Saturday, April 26, 2014

A JAKES Family Easter

Happy Saturday! Are you getting super excited for more beautiful Spring days? I know I am! Here in our neck of the suburbs, we had the most amazing weather on Easter. It was truly beautiful and it allowed for tons of time to be outside playing with the kids, having the windows open, and just celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

Our Easter started two weeks early with a breakfast visit with the Easter Bunny. [E] wasn't exactly scared but she wasn't exactly happy either. I think it helped that she had Big Sis on his lap with her.

The day before Easter we had a surprise visit from the Easter Cutie who hid plastic eggs around the house for us to find.

That evening we dyed eggs for the Easter Bunny.

I found this great idea about using a whisk for [E] so she could dye eggs too. It worked out great!

Easter morning the tricky Easter Bunny hid our eggs outside this year! [E] found the plastic ones...

...and [K] found the real ones.

Starting several years ago my Mom would buy matching Easter dresses for [K] and her cousin [C]. Usually [A] and I would try to wear something that would compliment her outfit so family pictures would be pleasing to the eye.  Three years ago we all wore a shade of pink. This year I had very similar navy with white polka dot shirts for me, [K] and [E]. However, as soon as cousin [C] got here in her beautiful purple dress, [K] was determined to match her. Right down to borrowing a cross necklace from Nana to colorful socks with gym shoes.

Uncle Goofball gives great spinning rides.

[K] and Auntie Mame played catch and hide-and-seek for at least an hour. I'm not sure who had more fun ;)

[E] spent most of her time outside climbing through this tangle like a jungle cat.

But occasionally all three girls would play together.

I'm so excited about this picture of me and my love. He's such an amazing, sweet person. I love him so much. I hope you all had as wonderful of an Easter as we had!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Dinner Recipes

Hi! I hope you had a wonderful Easter filled with family, food, and candy!

We had such a fantastic Easter. It was a smaller group (only 17) and that meant it was a bit more relaxed and we could spend more time talking to everyone and less time in the kitchen. My Mom, as usual, had a ton of food in addition to all of the amazing dishes people brought with them. One of the highlights of any party is my aunt and uncles broccoli. I think they just steam it and add some adobo seasoning. Every time they make it the bowl is empty by the time everyone has gone through the buffet. This year I wanted to compliment their dish by offering another simple, yet flavorful, vegetable.

I originally saw this recipe on a friends Facebook page and thought it looked amazing. I made it exactly as stated and ended up having to throw most of it away. You see, I was home alone the day I made it and the original recipe uses Buffalo Wing sauce and ever since giving birth to our oldest daughter, I just can't handle spicy food anymore. However, luckily I tried the cauliflower BEFORE adding the sauce and it was so delicious I knew I'd be making it like that again. So, without further adieu, I present:

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites (without the Buffalo)
(from the website: Good Dinner Mom)

Serves 6

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper

    This is where I stop but if you want to make the Buffalo version, here are the additional ingredients.
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter (Use coconut oil for vegan option)
  • ⅔ cup Frank’s Buffalo Wing Style hot sauce or other hot wing sauce of choice
  1.  Preheat oven to 450F degrees.
  2. Place cauliflower florets into plastic bag. Drizzle olive oil over florets to barely coat.
  3. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper. Close bag and toss ingredients around so all florets are coated.
    (*Side note: I've used garlic salt instead of powder and then omitted the ¼ teaspoon salt and it's worked out just fine.)
  4. Place on ungreased cookie sheet or baking pan and bake on middle rack for 15 minutes, turning florets once during baking. Check them at the 10 minute mark for desired tenderness. You don’t want them to be soggy!

    Again, this is where I stop and they are SO delicious but here is the Buffalo version as well.
  5. Remove florets from oven. Melt butter in medium glass bowl. Add hot sauce to butter. Toss cauliflower and stir to cover all florets with hot sauce.
  6. Return to oven and cook for additional 5 minutes.
 I was so excited to hear people complimenting my cauliflower and even more excited to tell them just how easy it is to make it. I made a double batch for Easter and there was very little left.

The second dish I made was so incredible, there was none left and my uncle even had two pieces. He can be a very honest critic and he was "mmm'ing" like nobody's business. That had to be the most rewarding compliment!

I originally saw this recipe in People magazine (I know, weird spot to find a cake recipe) and thought it looked delicious so I decided to make it for Easter. Then, randomly, I saw an ad for it on some web page I was surfing and looked at it online. The great thing about finding a recipe online is that often times there are reviews / comments and occasionally the comments contain ways to improve upon the original recipe. This was one of those times. (I followed the advice of 'Pupsmom09' on page 3.)

Classic Angel Flake Coconut Cake
(from the website: Kraft Recipes)

Serves 18

  • 1 pkg. yellow cake mix (I'm sure you can substitute a homemade yellow cake if you would rather not use a mix.)
  • 3 eggs (for cake mix)
  • 7-oz. pkg. flaked coconut, divided
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used the Trader Joe's Light canned stuff)
  • milk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 3.4 oz. pkg. JELL-O Coconut Cream Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 3.4 oz. pkg. JELL-O White Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. tub COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 2 (9-inch) round layers, substituting 2/3 of the water in the cake mix with coconut milk, adding 2/3 cup flaked coconut, 1/4 cup milk, and dry coconut pudding mix into batter before pouring into prepared pans.
  3. While still hot, poke small holes in your layers and baste them with coconut milk.
  4. Cool cakes in pans 10 min. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, beat dry white chocolate pudding mix, powdered sugar, 2/3 cup coconut milk, and 1/3 cup milk in large bowl with whisk 2 min. (Pudding will be thick.) Stir in COOL WHIP. Refrigerate until ready to assemble cake.
  6. Stack cake layers on plate, filling with 1 cup of the pudding mixture and 3/4 cup of the flaked coconut. Frost top and side of cake with remaining pudding mixture. Press remaining flaked coconut into pudding mixture. Refrigerate 1 hour.
 I was lucky enough to have made this cake not only for everyone to enjoy at Easter, but also as a birthday cake for my amazing God-niece who turned 7 (how did that happen so fast?!?) and my uncle, who's birthday is on the 27th.
(Isn't it cool how the Batgirl symbol glows from the candle light?)
I hope you have the chance to try out these recipes and if you do, please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Card Games

Hello Friends and Family!

I hope you all are having a great week and looking forward to a weekend filled with candy, eggs, and bunnies :)

Many moons ago we tried doing something I like to call, Friday Family Fun Night, where we would pick an activity and all do it together as a family. Camping was involved (twice), park outings, movies, and occasionally board and/or card games.

Go Fish has always been a family favorite because it can be played with young kids. We also have Memory although that one rarely gets played. For board games we have Chutes and Ladders, Candyland and Hungry Hungry Hippos. [K] also really enjoys playing a modified version of Ticket To Ride.

While we haven't been so good about keeping up the Friday Family Fun Nights, [A] and I still like the idea of having a family game night so in order to make that more enticing to the kiddos, I decided to design my own cards based on [K]s latest obsession, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.

I found this company online called, Make Playing Cards, that allows you to upload your own images, front and back. You can also just do the backs and have the fronts be standard playing cards (cool idea for a wedding or something) but I wanted mine to be completely customized.

I made matching pairs of 25 different ponies with one odd pony out (Granny Smith) and one instructions card for the four different games you can play with this one deck. The company offers several different card stocks to print your cards on as well as different boxes to store them in. Since this is for kids and I want them to last as long as possible, I chose their plastic cards and box options.

It was really fun scouring the internet for just the right image of each pony as well as coming up with Pony-fied names of each of the games you can play with this deck. I was able to come up with four different games that I thought would be easy enough for a five year old to play as well as not require numbers or suits since my cards don't have either. The games I came up with are: Go Gallop (Go Fish), Old Mare (Old Maid - that's where Granny Smith comes in), Colt Slap (Slap Jack), and Pony Match (Memory). So far we've played all of the games except Pony Match and [A] even came up with another game we can play with them called Boy Pony (which is based off a game called Skull and Roses).

And when I asked the recipient of the cards what she thinks of them she said, "It's really great!" so I guess she likes them :) (In fact, she tells me she LOVES them.) So hopefully that's incentive enough for us all to play more games together as a family.