Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Eeks, worms!

Once again another Halloween has come and gone.  We had a good time again this year.  Dave and I spent the earlier part of the day dining at a country church.  We try to go every year to their chicken dinner.  It is sooo good!  We stuffed ourselves so when it came time to head to my  mother's for the annual Halloween get together it was hard to eat anything.  There was a lot of good food!  We had mini rye pizza, potato soup, chili, chicken salad, lime sherbert (?) punch, cake pops, and dirt cake.  I was in charge of dessert; big surprise, right! :-)  The last couple of years I have made cupcakes so this year I decided to make Dirt Cake with gummy worms.  Dessert was a hit and fit right in with our Crazy Halloween Get Together Tradition!  Can't wait to do it again next year!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall is in the Air!

Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  I love everything about it.  Cool, crisp air.  Color changing trees.  Falling leaves. Pumpkins and squash. Church dinners with friends and family.  Fall festivals.  Sweaters. The anticipation of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The list could go on and on.

In anticipation of Halloween I made some cake pops.  These were a yellow cake that I dyed orange in honor of Halloween.  We are celebrating at my mom's with food and trick or treating.  We all bring something and share and have lots of chatting.  We trick or treat with my niece and her friend.  Afterwards, we rummage through the candy that they don't like and eat too much sugar!  Good times!

The pumpkin cupcakes with orange flavored buttercream were made per the request of my friend's middle son, Matthew.  He told me next time I came to visit that I should make pumpkin cupcakes.  On that visit, Matthew and Henry, Anne's oldest, made pizza and salad with me for dinner.  They loved the cupcakes!  So did their dog as Matthew's fell out his hand! Ha!  He swallowed the entire cupcake before we could grab it!  

Keep an eye on the blog because there will be more fall treats coming! :-)

Going bananas!

My family loves banana bread.  We have always used my mom's recipe.  But...I found one in a cookbook and have doctored it up a bit and they love it.  I receive numerous requests for the recipe and to make it.  My freezer was beginning to overflow with frozen bananas so, it was time to make some banana bread.  I made four batches and ended up with about twenty mini loaves.  I wrapped  each loaf in waxed paper and foil. They are perfect for a snack or gift giving.  My mom loves to use them for birthday and thank you gifts.  She lets me store them at her house in the deep freezer in exchange that she can give some as gifts.  It's a pretty good deal!  She really likes when I frost them with the banana icing.  Although, this time I made them all plain so that the recipient can sprinkle a little powdered sugar on them before serving.  I love seeing my family and others smile when they receive a little gift of "love".

Cr-ow-tons (aka Croutons)

My husband and I had a pretty happening Friday night recently as we made homemade croutons.  Exciting, huh!?  Really, we did have a good time!  Dave and I are going to be making our Christmas gifts this year so we were practicing.  We made four different types of croutons.

My brother, Jim, had given me a container full of his secret lemon pepper blend to use as a gift.  We blended this along with garlic and onion.  We mixed it together with olive oil on multigrain bread.  The second was a basic onion, garlic, pepper mixed with a few tablespoons of unsalted butter and olive oil on whole wheat bread.  Third, we mixed Penzey's Tuscan Sunset blend and parmesan cheese with olive oil on multigrain bread.  Lastly, we used Penzey's Creamy Peppercorn Dressing mix with olive oil on multigrain bread.  We  toasted each pan on about 250 degrees for about 45 minutes.

These turned out very tasty!  We are going to be able to enjoy them throughout the winter as they freeze well!

Cupcakes to go!

Recently, I was asked to make five dozen mini cupcakes.  I had to find mini cupcake carriers and it wasn't too hard.  There are several cake supply stores in town and it took a few phone calls to find some but, I did.  Yay for me!!  I love mini cupcakes because they are so darn cute!  It was requested that I make yellow butter cake with an orange flavored buttercream and dark chocolate cake with a mocha buttercream.  Coincidentally, these cute little cupcakes looked pretty Halloween-y too!  Here's a picture of the cupcakes all packaged and ready to go!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It is the little things!

So, I had to share...Dave thinks he is being funny and snapping silly photos of me from time to time.  I love to get the mail providing there are no bills in it!  This particular day I happen to receive a Cooking Light magazine and I mentioned that it had my favorite food featured on the front cover so, here's the photo showing me and my excitement.  Ha! ;-)

Thank you for looking!

Recently, I was invited to showcase my little "hobby" of sorts to my alma mater.  It was a new idea that they were trying out this year at the annual "Alumni Weekend".  This showcase of sorts was an opportunity to show other alums what we do and see what they do.  They are a lot of talented graduates and business owners!  I hope that they are able to continue this and really see some growth from it in the coming years.

On the road again...

Here it was two weeks after the big Chicago trip and Dave and I were heading to Arkansas.  A friend of ours was going to be married and she had asked for my help coordinating the reception on the big day.  It was a beautiful autumn day for a wedding.  The reception hall sat on top of the highest point overlooking Beaver Lake, I believe.  Fabulous views!  So, back to the reception...Stephanie had created this great look for the hall.  She had come up with the idea of what she wanted for decorations and basically, needed help putting it all together.  My youngest sister in law, Erica, was her Matron of Honor and close friend.  Erica and I drove about forty minutes to the hall from my mother in law's home to lend a helping hand. I was impressed with all the work we did and that we were able to do it all in about four hours.  I really enjoyed spending some time with these two girls and the bride's mother.  Weddings are joyous occasions!
 The  flowers were Zinnias, Sunflowers, and Carnations.  We made all of the centerpieces and miscellaneous floral arrangements.  There were approximately 30 tables that had the centerpieces.  We had close to 175 candles to light the following day!  She also had two fireplace mantles full of candles as well as, the centerpieces.  It was beautiful!

Congratulations to Stephanie and B.A.!  May your lives be filled with love and laughter!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicago! We have arrived!

This weekend was spent in Chicago preparing for Jo Beth and Robert's wedding.  Jo Beth is my husband's sister.  It was a busy and fun time!  Dave and I arrived on Friday afternoon in Chicago around 1:30pm.  We unpacked and checked out the house we were staying in with  Dave's whole family.  We, all ten of us, were all going to be under one roof!  The house was amazing!  Four bedrooms, four bathrooms, living/dining area, and this huge kitchen.  The kitchen was great!  SubZero refrigerator, Wolf stove with two ovens, granite counters, big cabinets.  A dream kitchen.  The huge kitchen was really beneficial for me to prepare the flowers and for JB and I to prepare desserts in.  Jo Beth and Robert had this whole old Hollywood feel to their wedding.  She, my mother in law, and I had several errands to run and people to see in regards to the wedding.  On Saturday, I was up bright to start working on the flowers.  First, I took some time to sit out on the front steps with a mug of hot chocolate to enjoy the crisp cool air and watching the neighborhood wake up.  I had 15 centerpieces, 3 bouquets, and 10 boutonnieres and corsages.  I also had over 100 mini cupcakes to ice and decorate.  Jo Beth and I also made the Tiramisu for the wedding dessert late Saturday night after the rehearsal dinner! Which we also prepared! Everything was really good and the cupcakes were a big hit!  Jo Beth and Robert had done a great job planning the wedding and their vision but she also needed someone to coordinate their vision on Sunday.  I was glad to help do just that!   Alot of people don't always realize how much work it can be but I love it!  I needed to make sure everyone had their flowers, desserts were set and prepped, centerpieces and arrangements were set correctly, answer questions to where people and things were, and get the wedding party ready to walk down the aisle all the while feeding and holding my six month old niece. :-)  The day went by so fast but I think it all went pretty smooth and without incident.  It was a lot of work but all in all it was a lot of fun!

Congratulations to the newlyweds, Jo Beth and Robert, and may you have a beautiful and loving life together!

The flowers consisted of:
1.  Bridal Bouquet:  Red Calla lilies and ivory feathers wrapped with silver ribbon
2. Bridesmaid Bouquets: White Vendela roses, white freesia, seeded eucalyptus, tree fern wrapped with silver ribbon
3. Corsages: White Vendela rose, white freesia, seeded eucalyptus with a red ribbon
4. Groom Boutonniere: two Red Calla lilies, crimson red tuft of feathers
5. Groomsman Boutonnieres:  White Freesia, seeded eucalyptus, and crimson red tuft of feathers
6. Boutonnieres: Tree fern, White Vendela rose
7.  Centerpieces: 6-Crimson red feather picks, Tree fern / 7-Seeded eucalyptus, tree fern, White Lisianthus,  red Calla lily, bear grass
8. Memorial Bouquet: Seeded eucalyptus, Tree fern, Bear grass, White Vendela roses

The cupcakes were:
1. Dark Chocolate cake with Mocha Buttercream topped with a single coffee bean
2. Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream topped with silver dragees

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Girl's Night out!

Last Saturday was Girl's Night at my mom's.  There was a group of ten of us.  We all bring a dish and we eat together, visit, and play games.  Once again, I was in charge of bringing a dessert.  I wanted something fun and new to try.  I looked through the pantry and decided upon a smores type cupcake.  I made a dark chocolate cake and topped it with a light Mocha buttercream, marshmallows, a dark chocolate drizzle and sprinkled with cinnamon graham crumbs.  It was really tasty!  I am calling this creation "Fancy Camping".  Definitely, one to make again!

It's the Maple Family Reunion time again!

A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with my mom.  We drove up to Hannibal,  MO for the Maple Family Reunion.  It happens once a year.  Everyone comes from all around and brings a food dish to share.   This year I brought a Butter Pecan bundt cake.  It was drizzled with a Vanilla Butter Icing and decorated with orange and dark chocolate Maple leaves that I made.  We all bring pictures, eat and and reminisce.  Plus, it gives my mom the chance to visit with her father's family.  I don't know too many of them but I do recognize faces.  These faces hold the memories and faces of my ancestors.

I have been researching my genealogy for the last nine years.  It is a big undertaking but I truly enjoy it.  It is like this big puzzle that I am working on.  The great thing is when you find that one piece that falls into place and it can open up a new wealth of information.  I have appreciated all of the help that other members of my family and those who are some how connected to mine have provided.  In all of my research and findings there is this connection.  A connection to who you are and how those before you were shaped.  I can't necessarily put it into words.  I am thankful for all of those who came before me.

Flowers for my Jenny

Is what my little sweetpea told me when she came by to hang out one day.  
She is the sweetest little girl.  Ever!  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

My dad's birthday was a couple weeks ago.  We were not able to celebrate on his actual birthday this year.  Dad has moved to a new home out of the city. While on his visit this past week, we had dinner at our house to celebrate.  I planned a dinner of a chicken dish, brown rice, fresh green beans, cornbread with honey butter, and orange jello salad.  Dave and I wanted a relaxing evening for my dad.  Dad had tonsil/throat/neck (lymph node) cancer surgery about six weeks ago and has to return in about a week to have a second surgery to remove some more marginal tissue in his throat/tonsil area to make sure all of the cancer is gone.  He has been a real trooper through all of this and is looking forward to being done with all of it.  So, I really wanted him to be able to just enjoy an evening with his family.  I wanted to make him a birthday cake that was fun!  I opted to make a yellow butter cake with homemade chocolate icing.  Dad likes his sweets but not too sweet.  I wanted to make him smile so, I went with butter cream clowns and festive sprinkles. He was impressed with the cake!  I got that smile and we all had a great evening!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Chocolate cupcake candies

I have been thinking about trying to dabble in making chocolate candies.  My mom and aunt used to make candies when I was a kid.  It looked like it was easy...yea, not really.  But, I have to try.  I thought that little cupcake candies would be fun.  I love chocolate and cupcakes so, why not?!  This is truly not the best looking photo and attempt but I hope the next time I dabble they will look better! Keep your fingers crossed!

We have cupcake approval!

I was going to visit my friend and her three boys a few weeks ago. They had been requesting I make some cupcakes.  I decided that after my conversation with Henry, her oldest, that strawberry icing would be the way to go.  Henry and I were talking the week before about fruits and vegetables that he liked.  He informed me that strawberries were one of his favorites.  I blended frozen organic strawberries with a bit of lemon extract and made a strawberry lemon icing.  Rather tasty and Henry gave the okay! I also decided to use a bit of the leftover over mocha buttercream from my sister in  law's birthday cupcakes on the remaining.  I then sprinkled some toffee bits on top.  Anne, my friend, gave the approval on these as well as Matthew, her middle son.  He almost at the whole cupcake in one bite!  Glad they were given the seal of approval! :-)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You say it's your birthday!

More mocha please!

Kari's, my sister in law, birthday was yesterday.  We celebrated her big day at the Lake over the weekend with family and friends. But, I had already planned on making her a special birthday treat.I had found these big polka dot sprinkles at the cake supply store and immediately thought of her.  I bought them along with bright purple, yellow and turquoise wrappers.  I made dark chocolate cupcakes with a mocha buttercream.  I remembered these being a big hit with them from when I made them for my brother's birthday.  As another birthday treat, I cut some black eyed susan daisies and lavender from my garden.  Flowers always seem to make everything a little more special to me.  When she called to thank me for the cupcakes and flowers she told me that the flowers were one of her favorites!  I did not know that at the time but I am happy they made her birthday just a little more special.  Happy Birthday Kari!

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's time for a Trifle!

I finally got a Trifle Dish!!   I am so excited!

I have been wanting one of these for a while now.  My mother in law gave this to me for my birthday.  It came with a lid and the pedestal is not attached so you can put the dish in the refrigerator easier.  Thank you, JoEllen!

I could not wait to try this dish out.  Dave and I made dinner and took it to our friend's house to share with Carrie and Jeff.  We had a great evening of conversation and food.

It was soo hot out that I wanted a cool dessert to eat.  I decided that with what I had on hand to make a quick little trifle.  I made brownies and cubed/crumbled them with fat free and sugar free chocolate fudge pudding and fat free whipped topping.  Layered it up and we had a trifle! For as simple as it was, we all loved it!  There was a small little bowl left which Dave and I promptly had for a snack later that evening.  I am excited to try something else in my fun new trifle dish!  Who knows what I'll make next...

Simply Delicious!

I love cupcakes! 
They are the perfect size and just plain cute!

I found this fun wrapper at Michael's and of course, I bought all four designs.  I bought 400 wrappers!  Holy Cow! But, I have really been using them and only have 200 left!  I went to see if they had anymore today and they were out. :-(  So sad.  Guess, I'll try another day.

Okay, so these are yellow butter cupcakes with a Mocha Vanilla Icing.  Simply Delicious, just like the wrapper says! 

I am in love with my Penzey's Double Strength Vanilla.  It is double the potency and you use just what the recipe calls for.  Only mine might be a tad bit stronger than double.  I put another whole vanilla bean pod into mine after scraping out the vanilla beans for another icing. Wow!  I thought the icing was fantastic and my mom told me that this was her new favorite by far! 

I'm going to be a basket case!

This beautiful cake was my final project in my second cake decorating class.  I, honestly, didn't think I would be able to make this when I saw the picture.   But, I have a fantastic teacher and she is very encouraging.  I am looking forward to the next class with her this fall.

I am really enjoying learning how to make all of the fancy cakes you see in the bakeries.  They all look so difficult and yes, some can be but they are truly not so hard. 

I gave this cake to my mother to share with her friends at work.  They all loved it and I even had one lady offer to buy it to use for Mother's Day.  I was flattered!  This was a two layer strawberry cake with buttercream icing and royal icing flowers.  I made those too in class.  Those were pretty fun to create.  I really loved the pansies which you can't see in this photo.  I loved the basket weave design on the side of the cake.  I was sooo nervous about making the basket weave but it was really easy!    Can't wait to make another one!

Anyone for breakfast?

Breakfast Casserole, anyone?

This wonderful casserole was one that I took from my mother.  It is so simple and yummy!

You can change it to suit your tastebuds and it won't alter a thing.  I usually make this and then package up several containers for the freezer.  It is great for those mornings you are crazing a hot breakfast but don't have the time to make one.  Just pop in the microwave for a minute and presto!

This is great for a family gathering, brunch or breakfast for dinner.  One of my favorite dinners!  I am going to share this recipe with you so that you all can taste the yumminess of this dish.  Be adventurous with this dish.  I have not had a bad casserole yet!

1 lb. pork sausage or ham (I like the HOT variety of sausage)
8 eggs
3c. milk
10 slices of bread, cubed (I use whatever I have on hand and sometimes several kinds)
1-1/2 to 2 c. shredded cheese, your choice (I use swiss mainly.)
2 tbsp. melted butter
2 tbsp. dry mustard or 1 tsp regular mustard
1-1/2 tbsp minced dry or fresh onion
1 c. sliced mushrooms, optional (use whatever veggies you like)
1 tsp dried parsley

Place cubed bread into a greased 9x13 baking dish.
Brown and drain sausage or just cube ham.
Beat eggs.
Add cheese, milk, mustard and spices to beaten eggs. Mix together.
Place browned crumbled sausage over bread.
Pour liquid mixture over sausage and bread.
Pour/Sprinkle melted butter over the top of ingredients.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate overnight.
Remove casserole from refrigerator approx. a half hour before baking.
Bake uncovered at 325-350 degrees for 50-60 minutes; until set.
Serves 6-8 people.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Warm Apple Pie

Apple Pie.  What is it about this that we love? 

Dave loves apple pie.  I never really liked it too much but over the years it has grown on me.  I love Dutch Apple Crumb.  All the brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats.  I love the way your house smells when the pie is baking.  Reminds me of  Autumn.  My favorite time of the year.

We usually have good intentions of eating apples when we buy them at the grocery store.  Somehow we never eat them soon enough.  We won't throw them away we make apple crumb!

I usually will just cut up the apples and toss them with some cinnamon and lemon juice.  Put them in a greased dish and top with a couple packets of brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal and some melted butter.  After the apple crumb has baked we serve it in a small dish with some vanilla bean icecream.  Heavenly.

This above pie was made with a can of sugar free apple pie filling and a leftover frozen pie crust I found in the freezer and pantry. (I cheated this time!)  I topped it with a brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal packet as well as, a cranberry oatmeal packet.  Topped with some melted butter and ta - da!  It was pretty good!

Seeing Red

 I have never tried a Red Velvet Cake.  I have often wondered what the hype was all about.  I found this low fat version online and thought it sounded decent so I made it.  I will say I was not overly impressed by it.  The icing was good and the cake not so much.  The icing had yogurt, cream cheese, and cottage cheese in it.  
I am still on the hunt for a good recipe or I will try in a restaurant/bakery sometime.  I have tried the boxed cake mix and it was pretty good. 
Although, I think I will stick to regular chocolate cake! 

Cool, Comfy and Cotton!

Here's the latest styles in Jennydoll Ribbon Ties!  These are one of a kind and in very few quantities!!
These are a great summer item for your little girl.  Cotton and cool!    I have quite a number of styles and different lengths to choose from so please let me know if you'd like to purchase one.  I need to sell my current inventory before I make any more.  I am running out of storage room. ;-)