Happy November!

This is one of my very favorite months.  Which is saying a lot because November can be cold and gray (and I’m much more of a summer time kind of gal) but there are some great things going on this month!

The first and probably my favorite is Thanksgiving.  I have loved Thanksgiving since I was a kid sneaking away from helping my Mom setting the table to go watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Honestly, I mostly just like the first portion of the parade when all of the Broadway shows perform and of course the Rockettes.  Something else that sticks in my mind from watching the parade as a kid was the cotton commercials that used to play every year.  Do you remember those?  The ones where the kids were rushing around setting the table probably to Sting’s “Fields of Gold” song.

Anyway, November is also my birthday month!  Plus, my nephew Drew and niece Ellen have birthdays in November (all within a couple of days!).  This year was Ellen’s first birthday and our sister Marianne asked to make the cake, smash cake, and cupcakes.  Now I am certainly no cake decorator.  That is for certain!

For the big cake and Ellen’s smash cake (which she was terrified of) I actually used a box mix for the vanilla cake – I like the French Vanilla version.  The special part is that both are three layer cakes and each layer inside is a different shade of pink!  It was another inspiration from Pinterest.

For the filling in the big cake, I used Martha Stewart’s lemon curd.  It tasted great with the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (I did double the recipe) and the French Vanilla Cake.

For the cupcakes, I made Martha Stewart’s Devil’s Food cupcakes.  I did make one substitution of Dutch-processed cocoa with Dark Chocolate cocoa.  These were amazing!  Especially with Sweetapolita’s Buttercream Frosting.  Here’s the recipe below:

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

6 cups confectioner’s sugar

120 ml whipping cream

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon water

Pinch of salt

Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on low for about two (2) minutes.  Add the remainder of the ingredients and whip on high for four (4) minutes.  If the consistency is too thick, add a teaspoon of water and whip for 30 more seconds.

I hope you enjoy these recipes I will be busy celebrating birthdays and testing out some new Thanksgiving recipes.

Hallie

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November 13, 2011. Desserts, Musings. Leave a comment.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

As I said, Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my current obsession.  I first made it for my niece Ellen’s christening cake.  I’m sure many have seen the kind of cake that I made.  The pink ruffled cake that Martha Stewart featured and is all over Pinterest.  You know this one…

The cake is so cute and extremely easy to make with little cake decorating experience.  The best thing that I learned from making this cake was how to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  If you’ve never had it before, the buttercream is smooth and not overly sweet, something that I love since I think traditional buttercream can be too sweet at times.

Here I am going to give you the basics for how to make a Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  It might sound daunting but it’s much easier than it seems.

Here’s the ingredient list:

1 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

6 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

To begin, cut the softened butter into tablespoon size pieces and set aside.  Then place your mixing bowl with the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler of simmering water.  Whisk continuously until the mixture is warm and the sugar is completely dissolved or when the mixture reaches 140 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Take the mixing bowl and set it up with the whisk attachment on your electric mixer.  Allow the egg whites to whisk for 10 minutes on high until they are cooled and fluffy.

Reduce the mixer to medium high and add the butter one tablespoon at a time until they are incorporated.  Once all of the butter is incorporated, switch to your paddle attachment and add vanilla and the pinch of salt.  Continue to beat the buttercream on low/medium for another three to five minutes.  The buttercream may change in consistency and look curdled.  This is ok, just keep beating until it is smooth and creamy.

Enjoy!

Hallie

October 27, 2011. Desserts. 1 comment.

Cake Boss Vanilla Recipe is Boss!

We love baking cupcakes in our house and I grew up with homemade cakes. I have always struggled with finding a classic vanilla cake that is flavorful and stays moist. The moist factor has always been my biggest gripe and box mixes always seem to fare better. That is until now.

My kids and I love seeing Buddy’s creations on tv and there has never been a doubt that he’s the Boss of Decorating. Since I have never eaten one of his cakes, I always wondered if he was also the Boss of Taste too!

After his appearance on Rachael Ray where he demonstrated his classic vanilla cake, I had to try it. I missed the first couple of minutes, but I did hear him talking about using oil instead of butter to make it moist.

Now, I love the taste of butter in baking, so I thought I would test his recipe using a mixture of the two. Instead of 3/4 cup of butter or oil, I used 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of oil. Now, I know butter and oil are not necessarily interchangeable in recipes in the same quantity, but I thought I would give it a whirl. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants a lot in the kitchen!  Since I made cupcakes, the baking time was adjusted to 17-20 minutes. 

Well, the result was amazing! Super moist cake with a wonderful flavor!  They are topped with a traditional buttercream (I’ll share that recipe soon as I am constantly tweaking it). I can’t wait to make this as a cake with a yummy filling (maybe my favorite strawberry one!!)  My mouth is already watering!!

Happy Baking,
Melissa

October 10, 2011. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Mini Fruit Pizzas for a friend…

Recently my friend Ashley was hosting a bridal shower for her friend at her house.  At the beginning of the summer at a barbeque she was hosting, the bride-to-be was there and tried some of my mini fruit pizzas.  Both her and her fiance loved them so Ashley requested that I make some for the bridal shower.

I have been making different variations of fruit pizzas for many years and love trying new variations.  This is the recipe for my classic fruit pizzas.

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Fruit Pizzas with Lime Cream Cheese Spread

    • Sugar Cookie Dough – You can use your favorite recipe or store-bought.  This is the recipe I used.
    • 1 – 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat but I wouldn’t recommend fat-free)
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • zest and juice of 1 lime
    • Assortment of fruit (I used sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, & kiwi)
    • White chocolate (optional)
    Start by rolling out you cookie dough.  You can do this one of two ways, roll and cut the cookies to make individual pizzas or roll out a large circle to make a large, more traditional looking pizza.  Bake according to the recipe or package directions then allow them to cool.

    Since these were for a bridal shower, I made mini pizzas to make them easier to eat and serve.  Also I wanted to make them even cuter so I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

    Once you have finished baking the cookies and eating all of the cookies that got a little too brown for breakfast you can start on your spread.

    For the spread, mix the softened cream cheese with the sugar and the lime zest and juice.  You may need to use two limes for the juice but mine was very juicy!  You can also experiment with lemon or orange in the spread but I love the lime.
    Now we’re ready to assemble.  Start by spreading the cream cheese mixture on the cookies then arranging the fruit on each cookie.  You can use any mix of fruit that you like but I especially like the berries.  I also like pineapple with this mixture.
    To make the fruit pizzas ultra-fabulous, you can drizzle them with a little melted white chocolate.  Sadly, my white chocolate was just not cooperating with me that day.

    I hope you enjoy the pizzas and try not to eat too many!

    Hallie

    October 7, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Hello all!

We are two sisters, Melissa and Hallie, who love to cook and constantly make changes to our homes (changes both big and small!).

Our love of cooking comes from our Mommom who was an amazing cook and always went the extra mile to make things special for all of us.  Our constant need to make changes to our home comes from our Mom who was always doing something to the 1870’s house we grew up in.

A little more about each of us…

Hi I’m Hallie and just recently got married in March.  The past few months have seemed to fly by!  We are still in the process of fixing up our home and I am still discovering my ever evolving tastes when it comes to decorating.  As far as cooking is concerned, I am always trying new things and finding new obsessions.  My current obsession is Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  I really think I could just eat it by the spoonful!  I am very excited to share with you all of my successes and failures as I find my next new obsessions.

 Hello!  I’m Melissa and a wife to my sweet hubby and mom to 3 kids who are growing up way too fast!  I love to cook, but especially love to bake.  I try to stay healthy and homemade as much as it’s possible with picky kids and a child with food sensitivities.  

Our house is always a work in progress as our home improvement journey has taken us from builder’s basic to the place we lovingly call home!  I am excited to use this creative outlet to share my love for the yummy, fun, and sometimes messy adventures in my crazy, but wonderful life!

September 26, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.