Make A Soldier Smile

Before I tell you all about my day, let it be known that I have absolutely no affiliation or advertising agreements with Soldiers’ Angels.  In fact, they have no idea I am posting this.

Actually, there’s only one person who even knows me and he’s in Afghanistan right now.

And for future reference, please know that I don’t talk to anyone before I hit “publish”.

Just ask Miss MacGyver, who I texted in a panic after posting yesterday.

To let her know she’s on my blog.

That’s just how I post.

Today I put together a care package for a soldier in Afghanistan whom I have never met.

Care Package For Our Soldier

It’s really easy to do and it makes someone smile.

I like for people to smile.

Care Package Goodies

And you know me.  I always have something to say.

This is an opportunity for me to write a letter.  woohoo!

Letter To My Soldier

The post office makes it relatively painless to ship to service members.

Yea, I know!  The USPS making anything easy?

A total shock, right!?

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An Elmo Birthday

When I made this cake, I did not have a blog and never dreamed of posting these pictures anywhere.

If I could go back in time, I would have taken pictures of every step.  A picture is worth 550 words, you know?

Since I did not take pictures of every step, I will use 550 words to describe the process.

I made this cake for my daughter’s 1 year-old birthday party.

Her name (made with tip 2 blue buttercream) is blurred out on the sign for privacy.

An Elmo Birthday

The cake design is from a Wilton Yearbook.

If you follow the directions exactly from the book this is what you’ll get.

Broken Elmo

An Elmo Tiered Birthday Cake

Here’s how I made this cake:


2 tier cake, bottom layer 14 inch, top layer 12 inch.

This cake serves ~120 people, but I only needed ~70 slices, so I made the 12 inch layer using styrofoam rounds instead of cake, and covered the rounds with fondant.  You can find these rounds at Michael’s.

The bottom tier that I served was iced with buttercream instead of fondant, because I don’t care much for the taste of fondant.

Outside of America, fondant is used to preserve the freshness of cake.

Only in America do we eat fondant!  Everything that is edible should not be eaten.

Yellow Triangles Surrounding Elmo

The curved yellow pieces are made from fondant.  I cut the triangles from rolled fondant, then laid them on a round surface to dry.

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Summer Nights – Blackhawk Style

Today was a normal day. Went to the market for dinner ingredients. Couldn’t find curry leaves for my recipe. I became delusional and figured we could go back out for them after the young’uns had naps.

I’ll skip to the punchline.  That didn’t happen.

But it was definitely a night to remember.

Do you ever wonder what times in your life will be at the forefront of your memory when many years have passed and the day-to-day routines blend and fade?

Tonight was one of those nights.  A night that started like a lot of the others. We’re headed to a restaurant for dinner because my original dinner plans were sabotaged didn’t work out.

But little did I know a magical evening was in store.

You know the kind.

When nothing goes according to plan and then you realize that the spontaneous activity was way better than anything that could have ever been planned.

The weather was near perfect.

I’m not asking for sympathy here, people, but to put it in context, this is what we were dealing with just 2 weeks ago.

Girl In Gown In The Rain

In California, this is not supposed to happen in JUNE.

Yes, that is my young’un walking in the pouring rain in her nightgown.

It was 55 degrees.

In June.

Did I mention it was June?

At least one of my young’uns accepted the offer for an umbrella.


What do you do on a rainy day or sunny day or hot day or cold day or?… [Read more…]

Not So Stuffed Mushrooms – Vegan Style

A while back I saw a recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms in a Vegan cookbook.  Yesterday I found myself at the market, without a clue on what to cook for dinner.  I saw Stuffer Mushrooms, and decided I would wing it without a recipe or an ingredient list.

This is way out of my comfort zone.  I usually consult books, the internet, and even read all reviews of recipes before I commit to making something.  And sometimes it is still a huge disappointment!

At the supermarket, I started thinking about ingredients for Stuffed Bell Peppers, and thought that reversing the ingredients might be a safe bet.  When I realized I could serve with Panko Crumbs, I was sold (yes, I am still lovin’ Panko Crumbs!).

Beyond that, I didn’t have a plan.  To make things more interesting, we were having company over for dinner!  I’ve had enough dish flops in my day to know that this is a bad combo.

There’s been LOTS of times I’ve tossed food in the trash and we went out to eat :-( but I sure didn’t want to do that with our guests!

Here’s the dish on my Not So Stuffed Mushrooms.

Not So Stuffed Mushrooms - Vegan Style

How long it takes

About 1 hour.

Here’s the breakdown:

5-10 minutes to prep/chop veggies

20-30 minutes to sauté veggies

20 minutes to bake Stuffed Mushrooms

2 minutes to sprinkle Panko Crumbs on top

20 SECONDS to brown Panko Crumbs


(2) Green Bell Peppers

(2) Yellow or White Onion

(2) 14-ounce containers of Stuffer Mushrooms

(1) Can Aduki Beans – Only using 1/2 the can (The same beans used in the Chinese desert “Red Bean”)

Basil, Parsley, Italian Herbs, Garlic (packaged herbs for this one)

Salt & Pepper

Panko Crumbs

Dried Italian Seasoning

Garlic Powder

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Cauliflower Steaks – Vegan Style

In a perfect world I would be Vegan.  In my own kitchen, I get sort of close.  Sometimes.

Cauliflower Steaks Roasted To Perfection

Adzuki Bean Quinoa

Hubby-Chocolate Cake

My Healthy Twist On Hubby-Chocolate Cake

I’ve slowly transitioned to a mostly Vegan diet over the past few years.  However, I am an American, living in America.  I have yet to master eating Vegan when I leave my own kitchen.

As far as a Vegan diet is concerned, restaurants are bad and kid-activities are the worst.

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Cooking with Stainless Steel

Happy June, People.

My kids donned rain boots and grabbed umbrellas for some fun in the rain.  Or mist, as it were.

Rainy Summer Day

Here on the west coast, rain in June is just plain weird.  More weird than day-time high temps in the 50’s.  Yikes!

We spent the morning at ballet rehearsal, a quick lunch, then naps for kiddos.  What is a mom to do when 4PM rolls around, it’s raining and cold outside, and there’s nothing to make for dinner?

Surrounded by hungry people.  We have breakfast of course!

Hungry Little Hands

Have you tried Stainless Steel Cookware?

All-Clad is my favorite cookware, and this happens to be my favorite (most used) piece.

All-Clad Copper Core Sauté Pan, 4-Qt Source: Williams-Sonoma

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