Monday, June 23, 2014

Baking Monday – Vanilla Cupcakes

I have a chocolate cupcake recipe that is terrific, but my current go-to vanilla recipe is only just okay. It's really challenging to match the texture of boxed mix when it comes to vanilla/yellow cupcakes. Most homemade recipes that I've tried turn out more dense and pound cake-like. Not that I'm complaining, because I love pound cake, but cupcakes are expected to have that fluffy, springy texture that I haven't quite figured out how to duplicate from scratch.

This recipe is pretty good. I would consider using it as my stand in until something more perfect comes along. They didn't have quite the springy texture I was hoping for, but were very moist and vanilla-y. I don't like that this one requires ingredients that we don't usually keep on hand (sour cream) and uses only egg whites. (Though this would be a perfect recipe to try with Boston Creme filling … another cupcake on my to-bake list this summer!)

The other thing that's hard to get is a perfectly rounded top … these looked great just out of the oven, but quickly sank in the middle. No worries, since they were being decorated with a generous amount of buttercream!

Not that we ever need an excuse for baked goods, but these were for an impromptu World Cup cookout party yesterday. USA!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Last Year / This Year

Last year: Spent class field trip slowly walking behind group, complaining loudly, low energy.

This year: Happy to see me, checked in occasionally, but spent most of the time with his class, listening to the guide, asking questions.

Last year: Had to leave the talent show early because he was so unhappy and disruptive.

This year: Sat next to me for the whole show. Recognized songs from the radio. Complimented the performers.  

Last year: School party was too loud, too chaotic. Spent a slow thirty minutes eating ice cream and left without playing a single game.

This year: In and out of the obstacle course over and over again. Played every game. Asked a friend to play frisbee on the playground.

Last year: Refused to participate in his first badge ceremony.

This year: Happily walked up, shook hands, proudly received his first belt loop and activity patch!

Last year: Teacher sending emails every day, listing one problem after another.

This year: Teacher sending emails, listing problems and then … coming up with a list of solutions. Strategies. Help. Encouragement. Compassion. Support. 

Last year: Had to be practically held in place to keep from bolting during the Flag Day ceremony because he was so uncomfortable.

This year: Proudly wore scout uniform to school. Got up on stage with his fellow cubs to lead the pledge. Stood up on the risers with his class … and even sang some of the song!

Life with this quirky kid has not been easy, but what a difference a year makes. He is sharp as a tack and makes me laugh every day. His heart is full of love for his pet and his family (in that order). He reads everything he can and asks a zillion questions (to which he absolutely expects an answer). We are navigating this bumpy road together and are right now doing pretty well. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Baking Monday – Just Because Cookie Cake

I cannot believe it's been almost a month since I've had a chance to post! And I absolutely have been baking, but mostly old standbys. Between all the end-of-the-year parties, ceremonies, and activities going on this month, MANY batches of cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies have left the kitchen. And on one day that I was feeling a little blue, I did some just for fun baking … which is the best kind!!

I like the idea of a cookie pizza, but you can only get one (or two, depending on how it's sliced) toppings per serving. I'd been wanting to try one with multiple toppings per slice … but since this was an unplanned experiment, I didn't have a big variety of toppings on hand to choose from. (A trip through the bulk candy aisle would probably inspire many options!)

This was fun to make and everyone enjoyed it!