Friday, September 20, 2013

Cake Decorating with Frozen Butter Cream Transfers




For The Fish's birthday, I wanted to do a Dr. Seuss theme, but apparently no bakeries have the licensing to put actual Seuss-y images on cakes (at least not the run of the mill bakeries around here). I wasn't about to pay the kind of money you'd have to pay for a super custom cake from a fancy bakery when this cake was just for my 1 year old to smash and throw on the floor, so I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to tackle the cake issue.

Then I remembered that a fellow blogger and long time friend of mine had posted about using frozen butter cream transfers (FBCT) to decorate cakes. She made it sound really easy, so I figured I might as well give it a try!

Since we did a One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish invitation, I decided to use the Blue Fish as my cake decoration.

I should pause to say that I had never decorated a cake in my life. I had to Google how to assemble the little icing bag thingies with the tips and everything, and I have the shakiest hands on the planet. If I can do this, anyone can.

I whipped up a batch of Wilton Butter Cream Icing. I thought it tasted gross, so I added more vanilla extract than it called for and a little salt since I was using unsalted butter in my recipe. Then I mixed it for much longer (I had read that mixing it for a long time would improve the flavor). With those modifications, the flavor was good!

Step 1:
The first thing you're supposed to do is make a mirror image of the design you'll be using. Since I wasn't using any words in my design, I didn't do this. Basically it didn't bother me that the fish in my design would face left instead of right.

Step 2:
Tape the design down to a flat surface. It should be something that can easily fit in your freezer. I used the smallest cutting board we have. Then tape a larger piece of wax paper over the design.


Step 3:
Assemble the icing bags and practice making lines so you know how much pressure to use when you start drawing your design. I used a size 1 tip for the outline of the fish.


Step 4:
Remember that the first icing that you put down is going to be the foreground of your design. Start by outlining the design and filling in any shading/details that you need. You can see where I messed up on the outline in places and just wiped it off and started over (that's what all the black smudges are about).


Step 5:
Begin filling in other areas of your design. You should try not to leave blank spaces between your icing lines. Another tutorial I read said that you could use a small plastic paintbrush (the kind you get with cheap watercolors when you're a kid...obviously a new one) to make sure the icing is smoothed out and doesn't have blank spots. I didn't do that as you will be able to tell from the finished product in a little bit.



Step 6:
Remember that what you're looking at right now is the BACK of the design. Cover the whole back of the design with the same color icing that you will use to frost the cake. This is creating a little "podium" for your design to stand on and will help it be more stable when you pop it off the wax paper and onto the cake. You can go past the outline a little and it'll be OK because it will blend with the icing you're using on the rest of your cake. Once you've covered the whole design, use an offset spatula to smooth it out carefully. Try to make the whole thing about the same thickness.


All done, but just leave your extra icing in the bags and stick them in the fridge (see step 7). Put the design in the freezer and let it harden. I also put it in the freezer in between each icing color to make the outlines harden up. I only kept my finished design in the freezer for a few hours, but I've read that you can keep it in there for much longer for better results.

Step 7:
When you're ready to put it on your cake, undo the tape that's holding the wax paper to the solid surface you put in your freezer. Turn it upside down onto the cake and carefully remove the wax paper, revealing your design.

I did have a problem with a little bit of my outline sticking to the wax paper, so I had to touch up those spots with a little icing once it was on the cake.



Sidenote:
To get a really smooth butter cream surface on your cake, follow these instructions for tips on smoothing out the icing with a smooth textured paper towel before adding your design. Here's my cake before and after the paper towel trick.

Before:


After:


Linking here:
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pinterest Picks 10

Squash Casserole
There was a near disaster with this one when I misread the recipe to say 6 squash and zucchini rather than (what it actually says) 6 cups of squash and zucchini. For the record, 1 regular sized squash or zucchini yields about 2 cups of chopped up squash or zucchini. You're welcome. :) Anyway, this turned out well. We liked it, the baby LOVED it, so it was a win-win.

Healthy Chicken Tortilla Casserole
So here's the deal...this is basically a Mexican chicken casserole but it calls for corn tortillas instead of tortilla chips. I think corn tortillas are gag worthy, so I was going to just toast some flour tortillas. But I didn't have time for that nonsense, so I tried just putting some flour tortillas in it. Slimy slimy slimy. So basically the flavor was fine, but the texture was gross. Maybe some foods just aren't meant to be healthy.

Pollo Fundido
I had never used Mexican Dipping Cheese before, and I know it's "processed cheese food", but dang if I don't like some processed cheese food. In an effort to save cooking time, I cut the chicken breasts into fajita sized pieces with kitchen shears. Delicious on a tortilla with the cheese and some Mexican rice. Yum!

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil
This was my first time making orzo. Weird considering how much I love pasta. Anyway, I didn't have enough basil, so this didn't have as much flavor as I would have wanted, but it was still good and the baby is a big fan. (But what food is he not a fan of?!)

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Dr. Seuss First Birthday Party

It's hard to believe that my baby is 1! He had a great time at his Dr. Seuss party this weekend.



For food, we had:

Thing 1 and Thing 2 (strawberry jello with blue frosting on top)

Wockets in our Pita Pockets (pita pocket sandwiches)

Hop on Popcorn

Fish in a Dish (Goldfish crackers)

One Fish Two Fish cupcakes (I had a bakery make cupcakes with icing in primary colors and I stuck different colored Swedish Fish on top)

Pink Yink Drink (Hi-C juice boxes)

I also made a smash cake for him with the "Blue Fish" from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. It was my first attempt at doing a frozen butter cream transfer and it wasn't perfect, but it was sufficient for a 1 year old. :) I will do another post soon with a step by step look at how I decorated the cake.

The invitations came from CardMeKelly on Etsy.com (the picture above is from her Etsy site). She has really cute designs if you're in the market for invitations!

We also got a Cat in the Hat themed birthday hat/diaper cover/necktie combo from CutiePiesTies on Etsy.com. He wore those for the professional cake smash pictures, so hopefully I will have those pics to share soon. He did NOT love cake that day, but hopefully the photographer was still able to capture a few cute ones.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Pinterest Picks 9



Chicken and Cheese Lasagna Rollups (kinda!)
I cheated. I had leftover homemade meat sauce, so I didn't want to put chicken in these. Instead I just combined cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to make the filling, spread it on the lasagna noodles and rolled them up on top of the sauce. I topped it with a little mozarella and parmesan (the picture is pre-topping). It ends up tasting much like stuffed shells or something like that. I may try to make my homemade sauce without meat sometime and try the chicken version, but I bet the chicken version would be even better with alfredo sauce!

Greek Marinated Chicken
This turned out well, but the flavor wasn't as strong as I was expecting based on the yummy smell. I think it would be ever better with a little dill mixed in.

Crushed Hot Potatoes
I usually don't like potatoes with skins, but these were so good! My husband said they're his new favorite way to have potatoes. I used coarse sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper, and oregano. Yummy! Will definitely make these again.

Pesto Ranch Crock Pot Chicken
I'm a sucker for anything with pesto. This was no exception. I liked the sauce so much that I froze it after I took the cooked chicken out of it. I think I might make a pasta sauce from it in the near future.

Tried and True Recipe Board

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dr. Seuss Printables

I'm planning a Dr. Seuss themed birthday for The Baby Fish and I've been looking for printables that I can use to label the food we'll be serving. There are some really cute ones on Etsy, but I didn't want to be tied down to serving the foods that are on the typical labels. I need flexibility! I need the ability to change my mind at the last minute and still have a label that matches the food!




I decided to make some simple ones for myself and I figured I might as well share them with the world.

Here's a blank label that you can scooch on over to Picmonkey to personalize for yourself.



And here are some examples of some labels I've made so far. If you decide to use the template, show me what you've made with it! I'm a Picmonkey n00b, so I'm sure you will amaze and awe me.







Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pinterest Picks 8

I'm about ready to find another "WOW!" recipe, so if you run across any, let me know! The ones I've tried lately could all be really good with a little tweaking.


Ultimate Chicken Fingers

I hate it when the link on Pinterest doesn't go back to the recipe! This link seems to be from a blog that doesn't exist anymore, so if you know the actual recipe, let me know. I just guessed based on the ingredients listed, and it was kind of blah. I'm sure with the right ratios of ingredients, it would be closer to "ultimate" like the title suggests.


Baked Zucchini Sticks

I was worried that these would be mushy like the zucchini "crisps" I had tried before, but the texture of these is actually crispy on the outside and not mushy on the outside. The cayenne pepper gives them a little kick and The Baby Fish gobbled them up.


Best Asparagus in Under 10 Minutes

The recipe calls for both shredded and grated Parmesan cheese. I thought I had both, but I only had grated. Basically the cheese clumped up and fell off the asparagus, but that's not the recipe's fault. I would definitely try this again and err on the side of under cooking it so that I could cook it longer during the "cheese melting" portion of the program.

Quinoa Burgers
This recipe makes a TON of food, so I would suggest maybe halving it if you aren't feeding a lot of people. I made the whole amount and froze the patties individually so that I can take them out and feed them to The Bottomless Pit Baby. Seriously, I thought the grocery bills were supposed to start rolling in when he was a teenager, but I didn't expect an infant to eat so much! Anyway, these are a good source of protein, and he doesn't seem to mind them as leftovers.


Tried and True Recipe Board



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Friday, August 9, 2013

Pinterest Picks 7

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken


This was so good that I took the pic above and texted my husband to tell him to come home soon because the chicken was disappearing fast. This was my first time using chile paste, and I actually expected the chicken to turn out much more spicy than it did. It was mostly sweet with a little spice.

Then I got on a salsa kick.

First I made Salsa #1
I could not stop eating it. This makes a pretty small batch, so I will double it next time.

Then I made Salsa #2
This makes a HUGE batch. I ran out of chips and I was sad. Unfortunately, I tried to blend it all at once, and the garlic didn't get chopped up as much as I would have liked. Still good though!

Healthy Penne Alla Vodka
I have formed the opinion that Penne Alla Vodka should not be healthy. Also, this recipe has no mention of vodka except in the name of the recipe. Probably because you get the tangy taste from the Greek yogurt and don't really need it. I added some anyway. I definitely prefer the unhealthy Pioneer Woman version. :)

All of the recipes I try end up on my Tried and True Recipes board. Feel free to follow.

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