Year in pictures?

Yeah, I’m a bit behind here. And rather than try and write detailed posts for everything I’ve done since January, I’m just dumping a bunch of pics and one liners about each item and if anyone wants a recipe let me know and I’ll provide the link, this way I can start fresh going forward into holiday baking season!

Is anyone listening to me (if peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis). And I just lost my last reader to that somewhat obscure reference.

Here goes (and not even necessarily in chronological order because lord knows how my computer decided what order to load these)…

1. Spritz Redux: We remade the spritz that got jacked in the prior post for New Year’s Eve. Made in yellow with gold sprinkles. The 4 year old (at the time) was super excited about a cookie gun. Sigh.

IMG_0055 IMG_0056

2. Chocolate cream pie – this was for New Year’s Eve too. It was awesome.

IMG_0057

3. I don’t even remember what I made these for but I think they were cake batter cookies. They were good.

IMG_0058

4. Superbowl Sunday football cupcakes. Nothing special, just chocolate cupcakes but frosted in football shapes.

IMG_0059

5. Valentine’s Day sugar cookies with my makeshift royal icing (I never have meringue powder on hand and am too squeamish for raw eggs so I usually just mix milk and powdered sugar). We used these for teacher gifts for preschool.

IMG_0060

6. Valentine’s Brownie Pops. Red velvet brownies cut into heart shapes, frosted with buttercream then shoved onto sticks. Except they were too heavy/dense to keep on the sticks and would roll over as soon as you picked them up. Tasted good though!

IMG_0061

7. St. Patrick’s Day thumbprint cookies. Just your typical chocolate cookies with hershey’s kisses, we just made them holiday appropriate with green sprinkles. I actually found them pretty blah.

IMG_0062

8. Chocolate chip cookie dough pie. The crust is a giant cookie. YES.

IMG_0063

9. Chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream. OMG this frosting. I can’t share these recipes because they were from a dear friend who owns a bakery in California and is sweet enough to share recipes with me to use for the birthday of our twins we lost to prematurity. But this cake and frosting especially was AMAZING.

IMG_0064

10. Passover macaroons. Nothing special/fancy about these but we liked them. They’re not burnt, the bottoms are dipped in chocolate.

IMG_0065 IMG_0066

11. Matzo crack. Like Christmas crack but made with matzo. I used sliced almonds for the topping.

IMG_0067

12. Easter cookies to follow Passover. Yeah, we’re confused. Just regular sugar cookies with royal icing but I got meringue powder and made real royal icing this time. It was a pain in the ass.

IMG_0068

13. Easter nest carrot cake cupcakes. These were all about presentation but also yummy! We brought them for Easter brunch at our best friends’ house.

IMG_0069

14. Purple cake. This was just a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, purple because it was the day of our annual March of Dimes March for Babies (and their trademark color is purple).

IMG_0071

15. Pumpkin whoopie pies. These are from just a week ago. I intended to just make soft pumpkin cookies and ice them but they were so cake like they reminded me of whoopie pies so I found a cream cheese frosting recipe and sandwiched them. BIG hit.

IMG_0072

16. Halloween cupcakes. Recipes from my bakery owner friend, both vanilla/almond cake (I tend to swap vanilla extract for almond) and the orange had vanilla buttercream, purple had almond buttercream. Monster and bats.

IMG_0073 IMG_0074 IMG_0075

17. Tart cherry cobbler. We stupidly signed up for a fruit/veggie CSA this summer (stupidly because we don’t have time to cook all the obscure things they sent and the kids wouldn’t touch most of it). But we did get nice fruit for baking. I had helpers.

IMG_5135 IMG_5136 IMG_5139

18. Chocolate cake with salted buttercream frosting again. Remade this for Gammy’s (my mom’s) birthday.

IMG_5140

19. Peach cobbler muffins. Another made with CSA haul, we got SO many peaches.

IMG_5374 IMG_5375

20. Memorial day berry trifle. Not really “baked”, especially since we used store bought angel food cake for the cake part, but it looks pretty and is a prepared dessert?

IMG_7245

21. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These were more of a regular cookie (vs cake) consistency than the other pumpkin cookies we used for the whoopie pies. Delicious.

IMG_9886

Ok. Hopefully I’ll remember to post after each treat going forward so I can include more info. Thanks if anyone is still checking here ever!!!

Advertisements

Pumpkin Cake!

photo 5

My brother’s birthday often coincides with our annual Halloween get together, so it seemed only fitting that he get a Halloween themed cake. I went with something that looked cute but wouldn’t have me up until 2am baking entirely from scratch so I decided on a bundt cake from cake mix. Didn’t really use a specific recipe other than borrowing from numerous things I saw on Pinterest.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes cake mix (I used chocolate – accidentally used 2 different mixes. Sigh. Different shades of brown).
  • Ingredients box mixes call for (typically eggs and oil I think).
  • Buttercream icing (powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, food coloring). I have any number of recipes on other posts for it. Do NOT used shortening because (a) it tastes bad (meaning you’ll have to start over with real butter if you’re like me), and (b) it says this on the box which is terrifying:photo 2
  • Glaze – I don’t even remember the recipe I used but I think it was mostly cream cheese, milk and powdered sugar. Sorry, I’m lazy, but you can google glaze recipes.
  • One green ice cream cone.

Bake the 2 cakes according to package instructions. Note that I used a shit-ton (technical term) of cooking spray to ensure clean removal from Bundt. Here I am with my weapon and wearing the awesome R. Kelly “Hot and Fresh out the Kitchen” apron the husband got my for Mother’s Day.

photo 3

photo 1

Stack one cake on top of the other upside down to make a pumpkin shape. Drizzle with the glaze, then decorate detail with buttercream. Stick ice cream cone in middle for stem.

Mine was kind of a hot mess, but it tasted good!

photo 4

Brownie Oreo Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Yes, you read that correctly. I have only one word – OMG (ok, that might be three words, but whatever). I saw these on pinterest, linked back from a blog, but it’s not even really a recipe so I think I can just instruct you here.

 

photo 3

Get a pack of Oreos.

Spread about a TBSP of peanut butter atop two Oreos and stack them inside a cupcake liner in a muffin pan.

Prepare boxed brownie batter. Pour 2 TBSP of prepared brownie batter over each Oreo stack. Bake for about 20 minutes (probably about time on package).

Enjoy the deliciousness. These were SO rich but probably one of my favorite things I’ve made and so easy.photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This one was for my mom’s (aka “Gammy”) birthday. Wanted cupcakes, something fun, and summery as it was mid July. Found a perfect recipe here, relatively easy too as kids wanted to help bake for Gammy.

936489_10200841510733469_370659405_n

 

I found this recipe on numerous sites just googling to see if I could locate it (including here and here) so here it is reproduced.

Ingredients:

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 (3 oz) box of strawberry gelatin
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of frozen sliced strawberries in syrup, thawed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs

Make cake mix as directed but add the jello to the dry mix before doing the rest, and as the last step add cut up strawberries ( I used fresh, no syrup). Bake as directed for the most part (at 350 for about 16-18 minutes). I then used cream cheese frosting instead of the one with the recipes. Typical recipe – I used 4 oz. (half package) softened cream cheese, 4 oz (1 stick) butter, softened, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix all together, pipe onto cupcakes.

Then, because I like things pretty, I sliced strawberries and topped each cupcake with a sliver.

Banana Cream Poke Cake

Happy birthday my Fat Man! I pinned this one months ago knowing I’d make it for the husband’s birthday since there is NOTHING he loves more than banana pudding + Nilla wafers. Super easy recipe – pretty much make a cake in a pan, poke some holes in it and pour pudding over hte holes, then top with whipped cream (store bought, no less) and crushed nilla wafers. Enjoy for fewer days than you should because “people” keep eating a couple inches off every time we open the fridge.

 

603431_10200861228466400_785539362_n

Full (and slightly more detailed) recipe at the Country Cook: http://www.thecountrycook.net/2012/06/banana-pudding-poke-cake.html

 

Ingredients:

1 (10 oz.) box yellow cake mix
ingredients needed to make cake (eggs, oil & water)
2 (3.4 oz.) packages instant banana pudding
4 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
20 vanilla wafers, crushed

Instructions as described above or at original source link. YUM! I’m definitely planning on trying some other variations on poke cakes based on this attempt.

Cream Cheese Lemon Bars

 

IMG_7168

It took me a while to even remember where I found this recipe or what exactly it was, until I went and looked at my Pinterest. Recipe from this blog. I think they were to take to a friend’s house for dinner and I had limited time so wanted something based on a mix but still somewhat unique/homemade.

IMG_7179

Ingredients are easy and mostly stuff we’d have around anyways:

  • 1 pkg. lemon cake mix
  •  vegetable oil
  •  eggs
  • 8 oz. pkg cream cheese
  •  lemon juice
  •  sugar

IMG_7174

 

And easy to do too. Combine cake mix, oil and egg until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup, put the rest in a pan and pat down to form a crust. Bake, put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and whip, spread over rust and crumble remaining crumbs atop, bake again (see source blog for more specifics). They were yummy!

 

IMG_7171

 

Pistachio Cake Mix Cookies

IMG_6309

Ok, I know I raved to high heaven about the s’mores bars in my prior post, but these? I’m pretty sure I can say that these are my favorite thing I have baked so far. They have my two favorite things – white chocolate and almond extract. And? Mix based so CRAZY easy.

Found these while searching Pinterest for St. Patrick’s Day cookies. I wanted something besides the typical sugar cookies frosted and/or cut to be St. Patrick’s themed. These came up and I fell in love.

All you need is a box of pistachio pudding mix, a box of cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and almond extract (green food coloring optional). And white chocolate chips, or regular chocolate chips or whatever else you might want  to sprinkle in. I did white chocolate chips. (Full recipe, etc. at original link at “Eat Cake for Dinner”).

IMG_6285

Mix the cake and pudding mixes together. Then add the oil, eggs, almond extract and food coloring (I did 2 drops) and mix with a hand mixer. Stir in chocolate chips. Form into balls about 1 inch diameter and put on lightly greased cookie sheet. Top each with 2-3 chocolate chips.

IMG_6288

Bake at 350 10-12 minutes (I did about 13 in our slow oven).  Remove, cool and go crazy with deliciousness.

IMG_6301

 

IMG_6314

 

IMG_6311

IMG_6305

I may try with other combos of cake mix and pudding flavors. Banana pudding? Butterscotch?! Can’t wait to experiment…

Red Velvet Valentine’s Cookies with Cream Cheese frosting

IMG_1508

Finally – Valentine’s baking success!!!

Found this recipe on pinterest and chose it among 3 contenders, in part because it used a box mix which meant much easier to make with a 3.5 year old helper while the 1.5 year old napped. Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Ingredients:

IMG_1500

1 box red velvet cake mix (original recipe used Duncan Hines, I used Betty Crocker; I’m sure it doesn’t matter what brand you use)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies
Heart shaped cookie cutter, optional

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside. [Note – I have no effing idea what a silpat is. LOL. I used parchment paper. Which as I learned with Hanukkah cookies, is very much NOT interchangeable with wax paper (the latter of which should NOT be used in an oven while baking.]

2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Take about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and form into a ball. Roll the ball in powdered sugar until fully coated. Place cookie dough balls on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are set and cookies begin to crack. [Another note – the recipe seems to imply you can roll the dough into balls BEFORE rolling in the sugar. Not so much. It was painfully sticky and gooey, and I messed up my first cookie trying to do that. After that, I would get a dollop with my tablespoon (I very much overfilled each to make bigger cookies to accommodate my cookie cutter size), drop the whole dollop into a shallow bowl of powdered sugar, then roll it until it could be handled easily, THEN roll into a ball.]

IMG_1501

IMG_1502

3. Let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes. If desired, cut cookies into heart shapes, using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely. Eat the cookie scraps:)

IMG_1504

IMG_1505

I didn’t get a pic of the scraps but I think my son ate about 12 cookies’ worth of scraps. LOL. He was a fan. I wouldn’t kick them out of bed either.

Note [from original recipe] -you don’t have to cut the cookies into heart shapes. They are great round too!

So, instead of leaving it at that, I really wanted to do some decorating as well (part of why I had originally shied from this recipe, as I love decorating desserts) so I decided to take it up a notch and borrow a cream cheese frosting recipe from one of the other contenders to decorate our cookies.  Frosting from Joy the Baker’s Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe (adapted by her from Hummingbird Bakery cookbook). The original recipe was a cinnamon cream cheese, but I just wanted regular cream cheese frosting so I left out the cinnamon.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I never actual sift. Oh well.)

3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature (As usual I cheated and stuck in microwave to desired consistency.)

4 ounces cream cheese, cold (Joy the Baker used room temperature, mine was probably midway between cold and room temp)

Beat the powdered sugar and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment (I don’t think I have a paddle attachment so I used the standard attachment).  Mix on medium-slow speed until it comes together and is well mixed. (I think I did something wrong because mine was still pretty much just powder after this step but I continued as instructed).

Add the cream cheese all at once and beat on medium to medium-high until incorporated. (Again, still way too dry, so I took it upon myself to VERY slowly add whole milk until desired consistency. I probably added 1 tbsp total).

Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 5 minutes, or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.Do not over-beat as the frosting can quickly become runny.

My own additional step – add one drop of red food coloring (liquid, not gel) to make pink.

IMG_1503

Then, I put the frosting in a frosting bag with a small decorative tip and piped onto each cookie, and sprinkled red and white crystal sugar on the frosting.

IMG_1507

 

IMG_1506

HUGE fan of these. So much that I considered making more after they were gone in a day (we wrapped up a decent # of them for various Valentine’s gifts to teachers, nanny, etc.).

Cake Batter Truffles

Got this recipe from Elise Bakes and was going to file away for some future date, but the 3 year old dictator in our home was demanding a Christmas Party to use the candles that he’d been carrying around in a bag for a week, so we modified to New Year’s Party and decided to have a little celebration of 2013’s birth.

IMG_4746

Recipe as follows:

Ingredients:

IMG_4695

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup yellow cake mix, dry
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3-5 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp sprinkles
  • 16 oz white candy melts or vanilla chips [I strongly recommend the latter … see below.]

Instructions:

  1. Beat butter and sugar until combined.

IMG_4697

  1. Add flour, cake mix, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined throughout.

IMG_4699

  1. Add milk by the tablespoon until you reach a dough consistency (Elise said she usually ends up using just 3 tbsp, I think I actually used close to 4.5).  The dough will be sort of crumbly, but you should still be able to form balls out of it.
  2. Mix in sprinkles and form balls out of the dough.

IMG_4734

  1. Chill balls in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Melt candy melts according to package directions and using two forks, dip the balls in the melts.  Let harden before moving.

Yeah, so that last step there is where it gets interesting. I started with Candiquick and melted according to package instructions. It seemed like it was getting too thick so I tried to reheat it. Still didn’t work, got thicker, kept trying, etc. and here’s where we ended up:

IMG_4735

Not so much. I guess I overheated and burned it. Classy. Luckily I had a bag of the Hobby Lobby vanilla melts in the cabinet so I used those next and did better. Only issues was it was still thicker than I pictured and hard to smoothly roll the balls in it to get evenly coated. Plus they dried FAST so half were dry before I could sprinkle them so I had to add a bit in top to use the sprinkles. The two different candy melt options explain the color disparity here too, ivory (vanilla melts) v. white (candiquick).

IMG_4744

P.S. – We MAY have had a three year old running around the kitchen yelling “I wanna dip my balls in it” at some point in the course of making these. I plead the fifth.

Testing, 1…2…?

Is anyone reading this? Anyone out there at all?

This blog has been a bit neglected, I admit…but in my defense, I did kind of have a whole bout of bedrest preventing me from standing in the kitchen for extended periods of time, followed by a baby, and then a lot of time caring for said baby while chasing a crazy 2 year old around and restraining him for numerous time outs a day.

I have baked a bit during the hiatus though (premade mixes are my friend when I have a 2 year old “helper” – FYI Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie mix are the absolute BEST brownies EVER), more so recently, AND I just received a repaired lens form Canon in the mail so I’m back in business photo wise, so hoping to get this baby up and running again in time for holiday baking.

In the meantime, I did photograph a couple of things I made that were never published so I will post those shortly and promise to use this blog more going forward!