Magical Monday

Dear Sis,

Today was a super busy day for me. My day flopped between taking care of the Littles and keeping busy with our wonderful house guests:)

After I got the kiddos to school, Granny, Mom, and I went to yoga. Then, we wondered around the shops on historic Main St. Our wondering led us to candy… by no great mystery.

Truffles

I couldn’t choose just one, so I got a key lime and a mint chocolate truffle… yummmmmm:)


Spoiler Alert 

Before dinner Josh and the Littles headed outside for a project. Five minutes later, Little came in to tell me I wasn’t allowed to come outside. Five minutes after that, Littlest came in to reassert the point vigorously, so I knew they were up to something. I turns out, Josh was digging out the spot right next to the front door, so he could make me a flower bed.

dug out


I made Tater Tot Casserole for dinner and Orange Cake for dessert, which was eagerly eaten by little kids and those who are only kids at heart.

Orange Cake

Orange Creamsicle Cake
Serves 12
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Cake
  1. 1 c granulated sugar
  2. 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
  3. 1/2 c buttermilk
  4. 1/4 c water
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 t orange extract
  7. 1 t vanilla extract
  8. zest of an orange
  9. 1 c cake flour
  10. 1/2 t baking powder
  11. orange food color (optional)
Frosting
  1. 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  3. 1 c powdered sugar
  4. 1 t vanilla bean paste
  5. 1/4 t salt
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease and flour a square baking pan.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar. Stir in buttermilk, water, egg, extracts and zest.
  3. Stir in flour and baking powder. Add food color, if desired.
  4. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes.
Frosting
  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter.
  2. Beat in sugar, vanilla paste, and salt.
  3. Spread over cooled orange cake.
Adapted from Chef in Training
Adapted from Chef in Training
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
 Love,

b

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The House

Hey sis,

Wow, does life get even busier when you are in the process of purchasing a house!  We are running around like chickens with our heads cut off, talking things through with the real-estate agent, scheduling and talking to inspectors, and starting to think about all the problems in the pretty house we found, and hoping that everything is okay, goes through, and we can actually buy it! lol.

I wanted to get some pictures of the house for you, because you can’t capture the place by seeing it yourself!

This is the ultra busy road that the house is located on… and part of the front yard.

Another shot of the front yard to the road. Unfortunately, this tree is split badly and we may lose it. 🙁  There in the distance is one of the neighbors. OOOHhhh and I heard rooster’s crowing.  The neighbors have chickens too!

We where searching all around the house for the well.  Turns out, it was under the lighthouse. lol

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A pretty picture of the pond from the side of the house, featuring the walk out basement and rear side porch.   The chickens will live behind the pond in the woods!

I got a picture of Nate standing next to the Pole Barn

And on the roof with Carmin

Front house

ranch 2

Back of house

So you get an idea of the layout.  Three bedrooms are all on the left hand side of the house.  The kitchen is in the middle (where the double doors are) and the garage and other big living room, and new laundry room are on the other side.

Okay… I know you want to see the kitchen

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This is half of the kitchen.  (No worries, I already talked to Carmin about getting rid of the microwave above the stove, and adding a different form of ventilation…so I can fit my larger canning pots on the stove). The entry on the side is the old laundry room with a pantry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The laundry area is behind the large pantry inside of a closet.  This is an old area, before the house had an addition.  The addition put on a new large laundry room, but we intend to move the laundry back to near the kitchen, and use the laundry room for a guest bedroom.

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On the side of refrigerator is the dinning room.  The other door entry in the picture is the living room… which, is attached to the dinning room.  If we want to eventually open this up, we can 🙂

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Dining room

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Living room

All the bedrooms are normal and nicely sized, with closets that are a nice depth.

This is the spare room.  It looks like it could have been a bedroom before the addition was added to the house, but now it is a hallway between to two halves of the house.  Therefore, we are thinking of using it as an office/library/sewing room instead.

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Other side of the house has a hallway with closets, bathroom, laundry room, and a large living room that leads to the back porch.

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This is part of the large laundry room.  It is sided by a bathroom, and two walk in closets.  We are talking about ripping out closets to add to the size of the room, and making it a guest bedroom with it’s private bathroom.  This way you and Joshling have a place to stay when you visit! 😉

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The other family room

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The basement will be a great place to keep the incubators. We are thinking we will put the brooders in the other side of the garage.

That’s it for now!  Time for the inspections!

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Special Guests for Dinner

Dear Sis,

Just a few hours after I picked up the Littles form their weekend visit with their Mommy and Gran Michelle our special guests arrived… Granny and Josh’s mom Dianne!!! Josh made it home just in time for dinner.

Ranch Chicken

Cheddar Ranch Chicken
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 8 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
  2. 1/2 c cheddar, shredded
  3. 1/2 c mayonnaise
  4. 1 T minced garlic
  5. 1 oz pkg. Ranch Seasoning
  6. 1/3 c Italian bread crumbs
  7. 2 t parsley flakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 9x13 inch dish. Arrange chicken thighs.
  2. Whisk together cheese, mayo, garlic, and Ranch Seasoning.
  3. Spread over chicken thighs. Sprinkle with crumbs and parsley. Cover with foil.
  4. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 175.
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
 The kiddos stayed in the spare room they usually occupy during a sleepover, we put Granny and Mom in our room, and Josh and I shared this great airbed in the dining room. 

 

Air Bed

Love,

b

 

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Braised Beef Tortellini

Dear Sis,

Tonight Josh and I had our February Date Night. We made dinner together:)

Braised Beef & Tortelloni

Braised Beef Tortellini
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 3 T olive oil
  2. 1/4 c + 2 T flour, divided
  3. 1 1/2 lb. boneless beef ribs
  4. 1 T minced garlic
  5. 1 T Italian seasoning
  6. 6 oz. mushrooms, chopped
  7. 1 c marsala wine
  8. 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  9. 20 oz pkg. cheese tortellini, cooked
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over high heat.
  2. Toss ribs with 1/4 c flour. Add to pan and sear, turning as needed.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Stir in garlic and Italian seasoning; cook 1 minute.
  4. Add mushrooms, wine, and tomatoes. Cook covered for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove meat. Cut into bite sized pieces. Stir 2 T flour into sauce to thicken. Return meat to sauce.
  6. Serve over cooked cheese tortellini.
Adapted from A Skinny Cook
Adapted from A Skinny Cook
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

 We also made Blackberry Cobbler, but were so full after dinner, we decided to hold off on dessert.  We wrapped up our Date Night with a slow dance to Jack Johnson’s, Constellations🙂

Love,

b

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Grilled Stuffed Chicken

Dear Sis,

Grilled Stuffed Chicken

Grilled Stuffed Chicken
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 4 chicken breasts or boneless thighs
  2. 1 c baby spinach
  3. 8 strips red bell pepper
  4. 4 cheese sticks
  5. 1/3 c Italian dressing
Instructions
  1. Lay chicken breasts or thighs out flat. Arrange 1/4 c baby spinach, 2 pepper strips, and a cheese stick in the center of each piece of chicken. Roll up and secure with toothpicks.
  2. Place stuffed chicken in a food storage container. Add Italian dressing and roll each stuffed chicken to coat. Marinate in the fridge 2 hours.
  3. Grill 10 - 15 minutes, turning as needed, until chicken is cooked through.
Adapted from Mom Foodie
Adapted from Mom Foodie
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Grilled Stuffed Chicken II

Love,

b

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A Little Race Car Party

Dear Sis,

Today we celebrated Little’s 6th Birthday with family and friends. It was a wonderful afternoon!

Little’s Pit Stop

Pit Stop

Bottled Apple Juice (Fuel)

Chex Mix (Nuts & Bolts)

Mini Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts (Spare Tires)

Apple & Grape (Race Cars)

Veggie Sticks & Ranch Dip (Dip Sticks)

Fruit Kabob (Stoplights)

Cheese (Traffic Cones)

(Checker Flag) Finger Sandwiches

Race Cars

Apple & Grape Race Cars
Yields 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 small red delicious apple
  2. 1/4 t fruit fresh
  3. 16 red grapes
  4. 8 tooth picks
  5. 4 checkered flags
Instructions
  1. Quarter and core apple. Toss with fruit fresh to prevent browning.
  2. Place a tooth pick at the front and back of each apple wedge. Place a grape on each point of both toothpicks.
  3. Place a checkered flag in the center of each apple and grape race car.
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

 Checkered Flags: are toothpicks with checked duck tape.

Yes, it is really that easy to impress small children… and grown ups too:)

Center Buffet

Buffet right

The Cake

a.k.a. My Masterpiece

Cake

Love,

b

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Glorious Buttercream!

Dear Sis,

Our wedding cake made it perfectly clear to me that there is an icing recipe out there I can love! A buttercream that is MILDLY week, light and fluffy, and still holds its intended shape!!! Here are… not one, but two great recipes:)

Italian Meringue Buttercream
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Ingredients
  1. 1 c sugar, divided
  2. 1/3 c water
  3. 1/8 t cream of tartar
  4. 3 egg whites, at room temp
  5. 1 t almond extract
  6. 1 t clear vanilla extract
  7. 1 1/3 c unsalted butter, soft
Instructions
  1. Set aside 2 T sugar. Combine remaining sugar, water, and cream of tatar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook without stirring, to 238 degrees F.
  2. While sugar syrup is coming to temperature, place egg whites in a stand mixer and beat on medium until frothy. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 T at a time. Increase speed to high, till soft peaks form. Bring mixer to a stop and stand until sugar syrup is ready.
  3. With mixer on high speed, slowly drizzle syrup into egg mixture. Beat until mixture has the look and consistency of marshmallow cream. Stand until mixture cools to room temperature.
  4. With mixture on high speed, beat in extracts and butter, 1 T at a time. Beat until mixture transforms from marshmallow cream to buttercream. (It takes a few minutes, but the transition happens fast, and it is cool to watch!) Beat a couple more minutes, until light and fluffy. Cooler with food coloring paste as desired.
Notes
  1. Makes about 4 1/2 cups, which frosts a 9x13 inch sheet cake perfectly.
Adapted from Wedding Cakes for You
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
 This icing is shockingly creamy! Yet by some miracle, it holds shape. I find that this frosting does not keep well in the fridge. It is best to make the day you plan to frost your cake!!!

My New Go-To Buttercream:

Swiss Buttercream
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Ingredients
  1. 1 c sugar
  2. 3 eggs whites
  3. 2 T corn syrup
  4. 1 1/4 c unsalted butter, soft
  5. 1 t almond extract
  6. 1 t clear vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Whisk together sugar, eggs, and corn syrup in a heat safe glass bowl. Place over a saucepan of simmering water, and heat to 145 degrees.
  2. Pour syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on hight until cooled to room temperature. Mixture will look like marshmallow cream.
  3. Beat in butter, 1 T at a time. Add extracts. Continue beating on high until marshmallow cream transforms into buttercream. Color with food paste as desired.
Notes
  1. Makes about 4 1/2 cups, which frosts a 9x13 inch sheet cake perfectly.
  2. Chocolate Swiss Buttercream: Beat in 2/3 c melted and cooled semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  3. Can be made ahead and stored airtight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature or rewhip before frosting.
Adapted from Hungry Cravings
Adapted from Hungry Cravings
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
 This recipe is easy! It is not as light as the first recipe, but it exceeds my expectations for a buttercream anyway!!! It also keeps well in the fridge. This is my new go to buttercream recipe!!!

Cooking:

Cooking Frosting

Whipping:

Whipping Frosting

Frosting:

Frosting

Happy Baking:)

Love,

b

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A Little Birthday

Dear Sis,

Today Little is 6!

These yummy strawberry cupcakes are for school this afternoon:)

Racing Cupcakes

The flags are made from tooth picks and duck tape.

Birthday Surprise

Little sees all the gifts I make for friends and family,

a few months ago he asked when I would make him something,

and I finally have:)

Race Car Blanket

Love,

b

 

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