Category Archives: Holiday

Blackberry Lemon Pudding Cakes

I made Lemon Pudding Cakes for dessert on Easter, and they were DELICIOUS!!

SO…I decided to make them again the other night when we had some friends over.  I shook it up a little and incorporate some blackberries that Maya and I picked earlier that day.Blog Blackberry lemon pudding cakes-1 Blog Blackberry lemon pudding cakes-2 Blog Blackberry lemon pudding cakes-3

What you need…

  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • large eggs (separated)
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (room temp)
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Finely Grated Lemon Zest
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice and Blackberry Juice ( just strained a handful of berries and then filled the rest of the 1/3 Cup with lemon juice 🙂
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 3 Teaspoons Turbinado or Some Other Coarse Sugar

What to do…

  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • Place six 4-ounce ramekins into a 9×13 Pyrex dish.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and flour; set aside.
  • In a second medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and butter until combined.
  • Whisk in the milk and lemon zest and juice. Add the lemon mixture to the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • In 3 additions, gently fold the egg whites into the lemon-sugar mixture.
  • Divide the pudding mixture among the ramekins (about 3/4 of a cup each). Dividing evenly, sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
  • Refrigerate for a couple of hours if you have the time.
  • To the roasting pan, add just enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  • Bake until the tops are golden brown.  I accidentally undercooked mine at 35 minutes, and honestly the general consensus was that was a happy accident.  Original recipe says to cook for 40-45.
  • Take out of the pan and let cool on a rack.
  • Here’s what I would do again, but didn’t have time to do this time, which is why the pudding and cake aren’t as separately defined.  I refrigerated the cakes for a few hours before cooking and the pudding was creamy and the top cake was solid but moist.  Also, you can eat them right away, and it will be more like a lemon molten cake.  To each his own, but cold lemon sounded better to me. 🙂
  • Can make one large cake (probably best in an 8×8 pan).  If you do that cook for 30-35 minutes.

For reference, here’s what the original lemon cakes looked like that I refrigerated for a few hours before baking.  A definite distinction between the pudding and the cake.  Blog Real Simple Lemon Pudding Cakes-3Either way…still so good!

Enjoy!!  We did! 🙂dit-elle-Lauren

HAPPY Easter from us :)

 It had been raining off an on most of Easter Day for us.  To tell the truth, this was the first year we didn’t do any kind of Egg hunt.   Maya never asked, and one of her best friends had a birthday party on Saturday (when most of the neighborhood community hunts were) so… Not sure if I should chalk that up as a mom fail, or a mom win, because…less candy!

We did make a delicious Lemon Pudding Cakes, and honestly, I think she had more fun making those.  Or so I’m telling myself!!

ANYWAYS.  My parents came over for dinner, and afterwards, there was a break in the rain!  I asked my mom if she wanted to go out and take a few pics, and thankfully the answer is almost always yes!  Like Mother, like daughter.  Ok, I take it up a notch, but whatever.

Oh, and did I mention these were after dinner….and a couple glasses of wine? 😉

I get clients all the time that worry about double chins etc.  Um…I say if you are laughing and happy-WHO CARES!Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-1 Maya was in RARE form!!  Seriously, cracking us both up-as always.Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-2 Loooooove this next one.  Her looking back up at me…dying.Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-3 And then…. a little dance off?Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-4 Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-5 Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-6 Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-7 Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-8 Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-9 I totally love this one, except for the fact that my head looks GINORMOUS!??

Oh, well.  Still love it.  Ok, really…love her 🙂Blog Liza Tara Goldsign Mayhem Lola Keim-10I triiiiiiiiied to take that gum wrapper out of her hands.  She’s obsessed with gum.  I kid you not, she probably has 5-6 pieces a day (sugar free!).  And she loves to hold onto the wrapper.  So, she can spit it out after 10 minutes and give it back to me haha 😉Blog Hanna Andersson Velour Twirl Dress Josmo Boots-1 Blog Hanna Andersson Velour Twirl Dress Josmo Boots-2 She loooooves her Meme!!Blog Hanna Andersson Velour Twirl Dress Josmo Boots-3

On me…

Top- Liza + Tara (eBay)
Jeans-GoldSign “Mayhem” (old, similar here and here)
Boots- Lola Keim (thrifted, similar here)
On Maya…
Dress- Hanna Andersson (thrifted)
Leggings- Hanna Andersson (thrifted)
Keeping it Real…
So, in typical Maya fashion.  If I WANT her to take a picture with me, half the time she won’t.  BUT…if I want to try and get a picture of just me, she’s all up in my business.
SO…me demonstrating the super cool bell sleeve?  Or telling Maya to go play in the grass (which she wouldn’t do haha).   Ok, the fact that this is under “keeping it real” pretty much answers that question ;).Blog Outtake
(all pictures taken of me and me with Maya taken by my mom :))

dit-elle-Lauren

Lemon Pudding Cakes

We made these for dessert on Easter, and they were SO GOOD!!!  While I wouldn’t call these necessarily healthy, they really were surprisingly light and refreshing!  The flavor was amazing too!

I acctually tore this recipe from my Real Simple magazine back in April of 2012.  Yes…I still collect and keep magazine tear outs (even in this Pinterest driven day!!)  I didn’t deviate from the original recipe with the exception of accidentally undercooking them-which I will do again when I make them next time.  It was a huge hit.Blog Real Simple Lemon Pudding Cakes-1 Blog Real Simple Lemon Pudding Cakes-2If this next image doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will!  And those cute little fingers?  Maya was such a good assistant! Blog Real Simple Lemon Pudding Cakes-3

What you need…

  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • large eggs (separated)
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (room temp)
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Finely Grated Lemon Zest
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 3 Teaspoons Turbinado or Some Other Coarse Sugar

What to do…

  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • Place six 4-ounce ramekins into a 9×13 Pyrex dish.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and flour; set aside.
  • In a second medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and butter until combined.
  • Whisk in the milk and lemon zest and juice. Add the lemon mixture to the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • In 3 additions, gently fold the egg whites into the lemon-sugar mixture.
  • Divide the pudding mixture among the ramekins (about 3/4 of a cup each). Dividing evenly, sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.Blog Real Simple Lemon Pudding Cakes-4
  • I chose to refrigerate mine for a few hours, but you don’t have to.  If you do, the batter will separate, like above, and the end result will be that creamy pudding at the base, and light fluffy cake on top.  If you don’t have time, the separation will be less noticeable, but still delicious!!  Seen in a slightly different variation when I had less time here. 🙂
  • To the roasting pan, add just enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  • Bake until the tops are golden brown.  I accidentally undercooked mine at 35 minutes, and honestly the general consensus was that was a happy accident.  Original recipe says to cook for 40-45.
  • Take out of the pan and let cool on a rack.Blog Real Simple Lemon Pudding Cakes-5
  • I refrigerated mine for a few hours after cooking and the pudding was firm and the top cake was moist.  You can eat them right away, and it will be more like a lemon molten cake.  To each his own, but cold lemon sounded better to me. 🙂
  • Can make one large cake (probably best in an 8×8 pan).  If you do that cook for 30-35 minutes.

You can find the original recipe here.

Enjoy!!  We did! 🙂Blog Real Simple Lemon Pudding Cakes-6dit-elle-Lauren

Easter Egg Tree 2016

It’s the season.. daffodils, cherry blossoms, puddle jumping and Easter Egg fun!

Want to make an Easter tree? It’s a fun project especially for older kids and the result is pretty stunning. Preparing the eggs takes quite a bit of time and effort (you will actually empty egg out of the shell through a small opening by blowing through a small hole on the opposite side of the shell), but the good news is that if you are careful, these eggs can last for years and be used on your tree again and again!

Check out our Easter “science” project from last year here – naturally dyed eggs!
And from two years ago, our Easter Tree here.

Ready to get started? See instructions captioned in each photo.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fresh white eggs
  • Something sharp (like a large yarn needle) to make small holes in the shell with
  • Small sticks (toothpicks or bamboo skewers broken into 3/4″ length
  • Sewing thread
  • Food color/egg dye, vinegar, hot water
making an easter egg tree blog (2)

Use fresh white eggs

 

making an easter egg tree blog (1)

1) Hold the egg firmly in one hand and using a large sharp pointy tool (I used a large yarn needle) tap the “north” or “south” end of the egg – like a bird might chip away at something, or think of a woodpecker in a tree! 2) You’ll tap firmly ~10 times and a small hole will form. Make it bigger by continuing to tap and clear some shell away. The bigger the hole, the easier to get the egg out, but you don’t want it too big. About 1/4″ or less should do. 3) flip the egg upside down and now start chipping a hole on the opposite side (this hole can be smaller). 4) Once you have two holes, insert needle about an inch into the egg to pierce the yolk (this will make getting the egg out of the shell easier). 5) You will now blow a thin stream of air into one of the holes (smaller one) and gravity should pull the egg out the other end. 6) Pour some water into hole and rinse by repeating step above.

 

 

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You’ll have plenty of egg yolks and whites – save for an omelet or cake!

 

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Let eggs air dry before dipping in dye

Ave and Anders helped with the dye process – using bamboo skewers to turn the eggs (hollow eggs float!). They loved comparing colors and watching the eggs turn deeper shades.

Note that you can get standard food coloring from the grocery store (e.g. McCormick makes a small box of four bottles: red, yellow, green, blue) and following the instructions we made some pretty cool mix & match colors.. sunset orange, jungle green, raspberry, etc. Other than dye, you’ll need vinegar and hot water.

While the eggs dry, fasten a piece of sewing thread to a small stick (e.g. broken toothpick or bamboo skewer), drop this into the egg so that the stick flips to the horizontal and becomes an ‘anchor’ from which the string is attached. Now the egg is ready to be decorated further and/or hung. Ave put colored feathers into each egg and was in charge of hanging. And yes, every step of the way there is risk of the eggshells breaking – they are eggshells after all – but make a bunch and have fun!

Beautiful, right? 🙂

Have fun! 🙂

dit-elle-Esther

Orange and Star Anise Festive Cocktail

Did you watch the Oscars this weekend? Dream of walking down the red carpet? Or simply prefer a sparkling cocktail and viewing party from the comfort of your own house? 🙂

If you love citrus but are not into those sweet syrupy cocktails, then this refreshing cocktail is just for you! Garnish with some pieces of star anise for a festive touch!

Oscars, garden party, holiday party or whatever.. cheers!

orange bourbon anise cocktail blog

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • 2 oz. Cointreau or Absolut Mandarin Vodka (OR bourbon if that is your thing! Takes this cocktail in a different direction, but is definitely palatable.. again.. you kind of have to like the flavor of bourbon)
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water
  • Orange slices, for garnish
  • 4 pieces star anise (optional)

Directions

  • Combine juice, vodka, water and divide between two ice filled glasses
  • Garnish with orange and star anise
  • Cheers!

dit-elle-Esther

DIY Beaded Bracelet…by your toddler (that you’ll actually wear!)

So I DO love the rainbow giant beaded bracelets and pasta necklaces that come home school and camps….I DO!  But…do I really wear them?  Um…no (horrible mom admittance!)

Maya had a friend’s birthday party to got to a bit ago, and I was talking with the mom about what to get her.  She really didn’t want more “stuff”, so she said if Maya wanted to make her something, that would be perfect.  Instantly I thought of a bracelet.  We asked what her favorite colors were.  I dug out my boxes of beads from storage (again…totally patting my pack rat self on the back right now!!), and…Maya made her a bracelet.  I helped with the clasp, but she did everything herself.  She picked what beads she wanted to use and strung them along.  Well…I didn’t take pictures of THAT bracelet ha!  But then Valentine’s Day rolled around.  What to give her teacher?  Oh, the box of beads were still sitting out (a week later-whoops!), so…Maya asked her teacher what her favorite color was, and we picked from my stash.  Thankfully, her favorite color was green (mine too!), so I had a few to pick from.  🙂

It’s a little hard to see, but these are an iridescent green “pearl” bead.  The bag that I had them in said $5.50, and we only used half.  So…while it looks like a really nice gift, it didn’t cost much, and it provided a fun activity.  Oh, and Maya had total pride in the fact that she made this for her teacher!!  And…her friend (that I didn’t take pictures of 🙂 )Blog DIY Toddler Beaded Bracelet-1 Such concentration!  I honestly wasn’t sure if it would be too hard for her to do, but she did it!Blog DIY Toddler Beaded Bracelet-2 Blog DIY Toddler Beaded Bracelet-3 Blog DIY Toddler Beaded Bracelet-5And obviously, had fun!  Which was the total point!!  Well…the end product was kind of the point, but her having fun making it was even better. Blog DIY Toddler Beaded Bracelet-4Blog DIY Toddler Beaded Bracelet-6So…don’t be afraid to have them make things out of real beads.  They aren’t that expensive, and they are totally wearable.  And…if you are like me and went through a total beading phase and KEPT all your beads…SCORE!! 😉dit-elle-Lauren

Non Candy Valentines with DIY Heart Glitter Cards

Daunted by the DIY Pinterest Valentine’s Day projects that you’ve been seeing??  Yeah, I feel ya.  We made play-do last year last year, and…we had a lot of fun!!  But…this year?  I didn’t have time!!  As most of you don’t!  If you do have time?  Totally make the play do!  It’s still in our fridge a year later, smells yummy, and we still play with it!  BUT…if you want something a tad bit easier…

You can still have your preschooler/kindergartner totally involved in Valentine’s Day projects even if they aren’t totally diy!  You can make them into a diy craft by involving them in the process!  I bought all my supplies from a Dollar Tree, spent less than $7, and involved Maya in every step of the way!  She helped pick out what we should buy (at $1 each, it was easy to say yes, but admittedly afterwards, I felt like we went overboard spending $7!)

Honestly, this would be a great idea for a birthday party parting bag (at least, I think so!).  At less than $1 per kid?!!?  Yet, lots of fun an useful things…score!Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-1Two years ago, we made DIY Glitter Hearts for Valentine’s Day.  I remembered them being so easy, and that she had so much fun doing them, so we decided to not recreate the wheel.  Isn’t that the best advice ever?!!  WHY RECREATE THE WHEEL??? This year, Maya wrote her name all by herself on the back of each card.  An upgrade + Kind of a milestone! Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-2I’m including links below to pretty much the exact same thing I bought for $1 each, but if you don’t have a Dollar Tree near you and want to put something similar together from Amazon…

What you need…

For the Valentine Bags

Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card

OR…I found a pack on Amazon that was kind of similar to what I put together.

Online Pack

What to do…

  • Yes.  You could assemble all these together yourself, and just have your preschooler work on the cards, but I wanted Maya to have a little more ownership since we weren’t doing a DIY craft for the actual Valentine.  SO, we turned it into a craft
  • She laid out how many bags that were in her class and counted them out (there were 25 in the bag, so we had some left over).Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-3
  • Then she put one of each item into each bag.Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-4 Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-5 Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-6
  • The bags came with end ties, so I tied them together with the cards at the end 🙂

For the Heart Cards

  • Card stock paper/water color paper, or I used a cardboard insert that had come in clothes I’ve bought online/t-shirts I buy for the Huz.  Yes, I save everything just in case.  Yes, I was so excited to finally use some of my hoarded craft supplies! 😉
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Hole Punch
  • Large sheet of aluminum foil for easy clean up
  • Cookie sheet or empty box (to contain the glitter bomb and glue :))

What you do…

  • Since we were doing this for Valentine’s Day, I cut little hearts out. You could do circles, or just squares/rectangles if you wanted to make cards for a different occasion.
  • Put the “cards” on a lined cookie sheet/box and let your toddler drizzle glue all over them.Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-7
  • Then, while glue is still wet, have them go to town with the glitter!Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-8I shook all the excess of some cards onto others so that the glitter was evenly distributed. Blog Non Candy Preschool Valentine Bags DIY Glitter Heart Card-9
  • Once the glue is dry, punch a hole in the corner and tie to the bags.

Have Fun!!dit-elle-Lauren

Pomegranate

Pomegranates.. what a sweet and juicy and beautiful fruit. Each seed is like a small sparkling ruby. Pomegranates are supposed to be a super food (remember the pomegranate juice craze?), but we think they are just delicious as is and love adding them to all sorts of recipes when the fruit is available.. usually winter season. I add the seeds to drinks (see my New Years Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail here), salads, yogurt, as garnish to oatmeal or cereal for the kids, in fruit salad, or just.. plain!

When I was in Barcelona a few months ago, a restaurant I visited one day served pomegranate seeds in a small oval bowl for dessert. I also learned from a friend that in Persia they sprinkle a little salt on the seeds before eating.. sound a little odd? Try it! Delicious!

pomagranate blog (2) pomagranate blog (1)

dit-elle-Esther

Marzipan Cookies

Marzipan Cookies are awesome because they are slightly less rich than pure marzipan, use only three ingredients, and are chewy and delicious!

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • whole raw almonds (optional)

Directions

  • In food processor mix almond meal and sugar
  • Add egg whites until a stiff dough forms
  • Remove from food processor and knead with a little almond meal as needed so that a workable dough forms
  • Shape 1″ diameter balls and press down on cookie sheet with an almond in the middle if desired
  • Bake at 350 for ~12 minutes or until edges just start to turn golden
  • These store very well in an airtight container in freezer for a few weeks!

dit-elle-Esther

Marzipan Chocolate Miniature Sandwiches

I grew up making marzipan, but just last year discovered the secret ingredient to marzipan perfection.. rose water! See the recipe here. This year I made tiny Marzipan “sandwiches” for a holiday party. You roll a bit of marzipan into a ball and press two discs of chocolate to make the sandwich. I found dark chocolate ‘discs’ at the local gourmet foods grocery store, but chocolate coins could work well too! Because the marzipan is quite sweet, the less sweet dark chocolate is a nice complement!

I made these for Christmas, but marzipan is popular year round in Scandinavia and Germany (especially again around Easter).

marzipan chocolate sandwich blog (4) marzipan chocolate sandwich blog (3) marzipan chocolate sandwich blog (2) marzipan chocolate sandwich blog (1)

Ingredients

  • One batch of Marzipan (you can also find this pre-made at some grocery stores.. look for almond paste if not marzipan)
  • Chocolate ‘discs’ (dark chocolate, should be around 1″ in diameter)

Directions

  • Roll a bit of marzipan into a ball (the size of a large marble) and press two discs of chocolate to make the sandwich.
  • Store in an air tight container and refrigerated for a week or more, or frozen for a month or so!

Super Mom Tip: Marzipan has the consistency of play dough and is a lot of fun for (older) kids to roll into various shapes and cut out with small cookie cutters, or decorate with chocolate chips!

Enjoy!

dit-elle-Esther