Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dark Chocolate Chewies



Almost a month since I last posted - I should probably work on this. In my defense, the past month has been one of the hardest to date. I would get into detail, but there is just too much to explain. All you need to know is that I had to leave my previous job and I am currently trying to find a new teaching position. Sometimes in life you have to accept when something is all wrong for you and fight for what you deserve. I have not had an easy time since joining the teaching profession, to say the least. It has continually been one bad thing after another. At times I really have asked myself if God was trying to send me a message. I felt like perhaps teaching wasn't the field I was meant to be in, even though I have longed to be a teacher since I was a child. However, in my heart I know that is not the case. I am a good teacher. It just happens I am a good teacher that has ended up in very negative situations. At this point in my life, it is make it or break it time. I do not want to leave a field I am passionate about simply because I can't seem to get a break. So, I have decided to begin a new journey - finding a school and a teaching position that is right for me. A place where I am supported, happy, and truly becoming the best teacher I can be. 


At times it is hard not to feel a tiny bit bitter. I see many people placed into teaching positions they love directly out of school and it is hard not to be jealous. For some, a great teaching career occurs from the start, which makes it that much harder to understand why I have experienced such struggles. I find myself wishing that things had been different for me. But, fact is that they weren't - and I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I am a very strong person because of these past experiences. From here on out, I am keeping a positive mindset. Friday I had a second interview for my dream teaching position. The school is well known for being one of the best in Sarasota county, and has received 10 consecutive A grades. Even if I am not offered this position, it was simply an honor to have even been considered, especially for a second interview. I am praying and hoping, but if this isn't where I am meant to be, I am positive I will find my way. 

Naturally I am a little bummed, but what always makes me feel better? Chocolate! A super cool chick (who just happens to be our wedding photographer) suggested that I bake something to feel better. I took her advice! These cookies are one of my favorites, and super easy to make. Non-chocolate lovers need not apply.


Dark Chocolate Chewies

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces), divided
 
3 large egg whites, room temperature
 
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
 (I used 2 cups)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
 
1 tablespoon cornstarch
 
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly. Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 (I halved the sugar here) cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme.

Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. Add lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dough will become very stiff). Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies


It has been so long since I last posted that I think I may have forgotten how to do this! What a crazy couple of weeks. The end of summer for a teacher is never boring, to say the least. 

Teacher life has kept me out of the kitchen for over 2 weeks (gasp), but I am here now to provide you with a sweet treat that combines two of my favorite things - chocolate and peanut butter! 

Introducing Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies!



Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Adapted from Southern Living
  • (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups biscuit mix
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • (9-ounce) package milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped 

  • Combine milk add peanut butter, stirring until smooth; stir in vanilla. Add biscuit mix, stirring well. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in sugar, and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make an indentation in center of each ball of dough with thumb or spoon handle.
  1. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from oven, and press a chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Southwest Pasta Salad


Dear Blog,
I am sorry that I have neglected you for the past 12 days. I realize that you must have missed me terribly and that our time apart was as hard for you as it was for me. I wish that I could tell you a witty reason for my absence, but all I can say is shit life happens. However, in attempts to right my wrong, here is a delicious, colorful and flavor-packed pasta salad.

Love,
Sabrina


Hi friends! Did you miss me? Better yet, do you like pasta salad? I sure do. Pasta salad is a staple for summer in my world. There is just something about chilled pasta mixed with creamy sauce and endless colorful, crisp veggies! When I found a recipe for this Southwest Pasta Salad, I couldn't resist. I tweaked it a bit, just to give it a touch of Sabrina-ness. Trust me when I say that this stuff was well liked. I think Ryan ate over 20 bowls of it. Not so much by choice, I doubled the recipe and ended up with enough pasta salad to feed the Chinese army. But hey, who's complainin' here?



Southwest Chicken Pasta Salad
Adapted from You Made That?
3 cups uncooked shell pasta
1/2 cup of frozen corn rinses and thawed
1/2 can drained and rinsed black beans
1/2 bell pepper chopped
1 large tomato chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
green onions or red onions chopped (I used both)
2 jalapenos diced
8 slices of cooked bacon chopped
2 chicken breasts grilled and chopped bite size (I used rotisserie chicken)
1/4 BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipolte BBQ Sauce)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 Ranch Dressing (I used Marie's)

Wash and prepare all the vegetables. Cook and chop bacon, chop grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken. Measure out 3 cups of dry uncooked medium shell pasta. Fill a large stock pot with water about 8 cups, add some salt and boil water. When water is boiling add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking mix the sauce together by combining the mayonnaise, BBQ sauce and ranch dressing in a small bowl. In a medium size bowl mix all the veggies together.

In a medium large bowl put cooked and cooled pasta, chicken and bacon in, then add the veggies and sauce. Stir the salad salad well and regrigerate for a few hours.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Star Spangled Sugar Cookies and Firework Pretzel Sticks


I hope that everyone had a great 4th of July holiday! I celebrated the birth of America with great friends, food, and lots of sunshine. I spent the day on Ft. Desoto beach and somehow only managed to come home a slightly darker color than off-white. I was at the beach for over 7 hours and didn't even get a tan! How does that happen!? I did however manage not to get a sunburn, which is rare for me. I guess next time I won't apply sunscreen every 30 minutes. It is a shame for a Floridian to be as white as I am. I could seriously give Casper a run for his money. I used to tan constantly, but I finally gave up in attempts to not resemble a strap of leather when I am 40. Oh, I almost forgot! My feet were attacked by an army of ants.


Despite the lack of tan and hundred ant bites, I had a really fun day! I don't know if I have said it before, but Ryan and I are a really goofy couple. We are two of a kind in every sense of the word, and our weirdness together is what makes us great (in my opinion). We went to Walmart a few days ago and really prepared for the 4th of July holiday. Below is a picture of Ryan in all his glory. And yes, he really wore this to the beach:



Look at that shirt - I have the best fiance ever, seriously! Any man who will wear that shirt out in public to see me smile is a keeper. I complimented Ryan's outfit by wearing a picnic table cloth patterned bathing suit, a giant t-shirt featuring a dog in a U.S Marines uniform with an American flag, and ridiculously tacky red, white, blue star earrings. Sexy would be an understatement.

When it comes to holidays I am a bit of a dork, I think it is the teacher in me. I love to make holidays fun and festive. So, when we were invited to a beach picnic for the 4th I knew I had to make some 4th of July worthy treats! First on the list? These star spangled red, white, and blue iced sugar cookies. Have you ever had a Loft House sugar cookie? (I always see them at Walmart). These cookies taste pretty much just like those. I am in love.


Sugar Cookies
Adapted from The Galley Gourmet
5 1/2 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream

In a large bowl whisk 5 1/2 cups of the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs; scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the sour cream until well blended. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture until a sticky dough forms. Add up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour to achieve a soft, but still slightly sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and shape into rectangles about 1 1/2 inches thick. Wrap each rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425ยบ F. Lightly flour a sheet of parchment or silicone pastry mat. Working with one rectangle of dough at a time, roll each out to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps and cut out.

Bake for 7 minutes until pale golden. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.


Cookie Icing
1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners' sugar
4-6 Tablespoons milk
Food coloring
Sprinkles/decorations

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar one cup at a time until smooth. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Add food coloring of your choice.

When the cookies are cool, frost the tops with the frosting and decorate with sprinkles.  Allow the cookies to set out until the frosting has set. Store in an airtight container between sheets of parchment for several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop.


Pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy!



My second treat is a staple in my house come any holiday. I love making candy coated pretzel sticks because they are easy, fun, and versatile for every holiday! When I make these, they do not last long. I find it funny that one of the easiest things to make is what everyone seems to fight over! I promise if you make these, you will become very popular at any party or event! 

Pretzel Sticks
Bag of pretzel rods
Candy melts, any flavor
Sprinkles, coconut, M&M's and any other toppings

Melt candy according to package directions. Using a knife, cover 3/4 of pretzel rod with candy coating and immediately cover with chosen toppings. Transfer decorated pretzel sticks to parchment paper until candy has hardened. 

The toppings are limitless, which makes these little things so fun! I thought the colors resembled fireworks. What do you think?


Awards!

I have been nominated for two blog awards this week, how awesome is that? I have to say that these awards are super exciting for me, as I only started Sugarly Ever After 2 months ago! I am so happy to know that readers are enjoying my blog and getting something out of it! It makes the entire experience so worthwhile and rewarding!




I've been awarded the Liebster Blog Award by the amazingly talented Emma of Food, Fork & Good. Not only does she post delicious recipes, but she is truly an inspiration with the weight loss achievements she has made. Having lost nearly 70lbs myself back in the day, I love reading her recipes because she truly makes healthy tasty! Go check out her blog, you will love it!



The rules of this award are:
1. Thank your nominator (and link back!) 
2. Nominate 5 other blogs, with less than 200 followers and post a comment on each blog letting them know they have been given the award. 
3. Copy and paste the award onto your blog.


I'd love to nominate:
1.) Laurie's Cravings
2.) It's the Cookie Monster
3.) Red Shallot Kitchen
4.) Little Lady of Mine
5.) Persnickety Plates


Congratulations!


I've also been awarded the Awesome Blogger Award by the lovely Laurie of Laurie's Cravings. She is another inspiring woman and I love following her blog! Thanks for the award, I am thrilled!




These are the lovely ladies I would love to nominate:
6.) Teacher by Day - Chef by Night
7.) The Daily Smash
8.) Awkward Kitchenette


These ladies always leave me sweet and motivating comments! They are on my must-read list, and I get so many wonderful ideas from all of them!








Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jalapeno Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes


I woke up today (at 11am) and didn't even know if it was Sunday or Monday. What is happening to me? This whole having the summer off thing is great, but it really is turning me lazy! I guess the go, go, go from the past school year really wore me out because I find no greater pleasure these days than sitting on my couch searching Pinterest (yes, I am addicted). You know what the problem is with Pinterest? It makes me hungry. I spend hours looking through delicious recipes and instead of working out or getting off of my butt, I sit and dream about all the yummy things I want to get in my belly. Which, usually leads to my making all of these things, eating them, and regretting it afterwards. 

In all honesty, Ryan eats the majority of everything I make and then says it is my fault he is getting "fat". He claims I guilt him into eating more of what I make because I joke around about him not liking it. Men, they really are something else sometimes! However, I will start taking all leftover baked goods to our apartment office, so they do not linger in our kitchen. Living away from friends and family makes the whole cooking/baking hobby difficult - we have no one to give the food to, and we feel inclined to eat it ourselves so it doesn't go to waste. No bueno when you are trying to get slim for a wedding!

Oh yeah, Pinterest makes me hate my closet, my home, and my hair too! Okay, my rant is over. Time for twice-baked potato goodness!


Jalapeno-Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes
8 baking potatoes
2 sticks butter
1 cup crumbled bacon or bacon bits (I prefer Wrights Applewood bacon, it is the best)
1 cup sour cream
1 jalapeno, cored and chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese + 1 cup for topping
Green onions (as many or as little as you want)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (soul seasoning, or regular salt will work too)
1 teaspoon black pepper
Dash red pepper (only if you want a bit of a kick)
2 or more tablespoons milk (may need for mashing potatoes)


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash 8 baking potatoes and place on oven rack. Bake for an hour and 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. 

Slice butter into square sections and place them into a large mixing bowl. Add bacon, sour cream, jalapeno, 1 cup cheddar cheese, seasoning salt, black pepper, and red pepper.

Once done baking, use a dish towel to hold hot potatoes while cutting them in half lengthwise using a serrated knife. Scrape insides of potatoes out with a spoon into the mixing bowl. Set shells of potatoes onto a cookie sheet.

Using a mixer, or potato masher (I used my mixer with the paddle attachment), mix ingredients together, adding milk depending on the texture desired. Fill potato shells with mixture and top with shredded cheese. Bake potatoes for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oreo Funfetti Birthday Cake


Job update - I am so happy to share that today I was hired as a Pre-k teacher for Orange Ridge Elementary school in Bradenton! I went in this morning for an interview and about an hour later received a call informing me that I got the job! I am so thankful to no longer have the stress of job hunting. Not to mention, my administration seems wonderful! It will be such a pleasant change to work at a place with structure and professionalism. I get to see my classroom tomorrow - so exciting! :)

Although this position is not back home in Tampa, it is 5 minutes from our apartment in Bradenton. Which means, no moving costs for us, and more money to put towards our wedding. I truly think God has a plan for me, and right now my being in Bradenton is in that plan. Here we are half way between my parents and Ryan's parents, so it seems the most fair place to be for now.

Given my new pay raise, we will be upgrading to a 2 bedroom apartment. (I will be making almost double what I was making, wahoo!) Needless to say, a bigger kitchen space is MUCH needed! I can't wait to finally have enough storage space for all of my baking stuff. No really, my cabinets are maxed out. I have to dig like a seven dwarf to find anything, not exactly fun! Although, if I sang the diggin' song, it would probably be more enjoyable, I'll have to try that sometime. (Make sure you check out the link, it is a catchy tune). If you haven't seen Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and have no idea what I am talking about, shame on you.


Who's ready for birthday cake? Rich, sweet, colorful birthday cake stuffed with Oreo's and sprinkles?


Ryan's birthday was June 22nd, he turned 27. I recently turned 26, so I get to call him old on the regular. I quite enjoy the fact that for the rest of our lives he will be older than me. He has heard it all this past week: Old man, grandpa, grandpappy...the list goes on and on. It is all out of love, really! If you can't make fun of your other half, what is the point? I'm marrying Ryan for 3 reasons. 1, he treats me amazingly well. 2, he is easy on the eyes. 3, he is fun to make fun of - Sue me. 

You may think I am mean, but I promise I make up for it. How you ask? By spending hours baking an ultra moist chocolate cake, layered with "Cream Cheese Funfetti" frosting and topped off with my newest, sweetest creation - "Chocolate Birthday Cake Oreo Cream Cheese" frosting. Have you had one of these bad boys? Dear God, they are amazing.


I literally put an entire package of these into my frosting (with the exception of the 2 I shoved down my throat). But, we will get to that later.




Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Nine and Sixteen
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used whole)
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour cake pans or line muffin pan for cupcakes. Combine sugar through salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well and add remaining ingredients, except the boiling water. Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in one cup boiling water. Batter will be smooth and very runny. Pour into prepared pans. Cook for 30-35 minutes. Transfer cake layers to cooling rack.


Once cooled, level cake layers with a serrated knife. Place first layer of cake onto a plate/cake stand for frosting. Frost first layer with the "Funfetti Cream Cheese" frosting. Once icing is even, add second layer of cake on top. Frost the entire cake with the "Birthday Cake Oreo Cream Cheese" frosting. Decorate as desired.

Funfetti Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Rainbow sprinkles 
Confectioners Sugar

Mix cream cheese and butter on low-medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, mix until combined. Add confectioners sugar one cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. Finally, add sprinkles (I put a lot, feel free to use as much or as little as you want). Give frosting one final mix.

Birthday Cake Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bag of "Golden Oreo Cream Birthday Cake" cookies (feel free to eat 2 or 3)
1 large bag confectioners sugar

Mix cream cheese and butter on low-medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, mix until combined. Crush cookies (I pound mine up in a Zip Lock bag with a meat tenderizer - Hey, it is good for built up frustration. A food processor will work too). Add cookies to cream cheese/butter mixture and mix on medium-high speed for a minute. Add confectioners sugar one cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. 



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles


This week has been a stressful one. In Sabrina's life stress = chocolate and sugar. I mean, stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Cowinkydink? I think not my friends!

I tried out the whole "suit" thing yesterday at an interview. Ready for the irony? There were 3 other women in the office waiting to interview...and none of them were wearing a suit. I went from the only girl without a suit to the only girl with one. Seriously? I have to admit though, there is something strangely powerful in wearing a suit. People look at you like you are important; CEO of a company kind of important. So, I guess I get the whole "wear a suit for a teacher interview" thing.

My interview yesterday went well! I have to say, much better than my previous interview did. I am not going to get my hopes up, but this experience at least gave me my confidence back. 4 interviews so far - one was pretty much a job offer (2 hours away), one was similar to speed dating of the interview sort, one went terrible, and one went very well. Still, no job in Tampa, which is where I really want to be. I have to admit, every letter I receive with a "sorry you were not chosen for an interview" or "although you have great qualities, we have chosen to hire another candidate" makes it harder and harder to stay positive. I pray that I will not only find a job, but the right job. I keep trying to tell myself that I will get a job this summer. A positive mindset makes for positive things...or so they say.

I was talking to my dad today and he offered me a "salesmen" story to get my spirits up. Basically, two salesmen are going door to door trying my make sales. One salesman is positive, while the other is not. The negative salesman asks the positive sales man why he is so happy when he keeps getting told no. The positive salesman responds "Every no I hear is getting me one step closer to a yes." My daddy is the best. He always seems to make sense of things :)

I am trying to keep the faith that my "yes" is coming, even with as hard as it can be sometimes. I am by nature a high-stress person, so the combination of job searching + paying for a wedding is starting to wear on me. I really could use a job making MUCH more a year. I don't just want a new job, I need one.


On top of it all, Monday was a circus. I took my car to Midas to get an oil change, after calling to make sure I could bring my car in. When I arrive, the guy behind the counter (rude would be an understatement) tells me that they are only accepting appointments. I tell him that I called and was told to bring it in. After he mouthed off a bit, he agreed to take the car. 30 minutes later, the guy comes inside to tell me that my tires are missing 5 lug-nuts. This news surprised me, as the last place I had my car was this place and I was pretty certain that the lug-nuts hadn't just fallen off. The guy tells me there is a parts store up the road and that I should probably go get the lug-nuts and have them put on. Then, the person working on my car tells me they will put the lug-nuts on for me for free if I bring the car back. I call around, find lug-nuts for a Toyota Celica and go purchase them. When I get back to Midas, Mr. Jerkbag grabs the lug-nuts, goes out to my car for literally 2 seconds and says that they aren't the right kind. I go back to the parts store, return the lug-nuts and decide to drive over to the Toyota dealership. When I get to Toyota, the parts manager finds 5 lug-nuts (the SAME lug-nuts that Mr. Jerkbag at Midas told me were not right) and has them put on for me. He comes inside and tells me that only 3 lug-nuts were missing. Yes people, 3! So, I went back and checked my receipt from Midas, which clearly stated 5 missing lug-nuts. Something doesn't add up here, correct? My theory is this: Mr. Jerkbag was ticked off about having to squeeze my car in without an appointment, so to "sock it to me," he has the person working on my car "find lug-nuts missing." However, they obviously didn't collaborate well on the number of lug-nuts that were going to be missing. So, after 5 hours of running around, my tires were secure and well. From now on, I go to Toyota for car service...period.


After all of that mess I was ready for chocolate, and sugar, and more chocolate. Hence, these amazing little balls of beauty. Go ahead and wipe the drool off of your face.



I recently bought this amazing cookbook by the lovely Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil. A whole book dedicated to cookie dough? Genius, pure genius! You know I couldn't resist. I recommend you get a copy asap. Your belly, heart and soul will thank you.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles are one of her most popular creations, so I had to make them!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Coating
8 ounces dark chocolate candy coating

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in milk and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

For dough into 1-inch balls and arrange them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place sheets in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt chocolate candy coating in microwave according to package directions (I used chocolate chips and just melted them in 30 second increments), be careful not to overheat. Using a fork or dipping tool, dip truffles one at a time in candy coating to cover. Tap fork on edge of bowl to shake off excess coating, and return truffles to baking sheets to set. If you have any left over coating, transfer to a piping bag or squeeze bottle fitted with a small round tip and pipe decorative lines over top of truffles - or simple drizzle coating with a fork for an abstract finish.



Refrigerate in an airtight container. Truffles will keep for up to one week.

And if you are feeling spicy, like I was - you can make some Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pops!



These won't last for a week, trust me. Eat your feelings, friends! Watch that stress turn to delicious chocolate goodness in a jiffy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Banana Nut Bread and Coconut Cupcakes



Hey ya'll! Don't these cupcakes look tasty? They were...trust me. It has been awhile, friends. I feel like I have been MIA from the blog world for so long! I apologize for my disappearing act, things have just been pretty crazy lately. Work ended, job searching, entertaining guests, etc.


Let me just give a quick "hallelujah!" that my first school year is over and I am currently enjoying my long over due summer break. I won't lie, I miss my students a whole lot, but the break was much needed. I am sad to see them go, but proud to know they are moving on to Kindergarten. I am ready to move on and start a new path within my career. Which brings me to another topic, the fun task of finding a job back in my hometown (Tampa).


I seem to have the worst luck with teacher interviews and job prospects. Every interview I get hours away from where I want to live goes great, while every job prospect in the Tampa area seems to end before it even begins. I had a great interview two days ago - was basically given a job making significantly more money (helps when planning a wedding.) The problem? Oh, it is only 2 hours from home - even further than I am now. Not to mention, it is extremely far from Ryan's family. But, I can't really afford to be picky at this point. Ryan and I are paying for our wedding ourselves, so the extra cash would help immensely. Needless to say, I may end up having to move even further from home for a better paying job, as much as I don't want too. There is one positive element to this, the location is VERY close to Disney World! And that is the only positive thing I can seem to drudge up at the moment. 


I've had 2 interviews in the Tampa area. Allow me to elaborate on how those went:


Interview One - I arrive to the interview and find out it will be conducted as a "speed date," only the interview version. Over an hour drive + a 3 hour wait for a 15 minute interview in which the minute I mentioned only having a year of teaching experience was dismissed. I'm pretty sure my resume presented this information. Was the gas, mileage and time wasted really necessary? Nevertheless, I put on my big girl pants and took it as interview practice. Keeping the faith, what else can you do?


Interview Two - Beautiful school, in the perfect area. I was feeling positive...that is, until I walked into the office and saw 5 girls (dressed in full suits for a first grade teaching position interview) Mind you, I was wearing a polka dot dress, black leggings, a black mini-jacket thing, and heels. Oh, and this was at 2:30 pm, the last round of interviews. If there were 6 girls interviewing at the end of the day, imagine how many people were interviewed for that one position. Maybe I am wrong here, but is a suit really necessary for a primary aged teaching position interview? I get the whole looking professional thing, but I really feel that a suit is not who I am - especially me as a teacher. Ryan told me he thinks my personality should shine through in all aspects, clothing included. However, I am now wondering if a straight jacket suit would better my odds of finding a job. Anyway, this interview went pretty well. I think I was liked, but not seen as being the right person for the job. She ended our interview with "good luck with your future endeavors". Otherwise known as - sorry lady, no job for you. 


I have another job interview on Tuesday, minutes from my daddy's house. I am praying, hoping and wishing this comes through for me. I have a few other schools that may possibly interview me. Not to mention, the Florida teacher interview day. Tons of county's are present and interview candidates all day. I am doing my best to stay positive, although it gets tough after while. 


On a happy note, I am the best fiance ever! No, really. I gave Ryan the best early birthday surprise ever. I flew his best friend Ray here from Michigan and we surprised Ryan at the airport! Ryan hadn't seen Ray in almost 3 years, so I thought it was the one gift I could give him that would be better than anything else possibly could be. Besides, I was really wanting to meet the best man of our wedding! Ryan thought we were going to the airport to pick my brother up (I really nailed this whole keeping a surprise thing, by the way.) Little did he know, his best friend was getting off a plane with his lovely girlfriend to spend a few days with us! After only minutes with them together, I saw why these two crazy boys got along so well. Literally, like twins personality wise. Aren't they cute bffs? lol




I loved seeing Ryan having such a great time, and Ray's girlfriend Jinsy and I were like two peas in a pod, so it worked out well for me too! Loved them, loved playing hostess and loved seeing the smile on Ryan's face. I can't wait to get them back here in December and to go visit sometime up in Michigan.


On that note...cupcakes anyone?!



I decided to put a twist on my Banana Nut Bread cupcake and throw in some coconut. I LOVE coconut...it breaks almost even with chocolate on the love scale. Put the two together and I can't control myself, for reals. I also decided to top the cupcake with a brown sugar streusel topping, which will be permanent addition - yum! 




I'm sad to say that I won't be giving out this recipe. Sorry friends, feel free to hate me hard for this one. In my defense, I am wanting to open a cupcake bakery in the near future. If I give all of my cupcake recipes away, I don't think I will have much intrigue left for my product. Besides, this recipe was adapted from my great, great grandmother and I have relatives that would kill me if I gave it away via the internet. Email me, and we may be able to work something out ;)




I will tell you this - find a banana bread or cupcake recipe that uses mayo in it. Trust me, when it is mixed with banana you have a cake that will stay moist for days. Really, you can use your favorite banana cupcake or banana nut bread recipe for these and create the same concept. Also, toast your coconut and pecans for better taste before you put them in your batter (Yes, I put both in mine.) Coconut cream cheese frosting is relatively easy. I do some serious tweaking to mine, but if you find a basic cream cheese frosting recipe and add some coconut extract I'm sure yours will taste delicious! 



I adore this picture. It looks like the cupcakes are beaming in heaven or something - which is where I feel I am at when I eat them!