Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Love My Sweet Kalei!!

Normally when Kalei sees a camera, she immediately stops whatever cute thing she had been doing. We sure lucked out with this!! Kalei has been singing this song non-stop. And she has also managed to tinker out the notes to the song on the piano too. She just loves Foofa on Yo Gabba Gabba, and I love her sweet little voice!!



video

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Making Christmas



our
FUN evening decorating and baking!





Kalei had such a blast, she was very serious about where she wanted to put each ornament







Great job Kalei!





She was so proud :)







Rolling out gingerbread dough...YUM!







My little baking buddy





One happy family




Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Think Tink

Here is the cupcake display I made for kalei's friend H's 3rd birthday. H is super into princesses, and her face just lit up when she saw her cake!! (I know, Tinkerbell is a fairy and not a princess...) It was a lot of work, I won't lie, but I had a blast with it and it was so worth it to see how happy it made her!




I used a new and improved vanilla cupcake recipe I have been working on, and a Swiss meringue buttercream icing. I had never made this type of frosting before, and holy cow it was good!! A little time consuming, as it requires about 15 minutes of beating (thank you Kitchenaid for your glorious stand mixers!!) but totally worth it. And it can be frozen and used later too, bonus!! The Tinkerbell dress is covered in marshmallow fondant, and her head, hair, and body are entirely made of fondant, all skewered together with, well, a skewer :o) I made her wings with Wilton Colorflow, which I think is similar to royal icing, but was a lot easier to work with. (I first attempted the wings with royal icing, and they just shattered). It is hard to tell in the picture, but I painted the pink part of her dress with Wilton shimmer dust to make it sparkly. It looked really cool!







You can find the frosting recipe at this site, http://www.dyannbakes.com/. I love this site so much!! Her videos are so awesome and helpful, especially for a visual learner like me! If you like to bake, and want some good tips, you should definitely check it out :o)

Happy "leftovers" eating!!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Hot Chocolate in the Desert

I love how it is getting extremely close to Christmas, and yet it is still too hot here to wear jeans. I know I complain about this often, but dangit, I want to wear a sweater this year. Just once... I remember last year, standing outside waiting for all of the kids to get off the bus at the school where I worked, and being freezing every morning! But that was Yuma, and El Centro is still just HOT.





But not too hot for Hot Chocolate Cupcakes!! The inspiration for these came from the insanely good hot chocolate that Jay makes for us every year, with cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and double the chocolate. YUM!!! So of course this had to become a cupcake too. It turned into a sort of tweak-as-I-go-along recipe, as I wanted to get the taste as close as possible to that of the real thing. I think this is pretty close to what I ultimately came up with.







HOT CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES: Makes 12 standard size cupcakes





1/4 cocoa powder


1 packet Nestle rich chocolate hot cocoa mix (dry)


3/4 C all purpose flour


1/2 C sugar


3/4 tsp baking soda


1/2 tsp baking powder



1/2 tsp salt


3/4 tsp cinnamon


1/4 tsp nutmeg



1 large egg



1/4 C plus 2 TBSP warm water




1/4 C plus 2 TBSP buttermilk




2 TBSP canola oil




1/2 tsp vanilla




1 C Kraft mini marshmallows









1/2 C semi sweet chocolate chips (I used Hershey's Special Dark)




2 tbsp light Karo syrup




1 TBSP butter




2 tsp heavy cream









1 C heavy whipping cream




1 - 2 tsp sugar, to taste









1/4 C chocolate shavings
















Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners











In medium bowl, combine cocoa powder, hot cocoa mix, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.











In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the egg, water, buttermilk, and vanilla.











Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.





Fold in the mini marshmallows.











Divide batter evenly in the cupcake liners.











Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean (a few crumbs are ok).











let cool for 5 minutes in pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.











Fill cupcakes with fudge filling, and top with sweetened cream and chocolate shavings.













FUDGE FILLING:






Melt chocolate chips, butter, and Karo syrup in small pan over low heat. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before filling the cupcakes.
Note - putting the fudge in the fridge will harden it, if this happens, just reheat to soften.










SWEETENED CREAM:






In large bowl, beat cream on high speed just until soft peaks form. Stop mixer and add sugar. Continue beating on high until thick enough to hold its shape. Dollop or pipe on cooled cupcakes, top with chocolate shavings.
















I wasn't too sure what the marshmallows in this recipe would do, whether they would stay put and create pockets of gooeyness throughout, or just melt into the batter. Turns out it was the latter, which made for an all over gooey moist cupcake. I have to admit I was a little confused though when I bit into the cupcake and all the marshmallows had dissapeared... :)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lazy Day

It has been kind of a lazy past couple of days (which is a always a nice change!) Kalei has not been feeling too great, so we have been taking it easy. Yesterday we were able to go and see the Bee Movie with Kalei's friend L and his family which was super duper fun. It was too cute, L called Kalei on the phone to ask her if she wanted to go with him. Seriously, I am planning their wedding already. He is the cutest thing ever! So of course we had to dress Kalei up super cute :) Much grouchiness ensued after the movie however, so we were not able to get a picture of both of them :( The movie was great though, and the kids absolutely squealed with laughter all the way through. I don't know what is up with the negative critic reviews, I thought the movie was really good and funny, and it definitely kept the kids attention, and there wasn't anything offensive in it. Oh well...





Kalei and Jay were both up most of the night due to Kalei tummy troubles (while I slept blissfully on, unaware of any of it - I know what kind of mommy am I?). We stayed home from church today so that they could both get some needed rest. It was nice just to relax and hang out together as a family. Jay is taking the rest of his personal time for the year off these next few days ( he won't be able to use it once the holidays start) so we are really taking advantage of the time to have fun together. Tonight we took Kalei to the park to play and get out of the house for awhile, and we had a blast. Jay brought along the slackline so we took turns with that for awhile. Jay has gotten really good at it and can walk all over the line now, frontwards and backwards, and can even turn around. I, on the other hand, am still getting the hang of just balancing once I am up. I did manage to take an actual step a couple of times today though. Woohoo!! Kalei loves walking on it too. I am amazed that she is not completely freaked out by getting up there. Her balance is pretty amazing!




Kalei is in bed and I am just hanging out making cupcakes (surprise surprise!) while Jay is out with his dad, who is staying with us tonight after a fun weekend at the dunes with his brother. I had some left over glaze from a earlier cupcake project that I didn't want to go to waste, so I decided to experiment with a new cupcake recipe tonight. It's not nearly as much fun to do the same thing twice as it is to try something new :o) I am really excited about them! Assuming they turn out, I will post pictures and the recipe tomorrow when they are all finished :)

Baby Shower Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for a surprise baby shower for a friend of mine last week. It was so fun! This idea came from the Wilton 2006 Yearbook, the same one that featured Kalei's "lollipop" cupcakes. In the yearbook it uses pink for the blankets as well, but since my friend is having a boy, I just made more of the other 3 colors. I haven't used much fondant in a long long time, because I just don't think it tastes good enough to warrant all the work. When I found this recipe for marshmallow fondant however, I decided to be brave and give it a shot. The recipe made it sound like it was going to be pretty time consuming and messy, but actually, it was a really quick and easy! (Especially with my mixer :o) And since it is mainly made from marshmallows, it is much cheaper and tastier than the regular kind too. Kalei had fun playing with it as well. After I let her taste some of it, she started calling it "taste playdough". :oD




At least these babies didn't take 9 months to make!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Simple and YUMMY Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Chicken pot pie is not the sort of thing I typically think about eating, let alone making. Just way too high in fat and calories and all that stuff I would rather save for candy, chocolate, cupcakes, cookies, um that list goes on and on! But for whatever reason I have been CRAVING it lately. A quick search on the web produced countless recipes of course, and I found one that looked like a good balance between being simple, quick, and edible. I wanted a recipe with a homemade gravy, since I am not a huge fan of most cream of ________ soup bases. Anyway, I made this recipe for dinner tonight, with a few small changes, and holy cow it was awesome! I will definitely be making it again.




DELICIOUS CHICKEN POT PIE: from
Recipezaar



1 C potatoes, diced

1 C chopped onions

1 C celery, diced

1 C chopped carrots

1/3 C melted margarine ( I used olive oil instead, it worked great!)

1/2 C all purpose flour

2 C chicken broth

1 C half and half

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

4 C cooked chopped chicken

2 pie crusts, store bought or home-made (I used store bought and they were good)


DIRECTIONS:


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes.

3. Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well Cook one minute stirring constantly.

4. Combine broth and half and half

5. Gradually stir into vegetable mixture

7. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly

8. Stir in salt and pepper; add chicken and stir well

9. Pour into shallow 2 quart casserole dish and top with pie shells

10. Cut slits to allow steam to escape.

11. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly and cooked through.


I halfed this recipe, and used crust on the top and bottom because it was just easier. I also added some frozen peas and corn, because I like a lot of veggies. I think next time I am going to either use milk instead of half and half, or up the broth and cut down on the half and half. Maybe that would offset the "badness" of the pie crust a little... :P


Enjoy!!

Promises

So remember the chocolate cupcakes with strawberry mousse I had promised? Well, they happened, however all of my pictures turned out blurry. Darn it, I guess that means I will have to make them again... Hehehe :o) I for sure will though, because they were, as Kalei would say, "Totally boss!!"

And the other thing I promised - check this out!





It's so pretty!!! I LOVE my mixer!! Basically I owe my sister a lifetime supply of cupcakes, and more. I have used this thing several times a day, everyday. It has made my hobby/obsession/insanity even more fun! YAY!!

We're Back :o)

Actually, we have been back for quite awhile... but trying to get caught up after a trip is always a challenge! Kalei and I had TONS of fun in Mesa. We were able to hang out with many of our friends that we haven't seen for over a year. It was neat to me that Kalei had such a great time playing with all of her old friends. We miss all of you so much!!

We have always known that Kalei just loves puppies (or any other animal really) but as you can see from these pictures, she is actually CRAZY about them! It's so cute :) As long is there is a puppy around to chase her, wrestle with her, and give her kisses, she is one happy kid.

























Kalei and Spud. Spud seems pretty happy to play with her too!! Maybe we should get a dog too...?


Kalei and me with Spud's mom and dad (Kalei was not happy about leaving!)

Kalei and her friend K. When they weren't arguing about who is bigger, faster, stronger, etc. etc. they had a lot of fun together and got along well...




REALLY well! Apparently, Kalei likes boys too!



Kalei with her friends J and E. She was trying really hard not to smile for the camera.

Now that's more like it!

We are really fortunate to have a kid who is GREAT in the car! I love taking road trips with Kalei. She is so patient and happy when we are driving. She sings songs and tells stories, which keeps me entertained too! I am also greatful for the invention of the portable dvd player... Kalei and I only made one bathroom stop on the way to Mesa. The trip home was a different story. We made several potty stops, a lunch stop, an Ikea stop (I NEEDED Ikea meatballs!) , and a stop at the pizza place in Yuma by our old house to get pizza and breadsticks to eat for dinner that night. Phew! We were both pretty crazy by the time we got home :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Little of This, a Little of That, but Mostly a Lot of Pictures

Kalei and I are leaving for a weekend long trip to Mesa, AZ tomorrow, and at the moment I am trying to pack, post all of my pictures, and watch Grey's Anatomy all at the same time. There are so many fun pictures to share and I wanted to make sure and have them all up before we left! Since I am so short on time, I will just let the pictures do all the talking, and that way you don't have to listen to (or rather, read) my endless ramblings :) Enjoy!



OUR WARD TRUNK OR TREAT PARTY:

Kalei getting ready to go



Playing carnival games


Sliding down the bouncy slide for the millionth time :) She was fearless on this thing!


Kalei and good friend L aka "Nacho"


HALLOWEEN:

Kalei checking out her treats from Greatpa and Omie Jet


More treats


Getting ready - as my mom would say "You have to suffer to be beautiful!"

She just loves being Sally!


???


EVERYTHING ELSE:



My birthday girls night out! I had such a fun birthday :o)


Haircut day + 2 days in a row off of work = mohawk



Cute picture of Kalei on "Mohawk Day"


Stay tuned for my next post coming up after my trip...Dark chocolate cupcakes with strawberry mousse filling + strawberry cream cheese frosting, and pictures of my new kitchen gadget. 3 hints - it's blue, it makes cupcakes at a wicked speed, and it came from my awesome sister!! See you in 3 days!

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm not dead!

Just resting :o)

I have been so busy these past couple of weeks - I don't even know where to begin!! I swear Halloween season starts, and the craziness does not end until after New Years. It is a little confusing for me though, because it is still in the 90s here! It just feels wong to be carving pumpkins and decorating for fall when it is still too hot to hang out outside. Oh well what can you do?

I guess I will break up everything we've been up to into several mini posts. And since people have been asking me "where are the cupcakes?!" I should probably start with that first!! I had a fun day yesterday baking for several hours after church. I made some mini batches of cupcakes from recipes I had wanted to test, and also a couple of different types of icing. I also got some new fun cupcake stuff from Michaels over the weekend, and I wanted to try some of it out. For the most part, the experiments turned out great. And my sweet hubby cleaned up the huge mess I made in the kitchen!! Can't beat that!

The first recipe I made was a vanilla cupcake from Amy Sedaris's book which can be found
here. I wanted the cupcakes to be really dome-ey on top, so I filled up the liners a little more than I usually would. I ran the risk of overflow this way, but they actually stayed put!! I only ended up with 8 cupcakes in the end (I had halfed the recipe) but a pretty 8 cupcakes they were. I should have taken pictures of the "naked" stage :o)




I wanted to make really pretty cupcakes this time around, so I topped these with my favorite color combo, pink and lime green. The flowers are made of tinted rolled fondant, cut with a mini cutter and dotted with buttercream in the center. The icing is Magnolia Bakery's vanilla buttercream recipe, which I love!! I swear you will never go back to grocery store shortening - laden cupcakes after you taste this buttercream. Yum!!!




The other cupcakes I made were Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes and for such a simple recipe they are TASTY! I am in love with these cupcakes. They are awesome even without icing! But chocolate cupcakes require chocolate frosting, so i topped them with Billy's chocolate buttercream, and a single jumbo confetti sprinkle. Cupcake heaven!! So enjoy the pictures, and then go make some cupcakes :o)


Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's TV night

I have been so busy this past week, and therefore completely slacking on writing anything lately. Unfortunately, today is no different, I am running around like crazy, but I just had to post a link to this article about Daniel Dae Kim from LOST. All I know is they had better not kill off Jin this season! You'd think the actors on this show would learn something from their coworkers, but apparently not! Anyway, the readers' comments following the article cracked me up. We will just have to wait and see what happens I guess. :o) Only 4 "short" months to go...



TV Guide Article

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I Love Halloween!

And candy, and dressing up, and jack o lanterns, and scary movies, and candy, and more candy... So of course when I saw this I knew I had to create a cupcake based on halloween candy!

When I was little, See's Candy used to make these really awesome orange and black striped licorice/orange flavored sugar sticks during Halloween time (they still make the sugar sticks just not the licorice ones) and I could not get enough of them! I know, it it's a weird thing for a kid to like black licorice! So since sadly I can't get those anymore, I wanted to make a cupcake that would resemble as closely as possible the flavor of the candy sticks. I used a white, egg-white-only cake base, to which I added white chocolate and anise extract. I made the icing with marshmallow cream to give it a creamy, candy-like taste, and used orange juice to thin it instead of milk.

I knew I was kind of taking a risk making these, as there really just aren't too many people I know who actually like black licorice. But it also meant I had nothing to lose :o) Jay and I both really liked how they turned out! The orange and licorice flavors blended really well, and they really did taste like candy. Kalei was brave and tried one, but she hates black licorice, so she was pretty annoyed with me for giving her a "yucky" cupcake lol! So if you love black licorice, give these a try, if not, you are missing out!


BLACK LICORICE CUPCAKES WITH ORANGE MARSHMALLOW ICING: Makes 12 cupcakes


1 1/3 C cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

8 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp anise extract

5 tbsp butter

2 oz white chocolate

¾ C sugar

5 egg whites at room temp

¼ tsp cream of tartar


Melt chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the top of a double boiler. When completely melted and combined, stir in the sugar, and set aside to cool slightly.


Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in separate bowl.

In a large glass measuring cup, mix together the milk, vanilla, and anise extracts.

Transfer chocolate mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, starting and ending with the flour. Beat just until ingredients are combined after each addition.

With clean bowl and beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed for one minute,then on high until soft peaks form.

Transfer 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the batter bowl, gently fold to combine. Fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Fill cupcake papers to ¼ inch from the top rim. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


ORANGE MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

1 stick butter

3 cups powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream

2-3 TBSP orange juice


Cream the butter and powdered sugar together on medium speed for 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla and orange juice, and then add the marshmallow cream. Continue to beat on medium speed for 2 minuted. Mixture should be smooth and shiny, and thick enough to hold it's shape a bit.

Top cooled licorice cupcakes as desired. (I tinted some of the icing orange to make the spiderwebs, and the spiders are plastic Halloween rings.)



Monday, October 15, 2007

He Slimed Me!






A couple of days ago I went to a Halloween themed Pampered Chef party, where we made all of this food that looked icky but tasted yummy! Inspired by this, and also from watching Ghostbusters too often lately, I decided I should come up with a "gross" cupcake for Halloween - Slimer Cupcakes :o)









The flavor of this cupcake was totally an experiment for me. I wanted something super kid friendly, since the look of these cupcakes would probably appeal more to kids than adults. I have also really been craving banana cream pie, the kind made with vanilla pudding, Nilla Wafers, bananas, and Cool Whip. I took my usual vanilla cupcake base recipe, added some mashed bananas, and replaced part of the flour and sugar with vanilla wafers I crushed up using a food processor, then dyed the batter bright orange. I was really nervous about whether or not the ingredients would cooperate well with each other, but the texture of the cupcakes turned out just perfect! Light, moist, and fluffy, with a good banana flavor that wasn't overly sweet. I really liked the resulting shade of orange, it stayed nice and bright!




When the cupcakes were all cooled, I filled each of them with instant french vanilla pudding that I had dyed a radioactive shade of green. The colors looked so gross together, but that is exactly what I was aiming for :o) I topped the cupcakes with green Cool Whip, and sprinkled them with some really cute Wilton Ghost Mix sprinkles.


Later today I plan to deliver these cupcakes to various places, inlcuding Jay's work, The Family Treehouse, and to some friends. They were so much fun to make, I already can't wait for next Halloween!



SLIMER CUPCAKES RECIPE: Makes 20 cupcakes

2 C cake flour

1 C finely crushed vanilla wafers

1 C sugar

1 TBSP baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 C (2 sticks) of butter at room temp

3 eggs at room temp

1 C whole milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 C mashed ripe banana

1 small box french vanilla pudding

1 1/2 C cold milk

2 containers of Cool Whip, thawed and tinted green


Using a food chopper or processor, finely crush enough vanilla wafers to equal one cup. Transfer to a small bowl, and add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the mashed banana and vanilla, beat until well incorporated.

In a glass measuring cup, stir together the milk and orange food coloring.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating adding the milk in 2 parts. Mix on medium speed just until blended after each addition. Start and end with the flour mixture.

Fill cupcake papers 3/4 full of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on wire rack before filling or frosting.


SLIME FILLING:

Follow the "pie filling" directions on the box of pudding. Tint as desired with green food coloring.


To fill the cupcakes -


Using a small sharp paring knife, cut a small cylinder in the top of the cupcake. Cut off the bottom half, reserving the top half to replace after filling. Using a pastry bag or small spoon, fill cavities with about 1 tsp pudding, then replace cupcake tops.


Top cupcakes with Cool Whip and sprinkles.

Devour - while contemplating how something so yucky looking can taste so good!

Slimer Cupcake dissected


Happy Halloween Time! Only 16 more days left!!

 
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