Thursday, February 14, 2013

Farewell Mardi Gras

Ash Wednesday was yesterday, today is Valentine's day, my birthday is next week- Phew! They really beat all of these holidays into you, here, too. It's actually been raining all this week, so a few parades were moved/cancelled. Really, after going to a small family parade in Metairie on Sunday evening, I got most of my carnival spirit out.
Mardi Gras day I was sick. Very sick. I only went out to get eggs at the grocery and EVERYONE and their Granny was sporting festive attire. X's "friend" at the grocery store (a young deaf girl who bags groceries) even commented that we should've all been dressed up!
In New Orleans, all of the kids are out of school for most, or all, of the week to celebrate Mardi Gras. I love having X home. It's taxing at times, but I really like having her here with me and making our own schedule. I tried to incorporate as much holiday fun this week as possible, because she was SO Excited. Who could blame her? Every billboard, bus, commercial, store has had king cakes, masks, costume, beads, bead dogs on them/in them/splattered across them. Not to mention her preschool and friends have made a big deal out of it.
STILL, It's alittle harder for me to get into the spirit, as I am not a Native.
So here's what happened on our days off...

Masks were bedazzled:

Bead Dogs were painted:

Gasp! More King Cake:

(O, the Official King Cake Taster)

And BEADS were caught:

I think we got to do plenty of things this year and I know as the years go on, we will do alot more.

Until next time,
Mom of X & O

Friday, January 25, 2013

Our very first King Cake.

       So here lately, I've become slightly less intimidated by breads. In fact, since I'm beginning to understand how yeast works through lots of patience and practice, I decided what better way to kick-off carnival time here in New Orleans, than to try a king cake recipe.

At our local grocery stores, there are lots of neat "box kits" to create big easy classics, such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo, etc. Right after Christmas this year, I noticed they started putting up the Mardi Gras displays. Right out front (as expected) there were rows of DIY King Cake box mixes - $7.99! Wow! That is just so expensive! So I quickly made up my mind that we were not going to go THAT route. Time to hit up Pinterest.

NOTHING. Okay - NOT nothing. Very limited! Everytime I clicked a recipe that had a nice picture, it suggested I buy a can of cinnamon rolls and morph them into a circle shape to recreate a King Cake. No thanks. I wanted something real, homemade. I wanted it that way, even if I failed.

So finally after googling "Haydel's King Cake Recipe" (Haydel's is one of the more popular NOLA bakeries), I found where the owners had done a segment with a local new station and it was printed online, recipe and all. Score! 

I recruited my best baking assisstant - X, I began making this recipe:


1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
½ cup all purpose shortening (I used Butter, instead)
4 cups all purpose flour
2 lg. eggs
1 cup milk (room temperature)
2 sm. packs active dry yeast
¼ tsp lemon flavor
¼ tsp orange flavor
¼ tsp vanilla flavor (I ONLY used Vanilla in Mine)
¼ tsp butter flavor
½ cup canola oil (I used Vegetable Oil)
½ cup cinnamon sugar
- In a mixer at first speed combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, salt, and shortening until well creamed. 
- Add eggs and continue to cream. 
- Dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the flavors. 
- Once dissolved add to creamed mixture and continue to mix. 
- Add flour and mix until dough tightens. 
- Remove from mixer and kneed into a ball.
- At this point sprinkle some flour on top and cover with a clean kitchen towel. 
- Allow the dough to rest for 1½ hours. (Mine had to rise for about 2 hours)
- While the dough is resting mix your colored sugars. 
- When dough has rested roll out into an oblong piece.  
- Brush on canola oil covering the entire piece. 
- Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar liberally over the whole piece. 
- Once the dough is covered with the cinnamon sugar and oil, fold it in half lengthwise. 
- Cut into 3 strips and braid the dough. 
- Gently roll the dough by starting at one end and working all the way down to the other end. 
- This will make the dough a nice long piece that can then be shaped into a circle. 
- Once shaped place on a baking pan covered with piece of parchment.  
- Allow the dough to rest again until it doubles in size. 
- Bake at 370 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until dough is golden brown.

I cut this recipe in half, because I wasn't sure that our family of 3 1/2 could handle THAT much cake.
The original recipe can be found here:
WWLTV How To Make A King Cake

X had alot of fun (this was the first time I had her involved in bread making!), although she wasn't interested in waiting for the dough rise, so I baked this guy after the kids went to bed and had her help make icing (powdered sugar and milk whisked together) and we used food coloring (purple, gold, green) to get the Mardi Gras colors we wanted. She was pleased to decorate and EAT!

I thought this recipe was VERY simple (and I am maybe an Intermediate-Skilled Baker).  I loved it so much, that I will be trying it out to make Cinnamon Rolls for my family this weekend, Wish me luck!

Happy Mardi Gras,

Monday, January 14, 2013


New Years Resolutions:
(yes, there's a few...)
1]  Eat well, live well. I'm using this to cover a few areas I want to change. Eating well means do what I've always done: READ LABELS. But now research and be aware of what these ingredients really mean and what they are doing to my family's bodies! I'm sure I'm not the only one who's browsed several of the websites and documentaries dedicated to revealing the truth about what goes in our food. I could go on and on about what all is wrong with processed foods, GMO and corn-fed meat, but I'm sure if this blogging business sticks, everyone will hear all about the feelings I'm developing for our food. I want to cut out "convenience foods" and make as many things from scratch from good (and cheap, if I can help it) ingredients. I want to stay active with my family, too, and increase everyone's quality of life.
2]  Patience. Mostly with my children. I've lived with my sweet husband for long enough to have developed pretty decent patience with his personality. The kids, however, seem to change into different people once a week. Or even several times a day. I need patience to help bring out my childrens' best personalities and moods. This will also keep me half-way sane staying at home!
3]  Organize my life/home and FINISH all projects I begin this year. I have no idea why, but I am the WORST about finishing things. I have so many half-finished ideas and projects laying around my house!
4]  Be involved with my kids. Plain and simple. It sounds easy, but I want to dedicate more time to reading and teaching. 

Although I feel I have many more goals for this year, I can touch on the rest at a later time. It just feels good to start the list and organize thoughts sometimes.

Subjects you can see posted at this blog: Clean cooking, coupon/ad matching, crafting, diy kids projects, personal thoughts on parenting. Lots of cheap/free homemade fun to be expected!

Robin [X & O's mommy]