LEGO Movie : Princess Unikitty Cake

For those of you that took  your kids (or yourself) to the LEGO Movie, BEHOLD, the “Everything is Awesome” Princess Unikitty Birthday cake.

Unikitty Cake

Uni-Kitty

So here’s the story, my girls have played with LEGOs on and off over the years, but once the “LEGO Movie” came out, it has ramped our LEGO-shipping up a notch. Especially for my youngest daughter who will NOT STOP talking about Unikitty and Cloud Cuckoo Land. That part of the movie really stuck with her as well as the “Everything is Awesome” song… Well it stuck with me too.

So over the course of the last month or so, I’ve been adding to our collection of LEGO merchandise. We have the playsets, we have the video game, we have the pajamas, we’ve seen the movie, 3 times, and now (…because of the constant begging and since I love a challenge) we now have a Unikitty Birthday cake.

(Haven’t seen the LEGO Movie yet? It’s fantastic. Stop reading this and watch the trailer!)

Let it be known, I’m NOT a professional cake decorator. I actually don’t remember the last cake I tried to decorate. In fact, I’m not even a huge fan of cake. BUT I AM a champion Playdoh sculptor, so if I just tell my brain that fondant is Playdoh, it all works out.

Clara with her Unikitty Cake. Happy Birthday my sweet little girl!

Clara with her Unikitty Cake. Happy 4th Birthday my sweet little girl!

I did alot of searching online for Unikitty cakes to get some ideas and was highly disappointed. There really isn’t very many out there, maybe Unikitty isn’t as popular as Emmet or Wildstyle, but WE think so. Do not fear Unikitty worshipers, I have posted the “progress shots” to my blog so you can see me struggle, rejoice and beat my head trying to figure out how to make this thing.  Enjoy!

10_Final

Yes, she is AWESOME!

First things first, I've never made fondant, so I found a recipe online and got to work.

First things first, I’ve never made fondant, so I found a recipe online and got to work. I used a dough hook and my Kitchenaid Mixer. I LOVE MY KITCHENAID MIXER.

2_FigureOutSize

Then I scaled up a photo of Unikitty and did a quick outline of how much cake I would need and what I would cut apart. We went to the store… uh two times since estimating isn’t my forte.

3_CakeBody

We used the Funfetti cake, BECAUSE IT’S A BIRTHDAY DUH. I started with the legs and tail. At this point I’m already getting a little nervous.

4_Fondant

Here I am struggling with the fondant. It’s breaking, it’s pinching, it’s not even whatsoever. And look in the back how much cake I’m wasting! Honestly at this point I wasn’t sure if it was going to turn out.

5_Pieces

BUT I WILL NOT GIVE UP! Now I’m using food coloring and dying the fondant the different colors to get the LEGO legs, neck and outline of the tail. Yes, I’m messy, I’m just a mom. THERE ARE NO INSTRUCTIONS FOR THIS! THIS IS WHAT YOU DO FOR YOUR FOUR YEAR OLD!

6_Head

Now I had to bake two more cakes to start the head. I’m all about proportion. I’ve seen enough cake shows that it’s much easier to cut if the cake is cold/frozen. Worked out perfect.

7_Covered

Covered the head in fondant, now I know I have seams everywhere, but honestly, nobody really cares!  Unless of course you are a professional cake decorator.

8_Details

Now onto the details, some ears and face. At this point I’m actually having fun, it’s more like molding and rolling and using cookie cutters to get shapes.

9_Face

More fondant fun, I have permanently dyed my hands black by using black food coloring on the eyes. Made the horn and some stars to cover up flaws.

10_Final

Then I piped white icing around some of the seams just to smooth everything out and cover up the major flaws.  All in all I’m super happy with it. And my daughter thinks I’m “Totally Awesome.” Can’t get much better than that! We love you Clara! Happy Birthday!

The only downside to this is that my OTHER daughter wants a WildStyle cake for her birthday. I have until July to try to figure that one out!

Thanks for reading! ~April

April’s Grilled Veggie Medley

“Are there any more vegetables left?”…So says my husband last night at dinner! I look at him like he’s nuts. Really? You want more veggies? Who are you?

On my journey of “eating clean” or more like “eating clean..er” I’ve gotten my husband (who hates anything that grows out of the ground) to actually LIKE the veggies I painstakingly prepare for myself at every meal!??

WIN!

So what did I prepare? I think most restaurants would call it a “Fresh Grilled Vegetable Medley”, but I kinda just made it up so I thought I better write it down!

Get yourself a grill pan, put in a TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, chop up 1/2 a sweet onion, handfuls of fresh Cauliflower, fresh Broccoli florets, fresh Brussel Sprouts quartered and some thinly sliced/strawed Kohlrabi. Grill them up so they are getting that carmel brown and hit it with a few “real” bacon bits and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. As they are all mixing together, season with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper flakes. They should still be firm when you take it out of the pan.

Recipe approved by picky husband! Woot!

Buddy’s Pizza Margarita

Buddy's Pizza

I’m becoming a pizza snob.  Eating frozen pizzas and low-rent pizza-chain pizza are out in my book*. I just can’t do it anymore.  The cardboard, the grease, the heartburn, uninspiring toppings, blah. So I’ve resorted to trying my hand at making my own pizzas at home.  Now eventually I’m hoping to get a wood-fire oven, but until then my poor 500 degree oven is going to have to do.

So on my quest for the “perfect” homemade pizza I have a list of about 10 recipes from various resources that I’ve been slowly gathering but this week I’m starting with Buddy Valastro. I’ll admit it, I love the Cake Boss. I think that whole crew is hilarious and someday I’d love to see the bakery in person but trying his Kitchen Boss recipes are the next best thing. So I went after the Margarita Pizza episode and I must say, it turned out really good! Light toppings, homemade sauce and homemade dough, totally worth the time it makes and I’d make it again in a heartbeat, BOOKMARKED and STARRED!  Alton Brown, your pizza is next.

*Unless it’s Lazzari’s in Lincoln NE before a Husker game. woot!

Buddy’s Pizza Dough Recipe

15 ounces unbleached a.p. flour (approx 3 1/4 cups)
9 ounces tepid water
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

PREPARATION:

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle and mix, low, until mixture comes together. Switch to the dough hook and continue mixing, medium-low, another 3-4 minutes. Check dough – if too dry, add a bit more water. If too sticky, add a bit more flour.

Dump dough onto a lightly floured countertop or board and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5- 7 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Let rest 1/2 hr. to 45 minutes until risen.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and press down to deflate. Cut the dough into thirds (or desired portions), and form into tight balls to press air out.

At this point, you can place the balls of dough on a floured board covered with oiled plastic or a towel, and let rise one hour if you want to use the dough today. Alternately, place the dough on a lightly floured tray, cover with oiled plastic and refrigerate overnight. Allow dough to sit a room temperature 10-15 minutes before shaping/baking.

Buddy’s Pizza Sauce

1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 smashed clove garlic
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 Tablespoon sugar
Salt to taste

Prep: Throw into a food processor until smooth, let set for an hour to let the flavors marry.

Buddy’s Margarita Pizza

INGREDIENTS

1 ball Buddy’s Pizza Dough (see recipe above)
1/4 cup Buddy’s Pizza Sauce (see recipe above)
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4″ thick, drained on paper towels (The kind that’s a ball, NOT SHREDDED)
6 leaves fresh basil (I used 10 and chopped them)
Salt
Best-quality extra virgin olive oil

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 500° with a pizza stone on bottom rack.
Pat, stretch and roll dough out to a 9-10″ round. Gently place dough on a floured peel (a.p. flour or semolina). With the back of a large spoon or ladle, spread sauce over dough allowing for a 1/2″ border.
Tear the basil randomly over the pizza. Tear the mozzarella over the pizza as well.
Slide the pizza onto the stone. Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese bubbles about 7-10 minutes. Remove the pizza with the peel and sprinkle with a small pinch salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’m a  soup-a-holic during the winter months but the go-to chili and chicken noodle soup recipes can get a bit boring after awhile. So last week I thought I would try my hand at a Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe and it was AWESOME. (Although I must say I was a bit embarrassed that I didn’t know what “hominy” was and looked a little ridiculous in Hyvee searching on my Blackberry for a hint! Sheesh.)

Here’s the modified recipe I used:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (48 ounce) “box” chicken broth
  • 1  cups water (if you need it)
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
  • 1 cup white hominy
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • crushed tortilla chips (not-optional!)
  • sliced avocado (optional)
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese (not-optional!)
  • chopped green onions (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook your chicken first and dice into large chunks, set aside.
  2. In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, cilantro. Simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Before your ready to serve, stir in cooked chicken and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, hit it with lime juice and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese, and chopped green onion.

Eat your Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

Yes, I am one of those crazy people that LIKE green vegetables. In fact, I would rather eat broccoli, green beans, spinach, snap peas, all of it, rather than get fast food. One of my favorite vegetables (yes you can roll your eyes) is the tiny brussel sprout. I hate seeing this poor vegetable sit on the produce shelf and get over looked by other passing shoppers. I almost always get brussel sprouts, much to the dismay of my husband, at every grocery outing. (insert WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU here)

April’s Grilled Brussel Sprout Salad

10-14 fresh Brussel Sprouts halved/quartered depending on size
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 minced garlic clove or tsp garlic powder
season with Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
sprinkle of halved walnuts
sprinkle of dried cranberries

My favorite way to eat them is grilled and I’ll give you a very simple way to make them. I’ll steam them for a few minutes, then finish them off on my grill pan with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Char them up with salt, pepper and minced garlic. Drop in some chopped walnuts and dried cranberries and you’re done. It’s a perfect warm “salad” for winter. Try it!

The Lost Butterdejgs Kringler Recipe

Everyone has that one lost recipe in their family. For me it’s two. You know the one, so and sos great great mother’s mother on your father’s side… and sadly the recipe was lost when she passed away. Back then no one wrote anything down or measured. It was all by feel of the dough, pinches and dashes, handfuls and taste, and sadly is now a lost art.

So let me give you a little history on the Butterdejgs Kringler recipe. My grandmother used to make these little Danish pastry cookies for Christmas and with her passing the recipe was lost. My mother and I have tried in vain to recreate the recipe with FoodNetwork knockoffs, Epicurious, AllRecipes, you name it, I’ve searched for it online. Now Kringle or Kringler can be confused with a coffee cake type recipe that uses yeast and cardamom and this is NOT that recipe. This recipe is a light flakey almost pie dough like pastry cookie and has many slightly different variations.

So how exactly do we know that these recipes are incorrect? Luckily my father has a very sharp palette and can tell with one bite that it’s off, (this magical talent of his also applies to the “lost cinnamon roll recipe” that I’ll make in another post.)

This past Christmas we stayed an extra day at my mom’s and I see in her kitchen these very old cookbooks that are basically for decoration. We are talking pre-1800’s. So I’m flipping through them and she is giving me a little background on whose books they were and how they came to be on her shelf.  We were laughing at how they “measured” things back in the day but I wasn’t really paying attention at the recipes until all of a sudden my mom pipes up, “Where is your father!? I need to show him this!”

Sure enough, in a handtyped leaflet that anyone could have overlooked, she found a danish Kringler recipe! After reading it, it seemed so simple! But certain simple things like keeping everything cold, pounding the crap out of the dough or whipping the cream are the things that can change a recipe in just the slightest way so it doesn’t taste right (or how you remember).   So today is the day that I will try my hand at this old family recipe and also share it with you.  So I present to you the Butterdejgs Kringler:

Butterdejgs Kringle

Butterdejgs Kringler (Danish Pastry Pretzels)

2 cup flour
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup butter

It is important that everything be kept cold.

Whip the cream. Stir into 1 1/2 cup flour (Using the other 1/2 cup for rolling and pounding out the dough.) Roll out dough on cold bread board. Slice the cold butter and lay on the dough. Roll up dough and start pounding flat with cold rolling pin. Fold over again and again, pounding each time until all the butter has disappeared and small bubbles appear on the dough. Let dough rest in refrigerator two hours. Divide dough in two, roling out one part  at a time, “As thin as a straw.” as they say in Danish.

With a cookie wheel or knife, cut into long strips 1/2 inch wide and 12 inch long. Shape into pretzels or ribbons, dip in sugar gently, or spread with beaten egg white and dip in sugar. Place on ungreased, COLD cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F. until very light brown.

steps

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The milk of human kindness should never be bottled up.