Thursday, July 1, 2010

Experi-mint-al Cheesecake

I made a yummy cake for Natalia's birthday. I covered it with a mint cream cheese frosting. The only trouble was that the recipe made an abundant amount of frosting. I was left with a very sweet minty cream cheese and not a lot of ideas of what to do with it. That is until I got my next sweets craving. I am a cheesecake girl. The more I thought about the cream cheese in the refrigerator, the more I wondered if I could turn it into a cheesecake. I couldn't come up with any other ideas so it was just going to go to waste. I decided that an egg was worth the sacrifice if the cheesecake didn't turn out.

I whisked in an egg. I had some mint dark chocolate that I broke up and mixed into my "batter". I filled my 4in springform pan. We have no cookies or graham crackers on hand, so I opted to not have a crust. I cooked the cheesecake at 350 for 15 min and then lowered it to 225 for 50 min. It is presently cooling on my counter and looks beautiful. I can't wait to try it. (Yes, that's a fingerprint in the middle, because I just couldn't resist)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cream Cheese, Mint, Chocolate....Yumm!

My beautiful 3 year old will be 4 tomorrow. However, how many kids would come to a birthday party on Father's Day? Yeah, I didn't think anyone would, either. We had a little get together for her today with a butterfly theme. Our tradition is for the birthday girl (the little man isn't big enough yet) to help make and decorate her cake. Isabella has made castle cakes for the last two years. Natalia wanted a castle cake, but only because of all of the candies we use to make it. Thoroughly bored with castle cakes, I convinced her to do something else with candy. Mark suggested a chocolate mint cake. I think he was joking, but it sounded kind of good to me. I'm often trying to make something look spectacular and this was a chance to make something super tasty.
I had made cream cheese mints for my bible study group several weeks ago. It was my inspiration for her cake. Mint frosting on a chocolate cake would be good, but mint cream cheese frosting...I'm resisting the urge to go get some more. I almost immediately stumbled upon a promising recipe at Epicurious. I didn't want to bake a sheet cake though. My vision had been a round cake with soft green icing and candy butterflies. I really didn't want a square/rectangle cake. So I opted for my grandmother's chocolate scratch cake and added 1 tsp of peppermint extract. It smelled so wonderful baking. I then used Epicurious' recipe for the frosting along with a few drops of "neon" blue and green food coloring. The result was a luscious minty cream cheese frosting.
Spreading on the cake was another story. Not fun. The frosting was too soft and runny, even now, hours after resting in the refrigerator, it is still very soft. Oh well, how pretty can a cake decorated by a 3 almost 4 year old be anyway? I had cut up pieces of black licorice for the body and used Jordan almonds for the top wings and Dutch mints for the bottom wings. Outside of the saggy frosting, it was just what I had pictured in my head. Purple being her favorite color, the butterflies were predominately purple. A pink butterfly for sister and some white ones for balance.
Mark made a homemade chocolate ice cream that tasted like a frozen hot chocolate (or at least what I would imagine a hot chocolate, that had been frozen, to taste like) It was the perfect balance to all that mintiness. Such a sweet daddy. Happy birthday beautiful! It's been wonderful watching you grow these last 4 years. I wish I could stop the clock and hang on to my precious little girl. I suppose the only thing holding me back is the desire to see what amazing things you will do with your life.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Castle Cake, Take 2

No, I didn't make two castle cakes. Well, not in the same year. I asked Isabella what she wanted for her cake and she was adamant, "I want a castle cake". I tried and tried to convince her to do something else. Last year, we did a castle cake and this year we did a castle cake. Guess what! She wants to do a castle cake for next year. But, I have a plan. I don't think it's so much the castle, as it is all the candies that we decorate with. I'm going to come up with something else that can have just as much adornment. Otherwise, I think it will be time for a two-tiered castle...

I've started a tradition with my girls purely by accident. Both girls love to cook and I knew it would be more special if they got to help. You see, I'm what my cousin Beth would call a kitchen hog. Even more special, is the chance to cook with mom and not have to share with siblings. So, last year Isabella got to help decorate her own cake with no sibling interference. She was thrilled to get another go at it this year.

We baked the cake together Thursday after school. It cooled and was stored until we had time to decorate it. Friday was her birthday and it came and went faster than I imagined. Once the kids were in bed, I endeavored to make marshmallow fondant. I had been to a kid party and was served a wonderfully moist cake with a delicious fondant. I have always like the way fondant looks but the taste always left something to be desired. Which is why I was so excited to try this recipe. All the pretty tidiness of fondant and it tastes good! The process went smoothly, although I think I will try to incorporate less sugar next time. I dirty iced the cake and covered it with a thin layer of fondant so that it would be ready for Isabella the next morning.

So right after breakfast today, we got to sit down and decorate. Up went the cookie fortress walls, sugar cone turrets, wafer cookie draw bridge and sour strip flags. Perfectionist me took over 3/4 of the way, but I improved over last year. The cake looked great and is almost half gone, so it must not be too terrible, right? Pictures to come.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Have A Purple Elephant For You

This is a common phrase in our house. Why? Because I was trying to teach my girls how to keep a secret. I knew that it's almost impossible for little kids to keep secrets. I also knew that trying to keep something to yourself is like trying not to scratch an itch. So I decided that the best solution was to give them a phrase that was super silly. I figured the ensuing laughter might help them get past the temptation to reveal the secret, whatever it may be. Guess what - it worked. Well most of the time. Isabella is great at it. Natalia, not so much, but she is getting better.

Of course, it only works so long as you want to keep a secret. Isabella seems to have gotten my impatience in this regard. I can remember trying to bribe my mom to have Christmas early just so I could give my presents to everyone. I would even try to convince my best friend in high school that we needed to exchange presents early because we would be too busy with family. I have even been known to declare birthday weeks, so that I can spread out the gift giving (Mark hates this, I don't know why).

Today, Isabella came home from school and wanted to give me the Mother's day gift she had constructed at school. I tried to convince her to wait. I told her I would be sad if I didn't have a present to open ON Mother's day, to which she erupted in tears. She desperately wanted me to open her gift immediately. Finally, she said that she wanted me to open it whenever I wanted to, today. Funny girl, I can totally sympathize. Mark stepped in and negotiations began. He finally convinced her to wait and they would give me the gift from the family instead.

I am now the proud owner of a new camera. Not the professional one I have dreamed of, but a good stand by until we can afford one with all the bells and whistles. The best thing is that I will be able to take decent pictures of Isabella's birthday and her party. Thank you to my wonderful family!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All Girly-fied

Well, I don't know what to say. This being Cinco de Mayo, I got the urge to be festive. This entailed a brightly colored top, white peasant skirt and one of my favorite necklaces worn as a belt. My cute flower sandals exposed too much to the cold weather and would echo loudly at school, so they were passed over for some brown clunky shoes. I didn't have much time to get ready this morning (being a good girl, I had spent most of my time exercising), so I decided to let my natural waves alone. I stepped out of the bathroom and was greeted by a very funny look from Mark. "What", I asked. Of course, I received the standard "nothing". Well, that look very well meant something and I wasn't about to go all day wondering if something was wrong. He explained that I rarely wear a skirt and, although he likes me in a skirt, he just wasn't used to it. He made me stand back and he took another look. Uncomfortable with the scrutiny, I donned a slip just to make sure everything was covered. On my way out, Tobias kept stroking my leg and saying, "dress" quite proudly. Even the girls were fascinated with my wardrobe.

Feeling thoroughly self-conscious, I made my way to the car and quickly realized why it has been so long since I wore a skirt. It was COLD! I made it to school uneventfully.

Although, now that I think about it, there was a rather funny thing. Yesterday, one of the traffic signs along my way had been tagged. Where it used to say 35 mph, it then said 85 mph along with the artist's tag. I was rather amused at the time, because who doesn't want to drive faster every once in a while. Well, it had already been replaced today with a fresh new 35 mph sign.

Back to school. I walked down the hall and felt even more self conscious. If my family reacted so uniformly, what could I expect from my co-workers. I might add that I have never once worn a dress or skirt since my start date at the beginning of November, with the exception of the Christmas party where everyone was dressed up. I made it to the classroom with no comment. In fact no one took more notice of me than usual. That is until I took my coat off. I stood up to escort the kid to recess and all the girls' heads swiveled quickly my way. Oh, no. I quickly put my finger to my mouth to quiet them before they started. Flood of questions diverted, they made it to recess. Upon their return to class, each of the girls at the front of the line reached out to touch my belted necklace. A little stunned, no one has felt entitled to that action since my last pregnant belly, I was quite relieved when the boys didn't follow suit. Class ensued as normal. Then it happened. As I was leaving for the day, my co-worker did it. "I meant to tell you that you look beautiful today.", she said. The nicest thing anyone had said to me all day! I guess it was worth all the scrutiny. Thanks Aimee, you rock!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I was amazed to see that I haven't written in almost a year. I call it Facebookitis. A perfectly good day can be waylaid by roaming the pages and profiles of those I call dear and others that I barely even know. I have become an observer of other's blogs. Enjoying the insights, recipes and tidbits that they share. I love catching up on what is happening with my family through their blogs.

Well, I have decided to kick my Facebookitis in the rear end. No more neglecting housework because I have to level up on some dumb game that is repeated with different themes (although, I will still play Family feud). No more will I passively read through others blogs without leaving comment. No more hanging out at my computer.

Today, before even getting on facebook, Natalia and I made the hard boiled egg cookies that I had been planning on making. One of my favorite sites is Cookiemadness. Almost everyday she has a new recipe or tidbit to share. Natalia had a blast. She got to put all of the ingredients in the food processor. She got to process the whole dough. She even got to form the gigantic balls. It was so much fun, the results were definitely yummy and it used up some of the Easter eggs. This is one recipe I won't lose.