Normally, to get inspiration to start this post, I would type something like “funny graduation” into a search engine and scroll through the images, gifs and videos.
I have a fabulous sense of humor, but I cannot find anything funny about all of the students around the world who have missed out on the traditional events in their senior year. Their parents are hurting, too.
That’s why there’s that video of a bird getting his dance groove on. Funny.
I am heartened to see so many schools coming up with unique ways to celebrate graduation and make it special for the seniors. Definitely a challenge in these weird times.
If you have a senior in your life, here is a cheerful cupcake you can make to salute them.
Graduation Cap Cupcakes
1 (16.25 oz.) box cake mix prepared (I used red velvet)
24 cupcake liners (your school colors)
2 (16 oz) tubs vanilla icing
1 cup chocolate chips to melt and use as “glue”
24 Ghirardelli squares (I used dark chocolate raspberry)
24 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
24 red M&M’s candies
1 bag Cherry Twizzlers pull ‘n’ peel candy
1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Line 24 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
2. Prepare cake mix and bake as directed on the box for cupcakes. Set aside to cool completely.
3. Using a piping bag fitted with a 2A round tip, pipe icing onto cooled cupcakes.
4. Pull Twizzlers apart into individual ropes. Cut each rope into 2-inch long pieces. You will need 48 pieces (two for each cap).
5. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips on high for 1 minute then stir until melted. Pour into a small re-sealable plastic bag. Cut a tiny hole in corner of the bag.
6. Unwrap the chocolate squares and peanut butter cups. Place all the peanut butter cups upside-down on two trays. Squeeze a little melted chocolate on top of each peanut butter cup and place a chocolate square on top to create the “cap.”
7. Use a dab of the melted chocolate to attach the M&M candies and Twizzler “tassels” to the top of each “cap”. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate has set.
8. Top each frosted cupcake with a graduation cap.
Note: If transporting the cupcakes, do not place chocolate caps on top of cupcakes until you arrive as they may slide off while being moved. Instead assemble at your destination.
While I can’t get help with all of your quarantine woes, I can share this delicious recipe to make your day a little bit better.
Salted Caramel Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Bars.
Mmmmmmm….Let that sink in for a minute.
This sweet treat tastes as good as it sounds and makes A LOT. Salty, sweet, chewy, buttery…yum.
Salted Caramel Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
3/4 cup butter
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
14-ounce bag soft caramels, unwrapped (not caramel sauce)
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a 13 x 9-inch pan with foil or parchment paper. Lightly grease the bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add the butter. Whisk constantly until brown bits appear on the bottom, about 4 minutes. (The butter will melt, foam, then become clear golden before finally starting to turn brown. Stir frequently and do not leave the butter unattended as it goes from perfect brown to burned very quickly.) Remove skillet from heat and let butter cool completely, about 20 minutes.
3. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda and salt to the browned butter and stir until evenly combined.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the flour and chocolate chips.
4. Scatter about 2/3 of the dough, in large pieces, across the bottom of the prepared pan. Press into as even a layer as possible.
5. Combine the unwrapped caramels and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in one minute increments, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted and smooth (Be careful not to burn).
6. Spread the warm caramel over the cookie dough in the pan. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired. Sprinkle teaspoon-size pieces of remaining cookie dough across the caramel.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes until the cookie dough is golden (The bars will be very gooey coming out of the oven but will set up as they cool). Cool completely before cutting into squares.
It’s probably about that time in this quarantine universe where dinner ideas are met with a chorus of “Nahs” because everyone really just wants to go to a restaurant.
Well, that’s not going to happen for awhile, unfortunately. So here’s a fun dinner idea to shake up the meal train. Just doctor up some boxed mac and cheese and bake in muffin cups with a meatball thrown in. Easy and tasty.
Mini Mac & Cheese Meatball Cups
1 pkg (225g) Kraft Dinner Macaroni and Cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
12 frozen fully cooked turkey meatballs (1 inch)
1 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. Prepare Kraft Dinner as directed on package. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup mozzarella and stir until melted. Stir in egg.
3. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
4. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of Parmesan into each cup of the prepared muffin tin. Divide macaroni and cheese mixture into the muffin tin then press 1 meatball into each cup.
5. Bake 15 minutes or until meatballs are heated through.
6. Top with remaining mozzarella and bake for 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, heat pasta sauce as directed on label. Serve mac and cheese cups topped with sauce.
If you have a few minutes in between all of the hand washing, here’s an easy dessert for you to make.
Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert is exactly what it sounds like. Ice cream sandwiches are layered with Cool Whip, fudge sauce and chopped nuts. You can even make it ahead up to two months, but these days you’re more likely to eat it all on the way to the freezer.
Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert
18 or 19 ice cream sandwiches
12 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 jar (11-3/4 ounces) hot fudge ice cream topping
1 cup salted almonds
1. Line bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9-inch pan with a single layer of ice cream sandwiches, cutting to fit as necessary.
2. Spread with half of the whipped topping. Spoon fudge topping by teaspoonfuls onto whipped topping. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts.
3. Repeat layers with remaining ice cream sandwiches, whipped topping and almonds.
4. Cover and freeze for up to 2 months. Cut into squares to serve.
Chocolate and peanut butter can’t cure all the ills in the world, but they can certainly make you feel a little better. These Chocolate Peanut Butter Globs are packed with rich chocolate flavor and crammed with loads of nuts and chips. They melt in your mouth while at the same time providing a satisfying crunch.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Globs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder such as Medaglia d’Oro
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole walnut halves (not chopped)
1 cup whole pecan halves (not chopped)
2/3 cup peanut butter chips, such as Reese’s
1. Preheat oven to 325℉. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl set over simmering water, melt the butter, 6 ounces of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, espresso powder, and vanilla until combined. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until the batter is thick and falls back on itself in a ribbon. Set aside.
4. With the mixer on low, slowly add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture.
5. Combine the 1/3 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
6. Fold flour mixture into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula.
7. In another bowl, combine the walnuts, pecans, peanut butter chips, the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate chips, and the tablespoon of flour and fold it into the chocolate mixture.
8. Use 2 soup spoons to drop rounded mounds of batter 1-inch apart onto the prepared sheet pans.
9. Bake cookies for exactly 15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets.
Cincinnati-based band Carriers debut album is titled “Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else”.
Say that aloud.
‘Patience’ was released almost a year ago, but couldn’t be more perfect for what is happening in the world right now. To quote band member Curt Kiser, “Overall it’s about appreciating what we have and remaining present, while still being able to have an honest perspective of the past and our future. I’m just trying to accept what happens and handle it the best I can.”
I hope that all of you and your families are doing alright. Stay safe and be well. Sending love from my kitchen to yours.
If ever there was a need for comfort food, it is right now. This Chicken Pot Pie Casserole is super easy to make, will warm you up and will hopefully make you feel better.
Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
3 Tbs olive oil
4 cups mixed vegetables (I used frozen peas, carrots, green beans and corn. You can use fresh, of course.)
1 onion, chopped
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 can (10.5 oz) cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1 (9 inch) refrigerated pie crust
1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease a 9-inch round baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add mixed vegetables and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the chicken, chicken broth, soup, milk and flour. Mix well and cook over medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Pour the chicken mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with the pie crust, letting the edges hang over the sides of the dish. Crimp the crust a little then use a sharp knife to cut a few slits into the dough.
5. Place baking dish on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
I spend a lot of my time listening to new music. But when I need to pull myself up, it’s usually something older that goes on the stereo.
To say I was obsessed with ‘Waving Flags’ by British Sea Power would be an understatement. It’s been 12 years since I first heard it and those first 5 seconds still transport me to a place that only music can take me.
Somehow the cry for kindness and unity that ‘Waving Flags’ delivers seems so right at this moment.
“We’re all waving flags now
But don’t be scared”
Since the lead singer is very easy on the eyes, sharing the video gives you some visual happiness, too. That voice, those drums, the insane build-ups….brilliant.
Turn it up.
Check out British Sea Power on the band’s Website where you can buy their music.
If you are looking for an easy breakfast recipe to feed a crowd, this Blueberry Streusel Pancake Casserole is for you. It uses store-bought pancakes that you wedge into a casserole dish with blueberries, soak with vanilla scented custard then cover with a sweet streusel. Served with a lashing of orange maple syrup, it makes waking up extra special.
Blueberry Streusel Pancake Casserole
1-1/4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided
18 (4 inch) frozen buttermilk pancakes, thawed and halved
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla
Streusel (recipe follows)
Orange Maple Syrup (recipe follows)
1. Grease a 2 quart baking dish.
2. Place 3/4 cup blueberries in prepared dish.
3. Arrange pancake halves upright, with the cut side down, over the blueberries.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, half-and-half, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour over the pancakes and let stand for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350℉.
6. Crumble the streusel over the pancakes and top with remaining 1/2 cup blueberries.
7. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until set, about 20 minutes longer.
8. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm with the orange maple syrup.
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
2 Tbs brown sugar, packed
2 Tbs butter, melted
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats and brown sugar.
2. Add the melted butter and stir just until combined.
Orange Maple Syrup
1-1/2 cups maple syrup
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1. In a small saucepan, bring maple syrup and orange juice to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Remove syrup from heat and stir in zest. Serve warm.
These songs are up for listening purposes and only for a short period of time. Like what you hear? Then please support the artist and buy the music. If you're an artist or label who wants the song taken down, please let me know.