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For Amelia’s bridal shower, I broke a cardinal rule of baking. That is, never bake something for an audience that you’ve never attempted before. My layered cake baking was an experiment to see how hard it actually is to make a cake with more than two layers. It’s quite difficult and despite my best effort it was clearly an amateur job! It did taste quite good, though.

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For the cake batter, I tripled the Better Homes and Garden cookbook’s yellow cake recipe. (The cake could have easily served 60 people).  In between each layer, I smothered apricot filling on top of almond buttercream frosting.
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Each layer needed to be leveled with a cake leveler. This is an inexpensive Wilton cake tool that shaves off the top of each cake to smooth it out for even placement of the layers. Also, I had to put wax paper underneath the bottom of the cake to collect all the crumbs during assembly.

pb280004Layers four of six in place. Did I mention I forgot the baking soda in the bottom layer, essentially making it a pound cake? It was a little bit of baking serendipity however, since it was the perfect flat launch pad for the rest of the cake.

pb280005All six layers in place, with only slight spillage of the apricot filling. One other thing I did during assembly: to keep the cake moist, I boiled two cups water with two cups sugar in a saucepan, and added lemon rind. Using a pastry brush, I brushed this concoction on top of each layer before frosting.

pb280006With the almond buttercream frosting in place, it’s time for sprinkles.

pb280007The sprinkles were clear and white to lend the cake a shimmering, snow-like appearance.

pb280008Ribbon to match her shower colors was swept around each layer, and it was topped with an “A” for Amelia, or as my cousin more appropriately titled the cake later, “‘A’ for Effort!”

pb280015The cake in all its bridal shower glory. After spending 6pm-11pm on the cake, I was just glad to get it to the shower in one piece.  After a serious second grade cake dropping mishap at my birthday party, I never quite trust myself carrying cakes.  (There’s nothing more embarrassing than blowing out birthday candles in HoHos because you dropped the cake on the kitchen floor).

And finally, to highlight some of the food the hostess prepared:

pb280011The tea sandwiches assortment of chicken salad, turkey and egg salad sandwiches.

pb280014Fabulous presentation of fruit skewers in painted terracotta pots, secured in place with clear marbles.

pb290039The glowing bride-to-be at the end of the shower.  Forgiving gal that she is, she understood that the slight leaning tilt of her shower cake only gave it more character.

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Last month my sister-in-law traveled from Edmonton to VA for her baby shower. Here was the spread:
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Flowers and decor by Sara.

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All of the food was served on sticks. Grilled chicken and steak kebabs were offered with a choice of four dips. Pictured above is an artichoke spread and peanut satay dip.
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Then options three and four were basil herb and creamy horseradish.
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My personal favorite was the creamy pumpkin dip, served with thinly sliced apples and a jumbo glass cookie jar of ginger snaps. Truly addictive.pa310048
Fabulous baby boy cake by Taryn. She created a lemon base with a light lemon frosting topped with a white chocolate ganache coating.
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A photo of the frosting which was used for the party favors below…
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Chocolate whoopie pies with peanut butter frosting.


My hand mixer was not woman enough to handle three bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips for the tripled recipe. She started steaming and I had to do the mixing by hand.

Slowly, the chips start taking to the batter.

And, voila. Dough is ready.

“Get out of there already!”

“Perhaps my digger will be able to get them.”


This experiment turned out great, except next time I would toast the marshmallows directly on an open flame to get them bubblier and browner.

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If I were to ever live a Billy Madison-type existence, I would demand that one of these gelato cases be installed in my basement. Except the “gelato” would just be a pretend cover you’d lift up to reveal tubs of Haagen-Daaz.

Some pictures from a dessert buffet last week…  I didn’t do any of the baking, but snapped these shots of friends’ baked, gooey wonders.
This is an angel food ice cream cake topped with slivered chocolate pieces.
The filling was chocolate ice cream and the cake was frosted with whipped cream.

Gingerbread cookies. My friend said she’d heard you can reduce the sugar in any baked good by 3/4 and it still tastes the same.  After experimenting with these she maintains that is not the case. She compensated by rolling them in extra sugar and powdered sugar.  They were still really good.

And, lastly were these brownies.  Ten minutes before they were done baking, my friend covered the underdone brownies in jumbo marshmallows and put them back in the oven.  After they were completely cooled, she frosted the marshmallow layer with fudge frosting. A very nice excuse to use a fork to eat a brownie.

For awhile after my new baby’s arrival in February, I relied heavily on Two-For-Tuesday. That is, the glorious night of the week where Domino’s offers its buy-one, get-one free special. A busy mom’s dream, my post-partum mind believed: dinner and lunches taken care of from Tuesday to Thursday. But mid-week pizza parties no longer remain a crutch seven months later as I’m attempting to plan better meals in advance.

Part of this blog’s purpose is to provide a self-reference for when I’m out of meal inspirations and ready to speed-dial my old pizza flame.

This weekend I made Grilled Lemon Chicken with Satay Dip from The Barefoot Contessa.  An old favorite, but one that was drastically improved by grilling it over charcoal instead of on the panini maker. The recipe is here on The Food Network.


The chicken is marinated in olive oil, fresh lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper for six hours. It comes out perfectly seasoned and tender.

And, the Satay Dip may not look as appetizing as this blob below potrays it to be, but it is such a nice medley of flavors and the perfect complement to the chicken.


Pair this with french bread and green beans, and you’ve got something on your table that beats a “Two-Fer” night.


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