Friday, May 28, 2010


One year from now I will be walking down the aisle…to my best friend and love.

I can’t wait!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My First Cake Order

A friend of mine asked me to make the cake and cupcakes for her sons’ baptism this past weekend.

After getting a better idea for what she wanted and determining that it was something I could do with my current skill set, I happily agreed. It was such a great opportunity for me to get some more practice in and as you all know I do love baking so any excuse is the perfect excuse!

I used the baptism invitation as my inspiration.

First, before we get to the final outcome, I have to show you the smoothest icing job I think I’ve ever done.

I was proud of myself.

After I stopped patting myself on the back for the smooth icing, I made the cake to match the invitation.

I had a little trouble with the cross looking just perfect (I initially used a tip that was too small for the outline and had to go back and ‘fix’ it); I’m sure most people would have thought it was fine the first time, but the perfectionist side of me wasn’t quite satisfied. But I think it turned out alright. The cross was made out of two different colors of fondant and then outlined in butter cream frosting. The names were made out of chocolate. The date and borders were also done in butter cream frosting and the side border was done in fondant.

Then I made some cupcakes. The liners I used were yellow and blue because those were the boys’ favorite colors. I bought bright yellow and blue liners because the colors usually aren’t as vibrant after the cake is baked; however that wasn’t the case this time and I thought it was a little too much. I have seen a lot of cupcake photos (in books and online) that have two liners on the cupcakes, I always thought it was kind of pointless. However, in this case I gave it a shot to try and subdue the original cupcake liners a bit so they would flow better with the colors of the cake.

The crosses on the cupcakes are fondant, some of the cupcakes had very light colored sprinkles on them and some were just the butter cream…I thought it would be good to have a variety.

When I was all done, I boxed them up.

I need to find a large box that has cupcake holders included, because my handmade version didn’t work so well.

Then I delivered them to the party location and set them up.

I think they turned out pretty well!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Days

Last week I enjoyed a much needed night of relaxation and fun. A friend and I met for a lovely dinner and then headed over to the Relish Cooking Show and Expo with celebrity chef Jon Ashton.

We got there early so we could reserve our seats and check out all the booths. One of the booths was giving free five minute sample massages…heavenly!

I was not all that familiar with Jon Ashton before the show, but I am now a huge fan. He was so hilarious and entertaining, we laughed all night long. It really should have been advertised as a comedy show that incorporates cooking.

Jon has an accent from the other side of the pond and he has some sayings that are a bit different, but two of them really stuck on me: “Happy Days” and “Smashing”. I can’t do a British accent very well, but it hasn’t stopped me from using these phrases whenever I can.

My friend’s brother help set-up the kitchen for the event and during the intermission we got to meet him…yay!

And because it was a cooking show and I do love food, here are the dishes Jon taught us how to make in the midst of his wonderfully funny stories:

(Jon telling one of his funny stories.)

After the show, we bought the Relish cookbook and had Jon sign it!

I had a smashing time! I really hope the Relish show comes back to the area again next year.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Party Post: Adorable Ladybugs

For my very first party post, I have a fabulous party to share with you!

Saturday was my friend Tiffany’s little girl’s 1st birthday party. She went all out; it was amazing how much time and love she put into every single detail to make this party perfect and special for her daughter.

Take a look, she did a wonderful job!


As you can see, she even made return address labels on the envelope to match the invitation.


So cute!

Everyone could take home a little ladybug.


Balloons always make a party more festive.


So fun!

I didn’t get a picture of the food table, but she made everything herself, including Pioneer Woman’s Jalapeño Poppers (they were gone in a flash)! Tiffany also loves Pioneer Woman…it’s why we’re friends…not really, but it helps :)

Remember my grass cupcakes? Well, my talented friend made ladybug tags to match the rest of the party décor.

Right before the party started I added in the ladybug picks and stuck on some of my pink royal icing flowers. Aren’t they cute?

If you thought the cupcake was cute, wait until you see the cakes Tiffany made. Adorable!

Almost done.

Done and beautiful!

The little ladybug for the birthday girl. Super Adorable!
A big ladybug cake and a little ladybug cake just for the birthday girl. My friend did both of these cakes herself (and she’s never taken a decorating class)…like I said she’s pretty impressive.
Here are the ladybugs in the grass...aka the cakes surrounded by the cupcakes.

What a wonderful party for my first party post. Thanks Tiff!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Grass Cupcakes

I received a request for grass cupcakes. You’ll see why in the next post…and trust me, you definitely won’t want to miss it!

Back to the cupcakes…I made a batch of confetti cupcakes in green liners. We were having trouble finding green liners until just a few days before when I came across these at King Soopers:

However, the store only had one package (which does not have enough of one color for a full batch of cupcakes) and I didn't have time that day to check the other stores. But thanks to my wonderful Mom, who picked up some other packages at a different store, we were able to get enough green liners.

Then I tried out a new butter cream recipe; Extra Special Butter Cream. I tweaked it just a tad (details below). Then I dyed it green using a combination of Wilton Kelly Green and Lemon Yellow. As a reminder, butter cream colors always get a couple of shades darker as they set.

I filled a bag with Tip #233 and got to work.

These are preliminary pictures of some of the cupcakes (not the full batch), just wait until you see the final product!

Extra Special Buttercream
(Adapted from a recipe given to me by my cake instructor that she got from an old Wilton newsletter)

1 cup solid vegetable shortening (I used butter flavor Crisco, but regular would work)
1 cup real unsalted butter
2 lbs powdered sugar (~4 cups in a pound)
1 teaspoon (plus a few drops extra) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Wilton butter flavoring
8 oz whipping cream
Optional: a few drops of almond extract

Cream shortening and butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue creaming until well-blended.
Add flavors (extracts) and whipping cream; blend on low speed until moistened (my little hand mixer had to use medium to have enough power to blend the icing).
Beat at high speed until icing is fluffy.

The whipping cream can be replaced with 4-5 tablespoons of water.
For a whit/white icing, use 2 cups of regular shortening (not butter flavor) and no butter with Wilton Clear Vanilla.
The original recipe called for 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, which I did not include because I once heard a story about the salt not absorbing the colors and leaving white spots on the cake when the icing dried. I think this can be avoided by first dissolving the salt before adding to the icing, but I didn't want to risk it.
The original recipe also called for 1 teaspoon of the Wilton butter flavoring, but I was afraid that might be too much since I had the butter flavored Crisco.
The original recipe also recommended 1 teaspoon of almond flavoring, but I wasn't sure how that would taste with confetti cake so I only added a few drops for just a hint of almond flavor.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Shortcake Cake

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a huge fan of Pioneer Woman.

She posted a recipe almost exactly one year ago that I’ve been waiting to try. You're probably thinking, "a year? seriously? why the delay?". Well, it is because it probably wouldn’t be too smart if I try out a cake recipe for just the fiancé and me...the leftovers would end up with one of us and we’d probably eat the whole thing. So I wait until an opportunity arrives that allows me to share.

This past Monday was our last session of pre-marriage class and we were having a little potluck to celebrate. What better way to celebrate than cake? Plus the strawberries have been so good lately. So I pulled out the Strawberry Shortcake Cake recipe from my growing list of awaiting recipes.

The cake is a pretty dense cake, which is good since it’s covered in strawberries and strawberry juices. Yep, each layer is covered in fresh strawberries, but it doesn’t end there.

(The cake and strawberries go into the freezer for a short amount of time before icing.)

Then, the cake and the strawberries are covered with cream cheese icing. I have to say, the icing is absolutely heavenly. It makes me want to bake a carrot cake or a spice cake just so I can have a reason to make this icing again. (I may have dipped some pretzels in the leftover icing and eaten them…I didn’t want to waste it!)

The entire cake is good and the class seemed to like it. As always, Pioneer Woman does not disappoint. Although, I think next time I might try converting the recipe into cupcakes, wouldn’t that be perfect for a summer BBQ? Yum!

Here is the link to the full recipe with all of Pioneer Woman’s wonderful step by step photos: Strawberry Shortcake Cake.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Last week I made this recipe from Tasty Kitchen. Diced potatoes and sweet potatoes coated in a glaze and baked. It was good.

The only problem was it wasn’t so good to my cookie sheets. I sprayed the cookie sheets (my old ones that I don’t really use for baking anymore) with cooking spray but I may have had the potatoes in the oven a tad too long and I ended up with burn spots all over the pans.

I scraped, I soaked, I washed and I scrubbed…nothing was working. I had come to terms with my cookie sheets being ‘worn and seasoned’ – mostly because I have newer nicer cookie sheets in the cabinets I can use for cookies. But being my typical Type A 'Monica' self, it still bothered me a bit.

Then I made my discovery!

(Picture from

I had baking soda out on the counter from a baking project (I’ll post more on that later this week); as I was getting ready to put it away I saw a statement on the box, “cleans all surfaces and items” and then it listed a variety of things, one was pots. Why not cookie sheets? I’ve already tried everything else it’s not like it could make the cookie sheets worse, right?

So I sprinkled baking soda all over the cookie sheets. I let them sit for a bit (there was a tad bit of water on the cookie sheets from another failed try at scrubbing but not enough to fully dissolve all the baking soda). I used the scraper side of my dishwashing brush and sure enough all the burn marks were coming off!

I was so happy…I know that’s a little sad, but really it was a highlight of my day. And now, I’m pretty convinced baking soda can solve just about any dilemma. At least it will be one of the first things I try from now on.

Maybe some of you already knew this wonderful baking soda secret, but just in case there is anyone else out there like me that had only used baking soda for, well, baking; I wanted to share the news.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Along with spinach, one of my current infatuations is also with KIND Almond & Coconut bars. They are SO good! They taste more like a coconut macaroon than a snack bar. Yum!

(Picture from

I’ve tried some of the other KIND bar varieties, but so far this one is my favorite.

The Kind Almond & Coconut bar is:
All Natural
Gluten & Wheat Free
Low Glycemic Index (46)
4g Fiber
Non GMO & No Trans Fats
Dairy Free
Very Low Sodium
No Sulphur Dioxide

There are only seven ingredients. The fat content is kind of high, but it’s not trans fat and it’s pretty natural sources – the majority of the bar is almonds and coconut so obviously the fat is a bit higher than some of the other varieties.

You can check out the other snack bar varieties at:

I have no connection to Kind; I just love the Coconut & Almond bar and wanted to share!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Perfect Match

Some friends of ours recently had a baby. We decided to take dinner over one night. And of course I couldn’t send a dinner without dessert, so I decided to make a cake. I figured it would be a good excuse to practice my cake decorating because I haven’t done much since my Wilton cake decorating classes ended.

I used my new Wilton 8-inch round, 3-inch deep cake pan; it holds an entire box of cake mix. It was highly recommended by my Wilton instructor but I didn’t get it until Christmas. I like it because it’s only one pan to clean instead of two and all you have to do is level the top and then cut the rest in half. But, it also gave me the BEST cake I’ve ever had. It came out of the pan so easy and so perfect.

Look, no missing pieces that stuck to the pan.

Isn’t it a beauty. I probably stared at the cake for 3 minutes I was so impressed. (I know you must be thinking I’m crazy, but the small things in life excite me.)

It was a vanilla cake, but I colored it pink since they had a baby girl. (I know, shocking, since those that know me know that I despise the color pink…it goes back to me not being much of a girly girl. But I figured not everyone is as pink averse as myself and it would be kind of cute, and it would kind of match the decorations.

Note how perfectly flat the cake is…

I finally got to use the cake cutter I got for Christmas and it worked great! It was so easy and so level.

As it turns out I get carried away in the baby clothes section of the store. Those mini outfits just sucker you in.

Here’s the gift bag we got them.

What does this have to do with the cake?

Here’s the cake.

I used the gift bag for inspiration.

They match!

In order to match the glitter dots on the bag on the cake I went off to Hobby Lobby to find something that might work. I found pearl dust and I have to say I was very pleased (I used white); it was so easy to use and added just the right amount of shimmer. I can’t wait to use it more in the future.

Sparkle Circles on Gift Bag

Light Pink Sparkle Circle on Cake

Sorry the sparkly shimmer doesn’t really show up that well in the picture.

I needed more than just dots for the top of the cake, so I tried an experiment with the name. It was the first time I had tried something like this that wasn't made out of royal icing.

The name is made out of chocolate!

The cake is frosted in normal frosting. I made the dots (on the cake and on the cake board) and the pink scallop border out of fondant.

Look what else I found at Hobby Lobby….

A fun window cake box!

I have to say that the cake box made it SO much easy to transport and was much more convenient for a ‘drop off’ cake than my cake carrier.

Overall, I'm very happy with how it all turned out!