Candy Cane Sugar

27 Nov

It’s here!!

I absolutely, positively LOVE this time of year.

No matter how old I get Christmas just seems to be a magical time.

It’s not the getting or the gifts.

For me it’s just the time together.

I always try to be finished with all of my shopping by Thanksgiving,  but I never seem to succeed.

I always want to go out Black Friday shopping even if I don’t NEED anything, just to be a part of it all.

But beyond those things my main goal is to enjoy the time with my family.

To indulge in family traditions.

To linger a little longer over meals with loved ones.

To just soak up the wonder of it all.

I don’t need a lot of “stuff” to make this season magical.

I just want to surround myself with the people I love.

I also want to figure out what to do with all those candy canes that show up this time of year.

So I made candy cane sugar.

You want to know how to make candy cane  sugar?

It’s super easy. Oh so good!

And makes a cute little gift for very little money.

In other words it’s a Win, Win, Win!

Candy Cane Sugar

1 1/2 – 2 C sugar
6 – 8 broken candy canes

Pour your candy canes and sugar into your food processor. Process until all of the candy cane pieces are incorporated into the sugar and everything seems to be a uniform size.  Pour into a cute jar and embellish with ribbon, fabric or another whole candy cane if you are giving this as a gift.  It’s great mixed into morning coffee or coco.

Need another use for all of those candy canes?

Use them to embellish your favorite cake with white frosting.

How would you use candy cane sugar??

Leave me a comment and let me know.

P.S.  I’ll be posting another use for this sugar in a few days.

Microwave Caramels

15 Nov

You ever have those moments where you just feel full?

No.  Not THAT kind of full.

Just full in your soul.

I’ve had a lot of those lately.

Moments where I feel full of contentment.

Full of happiness.

Full of gratefulness.

Full of thankfulness for the life I have.

For the blessing I’ve been given.

For my family.

My friends.

My home.

My job.

For all of you who come here.

Who read what I have to say.

Who leave me nice words.

Instead of focusing on the “have nots”

Today my heart is just full of the “haves”

During this season of Thanksgiving what are you thankful for?

P.S. I’m also thankful for a super simple, but still delicious caramel snacks.

Microwave Caramels

1/2 C. Butter (1 stick)
1 C. White Sugar
1 C. Brown Sugar
1 C. Lt. Karo Syrup
1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk

Prepare an 8×8 baking dish or pan by greasing lightly with cooking spray or rubbing with shortening. Place a piece of waxed paper into the pan allowing enough paper to come over the edges of the pan. Spray paper with cooking spray or rub with shortening. Set aside.

Combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Cook in 2 minute, increments stirring after each, for a total of 12 minutes. Pour caramel into dish and allow to cool completely. I placed mine in the refrigerator to cool. Remove from pan and cut into squares. Wrap in waxed paper. I cut approximately 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 squares of wax paper to wrap my caramels in.

Store wrapped in an air tight container or in the refrigerator. (Caramels can be soft)

Orange Autumn Cake

29 Oct

Have you every bumped into someone you went to school/grew up with…

(P.S. We won’t discuss how old I must be to even be asking that question)

Maybe at the grocery store…

or Target…

or Facebook…

Because let’s get real that’s where 99% of us are catching up with people.

I love catching up with old friends.

Except on days when I run out of the house and I really needed to wash my hair.

You KNOW that’s when you are going to run into someone.

The minute you step out of the house lookin’ like a hot mess.

BAM…there they are!

I’ve had several of these encounters recently.

Luckily I’d washed my hair and looked presentable each time.

It’s nice to see where people are and what they’ve been doing.

So in honor of catching up with old friends I made us some cake.

Cake makes it clear that my waste line looks absolutely nothing like

it did in high school.

This cake uses zest and juice from fresh oranges.

It’s bright, citrus-ey, and reminds me of  fall holiday flavors.

It also reminds me of that giant box of band fruit my mom used to buy around this time every year, but that’s a conversation for a different day.

I suggest you share with friends.

Orange Autumn Cake

2 sticks butter
1 1/2 C sugar
zest of 4 large oranges, reserve 1T. for frosting
4 eggs
1 C sour cream or yogurt
1/2 C orange juice
3 C all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
2 T orange extract

Pre-heat oven and prepare 2 8-inch round pans with cooking spray such as bakers joy.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add sugar and orange zest. Using your fingers or a pasty blender, blend the sugar and zest together. This will infuse your sugar with more of the orange flavor. Add butter to the bowl and beat until creamy. About 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time until just combined. Mix in sour cream and juice. Add flour and mix until just combined. Bake until cakes are golden or a pick inserted come out clean (About 30-40 minutes). Allow cakes to rest in pans for approximately 10 minutes. Turn out of pans and immediately wrap in double or tipple thickness of plastic wrap and place in the freezer to cool. This will lock moisture into your cake. Once cooled split each layer through the middle to create 4 layers.

**A few notes. I used sour cream, but for more orange flavor feel free to replace it with orange flavored yogurt.

I made candied oranges using this recipe with the intention  of pouring the orange syrup over each layer as I was frosting the cake.  I totally forgot that step.  Feel free to do it and let me know how it turns out.  Or leave out this step all together.  The cake is wonderful without the syrup & candied oranges.

Frosting

To your favorite Cream Cheese Frosting Add:

2 T. Orange extract (replacing vanilla)
1/4 C. brown sugar (if your recipe doesn’t call for it)
1 T. Orange zest.

If you don’t have a favorite cream cheese frosting try this one.

I may or may not have eaten some of the leftover frosting directly from the bowl  because it was so good.

Caramel Apples

19 Oct

I love this time of year.

The air is crisp.

The leaves are crunchy.

I can break out the jeans, sweaters, and hoodies.

Pumpkins and apples dot the produce section at my grocery store.

And the kiddo is trying to decide what to be for Halloween.

Growing up Halloween and Trick-or-Treating was a fun community affair.

Our church had a fall festival…and we actually dressed up!!

…and guess what?

No one took issue with it.

It was fun! Period.

Trick-or-Treating also meant lots of homemade goodies gathered door to door around the neighborhood.

Things were safe then.

The little grandmas on my street weren’t trying to slip razor blades into their candy apples.

It wasn’t a successful candy haul if one of these didn’t show up in the treat bag.

One of the perks of being all grown up is that I can make these whenever I want.

A Halloween themed Bunco night gave me the perfect opportunity to indulge.

Caramel Apples

1 (14 oz.) Bag caramels, unwrapped
1-2 T. Milk
6 apples, I like mine refrigerated
Chopped chocolate, candy bar, etc. to garnish (I used a Skor bar)

Prepare a baking sheet or jelly roll pan by lining it with wax paper that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Prepare apples by removing stems and inserting popsicle or sucker sticks into the top. Unwrap the caramels and place them in a bowl with milk. **I used 2 T. and the caramel was a bit soft, but still set up nicely when refrigerated. You may want to start with less and add more if needed. Out of the package my caramels were softer than the ones I normally use. If your caramels are soft I would suggest starting with less. If you caramels are firm go ahead and add the full 2T.** Microwave for 2 full minutes without stopping. Stir until caramels and milk are incorporated. Dip apples into caramel. Place on prepared pan and immediately sprinkle with garnish.  Refrigerate to set caramel.

I’ve Been Busy

17 Oct

I know.  I know.

I’m sorry.

I haven’t really been around much lately.

I promise I’ve been cooking and taking pictures.

I just haven’t seemed to find the time to turn those pictures into blog posts.

I’ve had to make some yummy goodies for other people too.

You wanna’ see?

OK.

First I made some cheesecakes.

Then some basic cakes

And a few baby shower cakes.

Several birthday cakes.


An anniversary cake.

A cute little polka-dot number with a funky rainbow cake inside.

And…….

A

Super

Cool

Vampire

Diaries

Inspired

Birthday

Cake.

I usually post all of my cake creations over on my Facebook page.

If you aren’t already a fan you really should check it out.

I promise I’ll be posting a new recipe soon!

Pistachio Cake (a.k.a. Watergate Cake)

6 Oct

Now I know what you’re thinking….

Pistachios??

Seriously?

Walnuts? Why Yes!

Pecans?  Oh Please!

Almonds? That could be good!

But pistachios???

I’ll be the first to admit I had my doubts.

See, pistachios are my moms favorite.

So every year for her birthday I try to incorporate them into whatever I bake her.

I’ve baked them into torts…

Incorporated them into cookies…

This year I wanted CAKE!!

And not one of those cakes where the recipe begins ~ Start with 1 box yellow or white cake mix…

Aren't the pink and green just lovely together?

I wanted honest to goodness made from scratch cake!

Let me tell you.  This cake did not disappoint!!!

Up until I made this cake I didn’t think I liked pistachios, but I was wrong.

I’ll definitely be making this one again…

…and again.

Even if you don’t think you like pistachios give this cake a try.

It might surprise you.

I know it surprised me.

* I couldn’t find a recipe so this is what I came up with…

Pistachio Cake (a.k.a. Watergate Cake)

2 1/2 C Self-Rising Flour
2 C Sugar
1 C (2 sticks) Butter
1 (3.4 oz) pkg Pistachio Jell-O
1 C Buttermilk
1 T Almond Extract
1/4 to 1/2 C. Ground Pistachios
4 Eggs, separated
Chopped Pistachios to Garnish

Pre-heat oven to 350. Prepare 2 8x3in round pans. Cream the butter, sugar, and Jell-O until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks on at a time until well incorporated. Alternately add the flour and milk, ending with the flour. Mix in the almond extract. Stir in ground pistachios. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites, not to stiff. Fold whites into batter, being careful not to over mix. Divide between pans. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting. If desired split each layer in half creating a total of 4 layers.

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

6 lg. Egg Whites
1 C. + 2 T. superfine Sugar
4 Sticks of Butter, directly from fridge
2 tsp Vanilla
3/4 C. White Chocolate Chips, melted
pinch of salt (If using unsalted butter)
pink food coloring, if desired

Using the Kitchen Aid wipe down the bowl, whisk attachment, and a rubber spatula with white vinegar to remove any grease. To the bowl add egg whites and sugar. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Simmer until the temperate on a candy thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Remove bowl from heat and place onto mixer. Whip until thick, glossy, and cooled. Switch to the paddle attachment and set mixer to medium. Add butter in small cubes. Continue to whip on medium. Mixture will begin to look curdled, but will come back together after whipping. Add vanilla, melted chocolate, and food coloring. Use to frost cooled cake.

Granola Goodness

29 Sep

Some days I just feel fat!

 

Let’s face it.  I’m a girl who LOVES to bake.

So it’s pretty much inevitable I’ll have those days.

Lately I’ve been trying to eat better.

Be more conscious about the foods I’m putting into my body.

This has lead to a slight obsession with granola.

Now people usually love one of two types of granola.

Granola chunks that cling together or individual granola pieces perfect for sprinkling.

I live in the second camp.

I don’t want big chunky pieces.

I want to be able to sprinkle my granola over yogurt.

Or pour milk over it and eat it like cereal.

Even grab a handful as a snack.

I want you to enjoy some granola too!

Granola

2 1/2 C. Whole Wheat Quick Cooking Oats
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Ginger
1/2 C. Honey
1/2 C. Walnuts (feel free to substitute your favorite or mix several varieties)
1/2 C. Oil
1/2 – 1 C. Dried fruit (I used cranberries, use what you like)

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Leave enough foil on the ends to allow you to pick the foil up off of the baking sheet once baking is complete. Pre-heat your oven to 350. In a large bowl mix nuts, spices, oil, and honey. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Stir frequently during baking. The edges will brown very quickly. Remove from oven and lift the foil from the baking sheet to stop the baking process. Allow granola to cool. Stir in fruit. Sore in an airtight container.

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