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Showing posts from August, 2012

Tale of 12 Cakes Finale

We've finally made it to the end of my Tale of 12 Cakes frosting series. You're all probably sick of cakes and frosting by now... I know by Saturday last week I was! However, it was totally worth making tons of cakes for my little brother and his adorable new wife. I love them so much, and I wanted to help the best way I could: cakes, cakes, and more cakes.
Here they all are! We sliced off a piece of whatever cake each guest wanted. It was fun watching them decide on which one they wanted, and for them to come back to try even another piece! Everyone was so amazing, and I was so happy to meet again with some familiar faces. 
List of cakes from left to right:  Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Glaze (x2) Fudge Marble Cake with Cocoa Buttercream Frosting and Oreo Crumble Simple White Cake with White Chocolate Orange Frosting and Slice Orange Candy Garnish Luscious Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting, Chocolate Ganache, and Choc-Covered Strawberries Dark Black Forest A…

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

Frosting recipe 5 out of 6 from my Tale of 12 Cakes week (only 1 more frosting recipe left to share, and I'll post the cake table picture from last Saturday!):

This cake was the first to go on Saturday! It seemed like almost everyone who came through the line wanted this cake, and then came back for another slice shortly thereafter. They must have fallen as hard for this frosting as I did. I love frosting, I just can't get enough of it (if you hadn't noticed) - and adding mint to it? It was killer, and instantly became my favorite frosting recipe of the week.

I almost lost my cool making this cake, though. You see, the cake you see above is attempt #2. The first attempt tipped over mid-frosting (on the counter), and I had to completely start over. There may or may not have been a few colorful words flying about the kitchen... I was devastated.

I had just ruined a couple layers of cake and an entire batch of mint frosting (after all, ingredients = money). Thankfully, inst…

Salted Caramel Frosting and Simple Chocolate Ganache

Frosting recipe 4 out of 6 from my Tale of 12 Cakes week:

I've had this recipe pinned on Pinterest for a long time, and this was the perfect opportunity to try it out! Sweet and salty is one of my all-time favorite flavor combos. Ever since I was a little girl, Peanut M&Ms have been my #1 choice. Not peanut butter. Peanut. Aight? Aight. Sweet + Salty is such a beautiful compliment to the dessert world.

So you can imagine when we were at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco a couple weeks ago and they were handing out free salted caramel chocolate squares....  it was DIVINE. For a while there I thought I wasn't going to be able to shake the craving for more....

...until I made this frosting.

The flavors were subtle at first, so I added in a bit of caramel drizzle. It added that top layer over the rich caramel undertone, and the frosting came right together. I covered a devil's food cake with this frosting, stuffed the inside layer with chocolate chips, and smothered the…

Zesty Lemon Buttercream Frosting/Glaze

Frosting recipe 3 out of 6 from my Tale of 12 Cakes week:

This naked cake was such a hit! I wouldn't have foreseen such a result, considering my mini-disaster in the kitchen with the frosting....

For some reason or other, the frosting came out pretty runny after transportation (even though I kept it cold), and I was uber-frustrated. I added more powdered sugar to help it out. However, when I went to frost the cake layers, it was almost as if it was a very thick glaze instead of a frosting. It tasted heavenly, but as you can see above, the frosting stayed put on a flat foundation, but certainly not on the sides. I was about to write off the cake altogether, when I realized that the cake in "nude" form looked really awesome (and added contrast to the other cakes). The glaze quality kept the cake very moist on the inside (and the fresh layer of lemon pudding on the inside didn't hurt :). Next time, I want to use lemon extract, instead of fresh lemon juice. I don't th…

Cocoa Buttercream Frosting

Frosting recipe 2 out of 6 from my Tale of 12 Cakes week:
Chocolate goes amazingly well with chocolate. Who knew? I loved the look of the fudge marble on the inside, coated with the delicious and rich flavor of cocoa on the outside. And how fun this cake was with a ring of oreo crumble on the outside! This cake went pretty fast on Saturday.
For the top of the cake, I just used the back of a spoon and moved it back and forth. I really like that unkempt look (and it saved me time not trying to make the top perfectly flat)
------- Cocoa Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients:  1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 2/3 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder 3-6 Cups powdered sugar 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract 2-4 Tablespoon heavy cream  pinch of salt
Directions:  1. With your stand mixer, beat the cold butter and cocoa powder until smooth.  2. Add in vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and salt on medium speed until thoroughly combined. It should be stiff, this is when you add in the heavy cream until you reach y…

Almond Infused Cream Cheese Frosting

Frosting recipe 1 out of 6 from my Tale of 12 Cakes week:

This cake was my sister's favorite, and for good reason. It was a beauty, and was the first time I had tried using the petal-decorating technique on a cake. The sides were a bit more tricky than I expected, but the top came out just lovely. 
Almond-Infused Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz unsalted butter, softened 4 oz cream cheese, softened 2 C powdered sugar 1 t vanilla extract 1 t almond extract milk (optional)
Directions: In a large bowl, beat together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla and almond extracts in your stand mixer. With the miter on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too stiff, add milk until you reach your desired consistency.
Recipe adapted from: The Food Network

The Tale of Twelve Cakes

Today I can finally breathe again (and finally sleep again last night, too). I had nightmare after nightmare earlier this week of cakes crumbling all over the floor, frosting spewing over the back of my car, and the cakes turning out absolutely horrid in general. My little brother's wedding Open House was on the line, and I wasn't about to give less than 100%. Then again, I had never taken on such a huge baking project in my entire life. I took a deep breath, and began the three-day cake-a-thon.
On Wednesday (Part 1), I made all the cake layers except for a couple (to be made on Friday). I wrapped each layer neatly in layers of plastic wrap for protection, and then put them in the freezer. I prayed they wouldn't get ruined from all the stacking; our freezer is usually quite empty, but with about about 20 layers-worth of cake, we still had to find a way to delicately store each and every one. The house smelled amazing all day from delicious cakes, and my kitchen looked lik…

Fresh Cherry Limeade

This week we're keepin' it simple with a couple new drink recipes. My little brother's wedding open-house is this Saturday and guess who is makin' 13 different frosting/flavor cakes this week? Moi.

It's going to be awesome. Wednesday I'm making and freezing most of the cakes. Thursday I'm making the frosting. And Friday we're throwing 'em all together and decorating each and every one (and baking the cakes we can't freeze... such as my Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake - which is up to 18,000 pins on Pinterest. Can you believe it?!) It's going to be an extreme cake-a-thon, and I'm sure I'll reach new levels of insanity. But as long as there's some goodies from the late 90's playing in the background, I'm sure we'll all survive.

Back to the limeade.

If you live near a Sonic, then you've probably felt the gravitational pull between 2-4pm called Happy Hour. It's when the drinks are half off, and the peak of the summ…

Brown Butter Funfetti Sugar Cookies

Friday. At last. 

I didn't really plan on making these cookies until I saw them earlier this week on Pinterest. And even better, I had all the ingredients... except for those darned sprinkles! I only had heart sprinkles, and little pearl sprinkles.... wasn't gonna do for these little cookie loves. So yesterday the manchild and I walked down a couple streets (taking a quick stop at Gloria's for some gelato to share, of course) to our local grocery store and picked up some sprinkles. I couldn't wait to make these cookies!

There's just something about these bright colored sprinkles that screams PARTY to me. Friday in itself is a perfect reason to celebrate! The summer is winding down, so we're planning weekend activities here and there to make it count. We'll be sneaking a few of these cookies in our packs for our hike tonight to a waterfall up the canyon. Oh how I love summertime!

Now, these aren't just your ordinary sugar cookies. Have you ever tried b…

Philly Cheesesteak Pita-Bread Pizza

I know. I get it. With the dessert recipes aside, I've posted three pizza recipes in a row. I must be losing my marbles...
...or perhaps we're just a pizza-loving family. Over these past few months, I'm convinced myself I can put just about anything on a pizza (and oh how I love dessert pizzas, too!), and with so many different breads/dough to use as a crust... it's easy to branch away from the norm. For instance:
Thin Crust Grilled Garden Vegetable Pizza 
Garlic Chicken Alfredo Bacon Pizza Pizza Muffins  Tex-Mex Pizza 
Lady Bug Caprese Pizza 
Spicy Chicken Pizza with Pepper Jack Cheese and Cilantro  
Three Cheese White Pizza  
Hawaiian Pizza Muffins  
Roasted Tomato Basil Pizza
Bacon Cheeseburger Calzones  
Pepperoni Pizza Pull-Apart Bread
Santa Fe Summer BBQ Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust    ....just to name a couple recipe I've ventured through this year.   One again, this was another meal where Ryan asked me why I couldn't have just made a philly cheesesteak sandwich…

Pepperoni Pizza Pull-Apart Bread

I can't even being to tell you how cute we looked at our little coffee table yesterday with this beauty between us. We sat on the floor Indian-style across from each other, and one by one, without any utensils whatsoever, consumed the mighty pizza bread together (while catching up on the latest The Daily Show funnies).

We really liked it - the seasoned butter really adds an extra layer of richness to each bite. I also ended up using sourdough bread (they didn't have regular bread at the bakery at our local supermarket this time), and I think I'll stick with it next time! It was so cheesy and gooey - just how I like my pizza.

I thought it was a little funny yesterday when Ryan and I were making dinner. While I was stuffing the loaf of bread with pizza fixings, he asked me a simple question:

"So... are you just getting bored?"

This cracked me up. Why not just make pizza?! He's right. I do tend to over-complicate dinner sometimes, and I've been doing it b…

Salted Pretzel-Marshmallow Bars

In the latest Food Network Magazine, there's an entire section dedicated to toasted marshmallows. I was drooling on our long drive to California, as I was dreaming about how wonderful it would be to taste each recipe. Toasted marshmallows are some of my favorite - and summer is the perfect time to get as much of those little warm & gooey pockets of fluffy goodness as possible.

I'm one of those people who torch the heck outta the marshmallow while roasting them. I make sure they're glowing with fire, lightly blow out the flames, pull off the outer layer of crispy charred marshmallow, devour, and repeat until the marshmallow is all gone. That's my kind of marshmallow roasting! It's always been that way, and I'm sure it'll never change. Now, this doesn't mean I lack the skills to make a perfectly golden marshmallow :) I just get impatient.

Ryan is the first person I've ever met who doesn't like pretzels. I LOVE pretzels. When I was growing up…

Santa Fe Summer BBQ Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust

Aaaaand we're back. This weekend we drove to the Oakland/Morgan Hill/San Francisco area for my little brother's wedding. It was absolutely fabulous! Also, it was a nice break from blog land - even though all weekend I had strange urges to take pictures of our food.... wonder where that came from...
The evening before we drove to California, I made this lovely pizza. Originally I didn't plan on making the pizza dough with whole wheat flour. I didn't even know I had it until I couldn't find my all-purpose flour in the cupboard. All I had was this unopened package of whole wheat flour in the top corner - I seriously have no idea how it got there, but I'm grateful I could use it for this dough. It turned out to be quite heavenly. 
We had some ears of corn, and plenty of cherry tomatoes left to use in my fridge, so I was really excited when I saw this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats a couple weeks ago. I knew right away that I just had to try it out. It had all the flavor…

Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Poppy Seed Balsamic Vinaigrette

I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this salad. With the exception of the vinaigrette (again, I didn't taste more than a teeny drizzle, but what I had tasted fine) I think it was spot on. A little bacon wouldn't have hurt... as always. I also added my beloved feta to the mix.

This past weekend we had a little get-together with my roommates from freshman year. Everyone brought the most delicious things to share, and it was fun catching up with each other. I brought this salad, and couldn't believe how much I could fall in love with the perfect crunchy texture and sweet taste of the candied almonds.

Let me explain - the candied almonds are not just sugary sweet. They have such a fun twist of cumin and paprika to kick the savory splendor up a few notches. You don't even have to limit their use to a salad. These would go perfectly over a dessert or a beautiful fruit compote/berry bowl with mint whipped cream. Can you even imagine? Oh man, this just opene…

Slow Cooker Sweet Apricot Chicken over Orzo

You'd think after a big batch of Fresh Apricot Ice Cream and Apricot Cornmeal Crumb Tarts with Apricot Compote Glaze, we wouldn't have any apricots left over....

Nope!

We still had about 10-12 left, and I wasn't going to let them go to waste. I figured I already used the apricots in two dessert recipes, so I needed to widen my experience into cooking/serving them in more of a savory way - with some meat. I searched high and low, and with our limited ingredients, I found the perfect recipe.

I was highly skeptical... and a little afraid of what I had just thrown into my crock pot. But I trusted the recipe, and let it simmer away the afternoon. Thankfully, my skepticism turned to anticipation as the sweet and tangy smell of apricots coupled with the warm juicy appeal of slow-cooked chicken filled my home. I couldn't wait to try it! I prepped my plate with orzo (we were out of rice, and I still had dry orzo pasta left over from my Chicken and Orzo Soup with Kale).

This me…

Fresh Apricot Ice Cream

And my unofficial Apricot Week continues with recipe #2. 
Ryan rarely makes special requests for dinner/dessert. But when we brought home that bucket of apricots I talked about earlier, he specifically asked if we could turn some of them into ice cream. The man loves fruit in ice cream. I'm completely the opposite - I like the quadruple chocolate brownie pie ice cream drizzled in hot fudge/caramel/shell with all toppings physically possible piled sky high. You'd think our preferences would be switched, right? Nope. Man likes the fruity ice cream. And man got his fruity ice cream.
This turned out simply amazing. I usually cringe a little when people label something with "the best" out there (because how could they really know?) but I'm going to let Ryan bend that rule - he claims it's the best ice cream he's ever had. Dead serious. I think he was being hypnotized by the almond extract. He ate the entire batch by himself last night (with the exception of…

Apricot Cornmeal Crumb Tarts with Apricot Compote Glaze

An adorable friend of mine in the neighborhood sent out a message via facebook that she had plenty of apricots ready for picking! So of course, Ryan and I headed right on over. Much to my surprise, she had an entire bucket already filled with apricots for us to take home. I was very very grateful, but I was scared to death on how I'd be able to use so many apricots before they over ripened. That's when I searched vigorously through any and every recipe resource I have - thankfully, I had a couple recipes ready. And thus begins my unofficial Apricot Week. (haah!) I usually don't do themes/holiday posts/whatever, but I do believe in cooking seasonally. And apricots, my friends, are in full swing. I was able to use the apricots in three recipes over the past 4 days. This is number 1, folks.

Originally I thought I needed a tart pan to make a tart. But good heavens, how could I say no to what these little heart shaped pans could produce? I love how adorable they turned out - …

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Just look at all those gorgeous colors and flavors! I love me some southwestern food, but with the addition of all these extra toppings on the dish, there's no way it couldn't be a perfect salad for lunch/dinner yesterday. 
I'm kind of a strange breed when it comes to salad. As I've mentioned before, I usually eat my salads dry as a bone. But ever since I started making my own homemade salad dressing/vinaigrette, I've fallen in love with that little drizzle of goodness. The toppings are a love of mine as well. If I happen to be at some kind of a salad bar at a restaurant (doesn't happen often, of course) you'll probably find my plate with a pile of toppings on a small layer of salad leaves. Strange. I know. But it's just how I roll. My favorite part of this salad was the flavor of the feta against the different ingredients. We don't usually buy feta, and it's a shame. It tastes heavenly on a salad (thanks Cafe Rio for the idea, of course). 
Ry…