Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
But Sara was with us - yay!
We started out in Pioneer Village, and Kitty was enthralled with the animals.
She was also enthralled with the ox yoke and pulled it right down on top of herself. The loop that the ox head fits through went right over her body, so she was unscathed. Except for the bottom lip quiver.
Next we did Little Hands on the Farm. It was old hat for Boo, she remembered how to do everything and couldn't wait to get to the tractors.
And Kitty had so much fun. She didn't drive a tractor and she wouldn't give her grain to the pigs, but she did everything else.
We spent some time in the animal barns, watched some sheep shearings and some draft horse showings. But then it was time for the reason we all go to the fair.
We started with a bag of kettle corn.
Then tucked in to a smoked turkey leg, corn dog, chicken gyro, and grilled corn on the cob. It was all good, but I still daydream about the smoked turkey leg. The new food at the fair this year was fried butter. I sort of regret not trying it. But sort of not.
Kitty is a fan of corn on the cob. She munched on this for a good long time. Long enough for us to eat in peace, and long enough to make a decent grease mess down her front. :)
I'm already looking forward to next year.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
We celebrated my birthday not too long after Boo's. It was an exceptionally busy day, along with the few days following. It would have been a non-existent celebration...except that my sweet Sara made me a gorgeous cake before she left, and J made me a Chicago pizza while I was at work.
The only pictures we got were of the cake...but really, wouldn't you rather feast your eyes on this four-layer-lemon-curd-with-egg-white-icing goodness?
You can see the recipe here (but you do have to register for free with the website). Or buy the Complete America's Test Kitchen Cookbook (I totally want it).
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Sara and I did a lot of cooking while she was here. One of my favorite things that we made: Oreo cupcakes. How could we not have fun spending the afternoon with a kitchen full of Oreos?
We had two Oreo cupcake recipes and decided that we had to try both. So I'll record both recipes below.
I thought I would not like the cupcake with chunks of Oreo in the actual cupcake. But it was more than awesome.
The mini cupcakes filled with cream were also really really good. It makes me want to try to make it into a Hostess cupcake.
Make these if you're going to have company, they are impossible to resist!
Chocolate cupcake batter:
*This recipe made 2 dozen regular cupcakes and 3 dozen mini cupcakes, twice as many as I anticipated.*
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the brown sugar and continue beating until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Don't overmix.
Now, here is where I split the batter. Big cupcake instructions first:
Twist 24 Oreo cookies so you have 24 sides with cream.
Place these cookie halves cream side up in cupcake liners.
Fill cupcake lines with cupcake batter until half full.
Break whole Oreo cookies into small pieces, and drop five or six cookie chunks into each unbaked cupcake.
Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes (til an inserted toothpick comes out clean).
Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.
Now for the whipped cream frosting:
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp. whipping cream
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 tbsp. Oreo cookie crumbs
Combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract and beat on medium-high speed (with the whisk attachment) until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks. Gently fold in the cookie crumbs with a spatula. (I needed a batch and a half of the whipped cream frosting for both sets of cupcakes.)
Frost the cupcakes with the whipped cream frosting (I used a piping bag and large tip, super easy and quick). Add an Oreo to the top for garnish right before you serve them.
Now for the mini Oreo cupcakes.
Use the chocolate cupcake batter (above) and bake in mini cupcake pans at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes.
Cool the cupcakes.
Using a small paring knife, cut a small cone out of the top of the mini cupcake. Using a piping bag, fill the hole with whipped cream frosting and cap with the removed cone. Since I like a lot of filling, I usually cut out the initial cone, and then scrape more cupcake out of the middle.
Pipe more frosting onto the top of the cupcake and top with a mini Oreo.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Boo dressed up in a dinosaur costume and sat on her dinosaur eggs.
And we had to ride the carousel.
And Kitty played in the water table for the first time. She was in heaven. She played in the water for at least 20 minutes.
I made everyone go to the Rock Stars exhibit. They hated it. Boo was not impressed with the Elvis tiger costume, nor with the Monkees display. But Sara got her to take a KISS picture.
Which she then remembered for her first-day-of-school picture.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Boo is so happy to be back in school. Doesn't she look so grown up?
She has a new teacher, but her class is mostly the same as last year. On her first full day back, so got to celebrate her birthday in class and bring a birthday snack. So we started the year off right.
Last year she took a little gymnastics class right after preschool one day a week. We signed her up again, but it doesn't start for a bit. When I explained this to her, she cried, "But I just can't wait that long!"
I'm beginning to suspect that her excitement for school had more to do with the gymnastics class.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
For the first few lessons, she alternated between being really excited to go, and eyes filling up with tears because she didn't want to get wet. We spent a few lessons handing her to the teacher in the pool in the midst of grand tantrum. But as soon as she got in the water, she was okay.
By the time we reached the midway point of lessons, she was having a great time and doing everything her teacher's asked her to do. (Ice cream bribes may have helped a little.)
Monday, August 23, 2010
What does Boo love even more than cupcakes?
Ice cream. Vanilla ice cream.
So I decided to make ice cream cupcakes for her birthday.
Brownie on the bottom.
A thick layer of ganache.
Vanilla ice cream topped with raspberry truffles and blueberries.
Here it is:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/8 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup chocolate chips (or more...you can't have too many chocolate chips in your brownies)
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a double boiler, combine the butter and chocolate and melt (stirring occasionally) until nice and smooth. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture, and then the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Line cupcake pans with FOIL liners. Scoop 1 tablespoon (or 1 1/2 TB if you like a higher brownie to ice cream ratio...which I do) of batter into cupcake liner. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 6-8 minutes. Leave the brownies in the pan and cool on a wire rack until room temperature. Then stick the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the cream to a simmer, then pour over the chocolate chips and let stand for a couple of minutes. Then stir it all up til it's nice and smooth (pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds if it's still lumpy).
Pull the cupcake/brownies out of the freezer (still keep them in the cupcake pan) and put a dollop of ganache on each. Pop them back in the freezer for another 30 minutes. You won't use all the ganache - you will need the rest for the raspberry truffles.
Homemade ice cream would be really great. But we used Breyer's Homemade Vanilla...the only brand of store bought vanilla allowed in this house. (For the record, J and Boo are the vanilla ice cream lovers. If it were me, I would top those babies with Graeters Black Raspberry Chip). I took the brownie cupcakes out of the pan and plopped a scoop of only-a-little-soft ice cream on top of the ganached brownie. Then I smoothed the top with a knife til it looked like a frosted cupcake. Put the cupcake right in the freezer (on a large baking sheet) as soon as you have smoothed the ice cream down. Then do the next one. I let them all freeze for about 30 minutes, then added the raspberry truffles and blueberries.
Rinse the raspberries and lay them on some paper towels to dry. Using a piping bag (or just a ziploc bag with one corner cut off) and a large open tip to pipe ganache into the middle of the raspberries. Freeze the truffles on a baking sheet.
**This made 18 cupcakes, but I put a bit more than 1 TB of batter in each cupcake liner**
Adapted from Annie's Eats: Strawberry Ice Cream Brownie Cupcakes.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
She got a box of "special Cheerios" for breakfast.
Then we went to Anderson Orchard to pick raspberries. Boo has been asking to pick raspberries since October, and they just happened to be ready to pick this very week.
Kitty followed me down the line of bushes, sticking her hand in my bucket to steal handfuls of raspberries. My very own Sal. Kaplink, kaplank, kaplunk.
We had a lot of fun, but it was so hot and humid, we only lasted about 30 minutes. But we got what we came for. Plus a box of white peaches.
Boo had her last swimming lesson that afternoon, then we hurried home for our celebration.
You may remember that it's just not a party unless there are party hats.
Boo got a beautiful I Spy quilt from Grandma.
And the long awaited 'long gloves' for her Cinderella costume.
And lots of markers and coloring books.
And then...the moment we've all been waiting for...
The Birthday Cupcakes!
Boo's sweet little friend came to celebrate with us last minute, and the kids had a great time.
A great day!
Friday, August 13, 2010
I'm new at this back-to-school thing. My mom friends were talking about how busy they were, what with back-to-school haircuts, buying new shoes, finding that cute new outfit for the first day. I realized I needed to get with it.
So Boo got her little trim at Cookie Cutters. We were not impressed, and tried to fix it up a bit ourselves at home. It was okay, but it was late so we put the scissors aside to work on it again another day.
Monday morning. Boo is playing upstairs while I'm feeding Kitty. Suddenly she is by my side, scissors IN HER HAIR saying, "Look, Mom! (snip snip) I cut my hair! (snip snip) I have a cute haircut!"
I followed the trail of blonde hair up the stairs.
And found a really big pile.
She was so proud of herself.
This would happen on the day she was to meet her new preschool teacher.
I took her to my hair stylist for a fix.
And here's what we got.
Not bad, I say. But later that day she sat crying on the stairs...she didn't like her short hair.
So tell me what you think. If you like it, I'll be glad to hear it. If you don't, J will be glad to hear it.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
This is a worthy dessert. Even if it doesn't have a lick of chocolate in it.
We made it again this weekend, but had to double it. It was that good.
For the filling:
6 ripe but firm peaches
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Pinch of salt
For the biscuit topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup sour cream (or substitute 1/2 cup plain yogurt)
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 425° F. For the filling, peel and slice the peaches. Gently toss the peaches and sugar together in a large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes, tossing several times. Drain the peaches in a colander set over a bowl. Whisk together 1/4 cup of the drained juice with the cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt in a small bowl. Toss the peaches with the juice mixture and transfer to a 8-inch square glass baking dish. Bake until peaches begin to bubble around the edges, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the biscuit topping. In the food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse to combine. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to a medium bowl; add the sour cream and mix until a cohesive dough is formed. (Don't overmix.) Break the dough into 6 evenly sized but roughly shaped mounds and set aside.
After the peaches have baked 10 minutes, remove the peaches from the oven and place the dough mounds on top, spacing them at least 1/2-inch apart (they should not touch). Sprinkle each mound with sugar and cinnamon.
Bake until the topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 16-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until warm, about 20 minutes; serve.