A Birthday and a Bowl

Sunday, while we were housesitting, I cooked Josh a birthday cake to take to bible study Monday night. It turned out fairly well. I used a tip that Melissa gave me last year and filled between the layers with pudding rather than icing, but I think I used too much, so it began oozing everywhere and making a mess while I was trying to ice the cake. The dark spots in the icing is where the pudding got mixed up with it and didn't dry very well. Ah, chocolatey goodness (More on that later).
The cake was from a mix, to simplify things, but I found a recipe for the icing that was really, really good.
Easy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
1 stick butter, room temperature
2/3 C unsweetened cocoa
3 C powdered sugar
1/3 C milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer, until frosting is creamy, 3-5 minutes. (Start at low speed to avoid getting sugar everywhere!)

I didn't have 3 C powdered sugar, I only had 2, so I tried to cut teh recipe into 2/3rds, which was hard to do in my head....

The cake was completely gobbled up by the 10 hungry people at small group Monday, and my parents were coming to celebrate Josh's birthday on Tuesday. What's a hostess to do? I threw together one of Josh's favorites, "pudding cake" (also called "dump cake" or "hot fudge cake") as they got here. There are no pictures, because it was gobbled up as well.
Pudding Cake:
3/4 C sugar
1 C flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
-Heat oven to 350. Mix above ingredients in a 8x8 or 9x9 pan. Blend in 1/2 C milk, 1/3 C melted butter, & 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and beat till smooth.
-Sprinkle 1/2 C sugar, 1/2 C brown sugar & 1/4 C cocoa over batter. Pour 1 1/4 C HOT water over the pan. Do not mix. Stick it in the oven & bake 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before eating.

What I did NOT consider was that chocolate cake 2 days in a row makes us very sick of chocolate cake. I had planned on making a cake or cupcakes for a party today, and after Tuesday, we decided they would be white cake, for sure.

Wednesday I had off from cooking anything amazing. We did a breakfast-dinner, and I appreciated the simplicity of it. Thursday, Matt, Kristen, Cindy & Ducky all came over for dinner. It was great fun. Matt brought sausages and Josh braved the cold to grill them. I made pork-and-beans and (my favorite) garlic roasted potatoes, and Cindy made yummy brownies for us.
I would post the potatoes recipe, but, to be honest I didn't follow it at all. It was just an 'idea'. What I did: Start with a bag of red potatoes. Cut into wedges and toss with oil to coat. Spread in a baking pan skin-side-up and sprinkle with dried rosemary and garlic powder. Bake for 20 minutes covered with foil at 425. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes. Flip skin-down and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Again, no pictures because this was gobbled up. I really meant to get pictures of the party, it was a good time.

Also Thursday night, before people started showing up, I cooked my own creation: Super Bowl Colts cookies to take into work Friday. By "Colts" I mean "blue and white". I told people at work they could be blue-and-white Groundhog Day cookies if they prefer. What I did:

I started with Betty Crocker's sugar cookie mix, as I always do for my sugar cookies. I added a little bit of flour (In retrospect, I probably should have also taken out some of the butter). I split the dough into 2 pieces, one slightly smaller than the other. To the smaller one, I added blue food coloring until I liked the color, worked it into the dough, and set it aside. I rolled out the white dough into a long narrow rectangle, and spread the blue dough on top of it. Starting from the LONG side, I rolled the dough into a tube and wrapped it in saran wrap and put it in the refrigerator to chill. (I forgot, I did this all while Josh was at choir Wednesday night) Thursday, I took the roll out and sliced these spiral cookies and cooked them in batches. (I managed to slice my finger as well, and have had to type this whole thing without the use of my left index finger. It's still there, it just has a band-aid on the tip.) They turned out pretty cool, and were eaten up at work.

My favorite part: The spirals sometimes appeared to form horseshoes or C's, for Colts.

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Last night, before we went to Lebanon, I threw together a spinach dip for a party tonight. This is the easiest, tastiest thing to do: Knorr spinach dip. If I have time, I might add more spinach, because I prefer spinach to sour cream.

I made it ahead because it gets better with age: the flavors meld while sitting in the refrigerator. We headed to dinner in Lebanon and had a delightful time playing games and visiting. We ate lasagna and even more chocolate cake.
The cupcakes for yesterday's birthday party for Dave went over very well. They were cooked from a white cake mix from ALDI with a white icing also from ALDI. I added blue food coloring to half the icing. This was my first attempt at cupcakes, and first time using the silicone cupcake pan, which I decided I like very much. The downside: I only have 1 cupcake pan, which holds 6 cupcakes, so the 24 cupcakes I cooked took a total of 4 batches.

Cooking today will include sides for dinner when we eat in Muncie with Matt and watch the football game. I'll leave you with a picture I shot while on our way to Josh's parents house for dinner Friday night:

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