Monday, April 27, 2009

Strawberry Cake Bites

Final shower upload! These were made from leftover cake, and they went fast. I ended up making something like 170 of them, so I sent some to the office with Walter today as well.

Strawberry Cake Bites

Nothing new here. My mother loves these and was very "helpful" when I was making them. She kept deciding one looked "messed up," meaning she had to take care of it for me. She probably ate ten of them. ;)

-1 recipe 1-2-3-4 Cake
-1 recipe Strawberry Cream
-Light cocoa melting discs

1. Crumble prepared cake into crumbs. Mix in strawberry cream until well combined.
2. Roll cake mixture into small balls. Dip in melted chocolate and cool on wax paper. Drizzle with additional chocolate if desired.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Winnie the Pooh Cake

I am so glad the shower is over. It took me a week to complete this cake, and then it melted on the way to my mother's house. It looked perfect and fantastic when I left the house, but in 80 degree Missouri weather with no air conditioning, it was droopy by the time I got there, and the fondant was tearing a bit on the top tier, causing the strawberry cream to leak out...everyone said it looked good and that it tasted fantastic, so I guess I am being too hard on myself. But I was nearly in tears at the fact that it melted so much, and I am almost embarrassed to post it on here given how horrible I think it turned out. Regardless, I have a number of pictures of it and its details. I will go ahead and post the pictures first, and then I will post the recipes for the fondant and strawberry cream.

EDIT: I am much more impressed with myself and this cake than I was last night. I have decided that if everyone else in the world thinks it turned out okay, I must be the one in the wrong. :) Thank you so much to everyone for your support.

Winnie the Pooh Cake

This cake was a white cake that was filled and frosted with a strawberry whipped cream and covered in marshmallow fondant. The cake and modeling chocolate recipes I used can be found here. All of the detailing (except the clouds, which were fondant) was done in white chocolate. I used food coloring to color the layers of the cake different colors:

Front of the cake:

Side of the cake:

Back of the cake. Pooh is caught in Rabbit's door...I foolishly put him on the cake before I left home, so he sagged quite a bit:

Winnie the Pooh:

The door to Pooh's house:

Winnie the Pooh, stuck in Rabbit's door. As you can see, he melted and got somewhat squished on the ride there:


My sister:

The sign for Rabbit's House:



Close up of Eeyore's tail:


Strawberry Cream Filling

This recipe is an adaptation of the Cookies and Cream Filling I used here, which I found at Annie's Eats.

-1 1/4 cup heavy cream
-2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 cup strawberry puree

1. Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Mix until all sugar is incorporated. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Mix in strawberry puree until well combined.

Marshmallow Fondant

This is a delicious and easy recipe that I found here at Skinny Food by Amy. I think I will be using it for all fondant cakes from now on.

-1 cup mini marshmallows
-1 Tablespoon water I replaced 1/8 teaspoon water with 1/8 teaspoon strawberry oil in one batch of fondant--I made about 6 batches)
-1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1. Place marshmallows in microwave safe bowl and add water and candy oil (if using). Microwave for about 20 seconds, just long enough for marshmallows to puff up.
2. Stir marshmallows until liquified and soupy. Add powdered sugar and mix until well-incorporated and no longer sticky.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cream Cheese Mints

I am finally done with baby shower preparations, or at least most of them. I still have to decorate the cake and make cake balls, but that should be easy as...well...cake.

Cream Cheese Mints

This recipe has been in my family for a while. I don't know where it came from orginially. It was given to me by my aunt. I doubled it...each recipe makes about 40 mints.

-3 ounces cream cheese
-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-1/2 teaspoon mint extract
-food coloring

1. Combine ingredients and knead with hands until a smooth dough forms.
2. Shape into small balls (about the size of marbles) or use molds to create desired shapes. Chill on wax paper for 1 to 2 hours or until set.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"The Chewy" Chocolate Chip Cookies

Taking a break from the grueling task of the Winnie the Pooh shower cake (it will be beautiful when I finish, at least, but woooow am I tired of working on it) to make Walter's office its weekly snack.

The Chewy

This is Alton Brown's recipe, and a quite popular one. It'd be even better if it made any sense. Everyone I know that has tried it has had different results. Me? I doubled the recipe. The second time I made the recipe, the cookies turned out like the ones above. The first time, they looked like this:

All of them tasted good, so Walter's office is not shorted, but it confuses me that they did not all turn out the same. I DID chill the second batch, but not the first. That could have something to do with it. Regardless, this was an okay recipe, but I don't think it will replace my Better Homes and Gardens one.

-2 sticks unsalted butter
-2 1/4 cups bread flour
-1 teaspoon kosher salt (I used table salt)
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 1/4 cups brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 egg yolk
-2 tablespoons milk
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt the butter. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
3. Add the sugar and brown sugar to melted butter. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed with an electric mixer. Add the egg, yolk, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the sheet halfway through and checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Italian Seasoned Chicken

Time for another "let's throw random spices together" marinade!

Italian Seasoned Chicken

This doesn't taste Italian. In fact, it tastes kind of like KFC, but not fried. Pretty decent, overall. I roasted some potatoes with it (just some garlic salt and pepper, some butter, and some chopped potatoes...baked at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes), and it was a great meal.

-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
-1 cup oil
-1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
-1 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon oregano
-1/2 teaspoon sage
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1. Combine all ingredients. Let set in refrigerator for 1-24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Place chicken breasts in 9 by 13 baking pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until center of each breast registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers and Bacon Barbecue Burgers

I LOVE warm weather. Love love love. It is the most fantastic weather for grilling. Spring is great because it's warm enough to grill but not so humid that I can't go outside. Fantastic.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

I got the inspiration for this recipe here at allrecipes. However, I changed it so heavily that it is hardly the same recipe. I really enjoyed them, but could only eat one because of my lactose intolerance and because they were SPICY. Of course. Because they were jalapenos. But grilled bacon is fantastic.

-1 cup sour cream
-2 teaspoons ranch dressing
-1 teaspoon bacon salt
-1 teaspoon garlic salt
-1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
-10 jalapenos
-10 slices bacon

1. Combine first five ingredients.
2. Cut jalapenos in half, but keep sides attached. Remove seeds.
3. Fill jalapenos with sour cream mixture and close jalapenos. Wrap each with one slice of bacon and slide onto skewers.
4. Grill until bacon is crispy, about 30 minutes. Remove from skewers and serve warm.

Bacon Barbecue Burgers

These are the best barbecued burgers I have made thus far. The bacon salt is nice but not overpowering.

-1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
-1 1/2 teaspoons bacon salt
-1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
-2 teaspoons McCormick grilling mates hamburger seasoning
-Hickory barbecue sauce for coating

1. Mix bacon and garlic salts and hamburger seasoning into ground beef. Separate and form into patties.
2. Grill patties, flipping halfway through, brushing with barbecue sauce after each flip, until they are 160 degrees in their centers. Brush with additional barbecue sauce and serve.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake Bites

Friday, I started my cake for Easter. It stuck to the pan, so I made it into cake balls. Walter's office loves cake bites.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake Bites

I love cake bites because they are easy to make, easy to ship, and they are heavenly. I used some of the cookies and cream filling from the cake in them, but it didn't really come through. Regardless, delicious.

-1 recipe Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake (see below)
-Leftover chocolate buttercream icing and cookies and cream filling, or 1 can of chocolate frosting
-Wilton chocolate melting wafers for dipping (I used about two 14-oz bags for dipping and 1/2 14-oz bag for drizzling)

1. Crumble cake into fine crumbs. Add frosting and mix well.
2. Roll cake mixture into small balls.
3. Melt chocolate and dip cake balls into it. Let dry, then drizzle with additional chocolate.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

This recipe, of course, comes from Hershey's, but I got it from Annie's Eats. It is so moist and delicious.

-2 cups sugar
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 3/4 cups plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons cake flour)
-3/4 cup cocoa powder
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 eggs
-1 cup milk
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cake pans (I used 3 8 inch pans) and set aside.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
3. Stir in boiling water. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake's center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on wire racks.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chocolate Easter Cake

This cake was a disaster up until the very end. All of my cakes seem to be. I get so nervous about 3/4 of the way through that I nearly give up, and then they turn out lovely.

Easter Cake

I did some mixing and matching for this cake. I was going to make everything from this entry in Annie's Eats. Well, I made the cake yesterday, but I did not grease the pans well enough, so the layers did not come out intact. Frustrated, I decided to try another recipe for the cake. I used Annie's recipe for the filling and chocolate buttercream, though...and Walter's office will get more cake balls next week!

The handle (which is held firm with a wire inside the fondant) and top of the basket are made with chocolate fondant. The other decorations are edible Easter grass, Peeps, and Zachary's chocolate marshmallow eggs.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

I found this recipe here at The Way the Cookie Crumbles. It is officially my new favorite chocolate cake recipe. It is easy, moist, and delicious, and it did not crumb nearly as badly as the last recipe I used. It held up nicely for the cake decorating, which I much appreciated.

-12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (by now, you know my obsession with cake flour. I used 1 3/4 cup plus 3 1/2 Tablespoons cake flour)
-4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
-1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
-1/2 cup hot water
-1 1/4 cups and 1/2 cup sugar, divided
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 teaspoon table salt
-1 cup buttermilk
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-4 large eggs
-2 large egg yolks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cake pans (I used 3 8-inch pans) and set aside.

2. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water and heat until chocolate is melted. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
3. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl. Set aside.
4. In another bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolks until combined. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed.
5. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition. Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
6. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.
7. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45 to 60 minutes.

Cookies and Cream Filling

This...oh my goodness, this is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. If I weren't lactose intolerant, it wouldn't have made it onto the cake. I got it here at Annie's Eats, and it is amazing. I had some left over, so I added it to the leftover chocolate buttercream I had and plan to use it for the cake balls.

-1 1/4 cups heavy cream
-2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
-10 chocolate Oreos, finely chopped

1. Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Mix until all sugar is incorporated. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in chopped cookie pieces with a rubber spatula. Spread between layers of cake or eat it all because it is wonderful.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This was pretty run-of-the-mill chocolate buttercream. Tasty and smooth, and worked well for piping.

-1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
-2/3 cup cocoa powder
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1/3 cup milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, combine melted butter and cocoa powder. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk until the icing reaches a spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla and spread over cake.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Toffee-Topped Brownie Bites

One of these weeks, I am not going to have time to bake for Walter's office. What will they do then?

Toffee-Topped Brownie Bites

I was going to make traditional brownies this week, but I saw this recipe and thought they would be fun. I needed to use a muffin pan for Joelen's Tasty Tools blogging event, so here we are.

I found this recipe here at Annie's Eats. It was fantastic! I did do one thing different: In addition to icing the tops of the bites with the ganache, I filled each with a little of it. It made them even more moist and chocolatey:

I found that the recipe says it makes about 24 bites, but I could only get about 18 out of each batch. Maybe I made my spoonfuls of batter a bit too big.

-3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
-5 1/3 Tablespoons butter
-1 cup granulated sugar
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
-1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
-Toffee pieces (I found that one 8-ounce bag of Heath toffee bits covered all of my brownies--I made the recipe four times)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the unsweetened chocolate and butter. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, just until melted. Remove from the heat.
3. Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt, and whisk until combined. Stir in the flour until combined. Using a small cookie scoop, spoon batter into muffin pan.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until completely set. Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Remove brownies from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. To make the ganache, bring whipping cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat; remove from the heat. Add the bittersweet chocolate to the heated cream, let stand for 30 seconds, then whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well blended.
6. Using a flavor injector, fill each brownie with a bit of chocolate ganache. Dip the top of each brownie in the ganache and then sprinkle with toffee bits. Allow the glaze to set completely before serving.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Easter Sugar Cookies

Easter is next weekend, but my sister and her boyfriend only have his daughter this weekend, so my parents are having an Easter egg hunt for her. I thought some Easter cookies would be a fun treat.

Easter Sugar Cookies

These are delicious and buttery and fantastic. I got the recipe here from Dinner and Dessert. I did not use the royal icing. Instead, I used a modified version of this icing. Instead of mint extract, I used vanilla and colored some pink and some blue. I used Wilton's Icing Writers and some spring sprinkles for details.

-1 cup butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups AP flour and 1 1/4 cups plus 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons cake flour)
-2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. In a small bowl combine the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In separate bowl beat butter until soft and smooth. Add in sugar and combine.
4. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients. Beat until just combined.
5. Roll to 1/3 inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut into desired shapes.
6. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 6 to 9 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Sometimes I crave the Mongolian restaurant, but if we ate there every time I did, we'd be broke. To remedy, I make my own Asian cuisine.

Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Usually I use a store bought marinade for teriyaki chicken. This week, I decided to make my own. It did not taste the same as the store bought, but it was still delicious. I served it with fried rice, which is Walter's favorite.

-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
-1 10-ounce bottle of teriyaki sauce
-5 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce
-1 Tablespoon honey
-1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-1/4 teaspoon sesame seed oil

1. Combine teriyaki, Hoisin, honey, lemon juice, sesame seed oil, and curry powder and mix well. Add chicken and marinate for 1 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake chicken in a 9 by 13 inch baking pan for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the middle of the breast reads 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Orange-Glazed Honey Crisps

Since the last cookies turned out to be biscuits, these were a backup. I cooked the second two batches a little darker than I meant to, but they are certainly still edible. Ugh. What a day for baking.

Honey Crisps

I got this recipe from Reader's Digest's Cookies: 1,001 Mouthwatering Recipes from around the World. They are sweet, but they are not as crisp as perhaps the recipe wanted them to be. Maybe I did not roll thin enough. Regardless, they tasted good, although they did not taste much different to me from regular sugar cookies (however, I was apparently incorrect...see below).

-2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups plus 4 Tablespoons cake flour and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1/3 cup butter, softened
-2 Tablespoons water
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-2 teaspoons honey
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-2 Tablespoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet and set aside.
2. Combine all ingredients except milk in a bowl and mix until dough is formed. If necessary, chill dough for 30 minutes.
3. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into squares and reroll scraps until dough is all used.
4. Place on cookie sheet 1 inch apart and brush with milk. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Orange-Honey Glaze

When Walter got home and tested them for me (my cookie palate is pretty pathetic...all cookies taste the same to me, and I do not like them), he told me that they do not, in fact, taste like sugar cookies. They taste like "nothing," he says. Well, they certainly don't taste like nothing, but this caused me to think that they are not good enough for the office. And so, I decided to whip up a quick and easy orange-honey glaze with which to ice them.

-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-1/2 Tablespoon hot water
-1 Tablespoon orange juice
-1 Tablespoon honey
-1 teaspoon orange extract

1. Combine all ingredients and whisk until combined. Pour over cookies.

Buttermilk Biscuits

These were supposed to be cookies. This recipe makes me very frustrated. What am I supposed to do with 30 or so biscuits (I doubled the recipe)? Luckily, a friend of mine will take many of them.

Buttermilk Biscuits

I got this recipe from Reader's Digest's Cookies: 1,001 Mouthwatering Recipes from around the World. That's right, they came from a cookie cookbook. The recipe was called "buttermilk cookies." They were cutouts, and I had some buttermilk to use, so I thought it'd be good for Walter's office.

Well, first off, I had to add another half cup of flour just to get the dough even close to thick enough to roll. Then, when I took them out of the oven, they had puffed up quite a bit, which surprised me. I tasted one, and it tasted like a biscuit. Not a cookie. So while the recipe was delicious, it was not a cookie at all.

This also explains why I made heart-shaped biscuits.

However, after looking over the recipe again, it occurs to me that I added 1/3 cup buttermilk instead of the 3/4 cup they called for. Could that have made the difference? Would they hav been cookies instead if I hadn't goofed that? I think the extra liquid would have meant that I needed even MORE flour to get them to cooperate. Ugh.

-1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cake flour and had to add another 1/2 cup cake flour)
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup butter, cut up
-2 Tablespoons sugar
-3/4 cup buttermilk (I used 1/3 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in sugar.
3. Cut butter into dry mixture until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in buttermilk.
4. Roll out on a a lightly floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness(Since they are more biscuits than cookies, rolling it to about an inch thickness is what I recommend)
5. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut cookies from dough, rolling scraps and repeating until all dough is used.
6. Place on baking sheet 1 inch apart and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.