Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Drum Cake

I was asked to make a cake to celebrate my cousin Noah's second birthday. I was told any flavor and design. After burning a batch of red velvet cupcakes, I decided to forgo my original idea of monster cupcakes and make my old standby chocolate cake instead. With little time to spare, I needed an easy idea. Noah's parents bought him a drum set as a gift, so my wonderful husband suggested I decorate the cake to look like a drum. It was a great idea! It was quick and easy to decorate and I was very pleased with the way it came out. I topped it and filled it with marshmallow buttercream. As always, it was devoured by all. Happy Birthday Noah!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Baptism Cake

Our niece Rylee was recently baptised and I offered to make her a cake to mark the occasion. I made a half chocolate and half vanilla cake and topped it with my vanilla buttercream. I wanted to make the cross out of roses and cover the cake with tons of flowers, but I haven't made flowers in a long time. I'm really rusty and the roses did not turn out the way I wanted, so I scrapped my original idea and drew a cross and filled it in with the start tip instead. I then scattered some pink drop flowers on top. I kept it simple. I'm really glad I'm taking a cake decorating class next semester at school, so I can relearn how to make flowers. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

"The Pie That Won't Die"

When the theme was chosen for this month's What's Baking Challenge, I knew right away what I would be making. Who doesn't love pumpkin cream pie? Honestly, I love this pie, but I hate making it. It's not that this pie is hard to make. I've been making this pie for many years now. I just want to retire it and try something new. Every year I swear I will never make this pie again. And then I do! It's just that every year I HAVE to make this pie. My family always requests it, so I make it. I like to call it "The Pie That Won't Die." This pumpkin pie is very easy to make and quite delicious. One warning, though: Everyone who tries it, loves it.

Pumpkin Cream Pie aka "The Pie That Won't Die"
Source: adapted from Kraft Recipes

1 graham cracker pie crust
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar
4 oz. whipped topping (plus more for topping)
1 can (15 oz.) solid pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 cup milk 
2 packages vanilla instant pudding
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Beat together cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk, and sugar in large bowl until blended.
Fold in 4 oz. whipped topping and spread into bottom of crust.
In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, pumpkin, pudding mixes, and pumpkin pie spice.
Spread mixture over cream cheese layer.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Serve topped with additional whipped topping if desired.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guitar Cake

I was commissioned by my husband's coworker to make a guitar cake for her son's birthday. I was told his favorite color was teal and went from there. I made a two-layer chocolate cake using my go-to chocolate cake recipe, filled it with chocolate pudding, and iced it with vanilla buttercream. Now I make a lot of cakes. I make them and send them off and that's that. Well ever since I made this cake, I've been dreaming about it. It smelled and looked delicious. I think it was the pudding filling. The birthday boy and his family loved this cake, which made me very happy.

My Favorite Vanilla Buttercream
2 sticks butter, room temperature
5 - 6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 - 3 tablespoons water

Cream the butter. Add vanilla and beat well. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water until desired consistency is reached. Beat well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


If you're from an old mining community like me, you most likely know what a pastie is. If not, I'll give you a brief history. This savory pastry is said to have originated from Cornwall, United Kingdom.
It was a popular lunch item among miners because the filling of meat and potatoes was enclosed in a pastry that enabled miners to eat it with one hand and discard the part they held with their dirty hand. Although I live no where near the United Kingdom, pasties are popular in my community. Here in Pennsylvania, we are known for mining anthracite coal. While the coal industry isn't what it used to be, you can still get a pastie at any of the area churches' annual pastie sales.

Growing up, I disliked pasties. Most of the ones I had were dry and full of large, crunchy onions. I was reminded of pasties a few weeks ago in pastry class. We made up the dough and made a batch of the savory pastries. They were easy to make and after one bite, I was hooked. It was not the dry pastie I remembered from childhood. It was flavorful and delicious. It was so good that I whipped up a bunch at home. If you're looking for a portable (and satisfying) meal, try a pastie. 

Source: adapted from pastry class

2 pie crusts (homemade or store bought)
1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 - 3 potatoes
1/2 white onion (I omitted since I hate onions.)
1 - 2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1 egg
2 - 3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make pie crust and roll out to 1/4-inch thick. (Or open pie crust if using store bought.) Cut crusts into 4 half-circles.

Boil potatoes about 8 - 10 minutes, until slightly soft, but still firm. Drain, peel, and chop potatoes. Add potatoes to a bowl with ground beef, onion (if using), garlic, salt, and pepper.

Mix carefully with hands and form into 4 balls. Place each ball on one half of each of the half-circles of crust. Fold over sides to cover meat and crimp edges. Poke a few holes in the top to release steam.

Beat together egg and water. Brush top of pasties with egg wash. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Baked Chicken Scampi

Garlic and butter how I love thee! I love chicken scampi. When I make this dish, I usually saute the chicken on the stove top in a butter-garlic chicken broth. This time I decided to throw all the ingredients over the chicken, top it with some panko breadcrumbs for crunch, and pop it in the oven instead. Out came a buttery garlic dream. The best part of this dish is it's so easy to make. Plus it was so delicious that my husband forbade me from making scampi any other way.

Baked Chicken Scampi

3 chicken breasts
1/2 lemon
2 - 3 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut chicken breast in half and place in lightly greased baking dish.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Melt butter in a small saucepan.
Add olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and parsley.
Cook until garlic is soft and fragrant.
Pour butter mixture over chicken and top with panko bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes.