Saturday, May 23, 2015

Girly Hip Hop Cake 2






When we started doing birthday parties at the dance studio, all the girls wanted ballet cakes. Check out girly ballet cakes one, two, and three! With the second hip hop cake in a row, is this the start of a new trend? Coming up with the designs for a hip hop cake can be a little more challenging as you can't fall back on ballet slippers and tutus if you don't want to make a whole dancer, but so far they are turning out great! The simple boom box I added this time really popped and was super cute! I also did a more simplified dancer's silhouette than last time. Outlining all the little details of hair, clothes, and shoes in life like silhouette can be a bit tedious. As I wasn't sure of the birthday girl's color scheme when I made this one, I repeated my neon colors on a chocolate background from the last hip hop cake since it went over so well. See the first girly hip hop cake here.

Though I've mentioned them in past cake decorating posts before, here are a few tips: 1. Freeze the cake before frosting. This will reduce crumbs.  2. Draw your design in the frosting with a toothpick (I actually used an unbent paper clip this time) before you draw it in frosting. You can get a feel of how everything is supposed to fit, and if you make a mistake, you can just smooth it out with your frosting spatula and start again. 3. For a fun cake board, cover with wrapping paper, and then wax paper. 

For my border I just used my largest star tip and did fat stars in alternating colors. Due to only having one of each decorating tip that I needed, I decorated with one color at time, so you just kind of have to eyeball how much space to leave for the other colors on the border. On the last color you just make the star as big or as small as it needs to be to fill the remaining space, and it usually works out!

Happy Birthday Makenzi! I hope your birthday was dance-tastic!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Saint Gianna Molla: A Working Catholic Mom

The feast day of St. Gianna Molla was yesterday, April 28th, so I'm slightly late in posting. I feel I've been missing a lot of things lately. State testing at school and the dance studio's annual recital are all happening around the same time, so things are crazy. Waking up early for testing, staying up late for rehearsals; when I get home all I want to do is sleep! But of course I've got a husband and two kids at home to take care of and spend time with. This challenging situation does tie into today's post though!

St. Gianna lived from 1922 to 1965 in Italy and was a wife, mother, and pediatrician. She is best known for sacrificing her life so her baby could live when medical complications arose during her pregnancy with her 4th child. Her beautiful, selfless, and loving act has made her a patron for the pro-life movement in a world that often promotes death and selfishness. However, there is another reason that St. Gianna is a wonderful saint for our times. St. Gianna was a working mother.

In U.S. society in general, stay-at home parents often feel misunderstood and judged. People can treat them like the life they chose is somehow less important, oppressive; a waste of talents and intellect. Of course being a stay at home parent is none of these things. (I say "parent" instead of "mom" because my husband is currently a proud stay at home dad!) It is a beautiful vocation and a choice that should be celebrated, not maligned. However, I think it is important to realize that there is another side of the coin.

As a working mom who runs in a more conservative Catholic circle, I am often the one who feels out of place, like I'm not good enough, like I've chosen the lesser path. While I am blessed that none of my friends have done anything to make me feel this way, the comparisons and jealousy that sometimes come from myself can often make the mommy guilt run high. And trust me, the people who go out of their way to make working mothers feel inadequate are out there. While I haven't personally met one face to face, I have met them online. A while back I joined a facebook group of Catholic women who were supposed to  be sharing cooking and housekeeping tips. While most of the women were fine, I did run into someone who felt that it was her duty as a Christian to ask working mothers how they could be so selfish to abandon their families to work, and asserted that the only acceptable to reason for a mother to work was if her husband passed away. Needless to say, that was not a group I felt I could stay in.

Due to situations like this, working mothers who run in more conservative circles often feel they need to justify their decision by explaining that they need to work due to their family's financial situation. While there are many families that are in this situation, it is not necessary to be in this situation to make it okay for a mother work. God does call some women to a career outside the house. And is it really fair to make a woman reveal her family's personal financial information to justify herself? Trust me, working Catholic mothers, all working mothers, struggle with the guilt that comes from trying to balance family and work life enough on our own, we don't need anyone else's help in that area!

So a word of encouragement working Catholic moms - being a working mother is not a sin, you do not need to take it to the confessional!  Remember that godly women come in all shapes and sizes, including working mothers like St. Gianna. And St. Gianna didn't have just any job, she had a demanding career as a physician! You can serve God both at home and in your career. When things get tough, when the work/home balance is out of whack, when the mommy guilt runs high, ask for her intercession. I plan on putting her picture up in my home office along with other saints, like St. Josemaria Escriva, who taught about serving God through our daily work. I also recommend that among the many wonderful Catholic family blogs out there written by stay at home and/or homeschooling moms, to add blogs like The Working Catholic Mom and 8 Kids and a Business to your list of blogs to follow.  And to those stay at home moms, please, instead of tearing these women down, lift them up. Befriend them, welcome them, plan some get togethers and play dates at times when they can join you, help them when work gets crazy by offering to babysit, pick kids up, or even to help with housework and meals. Reassure them that working in and of itself does not make them a bad mother. Give them prayers and words of love and encouragement, trust me, we need it! 

A couple other saints that were working Catholic moms:

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton - Mother of 5, teacher, and founder of the first Catholic school in the United States.  (Also going in my office, I am a teacher after all!)

Bl. Zelie Martin - Mother of 9, (including St. Therese of Liseux), had a successful lacemaking business.

If you know any other saints who were working Catholic moms, or have any advice about how to balance work and motherhood, please put it in the comments!

St. Gianna, St. Elizabeth, and Bl. Zelie, pray for us!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Two Easter Desserts


This Easter I got to host my first big holiday meal! We usually go over to other people's houses for holidays, often several different places in one day, so I was excited to stay at home and play hostess! I roasted a leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and it just turned out gorgeous. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of it, maybe next year! The big star of the show, and what I personally enjoy making the most, was the desserts. I went with some of my personal favorite flavors with the blueberry lemonies, (a brownie-like bar flavored with lemon and mixed with blueberries), and an "everyone will like it" crowd pleaser of dirt pudding made to look impressive by using a trifle dish. The white chocolate strawberry "carrots" growing out of it along with the candy eggs and flower decorations gave it a nice spring garden theme that went well with our Easter celebration.


Blueberry Lemonies
If you are a lemon lover like myself, adding these bars to your repertoire is a must. Everyone who tried them loved them and I already have requests to make them again, including from me to myself. It is really the glaze that makes it, adding a punch of fresh lemon flavor. And yes, fresh lemons are a must. The blueberries add a pop of vibrant color and flavor. I used berried that I picked at a local farm over the summer and froze. I promise, it will be love at first bite!
Ingredients:

3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8x8 pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside. 
2. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate and butter, about 1 minute on high power. 
3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in a little of the white chocolate/butter mixture, and then gradually add the eggs into the big bowl with the rest of the while chocolate/butter mixture, whisking as you go. This is called tempering, and will keep the eggs from becoming scrambled.
4. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and extract. Stir until combined. 
5. Add the flour and stir until combined. 
6. In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with a little flour. This will keep them from sinking. Fold them gently into the batter.  
7. Put batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. While the bars bake, make the glaze. 
8. To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together. 
9. When the bars come our of the oven, pour the glaze over the top. Use a spatula to spread if necessary. Let the bars cool in the pan for 2-3 hours before slicing so the glaze can set up. 
Enjoy!


Dirt Pudding Trifle

Making a trifle is great for any special occasion. It's super easy and super impressive all at the same time! Just pick whatever things you want to layer; cake, fruit, cream, etc, and voila! It's done! I got this trifle dish at my local supermarket for less than seven dollars. My son loves chocolate, so I decided to go with a dirt pudding trifle, complete with gummy worms and strawberry "carrots!" Adding the elements of homemade brownies and fresh whipped cream made this dirt pudding the best I've ever tasted. Here is what I used for my layers:

Brownies
Instant Chocolate Pudding
Gummy Worms
Whipped Cream
Crushed Oreo Cookies
White chocolate (colored orange) covered strawberries
Frosting (colored green)
Candy eggs

Layer and enjoy!




Thursday, March 5, 2015

Meatless Meal Roundup

It's that time of year again, when all the restaurants start advertising seafood specials. Welcome to Lent! If you're looking for some new ideas to go meatless on Fridays this Lent, you've come to a good place. I've pulled together the meatless meals I've featured in the past to make them easy to find. I hope you find something that you and your family can enjoy!








 St. Joseph's Pasta with Breadcrumbs

 Cranberry Bean Succotash over Tilapia

http://sarahrosessupposes.blogspot.com/2014/03/st-davids-potato-leek-soup.html

 St. David's Potato-Leek Soup

http://sarahrosessupposes.blogspot.com/2014/04/jpiis-potato-pierogies.html

 JPII's Potato Pierogies

http://sarahrosessupposes.blogspot.com/2014/11/food-for-soul.html

Uncle Matt's French Fried Shrimp

http://sarahrosessupposes.blogspot.com/2014/06/summer-seafood-pasta-salad.html

 Summer Seafood Pasta Salad





Monday, March 2, 2015

Whole Wheat Spinach Parsnip Muffins

Wow, just looking at the title of this recipe makes me feel like some sort of hippy dippy granola chick. I swear I'm not!(Even though I do really like granola!)  This post could also be titled, "How To Get Your Kids To Eat Spinach and Like It."

My family loves parsnips. We grill them and put them in stews and pot roast. So when I saw Alton Brown make parsnip muffins on his show Good Eats, I was intrigued. We made the parsnip muffins, and they were very good. While I was searching for the parsnip muffin recipe, I came across a recipe for spinach muffins. We made those and they turned out well too. Through this whole muffin experiment process I learned that my son, who is probably one of the pickiest eaters on the face of the planet, will eat almost anything if you put it into muffin. And he doesn't just eat it, he goes crazy for it!

So I thought, "Hey, why not really boost the veggie servings by combining the two muffins together?" Well, they turned out great too! The parsnips give the muffins a nice nutty flavor. If you know what parsnips taste like, you'll notice the flavor, but the grated veggie just melts into the muffin batter, so there are no chunks or crunchy bits in the muffin, something that can be a little kid deterrent. If someone doesn't know what parsnips taste like they'll just say, "Mmmm! Delicious! I wonder what the secret ingredient is?"

The spinach flavor is barely noticeable due to  the addition of  sweet banana and aromatic cinnamon. Though of course it does make the muffins a striking green color. This could motivate a child to eat it or turn them off to it depending on the child. I think that most kids would think its pretty cool though, especially for something like St. Patrick's Day. What a great way to have some green food without using food coloring! My son helps me make them, so he knows all about the vegetables "hidden" in these muffins, but feel free to keep it a secret if  you need to!
                                                             
Whole Wheat Spinach Parsnip Muffins
Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
6 oz fresh baby spinach
1 banana
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large or 2 smaller parsnips, finely grated. 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl: flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside,

In a blender, place oil, milk, and spinach. Blend until smooth. Add banana (in pieces) and vanilla. Blend until smooth. 

Pour spinach puree into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in grated parsnips. 

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this job), and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer/fork inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool and enjoy!



Monday, February 16, 2015

A Corny, Mushy St. Valentine's Day

We celebrated St. Valentine's Day over the weekend. The hubby and I had a nice date night and Sam enjoyed his school party. For Valentine's morning I decided to make a special breakfast for the family that included a blast from my past I've been making a lot lately, corn meal mush.

Sure fancy people may call it "polenta," but to me it will always just be delicious mush. Cue my dad yelling at the food network whenever they talk about polenta, "Oooo, polenta. It's corn meal mush!"

Corn meal mush can be eaten as a hot cereal like oatmeal, topped with a little honey and milk, but you can also chill it, slice it or cut it into shapes, and then fry it up in a pan. This is known as fried mush.

The ratio for corn meal mush is 1-1-2. One part corn meal and one part water added to two parts boiling salted water. I usually use 1/4 to 1/3 a cup cornmeal when making a bowl for myself. Since I was cooking for more on Valentine's day I upped it to a full cup.

Fried Cornmeal Mush

Directions:

In a bowl, add 1 part corn meal to 1 part water. Bring 2 parts salted water to a boil. Add in corn meal/water mixture and stir together. Lower the heat and put the lid on the pot and cook for a few minutes until thick.

Pour and spread the mush into a baking dish and then let it chill in the fridge until it gets firm. You can then cut into squares or use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes, (like hearts for Valentine's day!).

Put oil or butter in pan and cook the mush until it is golden brown and crispy on both sides.

Serve with honey or syrup and other breakfast items like eggs and sausage. I hear that this also works well in savory applications, but I've never tried it that way.



As for the preschool Valentines, since Sam goes to a Catholic preschool I like to incorporate the saints and the faith into his school treats when I can.  I included a poem about the trinity when passing out candy corn for Halloween, and we made these saint themed valentines last year.

We had some fun selecting a maze toy made out of chocolate, since there are only 6 kids in his class and we could splurge on something a little bigger then normal. Then all we did was glue the Happy Saints St. Valentine prayer card to the inside, and there you have it, a super simple way to help remind everyone that Valentine's day is a saint's feast day and the importance of showing others God's love.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Girly...Hip Hop Cake!

As some of you may know, my dance studio hosts birthday parties for children who love to dance, and I'm the in-house baker who provides the cakes. Most of the time the birthday girl wants a ballet cake. Feel free to take a look at girly ballet cakes one, two, and three!

The ballet cakes always turn out so pretty, but this past week week I got to mix up a little bit with a hip hop cake. I just love the way it turned out! I wish I could take credit for the great colors, but that was the birthday girl's request.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Little Chef Birthday Party

My little boy turned 5 years old recently. Five! I'm sure every parent can relate to that feeling of disbelief on their children's birthdays. When did they get so big!? How did they get that old!?

Despite seeing my Sam grow up too darn fast, I love themes so throwing a kids party is a lot of fun for me. This year Sam decided he wanted a chef themed party. Actually, at first he wanted a Cutthroat Kitchen birthday party, but I figured that having a large group of five year olds cooking at my house was enough of a sabotage, so we simplified it to just a chef party. (Though a more involved Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped, or Iron Chef party would be pretty fun for a group of teenagers or adults!)




The nice thing about a cooking party is the food is the entertainment, so you don't have to come up with a bunch of games for them to play. I ordered some plain chef hats and aprons from Oriental Trading Company for them to decorate. I like to have something for the kids to do while we wait for all the guests to arrive, and not only did this activity give them protection for clothing while we cooked, but they got to take them home as their party favor as well. The hats and aprons cost less than two dollars per kid.

I used electrical tape to secure a plastic table cloth to our floor as the decorating space. Electrical tape is what we use at the dance studio to mark off a stage area for summer camp, so I knew it would come off easily after the party.

Next we moved to the kitchen to mix up some cupcakes. Note how I covered the table with a plastic table cloth so any messes would be easy to clean up. We did the cupcakes first, so they would have time to cool before we decorated them. Hot cupcakes = melted frosting! For this age group I pre-measured all the ingredients in small containers and had them take turns adding them to the bowl and stirring. Then I put the batter in the muffin tins and put them in the oven.

Next we moved on to making our pizzas! I bought pre-made pizza dough and gave each child a piece. I set out containers of sauce, cheese, and a variety of pizza toppings and let them go for it. When they were done we put them in the oven and did presents while they cooked.  I didn't label the pizzas with which one was who's, but they were all different, so it worked out!

I'm pretty proud of my present to Sam. I've been meaning to learn how to sew for quite some time, and I've finally done it! The apron he got for his birthday is the first sewing project I've done all by myself. While it's not perfect, I think it turned out great! It's a little big, but he'll be able to use it for a long time. 

After presents we returned to the kitchen to eat our pizzas, and decorate and eat the cupcakes. I put out a few tubs of frosting in different colors with butter knives for spreading, along with fun toppings like sprinkles, gumdrops, M & Ms, and chocolate chips. I didn't actually buy any candy either, I mostly used leftovers from Christmas!

All in all, I think the kids had a lot of fun. I know Sam did, he's asked for another chef party next year! We'll see if he changes his mind in the next 12 months.

Since in a cooking party, timing is important, here is a breakdown of the order of events. The party lasted 2 hours. At this age any gaps in planned activities were filled in by them simply playing with each other. We got everything done with time to spare.

Arrival of guests/craft (about 1/2 hour)
mix cupcakes - put in oven
make pizzas , take cupcakes out - put pizzas in.
Presents
Eat pizza
Decorate and eat cupcakes
Kids go home!






Monday, January 5, 2015

Rosca De Reyes (Mexican Three Kings Cake)

Sunday was Ephiphany, or Three Kings Day, the part of the Christmas season when we celebrate the three kings, (or magi, or wise men), visiting the baby Jesus and bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on January 6th, but here in the U.S. at least it gets moved to the Sunday closest to the the 6th.

In Mexico, this is the traditional day to exchange gifts, rather than Christmas day, which makes sense since it is the day Jesus received his gifts! It is also a tradition to make three kings cake, which usually has a prize hidden inside. Whoever gets the prize in their piece of cake is supposed to host a party on Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and provide the tamales and atole! Candlemas is on February 2nd. My great aunt on my Mexican side, whom we simply refer to as "Tia," (aunt in Spanish), gave me this recipe for three kings cake - rosca de reyes. It is less like a traditional American cake and more like a sweet egg-y bread which is filled with fruit, similar to the German stollen or the Italian panettone.


The original recipe called for preserved fruit that you typically find in fruit cake; candied cherries, diced orange peel and citron. I tried using the citron once and wasn't too pleased, so I replaced it with diced dried pineapple this time. I also decided to replace the candied cherries with dried cherries - also much tastier. Of course I'm sure you could add in any dried fruit that you would like!

Rosca de Reyes (Mexican Three Kings Cake)

Ingredients:
1 pkg yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs plus three egg yolks
1/2 cup (1 stick) soft butter
2 cups flour
100 grams dried cherries
100 grams diced orange peel
100 grams diced dried pineapple (the 100 grams things is what the recipe says, but I just eyeball it!)
powdered sugar
cream

Directions:

Stir the yeast and lukewarm water together -set aside.

Mix together the salt, sugar, eggs and butter. Add the yeast mixture.

Add in the flour and mix thoroughly. Knead at least 6 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for at least 1 hour.

Dust the dough with flour and mix the fruit the fruit into the dough. This is best done by hand.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and form a ring. Add a porcelain prize or coin wrapped in wax paper. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Drizzle a mixture of powdered sugar and cream over the cake while it is still warm.

Cool and slice. Enjoy!




Friday, December 26, 2014

Kumquat Refrigerator Pie

Merry Christmas! Yes, it is December 26th, but for Catholics the Christmas season starts the night of Christmas Eve, and then continues until Epiphany which is traditionally January 6th. So Christmas is not over, indeed it has just begun! As such, you will still see me posting Christmas themed things, like this recipe for Kumquat Refrigerator Pie.

As some of you may know, kumquats are a traditional Christmas food at my house. It all started with my dad inventing Kumquat Christmas Drink back when we were kids and has grown into a myriad of kumquat recipes, including the Kumquat Marmalade we sometimes make with the leftovers. Besides the Christmas drink, this pie was the first kumquat recipe we made, as it was printed on the container of kumquats we bought. A Christmas celebration just doesn't seem complete without a slice of Kumquat Pie!





Kumquat Refrigerator Pie

Ingredients: 

1 8oz tub whipped topping
1 cup (or a little more) kumquats - seeded and pureed
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice





Directions:

Get a 9 inch pie crust ready to go. If using a traditional pie crust, pre-bake it. Graham cracker crusts work well too.

Beat condensed milk and whipped topping until thickened. Add lemon or lime juice and beat some more. Fold in the kumquats.

Pour in the pie shell.

Chill several hours.

Garnish with thin slices of kumquats.

Enjoy!