Thursday, April 28

hop to it!

I know it's a little late, but I hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend.  Ours was a busy, fun, family-filled frenzy of activity. The Man's folks always have a big family meal on holidays, and this past Sunday was no exception.  I was delegated the task of providing a little something sweet. I made a batch of lemon bars (not too good in my opinion-- I'll try them again, this time from scratch) and this little layer cake.

I couldn't resist making a cake because I had the perfect topper. My friend Casi sent me this tutorial, and it was so simple, I had to try! The nest is just made from melted butterscotch chips, rice noodles, and cadbury mini-eggs.
We also made some baskets for the Man's folks and the Sister and her fiance.
I love Peeps, and wanted to do something different with them.  Thanks to some lollipop sticks on clearance at Kroger, I ended up with Peeps pops.  They're not nearly as cute as these, but it was enough to satisfy my "this could be cuter" craving.

Now for a few more gratuitous cake shots:

I loved this frosting recipe I used, it still needs a little tweaking-- but it ended up being a light and airy, but still thickly sweet buttercream.

And finally, a little surprise for the inside, inspired by one of my favorite bloggers.

Oh, how could I forget?

What's a baking post without a little FailCake?  I had intended on having a 6 layer cake in blue, pink and purple.  However, my blue layer completely FELL.  Oh well, I added a generous dollop of frosting to the cakey sink-hole and we have a perfect "sorry I over committed us once again on a holiday weekend and freaked out because we didn't have any eggs in the house, but i mean really who doesn't have eggs in the house at Easter, but still ..sorry I cried so much and made you all worried and go to the grocery store at the last minute" cake for the Man.

Did you bake anything for Easter? 
How many Peeps and chocolate eggs have you consumed over the past week?

Too many to say? Yeah, me too.

Sunday, April 24

a strawberry surprise

After seeing my attempt at the heart cake in February, the Man decided I needed to try my hand at a strawberry-lemonade cake.  I followed pretty much the same process, making my layers out of lemon cake and making a few strawberry cuppies for the filling.

I was sure to freeze the lemon layers, and proceded to cut a hole out of the center of the two middle layers.  I scooped a circle out of the bottom layer, still leaving enough to keep the cake whole at the very base. 

I was careful to only frost the layers on the outside of the cylinder and then it was time to make the filling.

A little cream cheese frosting and some strawberry crumbs later...
If you notice, there is a can of cream cheese frosting in the background-- no home-made frosting for this cake.  I was baking at about 1:00 in the morning, and "from scratch" was no longer in my vocabulary!
I added a quick crumb coat.  It also helps to hold an extra-moist cake like this together.

The outside wasn't too pretty, I was playing around with a new technique and ran out of frosting.  Besides, I had a few hungry gamers to feed.

It turned out alright.  It could use some refining, but not too bad for throwing something together out of leftover batter.
The "menfolk" seemed to enjoy since there wasn't much left the next day. Sometimes, that's better than a perfectly frosted, beautiful cake anyway!

Saturday, April 16

baby bundt bites

My friend Casi needed some baked goods for a fundraiser a while back.  It was decided that my standard cupcakes wouldn't fly (too messy, hard to package individually).  Instead, I decided to experiment with my new mini-bundt pan that I posted about here.

This time, I tried Sassy Grandma's lemon cake and my strawberry cake.  I usually use both of these batters for cupcakes, or even a full size bundt with a glaze so I had high hopes.

After baking and freezing the cakes, I sliced them into small bite-sized pieces.
I managed to get about 40-50 slices per cake.
The cake is pretty dense and moist, so I had to cut it while it was a cold as possible to keep the slices clean and the cakes from falling apart.
After cutting and separating all the pieces, I placed them 4-6 in a bag and tied with a little color coded tag and some thick white ribbon (found at IKEA).

I managed to get about 30-40 individual bags out of 3 mini-bundts. 
I simply piled them into a basket (of course!) and sent them on their merry way!
I think it turned out pretty cute and seemed to work great in a bake sale environment.  It's a good way to donate something a little different from the usual brownie/cookie fare.

Plus, there was extra batter set aside for a special surprise for the Man.  More details on that later.

Saturday, April 9

cookbook mania and fun freebies

A little while back, it was time for the Auburn Public Library's semi-annual book sale. That same Saturday was the Lee County Junior League  rummage sale.  Both turned out to be a hotbed of cookbookery.

Dear Mother picked up a Southern Living and some Martha for me (for which I am ever-so-grateful).  I managed to wrangle a fun read from Heloise, two Hungry Girl guides, and my favorite find yet.
Candlelight and Wisteria was published as a fund-raiser when I was in middle school.  It has some of my favorite local recipies and a lot of personal history (Dear Mother helped to compile everything, I can remember her attending numerous "cookbook planning meetings.")

I also had a few fun surprises come through the mail! I am a big fan of free samples (or really most anything that's free) and Target had a few good deals going on.

First I signed up for this cute makeup bag which was loaded with lip balm, lotion, shampoo and coupons.
I also signed up for a free sample of the Purina One Beyond cat food.  Currently our two kitties eat Purina One "Sensitive Systems" (my big orange baby has a terrible tummy).  I kept getting coupons for beyond but I wanted them to try it before I buy it.
Try it they did.  If you can tell from the blurry picture above, someone decided to have a taste.  I found this bag on the kitchen floor with multiple puncture wounds (and two fat cats close by).

Have you gotten anything free (or really cheap) lately?  Do your pets eat fancy food too? I hope I'm not the only one....

Saturday, April 2

urning a living

On a recent yardsale trip, I came across two black planters looking a little worse for wear.  I had been wanting something a bit more substantial than my standard clay pots to flank the front door.  These had potential, and the price was right (under $5 for both!).

One needed a little doctoring due to a huge crack running down the side.  A little bathroom grade paintable caulk and all is well.

Both had some wear, the paint was chipping and each had a few dings.  I didn't want to get too agressive with the cleaning, since I wasn't sure of the material these were made of.  I just used a rough sponge and some hot soapy water to give them both a good bath.
After everything dried, it was time to give them a fresh coat of paint.  Again, since I wasn't sure of the material-- I picked up some Rustoleum Universal paint in a black hammered texture. 

Rustoleum Hammered Texture Universal in Black-- about $6 at Home Depot
I thought the texture might help to cover any flaws that a gloss coat could potentially highlight.

After a few quick coats and about 4 hours drying in the sun, it was time to put my new urns to work.
I really like them framing the front door. Not too shabby for an $11 investment!
  I'm hoping to eventually paint the front door (as well as our shutters) black.  I'd also like to upgrade our welcome mat to one that is a little bit better to scale.  In time...

For now, I just need to decide what to plant in them.  I keep hoping to find a hardy plant, that is about 3 feet tall, and not too leafy. Our entry is somewhat narrow, and I don't want anything to sprawling that could annoy the Man.  I like the look of evergreens, but I don't want it to seem Christmas-y year round.

Any suggestions?