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. ;-)

It's the little things...

I get in these creative moods and this is what I have come up with around the house.  The flower pot is in our family room.  It is still empty.  I am waiting on some starts of my philadendrom plant to root and I will have another pot.  The door needed painting so I did that and thought it needed something fun.  For me, it's the little things.  It's just my way of putting a smile on the face of those who stop by to see us or after a long day at work knowing you are home and can just relax.  A couple years ago, I painted on our front porch steps- "There's no place like home."  I enjoy seeing people drive by, reading it and then seeing the smile on their face.  
Embrace the little things in life.  They make a big difference.

Feeling crafty today.

I am not one to play in the dirt or for gardening.  It's just not my thing.  I do not like bugs or dirt.  Go figure.  We bought our house loving all the flowerbeds that were here and established.  I didn't think about all the work it would take to keep them looking nice.  Oh my, it is quite the task.  So, after spending a day doing yardwork I decided that my fence hangers need some new pots.  The previous ones were smashed when a tree decided to fall through our new fence and break all of them. Again.  I thought that since Dave had all of these craft paints from his early days of painting that I would make use of them.  I wanted something fun to look at in my yard.  Above is what I came up with.  They looked really cute hanging on my fence until the heat killed the flowers and yes, my lack of watering.  I always seem to forget to water them. Oops.  They looked pretty for a few months.  Guess, I should replace the flowers now!

La Pina Loca - The crazy pineapple!

Ricky Martin's song "Livin' la Vida Loca" was the first thing to pop into my mind when my cousin and I were trying to come up with a name for this cupcake. 

This is a pineapple cupcake with lemon buttercream.  My mother had asked me to make a dessert for her to take to a girls' night dinner party.  I knew my mom likes pineapple upside down cake and thought about doing  something tropical with pineapple.  She gave me a pineapple cake mix to use and instead of using water I substituted pineapple juice.  Wow, I had not had a pineapple cupcake and this was wonderful! The pineapple flavor was amazing.  I thought with the sweetness of the pineapple that it needed something a little tart to cut it.  My sister in law gave me some real lemon extract for Christmas to use.  I love the smell and flavor of it.  Just like a fresh cut lemon!  Top it with a little shredded coconut, a lemon wedge and a tiny umbrella and bingo! 
A little bit of the tropics here in the Midwest!  Enjoy ladies!

Deviled Eggs - "Thanks Easter Bunny! Bawk! Bawk!"

These were the devil to make!  Really, they weren't too hard to make.  I was asked to make deviled eggs for Easter this year.  My first thought was, "okay, how?". I have never make these before so Dave and I scoured the internet for an easy recipe and directions on how to boil eggs.  We found both and these turned out great! At least, that's what my family told me and my official taste tester, Dave.

I do not eat deviled eggs.  Never have and never will.  I really don't like eggs except every once in a while I will eat scrambled eggs and they have to be dry and starting to brown .  I know, weird. 

These looked prettier once I had sprinkled the paprika on them.  I didn't have any so I had to wait to put it on at my mom's house.     

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
(Yes, I realize I am late!) ;-)

When I was young I had always wished I had more Irish heritage than I thought especially when it came to St. Patty's Day.  In grade school everyone wore green for fear of being pinched and it seemed everyone was Irish.  I knew there was a tiny bit of my heritage that was Irish but not much.  I was wrong.  I found out that I have more Irish heritage that I thought.  I have for the past 8+ years been researching my families genealogy.  It is been an amazing puzzle.  There is so much information out there and I have learned more about my family than I had ever known.  I have even located family that my parents didn't know existed!  It is a very time consuming hobby but one that I truly enjoy.  I sometimes wish that I had taken an interest in it when my grandparents were still with us.  They would have been a treasure of knowledge!  If you have ever thought about trying to find out where your family's roots begin - do it!  It is an exciting hobby!

Okay, back to the cupcakes...I was inspired to make these by a friend of mine who is constantly making them and raving about how good they are.  They are Irish Stout Cupcakes or Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.  They are made with Guiness Beer in the batter and the icing was Bailey's Irish Creme and Bushmill's Irish Whiskey.  My first thought when making these was the batter was going to taste like dirty socks and an ash tray of cigarettes.  Those two things are what I imagine when drinking Guiness beer.  Can you tell I am not a fan of this beer!  Well, they didn't.  They were actually pretty good and the icing was strong.  Yep, I put in more liquor than the recipe called for because it didn't seem to have a strong taste.  Let it sit overnight and the flavor really comes through!  Definitely one to make next year!

Strawberry Malibu Cupcakes - Where's the blender??

In a previous post I declared my love for Captain Morgan so I thought it only fitting that I also shared my love for Malibu.  Like I said I am not a huge drinker and I had a few years previous tried a Pina Coloda while vacationing in Destin, FL. Good stuff!

Feeling a bit adventurous I thought. "let's try strawberry pina coloda cupcakes".  In theory it sounded good but these just didn't have the flavor I was looking for.  I made from scratch the strawberry cupcake with frozen berries.  Not enough strawberry flavor came through and the icing was a bit too sweet for the cupcake.  I think the next time I will make a coconut based cupcake and the icing will have fresh strawberries mixed in along with the Malibu Rum.

The picture looks inviting though! ;-)  If it weren't 7:15 am, I would be asking where's the blender and the pool?  Enjoy the sun today!

Happy Birthday to you...

I have really fallen behind on my blogging as this one is about four months late.  Eeks!  My mom's birthday was in March!

I made this Boston Creme Pie Cake for her dessert.  Nothing super fancy but it was rather tasty.   I made the butterflies out of dark chocolate and orange colored white chocolate.  It is a butter yellow cake with homemade chocolate icing and custard is layered between the yellow cake.

My mom is a great woman.  She always made us feel special growing up with a special cake on our birthdays.  Even though we have grown up and moved out she will still make us a special birthday treat.  So, saying that, I make her one every year on her birthday so that she knows her day is special to us too!  Love you lots, Mom!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Good times with the Captain!

Summer HAS arrived!

Rum Buttered Pecan Cupcakes. Yum, is all I have to say.  For those who know me I am not a huge drinker but I do have a few favorites.  Captain Morgan is my favorite pirate!  So, what better than to incorporate it into the cupcakes.

These are butter pecan cupcakes with rum infused buttercream icing.  Delicious!

So, as I said above I am not a huge drinker but if I am to drink something with rum it must be Captain Morgan's.  I think back to summer evenings over at Dennis' house where the gang (Anne, Tricia, Eric, Jason, Dennis, Paco, and some of the exchange students that Dennis' family hosted each year) would experiment with summer fruits and what sort of daiquiris we could whip up.  Captain Morgan was what we used and thus so began my love affair with this liquor.  We made strawberry, peach, banana, kiwi, watermelon, and maybe pineapple.  It was a long time ago! :-)  Jason and Dennis made some pretty tasty drinks.  There were lots of fun memories made during those summer evenings.  Lots of laughing too!  I think the reason why I insist on Captain Morgan is that I remember those summer evenings and memories made with good friends.  Here's to you!