I found these PJs back before Christmas when I was shopping with my mom. I can’t resist dachshund things. I have several around the house 🙂
This is what happens when you have a black dog and no photography skills.
Also, only slightly better brown, speckly dog.
Cupcakes are good; big cupcakes are better. I got a silicone cake mold for big cupcakes at my work Christmas party this year. We played Dirty Santa, which is always a hit. I’ve made three so far (but forgot to take pictures of one…sorry). The mold comes in two pieces, the top and the bottom.
Big Cuppa Cake
For this one, I used a basic yellow cake recipe similar to this.
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3/4 cup milk
The cake mold calls for cake mix, but we all know I don’t roll that way. I doubled the cake recipe for this and made two at once. The one pictured above was a centerpiece for a holiday baked goods tray for my choir Christmas party. I used the previous recipe for the buttercream icing. Since I doubled the recipe, I didn’t get the molds evenly filled and my second one came out with a small top. I trimmed a little, and made the shape into a cone for a Christmas tree with the green icing seen on the bottom half of the one above. I decorated it with puffy peppermints and wrapped it in cellophane to give as a gift (not pictured).
Mr. J's Birthday
This was Mr. J’s birthday cake. It’s his favorite…peanut butter and chocolate. Unfortunately, I did use boxed cake mix for this one. It was Devil’s Food, and it came out quite well. The cake mold comes with a piece that makes an indentation in the bottom cake so that you can fill it. I chose to fill this one with peanut butter ganache. I topped it all off with peanut butter buttercream icing and chocolate chips. I have to admit…it was quite tasty!
I use a piping bag and decorative tips to ice the cakes. It helps me achieve the designs above. I’m still learning though!
Yes, buttercream is a basic. Haha! I love buttercream. It is one of my favorites. I think fondant is overrated, and after my cake decorating class where I learned how to make buttercream really smooth, I don’t see a need for fondant-covered cakes at all. I did enjoy making flowers out of fondant. I even bought a bucket of fondant to practice my flower-making skills. Maybe one of these days, I’ll get around to trying it out and post some pics!
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temperature)*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1b. 10X powdered sugar, sifted
1-3 teaspoons milk, half and half or cream
- Using a mixer, cream softened butter and vanilla until smooth.
- Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to cream together before adding more. Scrape down sides with a rubber spatula if needed. (TIP: I use my KitchenAid mixer to make this. To avoid a cloud of powdered sugar in the air, I place a kitchen towel around the top of the mixer and around most of the sides. They make a plastic guard for this purpose, but I find that the towel works just fine.)
- If you want your frosting a little creamier, add a teaspoon of milk at a time and beat on high until you get the right texture.
- Then, just use icing colors or food coloring to tint the frosting the color of your choice.
This is usually just enough for a 2-layer cake, so I would recommend doubling this for a three-layer. I like a lot of frosting.
*Note: Cooking and baking requires you to plan ahead. This means putting frozen meat in the fridge to thaw ahead of time, allowing time for bread or pizza dough to rise, and setting butter (and other ingredients) out of the fridge to come up to room temp. Thankfully, sometimes there are short cuts for those of use who are prone to forgetting. Check out this trick to softening butter in the microwave without melting it from Real Simple magazine.
I was dying to try risotto, especially a mushroom one. I will say that it is definitely a lot of work. I had a class at the Viking Cooking School yesterday, and one of the ladies was making a mushroom risotto for a cooking demonstration later in the day. She was a professional chef, and she was having trouble getting it to come out just right. She called in the chef I had for pasta making (a true Italian) to help her get it back on track.
I don’t know enough about different types of mushrooms so I just went with the basic button mushrooms that you find at the grocery store. I wish I’d been more adventurous, because I could have definitely used more mushrooms. It would have added to the flavor, too, I think. I used a recipe from Tyler Florence that I found after a quick Google search (this was before Google Recipes, though).
- 8 cups chicken broth, low sodium (2 large boxes)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, diced, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
- 1 small container of button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 T Italian seasoning
- 1 T parsley
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Parsley, for garnish
Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Saute a few more minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.
Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. This process may take quite a while (45 minutes or more). Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Top with parsley before serving.
I thought I’d seen it all when I came across Google Weddings, but Mr. J shared Google Recipes with me this week. I haven’t tried it yet, but I often head to the Intarwebs when I’m trying a new recipe.
It seems like all you do is type in what you’re looking for and sort like you would for images or video. I think this will come in handy for sure!
Read more here.