Monday, February 25, 2013

February Birthday Cake of the Month

For my birthday my sweet mother-in-law gave me a new subscription for The Food Network magazine. I had been without my beloved magazine for at least a year. Darn budget. But alas we have reacquainted. I love that mag. Because getting back to life after Christmas took me some time, I finally was able to sit down with my January mag.

Notice in the upper right hand corner. Yep, that's a cake. One of the reasons Erica and I have posted less frequently is the fact that we have both been dieting for the past year. Dieting and baking do NOT go hand in hand unfortunately.
Well, dieting does not take my love of baking away. I was excited to see this article and found myself at least a monthly post for you. Any excuse for me to bake a cake, right? No one in my house complained. I missed January so I'll get that one next year. But without further ado I introduce February's Birthday Cake of the Month!
Chocolate Blackout Cake

This cake is a chocolate lovers dream! It i a chocolate cake with a chocolate filling, frosted with a whipped ganache, then topped with ganache. Holy yum. I was content with one piece but I may have "tasted" the ganache a few times. Ganache is awesome. Chocolate+Cream= Awesome. 

A view of the inside. 

Pre-frosted layers.
Lucky for you, you can find this recipe on The Food Networks website. Now go make one but make sure to have some recipients to give some away to!
Happy Monday!
Love, Monica

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Digi Day

Since my last Digi Day, things have changed in my digital world. After being part of the Jessica Sprague Creative Team for 3 years, the admin of the site decided to disband the team and let individual designers control their own teams. I was sad for it to end. The great thing is other doors have opened for me. I've joined two other teams and am excited to continue sharing my work.
Also, last year I started Project Life but didn't quite have my heart into it. I wanted to try again this year because I love the concept so much. So far, so good!!! I'm on week 8! I'm doing more a Project 52, week by week. The awesome thing, is I'm doing more of a hybrid style. So I'm dabbling a bit with paper and glue again. That has been a lot of fun. I will share more of that soon.
When the CT was disbanded everyone quickly jumped onto other teams. I kind of took my time. I needed the break and I needed to stand back and assess what I could handle. The opportunity came for me to join Little Dreamer Designs with Michelle Coleman. She has a subscription based product. You can subscribe month to month or a 6 month subscription. It is so reasonable priced and you get a super packed gorgeous kit. These things are huge!
February's kit is just gorgeous. Seriously. It's beautiful. I loved playing with it. You can still pick it up through the end of this month.

You Are Loved by Michelle Coleman
February 2013 Collection
 Gorgeous, right? You can find it HERE.

Here is my layout using this beautiful kit. I love the little details; stitches, glitter scatters, twine. I fell in love with the grey heart background. Her texture on the paper is just amazing. I'm a scrapping nerd, right? ;) This photo is one of my all time faves of Ben. I captured him in a giggle. Oh how he has grown.
Well, happy Thursday!! We are getting close to Spring people. It doesn't feel like it here, but it's around the corner right? ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentines Day Printable

I made this Valentines printable last year. I wanted to show you how cute it looks on my book shelf. I personally think it's one of the cuter printables out there. Ahem. :)

Anyway, you can still download it if you would like. Just remember to credit House 344 and please don't use it for financial gain.

Download it HERE.
(On my browser for some reason, when I click the link it comes up as an error. Just X out of the error box and in the upper left hand side click on the little downward arrow. It should download just fine.)

Hope you have an awesome Friday!

Love, Monica

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Valentines Cuppies

Look what I did! I baked! I made the most gloriously delicious cupcakes. It could be because I've limited myself to one sweet per week and the taste of sugar in my mouth was just indescribable or it could be because this is just an awesome cupcake. I think it was a bit of both.

I've shared this recipe before but if you haven't made it, please do! This chocolate cupcake is my go to recipe. These are just as quick as a box cake but much much more tasty. I promise. :)

These weren't meant to be Valentines cupcakes hence the mismatch yellow liners and Valentines sprinkles. I found the cute cupcake liners at Michael's in their dollar section. The sprinkles were in my stash, I'm pretty sure they are Wilton. See how pretty these turned out?

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the cocoa, flour, sugar, soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix till combined scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Scoop batter in liners and fill one-half to two-thirds full. (Be careful here!) Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until top of cupcake springs back when lightly touched. Let cool completely before frosting. Makes approx. 18 cupcakes.

Note: Do Not overfill your liners on this recipe. They will over flow.

Source: Martha Stewart Cupcakes

For this cuppie I used Martha's Swiss Meringue Buttercream. If you've never tried this frosting before, you have to give it a try! It's so much smoother and much less annoyingly sweet than a regular buttercream. It does take a little more work but it's so worth it. I halved this recipe for one batch of One Bowl Chocolate cupcakes.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day.

Source: Martha Stewart Cupcakes

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