Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Pretty Cake for a Sweet Girl

Time for a 2nd birthday cake!  Two years have gone by so quickly.  I still remember seeing this little preemie for the first time.  Now a little person who wants to be in on everything!  

I started out with big ideas.  I was going to make a rainbow cake with lots of colorful layers. I looked at all the beautiful pictures on Pinterest and just had to make this cake. I finally found a natural plant based food color to use and got started. It was a disaster.  The cake tasted great but the colors were just so disappointing.  I actually have to say they were awful! Very dull and pale.  Not the bright colors I had seen on Pinterest.  There was no way I would use regular food coloring with the kids so on to plan #2.

I decided to just make a pretty cake.  I've done castles, trains, trucks and cupcakes but time for something that just fit her personality - sweet.
Vanilla Cake with vanilla frosting.  I love this recipe.  It's simple and tastes so good.  Four layers with a plain vanilla filling.  A little Shabby Chic Polka Dot Cake Banner made with washi tape from my Etsy Shop Well Dressed Cupcakes as a decoration and it was perfect.  Nella loved it!

Abby Cadabby & Elmo are her favorites so invitations were from CharlesAlexDesign on Etsy and also the Thank you notes.

A Happy Birthday Nella Banner from Well Dressed Cupcakes was perfect for the living room fireplace made with her favorite colors - purple & pink.

I made Abby & Elmo confetti for the table

and Gift Tags for the chocolate lollipops.



Nella had her special birthday girl hat and wore it the entire time! This adorable hat was made by PixieandPenelope on Etsy.
Birthday Hat

 It was her day and I'm pretty sure she had a wonderful time.  I know she liked the cake! 

Nella"s Vanilla Birthday Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of unsalted butter at room temp
2 cups sugar
5 eggs room temp
1 1/4 cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Line 2,  9" pans with parchment paper
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
3.  Sift together dry ingredients & set aside
4.  In a large bowl, beat butter till smooth.  Add the sugar and beat until light and smooth.
5.  Add eggs, one at a time
6.  Alternate flour and milk ending with flour
7.  Stir in vanilla
8.  Divide and fold into pans
9.  Bake for 30-35 minutes
10.  Cool, split the layers and frost

Vanilla Frosting
2 sticks of unsalted butter softened
6-8 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla - clear vanilla if you want the cake pure white

1. Put 2 sticks of butter, 4 cups of sugar ingredients in a large bowl & just add half the milk
2. Beat for 5 minutes
3. Gradually add the remaining sugar alternately with milk
4. Add the vanilla


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chocolate Chip Blondies, with Quinoa?

My new obsession is substituting.  Flours, butter, chips, flavors, you name it and I will try it.  This recipe idea came from a friend but of course I couldn't resist making just a few small changes.
Quinoa Chocolate Chip Blondies sounded interesting.
Here's the  Ingredients for your shopping list
Quinoa Flour which I bought but you can grind out own (next time).  This is gluten free
Soy free, dairy free mini chocolate chips in place of regular chips
Almond butter which cuts down on the amount of butter
Butter ( next try I'm using coconut oil)
Brown sugar
Baking powder
Fat free organic milk
8x8 pan (make your life easy and line with parchment paper)

I added a chocolate glaze.  When I looked for ideas for a chocolate ganache, heavy cream was out so I used butter, chocolate and milk and it was delicious.
The glaze in my opinion just made these Blondies perfect.

Now for the true test.
My significant other.  All I said was, " Try these chocolate chip Blondies"  Absolutely loved them!  He said he didn't want to know what was in them and had one more!

Ingredients and Recipe
  1. 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3/4 cup smooth natural almond butter
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 3/4 cup quinoa flour 
  7. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (use the mini chips)
  10. Additional chips for glaze
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Beat butter and almond butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk quinoa flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 45 minutes before cutting into 24 pieces. Let cool completely before storing.
  5. Spread Chocolate ganache (melt 2 oz chips, 1 oz butter, 1oz of organic skim milk) I added the milk gradually for the consistency I wanted.
I think the ganache just make this the finishing touch.  Let me know what you think!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies - The 1st Attempt

The Question - do you bake gluten free?  Oh how I've put this task off.  Why?   I really can't answer that question but I finally did it.  Curiosity finally made me try this and maybe having a new kitchen helped to motivate me just a bit!  I found a recipe that was in one of the magazines from the local health food store and decided to start with chocolate chip cookies.  I figured if I was going to get my family to try them, the 3 words - Chocolate - Chip - Cookie might convince them to give the recipe a chance.  
I was pleasantly surprised - they were GOOD!  Different in texture, they were soft but flavorful and I would make them again.  My husband gave in and tried one only because I told him I would bake the real chocolate chip cookie recipe if he ate one.  No, he did not like them.  He is a one recipe only kind of guy and will never change!  Toll House is his fav.   But really, try this recipe.  I would definitely make it again but then I would be the only one eating all the cookies!

1/4 cup of butter. ( I used coconut oil)
3/4 cup of sorghum flour
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp of xanthate gum
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup of chocolate chips ( I used organic dairy free, soy free)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix flour and butter until well combined.  Add remaining ingredients except for the chips
Beat well until batter is thick
Stir in the chips

drop by rounded tsp onto lightly greased baking sheet
Press tops to flatten just a bit
Bake 9-10 min till edges are lightly browned and cookies are set
Cool on wire racks

I always have to substitute. I have this thing with coconut oil and feel maybe it's just a bit healthier fat.   But try the regular recipe first.
I promise you will like it

Monday, May 26, 2014

In honor of Nick on Memorial Day & today Veterans Day

2014 Repost of Memorial Day Blog
You and your family are in my thoughts

I wrote this post last August on my blog in memory of a young man I knew. I'm reposting it again as  he & his family are in my thoughts & prayers today - Memorial Day and now Veterans Day.
This post today will have absolutely nothing to do with cupcakes or recipes. It is not about political views. It's about a life. A wonderful life of a 23 year that ended way too soon. I first met Nick as a 6th grader & as his counselor followed him through 8th grade. He was one of those kids that years later stands out in your mind. Not a mean bone in his body, just a typical, likeable, middle school kid who could sometimes drive his teachers crazy. A smile, a personality - he had it all.  Moving on to the high school, he became an athlete and he often came back to the middle school around junior year to work at the school & to see his coach each week. I can still see him talking to that coach each day in the hallway outside my office when they had duty. Still a great kid with all those same qualities but so much more grown up.   He would always come in to talk and say hi, or wave through the window... the same old Nick. I just loved that kid.
I retired from school & didn't know he had enlisted. On Saturday I picked up the paper and read about this young man who I have known since he was 11 years old.  He was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, August 10, 2011. Coming from a helping profession, where I was always trying to "fix" things is frustrating as there is no fixing this. But I feel I need to do something so if you're reading this, say a prayer or think a thankful thought for this young man who gave his life for his country. Thank you Nick.<

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My March Birthdays

Getting ready for our 4 year olds John Deere Birthday Party tomorrow.  My cookbooks  are still packed away.  We move in 1 month so I went on Pinterest for a yellow cake recipe.  There are so many of them!  I went with Smitten Kitchen which has great recipes      
 I picked this as I had cake flour and buttermilk.  It looks delicious and will let you know how it turned out after the party.  I did like that there was enough batter for 2- 9 in pans and it seemed to rise nicely.

For decorating I made custom wrappers and custom cupcake toppers

& a cake banner for decorating as I did not have time to get my natural food coloring. I can not use regular coloring anymore especially for kids.
Whole Foods carries the natural color but no time to get it.  I like India Tree coloring.  Any other suggestions, would love to hear from you.
So vanilla and chocolate icing and chocolate and vanilla cake for my favorite boy.
Happy Birthday seanie!  Love you!
And Happy Birthday Mom who would love that she and Sean could share a special day! Miss you!