Shark Week Cookie Cake

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{I’m still here! I know it’s been 70 days since I last posted (who’s counting?!), but I’m still here. And my little, loyal blog was here, waiting for me, all along. And I hope you were, too. I hope to get back into feeling good, and feeling inspired, and delivering better-than-subpar blog posts and recipes.}

Do YOU know what week it is? SHARK WEEK! We just love Shark Week in our house! My boys just love sharks and we get a kick out of having a whole week devoted to them. I always like to make a fun treat. This year, I made a cookie cake!

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It is an enormous chocolate chip cookie, “choc” full of chips.

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It is covered in creamy, vanilla frosting ocean water, its frothy waves lapping up to shore, meeting the gold, glittery beach.

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Let’s hope that the owner of the surfboard went for a walk! Yikes! Those waters are super shark infested!

Shark Week Cookie Cake

Serves:  A lot of hungry dudes and dudettes

Recipe adapted from: Doughmestic Housewife

1 C softened butter

1 C sugar

1 C brown sugar

2 eggs

1 t baking soda

3 C flour

2 C chocolate chips

Mix the first 5  ingredients. Then add the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. Press into a greased cookie/pizza pan. Bake 18 – 25m at 350F.

Frosting:

4 C powdered sugar

1 C shortening

4 T milk (plus more, if you need to thin it out)

1 t vanilla extract

Food coloring

Mix together until you have the right consistency (spreadable, not too runny). Split the frosting into two parts. Color half of it blue (I used both green and blue to make a turquoise-y color).

Extra materials:

Graham cracker crumbs

Gold and blue sugar sprinkles

Fish and dolphin sprinkles

gummy sharks

Plastic palm trees, surf board, umbrella

After the cookie caked has been baked and cooled, frost half of it with the white frosting. Cover most of it with the graham cracker crumbs and gold sprinkles. Leave a little bit of white frosting showing, for the waves. Next, add the blue water. Then add the sharks and sea animal sprinkles, blue sugar sprinkles, palm trees, surf board, and umbrella.

And there you go, little surfers!

Hang then! Don’t let the sharks bite you!

Kristin

Snowman Cupcakes

What a sweet week it’s been! And it’s not over yet. I’ve got more baking to do. So far this week, I’ve made Christmas Crack Candy, Christmas Chocolate Cake, Christmas Tree Brownies, and lastly, for now, Snowman Cupcakes!

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I took the semi-homemade route, again, this time. So, these were pretty easy. Sort of. I’ll get to that. But if you plan to make them, they will be easy.

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Aren’t they darling? I was in charge of dessert for my Bigs’ class’ birthday party for Jesus today. I thought about going the Jesus/religious symbol route when it came to decorating, but I was nervous about the kids having to eat Baby Jesus. It could go all kinds of wrong. I’ve seen some cute Jesus decorations, but knowing me, I’d make a disaster out of it.

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So, I decided on snowmen.

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I like the way they came out. I really enjoyed making these.

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And just like real snowmen, they each have their own little personalities*.

*decorating inconsistencies

These cheerful cupcakes were delicate and had a soft crumb, were rich in chocolate flavor (thanks boxed mix!), and covered in a delicious, fluffy, marshmallow-y frosting. The crushed peppermint added a refreshing, festive flavor. These were a hit!

Snowman Cupcakes

1 box of your favorite cake mix (or one batch of homemade) – I used chocolate

ingredients used to make cupcakes

silver cupcake wrappers (other Christmassy ones would be cute too)

1 batch of 7 Minute Frosting (recipe below)

candy canes, crushed (I crushed up 12, but didn’t need it all)

Wilton Icing Decorations, snowman variety

Follow the directions on your cake mix box and bake cupcakes, as directed. Let them cool completely. You can expedite this process by placing the cupcakes in the freezer or refrigerator.

While those are cooling, make your 7 Minute Frosting (recipe, directions, and a short story below). I iced the cupcakes using a swirled effect, to make them look peppermint-y. If you want to do that, you’ll need to paint a stripe of food coloring (I used Americolor Red gel) on the inside of your icing bag, before filling it with the frosting.

Once the cupcakes were iced with the swirled frosting, I sprinkled them with the crushed candy canes, and placed one of the Wilton Icing Decorations on top.

I ended up making the frosting twice.

7 Minute Frosting – Recipe #1

Source: Paula Deen, Food Network.com

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup (I used white corn syrup)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
I have made this dozens of times before, and it’s always turned out beautifully, but ran into a problem this time. I used the white corn syrup, while I usually use the cream of tartar. I had both on hand, so I’m not sure why I chose the syrup. Anyways, it didn’t set up and the sugar didn’t fully melt. It was a grainy, soupy mess. And I know that my boiling water wasn’t touching the bottom of the glass bowl on my double boiler. Ohhhh wellllll.
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I tried a different recipe for the second batch. I actually used a recipe I hadn’t used before and it worked out perfectly.
Fluffy White Frosting – Recipe #2
Source: allrecipes.com
1 C white sugar
1/3 C water
1/4 t cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 t vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes.
I’m sure that either one you choose will work out fine. I’d stick with the cream of tartar though. That one always works for me. #nowiknow #lessonlearned #themoreyouknow
Since I only needed a dozen cupcakes, I had a little fun with my leftover batter.
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I baked a mini chocolate bundt cake. Then, I filled the hole with the red swirled marshmallow frosting (the good batch), sprinkled crushed peppermints on top, took a few pictures of it, then ate it, off of my “Cookies for Santa” plate. It was good. I had to test my product before it left my kitchen. Bakers and Chefs, you know this. It’s an important part of the process. I did this for you.
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I happen to know that Santa loves his (or her) cookies, but would not turn down this sweet little bundt cake, if you left it out for him (or her).
Blessings!
Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Away in a Manger Scene

We did it! We decorated for Christmas. We always do it the week of Thanksgiving since we travel on the day of and want our home to be Christmas-y upon our return. Bigs was SO excited! This will be a fun year with him. He “gets” it. Smalls, however, is just a typical one year old, plucking the Christmas balls off the tree, yelling, “BALL, BALL!!!”, and throwing them as hard as he can (and he’s freakishly strong) across the living room. I normally put a smaller tree up, as well, that is my “Sweets Tree”, where I put on only dessert and sweets themed ornaments. That one is, sadly, not up this year. I just don’t have the energy to watch Smalls around two trees. I have extra eyes on the back of my head to watch them, but they just aren’t enough. Perhaps next year.

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Bigs was very concerned that the Christmas tree would go away while he napped, while we were away for Thanksgiving and for any other event requiring us to leave the house. Which is a lot. Object permanence isn’t as ingrained as I’d thought. But that will make it more magical and more fun to show him as we get closer to the day. And for him, it’ll be like Groundhog Day, every morning! The tree will still be there, just like yesterday! It is just so wonderful to see this holiday through the eyes of a child. I know that is clichéd (I am shaking my own head at my own self right now), but it truly is.

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I just love that skinny little baby arm and hand (left), and that sweet toddler hand (right) coming together on an ornament, placing it on the tree in tandem. I am so in love with them.

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This is the first ornament Bigs made in church last year. I am only slightly concerned because it’s made of paper and you know, light-heat and paper don’t so much mix, but it was too precious not to put up. I love that he constantly sees the images of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. Seeing it over and over will help him learn and then know, with certainty, the true meaning of Christmas. I am truly blessed and thankful for them and my husband.

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Jesus sure is the Reason for this season. Without Him, none of this would be. And that applies to just about everything.

Today I finished making my Coconut Cake. I used a different recipe this year. And as per the usual, I didn’t read the recipe the whole way through before starting on it. That’s how I do. It called for keeping an un-iced, filled cake in the fridge for three days. Luckily, I made the cakes and filling two days before Thanksgiving, so it still worked out. You really think I’d have learned, by now, to read a recipe all the way through before starting on it!

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http://www.cakeduchess.com/2013/11/coconut-cake-foodmemory-guest-post-magnolia-days.html

The only changes I made to the recipe were that I used sweetened coconut in the filling and used less sugar since it didn’t really specify that the coconut used was sweetened or not. I also added about a half teaspoon of coconut flavored baking emulsion to really enhance that coconut flavor.

http://www.amazon.com/LorAnn-Oils-Emulsion-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B001REJIJM

I love how when I pat the coconut on the frosting, it falls all around the plate like freshly fallen snow. It’s such a show-stopper of a cake (if I can be so bold to say so – I simply just followed the recipe!). So very festive. I cannot wait to eat that piece as big as my face, that I promise myself each year.

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I also got my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni Casserole made. It is a cinch to throw together and is so delicious. Here is the little beauty going in to the oven.

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And here she is coming out…melty, ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

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I can’t wait to dig into it tomorrow.

Here is the recipe.

Bigs and I made pumpkin muffins for breakfast and snack tomorrow. It was a fun little activity for us to do together while Smalls was still napping.

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We used a shortcut and made them with a store bought cake mix (vanilla). We added one can of pumpkin puree to the vanilla cake mix and stirred like the dickens. We added some ginger and cinnamon and some pumpkin spice bakery emulsion. We baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Oils-Pumpkin-Emulsion-4oz/dp/B00BR25W9E

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I also put together a snack bento for Bigs for the Thanksgiving car trip. We aren’t going TOO far, but snacks make for a more pleasant ride.

Preschool Thanksgiving Road Trip Snacks

I packed a string cheese, a clementine some 5-grain crackers, a box of raisins, some Newman’s Own popcorn and one of our pumpkin spice muffins. Smalls will have less exciting snacks, in the form of Cheerios. 🙂 I will pack both of them an applesauce squeezy fruit.

Thanksgiving Subway

I hope you all have a VERY blessed, safe, thankful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy the time with your family and friends. And if that’s not how it’s going to turn out, it’s what you make of it! And to those going through hardships and heartache, may you feel God’s warm, loving embrace and presence, and may you find comfort in Him and the blessings (big and small) you have. There is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. God Bless.

I am so thankful for all my friends and family, near and far. And I’m thankful to God for all the blessings He gifts us (and even those He does not!) And I’m also thankful for this blog and all who read it and support me. It means so much more than you can even know. So, thank you. Happy Happy Thanksgiving.

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving