Tate’s 1st Birthday Cake!

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My only nephew has his first birthday last weekend!  I had the privilege of decorating the cake and I love how it turned out.  My sister made most of the decorations, which I’ll share in an upcoming post because she did such an amazing job!  She used a theme of navy stripes, aqua chevron, and white dots on green background which I tried to incorporate into the cake.  You’ll see how the theme fits together in my next post.  I opted not to try the chevron on the cake for time’s sake, but I think it still looks great!

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I made an easy flag with Tate’s name to put across the top of his cake, and then I made the exact same thing with a “one” for his smash cake.

IMG_1144  This smash cake was so simple.  I just took strips of fondant, wrapped it around the cake starting at the bottom, and then finished it off with a little seam.  It took about ten minutes to complete… not my best work, but I was exhausted from the rest of the cake lol.

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I used vanilla and and the same food coloring I used for the fondant to color the inside of the cake!  It was an easy added touch.

Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

 

Life likes to throw things at you that you just have to deal with, and let me tell you… It’s been one heck of a year.  There have been many changes in my life this year, some good and some bad.  One major change is that I completed my master’s degree and started a new job as a high school counselor.

However, the most exciting change is that I’m a new auntie!  My sister and her husband had a baby boy, Tate Cooper, just this March and I have loved being a new aunt.  He’s so precious.  Among other things, these things have kept me quite busy and blogging was pushed to the background.  But I’m back!

I’m starting again with the very first recipe I ever posted – Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps.  It’s so easy, I’m not even sure if I can call it a recipe!  In fact I don’t really measure the ingredients, I just kinda throw it all together.   {Shhh… you don’t have to tell anyone.}

These wraps get made at my house ALL the time because this meal works for so many occasions… lunch, dinner, parties, showers, picnics, etc.  They’re great for the cabin too.  It’s my go to recipe when I want a quick and effortless meal.

They might sound a little boring, but there’s one thing that makes them unique…  Chow Mein Noodles.  Genius!  That’s right… I use chow mein noodles in place of croutons.  They add the perfect crunch!  And it makes all the difference.

Next time you are wondering what to make for whatever reason, go easy on yourself and throw this together.  Everyone will love them :)

Chicken Caesar Wraps
4 spinach wraps
4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup light caesar salad dressing (Marzetti’s brand is my favorite!)
1 cup chow mein noodles
1 large grilled chicken breast, chopped in small pieces

Mix all ingredients together and roll up into spinach wraps.  {Proportion this however you like.   Just add a little of this and a little of that until it looks good.}  Enjoy!

Hint:  Cut in half and insert a toothpick to hold together at a party for a nice presentation. 

Baked Crazy Feta Dip

It’s time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal.  This month I was assigned to Erin’s blog, The Spiffy Cookie.  As always, I check out their list of recipes and try to pick out what to make.  I was immediately drawn to the Crazy Baked Feta. 

I originally thought of it just as a dip, but after making it and tasting it I think there are so many uses for it.  It would be great to spread over warm homemade pita bread.  You could also use it for a spread on a greek pizza, or grilled chicken pitas – just grill chicken, add lettuce, onion, olives, pepper, etc. and this cheese spread.  If you want to make it more creamy for whatever you are using it for just add more olive oil.

Check out all of Erin’s other great recipes!

Crazy Baked Feta Dip
16-ounces feta cheese
3 jalapenos
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a little extra
1 head garlic
zest and juice of half of a lemon
salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, shredded

Chop the top off the garlic bulb and drizzle it with aabout a teaspoon of olive oil.  Wrap it in foil and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven, or until garlic is golden in color.  At the same time, brush the jalapenos with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Either grill or roast them until charred. then wrap in foil to cool.  Once jalapenos are cooled, remove skins, cut in half and discard the seeds and mince.

In a large bowl, crumble the feta.  Add chopped jalapenos, the zest of half a lemon, and the juice of half a lemon.  Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the bulb directly into the feta.  Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and mash everything together with a fork.  Taste the feta and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in half of the mozarella, place in an oven safe dish and top with the remaining mozarella.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, or spread on warm pita bread.

Serve with pita chips, warm pita or naan, or spread it on sandwiches. Store it in the fridge for up to one week – I find that I like it best at room temperature, so allow it to sit out for about 30 minutes before serving. We also think it would be great with some kalamata olives.

Recipe adapted from The Spiffy Cookie and How Sweet It Is

    



Cake Decorating: Captain’s Hat 40th Birthday Cake!

A few months ago my friend Emily enlisted my help in throwing her fiancè Anthony a surprise 40th birthday party.  She just asked me to help set up beforehand, but I offered to make the cake as well.  Even though I wanted the opportunity and asked for it… I was a little nervous.  Apparently she had faith in me and entrusted me with the task.  They love to take their boat out in the summer and Anthony wears his captain’s hat so that was her idea for the cake and also inspired the nautical theme for the party.  Sounded easy enough!

In the back of my mind was the possibility that it would not turn out exactly as planned.  Luckily, it turned out great!  They were happy with the result and so was I.  It was extremely satisfying having finished something I wasn’t quite sure I could do.  And it did end up being simple to make… although a little more time consuming and tedious than I thought.  {It was my first time working with fondant, otherwise I think the process would have went a little faster.}

For the cake, I used a total of four 9-inch round cakes.  Three were stacked for the height, and the other one I cut for the rim of the hat.  Using a bread knife, I cut the top layer of cake and angled it downward.  Then I took a 9-inch pan and used it as a guide to cut the rim, and angled that as well.  I put a layer of buttercream over all of it and then topped it with the fondant icing.

I molded the life preserver, number 4, and anchor for the cupcakes from the fondant.  They need to sit out overnight to dry and harden.

If you’ve never worked with fondant before, it is so much fun!  It’s a lot like molding clay and is easy to work with.  Just don’t let it sit out and dry, but keep it covered in plastic wrap when you aren’t using it.

And as for the party, Emily did a fabulous job!  Everyone had a great time and Anthony was truly surprised.  It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time and I met some really great people that night.  For some reason I always forget to take pictures of people with my camera, which is really the most important part, so I don’t have anything but the cake to show you.  Note to self for next time!

Also, thanks to mom and Jeremy for helping me with everything!

Cake Decorating: Marshmallow Fondant

My mom used to decorate cakes when I was little.  She didn’t make a profession out of it, but it was something she did once in a while for showers and weddings.  I considered myself her “helper”, even though all I really did was eat the flowers she had made when they broke or didn’t quite turn out.  I always enjoyed watching the process and seeing the end result.  In high school I even made some of my own for various occassions, and I’ve continued to do so every once in a while.

I’ve always loved the look of fondant iced cakes, but was always intimidated by the fondant for some reason.  I had also heard that it didn’t taste all too great either.  However, a few weeks ago as I was decorating a cake for a birthday party, I went out on a limb last minute {midnight the night before} and made some fondant, even though the original plan was buttercream.

I fell in love with the end result!  It’s quick to make, tastes great, and is easy and fun to work with.  The options are endless of what you can do with it.  I can’t wait to share my recent creations and will be posting them soon!  In the meantime, here is a great recipe for homemade fondant.  {I’ve never bought the pre-made kind in stores, but after making this there is no need to!}

Marshmallow Fondant
16-ounces miniture marshmallows
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
shortening, for coating

Grease the inisde of a microwave-safe bowl, stand mixer bowl, hook attachment and silicone spatula with a thin layer of shortening.  Combine the marshmallows and water in the microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 30 second intervals.  Stir in between, until the mixture is melted and somewhat soupy.  Remove from the microwave and mix in the lemon juice, corn syrup, vanilla and amond extracts and salt.

Place about 6 cups of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and form a well in the center.  Pour the marshmallow mixture into the well and knead on low speed with a dough hook until the sugar is incorporated.  When the mixture begins to stick to the bowl, add an additional cup sugar and continue kneading.

Depending on the consistency, add more confectioners’ sugar {up to one cup} until the fondant is smooth and thick.  It should not be sticky and should feel a bit like modeling clay.  If needed, remove from the stand mixer and continue kneading on a non-stick work surface to achieve the right consistency.

Form the fondant into a smooth ball, coat lightly with shortening, and wrap tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap.  Place in an airtight bag and press out all the excess air to store.  Let rest at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight before using.  Fondant can be made several days ahead of time.

Recipe is adapted from Cake Central, via Annie’s Eats.

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