Chocolate Cookie Cake

 

oreo cake

My mom had her 80th birthday a couple of weeks ago. She wasn’t too keen on celebrating the fact she was turning 80 and wanted this birthday, to just “slide by” but the kids and I wanted to do something to make it a special day for her. So we made her a chocolate cookie cake!

The layers of this moist cake are covered with bits of chocolate sandwich cookies…

oreo cake

And then can be frosted with your favorite white icing…

oreo cake

We topped off our cake by serving it with mint chocolate chip ice cream and a few candles on top. The kids were pondering counting out 80 candles but eventually decided on 8 candles, one for each decade we have been so blessed to have her with us!

Happy Birthday, Mom! We love you so much…  :)

 Chocolate Cookie Cake

Sift together into a large mixing bowl…

3 c flour

6 T cocoa powder

2 t baking soda

1 t salt

1 ¾ c sugar

 

Then, pour in…

2 c cold water

¾ c vegetable oil

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons white distilled vinegar

Mix well. Line 2 – 8 inch round cake pans with aluminum foil and spray with baking spray. Pour batter evenly into the 2 pans. Then sprinkle on top:

2 cups  coarsely chopped Oreo cookies ( this will take about 18 cookies)

Place the pans into a 350 degree oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake.

Bring the edges of the foil over and down, around the edges of the baked cake. Place another piece of foil or waxed paper on top of the cake, followed by a dish towel and then let the cake completely cool down.

When cake has cooled completely, remove the baked layers from their pans and peel off  the foil. You will be left with a beautiful, moist and chocolate-y cake!…

oreo cake

 

Berry Patriotic!…

july 4 th dessert Okay,  all you strawberries…stand at attention!…

patriotic desserts

Straight lines now…

red, white and blue dessert

Heh! You in the front line…no leaning!…

patriotic strawberries

That’s better…

chocolate filled strawberries July 4th Want to have some fun with fresh strawberries this 4th of July? Have your strawberries “stand at attention” by sticking them onto toothpicks that have been inserted into an easy-to-make decorative foam platter! Your guests can pick out their favorite star-studded strawberry and then just slide it off without any fear of knocking the other berries over.

Who wouldn’t love a red ripe strawberry presented this way, filled with white chocolate cream and topped with a blue chocolate star on the 4th of July?  ;)

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Items needed:

12- inch disc of styrofoam – 1 inch thick

Decorative ribbon ( 1inch wide)…

patriotic ribbon

Parchment paper

Toothpicks

Stick pins…

stick pins

Small star-shaped cookie cutter

6-inch shallow clay disc…

Hot glue gun

Fresh strawberries

Ingredients for White Chocolate Cream Recipe (recipe below)…

Velvet Red Fondant recipe and ingredients (you will be substituting blue confectionary wafers and frosting for the red, called for in the recipe) This recipe will make considerably more fondant than you will need for making the stars. Unless you are making a very large number of stars, you may want to half the recipe…

Making the Blue Chocolate Stars…

Prepare one recipe of Velvet Red Fondant according to the directions (click here for the recipe) but substitute blue wafers and blue decorator’s frosting for the red wafers and frosting called for in the recipe.

**For my stars,  I added some Royal Blue powdered coloring and some Violet Purple food coloring paste to the fondant  so that it would become more of a navy blue color…

Let the fondant sit for 24 hours for easier handling…

After the fondant has sat for 24 hours and has become very hard, break off a chunk and begin kneading it to soften it…

Dust a smooth rolling surface with cornstarch…

cornstarch for fondant

Place some fondant on the surface and puff with just a light dusting of cornstarch…

Roll it out until you reach the desired thickness of your stars ( I made mine about an 1/8 inch thick)…

Take a pastry scraper and slide it underneath the fondant to loosen it from the bottom…

Lightly reroll over it again to smooth it down. Take a pastry brush and brush off all excess cornstarch from the fondant’s surface.

Take your star cutter and cut out the shapes..

Place them on a smooth surface that has been dusted with cornstarch…

Decorate the stars with red and white frosting and sugars…

 Preparing the serving “plate”…

Take your ribbon and wrap it around the outer edge of the foam disc and overlap it by about 1-1/2  inches…

Trim it off and set this aside…

Place the foam disc on a piece of parchment paper…

 Then with a pencil, draw a line about ¾ of an inch out from the foam’s edge, and draw around the disc…

You should now have a circle drawn around the foam that is slightly larger than the foam disc…

 

Cut out the parchment circle…

Lay the  parchment circle on top of the disc, lining it up so that it is centered over the disc…

Stick a toothpick into the middle to secure the paper to the foam so that it doesn’t shift around…

Begin folding down the edges of the parchment paper and place the ribbon over the parchment . Secure the ribbon to the paper ( and to the foam)  with stick pins…

july 4th craftsContinue folding down the parchment paper, wrapping the ribbon and sticking in the pins until the edge has been completely covered around the disc…

Remove the toothpick from the center and tip the “platter” upside down…

Tip the clay dish upside down and put some hot glue around the edges…

Center the clay dish on top of the foam platter…


And then tip right-side up to cool…

Gluing this dish onto the bottom of the foam disc not only makes the platter easier to pick up, it adds weight to the foam platter so that it makes it easier to pull off the berries…

** If I am planning on making a lot of the filled strawberries for my guests, I make a second foam platter that is undecorated – and minus the clay dish. This way I can put the extra filled berries on the toothpicks and stick them in the refrigerator so that they are decorated and ready to go…ready to be placed on the decorated platter when the berry plate needs to be filled again. It is just less hassle than standing at the counter, filling and decorating strawberries during a party…  

White Chocolate Cream Filling…

Into a medium-sized heavy saucepan, put:

3 oz. cream cheese (or about a third of an 8 oz bar, reserve the rest)

3/4 c  heavy whipping cream

Over medium high heat, begin melting the cream cheese into the cream. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. When the cream starts to bubble, turn down the heat. (At this point, switch to stirring with a whisk. It will help break up the pieces of cream cheese) Stir until the mixture is smooth. Turn down the heat to low and then add:

1 heaping cup white confectionary wafers ( or white baking chips will work also)

Slowly stir until the wafers have been melted and the mixture is smooth. Use the whisk to whisk out any remaining tiny lumps of wafer or cream cheese.

Pour mixture into a bowl and place into the refrigerator to cool down…

To prepare the berries, core the strawberries using a sharp knife…

Begin sticking toothpicks into the foam platter and adding the berries as you go…

strawberries on tootpicks

After all the berries have been attached, finish making the whipped cream, by placing into a mixing bowl:

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

Beat until stiff peaks form. When the cream cheese mixture has completely cooled down and is cold, place the mixture into another mixing bowl and add the rest of the bar of cream cheese. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add the whipped cream and beat well, scraping the sides of the bowl often…

Place the whipped cream mixture into a large decorator’s bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the whipped cream into the berries…

pipe cream filling into strawberries

Swirl  a generous amount around the top of the berries and add a decorated star…

july 4th desserts

chocolate filled strawberriesIf your stars are very thick or it is very warm in your kitchen and your whipped cream seems too soft to hold the stars, try placing the filled strawberries into the refrigerator for awhile. When the whipped cream has firmed up a bit, garnish with the stars. Return the completed strawberries to the frig to remain cold until you are ready to serve them…

Happy 4th of July!!

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For another colorful way to celebrate the Red, White and Blue, please check out my post how to make this stunning jello poke Flag Cake…

It’s refreshing, yet dazzling as well…

flag cake

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My posting is going to be very erratic for the rest of the summer due to me working on some  fun and exciting floral cookie bouquets coming out later on this Fall! If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, now might be a nice time to subscribe… especially if you don’t want to miss out on the latest floral cookie bouquet creation this summer! :)

Happy Summer to you!…

Bing Balls

Valentine cherry cake pops Why not give your sweetie one of these little delights on a stick – “Bing Balls”!

They start out with a sweet cherry pink candy center and then you dip them twice into melted chocolate and then roll them in coarsely chopped cocktail peanuts! They are like a Bing Cherry Bar only on a stick! Seems like we are putting everything on a stick these days, why leave out the Bing Cherry Bar?  Yum Yum…   :)

And if you don’t  care for peanuts or are allergic, skip the nuts and go for the gusto! -  dip them three times into the chocolate! Seriously, is there anything as too much chocolate??

pink cake balls for Valentine's day Bing Balls

Melt in a medium-sized saucepan:

      1/4 c salted butter

Then add:

      1 cup granulated sugar

      1/3 cup evaporated milk ( NOT sweetened condensed milk)

      1/8 teas salt

      6 large marshmallows

Stir and bring to a boil. GENTLY boil for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and add:

      2 teas cherry extract

      1 cup red candy coating wafers

Stir occasionally until the wafers have completely melted. Pour the mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper to cool down. When the mixture has cooled and has started to “set up”,  start kneading it and begin forming it into little balls ( about 3/4 inch). Place the balls on a cookie sheet that has been covered with waxed or parchment paper. Place the balls into the refrigerator until they are firm.

Meanwhile, melt:

      1 Tablespoon red candy coating wafers

Dip a skewer into the melted wafers and then insert the skewer into one of the balls ( stick the skewer in only about halfway. Be careful not to push it clear through the ball) Place the skewered balls back into the refrigerator. Meanwhile, in a small heavy saucepan, melt over low heat:

      1 cup or so semi-sweet chocolate chips

      1/3 cup peanut butter

This amount may vary depending on how many times you are going to dip the balls. You can always melt more if needed…  Dip the skewered balls into the chocolate mixture so that the chocolate is covering not only the balls but a little of the skewer as well….

Stick the skewered dipped balls into a chunk of plasticwrap-covered styrofoam to firm up. Place them back into the refrigerator until chocolate has firmed up and then dip them again. Then roll them in:

      1 cup or so coarsely chopped cocktail peanuts

When the chocolate has firmed up, it is time to take a bite…or two… :) 

valentine candy bouquets

 

 

 

 

Cherry Walnut Popcorn

walnuts

Oh, this is soooooo good, almost too good, it’s hard to stop with just a few pieces! Cherry Walnut Popcorn is filled with toasted walnuts, dried cherries, a buttery cherry-flavored caramel…

cherry caramel

And chunks of red chocolate-covered dried cherries!…

chocolate covered dried cherriescherry popcornCherry Walnut Popcorn

Into a very large bowl put:

      6 cups air-popped popcorn

      1/2 c dried cherries, sliced into thin strips ( using a clean scissors works best)

      1 c toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Toss. Meanwhile, into a heavy medium-sized saucepan put:

       1/2 c butter

       1/2 c granulated sugar

       1/2 teas salt

       1/4 c light corn syrup

Gently boil for 5 minutes. Turn down heat to low and then add:

       1 teas cherry extract

Stir and add:

       1/2 teas baking soda

Stir well. Pour the mixture over the popcorn, cherries and walnuts. Mix just until combined. Then sprinkle over the top:

      1 Tablespoon powdered butter sprinkles ( optional, but it adds a little extra buttery salty flavor! :)  )

Mix, then gently stir in:

      1 c coarsely chopped red chocolate-covered dried cherries

Don’t overstir or the chocolate will completely melt off the cherries. Spread the popcorn out over a cookie sheet and let it completely cool and firm up.  Enjoy!

 

 

Frozen grape salad…

sunflowersI’m originally from a small rural community in northeast Nebraska and this time of year always makes me homesick for my little hometown. It’s nearing county fair time and the fair always reminds of beanwalking. ( In case you have never heard of “beanwalking”,  it’s where a person walks through a field of soybeans and takes a hoe or corn knife and cuts out the weeds )

It’s a hard, buggy and very dirty job and it’s strange when I think of my experience with it when I was growing up. I would expect to feel a sense of relief that I never have to do it again. But you know, around this time of year,  I actually  get the yearning to go back to the beanfields!

Now , don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish for the experience with the all the bugs. I swear there was every shape, size and color of bug out there that just seemed to wait and then jump! out at me when I least expected it.  I don’t miss those bugs, but what I do miss is the feeling of being out in the fields…

Watching the sun come up…

early sunrise

sunrise

Even the weeds out there can look beautiful in the morning light…

wild flower

weed

Back when I was in high school, the whole beanwalking experience would start off this way…

The phone would ring and  our hearts would sink as we’d hear Mom say, “Beanwalking? Well sure!  The kids would love to help out. What? Sure…they’ll be there at 4:30 a.m. and ready to go!”

So before dawn, we’d get ready and ride out to the beanfields. When we would get out of the car, the air would be thick with that heavenly  moist smell of damp earth, weeds and alfafa. We would stand outside the car, look out across the beanfield we were going to conquer that day and then… the part I hated most began, climbing over the barbed wire fence to get into the field!

soybeans

 

For some reason, I could never get over the fence without ripping my pants on the barbed wire. It was such a common occurence I could feel the hesitation of the leader as he would pause to hold the wire down so that I could swing my leg over the fence. It was almost like he was thinking “okay…wait for it…”   Rip. Okay, now her leg is over the fence, the whole group can get into the field.

 All a person could hear out there were the birds singing… or maybe the faint sound of a tractor in the distance…or one of  my favorite sounds, even to this day – the rustling sound corn leaves make when there is a breeze..

cows

 

wildflowers

grass

 

When bean plants are small and about knee high, it’s easy to spot the weeds and the beans are easy to walk through but when they get tall…

soybeans

…they become very difficult to walk through. When they are as high as your waist, the beans will start to lay down and sort of grow together so you will literally have to begin pulling yourself through the rows of beans as you walk. You can’t see your feet or what you are stepping on or tripping over underneath the beans…

windmill

storm clouds

One year, it rained and rained. When the fields were relativey “dry” , we ventured out. Every step we took, we could feel the suction of the mud pulling on our legs and feet. By the time we reached the end of the rows, our shoes and pants were so caked with mud we couldn’t even see our shoes, they were literally just big round balls of mud!

 In fact, one time we all sat down on break and laughed when we noticed how incredibly dirty we were. ” I can’t even see my shoes!” someone commented and then someone replied ” Yah, I can’t see my shoes either, wait – ” and he wiggled his feet, ” I think my shoes are gone…” He scraped the thick cake of mud from his feet and said “Yep, they’re  gone!”  

Sometimes we would be invited to a farmplace for lunch and that would be such a treat after being out in the stiffling hot beanfield. I always enjoyed the drives up the long lanes to the farmhouses. It always seemed so peaceful…

lane

Once we reached the house, there may have been a cat or two to greet us by showing off his excellent claw sharpening skills…

cat

cat

…or a beautiful garden filled with flowers and vegetables…

pink flowers

red flowers

 But one thing was for certain, if we were going to be served a lunch, there was no doubt it was going to be an awesome meal!  My favorite thing was a frozen salad. Nothing could top that after being out in the hot sun all morning…

 So today, I thought I’d share a recipe for a frozen grape salad! This salad doesn’t have to be served frozen, but in the summer, it can be a real treat served that way!

Frozen Grape salad

Wash and dry:

      4 cups red (or green) seedless grapes

Place a clean dish towel on a cookie sheet and then pour the dry grapes  on the towel, spread them out  and freeze until firm. ( Freezing them on the towel prevents them from freezing to each other or onto the cookie sheet)

Into a  large mixing bowl place:

      1 c sour  cream

      1/4 c brown sugar

      2 teas maple flavoring

Whisk until smooth and the sugar has melted. Add the frozen grapes and gently stir until the grapes have been coated. Serve in about 10 minutes, this will give the grapes a little time to thaw so that it will be easier eating them…

You can also spoon the coated frozen grapes into little plastic cups and return them to the freezer. About 15 minutes before you are going to serve them, take them out of the freezer. Then add a sprig of fresh mint and/or sprinkle toasted chopped pecans over the top as a garnish…

Whether you spoon the frozen grapes into beautiful martini glasses or pre-make them in plastic cups, these grapes make a lovely salad, appetizer or even a cool refreshing dessert for a hot summer’s day…

Malted Coconut Cookies

blue bellsThe other day, it was just beautiful outside so I was having a “quiet” moment sitting out in my garden. My husband and our daughter were gone for the afternoon so our little son and I decided to spend our time together in the backyard.

He loves to water my flowers. So it being a rather hot day, I let him loose with the hose. Ummm… a 3 year old with a garden hose all to himself. You can probably imagine what went on!  A few of the flowers got watered and everything else, well…got rinsed off…pretty well.

blue bells

blue bellsDo the flowers remind you of little umbrellas? I think they do…

One summer while A. (our son)was playing with an umbrella, E. ( our daughter) was filling the blow up pool with water. One accidental squirt of water next to A. with the umbrella, and it started something…
While A. stood in the pool holding the umbrella, E. rained water down on him! And you can imagine all the squeals and laughter that went along with that fun!

Isn’t funny how kids can have so much fun doing the simplest things? Now, if my husband was standing in the pool holding an umbrella while I was shooting him with the hose, I wonder if he’d be squealing with laughter? Well, then again… maybe he would! :)

Malted Coconut Cookies

Into a  mixing bowl place:

      1/2 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening

      1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

      2 eggs

      2 Tablespoons milk

      1 Tablespoon molasses

      1 teas vanilla extract

      1 teas coconut flavoring

Beat this until creamy. Sift together:

      2 – 3/4 cups of flour

      1/2  cup chocolate malted milk powder

      1 teas salt

      1- 1/2  teas baking powder

      1/2 teas baking soda

Add this to the creamed mixture and beat well. Then, into a food processor place:

      2 cups of malted milk balls

Process until the balls are about the size of peas. Pour this into the above mixture. Then put into the empty bowl of the food processor:

      2 cups flaked coconut

and process until the coconut has been reduced in size ( I do this so that my kids don’t recognize the coconut in the cookies – so you can skip this part if you wish…) Pour the coconut into the above mixture and then beat until combined. The dough will appear dry and crumbly. Form into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes. The cookies are done when small little cracks appear on the tops. Do not overbake. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies. When they are cool, place them in an air tight container to keep them nice and chewy…

Love is…blue!

 

Iris

 

 

 

Blue irises…these were so pretty, I got up one morning at the crack of dawn to get some photos for you…

Iris, spring flowers, blue flowerLooking at these beautiful flowers in the morning could help anyone’s day start off right…

iris, spring flowers,

iris

iris I was trying to think of the perfect recipe to give you that would stick to my “theme” of the color blue and early morning…

So how about a recipe for Blueberry Orange Coffecake? It makes a deliciously moist coffeecake but you know, I have also taken the batter and poured it into cupcake pans to make muffins in the morning! ( I double the topping recipe when I do this)

In any form and at any time, breakfast or maybe just for a snack, this recipe will make a yummy addition to your day! :)

Blueberry Orange Coffeecake

Sift into a large mixing bowl:

      2 cups flour

      1 cup sugar

      1 T baking powder

      1/2 teas baking soda

      1/2 teas salt

      1/2 teas cinnamon

Set aside. Then into a small mixing bowl place:

      2 eggs

Beat slightly then add:

       1 T orange flavored extract

      1/3 c freshly squeezed orange juice

       1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

      1 cup commercial sour cream

      1 teas grated orange peel

Mix well. Add to the above dry mixture and mix just until combined. Then stir in:

      1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed, drained blueberries

Pour batter into a sprayed 10 inch springform pan. Then sprinkle with the following topping:

Topping:

Into a small bowl place:

      1/4 cup flour

      1/4 cup sugar

      1/2 teas cinnamon

       3 T softened butter

Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over batter. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, cut around the edges then release it.  Let cool.