Cake Wars Drop-Out

Buddy had a birthday this week.

This is the kid who is known for his over-the-top birthday cakes. (Who could forget his infamous M & M shooting catapult cake or his royal pika family surrounded by torches cake!) But this year he left the whole thing in my hands. He had no ideas, no requests, it was all up to me.

But don’t worry – I was ready! After all, I have watched every episode of Cake Wars. I’ve seen every mistakes ever made on cakes and besides, I had an idea.

I was going to make him an electric guitar cake!

Isn’t that an epic idea?! Mind-blowingly amazing!

This cake was going to be so awesome it would probably break Pinterest!

I started by mixing up my cake mix (yes – I cheated and used a cake mix!) but to bump up the flavor and keep it moist, I added sour cream. That was my first mistake.

There will be more.

While the cake baked, I measured Buddy’s guitar, sketched out my design so that everything would be proportional, and cut out a template. This was an amazing template – seriously – I even did fractions to make sure my sides were correct!

I actually thought to myself that I really should mass produce these things and sell them – because honestly – doesn’t every one need to make an electric guitar cake at some point in their life!

When the cake was cooled, I laid my template on top – anxious to get started on my masterpiece!

But the template was too big. What!! Wait, how could that have happened?! I even did the math!

My cake must have shrunk! In a panic I started to whittle sides off, then the top and the bottom. Cake was flying! Forget the proportions of neck to guitar – I barely had enough cake to make a neck!img_0251

Not only that – it was such a moist cake that it kept breaking when I tried to move it from the cooling rack to the serving tray.

I finally had it positioned – a guitar with a neck – and started spreading my buttercream as a crumb coat.

Crumb coat is right. I just kept pulling up cake with each swipe of frosting. This guitar was getting smaller and more messy with each knife stroke. I used up my entire batch of buttercream.

What a disaster! There were cake crumbs and frosting and powdered sugar all over my kitchen and myself.

img_0253I had to mix up another batch of buttercream to hide all the crumbs. More powdered sugar everywhere. My kitchen looked like a winter storm.

So did I.

At this point his amazing electric guitar cake looked more like a fuzzy dwarf electric ukulele.

This did not look Cake Wars worthy. Then I remembered that all the cakes on Cake Wars look so smooth because they are covered with fondant. Yeah – that wasn’t happening.

I considered briefly going with the fuzzy theme and just throwing coconut all over it and calling it a day – but Buddy doesn’t like coconut. So I kept working until my frosting was somewhat smooth – abandoning all thoughts of a piping bag and details.

Instead I turned to an old birthday cake stand-by, a friend that has never failed me, my go-to birthday cake rescue – M & M’s!

img_0255We now had a rainbow dwarf electric ukulele.

And Buddy loved it!

We put 16 re-lighting candles on it, sang Happy Birthday, and watched him try to blow them out over and over again!

It was awesome!

Another birthday cake done.

I’m hanging up my apron now. My dreams of ever winning Cake Wars completely destroyed.

Trust me people – they make it look easy on TV.

But boy was that cake moist!


Buddy’s Birthday: 12th Edition

We did it again.

Child’s birthday party number 79 is now history.

This one was Buddy’s – his 12th.

Some of you may remember his last year’s cake – a masterpiece of Lego engineering complete with a M & M cannon and his favorite Pika.

This year was just as spectacular!

He had not one – but two royal Pika’s – complete with crowns, guards, a court jester, and a royal food tester – all made out of Lego’s and designed by Buddy himself.

It was truly a site to behold – especially when all the candles were lit and started to lean dangerously over.

We have never sung “Happy Birthday” so quickly.

I have never been so glad to see 12 candles blown out!

And I still can’t believe that 12 years could go by so quickly!

Happy birthday Buddy! We love you!

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake

Peanut Butter CakeEvery year before Dagmar’s birthday – she pours over cookbooks and websites to find the perfect ice cream cake.

Her only requirements are chocolate and of course – peanut butter.

This year’s concoction was no exception.

It was a veritable feast of peanut butter – chocolate goodness with creamy peanut butter ice cream and crushed up peanut butter cups.

Warning – this is NOT low calorie. Sure is good though!

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake

Original recipe from Kittencal

1 quart chocolate ice cream
16 ounces peanut butter
6 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped and frozen
2/3 cup chopped salted peanuts


1-1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

Combine all the crust ingredients in a a bowl and then press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool. Put in the freezer until ready to fill.

in a large bowl combine the softened ice cream with peanut butter until well combined. Then mix in 4 of the chopped peanut butter cups and 1/3 cup of chopped peanuts. Spread in the frozen crust.

Sprinkle with the remaining peanut butter cups and chopped peanuts.

Freeze until firm.


This post linked up with Tempt my Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

chocolate chip cheesecake It’s birthday season again.

Angel Girl begins our round of summer birthdays. It’s been a year of changes for her.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I slowly realized that she never played with the Polly Pockets anymore – and the doll house was sitting idle.

I knew she was growing up when she asked for a cheesecake instead of the traditional birthday cake.

No worries – we all love cheesecake. But there was still a hint of sadness that my little girl is growing up.

No more castle cakes, or flower cakes, or Candy Land cakes (my personal favorite!).

She’s  slowly moving into the world of adults.

She picked a chocolate chip cheesecake, and I used two different recipes to create this one.  Since I didn’t have any vanilla wafers, I substitutes graham crackers crumbs in the crust. It tasted great – and since we all know that the crust is just the conduit to hold the cream cheese filling together to get it to your mouth – it was perfect! 🙂
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons baking cocoa
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted


3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate  chips

In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-in. springform pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine sugar and flour; beat into cream cheese.

Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Add the cream, vanilla and chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared crust. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. (Cheesecake top may crack.)

Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Garnish the cheesecake with mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12-14 servings.


I’ve linked this post up with Lisa over at Stop and Smell the Chocolates and at Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake

Feathery Chocolate Fudge CakeI can’t believe it is Buddy’s 9th birthday already! When did my baby turn nine? It seems like yesterday I was watching him take his first steps and now he’s reading Redwall books, writing in cursive and begging to drive the 4 wheeler by himself.

At least he is still young enough to enjoy a traditional birthday cake – chocolate cake with Cool Whip frosting and decorated with M & M’s and his own Lego creations.

This year I tried a new chocolate cake recipe – Feathery Chocolate Fudge Cake – from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.

Although it had great flavor, it didn’t quite live up to it’s “feathery” name. It seemed a little dense and heavy to me – but Buddy didn’t seem to mind – he loved it as did the rest of the birthday party guests!

Feathery Fudge Cake

2/3 cup soft butter of margarine
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate (melted and cooled)
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup cold water

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla till fluffy (beat 5 minutes at high speed on mixer, scraping bowl occasionally to guide batter into beaters, or beat 5 minutes by hand).

Blend in chocolate.

Sift flour with soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with cold water; beat after each addition.

Bake in 2 paper-lined  9 X1-1/2 inch round pans in moderate oven (350 degrees) 30 to 35 minutes or till done. (We used a 9 x 13 pan, would have made a difference in the texture of the cake.)

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Frost with your favorite frosting. (I use extra creamy Cool Whip – it’s fast, easy, and no-fail!)


Dagmar’s Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Ice Cream Cake Having four summer birthdays  has forced me to be creative when it comes to birthday cakes.

All year I’m on the look-out for amazing – but easy – ice cream cake recipes. My criteria is simply – something I don’t have to bake but the kids will love.

Pedro has been quite happy with his ice cream sandwich cake for several years now – but Dagmar has yet to find the perfect cake.

This year I discovered a recipe I had torn out of an old issue of Family Circle magazine. I don’t even know the year or the month of the issue!

Using ice cream sandwiches cut and stacked around the edge and filled with ice cream, the recipe was fancy enough to be pretty, but super easy!  Dagmar loved it!

Layered Ice Cream Cake

15 oreo cookies
1 tablespoon milk
8-9 ice cream sandwiches
3 pints ice cream (we used all chocolate mint – but you could do layers of whatever flavors you wish – such as vanilla and strawberry)
1 – 8 ounce container of Cool Whip

Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray and line the edges with waxed paper.

Finely crush 12 of the Oreo cookies ina food processor. Add the milk and pulse again. Set aside.

Unwrap the ice cream sandwiches and cut into quarters. Stack strips of sandwiches on end around the edge of the springform pan.  (It is helpful to have someone helping you on this step – the ice cream gets soft fast. I unwrapped and Dagmar cut and placed.) This creates the cool strips around the edge of the cake!

Spoon the cookie crumbs into the bottom of the pan and press firmly over the bottom. Freeze on hour.

Remove the ice cream from the freezer and let it soften for 15 minutes. Carefully spread the ice cream in the crust – using layers if you choose. We just filled the crust with chocolate mint ice cream.

Frost the entire cake with thawed Cool Whip

The recipe called for crushing the remaining 3 Oreos and sprinkling them on top of the Cool Whip – but we wanted more of topping, so we crushed the remaining 3 Oreos with a large Butterfinger bar and sprinkled it over the top.

Return to the freezer – overnight if possible.

Before serving, carefully remove the side of the pan and pull off the waxed paper. Cut into wedges to serve.

Then just sit back and bask in the compliments!


Birthday on a Budget Part 2

birthday cakeTraditions.

When you need to do birthdays on a budget, especially multiple birthdays, the secret is to start some inexpensive traditions.

Remember that the object here is to honor the birthday child, have fun and make some memories!

Take the birthday cake for example. you really don’t need to visit the bakery and spend a lot of money on a beautifully decorated cake. Be creative!

My oldest sister always made a chocolate cake (from a box) and cut it into the first letter of the birthday child’s name. Then she frosted it with chocolate frosting (from a can) and decorated it with a bag of M & M’s. Cheap, child friendly, and a memory that her kids will remember for a long time.

When they were younger my children wanted special cakes, like a forest fire cake, a butterfly cake or a race track cake. I found the easiest thing to do was to bake a 9 x 13 cake and frost it. This creates your canvas. Then we used plastic toys, legos, duplos, matchbox cars, etc… with M & M’s, colored sugar, sprinkles, and marshmallows to create a masterpiece.

The best part was that we created it together. We didn’t just make a cake, we made a memory! And…since the birthday child helped, they thought it was the most amazing cake ever!

Remember that creating memories doesn’t have to mean spending lots of money!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake: Happy Birthday Angel Girl!

chocolate chip cheesecake
It’s birthday time at our house again! It’s Angel Girl’s 10th birthday tomorrow and she’s very excited!

We had planned to celebrate tomorrow, but the flooding in Des Moines caused us to move things up a day so Poppa and Nana can get back home before things get worse.

I’m pretty flexible, but this change of plans threw me for a loop because it didn’t give me any time to go to the grocery store. I had to do an entire party from my pantry, including the cake. Good thing I had a well-stocked pantry!

I did not, however have all the ingredients needed to make the Green Dragon Dessert she requested for her cake. Nor did I have everything I needed for the other two suggestions she gave.

Finally I remembered the cream cheese I had bought on sale and froze. I suggested cheesecake and she loved the idea!

This was the first cheesecake I ever made (I’m blushing to admit that!) and I prayed over this one. I put together two different recipes but it turned out just wonderful and I have a very happy birthday girl.

Angel Girl’s Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Combine: 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 36 squares), 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of butter (melted). Press into the bottom and about 1 inch up the side of a greased 10 inch springform pan. Set aside.

Mix together: 2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese (softened), 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla

Add 3 eggs, beat on low until just combined. Stir in 1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Pour into crust and bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Cool on wire rack for ten minutes.

Melt together: 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 Tablespoon butter, 4 teaspoons heavy whipping cream. Stir till smooth.

Pour over the cheesecake and spread it evenly.

Carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Cool one hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of the pan.

I let Angel girl decorate the top with M & M’s. She’s thrilled with it, and I am relieved!

Happy birthday, Angel Girl!

Buddy’s 7th Birthday Cake

My baby turned 7 yesterday. Made me feel a little old, but also more wise and experienced. I sat down and figured out that his birthday cake was the 54th one that I created. I learned a few things along the way, like the more involved the birthday child is, the more they will love their cake. I also learned that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that even if my cake will never grace the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, it will make a child feel special and that’s what’s most important. And above all else, make sure it tastes great! Over the years we’ve designed some very unique cake creations, and this year was no exception. Together, Buddy and I designed an amazing Race Track Cake, complete with a NASCAR race in the chocolate oval with a TV satellite truck, ambulance and wrecker on the side lines! We made a simple chocolate sheet cake brownie, frosted it with Cool Whip (my other birthday secret! It saves time and tastes great!), then outlined the track in M&M’s before filling it with a crushed Hershey bar. The outfield grass was just green sugar sprinkles. All of the cars came from his Matchbox Cars collection. He was so proud of that cake! And it tasted great, too!

Cookie Sheet Chocolate Brownies:

Combine 1 stick margarine, 1 cup water, 1/4 c. cocoa and 1/2 c. cooking oil in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Pour over 2 c. flour, 2 c. sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add 1/2c. buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. soda, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Blend and pour into greased cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.