Monthly Archives: February 2011

Fun with Frosting Friday…Bernese Mountain Dogs!

Without a doubt, these cupcakes were the most fun I’ve had with frosting yet.  I had a great time decorating!  I couldn’t find anyone on-line who had done Bernese Mountain Dog cupcakes, so I made up my own design (I did find someone who did a Collie & I used their cupcake as somewhat of a model)!  These cupcakes were made for my father’s birthday- he has two gorgeous Bernese Mountain Dogs (see picture) who mean the world to him, so I wanted to acknowledge that fact with a fun cupcake design.  He loved them!

 

 

Ingredients:

Cupcake/cake mix, cupcake cups, chocolate frosting, 4 tubes of Wilton Frosting- black (2), brown & white, mini M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, candy fruits (like the kind you can get for .25 cents in the jars, but you can substitute fruit leather for the tongue).  You’ll also need a #21 Wilton frosting tip.


Directions:

Mix time: 10 minutes. Bake time: approx 20 minutes. Cool time: 30 minutes.  Decoration time: approx 45 minutes.

Bake the (12) cupcakes per instructions & allow to fully cool- at least 20 minutes.

Lightly frost the cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  This will give a good background for the decoration!

Put the #21 Wilton frosting tip on the tube of brown frosting (do a test of the textured dots before you start).  You’re welcome to buy white frosting and do the coloring yourself and use frosting bags…I just bought the colored decorators frosting in tubes because it was easier/I didn’t have time.  The black in the tube was the richest black you’ll be able to get, though.  I’d suggest you buy 2 of the tubes of black…I almost ran out with just one!

Make a U-shape with the frosting. Try to leave a little room on the bottom for the white.

Clean the white frosting out of the tip (make sure to dry with a paper towel) and attach to the white frosting tube.  Do a layered swirl with the white to make the dog’s snout.

With the white, add the fur on the bottom.

Clean the white frosting out of the tip (make sure to dry with a paper towel) and attach to the black tube of frosting- make two loops for the ears.

I did two versions of dogs with the black frosting- one I carefully spread the black all around the empty spaces and the other I did the textured dots with the #21 frosting tip.

I cleaned out the #21 tip (yet again) and attached it back to the white tube of frosting and added large textured dots for the eyes.  Yes, you unfortunately do need to do the eyes last because they need to be on top of the black frosting to look right.  If I did them again, I’d have added a little white on the top of the head, too, to make them look even more realistic.

Place the mini M&M’s on the white frosting for eyes.

Carefully attach brown Reese’s Pieces on top of the white frosting pile for the dog’s nose

Add either strawberry sugar candies or a piece of red fruit leather for the dog’s tongue.  I have to admit, I started giggling at this point.  How cute is this?!

Looks like her, no?

Fun little family of Bernese Mountain Dog cupcakes!

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Crafting Ideas… Graffiti Knitters???

An article was in the Boston Globe yesterday on a group of knitters in Boston, who call themselves the South End Knitters.  These knitters get together weekly to knit and plot places to put their graffiti knitting- around bike racks, trees, lampposts, hanging from tree limbs and even attaching little knit animals to their wrappings.  They call it street art, but what do you think?  Eye sores that deface public property (technically illegal per the police) or harmless decoration that’s just for fun?

A few other examples of their work I found on-line:

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Appetizers…Parmesan Spinach Balls

I made parmesan spinach balls over the weekend & my family couldn’t stop raving about them!  Not the healthiest of appetizers, but mmm mmmm goooooood!  I modified a recipe from AllRecipes.com by adding a few ingredients and fried them, instead of baking (as the recipe said).  I did try to bake a few per the recipe instructions, but they turned out a bit mooshy/undercooked.  If you want to try to be a bit more healthy & bake them, make sure to have the oven on 400 and bake them for at least 20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (or 1/2 a large yellow)
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoons Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, ground (I used 2 tsp dried garlic)
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

(makes about 18)

Directions:

  • Thaw, drain & cook the spinach in a pan for a couple minutes (do NOT fully cook)
  • Prepare the other ingredients (chop onion, beat eggs, grate cheese)

  • In a large bowl, mix the spinach, bread crumbs, parmesan, butter, onion, eggs, soy sauce, cumin, salt & pepper.
  • Pour the sesame seeds in a small bowl.
  • With your hands, form approx 1 inch balls from the mixture.

  • Lightly roll the balls in the bowl of sesame seeds for a tasty coating.

  • Place the balls on a cookie sheet or pan, slightly spaced apart.

  • Cover the spinach balls and place in the refrigerator.

  • Allow the spinach balls to cool/slightly harden- leave in refrigerator overnight/at least 6-8 hrs.
  • The next day, pour a bottle of vegetable oil (approx 48oz) into a medium pot and put on stove at medium-high.
  • Wait until the oil is hot- it will start to “spit” a bit.

  • Drop 3-4 of the balls into the hot oil for a few minutes, until browned.

  • Remove from the oil with tongs and place on a pan/plate covered with paper towels to help soak up some of the oil.  CAREFUL- VERY HOT!
  • Allow the balls to cool about 5 minutes before serving.

  • Best if served with a dressing/dipping sauce.  I used a mixture of 1/2 sesame oil and 1/2 soy sauce and they tasted great!

Note: Used cooking oil or grease should not be discarded as trash or poured down the drain.

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    Truths About Life

    This post is a little different from my normal food, finds, travel & design, but I felt that I had to share…

    A friend of mine posted this article, 88 Important Truths I’ve Learned About Life, on her Facebook page & some of the lessons/insights really struck a chord within me.  While I don’t completely agree with all of the 88 “truths” and I suggest that you take a look at the list yourself, here are a few that I wanted to share with you:

    2. It is a hundred times more difficult to burn calories than to refrain from consuming them in the first place. This is so true.  Ohhh self- control…

    7. Children are remarkably honest creatures until we teach them not to be. I think it all starts with the lesson of telling a white lie…

    15. Nobody has it all figured out. No one.

    22. Humans cannot destroy the planet, but we can destroy its capacity to keep us alive.  And we are. So sad.

    24. Those who complain the most, accomplish the least. It really is often easier/faster to just get something done than complain about it!

    41. Revenge is for the petty and irresponsible. And can often be dangerous, too!

    42. Getting truly organized can vastly improve anyone’s life. I always feel so much better & have a much better grasp on things when I am organized!

    47. If you aren’t happy single, you won’t be happy in a relationship. I’ve given this advice to a friend before- love yourself!

    52. Posture and dress change profoundly how you feel about yourself and how others feel about you, like it or not. There’s a reason why people say “dress for success!”

    66. Most of what children learn from their parents isn’t taught on purpose. This one made me laugh.  So true.

    78. There is no point finishing a book you aren’t enjoying. Life is too short for that. Swallow your pride and put it down for good, unfinished.  I actually said this to my boyfriend last night!  Some books just aren’t meant to be read by everyone.  To each their own!

    79. There is no correlation between the price of a brand of batteries and how long they last. Interesting!

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    Fun with Frosting Friday…(Messy) ice cream hearts

    I feel like almost every other Fun with Frosting Friday post lately has been “what not to do…”  Hmmm!  Well, these ice cream hearts were delicious (and a recipe I made up as I went), but certainly were a struggle half-way through!  Here’s what happened…

    Ingredients:

    Brownie mix (I used No Pudge Fudge Brownies w/yogurt to cut down on the fat), 1 jar fudge, heart cupcake pan & ice cream!

    Yield: 6 ice cream brownie hearts (and some leftover brownies).


    NOTE: you’ll need at least 16 hours to make these!

    Directions:

    • First mix the brownie batter

    • Fill the heart cups about 1/2 way full and bake in the oven per the brownie box instructions.  If you use the same heart-shaped muffin/cupcake Silicone mold that I did, make sure to put a cookie sheet under the pan in the oven to prevent burning the bottoms & also makes it easier to get in/out of the oven!

    • Once the brownies are done, allow them to cool to room temperature (very important)

    • Since you’ll only be filling the heart-shaped cups up half-way, you’ll have some batter left over…I made some extra brownies!

    • Once the brownies have fully cooled, fill the rest of the heart cups with your favorite (and your sweetheart’s favorite) ice cream!  I used Ben & Jerry’s (of course)!  Put the cups in the freezer overnight or at least 4-6 hours to allow to fully re-freeze.

    • The next morning/day CAREFULLY peel the mold back and pop out the hearts onto a plate

    It’s a messy job…

    ***Mistake #1: I decided to chocolate the hearts with the ice cream on top…I think that the ice cream wasn’t frozen enough & I think the fudge was too warm.  Yea so, mistake #2: I warmed the fudge sauce in the microwave for about 40 seconds…***

    ***DO NOT WARM THE FUDGE- keep it at room-temperature***

    This was the messy, messy result of attempting to put warmish fudge on the ice cream…It might have worked if the fudge had been room-temp and the ice cream had been a little harder.  I’ll figure that out next time I make these, I guess?

    • Anyway, I flipped the hearts over (brownie on top) and salvaged what was left of the poor hearts (there was about half as much ice cream left on the bottom as when I’d started) and I poured fudge on the tops of the brownies.  At that point, I gave up and allowed the fudge to drip down the sides, which actually looked pretty sweet.
    • After the hearts were relatively covered with fudge (I only had so much left after the initial disaster), I put the hearts back in the freezer for about 8 hours.

    • When I got home from work, I took the hearts out of the freezer and transferred them onto a plate with a cute plastic doily.

    • I then had fun decorating the hearts with various candy decorations I found & wrote some messages with frosting to my sweetheart…

    Thankfully, after all that work….they were delicious!

     

    My hearts didn’t quite turn out like my model image (below), but that’s also probably because the image is of a chocolate cheesecake heart, not ice cream cakes…Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did!

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    Happy Valentine’s Day

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

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    Fun with Frosting Friday… Laptop Cupcakes!

    I made these cute cupcakes for my roommate’s birthday a couple weeks ago.  I’m pretty proud of how well they came out!  Cute, huh?!  My model cupcakes were on FamilyFun.com

    How I made the cute little Laptop Cupcakes:

    Ingredients: white icing (if you don’t have decorator’s tips, buy a Betty Crocker’s Cookie Icing bag!), 1 bag Fudge Shoppe Deluxe Grahams (don’t eat any or you won’t have enough!), mini M&M’s, black deocrator’s gel (optional), chocolate (or vanilla frosting), cupcake mix, cupcake cups, 2 cupcake pans (makes 12)

    Directions:

    • Mix the cupcake mix (I used Funfetti!) and fill the cupcake cups about 1/2 way, bake per instructions.

    • Once they cupcakes are done (they’ll have a bit of a bounce if you tap your finger on the top), carefully (they’ll be hot…) take the cupcakes out of the tins and set on the counter to cool…make the laptops while you’re waiting:

    • Cut off just the tip of the icing bag- you don’t want too big of a hole!  If you are using decorator’s tips, use a small one.

    • Lay out all the fudge grahams and start making the dots- wipe the access frosting off after each one you do, as this will prevent dripping/smearing.  I did 3 rows of dots (keys), six across, and then the last row a couple dots between a line (the keyboard)
    • After you finish all the keyboards, you’re ready to start making the screens!
    • To make the screens, draw a rectangle with the icing around the fudge graham (leave a little bit of a border) and then fill it in with icing!  Allow the laptops to cool/dry for about 5 minutes before touching them!
    • Generously frost the tops of the cupcakes with any color frosting your little heart desires!
    • Carefully lay the laptops on the tops of the cupcakes- you’ll need to smoosh the screen in a little to get it to stick…

    • With icing and/or black decorator’s gel, draw the little mouse cord coming out of the keyboard

    • Place the mini M&M’s down to connect the mouse to the cord

    • You’re done!!

    Thank you to my wonderful boyfriend for taking some of the “action shots” in this series!

     

    Now what for a “sneak peak” of what you’ll be seeing next week in Fun with Frosting Friday:


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