Red Velvet Cake

This was my 1st attempt in making a Red Velvet cake & I think this recipe did the job!

Red Velvet Cake

Vegetable oil/spray for the pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour your cake pans (I used 1 regular sized bundt cake pan)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

*Note: if your buttermilk is not a room temp, your batter will look curdled. Heat in microwave for a few seconds if you need to.

Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

Pour cake batter in cake pan(s). Place the pan(s) & bake. Rotate the pan(s) halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
*Note: Since I used a Regular sized Bundt Cake pan, my cooking time was closer to 45 min – 1 hour.

Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. Invert the cake onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
*Note: Since a bundt cake pan is a lot deeper than other cake pans, you should let the cake cool a bit before trying to remove it from the pan. Removing the cake too soon will cause the top of the cake to tear apart from the bottom. This is not a problem if you plan on icing the cake, but will is a HUGE problem if you plan to just ice the top like most bundt cakes.

Recipe Source: Food Network

Indiana Jones 7th Birthday

With 3 kids, I’d have to say that I’ve done a few birthday parties here & there. But, this one is definitely one of my Favorites!!!

Invitations:
These invitations were super easy to make & gave a good feel for the Indiana Jones Theme.

Entertainment:
What’s Indiana Jones without a few snakes?

The snake guy we hired was absolutely AMAZING! Despite the fact that a gigantic lizard pooped all over my dining table multiple times, I was very pleased.

Although I am far from a reptile lover, I couldn’t be happier with the look on my son’s face while holding all of the different snakes & lizards.

Activities:
Before the reptile show began, the kids were put on a Mission. The Mission to find their Bravery! One must be brave to handle snakes & lizards 🙂

We had 4 tasks to complete in order to accomplish our Mission of Bravery.
1. Mission Funding: Searched for gold coins, which were spread out all over our backyard grass.
2. Diamond Quest: What Indiana Jones Mission didn’t include diamonds? NONE! The kids had to dig for over sized diamonds in a large bin of sand. This became a big hit when we had about 30 minutes to kill before the snake guy came. A handful of kids would dig up all of the extra diamonds, bury them again & repeat. Great Fun!
3. Key of Bravery: One must “unlock” their bravery inside in order to conquer the snakes. Each kid had to stick their hand in the Treasure Chest and pull out a key. The Treasure Chest (piñata) was full of cooked spaghetti & keys from the scrapbook store.

4. Conquer the Snakes: Each kid had to take their new found bravery, run up the slide of our playground & conquer a rubber snake. Who knew allowing the kids to run up the slide would be such a big hit.

When the kids first arrived, they were given their own Indiana Jones satchel. This is where they could store all of their new found treasure while completing each task (gold coins, diamonds, key & rubber snake)

Cake:

My all time favorite detail of every birthday party…The Cake! This snake cake was so fun to make. I decided to make it a Red Velvet cake as my son wanted the insides to look like blood. Of course! Do you expect anything less from a 7 year old boy?

The body was made out of 2 bundt cakes, which were cut & arranged to make the curve of the body. We are a cream cheese frosting kind of family, so that is what I used. However, doing so did make the icing a bit softer then if I used something a bit more stiff.

Although this cake was super cute, it was A LOT of cake! We had a ton left over, which was a bonus for the birthday boy.

So there you have it… Another year, another kid older, more happy memories!

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Soup

Don’t know what to do with all of that leftover Turkey? Don’t know what to do with those itty, bitty, tiny pieces of turkey, skin & juice on your cutting board?

MAKE A SOUP!!!

We deep fry our turkey every year and are always left with all of these tiny pieces of turkey goodness. They are found on the cutting board, on the serving patter & anywhere else you’re willing to grab extra pieces of turkey (i.e: the kids plate as they never touch the stuff).

Throw all of that flavorful goodness into your crock pot & follow my Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. Of course, replace the chicken with your Turkey.

You can even add some of your side dishes into the soup if you’d like. Roasted/Grilled/Steamed veggies would be great. Replace some of the Cream of Mushroom Soup with your Thanksgiving gravy. Add a scoop of stuffing to each serving bowl & pour soup on top. Cut up some Caramelized Yams into bit size pieces and add when you’re ready to serve. Your options are endless!

Caramelized Yams

This delicious Thanksgiving side dish has been in my family well before my time. I have fond memories of eating more than my share, while growing up, & I’m so thrilled to share them with my family (and you, of course). I also have memories of calling them Sweet Potatoes, but they are in fact Yams. 🙂

The pure smell of these, which starts 2 days before Thanksgiving, is the instant movement Thanksgiving starts for me. It’s kind of like Christmas music kicking off the Holiday season… it just goes hand in hand.

While it might not be the prettiest dish on our Thanksgiving table, it is certainly the most delicious & most coveted.

Caramelized Yams (aka Sweet Potatoes in our household)

Yams (approx. 1 per person plus a few extra for left overs)
Brown Sugar (I do a combo of both light & dark)
Salted Butter

*note: Yams are orange inside. Sweet Potatoes are yellow inside. I always use yams but I’m sure sweet potatoes would work if you prefer.

In an electric skillet, melt 1 stick of butter & 1 bag of brown sugar. Once both are melted you can see how much sauce you have. Add more brown sugar if the sauce is too thin. Add more butter if the sauce is too thick and not melting smooth. Add both if you want more sauce.

Peel, cut to desired size, and boil yams in a pot of water until slightly tender.

*Note: the centers of the yams should be tender, without having the outside too soft where it falls apart. It’s ok if the centers are still a tad bit firm, as they will continue to cook in the caramel sauce.

Remove yams from pot & drain well. Any left over water will prevent the caramel sauce from thickening up.

Add cooked yams to sauce & simmer on low. Turn yams over occasionally & spoon sauce over the tops to ensure entire yam is caramelized.

*Note: Use a large spoon to turn the yams over. Try not to puncture the yams with a fork or thongs as they will start to fall apart.

*Note: for best results, start cooking 1-2 days before Thanksgiving & simmer on low until ready to eat. You can turn the skillet off at night but DO NOT COVER!!! Covering the yams will cause condensation which will prevent the sauce from getting thick. Turn skillet on low again in the morning.

    From my family to yours… Happy Thanksgiving!

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Let them eat cake….

Well in this case, they ate various mini tarts 🙂

I had the great honor of preparing the desserts for my good friends Engagement Party. Considering I had never prepared desserts for 70 people before, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. Due to this, I was super, oober organized, had a clear idea on what I wanted to make & how I wanted it to look. In the end, it all turned out great & I made my dear friend a very happy Bride to be!

Cream Puffs

Chocolate Mousse Mini Tarts

Raspberry Mousse Mini Tarts

Lemon Tarts

Fruit Tart

Homemade Snow Globe

This project was actually brought to my attention by my 4 year old who saw it on TV. Super simple & Super Cute!

Materials Needed:
* 1 empty Jam jar with lid
* Glitter
* Trinket that fits inside of jar while closed
* Water

Super glue your trinket onto the inside of the lid. I also super glued the pop out lid section to the lid ring to ensure it wouldn’t leak. Once glue is dry, add glitter to jar, fill jar with water (fill it to the very top), screw on lid as tight as possible. Turn jar right side up & shake!

My kids love shaking their new globes & watching the glitter float all around.

Little Peter Cottontail

This thing is anything but Little! An obnoxiously large, hollow, chocolate bunny, which I made in class has been the topic of many conversations in my home. Most of which consist of “When are we going to eat that thing?”

While it was fun to make & the kids love it, I have no idea what to do with it. Perhaps, it’s inevitable fate of being eaten should occur sooner rather than later. But for now, I’m still admiring it 🙂

Now that I’ve learned a few things about Tempering Chocolate… Watch Out Easter Bunny!!!

Mickey Mouse Birthday

In writing this post, all I can think of is…..MY BABY IS 2!!! How did this happen? How did my littlest monkey turn into a BIG Boy?

Ok, I’m done! I put my Mommy emotions away now! Now back to the Big Boy birthday celebration.

We decided to celebrate the big occasion by doing a low key family birthday party & then head to Disneyland. Clearly, Mickey Mouse had to be the theme. Not only was it appropriate for a soon to be Disneyland trip, but the little guy is truly obsessed with Mickey Mouse.

*Cute personalized shirt was purchase on Etsy.

As usual, I hit the internet for some inspiration and came up with the below:

Invitations:
*Since we didn’t have an actually “party” I opted to send an email to the family & not do invitations. I then realized, in 20 years Wyatt is going to ask me “Hey Mom, what happened to my 2nd birthday invitation in my baby book”. So… 1 invitation for the baby book will be made in the weeks to come 🙂

Decorations:
As usual, we called upon our beloved, beyond talented Balloon Guy for decorations. He did not fail us!

Cupcakes:
For the cupcakes, I decided to use my Tres Leche Cake recipe & turn them into cupcakes. In my opinion, they seems a bit heavy & dense but everyone seemed to enjoy them. I’ll work on tweaking the recipe & post my results at that time.

To make the Mickey head top, I used our babycakes Cake Pop Maker.

I used a Chocolate cake mix for the head, mini-marshmellows for the ears, and dipped it all in melted chocolate. Big hit with the kids!

Quick & Tiny celebration, with BIG memories for all of us!

Quiche Lorraine

Pastry Technique – Week 1 – Session 2

I am not one to normally make Quiche, but I sure will now!!!

Quiche Lorraine

Tart Dough (pâte brisée)
50 grams bacon (cubed, cooked to desired texture) -about 1/4 cup
50 grams Gruyère cheese (grated) – about 1/4 cup
125 milliliters whole milk – about 4 1/4 ounces
125 millilititers heavy cream – about 4 1/4 ounces
2 eggs
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground pepper

1. Roll out dough into a circle approx 10″ in diameter and 1/8″ thick. Line a tart pan or ring with the dough and chill.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F.

3. Blind bake the tart shell in the preheated oven until lightly brown. Set aside to cool.

*note, plastic wrap is used in the blind baking picture above. This is heavy duty plastic wrap at the FCI. Normal household plastic wrap will melt in the oven. Use aluminum foil or parchment paper instead.

4. Prepare custard – Mix milk, cream, eggs & seasonings together.

5. In cooled tart shell, add cooked bacon, then grated cheese. Pour custard mixture over the top of bacon & cheese.

6. Bake at 250°F for 20-30 minutes or until custard is set and a knife in the middle comes out clean.

Recipe Source: French Culinary Institute
Photos:
By Jen Grove

Classic Apple Tart

Pastry Technique – Week 1 – Session 1

First week of Pastry Techniques was beyond exciting!!!! I can feel myself gaining weight by the mere act of walking into class 🙂

After watching the Chef demo & making our own Tart Doughs, we were sent off to make this delicious classic.

Classic Apple Tart

1 tart dough (pâte brisée, pâte sucrée or pâte sablée)*
425 grams apple compote (a little shy of 2 cups)
2-3 apples (peeled, halved, cored, thinly sliced)
Apricot Nappage

Roll tart dough out in a circle, approx. 10″ in diameter & 1/8″ think. Line the tart pan or ring with the dough & chill to set.

Fill the chilled tart with 3/4 of the apple compote. Use the peeled, halved & thinly sliced apples and arrange around the tart. Start from the outside, keep slices close together. Fill the void area under the apple arrangement with small pieces of apple (this prevents the middle from collapsing when baking). Add 2 apple halves on the top to form a circle apple slice (or you could just use a full circle slice). Sprinkle top with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, or until crust is brown & apple slices on top are caramelized and tender. Remove tart from over 5 min before finished, brush with melted butter & bake for remaining time.

Let cool, then brush top with Apricot Nappage or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

*You can make your own tart dough or you can just purchase one. A pie crust would work just fine but you may have to add more Apple Compote as a pie crust is a lot deeper than a traditional tart crust.

Recipe Source: French Culinary Institute
Photos: By Jen Grove