Sunday, December 26, 2010

Elmo Birthday Cake!

On December 22, 2010, my youngest brother, Jordan, turned 5! I can't believe that it's been 5 years already since he was born and I'm officially at the point where I can't remember what our lives were like without him. In honour of his birthday, I decided to make him an Elmo cake :)

I wanted to use a hemisphere cake pan so that it would be a life-like visual of Elmo's face. I bought Fat Daddio's 8in hemisphere cake pan from Golda's Kitchen and followed the staff's instructions to bake the pan on top of a round cookie cutter so it's balanced while on a cookie sheet. I thoroughly greased the pan because I wasn't sure how it would stick if I didn't. Allow me to tell you now from experience that you must grease the heck outta this pan! GREASE UNTIL YOU CANNOT GREASE ANY MORE! And then, grease it up a little more. I used butter which was great except that a chunk of the cake didn't come out of the pan. Not a huge problem as I was able to put it back together in the end but I still would have preferred a smooth balanced cake.

Anyway, once that was done, I used a Wilton 1M star tip that looks like this:

Photo Courtesy of CakesUnlimited
With the 1M tip, I piped the red frosting all over the cake in connecting stars.

Then I cut 1 jumbo marshmallow in half for the eyes and piped some black frosting on using a Wilton #12 tip. I have discovered that using AmeriColor's Super Black colouring is AMAZING! 

After that, I added his nose and mouth. I may have overdone the nose a bit and should have used a stencil for his mouth but I'm happy regardless. Here is the finished cake :)

And one better, here is the birthday boy with his special cake. Please disregard the smushed icing on the front of the cake... We had a little incident! OOPS!

Keep baking!


Christmas Around Our House

I feel bad because I really haven't been posting much this month and this month in particular has been filled with food! So here are some photos of what I've been up to over the last few weeks!

Cream cheese filled red velvet cupcakes

Unfilled red velvet cupcakes

Frosted red velvet cupcakes

Buttermilk apple spice loaf

A slice of buttermilk apple spice loaf

Toblerone shortbread

More Toblerone shortbread

Mushroom, caramelized onion and chicken risotto

A slab of chewy homemade caramel

Sliced chewy caramels (which were later covered in chocolate & sprinkled with pink sea salt)

Veggie cups

Cheese platter

Goat cheese crostini with caramelized onions and grape tomatoes

Christmas Cupcakes - Earl Gray Orange Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting

COOKIES!!!!!!!! Upper - Toblerone shortbread, Lower - Chewy chocolate chip & Mayan chocolate sparklers

More Christmas cupcakes

Mini tart shells

More tart shells

Ricotta filling for caramelized onion mini tarts

Mini tarts awaiting onion topping

Caramelized onion and ricotta tarts

Creamy mushroom mini tarts
And that ladies and gents is what I have been up to for the last few weeks! 

Happy Monday (almost!)! 


Chicken Penne Alla Vodka

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and spent it with full tummies surrounded by some amazing company! Our Christmas was busy this year but we still had a very busy week! Needless to say, boxing day turned out to be quite quiet and dinner was really an idea on the back burner.... We had TONS of leftovers but after having it for breakfast and lunch (who can really say no to grandma's cooking at 7am... even if it is shrimp and lobster?!?!?), I didn't want any more.

So naturally, in my 'nerd-dom' on this quiet night, I decided to categorize my bookmarked recipes and came across the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Penne Alla Vodka. Firstly, if you don't know who Ree Drummond: the Pioneer Woman is, I am so sorry! She is an all around GODDESS! She cooks, she is an amazing photographer, a fantastic Mum and all around goddess! Discover her blog, enjoy her blog and follow every word as if it were gospel! She's humorous in her writing and I think that's what makes me adore her and her blog! Anyways! Ree's recipe for Penna Alla Vodka inspired me to whip up a quick batch for those of us who hadn't had dinner tonight... Can I tell you that I am so glad that I did it?!?!?

The recipe is really straight forward and I will apologize now for not having taken step-by-step photos like Ree does (and as I typically do). Pretty much heat some butter and olive oil in a pan set to medium high heat. Add a whole medium sized onion (diced) and a few cloves of garlic (I used 4 because I'm a saucy gal like that!). Let the garlic and onion soften and then add in 3/4 cup of vodka (we had Absolut on hand, but use what you have). Let the vodka reduce for a few minutes. Add one can of crushed tomatoes (I used a can of whole tomatoes that I pulverized with my emulsion blender) and a can of tomato paste. Keep stirring until it's all combined. I added some dried basil and oregano (about a teaspoon of each), some Spicy Pepper Medley and a few dashes of Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Now comes the fun part... Add some 35% whipping cream... I added about 3/4 of a cup. Mix and let it all simmer to deliciousness for about 5 minutes. Add your cooked penne (and in my case, some cooked chicken) and stir!

In the end, you should end up with something that looks like this :)

And voila! Delicious and quick and easy and wonderful!

Happy Monday!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cookies GALORE!

Happy December Everyone!

It seems that two years ago my Mum and I started a new tradition of baking cookies and giving them to guests who stop by during the holidays or as hostess gifts if we go to visit someone else's place. I very clearly remember there being a day of hell-ish baking when we baked all of the cookies all at once. Needless to say, by the end of the day of baking, I was THRILLED to see those cookies leave our house!

This year, I decided to get smart! I had a day where I was home alone and I was feeling my inner 'Martha/Julia' speak to me... they both said "Get a move on on those cookies now, sister! Roll and freeze em missy!". When those voices speak to you, you listen because THEY know best! And that's exactly what I did. I made a single batch of our favourite Christmas cookies, Robin Hood flour's Mayan Chocolate Sparklers, and a double batch of their Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies too! I have made both of these cookies before and I love them both dearly! Both recipes are pretty simple  except that the Mayan Chocolate Sparklers are best done with a 5 year old or two helping you so that you don't have to do all of the rolling of cookies on your own. BUT alas, I flew solo on this mission. 

For the Mayan Chocolate Sparklers, I creamed together the butter and shortening...

And then added some sugar (both brown and white) and some eggs...

Then added some flour, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cinnamon. Mix until it comes together (I promise it will come together!!!!! If it doesn't, you probably forgot to add the eggs...not that I've done that in the past or anything...... dum dee dum)!

And then stir in some delicious chocolate chips...

Now here comes the fun part. DO NOT do this in the kitchen as you will be bored to tears (unless you have a friend to chat with). I set up camp in my living room with a baking sheet, a mini ice cream scooper, and a bowl with cinnamon sugar. Scoop your batter and then roll it in cinnamon sugar and place it on your cookie sheet. Repeat 35000000 times and then you're done :) This is the point where I threw my cookie sheet in the freezer for about 20 minutes so that the cookies could freeze hard enough to be put in a plastic bag until I was ready to bake them off. Here they are, fresh from the freezer...

As for the chocolate chip cookies, I also positioned myself in the living room and just attacked the double batch the same way I did the Mayan Chocolate Sparklers. Look at em go! 

Since I am on a cookie mission at the moment, I will post some more cookies as they happen in my house. I hope you all are having a WONDERFUL Saturday afternoon and that you're not all stressed out about the holidays! 

Happy Ho Ho!