Monday, November 30, 2015

Recipe - Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

I combined a few recipes I found online and came up with these delicious pumpkin cupcakes with caramel cream cheese buttercream.  I've been making cupcakes a every other week for the last couple months, and selling them for $1 a piece in order to earn a little Christmas money.  I made these cupcakes just before Thanksgiving, and they were a hit.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and pumpkin pie spice on low for 30 seconds and then on medium for two minutes.  Divide batter evenly among 24 muffin tins.  Bake 19 minutes or until cakes are completely cooked in centers.

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup caramel ice cream sauce

Beat cream cheese, butter, caramel and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer until blended.  Gradually beat in sugar.  Blend in salt.  Pipe onto cupcakes and garnish with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

One Lemon, No More, No Less

My sisters and I continued our traditional dinner at Cracker Barrel to celebrate Mom's birthday.  I feel like I usually keep myself together pretty well, emotionally, on "commemorative" days concerning my mother's passing.  Not that I don't still grieve and that her absence doesn't still hit me hard, but it is usually at random times when I struggle with her being gone.  That was not the case this November 12.  I was sad, all day.  I think because I have been really wanting her advice concerning some aspects of my life.  She was the best at giving advice... whether someone wanted it or not!  And I definitely am wanting it right now.  She was a very wise individual, and often when I couldn't see the right path, or couldn't grasp how I should deal with a situation, she knew just what to say to comfort me and help me.  I miss that.  I miss her.

On a lighter note, I find myself even missing her silly little idiosyncrasies; behaviors that used to irritate me a bit, are now treasured memories.  Like her very specific, very direct, instructions to waiters concerning her beverage order.  She always ordered water with "one lemon, no more, no less," said emphatically, with direct eye contact, and with her index finger pointed in the air.  She only wanted one lemon and she didn't want to waste.  She would feel quite frustrated when waiters would mistakenly bring her several lemons.  So the request became more and more vehement, to the point that I, her easily embarrassed teenage/young adult daughter, though it came across as rude.

Who would have thought that such a silly tradition would carry on.  But it has, for when the three of us daughters get together each year, in memory of our dear mother, a request for water with "one lemon, no more, no less," is always made.  And it is said very wholeheartedly, with unwavering eye contact, and an index finger confidently raised.  And although a waiter, taken aback by our directness, may not crack a smile, I believe my mom does.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Recipe - Ready to Go Frozen Green Smoothie

I've been trying to put our Vitamix to better use, not that whipping up delicious homemade hot chocolate is necessarily a bad use.  We all love smoothies, but rarely have the time or all the ingredients on hand to make them for breakfast.  I decided to freeze a bunch of smoothie ingredient bags in the hopes that we would incorporate healthy green smoothies more often.  It's worked like a charm!  We all love this recipe and it's so easy to just throw it in the blender, adding a couple wet ingredients, and have it ready to go in a pinch.

Ready to Go Frozen Green Smoothie

1/2 banana
1 cup pineapple
1 cup strawberries
1/2 orange
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup water

Combine all fruits and spinach in a small freezer bag and store in freezer.  When ready to prepare, put contents of the freezer bag in a high powered blender.  Add yogurt, honey and water.  Mix on smoothie setting.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Reflections - Let Your Imagination Fly

Palmer and Brody participated in the school Reflections contest this year.  The theme was Let Your Imagination Fly.  I was on the PTA committee over Reflections (this was my second year doing so) and was over facilitating the judging, so our family was all about Reflections for the past month.

Brody submitted a visual arts entry.  He made a Lego representation of our family as robots.  He has such a great imagination and is amazing at building with Legos.  I was so impressed!  I love how he made Greg's robot so tall, how my robot has long yellow "hair," how his robot has big eyes, and how the twins' robots are similar.  He put a lot of thought into his creations.

Palmer entered a short story titled "The Lost Chick" in the literature category.  It was cute.  The chick in the story gets lost and he and his family go looking to all of the places Palmer deems coolest in the world: i.e. Disneyland, Legoland, Winnemucca and China.  

He also entered this picture he called, "Fire in the Sky," for photography.  It won a merit award.

And he spent weeks putting together this mobile.  He took selfies and drew himself as different things he could be when he grows up.  He titled it "Imagine My Future."  He won an excellence award for it!  He was so excited and proud to have his name called at the school assembly, twice!  His mobile is going on to the next level to be judged now.

I was a little concerned about Brody being sad that he didn't win, while Palmer did.  I gave him a hug as he was walking out of the assembly and told him he did a great job.  He said thanks and then excitedly told me that Palmer won and that he was so excited for him.  Melt my heart; I just love that kid!

I'm proud of my creative, artistic boys!  I only volunteer for two of the committee through the school year: Reflections and Parent Teacher Appreciation.  They are the events I am passionate about.  So the fact that my children are also into finding an artistic outlet and exploring their creativity makes me one happy mom!