Strawberries n’ Cream Cake

I’ve got a few things on my wish list.

Like a little shmushy lab puppy that will lick me and follow me everywhere and sleep with me even when I have neglected to shower for a few days.

And I especially wish my parents were of African/Middle Eastern/Mediterranean dissent so that I wouldn’t always feel compelled to skip school, douse myself in baby oil, and lay outside on days that barely top 60 degrees F.

Oh yes, and there are those terrible spammy porn star Twitter accounts. I wish there was some sort of application process that would keep ladies like Fabrina Sassy from joining the Twittersphere and then eventually following me. Such a disappointment to get a notification that you have a new follower, only to realize she has a site called http://www.lickmyinsertbodypart.com

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t judge too harshly. Angela Star could be the next Vivienne of Pretty Woman. These ladies must be on to something. Wear patent leather boots and a blonde wig and you get Richard Gere in a Lotus Esprit happily ever after.  

Juuuusttt kiddding. OBVIOUSLY I would never sell my body.

Although I mighhhht consider it if I could receive payments in puppies, dark tans, and this cake. Go ahead, try to tell me YOU wouldn’t do unforgivable things for this strawberry delight. Mhmmm. Yep, I thought so.

Strawberries N’ Cream Cake Recipe

Strawberry Cake

-2 cups white sugar

-1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin

-1 cup butter, softened

-4 eggs, room temperature

-2 cups flour

-2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

-1 cup whole milk, room temperature

-1 tablespoon vanilla extract

-1/2 cup strawberry purée (1/2 pint fresh strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar)

Directions

1. Cream together butter, sugar, & dry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.

2. Sift together baking powder and flour. Stir into batter alternately with the milk.

3. Blend in vanilla and strawberry purée.

4. Beat egg whites until peaks form. Fold into batter.

5. Grease and flour 2 9-inch pans or 3 8-inch pans. Divide batter evenly between them. Bake cakes at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

-3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened

-3/4 cup butter, softened

-5 cups confectioners sugar

-1 tablespoon vanilla extract

-1/2 tablespoon strawberry flavored gelatin

Directions

1. Cream together cream cheese, butter, and dry gelatin until creamy.

2. Mix in vanilla, then gradually add confectioners’ sugar.

Cake and Frosting adapted from AllRecipes

Lofthouse Sugar Cookies

Let’s talk about my dad.

Big, old, jolly Bill. A child of the 60′s and lover of all things hockey. He talks too much, drinks too much, and can’t keep his hands off my pretty Lofthouse-inspired cookies…

 Yes, let’s talk about these cookies first. I eat them the way kids are supposed to eat broccoli…with my dinner, without complaint, and by the dozen. When I stumbled upon this recipe, I absolutely, one hundo percent knew I had to give it a try.

So on Sunday night, I decided to give it a whirl. When they turned out with absolute perfection, I knew they were blog-post worthy; but before I could even share them with you dears, big old Bill came walking thru the kitchen, excited as ever(like every time he gets homemade dessert) and reached for the rack of perfectly frosted aka phototastic Lofthouse-inspired cookies. Of course I stopped him before he could even lay a finger….don’t you know I would do anything for you?

Pappa Bill was startled. He asked why on earth he couldn’t have at least one of the cookies. As I frosted the remaining cookies, I nonchalantly responded,”Because dad, they’re for my blog.”

Want to know what was then uttered from jolly Bill’s mouth?

“Blog? What’s a blog????”

Mhmmmmm, yes, tis true.

All the hours I’ve spent baking, taking gazillions of pictures, destroying the kitchen with frosting and flour and powdered sugar…..all of it has been completely and utterly lost on poor old Pappa Bill.

He then had to ask my mom a couple questions…

“Well, what does she do with her cookies in her blog? Is she selling her cookies online? Is that what this blogging thing is?”

Yes dad. You are absolutely right. It is because I sell cookies online that I am able to spend money on things like, oh, let’s say that seven dollar car wash I have been avoiding for THREE weeks. You got me.

What makes this story even better is the fact that my dad is generally a very knowledgeable, cultural human being. For example, he saw The Civil Wars in concert SIX months ago (like around the time when most people thought ‘Civil Wars’ only meant internal national conflict). He bought tickets for Cold Play’s sold out concert before I even knew they were coming to town. He reads the Star Tribune every weekend and the Economist every week. My dad knows his stuff. He’s smart, driven, always reading, and always thinking. It is for this reason that moments like this are extra special for me.

My dad and I are very similar and these similarities often cause us to butt heads. But in the last year, a totally new relationship has evolved between us. I see a goodness in him that I once could not see. Now, he is the a man I admire, the man I look to for guidance, and to my own sweet surprise, the man who has my heart this Valentines Day.

Hope you all find love where you least expect it:)

Infinite x’s and o’s

Supersweet Superbowl

Let’s be honest. It’s not about the football. It’s not even about the ads. It’s about the food.

Long ago were the days when people really cared about what team won and what commercial was best. Now the competition rests not among the players or the advertisers but among the fans and more importantly, the finger foods. Maybe I’m speaking from my own personal bias (I’ve never been too gunho about the actual game). Or maybe I am absolutely, one THOUSAND percent correct. You see, party planners and game watchers have been raising the standards for years. Taco dip and burger sliders are no longer adequate for snacks. People want to be wowed. So much so that someone actually felt compelled to make these buffalo chicken wing cupcakes for the big game day. I swear these people make me seem like a Superbowl purist. As much as I love the excitement around the food, you will in no way find me putting any jalapeno poppers on my dessert. For all you other ‘traditionalists’, here are some adorable ideas for decorating your never-having-an-Applebees-ultimate-appetizer-platter-on-top-of-my-cupcake treats:

{via Miss Make}

{via Camille Styles}

{via Bakerella}

{via Mini Baker}

{via Utah Loves Cupcakes}

{via Fancy Flours}

Let the games begin.

Infinite x’s and o’s

Rolo Brownie Bites

Soooooo, this has been a Christmas of many firsts for me.

Okay maybe it’s only one first, but it’s a big BAD first that needs to be discussed. This bad first is otherwise known as our colorful Christmas tree.

Our white christmas tree lights were dying and broken and missing…so Momma Orke decided to get us new lights. When she returned from the store, what did she have in hand? A box of colored lights. COLORED LIGHTS. I mean no offense to any person reading this, but a colorful christmas tree is as homey as a rave in a dingy basement. Yes….you got it, not homey at all.

So twenty-year-old Eme pouted and refused to decorate the tree, which has always been an absolute MUST for me. I literally sat in the kitchen and did not even glance towards the living room for a solid hour.

Maybe it was closer to 45 minutes…okay make it 30. By the time I looked over, the tree was practically decorated and I felt total sadness all over again. So maybe it wasn’t white lights, but it was still a Christmas tree.

And I love Christmas, not for the presents but for the smells, the decorations, the spirit, and the magic. A couple of orange bulbs can’t ruin that (yes, I know..orange bulbs on a Christmas tree!? I am equally perplexed). Still, There will always be another Christmas, another Christmas tree with white lights….oh, AND these brownies, ummmmmm ROCK. (Recipe from Naomi of Bakers Royale.)

Infinite x’s and o’s

An Extra-Sweet Season

A Christmas without cookies? There is no such thing.

1. Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies via The Fromagette

2. Caramel Corn & Cashew Cookies via Bakers Royale

3. Swedish Spritz Cookies via The Daily Dish

4. Baklava via How Sweet It Is

5. Gingerbread Heads via Bakerella

6. Christmas Wreaths via Jennie Menke

7. Hot Cocoa Cookies via Pip&Ebby

Enjoy :)

Infinite x’s and o’s

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

It’s one of those fall days.

One of those amazing fall days where you should absolutely be indulging in everything fall-related.

Like pumpkin-spiced lattes (which I got to wake up to) and afternoon runs and ooey gooey treats that make your insides warm and tingly.

But let’s talk more about that pumpkin latte, which was soo good…that I absolutely had to have two or three…and then I spent my morning in a constant tremor (I don’t usually do caffeine) dreaming about pumpkin-flavored everything. Like pumpkin pie and pumpkin bars and pumpkin-flavored jelly beans, which I bet actually exist.

And since I have to save pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving (yes, that is a rule) and I’m not actually ready to try pumpkin-flavored jelly beans, it was this oldie but goodie Martha Stewart pumpkin swirl brownie recipe that inspired me today. I want to live between those layers of pumpkin and brownie.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

-       2 sticks unsalted butter

-       1 ½ cup brown sugar

-       4 eggs

-       1 tablespoon vanilla extract

-       2/3 unsweetened cocoa powder

-       1 cup all-purpose flour

-       ¼ teaspoon salt

-       ½ teaspoon baking powder

-       ¼ cayenne pepper

-       1 ¼ cup solid-pack pumpkin

-       ¼ vegetable oil

-       1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-       ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

-       ½ cup hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom 9-inch square pan with parchment paper. Butter/grease lining.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
  3. Combine sugar and vanilla in bowl. Lightly whisk eggs and then add to the sugar mixture.
  4. Gently stir everything together
  5. Divide the batter between two bowls (about two cups per bowl).
  6. Stir cocoa powder into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  7. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing with a rubber spatula. Top with half of the pumpkin batter. Repeat with remaining batter to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. (Important to work quickly so batters don’t set, especially the chocolate batter. If needed, feel free to heat up chocolate batter to make it cooperative when spreading in pan).
  8. With a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. If you are a nut lover, sprinkle with hazelnut or your nut of choice.
  9. Bake 30-35 minutes. Do not overbake! Overcooking can ruin the chocolate layer.

The Sweet Dough Recipe

I’ve seen some pretty bizarre things this week.

Like a thousand people riding unicycles around campus, and that girl walking around in a tank top in sub-degree weather. Okay, it was 47 degrees Fahrenheit …but still, it was FORTY SEVEN DEGREES!

I also saw a lady playing her violin for money. She was a great violinist, yet her choice of venue could not have been worse. This older lady decided to play in the middle of the bridge connecting East Bank to West Bank. Between the somber music and the frigid cold water beneath me, I could have sworn I was sitting on the revitalized Titanic. To make matters worse, she didn’t ‘have a single coin in her case. Yet, what could she expect??? She was on a campus, surrounded by students equally as broke as her.

At this point, you would rightfully think I was living with The Ringling Brothers’ Circus. Lions and elephants and homeless men, oh my!

Yes, there was also a homeless man. I saw him while I was driving home. He had a cane but then failed to actually use the cane as he ran towards a car offering him change. He literally burst out in full sprint, probably with as good of form as I have on any given run. So while I commend him for his running abilities, I can’t help but laugh at the total absurdity of faking the need for a cane. What’s the point of an awesome prop if you’re not going to use it?? 

As I was driving home last night, I recapped this series of ridiculous events. Some made me laugh, some kind of bothered me. Then I started thinking of other things that have bothered me lately, and then I thought about the terrible tow-truck driver, which made me think of how equally heartless I’d be if I didn’t share this recipe!

I told you I think too much.

Sweet Dough Bread

-2 cups warm water

-1/2 cup vegetable oil

-2 eggs

-6 cups of flour (roughly)

-1 1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup dry milk

-3 packes yeast

-tad of salt

Directions

1. Mix the dry ingredients (not including flour) and wet ingredients separately; then combine

2. In a standard mixer, using the hook attachment, add flour until the dough comes off the walls of the bowl

2.  Put a towel over the bowl and allow the dough to rise/double in size – this should be done in a warm area and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours. I tend to wait overnight. The bigger the better.

Makes 2 pounds of dough; bake at 325  ~12-15 minutes with filling of choice

Sound like a lot? Wait till you fill it with peanut butter or cherries and almonds and dark chocolate. If it weren’t for the few crumbs left, you won’t even know you made it.

Peanut Butter Twists

My life sort of resembled a movie this week.


You know, one of those movies where everything seems to go completely and utterly wrong until the very last ten minutes, when the greatest of greats triumphs the worst of all evils? Getting a second parking ticket this month, having my car towed, losing all internet connection for five days, bombing a statistics assignment, and writing a grant two days before the deadline sum up the evils of my week.

So what could possibly triumph this atrocious list of terribleness? Well these oooey goooey peanut butter-infused sweet dough twists, of course.

Peanut butter solves all problems.

Spread it between walls of sweet dough and sugar……and what? A car was towed?? I had no idea.

In all seriousness, I really had no idea. I was sort of hoping/assuming the tow-truck man would leave me a note, something like “Dear Rav Owner, we have taken your car. Don’t fret, come find it at this address! Oh, and here is some cash for a cab to get you here.”……wishful thinking, I know.

What I actually found was no Rav, no note, and a Volkswagen in the Rav’s place.

By Friday night, I was ready for a mental vacation. I plopped on the couch, closed my eyes, and let my mind wander. After ten or so minutes, my thoughts led me to my favorite childhood destination, Nelson’s Resort. Nelson’s Resort is located in northern Minnesota along the shores of the Crane Lake. Cabins, without televisions or appliances, are unadorned. The resort is remote and relaxation is equivalent to fishing, swimming, hiking, and basking in the sun.

When I was a girl, my family ventured to this resort every August. As the summer trips trickled by, we became very close with the resort owners and staff. Eventually, it was not unusual for my siblings and I to be in the gardens helping the staff pick fresh vegetables or to be back in the kitchen, watching the chefs prepare fresh meals for the other guests.

One Sunday evening, the owner and her daughter invited us girls in the kitchen to help make a Nelson family specialty. It was this night that I saw/fell in love with a Kitchen Aid Mixer for the first time and it was also this night that I learned the sweet recipe for Peanut Butter Twists.

Five years later, and peanut butter twists still put me at ease.

Every last bite.

P.S. I will be sharing this sweet dough recipe with you soon. I would be heartless, much like the tow-truck driver, if I didn’t.

Peanut Butter Twists – A Norwegian Specialty

-2 pounds of sweet dough

-1 container of peanut butter (28 oz)

-1/4 cup vegetable oil

-1/2 cup sugar

Almond Glaze

-1/2 pound powdered sugar

-1/2 stick butter

-1/2 teaspoon almond extract

-1/8 cup milk

Directions

1. Roll the dough into a large, thin rectangle. Roughly 1/4 inch thick

2. Mix the peanut butter with the oil. Spread on 2/3 of the dough

3. Spread sugar over the entire dough surface – feel free to adjust the amount at your own discretion

4. Fold one side of the dough over and then the other (Before folding, make sure dough is “hot dog style”. And yes, I did just use a second-grade terminology)

5. Using kitchen scissors, cut the dough into 1-1 1/2 inch slices. Twist and press the ends into pan

6. Bake 12-15 minutes at 325

7. Brush with sugar water, then top with almond glaze.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

It is time to face the facts people. Summer is over and school is just around the corner.. a 90 degree corner, as in school starts tomorrow. I tried to fill today with all the things I love to do, but never manage to do while school is in session — sleeping, reading FUN books, and watching trashy reality TV (go Real Housewives of Beverly HIlls, I want to be you. Seriously). Eventually, the sun was setting and my last day of summer had come to an end. Luckily, these cookie dough cupcakes I found from this amazing lady are going to make my first day of school that much sweeter.

Who doesn’t love cookie dough? Made from scratch, in a tub, or in a tube, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m the kind of girl who buys a Pillsbury batch of Ready-To-Make chocolate chip cookies as a quick pick-me-up. Between the time of purchase and the time I pull into my garage, a mere five minutes, the batch is usually gone and my initial idea is entirely squashed (Yes, I am aware that I sound like an addict. No, I don’t want help.)

Nine times out of ten, I would take a spoonful of raw cookie dough over a ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie…unless it’s a Sweet Martha from my beloved State Fair. Since that festivity only comes once a year, you will usually find me face first in a tub of cookie dough during the other 51 weeks. By week 37, the thought of cookie dough starts to become less appealing than it normally would. I know at this point you are thinking — she is pretty resilient when it comes to eating that much cookie dough, and you are right. My body starts to build up a crazy tolerance for sugar-infused anything, which is why cookie dough is no longer enough. Thank the heavens that we can bake it in a cupcake :)

You see, my fellow sugar fiends, the trick is to freeze little tubes of dough so that when put in cupcake batter and baked, they come out still as doughy and raw as ever.

See? I told you. I don’t kid about cookie dough.

As if after school snacks could get any better….well, I guess they just did. Soooo much better. I might just have to bake more tomorrow after class, because what terrible professor would give homework on the first day….

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Cookie Dough:
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Buttermilk Cupcakes:
3 sticks softened butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cookie Dough Frosting:
3 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Recipes from the wonderful Kevin And Amanda

Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie has always been momma Orke’s favorite dessert. Last night my family was on a sweet treat rampage…listing off banana cream pie, boston cream pie, m&m cookies, and peanut butter cake as just a few things I should bake….today. Well, sorry fam bam, I have only managed to put together a banana cream pie or two. If I manage to bake any other goodies, I will be sure to let you folks know. In the meantime, sit back, buckle up, and enjoy this banana bonanza ride.

Usually I prefer graham cracker crust for my banana cream pie. But today had me feeling a little rebellious. I decided to go ahead and use vanilla wafers to make my crust……mmmm I do love me some vanilla wafers. Ice cream, frosting, nutella, pudding, it all goes so well with them.

Want to know something else? If you crunch ‘em up, they make a kick ass crust. It’s a great way to take out a little extra aggression, one smash at a time….similar to what  I want to do to my boss, my terrible, awful, no good boss (a great story for me to share with you soon).

Part of me wants to take a big serrated knife and chop her up like these bananas here, or maybe kill her with an “allergic reaction”. If you have not seen Horrible Bosses yet, I apologize for the terrible jokes, the previous statement really was meant to be funny. I also apologize for mixing gruesome jokes with baking….never a good combination.

For the most part, I have been trying to kill my boss with kindness, hoping that eventually it will rub off on her…. Maybe I should bring her this nummy pie?

On second thought, a pie this sinful should be given to people only as sweet as the filling. Looks like Momma Orke wins :)

[I also decided to make some mini banana cream pies with graham cracker crusts, which were pre-made and purchased at good ol' Cub...perfectly individual sized]

Vanilla Wafer Crust

- 2 cups crushed Vanilla Wafers

- 6 tablespoons butter

Mix the wafer crumbles with the melted butter and bake for 5-7 minutes at 350

Vanilla Pudding

- 3/4 cup white sugar

- 1/3 cup cornstarch

- 1/4 teaspoon salt

- 2 cups milk (2% or higher)

- 3 egg yolks, beaten

- 2 tablespoons butter

- 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

- 4 bananas, sliced

Directions

1. In a double boil saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add milk in gradually while stirring gently. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken like custard. Keep stirring and cook for about 2 more minutes, and then remove from the burner

2. Stir a small quantity of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add egg yolk mixture to the rest of the hot mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes; remember to keep stirring. Remove the mixture from the stove, and add butter and vanilla. Stir until the whole thing has a smooth consistency

3. Slice bananas into the cooled baked pastry shell. Top with pudding mixture.

Whipped Cream

- 2 cup heavy whipping cream

- 2 tablespoons vanilla

- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure to chill the beaters and bowl (metal) a good ten minutes before using.