Cooking For My Family

Family Recipe Journal

Back To School

The past two months were pretty tiring for me eventhough the kids really didn’t do any more than the usual but I’m looking forward to the beginning of the school year. Hunting down school supplies was much easier this time around. I saw some websites that helped and some emerging ones. I’m keeping my out on http://www.easyorderschoolsupplies.com. By next year, I should be able to order from them. I sent an email to them asking about my daughter’s school and they said they are currently in the process of finishing it. I couldn’t wait for them but I’m sure it’ll be helpful for next year.

Looking forward to our vacation trip next!

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Mr. Men Birthday Cake

Mr. Men Birthday Cake

Mr. Men Birthday Cake

This project is a lesson on using fondant to me, really.  I loved working with fondant.  It’s very easy if you think about it as “Playdoh for Grownups”.

My son loves Mr. Men.  He is obsessed with them.  He has about 60 of their books.  What i love about Mr. Men [and Little Miss] is that it teaches adjectives quite well.  Especially for my son who’s has apraxia of speech.  When people don’t understand him or his sign language, we encourage him to describe what he’s talking about.  The Mr. Men books not only taught him advanced vocabulary, it’s encouraged him to use more and more words which he probably already knows but never thought to use.    What I don’t like is Mr.  Bump’s favorite expression – “poopity-poop!”.  It’s not so bad really but my son now always talks about poop.  I realize all five year-olds find this word funny but when you hear it at least twice every hour, it’s a different story :-)

Anyway, back to the cake.  What I can share here is what I learned in using fondant — basically, my version of “Basics of Fondant”.

The first time fondant is used can be expensive.  You’ll need the basic materials but I’ll tell you which ones I think you really need to purchase. 

  • Artificial Gel Coloring
  • White fondant

The other optional things are the following:

  • Fondant rolling pin.  While I was at the store, I was wondering what’s different about it compared to the one I have at home.  I decided to purchase one because the one I have at home is not as long.  But after making the fondant, I decided, that it would be okay to use my regular rolling pin so long as it is cleaned well. 
  • Fondant Smoother.  I didn’t use one on mine.  I just used my hands but I can see this is useful if you’re a perfectionist. 
  • Roll-n-cut mat.  Very useful to guarantee you have enough fondant to cover your cake.  I needed this because I’m not experienced enough to just eyeball and I didn’t have much time for mistakes.

First thing to do is watch this video:

I made the basic layer with white fondant and basically used an entire bottle of artificial coloring and still didnt get it dark enough but it tured out pretty well I think.  I recommend just buying dark brown fondant which wasn’t available to me and I didn’t have time to get it here by mail.

When I sprayed my fondant with water, it didn’t come out evenly so you can see some parts of the cake are darker than the others.  Next time, I will skip the water spray unless I have a good sprayer.

The circles turned out nice but I used that to take attention away from the damage the water spray made.  I think it did take the attention away.  I

I covered the bottom with ribbon to cover the fondant folds at the bottom of the cake.  It’s my first time, so it didnt’ quite turn out as flat as I wanted to but I’m sure I’ll get better the more I do this.  I also don’t know how to make the icing borders which would have been great for this cake.

I was very happy with how it turned out.  Even better, people loved the cake as well.  I used the WASC recipe on CakeCentral.com.  I followed the box directions on temperature instead of what was recommended in the recipe.

This is it!  My first fondant project.  I loved how it turned out.  I hope to make more in the future.

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Blueberry Muffins Recipe

 

Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping

Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping

I’m really determined to change my kids’ diets.  I want them to grow up healthy so I educate myself on benefits of certain foods.  Take blueberries.  I think you’ll see it everywhere on cooking and health magazines nowadays, they have high antioxidant capacities.  More importantly they have been shown to improve brain function including memory. 

I wanted to make blueberry muffins much like the ones I find in stores with a bit of crumb topping.  What I found later was that the rest of the family preferred no crumb topping.  Which is actually great — less sugar.

So here’s the recipe for the BEST blueberry muffins you’ll find.

Ingredients for Blueberry muffins:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

For the crumb topping (optional):
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.  In a smaller bowl, combine vegetable oil, egg and milk.  Mix the two mixtures.  Fold in blueberries.
  3. To make crumb topping, mix together 1/4 cup sugar, 1/6 cup flour, 1/8 cup butter and 3/4 tsp cinnamon.   
  4. Fill each muffin cup to the top with #2 mixture and sprinkle with crumb topping (#3)
  5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
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Sunflower Cupcakes

Sunflower Cupcakes

Sunflower Cupcakes

 

For my daughter’s 7th birthday, I made Sunflower Cupcakes for her to take to school.  My biggest challenge was that there were 25 kids in my daughter’s class.  Muffin pans are 12 cupcakes each.  Oh the dilemma!  So I had 11 leftover cupcakes at home :-(

I feel like I’m cheating a bit by not giving you a recipe for this post.  But sometimes, before I try any recipe from cookbooks, I try to google it and find pictures of other peoples’ attempts and to see if they have any tips to make the job easier.  I got this idea from “Hello, Cupcakes” once again.  I skipped the spearmint leaves for mine.  25 cupcakes is a lot to make overnight so I didn’t even make any effort to cut out leaves.  Hope my pic is helpful!

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Vietnamese Rice Soup Recipe (Chao)

Chao Recipe

Vietnamese Rice Soup garnished with chicken (from the broth) and green onions (green part leftover from recipe)

My last post was all about the broth that I was going to use for this rice soup.  Overall, I’ve decided that it’s better to just purchase a broth.  There are good organic ones out there with less sodium and less fat. 

This is the simplest recipe you can find.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Vietnamese Rice Soup Recipe

3/4 cup long-grain rice
10 cups Chicken Broth, homemade or canned
4 quarter-sized slices of ginger
2 green onions (white part only)

  1. Put rice on your stock pot and add water.  Try to clean rice by grabbing a handlful and just scrub it in the water.  You’ll notice milky white water.  Drain the water and add more.  Repeat until water becomes ALMOST clear — about 8 to 10 times.
  2. Add broth, ginger and green onions and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and partially cover.  Stir occasionally so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Cook for about an hour or when the rice grains are cooked.
  4. Discard ginger and green onions.  If your soup is too thick, add water until you get the desired consistency.
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