Mickey Mouse Pops!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of helping a friend make these pops for her son’s second birthday. We had so much fun hanging out, but the actual pop making experience was challenging.  It was definitely a learning experience for both of us, but I’m glad we jumped in with both feet.  I think the finished pops were really cute!

One major change we made from the source of this recipe is that we used Oreo truffles as the base instead of cake balls.  We much prefer the taste of Oreo truffles over the cake ones, even though they are very rich and decadent.  I do think the cake balls generate a smoother ball, but again, the taste is more important in my opinion.  Also the Oreo balls are a little heavier than the cake ones, so that made dipping them difficult, but we managed.  I think the keys are to have really runny chocolate (but not too hot.  See step 11 about adding shortening to thin it out.) and to dip as fast as possible.

Please excuse my fuzzy photos, they were taken with my phone rather than a camera.  If you’re friends with me on facebook, you can see a couple more pictures there.  Also, I’m super excited that this counts as the first thing to check off from my 30×30 list.  Score!

Mickey Pops

Source:  Bakerella

You’ll need:

  • 1 box cake mix (bake as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)*
  • 1 16 oz can of ready-made frosting*
  • Wax paper
  • Baking sheet
  • White bark coating {we omitted}
  • Black candy color {we omitted}
  • Chocolate candy melts
  • Round cookie cutter
  • Paper lollipop sticks
  • Styrofoam block

*One cake makes about 48 cake pops. If you don’t need that many, then cut the cake in quarters and freeze any cake sections for another day. You’ll need at least one ounce of candy coating for each generic Mickey Mouse cake pop you plan on dipping and more for any extra decorating.

*If you substitute Oreo balls for the cake balls, you obviously won’t need any cake or frosting.  You will need one package of Oreo cookies and one package of cream cheese.   Crush the Oreos in a food processor, then add the cream cheese and pulse until combined.  Pick up at step 3 below.

Instructions:

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into a large bowl.

2. With a large spoon, mix thoroughly with about 3/4 of the can of frosting. You won’t need the rest.

3. Roll mixture into quarter size cake balls and place on a wax paper covered baking sheet. Step 3

4. Place balls in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up. Then transfer to the refrigerator to keep chilled and avoid freezing.

5. Prepare the ears. Use round chocolate candy melts and with a round cutter, cut off a small portion of each candy melt. Set the ears aside. Step 5
6. Melt white candy coating (we just used chocolate) in a heat-proof plastic bowl so that the coating is at least four inches deep for easier dipping. Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals on low, stirring in between. Repeat until melted and smooth. Step 6

7. Add several drops of black candy color (that does not contain water) into the white candy coating and stir until combined. Add color until you achieve the desired shade. {We skipped this}

8. Remove a couple of cake balls from the refrigerator at a time to work with.

9. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted coating and insert into the cake ball. Then, grab two candy melt ears and dip the cut side into the melted candy coating. Attach the ears to the top/side of the cake pop and the coating will set like glue. Step 9

10. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.

11. When dry, carefully dip the entire cake pop with ears attached into the bowl of melted candy coating. Dip and remove in one motion without stirring. Make sure the entire cake ball is covered. Using a deep bowl is helpful here. If your coating is too thick, you can add a few drops of vegetable oil or shortening to help thin it and make it easier to work with.

12. Remove and allow any excess coating to fall off the pop and back into the bowl.

13. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.

14. When dry, wrap in small treat bags and tie with a decorative ribbon.

Note: You can use dark chocolate candy coating instead of tinting white coating black. Then, you can use the same glueing technique to attach the ears right on the surface.

You can also attach other items like Junior Mints or separated miniature Oreo Cookies to the surface of the cake pop right after dipping and before the coating sets.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I made this batch of ice cream just in time for my mom’s birthday which is this week.  If I remember correctly she is a fan of minty desserts such as grasshoppers so I have a feeling she will love this mint chocolate ice cream.  Good thing she is visiting me on Wednesday so I can share it with her!  It is so minty and refreshing.  Yum!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Source:  Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: About 1 quart

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Custard Chill Time: 8 hours | Churn Time: 20-30 minutes

2 cups heavy cream, divided
1½ cups whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks (I used 5 yolks)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons mint extract (or to taste)
3 or more drops of green food coloring (optional)
½ cup chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)

1. Warm 1 cup of the heavy cream, whole milk, granulated sugar and pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

2. Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a  heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (if using a thermometer, it should be right around 170 degrees F). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the vanilla and mint extracts and the food coloring (if using), and stir until cool over an ice bath.

4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (preferably overnight). Churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions, adding the chocolate chips during the last 5 minutes of churning.  I folded the mini chips into the ice cream as I transferred it to a storage container.

Moroccan Chicken Stew

This meal was a step away from my comfort zone but I’m glad I went for it.  We loved it so much, it will be added to our regular rotation.  I’ve never made a specific Moroccan meal before and have only used curry powder a handful of times, but somehow I knew this would be good.  It has a great warm, spicy flavor.  Probably too spicy for some people but perfect for us!

I made a few adaptations, mainly substituting chicken breast tenderloins in place of the bone-in chicken thighs but that’s what I had on hand.  It cooked faster using the tenderloins as well.  I also added fresh basil and omitted the raisins but will use them next time.

Moroccan Chicken Stew

Source:  adapted from Campbell’s Kitchen {clipped from a magazine}

serves 4-5 large portions

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil

8 bone-in skinless chicken thighs {I used 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins}

1 large red onion, sliced

1 large bell pepper cut into 1″ pieces {I used some red and orange bell pepper}

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 can condensed tomato soup {I added a little water to rinse the can}

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup silvered almonds {I used sliced almonds}

fresh basil – about 1 tablespoon, chopped

Directions:

Heat oil in a deep saucepan or dutch oven.  Add chicken {in batches} and brown on all sides; remove to a plate.

Add onions, pepper, and garlic to the pot and cook about 5 minutes, until tender-crisp.  Add cinnamon and curry and stir for one minute.  Stir in soup {and water} and heat to a boil.  Return chicken to pan.  Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until chicken in cooked through. Stir in chickpeas and raisins.  Then stir in the almonds and basil.

Serve over couscous or brown rice.

Enjoy!

Soda Pop Chops with Smashed Potatoes

This meal was kind of a splurge.  As of late we have been eating lighter and healthier, but I was in the mood for a really good old fashioned “Sunday Supper” type of dinner that went all out.  This was just perfect.  It has that stick-to-your-ribs quality about it.

It makes a lot of sauce (which is very tangy by the way), so I’m not sure yet how I’ll use it up this week.  If you have any idea, please let me know.

Soda Pop Chops with Smashed Potatoes

Source: Taste of Home Simple and Delicious, April/May 2011

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Smashed Potatoes-

about 1.5 pounds (or about 8 ) small red potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size

4 Tbsp butter

milk – about 1/2 cup

s & p

Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Ingredients for the chops –

1 cup root beer

1 cup ketchup

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp flour

salt and pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 pork chops

Directions for the chops:

In a small bowl combine the root beer, ketchup, sugar, chili and garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk and set aside.

In a large resealable plastic bag, add the flour and some s & p.  Add chops one at a time, shake to coat.

In a large skillet, brown the chops on both sides in oil.  Add the root beer sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until meat is tender and cooked through.  Remove chops and keep warm.  Bring sauce to a boil and reduce to desired thickness.

Meanwhile, drain potatoes; mash with the butter and milk.  Season with s & p to taste.

Serve chops smothered in sauce next to the smashed potatoes.

I also served this with Broccoli Salad made with crumbled bacon, dried cranberries, chopped red onion, and sliced almonds.