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25 May 2011

Graduates, an Army Wife, and Pink Zebra Stripes...Oh My!

Oh, and don't forget to throw in a Catholic Priest who is relocating for even more added variety.

Yep, it has been another one of those weeks where the cakes are all a jumble of themes.  I must admit I had my work cut out for me on finding ways to convey a couple of them, but I enjoyed rising to the challenge.

Speaking of challenging myself - some of you may have noticed that the post is a wee bit late today.

**Please Note:  A rather lengthy explanation for my posting tardiness follows.  If you wish to move directly to the cake photos, please scroll past the next paragraph.  Thank you.

The reason is because I'm knee-deep in cake this week.  And next week too, come to think of it...  Truth is, no matter how well I plan, I just don't seem to have enough hours in the day.  I suppose I could cut out all sleeping, but if I did, no one, including myself, would want to be around me!  So instead, I just opted to post a little later today...  (Don't be surprised if the same thing occurs next week!)

**End of lengthy explanation.

Now, on to the cakes!

A graduation reception cake.  Fairly basic in its design since the honorees were from several different schools, but the grad cap and diploma were edible!

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A birthday cake for a very proud army wife. She was celebrating her last birthday at home before she and her husband headed to their new post.  This was a last-minute order, but was very worth taking on.  The top design is hand-drawn and colored.

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Another birthday cake, though this one was all about the zebra stripes and the pink!  I love the way the polka dot tier looks in contrast to the stripes, and the bright pink really makes the entire cake pop.

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A farewell cake for a local priest.  I found this design/occasion a challenge, but was happy with the way the cake looked when finished.  (I probably verified the spelling of his name at least 10 times, I don't want to end up on Cake Wrecks for mangling a name!)

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Well, I'm off to bake and build a few more cakes.  Hopefully, I come up for air long enough to enjoy part of the Memorial Day Weekend.  Hope you have a great one as well!


19 May 2011

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Asparagus

Had a few extra minutes today, so I thought I'd share the 15 minute asparagus recipe that I made back in April for our Easter feast.  Asparagus is in peak season right now...makes it the perfect time to give this recipe a try!

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Asparagus
Printable Recipe
Adapted from Kraft Foods
Yield:  6 servings
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Ingredients:

  • 4 slices ready-to-eat bacon OR 4 Tbsp. bacon bits
  • 1.5 lbs fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup ranch dressing

Preparation:
  1. Warm bacon in a large skillet, until slightly crisp.  Remove bacon from the skillet; place on paper towels to drain.  Discard any drippings, but do not wash the skillet.
  2. Place the trimmed asparagus in a microwavable casserole dish.  Add the water.  Microwave on High 4 to 5 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.
  3. While the asparagus is microwaving, add the onions to the skillet; cook and stir approximately 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in the ranch dressing.
  4. Drain asparagus; top with the ranch dressing sauce and bacon.  Serve warm.


Tip for Trimming Fresh Asparagus:
Instead of trimming with a knife, simply bend the spear near the bottom end.  The asparagus will naturally snap off at the right point, effectively removing the tough, "woody" portion of the stalk.

Happy cooking!

18 May 2011

Hodgepodge

The title says it all.  I've been trying to figure out a way to tie the cake creations from this week together neatly in this one post, but, honestly, have drawn nothing but a blank...they truly are a hodgepodge of themes and celebrations!

But, that's just the way the cookie crumbles from time to time, so even after having been unable to find a central idea, I still plan to share them with you.  Here they are, in no particular order...

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A corporate celebration cake for Oxy/Bravo Dome.  I've done several of these cakes and always enjoy them, plus, I have to say, my logo renderings improve every time.  And, yes, I did hand draw the logos and they are EDIBLE!

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Baseball themed cupcakes for a Sox and Giants fan.  They kinda make you think of summer, don't they?  Nothing like a baseball game on a warm, summer evening to help take your cares away!

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And lastly, it's the season for graduations and I felt very privileged to be able to make the cakes for this particular graduate.  I've made several creations for her family in the past and was honored to be able to help them celebrate such a huge milestone!  Both of the round cakes were classic white cake, while the "T" was red velvet with cream cheese filling.  Yum-o!

Talk to you soon!


11 May 2011

Life's A Beach!

Wouldn't you love to be on the beach right now?  I know I would.  Relaxing on the white sand, not a care or a worry in the world.  Raise your hand if you could go for that as well.

Unfortunately, I'm not at the beach, and I have plenty of cares and worries to address.  But if you're lucky enough to be there, send me a postcard!

For those of you, who like me, can't be on the beach right now, how bout a swimming pool and a deck chair?  Maybe something like this?

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Yes, it's a cake, but it sets the scene for a perfect daydream, doesn't it?  Here's a look at the entire thing...complete with a good book and an extra towel for sunbathing.  Ah...that would be the life; too bad I can't jump into the scene like they jumped into the books on Reading Rainbow...

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Well, since we can't all be at the beach or by the pool, how about a cake that's a little more realistic to the weather patterns we've been subjected to in my part of the country lately...

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Though to be honest, I think the cake has more green grass then we do right now! If you know anyone who has some extra rain, have them send it out this way.  (Oh...and I apologize for the color in this photo, it was taken well after dark, I need more hours in the day!)

Talk to you soon, readers!


05 May 2011

05 de Mayo

Today, because it's Thursday and I'm going to be visiting one of my fabulous best friends this weekend, here's a yummy cheesecake recipe for you.

Oh, and it ties in rather well with Cinco de Mayo, what with the Dulce de Leche and all...ironic how that happens. *wink, wink*

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
Printable Recipe
Adapted from EveryDay w/ Rachael Ray

Yield: 1, 9-inch cheesecake















Ingredients:

  • 12 oz shortbread cookies (i.e. Lorna Doone)
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided use
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 cups dulce de leche (or other caramel sauce)*

Preparation:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with foil.
  2. Using a food processor, finely chop the cookies, almonds, brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Add the melted butter and pulse until just combined.  Press the cookie crumb mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared pan.  Bake until set or light golden brown in color, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool.
  3. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F.
  4. Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese until softened, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the flour and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt on low speed.  Beat in the eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time, on medium speed, until just blended.  Mix in 1 cup dulce de leche.
  5. Pour the batter into the crust and bake in a water bath until cheesecake is set at the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 55 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Once cheesecake is set, remove from oven and allow to cool.  Remove from springform pan and spread the remaining 3/4 cup dulce de leche over the top of the cheesecake.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
*Feel free to use more caramel, I typically use closer to 2 cups, but I'm a caramel addict.  If you have a hard time spreading the dulce de leche on top of the cheesecake, warm it slightly in either the microwave or in a pan of hot water before using.

Happy baking!


04 May 2011

Milestones

Milestones help mark some of our best and most unforgettable moments.  
From birthdays... 

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to anniversaries...

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to high school graduations...

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to college graduations,

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they are an amazing opportunity to reflect on how wonderful life is and to look to our futures.  Rose F. Kennedy once said, "Life isn't a matter of milestones, but of moments."  True as her words are, I can't help but think that if it weren't for the milestones, we often times wouldn't stop to enjoy the moment...

Don't forget to enjoy the moments, big or small.  Until next week!