4th of July Brownie Bites

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4th of July Brownies | shaneskillercupcakes.com

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, so I whipped up these easy brownies as a last minute treat for a BBQ I’m attending. I used a delicious brownie mix I only recently started using. Most brownie mixes that I’ve used taste like brownie mixes. They taste good but not quite as decadent as homemade brownies.

A few weeks ago I tried Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix with Dutch Cocoa and Chocolate Chips for the first time and was impressed at how rich and delicious it was. It’s also nice that it already has chocolate chips included in it! To make these brownies you can use whatever mix or recipe you want, but I’d suggest trying the Trader Joe’s mix. It’s a good thing to have around when you need a dessert fast and don’t want to rummage through the kitchen collecting all the ingredients.

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Make your brownies and let them cool completely. Cut them into small squares and drizzle melted frosting on the top. If you want them to be festive, sprinkle a few jimmies on each.

4th of July Brownies | shaneskillercupcakes.com

That’s it! They are easy to make and don’t require a lot of artistic skill, yet they look pretty and patriotic.

4th of July Brownies | shaneskillercupcakes.com

4th of July Brownie Bites

Yield: 36 bites

Serving Size: One brownie bite

Ingredients

  • A batch of brownies, cooled completely
  • 1/3 of a can of white frosting
  • Red, white and blue sprinkles
  • Optional:
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • Nuts

Instructions

  1. Make your brownies from a mix or recipe and let cool completely. Add extra items (nuts, chocolate chips, marshmallows, etc) to the brownies if you wish.
  2. Cut the brownies into one inch squares.
  3. Put a cooling rack on top of a wax paper-covered cookie pan and place the brownie bites onto the rack.
  4. Melt the frosting in a bowl for 10-30 seconds until the consistency is liquid but still thick.
  5. Drizzle the frosting in a zig zag pattern over each brownie bite.
  6. While the frosting is still wet, sprinkle with your red, white, and blue jimmies.
  7. Chill brownies in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set the frosting.
  8. Serve at room temperature.
http://shaneskillercupcakes.com/2015/07/4th-of-july-brownie-bites/

I added marshmallows to my brownies, but they turned brownish yellow while baking and kind of messed up my red, white, and blue color scheme. They taste great though!

4th of July Brownies | shaneskillercupcakes.com

What are you doing for the 4th of July? Are you making anything special?

 

****I was not sponsored or paid by Trader Joe’s to recommend their product. I just really like it!****

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Spicy Jalapeño Martini #carnivalcocktail

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Spicy Jalapeño Martini

In the spirit of the circus/carnival party I had recently, I decided to include a themed cocktail for the festivities. I was eating some nachos with cheese sauce piled high with pickled jalapeños at my party when it hit me that I didn’t come across jalapeño cocktails all that often. Probably the most common kind is a jalapeño margarita but outside of that, I’d never really heard of one. I’m sure they are out there, but I decided to see what I could some up with.

I started with a standard dirty martini recipe and replaced the olive jar juice and olives with jalapeño juice and slices of jalapeños. It turned out really good! If you like a little spice and the flavor of pickled jalapeños, you’d probably love this drink.

Spicy Jalapeño Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 oz. pickled jalapeño juice from jar
  • 1-5 drops hot sauce (I used habanero hot sauce)
  • 2-3 slices pickled jalapeño

Instructions

  1. Put all of the ingredients, except the sliced jalapeños, in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake hard about 4-5 times and strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Garnish with several jalapeño slices.
http://shaneskillercupcakes.com/2015/06/spicy-jalapeno-martini-carnivalcocktail/

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Step Right Up! It’s Shane’s Circus/Carnival Party

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Last year when American Horror Story: Freak Show debuted I got the idea to do a circus party at my house. While having a creepy party in the same vein as AHS: Freak Show is definitely my cup of tea, I decided a kid/family friendly one would be more popular with my friends.

I began by creating an invitation. I scoured the internet for some inspiration and settled on a design. When you’re having a party as big as the one I was creating, it’s hard to get all the pertinent information on the invite without it turning into a book!

Circus/Carnival party invitation

I broke the party down into three areas: circus, sideshow, and carnival. The circus was set up in the living room, the bathroom became a sideshow, and the carnival was in the backyard.

I love to decorate and make things, so putting on a party like this was a lot of fun but a ton of work. Here’s how each area of the party turned out.

The Circus: Under the Big Top

Circus party decor

I wanted the living room to have the suggestion of a circus tent so I bought a stack of dollar store plastic tablecloths and got to work. I tied a couple whites and a red one together on one end and attached them to the center of the room. Then I opened them out towards the wall and stapled them up. I continued like this around the room until about half of it was covered. I added another tablecloth from the ceiling to the floor to finish the sides of the “tent.”

DIY Circus marquee sign

The marquee was the other “big thing” I made for living room circus decor. It’s made from foam core board, poster board, string lights, and ping pong balls! I have a full tutorial here if you’d like to see how it was made.

Circus party food table

The last area of the circus was the treat table I put up in the dining area. I had popcorn, candy, cupcakes, peanuts, etc. laid out everywhere! I also decorated some animal toys to look like circus animals for some extra flair.

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Circus/Carnival Cupcakes

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cupcakesThe circus/carnival party I had was a great success and I wanted to share the cute cupcakes that I made for it. For more details about the party head over here. Below, learn about how to make carousel horse cupcakes and clown cupcakes.

Carousel Cupcakes – Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

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After I found this cool cupcake carousel stand I couldn’t pass up making some cupcakes to go in it. To make the cupcakes look even more like they belonged on a carousel, I wanted to add some carousel horses to them. I found these really cute carousel horse cutouts for paper straws and I cut the straws in half so they could be cupcake toppers.

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For the cake on these I used this delicious Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate cake recipe. The batter was incredibly runny and they didn’t rise very much, but they were moist and tasty. I only made a half batch for this party and shared my buttercream with the clown cupcakes below. If you make a full batch, use the frosting recipe below.

Make a batch of Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, but instead of the vanilla substitute peppermint extract. The peppermint goes so well with chocolate!

You’ll also be using this frosting for the clown cupcakes.

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D.I.Y. Circus Marquee Sign {Tutorial}

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This past weekend I had a circus/carnival themed party at my house. When I first started planning the party, I knew I wasn’t going to have a lot of money to spend on decor, but I needed to have some big spectacular pieces if I wanted my house to look anything like a circus.

Luckily, a trip to the dollar store for some plastic tablecloths fixed my circus tent situation, but what is a circus without its sign?!

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Marquee letters and signs can range anywhere from $30-$40 per letter and into the hundreds for whole signs! I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t going to spend that much on a decor item for some silly party I’m having for friends. It’s just not going to happen.

As I do with many things I can’t afford, I make them. While oftentimes making an item can end up costing more than the store bought item, in this case, it’s just the opposite!

Most of the items for this project can be found around the house or easily bought for little money.

Supply List

  • Poster board
  • Letter stencils
  • Foam core board
  • A string of LED lights (length depends on how many letters you make)
  • Ping pong balls
  • A drill with a bit
  • A box cutter/ X-acto knife
  • String
  • Pencil/pen
  • Glossy spray paint
  • Hot glue gun/ hot glue sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Ruler/yardstick

First you want to make the letter stencils. Find the right font for your sign and print the letters out at the correct size for tracing onto the foam core board. I used Freak Show font because it had fat wide letters that would be easy to fit the ping pong balls into and it looked like a circus font. Just remember, if you use a fancier font like I did, this project will take longer to edge with the poster board.

If you want your letters to be bigger than a sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper you can use blockposters.com to break your letter image onto other sheets of paper and then cut and tape them together.

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Once you have your letter stencils cut out, trace them onto the foam core. Since my sign was relatively small, I only needed one sheet of foam core. Cut out the letters with a sharp X-Acto knife. A sharp craft knife is important because you won’t have to push down as hard and the edges will be smoother. Also make sure to put something under the foam core such as a self healing cutting mat or a piece of cardboard, so you don’t cut into something you care about.

At this time, use your drill to make 1/4″ holes in the foam core where you want the lights to push through. If you need larger holes, you can use a larger bit or stretch the holes by pushing a thick pen or marker through the hole. I had to use the pen trick, because I didn’t have any larger drill bits!

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Next, cut 3″ strips of poster board. I just cut one long strip and then cut it down as I figured out the lengths I needed. I also drew myself a guide line about 1″ in on one side so that I knew where to glue the strip to the edge of the foam core.IMG_5457

To measure the lengths of poster board, take a piece of string and run it along one continuous side. Cut the string to the correct length and then measure the string for the length to cut the poster board to.

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300+ Cookie Dough Variations From One Simple Recipe {Craftsy}

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Check out this awesome infographic by Cakespy featuring a simple cookie recipe that can be made into over 300 tasty varieties!

Source: 300+ Cookie Dough Variations From One Simple Recipe

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