Birthday Cake the Classy Way

So it was recently my college roommates birthday (Happy Birthday Girl!!). My friend C and I decided to make dinner for her, so I offered to make a cake…because as you know, I love birthdays. (Evidence here, here, and here).

I decided to make something from scratch so I searched the interwebs for a recipe I thought was worthy. It didn’t take long to find a good one.

Dry Ingredients

 

Melt the butter, cocoa, and water

Melt the butter, cocoa, and water

How you make buttercream

How you make buttercream

Batter

So the batter is a little more liquid than boxed cake, but I think its because its a fudge cake.

I only have one cake pan….and I thought the batter would all fit. Turns out there’s more than I thought….so rather than double the bake time by using the same pan (no thanks) I had an epiphany. I noticed that a bunt pan is the same circumference! I decided to use my one cake pan and the bunt pan…which would make for a fun layer cake.

Funfetti Frosting Layer...Layer of Champions

Funfetti Frosting Layer…Layer of Champions

Frosted with Vanilla Frosting

Frosted with Vanilla Frosting

30 Minute Chocolate Fudge Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
1 cup water
3 Tbs cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk***
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. In a sauce pan mix cocoa, butter, and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Mix into the dry ingredients. Mix well, once cooled slightly add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 20 mins.

***I made buttermilk by taking just under 1/2 cup milk and adding 1/2 Tbs of lemon juice. Let sit for a couple minutes…and BOOM buttermilk.

Photo by Jenn Sheehan :)

Photo by Jenn Sheehan 🙂

See….it’s a cool effect. If there had been a little more time I would have filled the whole with something…a cupcake, fruit…something. But for this time I left it open.

I did make a fun decorative banner to top the cake though. Here’s how you do it.

What You’ll Need:

fun paper (I used scrapbook paper
skewers
dental floss

Cut out some triangles

Cut out some triangles

I started by folding the edge of the paper over, and cut small triangles.

Then I cut a length of dental floss and tried it to the skewers.

To attach the triangles, I put a dab of glue and placed them over the floss (the glue makes it so they stay). Let it dry and BOOM classy cake decor.

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DIY Dry Erase Calendar

The weather recently has been insane. FREEZING. Gross. Silver lining being that it is ideal ‘let’s-stay-inside-all-day-and-do-crafts’ weather. Which is exactly what I did last weekend.

In the interest of full disclosure I should tell you that this is not some original idea that I had. I actually saw it on a few sites (Pinterest, Wanelo, Craft Gawker…).

I liked it instantly because 1. it looks real cool and 2. its SUPER CHEAP to make. What other reasons do you need, right?

Here’s what you’ll need:

-paint swatches (FREE at hardware stores…boom)
-glue
-some fun paper (wrapping paper can work well)
-a frame (Michael’s has some amazing sales)

Got these guys for free at Home Depot

Got these guys for free at Home Depot

I got the paint swatches in order…they are numbered on the top…so I just grabbed a sequence in order. (HINT: grab extras in case you mess up!).

calendar1

Ok so I cut off the top and bottom squares and used the middle ones for the calendar days. I kept the bottom ones though and used them as the days of the week. I had an 11×14 frame…so I had to cut the swatches. I measured them at 1 and 5 8ths (aka 2 lines past 1.52 inches).  I lined the back of my frame with cool wrapping paper for the background.

Glue'em Down

 

Once you cut’em down to size, line them up and glue them down. I cut the very bottom squares that I had saved in half and used them as day of the week markers. I have a bunch of scrap booking materials so I used some stickers I have to write Month. NOTE: the glue makes the card-boardish paint swatches curl a little…so I actually put something heavy on it until it was dry to flatten it.

All Done!

All Done!

 

Once its all dry, I used a silver sharpie to write the days of the week. Then I just put it in the frame ($9.99 at Michael’s). You use the dry erase markers on the glass and BOOM you’re done! Super simple and easy. And you never have to buy a calendar again!

You can alter this project by not using paint swatches and simply making your own fancy/awesome looking white board.

 

Happy Crafting!

I Cook Turkey Whenever I Want…Take THAT Thanksgiving

So I love turkey. I may go so far as to say that is my favorite meat. But its not often that I get to get legit turkey. By legit I mean NOT deli meat…because deli turkey and oven roasted turkey are so different its weird they are both called turkey.

….Fade into a memory…..I spent two years in southern Africa and I can count on one finger the number of times I had turkey…ONE. I had dreams about turkey. My delightful grandmother (Hi Gram) offered to make me my favorite meal once I got home….she made me an amazing thanksgiving worthy meal in the middle of July. And it was AWESOME.

Flash forward to the present. I had yet to tackle a “whole bird” (chicken or turkey) in my crockpot so I decided that now was the time….and by time I mean Turkey Time.

*Let me preface this by noting that it was not just procrastination on my part that kept me from making a turkey. Availability is an issue. My grocery store almost never has the turkey breasts necessary for my cooking endeavors.  Until they finally did 🙂

So this guy is 6.5 lbs

So this guy is 6.5 lbs

I picked up a 6.5 lb turkey breast at good ole’ Stop&Shop. I could tell by looking that it would fit in my crockpot, but if you’re unsure you should measure before you buy. The one thing I really didn’t think about was Height. I had to hack a little piece off the top of the bird so that my cover could close tight…but that’s not a big deal.

I also cut up a small/medium onion and put it in with the bird, and about 2 cups of apple juice (about 2.5 juice boxes worth). Season with Salt and Pepper too.

Dump it and leave it.

Dump it and leave it.

Then you just put on the cover, cook on low for 8 or 10 hours and go about your business.

Look at this guy....Happy Thanksgiving...Said NO ONE.

Look at this guy….Happy Thanksgiving…Said NO ONE.

Look at all the tasty turkey meat.

Look at all the tasty turkey meat.

Dinner time for this girl!

Dinner time for this girl!

I just whipped up some stuffing and had a yummy dinner.

I found a wishbone!

I found a wishbone!

I found a wishbone so obviously we had to make a wish!…I didn’t win..womp womp.

As a final note: this is SUPER EASY. I recommend it to everyone who wants to cooks a turkey or whole chicken but doesn’t have the time to sit home and wait…or its summer and you can’t bare to heat your house up!

Salad Time

So when I go to the gym I typically go straight from work. This means that when I’m done working it all out I still have dinner to deal with. There are few things as frustrating as going to the gym and busting your butt only to immediately ruin all your hard work by chomping on a hamburger or some other crappy-type food. So the other night, C and I made an awesome post-gym dinner. Grilled Chicken Salad with Poppy-seed Dressing.

 

Mmmm...strawberries are always a welcome a to my salads

Mmmm…strawberries are always a welcome a to my salads

We put lots of yummy things into our salad to make it awesome enough for us.

Grilling up the chicken

Grilling up the chicken

C spiced up the chicken with some herbs and spices and grilled em’ up nice.

Spinach, strawberries, avocado, and cucmber

Spinach, strawberries, avocado, and cucumber…almost done!

While I was helping assemble the salad, C was busy making the chicken and whipping up some dressing.

 

Here's what you'll need.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Poppy-seed Dressing:

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon diced onion
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil (we used olive oil)
1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Looks good right?!

Looks good right?!

After the dressing was done, we sliced up the chicken, sliced up a little cheese, and sat down to EAT!

ain't she a beauty?

ain’t she a beauty?

This is one meal you can feel happy about eating after a work-out. So good!

 

Mmmm…Banana Bread

Weather is a tricky thing….in particular, what it does to temperature. My kitchen is a variety of different temperatures, which is less convenient for my poor bananas. Those poor jerks just can’t seem to adjust and seem to ripen at warp speed these days. I found myself with 4 overly ripe bananas so clearly there was only one option–make banana bread.

Now I have shared banana muffins with you all before…and those were great…but I decided to try something different. So naturally I asked google for advice.

I found a super simple, relatively healthy recipe (check it out here).

Yummy Banana Bread Drizzled with Chocolate

Yummy Banana Bread Drizzled with Chocolate

Here’s how the magic happened:

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup
  • 2 eggs (I used eggs whites)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (really use however much you want…this measurement is arbitrary)
  • walnuts to sprinkle on top (optional)

Beat the eggs and sugar together for little bit (a few mins to make them fluffier). Add other liquid ingredients and the bananas. Add the dry ingredients. Pop that biz into your pan (line it with parchment paper or just spray it with Pam like me). Bake at 350 for 45-60 mins. <–this seemed long to me but totally was needed.

Now, remember that time I had some ladies over for a party around New Years? Well I ended up with leftover chocolate fondue (which I stuck in a ziplock in my freezer) so inspiration hit. In all fairness, this was not an original idea…Dunkin’ Donuts has a new banana chocolate chip muffin that looked good so I totally copied them. I thawed out some fondue and drizzled it on top of the banana bread. I thought it added a little something.

All in all, I pleased with the recipe and am working on finding a temperature that won’t kill all my bananas (I wrapped the top of the bunch with saran wrap because Pinterest told me too…we’ll see how that works).

The Story of How I Kicked 2012’s A**

Well…we’re a solid 2 days into 2013 now. So far so good I’d say. And with a new year comes the inevitable blitzkrieg of resolutions (I mean seriously, have you read Facebook lately?). But this isn’t really one of those things. Last year I made a resolution to actively try more things/new experiences. And I thought now would be a good time to share with you how I totally crushed it.

I’m going to give you all a little breakdown of some of the things I tried this past year.

January: Joined the gym; started personal training; started a BLOG! (yup…my baby’s a year old!) Accepted a salary position at my job.

February: Took the Foreign Service Exam (sadly didn’t pass…sigh); actively participated in karaoke; Joined the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus; Went to the trampoline park!

The ladies and I hit up the trampoline park and spent an evening bouncing around.

The ladies and I hit up the trampoline park and spent an evening bouncing around.

March: Went to Chicago; signed up for online dating (yikes); went on the first date with my boyfriend.

The ladies and I at the Bean!

The ladies and I at the Bean!

the couple

April: Went to Gotye show; tried Paint Nite for the first time; went to a High School party with my bestie in our mid-20s.

 

Gotye show 1 of 2 this year. This time at the House of Blues.

Gotye show 1 of 2 this year. This time at the House of Blues. Look at how close we were!

First Paint Nite experience!

First Paint Nite experience!

May: Went to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s show; went to Feist show; tried a scorpion bowl; date night at Top of the Hub

Awesome Feist show at the House of Blues!

Awesome Feist show at the House of Blues!

Yup…there he is…standing right in front of me!

June: Visited Indiana and road tripped though Ohio for my friend E’s amazing wedding!! Was a date at a NJ wedding; participated in a Young Professionals Day of Service with the MA Women’s Political Caucus; saw Hello Dolly with my mom and sis!

the BEAUTIFUL couple!

the BEAUTIFUL couple!

Hello Dolly!

July: Watched my first UFC fight night; went kayaking; saw the Totem Cirque du’Soleil show; went to Rufus Wainwright and Ingrid Michaelson show!

IMG_0979

Kayaking like a champ

August: Went swimming in an indoor/outdoor salt water pool; had a lady boating adventure in New Hampshire

IMG_1106

The view of the lake from the boat

That time we played ladder ball and pretended to be Olympic commentators lol

That time we played ladder ball and pretended to be Olympic commentators lol

September: Went paddle boarding on the Cape; jumped off the boardwalk (so scary lol); white water rafting in Maine; Pentatonix show; had High Tea; went to Phantom Gourmet Food Phest; saw Gotye again at BofA Pavillion.

Going through the rapids!

Going through the rapids!

some singing action

some singing action

Mom, Z and the sis at Phantom Phest!

Mom, Z and the sis at Phantom Phest!

October: Pottery painting; went to a political rally and met Elizabeth Warren!; The Royal Concept Show; Halloween Scavenger Hunt in Salem; Haunted Corn Maze!

I painted the crap outta this tea pot!

I painted the crap outta this tea pot!

Oh you know...that time M and I met Elizabeth Warren

Oh you know…that time M and I met Elizabeth Warren

The time I the haunted corn maze scared me half to death

The time I the haunted corn maze scared me half to death

The Royal Concept and Frank + Derol were AMAZING

The Royal Concept and Frank + Derol were AMAZING

November: wine tasting and outdoor concert at Nashoba Valley Winery; saw the new version of The Nutcracker; took a gun shooting lesson; took a trip to Philly.

yummy wines on the grass at Nashoba Valley

yummy wines on the grass at Nashoba Valley

watch out...cause this girl can shoot.

watch out…cause this girl can shoot.

Philly Cheesesteaks in Philly!

Philly Cheesesteaks in Philly!

December: Attended a video game tournament; saw Seussical the Musical; saw The Slutcracker; hosted my first dinner party!

Local theater production of Seussical the Musical

Local theater production of Seussical the Musical

If you haven't seen this yet...go see it next year ;)

If you haven’t seen this yet…go see it next year 😉

Got to use my punch bowl at my ladies night party!

Got to use my punch bowl at my ladies night party!

Overall, I got to do some really fun things in 2012. I have loved keeping this blog and am so excited that more people are starting to read and follow it. I also did some awesome crafts and made some great treats but since they’re already on the blog I left those out.

I wanted to thank everyone who takes to the time to check out my ramblings and kitchen shenanigans; you helped make my year extra special!

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s and are planning some epic adventures for the year to come!