Valentines Day Fondant Cakes

SAM_2986

Author: Cassie Stevens

I love how a good idea can consume me and keep me busy for days. I am a very creative, artsy kind of person and lately my outlet has been cakes.  I am learning how to use all my new fondant tools, so practice makes perfect. This cake I wanted to try fondant flowers on for size.  They say you are your own worst critic, and I can see all the flaws and how it could be better but these are the first three flowers I have ever made and they were cake worthy, so I had to use them.

SAM_2976Now, I know the petals still look a little thick, but I’ll get there. I think I did pretty good! 🙂

This is a red velvet cake on top and a chocolate devils food cake on the bottom with a marshmallow fondant shell and buttercream icing. Very delicious! So naturally I posted it up on my Facebook page to show it off. My Aunt seen it and wanted to send a cake just like it to her step-daughter Tiffany who has a Valentines Birthday (how cool is that).

I gratefully accepted the opportunity and looked forward to learning how I would ship a cake Via mail through a few states without ruining my work. So I made another cake just like it (a little different).

SAM_2992They both were very fun to make. This one went very fast though (because I knew what I was doing already).

So I boxed it up in a cake box, then reinforced it the best I could so it wouldn’t move.

SAM_2993The cake board was hot glued in place in the box and the cake itself was stuck with icing onto the cake board. Then this box was closed up and placed inside of another box and cushioned with about a billion tied up plastic shopping bags to cushion the box inside.

There was a note:

SAM_2996Awww……how nice!

I loved it simple and perfect.

I shipped the cake 2 day USPS as fragile and it arrived in perfect condition she said and of course she loved it. Tiffany told my Aunt that she was throwing out all the other cakes she got for her birthday and keeping this one. It was the best! YAY! Sucess ❤ it!

Nailed it! Now, I have some experience shipping cakes. I can’t wait to open my bakery!

SAM_2990

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Mistake Cake (or Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Breakfast Cake)

This morning my girls (very adorably) demanded pancakes for breakfast. So I took out my trusty pancake recipe and started mixing.

Problem. I used baking SODA instead of baking POWDER. But then, I added the baking powder, and, oh my goodness… I tried one pancake and it didn’t work. It just fell apart all over the place. It also tasted like baking soda. Blech!

Here’s something you probably already know about me by reading my posts; I can’t waste anything – especially food. So I tried to salvage it. I thought it probably wouldn’t work, but I had already messed it up, so what the heck, right? To my left was a baggie of ready-made oatmeal – my version of the instant packages. It had oats and raisins, some sea salt, and cinnamon/nutmeg. I keep these made up and ready for my husband to grab in the mornings. All he has to do is add a cup of water to quickly make a healthy breakfast for the girls. I poured that in the mix. Then I wanted something else. I couldn’t put my finger on it! Looking in the fridge I saw some apple butter looking kinda lonely. I chucked it in, stirred it up, and hoped for the best.

40 Minutes later…

Mistake Cake (or Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Breakfast Cake) ::Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals BlogWell, hey, it worked! I made a beautiful little breakfast cake! It’s also pretty healthy. Yay!

Without further adieu…

Mistake Cake (or Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Breakfast Cake) ::Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog

Mistake Cake (or Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Breakfast Cake)

Ingredients:

2 Cup spelt flour

1 Cup rolled oats

2-4 Tblsp coconut sugar (depending on your sweetness preference)

1 tsp nutmeg and/or cinnamon

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

2 Cup whole milk

1 Cup applesauce (I used apple butter!)

4 Tblsp melted butter

2 Tblsp melted coconut oil

2 large eggs

1 Cup raisins or other favorite dried fruit (optional)

Directions:

Mix everything together however you want with a mixer. It doesn’t really matter what order because I totally “invented” this by messing it up. Pour into a well-greased pan.* Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mine was an oval pan. You can use this handy conversion chart to check the time for your pan. The chart works well for this cake. Want to make a heart-shaped Mistake Cake? Go for it! 

Have fun!

Love, Veronica

Christmas Snowball Cookies

rtt2Author: Cassie Stevens

Snowball Cookies! They are also known as Mexican wedding cakes (or cookies) and butterballs; however, they are perhaps most commonly called snowball cookies for their powdery white spherical appearance and for appearing around the winter holidays.

SAM_2731Whatever you know them as, these cookies are a tasty holiday treat.  I love making cookies around the holidays. Christmas is such a busy time of the year. Making homemade keepsake ornaments. Finding and decorating your Christmas tree. Hanging all your holiday decorations. Making homemade personalized gifts.  Cooking and baking special holiday treats. Writing and sending Christmas cards, and everything else I didn’t mention. Yes, this time of year is a busy time indeed. Even so, I always will find time to sit down and enjoy a few cookies with a hot cup of coffee or a cold tall glass of milk.

cmA wonderfully nutty and sweet little cookie. These cookies are very easy and simple to make, and simply scream the holidays. They also make wonderful gifts for anyone.  Made with only five ingredients. I start by setting out 2 sticks of salted butter to soften about a half an hour before I am ready to start. Then mix 2 cups flour and 1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts) and set aside. Then grind 1 cup walnuts in your food processor until finely ground and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar then add vanilla extract and the other dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

SAM_2687Preheat your oven to 325 F. Once all the ingredients are well mixed grab your cookie scoop. Scoop and roll each cookie and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. These cookies wont melt much so you can place them fairly close together. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.  Once cooled roll in powdered sugar and place in fridge to finish cooling about ten minutes.  Roll them in powdered sugar again and keep on counter top as long as they will last, they go fast. Or, box them up in a few tins and send them out as gifts.

SAM_2737Ingredients;

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups nuts

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup butter (softened)

1/2 tsp salt

 

Process: Preheat oven to 325 F. Soften 2 sticks butter. place flour and half of the walnuts in a large mixing bowl. Place the other half of the walnuts in a food processor and grind until fine and add to large mixing bowl. Cream butter and sugar together until white and add to mixing bowl. add vanilla and salt then mix well. batter will be stiff. Scoop with a cookie scoop and roll into a ball with your hands. Place on a parchment lined baking pan and bake for around 20 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack for 30  minutes. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool.  Roll in powdered sugar again and keep on your counter.

 

Happy Holiday’s and Merry Christmas Everyone!

Clean Eating Breakfast Cake – “Healthified”

Clean Eating Breakfast Cake - "Healthified" :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

I gave away my white sugar.

I did. It was hard. A good pound or more of it just walked out my door one day. I told my friend, “I just can’t justify feeding it to my family anymore.” She could, which was fine for me because I didn’t have to waste it.

Lately, I have been on this amazing food journey. Every step I take I discover something new about what I can do to really FEED my family. Food is more than just food. There are nutrients and anti-nutrients, probiotics, good sugars and bad sugars, good fats and bad fats. We’re not being told the real story. The good fats are actually those we have been told to avoid! Saturated fats are good! Mind. Blown.

Cue whole milk (pastured and raw if you can get it!), butter, ghee, lard, coconut oil, FAT. It’s not all bad. Of course, everything in moderation, but I want you to know, it’s ok to put butter on your veggies. In fact, it’s encouraged. Because that little bit of fat helps your body utilize many of those vitamins you’re eating.

This whole journey started with the purchase of one book. Nourishing Traditions. I recommend it to anyone who wants to be healthier, happier, and really eat well. Then I started fermenting. First sauerkraut, then pomegranate “soda”, then dilly pickled carrots… All these have helpful, tummy healing, brain boosting probiotics.

Then the sugar. So, goodbye refined, white, bleached sugar. Hello sucanat, honey, maple syrup, coconut (palm) sugar.

And this is where we get to cake. Breakfast cake.

I found a recipe that called for 2 cups! of sugar… for a breakfast or coffee cake! (Aside: You’ll have to excuse me. As a Mormon, I don’t drink coffee, so calling this a coffee cake seems odd to me. We call it breakfast cake around here.)

It called for brown sugar; but brown sugar is really white (refined) sugar with molasses added to it. You can bet that molasses probably isn’t organic either. But, here’s a cool fact about coconut sugar: It tastes like brown sugar! Score!

The recipe I read originally called for refined (not clean) brown sugar, oleo (yuck!), refined flour, and some other ingredients that weren’t so bad. But I knew I could replace those bad ones. So, without further adieu… the recipe.

Clean Eating Breakfast Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups coconut palm sugar or sucanat

1 cup coconut oil (or butter, or a mixture of the two)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups unbleached flour (I prefer spelt flour and grind my own. But einkorn or emmer are also good. Read why here and here.)

1 cup of sour milk or buttermilk (Good way to use up your milk if it sours! Keep in mind, raw milk sours beautifully over time. Pasteurized milk rots. Don’t make the mistake of using rotten pasteurized milk!)

1 teaspoon baking soda

Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon together. Then mix coconut oil/butter in with your hands until mixture resembles crumbly sand. Reserve one cup for topping. Stir baking soda into sour milk/buttermilk. Add to flour/sugar/oil mixture. Stir to combine. Pour into greased 13×9  pan, and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm (or that evening with ice cream!).

The changes I made were 1:1. Everything came out perfectly. My family devoured this recipe. And I know that it was much healthier than it was in 1962 when sweet “Mrs. McCarter” wrote it in a small-town cookbook. I hope you enjoy it. Please comment and let me know what your favorite recipe was that you “healthified” or cleaned up.

Happy (clean) eating!

~Veronica

Snacktime! Halloween Quesadillas

My four year old started preschool last year and we all loved it so much we decided she’d go again this year. They go twice a week for a few hours. She’s thriving there. She loves her teachers and her friends. The best part, according to her, is when she gets to be in charge of bringing the snacks. They rotate through all the kids so that everyone gets a chance. My little monkey’s day falls on the Wednesday before Halloween. This month they are also doing colors, one for each day of the week, and of course, this week was orange! In my effort to provide healthy snacks whenever possible, I decided we’d make quesadilla jack-o-lanterns! Orange cheese, carrot sticks, and orange juice should give the kids plenty of orange to think about as they nourish their little bodies. Lemme walk you through how to make these cuties.

Snacktime! Halloween Quesadillas
~Cut pumpkin shapes out of flour tortillas.~

Hang on to the scrap pieces. You can lightly spray them with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake at 400 degrees F for 5-7 minutes, watching closely. Remove them if they start to burn. Then you have another snack for the next day! Dip them in this yummy hummus for a nutritious treat.

Snacktime! Halloween Quesadillas
~Cut out pumpkin faces. Monkey helped me by telling me what to carve.~
Snacktime! Halloween Quesadillas
~Add cheese and microwave for 30 seconds or…~
Snacktime! Halloween Quesadillas
~Toast until the cheese is melted. Let them sit until cooled.~
Snacktime! Halloween Quesadillas
~We added crunchy carrots to each bag. Orange you glad?~

Happy Halloween everyone! And happy snacking!

~Veronica

Marshmallow Fondant Elmo Birthday Cake & Treats

1385689_10153291375265134_124857747_nAuthor: Cassie Stevens

I had a lot of fun with this project..it consumed me for three days. I have a one year old daughter so EVERYTHING takes longer (not complaining). On day one I made the fondant. This is the first time I have ever made it myself.  I had worked with fondant before, but it always came in the store already on the cake then I decorated it.  I was a little nervous about making my own fondant because I have seen how it can tear apart so easily. I did a ton of research on the internet, watching video tutorials, reading recipes, and tips on making and working with fondant. Now, after making this recipe I can honestly say fondant is not hard at all. I had nothing to be nervous about. This recipe is my new favorite go-to fondant recipe, and it was very tasty too.  I had heard quite a few times that store bought fondant was very yucky (except Duff’s of course).  So I set out on the quest to make an conquer my own.

I have recently been given a large collection of cake decorating supplies by a very kind Aunt of mine.  She had taken a cake decorating class and gave me everything including the course books. Well, she couldn’t have given it all to a better person. I have been using everything since I received it all. I keep going through all the stuff and find myself saying “Man! I have everything, how nice”.  I came across a hand written marshmallow fondant recipe in her book that was very similar to those that I found on the internets, and this is what worked for me.

Marshmallow Fondant Recipe

16 ounces mini marshmallows

4 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 lbs confectioners sugar

I put the marshmallows in a microwave safe container and heated them for about two minutes or more, just until they are puffed and melted. Grease a wooden spoon, add vanilla, water, and half of the sugar and mix well. Mixture will start to harden as you mix and add more sugar. You want to mix well before you add more sugar you want it to become a stiff ball, then turn it out onto a greased and powder sugared surface (not too much grease).  Grease your hands.  Knead and work in the remaining sugar. Your consistency should be pliable without tearing or sticking to anything ( it’s easier than it seams trust me).  When rolling out fondant; sprinkle surface with powdered sugar so it doesn’t stick.

Fondant is very versatile, it can be molded and shaped or it can be rolled and cut. It is almost like play-doh.  I really enjoyed working with it. It really brought out the artistic side of myself that I haven’ t seen or felt in a while.  Next, I dyed the fondant several different colors; red, blue, green, yellow, orange, black, and I left the rest white.  I used Wilton’s cake decorating gel colorings.  I also made sure I used gloves when mixing the dye (so my hands wouldn’t stain) and change gloves with each new color.  That was all I could get done on day one. I felt accomplished after conquering my new feat. I was very excited and couldn’t wait to start on the project again the next day.  Now, it’s family time. Daddy’s home. Time to play! Time for dinner, bath time, play time, then bed time, and everything else in between in our routine of things every night. Tomorrow is another day..

536242_715569668471803_928950740_nCookie Monster Cupcakes

YAY! I’m so ready for day two, I dreamt of Elmo dancing and singing in my head. The fun has begun. Time to roll out and cut out Elmo. I did a quick sketch up of the cake layouts before I started the project and it was approved. So, I already had a print out I found off the internets that I really liked and re-sized it so it would fit on the cake appropriately. I sprinkled powdered sugar over the top of the fondant so the paper wouldn’t stick and cut out Elmo. Then cut out the white and black for his eyes and mouth, and an orange oval for his nose. Elmo is a very easy character to make. I set the assembled and outlined in black Elmo on a sheet pan lined with parchment.

The Sesame Street sign was next. I did that all freehand. No stencils on that one. Easy, again. I did Wesson’s name and the yellow outline in icing.  So, I just set the green fondant sign on the sheet pan with the rest of the pieces ready for assembly. I placed all that stuff in the fridge for a while to harden up.  Fondant will soften as you work with it (the warmer it gets).  Next was baking the cakes. Red Velvet. I cheated and used a box cake mix. Don’t judge me, it was faster. If I had the time I would have. I recently made an awesome red velvet cake from scratch for another friends birthday party. I really liked that recipe too, but that’s another blog post (when I have the time). LOL

I made a two layer cake a smash cake and about 36 cupcakes. Whew…time to let them cool…

1398377_10151997949268013_1918761838_oElmo Cupcakes too!

After the cakes cooled it was time for assembly. I iced the cake and rolled out the fondant about a quarter of an inch thick . I then draped it over the cake and pressed it all around the edges. Cut off the excess, then assembled all the rest of the cake. One cake done.

Time to get started on the cupcakes. Did I mention I really enjoyed this project? Ha  ha. Even though my hand kept wanting to give out from all the piping I did, I had a lot of fun with everything. I did cookie monster first. Added the googly eyes and the half a cookie, or in some cases just some crumbs. I ran out of store bought eyes after about ten cupcakes. So I decided to try to make my own. I rolled out the white fondant and cut out little eyes with the back of a large icing tip, then piped the black on the eyes.  Easy, again.

Time for Elmo cupcakes! YAY! The whole time I was singing with my daughter the theme song to Elmo’s world, and of course it got stuck in my head. Then I begun to despise the stupid song, as much as I love Elmo and all, anything on repeat can get annoying. Ha ha.

I started with the black smile directly on the cupcake, then I piped around the rest of the cupcake to make his fur. I added the fondant eyes, and piped the nose on with orange icing I mixed up.  The cupcakes are done Whew…Now it’s family time. Daddy’s home. Time to play. Time for dinner, bath time, play time, then bed time, and everything else in between in our routine of things every night. Tomorrow is another day.. I will finish the smash cake.

The day of the party! Crunch day…Time to go over everything and make sure it was all up to my standards. The party wasn’t going to start until the afternoon so, I still had plenty of time to finish the little smash cake. I Iced it with buttercream icing, then decorated it with a face of Elmo. Very cute! YAY! All done.

1172545_10151997950263013_331493212_oThe Birthday Boy and his Momma! Precious moments….

I spent the next hour and a half making an Elmo face card cut out of construction paper, with a written excerpt from Mamma’s favorite children’s book.

Baby’s got eyes, ears, and a nose…

A tummy and legs and ten little toes…

Oh, what a sweet baby!

Good enough to eat baby…

Sweep me off my feet baby…

❤ it!

1378587_10153294484345134_790512369_nSmash Cake… it got smashed pretty bad.

Creamy Autumn Pumpkin Soup

SAM_2073Roasted pumpkin seed garnish for a Creamy Pumpkin Soup…

Author: Cassie Stevens

I love this time of year! The colors are vibrant and warm! The seasons are changing. The weather is getting colder. I welcome the Fall with whisk in hand. I love it so much I named my daughter Autumn. I embrace this time of year and try to enjoy it as much as possible. The smell of roasted root vegetables, baked apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and open fires intrigues my soul. The need to get cozy and warm under a blanket on those cool nights your outside under the stars. As Winter approaches… I waited for this time all year, pumpkin everything.

csg-Landscapes143-GreatSmokyMountains-NorthCarolinaMy mountains dressed in their Fall colors, the Great Smoky Mountains, TN.

Every year for about the past ten years – with an exception to the year I was pregnant with my daughter – I have gone on a pumpkin baking frenzy.  I LOVE pumpkin!! as much as Bubba loves shrimp. Yeah that’s me…

gump pumpkinHa! Ha! Ha! I love it! Pumpkin everything…

I had not tried pumpkin in a soup; until now. I make pumpkin fudge, and pumpkin pie every year. Pumpkin fudge is one of my favorites, but this soup is now on my every years pumpkin to-do list.  This is a great soup. It’s sweet and savory with a creamy texture. I really enjoyed. I really think you will too.

SAM_1976Getting ready to gut a pumpkin…

Pumpkins are beautiful, and they are good for you too! You can do just about anything with a pumpkin. You can turn them into dinner, a dessert, a drink, a candy, carve them up for decorations, or use them as target practice. Enemy Pumpkins!!

SAM_1981Seeded pumpkin quarters…

I love roasting pumpkins. The whole house smells great, and I start feeling all warm and fuzzy (and its not from the moonshine). I have always used pie pumpkins for all my recipes. I was told by someone, somewhere that they were the best for baking. The smaller the pumpkin the creamier the texture, the larger the pumpkin the more fibrous the texture (makes sense). I never realized how many different types of pumpkins there are, until my recent research. I am definitely going to try a few other varieties out to turn into something even more amazing.

SAM_1985Scraping the guts out with a spoon…

I will try to post all my pumpkin recipes and endeavors that I make this year. I really want to dive deeper into the realm of everything pumpkin this year, and possibly can some pumpkin puree for the early part of next year.

SAM_1992Roasted garlic and pepper pumpkin seeds…

One of the best parts of the pumpkin are the roasted seeds. I make them as many different ways as I can. Olive oil and salt, garlic pepper, lemon sage, and even a spicy Cajun seasoning. My one year old daughter loves to eat pumpkin seeds too.

SAM_2009Pure pumpkin puree…

Sweet and delicious pumpkin puree, in its purest form. No salt, or anything  just a little water. Ready for whatever comes its way. Now, this is what I made my wonderful soup from. I have about four cups here in my mason jar. You can put this in the fridge and use it anytime over the next couple of days. I used only two cups (half) in the soup.

SAM_2059Sweatin’ the onions…

Finely dice half an onion and about four cloves of garlic. I really like my garlic so i use a lot. Put half a stick of butter in your skillet and add 2 teaspoons brown sugar, dash of salt and pepper, and cook onions until translucent.  This will start to smell wonderful, enjoy it!

SAM_2060Add 2 1/4 cups of vegetable, chicken, or bone broth and bring to a boil…

SAM_2062Mmmmm the soup is coming together…almost done…

Add pumpkin puree and one 12 ounce can of evaporated milk and bring back to a boil. Let this boil for about ten minutes or so.  Take off heat and place an immersion blender in your pot and blend, or place in a regular stand blender and blend until smooth. You are mostly trying to get rid of the chunks of onion in it. So, if it suites you better you can skip this process.  After blended, or not, cook again for about twenty or thirty minutes. It will reduce and thicken a little. I added heavy whipping cream, and roasted pumpkin seeds to my bowl as a garnish. My husband is lactose intolerant so if I can keep the dairy out I try.

SAM_2063Pumpkin soup….

Doesn’t that look so delicious. I still had a couple of chunks of onion in it, but I didn’t mind at all.  The cream added a delectable texture that was perfect.  My daughter couldn’t get enough of this soup and neither could I.  We both ate until we just couldn’t anymore. I put hers in a sippy cup with a straw, and it went fast. She is such a good eater! I have never had a problem with her not wanting to eat her vegetables (it’s more the fruit she shuns away from).

SAM_2077So there it is, before it was gone…

Pumpkin Soup Recipe:

2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

2 1/4 cups chicken broth (or other broth you wish)

1/2 onion finely chopped

1/2 stick butter

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

Melt butter in skillet, add onion, garlic, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent. Add broth and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Add pumpkin puree, and evaporated milk and bring back to a boil for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and blend with hand blender.  Return to heat, let cook until soup reduces and thickens slightly. Mix in cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve and garnish with cream and roasted pumpkin seeds or whatever else you wish. Enjoy!

~ Cassie Stevens

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