Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cake Decorating Is Where It's At

I recently completed Wilton's Decorating Basics cake decorating class, and wanted to display my final cake project! I went with a fall theme and had a lot of fun decorating this cake. We had to come up with the design on our own, so I wanted something easy and   The cake itself was too dry, but I was really pleased with how the frosting turned out :)

Happy Fall!

Some close up shots of the frosting. I used a small star tip for the stars and border piping.

After graduating (it sounds so silly to say I 'graduated' from a cake decorating class) I decided to sign up for the next two classes: Gum Paste and Fondant, and Flowers and Cake Design. These classes teach more complicated cake decorating techniques, and show you how to work with gum paste and fondant. I've always been in awe of those fancy-schmancy fondant and sugar creations, so I was excited to learn it for myself.

Below are my button flowers from the Flowers and Cake Design class. These are made out of a 50/50 mixture of gum paste and fondant. Gum paste dries very quickly, so mixing it with the fondant helps the shape dry faster.

There are some crinkles, but I think they look okay for my first try :)

Here are my pansies made out of gum paste. We learned that gum paste can be rolled out much thinner than fondant, so it's used to create more delicate flowers and other detailed items.

For some reason this reminds me of the talking pansies from Alice in Wonderland. Completely random, I know.

Was anyone else slightly freaked out by these pansies as a child, or am I just weird? :) I'm okay with the latter.

More pictures to come!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Umpqua Oats

Oatmeal is one of my deepest loves. It's easy to prepare, healthy, and oh-so-versatile. Throw delicious in there too :) I love eating it but don't have a lot of time in the morning to cook and eat a large bowl, so anytime I can find it in a convenient form, I'm a happy camper.

Thank you to Tara over at A Daily Dose of Fit for hosting a fantastic Umpqua Oats giveaway recently! I was a lucky winner and was shocked to receive this many containers of tasty oatmeal on my doorstep. The story behind Umpqua Oats is great: two moms needed a fast, portable, and healthy breakfast for their kids, but didn't want to serve something processed and full of junk. They were inspired by sugary instant oatmeal packets and created their own healthy, natural instant oatmeal products as a result. I love it! 

So many flavors to try! Oh hi there, kitchen in my apartment.

I opted for the Not Guilty version: dried apple, dried blueberries, flaxseed, and chia seeds. This version did not have sugar added (all the others are sweetened with sucanat sugar).

Here are the uncooked oats:

Add boiling water, and two minutes later, voila!

The oatmeal was thick, chewy, and definitely tasted healthy. It was a little bland on its own, so I added half a scoop of vanilla protein powder to sweeten the deal. That helped. Hubby tried Take a Hike: oatmeal with hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried apricots. I tasted it and was fabulous! I can't wait to try the other flavors. Hooray for a fast and healthy breakfast :)

Thanks again, Tara and Umpqua! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vegan Applesauce Bread

I absolutely love Jenna's blog Eat Live Run. Her quirky sense of humor and down-to-earth personality are so warm and inviting. She's a fantastic cook, too! It seems like every day I bookmark a new recipe of Jenna's to try.

Last week, Jenna posted this beauty. I wanted to eat some right away. mind would drift at work and all I could think about was apple spice bread. 

Since Hubby and I do our best to eat healthy, I decided to tweak Jenna's recipe a bit to bump up the nutrition factor. I cut down on the sugar a bit, substituted all applesauce for the apple/applesauce combo, and used whole wheat flour. My inner pseudo-vegan decided to use flax eggs and canola oil to make it vegan, too. (Yes, vegan baked goods can be delicious!) Sadly, I left off the apple cider glaze, but I bet it would be awesome on anything :) This bread turned out delicious: moist, fragrant, and full of that cozy fall flavor we all love. Store it wrapped in foil and inside a plastic bag on your counter so it doesn't dry out.

Vegan Applesauce Bread
adapted from and inspired by Jenna's Apple Spice Bread with Apple Cider Glaze
Makes 1 loaf

  • 2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, mixed with 6 tablespoons water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes until a "gel" forms)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (doesn't have to be packed, I eyeballed it)
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the flax eggs, brown sugar, molasses, canola oil, and applesauce. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined.
  • Scrape batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 25-30, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Fresh out of the oven...yum!

Next time I'll cut a bigger slice :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

French Press Coffee in My Tervis Tumbler

I love coffee anytime, day or night. Just make it decaf after noon, please :)

When Foodbuzz announced their Tastemaker offering from Tervis, I hoped and prayed I'd be chosen! I was intrigued by Tervis' claim that their plastic tumblers could be used for both hot and cold drinks, so when mine arrived in the mail, I decided to put it to the test.

Here it is! I like the fun colors from the Foodbuzz logo.

This is the perfect size for beverages, smoothies, ice cream floats (ooooh, sounds good), you name it!

One particular evening I was craving French press coffee, so I brewed a pot of decaf and decided to go for it. I heart French press coffee, and after working at a coffee shop and learning how to brew it properly, I really enjoy doing it when I have the time. That's another story :)

And into the Tervis it went...

I braced myself for raging heat to hit my hands...

...and this thing was perfectly cool! How about that? The outside of the tumbler did not get hot AT ALL. Wow. I was impressed. I could sip away to my heart's content and not worry about burning my hands. Having done that too many times before with coffee mugs and metal containers, this made me happy :)

Thanks, Foodbuzz and Tervis!

Disclaimer: I received a free Tervis Tumbler as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program. The review is my own and they didn't pay me to say nice things about them.
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