Category Archives: Cakes

Black Raspberry Cake

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Ahh, what a weekend. No major obligations. Just quality family time doing whatever we wanted. We lounged, we went black raspberry picking again like last weekend, we swam in the rain and in the sunshine, we went to a movie and watched one at home and we celebrated our friend, Lesley’s, birthday which meant I spent a little time in the kitchen.

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I was a bit heavy handed with my dusting of powdered sugar and the edges were well done but it was still a well received cake.

Since I had 5 very ripe bananas sitting in the fridge I whipped up some chocolate chip banana muffins using my favorite Cooks Illustrated recipe for Ultimate Banana Bread. I blogged about this recipe way back in 2011 for the first time and included some terrible photos to boot. You can find those terrible photos and the recipe here and I highly recommend that you give it a whirl! Sorry I don’t have any improved pictures to post for you. The 12 normal sized and 24 mini muffins were annihilated before I thought to photograph them and it doesn’t help that my camera has been missing since the 4th…so that sucks.

Anyways, I didn’t think the muffins would be enough for our little birthday get together and I felt the birthday girl needed an actual cake for her candles so I whipped up one of my favorite little cakes that takes almost no time to throw together. I was turned on to this cake originally by my sister-in-law and can’t believe I haven’t shared it with you until now. It’s a pleasant alternative to a traditional birthday cake and is a crowd pleaser.

The recipe comes from Simply Recipes and it’s originally posted as a Blueberry Cake but since I failed to thaw my blueberries, was short on time and had a fridge full of freshly picked black raspberries it was a no-brainer to take a more seasonal approach to this cake.

Have a special function coming up?  Got a craving for something berry-filled and delicious? Give this cake a try! You’ll be glad that you did, I promise.

 

Blueberry or Black Raspberry Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon of flour (plus more for prepping cake pan)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups blueberries/black raspberries/any other berry, rinsed and drained (if using frozen berries, thaw and drain first)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour. Or use a 9-inch round cake pan, butter and dust with flour and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2 Combine 1 cup of flour with baking powder and salt and set aside.

3 Using a mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed for 2 minutes. Then add the sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, a couple minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well blended. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture, beating until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

4 Combine the berries with the remaining teaspoon of flour and the lemon juice in a bowl. Spoon the berry mixture over the batter.

5 Bake on middle rack in oven for 1 hour at 350°F, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully slide a thin knife around the edges of the cake to release it from the pan. Transfer the cake to a platter, berry side up. Dust the cake with powdered sugar before serving.

 

 

Rainbow Cake in a Jar

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My cousin, Jess, came to hang and my nephew was over and it was a dreary day. What better way to brighten it up than by making rainbow cake in mason jars?!?

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It was simple and fun and, despite the fact that our layers didn’t bake as nicely as the pictures on Google showed no one cared because, it was delicious.

Thanks for the great idea, Jess!

Throw this activity onto your Summer bucket list. Your kids will thank you!

Cheers,
Colleen

Let’s Talk Chocolate Cake

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Since I just filled y’all in about pregnancy #4 in my last post I figure it’s only fitting we should now discuss chocolate cake. Who am I kidding though? Talking about, and eating, chocolate cake is fitting at any time in my life but we’ll get after it here and now.

I’ve had my eye on a chocolate cake recipe that I stumbled across over at melskitchencafe.com a few weeks back. Mel boasted of a moist cake using an unconventional ingredient with fluffy chocolate whipped cream frosting. I was sold, especially since I’m so over the standard birthday cake combo of yellow cake with buttercream frosting. I bookmarked the recipe and daydreamed about it until yesterday when I decided that with Spring break over and soccer beginning we needed a little extra sweetness in our life.

The cake baked up great and flat thanks to Wilton’s Bake Even Strips that I always put around my pans. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can check them out here. Basically they help reduce the amount of cake you have to trim off after baking to achieve level layers for stacking.

As for the chocolate whipped cream frosting, that was pretty straightforward so naturally I screwed it up. Either I didn’t let the chocolate-cream mixture cool completely in the fridge prior to whipping or my mixer speed was set too high or most likely, both. Whatever the reason I ended up with a mess, far from the fluffy chocolaty goodness I was aiming for. Mind you, it was a delicious mess but a mess all the same and I had no time to start over. That’s when I improvised and added powdered sugar until the consistency recovered enough to slather on the cake but, make no mistake, I was pissed. I’m an emotional baker.

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After dinner I served up the cake and I was pretty impressed with the cake itself. It was moist and chocolaty and it passed the test of my chocoholic husband. He even said the cake as a whole would have been great if the frosting hadn’t sucked. Love that honesty! The kids and I didn’t mind the frosting so much but I can’t wait to make it slathered in something more fluffy.

Then things got fun and I asked them to guess the secret ingredient. My son said, “Sprinkles!”

Nope, but that’s a solid 4-year-old guess.

My daughter pondered and said, “Chocolate!”

Nope, wouldn’t be a secret ingredient since the whole cake consists of it.

So then I said, “Quinoa!”

(Did you just groan at me or cheer? I couldn’t tell.)

It’s a gluten-free, dairy-free cake made with cooked quinoa that gets blended in a blender with the milk, eggs and vanilla extract. The recipe is linked above and if you have any uncooked quinoa left over from the other recipes I’ve suggested this would be a delicious way to use it up. Just don’t screw up the frosting like I did! I promise to move off the quinoa bandwagon but I had to share this adventure with you.

Stay happy in the kitchen, friends.

Love, Your Sugar-Addicted Pregger

 

 

 

Made It!

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So about two and a half weeks ago I was sitting on my butt twiddling my fingers, a little bored. Sure there was housework to be done but I figured that could wait as I sat on the couch with my little ones, or rather as I sat and my little ones crawled/wrestled/jumped all over me. It’s a novelty having mom just sit on the couch and chill. I really need to do it more often. Any who, what I was really doing was conserving my energy for the upcoming slam that included baking 9 dozen sugar cookies for my oldest friend’s wedding, 3 dozen sugar cookies for my daughter’s 6th birthday party, 1 very specific birthday cake, 3 dozen birthday party cupcakes along with a small cake for blowing out the candles/spitting all over, and 4 dozen sugar cookies for a 100th birthday celebration. I did that in 9 days. Never mind the fact that my twin and her hubby came into town for the wedding, stayed up until 2:30am both nights and boogied our butts. Basically it left me worn out but now that I’m on the other side of it all I can breath easy and smile because, well, it’s over for one and for two, everything went over very well. She here’s a photo recap of the craziness…

Below are the sugar cookies for the wedding. There were 3 dozen of each, all tied up in little treat bags and I really wish I had taken a photo of all the bags sprawled out on my table. It was a sight! I’ve included a pic of the beautiful bride, Jessica, and my oldest buddy, Mike. Last comes my favorite picture of two of my munchkins spoiling their dinner while agreeing mom’s cookies take the cake.

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Despite the bad lighting I love this next photo as well. It includes all my nearest and dearest people in the world. From left to right: My brother-in-law, Chace; twin sister, Kelly; mom, Anke; husband and kiddos; myself; and my “little” brother, Brenden. They are my happy place.

My favorite people in the world. My BIL, sister, mom, husband and kiddos and my brother.

My favorite people in the world. My BIL, sister, mom, husband and kiddos and my brother.

Thrown into the week of baking and crazy fun was my daughter’s 6th birthday on Wednesday followed by her glow party at Pump It Up on Friday. She wanted a Supergirl theme with the standard colors, nothing girly but was specific that her birthday cake be a pink angel food cake with chocolate frosting and including the Supergirl logo on it. This is what I came up with:

She was happy with the result after I explained that the Supergirl logo had her initial in it instead of the 'S'.

She was happy with the result after I explained that the Supergirl logo had an “L” for her name instead of the “S” for Supergirl.

There were 29 kids at the party... It was wild!

There were 29 kids at the party… It was wild!

A quick cake needed to be whipped up so Super Girl could blow her germs all over it

A quick cake needed to be whipped up so Super Girl could blow her germs all over it

This shot, although dark and blurry, cracks me  up.

This shot, although dark and blurry, cracks me up and shows exactly why I didn’t want her blowing out candles on the cupcakes!

3 dozen Super Lilly cookies were handed out as favors.

3 dozen Super Lilly cookies were handed out as favors.

And of course a few tropical/St. Patrick's inspired cookies needed to be made for my sister and her husband's first anniversary this past Sunday.

And of course a few tropical/St. Pat’s inspired cookies needed to be made for my sister and her husband’s first anniversary which they are celebrating back where the magic happened; The Dominican Republic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took Sunday off from baking and partying to recover a little and to clean the pigsty that my house had become. Monday I went back to the kitchen, grabbed the flour, sugar and such and got down to business. This time I was baking for a very special occasion. My Grammy’s best friend, Libby, who passed away in December would have turned 100 years old this past Wednesday and there was a big celebration at her senior apartment building in her honor. Libby was a lover of butterflies so it was a no brainer what type of cookie to bake:

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Spending the morning with some lovely blue hairs and my littlest lady who was running amok to everyone’s delight was a great way to end my marathon of baking and partying. I have quickly switched gears and am busy enjoying Spring with my minions and mutts and all the mud that goes with it!

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It’s nice to be back writing again and to have the flour and sugar wiped from my countertops!

Happy Spring, y’all!

Colleen

 

My Sweet Boy Is 4!

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It’s 9am on January 5th. Four years ago at this moment I was laboring in a hospital room in Chicago wondering if my husband was going to make it in time to see our son make his grand enterance. His dad made it with about 30 minutes to spare and we whole-heartedly welcomed Odin Greystoke into the world. He was a bundle of love from the start and nothing has changed. He loves a good snuggle as well as an aggressive tickle. He’s a puzzling fool and a tackling machine. He’s equal parts laid back and wild and I am a blessed mama to have such a sweet little boy that makes me smile, laugh and holler each and every day.

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy! Let the Spiderman mania begin!

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Playing Like a Kid Again

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Remember those dot candies on the paper where you end up eating half the paper? I do and it reminds me of my childhood and the candy store in the mall that is no longer there. It was called Mr. Bulkies. It was awesome.

Anyways, I had some leftover royal icing from some cookies and so I figured I’d make some. I first made them on wax paper but of course they fell right off once they dried. What was I thinking. Silly me. Then I grabbed a long roll of paper and tried again

Great success! Don’t you think? I packaged them up and DSC03232sent them with the cookies for my neighbor’s 16th birthday party.

DSC03243These guys were excited about eating them and making more. They had a hard time waiting for the icing to dry and ended up eating a lot of smeared icing instead of hardened dots.

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Keeping in line with reliving childhood moments, I engaged in a vigorous game of Ghost in the Graveyard and Sardines with my teenage cousins after my kiddos went to bed and we had our angle food cake in the oven. It was entertaining running around, praying I would successfully avoid the poop mines that litter my yard.

If you’re clueless here, Sardines is a game where someone hides outside in the dark and then everyone else spreads out to search for them. When you find the hider you quietly pack into the hiding spot until the last person finally finds the group of sardines and then that last person becomes the new hider. As I was scrunched in a corner on my porch I heard an enthusiastic rendition of “Happy Birthday” being sung/screamed from the mouths of about 30 teenagers down the road.

DSC03239Here’s the birthday girl’s cake I doctored up for the party. My neighbors had a cake-mergency after the employee in the baking department at the grocery store wrote “Happy Birthday (Birthday Girl)” on the cake in the worst chicken scratch I have ever seen in my life. I should have taken a picture and sent it to Cake Wrecks, a blog featuring terrible cakes. I was excited that I had a chance to use up the dot candies I had made on the wax paper and some of the extra frosting and icing I had lying around.

Anyways, I guess what I’m getting at with this post is that I’ve been having a lot of fun this weekend and that all took place on Friday.

Yesterday we traveled to a friend’s house for a pool party and got to see a lot of old buddies. I was manning three kids in a pool by myself so this is the only pic I took prior to heading home. All four of us were melting down at this point but we had a blast together.DSC03254

On our drive home my boy said from the backseat in a whinny, regretful voice, “All I did today was play. I didn’t nap on their couch.”

To this his sister retorted, “What are you talking about? Playing is FUN!”

This was immediately followed by a non-whinny declaration from him, “Ooh! Two motorcycles!”

(This is probably a lot more entertaining for me to remember than for you to read about but bare with me.) I couldn’t help chuckling from the front seat and as I was smiling I heard a strange noise from the backseat. Looking in my rear-view mirror I saw my daughter wiping her nose with her hand and to my disgust I realized she had just blown her nose in her hand! Gross!

I calmly stated, “Young lady, you will NEVER do that again. I have wet wipes for that sort of thing. Just ask,” and I tossed one at her so she could clean up her snot.

Kids! I tell ya, they’re so all over the place. Then I told everyone that I thought it was best for them all to close their eyes and I’d carry them into bed when we got home. Thankfully they took my advice and I had a peaceful drive home followed by the icing on the cake which was a successful transition putting them all in their beds. This concluded a second great day of enjoying my kids and playing like one. I was exhausted!

Time to get off this computer and engage in more kid-centered activities. I hope you all are enjoying your weekend as much as I am!

Cheers!

Mason Jars and Laid Back Charm – A Bridal Shower Affair

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My postings  have been a bit sparse lately but that’s because I’ve been busy hosting some pretty important parties. A few weeks back there was my sister’s wedding reception that I think I mentioned and then this past weekend I hosted a wedding shower for a good friend of mine. Here’s some wedding shower party highlights from a party planner’s perspective.

The sangria bar was the focal point in the beverage department. I had an idea, Googled it, found inspiration and this is what happened. I think everyone enjoyed it as much as I did and I’m happily finishing the rest of the white sangria as I type. I’d just like to note that there was suppose to be cute name tags on each jar but they wandered off from my table. I expect to find them in the kids’ toy box or in one of the dog’s poops in the yard.

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DSC03200Anyways, their wedding in August is a very country-chic backyard affair so I went with a “mason jars and laid back charm” type of theme as someone on the internet so aptly called it. I kept to the theme with cute advice cards which were hung on a line, a quick little game of “Guess the Market Price” and prizes contained in jars.

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The prizes were awarded to the winner of “The Price is Right” and to the winner of the cookie dress design contest. The third was given as a door prize of sorts to the person with the birthday closest to the wedding date.

My love for sugar cookies demanded this be part of the shower and since everyone seemed to enjoy it back in December for my sister’s wedding shower I replicated the activity for the new crowd.

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The soon-to-be bride picking her favorite dress

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Of course the cookies were not the only sweets. I made a chocolate-chocolate chip cake with a standard buttercream frosting and a fresh strawberry filling which was complemented by some delicious, homemade strawberry ice cream (bummed I don’t have a pic) thanks to my SIL. She also made some kick butt lasagna cups for lunch!

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There were little details here and there that pulled it all together in my opinion like the cute paper that covered water bottles, utensils wrapped in napkins and tied with twine and a booklet of some of the bride’s favorite things but I was too busy enjoying the party to photograph it all.

Present bingo is played at a lot of showers while the lady of honor opens gifts. Instead, we had a little fun filling out a story, Mad-lib style, in order to come up with The Story of Lesley and John. Of course it turned out pretty silly and we all got in a few good laughs.

I just love throwing a good party, especially when the person of honor is such a great person!

Cheers to you, Lesley (and John!)

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 I can’t wait to celebrate your marriage with you, boogie down and watch Lil and O perform their important duties!

Now I must sleep.