Saturday, June 21, 2014

Monkey Bread Muffins

Now that school is out, there is more time to try some of those divine looking dishes that I have been pinning on Pinterest.  This morning, it was "Monkey Bread Muffins," a recipe using Pillsbury canned biscuits.  Sometimes, there are "Pinterest Fails."  This is not one of them!  This recipe is so delicious, that I decided to share it here with extra pictures and a few helpful tips, after trying the original on Pinterest.  With just a few simple ingredients, you will wow your family and friends... (Recipe at the end of this post)

Begin by dividing your canned biscuits and cutting them each into six pieces.  Roll each piece in a sugar and cinnamon mixture and place in a buttered muffin tin (six pieces of dough in each muffin well).

You will fill up eight wells in the muffin tin.  Then, hold whatcha got 'cause there's more..
Next, you will boil brown sugar and butter into a caramel mixture.  This is when the kids will start showing up in the kitchen.  Just tell them to be patient...It will be worth it.
Keep boiling until the sugar is dissolved, and then spoon this heavenly goodness over your biscuit dough.
Now, it is time to bake this for about 10 minutes in your preheated oven.  Here is an important tip:  Either put something under your muffin tin, or be prepared to set your oven to "self-clean," which I am currently doing...
When you take your tray out of the oven, the biscuits will have popped out partially around the wells.  Just use the back of a spoon to push them back into the wells to give them more of a muffin shape.  You can also spoon back any caramel drizzle that made its way off of the biscuits.  At this point, the kids will be back in the kitchen.  Send them away one more time, we aren't done just yet.  These babies need to set for about 10 minutes so that they will pop out and stick together. 
In the meantime, you can use this time to make your cream cheese drizzle (as if these weren't already delicious enough!).  Mix up cream cheese and powdered sugar, adding in vanilla and about a tablespoon of milk.
After placing your muffins on a serving dish, drizzle the icing on top.  My kids LOVED these, and I am now the "best mom ever!"
Monkey Bread Muffins 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 can Pillsbury Grands flaky biscuits
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Cream Cheese Icing
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temp.
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk
1. Preheat oven to 375* F.  Butter 8 muffin wells (or line with paper liners).
2. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon.  Separate dough into 8 biscuits and cut each biscuit into 9 pieces (I cut them into six pieces...each half in thirds).  Roll biscuit pieces in sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Place 9 (or 6) biscuit pieces in each muffin well.
3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat butter and brown sugar (you can add a couple of teaspoons of water if needed, but I didn't) to boiling, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir for about 2 minutes, dissolving brown sugar.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
4. Carefully spoon the caramel mixture over the biscuit pieces.  Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.
5.  Remove from oven, and carefully use the back of a spoon to gently push the biscuit pieces back into the muffin wells.  Allow muffins to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to a serving plate. 
6.  Prepare cream cheese icing by mixing cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer.  Add in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk until well combined.  Drizzle icing over warm muffins, and serve immediately.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Natural D.I.Y. Sunscreen

Toxic, chemical-based sunscreens have made a lot of headlines lately.  They can be just as dangerous as too much sun.  Even the "natural" sunscreens found in stores cause one of my children to have a reaction.  He has very sensitive skin, and anything with zinc oxide causes his skin to turn bright red and burn, usually causing his eczema to flare up.  I have a recipe for sunscreen that has been tested on four of my children with great results, and they all have different complexions.  We also have a pool, so if it worked for them, that's pretty good results.  If you do not have sensitivities to zinc oxide, you can add it to this mixture to make it much more waterproof.  Our sunscreen has worked for us, but I just make sure to reapply it often on my kids after they have toweled off or have been in the water for awhile.  All of my ingredients can be found on Amazon. 

D.I.Y. Sunscreen:

1/4 cup fractionated coconut oil
20 drops of carrot seed oil
*Optional*  You can also add lavender oil to improve the scent of your sunscreen.  An added bonus is that bugs don't like it!

That's it!  This will have a SPF of 40.  Make sure that you get the "fractionated" coconut oil and not the stuff you cook with.  Fractionated coconut oil remains in a liquid form...the other stuff hardens at room temperature.  Also, it is important to choose a good carrot seed oil, or you will end up with something that makes you more sensitive in the sunlight (photo toxic)...not good when you are making sunscreen.  I used Eden's Garden brand, and I even emailed them to ask how they extracted their carrot seed oil.  They steam expel it, so there are no other chemicals used in this process.   Lastly, I used a glass spray bottle.  Plastic can break down when using natural oils and you could end up with toxins in your sunscreen, which we are trying to avoid!  This is a natural mixture, so remember to shake it before spraying it on!

***Please be careful in the sun.  If you are extremely fair skinned, this may not be enough protection for you.  You may need to don the hat and find a shade tree!!!***

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Daddy Cake!

I have a recipe for a chocolate cake that is an absolute "keeper."  It is so easy to make, and everyone loves it!  It is one of those cakes that can slice up like a brownie if allowed to cool, but if you can't wait that long, then enjoy the gooey deliciousness with a spoon and some ice cream!  It was formally named "Darn Good Chocolate Cake," but since we had it for dinner on Father's Day one year, it has become a tradition to eat it on Father's Day...whether it be for dinner or dessert.  This is why we renamed it, "Daddy Cake."  Besides, we really would rather our kids not say "darn" anyway.

This is not a "completely from scratch" cake, but it is so good!  I get asked for the recipe all the time.  Ready for your own copy?  Read on!

List of ingredients:
1 box of devils food cake mix
1 box chocolate pudding mix (instant)
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I don't measure.  I just dump in the whole bag!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan.  Mix cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, warm water, and oil with electric mixer at low speed for one minute.  Scrape sides of bowl and increase speed to medium.  Beat 2-3 minutes.  Fold in chocolate chips.

You can see that the batter is much thicker than regular cake batter.  This one is more like pudding, and I guess this is what makes the cake so moist and delicious!

Pour batter into cake pan and smooth out with a rubber spatula.  Bake 45-50 minutes.  Cool 20 minutes in the pan.  (Trust me on this!)  Use a knife to pull cake away from pan and invert onto a serving platter.

If a lucky child happens to hear the mixer and wander into the kitchen, then give him the mixer paddle to lick.  This will appease him, so that when he happily skips off, giggling at his good fortune, you can then lick the bowl and spatula with no one the wiser.  Just be sure to wipe the chocolate off your face!

We enjoyed it warm with a side of vanilla ice cream! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes!

For the 2012-2013 school year, we began our homeschool journey, for the first time, with all the kids.  The year prior to that was only a half year with one of my children.  I was determined that I was going to start blogging again for the 2013-2014 school year, but then this happened... 

Big Baby in Here!

At 40 years old, this was a little scary for me, but all my fears turned into joy when this little big girl was born...

Our 8 lb 11oz bundle of pure sweetness captured all our hearts (and attention), so blogging was put on hold for awhile while we mixed school with special times like this one...
Little ones truly do grow fast, and our youngest is now 6 month old!  She has fit right in and even participates in school...
Enjoying the reading nook

Celebrating 100 Days of School

Before we knew it, we had completed a school year and went out to celebrate the big day at The Cheesecake Factory (one of our favorite restaurants).  We dubbed this night our "First Annual Awards Night."  I hope this means I can look forward to a repeat of the delicious dinner I had that night!!
Our "Class Picture"
Anyone with a big family knows that there is no easy or fast way to have dinner at a restaurant like The Cheesecake Factory.  That's ok, though, it was sooooo good!  We decided to pass out awards at home, complete with a kindergarten graduation ceremony for my youngest son!  (My oldest son was a bit delirious from a late night and a full belly!)


 It's been a really great school year, but we are all thrilled to be enjoying a little rest and recreation!!



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