How to Make a Wedding Cake: Assembly and Finishing Touches

It’s been a while since I began the saga of making a wedding cake for some good friends of ours. First, I told you all about selecting flavors and then we made cheesecake filling, pumpkin spice cake, and Baileys cream cheese frosting.

Now all that’s left is just assembling the cake! And believe it or not, while this step is a little scary, it’s actually not that hard. (We already did all the hard work when we frosted each layer!)

And when we are done, we will have a beautiful, delicious tiered wedding cake! At last!

I also just want to heap some praises on the wonderful wedding photographer, Lisa Rice of Lisa Rice Photography, who graciously sent me a few of the official cake photos after my camera battery died! If you are looking for a stupendous photographer, especially if you are based in Ohio, go take a look at her work!

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Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

This pregnancy has definitely done something to my taste buds. For weeks I cringed at the thought of an egg (used to be one of my favorite foods). I suddenly find myself interested in eating Chinese food (one of Dave’s favorite things), and I have discovered a love of potatoes!

I have held a grudge against potatoes for a long time. It just gets my goat that people treat potatoes as a vegetable and neglect their brightly colored roots, fruits, and leafy greens. Potatoes don’t belong on a plate next to a slice of bread. Potatoes are starchy! They drive up blood sugar because the body treats them like carbohydrates!

But…I must admit…they are rather hearty for winter. And the body does need some starchy calories in addition to vegetable nutrients. And potato skins are actually quite full of things that are important to vegetarians, like vitamin B and potassium.

So when I found myself randomly craving potato leek soup, something I had only ever eaten once in my life before, I just went for it. I ate almost the whole batch by myself. And then I made another batch (with a few extra veggies, just because). I think I am hooked.

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Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp Cocktails

Happy New Year!

I meant to share this with you on New Year’s Eve. Appetizers, for me, are the essential New Year’s celebration food, and I wanted to throw your taste buds a little party.

Oh yes, I had all kinds of grand plans for our rockin’ New Year’s celebration…though grand is totally an exaggeration, because, to be honest, we were just tired this year. We just moved. Family holiday events, while fun, were exhausting. And Baby Girl is routinely forcing me to take naps at weird times.

Which meant that this easy shrimp cocktail was actually the only appetizer I managed to make for our little “celebration.” And we rang in the new year much the way we do any other midnight: me reading on the couch while Dave played a video game. *Cue noisemakers…*

But…at least this shrimp cocktail was jazzy and spicy! It certainly has a kick, even though our New Year’s was totally bland.

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How to Bake with a Toddler: Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Before Jake was born, several of my well-meaning friends told me to say goodbye to homemade cookies and from-scratch dinners. Wish my kitchen well and move on.

I both scoffed and worried about that advice. Was it really true that I wouldn’t be able to spend time cooking and baking the way I really like to?

While it’s certainly true that having a kid turned my world upside-down, I have discovered that we can do almost anything together if I am patient. Including baking!

Here’s the thing: baking/cooking together is not only a great way to build culinary confidence into a toddler, and a great way to make a fun activity out of something you were going to do anyway, but it also has a lot of developmental benefits for a little tyke! From early math (let’s count the eggs as we add them to the bowl!) to dumping in the ingredients into the bowl, baking is full of magical learning for little kids. (And guess what, folks!? Toddlers are super capable! I even let Jake help me make this wedding cake I’ve been going on and on about, and it turned out just grand.)

This Christmas season, during a time when family and togetherness are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, I thought I would share with you a few tips that may encourage you to spend time in the kitchen with even your littlest ones. Jake and I have been baking together since he was old enough to stand on his own—he can’t wait to help or watch with even the most mundane kitchen tasks, like making coffee! And it is my sincere hope that he will grow into a confident chef as we continue to cook together!

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Hazelnut Meringues

Hazelnut Meringues

December is baking month. It’s the month when I abandon any pretense of eating healthily and just enjoy cookies!

Which is exactly why I joined the SRC Cookie Carnival this year. Because what could be better than a blog exchange devoted to cookies during a month when that’s all I do in my kitchen anyway?

I was so happy to find a recipe for hazelnut meringues over at Chit Chat Chomp.

Here’s why: I really enjoy making cookies and treats to share during this holiday season. I have been known to host parties specifically devoted to sharing cookies I have baked. This year I packed a dozen cookies into little boxes and brought them around to my new neighbors. Hey, it’s a season of giving! But I also have a growing contingent of friends and family with food allergies, wonderful folks who just can’t eat cookies made with butter or wheat.

Meringues are a perfect solution for me! Meringues are delicious and easy. You can fill them with anything or nothing—though I must admit that I am partial to toasted hazelnuts! You can bake several batches in a day, or “forget” them overnight. Meringue cookies are just lovely!

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Chocolate Mint Butter Cookies

Chocolate Mint Butter Cookies

Here’s some big news: We are expecting our second baby this coming spring! A little girl!

Jake is very excited to become a big brother. It’s so cute to see the things that stand out to him: he is sure that “Baby Nugget” spends all her time swimming (and she may or may not also be inside his tummy, too); some of his toys have now been earmarked to share with the baby; and he is very concerned that his sister may have to sleep in the same room as the vacuum cleaner.

Here’s some more big news: We just moved to a new house!

This is a super crazy season of life. For months (and maybe you noticed by my conspicuous absence…) I was too exhausted and grossed out to cook anything, and we subsisted largely on Taco Bell (let’s blame that on the baby) and pancakes. Then, at last, I recovered some of my energy and poured it all into making a wedding cake and packing up everything I own to move to a wonderful, amazing, beautiful new house!

It’s been hectic and quite emotional, and I don’t think that’s just the hormones talking.

Now, in the middle of unpacking Christmas has reared its dear sweet head, and it’s definitely time to break out all the delicious cookie recipes and get baking.

I love chocolate and mint together during the holiday season, and these buttery, minty icebox cookies are fairly easy to make. Not only that, but they are cute and festive!

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Turtle Bars

Turtle Bars

I have to admit that the last two months have been the busiest, most stressful two months I can remember.

I really am going to tell you all about that sooner or later…but for now I want to focus on the fact that the Christmas season is a horrendously busy, often unpleasantly stressful time of year for almost everyone! Between the decorating and the gifting, the planning and the gathering, who really has time to bake 12 different batches of cookies?

Baking Christmas cookies is a huge part of my Christmas memories. It’s actually more important to me than decorating the tree (*gasp!*). My mother used to bake a dozen different kinds of cookies to give away to family and friends, and it’s a tradition I just love to carry on.

But this year I am trying to be realistic. I am slowly realizing that, like most people in the world, I do not actually have the time to make six different recipes that require chilling, rolling, shaping, frosting…. What I need is simplicity!

And that is exactly why we must make turtle bars and we must make them now.

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