Thursday, February 11, 2016

Easy Homemade Buttercream Frosting - Take Two

Let's talk Buttercream Frosting.


I knew I wanted to make Mason's 1st Birthday Cake the moment we started planning the party. I LOVE Buttercream Frosting (it's my most viewed post EVER on the blog!!) but I couldn't decide if I should keep it simple or add in blueberries. Blueberries are Mason's favorite fruit and I thought it would be fun to change it up a little.

But as life typically goes these days, I ran out of time and ended up having to settle for just a simple Buttercream Frosting. Which isn't really "settling" because even at its simplest form, it's HEAVEN.


After I whipped up the Buttercream, I added a thick layer of frosting in between the two rounds of yellow cake. (I used the King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix - SO GOOD!!!) And then frosted the top and sides.


Don't forget the sprinkles!


I loved the way his cake turned out - which is a good thing, seeing as how I ate most of it!

We made a rookie mistake and fed Mason lunch just before his cake, so his belly was super full. He took a few bites from us but that was it. No smashing, which was a little disappointing but whatever - it's his birthday!

Plus I didn't mind helping out with that cake. It was so good!

I highly recommend making your own Buttercream the next time you need frosting. It's so EASY to make and tastes ten times better than pre-made.

EASY Homemade Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened – not melted
  • 3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED  
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk
Sifting your powder sugar is very important! Without the sifting your frosting could be clumpy.

Instructions

-Start by beating the butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until the butter has broken down and begins to look whipped.

-Stop the mixer and add in your sifted powdered sugar. Cover your mixer and bowl with a towel and turn your mixer on the lowest speed for 30 seconds to a minute. (This keeps the powdered sugar from poofing up in your face and all over your counter!)

-Increase the speed to medium and add the vanilla, salt, and 2 tbsp. of the milk. Beat for 3 minutes on medium.

You’re done! Need thicker icing? Add more powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time. Need a thinner icing? Add more milk a tablespoon at a time. You could also add in food coloring at this point if you wanted a more festive frosting!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mason Modesto Turns One


Happy 1st Birthday Mason Modesto Ravelli!

And in the blink of an eye - a year has passed. 

It always seems so cliche to hear parents talk about how quickly time passes. I've heard "the days are long but the years are short" no less than a dozen times this past week and my mama heart aches with that truth. 

In some ways it feels like just yesterday that I was holding a teeny tiny baby in my arms for 18 hours of the day. Now I have a very busy baby toddler on my hands. And while he still wants me to hold him, 27 squirmy pounds feels a little different than 10 pounds of baby love. 

But what a fun year it has been!

Quite literally the BEST year of my life, filled with so many highs and so many lows (sleep deprivation is real y'all) but most of all - SO MUCH LOVE. 

It takes a village to raise a child and that's because the parents need the support! I am so amazed by how truly incredible our support system is. From hand-me-down clothes and toys to phone calls to discuss how to actually throw a kid's birthday party to sending pictures of diaper rash - Parrish and I are so blessed with good family and friends. 

Which in turn means Mason is blessed, and there is nothing better than LOVE from your friends and family. That's the only gift you need when you're turning ONE. 

Well that....


and a cool car to get around town.

So what does one look like for Mason Modesto? I thought we could look at it in numbers, since this post has been so numeral focused.

12 - the number of books we read in the afternoon. Mason LOVES books. He received a few new books for his birthday, and I'm excited to change it up!

11 - the pounds of strawberries this kid eats in a week! I can't wait until the season starts this spring. Local strawberries are going to blow his mind.

10 - the seconds that pass by until he smiles again. Mason is a smiley, happy, funny baby. His humor is my favorite.

9 - the number of meatballs he eats in a day.

8 - the number of toy balls that he currently plays with. In food and play, balls are the best.

7 - days a week that this kid is walking! Mason took his first steps shortly before Christmas and he hasn't stopped since.

6 - the number of kitchen gadgets he is currently playing with! Salad spinner, sifter, whisk, measuring cup, spatula, and mixing bowl.

5 - the number of days he spends at Semilitas, the in-home childcare place that we just LOVE. Mason gets some FUN baby time and is always happy to be dropped off.

4 - the amount of toys currently being rotated in the bath to play with. Bath time is so much fun - it's everyones favorite part of the bedtime routine.

3 - the number of pacis in his crib. Once Mason started sleeping through the night, we decided to just toss some extra pacis in there for good measure. This has worked SO WELL and now if his paci falls out, he just feels around until he finds another one. #geniusbaby

2 - toys in his hands that he will hit together. This little trick started a few weeks ago and it never gets old. He gets one item in each hand and then enthusiastically beats them together. So proud.

1 - episode of Peppa Pig while he gets his diaper changed. Seriously - God Bless Peppa Pig, that is the only way Mason is laying flat on his back for any amount of time when he would rather be playing!



Happy Birthday Little Buddy! Your first year has been an absolute BLAST - we can't wait to see what year two will bring!


And I'll be back on the blog tomorrow to talk about THIS CAKE that I made. BEST gluten free cake ever and that homemade buttercream frosting!!!!!!!!! So good and SO easy - you'll never buy premade frosting again.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Gluten Free Snow Day Essentials



If you live on the eastern seaboard, then chances are, you just might be waking up to an unexpected snow day today!

Here in NC, we woke up to a state of emergency and a forecast predicting ice, snow, and freezing rain - at 6:30 am I can see the snow already starting to fall! And yes, we live in the South, so even a dusting causes SNOW PANIC and SNOWMAGEDDON and of course, a SNOW DAY for me!

In my younger days I would have made sure my pantry was stocked with wine and pizza, but I thought it would be fun to let you guys in on my #winterstormjonas shopping list.

- Immaculate Baking Company Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (so good!!!)

- Taza Chocolate (perfect for making hot chocolate)

- Ingredients for Skinnytaste Cheeseburger Casserole  (yes, I'm already making this a second time. So good!)

- Cabot Cheese Extra Sharp Cheddar (nothing like a warm gooey grilled cheese after playing in the snow)

- Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Mountain White Bread (see above grilled cheese comment!)

- Toilet Paper (not the most fun item but necessary)

- Ace Space Blood Orange Apple Cider (just tried this for the first time at my local beer store, The Glass Jug. So good! Perfect for brunch!)

What about you? Are you waking up to snow this morning?
What are your Snow Day Essentials?



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

So Many Yummy Recipes, Too Little Time

You know what my meal planning needed?

A BIG CHANGE UP!

Here we are mid-way through the week and not only have we stayed on track (meaning we haven't ordered tacos every single night) but I have really enjoyed my time in the kitchen!

I'll admit it - I was nervous about trying so many new recipes in one week. But I made sure they were easy enough, and I planned a safety meal that could be moved around to another night if I found myself in a bind. 

Which was actually very smart because I totally forgot to put the ingredients in the crock pot for Buffalo Chicken this morning! So now we'll be having that tomorrow night and we were able to enjoy our safety meal, homemade pizza and salad, tonight. (Yes. Instead of ordering tacos!)

And just in case you were wondering...

each meal has been DELICIOUS!

Starting out on Sunday, we enjoyed Cheeseburger Casserole from Skinnytaste.





Even Mason loved it. 



And the leftovers were just as good! (Yes. Diced Pickles on top - just do it!)

Then on Monday we gobbled up a super creamy, super cheesy Pepper Jack Cheese Potato Chowder from Iowa Girl Eats. 



It was SUPER COLD in Durham on Monday, so that chowder really hit the spot.
 
Plus any soup recipe that starts out with crisping bacon in the pot is bound to be good.



Tuesday was another hit from Iowa Girl Eats: Chicken Fajitas



This meal was originally supposed to be Buffalo Chicken, but after the spicy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder, we opted to save that (and our heartburn) for another night. 

And then tonight was our safety meal: homemade pizza and salad. 

No picture there - we ate too fast! 

Mason is going through a HUGE mental leap right now, which has been fun....




and challenging.

Sometimes even "helping" can get rascally! We decided to do a family meal tonight since the pizza and salad were so easy to throw together but between feeding myself, feeding Mason, and fending off the dogs, I didn't have a free hand to snap a pic!

I hope your week is going smoothly - we're readying ourselves for potential winter weather this weekend. I'm not worried though, we're fully stocked with wine and gluten free chocolate chip cookies...you know - just the essentials.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Gluten Free Meals for the Week - Week 3

Happy Sunday!

After a little over a week, I am happy to report that my cold (and Mason's!) is finally losing steam! Praise the Lord - Hallelujah, I am actually starting to feel like myself again.




And don't you know that my little rascal slept in this morning, giving me plenty of time to plan our menu for the week!



I don't know if it's a good idea or a really terrible idea, but I've decided to totally change things up this week and prepare 4 new-to-me dishes. I typically like to try one new recipe a week, but I've been feeling bored and uninspired with all my old recipes. Time to shake things up.

Luckily most of the recipes are simple, and some of the prep can be done ahead of time, so hopefully I'm not setting myself up to fail. I did end up taking one recipe out (Pork Chops) to help save on the grocery bill and ensure that we use all of our leftovers.

Meal Plan for the Week of January 17th:

Sunday: Cheeseburger Casserole from Skinnytaste
Monday: Cheesy Pepper Jack Potato Chowder from Iowa Girl Eats
Tuesday: Crockpot Buffalo Chicken from Skinnytaste
Wednesday: Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with leftovers from Tuesday
Thursday: Chicken Fajitas from Iowa Girl Eats
Friday: Homemade Pizza with Salad

Skinnytaste and Iowa Girl Eats are two of my favorite blogs for recipes. I've never tried a recipe from either of these talented women that didn't turn out great!

Plus, it's going to be really really cold in Durham this week, and these warm, comfort meals sound incredible!

What about you ? What's on the menu this week?

Monday, January 11, 2016

11 Days in and well.....

First, thank you guys so much for your sweet comments and emails after my last post. It was so nice to know that I'm not alone in trying to find that balance between baby time and me time, and you guys had some great ideas and advice.

Unfortunately it's only the 11th and I already feel like my New Year is getting derailed!

Last week went so well! I made it to the gym 2 days in a row and made an awesome meal plan...which we actually stuck to.

Monday: Asian Turkey Meatballs
Tuesday: Chicken Tacos
Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash Enchilada Boats
Thursday: Homemade Pizza and Salads
Friday: Omelets

I planned easier meals on nights that I knew Parrish would be working late and I would be taking care of Mason's bedtime routine on my own. Not having time (or energy) on nights when I'm on my own is what typically leads to us eating out.

Well...that and salsa verde cravings. The struggle is real!

Back to the meal plan - it was a great week. I even tried a new recipe: Skinnytaste Spaghetti Squash Enchilada Bowls. They were SO GOOD.


We added leftover chicken from the night before to give the dish a punch of protein - I can't wait to make these again. Parrish was pleasantly surprised and ended up eating two!

But then on Friday Mason came down with a cold, which he graciously shared with me. After working all weekend, and Mason not sleeping...and me not sleeping well, I woke up this morning feeling just AWFUL. So no meal plan this week (yet) and we're eating pizza tonight.

Ugh. ALTHOUGH it is a special occasion. Who else is watching The National Championship tonight? GO TIGERS!


I feel like sickness is something that has often derailed me in the past - not this time! I may not be able to get a meal plan together this week or exercise, but I am drinking tons of water and watching my portion sizes. Some is better than none right?!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 - The Blog is Back

Happy New Year friends!

I feel like I keep reading this over and over, but I have to say it too - I can't believe it's January!

I think it's safe to say that 2015 FLEW by at record speed. As it turns out, every parent was right, life really does move quickly when you have a baby!

And with Mason, we've had our hands especially full.


Literally y'all! Baby Mason is 26 pounds of squishy baby love, and he is constantly on the go. Crawling, cruising, pulling up - this baby is never in one place for very long.

Our holiday season was a good one - fast but fun. It was hard balancing work life and home life, but luckily I work with a great staff and an awesome team of volunteers who make that work bit easier.

And while the home life was good too, it hasn't been easy. I'm still struggling to figure out who I am in this new world of being Mason's Mom. Breastfeeding really limits my freedom - time wise and diet wise. I have to be available for nursing or pumping so often, and I have to be sure I eat enough in a day to have a good supply. Taking care of myself seems to be the last item on the list...every day. Plus Parrish and I have gotten in to a terrible routine of pizza or tacos for supper for the last 2 weeks!

Which, while delicious, doesn't help my energy level.

So in lieu of "resolutions" for the New Year, I am recommitting myself to healthy habits that I made in past years. I'm starting slow and aiming for a 50/50 balance, meaning if I can just make it to the gym 2-3 days out of the 7 then I will call that a success. Same goes for cooking at home, if I can make a healthy meal 2-3 days out of the 7 then I'm on track.

My hope is that by adding in goals that I've accomplished in the past but on a smaller scale, then I will be able to figure out how to make it all work for 7 days a week later on in the year. Plus, as we get closer and closer to the year mark, breastfeeding is become a teeny tiny bit less of a commitment. Mason's desire is waining and hopefully he'll wean soon.

And luckily I'm not starting from zero, I have maintained one of my healthy habits.

Healthy Habits I’ve Maintained:
- Sweet Tea Ban
Not easy for a Southern gal, but worth it for me! There are so many empty sugary calories in sweet tea and the more I drink unsweet tea with tons of lemon, the more I crave it!

But I still have quite a few that I want to add back in.

Healthy Habits to Bring Back

- Water by the Gallon

I used to drink a gallon of water a day because I exercised so much; I needed the hydration. But now that I'm chasing Mason around all day it has been harder to remember those 8 cups. PLUS Mason is constantly trying to drink out of my cup when I have one on hand, but these are all just excuses. I need more water!
iphonedump may2014 238 

Plus I have a steady rotation of 24 oz. cups with straws that make drinking water super easy. Yes, I am often a lazy human being – it has to be easy!
 -Portion Control
Honestly, this hasn’t necessarily been by choice - I struggle to meet the calorie quota for breastfeeding. BUT emotional eating is becoming an issue again. I have definitely battled with emotional eating in the past, and I can feel it creeping in again. Breastfeeding is not an excuse to eat an entire bar of chocolate.
 -Healthier Salad Dressings and Condiments
I LOVE condiments! Seriously. LOVE. Ditching Ranch Dressing a few years ago was really hard but it made a HUGE difference in my overall health and ability to lose and maintain a healthy weight.
Umm…do you remember when I realized that I was eating 520 calories in Ranch dressing alone?!? Just for one meal?!?
Sadly, exhaustion has made me lazy, and back on the bottled dressing. While I’m definitely not back to where I was before (slamming a bottle a week) I’m not happy with where I am.
I love the Organic Ranch Seasoning from Spice Hunter, but I will use Hidden Valley in a pinch. It’s loaded with MSG but sometimes I pick my battles.

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I also didn’t buy anymore Ranch dressing this past week at the grocery store. There’s a lot to be said for making it less accessible. Laziness always wins out for me.
-Spaghetti Squash Swap
Eating less gluten free pasta is definitely a good thing for me personally: physically and financially. And I do genuinely love the taste of Spaghetti Squash. (Plus it is so darn good for you!) I fell out of the habit for tons of reasons: seasonality, exhaustion, time constraints, laziness…. But I do want to bring it back in to the meal rotation.
Two of my favorite Spaghetti Squash recipes:
Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai
Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
- Getting Regular Exercise

Definitely a tough one. Figuring out WHEN is the biggest issue right now. Even though I'm awake at 5am, I aim to get to work between 7:30 and 8am. Breastfeeding keeps me at the house until 7 am most mornings. I've thought about trying to make it to the gym at night, but this doesn't seem feasible. Hopefully, as Mason begins weaning, I'll have more time in the morning. AND fingers crossed that adding this back in slowly, just 2-3 days a week, will work - I miss those enorphins!
New Year 2014 iphone dump 382

-Meal Planning

This is seriously a necessity. The pizza and taco cycle MUST END.

I'm hoping that you guys can help me stay motivated....or even better, maybe you have some advice on how to figure out the balance as a newish Mom!

And what about you? Did you make a resolution for the New Year?