Friday, December 10, 2010

A Thanksgiving Injury

So this isn't about anything I made, other than an ass of myself. I'm a total clutz, particularly in the kitchen and I've managed to burn myself in all sorts of strange and weird places. Have you seen the title of the blog?! I thought I'd share this one. This one is due to me reaching into the oven to get a sweet potato wonton and hitting my hand on the top burner. It was totally worth it though.

(Like four days post actually burning myself)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

There's at least cake in the name

I realize that there hasn't been just a whole lot of cakes here lately, but this is sorta close. The hubbin's boss at TCTMNBN had a birthday a while back and I got word that she's a big cheesecake fan. So I made her a chocolate cheesecake. Bittersweet chocolate, real Oreo crust (couldn't find the ready-made crumbs at the store so I ended up separating and crushing the cookies myself), and white chocolate topping. I think this may be the recipe I used, but honestly, it's been a while. I heard it went over well.
I even requested a piece of the cheesecake make its way back home so I could have some.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The food that made my momma puke

So yes, she totally did puke after eating these, but I ate half of them and ended up fine so I don't know what her issue was. I thought they were good.

I've toyed with the idea of scones in the past, but it sounded scary. But then I finally looked at a recipe and found out that this is probably the easiest thing to bake ever created. In honor of the holidays I opted for White Chocolate and Cranberry Scones. My little brother and I added some melted white chocolate to the top of the scones. I'll definately make them again (even though the hubbin turned his nose up at them because he "doesn't like cranberries").

And yes, this is a terrible photo. It happens. We've talked before about my photo abilities and my lack of a real camera over Thanksgiving anyway.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More Deep Fried Food

The sopapillas weren't the only deep fried food I made over Thanksgiving. My little brother is an idiot savant when it comes to cooking. He comes up with all sorts of ideas, but this time he had me there to actually carry them out. His bright idea? Sweet potato wontons.

Now I know this sounds strange, but they were SO DANG GOOD! Of course I can't just link to a recipe this time, but we were just winging it as we went anyway. Baked a couple sweet potatoes and toasted some pecan pieces. Then mixed the sweet potatoes with cream cheese, cinnamon, salt, the pecans, and a hit of cayenne pepper. Then we put the sweet potato mixture and a mini marshmallow into a wonton wrapper. Of course the HEB (one of only two grocery stores in town and my mother has announced quite loudly her reasons for not shopping at Wal-Mart) was out of wontons, but they did have egg roll wrappers so we just cut those into smaller squares. Seal up the sides of the wrapper and deep fry until golden brown. Then dust with cinnamon and sugar.

HOLY CRAP!!! These were totally amazing and addicting and even reheated the next day pretty easily. The only shot I got of them (again, with the cell phone):

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Texan Thanksgiving

The hubbin and I got to go home this year for Thanksgiving and unlike 90% of the rest of the U.S., I didn't eat a bit of Turkey. Which is just fine with me. My Mom's family had fajitas and my in-laws had barbque. A real Texas Thanksgiving.

I have to share one of my favorite parts of the holidays. This is why we love my Aunt Linda:

Disclaimer: I didn't take a camera back home with me, so all the pictures from Thanksgiving are taken with my cell phone.

I ended up not baking for this meal, but I did supply the quintessential Tex-Mex dessert: Sopapillas! Is there anything better than deep-fried, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, and then filled with butter and honey goodness?
 These are actually surprisingly easy to make. All it takes is a few easy baking ingredients and a big pot of some HOT oil. And honey, of course. There are lots of recipes that call for yeast, but that's too fussy in my book. Just some Crisco and baking powder are really all that is needed. I used this one. The secret is the oil must be really hot to get them to puff up just right so that you have a big hole to fill with honey.

Or just dump the honey on top. That works too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ben Roethlisberger is allegedly a terrible person

I just thought I'd get that out of the way right off the bat. The cake design should not be miscontrued as approval of any king of Mr. Roethisberger's alleged actions. But the cake turned out pretty cute. :)

My hubbin's co-worker at TCTMNBN is a big Pittsburg fan. (It's much easier than being a Cardinals fan.) So in honor of his birthday, he got a Steelers cake. Flavors are chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, chocolate ganache frosting, and fondant. I bought the black fondant since I've always heard that it is really hard to get the right color otherwise. It stained my countertop pink. Thanks bathroom cleaner with bleach, you got it out pretty good.

So the pics:

 The circles around the cake have the symbols for the six SuperBowls the Steelers have won. The most recent was against the Cardinals. It should be noted that in SuperBowl XXX, the Steelers lost to the Cowboys.

Check out these awesme layers to this cake. How pretty even inside.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lemon Flavored Crack

Okay, not P.C., but I have found the world's best frosting. Seriously, literally (and I use that word literally because I hate when people misuse it). I'm not really a sweets kind of person, though I love to bake. But I can sit with this stuff in a bowl and eat it for days. What is this magic elixir? This ambrosia sent to us lowly baking souls from the gods of the flour and the baking soda? It's swiss meringue buttercream. Martha Stewart has, yet again, won my heart with her recipes. When you have to give a recipe in POUNDS of butter, you know it's gonna be good. So I needed an excuse to make some and came up with two!

Reason #1- My particularly attractive, previously pregnant friend has a newborn at home who is more concerned with his next meal or pooping to give him mom much free time. So I decided she deserved baked goods. :)

Reason #2- The hubbin got a new boss at TCTMNBN. And since his coworkers are my usual guinea pigs, she needed a "Welcome to the Company" cupcake. The hubbin ditched my idea of spelling out "Welcome New Mary" in fondant on the cupcakes.

I dubbed this batch my Strawberry lemonade cake. Though it was pretty skimpy on the strawberries. I was using the rest of the ones I got on sale and I was too cheap to go buy some more. The batter was my go-to vanilla. I'm pretty boring apparently, this is one of my favorite cakes to eat. It tastes like sugar cookies, and who doesn't love them? I chopped up strawberries and added them to the batter. The frosting is Martha's Swiss Meringue Buttercream (see link above). But I dumped in some fresh lemon juice. Melinda declared that she liked her shower cake better, the hubbin declared it wasn't "my best" but I ate like 6 of the dang cupcakes and loved it.

Don't judge me by my frosting or piping abilities- It's rusty with all the fondant here lately and I was running low on frosting (again). But I did bust out my flower making skills from my Wilton's classes and added some roses that were totally off-center. You can find Melinda's pictures of the cake (which I told her couldn't show anything but the flowers since the frosting looks so bad) AND of her particularly attractive baby boy, Camden, on her blog. She has some nice shots of the roses to show you that not everything on this looked like crap.

For the cupcakes, I really like the idea of having tiny little decorations on each of them. So I made some tiny little flowers, then added my pearl drages to them cause I liked it, then I remembered I had some green fondant leftovers and added a leaf. I love them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Making a Splash

I was approached to make a birthday cake for a little boy celebrating a big birthday, his first one!

Meet Miles-

Miles' momma, Cammie, told me that he really likes to go swimming, so she wanted some sort of pool cake. This is him in his swimming outfit. Check out those beautiful blue eyes!  Cammie wanted a two tier cake, one for the party guests and one just for Miles, and I found this cake on my favorite cake website. We decided to make figures of Miles doing different pool stuff, and I told Cammie I had to include his blue swimming hat. :) So without further ado:

The cake! My go-to Magnolia Bakery vanilla cake, ganache filling, and chocolate buttercream.

The Mileses!

I added an umbrella as I was sketching, I thought it was sorta cute. And thanks to an evening run to Wal-Mart by the hubbin', I thought it came out pretty cute. It's made of gumpaste, which hardens better than fondant and is more sturdy since it was going to be wobbling off the side of the cake. I rolled out the green and the brown fairly thin and stacked them, then cut the openings in the brown so the green would show through. The perfectly round shape? I draped it over a Styrofoam ball that I covered in plastic wrap. Brilliant!

Diving board- It was a pool, I thought it appropriate.

Beachball- Cammie asked for some pool toys. I had beach balls, noodles of varying colors, swim rings, and one of those inflatable rubber ducky ring things.

The view from the top. The water is piping gel tinted with food coloring. I'd read a note online someone had made that said to use the coloring sparingly because the piping gel gets dark really fast, she wasn't kidding! This was my sky blue!

But of course the nice blue gel makes a nice big mess when the birthday boy gets into it. :)

Happy 1st Birthday Miles!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A rumbly in Melissa's tummbly

Baby Shower #2!

Seems everyone has gotten themselves knocked up here lately (don't these people know that we're in a recession?!). And I volunteered to make the cake for the baby shower for my very favorite astronomer, the BEAUTIFUL Melissa and her (not a geek) husband Stephen. They're expecting a little boy (who will probably be a giant nerd, but that's okay) any second now.

See? Didn't I tell you she's purty?

Picture above by Sara J Williams Photography. Hope she doesn't mind me borrowing the picture since I gave her a plug. :)

The baby shower theme was Winnie the Pooh, so Pooh cake she got! We went around a while to try to decide on a design for the cake. But the mommy-to-be said to me in an email: "I think when you Said Pooh, I just had this mental image of a full-blown scene with all the characters and trees and everything with cute little quirks like the Mr. Sanders sign and leaves blowing a blustery day and whatnot." I've never doubted that this astronomer is a brilliant woman, but this was actually pretty close to the original idea that I had but scrapped and never pitched to her. It was supposed to be Classic Pooh, but when she wanted Disney Pooh I wasn't sure what to do with it.

So blustery days and Mr. Sanders she got! I love the cartoons and all the funny little Pooh things. And my very favorite part ever is when Pooh sings "I'm just a little, black Hovering over the honey tree" Too cute. So I wanted Pooh and his balloon to take center stage.

Again, I have no pictures of the process, but lots of the finished product.

Pooh's House- Complete with the Mr. Sanders sign and the bell.
Piglet's House- This sign hangs in front of his first house (the one that got flooded). He thought his grandfather's name was Trespassers William.
Roo! This was my favorite out of all the characters I made because he was so darn cute. And with him was Kanga and Roo's mailbox.
The bridge where they play Pooh Sticks. And I learned that this is a real place too! They have Pooh Sticks championships. It was originally Posingford Bridge in Ashdown Forest. You can visit next time you're in the U.K. It's on my list now.
T-I-double-GUH-ER. :) With his corkscrew tail even. 
Evil Piglet-I don't know what happened here. I've tried to pin-point what's wrong, but I just can't put my finger on it. *Sigh* Oh well. At least he looks all blustery, right?
Pooh! (sorta) Apparently the camera focused on Pooh instead of the bee, but it was a nice picture of him anyway.
Rabbit's wheelbarrow- I was gonna make Rabbit and his garden too, but he got dropped last minute. That's what happens when you get a real job that you have to work full time the week before the shower.
Eeyore! He's sweet and adorable and I LOVE how the mohawk turned out.
Pooh's Thoughtful Spot- Halfway between Pooh's house and Piglet's.

The Front

The back

The side
The cake! Chocolate cake, caramel mousse filling, chocolate buttercream frosting (this stuff'll give you the sugar highs). But it looked pretty when it was cut.
Tristan (the cousin-to-be)- The picture was funny, couldn't resist adding it in. :)
And the aftermath- This almost makes me a little sad to see all my little critters like this. We had Tristan to thank for all the ears being eaten off. He's southern, he can't help it. :P

Congratulations Melissa and Stephen! May your baby not be a geek or too big a nerd.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Red-ish Velvet Cupcakes

I was supposed to bake my mom a cake for her 50th birthday, but got a job instead. I figured it was a perfectly fine trade-off but apparently this has been in the back of her head for a year now. So on a trip back home (which included a couple long car rides, 14 hours each way) she declared I had to bake her a cake. Still reeling from the coconut cake disaster, I skipped trusting someone else's cake pans and opted for cupcakes.

BONUS! I had a sous chef for the cake! If you don't speak any French (for that matter, this is probably one of the three French words I know) sous means "under" and it's the chef's right hand man. Or in this case preteen girl. The best part is putting her on "dry stuff" duty since I hate measuring flour. This is why I always just do it by weight. This site is bookmarked on my phone (my cookin' buddy). And Alton Brown says that's the best way to do it anyway. And whatever AB says is like cooking law.

WARNING! PG-13 Friends reference follows. If you're easily offended, please scroll down past the little stars. The only reason I ever remember this French stuff is an episode of Friends when Phoebe dates Monica's sous chef. When Phoebe first meets him and sets up a date, she says to Monica "I can't wait to get sous-neath him". So you have to say the line whenever you think about sous chefs.

So red velvet it was, because it's fast and easy and hard to mess up. But I didn't exactly have enough red food coloring (had to raid my aunt's pantry for supplies and wasn't clear that I needed like a gallong of the stuff). So instead of the usual deep red color, they ended up more pinkish in the bowl. So red-ish velvet they are. And just for the record, my sous chef frosted most of them. :) I take no responsibility.

 Everybody ate 'em, my Dad had three and Mom took home a dozen so I suppose they were fine. Though one sad soul tried her darndest but never got even a crumb:

That's Mia, the most pathetic dog in the world.
So by the end of the evening we had a bunch of these:
But someone found a way to take care of the leftover frosting.
So Happy Birthday Nini!