Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and a Birthday Cake

While I was home last weekend, I whipped a quick boxed cake mix for Mom's birthday.  She wanted Dad to use his cake decorating kit she got him for Christmas for the first time.  He actually didn't end up doing the decorating since he was outside finishing up the new brake pads I needed on my car.  Instead, Josh and I filled in.

First, whip the butter for a few minutes. It will get light and fluffy.
Next, sift your powdered into the butter and mix slowly.
Add in your vanilla and a little milk and whip it all up to incorporate.  Dad took a bite and I was surprised he said it was too sugary!! What?!?!

The artist perfectionist in him would like to tell everyone I decorated this cake, but it was all his handiwork. I just told him what to draw and helped fill the frosting bags.  We did have to decorate on the fly, though, because Kaydin was doing her best work to keep her Grammy out of the house while we finished.  I think it's cute, though!

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Savory Sweet Life
  • 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
  • 3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream (I used milk)
  1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract,  and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
**The original recipe called for unsalted butter and 1/4 teaspoon butter. Instead, I used salted butter and omitted the salt.
**I 1 1/2 this recipe.  My final measurements were 3 sticks of butter and 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Weekend 2012

The last week in May has already passed! Now on to June, I guess!
We started off our long weekend with a sleepover for Kaydin and date night for Tim and I.  We visited Trostel's Dish, a place I hadn't been before. It's a unique restaurant that offers small bites from many different areas of the world.  We ordered the Arancini and the Margherita cracker crust pizza. 

Both really good. I will gladly go back there again to try more of the many choices on the menu.  We planned on a movie but just didn't feel like sitting through the late show until after midnight.  We are getting soooo old!! :)

The next morning I picked Kaydin up bright and early  from her sleepover to get her to her hair appointment.  She had only had one haircut in her life and that was in February 2010. It was time to get those dry ends off and braid it up before she is in the chlorine pool all summer.
I love getting her hair braided! It is so cute and gives me a break from detangling for a couple weeks!

We ran a few errands the rest of the morning and helped Tim with some yard work in the high heat! The 90 degree weather on Saturday made it seem like it was the middle of July, not Memorial Weekend!  We finished up Saturday with a BBQ with some friends.

Sunday morning, Tim made Kaydin and I a great breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, sausage patties, and eggs with sausage and cheese.  See? the boy can cook! And i think he actually enjoys it!

After breakfast, Kaydin and I packed up and headed back to Mom and Dad's house for the rest of the weekend. Mom, Kaydin, and I did one final sweep of the ditches around their house to find some late asparagus.  We were successful! I found a new direction to go and hit the jackpot of asparagus patches for the coming years!

Kaydin got a kite from her school for the preschool graduation.  She conned her Uncle Joshie into getting it rigged up for her. It was pretty windy on Saturday but she did a good job-- for awhile.  The wind gusted and her kite got away from her.
And this is where it ended up! Way up high in a tree.
She thought she could get it no problem. She just needed a boost from Joshie. That little monkey wrapped her legs around a branch and she just hung there.  She wanted to keep going even higher, she just knew she could get her kite out the tree! We persuaded her to come down, though, and pawned the job off to Papa when he got home from work.  He got off easy, though, because when they went out to get the kite down, the wind had done the hard work and it was already on the ground.
Later that evening after we grilled some food, we headed back outside to do some weeding in the garden.  Lots of things growing this year. Onions, garlic, scallions, Brussel sprouts, romaine lettuce, peppers, carrots, many volunteer tomatoes, dill, and cilantro.
The next morning we got to work on replacing my brake pads. I think it's time to replace them when you can hear metal grinding when you push the brakes.  Good thing Josh and Dad are handy with cars. It's saved me piles and piles of money over the years.
While we did the hard work, Mom and Kaydin did some digging in the sandbox out by her playhouse.

Next up was lunch, then cake and ice cream for the birthday girl! Only 28 years young this year, so she says. But Kaydin is the only one that believes that. 

I finished up folding my laundry- yep, I still bring my laundry back home sometimes. I'm pretty independent but that's one thing where I just haven't broken the cord. :)

One final stop by the cemetery to visit Grandma and Grandpa Lyon and Gary's grave site and we were on the way back to Des Moines.  So many flowers laid out this year, so pretty and full!

How did everyone spend their Memorial Weekend?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday to....

my Mamma! One more year passes with lots of great memories!
August 2011- Iowa State Fair during Tim's powerlifting competition.
December 2010- Launa's wedding reception
May 2011- Memorial Day weekend
June 2011- Kaydin's first dance recital
August 2009- Disneyland, meeting Minnie at her house.

Vroom! Labor Day weekend 2011. She is gonna kill me for this one but I just had to add it ;)
Summer 2011
August 2009- Disneyland

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I didn't leave Josh out the the post on purpose. I just couldn't find any pics of him and Mom together! We will fix that soon :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Homemade Harvest Baskets

I came across a picture of the below harvest basket online one day. Not at all sure how I even found it, though. I copy and pasted it into an email and sent the picture off to mom with the subject being "i want one. for real. tell josh."

I was so excited to find one on the deck for me the next time I came to Mom and Dad's house! Josh made one up quickly out of pieces of metal and old barn wood we had around the shop.  An exact replica of the picture I saw!!

I also had him made another smaller size when I was there.    One that would be more manageable to carry. He whipped it up in no time! If you don't have a home garden to havest fresh fruits and vegetables from, you could also use it as a planter in your flower garden or on the patio.  Lots of ways to dress it up and make your yard the much more original. 

He's taking orders (for a small fee, of course)! Let me know if you'd like one! The top one pictured is about 2 foot long and the bottom one about 1 foot.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Apple Carrot Pancakes

These pancakes are another recipe idea I came up with to use up my pulp leftover from juicing.  I just hate to see it go to waste so there's always a solution to make it into something useful.
Just ask Tim about my obsession with not wasting anything.  I make sure him and Kaydin get the last drop out of the ketchup bottle, I pull cardboard out of the garbage bin that made it's way in there via Tim and move it to our recycling bin, and I always try to cut open my lotion bottles to get every last bit! The more I get out of what I currently have just puts off spending money on it next time! It's only natural that I would come with another idea for my juicing pulp than just pouring into the garbage can.

I thank my Dad for instilling this philosophy in me. We were always reminder to turn the light off when we left the room, not stand there with the fridge hanging open, etc. Back then it was a pain and I didn't quite understand it. But now, why waste money lighting a room that no one is even in?!?!  ;)
My recipe made more than enough pancakes for even two meals. I just stored the excess in a freezable plastic container and when we needed a quick breakfast, used the toaster to heat up some homemade, healthy pancakes!
I changed the recipe I used quite a bit but I used it as reference to know some measurements to use for a base. I also had to double the recipe as I had quite a bit of pulp from that morning's juicing. And don't worry that you may not have a juicer to achieve the pulp. Just simply use a food processor or cheese grater to shred your apples and carrots.

Apple Carrot Pancakes (Makes 7-8 pancakes)
Adapted from Modern Vintage Cooking
1 medium apple, shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons oats**
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and cook pancakes on a griddle or in a skillet on the stovetop.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mini strawberry and blackberry pies

A few Sunday mornings ago all three of us were piled in bed watching the Food Network. This may seem out of the ordinary for Tim, but Giada was on.  When she is on the TV he actually watches! He even records some of her episodes-- for the food, of course! ;) On this particular episode she was making mini strawberry pies. By the end, all three of us were craving those little fruit bundles. 
I knew in the back of my mind I had all of those ingredients (with a few adaptations) on hand and planned to surprise Tim and do a Giada recreation at home! Her recipe called for orange zest and honey. I instead used a little sugar and lemon zest. We also had a carton of blackberries in the fridge so I added those to the strawberries, too!
First, you need to chop up your strawberries and blackberries. In a small bowl, mix up your sugar, zest, and lemon juice.  Drop in your fruit and give it good stir so all the berries are covered. Throw that in the refrigerator to marinate while you are preparing your mini crusts.
I don't have any biscuit cutters in the house but the lids of my little jars I dressed up with chalkboard paint worked perfectly! I used the bigger lid for the bottom of the crusts and the smaller one for the top.

Kaydin wanted in on the action. Love kid friendly recipes.
Once all your crusts are filled with the fruit mixture, use a pastry brush to line the edge with the beaten egg and lay on the top crust. Pinch the sides to seal and wash the top with the egg wash, also. Make a small slit with a knife in each of the pies so steam can escape while baking.
I obviously forgot the step when you seal the crusts with the tines of a fork, and my little pies were not sealed as tightly as they should have been. Oh well, they still tasted great!

Mini Strawberry and Blackberry Pies
Adapted from Giada deLaurentiis

  • 1 refrigerated 9-inch pie crust
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 8-10 medium strawberries, hulled and cut into small pieces
  • 8-10 blackberries, cut in half
  • 1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
For the crust: Unroll the pie crust and using round cookie cutters, cut out 12 (3-inch) circles and 12 (2-inch) circles of dough. Lightly press the 3-inch circles of dough into the bottom and sides of the prepared muffin cups.
For the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, lemon juice, , and zest until mixes. Stir in the strawberries and blackberries.
Spoon the filling into the muffin cups and using a pastry brush, lightly brush the edges of the dough with beaten egg. Put the 2-inch circles of dough on top. Using the tines of a fork, press the edges of the dough together to seal. Lightly brush the tops of the pastry with the beaten egg. Using the tip of a knife, make a 1/4-inch wide slit in the center of each pie. Bake until the crust is golden, about 14 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes.