Sunday, February 24, 2013

Construction Cake with "Construction Tape" inside

When my, then 2 year old, asked for a bulldozer cake for his 3rd birthday, I immediately thought of a 9x13 cake with sprinkles and a truck sitting on top.  Can we say BORING!?!  

I found this cake tutorial Fredellicios and decided to try it out.  While I love how the cake is decorated, my favorite (and most stressful part) was the cake itself.  I knew the theory behind what I was doing but it wasn't until I cut into the cake that I knew it had worked.  And now you're probably wondering what was so great about the inside of the cake, so let me show you ...

Construction Tape!!!
Seriously, didn't it just turn out so cute.  Sorry for all the crumbs but I quickly took the photos while party guests were waiting for their slices.

Construction Cake

  • 1 8" round White Cake, colored yellow
  • 1 8" round Chocolate Cake, colored black
  • 3 batches of Buttercream Frosting with Chocolate
  • Oreos, crushed
  • Candy Rocks
  • Small construction truck

I could type up all of these directions but Lauren, over at Fredellicious has done such a great photo tutorial, I thought I would just link to her site for this post.

This is the link for her Slanted Cake tutorial
and this is the link for her Construction Cake

Bottom Layer of my cake

Top layer of my cake

He absolutely loved his cake.

Yeah!!! The stripes worked

Buttercream Frosting

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2c (1 cube) butter, ROOM TEMPERATURE
  • 1 1/2c powdered sugar
  • 1t vanilla
  • 1-2T milk
  • 4oz Chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Cream the butter.

Add the powdered sugar, 1/2c at a time, mixing until it's fully incorporated before adding more.  It doesn't look like it will mix in right away, but just keep mixing and scraping the sides as needed, it will come together.

Once all the sugar is added, add the 1t vanilla (and the chocolate if you're using it), then mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

This frosting is pretty thick as is, I like to use it like this for piping cupcakes and decorations.  But, if I'm going to frost a cake, I will add some milk to get a better spreading consistency.  This frosting is also good on sugar cookies.

This recipe doesn't make a whole lot (about the same as a container from the store) but it is really easy to double or even triple of you need a lot.

Source: Fredellicious

White (almond) Cake

Here's the recipe for the white cake I used in my Construction Tape cake.  I colored mine yellow to match but without food coloring, you'll get a nice white cake.  Also, even though this is called "white cake", I think a better name for it would be called "Almond Cake".  The almond extract in it gives this recipe a really good flavor and I got plenty of complements on the taste, when I served it, but it's not the traditional flavor of a white cake.

White (almond) Cake

Makes 2 8" round cakes

  • 1c milk, room temperature
  • 3/4c egg whites (about 4), room temperature
  • 1 1/2t almond extract
  • 1 1/2t vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4c cake flour
  • 1/2c all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4c sugar
  • 4t baking powder
  • 1t salt
  • 12T (1 1/2 cubes) butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350'F and prepare 2 8" pans with spray and wax paper.

In a bowl, combine the milk, egg whites and extracts and whisk together with a fork.  Set aside.

Sift both flours together, add sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix together on low speed with a standing or hand mixer.

Add the butter a little bit at a time, and mix together until it's all moist crumbs.

Reserve 1/2c of the egg/milk mixture, and add the rest to the dry ingredients.

Mix on medium speed with a standing mixer, using a paddle for 1 1/2 minutes.

Scrape the sides of the bowl, then add the rest of the milk mixture, and mix to combine, for at least 30 seconds.

**If you are adding color, be sure to add it before you start baking**

Divide evenly into the 2 pans, and cook for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes sit in the pans for about 3 minutes, then invert them onto wire racks, remove the wax paper, then invert then again and let cool completely.

Source: Fredellicious

Chocolate Cake

Originally I was going to make one post that included 2 cake recipes,  2 frosting recipes and a cake decorating tutorial.  I decided that was probably a little too much to include in one post so I'm breaking each piece up individually.  Unfortunately, all my photos are from when a made one cake so you'll have with them and use your imagination, a little.  

This recipe is for the black stripe in the cake pictured above.  I used Hersey's Special Dark cocoa powder and black food coloring to get the cake so dark.  If you aren't trying to turn your cake black, you can use whichever cocoa powder you like the best.

Chocolate Cake

Makes 2 8" cakes

  • 1 1/3c flour
  • 1 2/3c sugar
  • 1/2c cocoa
  • 1 1/3t baking soda
  • 2/3t salt
  • 2/3c oil
  • 2/3c sour cream
  • 1c water
  • 4t vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2t vanilla
Preheat oven to 350'F and prepare your pans with cooking spray and wax paper.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk to combine.

Add the oil and the sour cream - this will be thick.

Gradually beat in the water.

Add vinegar and vanilla and blend.

Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide evenly into 2 prepared pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let sit for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack, remove the wax paper, and invert again onto a wire rack to let cool completely.

***Note - while this recipe tastes really good, it is a bit sticky.  I found that the best way to handle inverting it back-and-forth was to cover the wire rack (and my hands) with plastic wrap.  The cake won't stick to it and you'll have a lot less grief because the top of your cake won't be stuck to your hands.***

Source: Fredellicious

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lasagna Soup

I have a friend, Carrian, who creates wonderful recipes.  Her site has become my "go-to" site for dinners because everything I've made off of it has turned out wonderful.  You really should head on over to Sweet Basil and check out everything she has on there.  You won't be disappointed.  

I found this recipe on her site and had to try it. It turned out really good and all of my kids loved it.  It's so wonderful (and rare) when all 3 of my kids are happy with the dinner I make.  

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (32oz) box chicken broth
  • 2 (14,5oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1T brown sugar
  • 2T Italian Seasoning
  • 2T salt
  • 2c lasagna noodles, broken
  • 3/4c fresh parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • baguettes to serve with the soup

In a large pot, combine ground beef, onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Cook over med-high heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until meat is browned.  Drain well.

Stir in broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, and salt.  Bring to a boil over  medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add noodles and simmer until the noodles are tender.  Add parmesan cheese.

Pre heat broiler.  Ladle soup into oven safe bowls, top with mozzarella and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted.

Brush the baguette slices with olive oil and broil until the bread starts to brown.  Serve along side the soup.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mushroom Pasta Sauce

I have always enjoyed trying new foods and I am happy to try anything ONCE.  I'm happy to say, though, that this sauce is one that I will be trying again.  I was a little worried about putting dill into the sauce.  It didn't seem like it it would go with the other ingredients.  It ended up tasting really good and the dill gave it just enough flavor that it didn't taste like every other mushroom pasta sauce.

Mushroom Pasta Sauce

1/2lb mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2T olive oil
1/2c chicken stock
1 1/2c cream
2T chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parmesan cheese
12oz pasta, whatever kind you have on hand

Cook pasta per package directions.

Saute mushrooms, onions and garlic in olive oil until the mushrooms start to golden and the onion is soft.

Add chicken stock, cream and dill.

Let simmer for 5 minutes and then season with salt and pepper.

Put the cooked pasta into a serving bowl and add your mushroom sauce.  Mix and serve with shaved parmesan on top.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Baked Stuffed Chicken

The first time I ever tasted a Jalapeno Popper was back when I was in college.  We had just finished an orchestra performance and as per tradition, headed over to Applebee's for a late dinner/celebration.  One of the performers worked at Applebee's and told us that they had this great appetizer that wasn't even on the menu.  He talked the cook into making some for us to try, and I've been addicted ever since.  

So, of course the idea of pairing Jalapeno Poppers with any main dish sounds awesome to me, but these little chicken rolls really were awesome.  And I love that I can eat them and not feel guilty because they are relatively low fat and low calorie.  

 Servings: 4    Serving Size: 2 stuffed breasts    Calories: 371
Fat:  17.5g    Protein: 42.7g    Carbs:  11g    Fiber:  1.5g
Sugar:  0.6g     Sodium: 355.8mg (without salt)

  • 2 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 jalapenos, chopped (remove seeds for milder flavor)
  • 3oz "1/3 less fat" cream cheese, softened
  • 4oz reduced fat shredded cheedar jack cheese
  • 2T chopped scallions
  • 8 thin sliced chicken breast cutlets, 3oz each
  • 1/2c Italian seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 juicy limes, juice of
  • 1T olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil non-stick cooking spray
Season chicken with salt and pepper.   Preheat oven to 450'.  Lightly spray a baking dish wiht non-stick spray.

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, scallions, jalapenos and bacon crumbles in a medium bowl.

Lay the chicken cutlets on a working surface and spread 2T of the cream cheese mixture on each cutlet.  Loosely roll each one, secure the ends with toothpicks to prevent the cheese from oozing out.

Place breadcrumbs in a bowl.

In a second bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken in the lime-oil mixture, then in the breadcrumbs and place seam side down on a baking dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken.  When finished, lightly spray the top of the chicken with oil spray.

Bake for 22-25 minutes.  Serve immediately

On a side note, this filling also tastes wonderful as a cracker dip.  Yum!