May 31, 2012

Princess Cake

This cake was created in a rushed time frame.  I would have liked to have taken more time to decorate it and make it look fancy but we needed to get going.  This is the cake I made for my daughters birthday party in Montana a couple of weeks ago.

I've seen this done several times by my friends and I've always wanted to try it.  I didn't have the time or space to make the cake from scratch but I did manage to make this fairly quickly.  See Rapunzel up there?  You know she's got REALLY long hair right? We (and by "we" I mean my sister) braided her hair and tucked it inside of her dress.  Good tip when you didn't think ahead of time about needing hairbands.

You will need to make three 9 inch round cakes and one cake in a glass heat proof bowl (such as a Pyrex bowl).  I used a medium sized bowl.

Freeze the cakes for a little while before you frost so there aren't as many crumbs.  Cut the tops off the round cakes so there is a flat surface. As for the cake made in the bowl, you need the round part on the bottom of the bowl (which will be the top) but you can cut off the bottom (the top when it's in the bowl) so it lays flat on the other round cakes.  Are you confused yet?

You need to cut a circle in the middle of each cake for the doll to fit.  I used a shot glass and then widened it a little with a knife.  I also put the doll up next to the cakes before I frosted them so I could see how tall she was and how much cake I needed to cut. 

Frost in between each layer as you assemble the cakes on top of each other.  If you have time you can do a crumb layer which is when you apply a small amount of frosting around the cake and then freeze it.  This virtually eliminates the crumbs from appearing on the final frosted layer. 

I didn't have time for that.

I think it turned out OK especially since I was in a rush but my daughter didn't seem to mind.

Make sure to wrap the doll in plastic wrap before putting her in her "dress".   I'd like to make another one when I have more time to decorate.  These cakes can look really cool if don't well.

May 24, 2012

Oatmeal Cream Sandwich Cookies

When I saw this recipe on Pinterest recently I saw this old favorite of mine.  Do you remember those Little Debbie one's?  I used to just love those things.  I think they still make them.  Anyway, they really bring back memories for me. I have to tell you that I think this homemade version is even better than those!  Not only are they bigger but the cookie is nice and chewy, the filling is so marshmallow-y.  D-lish-ous!

When I brought these over to a neighbors house for dinner one night they got rave reviews.  The kids loved them (of course) and the adults wanted the recipe.  Here you go girls!

FYI - I made the recipe exactly as indicated below but you might want to double the filling recipe if you don't want to skimp out.  I didn't have enough filling for all the cookies.

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies
Recipe from "Baked Perfection" found here


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats


  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Whisk to incorporate.
In the bowl of your stand mixer add the butter and both sugars.  Cream well for a couple of minutes.  Add the eggs, beating after each addition.  Add the molasses and vanilla and mix well.
Add the flour mixture and mix well.  Remove from the mixer and use a wooden spoon to add in the oatmeal.  Stir until combined. Drop dough by tablespoon (I used a cookie scoop) onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown.  Let sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
White the cookies cool you can prepare the filling. In a small bowl, dissolve the salt and the hot water.  Set aside to cool.
Combine the marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla and mix using your stand mixer on high until fluffy (3-4 minutes).  Add the cooled salt water and mix well.  Spread on the bottom of a cooled cooking and flatten down with another cookie on top. 

May 21, 2012

Savory Pilaf

I often find myself searching for a side dish, don't you?  It seems like it takes all my brain power to come up with the main dish and then I forget there should be a side until I'm almost done with the main dish.

Rice is a great go-to on a busy night.  Most people like it and most kids like it (not mine of course, but most). This is a great easy, straight forward recipe that can go with most any meat dish. It's not short on flavor because the rice is cooked in broth but it also leaves room for you to add your own favorites.  I think carrots or peas would be great.  Mushrooms are yummy.  Heck, even if you added the meat right on in it would be a hit!

This could be completely vegetarian if you switched the broth to veggie broth or vegan if you switched out the butter. 

Options are great to have aren't they?
Savory Pilaf
From Betty Crocker's Cookbook

2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 Cup)
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion.  Cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion is tender.

Stir in the rice.  cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the broth and the salt.

Heat to boiling and then cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 16 minutes. Do not lift the lid.  Remove from the heat.  Leave the cover on and let steam for about 5 minutes.

May 18, 2012

Dinner Club - Theme Chocolate

Dinner Club met up a couple weeks ago for a theme that is near and dear to most of our heats, Chocolate!  I was so excited about this theme because I wanted to see what creative ways people used it in main dish items, because I knew the desserts would be awesome.  The host of this months club was Lisa W. who made the Cocoa and Curry rubbed chicken you see above.  In addition to the chicken she made some brown rice and some roasted assorted vegetables.  The chicken was wonderful. I was a little apprehensive because I'm not the worlds biggest Curry fan but I was pleasantly surprised with this chicken.  Neither the Curry nor the cocoa flavors were overpowering yet there was plenty of flavor.  Thank you Lisa!
Cocoa and Curry Rubbed Chicken. Recipe from Hershey's website found here

Cocoa Curry spice rub:
2 Tbsp ground Cumin
2 Tbsp Curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cocoa

1 Tbsp Canola oil
6 boneless chicken breasts

Mix the spice rub together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oven to 350.

Rub chicken with canola oil and then sprinkle each breast with 1 tsp spice rub and rub it into the chicken until totally covered. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet.

Cook for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.

I made this Chocolate Bliss Waldorf Salad which can be eaten like you see above or it can be added on top of salad greens.  I chose to eat mine like you see above and thought it was really good.  I'll make it again for sure.

Chocolate Bliss Waldorf Salad
Found at Hershey's

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon raisin paste OR 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
  • 2 cups (2 medium) red eating apples, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mandarin orange segments
  • 1/2 cup (1 stalk) thin celery slices
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • Salad greens(optional)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Lisa F. made the chocolate strawberry won ton's you see to the left.  She experimented a little by using banana and chocolate in some and even some without chocolate.  I got one that was strawberry and chocolate and was loving every bite!

Lisa used egg roll wrappers for these because the grocery store didn't have any won ton wrappers but you could use either.

Melissa Y made this yummy Candy Bar Cake.  I know she found the recipe in the Food Network Magazine found here.  It had a top layer of chocolate, then a layer of caramel, then a nougat layer and then pound cake.  Super yum's.

I'll list the ingredients here so you can decide if you're going to make it but leave the instructions out since it is lengthy.

Candy Bar Cake
Food Network

1 12-ounce frozen pound cake
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 Tbsp milk
1 1lb box confectioners sugar
3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts
2 cups dulce de leche

10 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick cold unsalted butter

Check out the recipe from the link above if you'd like to give this a try.  I promise it's worth it!

May 16, 2012


I really do have a good excuse for being absent last week.  My family and I went to Montana to visit my family there.  We had the best time.  The weather even stayed nice for the most part (that's saying something for Montana in May)!  We had upper 50's to mid 60's the whole visit.  Of course the day we left it soared into the 70's but that's OK.  I do live in the South now where the weather is always on the nice side.

My daughter and I flew into Denver and met up with my dad who was driving from Louisiana.  We met up on Wednesday night and then got a hotel and left early Thursday morning to drive the rest of the way.  We took our time and ended up in Sheridan, WY for the evening.  The next morning we finished our journey in my hometown of Livingston.  My husband flew into Bozeman and met us in Livingston only about 20 minutes after we arrived.  Perfect timing.

The rest of the vacation was a blur really.  We ate so much more than I care to reveal here and we took some walks next to the Yellowstone River.  We visited Yellowstone park, Museum of the Rockies, Chico Hotspings.  We ate.  We visited with some family and friends I haven't seen in a very long time.  We ate some more. We went to my friends ranch and hung out and did ranch stuff.  My daughter even rode a horse all by herself!  We had a small birthday party for my little girl who turned four on the 13th.  She technically didn't turn four until we were already back home but we celebrated anyway. 

So much fun, I can't wait to go back again soon.

Sulfur Springs at Yellowstone. There is a lovely aroma here.

Buffalo shedding his winter coat.

Snow!  I waited all winter to see snow and didn't get any.  It just took a trip to Yellowstone to make that happen.

Old Faithful

One of my favorite flowers - the Lilac.  We can't grow them here in the South.

My friend's chicken lays this greenish/blue egg. 

My daughter got to bottle feed this calf.

She also got to ride this horse all by herself. Such a big moment for me.  She looked so little.  We were safely in a corral and the horse was old and very good with children.  I am a proud mama for sure.

I have a Princess cake to share with you that I made for her while we were there but I wanted to share a little of our vacation first. 

Do you have any favorite vacation spots?

May 14, 2012

Candied Orange Peel

It has happened twice now that I've gone to make a recipe and needed candied orange peel and couldn't find it. I called all the stores I thought would carry it and apparently it's only a seasonal thing so I was out of luck. I decided it was time to make my own.  There are a ton of recipes out there on the Internet and I can't quite tell you why I chose this one but I did.  It worked, and I have a ton of candied orange peel now.  If I ever do need to make more I'll give one of the other recipes a whirl because this one does take several days.  It's not the instant gratification recipe that I usually go for.  If you've got a favorite please feel free to share. I need to candy some Lemons too....

I started with 6 organic oranges.  You really need oranges with no wax coating and a nice thick peel.

Cut the peels off in one inch pieces (after cutting the top and bottom portion off).

You can leave the pith on at this point, it will be removed later.

Cover in water

Boil for two minutes and then drain.  Do this three more times.

Make a simple syrup.

Juice all those oranges while you wait. I have a good orange ice cream recipe on here if you're interested. The juice has no bearing on this recipe at all. 

After the third boiling, peel the pith off leaving about 1/8 inch.

Boil the peels again two more times for a total of five times.

Drain and drop the peels into the simple syrup. Cook for 15 minutes and then turn off the heat and let sit overnight.

In the morning, use your fingers to push off the thick syrup and lay the peels on a cooling wrack for at least 24 hours.

I saved the syrup that came off the orange strips.  I have no idea what to do with it other than use it in tea.

After the peels are dry and not tacky, coat them in sugar and then let them sit for another 24 hours.

Store in your freezer indefinitely in a plastic storage container.

Candied Orange Peel
Recipe found at "Calabria From Scratch" found here

6 Organic Oranges - or oranges that have not been coated with wax.
4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Use a pairing knife to cut the orange skin off in about 1 inch pieces. You can leave the pith on at this point and remove it later after cooking.

Cover the peels in cold water and bring to a boil for two minutes. Do this process three times.  After the peels have cooled you can begin to remove the pith.  Leave about 1/8 inch of the pith.

After the pith has been removed you will need to follow the step above again two more times for a total of 5 times.

In a separate pot you will make a simple syrup.  Add the sugar, lemon juice and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Stir often until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the drained peels and cook at a simmer for about an hour until the peels look translucent.

Remove from the heat and let cool overnight in the syrup. The next morning the syrup will be very thick, like honey.  Use your fingers to pick out each peel and run two fingers down each peel to remove the excess syrup.  Place the peels on a drying rack. Let them dry for at least 24 hours until they are no longer tacky.  Coat them with sugar and let them dry for another 24 hours before storing them in your freezer indefinitely.

May 2, 2012

Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

One of my favorite blogs posted this recipe recently and I knew I'd be making it as soon as possible. I'm so glad I did, it's a keeper for sure.  The bottom is a regular shortbread, caramel in the middle and chocolate on top.  She added sea salt to hers which I didn't but I'll give it a try next time.  The other difference between her recipe and mine is that she actually made the caramel from scratch.  I planned to follow hers exactly until I realized I didn't have any sweetened condensed milk but I did have Kraft Caramel squares so I improvised.

I'm not sure how the homemade caramel version stood up to being at room temperature but the Kraft caramels really needed to be cold or they would ooze all of the place. I brought some to work with me and they got excellent reviews.

I plan to make these again soon (after I buy some sweetened condensed milk) and try the fully homemade option. 

As I mentioned above, I didn't have the ingredients for the caramel layer in the original recipe. The recipe below is the method I used but the link above will bring you to the original recipe.

Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars
Recipe found at "Tracey's Culinary Adventures" here

Shortbread2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 bags of Kraft Caramel Squares (individually wrapped)
1/4 cup of milk

8 oz chocolate, finely chopped (I used bittersweet)
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. It makes it easier if you spray the pan first with non-stick cooking spray because the parchment will then stick to that.

Start with the shortbread layer first.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together and then set aside. Using your stand mixer, add the paddle attachment and then beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Lower the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press into an even layer using your fingers. Bake for 15-18 minutes. The crust will remain fairly pail but should turn a slight golden color. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Use a double boiler for the caramel layer.  Start a saucepan simmering over low heat and put a heat proof bowl over the top.  Add the unwrapped caramels and the milk and stir occasionally until smooth. Pour over the cooled shortbread and let cool.  I put mine in the refrigerator for an hour or so.

For the last layer, add the chocolate, corn syrup and butter into another heat proof bowl and place it on top of a pan of simmering water.  Stir frequently until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer and chill.  If you're adding salt you will want to add it a few minutes after you pour it and before you chill it.  Keep cold for best results.