Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy 1/2 birthday, Ethan!

It's Monday.  It's been about 2 weeks since I've posted anything and honestly, i don't care.  I used to worry about how often I posted, trying to get in a schedule, and lucky for you I just had to take a few days and sit back and enjoy not blogging.  I was actually quite busy throwing an appreciation dessert, pampered chef parties, and organizing a MOPS scavenger hunt. . . and hanging out with sweet, adorable boys.  

So, I am back, fighting the urge to take a nap. . . this body is tired (i went on a cool, morning run and walked my kids to the library today).  I am really quite hot and I probably smell from being outside. . . it's hot here.   Anyways, I thought I would share this absolutely delicious cake . . seriously, it was delicious~  

Back in March (it seems like ages ago, right?), we celebrated Ethan's half birthday (which means in about a month I need to start planning his actual birthday party).  I made a half cake, which was totally fun to do and used Pinterest as my inspiration.  One of Ethan's favorite candies right now are Reeces Peanut Butter Cups, can you blame him?  So, I went looking for a yummy chocolate cake recipe and then a Peanut Butter filling.  Wowzers, delicious!

Doesn't that look amazing? It truly was.  We all loved it and ate it all.  I'm not even sure if we shared with anyone. . . if I did, you may want to comment. . . it was 2 months ago. . . eek. . . I've been so bad about blogging . . . not going to feel guilty. . . not going to feel guilty.  okay. . . . recipe time and then maybe Wednesday I will be back with something cool.  Until then, I am going to go and cut out beautiful fabric.
For the cake, I went with Martha's Busy-Day Chocolate Cake.  It is actually a recipe from Lucinda Scala Quinn's cookbook, Mad Hungry and was featured in Everyday Food, back in 2009 (if you don't read that magazine, I highly recommend it.  I've been subscribing to it for a few months and haven't been disappointed yet! ).   

Busy Day Chocolate Cake
slightly adapted from here

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse salt
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  I mixed my ingredients together in a bowl.  Dry ingredients first and then my wet ingredients and whisked them all together until well combined.  I then greased my 8 inch round pan and poured my batter into it.  It baked for about 35 minutes. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and then turn upside down to get get cake out.  Finish cooling on your favorite cooling rack.  I cut my round into half and then each half I sliced into two thin pieces, to make a 4 layer half cake.  If you want the recipe directions for making it in the actual recipe for making it in the pan, go here. . . it's less clean up and quite tasty!  

Peanut Butter Filling

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of your favorite mixer (my choice mixer is my Kitchen Aid) fitted with your paddle attatchement.  Mix on med-low speed until it has a nice, creamy texture.  Don't forget to scrape the sides of the bowl as you do this, you don't want to miss out on any unused peanut butter!  .  Add the cream and mix on high until light and smooth.  

Frost with your favorite Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. . . I am really not sure which recipe I used. . . some day I will find it. 

Isn't he the cutest 3 1/2 year old ever????  I love this kid!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

time for some snail mail

I think I have a major case of spring fever.  I really want to be outside weeding the garden, but instead I am sitting here watching the rain fall (which I love) and am relaxing. I have been on spring clean mode and it is so nice to have a nearly clean house (tomorrow will wrap it up!).  YAY!

There seems to be a trend in the blog world about getting creative about snail mail.  I love snail mail. . . who doesn't?  I mean, something else than junk mail and bills would be nice, right?  So, Ethan and I decided to try it out and send his cousin in Wyoming a bounce ball.  I will admit that I was kind of hoping a that the workers at the Post Office would seem a little suprised that we were mailing a ball the size of a beach ball, but nope.  They just smiled and enjoyed every minute of it.  I even let Ethan help do the mailing.  It was a really fun experience!  We will definitely be sending the cousin some more things in the future!

If you are interested in mailing things like this for the fun of it, check out this site for more fun ideas!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Easter week - day 1

I can't find our family Resurrection Eggs anywhere.  I've looked.  I guess they decided to take this year off and go on vacation.  I hope they bring me back a souvenir (I'm not getting my hopes up).  In the meantime, I am coming up with daily activities that focus on a theme of Easter, relating to Christ.  I am going to try to post each day's activity each night. . . forgive me if i forget (or run out of time).

I love books and it's a tradition in our family for the kids to get an Easter story book in their Easter basket.  Today's story, will be in Ethan's Easter basket.  I brought out this book for a sneak peak, because I wanted us to be able to enjoy this story as we bring the Lilly back to Christ.  Liz Curtis Higgs does a wonderful job with this story (she also writes a pumpkin parable, too!).  She even has verses at the bottom of every page bringing each part of the story back to our relationship with Christ.  

After we read the story, I traced Ethan's hands (I only needed 3) and we talked about how that was the craft tonight. We also talked about how tomorrow morning it might turn in to something beautiful and full of meaning.  (You can get the directions for hand print lillies here). 

They are waiting on the kitchen table for him in the morning.  

What traditions do you have for sharing Jesus' death and resurrection with your children?

Brownie truffle cups

I survived my weekend of insanity.  Well, maybe it wasn't insanity, but it was certainly busy!  I had two pampered chef shows that were so much fun thrown in with several other things.  All I can say, is that we are living life over here.  So, in honor of my two pampered chef parties last week, here's a fun recipe that was delicious, as well as super easy!  

This recipe takes a simple brownie recipe and adds a yummy ganache.  All you need is a mini muffin pan  and this tool. . . it's one of my favorites!

Brownie Truffle Cups
Source: Pampered Chef

1 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup flour
3/4 cup whipping cream 
desired garnishes (I used whipped cream and maraschino cherries, but you could use orange zest, toasted almonds, etc.  The possibilities are endless!)

Preheat oven to 325.  Place 2/3 cup of chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for about 40-60 seconds, or until smooth, stirring every 20 seconds.  Add sugar and egg to batter bowl; mix until blended.  Add flour; mix until flour is incorporated.  Using two teaspoons, divide batter evenly among cups fulling them about 2/3 full.  Using my  favorite tool, gently tap batter to to create level tops.  Bake for about 10 minutes.  

While that is cooking, pour cream into microwave safe bowl and add remaining chocolate chips.  Microwave from 1 to 2 minutes, or until hot.  Stir chocolate chips and cream until chocolate chips are completely melted mixture begins to thicken.  Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  
Put ganache into zip lock bag or pastry bag.  Cut tip off the end and fill cups full.  Garnish as desired.  



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