Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My First Catered Party and A Spooktacular Halloween Cake

Last week I catered my first party for 40 people. My friend Holly asked if I would make a cake and heavy hors d'oeuvres for her 40th birthday extravaganza. I immediately said "yes!" then began brainstorming recipes and  ideas. Holly said she wanted a Halloween themed chocolate cake and sliders. I pretty much had carte blanche with the menu and decorating and I had so much fun. Here's what I made. 

I made 1). Ham wrapped Asparagus Spears with Boursin Cheese 2). Cream Cheese with Red Pepper Jelly and Spicy Saltine Crackers 3). Sausage, Garlic and Mushroom Pizza Puffs with Herb Red Sauce 4). Pork Tenderloin Medallions on Hawaiian Rolls served with Pesto Mayo.

I also made 7 Layer Dip with a Sour Cream Spiderweb served with corn chips and Sweet and Spicy Smoky Meatballs (that I forgot to take a picture of). And birthday cake!

My friend Holly doesn't actually turn 40 until December but she wanted to celebrate early with a "Happy Hollyween" party. I wanted to play up the "over the hill" theme so I did a graveyard scene and dug an early grave for her. I used Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies and a black edible marker for the tombstones. I used Peeps Marshmallow ghosts, Brach's pumpkins and edible chocolate rocks for decorating. I used melted dark chocolate and Wilton leaf sprinkles to make the tree. I used this Chocolate Cake Recipe, this Vanilla Buttercream Recipe and Chocolate Ganache to make the 2 layer 12-inch cake. It was a success! 

Spicy Saltine Crackers
(recipe given to me by my aunt Melinda)

Printer Friendly Version

  • 1 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon dill weed
  • 3 Tablespoons dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1 box (4 sleeves) Unsalted tops Saltine crackers
In a measuring cup, combine the oil and seasonings. Mix well.

Place the crackers into a 2 gallon Ziploc bag. Pour the seasoned oil over the crackers and shake vigorously until well coated. Let crackers soak up the seasonings for at least one hour or overnight. Leave them in the sealed bag until ready to serve.

Hope you all have a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our Last Vintage Cake

For the past year, The Cake Slice Bakers and I have been baking from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. I missed a baking a few of the recipes when I was writing the cookbook, but the ones I did bake were quite tasty. This is a beautiful book and full of great recipes. If you're a cake fiend like I am, I would recommend you check this book out. 

Next month, we'll be baking from a new cake book so this month, rather than voting on and baking a specific cake, we had the choice to bake any cake we wanted from this book. I narrowed it down to two cakes but eventually decided on Texas Sheetcake because it's my hubby's favorite. The other cake I wanted to make was the Kentucky Bourbon cake. I still intend to make it, I just got busy and ran out of time. My friend Maranda from Jolts & Jollies made it and shared it on her blog if you're interested in the recipe. It looks delicious! 

It's not very often that Hayden falls asleep with Daddy on the couch- he hasn't done that since he was an infant. How sweet is this though? Those curls, my goodness!

This cake was very simple to put together and feeds a crowd. That's the beauty of sheet cakes. I divided the batter between to pans and took some to my mother-in-law. The cake was very moist although it was a little crumbly, in my opinion. Perhaps I could have baked it a couple minutes less or added a tad more oil or an extra egg next time??? There are so many recipes to try though, so I don't feel the need to remake this one. If you make it, I hope you'll let me know how you like it!

Texas Sheetcake from Vintage Cakes

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed premium unsweetened natural cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup  lightly packed premium unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 15 by 10 by 2-inch baking pan.

To make the cake, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa. Add the oil and water and bring to a rolling boil for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed. Pour the warm cocoa mixture into the sifted ingredients and whisk until just combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, stir the buttermilk mixture into the batter. Pour the batter into the greased pan and place in the center of the oven. 

Bake until the top is firm and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs, 32 to 35 minutes.

While the cake is in the oven, make the frosting: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the mixture to a rolling boil; boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time while whisking continuously. 

Immediately after the cake comes out of the oven, pour the frosting over the hot cake and sprinkle with the nuts. Try not to jiggle the cake before it sets or you'll leave waves in the frosting. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Well wrapped and stored at room temperature, this cake keeps for up to 5 days.

Want a bite?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes & The Pillsbury Giveaway Winner

Yesterday, October 15th, was Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day. It's a day to remember all the babies that left this world too soon. I lit a candle for my boys and set out a few things that remind me of them. In my cookbook, I shared my story about how I got into blogging, and my struggle with becoming a mom to a live baby. I questioned whether or not to add this to the book because I know many people are uncomfortable with death and some will think that it's irrelevant to baking. However, for me, this is my reality and I never would have started this blog or have written a cookbook if it weren't for the loss of my sons. Losing them made me see things differently, made me love deeper, and opened my life up to so many more opportunities. 

To stabilize the cones, line a cupcake pan with foil, cut a small hole in the center of each indention and place the cone snugly in the center. Don't make the hole too big or the cones will wobble. 
I made these ice cream cone cupcakes for my first born Sam's 6th angel birthday. I've always wanted to make cupcakes in ice cream cones for him and this was finally the year. I had some leftover vanilla buttercream that was tinted a lovely shade of sky blue from a previous project, so I used that to top them. The chocolate malted cupcakes come from Martha's Cupcakes. They were good but the malt flavor was very mild. A malted frosting would be nice on these, maybe even a few malted milk balls, if you're a fan of those. I opted for colorful sprinkles because I imagine any 6 year old boy of mine would love that. 

I love you Sam. Thinking of you and Jack, today and always.

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes 
from Martha's Cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups malted milk powder
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, the baking soda and salt together.  Whisk the milk and malt powder in a measuring cup.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, flour mixture and milk mixture until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice.  Beat in the sour cream and vanilla, mixing just until combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans, filling each well about half full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pans.  Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 28 cupcakes.

NOTE: I made 1/3 batch of this cupcake recipe and yielded 10 ice cream cone cupcakes. To make the ice cream cone cupcakes, fill cones 2/3 full and bake til a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. 

The winner of the Pillsbury Celebrate More Fall Celebration Kit and $100 gift card is....

Commenter #4 Lisa Ghenne from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary. This is what she said she loves about Fall...

"EVERYTHING! I can't wait for autumn to arrive. Sweaters, cozy socks, pumpkins, apples, chilly nights by the fire pit, soups, stews, casseroles! I love it all! Thanks for the chance at this sweet prize! Pun intended!"

Congratulations Lisa! Please email me with your address to claim your prize!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Coffee, Donuts and an Awesome Pillsbury Giveaway! (CLOSED)

So...I made donuts! For the first time ever. I made these just the other day, and I still haven't gotten over how good they were. Just ask my mom and sister and Hayden how good they were. We ate one, then two and found ourselves reaching for a third, but stopped ourselves. Will power be darned. I've always wanted to make donuts but I'm not a fan of deep frying. Baked donuts are the perfect option and they're somewhat healthier, but I didn't have a donut pan. That's when my mom stepped in and saved the day. She surprised me with an electric Sunbeam donut maker on clearance from Target for $15. Yay! Thanks Momma!

Holy drippy glaze.....drool!

In my last post about Caramel Apple Fritter Cake, I mentioned that Pillsbury® sent me a few of their new Fall cake and cookie mixes. I couldn't wait to use the pumpkin mix but wasn't sure what to make, then it hit me- Pumpkin Donuts with Brown Butter Spice Glaze. I absolutely adore that combination of flavors, so much so that I shared a recipe for Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Glaze in my cookbook. Have you ordered your copy of Lick The Bowl Good yet? If you've never tried it before, make this glaze and pour it on something...anything, it is that good! Brown butter makes the world go round. mmm!

Stinky boy couldn't keep his fingers out of that glaze!

My sister is learning to bake and cook so she helped me whip these up. They were so simple and she did a great job. She also served as my hand model and helped me dip some of these bad boys in glaze. Thanks Sammy :-) As a thank you, I sent her and my mom home with some donuts and a few of the cake and cookie mixes that Pillsbury® sent me. My hope is that my sister will create something equally fantastic all on her own. How would you like to win all of these new Pillsbury® mixes for yourself? Scroll down to see how. 

Perfectly Pumpkin Donuts from Lick The Bowl Good

Pumpkin Donuts: 
  • 1- 15.25 oz. box Pillsbury Perfectly Pumpkin cake mix
  • 1- 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Brown Butter Glaze: 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

NOTE: I used an electric donut maker to make these. If you have one, preheat iron til hot. If baking them in an oven, follow the manufacturers instructions for baking. 

In a medium bowl, combine cake mix, pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Mix until fully incorporated. Spray your donut pan with non-stick spray. Spoon batter into mold or transfer the batter into a pastry bag and pipe the batter into the mold, being careful not to let the plastic piping bag touch the hot iron. Bake until cooked throughout. 

Allow donuts to cool on a wire rack. Once all the donuts are baked and cooled, make the glaze. 

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan until the butter becomes golden and fragrant. The butter solids will get dark, continue swirling being careful not to let it burn, about 5 minutes. 

Immediately pour the brown butter and all the brown bits into a small bowl. Add the cinnamon, and powdered sugar and whisk until it's smooth and lump free. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk until well incorporated.

Work quickly because this glaze sets up fast. Dip one half of the donut into the glaze, place on a rack and allow to set. 

Makes 24 donuts. 

Visit Pillsbury on and Pillsbury on Pinterest to learn more ideas about how you can "Celebrate More" with Pillsbury and their new Fall line. 

To win this "Celebrate More" Fall Celebration Starter Kit (a.k.a. All of these fabulous mixes!) and a $100 Visa or American Express gift card courtesy of Pillsbury®, simply leave me a comment on this post telling me what you love most about Fall. 

One entry per person. Open to U.S. residents only. 

*I was provided with product samples and compensation by Pillsbury®, though the opinions I express here are my own. ©/® The J.M. Smucker Company. Pillsbury is a trademark of The Pillsbury Company, LLC, used under license. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall, I Welcome You

A few months ago I was asked by Pillsbury® if I'd like to sample and review their new Spring/Summer flavors of Orange Creamsicle, Key Lime and Funfetti products. I wrote about them here and here, if you're interested. Well today, I'm enthusiastically sharing with you Pillsbury's new Fall line of Caramel Apple and Pumpkin cake and cookie mixes...and they are quite tasty! 

Vintage bakeware is the best!
Living in central Texas means that it feels like Summer for at least 8 months out of the year. It will more than likely be around 80 degrees until November and while it may not look or feel like Autumn outside, Fall is happening in my kitchen. When the season arrives, I like to start baking with apples and spices then I later progress to one of my favorite flavors, pumpkin!

My friend Ingrid from 3B's has made a cake with yellow cake mix called Cinnamon Roll Cake. This is a twist on that recipe using Pillsbury's Caramel Apple Premium Cake mix and frosting. I upped the apple flavor by adding cinnamon applesauce in place of some of the oil and used the caramel apple frosting to make the glaze. If Ingrid's cake tastes like a cinnamon roll, this tastes like a cinnamon apple fritter. The cake itself was very moist and apple-y (is that a word?) with a slightly crunchy caramelly sugar topping. The glaze is completely unnecessary, but it's so tasty you won't want to skip it. 

To learn more about these products, visit Pillsbury on Facebook, and Pillsbury on Pinterest

Thank you Pillsbury® for all these great new products and for having me be a Pillsbury blog Ambassador :-)

Caramel Apple Fritter Cake from Lick The Bowl Good 
loosely adapted from 3B's and Jolts &Jollies

  • 1- 15.25 oz. box Pillsbury Caramel Apple Premium Cake Mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon applesauce

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Caramel Apple Frosting
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch OR two 8x8-inch pans with non-stick baking spray with flour and set aside. 

In a large bowl combine the ingredients for the cake and mix until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside. 

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle evenly over the batter. Using a butter knife swirl the brown sugar mixture gently into the batter. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Once the cake is fully baked, place on a cooling rack and make the glaze. 

In a small bowl, whisk the frosting, milk and vanilla together until thin, free of lumps and is drizzle consistency. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cake and allow the cake to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. 

I was provided with product samples and compensation by Pillsbury, though the opinions I express here are my own. 

©/® The J.M. Smucker Company. Pillsbury is a trademark of The Pillsbury Company, LLC, used under license. 

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