Ada’s Frozen 5th Birthday Party!

Ada turned 5 last month! She reminds us daily that she is 5 now. We celebrated with friends and family in Frozen style, would you expect anything less? :)

I did all white food to make it feel like a wintry-snowy-land. Cauliflower & jicama with Ranch dressing for dipping. Powdered donettes, marshmallows (that everyone mistook for mints – so I’ll just do mints next time), turkey & Rondele cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Sprite & water to drink!

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I borrowed all of my mom’s Christmas tree collection and I think they looked perfect around the cake! I used Duncan Hines Blue Velvet cake, my buttercream frosting, then topped it with rock candy (I saw the idea from a friend who saw it on Pinterest) and an Elsa. I’m so happy with how it turned out! Ada was in awe :)

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I made snowflake sugar cookies and had a station with frosting and sprinkles for the kids to decorate their own:

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Sweet girlfriends playing ring around the rosie:

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Matt’s dad surprised everyone and showed up as Olaf!

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All the party goers after the piñata. Did you know that they have piñatas now that you don’t have to hit? This one had ribbons that hung down and each person pulls a ribbon until you get to the one that opens it. Ours didn’t quite open enough and I had to rip it more, but I thought that was so cool!

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My big 5-year-old while all of her friends sang Happy Birthday to her :)

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I think we got all of the Elsas in this picture!

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We also had Frozen playing on the TV and had some impromptu singalongs with popcorn after all the food and cake. I’d say it was a success!

Happy Birthday sweet Ada! Thank you for making me a Mommy 5 years ago and teaching me so much. Love you baby girl :)

Lola Turns Three & Strawberry Brownie Ice Cream Cake

My baby turned three this month! Sweet Lola girl wanted a Tinkerbell party and picked out her tablecloth, plates, napkins, cups, and outfit to wear. We looked through the blog for dinner ideas and she chose Hot Beef Sandwiches au Jus, much to her Papa’s delight!

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This is typical Lola, not used to the spotlight while opening gifts.

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Showing off her baking outfit:

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And deciding to blow out her candles with my help this year. Can you believe that sweet little face?! I just love the way she looks at me.

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This little one is our lover. Always up for snuggles, hugs, and kisses. Always willing to share. Loves to do everything “Mine self!” Is talking non-stop and has the most contagious laugh. We love you sweet Lola-girl!!

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I took a page from my Coldstone days and made an ice cream cake that fulfilled Lola’s “Pink with green on top” request. It was perfect on such a warm summer birthday celebration!

Press brownies into the bottom of a springform pan,

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Pour and spread your softened ice cream on top and freeze.

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Pour warm water around the edge of your pan and release.

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Top with whipped cream if desired.

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Enjoy!

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Strawberry Brownie Ice Cream Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
An easy, fuss-free homemade cake perfect for any party!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 9x9 in. pan Ghirardelli Brownies, prepared
  • 1.5 quart Breyer's Strawberry Ice Cream, softened
  • 1 8 oz. Carton Heavy Whipping Cream (optional)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar (optional)
  • Food coloring (optional)
Instructions
  1. Bake brownies according to package directions and cool. Press brownies into the bottom of your springform pan.
  2. Scoop and spread the ice cream into the pan, on top of the brownies.
  3. Place the cake in freezer for 4 hours or overnight.
  4. When cake is completely frozen, remove from freezer and run the edges of the pan under warm water until the form can be removed.
  5. Place cake on serving platter and add whipped cream, if using.
  6. Whipped cream:
  7. Beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and desired color food coloring in stand mixer until stiff peaks form.

 

Birthday Birthday Birth Month!

Last month, I turned the big 3-0! Pretty cool. I found this book in a cute little British shop in Santa Barbara & felt it was appropriate and hilarious.

As I was looking at it, a man walked over and picked up the 70 one. He said he was going to a friend’s 70th birthday party soon and thought it would be a good gift. He said, “You’re 30?” I said, “Almost!” His wife then said, “Oh, that’s depressing. You’re so young!” I’ve had a couple of comments like that regarding 30, so that’s cool. I guess I’m still young? What’s in an age anyway?! Birthdays are an excuse to celebrate and eat cake :)

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Thank you to everyone who made my birthday wonderful! I am so grateful for my family and friends. They’re the best.

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Auntie Linds Visits & Other Fun Things

I took this picture of Ada for Joyschool. She wanted her sweater with the flower, all buttoned up. And her heart necklace, princess bracelet, and sparkly red headband. I love the way she accessorizes :)

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Matt & I went for a run by the Elks’ Rodeo grounds. I love the rodeo! Can’t wait for it in June.

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Matt went for a run with a friend and came home to Mav sitting on top of him. I think he missed him just a little bit!

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Poor Lola doesn’t get a nap on Sundays because we go from 11:30-2:30 this year. I was looking for her after church and found her like this on the couch!

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Ada’s Nutcracker Suite 4th Birthday Party & Sugar Plum Surprise Cupcakes

My first baby is 4 years old! She had a party with her Sunbeam class, cousins, & playgroup friends.

I was pretty proud of the invitation I put together on PicMonkey (I don’t do Photoshop)! I blurred out our address, that’s why it looks funny.

We decided on the theme because I’ve had these adorable cupcake toppers and liners for a couple of years and still hadn’t used them! We were watching the Nutcracker ballet on Netflix one day and Ada loved the dancing and everything so this idea was born and she loved it!

We had pomegranate lemonade and water to drink, chips, carrots, broccoli, & dip, orange slices, grapes, raspberries, and apples to eat. I love living near a Fresh & Easy again!! I made sure we had all finger food for little hands :)

I borrowed my best friend’s beautiful Nutcrackers to decorate with…they were perfect! Thanks T :)

We had Nutcracker magnets the kids colored (& left on my fridge…I brought them to church the next day to give to everyone).

Then we played pin the star on the stable with a wall-cling Nativity that a Secret Santa left for us. The kids were adorable while playing it and helped each other out so much. A couple of them (including the birthday girl) didn’t want to wear the blindfold. Kind of defeats the purpose of the game, but they were all still so tickled when someone put the star on top.

Then we sang Happy Birthday to Ada and she blew out her candle. Lovely see food :)

Ada requested pink and purple cupcakes with pink frosting just like the sugar plum fairy. Then I told the kids that if Ada was a good girl then the Nutcracker would show up at her birthday party!

TA-DA!

Ada & Evelyn were both stoked on Mr. Nutcracker, the rest…not so much. It turned into beat up the Nutcracker!!

Everyone keeps telling me what a good sport Matt is, but the truth is that he loves it :) We both do!

We had the Nutcracker Ballet playing on TV; such beautiful music. Reminds me of being a snowflake and soldier when I was in it as a little girl!

In the party favor bags we had a Nutcracker sticker scene, assorted Nutcracker Christmas tree ornaments, and bouncy balls.

Thank you to all of you that came and showed Ada love on her birthday! She’s still talking about the time that all of her friends came over and played and ate cupcakes :)

Gray, Evelyn, Emma, Ada, Lola, Sephora, & Ava. Cole & Darby didn’t want to be in the group shots :)

Everyone just needs to look at Ava (white coat) in this picture!! bahaha

Happy Birthday Miss Ada! Love you and your independent, smart ways. Can’t believe you’re a big 4-year-old already! xoxo

The cupcakes were so much fun to make! I used the flavorings and food colorings that McCormick sent me, along with the OXO cupcake corer!

We had the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker, Christmas Tree, and Rat King. Ewww. Nobody wanted him!

Aren’t they pretty?

I flavored the batter and frosting with raspberry extract, then used the food colorings for dusty rose and purple.

And here’s the surprise! M&Ms tucked into the center of the cupcake :) It was so much fun to watch everyone get to the middle!

Sugar Plum Surprise Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: cupcake
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 can cream cheese frosting
  • M&Ms candies
  • Food coloring
  • Raspberry extract
Instructions
  1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Add 1 Tablespoon raspberry extract and mix to incorporate flavor.
  2. Divide batter into two equal parts.
  3. To one half, add 12 drops red food coloring and 4 drops blue to make dusty rose.
  4. To the other half, add 24 drops red food coloring and 16 blue drops to make pretty purple.
  5. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners.
  6. Drop Tablespoons full of the pretty purple cake batter into the liners. Top with Tablespoons of the dusty rose cake batter.
  7. Bake cupcakes as directed, until a toothpick comes out cleanly.
  8. Let cool completely before coring and frosting.
  9. Once cupcakes are completely cooled, use your OXO cupcake corer to remove the centers of the cupcakes.
  10. Fill each cupcake with M&Ms candies (I found that 1 teaspoon was perfect).
  11. For the frosting, add 6 drops of red food coloring plus 2 drops of blue to make dusty rose. Add 1 teaspoon raspberry extract to flavor. Mix until the color is completely even throughout.
  12. Frost cupcakes starting in the center to cover the candies and work your way to the edge.
  13. Enjoy!

 

Matt’s Birthday & Polka Dots

This morning we went walking and to the park with our friends,  but I didn’t take any pictures! I was bad with pictures today. My neck has been bothering me, so that’s my excuse.

Tonight the girls were extra snuggly with me as we got ready for bed. Lola was also extra cheeky…her faces kill me!

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Poor Matt was gone all day on his birthday. I felt bad for him & made him a little cake. 

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I made up the recipe and it was yummy right out of the oven, but on subsequent days it was spongey and a lil tough. So I ate the frosting which was most delicious then threw the cake away. 

Tonight we went to Japanese with the family and celebrated with a real cake! Madonna Inn chocolate cake…mmm! They sell them at Spencer’s now, so convenient. 

Lola and her spaghetti sauce selfie. Love that face!

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We saw our friends at Costco and their daughter was born just a couple weeks after Ada. They are so cute together! They were laughing a chatting up a storm.

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Ada has been loving dressing herself and polka dots lately! 

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What are your plans for the weekend?

Did you enter the giveaway?

Homemade Yellow Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting & How to Frost a Layer Cake

Hi again everyone…I have so much to tell you, so this is a mega-post! First of all, I have to say that I met Deb of Smitten Kitchen! She came to Santa Cruz (miracle, I know) on her book signing tour! I was so starstruck that I forgot to get a picture with her. This is the best I got, a grainy cell phone pic from way in the back of the hot & stuffy bookstore. But I was elated to meet the woman who inspired me to start a food blog and realize that even though you have a tiny kitchen, you can still make delicious food. It was awesome. I gave her one of my cards with my picture of her granola bar recipe on it and asked her what advice she would give a lowly food blogger like me. She said, “Keep it fun. If you aren’t having fun, something needs to change. Continue tweaking things until it’s fun.” Words to live by! I have wanted to make this cake of Deb’s for a long time since Matt loves yellow cake. It is just incredible. He was a happy birthday boy! I could’ve eaten all of the batter straight without baking it. The cake is moist, dense (but not too heavy), and everything that a birthday cake should be! I chose to make a different frosting than the sour cream one because I didn’t think my family would care for it. The fudge frosting was perfect! And I LOVE that it’s made in my food processor. Easy & fast! I did, however, forget to add the milk. So the night of it tasted awesome, but after being in the fridge it was pretty solid. So don’t forget the milk!

I don’t claim to be an expert on frosting layer cakes, but I have learned a few things over the years. The first time I made a layer cake, it was a German chocolate one for my mom’s birthday. We took it over to my Nana’s house and it had cracked down the middle and we just poured the frosting inside! It was hilarious. I wish I had a picture of that cake wreck, it still tasted amazing but was a hot mess. Nana told me that’s why she sticks to sheet cakes :)

Make sure your cakes are completely cooled before frosting them. You can even make them ahead, wrap them in plastic wrap, and store them in the fridge or freezer.

First, place a dollop of frosting on the center of your cake plate. This will anchor the bottom layer and keep it from sliding.After you have leveled out the bottom layer with a serrated knife, center it on top of the frosting.Place a good amount of frosting on top of the first layer and spread to the edges. You don’t have to spread all the way to the edge, the weight of the top layer will squish it out for you.

Next, level the second layer. Place it on top of the first layer with the top side down.

Next, plop a few cups of frosting on top of the cake.Spread a thick layer carefully, making sure not to pull up any crumbs. I know some people do a crumb coat then follow with another coat of frosting but I don’t have time for that business. Just be careful and use lots of frosting and you’ll be fine!Start spreading the frosting down over the edge, adding more frosting to the sides of the cake and spreading carefully.Continue until all of the cake is covered evenly and your little helper can’t wait any longer!Wipe up excess frosting from your plate. Voila! You did it! Now go eat your beautiful creation :)

Homemade Yellow Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk well-shaken
  • For the frosting:
  • From Smitten Kitchen who adapted it, barely, from a Sky High recipe
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 4½ cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, or butter them. Line bottom of pans with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar with the paddle attachment at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each egg. At low speed, beat in the buttermilk until just combined (batter will look curdled). Add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing just until each addition is incorporated.
  3. Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans, then drop pans on counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles. (This part makes a ton of noise and makes my girls scream and giggle!)
  4. Bake the cakes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pans. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.
  5. Frosting Directions:
  6. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.