A is for Apple, Autumn and Art

A is also for absent and apologize.  Which I have been and I do, respectively.  Life has been consumed with overlapping football and baseball practices/games for both boys, Wildman’s required daily reading assignments, play dates, parties, J’s travel schedule, trips, arts and crafts and many other things that eat away at my blogging time.  But I’m here tonight to give you a little glimpse of my recent projects.

Cutie Pie’s class is talking about apples this week which triggered a memory of an apple snack that I had seen in a magazine not too long ago.  I cannot remember the magazine though.  I just finished putting the finishing touches on the little red chocolate-dipped Oreo apples for snack tomorrow.  There are 18 extra for Wildman’s class because, as my great grandmother told me, “what you do for one, you have to do for the other.”  So true, Grandma.  So true!

With it being mid-September and all, I’m finding myself in the mood for autumn.  But, because I live in Florida, we don’t really get much of a fall season.  I have to create my own with glittery silk leaves, a pumpkin candle and a cinnamon broom.  The temperature has dipped down to a refreshing 85 degrees lately so I feel justified in feeling fall-ish.



Cheek 🙂

Cutie Pie and I attempted to make our own autumn tree using pom poms in fall colors.  I saw the idea here.  The ones in the magazine came out adorably spherical.  Ours looked more adorably Seussical if you ask me.  Ha!  Our little tree has a place of honor in my kitchen window.  It makes me happy 🙂

I’ve been trying my hand at melted crayon art lately too.  I’m sure you’ve seen this craft all over the Internet.  It’s super easy to do and looks incredible.

So far, I’ve made one for Cutie Pie’s classroom and Wildman’s bedroom.  I’m thinking of giving one to Wildman’s teacher as well.  These art pieces make me smile every time I look at them.

B and I are doing our local craft fair again this November.  And, as a result, I’ve been scouring the Internet for inspiration.  I came across these adorable hand sanitizer packages here and could not resist making a few.

As you can see, I’ve been keeping myself busy with project after project.  A 12-day absence from the blog is a little bit inexcusable though.  I’ll try to be less of a stranger this week!


Guinness Cake

Now, I know there are some out there who don’t care for the taste of a Guinness but I think you need to give this recipe a chance.  It is fantastic!  I baked one for our family.  Then I baked a second one for Big Red’s dad who loves to bake with alcohol 🙂  I heard he devoured half of it by himself…

I’ve reprinted the recipe here:

Chocolate Guinness Cake

From Feast by Nigella Lawson (reprinted in the New York Times on 12/8/04)
Yield: One 9-inch cake (12 servings)

For the cake:

Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar (I have used regular granulated sugar with no ill effects)
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.

For the topping: Using a food processor or by hand, mix confectioners’ sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.

This is the link to where I found the recipe.

Feast on This

I hosted a wine tasting party for some of my preschool mom friends last night.  It was a follow-up from our night out at the piano bar in February that I apparently never blogged about.  The volunteers who help out at Cutie Pie’s preschool are amazing and it is so nice to chat with them in a relaxed kid-free setting.  J took our kids over to his parents house for the night.  The weather was so lovely that I was able to open up the sliding glass doors for us to enjoy the evening poolside.  Everyone brought a bottle (or two) to share and I provided the munchies and dessert.

My friends became my guinea pigs for my first ever attempt at cake pops.  Oh, dear!  They were so yummy!

I decided to make strawberry cake pops so I baked a box strawberry cake mix in two round cake pans since my 9×13 was being used for something else.  When the cake cooled I crumbled it into a big mixing bowl.  I added about 3/4 of a can of strawberry icing and stirred it up.  When the cake and icing formed a dough-like consistency, I used a small cookie scoop to measure out enough dough to form into a ball.  I placed the balls on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and placed them in the freezer to cool for an hour.  When they were sufficiently cool, I melted a bag of pink Wilton melting chocolate in a double boiler (my version is a glass bowl on a pan of water).  I dipped a lollipop stick into the melted chocolate first then pierced a cake ball then coated the cake ball in the chocolate.  I decorated some with spring sprinkles, others I left plain.  I stuck the pops into a piece of Styrofoam to display at the party.

The cake pops were a hit!  Many moms took a couple home to share.  I’m totally making them for Wildman’s bake sale next month.

I made a bunch of chocolate-covered strawberries as well.

I tried to keep most of the appetizers pretty healthy.  There were cups of cashews and almonds, fruit skewers, pineapple salsa, crackers, several kinds of cheese, olives, marinara meatballs and edamame.  We had all sorts of different wines to sample- cabernets, merlots, a sauvignon blanc, a chianti and even champagne.  Conversation was lively and flowed easily.  It was a relaxing evening.

Just what we needed!

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