Monday, March 31, 2014

Ice Cream Cake

While make your own ice cream sundaes are nice for friends, I wanted to have a cake ready for our upcoming family celebration of all the kids' birthdays.  My son has already requested a pumpkin pie, we have the Frozen cupcakes in the freezer, and just needed one more thing.

I have made mini ice cream cakes before, but never a big cake.  Part of the reason was I didn't have a springform pan.  But now I do and it was very easy to put together.

First I started with crushed chocolate wafer cookies and added magic shell.  I placed enough to cover the bottom of the springform pan and pressed the crushed cookies down.  The pan went into the freezer while I waited for the chocolate ice cream to melt.  As it was softening, I decided to mix it together with my standing mixer.  This allowed the melted parts to be incorporated with the ice cream and made it easier to spread.

I spread the first layer onto the crushed cookie and sent it back to the freezer.






The next step was more crushed cookie mixture, more freezer time, and finally the softened vanilla layer.  Again I used the standing mixer to prepare the ice cream.



















We tried a couple stabilized whipped cream methods with no luck.  In the morning I tried one more time with gelatin.  I used cold water and gelatin, then used the microwave to dissolve it further in very small bursts.  It cooled as I whipped the cream.

After adding the gelatin, the whipped cream looked different for me, but tasted ok.  I placed it in the fridge while I took the cake out of the springform ring.  After releasing the ring, I took a spatula warmed in hot water and gently cut around the cake edge.

I could probably use any kind of whipped cream to cover the cake as it freezes almost immediately.  I wanted the use the stabilized whipped cream to pipe on the cake and it seemed to work pretty well.  Once I got going on the frosting, I did return it to the freezer between steps, but generally worked quickly.  I had to let the cake thaw a little in order to press the m&m's into the cake.  I wish I had spaced the m&m's a bit better, I'll know for next time.

I had enough whipped cream frosting to cover the cake with a thin layer and color some purple and decorate.  There's a bit of white saved for any cake mishaps too.

To preserve this cake for a week in the freezer, I needed some sort of box.  The base of my cake holder is too big to fit in my freezer.  What I ended up doing was placing the cake on a 10" cake board.  Then I put two pieces of aluminum foil spread out on a dinner plate.  I placed the cake on the plate, then put the cake holder cover on top.  The cover just fit over the bottom plate edge.  Then I took the excess foil and wrapped it over the cover edges.  Hopefully that will be protected well in the freezer until the party!






Sunday, March 30, 2014

Frozen Cupcakes

When I asked what my younger daughter would like to do for her fourth birthday, she requested chocolate cupcakes.  After some more suggestions we also opted for a couple visits to the children's museum with a friend and her sister.

I used my favorite devil's cake mix and added an egg white, almost a cup of plain Greek yogurt, and a cup of cooled decaf coffee.  I filled up 12 cupcakes and saw I had less than half of the mixture left and filled some mini cupcakes too.  I used paper liners.  This mix really bakes up high and I could have filled the cupcakes much less, perhaps closer to half full.  Though they seem ok this way too.

We have certainly been enjoying the movie Frozen and the soundtrack and decided to go with a nice Frozen blue for the frosting.  I used a cream cheese frosting (8 oz low fat cream cheese, 1 stick butter, 1TB milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 3-4 cups powdered sugar) and added a small amount of sky blue gel.  The frosting didn't hold the swirls as well as I hoped.  The white pearls were a nice find at Wegmans.
These cupcakes we had on her birthday, the rest are in the freezer for our upcoming family party.
Birthday girl with her "4" shirt

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

10 year old birthday party

We decided on another small group party at home for my daughter's 10th birthday party.

On the agenda was to play in a photo booth, eat pizza, make lip balm, watch a movie, and make ice cream sundaes.

First we set up the photo booth.  I used a small part of a room and hung a rope with small pvc tubing over it.  On the tubing we hung crepe paper and paper decorations.  I did end up placing an old navy curtain behind the crepe paper for better coverage.  We had a table of hats, glasses, and boas for dressing up.  My camera was on a tripod and my husband set up a photobooth software on his computer and connected the camera.  The kids could then see each other on the laptop screen and it counted down for a series of four pictures.  They had the option to print right away and see their pictures again.  It was lots of fun!  All the five guests and my two girls could all fit in the frame for group shots too.  Another thing we had was two mini chalk boards for writing messages in the pictures.  They were also used in some shots.
Testing out the photo booth - sisters

The next activity was making lip balm.  I had given the process a lot of thought and wanted to make sure the girls could be active participants.  Finally I found this small glass pots at Hobby Lobby on sale for $1 each and thought they would work perfectly in my fondue pot.  It worked well.  Each girl measured out 1 tsp of coconut oil, 1/2 tsp of shea butter, and 1 tsp of grated beeswax.  I had a 1/2 tsp and 1/4tsp spoons so that they just needed two of each thing.  Some had more heaping teaspoons than others. For a couple girls they didn't have enough and needed to add another one or two more scoops of everything.
We tried labeling the pots with rubber bands, but they popped off in the heat.

After the first three ingredients had melted well, I had unsweetened cocoa, beet root powder, peppermint oil, and flavoring oils (cotton candy, pink lemonade, and cherry).  The girls mixed different things together after pouring the warm liquid into their little tins.  We used 1/8 tsp of the powders and 5 drops of the oils.  Each girl ended up with two small tins of different balms.  We also decorated the lids with Sharpies.
The girls went off to watch their movie and I cleaned up the lip balm area to prepare for ice cream sundaes.  My daughter prefers ice cream to cake and loved the idea of making their own sundaes.  We had done this activity for my son's birthday before and it seems to always be a hit.  I provide small bowls of different requested toppings and of course whipped cream.  While the kids really seemed to overdo their sundaes, I was happy to see they didn't eat it all!
The happy birthday girl

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

We thought we would make up some blueberry muffins and sought out a recipe.  I found one I liked, though I might enjoy tweaking it a little.  On its own, it's pretty good.  Certainly better the second day and very moist. There is no oil, just Greek yogurt, banana, and an egg.

For the flours I used 1.5 cup wheat flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour.  I didn't measure the bananas and used 2 medium bananas and frozen blueberries.

This recipe yielded 24 mini muffins.  I baked them at 325 degrees for 14 minutes.

My first tester said, blah. There is a hint of banana, but not as much as our banana muffins.  The blueberries seemed a bit sour and the muffin itself is not very sweet.  After a day, the muffins taste much sweeter and got much better reviews.  Our playgroup friends liked them too!  

Speckled Strawberry fruit salad

 
We visited Red Robin on my daughter's birthday and some of us had their Freckled Fruit Salad. As I was eating it, I thought I'd like to try to replicate the recipe at home. It seems to have four ingredients. I wasn't sure if they just used strawberries or a sweetened strawberry sauce. I decided to try a sauce and think that is probably what theirs is too. 

I could only find cans of light syrup mandarin oranges, not the fruit sweetened variety. 

First I made up some strawberry sauce or topping. I followed a recipe here, but added just 2 tsp of lemon juice instead of the lemon zest. 

Then I put together the canned fruits, pineapple and mandarin organges. 

Next I chopped the apples into small pieces with the skin on. By mixing the apple pieces with the citrus fruits, the apples wouldn't brown. 

Finally I took the cooled strawberry sauce and using a slotted spoon, added the strawberries and most of the sauce. About 1/2 cup of just sauce remained and I saved it for waffles or maybe ice cream. 

After mixing everything together it resembled the fruit salad and tastes great too. 

Ingredients:
Pineapple tidbits - one 20 oz can in juice, drained
Mandarin oranges - two 15 oz cans in light syrup, drained
Jonagold apples - two large apples chopped
Strawberry sauce (16oz strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cold water, 1 TB corn starch, 2 tsp lemon juice)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Egg Muffins

After seeing eggs being made in muffin tins a few times, I thought I would try them myself.  I'm not a big fan of eggs, but I thought my family might appreciate an easy egg dish.

These are certainly easy and very adaptable.  I loosely followed this recipe.

I ended up with 9 eggs in a big glass measuring cup for easy pouring.  I added pepper and garlic powder to the eggs.

Then I defrosted various veggies.  We had a pepper and onion mixture and also broccoli.

After spraying with Pam, I filled each muffin cup with some veggies and then meat.  This time I added sausage and cheese to the veggies and also made some with only ham and cheese.  I use my kitchen shears over the cups to cut everything into smaller bits.  The first time I made these I used 1 cup of cheese and consensus was that they could use more.  This time I used 2 cups and it felt like a lot, but got very good reviews.



















After everything is in there, I slowly poured in the eggs.  The eggs fill in all the spaces and some needed a little more.














These baked at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  I did use a knife around the edges before flipping them onto a cooling rack.  The clean up is pretty easy too.


After cooling for a minute, they start to deflate.  My husband has eaten them as leftovers warmed in the microwave and they are always good.  




Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mexican Rice Dish


It has been years since I made this recipe.  It yields a lot of food and usually goes over well.  It's pretty easy to put together, though I dirtied three pans and two casserole dishes.  Also, I am realizing the ratios may not be perfect.

Rice and Corn Mixture:
2 cups of brown rice cooked in vegetable broth - I made up 4 servings which yielded a bit more than 2 cups, used it all
1 3/4 cup corn made into creamed corn 
2 TB butter, 2 TB flour 1.5 cups of milk, 2 TB sugar, pepper
Additional 2 cups of frozen corn

Black Bean Mixture:
About a cup of peppers and onion mixture frozen, then diced, Sauteed in olive oil
Add big can of black beans 25oz, 2 cans of diced tomatoes
Small can of jalapeños 
1 TB cumin
1 cup fresh salsa
2 8oz packages of Neufchâtel cream cheese
Mix all together until cheese is melted

Layer bean mixture, rice/corn mixture, shredded cheddar, bean mixture, rice/corn mixture, shredded cheddar.

Filled one 3 quart oval dish and had lots of extra bean mixture, only 3/4 cup rice/corn mixture left. Ended up having one small dish of bean/salsa/cheese mixture for dipping and the larger casserole with rice and corn.

This is great with corn chips or just eaten with a spoon.  The leftovers we had in tacos with ground turkey.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 mins