Mima’s Tropical Fruit Salad

Sometimes I shoot photos on the floor, outside, on a bamboo mat.

Well – this is a first for the bamboo mat.

Usually, I do this while the Babes is taking her nap.

And this is why:

Babes started snacking on my set-up when I was inside preparing the other fruit.

Now I know she likes mango, fancy-cut.
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Week 8 – Know Yourself, and Be OK With It

I went to bed last night mildly panicked.

I didn’t know what I would write about today.

So as my head hit the pillow, I said a little prayer that inspiration would find its way to my brain, followed by some wit and charisma, and I hoped that a magical blog post that meant something would hit me by 5:30 Saturday morning.
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Classic Vanilla Cake – The One and Only

I’ve noticed something over my last couple of posts. I start with “OK” too much.  I’m not going to do that anymore.

OK?

No, really. If I do, you’re allowed to give me a verbal slap on the hand. It’s not an attractive writing trait.

Something else I’ve noticed I do too much is eat cake.

But I love cake, and I don’t plan on changing that particular bad habit.
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Cupcake Cones and Magical Buttercream Frosting

OK, I know this isn’t a new invention, so just consider it a memory jogger – “Hey! Remember these??”

I know they’ve been around for decades, because my mom made them for us at some point during our childhood.

No, they definitely aren’t new to the Birthday scene, but people always seem to be taken with them and comment on how cute they are. It also  never really fails that a stranger will ask how I made them.

They aren’t difficult at all, which is one of the reasons I keep going back to them, and at a party they’re wonderful, because they are so easy to hand out and easy for the kids to manipulate.

I’m not afraid to use cake mix from a box when there is so much going on that just the thought of concocting a cake from scratch makes me feel like I’m teetering on the edge of loosing my sanity. So these were made from our favorite yellow cake box mix.

It’s super moist. Hint, hint.

Just follow the directions on the box as though you are making cupcakes, but instead of using cupcake papers, use ice cream cones. Stop filling each cone about an inch from the very top of the cone or when they bake you’ll end up with overflow – like I did. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just looks like melting ice cream.

Stick with the theme, right?

Then bake them according to the cupcake directions. (I just lined mine up on a baking sheet and VERY carefully place them in the oven). I’m sure there is a better way, but I was too lazy to figure it out.

I’m sort of wondering if you can create a shallow layer of dry beans to nestle the bottom of each cone into so they won’t tip or shift around, but I haven’t tested it, so I don’t know if you have to adjust cooking time for something like that.

Once they are baked, slowly and carefully pull them out of the oven and let them cool completely, then frost them.

Now this. THIS is the part I’ve been waiting to tell you.

The frosting.

This is my fall-back, use-all-the-time frosting. It never disappoints me. It’s pretty much perfect.

When I made Valentines cupcakes for my middle guy to take to school last week, he came home and told me this:

Mom, {Sally} said that {Bobby} said, “MMMMMM!!! These cupcakes are SO MAGICAL that I feel like I got run over by a UNICORN!!”.

Compliments just don’t get much better than that. I can tell their teacher’s writing prompts are working too, if her students can come up with quality analogies on the fly like that.

Thank you, Bobby.

This recipe is, from here on out, known as Magical Unicorn Buttercream Frosting. It was passed on to me almost a decade ago by my dearest Southern Belle friend in Georgia. . . it was the very first frosting I ever learned how to make from scratch, and there really is a secret to its perfection.

I bet you’ll never guess.

Recipe:

Magical Unicorn Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Shortening
!/2 Cup Parkay, at room temperature (YES, Parkay. This is the secret, and yes, it makes a huge difference.)
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
4 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons water

Add shortening and Parkay to medium bowl and beat on medium speed with and electric mixer for about 30 seconds. Add in Vanilla, beat until blended in. Gradually add in powdered sugar. As frosting begins to thicken, gradually add in water. Continue to beat for several minutes until frosting is smooth and creamy.

This frosting will turn out beautifully light, fluffy, smooth, and creamy – all at the same time. Of course you can substitute real butter for the Parkay, but I urge you to try it this way first. I really didn’t think it would make much of a difference, but my friend warned me that nothing else quite compares, and it’s true. In fact, my five-year old pointed it out to me once when I made it with butter. It wasn’t the same, and it wasn’t as good. . . why mess with a good thing?

Source: Sara, via my beautiful Southern Belle friend, T.W. 😉

Oh! and a quick tip – if you are transporting these, you can use a gift box or other cardboard box turned upside down and pierced with x’s. Then poke the inner corners of the x’s in, and you have a little hole for the cone.

And one more quick tip, if you have these frosted and ready to go, but on the tray and not in the carrier yet, and you keep thinking to yourself, “Don’t move them around too much. Don’t move them around too much. Don’t move. . . ”

You get it, right? If you’re thinking that, then DON’T MOVE THEM AROUND TOO MUCH! Or you might just bump the tray, and they might just topple over and your beautiful frosting tops might just get squished.

Just guessing.

Week 7 – Have Another Cup

I don’t want to exclude anyone here, but I know I will. Not everyone is a coffee drinker.

If you’re not, I don’t want to offend you. . . but if you’re not, you should be. (This is my purely objective opinion, of course): You’re missing out.

There’s something funny about coffee that I’ve never experienced with any other beverage.

Please, if you disagree with me here, feel free to tell me.

If you are a coffee drinker, you know what I’m talking about.

It has special powers.
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Easy Strawberry Jam

We went strawberry picking last weekend. (Yes, it’s already that time of year in our neck of the woods!)

Apparently, this is risky business. . .

We did, in fact, proceed with caution. We cautiously tiptoed through ankle-deep rain water. We cautiously picked strawberries. We cautiously picked tomatoes. We cautiously ate said strawberries and tomatoes. We cautiously ate famous farm-made cinnamon buns. We cautiously ate a fresh strawberry milkshake. The kids cautiously climbed trees. I cautiously snapped photos. We cautiously toted home roughly 9 pints of strawberries, a dozen giant tomatoes, and a handful of baby tomatoes.

It was a cautious morning.

Having 9 pints of fresh strawberries at home may or may not seem daunting to an individual.

I didn’t consider myself daunted until we had eaten 4 pints of fresh strawberries just as they were – and I had already baked a pound cake to accompany them (because that’s what you do when you have too many strawberries, right?). Then I started wondering how I was going to make use of all these fresh little fruits before they turned bad on us.
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Italian Style Beef Meatballs

So what do you do when your Darling is not a fan of candy or flowers? What do you do when your Numero Uno is a guy? What do you do when your Sweetie Pie is a guy and you don’t want to buy him yet another bag of Doritos and dress it in a pretty ribbon?

You make him swoon with meatballs and serve it with crusty bread, wine and little message-bearing toothpicks posted like billboards in central Florida – one every hundred feet – or in this case, one per meatball:
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Week #6 – Have You Carried it Long Enough?

There was a boy, the youngest of three siblings, who befriended a panda bear.

Not just any panda bear, a talking, zen-type of panda bear. One day, the boy visited the panda and brought with him nearly every toy he owned. He complained that his brother was too bossy – that he had told him he was bringing too much stuff, so the boy had brought everything.

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Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bard - so good

I went to the dentist yesterday.

I pretty much rocked it.  Didn’t even gag.

Dr. Dentist complimented me, “You’re doing good! I don’t see you gagging!”

That would be because I lied and told him I had a super sensitive gag reflex so that he would be extra careful not to let anything fall down the back of my throat and make me feel like I was going to choke to death and die.

I’m pretty sure he figured out I lied.

Sorry Dr. Dentist, “You’re just way better at what you do than the last guy I went to”.

He liked that.

So to celebrate a job well done, I came home and made this:

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark – so good, it’s earned the nick-name, “crack bark”

Did you see it?
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