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Category Archives: Food

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

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There are few better combos in the world than peanut butter and chocolate. (Please don’t lick your screen, that’s gross.) And since my love of baking compels me to make cupcakes for peoples’ birthdays, I decided to try these out for our friend Ross a couple weeks ago. He’s the lead singer/guitar player of my husband’s band Fullbloods, and he’s a wonderful person to know. We also call him Uncle Ross as we adopted him as Liam’s uncle whether he likes it or not. But we think he likes it.

I love making cupcakes because A. They’re really easy; and 2. They’re unbelievably impressive. Ever since I started making them for people they’ve gone nuts. These look so professional; they’re so delicious; I can’t believe you made these. Yadda…yadda…yadda. Which makes me giggle because out of all the things I love to bake, they’re surely the easiest. But I’ll take the compliments. 😉

For these cupcakes you can use any old chocolate cake recipe (or brownie cupcakes!) and top them with this super awesome fluffy peanut butter frosting recipe. Then add some contrast for decoration. I used chocolate covered peanuts and Hershey’s bars broken in half.

Then place the cupcakes in a box (I get mine at Hobby Lobby for less than $2) and tie a bow around it and everyone will think you’re the coolest person ever.

I made three kinds of cupcakes for my son’s birthday last year: Red velvet with vanilla cream cheese icing, topped with raspberries; a delicious lemon cream; and these fat free angel food. You can see my frosting skills have improved the fourth time around. 😉

I can’t believe his second birthday is coming up so quickly. I definitely need some new cupcake recipes to try out. Leave me a comment if you’ve got one you love!

One of my Favorite Thrift Stores

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Shortly after we moved into our home I discovered a nearby thrift store called Through Our Children’s Lives. It’s a small shop tucked in among other stores, but you can’t miss the big moving truck they have out front with their name on it. As thrift stores go, it’s good. If you dig, you’re bound to find some treasures.

But that’s not what I love about this store.

I’ve been going to this store since Liam was a baby and the sweet woman who runs it has always been so loving to him. I don’t know why this surprises me though, considering the name of her business.

The store’s proceeds go toward helping victims of domestic abuse. It’s a wonderful cause.

But it gets better.

Whenever you bring your child in with you, they let you pick out a free book. I love this. I strongly believe in the importance of reading to a child.

They also have donated bread you can choose from every time you make a donation or purchase.

Last week I strolled in to browse as I sometimes do and I walked out with this loot for $2.72.

And here’s the breakdown:
The shorts were originally $2.99, but because they also have awesome sales, that day clothing under a certain price was automatically $2.
The dinosaur must have been about $.50.
The car was free because the sweet owner rummaged through a bin and picked it out for my very grateful son. Who does that? Loving people do that.
The books were free. Technically you’re supposed to get one, but I think she likes us. It is one book and one coloring book.
The bread was free! Although I recommend using or freezing this bread right away because it is donated, I usually never have a problem eating bread. I used the asiago cheese round to make grilled cheese sandwiches to go with tomato soup and the Italian bread I cut to make meatball subs.

If you’re in the OP area, I definitely recommend stopping in to Through Our Children’s Lives. I have friends who have found great deals and you can’t beat the love you’ll receive. 😉

Heart Healthy Muffins

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I’m straying a bit from the norm today, but in addition to treasure hunting, magazine creating and loving on my family, I also enjoy baking. A lot. I also enjoy eating these baked things. A lot. However, with a family history of heart disease and my own diagnosis of high cholesterol about 5 years ago, I’ve started taking food more seriously.

I love muffins. Any excuse to eat cake for breakfast, right? I was craving a bluberry muffin, which in itself is not terrible, but the giant canister of oats on my counter is a constant reminder for me to get more oats in my diet. I decided to try and craft a muffin with two very heart-friendly ingredients: oats and berries.

I found the basic muffin recipe in my BH&G cookbook from 2005…wow that’s old! It had an option for oatmeal muffins and blueberry muffins, so I thought, why not combine both? I also added half whole wheat flour and applesauce instead of oil (a common substitution around this house when baking).

Here’s my adapted recipe:

Heart Healthy Mixed Berry Oat Muffins
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. oats
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. 1% milk
1/4 c. applesauce
1 c. fresh or frozen berries

Streusel topping:
Combine 3 T. all-purpose flour, 3 T. brown sugar, and 1/4 t. ground cinnamon. Cut in 2 T. butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 2 T. chopped nuts.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups, set aside.
In medium bowl, combine flours, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and set aside.
In another bowl combine egg, milk and applesauce. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Sprinkle streusel topping over batter in cups. Bake for 18 to 20 min or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove and serve warm.

I think I may still need a little tweaking, but overall I was happy with my Frankenstein muffins. We’ve been on whole wheat for a long time now, so my tastebuds are used to, and really love, the nutty depth of whole wheat. The oats definitely make them oatmealy, but they are very filling because of that. And I might add, filled with good stuff. 😉 The berries add great sweet/tart flavor and the streusel topping adds just enough sweetness.

How about you? I’d love to get more heart-healthy recipes in my repertoire. Share yours below!

Christmas Times 2011

I think I’m finally back in the swing of things after four Christmas celebrations, lots of awesome family time and loads of great gifts. Liam survived his second Christmas and we actually did find places for all his new toys (and million books, the kid loves books) in our humble home.

As a tradition I’ve taken to baking goods for my coworkers, but since I work remotely now, I had to wrangle up some old coworkers to take the stuff. I’m sure they complained. A lot. Without further ado, here is the 2011 Shipps Christmas Sampler:



This year the sampler included my famous cream cheese almond butter cookies, chocolate/pecan covered marshmallows, coconut macaroons, Martha Stewart’s white chocolate covered chocolate mint cookies, and mint layered fudge.

In more vintage-y news, Liam sported an awesome vintage vest I found at an estate sale for the Shipps’ Christmas Eve party. Here’s the best picture we came away with, playing with his cousin and bff Lucas (they’re exactly 9 months apart and Liam is starting to catch up, except in the hair department). 🙂 Naturally I had to pair the vest with an equally vintage (looking) turtleneck. I mean what else do you wear with a vest as awesome as that? He was a hit.

In gifts news:

  • I’m happy to announce that I am now the owner of an amazing new camera so this blog will no longer feature fuzzy and/or dark photos! i.e. see sampler photos above.
  • I also received an awesome new set of kitchen knives, which I’m deathly afraid of because they can slice right through my finger, but I also desperately needed to replace my 8-year-old cheap wedding present knives that are falling apart. My soon-to-be-arthritic wrist couldn’t handle cutting up one more sweet potato into fries.
  • There were loads of other presents, too many to note, and I’m happy to have a little money to spend on myself, which rarely happens.
  • My (and the Rock Star’s) present to myself with all my saved up Christmas monies was a new pair of glasses. My old ones lasted a good three years of constant abuse and finally fell apart at Thanksgiving. Imagine my brother and I on the floor at our Grandparents’ house under the table dragging the central vac hose covered with my Grandma’s nylons over the shag green carpet to find one tiny little washer. Too much? The glasses were doomed. So here’s the new me.
  • I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I feel spoiled rotten, but that’s a rare feeling, so I revel in it. I have one of the best families in the whole world and there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for each of them. Have a safe and happy new year everyone!

Food, Glorious Food!

You may or may not know that in addition to my vintage treasure hunting I have a passionate love affair with baking and all things involving sugar. And while I’m not the greatest culinary chef, I also like to dabble in cooking sometimes. I’m always looking for new recipes to spice up the routine, so I thought I’d share a couple that I recently gave a whirl.

First is my signature pizza. Our friends came over for a pizza party and they all raved about it. I started with my aunt Nada’s pizza crust, which she got at TastyKitchen.com. It’s wonderful and so easy! It has a really simple flavor that goes with any kind of pizza. Plus, you can make it the night before, throw it in the fridge and let it rise until dinner the next day. Really, so easy.

Then, for my signature pizza top with the following:
Alfredo sauce
Spinach
Asiago cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Cooked bacon
Sun-dried tomatoes

The tomatoes add a touch of sweetness to all the salty flavors and the healthy spinach is hidden so kids (and some adults who will remain nameless) barely even notice it’s there. Try it and tell me it’s not the best pizza you’ve ever had.

I also made this cookie pizza for the party.

Next I tried my hand at homemade Pop Tarts. My brother and I love Pop Tarts, so this was a no-brainer. The recipe uses ready-made pie crust, but you could easily substitute your own recipe. Roll out the dough, cut into squares, fill with jam, seal the edges and bake! Then the best part, top with frosting and sprinkles. I love sprinkles. Not too bad for my first try. I made blackberry and strawberry.


Now I’m gearing up for my Christmas baking extravaganza. It’s the one time of year I have an excuse to make a lot of things and give them away. I’ve got my recipes lined up and am excited about a few new things I’m trying. I’ll include all the recipes after the holidays. Here’s a peek at last year’s truffle extravaganza for the girls at the office. They said they looked professional and I think they were impressed. I had a lot of fun making them! From the left are raspberry dark chocolate truffles, orange chocolate truffles and oreo truffles.

I can’t wait to get started on this year’s baking madness and share it all with you. I love this time of year. Family, friends, love, joy, it’s easy to get into. Happy holidays everyone!

P.S. Tell me your favorite holiday recipe below. I’m always in need of new inspiration!