Categories
Keto Recipes

Keto Gelato: Best Fat Bomb Ever

 

Are you on Keto and do you dream of Velvety Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato? Or are you so sick of other “fat bombs?” You will LOVE this velvety Keto Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato! There is not better way to use 15 egg yolks and 6 cups of heavy whipping cream! I promise it is so worth it! AND it is perfect for summertime. This batch will make enough so you can have gelato on hand when you need creamy froszen dessert. You can also eat it chilled, not frozen, as a rich mousse or pudding that just satisfies that hankering for a decadent dessert that doesn’t taste Keto-forced, if you know what I mean. A little goes a long way…and this is coming from someone who could polish off a whole tub of ice cream before starting Keto and getting my hormones balances, burning fat, and feeling satiated after eating rather than being OBSESSED with food…AND shedding pounds of fate!!! How about Gelato? Um, yes please!

 

When I think of gelato, I FONDLY think of the gelato I had in Lahina on the Hawaiian island Maui, a hot day in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, or the gelato we had on a freezing day in Vail, CO. Freezing or not, gelato in a warm indoor french cafe was magnifique! I’ve had gelato just about everywhere I travel, including stay-cations I’ve spent touring the Strip here in Vegas. 

Only the Hawaiian Coconut Pudding Gelato, better known as Haupia, actually stands out as memorable in terms of the gelato itself. I’ve had plenty of my favorite flavors at various locations, and while the gelato is always yummy, the actual gelato never stand out as memorable.

If you are familiar with Marcy’s Ice Cream & Candy Store in Torrance CA, which is quaint ma and pop shop in the South Bay of LA that rocked locals by closing around 2010, then you KNOW how dand good their Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream was. I haven’t been able to quelch my Marcy’s Choc PB fix since the last time I was there before they closed their doors forever. The closest I have gotten is Golden Spoons Chocolate Peanut Butter frozen yogurt. Not even 31 Flavor’s or any other store bought tub of Chocolate Peanut Butter can come clase. This may seem like blasphemy to some of you, but it is my reality…UNTIL I made this gelato!!!

The funny thing is that for at least a month straight after we got back from our trip to CO for Christmas, my husband would bring up getting this new gelato and ice cream machine almost DAILY! To say I was getting irritated is putting it mildly. First of all, between the two of us before getting married, we had two ice cream machines that were very similar and I used mine maybe twice. It simply did not make the making ice cream experience memorable for me, and I had mine since 2000. Hence it did not get used, and hence I was not keen on getting yet another ice cream machine promising gelato as well. We just got rid of both of our previous ice cream makers not too long ago. Then one day he came home with said ice cream and gelato maker in hand, much to my immediate displeasure…only to commence frequent, though restrained, pleas as to when I was going to make gelato. Grrrr….not that I already had a full plate, heck my plate is always over flowing!!!

The closer Valentine’s Day got, my icey-gelato-making-heart melted, and I couldn’t think of a better present for my husband to show my love for him than to give in to his frequent pleas for homemade gelato; it mean it was what he had been asking me to do for almost 6 weeks straight. Then the research started, because yo, I CANNOT just simply make gelato on the first recipe I come across, which happened to be the recipe booklet that came with the Cuisinart Cool Creations Ice Cream Maker. I read tons of recipes, and there is a certain foundation or formula to each variation of recipes. Once I get a grasp on the similarities in each one, I can decipher what I can do to start “playing around” and making my own custom, and memorable recipe that I will love and go back to every time.

I cannot tell you why Marcy’s Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream popped into my head as I researched recipes, other than through the multitude of recipes I saw a ton of chocolate gelatos, which I am not drawn to straight up chocolate ice cream or gelato, but my husband is. However, dang it, if I am gonna be the one to make it, I sure want to be one of the ones to enjoy the fruits of my labors.

So. Chocolate Peanut Butter it is…and we are not talking chocolate from cocoa powder either. I find cocoa powder has a chalky chocolate taste I have an aversion to and can tell right away if it is the main, or only, chocolate ingredient used in something I eat. We are going for the real deal, high quality chocolate I use time after time, Ghirardelli because I can get it at my local Costco in bulk. The only question remained is what type of chocolate do I use?

The dark chocolate that my husband prefers over all other types? Milk chocolate that pairs well with peanut butter? Or the middle of the road semi-sweet? I can assure there really is not a wrong choice here, because each type of chocolate chip will change the flavor profile just slightly to momick the chocolate chosen. If you prefer dark, use dark. If you prefer milk, use milk chocolate chips. Use whatever your taste buds fancy. I was tending towards the dark chocolate, because as you can see in the picture to the right of our gelato in Vail, CO, my husband goes for the triple chocolate and cookies and cream variety, while I go for the exotic fruity scoops. Not only do I love this photo for the memory of it, but the irony that despite it being a ridiculously cold but clear and stunning day in Vail the first thing we got was gelato! Cracks me up everytime.

“Life’s Uncertain. Eat dessert first.” 

    Bloomy

Do you see how gorgeous the gelato presentations are? It’s almost as beautiful as the scenery that day walking around the Vail town center. Ahhh, it is so fun to be momentarily transported back to Vail through these pictures. I hope you get a moment to live vicariously through them in a delicious moment of escaping your current reality. I have to point out the itty bitty taped up sign warning all patrons that they are limited to ONE sample. Really? REALLY? I mean, ok, I can see that would get pretty tedious and irritating to those waiting to be served…but really? Oh, and I must tell you the final chocolate decision that ended my internal debate…semi-sweet. Yes, I went with semi-sweet because I really didn’t want to go for the sharpness of dark chocolate having the memories, and hence cravings, for Marcy’s Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream strongly present in my psyche at that moment, AND I felt the milk chocolate would be a bit too sweet for what I was going for. Too sweet as in you’ve had one or two too many Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and the pleasure is override by the sickeningly sweet aftertaste. Yes, there is such a thing as too many. One last thought, gelato is a frozen custard so it is richer than ice cream, and doesn’t have the same crystallization when frozen so it is softer than ice cream. Because it is so rich, the point is to savour the heavenly, velvety, frozen confection in a reasonable serving at one time. That is why the gelato cups you get are customarily smaller than what is available at most ice cream shops.   

One final thought, I LOVE this ice cream/gelato/frozen yogurt machine!!! SO much so I take back all my goals and immediate irritation when my husband first got this beauty. I didn’t know how amazing it was until I made the Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato, which I did more out of the giving spirit of Valentine’s Day to show my love knowing this is something he REALLY REALLY wanted that I did do give this machine a go. I was not interested after my previous ice cream maker experiences..at all! This machine is a dream, and seriously makes me want to stand over the stove stirring the custard base for the 15-20 minutes it takes to make more gelato. I do really need, and now can’t wait for the right time, to make both ice cream and frozen yogurt on this puppy. It has a larger capacity, which always irked me about the older versions, and digital controls with automatic shut off timers that obnoxiously beep when done so I don’t ever forget to go get before it melts again…I hate wasted efforts especially with how busy I get multi-taking on the regular. You definitely want to transfer the completed gelato to an airtight container, and then place in the freezer; I do not recommend putting the machine tub WITH the gelato in the freezer. Ya, ask me how I know that bit of information! 😉 The last thing I recommend doing is cleaning out the machine’s freezer bowl and placing back into the freezer to be ready and waiting for your next frozen delight hankering!

This machine is so easy to use! 

Velvety Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato

Are you ready to have premium gelato at home? Without the crowds? Without the retail markup? If you have a hankering for a satisfying serving of frozen custard that is ready and waiting for you at a moment’s notice in your own freezer, then this is recipe for you. Hold on to your taste buds, because this gelato will give you an off the charts, food-gasmic response. If you love gelato, but haven’t had a specific flavor that stands out and is memorable, this will definitely be a recipe you go back to every time…unless you have a peanut allergy…and in that case, omit the peanut butter all together and load up on the dark, milk, and semi-sweet chocolate chips to make a Triple Chocolate variation on this gelato.

15 egg yolks

6 c heavy whipping cream

 1 1/2 c erythritol, or preferred sugar substitute

 

1 T Himalayan pink salt

1 c semi-sweet stevia chocolate chips

2 T vanilla

1 c creamy sugar free peanut butter

1) Add 3 c cream-reserve the rest, and the sugar substitute to a saucepan (a thicker pan is best to avoid scorching), and give it a quick wisk. Simmer over med heat, stirring constantly until the sugar substitute disolves and it is hot, but do not let boil. 

2) In a sturdy bowl, I recommend a 8 cup glass measuring cup, wisk your egg yolks. Whisk in a 1/2 c of the hot dairy to the egg yolks; this tempers them to avoid curdling.  Whisk in the remaining hot dairy mix at 1/2 c increments until combined. 

3) Pour back into the sauce pan. Cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, constantly stirring, or until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow the custard to boil to avoid curdling.  

4) Stir in salt, chocolate chips, and peanut butter. Stir until creamy and completely combined.  

5) Pour into a large bowl, add the remaining 3 c cream, and stir until completely smooth and combined.

6) Place a film of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard and securely around the bowl to prevent a skin forming on the custard mix as it completely chills.

7) Chill for 4-6 hours, or over night. *Once chilled, it is perfectly good to eat as custard, or pudding.* You want the custard mix to be  completely chilled before adding to the ice cream/gelato making machine. I recommend this one for its large capacity, and easy programming.  

8) Pour the chilled mix into the set up ice cream maker’s freezer bowl, set on the gelato setting, and forget it for 30 min. Enjoy your velvety custom frozen custard!

Keto Pancakes

Categories
Cakes

Best Gold Drip Technique

 

Anyone else frustrated with painted chocolate gold drips gold? I know I am. And you definitely do not get the GOLD DRIP effect you would envision. I mean I don’t. Sure, it looks pretty like in this cake I did, but I just wasn’t complete happy about it…until I found this technique! Now I am not at mastery level, and I cannot wait to use it more.  I learned a ton on this first go of it on this cake. I also cannot help but say that being these sugar orchids were also my first attempt, I not only learned a ton, but they turned out beautiful!

 

I am OBSESSED with how gorgeous and lux the gold drip came out!!! This new technique I found massively easier than the chocolate drip and then painting it gold. I did learn, however, this is far more liquid in consistency so I need to learn to use less so the drips do not puddle at the bottom of the cake. The drips that did not puddle at the bottom, are stunning!

You can see that it also settled completely level on the top of the cake, which is a feature I did not expect and thrilled to the moon over. The top set with more of an antique gold finish rather than the lux liquid gold finish, which I am hoping to figure out a way to avoid that. But it could be from the vodka I used evaporating. So, just like you use vodka or lemon extract to activate your gold luster dust to paint any cake feature gold, you make a gold slurry (recipe below). 

You make a gold slurry with 3 ingredients: 1) 2 T powder sugar, or confectioners sugar, 2) 1 T gold luster dust (I used this one), and 3) add vodka or lemon extract until you reach drip consistency. I mixed these ingredients to get a thick but drippable consistency. Then I put the mix in a disposable piping bag, clipped the end with a relatively small opening to control the mix easily, and then proceeded to drip like I do with chocolate ganaches. Like I mentioned previously, I realize now to use far less pressure and less mix at each drip than I did here. I learned what to adjust next time.

Lux gold Drip

1) 2 T powder sugar, or confectioners sugar

2) 1 T gold luster dust 

3) add vodka or lemon extract until you reach drip consistency.

Once you reach a desirable drip consistency, add the mix to a piping bag (disposable or parchment recommended). Then drip the edge of the cake as usual, except be aware that you will want to use FAR less drip than what you would with a chocolate drip.

Dark Chocolate Cake

This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any chocolate lover’s taste buds. Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

1 white box cake mix

4 eggs

*1 box dark chocolate mousse mix or chocolate instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

 

 

 *NOTE: If I need multiple layers and double this recipe, I can customize the chocolate cake layers by using one dark chocolate and one milk chocolate mousse mix, or two of one kind depending on the chocolate flavor profile I am going for. 

OPTIONAL: 3/4 to 1 c Razzleberry Fruit Filling to fill layers, recipe below

1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F …cook low and slow, and you may need to add time to the suggested bake time; use a toothpick or cake tester to check doneness in the center before you pull the layers out of the oven. 

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bundt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (recipe below). **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth using the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix–after all your time and energy making and baking your cake, the last thing you want is to have half of it stick to the pan, and get a big crumbled pile of cake.

3) Mix all the ingredients except the optional fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. Level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking. 

*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan. 

NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

Razzleberry Fruit Filling

3 c fresh or frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries 

1/2 c lemon juice

 

1 c sugar

4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless berry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 
8) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

Note: Let’s get real. I love to cook once and use multiple times. This recipe is modified from using a full 48 oz. bag of organic mixed berries consisting of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from my local bulk store.  I then store in an airtight container and either keep in the fridge if I use it quickly, or freeze to have on hand and thaw as needed. 

Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix

In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.

Categories
Cookies Holidays Recipes

Super Cute Bunny Butt Sugar Cookies

 

You probably already know I am obsessed with super cute bunny butts this spring and Easter season. I am so excited about these super easy and super cute Bunny Butt sugar cookies! Aren’t their sprinkle tails just the cutest?!!???!!! Not only are they so adorable, but they are so delicious everyone has a hard time eating just one. This sugar cookie recipe has a secret ingredient that you do NOT want to miss. These cookies are so tasty and stand out from all the rest of the sugar cookie recipes out there. In fact with a side by side taste test, the other sugar cookies will taste like sweet cardboard compared to these sugar cookies!

 

I also just love these bunny cookie cutters I found on Etsy. I love the different floppy ears! The sprinkle cotton tails are super easy. I used this set of Wilton bunny on this cake, and noticed I had more bunny tails than sets of bunny feet. These extra tails inspired me for this design. I also had a bunch of super cute spring sprinkles I was dying to use, and if you have seen my gold accented wood Easter egg mantel you know I love a coordinating variety of colors!

 

I am pretty sure the Wilton bunny tails are made of hardened royal icing, and if I had a mold I would make my own. BUT convenience won and helped to make this a super easy project. I opted to use my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting, but I always am torn and love to use my Cooked Frosting as well. The cooked frosting is whiter than the cream cheese frosting, but I do not mind the off white bunnies either. I think they are pretty darn cute.

I didn’t use a piping tip for the bunny bodies and ears; I just used the open end of a piping bag. I love the effect piping the bunny bodies have with no piping tip. I basically outlined the different areas of the bunny bodies. I used a single line I piped “up-then-down” almost like it was in one single motion, and then I used my fingers to pinch off the tip of the ears to get a point at the end. Super easy.

For the sprinkle bunny tails, I took the pre-made plain white tails and ran them under water to wet them. I set them on a paper towel to sop up the extra water on the back sides, and any that may drip off the domed fronts while I got out a plate and the sprinkles I wanted to use. I then placed the wet bunny tails, that were sticky at this point, on the plate and I squished the sprinkles I wanted on each tail. I already had my bunny bodies frosted, and I am not patient so I risked positioning the sprinkled tails on the cookies right away. In retrospect, I am glad I did that so that the sprinkled dried on the sticky bunny tail surface in place. I’m not quite sure if I left them on the plate to dry that they may have ended up sticking to the plate and possibly damaging them to get them off.

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Categories
Cakes Holidays Recipes

Stinkin’ Cute Bunny Butts Easter Cake

 

Easter is around the corner, and I’ve been obsessed with all things Spring and Easter for the past few weeks. Now that I finally have my Easter mantel decor squared away in my noggin’–I have a finished vision in my noggin’ that is just waiting for the time and energy to complete. In the midst of all the Easter decor projects bouncing around in my head, I’ve been thinking about beloved Easter traditions. Now what is bigger than Easter dinner? I don’t know about you, but that is pretty dang high up there. I mean, man, all the excitement from planning the meal to preparing it with loved ones around, laughing, loving hugging, reminiscing of old memories, and creating new ones…and then, eating it! My Easter menu is not finalized as of yet, and I get plenty of joy out of the planning because there are just so MANY choices. One thing is for certain this year…and that is dessert!

 

I have been obsessed with BUNNY BUTTS this season, so of course I am gonna put them on the CAKE! I had ideas swirling around, and it all came together after the My Little Pony Cake I made for a sweet little gal’s 3rd birthday. One idea didn’t quite make it, but I can tuck that one for another cake, or let it marinade until next year. 

I basically took the colors and piping tips I used from the this cake, along with a water color background from the purple, pink, and blue colors for the main color. I admit the colors in my head were far more pastel in strength and the color I imagined for the background was closer to a periwinkle than the fun punchy violet that I went with; however, I think the stinking’ cute bunny butts pop because of the darker background. I LOVE it! I also love how the foil chocolate covered eggs fits with the colors better than soft pastels would have.

The cake is dark chocolate cake with my Razzleberry fruit filling (bottom of the post) and my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting (bottom of post). So delicious! It is the flavor combo I used for my sealing reception wedding cake. 

I have been throwing around ideas for the perfect nest to nestle the chocolate Easter eggs I found at Costco, and it was serendipitous that I found this green apple flavored Easter grass candy at JoAnn Fabric’s that worked out better than I imagined with all the colors. It pops against the purple, and rainbow rosettes! SO much fun and the kids will go crazy for it.  

The tips I used on the rosettes and flowers are 1M, 199, 16, 22 (or 32–I lost track of that one), 172, 106, 12, and 131. I also used a random selection of fancy sprinkles including gold bars I got here.

Dark Chocolate Cake

This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any chocolate lover’s taste buds. Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

1 white box cake mix

4 eggs

*1 box dark chocolate mousse mix or chocolate instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

 

 

 *NOTE: If I need multiple layers and double this recipe, I can customize the chocolate cake layers by using one dark chocolate and one milk chocolate mousse mix, or two of one kind depending on the chocolate flavor profile I am going for. 

OPTIONAL: 3/4 to 1 c Razzleberry Fruit Filling to fill layers, recipe below

1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F …cook low and slow, and you may need to add time to the suggested bake time; use a toothpick or cake tester to check doneness in the center before you pull the layers out of the oven. 

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bundt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (recipe below). **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth using the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix–after all your time and energy making and baking your cake, the last thing you want is to have half of it stick to the pan, and get a big crumbled pile of cake.

3) Mix all the ingredients except the optional fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. Level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking. 

*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan. 

NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

Razzleberry Fruit Filling

3 c fresh or frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries 

1/2 c lemon juice

 

1 c sugar

4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless berry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 
8) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

Note: Let’s get real. I love to cook once and use multiple times. This recipe is modified from using a full 48 oz. bag of organic mixed berries consisting of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from my local bulk store.  I then store in an airtight container and either keep in the fridge if I use it quickly, or freeze to have on hand and thaw as needed. 

Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix

In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.

Categories
Cookies Holidays Recipes

Floral Easter Egg Sugar Cookies using Cream Cheese Buttercream

 

I am a fan of delicious sugar cookies with yummy buttercream, and what better time of year to have an excuse to not only bake but decorate THE best sugar cookies you have ever tasted than Easter! BUT it cannot be a sugar cookie that tastes like sweet cardboard–if you don’t know what I mean, oh you are in desperate need to make these cookies and have a side-by-side taste test with an ordinary sugar cookie recipe. Easter and spring go hand in hand for me, so after making such cute spring colored floral cakes like this one, it was a no-brainer to decorate Easter egg cookies in the same way!

 

I’ve wanted to try my hand at royal icing decorated cookies…but, I have always hesitated and I am not one to hesitate because I am scared of “failing”…if I hesitate, it’s because something just doesn’t jive…something just doesn’t fit…something is off…and then it hit me. I don’t make anything I personally will NOT absolutely go to food nirvana for. Royal icing just doesn’t tantalize my taste buds. I’m not into cookies that just look cute, I want to go to dessert 7th heaven so the calories, and what I gotta do to burn them off, is worth it!

Once you have a sugar cookie recipe that knocks people’s socks off–and trust me, you will get loads of people asking for the recipe, because the secret ingredient will set these sugar cookies light years apart of all the rest–the fun becomes how many different ways can you decorate them with buttercream. I feel like buttercream gets a bad rap with regards to sugar cookie decorating since all the gorgeous royal icing decorated cookies hit Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, they are stunning! 

You will savor every last morsel of these cookies, and the only thing you will be sad about, is when the last one gets eaten up!

How cute did these turn out! I used this cream cheese frosting (found at the bottom of the page), and the same piping tips as I used on this cake, as well as the same sprinkles. The cookie recipe is below. How are you planning to decorate your Easter sugar cookies?

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Check out these holiday sugar cookies I have made with this recipe. I love to use my Cooked Frosting as well as my cream cheese buttercream on these. I also love to stripe fruit fillings to add another dimension of flavor and color. I love how all of these cookies turned out! Not only are they adorable, but they are so delicious! I hope I can convince you how cute buttercream decorated cookies are.

Categories
Birthdays Cakes

My Little Pony Rainbow Dreams Cake

 

I know a little girl who is OBSESSED with all things My Little Pony…and she was about to turn 3. I knew I had to design a super cute and girly cake with lots of My Little Pony colors and figures to make sure she was ridiculously excited about her cake.  There couldn’t just be little figurines, but it has to explode with color and rainbows because Rainbow Dash was her absolute favorite My Little Pony. I also cannot make a cake that just looks cute, but I always want to blow people’s socks off with taste, both kids and adults. A cake that tastes so good, I don’t care what diet you are on, you can NOT just have one bite!

 

I made the top 6″ tier and bottom 8″ tier a vanilla confetti cake filled and frosted with my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting. I added my Razzleberry fruit filling in between each frosted layer so everyone would savour every single bite.  It is important to note that if you are adding filling between each layer, you need to pipe a frosting damn on the outter perimeter to make sure the filling doesn’t ooze to through the crumb coat. 

To pipe rainbow frosting where it doesn’t get all muddy and you can clearly see all the colors, I made a tube with plastic wrap where I piped 3 lines of each color a length that would fit one of my large reusable piping bags on the flat sheet of plastic wrap. Then I rolled the frosting lines on top of each other by lifting one long edge of plastic wrap to fold the frosting on top of each other, and rolled the plastic all the way around, twisting to secure each end, almost like you have a rainbow frosting sausage. To pipe with the rainbow frosting, I made sure I had the tip I wanted in my large reusable piping bag, cut one end of the plastic wrapped rainbow “sausage”, and put the cut end inside the large piping bag first so it is open to freely pipe through my chosen tip.  I better make very clear that first off, I mixed each color individually before I filled each color in its own piping bag with a coupler so I could pipe with different tips later in each solid color; I then piped the lines with just the coupler onto the plastic wrap. 

You can see that the top tier used a combination of different tips to pipe flowers and rosette to add variety and interest using both the rainbow frosting, and each individual solid color frosting.  The bottom tier, I just used the rainbow frosting with the coupler, and no tip, to pipe dollops I then used my small cake spatula to drag out; I offset each row of dollops so that each one on the next row up would fit in between two on the bottom. It turned out so beautiful! I was mesmerized by it! The last dollop on each row is a challenge to get the same drag effect, so that’s how I came up with the sprinkle design on the bottom tier. 

The tips I used on the top tier are 1M for the largest rainbow rosettes and flowers,  tip 199 for rainbow swirls and dollops, tip 16 for the orange, tip 22 (or 32–I lost track of that one) yellow, tip 172 purple, tip 106 green, tip 12 blue, and tip 131 pink. 

I placed various size and shape rainbow, gold sphere and bar sprinkles around the top tier to add interest. I am just OBSESSED with how it turned out. I was definitely a jaw dropper at the party!!!

Of course I had to add the stars of the cakes, My Little Pony figurines.  I used this set even though I comtemplated using the cleaned full size ones that the client’s daughter already had and loved, however, I didn’t want the hair to get gooped up with frosting so I found these. They are perfect for cake toppers and cupcakes! 

Another happy experiment that turned out to be genius and I will definitely be using a LOT in the future, was the frosted pretzel rods! I had left over rainbow frosting and didn’t want to waste all that effort, and of course who doesn’t love salty-sweet treats, so I took the pretzel rods I had left over from my Dinosaur cake, pipped shells, and added sprinkles, and voila! Not only were they so ridiculously adorable, they were so yummy!

I  used a colored frosting to frost the bottom layer to hid any potential gaps in the rainbow pattern.

Vanilla Confetti Cake

This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any kid with the fun confetti sprinkles in the cake batter. Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

1 white box cake mix

4 eggs

1 box  vanilla instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

 

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

1/2 c confettie sprinkles

3/4 to 1 c Razzleberry Fruit Filling, recipe below

1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F …cook low and slow, and you may need to add time to the suggested bake time; use a toothpick or cake tester to check doneness in the center before you pull the layers out of the oven. 

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bundt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (recipe below). **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth using the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix–after all your time and energy making and baking your cake, the last thing you want is to have half of it stick to the pan, and get a big crumbled pile of cake.

3) Mix all the ingredients except the sprinkles and fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Mix in the sprinkles and stir by hand with a spatula or spoon. 

5) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. Level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking. 

*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan. 

Razzleberry Fruit Filling

3 c fresh or frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries 

1/2 c lemon juice

 

1 c sugar

4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless berry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 
8) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

Note: Let’s get real. I love to cook once and use multiple times. This recipe is modified from using a full 48 oz. bag of organic mixed berries consisting of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from my local bulk store.  I then store in an airtight container and either keep in the fridge if I use it quickly, or freeze to have on hand and thaw as needed. 

Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix

In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.

Categories
Holidays Home Monthly Mantel Decor

Easter Mantel: Gold Accented Painted Wood Egg Set

 

I don’t know about you, but for years I did NOT have any Easter decor besides filling an Easter Basket with Easter goodies, and the traditional Easter egg hunts and Easter meals. In fact I never really got excited about Easter decorations because all the traditional pastel and bunnies and plaid and flowers and lace just seemed to uninspiring for me. Nothing grabbed my attention. UNTIL I saw a spray painted pastel rainbow of these wood eggs, and the inspiration FLOODED my brain. I was so excited I could place an order fast enough because I KNEW exactly what I was gonna do. I knew I wanted something with lots of gorgeous colors, but still had that elegant edge without the traditional “grandma-cheesy” Easter decor I detest.

 

I am OBSESSED with these colors and the gold accents. I have a set of gold utensils I use for Easter dinner, and so the gold accents just pulls it all together. I contemplated cutting out, and sanding my own eggs, but the shear amount of work it would take I was not prepared to do…I have my limits…made purchasing 6 sets so worthwhile. 

The gold accents I added are easier to see in this picture. I not only painted the bottom third of each egg–and since there are three different sizes, the bottom third is proportionate to the size of the egg–but I also speckled the eggs with the gold paint. I used a tooth brush dipped in the gold paint, and with my thumb or another finger to run down the paint soaked bristles while aiming at the wood eggs. To say the least, got gold paint all over my thumbs and fingers…and table and chairs…ya, I also recommend covering the table and all surrounding chairs with plastic before splattering paint. I learned the hard way, but I tend to be so excited about these projects that this type of prep work is harder for me than the extra clean up work I create for myself.

I used craft acrylics, as well as some of my professional grade Golden brand acrylics to achieve some of the colors I knew I HAD to have since I already had the on hand. Because I am uber particular with the shades of the colors I wanted, I mixed most of the colors myself, but that is entirely unnecessary if you find 3 different shades of pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple you love in craft paints, as well as a craft paint in gold you love. I listed materials and steps below.

Required materials:

6 sets–wood eggs in 3 sizes

craft paint in 3 desired shades if each color grouping (pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)–18 colors

gold craft paint

*painter’s tape 

 

 1 inch flat paint brush or sponge brush

a clean, dry toothbrush (for speckeling)

plastic to cover your work surface to protect from gold speckling

80 grit or finer sandpaper

 

 

Steps:

1) Sand the wood egg cutouts to smooth any splinters or any rough areas. You don’t need to make sure it is ultra smooth. in fact, I only do a light overall sanding using an 80 grit sandpaper quarter sheet (tearing a full sheet of sandpaper into fourths). You want the paint to have some texture to grip onto, and dry smoother; you do NOT want to paint such a smooth wood surface so the paint will basically peel off. 

2) Use two coats of the base color paint for each egg. Make sure you let each coat dry in between. 

3) Paint the bottom 1/3 of each egg with the gold craft paint. Use two coats, making sure each layer is completely dry before adding another coat of paint. *NOTE: You can use painters tape to mark off the bottom third for the gold paint. Just know you may need to go in with the base color paint to touch up any bleeding you may get with the gold once you remove the painter’s tape. I am an experienced painter, and thus trust my hand to be steady enough to get a straight line using a 1 in flat brush, and so I skip the painter’s tape. 

4) To speckle the eggs with the gold paint, dip your toothbrush in the gold paint (you do not want it dripping off of the toothbrush), and run your thumb or a finger from the hand not holding the toothbrush to flick the paint onto the base color part of the egg. Repeat until you are satisfied with the speckling. NOTE: Be aware that as you load your toothbrush with gold paint multiple times, paint can start to pool and then drip where you do not want it to drip if you are not careful. To remedy this, I simply tap off any excess paint after a few times I have dipped my toothbrush.  

5) Let the eggs dry completely before setting up your Easter display. Stand back, and enjoy your custom creation you will be able to use year after year. In fact, I see these custom made holiday decor pieces as heirlooms to pass on; it just adds to the sentimentality and tradition of the holiday. Happy Easter!

 

Check out my Spring/Easter dual sided letter blocks I created with scrap wood. Super easy project that is super cute!

Categories
Holidays Home Monthly Mantel Decor

Super Cute & Easy Scrap Wood Spring & Easter Decor Blocks

 

DO you have scrap wood sitting around from a home improvement project, you hate the space it is taking up, but you hate wasting perfectly good wood even more? Then this is the PERFECT project for you! It is so easy and so hard to mess up. All you need is 2 x 4 wood, a saw, or a friend who has one, sand paper, craft paint, brush or sponge brush, and letter stencils or vinyl letter cut outs to use the letters or as a stencil. I did both. It is so versatile as well! You can use it for Spring and Easter just by flipping the blocks!

 

Aren’t the colors so perfect for Spring AND Easter??!???!!! I am OBSESSED. I did use my Silhouette Cameo 3 for the first time since I bought it 6 months ago. This was the perfect excuse to pull it out. It was a headache, but I am sure for all y’all who are NOT “tech phones” like me wouldn’t have an issue. I ALWAYS have issues setting up technology…part of the reason it sat for so long.

I knew I wanted Spring on one side of the letter blocks, and Easter on the other side. As I played around with fonts and sizes, I decided on all lower case for Spring and all upper case for Easter. I loved the font changes, and I used the Georgia font, which I love to use. I also knew I was gonna make 3 sets…and I still have tons of scrap wood left over from my storage shelves…I will definitely post about those. I had a co-worker and friend come over with her 3 little girls for a craft day. Her oldest is a die hard crafter at the wee age of 8, which I adore because I was too at a young age. I started by cutting the blocks to size (listed below). We had to make a Home Depot run because I was out of sand paper; knowing there were 3 girls 8 and under, I got the sand paper blocks for them, but I prefer the basic sand paper I tear into quarters to use. I bought 80 grit to make sure all the splinters were smoothed down, as well as any stamp lettering you commonly find on 2x4 studs. The girls were put to work sanding as well, and it was a great teachable moment to let them know there is always the “not-so-fun” parts of projects, but that it was a necessary part, and if we persevere we get to do the fun part: painting! Painting these wood blocks is perfect for young kids because they are a single background color each, and if the parents allow, the kids can choose their color adding to the excitement and ownership of the project; they will BEAM with accomplishment and love it all the more because they picked out their color. The girls lost interest and left my friend and I to some much needed girl talk as we finished painting the first coats! Hahaha! It was SOOOO therapeutic. I recommend painting two coats to ensure there is solid coverage of the background colors. These blocks become a keepsake to remember they were custom made each Spring and Easter.

To save on vinyl, I used one set of letters for two sets of blocks: one set of blocks I used the background vinyl of the letters as a stencil to paint the letter, and then on another set I used the actual vinyl letters. Confession time, my friend also had to use the background of the letters as stencils because I ran out of my precious white vinyl troubleshooting why the darn machine wouldn’t cut all the way through the vinyl. Grrrrrr. Well I figured out the bottom of the cutting tool was loose and not screwed in all the way, and I didn’t have the cutting tool properly locked into place…I’m just bummed it took 3 sheets of white vinyl to figure that out! Oh well, you live and learn…but the important part is I LEARNED!!! BTW, you will want to space the letters so you can cute each letter to have a clean margin of vinyl if you plan to use the stencil. My personal preference if the painted letters using the vinyl letter stencils. Once I applied two coats of the white paint, and on the second coat I removed the vinyl stencil to keep the paint from drying which I imagine would make removing the vinyl a pain…or worse…detrimental to all the hard work of the letter block. There is nothing I detest more than wasted time…well, wasted time where I felt like there wasn’t a proper lesson to learn.

As you can see I embellished one set with ribbon, pink twine, felt flower cutouts, buttons, and beads. The set you see the embellishments on is one set of blocks with the letters for Spring on one side, and Easter on the other side. I think they turned out so adorable!!! And yes, I did find my little spelling mishap…tee hee hee…I think it is a subliminal message. Did you see it? Spring is “bloomy”-ing! I didn’t even notice until my husband started belly laughing, and told me he loves me. Ha! I tell you, I am the worst editor in the world because it all looks right in my head! I did keep the painted gold “bloopered” set myself (above). I also added gold splatters to that set. The gold splatters is a running theme through all my custom made Easter decor, which I cannot wait to share it all with you! I have listed all the cut lengths below, as well as listed all the materials you will need. 

2x4 cut lengths:

1- 13.75 inch piece

2- 5.5 inch pieces (tall)

2- 5 inch pieces (medium)

2- 4.25 inch pieces (small)

 

Required materials:

2x4 wood studs, scrap wood is perfect for this

wood saw (I used my miter saw) or a good friend with one 🙂

craft paint in the colors you prefer

1 inch flat paint brush or sponge brush

 

1 inch flat paint brush or sponge brush

small flat brush, if you plan to stencil in the letters (I prefer this to a stencil brush)

sand paper, 80 grit or finer

vinyl letters in your preferred font, or letter stencils

 

Steps:

1) Cut the wood to the specified lengths. 

2) Sand all edges and faces of the wood to smooth any splinters, rough edges, or ink stamps on the wood. You do not need it to be super smooth, and in fact I do not use sand paper finer than 80 grit because it gives the paint good teeth to grip and gives better coverage. 

3) Order the size of the blocks to your preference. For the Spring letters, I used the pattern: tall, medium, small, medium, tall, small where only the first and last blocks do not sit on the bottom longest block. For the Easter letters: tall, medium, tall, small, medium, small. I actually only marked the bottom with one of the letter combinations, and once I did all the steps to complete one side, I turned the blocks around and rearranged it slightly until I liked the order for the letters to spell the other word on the other side. 

4) Paint two coats on all sides of all the blocks your desired colors. I let each layer completely dry before adding a coat. 

5) Make sure the paint is completely dry before adding the vinyl letters, or stencils. Spell out your desired word on each side to coordinate for Spring and Easter. 

6) I chose different phrases on the long base block. You can customize what phrase you prefer, then stencil or adhere the phrase with the vinyl. Embellish to your hearts desire, or leave as is and you will have a great custom made keepsake you will love to put out each Spring, and flip the blocks to continue to enjoy through Easter!

Don’t forget to check out these amazing and colorful gold accented wood Easter eggs perfect for any mantel. I’m OBSESSED with them!

Categories
Cookies Home Recipes

Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies

 

After my last minute rush to get a Valentine’s dessert thrown together with leftover frosting, cookies, and raspberry filling, I stumbled on a NEW dessert that is so ridiculously AMAZING I don’t know how this desert hasn’t come to light yet! Cheesecake Sugar Cookies flavored with fruit fillings!!! I like to have holiday themes for each month and because it is March, I decided to go with a Key Lime flavor for my cakes and desserts. My new custom recipes this month included a  Blueberry Key Lime Cake, a Key LIme Tunnel cake, and a Key Lime Dressing for a spinach salad…AND last but definitely not least, my Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies. If you like Key Lime, you will LOVE these recipes! I am talking complete FOOD NIRVANA!

 

These cookies are so easy to put together, especially with a batch of my Key Lime fruit filling on hand, which is used in all the previously mentioned Key LIme recipes. I love having versatile recipes, and multiple uses with flavors I adore. And how cute are they as little Shamrocks! The piping was also very easy, and I didn’t even use a tip; I just used the open end of the piping bag. I started in the center of each shamrock, and piped two loops in each leaf, and ended at the stem (all in one continuous motion). 

 

In fact, I had a batch of my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe at the bottom), and I just mixed in enough of my Key Lime Fruit Filling to get that oh so delicious tangy key lime cheesecake flavor. I made sure to NOT add too much fruit filling so the frosting was still a good piping consistency. I also added a drop of green and a drop of yellow food coloring to get a beautiful chartreuse green hue. I brought my first batch of these cookies to test out the recipe with my co-workers where I teach high school math, and they RAVED about them! I knew I wasn’t looney for thinking they were so good. Now I had confirmation of how dang delicious they were. Everyone was saying how perfectly tangy they were, and there was no doubt they were Key Lime Cheesecake. They also said the cookie was the perfect size to have a yummy dessert, but not over do it…and not get all the calories from a slice of Key Lime Pie!!!

Because I use a St. Patrick’s day rainbow and shamrock “Lucky” theme for March, I wanted a way to incorporate that with this recipe. So I busted out the larger shamrock cookie cutter and my rainbow sprinkles to get these stinkin’ cute shamrock cookies! I also love the added crunch from the sprinkles!!! You can see that one of the larger cookies I used the same green frosting as the smaller cookies, one was just my cream cheese frosting, and one I lined the piping bag with 3 stripes of the key lime fruit filling (recipe at the bottom) to get a variegated frosted cookie. I love the variations, and all are so yummy!

This is my go to sugar cookie recipe, and you will get rave reviews! To make these Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies, you need:

1 recipe of sugar cookies, cut out, baked, and completely cooled.

1 recipe of my cream cheese frosting (found at the bottom of the page)

1/4-1/2 c of my Key Lime Fruit Filling recipe.

Mix in the key lime fruit filling to taste, then pipe or frost your cookies. Store frosted cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and they will last up to 3 weeks. They also freeze well in an airtight container for up to 3 months. These storing guidelines also work for leftover frosting. I also use this Key Lime Cheesecake Frosting on cakes, and this cake was particularly delicious!

Key Lime Fruit Filling
Do you LOVE Key Lime but you don’t love the time it takes to make a key lime curd? Then you will adore this recipe! This fruit filling recipe is so versitile, you will loose count how many diffierent ways you can use it. I mostly use it to fill cakes, flavor frosting, and even in a vinaigrette recipe for a spinach salad. 
2 c fresh Key Lime Juice (or 1 1/2 c lime juice plus 1/2 lemon juice)

 

1/2 c sugar

T corn starch, mixed in 1/2 c cold water

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat.

2) Bring the juice mix to a boil.

3) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.

4) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 

 

NOTE: I use this to flavor frosting, fill cakes, vinaigrette dressing, and many other key lime recipes.

To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

 

Categories
Monthly Mantel Decor

March Mantel Decor: Lucky Shamrocks

 

I love it when ideas come together seamlessly as if they were meant to be. This is how my March mantel came to life. I love decorating my mantel each month with holiday themes or seasonal themes. It adds that extra special sense of celebration to the home. Custom decor also give me the ability to let my creativity go free and have an artistic outlet I thoroughly get joy from. Also, each custom handmade piece becomes an heirloom I am proud to pass on, put up year after year building family memories and traditions to deepen that joy.

 

The first piece conceived in my mind was the rainbow felted wool ball garland. I was at a loss trying to figure out the easiest way to get all the shades of the rainbow I wanted in the same size, which can be very tricky and time consuming…and I am not about to waste my time. Thankfully I found these and loved the variety of color. I knew I could use the more vibrant rainbow colors for my March St. Patrick’s themed garland, and the other more muted colors would be great for a fall month garland. 

All you need is white embroidery floss and a needle with an eye large enough for the full width of the floss, and you are good to string those felt balls together. I tied a looped knot at the beginning, made sure my needle went through as close to the center of the felt ball each time, and strung them one after another. I did line up the colors in the order I wanted from beginning to end. I used 52 total felted wool balls to repeat a pattern of 17 colors from a dark burgundy to white with multiple shades of basic red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink. I love seeing multi shades in my rainbows! Oh, and I did use one extra white to begin and end the garland with white. I knotted it off with a matching length loop, and used a large paper clip I opened up to use as a double hook to attack the garland on one side and to my tall silver candle holders.

The next idea I procured during my Christmas decor take down, that happened late February…believe me I was beginning to think it was going to be Christmas in July as things were going with no time and no energy to put Christmas away with all the other project I had going between work and home.

I was about to put these iron fireplace pillar candle holders I traditionally have only used for Christmas. Then it hit me…WHY on earth am I using these gorgeous candle holders ONLY for Christmas? Why not take what I’ve done for Christmas and do something similar to customize for all my holidays and seasons? So I also get to reuse the pillar candles I have (and have never burned), and all I did was add these beautiful rainbow spectrum ribbons with a small chartreuse green ribbon I had on hand and tied them at the top with a simple square knot to give it added interest. I love it! Just about every time I see these candle holders, I have to laugh because until I decided to paint these white with white glitter, I HATED these wrought iron candle holders. They were my husband’s before we got married (or maybe his parents he “inherited”) and they were bulky, beige, and so ugly in my mind. I seriously had them packed up to donate a few times, and something always made me hesitate but I didn’t know why. Then it hit me to refinish them, get white pillar candles, and wrap the base of the candles in a beautiful red sparkle stripe ribbon, and I have loved them ever since. I love them ever more now that I can use them all year! P.S. I just used cellophane tape to tape on the rainbow ribbon, but know when I change it over for Easter, I will take the time to burn the edges of the ribbon to stop the fraying and be able to use these year after year.  I may need to cut the thin green ribbon, but I am thinking I will stitch it onto the wide ribbon, and just tape it each year…unless I can figure out another easy way. 

One thing I knew I wanted to do, but it took the right inspiration on how I was going to do it, was have wood letters spell out LUCKY using various green shades and one letter was going to be painted a rainbow spectrum. JoAnne’s and Michael’s ironically left me inspirational-less, however, walking through Walmart’s vamped up craft section I saw these great wood slatted panels in different sizes. Boom! Inspiration came flooding in! I bought the light grey almost white thinking I would paint the background pure white in the biggest one as well, but in the end I liked the subtle difference. I knew I needed two wood shamrock cutouts that I couldn’t find anywhere with the right size, shape, and thickness. I did find them on two different Etsy stores. I couldn’t wait for them to arrive. I hate having to be patient once I get a completed vision in my head. However, I am so glad it worked out that way, because I finished painting, gold speckling the LUCKY unfinished wood letters I found at Michael’s and got on discount with a great coupon for my whole purchase (where I also got the felt shamrock garland, sparkle mini shamrocks, and gold coins i used on my mantel–watch out for those coupons on their app!). While waiting for my large shamrock and four leaf clover to arrive, I painted the green and white chevron and felt I needed some sparkle! I had some emerald green glitter craft paint I got from the after Christmas sales that was perfect for this. After adding the glitter to the green chevron, I knew I wanted to use the same green and glitter craft paint for the shamrock was planning to glued above the LUCKY letters. It turned out better and tied them in together perfectly! I also had a blast using my paint mixing skills to paint the spectrum rainbow on the U. I am just obsessed with it all and thrilled at how well it all came together.   

I knew I wanted the spectrum rainbow to tie in from the candles, to the garland, the U in the lucky, but felt there needed to be one more place. The smallest wood slat square I originally wanted to break in my Silhouette, that I haven’t set up since getting it for Christmas, and make a stencil for the phrase”You are the gold at the end of my rainbow,” however, time got away from me and I needed something faster. I figure I can use that for another project next year–I always have far too many ideas than I do time! 

When the four leaf clover wood cutout arrived, it was perfect for the square, but too big for the green and white chevron like I was planning, so it hit me…to tie in the gold speckling on the letters AND that last rainbow spectrum element, I would paint the four leaf clover gold, and the whole square the rainbow spectrum like I did the letter U! Voila!!! The inspiration and seamlessness of everything coming together just kept making me so happy! The last thing I did was throw up some the the left over foam shamrocks, and it was a wrap! Now I finally had my March mantel and I am OBSESSED with it! It has all the elements I love: gorgeous color, balance, everything is tied together, sparkle, and nothing is gaudy or cheap looking…it is not diy, it is CUSTOM!

To do the chevron, I taped off the pattern using the thinnest painter’s tape I could find. I first measured the width of the medium sized wood slat piece, and it worked out to divide it into 2 inch sections for each segment of the chevron design. In the video I posted to the right, I show you what I do to ape on the chevron and how I used the width of the tape to determine the width of the chevron spacing. After the tedious, thought relaxing, process of taping off the chevron pattern, I used an inch flat brush to paint in the green. I immediately removed the tape while the paint was damp to avoid any sticking.

After the green paint was dry, I used white craft paint, and a smaller flat brush to paint in the white, while at the same time being able to clean up any bleeding the green did and sharpen up the edges. After it all dried, I used the flat brush to paint on the glitter craft paint. It adds the perfect variation in design, color and texture to the whole mantel.

NOTE: To paint the greens, as well as the spectrum rainbow colors and the gold, I used my artist grade Golden acrylic paints I had on hand. You may use craft paints to achieve the look for much less, but I knew ahead of time I wanted this to be a long lasting, heirloom quality set of holiday decor with the vibrant colors I can achieve with my Golden acrylics. I personally feel it is worth it, and see it as an investment. There is nothing saying that you, however, cannot use the craft paints that offer a beautiful range of color options–especially if you are not as confident in mixing colors.

Materials needed:

DMC white embroidery floss–full 6 strands

embroidery needle with a large eye

52 felted wool balls of various shades in rainbow colors

3 inch wide rainbow ribbon

3/8 inch green craft ribbon

clear cellophane tape

 

fabric scissors-to cute the ribbon to size

white pillar candles

3 sizes of white washed slatted wood panels–largest, medium, and small square–found at Walmart’s craft wood section

Craft paints of various rainbow colors–as many as you like, or mix to make many shades

 

 

 

gold craft paint

emerald green glitter craft paint

1 incha dn 1/2 inch flat craft paint brushes

paint palette or paper plate for mixing colors

6 inch unfinished wood letters LUCKY

6 inch unfinished shamrock wood cutout–I found mine in Etsy 

8 inch unfinished four leaf clover wood cutout–I found mine in Etsy 

white craft glue

thin painter’s tape

pencil

measuring tape

long ruler

cup and water to rinse brush

paper towels

 

What did you do for your custom March mantel?