Monday, December 29, 2014

Sallee's Six - The Cupcake Pull Apart Cake Edition

In America, we celebrate with cake! Baby showers, birthdays, sporting events, weddings, and holidays are celebrated with cake. Okay, some Americans celebrate with pie. However, in my opinion, cake is the popular choice. 

Custom Cake and Cupcake Prices
Custom cake prices usually cost about $2.35 to $3.00 per serving. Just think about that for a minute, a cake large enough to serve 100 people can cost $300. Custom cupcakes can cost as much as $1.75 each, or $21.00 a dozen, for standard size cupcakes. However, a well known bakery, such as Charm City Cakes, charges $6 - $9 per serving AND this cost does not include labor. Prices like these cause home bakers to attempt making their own specialty cakes, or cupcakes, at home.

Home Baker Costs for Cupcakes
One cake mix makes twenty-four standard cupcakes. One container of frosting will generously frost about eighteen standard cupcakes. The total cost for a cake mix is about $1.00 to $1.99 each and a container of frosting is $1.19 to $2.35 each. A container of cupcake liners is another dollar or two.Using these prices, you can bake and frost 24 cupcakes for about thirty-six cents each.

Do It Yourself, Pull Apart Cakes
Novice and intermediate home bakers can bake a cupcake pull apart cake. First, you need a pattern to follow. The links below will take you to six of my favorite, pull apart cakes made from cupcakes.
  •  Elmo, 20 cupcakes by thatgirlang                               
Click here to see the pattern
  • John Deere Tractor, 39 cupcakes by Jessie Karnes Asbury  
Click here to see the pattern
  • Butterfly, 24 cupcakes by thatgirlang                        
Click here to see the pattern
  • Spiderman, 27-30 cupcakes  by Sweet E's Cake Creation
Click here to see the pattern
  • Princess Dress, 27 cupcakes by Valawynn                  
Click here to see pictures
Click here for tutorial
  • Super Bowl Touchdown Cake, 24 cupcakes by Food Network Kitchen
Click here for recipe and directions

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday Cookie Box for Christmas

Individual packages of homemade, decorated holiday cookies waiting to be boxed with a nine inch by eight inch Christmas tree cookie. 

A Recycled Cookie Cutter

Last year I received  Ferrero Rocher chocolates packaged in a plastic, Christmas tree shaped container. Thrifty gal and recycler that I am, my first thought was to reuse the empty container as a cookie cutter for an extra large, nine inch by eight inch, Christmas tree cookie.

Changing An Annual Baking Tradition

For years I have been making Christmas tree mini-cakes for my family. Hopefully they won't mind not getting a mini-cake this year. Instead, I decided to make a large Christmas tree cookie and package it with a variety of holiday cookies.
9" by 8" decorated, sugar cookie, Christmas trees.
Cinnamon candies, or red hots, yellow candy stars, and white piped garland and white Christmas bulbs decorate each cookie tree. I used a #3 piping tip to form the white bulbs and garland.

My classic, almost famous, sugar cookie dough became Christmas tree cookies, holly leaf cookies, and snow flake cookies. 

I used a #3 piping tip  to form the white icing features. The black icing was piped using a sixteen inch piping bag with the tip snipped off. To form the reindeer eyes, first pipe a bead of white icing with the #3 inch tip. Next, pipe a dot of black icing on top of the white icing bead. Now you have an eye looking at you.
Peanut butter, roll out cookie dough became Christmas trees and Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer cookies. 

My first time using this dough did not work well. The dough is sticky and soft UNLESS you refrigerate it for at least twenty-four hours. Then, you still have to work quickly to get it rolled out on a pastry mat. An additional, necessary step required flipping the dough over and re-flouring my pastry mat.

Also, I gave my cookie cutters a flour bath. Seriously, I had to submerge them in flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the cutters.

I will be looking for a different peanut butter cookie recipe to use.
Snowflake sugar cookies decorated with pale blue icing and Betty Crocker snowflake decor mix.
Sugar cookie holly leaves and peanut butter Christmas trees. For the holly leaf berries, I sorted out the red trees from the Christmas tree sprinkles and used them for the berries. Later I used a #3 piping tip and white icing to pipe ribbing onto the holly leaf cookies. This detail can be seen below in the fifth picture, or next to the last picture.
Sugar cookie trees decorated with yellow candy stars and Betty Crocker snowflake decors.
Christmas tree cookies decorated with a Wilton sprinkles mix
Chocolate bells with crushed candy cane trim. Piped borders were formed with a #5 piping tip.

Chocolate Roll Out Cookies 

Chocolate, roll out cookie dough became Christmas bells and Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer cookies.

Chocolate Cutout Cookie Recipe

I've used this dough before and it rolls out well after being chilled for two hours. 

Decorated and ready to pack in a shirt gift box from the local dollar store.
Christmas print, shirt gift boxes are sold in a three pack for two dollars.
Carefully placed and ready for a lid!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Zombie Crunch Snack Mix

Bill, my husband, loves to watch shows and movies about zombies. He also loves to eat a snack while watching zombies closing in on the next, horrified victim. When I asked him to help me name this snack mix, I should have known he would want the word "zombie" in the title. 

You can be in the kitchen making a batch of crunchy, salty, sweet, buttery, peppermint chocolate Zombie Crunch Snack Mix while your sweetie watches zombies eat people too.

Prep. Time: About 10 minutes    Cook Time: About 10 minutes
  • 1- 2.9 oz bag of popped Movie Theatre Butter popcorn.
  • 10 oz. of vanilla almond bark, or half a package
  • 1 Tbsp. all vegetable shortening
  • Mini pretzels
  • 2-3 candy canes, broken into small pieces  I put the candy canes into a zip top bag and use my meat tenderizing mallet to break the canes into small pieces. The size depends on your preference. 
  • Semi sweet chocolate chips

  • Place popped popcorn into a large, shallow bowl
  • Add desired amount of mini pretzels, chocolate chips, and broken candy canes on top of the popcorn. No measuring is required. 2 or 3 handfuls of pretzels and a handful of chocolate chips. It is that easy. 
  • Microwave 10 oz. of vanilla almond bark following the package directions.
  • Add 1 Tbsp. of shortening to the melted almond bark and stir until well blended
  • Drizzle half of the melted vanilla almond bark mixture evenly over the popcorn snack mix.
  • Stir gently to lightly coat the popcorn snack mix.
  • Repeat with the remaining half of the vanilla almond bark mixture.
  • Turn the coated popcorn snack mix out into an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and spread out evenly.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator for five minutes.
  • Remove from the freezer and gently break the clumped mixture into smaller pieces. 
  • Store the Zombie Crunch Snack Mix in zip top bags or a storage bowl with a tightly fitting lid. 

Zombie Crunch Snack Mix spread out on a lined cookie sheet.

After cooling in the freezer for five minutes, the Zombie Crunch Snack Mix is ready to gently break apart and eat. 

Yield: Enough to feed 2 hearty snackers or 3 light snackers

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sallee's Sugar Cookies - A Cookie Exchange Winner!

The two zip bags of cookies were for my coworker, Carrie. Carrie is a big fan of my sugar cookies.
Deck the cook with a flowered apron Fa la la la la, la la la la
Bake the fav'rit'  Christmas cookies Fa la la la la, la la la la

Roll out sugar cookies. Yep, I decided to take my classic, holiday sugar cookies to the cookie exchange at work this year. In addition to using the traditional cookie recipe, I decided to make my favorite shape of all time, Christmas trees. 
This year, twenty-seven of my coworkers brought three dozen cookies to the cookie exchange. The cash prizes were a great surprise!

Yes, I am a Christmas tree lover. The variety of decorating schemes for Christmas trees are endless! This love of decorating Christmas trees, includes making and decorating Christmas tree cookies.

Inspiration for this year's cookie exchange Christmas tree cookies was found over at Bakers Royale. Blogger Naomi Robinson's gorgeous white on white Christmas tree cookie pictures provided the decorating scheme for my cookies. 
  • Thinned frosting was spread on the cookies with a butter knife. 
  • The frosted cookies were placed on a cooling rack that was sitting on a baking sheet to collect drips.
  • The frosting was glossy and set in about twenty minutes. 
  • Then the garland and decorations were piped on.
  • White garland and green "ornaments" were piped on with a pastry bag that had the tip snipped.
  •  The blue ornaments were piped on with a #2 piping tip and pastry bag. 

For the cookie and frosting recipes click on the link:  Sallee's Sugar Cookies

Friday, December 5, 2014

Twenty Minute Crab Delight Salad

Warning: this can be highly addictive!
This is food porn at its best. Plus, six ingredients and twenty minutes to prepare makes this a quick and easy recipe to prepare. 

I do not have any pictures at this time because Bill and I cleaned the bowl out before I could take any. 

Yield: 4-5 servings as a salad


  • 12 oz. imitation crab meat
  • 2 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise Do not use salad dressing, it just won't taste the same.
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced celery  My mandoline makes this a 30 second job.
  • 1-2 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced 


  • Place cream cheese, mayonnaise, and lemon juice into a small bowl. 
  • Whisk until well blended.
  • Set aside.
  • Place crab meat into a 1 quart bowl and break it apart with your hands.
  • Add the celery, onions, and reserved dressing.
  • Stir until the mixture is well coated with the dressing.
  • Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until serving time.
  • An appetizer that you can serve with crackers or you can place a scoop on a bed of salad greens for lunch, dinner, or a snack.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

SalleeShares- Holiday Baking Championship Week 3

Week Three Bakers

And only six bakers remain to battle for $50,000 and the title, Holiday Baking Champion. Pastry Instructor Bill Liscomb, Home Baker Naylet Larochelle, Caterer David Bondarchuck, Naval Instructor/Family Baker Dante Morasco, Chef Terra Nelson, and Pro Baker Erin Campbell have survived two baking battles.  Each previous bake off battle has been devised to highlight baking skills in the areas of creativity, taste, and presentation. 

Meet the Judges
Owner of Charm City Cakes Duff Goldman,Farmhouse Rules host Nancy Fuller, and Pastry Chef Lorraine Pascale.

Sallee's Three to win the $50,000: Erin, Bill and Naylet.
Leave a comment and let me know who your top three bakers are.

The Preheat Advantage Challenge
The six remaining contestants' faces mirror surprise when host Bobby Deen announces the preheat advantage challenge:

"Use store bought pie crust to make a dessert that is not pie! in half an hour." Whoa, a thirty minute dessert using prepackaged pie crust? 

Six Dismayed Bakers
All the bakers are a little dismayed that they have to use prepackaged pie crust in an inspiring, innovative, holiday dessert that is not a pie. Texturally, a premade crust lacks butter. No butter means less flavor and flakiness. However, Bill did admit that he does use a store bought crust in a pinch. 

Note: Store bought crust is a help when time is short, or you do not know how to make a pie crust. However, I have not used a store bought crust in years because I have a perfected pie crust recipe, Chill and Thrill Pie Crust. This is my go to crust for any pie.

Six "Not a Pie" Desserts
  1. Bill decided to make an apple walnut raisin empanada. Empanadas are Latin American hand pies. However, it passed for "not a pie". Seriously, how close can you get to a pie and it NOT be a pie?
  2. Dante's choice was also an empanada. He prepared a chestnut chocolate chip empanada with a twisted edge that was eye appealing. However, I again ask the question, "How close can you get to a pie and it NOT be a pie?" During baking, the scrumptious filling leaked out of the empanadas. The judges all wanted more and Dante agreed with them. Sealing the edges of your dough is Baking 101. Nerves and time worked against Dante in this heat.
  3. David baked rounds of crust and assembled a black and white Napoleon. I was happy to see a dessert that was definitely NOT a pie. However, David's statement,"I'm all about presentation." was not apparent during this preheat. A powdered sugar stencil was the only holiday decoration. The judges, Duff, Nancy, and Lorraine all loved the flavors, but not the presentation. Nancy wanted to see three red berries and a mint leaf on top.  
  4. Erin's choice, deconstructed peach cobbler with egg washed pastry and sanding sugar, set the bar for the other contestants in the preheat. Once again Erin swung for the fences and this time the holiday baking ball soared over the outfield fence. 
  5. Naylet's dessert was a pumpkin butter dessert square which was essentially a square empanada that wasn't sealed properly. Guess what happened? Yes, the filling oozed out during baking. Back to Baking 101, seal those pastry edges. 
  6. Terra baked baby apple turnovers. Unfortunately, she chose to use unpeeled apples "like Mamaw."  In my opinion, using unpeeled, or pared, apples is a mistake. Apple peels can be bitter and tough. The trio of judges agreed with my opinion. Fortunately, Terra's innovative technique of pressing graham cracker crumbs into the pie crust for texture earned her points with all three judges. 
And the preheat WINNER is ERIN! Remember Erin is one of MY top 3 picks.

The Pie Challenge Continues!
Once again, five faces reflect dismay. Erin can begin baking 10 minutes earlier than the other five finalists in the elimination challenge.

And the Elimination Challenge Is:
Bake 3 pies in 2 hours. 
Glad it is them and not me. Two hours is not very much time to make three pies. 

Contestants' Holiday Pie Flavors

  • Chocolate Chip Pecan
  • Apple Cranberry Frangipane
  • Banana Pudding with Marshmallow Meringue
  • Apple 
  • Italian Pastia 
  • Italian Cheesecake 
  • Kentucky Bourbon Pecan
  • Chocolate Pumpkin
  • Cranberry Meringue
  • Lemon Meringue
  • Pumpkin
  • Salted Caramel Apple
  • Pecan Chocolate Coconut
  • Banana Cream Dulce de Leche
  • Cream Cheese Apple
  • Chocolate Chip Bourbon Pecan
  • Lemon Gingersnap
  • Pumpkin Maple Brulee
Baker Erin Start Your Baking!
Ten minutes slowly pass as five bakers watch Erin enthusiastically begin composing her three pies. Finally, all five could sprint into the pantry and begin work on their three pies.

At the one hour and fifteen minute mark, Dante cut his finger, which bled into his pie crust dough. Remaking pie dough is not what you want to be doing with less than an hour remaining. Could Dante be the eliminated baker this week?

Two Hours Later
Bobby Deen calls time and six pairs of hands rise into the air. A moment later, Bobby says,"I like surprises and I have a surprise for you." With an "Uh Oh what now?" look, the finalists look at each other and back at Bobby. 

Surprise! Pick the Best Two Pies
  • Dante was pleased to pick two out of three, but only had one good pie and knew it. 
  • Naylet struggled to complete her Cheesecake Apple Pie and quickly chose to eliminate it. 
  • David remarked,"It's like choosing between my children!" However, he decided to leave the Kentucky Bourbon Pecan pie in his kitchen.
  •  Erin took her Lemon Meringue out of the judging.
  • Terra decided her Pumpkin Maple Brulee pie would be left on the counter because it might not be done. 
  • Bill chose to leave out his chocolate chip pecan. ( one eyebrow lifted) Maybe because Terra had a chocolate chip pecan too?

(Judge Dredd voice).......................... Pies and Bakers, you have been judged.

Top picks  

David - Cranberry Meringue earned an "Mm, Mm, Mm" from Judge Nancy Fuller. The pumpkin was deemed "excellent."
Nylet - Both of Nylet's pies earned great remarks. Lorraine Pascal said," This is legendary!" Duff and Nancy agreed with her. Nylet told the camera," It's a proud mama moment!"

Your Safe 
Erin - Judge Duff and Judge Nancy liked the Salted Apple Caramel, but Judge Lorraine thought it needed to be saltier. 
Bill - The marshmallow meringue on his Banana Cream Pie had Duff asking how he made it. I believe all three judges will be making marshmallow meringue in the immediate future. 
At the Bottom 
Terra - Mystery flavor in her Chocolate Chip Bourbon Pecan pie. (flour that didn't cook enough)
Dante - texture issues with the Italian Cheesecake Pie
Who Went Home?
Dante had a difficult baking day that sent him home. Cutting himself, accidentally contaminating his bowl of pie crust, and texture issues all combined to send Dante home. 

And the Winner?

Caterer David Bondarchuck won the Week 3 Elimination Challenge. Congratulations on your win David.