Tomorrow is Livia’s golden birthday—seven on May 7th! We baked, frosted and decorated funfetti cupcakes to deliver to her kindergarten classroom today. Based on the hovering, exclaiming crowd of children surrounding Liv this morning, I’d say the cupcakes will be a success. Oh my goodness, the cuteness I encounter every morning in the kindergarten wing kills me. Those kids are adorable.
Yesterday, amidst a small group discussion about finding contentment in Christ—no matter where you are in life—the topic of blog competition/comparison was brought up. It’s so easy to look at people’s websites and imagine each one tells the entirety of that blogger’s life. You begin to wonder why your life doesn’t seem as wonderful as theirs. Just so you’re never tempted to think that of me, I’ve got evidence of the mess of cupcake-making with my child.
Here’s the end result: a charming cupcake.
Let’s dig a little deeper and imagine what went into making that cupcake. It’s the end of the day and the birthday girl is dead-set on baking with mommy. Mommy wants a drink and a recliner. Alas, the duo whips up a boxed mix, cools the little cakes, then tints a batch of frosting. The tint, notorious for staining *everything* it touches, does that just. Opened by six-year-old fingers, it stains the countertop, her fingers and face, and her clothes. Mommy tries to be cool, takes a few deep breaths and hands her daughter the sprinkles. A few quick swipes of frosting and it’s sprinkle time. Incidentally, sprinkles are the pinnacle of awesomeness to a six-year-old and she proceeds to POUR the little beads all over the counter. Whoops, she says, didn’t know it was open! Replay the last few sentences 24 times and you have a good picture of the final moments of our night.
There might have been more sprinkles on the counter and floor than on the cupcakes.
Jeremy still feels them under his toes this morning.
Finally, the scene of the crime. My kitchen looks just like this right now, 14 hours later. Minus the cupcakes, which are being admired in an elementary school near you.
Alternate title: The Day the Food Processor Died
That there in the background is my [now dead] food processor. I was shredding carrots and marveling at the fact this little machine has been processing away since my wedding 12 years ago when it breathed its last breath. Or shredded its last carrot, more appropriately. Twelve years is good for a small appliance, right?
Livia and I were making carrot cake for our friends’ wedding. Dylan and Emily asked a bunch of buddies if they’d be interested in making layer cakes for their wedding reception. There were a few moments during the baking process where I wondered why I agreed to help. Namely, when my food processor up and died and when the cake layers came out with sunken centers. But overall, I considered how awesome it was that 20-30 amateur bakers around Lincoln, Nebraska, were, at the same moment probably, making cakes for this awesome young couple. I imagine a lot of us were praying for Dylan and Emily and for their new life together. And in that way, God was using a group of slightly incompetent pseudo chefs to bless this wedding—and in turn, we were also blessed.
As it turns out, love and cream cheese frosting cover a multitude of sins. Sunken centers did not ruin anything.
The Bill’s Big Carrot Cake recipe is posted at Needs More Butter. You can also check out the recipe for a yummy Curried Chicken & Cauliflower Soup I recently made. And, if you feel so led, you can email me any healthy and delicious recipes your family adores. I’d appreciate that!
And then we did a little singing, Easy Bake Oven style:
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear Jesus,
Happy birthday to you.
Batch number one of the best hot chocolate recipe ever? Done and done!
Chicken-apple sausage, corn on the cob, green salad and garlic bread. This might just be the perfect dinner to eat in Nebraska in August. Mmmm. We paired it, not with a fine wine, but with Ponyo, which is a totally delightful family film.
Our recipe blog, Needs More Butter, is a terrific resource for new ideas:
I tasted Renae’s Blueberry Crumb Bars last week at a neighborhood grill. Mmm-mmm, summer perfection!
This recipe for Basil Chicken is a perfect way to use up the herbs from your garden. It has an amazing flavor.
Bok Choy Salad makes a great addition to any potluck. (Just don’t forget to add soy sauce like I did last year.)
And while I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad is super yummy. The texture of chickpeas typically grosses me out, but this salad is delicious. It earned some rave reviews at a church gathering last year.
Finally, in the interest of consuming more fruits and veggies, I’d like to go back to making Green Smoothies. They’re sweet and refreshing on a hot summer’s day—and they’re a filling treat the whole family can enjoy. Drink up!
What kitchen tool(s) would you never want to give up? What makes you grateful each time you use it?
Right now I’m looking at my mom’s old melon ball scoop with great devotion. I rescued it from the giveaway pile and I love it. Easy apple coring makes for a happy apple-eating family.
Something weird happens when you prepare one recipe for ten families. You hit a rhythm. Your eyes sort of glaze over… cranberry sauce, onion soup, pour the dressing, mix it together… until you make a mistake and dump the cranberries into the wrong bowl. Then you halt, figure out what’s what, and get back to the business of making freezer meals.
Several years ago my friend Carrie read a book about cooking a whole bunch of meals in one day—30 to be precise—and them freezing them. It’s a lot of work up front, but incredibly helpful in reducing meal prep time for future dinners. Carrie invited a bunch of girlfriends to Cooking Day and we worked, side by side, on our feet for hours on end to fix those 30 meals. We divided the costs and went home that evening with achy calves but feeling like queens with freezers full of meals.
Fast forward a few years. Carrie is keeping tabs on her husband’s cholesterol, which means a whole lot of lean chicken meals and not many casseroles at her home. So I’ve started a new freezer meal coop where all the chefs prepare two meals at home… ten times over. In this post I’ve included a few shots of one of my meals, Cranberry Chicken, and one of my dog, who stays oh-so-faithfully at my side when I’m cooking. I like to pretend he enjoys my company but I know better. He’s the dog equivalent of a Hoover vacuum cleaner so all in all, he earns his keep and keeps the kitchen floor spotless.
The recipe for Cranberry Chicken can be found at my (our) recipe blog, Needs More Butter.
On Thursday, Livia baked sugar cookie gingerbread men. And floured. And rolled. And baked and floured some more until there were clouds of flour covering the kitchen counter and floor.
The house had a flour storm unlike any ever witnessed before. Flour on Liv’s scalp. Flour on our clothes. Flour on the dog’s head and, after one especially tumultuous mishap, flour turning his gluttonous doggy tongue from pink to white. Honestly, I don’t know how he even swallowed at that point.