Monday, October 29, 2012

Jack the Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin cake, or Jack o Lantern if you prefer.

Make 2 bundt cakes, I used two different flavors for a little variety in the cake. One chocolate and one spice.
Prepare 1 batch of Buttercream icing and tint orange.
Layer cakes with generous amount of frosting between and crumb coat the entire cake

Next make or buy orange fondant
Roll and slice in strips long enough to cover cakes, cut some pieces irregular, adjusting as you work on cake.

Move around filling in random widths creating an uneven pumpkin surface.

Smooth with fondant smoother, a little water, perfection isn't needed for this cake.
Tint a little fondant green for leaves and vines. Twist black licorice into a handle and stick into cake.

Fill the hole with candy

If you prefer to leave the Jack o lantern effect off your cake, your done...

or make or buy (buying is easier) black icing, You won't need much but getting a true black can be difficult. Pipe on eyes, nose, and mouth.

Ivy and Elephants

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My First Trip to Costco!


Yeah!! we have our first Costco in ND. Until now I had never even been in a Costco.
so...I kinda made my first trip a 3 day event.
First they had an open house, no membership required, look around try some samples etc. you just couldn't purchase anything. That was great for the first peek, and let me tell ya- they were NOT chinsy with the samples!
We ate lots....and didn't come close to trying everything!
 The next day I took my husband to look around, and we got our membership, he did not want a cart. I should have gotten a cart, after over an hour of meandering in the wrong shoes, he asked if I then wanted to buy anything- uhm yeah, tomorrow because I was not walking around the store again with sore feet.
 The next day- today I went shoppin'.
oh yeah.....

They had me at vanilla beans,

So until now, I have bought vanilla beans half this size for $3 a  piece, now here double the size, 10 of them for less than $12.  It's a beautiful thing.

 We just started making a batch of pomegranate cranberry wine, we bought a bottle of Pom juice about   half this size for $14 at the local grocery store, this 60 oz bottle???? $8!! I know!

A little Kirkland (their brand) cheese and some of the cutest pumpkin pasta-(my husband will not be interested)

Yummy Tzatziki sauce and olives with the pit still in them- my favorite way to eat olives

a ginormous pork loin and some mini beef wellington. Oh! I am so ready to cook!

a few veggies round out the groceries, I was a little sad because I wanted bananas and theirs were ripe, I like my nanners green, so I had to pass.

something to clean up after myself. 220 wipes for $8 great price!

I used my $10 sign up card credit and paid a total of $102. 10 vanilla beans and a smaller Pom juice alone would have been 45 bucks around here before.
They still were giving lots of samples, so I had a little lunch, stood around the Kuerig display waiting to try Nantucket blend, talked with a man from Bethlehem- We had a bit of a language barrier but we could speak of Christ and coffee and that was enough.

Yummy Yummy Yummy, this foodie loves Costco!
Do you have one? Have you been? What do you think?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Planning An Evening with Appetizers- mini foods and desserts

Appetizers for dinner!
 I usually do finger foods for parties, since it is my daughter's favorite way to eat, she would always say, "why don't you make these more often?" My son's biggest complaint was that I never made enough cheese balls for the family. Now that they are both out on their own it seemed a perfect way to have a get together- finger foods- and cheese balls.
We had a table full of bite size yummies and they went fast!

Mini pizzas- store bought
sweet chili meatballs
bacon wrapped water chestnuts
mini cheese balls and crackers
deviled eggs
California rolls
ham and cream cheese pinwheels
Finger cookies
Pudding shots
Pumpkin caramel fluff

When planning the layout, I usually get out a dish for each item. I move them around until I have the correct number and placement, then put scraps of paper naming the food item to go there, first so I remember to put everything out, and second if someone helps me, they know where it goes.

Finger Cookies

A day or two ahead you can make foods that store well.
Since it is close to Halloween- we celebrate Fall ourselves but a little ghoulish fun
was had with some shortbread finger cookies.

To make use a basic short bread or low rising cookie dough, shape into fingers, score knuckles with a knife and place a slivered almond for finger nail. Bake as directed, when cool dust with cocoa powder and use red piping gel for blood. Note- this still had too much rise and the fingers were flatter than I wanted so as soon as the came out of the oven I used a spatula to smoosh them inward (kind of like gently sculpting the cooked dough, then let them rest 5 min before removing them to a cooling rack.

Also made one day ahead
California Rolls
Deviled Eggs
Pinwheels- Spread seasoned cream cheese over tortillas, place ham or thin meats and roll up. Slice into bite size pieces. You can also add pickle slices and veggies.
Meatballs can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen until use, then warm up with any sauce.

The day of-
I made the desserts
Pudding shots
Pumpkin Caramel Fluff-
Mix 1 can pumpkin with 1 c cool whip, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and a half a jar of caramel ice cream topping. Place in single serve bowls, top with more cool whip and caramel and add a wafer cookie on top.

Prepare and bake
Bacon water chestnut wraps
Reheat or cook meatballs
Bake mini pizzas

pinwheels in center, chocolate pudding shooters and pumpkin caramel fluff

California rolls, deviled eggs

mini cheese balls

Meatballs with store bought sweet chili sauce, bacon wrapped water chestnuts

yes, 6 of us scarfed this down! a couple neighbors came by and managed to grab a few leftover scraps
Minis or appetizers are a little work with a big pay off- happy foodies!
If your having a party and using mini foods, I would plan on 8 - 10 apps per person and 2 mini desserts- minimum!!! that may seem like a lot but
1 egg, 2 bacon wraps, 2 meatballs, 2 pizzas, 2 cheese balls, 1 sushi roll - it adds up fast!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

In a 10 X 15 baking pan, lightly spray and place 4- 5 cups torn French bread pieces.  Be sure they are in even 1-2 inch squares.

In a bowl mix
7 eggs
2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
dash cloves
1/2 c canned pumpkin
 Mix well and pour over bread, push bread down so all pieces are soaked. Place in fridge 3 hours to overnight.
When ready to bake, sprinkle with 1/4 c brown sugar and 1/4 c chopped pecans. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
Serve warm with syrup.
 I am also placing this in the bread pudding category, it is sweet enough to serve as a dessert, I can just imagine drizzling it with some caramel and cool whip!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Quinoa (keen-wa) is a high protein gluten free grain, packed with nutrients and a sweet nutty flavor, it can be used as a savory or sweet. I love it with chicken and veggies or with brown sugar and cranberries! Versatile and healthy, if you haven't tried is the time.

Quinoa bars-
Cook Quinoa according to package directions. For a 9X13 pan you will need to cook approx 2 cups(measurement before cooking). You will have extra which will allow you to taste it on it's own and experiment a little.

Set cooked quinoa aside and let cool. In the photos I have used both the golden and red varieties mixed together.
Scoop out 5 cups
Mix in 7 large eggs, beaten
2/3 c low fat milk
1/3 c honey
1/3 c maple syrup
1 Tbs cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Line a 9X13 sheet with parchment paper, coat with cooking spray and spread mixture over. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes
When cooled place a dollop of peanut butter on each square.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger! Cake that is.

My son just turned 20 and had never eaten a cheeseburger....he had a thing since he was little about melted cheese on anything but pizza. So...we made a cheeseburger cake and of course- cheeseburgers. I am proud to say he has now eaten one!

For this cake I did the prep a day early since the cake is a good moist recipe, sealed all layers in wax paper until ready for use.
Complete recipe and tools list at bottom of post.

You will need 1 recipe of Bakery white cake- click HERE for recipe or use  or 2 boxes of white store brand cake mix if you like, bake in 2- 8 or 9 inch cake pans that are greased and floured according to recipe directions.
I used the Wilton 9 in contour pan for the top to give it a rounded look,
For the burger I made a box brownie mix in another 9 in pan. You can use a chocolate cake mix if you like.

For the cheese I made Home made Marshmallow fondant, recipe HERE. You may also purchase store bought.
for a hint on making your own fondant- if colored marshmallows are available I will use them in the hue I am looking for. Since cheese is kinda orangish I used half orange and half white, then added a few drops of yellow to soften the color.
marshmallow mix before adding powdered sugar

For lettuce leaves, roll spearmint candies in sugar to avoid sticking. When thin cut in half, set aside.

Hint before frosting cake place several small pieces of wax paper to catch crumbs and drips, then remove for clean surface around cake.

Prepare 1 batch of butter cream icing, see recipe HERE. Set a small amount aside to color red and /or yellow for ketchup and mustard.  Or buy store bought white and tint.
To get this color I advice going slow, mix a little in at a time, too much and you will be making more icing. I used a bit of copper, a bit of brown and a tish of yellow. How is that for exact! Probably as a guess ??? 1/4 tsp of brown, 1/8 tsp copper and less of yellow.....good luck!
   Frost the bottom layer and place lettuce leave around edge, you could also use dyed coconut for a shredded look.
Now place the burger part on top, place a small amount of icing in center to help hold the cheese. Roll out fondant and cut to the size of cake, let sides drip like melted cheese.

 Place another dollop of frosting and then top bun. Carefully ice top of bun and sprinkle a few Rice Krispes on top for sesame seed look. Pipe in ketchup. When you are done, your kitchen should look something like this....and it gets worse toward the sink!

My cake making helper- Brenna

My son and his girlfriend, my daughter and her fiance in background.

You will need:
Cake- 1 large recipe white cake or up to two box white cake mixes- make according to directions
           1 brownie mix- family size or 1 chocolate cake recipe
           1 batch buttercream icing, or two cans white icing
           1 batch fondant- orange
food coloring- brown, yellow, red, orange, copper (just a guideline)
Rice Krispies
Spearmint candies

3- 8 or 9 inch pans

decorating helps -optional
piping bag and tip
cake lifter
turn table

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