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!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

PB n' J Puppy Chow

Since I am limpy status at the moment with a bummed ankle, I didn't get around to making the time consuming chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake that I wanted too. So, I settled for this delicious Puppy Chow. I love this stuff, in a seriously border line obsessive way. As I sit here, stuffing my face with it as I watch The Notebook (one of my favorites), I keep asking myself why I ever decided to do this to myself. Puppy Chow is like the crack of all sweets. It is so easy to make, and so simple to eat. I just keep reaching for the bag and eating it by the handful. I can feel my backside expanding as I type this...looks like fat pants tomorrow.

I took the Puppy Chow recipe from Picky Palate and tweaked it a little. I am not big on white chocolate, so I used the good semi-sweet stuff instead. Peanut butter and jelly is one of life's greatest gifts - mixing it in with Puppy Chow only makes it that much better. Enjoy :)

Peanut Butter n' Jelly Puppy Chow
Adapted from Picky Palate

9 Cups Honey Nut Chex (or any chex variety you like)
3/4 Cup chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
1/2 Cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 Cup strawberry jam
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Cups powdered sugar

Place chex cereal in a large mixing bowl.  Place chocolate, peanut butter, jam and butter into a microwavable safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute or until melted.  Stir then pour into bowl of cereal.  Mix well then divide mixture into 2 large ziplock bags.  Pour in 1 Cup powdered sugar into each ziplock.  Close bags and shake until cereal is coated.  Pour into a large bowl and serve.

This recipe makes a lot. You can always freeze a bag if you'd like!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Paula Deen's Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf and Mama's Green Beans

Yesterday I only had 11 students come to school - it was a happy day. However, that happy day was short lived thanks to a swollen, sore ankle. By the end of last night, I could barely even walk. So, I decided to do what I do anytime something is wrong with me....and Google.

Let me just tell you that Google and WebMD are the internet devil when it comes to being sick and/or injured. You can take the common cold and convince yourself that you are dying from a foreign flu pandemic within a matter of 3 minutes. Thanks to Google and WebMd I was convinced I had a "Deep Vein Thrombosis" and was going to be dead by the end of the night. Of course, Ryan tried to tell me to get off the computer and stop diagnosing myself. Did I listen? Naturally not. I had myself in tears before all was said and done. And God knows I couldn't end the discussion with Ryan that peacefully. I had to throw in a "Well, when I die you can have it on your conscience!" I'm a brat, it is just how it is. I don't deny it, I embrace it. Some call it bratty, some call it a particular 5 letter word that starts with a B and rhymes with itchy. I prefer to refer to myself as sassy. It suits me. 

I woke up this morning thrilled to have made it through the night with such a life threatening illness. I was in the doctors office before I even got my morning coffee in, and if you know me...you know how serious that is. I don't function without coffee, but possible death is an exception. Ryan went into the doctors room with me, bless his heart. He was feeling the guilt after the "my death can be on your conscience" comment. He even drove me - winning! The doctor came in, I informed her I was near death with a blood clot. Her response? A smile, and a 30 minute biology seminar explaining how I have arthritis/tendinitis and why it isn't possible for a blood clot to be located in the spot of my swelling. Not to mention, the 15 minutes worth of personal life stories she decided to share with us.

Arthritis, tendinitis, not dying?...Great! However, my joy of surviving was suddenly ruined as I looked over to see the SMUG smirk growing on Ryan's face. He loves being right, and making me wrong. Lord knows he told me over and over again that I was not suffering from a blood clot and I was overreacting. He certainly hasn't hesitated to remind me of that fact about a hundred times today. If looks could have killed, he would have been 6 feet under in that office. I would rather be safe than sorry, thank you very much. 

Now I get to wear a rockin' ankle brace (looking all kinds of sexy) and take an anti-inflammatory medicine for awhile. 26 and my body is falling apart, seriously? I thought this crap happened at ages 50 and up? I now have had tendinitis in my thumb, hips, and ankle. Just call me grandma, because I'm about two years away from an electric scooter. I have to admit, those commercials make those things look pretty sweet. Moral of the story? Just don't Google when something is wrong. Avoid the search engine at all costs.

There is a point to all this rambling, I swear. The plan was to make a very time consuming cheesecake this weekend. However, given my current ankle situation, I wasn't exactly feeling the idea of limping around the kitchen on my feet all day today. I am happy to say that I will be making that cheesecake next weekend. 

You know I couldn't completely stay out of the kitchen, so I decided to make Paula Deen's Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf and my mama's quick green beans. Allow me to take a moment to express my love for Paula Deen. She is my celebrity crush - don't judge me. In my heaven, Paula will greet me with a plate full of her Gooey Butter Cakes, from which I won't gain an ounce. She will then go on to be my personal chef for all eternity. I imagine it will go something like that. Hey, a girl can dream.

So here it is, possibly the greatest meatloaf you will ever in your life consume.

Paula Deen's Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf
1 pound ground chuck 
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 
1 (8-ounce) package sharp Cheddar, grated 
2 large eggs, lightly beaten 
1/4 cup bread crumbs, toasted 
1/4 cup mayonnaise 
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1/3 cup ketchup 
2 tablespoons prepared mustard 
1 (3-ounce) can French fried onions (I used the French's cheddar kind)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck and next 8 ingredients, mixing well.
In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and mustard. Stir 1/4 cup ketchup mixture into meat mixture, reserving remaining ketchup mixture.
Press meat mixture into a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or shape into a loaf and place on a rack in a broiler pan. Spread remaining ketchup mixture over loaf. Bake 40 minutes. Top with French fried onions; bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink. Garnish with special sauce (recipe to follow).

Special Sauce
½ cup Mayo
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons mustard
Splash of BBQ sauce or A1 sauce

Mix ingredients in small bowl.

Mama’s Quick Green Beans
2 cans grean beans (you can use fresh, but I wasn't in the mood)
Half an onion
3 pieces of bacon (uncooked)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Dice onion, add garlic powder and saute in a small pan until onion is clear. Open green bean cans and add onion, allowing it to soak for at least 15 minutes. In the meantime, cook bacon in a sauce pan. Once bacon is cooked, add green bean cans and cook on low-medium heat for 10 minutes.