Red Bull and Vodka Jell-o Shots

IMG_7030I’m totally cheating and back-dating this entry, but I had to post the Red Bull + Vodka shots I made for New Years Eve this year because I’ll probably need to refer back to this again next year so I can stay up til midnight. I was buzzed, caffeinated and then some — these jell-o shots are no joke. They actually made the devil’s energy drink more palatable though, and hey — they are pretty impressive looking too.

Thank goodness I found That’s So Michelle — there’s a zillion boozy shots you can make on her blog! The Red Bull + Vodka Jello Shot recipe is hers, but I’m going to repost for your convenience. Make some — you can do it! You’ll feel like a total rockstar (sorry, wrong energy drink).

IMG_7025What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups Red Bull (You will need two cans of regular or sugar free, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 and 1/2 packets of Knox powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup vodka of choice
  • 24 Cherries with stems
  • 1 Bite-Size Squares 24-Cavity Silicone Mold (they have these at Michaels)
    YOU TOTALLY WANT THIS. You’ll use it for other projects anyway – especially more jello shots.

What you need to do:

  1. Spray the mold with cooking spray or coconut oil lightly and cut your cherries in half and reserve for later. (This helps the cherries stand upright in the shots)
  2. Pour 1 1/2c. Red Bull into a medium sauce pan (should be almost the whole can). Sprinkle your 1 and 1/2 packets of gelatin on top (don’t stir) and let it sit for 2 minutes to activate the gelatin.
  3. Turn on low heat and stir in the gelatin until it all dissolves. Let the Red Bull get to a light boil and turn off the heat. Let it cool slightly and then add 1/2 cup of vodka.
  4. Pour half of your Red Bull jello mixture into your molds (or pan) let refrigerate and harden (about 2 hours). Place one cherry in each mold (or spread out an inch apart on in a pan) with the stem side up and cut side down, upright.
  5. Top with the rest of the jello mixture gently, not disturbing the upright cherries. Let refrigerate over night. Carefully, take a butter knife and edge around each mold to help release the shot. Pop them out and serve.

Tip: Michelle says to lightly grease your serving tray with cooking spray or coconut oil before serving so the shots don’t stick and break when people try to pick them up by the cherry stem. I just lined my serving tray with wax paper.

Special Treats: Surprise for Mamas!

I sure am lucky to have a lot of mama friends in my life, and when new babies are born, I like to make “special” cookies, just for mamas. I found this special recipe after I had my daughter and they helped me, so I like to make them for moms who might want a little help, too.

lactCookies

I made a batch yesterday and wanted to make a few surprise deliveries. My packaging supplies are a little tapped out lately, so I threw together these bags with stuff I already had. It’s super easy, and it’s not hard to do!

Here’s what you’ll need:

collageCZ

1. Cardstock/Scrapbook Paper Stack; prices vary by brand and store / 2. Scalloped edge scissors; $3.95 / 3. X-Large Circle squeeze punch, $17.99 / 4. Plain brown paper lunch sacks, Prices vary by store

Simply choose whatever paper you’d like to use, cut the same width as the bag. Fold bag down, and fold paper over the bag fold. Punch holes through bag and paper and tie with ribbon or wraphia. Embellish using craft punches, scalloped scissors or whatever you have on hand!

If you’d like to make your own cookies for a nursing momma, check the recipe! Have fun surprising someone, too!

Crafty: Make a Diaper Cake

RedTricycle_Badge_FNL 1This weekend was filled with celebrations, two of which were baby showers for second-time mommas. And because I’m a momma myself who appreciates practical things now more than ever, I really enjoy gifting diaper cakes. Because seriously — you always need diapers. So. Many. Diapers.

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There are lots of variations on the diaper cake out there, but most are … pretty cheesy. I worked with a woman years ago who taught me how to make gorgeous diaper cakes, and they always turn out cool and pretty darn impressive. It’s fun to play with different ribbons and colors to create a different look for each one. I also like to add a pair of shoes to it as the “cake topper”. Want to make your own? Of course you do! It’s not hard, I promise. Here’s a little “how-to” for you:

What you’ll need:

  • 60 diapers (I use Pampers Swaddlers, size 2. These diapers seems to have the least printed designs on them)
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips (2)
  • Ribbon
  • Artificial Flowers
  • 1- 14″ round cardboard cake board
  • 1-yd. white tulle
  • Hot glue gun and/or double-sided tape

Instructions:
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1. Begin with rolling one diaper (printed design facing inward) and wrap a rubber band around it. (This diaper will be the “core” that all of the diapers are stacked and layered around)

2. Make stacks of about 5 diapers, spaced out equally, one on top of the other.

3. Take these stacks one at a time, and fit and form around the core you created. Keep building, approx. 5 diapers at a time. Keep rubber banding after each stack or so to keep all the diapers together.

4. After stacking and building, create two layers for the “cake”, one larger than the other. I usually use about 30-35 diapers for the larger bottom layer, and about 20-25 diapers for the top layer. (Diaper count will vary, depending on how much spacing there is between diapers)

IMG_012455. After the two layers of the cake reach the desired size, wrap ribbon around the center of each (you want to hide the rubber bands). Cut ribbon to appropriate length.

6. Use a paperclip to attach one end of the ribbon to the rubber band — the goal is not to damage the diapers in any way, you want all diapers to be be fully intact and useable. Attach double-sided tape to the other end of the ribbon and wrap around to close.

7. Once ribbon is centered and secured, cut the flowers off their stems, and use the stem to feed through the center of each diaper cake layer (This will keep the layers from slipping off and will secure them to each other). Cut excess stem from the top so you can’t see it.

8. Use a hot glue gun to attach flowers to the ribbon. Be sure that you don’t get glue on the diapers by gluing on the plastic backing of the artificial flower. When attaching the flower, place your hand behind the ribbon to keep glue from leaking through to the diapers. Attach the flowers to cover the cut in the ribbon.
IMG_012429. Once your cake is assembled, set it on the cake board and place your shoes on top. If you don’t want to use shoes, you can add more flowers, a baby toy, or whatever else you think might look cool. I love Chucks, and because this particular baby has a daddy who lives in his Converse, I knew this cake had to have a tiny pair!
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10. Once you’re ready to wrap, place the diaper cake on top of the tulle, and gather towards the top. Use a rubber band to secure the tulle once you’ve got it wrapped perfectly. I like to cover the rubber band by tying thin ribbon at the top, and for this particular cake, I included a round rattle for the top that went perfectly with my black + white theme.

Hooray for Happy Mamas!
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The second one I made this weekend was for a baby girl — and had some moolah to go along with it! It looks so different!
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Another happy mama!
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What will yours look like?

Christmas Goodies: Triple-Decker Maple Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge

Maple. Peanut Butter. Pretzel. FUDGE.
That’s exactly how I read this entry from one of my blogger idols, Heather, at Sprinkle Bakes. Oh, I’ve tried twice before to emulate her absolute perfection in the amazing treats of hers that I’ve tried to make. Unfortunately, I never seemed to execute the projects quite to her level of awesomeness. But I’m gonna be frank here — this time, I nailed it.

The second I saw all those combined together in one delectable treat, I knew I had to make it for my friends this holiday season.

The look of this fudge is so stunning. I love the way the pretzel rods and crumbs look on the top of the rich ganache layer. The middle layer is the thickest, creamiest, most scrumptious peanut butter fudge ever — with just a hint of maple. And the bottom is a “crust” of all chocolate/butter/crushed pretzel goodness.

It was a no-brainer that I’d make the fudge, but what I didn’t know was how I was going to package it. Because it’s so pretty, I knew I wanted the wrapper to be clear, but just putting this stuff in a treat bag didn’t seem to do it justice. After trying a few things, I finally settled on printing a label to use as a backing inside, and printed it out on kraft brown cardstock.

It’s super easy to do. Just leave an equal extra amount at the top and bottom of the label to score and fold over (I used a ruler on the fold line and traced over it with a butter knife —careful, you don’t want to cut through! — to get a clean folded edge), so that the label wraps the bottom and top sides of the piece of fudge. I also recommend cutting a piece of wax paper for the fudge to sit on so that it doesn’t seep through the paper and mess up your pretty label!

FourEyedGirl-mpbpfudge-thumWant to make this delicious and amazing fudge? Of course you do! You can find the recipe here at Sprinkle Bakes (Heather, thank you for sharing this with the world!). If you’d like to use the tags I made, you can download the free printable tag here. If folding it as a backing isn’t your thing, punch a small hole and tie it to the outside with some red/white bakers twine to keep it looking seasonal!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

*added note: The pieces of fudge pictured are pretty huge. The idea was to give out mini “bricks” of fudge to each recipient. Again, because of how pretty the topping is, I thought it looked better to give a larger piece. You could realistically cut about four pieces of candy from the size of the block I have pictured.

Sweet Treats: Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

If you need a quick treat to bring to your Halloween Party tonight, whip up a batch of these! They are so easy and so quick, it’s almost criminal posting this here as some sort of triumph. Seriously, they’re cheap, fast and they look — and taste — awesome!

This is all you need:

  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 bag (about 6 cups) popped microwave popcorn
  • 3/4 cups candy corn
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

To make the the Candy Corn Popcorn Balls, follow these simple instructions (adapted from this recipe at about.com)

  1. Pop popcorn, remove all kernels, and place in large bowl. Add the candy corn to the bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave (approx 30 seconds).
  3. Add marshmallows, microwave for 1 minute more.
  4. Add vanilla extract and salt, mix together until ingredients are smooth and creamy.
  5. Pour over popcorn/candy mix, and stir until everything looks coated and mixed well.
  6. Wait 5 minutes for marshmallow mixture to cool.
  7. After the mixture has cooled a bit, spray your hands with non stick cooking spray and form balls in your hands. Be sure to pack them tightly — if the candy/popcorn is not packed tightly, the balls will fall apart.
  8. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick spray) to cool and harden to room temperature.
    *Makes about 6 popcorn balls

I think these took about 15 minutes total to make. I can’t wait to try them again during other holidays with different types of candy. I tripled the above recipe and made approx. 20 popcorn balls.

Have fun!

 

Sweet Treats: Cocoa Mochi with Nutella inside!

A very special momma friend of mine is about to have another baby, and this very special momma happens to love mochi. So when the opportunity came up to make favors for her baby shower, I just knew that I had to make it.

I’ll tell you right now: Making mochi is NOT EASY. I don’t care how many blog posts on the world wide web tell you how simple it is, I spent the better part of the week trying to make these work. My inspiration came from here, and after I saw those gorgeous balls of pink + green, I immediately pictured them as a tasty treat in honor of a darling new baby. But wow – that recipe did not work for me. Despite following all the instructions, my mochi came out of the microwave looking like the inside of a cement truck.


Thank goodness I found this Cocoa Mochi recipe on the side of the Sweet Rice Flour box! After my failed attempt, I decided to give the Mochiko box recipe a shot. Boy, am I glad I did! It turned out exactly the way it was supposed to, and it tasted so good! But the cocoa mochi wasn’t exactly the best wrapper for the traditional red bean paste I had planned on filling my original mochi with … so I started thinking about alternate fillings. I had some peanut butter in the fridge, and that worked GREAT (Imagine an Asian twist on a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Amazing, right?) and then I sliced a banana, and that was delicious as well! But I needed to make these the night before, and I knew the bananas wouldn’t hold up so well, and I was hesitant of peanut butter since there’s been a recent recall and didn’t want to cause any distress. As soon as the Nutella came to mind, I knew that was the answer!


I wish I could claim the brilliant of idea of this pairing as my very own, but upon googling it, I found tons of Nutella + Cocoa Mochi combinations. (Whatevs. I’m still a total genius in my own mind.) I did find a brilliant suggestion online to stick the Nutella in the freezer first, and if you decide to try making this mochi – definitely freeze the Nutella. I used a melon baller to make small scoops, and then I put them in the freezer for about an hour. This made wrapping the filling SO MUCH EASIER (Don’t worry, the Nutella doesn’t stay frozen and hard forever. It’s still creamy, gooey and delicious inside upon first bite).

Prepare your Nutella filling first. Then get started on making your mochi.
(Click here for Koda Farms’ Easy Cocoa Mochi recipe)

Okay — here is where I had to stray from the instructions a little bit:

  1. Use a Silpat mat instead of a baking pan. Seriously. The mat makes this much easier. Borrow one from a friend. Put it on your wedding registry. Or, just buy one (you’ll love it). I’m totally not joking. The Silpat mat was what finally helped me pull these off.
  2. Generously douse 1/3 of the mat with extra sweet rice flour or cornstarch (Have a ton more to the side to keep replenishing the mat with flour/cornstarch, too). Reserve the remaining area of the mat to pour the steaming hot mochi onto once this stuff comes out of the microwave. Pour it out directly onto the mat, and try and smooth it out as best you can with a spatula sprayed with non-stick spray. Be careful — it is so hot! Let it cool just enough so you can touch it, and then sprinkle the top of the mixture lightly with cocoa powder.
  3. Let the mochi sit for a bit. Then, after testing to make sure it won’t scald the palm of your hand, start peeling and tearing small pieces from the glob of mochi on the mat to work with.

Here’s the next tip: Use a ton of flour or cornstarch to always keep your hands powdered with. Yep, still not joking. You need to have your hands powdered at all times, cause this stuff is sticky … and messy … and will get into every crevice possible if you don’t have your hands powdered. I would rub my hands on the powdered part of the mat before I touched a new piece of mochi every time. Trust me. It’s all about the powder.

To roll the mochi:

  1. Tear a small piece from the glob on your mat, and manipulate in your hand until you’ve got a small pancake looking piece in your palm.
  2. Put a scoop of the chilled Nutella in the center of the mochi.
  3. Wrap the edges around the Nutella until it’s covered. Then, roll and pinch until the Nutella scoop is concealed and you’ve got a nice ball. Place the ball in a mini cupcake wrapper to make it extra special.

Tip: It doesn’t hurt to dust with more flour/cornstarch after you’ve got the filling covered up and you’re working it into a ball. I think the flour makes it look more delicate, and to be honest – the cocoa mochi is brown, and sorta thick … you want these treats to look appetizing and you don’t want them being mistaken for something else that is thick and brown (just saying). Also, I made mine on the smaller side since the flavor combination is pretty rich … just a bite sized ball of heaven that tastes like chocolate with Nutella inside is all you need. Think of these as a take on delicious chocolatey hazelnut Japanese truffles and size accordingly.

After they were finished, I wrapped two pieces inside a treat bag, and attached a little tag I made that said, “Yay for Babies and Mochi!” I kept the bags in an airtight container in the fridge overnight, and they were ready for the party the next day.

I got rave reviews, and most importantly — this very special momma was very happy!

Sweet Treats: Pumpkin Bread with No-sew Fabric Packaging

Well, it may not be so Autumn-esque here in California with this insane heatwave, but I decided to go ahead and make some pumpkin bread anyway! I am on a mission to find the perfect recipe for this delicious treat, as pumpkin bread truly is one of my favorites. This recipe turned out pretty well, and it’s said to be even better the next day – so it’s perfect to make for gifts.

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread (recipe originally found here)

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

One of the best things about baking breads is they are so easy to package and give away. I like to bake mine in mini-loaf pans with lids, and wrap them in fabric and ribbon. It’s super easy, and it requires no sewing … just some pinking shears and double-sided tape! Here’s how I package mine:

No-Sew Fabric Wrap

  • Fabric of your choice
  • Coordinating ribbon of different widths
  • Double-sided tape
  • Pinking shears (scissors with scalloped edges, keeps fabric from fraying)

  1. Cut your fabric in a long strip that will fit around your baking pan and lid like a belt.
  2. Turn the pan upside down and tape fabric to the bottom of the pan with double-sided tape. Make sure your “belt” is straight and wrap around the pan. Line up the unsecured side of the belt with the one you taped, and tape that side to the bottom.
  3. Cut ribbon you desire (I used two ribbons pictured above, and taped the thinner one on top of the thicker one). Tape it at the bottom, wrap around, and tape the other side to the bottom, just like with the fabric.
  4. Make sure fabric and ribbon are straight, with all taped edges on the bottom of your pan, so the top looks nice and clean.
  5. Now you’re ready to finish it off by tying on a tag or label of your choice with a thinner string/ribbon!

We’re still unpacking after our move, and my printer is out of action right now, so I used a cute little tag that I’d ordered from Bake It Pretty a while ago instead of my own. I was especially happy to find a  brown houndstooth fabric to use … I feel like it’s the perfect pattern for Fall and looks great with the pumpkin bread!