Thursday, May 31, 2012

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars


I am a big fan of cheesecake. Big. Huge.

We had some friends over a couple of nights ago for our first Summer BBQ. Unfortunately we forgot to invite the sun, but his nemesis the clouds and rain did show up.

However, we still got our BBQ on. The hot dogs and hamburgers never stood a chance. Hubby darted in and out of the house in between rounds of checking said hot dogs and hamburgers all while it was blustery outside.

The good news is that even with all that wind, gloom, and rain we had prepared our own little bit of sunshine inside.

Sunshine in the form of refreshingly sweet and altogether Summery Key Lime Cheesecake Bars.

Seriously SO, SO yummy.

AND...I know it shouldn't always matter, BUT aren't they oh-so-pretty too?

I love pretty desserts.

Do you love pretty desserts?

Do you love cheesecake?

Well just for you then...

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars
Sprinkle Bakes via Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Ingredients:

Crust-
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
8 TBS (1 stick) butter, melted

Filling-
2 8oz pkg of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
2 TBS flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup prepared lime curd, divided

Lime curd-
8 TBS (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 4 TBS fresh lime juice

yellow food coloring
green food coloring

First make the lime curd. Beat the butter and the sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer. Slowly add the eggs and the egg yolks one at a time. Pour in lime juice and mix again. The mixture will look a little curdled. Cook the mixture in a saucepan over medium until it looks smooth. Increase the heat slightly and whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Using a cooking thermometer, continue to cook until it reaches 170 degrees.

Remove the curd from the heat. Transfer the curd to a bowl and cover the curd with plastic wrap pressing it on the top to keep from the curd from getting a skin. Place in the fridge and let chill until ready to use.

Next make the crust. Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 8x10 pan with parchment paper OR spray with cooking spray. Mix the crumbs and butter and then press into the bottom of the pan. Bake crust for 5 minutes and then allow to cool.

To make the filling, beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with mixer on medium high speed until smooth.  Beat in eggs and egg whites on low speed, 1 at a time.  Beat in sour cream and vanilla, then the flour just until blended.  Remove 1cup of batter and reserve.  Pour the rest of the batter over the crust.


Tint the 3/4 cup of lime curd (you will have extra lime curd, go ahead a store it or heck just eat it with a spoon) with the liquid food coloring until lime-rind green.  You will use a few drops of both green and yellow food coloring.  Set the lime curd aside.


Mix 1/2 cup of tinted lime curd with the 1 cup of reserved batter.  Place spoonfuls or dollops of this mixture in no particular fashion on top of the plain cheesecake batter.  Dollop the remaining 1/4 cup of lime curd  across the previous mixture.  Use skewer to swirl the mixtures together to create a marbleized effect.


Bake for 35 minutes until set. Cool completely and then refrigerate until chilled. Remove the bars from the pan with parchment over hang. Cut into bars. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. 



Go on now, enjoy your Summer...no matter if it looks like Summer outside or not.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chores: A Pinteresting Wednesday?


Everyone visiting from Pinterest, facebook, Google+,
carrier pigeon, or smoke signal...
Thanks for stopping by. Stay awhile and 
let's be bloggy friends.

NEW: Here is the link for the chores I use for
the Ransom Box

Me and the whole "A Pinteresting Saturday" haven't been getting along. The weekend comes and the last thing I want to or am able to do is blog.

However, I still need a solid excuse to accomplish a pin here or there from my pin boards. So many great ideas...I just can't let them sit there...or can I...hehehe...

Ehem...no. I have pinned most of them because I really do have intentions of doing a project, cooking a recipe, using a tip, getting inspiration, etc. You get the idea, I am sure!

So A Pinteresting Saturday is probably going to move  to Wednesday...any objections?

Anyone?

"Bueller?"

"Bueller?"

"Bueller?"

Anywho, I digress.

My most recent Pin-tastic projects have a common theme.

That theme-

get some child labor...
crack the whip...
lay down the law...
teach some responsibility...
pull a Mama Bear from the Berenstain Bears (seriously if you get this reference you MUST tell me, we are kindred spirits)...
put some order in our Summer every days...

In other words--

We are tackling the whole CHORE issue.

Our kids have had responsibilities before...but there has been a lack of structure.

I got tired of explaining why--

"If you take out the toys, well then you need to pick them up".

Don't get me wrong they eventually did it...most of the time...Still uber tired of saying it.

Finally, when I saw THIS, I pinned it and decided to accomplish it post haste.

So I went to handy dandy PicMonkey and created myself a fun little label, and wrote my own little poem, for my new toy ransom bucket. I also just typed out a list of different chores/ways they can earn back each toy they left out. I printed everything off. I cut the chores into strips and put them in an envelope. Then I taped the label and the envelope to the lid of the bucket.

We have already had our first ransoming. The boys woke up with this bucket FULL...I kid you not...they are still working to get everything back.

Thanks to left out toys I have already had my dinning room table and chairs cleaned, the bath toys cleaned, the TV shelf dusted, and I got to watch Oldest run up and down the stairs 10 times (yup some are active things).


I have warned my sweet Little Men that if the bucket gets full AND they leave out more stuff, well then that stuff is mine, period. That lit a fire under their fannies!

So if you have a similar problem here is my label for you. Save it to your computer then use for your own Toy Ransom Box!



Still on the subject of CHORES-

NEW: Link to CHORE LIST 

Thanks to THIS pin Hubby and I have been discussing our opinions of chores and the whole reward thing.

I will spare you our whole fascinating conversation and just give you the highlights-

-don't want them thinking they always have to get something to do something
-want them to recognize the responsibilities they have simply because they are part of our family
-want to reward them for "extras"

So with the whole "reward them for extras" in mind, I again headed over to PicMonkey and made our Little Men some fun punch cards.


EDIT 08/04/12- I am sorry but I am not longer offering the free download of the chore punch cards.
My free version of these punch cards, unintentionally from me, started taking
business away from the etsy shop I originally PINNED this idea from.

I am glad they got in contact with me and that I could right this wrong.
Please visit their Etsy Store-My Sweet Swirls. Their cards are professionally done
and super cute. Plus they are reasonable.

The Ransom Box sign and the Chore Chart are still available 
for you to print off.

Thank you for your understanding.

Our rule with the punch cards is that they have to finish their "no arguing" chores. This means they need to finish the chores that are their responsibility period. No reward. Their reward is that they have the most awesomest parents ever and we have provided pretty comfy beds and a whole mess-oh-food they can eat.

So once they finish their regular chores, they each have a list of extra things they can do for a punch. Once they fill a punch card they can turn it in for a reward...we have not gotten there yet.

There will probably be some adjustment to our Chore hopes and dreams, but for now this is our plan. Wish us luck!

I am also giving you the template for the chore chart I used. The original is shown first and then an example of my personalized version is below.


You can save the template to your computer. Then in PicMonkey click the "edit a photo" button. Pick this file then go to the text edit and add in your own chores...like I did here.

This is Oldest's

Whew! That was a lot of chore talk. If you are like us and weren't quite so organized yet, or you are just starting out and are looking for chore ideas, I sure hope this helped.

Here's to CHORES!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ron Swanson T-shirt Tutorial


We just had a pretty rockin' Ron Swanson Birthday party in these parts.

One of the presents was this Ron Swanson T-shirt.

It was SO easy to make, and it complemented the party perfectly. This isn't the first time I have given personalized t-shirts as gifts. I love making them! They are so much fun and can be a really unique gift for that special person in your life.

SO if you know a Ron Swanson fan...gather up some supplies and whip out this fast and easy Ron Swanson t-shirt.

You will need:

freezer paper for stenciling
exacto knife
Ron Swanson print-off

I used this image found here.
Download the image on to your computer. Insert into a word document. Then print off.

fabric paint
craft brush

t-shirt
iron
hair dryer

First, place the Ron Swanson print-off underneath a piece of freezer paper. Trace the outline.


Cut out with an exacto knife. Remember, slow and steady is the best way to be precise.


Once your image is cut out, lay the t-shirt out flat on an ironing board. Pick where you want the image to be. Iron the freezer paper stencil in place...yes it will stay. AHMAZING.



Place a piece of cardboard between the layers of the shirt so that the paint doesn't bleed through.


Slowly apply paint to the t-shirt. Apply lightly at first, then go back an apply more. Make sure to be careful around edges to avoid bleeding.



You can let it set for 4 hrs...but who wants to do that??

Plug in your handy dandy blow dryer and speed up that process.


Once it is completely dry, peel away the freezer paper.


Bam! You now have a pretty awesome Ron Swanson t-shirt.


Wear it OR fold it up, wrap it up, and give it away as the most awesome gift ever.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Salads: Beginning of Summer



ps...this is an old photo...still chilly here 

First, Happy Memorial Day for those of you in the States. Here in the States Memorial Day is kind of the unofficial start of the Summer. Summer the season of lazy days. Time spent at the pool or in the sprinklers. The time for BBQs with friends. Picnics in the park. Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Lemonade. Watermelon. Salads.

Today, if it too for you is the unofficial start of Summer AND if you are lucky enough to actually have Summerlike weather...

Well enjoy your day outside. Enjoy your BBQ. Enjoy your friends and family. For your salad enjoyment, here are a couple of my favorite salad recipes!





Have a great Monday. Come back tomorrow for a fun tutorial.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In a Nutshell: School's Out and Music Man


School's out! I don't think anyone told the weather that it is summer break though.

Poor Oldest had to bundle up and go off into the dreary rainy morning on that last day.

Even though the weather for the first bit of Summer break does not look promising...we know things will warm up. We are excited to spend our first full Summer in Idaho.


Summer isn't the only exciting thing happening around here.

We just got this new-to-us addition to the household.


After almost 11 years of Hubby not having a piano, our Music Man finally can delight our family with his piano skills. It is pretty much glorious to hear him play in our home.




Maybe we will spend part of our Summer break introducing the piano to Oldest and Middle. I can't wait to have a house full of piano playing boys.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Little Ron Swanson Birthday Party




There is a little show called Parks and Rec. On this little show is a little character named Ron. Ron is pretty legit. He rocks a pretty wicked Stache and appreciates the finest food in America...BACON.

There is this girl I know. She might just be my sister. She might LOVE Ron.

She just had a birthday.

A Ron Swanson party might have been in order.

There was bacon. There were eggs. There was breakfast food galore.


There was a lovely little shrine to what I like to call Ron Swansonisms. Nothing like some advice from Ron.

Source of Ron Swansonisms

We couldn't forget about the Stache. We had a wall of staches and staches on a stick. Good times.


This lovely sign met our birthday girl at the door...she is the pretty, dark-haired woman he was referring to.


We may or may not have given her a fake stache and a fake gun to emulate Ron.


Dessert had to of course include bacon...otherwise Ron would never approve.

Bacon cupcakes of course.


We had to give presents...an ode to Ron multiplied by 2.

First this gem downloaded and printed off-

Doll #18Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
As promised, a brand new Parks and Rec doll.  There were just too many great things to include, I had to leave a few for another time.  
P.S. There are lots of more Parks and Rec paper dolls...
all equally hilarious.

The other present ala Ron is a little surprise...I will show you on Monday and I will have a little tutorial.

Here is a sneak peek. Along with the sneak peek at the gift, let us leave you with one last sentiment from Ron, which I just happened to turn into a birthday card.


Hahaha. We did have ourselves a pretty good time. Thanks Ron, this one's for you.

Sharing this PARTAY here-
Whipperberry Friday Flair
Be Different, Act Normal Show and Tell Saturday

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gyros


Rewind to last year--last year when we still lived in Ohio. Rewind to when Hubby took us all to the West Side Market in Cleveland for the last time. Rewind to when we all went to Steve's Gyro's for lunch for THE.LAST.TIME.

Fast forward to me and Hubby crying at the thought of never having those gyros again.

Seriously don't mock, it is tragic and the loss of these gyros was worth the bucket of tears we both cried.

Yes people they are that good.

So FIRST, if you live in driving distance of Cleveland, OH...please oh please for the sake of your taste buds get yourself over to Steve's Gyros. Be prepared to wait in line. Bring cash...yes that is all they take. Don't go on a Tuesday or Thursday because they won't be there. There will be nothing else on the menu but they gyros...yep again they are THAT good.

I mean seriously people, if this food joint only takes cash, is not open every day of the week, only sells one thing AND is still always packed, has been on Food Network and Man vs. Food, then you KNOW it is going to be worth every sacrifice to get there.

Oh Steve how I miss your gyros!

So what if you don't live any where close to Cleveland?

Well this post is for you.

If you can't go to the gyros, well then bring some gyros to you.

Months ago I scoured the internet for some gyro recipes. I struck gold almost right away.

The first recipe I tried (with minor alterations) was just heavenly. Not Steve's...but heavenly nonetheless.

We have made it more than once. We have had them with the homemade sauce which was great. AND we have had them with this little gem of a sauce that we found at the ever-lovely-Costco.


Both ways are super duper. SO if you can find this sauce, take that short cut. If you can't find it, not to worry, it isn't too hard to make the from-scratch sauce.

So if you like yourself a yummy gyro...

Go ahead give this recipe a go. You won't be sorry.

Gyros
velveeta ain't food


The meat:


1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork (use lamb is you can find it, I NEVER can)
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
4 slices thick cut bacon

The Tzatziki (if you are making it):


6 oz container of plain Greek yogurt
2 TBS mayonnaise
1/2 tsp minced garlic
juice of half a lemon
2-3 fresh cilantro finely chopped

Toppings:


diced tomatoes
shredded lettuce
thinly sliced onion
hot sauce optional


Greek flat bread
Butter

To make the sauce:


Combine all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the meat:


Combine beef, pork, salt, pepper, and oregano in a bowl. Mix with your hands until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate for 2 HOURS.

After two hours, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Pulse the onion, garlic, and bacon in a food processor until it is completely pureed. A bacon smoothie if you will...no, you are right that doesn't sound good. Just stay with me...

Okay, you know how I said to stay with me...I am going to test that right now.

So next you add the beef/pork mixture into the food processor with the bacon puree and puree it all together. Scrape down the sides as you go. This whole process will create a meat paste...yep I said meat paste. It will look disgusting. Just work through it.

Next you will put the meat mixture onto a foil lined baking sheet. Shape into a 12" long, 6" wide, 2" high loaf. No you don't need to take out your ruler, just guestimate. Refrigerate for another 10-15 minutes.

Bake for 1 hour. Allow meat to rest for 10 minutes. After resting, cut 1/2", or thinner, slices from the loaf. Place the slices on a clean baking sheet. Cook under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Turn slices over and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until meat is crispy and browned on the edges.

Melt butter in a pan and warm flat bread in butter.

Now they are ready to serve on up.

Place 3-4 slices of meat...or more...ya know whatever you like...on a piece of flat bread. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and sauces. Fold up. Wrap up. Eat up.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2 Months


Our Little Bean is 2 months old now.

He completes our family absolutely perfectly, that is for sure. He is loved, loved, loved. My other Little Men help so much. They simply adore him. Watching their love and adoration is a really sweet experience for these parents.

He is a great baby at night and a little needy during the day. He eats, poops, and cries just like a good baby should. His little smiles are starting to make an appearance and we LOVE them. We are all wrapped around his teeny tiny pinkie finger.

Going from three Little Men to four has definitely been an adjustment though.

I am learning that my to-do list will probably never get even close to be being accomplished ever again. I am slowly getting over the shock of having four little piles of folded clothes. I have never been so tired in m'whole life. There is a lot of guilt when time is not completely balanced between each of my boys. I am learning how to juggle. I am learning how to be okay with dropping the "balls" that aren't that important.

I am also learning that it is possible to love in amounts you didn't know existed. There are quiet moments of joy. Loud moments of hilarity and laughter. There are hugs, kisses, zurberts, hand-holding, and cuddles.

Yup, we sure are grateful this tiny Little Man has joined our family. Like I said, he completes us.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Food Contributor: Almond Joy Rice Crispie Treats


Rice Crispie Treats are always a good idea. 

When I stumbled upon coconut flavored marshmallows at the grocery store I immediately concocted these babies.

Head on over to Somewhat Simple today to get the recipe for Almond Joy Rice Crispie Treats.

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