Thursday, February 24, 2011

The JUMBO ball and a bonus picture

While we were shopping around for Christmas presents in December, we came across these huge inflatable balls. They are big enough for the kids to ride in. They looked like so much fun!  But we couldn't find one we liked at a price we liked. Then, thanks to a friend, I discovered they were at Costco for a great price! The boys have had a great time. The ball is definitely jumbo. We blew it up as soon as I got it home. We rolled the boys around the living room. But when it came time to move the ball outside, we had a dilema. It was too big to even go through our sliding glass door. Thankfully we have double front doors. So out the door, around the house, and over the fence it went. The boys are having a blast!

The only bad part it Reece is so small, he keeps getting "pooped" out the hole when we roll him around!

And here is your bonus picture! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Garlic Butter for your Steaks

This was another portion of our fancy eat at home Valentine's Dinner. We found a great deal on NY Strip Steaks, and I wanted to grill them. But I also wanted to add something to them. My first idea was some kind of gravy but we weren't having potatoes and I was also worried the gravy might over power or mask the flavor of the nice steaks we bought. A quick search on and I had a winner. Garlic butter. It seemed so simple. But the reviews were great and the pictures were even better. The original recipe called for sirloin steak. So how could it not be even better on a better cut of meat, right? RIGHT. It came out wonderfully. The garlic powder really thickened up the butter once you let it set as it says in the recipe. I probably had it on the stove, with the burner off, for a good 15-20 minutes before I put it on the steak. It was a great consistency so it stayed put on the steak instead of running off all over the plate. I will definitely use this again. This recipe makes more than enough for two nice sized steaks.


1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds beef top sirloin steaks
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat with garlic powder and minced garlic. Set aside.

Sprinkle both sides of each steak with salt and pepper.

Grill steaks 4 to 5 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. When done, transfer to warmed plates. Brush tops liberally with garlic butter, and allow to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Cupcakes

Love love love making dessert. Especially for special occasions. Tonight, instead of going out to dinner, I am making dinner at home. Artichokes for appetizer, grilled steak, bacon risotto (recipe In this blog post) roasted asparagus. And for dessert, my first thought was molten lava cake (also HERE). I've made it several times before and they always come out wonderfully but I was itching to try something new. Thanks to my friend Jodi, I found my dessert. Strawberry and Mascapone stuffed cupcakes. The original recipe is from Giada, but I wanted to make a few tweaks. Her recipe calls for just strawberries and mascapone, but I wanted to add a thicker texture and some tang so I also added cream cheese. Hers also had a glaze. How can you have a cupcake with no fluffy frosting? And what better frosting to go with strawberries than of course chocolate. The final result is completely divine. (I snuck a taste before dinner!)


1 box white cake mix 

1/2 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese, room temp

4 oz cream cheese, room temp

3/4 cup fresh strawberries strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup sugar

Make the cupcakes according to package instructions. 

In a food processor combine the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, strawberries, and sugar. Process the mixture until smooth. Transfer the strawberry mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip. Push the tip gently halfway to the bottom of a cupcake and squeeze in the strawberry mixture until the cupcake plumps. Continue with the remaining cupcakes.


1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup cocoa or three 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)

3-4 tablespoons milk

Cream shortening and butter. Add cocoa/chocolate, sugar, vanilla. Whipe until combined. Add milk and whip until very light and fluffy.

I think it's easiest to frost cupcake with a pastry bag. Much quicker and much cleaner.

For the garnishes

I melted some chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth and creamy.  Transfer to a piping bag with a small round tip and "write" several hearts fairly thick on wax paper.

For the strawberry, cut the top of and make several cuts from the tip (bottom) and stopping just short of the top so it is still connected. Fan out.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Cookies!

Today was Keegan's Valentine's party at school. My first thought was of course to just run to the store and buy a box of Wall-E Valentine's for him to pass out at school. But, after a little thought, and those of you that know me, know that I always have to go a little further. So my next idea was to make heart sugar cookies and frost them with glaze that hardens. Then I would have Keegan write his name on each cookie with edible ink markers. However, a quick trip to Michaels put a halt on that idea when I the price of the edible ink markers. I had also let it get kinda late in the day and wasn't sure the icing would harden enough to Keegan to sign them before he passed out in bed. So I settled on this idea. Heart sugar cookies with his class mates names on them.

Here is the recipes I used.

Sugar Cookie

(This recipe makes about 5 dozen. I halved it and had PLENTY to make 9 very large heart cookies and about a dozen smaller cookies)


1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt


In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.


(I doubled this recipe and had just enough ice the 9 large cookies and some swirls on about half of the smaller cookies)


1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
assorted food coloring


In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

I used white icing and outlined the heart, then wrote the name in white. Next I filled it in with the red icing. This took some time and was a little frustrating. Next time I will either do the red first then write the name (but I wanted everything to be the same level and the name not raised but set into the red) or I will make the red alot runnier so it oozes into the nooks and crannies more.

All the cookies decorated

Wrapped in red celophane, tied with red and white ribbon and a paper heart that says From: Keegan

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Random Musings

Seems we've been pretty busy lately. No big outings or adventures. It is nice to relax after the busy holidays and the ending of the high school football season. We only get a few short 4 months off before it starts up again.

The boys are keeping us busy. And also keeping themselves busy, even if it is playing with the camera they're not supposed to have.

We also started geocaching with my new Christmas present (a GPS) We have found one, went looking for two more but didn't find them. It's high tech treasure hunting!

Do you see the small little round silver cylinder? That's the treasure! This one just had a small log book hidden in a film canister.

We signed the book and returned it to it's "hiding place". I look forward to doing alot more of these. They're alot of fun! If you're interested, there is a website that keeps track of all the geocaching treasures. We live in a small town and we have over 150 here!