Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen - Jesus' Birthday Cake

My girls have been asking for some time about decorating their own cake. We always make a birthday cake for Jesus, so I thought it would be the perfect time. We frosted our cake with chocolate buttercream (because I was dying to make a chocolate buttercream) and we tinted some white frosting red and green. I just let them loose with the frosting and a bunch of know where this is going, right? Sprinkle overload! WooHoo! They sure enjoyed themselves :)

These were easy for the little hands to work with....I thought pastry bags might be a little too hard.

Go over to A Little Fun With Me and Lu to check out more Kids in the Kitchen posts!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

FNCCC Postponed....Blog vacation

I am taking an impromptu vacation this week. My kids and husband are off of school and I am playing along. I'm sorry for those of you who are all set for George Duran's post this week but I'm going to push it back until January 6th (hopefully you all are as behind as I am and in need of a rest)....which means I need to push all of the weeks back so the list of chefs/dates right now is wrong (did you even know there was a list?). I will fix them sometime this week. Until then, have a wonderful week and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Twenty-Ten...who would have thought it would come so quickly??

GlassesUSA Review

A few weeks ago Little Bit got hold of my glasses and bent the frames into figure eights (my fault, they were unguarded and within climbing distance). The very next day GlassesUSA asked me to review their eyeglasses. What a blessing!
I picked out frames (this part took the longest, as there are lots of cute styles to choose from), sent in my prescription, and the glasses were at my door in a week. You can't beat that!

It has been about 7 years since I bought prescription glasses and I was sceptical that the glasses would not be the right fit, prescription, or look good on me. I was wrong. They are perfect and I didn't have to brave the eyeglass store with impatient kids, sales people that want to sell me every upgrade, or make several trips to try on and pick up.

GlassesUSA has a wide variety of eyeglass frames . I know it's hard to choose. I looked at the measurements of my current glasses and tried to get something similar in height and width. The GlassesUSA site has all of this information (and explanations of the information, including where to find it on your glasses) so it's easy to use. I chose the Politix and they are so great. Listen to their description..."The semi-rimless frame with cushioned nose pads give a barely there appearance- but they give way to chic arms decked out in rhinestones! While black in color, the arms have a "red" secret on the inside. Be sassy while you get the job done!" I'm sassy. I'm sassy. Yeah, I'm sassy! :)

GlassesUSA is a company helping others. All of their returned eyeglasses are not restocked as they are with most optical stores. GlassesUSA donates all of their returned eyeglasses to various organizations around the US who then sanitize and redistribute the eyeglasses with the correct prescription to people all over the world who can’t afford vision care!

If you are in the market for prescription glasses, here is a deal for you. The folks at GlassesUSA are giving you a discount. The code is: Mommy5 and it’s good for 5% off your final order! The code never expires!
This post was written after receiving the product free of charge. It is the only form of "payment" that was received for writing this post and all views and opinions are mine alone.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kid in the Kitchen - Gingerbread Houses!

I picked up Halloween Gingerbread house kits after Halloween for .99! I saved the black and orange decor for next year, whipped up some royal icing and used leftover (hidden) Halloween candy. I'm hoping to pick up some clearanced houses after Christmas as well. What a fun and cheap project! They are VERY sturdy. The girls gave them to our neighbors on each side of us.

Go over to A Little Fun With Me and Lu to check out more Kids in the Kitchen posts!

FNCCC Assignment #17 - George Duran

I know it's right during the holiday's and all but, I figure, you are still cooking, so we are carrying on with the challenge. Next week's chef is George Duran. I have ever heard of him and the first recipe I see from him is Deep-Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - should be interesting! "George Duran, host of Ham on the Street, is a chef and entertainer." No kidding.

There's nothing like relaxing during the holidays, kicked back with a plate full of fried cookie dough (Maybe you could leave some out for Santa. Or on second thought, he might need a nap directly after consuming them so we better hold off.).....will you, gulp, cook with me? We will be posting about his recipes on Wednesday, December 30. Can't wait to see what you are brave enough to choose!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

FNCCC #16 - Emeril Lagasse

I just love Emeril. I love watching him cook with his BAM and all. It makes me feel like I can cook anything and everything I cook from him turns out wonderfully. We have two of his restaurants here in the Orlando area but haven't yet been to either. I've heard nothing but good things.
Bayou Chicken Pasta has been around our house for years now. It's very tasty and so easy. Probably my favorite from him right now.
I also tried the Pizzazy Pizza Sandwiches and Waffle Iron Reuben Sandwich. It's been a big Emeril week.
All three were good enough to be in the house rotation but the bread in the Pizza Sandwiches was too crunchy for me so would need to put more sauce on it (although the girls loved it as it was and my oldest daughter even gave me a fist bump for it, she liked it that much :)) and using the waffle iron for the Reuben is just novelty....I might just stick to the old fashioned frying pan. The Russian dressing recipe that he uses on these was really good. My husband, who doesn't like Reuben's, liked these.
I could cook something of his every night of the week. Especially since some of his recipes are as simple as peanut butter banana sandwiches - although, does this really require a recipe? Did I mention I just love him? So without picture this week I will share the pasta recipe. There are links above to the other two recipes. I give all three a thumbs up. I would love to try one of his fancier dishes (there are many) but with the kids I have, I will have to wait a few years.

Bayou Chicken PastaRecipe
courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2006
1 pound linguine
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons Essence
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped habanero pepper (I don't use this because the wee ones can't take it)1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
1/2 cup chopped green onion tops
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

DirectionsSet a large 1-gallon stock pot of water to a boil and add the kosher salt. Place the linguine in the pot and stir until the water returns to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender, but with a bit of resistance (al dente), about 12 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Set a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. Once the butter has melted, season the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the Essence and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and add the chicken to the pan. Sear the chicken until well browned on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions and habaneros to the pan and saute until the onions are softened and lightly caramelized, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the cream, remaining 1 tablespoon of Essence, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and the chicken to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce until the cream is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, linguine and the reserved cooking water to the pan and cook, tossing to incorporate for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add the green onions, Parmesan and parsley and toss to blend. Serve immediately.

So what did you cook this week?? Post your link to MckLinky below. Enjoy your Christmas....or whatever you may celebrate!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Cake and Treats

I've been busy this past week. Such fun :) What holiday baking have you been doing?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

FNCCC Assignment #16 - Emeril Lagasse

I'm pretty sure Emeril is no longer on Food Network (anyone know?) but that doesn't stop us from choosing from one of his 5,776 recipes! This may be a bad search, but I didn't have time to look through all 482 pages of recipes (no kidding). I wouldn't be surprised though. He is my favorite Food Network chef to watch. I want to cook everything he is making because he makes it look SO GOOD!

If you have never heard of Emeril it may be time to get out a little more often. He has restaurants, cookware, food products (his essence is SO wonderful), cookbooks.....and his signature, bam(!), is known by many.
Here is his website. Here is the search I did for his recipes on FN. Take your pick. Dare I say, you are guaranteed to find something you like? We will post his recipes on Wednesday, December 23. Can't wait to see what you are cooking!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

FNCCC - Week 15 - Ellie Krieger

This week's featured chef is Ellie Krieger. She hosts the show, Healthy Appetite and had a number of recipes (mostly healthy!) to choose from. I had several bookmarked but decided on the Breakfast Cookies because I had just gone through my pantry and had to make something with carrot baby food. Perfect~!
I usually add a pinch more of this and a little less of that, but I followed this recipe pretty much exactly and they turned out wonderfully. So yummy. The girls were thrilled to have cookies for breakfast!

Breakfast Cookies
2007 Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved
Makes 12 cookies
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (only had plain whole wheat)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup canola oil (used melted coconut oil)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup (1 small jar) strained carrot baby food
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup bran cereal flakes (Total flakes)
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted in a dry skillet for 2 minutes, until fragrant and chopped (omitted)

Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Combine butter, oil and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, scraping down sides if necessary, until sugars have dissolved and mixture is light in color, about 1 minute. Add egg, carrot puree and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add oats, flakes, raisins and walnuts and mix over low speed just until incorporated. Dough will be slightly sticky and less cohesive than traditional cookie dough. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using between 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter, form a ball and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining batter, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Wet hands and use palm of hand to flatten cookies until about 1/4-inch thick. Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are fragrant but still soft. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
So what did you cook? Link your post to MckLinky below. Next week is Emeril....I bet you can find something of his you would love to make (or are making something of his already).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kid Friendly Snowmen

Around Halloween time A Little Fun With Me and Lu posted about some fun ghosts that they made with soda bottles. We copied the basic idea but with snowmen (painting the inside of a bottle and decorating it). Put a big glob of paint inside the bottle, cap it tightly, and let the kids shake it, roll it, hit each other with it, to coat the inside. It's great fun and apparently you win a title if you are the first one done. I used construction paper and a toilet paper roll to make the hats while the girls did the rest. You could do Santas, penguins, reindeer....just think of the possibilities! Save a couple of soda or juice bottles and you have some cheap, creative fun on your hands :) Head over to Confessions of a non-domestic Housewife for some more great Kid Friendly Friday ideas. She is going to host Kid Friendly Friday for awhile! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Angela :)
Also head over to Amy's blog, Keeping Up With the Schultz Family, for her Round Robin Carnival.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

FNCCC assignment #15 Ellie Krieger

This week our featured chef is Ellie Krieger, who has hundreds of recipes posted on Food Network's web site. I have never seen her show but from her bio I get that it would fit into my style of cooking.
"A New York Times best-selling author, Ellie Krieger is a renowned registered dietitian specializing in nutrition and health communications. As the host of Food Network's Healthy Appetite, Ellie demonstrates that cooking healthy food can be quick, easy and delicious even when life becomes busy and stressful. She also shares unique strategies for eating well in challenging situations such as the office, restaurants, and vacation while explaining the confusing nutritional and diet information currently on the market."

We will be posting recipes from Ellie on Wednesday, December 16. I bet you can even find a Christmas cookie recipe if you are getting overwhelmed with everything on your plate during the holiday season. I can't wait to see what you are cooking!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FNCCC Week #14 Duff Goldman

This week's featured chef is Duff Goldman, star of the show The Ace of Cakes. He owns Charm City Cakes which produces the most amazing cakes. They have a very talented staff! An Ace of Cakes books just hit the stores as well (which I browsed through during a Fancy Nancy party at Borders).

I started cake decorating a few years ago while making cakes for my daughters. I never thought I'd make them for others but now make cakes for friends and family. I haven't taken classes but learn everything about cake decorating from YouTube. With each cake I learn something new. I even started a cake decorating blog, Sarah Bakes. I am a big fan of marshmallow fondant and make my figures out of it (sometimes with added gum paste if I want them to harden). Yesterday I posted my favorite crusting buttercream recipe. What a fun hobby it is becoming!

Here is the race car cake and cupcakes I made for a party this weekend:

So what have you been decorating?? Link your post to MckLinky below. Next week's chef is Ellie Krieger.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tempt My Tummy - Crusting Buttercream

I haven't been decorating cakes long but learned quickly that regular buttercream does not hold up well in Florida's heat and humidity (it's December and it's in the 80's). The crusting buttercream is important if you are decorating the cake and want it to look smooth, something you can really do with ooey-gooey frosting. I have tried numerous recipes but this one holds up well but more importantly, tastes good. I can't stand the frosting that leaves a greasy film on the roof of your mouth. This doesn't. And yes, I know, it's anything but healthy but it's CAKE. It's a treat. Everything in moderation and you'll be fine :)

Best Crusting Buttercream
1 1/3 cups Cricso
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk, depending on consistency needed
3 Tbsp powdered Dream Whip (one package)
3 Tbsp clear vanilla (if you need WHITE frosting) or other flavors
2 lbs powdered sugar

Mix all but the powdered sugar for a minute or two, then gradually add the sugar. The longer the mixer runs, the smoother it gets. Mine usually goes for about 8 minutes. A stand mixer with the paddle attachment is your best bet for this.

Enjoy! Go find more Tempt My Tummy recipes at Blessed With Grace!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kid Friendly Friday is Taking a Break

Hello Everyone! By the end of the week it seems I have no time to blog. My Kid Friendly Friday post always gets left until the last minute and I'm scrabbling to do it. I am going to take a little break from it.
It has been wonderful using all of your ideas with my kids. I will miss that but will just have to visit your blog to see what you have been up to. Hopefully you have been getting as many good ideas as I have.
If anyone else wants to host it, let me know! Thanks for understanding :) Have a wonderful weekend~

Thursday, December 3, 2009

FNCCC Assignment #14 - Duff Goldman

So who hasn't heard of The Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman? If you raised your hand you are missing out on the most amazing cakes! Duff has an extensive chef's background but came into cake decorating on accident. He is the star of Food Network's show Ace of Cakes and owns Charm City Cakes (seriously, if you haven't heard of him before, click on the Charm City Cakes link and prepare to be amazed). Surprisingly, Duff has a handful of non-cake recipes (a very small handful) which you can certainly choose. OR bake a cake (or cupcakes) and decorate like you have never decorated before :) Tis the season. Will you take the challenge?

Post your decorated cake on Wednesday, December 9. Of course you may post a cake that you have done in the past. Or post two. Can't wait to see what you have been decorating!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FNCCC - Week 13 - Dave Lieberman

This week's featured chef is Dave Lieberman. I changed my mind about which recipe I was making about 18,000 times. There were so many to choose from. I started out making the Cranberry, Apple, Ginger Chutney which morphed into something entirely different. Same thing with the Hearty Chicken Stew. I think the only thing I used were the main ingredients and the recipe's title. So we did a "kids in the kitchen" with his Creamy Banana Pops....and only changed it a little bit.

Peeling the mushy bananas. Not a job for the squeamish.

Creamy Banana Pops
Recipe courtesy Dave Lieberman

2 medium bananas, very ripe (we used 3)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk (used a little bit more cream and 2% milk, and some leftover whole milk plain yogurt)
1/3 cup superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar)
Special equipment: 5-ounce paper cups
Wooden ice cream sticks

In a large bowl, mash the bananas very well with a potato masher or a sturdy whisk until almost lump free. You should have about 1 cup mashed. Whisk in remaining ingredients until fully incorporated. (I put everything in the blender and blended until the sugar was dissolved - 4 minutes, just to be sure)

Protecting the blender. Can you spot the button pushing villain?

Pour mixture evenly into paper cups, and freeze 1 hour so the pop is firm but not frozen through. Remove from freezer and insert a wooden stick in the center of each pop. Return pops to freezer and freeze until solid, about 2 to 3 hours. To serve, peel paper cups away and eat immediately. (In stead of all of this we put the mixture in the ice cream machine and had a very tasty banana soft serve. Everybody loved it. I like it after it's been in the freezer awhile and it's harder.)

Bad picture. Good Eats.

If this is any indication if we will make it again.....everyone wanted seconds :)

So what have you been cooking?? Link your posts to MckLinky below.