Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spiderman cake, Spiderman cake!

Last year, I made the Diego cake, for the daughter of Autumn, a lady I work with. That cake wasn't a situation where I had the creative room I'd prefer. This year, however, she came back asking if I could make a birthday cake again - only criteria, Spiderman! Blue. Red.

It was fun :) And my first topsyturvy!

I started out by searching photos of Spiderman. As well as checking out what has been done in the past. Autumn also showed me a few photos of cakes they had found that they liked, so I had a direction, and made a doodle.

I sent this to her, and she gave me a thrilled response. So I knew I was on the right track.

I started out a week ahead to make all of the buttercream, since the colours I would need - red, blue, black were so vivid that they needed a few days to set. The amount of dye in this cake was almost sickening. I would never suggest a vibrantly coloured cake for a wedding - the guests the day after would be reminded in the worst way of what they ate the day before. I also warned Autumn ahead of time that the dye content would have... certain repercussions.

After the frosting was taken care of, I spent an evening with the gumpaste to cut out the buildings. Simple, random building-ish shapes.

The cakes were my favorite buttercake recipe, nice and dense. I made those two days before the due date. That gave them overnight to chill and become more workable the next day.

All the frosting was done on the night before, as it is buttercream, I didn't want to frost and leave it in the fridge overnight, because the buttercream tends to take on the flavors of the refrigerator, if nothing more than just that "refrigerator air" smell/taste.

Carving the cake was far easier than I had thought. I watched a video on you-tube that made it pretty easy for me to apply their suggestions. Unfortunately I didn't get photos of the unfrosted cake. So the next photos are of the first stabs are the frosting.

A lesson I have certainly learned is that transitioning colours on a corner is really really difficult, especially if you want a nice clean edge. I did however learn quite a few tricks to working with buttercream, and getting a nice smooth look. I'm no longer scared to attack a fondant-free cake!

All assembled, here is the final cake. (Unfortunately, it seems that flash does weird things to shiny, butter surfaces, so it looks strange)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Olivia Ears

This isn't a food blog.
Although I think you've noticed that I post about a lot of cake and food and cookies and things that make me fatter by the day.
Ok so maybe it's a food blog.

But I so other things too. Sometimes I'm crafty.
Crafty like a fox.

For Squeaker's Halloween this year, we went for Olivia. Oh do we love Olivia, she's independent, out spoken, wishful, and endearing. Maybe I'm the one in love with Olivia, but whatever.

I had this conversation with my mom.

Me: So Des wants to be Olivia for Halloween.
Mom: Oh how sweet!
Me: Yeah, that should be fun. Now I just have to figure out how in the world to make big pig ears. And find stripy fabric.
Mom: You could use felt?
Me: Hmmm.. Felt.. Yes. I wonder...

Ok so there was more and that's from memory from over a month away, but you get the idea.
Anyway. Here's what Mom was thinking
"Yeah, you could cut the felt and stuff it, maybe glue or sew it together, and attach it to a headband.. Hmm"
And I was thinking
"Wow, I have no idea how to Felt. Hm... I'm going to have to look on YouTube and see if anyone has tutorials. I wonder how hard it is. Oh here's a tutorial, oh cool ok I can do this.. Hmm.. Fabric, wire, needles, check... Lets stab the living heck out of the felt, well hey, it's like fabric clay! This is AWESOME! Yeye ! EARS!"

So erm, apparently we have a communication issue. And if I had realized what Mom meant in the first place, I would have totally done that - but no, I went the hard way. I molded my own ears out of felt. There's no sewing here folks. And the only glue I used was to attach the ribbons to the ears, and the ears to the headband.

Sweet, huh? I'm pretty proud.

Step by step on this coming up.

Hot Creamy Polenta Cereal

Let's get rejuvenated.
It's been months. Sad and pathetic months since I've blogged, and the guilt has been pecking at my toes. It's annoying.
So here I am! (sans photos in this post, sadly. cope)

I'd like to come back to you with something new to me. Something amazing, something I cannot believe I've never had (double negatives 4 u!) before.

What is this mystery? Creamy Polenta!

OK, so I've only eaten polenta a small handful of times. Maybe more of a generous pinch. And I've only ever cooked with it once - all of my experiences were savory adventures - tasty, but not thrilling.

The other day, Squeaker requested Oatmeal for breakfast. "Not on the stove, the kind in the microwave, Mommy" nice that she can be so specific, but we had neither the stovetop nor instant varieties on hand. It also turned out that the box of Malto-O-Meal was 1/2 TBS away from empty.

It's sad when you have to tell your child that you don't have food.* That you're broke and she'll have to settle for uncooked noodles, rotten bananas, and almost molding bread**. So I scoured the cupboards for some sort of morning meal replacement. 'Lo and behold! The Tupperware of Polenta was available, and I had heard on some Food Network show sometime long ago that Polenta was eaten as a warm breakfast cereal. So that's what I made, and boy is it good. I want you to try it.

Creamy Breakfast Polenta with Fresh Fruit and Sweetened Sour Cream
Prep Time : 30 minutes
Makes enough for 2 hungry hungry hippos

  • 1/2 cup polenta (I think it really is just coarse corn meal. Lets pretend I know what I'm talking about)

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 1/2 TBS sugar

  • 1/2 TBS salted butter

  • Large Dash o salt

Combine everything but the polenta into a saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring (don't scald the milk to the bottom of the pan, man that's a mess). Once boiling, pour in polenta while stirring to avoid lumps. Mix mix mix until lumps have been eradiated. Turn the stove down such that you have a very gentle simmer going on.

Every 5 minutes or so give it a stir, let cook for about half an hour until thick and soft.

Sweetened Sour Cream which is heavenly should be served with the cereal - stir a hand-dash** of sugar with about half a cup of sour cream.
Also recommended, fresh fruit (or maybe jam? Sounds too sweet to me though, maybe nuts. yes, nuts would be good).
We ate ours with sliced strawberries. JOY!

*We have food
**Dear lord, do you think I'm serious??
**Hand-Dash: A quick handful, not a tight fisted one, just kinda throw your hand in the jar and scoop some out. Maybe an 1/8 cup, maybe less. I guess. I have no idea.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm hip, I'm cool, I'm with it

Nope. Still don't have a computer. However, being totally techie
savvy, I've discovered blogging by email, sent on my iPhone. Soooo

Having moved to Salinas, I've been looking around for local goodness.
Fancy that the first thing be the Saturday Farmer's Market - Salinas
being the Salad Bowl Capitol of the World or somesuch (check your
lettuce, from Salinas?)

I'm trying to make a visit to the market part of the weekly routine.
So far, so good! And so good it is! Last week I picked up some meaty
heirloom tomatoes which fabulousized a lasagne quite well. This week,
I decided to fancy them up a bit - sliced, oil-drizzled, sprinkled
with parmasan, and smeared with basil (yes, I use the basil in a tube

They cooked up sweet and juicy.

And did you know that heirlooms aren't all gushy and liquid in the
middle? These things are tasy tomato flesh nearly all the way through!!

This phone blogging is a bit cumbersome...

later edit: unfortunatly the photos I so expertly included didn't make it. Not so awesome as I thought :( ... Going to have to work on this.

Testing... Testing...

Just you wait

Monday, August 3, 2009

I've failed so terribly

There are a few dead blogs in my Google Reader.. blogs which never update but for that once-every-few-months-post simply stating "I'm so sorry, I've neglected you my readers, I'm here, I am, but life has taken the front seat and thrown blogging in the trunk.. I'll be back, I promise!"

I keep these blogs on my list and wait, hope.. some end up being deleted. Some have that final message "I'm sorry, it's not you.. it's me. I just can't blog anymore" and some simply don't ever return.. but there is that one-in-a-bunch blog that does come back. So I stay hopeful!

I make no promises. But I do want to blog again soon.. heck, I want to bake! I haven't done either in so long, it is a very sad thing. See, life did that thing where it got.. busy... it's all a big pile of excuses, which I've already used at that, and I am so sorry, I am.

I'll be back. I will.
Wait.. that's a promise... oh fudge.

mmm... fudge...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009




Long time.. no, err.. posty.

You see... I'm busy, and well.. yes, too busy to update.

I'm the worst blogger ever.

I have some photos of things. But I can't upload them. Both. BOTH of the computers have gone totally to hell. I use the iPod Touch to play online now, and, well.. posting here isn't that easy.

I'm also moving. Well, not just moving, but buying a house. BUYING A HOUSE. !!!

So I'm busy, and as much as I miss you, I do, I really do... I just can't make the time right now..

Oh I'll be back, I will. Just let me have this time to slack somewhere in my life, please? The stress is getting to me!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicken McNugget Happy Meal ... Cake?

Oh boy. This was a fun one. I'm calling it a successful failure... my plans for this 'cake' were far greater than I achieved, however, I'm so thrilled about the look of the McNuggets that I'm over it!

Besides, I've realized that whenever I do a test cake.. the second cake ends up at least 500x better (examples? the Quilt before and after and Rubber Ducky before and after cakes) - so I'm confident if I were to do it again, I would get what I had originally envisioned, and that's good enough for me right now.

The plan was a Happy Meal - for Ryan (of cakes past). As he correctly guessed, it was a poke at the fact that he doesn't ever eat more than a kid (Des once ate more than him...)

The Failure:
I had hoped to have a happy meal box, built much like a gingerbread house over the vanilla cake, frosted with chocolate icing. I had also planned a McNugget box as well - both of these were casualties of icing crappiness, and last minute doing of things. I should have done more ahead of time.

The frosting was done all in an hour or two - and because I was semi-rushed, that meant that the colours bled and things just weren't as sharp as I would hope.

The Success:
The chicken nuggets and fries! OMG love it!

Served with chocolate syrup "BBQ Sauce", the fried cake nuggets (yes, yes I DID fry cake and it was everything I wanted it to be) are dead ringers for chicken nuggets! The fries were cookies - baked long and slow to brown them), glazed and sugared to give that oily shine, and salty look. They were served with some tube frosting "Ketchup".

Dan stepped in on this project and made me a fry bag and cup out of French butter cookies (much like fortune cookies). And it was awesome. He also did some cool design things that I might have to make him do for future projects.

Oh and yes, that's a happy meal toy on top of the cake.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Romantic Dinner

Dan and I recently celebrated 8 years of being together (8 years!)
We decided that instead of going out, spending lots of money, and having to get a babysitter, we would stay in and make dinner together.
This was an amazing night, and decidedly far more romantic and intimate than going out to eat at any fancy pantsy restaurant. The meal was amazing to boot! This was by far one of my favorite anniversary celebrations, and I look forward to next time!

The menu we decided on was Lobster Thermador, Bacon Wrapped Fillet Mignon, French Onion Soup, and ginger carrots. All said and done - we forgot the carrots.

Dan took care of the fillets, seasoning lightly, grilling briefly and then baking, simple and elegant.

The lobster was a good amount of work, and full of butter and cheese (so healthy).
Lobster Thermador

I purchased frozen tails - and thawed in a water bath earlier in the day.

First the tails are boiled about 10 minutes - before they are cooked through.
Rinse with cool water until you can handle them - split the shell down the middle and take out the meat. Cut into bite sized pieces. Wash the shells and put aside.

Next, finely chop 2 shallots, 2 tsp fresh tarragon (we later decided that more would have been welcome), and 2 tsp chervil (the produce guy at the store helped me pick out fresh parsley instead - since they didn't usually have chervil. Boil these all in 1 cup of fish stock with a splash (or three) of white wine - reduce to half.

While this is reducing, start a roux - in a pan melt 1/4 cup butter - add 2 tbsp flour, 1 tsp dry mustard and stir constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. don't let it brown.
While stirring, slowly add the reduced stock and 1 cup of milk while the pan is off the heat, stirring until smooth. Pout back on the heat and slowly bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Allow to simmer (Stir every now and again) for 3 minutes, the sauce will thicken. Add 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan. Taste. YUMMY isn't it? Add salt an pepper in small amounts until it's irresistibly good (like a really really rich bisque).

Leave that pan where it is - and now use another pan to melt another 1/4 cup of butter. Fry the lobster until *just* done and starts to brown.

Preheat the broiler.
Divide half of the sauce among the 4 shell halves. (photos shoe the soup in ramekins as well)

Add the lobster to each tail in even amounts - and then pour the rest of the sauce over them. Divide 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese over them.

Put them all in the broiler until the cheese starts to colour a nice golden brown. remove and serve!
oh it's to die for... artery clogging joy.

The soup, I started around 5... we didn't eat until midnight because the soup took that long... while it was very good, and even Des enjoyed leftovers - I've made French onion Soup before will a different recipe and it was far better, so I won't detail the recipe I used here, since I don't care t share a recipe I wasn't thrilled with!

Our meal was excellent, and although it was certainly a good amount of work - it was all easy. The ingredients themselves cost us less than going out for this meal would have been, but it was still not a cheap meal..

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Can you believe it? MORE COOKIES!

After receiving one of the cookie bags that I made for the baby shower last week - my friend Darlena asked if she could put in an order for herself - HECK YEAH!
80 cookies total (plus an additional 24 that I made *just in case*), it's been far more work that I thought it would be (if they had all been the same one or two designs it would have been infinitely easier) but I'm done, a day early - and pretty happy with the results!
I learned, as always, a lot - and I can see a noticeable difference in the first cookies I decorated vs the 100th (bees and ducks were last, bunny was first). Also - I got to use my shimmer dust on the inset wings, and I almost never get to use that stuff.

She's giving most of these away as gifts, but liked the cookies themselves so much, she divulged some would make it to her own freezer.

The colouring and shimmer doesn't come through well in photos - but the lines you see in the frosting are colour from the dust, and the whole wing glimmers like ruby slippers...

Would you believe that I hardly ate any?
Eh, me either.. about 5 made it into my tummy over the three days of preparation.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cookies cookies cookies COOKIES!!!!!!!!!! (Part 3)

Brandy got this sinister book for me.
I craved chocolate.
I looked for a simple recipe in this book to satisfy.
I found it.
The cookies were simply called "Chocolate Cookies" and they were more than just that. Mmmmm...

I made ice cream sammiches with a bunch of them - and I have to say I don't know that I can every justify buying ice cream sammiches ever again, because these blow store-bought ones out of the water.

So yes. One recipe down, and Crave is a winner so far.

Cookies cookies cookies COOKIES!!!!!!!!!! (Part 2)

Lemon Drops!

What you need:

Sugar cookie dough
small cookie cutter, or not, you could just roll and flatten little pieces of dough
lemon juice
powdered sugar

  • Cut and bake little cookies, I used my linzer cookie cutter set, and actually cut small lemons

  • Mix up a thin glaze by combining lemon juice and powdered sugar

  • Toss cooled cookies in the glaze - spread on a rack and left dry - toss again in glaze for more flavor if desired and let dry again

  • Toss cookies with powdered sugar to coat

  • Devour

Cookies cookies cookies COOKIES!!!!!!!!!! (Part 1)

My birthday happened recently.
My sister sent my way an assortment of cookie cutters and candy molds that made me giddy - a butterfly set I'd been eying, and a bunch of totally cute animal cutters - totally random too!

So, of course - I had to make me some cookies!
I finally found a fantastic sugar cookie recipe that actually works for me - the dough holds it's shape as it cooks, and the cookies come out soft yet firm - perfect!
As usual, it's a recipe I found on AllRecipes - which if you haven't noticed already is one of my favorite recipe resources.

As I was babbling to Erin about my cute new cutters at work, she asked if I would be able to make some cookies as favors for a baby shower tomorrow - of course!
We decided that the person the shower is for is so random (no, he's like crazy random, in the more awesome way) that the cookies didn't have to - and perhaps shouldn't - make any sense whatsoever.

Thanks Kristi for giving me a frog and camel cutter - the perfect totally odd pair of animals!

This was my first time using the color fill method for frosting - and considering that I'm totally happy with the results. This is a great technique that I really want to play with some more. (and man do I need to work on my piping)

These cookies will be paired up and put into cello bags tied with blue and light blue ribbons. I'd take a photo - but they aren't dry enough to bag yet!

Thanks Kristi - I can't wait to make a huge batch of bumble bees! I think that's my favorite cutter! (oohh.. I could also make flies for a poo cake. someone request a poo cake so I can make some flies!)

Tastes like chicken

While stocking up on my 50lb bag of sugar, and 25 lb bag of flour (oh yes, really - I've gone through a few of each too) at Smart & Final last week, I passed by chickens - and they called out to me.

I decided to stuff the bird with mushrooms, which I sweated with onions, butter, cloves, thyme, and ginger before stuffing and dressing the chicken (with.. toothpicks and green sewing thread. yes. thread. I might consider investing in some kitchen twine... )

While the bird was roasting, I sauteed up the innards and gave them to Gabby and Fizzgig. - I actually had reservations about that, since it seems I really should have attempted to cook up and eat the bits, but I just couldn't bring myself to be that brave - besides, the animals were *stoked*.

The chicken was tasty, but a little dry, and the stuffing was bland. Dan made up some lemon tarragon cream sauce and pasta - which was super totally awesome - and the sauce was just what the chicken needed! (that sauce could have fixed anything)
It was a pretty bird though!

10 minute pizza

On the way home the other day, I asked Des what she wanted for dinner - Pizza!
I spend the ride home trying to convince her that we do not, infact have pizza.

"We don't have any pizza at home honey.. what about chicken?"
"No, I want pizza"
"We can't have pizza.."
"What about... grilled cheese and soup?!"
"No soup, Mommy, pizza for Dessy" (she has started making things, and herself sometimes, cuter - Dessy, chairy, shirty.. you name it)
... etc.

So anyway, when we got home I had finally decided "Hey, why can't we make a pizza? Duuhh... I bake things, I can bake pizza!"

And so, we did.
And it was actually pretty awesome - and unbelievably easy, and fast. It really did only take us about 10 minutes to mix, assemble and toss in the oven.

This recipe for dough was great, and the toppings were just a conglomeration of what was in the fridge, leftover marinara and a shredded 'mexican' cheese mix. Des helped measure and sprinkle toppings - she's getting pretty good at helping cook - and is learning what the measurements are called!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friends and Food

Chris and Brandy have come over a few times now for dinner - they bring something, we make something, our powers combined - we eat awesome food!

This last week was no exception. Dan and Brandy were in charge of this meal, and it was stellar.

Chicken burgers with slices of grilled pineapple and thousand island dressing. Roasted veggies, and fried rice. It was awesome!

The burgers were *really* big. Des's was practically the size of her head! All of us had something of a struggle taking bites of those monsters.

I'm pretty sure we're doing dinner again tomorrow... I need to clean the house!
And make something for tomorrow!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Apple Fritters!

Earlier this week, there was a conversation.

Me: Man. I want a donut.
Dan: I've been craving them all week!
Me: ME TOO!! We could make some you know.
Dan: Yeah, but do we need to?
Me: Well... no...

I won't bother repeating the recipe here, since we followed this one with no modifications.

They were excellent.

Splendid Brownies

A long while back, I bought a bag of Splenda for Baking - because I was curious. I've only used it once, with not so great results. So tonight, while trying to think of a tasty, and not so unhealthy desert to make for the dinner we're having with Chris and Brandy tonight - I decided to try to make brownies - with Splenda!

These are cakier than I would prefer for a brownie (next time - one less egg), but once covered in chocolate and refrigerated they almost have an ice cream cake quality that I really like.
Since the recipe has chocolate in it, there is sugar present, which is I think why the recipe actually works. These come out to about 100 calories a cake, and 5 grams of fat. (Next time I will also work to lower the fat - its all those chocolate chips)

Ok, so theyre not so healthy either, but they're a start...

I modified this recipe

Splendid Brownies

1/2 cup Splenda for baking
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 inch square pan.
In a medium saucepan, combine the splenda, butter and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling.
Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth.
Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the chocolate mixture.
Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Turn out of pan and cut into squares.
Allow to cool completly in refrigerator.

Melt choclate chips of varying flavor and coat brownies.
Place on parchment paper to solidify - put in fridge to speed up solidification.

I dipped mine in combinations of mint, milk chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Best cold, in my opinion! (and the mint are stellar, next time, all mint/milk chocolate!)

Home Made (Lazy) Bread

Dan spent the last year pining for a bread maker, and finally got from from work simply because it was so cheap. So now we have a bread maker (a cheap one, but so far it's proving to work just fine).

We've only made a few loaves of bread in it, but this one is the first that I really liked. I adapted this recipe.

Pecan Oat Wheat Bread
2 1.4 tsp (1 packet) Yeast (I used Active Dry)
1 cup warm water (about 110F)
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup ground oats (I attatcked some oats with a mortar and pestl)
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Combine the water, sugar and yeast in the breadpan. Let rest for 10 minutes. Add all other ingredients, set on Whole Wheat setting. Start.

Only downside to this recipe is because of the time for the yeast to rest,  you can't leave it on the timer and have it ready and warm in the moring.
Talk about lazy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This is not a cake

These little cakes are devious - they're not cake at all! They're candy in disguise! (That's Charlie the Unicorn, for Dan, btw)

Well, I guess that's the idea, to emulate the candy they were made to taste like - eating it is just like biting into a nice rich candy. 
I wanted to make a cake for my Mom's birthday visit yesterday, and when I came across this post over on How To Eat a Cupcake I stopped looking. (I won't post the recipe here, as she explains it very well)

First, the making of the buttercrunch candy - it took me three tries to get the candy right - first batch was grainy, second batch burned, third batch - perfect! I documented this with photos. The sacred heart is the second batch, fitting no? (The colors on my camera are coming out weird. Hrmmm..)

God I hate making candy. Sugar requires too much perfection/patience for me to handle.
The candy then has a layer of poured chocolate, and a sprinkling of pecans and sea salt. (Yes, sea salt!)

I decided on a simple white cake (actually, the recipe on the back of the SoftAsSilk box, it's not too bad). This I baked in  a 12in round pan, and then sliced into 4 thin layers. Then, in the most wasteful way, I used cookie cutters to make cute individual cakes. The leftover tidbits were munched on, but in a fit of anger I threw them out the following morning. Dangerous stuff.

Two more steps, almost done - next, the making of the caramel filling. This was awesome stuff, and you may question the salt, but don't, simply do not question the salt. Try it - you'll like it! (this goes for the sprinkling of salt on the candy as well, it is so critical to the taste)

After filling eat layer of the cakes with caramel, the final step was to make the ganache. Sadly, I only had half and half - which of course turned out some thin not-so-ganachey-ganach. it of course tasted and worked just fine, but didn't create the lovely silky chocolate coating I had envisioned.

These cakes were so rich, thick, and very tasty! 

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