Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stuff Stace Likes - Angry Birds

Last week the hubs and I received two new iPhone 4's in the mail and we've been downloading apps ever since.  We've been trying to get only free ones, but decided to "splurge" on Angry Birds.  That 99 cents was well worth it!  I am so addicted to this game.  The object is to slingshot your birds into various structures that the evil green piggies are hiding in.  You have to kill all of the pigs to win.  Each bird has a special power and also makes silly bird noises along the way.  If you have an iPhone and don't have it, get it now!  Thanks to our friend Billy for introducing me to it.  Billy, thanks to you, I've wasted countless hours of my life away on this thing...and many more to come.

Here are some screenshots of Angry Birds in all its glory.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chocolate Bridal Shower Cake

For my latest cake, I was excited to work with chocolate fondant for the first time.  It is a bit different than regular fondant.  The first thing you notice is the amazing chocolate smell that wafts out when you open the container.  The taste is chocolatey too...well, duh!  ;)  I found it a little more difficult to work with than regular fondant.  It had more moisture in it, which made it softer and more likely to tear.  After a bit of working, I was able to get it to lay on the cake topper for this cupcake stand.  This cake also gave me some experience with piping swirls.  It's not as easy as it looks!  I'm going to need to practice my piping a lot more, but I was happy with the way it turned out.  Here are the finished cake/cupcake pics.  The cake and cupcakes were chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate ganache.  Pretty much one of my favorite flavor combos EVER!  

Spring Flowers Birthday Cake

I've been wanting to try out some more realistic gum paste flowers and had the opportunity to try some out on my friend Cristina's birthday cake.  Cristina loves bulb flowers and wild flowers, so I decided to try my hand at some white daisies, gerbera daisies, daffodils, and tulips.  I was pretty happy with all of the flowers except the tulips..I'll have to find another method for those.  The insides of this cake were pretty yummy - vanilla cake with lemon buttercream and raspberry filling.  Then the cake was iced in vanilla buttercream and decorated with my flowers.  It was pretty tasty and verrrrry sweet.  I think I need to throw a stick of salted butter in my buttercream to tone down the sweetness a bit.  There are more cakes in the future, so I will try that next time!  :)

And finally a nice guts shot!

My Little Pony Cake

I have to admit, I was a little scared to make this cake...more specifically the pony that went on the cake.  Sure, I could've used a My Little Pony toy and slapped it on top of the cake, but that would have been a failure in my eyes.  Plus, My Little Ponies have hair, and hair on a cake just freaks me out.  So I decided to make one myself and hope that it didn't turn out looking like My Little Puppy or My Little Piggy.  ;)  The body of the pony was made of modeling chocolate.  This was my first time using it and I loved it!  Modeling chocolate is basically melted chocolate and corn syrup mixed together and then allowed to harden.  After it hardens, you knead it into a dough.  One of the things that I like about modeling chocolate is that you can blend together seams and lines unlike fondant or gumpaste.  The heat of your hands causes it to become very soft, so you do have to work quickly.  Overall, it is some pretty darn good stuff and I plan to use it again!

And now for some pony shots...

Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies

This is actually last week's recipe, but I'm just now getting around to typing this up...
I got this recipe off of another blog.  The writer was going on and on about how amazing they are and I got sucked in by all the hype.  They are indeed good, but not the mind-blowing experience that I was expecting.  Sometimes I think that some food blog writers might sensationalize a little just to make their blog seem all amazing and sparkly.  That's just my take on it.  At any rate, here's the recipe.  It's a good cookie for summer, you know, since it's fruity.

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one large lime, finely minced
3 tbsp lime juice
½ cup unsweetened toasted coconut
1/2 cup sugar for rolling cookies
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy.
4. Beat in egg, vanilla extract, lime juice and lime zest.
5. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients and toasted coconut.
6. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.
8. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

And the finished product!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I used to like squirrels...

...until this happened...

...and this...

...and this...

...and this...
Get your furry little paws out of my thyme!!!  

Grrr!  I thought that a squirrel wouldn't be able to scale the apartment building and make it up to our second floor balcony...I was wrong.  This little punk appeared on Wednesday and has been back every day since.  Notice how the bird feeder is half empty?  Well, it was full before Wednesday.  I need to get rid of this dude, pronto!  I read that you can put cayenne pepper into the bird seed, so I'm going to try that out.  Until then, the bird feeder will be sitting inside the house. :(

Apartment Shish Kabobs

We live in an apartment and one of the rules of the neighborhood is that we can't have grills.  This is a huge bummer, especially now that Summer is here.  Soooo....this week I decided to simulate a usually grilled food inside under the broiler - shish kabobs!  Here's how you do it...

1 clove garlic, peeled
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
Your favorite kabob meat cut into 1 inch cubes
Your favorite kabob veggies cut into 1 inch cubes

First, grate the garlic clove with a microplane grater into a small bowl.  If you don't have a microplane, you can chop finely.  Then, after dinner, drive directly to the store and buy one.  ;)

Add your olive oil, salt, & pepper to the bowl and stir thoroughly.  You can also get creative here and add herbs, cayenne pepper, balsamic vinegar, lime juice - whatever you like!

Skewer your meat and veggies and then brush the garlic olive oil on all sides.  I kept my chicken and veggie skewers separate because I wanted BBQ sauce on the chicken only.  Once you've brushed the oil on, you can start cooking immediately OR let the skewers marinate in the fridge for an hour for extra yumminess!

Broil in the oven, turning your kabobs until all sides are cooked and starting to get brown.  I brushed BBQ sauce on my chicken about halfway through.  And that's it!  These were yummy and the possibilities are endless.  Try it!