Friday, April 29, 2011

Be a Blessing

During this past season of Lent, and having just celebrated the resurrection of our Lord on Easter, it has been on my heart to really be a blessing to others. So often we focus on our own trials. It is so important to think of others and how we can be a blessing in their lives. I started thinking of ways I could make someone’s day a little brighter.  I wanted to make it special but yet still stay within our budget. So I thought why not give homemade banana bread but dress it up a little.
After I made my loaf of banana bread and let it cool, I wrapped it in parchment paper. Then I tied grosgrain ribbon around it. For a really special touch I tucked a ticket for a wish under the bow.
With a little imagination you can turn even the simplest thing into something special.
I hope each of you had a wonderful Easter. After a beautiful service Sunday morning, my dear friend Lizzie had invited us to come have Easter dinner with her family. She embodies the very topic of this post in that she is such a blessing in people’s lives, and is always there willing and even eager to help. It was such a special day.
Love to you all,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Simply Spectacular Cakes

Have you all seen this book? It's titled The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. I highly recommend it. It is fabulous for turning ordinary cakes into extraordinary cakes! I have tried  several of her recipes so far, and the cakes are  wonderful!
My dear friend Lizzie and I recently catered a luncheon, and Kathy’s Cinnamon Breakfast Cake (page 257) is what I made. I suggest you visit your local library and see if you can check out a copy of this book. You’ll love it!

Serves 16
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 58-60 minutes
Assembly time: 3 minutes
Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
Flour for dusting the pan
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
¾ cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean, or sunflower
¾ cup water
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1.   Place rack in the center of oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour.
2.   For the filling, place the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Set the bowl aside.
3.   Sprinkle the pecans in the bottom of the prepared pan. Set the pan aside. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and smooth. Pour one third of the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter half of the filling evenly over the batter. Pour another third of the batter evenly over the filling. Scatter the remaining filling over the batter. Pour the remaining batter evenly over the top, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.
4.   Bake the cake until it is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 58-60 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack. Allow it to cool completely, 30 minutes more.
5.   Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Place the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl and still until smooth. Place the cooled cake on a serving platter and spoon the glaze over the top so that it drizzles down the sides and into the center of the cake.  Slice and serve.

*Store this cake, covered in aluminum foil or under a glass cake dome, at room temperature for up to 1 week. Or freeze it, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.
Here is a picture of the serving table .

I hope everyone has a great week!