Sunday, November 14, 2010

Baby Shower Bliss!

A few weeks ago my best friend asked me if I would bake something for her baby shower. Well of course I said yes; one, because she's my best friend, and two, because it gave me a reason to get in the kitchen and try something new!  I ask her what kind of look she is going for and she tells me, "Anything! As long as it's your chocolate cake!" That makes my heart happy, since that's my favorite too, but I can't just go and do something as easy as making my chocolate cake! I have a photo album with a cute sketch of a baby carriage on the cover and went with that as my inspiration for the cake, then I went online to find the perfect recipes to create a cupcake that tasted like an orange creamsicle. I guess I was feeling a little nostalgic for childhood treats because since I had some leftover chocolate cake batter, I made some chocolate cupcakes too, with the idea in mind to make them "faux-stess" cupcakes.

Looks pretty yummy, even without the icing huh?

Here's the finished product. I didn't make enough of the "faux-stess" cupcakes to be able to take a picture with a, I mean cut in half to show the cream filling, but I was told they tasted like the real thing. The baby shower was lots of fun, and guests were coming back for seconds on the cake and cupcakes, so I'll take that as a success!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hello Monday!

So I didn't get to do any baking this weekend, which is probably good, since there were plenty of my PB&J cupcakes left; but I did have some kitchen success on Saturday evening.  I had taken out chicken (again) for dinner, but had absolutely no idea how I wanted to prepare it.  I asked my Hubby for any suggestions. He makes a face and says, "Honestly? I'm really craving Outback."  At first I just laughed because dinner for 6 at Outback is nowhere near in our budget right now, but then I jumped online and searched for the recipe for one of our favorites at Outback, Alice Springs Chicken. I sent Hubby to the store with a list of the ingredients we didn't have on hand, and crossed my fingers that I could manage the recipe without completely ruining it.  Nothing about the recipe was overly difficult, but there's a lot going on at the same time, which I don't usually do.  Hubby got back from the store and I got to work.  I wish I had thought to get the camera out, because a half hour later I had produced a dish that looked, smelled, and tasted EXACTLY like Outback's Alice Springs Chicken!  Hubby and I were in taste bud heaven.  And we only spent about $12 for four servings!  The only downside?  The kids wouldn't touch it, even after I took off all the toppings.  AAAHHH!  Oh well, I guess next time I'll have to throw some chicken nuggets in the oven for them, because there will definitely be a next time!

Outback's Alice Springs Chicken

Honey Mustard Marinade and dipping sauce (I didn't have time to marinade and it came out great, if you do want to marinate the chicken, I suggest doubling the sauce recipe so you have enough to dip later!)
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey (I used a little more)
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
salt, pepper, and paprika
8 slices cooked bacon
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Use an electric mixer to combine the Dijon mustard, honey, vegetable oil, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whip the mixture for about 1 minute.
2. Pour about 2/3 of the marinade over the chicken breasts and marinate them covered, in the refrigerator for at least 30 min. Chill remaining marinade until later.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 F and heat olive oil in an oven proof frying pan large enough to hold all four breasts over medium heat. (If you don't have an oven proof frying pan, like me, you'll have to transfer the chicken to a baking dish for baking.) Sear the chicken in the pan for 3-4 min per side or until golden brown.
4. As the chicken is cooking, in a small frying pan saute the sliced mushrooms in butter.
5. Brush each seared chicken breast with a little of the reserved honey mustard marinade. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika.
6. Stack two pieces of cooked bacon, crosswise, on each chicken breast. Spoon the sauteed mushrooms onto the bacon.
7. Spread the cheeses evenly on top of each chicken breast. Bake 7-10 min or until the cheese is thoroughly melted and starting to bubble.
8. Sprinkle each chicken breast with parsley before serving. Serve with extra honey mustard sauce.

Good Luck and Enjoy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I did it!  Today I ended my search for a from scratch yellow cake recipe that I don't manage to somehow screw up!  To most people this wouldn't be something to get excited about, but to me this is a great day.  Before today every scratch yellow cake recipe I tried would either crumble apart, stick mercilessly to the pans, create a weird crunchy, sugary crust on top, which when broken would reveal a gray looking cake underneath, or burn on the outside and stay uncooked in the middle.  None of which has ever been remotely edible.  I had almost accepted the fact that I was just going to have to use box mixes for the rest of my life, when I found this recipe on  I couldn't wait to try it, and made these Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcakes today. Of course I had to try one before wasting all the yummy strawberry filling and peanut butter icing, and even though I left them in the oven just a tad too long, they were delicious! So now I just have to convince myself that letting my kids have cupcakes for a snack today wasn't so bad, because they're PB&J, and that's kinda healthy, right?

BTW, if you want to try the recipe yourself, here it is...

* 2 cups sugar
* 4 eggs
* 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1 cup milk
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
* 2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Prepare your pans, two 9 inch, a 13 by 9, or cupcakes, I got 29 cupcakes out of this recipe.

2. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and beat for another minute or so, just until batter is smooth and creamy. Don't over beat. Pour batter into the prepared pans.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. I did 19 minutes for the cupcakes, but probably should've taken them out at 16 or 17 min. Let cool completely before icing.

This makes a rich cake, not light and fluffy, but really yummy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cake Pops!

So earlier today I mentioned that I was going to do some baking for my sister's birthday, regardless of the fact that she lives in New York and would only be able enjoy a picture of the yummyness I made.  I decided to try some cake pops, a la Bakerella.  If you haven't heard of her yet check out her website,  She has the cutest ideas! It turns out that cake pops are a lot harder to make than they look.  While my 3 youngest were playing quietly this morning (for once!) I threw the cake in the oven, managed to get a load of laundry done while the cake baked and cooled, then crumbled the cake and mixed in the icing.  Took a little break to make the kiddos lunch and that's when they discovered Mommy is baking!  "Can I have some?", "What dat?", and my youngest, "cake?" Aww.

Then I started rolling cake balls.  They are messy.  Really messy.  And time consuming.  After a few I realized my kids were awfully quiet, and found the boys watching their baby sister color on the wall with an orange crayon, big smiles on their faces! Ugh.  As per Bakerella's tip I put the cake balls in the freezer for awhile to make them easier to dunk in the chocolate, and got the kids settled in for a nap (sort of).  I got my chocolate melted and my lollipop sticks ready and starting dunking. I realized very quickly that Bakerella must have the patience of a saint because each pop took forever! A bunch of them wouldn't even stay on the stupid stick! I ended up only making 5 cake pops and the rest I just rolled in chocolate. They looked like truffles, which is kinda cool too.  This was definitely a project for after my kids' bedtime though, as you can see by how they turned out.  I'll definitely be trying cake pops again though, because they might not have turned out too pretty this time, but they sure tasted good!

Hi There!

I'm obsessed. I've caught the cake decorating/baking bug! At first it was just around the holidays, baking cookies, pies, cheesecakes, basically any delicious looking recipe I found I would try.  I never thought about cake decorating until July 2008, my twin boys' first birthday.  I wanted a surfboard cake, I HAD to have a surfboard cake! But none of the grocery store bakeries in my town could make one for me. Well, I thought, I'll do it myself. How hard could it be? So six cake mixes, about 10 cans of icing, (it was a big cake), some cursing, and finally tears, at three in the morning I found myself with the above finished product. Yea, I know, not the best looking cake in the world, but I was extremely proud of it.  This was the official start of my decorating obsession.  Since then I have come up with as many reasons as possible to bake. Birthdays, holidays, visiting relatives, and just because. Like today is my sister's birthday, and even though she lives in New York and won't actually get to enjoy it, I'm going to bake...well, just because!