Peep Cake and Cupcakes

Yesterday, I made a peep cake for my husband to take to work. I didn't make anything for St. Patrick's day, so I thought I would at least make something for Easter. Plus his coworkers were demanding cake with their fists raised high, chanting, "We want cake, now!". Okay, not really.

I got the idea from the Food Network Magazine April 2012 issue. I also used their frosting recipe. It tasted good, but it's not the best for decorating. Their cake and frosting recipes seem to turn out really good or really bad. The frosting would work better on cupcakes or maybe as a filling (inside a buttercream dam).

I used a vanilla cake recipe.

Before I put the cake together, I froze the bottom layer (9”x13”), then leveled the three cakes (bowls were ~1 quart and 1 1/2 quart). Next, I cut the corners off the cake. As you can see, mine is not perfect.

  Peep Cake and Cupcakes (1 of 4)

I placed two of the corners at one end to make a tail and secured them with toothpicks. I arranged the bowl cakes to make the body and secured it with a bubble tea straw. Then I placed a corner end on the top bowl cake to make a bill and secured it with toothpicks. I didn't know how much frosting I would need to cover the cake, so I used a small amount in between the layers. I did this to help secure the layers.

  Peep Cake and Cupcakes (2 of 4)

I frosted the cake similar to how I normally frost a cake. I used a thin crumb coat layer then went back with more frosting. I sprinkled a small amount of yellow sanding sugar over the cake. I didn't have brown wafer disk, so I used a two pink ones and painted them brown with food dye.

  Peep Cake and Cupcakes (4 of 4)

I had enough batter leftover to make eight cupcakes. I spooned the frosting on the cupcakes and sprinkled with sanding sugar.

  Peep Cake and Cupcakes (3 of 4)

Doesn't really look like a peep, but it is cute enough for Easter and it taste great.


Have a great weekend and a happy Easter.










Benefits of Using a Food Diary

Personally I’m not a huge fan of keeping a food diary because I suck at keeping up with them. However, I do believe they are a positive and useful tool in tracking intake and identifying nutrition problems.

There are several benefits to keeping a food diary, but the main benefit is to manage weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight gain. To do this you will need to:

  • Figure out your calorie needs to either lose, maintain, or gain weight.
  • Record everything you eat and drink. Everything!
    • Measure the foods you prepare at home by using measuring cups, spoons, and a food scale. 
      • Soon you will learn how to “eyeball” serving sizes.
        • Once a week, measure everything for a day to brush up on serving sizes
    • Estimate calories when eating out and choose wisely. I use the exchange list that is commonly used by diabetics to estimate calories. Keep in mind this is only an estimate.

The picture is the exchange list and below that are the food group serving sizes you would use with the exchange list. Keep in mind foods that have use a combination of food groups. 

photo 1

Starch
  • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, grain, or starchy vegetable
  • 1/3 cup of cooked rice or pasta
  • 1 oz of bread
  • 3/4 to 1 oz of snack foods, such as chips (some snacks also contain fat)
Fruit
  • 1 small (4 oz) fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup fruit juice
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
Milk
  • 1 cup
Non-starch vegetable
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or vegetable juice
  • 1 cup raw vegetables
Meat and Meat Substitutes
  • 1 oz of meat, fish, poultry, or cheese
  • 1/2 cup of beans, peas, or lentils
Fat
  • 1 teaspoon of regular margarine or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of regular salad dressing

After a week or two, you will begin to memorize the nutrients in foods you commonly eat.

Helps recognize plateaus and patterns

A food diary will help identify foods or serving size increases or decreases. Remember everything counts. A food diary allows you to critically review what you are eating and how it is effecting your goals. 

Identify foods that might be causing health related problems not associated with weight.

A food diary is useful to identify foods that are causing health issues such as an upset stomach, pain, diarrhea, constipation, and inflammation. Perhaps you noticed you always have pain and nausea after dinner. By recording you meals, you can look in your diary and figure out the root cause then eliminate it from your diet.
It is also useful in identifying allergies by using an elimination diet. This is where you would eliminate foods most common with allergies from your diet. Once the inflammation passes, you would slowly add one of the foods back into your diet and record the effect it has on your body. You would do this until you figured out the offending food.
For example, my friend’s hair started falling out in clumps and her skin was cracking and bleeding. Her doctor put her on an elimination diet and determined she is allergic to gluten and lactose. I have another friend that gets a red itchy area on her stomach. She stopped eating gluten and it went away. Now every time she eats gluten the itchy patch comes back.

Identify foods causing fatigue and reasons for low energy

Many people feel fatigue after eating large amounts of carbohydrates. Having a food diary would identify those foods and the time of day the fatigue sets in.
Low energy is usually the result of not eating enough. Many people feel this way if they skip breakfast or work out on an empty stomach. Eating something small will help with low energy. Having a food diary will show where the calories can be rearrange to accommodate for the small meal.

Methods

I prefer the pen and paper route to keeping a food diary, but I also love the database and ease of using the myfitnesspal app on my phone. I’m more likely to stick with a food diary if it is staring at me all day in a notebook than if it is hidden on my phone.
There is no right or wrong method to keeping a food diary as long as you record the time of day, the food and drink, and its serving size. If you are keeping one for weight management then at least record the calories consumed. If you want to get more detailed, record the nutrient grams.

Overall, a food diary will help:
  • Manage weight
  • Track progress and improve motivation
  • Identify plateaus and patterns
  • Identify foods causing health problems
  • Accountability and improve will power

Source:
The food exchange list came from Exchange List For Meal Planning written by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association 2003.

Red Rock Canyon Marathon and Half Marathon Recap

Last Saturday, I ran the Red Rock Canyon half marathon and it kicked my butt. The race was by far the hardest course I have ever ran in my life.

Red Rock Canyon

It was tough, but also beautiful. There was snow covering the red rock mountains. This is my favorite course based solely on scenery.

Red Rock Canyon Marathon and Half Marathon Finish Line

The first mile was a big circle in front of the visitor’s center, then immediately came the uphill portion. The uphill portion was about 5.5 miles long. There was a short flat section and a downhill section that teased my muscles with relief before returning to the steep uphill. My calves were on fire. I took a Gu around 6.5 miles, and drank some water from the aid stations.

The remainder of the race was downhill with a sprinkle of short uphill sections. The elevation map is from Calico Racing, the company that put on the race.

H:\Calico Racing\Red Rock\Red Rock Half Reverse Map Reverse Half Marathon (1)

Overall, it was a fun and challenging race. I want to run the marathon next year, only this time I plan to train properly.

Packet pick up: The packet pick up was small. A plus was that they gave away samples of Starbucks Via iced coffee. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. A negative is that the packet pick up was in a smoky casino.

Course: It was an absolutely beautiful and challenging course.

Volunteers: The volunteers were great. They were cheerful and happy to be there.

Aid stations: I didn’t pay attention to the aid stations. I know they had water and Heed. There was an aid station about every mile to mile and a half. If I was running the marathon, I would have paid more attention to them.

Food/Drinks: Plenty of food at the end of the race. There were mainly breakfast foods such as donuts, cinnamon rolls, danishes, cuties, bananas, etc. My biggest complaint was that there wasn’t any water at the end of the race. None. At least there wasn’t any when I finished. There wasn’t even any Heed left. I thought I was going to die.

Water, or any liquid, is an absolute must at the end of any race especially in the desert. I ate several cuties to help quench my thirst. It was awful.

Shirt/Medal: The tech shirt is maroon with long sleeves. I love long sleeve tech shirts. The medal is big and has a similar design as the shirt.

Front  Back
photo (2)

I recommend this race if you a) love hills, b) want a tough and challenging course, and c) want a gorgeous view.


Chocolate Bundt Cake

The day after baking and decorating cakes, I’m usually exhausted. Yesterday I made two candy bar cakes one for a customer and another for a friend. The cake isn’t difficult to make, but it can be time consuming. The wave on the top of the cake had me frustrated and swearing. I worked on that stupid wave for too long. In the end, both cakes turned out well and were dropped off today.

Candy Bar Cake_thumb[4]

A couple of weeks ago, I made a chocolate Bundt cake for my husband to take to work. He ended up not going to work that next day, so I was able to eat some cake. I usually don’t eat the cakes I make unless I have leftover scraps.

The Bundt cake was delicious. The frosting on top was thick and somewhat chewy. It reminded me of the chocolate frosting on top of a Hostess chocolate cupcake. Yum. The frosting cracked when I moved it to the cake stand.

Chocolate Bundt Cake

I followed the recipe for the cake, but I had to make substitutions on the frosting. I ran out of cocoa powder, and had to use chocolate chips. The cake turned out divine.

Perfectly Chocolate Bundt Cake- Adapted from Cookie Madness

Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, natural type
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water (or coffee)**** I used coffee ****

Marshmallow Frosting
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened natural or Dutch cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup small or 6 large marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a Bundt pan with flour-added baking spray.
  2. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. Beat two minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed. Stir in water until blended. Batter will be thin.
  3. Pour batter in the Bundt pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until skewer or pick inserted comes out clean.
  4. Let the cake sit in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn it from the Bundt.
  5. To make the frosting, sift the sugar and set it next to the stove.
  6. Combine the butter, marshmallows and milk in a large (3 quart) saucepan. Heat on medium to medium low, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa. Add about half the powdered sugar and stir well, then gradually add more until you get just the consistency you want. Add vanilla and stir until smooth. Pour over the cake, letting it fall down the sides and into the center.
This cake was tasty and easy to make. Now, I’m off to workout before my kids wake up from their nap.

Have a great day.



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