Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Strawberry Angel Food Birthday Cake with Whipped Cream

Oh surprises. They get harder and harder the longer one is married (in my opinion) because not only is most everything shared, you know each other's patterns inside and out. Any slight deviation is cause for suspicion - minus the fact I'm absolutely horrible at lying. I'm great at keeping secrets, just don't ask me too many questions because I have no poker face.

Layered Angel Food Cake in the Works

Fortunately, I had my sister in town to help (otherwise everything seems to take twice as long with a baby) and my husband had to work in the weekend so he was gone in the mornings. We devised a plan to make his favorite cake, an angel food cake. The plan was to make it on Sunday, deliver it to a friend's house who would then bring it to the surprise birthday party location, all while my husband would be at work and have no idea.
Strawberry Face
Well, of course things didn't quite go as planned and we had to make the cake Saturday morning, clean-up the kitchen and air out the delicious angel food cake smell, deliver the cake to the accomplice's house right before hubby was coming home, and then pick up candles (which would explain why we weren't home when he got home from work but we didn't say we went to pick up candles, we went to buy fabric at a store that also had birthday candles...no need to fib, no need for a poker face).

Sunday went fairly smoothly but by the end of the afternoon, he had an inkling something was going on. Why didn't we want to go out later in the afternoon? Why were we so cold we had to go eat right now? Why was I texting so much? Oh boy. Thankfully sweet hubby ended the questions there and let us continue our "plan." He ended up being "surprised" and we all enjoyed cake in honor of his birthday.

Happy birthday hubs! To many more years!

Angel Food Cake recipe from Better Homes and Gardens 75th Anniversary Edition.
(Tips from Better Homes and Gardens on making the perfect angel food cake)

Ingredients for cake:
  • 10 egg whites from large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 cup sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
Ingredients for whipped cream:
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • mandarin oranges, save drained syrup to make simple syrup (optional)
  • sliced strawberries
  1. In a large mixing bowl allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar and flour together three times; set aside.
  2. Add cream of tartar and vanilla to egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.
  3. Sift one-fourth of powdered sugar mixture over beaten egg whites; fold in gently. Repeat, folding in the remaining powdered sugar mixture by fourths. Pour into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Gently cut through the batter with a knife or narrow metal spatula to eliminate any large air bubbles. Wash mixing bowl and chill in refrigerator with beater in preparation for whipping cream.
  4. Bake on lowest rack in a 350F oven for 40 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert cake; cool thoroughly in pan (glass bottles work well for this). While cake is cooling, in chilled bowl, beat whipping cream and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until soft peaks form. With the leftover juices from the mandarin oranges, we simmered it down to a simple syrup and folded it into the whipped cream.
  5. Once cake is cooled, loosen from pan; remove cake and place on serving stand (our beautiful cake stand is packed away so it ended up sitting slightly awkwardly in a pie plate). Slice cake in half horizontally.
  6. With a third of the whipped cream, fold in mandarin oranges and spread on top bottom layer of cake for the middle filling.
  7. Place top half cake on top of bottom half. With the rest of the whipped cream, spread evenly over top and sides of cake.
  8. Arrange sliced strawberries on top and sides (will stick best if pat dry before placing on cake but we didn't have time to do so...fortunately they stuck anyway!).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Guest Blog Post: Keeping Warm in the New Year!

Hello!  Janice here with my first guest blog post on Edible Thoughts.  I've been in town visiting Stephanie and the fam for the past couple of days.  Can you believe this is my first time meeting little miss E?  In between reveling in her cuteness and earning my stay by distracting Ev so she doesn't squirm around during diaper changes, Steph and I have had some time to get creative together, like we so often did when we were young.  She has kindly agreed to let me take control of the write up of our latest collaboration.  Behold, ear warmers!

A sweet bow-quet in Tickle Me Pink, Ladybird Red, All Spruced Up, Teal Me a Secret, Marigold, and Midnight

"Ear warmers?  Really?"  I hear you saying.  Oh, but these are so much more than the boring old headbands that you begrudgingly take out when you finally can't stand the windchill anymore.  In addition to being lined with soft, warm fleece, these babies come in an assortment of eye-popping colors and sport a Texas-sized (translation: huge) bow or rose.  Stephanie got a brand new serger for Christmas, which she used on this new project, and I finally got a chance to do something fun and crafty after a semester hiding away deep in the recesses of the school library...

Roses in Marigold, Teal Me a Secret, Ladybird Red, and Tickle me Pink

All lined in cozy fleece with a velcro closure

 After some trial and error, Steph and I managed to make a total of 15 ear warmers.  Lucky me, I got to try on every single one. Check off "Ear Warmer Model" on my list of life goals!  Steph was, of course, behind the camera, making me look good. :)
Bow in Midnight

Rose in Ladybird Red

Rose in Marigold (or The Yellow Rose of Texas) -- Can you tell this Texas girl is itching to get back to home base (where it's warm)?

Steph's directions were, "Get close to the brick."  I may not be good at many things, but I am EXCELLENT at following directions.

Bow in Tickle Me Pink

Bow in Teal Me A Secret

Bow in Marigold, featuring the ever-so-daring acorn squash

Rose in Teal Me A Secret

Rose in Tickle Me Pink

Bow in All Spruced Up
Sad to be leaving tomorrow, but at least I'll have something colorful to take with me to remember this trip.

Readers, what are some easy but elegant winter crafts you like to make during the holidays?

P.S.  Little miss E got her own ear warmers so she and Mommy can match!  (Seen here.)

Orange-You-Cute Pink Bow Ear Warmer

My sister and I created this "Orange-You-Cute Pink Bow Ear Warmer" for dear little miss E. We used a fun 100% cotton print for the outside and a gray fleece inside. All edges are serged, adjustable Velcro closure in the back, and the bow is hand sewn onto the headband. Look out for more ear warmers, this is one of many.... ♥

Soooooooo cute, we could squeeze her.

And we did.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hello Kitty Beanie

As a little girl, I loved Hello Kitty. I had Hello Kitty erasers, Hello Kitty stickers, Hello Kitty stationary, Hello Kitty pencils, Hello Kitty stuffed animals, Hello Kitty cup, Hello Kitty pajamas....

I used instructions for the bow, eyes, ears, nose from Crochet in Color's Hello Kitty pattern and the base of the beanie from Repeat Crafter Me.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Crochet Owl Ornaments

Snow has fallen. The Christmas tree is up and decorated. Presents are wrapped and stacked on top of bookshelves out of a little elf's reach. Hand blown glass ornaments are hung in windows for the winter sun to shine through. Oh the Christmas spirit is here!

Here's a sneak peak at a project in the works.

Evie enjoys playing with different colored balls of yarn. 

I did a slightly modified version of Hopscotch Lane's Crochet Owl Ornament pattern. I prefer finishing rows with a slip stitch (her pattern goes around without slip stitch ends). I also also made the ornament loop as part of crocheting the sc along the top of the ornament instead of finishing off the row of sc's and then making a separate chain for the loop.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Plum Pink Owl Beanie

Who can resist a plum and pink owl beanie??? 
Love. Love. Love.

Repeat Crafter Me has an easy-to-follow pattern for an owl beanie. Instead of the black buttons for eyes, I crocheted with black yarn for the contrast color. Instead of two ears, I made one "ear" and left it as a bow.

Marigold Pink Owl Beanie

Back to fun color combos!!!! I'm hooked on owl beanies as of yesterday. Two done and more waiting to be made!!! Repeat Crafter Me has an easy-to-follow pattern for an owl beanie. Instead of the black buttons for eyes, I crocheted with black yarn for the contrast color. I also switched back to the first color after the second color to do the final row of sc's for an extra contrast finish. I love love love these (and little Miss E does too!). 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dinner Inspired by an Afternoon Autumn Walk in the Park

Flavor combinations for dinner were inspired by an afternoon walk in the park...so many beautiful reds, oranges, yellows, and dark greens! Result: Curried hake with wilted kale and rehydrated cherries over wild rice and a side of roasted sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts, and pears marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and ginger.

Didn't really measure anything and made up the dish as I went so difficult to write out a recipe.... So here's the gist of the dish! Cooked the wild rice with chicken broth in the rice cooker. While wild rice cooked, made the rest of dinner. Cooked the hake loins in a large Dutch oven pot on a medium hot stove with browned butter. Sprinkled on curry powder and sea salt. Added chopped kale and dried cherries in after turning hake over. For the side of roasted pears, potatoes, and artichoke hearts, I did scribble things down as I went so below is a recipe!

Roasted Asian Pears, Sweet Potatoes, and Artichoke Hearts
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 large Asian pear
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Scrub sweet potatoes. Quarter lengthwise; slice diagonally 1/4 inch thick. Wash, core, and quarter the pears; slice 1/4 inch thick.
  2. In a large ziploc bag, throw in all ingredients, zip up, and shake until well coated.
  3. Mix ingredients on rimmed baking sheet (I find it easiest to shake everything up in a Ziploc bag). Bake for about 35 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork tender. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin. Cinnamon. Roasted vegetables. Nuts. Warm spices. What does autumn taste like to you? These days autumn tastes like pumpkin butter. Mmmm..... Great on fruit, toast, pancakes, waffles, and maybe even mixed into vanilla ice cream??? 

  • 2 15oz cans of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup apple juice (if you really love spice, try apple cider but may need to decrease spices added if it gets too spicey!)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.
  2. Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving. Freezes well too!
If you prefer not giving baby any brown sugar/agave nectar, make a separate batch without or add in the sugar after taking out some of the rest of the cooked down mixture for baby's own jar of pumpkin butter. The apple juice adds some sweetness!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Worlds of Parenthood and Drool Pads

Becoming a parent, becoming a mom, has given me keys to open doors to worlds I only peeked into previously and doors I never knew existed. There is a world of moms who fight fiercely over differing opinions but also band together fiercely for the love of children. There's a world of people who will offer their advice whether you are interested or not and you learn when to smile and nod and when to continue the discussion. There's a world of resourcefulness as you meander through the journey of bringing up a child who literally grows overnight. It's an adventure alright. Everyday there's something to learn and someone to learn from. Keeping our eyes and hearts open with empathy as we explore the worlds of parenthood brings us closer together.

Drool pads for little-miss-drooly-face-working-on-her-eighth-tooth has been our most recent project. It's quick, easy, and functional (necessities for projects these days!). These drool pads fit several different carriers (Ergo, mei tai, and woven wrap). All you need are the following:

  • scrap fabric - two rectangles 6" x 9.5"
  • 1 wash cloth or other towel-like material or something else absorbent - two rectangles 6" x 9.5" (this dimension was perfect from one washcloth after cutting off the hems and then cutting the washcloth in half).
  • matching threads (I used red for the top and white for the bottom)
  • Velcro strips

  1. Match up one towel rectangle to one fabric rectangle, right-sides facing in. Hem around the edge no more than 1/4" and leave 2 inches for flipping it right side out. Complete twice. Trim edges if needed. 
  2. Flip right side out, iron both pads, and top stitch around (make sure you have the right color of thread on top and bottom). 
  3. Cut strips of Velcro to the length of the short end. One strip should be on towel side and the other should be on fabric side. Centered to length of short side, sew on Velcro around all sides.

Babywearing Daddy Alert! (photo added April 2014)

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Egg in a Basket with Pepitas over Honey Greek Yogurt
Everyone has their own version of eggs-in-a-basket (and there are likely as many other names it's called) so this recipe is nothing new. Use any large simple cookie cutter you own to cut out the hole in the middle for the egg and you're good to go!

Ingredients for 2 or a hearty breakfast for 1:
2 eggs
2 slices of bread

  1. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the middle of the slice of bread. I used a large heart cookie cutter because it's the perfect size to avoid egg spilling over in the pan and it's super cute! 
  2. Butter the all sides of bread, including the cut out. 
  3. Place bread in hot nonstick pan. Gently crack egg into each hole of the bread slice. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Flip when the bottom is golden brown and the egg has set a little so it doesn't sploosh everywhere when you flip it (about a minute or two). Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Let egg cook to your desired doneness! 

Enjoying steamed carrots, cucumber, and Cheerios.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blue Purple Jewel Chiffon Infinity Scarf

This infinity scarf is a wash of blues and purples with metallic threading for a subtle sparkle. Super lightweight, wrinkle-free, easy to pack for a weekend get away! Wear it with t-shirt and jeans or that little black cocktail dress hiding in the back of your closet, longing for a breath of fresh air!  

My ever curious little helper.

Check out the scarf on Etsy! (Baby not included)

Black & White Cosmos Poppy Infinity Scarf

Those who know me well, know I love scarves. I love making them. I love wearing them. I love looking at other people wear them.... Anyway, I love this new fabric I found. It's a silky polyester that has a nice weight so it sits well. The bold black stems remind me of ink blot prints. The white is crisp and the colors are fun for transitioning from summer into fall. 

Check it out on Etsy!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chunky Curry Beef Stew

With a baby crawling through the house, meal times can be tricky between cooking, sitting down to eat as a family, cleaning up after a messy eater, and cleaning up the kitchen. This hearty stew is delicious for the whole family (the chunks are soft and easy for Baby Foodie to feed herself) and because it's a one-pot-dish, that means less to clean too! 

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 16 oz beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 cups vegetable or beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped into wedges
  • 4 small golden potatoes, chunks
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, chunks
  • 3 carrots, chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  1. Place flour and curry powder in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Add meat cubes, shake to coat. In a large Dutch oven, brown meat in hot oil, drain fat. Stir in stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes, or until meat is nearly tender. 
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, return to boiling before reducing the heat again. Simmer, covered for about 30 minutes more or until meat and vegetables are tender.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Oh my, pecan pie. Buttery. Nutty. Chewy. Flaky. Why do I only think of you when the leaves start changing colors? I suppose the other seasons have their foods too so it is best to save pecan pie for the fall to not miss out on all the other delicious seasonal sweets. Anyway, mmmmmm.... pecan pie.

For the crust, I used half the recipe of Smitten Kitchen's All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough Recipe. For the filling, I used a combination of what's written on the back of the corn syrup bottle and the recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book 75th Anniversary Edition (used the less butter and less sugar parts of each recipe...and then added in a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to line the bottom of the pie...).

  • 1/2 recipe of Smitten Kitchen's All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough Recipe
  • 3 slightly beaten large eggs
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup (I recommend using light instead...didn't think it would make the pie look so dark!)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups pecan halves (I ended up adding 2 cups because I used a deep dish pie plate)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Prepare single-crust pie pastry for a 9-inch pie plate.
  2. To make filling, combine eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and vanilla. Mix well and then stir in pecan halves.
  3. Place pastry-lined pie plate on oven rack. Pour in chocolate chips evenly onto bottom of pastry shell. Pour in pecan filling.
  4. Bake in 350F oven for 30 minutes. To prevent browning, cover edges of pie with foil and then continue baking for another 30 minutes (insert a knife or chopstick in the center and it should come out clean). Cool on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. 

To make it extra special, whip up some cinnamon whipped cream or melt some additional chocolate to drizzle on top!