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Sunday, January 29, 2012

{ Ranch Snackin’ Crackers }

On Friday night, I had a Japanese Themed Game Night.

My nieces are huge anime/manga fans and therefore obsessed with all things Japanese.

A Japanese Themed Game Night seemed the right thing to do.

And the tasty way to do it.
(Who remembers those commercials? I seriously just dated myself there.)

My oldest niece, Emily, and I made Beef Sukiyaki and then I made crepes. Crepes, while not Asian, are very popular in Japan.

Or so I’m told.

So, what was the hit of the night?


Yeah, you read that right, they all went nuts over crackers.

Which were not the least bit Japanese and not the least bit hard to make.

Figures, doesn’t it?

There were five teenagers here, and I thought there was going to be a thrown down over the crackers.
True story.

Four girls and the Bean. You know who would have won that fight, right?

Yeah, the girls. Totally the girls.

The Bean has declared that I should make this everyday. Um.. I’ll get right on that.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe for you all:
Ranch Snackin’ Crackers
inspired by this recipe

1 packet of Ranch Dressing Mix
1 bag/box of Oyster Crackers
1/4 Cup of Oil
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder or garlic salt (depending on your preference)
parmesan cheese (in the shaker)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F
In a large bowl, mix the oil, garlic, and dressing mix together. Once well blended, add oyster crackers and toss until fully covered.

Place crackers in a single layer in a baking pan.
Bake for 20 mins, stirring every 5.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle with desired amount of parmesan cheese.

Toss again.

Allow to cool & enjoy.


I assume you store leftovers in a tightly sealed container or ziploc bag. I wouldn’t know.
I had no leftovers.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

{ I'm Guest Blogging }

I'm guest blogging over at Everyday Mom's Meals today!

You've probably seen the recipe here already, but still pop on over, say Hi!

Tell Krista I sent you!
Thanks, Krista, for having me!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

{ Hello Pinners! }

Hello to everyone who is visiting via my Valentine's Peanut Butter Blossoms on Pinterest!

I hope you'll stick around, I have lots to share here on my blog :)

Find me on Pinterest here: Pinterest

Or "Like" me on Facebook here: Sugar Bean Bakers Facebook Page

About 1/2 way down this page you'll find the subscription email & Google Friend Connect.

Thanks for stopping in & have a sweet day!


Monday, January 23, 2012

{ Peanut Butter Blossoms the Vday Way }

So, let me tell you about Peanut Butter Blossom cookies.

For years, I had convinced myself that these were called Peanut Butter Kisses.


Peanut Butter Kisses are those black and orange wrapped peanut butter taffy that old ladies give on Trick or Treat.

And that no one likes.

I remember getting those on Trick or Treat and thinking, “trick, definitely trick.”

That and boxes of raisins. And pennies.

What was with the pennies?

Pennies.. me no likey.
Snickers? Me likey!

Peanut Butter Kisses? Nay.
Peanut Butter Blossoms? Yay!

So, that is what I’m making today.

You’ve probably all made these a time or two. Or a hundred.

You probably even have your own favorite recipe.

I’m showing you mine though. You, of course, can substitute your own if you wish it.
These are updated for Valentine’s Day. I thought I'd come up with the idea on my own, but, hello- internet says wrong. 

I found these by Betty. You know, Betty Crocker.


Heart shaped chocolates in place of the kisses. Total brill.

Now, you’ll see residing there in the middle of these puffy peanut butter cookies lies Dove chocolates.

Confession #1: I don’t like Dove chocolate.


I know so many people out there, including the Bean, LOVE Dove. Dove is 2nd on the Bean’s list, only after Godiva.

I, however, prefer Hershey’s. True story.

Confession #2: I love Peanut Butter Kiss Blossom Cookies, but I pop the chocolate off and eat it last!

I never eat the chocolate AND the cookie together.

Is that odd? Please reassure me that I’m not the only weirdo person out there that does this!

My unlike of Dove aside, these are SUPER DE DOOPER cute, yes?

No worries, I’ll just pop the chocolate off and feed it to the Bean. I doubt he’ll object.

You can roll these in pretty sanding sugar, if you like:


to get cookies like this:


If you want, you could tint the dough with red gel food coloring.

I didn’t take that route today though. Maybe some day I’ll travel it.

I, personally, think they are prettier this way.



Make some for your sweeties for Valentine’s Day, you know you wanna,, that way you can have some too!


Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
*recipe adapted from Pillsbury

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
48 Hershey's® Kisses® Brand milk chocolates, unwrapped (or in this case, heart shaped chocolates)

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, shortening, peanut butter, milk, vanilla and egg; mix with electric mixer on low speed until stiff dough forms. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375°F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately top each cookie with 1 milk chocolate candy, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge; remove from cookie sheets.
The chocolate will keep its form, but will take at least a couple hours to set back up, so be sure not to touch it.

Remove from oven, then press chocolate candy into cookie. Cracks will form- that's fine, that's what you want; remove from cookie sheets.
I made some of mine larger (you can see one in the photo with the colored sugar), and baked for the larger for 12 minutes. The smaller (normal size) I baked for 10. 

The chocolate will keep its form, but will take at least a couple hours to set back up, so be sure not to touch it. 

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Flamingo Toes
Six Sisters Stuff
Oopsey Daisy

Thursday, January 19, 2012

{ Watcha Got? #2 Linky Party }

Welcome to another Watcha Got Linky Party. 
Sorry it's been over a week since the last one, but being new at it, I kinda.. er... forgot. 
So, here we go again!

Since my last party, I've been a little busy-
here's what I've been up to:

Double Trouble Cookies

2012 Memory Jar

Free Printable: Treat Bag Toppers

A Birthday Cake for Snape

Free Printable: Valentine Popcorn Wrapper

Here's the 'Watcha Got?' Rules
(I know, I know, I hate rules too)
Feel free to link up a few projects!

Link to your post, not the main URL.

*Follow me on Facebook or here with Google Friend Connect
(or both *winky face*)

*Link back to me, either in your post or grab my button from the sidebar!

*Visit some other links...share the lovin' from the oven. 
Or stovetop. Or microwave. Or crafty spot.

Oh, and leave a comment below telling me what you linked if you could please.

If you aren't a food/craft blogger, I hope you'll enjoy an array of ideas!
Please help spread the word about my linky party! :)


Sunday, January 15, 2012

{ Double Trouble Cookies }

Pin It

Chocolate Chip cookies are good.

Cream filling is good.

So, do you know what is great?

Yes, you are right- looking at Ian Somerhalder is great but that’s not quite what I meant.
Chocolate Chip Cream Filled Sammich Cookies.
Greatness on a plate-ness.

This is a combination of 2 recipes I’ve posted in the past.

Those being:

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie and the Amish Cream Filling I used in my Red Velvet Whoopie Pie recipe.

Start with the cream filling first, that way while you are working on your cookies, it will have time to cool and you can move on to finish it while the cookies are baking.

I make these cookies a bit smaller than the recipe linked above. I use a medium sized cookie scoop- about a Tablespoon, then I roll them in my hands to make them bake up nice and smooth. Bake for about 10-13 minutes.
One recipe of cookies in this size makes about 18 cookie sammies.

You won’t need the entire cream filling recipe for that, so your choices are

A. Make 2 batches of cookies

B. 1/2 the Cream Filling.

Pick A! Pick A!
By the way, while making these, this conversation occurred:

Bean: “Mom, these cookies are DELICIOUS, what is your secret ingredient??”

(This is where normal people say ‘my secret ingredient is LOVE’)

Me: “Oh, I always bake with Awesome.”

Bean: “Let me see your jar of Awesome!”

Me: “Um, yeah, no. You aren’t touching my jar of Awesome.”

Bean: “Why  not?”

Me: “Because you’d use it all up trying to be awesome. Duh.”

Yeah, these types conversations actually happen in my house.


But anyway- to the stuff…
Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk
Mix in the dry ingredients until just blended.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop by Tablespoons, then roll to make them bake up smoothly.
(if I were making these regularly, not with the filling, I make them much larger- as noted in the original recipe, I don’t roll those either)
Bake for 10-13 (15 minutes if making the larger cookie) minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly browned.
Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Recipe originally found at AllRecipes

Amish Cream Filling 
3 teaspoons flour
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Crisco
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) Butter
2 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
Mix flour and milk in a heavy pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. It will thicken as you stir.
Cool completely, you can sit the pan in an ice water bath to cool faster.
Cream together Crisco, butter, sugar and vanilla. Then add cooled milk mixture. Add powdered sugar. This will be thick when done. Your spoon will stand in it, and it will not drip off.
Remember this will be about double what you’ll need for the filled cookies.
This is edited from a recipe I found online, I cannot remember the original source


So, there you have it. Double Trouble Cookies.
They are great.
Know what would be super great?

Eating these cookies WHILE looking at Ian Somerhalder.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

{ Happy Birthday, Severus Snape! }

If you’ve been around here very long, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a bit of a Harry Potter crazed lunatic fan.

Need a recipe for Cauldron Cakes & Butterbeer? Yeah, I’ve got it.

How about Pumpkin Juice? Ditto.

Well,yesterday (Jan 9) happened to be Severus Snape’s birthday.  Since I baked for Hermione’s birthday, I figured I need to make something for Snapey as well.

The mystery throughout he book (and if you ever intend to read/see the books/movies- uh, read the books, just sayin- and you don’t want spoiled, stop reading this post here) was this… is he good, or evil?

I always believed he was good. But MAN, was he GOOD at being BAD. 

Harry was convinced Snape was evil, Voldemort’s minion, that he murdered Dumbledore (well, kinda), and that he was trying to kill Harry himself.

Well, Voldy was convinced Snape was his minion too, so that all worked out.

Well, til the end.
Bad Voldemort. BAD.

Was he dark and evil or good? Did he wear the black hat or the white hat?

He wore both.

So, I made him this cake.

Dark and light. More light than dark though, because Snape was, in Harry’s word’s “The bravest man I ever knew”.

I know this is not the most beautiful cake, it’s all loppysided. I think the Weasley twins were mucking about in my kitchen.

Nothing seemed to go right today. 

It doesn’t look TOO bad though. And I’m pretty sure Snape would eat it, I doubt the boy ever had a birthday party after all.

This cake is made the same way as my Rainbow Cake. Same steps, just two colors instead of several.
I made this in 3 thin layers, so I only baked it for about 15-17 minutes. It probably would have looked better in just 2 layers though.

You could do a 4 layer if you used 2 recipes/boxes. I used 1 box of white cake mix, scooped 1/2 out, and added about 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder to one bowl.

If you want the 4 layer, use a box of white and a box of dark chocolate.

Then layer in pans, like in the Rainbow Cake. Bake according to directions (unless you do 3 layers like I did, then refer to above and watch closely!), cool, and ice!

So, there you have it. Mostly light with a bit of darkness… that’s Snape to me.

Happy Birthday, Sev. 

I hope it was Snapetastic!

Always, Tina

*a note if you are using box mix, try Duncan Hines, it’s thinner. While I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pillsbury for scooping cupcakes, it’s a bit too thick for this project
(same goes for the Rainbow Cake).

Friday, January 6, 2012

{ 2012 Memory Jar }

I bought this yesterday and wanted to show you all.

It's a memory jar for the year.

Basically, it's a $4 cookie jar from the Mart of the Wal with sticker letters applied.

Throughout the year, you drop 'memories' in it. 

Like movie stubs, report cards, birthday party favors, receipts from special purchases, children's artwork, photos, letters, souvenirs from trips, cards... whatever!

Then on Dec 31 you open it up and go back through your memories for the year.

Such a clever idea, right? All your memories from the year stored in one location.

I wish it was my idea, but it's not... I found it on Pinterest (if you don't already, follow me here ).

The idea is from Kelli Crowe. You can see her original post right here.

I plan to get a photo on mine, but haven't yet.

This would be a great idea for a bridal shower/wedding gift. The newlyweds could drop memories from their first year together in it and save. Equally great idea for a baby shower gift. Baby's first year... awww....For family far away- drop your memories in, then pack up and mail to them (you can get shatterproof jars as well, or a tin, etc) at Christmas- or for New Year's Eve- and they will be able to 'share' your year with you.
First year of college would be good too. The possibilities are endless.

What can you come up with?

Tina :)

Shared at:
 Oopsey Daisy

{ Watcha Got? Linky Party }

Welcome to my very first linky party!

I've never done this before (if you couldn't tell from the prior statement), so I hope I'm doing this right!

ACK, pressure!!!!!!!!

Here's the 'Watcha Got?' Rules
(I know, I know, I hate rules too)

Link to your post, not the main URL.

*Follow me on Facebook or here with Google Friend Connect
(or both *winky face*)

*Link back to me, either in your post or grab my button from the sidebar!

*Visit some other links...share the lovin' from the oven. 
Or stovetop. Or microwave. Or crafty spot.

Oh, and leave a comment below telling me what you linked if you could please.

If you aren't a food/craft blogger, I hope you'll enjoy an array of ideas!
Please help spread the word about my linky party if you can :)


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

{ Snowflake Crunch Popcorn }

It finally snowed. Enough to cover the ground anyway. 

*grumble grumble*

Is it bad that I want it to snow, like, a lot? 

I love snow, I love to watch it fall. It’s beautiful and magical.


Unless I have to drive in it.

Then I HATE snow.

Boo… snow!

Snow makes me think of all things white.

And blue.

What’s with the white/blue/snow trend anyway? Is it because of the blue sky against the white snow?

Or because your lips turn blue if you are out in it too long?

Either way, when I think snow, I think white and blue.

I’ve mentioned I’m not that much into fake, ahem, white chocolate, yes?

Other people, apparently, like this stuff.


So, I made some white chocolate covered popcorn.


Blue and white… pretty, right?

(ooh, unintended rhyming!)

So, you can do this one of two ways.

Or two of two ways, if you prefer- who am I to say?

You can do this with a marshmallow base, or just straight white chocolate.

Both recipes are below.





Of the 2, I prefer the marshmallow only popcorn.
But then again, I don't like white chocolate, remember? So who am I to judge?

So, you’ve probably figured out already that I had to pick all the blue M&Ms out of the package for this.
This is a great menial task for teenagers. Let them eat all the M&Ms they wish EXCEPT the blue.
Eating the blue should be punished harshly. You know like refusing to buy Pizza Rolls or something.

However, I noticed looking in the blue-less bowl how odd the M&Ms looked.
Then I realized, this is almost what they looked like when I was a kid.

Whoa.. weirdness.

C’mon people, you know you remember them too.
There *is* one color missing from then. Hint, it’s not blue Winking smile
Who can name it?


Marshmallow White Chocolate 
Snowflake Crunch Popcorn
1 bag of popped 94% Fat Free popcorn (unpopped kernels removed)
1/4 cup butter (butter only)
1/2 bag marshmallows

Melt butter in pan, add marshmallows. Melt those as well.
Once melted, stir popcorn in to fully coat.

Turn out onto parchment paper/wax paper/foil lined baking sheet to cool.

Once cool, eat as is- OR proceed with chocolate step (using the popcorn you’ve already coated, of course, not popping another bag).

White Chocolate Snowflake Crunch Popcorn

1 bag of popped 94% Fat Free popcorn (unpopped kernels removed)
3-4 blocks of white almond bark
2 teaspoons oil/shortening
blue M&Ms
blue sprinkles

In a microwave safe bowl, add the almond bark and oil. Melt at 30 second intervals (stirring between). Should take less than 2 minutes to melt.

Pour over popcorn.  Gently stir to fully coat.
Add in blue M&Ms and blue sprinkles

Lightly toss to incorporate.
Turn out onto parchment paper/wax paper/foil lined baking sheet to cool.
Once cooled, you’ll need to break apart larger pieces.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

{ Valentine's Day Boxes & Idea }

I know that it's barely January, but planning ahead is a good thing.

Isn't it?

I'm not sure, as I'm not entirely familiar with this concept.

Anyway, I thought I'd pop a couple ideas on here for you.

First is this poster board that I did for my dad last Father's Day. 

It would also make a great Valentine's Day project (or birthday, or Christmas, etc).

I apologize for the photo, it was taken with my phone and yes, the only photo I took of it.

I'm riding in the failboat.

I signed his with "The Three Musketeers" because there are only three of us, but some other ideas could be:

nerds (esp good if for teacher)
airhead (good for teacher, best friend, or if you are late getting the present)
Amazin' (kids, wife, etc)
Junior Mints would work if the card is from kids
Baby Ruth (ruth covered over- if for a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend)

There are many other candies you can use, like Hugs & Kisses, Chunky (hope this doesn't make you chunky), etc. I used ones I knew my dad would eat. 

I've seen this idea before, and you probably have too, but reminders are good. I used some candies/sayings in mine that I'd never seen before as well.

Pin It

One of the hardest things to do when the Bean was in Elementary School was to come up with a Valentine's  Box idea. Urrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh...............

It hurt my head.
Then I'd get grumpy.
Then I'd eat chocolate.
Then I'd be better.
Then I'd remember I still had no Valentine Box idea.
Then I'd repeat this process.

So, I'm uploading a photo of all of the Bean's boxes. I tried to find the original photos and could not, and in
an attempt to not go through the process I've listed above, I'm uploading a scrapbook page containing them altogether.

I apologize that the pictures aren't huge, but you can get the idea, yes?

D'awwwwwwwwwwwwww............ wasn't he adorable?

(and he totally looks like he's pouting in the 4th grade pic, but they were playing "Heads Up 7 Up".

So, the run down goes like this:

Kindergarten- no boxes, they did bags at school

1st Grade-Cookie Train- he wanted to make a Cookie Train. Totally his idea. I had no idea where he came up with that one, and yeah, I didn't ask. Kleenex Box & a small box covered in wrapping paper, TP roll covered in foil for the smoke stack, hearts on a wire for smoke, and cookies for the wheels (sorry you can barely see the wheels).

2nd Grade- Things I Love-That was a great year. No contest, no worries! woo! Simply a box covered and stickers (I had tons because I paper scrapbooked then) of things he loved.

3rd Grade- Rocket Ship- This was an idea from my often BPIC (Baking Partner in Crime), Lori. You know, the one behind  Holy Moses Dip & Strawberry Filled Cupcakes? Back then the Bean was way into Science. Now, he is a complete and totally History Nut. Wants to major in History & be a History Professor. Anyway...Lori suggested a Rocket, and nothing else would do after that. We used posterboard, a Styrofoam cone, & Card stock (plus stickers).

4th Grade- Covered Wagon- By 4th grade the History nerdiness had started to come out. So, a Covered Wagon was thought of. This was one of those little wooden crates that you can buy at a craft store or Wally World for like $2. Then craft foam for the cover, and big gold hoops from the craft section. Not sure what they are for, sorry- Macrame, maybe? Do people still macrame?? Some pipe cleaners made the spokes in the wheels.

5th Grade- POTTER TIME- Why we'd never done a Potter box before, the world may never know, but we did one, so that's all that matters, right? Harry was made from a Styrofoam Cone & Ball, plus yarn for hair, pipe cleaners for glasses, and to create arm shape under his cloak. Cloak was black fabric, his tie was just cardstock. The broom was a wooden pencil and raffia. His cauldron a mini pail found in the craft section.

6th Grade- Digital Camera- This was another ALL BEAN idea. The base is a Capri Sun box, lens is a plastic cup, with a lid from a Pringles can, milk cap for shutter release, and the cheese corner of a nacho tray for the flash (I'm sure you could think of something else for this- or leave it off altogether), he cut up an old belt for the strap.  I actually have a photo of the back side to this one. He wanted a small photo to show what you saw through the viewfinder & the same photo large, as the what you saw on the LCD screen.

After 6th grade something magical happened.. He started Junior High! You know what doesn't happen in Jr High? Valentine's Box Contests!

None in High School either!

Praise Heaven above!

I hope this ideas might be helpful to someone out there struggling like I used to (smiling now because I no longer have to!).


Monday, January 2, 2012

{ Favorite Christmas Photos }

Now, I’m going to show you some of my favorite Christmas photos.

And you have no choice but to sit here and look at them.

You are held captive. Mwhahahaha.

What do you mean you can close the browser window?!



ok, What I meant to say was this…

Would you be evah so kind to sit here a spell and look at my favorite Christmas photos? 

Thank ya, kindly.

First up, my tree.

My tree is not designer or showroom ready. 

It’s covered in memories. 

Ornaments that the Bean and I have made together (including the topper which he helped to glue on the buttons at 2 years old), ornaments from my annual ornament party that I’ve held for 18 years, and Hallmark ornaments. I started buying the Bean a Hallmark the year he was born. He picks them out and tries to get something that ties in with something he’s done that year. For example, the year he started Kindergarten, he got a backpack ornament, the years he got his puppies, we have puppy ornaments, the year he became obsessed with trains, a train ornament, the year he got to sit in a real fire truck he picked a fire truck ornament. This year was a challenge, finding something suitable for him at 14 years old, but finally we found a patriotic Santa for our trip to D.C.

So, it might not be the most beautiful tree ever, but the memories make it amazing to us.


Tree bokeh. I love me some bokeh. 


Next up comes St. Nick’s:

When the Bean was 3, I decided to start our own tradition. Something that no one else in the family had ever done. After a little research, I decided to go with the (mostly) European Holiday of St. Nick's. We pretty much follow the German tradition. What we don't do is sit the shoes outside for fear raccoons will carry things off. So, Bean sits them outside his bedroom door.  When he was little, he would stick his list for Santa in his boot, Santa would pick it up and leave a little present or candy. There's not a list anymore- or boots for that matter, but the shoes still seem to appear on the 5th of December, even if he is 14 years old now.

By the way, don't worry, nothing is IN the stinky teenage shoes, just laying on top of. I actually bagged it all in a ziploc after I took the photo. 

More info on St. Nicks can be found here.


One of our Christmas Cards. Yeah, I went there.


The Bean and our kitty in front of the tree on Christmas Eve


The dogs in front of the fireplace Christmas morning


which is not really a great photo, but the dogs are hard to capture together!

More puppy.. This is Luna.


Fairley, my love

he Bean & my nieces on Christmas.

I mustache you a question? Did you have a Merry Christmas?

The Bean and my grandma. She’ll be 92 in April.


My New Year’s Eve Tree


Our friend Bobby trying to pop his NYE balloon & failing. Strong balloon is strong.


The first sunset of 2012


and lastly- although not technically a holiday photo, this one from today shows our first accumulating snow of the season (only about 1” though *sad face*).


I’d love to see your favorite photos! Post them on my Facebook page!

All the best,


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