Happiness Project#76: Ross Family Butter Noodles!

butternoodleWho’s doing a little happy dance, right now? This Mama! I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase an indoor, tabletop lightbox studio, with two adjustable studio lights, and I totally love it! Up until now, I’ve been using the natural lighting that my “studio” porch bench outside provided, but would always need to wait through rainy weather to complete my blog post. So you can imagine how frustrating winter was. But now, this perfect little studio. Which fits quite perfectly on my kitchen table. And folds up for perfect storage behind my dresser. Yes, perfect! Very worth the $110 that I spent on it!

Anyhow, to celebrate the future with my new, wonderful studio, I wanted to share with you a recipe that my two sisters and I grew up with. A recipe that brings to mind so many joyful, yummy moments with my family. Like when my twin sister & I rented our very 1st 2 bedroom apartment together, a good 15 years ago. This super easy, fast noodle recipe was a near daily staple within the two years that we roomed together. Because noodles, butter and parmesan cheese? The perfect student go to! Anytime of the day!

So in honor of my family, here’s some yumminess just for you!

2 cups farfalle pasta

4 tablespoons salted butter, cold

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Firstly, cook the noodles to a boil, in hot water. Once the noodles are cooked through to your desired texture, be it crispier or soft, remove the noodles from the stovetop, and drain.

Add in each tablespoon of cold cut butter, stirring within the drained pot of pasta, until the entire potful of noodles is generously buttered.

Add in the parmesan cheese and toss until fully coated.

And serve! All by itself, or with a favorite vegetable. Like peas, or gently steamed broccoli.

That’s it! From start to finish, 10 minutes at most. Perfect for students away from home, older kids learning to cook, or as a fast, well loved family meal. Your tummies will thank you.

Happiness Project#50: Funfetti Bundt Cake!

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I’ve been having a very difficult time recently, being alone everyday, particularly as a Mom. Before I had my Baby Girl, I loved being alone & spending more time at home than anywhere else. I was content with my husband and my books and my favorite tv shows. It was ME, then. The NOW me, though, is very (surprisingly) different than that once-comfortable house hermit. Mostly because of my Daughter. Who has changed me, in the best of ways. Thanks to her, I now understand the importance of getting both out of the house and out of my normal comfort zones. For once, I truly enjoy long walks in the sun. And going to the local zoo. And chasing birds. And riding carousels. And simply taking our time while doing whatever it is that we’re doing. Because, yes, my friends, children change EVERYTHING. Something that I am eternally thankful for.

Anyhow, even though I’ve discovered a new found appreciation for expanding my daily boundaries, up until recently, I felt perfectly at peace with it being just my Daughter & I. Going out and about and exploring the world (all over again for me) together. Even when we were traveling down south, every month, to see my older sister and her three boys, once a month seemed perfect. Until now. Now, I want to be around my sister and nephews all the time. For myself and my Baby Girl. The connections that both Ari & I have with my sister and her boys are unlike any that we have here (even with the Family that we have within our immediate area). The experience of being a Family with a child, while being with another Family with a child, or children, is incomparable to anything else. With my sister and her boys, I KNOW love. Constant, empowering, comforting love. Where we play and sing and dance and laugh and truly enjoy every moment together. Even when we’re out running multiple errands. Even when we’re saying nothing at all. So whenever that one magical week ends and my Daughter & I drive back home, I end up feeling how I am today. Sad, alone and little lost. Like a huge piece of my Heart is missing and the day is a little less bright without it. A feeling that I sometimes have for days. Which gets worse at night, when the house is quiet and everyone else is asleep. When I have nothing else to think of but memories.

So to always commemorate the memories that my Daughter and I have created with the Cooper Family, I’ve decided to share one of my favorite cake recipes. A recipe that always reminds me of my sister and her three loving, affectionate, absolutely amazing boys. All who I love and adore like no other. With one of the happiest candies ever created: sprinkles. Because how can you not see rainbow sprinkles and feel Love?

From my heart to yours, may this bright and cheerful bundt cake always bring you happiness, my friends.

For the Cake:

2-1/2 cups cake flour, sifted

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter and flour 1 fluted bundt cake pan. Depending on what type of bundt pan you use, the bottom part of the cake will reflect how light or dark the cake pan is. Hence, since I used a very dark bundt pan, this particular cake ended up being quite brown on it’s bottom (shown in the above featured photo).

In a stand mixer, on medium speed, beat together the flour, sugar, oil, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt, until gently mixed throughly. Drop the mixture speed down to a slower speed and add in each egg, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Now, slowly add in the 1 cup of whole milk, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, once or twice to ensure that the batter doesn’t become lumpy or unmixed. Mix for 1 minute until thick and smooth.

After taking your bowl off of the stand mixer, gently fold in the 1 cup of sprinkles. Followed by pouring the funfetti batter into the well buttered & floured bundt pan.

Pop your bundt pan into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry. Let cool on a wire rack, still in it’s pan, for around 30 minutes to an hour until the cake is cool enough to unmold from the pan.

Now here’s where you get to be choosy. Vanilla Glaze or Dusted Sugar? Such a difficult dilemma. *wink* If you end up wanting to apply a thin vanilla glaze versus a fine dusting of powdered sugar, for the glaze you will need:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

In a medium sized bowl, add in all three ingredients and whisk together until you’ve reached a desired consistency. If your glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar for thickness. If your glaze is too thick, add in a couple of tablespoons of milk to thin it out. And then, drizzle! Drizzle away!

Oh and don’t forget to sprinkle. Again. Because there’s no such thing as too many sprinkles. Not in my life =)

P.S. After creating this blog nearly 3 years ago, THIS is my 50th recipe post! Exciting!

Happiness Project #40: Cookie Batter Waffles!



Every month, for one glorious week, I travel 3 hours south, to where my sister & 3 nephews live. And even though I’ve been taking Ari with me, for a good 5 months now, it’s always a little bit like opening a huge, musical present on Christmas morning, filled to the brim with bubbles, legos, splashing, laughter and warm, giggly hugs! I am incredibly lucky enough to have one of those (somewhat rare) very close & loving relationships with both of my sisters, even though my oldest sister doesn’t live in the same area as the majority of my immediate family does. And now that I am finally FREE from so many of my previous health challenges (which prevented me from traveling), I am always incredibly excited about my special “Sister Adventure” trips! So is my (now) 17mo Daughter! Who ADORES her three VERY affectionate & loving cousins. ADORES them! Like no other! Cousin time that she doesn’t really have with any of my closest relatives (here in the Bay Area). Though, considering how much of an introvert I still am (in combination with my daily battle with PPD, anxiety and Menopause, yes, I did say Menopause at 36 years old), I’m fairly convinced that some of this “isolation” is partly my fault. Hence, our monthly trips south. With my oldest sister, I feel SAFE, which is a VERY important thing to me, especially since becoming a Mom.

Anyhow, every time my Daughter & I stay with my sister, I’ve been hell bent on either cooking a Dinner Dish or baking up a Dessert for her family, as a Thank You, for being such an important part of our lives, no matter how often my sister tells me that it’s not necessary *wink* So last week’s special treat, from me to my sister’s family, was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Waffles for Dinner! Yes, for Dinner! Because who doesn’t want breakfast for dinner?? And let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve had Cookie Dough Waffles! Seriously! You may never look at a Waffle in the same way ever again, after this. I don’t. So here you go, my friends! Breakfast for Dinner =)

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar, light or dark

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

3 tablespoons whole milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Gather up all of your cookie dough ingredients, as well as your trusty waffle iron. My sadly neglected Cuisinart Waffle Maker has been sitting unused behind my coffee machine, for nearly a good year now. I’m quite convinced that if this pretty, little machine could talk, it would have been scolding me one minute yet joyfully singing out it’s freedom the next.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir to mix. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (or by hand held mixer), beat together the melted butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar, for 2-3 minutes, until throughly combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed with the vanilla. Drop your mixer speed down to low and add in the flour mixture, until just blended. Stir in up to 3 tablespoons of milk to create a silky, liquid-like dough texture, instead of a traditionally thick cookie dough batter. A liquid-like batter is essential for creating a good waffle dough. Lastly, but most importantly (because, well, it’s chocolate), stir in those chocolate chips.

Once your waffle machine is prepped and ready, drop about a cup full of the cookie dough into each waffle segment and let bake for 4-5 minutes. If you’re not sure if your waffle maker is made with a non-stick iron, then lightly spray each segment with butter, before adding any cookie dough to it. Your waffles will be ready for consumption when the edges are lightly browned and the waffle is slightly springy to the touch. Oh, and when your entire house begins to smell just like a cookie! That’s the WHOLE idea, right? Right.

Best thing about these waffles? They taste just like the actual cookie so you don’t even need to add any topping to them. Unless you REALLY want butter, syrup and powdered sugar. They’re your waffles, after all! Though a scoop of Vanilla Ice-Cream might be fun, too. Just because.

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