Tag Archives: homemade

Cakes: rainbow, chocolate and other

capability mom makes the rainbow cake - spoons Here are some cake recipes that I have posted before but seem to get searched for fairly frequently. I am putting them on the front page to make it easier to find them…not because I am lazy and this is an easy way to post.

Here is the thing. I love to bake but am not especially gifted in this area. Oh, pshaw, Capability Mom, you say, it looks like you are…well, capable. I am capable but I am not inspired. I am a nervous baker and can’t easily adapt a recipe or change part of one that I like and add something else instead. I have friends who are incredible bakers and so I know the difference.

When I made The Whisk Kid’s crazy gorgeous rainbow cake, for instance, I followed her recipe exactly…except when I didn’t. Here is another thing about me – I love to read but not directions…like on cake flour boxes. So I had cake flour and thought how nice it would be to use it for a cake, logical, yes? But I failed to read the box which told you the formula (not difficult – just another tablespoon or so of cake flour for each cup called for in recipe) and when we made the first batch (yes, this was before we had no water – thankfully) – they were flat and full of airholes and some were quite raw. The colors were gorgeous but I knew the cakes were a failure. Sigh. I do so dislike failure.capability mom - cakes in the oven - rainbow cake After determining that all were mostly lost, we remade the cakes with all-purpose flour – as I should have known to do in the first place – and they came out perfectly wonderful round layers.

At this point we called it a night. I had made the base butter cream frosting from The Whisk Kid’srecipe – my first ever – and was thrilled because it was delicious.  I covered it and put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, I made the top coat of butter cream frosting and waited for the under or crumb coat frosting to come to room temperature. Despite the heat of the day (and it was so hot), that butter cream remained unspreadable. Rookie that I am, I was too nervous to do anything to it other than jab at it with a spoon (this does nothing) and make 3 or 4 more batches of the top coat (because I had started frosting with that and was now committed to it). Luckily, I had tons of eggs and sugar (and a container of egg whites that vaguely felt like cheating). Why did I not just go to the store and buy Duncan Hines? Because I am stubborn and I was making this cake and it would be from scratch because that would show my daughter that …what, exactly? The lesson learned was that her mom is, if anything, determined and stubborn, yeah, like that is news. I was pretty flustered but mostly capability mom's rainbow cakekept it together (except when I gave up and enlisted two middle schoolers to frost the cake because this is an area of great weakness for me) and I was putting together a party with a moonbounce, cotton candy machine and no water, thank you very much.

It was a success and thrill and surprise to most of the guests and worth the eggs, sugar and time spent. Next time I might read the directions, too.

capability mom rainbow cake

nabisco famous chocolate refrigerator roll We love chocolate at our house – well, except my husband and instead of deeming that a character flaw (which it surely is), I have decided to embrace the positive result of this particular preference which basically means…more for me. It does mean I don’t have to hide chocolate (except from the children…not that I would do that) and I know any stash (if there were such a thing) would never be disturbed even if discovered. So – all good for me. Above is a picture of a easy fun cake to make with kids that a friend just reminded me about (we made it last for a favorite stuffed animal’s birthday party).

Basically it is Nabisco FAMOUS chocolate wafers, whipping cream and vanilla. Here is the recipe from NabiscoWorld.com including the nutritional information – oh, come on, there is some vitamin A in there and some calcium.  My mom made this with us when we were young (it is a classic) and it is so easy (whipped cream and chocolate cookies). Let even the youngest of toddlers stack the cookies and spread the whipped cream. Sure, it’s a little messy but the little ones can make their own and will be so excited about it. Freeze for about 4 hours. When cut on a diagonal (by an adult) it is really cute. Almostrainbow cake cute but a black and white version.  A good project with no baking but you still get a cute, fun cake.

I made the following amazing (I am so modest) chocolate ship cookies for the same friend (a while ago! but talking to her just now made me connect the two) and just made a batch for teacher gifts on Tuesday. Best chocolate chip cookies ever. From the Ghiradelli bag of milk chocolate chips and the Ghiradelli website.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

11 1/2 ounce(s) Milk Chocolate Chips
1 cup(s) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup(s) sugar
3/4 cup(s) brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla
2 1/4 cup(s) unsifted flour
1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1 cup(s) walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Directions
Heat oven to 375ºF.

Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. I use the milk chocolate chips – or semi-sweet if you must. Really, really good.

I was asked by a friend (the one who also reminded me about the refrigerator cake – we called it zebra cake) if I was going to put this up. I found the recipe in The Boston Globe magazine – it is from the Hi-Rise Bakery in Cambridge and I have been making it for years. I make it as a welcome to the neighborhood cake, a sorry you-don’t feel-well cake, an all-around great dessert. I call it Vanilla Bread – maybe I should rename Brownies as Chocolate Bread.

Vanilla Bean Loaves

Cake:
3 cups flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp.
2½ cups vanilla sugar (1 split vanilla bean stirred into the sugar and left for a few days*)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped*
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
8 eggs

Syrup:
1¾ cups sugar
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped*

For the cake:
Heat the oven to 325°. Generously butter two 8½ x 4½ x 2½ inch loaf pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a heavy-duty mixer, using the paddle, cream the butter and vanilla sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla bean seeds to the mixture along with the vanilla extract and eggs. Beat to mix.

Add the flour mixture to the batter and beat with a few turns of the paddle until it is just smooth. With a rubber spatula, fold the batter from the bottom of the bowl into the mixture to make sure it’s well blended.

Divide the batter between the pans. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, turn the pans around, and continue baking for 25–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out almost clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn the loaves out of their pans and return them to the rack.

For the syrup:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. Add the vanilla beans and stir so the seeds disperse. Remove from the heat.

Place the cakes on the rack over a piece of wax paper. Brush generously all over—tops, bottoms, and sides—with the syrup. Brush with more syrup as they cool. Cool completely and slice.

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Filed under family Activities, Feed your head, soul, self, Food, rainbow cakes

The story of the rainbow cake on the day we had compromised water*

capability mom makes the rainbow cake - spoonsHere is the thing. I love to bake but am not especially gifted in this area. Oh, pshaw, Capability Mom, you say, it looks like you are…well, capable. I am capable but I am not inspired. I am a nervous baker and can’t easily adapt a recipe or change part of one that I like and add something else instead. I have friends who are incredible bakers and so I know the difference.

capability mom attempts the rainbow cake

These are the pretty cakes.

When I made The Whisk Kid’s crazy gorgeous rainbow cake, for instance, I followed her recipe exactly…except when I didn’t. Here is another thing about me – I love to read but not directions…like on cake flour boxes. So I had cake flour and thought how nice it would be to use it for a cake, logical, yes? But I failed to read the box which told you the formula (not difficult – just another tablespoon or so of cake flour for each cup called for in recipe) and when we made the first batch (yes, this was before we had no water – thankfully) and they were flat and full of airholes and some were quite raw. The colors were gorgeous but I knew the cakes were a failure. Sigh. I do so dislike failure. After determining that all were mostly lost, we remade the cakes with all-purpose flour – as I should have known to do in the first place – and they came out perfectly wonderful round layers.

At this point we called it a night. I had made the base butter cream frosting from The Whisk Kid’s recipe – my first ever – and was thrilled because it was delicious.  I covered it and put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, I made the top coat of butter cream frosting and waited for the under or crumb coat frosting to come to room temperature. Despite the heat of the day (and it was so hot), that butter cream remained unspreadable. Rookie that I am, I was too nervous to do anything to it other than jab at it with a spoon (this does nothing) and make 3 or 4 more batches of the top coat (because I had started frosting with that and was now committed to it). Luckily, I had tons of eggs and sugar (and a container of egg whites that vaguely felt like cheating). Why did I not just go to the store and buy Duncan Hines? Because I am stubborn and I was making this cake and it would be from scratch because that would show my daughter that …what, exactly? The lesson learned was that her mom is, if anything, determined and stubborn, yeah, like that is news. I was pretty flustered but mostly capability mom's rainbow cakekept it together (except when I gave up and enlisted two middle schoolers to frost the cake because this is an area of great weakness for me) and I was putting together a party with a moonbounce, cotton candy machine and no water, thank you very much.

It was a success and thrill and surprise to most of the guests and worth the eggs, sugar and time spent. Next time I might read the directions, too.

*There was water – running water – we just had to boil it to use it for washing dishes and drinking and brushing teeth. Good times.

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Filed under Food, rainbow cakes

Chocolate refrigerator cakes, best chocolate chip cookies, googly bands and fun

nabisco famous chocolate refrigerator roll We love chocolate at our house – well, except my husband and instead of deeming that a character flaw (which it surely is), I have decided to embrace the positive result of this particular preference which basically means…more for me. It does mean I don’t have to hide chocolate (except from the children…not that I would do that) and I know any stash (if there were such a thing) would never be disturbed even if discovered. So – all good for me. Above is a picture of a easy fun cake to make with kids that a friend just reminded me about (we made it last for a favorite stuffed animal’s birthday party).

Basically it is Nabisco FAMOUS chocolate wafers, whipping cream and vanilla. Here is the recipe from NabiscoWorld.com including the nutritional information – oh, come on, there is some vitamin A in there and some calcium.  My mom made this with us when we were young (it is a classic) and it is so easy (whipped cream and chocolate cookies). Let even the youngest of toddlers stack the cookies and spread the whipped cream. Sure, it’s a little messy but the little ones can make their own and will be so excited about it. Freeze for about 4 hours. When cut on a diagonal (by an adult) it is really cute. Almost rainbow cake cute but a black and white version.  A good project with no baking but you still get a cute, fun cake.

I made the following amazing (I am so modest) chocolate ship cookies for the same friend (a while ago! but talking to her just now made me connect the two) and just made a batch for teacher gifts on Tuesday. Best chocolate chip cookies ever. From the Ghiradelli bag of milk chocolate chips and the Ghiradelli website.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

11 1/2 ounce(s) Milk Chocolate Chips
1 cup(s) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup(s) sugar
3/4 cup(s) brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla
2 1/4 cup(s) unsifted flour
1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1 cup(s) walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Directions
Heat oven to 375ºF.

Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. I use the milk chocolate chips – or semi-sweet if you must. Really, really good.

Now…same friend and I talked about the crazy craze for googly bands.  I was going to post on these anyway because I answered a call to action from TwitterMoms about getting googly bands and writing about them but was shut out by the ferocious response by other mom bloggers like the post here on child hood – I also found out that there is a contest for designing new shapes of googly bands.  My kids love these and are all about getting more. Here is the weird thing, for me anyway. These self-same bands were out – oh, about 7 years ago in pastel colors and farm animal shapes. I know because they came in a little plastic suitcase and we gave them as a goody bag gift for a birthday party (Wow. I have way too much trivial information stored in this brain). Nonetheless, we did. When a sister asked if my girls were into them (3 weeks ago) I replied that we were past those…thinking of the ones oh-so-long ago. Thanks for the reminder of these fun things, KR!

googly bands on capability mom

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Filed under Food, rainbow cakes, there is always chocolate

I really like this website – Gwyneth has a good sense of balance – Go to Goop

Before you say, “Hey, Capability Mom is all over the place this week.” I know I am. Sometimes I like to write and….sometimes I think cut and paste is the way to go.  While I do like to write and, this is not inversely proportional, to talk, sometimes I have brain shut down. I find (although I don’t always catch it in time) that it is best to shut up when that happens (okay, I never catch this in time).

So before I say or write anything that I will regret – I might mention I have seen this happen in a blog that I like and still read but now with a more jaundiced eye – the writer was freaking out and complaining about her server being down …blah blah blah – blog content missing…and then in a really offhand and coldish way mentioned that the guy who handled the server had committed suicide and then she continued to complain.  I was actually breathless with indignation and my fingers hovered over the keys to send a nasty retort but I couldn’t do it.  When I went to the site later – the post was gone, leaving me feeling as if I imagined it.  I know I didn’t and that someone else read it and told her she ought to take it down.  I still read the blog but not as often.

Anyway, here is a site that I really like and if you think I am a celebrity follower, I am not. I just think some people have a great deal to share and that this is a well-written and great site.

Goop is Gwenyth Paltrow’s blog and before you denounce it as a celebrity blog, check it out. Categories are Make, Go, Get, Be, Do, See and the recommendations are lovely, not overly spendy (well, some of the shopping, maybe) but restaurants, activities, exercise tips, healthy recipes and acts of kindness to yourself and others. Great lunchbox tips – I can always use those – here

goop do lunch box

My sister (from the West) will periodically send me the link and I recently subscribed to the newsletter. Yesterday we both read it at the same time and loved it and it happens to be timely for us. This post features a
book by Marcy Silverman Do Good:201 Ways to Lend a Hand. Lovely.

Peace out.

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Filed under green living

Rainbow cakes are everywhere

You know I made the rainbow cake

rainbow cake capability mom

Capability Mom's Rainbow Cake from The Whisk Kid's recipe

from The Whisk Kid (and she was on Martha) but now I find rainbow cakes everywhere. Here are some of my favorites:

rainbow cake with fruit from huckleberry stew Huckleberry Stew This rainbow cake is not only topped with fruit but the coloring of the cake is fruit based – in case you are wary of using food coloring.

huckleberry stew rainbow cake capability mom

The recipe comes  from I am baker blog – gorgeous, creative and fun.

rainbow cake sweetnicks

Here on Sweetnicks, a mom makes her rainbow cake from a box mix and it is beautiful. Hey, small kids, no time to bake, purdy peas rainbow cake capability momMartha wouldn’t cut those corners but I would. Above, from Purdy Peas is another beautiful cake – check out that icing. All good and fun cakes – perfect for upcoming graduation parties.

Of course, this gorgeous outrageous layer cake from Kevin Sharkey on MarthaStewart.com

kevin sharkey's rainbow cake on martha stewart

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Filed under Food, rainbow cakes, recipes - tried and true

Go read about The Whisk Kid’s experience on Martha Stewart Show

 

Really, so exciting and she writes so well. Congrats!  http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2010-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2011-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=21

Oh, and you will need a kitchen scale.

  

 

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Filed under Finds, Food, rainbow cakes, recipes - tried and true

Rewards for Mom or Brownies for me – Dried fruit for you.

 

This was first posted as a page reminder to write about the reward system I rigged up for myself when my little one were, well, little. I was soooo tired and really needed energy and an evil friend gave me a delicious and easy brownie recipe and also instructions to freeze them but first cut them into small squares – I think this was portion control on her part but it just made it really easy for me to have – oh, I don’t know, 40 or 5o a day? It went something like this: “Did you (Capability Mom)  just straighten that dish towel?  Good for you…have a brownie” or “Look at you (again, me) , walking by the freezer…time for a brownie reward”. When the children asked what I was eating, I said “Prunes”. Now they ask to smell my breath…for chocolate.

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter

1 12-oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons vanilla

dash salt

Preheat oven to 300°. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Melt butter and chocolate chips together in the microwave and add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 45 minutes. Cut when still hot into small squares, but then let them cool for a few minutes before taking them out of the pan. Then you freeze some of them. You will probably eat a few of them still warm, not that I would…

 From Verbatim blog

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Filed under Food, recipes - tried and true, there is always chocolate