Category Archives: Kids in the Kitchen

Pink Chocolate

The other day Luli informs me that she wants to make pink chocolate cupcakes.  So, we did.  I was planning to write a whole post about making your cupcakes moist (RRRAWWWRRR!!!), but I apparently have a poppy seed stuck under my space bar from eating on the computer (yeah, I know — unless you want to tell me how to get it out, I don’t want to hear it).  Also, I’m having some wicked braxton-hicks contractions — like nonstop.  Also, the Fetus has moved such that I can actually eat for the first time in weeks, so I’m going to go devour a box of Milk Duds.

In the meantime, here are our gorgeous Pink Chocolate Cupcakes:

Pink Ladies



  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 T powdered espresso or coffee
  • 1 cup boiling hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup and 1 T granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 c sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly butter, or line 20-ish muffin cups with paper liners.  In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder, the espresso, and the boiling hot water until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16 – 20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (Do not over bake or the cupcakes will be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Frost after the cupcakes have completely cooled.


  • 8 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 oz  cream cheese, softened
  • 4 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar

In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl, melt the white chocolate, stirring often. Remove from the heat once melted and let cool to lukewarm. Transfer the melted white chocolate to a large bowl, and add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat together at medium speed until you have a smooth sauce. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.  Tint with red or pink dye (I use Wilton’s).  Or don’t.


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Filed under Babies: Making and Raising, Cakes, Chocolate, Food Pr0n, Kids in the Kitchen, SDH Exclusive Recipe

Yo, Cupcake…

Hey Cupcake...

When I’m tucking Luli in at night, we like to talk about what we are going to do the next day.  Sometimes we make plans to do mundane stuff like read books or play with blocks; other times it is more exotic things like make bacon or go to the bank.  Luli really likes going to the bank.  Anyhow, the other night Luli asked if we could make cupcakes, and I of course said ‘sure’ because I am not some sort of monster.  Also, I like cupcakes.

The next day Luli arose all excited for cupcake makin’.  Truth be told, I did, too.  But while I love cupcakes as much as the next person, I didn’t feel like using any of my usual recipes; nor did I feel like making the usual 2 – 3 dozen.  I figured a nice dozen would be enough.  Luli requested chocolate frosting.  I agreed.

This recipe is loosely based on Beranbaum’s Yellow Butter Cake recipe (from the Cake Bible); I’ve noticed the Joy of Cooking recipe is almost identical.  I don’t know which came first.  Mine is different.  As I’ve prattled about elsewhere, I follow much of what the fabulous Rose Levy Beranbaum teaches, but not all.  As a southerner, I generally find her cakes to be a tad on the dry side — especially if you have to refrigerate layers during frosting and filling.  Anyhow, I wanted a quick easy dozen cupcakes with a simplified, non-meringue buttercream, and here is what I came up with:

The Hussy’s Quick and Dirty Dozen Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream


  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 T whole milk
  • 2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons room temp unsalted butter, cut into pieces


  • 8 oz milk chocolate chips
  • 8 T room temp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, lightly combine the egg yolks, oil, T milk, and vanilla extract.

In the bowl of your electric mixer combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt).  Add the butter and remaining milk.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened, then beat on medium for about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Turn speed to low and slowly add the egg mixture.  Beat on med for about one minute.

Divide the batter and pour into lined cupcake tin.  If you only fill the tins halfway, this will make about 14 cupcakes.  So either fill the tins a little more and just make a dozen, or bake the excess in a mini-pan and let your kids have their way with it.

I use my face to frost, right?

You might want to give them an off-set spatula to use.


So, if you’re lucky, you will get something like this:

Mmmm...Nice tongue prints.

Anyhow, back to the cupcakes.

Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center. Remove cupcakes and cool on rack.

While cupcakes are cooling, melt chocolate in double broiler.  Remove from heat and stir until smooth.  Let chocolate come down to room temp.  Add butter and beat until smooth and shiny.

Frost your completely cooled cupcakes.  Put remaining buttercream in jar and refrigerate; this makes the perfect late night pretzel dip or can just be scooped out and eaten while one pretends to look for the mustard.

SDH Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Cupcakes will best retain moisture when kept in an airtight container like tupperware or Vader’s hyperbolic chamber.

Behold my cake-frosting prowess!


Filed under Cakes, Chocolate, Food Pr0n, Kids in the Kitchen, SDH Exclusive Recipe

Near-Instant Gratification: The Popsicle Edition

I couldn’t very well title this “Instant Gratification” because obviously that honor belongs to successfully chasing down the tinkly ice cream truck.  And by the way? Our summertime treats-on-wheels would come chiming through at 9 – 9:30 at night.  I would always wonder if they made a magical switch and started selling margaritas.  But I digress…

Today we are here to talk about the Zoku pop maker.  Yes, this thing:

Yeah, it's ADORABLE, but do I need it?

I ended up getting one of these due to a series of interweb purchases gone wrong. Long story short, I ended up with a gift card that gave me $40 to spend at Williams-Sonoma.  And since the next thing on my NEED list is a new fridge, I had to skip over to the ‘interesting idea’ list.  Basically, I let the kids pick and Zoku was the result.

First, the product itself is adorable.  And embodies a very cool idea — i.e., let’s get crazy with popsicles!  And it is super easy to use and VERY kid-friendly (just be careful about tiny bits sticking to frozen bits).  What you see is pretty much what you get.  It’s really just a mold that you pop in the freezer; the key difference being that it freezes pretty much while you watch and only goes into the freezer empty.  It’s like the freezer bowl part of a newer ice cream maker – heavy and full of some thick sludgey mystery fluid.  Out of the box, the Zoku comes with one 3-chamber mold, six sticks, six drip guards, one “super tool,” and a directions pamphlet.

I will go ahead and express my sole irritation with the product, which is that it sells recipes separately.  If you just paid $40 for a popsicle mold, the least they can do is throw in some recipes.  Yeah, I know duh popsicles, but this is the first food prep product that I have EVER owned that did not come with at least a few recipes.  Seriously, even my damn $4 dog biscuit cutter came with 4 recipes.  It just seems kind of tacky to sell recipes separately (though I should note that there are a handful of recipes on the cute Zoku Blog).  There are other extras you can buy, but I didn’t get any, because $40 seemed like enough to spend on popsicles.

K, Luli and I tested this out the other day to great success.   The mold froze in less than 24 hours, as expected. We were prepped to make 6 popsicles using pineapple juice and greek yogurt with honey and lemon sugar (add honey to plain yogurt, add lemon zest to sugar).  We put the sticks in the mold and went to town.

Team Popsicle is GO!!!

Because the instructions are adamant that the sticks MUST go in first, there was a bit of an issue with getting thicker ingredients into the mold, as there is only about a half inch of pouring space on either side of the stick.  I ended up putting the yogurt into a zip-loc baggie, snipping off a tiny corner, and effectively piping it into the mold.  Worked like a charm.


And then we waited…

The Way-yay-ting is the Hardest Part.

We made two sets of three pops back-to-back.  Zoku says your popsicles shall freeze in about 7 – 9 minutes.  I found this to be accurate, though the kids said it was taking forEVER and wandered off.  With just unlayered juice, the pops were ready in 7 minutes.  Layered pops took a little longer (duh).  The second set we made immediately after the first did not take any longer to freeze.  And they freeze HARD.  Mega-hard.  As in, I can hold this in the sun for a while before it drips all over hard.

Cheers to Success!

Both of my assistants claimed the treats to be perfection.

Luli Approves.

K Devours.

Aside from the voice of Alton Brown in my head telling me that it is silly to buy a product that only does one very simple thing, I found the Zoku to be good fun – and I suspect Mr. Brown would, too, though he might not admit it.  We didn’t have any issues with the yogurt pops not freezing as solid.  And we didn’t have any issues with removing the pops from the mold — even those with yogurt.   No fuss.  And very little clean up.  When we were done, we popped the mold back in the freezer (no, we didn’t clean it first, the instructions say it is unnecessary to do so).  We pulled it out again the next day and made more popsicles.

All in all, an adorable product that serves its single function exceptionally well.  The kids love it and I like that it takes up very little space and gives me something creative and culinary to do with the kids.  Just scroll through the Zoku website to see how serious I am about the creative thing.  We’ve already tried striped pops and filled pops to great success.

So, if you’ve coveted the Zoku and have $40 to spend, I say go ahead and get it.  Is it necessary? Hell no.  Is it fun? Hell yes.

I can’t WAIT to try margarita and mojito pops…




Filed under Food Pr0n, Hussy Recommends..., Kids in the Kitchen, Kitchen Gadgets, Things I Like, Uncompensated Product Placement

When I Was Your Age…

At some point, we all turn into some version of the people who raised us.  I think it is inevitable.  And, in my case, not necessarily a bad thing.  That said, no matter how well we were raised or how happy our childhoods, there will always be things that we insist on doing differently; primarily because we’ve experienced the long-term effects of said action but also because no matter how much we might be like our parents, we are separate and distinct people.

But despite all our efforts to be “different,” the moment will come when we have that out-of-body experience and watch ourselves morphing into that irritating, unfair, mean person who was the Minchin to our Crewe.  And I am guessing 9 times out of 10 chores are involved.

I always had basic domestic tasks for which I was responsible, plus some extras on the weekend.  In my recollection, I began doing simple things like sweeping and dishes when I was 7 or 8, and moved on to the hardcore stuff like laundry and bathrooms when I was 10 or so.  I also helped watch my younger brothers and got to assist on ‘fun’ indoor and outdoor projects that involved tools, and paint, and, on at least one occasion, dousing icky bugs in gasoline.

It isn’t so much the work that I found objectionable as it was the being awoken at the crack of dawn to do it.  I have distinct memories of my parents hauling my tender ass out of bed at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning to do chores.  “Ride of the Valkyries” was blasting from the stereo and there was laughter and the tinkling of crystal as my parents gleefully toasted their child labor law violations. As I scrubbed the floor with a tiny brush in my tragic rags, I always swore angrily that I would never treat my children in such a cruel and callous way.

In reality, I am sure that I awoke up at a reasonable time, was fed a hot, delicious breakfast, watched some cartoons, and then was told to get off my lazy butt and get to work.  And they weren’t rags, but they certainly weren’t Garanimals — a slight that I would never forgive.  Nonetheless, I was certain that MY children would be draped in Garanimals while they frolicked about enjoying their Saturdays.

Oh sweet fancy Moses how that worm has turned.

You see, I would be DELIGHTED to drag my child out of bed by the ankles and laugh while I duct-tape a 17 page to-do list to his chest.  The reality, however, and the albacore around my parental neck is the fact that my wonderful, unique, and much beloved almost 12-year-old does NO house or yardwork.  Seriously. None.  And not for lack of trying.

To his credit, he is very good and sweet about keeping his little sister alive and relatively safe for a while I gather laundry or whatnot, and will play with her and keep her entertained without question or complaint whenever asked.  And he keeps the family going with his sense of humor, endearing affection, and concern for everyone’s well-being.  Really, his non-chore contributions are amazing.

I will also be the first person to acknowledge that I have issues with giving him work to do, because I know it will only end up giving me more work to do.  And yes, I have some control issues when it comes to housework.  Ideally, I would like things done exactly as I would have done them. But I would settle for an end result that looks comparable.  Just so long as I don’t have to watch it being done in a way I find fundamentally wrong.

The solution, then, seems to be to simply give an assignment and walk away, providing only nominal supervision.  And really, how much supervision should sweeping require?  I am thinking very little, but if you’ve ever seen K wield a broom, you would understand my reluctance.  He holds the broom like it is a toxin-coated pitchfork and stabs at the floor with intense, jabbing motions.  In fact, he is far more likely to dig a hole or set something on fire with the broom than he is to actually transfer a single crumb from the floor to the garbage.  I wish I were joking.  And any attempt at correction or instruction only sticks with him for about 1.9 seconds, and then he is back to his default stabby setting.  On the flip side, though, he can dig a hole like nobody’s business.  It’s extraordinary, really.

Getting him to clean his room has, over the years, been just about the most traumatic, frustrating, and horrifying thing I have experienced as a parent.  Traumatic for both of us because, for various reasons, K is incapable of actually “seeing” the mess and becomes utterly paralyzed when faced with the task of having to put things away.  Again, I’m not joking.  He cannot sort.  Despite the facts that there are labeled bins for all toys and lockers for all his clothes AND he really wants to do it right, he just can’t.  I like to think that he just doesn’t judge.

It’s frustrating, but I accepted years ago that I actually have to walk him through every minute step of cleaning if I actually want it clean.  You cannot simply tell him to clean up all the things off of the floor and put them away or you will end up with a single, tiny bin overflowing with lego, garbage, cats, socks, and books, while the floor remains littered with lego, dirty underwear, bbs, and chewing gum.  He and I clearly have very different ideas of what belongs on the floor.

So, if I want it to actually be clean in there, I have to stay in there with him, line up the bins and help him sort.  I have to guide him through the process every single time – it simply doesn’t stick.  It’s getting better in the sense that there are far less tears than there used to be, but that’s it.

My other option is to just shut the door and pretend he is getting it done.  Which works for a few months until I forget and actually take a critical look at the situation, pass out from horror at what I see, and then end up having to spend a weekend going all haz-mat in there.  I will inevitably find a possibly sentient giant mystery wad of candy, dirt, skidmarked underwear,batteries, magazine inserts, pokemon cards, string, dead bug parts, and something that might have been a sandwich at some point tucked inside his bed.  I worry he is constructing a changeling so that he can escape my Hannigan-like cruelty.

And then I begin to wonder if the changeling could run the vacuum…


That floor better SHINE...


Filed under Babies: Making and Raising, Cleaning Tips, Kids in the Kitchen, Parenting is FUN!

No Scurvy Here

One of my very favorite websites is the Kitchn. I get a lot of kitchen inspiration from their wonderful posts and recipes. A week or so ago, they put up a recipe for clementine sherbet and I have not been able to stop thinking about it. What a bright, sunny, unexpected winter treat. And yes, I’m slightly more crazy about food right now on account of being pregnant, but trust me when I say that I am exceedingly food-lusty even when not knocked up.

I love everything about food – from seed to compost, from grocery list making to knife sharpening, from menu planning to scrubbing dishes. I love the way food looks, smells, feels, sounds, and tastes. I love how it brings my family together whether it’s a full-on Sunday dinner, hot as hell cookies swiped off the cooling rack, or a store-bought pizza eaten on the floor of the living room as we watch Dr. Who.

So as I wait for K to get home and Luli to finish napping, I’m going to get everything ready to get our sherbet on. I will post the recipe with any tweaks and production pictures in a follow-up post.

Pre-Sherbet Clementines

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Filed under Food Glorious Food, Kids in the Kitchen, Parenting is FUN!, Recipes, Sherbets...