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Yesterday was my birthday and although I love a day that is all about me, this year I did something a little different. Instead of spending the day at the spa or shopping, which I would typically do on my birthday, I decided to make it a day about giving to others. I spent the whole day doing 27 (because that’s how old I am) random acts of kindness and managed to do them all. By the end of the day I felt so accomplished for completing all of them and so good thinking about all the people I had helped to brighten their day or even more, changed their life! As Mark Twain said “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
- We (because my little bug tagged along as mommy’s sidekick all day) started bright and early in the morning by driving to my mom’s house before she left for her busy day and delivered her flowers and a thank you card, because it’s her day also. She has been the greatest mom for 27 years.
- Next we went through the Starbucks drive through and bought a coffee for the car behind us.
- While at Starbucks I bought 4 tall coffees, their was a homeless man asking for money in the parking lot and I gave him a coffee with a few dollars.
- We took the remainder of the coffees to our security guards in the community where I live.
- Next, we went to the bagel shop where they carry the yummiest gluten free bagels. I left a hefty tip in the tip jar their for the sweetest employee.
- I’m not sure if this counts, but I think it should. A gal at the bagel shop noticed my shirt that said birthday girl. She asked if I was doing anything fun for my birthday and I had told her about my 27 random acts of kindness. She was so inspired that she asked if she could steal the idea and do it for her upcoming birthday.
- Next we stopped by my husbands office and brought him his favorite bagel sandwich with a love note inside the bag.
- While at the office, we brought a rose to every girl who worked their to brighten their day.
- After the office we headed to the humane society. I had bags of dog food and cat food to donate and I thought my little bug could play with the kitties. They weren’t open when we had arrived and two men were sitting out front of the building waiting for them to open the doors. I started talking to them and one guy was there to pick up dog food and cat food for his pets. I asked him if he just wanted to take my bags so he didn’t have to wait. He was beyond grateful and I could tell it had clearly made his day.
- Since the man had taken our dog and cat food we left a bag of dog toys at the front door of the humane society building.
- Next we headed to Target. We collected all of the carts in the parking lot.
- Then we hid dollar bills in the dollar section.
- This is one of my favorites of the day. At the checkout at Target I had purchased a ten dollar gift card and after the cashier had given me my receipt I had given her the gift card right back, she thanked me and started crying.
- Everywhere we had gone we had gone into the restroom and posted sticky notes on the mirrors that said “you are beautiful”.
- After target we headed to the hospital, we brought a box of cupcakes to the nurses at the postpartum section of the hospital. These ladies were absolutely incredible when I had my C section and we were there for 3 days.
- I also brought a vase of flowers with me and asked one of the nurses to give it to a mommy who really needs to be cheered up.
- Throughout the day I made a conscious effort to smile at everyone I came across. Especially in the hospital, I think people really appreciated a smile.
- In the parking garage we walked around and stuck sticking notes that said “have a wonderful day” on cars as well as a rose on the windshield. I noticed a woman walking to her car on the phone, completely weeping. She went to her car just to grab something and walked right back towards the hospital. I ran over there and gave her my last rose and placed it on her windshield.
- We headed home and I made sure to run out and leave my mailman a chocolate bar and a note that said “thanks for all your handwork.” After he dropped off my mail he wrote me a note that said”thank you”.
- After lunch and a nap, we headed to the fire department. We brought the firemen some cookies and thanked them for their service. They let Peyton sit in one of the fire trucks and gave him a sticker and coloring book.
- We headed to the gas station at the bottom of our hill, there they have a red box and we taped a bag of microwave popcorn to the screen.
- Next we headed to the park. While at target we bought bubbles in the dollar section and had hid them all over the playground for kiddos to find.
- Since earth day is on Friday. We had bought a tree at home depot and got our hands dirty and planted it at the park.
- Next we collected all the trash we had could find. It was so sad to me the amount of plastic bottles around the basketball court.
- Throughout the day I made a conscious effort to be a curtious driver. This was big for me, as I am constantly in a hurry and have bad road rage.
- While at my birthday dinner with my family, I gave the hostess a comment on the beautiful color of her hair.
- Lastly, I had made my own birthday cake and I left a nice comment on the blog that had inspired my cake to let her know how lovely it was and how much I appreciated her sharing her tutorial.
It was definitely a lot of work but I am so glad I did it. It felt so good to spend a day that’s supposed to be all about me and make it about others.
Here are the recipes for the cake I had made. This is a day of cake, as I had made this the day before and ate it the day after and it was very dry. I think if I had eaten it the day I had made it, it would have been perfect.
Sponge Cake from Food.com
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
4 eggs, separated
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1⁄2 cups cornflour, make sure it is gluten-free (cornstarch)
1 teaspoon baking powder, gluten-free
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Coat 2 spring form pans with baking spray, then line with baking paper. The baking spray helps keep the paper from moving around.
- In a microwave bowl or small saucepan, place the sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Stir every now and then to dissolve the sugar.
- Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Slowly drizzle in the hot sugar mixture with the mixer running. Then beat really hard for 3 minutes. Mix in egg yolks and vanilla.
- Sift together cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Carefully fold these into the egg mixture. Pour into prepared pans.
- Bake 18-20 minutes. As soon as you remove them from the oven, drop the pans from knee height, square on the floor – seriously! This is a strange sponge making trick that ‘shocks’ the cake and stops it from deflating.
- Then immediatly turn sponges out onto a wire rack or baking paper to cool upside down.
To finish cake:
1/2 cup elderflower syrup
- I brushed this all over the sponge cake
1 egg white
- brush each flower with the egg white and sprinkle with sugar
10 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 cup elderflower syrup
- To make the frosting, slowly mix the syrup with the powdered sugar
For the whole tutorial visit Peonylim
This weekend we celebrated the life of one of the most amazing, caring, smart, independent, thoughtful, funny, hard working women I know….my grandma. Although this weekend was emotional to say the least, it was so wonderful to get together with our family and friends and share our most cherished memories of this incredible human being. Her favorite color was red and if you knew her, you could definitely tell from the lipstick on her lips, the nail polish on her hands and toes, and the car she drove, not to mention most of her appliances and her favorite outfits were all red. In honor of her most beloved color, everyone wore red to the festivity. It was so beautiful to hear the sweet words of just a few of the lives of people that she had touched. She had taught me so much in life and even in the afterlife she still has managed to teach me, as this weekend I learned how short life is and how important it is to be a friend and to be kind and to love with all you have, to leave memories with people that they will want to talk about forever, and just how important family is. There was nothing my grandma loved more than her family. All the vacation time she ever had was spent with her family because that was what made her the happiest.
My grandma is a huge influence in me wanting to be a baker. The kitchen was where she flourished. She loved to cook and loved to bake and she passed that down through the generations that followed her. She is most famous for her apple cake, which she promised was going to make me famous one day. This cake has been present in nearly every family get together; in pastry school I used this recipe as the dessert in our restaurant for a week. I haven’t willed myself to make an apple cake since her passing, but when I do I know my grandma will be watching to make sure I don’t mess it up. I want to share this precious recipe with all of you. This cake is quite time consuming so make sure you allow enough time to make it properly.
2 cups Sugar
1 ¼ sticks Butter, softened
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
2 tsp. Baking soda
¾ tsp. Salt
2 cups cup4cup gluten free flour
¼ cup Walnuts, chopped and toasted
4 Granny smith apples
- Prep Bundt cake pans with flour and butter
- Toast walnuts and chop
- Sift dry ingredients
- Mix sugar and butter
- Add eggs and spices
- Add flour, batter must be really stiff
- Fold in cut apples and walnuts
- Bake 350F for 30 min.
As a kid we used to visit our family in Arizona for Easter and there, we would celebrate all the spring birthdays in our family which included mine as I am an April baby. This was my memory of Easter as a child. The Easter bunny wasn’t such a big deal, it was more of being with family and when we weren’t in Arizona we would attend church in our Sunday best. Fortunately I was able to visit my Arizona family this last week under different circumstances, but it was nice to reminisce my childhood during this holiday with them. I have to say that my all time favorite easter was when my grandma surprised me with a real bunny, his name was snugs and I had him up until my parents adopted a dog who loved to torment the poor thing and we had to give him up. The last few years Easter has kind of taken a back seat and we haven’t done much, but this year with our little one on the move, Easter has a whole new meaning. Yesterday we took him on his first egg hunt with all the grandparents in attendance of course and took him to see the Easter bunny, which he wasn’t very fond of. We dyed eggs, which he absolutely loved and then started throwing them like they were baseballs and breaking the shells. This morning we had a special brunch with our families at our house and we did another small Easter egg hunt in our backyard. Easter has transformed for us to creating memoires for our boy and making the holidays as special as we can for him.
This year for Easter I made GF Easter nest cheesecakes. I found this recipe from an advertisement for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, although I made some adjustments and didn’t even use Philadelphia cream cheese, they turned out pretty yummy.
- 1 cup gluten free graham cracker crumbs
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
- 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
- 3 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. BAKER’S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut, toasted
- speckled M&MS
- Heat oven to 325°F.
- Mix Gluten Free graham crumbs, 2 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin cups.
- Beat cream cheese, vanilla and remaining sugar with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over crusts.
- Bake 25 to 30 min. or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate
- Top each cheesecake with 1 Tbsp. coconut; shape to resemble bird’s nest. Fill with
- M&M eggs.
Happy Easter Everyone!!
Here are some pictures of our table and my little Easter Bunny.
Tomorrow is St Patricks Day, so make sure you wear green, and although I may not be Irish, I like to reflect on and acknowledge just how very lucky I am! I have been blessed with so much in this life and am so truly fortunate, that my list could end up in a book. So, if you aren’t celebrating your heritage or even if you are, take a moment tomorrow to reflect on how lucky you are. There are so many people in the world who look at just surviving as being lucky. And the fact that a lot of us are fed, clothed, loved, healthy, and have a roof over our head should consider that as being lucky.
My utmost favorite thing to bake is bread, and when I found out I was celiac this is what devastated me the most. I thought that my passion of being a bread baker had been crushed and I had to take another route as a baker. Little did I know that baking gluten free bread is just as fun. I will be making this yummy GF Irish Soda Bread from The Peaceful Haven to go along with my bangers and mash (my husband isn’t a fan of corned beef and cabbage) and gluten free omission green beer. I will make sure to post a picture of my finished product on my Instagram page @bakercam19.
Enjoy everyone and Happy St. Patricks Day!
GLUTEN FREE IRISH SODA BREAD
2 cups gluten-free flour mix
2 tsp. xatham gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 stick of room temperature butter (1/2 cup) or ghee
3/4 cup milk or unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 TBS. raw honey
1 cup of currants or raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Dump all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until all the ingredients all well combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.
3. Dump the dough onto a terra cotta baking stone. Shape into a circular mound .
4. Bake for 30-45 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Let sit 30 minutes and then eat with butter! YUM!
Today the weather gods paid us a visit and delivered snow and rain for the forecast all day long. These are the kinds of days I want to stay home and snuggle up with my boys on the couch and a cozy blanket with a yummy cup of hot chocolate in my favorite tinker bell coffee mug and watch our favorite movies all day. Unfortunately, it was Monday and our responsibilities and activities for the day took precedent and we weren’t able to do any of this, but one can simply dream right? I think this goes for most people, but what is it that is so amazing about the smell of rain after it hits the asphalt. It has to be the greatest smell in the whole world. Fortunately, I was able to cuddle up in bed with my puppy babies and a book and listen to the drops hit the window while my little one was taking his afternoon nap. Ahh.. the simple joys in life. I can’t imagine that people, who live where it rains all the time, feel the same about this type of weather as I do. If i were to live in one of those places, then I would never get anything done. I would just want to stay at home and soak up every minute of the wet weather.
Here is a yummy gf hot chocolate recipe from belle of the kitchen for you to save for a rainy day. Aren’t these so cute?
2 cups cup4cup flour
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot water
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 (7 oz) container marshmallow creme
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Toppings and decor:
Mini candy canes, cut to fit (see note below)
Crushed candy canes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix well.
Add in vanilla, eggs, buttermilk, and vegetable oil mixing until smooth. Pour in hot water and mix well. Batter will be very thin.
Pour batter into prepared cupcake liners, about ⅔ full. Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, beat softened butter with an electric mixer over medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in marshmallow creme and beat until combined. Finally add in the powdered sugar and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing until smooth.
Top the cooled cupcakes with frosting, then sprinkle each one with mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, and crushed candy canes. Add a candy cane handle by inserting the hook end of the candy cane into the top-side of each cupcake. Enjoy soon after decorating.
Its Oscar night and every year my in-laws invite everyone over for a big party to watch the awards show. We print out a sheet for each person with the nominations so that you can make your guess at who is going to win each category. My brother-in-law is a huge film buff and beats us all every year. Half the time I’ve only ever seen a couple of the movies up for an Oscar but he tries to make it to the theaters to see every movie in time for the awards show so that he can give his best opinion. Aside from the CMA awards (I’m a big country fan), the Oscars are really the only other awards show I like to watch and it’s extra special that we make a yearly family event out of it. This will be our little ones second Oscar party and every year he has made a point to look the part in his black tie. If you will be watching the Oscars tonight I suggest you make these fancy black tie strawberries to indulge in while you view all the actors and actresses in their fancy black tie. I have made these strawberries on many occasions. I first learned how to make them in pastry school and since then have made them for bridal showers (the strawberry is the groom), amongst many other events and they are always a big hit.
To make these strawberries you need a dark dipping chocolate as well as a white chocolate. I like to use Wilton’s dipping chocolate but if you are really fancy, you can temper your own coverture chocolate. First wash and dry the strawberries. Then dip each strawberry fully into the white chocolate and let dry. Next dip each strawberry at an angle on either side to make the tux jacket. Let each strawberry completely dry. Cut and make a few parchment bags. Fill a parchment bag with melted chocolate and snip a tiny hole at the end of the bag. Make a bow and a few buttons and voilà , you have a tuxedo strawberry fit to attend your oscar party.