Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Monogrammed Serving Platter (wedding gift idea)

I used the same technique described in this post but I did a serving platter with the bride and groom's last initial on it. I didn't have a stencil or a silhouette (which would have made it easier) so I improvised.

I printed 3 different fonts/images from my computer and tried them all out to decide which one I would use. Then i cut out the one I wanted with an exacto knife, taped it on with thin strips of masking tape, and used the ceramic paint pen to roughly outline my letter.

Then I removed the letter and filled it in with my pen. I prefer the paint but I only had the pen this time. Both have their pros and cons and can be used together. Then I cleaned up the edges with a toothpick and baked it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Homemade Poppy Seed Fruit Salad Dressing

I've recently become a big fan of making my own salad dressing. It's really easy and I like that you can adapt the flavor to whatever you want or whatever fruit you have on hand. I also like that it makes a fairly small batch that you can easily use up if you have lots of people at the table or use up within a few days. This is my optimized recipe inspired from here. Picture shown has blackberries. Please read notes marked with asterix before making this recipe!

1/3 cup fruit juice or 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries*
1 T vinegar** 
2 T sugar***
3/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 t onion (or small chunk of onion) 
2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp minced from a jar)
1/4 cup canola oil

2 t poppy seeds

Mix first set of ingredients in blender or food processor until everything is pureed and well mixed. Strain seeds if necessary and add more sugar, vinegar, or salt to taste. Stir in poppy seeds. 

Store in refrigerator and use within a week.  

* I have used lemon juice, lime juice, fresh pomegranate juice, fresh apple juice, peaches, mangos, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. If you use a fruit with lots of little seeds (like blackberries) you will need to strain it before adding the sugar. If you use juice your dressing will be thin, if you use fresh fruit it will be thicker and more like what you would find in a store bought bottle (you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to thin it out). I also found that with fresh fruit the oil in the dressing didn't separate out right away.

** I prefer using white vinegar. I have tried red wine and rice but I think they are too strong. 

*** I add more sugar depending on the sweetness off the juice/fruit (may need up to 1/2 cup if using lemon or lime juice)

Monday, February 10, 2014

DIY Edible Cake Paint (and how to make a dump truck cake)

I love decorating cakes but I don't love making many different colors of frosting because one it is a pain, and two, it's hard to get the colors correct and dark enough without using the expensive dyes made specifically for frosting. I also do not like fondant. So I invented my own cake paint and it's super easy and costs almost nothing. You only need three ingredients - powdered sugar, food coloring, and water.

I just put about 1-3 teaspoons of powdered sugar in a little glass cup, added a few drops of food coloring and stirred with a paint brush. Then I added a drop or two of water to thin it out. You want it thin enough to paint but not too thin or it will run, basically about the consistency of acrylic paint, but maybe just a touch thinner. If it is too thin just add a pinch or two of powdered sugar. Then just paint it onto your frosting with paintbrushes.

I made black with a red, green, and blue. Just test the color on a white sheet of paper before you paint your cake.

I frosted my entire cake white and then painted the red and yellow and black. Then with the rest of my frosting I made it yellow and used my piping bag and tips for the stripes and accents (using this amazing technique to fill the piping bag). I needed about 1.5 batches of frosting (buttercream recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook).

I used a toothpick to draw on the white frosting so that I knew where to paint. If you mess up with the toothpick just run a butter knife in warm water and smooth it out and do it over again.

To make the dump truck cake (I got my inspiration for this cake here) I used 1 cake mix divided between a regular bread pan and a mini loaf pan. I leved the top of the big one to make it flat and just cut the ends off the mini loaf so that it was the same width as the bottom of the truck. I left the round top on the mini loaf. I used the cookie part of oreos to make the dirt and mini chocolate donuts for the wheels. The entire cake cost me less than 5 dollars to make.

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