Friday, July 27, 2012

Christmas in July 2012 - Red Velvet Mini-Cupcakes!

A few years back, my family and I started Celebrating Christmas in July.  Christmas has always been my MOST favorite time of year! The reds and greens, sparkles and glitter, the coziness of it, the decorations, the music, wrapping gifts and drinking hot chocolate, the holiday movies, and of course the story of Christmas. I just LOVE the holiday season....and because we enjoy it so much - we celebrate it in the summer as well! :)

This year, it was a two day celebration for us :) One day for baking, and one day for Crafting.  Amy Grant and Kenny G's Christmas albums were playing on repeat in my Kitchen, it was rainy outside, but festive in my home! Lily was old enough this year to get the idea, and she had so much fun with it as well!  (Although she's STILL upset that I wouldn't put up the Christmas tree ;)

So for Part one of our Christmas in July I decided to bake Red Velvet mini-cupcakes.  Lily has always loved baking with me and Charlie's starting to take an interest as well (he knows that yummy things come out of baking with Mommy!).  Lily's old enough to do most of it herself, she loves to pour the ingredients in the bowl and do all the stirring.  We're still working on the egg cracking, but she does a great job for a three year old! :)

I've had this recipe for lots of years, I'm not sure where it came from originally, but I used to make this with an old friend of our family's when I was younger (Although we made it as a layer cake). It always comes out moist and delicious! Enjoy!!

Christmas in July Red Velvet Mini-Cupcakes

1/2 cup cocoa
2 oz. red food coloring
2 1/4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs.
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vinegar

  • Preheat oven to 350* and prepare cupcake tin with liners. 
  • In a small bowl, combine cocoa and food coloring, set aside.
  • In another small bowl, combine flour and salt. 
  • In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electrix mixer for 30 seconds. add sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined. 
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing well, then mix in the cocoa mixture (this is where it gets pretty!!) 
  • Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low  until just combined. 
  • In a small bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda (it'll bubble!!) Add to batter until well combined. 
  • Spoon into mini-cupcake tins, about 2/3 full. 
  • Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a wire cookie sheet before frosting - makes about 75 mini cupcakes!
Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
5 1/2-6 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. gradually beat in one cup of powdered sugar at a time until it reaches a consistency you like.  Frost cupcakes and enjoy!!!



Here's my little sweet-pea helping bake!

The rest of our "Christmas in July" Tuesday was spent snuggling and watching Christmas movies.  Most of my favorite movies are Holiday ones - Christmas with the Kranks, Deck the Halls, Miracle on 34th Street, The Santa Clause, The Family Stone, any of the Christmas Carol's....ah I could go on and on!  It was such a great day!!










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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Easy Baked Chicken Tenderloins and Christmas in July

It's a beautiful sunshiney morning here in Ohio...I love sitting here at my desk and looking out the window to see the bunnies (we have TONS of them in our neighborhood), birds, squirrels and even a couple kitties, enjoying the sun. My little ones are eating breakfast and watching cartoons, so I thought it was a good time to sneak away and write a quick post :)

Yesterday was one of those wonderful rainy days when you just stay home and relax!  We've been celebrating "Christmas in July" here at our home so the kids spent the day watching Christmas movies and we baked some YUMMY Red Velvet Cupcakes (recipe will be coming to you soon!). I had Christmas music playing in the kitchen and our little electric fireplace going all day!  It was such a nice, lazy day.  Lily's really getting into the Christmas in July fun...although she doesn't understand WHY we're not getting out the Christmas tree ;)

Today my Mom and Sister are coming over to celebrate with us - Mom made Chili, we're making Cinnamon-Applesauce ornaments (another recipe to come for you soon!), listening to christmas music, watching movies, and lots more fun.  A few years ago we got into celebrating "Christmas in July" and now it's becoming a bit of a tradition!  Christmas is always my most favorite time of year and it's fun to celebrate it in the summer too!  So that's our plan for the day (We'll pretend it's NOT 94 degrees outside today! ;) and enjoy spending the day together with my family.

Because it was a cozy kind of day yesterday I was in the mood to cook up some "comfort food".  Mashed Potatoes, Corn and my FAVORITE "Easy Baked Chicken" was on the menu! You know it's a good recipe when the pickiest of kids (My daughter!) likes it as well!  By the way, this is a REALLY flexible recipe as far as how much chicken you make and how much seasoning you use.  This is just how I do it, change it up and make it your own if you'd like :) Hope you enjoy!!

Easy Baked Chicken Tenderloins

8-10 Chicken Tenderloins
1 c. Italian dressing
4 c. Corn Flakes cereal
2 tbs. Italian Seasonings
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tbs. butter, melted

Marinate Chicken in Italian dressing for 2-3 hours. In a large ziplock bag, combine cornflakes, italian seasonings and garlic powder.  *this is the fun part!* give the bag to your kids and let them crush the cornflakes.  You can use a rolling pin or your hands and crush until you find a consistency you like.  Pour into a bowl.  Coat chicken in cornflake crumbs, it will stick well because of the italian dressings!  Place in a greased 9x13 pan.  If you like a heavier coating, you can sprinkle the remaining corn flake coating over the top.  Pour melted butter over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 30  minutes or until juices run clear. Enjoy!!



(excuse the date on my pictures, I just got a new camera and I haven't figured out out to remove the date yet!) ;) 

I'm off to go get ready for the day, but you can expect a couple of Christmas in July posts soon!  Hope you all have a wonderful day!!





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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer LOVE!

As a girl who loves fall and winter, summer is not usually my most favorite time of year.  This year though, I'm learning to enjoy it again - like I did when I was little!  I think what has changed my mind so much is seeing the joy in my children's faces when they play in the sunshine...running through the sprinkler, digging in the sandbox, outside dinners and picnic lunches, it's so much FUN for them. You can see how much they love the freedom of it...no coats, hats or mittens, running free and being wild - who wouldn't love that!

Unfortunately, due to the extreme heat we've had this year, we haven't gotten to enjoy being outside as much as I would like do...it's just been too much for the kids (and their pregnant Mommy!) but we have had a few fun days, and the first thing my little ones want to do is play in the pool! I thought I'd share a few pictures with you from one of our summer play days outside :) 

Charlie prefers to sit on the slide rather than go down it ;)

keeping cool!




my handsome boy!!

taking a juice break :)

....and a Popsicle break :) 


Even Daddy got in on the action!

It's so easy for us to complain about the seasons, winter is too cold, summer's too hot...it's easy to get wrapped up in the inconvenience of it all - I know I do!  But watching my children play makes me realize that we need to enjoy the seasons as our do - soak up every moment because time flies by so quickly!

If it's too hot outside, fix a nice glass of lemonade and go run through the sprinkers with your kids!  Maybe snow isn't fun to drive in - but it IS fun to build a snowman, then share some hot chocolate and cookies together with your family.  I always find myself wishing for the next season, wanting cold when it's hot or hot when it's cold, but slowly...slowly I'm learning to step back, and take life one day at a time.  Enjoy the summer when it's hot because you'll be dreaming of it in the cold of the winter.  Things could be so much worse for us all.  But a lot of us have homes, air conditioning, and people to enjoy it all with...there are so many out there who do not!

We had a big power outage here earlier this month and over the Fourth of July holiday.  We were SO lucky to have been able to keep ours (we'd lost power twice before in our home, once for 9 days and once for 6 days!) but there were people suffering through the hottest temperatures of the year with no power, no air conditioning, and no groceries.  Things can ALWAYS be worse. 

So go play outside with your little ones today, or read a book in the sunshine, or if you're lucky enough to get some, go dance in the rain!  Enjoy every minute of your day today!  That's my goal as well!!  Have a great one!!



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