Growing Out On A Limb


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Fun in the Kitchen with Oliver

A couple of weeks ago Oliver and I decided to make some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  Yum.

Oliver is more and more interested in helping me in the kitchen lately, which I love and welcome wholeheartedly. ¬†I love that he’s interested in what I’m doing and wanting to help.

He’s a great little helper and wants to do everything himself. ¬†He’s really good at watching me first, before diving in himself. ¬†He even watched me crack an egg to learn how, then did his own with no stray pieces of shell … I was impressed!

He loves to stir.  He must be working hard if the tongue is out!  

Serious work!  

Dirty hands…¬†

And here it is, what I suspect is the real reason he likes to help:  

Licking the spoon and getting his fingers into the mixing bowl!

Hey, he is his mother’s son.


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Spider Pancakes

In the spirit of Halloween, we made Spider and spider web pancakes this weekend!

The only trick to these is to put the batter from whatever recipe you like into a squeeze bottle. ¬†I’m not sure we’ll ever have plain old pancakes again! ¬†The possibilities are endless… letters, cars, Christmas trees, snowmen.

Oliver thought these were pretty fun.  But as long as there is syrup, he is happy.

Look at me, whipping out another idea I saw on pinterest. ¬†As much fun as it is to browse pinterest for ideas and inspiration, it’s much more fun to actually knock a few of them off the list (and in most cases, less time consuming!).


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Oliver’s Mater Cake

Every time I asked Oliver what he wanted on his birthday cake, the answer changed… Mater, Cars, trucks, airplanes. ¬†I had to land on something and Mater was the most common response so a Mater cake it would be!

I originally planned to do a fondant-covered cake like I usually do but I wasn’t sure I would have the time to actually ¬†make Mater out of fondant. ¬†Not to mention that I wasn’t at all sure that I would be able to do it well.

Then I remembered frozen buttercream transfers, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while anyway. ¬†It’s a great method for creating images and is much easier than direct piping, which I am really not good at yet.

There are tons of great tutorials out there but here it is in a nutshell:  Print your image in reverse (i.e. mirror image).  Tape it to a flat surface.  Lay a piece of wax paper over it and tape that down as well.  Using dark buttercream, pipe the outline of the image.  Then use your other colors of buttercream to fill in the image, keeping in mind that you are going to flip this over when you are done so the colors you pipe on first will be on top.  Pop it in the freezer for at least 90 minutes (or overnight) and then flip it onto your cake before the party.

This was a marble cake with chocolate buttercream filling and peanut butter buttercream on top. ¬†It was like eating a big peanut butter cup… yum!! ¬†(Note to self: ¬†I’m not sure peanut butter buttercream was the best choice for the transfer since it has a slightly greasy consistency compared to regular buttercream … either that or I should have thinned it more because you shouldn’t see the individual piped lines of icing in the transfer… but it looked ok in the end).

And Oliver says he liked it and that’s the most important thing of all!

Here’s a closeup of the transfer. ¬†Can you see the fingerprints on Mater in this shot? ¬†My goodness, Oliver is quick!




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Homemade Play Dough

I think I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that Oliver is really taken by play dough lately.

He loves to get out his “tools” so he can make different tracks or manipulate it in a different way. ¬†He often says, “Mommy, I need a different tool!” so I’ll go digging through the drawers to find something new… cookie cutters, a fork, tongs … whatever he can easily handle and lets him play in a slightly different way.

But – and I’m pretty sure this is not just us – commercial play doh dries out quickly! ¬†He might get four or five uses out of it before it is not as soft and hard for him to work with. ¬†Adding a few drops of water helps but it never returns to the same consistency again.

So I decided to try my own. ¬†I googled ‘best play dough recipe’ and came to this one. ¬†My first reaction was that having to cook it on the stove was more work than I wanted to put into it (must have been having a lazy moment) but it was well worth it. ¬†It only takes a few minutes, a few ingredients, a bit of coloring and you have play dough that is a really great consistency and will apparently last for a long time (we’ll comment on that down the road)!

So far I’m impressed with it and Oliver has no complaints!

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour

1 cup salt ¬†(I reduced this based on a reader’s comment and it turned out fine)

3 cups water

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp cream of tartar

Food coloring for color.

 

DIRECTIONS

Mix all ingredients (except food coloring) in a large saucepan. ¬†Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and gets too thick to stir. ¬†You’ll know.

Remove from heat and let cool until you can handle it.  Place on counter, add food coloring, and knead until smooth.

Store in an air-tight container.

Oliver’s figuring out the tongs here.

Here he’s using a ravioli cutter – it makes a neat wavy track. ¬†

And this is a dinosaur!  Rawr!  


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Mmm… chocolate!

I made these Oreo truffles on Christmas eve morning, as Brian and the kids played around me.

When I got done dipping the truffles in the chocolate I left the dishes where they were and went down the hall to do some other Christmas-related chore. ¬†I came back to the kitchen to see this hiding in the corner, hands behind his back, looking as innocent as anything and with a face that says, “Umm… what?!”.

Then I looked over into the living room to see this…

After I snapped that picture I went back to the kitchen to find …

Dad-dy!  I guess licking the spoon is one of the finer things in life that one needs to appreciate early on.

“Umm… more please!”.

“Mmm mmm!”.


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Emery’s Birthday Cake

Here are a few pics of Emery’s birthday cake.

It was a chocolate cake (recipe¬†here) with a vanilla chocolate chip buttercream filling. ¬†It tasted good but didn’t have a wow factor in my opinion, although I can’t put my finger on exactly what was bringing it down. ¬†The fondant is rolled marshmallow fondant (I always use¬†this recipe).

I wasn’t real sure about the colors when I was done putting it together Saturday night. ¬†They looked a bit better Sunday morning and look even better in these pictures. ¬†I especially like the starred top. ¬†The top needed something else though so I put candles on top before serving.