Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eighth Grade Project

Whew!  Eighth grade is over.  I made it.  I mean he made it.  I guess I mean we made it.  Lots of people told me that things really amp up in the eighth grade.  Socially, academically and emotionally.  And, dang, they weren't kidding!  But it's over!  For now.  I have to do it again in a couple of years.  With a girl.  I'm gonna need more cake!

Several weeks before school was out I got the now dreaded teacher appreciation email.  After this and this I was a little gun shy of teacher appreciation lunch days.  The email gave a list of items needed and out beside it each one in parentheses it gave instructions such as, Pasta Salad (I'll send the recipe) or Gallon jug of tea (no lemon flavored please).  Here is what it said for dessert:  Dessert (only pretty, yummy desserts please).  I'm totally not kidding.  It might as well have said no chunky purple cakes or artificially flavored Kroger cakes.  Come on people.  Everybody has a bad day...or two.  Mine just happen to fall on teacher appreciation day.

That seriously bothered me the whole day.  It also steeled my resolve to make the cake I had been wanting to make happen. So here it goes!

Dear eighth teachers of the school where my child spent the last three years,

It's been an interesting year, so I made you this cake.

It has three layers.  Two are vanilla and one is chocolate.  It's filled with buttercream and fudgey chocolate and has buttercream on the outside and has poured chocolate fudgey goodness on top.  It's gluten free in case you are into giving bonus points.  We could use them in science please.

It has been a good three years and I wanted to say thanks.  So here goes.

Dear choir teacher,
I should have made you a cake for just you.  You gave him a place to belong and something to be good at.  You love middle school boys and are so wonderful with them.  That alone deserves a cake.

Dear drama teacher,
I do believe his best memories will be of play practices.  Thank you for making that happen.  Thank you for unending hours with LOTS of middle schoolers.  Thank you also for giving him something to be good at.

Dear pre-algebra teacher,
Lord have mercy, we did it!  Thank you for your patience and extra help (with me.)  I never made a B in Algebra in my entire life so I am beyond thrilled.  And like I told you, he HATES math but he still loves you so you must be awesome.

Dear science teacher,
It was long, it was hard, it is over for us both!  Let's eat cake!

Dear reading teacher,
I really had just woken up from surgery when I sent you that frustrated email.  Probably not the best time to send an email but he did work hard on that project.  And an F seemed extreme.  I am sorry.  Please eat some cake and forget I'm that boy's crazy mother.

Dear everybody else that made middle school actually tolerable for my boy.  I appreciate you.  It has been fun.  It really has.  Hang on to your hats though, I have another one coming your way.  She is nothing like her brother but is awesome in her own way.

See you in August.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My new BFF

In my house there are 2 girls and 2 boys.  Total.  Me and Jenny and Shane and Will.  Shane and Will are always traipsing off on a Boy Scout adventure.  Camping in the rain, sleeping in huts made of sticks and leaves, and doing things that they will tell me about in 20 years when it's "funny."   Of course we miss them when they are gone but we do enjoy our "girl weekends."  I don't know how much longer she will want to spend those with me but I'll take it as long as I can get it.  We like to go shopping and make crafts.  She helped me repaint the bathroom one weekend, and one weekend we spent the entire day Saturday making valentine goodies for her class and other friends.  It was fabulous, but  every once in awhile we get a hankerin' to go somewhere.  So when the chance came along to go to Birmingham and hang out with one of our favorite cookbook authors we jumped on it.

Ree said to tell you all hello.

We got to visit with her for awhile.  Ok.  She signed our books, took a picture and we had to  move on but she was super sweet.  She's very pretty in real life and had the same quirky sense of humor she writes with.  It was such a fun thing for Jenny and I to do together and I'm glad she was excited to go see an author and chef and not some pop star with only half her clothes on.  I hope we can keep it that way!

I'm going to go now and cook my way through Ree's new cookbook.  She told me to make the orange sweet rolls.  She really did!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jenny's birthday cake

This is my baby girl.

She turned 11 last month and now she looks like this.

I love this girl.  She amazes me.  I can't figure her out most days and I think that's how she likes it.  From the day she was born she has known exactly who she is.  I love many things about this girl but that is my favorite.  She's not easily influenced and as we enter middle school next year I pray that quality remains strong.  Stay strong baby girl, stay strong!!

We had to have a party of course and we decided to have an art party!  I love a good theme and we ran with it!  My friend Jill's daughter Reagan came and painted with the girls and they had a great time.  Jenny and I always like to bake her cake together and this year we decided the rainbow cake we've all seen on Pinterest was the perfect cake!

Here is the finished product.

And here is the inside.

This was not a hard cake to make.  It was however a very time consuming cake to make!  My advice?  Buy 2 or 3 cake pans.  We only had one so it took a long time!  We had fun though!

We started with a basic white cake recipe which we doubled.  We used an 8 inch cake pan.  We colored a small amount of batter using gel colors, not liquid food coloring.  You can get gel colors at any craft store in the cake section.  We then poured about an inch of batter into the well greased pan and baked it for about 10 minutes.  We ended up with lots of these!

We ended up with seven total.  My daughter is very organized and she likes things in the right place and order.  Yes she's just 11.  As a result please notice from top to bottom the order of the cake.
The orangey looking layer second from the top is actually pink which I convinced her could substitute for indigo.  Therefore our cake is in perfect ROY G. BIV order.  Can you say OCD?

Anyway, we used plain white buttercream in between the layers.  Obviously we needed more between some layers to make things nice and flat and even.
We then covered the whole thing in buttercream and made the banner and added the large gumdrops which we bought at the party store.

And voila!
Excuse the dishtowel and the mess behind the cake.  It was LATE!!

Here are some scenes from the party!
The artist table all set up

Jenny and our friend Reagan.

The masterpieces!
It was a really fun party and as hard as it can be to see them get big it really is a joy to watch them grow. They sat around and talked and giggled and painted and thankfully did not talk about boys just yet!  So far 11 has been great!

And in case you were wondering, in between the two pictures above she looked like this.

Be still my heart!  Love that girl!

Hard drives, restores and a nervous breakdown

Well that pretty much sums up our computer experience over the last few months.  I should have emphasized the nervous breakdown part.  Computers are like cars.  They should just work.  I don't want to spend my time fixing you.  I have supper to fix I don't have time to fix you too!

It started simply enough with what appeared to be a power supply problem.  As in, it was stone cold dead.  Nothing. Nada.  That happened the week my 8th grader had two projects due.  One of which was a web site he had to build and the other a paper he had to research.  The computer was going to take a week to fix. I seriously asked the apple guy for a school excuse.  We made it through that, but our back up software wanted us to restore the computer.  I'm not sure why.  But it seemed harmless enough so we did that.  Big mistake, big, huge, I have to go shopping now. (Sorry, movie quote!)  Anyway, the restore took forever but the computer was working ok and then.... it all went CARAZY!!!  The computer would not allow us to use more than one application at a time.  As in I cant open pictures and the Internet which means no blogging!  I can't research and write a paper at the same time, etc.  After about a month of that it became completely unusable and there was probably a nervous breakdown or two.  So back the store we go where the little man says it's the hard drive.  They wipe the computer clean.  As in, when I turned it on for the first time it was a blank white screen flashing a question mark.  But two hours and two phone calls to Apple later I had installed an operating system and we were cooking with gas....until I hit the restore button.  After much angst it appears the off site backup we used had some corrupted software or some such computer talk and it was wreaking havoc every time we tried to used it.  It did restore but it took an entire week and then the computer was once again useless.  SO back to the store we go again.  A major issue was that despite the fact that the computer had restored I could not open my picture files.  I was holding the panic at bay but after an hour at the apple store when the man said, "There that should get everything back!" and pressed the button and the message, "picture files corrupted, cannot restore" or some such gibberish flashed on the screen the tears began to flow.  He handled it well, bless his heart but when I say I left with my big old computer in arms with tears streaming down my face it's not an exaggeration.

Too make a long, boring story only slightly shorter I had to walk away from the situation.  Way too emotionally involved and Shane took over.  Many phone calls later my precious pictures have been restored all 17,000 of them (who knew there that many.)  I can once again see my babies faces and that is so good!  We have a new back up system in place and that also so good.  I lost some of the organization of the pictures but at this point it doesn't even matter.

All that to say... I can blog again.  Some may be happy, some may say who cares, some may groan.  Either way, I've been cooking up a storm over here so I'll be seeing you soon!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tim Riggins cookies

I was going to write about chicken today.  I had the whole thing almost written.  It was pretty funny too.  But then I came across this recipe during my morning stroll through the blogosphere and they had me at "Chocolate."  If you scroll on through the post at you will see that she includes some references to Tim Riggins. Now a year ago I wouldn't have known who this was but I have recently watched Friday Night Lights on Netflix and now I most definitely know who Tim Riggins is.  And these cookies fit the bill....really bad, but sort of sweet.  Here is the sad thing about Tim Riggins or actually about me.  When I watched this show I did not think, "Oh WOW that Tim Riggins is one hot cookie!"  Nope I thought, "That Tim Riggins, he needs a mama- Bless his heart"  I think that means I'm old!  That and Tim Riggins would have never even known I exisisted in high school.  And he would have scared me.

SO without further ado I give you "Tim Riggins Cookies"

(I loosely followed the recipe they give but made some changes to accomodate them being GF)

For this you need a chocolate cake mix.  I was skeptical because I don't like to use GF cake mixes.  I just don't like them and they are expensive.  This sucker was over $5.00

I used it though and it worked out perfect.  To the bowl of your mixer add:

1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 stick of butter soft, but not too soft
2 eggs
2 Tbsp buttermilk powder
a dollop of sour cream- maybe 1/3 cup

Mix really well and then drop by tablespoon fulls onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes.

Let me just tell you.  From break open the cake mix box to in the oven was about 6 minutes.  These were so easy to get in the oven!

While they are cooking take your scissors and cut 18 large marshmallows in half.

When the cookies come out of the oven place one marshmallow half on each warm cookie.  Place the pan back in oven for about a minute and a half.

After the 1.5 minutes pull the pan out and give each marshmellow a little squish to flatten it out.  Its all kinds of gooey goodness!

While they are cooling mix up the frosting.  This is also very Tim Riggins like!   Just a bit excessive.  Ok so Tim is very excessive but you get my drift.  Make some frosting!

1 pound powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup evaporated milk (plus a little more if needed)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter
Mix it all up.  Its yummy!

When the cookies are cool pipe it onto the top of the marshmallows.  Some I covered the whole cookie.  Some I covered just the marshmallow.  It was just the right amount of frosting so be a little conservative with it.  Not at all like Tim Riggins.

It's almost Valentine's day so I added some of these.

And ended up with this.

These were really good.  And so completely easy.  Start to completely finished in under an hour.  And they look good too!  Perfect for a school party.  They got good reviews from the 5th and 6th graders at church tonight.

So go make these 'cause they are super yummy and watch Friday Night Lights if you're bored 'cause its a good show.  But don't be like Tim Riggins 'cause he's got issues.  Bless his heart.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thirty one hour pancakes

My daughter stayed up for 31 hours straight this weekend.  Thirty-one.  From 6:00 Friday morning until 1:00 Saturday afternoon.  That's a long time people.

She had a church event Friday night in which they stayed up all night and went bowling, to see a movie and goofy golfing.  Tons of fun!  They ended the night with a pancake breakfast at a local restraunt which is super fun unless you can't eat the dang pancakes.  She made it home about 8:00 Saturday mornig completely wiped out but.......

Several weeks ago I talked to her about taking some acting lessons at a local theater.  She had a friend that was doing it and one of her normal activites was not going on this spring so we thought it might be fun.  The first class guessed it... Saturday morning.

As we say in the south, "Bless her heart!"

When she stunbled in Saturday morning I knew I had to keep her awake for 2 hours before it was time to leave.  If she fell alseep it was all over.

So I made these:

Mini Puffed Pancakes

These are alot like the Brazillian cheese rolls I've shared before.  You put the ingrediants into the blender and blend away.

3/4 cup flour (I used Pamela's)
3/4 cup of milk
2 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp of melted butter (you know I went with 3)
Just a tip: Put the milk in first and then the flour.  I don't like the flour to get all gummy at the bottom.  And I need a new blender-not a walmart cheapy-any suggestions would be great!

Anyway- just pour the batter into a mini muffin tin that has been sitting in your oven while it preheats to 400 degrees.  I actually made these twice this weekend and the second time I spooned the batter into the cups and it did better and I got more. Bake for about 20 minutes. It made about 30 little muffins.

They poof up nice and cute and are very bite sized.  I spooned some melted butter over them (yes I did) and poured some of the good syrup on them and sprinkled them with powedered sugar.  

 I sat them in front of Jenny and went to cleaning the kitchen.  I suddenly realized that my poor, half asleep child was softly singing:

"These are so yummy, so very yummy.  These are yummy.  I really like them."

Bless her heart.

She made it to acting class and back home.  She ate a little lunch and hit the sack.  She slept for about 5 hours but had to get up for her brother's play that night.  She slept great Saturday and Sunday night but based on the melt down over science homework last night - she's still playing catch up.  Either that or compound mixtures are a lot more serious than previously thought.

Either way, make these. They are cute and yummy and will keep a 10 year old awake for long enough to compose an original song.

Recipe adapted from our  And I seriously want  would like to have that heart shaped pan!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dear Middle School Teacher (again)

At the beginning of this week I got an email that it was time to sign up for the teacher appreciation lunch that would be held today.  I have been haunted by the disaster  I took last time and I wanted to show you what I could really do.  So when the email came I took a good look at my calendar and this is what I saw.

I knew this would be a busy few days so I decided two things:

1.  That this would be the perfect time to rearrange my kitchen/ keeping room.

2.  That I would sign up to make a chocolate cake.

Why?  Because I have lost my cotten pickin' mind thats why!

And because I wanted to make this cake for you.  Isn't it pretty!  I knew I could do that.  And I could do it Gluten Free which I felt like would deserve bonus points.  Bonus point which I need in pre-algebra and science.  Not that I would be trying to blackmail you with cake but you understand.  

Anyway-  In my mind this was a beautiful cake.  And then I went a little crazy and started thinking about how I could put it in a cake box and everyone would say "How pretty, Where is this from?"  And I could put a lable on the box with my blog address on it and then everyone would marvel that I had made the cake and how great it was and then someone would read my blog and then they would call me and I would say, "I would love to write a cookbook!"  And that would be great because I was thinking through all of this while I was moving my keeping room all around and I could use the money cause now I need a new rug.

But I was also thinking about the great blog post I could write when I showed off the beautiful cake.  About how you all have made my 8th grader's middle school years so great.  About how much he is going to miss you next year.  About the difference you've made.  I was even going to name names!!

I thought about it yesterday morning and yesterday afternoon-I need to make that cake today.  Last night between church and big projects (you know who you are) and dress rehearsals I made this.

Definately yummy, but its not chocolate cake.

This morning about 6:45 I remembered the chocolate cake.  I would have whipped it out.  I could have whipped it out, but I had to take my daughter to the doctor.  

So dear sweet teachers here is what I brought.

I completed my assignment.  I turned it in on time but I can't help but think that perhaps this isn't what they had in mine when I signed up.

I took the next picture to show that at least it was a chocolate pudding cake.

And I had to ask myself why they are so proud of the artificial flavoring?

Anyway, Kroger cakes are yummy so there's that.  I rarely get to just buy something off the shelf ready to eat so that was kinda fun.  My kitchen is clean and my keeping rooms new arrangement is great!  So all in all I think I have turned another "C" worthy project.  

Next time though I'm getting an "A" if it kills me!