Monday, October 8, 2012

Marshmallow- fondant and Jelly Fish cake part 1!

jelly fish cake

My Aunt Linda came to visit me after going to the Ices show

in Reno Nevada this year. Between her and my Grandma,

they have both been trying to get me interested in

applying my art skills to the craft of cake decorating.

After only 5 days of playing I AM HOOKED!


First, I am going to share the Marshmallow Fondant Recipe:


3tbs water

1 pkg. Marshmallows (I prefer mini)

1pkg. Powdered Sugar

marshmallow fondant


Step 1: dump marshmallow in a glass bowl.

Step 2: Sprinkle 3 tbs. of cold water over marshmallows

Step3: place in microwave for 3o seconds then stir with

wooded spoon. Continue to repeat this step until marshmallows

are smooth.

Step 4: slowly add powdered sugar, stirring it in as you go.

When the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl,

and feels like it is ready to kneed place ball on plastic or

silicone matt continue to kneed in the rest of your powdered sugar:

See progression pictures below:


marshmallow fondant


Now, spread Shortening over some plastic wrap and

wrap fondant in plastic wrap sealing out all air and

place in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to cool.





(fondant can stay this way in the  fridge for a week or more!)


Marshmallow Fondant tastes just like marshmallows. It is

way better eats than traditional fondant and is quite easy

to work with and very forgiving.

Stay tuned for part 2 explaining how we made

the Jelly fish and the coral it sits on!



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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Low/no sugar Banana muffins!

banana muffina, banana bread, sugar free banana bread, sugar free banana muffins,


Since being diagnosed as diabetic, … I miss cake the most.

It is by far the food I love the most on earth. If

I were on death row and was given a last meal, I would

ask for a huge cake with loads of frosting! 

As a result I have turned my kitchen into a test

kitchen, and my family the guinea pigs!

I have found that muffins help with my cake cravings

and so far they have been the easiest to make low sugar

versions. One of my favorites is banana muffins.

My family LOVES these so I make them in bulk and

freeze them which saves me loads of time and keeps

my cravings at bay. Best part, they do not reek havoc

on my blood sugar!


frozen bananas


Tip # 1 for super moist banana muffins (regardless of recipe):

Use previously frozen bananas, the uglier the better!

Tip# 2 for super moist banana muffins:

Use one more banana than the recipe calls for.

Tip# 3 for super moist banana muffins:

add 2-3 tbs. of maple syrup (I used sugar free of course)


Trust me and try the tips.  I have been making banana bread for years

and tons of people ask me how I make it so moist and yummy!



Tip #4 for super moist banana muffins:

mix by hand and do not over mix your bananas

your bananas do not need to be creamed into oblivion.


Since I use a lower fat option too at times,

I spray my liners with a little oil so they don’t stick.


My go-to topping is chopped walnuts mixed with

2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar. LIGHTLY

sprinkle this topping over each muffin.

This gives me the idea that I am eating something

really naughty without the guilt and consequence!


Try this recipe and I promise you will not be disappointed!


Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Home cookbook


Banana Muffins:

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup Splenda (or other sweetener of your choice)

2 tbs. sugar (this is needed to help the bread rise better)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3 medium RIPE bananas

1/3 cup butter or sub with applesauce for less fat

2 tbs. sugar free maple syrup

2 tbs. Milk

2 eggs

* topping: 1 cup chopped walnuts mixed with 2-3 tbs. brown sugar.

Preheat oven to 350

mash bananas and add all wet ingredients mix and set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients then fold in your wet ingredients.

spray muffin liners and pour batter to 3/4 of the way full.

sprinkle topping and bake 30-40 minutes or until

toothpick comes out clean.



Eating Healthier does not have

to mean dry and tasteless!

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Spin on baked Oatmeal muffins!

I found this recipe nearly a year ago on Pinterest.

I am not a huge fan of the traditional bowl of oatmeal.. But I do

love a good oatmeal cookie! I was instantly intrigued so I set to work

with my own spin, of course.

 oatmeal muffins

I was thrilled to see that I could easily make these

low or no sugar!

and with the recipe primarily being made up of whole oats,

I knew they would stick to my ribs and not spike my sugar!

I also loved that I could make big

batches and freeze them for convenience.



Baked Oatmeal Muffins


*Recipe from Sugar-Free Mom

2 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 cups. applesauce, unsweetened

1 banana smashed

1/2 cup honey or agave nectar

5 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

3tsp. baking powder

3 tsp. salt

2 3/4 cups milk  

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana, honey, milk

3. add in oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and

mix well with wet ingredients.

4. I pour batter in cupcake liners only half way

5. sprinkle “toppings” of choice

6. Top fill with more batter to 1/4 from the top

7. Finally sprinkle topping of choice on the top

8. bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

9. eat them warm with butter, or cool and eat like a muffin

or freeze for later.


Topping ideas:

muffins, baked oatmeal, oatmeal muffins, fruit in muffins, bulk muffins

Fresh or frozen Blueberry

oatmeal, oatmeal muffins, baked muffins




pineapple coconut muffins



I have also liked : raisins & brown sugar,

walnuts & brown sugar, apple & brown sugar


This is a must try recipe whether you are into healthy

eating or just plain love a great breakfast.

They are surprisingly cake-y and not heavy.  



Sugar free disclaimer:

*as I have stated before, the tiny amount of brown sugar

per muffin is equal to about 1/2 tsp. which will give you

the satisfaction of having a regular sugar muffin

but does not affect my numbers adversely. This is

a trick you have to try yourself and see if you have

similar results.  

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Remembrance Packet

remembrance package

Our society and lifestyles have lead us to often times live even

hundreds of miles away from our families. Gratefully there are many ways

for us to keep the family updated and connected such a social media and

other types of amazing technology such as Skype. However, these tools

are not a complete replacement for missed family events or face to face contacts.


This past January my family suffered the great loss of my second born Son. Due

to the unexpected nature of this event and for other reasons, neither one of my

parents were able to attend his funeral.


Being a mother of a baby not known intimately by his extended family nor by

the world is an experience unlike any other. However, some things are the

same as giving birth to a surviving child.  Just like with my first born, I wanted

desperately to share my son with the world. Share how very special he is. I

wanted my parents, and the rest of my family to know him as I do, LOVE him

as I do. So, I set to work on a “remembrance package”.


1) I took a 12x12 piece of card stock and folded it into an open end envelope

with the top overlapping the bottom by about an inch.

2) Out of contrasting card stock I punched two circular discs

for the enclosure piece.

3) I then lined up the circle to the bottom, middle portion of the

top flap of the envelope and hole punched though both pieces creating

a single hole. (as seen below)  

remembrance package, memorial envelope


4) I then paced an eyelet in the created hole. (found in

the scrapbooking/paper crafting supplies)


 making an envelope

5) I Repeated the process for the bottom portion of the envelope,

taking care to leave at least a 1/4 in. gap between the top and

bottom circles .

6) I then tied/anchored one end of a  long ribbon say about

8-10 in. to the top circle. ( The ribbon and knot behind the

circle and around the eyelet NOT through the eyelet)

This allowed me to close my envelope by winding the

ribbon in a figure eight pattern between the two discs,

closing the envelope in a very “Old English” kind of way.




7) I printed simple/respectful sticker labels for the front

of each envelope.

“In Remembrance of Brennan James McCarroll”


8) I enclosed the following:

*one copy of each of the talks given at the funeral

*one copy of the program used at the funeral

*one small, inexpensive photo book which included

photos of the flowers, his hands and his feet (taken by

professionals in the hospital) the location of the cemetery,

and copies of several quotes and poems that I found



This was not only helpful for them to help make up for not

being able to attend the funeral, but it was also therapeutic

for me as well. 


This idea does not have to be associated with such a sad occasion.

There are graduations, weddings, births and reunions missed by

family members all the time! This is a simple and inexpensive way

to include those who are unable to travel or miss out for any reason,

a family event.

What ideas do you have that you could place in such a memento?


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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Handful of Money Saving Tips.

Sometimes we simply spend money that we don’t need to spend.

I do it and I know others do it too. When we have the “extra” money

we tend to be blinded by the convenience of buying new and we miss

the saving opportunities that are nearly always there.

Whether things are tight or not I get a thrill from saving my family

money. I have a few ideas for you today that can help stretch the budget

and get your creative juices going.


First up:  “Old Fashioned Mending”


My son has grown tall but still stays slim. So, this spring I started to

go though his clothing to see what I had and to make preparations 

for his summer wardrobe. I found several pairs of pants that had

worn knees and frayed hems. I decided to crop and hem them into

new shorts for the summer.

sewing, mending, hemming, convert pants to shorts.


This can be done in a matter of 30minutes to an hour and for each pair

of converted pants to shorts, I saved my family anywhere from 5 –10

dollars! This is a total savings of $20-$40 for 4 pairs of shorts!


Second on the list: Iron-on $avings!


Never underestimate the power of a strategically placed iron-on

embellishment. Iron-ons come in every shape and size. They are

fast and require no sewing. They can dress-up an inexpensive, and

otherwise drab item and make it something fabulous! They can also

be used to hide a multitude of problems that would cause one to

throw an otherwise good garment away. I have two perfect examples

for you today.


I found this plain blue cotton-t on clearance for next to nothing. My

son was shopping the iron-on isle with me and found a race car patch

that he simply went crazy for!

iron on patches, dressing a plain t,


I could have stopped with just the race car but I had some letters left

from another project so I decided to embellish this sleep-shirt with a

very “punny-saying”.




race car t, diy race car t


Total cost for a new custom sleep shirt: $5.00 (about a 50% savings)



My 3 almost 4 year old is very loving  but he is equally rambunctious!

I was doing laundry this winter when he ran full speed around the

corner and rammed into me as I was pouring bleach in the wash.

Needless to say, once you see the next pic, his favorite winter

hoody was ruined…or so I thought….

bleached stained hoody


Iron on a soccer ball patch and…. you have

a $aved Fave!


iron on soccer ball, frugal hoody


Cost of new Hoody $10 – $12 vs. cost of iron on patch: $2.50!



Thirdly: “$craps of $avings!”


If you are a sewer at all, more than likely you have scraps of

fabric from other projects piled in a closet or stacked in a box.

Aiden needed new jammies desperately. Between myself and my

mother-in-law we found an old pajama pattern and three flannel

scraps of material that we were able to turn into three fabulous

pairs of pajama pants!


pajama pants, pajamas for less


Three pair of pajama pants. Total Cost: $3.00 (for elastic) A total

savings of about $15.00 or more!


When sewing from scraps remember a few things:

1) Look through all your material to see what you have.

2) Ask your fellow sewers/crafters what they have as well.

(we sewers are always happy to use up our scraps)

3) Don’t disregard old patterns. Some things really never change.

Boys pajama bottoms are exactly the same as they were 30 years

ago. Don’t let the dated image on the pattern envelope discourage you.

Look through your stash or ask around before buying a pattern.




There is a running joke in my family about always “buying plenty”

and if you have too much “you can always make a pillow with the extra.”

This philosophy has resulted in a LOT of extra. So, before buying new fabric

for pillows look through your scraps first or in this case your wardrobe!

sweater pillow, sweater to pillow, scrap pillow


I had a new, awesome, white sweater until I spilled hot cocoa down the front

of it. I tried everything to get rid of the stain to no avail and the stain was

in such a place that I could not craftily place embellishments to hide it and

still look cute so…. I made my sister a sweater pillow for her house warming.

sweater pillow, fabric flowers, sweater flowers.

To embellish the pillow I made three different flowers with one from the

sleeve. The other two I took strips of the sweater, ran a running or

gathering stitch along one side and an decorative stich along the other

with contrasting thread. I used scraps of matching bias tape to make leaves

and before I knew it, I had a lovely decorative pillow gift for only $3.50! (for the stuffing)




These are just a few tips and ideas on ways I have recently saved money

for my family. If you stop and take a minute before throwing out the old or

running to buy new, often times you can find ways to reuse, repurpose and renew

items you already have and make them into things you really want to keep.


How do you save money for your family? Write to me, I would really love to know!

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Roast Beef Panini


Roast Beef Sandwich, grilled roast beef, panini, beef panini, roast beef panini , grilled sandwich, super bird sandwich

I can barely put this sandwich down to type up this post.

It is simply that good. My Husband loves good sandwiches 

and this is one of our go-to sandwich dinners that is not

only very satisfying, but is very simple too.


You will need:

1/2- 3/4 lb. Roast Beef thinly sliced (I get mine from the deli)

1 can beef broth (or I use beef bouillon powder)

2 slices American cheese

2 slices Swiss Cheese (I used processed… Don’t Judge!)

4  thin slices tomato

2 tbs. Mayo

4 slices sourdough bread


*yields 2  sandwiches

First butter your bread like you do for grilled cheese.

Now,  bring your beef broth to a boil.

You will place your roast beef in the boiling water for

just a few minutes, just enough time eliminate any pink

and heat your meat all the way through.



Place first slice of bread, butter side down on pre-heated

pan or Panini Grill.  Spread mayo on top, then place tomato

slices followed by your cheese slices.


Now pile your juicy beef slices on top of your cheese and

top of with the other slice of bread. Now either close your

press or if cooking in a pan you can use an additional pan or a

foil covered brick to help press the sandwich down.



Your Panini is done when the bread is golden and crisp and your

cheese is oozing out the sides!

-This sandwich was inspired by my brother-in-law Renee Cano



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Friday, June 29, 2012

All American Salisbury Steaks

My mom is an amazing cook, but not in a traditional sense.

Yes her food is, most importantly, yummy to eat however, her

talents lay in the way she can feed an army a filling meal with

little to nothing in the pantry.  We grew up with our tummies

full, never going to bed hungry but this was no easy task for my

parents. They worked very hard and there were in fact times when

we barely scraped by. My Mother’s knack for peering into a nearly

bare cupboard and in 45 minutes or less presenting a delicious

filling meal ensured our family’s survival. One of the meals she used

to cook on a fairly regular basis was what she called “glorified

hamburgers.” These burgers were made with hamburger mixed

with chopped onion, a little ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce.

The patties were then pressed into saltine cracker crumbs and then

fried in this impressive, black, cast-iron skillet. Sounds simple and

maybe even a little odd but they were very tasty and a welcomed

change from what sometimes was the third or fourth night of

some version of a hamburger based meal. (Hamburger was by

far the cheapest of meats at times and went the furthest)

I took this idea and combined it with a similar recipe that I got

from a nephew of mine.

salisbury steak, bulk cooking, american meals, fried hamburgers, burgers and gravy, simple steaks.  


You will need about 1 1/2 lbs. Hamburger

1 cup minced onion

1/4 –1/2 cup oatmeal

2 eggs

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 cup milk

1 can Golden Mushroom soup

1 sleeve crushed butter crackers (I used Ritz)  

TBS. Oil for frying

*Mix all ingredients except crackers and

soup  in a bowl.


Form into patties and then press patties into crushed

butter crackers.

cracker crust

Then, fry in olive oil until golden brown.  Burgers do not have

to be cooked through. They will finish cooking in the oven.

fried burgers

Now, place burgers in a baking dish and

cover the burgers with the soup.  {This meal

is also one of my bulk cooking meals I make 12’ish

burgers at a time and then place them in foil

baking trays. I cover them in the soup, then in plastic wrap.

I cover the entire thing with foil and freeze. This way in

same amount of time it takes me to make one nights meal,

I have prepared two more in advance!}

gravy plastic wrap freezer meal, bulk cooking

Bake in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the burger is cooked

all the way through.


The soup makes a delicious gravy which reminds me of the old T.V. dinners

back in the day. (of which I would never eat now, but loved as a kid)

My mom is an All-American cook at heart who reminds me to be humble

and remember where I came from. I am grateful for her talent to make

great things out of very little. It was humility, and the hard work of the

working class that built this nation. It was the sacrifice of Mother’s and

Father’s alike that paved a better life for their children and their children’s

children. That is what makes this country grand. I am thankful for my roots

and I am proud to be an American.


Thus the re-name of this re-mix dish to All-American Salisbury Steaks and

why I chose this recipe above all others as my 4th of July post this year!  

I love you Mom and all that you have done for me. You are an inspiration.


Happy Independence Day!

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