Sunday, March 29, 2009

Krabby Patty Birthday Cake

Before our son's 18th birthday celebration we asked him what kind of cake he wanted. His choice was a Krabby Patty cake (from SpongeBob Squarepants). Before I get into the process, I decided to "interview" Mr. Mary Cooks as he did all the hard work on this cake. Remember, he also created the awesome SpongeBob cake for our daughter's 3rd birthday.

So, Mr. Mary Cooks, what was the most difficult part of making the Krabby Patty cake?

Deciding to get up before 1 pm to decorate it. NO! I'm kidding! The most difficult part was deciding if the top of the bun was going to be frosted or covered with fondant. In hindsight, frosting was a better choice. Do you know how hard it is to make food coloring tan? If I had to do it again I'd still have a hard time deciding between fondant or frosting for the top but I'd probably try to use warm frosting to slip a smooth coating onto it.

What part was the most fun?

Seeing all the little details come together. Even though you couldn't see the ketchup and mustard, it looked like ketchup and mustard. Maybe I should do a dozen sliders with cupcakes!

That sounds very ambitious.

What was your favorite part of the whole experience?

When the teenager couldn't tell me how many bites it would take (to eat the hamburger).

Tell me about the fondant. The creation process, the ease of use, and the taste.

Well, on the first day, well, it wasn't real fondant. It was a substitute marshmallow fondant made principally of marshmallows and sugar. A lot of marshmallows and sugar. And, as you'd expect, inside the cake it tasted like marshmallows and sugar so it was actually an item you could eat. Creation than breading chicken with both hands. Sticky, sticky, sticky! When it got warm it got stickier. When it got cold it got harder to knead together. There wasn't really a happy medium. But the gel food color did mix quickly as long as you knew what color you were going to use.

Let's talk about the plastic wrap during the rolling of the fondant.

Well, the fondant really liked to stick to it, especially when I applied the rolling pin. Next time I'd like to spritz it with some vegetable oil. I think that would also make the "lettuce" look more shiny.

What would you do differently?

On the subject of shiny, spraying the brownie patty down with some thinned corn syrup would make it look oily, like a greasy burger. You'd only have to do the edge.

A side of fries would have been nice but time dictated otherwise.

There are more condiments that could be done such as onions, pickles, and bacon. Bacon could be fun, especially for other projects. But that means I'd really want to learn how to make cane glass. I think that's a start towards figuring out realistic bacon.

Would you make this cake again?

I don't know if I'd make THIS one again; but a dozen sliders might be interesting. I think it'd be funny. Little cupcake krabby patties! Doesn't seem to be as much fun to make the same thing again.

Finally, what cake are you looking forward to making next?

I'm still thinking about what cakes I'd like to do. But next is really dictated by whose birthday is coming up. I'd like to do a Gir cake with a cupcake inside his head. Then we could quote some lines from the show explaining why Gir has a cupcake inside his head.

Well, that's it. Thank you very much! On with the photos and descriptions!

One box yellow cake mix
One box brownie mix (follow directions for cake-like brownies)
Two tubs Betty Crocker vanilla frosting
16 oz. mini marshmallows
2 pounds powdered sugar
gel colors

We used the recipe found at What's Cooking America by Peggy Weaver. Mr. Mary Cooks and the middle child made this the night before.

The morning of the cake assembly, I baked the cakes and the brownies. For the cakes, I poured a little more into one round cake pan than the other so the top bun would be thicker.

The tomatoes were formed with small balls of fondant. They were colored red, pressed, and flattened with a rolling pin.

Finally, edges were made to make them look a little more like tomatoes.

Cheese is up next. Some drops of food coloring were put on the fondant.

The coloring was kneaded into the fondant. He also used a tiny bit of red to make the cheese look orange.

The yellow portion of the fondant was rolled out and cut into squares using a pizza cutter. There was enough to make two slices of cheese.

Peeling up the excess revealed the square shape.

The lettuce was made by coloring the fondant green, rolling it out, then using crumpled newspaper on both top and bottom to give it some texture. I thought this was a genius move!

Now comes the assembly. The bottom layer was trimmed so it would be flat.

White frosting for the mayonnaise was applied to the top of the cake.

The brownie layer was trimmed and placed on top of the mayo.

Some frosting was tinted red and drizzled onto the brownie for ketchup.

Next, frosting was made yellow and drizzled on for mustard.

See? Doesn't it look like a burger?

The time for the toppings has come! First, lettuce. We all need a little more green in our lives, right?

Next, cheese. I LOVE how this totally looks like American cheese slices.

Finally, tomatoes. These look delicious.

Every burger should have extra mayo! I mean, if you're going to eat it, eat it the right way!

The top was placed on. Not wouldn't be good for it to look perfect.

The tan frosting was put all over the top bun.

We used almond slices for sesame seeds.

Before I show the complete Krabby Patty cake, indulge me in some detail photos.

Et voila! The finished cake!

Happy birthday!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

White Chili

I think I have perfected my white chili recipe. You can use cooked turkey or chicken in this recipe. I opted for turkey as I made one yesterday and we had leftover meat. The taste is so delicious and, apparently, gravity really likes this as well as the floor claimed two bowls and the counter tried to get its share as well! Oops! At least it makes a fair amount so it still fed the family.

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 15.5 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cubed
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 4 ounce can diced green chiles, undrained
1 14.5 ounce can fat-free chicken broth
3/4 can of water
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded lowfat Monterey Jack cheese

In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the onions and the garlic.

Stir the onions and garlic frequently, until softened. This will take about 5 minutes. Next, add the can of green chiles.

Stir in the spices.

Stir the mixture until everything is coated and softened, about 2 minutes.

Add the chopped turkey (or chicken).

Next, add the chicken broth.

Bring the tomatoes to the party!

To extend the recipe a bit I add about 3/4 of a can of water.

Add the rinsed and drained beans.

Finally, add the mashed beans.

Stir everything together and bring to a boil.

Let the chili simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the time is up, add 4 ounces of reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese. Add it a few handfuls at a time, stirring while you add it so it doesn't clump all together.

Serve. You can garnish with sour cream and green onions like I did here. You can also put crumbled chips, cilantro, more Jack cheese, jalapeƱos, or, well, just about anything you'd like on top of this chili.

This was so delicious and easy, especially for a weeknight meal. The kids all loved it, even the preschooler!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An American-Irish Dinner for a German-Scottish Family

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

This morning, as we were driving in to work, Mr. Mary Cooks expressed a desire to have corned beef and cabbage tonight for dinner. I hadn't really been planning on it (didn't think I was in the mood) but since he wanted it I stopped at the store on the way home for supplies.

In my family, we always boil the corned beef and put the vegetables in the pot as well. Despite sounding a little dull and overdone, I actually like it. It's comforting to me to prepare this dish the same way my mother does.

Corned beef (flat cut)
Potatoes (I used red this year - just use as many as you think will get eaten)
Carrots (I used baby carrots, and ditto the potato quantity)
Cabbage, quartered (or you can cut it into eighths)

Fill a big stock pot up about halfway with cold water. Place the corned beef in the pot.

Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour.

Now it's time to add the vegetables. First, I put the potatoes in. Be careful not to splash yourself with the hot liquid!

Now, add the carrots.

Finally, lay the cabbage on top. You'll want to submerge it more than I did here.

After about 35 more minutes, the vegetables and everything should be done. Remove the corned beef and slice (diagonally for a good presentation).

And here you have the perfect American St. Patrick's Day meal!

I think this dish is so easy and anyone can make it. If you have corned beef leftover (this never happens in my house) you can use it the next day to make Reuben sandwiches. Yum!