Recently I had someone ask me “but who makes birthday cakes for the person that always makes everyone else a cake?” The answer is the baker still makes the cake haha! It is my favorite time of year to make cakes because I can get as over the top as I want. The only person I can disappoint is myself.
I made two birthday cakes because my actual birthday was on a Monday and I still wanted a small slice, but we weren’t actually celebrating until the following Saturday. Technically I made three cakes. When I made the orange zest cake we had to travel to North Carolina and somehow the cake flipped during the drive before I could take any pictures. So today I made a second orange zest cake which I fully plan on enjoying after this post!
It is so hard for me to believe I am already 31! I don’t feel like I am in my thirties yet. My life is slowly coming together. I am finally happy with my day time job and Patrick and I are embracing the whole farm to table concept. I really want to incorporate as much fresh whole foods as possible into our diets the older we get. BUT after saying all that… it WAS my birthday week AND I do love food.
For both cakes I did use box mixes to keep it easy, but I added some of my own ingredients to get a real homemade taste. The first cake is a brown butter orange zest cake with vanilla orange buttercream. The second is a coffee fudge cake. It is hard to say which is my favorite. I do love chocolate, but orange cake is a birthday tradition. My mom always made them for me growing up.
One of the BEST parts of these cakes is the sprinkles! Patrick hates sprinkles so I rarely get to use them. But today… today we are using tons of sprinkles just because I can!
Patrick and I are trying to eat whole farm fresh foods, but sometimes you really get those cravings for something cheesy and comforting. When you make these dishes at home you can really control what is going into them. These Pollo Asado Street Corn Nachos were perfect for our date night at home! We both love fresh grilled corn so I wanted to make that the star of the dish. It was a fresh sweet crunch that really lightened up a typically heavy dish.
I am not a huge fan of cotija cheese which is usually paired with street corn. I knew I was going to use queso blanco which is a processed cheese so I wanted to make sure every other ingredient was fresh and organic. I started with organic restaurant style tortilla chips. I found some by Mission Tortillas at the grocery store that were thin and only made with a few ingredients. I lightened up the queso by heating it up with a little milk and drizzled over the chips. Then a little chopped fresh poblano peppers. A very generous sprinkle of the grilled corn topped with some grilled pollo asado. Then another generous sprinkle of grilled corn followed by black beans. I topped everything off with a squeeze of lime and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
My favorite place to pick up my ingredients is a farmers market or a grocery store marketed as an organic food chain. We love Sprouts market. They always have very fresh ingredients and I have never been disappointed in the quality. One of our go to proteins is their marinated chicken thighs. Rubbed in spices then marinated in olive oil, red onion, and cilantro these thighs always taste amazing off the grill. You can definitely marinate the chicken yourself, but sometimes its nice finding a pre-marinated protein that you can trust.
Today’s post is going to be so quick and easy I am almost embarrassed to share. These easy cotton candy meringue cookies took about 10 minutes of prep time and 1 hour of cook time. Seriously one of the easiest treats I’ve made in ages.
I was decorating my little brother’s birthday cake when Patrick’s daughter wondered into the kitchen. Lately, the kids have been so wrapped up in Pokemon that they really haven’t asked to help out in the kitchen. So when Sophia asked if we could make cookies for dessert I needed to find something fast and easy.
These meringue cookies were inspired by the sprinkles sitting on the counter in all honesty. I had never made a meringue cookie before, but I knew they were fairly simple. So into the bowl I tossed my egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar. Boom and done.
Easy meringue cookies that taste a lot like cotton candy!
For the cookie
4 egg whites at room temp
⅛ tsp of cream of tartar
¾ cup of sugar
2 tbsp of vanilla extract
food coloring if you choose
For the frosting
½ cup of unsalted butter
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with a mat or parchment paper.
In a clean dry mixing bowl whip the egg whites and cream of tartar.
After about 2 minutes slowly add in the sugar.
When the mix begins to resemble whipped cream add in the extract and food colorings.
Whip until you can turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites stay put!
Fill a pastry bag or ziplock with the egg whites and pipe onto the pan.
I made little nests.
Bake for one hour until firm and crisp.
Do not let brown.
Let cool for 20 minutes.
For the frosting:
Whip the ingredients on medium high for about 5 minutes then pipe into the meringue nests.
Sprinkle again :p
You can definitely skip the buttercream, but I think that adds to the cotton candy flavor. Feel free to change up the shape too! These are so fun to make and easy to customize! Perfect melt in your mouth goodness.
Easy Caramel Pineapple Cake. I say easy because the cake part is easy. The cookies and decorating take a little bit more time, but you cake throw together the cake portion very quickly. The caramel and fresh pineapple melt together perfectly with each whipped icing bite. You can definitely use a premade caramel, but I personally love this home made version.
World Market always has my favorite cookie cutters. Last winter I found this perfect pineapple cookie cutter and I have been dying to use it ever since!
The weather has been so gloomy and I knew this would be the perfect time for this bright cake. You don’t have to make the cookies for this recipe, but I just love how they turned out. This icing is definitely sweet, but paired with the mellow cake and fresh fruit I think it worked out well. You can definitely add a little more cream or butter to lower the sugaring taste.
Vanilla cake layered with caramel, fresh pineapple, and whipped caramel icing.
For the cake:
Your favorite vanilla cake recipe or a boxed vanilla mix.
For this recipe I used the Betty Crocker Vanilla Cake Mix
⅓ cup of canola oil
1 cup of whole milk
2 tbsps of caramel sauce
For the caramel sauce:
1 stick of salted butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
For the filling:
½ cup of chopped fresh pineapple
For the icing:
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
1½ sticks of unsalted butter
⅓ cup of cream
2 tbsps of caramel sauce
For the cookies:
1¾ cups of AP flour
⅛ tsp of baking soda
⅛ tsp of baking powder
1 stick of unsalted butter
⅛ tsp of salt
1 tsp of vanilla extract
½ cup of sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.
Add in the brown sugar and stir quickly.
Leave mixture until it begins to bubble.
Lower the heat and add in the cream.
Carefully mix until the caramel comes together.
Set to the side to cool.
Mix together the ingredients for the cake batter.
Pour the cake batter into prepared 6 inch pans I used 2 and had a little left over. You can also use 3 pans or 2 8 inch pans.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
While the cake is baking mix together the cookie dough.
In the mixture cream the butter and sugar.
Add in the egg and vanilla.
Mix in the dry ingredients.
The dough will come together quickly.
Spread a little powdered sugar on a clean area and add the dough.
With a rolling pin roll out the dough to about an inch thick.
Cut out the pineapples and place on a lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes or until the sides look slightly golden brown.
While the cookies cool wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap.
Freeze while you make the frosting.
This keeps the layers from drying out and keeps the crumbs in place.
For the icing:
Whip the butter and caramel.
Add in the powdered sugar.
Mix in the vanilla.
Slowly add in the cream and any food colorings.
I used the wilton yellow food coloring for the enter icing then kept a small part to the side and added a little wilton blue to make a bright green icing.
Take the cake layers out and line each inside layer with the icing as a barrier.
Pour over a little caramel.
Top with pineapples.
Stacks the layers and ice the cake.
Decorate the cake and cookies and assemble.
Yes this cake takes a while to decorate, but the cake itself can be made quickly and is quite delicious. I know this will be one of my go to recipes this summer. I like this cake served slightly chilled because it keeps the pineapple tasting nice and fresh. You can keep it in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you decide to recreate don’t forget to tag me!
It feels so good to be back after two weeks! I have been stock piling recipes during my absence and I’m pretty sure these Brown Sugar Raisin Bagels are the best thing I’ve made in ages!
March was one of the busiest months I’ve had since the holidays. We had a huge joint birthday party for Patrick’s kids. That alone took two weeks planning and 3 days of prep work. I started a new position at work that actually has a better schedule, but it completely threw off the days I usually reserve for pictures. Now I am trying to find ways to use my artificial lights. These gorgeous bagels came to life early one morning so I was able to take advantage of the morning light.
Eventually I will find a way to balance my work and blog, but for today we are just going to dive right into these bagels.
We were grocery shopping a few weeks ago and saw a little tub of brown sugar cream cheese. Now I’m sure I have just been living under a rock, but I had no idea this stuff existed! Here is just a little insight into how my recipes come to be – first ingredient cream cheese. Now what is the best way to savor a spoonful of brown sugar cream cheese? More brown sugar obviously! Next raisins because I wanted a little extra flavor. I wasn’t really sure if I was making a bread or bagels until I got home.
I really wanted a nice crust so I knew it was going to be bagels. These have the perfect chew with a nice crust and more brown sugar crumble. They were pretty much perfect to slather with cream cheese!
I have always had an unhealthy obsession with olives. No idea where it came from because as far as I know I am the only person in my family that eats them. Patrick and I had just picked up a mixture of super tart olives marinated with red pepper and Parmesan rinds. I knew I had to use them in a pasta dish, but I just wasn’t sure what kind. We also bought 1/2 a pound of fresh angel hair pasta and hot Italian sausage. So obviously I had to make Pasta Puttanesca with rosted sausage!
This is not your traditional Pasta Puttanesca. Traditionally all the ingredients come from a can, but I wanted something with a bold fresh taste. The traditional dish uses whole canned tomatoes, but I found a can of fire roasted whole tomatoes that were perfect!
Spicy tart olives simmered with garlic, tomatoes, capers, and olive oil make the perfect sauce for this dish. Make sure you have lots of bread for dipping. (Trust me!)
Meringue has always been one of those things that intimidated me in the kitchen. I never had a desire to even attempt making a meringue for my pies because I felt like it was sooooo high maintenance. Last week I was testing new recipes and I really wanted a topping that would stand on its own. So I attempted a meringue.
Not only was it just as easy as making my standard whipped cream, but it stood up for perfect. Plus those browned edges look delicious.
You can definitely use fresh eggs, but I had just picked up some pasteurized egg whites and they turned out great.
If you use fresh eggs I do think the mix with firm up a little easier. My meringue was very delicate, but still had a great flavor and was able to keep the shape I formed.
Sometimes the Farmer’s Market is all the inspiration I need to make something truly great. We were passing the fresh baked baskets and it was all I could do not to take a huge bite out of the various ciabatta rolls. They smelled so insanely good. Right away I knew I needed them to make these steak sandwiches.
We picked up the everything, asiago, and onion flavors. That bag sat in our shopping basket taunting is with perfect baked bread smell packed full of different cheese and spices.
Next was the steak. I used sirloin that had been marinated in garlic, soy sauce, and spices for 24 hours. We grabbed some smokey provolone cheese and spicy pickles. On the way home Patrick also bought a jar of fresh pepper jelly – one of our favorite condiments!
Fast forward to the caramelized onions, horseradish mayo and fresh veggies. Now we have the perfect sandwich! My favorite part is just how fresh each bite is!
Why German Chocolate Celebration Cake? This cake is made for celebrating! You start with four 6 inch fudge cake layers, caramel coconut filling, a whipped chocolate frosting, chocolate ganache, caramel, and all the trimmings.
I topped everything with a little toasted coconut, a bag of almond joy mix, homemade fudge donuts, and homemade chocolate bark. You can top this with anything. I think next time I may try for a chocolate mocha cake next time.
These cake layers are so moist and really hold up well during decorating. This is a very time consuming design so I recommend baking the cake layers the day before and wrapping them with plastic wrap. If you keep them in the freezer it will help keep the crumbs at bay as well as retain the moisture.
Every Valentine’s Day I sit and contemplate- wine or brownies? I picked up some of my favorite red wine from Trader Joes and I knew I wanted to do a Merlot infused ganache.
Once I started throwing together the brownie batter I drizzled a little more Merlot into the batter. The result was sooo good. The wine brings out the richness in the chocolate while keeping them so fudgey and moist.
These are honestly even better the next day. Enjoy them with a little cocoa whipped cream or on their own!