We were invited over to our friends' house last weekend for his widely famous grilled wings. The six of us plus the three of them managed to chomp through the majority of the 100 wings that he cooked. Luckily for us, we got the leftovers! Apparently, the secret's in the apple juice brine. I'll try to re-create these sometime soon!
Since it was so close to the Fourth of July, I brought these Red, White and Blueberry cupcakes for dessert!
Above, you'll find my secret recipe for the delicious Red Velvet Cake.
Shhhhh..... Don't tell Martha!
The way I see it is this: A cake mix baked in your own oven is still way better than store bought any day.
The key to getting a nice white icing is this: Crisco. Now, before you go all postal on me, I'll have you know that Wilton's Buttercream Icing can actually be made without any butter at all! Many bakers actually prefer this texture. Furthermore, The Crisco label indicates zero trans fats. Now, I'm not saying that these fall into the health food category. They are what they are. TREATS! And since I was looking for a dairy free dessert for our friend with allergies, I opted for the dairy free version. I added almond extract to mine, which, in my book, is heavenly.
The little girls had fun topping these festive cupcakes with blueberries.
Happy Fourth of July everyone!
Wilton's Buttercream Icing
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco) (comes in sticks!)
2 Tablespoons milk (or almond milk for dairy free)
In a large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla or almond extract. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well at medium speed. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
It was her first overnight camp but I left her without any fear or trembling. She's always been independent and confident. I snapped these photos when I picked her up. Looks like she made it through the week just fine! This slice of everyday life is part of Chic Critique's Glimpses 52 Project.
I'm sorry. I've been a cupcake slacker. Well, not not a cupcake slacker, but a posting slacker. I actually baked these cupcakes ON TIME, but ran out OF TIME when it came to posting. Please forgive me. Pretty please. With honey-cinnamon frosting on top?
Roasting the bananas makes them even more banana-y and the resulting flavor was so successful, that I think I will add roasted bananas to my banana bread! Fortunately, I made a last minute decision to read the instructions and realized that you roast the bananas IN the skin. I would have otherwise assumed that one would peel them first. Here are my beautiful yellow bananas BEFORE roasting.
Here are my beautiful yellow bananas AFTER 15 minutes in the oven.
I call this still life, "Black Bananas at Sunset."
Inside, however, the bananas are sweet and softened and very banana-y.
I was tempted to just go with the all purpose flour, but lo and behold, I found some cake flour buried in my pantry. I think the cake flour was a good move because even with the heavy bananas, the cupcakes turned out light and cupcake-y, not dense and muffin-y. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I happen to like dense muffins.
Here are the baked cupcakes after the teenage son thought they were fair game. Has he not yet learned to ask if the food has been photographed first?
While I am partial to cream cheese frosting on everything, I thought the Honey Cinnamon Frosting was perfectly balanced to this cupcake. The flavor was delicate and not too sweet.
This recipe was definitely a hit in our house!
Except with the daughter.
She doesn't like cinnamon.
That's just wrong.
You can find the complete cupcake and frosting recipe at Martha's website.
I was flying from Minneapolis to Atlanta yesterday on a bargain flight which my husband found on short notice. It involved commuter jets and layovers, but it was cheap and I was happy to oblige. The airplanes were small. You know the kind. Two seats smushed together on each side of a teeny tiny aisle in which no two humans could possibly pass. Only seventeen rows from front to back. These planes aren't bad on puddle jumping flights, but the leg of Chicago to Atlanta was pushing two hours.
I boarded the plane and noticed a very large woman sitting in my row, across the aisle. And by large, I mean that I wasn't sure if she was actually able to put the arm rest down between the seats. Her grayish blonde hair was swept back into a ponytail. Even though it was the middle of summer, she wore a gray hooded sweatshirt, white T-shirt and jeans. It was obvious from her dress that she just wanted to blend in. Her face was pleasant looking and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses rested on her nose as she quietly read her book.
A few minutes later, a uniformed pilot, riding standby to his final destination, stopped in the aisle and looked at his boarding pass. Realizing he was going to have to squeeze into the very small space next to the very large lady, he responded that he thought that there was an empty row in the back he would try.
The lady laughed nervously and said, "I promise I took a shower this morning!..... but I understand." The look on her face showed that she'd had years of practice smiling on the outside while holding back the hurt and pain and embarrassment on the inside.
The flight, as it turned out, was not full. And as each additional passenger boarded, my heart leapt for joy at the possibility of keeping the empty seat by my side. As the flight attendant announced that boarding was complete, the uniformed pilot came back. "Just my luck," he said with a smile. "I have a whole row to myself and a family of four gets on."
The large woman struggled out of her seat and the pilot took his diminutive place by the window. A moment later, the flight attendant appeared. An obvious attempt to rescue her superior from his fate, she said, "Captain, there is a vacant seat next to Pilot Johnson. I noticed you were talking earlier and thought you might want to finish your conversation."
I could feel the repressed pain and humiliation behind the large woman's pasted on smile. She would always be alone. She would always be that person sitting in a chair in the corner of a gathering. No one would ever get close enough to know the person that lived beneath her outer layers.
The pilot paused for a moment as he pondered his more comfortable offer. Then he did the unthinkable. He said, "No." "I'm good right here," he replied to the flight attendant. "Really, I'm fine."
The woman beamed as she set her book on her lap. From that moment forward, the uniformed pilot and the lady in the gray sweatshirt conversed the entire flight. I thought about how his one act of selflessness may have changed her life that day. He took the time to listen to her thoughts and words. Suddenly, she had worth. He looked beyond her appearance and looked into her heart. When I examined myself, I wasn't sure if I would have made that same choice. I wanted to tell him that I had observed the kindness he demonstrated, but I never saw him get off the plane. As it turned out, that pilot touched not just the life of the lady in gray, he touched mine as well.
I guess King Solomon got it right when he wrote, "Your own soul is nurtured when you are kind." (Proverbs 11:17) I think I'm going to vinyl that on our wall. These are quenching words for a thirsty world.
Isn't it funny how a Dinosaur Sundae is all the reward needed for making it through 100 hours of ballet lessons, 75 hours of musical theater classes and 6 hours of recitals? Check out more everyday Glimpses HERE!
We went fishing last weekend, trying to take advantage of a VERY UNUSUAL 70 degree, low humidity evening. The fishing wasn't great, but the boat ride was sublime. The next day, Samuel went to camp. Here's what he missed while he was gone:
Six hours of ballet recitals (Don't worry, honey, I got it on tape!)
The Anne of Green Gables Marathon (I bought the entire series)
The sister sleeping in his queen-sized bed
The sister emailing him daily that she was sleeping in his bed (OK, he didn't actually miss this since he did receive the emails!)
Walking the dog during a surprise downpour
That lovely wet dog smell
Me running my fingers through his new crew cut
His sisters trying to touch his new crew cut
Yummy pasta night
The last one did actually make him tear up a bit. All in all, I would say that we probably missed him more than he missed us. We're so glad he's back!
My mom and dad came down to visit last week for Samuel's confirmation and 8th grade Graduation. Right after the final bell, we packed up Grandma and Grandpa and the kids and headed to North Carolina to visit The Biltmore, the largest single family home in America. And yes, you counted right. That would be eight people and luggage and a cooler packed into a 2003 Ford Expedition driving through the mountains. In this case, the driver definitely got the good seat!
The genius that went into this home built in the late 1800's by George Vanderbilt is amazing and the panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains is breathtaking. We were about the last ones to leave the estate, when I spotted my mom and dad resting on the vine-covered veranda. I love that I captured this moment. They'll be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this August!
I'm linking up this weekly Glimpse of our life to Chic Critique's Glimpses Project.
SCHOOOOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER! And, no, I'm not an Alice Cooper fan, but the sound of my husband singing this acid rock song is ringing through my ears. I don't think he got enough attention as a child.
Actually, our school finished an entire week ago, but I'm just now posting this end of the year treat - TRIX BARS! Think of them as your basic Rice Krispy Treat on steroids. They're brighter, cheerier, tastier, bigger, and just plain funner!
OK, I know funner isn't really a word, but Who Cares?
School's Out for the summer!
Now imagine these totally festive treats wrapped in crisp and shiny individual cellophane bags with a note attached that says this:
Melt the butter and the marshmallows on LOW heat stirring constantly until the marshmallows have just melted. Add the cereal and combine. Pour into a greased 9x13" cake pan and pat down with buttered fingers, or better yet, butter a plastic bag and put it over your hand. Let set for a couple hours and slice into squares.