Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm back! It's been a crazy busy summer. Now that my kiddo's are back in school, I have a bit more time to breathe (and bake!). I've been experimenting a lot in the past few weeks, trying lots of new recipes for the cookbook I'm working on too. Life is good :)

Now let's get to these summer projects!

It's a Strawberry Summer!

When planning my son's birthday party, I asked him what kind of cake and what kind of filling he wanted. He was very specific: Vanilla cake with a fresh strawberry filling....

I made up these cupcakes just to test a few recipes, and of course I had to pretty them up a bit. He saw them and promptly changed his mind to a banana cake with lots of chocolate frosting! Hmmmm, no pink? :)

Cinnamon Deliciousness!

These cinnamon rolls are a Christmas morning staple. Occasionally I'll dust off the recipe for a special weekend breakfast. I make the dough the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Pop it into a preheated oven in the morning and watch your family come running into the kitchen!

It's a Monkey Party!

I doubled my chocolate cake recipe and used 3 separate pans; a Pyrex bowl (top of the head), an 8" cake pan (bottom of the pan) and 1 large muffin cup (cut in half for the ears).
The decoration is all buttercream with the filling being a dark truffle ganasche.

For the monkey cupcakes, I made a bunch of mini chocolate chip-less cookies and cut them as soon as they came out of the oven, before the edges crisped up.

Chocolate buttercream (some colored black), white chocolate chips (eyes) and dark chocolate melting chips (ears) completed the look.

It's a 'His' and 'Hers" Garden Party!

This cake was done for 'her'. It was a vanilla cake with a raspberry filling and a vanilla buttercream under the fondant. My original goal was to pipe tiny cherry blossoms on the cake, but it was so hot that day and the buttercream was not cooperating, so I ended up using modeling chocolate instead and formed them into tiny roses.

These dirt cups were done for 'him'. Vegan chocolate pudding on the bottom (from a recipe I will never use again!) and crushed gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies on top complete with a gummy worm!

Madeleine and my mother-in-law Robin made all of these party poms. They ended up making so many of them that I didn't have to put up any of the decorations that I had purchased! We used them as centerpieces on the tables as well as hanging around the room.

These were a hit! Strawberry flavored marshmallows dipped in pink white chocolate and rolled in clear sanding sugar. I skewered them and put them in a flower vase.

'His' side of the table was all things brown and messy! There was half baked brownie bites, a Thai peanut pasta and BBQ meatballs. To drink, I served iced coffee for 'him' and raspberry lemonade for 'her'

'Her' side of the table was full of pink girlie foods. There were the marshmallow pops, watermelon berry salad, a shrimp cucumber salad, and a veggie plate served with a salmon dill spread and a fresh hummus.
The decorations were so easy. I had a striped picnic tablecloth that I bought on clearance for two dollars and plenty of plates, silverware and napkins saved from previous parties that matched fabulously. Since we used the party poms for decoration as well, I was able to return the other decorations and the only purchase, other than food, was balloons!

It's a Star Wars Party!

A 5 year old boy's dream come true. He wanted a Stormtrooper helmet cake and that's what he got! We planned out the menu and the activities together because I know nothing about Star Wars and with these little aficionados, I couldn't afford to make a mistake!

We'll start with the food, of course!

Here is the cake, once cut in half. The cake was banana. It was soy, nut, dairy, and gluten free. There were a few kiddos with different food allergies coming and I know how much it stinks when my kids go to a party and can't eat anything, so I wanted to make sure every kid could eat everything!

Obi Wands!

Caramel flavored marshmallows dipped in dark chocolate, rolled in chocolate jimmies and sprinkles and then skewered. These were the first to disappear!


I made a basic biscuit dough, pre-baked them, then topped with homemade pizza sauce, provolone cheese and pepperoni (on half of them)

Vader Veggies and Hutt-mus (not pictured)!

This was a favorite more with the adults :)

Padme's Pink Salad!

Had to represent the ladies! This recipe is my mom's 'Jell-O salad'

16oz container of cottage cheese
large box of raspberry Jell-O
large container of Cool Whip

Personally, I don't like the texture of cottage cheese and neither do my kids, so I thought I'd try something different, see if I could fool everyone... I dumped the cottage cheese into my VitaMix (blender) and blended really well, adding the powdered Jell-O. I blended the heck out of it until it was really smooth. Then I poured it into a bowl and folded the Cool Whip into it. Top of with some fresh raspberries and have all the parents asking for the recipe!!

Yoda Soda!

2 bottles of Sprite or 7up and a really big jug of lemon-lime flavored juice drink -I used Hawaiian Punch (yes, I usually do organic, low sugar, healthy stuff, but I really let loose here, lol). I bought a small brick of dry ice and chunked off little pieces to add to the soda. I ended up needing to add a new piece of ice about every 20 minutes. Next time-chilled soda and juice and bigger pieces of dry ice!

Look, see here's the bubbling piece of ice!

Can I touch it?!

Another closeup of the cake. I'm soooooo happy with how it turned out!

He's happy too, and that's all that matters to me!

Jedi Training!

I used brown and white felt to cut out basic Jedi robes for the kids. The belts are black felt. I really like working with felt for no-sew projects like these, there was no unraveling of the fabric which is always a bonus :) It took about an hour to make 16 kids' robes and 4 adult sized robes.
Each child was given a light saber to being their training session. The light sabers were made from pool noodles that I purchased at the dollar store and then cut in half--Yeah, 50 cents a piece!! I used black and shiny silver duct tape to make the handles. It took me about 2 hours to make 16 sabers.

Jedi Training, level 1!

It's hard to see here, but there were 4 adults blowing bubbles towards the kids. The goal was to pop the bubbles without hitting your fellow Jedi's... Yeah right....

Jedi Training, level 2!

This went much better! Each child was given a blown-up balloon. I let them loose in the field and the goal was to keep the balloon in the air without letting it hit the ground. Princess Leia here is doing great!

This kept them busy for quite a while, and they were all far enough apart that they weren't trying to attack each other!

Of course there's always time to pick some flowers :)

Planet time!

Originally, I had planned for level 3 Jedi training to be a 1 on 1 light saber battle on the railroad ties that surround the play structure. However, when I saw how crazy those boys were with the sabers, I nixed level 3 and had them come in to design-your-own Death Star while I got the food ready. They are basic paper plates turned in towards each other and stapled. This kept them busy, and relatively quiet for about 10 minutes.

What's coming up next.......

Should we be nervous.......

I'm ready for anything you've got, bring it on.......


Princess Leia gets a pep talk from Queen Amidala

Face off.....


Actually, we had hundreds of water balloons that the kids took aim with. This was a blast!

Battle done! Kids are getting exausted!

The Death Star!

For the Death Star, I took a soccer ball pinata and pulled all the paper off of the outside, spray painted it with a metallic silver and added a little black paint and a black circle to cover the candy hole out of the black duct tape.

Get it!!!!

The last activity. The kids were so exhausted, after each child had 3 turns, Darth Vader took over and broke it open for them!

It was an amazing day!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Red, White and Blue! We have the most amazing local cherries and we've been eating pounds of them a week! I was in heaven yesterday at the 75% off sale at Sur La Table and I found my newest kitchen gadget.....A hand held cherry pitter!! How I ever got along without one is crazy! I thought a cherry tart would be a great end to our family BBQ. It's not too sweet or too heavy. I made a pastry crust of GF flour, salt, xanthan gum, shortening and ice water. I think I'll leave the xanthan gum out next time, as the crust was a little too firm for my taste. I used half the normal amount of sugar in the cherries and used a bit of cornstarch as a thickener. The vanilla cinnamon cream is a mixture of vegan vanilla yogurt (soy or coconut), vegan cream cheese and a bit of cinnamon. Topped off with some blueberries from our garden, it looks very patriotic!
Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies?! Well, if you're gluten free and/or vegan, you may not like them so much. My daughter and I went downtown Portland yesterday on a gluten free/vegan bakery tour (self guided). I wanted to taste what my competition had to offer. The PSU Saturday Farmers Market boasts many of these bakeries all in one place, so we just moved from booth to booth eating way too much! The consensus at the end was conveyed my my daughter, "When are you going to start your own bakery? Your food tastes so much better!" Everything we sampled was heavy, choke-on-it dry, crumbly, or had a weird aftertaste. It made me want to come home and duplicate everything we tasted. I started with these scrumptious cookies. They are slightly crispy on the outside, gooey in the center, and the entire batch disappeared in a short afternoon! We had company for the 4th of July, and everyone loved them, not just the gluten free and vegan guests.

**Another bonus is that you can eat as much raw batter as you want....No eggs!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good Morning Chocolate!
My kids get all the healthies for their weekday mornings: Oatmeal, fruit smoothies, omlettes, zucchini pancakes etc... Sundays, however, I let them pick what they want. This morning was all about the chocolate chip muffins! I admit, when I dumped the chips in, more escaped the bag than planned, but I cut some sugar out, so it's all good! This recipe made 6 giant muffins. Even my 8 year old could only eat one!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 1/2 cups Pamela's pancake and baking mix
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 eggs
2 TBS oil
1 TBS vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips (mine may have gotten closer to a cup....)
Pre-heat oven to 350
Spray muffin tins with cooking spray (makes 6 giant muffins or 12 regular size)
Mix all ingredients together
Fill muffin tins 3/4 full
Bake 20-25 min for regular sized muffins or 35-45 minutes for the giant ones

So amazing about 5 minutes after they've been taken out of the oven!
Welcome Baby Girl!

This was one of my favorite cakes I've done. It's whimsical and fun! The bow and ribbons are modeling chocolate and the dots and lettering are fondant.
Happy Birthday Mama!

I think when you become a mom, that's about the time you stop getting birthday cakes, unless it's a milestone birthday. My mom is the most amazing woman ever and I wanted to make her an amazing cake. The roses are white modeling chocolate. They held up great on a really hot day! She cried when she saw it and I cried when I saw her reaction!
Graduation time!

The graduate had received her master's degree in teaching, what a great accomplishment! This was also my first attempt at making my own fondant. I really liked working with it, but it wouldn't dry for anything and it was quite greasy. It was a buttercream fondant, not a traditional fondant. It tasted great! I stacked 2 'books' and created a graduation cap in her school colors. The design on the top book is actually the school logo. I looked at a photo of it and hand piped it with buttercream. The bottom book and cap were chocolate cake, the smaller book was my orange dream cake.