Friday, September 28, 2012

Foodie Friday: Caramel Apple Cheesecake

I always thought cheesecakes were hard to make. Turns out that is just a rumor so that those who make cheesecake look good. :o) That being said, there are two things that you can do wrong when making a cheesecake. #1) Not baking it long enough or not getting it to set. #2) Baking it too long and burning it.
When I set out to make this cheesecake, I found another thing that can go wrong. When you improvise the recipe a bit too much. In this case, I think that is what made the cheesecake not set. That and the fact that you cover it in caramel sauce and nuts so you can't really tell if it is done or not.
Never the less, this was a delicious dessert. Maybe not quite the usual consistency of a cheesecake, but you can't really go wrong when you combine cream cheese, apples, caramel, and pecans.
I got the idea for the recipe from the Taste of Home website. I tried to substitute apple pie filling for the apples and I think that was where I went wrong. However, one thing I did that went well was to use ice cream caramel topping rather than making my own. (I really hate peeling the wrappers off the caramel candies. Pain.In.The. Butt. Squeezing caramel out of a bottle, much easier!)
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any cravings that this post may create. Don't come crying to me when you really want a caramel apple cheesecake at 8 in the morning. Okay?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Whooo Are You Looking At?

The owl goodness has spilled over from Cream's birthday! I just can't stop creating these big eyed cuties. I made some more big ones for the a craft booth  I had this weekend. I decided to try my hand at adding some gentlemen to the ranks.
I am really liking how they turned out with their spiffy little bow ties and cute coordinating fabrics.
I have some left over, if you are interested. You can find out more about them, including their names on my Etsy site, kiki b. omi designs.
Stay tuned, I don't think this will be the last you will be seeing of these wise guys.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The H.O.H. Project: Organizing Part 1: the Kitchen

You can read more of my Making Our House Our Home Series here:
Introduction: Love Your Home
Part One: Making a Plan
Part Two: De-Cluttering Part 1
Part Three: De-Cluttering Part 2 (Digital)
In the next few House Our Home posts I am going to share organization ideas with each post focusing in a different area of the house. Some of these are ideas that we use to organize our home and some are good ideas that I found online and wanted to share. I would love, love, love for you to share any ideas that you have!
1) This is a small cupboard next to the microwave in our kitchen. Since it is so narrow it makes it hard to keep bigger items in, but is perfect for spices and other small kitchen necessities. The bottom shelf has a tiered storage system like this one:
The next shelf up has a basket that I purchased from Target to hold small miscellaneous items. Like my immersion blender and its parts, my bench scrapper, and my pastry blender. The basket keeps it all contained and allows me to pull it out when I need it.
Since the top shelf is hard to reach, I keep large spice bottles and other items I don't need regularly.
2) We have a large lazy susan in the corner of our counter. I love it as it can hold lots and lots. However, lazy susans can easily become disorganized and a mess. (Believe me, I know.) A few years ago I purchased these great handled baskets at Wal-Mart. The fit perfectly in our lazy susan tray. I keep like items in each of the baskets. One is for our K-cups, one for baking items, one for grain items, and one for things like nuts and chocolate chips. Not only do they serve the purpose of holding items, they also work as dividers for the tray. I try to keep each section in between with other like items.

3) After moving into our home, I quickly realized that it didn't have the cupboard space that I thought it did. So, we had to figure out ways to store our kitchen items outside of the cupboards. I found these large glass jars with lids at Wal-Mart and Target to keep my flours and sugars in. I have been meaning to label them since I got them, but haven't yet. There are some great ideas out there. I received the hinged glass jar as a gift and decided to use it to keep my cupcake liners in.

4) These two additions were made also due to lack of cupboard space. We bought an inexpensive shelf to keep our small appliances in. It isn't the most asthetic item in our house, but it does its job.
The sippy and bottle rack is also a Wal-Mart purchase. The fact that the unit is made out of bamboo makes me feel a little better about having it out on the counter.

Here are some great kitchen organization ideas that I would like to use some day.
1) I love this idea. I currently keep these items in a drawer. If I had this I would be able to free that drawer up!
2) I love how organized this pantry is. The baskets and various shelf heights are awesome.
3) This is a great post all about organizing the little things like spices and decorating items in the kitchen. Would love to have a house this organized some day!

How about you? How do you orgnaize in your kitchen?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This and That

Hi there! Just a quick update here. Both of the girls have colds right now. Just stuffy, runny noses and the coughs that go with them. Peachy is happy to veg out and Cream wants to be on me all the time. I have to admit I don't always have the patience for a clingy baby. I guess I should adjust my attitude and be grateful that she wants me and not plan on doing much.

I am working on the next step to the House Our Home Project. This step is organization and let me tell you, our house desperately needs it at this point. Yikes!

I did another craft sale this weekend so, last week the sewing machine and I got in lots of quality time. I meant to catch up yesterday, but it ended up being a glorious day outside. I just couldn't see spending one of the last nice days of the year working on cleaning. (I can come up with many excuses to avoid cleaning.)
The girls and I walked to a park after lunch before naps. We were way over-dressed and sweating on our walk home. Then after naps we ran some errands and snuck in a treat as well. There is a great outdoor Dairy Queen in our town and it closes over the winter. I figured we should probably go for one more outdoor treat before it isn't an option.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Want Some?

I let Cream spoon feed herself this morning.
 I have let her on a few other occasions, but this was the first time
I just gave her a container of food and let her at it.
 I think some of the food made it in.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Frost Advisory

We have already had our first and second frost advisories around here. That meant that it was time to go out and pick every last reddish tomato out there, bring in the onions that were drying, and pick the hot peppers. Peachy and Cream were out there helping us. Peachy was actually picking and doing a pretty good job. Cream was picking too, right out of the bowl we were putting them into. I finally had to play with her away from the action so she would keep shoving grape tomatoes in her mouth. It is a good thing that we all like tomatoes around here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Owl Birthday Party

When Peachy turned one we had a big party with friends and family. And so we set the precedent of having birthday parties every year starting at one. I know that one year olds really don't understand the fact that people are there for them and their birthday, but I look at it as an excuse to have a party and celebrate the blessing of your child in your life.
And so, we invited our playgroup friends over for a fun party to celebrate our Cream. A while back I decided on an owl party. Someone asked if Cream liked owls, I laughed and told them she could care less and the early years are the years that the parents get to choose the party theme and I chose owls! Since owls are so popular right now, I really had fun finding all sorts of owl items to add to the party fun. I also decided that I would go with the colors of green and pink. Again, just because I really like that color combo. (Maybe the party was more about me than Cream.)
I started by buying a set of clip art owls from the Etsy shop Saraink.

Using this clip art set and photos from the girls' shoot in July, I created this invitation.
As usual, I used Publisher to create the invites and had them printed at Office Max.
After the invitations it was on to what Cream would wear. (Isn't that next on everyone's list?) I thought about making her something, but saw this darling dress and tights at Carters and couldn't resist. I also had a friend here make her an owl clip similar to these that she has on her site. I also used this tutorial to make Cream an owl bib.
With wardrobe taken care of, it was on to the decorations. I made a rag wreath with pink and green scraps I had around using the same method I used for this wreath. The owl is a Cricut cutout I made using one of my friends machines.

I decorated our side table that you see when you first come up the steps. I used some fabric that I had on hand for a sort of runner and also made a fabric garland with scraps from my stash. I included lots of owls, the #1, and a fun magnetic picture board from JoAnn Fabrics.
The pink owl on the bucket and the green owl by the #1 were from The Dollar Tree. They were Halloween decorations that I spray painted.
I made some fun covered buttons to go along with the magnetic picture board.
I picked up the #1 at Hobby Lobby, spray painted it pink, and hot glued pink buttons to it.
I had pictures of Cream sprinkled throughout the house. Some frames I made with scrapbook paper and Mod Podge, some I bought in a pack from Target, and the large pink one I had on hand for anither project I am working on. I also used the owl clip art I bought to make some birthday signs.

The clip art was also used to create Hershey's Kiss stickers. I made up several different stickers in a 3/4 punch format, printed them on a full sheet of label paper and punched them with a 3/4 inch punch. (Actually my mom was here and did the punching in addition to helping with lots of the other projects. Thanks, mom!)
For favors I made owl bags using this Michaels tutorial and for the younger guests I made little stuffed owls modeled after these on Etsy.

 I bought owl items for the favor bags from Oriental Trading along with these great owl glasses.

 Those who know me, know that food art is not my specialty. For some reason, I just can't decorate cakes, cupcakes, cookies, you name it. However, every birthday I forget this and try to decorate a cake. This time, I found this great tutorial form Family Fun. And I was so happy with the results. It turns out if you decorate cake with lots and lots of store bought candy, anyone can do it. I also served crock pot mac and cheese, pasta salad, veggies, chips, and dip.

 Finally, I made this stuffed owl as a sort of autograph hound/guest book. Before the guests left, I had them use a fabric marker to sign the back. Now Cream has a fun reminder of everyone who came to help her celebrate her birthday. (I used a combination of tutorials for this guy and made him my own. The pattern pieces were from this tutorial.)

The party was a real hoot! (And Cream's favorite gift? The box that her water table came in!)

Monday, September 17, 2012

The H.O.H. Project: De-Cluttering Part 2

You can read more of my Making Our House Our Home Series here:
Introduction: Love Your Home
Part One: Making a Plan
Part Two: De-Cluttering Part 1
So last week I discussed the most obvious of de-cluttering, physical stuff. No doubt about it, the physical stuff in our lives can really cluttering things up. In our homes, cars, and beyond. However, there was more than the physical stuff that I knew was cluttering up my life. I also had loads and loads of digital clutter.
You know when your email in box is full and you end up deleting most of it? That is clutter. We don't always think of it because it isn't sitting right there staring us in the face all day long, but it takes up valuable time. In order to streamline my inbox, I unsubscribed from almost every mailing list I was on. (If you don't know, most mass emails have a link at the bottom that allows you to be removed from the list. In some cases you just click the link and you are taken off and at other times you have to enter your email or click a button that says that you do really want to unsubscribe.) This de-cluttering actual served two purposes, it cleaned out my inbox AND it took away many of the temptations to go and buy more stuff. If I don't have a coupon to shop at a store, I probably won't go to that store and buy things that I don't need. If I don't know what the daily deal sites are selling, I won't go and order it.
I also cut way back on the amount of blogs I read. I love reading blogs. I love the great ideas blogs provide for my life. However, they were taking up too much of my time. If I didn't check my Google reader for a few  days I could have hundreds of blog entries to catch up on. It was just too much. So I now I have only a handful of blogs in my reader. It is much more relaxing this way and takes up less of my time.
We also de-cluttered and organized our computer and its files. We bought an external hard drive and backed up our entire computer. This way we can keep less on our laptop and also not worry about losing files if something would happen to our computer. (Thankfully Mr. Cherry took care of this stuff since he is the computer guru in this house.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Foodie Friday: Healthy First Birthday Cake

The thought of a healthy cake for a first birthday had never really occurred to me. It is their first birthday, isn't that traditional time to feed them a healthy dose of unhealthy goodness? And then a friend mentioned on Facebook that she was looking or a healthy recipe for her daughter's first birthday. I also received a baby development email addressing the same topic. Hmm, interesting. After thinking about it, I figured I would give it a try. I did a quick internet search and found a page devoted to first birthday recipes at Wholesome Baby Food. I chose to go with the carrot cake in order to make use of some of the carrots from our garden. It was a bit involved, but I figured it was worth the effort to offer my baby something healthy on the occasion of her first birthday.

And healthy is what we got. The cake was very dense and really tasted more like a nutritious muffin than anything else. It wasn't bad, but I really wouldn't classify it as a birthday cake. The redeeming thing about this cake was the delicious whipped cream cheese frosting. That was delicious. I really should have added more. (But then I wouldn't have had it to spread on my Vanilla Waffers as a nap-time snack!)
In the end, I would say, if you are looking for a birthday cake, make a birthday cake. If you are looking for nutritious, make this. You may say that a baby wouldn't know the difference, but Cream did. She would chew it and then spit it out. It was amusing.

Baby's First Birthday Cake (Carrot Cake)

2 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
2 1/2 cups apple juice concentrate (you may use slightly less)
1 1/2 cups raisins
Vegetable Spray/Shortening
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 Tbsp low sodium baking powder
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Prep: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 9 inch square cake pans with waxed paper and spray the paper with vegetable spray/shortening.

1. Combine the carrots with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the juice concentrate in a medium size saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 15 to 20 mins. Puree in a blender of food processor until smooth.
3. Add the raisins and process until finely chopped. Let mixture cool.
4. Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups juice concentrate, the oil, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla; beat just until well mixed. Fold in the carrot puree and applesauce. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.
5. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 mins. Cool briefly in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. When cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting below or sprinkle a wee bit of powdered sugar if desired.

Whipped Cream Frosting

Makes 1 frosting for a 2 layer cake 
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened1 cup white sugar1/8 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Directions1 In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar salt and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.