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Thursday, December 30, 2010

30th Birthday Disney World Adventure!

Yesterday, December 29, 2010, was my 30th birthday! Crazy! I'm a real grown-up now. If the marriage, mortgage, and children didn't do it, surely turning 30 did. :)

We were trying to figure out what we were going to do for the big day because I do have a birthday at a rather difficult time of year to plan ANOTHER party... slap in the middle of Christmas and New Years is a bit tricky! I said, "Why don't we just take the kids and go away for the day?" We tossed out a few ideas and decided to sleep on it. The next day, out of the blue, I received a text message from the lovely Joy Turner. It said something like, "So this is random, but would you guys be interested in 3 free tickets to Disney World? The only catch is that they have to be used before December 31, 2010." UHHH, WHAT!?!? YES! Thank You, Lord! And Joy! And Happy Birthday to me! So a free trip to Disney World was on the agenda. We headed out early yesterday morning and had tons of fun with the kiddos the whole day through. It was Aspen's first trip to Disney, so that was especially fun. For the record, I have NEVER seen Disney as full as it was yesterday. They were actually turning people away! There were cars parked on the grass perimeter of the parking lots! IN.SANE. Totally fun, but IN.SANE.!!!

Also, on the way home, I got to eat dinner from Miami Subs! Man, I miss that place. If you have a serious Miami Subs craving, I know there is one at exit 94 on I-4! (You have to be really devoted, obviously... or maybe pregnant.) Anyway, I was pretty thrilled about that!

Quincy asked me at one point yesterday if I felt 30. I told him that in some ways I felt more 30, and some ways I felt less. I felt less 30 because, well, I was at Disney World. I felt more 30 because, well, I was thinking about the length of the lines, parking, crowds, keeping track of my children, diapers, taking pictures, and not just being totally lost in the "magic" all day. I suppose that is the life of a grown-up! Anyway, I wanted to share some photographic highlights from the day. Enjoy!






























Momma's German Chocolate Cake

So, my birthday cake is German Chocolate. It is by far, the best cake ever. I will forewarn you that it is complicated and messy, but it is worth every bit of the time and effort. I have no idea where I found this recipe. I wrote it down in a little family recipe book, and we've stuck with it ever since. It is DELICIOUS. Seriously. I hope you try it and love it!

Here we go....

Cake:

  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 TBS water
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (Just so you know, I think this is an excellent and incredibly underused cooking ingredient. It pretty much makes everything better!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 TBS rum
Filling:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 oz. butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pecans (You can toast and crush these if you prefer.)
  • 1-1/3 cup coconut
Icing:
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 TBS light corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream

To prepare the cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350. Grease three 9-inch round pans.
  • Melt both chocolates together with 6 TBS water. Stir until smooth. Set aside until room temperature.
  • In mixer, beat butter and 1-1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate, then egg yolks, one at a time. (Save egg whites for later.)
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the rest of the dry ingredients.
  • Separately, beat egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar until stiff.
  • Fold about 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites until there is no trace of egg white available.
  • Divide batter evenly into greased pans.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes.
To prepare the filling:
  • Mix heavy cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium sauce pan. 
  • Put the 3 oz. butter, salt, coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
  • Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon.
  • Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan mixture. 
  • Stir until butter is melted.
  • Cool completely to room temperature.
To prepare the syrup:
  • In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. 
  • Remove from heat and stir in the rum.
To prepare the icing:
  • Place 8 oz. chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1-1/2 oz. butter.
  • Heat the heavy cream until it just begins to boil.
  • Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.

To assemble the cake:
  • Once everything (cake, filling, syrup, and icing) has cooled to room temperature, assemble as follows.
  • Bottom layer of cake.
  • Drizzle syrup on top of bottom layer.
  • Layer 1/3 of filling on top of bottom layer.
  • Add second layer of cake.
  • Drizzle syrup on second layer.
  • Layer 1/3 of filling on second layer.
  • Add third layer of cake.
  • Drizzle syrup on third layer.
  • Add final 1/3 of filling to top of cake.
  • Use the icing to cover the sides of the cake. Pipe a border at top and bottom if you wish. If not, it's still delicious!

Remember to use your new NEW awesome Kitchen Aid mixer! (Long story!) By the way, Quincy got me one of these awesome SideSwipe beater blades for the mixer. It is totally worthwhile for the icing!


Here's a looksy at the cake batter. YUM! Yes, we eat the batter. No, we have not yet died of salmonella.


Since it's a once-a-year event, it is worth the investment of GOOD chocolate!


And RUM! hahah! This is one of those miniature bottles because the recipe only calls for 2 TBS, but I did chuckle to myself as I toted my 3-year-old and almost-1-year-old into the Wal-Mart liquor store to purchase this $1.47 gem. You can actually use any kind of rum, but I figured a little Captain Morgan Spiced Rum would be perfect! It is, by the way.


I kind of stopped taking pictures during the process... but here is the final outcome!


YUMMMMM!

Is your mouth watering yet???

Add a candle...

And make a wish! My wish was to start eating cake! It came true!!!



The first slice... and it came out perfectly!

Let me know if you make it! Also, if you are opposed to even cooking with rum, you can definitely still make this without the syrup at all, and it will still be SUPER delicious!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grandma's Christmas Oven Mitt

Here are my 2010 Grandma gifts (SPOILER ALERT, MOM!)!

I will forewarn you that I neglected to take a few pictures because I was hurrying, but hopefully my explanation will suffice!


First, trace (or estimate, in the case of an unwilling baby) the hands of your little ones. I just traced them on to a file folder, because I had one available. I think it's easier to use card stock or something a little heavier, just because little fingers are hard to work with using tissue paper.


Normalize the baby's guesstimated hand, and then cut them out!


Find a dirty oven mitt. Wash off the yuckiest part. Photograph it while still wet and mostly dirty, and post it on your blog. HA! Really, you just want to find one to trace about an inch larger than its size in order to allow for  the seam allowances plus batting.


Pin to the fabric, and cut it out x4. The 4 pieces will be the front, back, and 2 inside lining pieces.


Pin the hands to the fabric, and cut them out as well. I actually ended up pinning each individual finger because that was easier.


If you are out of Wunder Under, just use some fabric glue to attach the hands to the oven mitts! ;)


Let them dry for a little while if you used glue. 


Do a tight zigzag stitch around the hand.


I then added some embroidery to my oven mitt, each of the children's names and year. 
Next, prepare your layers. I used the outside fabric, a layer of fleece, a layer of batting, and the inside fabric. 


Pin all over, and quilt through all the layers.

Repeat for the opposite side of the glove.


Pin the edges of both sides of the glove together.


Sew a straight stitch around the edges, leaving the bottom inch open on one side.


Sew an overcast or zigzag stitch around the edge, after you've trimmed it. You really have to trim in tight to the crotch between the thumb and fingers of the glove. I know you just laughed at the word "crotch." 

Here is where I omitted some pictures. 

Prepare or use prepared double-fold bias tape. Attach it to the bottom of the glove (which is so much easier since you've left the 1 inch open. Leave a length of about 3 inches of extra bias tape on one side. After you have sewn it in the inside, flip it around to the outside and sew a topstitch, which extends all the way down your extra length of bias tape. Now, turn your glove inside out again, and sew the 1 inch opening closed, with the extra bias tape folded into a loop INSIDE the glove, ending back within the seam allowance of the glove. Turn it right side out, and you are done!