Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap Finale

So a while ago I posted about a cookie swap I was taking part in. I kept thinking of a good cookie to send that would stay fresh and ship fairly well.  I settled on my my Molasses Ginger Spiced Cookies, since they have molasses in them I figured they would hopefully keep moist. The shipping deadline was December 5 and I would check my front porch every night to see if there was a special delivery!  Christmas is all about cookies so I was very excited to see what my secret fellow swappers had in store for me.  My recipients were Jessica at City in a Jar, Stacy at What the Cupcake and Toni at Kitchen Savvy Mom. I put them in some cute Christmas boxes I picked up at Hobby Lobby.

I received my three different kinds of cookies last week and they were delicious!

The first to arrive were Browned Butter with Cherries and Chocolate. The cookies came in a cute box with a lid and some Spicy Kettle Corn that I forgot to take a picture of.  They came from Nick at Macheesmo.

The second batch were Flour less Peanut Butter Toffee-Pretzel cookies in a red snowman cookie tub. They came from Leann at Tasting While Traveling.

My third and final cookie delivery were Pecan Balls.  They came in a cute tin from Nicole at Sweet Peony.

And now the recipe for my cookies!
Giant Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies
Servings: 24
2 ½ C AP Flour
2 ¼ Tsp Baking Soda
½ Tsp Salt
1 Tbls Ground Ginger
½ Tsp Ground Allspice
½ Tsp Ground Pepper
½ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 ½ Sticks Butter, Room Temperature
½ C Brown Sugar
½ C Gran. Sugar
6 Tbls Black strap Molasses
1 Egg
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Cream butter and sugars together. Add the egg, mix well then and molasses and mix well.
  3. Mix in flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop and make 24 balls.
  5. Flatten dough balls in granulated sugar and put 3 inches apart on baking sheet.
  6. Freeze dough balls for 15-20 minutes if they seem to soft. 
  7. Bake  10-15 minutes.

This cookie exchange was soo fun!  The cookies were great and I hope that my recipients enjoyed theirs too :)  

If you are interested in the Great Food Blogger Cookie swap click HERE

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Salmon Shaped Banana Cake

I was asked to do a cake last week that was in the shape of a Salmon...yes the fish!  I wasn't sure if I could pull it off, but the customer had seen my Armadillo cake and had faith in me.  The cake was for her husband's birthday and the flavor was Banana Split.  It is Banana Cake with Raspberry and Strawberry filling sprinkled with nuts. The cake is frosted under the Fondant with Vanilla Buttercream.  I also made her some Banana Split Cake Balls, since there was enough left from carving the fish.  I delivered it this morning and she was thrilled!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

My favorite food blog is Love & Olive Oil. I have been reading her blog for about a year and half, and check it almost everyday! She always has great ideas for meals, sides and, my favorite, desserts. Also check out the pictures of her cats, they are adorable.

So today I checked her blog for anything new to make for dinner and ta da!  The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. (I know not dinner, but still something new.) I have never done one of these but it sounds Amazing and Fun!  So far over 200 people are signed up to swap cookies.  So what are you waiting for Sign Up:).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gift Baskets

I was asked recently by a friend, if I could make gift baskets filled with baked treats and Catarina Dulce de Leche. She is a realtor and would like them for her clients when they move into a new home. She needed a couple samples for the other realtors to see. Very exciting!! Mary, the owner of Catarina, and I came up with a $20 and $40 dollar baskets. We are also working on an individual size for college students or as a small miscellaneous gift.

This basket is our $20 one. The basket contains 2 fruit scones, 2 cookies filled with Dulce de Leche, 2 cake balls, one jar of Dulce de Leche and 1-187mL bottle of Sangria or Champagne.  
This is our $40 basket. The basket contains 4 fruit scones, 4 cookies filled with Dulce de Leche, 3 cake balls, 3 mini cupcakes, 2 jars of Dulce de Leche, and 2-187mL bottles of Sangria or Champagne.

Then here they area all wrapped and ready to go!

I also made some samples for the reality office, so people could try all of our yummy stuff!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gluten Free Baking

There are only two Bakeries and a handful of restaurants in Grand Rapids that have Gluten Free items. I went to lunch today with some friends and the restaurant had a Gluten Free Menu, which was nice, but not much to choose from. They only had one dessert and no bread that I could eat, but they brought out bread for everyone else...frustrating when you are trying to follow a diet.  I want there to be more choices for people when they go out to eat or get coffee at the local coffee shop.

Today I went out and bought a few different gluten free flours at Harvest Health Food. I have decided that this month I would try and bake as many gluten free items as I can!  So the first two things that I created were Gluten Free Cinnamon Muffins and Herb Crackers.

All of my GF Flours.

 I filled the regular sized muffins with Raspberry Jam and put a powdered sugar glaze on top. The Raspberry Jam mixed with the glaze but they look better that way I think! The small muffins I rolled in powdered sugar.

Look at that crumb!! So delicate and not dense.

The crackers were interesting because the dough was moist. I had to roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment. I then removed the top piece and baked the crackers on the bottom piece all without lifting the dough off of the paper. They were reealllly good and flaky, so worth the effort.

The dough had oregano, rosemary and garlic salt.

Grand Rapids ArtPrize and Samples for Catarina and LaMare Bakery

So Mary Baker the owner of Catarina decided that she wanted to hand out samples of her Dulce de Leche at the Grand Rapids ArtPrize, to get more publicity. Then I thought about it and decided that I should hand out samples for myself since that was a great idea of hers!  (During the 2 1/2 weeks of ArtPrize there are thousands of people that come almost everyday to see the art, eat and explore.)

Mary spent a week making Dulce de Leche and filling about 1,500 sample jars....yes really.  I spent about two days making close to 300 mini cookies for 120 bags to hand out. I made pumpkin shaped sugar cookies and ginger molasses cookies. 

Mary enlisted the help of her friends to help hand out our samples and it was a lot of fun!

These pictures only show a fraction of the art and people that attended ArtPrize. I took these pictures of the Bob's parking lot around 12 and at 4 the parking lot was a sea of people.

Mary filling her Dulce de Leche sample jars.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Winter Squash Coffee Cake with Dulce de Leche

  This week at the grocery store, I was walking around the produce section to see what new things I could use in baking. Since it so happens to be Fall (even though we wish it wasn't here yet) there was a huge selection of squash and pumpkins.  So I took one of each of the sweet ones: acorn squash, golden acorn squash, dumpling squash, pie pumpkin and yellow acorn squash.
  First I cut them all in half, degutted them and saved the seeds. I then baked the squash at 350 F for 40 minutes until I could poke a fork through the outer skin.  I pureed all of them together since they each have a unique sweetness and texture, which I thought would go well together. So I ended up with a gallon Ziploc bag full of squash goodness!  I also baked the seeds and ended up with a quart Ziploc bag.
  I made Winter Squash Coffee Cake today with the puree and decided it needed a little something sweet and creamy...Dulce de Leche.  My cousin Mary-Catherine just started her company Catarina not too long ago. She makes THE best Dulce de Leche...Ever.  If you have never tried or heard of Dulce de Leche now is the time, because you are truly missing out! Just click on the link above to learn more.
Anyway, I gave some of the cake to the owners at Wagin Tails and the rest is going with Brandon to work tomorrow....if there is any left:).

See how creamy and delicious the Dulce de Lech looks?!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Armadillo Birthday Cake

Yes, an Armadillo Cake!  A friends work collegues husband wanted his birthday cake to be a bleeding armadillo. I carved the body out of Chocolate Cake and made homemade raspberry filling and Raspberry Buttercream. I then covered it with gray fondant and made the ears out of gray gumpaste. I luster dusted it to give it some depth.

 These two pictures are before I put the ears on.

Car City Supercenter Sheet Cake

So for Labor Day I wanted to make something for Car City and my husband suggested a sheet cake. So I made a Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream.  I made a car out of fondant and a buttercream transfer for their logo. It was big enough to feed 60 people.

 Brandon and Bella having a lazy Sunday.
Donatello sunbathing.

Anniversary Brown Sugar Cake

Brandon and I take our dog Bella to doggie daycare twice a week. The place is called Wagin Tails and is run out of a home by a husband and wife. Bella gets to play all day outside with other dogs and she Loves it! 
The owners 10 year anniversary was a few weeks ago, so I wanted to do something special for them on their day to show how much we appreciate them.  I made a two tiered brown sugar cake, with brown sugar butercream. The bottom tier was a 6" round and the top tier was a 3" round. I accented it with baby blue fondant detailing. The brown sugar was subtle so it was too sweet.
The husband was so excited to try it that he cut a piece out of the back to try before his wife came home.  Needless to say they finished it in a day and half. 

Homemade Black Raspberry Jam

Our home is surrounded by Pine trees and Black Raspberry bushes. I forgot to take a picture of the bushes, but I was able to pick about 4 lbs of black raspberries. So I brought them inside and cleaned them. Then the question was, what now? Well make homemade jam! It was very easy. All you do is reduce sugar, water and berries...see easy!

Gluten Free Baking with Blueberries!

I experiment once and while with Gluten free baking.  Gluten free baking is hard and frustrating because there are so many different flours and starches. Also each flour and starch adds a different consistency and flavor to your baked goods, so adjustments must be made to almost every recipe.  I guess it is less frustrating to bake gluten free than to have Celiac disease. Constantly reading labels, limiting where you can eat and being careful of even touching gluten, now that is frustrating! 

 My first thing to try of the day was gluten free blueberry scones.  I bought 5 lbs of blueberries at out local Farmer's Market, they were really sweet!
 The scones tasted good, just a little dense.

 Next I made gluten free blueberry muffins. These were really yummy, just used to much baking powder so the tops sunk a little.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Japanese Blossom Baby Shower Cake

I went to California last week to visit my family. My cousin Cherise is pregnant and had her baby shower this past Sunday. I wanted to do something special for her so I made her baby shower cake and some cupcakes to go with it. Her theme was Japanese blossoms and Pink!
The cake and cupcakes were Vanilla Cake with Double Berry Filling and Swiss Buttercream frosting. The top tier was almond flavored cake though.  I used fondant to make the twigs, leaves and flowers.  My Aunt Pam and Cousin Cherise helped me make the fondant accents. I used my Aunt Cyndi's tools and advice. It was a great weekend and lots of fun!

Cherise's friend Rachel did an amazing job decorating!

My cousin Cherise and Aunt Cyndi.