Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Little Garden: Peas!

Just wanted to give you a little update on our garden!  The lettuce is still yielding yummy salads and the newest addition to our dinner plates is now:  peas!!  Cool huh?  I'm pretty excited about these!  Can't wait for tomatoes and more in the coming months! :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Lavender Infused Buttercream

 So I've had this idea for a while now, and finally got motivation to put it into action today when I baked some treats for a staff meeting.  :)  And it turned out really well, so I am SUPER excited to share this with you!  I still used my favorite cupcake recipe which you can find here. (Best Loved Chocolate Cake by BHG)  Then I made this amazingly addictive, delicate lavender infused buttercream.  It's seriously good.  And I don't even like lavendar typically.  I don't even like floral anything typically.  (Perfumes, soaps, teas, etc..)  But this is good.  No, it's not good, it's great!  :)
 I picked up a couple of new jumbo tips for cake decorating and while I was at the store I saw these...and had to get them.  Aren't they so sophisticated and cute?!?    Ok, now I will really get on to the recipe....

This will frost about 18 cupcakes, so double if you need more.
Lavender Infused Buttercream:
1/2 c. Shortening*
1/4 c. Lavender Infused Water, strained**
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
4-5 c. Powdered  Sugar (Depending on your climate AND desired consistency.)

* I suppose you could use butter, but I like the pure white the shortening gives it...
** Two prep methods for lavender infusion.  Hot and Cold.  Hot method: pour 1/4 boiling water over 1 T. lavender and steep for 15 minutes.  Cold method: Soak 1 T. lavender in 1/4 c. room temperature water for 3-4 hours.  (Food grade or tea grade lavender)

1.  Whip up shortening on high until fluffy.
2.  Add in strained lavender infused water and beat until fluffy.
3.  Mix in granulated sugar.
4.  Slowly add powdered sugar in by the 1/2 cup until it is to your desired consistency.  (I prefer mine on the stiffer side when I am going to pipe on frosting, and a little less stiff when I am spreading it.)
5.  Add in coloring if you'd like.  Since it's lavender flavored I thought I'd add a touch of purple to make it lavender, lavender frosting. :)
6.  Chill for at least 10 minutes or so before frosting your cake/cupcakes.
I'm still perfecting my technique (obviously) but this link that I saw on pinterest is super helpful.  It tells about a few basic frosting techniques and tips.  So I thought I'd pass it along!  And be sure to enjoy these yummy cupcakes.  I know I will...  :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Our Easter Dinner 2012

Happy Easter!  Hope you all are getting to enjoy Resurrection Sunday with your family and/or friends!  Since we couldn't spend our with family, we had a couple of friends over for an Easter Dinner after Church.  We ate  food, talked and also played some Pictionary Man, so it was a great time had by all.  Here's what I served...
 You also get a glimpse into my (rather cluttered but it works) kitchen and, for today, buffet line.
 Roasted veggies.  (Summer squash, Zucchini, Onions, Carrots and Garlic with a ~ 1t. EVOO drizzled over then and sprinkled with touch of 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joes.  Roasted for ~1 hour at 375 degrees.)
 Hasselback Potatoes (although I baked these for 1 hr. at 375 today instead of microwaving them like my recipe), and Baked Chicken breasts with 21 Seasoning Salute.
 7 Layer Salad.  (Secret family recipe.  Soooo good.  I can hardly ever get enough!  In fact, I'm gonna go have some more...)
 Fresh Squeezed Lemonade in my new Mason Jar Style Drink Dispenser from World Market.  (You can see it here.)  I'm a little nervous abotu the spout because it's just plastic, but hopefully it will be fine.  Love the look, love the glass, loved the price and had been eyeing them elsewhere in the past...
I also served Hot Cross Buns (what Easter Dinner is complete without them?) and a Trifle of layered homemade chocolate cake, strawberries and cool whip (forgot to get a pic of it though.)  Oh and I made a sugar egg this year, as pictured above, a couple weeks ago.  I realized it wasn't nearly as fun to make them without my Mom though. :(

We had a great morning at Church celebrating the fact that He is risen and a good lunch with friends.  Hope you all are having a happy Easter too!  :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Craft, Poem and Song

Since Easter is only a few days away, I thought I'd share an activity and song I came up with for my preschool choir that I lead at Church.  This poem is one you can find many versions of online.  It's usually called something like "jelly bean poem" or "jelly bean prayer".  Here instead of jelly beans I used music notes, since it's for my little choir.  And I made up a coloring sheet/craft to go with it.  You can get the plain one below, this is just an example of what some of my kids did with it tonight.  (Although, theirs were colored with crayons not the get the idea though!:)

I like the poem so much that I wanted to set it to some music, and I figured out that it goes really well with "Doe a Deer" from Sound of Music.  (That I conveniently had just taught my choir last week!)  So they caught on to this really fast tonight!  I'll write it out below, so you get a better idea of how it goes.  :)  If you have any questions let me know!

Red is for the blood He gave.
(Do a deer a female deer.)

Green is for the grass made.
(Re a drop of golden sun.)

Yellow is for the sun so bright.
(Mi a name I call myself.)

Orange is for the edge of night.
(Fa a long, long way to run.)

Black is for the sins we made.
(So a needle pulling thread.)

White is for the grace He gave.
(La a note to follow so.)

Purple for His hour of sorrow.
(Ti a drink with jam and bread.)

Pink is for a new tomorrow. (to-mo-ro-o-ow)
(That will bring us back to do-oh-oh-oh)

Pretty catchy huh?  I really like it, and it went over really well with my 4-6 year olds.  So I hope you and yours enjoy it too.  Here's the printable coloring sheet/craft:

Another example of one:

Enjoy!  And Happy Easter!  :)

My little garden

Well it's sure been a mild winter, and now spring here in NC.  Which makes me a little concerned about what this summer may bring (in terms of heat).  But it makes me excited because we've been able to eat fruits of our labor in a our little garden already! :)  Here are some pics of our growing little place...

 The whole "container garden" as of now.  We still have a couple of plants (well seedlings) in a our little greenhouse inside waiting to get bigger before being planted outside.
 Our green beans are making their way up the stakes.  So cool huh?  It amuses me...although sometimes they get confused and get wrapped around the little fencing we have...then I have to gently unwind and place them on the stakes.
 Here you can see our mint plant on the left, peas in the back, part of the pot of the tomato on the right and the green beans in the front center.
 This year we decided to get a strawberry plant, and instead of getting a little one, we kind of splurged and got this big one that was already in a  hanging basket.  And as you can see it's already bearing some fruit!  Yummy!  :)
The layout again with some labels.  Our lettuce has really taken off and we've gotten several dinner salads out of it so far.  Hope it continues for a while...

Well, just thought I'd give you an update on the progess of our garden (or more like gardneing attempts.)  Hope you have a great week!  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in the Dallas area after all that destruction.

Cinnamon Apple Orange Dessert Pizza

May sound like a random combo, but it's one of my very favorite ones.  This is pretty simple and super delicious for a dessert!  :)

Pizza Dough (homemade or store-bought)
Apples (finely diced, 1 apple for small pizza, 2 for medium, 3 for large)
Sugar (2 T for every apple used)
Cinnamon (1/2 t for every apple, high quality is best, I used Vietnamese Saigon from Savory Spice Shop)
Orange Zest (as much as you'd like, or about zest from 1 orange for every 2 apples used)

1.  Spread out pizza dough on pan or cast iron skillet. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Cook diced apples in a a microwave safe container with 2 T of water per apple until tender.  Or about 2 minutes per apple.  Drain water.
3.  Spread cooked apples over pizza dough.  Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. (like below)

4.  Bake in 400 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes or until the crust is done.
Serve warm and enjoy!*
Optional to drizzle simple icing over slices before serving.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Great Northern Bean Soup

1 lb Great Northern Beans, dry *
8c. Water
2 Chicken (or Veg) Bouillon Cubes
2 Onions, finely diced
1 t. Garlic Powder
1 Bay Leaf
Crispy Bacon as garnish, if desired (Turkey bacon works really well, I just fooled my hubby with it!:)

*Either soak beans overnight or bring them to a boil in 8 c. of water and then take off the heat and let soak for 1 hour.

1.  Combine 8 c. water, soaked beans, bouillon, onions, garlic powder and bay leaf in large pot.  Bring to boil, then let simmer for 1 hour covered and 30 minutes uncovered.
2. Serve hot, with bacon if desired.
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