Friday, July 6, 2012

July 4th: Cake and Fireworks

As mentioned earlier, the 4th of July is my birthday. Cake and fireworks are ALWAYS a part of the celebration. However, this year was a little different. This year was a milestone year for me, I turned 30. I wasn't really sure what to think about it. However, my daughter started my day off with some encouraging advice that put a spring in my step and a song in my heart! The exchange went  little something like this:

Daughter: Good morning birthday girl.
Me: Thank you sweetie. Good morning to you
Daughter: (singing) "Happy birthday to you....happy birthday to you...happy birthday Mommy...happy birthday to you." How old are you Mommy?
Me: 30 baby
Daughter: Ok let's clap to 30 (I think this is something they do in school when a friend has a birthday, but they are between the ages of 3-5. Not a lot of clapping needed.)
Me: Oh, um, ok
Daughter: (clapping and counting) 1, 2, 3,...........23 Wow Mom, this is a lot!
Me: Yeah baby it is
Daughter: 23, 24, 25, 26 ,27, 28, 29, 30! Happy birthday Mom

Then I hid under the covers for the rest of the day. Later she sang and clapped for me again, was she taunting me? Oh and to top it off, my husband decided to get in on the action this time.

Daughter: (clapping and counting) 10, 11, 12
Husband: Are your hands burning yet? That sure is a lot of clapping.
Me: *raspberry*

So to commemorate my "oldness" we had cake with fireworks. I bet you were expecting some fancy outdoor firework shots or something. Nope, not this time. The bountiful candles on this cake, when lit, offered a pretty shocking show all by themselves. You know there are a lot of candles on your cake when your husband says, "We should have figured out a better approach to lighting these. I am getting burned, there is wax on the cake and several candles still aren't lit."

I hope you had a safe and happy 4th full of family, friends, fun and fireworks! 

P.S. For my next birthday we are sticking to outdoor firework shows and I am buying the candles that are shaped into numbers.

Happy Baking,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

4th of July: Ice cream

As mentioned in my last post, I am devoting a series of blog posts to my favorite 4th of July treats. We have already covered the drinks so now we move on to my next favorite, ice cream.

I recently found this recipe in a random magazine I was flipping through. With a few little tweaks I turned it into an ice cream ready for any 4th of July celebration, or any day of the week! The best part, it doesn't even require an ice cream machine!

Cheesecake Ice Cream:
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 14oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2c of fresh fruit, chopped (I used strawberries and blueberries)
  • 3 graham crackers, crushed
Combine first four ingredients into a mixer. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a container and put into freezer for up to 4 hours, or until mixture becomes solid.

Removed container from freezer and put mixture into bowl and add fruit and crushed graham crackers. Mix with spoon until combined. Put mixture back into container and freeze for up to 8 hours or overnight.

Happy Baking,

4th of July: Patriotic Granita

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. Not only because it is my birthday, but because everyone is so patriotic and comes together to celebrate America. I am a big sucker for creating red, white and blue treats to share on the 4th. From chocolate covered strawberries to cookies, I have tried all sorts of things. This year I want to focus a series of posts on a few things that I believe are staples of July 4th:
  • Drinks
  • Ice cream
  • Cake
  • Fireworks
In this post we will focus on a tasty patriotic drink, watermelon granita. I saw this on one of my favorite food sites, The Pioneer Woman, last year and it was a big hit the first time I made it. So go out and buy a watermelon so you can make some for your 4th of July celebration.

Watermelon Granita:
  • 8c of watermelon chunks (seeds removed)
  • 1/2c of sugar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Blue sanding sugar
Put watermelon, sugar and lime juice in a food processor and pulse untile it becomes liquid. Pour mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish and cover. My dish has a tupperware lid that goes on top. Put dish into freezer for 4-5 hours until liquid is frozen.

When ready to serve wet the rim of a glass and dip it into blue sanding sugar. Chop up the granita and spoon it into cup. Serve immediately.

NOTE: For those looking for an "adult drink" add vodka to taste before serving. Try to use vodka that has been in the freezer so it doesn't melt the granita.

Happy Baking,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Police Academy

My little sister was one of TWO girls to graduate from the Wharton County Police Academy yesterday. We all are so proud of her for completing such a challenging program. After all, did you get pepper sprayed, tazed or have to clear buildings when you went to school?

Here are some shots from the big event.


However, no celebration would be complete without cupcakes right? Right. I knew I couldn't whip up standard 2012 graduation cupcakes, police don't wear graduation hats. I Googled police cupcakes and didn't find much. Then I decided to make chocolate shields. It also just so happened that "Congrats Anna" was twelve letters, and I had twelve cupcakes.

After dinner everyone dug into the cupcakes. My sister's best friend asked for a second, not an abnormal request. Then she did something none of us were expecting...

It is all fun and games until someone gets cupcake on their face!

Happy Baking,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

To Mom, with love...

Mother's Day, that special day when Mom gets acknowledged for all of the hard work and sacrifices she makes for her children/family. Before I was a mom I never really understood the holiday, but now that I am a mom I think this should be a monthly event. :)

A client asked me if I could whip up some cupcakes for her to give to her mother this Sunday. I agreed and told her that I had the perfect design in mind. These cupcakes give the gift of flowers, chocolate and something handmade all in one package! Perfect.

You can't let these cupcakes go into any old boring box. So I shopped around and found this adorable cupcake box at my local Hobby Lobby. I added curly ribbon to fancy it up, and to keep little fingers from stealing mom's cupcakes!

The client was delighted when I delivered the cupcakes to her. I hope that her Mom enjoys them. If you are interested in making these cupcakes for your mom, here are the instructions:

  1. Prepare a batch of your favorite cupcakes. I used vanilla.
  2. Top them with a blob of butter cream frosting. I used a tip that had a large round opening at the bottom. You could also just snip the end of a piping bag for same look.
  3. Purchase melting chocolates for the daisies. I recommend sticking with white and yellow for the center and outline. It is up to you what color daisy you want. A mix of pink and purple would be pretty too.
  4. To make the daisies checkout this posting from Bakerella.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mom's out there. Being a mom is a tough job. I think this cartoon sums it up pretty well:

Happy Baking,

Shark Party

My friend's son celebrated his 6th birthday today with a swim party. Not just any swim party, a shark themed swim party! Pretty cool huh?!? When she asked me to make his cupcakes I knew they were going to be fun. After all you don't see many shark cupcakes swimming around...

I whipped up my go to vanilla cake and topped it with aqua buttercream. I used a 1M tip to give it the wave look. To make the shark fins I traced a fin shape onto grey-blue card stock. After cutting each fin out I attached it to a toothpick with tape.

The cupcakes were just about the only thing that could get the kids out of the pool. After the cupcakes were handed out I saw one kid swimming with his! However, I was able to snap a quick shot of the birthday boy enjoying his cupcake before he dove back in. Yes, he is wearing shark swimmies! :)

Between swimming in the pool and taking a turn on the inflatable shark slide, these kids had a ton of fun. If you are interested in spicing your next swim party up, consider making it a shark theme. They even have cute invitations.

Available at
Thanks Kristin for letting me be a part of the celebration, and happy birthday Ian. I hope you enjoyed your party, and your cupcakes.

Happy Baking,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Banana Nut Muffins with Nutella

I was browsing some of my favorite blogs today and I happened upon this yummy posting by Bake at 350 , Nutella-filled Banana Muffins. I ran to the kitchen with my laptop to do an ingredient scan and I had everything, score.

I whipped these up for dessert tonight.  If they last overnight we might even get to eat some for breakfast! Not likely, but we can hope...

Banana Nut Muffins with Nutella

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 medium bananas, mashed
1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 regular size muffin tins with liners and lightly spray with cooking spray (this will keep the muffins from pulling away with the liners). Set aside.

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

With and electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the egg, mashed banana, and milk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed.

With a spatula, gently stir the walnuts and dry ingredients into the wet. Divide the batter into the 12 muffins tins. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  

Spoon Nutella on top of each muffin and sprinkle additional walnuts on top. 

Happy Baking,

Recipe adapted from Bake at 350: