Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oven Baked Chicken

So, here's a new idea - baked chicken! It's not my usual type of baked thing, but it will do. I made chicken breasts into breaded chicken fingers tonight. I used the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. The red and white checked one. The children used to love this but tonight they weren't very hungry (silly me for giving them a snack this afternoon). They complained a bit, but in the end, ate most of it.
Corn Flaked Chicken Fingers
Cut two or three chicken breasts into "fingers"
Dip them in a combination of:
1 egg (beaten)
3 Tbsp. milk

Coat fingers with a combination of:
3 cups corn flakes - crushed to make 1 cup crumbs
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. melted butter

Bake the coated fingers on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

English Oatmeal Bread p. 180

I was so proud of myself today - I found time to bake after lunch. And it was a loaf that needed the oats to soak for 2 hours! The recipe says it makes 2 loaves or 2 dozen buns, so I made one big loaf and the rest into 4 buns. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day here so I raised everything in my nice, sunny window. It was a beautiful loaf - it rose up tall, smooth and even.  Everything looked perfect, and as I was sliding the loaf into the oven, I got a case of the clumsies and bumped it against the oven frame. POOF! Out went all the air I just rose into it for the last hour or so. Sigh. Since the oven was hot already, I didn't want to wait for it to rise again and I baked it anyway. But really, It would have been better if I had waited.
The buns turned out beautifully. I tried one. Could have used more salt (but I didn't use the full amount the recipe called for since we're trying to limit salt here). It tasted a bit like my morning oatmeal, but it was good. The children loved them and kept coming back for more. It was soft and had a slightly stickier texture than my "usual" bread. I did forget the step of the egg wash and the oatmeal coating over the loaf.  Oops! So my loaf looks ugly but tastes fine. I will make this recipe again. The amounts called for worked out beautifully. I know I could also make this with left-over cooked oatmeal instead of soaked oats. I will try that someday!

My sunken, ugly loaf and plain, nice buns. Yum.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Red River Pumpernickel Bread p. 196

As promised, I got up bright and early this morning and started the oven to make the Red River Cereal bread. I was surprised at how nearly black it is.

So, how does it taste? Well, no surprise, it tastes like Red River Cereal! I'm not a big fan. Of the cereal or the bread. The bread is very dense and dark, and it was easy to mix but slow to bake (took 2 3/4 hours in the oven). I thought the cereal had softened up nicely. I had let it sit overnight. The bread turned out moist, but firm and dense.

Given that it is packed full of grains and seeds, my children would not even taste it. I'm not surprised. I'll have to make chocolate bread next! Ha ha ha.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Whole-Wheat Orange Bread p. 106

This turned out to be a lovely loaf of bread. I was skeptical at first - 3 oranges worth of orange zest, a full cup of honey, all boiled down to a syrup. I had never done such a thing before.

I had to guess at what he meant by "boil...until the syrup is thick". Thick like honey? Thick like toothpaste? I Don't know! But I boiled it down a while, until it was like maple syrup and made the loaf and I love the loaf! I almost forgot the nuts at the very last step. That would have been a big disappointment, because, in my opinion, the nuts are the very best part. Or maybe the orange flavour, or maybe the crunchy crust, or maybe that it is a quick bread.

Now, the author claims it gets better with age and to eat it any time during the first week. Well, if it really does get better with age, I will have eaten it all before tomorrow night! That combination of sweet honey and orange zest, along with the nuts that almost make it into a fruitcake had me coming back for seconds and thirds. But then again, I love fruit cake! I was very excited that the loaf did not taste like 100% Whole Wheat bread. The fruit hid that fact quite well and I was very pleased.

Come back tomorrow, for tonight I am soaking some Red River Cereal to make a loaf of "Red River Pumpernickel Bread".

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What gives me energy?

Today, one of my friends said, "please blog about how you get all that energy to do everything. ;)" Since I didn't bake anything today (I was out at the birthday party), answering that question seems like a good topic.

I guess the thing that gives me energy is making things. I love to make things. It excites me when I can see an idea and re-create it.

I get energy from being happy. My children can smile and make me happy. I can make something cute and that makes me happy.

I get energy from making more with less. I love to be frugal. It was taught to me all my life from my parents. I also try to reduce, re-use and recycle. I made these loot bags for the party today only from things I already had in the house. It feels like I spent nothing on them (but time), and that makes me proud. Technically, I spent money on a granola bar for each bag and a couple of wrapped chocolates, but that was it! The bag was made from the children's drawing paper, stamped with stars and decorated with left-over scrapbooking paper.

The smiling bowling pin magnets were my old clothespins, the magnets - left-over from another craft project, the white and black craft foam - bought at the dollar store last year when I needed a piece for my fondant flower making class and googly eyes, which I have in my stash since they are just so darn cute and for $1 you can get enough for years of crafts!

There was a "popper" inside each bag. Each popper was a toilet paper tube, wrapped in one of the children's finger paintings and tied with curly ribbon that has been in the family for generations and inside were 2 balloons and a Kinder surprise toy from my collection of cute stuff I've kept. Finally, each bag got two of the Bowling Pin Cookies in sandwich baggies tied with curly ribbon.

I get energy from surprising people or impressing them, as I did today with the Two Tier Two Layer Chocolate Birthday Cake . When someone said, "It looks like something from"Cake Boss", that gives me a huge boost of energy. That makes it so worthwhile.

I get energy from going for walks, or jumping on our trampoline with the children or doing something active.

I get energy from knowing I have done a good job at something. I always try my best. (Conversely, I do feel pretty down on myself when something turns out badly.)

Surprisingly, as I am thinking about all this, I don't think of myself as getting energy from chocolate and sugar. I love them. But when I eat too much, I really just start to feel blah.

Finally, the best thing that gives me energy is to be loved by family and friends!

If you have any more questions, just drop a comment. I'll be happy to answer!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Two Tier, Two Layer Chocolate Birthday Cake, part 3

Remember me? The two tier, two layer Chocolate Birthday cake? Of course you do. I've been eager to get back to this one and finish it. Today was the day! I had a lot of fun! Every step of this cake was an "I love you" to my daughter.
When I last showed you this cake, the four pieces were still separate and the filling was made. I filled them that day and they've been tightly wrapped in the freezer until today. I made up a batch of buttercream to, as the Cake Boss would say "dirty ice them."

Here is what they looked like after being "dirty iced". The smaller one is directly on a tinfoil covered cardboard that is just its size. I set it on a cookie tin so I could pick it up without mussing the icing. I stuck it to the cardboard with a small blob of piping gel. I wanted to make sure my top layer doesn't squish my bottom layer, so I inserted 5 separators (I cut 2 bamboo skewers to size and pushed them in.)

This was just to show you... then I pushed the spacers in all the way. The dents around the top were made by a plate the size of the smaller cake, so I could be sure the picks would be within the edges of the upper cake.

Next, I used my handy dandy Wilton's Easy Roll mat and rolled the green to size for the smaller cake. Love the round markings - you can get the fondant the perfect size the first time! Then you just invert the whole thing over the cake and smooth it down. This hunk of fondant was, I realized too late, a little small for my cake and I had to do some stretching, which left it a bit bumpy around the edges, but I will cover that with the decorations. I did the pink the same way and then carefully set the green cake on the pink one. So far, so good. 

Funny, I didn't mean to leave anything but the cake in this picture, but it is a clear picture of what tools are essential to the process: offset spatula (on the left) to smooth buttercream and fillings (I LOVE that tool!), white smoothing tool, to ensure a smooth fondant layer, the shortening wrapper - use a dab of shortening to prevent sticking to the fondant and finally, a pizza cutter - to trim the fondant nice and neat around the bottom of the cake.

"Hey, it's starting to come together", I thought, as I added all those bowling pins and balls. I stuck those on with a bit of piping gel. The black details are tinted piping gel. I rolled the green and pink fondant in the ziplocks into long strands. Using the circle markings on the mat, I made them long enough to fit around the larger of the two cakes. Then I cut them into bits with the pizza cutter (but not on my precious mat!) All the bits were the same size so I could make them into even little balls to trim the cake. Remember how "every step of this cake was an 'I love you' to my daughter"? Well, let me tell you, there were a lot of "I love you's" when it came to rolling the 92 balls I made and applied to the cake! 

And there you have it! Took all afternoon and into making supper time, but it was fun and it looks just like I wanted it to. I take no credit for the idea, by the way, it was on the internet at, but the execution was all me!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grandmother's Southern Biscuits p. 497

I wanted to make something to go with supper and something that would serve a few hungry preschoolers as a morning snack, so I decided to make biscuits. These were Grandmother's Southern Biscuits from the book.
I had made them a couple of years ago with the comment "plus a little" beside the "2 cups all-purpose flour" line. Well, this time, the "little" was a 1/2 cup! And they were still a rather sticky mess. But I pressed them together into a large square on my baking sheet, cut them apart into 2" squares with a big knife and baked them just like that. (Yes, I really made square biscuits! It's such a timesaver, and then you don't have to re-roll the left-overs from cut circles.)  It looked a bit messy on the pan, but they came out really lovely, soft and very tender. Some kids had 3! I kept eating more. They were so yummy, fresh out of the oven, just in time for dinner.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Oh Henry Squares

This was another delicious square from page 42 of the Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares book. The hardest part of this recipe was lining the 9"x9" pan with graham crackers. 7 needed trimming and you had to do it twice; once for the bottom crust and a second layer to cover the chocolate and nut filling. Here's how it looked after the second layer of crackers:
I let this set up in the fridge while I prepared the icing for the top. It was a lot like my chocolate fudge icing and went on remarkably easily.

The squares turned out beautifully. They were delicious. They were even better the second day, when the crackers softened more and soaked up the chocolate flavors from the other layers. If you don't like nuts, you could probably make these without nuts. I liked them, but my youngest doesn't like nuts and just ate the icing off these squares and refused to eat the part with the nuts. The squares were soft and yet they stayed together quite well. My husband remarked, "Why haven't you made these before?" I don't know, but I will be making them again for sure!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

War Bread p. 207

This bread is called war bread because it has rolled oats, cornmeal and whole wheat flour in it, to make the more scarce white flour "go farther". I guess I did even better because I used a full cup less white flour than the recipe. That is getting to be the norm though.
The bread felt very solid as I was kneading it, and it turned into a dense loaf. I personally don't call these large loaves, but that's what they are supposed to be. The family all enjoyed this bread just fine. I thought they wouldn't like the cornmeal in it, but it hid quite well. All in all, I liked this bread. I would make it again and maybe let it rise a little longer the first time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Simple Easter Cake

Welcome to the first day of Spring! We had lovely sunshine here and it got me thinking of Springs past. Which made me remember the cake I made for Easter one year. Since I didn't bake anything other than pizza today, I thought I would share that cake.
It was probably a chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling, but it may have been a carrot cake, I don't remember exactly.

Either way, I covered it in yellow buttercream and did a basket-weave around the sides to simulate a woven basket. Then, using a #4 piping tip, I made grass from yellow buttercream. I fashioned a little chick from fondant and put him in an open plastic egg.

I "filled" the rest of the basket with empty plastic eggs. I could have filled the eggs and used them as party favors and that would have been more fun, but it would look the same.  I made the handle purely from fondant, but I really should have added gum paste to make it harden and hold up. As a result, the handle drooped and fell onto the plastic eggs before I presented the cake. No big deal; it wasn't meant to be eaten anyway. I finished the cake with "Happy Easter" piped in green on the foil base.

I haven't forgotten the promised birthday cake either. I'm thinking of scheduling the party for this weekend so you might see it by then! For now, Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cereal Slice (Brown sugar fudge-like squares)

This is another of the Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares. It is on page 15 and called "Cereal Slice" and the author admits it should be called something different because "it doesn't taste anything like breakfast." I think perhaps they should be called "Brown Sugar Fudge Squares" since the topping looks and tastes like brown sugar fudge.
They were delicious!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins p. 525

Today I wanted to Rise and Bake, so I made these muffins from the bread book and they turned out a little messy but a lot tasty!
Fresh out of the oven, they were oozing with blueberry goodness! I made 36 mini and 3 regular muffins. The author claims 36 mini or 18 regular. He must make bigger muffins.

Then the recipe calls to dip them in melted butter and then sugar. Amazing! A bit of extra work, but it made them so wonderful. They had a bit of lemon zest to bring out the blueberry flavor and you could taste blueberry and sugar in every delicious bite. I thought they were fabulous!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Daisy Cake

Today I went to work, baking up a storm. After making a dozen oatmeal chocolate chip muffins, a dozen and a half apple oatmeal muffins and two and a half dozen blueberry bran muffins I realized I had nothing new to show you! So, I looked through my old pictures again and found the birthday cake I made last March. I'll call it my "Happy Daisy Cake".
It was a chocolate cake (do you see a trend yet?), with chocolate fudge filling. I covered it in butter cream icing and a layer of yellow fondant. I made this cake as the final cake in my Wilton's fondant and gum paste flower making class, which is where I easily learned how to make the daisies and the leaves and the swags. They were all made from fondant/gum paste mix. My daughter loved her cake! I have a tool to cut the ribbon, but a pizza cutter does the job in a pinch!

Tomorrow I'm going away to an un-wired house for a few days so I'll see you when I get back!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Church Bread

It turns out that nobody will eat my hearty white bread so today I made a batch of my usual bread. I mixed it before church, let it rise once for a short period and then let it rise in the pans in my sunny window while I went to church with the four children. My husband was feeling too sick to attend church, so I asked him to bake it if he was feeling up to it and he did. So I'm calling it church bread! He followed my instructions perfectly and it turned out that way too!

Tomorrow starts March Break for real. I might get back to baking or try some new recipes with the children. We'll see and let you know how it goes!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mom's Birthday Cake

Our house is still in the recovery stages of the flu, so nobody is eating much and I haven't baked a thing in days. It is weird. But I had to show you something nice so I looked up some past projects and wanted to share this one with you. It is a carrot cake I made for my mother in November. I covered it in a cream cheese icing and all these lovely flowers. She loved it - because it was home-made, a carrot cake and it had cream cheese icing.
I made the flowers and leaves out of fondant and a bit of gum paste. I cut them with fondant cutters (plastic cookie cutters). I shaped the petals with a fondant shaping tool. I got the tool and cutters in my Wilton's Fondant and Gum Paste Flowers course supplies. Cookie cutters and a knitting needle would do the same trick. Here's some more detail of the cake:

I thought I had tinted the cream cheese icing for the trim and writing a pretty blue, but I was not happy with it once it was on the cake. By then it was late and I left it. My mother loves me anyway! I noticed that the flowers went soft again once they were on the cake. I think they soaked up the fat from the icing beneath them. It all tasted delicious anyway so it was all good. This time, I did the writing free-hand.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

This has to be my favorite pie - Lemon Meringue. I used to hate meringue and so when I made pie just for myself, I would beat the egg whites in with the filling and that was just fine with me. In the years since, my taste buds have mellowed, I married and had 4 children. Now I make pie with meringue on top.
Some of the children love it, some like it, everyone eats it. Some leave the crust, others, the meringue. I finish what they don't and we're all happy! I got the recipe from the lemon juice, Realemon. For an even better pie, make this with fresh squeezed lemon juice in place of the Realemon and add a tsp of lemon zest. Awesome lemon flavor!

Realemon Meringue Pie
1             9 inch baked pastry shell
1 1/3 cup sugar
6 Tbsp     cornstarch
1/2 cup    Realemon juice
1 1/2 cup boiling water
4              eggs, separated
2 Tbsp     butter
1/4 tsp     cream of tartar
1/3 cup    sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In heavy saucepan, combine 1 1/3 cups sugar and cornstarch. Add Realemon.
In a small bowl, beat egg yolks. Add to Realemon mixture.
Gradually add water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. (About 8-10 minutes).
Remove from heat. Add butter. Stir until melted. Pour into prepared pastry shell.
In small mixer bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Spread on top of pie, sealing carefully to edge of shell. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Chill before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

Enjoy a delicious pie every time!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Two Tier, Two Layer Chocolate Birthday Cake, part 2

Today's Thursday! I was supposed to present the big, beautiful cake, right? Well, we all got sick, sick, sick. So I canceled the party for this week and we'll see what next week will bring. I will finish the cake still. It is in the freezer. I did feel well enough to finish the decorations for it. Here they are
I feel sad that I couldn't even present my little girl with her cake on her birthday, but we are too sick to eat it today anyway. I'm also sorry to any loyal readers out there that there was no post yesterday - I had nothing to tell you other than I was laying down sick all day. I'm feeling much better now and tomorrow is shaping up to be a normal Friday! See you then!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Icing

This is the only recipe I use to fill a chocolate cake! It also came from the NESTLE cookbook from a friend. It is so chocolatey and almost like fudge. Delicious! The original recipe is called "Creamy Brownie Frosting" and is intended to make 1 cup of frosting, to cover, you guessed it, brownies!
I've increased the recipe and used it on brownies, between 2 sandwich cookies, between layers of cake or to ice cupcakes. (Of course, I also snitch bits of it plain when no-one is looking!) Here's my variations of the recipes and what I've done with it:

Creamy Brownie Frosting
3 Tbsp.          1/2 cup   3/4 cup   butter, softened
3 Tbsp.          1/2 cup   3/4 cup   Hershey's Cocoa powder
1 Tbsp.    2 1/2 Tbsp.   1/4 cup   light corn syrup or honey
1/2 tsp.       1/2 Tbsp.       2 tsp.   vanilla
1 cup               3 cups     4 cups   sifted icing sugar
1-2 Tbsp.   3-6 Tbsp. 4-8 Tbsp.  milk

In a small or medium mixer bowl, beat butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla until well blended. Add powdered (icing) sugar and milk; beat to spreading consistency. (Helen's note: only add the milk one Tablespoon at a time so the icing doesn't become too thin.)

The black recipe covered a 9 x 13 pan of brownies nicely.
The blue recipe filled a 9" round cake with a pleasing layer.
The red recipe was enough to fill and cover an 8" two layer cake.
In the photo, I used double the blue recipe to make too much to fill my 6" and 9" layer cakes for the birthday cake I'm working on. There was a 1/2 cup left over, to my family's delight!

Enjoy frosting your everything! It doesn't get much better than this!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hearty White Bread p. 64

My bread stash was dangerously low today, so I looked up a new recipe. Came up with all the ingredients for this Hearty White Bread. It contains eggs, wheat germ, dry milk powder and potato flakes. (I only had potato flour but figured I'd try that). I've never thought about what potato flakes might be so if you know, you can let me know!

In any event, I mixed up a double batch of this recipe since "one large or two small loaves" would only get me to Wednesday and I'm a busy woman this week! Fast Forward past the usual problem of too much flour and not enough wet ingredients and the rest of the instructions were a breeze. Unbaked, this loaf felt as soft as those wondrous rolls I keep talking about. (Must be the potato). In the end, I kneaded in 5 3/4 cups of flour instead of the "approximately 7 cups" the recipe called for!  I raised the bread in the pans, covered with a greased sack paper. I must have pulled the middle one off too quickly, because that loaf sank a bit. You be the judge:

The other two turned out nicely, but streaky. I think it was the buttered covers. No matter, they still look pretty.
So I cut up the ugly one and took a bite. The crumbs are noticeably coarser than my usual bread. The inside has a nice yellow color from the eggs. The wheat germ was what had me saying, "hmmm... what's that flavor? I don't really like it." So, I slapped on some peanut butter and kept on munching anyway! Nobody else even tried any since everyone was not interested in bread after having today's muffins: blueberry bran muffins . I should have known better!

Now, I am off to make more decorations for that cake I froze two days ago.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolate Cake Recipe

I promised I'd post the cake recipe, so that's why there's 2 posts today. I got this one from a NESTLE cookbook that a friend copied for me. Here is the standard recipe meant for two 9" round pans:

Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup water
1/3 cup NESTLE Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

In large mixer bowl, beat sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add flour, water, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Beat until blended and smooth. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 28 to 33 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks. Fill and frost with favorite frosting. Makes 10-12 servings.

(My daughter requested I add chocolate chips to the filling, but I decided to add them to the cake instead. It worked out very well. I tasted the tops of the cake when I levelled it. Yummy!)

Bowling Pin Cookies

Well, I fell in love! How about you?

I was even more creative than usual today! I started the day making paper bags from a roll of paper out of the craft room. The paper bags will be loot bags for the bowling birthday party. So I stamped them with stars and added a black explosion shape with a white bowling pin pasted on. They looked so good, that I decided to make bowling pin cookies for the "loot". So I made a batch of sugar cookies. Then I found an old, split, metal cookie cutter that was shaped like a mushroom. I reshaped it into a bowling pin, and voila!
I was only planning on making one bowling pin per child (8) because I thought I would have to cut them all by hand. After my miraculous creation of a cutter, I went crazy and did up the whole batch! 4 1/2 dozen, I think. Then I iced them with royal icing. (Found out it is hard to ice a cookie while taking the picture of doing so!)

Anyway, there are the white bowling pins... well, not quite, eh?

So, I tinted some piping gel red and started giving these guys their stripes.
They looked great! But not really fun.  So I added smiles and eyes to 10 of them, to decorate the place settings at the party.

The cookie recipe I used was originally in the Sesame Street's "Big Bird's Book of things to Do" (or something like that) that I got when I was 7. The recipe was called "Cookie Monster's Cookie Dough". Of course, what ELSE would Sesame Street call it? So, here it is:

Cookie Monster's Cookie Dough
Blend in a mixing bowl:
     3/4 cups butter, softened
     1 cup sugar
Beat in:
     2 eggs
     1 tsp. vanilla
     2 1/2 cups flour
     1 tsp. baking powder
     1 tsp. salt
Mix all together. Chill for 1 hour. Roll out chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick (or slightly less) and cut into shapes. Place cookies on cookie sheet so there is 3/4 inch between cookies. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes. (My little bowling pins took exactly 6 minutes!)

Now, go eat some COOOOOO-kies! Gobble, gobble, gobble, yum, yum, yummmm.

or, if you're like me, you want to ice them. I covered 2/3 of my bowling pins with this recipe:

Royal Icing
1 egg white
pinch of salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Mix all ingredients together and use immediately or cover closely and refrigerate. This icing hardens quickly.

That is also the recipe I use as cement for my gingerbread houses. Not only does it harden quickly, it does get quite hard. If it is too stiff, you can add a wee bit of lemon juice. Have fun creating!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Two Tier, Two Layer Chocolate Birthday Cake, part 1

So, I found about 200 ideas that I looked at on the web last night. In the process, I learned that a 9 x 13 cake has been done SOOOO many times, that it is boring. I also learned that MMF is MarshMallow Fondant. Now you know. I already like fondant, and am willing to try new, cheaper things, so when I am out of fondant, I will make some MMF. Back to my cake story - I liked one that had two round tiers. So I doubled my usual chocolate cake recipe that fills two 9" round pans and filled two 8" and two 9" pans. I am out of time tonight, so I'll give you the recipe tomorrow.
While these cooled, I made a chocolate fudge icing to be a thick surprise between the layers.

Then I levelled the cakes. I used a long, serrated edged knife as seen here and just "sawed" off the tops. I saved those tops for week-day dessert. I looked at the cuts from eye level to see if they looked level. I trimmed a bit and then filled the layers and stacked them. I cut down the 8" cake to give it straight sides and make it a more noticeably different size of 6 1/2".
The party is on Thursday so I covered the two tiers separately and froze them. Earlier today, I cut out 17 three inch high bowling pin shapes from a mix of white fondant and gum paste. That was fun. They will go around the cake. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bite-Size Chocolate Banana Chip Muffins

Are you one of the lucky ones to get the "Milk" calendar every year? We got one in 2009, and I found this recipe that I clipped from it, just when I needed a little something for a bake sale at the school. I had all the ingredients - especially two very ripe bananas so I went for it.
I packed them 2 to a small ziplock baggie, added a pretty label to the bag and my children said they went quick, at $1 per bag. I kept enough at home to try them and they were good. Soft. Chocolately with just a hint of banana. Here's the recipe:

Bite-Size Chocolate Banana Chip Muffins
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1 cup Milk
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2)
1/4  cup butter, melted
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter non stick miniature muffin pans or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together sugar and cocoa; whisk in egg, Milk, bananas and melted butter. Pour over dry ingredients and sprinkle with chocolate chips; stir just until moistened.
3. Spoon into prepared muffin pans, mounding as necessary to fill 24 deep or 36 shallow cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

I would have to say I like my usual banana chocolate chip muffins banana chocolate chip muffins  better - I guess it is the oats that add some texture. But if you prefer smooth, these are the ones for you! Enjoy.

Now, I must go do some research - I have to come up with a "bowling" theme cake for my soon to be 9 year old! I was thinking a 9 x 13 slab cake, and use fondant covered candles as bowling pins and a rice krispie treat covered in fondant for a ball, with a "9" on it. Do you have any ideas?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nuts and raisins Quick Bread

A while ago, we found a recipe in the newspaper for a whole wheat, nut filled Quick bread. I made it a couple of times now, and tonight I felt like having it again. It has tasted different all three times! That's because the main source of nuts has changed - the first time I used boxed granola and muslix cereal mixed together, the second time, I used walnuts and pecans and tonight I used a combination of peanuts, raisins and home-made granola. I still liked the first one best, but tonight's was almost as good. I ate it for dessert. And, oddly enough, my biggest raisin-hater had two pieces! I guess he liked the nuts.
This is a very hearty loaf. One piece is so full of nuts, raisins and whole wheat flour that you'll fill up in no time! A far cry from the delicate and soft yeast rolls I told you about a month ago.
Here's the recipe from the paper:

Hearty Nut Quick Bread
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cups rolled oats
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup cold butter
1 cup nut&seed trail mix
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup craisins
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together first 7 ingredients.
  • Cut in cold butter until it looks like coarse meal.
  • Chop the nuts and seeds to chop the larger nuts.
  • Add nuts, seeds & fruit to the mixture. Mix.
  • In a small bowl, whisk egg into buttermilk.
  • Pour wet into dry and mix until almost combined. Then tip onto a floured surface and knead it all together. Split into 2 balls.
  • Place each ball on a baking sheet. Cut large, deep "X" in each.
  • Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes. (Or longer, in my experience. Check that a toothpick comes out dry).
If you're looking for something hearty, satisfying and nutty, give this one a try. It is easy and well worth trying! Crunch, Crunch!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I tell the family I am going to make cookies, these are the ones I always mean. They are at least as healthy as a Quaker (peanut-free) Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola bar, but more satisfying and definately more delicious - at least fresh out of the oven!

When I make some, I make a double batch since they always go quickly. That means 8 dozen cookies! I use my bread making bowl - it's the only one big enough! Today I worked the dough so quickly that I broke a wooden spoon! I've also broken a Tupperware Silicone spatula mixing these before, so maybe I should invest in a good, solid, metal mixing spoon. Don't be alarmed, however. The dough may be stiff to mix (although it is probably due to the volume), but the cookies turn out soft and chewy and delicious if they're not overbaked. Do you want the recipe? Read on. I'll list the original recipe for 4 dozen cookies.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Beat together:
     1 cup softened butter
     1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
     2 eggs
     2 tsp. vanilla

Add in:
     3/4 cups white flour
     3/4 cups whole wheat flour
     2 cups rolled oats
     1 tsp. baking soda
     1/4 tsp. salt
     1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Mix until combined. Drop by tablespoon-fulls onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a spoon or your palm. Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes. (I personally set my convection oven to 360 and bake for 7 minutes). If you want soft cookies, remove from oven when the centre of the cookies are still light and puffy but the edges have begun to brown. Let stand for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and they will finish baking. Move them to a wire rack to cool completely. If you prefer crunchy cookies, just bake them until they are golden brown all over and remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kaiser Rolls p. 493

Welcome to March! Here, it came in more like a lion than a lamb. Snow, rain, wind. Not so nice. So I needed to make something nice inside the house. What started off as a frustrating recipe turned into a wonderful kaiser for my lunch! And then another! This was another recipe where the liquid measure was either too little, or the flour too much. I had another thick, hard lump at the beginning. Then I added another 1/4 cup water and it worked itself out. I used the amount of flour called for and here is the result:
Lovely, tasty, light and crunchy kaiser rolls! They were not too hard to make. The shaping was supposed to be the tricky part, but I think they turned out ok.

The children ate theirs with peanut butter and jam and I had one with cheese. They made a beautiful lunch for everyone! Tonight, I plan to have them for supper with leftover meat, cheese, peppers and onions. Yum yum.