Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Baby Olivia

Profile shot of her. She yawned a great big yawn, and sucked like she was nursing...and I got to see it!
This is a 4D picture of her face...she is smiling in the first placenta is on the side of her. Isn't technology amazing? She even looks like she is getting some chubby cheeks!

Okay, so this is supposed to be all about baking...but not for a min. Can I just express how truly blessed and thankful I am. I was able to see my sweet baby again to day. I am so grateful for the place I am right now...I woke up this morning and ran 4 1/2 miles (at a pretty good pace) 30 and 1/2 weeks pregnant...and then got to see my beautiful little girl! She is so wonderful....she swallowed, and smiled, and is so absolutely perfect. I thought a little mention of her is okay...because she pretty much occupies most of my thoughts every waking min. I am so anxious to meet her and to hold her, and to kiss her little neck...change her diapers, pat her back and gaze at her for hours. It is amazing really. God is so good to us. I feel so blessed and honored to be able to carry this little spirit for 9 (long) months. To feel her move and to dream of her life...and to have such a divine purpose. I am grateful beyond measure...I love her.

Yeah! This years Christmas Cookies

I was so happy that I actually got around to making these. I thought that I would probably not fit any cookies for myself in this year...however, I received the annual call for a sugar cookie class from a friend and said yes....I know, I know, I create most (if not all) of the chaos in my life. Anyway, I "needed" to make some example cookies to take to the class...(which by the way after the first 5 min. really doesn't need me at all.) But it is amazing the time and energy I put into making the example cookies. I really liked some of the new designs I did this year. Many of them I copied "ish" from ones I have seen online, with my own little twist put into it. These were also made from the No-Fail Sugar Cookie Dough...the sturdier one that holds the design a little better. They were iced in a basic Royal Icing. I can't decide on my favorite...but I think it's the snowman on the round cookie. Isn't light blue a fantastic color?

What do these things have in common?

So what does an Ipod, a Goat, Chicken and Rooster, Gorgia Bulldogs, and AC/DC have in common? They are apparently some favorite things. I have a great friend that wanted to make some of her friends birthdays special...and so I did cookies in their favorite things. I hope these ladies know how lucky they are to work with my friend. I think she is one of the most terrific people I have ever met. So thoughtful and kind and generous.

I bagged the cookies in their respective sets and tied with a ribbon. I used a sturdier dough than I typically do because I wanted them to hold their shape. The dough is still very yummy...just not puffy and soft.

Calculator Cake

Last night I made a cake for a friend that is a math teacher. It was a few of her fellow math teachers birthday's so she ordered a cake. She is the most thoughtful person ever. I made a scientific calculator...the first request was a cake combining an ipod, goats and chickens, ac/dc, and Georgia Bulldogs... all of their favorite things....Hummm that would have been tricky. We decided on a math theme instead. Because she wanted to make them each feel special we did sugar cookies also. The cake was a Chocolate Fudge Cake with a cheesecake mousse filling. It was iced mainly in butter-cream with fondant accents.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gingerbread houses

Okay it's that time of year again...gingerbread houses! Years ago when I lived near my sisters and mom, we always got together the day after Thanksgiving to make our annual gingerbread houses. Well sadly I moved away...but I have kept the tradition going. This years house I must say is not my all-time favorite. Every year I say I am going to make some huge gorgeous house....and well life happens and so I think I will do that next year :) I do love the yard on my house this year. I flooded the cardboard base with Royal Icing and then added little white sprinkle and snowflakes. We had a great time and I am so happy to make a new house every year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


It's that time of year...I have began the endless process of making the gingerbread for gingerbread houses. So far I have only made one batch, and let daughter #2 have her very best friend over to make houses on Saturday. They did a terrific job and the gingerbread turned out wonderful and it also made the house smell absolutely incredible. This led me to my last minute decision to dress up my bundt cake a little with some snowflake cookies. Usually I would make Chocolate Sugar Dough because it makes a beautiful snowflake with the contrast of colors...however with baby in the belly... and having been working out and baking in the kitchen for 6 hours already...I opted to use the gingerbread dough instead. This turned out to be a great idea. I made the snowflakes and then as soon as they were cooled I dipped the backs of them in dark chocolate...I then decorated the front with Royal Icing and sanding sugar. They turned out pretty...and when I finally snuck a bite at 10 pm last night I realized that with the chocolate on the back they tasted SO SO good! I added them to my Bundt cake, and then also made some very big snowflake cookies in the same manner and packaged them for part of a hostess gift. This may become a new holiday favorite of mine...and I think I now know what we will be giving as teachers gifts this year!

Holiday Baking

We had a few parties to attend this past weekend, and I needed to bring some treats. I chose to make a Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake for one of them. The recipe is quite simple and turns out great every time. To make it look nice and add an extra sass I drizzled the cake with a fine white and a fine dark chocolate. I also added crushed peppermint sprinkles. The snowflake cookies were awesome.... and in the post to come. Here is the recipe for the cake:

Chocolate Pepermint Bundt Cake

1 pkg chocolate cake mix (I used choc. fudge)

1 pkg. instant pudding mix (i used choco. this time)

1 1/4 cups water

4 egg whites

1/2 cup butter melted

1/4 tsp. peppermint extract

Mix all ingredients adding eggs one at a time last. Beat on high for 2 min. Spread in greased Bundt pan and bake at 350 for 35to 40 min.

Let cool for 10 min. and reverse onto plate. Immediately poke holes into cake and drizzle with your favorite caramel topping (I like Richardson's because it is thick). Them drizzle with a combination of white and dark chocolate and crushed peppermint. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pumpkin Pie

Look at this gorgeous pie! Guess what....daughter # 2 made it entirely by herself! She read the recipe, made the filling, rolled out and shapes, and cookie-cuttered the crust pieces then baked the whole thing. She even got it out of the oven by herself. Not bad for being 8 years old I would say. She loves to bake and will soon pass me up.

Can you imagine what kind-of baker she will be at 29? (okay 29ish).

Ahh! Were did I go?

These are the Mint Cookie Topped Brownies, daughter number two said, "Mom if you have any extras...don't be nice like you usually do and tell people that they can take them home...Bring them home to ME!"

I can not believe it has actually been almost a month since I have blogged....does this mean I haven't baked? What do you think.....With a bountiful Thanksgiving in the recent past , I am sad to say that I did not take any pictures of our feast. I did however make Paula Dean's "Pumpkin Gooey Bars", and while that night I thought they were heavenly.....Pregnancy induced throwing up all night made me not touch them again. I actually threw them out today...But alas do not discourage you from making them....unless you are big bellied also.

Today I have made a HUGE pan of Brownies for a church party. I topped the entire pan with a whipped chocolate cream cheese frosting....and then spread a criminal amount of rich chocolate ganache over the top of that. With half of the pan I then sprinkled salty toffee bits and milk chocolate, and the other half I chopped up the most decedent mint chocolate cookies you can get your hands on (thanks Costco...if you see them BUY THEM!) I also made a small batch of Cream Cheese Brownies just to add a little bit more to the tray.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Zoo Animals

This number two was to be placed standing up in the middle of the cake before the party...I wish I could have got a picture of it complete...but because fondant does not always like butter-cream and refrigeration I did not want it to get "gooey" overnight.

Okay so this was a great cake to make...time consuming...but great. All the animals are made out of fondant. You can't imagine how long it can take you to make the perfect sized ear, or eye ball...its ridiculous really. Although it could have something to do with the fact that it was 1:00 AM? I loved the combination of the hot pink and the Zebra stripes. I really do think it was much cuter in person than my poor pictures could ever capture. The cake itself was "funfetti white" with a butter-cream filling...she is only turning two, you can not expect anything to exotic.
As far as the animals...I think the Hippo turned out to be my favorite...or maybe the turtle...or the Giraffe? I hope the sweet 2 year old liked it! I know that daughter #2 has decided that this will be her birthday cake next year...minus the animals because, " come on mom, I'm turning 9!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cake Truffles

Some people call these "cake balls". To me that just sounds so UN-Appetizing, so I have named mine "Cake Truffles". If you have endless supplies of cake and butter-cream icing on hand at all times, and many occasions to bring treats...these are just the thing for you. For these I used a combination of vanilla butter cake and chocolate fudge, for the icing I used my butter-cream and then dipped them in a better chocolate, Milk Chocolate Giuttard melting chips that I purchased at the cake supply store. The recipe (if you can call it that,) is very simple...

Cake any flavor, baked and then crumbled

frosting a flavor to compliment your cake...cream cheese works with everything

chocolate to dip in.

Simply combine cake and frosting, adding only enough frosting to form a moist but not "gooey" consistency. Roll tablespoon size into a ball and place in freezer for about 10 min. Take frozen cake balls out of freezer and dip in your favorite chocolate and let set. The master of these creations can be found at she does some amazing designs, and even appeared on the Martha show with them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cookies, Cookies, Everywhere!

The next batch of sugar cookies. This time I did some Zoo Animals for a little girls 2nd birthday. I was really happy doing the elephants, (and wish I had a better picture...but took it at midnight) I also did a hippo...not pictured, the girls said it looked like a hippo...however it was blue and white polka dot. The red shoe cookies are for a church function, I attached a saying about "there's no place like home....." I am giving them out as a favor for the night.


I have been working with a shoe theme in mind as I thought of a church theme we are doing, "The Worth of a "Sole" is Great in the Sight of God" for refreshment and such I of course had to play around. I made the high heel shoe's out of husband watched the election all night, I crafted high heels...not a bad trade-off.They are really very easy and I think they would be so cute on a shoe box cake. This cake however...not so cute. In the essence of time the cake was a Costco cake frosted white....I then proceeded to "dress it up" a bit to fit our theme for the night. I would have loved to make a shoe box cake, but with child # 3's surgery, pregnancy, cake balls, zoo animal cookies, and Wizard of Oz shoe cookies, peanut butter cookies (okay these were not mandatory) and homework all in the same night...I opted for Costco reved-up.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Reptile Birthdays!

The back view of the desert cake
The poor turtle looks scared to death...there is a snake hanging from the cactus behind him, and a Lizard about to eat his eggs... maybe that's why?

The front of the Desert Cake. You can hardly see my other turtle...bottom right corner, he was much happier and cuter!

The back of the Jungle cake.

Close-up view of the alligator and a frog on a lily pad.

You can hardly see the fish in the water...these are daughter #1's favorite part.

These are the cakes that I did for twin boys turning 5 years old. They were having a "Reptile" birthday party. The cakes were so much fun to make...I actually was surprised when I ended up liking the desert cake better than the jungle....I wasn't sure how a desert cake would turn out...but had a great time creating it. The desert cake was butter yellow cake with butter-cream filling, it was covered in butter-cream and then in graham cracker crumbs and sanding sugar ( to look like sand). All decorations were edible...some royal icing and the rest fondant.

The Jungle cake was chocolate fudge with cookies and cream filling, it was also covered in butter-cream with all edible decorations. Now I am working on more sugar cookies, this time "Red Ruby Heels"..think, "click, click, there is no place like home!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Christmas Cookies

Too early for Christmas Cookies you say? When I taught the Halloween cookies this week (see post below) I wanted to show some things you can do for other Holidays also. I can not wait to pull out my over 50 Christmas cutters and start playing!

Thanksgiving and Fall Cookies

I also did some new fall designs this year...see post below. I am going to do these again in November, and play with them a little more.

Halloween Cookies!

Here are the Halloween Cookies decorated...the cookies that I was baking on Sunday in the midst of the baking frenzy. I did a class on the royal icing technique that I use, and had to make a bunch of examples. I absolutely LOVE to decorate when there is no creative restraint! I was sitting up at 1 am detailing cookies and husband kept saying "Women...go to bed!" but I of course had to reply..."Hello! This is the fun part of all of this....the outlet, I do not want to sleep of all things!" I made the regular sugar cookie recipe, but then I also made "Martha's Chocolate Sugar Cookie Dough" not even ask Martha who. I will post the recipe because it is worth making. It makes a dough that does not spread or rise because of the lack of leavening product...the cookies are moist and deeply chocolate with a hint of Cinnamon. One note do not chill the dough as suggested unless you have biceps to is impossible to work with and not necessary. This I think makes a great contrast with the bright icing colors.

Martha's Chocolate Sugar Cookies:

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon. Set mixture aside.
Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Divide dough in half; wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets; refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp but not darkened. Cool on wire racks; decorate as desired