Cream cheese Frosting

Hey y’all! I hope you are enjoying your week so far. Today is the first day of spring! My grandmother has been out in the yard playing in her gardens getting them ready for all of the flowers she’ll plant! She loves flowers and this time of year breaths rebirth of a new beauty to enjoy.

Me on the other hand…I have a love hate relationship with this time of year simply because pollen has wreaked havoc on my sinuses. Lol…I love the beautiful flowers though. I’ve learned a lot about flowers since I’ve been decorating cakes. Creating a beautiful Rose from buttercream or fondant & gumpaste can be quite taxing and so satisfying at the same time. Having the consistency just right is always important along with technique of course. The same idea applies when you’re frosting a cake. The idea is to enhance the flavor of the cake. I’ve learned that you may have a cake that initially started out as a pre-made mix but with the right icing, you forget all about the mix. My mom used this cream cheese recipe on her carrot cake and I use it on mine. It’s absolutely amazing! Let me know how this simple recipe enhances your cakes. 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz bar of Philadelphia cream cheese

1 stick of butter

1 tsp vanilla

4 cup of confectioner’s sugar

Directions

1. Cream butter, vanilla, and cream cheese until light and smooth

2. Slowly incorporate the confectioner’s sugar until smooth and creamy.

3. Use at your own discretion. It is habit forming!

Enjoy!

 

Va’Raelyn’s Cherry Strawberry Cake

 

 

Hello world! Time has sprung forward and here in Brunswick county, we saw a blanket of snow today. Lol…it disappeared almost as quickly as it came! This weather has definitely made some changes this week.  A few days ago it was 70° plus and today it snowed. Needless to say, I was all snug and cozy in my kitchen cooking away! That means lunch for the next few days. I hope you all have enjoyed your weekend and spent a little time with friends and family…in the kitchen of course! 

I have a 5-year-old cousin who likes to help me in the kitchen when she comes over. She is such a sweetheart and so smart.  One day, several months ago she came to visit and I asked her if she wanted to make a cake and she said yes! So I wanted to make a version of her first birthday cake which was strawberry but I wanted to do something different.  I looked through the pantry and spotted a jar of maraschino cherries and thought to myself…this will work. I measured everything out and let her pour it in the mixing bowl…when I got to the eggs…she looked at me and said, “Sheca will you teach me how to open eggs?” With that sweet little face looking up at me from the step stool she was on…how could I say no. So of course I said, “Yes Rae, I will show you how to crack an egg.” After the first few tries and egg running on the counter…lol…she was cracking eggs like a pro. 

This recipe is the cake that she and I made with a few additions. I hope you enjoy it as my family and coworkers have! Let’s cook!

Va’Raelyn’s Cherry Strawberry Cake

Ingredients:

1 box of strawberry cake mix

1 small box of vanilla instant pudding

1/2 c self rising flour

2/3 c milk

1/3 c canola oil

4 eggs

1 tsp of vanilla

12 oz jar of maraschino cherries chopped and save the juice. It goes in the batter.

2 c cream cheese frosting, less if you’re using a 9×13 baking dish.

2 tbs strawberry preserves

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Prepare 3, 8″ x2″ round cake pans or a 9×13 baking dish by spraying it with baking spray. (I use 8″x3″ round pans which gives me 2 larger layers)
  2. In a mixing bowl combine first 7 ingredients and 1/2 cup of cherry juice and mix well.
  3. Add 2/3 of your chopped cherries to your batter and mix on low to medium speed. Don’t worry the cherries are tough they can handle the mixer, you don’t need to fold them in.
  4. Pour batter into desired pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. To test use a toothpick in the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s done. If not leave it for a 2-3 minutes and check it again.
  5. Remove cakes from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Do not sit them on the counter. The heat will continue to cook them.
  6. Once cooled, spread the strawberry preserves between the cooled layers along with some of the chopped cherries, then icing. Decorate the outside how you like. I added some whole strawberries and cherries.

 

Please let me know what you think. Enjoy and remember to spread a little love today with your family, friends, and those you don’t know. You never know how much your smiling face helps a stranger! Stay positive and keep cooking!

 

 

Tips about Cake Baking

Hey,  I hope your weekend has been full of love, family, and of course great food! 

My tips for you this week are about cake baking. Last week I posted a quick lemon bundt that could brighten any winter day!

As a cake decorator, I’ve had to figure out what works best for my clients, the design, and of course what tastes great. Let’s be real…who wants a pretty cake that tastes awful? The answer is no one! Although it does happen unfortunately.  Here are a few tips to help make your cake baking experience a little easier. Let me know how they work out for you.

1. If your cake is heavy unintentionally, you may have used too much sugar or you haven’t cooked it long enough.

2. If your cake falls (it happens to all of us) there could be several reasons…a)you may have used too much sugar. b) not enough flour. c)outdated baking powder.  d)haven’t cooked it long enough. The one thing that probably doesn’t cause it to fall is running through the house…lol…as children we were told that many times…lol

3. Uneven browning could be caused by baking at too high of a temperature and crowding the oven shelf.  My suggestion is always use an oven thermometer and have at least two inches around each pan.

4. Always mix your batter well on medium speed (unless otherwise directed)scraping the sides periodically to incorporate all ingredients. You don’t want to miss anything or over mix.

5. Always add love to whatever you do! It makes everything better!

I hope these tips have helped you. This is what I worked on over the weekend.

Quick Lemon Cake

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Hello there. Today offers love and good food. My uncle and my cousins have come home. So of course Grandma and I are cooking.  Who can turn down a family get together…not this gal. I’m in charge of the sweet treats of course. So using what I have on hand is  quick and keeps me from having to do a lot of shopping. There will be something for everyone to enjoy. The kids get red velvet cake pops, chocolate covered pretzels, and brownies. The adults get my quick lemon cake and peach cobbler. Although everyone is welcome to eat what they like. The kid’s have treats that can be carried by hand! They can grab and go…who wants to be cooped up on a beautiful sunny day like this plus they can burn the sugar off while playing.

Everything does not have to be from scratch. Doctoring up a box mix is always easy and you don’t need many extra ingredients. Sometimes just the fact that you don’t have to start from scratch makes everything seem a little easier. Make it easy for yourself! When you have time and you want to, then create from scratch. I just want everyone to be happy and enjoy each other while taking in some food love!

Today you get 2 recipes…one is for happiness and the other is for cake! I hope you enjoy them both! The happiness recipe I came across while I was strolling on the Internet.  A website called http://www.oldrecipebook.com.  The author of the poem is unknown. I think it works, how about you?

Recipe for Happiness

2 heaping cups of patience
1 heartful of love
2 handsful of generosity
a dash of laughter
1 headful of understanding

Sprinkle generously with kindness. Add plenty of faith, and mix well. Spread over a period of a lifetime and serve to everyone you meet.
(Date Unknown)

 

Lemon Bundt with Strawberries

Ingredients

1 box of lemon cake mix

1 small box of Jello instant lemon pudding

4 large eggs

1/3 cup of canola oil

1/2 cup self rising flour

1/2 cup of milk ( I prefer whole milk but you can substitute what you like)

1/2 cup of water

1 tsp lemon flavoring

1 cup of lemon frosting of your choice.

15-20 fresh strawberries

2 tbs sugar

Directions

1. Pre heat oven to 330° f. Spray your baking pan with baking spray.

2. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour batter into your large bundt pan.

3. Bake for about an hour. Check it in 50 minutes. Depending on your oven it may be done.

4. While the cake is baking, wash and cut your berries. Add the 2 tablespoons of sugar and let sit in the refrigerator.

5. When the cake is done, remove from oven and let sit on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Remove from pan and drizzle the frosting over it. Let it continue to cool completely.

6. Once cake is completely cooled add the strawberries to the middle of the cake. Serve to family.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my family today! I hope your day has been full of good people, lots of love, and exceptional food! Let me know what you think about the cake! Enjoy.

Sweet Potato Pie

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The older I get, the more I notice that people are always rushing here and there to get the next thing done on the list. I am that person or I was that person. I stay busy these days don’t get me wrong, however, I’ve thought about what makes me happy and sometimes the things we rush to do or get to are just that…Things…life is made of precious moments spent with the ones we love and we should take the time to appreciate and enjoy them not the things we rush after. Slow down and smell the roses that you say are so beautiful. Enjoy the day!

I’m not a huge sweet potato fan. This time of the year, I tend to bake them quite often. Between Thanksgiving and March, sweet potatoes are used quite a bit in my house.  Although I’m not a fan of it by itself…if its wrapped in a pie crust and a few other things…then I’m all in! LOL

When my son was about 2 years old, I decided that I wanted to try to bake a sweet potato pie. I asked both of my grandmother’s for their recipes…lol…neither one of them could tell me their recipe. Oh don’t misunderstand me, it wasn’t that they didn’t want to give it to me…because they told me what they used…they just couldn’t tell me exactly how much of each ingredient. How many of you have heard that before? It’s funny because I’ve watched them both in the kitchen while I was growing up and I don’t think I saw a measuring cup used. They just knew what to use by sight, consistency, and the feel of whatever they were making. I miss that. It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood.

I wasted soooo much butter, sweet potatoes, sugar, and eggs when I tried…it was sad! It was like the father on Almost Christmas that tried several times to make his deceased wife’s sweet potato pie…it wasn’t funny for him and it definitely wasn’t funny for me or at least not then…it is now. Yes, I can laugh at myself. We all should be able to.  Sometimes things just don’t go your way. You either try again or give up…and baby let me tell you…I’m no quitter! It’s in my blood to succeed!

I just could not, for the life in me get it to taste like either of my granny’s pies. I was so disappointed and frustrated. I didn’t give up though. When I told my grandma what happened, she said, “Well why did you throw them away?”  I said, “because it didn’t taste like yours!” It tickled her a little but then she proceeded to tell me to start tasting my batter. Once I add something taste a little to see if I like it. And what do you know….it works! Over the years I’ve worked on my recipe and tried many others. I finally figured it out. I’ve been able to taste and get the measurements correct to pass on to you!

First things first…you must take the time and bake your sweet potatoes. Do not, I repeat do not boil them. It only adds more moisture that you don’t need in your pie. Baking the sweet potatoes intensifies the flavor. So my recipe makes 2 deep dish sweet potato pies. If you like the regular pie crust or a thinner filled pie just cut the recipe in half. So that’s my tip for you…lol. Most vegetables are better baked. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments.

Ingredients:

4 medium sized sweet potatoes baked and peeled

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed Brown sugar.

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 stick of butter….real butter only please

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

1 tbs milk

 

Directions:

1.  Pre heat your oven to 350°

2.  Blind bake your pie crust just for a few minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. I usually poke a few holes in it to keep it from bubbling. This also keeps your crust from becoming soggy.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, combine first 5 ingredients with an electric hand mixer. Turn your oven temp to 330°.

4.  Add spices and vanilla. This is where I taste to make sure it’s what I like. You may want start with less spice to achieve what you would like.

5.  Add eggs one at a time. If your battery seems runny, you may add 1/4 cup of self rising flour or even cake mix if you have some.

6.  Divide your battery into the 2 piecrusts. Use the milk to brush the edges of the crust. This will help keep them from burning or you can use a pie shield. It also gives a beautiful golden brown edge.

7.  Bake for 45-50 minutes. They will rise during baking and then gently fall once they are cooling on a wire rack.

8.  Let cool before slicing.

I hope you enjoy these pies as much as my family has.

 

 

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is the day for lovers, loved ones, and everyone one who chooses love over hate and pain. We should live a life full of love and hope! The world would be a much better place. Be a blessing to someone today. Give a hug, smile when you don’t have to or need to or want to. You never know who may be watching and who will pay it forward.

Several years ago when I graduated from college, my aunt was a blessing to me and gifted me a cruise to Key West and the Bahamas! Talk about a good time!!!! We had a blast! The food was great not to mention the drinks! We did the Bar Crawl which basically was a tour of several bars in Key West. We also had some time to experience the food. I definitely appreciate the love my aunt showed me. I had such a great time that we were cruising again in less than a year!

One of the small things that I enjoyed was the tray of treats that were waiting for us in our room. The single treat that I enjoyed the most was the chocolate covered strawberries. Of course I had seen them before and wanted to try them but I simply hadn’t. When we returned home, I decided that I would try to make them myself. For those of you who know me…you know that I will try almost anything. So I did a little research and said how hard can it really be to cover some berries. Well let me tell you…sometimes the smallest things can be the most difficult. However after trying to get them perfect, I realized that they didn’t have to be. They were still good! So I made them and my family was absolutely glad that I did. Two ingredients and some wax paper are all you need really.

You’re going to want to find the sweetest, juiciest, freshest strawberries that are available. I tend to make a lot of these when it’s strawberry season.

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Ingredients

1 quart of strawberries…washed and dried with the stem still in tact

1/2 pkg of Almond bark…melted in a bowl

Tray covered in wax paper

 

Directions

  1. Melt almond bark according to package directions
  2. Dip berries holding them by the stem, one at a time in the almond bark ( I’ve found this to be the easiest way)
  3. Let the excess drain and place on the tray to dry (if you are adventurous…before they dry sprinkle with finely chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips…the possibilities are endless!)

 

This is a nice treat to end the night with! Enjoy! Thanks for reading!

Baby Brother’s Eggrolls

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I have a baby brother whom I don’t get to see very often because he lives in the Midwestern part of the country. However, he too has taken a liking to cooking. He and his wife enjoy being in the kitchen together. I think that’s amazing! Like I said in the last post, food is the love that binds us all together. Cook with those you love! You’d be amazed at the interaction and the feel good endorphin’s that are released! I remember when he got his first apartment in California and started cooking. He used to call me on the phone and ask how to cook different things. We would talk during his preparation and cooking process. It was a great bonding experience for us because we were so far apart!

I have to take a moment to shout out a local chef/entrepreneur…Free Spirit Food Shack! Keisha Gause is living her dream. I had the chance to partake in some of her cuisine and I was impressed. I had the daily special which was fish tacos w/chips and avocado slaw! Because I can’t pass up an egg roll , I also had a beef egg roll. She is reasonably priced and she delivers. Check her out on Facebook…Free Spirit Food Shack.

Back to the recipe at hand here….when Little brother was home, he and his wife graced the family with some home made egg rolls and spring rolls. They were delicious! He says that they can’t take full credit for this recipe because they received it from a friend and they’ve put their own spin on it. As will I.  He gave me the ingredients without specific measurements. So I have tried to give some measurements along with my additions to this masterpiece.

Everyone was oooing and awing over them. They made my tongue want to slap my brains out!…LOL…I must say that I have never tasted an egg roll any better at any restaurant. They were absolutely amazing!

We are an eclectic family with several nationalities under one roof and we all like to try different things. So don’t be surprised at some of the dishes that I feature here. I think it’s great to try new things. It’s exciting! Making egg rolls can be a tedious job but soooo worth the end result! I hope you enjoy them as much as my family has!

You can use shrimp, ground pork, or beef. I use shrimp. Baby brother uses ground pork and chicken…not together…lol…but if you like to experiment, mix and match what you like!

Baby Brother’s Eggrolls

5 tbs minced garlic

3/4 lb cabbage, sliced thinly

1 1/2 lbs peeled, deveined, chopped shrimp ( I leave them whole)

1/2 sweet onion diced

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

1/2 of a bunch of cilantro, chopped

3 green onions (my addition to the recipe)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbs sesame oil (my addition to the recipe)

1 box of Thai Kitchen rice noodles…you will use less than half the box.

salt & pepper to taste

Egg roll wraps

Directions

  1. In a large skillet or wok…add sesame oil, 3 tbs of garlic and shrimp(meat of choice) and cook until shrimp turn pink.
  2. Remove shrimp and place on the side. Add onions(sweet & green), carrots, cabbage, ginger, remaining garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until cabbage is al dente.
  3. Cook noodles per package directions and drain.
  4. Mix everything together and let cool. It’s easier to wrap with cooler ingredients than hot…it will rip the wrap
  5. Once mixture has cooled, wrap eggrolls.
  6. Deep Fry in 350-375 degree temperature canola oil for about 4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.