Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Cake Pops - A more detailed Pop Tutorial

I'm not so good at making cupcakes.  I'm pretty good at making them taste yummy, but not so good at decorating.  I don't think I'm patient enough nor artsy enough to create something so intricate.  Guess I could make them and stick Oreos or peanut butter cups on them.  I've stuck strawberries on them before.  Or mint.  I'm real earthy like that.

Cakes, those I'm even worse at.  I used to live near a friend who is wonderful at cake art.  She and I would create masterpieces.  Beautiful towers of fondant and buttercream.  Then, she moved away and suddenly, those towers didn't look so nice.  I've pretty much retired my tips and bags, shhh, don't tell on me.

Now, when I make cupcakes, I end up with a nice, moist cake, something yummy shoved inside, and delishiousness slopped on top.  And they're gobbled up.

I don't know how these pastry shops do it.  Make those beautiful smoothly swirled icing hats.  Someone want to tell me how?

In the meantime, I make cake pops.  They're just as much work, maybe more.  But, they're such tiny bites of sweet mush, no one can resist.

This week, I made pumpkin cake pops.  They were supposed to be Jack-O-Lanterns, but I can't seem to figure out how to make those really expensive edible markers work on the chocolate.  I get frustrated and throw them out.  Yep, there went $8 in the garbage last night.  Ugh.

Do you remember how to make cake balls?  I'll tell you again, maybe with a few more good tips than the last time.

1.  Bake a boxed cake mix in a 9x13" pan.  I used a Spice cake this time.  Let it cool.
2.  Take it from the pan.  Break off any hard edges, and crumble the rest into a large bowl.
3.  Add some canned frosting.  About 1/3 cup worth.  I like to use cream cheese flavored frosting.  Some recipes say to use more frosting.  I've found that if I do, or if I use homemade frosting, the balls are too soft and fall off the sticks.
4.  Shape the mix into balls.  I make them small enough to fit into my cupped hands easily.  Smash the mix a lot until it's not crumbly any more, then form it into a ball.  Or whatever shape you're going to make.
5.  Refrigerate said balls overnight.
6.  Melt some candy disks.  I use the microwave.  You can use the microwave, too.  Or a double boiler.  My double boiler's in the attic.
7.  Dip your sticks into the chocolate, then insert them half-way into a ball.  Let it set up for about an hour, preferably in the fridge.

8.  Melt more candy disks.  You want this portion to be a bit thinner than the previous.  You can achieve this by adding some shortening to the disks.  I usually add about 1-2 teaspoons per bag of melts.  If you add too much, your chocolate won't harden.  Trust me, I am speaking from experience.

9.  Take a few of the balls on sticks out of the fridge.  3-4 at a time.  Dip your cake ball into the chocolate.  Lift it up and tap it gently on the side of the bowl to shake off excess.  Turn it a little as you go so you evenly distribute the chocolate.  Be careful, if you haven't inserted your stick far enough, or if your chocolate is too thick, this could happen...

Yep, the ball falls off the stick.  Then, you've got trouble.  Yummy trouble!
So, back to the right way, dip, tap.

10.  Insert the stick into a chunk of styrofoam until the candy is dry.  Then, once it's dry, you can decorate it or just wrap it up.  I like to wrap mine in nice cello bags.

I used spice flavored cake, orange candy melts and green tic tacs for these.  If you can figure out how to make those pens work, let me know?
(I also tried a squeeze bottle of black icing.  That was a really gross disaster.)

I sold these at my daughter's soccer game as a donation to the program.  I've had requests for more before the season's over.  I've got a red velvet plan in the works...

I linked this recipe to
Sweets for a Saturday by Sweet as Sugar
Sugar Bananas Sweets This Week
A Well Seasoned Life Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Monday, October 17, 2011

Raising Meat Chickens, Week 4

This week the meat chickens are 4 weeks old.  We estimate that they weigh over a pound already.  They're huge, compared to my pullet peeps who are only 3 days younger.  I'll have to take a picture of them next to each other, that would be interesting.

They are doing well out in their tractor.  It's holding up well, such a simple design but sturdy.  I'll have to come up with a new idea for a roof, the plywood we're using is already warping a little bit.  I would love to find a sheet of metal roofing to fit.

They are eating 12 hours on, 12 off now.  24% protein food.  Drinking 3 gallons of water a day.  I still add the chicken vitamins to their water.

They love sunning themselves after they stuff themselves.  The roos are beginning to develop their combs and wattles.  There isn't a huge size difference between them and the girls, yet.

In case you can't tell, they're poopy chickens.  They poop, a lot.  They should probably be moved more than once a day to fresh grass.  But, they thenselves stay surprisingly clean.

In other news, I have a ringleader for my escapees.  This Barred Rock has taught at least 4 of her sisters to jump the fence and free range.  I love to let them free range, but while we're dealing with naughty Brady, I'm trying to keep them confined.
It's so nice to have friendly chickens wandering around...

This post linked to:  Homestead Barn Hop

Juliana Rancic is echoing my past, (Or, A Blessing in Disguise)

She has been trying to get pregnant for a few years.  She's tried IVF and it hasn't worked.  This last time, her doctor sent her to have further testing and they discovered she has breast cancer.  She has to have surgery and chemotherapy.  Then, she can try IVF again.

It's like my life 7 years ago.  I couldn't get pregnant.  My doctor sent me for further testing.  They found atypical cancerous cells.  I had a year of treatment.  Then, after IVF I got pregnant.

She said what I've been saying for years.

I love my babies.  If I didn't have infertility which led to the testing, who knows how sick I would be now?  I believe my babies saved my life.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Raising Meat Chickens - 3 Weeks old

The meaties are 3 weeks old this week, their birthday was yesterday.  They've done well transitioning to the tractor outside, even though it's been dropping into the 40's at night.  They have their heat lamp in the covered portion of the tractor and they huddle together under it at night.

During the day, they love to run around and forage a little bit in the grass.  I feed them 12 hours on mostly, now.  Really, I just feed them in the morning and make sure they have food throughout the day.  Then, when I tell them goodnight, I make sure they are out of food for the night.

We did lose one the first night out, or the second.  I think it just got too cold for her?  Maybe she ate too much.

They're feathering out nicely.  They come running when they see me, and attack my hand when I put their food trays in the tractor.  We are steadily moving them closer to the garden, where they'll spend their older days creating lovely compost for me.

We had an escapee.  My run isn't covered, but has 5-6' sides.  She took a running start and leaped the fence.  I let her wander alone for a couple of hours.  Some of the others tried to copy her, and Brady tried to go right through the fence, but no one else succeeded.

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop.