Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Holiday Leftovers: Sweet Potato and Cranberry Muffins

There's something about a newborn baby at Christmas time that makes me feel nostalgic.  The first holiday season we had our oldest was unlike one I had ever experienced.  I could relate to Mary on a whole new level as I sat up late at night nursing my two month old and rocking him to sleep.  Don't get me wrong, I was dead tired and did not always enjoy those late night feedings.  But there are a few that I remember sitting in his room and this feeling of complete joy washed over me.  Children bring a joy like no other and I can only imagine the immense amount of joy Mary felt knowing her child was going to be the Savior of the world.  I wanted to hold onto that joy and feeling all throughout the year!  I love decorating for Christmas because it's a visual reminder of the joy and hope that was given to us.  I'm always reluctant to put them away because I'm afraid that in the chaos of the year to come, I'll forget.  I'm holding on as tight as I can.  Dear Jesus, help me remember in every season of the year that you are the reason for the season!

As I'm strategizing how I'm going to store my growing collection of Christmas decor, I'm also strategizing how I'm going to use up my leftovers!  I had a couple of sweet potatoes in the pantry that needed to be used, a tad bit of flour left in my jar and a bag of cranberries in my freezer so I set to work figuring out how to use these items up.  Apparently I need to go grocery shopping.  I found lots of great sweet potato muffin recipes but none seemed to suite my taste.  The closest I found was from Taste of Home.  While the recipe looked delicious, I wanted to make some changes to make this muffin a little more clean.  So I adapted it to be a clean recipe that hopefully you will enjoy!  We certainly did!


1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large egg
3/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup cold baked sweet potato
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup fresh cranberries or 1 cup frozen cranberries that have been thawed


1.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, add all of dry ingredients and whisk until combined. 
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. 
3.  Add wet to dry and mix on low until combined.  Gently fold in whole cranberries.
4.  Pour batter into jumbo muffin pan lined with parchment paper or jumbo muffin liners.
5.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. (reduce time for regular sized muffins to 15-20 minutes.

I absolutely LOVE making jumbo muffins!  I don't think I'll ever go back!  I bought myself a handy dandy ice cream scoop for my cupcake/muffin and it has helped consistency in baking and size.  Definitely worth the $5. 

Also, how cute is the parchment paper?  I cut these a little big, but I wasn't sure how big to make them.  All I did was take a sheet of parchment paper and cut it into 4 pieces. 

My test if a muffin recipe is good or not is if the paper peels away without taking half the muffin with it!  That's the worst!  These muffins passed my test, but just barely. They are pretty moist with both the sweet potato and cranberries.  

Sweet, tart and delicious!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mini Red Velvet Bundt Cakes + FREE Printables

When I have an idea, it's only a matter of time before it's executed.  I had a grand idea to make mini bundt cakes for my husband to take into work for his birthday, but unfortunately the idea came too late.  A few weeks ago, while shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond, I found this glorious mini bundt pan and once again, there in the store...the ideas started flowing.  Mini bundt cakes for Christmas.  So we threw the pan into the cart, checked out with our 20% off coupon and headed home.  I debated over flavors for a few days and landed on red velvet because, hello, it's Christmas!  As I thought how I'd package these cuties together and what the tag would say, the phrase "We hope you have nothing bundt a Merry Christmas".  It may not be new to some of you, but it was new and original to me!  Sure I could have sent in plain un-packaged mini red velvet bundt cakes to work with my husband, and sure they would have appreciated them.  But you know how I am about my packaging, and for good reason. So I took my time roaming up and down the aisles of Hobby Lobby until I settled on my plan.  The result was well worth it!  My husband's co-workers RAVED about how adorable they were and how delicious the bundt cake was.  A gift with-in a gift.

I had a blast making these tags, so much so I couldn't leave well enough alone.  I never do.  I made tags that could be used for birthdays, thank-yous, teachers and even realtors.  (If I had emoji's on my keyboard I'd insert the laughing-so-hard-I'm-crying one here).

I layered the tags with a coordinating polka dot tag underneath.  Adding a second layer to the tag adds a whole other dimension of cuteness that I couldn't pass up.

When I saw it all come together, I was a giddy little school girl.  They all turned out so dang ca-ute!

I know what you're thinking, do I have to make my own bundt cakes?  Can't I buy them?  Yup, of course you can!  If you have a Nothing Bundt Cake store around, I'd swing buy and pick them up!  I have to say I was really tempted to do so, but you know me.  I love a challenge.

Let's break these cuties down.  

The recipe I used came from Over Time Cook. This recipe made about 29 mini bundt cakes (30 if I scraped the bowl in desperation....but I wasn't desperate so I didn't).  I used my small cookie scoop to measure batter evenly.  Each was filled halfway with batter.  My frosting recipe is my own, I honestly never really use a recipe (surprise, surprise) but I this time I wrote it down!

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese at room temp
2 sticks butter at room temp
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract
2-3 cups of powder sugar

Whip until fluffy and scoop into a piping bag with the end cut off.  Easy and delicious.  I try not to make mine too sweet because usually the baked good it's going on is rich, so I try to keep the sweetness to a minimum.  Start with less sugar and then add more until it's to your desired sweetness.

 Once the cakes were cool, I piped a dollop of frosting in the center.

I placed a jumbo sized cupcake wrapper in the snack cup to prevent oils from soaking into the cup. It would have ruined the whole thing, so I'm glad I did!

I very gently, shimmied the cup into the bag.

The next series of pictures, runs through how I attached the spoon and the tag to the bag.  It was a tedious process! 

Loop twine around spoon.

Add tag.

 Loosely tie tulle ONE time.

Loop tag and tie.

Tighten tulle and tie a second time.

One down, 23 to go.

The cups and wooden spoons came from Hobby Lobby.  They were both on an end cap for a burlap themed party.  They also have wooden spools with a chevron design on the handle.  (I used those in my Oatmeal Raisin Froyo post).  They also have a variety of colors of snack cups, but for Christmas I went with plain brown and added color with the tulle and tag. 

These were absolutely so fun to make and I hope you end up making them for someone too!  Whether it's for your child's teacher, a co-worker or a client these will bring a smile to their face! And by all means, if you're not a baker, buy a bundt cake!

See what I mean about oil spots?  How horrible would it have been if the cups would have been soaked?  It would have ruined the whole thing!  So please line the cups!


For the printables, I included only a .pdf of my Christmas tags but made .png files of the rest.  That way you can create your own sheet in a document program and even make your own stickers just by adding the image onto the template.  Click on each picture to download!










I hope you have nothing bundt a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday Gift Wrap

I can't even tell you how much I love gift wrap.  Whether it's for Christmas, birthdays or a simple card...I love making gifts just as special on the outside as they are on the inside.  I think back to when I was a kid and every year we'd get the Christmas tree out of our musty Midwestern basement.  We would sort the branches by color, then fluff the branches, one by one.  My dad would tell us what color he was ready for and we would bring them at his request.  Next came the lights.  We would untangle for what seemed hours, maybe even days, no matter how hard we tried to keep them neat the year before.  You know what I mean.  And while we were busy with the tree, my mom would ready the ornaments.  We had a hodge podge of ornaments from homemade to collectibles.  We would stand back in awe at our creation! Then as my parents would go Christmas shopping in the weeks to come, presents would slowly appear under the tree.  I was the nosy one and liked to try and sneak a peek (sorry mom and dad, that was me who ripped a hole in my Tinkle Bell lip gloss set.)  My sister and I would lay in bed playing the "I'll tell you yours if you tell me mine" game and I would fall for her tricks every year.  Every year I would divulge her presents and excitedly listen as she would say, "no, I don't want to tell you" or if she was feeling particularly sinful, she would make them up.  Cruel, sis.  Just cruel!  But after falling for her evil schemes year after year, I have finally learned.  Our phone conversation tonight went a little like,
me: "I'm so excited about your Christmas present!"
sis: "What is it?"
me: "I'm not telling!"
sis: "Come on, I'll tell you what I got you!"
me: "No, way!"

I think we've just made it apart of our Christmas traditions. 

But back to gift wrap. Back then, gift wrap was simple.  Just wrapping paper and a tag made from folded pieces of wrapping paper.  I remember as we got older, my dad would buy the "real" gift tags from the store.  And then there was the year that he came home with a bag of multi-colored bows.  I thought I was in heaven getting to match the bows with the wrapping paper.  Now that I am all grown-up and starting traditions of my own, bow matching, ribbon tying and all that is involved makes me just as giddy and excited as it did then.

Last year, I kept it simple by wrapping in butcher paper I bought at the Dollar Tree.  I Googled my favorite Christmas chalkboard printables and then duplicated it on the wrapping paper with a chalkboard marker.


This year, I dressed up my gift wrap a little more.  For this year's Holiday Extravaganza at church, I was in charge of gift-wrap so I came up with what I think is some pretty spectacular gift wrap ideas and tips to share.  These are easy and simple ideas that anyone can do, which is one reason why I love them so much.  You didn't have to spend lavish amounts of money to dress up a gift.  I most certainly do not!

But first, let's talk about this tree set-up.  It's a mini 3-4 foot tree that I set on top of two produce crates.  I covered the crates with a few pieces of burlap and then covered the base of the tree with fabric garland.  I loved having the tree set on crates.  It allowed more room for gifts to be displayed and was the perfect place to put smaller gifts that are otherwise hidden.

I am in love with this Christmas tree garland from Hobby Lobby.  At 50% off, I couldn't resist and I'm glad I didn't!  I'm probably gonna need some more.

I found all of my tags on Pinterest!  I've shared my board below so you can snag them for yourself!

This one is probably one of my favorites.  I love the gold berries against the gold polka dot background.  


If you haven't noticed already, I used a lot of tulle this year!  I've never really been a fan of tulle until I went fabric shopping with a good friend of mine.  Now, I can't get enough.  My husband will probably never want to see tulle, glitter or gold polka dots ever again!

I used a Silhouette to make this Christmas tree using a Christmas tree font.   But if you don't have a Silhouette, you can still print the Christmas tree out on cardstock and make a template.

After I used these boxes for the event, I brought them back home to decorate.  I have them displayed with other Christmas decorations around the house.  Such an easy and inexpensive way to add Christmas to your home!

For printables and more gift wrap ideas, check out my Christmas Pinterest Board!

I hope you found some gift wrap inspiration!  Use these tips and ideas for any occasion!
When planning your gift wrap, don't forget this easy tips!