Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Kristi's Kitchen Hacks #3 - Replace Twist Ties with Dollar Tree Clips

Kristi's Kitchen Hacks #3 - I HATE twist ties because they are a pain to use and ain't nobody got time for that! I get rid of them completely whenever I open a bag. To replace them I am OBSESSED with these fun colorful clips from Dollar Tree! They are coated metal and super durable. You can usually find them near the check out stands. I use them for bread bags, frozen vegetables, chocolate chip bags, and sometimes for cereal and chip bags.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

One Bowl Buttery Corn Muffins

The best homemade cornbread muffins I've ever made! Easy recipe that can be made in just one bowl. Makes 12 Muffins**

1 stick melted butter (½ cup)
2 large eggs
¾ cup faux buttermilk*
2 T honey
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup cornmeal
1 ¼ cup flour

Preheat oven to 400. In a large microwave safe bowl (glass or ceramic) melt the stick of butter. Stir in eggs, milk, honey, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sprinkle cornmeal and flour evenly over the top. Stir with long fork or whisk until just combined. Bake at 400 degrees for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out dry.

*faux buttermilk = scant tablespoon of vinegar plus milk up to 3/4 cup total volume

**I use the red silicone muffin pan from Aldi and the cups are a little bit bigger than the standard muffin tin.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Cute Articles of Faith Printable of All 13

These cute printables of the Articles of Faith are found here but each one has to be individually downloaded. I compiled them into one publisher file so you can edit them for size, etc. and one pdf file if you want to print them all at once as is, full page. These make a cute wall or table framed decoration for a baptism.

Link to Download Publisher File for Custom Edits

Link to Download PDF

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Kristi's Kitchen Hacks #2 - Baby Tasting Spoons!

I keep a stash of plastic baby spoons in my kitchen drawer right next to the stove and it has been life changing! This way I always have a tasting spoon while I'm cooking. I also use them for serving toppings at the table like sour cream, etc. They are just the right size and you aren't using up all your regular spoons!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Cinnamon Streusel Topped Coffee Cake Muffins

Crumb Topping
1/4 cup melted butter (salted)
3 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoon milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make crumb topping by melting the butter in a microwave safe bowl, preferably glass. Then stir in the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour until well mixed. It will form into small balls. Spread the mixture onto a silicon baking mat or sheet of parchment paper. Spread it into a thin layer and let dry.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, canola oil and egg. Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula or long fork until just combined.

Scoop the batter into 10-12 muffin cups (I have a silicon muffin pan whose cups are slightly larger so in mine it makes 10 muffins). Break up the dried crumb topping with a ground beef masher or spatula edge until it is crumbly enough to sprinkle. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over all the muffins, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or just until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar and milk and stir until smooth and can be drizzled over muffins (adding more milk or sugar as necessary). When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze on each muffin. Allow glaze to set before serving.

Slightly adapted from http://damndelicious.net/2014/03/24/coffee-cake-muffins/

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Kristi's Kitchen Hacks #1 - Easy and Fast Way to Frost Sugar Cookies

Kristi's Kitchen Hacks #1 - Piping the frosting is the easiest and fastest way I've found to decorate sugar cookies when making for a party or event!

My cookie recipe here and my frosting recipe here!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Easy Sew Easter Egg Bunting Banner

Made this for Easter, super easy sewing project! Only takes 1-2 hours. I glued tiny clothes pins on the back of mine, 1 inch down from the top, so that I could adjust them on the bias tape string and take them on and off. Could also use ribbon to hang them on or twine. Biggest expense was purchasing pinking shears because I didn't have them. Was able to us a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby and got the Fiskar's brand for about 18 dollars total. I used low fill batting and ironed flat between each step. I just printed out an egg shape from the internet. Traced with a marker, sewed in from the marker 1/4 inch. Cut with pinking shears on the pen line. Used double wide bias tape for the string. Picture instructions of each step below.

Inspired by http://kathyscottage.blogspot.com/2015/06/heart-banner-tutorial.html

Just FYI, the HOME letter decor is from LTD Commodities

Monday, April 8, 2019

DIY Water Based Acrylic Stain

Whenever I do small wood projects I just make my own stain out of acrylic paint and water. Costs nothing and doesn't have dangerous fumes! You can use it indoor. You can adjust the color however you want with the addition of black, red, brown, or yellow acrylic paint and water. Just be sure to stir it well and frequently while using. I seal the wood with MinWax Polyacrylic.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Little Einstein's Rocketship Cake

Made this for my daughter's birthday a few years ago. Used my cake paint for the red and blue on top of a white frosting. Colored the red sucker stick with a red sharpie. The wings are made of cut sugar cone and graham crackers. Links to my recipes below:

Cake Paint Recipe

Cake Recipe

Frosting Recipe

Saturday, April 6, 2019

DIY Photo Print Hanging Boards with Clips

I take a ton of pictures and I love to print them out ... but I'm obviously not going to cover my walls in frames. So I came up with the idea to make different size boards that have clips I can easily change out the pictures. Item list and picture instructions below.

Item List for Horizontal Board
- from Lowes, they have ridges and interlock. Came in a package for about 1 dollar a piece
- steel cables for string
- ferrule and stop kit from lowes (the most expensive part!), used a hammer to smash them flat on the concrete patio
- tiny clothespins from hobby lobby
Used my DIY water based acrylic wood stain
- I sealed the wood with MinWax Polyacrylic.
- attached to wall with 3M velcro strips for the individual board, use wire to hang the large board

Item List for Vertical Board
- boards from lowes in craft wood section
- used small finishing nails for vertical board and hung a small metal clip from scrapbook section of Hobby Lobby
- Used my DIY water based acrylic wood stain
- I sealed the wood with MinWax Polyacrylic.
- hung on wall with picture frame hanger

Friday, April 5, 2019

Girl or Boy Baby Monster Cake

Made this for my daughter's first birthday because she is our little Monster. Used a small circle with a half ball cake form on top. Used sugar cones for horns, oreos for eyes and teeth, chocolate chips for the center of the eyes, and sugar pearls from Hobby Lobby for the tops of the horns. Frosting was cream cheese buttercream flavored with crushed freeze dried strawberries. Could make green, blue, or yellow frosting for a boy cake. Link to my cake recipe.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cream Puff Shells

So easy to whip up, I'm almost afraid to share the recipe :) Filling options are endless! The perfect dessert for special events, book club, or to share at a dinner party!

1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup flour
4 eggs (room temp*)

Preheat oven to 375 and line cookie sheets with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Combine butter, water, and sugar in large nonstick saucepan over medium heat stirring frequently. Once it comes to a boil remove from heat and stir in flour. Bring pot back to burner on medium heat and stir constantly for 2 minutes with a spatula or wooden spoon, the dough should start forming a ball. Transfer dough to mixing bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Turn on stand mixer or hand mixer and beat at low to medium speed adding one egg at a time until each is well blended in. Once all eggs are incorporated continue to beat for 30 seconds or until the dough is smooth and glossy.

Use a small to large cookie scoop to form cream puff shells on parchment or silicone baking mat lined cookie sheet. Make sure each shell is about 2 inches apart. If desired smooth any bumps on the top with a wet finger. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. If you are cooking two trays, switch halfway through. Turn the oven off and open the door to release the heat and steam. Let the shells dry in the oven with the door closed for an additional 10 minutes. Transfer shells to cooling rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container until ready to serve. Fill with fillings options listed below. Can be spooned into after cutting a hole out of the top or piped in with a pastry bag.

Filling Options:

  • chopped fruit
  • sweetened whipped cream
  • sweetened whipped cream mixed with cocoa powder or crushed freeze dried berries
  • lemon curd

*Quickly get eggs to room temperature by immersing uncracked eggs in a bowl of warm water or cracking the eggs into a bowl and letting them sit for a few minutes.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Zucchini and Tomato Pasta Sauce

I wrote this recipe as result of the fact that Aldi almost always sells zucchini :) It's a great way to incorporate it into a meal and a nice variation from traditional spaghetti sauce. I make it about once a month. Very quick to prep and it can be paired with any kind of pasta!

1 pound bite sized zucchini pieces (from approximately 2 medium)
2 T olive oil
2 T minced garlic
1 - 14.5 oz can Italian style petite diced tomatoes, with juice (or regular variety plus one teaspoon Italian seasoning)
1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 T spaghetti seasoning mix
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
hot pasta for serving
fresh parmesan for topping

Heat oil to medium low in large frying pan. Add garlic, once it starts to sizzle, stir for one minute. Add the zucchini, turn up to medium heat, and saute stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add can of tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasoning mix. Cover, reduce to medium low. Simmer for 5 minutes or until zucchini reaches desired tenderness. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot pasta noodles and garnish with fresh parmesan.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Raw Sweet Potato Sticks - Snack Idea!

The easiest and healthiest way to eat a sweet potato, raw! My friend Leslie introduced me to this idea when she had some at a party. I didn't know you could eat raw sweet potato?!?! Much like a carrot but a lot sweeter :) This is now a favorite healthy snack of mine.

sweet potato, peeled

Using a very sharp knife, cut peeled sweet potato lengthwise into slices and then into sticks. Store in airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for at least a week!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

Homemade, from scratch, version of Campell's Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

2 boxes chicken broth (32 oz)
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2/3 cup frozen green peas
8 ounces shredded chicken (from baked split chicken breast)
4 ounces thin soup noodles (can find in Hispanic section)
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring chicken broth to simmer in large stock pot. Cook celery, carrots, and peas, covered, until tender. Add chicken and noodles. Cook covered until noodles reach desired tenderness, should take about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hashbrown Pancakes

Easy, filling, and tasty! Gluten free and the addition of meat is optional. Makes 4-5 pancakes. Be sure to read the tips at the bottom. I make these once a week now! Adapted from a recipe found on the back of the frozen shredded hashbrown bag.

2 cups frozen shredded hash browns (thawed)*
3 eggs (whisked with a fork)
½ cup shredded cheese
¼-½ cup crumbled cooked sausage, bacon, ham, or chopped pepperoni slices** (optional)
¼-½ teaspoon seasoned salt, like Lawry's (depending on saltiness of meat or salt preference level)
½-2 tablespoons oil (for cooking)
sour cream for garnish/topping (optional)

Heat oil in frying pan on medium low to medium heat (½-1 tablespoon should be enough if using a good nonstick pan)***. Besure to spread oil evenly over pan. Place a single shred of potato in the oil and when it sizzles then the oil is ready to cook in. Combine potatoes, eggs, cheese, meat, and spices in bowl.

Using a medium ice cream scoop (large cookie scoop), scoop out  onto your heated frying pan and press down a little bit to shape into a flattened circle. Cook with lid on for 2 minutes on first side and 1.5-2 minutes on second side, until golden brown and egg is cooked. I leave the lid on while cooking to create more steam to make sure the egg gets cooked quickly without burning the pancake.

Place on paper towels prior to serving to drain any excess grease. Sprinkle with kosher salt and/or black pepper prior to serving.  Garnish with sour cream.

*Thaw on counter or in microwave at 70% power for 30 second increments, stirring between.

**I cooked a bunch of crumbled sausage ahead of time and froze in little bags to have on hand for this recipe.

***My stove settings go from 1-10, I cook these pancakes on 4.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Cake

Made this cake for my daughter's second birthday, after her very favorite song! Moon and stars were made out of my sugar cookie recipe. Then I brushed a powdered sugar and milk glaze over them and dipped them in gold or white sprinkles. Made cake from two layers of 6 inch round cake pans. Cake stand is from Hobby Lobby. Frosting is my cream cheese buttercream recipe. Link to my cake recipe.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Rainbow Unicorn Cake

Made this for my daughter's 5th Birthday. Made the cakes in round pans and then trimmed off brown crust with a sharp knife. Horn is a sugar cone and ears are cut from graham crackers. Dipped both in a sugar water glaze and coated in chunky gold sprinkles from Hobby Lobby. 
Party ideas below. Rainbow twizzlers and bugles for horns. Made headbands as party favor. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Chicken Pillows - Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Rich puffy crescent rolls with a chicken and cream cheese filling, breaded in savory stuffing bread crumbs. Tasty comfort food that's perfect for a Sunday night dinner. Can also use leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. Makes 16 stuffed rolls. Serves 5-8 people.

2-8 ct. cans of refrigerated crescent rolls (16 total)
8-9 oz cooked, shredded chicken*
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
cracked pepper to taste

6 oz box of stuffing (like Stove Top), will only use 3 oz
4 tablespoons of melted butter

1 can jellied cranberry sauce, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 and move oven rack to the middle of the oven. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Crush stuffing in blender, food processor, or with a rolling pin in a zip top bag. Weigh out 3 oz and reserve other 3 ounces in the freezer for the next time you make this recipe.

Using an electric hand mixer, combine chicken, cream cheese, and spices in small bowl. Divide chicken filling among the 16 rolls (approximately 1-2 tablespoons each). You may need to flatten/stretch out the dough a little bit first so that the filling will fit. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the seams together to seal.

Dip each roll in melted butter and then roll in stuffing mix crumbs. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with cranberry jelly.

*Can use fresh chicken from split chicken breast or boneless skinless chicken breast, or 1 can of Sam’s Club canned shredded chicken, drained.

Adapted from a recipe I got from my mother-in-law ;)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Chocolate Chip Muffins

A decadent variation of my fresh blueberry muffin recipe. Like a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate chip pancake ;)  The course sugar sprinkled on the top is the secret to sparkly, sweet, crunch muffin tops! Also a great base muffin recipe for other add ins.

1.5 cups white flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil (or grapeseed)
1 large egg
milk (up to 1 cup volume with egg and oil)  
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips, regular size
coarse sugar (for topping muffins)

Preheat oven to 400. Whisk dry ingredients in mixing bowl. In a large measuring glass add oil, egg, and milk up to one cup total volume, add vanilla. Stir with fork to break up and mix in the egg. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir with fork until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula. Spoon into approximately 8-10 muffins cups. Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. Bake at 400 for 17-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.

The secret to large muffin crowns is to measure the batter in to the muffin tins and let sit at room temperature for 10-25 minutes. Then sprinkle with course sugar just prior to putting them in the oven. The longer they sit, the larger they will rise and crown!

Adapted from my Fresh Blueberry Muffin Recipe

Friday, March 9, 2018

Kristi's Pretty Dang Good Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rarely do I include a long introduction to my recipes … but this one deserves an exception, as I believe there are many of you out there that will relate! For over eight years, I've been longing to conquer a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, and in those eight years I haven’t made ANY progress. Why is the most classic and simple American cookie recipe so complicated to make?!?!? About once a year I decide I’m going to try again and I try a new recipe which is perfect pictures online and then every time it fails and they get worse and worse. They usually turn out flat, with greasy burned edges … and then I get mad and swear off trying again. Every time I come to the conclusion it’s a mystic voodo art that I will never achieve success at.

Well, a few weeks ago I got the urge again. While buying chocolate chips at Aldi, I ran into my friend Alice, dumped my cookie making woes on her, and she told me it took her about 18 years! She gave me some tips and encouraged me to keep trying. So at that moment I was fully motivated and decided the biggest problem with every recipe I’ve tried is that they never call for enough flour, but I didn't know what that magic amount of flour was.

Also, I am very picky. The perfect chocolate chip cookie will not only taste perfect, but look perfect, and it has to adhere to my standards for ingredients. It must be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, no flat edges, and uniformly thick with lots of nooks and crannies It must be made with butter (absolutely no shortening or Crisco sticks), the dough should not require refrigeration before baking, not make a huge batch, and not have weird numbers of measurements for the ingredients.

I started with the "Joy of Cooking" cookbook’s recipe, and after it turned out to make the worst, flattest, most greasy cookies ever, I literally had to double the amount of flour. I have no earthly idea how everybody (including every recipe I've tried from the internet with decent pictures) is making chocolate chip cookies with so little flour!!!

It took me about two weeks and over a dozen batches. I also gained 5 pounds in the process ... so you are welcome for that! Besides the flour, I tweaked the ratio of sugars, the amount of salt, and added a touch of cornstarch to stabilize the cookie and give it a little lift without adding too much flour. I feel that I have now achieved the best possible cookie that my hands and my kitchen can make, using unsalted butter as the only fat. I sure hope this recipe works for others too, because it is quite simple and easy to memorize.

If you can, please try this recipe out in your kitchen! Please follow it "to the T" the first time you make it (including ingredients, directions, and equipment), send me pictures, and let know how they turned out. If you have to make any changes, including type of pan or oven, higher altitude, etc., let me know those details too! I really want to know if this recipe is repeatable in other kitchens and altitudes. Please carefully read the entire recipe including all the instructions, notes, and thoughts. Chocolate chip cookie baking really is a science and there are so many variables, so I am trying to control for as many as possible with my instructions. Let the great chocolate chip cookie making challenge begin! 

Kristi's Pretty Dang Good Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes approx. 24 cookies)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, naturally softened to room temperature
⅔ cup light brown sugar, packed
⅓ cup white sugar

1 large egg
½ tablespoon salt (1.5 teaspoons)
½ tablespoon vanilla (1.5 teaspoons)

2 cups unbleached flour (presifted is preferable)***
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup regular size semi-sweet chocolate chips, chilled or frozen

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl use hand mixer to combine butter and sugars on low speed until well creamed together, 1-1.5 minutes.

Add egg, salt, and vanilla. Mix with hand mixer on low for 20-30 seconds or until well combined. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until all flour is incorporated and dough starts to pull together, about 20-30 seconds. Stir in chocolate chips by hand with a wooden spoon. Dough should not stick to your hands at all.

Measure 1.5 tablespoons of dough for each cookie (I have a small springed cookie scoop that measures 1 tablespoon, so I just overfill it a bit). Shape into rounded ball between hands, and place area with most chocolate chips clustered together on top. If there isn't an area with at least 3-4 chocolate chips clustered together, pull some chocolate chip from bottom, stick them next to some other ones, and reform the rounded ball.

Place on parchment paper lined aluminum baking sheets and bake one sheet at a time at 375 for 8-10 minutes, until tops just barely start showing blushing spots of golden brown. My oven take 9-9.5 minutes. Remove from oven and they will still be a little puffy. Let cookies sit on the tray for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack, and they will flatten out with some nice nooks and crannies.

  • ***When you measure the flour be sure to stir the flour container well, spoon it into your measuring cup with a dinner or soup spoon, then level off the top with the handle of the spoon. This will ensure that your flour is measured correctly and you aren’t adding too much. 
  • Let butter sit out on counter until room temp, soft. Place out night before or morning of if needed. Do not try to gently microwave it, just be patient and let it slowly soften itself on the counter. 
  • Use chilled or frozen chocolate chips 

  • Refrigerate dough balls at cookie sheets for at least 10 minutes if kitchen is warm. (Since it is Spring right now, I have not made this recipe during the summer months yet). 
  • If you want to make the cookies larger, use approximately 2 tablespoons of dough, roll into rounded ball, and flatten slightly after putting on baking sheet. 
  • I have read that different flours may vary in their protein content, and that it could affect the outcome of your cookies, so that is something to keep in mind. I have read that King Arthur flour is very consistent, though I have not tried it yet. I used Walmart brand all purpose unbleached, presifted flour for these cookies. 
  • These taste best about 15-20 minutes after coming out of the oven :)
  • Try baking 1 or 2 cookies first, let them cool completely, evaluate, and then add more flour if needed. If they are too dry or thick, or don't flatten properly after cooling, try making them again and omit the cornstarch or reduce the flour by 1/4 cup. 

  • If you live somewhere where it is hot in the summer you may have problems with your butter being too soft and the cookies turning out flatter. In this case don't let the butter set out overnight, maybe just an hour or two.
  • Also, you may need to refrigerate the dough before or after forming the balls. 
  • However, I have found that the proper softness of the butter results in better cookies than refrigerating the dough alone.

  • 2 beater hand mixer 
  • Electric oven (no convection capabilities). 
  • Pans I used, so if you use a different type of pan they may turn out vastly different: Large jelly roll style aluminum cookie sheets (13x18 - 18 gauge aluminum). 
  • Cookie sheets were lined with good quality parchment paper (Sam’s club brand). 

  • Kitchen temperature was around 71 degrees. 
  • I have a regular electric oven (no convection capabilities). 
  • Elevation approximately 700 feet 
  • Cookies were cooked one sheet at a time with the rack set in the middle of the oven. 

  • Sub semi-sweet chocolate chips for butterscotch, white, etc. 
  • Add ½-¾ cup chopped pecans 
  • For large bakery style cookies, measure out 3 tablespoons of dough. Roll it into a ball and flatten it into a hockey puck shaped disc. Bake for 9-11 minutes.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g8%
Saturated Fat 3.5g17%
Cholesterol 18mg6%
Sodium 36mg2%
Total Carbohydrate 19.4g7%
Dietary Fiber 0.8g3%
Total Sugars 11g 
Protein 1.9g

My lab mate Melissa in grad school who got me started on this quest! My husband, kids, school teachers, bus drivers, neighbors, and friends that were "forced" to eat the test batches. My friend Alice who gave me tips and encouraged me on that fateful day in the baking aisle of Aldi. And my friend Apple, who ate the very cookies that are featured in these pictures ;) 

Inspired by Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition, Chocolate Chip Cookies, page 766.