Friday, December 23, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Balls


I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.  I sure did, although it was quite hectic.  I was planning on talking about cake balls before the holiday, but just didn't have time.  But now I have some time to share this great recipe.

I have been making Red Velvet Cake Balls for the past 2 years now, since I found them on http://www.bakerella.com/red-velvet-cake-balls/.  They are pretty simple to make and I always get compliments on them.  Bakerella is a very talented woman.  It is amazing what she can do with cake balls.  Check out her site, if you haven't already.

There are not many ingredients.  A cake mix, pre-made frosting, and some candy melt.  Easy peasy.

So far I have found that only Duncan Hines makes a Red Velvet Cake Mix and Cream Cheese Frosting and not all stores carry them.  I always find mine at Price Chopper. 

I usually dip the cake balls is a mix of dark cocoa candy melt and a bar of dark chocolate like Ghiradelli for a more intense chocolate taste, but a hard candy coating.  And since I usually do mine around the holidays, I buy colored candy melts to decorate.
Last year for decorating, I used my cake decorating bags and tips, but this year I decided to try squeeze bottles.  The squeeze bottle has more control, but I like the smaller holes on the cake decorating tips.  Either way, everyone loves them.  Adults and kids.  The taste is incredible and they are so moist.  I get compliments every year.  I had to make a double batch this year to please everyone.

Red Velvet Cake Balls


Ingredients
  • 1 pkg red velvet cake mix
  • 1 container (16 oz) cream cheese frosting
  • 1 pkg (14 oz) dark cocoa candy melt
  • 1 large bar dark chocolate
  • 1 pkg (14 oz) red candy melt
  • 1 pkg (14 oz) green candy melt
  • 1 pkg (14 oz) white candy melt
  • optional sprinkles

Cooking Directions
  1. Bake the cake mix as per instructions on the box for a 9 x 13 cake.
  2. Once cake is completely cooled, crumble it by hand into a large bowl.
  3. Then add in the cream cheese frosting and mix well. This can be done by hand or throw the crumbled cake and the frosting into a large mixer and mix on low.
  4. Then take a scoop at a time of the mix and roll into small balls about the size of a quarter. This will be very messy and you may have to wash your hands several times. But please refrain from licking them!
  5. Place the balls in a freezer friendly container lined with parchment/wax paper.
  6. When all balls are complete, place them in the freezer overnight or until you have time to do the rest of the recipe.
  7. When you are ready to dip, melt the dark cocoa candy melt and the dark chocolate together in a deep bowl in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until all melted.
  8. Dip the cake balls in the chocolate mixture and place on parchment/wax paper until chocolate has hardened. ( I use a fork to dip, roll, and shake off any extra chocolate.) If you want you may add fun holiday sprinkle before the chocolate hardens.
  9. In separate bowls, melt the red, green, and white candy melt and place in the squeeze bottles. Then decorate with any patterns you like. Or if you want, dip some of the balls in the colored candy melt instead of the chocolate.
  10. Makes about 50 cake balls.

I did buy pretty boxes to place the cake balls in to give as gifts for my daughter's teachers and a few other people, but I was so busy I forgot to take pictures of the boxes all tied up with a nice ribbon and tag.  But here are what the balls looked like decorated.
Last year I put them in tins to give out as gifts.  Here is what they looked like.  I placed the cake balls in mini cupcake liners to they don't stick together and they look pretty.  There are so many ways to decorate the cake balls and many different varieties of cake mixes and frosting to use.

       
The best part of the recipe is that it can be done in stages.  One night I bake the cake.  Another night I crumble and mix with the frosting and make the balls.  I freeze them until I have the time to finish.  I had them in there for a week and no worries.  I think I will make some again for Valentine's day.

Gingerbread House

Hold on...let me catch my breath.  With Christmas around the corner, I have been doing nothing, but running around trying to get things done.  Shopping for gifts, wrapping gifts, taking pics of the kids for Xmas cards, sending out Xmas cards, going to my daughter's Xmas concert at school, baking goodies for my daughter's Xmas party, going to my mom's to celebrate Xmas....phew...and I am not even done yet.  But I thought I'd take a break to post a little fun project for kids (ok, for parents too).  My mom found these Limited Edition Gingerbread Graham Crackers.  She gave me a pack to make a mini Gingerbread house for my daughter.


How cute!  I have never made a Gingerbread house, perhaps next year I will make one from scratch with the two kids.  For now this is perfect. Quick and easy.  Just how I like it.  I already had some cookie icing on hand and some mini marshmallows and mini M&M's.  Let the creativity begin.


I set to work cutting the pieces and gluing them together to form the basic house shape.  The cookie icing worked great.  It hardens up quite well.  There is a recipe on the Honey Maid box to make your own icing if you want.


My husband did not approve of my building skills and therefore took over the project.  I think he just wanted to have some fun too.


We did of course have to taste test the broken pieces.  Not bad, a very light flavor of gingerbread mixed with graham.  Mmmmm.  Great with a cup of coffee!


Hubby also decorated the house.  My daughter just picked out the color of M&M's she wanted.  The mini marshmallows were used as roof shingles.


My daughter requested a wreath for the door, so we had some Smarties in the pantry.  A green Smartie and a red M&M did the trick.  Looks fabulous, thanks honey.  He did a great job!


We didn't feel to let the Gingerbread house go stale, so we decided to eat it right away.  My daughter took the first couple of bites.  It was quite yummy!   There was also a recipe on the box to make Gingerbread loaves.  I will have to try those next time, if I can find another box of these.




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Donuts w/ Peanut Butter Glaze


Whew!  It's been crazy busy in this neck of the woods these past couple of weeks.  Between trying to do some Christmas shopping, celebrating Thanksgiving twice, decorating for Christmas, packing for vacation, going on vacation, unpacking from vacation, doing some more Christmas shopping and taking pictures of the kids for our Christmas cards, I have not had much time to sit.  So now that I have a little time, I wanted to post another donut recipe I made before all the hoopla took place.  Averie from http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/ said I should try her donut recipes, so I chose to try the Peanut Butter Chocolate ones.  I love chocolate and peanut butter together.  These little gems satisfy my craving without feeling guilty.  They are so light and fluffy, they don't feel like a brick on your stomach like regular fried donuts.  I am really getting some use out of my babycakes machine.


Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Donuts
by loves veggies and yoga

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk ( I didn't have any, so used reg. milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. In a small bowl, soften/melt the butter and peanut butter in the microwave, about 15- 30 seconds. Stir.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Add the butter/peanut butter mixture and stir together until well blended.
  4. Fill each cooking reservoir with about 2 tbsp of batter.
  5. Bake 2-4 minutes or until toothpick inserted in donut comes out clean. Makes about 12 mini donuts.   

     
Peanut Butter Glaze
by loves veggies and yoga

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix the melted butter and peanut butter. Then add the powdered sugar and vanilla.
  2. Slowly add the water or milk, one teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.


For some reason I am having trouble getting the glaze to adhere to the donuts, so I end up having to make the recipe a little thincker and put it on as more of a frosting.  I wonder if the machine gives the donuts a slicker finish than if I baked them in the oven?  I guess I will find out when I finally get to buy my pans.  Maybe Santa will bring me some for Christmas. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Lasagna


I am by no means a great cook.  I have had my fair share of mishaps in the kitchen.  I have over- seasoned, under-seasoned, burnt, dried, or completely trashed some meals ( ok, my husband would probably say more than some, but he is no one to talk, since he has had mishaps too).  But once in a blue moon I do get it right and come out with something delicious.  I decided to make lasagna the other night and really took my time to get it right and make it flavorful.  No one likes bland lasagna. And my husband is pretty picky about his lasagna.  So this is what I came up with:

(I forgot to put eggs and butter in the picture.  I seem to be on a role of forgetting things lately.  That's what happens with 2 little ones running around the kitchen, while I am cooking.  Oh well, as long as I don't forget to put them in the recipe.)


My Lasagna
Ingredients
  • 1 box (9oz) Barilla lasagne (no-boil kind)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 Italian sausages
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan/romano grated cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced baby portabello mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups (16 oz) mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 jars marinara sauce
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Take casings off the 3 sausages by cutting a slit at the top and squeezing out the insides into a pan. Crumble them up with the ground beef and cook until brown. Then drain and set aside.
  3. In another pan place 1/2 tbsp butter and the sliced mushrooms, cook on medium/high until soft and set aside.
  4. Use same pan add the other 1/2 tbsp butter and the diced onion. Cook on medium/high until soft and golden brown.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, then stir in the ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella, and the parmesan/romano cheese. Then add the onion, all the dried spices and the garlic powder. Mix until all is well blended.
  6. Then it's time to start layering. First I lined my 13 x 9 pan with Reynolds' Non-Stick Pan Lining Paper. Then spread 1 cup sauce on bottom.
  7. Layer 4 uncooked pasta sheets, 1/3 cup ricotta mixture, half browned meat, 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup sauce.
  8. Layer 4 uncooked pasta sheets, 1/3 cup ricotta mixture, cooked mushrooms, 1 1/2 cups sauce.
  9. Layer 4 uncooked pasta sheets, the remaining ricotta mixture and browned meat, and 1 cup sauce.
  10. Layer 4 uncooked pasta sheets, the remaining sauce, and 1 cup mozzarella.
  11. Bake covered with foil until bubbly, about 50-60 minutes. Then uncover and continue cooking until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. (I leave mine uncovered, I like the top crunchy)
  12. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Then cut and serve. Makes about 12 servings.

Carmelized onions add so much flavor to recipes.  And they are so easy to cook.


I love mushrooms and so do my husband and daughter so we use them a lot in recipes.


I had a coupon for this pan liner and wanted to try it out.  I hate scraping dried lasagna. 


I don't put a foil on top when I bake the lasagna, but if you like your cheese nice and soft go right ahead and foil it.


Otherwise it turns out like this, which is the way I like it.  By the way, the liner worked great.  Saved a lot of time in the clean up.  Hubby really enjoyed this lasagna, so this recipe is a keeper.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Apple Cider Mini Donuts with Maple Glaze


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  Since I do not have to cook the turkey dinner it's time to use my babycakes machine again. It's so easy and fun.  I wanted to try another one of Aimee's recipes at http://www.shugarysweets.com/ .  The Apple Cider Donuts sounded so yummy.  Of course I replaced 1/4 cup of sugar for 1/4 cup of my dad's maple syrup (forgot to put in picture, oops).  Apple and maple syrup, what could be better?


Apple Cider Mini Donuts
adapted from Shugary Sweets

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt

Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add maple syrup, eggs, apple cider, apple sauce, and vanilla. Using a mixer on medium speed, blend until smooth.
  2. Fill each cooking reservoir with about 2 tbsp of batter.
  3. Bake 2-4 minutes or until toothpick inserted in donut comes out clean. Makes about 24-28 donuts.    

Mmmm...can you smell them?  I used a different glaze then Aimee.  I made a Maple Glaze to enhance the maple flavor I put in the mini donuts.     

Maple Glaze
by The Sweet Chick

Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 - 4 tbsp pure maple syrup

Cooking Directions
  1. Blend together sugar and syrup. Add more maple syrup to make a glaze consistency.
  2. Dip donuts in glaze and place on wire rack to allow glaze to set up.

I added sprinkles to some of them for the kids.  The donuts were delish!  I didn't hear any complaints.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chocolate Mini Donuts with Chocolate Glaze



I was so excited.  I have been wanting to make mini donuts for some time.  Last week I saw the mini pans at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but I didn't buy them because I thought I could get a better deal elsewhere.  I then proceeded to spend my week going to every craft store looking for the Wilton mini donut pan.  No luck.  OK, so I went back to Bed, Bath, and Beyond over the weekend to pick one up.  They were now sold out.  Arg!  I was not a happy camper. 


They did however have one left of the babycakes donut maker, so I said what the heck and took it home.  I tried Aimee's Chocolate Donut recipe from http://www.shugarysweets.com/.

Chocolate Mini Donuts
 By Shugary Sweets

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder (oops forgot to put in the picture)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add milk, eggs, vanilla and butter. Using a mixer on medium speed, blend until smooth.
  2. Fill each cooking reservoir with about 2 tbsp of batter.
  3. Bake 2-4 minutes or until toothpick inserted in donut comes out clean. Makes about 24-28 donuts.          


Chocolate Glaze

adapted from babycakes

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Cooking Directions
  1. Whisk all ingredients together adding more cream if necessary for glaze consistency.
  2. Dip donuts halfway in glaze, place on wire rack and allow glaze to set.
  3. Add sprinkles.

I did end up using a different glaze than Aimee for the donuts.  I really like how they came out.  The donuts were light and fluffy and not too sweet.  I used dark cocoa for the glaze , so it gave it a nice finish.  The babycakes machine was easy to use and easy to clean.  The donuts really only took 2 minutes to bake.  I still want to get the pans in the future, so I can make more at a time.  And I have more donut recipes to try. 



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sweet Finds


I was at T. J. Maxx this weekend and found some cute stuff.  First were these adorable sprinkles.  I think I am going to use them for my holiday cake balls that I am going to make for my daughter's teacher.


Then I found this vanilla.  Someone on Instagram had posted it and said it was good, so I have to try it.  The original price was $20, but T. J. Maxx had it for $12.99.


Of course my daughter found something for herself too.  They had this cute set of an apron, baker's hat, dishcloth, cookie cutter and wooden spoon with a cupcake motif on it.  A great gift for the little baker in your life.  It was only $7.99.  I love T. J. Maxx, they always have great stuff at great prices.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Mini Brownie Cups with Salted Caramel Frosting


This past weekend I was looking for something to do with all this leftover Halloween candy we have laying around.  We didn't get a lot of trick-or-treaters due to the fact our Halloween had to be postponed a week.  As I mentioned before, we had a freak snowstorm pass on through our state which led to tree branches being too heavy with leaves and snow, breaking off and taking power lines down with them.  No power = no Halloween.  Thank goodness our neighborhood agreed to do it the following Saturday so the children wouldn't miss out.  However, not all the kids came out.  So that left me with a lot of goodies.  I could eat them all by myself, but that wouldn't end well.  So instead I scoured the cupboards to get some ideas.


I found a box of brownies, a lot of Milky Way bars and a recipe for Salted Caramel Frosting that I have been wanting to try.  The plan was set.  I took out my mini cupcake pan and set to work.


First I chopped up all those pesky little Milky Way bars that keep calling my name.  Then I made the brownie mix according to the directions on the package, except instead of putting the mix in a pan, I sprayed my mini cupcake pan with some Pam and poured in the brownie mix.


I took the bits of Milky Way bars and put a piece in each brownie cup.  You want to push them all the way in till they are covered.   I didn't and some kinda popped out in the bakng process.  I baked the brownie cups for 10-15min.  When done I let them cool off.


They looked good just as they were, but I can never leave well enough alone.  So I took out the recipe for Salted Caramel Frosting and got back to work.  First thing was to make the salted caramel.  It's just sugar with a little bit of water.  Who woulda thunk it? It actually wasn't that difficult to make.



I only messed up a little bit when I went to add the cream and added it to quickly.  It made the sugar clump up a little.  But I just took the clumps out.  Shhh.  Don't tell anyone.  It still tasted great.  Yay! My first caramel.



Salted Caramel Frosting
By

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes.
  3. Combine butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated.
  4. Turn mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add caramel. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until stiff, about 45 minutes, before using.


Time for a taste test.  Mmmm.  That was good.  Before I even had a chance to post this, I was looking at Amanda's post at http://www.kevinandamanda.com/ and it looks like she had the same idea over the weekend.  Except she made regular sized chocolate chip cups with Babe Ruth bars, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting.  How funny is that.  Great minds think alike.  I will have to try her recipe now.



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