February 28, 2011

MM...Exterior Home

I'm really excited about today's Makeover Monday!  My cousin, Sharlyn, emailed me and asked if I could do the EXTERIOR of her home!  She just moved to Colorado a few months ago and is anxious to make it look like a home:)  
This is what Sharlyn has to say:
Alright Summer I know you are an INTERIOR decorator but I thought maybe you could help me with the EXTERIOR!  We just moved into our new house and it is driving me crazy that it looks like no one lives in our house because we have NO decorations outside, not even a welcome mat!  What are some of your ideas to spruce it up a little bit?  Some of our ideas are a swing, planter boxes, and painting the door.
Anything ideas would be helpful!
Here is what her home looks like, as well as her cute little guy waving at us:):

I will admit, the Exterior of our home is totally my husbands job.  He loves it and has a green thumb and always makes it look pretty.  So I asked him for a few ideas and then searched for some pictures.

The first thing I did notice was that the whole house was the same color.  Painting the door would make a huge impact...Red would really make it pop!  If you want to have some more pop, look at this picture:
image from EZ Home Exteriors
They painted the moulding and garage white.  You don't have to do white, this is just an example of some other color to the house.  You could do a dark brown even.  If you don't want to do the whole house, you could paint the shutters, balcony, part of the column and maybe around the garage door.

This planter came from Ballard Design, but you can find them at Home Depot or Lowes, but these would look great with tons of greenery and flowers hanging off of the "balcony"

You must have a door mat:)  I love that you were honest that you didn't have one yet!  I love this one from Bed Bath and Beyond because of the fun rubber frame the mat goes it.  It will make the mat stay put instead of moving back and forth when people clean their feet!  Its only $19.99...can't beat that!  They also have several different mats you can choose from to go in the rubber frame.
I think a swing would be fabulous on your porch!  I found this one at porchswings.com and they have tons to choose from.  This one is only $130 and has free shipping!!

Now, when you get your porch swing, a cushion would add some nice color to your home, but that might be difficult to find one to fit already made.  The next best thing would be outdoor pillows!!  You can find these at Pier 1 for about $20-25.  If you are using pillows or cushions, make sure that it goes with whatever color you paint your door:)  

I can also visualize some rod iron work above the porch in that empty space by the peak...does that even 
make sense?  You can find these anywhere: Home Depot, Lowes, etc...

I think a wreath would be fabulous on your door also:)  Here is a cute Easter 
Wreath from The Wreath Depot.  

Also, it doesn't hurt to have tons of flowers and various flower pots by 
your door and in the garden.  

I hope this gives you a few ideas to mess around with!  And as always, 
we would love to see the finished product!  Have fun!

February 23, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I have been DYING to share this recipe with you!  I was a little worried about the sound of Red Velvet Cheesecake, but got over that pretty quickly...

My family was coming into town and I asked my brother, Curt, what dessert he was craving and also if he had a challenge for me.  He said he wanted Red Velvet Cheesecake...I personally have never heard of it!  I was thinking of all these different things I could do like make a cake and then put cheesecake between the layers and then top it off with ganche (which still sounds really good to me and I might still try that).  I finally decided to google Red Velvet Cheesecake and one came up from Southern Living.  It has to be good...right? I kept looking and found one on The Recipe Girl...it was the same recipe!!  So I knew this was what I was going to make.  Long story short...it was AMAZING and a new favorite!  
 I know what your thinking... cheesecake on top of cheesecake?  Well...the white stuff is cream cheese frosting, and it is amazing!  This would not be good without it!!

Red Velvet Cheesecake
From: Southern Living and The Recipe Girl

17 regular-sized oreo cookies, crushed finely (or 1½ cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs)
¼ cup butter, melted
1 Tbs granulated sugar

Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sour cream
½ cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
Two 1-ounce bottles red food coloring (I just used one)

One 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate curls
heavy duty foil

1. Prepare crust: Stir together oreo crumbs, melted butter, and 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar; press mixture into bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare water bath: Fill large roasting pan (big enough for springform pan to fit into) with about 1 inch of water. Place in oven and allow to preheat along with the oven.

3. Prepare filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium-low speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add eggs and remaining cheesecake ingredients, mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.

4. Take out two sheets of heavy duty foil and layer them on top of one another. Place springform pan on top of the foil and wrap the foil gently around the pan and up the sides. Make sure that there are no tears or holes and that the foil comes all the way up around all sides of the cake. Carefully place the foil-protected pan into the water bath in the preheated oven.

5. Bake for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 300°F. Bake for an additional 75 minutes or until the center is firm. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Carefully remove cheesecake from water bath and place on wire rack. Run a thin knife around the outer edge of the cheesecake. Cool on rack for a couple of hours, until the cheesecake becomes close to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours (or overnight). Remove sides of springform pan.

6. Prepare frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly on top of cheesecake. Garnish, if desired.

***I had to cook my cheesecake for an extra 45 minutes.  I have no idea why...but glad I did.  It shouldn't jiggle too much!  I also used the foil to wrap the springform pan and did the water bath....not one single crack.  Beautiful!!

Linked up with:

Sweets for a Saturday

Sweet Tooth Friday

February 17, 2011

German Chocolate Bars

Sorry I have been MIA lately...I have been trying to get our house in order...my kids are a mess, house is a mess...therefore, I am a mess;)  I think I have HOPEFULLY gotten things put back together!  I will have to blog about what I have done!  So...now I am back to what I love doing...blogging and BAKING!  
 My Mom's friend, Brenda, emailed this to her and when I saw the recipe I had to make it right away!  It just sounds good!  German Chocolate Bars...you know?  Sometimes you can just look at recipe and know its good.  So...if you are a chocolate, coconut and pecan fan...you will die and then go to heaven!!

German Chocolate Bars
From: Brenda and Family Circle

  • Bars:
  • 1  box  (17.6 ounces) brownie mix with milk-chocolate chunks
  • 1  large  egg
  • 1/3  cup  vegetable oil
  • 1  teaspoon  coconut extract
  • 1/2  cup  chopped sweetened flake coconut
  • 1/2  cup  chopped pecans

  • Frosting:
  • 3/4  cup  sugar
  • 5  tablespoons  unsalted butter, cut up
  • 1  can  (5 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 2    egg yolks
  • 1  cup  sweetened flake coconut
  • 3/4  cup  chopped pecans
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract


1. Bars: Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with nonstick foil.
2. In a large bowl, stir together brownie mix, egg, 1/4 cup water, oil and extract just until smooth. Stir in coconut and nuts. Spoon into prepared pan, spreading to edges.
3. Bake bar at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until center is set.
4. Frosting: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking, until very bubbly and thickened, 13 to 15 minutes. Stir in coconut, nuts and vanilla; cook 2 more minutes.
5. After removing bar from oven, pour warm frosting over top, spreading to edges. Cool 20 minutes on wire rack at room temperature. Chill slightly, or until ready to serve. Use foil to lift bar from pan for easier slicing.

February 11, 2011

Valentine S'mores

First of all...I have to get the cute craft out of the way:)  I am made these for my boys teachers for Valentines Day this year...A cute box of chocolates.  I got a million of these tins a few years ago and am slowly using them up!  But I love them!!  You can get them here.  I just got some Hershey's Nuggets and wrapped them in some cute paper.  Then put a thick slice of paper around the tin, then a thick ribbon and a tag.  You can spruce it up how ever you want!
 Ok...now onto the treat;)  I saw these on Crazy Domestic and KNEW I had to make them!  (She has a great tutorial)  I mean...who doesn't love things in miniature?  You can pop these little guys in your mouth and eat like a million of them.  I bagged these up and gave them to teachers.  I'm all about getting sweets out of my house right away.  I let other people eat the calories for me:)
 Ok for reals!  How cute are these!  You bite into them and get graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate!  LOVE!
 You make a graham cracker crust with graham crackers and butter...freeze it and cut out little hearts.  To DIE for!
 You must put on cute sprinkles...just because.
Make these for your Valentine!  They will {{heart}} you!  Have a great weekend!

Valentine S'mores
Source: Crazy Domestic

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
dipping chocolate, store bought
heart shaped marshmallows

Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together, spread them evenly into a foil lined 9"x13" pan, press down firmly (I used the back of a spatula) and place into the freezer for about an hour. Remove the foil from the pan and use a mini cookie cutter (mine is Wilton, found at Walmart/Michaels) to cut out heart shapes.

Dip the very bottom of the marshmallows into melted dipping chocolate and place them on top of your cut out graham cracker crust.

Wait for that to cool, I stuck mine in the freeze because I'm impatient! Then dip the whole thing back into the dipping chocolate, place it on wax paper and top with sprinkles, or decorate how ever you like!

February 10, 2011

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

 First...I have to share this craft with you...A. because it took me 5 minutes and B. because it is almost Valentines and I haven't shared ANY of my crafts!!  So...have a look, go to Hobby Lobby and get this picture frame and these conversation hearts and some pins, pin it to the frame and enjoy:)

 Now for the whoopie pies!  I am totally obsessed with this "cookie".  They are so fun and you just can't help but yell "WHOOPIE" when you eat one:)  Ok...I know...that was lame.  Couldn't help it.  Besides, thats how they got their name!!

My sweet friend, Shannon happened to have one of these pans and I stole it from her...the dough is pretty thick, so I had to spread it out a bit.  No worries...if you don't have this pan, you can either just scoop them and have round ones, or you can put the dough in a pastry bag and pipe hearts on your cookie sheet.
The heart was pretty thick, so I cut them in half with a serrated knife.  Then you pipe on the goodness...a.k.a. cream cheese frosting.

Are they not sweetest things ever??  They taste even better!!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
source: Taste of Home

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1 TBS red food coloring
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. baking cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. clear vanilla

In a microwave, melt chocolate; stir until smooth.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, sour cream, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.   Stir in melted chocolate.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2" apart (or use the heart shaped pan) onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For filling, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Spread filling on the bottoms of half of the cookies, about 1 TBS on each.  Store in the refrigerator.

February 9, 2011

Chocolate Fondue

 Last week we had 4 snow days...or 4 days with NO school.  That obviously just wasn't enough...so today is a snow day also.  So that makes 5 days to make up...and there are only 2 make up days on the calendar.  Oh well.  What do you do?  Too bad it feels like 0 degrees outside so playing in the snow just isn't fun!  I guess we are just going to have to bake!  Which I fully plan on doing!

Now on to the fondue.  Valentines is coming up and nothing is more romantic than chocolate:)  I only had a few things to dip in chocolate and I have to say my favorite was granola bars.  So make sure you have a bowl full of them:)

 Yeah...I don't blame you if you lick your screen...I kinda want to do that also.

Why not make a Smore out of them also:)  You might as well!  Just make sure you make this for your Valentine!  Some ideas for dipping:
granola bars
graham crackers
cinnamon bears
pound cake
angel food cake

Chocolate Fondue
recipe from my fabulous mother-in-law!!

1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine chocolate morsels, sweetened condensed milk, whipping cream and vanilla in bowl; stir.  Bake 10 minutes.  Remove from oven; stir until smooth and put in your fondue pot.  Dip until your hearts content:)

February 8, 2011

M.M...Big Reveal!

Yesterday was one of those days when my internet wasn't working and I was freaking out because I have the BEST Makeover Monday EVER!  So I need you to pretend that today is Monday and it is a Makeover Monday as well...  Do you remember Stacey writing me about her daughter, Emma's, room? Well, the room is DONE and she sent me some FABULOUS pictures!  I can't even tell you how giddy I was when I got these!  The room is incredible and I wish I had a girl so I could do the same theme!  

This is what Stacey wrote me:
Hello! It has been a long time coming, but I finally finished Emma's room makeover! I slowly bought things for the room after getting your awesome suggestions, and couldn't wait to share the final product with you! I appreciate your help with ideas for the room. Emma LOVES it, and that's what matters most! Thank you!!!

Enjoy the eye candy!!



 Can you believe this change!??  I love the new color scheme and all the fun Paris pictures.  I am also LOVING the bedspread! It is too perfect for the room!
The drapes are a perfect contrast to the pink walls.  I love the lamp to the left:)  You have to have an Eiffel Tower and a dress form with this theme!
The pictures are too perfect.
 This was my favorite part...I love this transformation!  The drapes, the picture, the CHAIR, desk...so brilliant!

The chair again...also love the rug...as you can see I pretty much just LOVE everything about this room!  Stacey...thank you so much for sharing Emma's new room with us!  It turned out so beautiful!  I bet you had a blast putting everything together!  Thanks again!

February 3, 2011

Wrapped Meatballs

 Today is Day #3 for Super Bowl Party Foods...Wrapped Meatballs.  These are so incredibly easy to make and taste so good!  I think the secret is getting really good, all beef meatballs and a good Alfredo sauce.  I'm not a fan of the jar Alfredo sauce, so you can make it or endure it:)  I happened to endure it!

I got this recipe from a lady, Elsie, from my husbands office (Thanks Elsie!!).  I have been dying to make them for a long time! I usually see the wrapped Lil' Smokies, so this will be something unexpected!  Besides...who doesn't love a good meatball???
 You start by cutting each crescent trinangle in half, like above and then wrap each meatball up.

You can't just leave well enough alone...so make sure you add some Parmesan cheese on top:)

Wrapped Meatballs

32 Meatballs
1 recipe for Alfredo Sauce, for dipping
2-8 oz. cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

Thaw 32 meatballs.  On an ungreased baking sheet, separate crescent rolls into 8 pieces.  Cut each piece in half to form 2 narrow triangles.  Place a meatball onto each crescent triangle; pull up corners of roll, wrapping the meatball.  Bake as per directions on crescent roll package, about 13 min.  If desired, sprinkle cheese on wraps while still warm.  Serve with Alfredo sauce for dipping.

February 2, 2011

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips

I don't know about you all...but I AM FREEZING!  It feels like -7 degrees outside!  We also have had rolling black-outs, so no power:)  Good times!  On top of everything else, there is no school today as well.  We have been busy building forts and watching movies...and trying to stay warm.  Gotta love Texas!  

Here is another Super Bowl recipe that is a must!  This one is nice since it isn't salty and its more on the "refreshing" side of appetizers.  Fruit Salsa...all fruit, no spice.  So fun and pretty.  Now, you can always stick the salsa in a bowl and have the cinnamon chips surrounding the bowl...but I like things cute and in miniture form, so I put the salsa in little votive holders for some and I got wonton wrappers, dipped them in butter and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on them and folded them to fit in a mini cupcake tin.  Then I put the salsa in each cup.  That was fun:)

 Seriously...these chips are to DIE FOR!  I would just eat the chips by themselves!  So make sure you double the recipe for these:)
The recipe calls for fruit preserves, any flavor.  I used apricot.  I loved it.  I also like how it didn't color the dip any...for example, I bet strawberry or raspberry would taste fantastic, but it will make your salsa really red...so if you are up for that...go for it:)

Also...since strawberries and raspberries are on the expensive side and don't look so beautiful, I just used frozen mixed berries, picked out strawberries and raspberries and let them thaw a bit.  I'm sure blueberries and blackberries would be yummy in here also!  You can use whatever you want...thats what so great about this recipe! 

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips
adapted from All Recipes

2 kiwis, peeled and diced
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced
8 oz. raspberries
1 lb. strawberries
2 TBS white sugar
1 TBS brown sugar
3 TBS fruit preserves, any flavor

10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
butter, melted
2 c. cinnamon sugar

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves.  Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.  (You could probably cut the sugar down if you don't want it too sweet...the fruit is pretty sweet already...)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut tortillas into wedges and coat both sides of flour tortilla with melted salted butter.  Arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet.  Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar.

Bake in oven 8-13 minutes, until golden brown.  Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges.  Allow to cool about 15 minutes.  Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

February 1, 2011

Fried Ravioli

 Hello!  Hello!  I hope you are all having a nice, cold day like we are in Texas!  The weather here is so wierd...on Saturday it was like 76 degrees, today...it feels like 4 degrees and started raining, then sleeting and then snowing.  So it is a nasty frozen mess outside and no one is leaving there house...I think for fear of what other drivers will do!  The boys played in the "snow" for a bout 5 minutes and then ran inside because it was WAY too cold!  I can't blame them...they made me take pictures and I couldn't hack it either:)
 Now, onto the Super Bowl treats:)  These little guys are simply A-MAZING!  I think my favorite out of the 4  appetizers that I made today (no worries, you will get all 4 recipes)!  These were such a nice surprise when biting into them.  Since Ravioli is usually soft, you get a nice crisp and then you get all this cheese and flavor!  This may be the first thing to go at your party!
 The line up...flour, egg/milk mixture, seasoned breadcrumbs, Ravioli (I just used the frozen kind from Wal-Mart and thawed it out) and marinara sauce.  Easy enough!

Yum...I wish you could pull one out of the computer and try it!

Fried Ravioli
source: Costco

1/4 c. flour
2 large eggs
4 tsp. milk
1/2 - 1 c. seasoned dry bread crumbs
12 frozen Four-Cheese Ravioli, thawed
3 c. vegetable, corn or canola oil
1 TBS grated Parmesan or other cheese
Marinara sauce or salsa

Place flour in a shallow bowl.  Combine eggs and milk in a small bowl.  Place bread crumbs in another bowl.  Gently coat each ravioli with flour.  Dip in the egg mixture and then coat with bread crumbs.  Pour oil into a heavy frying pan and heat until it sizzles.  Fry ravioli 4 at a time for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.  Cut ravioli in half, insert a toothpick in each half and serve with marinara sauce.  Makes 4-6 servings.