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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

Steve requests this cake every year for his birthday. It is such an easy cake and is absolutely delicious! 

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 small box of instant chocolate pudding
1 bag chocolate chips (I use dark chocolate)
1 3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp cocoa
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp water
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup powdered sugar

Combine the cake mix, pudding, and chocolate chips. In a separate bowl combine the beaten eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate ingredients. Mix by hand until blended. 

Pour into a greased and floured bunt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. 

Set on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. Then remove from pan. 

For the glaze, combine cocoa, water, oil, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until smooth. Add the sugar and mix well. Drizzle the warm glaze over the cooled cake. For an added bonus, we also put on some homemade caramel sauce. 

Mexican Cornbread

Our local librarian shared this recipe with me. I believe it came from the Land O' Lakes website. I loved it! 

20 oz ground turkey
1/2 of a large green pepper, chopped
1 med onion
1 16 oz jar of salsa
1 can corn, drained
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp chili powder

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (I never have buttermilk, so I just mixed 1 Tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of milk and let it sit until I was ready to use it.) 
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Olives, sour cream, and salsa optional toppings

Cook ground turkey until browned. Drain the grease. Add the remaining filling ingredients (green pepper, onion, salsa, corn, garlic powder, and chili powder). Reduce heat to low. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, make the crust. Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the buttermilk, butter, and eggs just until moistened. Spread on the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch pan. 
Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. 
Spread meat mixture over the cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until crust becomes brown. 

Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Continue baking for about 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

This could be served withe sour cream and salsa. 

F is for Fire Craft

For one of our crafts this week we made a fire out of tissue paper and construction paper. The boys used a pipe cleaner and cotton ball for a roasted marshmallow effect. 
Rachel decided she didn't want to glue hers down. So she pretended to actually roast her marshmallow over her fire! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

40th Birthday Cake for Sports Fan

My cousin was celebrating his 40th birthday today so we came up with this cake for him. He is a big sports fan so we incorporated the Detroit Lions, Detroit Tigers, and Michigan State Spartans into the cake. 
I was just going to write on the top of it, but decided it was too plain with that. (And I had extra fondant, so I made a different cake topper.) 

I colored the fondant and created this guy and the chair. 

For a final touch, I created a tv out of fondant and wrote ESPN Top 40 on the tv screen. (The only problem was the frosting had left its color on the top even after I took it off. The chair covered up most of it though.) 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Baseball Field Cupcake Cake

My boys are huge Tiger fans. So, when they found out that Miguel Cabrera may not make it to the All-Star Game, they were pretty upset. They decided to take matters into their own hands. We made cakes for a lot of occasions, so they immediately thought to make a #VoteMiggy cake. The boys came up with the design. I just baked and arranged the cupcakes. I do have a square cupcake pan, so all the cupcakes that went in the middle of the design were square cupcakes. 

I used fondant to make the D and the bases. The rest is just cake decorating frosting. The boys wanted to add Teddy Grahams for players as well. I think it turned out pretty well! Plus, we shared it with David's minor league baseball team that night. They all loved it! 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Funfetti Donuts

I came across this recipe on Pinterest. ( We all loved it. I have used this to not only make donuts, but also little "Timbits" (the kids' favorite!)

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 to 1/2 cup sprinkles

1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and sugar in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, sour cream, egg, vanilla, and butter. 
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix until just blended. Fold. in the sprinkles. 

Place in a greased donut pan. I do this by putting the batter in a plastic ziplock bag and snipping off a bottom corner of the bag. I make six donuts out of this batter and about 6-8 mini donut holes. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Place on a wire rack when they are browned. 

To make the glaze, either just whisk the ingredients together in a bowl and dip the donuts into it. Or, to make it set a little better, combine the ingredients in a saucepan and whisk on low until it is warm and smooth. Then dunk the donuts in the glaze. I find that I have plenty of glaze left when done. (I usually only glaze the top of the donut.) 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Kindergarten Graduation Party

Our school doesn't do a Kindergarten graduation, so a few of the moms got together and created our own little ceremony. We all had so much fun, and we got some really cool pictures to save for their high school graduation. 

For decorations, I made a "red carpet" runway out of a plastic tablecloth I bought at Dollar Tree. It is just folded in half and taped to the floor. I cut out stars from glitter cardstock and wrote each kid's name on the star. 

The runway led to another red tablecloth that was opened up all the way. This was our "stage". I used rolls of decorative mesh I bought at Michael's for the backdrop. (This is one roll of black and one roll of red.) 

I just found some scholarly-looking things around the house to place on the end table. (A globe, some old school books, and a miniature school desk. 
On a large chalkboard I wrote Congratulations Class of 2027. 

The graduates' table had their cap and gown and time capsule form. 
I bought the caps and gowns from Oriental Trading. The gowns could be purchased individually, but the caps came in a package of 12. They came with a small yellow tassel. I cut that off and hand sewed on a black 2027 tassel that I made. 

Each kid filled out these All About Me forms for our time capsule. I bought a pack of 10 of these sheets at the Dollar Tree. 

We measured the kids with a piece of yarn. This piece of yarn secured their All About Me form. It will be really neat to open these when they are seniors graduating high school to see how much bigger they are than the piece of yarn. The kids also brought some items that represented things they really liked at this time in their lives. They also each brought a current picture. We placed this in a sealed plastic container and are planning to open it after they graduate high school. 

I printed some certificates for each kid and their teacher signed it. We called each kid up to the stage to get their certificate and a medal. (One of the moms ordered graduate medals from Oriental Trading. She also got them a 1st grade book and graduation duck. They received all of these things while they were on the stage.) 

We took turns taking pictures with some of the stage props. 

The best pictures of the day came when the kids were throwing their caps in the air! 

It was a beautiful day. Everyone brought a dish to pass and a lot of the parents made up little goody bags for the kids and helped with decorations, so it was not a lot of work and we will have these memories forever! 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ice Cream Cone Rice Krispie Treat

David is lucky enough to have a teacher that takes the time to celebrate all of the summer birthdays. Tomorrow is David's day to celebrate. For his early birthday treat, we decided to make some "ice cream cones". 

He helped by filling each of the colored cones with two mini candy bars. (You can't have an empty ice cream cone!) 

Then I made a double batch of Rice Krispie treats. I used a large scoop and my hands to shape these ice cream scoops. (Make sure you spray your hands with cooking spray. That will make it easier to mold the treats.)

I then used melting chocolate discs to color the Rice Krispies.  He picked out the colors. You could do any color you want. I used a spoon to spread on the melted chocolate. Then we put on some sprinkles. To get the treat to stick to the cone, I used a butter knife and spread some remaining melted chocolate around the rim of the cone. Then I stuck the treat on top of the chocolate. It stayed really well when it dried. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Class of 2027 Graduation Tassel

I tried to find a graduation tassel for the class of 2027, but I could not find anything. So, I decided to make my own.

I started by wrapping black yarn around a piece of cardstock that I cut about 5 inches long by 2 inches wide. I pulled the yarn off of the cardboard and tied a separate piece if yarn in a knot around the top, creating a little loop. Then I cut the bottom part of the circle so I had the stringy, tassel look.

I bought some number stickers from Joann Fabric to add the 2027 touch. I stuck the stickers to a piece of black cardstock. Then I cut that out and hot glued it to the yarn.

Kindergarten Graduation Photo Board

David is finishing up his first year of school. I decided to make some things to help us celebrate this first step in his educational career. 

I just cut a rectangle out of a tri-fold presentation board. I put decorative tape around the cut-out. Then I used sticky-back foam to decorate the rest of the board. Because it is just the sticky foam, I can change out the years and reuse the board for Rachel when it is her turn. 

Everyday Hero

One year ago today, the world lost the perfect example of an Everyday Hero. While trying to figure out a way to honor and remember my Grandpa, I decided to pledge this week after Memorial Day as a time to recognize all of those "Everyday Heroes" in my life. We don't always take the time to recognize those people that go above and beyond every day to make this world a better place. Whether it is helping a neighbor, saying encouraging words, volunteering, being a positive role model, taking the time to help without expecting anything in return...the list goes on and on. So, I am going to start by remembering a man that fit all of these things and so many more. I encourage you to take a moment to recognize those people that strive to make this world a better place by being your Everyday Hero...

Because I always want my children to know the impact this man had on the world, I am sharing the eulogy I wrote for his funeral...

It’s hard to know where to begin when talking about the legacy Grandpa left on this world. He was a man that touched so many lives. His smile, love, and compassion will never be forgotten. He lived his life to the fullest and will be missed terribly by us all.

There are so many memories I have of my grandpa, as I am sure each and every one of you sitting before me has as well. Anyone that knew my Grandpa couldn’t help but feel connected to him. That is probably the reason all of my friends, my cousins’ friends, and every other kid that saw him at the school or the ball field called him Grandpa Ross. The twinkle in his eye, compassionate smile, and words of encouragement made everyone feel special.

And it wasn’t just kids that looked to him for advice and guidance.  After reminiscing last night, I learned that many looked to my Grandpa when times were tough. There was something about his calm nature and words that could leave you with the feeling that you could get through anything.  

Grandpa was always making sure everyone else was taken care of. He never thought of himself first.  This was especially true in all the work he did for his community. His job as a fireman and fire chief was not something he took lightly. I remember being so proud to say that my grandpa was the fire chief.  As a child, there were countless occasions that grandpa and my dad would be sitting in our living room and the pager would go off. To watch them gave me butterflies in my stomach.  They never said a word, just jumped up, raced to put their shoes on, and ran out the door. They were almost always the first ones to check in at the hall. I was so proud of the job they were doing and the honor they took to do everything they could to help. 

Grandpa also took care of his community with his work for the DPW.  If anyone needed a well dug, they called on my grandpa. There was something remarkable about the way he could tell just where to dig to find water.  And we all remember the countless weekends he gave up to go to the well house to make sure everything was working so the people of the town didn’t have a disruption in their water service. Squeakers and Grandpa would come driving down the road in his silver truck and we all knew where they were going and what they were doing. He even took us kids with him sometimes for the ride.  Speaking of going for rides with Grandpa, I will always remember the way he could get us going by revving up his engine and getting to 55 as fast as possible.  But. On a more serious note,  I remember hearing the story of Grandpa saving a man’s life because he took the time to notice that something wasn’t quite right with the way the man was walking. And sure enough, Grandpa’s quick actions did save that man that day.

Not only did Grandpa take care of his community, but he also made sure his family came first. I don’t recall Grandpa and Grandma missing any of our ball games, events, or birthdays. They were a presence we could all count on. I will forever be grateful for them dropping everything they had going on to take me to AAU tournaments for entire weekends. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to play.  And it wasn’t uncommon to see their big white and teal van packed to the brim taking kids to events. And Nick and I will never forget the countless times he came to our rescue to fix one of the church windows that got in the way of our basketballs and baseballs.

Grandpa always carried a 50 cent piece around with him just in case someone lost a tooth or even a fingernail. The story  was that he always saw the tooth fairy when he was down at the well house and she would give them to him. And it is the very reason that I always got 50 cent pieces from the tooth fairy and why those same 50 cent pieces show up when the tooth fairy visits my house today.

I am sure my cousins and siblings can all remember the famous cookie jar Grandpa had. I remember being at Grandpa and Grandma’s and waiting patiently for Grandpa to come home during his lunch break or after work. He would sit down and eat his chicken noodle soup, bologna sandwiches, ice tea, and coffee  And we would wait until he was done and he would reach up in the pantry and get us all Fig Newton cookies. As time went on and the great-grandchildren came, that cookie jar turned into a Tootsie Roll jar. Now both generations have a special treat to remember grandpa by.

We all saw the love he shared with Grandma too. They were in sync with one another—knew what the other was thinking, could complete each other’s thoughts, and together shared a love that most others can only dream about having. We all learned what love is through watching them.

The thing that I miss the most is seeing Grandpa on a daily basis. Seeing him in his blue uniform, driving the lawn mower, working on the roads, mowing the church lawn. And everyday Grandpa would stop by our house to deliver the newspaper.  And we would all sit around on the bar stools, mom would give him whatever dessert she had baked that day, and we would just talk.  The same things happened every Sunday before Grandpa and Grandma would go to church. I will also miss stopping by their house and watching Wheel of Fortune, Mayberry, Grandpa’s Toys, or Andy Griffith with him. And any day that Michigan State football was on, you better believe we all watched that with him, whether it was at the actual game or sitting in one of our living rooms.  It is those little moments that really mean the most to me.  He was such a big part of my daily life.

You see, my grandpa wasn’t just my grandpa. He was so much more. He played the same role in my life that his son is now playing in my kids’ lives. The bond that is shared can never be broken. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal. Grandpa, your spirit lives on in all of us through the amazing life you chose to live and the relationships you made. All of our lives are better because you were a part of it. The example you set and the love you shared made all of us the people we are today. Your smile, your carefree nature, and selfless attitude is something that will never be forgotten.  Thank you for being you and for taking the time to make me, me.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Cake

My kids are definitely visual learners. So, to help them understand the concept of Memorial Day, I came up with these cakes. I just baked a 10x12 inch cake and cut it into two triangles. I covered each cake with homemade fondant and cut out the shapes for the cakes.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Flag Pancakes

To get our Memorial Day Weekend started, we came up with these flag pancakes.  I made my pancake batter: 1 1/3 cup flour, 1 1/4 milk, 1 egg, 1 Tbsp baking powder, 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp softened butter, and 1/4 tsp salt. 

I poured the batter in a hot pan (as close to a rectangle as I could). 

After the pancakes were cooked, I added, blueberries, strawberries, and Redi-whip. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Frogs Made from Oreos

David has snack day tomorrow. We saw a picture of these on Pinterest, and he decided they would be perfect to take in for his friends.

I did five frogs at a time. I started by dipping the mini pretzel twists in melted green chocolate. I placed them on wax paper. Then I dipped an Oreo in the green chocolate. I placed that on top of two pretzels. Then I added candy eyes, some green sprinkling sugar, and a cut up red gummy lifesaver.

(I did 30 of these frogs with under two bags of green melting candy.)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Apple Tree Cupcake Cake

For Teacher Appreciation Week, we decided to take in a treat to recognize all of the teachers at our school. 

This tree is made from three batches of cupcakes. I made the apples out of red fondant. I cut them with an apple cookie cutter. I used a grass tip to frost the tree part and the grass on the cupcakes at the bottom. 

I couldn't find a cake board large enough to fit this, so I covered a tri-fold poster display board. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Doorway Poster

For Teacher Appreciation Week, we wanted to do something different for David's amazing kindergarten teacher. My kids absolutely love to paint; we paint 2-3 times per week at a minimum. So, this project was something everyone loved doing together. 

I used white crafting paper that is sold by the roll at Hobby Lobby. We painted the background blue, added some green for grass, and then let it dry. While it was drying, we cut squares out of sticky back foam to eventually become the kites. We wrote the names of all of David's classmates on a "kite". When the poster was dry, we stuck the kites to the paper. While we attached the kite, I placed a piece of ribbon under the kite so that would stick to the poster as well. Then we added some stickers and a message to the poster. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

"May the 4th" Be With You Cupcakes

My boys love Star Wars, so we usually celebrate May 4th, "Star Wars Day". This year, we just made some cupcakes. I made Darth Vader out of melted black chocolate discs. After melting the chocolate, I spread it on a piece of wax paper. When the chocolate was dry, I added white frosting accents. The light sabers are made from extra fondant I had and some melted chocolate on the ends.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Detroit Tiger Birthday Cake

For this cake, I made two 10 x 10 inch cakes and put one on top of the other. (I colored the white cake blue and orange for an added feature.) I rolled out a large piece of blue marshmallow fondant. Then I added a strip of white around the bottom of the cake. I put a smaller strip of orange in the middle of the blue and white. 

Then I twisted orange and blue fondant and made that the border around the cake. I just freehand drew an Old English D and placed that on the cake. The trick was to cut it on my fondant mat and place a piece of wax paper over top of it. The D feel on top of the wax paper. Then I was able to transfer the D by turning the wax paper over on top of the cake. 

The finishing touch was making four baseballs out of leftover fondant. I placed them on the corners of the cake. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teacher Birthday Cake

David's teacher always makes the kids feel so special on their birthday, so we thought it was fitting to surprise her with a little treat on her birthday. 

I started by making a batch of marshmallow fondant. 

I split up the fondant and colored equal amounts of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. I pulled a little bit of the fondant and colored it light brown (to be used as part of the colored pencil). 

I cut strips of each color of fondant and made them into a loop. I put a little rolled up piece of paper towel in each loop and placed it on its side so it could harden in the loop shape. I let the bow sit overnight. I also made some twisted pieces for the bow, but I only ended up using a couple of them.  

I made two 8 inch cakes for the bottom layer and two 6 inch cakes for the top. I covered them in regular white cake decorating frosting. It would have looked neater with fondant, but I figured it would be easier for the kids to eat with the regular frosting. 

With the remaining fondant, I rolled out each color of fondant and cut the color part of the colored pencil. Then I added a little of the brown fondant on the top of each pencil. I cut a little triangle for the tip of the pencil. The finishing touch was to add each kid's name on the pencils. I added the pencils to the cake and put a little ball of rolled fondant between each pencil. Then we added a row of colored fondant balls to the top layer of the cake. We wrote "Happy Birthday Miss Davis" on the top layer. 

Then we placed the bow on top of the cake.