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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cars Lightning McQueen Cake for a 4th Birthday

Back in February, we were asked to make a cake for a cousin celebrating this FOURTH birthday.  Last year, we made this Cars cake for his third:

This year for his fourth birthday, he requested the same theme.  We knew we had to make the cake much different than last year (who wants the same cake two years in a row?) and we wanted to top what we did last year.  This is what we came up with...

What do you think?  Do you like this year's Lightning McQueen cake better, or do you prefer last year's Cars cake?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cupcake and Dessert Towers & the Mission: Small Business Grant

Wow, you all are doing such awesome things with your The Smart Baker Cupcake and Treat Towers!  Check out the latest pictures sent to us by customers of their dessert displays by visiting the gallery.

Also, if you have a spare moment we'd so appreciate you voting for us for the Mission: Small Business grant!

Click here or click the image above to visit the Mission: Small Business website and vote for The Smart Baker.  We need 250 votes to be considered for the grant, and we need your help to get there!  Thank you!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Crock Pot Banana Nut Oatmeal

I start out almost every morning with a bowl of oatmeal.  Instead of throwing a packet of instant oatmeal in the microwave, I made one gigantic batch of my own homemade flavored oatmeal in the crock pot and freeze it in individual servings.  It has the convenience of instant oatmeal, but the flavor and nutrition of homemade.  So far, I've made two different flavors: Apple Pie Oatmeal and now this Banana Nut Oatmeal.  

What other flavor ideas sound good for a batch of Crock Pot oatmeal?  

Crock Pot Banana Nut Oatmeal

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/4 cup nuts (I used walnuts this time)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar (optional - I sometimes leave this out and add more Truvia when serving)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 6 ounces yogurt (Optional - I sometimes use Greek Vanilla, and sometimes leave it out)

In the bowl of your crock pot combine milk, water, oats, banana, nuts, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Cook on low for 1 - 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired consistency.   Stir in the yogurt and let cool slightly.

Scoop 1/2 cup servings into silicone muffin pans and set in the freezer for several hours until the oatmeal is fully frozen.  Remove from the silicone muffin pan and store in airtight zippy bag or plastic container.  

When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and defrost.  Add milk, microwave and stir until smooth.  Serve with Truvia.
When I remember, I take it out of the freezer and place in the fridge overnight.  When I don't remember (most of the time) I microwave for 30 seconds, then stir with a spoon before adding milk. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Honey Nut Bars

No, I haven't given up blogging!  It's been quite a while since my last post, but I'm still here.  We've just had a lot going on over here.  A weekend trip to NY for a dear friend's wedding, getting sick with the flu (who gets the flu this time of year??) and demolishing our entire downstairs floor.  That's right.  Due to "improper installation," our tiles were popping up all throughout the lower floor of our home.  That meant the kitchen, pantry, living room, bathroom, dining room, and front hallway were all affected.  During the tile removal, cleaning and new tile reinstallation process, we were actually without an oven for a few weeks (gaspppp!).
Yep, that's me with a demo hammer.  And no, I have no idea what I'm doing.  
It was a long, tiring, dusty process, but it is finally over and we are getting back to normal.  So more blog posts will be soon to come!    

For now, I'll share this recipe for Honey Nut Bars.  I made these in honor of a friend's new apiary.  She's a bee-mom now!  So we brought her these honey-ful goodies for dessert.  I had my doubts about these cookies, but they were received very well.  The bottom layer is a buttery, shortbread cookie.  It's piled high with sticky honey coated mixed nuts.

Honey Nut Bars, adapted from Epicurious

makes about 20 squares
Ingredients for the Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Ingredients for the Nut Topping:
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream
8 ounces nuts (I used a combination of whole almonds and chopped brazil nuts)

To bake the crust:
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment.  
Pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles pea-size butter lumps. Add egg and pulse until a crumbly dough forms.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Press dough evenly onto bottom (but not up sides) of baking pan and bake in middle of oven until edges are golden and begin to pull away from sides of pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

Make topping:
Bring honey, brown sugar, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, 2 minutes. Add butter and cream and boil, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in all nuts until completely coated.
Pour nut mixture over pastry crust, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until topping is caramelized and bubbling, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang and cut into squares.


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