27 February 2010

I swear I'm back!

I know, I know!! I have been the worst blogger the past two weeks, but I am finally back! lol... This past week I had two awesome extra roomies, and with them, class, and work I had NO time for anything else... but they were fun, they bought me coffee and breakfast (ps. the way to my heart is a strong cup of coffee right when I wake up, im not a happy/normal person without it, just ask my parents.) 

Today I had an awesome lazy saturday that started off with baking lemon cupcakes!!!  This recipe is also from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook... can you tell I'm in LOVE with it yet??? No? stay tuned...

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 tsp baking bowder
2 T grated lemon zest (you will need ~4 lemons total for this recipe)
3 T unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 cup milk (I always use skim)
1 egg

Grating the lemons!!

1. Preheat oven to 325
2. Put flour, sugar, baking soda, lemon zest, and butter in your KitchenAid mixer (and if you seriously haven't bought one yet, its time... but you can also use a hand held mixer, if you must).  Beat on low speed until the mixture has a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

3. Gradually add milk, beat just until incorporated.
4. Add egg, beat just until incorporated, scrape down sides of bowl, then mix on high for a few minutes until batter is smooth.  DO NOT overmix!!
5. Spoon into lined cupcake tin, 2/3 full for each.  Bake 20-25 mins, or until cake bouces back when touched.
6. Cool in pan for a few mins, then take cupcakes out and cool them completely.

Lemon Frosting!!
1.  Beat together 2 cups confectioners suger, 5 T unsalted room temp butter, 2 T grated lemon zest, and a couple drops of yellow food coloring on medium speed until mixture comes together.
2.  Slowly add 2 T milk, mix until incorporated.  Turn mixer onto high speed and continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy (tip: the longer you mix, the lighter and fluffier the frosting will be).

Best way to end a lazy Saturday... glass of wine, lemon cupcake, and a movie!

Happy Baking (and Happy Saturday!)

22 February 2010

Party tips!

So this weekend I made sooo many different things that I don't even know where to start when giving ya'll recipes!!! Since I am deaddd tired right now and need to look over muscles (booo) I will give you the rundown and post all recipes as the week goes on.  Word to the wise, when you have a large party and decide that ALL the food absolutely has to be homemade... you need to plan out timewise how to cook it all, or you will end up in the shower/getting ready when everyone arrives like I did Friday night.

So for my party I made:
Spinach artichoke dip served with wheat thins
Chips and salsa
Veggie dessert pizza
Chocolate Chip cookies
Fruit dip with strawberries
Ranch dip with veggies
And, of course, Red Velvet Cupcakes!!!

For Saturday breakfast I made:
Buttermilk cheddar biscuits
Maple pancake muffins (which we decided to call Puffins)
Fruit dip and bananas

We had soo much fun that night, and I got some great gifts!  I will post all these recipes as the week goes on! I hope everyone had a great Monday!!

18 February 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes!

I Love: cupcakes... I Hate: anatomy
I Love: to bake...   I Hate: to study (may present a problem in med school)...

So guess what I am doing tonight?! Yes, baking red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing for my birthday/girl's night tomorrow! (and no, mother, I am not baking instead of studying, test is o-v-e-r!!)  These could quite possibly be the best things I have EVER eaten... and thats saying something... I even had my taste-tester Olivia over, and she agrees!!!

4 T unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 T cocoa powder
2 T red food coloring
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp distilled white vinegar

1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Place butter and sugar in your Kitchen Aid mixer with paddle attachment and cream on medium until well blended and light and fluffy!

2.  In a seperate bowl, mix together cocoa powder, red food coloring, and vanilla extract.  Mix together until it forms a thick, dark paste.

3. Turn your mixer on high and slowly add the egg.  Blend until mixed, then scrape down your bowl.  On low speed add the cocoa mixture and mix until well blended.  Scrape down the sides of your bowl.

4.  With mixer on low, add half the buttermilk, mix well.  Then add half the flour, mix well.  Scrape down the sides.  Repeat adding buttermilk and flour, until they are both all added.  Mix well and scrape down the sides.  Add salt, baking soda, and vinegar on low.  Then turn mixer on high and mix for a couple more minutes.

5.  Spoon batter into a 12 cupcake pan with cupcake liners. I used a cookie dough scoop, 2 scoops=2/3 full.  Fill each two-thirds full.  Bake 20-25 mins or until the cake bouces back when touched and toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for a few minutes, then cool on a rack.  Ice when they are completely cooled.

Best. Cupcakes. Ever.

Happy Baking!!!

Cupcakes, cupcakes, CUPCAKES!

Tonight after my annoying anatomy test, I FINALLY get to retreat back into my kitchen for hours (except during the men's figure skating routines.... gotta love the olympics!).  I am making Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for my birthday party tomorrow.  The recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, possibly the best cupcake book you could ever buy! (will post recipe/pictures later!)

Tonight I am also experimenting with something new, cupcake pops!! So if you have never heard of these, they are from Bakerella (another baking blog).  I am going to make them as cute party favors for my party tomorrow night, sooo excited to try them out!

Picture from bakerella.com

I will post pics as I bake them... hopefully I won't crash and burn making them... Also, tomorrow I will be making all the rest of the food for my party.  I just finished my grocery list (which, when written out, is absurdly long) and it includes, but is not limited to, 40 oz of cream cheese... yes I love me some cream cheese, but didn't plan this much... every single recipe I'm making just happens to require a pack or so (currently praying no one coming to my party reads this... I want them to eat the food).  But I am excited, because next week I will have lots of awesome and suprisingly healthy (considering said cream cheese) recipes!!

Happy Baking!

16 February 2010

Aging and Invitations

When I was little, I used to think that people in college were SOO old! Now, I am out of college and turning 23 in three days... so according to my 8 year old self, I am officially old.  Even though I know I'm not really old, nothing good EVER happens after the infamous 21st bday... I mean the next thing you know, you're 30...  So I figure what better way to celebrate a birthday than with an awesome Girl's Night In, full of laugther, games, food, and, of course, lots of vino!!

First thing to do when you are planning any kind of party, you need to get out your inviations soon!!  In a day where facebook/email/twitter are the ways of communication, it is very refreshing to get an invite in the mail that you can stick on your fridge!  If you live in Birmingham, you need to go to Inflations and Invitations in Homewood (down the street from Soca).  The owner, Sonia Davis, is a close family friend of mine, and she is GREAT at what she does!  She does normal invitations and also does amazing custom wedding stationary.  I would upload mine... but don't want my address displayed on the web, lol.  But, I sent mine out a month ago for a party that is this Friday.

This is an example of one of Sonia's regular invitations from her website, so cute!

Well, I have to go to class, but am making some special treats tonight for party favors, and will post about them later!

Happy Fat Tuesday!

14 February 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Purses

So this week will be super busy for me, but I will try and post often, since I have a ton of recipes in mind.  This friday is my birthday and I have an anatomy test on thursday (thanks, Dr. Hendon)...

SO, are you still looking for that perfect, easy, amazingly delicious dessert to serve to your valentine tonight?? Well, have I got something for you!  I got this recipe from Southern Living a couple years ago, and it is my Mom and I's go-to recipe when we need a quick, amazing dessert for company.

2 Frozen Puff Pastry sheets (thawed)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiardelli)
1 cup white chocolate chips (again, Ghiardelli)
10oz frozen raspberry bag (thawed)
2.5 cups powder sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Roll out puff pastry sheets so they are 12" by 12".  Cut the pastrys into quarters.

2.  Divide the white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate between the 8 sections.  Pull up corners together, then pull up remaining sides.  Pinch the middle together, so some puff pastry is sticking up like a purse.

3.  At this point, you can refrigerate until your party begins! I always make it a couple of hours before the party, then stick it in the oven during dinner so I can serve it right out of the oven!!  Bake for 20-25 mins, covering with aluminum foil for the last 10 mins, or until tops are brown and it looks cooked throughout!

4.  Place thawed frozen raspberry package into a blender.  Pour the 2.5 cups of powder sugar over the raspberrys, mix together with a spoon.  Blend the two together, until raspberrys are broken up.

5.  Using a wire, mesh sifter over a bowl, pour the raspberry mixture into the sifter.  Using the back of a spoon, push the mixture through the sifter (this gets the seeds out).  Refrigerate until just before you serve.

6.  To serve, pour some raspberry mixture on the plate, top with purse, then sift some powder sugar on top to garnish, and serve!!
Plates with the raspberry sauce!

Finished purse with raspberry sauce!

I didn't take many pictures of the final product or baking process because I had friends over, and, for some reason, people think its weird when I take 1,000 pictures of a dessert lol.  Oh, and I got these gorgeous paper plates at Hobby Lobby, on sale (my two favorite words in the english language).

But I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day!!

Happy Baking!

12 February 2010

Happy Snow Day!!

I still can't believe we are having Snow Day in Birmingham!! Normally when the idiot weather ppl say there will be snow, it is a nice sunny day, but NOT TODAY!

This is the view from the balcony of my apartment, anyone want to go make snow angels?!?

So in true Southern Cake Girl fashion, I spent my snow day finishing Sonia's birthday cake!!!  I decorated with Vanilla Buttercream icing and all my tips/bags/icing spatulas and icing coloring are all Wilton brand!

The finished cake!!

Closeup of the flowers!

I absolutely LOVE my cake stand! It is from Urban Outfitters (thanks Julia!!!), they seriously have some of the cutest home decorations!  A plus is that it wasn't very expensive.


Well I hope everyone has a good weekend!! Stay warm!

Happy Baking!

10 February 2010


I think that the only downside to baking is ALLLL the dishes you have to do... I have an unreasonable amount right now since I not only decided to bake a cake and decorate it last night... but I also decided to have friends over for dinner tonight (and you know I went all out with soup, meal, and dessert (will post recipes soon)).  SO, I will not be posting pictures of the cake for a little while because it isn't done yet.. As the dishwasher is running for the um-tenth time tonight and I am falling asleep in a chocolate/wine induced coma, all I can only think about are the BILLION dishes I will have for next week (my birthday party!) and hoping someone will help me with them... sometimes living alone sucks...

The upside: my apartment smells like sugar heaven... no air plug thingys needed to make my apartment smell awesome tonight :))

You know what's also an upside?? When my sister-in-law updates their website with oh so cute pictures of my niece and nephew... here is one of my nephew max, 4 months old... him and hope are the true loves of my life, who needs boys when you have him????

Until tomorrow, when I will hopefully FINISH this cake for Sonia's birthday party Friday night!

09 February 2010

Devil's Food Cake with Mint Ganache filling :))

Today I spent an exorbitant amount of money on random "cake things".  If you need good, cheap cake supplies, Hobby Lobby is the place to go.  I bought tips, cardboard rounds, a decorating book, icing coloring, etc. for my new projects in the coming weeks... my supplies were becoming unreasonably bare.  Also, I bought 2 new cookbooks from Barnes & Noble!!! Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (which has the MOST AWESOME recipes in it... can you tell I'm excited??).  Anyways, the cake I am making for Sonia's birthday is from the Martha Stewart cookbook... when it comes to baking, Martha is NEVER wrong.  So I am making a devil's food cake, with mint chocolate ganache filling, and vanilla buttercream icing.

I am currently decorating the cake for Sonia's birthday, and will post pictures of the final product later today!

3 sticks unsalter butter (1.5 cups) room temp, plus more for pans
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey's), sifted
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Prep your 2 8x2 or 9x2 cake pans by buttering bottom, layering with a circular piece of parchment paper.  Butter the parchment paper, dust with some cocoa powder (not part of the 3/4 cup) and tap out the excess.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water.  Whisk in the sour cream.  Set aside to cool.  In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

3. With your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4mins in stand mixer and longer with a hand held.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure to mix well between eggs.  Beat in vanilla.  Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl often to ensure it's all mixed.

4.  With the mixer on low, add flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the cocoa mixture and beginning and ending with the flour (ie. 1/2 flour, then all cocoa, then other 1/2 flour).  Beat just until combined, scraping sides of bowl. 

5.  Divide batter between the two pans, if using 8x2 pans you will have a little extra left over.  Smooth with a spatula and cook for 40-50mins, or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  Remember that the two racks in the oven cook at different speeds.  After cooking, transfer pans to cooling rack and cool in pans 15mins.  Then invert cake onto a plate, remove parchment paper, and re-invert back onto the cooling rack.  Let cool completely, with the top sides up!

Mint Chocolate Ganache Filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghiardelli)
1/8 cup light corn syrup
3/4 tsp pure peppermint extract
1/8 tsp salt

1.  Pour cream into a saucepan and bring it to a full boil on medium-high heat on the stove, then turn off heat.  Add chocolate then swirl to completely cover the cream.  Whisk together.  Add the corn syrup, peppermint extract, and salt and whisk.  Transfer to a clean stand mixer bowl.  Let it cool completely (about 45 mins), stirring frequently.

Assemble your cake!!!
1.  Level your cake tops by inserting a long, sharp knife into the cake, then slowly turn to level the cake tops (these sides will form the middle portion of the cake).  Place the bottom half layer onto your cardboard base (which should be wider than your cake, I use 10" ones).

This is a stepwise picture of how to level a cake!

2. Attach the bowl with cooled mint ganache to mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Mix on medium-high speed until ganache holds soft peaks, about 5-7 mins.  Spread the bottom 1/2 with 1-1.5 cups of the whipped ganache.  Top with the other layer.  Refrigerate for 30 mins, or until ganache has just begun to set.  I had some ganache left over, which can be stored in an airtight container for a week in the refrigerator, make sure you re-whip before using.

When layering a cake, make sure you place the bottom layer on your cardboard with the doilie attached (put some corn syrup between the two so they will stick together).

Top with any icing you wish.  I love buttercream icing so much that I topped with vanilla buttercream icing, and decorated with vanilla buttercream icing.

Happy Baking!! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY SONIA!!


I still can't figure out what kind of cake I am going to bake tonight... this is my problem, I am the MOST indecisive person EVERRR.  You would think that since I am so excited to actually bake that I wouldn't care, but I do, I want her 21st bday cake to be something she will remember.  So she said she likes chocolate, mint, and strawberry.... I think I am going to make a Devil's food cake.. Any suggestions???? PLEASE!

08 February 2010

A new project!!

For the last couple of weeks I have been praying and pining for an excuse to make and decorate another cake..  I don't know why, but getting in the kitchen and trying out all sorts of new cake and icing recipes and playing around with the decorations... its just well, cake bliss.  So, I FINALLY have an excuse to make another awesome cake this week, my friend Sonia is turning 21 on Weds...  One important thing when you are making a cake is to plan ahead!! A cake needs to be made at LEAST 2 days in advance so you have time to bake, re-bake if you f*** up, and decorate the way you really want to.  For a decorating novice, it will take a little lot of trial and error to get your cake just right!!

Take this cake I made for my Dad's 60th birthday (big deal bday, right?!).  Well, my mom was in Utah visiting my brother, so I drove to Huntsville to cook dinner for my dad and bake him (and decorate) a cake!  I was still in my cake decorating class at that point, so I was still realllyyy bad at decorating.  I made him this awesome made-from-scratch mac and cheese, YUMM!!! And then (around 7pm, yikes!) started to make the cake.  I made the strawberry cake with vanilla buttercream icing (see old post for recipe), which is not an easy cake to make.  Around 10pm the cake was FINALLY cooled enough for icing... At this point I was tired, Dad was hungry, Allison was spacing out watching me have a semi-mental breakdown because I couldn't get the icing to turn purple... so I did a really shitty job... BUT, I learned a very important lesson... bake a cake two days ahead so said mental breakdown will not occur again..

I mean, just look at this cake... it makes me want to cry.  The icing is a yucky blue, supposed to be purple, the writing sucks, I can't even make a circle of shells... *sigh*  BUT, I got my really bad decorating experience out of the way early, and it goes to show that practice and time can really improve your skills!

I plan on starting the cake tonight (once I decide what kind to make) and will post with pictures soon!

Happy Baking!

05 February 2010

Sugar cookies!

So my brother and his family live at Hill Air Force base just north of Salt Lake City.  There are soo many things that I love about coming out here.  First, the snow!  Growing up in the south, we freak out even when there are only flurries... I come to Hill and there is 3ft of snow on the ground (also, Park City is only 20mins away!)  But the BEST thing about Utah is that my sister-in-law and I share an insane sweet tooth.  We make something new almost every single night (with the help of my adorable 2 year old niece of course).  So, when I arrived wednesday night, I was pleased to see she was making sugar cookies!! These cookies are so good, I think it is because of the secret ingredients that bring out all the flavor.

2 cups butter (room temp!)
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (I always use skim)
7 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
And the secret flavor ingredients:
1/2 tsp lemon extract flavor
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 T honey

1. Preheat oven to 325
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, then the milk.  Scrape sides of the bowl.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix just until mixed together.  The dough will be soft and sticky.
4.  Place dough on a well floured pastry cloth or workspace.  Knead the dough until it is workable and has flour all over the top.  
5.  Roll it out to 3/8 in thick.  Cut into desired shapes.  We did hearts since it is so close to Valentine's Day, but you can do any shape you want!!
6. Bake for 10-12 mins or until edges barely start to change colors

Makes about 4 dozen!!

My little helper!!

Some of the finished cookies!


02 February 2010

Stock your kitchen!!

Before you can really begin baking cakes, cupcakes, etc. you need to stock your kitchen with the right tools and ingredients!! These are just some of the things I have in my apartment (all from either target or bed bath and beyond).

I highly recommend getting sugar and flour holders (make sure they are airtight).  This makes it soo much easier when you are baking to quickly grab whatever you need ingredient wise.

I would recommend getting more than one set of measuring cups and spoons.  When you are making cakes, you often have to add wet and dry ingredients, and you don't want to have to clean all your measuring cups in between mixing cake and icing.  These are KitchenAid brand measuring cups and spoons from Target for only $3-4 each! Great deal!

You need a TON of mixing bowls also! I got all these from Target.  Also, as you can see, I have two of everything: 2 whisks, 2 icing spreaders, 2 spatulas, and 2 basters.  This way you don't have to do dishes in between recipes!

I also have a ton of bakeware... A necesity is at least 2 cake pans (mine are 8") and 2 pie pans.  Also, I have three stackable drying racks so I can quickly cool multiple recipes.

I also have learned that tupperware is a necessity.  I feel like I'm a mother when I stand in the tupperware aisle at Target (for like 30mins haha), BUT it comes in handy!!  In addition, I recommend getting at least 4-5 cutting boards (so you can cut veggies and chicken without washing).

And last, but not least, casserole/pyrex dishes!  For someone who lives alone, I have an exorbitant amount, and you probably don't need this many.  But, as an avid baker they most def come in handy (and most of them come with tops for easy travel!)

Stay tuned for more great recipes later this week!

Happy Baking!!