Friday, July 19, 2013

Maddie's 9th and Grant's 1st Birthday Party

So, my oldest is 9, and my youngest is 1.  I can finally say that without cringing!  I say this all the time, but it sure has gone quickly!  These two have birthdays that are just a week apart, so we decided to do a combined party with family.

Maddie wanted a basketball cake, and Grant has always been our little monkey, so we had monkeys and basketballs!  I found the monkey cupcake idea here.  I used candy eyes from Walmart and placed some chocolate sprinkles on the top of the monkeys' heads for hair.

Of course, I had to make some cake pops, too!  The monkey idea came from my Cake Pops:  Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats by Bakerella.  I used a mini vanilla wafer for the nose instead of a peanut butter candy wafer.

When Maddie requested a basketball cake, I decided it was a great opportunity to try fondant.  I mean, I only needed one color!  I used this recipe and tinted it orange.  I greased my mixing bowl and dough hook with Crisco and used it to knead the dough instead of doing it all by hand.  I put the food coloring in right when I started mixing the fondant so that I did not have to need it in later.

I baked two 9 inch layer cakes and frosted them with orange-tinted buttercream frosting.  Then I placed the fondant on top.  I rubbed the fondant with Crisco shortening to help smooth the wrinkles and give it a nice finish.

Ready for a party!

Happy Birthday to you!

I was nervous cutting into Maddie's cake because I wasn't sure what it was going to look like.  I used this idea and put cake balls into the chocolate layers!  We baked some orange cake balls with my Babycakes Cake Pop Maker, tinting the vanilla cake pop batter (from the user's manual) orange.  I froze them to use when baking the cake the next day. I just used a boxed chocolate cake mix.  I placed enough batter to cover the bottom of each of my prepared 9 inch round cake pans.  Then I placed 12 cake balls in each round and spooned batter over the top to cover them.   I baked the cakes about 7 minutes longer than called for on the cake mix instructions.   I was worried about getting the cakes done, so I think I over-baked them a bit.  Next time I will not bake them quite as long.

It was neat cutting into the cake and seeing little "basketballs" inside.

I'm not sure if Grant liked the balloons or Grandma better--probably a tie!  In case you are wondering, I ordered the Mod Monkey balloon, napkins, and plates from Birthday Express.  

Happy birthday to my sweet girl and boy!  I am so proud to be your Mom!

If you like decorating cakes, be sure to check out these posts!

Anna's Fifth Birthday
My Tips on Decorating Cakes
Evan and Lyla's Party (7 & 3, How Can That Be?)

Easy Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

My husband jokes with me that I'm not happy unless I use my slow cooker at least twice a week.  While that may be an over-exaggeration, I do love my slow cooker.  I enjoy the feeling of knowing that supper is in the crock pot at home ready to go.  Right now my kitchen smells amazing because I mixed up some of this spaghetti sauce right after lunch and turned it on low.  That sauce is in there, getting all warm and bubbly and yummy.  For supper, I'll just cook up some pasta for the kids and some zucchini noodles for Matt and me.  Pass the parmesan, please!

Easy Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce (adapted from this recipe)

2 pounds ground meat, cooked (use ground beef, pork, sausage, or any combination.  I keep thinking I will try half ground beef and half sausage)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons each dried basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in slow cooker except meat.  If your family is like mine and does not like a chunky sauce, then use an immersion blender to blend up the tomatoes.  Add meat and stir well.  Taste and adjust spices as needed.  Cook on low 3 -4 hours or high 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Enjoy over your favorite pasta or some zucchini noodles if you are going low carb.  Enjoy!

Megan's notes:  Feel free to adjust the spices to your family's liking.  That's the nice thing about making your own spaghetti sauce--you can tailor it to your tastes.  My mom always used to add some brown sugar to her spaghetti sauce.  It cuts the acidity of the tomatoes a bit.  Probably about 1 tablespoon would do the trick.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Super Simple Hot Fudge Sauce

What's better than a big bowl of ice cream? Some ice cream with hot fudge on top! We would have this recipe often growing up. My grandma had an old-fashioned fondue pot that she would heat it up in. I usually use the microwave now, but you can throw the ingredients into a crock pot to have ready whenever the meal is over. When you have guests, setting up a sundae bar is a simple and yummy dessert that everyone enjoys!  I served this the other night to my kids with their choice of sprinkles, M & M's, and/or mini Reeces Pieces to put on top.  They each choose all of them!  You should have seen the looks on their faces when I piled it all on and handed it to them.  Yum in a bowl!  Here's the recipe:

Super Simple Hot Fudge Sauce

1 cup chocolate chips
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place chocolate chips and butter into microwave-safe container. Microwave about 45 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds. Add sweetened condensed milk and microwave another 30 seconds. Stir well. Microwave another 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each increment, until mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and enjoy with ice cream!

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