Saturday, October 29, 2011

Classic cake recipes from Mom

I almost feel like I'm revealing some family secret by sharing these recipes. : ) These recipes have been classics in our house since we were little. My mom stayed home with us in our growing up years and one thing she did on the side was make cakes for people. She's great at it! She took a cake decorating class and took off from there. She doesn't make decorated cakes as much any more, but she occassionally makes her caramel cake for special occassions. My favorite is her chocolate cake...yum! I don't have that recipe with me today, but I'll be sure to post it later...or maybe I already have. Oh, well...I'll have to go search for that one! : ) I'm including her red velvet recipe, too. There's never been a recipe that has compared to this one. Even in our favorite cupcake shop, my sister and I agreed that it just doesn't hold a candle to mom's. The batter is incredible, too. My sister and I used to fight over who would get to lick the bowl! : ) So, enough are the recipes!

Red Velvet Cake
1 1/2 cups Wesson oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vinegar (white or apple cider)
1 teaspoon cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 oz. red food coloring

1 box 4x powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1 8oz. cream cheese
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Bake at 350 degrees in a greased and floured sheet cake pan. Frost with cream cheese icing. Enjoy! ( Sometimes, I only use 1 cup of Wesson oil...try it both ways and see how you like it best!).

Caramel Cake
1 cup Crisco
1 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
4 eggs (separated)
Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time. Slowly add flour and milk alternately. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in mixture. Bake in 3 greased and floured cake pans until done at 350 degrees.
(Burnt Caramel Icing)
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Put 3 cups sugar, milk, and butter in large boiler. Bring to a boil and let cook on medium heat. As soon as mixture starts to boil, heat small fry pan and sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar slowly into pan as you stir and it melts to a golden syrupy color. Add to milk mixture that is on medium heat and stir until boils again. Test mixture for soft ball stage. When reached, pour mixture into large glass bowl, add vanilla, and mix with electric beaters until consistency is ready for icing cake layers.
This is a very tricky has taken me lots of practice to get it right, but it is one of the best cakes ever! I put the cake layers in the freezer to cool them off, then ice them as soon as the icing is ready. Humidity affects the outcome sometimes...Good Luck!!

She isn't kidding about that tricky caramel cake! On more than one occassion I've seen Mom fighting that icing : ). It's always delicious, though!!

Enjoy! Stacey

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's playing...

"I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me" (Chapter 17). Jane says this when she sees Rochester again after his absence. She had tried to talk herself out of loving him, but it was impossible. This is also an example of one of the times that Jane addresses the reader.

Good stuff, right? Ok, so I'm sort of back in my loving Jane Eyre mood. I think it needs to be read...again. I think I've read it twice already, but it's hard to remember. I've seen about 4 different versions of the movie and it just never gets old. My mood got started the other day when I watched the newest remake of the movie...and absolutely loved it. It is definitely an abbreviated version (only 2 short hours : )) so you don't get the complete effect, but I thought the acting was wonderful and the set/costumes looked very authentic. That's kind of how I felt after watching the newer version of Pride and Prejudice. I love the old version...all 6? hours of it...but if I want a nice little taste of Jane Austin in a short amount of time...I pop that in. So here's a little taste of what I saw the other day...

Some of my favorite scenes. I love it! There are so many versions of this movie...and I think I've seen almost all of them. I can't help it...I think this version is my favorite. Warning...this clip has some spoilers!

So do I have you hooked now? I think you have to like this movie genre to really like this movie, but if you're a romantic like me, this kind of story will get you every time! The book also helps us to see more of Jane's character. That's what I really loved about reading the book. I would definitely recommend it.

Now what have the kids been watching? Joe and I have introduced them to *some* of the Star Wars movies! I can't even remember the first time I watched Star's been a family favorite basically forever. My brother is a HUGE fan. Not kidding...he has hundreds of Star Wars collector figures still in their boxes. At one point he hung them all over the walls of his bedroom. There are multiple light sabers and other stuff still at my parents house. Now the grandkids love playing with them. We haven't let the kids see all of the Star Wars movies because we thought some were a little too intense/scary. We did let them see episode 2 (I'm talking about the newer ones) and the other day I let them watch the original Star Wars. Afterwards Sophie said, "Mom, Luke Skywalker is so handsome!" I couldn't help but laugh about that!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Food Experiments: the good, the fun, and the runny

Ahhh, fall. I love you. It's the season of long sleeves, pumpkins, and apples. Last year we were able to go to North GA to Burt's Pumpkin Patch (incredible!) and got a little pumpkin to carve. I still have hopes to go somewhere a little closer and get one this year. But, just in case we don't, I wanted to do something at school that involved food and fall. I had heard several facebook friends buzzing about making caramel apples. I've never done it, so I thought it would be fun. I didn't have a recipe, just some words of advice from a friend who's done it before. So, I ran over to the Dollar Tree and snagged me up 4 small bags of caramels...and off we went!

I had some large popsicle sticks to use for our little experiment, but I saw these skewers in a drawer and thought they might work better. I snipped off the end to shorten it a little and the pointy end went right into the apple. I was glad I used these instead.
It may not look like much, but it took me forever to unwrap all of those caramels! I got the girls to help me, but after about 5 minutes they both gave up. I would definitely recommend doing this part ahead of time. I added about 2 teaspoons of water to them before putting them in the microwave. I would strongly recommend using more water! Our caramel was so thick. You'll see the results of that in a minute. Towards the end I added more water to try and thin it out, but I added too much. You'll see that on down, too : ). After adding the water, I heated the caramels in 30 second increments. If you stir the caramel and it's really thick...add a little more water. I would only add a teaspoon at a time, though. Too much and it'll be really runny.

Even though I didn't really know what I was doing...these girls always have fun! And I have fun with them!

I look at this picture and I can't help but smile! And laugh to myself! The girls did a great job decorating our apples with sprinkles (and successfully covering my kitchen floor with said sprinkles). The apples that have caramel just oozing off of them were the thick ones. The apples that barely have any caramel on them were the thin ones. They may look runny, but they tasted great!

That same night I cooked supper and really wanted to share this other little experiment. I've made this several times and the whole family loves it. It's easy, too. I call it "Asian spaghetti".

What you need:

1 pack ground turkey

1 small onion

1-2 garlic cloves, chopped

soy sauce

1 package of Yakisoba noodles

How I cook it:

This is just what I put together. If you have other things, like an egg you'd like to stir fry in, other herbs...go for it. It'll probably taste good. I cut up my onion first while my wok is heating up. I add a little olive oil and put my onions in. I chop up my garlic and let it sit. Once my onions are glassy, I put in my turkey then throw in the garlic. I don't know if that's the right order to put things's just what I do. As I'm cooking the turkey, onions, and garlic, I put in several shakes of my soy sauce. You can add more/less according to your taste. While my turkey is finishing up, I get my Yakisoba out. It's basically a large pack of ramen noodles that come with some freeze-dried veggies and a pack of seasoning. You add water and the veggies and pop it in the microwave for about 4 minutes...and they're done! I usually don't add the seasoning pack and drain any excess water. Then I pour the noodles in with my meat and if I think it needs more soy sauce, I add that too. Viola! A meal is ready.

By the way, I didn't even own a wok until about a year ago. I got mine at fact it was a gift...but I know it only cost about $5. Great deal! Mine has held up really well and I would definitely recommend it!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taco Ring...the Stacey way

I saw someone make this and it was really good! I didn't have the recipe, but I had what I thought were the ingredients, so I just tried to wing it. I believe it's a Pampered Chef recipe. It turned out great. The hubby loved it and so did Sophie. Here's what you need to make my version:

1 lb ground beef (I used the lean stuff)

2 cans of crescent rolls (I used reduced fat)

1 small onion

1 pack of taco seasoning (I only used about 1/4 of the pack, but you can use as much as you want)

shredded cheese of choice (I went with cheddar)

Step 1:

Lay out your crescent rolls in a sun shape. I started with the first can of 8 and made a circle with it...4 on top, 4 on bottom. Then I took the second can and filled in the spaces. I kind of pressed down where the crescents overlapped to thin it out a little and to make some extra space to make room for the meat to come. I don't have a Pampered Chef circular I went with the plain old round pan. Worked just fine!

Steps 2 and 3:

After I chopped up my small onion, I put it in a pan with a little olive oil for a few minutes. Then I added my ground beef and started browning it. As it was cooking, I sprinkled about 1/4 of the taco seasoning packet into the meat. My fam can't tolerate too much spice. Honestly, I really couldn't taste it much in the end product, so if you like the spice you may want to add more. I also didn't add any extra water, which, again, you may want to do if you add more spice. After the meat was browned, I drained the grease off. Then I spooned it straight from my strainer onto my "sun". It barely all fit on there. Then I sprinkled cheese on top. Honestly, I think I would've added a little more cheese.

Step 4:

Fold your edges over and press down in the middle. It's not a bad idea to make sure it's not too thick in the center, so you could give it an extra press to thin it out. Mine seemed just fine like it was.

Step 5:

I popped that baby in the oven! I set the oven temp. according to the crescent roll directions. It did take a little longer than normal for it to brown. I wanted to be sure that it wasn't mushy, but wasn't burnt. In the end, the crescents were done, although it didn't have a completely crispy texture...and that was just how I wanted it. If you like it really crispy, you'll probably need to let it get a little browner than I did.

And that's it! Yum, you guys. I served it with diced tomatoes and cucumbers, but you could do the whole taco sides thing...sour cream, more cheese, lettuce, salsa, etc. This is great for a simple meal or for a party. As I was making it, I was thinking of all the different ways you could go with this. You could do chicken (taco style or even like a chicken parmesan...a little spaghetti sauce and mozzarella would be good), ground turkey, or if you're really adventurous you could do lamb in a gyro style. I've never cooked lamb, so that may not work but it sounds good. I was even thinking a sweet route. Maybe some pie filling with a little drizzled chocolate or some nuts (sliced almonds maybe?) and brush some butter on top? There are lots of possibilities. I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

7 years and counting!

October 16, 2004...a wonderful day in our family history! The weather was perfect, we were surrounded by dear friends and family, and I honestly don't think it could've gone any better. Seven years have passed and it's only gotten better. Joe and I were just talking about how fast it's gone by...but so much has happened! Here's a very brief recap:

We met on a blind date in January 2004. We took it very slow at first, only going out on a few dates a month. Circumstances (my job for the next school year) kind of helped things progress. We didn't want to rush, but we knew that God was putting things into place for us.
By May of that year we were engaged! Joe picked out the ring I liked the most and surprised me with the proposal. Five months later was our big day! Sorry...I didn't have time to scan any pics. I'll get to that one of these days : ).

I think this is our first Christmas together. I love this picture : ).

Have I mentioned that we love to travel and go on mission trips? We went on a 10-day mission trip to St. Petersburg, Russia around our 1 year anniversary. It was a great trip and good for us as a married couple. I was able to see Joe's leadership abilities even more. He has so much patience and wisdom. I am so thankful for that!

When I was about seven months pregnant with Sophie we went on a short mission trip to Toronto, Canada. We were able to fellowship with some missionaries there and see what their ministry was like.

In 2007 our first little baby was born. Our sweet little Sophie-girl. What a joy she has been to us. She's taught us a lot about what it means to be parents!

Almost exactly two years later our little man, Isaac, was born. He is full of little boy energy and loves to laugh and play. He also gives lots of hugs and shows a great sense of humor. Life would not be the same without him!

My, how we've changed! Our girlie took this pic for us a few months ago when we were at the beach. God has blessed us tremendously these past seven years. My relationship with my husband has only gotten better and better. I am blessed to have a loving, patient husband that I can turn to for wisdom, strength, help, and so much more! I trust that the years ahead will hold many more wonderful memories and special events. We're already counting down (well, ok, I'm counting down) the months until baby #3 joins us. May the adventure continue!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

You know it's fall...

...when it's time for the fair! See the excitement on this little face? The lines of food vendors displaying their expensive, yet delicious, offerings? Yes, we partook. It was one of the biggest burritos I've ever had...and delicious!

Here we are, waiting for the circus to start. It was really good.
It was difficult for our little man to stay entertained...he likes to get down and move. But we managed to stay put for most of the circus.

Joe rode with the kids on the carosel. This is the first time they've been able to ride something at the fair and they enjoyed it!

Our next fun thing isn't necessarily an annual fall event...but I included it anyway! We had a visit from one of my old school friends named Laura and her family. It was so much fun to see them and fellowship. My kids had a great time with their little girl!

I had a great time talking, visiting, and holding this little pumpkin...Laura's new baby! So I guess I could know it's fall when parents start pulling out the cute little fall outfits : ). It was nice to see that my old baby-holding instincts were still there. It's been so long...but we'll have our little one before we know it!

You know it's fall in Dodge County when it's time for Homecoming! This amazed me when I first moved here. Where I grew up, we didn't have a homecoming parade or anything like the kind of school spirit they have here. It was almost like something from a movie to me. Honestly, I love it! There's one high school here and everyone gets excited about football games, homecoming...everything! So here's the street yesterday, with everyone lined up waiting for the floats, bands, and more.

Here's Sophie and one of her church friends. Yes, we dress up for the parade. Go Indians! : )

Isaac had to settle for a GA Bulldogs shirt, but that's ok. Dodge Co. loves the Bulldogs, too.

There's so much to love about fall! I used to love summer, but I've changed my mind. Fall is definitely the season for me!


Monday, October 3, 2011

A Family Movie Moment...and more freebies

The other night we rented Tangled. Sophie was mostly recovered from being sick, but I thought a movie would be a fun treat. We've all seen Tangled before and honestly, I love it and the kids do, too. It has special memories. It was the first movie I took Sophie to. This little clip is one of our favorite parts. When I started playing it on the computer, the kids climbed up in my lap to watch...mesmerized. Then on the chorus Isaac sweetly starts singing..."At wast I see da wight...". Adorable! I know he's my kid, but that was so cute. Anyway...just thought I'd share with all of you. I've also found some movies for the kids on youtube. They're usually split into parts, but the kids don't mind. Recently we've watched Cinderella 2 and 3 as well as Return to Neverland. I've also watched part of a BBC series called Larkrise to Candleford. If you love Pride and Prejudice, etc., then you'd probably like this!

I also can't resist taking a moment to share some awesome Christian fiction that's free right now on amazon (for Kindle). Usual disclaimer applies : ).
The Brotherhood by Jerry B. Jenkins
Ransomed Dreams by Sally John
Prairie Rose by Catherine Palmer
Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes
Maid to Match by DeeAnn Gist
Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler
While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin
When All My Dreams Come True by Janelle Mowery
Embers of Love by Tracie Peterson