Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hummingbird Cupcakes

I have been in a baking mood lately.  Not just any baking - but CUPCAKES.  And I blame Food Network.  No box mixes and ready-made frosting here -  I'm talking scratch, homemade gourmet cupcakes. 
Last week I whipped up my favorite sour cream chocolate cake recipe into a batch of cupcakes, topped with a delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting.  Fortunately, our church has a potluck lunch every Sunday after service... so the majority were whisked off to church so as not to land on my hips.

This week I had some bananas that needed to be used up, and rather than make my mainstay banana bread, I decided to try Hummingbird Cupcakes!  Hummingbird Cake is a favorite Southern dessert, made with bananas, pineapple, and pecans. It is similar to a carrot cake, but without the carrots!  This recipe comes from Martha Stewart;  I made a couple of small changes - added applesauce, subbed oil for half the butter, and reduced the sugar a bit.  And instead of the cream cheese frosting, I substituted a creamy cinnamon buttercream. YUM!!!!

Hummingbird Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup melted butter ( 1 stick)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs - room temperature
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.  

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, to toast. Set aside.  

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next.  Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

In another medium bowl, stir together the mashed banana, drained pineapple, applesauce, walnuts, and coconut. Add to the egg mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until just combined ( Do not overmix, or cake will be dry!) 

Fill cupcake cups about 3/4 full.  Bake until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  

Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Frost with Cinnamon Buttercream.

Makes 24.

Cinnamon Buttercream 

3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup butter, softened
6 cups sifted powdered confectioners sugar
1 Tbl. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
In a mixing bowl with whisk attachment, cream the butter and shortening until fluffy.  Add sugar and cinnamon, and continue creaming until well blended. 

Add salt, vanilla, and cream. Blend on low speed until moistened. Then beat on high speed for 5 minutes, until fluffy. 

A Look Back at our Halloweens

This is the year... the last of my children has "outgrown" Halloween.   Well, we haven't celebrated "Halloween" for a long time - yuck -  but we've always enjoyed the ART of carving pumpkins and the fun of dressing up and going to a fall festival and indulging in sweets. We have held a FEAR NOT party a couple of times, focusing on the fact that Jesus Christ conquered death and spiritual darkness; he is the LIGHT of the world, and therefore we have nothing to fear! I'm not one to shut off my lights and draw the curtains - I always have candy ready to hand out if anyone comes to my door, but they won't find any spiders (okay, a few real that insist of spinning webs around my doorway no matter how many times I sweep them away ) , ghosts, monsters, gravestones, or witches here.  Only lights, flowers, pumpkins, and maybe a smiling scarecrow.

Here is a look back at some past Halloweens...

Alex - 1988

Eric , age 2-  1991
Eric -  age 11?

Jason (5) & Amanda (10) -2003


Jason, age 10 -   2008

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Volleyball Champs!

I've been absent here for a few weeks... there is a lot to catch up on.   One thing is that volleyball season came to an end with the NCHE Athletic Conference state tournament 2 weekends ago, and then the Lighthouse volleyball banquet this past Tuesday.  The tournament was incredible, and Amanda's varsity team won every set of their first 3 matches to make it into the final championship game, and then played the game of their lives to beat Asheville for the 1st place trophy!  Below is part of the article I wrote for our local weekly newspaper.

Nervous anticipation, intense competition, hours of waiting, giddy excitement, bitter disappointment, team camaraderie,  youthful exuberance,  thwarted expectations, joyful elation....  all this and more is part of state tournament weekend!...
   The Lighthouse Eagles Varsity team, coached by Denise Driver and led by senior co-captains Tiffany Driver and Cheri Van Nice, breezed through matches with the Johnston Co. Jaguars and Fayetteville Crusaders without losing a set, to advance to Saturday morning's semi-finals. They easily handled the #2 team in the Western Conference, the Forsyth Hawks, with strong serving and hitting by Tiffany Driver, Michelle Hovey, Amanda Herbert, Wilson Storey, and Michayla Bowers, to advance to the championship game against Western Conference powerhouse  Asheville Trailblazers.  The Asheville team, who had defeated the Eagles in last year's state championship game, were also undefeated in conference play and were out to secure a sweep for their 3 teams and to repeat as NC homeschool varsity volleyball champs  A packed gym added to the excitement as fans, family, and friends loudly lent their support to their teams. As play began, it was soon apparent that these teams were evenly matched and it wasn't going to be an easy task for either one to take home the trophy.   Lighthouse played tough and won the first set, 25-21, before faltering in set 2 to lose 17-25, and then falling behind again in set 3 to lose 22-25. 
In set 4, the momentum shifted to the Lighthouse team, who battled to a 25-23 win with gutsy setting and serving by 13 yr. old Kimberly Hovey, who also led her team in digs, as well as strong play by her sister Michelle, who led in kills, pushing the match to a 5th set, the 15-point tie-breaker.  Lighthouse jumped to an early lead and pushed hard to victory, with blistering serves by senior Amanda Herbert finishing off the set for a 15-9 win.  The Lighthouse Eagles are the 2010 NCHEAC Varsity Volleyball Champions! 


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kit Kat Krispie Treats

For Co-op class last week, Jason had to create an original recipe using candy bars as an ingredient. His Kit Kat Krispie Treats were a great success!  Simple to make, they are a chocolate-y good variation on traditional Rice Krispie Treats.

1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick ) butter
1 10-oz bag (about 40) marshmallows
6 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal
2 cups chopped Kit Kat candy bars ( about 6 regular size)

Butter a 16 x 9-in. baking dish.  In a large stockpot, melt the butter over low heat.  Add the marshmallows and stir until melted.  Add the cereal, stirring a few times  to coat, and then add the chopped Kit Kat bars, continuing to stir to coat. Pour /scrape mixture out of the pot into the buttered baking dish and press down with buttered spoon or buttered fingers ( my preferred method ).  If desired, melt 1 cup chocolate chips in the microwave and spread over the top. Set aside to cool. 
Cut into squares.  Enjoy the gooey, sweet, crunchy, chocolate-y results!  :-)

Unit 1 Celebration - TOG Year 4

Last Friday was the Unit Celebration for our Tapestry of Grace Co-op,  as we finished up the first 9 weeks of Year 4, Unit 1 -  "Casting Off the Moorings".   We did a Hall of Fame, with the kids dressing up as people that we studied at some point during the Unit, from US Presidents to suffragettes to WWI doughboys and flying aces to inventors to sports legends to gangsters to missionaries. As parents and guests walked through the hall, each child had short blurb to say about their person, and the younger kids had a scavenger hunt list to fill out.  Afterwards, we enjoyed some brownies and lemonade and looked at some of the  projects which were set out for all to admire.    Jason had a baseball game that night, but we left early to make it to the Unit Celebration. He chose a baseball player/evangelist, Billy Sunday, so that he would already be in "costume".

Jack Johnson, Manfred von Richthofen, Billy Sunday

Orville & Wilbur Wright

Rhetoric Class 

Susan B. Anthony

Big Wright Brothers / Little Wright Brothers

Hall of Fame

Can you tell he likes baseball?

Monday, October 11, 2010


After several days of heavy ( and much needed ) rain here last week,  there was this beautiful reminder that after the rains, the sun will shine.  The pictures don't really do it justice... this was the most brilliant rainbow I've seen in a long time, and the double rainbow made a full arc across the sky.  Stunning.