Sunday, December 20, 2015

Orange Pound Cake

One of the first chick flicks/romantic comedies I ever watched was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I think it's kind of what started me and my mom having shared interests (and also our friendship despite the fact that I was a teenager and what teenage girl wants to be friends with her mom?). One of the scenes that has always made us laugh is the beginning of the family dinner when Ian's parents meet Toula's family and Ian's mom brings a bundt cake, which Toula's mom has a hard time understanding (both the concept and the name).

So when my mom asked me to make for her birthday an orange cake that I had pinned on Pinterest but couldn't remember which one, I decided to make one that used a bundt pan. It was perfect because we were celebrating at Anthony's girlfriend Kati's parents' house (we ended up basically copying the movie because Anthony and Kati announced their engagement at the part =D). OK, I mainly made the cake so I could reference the movie and the scene in this post. But when Mom saw the cake we both laughed about the scene, so mission accomplished? (Except we forgot to put a flower pot in the cake's "hole." Oh well.)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gingerbread Cookies

My mom likes to plan things and have events. No idea why; she just does. I'm not talking about family parties/get-togethers (those are a given). I'm talking about the tea party she had earlier this year. And the cookie exchange she decided to hold this month. While trying to figure out what recipe to make (lots of decisions involved, the first one being a choice between a recipe I would find online and a recipe I would find in the cookbooks/magazines on my bookshelf), I had a lightbulb moment: the snowflake cookie pan! A few years ago I received a Wilton cookie pan from Nonni for Christmas. It has 12 cavities for snowflake cookies of different designs. The "packaging" included a recipe for gingerbread cookies so I decided to make those.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nestle Very Best Fudge

So far, I'm 0 for 2 for trick-or-treaters on Halloween. This year's reason for no visitors was your typical Seattle reason: rain. And lots of it. I'm talking torrential downpour all. day. So of course no one went out trick-or-treating. So I did the same thing I did last year: pulled out the Snickers bars for my dad and started searching for recipes that use either Twix, Milky Way, or M&Ms. I decided to stick with M&Ms since I used the other two last year.

The decision for what to make turned out to be easier than I was expecting it to be. I had in my pantry a can of Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk, purchased with canned pumpkin (which I used for the muffins) and a coupon. So I went to the Nestle recipes site and started searching for recipes that used evaporated milk. I decided to focus on fudge since I could easily add M&Ms to them instead of nuts. I ended up only having one option, though, since my can of milk was a 12 oz (either because of coupon restrictions or because it was the only size I found) and just about all the other recipes called for a 5 oz can.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I am a creature of habit, especially when it comes to meals. I have the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day and my dinner choices are the same dozen or so meals. I try and have a little variety in breakfast though, eating something different on the weekends than I do during the week. On Saturdays I have an Eggo breakfast sandwich since I do my grocery shopping shortly after. Sundays are a little different: when I was going to church I didn't have anything since my carpool stayed after mass for coffee hour, complete with pastries. After I decided to take a break from church, I needed a Sunday breakfast. For a while I was eating Pop-Tarts and scones. But I finally finished them so I turned to my Breakfast Foods board on Pinterest. Since it's still fall and I was in the mood for muffins, I decided on Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Chocolate Macaroons with Dark Chocolate Ganache Fillling

On my 9th birthday I received one of my favorite birthday gifts ever: Samantha Parkington, my first American Girl doll. She looked just like me with brown hair and eyes. I was excited. Little did I know that she would end up being the beginning of a life-long love affair with American Girl.

OK, so maybe that's a tad exaggeration. I only have one other doll - Kirsten Larson, who I bought with my own money right before I turned 10 - but I have been faithful to the company since I got Samantha, buying every single historical character book that came out (well, almost - I'm still missing a few individual short stories and I've never really been interested in the mystery books) as well as many of the advice and activity books they used to have. I even bought an Irish dance outfit for my girls and the Irish dancer who was part of their Girls of Many Lands collection back when dance was a big part of my life in high school (yes, you read that right - high school).

I've been slightly less interested in the Girl of the Year line, mainly because the girl doesn't always share an interest with me. But Grace, the 2015 Girl, does: like me, she has a knack for baking. When she was first introduced in January, I noticed that one of her specialties was macaroons, a meringue sandwich treat. So I decided to make them to eat while watching the movie (several of the Girls have gotten movie adaptations of their books, following in the footsteps of 4 historical characters).


I had actually attempted to make them back in May, when National Macaroon Day was on the horizon, with the intent to freeze them so I could eat some during the movie. But I completely failed at making the batter so I had to make them closer to watching the movie.

Take 2 didn't go so well either.

At least I made them this time?

Snickers Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

After the success of my mom's Mother's Day gift, I decided to do the same for my dad. I figured I could do one of two things: make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, Dad's favorite from the Cle Elum Bakery, or make something with Snickers, Dad's favorite candy. I decided to start searching for Snickers recipes and make the other ones if I lucked out.

I started searching on Pinterest since I just joined and recipes are one of the types of pins that the site has plenty of (plus I've discovered that you have to have a Pinterest account in order to see the Pinterest search pages that come up in a Google search). I decided to stick with cookies or bars since those are easy to box up. A few pins down, I came across a recipe for Snickers stuffed peanut butter cookies from Crazy for Crust. Like with Mom's bars, these combined two of Dad's favorite things: peanut butter and Snickers. Jackpot!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Red, White, and Blue Cheesecake

I kinda, sorta have two jobs right now. Last year I was hired by a recruiting company called Mountain LTD to work for CenturyLink in north Seattle. Earlier this year, one of my contacts from Mountain called to say that Mountain wanted all their Engineer Assistants (my position) working from Mountain's office in Renton. I am one of two EAs who can't because everything I need is at the CenturyLink office. So we figured out a way for me and the other EA to have work to do when not in Seattle: the other EA and I each spend two days a week in Seattle.

Why am I telling you this? Because I wouldn't be posting this if that hadn't happened. One of my co-workers in the Renton office decided to have a potluck for Memorial Day on the Friday before Memorial Day. As soon as she told me about it I immediately started searching for patriotic-colored desserts. As much as I wanted to, I had to stay away from desserts with fruit since I would be doing my shopping the Saturday before and most fruit (including strawberries, the red part of the dessert) doesn't last long. I finally decided on a three "layer" cheesecake from Tablespoon, a community of and for foodies.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Old-Fashioned Cola Cake

I'm addicted to a lot of foods and drinks that are bad for me. Soda is one of them. So when I offered to bake dessert for the BBQ my parents were having for Mother's Day, I was intrigued by the Old-Fashioned Cola Cake I found in The Cake Mix Doctor during my search (because of the lemon bars for my mom I figured I should find a quick recipe). To keep things simple I stuck with just the cake and decorated with a can (or two) of frosting.

Lemon-Coconut Squares

I suck at giving presents. I give something that I think will be great for the recipient but at least 90% of the time, the person ends up not using it. So for my mom's Mother's Day present, I decided on something that would be foolproof - I'd bake her something. I focused on foods with coconut in them since she's one of two people in the family who likes it. I finally settled on Lemon-Coconut Squares from the Snack Works website (mainly Nabisco products, like Oreos and Honey Maid graham crackers as well as other cookie, cracker, gum, and candy brands).

Friday, April 10, 2015

Simple Cocoa Layer Cake

When I told my mom that I was going to make jelly bean fudge for Easter, she didn't think that was enough and suggested I make a cake. So I turned to my plethora of cookbooks in search of a chocolate cake recipe (because who doesn't like chocolate? Plus, I had given up chocolate again for Lent). I finally settled on a fairly simple recipe from the Hershey's 1934 Cookbook.

I also searched for decorating ideas. Because bringing a plain cake seemed boring. Sadly, I wasn't able to execute the main idea I liked as it involved bunny Peeps and all I found at Target was chicks. Still, I did my best with drug store and dollar store finds, plus a prepared decorating bag (already filled with frosting - you can find them in the baking aisle) that I wasn't able to use for decorating St. Patrick's Day cookies. I might've gone overboard on decorating.

Jelly Bean Fudge

When my aunt asked me to bake for Easter this year, I decided to do something different. So I started searching online for recipes. Specifically, Easter desserts. I noticed a few flavor trends: 
  • Coconut (nope, couldn't do that - only Mom and Nonni like that)
  • Peanut butter (no, not that - Carly's allergic)
  • Fruits, such as lemon and raspberry (just did the lemon cupcakes so might need to stay away from fruit for a while)
I also saw a lot of jelly beans, which to me screamed "Easter," so I started to focus on that. Eventually, I found an easy recipe for Jelly Bean Fudge. Just 3 ingredients. The results were ... interesting, to say the least.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lemon Cream Cupcakes

When I was in college my mom threw a tea party for a few years, usually around Valentine's Day. Because I was miles away, I had to miss them. Even though I don't like tea, I was a bit bummed about missing them. So when my mom decided to throw one this year, I decided I had to go. I even offered to bake (though I have a feeling she would have asked me to anyway). I decided on something not chocolate since the party was going to be during Lent and as always, I gave up chocolate. My mom asked me to make something lemony so we'd have a variety of flavors. I set my sights on looking for lemon cupcakes as I was in the mood to make them and I wanted to use one of the skills that Mom and I had learned at a Wilton decorating class we took last summer. I ended up finding the same recipe in two places: Taste of Home's Cupcakes special edition magazine from a couple years ago and my 2012 cupcakes calendar.


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