My Tim Tam Adventure

One of the things I enjoyed most about growing up in the military was the ability we had to travel the world and visit so many different countries. The world is a beautiful place and like my dad always said, “To have a friend you must be a friend”, and he always managed to find friends everywhere we went. But as wonderful as we found the people and scenery of each nation, the thing we remember and talk about the most are all the wonderful things we ate in each place. You can find good food every where!

When I grew up and had my own children I wanted them to also have that same sense of culinary adventure. Even though we didn’t have that ability to travel as before, we lived in a country filled with people from all over the world. Not to mention that I love to cook and tried many new recipes. The rule was that they had to take at least one bite of whatever was served and if they didn’t like it that was OK, but at least they tried it. They actually liked most of what they ate and to this day trying new foods and restaurants are a big thing in our family.

My youngest daughter, as well as being a fantastic cook, loves to watch YouTube and discover new things to try. One day she came across something called a Tim Tam Slam. Tim Tams are a cookie made in Australia, the slam part you kind of have to see for yourself. Click the link: Tim Tam Slam. Of course once she saw the video we had to go shopping and find Tim Tams. We found some at Target and had a great, if not somewhat messy, time doing the Tim Tam Slam ourselves.

When we first set out to find Tim Tams there was only the original flavor in our Target but recently we went there and found three more flavors. Of course we had to take them home and try them all.

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As we were enjoying our taste testing, my favorite is the caramel by the way, we came up with the idea to make cupcakes based on each of the four Tim Tam flavors, and so the Tim Tam Cupcake was born.

If you’ve ever tasted a Tim Tam you will notice that the cookie in the center has a soft easy to crumble texture. In order to replicate this as closely as possible we used the chocolate cupcake recipe from the Belly Feathers Party Blog. I’ve made these cupcakes in the past and they are so good! Here’s the link: Chocolate Cupcakes.

Than we frosted each cupcake with with buttercream frosting in their designated flavors. It was fun and they turned out so amazingly good! Just a word of advice, you definitely need a strong cup of tea or coffee to go with them, they are very sweet.

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Milk Chocolate Tim Tam Cupcakes
For this cupcake we frosted it with chocolate buttercream frosting. I used the Wilton’s Chocolate Buttercream recipe but I added an additional 1/4 cup of dark cocoa to the recipe. We crunched up some of the original flavored Tim Tam cookies and sprinkled them on top. Then we drizzled milk chocolate over the entire cupcake. For the drizzle: Melt about 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips in the microwave. I usually melt it right in my decorating bag, then snip the top for drizzling.

Caramel Chocolate Tim Tam Cupcakes
This cupcake is amazing and oh so sweet! We frosted it with the same chocolate buttercream frosting as above. Then crunched up some of the Chewy Caramel flavored Tim Tam cookies and sprinkled them on top. Then we drizzled caramel ice cream topping over the entire cupcake. Next time I think I’ll make my own caramel for a thicker drizzle but we were too impatient to wait for that. 🙂

Dark Chocolate Tim Tam Cupcakes
This cupcake is probably my favorite as it doesn’t seem quite as sweet. Frost the cupcake with dark chocolate buttercream frosting. I used the Wilton’s Chocolate Buttercream recipe but I added an additional 1/2 cup of dark cocoa to the recipe. We crunched up some of the dark chocolate flavored Tim Tam cookies and sprinkled them on top. Then we drizzled dark chocolate over the cupcake. For the drizzle: Melt about 1/2 cup of  bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave.

Dark Chocolate Mint Tim Tam Cupcakes
Just as the mint flavored Tim Tam is very lightly flavored, we kept our cupcakes the same. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract to about two cups of the dark chocolate buttercream frosting from above. We crunched up some of the dark chocolate mint Tim Tam cookies and sprinkled them on top. Then we drizzled dark chocolate over the cupcake. For the drizzle: Melt about 1/2 cup of  bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave.

We hope you enjoy making these as much as we did! G’day folks! 😉

 

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We the People of 2018

I couldn’t sleep last night. My mind just kept going around and around. The 2018 Legislative session is about to get going and I’m still working to better my Cottage Food Law bill. Of course one thought led to another and I started to think about the upcoming precinct caucuses which will be taking place on February 6th and how important they are to us as a people.

There was a time that I didn’t want anything to do with politics. I wrote about that journey in my blog We the People. I never realized until I really wanted something to change how the process works. Now that I know and have been involved in the political system for a while now, it makes me even more upset to see how little our people really understand about the power they hold.

It is We the People who vote our representatives into place. It begins at the caucuses and what happens there has a direct impact on our everyday lives. How many of us even know what our representatives vote for in session? Do you just vote the person you like best into a position and then go on your merry way thinking this is enough? Do you just vote for someone because of the party they are affiliated with but never really have knowledge of what this person stands for? This is a very dangerous thing to do.

Until I got involved I never knew how often our representatives just vote down party lines and never even read the bills they are presented with. I never realized how often representatives will say what you want to hear and then vote for what they think is best for you. Because they are in the government they suddenly think they know what’s best for their constituents, never hearing what the constituents, who elected them, really want.

Do you know what your representatives vote for and why? Do you know that our tax dollars get thrown around these committees like it’s their weekly allowance with never a thought to what We the People need or want? I do. I’ve sat in their committee meetings. I’ve seen firsthand how they become judge and jury. I’ve seen the games they play and quite frankly where my tax dollars are going makes me really angry. It should make you angry too.

When a representative can swear to watch over the interests of We the People, and then give our tax dollars to immigrants for free housing, vacations, etc. and there are still so many homeless people on our streets, this State is not spending our tax dollars correctly.

When an immigrant can get totally free health care but my friend, a born and bred Minnesota gal who has served her country can’t even get help with her kidney medication; there are big problems in this State.

And before you call me racist which seems to be the answer to every political agenda that someone disagrees with these days, really honestly think about it. And before you point fingers at this party or that party, believe me they all do it. That’s your money. These representatives are supposed to work for you. Can you really say this is happening?

All I want is for our representatives, all of the representatives, to remember who they work for and take care of ALL the people of Minnesota. This will not happen until We the People wake up, attend the caucuses, and vote for the representatives who are going to quit playing the political games and really hear and stand for their constituents.

To find your caucus area you can click this link, 2018 Caucus Locations 

Please educate yourself, listen to the candidates and really become a part of your community. Don’t just listen to what these people are saying but check out their actions.

You can see what your Legislature is voting for and discussing every day. They have alerts from the Session Daily news, a Facebook page, Twitter  & Youtube videos of their committee meetings. The Minnesota State Legislative website has even more information there about your Senators and House Representatives.

I challenge you to find out exactly what your representatives are doing and if you really are happy with how they are working for you. Because at the end of the day We the People are responsible for what we stand by and let happen.

 

Mmmmm Worms!

Recently I took my granddaughter to the newly opened Mills Fleet Farm in our neighboring town. They had just put out the Halloween candy so she decided we needed to bake cupcakes with gummy worms. We spent a few days discussing how these amazing cupcakes should look. She takes her cake designs very seriously. She already has a very elaborate idea in mind for her birthday cake, which is still over a month away. I’ll be sure to show you when the time comes. By the way, I also have a my own baking business called Sweet Eats By Shelley. You can follow me on Facebook or check out my WordPress website, Sweet Eats By Shelley.

Anyway, we finally had time to bake our cupcakes this weekend. We baked my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, and then frosted them with Chocolate Marshmallow Buttercream. I love Amanda from “I Am Baker” and I follow her on Facebook. Her videos are a delight to watch and she always has fun ideas. I saw her recipe for Marshmallow Buttercream in some cookies she made and it looked really good. I thought if I added some cocoa to that recipe it would be perfect for our cupcakes. It was perfect and really good!

We used my cupcake corer to take out a small circle from the center of the cupcakes. Then we stuck the ends of 2 or 3 gummy worms into the hole. We then piped chocolate marshmallow buttercream over the worms to make it look like they were coming out of the ground. Another worm was place on top of the buttercream. We added crushed thin chocolate filled Oreos on top for dirt and finished the whole thing off with fall leaf sprinkles. It was so much fun!

Chocolate Marshmallow Buttercream
1 cup soft butter
1/3 cup cocoa
½ tsp. almond extract
1 Tbsp. water
4 cups powdered sugar
13oz container of marshmallow fluff

Whip the butter until fluffy. Add the cocoa and flavoring then beat until smooth. Be sure to scrape the sides of your bowl every so often as you work.  Add 2 cups powdered sugar and the water, beat until smooth. Add the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar, beat until smooth. Add the marshmallow fluff and beat until fluffy. This will frost about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Happy October you all!

 

 

2017 Summer Treats

The summer of 2017 has come and gone. Cooler air, changing leaves and autumn winds have arrived. As usual it was a busy summer. We had lots of family and visitors coming and going. We welcomed a few new brides to the family. I was excited to become a Great Aunt to two lovely little grand-nieces and a beautiful brand new grand-daughter was born. Sadly we had to say good bye to some dear loved ones until that day we meet again.

We bought an RV this summer and camped. A lot! It definitely got well used. Probably one of the best things to come out of our camping trip, besides family time of course, was the invention of salted caramel s’mores. Those things were really addicting!

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With all of that busy summer I did not get a lot of baking accomplished. I had hoped to attend our local farmer’s market but that just never happened. I did bake for a few weddings, baby showers and a college alumni event. Here are some of my summer creations. Please enjoy them and have a fabulous fall!

 

 

Herb Obsession

Hello everyone! It’s been a long time since I wrote anything. As you may recall, for awhile I was obsessed with cream puffs. Everything I saw made me immediately wonder how it would be in cream puff form. I think I’m over it now. At least for the moment. Because this summer I became obsessed with herbs.

Every year my daughter grows the most amazingly beautiful herbs. Last year her mint was so hardy it outlasted three frosts before it finally gave up and succumbed to the elements. She called it “Franken Nana”. Nana is Hebrew for mint. This year her garden was even more spectacular. We had so much of everything, even after giving a lot of it away. I was trying to figure out what else to do with all of these herbs when a friend mentioned that he had recently visited Magnolia Farms and that they had the best Lemon Thyme cupcakes. That was my eureka moment! Of course! What else should a baker do with herbs but bake with them? So I started researching recipes on good old Pinterest. I baked so many different things and combinations. The kitchen smelled heavenly!

In the end I discovered that although I had a wonderful time baking all of these things, I wasn’t real sure about the taste. I really liked the Lemon Sage shortbread, while my daughter who loves strong flavors really liked the Lemon Basil shortbread. Several other friends thought everything we made was good. However my dad, who is one of my favorite taste testers said, “Don’t make anymore of those icky things.” 🙂 So you will have to try it out for yourself. Pictures and recipes are below. Have fun!

Lemon Thyme Cupcakes

Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream ~ These cupcakes are so delicious! Light and lemony with a soft touch of rosemary. These were by far my favorite.

The recipe is: Meyer Lemon Rosemary Cupcakes

Lemon Sage Shortbread

Lemon Sage Shortbread ~ I love shortbreads and these crisp herb flavored ones were really nice. I also made Lemon Rosemary shortbread but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it.

Here are the recipes: Lemon Rosemary Shortbread & Lemon Sage Shortbread 

blueberry basil cupcake

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Basil Buttercream Frosting ~ These were very interesting. The cupcakes were lovely but the lemon basil buttercream was very strong. If you like basil, you will love these cupcakes!

Here’s the recipe: Lemon Blueberry Basil Cupcakes 

Basil Shortbread

Lemon Basil Shortbread ~ This turned out very good! The lemon glaze makes it very lovely as well as adding additional flavor. I did not add basil to the glaze as to me the cookies were strong enough.

The recipe is: Lemon Basil Shortbread

 

February, March & My Cream Puff Obsession Continues

Hello everybody! These past few months have been busy with birthdays, baby showers, wedding cake tasting and of course holidays. Both of my grandsons had birthdays and it’s always fun to create what they ask for. They begin thinking about it and saving pictures months in advance. This year we had a construction site and Batman Lego cakes. Legally I can not sell a Batman Lego cake to the public because of copyright laws and all that, but I can make it for my grandson. I think it turned out pretty good. The Grands were happy and that’s all that matters. I also made a second attempt at petite fours for my daughters birthday. Years I ago I tried it and wasn’t impressed but after watching the Great American Baking Challenge I decided to try it again. They make it look so easy! It’s a lie. It is not. Also they are super sweet and I’m still not impressed. It won’t be added to my Sweet Eats website menu any time soon. My niece had a lovely bee themed baby shower that was lots of fun to do. Below are pictures of some of my creations for February and March.

Valentines Day, Purim and St. Patrick’s Day were all celebrated in our home this year. Everyone knows what Valentine’s Day is but not a lot of people know about Purim. It is a holiday commemorating the saving of the Jewish people from a really bad guy named Haman. You can read about it in the book of Esther in the Bible. Purim and St. Patrick’s Day were about the same time this year so I decided to pair the traditional Purim cookie, known as Hamanstachen in Yiddish, with what else? Irish cream! This Chocolate and Irish Cream filled cookie, drizzled with white chocolate and green sprinkles was sooooooo good!

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St. Patrick’s Day! We actually had the whole soda bread, corn beef and cabbage meal twice this year. It’s so yummy! Every year I try to create a different take on traditional desserts to celebrate the holidays. St. Patrick’s Day has turned out to be one of the more challenging ones. There’s not a lot to work with. I once asked a very good friend, who happens to be a beautiful Irish lass, what spices are used in Ireland. She laughed and said, “Salt, pepper and for a bit of adventure some cinnamon.” So that didn’t help me much. This year I decided to combine my cream puff obsession with my Irish love to create the most amazing cream puff ever, Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream Filled Cream Puffs! I also made regular vanilla cream puffs and strawberry and cream filled cream puffs, which were also really yummy but nothing like the main event!

How to make Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream Filled Cream Puffs

Make your regular cream puff recipe. I like to use Betty Crocker’s Cream Puff recipe. Bake them, slice them in half and let them cool. Then whip up your cream filling. 77d869480b66805b691e18ebeb38f05d

Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream Whipped Cream Filling
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (or to taste) of Bailey’s Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream
1 package of vanilla instant pudding

Beat all of the ingredients together with a mixer until the cream thickens and holds it’s shape.

Your puffs should be cool now. Spoon a good sized dollop of the cream filling on the bottom of each puff. Cover with the top puff. Melt about 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to drizzle over the top of each cream puff. Then sprinkle on some edible shamrocks. I found these at Michael’s. They looked like fun so I had to use them. Keep the puffs refrigerated until you eat them.

There you have it, Chocolate Cherry Irish Cream Filled Cream Puffs. Enjoy!

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Cream Puff Obsession ~ Part 2

My cream puff obsession was put on hold for the holiday season but I am back with a new recipe to share with you. Even though we are still a few weeks away from February these Tiramisu Cream Puffs would make the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day. Of course they are seriously delicious for any occasion so forget about waiting and try them today.

The idea for this cream puff came about because of my youngest daughter’s love of tiramisu. I love to bake and cook but I’m not going to lie, I don’t have patience for any long and complicated recipes, so I’m always on the look out to find the easiest ways to make the most complicated things. As I was looking up easier recipes to make tiramisu I came across this Easy 10 Minute No Bake Tiramisu recipe. Honestly, I have not made this exact recipe yet. I actually used it the first time to make the cream for this really yummy Tiramisu Cake. 487531_1013333735400325_8418572481253560484_n1

Yes it was a thing of beauty, but we are here today to talk about cream puffs. Below you will find the step by step instructions for making my Tiramisu Cream Puffs.

Tiramisu Cream Puffs

I always begin my cream puffs with the basic recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook which you can find here: Betty Crocker’s Cream Puff recipe. You will need to add a heaping tablespoon full of instant coffee to the melted butter and about 1 teaspoon of rum extract. Continue with the recipe until you have a coffee colored cream puff pastry dough.

Place the pastry dough by rounded spoonful’s onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Let the baked puffs cool on the pan while you prepare the next step.

In a saucepan bring 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/8 cup of strong coffee to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let it boil until the sugar dissolves and becomes a syrup, about 3 or 4 minutes. Cut open the puffs and drizzle some of the syrup into the base of each puff and on top of each puff.

Then make the cream filling: 1733573ac30aea1f98ef632b29a0a5af1

Ingredients

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
6 oz. softened cream cheese
2 Tablespoons sour cream
3 Tablespoons heavy cream

Whip together the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla until your whipped cream forms peaks in the bowl.

In a separate bowl mix together the cream cheese, sour cream and heavy cream until light and fluffy.

Fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream mixture. You can add a little more sugar if you like a sweeter cream filling.

Fill the centers of each cream puff base, put the top of the cream puff in place. In a microwave melt about 1 1/2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips. Drizzle on top of each cream puff, or just slather it on like I do. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Enjoy!

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It’s Soup Weather!

Oh my goodness! We had such an amazingly comfortable winter and then suddenly it’s like somebody opened the deep freeze and threw us all in it. It is perfect soup weather, however, and I’ve been making a lot of it. Lentil soup was the most recent. I love lentil soup but it never turns out great for me. So I started browsing through Pinterest (whoever the genius is behind Pinterest I just want to thank them) and I found what sounded like a really yummy vegan lentil soup. I got out all of the ingredients then decided it should be doubled, so I got out more ingredients and then I started following the recipe. But me being me that’s about where the ‘recipe following’ ended. I tend to take recipes as more of a suggestion than a fact. It turned out great and I appreciate the Cookin’ Canuck for leading the way. I have written the instructions for how I tweaked my soup below. You can find the original recipe for Hearty Lentil & Black Bean Soup on the blog Cookin’ Canuck.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. spanish paprika
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 bay leaves
2 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 cup dried brown lentils
12 cups vegetable broth
2 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

 

Instructions:
Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. SautĂŠ the onions and celery for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, spices and bay leaves.

Stir in the 2 cans of diced tomatoes, lentils and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Put about 4 cups of the lentil mixture and 2 cans of drained and rinsed black beans in a blender or food processor. Pulse until almost pureed, but still course.

Pour the blender mixture back into the pot with the remaining lentil mixture. Stir and reheat over medium heat. Enjoy!

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Ring in 2017 with this Chocolate Cherry Cake!

Hey everybody! Happy New Year!

If you are looking for a really rich and yummy cake for your New Year’s Eve party you have to try this. Warning! This cake is not for children as it does contain a lot of alcohol.

First a little back story, a friend told us about this amazing store that has wine from all over the world called Total Wine. One day we went there specifically looking for wine from Israel and found that Total Wine is much more than just wine. This place has everything! Aisles and aisles of everything! Lo and behold, as I was wandering along these miles of aisles I came across one of my favorite things– Baileys Irish Cream. Aw but not just one kind of Baileys but several different varieties met my eyes. Of course the one that stood out and became a must have was this one…33fa14ac28aa21587b30c6ededf61ce92How beautiful is that? Immediately the possibilities started flooding my mind. So many yummy things can be made with this and of course it’s also really good to just drink but soooo much better in a chocolate cake. So, that’s what I made. Today I am sharing with you my Baileys Chocolate Cherry Cake. It’s rich, it’s decadent, it’s perfect for a holiday party. Happy New Years you all!

Shelley’s Baileys Chocolate Cherry Cake

Things you will need:
Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe
Baileys Chocolate Cherry Cream
3 cups heavy whipping cream
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 can of cherry pie filling

Begin with baking your favorite chocolate cake recipe. I used the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake on page 94 of my “A Piece Of Cake” cookbook by Susan G. Purdy. It’s a little dryer than my usual chocolate cake recipe so holds it’s shape better. Bake your cake in two 9″ round cake pans, let them cool and then slice them in half so that you have 4 layers.

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When all 4 layers are completely cooled make the whipped cream filling. In a mixing bowl whip 3 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup of the Baileys Chocolate Cherry cream, and about 3-4 tablespoons of sugar until the cream is thick and holds a peak.

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Then it’s time to assemble your layers. Place the first layer of cake onto your serving platter. With a pastry brush dab about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of the Baileys onto the first layer of the cake.

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Cover this with about 2 cups of whipping cream. Then place the second layer on top. Pipe a line of whipped cream around the edge of the second layer then fill the center with cherry pie filling.

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Place the third layer on top of this and once again dab on about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of the Baileys, cover this with about 2 more cups of the whipped cream. Place the fourth layer on top of this and repeat with a piped edge of whipped cream and more cherry pie filling in the center. I added a few more decorative stars of whipped cream because it’s pretty and you can never have too much whipped cream. All together your finished cake should look like this:

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Chocolate Cherry Cake

The flavor is best after it’s been cooled for a few hours, but if you can’t wait that’s fine also. Keep any leftovers refrigerated. Enjoy!

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My Creations Of 2016

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. 2016 kept me busy traveling and as a result I still haven’t really expanded my baking business. But I did get to travel so who can complain about that? However, traveling did not stop me from baking all together and I baked for a few weddings and other special occasions, as well as created a few new recipes throughout the year. I plan on sharing these recipes with you in the near future. In the meantime if I can assist with a recipe related question I would be happy to help. Also if you would like to check out my business website it is: Sweet Eats By Shelley. I wish you all a very sweet 2017!

 

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