Friday, April 27, 2012

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake Recipe

So, I was in the mood for some SERIOUS chocolate cake. Good thing it was my birthday. :)

I wanted something rich--something dark.

Something big--2 layers just didn't seem like it'd cut it.

Something moist and yet kind of dense--I didn't want foo foo-light and fluffy.

Oh I'm getting so hungry just remembering it, because, yea, it's gone.

This cake was so big, I think we served it to like 40 people. And I'm not lying!!! Their slices were a little small, true, but we were all stuffed with pizza and the cake was everything I'd hoped it would be--RICH and intensely chocolate.

Conclusion? Yeah, this was THE chocolate cake recipe to end the search for chocolate cake recipes!
And because I like everyone to be happy, I'll share it with you. :)

Also, in case you couldn't tell, I couldn't decide what background to use for the photos!
What do you think?
Black for a rich, dramatic look?
Tan for a creamy, chocolatey look?
White for that crisp and clean look?

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
1 c. baking cocoa
1 c. boiling water
1 c . butter, softened
2 ½ c. sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. cake flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 c. (8 oz.) sour cream
2 c. semisweet chocolate
½ c. butter
1 c. (8 oz.)sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 ½ to 5 c. confectioners’ sugar

  1. Grease and flour three 9-in round baking pans. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Dissolve the cocoa in water; set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with cocoa mixture and sour cream.
  5. Pour into prepared baking pans; bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  7. For the frosting, melt the semisweet chocolate and butter together. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place in a mixing bowl; add sour cream and vanilla. Mix well. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake.
Click here to print recipe.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Party Planning from the Pro's

Hi Everyone! Today we have an article for you from Melissa at The Party Works.  Melissa is a guest post writer for their site and knows where to get the best deals on Super Mario Bros party supplies (among other useful information). :)

Take it away Melissa! :)

Crafts for your child’s next birthday party

Birthday parties only come around once a year for your little ones, so it’s important to make them fun and memorable. Many parents fall into the trap of planning for the main logistical roadblocks to a party while neglecting the basics. It’s important to figure out the location, food, and everything else but none of that matters if the kids don’t have a good time. One way to make sure your party is a success is to incorporate fun crafts into the day. Take a look below for three birthday craft ideas.

- For the girl’s party

Your daughter and her friends will enjoy all kinds of crafts, but this one’s especially for them. You’ll need headbands in assorted colors for everyone, various buttons and enough embroidery floss or colored thread to wrap around the headbands. You’ll also need a hot glue gun and scissors. Each girl gets a headband and the colored thread of her choice. You can get the process started by hot gluing the end of the thread to the back of the headband and they can take it from there. The thread can go through the buttons and still wrap around the headband to add accents. At the end each girl will have her own personalized headband to take home and remember the party by.

- For the boy’s party

The boys wouldn’t have much use for headbands, so you can have a special craft for your son’s party. This one involves crafting and competition, which is sure to get any young man excited. They’re going to create racecars and pit them against each other. You’ll need several paper towel tubes, enough for each boy to have one. You’ll also need other cardboard, straws, tape and scissors. The paper towel tube is the main part of the car, and the boys can use the rest of the cardboard to customize it as they wish. They’ll obviously need some wheels that use the straws as axels, but you can encourage them to add anything else they think will make the car faster. When everyone’s done, you can find a hill to race the cars down.

- - For any party

- You can be much more creative if you’re throwing a party without a gender-specific theme. One fun way to get all the kids involved is to have a scrapbooking party. This isn’t like a typical scrapbooking party, however. This time you’ll be having the kids document the party and scrapbook about it at the same time! For this one you’ll need to get notebooks, glue, and scrapbooking supplies for everyone. Get out your digital camera and have the other parents bring theirs if they’re willing. Then let the kids document the party and put together a little scrapbook about it before they leave. It doesn’t need to be a huge notebook, just a few pages will do. Planning the right crafts will make your birthday party a huge success. Have fun!

Thanks Melissa, we love throwing great parties around here, and we love your advice.

P.S. to our loyal readers--sorry we've been a bit MIA lately--we're BOTH going threw the process of finding new homes to move to and packing and all that wonderful stuff that comes when your husbands finally graduate from school. yipee! We'll be back REAL soon though with some pretty fun home makeover projects, so hang tight!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day Dinner: The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

How about a fun dinner to celebrate Earth Day? I love making this little forest for my kids!

This recipe is called The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and comes from a cookbook called, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. And yes, there are other recipes in the cookbook, but with a name like that.... :)

Mollie says she came up with this ingenious presentation of broccoli trees planted in herbed rice pilaf for two artist friends of hers that were coming to dinner. If you prepare the rice ahead, this recipe only takes ten minutes to prepare. I was a bit hesitant at first at the choice of herbs (mint and dill--I almost just scratched it and went with something more "traditional" like basil or something. Boy am I sooo glad I followed the recipe--I love the mint and dill).

2 cups brown rice
1 pound fresh broccoli
1 tablespoon butter or canola oil (plus a little extra for the pan)
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
3 tablespoons fresh mint (or 3 teaspoons dried)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1/4 pound Swiss or cheddar cheese, grated
a little extra butter for the top

Cook the 2 cups of rice according to package instructions. Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and set aside.

Trim the tough bottoms from the broccoli stalks and cut the tops into smallish spears of whatever size suits you. These will be your trees.

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and salt and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and the lemon juice and saute for about 2 minutes longer. Stir in the rice, some black pepper and cayenne to taste along with the optional ingredients. Taste to correct salt, if necessary, and spread in the prepared pan. Stir in the cheese and herbs.

Now the fun part. Arrange the broccoli upright in the rice, and, if desired, drizzle with melted butter. Cover loosely with foil and bake just until heated through (15 -20 minutes). Serve right away.

Have a happy Earth Day dinner!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Baby Girl's First Birthday

I can't believe my baby girl is one!
I wanted to make her party soft and sweet and simple,
so I went with shades of pink.
Just right for my little girl!

I knew I wanted the cake to have different layers of pink inside, but I thought it would be even better to have the flavor, not just the color change.
introducing the
Strawberries and Cream Cake
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
and yes, it was every bit as good as it sounds.

Here's my recipe...

1 french vanilla cake mix
1 strawberry cake mix
(I used Betty Crocker)
mix each of the cake mixes sepparately according to these directions, rather than the ones on the box.

1 cake mix
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup water
beat all ingredients on low for 30 seconds, and then on medium for 2 minutes.

grease and flour 8 or 9 inch round pans
bake one vanilla cake and one strawberry cake.
only use half the batter for each. 

bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes

spoon some of the vanilla batter in to the remaining strawberry batter,
and some of the strawberry into the vanilla. Making 2 different shade of pink
bake these cakes too.

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 bag white chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
1/2 pound powdered sugar

beat he cream cheese so its softened slightly. Add butter and cream together. Melt chocolate according to package directions. Add melted chocolate. Add powdered sugar gradually and cream together.

Make sure your cakes are 100% cool befor you start frosting them!
Start with the darkest pink cake on the bottom, frost the top and add the next darkest layer. Continue to the top. Frost the entire cake (top and sides) with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat). Add lots of thick swirly frosting. YUM!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Felt Hair Clips

We made some mighty cute hair clips for our girls the other day! 

Cute, easy and fun. Felt is so fun and easy to work with--we love the funky personality it can give hair accessories. It is also super easy to get colors that you need to match your girls' outfits.

To make these simple hair clips, simply start out with 5 circles of felt, all cut to the same size. To make the largest size shown above, we traced a drinking glass for the circles.

One of these five circles will be the base that everything is sewn onto.

For the remaining four circles, take them one-at-a-time and fold into fourths (fold in half one time, then fold in half again). You will come out with a pie-slice shape. Align the edges with the edge of the base circle and the center with the center of the base circle. Sew into place

Repeat this for the remaining circles and you should have something similar to the image below.

At this point, you simply cut out a smaller circle of a contrasting color and stitch it on. We wanted big stitches, so we used several pieces of thread to make it more noticeable.

Fun, cute hair clips for a little girl in your life. :)

Here's where we're linking up.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Craft: Hoppy Easter Eggs

Yesterday when my son and I were making our easter egg garland he really wanted me to tie a string to just one egg so he could make it 'hop around'.
I figured we could probably do better than a plain plastic egg on a string,
 so we made these cute little friends.

you'll need:
paper scraps
permanent marker
elastic thread
E600 glue

It's pretty self explanitory,
tie the tread through the top (if it's elastic it REALLY bouces!)
draw a face/eyes/smile
cut scraps for legs, arms, ears etc.
glue it all together. (it takes a little while to dry, but this glue seems to work best on the plastic.)


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easy Easter Garland

I don't know if you've noticed, but plastic easter eggs have conventient little holes in the top and bottom, which makes them perfect for stringing into a garland!
Just grab a needle and a long thread and get started.
So cute and soooo easy!

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Egg Ideas

It should come as no surprise to those of you who know me, that I really like trying new things with my easter eggs. :)

Here's a selection of some fun, easy-to-do egg dying ideas from last year that you don't need any fancy tools for--just a good ol' Paas Easter egg dye kit and basic household items.

Last year we tried using rubber bands, it is was quite fun. Easy enough to do too: just wrap a rubber band around the egg, plop it (gently of course) into the dye, pull it out when you are ready, let it dry and remove the rubber band. Voila! fun little lines around your egg.

Sometimes we also like to drip dye onto the egg. Just set it down and use a spoon to drip some drops of dye onto it, then don't disturb it while it dries.

This technique requires a little bit more patients, but it's my favorite one to do; I do it every year. I like to use the little wire egg-holder doo dab that comes with your egg dye kit. I take the egg in that holder and dip it into the dye about half way. And hold it there for as long as I can without getting too bored. Then, set it down and let it dry trying to not let any drips run. Once it is dry, then I take the egg in the egg holder again and dip a different half in a different color and so on and so on. Makes a great plaid-type look that I think is super fun. :)

What's your favorite way to dye Easter eggs?
Trying anything fun or new this year?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easter Kids Craft: Paper Easter Eggs

Looking for a fun Easter kid's craft? This sure was a fun one for us to do. We decorated paper easter eggs. :)

We got a little funky and tried some interesting, somewhat organic designs to some eggs...

...but also stuck with traditional stripes and dots.

I think this striped one below is my favorite actually. Kind of fun, funky and whimsical.

I will say we made quite the mess! For this craft I just sat down with glue, scissors, paper and my two kids (2 and 4 years old)--kind of a mistake. You wouldn't even begin to believe the mess of paper scraps and glue that was spread in a 20-foot radius around us!!

NEXT TIME I plan on spending a tiny bit more effort up front and cutting everything out BEFORE I let them come down from quiet time. :) That way we can all make eggs together and no one will have to try too hard to be patient. :)

It really was a fun little craft though and my kids are very proud of their contribution to the holiday decor. :)