We have snow!! So I’m gonna post a snowman.
You know, I was just thinking… after I wrote those first 2 sentences, I looked out the window for awhile at the snow I was talking about… you know the snow that I used TWO exclamation marks after when I said we have snow, and I realized how my standards have changed. Do you know how much snow we have right now?
About 1/2 inch.
1 inch at the deep parts.
I was born and raised in northern WI and moved to OH 3 years ago. If we’d get this much snow in WI and Shannon’s dear grandpa from PA would call and say, “What’s the weather like out there? Do you have snow?”, same as he’d always start every call with between Sept and May, we’d say “No, not really, just a little dusting.” I do really like the mild winters here though. I think it’s pretty cool that in Ohio right now, it’s mid-January and I still haven’t gotten out my winter coat… my temp mark for bulk-of-winter-coat-is-worth-it-for-the-extra-warmth-over-light-coat is about 25 degrees, unless I’m going to be out for a long period of time. I haven’t gotten my boots out either because… I have none. I threw them away last year because they were so out of style and I was so in love with them… so when I was tempted to wear them, I’d weigh the pros (love them) and cons (out of style)… and love always won. So the only way to make myself stop wearing them was to throw them away.
All that to say that I’m in the market for boots. I love the style of boots right now… especially the sorta short ones with a heel and slouched and black and a bow-type thing on the side… so I’ll probably be back in my out-of-style-but-love-em predicament again in 5 years. Maybe I’ll buy some boots tomorrow… we seriously need to get out of the house because we’ve been sick for nearly a week around here and I think we’re all functioning at 85 – 100% power today now… so what better thing to do on a Saturday than to go out on the town.
Anyway… let’s circle back around to where we started… “I’m gonna post a snowman”.
Isn’t it crazy how M&Ms can almost seem to make something have a personality?
I feel like I need to talk really fast to interrupt any crazy “I’d never have time for that!” thoughts. It’s simply 2 cake mixes… dump one in a mixing bowl instead of a 9×13, dump the other one in a small mixing bowl and the rest in cupcake liners. Bake. Frost… you don’t even have to add food coloring because snow is conveniently white! Press M&Ms on. Make a melty chocolate/peanut butter hat. Fruit roll-up scarf. Eat. There is no carving or shaping of cake going on here. I made this for dessert for hot lunch at school.
Get your 5-yr-old to decorate the cupcakes… Tiffany did all of them while I did the snowman. We used orange M&Ms for noses only and put them sideways so they stuck out a little more.
Keep the 18-month-old demolition-crew-of-one as far away as possible. Or do what I did and count one cupcake and a small handful of M&Ms as loss and set her up to destro—, I mean, decorate it.
*cell phone pic alert* Yeah, we tried just giving Megan some Apple Jacks to munch on so she could happily watch while munching, but nope, no luck, she was more into M&Ms and gooey frosting.
One thing I should say about the baking… I was afraid the cake wouldn’t get done in the middle, so I looked around the kitchen, saw a glass Coke bottle (filled it to make it heavier), covered it in tin foil, and put it in the middle, like it’s sitting in the mixing bowl here… kind of an angel food cake pan effect. It worked perfect. I don’t know if it would be necessary or not, though. I baked the cake for 1 hour.
I used candy canes for the arms (broke off the curved part), but you could use pretzel rods or whatever. The hat is a chunk of leftover buckeye-type peanut butter filling dipped in melted chocolate with too much chocolate poured on top so it ran down beside it, making a hat brim. Then I put it in the fridge until it hardened. You could pretty much use anything… like a chocolate-dipped small cookie or whoopie pie or something.
*gasp* Did I just used the phrase “too much chocolate”?! Sorry, it should read “extra chocolate” instead… I’m more comfortable with that term.
Add a fruit roll-up or fondant the color of your choice for the scarf. Snip the ends with a scissors to give a tassle effect.
And there you go… celebrate winter with your kids! Whether you have 2 feet of snow, a 1/2 inch of snow, or only dream of snow.
There. I did 2 posts with meat in, so let’s get back to the fun stuff! No, really, I am planning to keep it a little more balanced… I think anyway. Sometimes I think I should’ve named this site something like ”Chocolate Dipped Tidbits” or “Living for Chocolate, Dying for Some More” and do sweets only, what with that being my passion and all.
Speaking of which, I totally get Tiffany (my 5-yr-old) in this little conversation that happened one day last week:
Her: “May I have an ice cream cone?”
Me: “No, you already had one today.”
Her: “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease? I REALLY need one.”
Me, feeling sorry for her, but sticking to my guns: “No.”
Her, pulling out the trump card in desperation: “I’ll give you all my money if you let me have one.”
If we run out of cones and ice cream around here, my girls think it’s a real crisis. Currently, we have sugar cones (the pointy ones that sorta look like waffle cones) and regular cones in 2 sizes (the ones that are flat on the bottom and taste like newspaper just plain). These cone cake pops use the mini size of the regular cones.
Awwww, aren’t they adorable?
You really do need to see these in real life. The cuteness factor doubles from a picture to real life.
I know you can’t really tell the exact size because there’s nothing to compare it to. So, here’s one in a 13-month-old pudgy hand, if you know what size they are in real life. This is a real ice cream cone, but the same size cone.
Yeah, we’re getting Megan hooked on ice cream cones already. This size is so perfect for her because she’s done eating it by the time it starts melting and dripping.
I got this Ice Cream Cone Cake Pops idea from Bakerella’s website and her Cake Pops cookbook (which my friend Ruthie gave to me for my birthday last year… it was on my wish list, and I never told her, how cool is that?!) Bakerella used sawed-off sugar cones, but I decided to just use mini regular cones so I wouldn’t have to do all that cutting.
So here’s what you do. Take a baked cake and crumble it up and add a bought can of frosting and mix it together.
Get the leftover cake out of the freezer from a graduation cake you made earlier, thaw it, crumble it, mix up some frosting and mix a few dollops into the cake crumbs. That’s what I did. So, these cake pops were white cake mixed with cinnamon cake.
By the way, next time you’re buying cake mixes and you’re undecided on the kind, please buy a cinnamon one. This is the first time I tried it and it was SO good! You’d think I would’ve already thought to try that, what with having married into a we-love-cinnamon family. I want to make one sometime with cream cheese frosting. Mmmm mmmm mmm!!! You can use cream cheese frosting in these cake pops, but then you should refrigerate them, which is why I used regular frosting.
Here are the cake crumbs and dollops of frosting. I forgot to take a picture after it was mixed…
Roll the cake mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball, maybe a little smaller. Don’t make all those little dents in it like a golf ball has, though. Put the cake balls in the freezer for 15 minutes, then transfer them to the fridge if you’re not ready to dip yet. They should be chilled, but not frozen.
Here is when I was just ready to start. Those bowls are both melted white chocolate, but the one has pink food coloring in it. The melted milk chocolate is missed on the picture. I put some M&Ms in the bottom of the cones just for a fun surprise.
Dip a skewer in the melted chocolate, then into a cake ball. You can take a spoon and spoon some chocolate over to get it fully covered if the chocolate isn’t deep enough to fully immerse the cake ball, but don’t spin or stir or twist it around in the chocolate because crumbs may fall off or it might come apart. Then, put the drippy chocolate covered cake ball on one of these mini cones and pull the skewer out. It will kind of start to drip over the sides to make a melty look. That is a good thing.
After the cake pops are dipped and put on the cones, take another color of melted chocolate and put on top, letting it start going down the sides a bit. Put on sprinkles if you want to. Put a red M&M or peanut M&M on top for a cherry.
To make tipped over ones, put the cake ball on a flat surface instead of on a cone, then put the cone slanted on top of it. Bakerella calls this a “happy accident on purpose”. I love that term! :)
Now, we leave Bakerella and go on to an extra tip and idea for these from me:
1. These little things are top-heavy. So if you’re taking them somewhere, put a little bit of melted white chocolate on the bottom of the cone, then set it on the plate. In no time, it is hardened and you can move the plate around at will… without ice cream cones landing on the floor.
2. Pipe thick chocolate letters on plastic wrap or wax paper, put them in the fridge till they’re hard, and stick them to the top with a dollop or two of melted chocolate… and you’ve just personalized your cake pops to the season/event/occasion!
Here are some specific ideas:
– Write “Welcome Home” on them and put them on the counter, ready for someone coming home. That’s actually the very thing that made me think of putting letters on top of these… around the time I was making these for a church picnic, some friends of ours were coming home from a trip and I had intentions of doing that with the extra ones, but with a combo of a change of plans in my day and procrastination, they got home before I got it done. But at least I’m glad for the idea now, to use in other ways.
– Use them for the cake at a birthday party and write “Happy Birthday (insert birthday person’s name)”
– Write your kids’ names.
– Make the entire alphabet, with extra A’s, E’s, T’s, M’s, S’s, and whatever other letters are used more often. Then, let your kids play with them, writing words and phrases or even complete sentences.
And last but not least, if you love someone, do this…
You bake cookies. You could do it on autopilot. Your kids even know the drill… one time, Tiffany came out to the kitchen as I was starting cookie baking and said, “Can I help you bake cookies?”
“How did you know I’m gonna bake cookies?”, I asked.
“Because I saw you open the mixer and get that *pointing to the shortening* and the sugar out of the cupboard, and that’s how you always start baking cookies.”, she confidently said.
Sometimes I feel in such a rut with cooking and baking. When we have cookies around, 90% of the time they’re either monster or chocolate chip. When we have cake around, 90% of the time, it’s chocolate with peanut butter icing. When we have pie around, 90% of the time it’s either peanut butter or lemon meringue. And it looks like when I get into a percentage rut, it’s usually 90%. Seriously, though, if I make something other than the things listed above, you pretty much always see it on here. Sometimes I feel too predictable and want to change things up a bit…
We can still have our favorites, but in a different way.
Take chocolate chip cookies, for example. I was making some for an after school snack, so you know, for kids. Instead of using the same ol’ Pampered Chef cookie scoop, I just used a spoon and made teeny little scoops. The teeny little scoops turned into adorable 1-and-a-half-inch-in-diameter cookies. The adorable cookies, placed in a little bucket, turned into an after school snack that was a huge hit… little cookies, huge hit. They thought it was great that they could have TEN cookies for after school snack!
And now, not to wreck the fun I’m-SOOOOOO-gonna-bake-cookies-this-afternoon-and-do-that-cuz-the-kids’ll-love-it mood or anything, but just let me warn you: the dough goes down v.e.r.y slowly, it takes way longer to put them on and get them off the cookie sheet, and the yield is dozens and dozens, do not even try to count.
We’re now going to switch from baking dozens of little time-consuming mini cookies to 1 pan of bars.
Let’s say you’re baking cookies and you mix the dough up and while the first panful is in the oven, you realize you’re not really in the mood to bake cookies after all… not in the mood to drop them onto the cookie sheet every 10 minutes, not in the mood to be setting your laptop down and jumping up 5 times an hour.
But, you’ve got a batch of dough sitting there.
No problem. Just spread the dough in a sheet cake pan and bake it for 25 minutes… and ta-da, bars made from your favorite cookie recipe. I just tried this for the first time about 3 weeks ago and thought it was really great that I thought to do this on my own UNTIL some of my friends said, “Oh, yeah, I do that all the time.”
Side note here: that’s my chocolate chip cookie recipe, except that I substituted FUDGE + 1 cup of flour for the chocolate chips. I had about 5 cups of fudge on hand from when I made this cake.
I was going to use the fudge in the middle layer between the 2 cakes, but then when I started spreading it on, I was afraid it would be too soft and squish out from the weight of the cake plus car on top of it (I used melted-then-hardened chocolate instead). So, I used the fudge up in those cooki— uh, I mean bars.
Another way to change up chocolate chip cookies is to mix them up and bake them, leaving out the chocolate chips. Then, melt the chocolate chips, spread them on something metal to harden and make cutouts. Or just drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies. After they’re baked, you can cut out some of the baked cookies into heart shapes… the girls (and I) did these 2 years ago for Valentines Day and we shipped them to WI to their 2 grandmas.
For cake: sometimes I do chocolate cake with peanut butter icing in a 9×13, sometimes I do it in a sheet cake pan, and once in a great while, into cupcakes. I know, exciting. Next time, I’m going to do mini ones. I made mini cupcakes for the first time last week. If you ever want to do this, one cake mix made exactly 6 dozen… I filled the wells about 3/4 full with batter. And it takes double the frosting. Pile it up even more than this… it’s part of what makes minis fun. I only made a single batch, so I couldn’t put as much on as I wanted to AND I ran out.
For pie… if you want lemon meringue pie, but not in big piece form, do this: make pie crust, cut 3″ circles, press them into mini muffin pans, and bake. Make your regular lemon pie filling and fill the crusts. Make regular meringue and pipe or dollop it on, brown it in the oven, and you’ve got these sweet li’l thangs…
You could do that with probably any kind of pie. It’s great for potlucks or snacks.
And now, still on the pie subject, the grand finale to this whole ‘switching things up’ thing… how about calorie-free…
I ran across this website (April Cottage Ramblings) one day as I was surfing and immediately saved the link. Absolutely amazing!!! Seriously, this lady is talented… she KNITTED a piece of pie and a donut!!! She knits and crochets other stuff too… I fell in love with a little short-sleeved ruffly purple sweater that she made for her granddaughter. I don’t know her, and I don’t knit, but I’m very impressed. And it sounds like she’s going to knit more cakes, so I’m going to stay tuned.
Coming up next… Lately, I’ve been hungry for lettuce salad with craisins and pecans in it, so I’m going to look for a recipe like that. I don’t have one in mind, so if you have a slam good one that you’re bursting to share, let me know!
When you saw ‘Watermelon Cake’ in the title, did you think it would be a cake that tastes like watermelon or a cake that looks like watermelon? Well, whichever you thought, you were right. It’s both.
I was going back thro’ some pictures the other day and found the making of this cake from last summer. I had totally forgotten about it! So, here it is now, a year later.
These pictures are dated July 4. Uh, wait, July 4?! July 4?!!!! I’m just wondering WHY in the world was I making watermelon cake on July 4th?! It’s a holiday! I shoulda been out on a pontoon on Round Lake or at the grocery store buying burgers and brats or something! But the watermelon cake was right in among the USA jello and the flag fruit pizza and the fireworks pictures (all featured here), so… I guess it was the 4th. No wonder I forgot about it!
Watermelon Cake …from the 2002 Quick Cooking annual cookbook
1 pkg. (18 1/4 oz) white cake mix
1 pkg. (3 oz) watermelon gelatin …If you can’t find watermelon flavored, just use strawberry or something else red or pink. That’s what I did.
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups vanilla or cream cheese frosting …I used cream cheese.
Red and green food coloring
In a mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix, gelatin, eggs, water, and oil. Beat on low speed just until moistened. Beat on high for 2 minutes or until well blended. Pour into 2 greased and floured round 9″ cake pans.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Set aside 2 Tbsp. of frosting. Place 1 1/4 cups of frosting into a bowl; tint red. Tint remaining frosting green. Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 1/2 cup red frosting to within 1/4″ of edges.
Top with second cake. Frost top with remaining red frosting to within 3/4″ of egdes. Frost sides and top edge with green frosting.
Place reserved white frosting in a resealable plastic bag; cut a 1/4″ hole in one corner. Pipe around top edge of cake where red and green frosting meets.
For seeds, insert chocolate chips upside-down into cake top. Yield: 12 servings.
Ok, it’s about time to feature something sweet again, wouldn’t you say? I would! I have to force myself to try to keep this site balanced… would be more fun to have all desserts. But maybe the reason for that is because that’s the type of stuff that I
‘m addicted to get cravings for the most. So, of course it’s more fun to post about it. That’s probably why I haven’t posted the crunchy-baked fish yet that I made awhile ago.
This recipe is hand-written in my ‘blank’ cookbook. It’s my mother-in-law’s recipe. I’d never had it or even heard of it until she made it one time when my family went over to their house for a meal one time many years ago, before I even dreamed she’d be my mother-in-law someday. Ok, I’d better take that back… it may have been in my dreams for the future…
I think this cake is meant to be a knock-off of the TastyKakes Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes, which are (in my opinion) the BEST in the entire TastyKake line. It does actually taste a lot like them, except those have chocolate on all 4 sides instead of just the top. Hmmmm, never thought of it till right now, but I could cut them out in circles after the peanut butter is on and dip them in chocolate. Given the choice of chocolate on 1 side or chocolate on ALL sides… that’s a no-brainer.
Peanut Butter Candy Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup peanut butter
8 oz. milk chocolate chips (I used most of a 12 oz. bag)
Beat and beat the eggs. Gradually add the sugar, milk, and vanilla.
Then add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Pour into a greased jelly roll pan.
Bake 15-20 min at 350.
When you get the cake out of the oven, put dollops of peanut butter all over the cake. When it softens and melts a bit, start spreading it out until the entire cake is evenly covered. I didn’t actually measure out 1 cup for this (and probably put on over 1 cup), so don’t hold yourself to 1 cup if it seems like more would be better. Same with the chocolate.
Let the cake cool, then put it in the freezer for awhile until the peanut butter firms up. Melt the chocolate and spread on top of peanut butter. It’ll harden because the peanut butter underneath is cold.
Cut into squares. Some of my pictures got blurry, and I don’t have a good one of the cake all covered with chocolate. I really should check my pictures before eating the food!
I don’t think I need to sell the idea that this is good stuff! The cake part is kind of like a moist pound cake. Moist cake with peanut butter and chocolate… nothin’ wrong with that combo!