A Valentine Treat Recap

In our home, we love celebrating Valentine’s Day!  But not for the reasons that you think; if you missed yesterday’s posting, stop by and check it out.  In our home, the kids and I make the sweets instead of buying them – that is – unless I’m having a lazy type of holiday.  I had fun researching what types of projects I had worked on in the years past, and it made me appreciate why I keep my blog running, even if I don’t find enough time these days to do so.  This year, I believe I’m going to make scones and somehow dress them up to make it fitting for the day, but that remains to be seen on “how.”  Why scones?  Why not?  Actually, I made a batch for a group of people and the reviews came back that they were heavenly.  Some people even said they were the best scones they had ever had, so that must be saying something!  Truth be told, my family was so jealous when I walked out the door with this beautiful batch of scones, and didn’t even get one bite.  So I owe it to them to make a batch.

Enough rambling – break out the recap!!  Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!!

Goat Cheese TrufflesGoat Cheese Truffles – what better way to say, “hey honey, I love you, and I know you love goat cheese! And chocolate!”  True story, I made these for a dinner party, and found my husband eating the leftovers (straight from the bowl, not even rolled up!) and thought, hmmm, there must be something to these little devilishly amazing bites!  These chocolates keep you coming back for more.  Great for a “la-tee-da” type of person, or someone you just want to impress. 🙂  You’re welcome.

 

Red Velvet MadeleinesRed Velvet Madeleines – Need a Valentine Day breakfast that will impress?  Try these little delights!  Perfect compliment with a nice cup of tea, or hot chocolate.  You and your sweet other will enjoy this as a nice change of pace.  Also great for a dessert at the end of the day, especially after a heavy dinner.  Want to jazz it up?  Serve it with vanilla ice cream.

 

 

Chocolate Strawberry ShortcakeChocolate heart shortcakeChocolate Waffles with Strawberries – Seriously, words cannot describe how amazing this breakfast can be.  Or dinner, should you decide to mix it up.  I have two pictures here because I made it the shortcut method with pre-made chocolate waffles, while my lovely blogging friend in Oklahoma showed an even better way to make them if you have the time and equipment.  Here is her link to make her fancy waffles.

 

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries – a classic, and yet people still buy these rather than try to make them.  Friends, they are not difficult.  Plus your loved one will love you for trying to make them instead of buying them.  Trust me.  If you don’t believe me, look at who is making them in my pictures of that particular blog post.  My kids, when they were tiny!  Don’t like strawberries, roll some raspberries instead, they are a true delight as well.

 

Finished CakeHidden Hearts Cake – Remember when hiding pictures in a cake was all the rage?  Is it still a thing? I’m not sure, but it’s still fun to create, especially for your kids.  Enjoy the tale of my crazy adventure with making this cake. You will definitely get a laugh.

 

 

 

DIY Valentine Bracelet – This is a fun little project that you can create with the kids.  I definitely recommend following the instructions to make it work.  Seems simple enough, but can be a bit tricky if not careful.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Valentine Cake Pops – I have found myself rolling into a Starbucks buying my kids these sweet bites, and each time I think, “ridiculous what I am paying for these when I know how much it costs to make them!! TONS of them.”  Are they difficult to make? Not if you follow the rules.  And your freezer is your friend when it comes to setting up the cake with the frosting.  I recommend making a red velvet cake with a dark chocolate outer coating – the best!

That’s it for now!  You can search my site for more delights, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Easy Chocolate Guinness Cake

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Yesterday I had taught 2 cooking classes, ran errands in between, and then had to dash home to prepare an Irish Stew for dinner.  I don’t honestly know where they day had gone!  Sound like your kind of day?  While I was making the stew, I used a “bit” of Guinness for it, but had a cup leftover.  Sure, I could have poured myself a glass while cooking but I had a better idea…

Chocolate.

I was going to make Irish Car Bomb cake bites, but… after making the cake in a Bundt pan, I thought, let’s just keep life simple.  After all, I basically cooked the ENTIRE day with my classes and stew (which takes 2-3 hrs.)  So, I grabbed my tub of frosting, melted in the microwave for 30 seconds and poured over the cake. DONE.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Recipe:

  • Devil’s Food Cake Mix 
  • Eggs
  • Oil
  • Guinness
  • Chocolate Frosting

Bake the cake according to the direction on the box.  Replace the water for the Guinness.  I was told this cake cooks better in a Bundt pan, so that’s what I did.  Flip cake out of pan onto a cooling rack shortly after out of oven.  Let cake cool completely.  Take cap and foil off of frosting, and heat up in the microwave for 30 seconds.  If you are worried about plastic toxins, put into a microwave safe bowl.  (I probably should have, but was lazy.)  You won’t need all of this frosting, unless you bake cake in a 9×13 pan.  Let chocolate set up. EAT!

Hidden Hearts Valentine’s Day Cake

Finished Cake

People ask me many times if I make cakes.  Sure, make them, but decorate them?  Not a talent I possess… yet. While I can use some techniques that I have observed through the power of YouTube, this does not even compare to a real cake decorating class. Nor have I given the time to practice and practice and practice.  It is a true art, and I fully appreciate those steady hands and patient minds that go along with the gift you cake decorators have!  Perhaps I will take a few classes one day, when the timing is right.  But for now, I present to you my ugly cake of the year.

Why would I show you this cake? Because  I need you to all feel sorry for me with the amount of time I dedicated toward it  it was completely awesome regardless of appearance. 🙂

Actually, I wanted to demonstrate the steps that I took following a website that I admire. I am sure some of you have seen the cute polka dot cake on Pinterest. So, I checked out her other cakes and found these really AMAZING designs.

While I was making the cakes, I discovered a big fact.  I am not her. She makes the cakes look flawless and I cannot.  I wanted to make one anyway, and, WHY NOT? With Valentine’s Day in the near future, I thought this to be a good chance to hide some hearts within. And get my chocolate fix on as well.

I will not kid with you, it’s a big project. I did however have some helping hands in the kitchen with me! My daughters wanted to naturally participate, so I let them make the sugar cookies that was placed inside the cake. (As well as outside for decoration.) It’s a traditional sugar cookie recipe that I grabbed of the internet; find any you like, and add food coloring if you want them to be unique in the cake.

I made the sugar cookies pink, because it would look nice within a red velvet cake. There is something magically beautiful when you put pink next to red… JUST for Valentine’s day. The rest of the year, I don’t advise those two colors together. (I have color issues!)

heart sugar cookies

Next, I created two batches of red velvet cake (box kind!) Yep, I cheated… ahem, saved TIME. This is where I think, what’s the big deal? Stuff the cookies in a half baked cake, and bake. Easy? Well, not SO easy. I had no idea how long to let the cakes cook since they were twice the size, so I had to periodically check with a toothpick. Once they were done, I made the mistake of letting them cool in the pan. BIG no no. Even I know better, but it was late, and I was tired. So, when it came time to take the cake out of the pans, they naturally stuck. I gently reheated them up to loosen them, and still had to cut them in half to have them fall out of the pan. I made some buttercream frosting in the mixer (though you could use the canned kind) because I needed something that was going to be strong to mend my cake back together. Cake repaired, and looking U.G.L.Y at this point!

Half baked cookie in cake

So I’m thinking, I quit. This is too hard, blah blah blah. No! I invested too much time, and I wanted to taste it when it was correctly frosted! I made a big batch of dark chocolate ganache, which turned out to not be enough for this immense cake. Now at this point I think, “what’s next?” Oh yea… my frosting smoother was missing in the kitchen. Turned out my Hubby had that cake decorator in his car (using it as an ice scraper!!) So, I smoothed the ganache as nicely as I could with a butter knife. And found I had waited too long (while looking for the cake decorator!) and it had pretty much set up. *Sigh*

Hidden Hearts in Red Velvet

So, I took the leftover heart cookies, and covered the ugly middle section. Ahhhh, now it was coming together. Picture taking time, for you all to see my um, well… masterpiece. And there you have it!

A hot mess cake

Then, after ALL that, I of course had to cut the cake for you to see the hidden hearts. (And to see if it had actually worked!) It had worked! Though, I should have added more cookies inside to get it more perfect. Some hearts laid down within, and some stood up giving an inconsistant appearance. So, if you try to make this cake, FOLLOW HER DIRECTIONS exactly. I tried to shortcut it and it does not pay off.

hidden hearts red velvet cake1

Was there any reward in the end? OOOOOOOHHHHH yea. The cake was FABULOUS to eat. Who cares if it was not glamorous? It was delicious! Red velvet…dark chocolate ganache… homemade frosting? Worth it.

If you want to make this cake, hit Once Upon A Pedestal for her directions. She has some pretty amazing cake ideas! Also, I am sure you are curious if I could taste the cookie within the cake, and the answer is no. I was surprised to find it matched the cake texture perfectly!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Finished Cake

Dressed Up (Box) Birthday Cake

Hannah's cake

This past June, my daughter, Hannah had her 8th birthday party.  I didn’t have a group of kids over this year, rather just invited my family and left it at that.  I don’t recall year after year my family having all of my friends over for a big party bash, so one year without a big gig is a good thing.  When DID it become necessary that we parents host something big or have an outing somewhere?  Oy. 🙂

Alas, when I have birthday parties, I don’t make cake from scratch.  Why?  Who am I showing the cake off to?  Well, Hannah’s friends, and my family, but we all know who eats the cake.  The kids.  And then the parents will grab a bite without anyone watching.  (Come now… you know what I’m talking about!)  So, why go into the hassle of creating a cake from scratch when that’s not the main concern?  I don’t, I use box cake.  BUT, I do like to jazz up the cake. 

This year, I dressed up the cake, using chocolate cake mix from a box, then taking vanilla frosting, tinting it pink, and slathering it on the cake.  No, I didn’t get fancy with the dress up there…  but then the fun began with a chocolate ganache.  It doesn’t take long to make ganache.  Look up any simple recipe for it, and you will find it’s dark chocolate, heavy cream, maybe butter, and a little vanilla.  Done.

Add decor? Yea, my daughter loves horses, so we had a cowgirl party for her, and bought some little mini toy horses from our local Horse and Farm feed store (they have toys!) and placed them on the cake. Done and done.

How did it taste?  Better than box cake, and no one knew. 🙂

Blackberry Buttercream on Chocolate Cake

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting
I hope you all had a good Mother’s Day!  I made my Mom a cake that I thought she would love and never had before, and I was right. 🙂  The whole Charlotte located family came over to our house and we enjoyed sharing a lunch together and celebrated the day a bit.  I do have to admit it was a bit weird making a cake for Mother’s Day, and yes it was in honor of my Mom, but once you become a Mom it changes the outlook of the holiday all together.  I was baking a cake for myself in a way. HA!

Anyway, this recipe was easy… I did NOT create the cake from scratch like I would typically do, because I was short on time with cleaning the house and preparing the foods as well.  So, I used just a box of double fudge chocolate cake mix and then created the frosting to dress it up.  And you know what?  It worked.  No need to fuss over the details sometimes!

Blackberry Buttercream frosting recipe (directly from In the Wabe):

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup of seedless Blackberry jam
  • 4-6 cups of confectioners sugar

Directions:

In a stand mixer, whisk together the butter and jam until fully blended.  Add 1 cup at a time confectioners sugar until at desired texture.  (I tend to find 5 cups works for me, unless the cake is sitting in warm temps outdoors – then 6 cups.)
Dog ate cake

So… after we ate 1/2 the cake, we all strolled outdoors to watch my kids play on their bikes and scooters.  And then the unthinkable happened.  We forgot we left the dog in the house unattended.  I found her up on our dining room table lapping off the frosting.  *sigh*  Well, at least I know she approved of the frosting too.  Into the trash the cake went!  And no… the dog did not get sick in case anyone was wondering.  We were blessed in that little way at the very least. 🙂

How was your Mother’s Day?

Oatmeal Creme Cake Bites

Oatmeal Cookie Bite

As a child, my Mom’s definition of a sweet treat was keeping cheap boxed sweets in the house.  (Sorry Mom, but you did!)  I fell in love with Little Debbie’s the most, which was either the chocolate roll cakes or the Oatmeal Creme Pies.  First of all, why WERE they called pies??? It’s a stuffed cookie isn’t it?

 

Oatmeal Cookie Bite

My kids know nothing about how these treats taste, and I “try” to keep it that way.  I did eventually break down and buy this box that you see pictured.  It was the first box in 15+ years that I’ve had in our house.  Wow, how time flies!  So, of course, my kids were doing a happy dance when Mommy actually BOUGHT a box.  They tore into them and quickly gobbled up 4 “pies.”  Seriously?? Of course, when I looked at the calories, I was grateful that they are just kids and have metabolisms at the speed of light.  Me?  Ok, I had a pie.  Just to be reminded why I bake.  And I was. 🙂

Oatmeal Cookie Bite

HOWEVER!  If you smash these “pies” up and roll them, they magically make a perfect cake ball.  Go figure!  So, I rolled them in some Wilton candy melts, using the green chocolate, because it’s close to St. Patrick’s Day, and let dry.  They were ready in 10 minutes, start to finish.  This crazy simple recipe is definitely one that I recommend you let your kids try out.  Let them make a mess!  It’s OK, really!  The smashing up was my favorite part, but then again, I love destruction from time to time. 🙂

Oatmeal Cookie Bite

The taste? SWEEEET and yet, I had to have another—>the next day of course.  I am watching my girly figure!  Of course, the kids loved these sweet treats, and the smart parent that I am, let them pass out the cake bites to the neighbors kids too.  Get these addicting sweet treats out of my house!

Oatmeal Cookie Bite

While I liked making these for the kiddos I found that you can really decorate them nicely (think blue or purple chocolate) for a party! They are fast to create which is ideal when pinched for time.

Enjoy!  

Anniversary Party in the Queen City

Most of you know that I also write for The Charlotte Moms website for their food and beverage column.  Today was a very special day, as we celebrated our one year anniversary!!  We had many wonderful contributions of items donated for our swag bags, giveaways, and tasty treats!  We truly felt blessed today seeing such amazing support from all areas of Charlotte, including Chick Fil A (Cotswold), where we held our event at.The Charlotte Moms

TCM displayBut I know what you all want to know… what did we eat?  Let’s talk food already!  We had a beautiful assortment of food items.  Of course, there were Chick Fil A nuggets and little mini sandwiches.  And they sure were yummy… who doesn’t love their chicken?  For desserts, Tropical Foods donated some beautifully dipped chocolate covered strawberries, candies and popcorn cakes.  I am a sucker for chocolate and have to admit I like the popcorn cakes.  The sweet and salty combination gets me every time.  Along with those items was an incredible almond flavored cake, so sheer white, delicate like a wedding cake supplied to us from Nona’s Sweets.

There was also an eye catching cake stand holder that was decorated with piped on roses and cake pops all throughout the holder.  This amazing display that was put on by Sky’s the Limit Custom Cakes, was well done in that we knew the flavors of cake pop according to a sprinkle color chart.  (Green and white sprinkles were for mint chocolate cakes, etc.)  Clever!

CupcrazedAnd finally, the beautiful mini cupcakes… These beauties were donated by two local vendors in the Charlotte area.  The ones on the left with the pink and purple tops were created from Cakes by Meredith, and they were super yummy!!  Cupcrazed had also had donated her wonderful cupcakes to the event.  Just look at the clever tops she put on them!  Crowns!!  (Our logo!)  She always pays attention to details, and has some pretty amazing flavored cupcakes that keep my family coming back to her store.

Thank you everyone for all of your contributions.  I must say that everything tasted delicious, and The Charlotte Moms were so thankful for your support today!

Eat cake, and be merry!

Cupcake in a Cone!

Sweet, adorable and very simple to bake!  

Today I had too many things on my to-do list and yet I had committed to making something for my daughter’s school bake sale.  Why do we as parents do this?  The good thing about this is that it was a clever design enough to sell, and simple enough for me to make on short time!  Plus I get to provide this design to you and that alone is worth it.

Directions:  Place flat bottomed cones into muffin pans or a baking pan.  With a simple box of cake mix, follow their instruction to create, then pour the mix 2/3 the way up each individual cone.  No need for baking cups!  Cook at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes and they are done. 

I did have a little learning lesson on mine, as I had cut the top of the bulky part of the cone off.  As the cake cooked, some poured out and I had to pry away the overhang of the cake.  Makes it not so perfect, however, they still tasted wonderful.  I would recommend if you cut the top off the cone, that you don’t fill too high, and it should be fine.

Decorate and voila!  Perfect for birthday parties, weddings or bake sales!

Enjoy!

Cake Pops and more!!!

You got to love these sweet little cake pops that the lovely Bakerella created.  Last year I made a batch, and I had learned some interesting lessons on what not to do.  From that point on, I decided I’ll leave them to the cake bakers out there.  Yesterday however, I decided to try again, and even attempted a little flair to the pops!  (Not they they need additional flair, they are great on their own!) What did I create? Cake pop kabobs!  I was going through ideas of what could be defined as romantic as well as fun for Valentine’s day and I think these really “take the cake.”  Ok… a play on words.

Ingredients:

  • Cake mix – any flavor (and ingredients that the box calls for)
  • Can of frosting
  • Wilton candy melts
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Sprinkles or other forms of topping
  • Styrofoam block

Directions:

Bake cake according to directions on box.  Let cake cool completely.  Break cake apart with a fork in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1/2 a can of frosting to the cake and mix.  Texture should be like a playdough – so add more frosting as needed.  (Always best to start with small amounts first and then add.)  Form into 1 1/2″ balls and place them on a waxed paper baking sheet.  Cool down the cake balls in the refrigerator if you like.  Melt chocolates in microwave or double boiler.  Take lollipop stick and dip stick into melted chocolate only 1/4″.  Then take dipped end of stick and place into cake ball.  Place directly straight into the chocolate and as Bakerella says, you rock it in the chocolate.  Don’t stir or spin it!!  Pull pop straight up out of the chocolate and then let excess drain off by tapping the hand holding the pop.   To see step by step instructions, check out Bakerella’s video on the process here. While chocolate is wet, add sprinkles and set pops into a styrofoam block to dry.  That’s it!

For the kabobs, you can really add whatever type of fruit you like, or chocolate covered marshmallows (yummy!)

And of course… because the Steelers are playing in the superbowl this weekend, I had made a couple just for you fans!

Angel food cake…kicked up!

Angel Food Cake – delicate, sweet, delicious and beautiful.  Before you ask, I did not make this cake. Instead, I took myself to the local Harris Teeter and picked out a cake.  Simple enough!  Naturally, I have to kick up the topping a notch, otherwise, it’s just a standard store bought cake.  (Please don’t be angry for that statement, I just bought one, right???)  So what is so special about the cake?? Nothing.  It’s all about the whipped topping.

Last night my sister and mom had the pleasure of enjoying this  dessert and they both agreed the topping was smooth as silk.  And the flavor? Well, white chocolate, or course!   Why put just a whipped topping on the cake when you can have more?

The recipe for the topping:

1 box of white chocolate instant pudding mix (sugar free is fine)

1 cup of milk

Whipped topping

Wisk the pudding mix with the milk.  The texture will be very thick.  Then with a spoon, stir in the whipped topping.  Let it chill for 15 minutes.  Smooth as silk, and way too easy.

This fine dessert is a PERFECT way to satisfy the sweet tooth after a very filling breakfast, lunch or dinner! (Yes, I did say breakfast!)

Wishing you a very Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Cheers!