Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lego brick cake

I had just enough batter left over from the cupcakes to make a cake in a loaf tin. So I did that and thought I would make the Lego brick cake, which I have seen pictures of on the internet.

This whole cake episode has been a comedy of errors. I made the cake in the loaf tin, but then the kids ate the corner, so I could not frost it like I wanted to. So I went back to the store and got another box of cake mix. That worked out fine, but after it cooled completely in the pan, one side stuck to the pan, despite it being greased and floured, as per the box. So frustrating! When it was going to be a whole 9” x 13” cake, I was going to use the leftover cupcakes from the cookie monster thing to make the bumps. So I decided to cut that piece off that stuck and I was back to thinking the cupcakes were too big, so I made it with a big marshmallow cut in half for each of the bumps. The cake was great and it looked perfect before I frosted it!

Then I needed to frost it, so I just bought a frosting can (white) at the store, but a tube of blue gel coloring to make a blue Lego brick. I put the whole can of frosting and the whole tube of blue gel food coloring in a bowl and mixed with an electric mixer. After the whole tube of blue from the store, it was just barely blue. Luckily, I had 3 tubes of the gel food coloring at home, so I got those out. I had maybe used them, but not too much, because they were mostly full and I was out of other colors so I figured I had just bought the multi-pack to get the other colors and had probably not used the blue too much, if at all.

I added the next tube, yes all of it. The gel was darker coming out, but it was still not a dark blue. I added the next tube, still not blue enough. And the last tube, still not blue enough. So if I had to do it again, maybe I would do something easier, like green or even white. I still did not some out as blue as I wanted. I thought gel was darker and "better" than the other drops of food coloring, but I think I will try them next time because this did not work out to well and it used WAY too much - if I had to buy all of those, it would have cost me a fortune!!
I frosted the cake, and it looks OK, but not great.

But when I was done, I had some frosting left over, so I frosted the leftover cupcakes from cookie monster, that I was going to use as the bumps if the whole cake would have come out of the oven well. And there was still some left.

So I put that in a container and put it in the fridge. If it would have been less, I would have just eaten it, but there was enough left that I knew eating it would make me ill.

DH said “Please stop with all the baking. What is that even for?” And I said I thought it would make a good birthday cake but I did not want to make it for the FIRST time for a special event! How can you learn if you only do stuff once?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

As I have mentioned before, I am only allowed to bake about once a week so we don’t get HUGE and today was the day. I saw some Cookie Monster Cupcakes on the web and decided to give it a try with items I could get at my local grocery store, AKA Wal-Mart Supercenter.

They turned out OK (and they taste great!) but there are a few changes I will make next time.

First of all, I baked the cupcakes. Since this was an experiment, I used the boxed white cake mix, but the Wal-Mart brand, because I did not want to put a lot of effort into that part.

I love the idea of cupcakes, but every time I have made them the frosting has been really time-consuming, so I do not make them nearly as much as I want to!
So after the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I put on vanilla frosting, blue sprinkles or jimmys (depending upon your part of the country) and the frosting gives them something to stick to. They were completely covered in blue sprinkles. (No picture because they are not what I would like them to be, but if you do a google image search on cookie monster and cupcake, you will see what it should look like!). Then I did medium dots of white frosting for the eyeballs and put the black frosting both up and down, so it looked like googly eyes.

This was the part I was not that pleased with and the reason I would do it differently again. The eyes did not turn out great. One of the images said that they used the white decorator disks from Wilton that you are supposed to melt and then put chocolate chips as the eyeballs. I will do that next time because I tried to do it with frosting and it did not work out. Also, it was really hard to find black frosting, but they did have black cookie frosting for Halloween. It was runnier than I wanted.

After they eyes, I did half a Chips Ahoy cookie where the mouth should be. It does look pretty good, but again, I wanted the eyes to be better.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pizza Dough

I have been playing with different pizza dough recipes for ages now! I have always made pizza at home whenever I can and it has worked out to about once a week and it is pretty tasty. However, with the stand mixer not working, I am limited to things I can make by hand. With that in mind, I was thrilled to find a recipe for pizza dough yesterday that can all be made by hand! I did have to knead it for 10 minutes by hand, but since it was either that or strangle somebody, kneading dough seemed like a good alternative.

The recipe, like most, was found on allecipes.com and was Jay’s Signature Pizza Crust. It turned out great! I did pre—bake the crust, because I usually do that and it makes it much easier to move around and cook it. Since I only have one pizza stone and usually make two pizzas, the pre-bake is key for me. I have a pizza stone from pampered chef, which I LOVE, but it says not to pre-heat it, which is standard for most pizza stones. So I did not, but since I only have one stone, I prebake one crust, take it out of the oven, slide it onto a pizza peel (which I also LOVE), put the other crust on the stone, prebake that crust, and take that one out and leave it on the stone. When the crusts are both out of the oven, but only pre-baked, I add the sauce, cheese, and toppings to each. One stays on the peel while the last one stays on the stone.

Then, bake them both at the same time in the oven. With the pre-baked crust, the one on the peel usually slides off onto one of the racks, although it is not easy, so it takes some shimmying. Since it is pre-baked a little, I usually set the timer on the low side of what is needed and then check it a few times before it is done just to make sure it doesn’t get overdone. This works quite well and although it takes a little time and effort, it is SO MUCH better than delivery and you can make it exactly how you want it. I do get Take ‘n Bake from Papa Murphy’s (with a coupon!) when I am too lazy to make the crust. With the price of cheese now, it can be a better deal to buy pizza sometimes!

Kristen is also the author is Kristen is Organized! and loves to organize herself and others as well as experiment in the kitchen!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Corn Dogs

I made homemade corn dogs yesterday. They tasted OK, and when they went into the fryer, the batter was on them, but when they came out, most of the batter was gone. I don’t get it! I dried them off really well, which is what all the reviews for the recipe had said, but it was a failed experiment!

Kristen is also the author of Kristen is Organized! She loves to organize both herself and others, when she isn’t experimenting in the kitchen.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


In the past three days I have tried two new things that I just love! Well, one is not totally new. I had the pink M&Ms that they are selling now for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now I like giving money to breast cancer research as much as the next person, BUT I love pink even more, so October is my favorite month because I can get all the cool stuff I like in pink!

The other thing that I tried, which I really did try for the first time, was the Caramel Apple Hershey Kisses. They were OK. I would not search them out or pick them over a lot of other things, but I would not turn them away. They have a caramel inside and taste faintly of apple, although they are still, obviously, chocolate, and I just don’t think that gels quite as well with caramel apple as it does with other flavors.

Kristen’s other blog is Kristen is Organized!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I love my ipod. I have typically been a huge user of audible and listen to a lot of books on it (almost no music, although it has a lot on it!) and in an effort to be more frugal, I have canceled my subscription to audible (although I would highly recommend it to everyone!) and have recently really gotten into podcasts. I do use iTunes, which if you are hard-core on the computer is, I guess, a no-no, but oh well. It is easy and syncs with my ipod effortlessly. The great thing is that you can subscribe to all the podcasts I like on iTunes and when there is a new episode it automatically downloads to the computer. Next time, I plug in my ipod, it automatically syncs to that too, so I have to do nothing, which is great for me because I am uber-lazy about these sorts of things.

Anyway, in my search for the perfect food podcasts, there are a few that I like immensely. There are also some I do not like, but other people must like them, so I will not list them here. Also, there are a ton I have never heard or seen, so if yours is not listed here, tell me about it and I will subscribe to it!

• Munchcast – this is super funny and all about junk food. What’s not to love?
• CashTestKitchen – this is done by a couple of Brits (so there are a few things I don’t always get) but I like that it is casual and in their home kitchen. Also, they do not try to be too fancy and I like that a lot
• Start Cooking Video – This is a video podcast, so some of you may not be able to view it, but I like it a lot. It is a little elementary for me, but I like that it goes back to the basics and breaks everything down into its component parts. The fact that it is done like a stop-action video is only the icing on the cake, so to speak!
• PRI: Zorba Paster On Your Health – I am a huge fan of public radio anyway, so this name was not new to me, so if you are a fan of the show already or just want some heart-healthy recipes, check this one out!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fresh Cherry Crisp - YUM!

I had fresh (relatively) cherries in the freezer and I wanted to make something yummy with them. I found a great recipe on allrecipes.com (again – this site is going to be a common thread here) so I made it. As I was searching for a good recipe I learned two things:
1. Everything is either made with canned cherry pie filling or maraschino cherries
2. Fresh cherries are not easy to pit or cook with, apparently

So I made cherry crisp with the fresh cherries with this recipe. It called for four cups of fresh berries and that is what the ziptop bag in the freezer said, so I went with it. I was a little concerned because they had been in the freezer a long time (too long?) and were juicy, so I was worried that the finished product would be too runny. NOT TO FEAR! It turned out great. It did make a huge amount, like a 9x13” pan, which for a dessert even with kids, is too much for us, so I think next time I would cut it in half and bake it in an 8x8” pan, but the taste was amazing, it was not too juicy and not only did I love it, but the kids did too! I wish I had taken a picture of it when it was still pretty. I have been eating off of it for 3 days now and it is almost gone and not eve close to pretty anymore...

A special thanks to DH who pitted the cherries as soon as they were picked which made making this dessert a whole lot easier. If you had to pit the cherries, I might go for a can as well!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Soft Pretzels at home?

The pretzels turned out sooooo good. I saw an episode of something on TV - maybe it was Throwdown with Bobby Flay - about soft Philly-style pretzels and it got me wanting a soft pretzel for a snack something fierce!

So I made mall pretzels from allrecipes.com (a site which I LOVE and use a lot for just about everything). They were OK and tasted good, but they made 12, so I had to use 2 rimmed baking sheets and the ones on the bottom had darker bottoms on them and the recipe said not to put the salt on until after they baked and it did not stick very well, even with the “butter wash” I gave them.

Then, 2 days later, I decided to try it again, so I did the Buttery Soft Pretzels (which, incidentally, have NO butter in them) from that same site. Those were great! They were a little more bread-like than I would have liked, but the salt stuck, the outside tasted like pretzel, and the bottoms were not burned. I think I will use that recipe as a base and keep making improvements to it…

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I have been playing with it for just a little while now and I id finally get the new counter software to work! I am so thrilled that it finally works now! I will play with it later to get the look and feel I want, but for now I am just so thrilled it works, that I will leave it alone for a few days.

Broken stand mixer

I have a KitchenAid stand mixer, which I love. If I had known how much I would use one, I would have bought one myself years before I got one as a gift. But, alas, I did not know, so I waited and yearned for one. For years. And then, like an angel, my MIL bought me one for Christmas about 12 years ago. Almost since the day I got it, I use it almost weekly, if not more often (you know – some weeks are better than others…). I even upgraded, about a year ago, to a more heavy-duty machine, because I was baking pizza dough in it and since I switched to whole wheat, the mixer had to work pretty hard. As a side note: I used to have an Artisan, which was amazing. I upgraded to a Professional 600 series, because I loved it so much. I also had 6 accessories and they fit both the old one and the new one, so I was quite pleased with that!

I am kicking myself now for selling it to my SIL for $50, but hindsight is always 20/20, as they say. I should have kept it as a back-up, but it is a pretty price-y backup to keep around.

The last month or so, the one I have has been broken. The motor had to work too hard, I guess, and it started to make a funny noise. So DH, because he is very handy and we are both very cheap, takes it apart to fix it. Sure enough, it needs a part. He orders the part and we wait for 2 weeks for that part to come to our house. It works, but we find out we need yet another part. So we are still waiting for that part and it has been 2 more weeks. I am dying here without a mixer for a month. I like to bake and I am running out of things I can or want to make without a mixer! Last night I did a second batch of soft pretzels, which I kneaded BY HAND for 8 minutes on the counter. If I had my mixer working, I am sure the mixer would have done the work for me. So maybe it has been good for me, in that I am getting back to basics and doing more by hand. It is really affecting the way I work in the kitchen though because even as I look for a recipe now, I look at how it is mixed and if it requires a mixer, I skip it. Not everything is available to me, which is very frustrating.

So when that part comes, I will never again be without my mixer. If it ever goes on the fritz again, I will get a loaner or something from a friend the same day. I will even make goodies for said friend, if I can just use a mixer!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Soft Pretzels at home?

I have been trying to write a post about making soft pretzels at home for 3 days now! For some reason I just can't get it right yet, but I will by tomorrow - I swear!

So, since I bake a lot at home and like to experiment and once I decide to master something, I make it several times over just as many days, I think that will be the theme of the new blog.

I will throw in the occasional mom post or whatnot to keep it interesting, but I am sure that I can do a lot with that as a topic. I have already decided what the next 3 things I am going to bake will be, so that could be a week or so worth of posts!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still working on it...

I got the Twitter thing figured out, but the counter is still not working. I will try it again later. But until then, I am not going to worry about it too much!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The trials and tribulations of setting up a new blog...

I have been working on it for almost 2 hours and for some reason cannot get the HTML code on the counter to be inserted just right yet. So, until that happens, no counter for me!

I did play with the widgets for a while, but still cannot find the twitter thing, so since that was not so easy, maybe I should just add all my social media anyway. I have been meaning to spend more time on Facebook anyway.

Tomorrow is going to be quite a challenge!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More family drama...

I realize that the last post was rather cryptic and I am so sorry! I do not want to go into all the gory details, but I have a "situation" with my extended family that is not going well and the contents of the other blog was part of the issue. I wish I could say that by getting rid of it, all of the issues would be gone too, but alas, life is not that easy. However, I did make part of the issue go away, however small that part is. I guess I am just a control freak and that seems to be the only thing I can control right now...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

First post of the new blog

I have done this blogging thing before, but in an effort to reduce the drama around here, I deleted it and started over. So, there is no history or archives or anything and I am going to have to add all the widgets and what-not. But this is a good opportunity to clean house, so it is all good!