Sunday, October 31, 2010

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Happy Halloween
From Our Family to Yours!


Even my husband joins in on the festivities!
This year we found on our street
Rapunzel, A Firefly, 
A Housewife in Robe and Curlers,
A Pirate of the Caribbean
and a Very Impressive Captain Hook!

I dressed up as a Pirate Wench,
but, hey, somebody has to take the picture!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bug and Butterfly Cupcakes!


I love 2nd grade Bug Day because it offers me yet another opportunity to make - CUPCAKES!  These bug and butterfly cupcakes look impressive, yet are fairly easy to make.

These two ideas, from the book Hello, Cupcakes! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, start with a standard frosted cupcake and are topped with creatures made from candy melts and M&M's.


Simply melt the candy melts in a gallon sized freezer ziploc bag, snip a quarter inch hole in one corner and pipe the chocolate on to parchment paper with a copy of the book's template underneath.


For the monarch butterflies, fill in the outline with orange candy melts.


Drag a toothpick through the still wet chocolate to create veins and swirls.


Top with white non-pareils.


To assemble, tuck the wings into a frosted cupcake and prop them up underneath with a chocolate candy melt.  Insert piped antennas. 


Follow similar piping and tracing instructions for the bugs, and add M&M's for body parts.


HAPPY BUG DAY!

The Second Grade class in costume.
My cute little firefly!



Monday, October 25, 2010

Playing Hooky With Ella


It's become a tradition - an early doctor's appointment followed by a long lunch.  
The restaurant of choice?  
The American Girl Bistro, of course!


It's a place where a girl can bring her bitty friends,



drink out of bitty teacups,


have a big or bitty lunch and....











Enjoy really good Birthday Cake Ice Cream!

Playing hooky from kindergarten?
Priceless.



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Owl S'mores!


How cute are these?  

I got the idea for these Owl S'mores from Amy at Living Locurto and decided I just had to make them for the fourth and fifth grade Friday treat.  


Of course, that involved making an entire flock of owls!  Not to worry, however, they are as easy as they look. 



I found this free clip art owl and added it to "Wise Owl" tags.


I printed the tags on orange cardstock, cut them to size,
folded them over and simply stapled them to sandwich bags.


WHOO will you surprise with this fun snack?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chasing a Sunset


After an evening of piano lessons (fluorescent lights and black and white), the girls and I walked out of the Music Conservatory to this amazing sky drenched in color.  The brilliant horizon made us stop in awe and gasp with delight.  I grabbed my camera, which seems to permanently reside in my car, and took these shots across the vast parking lot.  Determined to get a better view, we jumped in the car and followed the sunset.  It beckoned us down a new path - away from our home and the familiar.  But alas, the sun alluded us and we watched as it slowly slipped away, just out of reach.  Our adventure ended with only warm memories, and these two brilliant photos.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes {MSC}




The Name
Cinnamon cupcakes topped with 7-minute frosting "kisses", these cupcakes are a play on the famous, crackly cookie of the same name.  The origin of the name "snickerdoodle" is unknown, but food historians have a few hypothesis.  Most believe the name to be of German origin.  Some believe the name to be derived from the German word, schneckennudeln, or "crinkly noodles".   "Schnecke" in German, however, means "snail".  According to an old book called Slumps, Grunts and Snickerdoodles:  What Colonial Americans Ate and Why, by Lila Perl, a "schnecke" was also a German name for a cinnamon pinwheel that resembled a snail.  At least it makes more sense than "crinkly noodle"!

The Cake


Since I am relatively new to the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club, this was my first foray into Cake Flour.   My first question was, "What is cake flour, exactly?"  According to my Barron's Food Lover's Companion, (Thanks, SIL!) I learned that cake flour is "a fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with a high starch content."  It makes particularly tender cakes and pastries.   My second question was, "And where do I find it?"  After checking two local grocery stores and Super Target, I stood in front of all the flours at Whole Foods.  There were bags of bread flour, pastry flour, whole wheat flour, self-rising flour, but where was the cake flour?  I finally accosted a chef-looking shopper who, after an informative dissertation on adjusting recipes when one doesn't have cake flour, helped me spot, not a bag, but a box of cake flour on the top shelf.  Mission accomplished.


The batter went together easily with no other unusual ingredients.  The only oddity was the recipe specified 28 cupcakes, not 24.  I followed the directions and made two pans plus four cupcakes.

You can find the recipe here on Martha Stewart's website!

The Frosting


After reading a couple of disaster stories on Martha Stewart's 7-minute frosting recipe, and realizing that I only owned a meat thermometer, not a candy thermometer, I decided to call my brilliant mother for her tried and true 7-minute frosting recipe.  I have never actually made this meringue-like frosting, but remembered that it made very fluffy bunny "fur" on our chocolate Easter cakes!


This recipe seemed much simpler than the one in the cookbook.  All the ingredients were mixed together in a double boiler and beaten over heat for about- 7 minutes!  At this point, however, one must work fast before the meringue begins to harden.  I found my Wilton #1A frosting tip online at Amazon.com.  ($2.11 for the tip and $6.12 for the shipping - go figure!)


The kisses actually held their shape and the looked great for the Teacher's Appreciation Luncheon!


Thanks to Katie at katiecakes for selecting today's challenge!



Mom's Seven Minute Frosting
Betty Crocker Cookbook (circa 1960's)

2 egg whites (1/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1/3 cup water

Place ingredients in a double boiler over boiling water and beat with a rotary beater until the mixture stands in stiff peaks, about 7 minutes.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan occasionally.  Fold in 1 tsp vanilla.

ATTN:  CUPCAKE CLUB MEMBERS!  Please also visit my post on last year's Zucchini Spice Cupcakes.  I'm trying to catch up! :)