Monday, July 28, 2014

Birthday Halfsies

Celebrating half birthdays continues to be one of my favorite family traditions.  There are no presents, no Pinterest-worthy parties, nothing fancy...just half of a cake, and maybe, if you're lucky, a cut-in-half birthday card.

lemon poppyseed bundt cake recipe for a half birthday
Even though my mom liked to bake, I remember our half birthday cakes usually being the half Bundt cakes from the grocery store.  See what I mean?  Half birthdays are NOT fancy.  I tend to go the Bundt cake route, too, but not always

lemon poppyseed bundt cake recipe for a half birthday
Bundt cakes can sometimes be dry or dense...too dense.  Not this one.  It's moist, lemony, and topped off with an irresistible lemon cream cheese frosting. 

lemon poppyseed bundt cake recipe for a half birthday
Here's the rule, though:  you must not present the half birthday person with the whole cake.  Give the other half away.  It's fun; I promise.

print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 

{makes 1 Bundt cake...give away the other half for half birthdays!}

for the cake:
1 box lemon cake mix
1 box instant lemon pudding mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
2 TBSP poppy seeds

for the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 lb. powdered sugar
pinch kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

Grease and flour a Bundt pan.  Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all of the cake ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on low until combined.  Increase speed to medium-high and mix for 2 minutes more.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

lemon poppyseed bundt cake recipe for a half birthday
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Place a wire cooling rack on the bottom of the cake (which is facing up).  Invert the pan onto the cooling rack, remove the Bundt pan and let the cake cool completely.
lemon poppyseed bundt cake recipe for a half birthday

To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter together using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer until smooth, combined and fluffy.  Add in the remaining ingredients.  Beat on low until the sugar is incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and mix until thickened and fluffy.

Scoop the frosting into a piping bag, cut off the tip and pipe back and forth on top of the cake.
(Obviously, there is a little Nothing Bundt Cakes inspiration happening here.)

Refrigerate to let the frosting set.  Now, if this is for a half birthday, cut the cake in half and give half away.  Ta-da!  You now have a half birthday cake!
lemon poppyseed bundt cake recipe for a half birthday
*cake recipe adapted from Sample House: Recipes from the Soup Shop and More, frosting recipe is my own.*


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sweet on Trader Joe's Saturdays: Joe-Joe's

For this week's installment, kiddo and I review the famous Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's...the chocolate creme variety. 

trader joe's joe-joes review #traderjoes
There's no description on the box, but you probably get the idea.  They're a rendition of a certain well-known sandwich cookie.

A 20 ounce box sells for $2.99.

trader joe's joe-joes review #traderjoes
My take: Trader Joe's has another hit with these little sandwich cookies.  Very similar in taste and texture to an Oreo.  The chocolate creme is good on its own...yes, I scraped my teeth along a couple of them to see (all in the name of research).  The cookies are crunchy, chocolatey, and not too sweet.
Overall rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kiddo's take: I would take these over Oreos any day. The cookie (once eaten, of course) is bursting with flavor, and the rich chocolate creme sandwiched inside is quite possibly the best I've ever tasted. More, please!
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

trader joe's joe-joes review #traderjoes

Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's: just as good as their famous counterpart.


Want more Sweet on Trader Joe's reviews?  Here are the items we've tried so far:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dad's Greenhouse

*this blog post does not contain sugar.  you've been warned.*

When we visited my dad earlier this summer, we got a look at how his greenhouse is coming along.  I know this post is a departure from the usual...sugar and spice and everything fattening.  So many people were interested in the greenhouse when I posted a picture of it on Instagram, I thought I'd give a closer look here.

So, my dad is building a (giant) greenhouse made of vintage windows, doors, and reclaimed wood.  

Here it is:
upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
I really can't even comprehend how people build things.  It's so impressive to me.  Dad is good at this stuff.

Let's go in...
upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
I love this old door.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
This fan is one that I remember my dad having in the garage ever since I was a little girl.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
The back/side.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
Some of the glass he's had for ages...I remember my mom decorating with them.  Some were picked up at various places for this project.  Most of the wood is reclaimed.  Dad lives at a lake (yes, there's a lake in Amarillo!), so this is old dock wood.
I guess if we were hipsters, we'd call this an upcycled greenhouse.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
These windows will swing open.

upcycled greenhouse made from reclaimed wood, vintage windows and doors
The roof.

I love that my dad is so handy.  He always has been.   I told him that maybe at age 70, he needs to start a new business....kind of like those Treehouse guys on TV. ;)


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