Valentine’s Marshmallow Pops

Here’s a Valentine’s treat that is super easy, and perfect to send along with your little sweeties to share with their friends.  My daughter’s love to help make these.  I’ve made them several times (and for different holidays by simply changing the sprinkles) after seeing the idea several years ago on Grace Violet.

All you need…

One bag of Strawberry Marshmallows

Chocolate

Sprinkles

Lollipop sticks

Small cellophane bags (if you want to wrap them up)

~ Directions ~

1.  Push a lollipop stick into each marshmallow.

2.  Melt some chocolate (chocolate chips are not recommended)  I usually use Ghirardelli chocolate (found in the baking aisle).  You will probably need 4-8 oz. of chocolate, depending on how many marshmallows you dip.

3.  Dip one marshmallow at a time into the chocolate.

4.  Allow excess chocolate to drip off, then sprinkle your choice of sprinkles onto the chocolate.

5.  Set the marshmallow pop (stick down) in a mug to allow the chocolate to set (you can put the mug of pops in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes)

6.  Once the chocolate is set, if desired, wrap each pop in a small cellophane bag.

7.  Share with friends =)

If you’re feeling domestic this weekend, here are a few other Valentine’s treats to try…

Chocolate Rolled Cookies

Chocolate Cupcakes

Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

Decorated Valentine’s Cookies

Easy Chocolate Mousse (from a mix)

Joy’s Ladybug Birthday

Last weekend we celebrated my “baby” Joy’s 4th birthday.  Luckily, my girls are still young enough for me to steer them to the party theme I want to do… as in (insert excited voice) “Joy, wouldn’t it be fun to have a ladybug party?”  We’ll see how much longer I’ll be able to get away with that!  =)

I spent several months before the party gathering lots of red, white and black goodies.  I decided not to try to do everything myself and ordered many of the special party touches from a variety of wonderful sources (all listed at the end of the post).

January birthday’s pretty much have to be planned as an indoor affair, but we were blessed on the party day with a sunny 65 degree day that allowed the kids to play outside as much as in (yay for California!).

The afternoon of the party was spent enjoying a light lunch, chatting (adults), playing outside (kids), doing a craft (kids), and enjoying birthday sweets while presents were opened.

I prepared a dessert table full of cute red, black and white treats (with a few pink and green touches).

The cake and cupcakes were made by me (Glorious Treats).  The cake was dressed with a personalized cookie topper and little cookie ladybugs made as a gift by my friend Callye of Sweet Sugar Belle.

I completed the sweets table with simple arrangements of red tulips.

I made chocolate cupcakes (recipe here) with vanilla cream cheese frosting (recipe here).  The ladybug toppers were also made by me (using my Cricut machine).  I accented the cupcake stand with adorable tiny ladybug cookies from Sweet Sugar Belle.

I made a personalized banner to hang above the dessert table.  The banner was made to co-ordinate with the cookies (by Sweet Sugar Belle), which were made using inspiration from the adorable personalized shirt (from Modern Frills).  Joy’s cute hair bow from My lucky hair bow.

Delicious and adorable oreo pops from Sweeties by Kim.

Cupcakes were made by me (Glorious Treats) dressed with little ribbon flags and fondant flowers and ladybugs.

Amazingly perfect cookies from Sweet Sugar Belle.

Beautiful Oreo pops from Sweeties by Kim.

French Marcarons from The Macaronner.

The party invites were from Littlebeane Boutique.  I fell in love with them many months ago, and really patterned the whole party off of them.

Party favors were clear boxes (from Clearbags.com) filled with a little notebook (Target), a ladybug shaped magnifying glass (Target), little colored pencils and a ladybug chocolate (World Market).  The boxes were finished off with matching ribbon and a personalized thank you label (from Littlebeane Boutique)

One of the party activities was a simple craft I prepared for the kids.  I found some red lunch bags (at Target), and then cut out circles of black paper for ladybug spots, and large circles cut in half for the head.  Glue on some eyes, draw antennas and a line down the center and voila… ladybug puppets!

I prepared a light lunch (with the help of a friend- thanks Tara!) consisting of Turkey croissant sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salami pinwheel wraps, fresh vegetables with dip, fresh fruit and chips.  I dressed up the sandwiches with picks decorated with ribbon.  Above the food table I hung some adorable ladybug garlands a friend (in New Zealand) sent me several months ago.

Here’s my little cutie enjoying one of her birthday cookies.

We all had a great day celebrating the “joy” that this sweet girl brings into our lives.

~ All the details ~

Party planning, set-up and styling- Glory Albin (Glorious Treats)

Photography- Gene Chutka and Glory Albin

Cake and cupcakes- Glory Albin (Glorious Treats)

Invitations, favor labels and food labels- Littlebeane Boutique

Custom Sugar Cookies- Sweet Sugar Belle

Custom Chocolate dipped Oreo pops- Sweeties by Kim

Personalized shirt (on birthday girl)- Modern Frills

French Macarons- The Macaronner

Hair bow- My lucky hair bow

{Almost too easy} Chocolate Mousse

Last week my husband and I had our beloved hour and a half of kid-free time that comes every Thursday, thanks to church youth group.  The plan was to order a pizza (we had already fed the girls a healthy dinner) and watch an episode of Monk on DVD.  I really wanted a chocolate treat as well so I whipped up some yummy chocolate mouse.  Pizza, a movie, and a chocolate dessert… ahh the joys of being an “old” married couple.
(P.S. I took these photos the next day)
I think these would look so beautiful all lined up on a dessert table.  Add a small spoon (like these cute wooden ones from Garnish) and some pretty ribbon and you have a beautiful individual treat.
Now all you need is the recipe…
Here you go…
That’s right… buy the box, add milk, mix… done!
I apologize to those of you a bit disappointed in me!  I do truly love cooking from scratch.  But every now and then I like to have a box of something on hand for super quick treats.  I have no big preference for this brand over any other (although this was very good), it just happened to be what I grabbed at the store recently.  So there you have it… is my reputation ruined in your mind?  Or maybe you like me better than ever!  =) 
Happy mixing! 

Cute Valentine’s Garland and Cookies

Earlier this month I took down the gingerbread cookie garland I had hanging in my kitchen window.  The window was looking a bit bare, so I wanted to make something to dress it up again, but in a Valentine’s theme.  This time I opted for paper hearts, embellished with some buttons, beads and pretty twine.

I been enjoying the new garland over my kitchen window, and this week I had some time to make some cute matching cookies.  Simple shapes and designs, with a fun pop of blue.

For the cookies, I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe (here) and iced them with royal icing (recipe here).

For the garland I used…

Paper hearts (I cut mine out with my Cricut, but you could use a punch, or cut them by hand)

Twine (from The Twinery- I used Maraschino and Pink Sorbet )

Buttons

Wooden beads (I bought a bag of all pink ones from Wal-Mart)

~ Directions ~

Decide on the length of your garland and prepare as many hearts as you need to fill the length.  Attach two or more hearts together (as desired) using any kind of glue or adhesive (I use Tombo adhesive).  String twine through a button and make a bow.  Attach button to prepared hearts using glue dots, or tacky glue.  When you have your hearts dressed as desired with buttons, punch small holes on each side of the hearts (at the top).  String paper hearts and wooden beads along a double thick length of twine.  Tie ends, hang up and enjoy!

Happy Crafting!

Cranberry White Chocolate Bars {Recipe}

This past Christmas I became a bit obsessed with re-creating Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars.  These delicious treats are one of Starbucks most popular holiday desserts.  The Starbucks version consists of a chewy, cake base (similar to a blondie) studded with white chocolate chunks and cranberries, then a delicious cream cheese frosting, topped with more cranberries and a drizzle of white chocolate.  Sounds delicious, right?  This is why I had to learn to make them!

After purchasing two Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks (in the name of research), reading the ingredient list of the original (from Starbucks) and then reading through at least a dozen different recipe claiming to be the “top secret recipe”, I headed to the kitchen and worked up a recipe that I’m really happy with.  I made several batches over Christmas and the bars received rave reviews from all of my “taste-testers”  (the official panel includes my friends, neighbors and my husband’s co-workers).  Now to be fair, the end results of my recipe tests did not create an exact copy of the original Starbucks version.  Although I know this recipe has most all of the same ingredients, the Starbucks version is a bit chewier, and this recipe is a bit more cake-like.  But the flavor is right on.  And everyone who tasted my version said they were as good, if not better than the “original”.

Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (slightly softened)

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons fresh orange zest

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, chopped

6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) white chocolate chips

~ Frosting ~

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange extract

1/2- 2/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, chopped

2 ounces white chocolate, melted

~ Directions ~

1.)  Preheat oven to 350 (F) degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan then set aside (I also like to line the pan with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the two long sides- this allows the bars to be pulled out of the pan after baking for easier cutting).

2.)  In a medium bowl add the flour, powdered ginger, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Set bowl aside.

3.)  In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and mix well.  Gradually add the flour mixture and blend until combined.

4.)  Stir in cranberries and white chocolate.  Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

5.)  Bake 25-30 minutes, until edges are light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6.) Prepare frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and orange extract.  Beat about 1 minute until fully incorporated.

7.)  Assemble dessert by spreading the frosting onto the baked and cooled bars.  Sprinkle additional cranberries on top.  Drizzle melted white chocolate on top as desired.

Recipe Source ~ Final recipe by Glorious Treats

(Adapted from Mr. Breakfast, based on the original recipe from Starbucks)

Share these delicious treats with someone you love!

To make heart shaped bars, I used a heart cookie cutter.

You could also cut the bars into triangles, and then argue with your friends that you did in fact make them (and didn’t just buy them from Starbucks).

~ Shopping notes ~

Cute red and white straws from Shop Sweet Lulu.

The little milk bottles were a gift from a friend.  Similar ones are available from Sharnel Dollar Design.