Flower Power

Here are some highlights from CJ's dohl.  Although we had many more guests at his party than Nathan's, it was much more lowkey in terms of preparation because we held it at a local park (CJ is a June baby so we took advantage of the nice weather).  We kept decorations very simple and had subs, gimbap (Korean california rolls), pasta and other simple picnic fare for lunch. 

{ sugar cookies made with lots of love }
The most work went into prepping the favors - homemade sugar cookies.  I thought these would make great centerpieces.  So I cut the cookies into flower shapes, stuck them on a lollipop stick, decorated each one, put them in a clear treat bag, tied a ribbon, and then placed a few in several pots (sticks were held secure by styrofoam).  Then guests took one home as a favor.

Decorating was easy.  All it required was some Betty Crocker cookie icing (in white and then you can add food coloring to make any color you want), candied sprinkles, and lots of love.

* * * * *

Here's the recipe I used (from AllRecipes.com):

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.
These were a hit. 

{ a very manly cake }
I also contemplated making the cake for CJ's birthday but decided it would be too much work in addition to the cookies.  So we ordered from a local bakery in Tenafly called Cafe Savoy.  We've had their cakes in the past, and they are delicious!  We flipped through their cake catalog and chose a large white cake with strawberries featuring a monkey.

We had no idea it would be pink!  [This is probably why I decided to make Nathan's cupcakes for his party.  :)]

But the birthday boy didn't care.  He was as happy as could be.

{ We had similar items out for CJ's dohljabi as we did Nathan's.  CJ chose the yarn (which represents long life) and then the stethoscope.  By the way, Nathan chose the stethoscope and then the Bible.  I'm not sure how I feel about both of them being in the medical field.   And the pic of CJ and daddy is my absolute favorite.  Melts my heart each time. }

Turkey Chili in a Slow Cooker

I've just recently discovered the convenience and beauty of the slow cooker.  We had gotten one as a gift for our wedding (that was five years ago) and had only used it once.  That was until September of this year, and now I use it at least once a week.

My favorite recipe thus far:  turkey chili.

{ turkey chili cooked in a slow cooker }
This is the best chili I've had (Hubby and neighbor both agree), and it's such an easy and economic meal!  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

(from Rival Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Recipe Cookbook)

{ ingredients from trader joe's. 
super affordable & good for you! }
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (about 4 ounces) chopped mild green chilies, optional
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder (I use taco mix powder)

{ sautee turkey & onions, and then throw everything
into the pot.  easy as that. }
1.  Cook turkey and onion in medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring to break up meat until turkey is no longer pink.  Drain, place turkey mixture into the Crock-Pot slow cooker.

2.  Add tomatoes with juice, beans, tomato sauce, chilies and chili powder; mix well.  Cover; cook on HIGH for 6 to 8 hours or until done.

[Makes 6 to 8 servings.  Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes.  Cook time: 6 to 8 hours.]

Complete the meal with sour cream, shredded cheese, and cornbread or nachos.  I also modify the recipe for the kids.  I don't include green chilies and will rinse the turkey chili before serving it to the boys because the chili powder does have a little kick to it.  The boys love and enjoy it!

The convenience with the slow cooker is that I can whip up the meal in the morning or while the boys are taking their mid-afternoon nap, and by early evening, dinner is ready!

Cupcakes Galore!

{ cupcakes for mother's day bake sale }
I discovered my love of baking cupcakes when I was pregnant with my firstborn.  I attribute it to the effects of "nesting".  I had never baked a thing in my life before - not even pre-battered cookies you just roll out on a sheet!

So my first cupcake project was initiated by a Mother's Day bake sale at church.  I figured I would give it a go and see how they turned out.  I researched endlessly online for recipes and decorating ideas.  The picture shows the end result.  Truth be told, I think they turned out more pleasing to the eye than the taste palette.  But over time and with practice, I'm hoping to make cupcakes that both look and taste great!

* * * * * *

{ nathan's birthday cupcakes }
For Nathan's 1-year birthday party, I baked white and chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  I was originally going to make a coconut cupcake but ended up improvising on a simpler recipe.  This is the recipe I used (which actually turned out quite nicely):


1 box white/chocolate cake mix (used Duncan Hines moist mix)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans (you’ll need approx. 36).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar and salt. Add remaining ingredients and beat with hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until well blended.

3. Use ice cream scoop to fill prepared cupcake tins- fill about 3/4 full. Bake about 18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yield: 36 cupcakes


1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
2 cups of powdered sugar (I only use about 1 go 1.5 cup)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of almond extract

1. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

2. Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness.

3. Either spread on with a blunt knife or spatula, or spoon into a piping bag to decorate your cake or cupcake.
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