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.