Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Perfect Party Cake with fresh Berries......

This week's TWD comes to us from "Mix,mix....Stir,stir by Carol". She has a interesting story about how she transported her cake to Las Vegas. We love coconut here at our house, and the use of fresh strawberries.....made it fresh and yummy!

I changed the recipe up a bit, by adding more lemon extract and a little yellow food coloring. And then .....instead of raspberry preserves, I used fresh sliced strawberries which I had on hand. And I also baked it into 3 cake pans, so I wouldn't have to slice 2 in half.


It was so light a delicious. You can find the recipe on Carol's blog here or go to Amazon and order up Dorie's book..."Baking from my Home to Yours". It is so worth it!

We give this 5 Berries,
for a berry delish cake!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

8th Grade Graduation and After Party....

Eighth grade graduation finally happened this week. Our oldest daughter going on to High School....time goes by so fast. It was only April when I started to hear how everyone was getting this dress and these shoes for graduation. And I was thinking ....Is this a Jr. Prom, or what?

But, I gave in and off to Kohl's we went to look for a dress. I told her the limit was $25 or less, since she would probably only wear it one night. We were lucky to find many dresses in the girls section 50% off and a 20% off coupon I had received in the mail, yea! I love Kohl's for sending out those special coupons. I never go unless I have one. I was glad of her choice, and I never saw anyone with the same one on. So that was a plus too!

The graduation wasn't so bad. They hustled all 370+ kids through pretty good. And the speaker was a very funny teacher, who just happened to be a Simpson's Fan. So the kids could really relate to his satire. After the kids filed out the parents followed down to the Cafeteria to check out the decor. I had been there in the first half of the day to help out. The committee had done such a well thought out plan.




They had a little cafe in the corner for food and drinks. And also provided a smoothie bar, which was yummy!


All around the cafeteria were these over-sized Nanos,
with clips of pictures and videos running all night.




They had every color....so cool!




I especially liked this one!

Then on all the walls there were silhouettes from the Ipod ads.


Showing young people doing things like Ballet!


Then there were several Ipods and Iphones hanging from the ceiling.
Along with application icons for games and such.


There was also a set up to perform in a mock lip-sync band if you wanted.

Or do some shadow box dancing on either side of the DJ,
just like on Regis and Kelly.....
My daughter said it was a great time once they finally got the parents out.
It took forever to usher 700 plus people out of there,
before they could even get the party started.
And unfortunately it ended at ten.
They really should have said 11,
because they also gave out yearbooks to sign.
All and all, what a Great Party for 8th Grade!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP.....The Prince of Pop

So sad to here of the passing of the Prince of Pop.
I grew up with the Jackson 5, and then onto MTV and
THRILLER!
What an amazing singer songwriter, whose life will
be remembered forever......
He will truly be missed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rain, Rain, go away..Come again another Day!

At least something is enjoying this week of rain we have been having.
Weatherman says look forward to more throughout the weekend...
Alas, what a not so great, start to summer vacation.

Me, I'm looking forward to a little sunshine.
I think we're stuck in April...
with this 60 degree weather.


Could somebody please inform Mother Nature,
that this is the first week of Summer, not Spring!



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday's with Dorie...A rewind -Caramel Heath Bars...

With two graduations back to back...8th grade and Preschool....

Things have been super hectic and I just didn't have time to bake this weeks selection of Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise. Selected by Andrea of Andrea in the Kitchen, a baker from the Land Down Under.
Please bop over to her blog to see what this delicious dessert is all about.
Instead I chose to do a rewind, because I was baking for the 8th grade graduation. And I thought these Heath Bar Cookies from Dorie's book would be a nice addition to the festivities. And they sure were a hit!




This recipe chosen by Whitney from

"What's left on the Table",
was real simple. The recipe can be found on pages 112-113 in Dorie's Baking Book or here on Whitney's blog. It is basically a sugar shortbread bottom, that caramelizes, with a chocolate toffee top. I added coconut, giving it the taste of a candy bar. I also cut it into lengthy bars for eating or dipping into coffee. Dorie shows these made into ice cream bars, but I found that they were a little too crunchy for that. The bottom may have to be under baked to make them softer.


I must say, these were a wonderful great treat. Something I would make again, but just under cook the bottom so that it is easier to cut. Also the Heath bits may be a little pricey and harder to find.


We give this recipe 4 glasses, for utter goodness!


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Gift for a Great Teacher!


As you know, the end of the school year is busy. Projects to finish, parties to go to, and gifts to get together to give to teachers. I always try to think of something different and special to give to our teachers, because being a former teacher, I know how hard they work.

The teachers that my children have had, have all been very special. Usually, I center my gift around some type of food item. Like a cake pop bouquet or a tray of assorted goodies. But, for this one teacher, that my son had this year....I knew I would have to think of something very special. She definitely went beyond her call of duty.

Mrs. L is a wonderful third grade teacher at his school. She gives her grandmotherly love to each and every student. She also takes the time to call you, and let you know how your child is doing in class. My 3rd grader struggles with ADD, and needs that special someone to look out for him as an advocate. She would take the time to update me on his good days and bad days...so to speak. She would even take the time out of her weekend to get a hold of me. I am thankful for these calls. It kept me "in the know" to what was happening in class.




This is why I felt it fitting to give her a Reading Chair. She has a love for books and a love for gardening. Why not mix the two.... I took a plain pale yellow resin Adirondack Chair (my favorite), that I found at my local ACE Hardware. And I painted a pretty garden with acrylic paint that I had on hand. I then filled in the details with Sharpie markers. And then finished with a few layers of Matte Clear Protective spray.

I chose the color scheme from the fabric that I had on hand, that I proceeded to make the cushion out of. I always like to base my painting on a color combinations found in fabrics or rugs. I felt that the chair came out wonderful. And I am so pleased with the colors and theme that I chose. When I delivered it today, she was very surprised at her new chair. She said she would use it in her classroom, when she reads to her students. What a great idea!

I even decided to add on to the legs and the front. I thought it really complimented it.



Children are Flowers in Life's Garden,
they are nutured and tended to,
as they grow into beautiful people.....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

To All the Dads out there...
Happy Father's Day!


I've been so busy here getting ready for the end of the school year.
Making teacher's gifts, end of the year parties,
and 8th Grade Graduation.
Hopefully the end is in sight.
I've decided to make Father's Day just like any other.
Heck I worked all day on Mother's Day,
and then came home to make dinner!

I always feel like I'm Lois from Malcolm in the Middle.
So Hal, Make your own dinner!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are Women Born this Way?

I was recently sent this cute little video,
and I thought it fitting for my Wordless Wednesday.
I think someone is getting her training early.....
and she is explaining the "Honey Do" List!!
Check it Out!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Peaches 'n' Cream with Honey

Tuesdays with Dorie again..... my how the time goes by so fast! Almost the end of school, which means the start of summer. Yea!!!! This week's selection is Honey and Peach Ice Cream, chosen by Tommi of Brown Interior. I don't know about other parts of the country, but our peaches are not ready for the picking here in the Northeast. They did have a nice selection at the grocery though. So, I guess that will have to do....

I decided to change mine up a bit, by adding cinnamon and ginger to the cream mixture. Then I served it up with some molasses-ginger cookies....my favorite. It was delicious for sure. I'm glad it was warm out today, because I enjoyed the ice cream even more. Can't wait to pick my own peaches at the orchard.




If you do not own a ice cream maker. I have heard that you can use one large coffee tin, and one small coffee tin. In the small one put your mixture with the top on, then place in the large tin. Add ice and kosher salt around the sides then put top on. And shake ,rattle, and roll for about 30 minutes. Place in freezer to finish.
Doesn't this sound like something for the kids to experiment with this summer. Looks like I'll be saving up some coffee cans. Then I'll post and let you know how it goes. For this peachy recipe check out Tommi's blog HERE. Or go out and buy this amazing book "Baking from My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan.
We give this Ice Cream 5 Peaches,
for Peacholicious Goodness!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spaghetti Pie..We Love It!


Yes, This is Spaghetti Pie made in a casserole dish, because a pie pan's worth would not be enough for my family. This recipe is so easy and delicious. Just like lasagna, but will get the kids to eat it. What kid doesn't like spaghetti, right?
With this particular pie, I had some zucchini left over, so I sliced it thin and put it in the middle. And boy was it good...So here is the recipe. And if you cut it in half it would make 1 pie shell worth. Otherwise this is the amount for a casserole. And if you don't want to go to the trouble of making your own sauce with beef, just use your favorite jar of spaghetti sauce. (I won't tell..LOL)

INGREDIENTS -
1 pkg. (12 oz.) vermicelli
3 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. Parmesan
2 eggs, beaten
-------------
1/2 c. low-fat sour cream
1 c. mozzarella cheese (split in half)
--------------
1 1/2 lb. ground meat
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. bell pepper, chopped
1 can (12 oz.) stewed tomato
1 (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic salt

DIRECTIONS -
**Cook vermicelli according to directions. Stir butter and Parmesan into hot vermicelli. Add eggs and stir well. Spoon into casserole dish which has been sprayed.

**Brown beef with onion and bell pepper. Drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings.

**Spread sour cream evenly over pie shell. Sprinkle with half of the Mozzarella cheese.

**Spread on Beef mixture. Top with any veggies you may want such as mushrooms, olives.

**Sprinkle with remaining Mozzarella Cheese.

**Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

Serves 8 or more.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Hooked on Swap Shop Finds....


You probably know by now that we're pretty thrifty here at our house. Recycle and re-use is what it's all about. Always on the look out for bargains and things that we can use. And the two most popular spots for us, is the Salvation Army and the local Swap Shop.

The Swap Shop is located at our town dump. Our town doesn't have the usual trash pick-up. Your not allowed to leave your trash out next to the road, like in other towns. You either pay to be a member of the town dump or pay and have someone come to your house, go into your garage, or the back of your house and get your trash to take to the town dump. The yearly cost of the dump membership is $175. Which means you can go 5 days a week, Tues. thur Sat. There is recycling for paper....glass...metal...appliances ....clothing....and even compost. But the best part are the finds in the Swap Shop!

Once you find your first treasure, you are hooked. We just can't drive to the dump with out stopping. We have found many a thing at the SS. Just to name a few----dressers, rollerblades, skis, ice skates, musical equipment, golf clubs, bikes and more bikes. These stain glass windows were found by my husband as they were just taking them out of their truck to put in the SS. They had just come out of a church that was being renovated.

They are very unusual stained glass and stained stenciling mixed art. They measured 28 x 56, a pretty good size. He had brought home 6 of these wonders, but what would we do with all of these. We decided they would go right to Craigslist of course!! We thought they would make good art work as a light box, perhaps on the wall behind a couch....We had many offers, and one man went through the history of them. Late 1890's, and he explained how they were made.

We ended up saving one, and the other 5 went to a couple in a loft in Boston. They had plans of making a room divider and hanging these down some how, with back light. This wasn't are only sale we have recycled from the SS. There was a time last fall when we turned around items onto Craigslist almost everyday. In fact today, my husband sold a set of drum symbol stands tonight on Craigslist, that he found on Tuesday. I guess you can say "I'm Hooked on the Swap Shop!"



To see what others are hooked on check out


or
(Because this stain glass is very fashionable)

or
(Isn't life beautiful when you can recycle and resell?)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday Wow!

This is a picture of a beautiful home close by up for sale a little over 2 million. The house is decorated in this pastel like theme. A beautiful blue living room , and all white kitchen, and then you follow the foyer to the family room.... And what jumps out at you from above, but a big Bison head.

I thought it was a little strange, and it didn't really go with the decor. Kind of left me speechless.....I'm sure Julia at Hooked on Houses would love this one! LOL


So, What do you think?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parisan Apple Tart Anyone???

This week's dessert chosen by Jessica of My Baking Heart, is the Parisian Apple Tartlet (pg. 319) from the book--- Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.


This is a super easy elegant dessert if you have puff pastry on hand. Dorie says it is best though, if you search out for the all butter version of puff pastry available at specialty shops and maybe even Trader Joe's. Otherwise, you can find a Pepperidge Farm Brand in your grocer's freezer. Or if you have a lot of time on your hands......make your own. I have my own many times in the past. And believe me when I say it is time consuming....roll, fold... roll, fold, refrigerate...repeat 4 or 5 more times. Best if rolled with a professional sheeter machine. And of course not everyone owns those.

I decided to cut mine into squares not circles and crisscross them. The slice the apple in lay it in. Still using the brown sugar. Then finishing it off with a caramelized sugar syrup and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Check out Jessica's blog for further fruit choices and the recipe here.




We give this 5 glasses of milk,
for udder goodness!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Teacher's end of the year gift.....



Well, it is that time of year again, at least for us in the Northeast . And I need to get together some teacher's gifts. There are so many wonderful women who are in my children's life, who really care about them. I am currently working on a few crafty items, that I will be posting soon. . I thought I would share this great one that you can do with a clipboard from the Dollar Tree.


I got the idea from that cute online craft market http://www.etsy.com/ . They have some great ideas, a lot of creative people just doing their thing. I have been tempted to put things on there, we will soon see.... Projects like these make me want to get back into scrapbooking more often. These are so easy if you have scrapbooking supplies around. I picked the clip boards up at the Dollar store, and had everything else on hand. Just cut out paper and apply "Mod Podge" to both the clipboard and the back of the paper when applying. After affixing everything cover with 3 coats of the "MP", to seal. They make great gifts for teachers, coaches, GS leaders, friends, etc.


Aren't they the Cutest!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cake Doctor.....

I have been super, super busy these days with the end of the school year coming to a close. Not until the 22nd, yuk! I didn't have time to jump in on my usual Hooked on Fridays with Julia. Today was food prepping with the Girl Scout Cadets. They are serving food at a Soup Kitchen tomorrow for dinner. I showed them how to make my chicken-broccoli-ziti bake. That along with fruit salad, toss salad, Italian bread, and this wonderful moist "Darn Good Chocolate Cake". They went through this great cake book by the Cake Doctor...Anne Byrn. If you don't already have this book, it is a keeper. I know a lot of you will say "It's not made from scratch", but when your short on time, or have 8 girls putting together a large party. This book comes in handy. She has also added another 3 books to her offerings.

This project is one of many service project the girls do throughout the years. The girls set the menu, I shopped for the groceries (because today was also Town Day set up), and then they all assembled to produce the final results. They were quite the worker bees. They were cutting away at all those veggies and fruit. Within an hour and a half they were done with dinner for 35+ which they will bake off, deliver, and serve tomorrow. What an accomplishment!

The following is the recipe of the cake they will be serving.
I made one beforehand for them to have as a snack.



Darn Good Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
1 package plain devil’s food or dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1 package (3.9 oz) chocolate instant pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
½ cup warm water
½ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
**Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan
with vegetable spray and set aside.

**Mix together the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, warm water and oil in a large mixing bowl. Blend well.

**Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and smooth out the top.

**Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.

**Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes then invert it onto your serving platter. Best if served while warm.
Enjoy with a nice big glass of milk!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cinnamon Squares

Bold
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Cinnamon Squares, was selected by Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. Check out Tracey’s blog for the complete recipe. At first I thought that this was a bar cookie, but it is actually a coffee cake. The batter is heavily flavored with cinnamon and has a ribbon of chocolate in the middle of the cake. It also has a nice addition of powdered espresso, which is in a lot of Dorie's recipes.

I thought the batter was tasty, and perhaps would change it up and do berries in the middle. This would make the cake more moist. I would subtract the frosting on top and add on powdered sugar or strusel topping. The batter is easy to make, no mixer involved. Just mix by hand in a large bowl. It does take longer than I thought to bake, about 40 minutes.

We give this cake 4 glasses of milk,
for udder goodness!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Who Is Suzy Homemaker????


A while back, I came across the cutest ad, which reminded me again about those stoves that I have in storage right now. It also reminded me of the good times with friends when I was about 8 or so, baking with the Easy Bake Oven. They came with little cake mixes and frosting, and my friends and I would have little tea parties with our dolls.
Things are different now, I never hear of kids using the EasyBake, either they are too busy, or they are now working with Mom in the kitchen and doing it the big kid way. That's how it is around our house the kids always want to help out when I am in the kitchen, especially the 5 year old. He loves to lick the bowl.
Wasn't that your favorite part too, or is it still?
So to answer that question, "Who is Suzy Homemaker"? When I was in high school I took 4 years of Home Ec, the last two were in a class by myself with the teacher, because they didn't have level 3 and 4. My friends would tease me and call me Suzy Homemaker or Betty Crocker. At the end of that 4 years, at class night, I was awarded the Homemaking award, which they hadn't given out in years.
Well, today's Suzy is a dying breed of woman which we thought was lost, but may be coming back. With dual incomes needed to make the mortgage payments now a days, Suzy has been lost for awhile. But, I see that on the weekends she is reborn. Woman are taking that time to do home cooking and working on new hobbies. I even see quilting coming back in style....some say it never went out.
With the innovative shows on HGTV and FOOD NETWORK, it has brought back homemaking to the home, not only for women , but for men too! So maybe if there isn't a Suzy among you, maybe there is a SAM! In any case, with either men or women, homemaking is coming back! And coming on strong!
So let's petition for Home-Ec to come back in school with Cooking, Home Budgeting, Home Decorating, and Gardening. This may not be what Colleges are looking for on a transcript, but they are basic essential needs to be out in the world......