Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies with Pumpkin Buttercream


Guess what special ingredient these delicious cookies have?  Pumpkin, of course. It's Fall! Everything has to have pumpkin right? lol.  Well, they have another cool ingredient!!  Pumpkin Spice Pudding Mix!!

I have had chocolate chip pudding cookies before and I fell in love.  The pudding makes the cookies softer than usual and adds a great flavor.  When I saw the Pumpkin Spice Pudding Mix at the grocery store, I knew I had to use it for pumpkin cookies!

I had so many ideas for pumpkin cookies.  I had one cookie that I just couldn't get off of my mind though.  Our local bakery, Hall's, has a pumpkin creme pie cookie during the fall.  They gave one to me for free when I was pregnant a few years ago, and now I stop to get them every chance I get!! They are so addictive!!

I decided to add oats to my recipe.  I also made a Pumpkin Buttercream to fill the middle.  They were such a good fall treat. I loved experimenting with the pudding and the buttercream.

I have another box of Pumpkin Spice Pudding.  I have a million ideas for cookies and pies!  What would you make with the Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding ?

Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies with Pumpkin Buttercream

By: Crystal Barrett

Makes about 12 creme pies                                  (Click Here to Print)

Cookie Ingredients 
1/2 c softened butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 box  Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding Mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 c flour
1 c oats
1/4 c pumpkin puree

Pumpkin Buttercream Ingredients
1 c softened unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
3 c powdered sugar
4 tbs pumpkin puree
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (OR save some of the pudding mix and use here)

Directions for Cookies:

-  Cream the butter, brown sugar, and sugar on medium setting in the mixer.

-  Add pudding mix and beat until incorporated.

-  Add eggs, vanilla, and puree and beat another minute.

-  Add the flour and baking soda and beat until well blended.

- Fold in oats.

-  Roll the cookies into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

-  Bake on 350 for 9-12 minutes.

*Notes: It is ok to take the cookies out of the oven when they are still a little gooey.  They     will harden as they cool and you will be left with a soft cookie.

-  After they have cooled coat one bottom side of a cookie with the finished buttercream.        Find a like sized cookie and place on top, making a sandwich.

Directions for Buttercream

-  Beat the butter in a mixer until it is soft and fluffy.

-  Add cinnamon, vanilla, spice (or pudding mix), and pumpkin puree.  Beat until all the          ingredients are blended.

-  Add the powdered sugar to the mixer one cup at a time.  Beat 2 minutes.

-  Add to the cookies to make creme pies.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Easy and Delicious Buttercream Icing


Buttercream icing is one of my favorite things on the planet! I wouldn't be surprised if I land myself in a diabetic coma one day from eating so much of it.  We always have just a tad of a batch left over.  Instead of throwing it out, I make my husband package it up for me.  That way I can eat it straight from a spoon later.  Please tell me I'm normal.  Does anyone else have an icing problem?

I'm a stay at home mom, but I stay at home and I paint, make cookies, and decorate cakes on the side. I guess you could say I "try" to do it all.  I'm a very busy girl.  I over do it every day.  My husband says I need a chill pill.  I just think I need more time in a day lol.  I can't say "NO" to people.  I don't think I want to either.  I under price things because I actually want to make them.  I like working under pressure and I like seeing how artsy I can be.  I like the feeling of being so under pressure I'm about to fall apart but then I rock it!  I like torturing myself I guess lol.

When I have put myself in a situation where I have two cakes, eight paintings, my babies to look after, and a house to clean by the end of the week......I like to make things as simple as possible.  I want a recipe that will be easy, simple, and using ingredients I already have on hand.

For a few years I have searched the end of the world and back again for a simple, non-greasy, on hand ingredient, delicious, finger licking good recipe.  I know.....I ask too much lol.  I thought it was impossible too!  I researched and tested a TON of different recipes for the perfect buttercream icing.
-  If they were delicious they didn't make enough.  I would end up short handed on icing and have to make a quick dash to the store for more ingredients to make more batches.
- If the recipe said it was easy....I would end up having to go buy "special" ingredients that I never had to use more than once so I was wasting money.
- If the recipe said   "not greasy" would call for butter AND Crisco!  Then leave an awful yucky film in my mouth.

After many trials and ruined batches of cupcakes, I found the perfect one!  Not greasy! On hand ingredients!  Makes more than enough icing!  Fire works in your mouth delicious!  Just trust me on this one!  All my friends ask me "How do you make this!/"  "What's in this icing?"  "Is it hard to make?"  "You make it yourself!????"  Yes, yes, I do!  And I'm here today to share :)

Time to put down the canned icing and grab these ingredients out of the cabinet...Because I know you have some of that powdered sugar stocked like I do ;)  

Buttercream Icing

 By: Crystal Barrett

 Makes enough for 24 cupcakes or a standard layer cake.
                             (Click Here to Print)   

2 cups softened, unsalted sweet cream butter
6 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1-4 tbsp milk

Place butter in stand mixer (or a bowl to use hand mixer).

Beat on medium speed to cream butter.  I do this for about five minutes or more.

When the butter is soft and fluffy, add vanilla extract.  Beat 1 minute or until the butter and vanilla have been blended in well.

Add powdered sugar one cup at a time.
*I find it easiest to turn the mixer off, add a cup of the sugar, beat on lowest speed until the powdered sugar mixes in well enough to not make a mess, and then turn the mixer onto high speed to blend the rest of the cup of sugar in.  Repeat until all of the powdered sugar has been incorporated.

Beat about 3 minutes.

Add milk one tablespoon at a time while beating until you get the correct consistency for your piping needs.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Crock Pot Caramel Apple Pie Spice

My first job was as a barista at the local Starbucks.  I had no clue what I was doing.  Thinking back it was pretty embarrasing at first.  The first three months I was a mess.  Then one day all of the recipes, people, and motivation just clicked.  I couldn't get enough of work after that point lol.  I knew all of the regulars and their orders.  I became the shift supervisor.  I made a ton of friends and made some of the best memories!  I truly miss it!  I can't walk into Starbucks now without feeling a little sad.

It has been several years and I don't order from their as often as I use to. It can get a little pricey. I still crave some of my favorites quite often though.  One of them being the Caramel Apple Spice.  Some think it is cider but really it just steamed apple juice with some of the really yummy Cinnamon Dulce Syrup. .s  df

Many don't know that you can actually buy the syrup from them! Yep! That's right! For 1 Liter you can buy your own bottle for $13 and then go home and make your own drinks! With this bottle I could make way more Caramel Apple Spices than I could ever dream of!

Thanksgiving is coming up VERY quickly!  The weather has finally decided it's going to stay chilly and I CRAVED this drink!  While I was grocery shopping I came across an Apple Pie flavored juice and my first reaction was "OH MY!!  I HAVE to make Caramel Apple Spice!"

So, I came home and tried it in my crock pot. I only used two main ingredients (....except for all of he yummy optional garnishes). I am preparing for Thanksgiving because I know the entire family will adore this stuff!  My husband and kids tested it out and it was a huge success!  Husband said "This is so good!  The best apple cider I've ever had!".  Even though it's technically not apple cider.... I love responses like that!

This Caramel Apple Pie Spice was so incredibly comforting. I think I'm ready for all of the holiday madness now :)

                             Crock Pot Caramel Apple Pie Spice

By: Crystal Barrett

 Makes 64 ounces            
                                                        (Click to Print)


Slow Cooker

1 - 32 oz bottles of Apple Pie Juice from Old Orchard
   ( You can also use regular apple juice if you wish)

1/3 c Cinnamon Dulce Syrup from Starbucks

Caramel Syrup

Whip Cream

Ground Cinnamon (*Optional for garnish)


Pour juice and syrup into the slow cooker

Heat on high for 1-2 hours.  When warm enough, turn the slow cooker to warm.

Garnish with whip cream, caramel, and cinnamon.

*  If you have some leftover, put into a pitcher and place in the refrigerator. Reheat when         needed.

*  If you are serving for a larger crowd just double the recipe.  The crock pot has plenty of       room :)

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

I have been waiting for fall since Spring.  As I get older it becomes more and more of my favorite season.  When I was younger I loved summer...but I'm over that.  

I love the cool crisp weather and being able to bundle up in a hoodie.  I love all of the beautiful colors and smells that autumn brings.  I love ALL things pumpkin, and now I love soups and chowders!  This week I believe fall has arrived.

The weather change has been wonderful!  However, going from 90 degrees to 70 degrees in a day has caused major allergies.  My husband and I have caught the crud!  So I was FINALLY able to have an excuse to start my chowder addiction.  Horrible excuse though lol.

This Cheesy Vegetable Chowder definitely got us hooked!  I have made three huge batches of it in two days!  Yes, it's that good!  It's full of broccoli, potatoes, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and more!  So yummy I couldn't have just one bowl!!

My husband got sick right before I did so I decided to try this out. He and the girls ate it all before I was able to get a full bowl.  The next day I got sick and begged for him to learn to make it for me.  He wasn't going for it :(  So....I went to the store and made it myself.  It was worth every bit of the Wal Mart chaos!  Now, I have some to freeze for next time! Woop! Woop!

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

By: Crystal Barrett

August 14, 2014

About 8 servings                                                          (Click here to Print)


6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 an onion - yellow - finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup or 1 stalk finely chopped celery
1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms
3 cloves minced garlic
2 peeled and chopped potatoes
4 cups Swanson chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 c water
2/3 c milk
2 cups finely chopped broccoli
2 or more cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese


-  In a huge pot, melt butter on medium heat.

-  Add onions and garlic.  Saute until onions are transparent.

-  Add celery, carrots, and mushrooms to the pot.  Stir occasionally and saute until carrots and celery is tender.

-  Add the chopped potatoes and then the chicken broth to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Let boil for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and can be easily stuck with a fork.

-  In a small bowl mix flour with the water.  Add this mixture to the pot.  This should thicken up the chowder within a few minutes of simmering.

-  Add milk and broccoli and simmer until the broccoli is tender.  This only takes about 5-7 minutes.

-  Take the pot off of the heat and add cheese.  Stir well and serve.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pizza Pasta

I think we have been on a pizza kick lately.  The other day I posted my Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza and now I am posting this.  I don't think I see weight loss coming anytime soon!  That's ok... I'll just be fat and happy :p

My grandma brought me a recipe very similar to this for my father's birthday dinner.  I LOVED it!  I tweeked it and it was a huge success with my toddlers.

My girls are my worst critics.  They are picky and hardly ever eat anything except chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and mac and cheese.  I usually ask them "Is it good?" about five minutes into dinner and they don't ever have a problem telling me "NO".  I didn't hear any "NO's" on this dish.  Matter of fact, I didn't hear any talking at all!  They ate it all!  YIPPEE!

This pasta is incredibly easy to make unless you get fancy and decide to make your own pasta sauce. It takes 30 minutes to prepare....
30 minutes to bake.....
and 5 minutes to devour :)

Oh and by the way... This recipe makes ALOT!!  I made two 9x13's.  One we ate for dinner and the other I stuck in the freezer for a rainy day.  I love big recipes that surprise me and give me an extra meal.  


Pizza Pasta

By: Crystal Barrett

August 6, 2014

Makes 2  9x13 dishes                                        (Click Here to Print)                         


2 lb hamburger
2 c diced sausage 
2 boxes of noodles - any shape or size.  You can even mix different ones together
1  minced green pepper 
1 minced onion 
1 container  fresh sliced mushrooms 
1 pack pepperoni
4 cups shredded mozzerella cheese
2 c parmesan cheese
1 large jar Prego pasta sauce
1 large can pizza sauce


- Brown the sausage until done.  Drain and crumble.  Set aside.
  ( Do not cook with the hamburger.  I did this and it became too greasy.)

-  Brown the hamburger in a large skillet with green pepper and onion.  Drain and add to a      large pot.

-  In the large pot with the hamburger, add the sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, and both         sauces.
-  Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

-  Meanwhile have your noodles boiling in a seperate pot.  Drain when done.

-  In the 9x13 dish add noodles.  Layer the sauce mixture on top. Finish off with cheeses.  
   I layered mozzerella, then extra pepperonis and mushrooms, then a layer of parmesan.

-  Put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes on 350.

The girls patiently waiting for it to come out of the oven :)  Sorry my child's hair was straight up from nap time lol.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

In My Spare Time....

Recently I have been a little MIA from the blog lately.  It's not because I don't love you!  I promise I do! "I do..I do...I doooo-oooo" (in my nerdiest Orange Soda voice)

My life has been a little more than chaotic lately.  In the mix of raising two tiny, mischievious, most opinionated, and sassy little girls I needed a break. 

After about 5 year, I picked up a paint brush again and I started to paint.  Painting gives me such a fulfillment. Everything is quiet.  I make my own little bubble for me and my canvas and it is pure serenity. I call it "My mommy getaway."  Don't worry.  My getaway is exclusively after bedtime :)  *No child was harmed or neglected in the making of this art*

I thought I might would share some with you.  If you think they suck...please be nice and lie to me ;) 

I painted this Dumbo from the Disney Smiles Collection.  I did not create this piece.  All I did was recreate.
Angie from Big Bear's Wife LOVED it for her birthday!!

This was for Angie's sister in law, Meghan.  She loves owls, japanese cherry blossoms, and all things teal JUST LIKE ME!!!  She wanted this piece for her future kitchen!

Olaf.  Of course you already knew that!  Frozen and Olaf have been my most requested pieces.  Frozen has definitly taken over the world this past year!

Ariel from the Little Mermaid.  She was also a part of the Smile Collection I believe.  I simply wanted to paint her on my own for my own amusement.  Soon I am going to have enough Disney paintings on my own to have an entire "Disney Art Wall".

This abstract flower I found on google and thought it would be a perfect piece for my sister in law Ariel.  She hung it in her new apartment :)  I LOVE the bright colors with he dark contrast.

This I painted for one of my nephews.  I thought they were all Avengers....until I went to his party and saw all of the characters on the table cloth lol.  WOOPS!  He loved it anyways thank goodness.  Silly me!  I really need a boy so I can stay up to date on things other than Disney Princessses.

Strawberry Shortcake was a request from my friend Heather's little girl who looks just like Strawberry!

This was the biggest painting I had ever tried.  Too big to sit at my kitchen table, so I set up camp in my bedroom floor.  It was SOOO much fun and I really shocked myself. Those are the pieces I love the most. The ones where I am so positive I'll never be able to pull it off and I do.

My brother in law, Josh asked me to paint this picture of the dam in our city.  It is now hanging on the wall of his office for all of his clients to see!
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