Baking

Nutella Swirl Brownies

Nutella Brownies

There are plenty of ways to incorporate peanut butter into brownies, and I thought, “Why not Nutella?” I found them very simple to make since I used a box mix as the base. If you’re not a fan of box mixes, try this basic brownie recipe. You can even use different flavor brownies. I used a mocha fudge brownie mix which goes great with the Nutella. Anyway, here are the directions for your Nutella brownie bliss.

You Will Need:

  • 13″ x 9″ pan
  • Pre-made brownie batter for a 13″ x 9″ pan
  • 1/2 cup of Nutella (or more if you really love Nutella)

Step 1:
Preheat your oven and prepare your brownie batter as per the recipe or instructions on the box. Pour into baking pan.

Step 2Step 2:
Drop tablespoons of Nutella on top of the brownie batter, making sure it is evenly distributed. Take a table knife and gently swirl the Nutella throughout the batter. It should have a pretty marbled appearance. Put it in the oven for the time specified by your box/recipe. Tip: For fudge brownies, there is no specific test to check if they’re done. If you like gooey brownies, set your timer for the lower end indicated on your box/recipe. For less gooey brownies, go for the higher end of the baking time range. Cake brownies can be tested with the tried-and-true toothpick method; if it comes out clean, they’re done.

Step 3:
Some of the beautiful marbling will not be visible after baking, but they’ll still taste great. Allow the brownies to cool before cutting. Enjoy! Makes about 32 brownies.

Step 3

Nutrition Info:
Serving Size: 1 brownie (1/32 of a 13″ x 9″ pan)
Calories: 
128
Fat: 6.8 g
Saturated: 0.8 g
Trans: 0 g
Cholesterol: 10.9 mg
Sodium: 55.9 mg
Carbs: 17 g
Fiber: 0.8 g
Sugars: 12.6 g
Protein: 1.2 g
Vitamin A: 0.4%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 0.6%
Iron: 4.5%

Jewelry

My Favorite Jewels on the Red Carpet

I love watching the Oscars and admiring all the pretty dresses and gems the female celebrities get dressed up in. I was so happy when Reese Witherspoon started the hashtag “askhermore” because these women are most definitely more than just what/who they’re wearing. The roles they play inspire us to do things we never imagined, and I think that the things they wear can inspire us to be just as beautiful and put-together as they are. There were even a few men sporting some sort of shiny adornment. In no particular order, here are my 10 favorite pieces of jewelry from this year’s Oscars.

Although hard to see, Keira Knightley’s headband complemented her floral-patterned dress perfectly.
Margot Robbie wore a beautiful navy and gold tassel necklace.
Viola Davis’s pearl bib necklace was absolutely gorgeous.
Octavia Spencer’s long pale blue earrings rocked with her dress.
Meryl Streep wore some exquisite fleur de lis styled diamond earrings.
Gwyneth Paltrow wore some fab ruby earrings that went perfectly with her dress.
Cate Blanchett’s light blue statement necklace stood out well on her black dress.
Scarlett Johansson stunningly pulled off her hairstyle, asymmetric earrings, and emerald bib necklace.
Terrence Howard sported an oval lapel pin for the evening.
John Travolta looked snazzy with his chunky silver chain necklace.

Those were my favorites for both the girls and the guys! There were several runners-up including Oprah’s earrings, Felicity Jones’ earrings, and Laura Dern’s necklace. Let me know who was wearing your favorite piece of jewelry in a comment, whether they made my top-10 or not. (Since none of these pictures are mine, clicking on them will take you to the place I found them.)

Baking · Tutorial

Oatmeal Scotchies

These are by far one of my favorite cookies, and they are so simple to make. Quaker has a recipe for “Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies” on the inside of the lid of the canister of oats they sell. The recipe calls for raisins, but you can substitute just about anything you want, from craisins to M&Ms. My favorite substitution is Nestle’s butterscotch morsels.

Here’s the original recipe copied from the Quaker Oats website.

INGREDIENTS:

    • 1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 3/4 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) vanilla
    • 1-1/2 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 Teaspoon(s) salt (optional)
    • 3 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
    • 1 Cup(s) raisins

PREPARATION:

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Oatmeal Scotchies

Since I’ve made these several times, I’ve altered the directions slightly to make my life easier. And there are a few additional things that I do to ensure that only the best oatmeal scotchies come out of the oven.

Step 1:
As in the original recipe, you will want to preheat your oven to 350°F. Next, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a separate medium-sized bowl and set it aside. Tip: Preparing dry ingredients first allows you to easily reuse any measuring cups or spoons. It’s hard to reuse measuring tools that have wet ingredients on them.

Step 2:
Tip: If your butter is not softened, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it on high for 20-30 seconds. Now it should be soft enough to cream with your mixer. It should only be softened to the point where it still holds its rectangular shape. If it’s a liquid, you’ve softened it a bit too much. If you are using salted butter, you may omit the optional salt. However, if you are using unsalted butter, you may want to put in the optional salt.

Step 3Step 3:
Take your stand mixer mixing bowl and combine the butter and the sugars. Mix them until they’re creamy, scraping any loose butter on the sides. Tip: I like to use a stand mixer for this recipe because it will make your life easier when it comes time to add in the oats. Also, I like to use dark brown sugar as it gives the cookies a bit of extra color.

Step 4:
Add in the eggs and the vanilla. You can even do this while the mixer is running to avoid having to turn it off and on a lot.

Step 5Step 5:
Find your combined flour mixture and slowly pour it in while the mixer is running. Hopefully, this will prevent a large mushroom cloud of flour and make clean-up a breeze.

Step 6Step 6:
Add in the oats while the mixer is running. Once the oats are well blended, turn off the mixer and remove the bowl, scraping (or devouring) any remaining dough from the beaters. Fold in 1 cup of butterscotch morsels. Tip: Mixing the morsels in with the stand mixer may crush them, and no one wants that. They taste much better whole.

Step 7Step 7:
I like to use my hands to form the dough into balls, but if you’re not about that, using two spoons to form the balls works just as well. Tip: If you’re using rectangular cookie sheets, placing the dough balls in the pattern shown allows you to fit more cookies on the sheet.

Step 8:
Cooking times may vary depending on oven and dough ball size, so start off with the 8-10 minutes recommended by Quaker. Cook until light brown. Tip: For evenly baked cookies, rotate the cookie sheets a half turn halfway through the baking time. If you have more than two sheets in the oven at once, rotate them a half turn and move the top sheet to the bottom and the bottom sheet to the top.

Step 9:
Once your cookies are light brown on the top and sides, it’s time to take them out. Although Quaker recommends you cool them thoroughly, I think they are best enjoyed warm. I recommend waiting the one minute while they cool on the cookie sheet before devouring. Enjoy.

Finished Product

Nutrition Info:
For a batch of 48 cookies:

Serving Size: 1 cookie
Calories: 111
Fat: 5.3 g
Saturated: 3.3 g
Trans: 0 g
Cholesterol: 17.6 mg
Sodium: 57.2 mg
Carbs: 12.9 g
Fiber: 0.6 g
Sugars: 6.7 g
Protein: 1.3 g
Vitamin A: 2.5%
Vitamin C:
0%
Calcium:
0.9%
Iron:
2.6%

Jewelry

Eye-catching Jewelry

I meant to publish this yesterday, but here it is today without any further ado.

Going through my collection of created jewelry pieces, two of them struck me as interesting in the way that light alters their appearance. I thought that this would be best for my first post on jewelry. Handmade items are naturally unique in that no two pieces will turn out exactly alike. I think that these two pieces of jewelry demonstrate that and go beyond since each piece can have a different look depending on the lighting.

Tiger Eye Bracelet

First up is a bracelet made with tiger eye beads. Tiger eye is a type of quartz that has golden brown stripes in it that appear to change from gold to brown when turned. Given its neutral tones, it can go with just about any outfit or color. The picture below attempts to show its color-changing properties.

Tiger's Eye Bracelet
Tiger Eye Bracelet. I think this could be worn by men and women as the colors and chunkiness are pretty unisex.

Color Changing Earrings

The next piece required three different pictures since it changes color depending on three different types of lighting. In the center of the black hematite donut bead is a Swarovski Xilion bicone bead that literally changes color in natural, fluorescent, and incandescent lighting. I’m not sure what sort of black magic they used to pull this off, but it’s pretty remarkable. It’s great for those days when you can’t decide what color jewelry you should wear.

Below, the three pictures show the earrings I made with these beads in the three different types of lighting. The bead around the Swarovski crystal is man-made hematite, which is very reflective and shiny and can be magnetized.

The Swarovski color-changing bead has a rose-quartz tone in natural light.
The Swarovski color-changing bead has a rose-quartz tone in natural light.
In fluorescent light, the beads are a light green.
In fluorescent light, the beads are a light green.
In incandescent light, the Swarovski color-changing beads are a peachy coral.
In incandescent light, the Swarovski color-changing beads are a peachy coral.

That’s all for today, so I hope you enjoyed this little post. From now on, jewelry posts will be published on Tuesdays sometime around 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET. The next post, which will be on baking (I hope you didn’t give up sweets for Lent, but since it’s only Ash Wednesday, you can always change it), will go up on Friday around 4 pm PT/ 7 pm ET.

Uncategorized

Getting Started

I’ve always enjoyed being crafty and making things with my hands. Out of everything I’ve tried my hand at (knitting, scrap booking, painting, drawing, sewing, etc.) my top two would have to be making my own jewelry and baking/cooking. Sparkle and Sprinkle will feature posts on these two things to provide you with inspiration and maybe even a few tutorials. I may also post a bonus blog from time to time that could be about anything from books, movies and TV, organizational tips, or neat places I discover. The possibilities are endless. So far my plan is to post twice a week, alternating between jewelry and baking, with some additional bonus blogs thrown in there.

If you still aren’t feeling compelled to hit that follow button for some twice-weekly crafty inspiration, maybe these pictures will help:

Green Crackle Agate Earrings

These were one of the first items that I sold on Etsy. I have since closed my shop, but may reopen in the future.
These were one of the first items that I sold on Etsy. I have since closed my shop, but may reopen in the future. Edit: I have now reopened shop, so please check it out!

Fourth of July Cupcakes

AKA: Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes. I've been making these for the past two years for the 4th, and they are always a hit.
AKA: Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes. I’ve been making these for the past two years for the 4th, and they are always a hit.

Anyway, there’s a little teaser for some of the things you can expect and look forward to. I hope you decide to stick around!