Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm cheating and totally going to post what I just posted on Facebook. But it's important, and it struck me really hard today that I needed to share this. Maybe one of my readers needed to hear it as much as I did.

I needed to read this today, and I need to try to remember it the next time I feel like life is flying by so fast that I just can't keep up with everyone else. I'm in this race of life as a mom and wife first. That comes before being a friend, a photographer, a piano teacher, a blogger, and everything else I've tried to be successful at. And it's the little moments, spent playing and reading with my kids that I need to work on. Not the elaborate parties, and impeccably decorated house. 

This is a must read, for every mom, dad or anyone who feels like a good read...

And HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! It's the best job I've ever had (and every will) in my life!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Fools!

In an effort to stop my kids from pulling their own pranks we do a prank dinner on Dad. Our family nights are on Monday and we usually have dessert so tonight we decided to only have dessert for dinner!

Mmm, Dad, don't those cupcakes and that frothy juice look delicious? They would be IF that is what they were!
In fact, they are mini- meatloaves with mashed potato frosting. That drink, yeah, just try and drink it. It is actually fully set jello. We did a few green beans we pulled out once the joke was out. My two year old kept eating the 'frosting' and saying, 'yummy frosting mommy!'

For my gluten free meatloaf (we have a gluten free guest in the house)
1 1/2 pds ground beef
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 cup rolled quick oats
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 tsp seasoning salt (we use Lawrys)

Mix together and form in balls. Put each ball in a separate muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes. Take out with a large spoon and let the mini-meatloaf drain on a paper towel for a few minutes. Place each in their own cupcake liner (foil works best - we were out of foil and had to triple up to keep the shape)

For the mashed potatoes -
Okay, I admit it! I used the just add water kind! My kids and I then added 10 drops of blue food coloring to make them look like frosting. Then with a frosting bag we 'decorated' the tops of the meatloaf. The potatoes can be a little hot so let cool or wrap a towel around the bag first.

For the 'fruit punch' -
We got clear plastic cups from the grocery store and made our favorite jello. We blended it to make a frothy top (the girls worried that Dad would guess if we didn't). Put in a straw and let them set up in the fridge. Ta-da, drinks you can't drink!

We initially got the idea from
The link (and her cupcakes look much cuter - my kids were helping A LOT with the decorating) is

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eliora's Broccoli Soup With Dumplings

 This is Eliora. She is 11 but she really acts like one of those goofy, fun, 20 year olds who just has it all put together. She is the oldest of 5 girls and she is a HUGE help to her mom. Tonight she asked if she could cook dinner. She also crochets headbands, writes, babysits, and more productive then most people I know.
She decided to make broccoli soup with dumplings. (My dumpling got mixed in but that is what is on the spoon) She got down all my cookbooks and started flipping through. She liked one of my broccoli soup recipes better but it had chicken. She is not a big meat fan (she declared herself a vegetarian at 4 years old) so she found another broccoli soup recipe and modified the two. Then she found a dumpling recipe and decided to add that so the little girls wouldn't still be hungry later. She showed what she had in mind to me and I took her shopping. I waited by the oranges while she grabbed her broccoli and onions (the only things I didn't have at home). She then decided to grab a bag of frozen seasoned red potato wedges to throw in the oven while cooking. Then she cooked, all by herself. I'm serious, I didn't help her once. I did answer a few questions and explain a few techniques but I never lifted a finger. The soup was gone. It was SOOOOO good.
Yes, she is that awesome. No, it is not my parenting. She was born that way. :)

Eliora's Broccoli Soup with Dumplings (taken from 3 old church recipes)

6 c. fresh broccoli, finely chopped
1 c. onion minced
1/8 tsp garlic powder
4 1/2 c chicken broth
3 bay leaves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
6T butter
1/8 tsp pepper
3 c milk
6T flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 c. medium cheddar cheese shredded

In a large pot combine broccoli, onion, garlic powder, chichen broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. While it is boiling......

Make the Dumplings
2 c milk
1 cube butter
7 eggs
2 c flour
2 tsp salt

Scald milk, add salt and butter. Bring to a boil, add flour, beat until it forms a ball (do while still hot). Begg eggs into mixture one at a time (Eliora used a hand mixer). Set aside for a minute while returning to soup.

Back to Soup!

Remove bay leaves. Drop the Dumpling a large spoonful at a time into the boiling soup. She used only about 3/4 of the dumpling dough because of room. Cover the soup and simmer for 20 minutes. While waiting get out a pot. Add melt butter (from soup ingredients), stir in flour until thick and bubbly. Add milk and whisk until smooth.. Add salt and pepper. Add cheddar cheese. Turn off heat and clean up a little while waiting for timer to go off. (This is also when she got her sisters to set the table). Once the timer beeps remove lid from pot. Check on dumplings. If they taste fantastic then gently scoop them out and onto a plate. Add milk mixture to soup. Stir in well, put dumplings back in and serve!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rainbow Doodle Cake

This month was my favorite 6 soon to 7 year old's birthday. She wasn't really getting a party this year so we wanted a special cake. I spent a bit of time on pinterest and found this!
It was made by a lovely lady with the cutest website ever. Lots of tips on baking! The picture above is hers. (used with permission) You can tell she has a few more skills and a way better camera then I do!!
 Here is our version. It was late at night so the lighting is horrible but it was super cute.  I had never heard of edible markers but seriously, how cool are they?! I really wanted my girl to make cute rainbows and such but she had to draw a Longhorn. She's a bit of a Texas fan. This was my first time working with fondant. It went pretty well except a crack here and there (I left it out too long after rolling it - kids were calling my name) but we cut out some fondant with cookie cutters and let the kids color those to cover the few flaws.
This got a little massacred in the cutting but you get the general idea. The  colors really are that vibrant! The actual cake was good and although my layers ended up larger then hers we just cut thin slices. The cake got eaten over the next two days and not a crumb was spared! I am going to admit to cutting and pasting the recipe. Honestly, it is hers and not mine and if you visit the site she has great tips on Swiss merginue buttercream (it's sad how many buttercreams I could have salvaged if I had read the article first) and on how to fondant.

White Cake (but not really)
2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (466 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (375 g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 g) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring. Liquid will not be vibrant enough!
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have three and I just reused them).
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.
Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (I did it by weight. Weigh your mixing bowl before you begin adding ingredients and then subtract the weight of the bowl from the final measurement after the batter is completed. Divide that number by six and add that weight of batter to each bowl), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each.
When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.
Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream
To fill and crumb coat:
9 egg whites
1 ¾ c (350 g) sugar
4 sticks (454 g) of butter, room temp
2 tsp lemon extract
To frost:
5 egg whites
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 sticks (227 g) butter, room temp
1 tsp lemon extract
Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.
If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.
Stack the layers in your preferred order and fill and frost as you would any other cake.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cheesy Spuds 'N Ham

Enjoy this one, it's a new family favorite. Sorry, still no pics, but it's pretty too.

6 small potatoes, peeled & cubed
3 tbsp. butter
2 c. cooked ham, cubed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
salt & pepper to taste
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. bread crumbs

1. Place potatoes into large pot and cover with salted water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

2. Preheat oven to 350°.

3. Grease a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.

4. Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the ham and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

5. Stir potatoes into ham mixture; transfer to the prepared baking dish.

6. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir flour into melted butter until smooth.

7. Gradually whisk milk into flour mixture; season with salt and black pepper. Continue cooking & stirring until thickened, about 2 minutes.

8. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir cheddar cheese into the white sauce until melted.

9. Pour sauce over ham & potatoes.

10. Sprinkle bread crumbs over casserole.

11. Bake in preheated oven until sauce is bubbly and browned - 25 to 30 minutes.