recipes

Star Wars Birthday Cake

I have never been much of a cake decorator. I lack the patience and the finesse to do all of the really cool things that real bakers manage to do with frosting and fondant.

But,¬†even though I’ll never be a guest on Cake Boss or a contestant on Cupcake Wars, I still like to try and make people feel special on their birthday. And this year, my friend was really into the new Star Wars movie, so I thought that would be a good theme.

So…if you’re here because you aren’t much of a cake decorator either but you have a Star Wars fan in your life, I have good news for you:

This was super easy to make, even for me (not a baker of any sorts), and I actually managed to throw it together in a few hours.

(Somewhat detailed instructions are below the pictures)

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INSTRUCTIONS
(kind of vague because I did this months ago…but I’ll do my best)


Materials

Two sizes of round cake pans
-Cake mix.
– Buttercream icing
-Black fondant.
-Frosting sheets (it’s like edible paper that you can cut out)
-Cake board
-Wood dowels, or premade cake supports
-Candles
-Small amount of black frosting
-Toys ūüôā

Step 1: Bake the Cakes

Again, I’m not a baker. So I use cake mix. You can make it from scratch, but you don’t want your cakes to be too soft.

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You need two cakes of each size. And the top one is pink because I’m pretending it’s strawberry.

Don’t fill the cake pans like you would if you were just making a single round; you’re going to stack them, so you want them a bit thin.

Once they’re done baking, let them cool completely. I know this is hard if you lack patience (like me), but it’s important.

 

After they have cooled, stick them in the freezer for a while.
About an hour worked for me, but longer would be even better.

Step 2: Put the Layers Together

Once they are hard-ish from the freezer, you need to trim/stack them.

First, you need to cut off the top of one of the small rounds and one of the larger rounds – the goal is to make them flat so you can sit the other one on top.

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Put a heavy layer of buttercream frosting on the part you just shaved down and place the other round of the same size on top.

 

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I didn’t put cake boards between these…but you can if you’re really concerned about stability of the cakes.

 

Now you need to make sure the rounds “fit together”, so shave the edges so that the cakes are round and have a flat edge.

You should now have a larger cake and a smaller cake round.

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Cut your cake board to be the same size as the smaller round, and place the small cake on the board.

Place your dowels/supports through the bottom layer – 2 or 3 to support the cake you’re going to place on top.

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Step 3: Frost and Fondant

Frost both cakes with a generous amount of buttercream frosting, especially the smaller one for the top.

Now you need to roll out the black fondant – there should be instructions on the package. Basically, you roll it out like pizza dough. Then you fit it over the smaller cake. This blog does an excellent job explaining how to do fondant (better than I can explain…)

http://sugarcoatedchronicle.blogspot.com/2010/09/perfect-fondant-tips-for-covering-cake.html

You’ll also use the leftover fondant to cut out the storm troopers face and place it on the bottom layer.

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I also got “fancy” and did frosting stars to cover the bottom – this is probably unnecessary, but it looked pretty.

Step 4: Stack

This is pretty simple. You put the little cake on top of the big cake.

Step 5: Finish Decorating

I cut out the letters/stars from frosting paper – a little water makes them bond nicely to the fondant.

I also “stuck” the toys on top with black icing.

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pepperoni pizza bread

Snow Day!

Which, in my crazy life, just means that I get a day to do things that normal people do on a regular basis. Like cook ūüôā

I had a couple recipes up my sleeve that I had been wanting to try out, so I took the opportunity. The first of these was a spinach dip, and the second was this pizza bread.

I’ll be honest:¬†I had no idea what I was doing when I made this one up.
But I have had it at a lot of parties with friends, and it’s always awesome…

This is kind of a quick-and-dirty, I-have-no-desire-to-make-dough, version.

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Ingredients

  • 1 large french baguette
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1 – 2 cloves of garlic (depends on how much you like garlic)
  • Small jar of pizza sauce (you won’t even use it all)
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • 5 oz. pepperoni
  • Fresh parsley (optional)
  • Dried oregano (optional)

 

1. Slice the baguette into small pieces.

I didn’t get out a measuring stick of anything, but I would say that these are about 1/2 inch wide. The thinner the better…but not too thin, or else they’ll be flimsy and mushy.

2. Melt butter (with garlic)

I absolutely despise mincing garlic, so I used the stuff out of a jar. But, as always, fresh tastes better…so if you don’t have an aversion to the task, I recommend starting from scratch.

Just slowly melt the 1/3 cup of butter in the microwave and add the garlic…Then stir!

3. Brush Garlic-Butter on Both Sides of Baguette Slices

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Don’t drown the bread or anything – just lightly brush each side.

Also, don’t use¬†all of the butter. You’ll need some later in the recipe.

 

 

4. Add Toppings to Each Piece of Bread

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First, put just a drop of sauce on each piece.

Again – not drowning the bread in pizza sauce!

You know those annoying sour cream commercials back in the day? “Do a dollop of Daisy…”

Well, just do a dollop of pizza sauce.

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The next step is the cheese.

I love cheese, so I put as much as possible.

Use your discretion.

 

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Finally, add the pepperoni.

 

 

 

5.¬†Make “Stacks” & Put Stacks in the Pan

Whether you think this is self-explanatory, or you think it’s super hard, you’re wrong.

It’s not super difficult, but it does take some finesse.

Make small stacks and place them in the dish –
you may have to add pieces to the stacks to make them fight “tightly”.

Then, do the same thing across the pan until it’s full.

This may require some squishing. That’s totally fine. Squish away.

6. Cover with Foil and Bake

First, brush the remaining garlic butter over the top of the dish. Then cover.

Bake until the visible cheese has melted – in my oven, that was about 20 minutes.

7. Remove Foil, Sprinkle with Oregano & Parsley

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It doesn’t take much, and it’s not necessary, but sprinkling the fresh parsley really dresses up this otherwise super-simple dish.

And it smells good.

8. Bake for another 10 Р15 minutes, or until the top looks brown and crunchy.

 

And that’s it! Pull apart pieces of the bread and enjoy!

30 minute spinach dip

This is one of my all-time favorite foods that I order when I go out to eat, but sometimes…my couch, a bottle of wine, and my favorite TV shows sound much nicer than paying $50 for a meal and dealing with rude waitresses.

I read up on a bunch of recipes, and they all sounded just a little to the left of what I like. So I decided to compile the common themes across recipes, add a few twists, and make my own version. It turned out pretty well…And went well with our couch, a few beers (we were out of wine), a fire in the hearth, and my puppy at my feet.

Prep Time: 5 minutes (depending on your onion-chopping speed)
Cook Time: 15 Р20 minutes

Total Time:¬†Shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. If it does, you’re not doing it right.

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (I used the stuff that comes in a jar, but we all know that fresh is always better…so if you’re motivated to mince some garlic, do it!)
  • 1 –¬†1.5 tablespoons of olive oil¬†
  • 10 oz. of frozen spinach (thawed, drained, and dried as well as you can -I’ve concluded it’s impossible to get that stuff totally dry)
  • 8 oz. of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Pita bread (or some other kind of dipper/chip/whatever)

 

1. Heat olive oil over medium; saute onions and garlic

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I’m as far from a “real” cook as it gets, so I would say that you know these are ready when…

a) the onions appear soft and flimsy,
b) everything looks darker but not burnt, and
c) it smells good (not like raw onions and potent garlic).

The pros would probably say “saute until golden brown and aromatic.”

Same thing, right?

 

2. Add spinach; continue to saute until everything is fully mixed

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I’m not going to lie: thawed out, frozen spinach¬†looks and smells disgusting.¬†I promise it gets better.

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‚Üź Stir this, and keep the heat at the same setting.

And in the words of Dory,¬†just keep stirring, just¬†keep stirring…

Seriously though, spinach is one of those foods that sticks in just seconds.

Eventually, when it looks something like this →
you can call it good.¬†Don’t overcook it.¬†

 

3. Add cream cheese, milk, Parmesan, and mayonnaise

Hint:¬†Soften the cream cheese a bit in the microwave first. It’ll make things easier.
Also, I used mayonnaise made with olive oil. I don’t know if it matters, but it made sense to me because it’s consistent with the rest of the recipe.

Here’s some more advice you can take or leave:

You’re cooking something that includes¬†cream cheese, milk, cheese, and mayonnaise.
I don’t care how many “non-fat” or “reduced fat” labels you throw in the mix,
this is NOT going to be a healthy dish.

So if you’re going to do it, do the damn thing and use regular cream cheese, whole milk, and so on.¬†You won’t increase¬†the level of unhealthy that much by doing so
(it’s going to be unhealthy no matter what…at least it has spinach?),
but you will notice that it tastes a whole lot better.

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‚Üź Now, it’s going to look ugly when you first put it all together…

Once the Parmesan melts, lower the heat a little bit.
Cook, stirring constantly (seriously. This isn’t one of those recipes that just says that – keep stirring),¬†until there are no chunks of cream cheese left.

 

4. Serve with Warm Pita Points

I just took some round pieces of pita, threw them on a warm skillet for about 30 seconds on each side, and then cut into triangles.

Again, you can serve this with whatever you like – some people prefer chips. You might even notice that I also served it with this bagel crisp things I found at the grocery store, so really it’s just whatever blows your bubble.

Also…if you like a more “crunchy” spinach dip, you could probably throw this in a casserole dish and bake it at a relatively high temp (maybe 400?) to give it that crispy, brown outside.

And there you have it!
Quick, easy, and (in my biased opinion) pretty tasty.

Enjoy!