Yep, I'm still writing about Betty Crocker. I warned you I had a lot to share!
Again, I want to reiterate that spending those few days with a group of proactive, excited bloggers in the Betty Crocker Kitchens will definitely be one of the highlights of my life. Seriously.
I think maybe because all of us got to just relax and play. You know how it is in Mom World. We watch, we correct, we applaud, but for many of us, we just forget to play.
So this post is dedicated to playing.
Okay, so our little mini-group made this cake. A Jack-O-Lantern Cake. Yep, it was as cool as it sounds. And easy, too. (Tasty is important, but easy is always a bigger selling point for me when it involves cooking or baking, but that's not important right now.)
The cake itself is made in a round oven-proof (Pyrex is my particular brand of choice) bowl.
Our particular group had the added bonus of including Michelle, the food editor for Gourmet Mom on-the-Go who, like a baking-prepared Mary Poppins, carried cake sprinkles and googly eyes in her purse. She pulled them out when it was time for us to decorate our pumpkin cake, much to the delight of myself and our other blog-partner-in-frosting, Julie, of Joy's Hope.
We got to play. In the Betty Crocker Kitchens. For me it was like one of those make-a-wish-type moments.
So we mixed food coloring and added fruit-by-the-foot leaves and an ice cream cone stem/hat. And, of course, the googly eyes. Googly eyes started to show up on everything.
And even if I do say so myself, ours was the best pumpkin. I liked the googly eyes and all, they absolutely gave it personality, but I confess, I liked the finished product better as just a pumpkin cake. (I know. Shut up.)
Here's the recipe:
2 boxes Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® devil's food or white cake mix
vegetable oil and eggs or egg whites called for on cake mix box
Betty Crocker® Fruit Roll-Ups® chewy fruit snack rolls (any flavor)
1. Heat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour 2-quart round casserole or 2 1/2-quart ovenproof bowl. Make 1 box cake mix as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs or egg whites. Pour batter into casserole.
2. Bake devil's food cake 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, white cake about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Remove cake from casserole; place rounded side up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. (Got that? You're making two cakes, each in the casserole dish.)
3. Make and bake remaining cake mix using same casserole or bowl.
4. With sharp knife, carefully slice piece from top of each cake to make flat surface where cakes will be placed together to form pumpkin shape. (Cake scraps can be saved and added to another recipe such as pudding or trifle if desired.)
5. In medium bowl, place frosting; tint with 9 drops yellow and 6 drops red food color to make orange frosting. On plate, place 1 cake, rounded side down. Spread 2/3 cup of the orange frosting over cake almost to edge. Place second cake, rounded side up, on frosted cake to make round shape. Frost entire cake with remaining orange frosting.
6. Trim ice-cream cone to desired height for stem; place upside down on cake. Cut out eyes, nose, mouth, vines and leaves from fruit snack rolls. Place on frosted cake to form face. Store tightly covered at room temperature.
Or you can just watch us do this.... Enjoy.
We're having some fun now, right?
Which brings me to today's giveaway. (What? Another giveaway? That's madness, Marta!)
General Mills has a very cool company store and I shopped around for the items that I wanted to giveaway. (Thanks to GM for generously agreeing to make them available to MBFCF.) And because I'm a complete uber-nerd, this totally caught my eye:
It's a Yahtzee game! A General Mills Yahtzee Game, people!
(Okay, so I bought one for my daughter, Amy Kikita who is a rabid Yahtzee player and I asked General Mills if they could send me one to offer as a giveaway. (Being the generous folks they are, they agreed. I'm sure they scratched their heads a little on this one - "You want a WHAT??" - , but that's not important right now. =D)
So to enter the drawing for today's giveaway, let's talk games.
To be entered in the drawing for the General Mills Yahtzee Game (A Yahtzee game, people!) , just answer one or all of the following questions in the comment section of this post:
Does your family play games?
Do you have a family favorite?
I'll choose a winner on Wednesday, September 15th at 11:00 AM Pacific Time.
I usually do this every six months or so, just to kind of "take the
temperature" of where my life is at the time. I encourage you to do the
same. It's a wonderful way to celebrate the extraordinarily ordinary
lives we lead.
my window... a dozen birds are scrambling for the best
position on the feeder and my roses are in full, glorious bloom. This
puts a big smile on my face.
am thinking... about the many, many plans I already have for
the month of May. (Prepare yourself, Miami!)
am thankful for... my good gringo husband, Eric, who loves
and honors, not just me, but my big, fat, Cuban family.
the kitchen... perfecting a Flan de Queso recipe!
am wearing...dark blue jeans and a dark purple tee, sneakers
(am I the only one who calls them that?) on my feet. I am
creating... a Week in the Life Book (inspired by Ali
Edwards). I took photos all day/every day of last week, documenting
how I spend my days and now I’m working all this week on pulling it
am hoping... the weather will turn beach-warm really soon. I am
hearing... Celia Cruz on iTunes. (Psyching up for Miami.
Around the house... I am decluttering my
office/schoolroom/studio space. We have lots of books that we are
donating to the library. It’s quiet today because only Eric and I are
home. Piles of sheets and towels in the laundry from having my mom as a
of my favorite things... I have a beautiful silver bracelet
that I unearthed while I decluttered my closet. I have been wearing it
constantly. Even though I’m a stay-at-home-mom and really no one is
going to see it, it totally makes me feel good. A few plans for the rest of the week... both of my kids
have STAR testing this week, so I have a light school load for them. I
have an appointment with my Mac Genius at my local Apple Store. This
makes me completely happy. I’ll also be finalizing costumes for Lucy’s
high school production of Fiddler on the Roof this week. And then I
think we’ll go to Disneyland. =D
A picture to share...
My family at the dinner table. I know the picture is not in perfect
focus and that there are dirty dishes still on the table, but it
perfectly captures what our loud and sometimes goofy family
mealtimes look like around here.
Please feel free to join in. Tell me about your day. If you decide
to write this on your own blog or on Facebook, please leave a comment
with a link. Thanks!
We started it about a week ago. One thousand pieces. I think the puzzle was given to Jonathan by one of his friends back on his birthday, but that's not important right now.
Being the uber-geeks we are, we just covered the puzzle at mealtimes and removed the tablecloth again after dinner.
We worked on it for hours. For days. There was a nice rhythm to it, too.
Sometimes one of us would be "feeling it" and just sit for an uninterrupted portion of time in The Zone. Until we'd inevitably get stumped and not be able to find the next piece or we hit a wall. (No, we didn't actually "hit a wall" - oh, you know...)
For days we worked on this one thousand piece puzzle.
Work on it. Cover it. Eat a meal. Uncover it. Work some more.
We even took extra care in the cover-uncover stages to make sure no pieces hit the ground or were swept up in any way.
Our neighbors came over and worked on it with us.
It turns out that this is one of those activities that you can actually engage in and carry on an enjoyable conversation while doing it. But your mind can't really be anywhere else. It's so relaxing. And engaging. Who knew?
Anyway... days and hours of this. One thousand pieces. (And it was this Haunted Mansion Maze thing with hidden messages and little scribbles. Very cool, but hello!one thousand pieces is still one thousand pieces.)
My mom came over and wanted to join in the fun.
And so she worked on it with us. And it was while she was with us that we finally got down to the last few pieces of the one thousand piece puzzle.
Victory was close.... until.... we found we were missing one piece! AAAAHHH!!! Nooooo....
We carefully searched the dining area and living room (my house is small!) and moved furniture and shook out tablecloths and checked the box the puzzle came in.
So we had 999 pieces of our labor mocking us. We despaired a little. One piece made all the difference! (There's a spiritual lesson in here somewhere. I just know it.)
The only place we hadn't checked was in my mom's pocket. Because, who would be so evil as to...???
Yep. She thought it would be hilarious to watch us squirm while we searched for the last piece of the puzzle.
And indeed, she laughed long and hard as she triumphantly pushed the stolen piece into place while we all sat there with our mouths agape.
My husband looked me straight in the eye and said: "The acorn does not fall far from the tree."
These four people went to Las Vegas this past weekend and had to share a two bedroom/two bath condo: (Actually, Amy Kikita was also with us, but I don't know where she was when we were taking this photo and she kept her stuff in her suitcase so she doesn't factor into the following game, but that's not important right now...)
So, here's the game:
Match the Stuff with the Personality
Directions: Match the Personalities (A,B,C,D) with their Stuff (1,2,3,4). (I've included some helpful descriptions.)
A) Lucy - Daughter. 15 years old. Sophomore in high school. Adorable. Girly-girl. B) Eric - The Father. Tech-guy and Internet Marketing Guru. C) Jonathan - Son. 13 years old. Learning about grooming. D) Marta - The Mom. Cuban. This explains everything about her.
So, Adam had a few of his buddies over the other night to play Rock Band.
The big selling point (besides "My mom will feed everyone") was....
"My mom will sooo kick butt er...do well... on vocals!"
And so they came and we played and took turns drumming and playing guitars and vocalizing. Out in the backyard, of course, with the giant screen. (Our neighbors are no longer surprised by any of our antics. *sigh*)
Sometime during the evening the boys decided that the vocalist had to wear The Rock Band Goggles of Death. (How some people were talked into this by other people, I'll never know....)
But I will tell you this: I love that these twenty-somethings still want to hang out here with us. I love that they were so eager to have us play with them. I love that there were no judgments, no "coolness," no tough exteriors. We were all making fools of ourselves, singing at the top of our lungs and having a wonderful time.
Lucy and I were outnumbered ten to two, but we managed to hold our own with all those boys. (Lucky for me, no one picked up the camera while I was wailing into the microphone, but that's not important right now. =D)
And, oh yeah..... guess who scored a 99% for her vocals? ;-)
On December 24th we would rise early to decorate the house and put up the Christmas tree while the pig slowly cooked in its garlicky goodness all day long until we kids weredriven mad from hunger and completely ravenous by the traditionally late dinner hour, but that's not important right now.
But I'm also American. I have gradually learned over the years how other families celebrate Christmas Day and have picked up some traditions that we have made our own.
1) After all the gifts have been opened, the parents hide a pickle ornament somewhere on the Christmas tree. (I swear they exist. Who knew?) 2) Whichever child finds the hidden pickle then receives an extra gift.
My friend, Pam was the one who got me started with this tradition. She sent me a pickle ornament a few years ago and so began A Darby Family Holiday Tradition.
Except for now that they're all older, my kids are all too smart (and a little sneaky) and they can spot the darn pickle from miles away.
So, this year, knowing they'd be looking for the pickle, I fooled them. I hung a little pearl instead. (See it dangling there on the top of this ornament and yes, I know the picture is blurry - that's because I still don't have my real camera back from Olympus. *sigh* So I'll just have to deal, but that's not important right now either.)
So they hunted.... And hunted.... And Jonathan was right there....
But Adam is the most competitive and snatched the victory right out of Jon's grasp. (Of course, Amy Kikita was not at all upset....)
The point of this tradition? (Aside from the extra gift thing...)
I figure it's an updated way to continue the Cuban tradition of driving the kids mad on Christmas.
6. Your worst cooking disaster: I tried to make fried chicken once when I was about 19 and it looked really pretty. Who knew chicken took so long to actually COOK??? (can you say,"disaster?") LOL
7. The color that looks best on you: RED.
8. The color that looks worst on you: Yellow - does it look good on anyone??
9. Your favorite movie of all time: The Princess Bride."Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...
10. The worst movie ever made: Legends of the Fall. (Brad Pitt and his butt made for a boring sub-plot to an already tedious film.)
The Project: I have a dozen other quizzes. I'm giving one to each person in the family and waiting for their answers and compiling them into a book with a section for each person along with photos. I'm doing this for my immediate family - for the 6 of us. But then I thought it might be a cool idea for the rest of my big, fat, Cuban family. So I will be shooting quizzes around this week to the rest of them. The final project being a cool looking 12X12 scrap-photo book from shutterfly.com like the Celebrate Summer 2008 one I made that's up there on the left.
And this morning, the project was on my mind and I wondered if I just put it up on my blog, (no, nobody gets tagged. Just do it if you'd like to play along. Leave your answers in the comment section.) would you indulge me and play along? Thanks!
Inquiring minds want to know.... so... tell me about yourself....