Monday, January 30, 2012

By the Batch - Best Ever Chocolate Toffee Bark

Around Christmas I kept seeing this recipe around Pinterest labelled as "Christmas Crack". Apparently the stuff was so good it was the hard drug equivalent of the chocolate and toffee world. With only 4 ingredients I was a little sceptical but this past weekend I decided to put it to the test. And I am here to say that this stuff is the most delicious and addictive thing I have made in ages!

Don't let the simplicity fool you - this recipe is incredible. My husband and I have not stopped eating it since the moment it was cool enough to break into pieces.

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil. Melt the sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly. After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer. Let cool and thenrefrigerate until hardened. Break into pieces.

So easy, right? And chances are you've got the ingredients already. Just don't say I didn't warn you ;)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Follow Me on Bloglovin

Lately I'm seeing links to Bloglovin everywhere so I thought I had better get on board! If you're using Bloglovin to keep up with your favourite blogs then click here to add Sugar and Shimmer.

Friday, January 27, 2012

DIY Initial Canvas

I've officially reached 37 weeks today so I'm sharing a quick little project I made for the baby's room - an initial canvas.

I was inspired by this tutorial and then made it my own. This project was really simple. Start with a square canvas and a piece of scrapbook paper. Cut the paper to the size of the canvas including the sides so you can cover those too. Using Mod Podge, adhere the paper to the front of your canvas and then let it dry. Once the front is dry then flip it and make 45 degree cuts on your paper corners so you can fold them over and Mod Podge them shut like in the picture below.

Next choose another piece of scrapbook paper and cut your initial into it. To do this I printed an N onto regular printer paper, cut it out and then traced it on to the back of my scrapbook paper (just make sure if you're tracing on the back you do it backwards). Once your initial is cut out use Mod Podge to attach the paper to the front of your canvas. Once everything is dry, embellish however you like.

I used stickers that had some dimension because my paper had such a busy pattern but you can use anything you like. In fact, you don't need to embellish at all if you think just the initial is enough. This project was so simple and it would be really easy to change it up for an older child or even for yourself depending on the paper and embellishments you use.

My initial canvas is resting on the baby's windowsill, waiting for his arrival!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

By the Batch - Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes the simplest recipes can be the most delicious. I think that's definitely the case with these Martha Stewart Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. 

According to Sarah:
These cookies could not be simpler to make and the ingredients are probably ones you already have on hand. I followed the recipe exactly and yielded about 3 dozen cookies that are still soft and chewy a week later. Pair these cookies with a cold glass of milk and you've got a winning pair. I'll be honest and tell you I don't know how we manage to have any left after a week ;)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DIY Birthday Card - Dream Big

Just a really quick post today to share the birthday card I made for my brother last month. This one was made entirely with scraps and stickers that I already had in my stash so it's eclectic but I love the way all the layers and pieces work with each other.

Please excuse the Christmas tablecloth - this picture was actually taken in December!

I think my favourite part is the little birthday hat sticker I put on the bird. It helped to make the card more birthday focused instead of just a general greeting. It's a trick I've used before here.

I really love the impact that DIY cards make. Your recipient feels special that you took the time to create something just for them but the reality is these are so easy to make! Do you make your own cards?

Friday, January 13, 2012

2011 Valentine's Round-Up

Are you looking for a little Valentine's Day crafting inspiration? I thought I'd pull together a bunch of my projects from last year into one post to get you started!  I forgot how pink my house became last February ;)

1 Crayon Hearts 2 Heart Envelope 3 Paper Wreath 4 Love Day Cards 5 Felt Garland
6 Tissue Pom-Poms 7 DIY Heart Art 8 Cardboard X & O
There are other posts from last Valentine's Day so be sure to check them out by clicking here. I hope to have some new projects to share with you soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By the Batch - Triple Chocolate Muffins

This past weekend I told my husband I would bake him whatever he wanted most and he picked these Triple Chocolate Muffins. I copied this recipe out of a book years ago, long before blogging and the need to credit my sources, so if you recognize where it's from please let me know. And if this is your first time seeing this recipe then let me tell you that these are the most chocolatey delicious muffins you will ever eat!

½ tsp baking soda
1 ¾ cups flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cups sour cream
½ cup brown sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400. Line 11 holes of muffin tin with paper muffin cases. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl, add the chocolate and white chips and stir.

Place the eggs, sour cream, sugar and butter in a separate bowl and mix. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined.

Divide the batter between the paper cases and bake for 20 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch.

According to Sarah:
I think it's a good thing that the recipe only yields 11 muffins because these things are addictive. Chris calls these "dessert muffins" since they are so packed with chocolate. But it's not just the chocolate that makes them great - the sour cream makes them super moist and just the right consistency. Just be sure not to over bake because they do try out very quickly. With how good these are and how easy they are to make they'll easily become a favourite in your house if you give this recipe a try!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Freebie Valentine's Printables

Is January 6 too early to start posting my Valentine's Day projects? I'm hoping you don't so think so because I'm expecting a baby right around Love Day so I've got to share everything with you well before labour begins!

Today's post is two freebie Valentine's Day printables. I created them using this tutorial - who knew you could create words in the shape of a heart with no Photoshop necessary? The fonts are from and Fonts for Peas. Simply click on an image below for the full-size, print on cardstock (I think these would look great on cream!) and pop into a frame. They are designed to print on to 8.5x11 paper that you can then trim for an 8x10 frame but you can print them smaller for a smaller frame as well.

Don't mind the shadows in the preview pictures. I'm not sure why they're showing up but they don't appear in the full-size versions. I hope you enjoy these and please let me know if you print them out for your home this Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

By the Batch - Mini Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

Do you ever come across a recipe and think "I've got to make that RIGHT now"? And you are compelled to head into the kitchen to whip up something delicious immediately? It might just be the pregnancy talking but when I saw this recipe from Snappy Gourmet for Mini Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cheesecakes I had to have them asap! Thank goodness I had all the ingredients on hand. And let me tell you, they did not disappoint!

I have to apologize once again for the lack of in progress photos - there was no slowing me down once I got to work on these. I'm surprised I even managed a photo of the finished product ;)

1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 (8oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 (12oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and butter. Press crumbs onto the bottom of the cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Beat in eggs until well combined.

Spoon cheesecake filling onto tops of crusts. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until set on top but still soft. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Place chocolate chips and cream in small microwave safe bowl in microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Spoon the chocolate on top of each cheesecake. 

Refrigerate cheesecakes for at least 3 hours or overnight. Store cheesecakes in refrigerator.

According to Sarah
These cheesecakes are fantastic. My husband, who doesn't really have a sweet tooth, was eating these for dessert almost every night until they were gone. While the original recipe calls for crushed peanuts on top I made these just before Christmas and opted to put some red sugar on top instead - I think they'd be cute this way to serve to your Valentine as well! Definitely a decadent dessert that you wouldn't want to eat all the time (or maybe you would haha) but these make a great treat for a special occasion. The extra bonus is that, while they are really easy, they look like you actually put some real time and effort into them!

So what do you think - do you want to make them right now??

P.S. I'm so excited that my Baby Closet Dividers were featured on Paper Issues yesterday. Be sure to click over and check it out :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Magnetic Calendar - December

I know this post is a little (ok, a lot) late but I still wanted to share with you. I've fallen way behind in making my magnetic calendar - I missed October and November altogether - but I'm determined to get back on track. I started last March so I've really only got January and February to make before I can pull out last year's! In the meantime, here is December's calendar.

Obviously I had to go with a lot of red and green for December  but you'll also notice a blue square for the first night of Hanukkah. We have a couple of family birthdays in December hence the cupcakes and I also included some bottle caps, a few picture squares and a cute little elf. Here are a couple of detail pictures.

If you'd like to see the rest of my completed months or find out more about how I make them you can click here. Hopefully I'll have January ready to share very soon!