Monday, December 20, 2010

Reece's Rainbow --- and another giveaway!

Thank you all so much for rallying together to help sweet Olga! Together, we raised $12,354 for her adoption fund!!!! Woohoo!!! God is good and he is answering our prayers. It looks like Olga will find her forever family. I've been told that there have been several families inquire about her...now we are just waiting for someone to jump.

Now I want you to meet Kareen...

Photobucket

KareenBorn January 15, 2007

This pretty muffin is waiting for her family! She is healthy, with no heart condition noted in her records. She has brown hair and hazel eyes, and is already up and learning to walk! Her records indicate “meiotic nondisjunction”, but this is just a fancy word for what happens to create “Down syndrome” genetically. She is considered higher functioning and is really doing well. She is an orphanage favorite, and the director has asked for a family to save her from the institution.


So let's do this! :) We can come together for Kareen, just like we did for Olga! AND...if you help her out you will earn up to TEN chances to win an iPad!!! Plus other awesome prizes!

Go visit Patti and Lily to find out how!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let's help Olga

This sweet little girl's story is really tugging at my heart strings today. Just look at that sweet, innocent face. If I could run and scoop her up in my arms and bring her home I would. But my family is just not in a place right now to do that. So I'm doing anything and everything else I can to get the word out. Care to join me? Let's all come together and help this sweet child, before it's too late.



Head on over to THIS AWESOME BLOG to see how you can win a brand spankin' new iPod Touch by helping sweet Olga out!

UPDATE! Her fund has over $1660 already! Let's keep it going. Pass the word along, pray, donate. We can all help this sweet little one :)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Salted caramel cupcakes

I could have also titled this post: delicious little bites of baked up heaven.

Alternatively, I could call this: Call your tailor because you'll need your pants let out!

WOW. WOW. WOW.

These are good. Not too sweet. Very rich. Just a tiny hint of salt to really set off the caramel flavor. Delicious!




Want to make your own?

Cupcake ingredients:
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. I used fun polka dot ones that I got at.....target I *think*.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugars and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. I ended up with a bit extra...so instead of having overflowing cupcakes I could have made a few mini cupcakes to feed Thing 1 and Thing 2. You live and learn...
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely.
Meanwhile....make your frosting!
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (whole milk is best)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (don't make any exceptions on this. Get quality butter) 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 

  1. Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
  2. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. It might be lumpy....no big deal. Place the mixture in a fine mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through into a bowl.
  3. You should end up with a nice, smooth mixture. Like semi-set pudding.
  4. Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. Or be like me and throw that mush into the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. It an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and the sugars for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. It going to look kind of gross at this stage, but just wait. This is where the magic goodness happens! 
  6. Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. Don't worry...it's worth it.
  7. After 7-8 minutes it will have transformed from that sloppy mess into something gorgeous, fluffy, and incredibly light and silky.

I transferred my frosting to a decorators bag (alternatively you could use a zippy bag and snip a corner off) and piped it on top.

Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on top of each one.

THEN...to make it even better I drizzled melted chocolate on top :) Everything is better with chocolate!


ENJOY! And let me know if you made them. I think the frosting would be great on chocolate cupcakes. In fact...I plan on making my favorite chocolate cupcakes from one of my favorite food bloggers here pretty soon. And I'll post of that too and let you know how it goes. I'm not sure how I'll be able to combine this awesomeness with all the sheer awesomeness of the PW....but I shall try!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cupcake Camp--with Bakerella!!!

Ack! Sorry It's been so stinking long since I posted anything. I've been busy baking, sewing, mothering, wife..ing? Okay that's not really a word, but life took over and I got busy. But I'm back and I have pictures to share!!!!

A few weeks ago I had the best time at Cupcake Camp. Huh? Yeah. That's right...I said cupcake camp. It was SO much fun! And best of all I met Bakerella. She is quite possibly one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met. So humble too!
(pay no attention to the geeked out, crazy-eyed girl on the right)

She showed us all of her neat tricks to making awesome cakepops!

How to crumble your cake and make sure there are no lumps...


How to turn your rolled cake ball into a cupcake shape...



How to dip them and stick them...


And, of course...decorate them!


She showed us all of her prefered supplies....we even got to help make some cute pops!



That little ghosty is the one I made:



I had so much fun, got my Cake Pops book autographed and one for my sister too! She was too swollen and doped up on painkillers to attend with me.
 Word to the wise: don't put off getting your wisdom teeth out...it only gets worse.

I've been testing out different cake/frosting combos and making some cute cakepops lately. I will be posting some soon!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Adios Jenna! (aka Air Force cake)

My friend Jenna is in the Air Force and is being stationed in England...she's leaving Friday so we decided to have a going away party! And, of course, I wanted to surprise her with a cake :)





Chocolate and yellow butter cake layers with cheesecake mousse filling.

Speaking of cheesecake mousse...don't frost a cake with it if you plan on covering it in fondant. It is too wet and makes your fondant turn sticky and it kind of slides around. That makes your cake bumpy.

Lesson learned.

It still tasted yummy.

Oh...and another word for the wise: If you buy your spices and other baking staples in bulk...LABEL THEM. Otherwise your chocolate cake might not taste like chocolate. I'm not sure what I put it in...but I don't think it was cocoa powder. Everyone said it tasted "Christmas-y". Hahaha!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Take-out...errr, cake...out??


What's this?!!



I ordered sweet and sour chicken....not chocolate cake with strawberry filling!




Wait!

Chocolate cake?

Sweet!




So yesterday I had a stroke of pure genious! I thought to myself...cake is delicious....chinese take-out boxes are adorable....hmmm....let's bake some cake in them! And now you can too! :) Here's what you need:

Your favorite cake recipe (or boxed mix)
Your favorite filling (about a cup or so)
Frosting (anything delicious...about 2 cups)
Bismark filling tip (if you want to fill your cake)
Non-stick cooking spray (or whatever you prefer to use for greasing the insides of your boxes)



Step 1: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare your take-out boxes by spraying the insides of them, or greasing the bottom and halfway up the sides with whatever method floats your boat. Place them in a large cake pan or on a cookie sheet.



Step 2: Make your cake batter...



Step 3: Laddle your batter carefully into your boxes. Start off with about 1/2 C. in each one and then divide the remaining batter as best you can. It's not an exact science...no one will compare who has the bigger cake. They'll all just be stoked to have cake in an adorable take-out box!



Step 4: Carefully wipe any batter that splashed or dripped on the sides or flaps of your boxes. I was super messy. Nothing new.



Step 5: Place your cakepan of take-out cakes in your oven and turn it down to 350 degrees. Time these babies for 15 minutes. Turn, and bake for 10 minutes more. Check them, if a knife or cake tester comes out clean...you're golden. If not, bake them a few minutes longer.


Step 6: Cool completely! I know it's hard. Really, I do. But it's worth it!



Step 7: FILL!!! I used Wilton's bismark filler tip from my cupcake decorating set and piped some organic strawberry preserves into the middle of my cakes...yummy!



Step 8: Frost those puppies! I made a simple chocolate buttercream frosting, but anything would be great--mix it up!



Step 9: Share the delicious, diabetic coma-inducing, adorable love!



These would be great if you made a nice vanilla cake and filled it with a fluffy vanilla buttercream (maybe with a bit of orange zest in it!) The possibilities are endless! Thank goodness I have a ton of these boxes left!


Monday, September 13, 2010

What's up, doc?




I tried out a new recipe today.....







Any guesses???








Carrot cake, of course!

I've always said I hated carrot cake. Something about vegetables being baked into something as delicious as cake has always eeked me out. But today I decided to bake one. WOW! Sweet, sweet carrot cake...where have you been all my life? Maybe it was the lack of raisins that appealed to me, maybe the lack of nuts...but this cake was good!


Not to toot my own horn or anything.


And I get to make MORE carrot cake later this week, as I'm going to let my next bride and groom taste test it. I can't wait! 


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Some recent (and some not so recent) CAKES

Last weekend my good friend got married and I had the exceptional honor of being a bridesmaid and making the cake. Let me just say...it's a LOT more pressure to decorate a wedding cake than a preschooler's birthday cake! Seriously. But Tristin was the most laid back, gracious and fun bride in the history of brides. She rocks. Her sister actually baked the cake (a delicious double chocolate....yum!!!) I filled it with chocolate icing and covered it in fondant.



About a month before each of my kid's birthdays I ask them what kind of cake that want then I start brainstorming. Here are some from the past few years...


This was Solomon's 1st birthday cake, we had a pirate themed party. His cake was HUGE. The ship was chocolate with chocolate filling and the ocean was vanilla cake with chocolate filling. It was decorated with butter cream and chocolate butter cream frosting. This was my first cake and it was super fun to make. Of course it's pretty easy to please a one year old...haha! I could have given him a package of Twinkies and he would have been stoked.




For Sophie's 3rd birthday she was adamant about having a SpongeBob Squarepants birthday. If you don't know....SpongeBob is a sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea, and he works at the Krusty Krab flipping Krabby Patties. I can't take all the credit for these delicious little wonders. Who else but Bakerella would come up with something so cool? These are vanilla cupcakes with 'hamburger' brownies. the lettuce, ketchup and mustard are butter cream.





We served them in little food baskets with sugar cookie 'fries' and strawberry dip. They were a big hit and it was so easy because we didn't need to worry about cutting cake and dishing it up--EASY!




For Solly's 2nd birthday we had a Yo Gabba Gabba theme. I made DJ Lance Rock's hat for the base of the cake and made a little sign for the characters to hold. The cake was vanilla rainbow and filled with raspberry preserves, covered in butter cream. Artificial food coloring overload!!! But ahhhh, what are you going to do? Birthdays come but once a year...





Sophie's 4th birthday was just two months ago (wow I have a four year old! When did that happen?!) and she wanted a Ni Hao, Kai-lan party. This time I went a little overboard, I'll admit. But it was super fun...and once I got the ball rolling it was hard to stop!

First I made mini milk chocolate cupcakes and piped on some red butter cream frosting. I topped them with little caramel fortune cookies that I rolled out of little caramel squares. The cake, frosting, caramel combination made for a really yummy treat!


Next I made rice crispy treat 'sushi' with gummy worm centers wrapped in fruit leather. This was a pretty fast and easy. The only tough part was getting the fruit leather to really stick to the rice crispy treats. Because you have to grease the pan before you spoon in the sticky crispy goop it makes the outside a bit slippery. But with a little coercing it all worked out.




Then came the actual fortune cookies. I tried making my own and failed miserably! So I bought a huge bag of them at cash 'n carry (amazing place!) and got to work. First I used clean tweezers and a bobby pin to pull out the fortunes and I used the same tools to shove custom fortunes back in. They said "Xièxiè for coming to my birthday party. Love-Sophie". Then I thought they looked a bit plain so I dipped them in chocolate and threw some sprinkles on those babies! I put these in chinese food takeout boxes and slipped a pair of chopsticks under the lid. These were the goody bags for all our guests!





And here's the cake...my first shot at working with fondant. It was a two tier vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and sliced strawberries for the filling. I made the marshmallow fondant (tastes MUCH better than the standard fondant) and it was really easy! Look below for the recipe!





Marshmallow Fondant:

1 16oz bag of mini marshmallows
4 T. water
2 lb. powdered sugar (plus extra for kneading)



In a large microwave safe bowl add the marshmallows and water. Nuke those sugary puffs for 60 seconds, stir them up (the easiest way to do this is to spray a spatula with non-stick cooking spray...keeps it all from gommin' up your spoon) nuke this mixture again in 15 second intervals until it's totally smooth. Add your giant bag of powdered sugar (2 pounds) and stir it until you can stir it no longer. Sprinkle powdered sugar on your kneading surface and knead the crud out that stuff! Add more powdered sugar as needed-you don't want it to be sticky, but it can't be too dry either. You can use gel food colors to achieve whatever shade your desire...just make sure you add more powdered sugar to it while you're kneading in the color as it makes it sticky. Cover whatever fondant you aren't using very tightly with Saran wrap.


It has to start somewhere...

Hmmm...so I've got issues. Ask my husband. I love to do many different things...and I can never stick to just one activity for very long. I love to sew, build things, paint, throw pottery, crochet, knit, bake and decorate cakes...the list goes on. For instance, if you were to come to my house right now, you'd see that my dining table has been taken over by multiple sewing projects (a quilt, a few items of clothing for my children and some slippers for my mom) and on my kitchen counter is my tote of cake decorating supplies and my new copy of Cake Pops. Not to mention the half-built bench on my back porch and the crafting/exercise room I've been trying to reorganize and declutter...

What can I say? I get bored easily! So this will be my place to post pictures of my projects...whether they are successes or failures. And hopefully by blogging about certain projects (ie: those slippers...or should I say slipper, because I only [almost] finished one) I will actually finish them! :) I've also had a lot of people ask to see pictures of my cakes (besides little snap shots on my iPhone) and such--so I'll post a bunch of those here next. Along with a random tutorial or giveaway here and there :)

I hope you find something that interests you :)