"I never did quite fit in the glamour mode. This life with my husband and family, that is my high right now." ~Patty Duke

April 20, 2011

Nothing says spring like COCONUT CAKE!!

Growing up my grandma made a coconut cake at every Easter dinner. It is tradition in my life...like turkey on Thanksgiving. It is just the food I associate with Easter. Hers ways usually covered in green food color dyed coconut and jelly beans. :) I decided to not follow the whole tradition and kept it traditional white with toasted coconut on top. This is her recipe with a few minor tweaks (sorry grandma!). Hopefully it makes its way to your Easter table this year...

Coconut Cake

1 package plain white cake mix
1 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups granulated sugar
1 16oz sour cream
10 ounces coconut

1 1/2 cups of reserved filling
8 oz. cool whip

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare to 9 inch cake pans. Mix all cake ingredients with an electric mixer until well blended. Batter should be thick and smooth. Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake in preheated oven for 28 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on wire wracks. Run a dinner knife around the edges and then invert to remove cakes. Invert again so that the cake cool completely upright.

Once cakes are completely cool, mix together the filling. Stir together all filling ingredients until well combined. Cut the cake layers in half so that you have four layers. (You can do this with a large bread knife, a piece of thread, or even dental floss!) Reserve 1 - 1 1/2 cups of filling. Use the rest to layer between the cake layers. It will go on pretty thick.

To make the icing, fold the reserved filling into the cool whip. Ice over the assembled cake layers. Again, there is a lot of icing, so it goes on pretty thick. You can easily leave the cake like this...it is really pretty and looks really impressive. I toasted coconut and let it cool then topped just the top of the cake with it.

April 19, 2011

One of my favorite recipes...

I cook almost every night at my house. I think it is a much healthier option for my family, not to mention SO much cheaper!! Of course, I love to cook, so that makes it easier I guess. But this recipe is so easy and so delicious that I think everyone will share my opinion. It takes about thirty minutes from start to finish and only uses one pan. Fast, easy clean up, and taste great!

Creamy Shrimp with Corn and Bacon

1 cup long grain white or brown rice
4 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
10 ounces frozen corn
salt and pepper

Cook rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp. Let cool and then break into pieces. (I usually cheat and cook mine in the microwave, but you can use a skillet...just be sure and drain and wipe out the grease before continuing with the recipe.)

Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add wine or stock and cook until reduced by half.

Add the cream and bring to a boil. Stir in the shrimp, corn, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Simmer until cooked through. Stir in the bacon and serve over rice.

April 07, 2011

Cannoli Cake

This cake is a take on the Italian dessert. It admittedly takes a little more effort than most of the cakes I make, but it is SO worth it.

Cannoli Filling:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup milk (I have used everything from whole to soy...it all works!)
15 ou ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Oil and flour for prepping pans
1 package white cake mix
1 cup milk (again, I have used whole, skim, and soy, whatever you have!)
8 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
3 - 4 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the filling, place the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan and stir in the milk. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens and is bubbly (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and let mixture cool slightly. Put ricotta in a large mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until creamy. Fold in cooled milk mixture, orange zest, and vanilla. Blend with the electric mixer on low speed until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover and put in refrigerator while you bake the cake.

For the cake, prepare two round 9 in cake pans with oil and flour. Preheat oven to 350. Place cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with the mixer until well combined. Batter will be thick and well combined. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake for about 28 minutes, or until golden. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run and knife around edge of each cake and invert onto rack. Invert them again so they are right side up and allow them to cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare frosting. Beat butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Add in powdered sugar and milk alternately until a smooth frosting is formed. Beat in vanilla extract. Add more milk if too thick, add more sugar if too thin.

To assemble the cake, slice each cake in half horizontally using a serrated bread knife. Start by putting a little buttercream frosting on the bottom of your serving plate...this will hold your cake in place as you stack. Place one layer on top of the buttercream and top with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Top with another cake layer followed by another 1/3 of ricotta mixture. Do this one more time and then top with last cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the buttercream. Place cake in the refrigerator for at least one to two hours before serving to allow it to set. Store any leftovers in the fridge as well.

I love this cake because it is not overly sweet and finishes off any Italian meal perfectly!! :)

How to make sidewalk paint

For the first day in what feels like FOREVER Oklahoma was not windy today. So my boys have spent a lot of time outside. To help fill up some play time I made them sidewalk paint. They loved it! And this is all you need:

1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
food coloring

Mix the corn starch and cold water in a plastic container (we used plastic cups so they could just be thrown away). Add 6 - 8 drops of food coloring and mix. Repeat as many times as desired to create as many colors as wanted.

I then sent my boys outside with their cups of paint and paint brushes and away they went. When the color first goes on, it looks a little dull, but it dries much darker. And of course, it washes away with water.

April 06, 2011

Foamy Paints

We made these today, and my five year old has seriously been entertained for hours!! Not only have my kids LOVED them, but they were super easy. Here you go:

White shaving cream
Food coloring
Plastic ice cube tray or a muffin tin or small containers

What to do:
1. Place a little shaving cream into muffin tin sections or in each container.
2. Add 1 to 2 drops of food coloring to each section and mix with a small spoon.

This is a great way to help teach kids which colors mix together to create new colors...you can totally let them explore different options. And you do not have to let them limit the paint use to paper. Since it is shaving cream you can use it on arms and legs (I will probably try this once it is warm enough to play in the sprinkler outside!)
We used paintbrushes and paper today for the most part...but of course my three year old had to do it his own way! His hands were soon covered in the paint. For the most part he washed up just fine, but some of the darker colors stained his hands a bit. (Just be forewarned!)