Monday, January 31, 2011

Cake #4: Coconut Lime Layer Cake with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Can you believe we're already on Cake #4 of 52 Cakes! Wow!

This is one of those cakes that I just kept tweaking and even though it was AMAZING!!!! I still would like to take at least one more crack at it.

The recipe I used was was posted with minor adaptations at Calico and CupcakesHeidi's Recipes, Smitten Kitchen who originally got it from Gourmet Magazine back in March '09. Still floating around two years later... yeah, it's that good.

The first thing I did was double the cake recipe to make two dense layers that I could fill with frosting. Joy!

Lime Coconut Cake
1.5 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup (2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2.5 cups sugar
2 tablespoon grated lime zest (key limes or standard limes)
4 large eggs
3.5 cups self-rising flour (or 3.5 cup all-purpose flour + 1.5 teaspoon salt + 3.5 teaspoon baking        powder whisked together)
1.5 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla (it adds a tropical touch that I think the other recipes lacked)
.5 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
2 cup confectioners sugar

Lime Cream Cheese Frosting 
This is all me. So please adapt to your hearts content. Adding lime zest would be nice. I was going for a pure white look but zest is fab too!

1 Package of Cream cheese (8oz)
1 Stick Butter (.5 cup)
3 TBL lime juice (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla
4-5 Cups of Powdered Sugar (we used 4.5)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Generously butter or spray two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
  3. Spread coconut on a baking sheet.  Toast coconut at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, stirring twice. Cool coconut. 
  4. Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and lime zest with an electric mixer until fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.  
  5. Whisk together flour and 1 cup toasted coconut (reserve remainder for topping).
  6. Stir together milk and 2 tablespoons lime juice. 
  7. At low speed, mix flour and milk mixtures into egg mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top of cake is slightly golden and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool slightly, then turn out of pan and discard parchment. 
  9. Whip together butter and cream cheese. Beat in lime juice and then powdered sugar. Add more lime or sugar to taste.
  10. When cake is completely cooled put bottom layer on serving plate and top with frosting.   Add top layer of cake.
  11. Whisk together confectioners sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice (add more if icing is too thick),  and spread on cake.  Sprinkle with remaining coconut. 
And your done! we sampled a large slice bite and it seemed like a cake that forgot to get dressed that morning. Where's the frosting????

So we took a gamble and I tried my hand at frosting a decorated, glazed cake. Nutso, right?

Nah! It was STONE! COLD! AWESOME! I even had a small piece, and I never eat cake. 

Next time I want to make a few changes - and yes, there will definitely be a next time.

Most importantly, I plan to skip the glaze and instead make a simple syrup reduction of water, sugar and lime juice. Then I'll brush the cake layers with - or possibly poke them with a fork and pour it down the holes *swoon* and then frost with the lime cream cheese and top with coconut. Yum!

Friday, January 28, 2011

What's Cool in my World

I'm laid up today so I thought I'd tell you about things we're newly crazy about:

1. Artisan Bread

As a bread baker, I was really skeptical about no-knead bread; especially recipes without milk, butter or eggs, but now, I'm a total believer. Having dough in the fridge ready to be baked is 57 kinds of awesome!

2. Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 

I don't think my boys have ever loved a project book with the ferocity and obsession they love this one with. Here's what Popular Mechanics has to say:

...with the advent of modern household products and office supplies—binder clips, clothespins, rubber bands, ballpoint pens, toothpicks, paper clips, plastic utensils, and (of course) matches and barbeque lighters—troublemakers of all stripes have the components needed to build an impressive, if somewhat miniaturized, arsenal.
Toy designer John Austin provides detailed, step-by-step instructions for each project, including materials and ammo lists, clear diagrams, and construction tips, for mayhem-loving MacGyvers. The 35 devices include catapults, slingshots, minibombs, darts, and combustion shooters. Build a tiny trebuchet from paper clips and a D-cell battery. Wrap a penny in a string of paper caps to create a surprisingly impressive “bomb.” Several of the projects even include variations where combatants mount laser pointer sights to their shooters to increase their accuracy.
Finally, once you’ve built your armory, the author provides plans for a Top Secret Concealing Book to hide your stash, as well as targets for shooting practice. Never let your personal space go undefended again!

3. Small Batch Baking. 

What an awesome concept. The basic idea is that when you want brownies (or cake or cookies, or pie) that's fine. The problem comes in when you make a 9x13 pan of brownies, have the one you wanted and then six more because the whole pan is sitting there tempting you. With small-batches you make individual desserts and have none of those pesky leftovers to deal with. Brilliant, no? 

In our house this is especially wonderful as my boys love to bake and this saves us having a cake, cookies, brownies and cinnamon rolls all at once.

4. Safety Can Openers

I know we're a little late to the party on this one, but these are great and so much cleaner then the blade dipping into your food. A lot of the small batch cakes are baked in cans so having a dull edge was a must for me - can't have the kiddos slicing up their fingers. this is the one we have. It's awesome.

5. Stainless Steel Cookware

I wanted to get away from icky, toxic Teflon for years now, but the horror stories about the sticking-ness of Stainless scared me away. We took the plunge as our pots and pans were in truly desperate need of replacement (the Teflon peeling reminded me of bad sunburns I'd had in the 80's) and I love them. Yes, there is a right way to cook with them and it's no big deal. We've made all sorts of things including fried pot stickers and the browning you get from stainless is amazing! Here's mine:

Thanks for letting me share the things we're excited about right now.

Just so you know, the links are affiliate links so I'd get a commission if you bought something. This has never happened, I just like the convenience of the links imbedded in Blogger - no wandering the internet to find pics etc.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Valentines Day Cards

(click to see it up close)

I'm really enjoying using Tiff's great sketches. This is the one from last Sunday:

 I accidentally cut several doilies at once so I decided to make a second card with a different vibe:

Special thanks to my model, Diggy. He's one of the most treasured members of our household and he is better at sitting still for photos then our Bubby is.

A layout, a New Header and Advice Needed

Do you like the new blog header? I realized the old one had been up for about a year and a half... oops.

Thanks for all the kind words yesterday. I got to thinking and seeing the same old me in the mirror could be a lot worse.

My foot is less swollen today though still discolored - I'm getting there :-)

Here's another one of the sketches I'm trying to clear off the table.

Isn't it a fun design? I can see using it again and again.

While I have you here, can I get some advice?

I was cleaning up my sewing space and couldn't bear to throw out my itty-bitty scraps. So instead I found some fusible webbing (?) that I bought for some project years ago and ironed them all together into one gorgeous piece.

Then I covered the whole she-bang with matte medium and added bits of Gauche Alchemy ephemera. I saw this technique in the most recent CPS and thought - why not?

What should I do with it now?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Belated Sketchy Thursday Page and Some Whining

Should I start with the page or with the whining? 

*Sigh* I have an overuse injury in my left foot. The doc was awesome, he's a post-back-surgery running enthusiast so he really got me. He has me off my feet until the weekend, short 5 mile run on Saturday and reduced mileage until my race in February. It could have gone a lot worse. That said, there's a swollen area above my 5th metatarsal and the peroneal brevis tendon is looking freaky. I can't make my baby toe do what it should... like stay down for an x-ray. See above... it's standing while everyone else is sitting. What a rebel.

I'm feeling a little persecuted. So far in the last week I've had severe vision disturbances (spinal related),   an ovarian cyst ruptured (sorry if that's TMI) and I passed my one year NOW EVERYTHING IS SUPPOSED TO BE WONDERFUL date and... well... everything's not wonderful.

I jumped out of bed that morning excited to see the new me and the old me was staring back. Kind of naive, no?

As they say though, on with the show :-)

I love Sketchy Thursdays. It's my favorite sketch site ever (sorry Page Maps, I'm very fond of you too). Each week this month I've printed the sketch (or drew it on old junk mail envelopes), printed my photos, picked out some paper and then piled them in a neglected stack at the end of my table. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?

So, in an interest of clearing said table I started with this one. 

And I kept it simple. 

Paper: Echo Park
Cardstock: Bazzil

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tiff's Sketches

Did you know the amazingly talented Tiff posts sketches now? 
I know!!! 
How awesome is that?

This is a sketch of hers from about two weeks ago 
(I'm running behind on everything - no mojo)

and here are my Valentines:

I decided to keep things simple and clean, not everything needs to take hours and hours to make.

Patterned Paper: BoBunny
Cardstock: PTI
Stamps: Raisin Boat

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why I LOVE (with a Discount Code)

 Way back in 2005 while surfing the wave of Harry Potter Mania I stumbled across and filled my cart with books on tape - Cassettes! Talk about a blast from the past. They wooed me with their $2.95 shipping and while I was drooling over Rowling's latest, I stumbled into the Bedding & Bath department. Oh. My. Heaven. It wasn't long before I realized that with Overstock I could buy Luxury Bed linens for less then run of the mill ones at the store. Score. So I loaded up on gems like these:

Yeah, 1000 thread count Egyptian Cotton... let's just say we haven't gone back to scratchy sheets. They're bliss.

When my dear husband went to work for Overstock in '07 I started paying closer attention to the company as a whole (not just their primo sheets) and fell in love with their Handmade Jewelry
As a compassionate, environmentally aware, artsy chic, Worldstock Fair Trade really touches my heart. 
Huge kudos to Patrick Byrne for starting such a great people (and earth) friendly company. Here's a snippet:
The purpose of Worldstock Fair Trade is not to make money, but to create thousands (someday millions) of jobs for artisans in the most destitute regions of the world. Our mission is to provide customers with small-lot produced goods at an affordable price. By doing so, we locate products made by craftswomen and craftsmen from around the world. We emphasize sustainability, choosing environmentally friendly products that won't burn up natural or human resources. We strive to provide our customers with exclusive products, including handcrafted clothing, jewelry, ceramics, furniture, and much more.

This is my first piece of handmade jewelry from Worldstock Fair Trade in '07, I always get tons of compliments when I wear it. 

I've received several other great pieces since then and the quality has been outstanding. And yeah... I'm naturally blonde... not the best look for me *grin*

To help you all share in the fun I've got some discount codes to share. 

Discount code 121745 is good for 10% off Overstock products (excluding movies, books, and electronics).  This discount code never expires, however, it can only be used once per email address.

202234 - free shipping promo code for electronics

Just so you know:

All the ideas and opinions expressed are my own. No monetary compensation was received for doing this post, however, I was provided with a discount code.

Art Journal Page: One Little Word? Really?

I promise I've been art journalling. Just I stamped with a TP roll and it took eons to dry. Then I wrote gnarly journalling in the circles and it looked BAD so I had to gesso them over and start again. Then several of those circles took most of my ten minutes... I was just a slow, pokey girl this week. But the end result makes me happy. Julie Fei-Fan Balzer uses grids and circles in a lot of her work and it always looks so awesome, I wanted to give it a try.

(click to see it up close)

The inspiration for this page was the current catalyst at Creative Therapy
What’s your word or focus for 2011?

I'm going to be blogging a little later about our trip to this morning and how we get to see the Governor today. How exciting. And I have a coupon! Stay posted :-)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cake #3: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Salt and Pepper, Milk and Cookies, Ham and Cheese... all great pairings but the one combination to rule them all may just be:

Peanut Butter and Chocolate!

I knew what I'd be making for Cake #3. 

Doesn't it look like a plate full of regret? 

A few things about cakes, I always sift my dry ingredients. Some folks just whisk them but sifting incorporates the ingredients better and helps avoid the little globs of baking soda that are so gross to find in a bite of cake.

Love this stage. So full of potential:

Then you add your liquids and get batter. This is my stress spot when baking. 
Will I equally divide it between pans? Did I forget the eggs? Will it rise? Will it fall?

Fast Forward to cooled cake and whipped cream cheese and peanut butter (oh my heaven I can die now) frosting.

The cake is supposed to be a three layer cake but ours is only two. First, I only own two cake pans and secondly, even if I did, we don't need a triple layer cake, on a Friday, before grocery shopping. Need to save something up my sleeve for birthdays and wedding days.

I split the batter in thirds, 2 cake pans and the rest as cupcakes. I put the cupcakes in the freezer for a later noshing date.


Wanna see it again? I know, I do too. In fact, I keep opening the fridge and looking at the latest object of my affection.

Linked up to:

Using up my Remnants and RAKs

Are you getting tired of all my Art Gallery Fabric sewing posts yet? I promise, I'm done... well... there are a few 1x1 and 2x2 pieces that might make it onto card but I'm more of less done. This pillow is made up of the final bits of fabric I had left from the lovely fat quarters I got. 

I was sewing them into a single piece - seemed easier to store that way - and Brayden commented that it would make a nice pillow front. Smart kid that one. So some dental floss, fabric covered button making, stabbed fingers and a few swear words later I had a pillow I'm really proud of. 

My sweetie came home late last night and promptly fell asleep on it so I guess it makes the cut.

And where did I rest of the fabric go? I went a little scarf crazy. Okay, a lot scarf crazy. I'm doing this Pay it Forward thing in 2011 and I thought some of my cold-climate compadres might like warmer necks. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flat Iron Cozy

Flat Iron Holder

Slide it in the sleeve

Tuck in the cord

Do up the button

Managing my flat iron was driving me crazy. It didn't come with a heat proof sleeve so I inevitably left it on the counter... for days on end. *blush*

This works fine at home but isn't so great for travel because getting ready is pretty much the last thing you do before you leave and you end up having to pack a 400 degree iron. Eek. 

We went to the gym on Sunday and I made-do with a wash cloth wrapped around the hot iron and secured with a hair elastic. Not pretty, but I didn't burn a hole through my swim cap either. 

It was just the catalyst I needed to make something better. This project was my first brush with Insul-brite  the cool stuff that lines pot holders and oven mitts to make them heat proof and I have to say it's pretty awesome. And I used some more of the gorgeous Art Gallery Fabric my sweetie bought me. Yay!

I still need to improve my skills beyond those on par with The Grinch but I'm getting there. And my counter looks so much better without being cluttered up with my iron.

handmade projects

Friday, January 14, 2011

Art Journal Every Day... er...Most Days

I've been slacking a bit on AJED as my days have been hard, packed and painful. One thing I've definitely noticed is how much more effort is required to AJ if you put your stuff away. It's a major change from having it accessible and out in the open. But the house is so much neater... what's a creative girl to do?

This page is a sort of personal melt down, rant, valve-opening-to-let-the-pressure-off piece. I wasn't trying to be pretty or eloquent or trendy. Just trying to get through a rough patch without a body count.

I'm really enjoying starting out with painted pages. It's weird as the color scheme is pre-set but it certainly beats the pressure of a blank page. I specifically picked a clashy, chaotic, angry color mix in my journal. I think the color and gashes express my thoughts as much as the words do.

Balzer Designs