Friday, January 31, 2014

my little girls

Registering Avery for kindergarten last week made her age seem more real.  Is she really turning five in three months?!  I want to treasure this time with my girls at home.  She's only doing half day next year so we can all ease into this transition.  For now, I feel like just about the luckiest person on earth.  Spending mornings and afternoons with just these two girls is about as good as it gets.  We paint nails, read books, play dress up and be silly all the time.  Zara came to me in her diaper with her swimsuit and yellow necklace and that's how this day got started.  I'm ok with that.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

week 3/52 and 4/52 cakes

Chocolate cake with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
This cake is just as delicious as it looks.  My favorite part is the homemade whipped cream.  This cake also keeps well because we were still eating it two days later and it was just as delicious!

Chocolate cake
2 oz. semi sweet choc. chips
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
6 Tbs. melted butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare cake pans.  Recipe makes two layers, so double for four.
2. Combine chocolate, boiling water and cocoa powder until chocolate is melted.  Set aside.
3. In another bowl combine dry ingredients.  Set aside.
4. In a large bowl mix butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy.  Slowly add buttermilk and chocolate mixture.  Add flour mixture.
5. Divide into two pans and bake 12-15 minutes.
6. Cool completely before frosting.

Whipped Vanilla Cream
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Whip cream until soft peaks form.
2.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla until you get a fluffy whipped cream consistency.

Chocolate Buttercream
8 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tbs. milk

1. Mix butter, cocoa powder and powdered sugar adding milk 1 Tbs. at a time until you get your desired consistency.

Now layer your cake with whipped cream between each layer and chocolate frosting on top.  If you want, add some berries between each layer and to garnish the top.

Healthier Carrot Cake
This cake was a result of Andrew being concerned about the pounds he might gain on my weekly cakes.  "Light" cakes can be just as enjoyable as full-fat ones and this was a good choice.  I missed the pecans though.  I would have added them to the recipe but I was all out so I garnished with sliced almonds instead.

Healthier Carrot Cake
3 cups grated carrots
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cinnamon
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup honey
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350, and prepare two pans.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
3. In another bowl beat eggs and add honey.  Beat on high and then add oil, vanilla and applesauce.
4. Slowly add flour mix to egg mix until blended.  Add carrots and raisins.
5.  Divide into two pans and bake 28-32 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

Monday, January 20, 2014


 Taking a picture of me with her compass while I take a picture of her with my camera.
Croquet crutches and a little backyard archery (a Christmas present).
 Elliot decided he wanted to make and sell rubber band bracelets (they're really cool right now) so I helped him make a sign and he set up a table and chairs out front all by himself and started shouting "bracelets for sale!".  I couldn't get him inside for dinner, he was so determined.  At the end of the day he said disappointed "I thought everyone would line up".  In the end he made $6 off our neighbor and that made him happy.  He makes me so proud!
 Zara doing what she does best.
Sleepy eyes.  She still sucks her fingers when she's tired :)
For the new year I moved around some of the furniture in the girls' room and living room.  You know, a fresh start.  I would love to buy that new rug for the living room and a new couch, etc . . . but this year we're going to England and that is more important!

Monday, January 13, 2014

week 1/52 and 2/52 cakes

So I'm off to a good start with the weekly cake baking so far.  It all started with the cake platter Andrew gave me for Christmas.  I hope it's the start of a great collection.  We hosted a little birthday celebration for Nora and since all the ladies in my family love carrot cake it seemed to be the best choice.  I doubled a Better Homes and Garden's recipe and changed a couple things.  It did not disappoint.

Carrot Cake
4 eggs room temperature
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups shredded carrot
3/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
1 cream cheese frosting recipe

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 8x1 1/2 inch round pans and line the bottom with wax paper.
2. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
3. In a smaller bowl eggs, carrot, oil, pecans and raisins.  Add to flour mixture and pour evenly into pans.
4. bake 35-40 minutes, cool on racks.  Frost and add extra pecans on top.

This chocolate cake was a last minute, feeding the elders, type cake.  Delicious and fast.  One of the things that I like about this recipe is that it doesn't call for any special ingredients like buttermilk or sour cream.

Busy-day Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3 Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 cup cold water

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
2. Add vegetable oil, vanilla extract, white vinegar and water.
3.  Pour into 8 inch pan and bake 35-40 minutes.  Cool completely, then frost.

I made up the frosting on the spot so I can't give measurements but if you watch the video she shares her frosting recipe.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

December snapshots

We did it!  We made it through another great year and I wonder what is in store for us in 2014.  I have two main goals for this year - to make a cake every week, and to be more reverent.  What about you?