Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Doctor Ultrasound

This past Thursday was our official ultrasound for Baby Buckeye. It is confirmed that he is a he.  He is still measuring a week larger too. He is already 1 lb. and over 10" long. According to averages, he should only be 1/2-3/4 lb. and about 10".

Here are couple pictures and videos of the ultrasound!  We hope you enjoy them.

3D picture of his face
Love his little nose and lips :)

His whole body
His head is on the left and he is looking at you.
His feet are on the right.


It's definitely a boy!

This is a profile of his face.
He likes his hands by his face!

You can get a pretty good view of his spine in this one.
You are seeing his profile again only his hand is down by his tummy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Cake Secrets, Part 1

Leona's 1st Birthday cake
My masterpiece that took like 4-5 hours just to decorate! YIKES!
Ok...so I have been having some people ask about how I make my cakes....so I thought I would share some of my secrets. If you have any secrets, please leave a comment!!!

How do you get a moist cake?
I am surprised that when I google that this isn't a common helpful hint...so I will let you in on my secret.  You need 3 main things to have a moist and yummy cake. (I believe I learned this from my Kindergarten teaching partner, Linny, and my Grandma Robinson.)
1. Use a good recipe.
If you need a good chocolate cake recipe...gotcha covered (just look below).  Seriously...I just love my recipe from my former Dorm-Mom Michelle. Cakes from scratch are really simple. Unfortunately though the recipe below does not hold up well if you are planning to cut your cake. It is too moist when cut. All cake brands from a box are not created equal.  Dunkin Hines is my favorite...but this is only part of the puzzle because you can make a cheap cake still be moist. My favorite blog for goodies is Cookies and Cups. She has some FANTASTIC recipes!
2. Don't over bake it.
As far as not overbaking it...keep your eye on it.  Place a toothpick in the center...if it comes out clean with just a very slight amount of batter...it is done. Most of the time I watch it for the last 3-4 min. of the time given.
3. Put the cake in the freezer to lock in the moisture.
MY BIG SECRET is putting it in the freezer.  Allow it cool so you can touch the pan without screaming :) and cover it. I use plastic wrap and then foil.  (The plastic wrap will keep it from sticking to the foil.) If you have a lid to your pan, this could work too. Place it in the freezer.  Most of the time I bake it and freeze it the night before but there isn't much of a time limit.  I would say at least 5 hours but up to several days ahead of time. Really a cake can last all kinds of time in the freezer, but without the icing on it, I wouldn't try to keep one for weeks or anything.

NOTE: Some people also choose to substitute applesauce for the oil in the recipe. I don't see this as necessary, but whatever works for you :)

How do you make shapes?
This is probably more tricky to explain.  There are several techniques! First, here are some basics:
1. Cookie Cutters
You can make any shape you can find a cookie cutter in.  Simply use a round 8" pan.  Bake it. Freeze it. Push the cookie cutter down into the cake a little and then trim with a butter knife.
2. Cut-it Out
Bake it in a pan that will fit your shape. Freeze it. Find a shape you want---either draw it or print it out. Cut out around the shape and any spaces that you want cut-out on the cake.  Place the paper on your cake as a template and cut it out with a knife.
3. Use a shaped Cake Pan
You can just buy a cake pan that has the shape you want.  Often you can spend $12-20, but this may be your only choice.
4. Use different shaped pans to get the same result
Use heart shaped pans for hearts or wings.  Use bread pans for skinny rectangles. Use bowls for mounds, bee hives, or dresses. Use deep square pans for castles. Use muffin pans for small round parts.

Some fun examples
Here are som fun pictures I have collected from online or from friends:
From Leona's 1st Birthday
body: bread pan and cut out a smaller circle from a 8" pan
wings: heart pans
mini butterfly: 8" pan and cookie cutter

From my college roommate, Jenn
dress: bowl
doll: use a special cake doll or any clean doll will do
Love Strawberry Shortcake
Leona's 2nd Birthday cake
pan: used an Elmo shaped cake pan
(it was almost harder than using my own template)
From online
made from cupcakes

From my husband's cousin, Becky
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
What a great idea!! I just love it!!

Found online
directions here: http://thetravelingtable.com/blog/desserts/dinosaur-cake-grrr/

found online

Found online
pan: use a bowl

 As you can see, what you can imagine, you can create. As far as decorating the cakes...I'll have to make another basic post for that :)

Easy Oil Chocolate Cake
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup baking cocoa
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 300'.
2. Grease and lightly flour pan(s). This will make a 9X13 or (2) 8" pans.
3. Put everything in the bowl and beat. (batter will be thin)
4. Bake for 20 min or until toothpick comes out with just a tad bit of batter on it.
    (Sometimes this can be over the 20 min. depending on the shape of the pan.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apples Galore

So for the past month I have been making some apple butter and apple pie filling to give as gifts this Christmas.  I thought you might all enjoy learning how and looking over some pictures of the process.

Also...for the apples, you need to use cooking apples such as MacIntosh or Fuiji.  My hubby asked why I wasn't using Jonagold or Honeycrisp since they are the best eating apples, but you want a soft, tart apple for your recipes.  DON'T even bother with Red Delicious!

Crockpot Apple Butter recipe (yield: 6-9 half pints)
5 1/2 lbs. of apples, peeled, cored and quartered
3 cups sugar (or splenda)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
dash of ground allspice

Supplies Needed
large crockpot
measuring teaspoon and 1/4 tsp.
measuring bowl or cup
food processor or chopper
canning supplies: canning pot, 6-9 half pint jars, lids, rings, wide-mouthed funnel, jar lifter, & thin spatula
freezer or fridge supplies: tupperware

Step 1: Prep the apples!
5 1/2 lbs of apples washed

my personal assistant helping clean up the peels

peeled...now time to core them

apples are peeled, cored and
Step 2: Put the apples in a food processor or chop them as small as you can. Then, add them to your crockpot.
Put the apples into the crockpot.
She's getting ready to add the ingredients.
Step 3: Add in the other ingredients.
3 cups white sugar (or splenda or mix)

What a great helper!

2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

a dash of allspice
1/4 tsp. of salt
Step 4: Stir well.

Step 5: Put the lid on and cook on high for 1 hour. 

Step 6: Reduce heat to low (keeping lid on) and cook for 9-11 hours. It will be dark brown and like an applesauce state. Often times I cook it one day for 5 hours, cool it, and put it in the fridge to continue the process the next day.

Step 7: Remove lid and cook on low for 1 more hour. The apple butter is done when you can take a spoon full away from the heat and it will stay mounded on the spoon.

Step 8: Store it. There are 3 ways...
>You can freeze it in freezer tupperware like Gladware.
>Refridgerate for immediate use.
>Can it by putting it in a 30 min. water bath.

Don't know how to can it...it is so simple!
1. You'll need 6-9 half pint jars or 3-5 pint jars with lids and rings. Wash jars and lids in very hot water. Dry.
2. Boil water in a large canning pot. You'll need it to be deeper than your jars.
3. Using the funnel pour the apple butter into the jars leaving about 1" from the bottom rim of the jar.
4. Using a small spatula poke down around the sides to let out any air bubbles.
5. Clean around the rim of each jar making sure there isn't any apple butter on it. This will prevent sealing.
6. Dip a lid into the boiling water and hold it there for about 3-5 sec.
7. Set the lid on top of the jar. Screw a ring on it leaving it a little loose.
8. Using a jar lifter, place your jars into the water. Make sure the water covers the top of the jars.
9. When it is boiling, leave them in for another 30 min.
10. Carefully lift the jars out onto a heat resistant pad or rack.
11. Allow them to cool 24 hours. You should hear the seal pop within minutes of removing it from the water bath.
      If not, either try resealing or put it in the fridge to eat up.

Apple Pie Filling (yield: 7 quarts)
6-6 1/2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
10 cups water
3 Tbs. lemon juice

-Put sliced apples into quart jars leaving about 1-1 1/2" head space. Use warm jars if possible.
-Combine the all the other ingredients (except the lemon juice) in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.
-Add lemon juice to pan. Stir well.
-Pour over apples in jar using a wide-mouthed funnel.
-Using a skinny spatula, poke down around the sides to remove extra air bubbles.
-Follow the canning process above using a 20 min. water bath.
-You can freeze the filling too.

Shelf life is about 2 years.  I would use up any open cans of pie filling within 5 days and open cans of apple butter in about 2-3 weeks.