Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Little Bit of Everything

Wow. What a weekend! Really, my weekend began last Thursday night and is just now slowing down. I can't believe today is already Wednesday...

What did I do during all of this time? Well, I baked 96 petit fours, iced 192 petit fours, baked and crumb-coated four cakes, covered and designed a two-tier graduation cake, made homemade fudge rounds (no joke), helped a precious friend with her son's graduation party and oh, drove to Atlanta for my second interview for a nanny position with the sweetest family ever. I just got back last night.

Did you get all that? I'm sure I forgot something. Here is what my aunt's countertop looked like Thursday night:


Oh, the bottle of Vodka you see there... it's homemade vanilla extract! DELICIOUS! Buy a bottle of Vodka, your choice, gather up some WHOLE vanilla beans (at least 10), pop'em in, and then store the bottle in a dark place for at least 3 weeks before using. It's incredible. Reuse the beans until you suck the life out of'em!

Now, that we have that squared away, let's start with these:

Petit Fours
First time to dive into little cake world. They are super easy to make, delicious, cute, BUT they do take a LOT of time to ice. Just grab a box of regular cake mix, and fix according to directions. The trick of the trade is this.... are you ready.... SIFT the mix before you proceed with the directions. That's right. Make that mix dance right outta the cardboard box. It made the batter SO smooth and a must for these sweet little pillows of yumminess. 

I bet you thought I was going to say "sweet little pillows of heaven." Sorry, kids. That high honor goes to gnocchi in my book. And I actually call them "little pockets of heaven." Mmmmm.....

Any-hoo.. So here are the two amazing recipes I used to ice the petit fours:

White Icing
3 Cups Powdered Sugar (Add more sugar to thicken) - Sifted
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Water (Add drops of water to thin, if your icing is too thick)
1 Tablespoon Corn Syrup
Food Coloring (Optional)

Mix it all up and get it to the consistency you need. With petit fours, you want it pretty thick, but thin enough to cover the whole cake when you dip.

Chocolate Icing
1 Stick Butter
7 Tablespoons of Cocoa
2 Cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk

Mix sugar and cocoa together well. Place butter and evaporated milk over a double broiler. Add sugar/cocoa mix. Stir slowly and allow to come to a continuous boil, will slightly thicken. Pull off heat and then add vanilla. Allow to cool slightly and then start dipping your cakes! 

Due to craziness, I forgot to get a final product photo. So, all I can tell you is that the chocolate went the quickest and everyone loved them! Go ahead, get your little cake on!

Remember my "Bear" Bryant cake? Well, I was so happy about a month ago when Mrs. Tammy approached me with yet another request for a cake. This time it was for her daughter's high school graduation. I cannot tell yall how excited I was to make this cake and how much fun it was. I learned a few things from my previous experience, making this one ll the better. 

Here are a few pics of the process:

Starting off with a little inspiration and a rough draft... 

Crumb-coat... Top was vanilla with chocolate icing and bottom as shown.

Throw in some toothpicks and then...

Cover that baby and pop into fridge to chill.

Fondant Time!

Little decoration here and there.

Then, voila!


Few Tips:

  • Always create your own parchment paper circle to line your pan and spray on a light coat of Bakers Joy. Amazing. Last time, I had to work a labor of love to get my cakes out of the pan without tearing. Parchment Paper + Bakers Joy = Perfect Release
  • Duff Fondant is made by Fonadrific. Am I 100% positive of this fact? No. But, pretty darn sure. I emailed the company a few questions about their product, including whether or not they produced Duff's, and they answered every question but that one. Hhhmmmm....
  • You can make a two-tier cake like this using 3 boxes of Duff mix and 2 2-lb containers of fondant, plus a small white. Once again, if you go the Duff route (which is yummy, yet expensive) use coupons! As long as the barcode numbers are not the same, you an use two 40% coupons at the same time.
  • The "H" is made with gum-paste. Yucky stuff, but works well for decorative pieces. 
  • Get a cool twirly thing like I have. They make icing and decorating so much fun! Buy at Michael's for $10 with a coupon.
  • Use a little water on your fingers to attach fondant circles.


Have any questions? Feel free to ask. I'm not a pro by any means, but am learning along the way. In that same breath, if you have any suggestions, shout those out also!

Helping with the graduation party was a blast. Here is an refreshing quick drink you can whip up anytime you have company over: a can of 5 Alive + a bottle of Fresca soda. Thanks Mrs. Leanne! One of these days, I'm going to figure out how to make her killer herbal teas.

I guess, now is the part where I get to the interview.... OH, wait!

Homemade Fudge Rounds! Ok, go back to the top of this post, click the link, go get the ingredients, and then come home immediately and make these! I grew up on LIttle Debbie, sadly... and these were my favorite! Right up there with Oatmeal Cookies and StarCrunch. Now, I am determined to create my own Oatmeal Cookie Recipe. Just wait. You'll see it here one day! 

Hopefully, you won't see my waistline returning to my Little Debbie Days!

All, I really want to share about the nanny opportunity is that going through this process has made me really hold tight to the truths I know to be true. Yesterday, before my second interview, Clay and I were sitting by the river and I saw a squirrel right in front of us scrounging for food, yet finding it every where he went. Matthew 6:26 popped right into my head, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Chills filled my arms (in 90 degree weather) and I began to cry tears of joy, feeling God's love right then and there. I am always amazed at how intimately He knows our hearts and sends sweet whispers to us even when our minds are going crazy. Looking out at the beauty and life surrounding me at that moment, calmed me like nothing else. I rejoice in serving such an amazing God! I can already tell that the Chattahoochee River and I are going to share a lot of time and memories together. Who knew a river would be such a wonderful gift of solitude...

Once, I get a job in Atlanta, Clay and I will be able to begin a whole new chapter of our life together. I am trusting in God's providence and submitting this life to Him daily. 

It has to be daily. 

Here are a few verses that keep me going:

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Goodnight, Friends.

Danielle

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Poor Mac

Dear Friends,

Mac is sick today. He had an unexpected friend visit him last night named MacProtector. As soon as she showed up, I knew trouble entered the room. At first she seemed sweet and innocent, but then in an instant, her claws came out and shaddiness overtook her beauty.  Yeah... one of those. I became quite confused because Macs are not suppose to have friends like her. They are suppose to be extra strong and immune to the likes of sweet-talking wanna-bes, but it was too late. She seduced Mac so fast, he didn't know what hit him. Now, Mac must go to Dr. Peach.

Sally, tell'em how I feel...



Yes, Mac.... it was never suppose to be this way. Don't worry, Dr. Peach will hopefully have you feeling better this afternoon. You too, will be able to hit your own Weezer and smile again.

Mamma is here,
Danielle


UPDATE:

Mac is BETTER!! I called Dr. Peach and asked if I needed to bring the computer in or just follow the directions for removal on a website I found. He said it was a pretty easy removal and talked me through it, which linked up perfectly with the directions I found online. If you ever get bombarded with MacProtector, DO NOT use your credit card and remove it asap. Follow these directions and your Mac will feel better too.

http://www.fixkb.com/2011/05/remove-mac-protector.html

Reading the comments, this is a pretty common pest right now. Don't lose sleep, like I did. Easy fix! :) Make sure you disable Automatic File opening in Safari to prevent things like this from happening again.

Best comment: "I wish 8 stomach viruses on whoever created that crap." I agree.