Monday, February 18, 2013

February blog angel - Halfway there

Once again this month I have been engaged in the blog angel project that is the brain child of Rosie from Craftbotic.  I have to be honest, this round has been a little more difficult for me, just because life seems to get in the way.  Apologies up front to my blogger (to be revealed at the end of the month) for being a not-so-great angel.  My support so far has been a few comments and a few pins. 

One of the struggles I often feel with being a blog angel is feeling like I'm not doing enough.  I haven't jumped on the social media train for my blog, so my only source of help is comments and pinning.  However, I think any little act of kindness makes a difference, so hopefully my angel feels the love from my meager efforts.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cooking lesson: Cream Puff Cake

Every year I like to make a fun Valentine's treat for my family.  This year I decided to make my own version of a Cream Puff Cake from the Cake Boss show.  My version uses pastry, yellow cake, chocolate ganache, strawberries and a cream cheese filling.  It's a little time intense to make, but delicious!
Cream Puff Cake
1 sheet puff pastry, baked
1 yellow cake mix + ingredients to prepare
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cubes butter, softened
2 lbs. powdered sugar
3 tsp. vanilla, divided
2-3 Tbsp. milk
16 oz. strawberries
3-4 kiwis, sliced
1 package mini cream puffs

Prepare cake mix according to directions.  Place half the batter in an 8 or 9-inch square pan.  Bake according to package directions.  Allow to cool completely.

Ganache: Place chocolate chips in medium glass or metal bowl.  Over medium heat, bring cream to a boil in small saucepan.  Remove from heat and pour over chocolate.  Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Cream cheese filling: Using electric mixer, combine cream cheese and 1 stick of butter.  When creamy, add 4 cups powdered sugar and 2 tsp. vanilla.  Mix until smooth and fluffy. Place into pastry bag with large tip and set aside.

Buttercream: In another large bowl, cream other stick of butter.  Add remaining tsp vanilla, 4-5 cups powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp. milk.  Mix well.  If needed, add extra milk to reach spreading consistency.  Set aside.

Slice 4-5 strawberries.  Set aside.  Using a potato masher, smash 5-6 strawberries in small bowl.  Set aside.

To assemble cake: slice puff pastry horizontally to create two square pieces.  Place one piece, cut side down, on serving platter.  Using pastry bag, cover with cream cheese filling.  Top with sliced strawberries.  Top with cake layer.  Pipe filling around top of cake.  Place pureed strawberries inside filling line.  Spread about 1/4 cup of ganache over strawberries.  Place pastry layer, cut side down, on top of strawberry and ganache filling.

Frost with buttercream.  Place cream puffs around cake edges.  Pipe fancy edges, if desired.  Spread ganache on cake top.  Decorate with strawberries and kiwi slices.  Drizzle ganache over everything.  Refrigerate until serving.

If you try it, please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Adventures with a 3-year-old and the toilet

I've kind of inadvertently taken a bit of a blogging break for the past couple of weeks.  I swear it was only a few days and now we're almost halfway through February!  Around here, we're trying to potty train Bugaboo.  We've been kind of half-way doing it for months, until I realized that we'd managed to replace these:
with these:

Same purpose, but with the advantage of going up and down easily and the disadvantage of costing more.  So, we've (read: ME!) been more diligent with cloth underwear and use the "sleeping underwear" for naps and long errands.  Still probably not the best idea, but it works better.

So, the other night I told Bugaboo that it was time to go potty before he went to bed.  He raced upstairs to the bathroom and threw the lid of the toilet up.  Then he looked inside at the freshly cleaned bowl and reached his hand in.  I told him that was gross and grabbed a towel to dry his hand.  As I turned to set the towel on the counter, in went the other hand!  I grabbed the towel again, and dried hand 2, just in time for hand 1 to plunge back into the water.  We did the drying routine again.  This time I just dropped the towel and pulled his underwear down.  He quickly stepped out and plunged both hands in the bowl!  He had that little mischievous glint in his eye and started giggling. 

Another round of towel drying and dropping, then as I reach to sit him on the toilet, he giggles, turns and starts splashing again.  This time I keep hold of his wrists as I dry his hands and get ready to set him on the toilet.  That is, until I feel an unusual warm spot on my leg.  I glance down to see a growing puddle and a wet spot on my jeans.  At least he had fun.  Maybe sticking with diapers isn't such a bad idea, after all.

What's your best potty training moment?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

30-Day Love Challenge

Have you heard of the Big 30 Love Challenge? This is a fun new project sponsored by Amanda of Amanda Lynne Designs and Sarah of Life on Walnut Street.  In essence, you and your spouse/significant other exchange little love notes for the next 30 days.  I think this would be great to expand to my family as well.  Hmm, what kind of fun little storage container can I find for our family love notes?
Hop on over and check out the details, plus the free love note printable.  How can the next 30 days enhance your relationships with those you love?