Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birthday Cake Project - the castle

Yummy note: A few months back, my daughter Alicia, aka my sous chef, turned the big 5! In preparation for her birthday we had discussed what she wanted for a party, who to invite, etc.. Alicia had many visions and definitely knew what she wanted for her 5th birthday party. She wanted a party at "Monkey Joe's with her friends with and a pink and purple castle cake with a royal coach" and if that wasn't enough, oh yeah, "and cookies, too" - whew... now that was a big endeavor for It's Yummy to My Tummy to take on.

*Keep in mind, at this time, I had a beautiful little 3 month old baby at home to contend with too! I was for sure in panic mood, so I called in reinforcements for a day and my mom made a trip in to help watch the kiddos. Thankfully, it all went off without a hitch and the day went wonderfully. A beautiful castle cake made it to the party and cute little sugar cookie pops were set up in a little bucket for the kiddos to take as a favor to go home. It was a success! I got so many rave reviews of the cake, and compliments almost in disbelief that I made the cake and didn't just buy one instead.  So, I don't really have any new recipes to post for this blog entry other than to give you some inspiration for cake building and a castle or princess themed birthday.  For the frosting, I used this recipe which held up rather well in the heat that weekend.   I cheated a bit and used boxed cake mixes, and bought some ice cream cones for the castle pillars, which I then decorated with frosting and dipped chocolate.

If you have any questions about the set-up or what I did for her cake, please feel free to leave me a comment and I'll gladly try to give you a few insider tips ;)

I loved my cookie pops!

Sugar cookie pop favors!

Happy birthday, my sweet girl, Alicia. I'm glad mommy could make your dream birthday castle cake come to life :)

The Happy Birthday Girl

Saturday, August 27, 2011

soda pop jello salad

Yummy note: This is a super easy jello salad that doesn't take too long to make. We make it a lot for bigger family gatherings as it is a quick thrown together side salad and is usually a crowd pleaser. It sets up nicely and isn't too "jiggly" as the Cool Whip makes it more of a thicker, yet fluffy salad. I use the word salad, however, it might be considered more of a dessert, either way, it is a nice and fruity addition to any meal.

Soda Pop Jello Salad

1 can flavored soda pop (I used Hawaiian Punch but any fruit flavored soda pop will do)
1 can of 7-up/Sprite (or Lemon-Lime flavored soda pop)
2- 3 ounce packages of Jello (same flavor as the soda pop) (orange, strawberry, raspberry, and lime have worked well in the past)
1 small container of Cool Whip - thawed
*optional add-ins: a cup or so of berries, fruit, or fruity marshmallows

Yummy tip: If you can not find cans of soda pop, and you use bottle soda instead, remember a can is 12 ounces so you need about a 1 1/2 cups of pop.

Bring flavored pop to a boil. Pour over the Jello in a large bowl to dissolve.

I made the mistake of almost not using a large enough bowl and almost had overflow, so go bigger or be prepared for a mess later ;) Once stirred together, add the can of 7-up and let the bubbles settle a bit and stir.

Pour into a bowl and put into refrigerator until slightly thickened. This is honestly the hardest part, as I sometimes forget about it and get busy and then later when I check on it, it starts to set up just a bit too much. If it happens it is ok, it still works, you will just have to whip the Jello up a bit before putting in the Cool Whip. Once you have achieved the slightly thickened gel in the refrigerator, fold in the Cool Whip until incorporated well. For added yummy flavor, I will often fold in some additional fruit into the Jello salad at the end. Let salad chill for couple hours to set before serving.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cake Pops

Yummy note: 
So another month has passed us by and this is my 3rd entry for the Secret Recipe Club. I was assigned to a blog by the name of Nomnivorous this month. The Nomnivorous blog is brought to life by a young lady in her twenties by the name of Emily. Emily has many stories and recipes to try out, plus you'll see how much she appreciates a variety of different foods. Looking through different blog posts, Emily talked about how she grew up on "damn good jams," and honestly, I did too, as my aunt always made some amazing rhubarb jam every year. I also almost went for the corn polenta recipe route due to how amazing the sweet corn is right now in season, but my other sweet tooth kept calling for another sorts of sweet... So back to the sweets, Emily mentioned she loved sweets and vanilla, so I went for the vanilla cake pops. I've done cake balls in the past but I thought this revamped post by Nomnivorous was perfect chance to update my recipe making some cake pops without a boxed mix! The finished product was such a hit at the party I took this too, all the kids and adults loved them!  

Cake Pops

Recipe from Nomnivorous - Nix the Mix Funfetti Cake Recipe

2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 cup milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites (about 3/4 cup), room temperature
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
1/4 cup sprinkles (Nomnivorous suggests you use long sprinkles, not round for best results)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your 9x13 or 2 of the 8x8 cake pans) with nonstick cooking spray, and then dust the pans with flour. Pour the milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract into a small bowl and mix a bit. In another bowl, stir together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Next, add the butter into the flour bowl mixture and continue stirring until there are no big clumps, should just have like a crumbly texture. Add all but about a 1/2 cup of the liquid mixture to the flour crumbs and stir until well -moistened. Add in remaining milk mixture, along with the sprinkles, and beat for 30 more seconds. Pour evenly into prepared cake pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick to test comes out clean.

Let the cakes rest in the pans for a few minutes and then flip onto wire racks to cool. At this point you could start breaking up the cake for faster cooling. While cake is cooling prepare your 2 cups of "glue" for the cake pop treats!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
14 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, slightly softened
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp (yes, that is not a typo, a tablespoon, not teaspoon) vanilla extract
pinch salt
4 tsp milk

Cream the butter until fluffy in appearance, and start adding in the powdered sugar, a little bit at a time so you don't get a big powdery mess!  Then, add the rest of your ingredients and stir for another couple of minutes until the frosting becomes nice and smooth. Place frosting in the refrigerator at least 15 minute to help set up before using in cake pops.

How to Assemble the Cake Pops
Take the semi-cooled cake and break it up into chunks and begin to crumble. Cake should be fully crumbled before you begin adding in your frosting. Next, add atleast half of your frosting to the cake crumbs, incorporating them well. I used my hands for most of this part, but a spoon will work ok also. You really need to feel how wet the cake mixture is, as you do not want it fall apart while making the cake balls. Continue to add more frosting until a good consistency has been reached, so you can form a ball. Once you form the cake balls, (note this recipe yields about 50 or so cake balls), place them into the freezer to set. Next, melt some chocolate chips or candy melts slowly so they do not scorch, and dip the end of the lollipop sticks into the melted chocolate and insert sticks about halfway into the cake ball.  Then let the cake pops rest again in the freezer so that they are solid. After this last freeze, dip the cake ball into the chocolate and finish with a swirl to get the extra coating off. Quickly, add your "pretty sparkles" as my daughter called it to finish the cake pops.
Extra Yummy note: A nifty little trick is to create like a cardboard base or styrofoam structure to stick your pretty cake pops in to dry. That way they dry beautifully with no flat sides!   I really loved the texture of how these cake pops turned out. The moistness and flavor closely resembled the cake pops from "that place mommy gets her coffee from," aka Starbucks :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ridiculously Easy Raspberry Jam

Yummy note: Alright, I can't believe I'm doing a post about a jam or a jelly, seriously all canning really scares the c-r-a-p out of me. Canning seems intimating to me, almost similar to the cooking a whole chicken fear I had, lol. Many blogs out there are featuring lots of canning, it seems like the latest rage by some, even though many of my older relatives have been doing it forever! Ok, back to the jam, I was spoiled with homemade jams and jellies quite often growing up, so when a friend from high school mentioned the other day she made this super easy jam, I immediately was like "give me the recipe, Breanne, please!"  And so here it is.. Yes two ingredients, that is it, I thought she was kidding. I didn't have the 4 cups of berries, so I cut the original recipe in half. So even if you are not an experienced canner, similar to myself, don't fear, try out this awesome easy jam recipe. You'll love the intense flavor, not to mention the fact that you know what is exactly in that jar of jam you are enjoying. 

Ridiculously Easy Raspberry Jam

2 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups sugar

A tip the original recipe suggests is to heat the sugar up a bit before adding it to the fruit, as the warm sugar dissolves better.  So, do to that, pour your sugar in an oven-safe pan, and place in a 250 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Next heat up your berries in a large saucepan on the stove. Bring the berries to a full bubbly boil under a careful watch, mash them up as they cook, so that they don't stick on your pan. Stirring the berries constantly, bring to a hard boil. Next, add in your warm sugar to the squished berries and return to another boil. This last boil will last about 5 minutes or so, until it starts getting thicker. Honestly this is the toughest part of this jam! I wasn't really sure on how to gauge this "gel" state as the recipe called for, so you can refer here for some good tips. After your fruit mixture hits the gel state, pour into your jars for storage. I did not do any canning/processing on my jars here, as it makes a smaller batch, and I don't anticipate this jam lasting for more than a few weeks around our house :)

So....yeah, even if you do get into a jam with your jam, haha...  it is ok... So what do you do with the goo??  So I obviously ended up cooking the jam for too long and ended up with more of a fruity VERY sticky goo after it started to chill a bit.

Yeah, it was really sticky as you can see here, holding the jar upside down for a bit didn't phase the gooey jam one bit. 

You can revive the jam by putting your jam back into a saucepan and heating it back up a little bit, while adding a couple tablespoons or so of water to the jam to get a smoother thinner consistency again. whew..we have that gel again for yummy jam! So not all is lost. The recipe here ended up making 2 little 8 ounce jars of jam, perfect one for refrigerator and one for the freezer. :)

The original jam recipe was located on this site: