Monthly Archives: November 2013

Lego Birthday Party

Today, we celebrated Connor-man’s first birthday.  We had a houseful of people, food, presents, and, of course, cake!  It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun.  We did a Lego theme, and with the help of Pinterest and other more experienced moms, we had a rather nice little set-up.  Really, I was able to make pretty much everything with a few basic supplies and some borrowed Legos.  A little time and ingenuity, and it all came together quite nicely.

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This was done with streamers, tape, balloons, and push pins.  Tape the top of the streamer, roll it down to the bottom, cut, twist, and tape to secure.  Blow up balloons and pin them to the wall.  You can tape them, if you don’t want pin holes in your wall, but we have curtains that go back up after the decorations come down.  The holes won’t show.

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Some snacks and drinks.  I used primary colors to match the Legos.

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More primary colors.  I kept it as basic as I could.

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I made plain cupcakes from a cake recipe I have.  Since my icing-making skills are rather dismal, I bought cream cheese flavor and used food coloring to get the colors, which explains why they are quite pastel and even pink.  However, I then topped each cupcake with a Lego.  Just be sure to wash those little toys first!

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I made this cake with the leftover cake batter.  I cooked it in a square cake pan.  For the pegs on top, I cut off the tops of four cupcakes, and “glued” them onto the cake with icing.  And there you have it, one giant Lego smash cake for the guest of honor.

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As amazing as it sounds, I actually did have trouble with this banner, but that’s just because it was me making it.  Seriously, it’s just construction paper and a Sharpie.  The little “1” on the bottom was made from a Lego “ground” piece and some tiny Legos.  I just taped it to the wall with masking tape.

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More construction from tiny Legos.  Also, with the extra Legos that I had, I just put them in various vases and jars and used them as centerpieces on the table and snack buffet.

And that’s that.  A simple, cheap Lego birthday party.  🙂

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Candied Pecans

candied pecans

I bet you can’t guess what’s growing in our front yard.  A pecan tree!  Actually, we have one and a half pecan trees because one is on the property line with our neighbor.  Anyway, Connor and I have been getting lots of fresh air while I pick up pecans, and he throws them back into the yard.  However, despite his insistence that we leave them all for the squirrels, I have managed to gather quite a few pounds of pecans and crack about 10 cups worth of them.  So far, I have made a pie and these tasty little treats.  I even used a few in some biscuit twists I made recently.  I am quite excited about the pecans.

http://velvetstrawberries.typepad.com/andreasingarella/2012/12/candied-pecans.html

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 lb.) pecan halves
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a large metal baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla.
  3. Add the pecans and mix until all the pecans are coated in egg white mixture.
  4. In a small bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well-combined.
  5. Pour over the pecans and toss until pecans are coated in sugar mixture.
  6. Spread the pecans on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, turning and tossing every 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

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Chocolate Bundt Cake

chocolate bundt cake

Oh holy moly, do I have a recipe for you today!  This cake is absolutely heavenly.  Seriously, you need to make it for a potluck, Christmas party, or New Year’s celebration this season.  It is that good.  It is the Chocolate Bundt Cake to end all chocolate bundt cakes.  My photography skills do not do this cake justice.  It’s far better than it looks in this picture, but I tell you what, if you will check out the original website where I found this recipe, you will find much better photographs of this tasty cake.  (http://www.neighborfoodblog.com/2012/02/best-chocolate-bundt-cake-of-your-life.html)  Now, I will warn you that this cake does take a bit of time and a little bit of effort, but it’s not difficult, just involved.  There are many steps, but they are simple.  And the reward is quite delectable, you can take my word for it.  😉

Happy Baking!

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Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon coffee (I used instant, but fresh brewed will work, too.)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt (reduce to 1 teaspoon if using table salt) >> I used the table salt.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour, sifted

Glaze

  • 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/4 cup half and half or cream  (I used heavy cream.)

Directions:

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 in round bundt pan. Set aside.  (P.S.  Absolutely grease and flour your pan.  Actually, according to a Pinterest pin I saw, since this is a chocolate cake, you could use cocoa powder so your cake doesn’t have white spots on it.)
  2. Place cocoa powder and coffee in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, combine sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs, and yolk. Beat on low speed for about one minute.
  4. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and beat for another minute or so.
  5. Add flour to sugar mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the cooled cocoa/coffee mixture and beat on low speed for another minute.
  7. Pour into the greased pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let the cake cool completely before inverting onto serving tray.

Glaze

  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add it to a double boiler or heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally.
  2. Melt butter in another pan or in the microwave.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter and chocolate.
  4. Add half the powdered sugar and whisk again. The mixture will seem very thick.
  5. Whisk in sour cream and the remaining powdered sugar.  Just keep whisking until it comes together.
  6. Add coffee and cream and whisk together until smooth and glossy.
  7. This is a thick, spreadable frosting. If you’d like a more pourable glaze, simply add additional cream, milk, or half and half.

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