Birthdays Make Me Crafty

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you already know how I feel about birthdays. To sum up for the new kids: I like them a lot. (example, example, example)

I had a string of birthdays recently, and it brought out the craftier side of me that apparently had been napping for the past couple of months. I love a good craft project so I sort of ran with it. It started with my gal L’s birthday. I had planned a specific project for her birthday since it was a milestone year and I was going to visit her in San Fran (read about it here). My plan was to make a scrapbook of her birthday weekend. I prepped the book prior to leaving for the trip and the plan was that I would run to the store, print out the pics, glue’em in (I brought some supplies with me) and I would give it to the birthday girl just before we all left. It was a flawed plan. We were jamming in super fun activities until the moment we left for the airport. So I had to finish it when I got home and mail it instead.

A book to remember our magical weekend gallivanting all over San Fran together and celebrating birthdays.

A book to remember our magical weekend gallivanting all over San Fran together and celebrating birthdays.

Not too long after that came two back to back birthdays. First was one of my best buds C. Second came my co-worker R. I attempted to try something cool for C that I had seen on the internet, and Pinterest, a millions times. An ombre layer cake in a mason jar. All I can say about this endeavor is that it was horrible lol. EPIC PINTEREST FAIL.

UGH...started off decently with the ombre cupcakes. But look at this shizzzz. HORRIBLE.

UGH…started off decently with the ombre cupcakes. But look at this shizzzz. HORRIBLE.

Ugh. Just looking at the picture annoys me. I couldn’t possibly give this monstrosity to C. It ended up in a mushed pile on my counter that was later eaten by my roommate.

I ended up admitting defeat on the whole ombre thing and making a mason jar cake instead. I filled it with some nutella as an added perk. To make it extra special (and because I turned into an unstoppable craft machine for like 2 weeks) I printed out tiny pics of us from our years of friendship and made a little photo-tree topper for the cake.

Apparently we are incapable of making attractive faces.

Apparently we are incapable of making attractive faces.

As you know, I love a good theme. As it happens, my coworker R shares my love of Doctor Who…so it struck me with the idea of making her some Doctor Who cupcakes for her special day. Basically it gave me an excuse to craft and indulge my nerdiness.

The Doctor Who Gang

The Doctor Who Gang

I printed small pictures of each of major characters from the new reboot of the series, including a 3D Tardis so that I could use them as cupcake toppers.

I used my awesome little cupcake screw thingy and filled them with some Tardis blue buttercream icing (recipe from my Gram…thanks Gram).

I got this little tool from some weird Chinese overstock website I found 2 Christmases ago

I got this little tool from some weird Chinese overstock website I found 2 Christmases ago. Icing piped in with my super sophisticated ziplock bag.

Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and blue buttercream filling

Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and blue buttercream filling

All in all, the birthday crafting went over really well. Everyone seemed pretty pleased with their birthday surprises.

Also, if you’re interested in making the white cake the recipe is super simple:

-1.5 c flour
-1 c sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 c milk
-1 3/4 tsp baking powder
-vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Add everything else. Bake for 20-30 mins at 350.

 

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Sometimes you get weird stuff in the Christmas swap

In case you were unclear, this post is a throwback to Christmastime–or winter-holiday time for anyone celebrating something else….YUP I’m inclusive.

So I feel like I need to give a little background to this post. My dad’s girlfriend (oh hey T) introduced this amazing game into our Christmas celebrations a few years ago. The gist of it is that everyone stands in a circle and most people are holding a present (all if you want to make sure everyone ends up with a prize…..I’m still resentful of 2012 when me and Meg ended up empty handed. T reads a story about the Right family…and you pass presents around whenever the words “right” and “left” are announced. It gets INTENSE…especially in my family because we love a good holiday punch. Long story short I ended up with a boxed Italian christmas cake “Panettone” that was regifted into the game by my godfather.

This box o' mystery. Do people really buy this for themselves? It's not all that bad to be honest...

This box o’ mystery. Do people really buy this for themselves? It’s not all that bad to be honest…

You’ve all probably seen them before in the grocery store. Like me you’re probably wondering what the F you do with this box of strange. Turns out Giada from the Food Network has the answer! You make a bread pudding!

Simple to make. Easy ingredients.

Simple to make. Easy ingredients.

It’s actually super simple to make—and BONUS: it tastes amazing. I made it for the New Years Eve party I went to. A bit of truth for you, this is some full fat sh*t. You gotta just roll with it on this one…lower fat alternatives just don’t hold up as well.

Panettone Bread Pudding:
-1  box panettone bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
-8 large eggs
-1 1/2 cups whipping cream
-2 1/2 cups whole milk
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-vanilla

Butter/Pam a dish and arrange the bread cubes in it. In a large bowl whisk all the other ingredients together and then pour over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes a bit to make sure they’re covered. Let stand for about 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 mins until the pudding puffs up and the center is set.

Bread pudding is always the right choice

Bread pudding is always the right choice

I topped it with some homemade whipped cream. It went over pretty well.

In other newsssss….I just got back from a trip to San Fran to visit L! A group of us went, and we had a total blast celebrating birthdays and L’s new San Fran life.

The fog gets crazy in San Fran. It literally covered the bridge the day we arrived

The fog gets crazy in San Fran. It literally covered the bridge the day we arrived

We seriously had so much fun. Here’s a quick recap of the shenanigans we got into:

-self guided wine tasting tour where we got daytime buzzed drinking wine all day and playing bocci ball
-amazing dinner with L’s bro and sis in law and their 4 beautiful and way too lovable babies
-brunches
-sight seeing of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ghirardelli  factory, the Full House houses, and so much more
-night tour of Alcatraz
-soaking up the sunshine…I was beginning to forget what it felt like
-meeting up with CB!!!
-fun bars, new friends, cocktails and Cards Against Humanity

The Ladies outside of the Cliff House after brunch

The Ladies outside of the Cliff House after brunch

 

K&CB together again!! #viadelmoro4life

K&CB together again!! #viadelmoro4life

 

Gettin' our drank on with amazing cucumber type cocktails with Death Star ice balls.

Gettin’ our drank on with amazing cucumber type cocktails with Death Star ice balls.

Check out this sweeet 20 piece knife set that C and D got me for my bday :) woot woot

Check out this sweeet 20 piece knife set that C and D got me for my bday 🙂 woot woot

Birthdays on Birthdays….A Story of Two Cakes

Once again, I’ve waited forever to write a post. I’d say sorry, but its been a pretty shitty month in so mannny ways that I’m really not sorry. I had other biz to deal with. BUT…the winds are changing, so to speak, so I’ll fill you in on some the kitchen shenanigans I’ve been getting myself into these days.

There have been a few birthdays this month! and lord knows I love a good birthday celebration (example, other example, one more). This past month had not one but TWO birthdays to celebrate. So let me begin the story of two cakes.

Once upon a time…I had a terrible job (in part I’m joking but I’m mostly serious). And at that job I met some people…some of them were great. One such lady was my pal KT (check out her super gay blog and her adorable dog blog). KT had a birthday at the beginning of the month and I got to make her a celebratory cake–a Blueberry Cream Cheese Layer Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting…yup, I got classy this with this one (click for the full recipe from Veggie and the Beast).

Kt's cake

I won’t walk you through the play by play…mostly because I have no visuals, but I WILL give you some best practices. First, this cake is WORK…if you don’t have a mixer, maybe rethink making it. Personally, I do not have a mixer and I was having some challenges. Additionally, if you have never browned butter before, maybe google it first so you know what you’re looking for. Overall the cake was a big success, but maybe the birthday girl will comment her thoughts (not so subtle hint for you to comment on this post KT).

The second birthday gal and I go wayyyyyy back…like 26 years back. Because the birthday girl was my Mom! Dear old (practically ancient at this point) Ma got yet another year older. I won’t invade her privacy by putting a number on it…but in a few years when she turns 50 I tend to tell the world lol. (Love you momma).

I had a few days off work (Jewish Holidays woot woot) so I decided to head to the homestead to celebrate in person. As my sis is currently living the high life in the Dhabs I was reppin’ for the both of us. And I feel like I nailed it.

When asked for her preference of cake my mother was fairly vague…something chocolate. So some quality time spent with google resulted in finding the perfect recipe. It’s super moist…to the point you think you made it wrong. But it totally turns out great.

Look how great they look

Look how great they look

So my gram has an electric mixer. It makes baking cakes and making frosting SO MUCH better. I did a quick google search for frosting because the cake recipe author “didn’t record any measurements”…ok….But it’s super easy. I’m pretty sure I used this guy.

Why don't I have a mixer?!

Why don’t I have a mixer?!

A perfectly respectable looking cake

A perfectly respectable looking cake

So I frosted the cake and was pretty happy…I mean, look at how symmetrical it is! But I just felt like it was too “every day” to be my mom’s birthday cake….so I decided to spice it up…and maybe it got a little out of hand.

So maybe I went a little extreme...

So maybe I went a little extreme…

This was the final product. I assume it was satisfactory as there was none left the next day.

But here are some celebration pics! (in case you want to pretend you were there)

Look who made it on the blog! welcome to the internet mamma

Look who made it on the blog! welcome to the internet mamma

ugh happy couples...if I didn't like them so much I'd punch them lol

ugh happy couples…if I didn’t like these two so much I’d punch them lol

Also, I would be remiss to NOT introduce you to the best addition to my life: Frizz…aka Ms Frizzle. She is KT’s puppy and I love her. Like so much…and those of you who know me in real life know how rare that is.

Frizz loves to give kisses...just LOOK AT HER!! Gah I love it

Frizz loves to give kisses…just LOOK AT HER!! Gah I love it

ALSO I have an update for you! in my last post I told you all about how I was a beast and put up my curtains. Well I totally jazzed them up and now they’re AWESOME!

lights

Sunday Funday

So turns out that I wrote the majority of all my blog posts while I was wasting away of boredom at my old job. Now that I have a new job I have way way less free time lol. But I have a moment now so I figured I’d slap something up.

I had a fairly whirlwind weekend this past weekend…which was a nice change of pace. On Saturday afternoon my bestie and I went to this cool terrarium making party at a local glass shop where she blows glass (I hang with a talented crew lol). We got to make wet and dry terrariums. NOTE: every single time I think or say terrarium I confuse it with a house for spiders…I think they sound the same). Anyhow–I was pumped because a wet terrarium is essentially creating a Jurassic Park type scene in a jar! Spoilers mine has a pterodactyl in it! Boom.

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It was our other friend K’s birthday this weekend so we had some extra fun activities planned. We spent a fun hour kayaking on the Charles River. It was a murky chilly type day but it was really fun.

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We couldn’t really continue the party because we all soaking wet, but a bunch of us met up later that night to eat tacos and watch Game of Thrones. My contribution was cupcakes. But not just any old cupcakes…these were the stuff 90s kids dreams are made of. They were vanilla cupcakes with purple frosting and pop rocks on top! You can hear them snap crackle and pop on you plate…and then comes that creepy-but-awesome blitzkrieg of pop that happens the second they hit your mouth lol. They were really fun!

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Overall, it was a solid weekend with my lady pals 🙂

Birthday Cake the Classy Way

So it was recently my college roommates birthday (Happy Birthday Girl!!). My friend C and I decided to make dinner for her, so I offered to make a cake…because as you know, I love birthdays. (Evidence here, here, and here).

I decided to make something from scratch so I searched the interwebs for a recipe I thought was worthy. It didn’t take long to find a good one.

Dry Ingredients

 

Melt the butter, cocoa, and water

Melt the butter, cocoa, and water

How you make buttercream

How you make buttercream

Batter

So the batter is a little more liquid than boxed cake, but I think its because its a fudge cake.

I only have one cake pan….and I thought the batter would all fit. Turns out there’s more than I thought….so rather than double the bake time by using the same pan (no thanks) I had an epiphany. I noticed that a bunt pan is the same circumference! I decided to use my one cake pan and the bunt pan…which would make for a fun layer cake.

Funfetti Frosting Layer...Layer of Champions

Funfetti Frosting Layer…Layer of Champions

Frosted with Vanilla Frosting

Frosted with Vanilla Frosting

30 Minute Chocolate Fudge Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
1 cup water
3 Tbs cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk***
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. In a sauce pan mix cocoa, butter, and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Mix into the dry ingredients. Mix well, once cooled slightly add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 20 mins.

***I made buttermilk by taking just under 1/2 cup milk and adding 1/2 Tbs of lemon juice. Let sit for a couple minutes…and BOOM buttermilk.

Photo by Jenn Sheehan :)

Photo by Jenn Sheehan 🙂

See….it’s a cool effect. If there had been a little more time I would have filled the whole with something…a cupcake, fruit…something. But for this time I left it open.

I did make a fun decorative banner to top the cake though. Here’s how you do it.

What You’ll Need:

fun paper (I used scrapbook paper
skewers
dental floss

Cut out some triangles

Cut out some triangles

I started by folding the edge of the paper over, and cut small triangles.

Then I cut a length of dental floss and tried it to the skewers.

To attach the triangles, I put a dab of glue and placed them over the floss (the glue makes it so they stay). Let it dry and BOOM classy cake decor.

A Birthday Surprise…The Easy Way

So you may recall from some of my earlier posts that I love birthdays. I love making birthday treats. Sometimes though, it can be a pain in the a**. For the most part I like things simple. Which is why I really don’t mind using boxed cake mix and store bought frosting as a base (with some exceptions obviously) because you can do lots of things to make your biz unique.

This time around, I was even lazier (and a little bit poorer) than usual. Two of my co-worker pals happen to have the same birthday. So clearly I was going to make them a treat. Things I did not have/ did not feel like buying: eggs and oil. Usually those two guys are pretty essential for a box mix. Not anymore.

All this cake needs is the mix from the box and 10 oz of soda! BOOM. Stupid easy right?! Eggs Schmeggs man.

It looks really cool when you mix in the soda. NOTE: I used Sprite because I was making a white/yellow cake. If you’re making a chocolate or dark cake you can use a darker soda. Or be cool kid and mix like orange soda with a light cake. It also is a big cut to the calories of the cake.

It bakes up nice and fluffy…and you cook it per box instructions…so like 30 mins on 350.

Now my friend T is real into Nutella. She loves it. So since it is part her birthday I decided to make a Nutella frosting. I didn’t really have the time or funds to buys the ingredients for a butter cream from scratch so I checked the interwebs and found a cheat option. Mix a store bought white frosting with an equal part nutella. Its a little thick so I also added some milk to make it smoother. Eye ball that because it will vary based on amount of frosting and the consistency you’re looking for.

Then all that’s left is to frost your biz. The frosting is a little different consistency wise because of the Nutella so its a little thicker, but more durable than regular frosting. When I say durable I mean that should you say.. accidentally slide the finished cake into your electric kettle it really doesn’t even make a dent.

So I wanted to write on the cake. In the end I remembered that I had icing for this exact purpose. However, before my brain started working I attempted to whip up some colored icing to write on the cake…and totally failed and made a big mess lol. I attached a photo so we can all laugh and judge me together lol.

Long story short: Happy Birthday Louis and Tessa (who unfortunately ended up calling in sick and won’t get to eat cake with us 😦  )

Things I Love: Celebrating Birthdays

Lately, I’ve found that I’m super into birthdays….not my own birthday really, but helping others celebrate theirs. I don’t really know why that is, but I’m ok with it. So when party plans for my friend Dana’s birthday started taking shape I got got really pumped. My other friend C and her roommate J have a special talent for party throwing, so I figured the best way for me to contribute to the festivities was to make the cake. Plus, I the only thing better than baking is baking for an occasion 🙂

So I tried to sneak some cake preferences out of Dana but I’m just not smooth like that. My go to line is: “So if on you’re birthday your mom told you she got your favorite cake, what kind of cake is she talking about?”–I know, I know…reallllll smooth. Turns out Dana’s mom would be referring to a vanilla cake with rainbow chip icing. NOTE: I said rainbow chip NOT funfetti. There is a difference.

The best news came a few days later when Dana told me that her favorite color is…wait for it…RAINBOW. BOOM. Best.News.Ever. You guys may remember my previous post about tie dye cupcakes. I decided that I absolutely needed to make a tie dye layer cake with rainbow chip icing.

My brain wasn’t ready to stop at just rainbow cake. It was Dana’s birthday after all, I could do more. I decided that I needed to add rainbow sprinkles to the sides. I have no idea how to go about doing that so I YouTube tutorialed it (do it) and leaned how. Turns out its actually a really doable thing. You kind of just throw the sprinkles at the sides. It makes a complete mess but its really fun.

While I was learning how to do the sprinkle thing I saw a cool video on how to make this funky tie dye frosting too! Which made for a cool edge to the cake. A while back I bought this cool frosting pump/cake decorator thing from the Target Dollar Spot, so in my mind I had everything I needed to complete this cake. So I used my cool new frosting technique and set it all up in the pump and then FAIL. The thing EXPLODES and covers my hands with purple frosting. I totally froze…there was just frosting all over me. Luckily I had a friend with me who could 1. take a commemorative photo and 2. hand me a zip lock bag so I could make my own pastry bag and finish the cake. The end result was pretty cool though.

Everyone at the party loved the cake. Another of Dana’s friend’s brought that CRAZY candle that starts off like a big sparkler and then upfolds into this lily type flower covered in birthday candles. It was really cool (and at first really startling) the watch.

All in all, everyone had a blast at the party. We ate some rainbow cake, drank some Smash Juice, played a little tambourine, and danced the night away! Kudos to C and J for throwing an epic bash 🙂