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Friday, November 23, 2012

Ava's first Thanksgiving!

Little Pilgrim!
First Thanksgiving that we are spending together with the four of us. Lots to be thankful for, like the picture above, Joseph being the great big brother he is. Always willing to give Ava a hand without asking. Ava is very lucky to have Joseph and let's hope she doesn't boss him around too much when she is older!

Each year now for Thanksgiving we like to keep the meal planning as simple as possible. Last two years instead of getting a whole raw turkey or raw turkey breast to bake, we buy it the morning of Thanksgiving from the deli section at the local market. Meat is cooked in their oven and it is always tasty and fresh. Last year we only got the dark meat and this year we decided on turkey breasts. This helps to free up the oven space to do other baking like the sweet potato and warming of other dishes.

Very flavorful and yummy!
Always got to have the green beans no matter what. And we do prefer the french green beans over the fatty ones. I usually blanch the green beans first before a quick sauteed with onions and mushrooms with some salt and pepper. That is all you need to keep it fresh and light.
We always prefer sauteed green beans with cremini mushrooms and onions.
Mashed potato is the most basic, this year I roasted a whole head of garlic to give it that sweet garlic tasty but without the garlic bite.

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
 The #1 most requested item on Joseph's Thanksgiving meal. The one and only sweet potato and marshmallows. However, since we had a butternut squash sitting around, I added some to the mix and added some butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I even went above and beyond by placing each marshmallow standing up!

Sweet potato and butternut squash with marshmallows
 Since this is Ava's first Thanksgiving and just in time to start eating human food, I plated her little Thanksgiving dinner for her. She has a little pile of mashed potato with the turkey gravy, diced turkey breast, diced green beans, some sweet potato/butternut squash with marshmallows, and a piece of crescent roll for the gold! She ate that all up and loved every bite of it!!
Ava's first Thanksgiving! Her modified baby plate of her food.
 Here is the adult version of Ava's dish. Soon enough she will be eating like us all!

Mommy's adult version.
And what's a Thanksgiving without some good ol' Julian pies? Since Joseph finished the pumpkin pie from Costco earlier in the week, I decided to get Julian pumpkin and apple pie. We ate them nice and warm with french vanilla ice cream. However my mom preferred it with her Haagen Dazs green tea ice cream.

Super Asian style here with the green tea ice cream!!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Snapshots from the iPhone- Cute edition

Recent pictures from my iPhone...summer to now. With lots of pictures of Ava and some food and Joseph and his Angry Bird obsession. Life is good and life is happy.
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ombre cake! Ava's birthday cake test run

When I first saw an ombre cake on Pinterest, I knew immediately that I wanted a cake like that for Ava's first birthday. I've baked lots of cakes before but I didn't just want any boxed cake with pre-made buttercream. Since it was her first, I wanted something light and less sugary so she can have a bite at her party. I decided to do a trial run to make sure I knew the amount I needed, timing, and insanity to put it all together on top of everything else.

I've always preferred asian cakes because its more airy and light and they usually cover the cake with a whipped frosting instead of buttercream. We just like everything with less sugar in general. I found a chiffon cake recipe from Martha Stewart's website. I think we really sets this cake apart is the use of cake flour and safflower oil. I used three 9 inch cake pans with a bake time of 25 minutes in this recipe.

For the cake:

2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup safflower oil
7 large egg yolks plus 9 large egg whites
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Wilton gel food coloring (I used the ROSE one)

For the whipped cream:

 2 cups cold heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling


1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Whisk together oil, egg yolks, and milk in a large bowl. Whisk flour mixture into egg-yolk mixture.

2. Beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and vanilla seeds or extract, and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk one-third of the egg-white mixture into batter. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining egg-white mixture with a rubber spatula.

3. Grease the cake pans, dust with cake flour and line the bottom with parchment paper before pouring in the batter.

4. Transfer batter evenly to three, 9 inch cake pans. I used one half toothpick dipped of the gel food coloring for the first pan, then two half toothpicks for the second, and lastly three half toothpicks for the third. Move in a clockwise motion with a fork until completely colored. My first attempt was short in one pan. Bake until top of cake springs back when touched, about 25 minutes. Let cool on racks until.....cool.

5. Whisk heavy cream and confectioners' sugar in the mixer to a sharp peak. Depending how you style the outside, you can even go for soft peaks for the whipped cream. Once the cakes are cooled, use a cake leveler to slice excess off. Add a think layer of whipped cream between each layer (1/8" to 1/4" would work). Continue to cover the cake and style however you like it. I decided to go with a rustic spackling kind of look.

It is good to always do a test run, you can see in the final I did not mix the coloring in completely. Since this chiffon cake calls for folding in the whipped egg whites, I did not feel comfortable going crazy with it. On top of that I did not want to risk ripping the parchment paper I had in the bottom of the pan. I also did double the whipped cream portion to make sure I had enough to fill in between the layers and the outside since the "spackling" needed a whole lot more whipped cream.

But actually the end result came out pretty nice! The cake was very light and definitely does not feel heavy at all. I might add some strawberries or a mixed fruit to serve with it. I know for the final run, I will definitely add more whipped cream in between each layer, portion the batter in each pan evenly, and mix the gel food coloring together better.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ava's month 11 with Joseph

This picture says it all...
 As I am narrowing down the plans for her first birthday party, I am still amazed that the time is almost finally here. I wish I can just pause at this time and keep it like this forever. This is one of my favorite baby stages, from her knowing some basic gestures to knowing what she wants and when she wants it. It is exciting to know she is trying to communicate with us. These next couple weeks will consist of lots of picture taking cause I know it will just fly by before I know it.

Brother and sister love.
Joseph has been getting more comfortable about picking up Ava and keeping her away from dangers areas, mainly HIS ROOM. But honestly, his room is full of danger toys. Just as Ava is growing fast, so is Joseph. He recently lost his first tooth and now tells me he doesn't need my help when going to the bathroom at Taekwondo. Talk about being independent!

Angry Bird obsessed!
Angry bird obsession is still alive and full blown. I think for awhile he was starting to move on to something different. Until he found Evantube channel on YouTube. Outfit below is a new one since the weather has finally gotten a little bit more like winter. My mom decided to put on one of several new outfits that was untouched in her closet. (Which I should probably sort some out....)

Look Ma! I'm really trying to figure out this walking thing without hands!!

My little sweetheart!
The one thing Ava really enjoys doing is reading books. I can even pinpoint her favorite one at the moment. It is called, "I Love You Through and Through". I used to read it to Joseph every night and he loved it. So I am really glad Ava enjoys it too.

Chilling by the stairs just reading..
Cute sheep plush I found at Target..so cute I went back for two more
Handing down orders to the sheep,....BAAAAAA.. 
 We recently started giving her food to feed herself. It took awhile because we were afraid she would choke and just recently noticed she did not care much for the baby food we were bringing home.
Enjoying my banana
Hopefully tomorrow I can do a test run of her birthday cake. So many great plans but never enough time!!

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's a Happy Halloweenie with lots of candies!

Finally Ava's first Halloween! Having Halloween definitely made things a bit hectic this year. I had to bring a potluck item to work and also a potluck item to a neighborhood Halloween Party. I found some great ideas on Pinterest and decided on the chocolate covered pretzel rods. Simple enough right? Dark chocolate was easy but the white chocolate was a little harder to work with. So here's the end result, was a total hit at the neighborhood Halloween party for the kids!

Eye catching sprinkles and ghosts!
Someone brought these wormies! I have to find out how to make these!!
For Ava's first Halloween I knew I wanted her to be Snow White. I've been lugging around these 7 dwarf plush from Japan for probably 15 years!! Joseph's costume was....well easy enough. I had to just get him a t-shirt for his Minecraft Steve character.

My Snow White Princess!

There is my Minecraft Steve and Ava in her Radioflyer carriage!
Joseph as Minecraft Steve
Part of any baby's first holiday, it's a must to get those fleece suits. So since we had some time before the actual trick or treating started, we put her in the outfit for some photos! Her little pumpkin top headband I found in the dollar bin at Target. Best place to find cute and cool knick-knack stuff.

It was definitely a great Halloween. Joseph's first with his baby sister and Ava's very first! Can't wait to start brainstorming for next year :)

LOVE LOVE LOVE this picture!


Living the life in her carriage with her entourage!!

We even had baby T come visit!

Little Chef! Super cute!!
Angry Bird pumpkin!

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