Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to Make an Owl Cake

Sorry I haven't posted this tutorial sooner; we've had a busy week!  We had four college students come and stay at our house for a week while they were in between semesters.  Talk about fun!  They made me feel young again, though 31 really isn't that old.  

I think it may be the five kids that make me feel old.

Oh well, I still wouldn't trade my kids for anything.  I wouldn't be showing you how to make this fun cake if it weren't for them anyway.   : )

Here's what you'll need:

1 or 2 cake mixes, any flavor you'd like (I made two cake mixes because I wanted to try lots of different sizes)
Chocolate frosting
White frosting
Any color food gel or food coloring (I went with blue for my little boy)
Large chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate)
Candy Corn (I used a caramel flavored candy corn that had only two colors)
Hershey's Kisses

Using my large oven-safe Pampered Chef Batter Bowl, I poured an entire chocolate cake mix into it, after it was sprayed with baking spray, placed it onto a baking sheet, and baked it 25 degrees less than the box instructs for right around an hour.  I used a wooden skewer to test if it was done.

The other cake mix, I divided between lots of other oven-safe Pampered Chef bowls.  Do not bake the larger bowls with the smaller bowls since the baking time will be much different.  These smaller bowls can be baked at the temperature listed on the box.  Keep an eye on them, however, as baking times will vary.

Once the cakes have baked and cooled, place them on your desired serving tray or cake stand.  Frost completely with chocolate frosting.

Using a large circle tip in a pastry bag, squeeze dots (that look like Hershey's Kisses) around the base of your cake, leaving space for the front "feathers" and eyes.

With a small offset spatula, press the spatula into the dot and pull straight up.  Continue until the first row is done.

Repeat for subsequent rows.

Keep going all the way to the top.

Here's a picture of the space I left for the front "feathers" and eyes.

When the chocolate frosting is done, repeat the same process with your colored frosting, leaving a space for the eyes.

Pipe white frosting in large circles for the eyes.  Add the large chocolate chips and the candy corn for the beak.

Finish with the Hershey's Kisses for the ears.

I continued on and made more...

...many more.  Isn't that the cutest little owl family?!

We used one of the small owl cakes as my son's smash cake.  Perfect size!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Look WHOO'S One!!

It absolutely blows my mind that my baby recently turned ONE!  I wanted to share these adorable owl cakes I made for him.

Are they not so cute?!

Next week I'll teach you how to make them.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Printed Perfectly

Remember my daughter's Rainbow Dash Rainbow Party?  All of these fabulous printables came from the amazingly talented Kelly over at Here Comes the Sun.  Well, guess what...she now has her own Etsy shop where you can purchase these and other awesome printables.

Kelly's super easy to work with and very friendly.  Check out her new Etsy shop, Printed Perfectly, as she'll be adding to it regularly.  I HIGHLY recommend her!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookie Bars

Yesterday I had a doctor's appointment.  It was with a new doctor and a new (to me) method of testing using electric pulses running through my body (none of which I could feel) giving readings of hundreds of systems in my body.  It was absolutely fascinating.

One of the results of this test showed that I have a high level of yeast in my body.  The doctor said that this can cause cravings for sweet things, which I most certainly do.  But I've always thought this was what you'd call a "sweet tooth."

He says that it's fixable.  I say, we'll see.

So in honor of my well-beloved "sweet tooth," today I'm posting an incredible recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod, of which I've slightly adapted.

Here's what you'll need:

4 1/4 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cubes (1 1/2 C.) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 C. brown sugar, packed
1 C. granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
4 tsp. vanilla
4 C. chocolate chips
20 oz. caramel candy squares, unwrapped (approx. 78 caramels)
6 Tbsp. heavy cream

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted and cooled butter and sugars together until combined.

Add the eggs, yolks, and vanilla and mix until smooth. 

Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream.  Microwave on High until caramels are melted, stirring every 30 seconds.  This takes about 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.

Divide the cookie dough in half.  Press half of the cookie dough into a large, high rimmed pan that's been sprayed with baking spray that has flour in it.

*The first time I made these I used my regular half-sheet pan which has 1-inch sides.  From now on I will make these in my half-sheet pan that has 2-inch sides.*

Pour hot caramel over the cookie dough.

 Crumble remaining cookie dough over the caramel and lightly press.

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 40 minutes or until the top of the bars are a light golden brown.  Cool bars on a wire rack to room temperature.  

As you can see, the caramel oozes out over the sides using a pan with 1-inch sides.

Kind of messy in the oven.

But they're PERFECT in a pan with 2-inch sides!

Cut off the edges then cut bars into squares and serve.

You can half this recipe and make them in a 7"x11" or a 9"x13" pan.  But for every occasion I've made these for, a high-rimmed half-sheet pan (13"x18"), is finished off in no time at all.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Stuffed Hamburger & Cheese Rolls

Every year, my mother-in-law and her sisters and sisters-in-law host a two day crafting/sewing/cooking event for all of their daughters and daughters-in-law.  They've been hosting these for the last 10 years and they are always so fun to get together with family, visit, eat, craft, and sew.

My mother-in-law's family, whom I'm so privileged to call my own, is made up of some very incredible women with so many talents.  I look up to each one of them and have learned so much from them.

Last year, many, many, many hours were put into making a family cookbook.  I have been having so much fun going through the recipes and trying so many new things for my little family.  We've definitely found many gems in that cookbook, which is not surprising to me at all, coming from such amazing women and mothers.

The recipe I'm sharing today comes from my husband's cousin's wife, Candria.  She's such a wonderful mother and a really great friend.  A note she added to this recipe says,"Kid and husband approved!"

Well, we had the same approval rate at our house.  In fact, my kids went CRAZY over these rolls.  This recipe makes about 2 dozen little sandwiches and it's a good thing too.  The kids were requesting these for lunch and dinner until they were gone.

And a major bonus is that they're EASY!  The only thing that took much time and effort was hollowing out the rolls and that's not a big deal at all.

Oh, and one more thing...I found a big bag of two dozen potato rolls on clearance in the bakery at our grocery store, so they were super cheap.  And it was no problem that they were a little stale and dry.  Adding the filling made them perfect!

So, thank you, Candria, for sharing this family-loved recipe!

Here's what you'll need:

2 lbs. ground beef
2 Tbsp. dried, chopped onion
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (I used 1 can cream of mushroom and 1 can cream of chicken)
1 1/2 C. grated cheddar cheese
5-6 large rolls or bread bowls (I used 22 dinner-sized potato rolls-the perfect size for little hands to handle)

Brown the hamburger with the onion.  Add soup(s) and cheese and stir until combined.

Cut tops off of rolls and hollow them out.  Fill each with meat mixture and place tops back on.  

Wrap each in tin foul and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  

*Candria likes to use Asaigo Cheese rolls when she can find them.  I liked using the stale potato rolls.*

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Key Lime Tarts

Here's a fresh, quick and easy dessert, perfect for Spring!  This recipe comes from the ladies at Our Best Bites.  I did adjust it slightly.  I didn't have any limes, but I did have some bottled key lime juice, so that's what I used.  

It was interesting to see that the recipe on the bottle of juice was almost identical to the one from Our Best Bites.  The only difference was that the recipe on the bottle called for less egg yolks.  So I put them to the test.  I made one batch using the recipe from Our Best Bites and another batch using the recipe on the key lime juice bottle.

Guess what we found...there was hardly any difference at all.  So if you don't have 5 egg yolks to work with, have no fear, 3 egg yolks work just as well!

Here's what you'll need:

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3-5 egg yolks
1/3-1/2 C. Key lime juice (or regular lime juice)
12 mini graham cracker pie crusts (found by the graham cracker pie crusts on the baking isle)

Place mini graham cracker crusts on a large baking sheet.  Combine the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lime juice in a medium sized bowl.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into pie crusts. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Then refrigerate until ready to use.  Serve chilled with sweetened whipped cream.

*You can make this as a full-sized pie.  Just use a prepared 9-inch graham cracker crust and bake for 15-16 minutes.*

To make sweetened whipped cream (also from Our Best Bites):

1 C. whipping cream
1/3 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients into a chilled metal bowl.  Beat on High with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (has the desired stiffness you'd like).  Serve immediately.

Monday, April 1, 2013

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Whenever I come across a recipe for chicken that's baked in the oven, I'm very hesitant to try it.  I guess I equate baked chicken with dry, chewy chicken.  Not something I enjoy eating.  But when I found this recipe for BBQ Chicken Drumsticks from Everyday Cooking Magazine, I thought I'd give it a whirl since I had drumsticks sitting in my freezer. (I have adapted the recipe.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this chicken is so good!!  The meat is so flavorful, the sauce is so delicious, and there was nothing dry or chewy about this oven-baked chicken.  Everyone that tried these absolutely loved them!  This is now my favorite way to use chicken drumsticks.  Yum, yum, yum!

Here's what you'll need:

14-16 chicken drumsticks
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 (12 oz.) bottle tomato-based chili sauce (near the ketchup at the grocery store)
1/4 C. white vinegar
1/4 C. packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard (I used Stone Ground Dijon)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Arrange drumsticks in a large rimmed pan.

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. 

Rub all over each drumstick.  

Bake until tender, 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce.  In a small saucepan, whist together the chili sauce, vinegar, sugar, and mustard.  

Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove the drumsticks from the oven and brush with the barbecue sauce.  

Return to the oven; bake for 10 more minutes, turning and basting halfway through until well browned.

And that's it!  This is seriously the best oven-baked chicken I've ever had.  So delish!!
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