Foodie Friday: Wilton Basic Cake Decorating (Class Three)

22 Jul

Mom and I had our third class last night and we decorated cupcakes. We were supposed to make two more batches of the icing, but I didn’t do it since I had so much leftover icing from last week (and this stuff lasts for what seems like forever!). So I have the same color scheme going on, but that was fine by me.

We learned a few new flowers tonight. A couple of them were quite ugly no matter how well you made them, which was some comfort, I suppose, because mine looked very little like they were supposed to! And I’m struggling with the leaves — I’ll just admit that up front. After learning these, we were given time to free-style on some cupcakes. Here’s how mine turned out.

Wilton third class cupcakes

Ok, so maybe I need to practice a bit more! 🙂

Mom went above and beyond today and baked extra cupcakes and decorated them before class. Here’s both her class and pre-class cupcakes. They had a lemon filling and were very yummy!

Mom's cupcakes

Mom's cupcakes from class

Mom's cupcakes

Mom's pre-class cupcakes

I filled my cupcakes with an orange cream. It’s actually a dip for fruit that I made yesterday for a fruit platter… today I added some cream cheese to it and blended it smooth to fill the cupcakes. My mom originally made this for my baby shower and it was a huge hit. But I really didn’t get to eat it because my morning all-day sickness was still in full-force. This was the first time I made it and it was worth the wait.

Orange Sour Cream Fruit Dip

  • 6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 (3 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Combine orange juice, milk, and pudding in a mixing bowl and blend until smooth. Stir in the sour cream and chill for at least 2 hours. Note: the dip gets sweeter the longer it sets. Enjoy!

If you give a boy a dollar…

20 Jul

As I may have mentioned before, I love going to yard sales. I’m not sure what it is… the hunt, the thrill of finding a bargain, the voyeurism of going through other people’s stuff…

I hadn’t been to any for a while and decided to hit one this weekend. As I gathered a few stray dollars I had around the house, z-baby patted his chest and asked, “Bebé monini?” (monini = z-baby’s word for money. I think it’s a mash up of “moneda” and “money.”). So I gave him a dollar and told him he could spend it one whatever he wanted. He was looking for a pocket to put it in but didn’t have one. He was wearing his caballo botas (as he calls his cowboy boots), so I told him to just put it down one of them.

I didn’t find much at the yard sale, but z-baby got the deal of the day. Mixed up with some other stuff were two little figurines, and he started yelling, “¡Caballo! ¡Caballo!” (horse) as soon as he spotted them. When I got a closer look, I realized they were alebrijes, a Mexican wood sculpture usually of animals (both real and fantasy). They weren’t exactly horses, but who was I to argue? There was another larger, signed alebrije, as well, but it was missing a few pieces.

So I had z-baby take the pieces to the woman running the yard sale. He handed them to her and I asked what she wanted for them. In a grandmotherly southern drawl she replied, “For this cutie? I reckon a quarter each.” I told z-baby that if he wanted them he would have to pay her with his monini. He set the alebrijes down quickly and fished his dollar out of his boot and handed it to her. I swear it’s close to the top of the list of the cutest things he’s ever done and it was really hard not to laugh. The woman, however, about fell out of her chair laughing and it only got worse when she gave him his change of two quarters and he promptly stuck them back down his boots. Priceless.

Alebrijes

Z-baby's yard sale find: alebrijes

The next day we went to the flea market, because they run a close second to yard sales and because I’ve found several Mexican produce vendors who sell things I can’t otherwise find around here easily. Not to mention their produce is better. I talked my mom into going with us and she gave z-baby a dollar as we were getting out of the car. He wanted her to carry it since he wasn’t wearing his boots.

We walked around and around and looked at all kinds of junk, including toys, and never heard a peep out of z-baby. Then, as we were rolling past the first produce stand, he started making all kinds of a big commotion, asking for his monini. My mom gave it to him and we both stood there watching to see what he wanted and he went up and gave it to the produce vendor. I asked him what he wanted and he said, “ananana, plat-no.” Bananas. The boy wanted a banana. And that’s just what he got. 🙂

Little surprises

19 Jul

Sometimes… actually most times… it’s the little things that put a smile on my face and make my heart soar.

Sig-o had to go away on an overnight trip this weekend, and I asked him to bring back a few things I can’t get around here. That in itself made me happy.

But he surprised me with one my favorite treats: litchis! It was so totally unexpected. Small but made me melt.

Litches

Not the prettiest I've seen, but sooooooo good!

Ahhhh, litchis! Or lychees. Or whatever. I love them. A lot. When we lived in Mexico, in my husband’s childhood home, we had a big litchi tree growing in the side garden. And I didn’t even know it. The avocado tree? Heaven. The banana tree? Worth the wait. That tree in the side garden? I’d never given it a second thought.

Then one day we were driving through town and I saw a guy selling litchis on the side of the road. I squealed in excitement but sig-o just rolled on by. “Al rato,” he told me, later. Later that day he came through the house carrying a bucket and yelling for me. He told me to follow him and took me to the side garden. And there it was in all its glory. The tree, ripe fruit filled its branches, just waiting. Waiting for me.

You’d think I’d won the lottery. We picked buckets full and I think that’s all I ate for days on end. I planted myself under a ceiling fan and ate… and ate. My fingertips hurt from peeling so many of them, but it was glorious. That is, until I got an inexplicable rash all over the outsides of my lips. It looked horrible and itched like crazy and hurt in the sweltering, summer heat. I finally had to go see a doctor but they couldn’t explain it and nothing they gave me helped. It eventually went away on its own, but my gorging on litchis had come to and end. The doctor seemed to think I’d probably had too much of a good thing. I was convinced it was poison ivy or something like it from when we were picking the litchis… but it didn’t matter. They were gone.

Fast forward a few years. We were living in the US again and I bought up a bunch of mangos at the farmers market. Soon after eating them, I got that same miserable rash on my face, only worse this time. A visit to the doctor again and some nosing around and I learned just how allergic some people can be to mangoes (the sap/oil in the peel and bark on the trees). And apparently I’m one of them. Because I tried it a few more times and it got worse each time. The last time I had a bite of mango was six years ago (six sad years). I really wanted some mango and asked sig-o to peel and cut it for me. He made the nicest fruit salad… and within minutes I could feel it starting. But this time it was in my throat, too, and my co-workers had to take me to the pharmacy to grab some Benedryl.

Only later did I put it together. Mangoes and litchis come into season around the same time in sig-o’s hometown. And prior to discovering the tree of all things good, I had been munching on mangos. Not the big mangos you usually see (petacon) or even the yummy ataulfo, but little bitty, yellow mangos that you pop in your mouth, peel and all. Delightful. And a nightmare for anyone allergic to them!

So now, I don’t buy mangoes. I don’t eat mangoes. I can’t even touch mangoes. I dare say I’m afraid of mangoes.

But litchis? Bring ’em on, baby! And that’s why sig-o’s little surprise meant so much. Despite my love for them, I somehow forget about litchis. Maybe because they’re in season so briefly and not easy to find. But sig-o? He thinks of me and that summer each and every time he sees them and buys them for me without fail. How could that not make a girl’s heart soar?

Happy Monday

18 Jul

Happy Monday! This Monday seemed to slip up on me… but still plenty to be happy about!

  1. Cleaning my house. That’s not something that usually makes my list, but it’s so nice when you’re finished, isn’t it?
  2. Dancing with z-baby and sig-o before and after dinner.
  3. Sig-o making it back from a weekend trip safe and sound.
  4. Getting a surprise souvenir from sig-o’s trip.
  5. When my poor dog finally goes out to the bathroom after refusing for 36 hours due to non-stop rain. Poor thing.
  6. Z-baby wrapping his trucks and choo-choos up in a blanket and bouncing them until they go night-night.
  7. Fresh, in-season fruit. I’m in love right now.
  8. Long afternoon naps with z-baby.
What are you happy about today?

Foodie Friday: Wilton Basic Cake Decorating (Class Two)

15 Jul

My mom and I have wanted to take a class together for some time now, and we  both love being in the kitchen. So when we saw a cake decorating class was about to begin, we jumped at the chance.

I love to bake. But I could certainly use some help in the decorating department. Remember z-baby’s Choo Choo Birthday Cake? I loved this cake, but um… yeah.

So we enrolled and started our Wilton Basic Cake Decorating class last week. In the first class we decorated sugar cookies. But we were so rushed we only got through two of them and then sig-o attacked them when I got home so I never got a chance to take pictures.

This week, however, we decorated our first cake. We had to bake the cake and make the icing ahead of time. I was having one of those days in the kitchen, which was a rough start. I had already decided to just use a box cake to keep things simple, but I used a different pan than I normally do and it turned out awful. Lopsided and flat. Ugh. Quick trip to the store and rebaked another cake that turned out great. Geez! Then I added 8 tablespoons of water instead of teaspoons to the icing. Oops. Luckily I was able to just pour it off the vegetable shortening and start over. Which leads me to the Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe (I used water instead of milk, as suggested by our instructor). I know its a decorating icing, but yuck! I’m making it for the class and then I’ll be experimenting with other icings that will work as well but that actually taste good.

But back to the decorating.

Z-baby saw a cupcake cake in my course guide and went crazy over it. So I made the cupcake cake and my mom made the fish cake. I was most excited about learning how to make the icing on the cake as crazy smooth as it looks in the Wilton book. Yeah right. And then I thought the class ended at 8pm instead of 8:30pm, so I decorated my cake in 10 minutes flat. I was piping like a crazy woman. So I then spent the last half hour adding dots to it… which is why there are soooo many.

This is what the cake was supposed to look like.

Wilton Cupcake Cake

See what I mean? Crazy smooth!

And this is what my cake actually looked like.

My Cupcake Cake

The 10-minute Cupcake Cake

This is my mom’s cake. I thought it turned out really cute. Notice her restraint with the dots. 🙂

Mom's Fish Cake

Mom's Fish Cake

It’s a start and I learned some things and we had a lot of fun. Next time we decorate cupcakes, which I already baked yesterday and stuck in the freezer for next week. And then I have to design something fun for my final cake. Hmmmm…

Spoiled… but worth it

14 Jul

Z-baby and I recently spent a month visiting family, so I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you.

First we spent a week in Atlanta with my suegra. We kicked off the week with sig-o’s interview for US citizenship and then celebrated with friends and family that night. Sig-o had to hurry back home to work, so z-baby and I spent the rest of the week just hanging out with la abuela y los tios.

We rode to the top of Stone Mountain.

Stone Mountain abuela

On top of Stone Mountain with la abuela

And played on the playground.

Stone Mountain playground

Lots of climbing to be done

We visited a local game ranch. This was a huge hit with z-baby because you can feed and touch many of the animals.

Game ranch squirrel

Feeding a squirrel with la tía

Game ranch deer

He loved the deer

Game ranch rabbit

Force feeding a rabbit graham crackers

And then we flew to Texas where we spent three weeks. Z-baby has flown many times already, but this was his first flight in his own seat. I decided to get a CARES Harness instead of lugging his giant car seat on board and boy did I fall in love with this thing! It was a snap to install, was easy to carry in my backpack, and he was happy in it — amazing!

CARES Harness

Z-baby in CARES harness (sorry for poor pic!)

The big event in Texas was my brothers’ high school graduation. I was so proud of them! And proud of z-baby for making it through the late-evening ceremony. He did yell out his uncles’ names when he saw them, and whenever someone would blow an air horn he would yell, “Big truck!” But otherwise he did great.

Graduation

Keeping a close eye on things...

We hung out in the Brazos River one Sunday at Hillbilly Haven (I’m not kidding). Just sat in the river in camping chairs with a floating cooler. Pretty low key and relaxing… until the air boat showed up (I’m not kidding).

Hillbilly Haven

Told ya I wasn't kidding! Ahhh... a real hillbilly haven... (I say this with love, by the way -- I was raised a hillbilly in Eastern Kentucky 🙂 )

Z-baby’s tía spoils him rotten and got him some cowboy boots, which he calls both “choo choo boots” (because he wore them when we rode a train), and “caballo botas” (horse boots, because he wore them around the horses, too).

Filling the horses' water in caballo botas

And then we went camping at the Kerrville Folk Festival. So much fun! We camped on the Medina River so we always had a great spot to swim and bathe. Until the place’s owner let their dogs loose and we couldn’t do anything without causing a big ruckus. Hmmm… sounds a little like Hillbilly Haven.

Z-baby in a hammock burrito

A quick bath for z-baby

We spent a lot of time hanging out with the tios. He calls them Tío Fuchi and El Otro Tío Fuchi.

Playing with El Otro Tío Fuchi. Notice the matching outfits. Not a coincidence. He's Texas A&M bound and proud.

Z-baby and Tio Fuchi. He's headed to Texas Tech (on an academic full ride, no less!), and z-baby's sporting that gear, too!

And we can’t leave out la tía. Did I mention she spoils him R-O-T-T-E-N? As in, cowboy boots, train rides, first donuts, first Oreos, feeds him Cheerios with chopsticks…

Here comes trouble...

And last, but not least, Grandpa. Or “Pawgaw” as z-baby says. Z-baby and Pawgaw stayed busy together: they made pizza, jumped on the trampoline, fed the horses, rode the pick-up around the pasture, researched Big Big Loaders on ebay, and watched tractors go by as they ate breakfast together. Pawgaw even got off the interstate one day just to get closer to a school bus he saw going down a feeder road so that z-baby could get a closer look. Yeah, we’re still paying for all that spoilin’!

Jumping with Paw Gaw

Happy Monday

11 Jul

A very happy Monday to all! Many things to be happy about today!

  1. I’m back! I had planned to blog during our trip but we stayed much, much busier than I had anticipated. And we had SO much fun!
  2. Mexico won the sub-17 World Cup! (Good thing sig-o doesn’t read my blog or I’d be regañada for not putting this as #1!)
  3. Air conditioning.
  4. We are in the midst of potty training and so far so good. And that makes momma happy!
  5. When z-baby says “no.” It’s his new thing. Kind of annoying, but he says it so many different ways that it’s hard to be annoyed.
  6. When z-baby yells “Aaargh!” then cracks up laughing and says, “[s]care mommy?”
  7. Taking cake decorating classes with my mom.
  8. I have many things to share, so I’ll be back soon and often. Until then!