Sunday, May 29, 2011

Looks like Summer!

Hello Rise and Bake friends!
As you may have noticed, I have not been posting every day recently. That is because it has suddenly become summer around here and I've been outside, enjoying it!
I did make an apple crisp for dessert tonight and I did make a pizza for supper last night, but I haven't opened a cook book in a while. I've been out gardening and jumping on the trampoline with my children and going for walks. When it gets cold, or if I'm inspired to spend the day in the kitchen, I'll be sure to tell you all about it, but in the meantime, get out there and enjoy the summer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bulk Barn Buys

Hello, Dear friends,
I have no baking accomplishments lately for I went away this weekend. While I was gone, I got to amuse myself with a trip to Bulk Barn. I had a fun time, and bought myself a whole selection of toys to make gum paste and gum paste flowers with. The Gum Paste Flower Cutter set is my favorite new set of tools.
I also bought a new stand for the cake that will decorate the party for my parents' 40th Wedding Anniversary.

Last night I mixed up a batch of Marshmallow Fondant and it looks just like the regular fondant I buy, except it was made with marshmallows, icing sugar, water and shortening. (Instead of the multitude of unspeakable chemicles in the store-made stuff.) Melt the marshmallows and then knead in icing sugar and shortening and that's it! It took a while, but it turned out nicely. I started the batch of gum paste last night and I finished it tonight. (It needs 8 hours to rest in between). I tried out some of my new flower presses. They are fun. I made a few simple flowers in white and left them to dry. That's it for today!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Carrot Date muffins

I wanted to make muffins this morning, but there was a lack of bananas in my house, so I found a recipe I hadn't made before: Date Nut Carrot Muffins. I wanted to take them to my play group to share so I couldn't add nuts. I just made them without nuts. The recipe is from the "Company's Coming Mostly Muffins" page 46.
They are lovely muffins, but I like a bit of crunch or squish in my muffins so I would have preferred them with nuts or raisins. The dates disappeared almost entirely! They made the carrot muffins even softer than usual. Certainly a make-again!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lunar Strawberry/Rhubarb Cake

So, you have a rhubarb plant and you don't know what to make with it? Try this sinfully delicious cake! You can make it with fresh or frozen rhubarb or strawberries or any combination of the two. I've tried many combinations and it is always great.
Lunar Rhubarb/Strawberry Cake Recipe

Mix:      1/2 cup softened butter
              1 cup white sugar
Beat in:  1 egg
              1 tsp. vanilla
In a second bowl combine:
               2 cups flour
               1 tsp. baking soda
               1/2 tsp. salt
Add the dry ingredients to the first mixture alternately with:
               1 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tbsp lemon juice and enough milk to make 1 cup)
Now toss 2 1/2 cups of fruit (diced rhubarb or cut strawberries or a combination of both) in:
                1/2 cup sugar
                1 Tbsp. flour
Mix the fruit gently into the batter. Spoon into a greased 9"x13" cake pan.

Use a pastry blender to combine:
                2 tsp cinnamon
                1/2 cup brown sugar
                1/4 cup butter
Scatter this with your fingertips over cake.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm and watch it disappear!

By the way, I think this came from the newspaper. The recipe explained that it is called "Lunar" cake because of the craters that the pieces of rhubarb form in it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sesame Chicken and Oven Baked Rice Pilaf

I don't know if I should show you the picture of my Sesame Chicken (From "Company's Coming Chicken, Etc." page 49.) or not. It was not my greatest achievement, that's for sure. I made the mistake of baking chicken from partly frozen. In order to have it properly cooked, it got dried out. I found the recipe also had too many cracker crumbs and not enough sesame seeds. Next time, I will try this with drumsticks or thighs and it should be great. The coating held up really well and had a good flavor and looked fine, but I used breasts only and they all were rather dry and not exciting at all. Oh, I may as well show it to you...
So, there it is. A little dark and it doesn't even look like chicken.

The rice pilaf recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, version 12. It is
Rice Pilaf
3/4 cup rice
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (I used 1 1/2 cups boiling water and 2 packets of chicken OXO)
Measure all into a 1 quart casserole, cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. (I used brown rice and baked it for 50 minutes. I should have increased the water a little.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fondant Roses and Tulips

After doing some looking, I found out that the 40th Wedding Anniversary is the "Ruby" anniversary. I need to make a cake for my parents' 40th Anniversary in July, so I started looking for ideas. A lot of the cakes had red roses. I have red fondant, so I watched the tutorial online for making gum paste or fondant roses and I made this one!
That was really quite a lot easier than the buttercream roses I've made in the past. My two little children wanted to make one too, so we made 3 more, then ran out of the red fondant/gum paste I had. The 3 year old did her best, but I had to smooth out her petals and form the flower.

How to make one flower:
  • Roll 6 or 7 marble-sized balls of fondant/gum paste
  • Working with one ball at a time, (keeping the others covered in Saran), squish the ball to 1/8" all around, then pinch around the top and side edges until those edges are paper thin and the bottom still thicker.
  • The petal should be round, and about 1 1/2" in diameter.
  • Roll the first one up like a tortilla. The thinned edge should be on one end, the fatter edge, on the other end.
  • Form the next petal like the first.
  • Wrap the second petal around the first, overlapping the edges of the two petals, keeping the thinned edges lined up at the top and the thick edges at the bottom of the flower. 
  • Repeat the last two steps until you have completed the flower. You can fan out the petals as you wish for a more opened or closed flower. 
That was so easy that I decided to try making tulips. My mom likes tulips. They are much harder to make look like the real thing. I tried using the same petal technique as the rose, but that one turned out looking like a trillium. So then I chose to make the petals by rolling out the fondant/gum paste and then cutting it with a round cutter and thinning the edges to make it look oval (with a rolling pin). I used a ball as the centre and wrapped 6 petals around it. When I pinched the tips of the petals, they finally started to look like the tulips I have outside my window.

I already know how to make daisies and carnations, so I think I need to figure out lilies next!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Communion Cheesecake

I came up with this idea how to decorate the First Communion Cheesecake:
It helped that I reviewed my past cakes. I once did a baptism cake with white and brown chocolate making a "collar" around the cheesecake that said Congratulations. I had no white chocolate today but I did have fondant and gum paste and the result is just as nice! Rolled fondant with piped brown chocolate message and the zig-zags are piped and cooled chocolate. The recipe is from my favorite cheesecake recipe book called "125 Best Cheesecake Recipes" by George Geary. Off to the communion I go!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Simple Lego Birthday Cake

This was Jonas's birthday cake today. How simple - a 9 x 13" single layer chocolate cake, decorated in white buttercream icing and piped dots as a border. Place a few key Lego figures on and it was done!
He's into the Lego police and robbers these days so that's what he wanted on his cake. It was fun and so simple!

We had the party and I did make the communion cheesecake. I'll show you that one tomorrow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cross Shaped Communion Cake

On Sunday it will be time for my son to make his first Communion. I will be making a cheesecake for him. I am still thinking of ideas of how to decorate it. If you have any, let me know.

I made a cake for my daughter for her first communion last year and it was a simple cake, cut into a cross shape. I made it from three 9"x9" cakes, cut and stacked to look like a cross. It became a two layer cake. I used a double batch of my old chocolate cake recipe. Then I crumb coated it in buttercream, coated the top in buttercream and the sides in yellow fondant.

Here is another version I did for a friend of mine a couple of years ago:

How to form three 9x9 cakes into a large, 2 layer cross:
  1. cut all three cakes in half down the middle (giving six 9" x 4.5" rectangles)
  2. cut two pieces in half again (giving four pieces 4.5" square and four pieces 9" x 4.5") 
  3. arrange the pieces to form the bottom layer of a cross using half the pieces. Fill with your favorite filling and arrange the other pieces to make the top layer, cross over as many seams as you can, to help hold the cake together.
  4. Decorate the cake. Using little pink star drop flowers with green leaves at each corner is another decorating idea that was beautiful. Here is a primitive drawing of the assembly steps:
Best wishes to all first Communicants out there!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Police Men cookies

Did you know that when you try to tint royal icing black, using Wilton paste food dye, it looks more like purple? Well, it does. So my police men for the Police/Lego themed birthday party look a little purple. I made the good old "Cookie Monster Cookies" and "Royal icing" to decorate these little gingerbread shaped guys.
I know that some of them look more like garbage men or sailors or something else, but I tried. Their hats are fondant and gum paste mixed together and molded into shape. Very time consuming, especially the hats and the ties. That was my fun for the day!

Monday, May 9, 2011

An afternoon of Baking

Now that Mother's Day is out of the way, it is time for me to focus on this coming weekend. I have one son having a birthday party on Saturday and one with his first Communion on Sunday. Thankfully, birthday boy wants a 9 x 13 chocolate cake, covered in white icing and not fondant and actual Lego pieces on it. What could be easier?

Here's how my counter looked a while ago:
On the far left, are the sugar cookies shaped like gingerbread men. I will be putting fondant police hats on them and piping black royal icing to make them wear suits. I have little white flower sprinkles that I hope might look like police badges if placed correctly. These guys will be loot in loot bags for the birthday party. Birthday boy wants Lego police car and police mini figs on the cake, so it goes with that.

Centre stage is the Chocolate Orange Drops (squares) that I've made before and the simple Brownies that I've also made before. I'm arranging them together to be treats to bring to the communion reception at the church on Sunday. I'm plating them to look like a cross:

I came up with this idea all on my own. I hope people see it as a cross and not just some hodge-podge of squares squished together!

On the right is the 9 x 13 chocolate cake for the birthday party. I interrupted icing that to blog! I made all this stuff after lunch and before supper today. What you can't see in the picture are the 8 dozen chocolate chip cookies I also made. I would have made the cheesecake for the Communion reception at our house today as well, but I was short one brick of cream cheese and some sour cream, so I'll make it fresh after the birthday party on Saturday! Wow. Sorry there are no new recipes tonight, but I must go finish icing that birthday cake.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Today!

I didn't bake today because it was Mother's Day. I left that up to the husband and the children. :)
I got breakfast in bed, husband made pizza for lunch, which we shared with my sister and he made chicken kebobs for supper.

I did dip strawberries in chocolate for lunch dessert and suggested banana splits for supper dessert. So the day was lovely! He's still cleaning up!

take care and hope you had a Happy Mother's Day.

p.s. I even got the new oven mitts I was hoping for - and a lovely new matching apron. I'll be stylin' in the kitchen now!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Val's Date Bread p. 441

If you like banana bread with walnuts, you must try this one! It was sweet, sticky and delicious! It was packed with nuts and dates and the crust was perfectly crunchy. It was awesome. Dates and walnuts were the only things in it that are not always in my pantry anyway. I might try to healthy it up a bit next time (although it may not be as delicious then). I think it would still be fine with a little less sugar and even more dates and some whole wheat flour. It's worth a try.

Look at how packed with nuts and dates that is! It's beautiful. The recipe says to make two small loaves, but I only have large loaf pans, so I made one large loaf and 8 muffins. I baked the muffins for 30 minutes, instead of 50 for the loaf, at 300 in my convection oven. They came out perfectly. Note that you do need to soak the dates for 20 minutes ahead of time, so work that into your schedule.  All in all, I was very pleased with this loaf.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I started making the edible arrangement by stuffing a box with some styrofoam. It was a pain to clean up those little white balls off the knife, so don't use the knife you want to cut the fruit with! All that aside, I sliced up the pineapple first. The cookie cutters cut through the core easily, but they mashed through the softer parts of the pineapple a bit. I used kitchen shears to tidy up the hearts and flowers. I used bamboo skewers to hold the pineapple pieces.
Next, I washed and lined up the grapes and strawberries. I had 42 good strawberries from two pounds. By the end, I wished I had more.
I melted bakers semisweet chocolate and put it in a juice glass, and dipped about half of the strawberries. They sure look yummy! These berries were all nicely shaped.

I put the lettuce in a bowl I had made from pottery. The terra cotta pot (background of above photo) did not look big enough once I had all the fruit out. The bowl I used fit the head of lettuce perfectly! I toothpicked in some of the parsley. In retrospect, kale would have worked better, since it is a much larger leaf, and it would fill in the gaps much better. I cut the canteloupe in half and used a melon baller to make the centres of the flowers.

When inserting the fruit, I cut most of the sticks almost in half and I started at the bottom, with the larger items - the flowers.

I used a Pampered Chef corrugated knife to slice up the rest of the melon into wedges. I hadn't planned to use it, but there were a few too many grape sticks and not enough strawberries to fill in all the gaps and the melon worked in nicely. I'm pleased with the results. You can still see some of the sticks, but Mom won't mind!

Some of the melon wedges got cut in half to look nice sticking out at the bottom.

Here's more of a top-down view.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy HumpDay!

So, here it is Wednesday and I have nothing to show you! Oh no! How can that be? Yesterday I rose and baked 10 loaves of my usual bread before 11am. Today I baked those yummy Oatmeal Apple Muffins that everyone likes. Tomorrow I shall put together an edible bouquet for my Mom, who I will be visiting on Friday. If all goes well, it shall look something like this:
Of course, I stole this image from the wonderfully inspiring site. I bought the fruit today and got a beige terra-cotta flower pot and a little windmill/watering can thingy from the dollar store to make it all. I found a "how to" video at this site: Looked pretty easy and I am very excited to do it. I even bought the exact cookie cutter shape for the pineapple flowers today! The video says to use a head of lettuce as the base to hold everything and to cover the lettuce in kale. Well, I bought fresh parsley instead of kale because it was cheaper and the leftovers will be more useful in my house and it will look about the same. I got the supplies for it, including the fruit for about $20. I'm looking forward to creating it. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Tonight's supper offering was lasagne. It must have been good - the four children and I polished off this 9 x 11" pan of it!

I started with the sauce. I used a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens 12th edition, but modified it a bit.

My sauce was:
1 lb of hamburger, fried with
1 minced onion
drain that and then add:
1/2 tsp. Italian spice
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 can mushroom soup
1 bottle of pasta sauce (I used Ragu with mushrooms)
simmer over low heat, stirring occassionally while preparing the rest of the lasagne

Boil 9 lasagne noodles for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine:
1 cup of lasagne style cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg

Grate 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Assemble the lasagne:
light layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the 9 x 13" pan
3 noodles
1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture
1/3 of the remaining meat sauce
3 noodles
1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture
1/3 of the remaining meat sauce
3 noodles
remaining meat sauce
grated mozzarella

bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.
p.s. The meat sauce recipe, which we discovered by accident was designed to go over spaghetti. The original version of it used a can of tomato soup where I have changed it to a bottle of sauce. With the two cans of soup, it is a wonderful sauce that I highly recommend over pasta and sprinkled with finely grated cheddar cheese. Consider adding garlic to either of these recipes. I'm sure it would be a great addition.