Sunday, January 3, 2016

King Arthur "Back of the Bag" Oat Flour Bread Recipe

This recipe did not disappoint!  I love to make homemade bread.... and it's always nice to have a simple, go to recipe, that you can rely on every time.  This one is delicious, with a hint of sweetness, and a nice chew.  I highly recommend it if you're looking for a simple, yet tasty, bread recipe.  Here's the link to the original, King Arthur, recipe King Arthur "Back of the Bag" Bread Recipe .

I really did not alter anything about this recipe. I do, however, weigh my ingredients when I bake, so here is the recipe with weighted measurements, if you prefer to use a scale.  

  • 15 ounces of All Purpose Flour
  • 3.20 oz of Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 oz melted butter
  • 0.3 oz salt
  • 2.4 oz honey
  • 0.25 oz active dry yeast (one packet)
  • 10 oz lukewarm milk

The only other changes really aren't  changes at all, as much as a clarification.  I heated the milk for one minute in the microwave, stirred, then added the yeast, honey, and butter (which I melted).  I added the wet ingredients to the dry, kneaded in my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook for about 5 minutes, and proceeded per the recipe after that.

Happy Baking and Happy 2016!!!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Boob Voyage! The Story Behind The Cake

I have been asked to make a LOT of interesting cakes... 3-D cakes of dogs, owls, fire hydrants, etc.  Beautiful cakes with an elegant theme for a variety of celebrations.... birthday cakes from the most simple to the most elaborate... But one of my latest cake orders is, by far, one of my favorites... EVER....

I received a message from a lady who had hosted a baby shower for a friend and I had made the cookies and cupcakes. She thought they were awfully cute and delicious and wanted to inquire about a special cake for herself.  Her name was Erin and that's all I really knew about her.   At the time she initially contacted me, my schedule was unusually hectic and I was in "survive the day" mode most of the time.  Despite my hectic schedule, me missing her first message, and then responding late to the one I did see, she was super nice, laid back, and very forgiving of my somewhat frenetic energy at that time.

So when I finally was able to chat with Erin, I learned that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Specifically, inflammatory breast cancer, which is a quicker, less common variant that tries to attach to the skin.  Erin told me she had just completed her final round of chemotherapy.  She was planning a small gathering/party.   That's something to celebrate, right?  Your final round of chemo?    I think I would be ecstatic and maybe want to have a small gathering with friends to acknowledge the milestone.  But that was not what she wanted the cake for.

You see, after her chemo, the next step in her journey was a double mastectomy.  We hear those words all the time and receive them in stride like they're no big deal.  But when you're speaking with someone about HER upcoming double mastectomy, it takes on a whole new feeling.  It's "real".... I mean, it's really "real".  But Erin had such a positive attitude about it all and made it really easy to talk about.  I mean... seriously.  Her tone and attitude were nothing but joyful and "glass half full" all the way.  I'm sure she had her bad days (who wouldn't) but she seemed determined to look at every aspect of her situation as positively as she could.  I didn't know her, but I surely did admire her.

Anyhow, as you can imagine, the topic of "double mastectomy surgery" is probably difficult to talk about with your friends and family.  I mean, really, what does one say in an effort to be supportive?  She wanted to have a party with her friends and family and make it "okay" for everyone to talk about.  It was the next, and necessary, step in her journey of healing and recovery.

Her idea was to have a "Boob Voyage" party with a cake or cupcakes that exemplified the theme in a positive, fun, and whimsical way.  She wanted people to smile, relax, and know it was okay to talk about.  I thought it was brilliant.

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly?) when I searched "boob voyage cake" and "images" I actually got a lot of cakes.  But they were all the same... some sort of "boob set" either in a bikini top, bra, or full-on naked boobs.  But nothing that really captured the theme or essence of the celebration.  But Erin and I collaborated until we thought we had come up with the perfect cake.... and I think we nailed it!

"Boob Voyage" and "Anchors Away" Cake!

 We thought the "Anchors Away" sort of cemented the theme of the "Boob Voyage" party.

I am so proud and honored to have been a part of such a positive gathering.   I have many friends who have fought and won, are fighting, or who lost their battle with breast cancer.  It's insidious and not particular at all about who it chooses to attack.  I am always amazed at how these women face the battle head on, and with such dignity and grace.  Erin is certainly no exception.

I hope I am fortunate enough to keep up with Erin and her journey.  She is brave and strong, and such an excellent example of being a warrior with grace.  I am so grateful to have been a small piece in her amazing journey.

Erin With Her Cake

Erin's friends and family at her Boob Voyage celebration.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Snowball Cookie Bites (aka Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, etc.)

Snowball Cookie Bites

Every family has dishes that their holiday meal would not be the same without.  Whether it's your grandma's ambrosia salad, or your mother's sweet potato casserole, let's face it; we all have some pretty specific expectations when it comes to holiday meals.  In my family, our traditional holiday meal consists of turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, Le Sueur English peas (yes... it has to be Le Sueurs), and brown and serve rolls (you know... the ones with the lines on top that you smear butter on top and bake for about ten minutes).  And we absolutely cannot forget the cranberry sauce... the lovely, jiggly, burgundy bliss that comes in a can.  This has been, without fail, our holiday meal for as long as I can remember.  It also has served as our holiday meal for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  Apparently, variety was not the spice of life at our house.

This is what pretty much every holiday plate looked like at our house growing up.  This one doesn't have the Le Sueur peas because it's my plate and I don't care for English peas.... ;)

It took me a good, long while to learn as an adult that everyone doesn't have the same "traditional" holiday dinner.  Imagine my surprise the first time I attended a Thanksgiving dinner and there was no cornbread dressing??  I am still not sure what that gummy, grayish-brown concoction someone tried to pass off as dressing was, but I can assure you it was not like any "dressing" I had ever had.   I have to admit, it took me a few years to embrace something different.  After a while, I simply began to look forward to good food with good company.

Which now brings me to the traditional desserts in our family.  This was an area where a bit of latitude was allowed.  Don't get me wrong... the list of "acceptable" desserts remained the same throughout the years, we just did not have every one of them every year.  So our list included German chocolate cake, pecan pie, pumpkin pie (although, surprisingly, not that often), Hello Dollies (a delightful bar made with graham crackers, chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk), and snowball cookies.  In a surprising turn of events, chocolate pie and coconut cream pies were added to the list of acceptable desserts a few years ago.  I think the only reason these made the list is because I discovered recipes for both that everyone just LOVED... any excuse to make either or both of these pies was good enough for the family.

Specifically, today, I would like to discuss the "Snowball Cookies".  You've had them.... I'm certain of it (and if not, please, please, please make some soon because they are so delightfully scrumptious). When my mom made these cookies, she rolled them into balls about the size of walnuts.  And, as my mother did with most everything, she baked them until they were pretty brown.  Both she and my dad seem to prefer things a little more on the "well done" side.  I find that just "done" works fine for me!

Anyhow... right out of the oven they were coated with powdered sugar until they resembled snowballs (hence, our name for them).  They were delightfully buttery, flaky, nutty, and coated with powdered sugar that managed to find its way on your face, down your shirt, and all over your fingers.  But it was such a delicious mess.

Over the years I made this recipe my own and adopted the philosophy that these cookies needed to be small enough so that I could pop one in my mouth and have it be the perfect bite...  This meant painstaking, tedious rolling of cookie dough into tiny little balls.  It was definitely worth the effort (in my humble opinion) but, not surprisingly, I didn't make these as often, nor did I make as many as I might have were they not such a pain.  Which now brings me to my revelation of the day....

Who on earth says these cookies have to be round??? Just because my family calls them "snowball" cookies doesn't require that they be round, does it?  Of course not.... So... here is what I came up with... Perfect, bite sized snowball cookie bites.... and of course, since they're so tiny, you can eat a lot more without feeling guilty (or at least, not too guilty!).

Here's the recipe:

Snowball Cookie Bites 

8 ounces softened, unsweetened butter (2 sticks)
2 ounces powdered sugar (roughly 4 TBSP)
4 ounces toasted pecans, ground fine in a food processor (1 cup)
10 ounces all purpose flour (2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar until well blended and very light.  Add salt and vanilla and mix well.  Add the pecans and finish by adding the flour.  Mix until blended and you have a consistent, soft dough.

Next, I used the guide strips that came with my cake ball roller.  If you don't have guides, that's okay.  Pat your dough onto wax paper into a rectangle roughly 7" x  6".  You are looking for a thickness of abut 1/2" to 3/4".  Really, it doesn't matter.  You can make whatever size you prefer.  The most important thing is that your cookies are all relatively the same size so that they bake evenly and are done at the same time.

These are the guides from the my cake ball roller.  They aren't absolutely necessary, but it sure made the job easier!

Pat the dough out with your hands until you have the desired size/shape.  use a bit of flour if the dough is too sticky.

I used a fondant smoother to get them as perfectly flat as I could.  Again, not necessary, but it did make it easier.

These are roughly 3/4" thick.  I really liked the size and taste of the final cookie so this worked well for me.
Next, refrigerate the dough for up to an hour.  It's not absolutely necessary, but you will get cleaner cuts and have an easier  time working with the cookie bites.  Remove the guides (if you used them) prior to cutting the cookies.  I used a ruler as a guide and cut the dough into 1/2" squares.''

Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 325 degrees!
Remove the guides if you used them

I cut 1/2" squares using a sharp knife (not a serrated edge)

Next, line them up on a parchment lined cookie sheet at least an inch apart.  They don't really spread, but they do "puff up" a bit.

I got 110 cookies on one cookie sheet!

That's my pinkie finger... see how tiny they are?
Bake at 325 for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking.  They should come out looking something like this:

They should be slightly golden brown and smell fabulous!
While the cookies are still warm, put them in a bowl of sifted powdered sugar.  Toss them until they are completely coated.  Shake off the excess sugar and put on a plate.  They are somewhat delicate so handle them with care.  You could use a slotted a spoon for this step, but I find that our two best tools, our hands, work best for this task.

Toss gently by hand with powdered sugar until fulling coated.
Pile these bite sized pieces of heaven onto a plate and let the enjoyment begin!

Yummmmm.... Snowball Cookie Bites!
They even make great gift for teachers, co-workers, or the hostess at the next party you attend.  

HAPPY BAKING... AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  May 2015 be your best year yet...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cookie Decorating Classes are Here!

Edge Desserts is offering a Valentine Cookie Decorating Class in the Austin area.  Learn to make these beautiful cookies and have fun while doing it.  Cost is $45 per person.  Class is  approximately 3 hours and each student will leave with 6 decorated cookies.

What's Included

  • Recipe for a delicious and simple sugar cookie that tastes great and holds its shape too
  • Demonstration in mixing the dough; rolling and cutting out the cookies
  • Tips for baking the cookies
  • Recipe for royal icing
  • Demonstration in mixing, tinting and storing the icing
  • Instruction and demonstration for different icing consistencies for various techniques
  • Instruction and assistance  for a variety of cookie decorating techniques
  • Each student will leave with 6 cookies they decorated themselves. 
  • This is a hands-on class. Space is limited.
Call, email or send us a message on FB to book your spot.

Happy Baking!


Edge Desserts

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sweetheart Cakes Are Back!

 Order Your Valentine Treats Today

Back by popular demand, Edge Desserts is offering our Sweetheart Cakes once again.

What better way to show that special someone just how special they are.
These personal sized heart shaped cuties are perfect to share with that 
certain someone.  Three decadent flavors to choose from and
each only $25….

  • Carmel-Pecan Chocolate Decadence: Rich, chocolate cake filled with caramel sauce and toasted pecans.  Topped with caramel Swiss buttercream…. Creamy, rich and decadent.

  • Magnolia Strawberries & Cream:  Magnolia vanilla cake filled with strawberry Swiss buttercream and iced with our special buttercream blend.  It’s like strawberry shortcake elevated to a whole new level.

  • Chocolate Ganache & Raspberry Indulgence:  Rich, chocolate cake filled with raspberry filling, topped with a semi-sweet ganache and finished with a single rose made from our blended buttercream.  Perfect indulgence for the ultimate chocolate lover.

Each cake is wrapped with a bow and a special message  you can customize to your valentine...

 But Wait!  There's More... 

For the die-hard chocolate lover... you can't go wrong with these.  Triple Chocolate Espresso Walnut Cookies - heart shaped for Valentines Day Only...  $20/dozen or $10/half-dozen.... 

It's not really fair to call this a "cookie"... decadently rich and chocolaty with toasted walnuts and a hint of espresso... topped with a dark chocolate covered espresso bean.... oh my....

Ordering is simple!  Just call or email and 
reserve your cake today:)       512-565-4965
(Austin & surrounding areas only)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Random Things From My Dad - and when did my parents get old?

This will be short... I think... Haven't posted anything in a while, and I have been crazy busy.  This holiday season has been the most stressful I can recall in a number of years.  I'm stretched just as thin as I think I possibly can be... physically, financially, and even spiritually.  I am worn and tired... It is December 20th and I have not purchased a single Christmas gift... Bills are piling up and my energy and determination are waning... I did manage to get a few bucks to put in the bank so tomorrow bills will be paid... still have to work out Christmas gifts for the kids though.

On top of all of this, my parents have been driving me crazy about Christmas... when are we coming over?... when are we going to do "our" Christmas?... my mom has called me countless times pushing the issue and just about driving me to my breaking point.  All I can think about is what I absolutely HAVE to do... TODAY!  I can't possibly wrap my head around tomorrow, much less next week.  Why on earth does she keep calling and pushing for the details of a Christmas I've done basically nothing, thus far, to prepare for?

The requests and demands have been overwhelming and I feel like I'm going to explode... or implode... something has got to give.  My dad even asked me if I could sign a Christmas card for him with sign language... he literally wanted me to draw  the hand signs for sign language for the signature on his card.  I did not even know how to respond... he's asked about it more than one.  I don't know how to make it more clear that I do not possess the artistic skills it would take to accurately, and intricately, draw tiny pictures of hands in various and contorted positions.  And, once again, I feel like I've let him down.

To add to the crazy request of drawing sign language, and my mom's incessant inquiries about "our" Christmas, she even had the nerve to suggest that we have "our" Christmas on Monday... that's two days early and I haven't purchased or wrapped a single gift!  What on earth is going through her mind.  She calls frequently and chatters about this and that while  I'm trying my best to trudge through the absolute, "must do" items on my never ending "to do list".

Then she said something odd... she said "I know I've added to your stress about Christmas and I'm sorry.  I will make you this promise... I promise I won't do it next year".....

I left those words sink in... "I promise I won't do it next year"........

My parents are 79 and 80 years old... it dawned on me, rather suddenly, that there is the real possibility one or both of them could not be here for Christmas next year.  So many of my friends on Facebook have posted lately about missing their parents this holiday season... their parents who have either  recently, or not so recently, passed away.

I don't know when, exactly, my parents got old.  But they did... they shuffle slowly from room to room... repeat things (again and again)... argue about the mundane, unnecessary things.  They call me, often, with conversations that begin with "I know you're really busy, but....."  I am asked to come over at the drop of a hat to fix their DVR, change a light bulb or battery, or move the refrigerator away from the wall so they can unplug it (don't ask)....

I get frustrated and annoyed... but today, it occurred to me that while I'm just now catching on to the fact that they are in their twilight years, they've been aware of it for some time...  Is it lonely or scary to be at that point in your life?  I don't know.  I don't know what they reflect on, what they regret, or what they wouldn't change for anything.  I do know that they are reaching out... in the ways they know how... for contact... for interaction with me and with my kids...

I'm still stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted.  That hasn't changed.  But I sincerely hope and pray that I will find the patience and understanding to be there for them with a joyful heart and gratitude simply for them... they are here today.  That is all we are guaranteed.  Tomorrow is anybody's guess.

So while I'm weary, sleep deprived, and emotionally bare... I am going to bed.  I am going to sleep now.  I hope, and I pray that I wake tomorrow with a new found appreciation and abundant gratitude for my mom and dad.    I don't know if we will have Christmas with them next year, so I am going to do all that I can to enjoy this Christmas with them...

I would encourage you all to reflect on the things you may be taking for granted... even the things that are currently driving you mad....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Random Things From My Dad - HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY DADDY!

This post is a little late in coming, but then again, so are most things in my life right now.  I haven't written anything in a while, as I find myself slowing rising from a self-induced hibernation of sorts.  It's hard to articulate exactly, but I think I'll refer to it as "PTDD" - Post Traumatic Divorce Disorder.  That's probably a separate blog in itself, so I will just leave it as... "I'm Back!!!!!"

So what better way to celebrate my return to blogging than a new "Random" post about my dad.  Although this one isn't so much about what he's done for us (which is a lot).  Instead, it's about something we did for him.

 August 31st was my dad's 80th birthday.  That's a pretty big milestone and it made me ponder and reflect a little more deeply about the imperfect, flawed and yet tender relationship I have with my dad.  He yells... a lot... but he's also generous to a fault.  He really would do anything for his kids and family that he is capable of doing...

I find myself thinking about my grandfather a lot - my father's father.  He died when he was 81... I was 24 and my dad was 56.  He passed away Christmas morning of 1989.  It was by far the most bittersweet Christmas ever... even now.

So now my dad is 80 and I'm 47.  How much time do we really have left together?  No one knows, but our time is definitely limited.  He is still active and goes somewhere almost everyday.  He shops a lot (as evidenced by these posts!).... and he tinkers in his garden and with the yard.  But the years are showing... he stands a little less tall than he did last year, as his shoulders being their downward slope... his steps are more like shuffles as he makes his way from room to room.  He fell a few months ago in a neighbor's yard because he just lost his footing.  Just a few scrapes and bruises, but an ominous reminder none-the-less that he's not getting any younger.

So as I pondered all of these things as his 80th birthday drew near, I felt like we needed to do something special.  Only I had no idea what that might be.  We don't have a lot of money to buy anything extravagant.  Truth be told, however, even if we did have a lot of money I don't think there's anything we could have gotten him that he would have really wanted.  I thought, and thought, and thought... and then we came up with something special... something from me and the kids.

We put together a stack of note cards that listed 80 things we loved about "Papa".... Coming up with 80 things was pretty challenging, and some of them were a little silly, but we did it!  The kids decorated each card with markers and then we taped them all together to make a chain.  We put together a video and showed him the video as we presented the cards.  B E S T  B I R T H D A Y  G I F T  I D E A  E V E R.....  Here's the video:

I think my favorites are "most stylish" and "best stocked snack pantry".... but there are a lot of good ones in there...  It was fun to put together and a really good exercise for my kids to really thing about, and appreciate, everything that Papa does for us.  I have to remind them sometimes, that he loves us every bit as loud as he yells... and he truly does.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!