Archive for June, 2009

June 29, 2009

A birthday cake to remember…

I was always really into birthdays.  Like, really into them.  I started planning my party for the next year the day after my birthday.  I always had it at the same place, a local park with sprinklers and a merry-go-round, and it always had a different theme.  I had a particular eeny-meeny-miny-mo type system to determine what the theme would be (usually some sort of animal), and I was very strict about the results.  I ended up having not just a cat themed party, which seems a pretty natural choice for a young girl, but also lizards, fish, and turtles on three different years. The theme extended to invitations, decorations, and most importantly, the cake. I always designed and helped to make my own cake. In fact, my love of elaborate birthday cakes probably should have been a warning to my parents about my addiction to baking adventures…

Then I graduated 5th grade.  I decided it was time for me to grow up a little, and have my first pool party – no more childish animal themes for me!  I made elaborate hand-made invitations with little swimmer girls with bikinis and towels.  I think I invited about 21 girls – each invitation customized to the girl.  Only 4 ended up being able to come.  The curse of the August birthday – everyone was ALWAYS on vacation.  Anyways, I didn’t let that stop me. I made a cake that I still remember today.  I must have seen the idea somewhere, but I have no idea where.  It was quite an ordeal to make, but amazingly fun. I just found these pictures as I was going through a bunch of old photos and had to post them.

It was a double layer sheet cake, with a kidney shaped pool scooped out of the center.  We lined the pool with frosting, and then filled it with blue jello and let it set overnight. Then we used teddy grahams with frosting bathing suits, sticks of chewing gum for a diving board and tables, gumballs for beach balls. Chocolate covered preztel rings served as inner tubes and the lifeguard stand, and fruit rollups became towels, chairs, volleyball nets…

If my memory serves me correctly, the cake looked better than it tasted. I remember it being a little soggy, and tasted a bit weird with the blue jello. But for a newly-turned-11 year old, it was a master piece.

June 25, 2009

Berry Good Muffins

With all the sweet treats I’ve been whipping up lately, I decided to post up these yummy, healthy, berry muffins that I found on Two Peas and Their Pod (originally from Joy the Baker).  I decided to use fresh berries, which overflowed with jucy yummyness after baking.  I used blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries (much more than a cup!!)

I realized mid-baking that I had no applesauce, OR buttermilk, so I had to improvise a bit.  It was a while ago that I made these, but I believe that I used 1/2 cup yogurt, a cup of milk, and increased the oil to 3 tbs.  I was okay with not using applesauce – my last attempt to bake with applesauce were kind of disasterous…. But I would like to try these again with buttermilk – I think that would help enrich all the whole wheat flour, oats, general healthyness etc.

Although these got pretty good reviews from the family, and I have seen them being munched on at breakfast, I found some still in the fridge the other day, so I wouldn’t say they were the greatest hit.  I actually liked them a lot – they were best JUST out of the oven, when the berries were all gooey and juicy.  They keep okay in the fridge, but I think they sort of lose their sparkle after a few days… if you can’t eat them in a few days, toss them into the freezer.

Oatmeal Berry Muffins

Adapted from Joy the Baker via Two Peas and Their Pod

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used 1 cup milk)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (I increased to 3 tbs with the above substitutions)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used fresh blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries – at least 1 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil, egg, and extracts. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist. Fold in berries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Makes 14-16 regular muffins

Bake for 16-18 minutes. Best when toasty warm and dripping with berry goodness:)

June 24, 2009

Cute Cupcakes!

I just found these pictures on my computer… I can’t even remember how long ago I made them. They aren’t great pictures – but these cupcakes were just so fun to make I had to share.  I made them from the incredibly adorable book Hello, Cupcake.  I just wish I had enough special occasions to make these kinds of cutesy cupcakes.  These I did just make for fun though!

I’m not posting the recipe this time, but basically to make the butterflies I just used chocolate candy melts in a ziploc bag with the corner cut off to draw the shapes on wax paper for the butterfly cupcakes. To make the swirls in the wings, you just drag toothpick through the chocolate before it cools.  Then stick them on your favorite cupcake recipe and embellish with your favorite frosting! You can do a lot of fun things with those chocolate candy discs – basically you can draw any shapes to customize your cupcakes!

For the fish bowl cupcakes, I just used goldfish for the fishy, fruit rollups for the seaweed, frosting for the bubbles and chopped walnuts for the sand! To get the smooth blue frosting, I just added blue food coloring to regular ole’ store-bought tub frosting, and then microwaved it until it was liquid-y.  Then I dipped the tops of the cupcakes in and let the frosting harden.

Hopefully I can pull out my Hello, Cupcake book again this summer and make something fun 🙂

June 21, 2009

A Chocolate Raspberry Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day!  I get to celebrate both my great dads – my dad and my step-dad! I actually celebrated with my step-dad yesterday, and had very short notice to whip something up for dessert.  Luckily, I organize all my gazillion recipes that I find on various blogs on with a bunch of different tags, and I had a perfect recipe tagged under “Tom” (my step-dad) from The Noshery. Raspberry Crumb Brownie Bars. It was perfect for my short time schedule since it used a *gasp* boxed brownie mix.

Now for a little secret.  Yes, I love baking from scratch.  But honestly, in my book, nothing really touches Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix.  Or Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix with chocolate frosting from one of those plastic tubs. There, I said it.  Go ahead and judge, but I stick by those good ole mixes…

Anyways, this recipe came together very easily.  It didn’t get RAVE reviews – not everyone loved the crust, and personally, I don’t like raspberry and chocolate, but they did get eaten up… so I guess they weren’t TOO bad!  I did have to use a little bit of whole wheat flour in the crust since I ran out of regular… I think that compromised the taste and texture a bit.  Also, my “crumble” was not crumble, but dough.  After pressed the dough into the pan for the crust, I added more flour to make it crumblier to sprinkle on top, but it didn’t work very well. I think I just softened my butter too much – if I were to make them again I might try cutting in cold butter rather than creaming it. I also think I could have made the crust even thinner so I had more crumble left over for the top.  I did get requests to up the amount of coconut I sprinkled on top 🙂

Raspberry Crumb Brownie Bars
Adapted from The Noshery

1 box of brownie mix ( you will need eggs, oil & water)
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 seedless red raspberry jam
1/4 cup of coconut

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees.  Line 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper.

Prepare brownie mixture according to the instructions on the box.

Cream 2 sticks of butter, add flower, brown sugar and salt.  Beat at a low speed until combined and crumbly.

Flour your hands and work the crumb mixture with your fingers, pinching it, until you get good size crumbles.

Take 1 3/4 cups of crumbles and place in prepared pan.  Press the crumbles, shaping to the bottom of the pan.

Cook the crumb crust for 10 minutes.

Heat a pot at a medium-high heat, add seedless raspberry jam, stir constantly until it melts and you have a nice sauce, set aside.

Take crust from the oven and pour in brownie mixture.  Sprinkle remaining crumbles over brownie mixture, drizzle raspberry sauce over crumbles and top of with coconut.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until done.

June 18, 2009

You put the lime in the coconut….

My step-dad can’t eat chocolate for health reasons, and he was heading off to get surgery in Rochester this weekend.  I wanted to send him and my mom off with some sort of treat, but without tempting him with the forbidden cocoa!

Enter Oatmeal Cookies with Lime, Coconut, and White Chocolate.  I found this recipe on Two Peads and Their Pod, and knew it would be perfect, since Tom LOVES lime and coconut!

These were pretty easy to whip up, and yummy too.  They weren’t my all time favorite cookie (that would require the presence of chocolate…), but it was definitely something fun and different to make.  All of the flavors came through really well.  I would be interested to try it again with a few changes.  One, I didn’t have my little lime zester tool, so I used a peeler and had to chop it up, making the bits of lime a bit coarser than I would have liked.  Same goes for the coconut, I would like to see how it would be with finer shreds of coconut.  I also found the dough a little stiff – and I had to put it in the fridge for a bit because I had something in the oven, so I wouldn’t do that again – I would have liked a softer, flatter cookie I think. I did add extra white chocolate, and would stick by that decision 🙂

Oatmeal Cookies with Lime, Coconut, and White Chocolate

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

½ c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

1 egg

1 tsp. Vanilla

Zest of 1-2 limes (I used 2)

A couple drops of fresh lime juice

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Baking powder

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1 1/4 c. flour

1 1/4 c. oats

About 3/4 cup coconut

About 1 cup white chocolate chunks (or chips) **I put in an extra 1/4 cup at least!

Cream the butter with the sugars until soft and creamy, using a mixer. Add in egg and vanilla. Add in lime zest and juice. Mix briefly. In a separate bowl combine the salt, baking powder, soda, flour. Add to wet ingredients. Mix until blended. Add your oats and then your coconut and chocolate. Drop by rounded spoonfuls on to an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes!