On birthday’s. . . do it like Grandma

Tags

, , , ,

Yesterday was my birthday.

Every year I use my birthday as an excuse to meet up with my girlfriends who though we are always happy to see one another, don’t get that chance as often these days due to location, work, etc.

DSC_2138

This year I decided I wanted to spoil my girlfriends and I wanted to eat things my husband and kids don’t like, like shrimp 🙂

I decided to go crazy with macarons because they are my latest baking obsession and I can have no peace of mind until I can make them perfectly 99% of the time and they have been being very finicky lately. They used to be easy, but either my oven is getting old or some other nuisence is occuring. I had these flavors

DSC_2124

German chocolate, lemon poppyseed, coconut, maple bacon, lavender earl gray, cinnamon, carrot cake and red velvet. 

DSC_2132

I wanted to have less cake, and more options, besides wanting a reason to experiment 🙂 I made dark chocolate cherry mousse bombs, no idea what the proper name of those might be but that is what I call them.

DSC_2152

And I tried a new pumpkin cake recipe for my cake with a lot of yummy chocolate. One benefit of participating in cake contests is meeting other cake bakers and then finding their recipes in blogs and magazines. Thanks to Ginta for this recipe, we enjoyed it. And I tried my tree design that I have been painting on ties for months in chocolate for another new decorating experiment.

DSC_2158

It was so much fun to chat with friends and catch-up, and one of our old friends who I hadn’t invited due to distance (but one friend had shared about the time and date) decided to surprise us by showing up, that made for a wonderful gift since I hadn’t seen her in 2 years.

 

We also had a lovely workshop with each lady getting to mix her own spice/salt mix with some of the wonderful Manas Garšas collection and everyone went home late, happy and eager for our next chance to meet again.

I am so thankful for the friends that God has blessed me with over the last 12 years in Latvia. Each of them is a treasure and encouragement!

DSC_2165

 

I can’t help but be a bit sad too as one year ago my Grandma passed away on my name’s day. As my birthday approached I remembered how she used to say birthday’s need to be celebrated a week, and so I started early with some girlfriends to make her memory live on with me.

My Grandma knew how to celebrate, she was full of life, spunky and energetic even at 86! I wonder if in heaven they are celebrating today, remembering the day she entered those pearly gates? We know there are no tears there and even now I can hear her voice, “Oh baby” as she gave me a nice big Grandma hug. And I can hear her beautiful voice with her delicate Latvian accent as she sang me Happy Birthday. I miss you Grandma, and always will. Happy 1st anniversary in heaven! I love you!

 

 

Advertisements

Monday’s Survival Marshmallow Cookies

Tags

, , ,

I don’t know how you feel about Monday, but for me, it is a day in survival mode.

Getting 2 school kids (grades 1 and 3) back into the groove. Taking my kindergartner to his lessons. Taking the baby to his physiotherapist. Music school for the girlie.  And making sure my oldest goes back to see the teacher at the school for his extra lessons in Latvian requires a lot of time management. But the WORST part of the day is when I get my kids back grumpy and my son still has to finish his homework so he can make it to his Lego robot club. The past 2 weeks since he had to start seeing his teacher after school we have had to skip this club because there is just isn’t enough time to both conquer his attitude, do his homework and make it in time.

I know it is a crazy schedule. Thankfully the baby will be done with his exercising once he learns to crawl. And I would rather have one crazy busy day then spread out the madness a little bit all week.  I like to have some down days in the week too 🙂

Today the kids had a Martiņdiena Market at school and all the grades 2 and up had to bring something baked or homemade to sell for charity.

This year I made sugar cookies for bases, and a fluffy marshmallow for the topping, with lots of sprinkles.

23511325_1977206929234820_7249050191947758330_o

So if you are in need of a little survival mode Monday or a quick bake sale cookie, or school treat you can whip some of these up.

23549969_1977207005901479_8775951192196789484_o

There are so many sugar cookie recipes out there on the internet that you can just google one of those. Here are a couple I found that look good.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookie 

Chocolate Sugar Cookies. Try them with a chocolate sugar cookie base. Haven’t tried this recipe, but I have her book 🙂

For the marshmallow toppin, I used my all time TOP favorite baking blog Sweetapolita’s recipe. And of course, I have her book too because I just adore her blog.

Marshmallows

So good luck and hope you survived your Monday!

Have a great week!

 

An Eclair Thing

Tags

,

Ever since I saw a Instagram post of Anna Panna’s adorbable eclairs I have been a little bit crazy about the idea of a new do on eclairs.

My Dad absolutely loves eclairs and last time he was here I took him to a lot of the local bakeries so he could have them. He loved them fresh and stuffed to the gills with whipped cream.

For me, I love something new, tantalizing, unusual, and pretty. So one day while in Riga I made a special trip to that area of town, just so I could try Anna Panna’s eclairs. It was expensive but creative and I liked it!

This summer I have made some eclairs, nothing as fancy as I”d like to try because I am always short on time when I need them and don’t have time to make the cream fillings I want to experiment with- but I will keep this idea burning and when I get that perfect reason I will play with my ideas till I get them perfect.

Until then here are my summer eclairs for various occasions 🙂

And these were made in honor of my sister coming to visit after 6 years. Yeah, I live across the ocean.

20170817_182756

 

Hump Day Banana Cake

Tags

, , , ,

DSC_1354

Since my kids started school Sept 1 I have been in an attitude battle with myself. I know you’d think this would be the kids, but no, it’s me.

The reason is I hate the running, the waiting and the new schedule of school, music school and all the little club things we are going to spend our lives on the next 9 mos. I don’t hate the actual things, just the process of waiting and running. And until I get used to this new schedule after a peaceful summer I am just so tired. I feel like hitting the sack at 9 p.m. and usually, I am a night owl. This just goes to show how tiring this is 🙂

I have been stuck in a cake rut recently too and had been baking other things as much as possible to avoid them. But then today bananas were on sale, you know the ones that are perfectly ripe and ready for use. My mind quickly realized that I had all the other ingredients at home, forgetting that I didn’t have much butter because butter prices have flown through the roof here lately- but I managed with a bit of oil for a substitute.

I decided this would be our hump day cake, because you know if you are gonna have a cake you should have a reason, right? 🙂 Mondays are crazy for us, with all 3 of the older kids having the most running. So by the time we reach Wednesday I am definitely feeling a reason to celebrate.

This cake consists of a sand crust base, a caramel filling, lots of bananas and a whipped cream top, something similar to Banoffee I’d say. One thing to remember is to splash a squirt of lemon juice on them and toss before putting in the cake- I think I forgot to do do that this time. I was baking bread, making supper and trying to can salsa all while doing this and am really not sure- but the brown banana on the side seems to tell the real story.

DSC_1376

My favorite part of baking cakes is the decorating and when you are in a pinch and don’t have any fresh berries or fruit on hand it is an exciting challenge to come up with some new things to decorate with.

I realized as I decorated this cake and used 4 things that don’t normally go on cakes that my excitement for cakes had returned. And it wasn’t because this cake was so exhilarating, rather that the creative process of coming up with original ideas for decoration challenged me and got those creative juices flowing that I so need and love to use in my cakes.

So stop on over, and grab a few of the last crumbs of this cake- because the kids loved it and it is nearly gone.

Ratings :

K-boy age 5- One million stars

 

 

Polka Dot Cake Theme

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

This order was so much fun to make with the polka dots- macarons and bright colors.

Details:

Bottom layer:

  • Lemon sponge with lemon mousse and lemon curd filling + strawberry slices.

Top layer:

  • Lemon sponge with rhubarb jam and mascarpone cream filling.

Macaron cookies in 3 colors

  • Blue- with blueberry buttercream filling.
  • Yellow- with lemon curd filling.
  • Pink- with raspberry mascarpone filling.

Lapsas Maja

Tags

, , , ,

20160614_122357

I first noticed this cafe a long time before I had the time to go in as I would pass it every time I had to visit my midwife.

I finally had the time parking wise to stop in and I was SO glad I did. I had salad with chicken, and a mushroom pastry which was out of  this world. I loved that they had options that other bakeries do not have- like the mushroom filled pastry. Yum! I also had a lovely Illy coffee latte and some of the best biezpien (quark) cake that I have ever had. It still lives on in my memory – moist, delicate, fresh!

So if you are in Aganskalna, on Marupe street be sure to stop in to this cute cafe bakery for a light lunch, or some tasty pastries!

20160614_122917

Mom’s Buttermilk Waffles

Tags

, ,

From the time I was a kid I remember loving waffles. Perhaps it’s because a family with 4 kids rarely makes them due to the time it takes to cook enough for everyone to eat and the wait time involved.

When I was in England visiting my cousin I loved their family tradition of having the waffle iron on the table and cooking and eating them together thus avoiding the work of one person cooking for the hungry tribe and never getting to sit down. Also waffles are best right off the iron and having everyone at the table together makes a nice family meal with time to talk while waiting.

I am lucky enough to have a waffle iron which cooks two waffles at the same time, which moves things along.

When I first moved to Latvia I could not find a Belgium waffle iron anywhere. I wanted at best something with deep squares- but no such luck for me as at that time they  were hard to find and expensive.

With 4 kids of my own, I seldom make waffles. Especially because our pancake cook in the house is usually my husband on Saturday mornings, and he doesn’t like making waffles. Therefore I use this  morning tradition of ours as a chance to sleep in a few extra minutes with the baby.

So here is a good waffle recipe, tried and true from my Mom.These will be soft unless you cook them longer and browner until crispy (which is the only way to eat a waffle in my mind). However, if you want it crispy then you must eat it immediately as when it cools it will be soft again. I love to eat them with a dab of butter and maple syrup like my Mom used to. As a kid the whole butter on pancakes and waffles was weird- but now it reminds me of my childhood in the USA and my Mom.

20170310_090531

Ingredients:

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk (I used kefirs, or a mix of kefirs and milk)

1 t. baking soda

2 cups flour

2 t. baking powder

6 T.oil

Dash of salt

 

Method:

Whisk eggs, then whisk in milk and oil.Add baking powder and soda and whisk to avoid clumps. Gently stir in flour- being careful not to over stir. Ladel onto hot waffle iron and cook according to your liking and as required by your waffle iron.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Princess Cakes

My latest orders have included a couple of princess cakes, which have been a fun change.

These were both honey cakes. Honey cake is my ALL time favorite cake and yesterdays had a7 layers to it with the delicious sweet yet sour filling.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it and the little girl’s were delighted.

Here is to lots more princess cakes in the months to follow!

A Soup a Day

Tags

,

Our 3rd child likes to say he doesn’t like foods. Even before he has tasted them. He likes to do this especially if he sees soup set before him.

Now I love soup, especially now when it is winter. Pair that with fresh bread or crackers and I am all set. But soup is not only comforting, and great for those colds, but is also practical. . .

My kids have been sick one by one for the last 3 weeks and that is so draining. Now the baby has it and that is just so sad when baby has his first cold. . .For me soup is easy, make a big pot and eat leftovers. 🙂

img_20170104_121500

 

I have also made crackers 2 times this month because they are just so tasty and we have been stuck at home for so long.

I have been making pumpkin soup quite a lot lately to use up those last little pumpkins from the garden and my husband said it was the best he had ever had. That was the last time when I garished it with pumpkin seeds- but I was out this time because those went into the crackers 🙂

When serving a blended or creamy soup I love to garnish with something crunchy. Yesterday our pumpkin soup was garished with crushed chips, and sunflower seeds. The kids get excited to eat the soup when the see the little pieces of chips  in it.

And if that doesn’t inspire those little ones like my boy- try a competition. He hates to be last and when challenged to eat his soup before his big brother got to the table he jumped in and ate the whole (little) bowl in record time!

20170116_175108

The pumpkin soup recipe I used for my base is this one by Jamie Oliver– but I added 1-2 potatoes, and celery root instead of celery stalks because that is what I had at home.

What are your favorite soups?

I’d love to get your recipes, share in the comments below.

 

Crackers

Tags

, , ,

20170116_175537

These have been a favorite cracker in our home for a long time now. Thanks to Elina for the recipe she copied out of a magazine and gave me. My friend Gunta inspired me to make a larger batch and freeze some for later- thus always having some dough on hand.

You can divide the dough in balls and roll each one individually or roll it out and cut them with cutters like we did.

Healthy, and yummy and sure to please even the youngest in the family.

Ingredients:

250 g. flour ( 2 1/4- 2 1/2 cups)
50 g. flax seeds ( 1/2 cup) ( I use other seeds too depending on what I have at home, sesame, pumpking, sunflower, etc)
150 g. whole wheat or rye flour ( 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 t. salt
20 g. sugar (3-4 T)
1/2 t. baking soda
50 g. melted butter (6 T)
240 ml. kefirs, sour milk, buttermilk ( 1 cup)

Method:

  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Mix wet ingredients and stir into dry to form ball.
  3. Knead as necessary, and divide into balls of teaspoon size.
  4. Roll dough in balls, or roll and cut.
  5. Place on lightly greased cookies sheet.
  6. Prick with a fork.
  7. Bake at apx. 175 degrees C or 350 degrees F until golden.