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Friday, April 27, 2012

Harvey Wallbanger Cake for Picnic Day

I made this cake for a small gathering on Unitrans alumni friends in Davis last weekend.  It was the 98th Picnic Day celebration and the 1st Picnic Day at the Park for me and my Unitrans buddies.  Our fellow alumni, Mike, has gathered at Davis Central Park for years and I was lucky enough to stumble on his mini-party last year for the first time.   As you might remember I helped organize a reunion of my Unitrans buds last October...The pictures pretty much told the story.  No bus driving this time, but we had a blast, replete with a great BBQ at Mike's beautiful home (off the golf course) in Woodland. 

My friend, Lisa, gave me this recipe.  It started with a phone call...I rarely answer my phone (as most of my friends know...).  When I heard Lisa's voice, it sounded kinda concerned.  She had planned to make her father's favorite bday cake, Harvey Wallbanger, and couldn't find a key ingredient: orange cake mix.  The cake is based on the cocktail which dates back to the 1950s.  Once I heard the NAME of this cake, I was IN! 

So, onto the internet search to figure out what this cake was all about...I found a few recipes with pictures.  Intriguing.  Fun.  Different.  Galliano?  I needed a REASON to buy some...Really.  It's the truth.  I have a fondness for this Italian vanilla-anise liqueur after many a Unitrans trip up to Poor Reds for amazing Golden Cadillacs and the best tasting ribs on EARTH.  Mind you, after a few too many cocktails at a very young age, most ANY food is going to be the BEST you've ever tasted.  ;-) 

A few weeks later, Lisa had successfully made the cake with a yellow mix and she saved me a piece...Moist and such a different, yet amazingly complex flavor.  I knew I had Picnic Day plans with my Unitrans buds (Lisa's husband, Ivan, and I drove buses see the connections here) and THIS WAS THE CAKE! 

Unitrans alumni meets Poor Reds memories meets Picnic Day at the Park!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Limoncello Pound Cake

Limoncello pound cake

I am on a mission to make a (successful) lemon meringue pie...Wait, what? This post is supposed to be about limoncello pound cake! Yes, yes it is. Bear with me here.

So, lemon meringue is my all-time favorite kind of pie - and I really, really love just about any kind of pie. I made a gorgeous lemon meringue pie last summer, and followed the directions precisely, but the darn pie never set. It was a beautiful lemon meringue soup, which I ended up spilling all over the driveway, my shoes, and my dog as I struggled to carry way too many things to the car. I was horrified and traumatized and haven't been able to summon the nerve to try again - until now. Armed and dangerous with a brand new recipe, I set upon my task. The pie did, indeed set, but I decided the recipe was awful. Again, it looked gorgeous, but it wasn't nearly lemony enough for my taste. So the search continues for the perfect lemon meringue pie recipe. I'm determined to find it! I did find, on this particular afternoon, a good way to use up the extra egg yolks I had left over from my lemon meringue pie mission. And that brings us to this lovely, bright, lemony limoncello pound cake.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blackberry-Banana Coffee Cake with Cassis

Ever found yourself with this baking dilemma?  Fruit in your refrigerator or on your counter that you just HAVE to eat or it will go bad, wasting valuable and luscious food for which you paid good money?  I was up against this use-it-or-pitch-it situation a few weeks ago with blackberries AND bananas.  To be honest, I get TIRED and WEARY of banana bread, banana muffins, banana cake, blah, blah, blah...And, to add beautiful deep purpley-black, plump and juicy blackberries to this baking dilemma was, well, daunting...See my dilemma?

I found this recipe at Betty Crocker and it sounded and looked wonderful.  I modified the recipe a lot bit by eliminating HALF of the butter (am I insane CRAZY?!!) and adding bananas instead.  It turned at wonderful, moist and full of flavor.  Not your typical and boring banana this or that, NO WAY!

And, I also think it showcases the blackberries beautifully, don't you think so, too?

It's a layered coffee cake, which I think makes it extra special fancy and one with real WOW Factor.  And, it really is EASY...WOW and EASY!!

Best to grab a fork NOW!!

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes

I threw a girls' night cocktail and dinner party for my mixer, Bella, which was custom painted by Nick Dinardo of Un Amore Custom Designs.  I also made these very special cupcakes for the party...Everyone loved them, moist, vodka-soaked cranberries surrounded by rich lime flavored cake and topped with Cosmopolitan frosting.  What more can I say?  

Bella's party companions were: Melanie, Jacqueline (my BIWB partner extraordinaire), Dorothy (Iron Blogger), Peggy, Nancy, Holly, and Hayley (Blogger Phenom).  All great friends who listened very patiently over the long, long months waiting for Bella to return.  After several delays, including a trip to Michigan to get fixed, she arrived a few weeks ago.  I couldn't be more happy with Nick's design and finished art work.  I am truly luck to have Bella in my home.

And, a very, very special thanks to Peggy for allowing me to borrow her "extra" KitchenAid while Bella was away.  I couldn't have baked a thing or blogged these last few months.  Most especially, there would have been NO Xmas cookies for my 30 friends and family.  I could not thank Peggy enough...Really.  If you bake and you have a KitchenAid, you know I mean.  :)

So you see what Bella is holding?  Take a close look...It's a cosmopolitan!  As the artist, Nick, was putting the finishing touches on Bella, we had to decide what she would be holding.  Rose, wooden spoon, glass of wine?  Wait, wait!  I am known among my friends for making a killer cosmo.  It was only fitting that Bella should be enjoying one for eternity, too.  And, see that bling...Swarovski crystals baby!  Nick's very special gift just for Bella!!

More on Bella later as I'm developing her signature cupcake...Just be patient cuz' you're going to LOVE it!

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes

I think orange is an under-appreciated flavor. It seems like candy dishes always run out of the "popular" flavors, like cherry, chocolate, and lime - leaving a surplus of rejected orange candies languishing at the bottom of the dish. I'm always happy to snatch them up for myself. I like to root for the underdog. And I really, really love orange-flavored everything.

These cupcakes were partially inspired by Icing on the Cupcake's orange cupcakes - which I love - and partially inspired by childhood memories of savoring orange dreamsicles on hot summer days, and swigging orange-flavored Triaminic. Wait, what??! 

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