Friday, October 25, 2013

Now who doesn't want to try this?

Happy Birthday June.....
For June's birthday, she asked for a white cake with strawberry frosting! I've never made strawberry frosting and there are a million recipes for it! So.....after spending hours researching recipes for strawberry frosting....I headed to the store BECAUSE I did not have a cake pan, let alone the two I needed to make a two layered cake! Can you believe it....not owning a cake pan! I have everything else but!
Two pans later, strawberry preserve, cream cheese (who does not LOVE cream cheese) and waking at 6am.....I'm not going to bore you with the process (I don't even know if anyone reads my blog, maybe I'm just talking to myself....I do that a lot), I'm just going to show you pics of the yummy result....okay, I'll share the strawberry frosting recipe too!
Imagine two lovely layers of white cake surrounding a layer of cream cheese, sugar & strawberry preserves (aka strawberry frosting)...
Cover with more strawberry frosting

Sprinkle with some pretty red sprinkles because you don't have any strawberries

Wait for your kids to show up with the strawberries; cut the cake, add the strawberries and enjoy!
Oh my, doesn't it look yummy?
Strawberry Frosting (adapted from
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup strawberry preserves***
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
In stand mixer; beat cream cheese and butter for 2 to 3 minutes, or until smooth. Add strawberry preserves and vanilla, beating until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and salt, beating until smooth.
***The recipe called for 1/4 cup strawberry preserves but I added more as I couldn't taste the strawberries. I also chose a strawberry preserve with chunks of strawberries for added texture and flavor.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I hate Monkeys....but Monkey Bread...well, that's another story!

So, I am not a big fan of monkeys (sorry Kelsey....) but I do love Monkey Bread! I am now a collector of Monkey Bread recipes and love both the sweet & savory! Okay, so I don't really eat it cause I don't eat sweets much but I do love to make them for others!

During Tyler's & Ashley's wedding week, I had the family over for dinner. Ashley and I made Blueberry Monkey Bread and I have to was so darned easy and very pretty! Everyone raved about it, so we obviously did good! We were able to make this batch using the awesome bundt pan that Tracy surprised me with....I had made a version of the Monkey Bread using an Angel Food cake pan which didn't turn out so well (okay, it was still good, just not pretty) Tracy, on a trip to Anchorage, found the awesome red bundt pan for me....Thank YOU Tracy!

Blueberry Monkey Bread (adapted from Pillsbury)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury Grands Homestyle biscuits
1 cup frozen blueberries (without syrup)
2/3 cup blueberry jam
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp. milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bundt pan using Pam cooking spray. In large Ziplock, mix sugar and cinnamon.

Separate biscuits, cut each biscuit into four pieces. Drop in Ziplock, shake to coat with sugar mixture. Place biscuit pieces in layers in bundt pan. Top with blueberries. In small microwavable bowl, microwave jam for 30 seconds, until melted. Pour over biscuits.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden. Cool. In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and milk, drizzle over Monkey Bread.

Monkey Bread in my new bundt pan, without the drizzle

Omigosh, isn't your mouth watering?

And after the drizzle.....YUM!'s rich but oh, so worth it! Everyone loved it!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ugly Cake....It All Started With a Pan

The day started like any other day: get up, shower, make list of tasks for the day, eat breakfast, blah, blah, blah! So far, so good! After the curling iron fiasco (the spring sprung), the day started falling apart! Oh, don't get me wrong, it was a lovely day, everywhere but in the kitchen! I do need to digress to the night before when I baked the cake. Oh, it was a lovely cake with lots of promise.

 It started with a pan.....

I used a "White Wedding Cake" cake recipe, this is the one that was chosen for the wedding...from what I hear, it was yummy! 

The cake looks great so far...had to do a little trimming to make the bottom flat enough to accept the top! 

Okay, so Madonna might have wanted to "wear" the top piece (she'd need two)....

And now....we are back to the morning where everything went wrong in the kitchen! 
I started making the frosting, the one chosen for the wedding. The Groom wants the grocery store butter cream frosting. So, I pull out the powdered sugar (this should have been the first sign that the cake was going to be the life of me), I cannot work with powdered sugar without making a huge mess (I had guests coming over, didn't have time for a mess)....I usually wear it, it always lands on the floor, all over the counter, in my hair, on my face...this day was no different! 

The recipe called for sifted powdered sugar...I always start out by sifting too much so I can use my big bowl to catch the mess. I don't know why I think the bowl will catch it, it never does. 

After cleaning up the kitchen mess, I mixed the frosting....and mixed.....and mixed! 

This looked disgusting, I didn't think it would ever turn into frosting....hmmmm, another sign that all was not going well with this cake! But, ever the optimist.....I kept mixing and mixing and mixing! 

And this yummy concoction is what I ended up with! I should tell you....I always tell myself to go with my gut but I never do! I don't know why, my gut is always right but yet, I always, always do opposite of what my gut says! My gut said: stay with white frosting! 

I took half of the frosting and added black gel food coloring, hoping to get black to imitate the papers from the cupcakes. Well, the frosting just turned a yucky gray. I kept adding more and more and more black gel....I used the whole darned bottle and still it was not black. So, I decided to add purple gel. I was getting excited until I saw.....

PURPLE hands, PURPLE frosting all over the counter, PURPLE on the cabinets, on the floor, on the the heck did everything turn purple and why the heck was there frosting everywhere. Now, my friend (see older "Cleaning as I Go" post) would tell you that she is surprised I wasn't running around the kitchen wiping down every surface as I was trying to dye the frosting. What she doesn't know is that was exactly what I was doing and I was making it worse. Omigosh, everything was purple! I was afraid to actually go look in the mirror, I was sure my face was a mess...and we had friends AND the Bride and Groom coming over...well, they would just see how much I love them...I am sacrificing my vanity for their cake. Did I mention that it eventually becomes the Ugly Cake? 

Anyhow, I decided to bite the bullet and use the black/purple/charcoal frosting to frost the "paper" base of the cupcake cake. I made the mistake of using the big frosting tip, over filling the frosting tube...oh no, more frosting all over the floor, the walls, the counter, the! I must have washed my PURPLE hands at least 10 times. I was sticky and purple! Oh man, the cupcake was looking UGLY! There was nothing I could do to make it look better so at this point I had two choices: 1) toss the whole darned thing in the trash, sit down and cry or 2) make it the UGLIEST cake I could. Obviously, I chose 2! 

I would have taken photos but hey, my hands were sticky and purple! 

So, I pressed on! I squished frosting using various tips and white frosting over the top of the know Madonna's bra cup! Well, it really looked UGLY! But hey, I wasn't done! So, I sprayed the cupcake with Violet Purple - Wilton's spray. I added ugly sugar paste roses and sprayed some more. It still wasn't UGLY enough! I had to make it UGLIER! So, I added white and black pearl candies, sprinkled some purple, crystal flakes...more frosting, more flakes and well, I finally ran out of frosting! 

Do you want to see the final UGLY product? I wish I could forget it but I promised a couple friends I was going to post my experience...

And here it is.....ta da......the UGLY cake! 

I wish the photo could have been better but hands were sticky and purple! 

Well, I guess the cake was was eaten and the "White Wedding Cake" cake recipe was chosen for the Wedding....

Oh, they were all sweet and telling me that the cake was pretty, adorable, one wanted to tell me it was UGLY! Even though we all knew it! I knew it! But hey, it may have been UGLY and I may have had sticky, purple hands but when I finally gave up trying to make it pretty....I had a ball! 

It's Monday and guess what I found on the cabinets.....

Sunday, April 7, 2013

More Wedding Purple

So, to go along with the card box...I decided to make a wall banner to match. I decided that maybe we needed to "explain the box"! I challenged myself to using supplies that I already had! I pulled some printable fabric, used the ribbon that I used on the box and garters, made a couple more flowers.....and my printer! Oh my, side bar here....I love my printer!

Anyhow, I didn't get a very good pic of the banner as I don't have any bare wall to hang it get the idea though!

Close up of the lettering and flower, I covered the attachments with the flowers....

Baby flowers used on the three center letters...

I tied the ends of the ribbon (3 for layering) and attached the letters to it...

I like how the banner turned out! Was going to make a "Mr. & Mrs." but I don't have enough printable fabric. Will ask the Bride if she wants me to do so....we'll see....

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wedding Purple

So, I was able to finish the garters and card box this week....for my son and his future bride! My wonderful Mom-in-Law sewed the two garters (one to keep and one to throw) for the bride....I can't sew a straight line, let alone try to gather both lace and ribbon! I called upon my Mom-in-Law to help me by sewing the garters...she did such a beautiful job! Thank you Mom! I searched all over for the perfect dark purple flowers to attach to the garters, they were not to be found! So, I went to JoAnn's to buy flowers that I could take apart and make my own. I got them home, took them apart and they were SO wrong, they had huge gaps between the petals, would not layer correctly! Took me 15 minutes to put one flower back together so I could return the darned things. So, I went to Michael's, they usually have a great selection of flowers. I found one stem of 3 flowers that were perfect! I stood right there and took a flower apart to see if it would would, perfectly! HOWEVER, I could only find one stem. I was pretty depressed so I walked around the store looking for something else that would work! Guess what I found....I found 3 more stems that someone had put back by the, was that fate or what? I was so excited....grabbed a roll of matching chiffon style ribbon and raced home to make the flowers! Uh oh....I had not clue how to....I just assumed I could take them apart and layer them and they would look gorgeous! Uh, no! they just looked like flat, boring flowers. SO, I got the idea to burn the edges...I love to burn stuff! I burn paper, transparencies, ribbon, fabric....all in the name of art! This was no different....right?! So, I pulled out a tea light, lit it and proceeded in burning the edges of the petals. After decimating one (it went up in flames), I learned to manage the burn! The flower petals curled up at the edges and looked perfect! I layered the flowers, gathered the chiffon ribbon into a circle and layered them....add a velvet flower and pearls for the centers and I was a happy girl!

This flower looks a bit fuchsia in the pic but it's really the same dark purple as the ribbon! 

The center of the flower on each garter is a bit different! I wonder which one the bride will choose to keep! Hope she likes them! 

So, I had such a great time with the flowers for the garters that I put together some extras! What shall I use them on? 

Well, I was asked to make a card box....I couldn't wait to start! I searched all over this town for a box that would work (something that wasn't big enough to hold a body), impossible! I tried to order something but the shipping was ridiculous! I mentioned to my Mom-in-Law that I needed a box and again she came through for me! She had just the perfect size box but it needed to be repainted. So, I went to took about 12 coats of dark purple paint to cover the Modge Podged decor.....finally, it was ready to do the crackle technique the bride had liked! The box didn't have feet so I added little, round, wooden doll heads (they have a flat bottom so I could attach them to the box) to the bottom and painted them purple too! Add the crackle medium, let dry, paint the box white and wait for the cool crackle to start! Wow, it was looking great but needed some decor! So, I pulled out the box of purple and white ribbons I picked up for the garters and other fun stuffs.....added them in layers to the box....attached two of the cool flowers I made and wow.....the box looks awesome!

You can't see the feet, they are hiding in the background but here is the front of the card box! 

Again, the flowers appear lighter than they really are due to the lighting but you get the picture! 
I hope the bride likes the box.....I can't wait for her to come over next weekend to pick them up! 
Shhhhh, don't tell her where to look for the pics, she may want them to be a surprise! 

Just a reminder....I painted Tom's shoes for the wedding as well.....everything is purple, white and black. If you didn't see the's a couple pics: 

It's all coming together! I am having so much fun....what else can I make? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patty's Day...

So, another St. Patty's Day has come and is nearly gone and I nearly blew it! I almost forgot to buy and cook a St. Patty's Day dinner. Now, neither of us is Irish, that we know of but there's nothing to say we can't eat like an Irishman....right?! Dinner consisted of: fried cabbage and onions, boiled/roasted red potatoes and baked corned beef....I'm actually going to tell you how I did it....I don't always use recipes, I just throw stuff together. As I mentioned in the last post, I don't read recipes, I just look at the pretty pictures.

Here's my own pretty picture of dinner:

Oh my, this was so good. I know corned beef is not good for you but it sure is tasty and we don't eat it very often! Dinner tonight and leftovers for Tuesday....

I started out by boiling the corned beef to remove some of the salt. Holy ____, the broth sure is disgusting looking....don't look at it! Just dump it and boil the corned beef again, in clean water....shouldn't be nearly so salty! Ours was great! So, I drained the disgusting broth and prepared the corned beef for baking. 

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil (sure helps with clean up, I do this all the time when I think of it). Spread the spices that comes with the corned beef in the bottom of the pan. Place the corned beef on top of the spices, spread Dijon mustard over the beef. Bake in oven for 1-1/2 hours at 350 degrees.
When the beef has been cooking for an hour, clean and slice in half the red potatoes. Place in saucepan, boil until just slightly tender. Drain. Next chop the cabbage and slice the onion, add to oiled (I used Olive oil) large skillet, saute until just tender. Set aside. 
When the beef has cooked for 1-1/2 hours, remove from oven. 
Turn oven up to 450 degrees. Oil jelly roll pan, pour garlic salt (very lightly) and pepper over pan, place sliced potatoes (slices down) on one side of pan, add beef to the other side of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes on top rack. Remove from oven. Dish out on plate and you have what you see above! 

We thoroughly enjoyed tonight's dinner and it wasn't overly difficult to make. In fact, most of it was "hurry up and wait"....played some pool and watched a movie while waiting! 

But, oh man, dinner was WORTH THE WAIT! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

I love looking at FOOD!

Tonight, as I was cooking dinner (a stir-fry), I decided that I really like looking at food. I love the bright colors of crispy vegetables, I love the brown of carmelized meat....I just love looking at food. What decided it was when I looked in the cupboards at all my cooking magazines and cookbooks....I have NEVER read one, but oh, I can't tell you how many times I've looked at all the pretty pictures. Food is....Pretty! I have my favorite magazines, those that have the prettiest pictures. I love my Food Network and my Rachael Ray magazines because they have such bright, cheery pictures of food! Do I try the recipes? Very seldom...I just love looking at the pictures. My favorite cookbooks still look brand new because I just look at the pretty pictures, I don't open them to try the recipes....they don't have spilled food on them, although that would be pretty and I may have to try it! I love my Martha Stewart cookbooks, my Sandra Lee and my The Biggest Loser cookbooks....I love looking at the pictures! 

Don't get me wrong, I love to cook. See: 

Tonight's Dinner - Beef Stir-fry (thrown together from the fridge)

Chocolate, Whiskey and Nuts - OMG! 

Sausage and Tomatoes - Can't go wrong!

Cream Cheese Mints - Too die for! 

Strawberry Shortcake - So easy and not so bad for you! Yum!

See....pretty pictures! Not as pretty as magazines but still....pretty! 

I have my favorite Blogs and Websites that I peruse, not for the articles (okay, sometimes I read them) but for the pretty pictures! I love looking at the process of creating a dish and the picture of the final product....pretty! I don't need to eat it, heck, sometimes I don't even like it but I do love to look at it! 

I love these Blogs: 
She is now my Food Hero because of the beautiful chocolate cake on her home page: The Pioneer Woman
I love, love, love this blog for all her comfort food recipes: Just a Pinch
Love this site but not for the Spinach Pie shown today (hate spinach): Skinny Taste
My absolute Fave because it's ALL pictures: Punch Fork
Love this one for the Quinoa Bites alone: Fit for Success
Pretty, pretty pictures: Tung in Cheek
Omigosh....just look at that sandwich: Closet Cooking
Love the name but the food looks yummy too: Peas and Crayons

So guess what I got in the mail today.....Rachael Ray's wonderful magazine FULL of pretty pictures! Just the cover alone is gorgeous....Chicken & Spring Vegetable Lo Mein

I'm off to print some recipes....all have pretty pictures!