Getting ready for Mardi Gras? How about a King Cake?

King Cake is a pre-Lenten cake served around Mardi Gras.  Your kids will love to eat it and make it, there’s a small plastic baby hidden inside the cake.  Who doesn’t want to find a small plastic baby in what they’re eating?

This is also a fun rainy day (or snow day) activity because the cake is made with yeast and needs to be rolled out.  This always keeps the kids busy around here.  



Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, place 2 (1/4 ounce) packages of dry active yeast in a bowl with one tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 cup of warm water.  The rule is that the water should be about 110 degrees.  If you don’t have a thermometer, test it so it’s warm to your touch, your body is 98 degrees so the water should be slightly warmer, but not hot to your touch.

Meanwhile, heat 2 cups of Greek yogurt with one stick (1/4 cup) of butter, 1/3 cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Heat this until the butter melts, it shouldn’t be too hot.  Add the yogurt mixture to the yeast after the yeast has risen (it’s going to look really frothy).  Add 2 eggs that have been beaten, slowly add up to 7 cups of flour.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead the dough until it looks smooth and pretty.  Cover with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise for an hour or until it doubles in size.

Cut the dough in half and roll the dough out into a rectangular shape, about 22 inches by 12 inches.  Smear half a stick of softened butter onto the rectangle and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Don’t forget to tuck your plastic baby in before you start rolling!!  I used about a cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.  Fold the dough over and start to roll it up as if it was cigarette.  The tiny plastic baby will be hidden and some lucky person will hopefully not choke on it.  Repeat this with the second piece of dough.  Braid the two pieces and form into a circle.  Let both pieces of dough rise until they double in size.  



Once the dough has risen, about an hour, place it in the oven and bake until the dough is golden brown.  This should take about half an hour.



Next, you’ll prepare the icing.  Mix three cups of powdered sugar with three tablespoons of milk (I had extra heavy cream, so I used that) and two tablespoons of melted butter.  Add one tablespoon of vanilla.  Mix until it’s thick and smooth.  I like a thicker icing, so I added some extra powdered sugar.  The kids sprinkled yellow, blue, and pink sprinkles on top of the icing immediately.  I wanted to add purple, but couldn’t find purple sprinkles.



Please make sure you tell people there is a small plastic baby tucked somewhere into the cake.  I told my kids that whoever found the baby had to give me $50.  It was worth a shot.

Check back later for the other recipes we made in our mock Mardi Gras.  We had a party of ten for $68, including a fancy blood orange, bourbon drink!!




More emergency snow day baking with my kids. Chocolate bread pudding…

I have been struggling at keeping the kids busy during all the snow days.  Since it’s been snowing and raining, they can only be outside for a certain period of time before coming in soaked, usually around 45 seconds.

Chocolate bread pudding was a perfect choice because they can do all the prep for this one.  They can also be acceptably destructive as they tear the bread apart with their bare hands.  I like to use cinnamon raisin bread, but I also throw some regular bread in.  I have also made this recipe when the kids have neglected to tie the bread up and half the loaf has gone stale.  

12 slices of bread, I like cinnamon raisin, but you can use whatever is available.

1 1/2 cups of milk

1 cup of semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

2 large eggs

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Confectioners sugar to dust.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Have the kids tear the bread into large chunks.  Place (or throw) the bread in the greased casserole pan.  

Meanwhile, heat the milk with the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts.  Beat the eggs and sugar together, add the chocolate to the eggs slowly so that you don’t scramble the eggs.  When that is mixed, pour the chocolate egg mixture over the bread.  Bake for about 20 minutes. 



This kept them happy for about thirty minutes.  SUCCESS.  I have also made it up to the point that it needs to be baked and served it at brunch.  It’s super easy and costs less than $4.00.  

Please let me know how you like this!!  Have fun with the kids!!


Will school be cancelled again? Here’s an idea to keep your kids busy.

I don’t know about you, but I am SICK of snow days.  I love my kids, but there is such a thing as too much togetherness.


The other night, they were outside for approximately four minutes before coming in because they were “frozen”, demanding hot chocolate.  I gladly made it for them, but I had committed a major faux pas in the eyes of my eight year old.  I didn’t have enough marshmallows.  

I am always desperate for something that will keep the three boys from wrestling or annoying each other to death, or worse still, from whining about the wrestling and annoying.  I decided we could make marshmallows at home together.  I took care of the dangerous parts and let them man the mixer and spread out the marshmallows once it was done. This could potentially provide me with 15 minutes of near silence.  🙂

Yes, it’s probably more expensive to make these on your own, but it will provide you with an activity for your kids.  You’ll need a candy thermometer, light corn syrup and gelatin.  Those are the only things that I can think of that you wouldn’t readily have available.  You will need a mixer, it would take WAY too long to mix this by hand with a whisk.  

So here goes…

3 sheets of plain gelatin (we used Knox)

1/2 cup of ICE cold water, shouldn’t be hard in this arctic climate.

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

1 cup of light corn syrup

pinch of salt

1/2 cup of water

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of confectioners (10x) sugar

Place ice cold water in the bowl of your mixer with the three sheets of gelatin.  In the meantime, heat the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a saucepan.  Clip the candy thermometer to the side and cook until the temperature reads 240 degrees.  This took the longest and I did it without the assistance of any minor child.

Once the syrup reaches 240 degrees, slowly pour the syrup over the gelatin.  Increase the speed of the mixer until the syrup/ gelatin mixture is three times larger than what you started with.  Add the vanilla at the last minute.  I had the kids watch the mixture and touch the side of the bowl to tell me when it was lukewarm.  This sucked up about 15 more minutes of their time.  The marshmallow is super thick and really messy at this point.


Now for the fun part!!  I had the kids dust a baking dish with half of the confectioner’s sugar.  I sprayed their impeccably clean hands with cooking spray (Pam or something like that) and had them smooth the marshmallows onto the pan.  It’s really messy and kids love that so this will buy you about ten more minutes of peace.

We made the hot chocolate, sliced the marshmallows and they went to town.  My eight year old was happy, I got half an hour of peace, and redeemed myself to my son.  They all had a lot of fun!  By the way, when you cut the marshmallows, spray or oil a pizza cutter or bench scraper.  This will make it a lot less sticky.  I hope you enjoy this one!  I know we did!!