The Baker Upstairs: August 2016

8.31.2016

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

Yum
These peanut butter and jelly cupcakes are so fun and delicious! Tender white cake filled with strawberry jam and topped with a delicious peanut butter buttercream. Yum!

These peanut butter and jelly cupcakes are so fun and delicious! Tender white cake filled with strawberry jam and topped with a delicious peanut butter buttercream. Yum!

I have to confess, I have a mild obsession with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I eat them for breakfast at least a few mornings a week. I love that they're quick, filling and delicious! (Plus, you know, protein or something.) I was trying to think up a tasty dessert for our back to school celebration on Sunday, and peanut butter and jelly came to mind. It's the perfect flavor for back to school!

These peanut butter and jelly cupcakes are so fun and delicious! Tender white cake filled with strawberry jam and topped with a delicious peanut butter buttercream. Yum!

You could totally add peanut butter to the cupcake recipe, but I chose not to because I wanted the cupcake to be sort of like the bread. Also, I didn't want the peanut butter to overwhelm the jelly flavor. I think they're pretty perfect as is, though! My kiddos loved them and kept gushing about how delicious they were, so I know it's a keeper recipe. :)

These peanut butter and jelly cupcakes are so fun and delicious! Tender white cake filled with strawberry jam and topped with a delicious peanut butter buttercream. Yum!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold, cut into small cubes
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream or greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla

for the frosting/filling:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons half and half or milk
1 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl or a the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the sour cream and vanilla in a measuring cup, and add about half of the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture. Beat until well blended and smooth. Add the other half of the sour cream mixture, and beat until smooth. Fill paper liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, beat the butter and peanut butter together until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed. Pour in the half and half, until the mixture starts to come together. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy.

Cut a small circle in the center of the top of each cooled cupcake (I used a sharp knife, but you could also use an apple corer or melon baller). Spoon a teaspoon of jam into the center of each cupcake, then replace the top. Pipe the peanut butter frosting onto the top. Warm the remaining jam in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, then drizzle it over the top of the cupcakes.
These peanut butter and jelly cupcakes are so fun and delicious! Tender white cake filled with strawberry jam and topped with a delicious peanut butter buttercream. Yum!

8.29.2016

Kids and the Internet - 5 Simple Ideas for Technology Use at Home

Yum
Internet use at home can be an area of frustration and worry for a lot of families. Today I'm sharing what is working for our family (so far) and how we make technology a positive at our house.

Kids and the Internet - 5 Simple Ideas for Technology Use at Home

Are your kids back in school yet? My oldest starts today, and my kindergartener will start on Thursday. It's been a long summer, and I think we are definitely ready for school to start, but there's always that little twinge when it's time to say goodbye to carefree summer days. This week on the blog, I'll be sharing some fun back to school posts, including recipes from our back to school celebration and some fun ideas for school lunches. Stay tuned!

I thought it would be fun to start today with a post about how we use technology in our home. I had the opportunity to attend a blogger lunch with CenturyLink a few weeks ago, and it got me thinking about how we use technology in our family, and how to teach our kids about technology. Back to school time is a great time to talk about technology with the kids and make a strategy that works for you. My husband and I are by no means experts, but we've figured out some ideas that work for our family, and hopefully they will give you some ideas that you can adapt for your own family!

START THEM YOUNG

Ok, not really. I'm not advocating giving a tiny kiddo a smartphone and letting them watch until their eyes glaze over. However, kids are never too young to learn that technology is a useful tool, but not the most important thing in the world. As much as I love staying up to date with friends, and usually have my phone within arm's length, I make a point of putting it down and making eye contact with kids and husband when they're talking to me. They are the most important thing to me, and anything on my phone can definitely wait. It will be much easier for me to teach them that family comes before technology if they see me doing it first.

Kids and the Internet - 5 Simple Ideas for Technology Use at Home

EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY

Technology isn't going anywhere. As time passes, it becomes more and more important in our lives. Every time I see a blog post about kids and technology, there are always a lot of comments saying something like, "When I was a kid, we didn't have a computer. Kids these days shouldn't be using computers." My approach is that since technology will play a big role in my kids' lives, it's my job to teach them how to use it in a positive way. When my nine year old asks me a question (like "Where do ring-tailed lemurs live, Mom?") we look it up on the internet together. We sort through results and talk about how some information on the Internet is lower quality (or just plain false) and we discuss ways to find correct information. We look up recipes together, find pictures of funny animals, and learn about places in the world we've never seen. It's like having a giant encyclopedia at our finger tips at all times. How cool is that?

SET LIMITS

We have passwords on every device that we own, and our kids have to earn technology time by finishing homework and chores, and getting along with each other. They get a set amount of time (usually 30 - 45 minutes), and they have to be somewhere where Mom and Dad can supervise. Since they're still so young (9 and 5), we have them mostly limited to educational websites and apps (like PBS kids and National Geographic Kids), and we have parental controls so they can't get onto anything too weird. If they want to google the answer to a question, or watch a video on YouTube, they have to have Mom or Dad with them. There's just too much weird stuff out there, and they don't have the judgment yet to sort through all the garbage.

Kids and the Internet - 5 Simple Ideas for Technology Use at Home

TALK TO THEM ABOUT THE DANGERS

My kids are definitely a little sheltered, but they tend to think that the internet is a magical land of My Little Pony games and Taylor Swift music videos. Sometimes they do get frustrated about the limitations we've placed. Without being too graphic, I've explained to them that there are some really terrible things on the internet, from kids being mean to other kids, to violence or inappropriate pictures and videos. All of the limitations and controls are to keep them safe and to protect them. My nine year old and I have had several discussions about never giving personal information to strangers on the internet, and that sometimes people on the internet are not what they seem. We'll keep reinforcing these rules over and over as they grow, to (hopefully!) create a groundwork to keep them safe as they grow more independent.

MAKE IT PART OF LEARNING, NOT THE FOCUS

As great as technology is, it's not a replacement for living life. Just because we can see nature on the computer screen doesn't mean we're actually experiencing it. Some of my favorite teaching moments have been when we've integrated technology into our learning without letting it be the focus. For example, we might decide to go on a nature walk, and use the computer to find a trail near us. Then when we're actually on the walk, we might look up the animals and plants that we see on my phone, or use GPS to map our route. I love having information at my fingertips, but there's no substitution for actually getting out there and living. It's important to us to teach our kids how to find a balance, and not let technology take over their lives.

Kids and the Internet - 5 Simple Ideas for Technology Use at Home

My lunch with CenturyLink was a fun learning opportunity, and I had a great time connecting with other bloggers in the Salt Lake area and learning about how they use technology. I think we're all in a similar place - technology is a huge part of our lives and our kids' lives, and we want them to be able to use it in a positive and safe way. CenturyLink offers one of the fastest and most reliable internet services in Salt Lake City, and they are continuing to build their infrastructure to provide the fastest internet in the future.

I loved what one of the representatives from CenturyLink said - their job is to provide access so people can curate, contribute, consume and create content online. We all know how frustrating it is when the internet isn't working, and the kids have an assignment due for school or a bill needs to be paid online. CenturyLink provides reliable service and 24/7 customer support, so you can keep getting things done without worrying about unreliable internet. They are the leading internet provider for Utah, and are currently offering 100Mbps for $20 a month through October, which is a killer deal!

My favorite thing we talked about at the lunch was what CenturyLink is doing to give back to the community. Their Teachers and Technology program gives yearly grants to teachers who exemplify the use of technology in the classroom, and just this year, they have donated more than $55,000 in grants to teachers in Salt Lake City. CenturyLink is committed to STEM education and has a partnership with the Utah Jazz to recognize outstanding students in science and technology. They are committed to investing in the communities they serve, and I was very impressed by all they do to give back. If you're in the Salt Lake area, definitely look into their services!

Now that I've shared with you what works for us, I would love to hear how you handle technology in your family. Each family is different, of course, but I would love to know what works for you!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of CTL. The opinions and text are all mine. 

8.12.2016

Best Ever Chicken Marinade

Yum
This delicious simple chicken marinade results in flavorful, juicy, perfectly seasoned chicken breasts every time!

These long, hot, end of summer days are just made for easy meals! Who has the energy to make any sort of complicated dinner after struggling to entertain children who are rock solid bored all day long? Or maybe that's just my kids. :) Because we moved about halfway through the summer, my kids lost all of their friends and activities at the same time, and now they just wander the house whining, "Mom, I'm so bored..." while I try to think up games we haven't played in a while or art projects we haven't already done in the last few days. We've been spending a lot of our evenings at the park, and I love the opportunity to let the kids play while I have a little time to read by myself (always supervising, of course). The kids are always in a hurry to get to the park, so we are loving simple and easy dinners. This chicken marinade is one that I've made multiple times before, and it is always a winner! The chicken turns out so flavorful and juicy and all-around perfect. It makes fantastic leftovers, and I often toss the leftover chicken in a salad or pasta dish for another easy meal. If I had a grill (or access to a grill) I would definitely grill this chicken, but for now I'll stick with my broiler pan. :) No matter how you cook it, it's always delicious!
Best Ever Chicken Marinade

2 pounds chicken breast, trimmed and cut into strips
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic

Whisk together the brown sugar, oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. Add the chicken pieces to a large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Seal the bag and gently toss the chicken to coat in the marinade. Refrigerate at least one hour, or as long as overnight. Cook chicken on the grill or under the broiler, and enjoy!

This delicious simple chicken marinade results in flavorful, juicy, perfectly seasoned chicken breasts every time!

8.10.2016

Peach Sprite

Yum
This delicious and simple peach Sprite is the perfect cold drink for a hot day!

Are you on the flavored soda bandwagon yet? It's all the rage in Utah, and it was kind of funny to come up to Portland and realize that there are almost no soda shops here.  I'm not going to debate about whether soda is healthy for me (I'm pretty sure it's not) but as someone who doesn't drink coffee, I definitely need the caffeine in a Diet Coke to get me through a tough day. And I'll be honest and say that most days during the summer are tough days in which I need a Diet Coke. :) Anyway, after seeing me make my millionth dirty Diet Coke of the summer, my kids were begging to try a flavored soda of their own, and I realized I had never introduced them to peach Sprite! It was the first flavored soda I ever tried, right after my husband and I got married, and it brings back great memories for me. It's tart and sweet and the perfect combination of flavors! As a rule, I only let the kids have soda on special occasions, but it was fun to watch how excited they each got over their tiny cups of peach Sprite. This stuff is magical!
Peach Sprite

12 ounces lemon lime soda, chilled
2 tablespoons peach syrup
1 lime wedge
ice

Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. Pour the peach syrup over the top and squeeze the lime wedge over the peach syrup. Pour in the lemon lime soda, then stir with a straw until blended. Enjoy immediately!

8.08.2016

Perfect Corn on the Cob

Yum
This tender and buttery corn on the cob is so delicious and ready in 10 minutes!

Corn on the cob is a staple at our house during the summer! When it's on sale, 4 or 5 ears for a dollar, we load up and eat sweet corn every night with dinner for days. It's a favorite with the whole family, and one of the few vegetables neither of my children will ever turn up their noses at. Last week we visited the farmers market near our new place and picked up some fresh sweet corn, and I was excited to make it for dinner. I knew I needed a good recipe, so I hopped on Pinterest for inspiration and found multiple posts suggesting I cook the corn in milk. I tried it, and I have to say - it is truly the best corn on the cob I've ever had. Every morsel of corn was tender and buttery and so flavorful. I don't think I can make corn any other way ever again (except, maybe, this Mexican street corn). Give this corn a try and see how perfect it is!
Perfect Corn on the Cob

4-6 ears fresh corn
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Fill a large shallow saucepan halfway with water. Add the milk and butter, and bring just to a simmer. Add the corn carefully (I used tongs to prevent splashing) and simmer 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the corn is bright yellow. Remove the corn carefully and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve hot and enjoy!

This tender and buttery corn on the cob is so delicious and ready in 10 minutes!

8.04.2016

Snickers Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yum
These Snickers chocolate chip cookies are to die for! Loaded with Snickers chunks, chocolate chips, and crunchy peanuts, they're just like your favorite candy bar in cookie form!

Hey friends! Long time no see. :) I've been busy and overwhelmed in the last few weeks with our big move, but I'm popping back in today to share a fantastic cookie recipe with you! Did you know that today is national chocolate chip cookie day? Yes, apparently that's a thing. And rightly so! Chocolate chip cookies are my jam. I make a batch at least once a week, and they are my go-to cookie.  I've made my basic version so many times that I could make them in my sleep without even thinking. This time, though, I decided to go all out and make Snickers chocolate chip cookies! They're loaded with candy bar chunks, chocolate chips, and crunchy peanuts. They're like my favorite candy bar, in cookie form!

These Snickers chocolate chip cookies are to die for! Loaded with Snickers chunks, chocolate chips, and crunchy peanuts, they're just like your favorite candy bar in cookie form!

I will say, I am not usually one for refrigerating cookie dough overnight, but I tried it with these cookies, and the results were pretty magical. It's totally not necessary (and yes, when I want cookies, I want them now), but I definitely felt like it improved the texture of the cookies. They're still fantastic either way, but they definitely had a more sophisticated texture the second day. Yum!

These Snickers chocolate chip cookies are to die for! Loaded with Snickers chunks, chocolate chips, and crunchy peanuts, they're just like your favorite candy bar in cookie form!

Snickers Chocolate Chip Cookies

12 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Snickers pieces, chopped
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the Snickers pieces, chocolate chips, and peanuts. Shape the dough into one inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

If you liked these Snickers cookies, check out these other delicious chocolate chip cookie recipes from some of my favorite food blogging friends!

21 amazing chocolate chip cookie recipes from your favorite food bloggers!

Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies from Butter with a Side of Bread
Slow Cooker Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies from Life Made Simple
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pizza from Jamie Cooks It Up!
Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake from Like Mother Like Daughter
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake from Ashlee Marie
Mini Chocolate Chippers from Butter with a Side of Bread
Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Double Chocolate Avocado Cookies from Yummy Healthy Easy
White Chocolate Coconut Cookies from Jamie Cooks It Up!
Rolo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies from Like Mother Like Daughter
Millionaire Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Baker Upstairs

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...