Saturday, October 31, 2015

Batman Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!!

This week has been filled with so many activities from my son's third birthday to a Trunk or Treat at church and making these cupcakes!  I made them for a couple at church who has a son that just turned one, so they had to be extra special!  These cupcakes took quite a bit of thought, planning and even more practice.  I still have some work to do on icing sugar cookies with royal icing, but I was really pleased with the outcome for being such a newbie.  I wanted to walk you through what I did for each step so hopefully you'll feel confident to make your own!


I started with a classic sugar cookie recipe and made sure to leave the dough pretty thick when I rolled it out.  I love thick sugar cookies but always seem to manage to roll them out to thin.  This time I paid close attention.  The royal icing is really hard to figure out, especially if you just find directions online.  Reading can only teach you so much, practice is what perfects something like royal icing.  I'm still working on it, but this is only the 3rd or 4th time I've used royal icing so I still don't have it down yet.  My sister says to use color flow instead of the meringue powder royal icing calls for (both in the specialty baking isle at Wal-Mart and major craft stores).  I may try color flow next time to see the difference.  If you have any suggestions, please help me out!  I kept the icing thicker to pipe the edges, then added more water to create a flow.  This is where I had problems.  The icing was still a little thick so I had to spread it out with my icing spatula.  You can see that instead of being the same height as the border, it actually turned out to be a little thicker.  Adding more water also affected the color of the icing, but of course I had run out of black.  I ended up using 1 1/2 bottles of black icing from Hobby Lobby, and could have used a full 2 or 2 1/2.  Adding sprinkles to the wet icing helped to hide any inconsistencies as the frosting dried.

I followed Wilton's Royal Icing recipe.  It's says to use 6 tablespoons of water but I ended up using close to a cup of water to create the piping edge and then even more for the flow in the middle.

The cookie cuter came from a local cake decorating place.  There are several types of sets you can buy online.  You can always buy a Batman candy mold and use Candy Melts to make a topper!  Use your imagination!

I have said it once and you can guarantee I'll say it again, Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake  recipe is perfect and is incredible easy!  You probably have the ingredients in your pantry already.  I have used it so much this week that I have it memorized!  I used a jumbo cake pan and liners I bought from Hobby Lobby.  Note to self, buy another jumbo cupcake pan.  It only makes 6 at a time.  SIX!

Butter.  Vanilla.  Powdered Sugar. Gold Gel Food Coloring (from HL).  That's it.  I used 2 full cups of butter and added powdered sugar until I was satisfied with the sweetness, about 3-4 cups. To pipe the frosting, I put it in a frosting bag and snipped the tip off, making about a 1/2-3/4 inch hole to pipe the frosting through.  I didn't want this frosting to have height because I was putting cookies on it, so I started from the outside and made a flat swirl towards the middle.   Then I just lightly pressed the cookie on top.

I'm not gonna lie, these were NOT easy to make and I had some hiccups with frosting the cookies, but for the level of difficulty and my amateur skill level, I was very pleased with the outcome and I hope the family is too!  Through this, I have definitely opened up the door to a whole new way to make cupcakes!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Birthday Boy Celebration

I think it's time to buy wrinkle cream.  As of today, I have a 3 year old.  Unbelievable.  This year we celebrated extremely low key.  We had a family trip to Flagstaff last weekend to play in the leaves and yesterdat (the big day) we spent the morning with Oma eating donuts, enjoying the pumpkin patch and eating lunch at one of our birthday favorites.  As much as I enjoy planning and hosting, I really do enjoy low key celebrations. 

But no birthday, big or small, low or high key is complete without dessert.  We had a get together with friends from church tonight, so we all gathered at the end of the night to sing Happy Birthday and eat cupcakes.  The house was filled with adults laughing, children running around like crazy yelling "I need a weapon!" and "It hurts at trillion!" when they got hurt from said weapon.  Though I think my favorite part of the evening was when my own child whizzed by me in which my mom nose was stimulated by the scent of tooth paste.  I jumped up from my chair and ran to the bathroom to find a used tooth brush and what seemed like a half a tube of tooth paste squirted in the sink. We of course left our tooth brushes at home, leaving the only possibility of ownership to be our gracious hosts. Oh the joys of motherhood.  So thankful to be surrounded by a community to help encourage us, hug us and tell us, "it's okay, I'll just throw the toothbrush in the dishwasher to disinfect it".  Thanks C. 

What I love about birthdays of young ones is that you get to decide everything :)  The activities and food always default to some of my favorites like my chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting.  Of course I say it's my favorite but the yums interspersed with moments of wows and silence lead me to believe that these quickly become others favorite too.  It's a recipe I have shared before and because they are so incredibly amazing, I'm sharing them AGAIN!

This Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe will forever and always be my go to. 

Chocolate Cupcakes


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee  <----- adaption
Does it need the coffee?  No.  Should you add the coffee instead of boiling water?  Yes.  


1.  Stir dry ingredients together.
2.  Add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and mix until combine.
3.  Pour in coffee and mix together, scraping down the side of the bowl.  (batter is thin)
4.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter in cupcake pans.
5.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. 
Yes!  It's that easy!  And the frosting is just as easy though it can be time consuming.

Salted Caramel Frosting


1 lb. of butter
1 1/2 cup caramel*
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t salt 
*To make the caramel, peel off the wrapper of 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk.  DO NOT OPEN.  Put in a large pot and cover with water.  Boil for 3 hours, adding water as it evaporates.  After 3 hours, remove the cans and let cool completely. 
You can make homemade caramel which is less time consuming but a little tricky. (I've made this before.  It's knock your socks off amazing)

I'm sure you can use store bought caramel or melt down caramels, but why?


1.  Whip butter for 30 seconds on high.
2.  Add caramel and vanilla and whip for another 30 seconds.
3.  Slowly add powdered sugar and salt.  Continue whipping for another minute or so.
Frosting should be light and fluffy and should hold it's shape when you lift the beater out of the bowl.  If it needs to be stiffened, add more powdered sugar.
Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes. To pipe, I used a Wilton 1 M tip and a piping bag.  I started on the outside of the cupcake and lightly squeezed the bag as I moved around the cupcake in a circular motion, about 1 inch from the cupcake.  This is actually really easy to do!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Clean Iced Chai

Sometimes, I take too much on.  It's a weakness of mine.  I'm starting to read Hope for the Weary Mom.  I couldn't make it through the first chapter without crying my eyes out.  And craving coke and dark chocolate.  If you've read it, you'll understand.  I have what seems like an endless list of activities I have signed myself up for.  All because I love to help.  I love to be a part of things.  But I think that's my weakness.  Dare I tell you my weakness?  I am your typical words of affirmation people pleaser.  (gasping for air...deep heart is racing and I haven't even hit publish. Did I just say that out loud?)  Do I volunteer myself for these things because I'm dying for words of affirmation from people?  No, I do most of them because I love what it all entails.  And yes, if you want to think I'm amazing too, that would be great.  But the reality is, I'm feeling fresh out of amazing lately.  These last few weeks, while juggling my commitments, my toddler is morphing into a 3 year old thrower of tantrums, sending me into a bottomless pit of despair where it's so deep I'm afraid people won't be able to see me waving my white flag.  But there, in that pit, where I feel the most alone, is where God meets me and shows me that it's His grace that is amazing, not me.  Time and time again we have a habit at meeting in that pit. If I am strong all the time, I have no need of His all encompassing grace.  And I guarantee you, I don't ever what to lose that.  So, I guess from now on, I'll be weak.  Because when I am weak, He is strong.

I recently posted a recipe for my favorite clean iced coffee, which people loved!  But if you're not a coffee drinker, don't worry, I've got you covered.  I know several people who loved iced chais and a few have requested a clean version, such as my lovely sister.  I, myself, am trying to take as much of a break from coffee as I can and am looking for some better alternatives.  Today was my first day.  We'll see how tomorrow goes.  Is black tea really better than coffee?  I don't know.  Maybe.  I guess it all depends what you put in it.  This one is clean as a whistle.  There are different diets so whichever category you are in, you can easily adjust this recipe per your diet.  Use splenda instead of raw sugar, or brown sugar instead of raw if you don't care about that sort of thing...or hey, you can even use maple syrup if you want an extra dash of fall.

What I love about this drink is that it isn't overly sweet. I used to love chai lattes from Starbucks but now the sweetness just kills me.  Whether I bought the concentrate in the box or fresh from the store, I could never finish the whole thing because it was so sickly sweet to me.  But this is perfect, the raw sugar adds a hint of sweetness, not too much and not too little.  I topped with extra pumpkin pie spice and stirred it with a cinnamon stick to add even more spice.  This is heavenly, you're gonna love every sip of it.  How do I know?  I made two today.

So here is the recipe, you're welcome.


3 bags of your favorite chai tea
10 ounces of HOT water
4 packets of raw sugar
Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
pumpkin pie spice
cinnamon stick


1.  Prepare tea, using 3 tea bags in 10 ounces of hot water (I used the large cup setting on my Keurig which measures 10 ounces).
2.  Immediately add sugar and stir to dissolve.
3.  Let tea steep for 5-7 minutes. The longa, the stronga.
4.  Fill a large glass full to the top of ice and pour halfway-three quarters with tea.
5.  Add almond milk and top with pumpkin pie spice and stir with cinnamon stick.

And because it was naptime, I took ALOT of pictures.  So enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Granola

Today is the first day it has actually felt like fall!  I debated whether or not to hop in my car drive to my favorite coffee joint and indulge in a pumpkin spice latte.  But I didn't.  But I did go to Hobby Lobby and pick out fabric for my Christmas tree garland.  I can't wait to get started on it and show you!  I think that's why I love fall so much, because I spend the whole season in anticipation for the most wonderful time of the year!  I just finished up a few gift wrap ideas I'll be sharing with you too.  But I'm getting off track.  Today is about fall.  Fall decorations and fall treats!  While I didn't get my pumpkin spice fix in coffee form, I did get it in the form of this delicious homemade granola.

I know what you're thinking.  Is it clean?  Umm, sure.  There is one ingredient you can adjust to make it clean...the sugar!  I used brown sugar in this recipe which you can easily exchange for either more maple syrup, raw sugar or stevia.  This is such a delicious recipe, you're gonna love it!


2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup almond slices
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 T vanilla 
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t cinnamon
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (one heaping 1/4 cup that maybe 1/3 cup for you exactos)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup white chocolate chips


1.  In a sauce pan, bring syrup and sugar to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.  
2.  Turn heat off and add coconut oil, stir until melted.  Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
3.  In a bowl, add oats and almonds.  Pour pumpkin mixture over and stir to coat evenly.
4.  Spread onto baking sheet and cook at 325 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  
5.  Let cool completely and add cranberries and white chocolate chips.  

Serving cream, yogurt, in a bowl with cereal...basically with any white form of dairy is good ;)  I loved this over yogurt with a little honey.  I've been on a granola and yogurt kick for breakfast lately and the store bought kinds just aren't cutting it for me!  Too much sugar or too much cardboard. 

This is perfectly sweet!  I absolutely love pumpkin with white chocolate.  You're gonna think I'm crazy but this is the first year I've tried the combination and IT BLEW MY MIND.  I know most people like chocolate and pumpkin but the thought repulses me.  Please do not bring me pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, ever.  But pumpkin white chocolate cookies?  Yes, please. 

Now are you ready for some fall decor? I have a few fall decor items but what I generally do is take something I already use and add a fall flare.  I snatched these flower pots from a shelf in my entryway and wrapped them with what I call "wreath fillers", or the "little colored ball things".  You may have a more sophisticated name, but I do not.  In place of the pots in the entryway, I have a few fall knick-knacks.

What looks to be like a crate is actually 3 wooden frames I was making.  As I was cleaning up after an afternoon of working in the garage, I stacked them on top of each other and thought, "Hey!  I like how that looks!" So I made a new set for my table.  All it is is 1x3s glued together, how easy is that?  I was going to glue all 3 pieces together, but decided to keep them separate so I can use them in different ways. 

Believe it or not, I actually made the sign ;)  I saw something similar at Hobby Lobby one day and came home inspired to make one of my own.  I painted the stripes then used my wood transfer technique to transfer on the design, then painted over in gold.  I should have been patient and used a Silhouette to create cleaner lines but I'm still happy with the outcome. 

I absolutely adore this chevron burlap my MIL gave me.  I used it to make a wreath for my front door and had just enough left over.  I love chevron.  I always try to fit it in somewhere.

This was my first wreath I've ever made!  I liked the simplicity of having just the burlap.  I don't like a lot of foo-foo stuff so I kept it pretty traditional, which works perfectly on my front door. 

I've only recently begun decorating my front porch. I have had so much fun these past few months adding pops of color to create a welcoming appeal. For a second, I thought to paint my chalkboard a more fall color then decided against it.  I love the color and just didn't have the heart to change it!

I keep adding and rearranging here and there.  Do you ever do that?  I was just talking with one of my favorite people about how we arrange something, walk by, stare at it, arrange it, walk away, turn around and stare at it, leave it, walk by again and rearrange again.  There should be a support group for people like us.  

So, this is what fall at my house looks like.  Nothing too fancy, just enough to make it feel like Christmas is coming!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Coffee Addict {Clean Vanilla Iced Coffee}

My name is Melodee.  And I am a coffee addict.  But I probably didn't need to tell you that.  If you see me every Sunday and any day in between I'm toting around my iced vanilla coffee from my favorite place with the green straw.  Last Saturday as we were venturing out to go car shopping, my husband was getting ready to turn in the opposite direction of my green straw store and I stopped him and said sheepishly (as if he'd be surprised by my request), "uh, can we get coffee?"  Unsure of his reply, I was relieved when he turned to go the right way.  As we got down the road, I turned to him and said, "honey, are you annoyed that I asked to get coffee?"  And his response is why I married him.  He said, "I'd rather spend the $3 than have a cranky wife".  I couldn't stop laughing because IT.IS.TRUE!  But I realize that drinking that much coffee with all my vanilla syrup and cream isn't good for me.  I can feel it at the end of the day.  I feel even more tired and weighed down by the heaviness of the cream and syrup.  So, since starting on my clean eating adventure, I've come up with a perfect iced coffee to make at home.

Now, I've made iced coffee at home for quite a while and it turns out different every I end up tossing it.  How wasteful!  I thought, why oh why am I having such a hard time making a good cup of coffee?!  Surely it's not that hard!  Well, my dear friends.  I discovered that following the directions on the pack of coffee makes all the difference in the world.  Are you laughing at me?  Shaking your head and saying, "you're kidding me right?!"  But it's true.  I have a terrible time reading directions but since I did, I now make the perfect cup of coffee.

You'll probably read my directions and think, "girl, you make this way more complicated than it needs to be!"  And you're probably right.  But I'm picky.  I don't like the taste of coffee when you pour it over ice while it's still piping hot.  It tastes terrible!  So I will brew it 1 of 2 ways.

1.  Cold Brew:  In my french press, I add 2 tablespoons of coffee to 6 ounces of water and let sit over night, leaving the plunger up.  In the morning I press the plunger all the way down.  Then set a filter in a strainer that sits on top of a bowl and pour the coffee through to strain away all the grit.  You don't have to do the second strain, it's just my preference.  I could probably avoid it if I used a coarser ground coffee. If you have a coffee pot (I don't) you can strain it through a filter that way.  Just pour directly into the filter and let it pour into the pot.  After it's strained, I pour in a glass, add ice, creamer and enjoy!

2.  Hot Brew: In my french press, I add 2 tablespoons of coffee to 3 ounces of hot water and stir.  (I usually double or triple this batch).  I let sit while I'm getting the boy's breakfast ready, about 5-10 minutes.  Then I press the plunger down, stir and pour the coffee through my filter.  I temper the coffee by adding the same amount of water as I used to make the coffee. (If you make it with 6 ounces of hot water, add 6 ounces of cool water.  Or add 12 ounces if you started with 12oz).  If I want a stronger coffee, I won't add as much cool water.  I have found that tempering the hot coffee makes a less bitter taste when pouring over ice.  Then I prepare how I like it and enjoy.

I have an Iced Coffee Brewer on my Christmas List so hopefully my methods will be simplified!  Haha!  But then I'll have to learn a new method all over again.  Don't worry, I'll read the directions the first time.

There are brews that are more suitable for iced coffee.  One of my favorites is Kati-Kati, found at Starbucks usually during the summer.  The coarseness of the grind really does matter, especially if you use a french press.  If you grind it fresh in  the store, make sure you pay attention to the grinder setting. I place the extra in a mason jar and keep it in the fridge.  I don't make big batches because I don't like the taste of the coffee as it sits in the fridge all week.  If I sound really picky, it's because I am.

But now let's talk about creamer.  Yes, I love vanilla syrup and half and half and it was hard for me to even think about anything else in my morning cup of joe.  But not any more!  I love this way even more than my vanilla and cream.


12 ounces unsweetened vanilla almond milk or almond creamer (or unsweetened vanilla milk of choice)
4 packets of Raw Sugar

1.  While brewing your coffee, add the sugar to the almond milk. Stir to dissolve.
2.  Add to iced coffee.  (I usually do a 1:1 ratio).
3.  Stir and enjoy!

Note: If you are on the 21 Day Fix, you'll want to limit your sugar to two teaspoons since that is what you are allotted each day.  Some are strict and count their almond milk as a yellow container, but I kept it as a freebie.  No since in using a container for 30 calories.  If you use almond milk in your coffee, consider using water for your Shakeology for the day. Or if an additional 30 calories doesn't bother you, then use it in both.  Just don't be too careless and keep your serving size to 1 cup.