Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Birthday Cake

So I promised that I would give Joseph' birthday cake it's own deserves it. I was no less than thrilled with the outcome of this cake. My decorated cakes are pretty well hit or miss. And when you know about all the mishaps that happened with this cake...well, you would be surprised there was a cake at all. :)

First of all, I bought a cute little 6" cake pan to make Joseph's smash cake for his party. Oh how I have dreamed of the day he would dig his hands in a cute little cake and get all messy and be cute for the pictures.

Oh how I dreamed.

It was not to be.

I gave Joseph a cupcake on his birthday. He was unsure about it to begin with...and this is not because he has never had sweets. He's had sweets. It's hard to keep him from them when I bake as much as I do. Anyway, he finally dug in and I thought we were good to go, but no. He had a meltdown over the icing on his hands and he was wiping it on his face and trying to wipe it off of his face with his hands and that icing was going nowhere. S0, no smash cake. The last thing I wanted at his birthday party was a meltdown. It's HIS day, not mine.

Sooooo.....I had to rethink my cake design because I was determined to use that cute little cake pan (it's really not that's basically the top tier of a wedding cake). So, I decided to try to tackle a tiered cake.

The cake was Martha Stewart's Yellow Butter Cake. This was only my second or third scratch cake....and the others were cupcakes. Scratch cakes make me nervous, but only the best for my little Munchkin. I let everything come to room temperature and I got it all mixed and in my parchment lined pans and into the oven. When the timer went off, I looked in the oven and knew something was wrong. My 8" pans were all sunken, but my 6" pan looked ok. I took them out to check for done-ness and my 6" pan deflated in seconds flat. OH NO!!

Oh well, I guess baking cakes from scratch is just not my thing. So, I called Michael and asked him to stop on his way home and buy a cake mix.

I sat down a little later and studied the recipe to determine what had gone wrong. It didn't take me long to figure it out. If you look at the recipe, the flour is broken up into all purpose and cake flour. I only put in all purpose. So, half my flour was missing. Also, I had left out the milk. I had a friend over while I was baking it and was too busy yapping, I guess.

On a good note....Martha's yellow cake with only half the flour and no milk makes a DELICIOUS treat. I cubed it and served it on my fruit tray. It got rave reviews. Maybe I made up something awesome. :)

I later remade the cake and it turned out beautiful.

The icing was Italian Meringue Buttercream....fancy, I know. Like I said, only the best for my Munchkin. This was a very tedious frosting...and it took a while to make, but it turned out beautiful.

Now, I should tell you that I made the cake and the frosting and put the crumb coat on the cake the day before the party. My plan was to get up on Saturday and frost and decorate the cake.

I took my BEAUTIFUL buttercream out the fridge Saturday morning to find it VERY firm...think like a stick of cold butter. I knew that it would never be spreadable in time for me to decorate the cake before the party....enter freakout mode.

I thought about trying to soften it in the microwave...but I was scared of over doing it.

So, I just put a small amount in a bowl and started beating it with a hand just looked curdled.

I put a tiny amount in a bowl and tried softening it in the melted.

I put the melted in the bowl with the icing I was beating and beat it again....

And it came back to life.

So I did this with the rest. Let me tell you though..this icing doesn't like food coloring...but finally I got it all together.

At one point, I didn't think I was going to have enough icing....which made me freak a tiny bit because this icing is time consuming and I said before. But I made it work.

So, for those of you who want to know:

The bottom tier was 2-8" round cakes with chocolate frosting in between the layers (store bought...I had made enough from scratch)

The top tier was a 6" x 3" round cake carved out to make the "road" climbing up the top of the cake. The pan I got was made in USA...something I'm always stoked about.

It took 1 1/2 recipes of cake batter to make all the layers.

The road was Pillsbury milk chocolate frosting, but all else was the italian buttercream.

I made 1 recipe of the buttercream, and if I had not used the chocolate frosting in between the layers, it would not have been enough.

The cars were Fisher Price Wheelies Racers.

The flags were just card stock that I colored on with a sharpie and taped to lollipop sticks.

And I tasted just as good as it looked.

The only bad thing is that I don't know how I am every going to top this one!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Joseph's Birthday Party

Joseph's Birthday party was this weekend. I think it was a huge success. At first I was really bummed because SOOOOO many people weren't able to come. People that I hadn't seen in a while, people who we call friends but yet have not met Joseph yet, and people that you would've just expected to be there. Oh well. We had a nice little group and since it was crappy outside, I think we had just the right number to be comfortable in our house. So it worked out good.

I am going to do a separate post about the cake (it deserves its own post). But here are some pictures from the day.
Special thanks to Michael for cutting out the letters as well as a lot of the blocks of paper. I was the designer...he was the doer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Joseph!

I'm a big fan of birthdays. I view them as your own special little holiday that should be filled with happiness and fun stuff. I'm good at the birthday thing. I guess it comes from having good birthdays growing up. I know that Joseph will not remember his first birthday, but I wanted it to be special and fun regardless.

I think I succeeded.

The poor thing got diagnosed with RSV on Monday. :( He had been so sick over the weekend. His stuffiness has kept him from getting much sleep....which in turn means I haven't been getting much sleep.

I noticed over the weekend that no matter how fussy he got or how bad he seemed to be feeling, that being outside made him much happier.

So, for his birthday, I took him to the Salato Wildlife Center. He had a blast checking out the bear, bald eagle, skunk, turtles, and wildcats.

Here he is deciding that he is done with looking at the buffalo:
Ready to move on to something else.

I highly recommend checking out Salato if you are in the Frankfort area. I had never been and was so surprised by how much there was to do and see! We will definitely be going back!

After his nap, I gave him his present:
A Little Tikes Cozy Coupe!

He had actually seen it the night before while Michael was putting it together. He pretty much had to assemble it around Joseph.

We decided to take it for a spin around the block, but didn't want to leave Shelby out so I tied him to the coupe.
After an afternoon of cruising and playing in the backyard, it was time for some grub. I had Michael go get him a happy meal since that is one of his favorite things to eat. Of course, RSV wrecks the appetite and he ate not much of it. We sat in the back yard and ate and let him pick at his food for a while until it started getting a bit breezy.

We came in for CUPCAKES!
He started out liking the whole cupcake "hands in icing" thing, but it quickly moved toward meltdown....he didn't like having the icing all over his hands and face. Plus he was getting tired and grumpy by this point. It really makes me rethink his smash cake for his party this weekend. I had big plans for it too!! I even bought a cute new pan! But like Michael said, I should be sure that I am doing it for him and not for me. And I think if it was up to him, he would have a small manageable piece of cake that he could eat without getting icing all over himself. :)

Stay tuned for pictures from his birthday shindig this weekend! It's gonna be great!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

One of the great things about going to MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meetings, besides meeting new people and getting much needed adult conversation, is getting to bring food. Yes, I am one of those people who LOVES to sign up to bring food to whatever function. You see, I love to cook, bake, whatever, but I also love to EAT! That's the problem. I make it....then I eat it....all of it (except for what little tittle Michael might eat).

And my thighs are not of fan of that habit.

Now, I can eat a normal portion and the rest gets eaten by others. :) My thighs are smiling.

Here's something I whipped up for the meeting tomorrow. I had made something like this before for a bridal shower. I couldn't find my recipe but then I decided I don't need no stinking recipe. What happened was true fabulosity.

Here's what you need to NEED to.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
Strawberries (you want the big ones for this to give room for the filling. I think I filled a shade more than a 16 oz container. I bought 2 containers and picked the best ones. I think I have almost a full container left over.)

Beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer until creamy.

Cut the tops off the berries and hull them.

Spoon cream cheese mixture into a piping bag or a ziploc with the corner snipped out.

Pipe the cream cheese into the top of the hulled berries.

Eat right away or chill.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

French Onion Beef Bake

Michael came home from Mississippi tonight just in time for supper. I haven't cooked in almost a week (aside from mac and cheese) so I was hoping I would remember how. :) I modified a recipe from my Pillsbury cookbook and this was the result. It was super yummy and satisfying.

French Onion Beef Bake
1 lb sirloin steak, cubed
3 cups egg noodles
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped (if you love onion, by all means put more as the onion really should be the star of the show...we aren't onion people)
1 Tbsp Onion soup mix
1 1/2 cups beef broth
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup seasoned croutons
1 cup shredded swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and dump into a 9x9 dish.

Melt butter in dutch oven or large skillet. Add onion, steak, and onion soup mix. Cook until onions are tender and meat is brown on all sides. Pour over noodles.

In same dutch oven or skillet that meat was cooked in, boil 1 cup of the beef broth.

Whisk flour into remaining beef broth and pour into boiling broth. Stir until thickened.

Add rosemary, salt and pepper.

Pour over meat and noodles. Stir. Top with croutons and cheese.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.


Oh yeah, you know how I was feeling all negative and down and stuff? Well, it was the weirdest thing, but it turns out it was my glasses. Weird, I know. I usually only wear my glasses for a few hours at a time, but as soon as I noticed Joseph's eyes getting cruddy, I took my contacts out and started wearing my glasses. I wore them until Wednesday. I was fine Wednesday morning and then after a few hours of being up, I just felt like I was in a rage. I was sooooo irritable. And again, something just didn't feel right. I don't know if I have some sort of pressure point behind my ears that makes me feel that way or what, but as soon as I put my contacts back in, I felt better. I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier as this sometimes happens when I wear sunglasses all day and I have to adjust the ear pieces slightly and I feel better. I know....I'm a weirdo.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Positivity....or lack thereof...

I've been in a funk today. Why? I have no clue. I wish I knew. It could be the fact that after FINALLY getting over my bronchitis (and, as I found out from a call from my doctor on Friday, Strep), Joseph came down with pinkeye Sunday evening. So far, I'm in the clear, and I REALLY hope I stay that way.

Oh, and Michael is out of town...AGAIN.

So, maybe I'm just feeling a bit overwhelmed. You know, my hat is off to single moms. I don't know how you do it.

In birthday news, I sent out the invites today! YAY! I have been browsing cake decorating ideas and think I have a design in my head. I can't believe it's only 2 weeks until his birthday! Where did the year go?

Anyway, I am hoping I can be more positive tomorrow. At least a bit more relaxed. I just feel like something is wrong....I'm jittery and anxious and I just can't put my finger on why I feel this way. Maybe it's the's always good to blame the weather.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm still kicking!

Just wanted to do a quick post to say that I am still alive and kicking!

I went to the doctor on Monday and was told that I have bronchitis. It was getting dangerously close to becoming pneumonia so that was not good. I got some drugs and got on the road to recovery! I still have a little trouble breathing if I exert myself, but other than that and a little coughing, I'm good as gold! :)

I have been a bit preoccupied with getting stuff ready for the Munchkin's first birthday my...has it really been a year? And is it really March? Where did February go?

But anyway, I got the invitations finished tonight so that is a huge load off! I now need to get to designing the cake! I will post pics of the invites once I've sent them and they have been received by those invited so they will be surprised when they open them and not see them here first!

Hope everyone is having a lovely week!