Wednesday, May 13, 2015

PopSugar MustHave Box May 2015

Hello friends, I'm back with another review.

The latest PopSugar box arrived yesterday.  Of course, I had to tear into it and see the goods.

So, first the description card, the hint at what lurks inside.

The first thing I picked up was the taffy because I couldn't resist. I received one grape flavored piece of McCraw's Flat Taffy by Hammond's Candies.  It was pretty good! Way better than Laffy Taffy.

Next, I inspected the tube of Sage and Row Shave Cream. It was very fresh smelling. I didn't try it yet, but I will soon.  The same goes for the cherry Batiste Dry Shampoo. In a few days when I'm feeling grimy and not up to a real hair-washing, I'll pull it out and give it a shot.

Next, I was excited to see some jewelry! I love jewelry! PopSugar showed the Kitsch Tri'd and True Y-Shaped Necklace as a sneak peek in their email blast for this month. I liked it. It's a very thin and simple silver-plated chain with a dangly chain instead of a pendant. The dangle has a teeny tiny triangle at the end. Cute!

The one thing that I really liked the most was the Mini Plum Vase by Middle Kingdom. It's a lovely glazed porcelain bud vase from China. It happens to look great in my dining room right now. What a great, vivid color!

Lastly, there was a beach towel by Sisters of Los Angeles. Not like I needed another beach towel, but there it was, all bright and cheerful.   Who can turn down such perkiness?

There you have it, the May subscription box from PopSugar.  See you again very soon!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Banana Layer Cake

Hello readers! I'm back with something delicious! And Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there!

My son recently turned 9.  Trying to get any birthday ideas out of him was difficult. I had to offer a ton of ideas for what to do party-wise, cake-wise, and even prod at him about what he might want for presents.

The good thing about him, is once he found an idea he liked, he nailed down exactly what he wanted.

I asked about the cake. At first he just said cake like I always make. Then he said to add bananas to the filling. About 5 seconds later, he changed it to banana cake with strawberry filling. I could definitely work with that.

As for the party, we went from maybe having it  at the trampoline party place across town to the petting zoo to go-karts to backyard campout.  Camping won. We had pizza delivered, made s'mores, then had cake. And the boys played with the Nerf guns before sleeping in the tent out back. It was a total winner.

Anyhow, I decided to take the cake in a classic direction and make it round with two layers. Kiddo said no to the usual strawberry mousse, so I used the cream cheese fruit dip and sliced berries for the filling. The outside was covered in regular vanilla buttercream.

Both kids wanted to help decorate. He has been into LBX lately and asked if I could do something with them on the cake. There are no LBX toys that are appropriate cake toppers. Even the build-it-yourself kits are not a great idea.  So to go in a completely different direction, the kids attacked the cake graffiti -style with some Duff spray food coloring.

The cake was really good.  It had a good banana flavor without being dense and heavy like banana bread. It was lighter and fluffier while still moist.

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (defrost and peel 4 frozen bananas, pulse in food processor)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda (if you're low altitude use 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Cream together the sugar and butter until smooth.  Add the sour cream and beat some more.

2. Add the eggs and vanilla to the mixer. Blend until combined.

3. Add the mashed banana. This works best if the banana is really smooth. Banana lumps are bad in this recipe. Be sure to measure this. Don't just mash up 4 bananas and toss them in the mixing bowl.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the cake flour, salt, and baking soda.  Mix it up.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in about 3 additions, mixing well after each. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and mix again to really get the batter smooth. There's a theme here with smooth, can't you tell?

5. Grease or non-stick spray your baking pans. Divide the batter evenly between two 9" rounds.

6. Bake in a 350F preheated oven for about 23-28 minutes. Mine took 25 minutes.  The cake should start to pull away from the sides of the pan and pass a toothpick test when it's done.

7. Let the cake cool in the pans 5-10 minutes then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

1. Place the bottom layer top-side-up on your serving plate.

2. Spread fruit dip filling evenly on top of cake. Thick is good.

3. Arrange sliced strawberries on top of filling.

4. Place the second cake with the top-side-down. Press down gently so the filling layer makes contact with both cake layers.

5. Frost the entire cake with one batch of vanilla buttercream.

6. Decorate as desired. I was planning on using additional whole strawberries, sprinkles, chopped nuts, and chocolate syrup drizzle like a banana split theme, but the kids hijacked the cake and turned into graffiti artists. She even helped with the lettering.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Awesomesauce Fruit Dip

Hi followers!

I'm back with an actual recipe!  It's one of my oldest, favorite things that I learned from my mom. It's the easiest and most delicious fruit dip. We even have a German-sounding made up name for it. We call it Frutenglasa. To say it, the last "s" has to sound a bit like a "j" or "zh" sound. 

It's great with strawberries or fruit salad. It's great with watermelon when it's hot during summertime. You can even smear it on crepes or a puff pancake, add some fruit and have a very elegant dish.

Mom has a top secret, special change she does to this recipe that I will share, too.  For special occasions, she will substitute orange liqueur (like Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec) for the orange juice.  My last batch, I only subbed 1 tablespoon of Triple Sec and kept the other 2 as OJ. This stuff is almost addictive.

And I have even stuffed it inside birthday cake as a filling layer. Super awesome stuff it is.

Try it out and give me a shout about how much you love it.

1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme 
1 8-ounce block cream cheese, at about room temperature
3 Tablespoons orange juice (or orange liqueur if you like)

1.  Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese to soften it. An electric hand mixer works fine, probably better than a big stand mixer.

2. Add the marshmallow cream and juice. Beat until smooth and creamy.

3. Serve with sliced fruit or use with crepes as a topping or as a cake filling.

4. This makes about 2 cups of dip. Keep refrigerated. It will keep about 4-5 days.

Serving Suggestions
Crepe Filling - use about 2 Tablespoons of dip, spread inside a crepe, add fruit and roll up or fold as desired. This is perfect for macerated berries or peaches. Be sure to dribble the syrupy fruit juices on top with the fruit.