go great at Tea Party X.)

S'more Truffles by Treat. Eat. Repeat. I'm getting all in the mood for S'mores. Especially ones with buttercream in them.

Pie in a Cupcake by Cupcake Love Affair. You know I'm all over this one. So. Many. Options.

Sugar Cookie Caramel Bars by The Ranch Wife Chronicles. These look like they'd go perfectly with...well anything. Melt in your mouth!

Now, let's get on with the party!

Simple non-rules:

Desserts only and Visit some other links...spread the sweetness!

Happy partying! Party runs through Friday each week. Be sure to stop by next Tuesday to see if you won the giveaway or if you are featured!


29 April 2012

White Chocolate Cheesecake Dip & A Tea Party

Ever since I saw this post (which lead me to this book) I have wanted to host a tea party for Jordan and her doll, Jenny. After our lunch at the American Girl Store, I wanted to do it even more.

So, when Donsuemor contacted me about having a tea party with their madeleines, I immediately knew what I wanted to do.

Back in October, I was a part of Donsuemor's "Dessert a Day" campaign where I made these babies out of the chocolate madeleines. For the tea party, they sent me a variety of flavors to serve, along with some Davidson's Organic Tea.

Now I knew I was going to serve madeleines at the tea party. But this is me we're talking about, so I couldn't not make a dessert. But I wanted to make something that would highlight the flavor of the madeleines, not upstage them. What to make?

Thanks to Ashton, I always think about dip. (If you read her blog, you'll understand and should be nodding in agreement.)

In my yummy madeleine box I had the traditional flavor, plus chocolate dipped, chocolate, and lemon. I immediately thought of white chocolate, which lead me to cheesecake. White Chocolate Cheesecake Dip. It's irresistable. The madeleines tasted SO good dipped in it. So did a spoon. Seriously, I had to freeze the leftover because I was afraid to have it in my refrigerator.

And, let's talk for a minute. I'm a chocolate girl. I love chocolate. And vanilla. I most certainly do not love lemon. In fact, I'd never even had a lemon dessert until I was craving lemon pie last year and loved it. So, of course, I sampled all the madeleines and was expecting to love the chocolate one the most. Wrong. Guess which one is the best flavor ever?

Yup, the lemon.

While the kids had tea time, my friend and I did too. It had been really hot the weekend before our party, so I made iced tea. Vanilla Cream Spice and Bing Cherry Almond. My kitchen smelled wonderful during brewing and it tasted even better! Did you know it's super easy to make iced tea from tea bags? (I didn't.) You just use two tea bags for each cup of water, boil them for a minute, and then let it steep for at least 20 minutes. Serve over ice with lemon wedges and a simple syrup for sweeter tea. 

Jordan invited a friend over for the tea. Turns out, her friend has the same doll she does. I decided to make some finger sandwiches and fruit for the girls; treats only go so far. But, of course, Jenny and Emily needed to have their own snacks.

When I cut up the kid sandwiches, I just cut one of the wedges in little tiny triangles. I cut little tiny carrot sticks from baby carrots, and broke off little squares of Wheat Thins. (Thanks to Family Fun Magazine for the ideas!)

There's Jenny, enjoying her madeleine.

That's Emily. She at all her sandwiches. She must've been hungry!

The kids had so much fun at the tea party, Jordan has been begging to do it again every day. She wants to have every single friend over for tea. So as I write this, tea party II has just ended. Alas, there were no madeleines left.

One guess where they went.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Dip

by Crazy for Crust

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 box (3.4 ounces) cheesecake pudding mix (dry, without milk)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled (plus an extra ½ ounce for garnish, if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk (or more, for desired consistency)
  1. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the pudding mix, powdered sugar, and white chocolate and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla and milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
  2. Store in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature. If desired, you can grate more white chocolate on top before serving. Serving suggestions: cookies, fruit, madeleines or other small sweets.
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For more information on Donsuemor, visit their website. Or, you can like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. To purchase their yummy madeleines and little cakes, you can shop online or check your local Costco, I know they have them in mine.

Stuff I gotta write: Donsuemor provided me with the madeleines and tea for my tea party. All opinions expressed about the tea or the madeleines are completely my own. :)

I link up to all of these fabulous parties each week!
Tea Party Tuesdays at Sweetology, Talent Show Tuesday at Chef in TrainingTrick or Treat Tuesday at Inside BruCrew Life, Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain, Sweet Treats Thursday at Something Swanky, Chic-and-Crafty at the Frugal Girls, Tastetastic Thursday at A Little Nosh, Sweet Tooth Friday at Alli-n-sons, I'm Lovin' it Fridays at TidyMom, Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies, A Well-Seasoned LifeStrut your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters' Stuff, and all of these too!

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27 April 2012

Whatever Friday

Happy Friday! Are you excited for the weekend? I am, because it's our last one without a gazillion things going on until school is out in June. Hopefully we can rest up and hang on until then!

1. First off, I wanted to thank you all so very, very much for all of your comments on my infertility post. It meant so much to me that you all too the time to read, comment, and even share your own stories. Infertility is one of those things that is so uncomfortable to talk about, but it happens so often, the stories need to be out there. Because when you're in the midst of it, you feel like you're the only one and no one understands. So, thank you. So much.

2. Have you entered my giveaway? Be sure to go enter, and link up to Crazy Sweet Tuesday while you're there!

3. This week I posted some healthy, non-indulgent treats.

Like this Chocolate Malted Shortbread, made with Melt Organic. Healthy butter...which equals a guilt-free treat, right?

Wait, what? That's not right? Um...huh.

And this treat, which really is (almost) fat-free, which means I can eat the whole container, right?

No? I can't? Too late. Oops.

4. I am finally going to accomplish one of my goals. I signed up for the Race for the Cure 5k on Saturday, the 12th. The Race is special to me for many reasons, one because it's the first (and only) 5k I've ever run (a few years back) and because my step-mother in-law is a survivor and one of my friends is currently undergoing treatment. So...I'm going for it. Wish me luck!

5. As I've told y'all before, I read a lot. I don't buy books unless I'm going on vacation or it's a great series like Hunger Games or something; usually I borrow them from the library. I have a hold list a mile long, because I'm up to date on all my favorite authors so I have to wait eons to get their current novels. What I hate? When they all come in for pick-up at the same time. Now, I have three weeks to get through this stack (because most of them can't be renewed):

And yes, that pink one at the top I expect will be most thrilling.

6. I apologize for my lack of commenting lately. I'm trying as hard as I can to get to all your blogs because I truly love visiting you. I'm having issues with blog-life balance (as Jordan not so kindly told me) and well, commenting is taking a hit right now. Hopefully in a few weeks things will settle down (ha ha ha - then it'll be summer!) but please know that even if I don't comment, I'm reading in my reader! You still love me, right?

Have a great weekend everyone! See ya' on the flip side.



25 April 2012

Banana Cream Pie Ice Cream {without a machine!}

{Psst...before we get started...did you enter my giveaway yet? No? What are you waiting for...go enter!}

One of the things I love about living where I do (outside Sacramento) is how close it is to lakes and mountains. Lake Tahoe is less than two hours away, making it super easy to head to the snow in the winter or to the lake in summer.

Last summer we took a couple of day trips to Donner Lake. I think I prefer the beach we went to over the large, overpopulated Lake Tahoe beaches. It was a small shore-front, had bathrooms (a must), and Truckee is a little bit closer than Tahoe City.  And? There's a Dairy Queen in Truckee.

Now, I've talked to you all about my love of Dairy Queen. Many of you are new, and might want to check out that story. Because now, I've passed my love of all things DQ down to Jordan.

When I mention Donner Lake, she mentions stopping at DQ on our way home. Girl after my own heart!

Anyway, back to the point. Last year on our first trip to DQ, the special of the month was a banana cream pie blizzard.

I may have died a little and gone to pie heaven when I saw that. And it tasted even better.

So I knew, one day, I would want to recreate it at home.

And now I have.

Two-ingredient ice cream has been all the rage these days. Last year, I made this ice cream out of Cool Whip and sweetened condensed milk and it turned out awesome (are you surprised I used Nutter Butter's?) I have an ice cream maker, but I love this recipe because it's so easy, versatile, and I can make it (almost) fat-free (using both fat-free Cool Whip and sweetened condensed milk).

This time I kicked it up a notch with banana pudding, chunks of pie crust, and chunks of banana.

It tastes exactly like a banana cream pie. It was exactly how I remembered the blizzard, but more ice-creamy. So. Freakin'. Awesome.

I will be making this again. And, oh, the other pie creations I could make...

And it's okay if you, ahem, eat the whole thing yourself. Because besides the pie crust, it's fat-free! :)


Banana Cream Pie Ice Cream

by Crazy for Crust

  • 1 tub Cool Whip (fat-free)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free)
  • 4 tablespoons banana cream pudding mix (the powder, not the actual pudding) from a large box
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust (from a pack of 2)
  • 1 banana (more if you like lots of banana)
  1. Bake pie crust (flat) on a cookie sheet in a 350° oven for about 15-20 minutes (watch it after 10 minutes; you want it to be more crunchy than soft, but not burned). Let it cool, then break it into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Mix Cool Whip and sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl. Add pudding mix and vanilla and stir well.
  3. Slice your banana and cut each slice in quarters. Stir banana and pie crust chunks into ice cream base. Place mixture into a large Tupperware and freeze until hardened (at least 3 hours or overnight). Ice cream has a soft consistency.
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Have a Linky Party you want me to join? Add it HERE.

I link up to all of these fabulous parties each week!
Tea Party Tuesdays at Sweetology, Talent Show Tuesday at Chef in TrainingTrick or Treat Tuesday at Inside BruCrew Life, Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain, Sweet Treats Thursday at Something Swanky, Chic-and-Crafty at the Frugal Girls, Tastetastic Thursday at A Little Nosh, Sweet Tooth Friday at Alli-n-sons, I'm Lovin' it Fridays at TidyMom, Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies, A Well-Seasoned LifeStrut your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters' Stuff, and all of these too!

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24 April 2012

My Infertility Story {Don't Ignore Infertility #niaw}

This week, April 22-28, 2012 is National Infertility Awareness Week. Last year I posted the story about my struggle with infertility on my short-lived other blog. Because so many of my readers here are new, and because I feel that Infertility is an important topic that shouldn't be ignored, I'm sharing my story again.

Infertility affects about 1 in 8 couples of child-bearing age. There are so many causes of infertility, many of them unknown. It could be from the husband. It could be the wife. It could be a giant question mark and no one knows the answer. A couple may have a baby no problem and experience secondary infertility. Some may get pregnant at the first intervention; other spend years and thousands of dollars on extensive treatment. Most often you have no idea you will experience infertility until you do.

I have a beautiful, wonderful daughter. She's seven, and she's my only child. Y'all know this, because I can't stop shooting my mouth off about it (or her). Even in the moments where I'm so tired of her; where I can't catch my breath because she is driving me crazy, she is my miracle. She's the child I wanted since I was a little girl dressing up my babies; and she is the child that, for awhile there, I never thought I'd have. Here is my story.

My husband was married before. He and his ex-wife experienced four miscarriages. After the fourth one they did some testing and discovered she had a chromosomal deficiency that caused her to miscarry after 12 weeks. She would never be able to carry a baby to term. My husband decided to have a vasectomy, to ensure she would not get pregnant and miscarry again. I think he did this partly to save his (already in trouble) marriage.

Fast-forward a few years and he is divorced and we start dating. I don't remember exactly, but I believe it was our third date when he told me about his vasectomy. I still remember the warm sun on my face and the hot sand beneath my feet when he told me. In all my youth and inexperience, I said, all matter-of-fact, "Well that can be reversed, right?" and in my head, thought, no problem. {Ah, the naivety of youth.}

(To be clear: I would not have changed the course of my relationship with my husband, even after going through all we did. I loved him already that warm day at the beach, and I love him even more today.)

About six months after we married, he had his vasectomy reversed. This was not covered by insurance and cost $5,000. It was a lot more painful than the actual vasectomy; it was a much more involved surgery. The best advice his doctor ever gave us was to bank some sperm, just in case. Vasectomy reversals have a nasty habit of scarring over, thus rendering the reversal useless. A few months later we moved to Arizona and banked sperm. At the same time they did an analysis and found his little guys were swimming, although they had "morphology" issues. (Basically, their heads were soft and might have a hard time cracking the egg, so to speak.) Phew, we thought. The reversal worked, we can start trying.

After six months we knew we might have a problem. Nothing was happening. Normally, they make you wait a year (especially for a woman my age; I was only 26). Since we knew the deck was stacked against us we went to the fertility doctor to get checked out.  He did some tests on me, a dye test and some exams and said everything was fine. He reviewed my husband's sperm analysis that was only six months old. We decided to try an intra-uterine insemination (IUI). For you laymen out there, that means the turkey baster.

I went through the month taking some sort of drug; I don't remember which one now. We got all ready, did the "harvest" shot and went in on Easter Sunday to be implanted. My husband dropped off his sample, we left for an hour and went back for the procedure (they had to get the little guys all ready). I'll never forget that woman's face when I walked back into that clinic. There was no sperm. His vasectomy had reversed itself. We would not be getting pregnant that day, nor through any "easy" method. I still remember the grief I felt that day; it was one of the worst days of my life.

The next step for us was in-vitro fertilization, or IVF. Thank goodness we had banked that sperm because without it? The doctor would have had to use a long needle and remove a cross-section of my husbands' you-know-what to get sperm out. {Shudder}

IVF is a long process. You take birth control pills for one month to get your cycle in sync. Then you start daily shots to stimulate egg growth. I was prescribed Follistim. It came in a pen, so I just had to dial the dose and shot myself up in the thigh. I don't remember any horrible side affects from the Follistim. The Lupron, however, was a different story. Lupron keeps your body from ovulating. It produces hot flashes like you wouldn't believe. (I've had hot flashes since I was a teenager and these didn't even compare. I've heard them compared to the hot flashes experienced during menopause.)

I'll never forget my trip to the pharmacy to pick up my medications. They came to me in a paper grocery bag (the large size) and cost me $2,500 after what the insurance would cover.

During the first two weeks of your cycle when you're doing IVF you're going in for blood work and ultrasounds every day or every other day. Then, when the time is right for ovulation collection, you take a shot of hCG that causes the release of your eggs in a specific window of time. The egg harvest is done under twilight sleep. Most women I'd been chatting with on the IVF message boards had been getting 10-15+ eggs for harvest. I got seven. Two of the seven eggs never fertilized. Because of the morphology issues, we had to do a procedure called ICSI, where the doctor takes the individual sperm and injects it into the egg.  (Can you say cha-ching!?)  After all that work, all I had to show for it were only five chances at a baby. (Mind you, this is after expecting to have all these little embryos to freeze for next time, if the first time didn't take. It makes it a lot easier and cheaper when you've already got frozen.)

After a few days we went back in to the clinic to have our embryos implanted in my uterus. Such a romantic place to get knocked up; me in an exam chair with my legs up in stirrups, a strange man down at the baby end while my husband sat next to me an held my hand. All I can say is, thank God for the Valium they had prescribed.

It turns out, of the five embryos, three were "C" grade. One was a "B" and the fifth was a "superstar." We implanted the two best embryos.

For three days I was on bed rest. I could come downstairs in the morning and go up at night. I could get up to pee and that was it. After two weeks (the longest two weeks ever) we went in for a blood test to check for pregnancy. My husband came home from work early to wait for the doctor's phone call. We sat on pins and needles waiting for that call. Finally when it came we got the best news of our lives: we were pregnant. We were so happy.

Even though we didn't want to tell anyone (my husband's past experiences cautioned us that waiting to tell your news is a good thing), we called our families. One of the things that IVF takes away from you is the ability to keep pregnancy secret. Everyone you are close to knows about your doctor appointments, your shots, your bed rest. You've had to take off work and had to explain why or you've gone to a dinner party and had to excuse yourself during dinner to give yourself a shot. Dealing with infertility not only takes away the romance and joy of getting pregnant but it takes away your privacy as well.

But did you know that the first test isn't a necessary an absolute positive? We had to wait two more days for another test to be sure. We did all the waiting again and got another positive result. We were finally pregnant!

Then came weeks of progesterone shots to my bottom (given by my dear husband) as well as cream insertions, and even more weeks of hoping nothing would go wrong. With his past history, we were a little skittish. But, thankfully 10 days shy of nine months after that romantic doctor's visit, we had our beautiful baby girl.

We were so happy that it had worked for us. In some ways, I consider myself extremely lucky. I only had to have IVF once and I got pregnant. I've known women who have done countless IUIs and several rounds of IVF before (if ever) getting pregnant. But getting pregnant the first time around makes you wonder. Would it happen that way again? Or, because I was successful the first time would it be harder the next time around? When you know that there is no way you're going to have a baby without such an extensive procedure, you think about what it would take for a "next time."

That day we got the call that yes, we were pregnant? I think in that moment, without even talking about it, we knew we wouldn't be doing it again. I know, for myself, if that call had been a bad one? I don't think I could have handled it. I think that feeling I had on that Easter Sunday would have paled in comparison to a "no, you're not pregnant" phone call. I knew I never wanted to feel that, ever. Because where do you go from a "no"? Do you do it again and mortgage your house? Charge it on a credit card? We spent about $15,000 on our IVF, and that was with some insurance coverage. How many times can you spend that much money before you say enough? And if we had decided to go for it again, and it hadn't worked, would I have become obsessed and wanted to keep going over and over? These are questions I still ask myself.

Having an only child when the choice for more was taken from you is a hard one. But, as much as I often long for another baby, it was the right thing for us. We are a happy family of three.

And I think I'm okay with that (for today anyway; it's an ongoing process).

Anyway, it doesn't matter. I have my miracle; my superstar.

Don't ignore infertility. Infertility affects so many people. It's a disease that makes something that should be very private something very public. Chances are, if you haven't experienced it, someone you know did. That mom on the playground who gives you a stiff smile when she sees your baby. The woman in the grocery store line, childless, whose gaze seems to linger on the baby in front of her. Or even the mom with two or three kids, who has to watch every last penny because her doctor bills are so high. Do you have a story? I'd love to hear it. Share your story with someone today. Help someone realize that they are not alone in their fight to have a child.

When I was going through the whole process, Resolve helped me. It can help you too.
For a basic understanding of the disease of infertility, click here.
For information about National Infertility Awareness Week, click here.
For information about support, check out Resolve.org.

Thanks for reading!

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23 April 2012

Crazy Sweet Tuesday & Giveaway!

Hey y'all! Welcome to Crazy Sweet Tuesday, where calories are free.

I have a giveaway for you today. But first, let's talk about last week's party.

Oh my goodness you guys, I was amazed. Floored. The amount of awesomeness that was linked is staggering. I had the hardest time choosing features. Here are a few of them that especially caught my eye:

1. Cake Batter Monkey Bread Muffins by The Domestic Rebel. Jordan's eyes lit up when I showed her that photo and she promptly asked when her BFF Hayley was going to bring her some.
2. Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese by Galley Kitchen. *Mind Blown*
3. Chocolate Avocado Muffins by BruCrew Life. I love avocados. More than you can imagine. Now I can eat them for breakfast.
4. Chocolate Glazed Turtle Pie by Aunt Nubby's Kitchen. Again, my mind is blown with this pie. One word: NEED.

5. Monster Magic Cookie Bars by Something Swanky. This was also the top clicked. And I know why: because they're awesome! (Also thanks to Ashton for the tip on how to make a collage in PicMonkey!)
6. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pound Cake by Life is Sweets. Um, this cake could change my life.
7. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread by Baking With Blondie. {Yes please, I'll take seven.}

Thanks so much for linking last week! I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate you all coming here and partying each week. It makes me weepy-happy. And want chocolate. So, a win-win.

If you've been featured, go ahead and grab a button! The party will start below. But first...

Now, to say thanks, I have a little something for you today. Alas, I wish I was giving away a new Keurig or Kitchen Aid mixer (ahem, big companies...see little old me? Hi!) But I did go shopping at Sur la Table recently (my favorite store ever) and saw this cute little apron and dishtowel set. I thought one of you might like it.

It's "Sur la Table Vintage" which I guess means it's made to look old? I don't know, but it's dang cute. Plus, you never know what else I'll include in the shipping package...

Want to win the apron, towel, and maybe a surprise from me? To enter, just fill out the information below. I'm trying out Rafflecopter for this giveaway...hopefully it all goes okay!

Here are the ways to enter:
**Be sure to use The rafflecopter widget to enter!!**

*Leave a comment
*Follow me on Twitter @crazyforcrust
*Follow me via RSS or GFC
*Follow me on Pinterest
*Pin one of my posts and let me know which one

That's it! Giveaway runs from now until Saturday, April 28th at midnight. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, let's get on with the party!

Simple non-rules:

Desserts only and Visit some other links...spread the sweetness!

Happy partying! Party runs through Friday each week. Be sure to stop by next Tuesday to see if you won the giveaway or if you are featured!


22 April 2012

Chocolate Malted Shortbread

I love trying new things.

Well, not really. I don't love trying new foods. I've never had beets and I've never tasted mustard and I'm not going to, thankyouverymuch.

I love when I find new products at the grocery store. Especially when they are my kind of product, like cereal. Or candy. Or something I can bake with.

When I was in high school I had a friend whose mom had this same sort of love for new food products. And she wasn't on a budget so they always had the newest cereals and cookies and all sorts of great snack foods. Rice Krispie Treats Cereal, anyone? I think I *may* have eaten the majority of their box, because my mom wouldn't buy new things unless she knew I liked them. (She'd just send me to my friends' house for that.)

So when Melt Organic contacted me about trying their rich and creamy spread, of course I said yes. New product? For cooking and baking? Of course I want some!

Melt Organic is a new buttery spread that is soy, gluten, and trans-fat free. It's organic. It has 50% of the saturated fat that butter has. It has fewer calories than butter and has no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. And it's and excellent source of "good fat" (fats that our bodies burn as energy instead of storing as fat). It's a healthy form of butter!

Melt Organic is made with virgin coconut oil, flax seed oil, palm fruit oil, canola oil, and hi-oleic sunflower oil. I've been hearing so much about coconut oil lately, so I was especially excited to try a product containing it. And guess what? The coconut oil gives Melt Organic the tiniest coconut flavor. Which is a huge score in my book.

I knew I was going to bake with it. I mean, I'm me, right? The question was, what to make? And would it turn out okay?

I decided to give these Chocolate Malted Shortbread bars another go. I tried making them at Christmas and they were good, but didn't turn out quite right. I was determined to make them perfect!


I baked my shortbread in a 9" tart pan. The chocolate shortbread dough has Ovaltine in it. I know there was a malted baking craze awhile back, with everything calling for Malted Milk Powder, which my grocery store doesn't have. They do, however, carry Ovaltine, my favorite drink from childhood.

I cut the slices small, to be more like cookie wedges. But believe you me, after I was done with these photos I cut myself a nice large slice and at it like a wedge of pie. Because these are that good.

The Melt Organic performed exactly like butter. Maybe even better. The shortbread is soft and chewy and delicious. But, of course, if you can't find Melt Organic in your store (they don't sell it near me, but if you live in the Los Angeles area, you can find it there or you can buy it online) you can use actual butter. But it won't be as good for you and you'll feel guilty eating the entire tart. So, just warning you. :)

So try these bars. And, if you can, try Melt Organic. It's good. I can't wait to make cookies with it. And frosting. Jordan even likes it on her sandwiches, and if you've been reading long enough to know how she is, that's an amazing compliment.

Oh, and who can say no to Ovaltine and Whoppers? Not I.


Chocolate Malted Shortbread

by Crazy for Crust (Adapted from Land o' Lakes...and yes I see the irony.)

  • 2/3 cup Melt Organic Spread (or butter)
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 ounces (2 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
  • ¼ cup Ovaltine powder
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 5 oz box Whoppers (movie theatre size)
  • ½ cup Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix butter and brown sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the 2 ounces of melted chocolate and Ovaltine and beat until well mixed. Add flour and mix on low speed until the dough comes together; stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Press mixture evenly into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press Whoppers randomly around the top of the dough. (You won’t use the whole box…do what you will with the leftovers…)
  4. Place on a cookie sheet (in case of leakage) and bake about 20 minutes until the top starts to look a little cracked. Cool 10 minutes and then remove sides of pan. Cool completely on a cooling rack and then cut into wedges.
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Legal mumbo-jumbo: Melt Organic sent me two tubs of product to try for free. The info on the fats and benefits of Melt Organic came from their website and the Dr. Oz show. All opinions of the results I got with baking and how I liked Melt Organic are all my own, of course! For more info, check out their Facebook page or tweet them @meltspread #atlastgoodfat!

Have a Linky Party you want me to join? Add it HERE.

I link up to all of these fabulous parties each week!
Tea Party Tuesdays at Sweetology, Talent Show Tuesday at Chef in TrainingTrick or Treat Tuesday at Inside BruCrew Life, Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain, Sweet Treats Thursday at Something Swanky, Chic-and-Crafty at the Frugal Girls, Tastetastic Thursday at A Little Nosh, Sweet Tooth Friday at Alli-n-sons, I'm Lovin' it Fridays at TidyMom, Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies, A Well-Seasoned LifeStrut your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters' Stuff, and all of these too!

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20 April 2012

Whatever Friday

It's Friday! *Happy Dance*

Today I am (finally) painting my office. I mean, I've only been saying I'll do it "next week" since we moved in last October. Finally, finally I will be able to get organized instead of having strategic "piles" all over the guest bed. (My organizational system is going to be a lot of shelves and hanging files, hence the need to paint first.) Photos to come...eventually. I promise. And I'm sure there will be a lot of "there's paint all over my feet" Instagram photos. Aren't you excited?

This week I did a lot of stuff.

1. I gave you sinful donuts and visuals of teachers attacking each other with pencils:

2. I talked about my cat barf facial:

3. And more about my pickiness:

Go check them out. I'll wait.

Geez, I'm kinda in a demanding mood. Sounds like I'm taking lessons from my cat.

4. I got Jordan's softball pictures this week. When they were taken there was a huge rainstorm, so they had to be moved indoors.

Where, obviously, they were photographing Time Travel Softball. {Seriously, where do they even get those backgrounds?}

5. You know that toolbar on the bottom of my page? The Sac Connect one? They just installed a new version, and it has share buttons and stuff, pretty cool. However, if you're not into toolbars, you can close it by clicking on the right side and selecting "Hide Meebo Bar."

6. I will leave you with this picture of Callie. The look on her face pretty much sums up her attitude about life.

The dog? So jealous she almost can't help herself.

Have a great weekend y'all! Hopefully by tonight will not be a "Turquoise Mist" smurf. It's always a hazard when I'm painting a room. Because, well, I'm not neat.

Oh, and if you still want to link something sweet up to Crazy Sweet Tuesday, the party is on through tonight. So what are you waiting for?



19 April 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Tart

Can I tell you something and you promise to stay my friend?

Yes? Okay, ready?

I don't really like jelly. I never have.

I especially don't like jelly with peanut butter, like, in a sandwich. Ew.

Growing up I ate plain peanut butter sandwiches. As an adult I rarely eat peanut butter sandwiches, but I still like them plain. (I'd rather consume my peanut butter in say, a cookie. Or a tart. Or a pie.)

A few years ago I was craving something. Something sweet. and fruity. I really wanted this sweet and fruity thing but I didn't know what it was.

I made toast for breakfast, opened the fridge to get the butter and saw the strawberry jam. I don't remember if I was pregnant or what but I had to have that jam (that I hated) and I had to have it on this piece of toast right now.

So I did. And I liked it.


So now I eat jelly on toast. Sometimes. When I'm not being boring and just using butter.

But I won't eat jelly on a peanut butter sandwich, no way. Not ever.

I'll save my peanut butter and jelly for this tart, thankyouverymuch.

I actually made this awhile ago...for the teachers on Pie Day. I didn't get any photos of it cut...as it was for giving away. But I did taste a little bite of it when I dropped it off.

And it was good. So...let's change it to "I don't like jelly except in tarts. And on toast. And maybe in cookies?"

So I made this tart and I kinda forgot about it. Then I remembered that the Improv Challenge (hosted by Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker) for April was peanut butter and jelly. Perfect!

Enjoy, and I hope you find some more yummy peanut butter and jelly treats in the hop below. Maybe I'll find more jelly things that I'll eat. :)

Peanut Butter & Jelly Tart

by Crazy for Crust (Recipe from Food Network Magazine, September 2011)

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup strawberry (or your favorite flavor) jam
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9” fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream peanut butter and butter with both sugars using a mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
  4. Press half the dough in the prepared tart pan. Spread with the jam, leaving a ½ inch border around the edge. Drop about half the remaining dough around the top of the jam, and press the remaining half around the border to seal the edges. Bake until golden, 45-50 minutes. Cool completely before removing ring and cutting.
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And now for the Improv Challenge Blog Hop...

Have a Linky Party you want me to join? Add it HERE.
I link up to all of these fabulous parties each week!
Tea Party Tuesdays at Sweetology, Talent Show Tuesday at Chef in TrainingTrick or Treat Tuesday at Inside BruCrew Life, Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain, Sweet Treats Thursday at Something Swanky, Chic-and-Crafty at the Frugal Girls, Tastetastic Thursday at A Little Nosh, Sweet Tooth Friday at Alli-n-sons, I'm Lovin' it Fridays at TidyMom, Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies, A Well-Seasoned LifeStrut your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters' Stuff, and all of these too!

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17 April 2012

Brownie Ice Cream Birthday Cake

I have a funny story to tell you today. One that's not really funny to me, but will probably have all of you laughing at me.

I almost decided against telling it, (1) because it is embarrassing and (2) because it's kinda...gross...and we are talking about food. But because I'm a truthful and honest person, I'll tell it anyway. :)

I have a cat. Her name is Callie. She's a calico, and if we're being brutally honest, she's kind of a b****. In true cat form, she's really just into herself and we are at her beck and call.

Because I value my sanity and my sleep, I've made certain accommodations for Callie. She has a habit of yowling all night long if we don't give her what she wants. (And no, "trying to ignore her for a few nights" so she'll "learn" doesn't work. Believe me. I tried.)

Case in point - she has her own water glass. It's pink, and it used to be mine. I have given up my pink water glasses in lieu of one with a lid and a straw, so that she can use a pink cup as her water bowl on my nightstand. I get to listen to her drink all night long, and she let's me live until morning.

{Side note: who knew cats could tell colors? I tried to wash her pink glass once and replaced it with a green one. Finally, at four in the morning I went downstairs and got her a new pink one so that I could get some sleep.}

Anyway, back to the point. Callie has a problem with barfing. She does it all the time. It's not hairballs. I don't know why she does it. (Sure, we could pay the $150 for blood work...but then how would I buy candy?) She's fine in all other ways, eating, drinking, etc. She just likes to barf. At night.

She sleeps on the bed with me. Behind my head. You see where this is going?

Usually her retching wakes me up and I have time to drop-kick her off the bed so that the barf lands on the carpet. Last night? I didn't wake up. Well, until I rolled over into crusty cat barf.

So what's a girl to do at three in the morning? Wake the whole house to change the sheets? No. I moved  to the middle and went back to sleep.

When I woke in the morning I went to strip the bed. And found cat barf. ON MY PILLOW.

*Cue retching.* (From me.)

So....let's talk cake, shall we? I have sort of a love/hate relationship with this cake. I love it because I thought it was cute (it was based on this pin...the pin is way cuter so maybe don't go look?) and because it tasted freakin' awesome.

I kinda hate it because it was Jordan's birthday cake...the one she couldn't eat because she was sick. The one she made us put candles in to sing to her on her birthday and then cried for a half hour because she couldn't have it. (She did eventually eat some, the next week.)

But the love wins out. It's really an awesome cake. It has lots of steps, but is super easy to make.

I layered the bottom of my 9" pan with plastic wrap. Then I made the ice cream layer. You can use whatever ice cream you like, but may I recommend Cake Batter Cookie Dough from Lovin' Scoopfuls? Um, YUM.

Then the brownie layer goes on. Wrap it up and freeze.

Then I iced it with pink almond-scented Cool Whip.

And drizzled it with chocolate ganache.

Seriously, it's awesome. I think I love it more than hate it. And boy, could I have used some when I got up this morning.


Brownie Ice Cream Birthday Cake

by Crazy for Crust (Inspired by this pin.)

  • 1 box brownie mix (9x13” pan size), plus eggs, oil, and water called for to make cake-like brownies
  • 1 half-gallon of your favorite ice cream
  • 1 container Cool Whip (I used fat-free), defrosted
  • Food Coloring, if desired
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract (you can use vanilla if you prefer, but use about 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles
  • 1 cup (or so) of leftover or canned frosting, whatever flavor you want
  • Sugar cone and additional chocolate chips
  1. Mix ingredients for cake-like brownies. Bake the brownie in a 9” round cake pan. (I lined the bottom with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray for easy removal.) It takes about 28 minutes to bake in this pan. Let it cool completely before removing from pan and assembling cake. If the top is very rounded, use a serrated knife to trip the top to make it flat.
  2. Assembling the cake: Let the ice cream sit on the counter for about 15 minutes before making your cake. (You can also use the microwave to aid in this step.) Line a 9” springform pan with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap overhangs the pan. I used three layers.
  3. Spread the softened ice cream evenly in the bottom of the plastic-lined pan. Place the brownie on top of the ice cream layer and press it down to seal any gaps. Wrap the plastic wrap over the brownie and freeze until firm, at least 1-2 hours.
  4. Make your ganache: pour the heavy cream into a small bowl. Microwave for 40 seconds. Add the chocolate chips and whisk together. Let cool before using.
  5. To frost cake: add the almond extract to the Cool Whip and stir. Tint with food coloring, if desired. Remove cake from freezer and remove from pan. Place, brownie side down, on a cake plate or a 10” cake round. Remove plastic wrap and frost with Cool Whip. Return to freezer for about ½ hour.
  6. To decorate: Remove from freezer and pour ganache in the center of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Add some sprinkles and return to freezer for ½ hour to allow the ganache to freeze.
  7. To make spilled ice cream cone: Melt a small handful of chocolate chips in a small bowl. Dip the top of a sugar cone in the melted chocolate and then roll in sprinkles. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop some frosting onto the center of the cake and top it with the sugar cone, upside down. Add more sprinkles if you wish. Freeze again until ready to eat.
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Have a Linky Party you want me to join? Add it HERE.
I link up to all of these fabulous parties each week!
Tea Party Tuesdays at Sweetology, Talent Show Tuesday at Chef in TrainingTrick or Treat Tuesday at Inside BruCrew Life, Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain, Sweet Treats Thursday at Something Swanky, Chic-and-Crafty at the Frugal Girls, Tastetastic Thursday at A Little Nosh, Sweet Tooth Friday at Alli-n-sons, I'm Lovin' it Fridays at TidyMom, Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies, A Well-Seasoned LifeStrut your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters' Stuff, and all of these too!

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