We had the mother of all rainbow birthdays this weekend for my sweet six-year-old Madison. My house looked like a unicorn threw up all over. It was epic fun. A hyperactivity inducing, spectrum spectacular. Brightly colored craziness. We had a blast. The pièce de résistance of the party was a stunning six layer rainbow cake. It was truly a sight to behold. It requires a bit of time, but is totally worth it for an awe inspired gasp from your guests when you cut it open.
I discovered the most disturbing thing last weekend. There are people who (brace yourself…this is earth shattering news) don’t like cake. Seriously? I thought my crazy husband was the only genetically deficient (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) one. But apparently, there are more of you out there. One of them is my sister Elizabeth. Yes, the Lizzy of cowboy salsa and pirate’s punch doesn’t like cake. It is just so depressing. She does like pie though. Pumpkin pie specifically. So for her birthday last weekend I made plans to cook up some pumpkin-y fall deliciousness.
For her birthday this year, my sweet daughter wanted a Rapunzel cake. She’s obsessed with the movie Tangled and her 5th birthday party was a reflection of that. I used this buttercream for her cake as well as my sons Cars birthday cake. It is very easy to work with, holds up when piping it on the cake and tastes delicious. Continue reading
My dad is the best in the world. You only think yours is, because you didn’t have mine. I love him and he’s amazing. We had a special time together as a family tonight to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Instead of cake, I made him his favorite – Banana Cream Pie. I was going to name this pie “Doren” after my dad, but he doesn’t have much in common with a banana cream pie. Aside from it being his favorite – I can’t really come up with great comparisons or interesting observations about my dad and a cream pie. So, he’ll have to wait for his signature dish for the bakery. Maybe I’m just too exhausted right now to do justice for my dad’s pie — I mean, he’s kind of goofy like a monkey, and they like bananas too. Perhaps I shall revisit the possibility of this being the “Doren” tomorrow. For now, Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.
When I asked my dad what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he responded with a gleam in his eye “I love chicken Kiev”. I’d never even heard of chicken Kiev before, so I went to work finding the perfect recipe for it. Nothing I found seemed quite right on its own however, so I ended up combining a few together and came up with this recipe.
Chicken Kiev is, at its core, just chicken wrapped around butter. Breaded. And fried. Which is probably why it’s my dad’s favorite. Also why (I’m sure) my mom doesn’t make it for him more than about once every 5 years. There are lots of variations on what herbs are used, but the important one with the distinguishing flavor is tarragon. Classic chicken Kiev is fried, but I just couldn’t bring myself to make it that way. Partly because I was making it for 12 people and I don’t have a fryer that large, but also because my dad has heart problems…and frying chicken wrapped butter just seemed too much. I mean, I wanted to make him his favorite, but I also want to have him around for many many more birthdays. Continue reading
It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything…but never fear. More deliciousness is coming.
I’ve been enjoying some family time over the Thanksgiving weekend and prepping for my dad’s birthday dinner tomorrow. I’m making Chicken Kiev, Gourmet Red Mashed Potatoes and a delightful Pear and Feta Salad (with homemade dressing…sooooo good!). For dessert, my dad’s favorite – to be called “Doren” – Banana Cream Pie. I’ve been prepping food all day today, and I must say – tomorrow’s dinner is going to be absolutely awesome. I can’t wait. My immediate family is 20 people…and I’m having a sit-down dinner complete with two forks at each place setting. Woo-hoo!
So there’s your teaser…the recipes and photos will be posted by Monday morning. Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!
It was a gorgeous fall day! We went to the pumpkin patch as a family, enjoyed the brisk foggy morning and the muddy ground. We picked pumpkins and took some photos, then it was home to prepare for Madison’s birthday party.
She turned 4 back on the 5th, but because of wedding craziness, we held of on the party until tomorrow. She requested “chocolate cake with no frosting” for her birthday. Well, that’s no fun! So she gets a plain chocolate cupcake, but I created these babies for her guests. Madison LOVES candy corn (just like me!) – actually, it’s pretty much the only candy my daughter will eat (totally NOT just like me).
Originally I was going to make a cake in the shape of a candy corn. Yellow cake on the bottom, pumpkin spice layered over the top, cut it out into a triangle and frost it to look like a candy corn. Then I thought, I wonder if I can do cupcakes that are layered, yellow cake, orange cake and white frosting. How cute would that be?! Here’s what I came up with. It was time-consuming, but they taste AMAZING. The slightly sweet almond-y yellow layer combined with the spiced pumpkin layer are great together. And the creamy rich frosting is perfect on top. Plus, they are totally adorable.
Yellow Cake (bottom layer)
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups cake flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and the almond extract. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
- Fill cupcake pans (with liners) about 1/2 inch with yellow cake batter and set aside.
Pumpkin Spice Cake (top layer)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup applesauce
1. Sift together the flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
2. Beat 1/2 cup of oil, applesauce, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl to combine. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the mixture before adding the next.
3. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.
4. Add pumpkin spice batter on top of yellow cake batter in cupcake pans until 3/4 full.
5. Bake in a 350° oven for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in pan 2 minutes then take out of pan to cool completely on wire racks. Frost with swirled cream cheese frosting and top with a candy corn.
Here’s what you’ll have prior to frosting them:
Swirled Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
- Remove 1/3 C frosting to smaller bowl. Add orange food coloring to tint slightly orange.
- Put a Ziploc bag into a tall glass. Using a butter knife, spread a line of orange frosting vertically up the inside of the bag. Fill the bag with the plain white frosting. Press the air out, seal the bag and snip a corner. Pipe frosting around the cooled cupcakes to frost.
Quick and simple, but so rich and creamy! Topped my Super Moist Chocolate Cake with this tonight! Happy Birthday sweet Maddie girl!
Rich Chocolate Frosting
1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
4-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-1/4 cups baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency.
Super Moist Chocolate Cake
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.
- In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yesterday, I spent the day at the hospital. It was a very long day. In the morning, my pastor and his wife came down to pray with my Poppa before surgery and to be of tremendous comfort to me. Pastor Phil offered to buy me a coffee, but since I don’t drink it, I declined. Then he offered a chai latte – something I’ve never had, but know is what Phil drinks. My sister happened to have just purchased one and was standing next to me with her aromatic steaming cup in hand. As I took a sip, I realized Leslie’s (Phil’s wife) description was perfect – “like Christmas in a cup” she’d called it. It was really amazingly good. Filled with holiday spices. Mmmmm. Since I have been diagnosed with addictive food disorder (I totally just made that up), I still didn’t take Phil up on his offer. The last thing I need it to become hopelessly in love with a calorie laden beverage. However, it reminded me of a cupcake I’d seen in one of my cookbooks. Chai Latte Cupcakes. I’ve adapted the recipe, made some tweaks and have come up with what I’m going to call (love you Leslie for giving me this name) “Christmas in a Cupcake”. Today was the perfect day to try them out – because it’s Pastor Phil’s birthday!
Christmas in a Cupcake
1 1/2 C cake flour*
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 C whole milk
1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 T instant chai tea latte mix
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with baking cups
-In large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and chai latte spices. Set aside.
-In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
-Add sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
-Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.
-Add innards of vanilla bean and extract.
-Turn mixer to low and alternatively add milk and flour mixture until fully incorporated.
-Using spoon or scoop, divide batter evenly among baking cups (should fill about 3/4 full).
-Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean.
-Remove from oven and let cool completely before icing.
*If you don’t have cake flour, make your own using the following quick substitution! The easiest way to do this substitution is to put 2 tbsp of cornstarch in the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup, then fill the cup as usual with all-purpose flour and level top. Repeat process to get two cups of cake flour. If you only need 1/2 cup of cake flour, put 1 tbsp cornstarch in bottom of 1/2 cup measuring cup, then fill and level as above.
Frosting & Garnish
4 oz white chocolate chips
1/3 C butter, softened
4 C powdered sugar
1/4 C milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Ground cinnamon, if desired
Using a double boiler, melt chocolate chips until smooth. Whip butter and sugar together, add milk, chocolate and vanilla and whip until fluffy. Spread frosting on cupcakes and sprinkle with cinnamon.
I think next time I make these I’ll tweak a little more and add some additional spices – some cinnamon, or maybe even pumpkin pie spice. I wasn’t sure how spicy the chai mix was going to be and didn’t want to over do it the first go round. Tasty, moist and spiced – but not quite as pungently spiced as that sip of latte I had yesterday.