Funfetti Cake

Funfetti Cake, Oh Boy, Baby Announcement, Baby Boy, Gender RevealWhen I want to say something, I like to say it with cake.  Whether that's to say I love you, or I'm happy for you, or let's celebrate you today, cake has always been, and will always be the way I love to commemorate a day or event or holiday.  It's fun to eat, of course - I mean, that's a given - but also so beautiful to look at, and so much fun to decorate.

And today's cake has a special announcement to make, which is definitely worthy of celebrating...

Phoenix's First Birthday

Birthday Party, First Birthday, Doughnut Cake, Smash Cake, Breakfast Cookies, Boy's BirthdayI think I started planning my baby's first birthday party when he was just a few weeks old, and now, here we are, a year later, and I can hardly believe how fast he's grown.  Becoming a parent has been a wonderful, frustrating, exhausting and amazing experience, and I can't imagine our lives without him.

We invited a few friends over to celebrate with us last weekend, and the breakfast theme for the party made for some yummy food...

Chocolate White Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate White Chocolate Sandwich CookiesIt's been more and more autumn-like here, with cold, rainy weather all weekend; we actually turned the pilot light in our fireplace on over the weekend so we could enjoy a fire.  Tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, a warm fire, French toast, cozy pajamas, popcorn, cookies, and my husband and little boy playing and laughing on the living room rug made for the most perfect weekend...

Chocolate Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Chocolate Brownies - Curly Girl KitchenIt was just any old day, the day that I made these brownies, because when the need to fill the kitchen with the aroma of dark chocolate and melted butter suggests itself, the day doesn't need to be a particularly noteworthy day to be worthy of brownie-baking.  And brownie eating.

Lemon Curd Ice Cream

Lemon Curd Ice CreamAlthough winter is really the season for lemons, to me, they are summer.  Lemon cakes with sweet tart buttercream, lemon cream pies, and creamy lemon curd spooned over freshly baked blueberry muffins are reminiscent of a cold glass of lemonade on hot summer days...

Cake Art

Curly Girl Kitchen Etsy Shop Digital Downloads
I'm excited to announce that I've added new inventory to my Etsy shop!  I've curated some of my favorite photos I've taken of my baking - mostly cakes - and turned them into digital art to sell as instant downloads.  I've been neglecting my baking projects for the past week to focus on this new project, but I'm happy to have finished - or begun, since this will likely be an ongoing project as I add new pieces...

Cauldron Cakes with Treacle Syrup

9 3/4 Birthday, Cauldron Cakes with Treacle Syrup, Pancakes, Baby Boy
When your son is named Phoenix, you simply can't let his 9 3/4 month birthday pass by without celebrating.  I am such a fan of Harry Potter, although I didn't discover its magical world until my 30s.  I was a freshman in college when the first book was published 20 years ago, and it wasn't until I met my husband that I started watching the movies from the beginning, and then read through all the books one summer.  I've since seen the movies at least two dozen times, and I never tire of them.  I especially love watching them at Christmas; they make me feel warm, cozy and loved.  I hope Phoenix loves them as much as I do, and I so look forward to the day when that's something I can share with him.

So to celebrate his 9 3/4 month birthday, what better than a stack of cauldron cakes - a.k.a. pancakes - topped with treacle syrup?

Almond Raspberry Birthday Cake

Almond Raspberry CakeAnother year, another birthday, another cake.  It's the last year of my 30's, but that doesn't bother me.  All the best things in my life have happened in my 30's - falling in love, getting married, buying a home, giving birth to my beautiful baby boy - and I can only imagine all the amazing adventures that await our family in the years to come.

I've gotten in the habit the last few years of making myself an ice cream cake for my birthday, but this year, I really just wanted cake and buttercream.  The almond cake has a tender, moist crumb, and I filled each layer with raspberry amaretto jam.  Almond buttercream, covered in sliced almonds and fresh raspberries, dusted with a little edible shimmer powder make this cake simply irresistible...

Fizzy Lavender Lemonade

Fizzy Lavender Lemonade with Ginger Ale and Strawberry Ice CubesColorado summers are dry, so I can't really complain much about the heat, especially after talking with my mom today and being reminded of the humidity in South Carolina where my parents live, and where I grew up.  It's a bone-drenching humidity that puts the best intentions of getting some sun to rest if there is the temptation of something cold to drink and plenty of shade in which to enjoy it.

Still, though, it does get hot here, and I toss and turn at night, in spite of the air conditioner cooling the house down to a comfortable 74 degrees, since I like to be a little chilly in bed so I can snuggle deep under the covers to fall asleep.

The other day, David Lebovitz shared his recipe for Fresh Ginger Lemonade, and ever since then, I've been craving a cold glass of lemonade...

Chocolate Blueberry Muffins

Chocolate Blueberry Muffins
The muffins I make the most frequently, that I will never ever tire of, are my blueberry coffeecake streusel-topped muffins.  They are simply the best.  Not to mention, they're just so pretty to look at, with all those plump juicy berries peeking through the batter and that tempting crumb topping.  Everything is better with crumb topping.

But just to mix things up a bit, I created a little mash-up of those and my chocolate muffins, to create a uniquely flavored and incredibly moist muffin, not unlike my chocolate blueberry cake, which you might not even suspect contains blueberries, but rather has you wondering just how a cake could be so moist?  And with my homemade blueberry rhubarb jam baked into the centers of each muffin, they are even more wonderful.

Instagram

Curly Girl Kitchen on Instagram
Although I find myself short on time, pretty much always these days, with a busy 8-month old who is crawling, exploring and climbing everything in sight, and I don't interact with all of you who regularly follow my blog as much as I would love to, I do so appreciate my loyal followers, both here, and on Instagram...

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Ice CreamIt's suddenly hot here, and I've been stocking our freezer with all sorts of frozen treats.  Ice cream cookie sandwiches, which are my husband's favorite, as well as frozen cookie dough, and sugarless strawberry and coconut milk ice pops for me.  A no-recipe ice cream that I made by melting down some leftover chocolate cheesecake that was taking up room in the freezer, but that made a lovely, rich and decadent chocolate ice cream with more chunks of the cheesecake swirled throughout.

But the first ice cream I made this season was this salted caramel ice cream...

Cookies and Creamsicles

I remember that, growing up, I had a friend whose family would never buy cartons of cookies and cream ice cream.  Instead, they would buy vanilla ice cream, and a package of Oreos, break up the cookies and mix them together, convinced it was better that way.

But I disagree.  A crunchy Oreo cookie does nothing for me, and I'll only eat one straight from the package if I have a glass of cold milk to soak it in first until it's nice and soft.  And the same goes for ice cream.  The cookies need time to soak up all that creamy goodness so that they become one with the ice cream, not a too-crunchy afterthought that's tossed on top of vanilla ice cream.

Mimosa Cake

Mimosa Cake, Champagne, Orange Juice, SprinklesFor my first Mother's Day as a mother to our almost-8-month-old baby, my husband planned a special breakfast for me.  I slept in a little while he fed baby boy and then made a breakfast of eggs benedict and mimosas.  It was a lovely way to wake up.

We couldn't manage to finish the champagne, so I jumped on the chance to make a mimosa cake which I've had on my "to bake" list for quite a while.  Besides, we couldn't exactly waste a half bottle of champagne...

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Ice CreamA spring chill still lingers in the mornings, but it's not too early for making ice cream.  Most days have been warming up beautifully, and after a weekend of yard work, there's nothing like a scoop of cold, creamy homemade ice cream in the afternoon to cool off.

For our first batch of ice cream this year, I made a classic - chocolate chip...

My Studio

Stripey Straws, Birthday Candles, Candy Jars
It's been a while since I've posted anything new in my Curly Girl Home series, and some of you have asked to see my work space, so today, I'm sharing a few photos of where I do all my sewing, painting and photography.

What I call my studio is the front room in our house, and a space that most people would use as a formal living room.  As we have no need or desire to have a formal living room, I use the room for my sewing desk, art supplies, excess baking and craft supplies and photography equipment...

Hello, Spring: Orange Poppyseed Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Orange Poppyseed Cake with Strawberry Buttercream, Orange and Pink, Spring, Party, Birthday, CandlesHello, Spring.  It's me.

Up until the snow storm last weekend, which had us hunkering down under cozy blankets and eating hot soup for a few days, we've been enjoying some beautiful spring weather.  With temperatures in the 60s and 70s each day, it's been perfect for taking my baby outside to play in the yard, and it's so much fun to watch him discover new things, like the feel of grass (which he tries to eat) between his fingers and under his toes, the lilacs brushing against his nose, the sound of birds and squirrels frolicking in the trees and the breeze blowing through his wispy blond hair.

After the morning chill wears off, we like to spread out my great-grandma's quilt under the shade of the apple tree and just enjoy the breeze and the scents of spring.  He looks so adorable in his little straw hat that one of my aunts gave him.

With all the flowers blooming, the trees budding and the warm days of late, I was inspired to make this cake with buttercream roses climbing up the sides, and it's just such a happy cake, don't you think?

Chocolate Toffee Truffle Cupcakes

Chocolate Toffee Truffle Cupcakes, Ganache Filled, Vanilla Bean Buttercream, Curly Girl KitchenWhen it comes to cake decorating, I far prefer working with tall, elegant layer cakes over cupcakes, but sometimes an idea just seems to work better in cupcake form.  Not to mention, it's good practice to pipe on all that buttercream and try out different techniques with piping tips I rarely use.  Although, admittedly, I still tend to stick with the ones I've mastered.

Easter Bunny Coconut Cake and Decoupaged Eggs

Easter Bunny Coconut CakeOur baby is too little for an Easter basket, but in a year or two, it will be so much fun to start our own Easter traditions with him, with egg hunts in the back yard, decorating Easter eggs, baking a cute bunny cake together, and seeing him wake up to a little basket of treats and toys at the foot of his bed.

For this year's Easter cake, I decided on a more simple and elegant design for a bunny cake, and I just adore how it turned out.  I started by baking my white chocolate coconut pound cake and frosted it with fluffy almond buttercream and toasted coconut...

Banana Coconut Cream Popsicles

Banana Coconut Cream Popsicles
Our apple tree is in full bloom, and every gust of wind sends a sprinkling of white petals over the grass.  I so wish that the tree produced apples; how fun would it be to pick apples in the fall in our own backyard?

After the chill of morning wears off, I take our baby outside to inspect the progress of all our trees and plants, and he wants to touch everything he can reach.  The blooms on the lilac bushes are getting ready to open, and the rhubarb, sage and parsley are poking through the dirt in the small corner garden...

A Half Birthday

Six Month Baby Photos, Baby Boy, Birthday, Cake, Balloon, PolkadotWho would have thought so much could change in six months?  But that's all it's taken for the tiny little baby we brought home to grow into such a sweet little boy with the most adorable squeaky giggle and happy, silly personality.

Chocolate Caramel Tart

Chocolate Caramel Tart
Pi Day dawned bright and sunny, and I realized I didn't have the ingredients on hand for a new cream pie I had been planning to make and surprise my husband with that evening, so I inspected the fridge and pantry to see what I might come up with...  We always have butter, sugar and flour, of course.  Bittersweet chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and luckily, cream.  And with just those few ingredients, this tart was born.

Lemon Pie, Cherry Filled Cupcakes, and Raspberries...

Lemon PieAfter more than two months of sewing like mad to get my Etsy shop up and running, I'm taking a little break to catch up on other projects.  I never stop baking, or dreaming of what I want to bake, but not everything I make ends up on this blog, either because I'm not satisfied with the recipe, or I feel uninspired by the photos I take, or I simply don't have time to put together the post.  The thing that makes me the most frustrated, though, is when I love the photos, but the recipe was just not quite right, which is what happened with this lemon pie...

Beauty and the Beast Cake

Beauty and the Beast CakeBeauty and the Beast is my most beloved of the classic Disney movies.  The music, the choreography, the characters, her dress, his giving her a library as a gift ... it's all so wonderful.

I've loved it since I was a little girl, and I'm so excited to see the new live version with Emma Watson.  This was the opening weekend for the movie, and although I wasn't able to go see it yet, I did make a cake to celebrate...

Cinnamon and Sugar Biscuit Doughnuts with Bourbon Dulce De Leche Sauce

Cinnamon and Sugar Biscuit Doughnuts with Bourbon Dulce De Leche SauceIf there's anything my husband loves more than doughnuts, it's freshly churned ice cream served with doughnuts.  Doughnut making requires time, though, and we definitely have less of that these days.

But other than quickly baked cake doughnuts, these biscuit doughnuts are about as easy as it gets when it comes to doughnut making.  Rather than a yeasted dough that needs time to proof and rise, these are made with the same recipe I've used countless times for my most perfect baking powder biscuits.  The dough comes together in less than five minutes, and needs no time to rest or rise... 

Classic Crispy Waffles

Classic Crispy Waffles
It's taken me quite a bit of recipe testing to come up with a recipe for waffles that I think is practically perfect.  Over the years, I've served my husband far too many soft, limp waffles that were essentially just waffle-shaped pancakes, and he ate them without complaint, but I knew they were all wrong.  Now, I love a stack of light, fluffy pancakes drenched in pure maple syrup, but not when what I want is a waffle that's golden and crisp on the outside and fluffy inside..

Purple Sweet Potato Cake

Pink Birthday CakeOne would think that if you roast purple sweet potatoes until soft and tender, blend them into a silky smooth puree and bake them in a cake, that said cake would emerge from the oven a delightful violet color, or maybe a purply pink.  But one would be wrong.

In fact, while the cake batter went into the oven purple, the baked cakes emerged a bizarre green color.  I'm no scientist, but I'm guessing there was some sort of oxidation effect during the baking process that was to blame... 

Chewy Granola Bars

Chewy Granola Bars, paleo, gluten freeGranola bars and cereal bars were a pantry staple when I was a kid, but unfortunately, most store-bought granola bars are so full of added sugar and chemicals that they are nowhere near to being a healthy breakfast or snack.

These chewy granola bars are not only good for you, but so easy to make.  I plan to keep these on hand from now on, and when our baby is big enough, these will make a wonderful healthy snack for him, too.

Mix it up with some dried fruit or natural, unsweetened coconut, cashews or almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc., and the variations are endless...

We Go Together Like Milk and Cookies Cake

We Go Together Like Milk and Cookies Cake for Valentine's DayHappy Valentine's Day!

When I was in high school, I remember that my mom would leave a little note and present for my sister, brother and I to find when we woke up on Valentine's Day.  She would tell us how much she loved us, and the present was something simple and inexpensive, but something we would like.  I remember getting a cute little pin to wear to school one year.

Valentine's Day isn't just for sweethearts, but for everyone we love, and not that we need a day to remind us to tell the people closest to us how special they are, but it is a holiday I enjoy celebrating.  I especially like making everything into hearts.  Heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast today, anyone?

Valentine Baby

Valentine's Day Baby Boy PhotographyOur baby is sick this week with his first cold, likely caught from someone at last weekend's Super Bowl party, on top of which, he had his four-month vaccinations and we suspect he may be teething, all of which seems to be upsetting his stomach.  He's thrown up all over me three times in two days, so we've had a bit of a rough week.  It breaks my heart to see him sniffling and coughing and not be able to do anything to make him more comfortable other than cuddle and kiss him.  I so want for him to quickly get back to his happy little self.

After the series of Christmas photos I took of our baby boy, I thought I might try to set up a fun little photo shoot of him for all of his first holidays this year...

Rhubarb Crumble and Custard

Rhubarb Crumble and CustardIt's no secret that I love Harry Potter; after all, I did name my baby Phoenix.  I didn't read the books when I was young, and it wasn't until I met my husband when I was 30 that I watched and fell in love with the movies, after which, I read through the whole series in a few months.

I never get tired of the movies, and even though we have them on DVD, any time I'm flipping channels and one happens to be playing, I have to tune in to that channel, even if it's just to listen to in the background.  I think that the Sorcerer's Stone and the Half-Blood Prince are my favorites (although their escape from and subsequent rescue of the captive dragon from Gringotts in The Deathly Hallows tops my list of favorite scenes), and even after seeing them dozens of times, I still tear up every time Harry gazes out the window of his bedroom his first night in the castle and feels happy and at home for the first time in his life.

It always seems to be Christmas, too, in Harry Potter world, which makes me adore the stories even more.  And because my husband knows me so well, for Christmas he gave me this, The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.  There are so many tempting, from-scratch English recipes for foods that were featured throughout the books, and they're accompanied by fun little quotes or excerpts from that particular chapter, which remind me again of just how much more detail the books contain that the movies don't.

One recipe that stood out to me right away, and was the first one we tried, was for Rhubarb Crumble with Custard...

Oatmeal with Caramelized Bourbon Bananas

Oatmeal with Caramelized Bourbon BananasOatmeal is one of the few cooked breakfasts I remember eating growing up.  Usually, there was cold cereal or pop tarts, instant oatmeal or cream of wheat, sometimes frozen waffles or scrambled eggs and hot buttered toast and jam, and on special occasions, pancakes or french toast with syrup and fruit.  But maybe once a week or so, on cold winter mornings, my mom would cook oatmeal before we left for school...

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Almond Chocolate Chip CookiesSo many times, I've almost bought a cute little cookie jar to keep on the counter - Target had one a few years ago that I seriously contemplated - but I don't make cookies often enough to really warrant keeping a container around just to store them.  A cookie jar is a bit of a one-trick pony, like a garlic press, which I also don't own, because why would I want another gadget to take up valuable space in the kitchen drawers when a knife chops garlic just fine?

I daydream about cookies.  As much as I love to bake and decorate (and taste) cakes, it's a cookie that I want in the afternoons with a second cup of coffee, so it's really a good thing that we don't often have them in the house, or I'd probably eat cookies every day...

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cream Cheese Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cream Cheese Muffins
It didn't really feel like winter yet, not to me, at least, until yesterday.  In the winter months, Colorado is prettiest when it snows, because when the snow melts, everything is dry and brown until spring, so I prefer winters here to be white.

We've had a few scattered snowstorms over the past couple of months, although, disappointingly, not for Christmas.  Other than that, the days have been sunny and mild.  I suppose it's better for our heating bill, but just as I was longing for a gray, gloomy, chilly day, the snow came...

Blueberry Orange Muffins

Blueberry Orange Muffins
Muffins are probably my favorite breakfast food, and have been since I was little.  They're simple, sweet and cakey, which is probably why I like them so much.  And although there's something to be said for the delayed gratification of fancier breakfasts, I love making quick breads, since they're ready with minimal fuss, 20 minutes or so after mixing up the batter.

During Christmas vacation, each morning I made something special for breakfast, cinnamon rolls filled with homemade peach jam, waffles arranged like Christmas trees and dusted with powdered sugar, homemade pop tarts, pumpkin coffee cake, and these muffins...


Butter Pecan Pound Cake

Butter Pecan Pound Cake
When Christmas is over, I feel a little let down, while at the same time relieved to take down the tree and decorations and tidy up the house.  With Christmas put away, everything feels clean and uncluttered, which is exactly how a new year should feel...