Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cookies for Baby Jackson!

Jenna and I go way back to Kindergarten but soon she'll have her own kindergartener, well in 5 years.  Her mother through her a lovely baby shower but I couldn't resist having my own to celebrate my best friend and our new baby.

and I can never resist baking or the attempt at decorating sugar cookies - I want to be impressive as some of the other blogs I stalk and will need all the practice I can get! 

So Many Cookiesssssss! 
I like pretending I'm professional and using fancy boxes 
oh, and cupcakes are delicious too!
Chocolate ones with Buttercream Frosting. mmm...
Baby is obviously a boy and I can't wait till he graces us with his presence - should be any day now.  He's going to be an amazing baby, hopefully he'll take after his mommy.  For now, I'll dream up his 1st birthday cake. ;)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwiches!

Memorial Day ice cream dessert - what to make on a hot American holiday (when you're obsessed with your ice cream maker) and have a bunch of kids to serve? I think Ice Cream Sandwiches fit the bill.
Super simple, super yummy, with endless possibities


Ice cream - Strawberry & Lemon (homemade)
Cookies - Chocolate & Sugar (store bought)
Sprinkles  - American

Make ice cream according to recipe - I used:


When Ice Cream is soft, sandwich it between two cookies (I bought the cookies to make my life easier but I really wanted to make my own - but these from the supermarket bakery turned out so perfect) 
I used Chocolate cookies for the Strawberry and Sugar cookies for the Lemon

Roll the cookie sandwiches in sprinkles or whatever other toppings you'd like 

Let harden in the freezer and serve - the cookies I used didn't get mushy, they got soft and the chocolate ones, almost brownie like. These were frozen and soft and delicious and oh so cute.


Pasta & Veggie Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing

This pasta salad made creamy and delicious by the Parmesan Dressing - I ate wayyyy too much of it at our Memorial Day BBQ - but the crisp veggies make you feel a bit better about eating massive portions. yum!

Bunch of Asparagus
Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
Red Onion
Box of Pasta 
1/2 cup Mayo
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 1/2 cups grated Parm Cheese
Juice of 1/2 Lemon 
1/2 teaspoons of garlic
Few slices of Cooked Bacon
salt and pepper - to taste

Cook pasta
Blanch Asparagus 
Thinly slice Red Onion
Cut Tomatoes in half 

Make Dressing
Combine: Mayo + Sour Cream + Parmesan + Lemon Juice + Garlic + Salt & Pepper

Cook Bacon & Crumble
Combine and Serve  

If you are making in advance - I'd highly suggest saving the dressing and bacon right before you serve because the pasta soaks up all the dressing making it really dry and the bacon gets mushy.   

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Perfect Party Cake & My Step-Dad's Birthday

I really wanted to make a fancy cake for Tony's birthday and then I found this beauty - so pretty, so yummy, and still so simple.  I have to thank my aunt Kathy for lending me her Kitchen Aid, someone please get me one? pleaseeeeee

 Perfect Party Cake
from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Cake ingredients
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder (3/4 tsp adjusted for altitude)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tbsp or 4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure lemon extract

Finishing ingredients
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut


Mix it

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. 
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. 
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. 
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. 
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. 
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. 

 Bake it
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. 
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners. 
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

Dorie Greenspan then provides her buttercream recipe but I wanted cream cheese frosting so I used:
2 blocks of cream cheese + 2 sticks of butter + 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar + lemon extract


Assemble it  
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. (My cakes didn't rise enough so i left it as a 2 layer cake)


Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. 
Spread it with one third of the preserves. 
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. 
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover). 
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. 
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Add candles for the festivities 
Eat it