April So Far

I have no idea where March went and April is moving along at that pace as well.  It is hard to believe this school year has already begun the wrap-up – I guess that is what happens when you spend most of the year in new baby fog.  That fog is apparent in my blogging as well – not much to share around here lately.  I bake, cook, make art, and sew when I can.  If I have to time to document it, I do.  The bigger problem is finding time to finish projects and then do something with the documentation of the finished product.  You get the picture.  Well, anyhow, here is an April work-in-progress update…

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I am still carving out art-making time for myself, staying true to my New Year’s Resolution.  Except I have been working on larger and more time-consuming projects, so I have fewer opportunities to share them.  Soon, soon though.

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I have been keeping myself busy with updating one of our bathrooms.  So far we have ripped out and replaced flooring, installed a new sink, and repainted the walls.  Home projects move at a much slower rate when there are two small children to interrupt progress, so the finished product may or may not be ready for presentation sometime later this summer.

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We of course made time to celebrate Eric’s birthday this month – a whole 10 years old!  (That was Greta’s guess on his age.)  I love love love the expressions in this photo.

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I finally got Eric on Pinterest so I can share project ideas with him more easily.  He has found a plethora of amusing pyro projects for himself, including this little brick rocket stove.  Google it and you will find plenty of plans.  It is small, cheap, and burns fuel incredibly efficiently.  We plan to cook some meals on it in the near future.

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My number 1 kitchen helper these days is the youngest member of the household.  My little guy is on the move – crawling, pulling up, monkey around things, and trying to walk on his own.  It won’t be long now until I am running after him.  And with that brief update, I am off to enjoy the remainder of this rainy Sunday afternoon.  I’ll be back soon to share more artwork and a killer nacho recipe.  Enjoy!

S’mores Cupcakes

I dreamed up these bad boys in celebration of Eric’s birthday celebration with our families.  I made them late Saturday evening after a day-long celebration of kids’ birthdays at a friend’s house and then later at Chuck E. Cheese.  This was Greta’s first time at Chuck E. Cheese and she was not at all disappointed.  I, on the other hand, was a little anxious as she crawled around in the tunnels far above my head on her own.  I kept having nervous thoughts about what would happen if she decided she was claustrophobic or panicked – how on earth would I get her down?  Luckily, a friend of hers from school had an older sister there who helped her down when she did decide that she was not going to take the tunnel slide down.  Anyways, we both survived and after she finally tumbled into bed, I stayed up making these delicious cupcakes.  It was late and I was tired, hence the cell phone images.
To make the graham cracker base, I crushed graham crackers in a large bowl with a spoon.  I then layered them in the base of the cupcake liners.  Next time I am going to create layers of graham crackers within the cupcakes for more of the graham flavor and add chocolate chips of pieces of chocolate for an even better s’mores experience.
I poured the batter on top of the crushed graham crackers.  Even adding a layer of grahams on top of the batter could be very tasty.

After the cupcakes were finished baking, I added the marshmallows on top and returned them to the oven to soften.

For the large cupcakes, I used 2 marshmallows.

Once the marshmallows are soft, simply flatten them with a spoon.

Once they are flat, allow to cool or place them under the broiler to brown them.

We celebrated Eric’s birthday Saturday with our two families with a nice lunch and then these tasty treats.  It was a cold and down-pouring kind of day, though the two previous days were warm enough to wear tank tops and enjoy time outdoors.  Today we awoke to a snowy landscape – not the first time Eric has had a snowy birthday!  Such is spring in Iowa.

S’mores Cupcakes – makes about 2 dozen standard cupcakes, cake recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare cupcake pan with parchment cup liners.  Add crushed graham crackers to the bottom of each cupcake liner.  In a medium bowl combine: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoons baking powder.

2. In a large mixing bowl or mixing stand beat: 3/4 cup butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Gradually add 2 cups sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3 to 4 minutes).  Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total).  Beat in 2 teaspoons of vanilla. 

3. Alternately add flour mixture and 1-1/2 cups milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.  Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more.  Drop batter into prepared cupcake liners.

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Place large marshmallows on the tops of each cupcake and return to oven for 1-2 more minutes or until marshmallows are soft enough to flatten with a spoon.  To brown the tops of marshmallows, place under broiler for 30 seconds.  Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes, remove from pan and allow to cool on wire racks.