Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rainbow Cupcakes


Our Lucy had been requesting a baking session for a while , I promised her that this spring break we will do more baking. Since I am the Queen of " lets make this easy" baking, I grabbed a good old friend from our pantry..cake mix! From a shortcut cookie to loaf breads, the recipes are endless. If you want to have fun in the kitchen with your kids without baking from scratch..this is for you. Quick and easy..right up my alley.




Lucy and me. Seriously kid..stop growing!




Ingredients:

1 package of white cake mix  with the needed Ingredients to make the cake
food color

Optional:
Sprinkles
Homemade Icing or store bought ( recipe below)


Directions:

Make the white cake mix following the package instructions. Line your pans with cupcake liners.
Divide the batter into equal parts, We decided on four different colors. You can make more colors if you want or just stick to 3.. totally up to you. Whatever hits your fancy. We used gel food coloring..


Mix in your food color into your batter, about 2-3 drops on each bowl. Make sure you use 4 different stirrers. They loved the mixing part...


How cute is she ? Lily who refuses to help without her apron. She loves everything purple.


And I love the ohhh's and ahhh's ... who knew mixing the batter can be so mesmerizing for kids..
While the kids are completely in awe with the mixture, Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees.


How colorful are they!!


I then carefully , spooned each color of the batter into the lined cupcake baking pans. I used 4 different scooper (or spoons). I really wanted to make sure I don't mess up the colors.

You can just make 3 layers of color..



or four...

Just do not overfill each cup.


Transfer to a cooling rack. Let it cool completely.



Very cute and easy to make with your kiddos. Sometimes we just have to let go of the mess so we can enjoy these little moments with our kids.
Whip up some frosting too!


Here's a couple of homemade frosting recipe :

Homemade Frosting Recipe 1 (milk and butter)

Homemade Frosting Recipe 2 ( whipped cream)



Happy Baking!
















Monday, March 9, 2015

Caramel Heath Cupcakes

Last year, I brought this sweet treat for our church group. We meet every Tuesday, it is a Bible base  marriage center group . It is such a blessing to get to know and mingle with other wonderful couples. We rotate on snacks , and this cupcake was a hit.

Since we meet on a school day, it is a little bit challenging to come up with something easy.Sure, it's easy to grab a package of store bought treats but this recipe( originally a cake sheet recipe) is very easy to make.

Most of the ingredients might already be in your pantry.



It is always good to stock up on a few of cake mixes when they go on sale. When they do reach rock bottom prices, do pick up a few. It is very handy for making deserts , homemade but quick and yummy.


Ingredients:

CUPCAKE:

1 Box of Chocolate Cake mix ( Devils food cake is also good) and the ingredients needed to make it. ( prepare according to package instructions)
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Caramel sauce , you can make this homemade , see here : Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce
1 cup Heath bar Candy pieces , crushed.

FROSTING:
5 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar


Directions:

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cupcakes using the cakemix , prepare according to package instructions.


Here's our not so little Lily bug, helping momma.  Our kitchen is not as clean as it appears to be when this munchkin helps but for the memories, totally worth the mess. ( after the..breathe in..breathe out..it's just a mess eh?)


Line cupcake tray with paper liners . Fill 15-18 cupcake liners with 1/4 cup of the batter only. Do not overfill.



Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes , insert a toothpick in the center..when comes out clean ..it is ready.

Let it cool , Using the end of a wooden spoon ..poke holes on each cupcakes..3 or 4 is plenty.

In a bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup caramel sauce.


Use a piping bag or a Ziploc bag ( cut/ snip off in the corner), pour the sauce on each of the  holes. 
Set aside.


 Make the frosting by combining the flour with 1 cup of milk in a saucepan. Stir and whisk continually until the mixture is really thick.


Let this thick mixture cool completely , place in the fridge for 10 minutes.  When the mixture cooled , cream together butter and sugar, until well combined. Add in vanilla and mix in until well incorporated. Add in the thickened milk and flour mixture , mix on low for about 30 seconds. Turn your mixer to high and mix until the frosting is light and fluffy. Similar to the whipped cream consistency.


Place the frosting into a piping bag or just a Ziploc bag ( snip off the end) . Beautifuly pipe the frosting on each cupcake. Don't forget to top it off with crushed Heath bar pieces.


They are not just lovely to look at but delicious with every bite.


I must admit though , it is messy to eat with all the caramel goodness inside.

I didn't mind it, it is just so good!



If you like this recipe, feel free to share it and pin it!

Happy Baking!









Friday, March 6, 2015

Worry Free International Travel with Kids

  Well, look who's back?!!! Yours truly.. My quick hiatus turned into months long break. It was crazy busy last holiday season, between school events, church and planning for a trip ..it got really hectic. I love to blog and I just could not get myself to write just to publish something. And besides, I always advocate spreading love with the one closest to you..your family. I did enjoy the break!






    We spent our holidays in Philippines, We are so elated and blessed to have this opportunity to see our family. I must say that I've heard bothersome stories about traveling with kids..young..think of a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old. It did worry me at first but we prayed and I told myself that this blessing doesn't come very often..so I will enjoy every minute of our travel. It is our first International travel as a family. Call us brave I guess, We are a testimony that traveling with kids is not as awful as you may think.  Every situation , every  family is different of course  and every child is different , know that our suggestions here are merely based on our own experiences.

1. Call ahead for kids meal.

            You can call your airline to request a kids meal ( under the age of 12) in flight. Ask for their policies first, while some may offer it for free,  others may have an extra charge. Most airlines provide special in flight meals , for those who can not eat the provided regular in-flight meal -- for babies, toddlers and children ( 2-12 yrs old) and due to health conditions , age , religious practices.We flew with Asiana, We must say we are pretty impressed with their kids meal.

2. Pack snacks and an empty water bottle.

              Yes, you can pack snacks for your kids. Just make sure that it is a non messy snack ( sorry chocolates) Instead pack their all time favorite snacks. Pack snacks like granola bar , pretzels, raisins and fruit snacks.
             I don't know about you but I have a problem buying a $3-4 water bottle. It is the 4 of us traveling so buying those bottles can add up really fast. You can fill up the bottles ( water fountains)  after the checkpoint. We used  Contigo Autospout Addison Water Bottle.
   
 3. Pack activities for the kiddos and some for you .

              Divide certain activities depending on the length of your trip. Since we had the red eye  trip, I pretty much know that they will not be needing one on the first leg of our trip. Going to Philippines, we had a quick lay over in Korea. It is just enough time to go through another checkpoint and then find our gate. So the flight from Korea to Philippines, we made sure that it was well divided into 4-5 hrs. You wont need much though, there is a movie with a lot of choices for kids in flight.  
                Here's a few of what we brought:
                - pipe cleaners ( tons of things you can make with wonder fuzzy sticks)
                - sticker books
                - Highlights Hidden Pictures ( with paid subscription) See here for info
                - coloring books and crayons ( small pack) or just download some pages from the internet.

We also printed some of their favorite characters , Dora for Lily and Little Pony for Lucy.
                -  Melissa & Doug Design-Your-Own Bracelets

 
                  - Books to read :
 

 


 

            We packed sets of activities (2 , one for each kid) in a ziploc bag , so I don't have to choose from the variety. I'll just grab one.

4. Rewards.
We prepared a few small baggies ( gift bags) with inexpensive toys. Just small enough so it is not that bulky for your carry on.  It can be challenging to reason out with a two year old that she needs to stay buckled until the pilot says it's safe to take it off. Either during take off or landing or when needed due to turbulence. We are not afraid to reward them for staying buckled and seating still.  Those little toys are handy during lay overs or those long lines at check points.

5. Traveling with kids does have PERKS.

                Call your airlines and ask about any special family services. They are very accommodating when they see that you have kids in tow.  As with our experience, we were able to avoid the lines at the check in area and boarding area. They let you go first , right after the seniors or passengers with disabilities. BUT , at the NAIA Airport ( Manila, Philippines) it was a different story. They only prioritize female passengers traveling with kids without another parent or guardian. Needless to say call ahead as every airline and airport have different and awesome support or services for families traveling with kids and babies.

6. Know the airport.

             I did research in advance as far as the lay out of the airports ( including the lay over). You may be surprised on how awesome some of the airports are. We really loved the Incheon ( Korea) Airport, they do have a nice sleeping area , kids area ( play area), internet area ( though most airports offer free WiFi) , shower area and so on. In that way, you can kind of plan ahead specially if you have a long lay over.(like us!)

7. Take turns

             Lets face it..traveling internationally is exhausting. I advise that parents take turns. Let the husband stroll around the shops or look for a nice coffee shop while you take charge of the kids. Give each other a breather.

8. Pack your carry on wisely and bring an (umbrella) stroller.

             Yes, you can bring a stroller. A lightweight , small and foldable in straight line(umbrella stroller). As far as the car seat is concerned , we did request for one .The airline said,since she is already two yrs old, there is no need for it. Pack your carry on very wisely, remember .. it is also nice to enjoy the journey not just the destination and carrying a heavy  carry on would not only leave you feeling like a packing mule but exhausted..beyond words. Trust me..we learned from this.

9. Relax

          Don't stress yourself thinking how well ( or not) will your kids behave on the flight. Sometimes, not over controlling the situation is the key. They will at some point fuss, complain..talk..and talk some more, after all they are kids right? You may encounter some bad looks, some unkind comments but hey.. we can not please everybody. You will be surprised as well at how many passengers , strangers , even the flight attendants will step up to help you.

10. Pray

         Nothing else can calm you down like a good talk with the Lord.


 -- Philippians 4:6-7
" Don't worry about everything, instead pray about everything. Tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do these you will experience God's peace which is far more wonderful than the human can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. "


Don't forget to pin and share!








How We Paid Cash for our International Travel