Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

get ready! gut bomb coming at ya

I felt so refreshed and good about my refocus on my dieting after eating the lemon bars that I thought I could be a little diet dangerous today. I stumbled across an easy recipe on Bakerella's website. It combines two of my favorite things- brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

I love chocolate chip cookies. They are like syrup to my soul. A warm blanket out of the dryer, a hug from your mama.
But brownies... they are my kryptonite. My personal downfall and totally my achilles heel. We have a true love/hate relationship because I can never EVER get the recipe just right. I love to bake them because even when they don't come out right, the crumbles are still delicious. But I get incredibly frustrated as I try to cut into the pan and realize the top is crackly, but the bottom is runny. It is seriously my constant battle.

This recipe from Bakerella uses a boxed brownie mix (gasp, I know, I know) but I figure for a first run recipe, I'm OK w/ using the mix to see how it all goes down. And I figure the brownies will set up properly because it's a box dangit and they just better!

I'm not putting pictures up of me mixing a BOX MIX of brownies. You know what it looks like. So, lets fast forward to where I got creative.
I made a chocolate ganache! yuuu-uum

whipping cream and almost a full stick of butter... melt....

a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips waiting to be smothered

douse the chips w/ the creamy butter mixture and let it sit for about 20 seconds

then stir until it is all combined

take the pan of brownies and chocolate chip cookies out of the oven (after about 40 minutes of baking in a 9x13 pan)

and while it is still hot, dump the ganache over the brownies and evenly spread it around

and then, let it sit. and sit... and sit until the ganache sets up. You have to wait AT LEAST an hour. If you can manage let it sit for a couple of hours because the ganache will still be runny. THEN you can cut into it. and the ganache will still run down the sides a little but, but it just adds to the perfect bite.

so... there was some craziness that went down in my house today and I got too.... distracted shall we say, to take a picture of the brownies cut up. But, they looked WONDERFUL and tasted even better.

Do yourself a favor and whip these up. If you use ALL boxed ingredients, this will get done in no time and you can just use frosting out of a can to put on top and everyone will love you just the same. Do it now I say and you will not regret it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

mmm... crumbly lemon goodness

Last night, I whipped up a monster breakfast for dinner feast for the kiddies and my bestie and we watched New Moon (side note, Taylor Lautner = HOT... hot DAMN is he good looking. I became a fan in an instant). It included 'fluffy' french toast, home fries, crispy bacon and scrambled eggs. I haven't eaten that much since... last weekend... :) I forgot to take pictures because I'm a nightmare at getting everything to the table at the same time- I'm a frenzied mess when I cook. It's total chaos and not in the least bit controlled. Miracle the food got to the table so picture taking was not even an option. But, trust me, it was yummy. Just ask the bestie!

I followed that up this a.m. with some cinnamon rolls w/ cream cheese frosting. De-light-ful (I've already bored everyone with those pictures, so I didn't take any more). And then took #1 to see his FIRST movie in the theater (How to train your Dragon= MUST SEE! super cute) where we proceeded to have a picnic in the theater at 10:30 a.m. The menu consisted of buttered popcorn, m&m's and raisenets. oh, and some soda. am I a terrible mother? At least he had a banana with breakfast.

SO, how does one top all of this il advised diet crashing food?? Make something psuedo good for you of course! Here is the back story-

While driving home from work this week, my carpool buddy ("son of a preacher man" or SOAP-m) helped me come up with some ideas for what to do with those pesky egg yolks aka the 'yellows'- that I have left over when I make the Swiss buttercream.
The tastiest option was lemon bars. sigh... Lemon Bars remind me of my mom, of Spring, of fresh goodness that you imagine is somewhat good for you, but really it's just an excuse to eat more than you know you 'should'.

I present you with Creamy Crumbly Meyer Lemon Bars....

This is the crumbly goodness that makes up the top and bottom of the bar

This is the goodness tamped down in the pyrex dish... You are supposed to use an 8x11 dish, but I only have 9x13, so these aren't as TALL as they should be. darn.. just stack two on top of each other, ok?

Then you whip up the lemon-y filling. It includes a few tastey items, one of which is the juice and zest of Meyer lemons (can you see the flecks of zest? so pretty)

Dump this filling on top of the first crumbly layer. Spread it out evenly...

Then you add the remainder of the crumbly goodness, but don't tamp it down. Just sprinkle it evenly over the top... and then look at the pretty layers from the side!

Throw it in the oven for about a half hour until the top turns a golden tan...

and then cut it up and without removing it from the pan, put it in the fridge for at least an hour! it needs to set up, and these truly taste better cold. trust me.

And then set them out on a pretty platter. But they won't last long, trust me. People don't feel guilty eating these so they eat them willy-nilly. Yes, I said willy-nilly. But it's the truth!

Enjoy! so, tomorrow I'm coming up with something ridic. Seriously, ridic. Wait for it...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


With no cakes on the horizon to decorate I needed to do something with the oven and my hands. After the gym, hanging Easter eggs outside (MORE on that later), baths and dancey dance's with the kiddies I put the kids to bed for the night, turned on Modern Family and got the KitchenAid out and set to work on these Snickerdoodles.

Thankfully I remembered to call Nanny J and she took the butter and eggs out for me so they were room temp and ready to go.

Assembled my ingredients and was about to turn on the mixer for the butter and sugar when I got a text from an old high school buddy. :) Our conversation kept me occupied throughout the whole baking process (we talked for over an hour... seriously, I'm such a girl sometimes). Lots of laughter, lots of baking and a few pictures... Here is what I did:

This is the dough in the bowl from the first batch (I made four batches). It was a bit stiffer than any of the other batches for some reason... But, the consistency was good (I used 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening) and it rolled up nicely... then I dropped into the sugar cinnamon mixture....

and rolled the dough around in it...

dropped the little balls onto the baking sheet (without parchment paper... I didn't think they were that sticky that they needed it). and put them in the oven for FOUR minutes at 375 degrees... Then I rotated them and put them in for another FOUR minutes

notice the little cracks? i love that...

Voila! They are moist, chewy AND crunchy. This first batch had a bit too much cinnamon and came out a little dark. I added more sugar to the bowl and the next batches came out lighter.

The cream of tartar though... I can taste it immediately. WHY do we need cream of tartar in Snickerdoodles? Anyone? I need to find out its role in the recipe and if I can decrease the amount.

I made 4 batches as each batch only made 2 dozen small cookies. I would have kept going but I ran out of butter :(
I will most def. make more this weekend after I tweak the recipe a little and I PROMISE to those of you out in CA reading this I will send you some.

OK, now I have to discuss the hanging of the Easter Eggs... wait for the next post...

Midweek Blues

I don't have a case of the Monday's today, but I woke up with a case of the midweek Blues for sure!
I don't have a cake to decorate for TWO weeks! That's no bueno.... My hands are starting to itch from inactivity! I kept telling myself on my drives home from work this week that I was going to bake once I got done with the gym. But, per usual my life got in the way.

TONIGHT I will bake especially because my fans on Facebook have weighed in that they would like some snickerdoodles. I found an awesome recipe on Tasty Kitchen (via Pioneer Woman) that I'm anxious to try out. I also really REALLY want to bake her best ever chocolate sheet cake w/ the 'best frosting you've ever had' on top. *NOTE TO SELF, call Nanny J as soon as this is posted to ask her to set out some eggs

Plus, I've been running a marathon in my head and although I've also been running a marathon at the gym as well- my mind still hasn't cleared all of the muck. I think I need to focus on something I love in order to gain some clarity. The oven beckons!!

thankfully Modern Family is on tonight and I pray it's a new one. I need some good ol' belly laughing asap. Plus I'll have the house to myself! woo hoo!!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010


O.G.'s cake:
2 tier stacked cake
1st tier was 8 inch round w/ 3 layers: 2 chocolate and one banana with strawberry ganache
2nd tier was 6 inch round w/ 3 layers: 2 yellow butter cake and one orange creamsicle with chocolate peanut butter ganache.

The outside was all pink swiss buttercream ganache but the top tier was covered in chocolate fondant colored black (which layed on top of the pink buttercream).

The decorations were ALL fondant except for the pink ribbon that bordered the top tier.

The flavor combo's might sound weird, but it tasted really good. I'm all about creating new flavor profiles and this worked! The cake was wonderfully moist as well.

AND, other side note.... I commented last week on The Sassy Curmudgeon's blog post about the Census. Last night we filled out the census in our house. Long story short, I was NOT #1 to someone else. Not surprising, but man ALIVE did that just say everything about the current situation. It was NOT a real nice surprise, clark...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy 30th O.G!!!

I made a pretty kick butt cake today for my good ol' friend O.G. (Old Girl).
She turns 30 on Monday and her family was throwing her a 'surprise' birthday.
It was such a surprise that on... (blogger edit...)

... lol...
nope, NO pressure at all.
Now I know what it's like to have someone else's high expectations for the cake I'm making. I have been asking for cake direction for a while now and I GOT IT. and it scared me! Be careful what you wish for.
SO, I had to scrap all that I had thought I would do and come up with something entirely different. Here is what I came up with:

Start to finish the decorating took me about 4 1/2 hours. I SHOULD have started on it at least last night. But we didn't get home from YGG until about 10. I only had time to make some white fondant.

I worked at the bakery this a.m. and then came home, fed the kiddies, but them down for their naps and got to WORK. I had time constraints, I had a blank canvas and I had no time to lollygag.

I dyed the chocolate fondant black (took MUCH longer than I hoped), dyed the buttercream hot pink, frosted the cakes, stacked the cakes, had to figure out HOW to make zebra stripes, and then figure out if I could make a skull.

It worked!! I really like the cake- it's a little edgy for my 'closet edgy' friend, it's pink and black and fun. Like Foofa, but edgy. hahahahaha (clearly still have YGG on the brain).
Off to pick up my bestie and then off to party. She advised I wasn't allowed to be "tardy for the party", so off I go.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I heart pizza, a ton. I don't know how to make pizza, don't really care to learn how, but thought the class would be fun. It was supposed to be a fun learning bonding thing, but I went solo and still had a FAB time. And ate my guts out. Three different kinds of pizza in four hours- pizza bianca, New York style pizza and Chicago Deep dish... Here is what we did:

This is an example of what 'shaggy dough' looks like. This is a good thing! Do NOT add more liquid to make it 'un shaggy'. Shaggy is good.

Testing my dough, using the 'window pane' technique. at least I think it was called window pane. maybe just window? hm... I don't remember, but it was funny. It reminded me of something else entirely... let your imagination wander...

My decorated pizza. They have us some super yummy sauce for this New York Style pizza, I added some mozzerella (both fresh and aged), basil leaves and super good pepperoni. I liked the pepperoni so much, i just saddled up with the tupperware of it and munched on it while my pizza baked in the wood fire stove... This sounds like some long luxurious moment with me and some meat, but the pizza took all of 3 minutes to bake in the 600 degree + oven. I still stuffed as much into my mouth as possible in that 3 minute time span. My stomach was happy.

The three styles of pizza we made... I know you are salivating right now as you should be because this is next...

a melty hot slice of pizza goodness.. It was good.

My fav pizza was the New York style. I actually liked it best when it was baked in the regular oven because I like the crispiness of the dough. Which is why I think I ate 4 slices... ok, maybe 5 or 6. but who was counting?? :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Black & White and Red all over

Back at it tonight! Happy St. Patricks day- hope you are enjoying the beautiful day. The weather was insane today- beautiful, beautiful. My day was a little chaotic, and there was nothing more I wanted to do at day end then to see Moochie and #1 and to decorate.... and then watch Modern Family!

So, this is the 'girly 10 year old, red and black' birthday cake I made today. Per usual M.O. for these cakes, I was given very little direction besides the following:
1) Girly
2) Red & Black
3) It's a 10 year old birthday cake
4) She likes iCarly and H.S.M.
5) Loves chocolate cake
6) big enough to feed 10 people

ok.... Um, the options were endless and as this was my FIRST paid for cake I wanted to make sure it looked as professional as possible, while trying something I hadn't done before. First things first- the cake is an 8 in round. 3 layers. 2 layers are chocolate banana and one is banana. The filling is a chocolate peanut butter ganache (IT IS SO YUM! It tastes like a reese's pieces bag of candy melted and fluffed up.. if that makes any sense), and I used red fondant that I bought at the cake store and black marshmallow fondant I made from scratch.

I made the stars on Saturday night in order to let them set up to stand on the cake. The 'diamonds' I rolled out and cut today. I was so lucky that the diamonds (squares) fit on the cake w/o too much overlap and this was without measuring! stupid on my part. But... It worked.

The bottom is obviously a ribbon. I wanted to see how ribbon attached to buttercream because I have seen SO many cakes with that ribbon border. It was easy-peasy and I thought added a little extra girly to the cake.

I piped in the dots at the corners of the diamonds to clean it up a bit. I could have used some dragee's but I didn't have plain white ones, and I had a ton of buttercream.

Then I tooth-picked in the monogram M. I also made this on Saturday using my new extruder. I seriously DON"T know how to make the fondant come out perfectly smooth from the extruder. It has these little ridges that you can't really see in the picture (on purpose!) but it BUGGED me. However, the M set up well, it dried enough to hold it's own, but I tooth-picked in for some added support.

Not sure if it's girlie enough. But I didn't want to do flowers or hearts... I thought way too predictable and so close to Valentines day- I didn't want it to be confused as a Valentines cake.

Well, Cheers! now to watch some Modern Family. Goodnight!

Monday, March 15, 2010

oh yeah!

Oops! I forgot to say Abbie's baby shower cake was 4 layers of clementine creamsicle (6 inch rounds) with a swiss buttercream frosting.
I also made some cupcakes for everyone else and just piped the buttercream on and added little hearts on top. I was wanting to do flowers but life got in the way and I didn't have time last night.

She likes the cake! :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

B is for Baby

Here is baby shower cake #2. I guess I had cookie monster on the brain and all I could think of was "C is for cookie"... :)

Abbie is having a girl, so I went girlie with this one. I knew I was going to use a white background so I just used a buttercream frosting instead of covering in fondant. I still need to practice getting the frosting smooth... I know I will get better over time. But all I see are the imperfections!

Here it is:

I had left over fondant so I just added those little balls on top. Not sure how I feel about them... I tried putting them on the bottom first and they were too big and looked stupid against the clothes. So i just used the star tip and piped little stars along the border.

AND, I finally got an extruder and thats how I made the clothes line. The extruder is handy dandy for sure, but I need to figure out how to make the fondant come out smooth... sigh..

I also worked on the 10 year old bday cake for Thursday. I made some stars last night. More pictures on that later...
Off to get my tattoo!! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

...and Happy Baby!

The baby shower mama is having twins- a boy and a girl. So I didn't really have any color constrictions and really the only direction I had was that her favorite cake is Cherry Chip. I already had my lamb ready so I thought the color scheme would be pastels- blue, pink, yellow and green.

I rolled out mint green fondant and covered the 3 layer 6 inch cherry chip cake w/ an amaretto ganache (just the flavoring not the actual alcohol! safe for the mamas).
Then added my little lamb

Then rolled out the individual colors and stamped out the circles and randomly placed them on the cake

And I couldn't resist adding little feet to the cake too! :)

Then I piped the words on top and added a dot border along the bottom

And that's all! I love this cake! now I have to think of another animal or theme for the shower on Monday. I'm be-eeeat... more tomorrow!

Happy feet

My first baby shower goodness... The little lamb I made is still drying but almost ready to be assembled, the cherry chip cake is currently cooling in the freezer so I worked on these cupcakes. I really like making a special individual cake for the person being celebrated and then having cupcakes for everyone else. Plus I had some cupcakes already made that needed to be used. It's just a win-win.

I still wantd to make the cuppies cute and I thought a little token something on top would be ideal.. a flower? But no, I wanted to do something baby related....What do you love about babies? For me, it's their chubbiness.. their fat little hands and rolls on their arms! You could just eat them with a spoon! yes I said it out loud.... But a fat roll on a cupcake wouldn't be that cute. So I thought FEET!
Here is what I did...

Don't know that chocolate frosting was the best backdrop or if the large flower tip was the best idea. BUT, whatever its chocolate and cute together and they will eat it and love it. I hope... Anyhow, now on to the cake

the ol' Maize and Blue.. a fond memory

I never ever was a huge football fan growing up. The fam wasn't into it, my dad not being a sports person. Needless to say when I moved to the Midwest I was in for a surprise... a real nice surprise Clark. My roommate was aghast that I didn't get season tickets for the football games. My response "who goes to football games?"
ha ha HA
fast forward to my first experience walking into the stadium. I know it's going to sound corny but it was a top 10 moment of my life. I will never ever forget walking through the tunnel into the student section. My scope of vision wasn't big enough- I couldn't take it in fast enough (well that and I was trying to obviously look cute/cool to all the other drunk kids)
Dude it was huge! I had tingles and this is so hokey, but it felt amazing to be in this gigantic stadium with 100 THOUSAND other people cheering for the same thing. To be a part of something so much greater than tiny little me? ah! i still get tingles thinking about it.
So, every year when I walk into the stadium for the first time- I still get that quite moment of awe. I WENT here! I am a part of this and for a few moments, every person here is my buddy. We all have this great thing in common. Even if I don't like you and you just cut in front of me and the kiddies to get in the stadium because your drunk butt can't stand straight and wait for 2 minutes- I'm ok with that.. because you are here with me cheering for the best team in the world.

Yes, it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine

....and allow me a few moments to recover from my insane amount of cheese....
and watch this video:

**this out of nowhere, tear-jerker, tugging at the heart strings post comes courtesy of KB who forwarded me this link on this fine day in MARCH when football season is about the LAST thing on my mind but obviously not his....

More red velvet

I found a different recipe for red velvet cake on Pioneer Woman's website that I've been meaning to get around to. And since I've been putting the baking off for days now, I thought tonight would be the night (for real this time).

I thought there would be a ton more cocoa, but just one tablespoon...

But what we lacked in cocoa we made up for in red dye. TWO ounces. I only had one bottle at one ounce so queue music as we wait for another bottle to arrive...

OK, added the wet to the dry and manage to make huge red mess. It was akin to a murder scene. My hands had 'blood' spatters all over them. I'm such a klutz!

30 minutes later, 350 degree oven....

I 'broke' two as I was taking them out of the tins... yeah, that's what I did! I broke it.. :) Well, they tasted pretty good, but I want more cocoa. Good to know for next go-round, but I LOVE how red they are...

I think this would be a good cake for a skull topper. Something you could slice into and see blood. Yeah? I like it... And now to work on the baby shower cake.. Which got split into TWO baby showers and now I have multiple cakes to make. More practice I guess...