New York Knicks Themed Cake

I recently got a request for a basketball themed birthday cake, specifically a New York Knicks themed one. The recipient sent me two pictures of what they wanted… One was simply a round cake with the Knicks logo on top and the other was a jersey themed cake. I opted to go with the latter.

At first I thought I would have to carve the cake on the sides and on the top to replicate the armholes and neck hole, but, after going through some pics on Pinterest and envisioning the cake in my head I realized I wouldn’t have to. Which was a good thing, I have never carved a cake before and I don’t think the first time I attempt it should be for someone’s birthday cake.

To make things simple I opted to use a box cake mix for the cake. While the directions on the box said one would suffice to make a 9×13-inch sheet cake I wanted to be sure the cake would have some height to it so I opted to use one and a half boxes of mix. I thought using two full boxes would be too much and the cake might overflow while baking and I also had a Halloween theme I wanted to try with the cupcakes – that’s coming in a later post. I prepped the cake mixes per the directions in two separate bowls and then with one I filled the cavities of a 12-cup muffin tin with a 1/4 cup of batter in each. I then poured the remaining batter into the bowl with the full amount and folded the two together before pouring it into a 9×13-inch pan I sprayed with baking spray. Once the cake was done I let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely . Once it was cool I wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight.

And while I used a box cake mix for the cake, I opted to make the frosting from scratch. I made a simple vanilla frosting that I planned to use for both the cake and cupcakes. After torting the cake, I placed the cut side down on a cake board and spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides. Then it was time to decorate. I opted to decorate the cake as the home jersey for the Knicks in white. Initially I was thinking of decorating it by using fondant paneling as I did with the YouTube themed cake I made earlier this year. And I even started doing so by cutting strips of white fondant and placing them on the sides of the cake. But, when it came to placing the top piece on I decided to cut it a little longer and wider than what I needed. And I am actually happy I did so. When you looked at the cake along the sides it almost looked like the jersey was draped and it gave the cake nice round edge.

After getting the white fondant done it was time to decorate with the blue and orange fondant to create the armholes and neck hole. At one point I was thinking of doing this part with frosting, but, I am happy I nixed that idea. The fondant gave it a much cleaner look and it was easier to correct any mistakes in measuring and placing. I rolled the fondant into strips and then cut them to form the curves. I let the pieces sit on the cake for a few minutes so they could take on curved shape while drying out a little to make it easier to adhere them to the cake with a dab of water. Next, I added the last name, which was a little tricky since I had limited space for all of the letters, but, I was able to make it work. At this point I took a break from decorating and placed the cake in the refrigerator to continue working on it the next day.

To create the numbers for the cake I purchased Wilton fondant molds. At first I had no clue how to use them. I knew I couldn’t use them as regular cookie cutters but I tried to anyway and it was a fail. I had a feeling that I would have to get the fondant into the crevice and then freeze it, but, just to be sure I did a quick Google search and my suspicions were correct. So, I pressed small amounts of fondant into the crevices and then placed the molds in the freezer for about a half hour. Once the fondant had frozen it was easy to remove it from the molds and I had a perfect 4 and 0.

Now, to create the basketball on the cake I got pretty creative. I could have just done it with a mound of frosting, or shaped one of the cupcakes I made, but, while at the craft store picking up supplies for the cake I though why not cut a Styrofoam ball in half to create the perfect round shape. I was pretty sure I had Styrofoam balls at home from other craft projects, but, I wandered over to the aisle anyway and found something even better, a half round ball Styrofoam that I wouldn’t have to cut.

I began decorating it by creating the lines on the basketball. I tinted chocolate frosting with black food coloring (it’s much quicker and easier than using vanilla frosting) and simply piped the lines onto the Styrofoam. Next, I tinted about a cup of vanilla frosting with copper gel food coloring and using a small star tip I filled in the Styrofoam ball between the black lines with small stars. I decorated it on wax paper and then placed it in the fridge for an hour or so so the frosting could firm up before transferring it onto the cake.

So, I had the numbers on the cake and the basketball, but, I felt like it needed something more..

To finish the cake I added the New York Knicks logo to the top. I could have been super creative and made it myself using fondant, but, I made it myself by printing it off the internet and then cutting it out. I definitely think that was the finishing piece the cake needed.

Everyone loved it and can I just say, there I something that is so delicious and comforting about a simple yellow cake.

 

A Classic Pound Cake

You may or may not have noticed that I recently streamlined my category groups. I realized that I had too many and that some of the categories only had one or two posts under them. So, I took some time to clean it up. Which meant pretty much re-categorizing about half of my posts. While doing so I noticed how my picture quality has improved since I started blogging. Not to say that they are anywhere near perfect now, but, I have definitely gotten better from the beginning in terms of background and lighting.  It also gave me the chance to see some of the baked goods I have shared with you – some that I can’t believe I haven’t made again and others that tasted good but I am sure I won’t be making again. This all led me to realizing that there was one recipe I haven’t shared… my go-to pound cake recipe. I have been making this recipe for a few years now. I actually posted an almond variation of the recipe a few years ago and today I am finally posting the original recipe.

This cake is super simple to make, moist, delicious and will be sure to please all palates. You can’t beat that!

And while it’s delicious on its own, adding fresh whipped cream (and fresh berries when they are in season) is a nice addition. Since its Fall I decided to whip up pumpkin spice whipped cream to go along with it. I’ve shared my recipe below, but if you have a favorite whipped cream recipe you swear by simply add in a teaspoon or two of pumpkin pie spice to give it a nice twist.

 

Classic Pound Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 8oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 eggs

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a Bundt pan with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour and baking powder and set aside.

Using a handheld mixer cream together the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until well blended. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. With the mixer on low gradually add in the flour mixture until incorporated.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for about an hour or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting it on a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Kraft

 

Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

  • Servings: About 2 cups
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Place the beaters of a handheld mixer and a metal in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Place the whipping cream, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract in the chilled bowl and beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat. Refrigerate until ready to use.

No Churn Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

One thing I have yet to come across during the season of pumpkin spice craze is pumpkin spice ice cream. Now, I am sure if you go to a specialty ice cream shop you may find it, but what I am referring to is a pint or carton of it at your local grocery store. I have seen pumpkin cheesecake, but, never just plain old pumpkin. Quite a few years ago I actually made a pumpkin ice cream using my ice cream maker but recently while chatting with a friend she mentioned the same thing, that she wished they would sell a pumpkin spice ice cream and that got me thinking to tweak my original recipe to create a no-churn version.

I began by placing a metal bowl and the beaters of my hand mixer in the freezer for about 30 minutes. While those items chilled I combined a can of condensed milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whisked them together until they were well blended. Once the bowl and beaters were chilled I used them to beat heavy cream until stiff peaks formed making sure not to overbeat the cream. Next, I gently folded in the whipped cream to the pumpkin mixture. I added about half of the whipped cream at first and then the remaining half and continued folding the two mixtures together until no streams of either remained.

Once the two mixtures were combined I transferred it to a metal loaf pan. I smoothed the top and then placed a piece of wax paper directly on the surface so ice crystals wouldn’t form on the ice cream. I wrapped the pan with aluminum foil and let it freeze overnight.

The following day I removed the aluminum foil and wax paper and let the ice cream sit at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping some out to enjoy.

And while I loved it and it tasted just as good as my original ice cream maker version, I will point out that due to the addition of real pumpkin you will get an authentic pumpkin taste with this ice cream. Not just the pumpkin spice flavor that many people prefer over actual pumpkin.

No Churn Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups cold heavy whipping cream

1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium bowl beat the heavy cream using a hand held mixer until stiff peaks form, do not overbeat. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the condensed milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract in a large bowl until well combined.

Gently fold half of the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture for a few folds and then add in the remaining whipped cream. Continue to gently folding the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture until no streaks of either remain.

Transfer the mixture to a 9×5-inch metal loaf pan. Smooth the top and place a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper directly on the surface and then cover with aluminum foil.

Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight. When ready to scoop, remove the aluminum foil and the plastic wrap (or wax paper) and let sit for a few minutes at room temperature.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

I tried making pumpkin muffins once or twice before and they have always been a fail. Once I tried making a crumb topped pumpkin muffin and the crumb on top was a disaster. Instead of creating a nice crust on top of the muffin it baked into the muffin. Which was weird since I mimicked the crumb topping from these blueberry muffins that have always turned out great. I am assuming it had something to do with the batter. And another time I tried making a pumpkin muffin similar to the recipe of the pumpkin bread I normally make. Once again, a fail in my book. It lacked any flavor. I wasn’t giving up though. I’ve made pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin cake, a pumpkin tiramisu, and a few savory pumpkin dishes so I was not about to let a muffin get the best of my pumpkin baking.

Around this time of year Chobani gets in on the pumpkin craze and releases their pumpkin blended yogurts. For the past couple of years they had a Pumpkin Harvest Crisp Flip Yogurt that had pie crust pieces, glazed pumpkin seeds and pecans (YUM!) When I went looking for it this year they replaced it with an Autumn Harvest Crisp Flip Yogurt with pecans, cranberries and gingersnap crust. I like it, but definitely not as much the previous version. I think it’s the gingersnap crust that is throwing it off for me. Not really sure why they changed it… The Pumpkin Harvest Crisp was so good and had good reviews. While eating it for breakfast one day I thought that maybe a pumpkin muffin with pecans and cranberries would be a winner. I was thinking about converting a pumpkin cupcake recipe into a muffin recipe, but decided I didn’t want another fail so I turned to Google and did a few searches. Soon enough I came across a recipe for a Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin. It had some good reviews and pretty much used ingredients I already had on hand. I made one tweak to the recipe though. The original recipe called for just using cinnamon (1tsp.) and ginger (1/2 tsp.) and I just felt that that wouldn’t be enough spice to enhance the pumpkin flavor. So, I upped it to 3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. This way not only would there be cinnamon and nutmeg in the batter, but also allspice, cloves and nutmeg.

One thing I should note about these muffins is that they are a 1-bowl muffin. Meaning, you add all of the ingredients to one bowl and then beat or stir to combine them. I honestly did try to whisk all of the ingredients together, but, the mixture was just too thick so I had to break out my hand mixer.

After mixing the ingredients until they were just combined I divided them into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners – about 1/4 cup of batter in each. The recipe called for 12 muffins, but, I ended up with 15. To ensure that the remaining three baked well I filled the empty cavities of that muffin tin with water about half-way up. I then sprinkled some of the muffins with coarse sugar.

After baking for about 20 minutes I removed them from the oven and transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once they were cool I tried one and I was very happy that I had switched up the spices. I think the original recipe of just cinnamon and ginger would have produce a muffin that was a bit on the bland side.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

  • Servings: 12 Muffins
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coarse sugar, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add in the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, cranberries and pecans and using a handheld mixer on the low setting beat the mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake tin (about 1/4 cup in each). If you have remaining batter prep a second a cupcake tin and fill the empty crevices with water about halfway up.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean from the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe modified from Betty Crocker

Pumpkin Quick Bread

It’s officially Fall… Bring on the pumpkin treats! While I have purchased and enjoyed some pumpkin spice treats – Special K cereal (I’m yet to try it), Pumpkin Pie Spice Butter (still haven’t tried this either), Pumpkin Pie Kit Kats (I definitely didn’t need a whole bag of these) and Werther’s Original Caramels (just a nice hint of pumpkin spice) – I have refrained from posting any pumpkin treats on here until Fall officially began. And while last week brought some Fall-like days this past weekend felt more like Summer. I guess Summer wanted to go out with a bang.

For my first pumpkin treat of the season – there will definitely be more, just not sure how many more – I bring you a Pumpkin Quick Bread. Now, I have shared a Pumpkin Bread recipe on here before but this one is a bit different as it doesn’t involve using any canned pumpkin. Some of you might be taken back by the ingredients, but, trust me, it’s delicious. It involves a box of yellow cake mix and a box of Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Pudding Mix. I got the idea for this quick bread after making a Pistachio Quick Bread earlier this year with a box of white cake mix and a box of pistachio pudding mix.

I began by making cinnamon sugar and then setting it aside. In a large bowl I whisked together the cake mix and pudding mix. I then added in eggs, sour cream, water and oil and beat it with a hand mixer. I poured about 1/2 cup of batter into the bottom of two loaf pans that I sprayed with baking spray. The batter was thick so I used a spoon to spread the batter evenly across the pan. I then sprinkled the top of both with 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar. I spread the remaining batter evenly over the cinnamon sugar in both pans and smoothed the top with an offset spatula and then sprinkled the remaining sugar evenly over both. There didn’t seem to be a lot of batter in the pans and I thought that I was going to end up with loaves that lacked height…

But, after baking both loaves for about 40 minutes both had risen nicely.

I let them cool in the pans for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

And once they were cool it was time to slice into one of the loaves. You can see the cinnamon sugar swirl in the bottom of the bread and a little up the side of the cake. As for the cinnamon sugar on top, it baked in nicely to the breads.

I kept one loaf for myself and brought the second one to a friend’s house for Sunday dinner and it was a hit!

 

Pumpkin Quick Bread

Ingredients:

1 package yellow cake mix

1 package instant pumpkin spice pudding mix

4 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup canola or corn oil

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prep two loaf pans by spraying them with baking spray or greasing them with butter.

In a large bowl combine the cake and pudding mix. Add the eggs, sour cream, water and oil and beat until blended (the batter will be thick).

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Spoon about 1/2 cup of batter into each of the prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar over the batter in each pan. Divide the remaining batter among the two pans and sprinkle the top with the remaining cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe modified from Taste of Home

Knitted Cocoon Shrug

Have you ever completed a craft project and felt a bit disappointed with the outcome? I’m sure we have all been there… I know I have quite a few times. You kind of feel like you wasted your time and possibly money on the supplies.

For the longest (a few years to be sort of exact) I finished knitting a rectangle that would ultimately become a shrug – all that was left to do was seam it together. I folded it and placed stitch markers on the sides so I knew exactly where I needed to seam, but then I folded it up and placed it in a corner and kept reminding myself that I had to finish it. I would put it on my desk and in other places so that it would be in my line of vision, but, it just wasn’t working. Not really sure why I was procrastinating. I was possibly thinking that it was going to be more difficult than it really was. Truth be told, I enjoy crocheting and knitting, but I am just not fond of those projects that require seaming at the end to complete them.

But then I finished up another project that requires seaming (hexagons for a Christmas Tree Skirt) and I thought to myself that there was no way I could start seaming this project if I still hadn’t finished the one from years ago. So, I took the rectangle out of the corner and procrastinated for a few more days and then finally sat down and got to work. And guess what, I realized that all that procrastinating was for nothing. I seamed up the sides of the shrug in about an hour. I did one side while watching television and the other side laying in bed before going to sleep. Finishing it prompted me to get out of bed and try it on and that’s when the feeling of disappointment came over me. I tried it and my first thought was “Eh.” The pattern was one size fits all, but, I think if I was a little taller I would like the way it fit in the back better. And while the picture accompanying the pattern had the sleeves coming down about 3/4 of the way on the model’s arm, on me the sleeves end before my elbows. Maybe trying it on over my pj’s didn’t help give me the best impression of the shrug, but, considering that I was fussing with it so much to get it to look just right I don’t know if my thoughts will change. Ultimately, I ended up folding it back up and placing it in another spot. At least it’s done, so, I can to get to work on seaming the hexagons that I am determined to get done before my Christmas Tree goes up this year. I have some time so fingers crossed I will get it done.

 

 

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a blog post is the intro. Thinking of something catchy to grab the reader’s attention to keep reading. I was having that exact problem for this blog post. I was trying to think of something catchy about how sheet pan dinners were becoming a go-to for me, but, I just couldn’t come up with anything. So I will just say, if you are thinking of making chicken tacos, this is a quick and easy way to make the filling. Hopefully that got you!

I began by slicing three bell peppers, an onion and chicken breast into strips. I then combined them all in a large bowl and sprinkled it with a spice mixture of chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander and salt and pepper. Next I drizzled everything with olive oil and gave it a good toss. I then transferred the mixture to a rimmed baking sheet that I lined with aluminum foil.

I then baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

Ideally at this point, while the chicken fajita mixture is still hot, it would be the perfect time to make tacos or fajitas with it, but, I made this as prep for the upcoming week’s dinner. So, after letting it cool to room temperature I placed it an airtight container and refrigerated it. The following evening I heated up some of it up and made tacos with it. And I am happy to say that it heated up well.

 

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients:

Fajita Seasoning:

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon coriander

Salt and black pepper

Fajita Filling:

1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breast, sliced into thin strips

3 bell pepper (1 of each – red, green & yellow), sliced into strips

1 medium yellow onion, sliced into strips

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

For serving:

Taco size flour tortillas

Lime wedges

Sour cream

Guacamole

Salsa

Cheese

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the fajita seasoning and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the chicken, peppers, onion and garlic. Sprinkle with the fajita season and the drizzle with the olive oil. Toss everything together and then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Spreading everything in an even layer.

Cook in the preheated oven for 18-25 minutes, tossing everything at the halfway point.

To serve, wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and heat in the oven for five minutes. Drizzle lime juice over the fajita filling and season with salt to taste. Tossing everything to coat.

Serve the filling warm in the warm tortillas with your desired topping.

Recipe from Cooking Classy