Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cake Decorating: The Final Product!

   I can't believe a month has flown by already! It feels just like yesterday I had butterflies in my tummy before going to my first cake decorating class.

   This past Monday I had my final class where we got to design and decorate an entire cake by ourselves.  I was so excited I could hardly keep myself from decorating the entire thing before I got there!!   
Here's my final cake-- 
it's totally g-free with both devils food and vanilla cake layers!
   About four days before class I pre-made 40 star-drop flowers with buttercream icing.  Within an hour they were completely dried and fairly rock hard.  I let them dry on wax paper so that it would be easy to remove them.

   Then I practiced making buttercream roses.  After three hours of frustration, I came up with twelve roses.  

   Actually, let me rephrase that:

   I produced six blue roses.  

   The Hubby produced six pink roses.  On his first try.   

   I was quite frustrated!  But grateful... it probably would've been two hours extra for me to get those pink roses done haha!

   Once I got to class, completing my cake was a cinch.  

   I added white "vines" that cascaded down the sides and piped a shell border along the base so I could attach the star-drop flowers.  

   And of course I needed to come up with a special occasion for this fancy cake!  

   Guess who's birthday is this Thursday?  Bama's!
I think she'll enjoy some buttercream frosting... she just doesn't know
it's coming yet!  :-)

I'm linking up with:

Cake Decorating Class Part 2: Cupcakes!

   Last week we decorated cupcakes in class!

   We learned how to do a "pom-pom" flower... I made a two-toned blue flower!

   We also focused on shaggy mums which are super easy and fun to make!  It looked like spaghetti as it came out of the tip haha!

   Although simple, these are the prettiest cupcakes I've ever made!  


Friday, August 26, 2011

Why oh Why a Frazzled Brain?

   As some of you may or may not know, I have been toying with the idea of creating my own home-based bakery complete with decorated cakes.  Unfortunately it is so difficult to find decent jobs out in the real world, and as a military wife that adds to the difficulty.  So Beau and I think that a home-based business (maybe one day a real bakery) is a great goal for me to work towards!

   In an effort to start getting serious (and try to get the most out of my money) I ordered 13 pounds of various flours online from nutsonline.com.  UPS delivered them yesterday!  Now that I have rice flour again... a whole five pounds of it to be exact... I decided to make pizza crusts.  Amazing, crunchy, tasty crusts to be exact!

   However, my silly, dummy, frazzled brain (why is it frazzled, I have nothing to be frazzled over in my life!) messed up the flour proportions.  AND the water measurement!

   Seriously, this happens more than I care to admit.  For some reason, when I have to measure out 3/4 cup liquid, I often fill to 1 and 3/4 cups, which can have disastrous results.  Like this afternoon.  And the flour ratios.  Crap.

   I love Annalise Roberts' flour ratio: 2 parts rice flour, 2/3 parts potato starch, and 1/3 tapioca flour.  BUT I don't have it pre-mixed so I get so messed up measuring the correct amounts! Like today.  I forgot a whole cup of rice flour so I added it in the mix once I realized I messed up.  And then of course I added an extra 1/4 cup water so I added even more rice flour.

   Sheeesh!  Days like this make me wonder if opening up my own bakery is such a good idea!  

   Well I shall let ya'll know if the pizza crust still tastes good... I won't tell Mr. Beau unless it tastes weird haha!  (And no worries, the little turd doesn't read my blog so he won't know.......!)

   So all in all, the moral of this story is to read, double check, and then triple check your ingredient measurements before adding them all together.  A very good habit to get into!    

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cake Decorating Class Part 1!

   My new favorite activity down here is my cake decorating class!!  Well, it's not mine per-se, but rather the Wilton Cake Decorating Basics Class.  

   I love it!  I'm taking it at Hobby Lobby (which is only $20 per four week class rather than $45 at Michaels or Joann's).  So far I've had three classes and this coming Monday is my last... Eeek!  I'm already signing up for the Gumpaste and Fondant Class for September!  :-)
   For our first class we learned the a lot of basics of baking and whatnot... it was a little wee bit boring for me because nothing was new to me.  We decorated sugar cookies with the star tip (nothing too complicated there).  

   I did learn, however, how to frost a cake and I practiced that in the second class.  The key is taking your time and letting it "crust" before smoothing it out.  I always used to rush this process.  

   As you can see, my frosting isn't completely smooth... my instructor said I must have added a little too much shortening in my frosting thus making it hard to "crust" because of the oily consistency.

   By the time I got home from class, I was able to smooth it out some more... and teach Beauie how to do it!

   Please don't judge me by this cake... I would not have chosen a lumpy cupcake image to do!  However, the actual cake itself was AMAZING!  I used the Yellow Butter Cake recipe from Annalise Roberts.  (Um, she is even more awesome than Barbone!)  The cake had an amazing texture and taste... baked easily... one would never know it was g-free!

   Stay tuned for my next post about my cupcakes I decorated this past Monday!  They are by far the prettiest cupcakes I've ever made!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Obsessed with Grey's

   Ok, so I am obsessed with "Grey's Anatomy."  Seriously.
   Yesterday I finished season 5 (yes, I know I'm a bit behind) and it was awesome.  And emotionally gut wrenching.  Over the past couple of years I've watched episodes randomly and out of order so I knew general plot changes like Izzy getting cancer... or Christina falling in love with "military guy" as I like to call him... or OMG: George dying.  He's my favorite character (actually they all are haha!) so how can the show continue on without him?  How?!?!  
   But still, I am itching to watch season 6.  Thank you Emma for providing me with all seasons to obsess over  :-)

   Anyways, I have a theory... when one (*ahem*, me) watches a series daily, one becomes more emotionally connected with the characters.  Call me crazy, but I feel that all the doctors in the show are my friends, colleagues... I mean, I see them every day and know all of their darkest secrets!  Haha!  But I mean this in a non-crazy way... without a doubt all the characters inspire me and think this is fueling my obsessiveness.  

   Beau has even heard me say on numerous occasions I wished they were my own doctors.  Because honestly maybe I would actually get some answers and stop wasting my time with those damn Navy doctors!  (Ok, this is another topic to be broached at another time Grrrr)!

   But seriously.  This show is awesome.  And I'm obsessed.  

   Back to reality (ugh, really?  I love make-believe)... Grey's has got me thinking about the medical field.  Not that I've ever taken any science beyond high school... I don't believe Geology wouldn't help me too much in the hospital haha... But I do wonder if I have what it takes to be a doctor.  A nurse?

   I've been wondering lately if I have what it takes to be Dr. Meredith Grey.  I'm not quite "dark and twisty"... I already snagged McDreamy (and he has even sexier hair: check)... but I do think I have the mental capacity, the compassion, and precision.  Part of me questions if just knowing that I could be a doctor is enough.  Or do I feel I need to prove it?  We're talking an enormous amount of schooling (Beau, pretend loans are non-existent), time, and dedication.  But part of me thinks I should try.


   Maybe I'm just bored at this point in my life (yes).  Antsy (yes).  
   Time for a major life change?  Maybe if someone kicks my butt hard enough then possibly so.


   Maybe I should ditch the blood and get my doctorate... of History.  Because that's always been up my alley since Day 1.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cake Balls Part 2 & My BFF Meagan!

I am SO thankful I met Meagan a year ago... she has become one of my best friends.  Ever.  Hands down.  She rocks!

She's a Coastie wife like me, so it was amazing to find such a great friend who knows exactly what you're going through.  I think that being a military wife can be so trying at times and Meags is there for me whenever I need advice or simply to lend an ear to my frustrations.  And on top of it all, we have so much fun together!  

I'm so proud of her and her totally awesome hubby Justin who got his wings a month ago... now he's officially a helicopter pilot in Oregon!  However, I really really really wish they didn't have to move.  Beau and I still have about six months left here... what am I to do without my buddy?  Gosh darn, I guess I'll just have to make new friends.  Boo-hoo.  Haha.

Well one of the last activities we did together was make cake balls!  We used the same exact method I described in one of my earlier posts: Did Someone Say Cake Pops!?!  We dipped half the balls in melted bittersweet chocolate and the other half in the white candy melts.  Check out the beautiful patriotic balls simply rolled in red, white, and blue sprinkles!

Ok, so let me be clear that Meags made most of these
gorgeous patriotic treats!  

I got annoyed with the melting chocolate so I decided
to make creatures/ animals/ anime-weird-looking-type things

I still think cake balls are kind of hard... I'm thinking their not quite my thing... but nevertheless, they are so much fun and super yummy to share with your friends and family!  If anyone successfully dips the balls in the melted chocolate and it looks pretty, please share!

Us with our children  :-)  I think we look related here!
Sisters separated at birth?!  haha

Lastly, I wanted to share the cake I made for Meagan and Justin... it was a two layer red velvet cake frosted with buttercream frosting.  I just wanted to show them how much I appreciate and value our friendship... and what better way to do that than bake a cake?!!  

FYI Beau and I are totally putting Oregon on our next duty station list...!!!!  Fingers crossed we could possibly be neighbors... ahhhh too exciting to even think about!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Easy Breezy Spice Cake!

I have been going through a baking spree.  Like a major one the past two weeks or so!  My camera, however, died during our vacation in New Hampshire.  Beauie later resurrected it from the dead, but the flash doesn't work anymore *sad face* So unfortunately there won't be too many beautiful photos anytime soon of my newest "masterpieces."

Anyways, back to the spice cake!  Last Thursday it was kind of rainy and I was itching to bake a cake of some sorts but I didn't feel like having to put much effort into it.  Then I came across a recipe for Spice Cake!  (by, of course, Barbone haha)  By the time the oven heated up, my two 8 inch round cake pans were ready to go.  It's so simple and smells amazing... it's just like Carrot Cake just minus the carrot taste... Enjoy this cake as is (perfect for a brunch or holiday gathering) or with some homemade cream cheese frosting to dress (and sweeten) it up!
Adding chopped walnuts adds delish texture to the cake whether
you actually bake it into the cake or sprinkle it on top of the frosting!
1 1/2 c rice flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1/4 c tapioca flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 ts xanthan gum
2 ts baking soda
2 1/2 heaping ts cinnamon
1 ts ginger
1/2 ts nutmeg
1/4 ts cloves

2 lg eggs
1/2 c applesauce (or veg oil)
1 1/2 c buttermilk

1)  Preheat oven to 350 F.
2)  Mix dry ingredients together.
3)  Add wet ingredients and mix about 2 minutes with a mixing machine.
4)  Spray two 8 inch round pans generously with cooking spray.
5)  Add cake mix to the pans and bake for approximately 40 minutes then let cool!
Don't mind the air pockets you can see in this slice... my husband
took this picture for me so clearly he didn't realize he photographed
the unflattering angles/ holes haha!

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting
4 c powdered sugar
1 8 oz package room temperature cream cheese (regular or                                reduced fat only... fat free does not work well)    
1 stick room temperature butter

Cream cream cheese and butter with mixture.  Then add 1/2 c powdered sugar at a time to avoid sugar all over the kitchen!  (Been there, done that... multiple times last week oops!)    

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tulsa with the Belangers!

   Fourth of July weekend Beau, the doggies, and I made a 14 hour drive to Tulsa, Oklahoma!  We hadn't seen his family in soooo long so it was wonderful to see them!

   We hung out in their gorgeous home, cooked amazing dinners, and explored Tulsa... even in the 107 degree heat!

One of my favorite things was visiting the Broken Arrow Zoo, a wildlife sanctuary.  Check out their website!  http://www.safariszoo.com/

Gorgeous tigers trying to keep cool! 

This is a Liger!  He was HUGE and loved eating the
frozen chicken legs we fed him :-)

Kyle and I holding alligators!

Lemurs enjoying the gummy snacks we fed them

A wolf!

Me holding a baby kangaroo!!!

Here's a funny video of a very sly monkey who 
knew the word "cup"!

   Chris, Beau, and I also visited the Philbrook Museum of Art which was gorgeous.  There is so much old oil money in the city of Tulsa and this mansion is gorgeous to prove it!  Check out their site: http://www.philbrook.org/

   Cannot wait to hang out with Beau's family again... hopefully soon!  Thank you for such a wonderful time  :-)