From Recipes

Dinosaur Rawr Four Cake

This post is legitimately one year late.  It was 323 days ago, in fact, that I made a dinosaur cake for Ike’s fourth birthday.  But, in the spirit of trying to getting my blog caught up with my life, I’m sharing it now…just six short weeks away from the kid’s fifth birthday.

(Please, everyone, join me in saying “how could it have been five years!?”)

Sure, I could start by updating all of you on our move, the sale of two houses and all that jazz, but let’s start with cake.  There is that whole thing about eating dessert first, no?

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Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to think we should rename the fall season and just call it “pumpkin season.”  I, for one, can only take this.much of the pumpkin flavored everything.  I love pumpkin bread or a good pumpkin whoopie pie (you know, with cream cheese frosting) but that’s my limit.

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But, based on the pumpkin-everything-beginning-September-1 that I’m seeing, I know I’m quite alone in my pumpkin meh-ness.  That was underscored by a recent request from our childcare providers for some pumpkin brownies.  (I offered to make something delicious after they had to clean up some pretty offensive messes from my children.)  And, so, pumpkin swirl brownies were on the baking list for this weekend.

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Homemade Gift Idea: Caramel Whiskey Sauce

It’s kind of a long story, but a few months ago I was introduced to the idea of a whiskey sauce. It may or may not have involved me sorely loosing a cooking competition.

I’m not bitter.

On the up side, my world was opened to the concept of bread pudding with Tennessee whiskey sauce. Those are two things, either separate or together, that I would not have imagined eating. Now? Call me a convert.

Fast forward a few weeks later when I had some of my female co-workers over for a small gathering. I decided that we’d top off our meal with warm gingerbread (I’m not quite ready to serve my so-so bread pudding to a crowd) with whipped cream and…you guessed it…this caramel whiskey sauce.

The saddest part of all of this was that I had to Google Tennessee whiskey to know what kind to buy. I’m more for wine than whiskey—what can I say?

After one taste I knew I’d be saving this post for the Homemade Gifts portion of the Dare to DIY party. This could be the perfect gift for neighbors, co-workers, friends or family members. It was great on top of gingerbread, but I could also see it on ice cream, the infamous bread pudding, brownies…the list is endless.

This recipe makes about one pint, which is more than enough for one family. It might be wise to break this into even smaller jars to get more gifting for your effort—a little of this does go a long way.

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Strawberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Happy weekend, friends!  It’s rare for me to post on a Saturday.  Heck, it’s rare for me to post at all these days.  But, I made these treats last weekend with good intentions of sharing them during the week so you could consider them for your Valentine’s baking.  And now that the weekend is here I thought I’d share in case you have an itch to be in the kitchen.  Or an itch to eat yummy treats.  Or both.

Last Sunday I found myself with a pint of strawberries on the verge of going bad, so I needed to use them up and fast.  And why not combine them with butter, sugar, oatmeal and white chocolate?

Strawberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
Based on this recipe from Baked by Rachel

CRUST/TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (for topping only)

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all crust/topping ingredients (except the chocolate chips) in one bowl and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into pea-sized pieces and combine the ingredients together.  (It will be a bit of a workout, which will help justify eating the treats.)  

If you don’t have a pastry blender, I suppose you could use a couple of knives and work the butter into small pieces.  The idea is that the crust/topping is crumbly, not well combined.  

Reserve one cup of the mixture for the topping and put it aside.

Next combine the sliced strawberries with the other filling ingredients and mix well.  Then pack the crust mixture into the bottom of a well-greased pie plate (or 8×8 square pan).

Place the strawberries on top, then sprinkle the topping mixture and white chocolate chips over the strawberries.

Pop the pan into the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Let it cool for 10-15 minutes and you should easily be able to slice the bars and remove them from the pan.

By the way, I had the fantastic idea of drizzling white chocolate over the finished bars, but I forgot how easily white chocolate burns and I nearly started a fire in our microwave.  Oops!  What can I say, my baking adventures are rarely flawless!

What kinds of Valentine’s day treats are you baking, buying or eating?

 

Savory and Healthy Veggie Frittata

Okay, fess up.  You’re like me and you loaded your refrigerator with all kinds of healthy veggies two weeks after your initial new year’s resolutions failed, right?  Well, if you’ve been more successful than me with that whole eating-your-fruits-and-veggies thing then you’ll surely enjoy this recipe.  And if you find yourself in the same boat as me, well, you can thank me as the zucchini is rescued from the depths of your crisper.  You’re welcome.

You should have seen the face on my darling husband when this egg and veggie glory came out of the oven—it was akin to the face he makes while changing diapers.

See what I have to put up with around here?

My rationale:  It has all things you like.  Egg, cheese, zucchini, red pepper and potato.  With that I got a “hmmmmm….I’ll try some” response, and then he was hooked (with a little ketchup drizzled on top, of course).

Interested?  Here’s how you can whip this up for your family tonight.

Veggie FrittataINGREDIENTS:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup liquid egg whites
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBS olive oil (I used the fancy-pants Tuscan Herb Olive Oil from my pals at Fiore)
  • 1 large potato diced into small cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini sliced and cubed
  • 1 red pepper sliced and cubed
  • AND/OR any veggie of your choosing
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

Slice and prep your veggies starting with the potato.  You can do one of two things with the potatoes.  You can pre-cook them a little in a bowl in the microwave (I did 3 minutes) or you can add them to an ovenproof skillet in the olive oil for a few minutes.  The goal?  Get the potatoes a little soft so they cook along with the other ingredients.  While your potatoes are in the microwave, cook your other veggies in the ovenproof skillet with the olive oil for 3-5 minutes, until they start to get soft.  Then, add the potatoes.

Whisk the eggs, whites and salt and pepper in separate dish, then pour the mixture over the veggies and cook for 3-5 minutes over medium/high heat, until the edges start to firm a little.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top and move the skillet from the stove top to an oven pre-heated to 350 and bake for 30 minutes. 

We each had a slice right away (even the baby liked it!) and then I transferred the frittata to a plate to store in the fridge.  Now it’s ready for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Heck, maybe all three depending on how lazy I am this week.

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A Frosty Fun Snowman Birthday Cake

I could name this post so many things.  Like: Ike turns three!  Or: My First Foray With Fondant.  Perhaps: Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary and Happy New Year!  (All would be applicable for us.)  It’s been a busy few weeks, to say the least, with Christmas fun, Ike’s third birthday, our sixth anniversary and the start of 2014.  I hope to get caught up here on the blog eventually.  And since the majority of the country is in a deep freeze this week, I think a snowman cake is an appropriate place to start.

I wanted to make Ike’s cake special because to him, at age three, birthdays equal CAKE and SINGING!  Really, as much as he loves presents, he is mostly excited about cake at this point.  After looking at different cake ideas, I decided on snowmen despite the Christmasy feel because Ike had grown particularly fond of snowmen after watching Frosty the Snowman who, of course, exclaims “happy birthday!”  Plus, it was easy and I had all the ingredients.  (BTW, I was inspired by Martha’s snowmen, I didn’t think up this idea on my own.)

This cake came together in a series of short steps over three days, though it could easily be done all in one day.  We were heading to Vermont for some family gatherings and to celebrate Ike’s birthday, so I made the fondant snowmen on Christmas night, the cake and frosting the next day, and then assembled the whole cake on Friday night once we arrived in Vermont so it was ready for Ike’s birthday on Saturday.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my act together enough to take step-by-step photos, so if you’re interested in recreating this, you’ll have to use your imagination!

Here are the recipes I used for the cake:

The marshmallow fondant was surprising easy to make using melted mini marshmallows, confectioner’s sugar and a bit of water.  It was really easy to work with, too, so I think I may be trying more with fondant in the future.  It’s like a grown up version of Play-Doh!

After I made the fondant, I separated a few small pieces and used gel food coloring to create the different colors.  I used black gel icing that comes in a tube for the eyes and mouth, and sprinkles of different sorts for the buttons.  On the outside of the cake I used blue sprinkles, sparkling sugar and cinnamon dots to create the wintery scene.  Oh, and I used tooth picks and wooden dowels to keep the snowmen standing and to keep hats and noses in place.  Tres important.

The cake ended up being a huge hit with my biggest birthday boy.  As different family members arrived, he proudly opened the fridge to show off his cake and exclaimed, “I’m fweee now!”  It’s fair to say it made his day.  We even let him eat two slices.

Have you tried making cakes with fondant before?  And, seriously, you should try the chocolate marshmallow buttercream frosting that I linked above.  It’s amazing.

Psst…looking for another cake idea?  Check out last year’s sprinkle #2 cake!

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