Monday, June 27, 2011

So sweetly

I promise I haven't given up on this thing! With the chaos of finals, moving, starting my research job and a summer school class, this has been the least of my worries! Most of my meals have been sandwiches (not to say that sandwiches can't be exciting - they can be) or leftovers my mom sends back to Austin with me or other things I throw together. No big cooking adventures. However, the baking adventures have been intermittent through this whole time. My sweet tooth cannot be silenced as easily as my desire to prepare a wonderful meal. It has been a good rule of thumb to not eat sweets that I don't make. That keeps me from buying whoopie pies at HEB with my boyfriend and devouring those... oh wait, that's happened. Or finishing off a box of Oreos in a few days with my roommates... nevermind, guilty again. But as a whole, this rule (easily bendable) is good to stick to. Maybe it is not a rule as much as an idea. Oh well.

May 4 was my roommate//best friend's birthday so needless to say, this called for sweets a plenty. Every year, I have tried to make her a cakeball creation of some sort. Cakeball caterpillar (fondly known as a cakerpillar), cakeletters to spell out "Happy Birthday Theresa", and of course just regular cakeballs have filled many wonderful years of getting to celebrate her birthday. Being an engineer who likes to bake, I have always wondered about the structural component of cakeballs. This year something about "cakeball fortress" just sounded so deliciously majestic. (I will probably do a future post on cakeballs, but they have caught on in popularity, so everyone probably has read about them already! They used to be a novelty. sigh. Haha.)
All the supplies for building a cakeball castle!
Here is the castle terrain: brownie dirt, green coconut grass, and a tropical punch fruit roll up moat!
And here are the bricks: funfetti cakeballs!  
To construct, I just used icing as "mortar" and put some stabilizing kabob sticks on the corners. With Nutty bars for a bridge and cookies for doors, the castle was complete!
 So that was birthday sweet number one. Then, we surprised her with a party, because she deserved it! She is a wonderful lady! What is a birthday celebration without sweets? By this time the castle was in ruins so another treat was necessary. I've always been infatuated with cupcake cakes so I decided to try a version of that. Theresa is allergic to real flowers, but not cake flowers!!
I started by just arranging the mini cupcakes in semi floral shapes. Then, out came the icing bag and the food coloring!
Tah-dah! These were super easy and make a fun party snack.
After that came finals and the move and all that busy stuff, but the next two projects were undertaken in my apartment for the summer! New kitchens are always exciting! I am living with some really wonderful ladies, Michelle and Lauren, and I have loved getting to know them better! They've been so kind to invite me into their space and their lives. Tis a joy! One day at work, the guy I work under told me he made homemade bagels once and showed me pictures. I knew I had to experiment with these for myself. I used this recipe, and I forgot to take pictures along the way (oops), but the link explains it way better than I would. One of the many fun things about bagels is that you can play around with flavors.
These were plain with just an egg wash.
Cinnamon Sugar!
Rosemary and Thyme
Sesame Seed
Homemade bagels = so fun and so good. I know this is getting lengthy, so I'll just end with one last sweet treat. More flower food actually. Sunflower cupcakes, errr cupcakes that look like sunflowers. The center is an oreo! I am told this is in a cupcake book somewhere, but I just saw a picture that was posted on my facebook and was inspired.
The vanilla buttercream icing is just a really simple recipe. Cream together 1/2 cup vegetable shortening and 1/2 cup butter. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Gradually add 4 cups powdered sugar and then add 1-2 Tablespoons of milk to get to desired consistency. Then add food coloring! I used my leaf tip to make petals, which took some practice! But by the end, I think I finally got them to look like sunflowers!
Happy summertime!!
Hopefully your summers are going well and now that summer school is over, I might have more time for summery cooking adventures!!

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