Cupcakes and Sunshine: November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mini Apple Pie Caramel Apples


I am so grateful and blessed for such a wonderful Thanksgiving day spent with family. We had such a great time laughing together, sharing stories, eating delicious food, and watching the Macy's parade in pajamas. I loved every minute of it, and I wish time would stop right now and we can live in this moment forever. You know? But I'm looking forward to Christmas and more of these sweet moments to come.

While many are making their way to the Thanksgiving leftovers, I'm still making my way to the sweets. But mini sweets.
 All things mini are better.



Like these mini apples I picked up at the Fresh Market. How cute!? 
Squeal. I can barely take the cuteness. My friend Holly that I worked with gave me the adorable idea to make mini caramel apples out of them this season.
I knew these would make the perfect tiny treats. And they would also make great gifts to send. Also, if you still have apple pie on your mind, then you will definitely need to make these pronto.


First off, you will want to melt your caramel candy squares and add a pinch of salt.




Be very, very careful not to burn the caramel because the heating process happens very quickly. While your caramel is melting, stick popsicle sticks in the tops of each ittybitty apple.




Next, you will want to dip each apple into the caramel and set on a pan to cool. While the caramel is setting on the apples, melt your white chocolate chips in a double boiler. In a separate little bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.

Once caramel has hardened, dip each apple into the melted white chocolate and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. I added some sugar sprinkles as well. 



So tiny. So cute.



I like to place the apples on an ice-cold cookie sheet so that the white chocolate hardens quickly.




It makes for easier cleanup as well since they come clean right off of the sheet once they have set.
I wrapped my apples with a ribbon and can  not wait to package these up and send them as gifts. They taste so sweet with a hint of apple pie goodness. They would be perfect to have as a party appetizer or dessert. But me- I'm having them for breakfast!



I think you should too!

Mini Apple Pie Caramel Apples

Ingredients
One bag of caramel squares
2 cups white chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
15 mini apples
15 popsicle sticks

1. Melt caramel squares
2. Stick popsicle sticks in the ittybitty apples while caramel is melting
3. Dip each apple into caramel and set aside until caramel hardens.
4. While caramel is setting, melt white chocolate chips. 
5. Once caramel has set on the apples, dip each apple into the melted white chocolate and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture
6. Place apples on a frozen cookie sheet
7. Wait (I know...so hard) while the chocolate hardens
8. Enjoy!!
 





Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Baking up a Storm


The good thing about the holidays is unlimited cocoa (with marshmallows!) and warm, fuzzy socks.There really is nothing like hot chocolate on these cold, holiday days. Or cocoa and a Polar Bear Bar.
Today has been so, so chilly. I am still sitting in my pjs. And I don't plan on changing into real clothes anytime soon. There were freeze warnings and ice storms in all of the north South Carolina area this morning and I squealed a little when there were snowflakes snowflurries falling outside. Too wet to stick, but they made me so happy.


After lounging around and relaxing, we decided that it was the perfect weather to bake some pies. Each year, our church has a Pie-Drive where you bring your baked pies for families in need. It has now become a little tradition and I look forward to it each year! This year, we baked four pumpkin pies.









After whipping up the pies, we knew it was time for a warm lunch. Rainy, (&snowflurry!) chilly days call for cornbread and chili.







I have been wanting to make recipes from my Magnolia Bakery cookbook ever since I visited the bakery in New York City a couple of summers ago and have been flipping through my book to decide which recipes to make for Thanksgiving tomorrow.




Everynight in New York City, we would walk down to the Magnolia Bakery and pick up treats like their sweet Pistachio cupcakes, signature Red Velvet cupcakes, and their Magic Cookie bars (my favorite!). 


 
The cookbook is one of my favorite things and I look forward to baking and trying every recipe. 




I can't wait to write down the day I enjoy the recipes in my cookbook, along with who I enjoyed them with, so that I can make somewhat of a cookbook scrapbook. I think it will be so much fun to look back on which days I made each recipe and the memories that were made on that day.

It has been so nice to bake up a storm on this icy day. I'm looking forward to curling up with another cup of cocoa and doing it all again tomorrow. I hope your Holiday week is going well! What are you baking up?




Sunday, November 24, 2013

Polar Bear Bars


At first, I was thinking about calling these "Missing Top Left Corner Chocolate Chip Bars." You know... when you accidentally have to eat the top left corner of the pan for tasting purposes? 




and then you have to take a close up picture
and pretend you are completely oblivious and innocent to the fact that the top upper-left corner is missing....




See? No top left corner missing here!

But then I decided that "Missing Top Left Corner Chocolate Chip Bars" didn't have a good ring to it. 
And if you were to bring these to a family reunion, Thanksgiving dinner, faculty brunch (which you should because these bars are so, so delicious and everyone will want to hug you) "Missing Top Left Corner Chocolate Chip Bars" is a mouthful to respond when everyone asks you about these chocolatey, chewy treats. 




These delicious bars are a lot like brownies, except you use white chocolate to make the batter, instead of cocoa powder. And you use coconut oil instead of butter for the extra chewy-ness factor. 

And of course, you always toss in chocolate chips. Always. 

I had a really hard time coming up with a name for these bars after deciding that "Missing Top Left Corner Chocolate Chip Bars" just wasn't going to work. 

But because of the chilly, chilly day. And because our family dinner conversation somewhat revolved around a bear in the woods which somehow turned into a story about polar bears living in South Carolina (Yes, I really don't know. I have crazy cousins to thank for this story.) and because there is white chocolate in these treats, Polar Bear Bars sounded perfect. 




and after a couple of hours, a lot more than just the leftcorner was missing from the pan. 




These chocolatey bars are melt-in-your-mouth delicious when you first take them right out of the oven. And pair perfectly with a glass of cold milk. 

And since it is almost Thanksgiving, which means it is almost Christmas, which means Santa is on his way, you need to make these right now to test out for him. 

Santa likes Polar Bears.
 And I'm sure he would also wouldn't mind trying a  "Missing Left Corner Chocolate Chip Bar"...err um... Polar Bear Bar. 

Polar Bear Bars Recipe:

Ingredients
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
3 eggs
1/2 Cup of Coconut Oil
1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. of baking soda
1 1/4 Cup of flour
1 Cup of sugar


1. Preheat your oven to 350 and prepare a 9x13 baking pan.(I always line my pans with Parchment paper)
2. On low heat, melt white chocolate chips and coconut oil together. 
3. While melting white chocolate chips and oil, mix your flour, sugar, and baking soda in a separate mixing bowl. 
4. Add the white chocolate and oil mixture to the mixing bowl. Crack in the eggs and add the vanilla extract. 
5. Toss in 1 cup of milk chocolate chips
6. Pour into 9x13 pan and bake for 18-22 minutes. 
7. Let cool and enjoy! 
8. Get on Santa's nice list with Polar Bear Bars, but make sure you sample the left corner of them first.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Happy Dancing on this Friday


Oh boy! Oh boy! It is finally Thanksgiving break and I am happy dancing about it. 



Care to happy dance with me? 
 I'm happy dancing because one entire holiday week means lots of recipes to make and taste, (Yes, cookies!)
lots of crafts to craft, (Christmas is pretty much here!) 
and lots of blog posts to come. (Have I said cookies and crafts?)



I'm happy dancing because yes I bought my sweet car, Pearl, an early Christmas present: reindeer antlers and a big red nose.  Holly jolly, holly jolly. 

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And I'm happy dancing because this past week, I met with an amazing wedding photographer (and blog reader) -Lamar Gee- for a few lessons on using my camera. Before these lessons, the only thing I knew how to do with my camera was press the button and hope for the best. Lamar offered to teach my good friend, Hayley,  and I some camera skills after classes one day. So we met up at Ike and Jane's in Athens. I learned a lot about IOS, shutter speed, lighting, and settings. I still need to practice, practice. I can't wait to one day write a blog post about camera techniques, but I definitely need to practice what I know for now. Thanks so much Lamar for taking time out of your week to teach us so much! I can't wait to take lots of pictures this upcoming week.

I'm happy dancing because tomorrow I will be headed to SC to see family and spend a lot of time together. We love Christmas so much, and we will most likely spend breaks between turkey and pie and those delicious mashed potatoes watching Christmas movies and decorating. *happy dancing*

And of course, it wouldn't be Friday without a few of my featured Friday favorites!


First off, this wonderful wedding video. I cried big, happy alligator tears after watching this one:

 


So, so sweet!

And this motivational video has my heart as well. I think I may need to start watching this every Monday for a little inspiration: 




"Here is a surprise corndog I bought you because you're my friend!" My favorite line. And now I used this line on an everyday basis.

It is time to get crafty this season and so I got a little help for this Friday Favorite at my favorite crafty site: A Beautiful Mess.




these would be the perfect gift to give! Maybe fill them with a little cocoa, lots of Hershey kisses, and a peppermint stick?

I also love this idea for a washing machine and dryer. Although I do not currently have a washer and dryer, I can't wait to get them so I can polkadot and stripe them.A Beautiful Mess blog has done it again! 



I love this Christmas verse print: 



I would like to paint it on a giant canvas to hang for Christmas time.

Vanilla Bean Noel lotion is finally back at Bath and Body Works! I want to run and get some right now. I love it so, so much.


And of course, this wouldn't be a Friday favorites post without cookies. 
Cue more happy dancing. 



I have been wanting to make these from Averie Cooks for so long.They look so soft and melt-in-your mouth delicious! I would love to toss in some chocolate chips. 



Aha! These look like the most perfect chocolate chunk cookies I have ever seen. For my birthday, my aunt and uncle sent me honey from the Savannah Bee Company, so these are also on my to-make list. 

And finally, these little gems are from Iowa Girl Eats. I remember making these peanutbutter thumbprint cookies with my grandmother using a tube of store-bought peanutbutter cookie dough. These use Cookie Butter. And I do have a slight obsession with all things Cookie Butter.



And that concludes today's Friday favorites! Tonight I plan on testing a new cookie bar recipe, so that should be coming at you soon. Safe travels and happy happy-dancing this weekend!



Friday, November 15, 2013

Breaking Boundaries and Becoming a Sponge


This has definitely been one of my busiest weeks by far! and I have loved every second of it. This past month, I have discovered that I thrive on busyness. With three class project presentations, an ADPR Connection event, a Political Science test, work, and meet-ups with friends in between- my agenda has been packed. But the connections that have formed with the new people I meet at events, in my classes, and at CRU have inspired me to love more and to experience more.


When I first started college, I dreaded talking to people. It was horrible! I loved to talk, but in my first few months of school, it seemed like such an effort to make conversation with those around me. I began joining different clubs including PRSSA at UGA, the ADPR Connection Decoration's committee, and Creative Consultants, where I have been able to meet many different students who are so passionate about their futures. I also became a part of CRU ministry at UGA, where I have  Since then, I have become passionate about talking to others and learning from those I meet.




ADPR Connection is a huge event held for Advertising and PR students at the University of Georgia each year. With over 500 students and 70 professionals from top agencies and corporations in Georgia, it is an event not to miss. I was blessed with the opportunity to be on the decorations committee for the event this past week. From picking up local businesses' food donations, setting up the luncheon, organizing the Grand Hall, and ensuring that workshops ran on schedule, I was able to learn so much from working with a wonderful team. The event itself was so enlightening! I learned boundless information from the experienced leaders who gave advice about the professional world. And most of all, I came out of the event feeling so inspired



My freshman year of college was a tough one. I now know that I was not stretching my creative capabilities to their maximum, nor was I taking advantage of the opportunities to connect with those around me. I spent more time sitting in my dorm room and stressing about tests than actually doing and learning. I have heard so many people say that the enjoyment you have in college comes from finding your "niche." And although it sounds cheesy, it is so true! 

Finding what you love and what inspires you is so important. If you like painting, dancing, singing, reading, writing, do what makes you happy! And find a way to incorporate that into your career, free time, and everyday life. 



I love change. I love organizing events. I love planning. I love crafting. I love seeing what a difference I can make and motivating myself to do the best I can do. I love accomplishing tasks that I thought were impossible. And seeing that they can be done is so thrilling and fulfilling.

Once you find what you love to do, push yourself to go even further! Love more. Learn more. Experience more. At ADPR Connection, a lot of professionals spoke about "Becoming a Sponge." Soak it in! There is so much out there in this big ol' world that has yet to be discovered and so many things that you can learn about yourself and others. Become a sponge. Accomplish what you thought was impossible. 

ADPR Connection's main theme this year was "Breaking Boundaries." And I can testify that since breaking boundaries, joining clubs and ministries that enable me to surround myself with passionate people, and pushing myself to become a sponge...I have grown so much. 

Sometimes we have to let those walls come down, forget about stress, surround ourselves with passionate people, experience more, and just soak it all in! Break those boundaries and become a sponge.  :) 



Friday, November 8, 2013

Things I'm loving Friday!


Finals are nearing, which means professors have been stuffing projects, tests, and presentations into these last few days like nobody's business. But I have been so, so thankful for all of the wonderful events, activities, and friendships that I have been blessed with these past couple of  weeks.


One thing I'm loving lately is hand-written correspondences. It is so relaxing and nothing makes me happier than to write letters to loved ones. (and to receive snail mail as well!) 



There is something special about handwritten thank you notes and letters that make me feel so grateful for those around me.




The song I've been loving this week is "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody." A couple of weekends ago, we listened to this song and had our own little dance party on the way to the CRU retreat.




 I have loved it ever since. It is my pump-up morning song since it has been a little bit rougher to pull back the covers and get moving on these chillier mornings.

Another Friday favorite: Harry Potter on CD. Yes, I am a nerd. And while I am working on school work or traveling to see family, I pop a Harry Potter disc into my computer and have it read all of the chapters to me.


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Since I haven't read the books since elementary school, it has been so exciting to re-live all of the adventures all over again. I just placed the next Harry Potter audio book in the series on hold at the library so I can listen to it with all of the Holiday traveling ahead.

My day schedule with classes and work is pretty crazy, so it was so nice to be able to have a Monsters U movie night with friends from CRU and also a pizza night tonight! My good friend Carly came over and we each brought different ingredients to make one delicious Margherita pizza. We used pizza dough from Trader Joe's, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, chicken sausage, and spaghetti sauce. Is there a better way to spend a Friday night? I really don't think so.

And oh! I can't forget about the multiple trips I have taken to Mama's Boy for breakfast this month. (and I may even be heading there tomorrow


It is my goal to order everything on the menu at least once or twice or three times. 



I'm really feeling their Chocolate Cake for Breakfast Meal or their Blackforest Pancakes? Chocolate everything. Which leads me to this Friday favorite: Dark Chocolate Peanutbutter Dreams peanutbutter. I put it on everything! Waffles, toast, pancakes, apples, bananas. It is so, so good. I just purchased this jar and it is almost gone already. oops!




And if you just so happen to have some leftover Halloween candy, dessert pizza is always the answer. A little nutella, maybe a little Dark Chocolate Peanutbutter Dreams, and Halloween candy galore. Place in the oven, bake until hot, gooey, and delicious. Seriously.  




I hope you have had a wonderful Friday and a wonderful weekend ahead! 



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