Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The last time I made Tiramisu was about 20 years ago.  So, you can imagine the puzzled look on my kids' face when I called out, "Who wants to help make Tiramisu for our Valentine dinner dessert??"  They wouldn't admit it, but even as they roll their eyes, they delight in the idea of what crazy food mom might be whipping up in the kitchen tonight!  Ethan rolled up his sleeves to help out while Elsie decided to make her own Valentine creation.

The 10-year-old toasting almonds resulted in some pretty, well, toasted, nuts -- but they worked.  The mascarpone cheese availability was nonexistent in our teeny-tiny town, so we improvised with a very similar substitution of cream cheese, sour cream and whipping cream. I love substitutions in general.  Sometimes you end up with something far better than the original product.  Plus, there's nothing better than the feeling of resourcefulness!!  Sometimes when I finish making a recipe, I look back through and am surprised to find I have used virtually nothing that the recipe actually called for.  Those of you who cook the same way know the obvious downfall of this method--you will never recreate the same amazing dish twice!

Arranging lady fingers would have been a great project for any age. Who doesn't like lining things up? Sprinkling the cocoa powder was another bit of fun--which ultimately led to some vacuuming.  But, I think nearly everything leads to vacuuming it seems.

So, now the wait.  Tiramisu needs to sit, and get happy.  And, we're hoping in about a day, we're going to sit, with it, and get happy.

Meanwhile, Elsie was constructing some Valentine joy for her classmates.  This cake recipe has been enjoyed by our family for many years and it's always a hit!  The cake is black devils food cake with a very light egg white frosting.  Elsie decided the frosting should be pink for the occasion.  There is truly no "whippier" frosting than this one.  I am eager to hear how cutting this beauty into 24 pieces went! There's not much messier than this frosting either!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Practicing for Valentine's Day

It was my daughter Anna's half birthday last week, so we had a great excuse to bake!  We decided to make uber-girly, pink mini-cupcakes to share with her classmates {Yes, lucky for us, they still allow home-baked goods at her small school!}

You may remember from my previous birthday cake posts, that I am a one-cake wonder.  So of course, we made mom's chocolate devil's food cake recipe with fluffy white pink frosting.  The recipe for the cake and frosting are on the previous post, but here's few things I forgot to mention the first time.

I buy a lot of generic brands, but when it comes to cocoa powder, I always stick with Hershey's.  Spend the money.  Don't mess with chocolate!

Same story with the coffee.  I've used everything from Sanka to Starbucks in this cake, and better coffee really does make a tastier cake.

Be careful when baking small cupcakes (mini-muffin size).  The baking time was about half. 

Each batch took about 8-9 minutes to bake.

Yummm, pink.  Doesn't pink just look more delicious than white?  Also, even if you used vanilla-flavored corn syrup, add extra vanilla. 

Don't hold back on the sprinkles.  You can never have too many.

And last, but not least, always recruit help with the cleanup!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Lunch Containers

I'm always looking for new and improved lunch box containers {since I'm packing three school lunches per day, four days per week}.   Around Christmas time, I noticed that Old Navy {of all places} started selling lunch containers.

They are available in a few different configurations, but the two that I was most excited about were the sandwich size and the dual storage snack box.  The sandwich size is compact, so it doesn't take up the whole lunch bag.  The snap-lock sides of all the containers are easy for small fingers to open and close. 

The dual-compartment snack container is great for all the small things I like to add to lunches.

I've been using these now for a few weeks, and so far I have been able to put something like veggie dip on one side and something dry like crackers on the other side without anything leaking from one side into the other.