Sunday, August 25, 2013

My new arrival...

No, as you probably guessed, I'm too old to be having more babies. But my "baby" arrived last week in the form of a new oven!!! Remember in Fiddler on the Roof when Motel the tailor got his new sewing machine and everyone came over to congratulate him on his new arrival? That's kinda how I feel about my new oven. I am in love with my new LG oven. It bakes and cooks beautifully. My cakes are perfectly level. It plays a cute little tune and the lights blink off and on when the oven is preheated to the correct temperature, and then plays another tune when the timer is done, and repeats every 15 seconds until you turn it off. (I can't tell you how important that is for me!) And it's easy to clean. What more could I ask for? Oh, and I almost forgot the best's a double oven. I finally replaced my old single oven, and now I can bake things in half the time! It's like Christmas in August. I'm so excited!! Special thanks to my hubby and son-in-law for lifting it upstairs to the kitchen and installing it.
My new baby... isn't it pretty?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

NOT your Weight Watchers Recipe...

As you can probably imagine, my love of baking and my desire to lose weight as a Weight Watchers member are not always compatible. This weekend was one of those times... If I could exercise 10-12 hours a day, I might not have a problem. However, since that is totally undesirable and entirely impossible for me, I have to either wear a face mask (which I have actually done in the past) or hide the culprit items. Yesterday it was chocolate all day, and today it was cookies... not just your average cookies, but probably some of the best oatmeal cookies I have ever tasted. The cookie dough is to die for (ask me how I know). :) They are chewy, chunky, and soft-just the way I like. I have been looking for a really good oatmeal cookie recipe for quite some time-one that has other things added besides just oatmeal, and does not go flat at our altitude. I found this recipe, thanks to Pinterest and Lil' Luna, with a few tweaks on my part. Enjoy! And oh, if you're trying to lose weight, don't forget to hide them or give them away after one or two. 

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup coconut
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips ( I use dark chocolate)

Cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients, coconut, cranberries, pecans, and chocolate chips together in separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Spoon or scoop onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. I baked mine for 11 minutes. Every oven is different, so watch closely. Do not overbake. Let set on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes, and then remove to cooling rack. 

Note: I have been experimenting with my new oven. Just made these cookies again tonight, and baked them for only 9 minutes, so it really does depend on your oven. Watch them closely, and write down the perfect timing for you.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Red and black... really?

If you are a follower of my blog, you will know by now that I strongly dislike decorating with red or black food coloring. So, as an option, whenever possible, I use the following techniques:

(1) I use Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa to make black. I love this stuff! If you add enough cocoa to your buttercream or fondant, it REALLY does look black. Sometimes I add a small amount of light corn syrup to make it the consistency that I am looking for. 

(2) Whenever possible, I try to airbrush red pieces, especially flowers, instead of coloring the icing/fondant. That way I am using less color than I would otherwise. 

Satin Ice also makes a really really good dark chocolate fondant that resembles black. If you are not a fondant lover, this will change your mind. I guarantee it.

Something just tells me that because you have to use so much red or black food coloring to get a good intense color that it can't possibly be good for you. Sometimes the "end" result may not be good either. I will not go into detail about that last comment, but I have stories I could tell. 

Here are some cakes that I've done with red and black coloring using these techniques...

Airbrushed roses and dark chocolate lace
Airbrushed red fondant
Airbrushed red gumpaste
Airbrushed gumpaste musical notes and treble clef
Dark chocolate spider webbing
Dark chocolate borders made with Satin Ice dark chocolate fondant and blue silicone mold
Dark chocolate poured fondant
Dark chocolate fondant flowers
Dark chocolate fondant/gumpaste ribbon
Dark chocolate buttercream scrollwork on fondant
Dark chocolate buttercream piping on whipped cream...yes, the bead border is actually piped buttercream

Friday, August 2, 2013

Backyard Neighbor...

We have neighbors that live behind us. Even though their backyard and ours are separated by only a shared fence, they actually live two streets away. The first time we met was when our shared fence blew down, so my hubby Bruce and Steve, our neighbor worked together to repair it. As they visited, Steve learned that Bruce was a home inspector and I was a cake decorator. Since then, Bruce has done inspections for Steve's son, and I have created some interesting birthday cakes for Steve's wife, Becky. Each year I look forward to designing something fun for Becky's July birthday. Here are some cakes that I have designed for her...

The year she turned 60.
This year she traveled allot with her work.
The year she turned 64...designed around the Beatles tune.
This year is Becky's year to complete things on her "bucket list."

Looking forward to next year's cake.