Has Anyone Ever Been Excited to Eat a Salad?

I am fairly certain that no one has ever been excited to eat a salad. I know for sure that I never have. Well, let me specify. The only salad I’ve ever been excited to eat was the Waldorf salad that my grandpa made. Although, it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that it was called a Waldorf salad. We always called it apple salad. His was not a typical Waldorf salad. That salad taught me that marshmallows could and should be a salad ingredient.

But…..I have been trying to eat better. Grad school and other stresses have led to some (or a lot) of stress eating so I’ve been trying to eat more veggies and more salad. I have found a salad that I don’t mind eating. Fresh Express bag salads (specifically the chopped kits) are pretty good.  There are greens but also extra crunchy things and the included dressings are pretty good.

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But really…..the reason that I am trying to eat more salad? It’s so that I can eat more of the stuff that I want to eat. I tell myself that if I eat some veggies, then I can have some dessert.

Why do I eat salad?

So that I can eat a donut.

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Fairy Fudge – Tinkerbell Birthday

Most times, when I see recipes posted on Facebook or in my email, I’ll look at them for a few seconds and think “Hmm, I should try this one” and then I never look at it again. This was not the case when I saw the recipe for 4-Ingredient Funfetti Fudge. It helped that I was in the process of planning little girl’s birthday party. It also helped that it only took 4 ingredients and it looks super easy to do.

It came together super quickly and it really was delicious. It was a big hit at the party. Be aware: you only need a tiny piece of this fudge because it is really sweet. I originally cut it into what I thought were small pieces but then went back and cut them smaller.

I also added way more sprinkles than the recipe called for. When it says to top with extra spinkles “if you like” well, I apparently liked that a lot because I basically poured most of the remainder of the jar on top. I think that it looked festive and actually gave the fudge a little crunch.

Mmmmmmmm.....sprinkles.....

Mmmmmmmm…..sprinkles…..

Winnie-the-Pooh First Birthday

I can’t believe how quickly this year went by.  Baby girl is one year old! When beginning to plan her party, I decided to go with one of my favorite topics – Winnie-the-Pooh! I wanted to keep it simple while also making it super cute. But….yea….simple and easy to put together were the goals.

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This paper became a huge part of the party design. I found a template for pennants here. I cut out the pennant pieces and used a circle paper punch to cut out lots of circles.

Lots and lots of pennants

Lots and lots of pennants

I used the circles to make a little banner for the cake and as confetti on the table.

Cake banner

Cake banner

Finished cake banner. I attached the circles onto the ribbon with tape then used tape to attach the ribbon to sticks that are used for candy making.

Finished cake banner. I attached the circles onto the ribbon with tape then used tape to attach the ribbon to sticks that are used for candy making.

My mother-in-law noticed that the cake design was close to that of big girl’s birthday. I like that a lot of the design was the same but still different for each girl.

I hung pennants everywhere……until I ran out of pink ribbon.

On the fireplace....

On the fireplace….

On bookshelves....

On bookshelves….

After I ran out of pink ribbon, I had to improvise. (Hint – always buy too much ribbon.) I cut the top tab part off of the pennant pieces so that they were now just a triangle and taped them up as though they were a banner.

On the front door....

On the front door….

On the high chair....

On the high chair….

On the closet door....

On the closet door….

I didn’t want to go overboard with Winnie-the-Pooh so I picked accents of pink and yellow. There was also a lot of pink and yellow in the Pooh paper so it worked out well.

Pink and yellow napkins, utensils, and plates all from Target. The little yellow buckets were from the Target dollar section. Man....I love the Target dollar section.

Pink and yellow napkins, utensils, and plates all from Target. The little yellow buckets were from the Target dollar section. Man….I love the Target dollar section.

The sprinkles on the cake were also pink and yellow.

The sprinkles on the cake were also pink and yellow.

For the menu, we decided to have picnic-type foods. Sliders, brats, hot dogs. All sounds good, right? Except big girl won’t eat any of those things so I also made sure that we had the ingredients for PB&J sandwiches. I used a cute beehive cookie cutter to cut the bread. I’m guessing that the cookies would look better than the bread as the bread just looked like a weird triangle….or a letter A….

PB&J. Everyone's favorite.

PB&J. Everyone’s favorite.

After I settled on the Winnie-the-Pooh theme, I asked my mom to be on the lookout for Pooh bear stuff at yard sales or resale shops.  She found a cute vase/carafe that I added to the table decor. Unfortunately, the pic that I had of the vase refuses to be uploaded…..after four tries…..oh well.  Just know that it’s cute.

The food!

The food!

I think that the party turned out really cute. I did not spend nearly as many hours preparing this one as I did when big girl turned one but I wanted to be well-rested (or as well-rested as a mother of a 3 year-old and 1 year-old can be) for the party. Once I found the scrapbook paper I knew that the whole party would come together pretty easily.

Easy. Cute. Birthday party goals were definitely achieved.

 

A Taste of Home – Or – Things That I Miss

When you see this box, you can rest assured that it is full of yummy.

When you see this box, you can rest assured that it is full of yummy.

There are some things that I miss about living in the city: living just a quick walk away from restaurants and parks, lots of activities to do on the weekend. There are also lots of things that I don’t miss: parking, paying rent to help someone else pay their mortgage, the high cost of, well, everything. But there is one thing that I do truly miss – a great slice of raspberry marzipan torte. After a quick brunch date with a friend back in the old ‘hood, I needed a taste of nostalgia.

The cake did not last long.......

The cake did not last long…….

There are other “Chicago foods” that, of course, remind me of the city. But, I can get a darn good Chicago char dog lots of places and I live just a few blocks away from several locations where I can get an Italian beef. So, for me, the raspberry marzipan torte is my taste of Chicago. Luckily, we didn’t move that far away and a trip to the city for an adventure (or just a slice of cake) is not a big deal.

If you were to move away from home, what would be the one food that you would miss?

Chocolate and Bananas

Mmmmmm....cake.....

Mmmmmm….cake…..

Bananas are a hot commodity in our house. I almost always take one to work for my breakfast. Big girl likes to also have one for her breakfast. So, I tend to buy a large amount of bananas. If I only buy one bunch of bananas then we tend to be out of bananas by the mid-week. However, if I buy a lot, there are usually 4 or 5 that get way too ripe before we can eat them. So, I am always on the lookout for a recipe that will use up those overripe ones. If you follow this blog, you know that I’ve found a favorite banana bread recipe that is super easy to make. I recently found a recipe for a cake that uses bananas, chocolate, and applesauce. You can find it here.  The pictures made the cake look delicious (and we eat with our eyes first!) so I thought that I would give it a try.

Don’t assume that just because there are bananas and applesauce in this cake that it’s a, um, healthy cake. There are a lot of chocolate chips in this cake in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. But, I wasn’t looking for a healthy cake. In fact, I don’t think that one should eat “healthy” cakes. The point of eating a cake is that it is a treat and it should taste like a treat.

Yay! Cake!

Yay! Cake!

This is a much more banana-y cake than what I was expecting and it isn’t nearly as chocolate-y as I would’ve thought since it smelled so strongly of chocolate as it was baking.  But, it was a nice and super moist cake.  Will definitely be making this one again.

 

 

Easy Dessert – Macerated Strawberries

After I made the summer trifle, I had some leftovers to take care of.  I had a leftover angel food cake and many strawberries.  Now, in this house, we go through a lot of berries but strawberries tend to hang around too long….and then you’re stuck with a box of moldy strawberries.  Ick.  An easy way to solve this problem is by macerating the strawberries.  If you do an internet search, you are likely to find some very involved recipes for macerated strawberries using salt, pepper, wine, and who-knows-what-else.  I have found, however, that the only thing that you need sugar.

Step 1: Prep your strawberries.  You want them to be close to the same size.

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Step 2: Cover the strawberry slices with sugar.

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Step 3: Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple hours.  Overnight is even better.

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Step 4: The sugar and the juices from the strawberries combine to make a delicious sauce to drizzle over the angel food cake.  Yum!

Macerated strawberries + angel food cake = super easy dessert

Macerated strawberries + angel food cake = super easy dessert

Summer Trifle

Trifle is one of the best dishes that you can make for dessert because it can be whatever you want it to be.  You can change the flavors to match whatever you like.  Switch up the cake.  Change the pudding flavor.

For the 4th of July, I decided to make a summer trifle.  I made a super easy version.  You could, of course, bake a cake, make whipped cream, and make a homemade pudding.  But, that’s another reason why trifles are so great.  You can put in as much or as little effort as you want and you will still get a great produce.

Here’s how I made it:

 

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients.  I've got store bought angel food cake, vanilla pudding, orange juice, strawberry jam, and Cool Whip

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients. I’ve got store bought angel food cake, vanilla pudding, orange juice, strawberry jam, and Cool Whip

Step 2: Prepare your fruit.  I'm using strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Step 2: Prepare your fruit. I’m using strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Step 3: Cut the angel food cake in half and cover with strawberry jam.

Step 3: Cut the angel food cake in half and cover with strawberry jam. (This picture looks like a bagel with jam….but trust me….it’s really a cake.)

Step 4: Put the top piece back on the angel food cake and cut the cake into little pieces.  It's sort of like a yummy angel food cake sandwich.

Step 4: Put the top piece back on the angel food cake and cut the cake into little pieces. It’s sort of like a yummy angel food cake sandwich.

Step 5: Make a layer of angel food cake sandwiches in the bottom of your bowl and sprinkle some orange juice on top of each piece.  You don't want to soak the cake but the juice is important as it will soak into the cake and make it even more flavorful.

Step 5: Make a layer of angel food cake sandwiches in the bottom of your bowl and sprinkle some orange juice on top of each piece. You don’t want to drench the cake but the juice is important as it will soak into the cake and make it even more flavorful.

Step 6: Cover the first layer of cake with pudding.  This doesn't have to look pretty but you do want to cover each piece.

Step 6: Cover the first layer of cake with pudding. This doesn’t have to look pretty but you do want to cover each piece.

Step 7: Cover with Cool Whip.  Use a spoon to smooth the Cool Whip and ensure that it completely covers the layers.  Don't be stingy.  I used almost an entire tub of Cool Whip on this layer alone.

Step 7: Cover with Cool Whip. Use a spoon to smooth the Cool Whip and ensure that it completely covers the layers. Don’t be stingy. I used almost an entire tub of Cool Whip on this layer alone.

Step 8: Fruit!

Step 8: Fruit!

Step 9: Repeat with another layer of cake sandwiches, orange juice, pudding, Cool Whip, and fruit.

Step 9: Repeat with another layer of cake sandwiches, orange juice, pudding, Cool Whip, and fruit.

Step 10: Enjoy!

Step 10: Enjoy!

 

Although it isn’t really a necessity, trifle should really be made in a clear bowl so that you can see all of the beautiful layers.  I have a beautiful glass trifle bowl that I usually use but I didn’t want to worry about transporting it.  This particular trifle was made in a plastic bowl purchased for just a couple dollars.  Remember, you eat with your eyes before you actually taste the food.  It will still taste delicious if you don’t use a clear bowl….but it’ll be a showstopper if you can admire how it looks, too.  🙂