Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hot Chocolate Cake



This cake went for $85 at a recent auction, so apparently it was a hit and now everyone wants the recipe.  Here it is!

Homemade Marshmallows: (adapted from Martha Stewart)

INGREDIENTS:

    • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
    • 4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 large egg whites

    • DIRECTIONS:
    • Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and set aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring; let mixture come to a boil. Raise heat to medium-high; cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer.

    • Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture over a pan of simmering water; whisk constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla extract; set aside

    • Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Whisk gelatin mixture into sugar mixture; with mixer running, gradually add to egg whites. Mix on high speed until very thick, 12 to 15 minutes

    • Pour mixture into lined pan. Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Cut into squares using a sharp knife dipped into hot water with each slice. 

Hot Chocolate Cake: (adapted from Paula Dean)

INGREDIENTS:
1 1⁄2 cups butter, softened
2 1⁄4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk
1 (1-ounce) package hot cocoa mix (I use Starbuck's dark chocolate)
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 3 (8-inch) cake pans with nonstick baking spray with flour.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour and next four ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and cocoa mix until smooth.
4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Pour mixture into prepared pans.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. TIP: Put cakes wrapped in plastic wrap in fridge until ready to frost. 

Marshmallow Cream Filling: 
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBS whole milk
1 (7oz) container of marshmallow cream
DIRECTIONS:
Mix butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add milk and marshmallow cream and beat until smooth.

Hot Chocolate Frosting:
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 packet dry hot chocolate mix (Starbuck's dark hot chocolate recommended)
1/3 cup whole milk 
DIRECTIONS:
In a small sauce[am combine hot chocolate mix and whole milk.  Heat over medium heat while stirring to dissolve.  Set aside.  
In a large mixing bowl cream butter until smooth. Add in powdered sugar and mix until combined (it will be really dry).  Turn mixer to low and gradually pour in the hot chocolate mixture.  Beat until light and fluffy, scraping down sides to mix well. More milk or powdered sugar can be added if it's too stiff.  You want a fluffy frosting but not too creamy. 

INSTRUCTIONS TO PUT TOGETHER CAKE:
After the cakes are chilled, place one on a cake stand and slide bits of parchment paper around the bottom edge (these are to pull out at the end so no frosting gets on the stand). Level the top of it with a serrated knife if needed and then place a large dollop or two of marshmallow cream.  Spread a thick layer only until there is 1/2 inch of cake visible on the edge, because the top layer will squeeze more out when it sits on top.  Place the 2nd layer of cake on top and repeat with marshmallow cream.  Put on top layer. Put a dowel in the center of the cake (cut to the level of the top) to keep the cake layers in place.  Basically you will have 3 cake layers, 2 layers of filling. 
Begin frosting with hot chocolate frosting from the top down to the edge and smooth out all around the sides.  Remove parchment paper bits from under the cake to reveal a smooth frosting finish on bottom edge. 
Stack square marshmallows and layer on top of cake (they are sticky so they should stay).  Sprinkle with hot chocolate mix through a sieve and add a drinking straw for fun. 
TIP: Make the cakes and the marshmallows the night before. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween: Hunger Games vs. Star Wars

Kai was a Jedi (Obi-Wan Kenobi, I think) and Brianna was Katniss Everdeen.  The amount of compliments she got all night was insane.  So much, in fact, that Kai said, "My costume sucks!" in response to all the attention on her.

My poor children.  Sometimes I think they can just be TOO cool for their own good, you know? 

Brianna's Outfit
Bow and Arrow: My Brother
Shoes: Ross
Jacket: Thrift Store
MockingJay pin: Christmas gift last year
Pants: Wal-mart
Good Looks: Mom

Kai's Outfit
Target. 








Monday, September 16, 2013

Heading to Utah and Hawaii for photo sessions

I'm heading to SLC, Utah on October 18th-20th for family photo sessions.  I'd love to take your picture!  I'm just dying to capture those Fall Mountain colors.

I'm also heading to Oahu, Hawaii and am available for photo sessions November 8th-9th.  I'd love to take your picture there, too:)  

And because this photo session just pulls on this Mama's heart strings...


I feel so blessed to have photographed this twin brother and sister.  This type of love works MIRACLES. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How To Forget Your Kid's First Day Of School

I posted this on Facebook, but because I got such a following of laughing hysteria I figured it was blog worthy, too. 

 2nd Grade


HOW TO FORGET YOUR KID'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL:


1. Record on your calendar 3 months in advance that your daughter will be starting school on the 3rd, and your son will be starting school on the 4th. Since she is now in middle school, they have the 6th graders go a day early in order to adjust and then bring the 7th-8th graders the next day. So that means that elementary school starts that next day, too. It only makes sense.

2. Take daughter to school, lament that you can't get a picture with both kids together since they start school on different days. Then go home, take an extra hour to get ready for work and let son lounge in his pajamas a bit longer. Then bring son to work with you since you no longer have a babysitter for the day and give him your phone to play games while you work.

3. Take a quick Facebook status update break and suddenly see a friend post a photo of her kids back-to-school-pose. Think, "She must have forgotten it's TOMORROW and she is going to show up to an empty school." (Actually think this thought. No joke) THEN suddenly think, "There is no way that she would have gotten the day wrong and quickly Google the school start date." See SEPTEMBER 3RD, 2013 stare back at you. SCREAM.

4. Panic. Run home, comb his hair, pick out better clothes, find clean socks, can't find clean socks, put on dirty socks, throw backpack at son and race out the door. In the meantime, call husband and sob uncontrollably about how you are a horrible mother...so much that he cannot actually understand what you are saying and believes someone has died.

5. Feel like the drive takes 2x as long as normal. Park car. Check time. 2 hours late. Take quick picture of kid. Rush into office. Fill out tardy slip. Apologize profusely to the office and say something like,"SO...it was the funniest thing......" as you flip your hair in embarrassment. Take him to see his teacher who has already started teaching and interrupt to bring in her new student. Smile, sneak out, and cringe as you collapse in your car KNOWING that this was one of your biggest fails.

This Mom Gig. Sometimes it's harder than it looks.




6th Grade

Monday, August 26, 2013

Before August Ends

I wanted to post at least one picture before I become the worst blogger ever.   


He said, "Look, Mom!  I made Lego Wonder Woman into a Photographer like you!" 


Monday, July 22, 2013

Clam'n around

I've been itch'n to write a blog post.  Partly because my blog just seems lonely and the partly because wellllll...I used to write and I miss my own little updates.

Summer is 1/2 way over and I can't help but say Horray because this Summer has been good to us.  The weather in Seattle has been dreamy and I feel like we have done so many fun things which is usually so hard to feel when you are a working parent.  I threw the kids into day camp this year and it was the best decision ever (even if it does cost an arm and a leg).  The mom guilt is no longer--knowing that they aren't sitting on their bums playing video games.  Instead they are swimming and playing and field-tripping and relishing in the fun sun.   

Twice in the past week we have gone oyster and clam digging.  If you have never done it, you are missing out!  There is seriously nothing better than digging clams with your bare hands, and then cooking clam chowder.  It should be on the list of things to do before you die.  

My MIL and niece came for a visit last week and it went swimmingly--like how they took care of my kids went swimming and stuff.  But what I enjoyed most was how my 13 year old niece just really loved being here.  We wanted to show her everything--the fresh markets, the good food, the beautiful views and weather and it made me really grateful to live here.    


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

We are a fun family and a colorful 5k

Sometimes fun families do fun things like run totally rad 5k's.  Or walk part of them because you have a 7 year old for gosh sakes.  Or whatever.

The Color Me Rad 5K Run was just such an event for us. 

Also, my kids came home from school saying that no one knew what the word RAD meant.  WHAT??? 

We are the cool colorful family in these photos in case you were wondering....


















 It was so dang fun.  



+++++

Deep Thought:

Sometimes, when you are awfully low, and your dog feels like nothing but a burden...your friend can say something like, "I hate your dog"...and your heart will swell with gratitude for her. 

You see, a friend that can hate your dog with you is a friend for life.  



Thursday, May 30, 2013

My son doesn't do his homework and I am totally ok with that

(recent trip to the Georgia Aquarium.  Total awesomeness.)

School is almost out.  What this means for me is:

1) Now I have to figure out how to entertain my kids since I have a job besides my mom-job and 
2) YES!  No more homework.

You see, it is time that I make a public confession. 

My son doesn't do his homework.  

My older daughter, yes, because she doesn't need me to help her (er... I have no idea how to do algebra to even TRY to help her).  But my son, who needs me to prod and beg him for an hour before he even picks up a pencil?  No way.  And, well, I don't really care.

Don't be hate'n.

You see, in an ideal world, my kids come home from school and eat a healthy snack and quietly sit at the table and finish what their teacher assigned them to do. And then when they are done we snuggle together and read for 30 minutes (because 20 minutes just isn't enough time for this precious moment.) And then they happily do their chores.  And eat whatever dinner I put in front of them. 

In MY world, my kids throw their backpacks down on the floor, sneak extra fruit snacks, and I don't see them for awhile because my office work is not yet complete.  By the time 6pm hits and I am exhausted from a long day, the last thing that I can emotionally handle is begging my son to write his spelling words 3x each.  Since his "weekly homework packet" is technically not due until Friday, it gets pushed off until Thursday night, when I suddenly frantically remember that he hasn't done a single first grader page.  And then more often than not I say, "forget it and go ahead and play with your lego's, son." 

Is he alive?  Is he well fed? Are his grades good? Does he know how to put the silverware away? YES! YES! YES! YES!

Then who cares about homework?

I know doing homework is supposed to prepare him for future grade levels, but I have to ask, is it really necessary this young?  I remember my Junior year of high school.  I got 5 hours of sleep every night between school, HOMEWORK, extracurricular activities, home chores, gossiping about that girl who likes the boy I like,  etc.  Can't we just let kids be kids while they have a chance?  You know, before reality sets in and teachers tell them that if they don't do their homework they will never get into college? 

Unfortunately my passive feelings really don't stop with just homework. I got a letter saying that my kids were late to school 3x in one month and that it seriously effects their learning so quit it.  I wrote the reason the next time they were late...I'M TIRED. 

Is it possible to still be considered a good mom with such a lack of regard for certain school protocol?  I freaking hope so.

I have wondered what his teacher thinks of me.  I mean, isn't it obviously the parent's responsibility to oversee that completed homework gets back to school?  So, it's obvious that I am the one making it NOT happen, right?  Or can we put the blame on a 7 year old? I have been telling myself I can.  Kids will be kids, you know?  The dog totally ate it.  

The basic truth is I would rather hang out with my kid doing fun stuff like folding laundry together (match the socks!  It's educational!) then beg and plead for him to finish that last page.  I would rather read a book when we feel like it then spend precious time marking down how many minutes we read each day.  I would rather tuck him in at night and kiss his cheek and ask, "what was your favorite part about going to the aquarium last week?" then worry about locating that one assignment.   

I would rather do anything than pile on more Mom-guilt...as though I don't have enough already.  

And so, for the last few weeks of school I have decided to put that guilt away and not worry about his last report card that says he doesn't do his homework. As far as I am concerned, his HOMEwork is done with the time we spend together--snuggled up--watching the Disney Channel.

Personally, I'd give my kid an A+ on that one.  

PS. He DOES complete his homework sometimes. I promise I am not THAT neglectful to his teacher's request:)


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lucky Mom I Am





I really like this picture of us.

I am so happy to be their MOM.  They have made me better in every way.  Sometimes I look at them and think, "We made them?" I know Rowdy and I are cool and everything, but I think we hit the jackpot with these two.  I couldn't have asked for more beautiful, fun, artistic, funny, smart, challenging and rewarding kids. They are spectacular. 
 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

have to




Super crappy news at the dentist this morning.  I have to get a root-canal-gone-wrong-surgical-procedure done next week.  I have dealt with pain for the last 2 years because I hated my previous dentist and I just didn't want to deal with finding someone else.  I finally found a nice one though, so although I am crazy unhappy about what has to be done, it could be worse, and at least I feel like I am in good hands.

So after the bad news set in, I bought myself some flowers and a burrito.

Sometimes you just have to do that. 
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