Kasper’s Birthday!

It is so cliche to talk about how quickly time passes. But seriously time just seems to fly by. The saying “the days are long and the years are short” proves itself to be truer and truer in my house. Kasper turned THREE this month. I still can’t believe it. He is one rambunctious life-loving dude.

Minion Cake

Three is such a fun age. He is really starting to understand things. For the last month he told everyone he saw that it was almost his birthday. This was the first year that he told me what he wanted on his birthday cake. “I want a rainbow cake with an one-eyed minion.” Oooookay. I certainly had my work cut out for me!

Rainbow-Minion-Cake-

Decorating the kiddos’ cakes is one of my favorite things to do for them. Birthdays are special and I want to give them exactly what they want for a cake. I always keep the cake a surprise until it is time to blow out the candles.

Kasper-Cake

Doesn’t that look like a boy that loves his cake? But wait! I still had one more surprise up my sleeve! You didn’t think that the rainbow sprinkles on the outside were the only rainbow portion did you?

Rainbow-Cake

No way that would suffice. I had to go one step further and give him an actual rainbow cake. It was such a fun surprise to cut in to it and show him the colorful insides. This wasn’t my first rainbow cake experience though I actually made one FIVE  years ago for Sasha’s third birthday. Sasha and Kasper are the most alike out of my four kiddos and this just proves it even more so.

Ameri-Color

I used my favorite AmeriColor gels to dye the cake batter. These gels create the most vibrant colors. I love them! This box of colorful dyes brings a smile to my face.

Bounce-House

One last birthday surprise for Kasper was this HUGE bounce house we rented for the day. I mean it was his golden birthday after all. :) If you’re local we rented our bounce house from Bounce Ninja. They came and set it up and took it down. Easy peasy. The guys were super friendly and easy to work with, definitely give them a call if you’re looking for a bounce house. This provided over five hours of bouncing entertainment for all the kiddos.  It was a good day to be three!

Making the cake was crazy easy. All it took was a boxed cake mix and diet lemon lime soda. Seriously that was it. The cake was so moist. I decorated it with a fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting. The best buttercream frosting if I do say so myself.

Rainbow-Minion-Cake-

RAINBOW CAKE
2 boxes vanilla cake mix
2- 12 ounce cans of diet lemon lime soda
gel food coloring in your choice of colors

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 – 9inch round cake pans. Set aside.
2. Mix together 1 can of soda with one box cake mix. Divide batter into thirds, placing each third into a bowl. Color one third with red, one with orange, and one with yellow.
3. Pour red batter into bottom of one of the prepared pans. Then pour orange on top of the red. Then pour yellow on top of orange.
4. Mix together the other box cake mix with the other can of soda. Divide batter into thirds, placing each third into a bowl. Color one third with green, one with blue, and one with purple.
5. Pour purple batter into prepared pan. Then pour blue, then green.
6. Bake according to package directions, about 30 minutes.
7. Remove from oven when cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool 5 minutes in pan before flipping on to wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

FLUFFY VANILLA BUTTERCREAM
1 cup salted butter, slightly softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons whipping cream
pinch of salt

Directions
1. In a stand mixer beat butter on medium-high for 5-7 minutes until light in color and fluffy.
2. Turn mixer down to low and slowly add in powdered sugar. Slowly turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat mixture for another 5-7 minutes.
3. Add in vanilla, whipping cream, and salt. Beat to combine, 1-2 minutes.

TO ASSEMBLE CAKE:

1. Place the red-orange-yellow cake down on cake platter. Spread some buttercream over the top. Place the green-blue-purple cake on top with the green side going down (I screwed up on mine).
2. Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This is called a crumb coating. Place entire cake in the fridge for 20 minutes (it will make it easier to frost)
3. Remove cake from fridge and spread buttercream over the entire cake. Pipe on any decorations or designs.

Here is a little video that my husband put together of Kasper’s day. Everyone had such a fun time!

OTHER BIRTHDAY CREATIONS:

Sasha:
Elmo Cake
Rainbow Cake
Seahorse Cake
Dolphin Cake (designed by Sasha)
Lorax Cupcakes
Apple Pie

Penelope:
Penguin Cake
Ariel Cake part 1 and part 2

Kasper:
Robot Fruit Pizza and First Birthday Recap
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

My MIL:
Perfect Chocolate Cake

Posted in Desserts, Family, Vegetarian | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Rhubarb Shandy + Kitchen Tour

Today I am going to give you a tour of my kitchen remodel, but first since you are visiting my home I must offer you a cold beverage. I hope you are okay with that. ;)

Summer shandy seems to have grown increasingly popular over the years. The basic shandy formula is beer + lemonade. Now I know you can buy pre-made shandies at the store I have a few in the beer fridge in the garage right now. When the sun is hot and it is a bajillion degrees out a shandy is incredibly refreshing.

This summer shandy has Saft Rabarber in it. What on Earth is Saft Rabarber you ask. Well that is just Ikea for rhubarb syrup. You could always make your own rhubarb simple syrup though.

Grab a glass and your favorite light beer and we will mix up a shandy.

Rhubarb Summer Shandy

RHUBARB SUMMER SHANDY
Serves 1
Ingredients
1 – 12 ounce light beer
1 ounce Saft Rabarber or Rhubarb simple syrup

Directions:
1.  Pour syrup in the bottom of a glass and top with your favorite beer. Cheers!

Warning: This is a very picture heavy post. If you are on a slower internet connection it may take time for all these photos to load

Now that you have your cold beer cocktail let’s take the tour, shall we? Need a refresher? This is what my kitchen looked like before: Original 1960s

kitchenbefore09.jpg

May 4, 2014 my husband tore the wall down while my wonderful sister came over and helped me paint.

walldown

On May 7 the construction started to get real! Here is one last shot of my old kitchen intact.

kitchenbefore

My little man had to help in the renovation. He did not hesitate to swing the rubber mallet.

kitchenbefore2

When I was making one of a thousand trips to Home Depot my husband had ripped out the cupboards on the south wall which included my faulty tiny oven. I was thrilled when I saw that hunk of junk on the driveway.

kitchenbefore3

Since I was 37 weeks pregnant at the time I was not allowed to tear out the cupboards. I shouldn’t actually call them cupboards though since they were actually more like built-ins. Just one of the many “fun” things you learn about your house when you start construction. They were not easy to tear out. Alex persevered though and torn them out piece by piece.

kitchenbefore4

May 9:  Everything is out and it looks so small emptied out.

kitchenbefore5

My brother came down today and he and Alex picked up the cabinets and got to work.

kitchenprocess

May 10: My dad and father-in-law come down to help lay down the new wood floor.

kitchenprocess2

By the end of the night my wall cabinets were all in and the fridge was set in place. The new kitchen floor was laid.

kitchenprogress3

May 11: My brother and Alex set the cabinets for my peninsula. This is probably one of my favorite parts of my new kitchen.

kitchenprocess5

By the end of the night I had a room that looked very much like a kitchen (sans countertops & sink).

kitchenprocess6

We had the hardest time finding new lights that would fit the style of our home. In the end we decided to keep the original 1962 fixtures and just spray the gold silver. I think they work.

kitchenprocess7

Remember, I was due with baby #4 during this remodel. Chaos, I know. This is what my dining room/living room looked like for most of the month of May.

kitchenprocess8

Our countertops came in the following week and we were able to put it back together 11 days before Felix was born. Thank goodness! Now are you ready to see it all finished?!

eastkitch

southkitch

northkitch

sekitch

Alex got some fun Hue lights to add to the tops of the cabinets and under the peninsula.

finishedkitchen1

I love it! After cooking and entertaining it in for two months now I can say that I absolutely love it. Thanks to the hard work from my brother, husband, and our dads I was able to have a functioning kitchen after two weekends of hard work.

The lady at Home Depot told me it would take four months of construction to have a new kitchen (if we used their team) well I laugh in her face ha-ha. I am thankful I have a super skilled, hardworking brother to lead our remodeling team.

Here are some of the details:
Cabinets: Cabinet Factory Outlet (Holiday Kitchens, Slab style door in white Thermafoil, peninsula cabinets are Slab style door painted gray)
Hardware: Liberty Stainless Steel Pulls
Tile backsplash: 2×4 Subway Tile  and Delorean Gray grout
Countertop:  Formica Laminate in Storm Solidz
Butcher Block Peninsula Top: John Boos
Flooring:  2-1/4″ Natural Hickory Hardwood by Bellawood from Lumber Liquidators
Stools: Tabouret Metal Counter Stools from Overstock.com
Appliances are all Whirlpool Stainless Steel (I can give specifics if you want)
Above counter and below peninsula lights: Phillips Friends of Hue Lightstrips
Sink: Extra large, undermount, single bowl Karran Edge Stainless Steel sink
Dining Table: Norden Extendable Table from Ikea (seats 10+)

We opted to put our microwave in our peninsula. I am so glad we did. It is so great to not have a giant ugly microwave taking up counter space or in my line of site.

microwave

The giant drawer under the microwave has all the plastic kiddie dinner ware and lunch box stuff. Which is perfect because Kasper can easily unload his stuff from the dishwasher.

Drawer for kids

We also opted to skip the lazy-susan in our corner cabinet. This is perfect for me because I can stack up my pans and organize them how I use them.

Corner Cupboard

Another favorite is my decision to put cabinets on both sides of the peninsula. The dining room side cabinets are shallow, only 12″, but they are perfect to store so much stuff. No more running downstairs to grab extra glasses or plates when I have a dinner party.

Peninsula Cupboards

Two more bonus shots off my very open living/dining/kitchen area. View from the living room.

View from living room

View from dining room. We are still on the hunt for a dining room light. Do you have a suggestion?

finshed2

And lastly a few fun things that make me happy to when I see them.

Kitchen Accessories

1.  My wire shelf holding some vintage Ball jars, my AeroGarden, cookbooks, panda bear cookie jar, bucket of wine corks, and cooking magazines
2.  My Ikea Kitchen cart holding some vintage bar supplies
3.  Penguin cookie jar holding beer koozies :)
4.  My great grandma’s chickens
5.  My drawer with Ikea Variera spice jar inserts
6.  My husband’s grandmother’s vintage tins

I hope you have enjoyed taking a look at my new kitchen. If you have any questions leave them below in the comments and I will do my best to answer!

Posted in Beverage, Family | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Cold Lunch Once Again

Can you believe that summer break is wrapping up?! I am once again going to document the girls’ cold lunches. I hope you will follow along!

Cold Lunch Cold Lunch

This year I am going to document the week’s worth of cold lunches every Sunday instead of posting every day. This will be easier for me to manage.

All of the cold lunch posts will appear under the cold lunch page and they will not appear on the main recipe page. I will share update reminders on my Facebook page too so head over and “LIKE” Jamie’s Recipes.

thirdgrade

Sasha already has one week (two days) under her belt. Penelope starts school next week and I will document her lunches as well.

Majority of the time the girls will pick what they want for lunch. I was worried they would grow tired of sandwiches but most of the time that is what they want. So I pack them lots of sandwiches throughout the year since I would rather they eat what is packed instead of wasting food.

If you have any questions about our Cold Lunches just leave me a comment.

 

Posted in Family | Tagged as: , , | Leave a comment

Blueberry Cinnamon Jam

This is my third summer canning jams. When I started I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. Canning wasn’t a foreign concept to me though. Mom canned so many tomatoes and beans when I was growing up. She still does. Hopefully next year will be my year to have a bountiful garden, giving me enough produce to preserve for winter.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 8.58.20 PM

If you are new to canning don’t be intimidated. Go pick up a copy of the best known canning book out there: Blue Book Guide to Preserving by Ball. They are the makers of the canning jar so you’d think they would know a thing or two about canning.

For someone who was so nervous the first time she started canning I have to say that I love making jams. Like really, really. Canning jam allows me to make some for me and my family to enjoy but it also lets me share with friends. A jar of homemade jam would make a wonderful hostess gift. Last year and the year before I listed canning as one of my food goals for the new year. This year I am coming through.

I made this jam last year too but we ate it so quickly I didn’t have any photos to share with you. Blueberry Cinnamon Jam might raise a few eyebrows, especially for the non-adventurous eaters, but trust me on this these two work so well together. There is only a tiny bit of cinnamon in the entire batch. Just a nice background flavor. My daughters went through this so fast last year for school lunches I made a double batch this year and I am contemplating on canning some more this week just in case we finish it before the end of the school year.

Canning does require a few supplies specifically half pint jars, lids, and jar rings. You can read more about canning supplies on my Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam post

Blueberry Cinnamon Jam

BLUEBERRY CINNAMON JAM
Yield: 5-6 half pints
Ingredients
2-1/2 cups crushed blueberries
3-1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1-3 ounce pouch liquid pectin

Directions
1.  Sanitize all jars and lids before starting the canning process.
2.  Crush the blueberries with a potato masher or pulse in the food processor or blender. Run through a food mill if you are opposed to the blueberry skins in your jam.
3.  Fill your large canner with water, set on stove, and cover with lid. Bring pot to boil on high heat until ready to use.
4.  In a large pot place blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon stir to combine. Over high heat bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
5.  Quickly stir in pectin and cook for 1 minute.
6.  Remove from heat and skim off foam.
7.  Carefully ladle jam into hot half pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe off any spilled jam before placing on the lid. Seal the jar with a canning ring until just tightened.
8.  Place the filled jars in your canner and lower in to the boiling water. Process for 10 minutes. The higher your altitude the longer it will take to process.
9.  Carefully remove the jars with your jar lifter tongs and let them cool in a draft-free area without touching or bumping them for 24 hours. (I usually set them on a bath towel in an out of the way corner of my counter). You might be able to hear the pinging noise of the lids being sucked down and sealed. *music to my ears* If you press down on the cooled lid and it gives that means it didn’t seal properly.
10.  All jars that are properly sealed can have the rings removed or loosened. Any jars that didn’t seal properly can be placed in the fridge and used right away.

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam

If for some reason your jam doesn’t set up correctly you can try to redo it by adding more pectin. Here is a great resource on how to do that:  How to Fix Runny Jam or you can just pop in the fridge and use it as a sauce on waffles, pancakes, yogurt, and ice cream.

Posted in Breakfasts, Preserving | Tagged as: , , , , , , | 9 Comments
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