Early Childhood Homeschooling Made Easy

Taking teaching and your child's future into your own hands.

Healthy Banana Ice Cream that is perfect for little kids

This is super creamy and good.

This is super creamy and good.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to add a few healthier food items to your child’s daily menu. I love ice cream, but it’s something I shy away from most of the time now because it’s not always the healthiest dessert option. And when I do eat ice cream, I tend to get the ones with half the fat, or I simply opt for sorbet instead. But sometimes…I just have to have a bowl of ice cream to satisfy the craving. Not to mention, I love the pure look of joy on my daughter’s face when she is eating ice cream and saying, “mmm, this is yummy…it tastes goooood.” That cracks me up every time. Especially when she adds her little happy dance. Pure joy.

Okay, so this is going to be the easiest banana ice cream recipe you have ever seen. Seriously, it is so easy my toddler could probably do it. (Well, she does help do half of it.) There is only one ingredient. I’m not kidding. All you need is bananas (and a strong blender).

Banana Ice Cream Recipe

– Frozen bananas

This is as healthy as ice cream can get. There is nothing else added. All you have to do is peel a couple of bananas. But them in a freezer safe container and freeze them for 2-4 hours. Take them out of the freezer and let them sit on the counter for about 5 minutes. I wouldn’t let them sit out for longer than 10 minutes. Put them in your Vitamix (or other high powered) blender on Variable 2 or 3 and blend for 30 seconds to a minute. All you want to do is blend it until it becomes the creamy consistency of ice cream or custard. It will become very creamy. This is a cold, refreshing treat on a warm day. It tastes like you made homemade banana ice cream, but without any added ingredients. This is super healthy, and kids love it.

We could barely stop eating it long enough to take pictures.

We could barely stop eating it long enough to take pictures.

This is really just the base of the recipe. You can add other frozen fruit to the blender to make different types of ice cream. Try frozen strawberries to make a strawberry banana ice cream. My daughter likes when I add peanut butter to it and make a peanut butter banana ice cream. You can also add your favorite toppings. I like mine with dark chocolate syrup. Yum! Of course, adding a special topping may make it a little less healthy, but considering the fat and calories you are saving by not making this with cream, sugar, and eggs…I think you can allow yourself to add something special on top. Maybe some caramel and/or crushed nuts. When you’re making the ice cream, try adding some oreo cookies to the blender for a take on cookies and cream ice cream. There are so many combinations you can use to make this delicious, healthy treat.

With dark chocolate syrup on top.  This was my bowl.

With dark chocolate syrup on top. This was my bowl.

My recommendations are to always use frozen bananas as your base, and if you are adding other fruit you should freeze it first. Other ingredients you may add to the blender don’t need to be frozen, such as oreos and peanut butter. Have fun with this recipe, and let your kids help make this with you. They will love being able to get involved and help make their own ice cream creations. And it’s so good that they won’t miss the “real” thing. Enjoy!

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Easter Sunday, Easter weekend

Me and Kayla

Me and Kayla

Our Easter Sunday wasn’t as hectic this year. My sister hosted Easter brunch at her place, so I only had to bring a couple of casseroles over to help out. When Kayla woke up in the morning, she looked at her Easter basket from the Easter Bunny. Then she looked at her basket from mommy and daddy, and her gifts from grandma. She searched for the hidden plastic eggs around the living room and put them all in her big purple bucket. Once she was done finding the eggs, I got her dressed and headed to the kitchen to pop the casseroles I prepared the night before into the oven to bake. We had a very laid back brunch at my sister’s house, then headed home for a nap. (Yay for naps!) Later on, we made salted caramel chocolate nests for dessert. Kayla tried to help out, but she was busy stealing the jelly beans that go on top of the nests as a decoration. All in all, we had a great Easter Sunday.

Basket from the Easter Bunny.

Basket from the Easter Bunny.

Gifts from grandma (my mom)

Gifts from grandma (my mom)

Basket from Mommy and Daddy

Basket from Mommy and Daddy

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The salted caramel chocolate nests are a fun dessert to make with kids, but prepared to get a little messy. It’s worth it though, because these are a great treat. If you want the recipe, check out my other blog at: http://kaylakakes.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/salted-caramel-chocolate-nests/

We had a busy Saturday before Easter. We took Kayla to a Helicopter Easter Egg Drop at a local entertainment place for kids. It was an outside event with pony rides, inflatable jumpers, and a tractor ride. I don’t think it was worth the money, but Kayla had a great time. We met up with her Aunt (one of my husband’s sisters) and one of her cousins at the event. It was kind of neat watching all the plastic eggs fall from the helicopter and blow all over the field. If I was a little kid, I would have been impressed. Afterwards, we headed to lunch at McDonald’s (something Kayla rarely gets to eat), then to my in-law’s house for a visit. Since we were spending Easter with my family, we decided to take Kayla to see her grandparents (my husband’s parents) the day before. She had a blast running around with her cousin and acting silly. At night, Kayla and I colored Easter eggs together. She did a lot better this year and was very proud of her eggs. The best part was when she was talking to the eggs because she was convinced there were baby chicks inside. This kid cracks me up.

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Even though we had a nice weekend, I am glad it’s over. It’s nice to just sit down and relax, and not have to think about another holiday for a few months. I’m off to bed now. I hope everyone had a Happy Easter with their family and friends.

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Homemade Coco Wheats, and some winter fun.

food and snow 001The Midwest was just hit with a snow storm yesterday. I think when it’s over, we’ll have about 9 inches of snow. That’s on top of the couple inches we already had from last week. There is something about a cold winter’s day that puts me in the mood for a hot breakfast. It’s nice to wake up in the morning and warm up with a bowl of hot cereal. My personal favorite is Coco Wheats. Not everyone is a fan of this chocolate flavored morning treat, but it was one of my favorites when I was little. My daughter isn’t a fan of the traditional boxed version, but she does enjoy my homemade version. It’s quite simple to make, and doesn’t take much time.

Coco Wheats Recipes

2 cups water
2 – 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 – 1/2 cup farina/cream of wheat
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter (optional)

1. Whisk the cocoa powder into the water in a pot.

2. Heat the water over medium heat until boiling. Add in cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Whisk together.

3. Add in farina/cream of wheat slowly and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes. This will prevent lumps. (Add in farina/cream of wheat to your desired thickness.)

4. Turn off heat and cover with lid. Let sit a few minutes.

5. Uncover. Stir in milk, sugar, and butter. I like to add just a little milk at the end to make it creamy.

This is a tasty homemade morning treat. If you don’t like using sugar or brown sugar, you can use honey to sweeten it up a bit. And you can always skip the butter all together. My mom always made ours with milk, sugar, and butter…so that’s how I prefer mine. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Since it’s been cold and snowy out, Kayla and I have enjoyed some fun indoor and outdoor activities. We’ve made homemade butter cookies, and we’ve gone outside to play in the snow. Kayla absolutely loves making cookies. She gets super excited and likes to watch them cook. She’s a little impatient, but what can you expect from a two-year-old? To take her mind off of the cookies, it’s fun to take her outside and let her run around in the snow. It’s amazing how much she has changed since this time last year. A year ago, she was afraid to even walk in the snow. Now she takes off running as fast as she can manage. As a mom, it’s bitter sweet. I miss my baby from a year ago, but I love seeing her grow up and explore new things.

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Yes, we used a Christmas tree cookie cutter.  It was the only one I had out that I didn't have to go find.

Yes, we used a Christmas tree cookie cutter. It was the only one I had out that I didn’t have to go find.

You can find the butter cookie recipe we used at: http://www.landolakes.com/recipe/2217/best-ever-butter-cookies

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Two of my dogs standing on the back porch unsure about going out into the snow.

Two of my dogs standing on the back porch unsure about going out into the snow.

The third dog who loves the snow was having fun barking at people outside shoveling their snow.

The third dog who loves the snow was having fun barking at people outside shoveling their snow.

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The Easiest Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever – Made with the Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System

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Ok, so this is my third post with a recipe using my new Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System. I got this easy spaghetti recipe from the cookbook that came with my Ninja. I really wasn’t expecting to be impressed since making regular spaghetti isn’t that hard. You boil pasta, drain it, add sauce and meatballs, and you’re done. No big deal. Simple. But somehow this easy recipe from the cookbook managed to impress me. And it doesn’t even use fresh meatballs. The recipe calls for frozen meatballs. (Even though you can easily do this with fresh ones, if you want.)

The recipe has only four ingredients. You put them in the cooking pot, set the unit to oven, and let it cook for 25-30 minutes. When you take the cover off, you have this delicious spaghetti dinner that took NO effort. Seriously, it takes no effort at all to make. If you have older kids, they can make this meal for the family with no problems.

Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

– 4 cups water
– 1 lb uncooked spaghetti noddles, broken in half (Or just put them in whole.)
– 1 jar pasta sauce
– 1 package (24 oz.) frozen meatballs

Pour 4 cups water into pot. (I used 4 1/4 cups because the pasta soaks up all the water and I didn’t want it to burn.) Stir in spaghetti, sauce, and meatballs. (The recipe says to break spaghetti in half, but I put it in whole.) Put unit on OVEN at 300°F for 25 minutes. (I suggest 30 minutes. When I checked at 25 minutes, not all of the pasta was tender yet.) Cover and cook until pasta is tender and meatballs are hot, stirring occasionally. NOTE: When using thinner sauces, use 3¾ cup water. For whole grain and thicker pastas, increase cooking time by 2–4 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Serve immediately.

All the ingredients in the pot and ready to be cooked.

All the ingredients in the pot and ready to be cooked.

About to stir it and check to see if the pasta is getting tender.

About to stir it and check to see if the pasta is getting tender.

Ready to eat.  Yum!

Ready to eat. Yum!

That is literally all it takes to make this meal. I let my Ninja pre-heat while I got my ingredients out. I added the water to the pot and put the spaghetti noodles in without breaking them in half. I put a little sauce directly on top of the noodles, then added the meatballs, and covered the meatballs with the remaining sauce. I stirred it all together, just a little bit, then covered. It is important to stir this at least once during cooking to make sure the pasta is cooking evenly and isn’t sticking together. Other than that, there is nothing else for you to do. Just sit back and let it cook.

There is no need to drain any water. The pasta soaks up all the water. The spaghetti noodles are infused with the pasta sauce. I was a little surprised with how well it turned out, even with frozen meatballs. I think my daughter said it best when she said, “mmmm…yummy!” Yes, it was quite yummy.

This is a wonderful recipe for busy parents. You can easily come home from work and still serve a great meal in only 30 minutes. This is something that you can even have your teenage kids prepare for you so that there is a ready-to-eat meal when you get home. As a mom of a toddler, I appreciate easy recipes that can be made in a short amount of time. I am at home with my daughter, but you would be surprised how fast the day goes by when you’re taking care of your home. This recipe will be going in my collection of go-to recipes when I need to make something quick.

Note: You can make this recipe in a regular slow cooker, but it will take longer than 30 minutes and you will have to watch closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.

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Game Day Chili for the Whole Family – Turkey Chili with Corn Bread Crust made in the Ninja 3-in-1

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As stated in my previous post, I recently got the Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System and I am currently trying out different recipes from the cookbook. I ordered my Ninja through QVC and it came with the cookbook, Cooking Easier, Healthier & Better. I will be posting my thoughts and opinions about how the Ninja performs and about the recipes. My intent is to stick pretty close to the recipe instructions in the cookbook so that I am getting a good feel for whether the recipes are good, bad, or okay.

Since this is Super Bowl weekend, I thought it would be fitting to do some Game Day food. One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of game day food is Chili. My husband enjoys eating a big bowl of chili with tortilla chips. It’s the ultimate game day meal. I’m not really into football, but I do appreciate game day food. And I love a bowl of chili on a cold winter day.

The cookbook has a few chili recipes, but I opted to try out the Chili with Corn Bread Crust. (It had me at corn bread.) The recipe calls for using either ground beef or ground turkey. I used ground turkey in an attempt to make this a little bit healthier. I made a few other minor changes and/or additions, but I stuck fairly close to the recipe.

This chili screams comfort food. The corn bread baked on top of the chili is a genius idea. I’ve baked biscuits on top of soup before, but never thought to use corn bread on top of my chili. (Silly me!) What makes it even better is the fact that it was easy to make and didn’t take much prep work. My favorite part was being able to cook the turkey and veggies in the Ninja cooking pot on the stovetop setting, then just add the remaining ingredients to the pot and switch it to the slow cook setting. There was no need to cook the ground turkey on the stove, then transfer it to a slow cooker. That is the beauty of the Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System. Everything can be done in one pot. (Woo Hoo!)

Chili with Corn Bread Crust Recipe

– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil.)
– 1 1/2 lbs ground beef or turkey
– 1 large onion, diced
– 1 green pepper, diced (I used red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.)
– 1 tablespoon chili powder
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 can (about 15 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained (I used two cans instead of one.)
– 1 can (about 15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– 1 package (8.5 ounces0 corn muffin mix
– 1 egg, beaten
– 1/3 cup milk

Additional ingredients I added

– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon garlic pepper
– Dash of hot sauce (I like a little kick to my chili.)

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Pour oil into pot. Set unit to STOVETOP HIGH and heat oil. Add ground beef/turkey, onion, and pepper to the pot. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until beef is browned or turkey is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Spoon off any fat. Add chili powder and cinnamon to the pot. (This is when I added in my salt and garlic pepper.) Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Stir tomatoes, beans, and tomato paste into the pot. (This is when I added a dash of hot sauce to the pot.) Set it to SLOW COOK HIGH for 4 to 5 hours. Cover and cook.

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After 4 1/2 hours cooking time, stir corn muffin mix, egg, and milk in a bowl. Uncover pot and spoon batter over chili. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until corn bread is cooked through.

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This chili was awesome with the corn bread crust on top. The chili and corn bread alone is a great meal. The cookbook suggests serving it with sour cream and cheddar cheese. I did try it that way, and it made a great meal even better. It was hearty and satisfying. Just thinking about it is making me want to climb out of bed and go fix myself a bowl. Mmmm… Thankfully, I have some self control.

I understand that the recipe would have been healthier without my addition of the salt and pepper, but I personally couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of not having the extra seasoning. I like my food very flavorful, and I know from experience that ground turkey can lack some natural flavor. Sorry, but I am going to have to agree with all the TV chefs when they say that meat needs salt and pepper to bring out the natural flavors. This is just my opinion. If you want to stick to the original recipe to keep this healthier, please do so. I’m sure it is great either way. The hot sauce addition is just something I always add to chili. I considered not adding it, but then I couldn’t help myself. Chili has to have a little kick, right?! Maybe it’s just me.

I was happy with how fast the Ninja heated up on the stovetop setting. The ground turkey and veggies cooked up without a problem. I could see steam coming from the pot and hear the food sizzling. Once I switched it over to the slow cooker setting, everything settled down and it was ready to cook like a regular slow cooker. I didn’t have any issues with the liquid evaporating too much while cooking the chili. But I will say that once you add the corn bread, it seems to make most of the liquid disappear. If you are someone who prefers a chili with more liquid, you may want to add some water to the pot. I don’t have much of a preference between a chili with lots of liquid and one with hardly any, so this wasn’t a big deal to me.

This was a satisfying meal that left me wanting more. The first thing my husband said when I told him what I made for dinner tonight was, “Mmmm, that sounds good.” And then the next thing he said was, “is it spicy?” I was glad I decided to add the hot sauce to the chili. Apparently, he’s like me and likes his chili with a little kick. This chili was the perfect way to kick off Super Bowl weekend in our house.

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Apple Cider Pulled Pork Sliders, and Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System Review

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I got my new kitchen toy this week, and I was excited to finally get to use it. My newest kitchen appliance is the Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System. The Ninja 3-in-1 combines your stove top, oven, and slow cooker into one appliance. It can sear, bake, roast, steam, saute, simmer, and slow cook all in one pot.

The Ninja has a 6 quart cooking pot. It has a programmable slow cooker, a digital oven control mode, and the stove top function has low, medium, and high settings. It comes with a variety of accessories. The included accessories are a roasting rack, a multipurpose baking pan, a loaf pan, a mini muffin pan, and silicone oven mitts (that just cover your hands…fingers and palm). The accessories can all be conveniently stored inside the unit. Depending on where you buy the Ninja, it also comes with a cookbook with 150 recipes. The Ninja is currently sold at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Walmart, and through QVC. I’ve heard that if you buy it from BB&B or Walmart, you will need to purchase the cookbook separately.

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This unit is quite large. I was half expecting it to be around the same size as my old slow cooker, but this thing is a beast in comparison. This is not a small, cheap kitchen appliance. The Ninja is a good quality piece of kitchen equipment. The approximate measurements of the unit with handles and dials is 18″L x 13″W x 8-1/4″H; cord 24″L. So be forewarned that this does take up quite a bit of counter space if you plan to keep it out like we do.

The cooking pot is dishwasher safe, but the accessories are hand wash only. That’s not a big deal with me, but I know that can be off-putting to some people, so I thought it was worth mentioning. I cleaned the cooking pot by hand and it was super easy to clean. The pot has a non-stick coating, so it took me about two minutes to clean it in the sink. I didn’t even bother putting it in the dishwasher. I haven’t used any of the accessories yet, but I’m not concerned about having to clean them by hand.

There is a vent on the cover of the pot. Depending on what setting you’re using, you may want to watch the liquid in your pot. The vent will allow liquid to evaporate some while cooking, which may require you to add more liquid. I didn’t have this issue at all with the recipe I used, but I think it is worth pointing out so no one burns their food on accident.

The moment I got the Ninja, I started flipping through the cookbook. I was happy to see that it has a lot of recipes I’d like to try out. Most of the recipes are simple and don’t have a bunch of ingredients. As a mother of a toddler, I am very appreciative of quick and easy recipes. I don’t have much time to spend slaving away in the kitchen. And now that Kayla is getting more interested in helping out in the kitchen, I prefer to do stuff that gets us in and out of the kitchen fast. There is nothing like having a busy little toddler trying to help out in the kitchen when you’re trying to do 5 things at once. The easier, the better.

After going through the cookbook a few times, I decided to start with pulled pork. I make pulled pork all the time. My favorite is BBQ pulled pork. I love making it in a slow cooker because it comes out so tender and you have the juice/liquid to pour over the meat. It is one of my top 25 comfort foods, so what better way to test out my new toy than to make pulled pork.

The cookbook has a recipe for Pulled Pork and Apple Cider Sliders. I thought it was an interesting twist on a pulled pork sandwich. I also took the cookbooks suggestion about preparing sweet potato fries to go with it. I followed the cookbooks instructions exactly (well, almost) and it came out great. No complaints in this household.

I went to the grocery store this morning to pick up all the ingredients I would need, as well as stuff for other recipes for later this week. I was eager to start cooking. I really wanted to sear the meat first, since I have that option with the Ninja, but decided to stick to the recipe exactly as it is written. That way I can not only tell all of you about how the Ninja works, but I can share my thoughts and opinions about the recipes in the cookbook.

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Pulled Pork and Apple Cider Sliders Recipe

– 1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3-4 lbs)
– salt
– ground black pepper
– 2 teaspoons paprika
– 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
– 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
– 1 package slider or mini sandwich buns (12 count)

Season pork with salt, black pepper, and paprika. (The cookbook does not state how much salt or pepper to use, so it really depends on how much you want to use.) Stir mustard, brown sugar, garlic, and cider/juice in the pot. Add pork and turn to coat in mixture.

Pork going into the pot to start cooking.

Pork going into the pot to start cooking.

Set to SLOW COOK HIGH for 5-6 hours (I used a 5 lb pork shoulder roast so I cooked it for 6 1/2 hours.) Cover and cook until pork is fork tender. Try not to lift the lid while you’re cooking because it can add time to your overall cooking time. If you’re like me though, you won’t be able to resist checking on it a few times, especially since the lid isn’t glass. It’s impossible for me to not check on things at least once.

Pork ready to be shredded.

Pork ready to be shredded.

Using two forks, shred pork in the pot. Spread additional mustard on buns if desired. Divide pork mixture among buns and serve.

In the process of shredding pork.

In the process of shredding pork.

Pork after it's been shredded.

Pork after it’s been shredded.

Since I used a bigger roast, I shredded my pork at about 5 1/2 hours, then let it continue cooking in the juice for the last hour. When I assembled my sliders, I poured just a little bit of the juice over the meat on the bun. I think this made a world of difference. Don’t add too much or your bun will get soggy. A little juice will go a long way. I opted not to put mustard on my bun. I just added a dill pickle to my sandwich and I was a happy camper. From what I was told, the sandwiches with the mustard added were quite tasty too. I just wasn’t in a mustard kind of mood.

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I was very pleased with the outcome of this meal. It is easy to make and tasted great. I didn’t have any issues at all. The liquid didn’t evaporate from the pot. The pork was tender and had a nice, light flavor. Since it was a slider, it was easy for my daughter to try to eat. Nothing stuck to the pot, and the pot was a breeze to clean. The unit is pretty straight forward to use. If you’ve used stoves/ovens and slow cookers before, you won’t have any problems using the Ninja. If you’re a beginner, this will be quite easy to understand. I think even my husband could figure out how to use this, and he rarely cooks.

At this point, I would definitely recommend this cooking system to my family and friends. It is a wonderful idea to have a unit that can cook in various ways, and all without heating up your house. No more using multiple pans to cook, and feeling like you may pass out from the heat of the oven. This summer, I plan to use my Ninja so I can avoid using my stove/oven. This is a wonderful product for busy moms who want to be able to prepare simple and easy meals. To make this unit even more appealing is that you can use it to cook healthier meals for your family. Like steam baking a cake and only having to use half the oil. Yes, I said it. Only HALF the oil you would normally use in a cake.

I have four more meals planned for the next few days. I will keep you posted on how they turn out. I’m excited to try out a few more recipes.

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Red Velvet Bundt Cake with a Cream Cheese Filling

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Here is the recipe for the Red Velvet Bundt Cake my daughter and I made for my mom’s birthday. Enjoy!

Click link below to be taken to the recipe:

via Red Velvet Bundt Cake with a Cream Cheese Filling.

If anyone tries this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you. Thanks!

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Making a cake for Grandma’s Birthday

Sunday (January 27th) was my mom’s birthday. Last year she told me that she would have liked a red velvet cake, so I decided to make one for her this year. I had a silicone bundt pan that I’ve been meaning to use forever, so I figured I’d make a red velvet bundt cake with a cream cheese filling and drizzle cream cheese frosting on top.

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Kayla was my little helper in the kitchen. As soon as she saw me start getting out the stuff to make the cake, she told me that she needed her ladder. We have a little step ladder that she likes to stand on when she helps me cook. Two of her favorite things to do in the kitchen is help stir things and help use the electric mixer when we’re baking. I explained to her that we were going to make grandma a birthday cake. She didn’t really care why we were going to make a cake, she just wanted to help. I put all the necessary ingredients in the bowl and let her use the mixer. While she did that, I prepared the cream cheese filling. She helped me pour everything into the bundt pan. We put 2/3rds of the batter in the pan, then added the cream cheese filling, and topped it off with the remaining batter. I put the cake in the oven to bake, and my little baker stood pressed against the oven watching the cake bake. I had to bribe her out of the kitchen with an episode of Scooby Doo. Otherwise, I think she would have been happy to stand in the kitchen the entire time. (Have I mentioned that my 26-month-old daughter is currently obsessed with Scooby Doo?) She loves to watch cakes and cookies bake.

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Once the cake was done, I told Kayla that the cake would need to cool before we could add the drizzle topping. She wasn’t happy about this news, but went along with it anyway. I think the most upsetting part was when I had to tell her that we couldn’t eat the cake until the next day…since we made it the night before grandma’s birthday. She looked so sad. She perked up once I had her color a Donald Duck picture for grandma. My mom is a big Donald Duck fan, so it was fitting. Later on, we even made a special birthday card for grandma. Kayla was so proud of herself. It was a nice moment when she got to present everything to grandma and tell her, “Happy Birthday!” I think she was most proud of the cake. My favorite part was when she saw the cake after we had cut into it, and she said, “Aww…the cake is broken!” She was so serious and sad. She cracks me up. I promised we would bake something else this week, so that cheered her up a bit.

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Kayla did a good job helping drizzle the frosting on top of the cake. The only problem was keeping her from licking the spoon until after she was done. I have to admit, that was always one of my favorite parts of helping my mom bake. Licking the spoons and licking the electric mixer utensils. Now that I know my bundt pan works well, maybe I’ll use it more often. Maybe.

My mom had a great birthday, and we all enjoyed the cake.

*** Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to post the recipe for this cake on my other blog, Kayla Kakes. If I do, I will add the recipe on here as well.

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Cookies, cookies, cookies!

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One of my favorite things about the holidays is all the cookies. Growing up, my mom always baked cookies for every holiday. She made the most at Christmas-time. She’d make butter cookies, sugar cookies, bar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, etc. We’d have plenty of cookies to take to school with us for our holiday parties, and we’d still be eating cookies for weeks at home. It was wonderful! Ever since I was in my mid-20’s, I have tried to keep this tradition going. It’s been hard with working over the years, and now with a kid to take care of at home. It’s hard to find the time for all the baking I want to do. This year, I had the added challenge of being sick and having a sick kid to take care of while trying to get my baking done. I think I managed alright.

I love peanut butter, so I decided to make peanut butter blossoms this year. This is one of those cute little cookies that are very easy to make. The recipe is quite simple, and it takes minimal effort to make.

Peanut Butter Blossom Recipe

48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Additional granulated sugar (for rolling cookies in)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy.
Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into center of each
cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
Recipe can make about 4 dozen cookies.

December pictures 2012 008

A newer recipe I have started to use is one for Jello cookies. These are so yummy, and also easy to make for beginners. Kids will love helping with these colorful cookies. Since I was going with a Christmas theme, I used strawberry and lime Jello, so the cookies would come out red and green. The colors aren’t bright, but they are still festive.

Jello Cookie Recipe

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin (only use half of package)
1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Lime Flavor Gelatin (only use half of package)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Directions

1. BEAT first 4 ingredients in large bowl with mixer until blended. Mix flour and baking soda; gradually add to cream cheese mixture,
mixing well after each addition. Divide cookie dough into two bowls. Add half of strawberry jello gelatin package to one bowl of
cookie dough, and half of lime jello gelatin package to the other bowl; mix well. Refrigerate cookie dough for 30 min.

2. HEAT oven to 375ºF. Roll dough into 60 (1-inch) balls, or 30 (2-inch balls). Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets sprayed with cooking
spray.

3. BAKE 9 to 11 min. or until edges are lightly browned. (For bigger cookies, bake for an additional minute or two.) Cool on baking sheets
2 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

4. SPRINKLE with powdered sugar just before serving, if wanted.

December 23 2012 010

December 23 2012 008

Kayla and my husband love the Jello cookies. They’ve been a big hit in our house and are super easy to make. They are a great cookie for kids to help out with since there are no raw eggs in the recipe. I let Kayla lick the spoon to her heart’s content. The kids also enjoy adding the jello gelatin to the cookie dough and watching the dough change colors as it gets mixed in.

I hope you all enjoy these simple cookie recipes. They are great additions to any holiday cookie menu. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies back in August and we loved them.  I am planning to make them either tonight or tomorrow morning to get us in the mood for Halloween.  Just the smell of them makes you think of Fall.  🙂

 

Check out the link below to my other blog to get the recipe.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

via Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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