Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Toffee Dip
from the internet, filed into my Ugly Binder

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
¾ cup of light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla
approximately half a bag of Heath toffee bits

Mix cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla together well.  Mix in toffee bits.  Keep refrigerated (it will not stiffen up).  Serve with apples or other fruit. You could also put out some graham crackers or vanilla wafers – use your imagination! I’ll assume that you could use a lower or no-fat cream cheese in this but I used full-fat.

I first made this dip in the fall, after the boys and I went apple picking with some friends.  For some reason, I chose to fill the larger sized bag they offered, which filled properly was already too many apples for just the three of us, I’m not sure what I was thinking.  Then the boys got a little overzealous towards the finish, and continued to pick apples after the bag was technically full, and I found myself trying to maneuver an extremely overflowing bag of apples to the car while people gave me dirty looks.  Hey, the alternative was tossing the extra apples the boys had picked on the ground, which was already littered with thousands of apples that fell from the trees on their own – why send a few more to their death needlessly?  I really wasn’t trying to be greedy.  Really.

We were invited to a Halloween party that evening so I needed a quick way to turn our surplus of apples into a potluck contribution and this recipe was it. I found it on the internet, where exactly I don’t remember (I just jotted down the ingredients from one of the many sites you can find this recipe on), and I left out cinnamon and nutmeg from the original recipe.  They just didn’t appeal to me here.

I decided to mix this up for my son's birthday party this past weekend since I wanted to serve fruit and I still had half a bag of the toffee chips in my cupboard. I like this with a tart apple since the dip is very sweet, and also, as a bonus, the tart apples don’t tend to brown as fast as other apples, if you're cutting your own apples and they'll be sitting out a while, you probably don’t have to worry about putting lemon juice or anything on the apples.  For Nick's party I used the bagged, pre-sliced apples which have a preservative on them to keep them from browning, so that wasn’t an issue.

It went over well both times – not ‘OMG!  What is this?!  I must have this recipe!’ well but well enough for something that takes so very little effort.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Getting better at this

Nick only had birthday pie last year, and no party so this year I decided to have him invite a few friends over to the house. It was probably his best party yet. It was 50+ degrees outside and all the guests were truly his friends, mostly kids who live in the neighborhood plus his best friend from preschool that he still keeps in touch with. He chose an army theme and I was pretty proud of how the cake turned out. I had planned a fancier design but I had a few interruptions in party preparation this week so it ended up pretty simple but the camo came out just as I hoped it would. I was running out of frosting when it came time for the finishing touches so the border was minimal but it did the job.

I researched putting camo on a cake rather thoroughly - it's not as easy as it looks, not for someone with very limited artistic talent. I saw a lot of poor examples of it. I ended up doing a buttercream transfer (my go-to cake trick), using a pattern I copied off of Nick's coat, and I smoothed it out with Viva paper towel. I used the Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe, 1 1/2 times the recipe for a half sheet cake. I used the Easy Buttercream recipe for the frosting (a few batches). If you follow that link to the buttercream recipe, you'll see that my cake decorating skills are improving.

I also made camo cupcakes, basically following these instructions, using Duncan Hines cake mix.  I used the small boxes that make 12 cupcakes, one of yellow, one of devil's food.

I'm hoping to do a little more blogging this year but I'm not making any promises.