Friday, September 28, 2012

Birdhouse Cake

I'm working on a birdhouse cake for Billy and Erika's rehearsal dinner.  This is my first attempt.  Honestly, I'm pretty happy even though it honestly isn't very pretty as I learned a lot in this first attempt plus the parts I thought would be bad, weren't.
Building blocks - I used my basic cake recipe, not theirs. I used Smucker's seedless red raspberry jam.

Base frosted - white with brown cake...not smart!

Basic frosted - I ran out of frosting, so I'll have to make more next time.  I honestly never use that much (I don't like frosting), but I need more with decorating, so I'll make a double batch to start with so I have enough to finish correctly.

I'm also going to change colors to make the chocolate cake show less.  Not sure what color piping next time.

Adam's Mittens

Adam's mittens are done!  I ended up felting them and they fit perfectly now!  I had planned to felt, so it was a tactical decision to make them big!


Felted and fits nicely - he loves them! 
Prefelted - too big!

Prefelted as well

Adam's "Little Men"

Adam's version of "little men!"


Adam saw this in that Sesame Street cookbook (which I'm beginning to hate....not because I don't like the projects with Adam, but I don't like THEIRS). Adam is in love with this cookbook, though, so we go on....
He actually did eat it, though - at least ome of it!

Finished Hat

I just finished this hat - I'm really happy with it! I like the color plus it actually fits!  Which after my last big it doesn't fit anyone....makes me happy!

Last hat....too big for Jason!

The Boys

Andrew coloring

My "helper"

Adam with his preschool teacher, Mrs. Crawford

Watching Perry with Daddy!

Andrew's new game - even the famous redneck words "Watch me!"  Andrew did learn after hitting his head on the other couch end and started more falling than jumping!

Andrew's Blanket

I made Adam a Perry blanket awhile ago.  So I felt Andrew deserved one as well - so he got a Mickey one!
Ray even helped!
The cat never budged the entire time - she was in the middle the entire time!

Andrew under the new blanket....he doesn't really care...he prefers his little black one!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gingerbread Cupcakes

I really liked these - nice and moist, great flavor!  I love gingerbread!

Gingebread Cupcakes
Modified from Taste of Home

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Beat in water and molasses. Combine the flour and spices. Add to creamed mixture. Beat on low speed until combined. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Fill cupcake papers 2/3rds full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

They gave a frosting recipe that I didn't use. If you want frosting, just do a basic cream one. Since I ship most of mine overseas, I just send butter cream canned frosting with them. I liked them plain for what we ate.

Makes a dozen cupcakes (I made a triple batch and got just over 4 dozen, I think....cupcakes are about the only thing I tend to come out ahead on!).

Salisbury Meatballs

These are another installment from our big community freezing day.  These were very good meatballs and Ray actually really liked them.  I figured he wouldn't (cream/mushroom sauce), but he actually really really liked them. 

Salisbury Meatballs
Modified from Fix, Freeze, Feast

1 tray (about 6 lbs) ground beef (we mixed in some ground turkey as well)
3 cups bread crumbs
2/3 cup milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 lbs fresh white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup flour
8 cups water
4 cups half and half
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp beef bouillon granules (1 cube is 1 tsp, so this is 6 and I just smash them)
1 1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 500.

Using hands, combine the meatball ingredients. Shape into meatballs and place on baking pans (grease or parchment paper or the like). Bake for 15 minutes. Cool meatballs (they have a temp, we didn't check as we know we are recooking).

While meatballs are cooking, melt butter into large pot. Add mushrooms and cook, until soft. Stir in flour. Mixture will be lumpy. Cook, for 2 minutes, stirring. Gradually add water and half and half. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes (we had to boil it). Whisk to make a smooth sauce. Add Worcestershire sauce, bouillon and pepper. Stir and cool.

Divide meatballs and sauce between freezer bags. We also stored some sauce/meatballs separately as the meatballs are good for general use.

Seal and freeze.

Makes about 120 meatballs, they did 6 entrees of 20 - we did smaller, like a dozen per bag.

Cook an Entree
Completely thaw one entree in fridge. You can prepare on stove or oven (I did oven). On stove, bring to a simmer and heat until fully warmed. Do not boil. In oven, preheat to 350. Put in baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Serve with rice or noodles (We did noodles).

Friday, September 21, 2012

Steps to Nowhere

So things like this fascinate me.  These steps go into an empty grassy area...obviously there was something here once. But what?  So this is next to an apartment building complex - was there another apartment? Or was this the original house on this lot?  Or this area was all part of the fairgrounds (that's what our deed says), maybe this was a fair building.  I'd love to know! 

I took a historical geography class in grad school and it was so much fun - ah, the things that amuse me!

Playground Fun

Having fun in the playground!
Herding my brother for Mom!

Andrew is quite the slider!

These where really good, I was very pleased!

Modified from Cupcake Heaven
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tsp lemon extract (they used vanilla, this is what I plan to use next time as I think the cakes need more lemon in them - remember I sent everything unfrosted so base taste matters)
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp grated lemon zest (I used the zest of one lemon)
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice (this was about 2 lemons for me...I usually have lemon juice on hand, so if I only made one batch, I'd use the one I zested plus some extra...I actually had two this time as I made a double batch and only frosted a few as most were frozen for overseas)
2 tbsp poppy seeds
Preheat to 350. Place cupcake wrappers in muffin pans.
Combine butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs in large bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in lemon extract, poppy seeds and lemon zest until combined. Spoon batter into cups and bake for 20 minutes. Remove pans from the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on rack.
To make drizzle, mix lemon juice and powdered sugar until it resembles heavy cream. Stir in poppy seeds and drizzle (I actually just dipped).  I only did about a dozen as I froze the rest.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen. (I made a double batch and got 4 dozen).

Andrew's Mower

Andrew on his mower - Andrew loves this thing and has for about a year now!  It is always amusing what toys keep their attention for a long time!

Low Rider Adam

Adam - quite "in style!" He's just so skinny!

Hat Progress

I'm working off these new hat from Ravelrey - the checker pattern is doen and now I'm just knitting. not sure how it will turn out, but I think it will at least fit someone if not Andrew, who it was meant for!

Gingerbread Boys

So Adam saw this gingerbread boy recipe in a Sesame Street cookbook and has been obsessed with it.  He really wanted to make them.  So we did....well, I have to say I'm not impressed.  First, you have to boil the sugar/molasses, not in a 4 year old's ability. Then you have to chill for a couple of hours - patience is not a strong suit!  Next, roll it out - seems like a good job for the was so hard to do I could barely do it!  Then you have to cut out - seems like a good job?  But again so hard to do, I could barely do it as the dough is so tough! 

Now you are supposed to make frosting...I just used the tube stuff.  But again hard for Adam. 
So I put some out and had him use a knife....but he got tired of it quickly, which I knew he would.  If I'd made the frosting, it still would have been hard.
While I don't think they taste any good, the kids will eat them!

So Adam was happy, Andrew got cookies, which made him happy, but honestly, I'm not impressed with Sesame Street.

First Mittens

This is my mitten pattern from Ravelry.  They are done, but I'm going to felt these so they hopefully fix Adam. 

Backyard Fun

Adam asked to eat in the backyard - no problem from me!

How much can I shove in my mouth? It is bread, so I'll try as much as I can so Daddy doesn't "steal" it!