Thursday, March 29, 2012


With my two little helpers or destroyers...

As I typed the words "little helpers" I can hear the sound of toys banging together.

But today we made snickerdoodles.  You know the sugar cookies covered in a mix of cinnamon and sugar.  I'm a big fan of cinnamon.  And the reason I wanted to make these cookies was to toss in some chocolate chips to see how I liked the combo.  But I was so distracted about not letting the bowl of cinnamon and sugar fall on the floor as the girls rolled the cookie balls that I near forgot to include the chips!

So out of 2-3 dozen cookies, less than ten of them have chocolate chips.  Is there any cure for this brainlessness I have?

I didn't think so.

Oh well, I'll just have to make more and try to remember the chips.

From:  Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

1 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)  *I used straight shortening.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 T. sugar
2 tsp cinnamon (But if you accidentally read that as Tablespoons add a couple more T. of sugar and dump some into a shaker for your toast.  Not that I know from experience or anything.)
Chocolate Chips (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees F.
MIX shortening, sugar and eggs thoroughly.
COMBINE flour, cream of tarter, soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Then add to egg mixture.
SHAPE dough into balls and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until they have flattened out a bit.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies depending on the size of your the dough balls.

These cookies came out quite crispy.  I think the next time I might try something different to make them a bit more soft and chewy.  I'm just not exactly sure what that something is, right now.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 23, 2012

French Toast

It's what's for dinner!  Especially on a Friday during lent.

Start with a baguette that's a few days old.

Flour, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  Oh did I mention a few eggs and half-and-half?  Mix it all up and let them soak.  Then fry them up in a hot pan.

YUM!  I made a strawberry sauce with the strawberries I froze last summer.  Or it's really good with warm apple sauce.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar for an added bit of sweetness.  Please excuse me while I lick my screen.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pretty Little Carrot Cake

I saw this beautiful wedding cake by Jess Hill Cakes in a magazine called Wedding Cakes a Design Source (a publication out of the UK).  The cake is pure white and the tops of each tier are covered in small hydrangea flowers in shades of blue.  It's simple, yet elegant and oh soo pretty.

I don't often do pretty cakes, as maybe you've noticed.  Which means I need to practice whenever I get the chance!  Which is exactly what this cake is.  Practice.

The best part of all?  I get to eat it and share it with my immediate family.  And for no particular reason at all.  Which makes it more special.

Birthday cake is expected, but cake for no reason is special.  Like unexpected flowers.  Those are the best!

And come to think of it.  This is cake for no reason with flowers!!  How great!  And yummy too.  Carrot cake strong with cinnamon and nuts, covered and filled with cream cheese frosting.  Carrot is my favorite closely rivaled by pumpkin spice cake or double chocolate zucchini cake.  All of which are covered in cream cheese frosting.  Maybe it's not the cake but the frosting.  Maybe my favorite cake is any cake covered in cream cheese frosting.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jupiter Cake

For a boy turning five who really loves Jupiter...A Jupiter cake complete with four moons.

This cake was red velvet with cream cheese frosting, covered in marshmallow fondant.  What a great choice.  Slice into a planet and it's got to be red inside!  I painted the stripes and eye with diluted food coloring.  The moons are fondant.

 Evan, I hope your birthday was Out of THIS WORLD!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Or as Nestle's calls them Choc-oat-late chip cookies.  These are really good.

Think oatmeal raisin cookies but replace the raisins (eww) with Chocolate chips (Yum!).  Raisins are OK. I'm just not a huge fan.  I like them paired with salty foods best, like peanuts.  Not cookies.  Actually, most of the time if I find a recipe that includes raisins but otherwise looks good, I'll substitute chocolate chips for the raisins and I'm happy.

But here I didn't have to substitute.  No Raisins, just chips.  Great!  But they forgot to add cinnamon so I diverged from the original recipe by 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.  And I think it's perfect!  Try the recipe and tell me if you agree.

Choc-oat-late Chip Cookies
From: Nestle's Best-ever Cookies

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 T milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c quick or old-fashioned oats
2 c chocolate chips (I used 1/2 semi-sweet and 1/2 dark chocolate chips - cause that's how I roll)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I added this)

COMBINE flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.
BEAT brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy.
BEAT in eggs, milk and vanilla.
GRADUALLY beat in flour mixture.  Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
DROP by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE in preheated 375 degree oven for 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12-13 minutes for crisp cookies.  Let stand for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen..

YUM.  Don't you just want to take a bite of your screen?  Well, don't.  That would hurt your teeth I think.  Make the cookies instead.  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oh the Places You'll Go Cake!

Dr. Seuss is synonymous with childhood and imagination.  And what great inspiration for a baby shower cake.

My friend Dawn and her husband Kevin are adventurous people who have travelled the world.  And so now that they are expecting their first child...Dr. Seuss's book "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" seems to fit right in with their life style.  And it really is a great book.

I must admit that I had heard of it but before she had mentioned it as a possible baby shower cake theme, I had never read the book for myself.  After a quick read while at the bookstore, I was immediately flooded with ideas for a cake.  I finally settled on something that I felt captured the colors and theme in a simple way.  There is SO much detail in the Seuss books that it would be quite easy to create a cake with too much.

The cake is a vanilla butter cake filled with chocolate pudding and covered with vanilla buttercream.  The stripes, clouds and baby are fondant.  The balloon is a styrofoam egg covered in fondant.

I greatly enjoyed making this cake, though it took me WAY too long.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gingerbread Scones

Monday was the perfect day for scones.

It was cold, snowy and windy here.  The girls and I didn't have anywhere to go or anything planned that day.  So it was the perfect day to bake scones.

So that's what we did.

I'm a bit of a control freak, so of course they were allowed to help, but in a very limited capacity.  I did NOT want flour covering every surface in my kitchen...So I did the measuring and they dumped the ingredients into the bowl.  It worked out well.

I plopped the very sticky dough on my floured work surface and they asked, "Is that Playdoh?  Can I touch it?"  To which I laughed and said no, as visions of cleaning scone dough out of hair flashed in my head.

Eventually I'll conquer the control freak and let them become more involved assistants...But for right now, I think this was a good first step.

Gingerbread Scones
From: Grandma's Molasses

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 T. brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c cold butter
1/3 c Grandma's Molasses
1/2 c milk
1 egg, separated
Sugar for sprinkling

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, combine the molasses, milk and egg yolk until smooth.  Stir into the flour mixture until moistened.  Turn out onto a floured surface; knead gently 6-8 times.  Pat into an 8" circle; cut into 12 wedges and place 1" apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I placed my scones in the freezer while the oven warmed.  A trick I learned from the King Arthur Flour.)  Beat egg white until frothy; brush over scones.  Sprinkle with sparkling sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

This recipe is pretty good, but I might make some changes next time, such as adding cinnamon chips.  I think that would be a nice addition.  Or I'll substitute molasses for some of the sugar in the Harvest Pumpkin Scone recipe.

These were good but they could be better.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Under the Sea Baby Shower Cake

My friend Dawn is pregnant with her first child, a boy.  Finding out that she was pregnant brought back a LOT of memories.  It happens every time I find out someone is pregnant.  Being pregnant, at least for me, was such a profound experience.  It changed me forever, as I think it does for most women.

Memories of the mix of emotions.  Joy and a little apprehension.  How will this person change me and my life?  Memories of the physical changes and sensations.  Feeling the movements of another life within is strange and remarkable.  I'll never forget lying in bed and feeling two sets of hiccups while trying to sleep.  I smile now thinking about it, but I also remember being slightly annoyed at the time.

Dawn and her husband Kevin, painted the baby's room a beautiful medium blue color.  Which she remarked evoked visions of ocean life...Thus an Under the Sea themed baby shower cake was born.

Immediately I was flooded with ideas.  Baby riding the ocean currents to a tropical island.  Once the cradle washed ashore, baby attempts to climb out and explore the island, while a mermaid watches from nearby.  Below, life in the ocean unfolds.  An octopus and coral, fish and other sea creatures.

Dawn and Kevin are adventurous people, traveling to faraway lands and conquering mountain tops on their snowboards.  So having their child climbing out to explore seemed natural.  This is may not be the typical baby shower cake, not as cutesy.  But still a lot of fun.

 My octopus was inspired from Debbie Brown's Enchanted Cakes for Kids.  I like how he turned out.

I still have not mastered a perfectly smooth buttercream...I might be over whipping it.  If you have any advice, please leave me a comment.  Thanks for stopping by!