Monday, July 28, 2008

Cupcake Evolution

"Make cupcakes!" is a command often heard at my house. And since I have a sweet tooth too I make no objections to pulling out my muffin tin and plopping in a few cupcake papers. Last week I chose a recipe from Cooking Light entitled Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes. I substituted Key Lime zest and juice for the lemon but otherwise the recipe remained unaltered. My idea was to present summery light cupcakes topped with a real slice of tart key lime. So simple. So sophisticated. As you can see . . .

However . . . my son, Jonathan (age 4) promptly ripped off my lovely limes and demanded sprinkles. Sprinkles are an important affair in our house. They go on pancakes, ice cream, bagels, cereal, or can even be eaten as snacks unto themselves. So, sprinkles were selected.

As we were just finishing the last cupcakes, my son realized that the frosting I'd used (a delicious limey one by the way) was not dyed the blue he had originally desired. I'd hoped to get away without making any blue frosting. After all, the blue lips and tongue I get after eating anything blue do little to enhance my appearance! But since I had extra frosting we swirled some blue gel into the last of the icing. The boring white frosting was scraped off and replaced with the brilliant one. And the last of the sprinkles went on.

So, in my house . . . cupcakes often go through an evolution. From sophisticated to sprinkles to simply perfect for a preschooler!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Printable Frosting

Last summer, my son Sam asked for a marching band cake for his 3rd birthday. I had been eager to try a cake with the printable frosting that is available through most grocery store bakeries. It was pricey at my local Giant-Eagle with the printed sheet running about $8.00. So, I squeezed as much as I could onto one 7" x 10" sheet. I handed off my "art" to the lady in the bakery and the next day I picked up my printed frosting sheet. I carefully cut out all my marching band figures with an Exacto knife and had them ready to go once my cake was frosted. I gently pressed them onto the side of the wet frosted cake and used the blunt end of a fancy toothpick to press the edges neatly in. Sam loved the cake and each piece was served with a different marcher up the side.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Meet Mr. Rosemary

My first garden in Colorado is starting to come into its own. I delight in visiting it each day with my 2-year-old. We call the rosemary plant "Mr. Rosemary." We had friends over for shrimp and grits Saturday and I baked Rosemary Focaccia from the Moosewood Cookbook with the help of Mr. Rosemary, of course.

The recipe is super easy, and the smell of fresh, organic rosemary baking with the bread fills the house with pre-party excitement. My daughter helped set the table and we talked about sharing her toys with our friends' two boys. Then we looked at the just-baked focaccia. "Look, it has grass in it!" she squealed.

The beautiful flowers were a hostess gift from my guests. Mysti is a talented jewelry and flower designer.

Red, White, and Blueberry Popsicles

My son, Jonathan (age 4), loves those psychedelic popsicles filled with artificial sweeteners and colors. I try to get him to go the all-natural route but they just don't please him artistically. So, in the spirit of the 4th of July, I created some patriotic popsicles. I blitzed some strawberries with a tablespoon or two of sugar and poured a bit into some small plastic cups. After 30 minutes in the freezer I stuck some red, white, and blue coffee stirrers into the middle. The second layer was some organic nonfat vanilla yogurt plopped on top. Frozen again. Finally I whirled some wild Maine blueberries in the blender. No sugar needed for those. They were perfectly sweet! Once the popsicles were topped off, I slid them back into the freezer for one last time. When we took them out of their molds they were perfectly patriotic. And oh so good!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cookie Pizza

A few weeks ago, my son Sam (3) and I made sugar cookie pizzas. We rolled our our sugar cookie dough on a pizza stone and trimmed around a plate to get our circle. The pizza slice cuts were scored into the dough before cooking and then again immediately after we pulled it from the oven. The frosting sauce could have been more red, but we just didn't have enough food coloring gel to get it that dark. White ball sprinkles worked for the cheese, although shredded coconut or white chocolate would have looked nice, too. We sliced gummi fruit snacks for the pretend pepperoni and olives. Now when Sam asks for pizza for dinner, I have to clarify that he is not getting a big cookie for his meal.