The Best Birthday Cake

Time to get serious.  Two cake layers.  Double the frosting.  Mass amounts of sprinkles.  This cake was for my roommate Aly, but I'm posting in celebration of someone else's birthday... MINE!  I'm hoping you'll make me one of these. Deal?  Birthday's July 9th... you know in case you were wondering.

 Recipe yoinked from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen

You'll need:
- 2 9" cake pans, can be round, square - whatever strikes your fancy.
- 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk

Alrighty!  First you'll want to butter and flour your pans.  Grease up the pans with a bit of butter, then pour a small bit of flour in the pan.  Shake it around until the whole pan is covered with flour, then shake out the excess.  Should look like this....

Ok!  Now, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. 

In another larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, and then add the vanilla.

Add your eggs one at a time.  Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl down after each egg, so we can guarantee it's all been mixed together perfectly.  After that, slowly add your buttermilk until just combined.  Then you can add you flour in 3 batches, beating after each batch.  Make sure you stir/beat it until it's just mixed together.  If you over beat the flour you can wind up beating out the moisture from the cake.  What's the point of cake without moisture?  Oh wait, frosting. I forgot.

Pour the batter into your cake pans, and put them in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.


Alrighty.  Now in order to stack these so they line up and don't look like a soccer ball, we have to cut off the rounded tops.  I think it's easiest to do this once they've cooled with a big knife while they are still in the pan.  That way you get perfect measurements, and the two cakes will line up perfectly.

Now, take on half of your cake, and spread frosting on the top of it.  Let's be honest here - I got lazy and bought frosting in a can.  SO SUE ME.

Now turn the other half of the cake upside down, and plop it down ever-so-gracefully on top.

Here's another trick for you, slide 3 pieces of parchment or wax paper under the cake, so none of the rim of the cake touches the plate/counter.  That way when you're done frosting you can pull away the parchment, and it won't make a mess.  THANKS MARTHA STEWART YOU'RE THE BEST.  Don't even act like you don't watch her show religiously.

An easy way to frost a cake is to put a "crumb layer" of frosting on first.  Just a thin layer that will hold down all the crumbs so they don't peel off and get everywhere.

We're going for function here, not beauty.

Now, get the rest of the frosting on there.  Lay it on reallll thick.  Like sarcasm.

Sprinkles anyone?

Ta daaaa! Aren't you impressed?  Now you can pipe your favorite roommate's name on top.  Apparently I need to work on my piping skills.  Pull away the parchment paper at the bottom, and you are ready to throw a birthday party.

I'll be expecting my cakes no later than the 8th of July.





Stromboli!  It's a recent discovery of mine.  A discovery in the best sense of the word.  It's like a JJ's italian night club rolled up in a hard to spill dough blanket.  Best description ever?

Fact: this is delicious.

You'll need:

- some italian meat.  I used genoa salami and pepperoni, but feel free to use fancier stuff if you feel like it.
- provolone cheese
- parmesan cheese
- italian seasoning, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes
- a can of pillsbury italian bread (you can use pizza dough too!)
- some flour to roll it out
- sauteed peppers? carmelized onions?  italian sausage?  possibilities are endless.

Alrighty!  First things first, scatter some flour on your counter.  This thing is going to get sticky.  I put a piece of parchment paper down because I live with 2 boys and you never know what's going to be on the counter.  Better safe than sorry.

Now, roll out your dough so it's roughly in a rectangle shape.  Pinch together any holes or thin spots - you don't want delicious filling flying all over your oven, trust me.

Now... layering!  Throw down one of your meats first... in my case the genoa salami.  Try to leave a 1" border of dough around the filling, it'll be easier to pinch together at the end if you do that.

Alrighty, now you'll want to sprinkle on some Italian seasoning, and the red pepper flakes.  Amount is up to you.  I went pretty heavy on the Italian seasoning, next time I'll probably cut this down by at least a third.

Now I put a layer of the cheese down.  I broke the provolone in half so it would be easier to roll up.

Add on some scattered pepperoni...

Sprinkle some grated parmesan on there...

Alright, now we're getting serious.  Rolling time.  Start at one of the long edges and start to roll up the dough, pinching the edges at the end together as you go.  This will seal in the goodness during the baking process.  When you're done, it should look like a long log.

Kinda ugly looking ain't it?

Pinch the seam shut, and place it seam side down on a baking sheet.

Oook.  Now I melted some butter and brushed it across the top to get a nice brown and crusty edge in the oven.  Sprinkle some more parmesan on top, along with some garlic powder and more Italian seasoning if you're feeling rebellious. 

Looking better looking better...

Throw your dough log in a 350 degree oven, for about 25-30 minutes.  Really all you need to cook is the bread so check your packaging for exact measurements.

It'll come out lookin' something like this:

Haha what a horrendous picture.

Slice up the stromboli, should make about 8 or so 1.5" thick pieces.  Check it out!

So good.  Serve it with your favorite marinara or pasta sauce and you're good to go!  It's just as good cold, too.

Clearly, I hated mine.


<3 Courtzilla


Spring Cranberry Salad

Want to impress your friends?  Want to say, "Yo, check out this complicated and fancy lookin' salad?"  I mean, who doesn't want to say that, really.  This is your salad.  It's deceivingly simple, but your friends will think you're a bona fide Martha Stewart.

You'll need:

- 1 head of romaine, or a spring greens mix
- a handful of dried cranberries
- some chopped up celery, about 1 or 2 stalks
- 2 shallots
- some crumbled goat cheese
- poppy seed dressing, the creamier, the better

First, wash and tear up your romaine into bite sized pieces.  Or dump a bag of spring mix in a bowl.  Do you enjoy how I give you options?

Now we want to caramelize the shallots to make them really sweet.  Saute them up into smallish pieces, and put them in a saute pan over medium heat.  They don't need any oil or anything, their natural sugars will start to sweat out and make everything realll tasty like.

While those are browning up nicely, we can start assembling the salad.  You'll want to add the celery, and the goat cheese for some tang.

Couple of handfuls of cranberries right on top...

And now add the caramelized shallots...

If you want at this point you can add some DELICIOUS candied walnuts or pecans, but who has time to candy their own pecans?  Plus, those suckers are EXPENSIVE.

Pour on some scrumptious poppy seed dressing...

And bada boom bada bing you're in business.  Not too shabby for about 10 minutes work, eh?


<3 Courtzilla


Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

 Texas sheet cake.  Why do they call it "Texas" sheet cake?  I have no idea.  One thought is that it may be called that because it makes enough cake to feed the entire state of Texas.  I wish I was kidding.  Might want to halve this recipe unless you're planning on going up a pant size.

What you'll need:
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of sugar
-1/4 tsp salt
- 4 heaping tablespoons of cocoa.  If you're feeling fancy use the dutch process fancy pants kind.  If you're me use Hershey's.
- 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee grounds
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 sweet dinosaur cupcake pan (optional)

Let's get crackin.

First things first, boil your water so it's ready to go.  Simple enough.

Ballin'.  Alrighty, now in a mixing bowl stir together your flour, sugar and salt.

Here's where things get serious.  Melt TWO sticks of butter in a medium sized pot.  Oh, be still my heart.


To the melted butter, add your cocoa and coffee.  Quirky fact: adding instant coffee to your chocolate cake/chocolate chip cookies will make Hershey's cocoa taste more rich.  See?  Learning all kinds of things today aren't we.

Now, add the boiling water to the chocolate/butter mixture.

Take a sniff.  Die a little.

Let this boil for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.  Pour the chocolate on top of your flour, and stir to combine.  You'll want to hang out a bit and let that cool down.

Forgive my yellow bowl, it does not realize what it does to pictures.

While that's cooling off, measure out your buttermilk in a measuring cup.  Add the baking soda, vanilla and eggs and whisk it around to combine.

If your flour/chocolate has cooled down enough, mix it together with the buttermilk mixture.  Make sure it's cool though, or else you'll wind up with scrambled eggs, and I'm sorry, but scrambled egg chocolate sheet cake just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Pour this onto a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  I don't have a sheet pan with rims that high, so I used my trusty 9 x 13" pan.  NBD.

After I got the batter into that pan, I realized... I still have a ton of batter left.  There's only one reasonable solution to such a problem.

DINOSAUR CUPCAKES.  I'm sorry, but just bask in the glory of this awesome pan.  Are you jealous you don't have one??!??!

You could make a frosting for this cake, but why?  It's honestly so moist and so rich, just a dusting of powdered sugar will do.  Make sure the cake is completely cool though, or else the powdered sugar will just melt into the cake.

Delicious.  As for the dino cupcakes?

I had no problem getting rid of those.

Ahahahhaa.  I love that pan.


<3 Courtzilla