It’s hard to believe that it’s been exactly a year since the tornado came through our little town. I have to admit, we’re all sort of on pins and needles around here…just waiting for it to hit again. In remembrance of that horrible night and what my family had to endure for the months following, I’m leaving the story here, a year later, for you to read again. If you want.
Sorry for my absence lately. We just finished a BIG master bathroom remodel and I’ve been a little preoccupied with getting it all cleaned up and finding the right finishing touches for it. It looks SO good and I can’t wait to share pictures with you! Hopefully I’ll have it all put together pretty quickly (it’s been tough finding just the right wall art…).
In other news, I’m finally in my 3rd trimester! Home stretch, baby! Only problem is, we can’t pick a name. Like, CAN’T. We have a short list of names we like, but none of them feel like “the one”. I guess it’ll come down to the last minute with this baby. Maybe I’ll get him named before we leave the hospital. Maybe. *sigh*
Ok, this pound cake. There’s not much you need to know other than it’s rich, it’s buttery, it’s really, really GOOD. Especially the lovely crust that forms on the top…that’s the best part. This was so good in the mornings spread with a little butter alongside a cup of coffee. Oh, and it makes a TON. This is one big pound cake- enough to serve probably 10 people. I’m guessing it would freeze really nicely if you had tons of leftovers (like I did).
Sour Cream Pound Cake
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Sift the baking soda, flour, and salt together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and pour the mixture into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serves 8-10.
Recipe source: slightly adapted from Paula Deen
Well, it’s officially Spring. FINALLY. I’ve had it with this cold weather! However, with the weather getting warmer, that means the time for our little peanut’s arrival is getting closer and closer- yikes. I haven’t done one single thing to get his nursery ready. Oops. Well, I did buy a rug. So there’s that. The good news is I’ve already found most of the wall decorations and stuff on Etsy, and I *think* I’ve found the bedding, so I guess that means I’m getting somewhere.
Now, these “brownies”. I’ve been seriously craving lemon for a while now. However, I recently FAILED (ugh) my one-hour glucose test (the preliminary test that helps determine whether or not a pregnant mom has gestational diabetes), which means I had to go back and take the dreaded 3-hour test. I had to go in first thing in the morning and have my blood drawn, then drink another lovely bottle of the sugary, disgusting “fruit punch”. THEN I had to sit around doing nothing for 3 more hours and have my blood drawn 3 more times. What fun. I left feeling jittery and starving, and my arms looked like a heroin addict’s.
So in the time I had to wait for my results, I really felt like I shouldn’t be eating much sugar- just in case. Which meant no lemony desserts…which is what I really wanted. Really, really, really. So when I got the call saying I PASSED with flying colors (hallelujah!), the first thing I did (besides my happy dance) was bake these lemon brownies. Then I ate most of them. Right then. They were oh-SO good. Dense, but not too thick, chewy, and perfectly, wonderfully tart. The glaze is what takes them over the top- don’t skip the glaze. Just don’t.
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tablespoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
juice and zest of 1 lemon
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter.
In another bowl whisk the eggs with the vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Add to the larger bowl and mix well. Pour into a greased 8X8 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 23-25 minutes.
Remove and let cool, then glaze.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Recipe source: adapted from Rita’s Recipes
My sister and I like to exchange new recipes we try. In fact, over the years, I’ve gotten tons of good, simple, delicious recipes from her. This one is definitely a winner! She was telling me about it and when she got to the part about the banana peppers I have to admit I was a little thrown off. Banana peppers are…sorta sour. How on earth would that taste good with sausage and potatoes? But I trust my sister’s judgement, so I did it.
What a surprise! This was a GREAT meal- it took no time to throw together and there was SO much flavor! And only one pan to clean- bonus! If you make this, don’t skip the banana peppers; they add so much great flavor!
Roasted Sausage, Potatoes, Onions and Peppers
1 pound cooked sausage, such as Eckridge or Hillshire Farms (I use Turkey), cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
4 medium-sized red potatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jar banana peppers, drained (you can use the spicy kind if you like heat, but I used the mild)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chopped bell pepper, potatoes, and onion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables and sausage on a large baking sheet in an even layer and top with the banana peppers. Roast in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes and sausage are crisp and browned. Serves 4-6.
Recipe source: I’m not sure on the original source of this one, but I searched and found one here
Guess what? It’s 70 degrees here! Finally! Us Texans aren’t used to such cold, freezing weather; in fact, usually by now, most of us have already planted our gardens, trees, and flowers for the Spring/Summer. Not this year, however. This winter has been brutal! I read that we’ve surpassed something like 60 days of below freezing temps! I remember last February, Joel and I wore shorts and took long, sunny walks with Cassidy several days out of the month. Not this year.
Oh well. Hopefully the cold, wintry weather is on its way out and warm, sunny weather is here to stay for awhile. To celebrate our day of sunshine and warm breezes, I made this pasta salad for lunch. It’s so easy- just throw everything together and let it sit in the fridge for awhile. SO yummy!
Tortellini Pasta Salad
8 oz. cheese tortellini, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing
Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for about 5 minutes, just long enough so that it’s still nice and crunchy, but starting to get a little tender. Transfer from boiling water to a large bowl filled with ice water (this stops the cooking process and helps the broccoli to retain its bright green color).
Toss the cooked pasta with broccoli and all other ingredients and stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour; preferably 3-4. Serves 4-6.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
**you could also throw in some frozen peas, chopped red onion, scallions, yellow corn…whatever veggies you like! It’s so versatile!
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)
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
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…
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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!
Since the party was late afternoon, we didn’t do a whole meal, just snack food. On the menu:
Hot ham and cheese sliders
Individual banana pudding cups
Yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream
Monkey punch (Pineapple Orange Banana juice with ginger ale)
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!
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
YEEEESSSSSS. Blame it on the pregnancy cravings (give me all things Buffalo!), or the Super Bowl season, but I am PUMPED about Buffalo Chicken Dip, aka, Crack Dip. I only make it once a year for the Super Bowl, but I crave it year round. Don’t forget to make some for your Super Bowl bash! It’ll be the hit of the party!
Here’s a few more of my favorite football foods that would be equally as awesome for your party:
Bananas Foster Nachos. These are seriously AH-MA-ZING.
Happy Super Bowl party planning, everybody! May you enjoy your fatty dips, quesos, and deep-fried stuff as much as I will!
With Valentine’s Day fast-approaching, I thought it only fitting to post something festive and “Valentine-y”. Joel and I never make big plans for this holiday; instead, we stay in, cook steaks, sip wine (sadly, I’ll be skipping that part this year…), and enjoy some sort of delicious dessert like fudgy fondue or these moist red velvet cupcakes.
I only want red velvet once a year. It just seems weird to enjoy it any time but Valentine’s Day. So it had better be one fantastic recipe, otherwise, I’ve just let “red velvet season” slip through my fingers without fully enjoying it. This one doesn’t disappoint. The cake is super moist and rich and the cream cheese frosting is oh-so-smooth and slightly tangy. I just love a good red velvet cupcake.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cupcakes:
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 oz. red food coloring (I prefer Wilton ‘no taste red’)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 3 9-inch cake pans or line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
Cream the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy; about a minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla. Make a paste with the food coloring and cocoa powder and add it into the batter.
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vinegar. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the batter alternately with the buttermilk mixture, beating after each addition.
Spoon the batter evenly into each cupcake liner (about 3/4 of the way up) and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need more or less baking time, so keep an eye on them. Let cool completely.
For the Frosting:
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, at room temperature
1 package (2 lbs.) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.
Makes approximately 24-30 cupcakes.
Recipe source: adapted from my great-grandmother’s recipe