Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall Wedding Cake

Did I mention I LOVE the fall? Here is a wedding cake I did last week. The venue was decorated with pumpkins and beautiful fall colored arrangements on the table. The windows were large and you could see the beautiful trees from them with their fall foliage.

The bride chose this design which is usually done with cherry blossoms. The *branches* were done with brown icing and the leaves I made with fondant. I added a thin, orangy brown, glittery ribbon around the bottom or each tier, piped a small bead border then added the leaves. The topper was handmade. The Star Wars figurines belong to her dad. They mounted them on a wooden heart, then the berries added in back of them.

This is one of my favorite cakes I've done.

Yep, I love the fall!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making your own extracts!

I've been making my own Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract for over a year. We also use store bought vanilla, but we prefer our own because we love seeing the little specks in the buttercream. While not as strong as store bought extract, it is very flavorful and less expensive to make than to buy it. I can buy an 8 ounce bottle of Tone's vanilla for less than $7.00. That is not bad at all, but homemade is cheaper! The Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract sells for about $14-$20 for an 8 ounce bottle.

I buy my Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans online on eBay. I can buy 25 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans for approximately $20.00 with shipping. At the store, I can buy 2 vanilla beans for $5.00. I can buy two pints of vodka for $7.00 and a glass jar for $2.97.

So, for an 8 ounce jar of Madagascar Bourbon Vanila extract, it costs me about $3.00 minus the cost of the jar.

Today, for the first time I made lemon extract. We'll see how that turns out!


5 vanilla beans split lengthwise
2 cups vodka
Glass jar.

Put split beans in jar (cut them in half if necessary to fit in jar).
Add Vodka. Give it a good shake. Store in cool, dark place for a month, shaking every couple of days. The vanilla extract will darken (although, maybe not as dark as store bought).

When half of the extract is gone, simply refill with vodka, shake every couple of days. The vanilla beans can stay in the jar and be reused unti it does not darken up the liquid anymore. Just add more vanilla beans.


2 large lemons. Peel the yellow part only, not the white pith. Place in glass jar.
Add a cup of vodka.

Shake and store in cool dry place for two weeks, shaking every couple of days.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Red Velvet Cake

I never understood Red Velvet Cake. I'd eat it and I'd think...uh it doesn't have any taste. It wasn't until I made it myself and knew the ingredients that went into it that I finally got the taste. I know that sounds strange, but it's true. Flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, cocoa, vinegar, baking soda and red food coloring (I hope I didn't leave anything out).

Once I tasted my creation I was like, "AHHHHHHHHH, I get it!" Add cream cheese icing and it's out of this world!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vanilla Equals Boring!

NOT! When did vanilla come to mean boring and/or plain?

Native to Mexico, the orchid plant (V. planifolia) could not be pollinated out of Mexico because of the specific bee (Melipona) and the vine it grew on. According to Vanilla history around 1841, a 12 year old slave Edmund Abius in Bourbon (A French colony in the Indian Ocean), found a way to hand pollinate the bean and that is the way it's done to this day. That is where the name Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla comes from.

How many recipes do we have that call for vanilla? Tons! From cookies to cakes to puddings, custards even putting a little in our whipping cream, vanilla is a household staple. It's even used to make perfume. How yummy is that?

Here are a few other uses:

Drop a tablespoon of vanilla in a can of paint stir it up. When ready to use, ahhhhh, vanilla.

Deodoraize your microwave: Put a little in a bowl and microwave for a minute.

After cleaning your fridge, leave a cotton ball soaked in vanilla in the fridge. Leaves it smelling fresh!

Nah, Vanilla is not boring!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

See what happens when you try new recipes!

So we like experimenting with new recipes. I was at the shop today and saw a piece of black cake on the table. Hmmmmmmm. Tracee came in and I asked her about it. She said, "Oh, it's for you. I was trying a new recipe." YUMMY!!!!!!!

It's Black Midnight Cake. Boy, was it yummy and it was black!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What I Don't Like About Cupcakes...

is that you can't eat just one! At least I can't! My favorite are almond with buttercream icing. YUMMMY!!!!!

Here are some my daughter made with leftover batter. She used Americolor Turquoise (her favorite color) to tint them. She loves everything Turquoise or Teal.

Even in that color they look delicious!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

That time of year!

It's that time of year when the air is crisp, the leaves are dancing their way to the ground and my thoughts turn to cooking and MORE baking.

Tonight I made a Seafood Potpie (pictured above). I found the recipe in a magazine I bought. My daughter requested raviolis, so I made raviolis with sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic and a few peas thrown in for color. It was all gone in minutes.

My oldest daughter and I agreed although the potpie was good, we preferred another recipe I have called Stuffed Fish in Puffed Pastry. We've made this recipe with Tilapia and its just as good! The recipe is below. (You don't have to make it look like a fish if you don't feel like it) It's always a hit when I make it!


1/4 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup minced celery
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
8 ounces crabmeat
8 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined and
1/4 cup dry vermouth
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry
sheets, thawed
2 pounds flounder fillets
2 egg yolks, beaten

1. To make the stuffing: Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat.

Saute onion, celery, and parsley until all of the vegetables are just tender. Mix in crabmeat,shrimp, and vermouth. Season with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce; cook until shrimp is finished cooking (it will be pink). Mix in bread crumbs, a little at a time. When the mixture holds together well, stop adding bread crumbs. Taste and add more seasoning (salt,pepper, and hot pepper sauce) if necessary. Set this mixture aside to let it cool.

2. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

3. Roll 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a flat surface. The puff pastry, once rolled should be about 1/3 to 1/4 inch thick and large enough for you to lay the fish on top of it and still have puff pastry on the sides. Lay one of the fish fillets on top of the puff pastry. Spread the stuffing mixture evenly over the fish fillet. Place the remaining fillet over the stuffing. Trim the pastry
around the filets in roughly the shape of a fish. Save the trimmings.

4. Roll second sheet of puff pastry out to about 1/3 to 1/4 inch thick. Drape second sheet over stuffed fillets, making sure that there is enough of the top sheet to tuck under the bottom sheet of puff pastry. Trim the top sheet of pastry about 1/2 inch larger than the bottom sheet. Brush underside of top pastry sheet with water and tuck under bottom sheet of puff pastry pressing lightly to totally encase the fish and stuffing package. Place the sealed packet on the prepared baking sheet, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. While packet is chilling, roll out pastry scraps. From the scraps cut out fins, an eye and 'lips'. Attach cut-outs to chilled package with a little water. Use an inverted teaspoon to make indentations in puff pastry to resemble fish scales but do not puncture pastry.

Chill entire package.
6. While the package is chilling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

7. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and brush the package with the egg yolks. Measure
the thickness of the package at its thickest part. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the
temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake the fish for 10 extra minutes per
inch of measured thickness. Test for doneness by inserting a thermometer into the package,
when the temperature reaches 140 degrees F (70 degrees C) the fish is finished cooking

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Busy day!

What I thought was going to be an easy day turned out to be full of drama, but we won't get too much into that.

This cake was designed by the birthday girl who was turning 16. I thought the elements would make it look a bit odd, but I think it turned out pretty cool. More importantly, the mom and daughter loved it!

On another note I bought a cookie magazine. One of the first ones I want to try is Taco Cheese cookies. I know! I know! Sounds weird, yet intriguing doesn't it?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Love this weather!

So I really love the fall!!! The cool, crisp air, the leaves changing into those beautiful orange, golds and reds, not to mention all the luscious, round pumpkins! I love it so much my oldest daughter's knickname is Pumpkin. My youngest daughter's middle name is Autumn.

I love pumpkin pie, sweet potatoe pie, even white potato pie! Yes, white potato pie! My friend Deannie makes the best pies.

I absolutely love pumpkin. Yesterday I made Buttnernut Squash Soup, a family favorite. Last week I made Pumpkin cookies. They looked better in the magazine then out of my oven although they tasted good. I also have a great Pumpkin Cake recipe that tastes like Pumpkin Pie.

I wish Autumn would last all year long!

Happy Autumn!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

3rd Annual North Georgia Cake Challenge

This year I was an assistant again. The category was Wedding Cakes but no theme was given. Dawn of decided we sho uld go with a coffee theme. We have met once a week for the past twelve years to play scrabble at Starbucks. (Okay for the first year it was Caribou Coffee.)

Dawn designed a beautiful cake that incorporated chocolate fondant coffee beans made by hand, fondant coffee flowers and berries. We used Starbucks coffee cups as seperators and filled them with real coffee beans then stuck an LED light in each cup where the logo is. She made the bride and groom out of fondant and added the round Starbucks sign on top with lights! We placed 2nd out of five competitors. Not too shabby! Below are the other winners, from 1st place to 5th place.