Tag Archives: baking

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

22 Nov

Done….

Originally posted on November 14, 2011

The recipe I’m sharing today is one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Each year this is what we have for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, and we grill it, which is superb! The kids all watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade while they eat their grilled bread. I also usually make mini loaves of this to give the individual teachers as a gift, as well as two loaves to put in the faculty rooms at the kids’ school and my husband’s school as a thank you to everyone. Last year I think I tripled the recipe, if I remember correctly and had to mix it in a huge stock pot. Not sure what my plan of attack will be this year, but I have already stocked up on my cranberries and my pumpkin!

Enjoy!

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY BREAD

INGREDIENTS

2 cups pumpkin puree (1 can of One Pie Pumpkin = 2 cups)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
4 eggs, large
1/2 cup Canola or Vegetable oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
12 ounce package of fresh or frozen cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan(s). You can either use two large loaf pans or 3 mini loaf pans.

Beat together pumpkin, sugar, water, eggs and oil.

Sift in remaining ingredients except cranberries. Mix just until smooth.

Gently fold in cranberries.

Pour into loaf pan(s) and spread evenly.

Bake in the center of oven for 60 – 70 minutes for large loaves, less time (40-50 minutes) for smaller loaves or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake or bread will be dry.

Cool in pan on a rack for 10 – 15 minutes. Turn bread(s) out onto rack and finish cooling.

Bread may be made in advance, covered and chilled for up to four days.(When I make two loaves for us I often save one to eat and keep one to freeze to eat at a later date.)

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: MaryLou’s Sweet Potato Casserole

20 Nov

This is MaryLou. She makes a kickin’ Sweet Potato Casserole!

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 22, 2011:

Who is MaryLou, you ask? She’s my mother-in-law and she makes the best sweet potato casserole EVER!!  She knows how much I love it, and even if it’s NOT Thanksgiving, she’s often made it when we visit. I am always sure to sit myself next to the Sweet Potato Casserole at the table, whenever she makes it.

Since 450 miles is a LONG way to go for a bite of her casserole, she let me have the recipe in November 2004. I am now sharing it with you. You are very lucky. :)

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups sweet potatoes boiled and mashed

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup margarine

Mix thoroughly and pour into buttered casserole dish.

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

1 cup light brown sugar packed

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans (this is a 6oz. pkg. halved pecans or so my notes say)

1/2 cup margarine melted

Mix with fork and sprinkle on top

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes

“Sit down and enjoy!”

German Apple Cake

18 Nov
German Apple Cake is a recipe I loved, growing up.

German Apple Cake is a recipe I loved, growing up.

ORIGINALLY POSTED OCTOBER 17, 2011

**I decided to re-post this today, November 18, 2013 because I made it this weekend for our friends who came for dinner. Making it reminded me of this post, so I thought I’d run it again for my newer followers who may have missed it.**

Growing up, this was one of my favorite recipes that my mom made. I have one specific memory also, of a time (the ONE time) when my mom was sick and my dad helped us make this recipe for her. I still think of that each time I see the recipe or eat this cake.

As with all of my recipes it’s super easy and of course, super delicious.

What’s your favorite apple recipe for fall?

Ingredients:

3 c. chopped or shredded apples

1 c. oil

2 c. flour

1/2 c. choc. chips (or a few more if you love ‘em as much as I do!)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of salt

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together by hand in large bowl.

Grease and flour bundt pan.

Pour batter into pan.

Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool 1/2 hr. before removing from the pan.

*Photo of chocolate chips from Google Images Editor at Large

Monday Musing: Celebrating the difference a year can make

21 Oct
This cake signified more to me than just a birthday cake.

This cake signified more to me than just a birthday cake.

Caroline is about to be 14.

Her birthday is next weekend, but we celebrated with our family this past weekend.

As I was thinking about her upcoming birthday, planning out my menu and thinking about a birthday cake, I was struck by the difference a year can make.

One year ago, for her 13th birthday, we were in a very different place. She hadn’t been feeling well for months, and she was really quite sick most of the time, but we weren’t sure why.

That birthday was a rough one. She’d been to the hospital just a week or so before. She was seeing so many doctors, having lots of testing and trying to go to school each day even though she was really not herself.

She was such a trooper, and it was an intense time for us as a family; very stressful and scary for a while there.

Just before Christmas last year, it was finally determined that it was the fat in foods that was making her so sick, each and every day.

We went to town, immediately revamping our menus from top to bottom, changing our diets to make as much of what we ate low fat or non fat, as much as possible; working hard to make her well again, and it worked. It took many months, literally, for her to begin to feel well more times than she didn’t, and it’s been many weeks since she’s felt sick now that we’ve got our eating habits down pat.

One year later, here we were again, ready to celebrate another one of her birthdays.

As I Googled “Low Fat Nutella Cakes” trying to find a fun, but low fat birthday cake for her celebration, it hit me how far she’s come and how well she is, and how healthy she looks, compared to last year.

I found a great recipe, different than the birthday cakes we used to make, but good for her and with just enough sweetness to make it delightful, and I made it this weekend.

To me, this cake signified more than just a birthday. To me, it stood for how far we’ve come as a family over the past year, and specifically how well she is. In my mind, I was celebrating the difference that a year has made in her life, and in the life of our family. Last year we were in such a dark place at this time and this year, everyone is healthy and happy.

I take nothing for granted, and I celebrate every blessing. This weekend was a bigger celebration than just a 14th birthday, at least for me. So as I share this cake recipe with you, a healthy, low fat recipe from Turntablekitchen.com, know that it signifies so much more than just a cake recipe. I’m sharing with you a piece of our celebration of good health, happiness, and blessings.

Happy 14th Birthday Caroline! What a difference a year makes!

Happy 14th Birthday Caroline! What a difference a year makes!

Here is the recipe, just as it appears on Turntable Kitchen. Thanks to them for sharing a recipe that was healthy and delicious!

**Pay attention to the recipe, as the ingredients need to be mixed in a certain order, different than the way they are listed. For our own purposes, we used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Using the low fat cream cheese meant we needed to add a bit more confectioner’s sugar to the top frosting, to make it sweet enough, and about a teaspoon of vanilla, to taste.

Banana Cake with Nutella and Cream Cheese Frosting

*serves 6-8

 For the cake:

 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

4 ripe bananas, mashed

2/3 cup buttermilk

For the Nutella frosting:

3 heaping tablespoons of Nutella

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

3 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup of butter

For the cream cheese frosting:

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

3 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup of butter

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and dust them with flour.

2. Sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a small bowl and set aside.

3. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until incorporated. Next, add the mashed bananas, vanilla and buttermilk. Beat until incorporated. Add about half of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

4. Evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Cool the cake layers to room temperature.

5. To prepare the Nutella frosting, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Set aside.

6. Repeat step five (omitting the Nutella) to make the cream cheese frosting.

7. To assemble: place one cake layer flat side up on a serving platter. Frost evenly with the Nutella frosting. Top with the second cake layer. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top.

- See more at: http://www.turntablekitchen.com/2011/11/banana-cake-with-nutella-and-cream-cheese-frosting/#sthash.GLbbjQCw.dpuf

Banana Cake with Nutella and Cream Cheese Frosting
*serves 6-8

For the cake:

1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup buttermilk

For the Nutella frosting:

3 heaping tablespoons of Nutella
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
3 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup of butter

For the cream cheese frosting:

1/2 cup of powdered sugar
3 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup of butter

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and dust them with flour.
2. Sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a small bowl and set aside.
3. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until incorporated. Next, add the mashed bananas, vanilla and buttermilk. Beat until incorporated. Add about half of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
4. Evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Cool the cake layers to room temperature.
5. To prepare the Nutella frosting, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Set aside.
6. Repeat step five (omitting the Nutella) to make the cream cheese frosting.
7. To assemble: place one cake layer flat side up on a serving platter. Frost evenly with the Nutella frosting. Top with the second cake layer. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top.

- See more at: http://www.turntablekitchen.com/2011/11/banana-cake-with-nutella-and-cream-cheese-frosting/#sthash.6Elj5jvc.dpuf

Banana Cake with Nutella and Cream Cheese Frosting
*serves 6-8

For the cake:

1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup buttermilk

For the Nutella frosting:

3 heaping tablespoons of Nutella
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
3 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup of butter

For the cream cheese frosting:

1/2 cup of powdered sugar
3 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup of butter

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and dust them with flour.
2. Sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a small bowl and set aside.
3. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until incorporated. Next, add the mashed bananas, vanilla and buttermilk. Beat until incorporated. Add about half of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
4. Evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Cool the cake layers to room temperature.
5. To prepare the Nutella frosting, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Set aside.
6. Repeat step five (omitting the Nutella) to make the cream cheese frosting.
7. To assemble: place one cake layer flat side up on a serving platter. Frost evenly with the Nutella frosting. Top with the second cake layer. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top.

- See more at: http://www.turntablekitchen.com/2011/11/banana-cake-with-nutella-and-cream-cheese-frosting/#sthash.6Elj5jvc.dpuf

Banana Cake with Nutella and Cream Cheese Frosting
*serves 6-8

For the cake:

1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup buttermilk

For the Nutella frosting:

3 heaping tablespoons of Nutella
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
3 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup of butter

For the cream cheese frosting:

1/2 cup of powdered sugar
3 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup of butter

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and dust them with flour.
2. Sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a small bowl and set aside.
3. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until incorporated. Next, add the mashed bananas, vanilla and buttermilk. Beat until incorporated. Add about half of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
4. Evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Cool the cake layers to room temperature.
5. To prepare the Nutella frosting, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Set aside.
6. Repeat step five (omitting the Nutella) to make the cream cheese frosting.
7. To assemble: place one cake layer flat side up on a serving platter. Frost evenly with the Nutella frosting. Top with the second cake layer. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top.

- See more at: http://www.turntablekitchen.com/2011/11/banana-cake-with-nutella-and-cream-cheese-frosting/#sthash.6Elj5jvc.dpuf

Fun Friday: Is it a cupcake or a muffin? You decide!

20 Sep

Looks like a muffin, tastes like a cupcake. What was I serving my family for breakfast?

ORIGINALLY POSTED OCTOBER 26, 2012:

This summer, one thing I wanted to do was try out some of the recipes I’d pinned on Pinterest. Today’s recipe post is one of those. I figured that if it was good, I’d post it for one of my fall/pumpkin themed posts.

Which I am, today.

But I don’t know what it is.

A muffin maybe.

Or a cupcake possibly.

Pumpkin, for sure.

I’ve seen this recipe all over the internet and Pinterest, and it’s touted as being fast, easy, tasty and a good Weight Watchers snack even.

Two ingredients for today’s muffins. Cupcakes. Whatever they are.

This recipe has two ingredients:

Cake Mix
15 ounces of pumpkin

Mix, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Try them and let me know what you think! Are they a cupcake or a muffin? Are they truly healthy? No eggs, no oil or butter.

Do you sprinkle them with powdered sugar like a muffin or do you put frosting on them like a cupcake?

Muffin?

Cupcake?

Breakfast?

Or dessert?

You try them and let me know what you think!

Fun Friday: Cook once, eat twice. After school snacks and breakfast

13 Sep
These were healthy and a huge hit. Definitely a keeper.

These were healthy and a huge hit. Definitely a keeper.

Cook once, eat twice.

I love that old adage. You cook once, and live on the leftovers. Or, you make double, since you’re cooking anyway, and have twice as much.

Either way, I like it.

I’ve been living on that theme all week long.

I’ve been a cooking machine this week, in between my own work hours, trying to deal with our crazy school year schedules, and making sure that we maintain a healthy eating lifestyle at the same time.

Really, just making sure everyone’s got something to eat when it’s time to eat.

However, one thing I really enjoy doing is making great after school snacks for my kids whenever I can. Everyone has something that makes them happy, and I think I’ve inherited my grandparents’ genes. My dad always said that my grandmother was happiest when everyone was eating.

If everyone is eating, they’re happy, and that makes me happy.

To me, as a mom, there is nothing more special than the moment the kids walk in the door from school. They’re tired, they’re hungry, they’ve got more work to do or places to go, but the look on their faces when they smell a snack fresh out of the oven or see it on the table is priceless to me.

I feel like I have the ability to make their day, every day. Or almost every day. I do the best I can. Later on in life, I want their memories of their school years to include coming in from school, and finding me there with something tasty for them to snack on. Some days I’m not even there, my schedule is not always consistent, but I’ve left them a tasty snack and a note on my way out the door.

To me, it’s things like that which make all the difference.

Everyone loves these whether for breakfast or after school or a meal on the run.

Everyone loves these whether for breakfast or after school or a meal on the run.

Additionally, I try to think smarter these days. If I’m going to make an after school snack, I might as well make enough of it to last for more than just one afternoon. I have tried to make things that can be used either as lunchbox snacks or as breakfast the next day.

These little mini quiches, or however you’d describe them, make a great after school snack. They’re healthy and you can make all different varieties to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. This time I did tomato/egg/cheese, spinach/egg/cheese and just plain egg/cheese. Fifteen eggs made 16 good-sized cups.

They were a snack and they’ve been breakfast or lunch throughout the week as well.

The pumpkin muffins, pictured above, I doubled the recipe to make twice as many. They served as an after school snack, breakfast the next day and a lunchbox snack the day after that.

If I’m going to work hard, I might as well get the mileage out of my efforts.

On that same afternoon this week as the pumpkin muffins, I also made a big batch of homemade applesauce. If I’m going to stand there and peel three pounds of apples, I might as well peel six pounds (although I have to stop there or my hand aches from all the peeling and slicing).

I used one batch in a recipe that night, froze two batches in my freezer for future use, and had some leftover to serve on the side with dinner as well. There’s nothing like homemade applesauce, especially in the fall in New England.

Today, I’m going to share with you the recipe I found for these delicious pumpkin muffins. Note that the recipe calls for mini chocolate chips. I don’t *do* mini chocolate chips. If I’m going, I’m going all the way so mine had regular-sized chips. Otherwise, the recipe I made was the same, just doubled.

This recipe is not my own. Thanks to Skinnytaste.com for posting such a wonderful snack and breakfast! It got all thumbs up at our house and we’d definitely make these again!

If I'm going to spend the time, might as well make it worth my while.

If I’m going to spend the time, might as well make it worth my while.

Skinny Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 14  • Size: 2 mini muffins  • Old Points: 3 pts • Weight Watcher Points+: 4 pt
Calories: 160 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 27 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 2 g • Sugar: 18 g
Sodium: 118 mg • Cholest: 0 mg

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (or canola)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • baking spray
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners and lightly spray liners with oil for easy removal.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin puree, oil, egg whites and vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
Add flour mixture to the wet mixture, then blend at low speed until combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tin and bake on the center rack for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let them cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 28 mini muffins or 14 regular sized muffins.

Monday Musings: It’s over and done…have a cookie.

26 Aug
All's quiet as we prepare for the first day back to school, back to routine.

All’s quiet as we prepare for the first day back to school, back to routine.

Well folks, that’s that.

Summer’s over, at least for us. The best two months of the calendar year have flown by, but they’ve been two wonderful months, for sure.

Tomorrow is the first day back to school.

We’ll be starting our first year where both our elementary kids are on the intermediate hallway. No more primary grades. Ever.

We’ll be starting our last year of middle school for our first kid. Next year…high school.

Yikes.

On a happy note…only ten more months until summer.

To celebrate, let’s have a cookie.

A couple of weeks back I tried out a new recipe, modified it for our needs, and it was a huge success. So today I’m sharing that recipe with you. Enjoy your week, munch on a cookie, it makes everything seem better.

These were in a new cookbook I received from a family friend recently. Everyone loved them!

These were in a new cookbook I received from a family friend recently. Everyone loved them! They’d make a great after school snack!

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

(with our modifications in italics)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter (we use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk (we use skim)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup white flour (we did one cup of white and 3/4 cup wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional and I did NOT add it in)
2 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking or old fashioned rolled oats
1 pkg. Semisweet Chocolate morsels
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional and I did NOT add it in)
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar.
Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, milk and vanilla.
Beat at medium speed until well blended.
Add flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat at low speed until soft dough forms.
Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12-13 minutes for a crisp cookie (I DID TEN.)
Let cool for 1 minute before removing from cookie sheets. Cool completely before storing.

Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.

Fun Friday: Spanish Flan

23 Aug
Subliminal message for me.

Subliminal message for me.

Elizabeth wanted me to make flan.

Really badly.

She saw flan featured on “Sabrina The Teenage Witch,” and figured if it was so great on the show, enough that an entire episode was devoted to it, then it must be so great in real life too.

I had to make it.

She even found me a lower-fat recipe so that we could make one that everyone in our family could try.

We bought the key ingredients.

They sat on our counter for weeks.

I kept forgetting.

It’s not like I don’t ever do *anything* around here.

So I finally told her to get a piece of paper and write me a note and leave it on the table for the next day, a Friday.

I think instead of a note, I got a reminder poster. It was easily a 9×12 piece of paper.

But it worked, I remembered.

How could I forget, with a note like that?

That next day we set to work, making our flan. I personally LOVE flan. I love anything flan-like. Puddings, custards, things like that. Love them.

So I was very excited to try this out.

Recipe or science experiment? Both!

Recipe or science experiment? Both!

The recipe was easy enough to follow and it was one of those that was like a science experiment. I love that too. The sugar had to be cooked on the stove until it turned a light caramel color and liquified. The kids had never seen that before. It was neat to see and to show them.

The other very cool thing about this recipe was that you cook the flan “right side up” but you serve it upside down.

Once the sugar was liquified, Elizabeth poured it into a pie plate and it hardened right away, which was also very cool. (Cool to see, but hot to the touch, which we learned the hard way.)

She mixed the rest of the ingredients, poured them on top of the hardened sugar and then it was ready to bake for one hour.

Elizabeth was very excited that we were finally making her requested recipe.

Elizabeth was very excited that we were finally making her requested recipe.

Although the prep is relatively quick, the cooking and cooling parts in order to get to the eating part take some time.

While the flan cooked we ate our lunch, and while it cooled, we went and ran some errands. We came back hungry, perfect timing for trying out our new dessert.

I had a little bit of trouble getting the flan out of the pan. Although it was cool and we’d flipped it upside down, it wasn’t coming out. However, using a technique only known to soon-to-be-fifth-graders apparently, Elizabeth banged on the bottom of the baking dish which was now facing bottom up, and out it slid.

“See Mom? I told you that would work. I told you to do it my way,” she said.

This is how our flan looked when it came out of the oven, before we flipped it over.

This is how our flan looked when it came out of the oven, before we flipped it over.

I’m a big “I told you so” person too, so I can’t disagree. She did, in fact, state that I should try banging on the bottom of the dish.

We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon snack. We had both Cool Whip and Whipped Cream available for topping off the flan, since some people like one or the other. I had to restrain myself from having more than one piece. I was trying to lead by example, but I really wanted at least two slices. I had to walk away. Literally.

Before I share the recipe that Elizabeth found with you, I have to share one more funny tidbit. The girls had recently seen the movie “Napoleon Dynamite,” which is a really silly movie, but the kids got a kick out of it. In this very silly movie there is a character named Lafonda. Having just seen the movie, Elizabeth decided she would actually name her Spanish Flan.

The name she chose: Laflanda.

And now, without further ado, here is the recipe she found for Spanish Flan, on one of our favorite sites: Allrecipes.com.

Our finished product, Elizabeth's special request: Spanish Flan.

Our finished product, Elizabeth’s special request: Spanish Flan aka Laflanda.

Ingredients
(From Allrecipes.com)

Recipe makes 1 – 9 inch round
  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt sugar until liquefied and golden in color. Carefully pour hot syrup into a 9 inch round glass baking dish, turning the dish to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Beat in condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla until smooth. Pour egg mixture into baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 60 minutes. Let cool completely.
  5. To serve, carefully invert on serving plate with edges when completely cool.

Fun Friday: Have you ever tried these?

2 Aug
One of our summer dessert experiments: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

One of our summer dessert experiments: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

I can’t be the only mom who’s seen these everywhere, can I?

Cupcakes.

Ice cream cones.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes.

It sounded easy enough when my kids asked if we could try these and take them to one of the concerts on the beach this summer.

It was going to be Elizabeth’s birthday that night and we thought that’d make a great treat for her and for the rest of the kids who would be joining us at the concert.

I made cake batter and frosting. I had cones, food coloring and cherries. Elizabeth asked if we could make the cake batter marbled with the food coloring to make it look like “Crazy Vanilla” ice cream, a flavor at our local ice cream spot.

How hard could this be?

Silly question.

These look near-perfect in the photo, but I definitely had some issues. If anyone has ever made these before, I’d love to hear some comments with tips or suggestions!

Problem number one: leaky cones!

Problem number one: leaky cones!

My first problem was that the cake batter leaked out of many of the cones, filling the tins.

The cake batter was cooked, and swirled as Elizabeth had requested, but some of the cones were now half-full and then had these little muffin top type things around the bottom.

They almost went in the trash.

The kids stopped me before I got there. They were still cupcakes they said. They would still taste good, they said. Let’s just keep them, they said.

So we did.

I added food coloring to the frosting and gave them each a color and a bowl of cherries to decorate their cupcakes.

They were done! So pretty. Ready to go.

Which leads me to Problem Number Two.

How would one transport these pretty little ice cream cone cupcakes?

I had a cupcake carrier, which I planned on using. However, keeping them standing upright proved to be a difficult task.

Impossible actually.

By the time we got ourselves onto the beach they had all fallen. I’d even tried wrapping them in foil around the bottom to fill the tins, in the hopes it’d keep them from falling over.

I’d call this an Epic Fail, a term my kids often use.

But they weren’t all bad. The kids all ate them anyway. Upside down, sideways, leaky or not, they were still a cupcake. Still frosted with a cherry on top (or next to). They still tasted good, or so they said.

So would I make these again? I think so.

Anyone out there have any ideas, tips or tricks for me?

It was a Ronald McDonald House Birthday Party

22 Jul
Elizabeth couldn't wait for a chance to help out the Ronald McDonald House in Providence.

Elizabeth couldn’t wait for a chance to help out the Ronald McDonald House in Providence.

I’ve always said that one of the things I love about Girl Scouts is that the kids get the chance to do things they wouldn’t normally get to do. This past spring, in March, Elizabeth had one of those chances. Her troop visited the Ronald McDonald House in Providence. The house hosts the families who have children in treatment at the nearby hospitals, no matter how long the treatment might be.

I was not a chaperone on that trip, Don took her that night. When Elizabeth came home, I asked her how it was, and it was clear to me that the visit had made quite an impression on her. She talked about all that she had seen and heard when she was there, and she said that she wanted to find a way to help out the house.

In the later part of the school year, Elizabeth began planning her 11th birthday party, which would be her first sleepover party. It was then that she told me she wanted to do something for Ronald McDonald House at her party, but she wasn’t sure what to do. Around the same time I covered a story at a local elementary school and there was a speaker there from the Ronald McDonald House.

As I listened to the speaker, taking notes for my story, I realized that there was a lot we could do to turn Elizabeth’s birthday party into a fun night of helping others. I came home and told her some of my ideas. As we talked about it, Elizabeth decided that she would incorporate her invites, her crafts and activities, her cupcakes, and even the colors of the paper goods she chose.

We kicked off our party planning and shopping with a visit to McDonalds where Elizabeth got her color scheme inspiration and took a photo with the RMH Helping Hands.

We kicked off our party planning and shopping with a visit to McDonalds where Elizabeth got her color scheme inspiration and took a photo with the RMH Helping Hands.

It wasn’t hard to get excited about this party. Elizabeth’s enthusiasm was catchy. I typed up her invitations before the end of the school year and I put the Wish List from Ronald McDonald House website on the back. Elizabeth added her own message on the front:

** A message from Elizabeth**  My theme is Ronald McDonald.  Ever since a Girl Scout field trip to the Providence Ronald McDonald House, (which by the way was spectacular) I have been inspired to do something that includes helping other other people! Now that it has come close to my birthday I went with helping the Ronald McDonald house fund. You don’t have to come with anything to donate because we’ll be making things for the house at the party, but if you would like to then the Wish List is on the back!

And then came the real fun. Elizabeth had found plates, napkins and streamers in the colors of red, orange and yellow at the dollar store. While we were there, we happened to find bright yellow t-shirts that we could decorate with the fabric markers we had at home; a great activity for the party. We decided to make covered journals and coordinating bookmarks as the craft. We’d use composition notebooks and scrapbook paper to cover them. The bookmarks would be made with the leftover scrapbook paper. These would be for the girls at the party and for the Ronald McDonald House; each guest would make one to keep and one to donate. The journals could either be for kids or adults. They could be used as diaries or for keeping notes at doctor visits or even as gratitude journals.

Around the same time, the kids saw an episode of DC Cupcakes on TV and the bakers were designing cheeseburger cupcakes. It was then that Elizabeth knew she’d found her cake. I hadn’t seen the episode myself, but the girls told me how they were made: chocolate cupcakes sliced in half to make burger patties and vanilla cupcakes sliced in half to make buns. Once assembled, fondant and frosting were used to build the “burgers.” That sounded fun and easy.

Making fondant lettuce for the "build your own burger" cupcakes for the party.

Making fondant lettuce for the “build your own burger” cupcakes for the party.

The day of the party, I used a coupon at Michaels Crafts to get a four-pack of premade fondant in red, orange and yellow. The girls each took a color and made a condiment. Elizabeth made lettuce, Caroline made ketchup and Alex made Swiss Cheese. The white frosting would be the mayo. I baked my two batches of cupcakes and set them out to cool.

These were fun and we used them for the chips and snacks at the start of the party.

These were fun and we used them for the chips and snacks at the start of the party.

Earlier in the month we’d spotted the coolest additions to the party theme: fast-food themed paper goods in the dollar bins at Target. We had plates and napkins already for some of the food, but we could definitely incorporate these items for the rest of the food. We even found similar containers shaped like hot dog holders that we could use for the cupcakes.

The night of the party arrived. All of the guests brought bags of donations for Ronald McDonald House. We had coloring books, puzzle books, toiletries and grocery items. We filled a whole basket with them. The girls decorated their t-shirts any way they wanted to. Our three decided to make theirs Ronald McDonald themed, with big red smiles. Caroline, who loves doing nails, did all the girls’ nails in yellow with big red smiles on the thumbs. So cute!

They seemed to love decorating their journals and creating special ones to put in the donation basket. As the basket filled, they were even more excited. The “build your own burger” cupcakes were fantastic. The girls got such a kick out of creating them and eating them, and they really did look just like burgers!

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Ready to deliver!

A few days after the party ended, on a Friday evening, we gathered up our family and Elizabeth got together all of the donations and off we went to Ronald McDonald House in Providence. It was exciting for me to see the house, since I’d missed the original field trip. It was fun to bring in the donations and place them in the house where the families could take a journal and where the donated items would be added to the supplies that are kept on hand for the those who need them.

All in all, this party was a huge success. It was a fun party, it was very inexpensive to put together, and it helped Elizabeth help others, which was her intention from the beginning.

Best of all though, the feeling we had from doing good for someone else, definitely takes the cake.

T-Shirt decorating time!

T-Shirt decorating time!

Below are more photos from Elizabeth’s Ronald McDonald House Birthday party.

Caroline's shirt

Caroline’s shirt

Everyone loved their covered journals!

Everyone loved their covered journals and bookmarks! Alex ran the bookmark-making station.

Ready for "Build Your Own Burger" cupcakes

Ready for “Build Your Own Burger” cupcakes

YUM!

YUM!

Ronald McDonald nails

Ronald McDonald nails

Elizabeth created Ronald McDonald smiles on a stick for all her friends to take home with them.

Elizabeth created Ronald McDonald smiles on a stick for all her friends to take home with them.

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