May 21, 2012

Cut the Rope Cake - Cake of Cakes!

"Deliver candy to Om Nom!" I hear this phrase all the time. Both of my boys love Cut the Rope so for my son's third birthday he requested a cake with Om Nom - his favorite character, of course! Turns out he thought it was the cake of cakes!

cake of cakescake of cakes
cake of cakes

There are many beautiful and amazing cakes out there that have been covered/decorated with fondant. I am sort of a fondant hater. Mainly because it tastes horrible! I have bought fondant and made (marshmallow) fondant from scratch with the same outcome. The cake tastes great but the fondant has to be picked off and thrown away.

cake of cakescake of cakes

Now, if you don't have kids you might not think this is a big deal but when they don't like the taste of fondant and you have to take it off of their cake and all the frosting goes with it.......well, there are many unwanted tears to deal with!

So, in an attempt to satisfy my little birthday boy I tried my best to smooth out buttercream frosting instead of using fondant. A usual event for me when making cakes. With that said, there is no better way (that I have tried) to create characters and/or graphic decorations than to use fondant. All of the dots and characters on this cake are made using store bought fondant.

cake of cakescut the rope spider
om nom

I modeled this cake from the Fabric Box from Cut the Rope which includes: om nom, stars, candy, spiders, air balloons and the spikes that breaks the candy. I got the idea from searching google images for cut the rope cakes. This is the one my cake looks most like but with more details.

Don't skimp on the details. It will take longer but the outcome will be well worth it!

If you want to see more details and step-by-step instructions visit

May 9, 2012

Asian Pasta Salad

It's getting to be that time of year (for me anyway) when the days are getting warmer and I don't want to heat up the house by turning on the oven. This is a quick and refreshing meal that will fill hungry bellies (without meat).

The sauce for this cold pasta salad has olive oil and peanut butter for fat and protein and is an adapted recipe from Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa (although I call it Asian Pasta Salad instead of Crunchy Noodle Salad). The phrase 'crunchy noodle' reminds me of those gross brown crunchy noodle straw things in a can that I hated as a kid!

You can dress this salad up with any fresh veggies that you have available. I have also topped it with grilled chicken if you want an added boost of protein or can't live without meat!

Asian Pasta Salad
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
zest of 1/2 lime
juice of 1 lime

1/2 lb. angel hair pasta, cooked according to package and cooled
2 c. shredded cabbage, per serving
1 c. chopped bell pepper
1 c. shredded carrots
1 c. blanched peas, frozen or fresh

In a small mixing bowl whisk together all ingredients until mixture is well incorporate, smooth and creamy. Toss half of the sauce with cooled pasta and refrigerate until chilled, approx 30 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator and toss with remaining sauce and all veggies (except cabbage). Serve over shredded cabbage.

Serves 4

May 7, 2012

100% Whole Wheat Focaccia

Many, many years ago in Italy I experienced the lightest, most airy textured focaccia. It was hard not to stop at each little focacceria for a tasty bite. This recipe is a 100% whole wheat version of my favorite focaccia that I ate with olives and tomatoes. I added onion and pistachios for added crunch.

Whenever I can substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour I do. It is healthier and has a much more distinct flavor. This focaccia has a nice chewy texture with a little bit of crunch around the edges.

This is the simplest recipe ever. It's not hard to make, just somewhat time consuming.

100% Whole Wheat Focaccia
3/4 c. water
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 c. 100% whole wheat flour
1 (.25 oz) pkg active dry yeast
1 t. salt
veggies and/or nuts
1/4 t. dried parsley, optional
1 t. olive oil, plus more for drizzling

In a microwave safe container heat water to 120-130 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl combine 1 1/2 c flour, yeast and salt. Add hot water and stir to combine. Add more flour 1 heaping tablespoon at a time until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Dump dough onto a lightly floured (still using whole wheat flour) surface and knead 8-10 minutes adding more flour as needed.

After 8-10 minutes do a 'windowpane test'. I learned this from Peter Reinhart's book Whole Grain Breads. Here's what to do - take a small piece of dough and stretch it to see if you can get it thin enough to see light through it without it tearing. If you can see light enough gluten has formed and you can stop kneading. If you can't see light continue kneading until you can.

Form a ball, roll in 1 t. olive oil, place in a bowl and cover. Let rise about 1 hour or until dough has doubled. This will greatly depend on what the temp and humidity is like in your kitchen.

Punch dough down and let rise again. 1 hour or until dough has doubled.

When the dough has risen the second time turn it out onto a cutting board and cut it into two equal pieces. Form into a rounded shape and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest 30 minutes.

Once 30 minutes has passed uncover dough and stretch slightly to make longer loaf-like shapes. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut veggies and/or nuts (you will only need a few tablespoons of each item) and press firmly into the dough. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and dried parsley. (The parsley really adds no flavor it just makes the focaccia look nice!!) 

I used kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, onion, pistachios and shredded parmesan.
Bake approximately 15 minutes.

Cut into strips and serve warm.