Deli Kindergarten School Lunch

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For tomorrow’s lunch (for my big boy), I went with a tried and true theme – deli! I packed a ham and cheese pita, a few pickles, a mandarin orange, some red grapes, a few whole wheat Ritz crackers, and some lemon poppyseed Bundt cake.

Happy Friday Eve!

Kristin

Snowman Cupcakes

What a sweet week it’s been! And it’s not over yet. I’ve got more baking to do. So far this week, I’ve made Christmas Crack Candy, Christmas Chocolate Cake, Christmas Tree Brownies, and lastly, for now, Snowman Cupcakes!

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I took the semi-homemade route, again, this time. So, these were pretty easy. Sort of. I’ll get to that. But if you plan to make them, they will be easy.

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Aren’t they darling? I was in charge of dessert for my Bigs’ class’ birthday party for Jesus today. I thought about going the Jesus/religious symbol route when it came to decorating, but I was nervous about the kids having to eat Baby Jesus. It could go all kinds of wrong. I’ve seen some cute Jesus decorations, but knowing me, I’d make a disaster out of it.

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So, I decided on snowmen.

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I like the way they came out. I really enjoyed making these.

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And just like real snowmen, they each have their own little personalities*.

*decorating inconsistencies

These cheerful cupcakes were delicate and had a soft crumb, were rich in chocolate flavor (thanks boxed mix!), and covered in a delicious, fluffy, marshmallow-y frosting. The crushed peppermint added a refreshing, festive flavor. These were a hit!

Snowman Cupcakes

1 box of your favorite cake mix (or one batch of homemade) – I used chocolate

ingredients used to make cupcakes

silver cupcake wrappers (other Christmassy ones would be cute too)

1 batch of 7 Minute Frosting (recipe below)

candy canes, crushed (I crushed up 12, but didn’t need it all)

Wilton Icing Decorations, snowman variety

Follow the directions on your cake mix box and bake cupcakes, as directed. Let them cool completely. You can expedite this process by placing the cupcakes in the freezer or refrigerator.

While those are cooling, make your 7 Minute Frosting (recipe, directions, and a short story below). I iced the cupcakes using a swirled effect, to make them look peppermint-y. If you want to do that, you’ll need to paint a stripe of food coloring (I used Americolor Red gel) on the inside of your icing bag, before filling it with the frosting.

Once the cupcakes were iced with the swirled frosting, I sprinkled them with the crushed candy canes, and placed one of the Wilton Icing Decorations on top.

I ended up making the frosting twice.

7 Minute Frosting – Recipe #1

Source: Paula Deen, Food Network.com

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup (I used white corn syrup)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
I have made this dozens of times before, and it’s always turned out beautifully, but ran into a problem this time. I used the white corn syrup, while I usually use the cream of tartar. I had both on hand, so I’m not sure why I chose the syrup. Anyways, it didn’t set up and the sugar didn’t fully melt. It was a grainy, soupy mess. And I know that my boiling water wasn’t touching the bottom of the glass bowl on my double boiler. Ohhhh wellllll.
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I tried a different recipe for the second batch. I actually used a recipe I hadn’t used before and it worked out perfectly.
Fluffy White Frosting – Recipe #2
Source: allrecipes.com
1 C white sugar
1/3 C water
1/4 t cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 t vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes.
I’m sure that either one you choose will work out fine. I’d stick with the cream of tartar though. That one always works for me. #nowiknow #lessonlearned #themoreyouknow
Since I only needed a dozen cupcakes, I had a little fun with my leftover batter.
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I baked a mini chocolate bundt cake. Then, I filled the hole with the red swirled marshmallow frosting (the good batch), sprinkled crushed peppermints on top, took a few pictures of it, then ate it, off of my “Cookies for Santa” plate. It was good. I had to test my product before it left my kitchen. Bakers and Chefs, you know this. It’s an important part of the process. I did this for you.
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I happen to know that Santa loves his (or her) cookies, but would not turn down this sweet little bundt cake, if you left it out for him (or her).
Blessings!
Kristin

A Beautiful Sight, Happy Tonight

Sleigh Bells Ring

Sleigh bells ring! Can you hear them? If you squint (I have to squint to see practically anything and you know what? When I’m trying to listen really hard, I squint then, too. I’m too young for such problems!!) and listen really hard, you can probably hear them! It’s so close! Christmas is so close! Can you believe it?! It is just slightly over four weeks away! That’s only four weeks to shop (and to write Santa) and to plan your baking and cooking and to celebrate Jesus and the Advent. Oh. And to get that dreadful Elf out of the back of your closet. I almost forgot. Oops. I love him, I do. He’s part of our family now. Duncan is very sweet, you know, for a pretend elf filled with cotton stuffing and wire. It’s just that I have to think of so many different things for him to do each night! And I’m just so tired at the end of the day! It’s okay though. Truly, if it makes Bigs and Smalls happy, then I am happy. I’ll rally. I can man up. Thank goodness for Pinterest – it does most of thinking for me on this one!

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I know that for me, getting this close to Christmas means that I lots of wrapping to do, cookies to bake, four beautiful Advent church services to attend, Christmas themed kid lunches to dream up and make, Christmas parties and playdates to enjoy and lots more. Busy busy busy. I don’t know how I’ll do it. Some days (every day??), the energy just isn’t there. But the spirit of Christmas will keep me going!

What will you bake to bring to your Christmas or holiday parties? Perhaps I can share some grainy (lol) pictures and a few recipes?

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I love baking for the holidays. I love finding new recipes and trying them out. I don’t think I’ve made the same thing twice. It seems like every year, there are so many new and exciting recipes to try. I used to try to make about 5 different kinds of cookies, but as my children have grown, my time to devote to such things has lessened, and so has the variety of cookies I make. But that’s okay! The ones I DO bake, hopefully, make up for the lack in assortment. And I enjoy making cakes and bars, as well. Those are more for the parties rather than the cookie tins, but fun, nonetheless. I also like to try new recipes for those each year.

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I ADORE fresh cranberries. They are so deliciously tart. I love their shiny, red coat and their delightful pop when eaten. I prefer fresh over dried for most recipes. This Cranberry Cream Cheese Bundt Cake was divine. I served it sliced with Sugared Cranberries in the middle. I love those things. I could eat the whole lot.

http://www.jasonandshawnda.com/foodiebride/archives/1218/

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sugared-cranberries-10000000554659/

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Here is another presentation where I used the Sugared Cranberries. I added a few sprigs of fresh mint. I love love love fresh mint. The cookies are soft, chewy iced ginger cookies. I actually don’t have a favorite recipe for this one. I seem to lose the recipe each year, having to search out a new one. I like them chewy, not hard, and soft, but not crumbly soft. But…I’ll eat any kind you place in front of me.

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Now, these…these were simple. I made boxed brownies (before I was super “daring” and made my own) and used a Christmas tree cookie cutter. I then made a simple icing sugar glaze and added green food coloring. After spreading that on the trees, I added red sprinkles and a teeny white star sprinkle atop each tree. For the cookies, I added peppermint extract to a boxed sugar cookie mix and used the same glaze as the trees (only with red coloring) and added crushed peppermints on top. This was easy. Not gourmet. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way. But this is still cute if one is in a time crunch!

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Staying in the cookie(ish) family are these lovely Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookie Bars. You know those frosted cookies you see (frosted to match the color of whatever holiday is near) in the front of almost every grocery store bakery, that are so oddly expensive and so ridiculously delicious and soft? Well, these are those. In a bar form. Like a whole pan can just sit on your lap and you can just use a fork. I mean, if that’s the sort of thing that you do. I don’t do that. Ever.

http://cookiesandcups.com/lofthouse-sugar-cookie-bars/

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And lastly, for now of course, you can transform just about anything into a dessert worthy of the proverbial “Holiday Table” by adding festive sprinkles. They (I) don’t call me (myself) “Sprinkles in my Lunchbox” for nuffin’ (as Bigs would say)!! I found these adorable sprinkles (a mix made of Christmas trees, gingerbread boys, candy canes and snowflakes) at Ross. This is a simple Texas Sheet Cake (no favorite recipe, although, people…just you know, people, swear by The Pioneer Woman’s recipe).

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/the_best_chocol/

Christmas cupcakes

Have a blessed, sweet Monday,

Kristin