Boxed Cake Upgrade

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Life tip: NEVER try a new recipe before you are going to take it somewhere. Do a trial run because you are bound to learn something about bake time, too much this or that, and maybe that the recipe was an entire flop anyway.

March is the month of birthdays in this family, and my husband’s was March 24th. I needed to make something quick so I resorted to a boxed cake from the grocery. I also got a tub of chocolate frosting, because his favorite is yellow cake with chocolate frosting. [Note: One tub of frosting made 12 cupcakes. The cake mix made 16. If you don’t want to resort to naked cake or using buttercream you whip up at home, buy two tubs if you are going to frost them like I did.] Idk who made up this combo, but I really don’t get it. BUT, he loves it, so I made it.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 2.52.55 PMI wanted these cakes to be semi non box like, so I used a decorating tip 1M. [Wilton brand] I know theres a million tips and names, but compare it to your collection. It looks like this.

My husband’s favorite colors are blue & purple. It’s hard to not make purple girly, so I went with a blue, green, purple sprinkle combo situation. I found this set that had the big dot sprinkles in several colors and threw those in a bowl with some nonperiels of matching colors.

[Tip: I put my tip in the bag and cut it accordingly, and then I put it in a giant glass and fold the extra part of the bag over the edges of the cup. This makes for much easier piping bag filling.] Swoop the frosting on top of your cupcake and put the sprinkles on right after. If you do all the frosting first, your sprinkles will not stick. I don’t have any tutorial for how to swoop frosting, but I’m hopefully going to get my act together and put something out for you to follow.

I hope something I said was helpful in some way and know you aren’t alone box cake makers of America. If I didn’t tell you, you’d never know.

Kisses.

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Cutouts that KEEP THEIR SHAPE

Sugar Cookie Cutouts, BEFORE.

YES. REALLY. Just like those professionals that you see on instagram. [which are not, and never will be me.] I’m just here to hopefully give someone in the world some advice, tips, enjoyment, 5:00PM Tuesday/Thursday reading & whatever knowledge I can find in the world worth sharing. Today’s knowledge is cutout cookies that actually keep their shape. You’ve done it, make some adorable cut out cookie flowers, cats, leaves, dinosaurs & you put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes and they come out as, a large blob, small something, and a medium oh no. WELL, I’m here to save the day. [hopefully]. & these taste good, [super bonus]. [left, raw dough – real shapes]

Sugar Cookie Cutout Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter [room temp]
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Directions: 

**Preheat oven to 360 Degrees. [yes. 360. not a typo]

— Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs & extracts. Then, add your salt & gradually mix in your flour. Take your bowl of dough & wrap in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Roll out [to roughly 1/4 ” thick]& cut out. 
** If you roll your cookies out in between parchment paper, [instead of on the counter with flour] this will keep the cookie’s from getting too dry. Lay your parchment on the counter, then your dough, and another layer of parchment paper between your dough and roller. A parchment sandwich if you will. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes. THEY WILL NOT BE GOLDEN BROWN. [see photo example below] You might want to conduct a test to see how many minutes your oven needs. Mine needs 9 1/2 minutes. You won’t see the light brown edges like typical cookies, so make sure they are baked, but not overdone. 

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Let the cookies cool, and you can frost them with buttercream flowers, royal icing, or whatever your little heart desires. The most exciting part is that they will keep whatever cutout shape you make them. It took me [& my mom] about 4 recipes and trial and error to find this gem of a cutout, so… your welcome. Kisses.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy [cheat on your diet] day! I hope you eat all the heart shaped things your [actual] heart desires. So, Valentine’s day for me is nothing special because my husband works noon to midnight… although I am making strawberry waffles [cut into hearts] It’s not gonna be the flowers & food I shouldn’t be eating dream it could be. There’s something about a romantic breakfast that isn’t that romantic.

If you’re single, YOU ARE NOT MISSING OUT. It’s just as lonely actually having a Valentine and they aren’t even around. Its not his fault or anything, but it still makes me feel lonely and abandoned. SO. Here I am, with you… my favorite company on earth.

Here’s a fun little DIY you can do for your BFF, your work wife, your spouse, your mom… you get where I’m going here.

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Buy [at your local grocery]:

  • 4 different Valentine’s candies
  • Starbucks 4 pack of frappuccino bottles
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Buy [at your local crafty store]:

  • Valentine Paper [to wrap the box]
  • Valentine Paper [different prints for lids]
  • Solid Red/White/Pink Cardstock
  • Glue stick
  • E6000 [also glue]
  • Heart stickers, beads, rhinestones etc.
  • Cute 1/4″ ribbon [4 kinds if you want each jar different like I did]
  • Glitter

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I’m not going to give too much instruction, because it’s a lot of measuring & cutting.. but I’ll give you a general idea on how to attack this project. ***[If you just want to give the single bottles to 4 different people & not the 4 pack to that special someone, then skip Steps 2, 3, & 4.]

  1. Empty, rip off label, wash & dry coffee bottles. [If you aren’t in the mood for 4 frappes then just put them in a pitcher in the fridge, they’ll stay good a few days]
  2. Cover your box with the Valentine Print Paper.
  3. Cut out 4 hearts & put cute Valentine phrases on them. [one for all sides of the box]
  4. Now, cutting the paper for the outside of the box is super wild & not that fun so I just covered it really well with glue & threw glitter on it.
  5. Trace the lid of the jar for your perfect circle on your solid colored paper.
  6. Trace 4 smaller circles on your Valentine print papers using something around the house [shot glasses make great circles]
  7. Cut 4 small hearts for the lid.
  8. If you found beads or rhinestones you’ll need to use the E6000 glue to put those on.
  9. ASSEMBLE. Glue together your lid circle, smaller circle, hearts, & letters/beads/etc. onto the lid with E6000.
  10. NEXT… which you cannot see pictured here is the paper on the bottle. You’ll measure the space you need and wrap a print or solid paper around where the label used to be. Decorate with your stickers, something similar to the top of the bottles [like circles & hearts], or make your version of conversation hearts & decorate the front of your new label.
  11. Fill your bottles with candy!
  12. Measure your ribbon so it fits around the bottle, you can tie a bow or just a nice knot, but you’ll also want to glue the ribbon with E6000 onto the lid of the bottle.

Good Luck! You can always use this idea and change it to any Holiday theme. Maybe do some nice rainbow, green & gold ones for St. Patrick’s Day! [Lots of] Kisses.

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Started from the bottom, now we’re here.

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It’s funny when you look back in life on things you thought you were so great at. My mom & I have been learning and exploring all things cookies. We have always been bakers and love to make all sorts of treats, but lately [idk if you’ve noticed] there’s been a cutout cookie craze!!! SO, obviously, in true jump on the bandwagon fashion we tried it.

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Here: A lovely example of our “started from the bottom” cookies. Cutouts, yea… but some white frosting and heart sprinkles when you’re 5 come a long way in [plus 20 or so years]  I’m going to be a number that ends in 0 this year, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

If you’re lucky [and you are cause I really like that you actually read my blog] I’ll share the recipe for these delicious little babies soon. [*EDIT See “COOKIES THAT KEEP THIER SHAPE” Feb. 22, 2018] [hopefully before you’ll need to shake your shamrocks]

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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!! [early] I hope your day is filled with love and chocolates and all things you shouldn’t be having on your “new year, new me” 2018 diet. Kisses.

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Soldered Glass Charms

Maybe I never mentioned it [but I probably have] that I have an art degree. I love metal smithing & jewelry. A friend of mine had a piece similar to these that I made years ago [omg years like I’m 60 or something] & she works at a cute little shop near Petoskey, MI. THE NORTH. [which I love] & If you’re local, you can go there & you can buy my stuff. & then I can make more stuff. Exciting, isn’t it? Check out their insta @journeynorth141

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COOL. I’m super awkward when I talk about my own stuff. I have this notion in my head that its never good enough, or cool enough, or like enough. SO. Check it out. Tell me I’m awesome [so maybe I’ll believe it]. Till next time…

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APPLE PIE

APPLE PIE

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Sometimes I don’t want to share a recipe cause it’s like, a family secret or something & then sometimes, I’m like… there are all these people in the world NOT enjoying this recipe… so then I share it. Since Thanksgiving is coming & people traditionally eat pie…. HERE’s my favorite.

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You’re going to need NORTHERN SPIES. They are a late October apple & the best apples for a pie. I get mine at my local orchard, but my mom’s orchard doesn’t grow them – so do your research. THIS MAKES THE PIE. If you ABSOLUTELY cannot find Northern Spies, you can use Cortlands, but its just not the same.

This is a dutch style apple pie.. so you’re going to need a springform pan… typically this type of pan is used for cheesecake.

FIRST you’ll want to peel & cut your apples. I typically use around 7 apples. (8 cups when sliced) More or less depending on size. Slice the pieces as thin as you can. Once you have those babies peeled & sliced you’ll want to add…

For the apples:
1 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cups sugar

mix it up in the bowl so it looks like this:

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NEXT you’ll want to make the bottom pastry of your pie. AKA the crust.

6 tablespoons cold butter cubed
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups flour
5 tablespoons ice water

Mix together until it’s a dough & Roll this sucker out and put it in the bottom of your spring form pan. It should look something like this:
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I’m kind of a garbage roller & can never get it exactly even in all areas, so usually I end up doing the bottom a nice circle, and then putting the sides in by hand – small pieces at a time. Just make sure the thickness is even & there aren’t any holes in your dough & its not a million inches thick in any areas & it’ll be alright.

Now’s a good time to preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

The topping is [the best] and worst part. You really need to have patience for this portion of the pie. This is a crumbly topping and you’ll need a pastry blender… if you don’t have one you can use two butter knives and criss cross them back and fourth in the bowl.

Topping
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
4 oz butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

You’ll want this mixture to look like sand. That is when you know its ready. Keep mixing and mixing until you feel like it was arm day at the gym, and then mix it more. It should look something like this:

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NOW take your sand a little at a time and put it on top of the apples in your springform pan. I like to shake as much of the crumbly [sand] mixture down into the pie as possible. I also like to place my pie over foil on a baking sheet, because sometimes it will bubble out a little and make a mess in your oven. Foil is MUCH easier to clean.

BAKE the pie on 425 degrees for 15 minutes & then [leave the pie in there] turn your oven down and bake it for an additional 45 minutes on 350 degrees. [note that every oven is different] If your oven bakes quickly, you might want to put the 350 degree timer on for 35 minutes and keep checking every few minutes.

After a long wait & a lot of work, you should have a VERY delicious pie. I will be making mine Wednesday before Thanksgiving. If there is any extra, put it in the fridge.

Good luck! Let me know if you try it & love it, or have an AMAZING [family secret] recipe that you’d like to share! Till next time..

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