Perfect Roasted Vegetables…

Perfect Roasted Vegetables

My all-time favorite, easy go-to side dish is roasted vegetables. Roasting just brings out all kinds of delicious flavor, and it’s just SO EASY! Toss your favorite veggie with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and pop in the oven. Done. My favorite vegetable to roast has got to be broccoli- something magical happens to broccoli when its roasted. Magical, I tell you.

However, when it comes to firmer vegetables like carrots and potatoes, I have a method for roasting that comes out perfect every single time. All it takes is one extra step- no biggie. Just boil them for about 5 minutes first, THEN pop them in the oven. It makes the vegetables almost creamy on the inside, with a nice brown crust on the outside. So perfect. I do it this way every time I roast potatoes or carrots, and every time Joel and I are like, “MAN. These potatoes (or carrots) are SO good!” Every time.

Perfect Roasted Vegetables

5-6 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 small bag baby carrots (or 5-6 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the potatoes and carrots in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until they’re just beginning to soften. You don’t want to be able to poke a fork all the way through them; the centers should still be hard.

Drain and toss with olive oil (about 2 or 3 tablespoons). Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until fork tender and a nice crust has formed. Serves 4 as a side dish.

You could also use this method for rutabagas/turnips, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and any other really firm vegetable.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Blue Marbled Vanilla Cupcakes…

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Just thought I’d update y’all a little on my pregnancy. I’m 21 (almost 22) weeks along now- over halfway there! Feeling great physically, albeit a little tired. Joel and I sing in the praise band at church and each week I’m finding it harder and harder to sing without feeling like I’ve just run a marathon. My diaphragm feels like its being shoved up into my throat, so having enough breath support is tough. The extra hormones are driving me a little batty this time around. One day I’ll be feeling great, all sunshine and roses and the next day…

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Let’s just say, poor Joel has been a saint to put up with all of my craziness lately. Cassidy is starting to understand a little better and talks a lot about the “baby in Mommy’s tummy”. So sweet.

Blue Marbled Cupcakes

So anyway, the purpose of this post is not only to share with you these yummy cupcakes, but announce that….

WE’RE HAVING A BOY!!!

We went for our anatomy scan a couple of weeks ago and were totally blown away to find out Cassidy will have a little brother! I had made these boy-themed cupcakes months ago in honor oF my friend’s soon-to-be baby boy but never posted them; little did I know I’d be repurposing them to announce our own little boy! :)

I used my favorite recipe for white cake, reserved a little of the batter, colored it blue, then swirled it into the tops of each unbaked cupcake. It didn’t sink down into the cupcake during baking as much I would’ve liked, but the tops still looked pretty cool before I frosted them (which really ended up not mattering, since the frosting covered that part up. Oh well.). They tasted great, and that’s what mattered! Now I think I need a cupcake…

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Blue Marbled Vanilla Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) and working with the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the buttermilk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the buttermilk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.

Set aside 1/4 of the batter in a separate bowl. Mix in a few drops of blue food coloring until you reach the desired shade of blue.

Using a small spoon, fill each cupcake liner 1/2 full with the batter. Drop a small spoonful of the blue batter on top and swirl with the back of a spoon or a toothpick to create a marbled effect.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a toothpick inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to cooling racks and cool completely before frosting them. Makes approximately 24 cupcakes.

Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
blue food coloring

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading or piping consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. Stir in a few drops blue food coloring until the desired color of blue is reached. Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled. Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes.

Recipe sources: white cake adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours; frosting adapted from Magnolia Bakery

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Cassidy’s Curious George Party!

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Well, it’s happened. My little sweet pea has turned TWO. So, so hard to believe! I was proud of myself this year, though. Unlike last year, I didn’t blubber and cry and make a huge fuss over my baby growing up too fast. Honestly, I’m enjoying watching her learn and grow so much, I can’t help but sit back and just enjoy the ride. She’s too much fun to cry over!

Since Cassidy’s absolute favorite thing in the world right now is Curious George (seriously, how precious is that show?!), we decided a Curious George birthday party was just the thing! I seriously had so much fun planning this one. Thanks to HomeGoods, Zulily, and other various places, I had all kinds of cute Curious George toys and books to decorate the table with. We decided to do a small family party and I think Cassidy had a blast. Here’s a few pictures from our fun day.

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My mom found some cute material and made Cassidy (and Baby Doll) their very own Curious George dress! Adorable doesn’t even begin to describe it!

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Since the party was late afternoon, we didn’t do a whole meal, just snack food. On the menu:

Hot ham and cheese sliders
Fruit kabobs
Spinach dip
Individual banana pudding cups
Yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream
Monkey punch (Pineapple Orange Banana juice with ginger ale)
Cheese crackers

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I was so pleased with how everything turned out and everyone (especially the birthday girl) had a really good time. I know I’ll always look back on this day with such happy memories! Happy birthday to my sweet TWO year old!

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Party Info:

Invitations, ‘Happy Birthday’ banner, and food labels – SmashCakeandCo on Etsy

Cupcake toppers – Confetti Prints on Etsy

Curious George figurine and birthday candles – Amazon

Jumbo confetti sprinkles – Amazon

Curious George jack-in-the-box and hardback book- Zulily

Wooden Curious George car – HomeGoods

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