Baked

cookies-n-cream-texas-sheet-cake

Another week down (almost), and another week where I’ve come home every day with both kids. Success! Such a good feeling. Each day I’m torn between wanting to take the boys out for fun activities and wanting to keep them corralled in my living room. Usually I opt to take them out, and there’s a solid 45 minutes where I am just running back and forth between the two, sweating, making sure no one runs away or gets kidnapped. They don’t quite follow instructions yet and no play area in Dallas seems to be enclosed. How do we feel about leashes? I’ve decided it’s not beneath me. It’s not.

Sometimes when I get back from a really stressful outing I like to bake something outrageous. Baking is an outlet for me. Actually not so much the act of baking, but the act of eating the batter or dough. It really makes me happy. Last week, I had sheet cake on my mind. I loooooove the Pioneer Woman’s recipe – so I made that but replaced the pecans with Oreos (duh), and the chocolate icing with a creamy vanilla icing. Unnecessarily rich and decadent, but it makes any stressful day a good one.

Recipe

  • Pioneer Woman Sheet Cake , minus the pecans and icing
  • 1.5 sticks butter, melted
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4-6 tablespoons milk
  • ~30 oreos, smashed

Bake the cake as instructed. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk (it should be a thinner frosting).  When cake comes out of the oven, immediately top with crushed oreos, then drizzle with frosting.

Teddy Bear Birthday Cake

teddy-bear-birthday-cake

I can tell you right now that one of the greatest joys of my life will be making my boys’ birthday cakes year after year. I love nothing more than homemade chocolate cake, and when I’m making one for such a happy joyous occasion, my heart explodes. I can’t wait to make them in the form of C-3PO or Batman or Sponge Bob of whoever these little guys of mine are obsessed with at the moment. And BTW, they WILL each get their own cake every year. They didn’t this year because they just really have no idea, and I personally am not in a place where I need two birthday cakes kicking around the house. I simply cannot control myself.

I’m not going to say how fast this year went because that’s a given. What has truly surprised me though is the amount of shear joy I get from these two little boys, and the strong bond that we have after only one year of life together. I can’t imagine a world without them in it. I also can’t imagine having only one of them – they are undeniably a perfect pair and my heart grew times a thousand to make room for the true love and obsession I have for these two baby boys.

Onto the cake. Just to put it out there, I am a terrible froster, terrible cake slicer, terrible artist, and I have zero patience for cake decorating. When I make my own birthday cake I literally slap on the frosting and douse it in sprinkles.  So when you consider making this cake, a) you’ll obviously note my less than perfect frosting job – but I’m telling myself that’s part of the baby theme and b) know that if I can make this, you FOR SURE can.  There’s something about my hands that just don’t agree with frosting cakes. So. I would definitely say as far as shaped cakes go, this is easy!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 8 inch round cake pans, buttered, floured, and lined with parchment (bottom)
  • 1 3.5 inch round cookie cutter
  • 1 large marshmallow
  • 2 flat chocolate discs (or something similar, for eyeballs)
  • Black gel icing (in a tube)

Cake Recipe

Frosting

  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 1-2 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted and divided
  • 1/3 cup semi- sweet chocolate chips, melted

Make the cake in the two 8 inch round pans, and let cool completely.  One will be for the face, the other will be used for the ears and nose.  Level the cake with a serrated knife if necessary.  Using the cookie cutter, cut out 3 circles from one of the cakes. One will be the snout, the other two will be the ears. Using a knife, cut off little rounded edges on the bottom of the ears so that they can lay flat against the top of the head.

To make the frosting, cream the butter and powdered sugar together. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of the milk. Add in just 1 tablespoon of the cocoa.  This will be the light brown frosting for the ears and snout. Remove about 1 cup of this frosting to a separate bowl.  In main bowl, add in remaining 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, melted chocolate chips, and remaining 1 tablespoon of milk (more as needed).  Frost the bear’s face and ears with the dark chocolate frosting. Frost the snout with the light brown, and add little dollops of the light brown for the center of the ears.

For the eye, cut two white eyeballs from the marshmallow by cutting off either end about 1/8 inch thick.  Secure the chocolate disk onto the marshmallow using a little frosting.  Place the frosted snout on the bear’s face, then add the eyes on top.  Paint on a nose and mouth with the black gel.  And that’s it! The snout tasted the best.

maple-chocolate-chip-cookies-2

I really love pancakes. So much so that I would add “being able to order the kids’ pancakes at brunch” as one of the best things about having kids. And what’s the best thing about pancakes? The syrup, of course.  My best friend, who lives in Wisconsin, has started making her own maple syrup and oh man. There are no words to describe how good it is. She sent me a jar when I was pregnant, and to this day I can’t really tell you what happened to it. Pancakes? Ice Cream? Oatmeal? Spoon? I don’t know. I finished it in about a week and it’s all one big maply blur.  (hint hint, Christa, I’m accepting more maple syrup).

So anyway, these cookies are like pancakes in a cookie. Not made with homemade maple syrup because that would be a waste, but made with pure maple syrup to give it that really delicious sweet amber flavor. I know amber isn’t really a flavor.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • ~1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla, baking soda, corn starch, and salt. Slowly mix in the flour and then the maple syrup. Add the chocolate chips.  Cover cookie dough and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.  Drop rounded balls onto baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Chocolate Muffins

chocolate-muffins

Ayayayay. Today has been a day. Any day where I have to unexpectedly take my twins to the doctor solo is an ‘ayayay’ day. There is just no graceful way to manage it. From bringing them into the building, to keeping them from falling off the exam table when they’re on their together (today I adopted a goalie stance), to holding one while helping the doctor pin down the other so she can look in his ears, to getting them dressed again, and finally to physically getting out the door on my way out. Yes generally people are helpful, but in the end I’m in it alone (when John is not with me). Also, my dad used to use the term ‘snot-nosed little kid.’ (in good fun, of course).  I didn’t really take that term seriously until I’ve had two with sinus infections for 4+ weeks. How does such a tiny baby make so much snot? The good news is my clothes do a really good job of wiping off their noses.

Onto more pleasant topics, my neighbor did the best thing in the world for me recently. She went to Wisconsin to visit friends, and she brought me back CHEESE CURDS. My most favorite thing in all the land. Honestly it was the best day.  So I finally got a chance to repay her, and I decided to make her these chocolate muffins. They’re no cheese curd, but they do give you a nice little kick start to your day.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (a little less if using regular)
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg, vanilla, yogurt and milk. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix ONLY until combined (over mixing is a great way to make dry muffins). Stir in the coffee, then the chocolate chips.  Divide into 8 greased muffing tins for larger muffins, 12 for smaller. Bake for about 23 minutes.

chocolate-chip-cookie-for-one

Yesterday I had a craving for a chocolate chip cookie so strong I could barely see straight. Does that ever happen to you? Probably not. I had also been cooped up all day in stormy Texas weather and found myself doing a lot of standing around in the kitchen. Reaching for a cheese curd, eating a cracker, looking through the freezer. But nothing was quite doing it for me so I decided to make myself a cookie. You guys, it really improved the overall quality of my day.


Recipe

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (1/2 brown and 1/2 white)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Dash vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • Handful chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a bowl, then mix in all other ingredients except the chocolate chips.  Set the oven to 350. While it’s preheating, place the cookie dough in the freezer to cool it down (otherwise the cookie will turn out really flat since the butter is already warm and will spread in the oven).  Cool for at least 15 minutes. Mix in the chocolate chips, then place in a flattened ball on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 14-15 minutes.

Patriotic Fruit Pizza

patriotic-fruit-pizza
Don’t be fooled by my artistic ability.  I was fooled momentarily when I finished
this, but then I remembered how easy it was. You can do it, too. I promise.
We had my husband’s family over for a Memorial Day BBQ, and
this dessert was my token of appreciation to all that have served our
country.  It was also a mini token of
appreciation to myself, I suppose, because I LOVE FRUIT PIZZA.
Historically I have always made my own sugar cookie crust,
but this year I have turned over a new leaf: I like easy.  I bought the sugar cookie dough (gasp!!). And
you know what? I’m going to do it again.
Recipe
·
2 Pillsbury sugar cookie dough packages (the
roll size)
·
1.5 packages light cream cheese (the type that
comes in the box)
·
2 cups powdered sugar
·
1 tablespoon vanilla
·
4 tablespoons butter
·
Blueberries and raspberries or strawberries for
topping
Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.  Unwrap the sugar cookie dough, and work with
your hands for a little bit to soften it up.
Press it into the pan, using a rolling pin to flatten it out.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until golden
brown.  Let cool.
Using a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese, butter, powdered
sugar, and vanilla in a bowl.  Remove the cooled
sugar cookie bar from the dish, and use a serrated knife to cut off the edges
into a nice, even flag. Frost with cream cheese frosting, then use the berries
to decorate.
I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend and are
recovering from your food hangover!
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