Friday, July 27, 2012


This is what's
going on in my life...right about now.

Loving: my family.  I am continually proud of the choices and accomplishments of my sweet love.  He is an incredible husband, father and friend!  My boys are the most precious gifts I have been given.  They fill my life with joy, love and laughter!  The rest of my family is always giving, loving and willing to help however they can!

Reading: my bible.  Every morning before I get out of bed even if it's just one verse.  Bread of life.

Waiting for: my cake business to "take off".  I'm working on flour dusted day at a time.

Excited about: my sister-in-law having her second girl!!!!  If their second is as precious as their first we are all done for!!  Why wouldn't she be? ;-)  How cute is this sweetpea!
I know!

Missing: my fruit and veggie smoothies.  The blender we have just isn't doing it's job well anymore.  They were starting to come out clumpy no matter how long I blended it.  The chunky texture turned me off so I've stopped making them.  If you'd like to put towards my Vitamix fund I'll happily take donations! :-)

Trying to: get back to the gym and lose a few more pounds.  But who wants to hear about that! :-)

Working on: a plan to raise funds to be able to do about 5 "dessert table-scape" photo shoots in the next 3 months.  You know how you see all these dessert table-scapes with a gorgeous background, beautiful desserts and incredible decorations to pull it all together?  That's my goal!  These will be added to my portfolio so I can more quickly accomplish my "Waiting for" entry above.  A few ideas...

Gorgeous right!!

Enjoying: Trader Joe's in my area!  They recently opened and my love and I can't seem to get enough of their "basketful of items" for $50!  Rock on!

Using: my MacBook Pro and loving it!  A gift from my love earlier this year.  I feel I can do anything with it.  Except maybe eat it.  That would be extremely odd and would probably be very hard on my digestive system. ??

Wearing: Vince Camuto perfume.  I love it's fresh sweet scent!  I actually got it this past Christmas and am almost out.  So I think it's time for some more but I'd like to try something different.  Any suggestions?

Planning: a Lingerie Shower for my other SIL.  It's SO exciting!!!!  Eeeeeekk!  The theme is Old Hollywood Glamour!

Singing: whatever my 9 and 6 yr old are listening to and for my 9 yr old, right now, that's P.O.D.'s Alive.  This is what my love and I listened to when we were dating!  We even saw them in concert!

Needing: a mani-pedi, haircut and massage...DESPERATELY!!  I'm up for bartering.

Learning: to use AutoCAD again after 10yrs.  I seem to always be figuring these kinds of things out on my own...PhotoShop, Blogger, iWeb, DreamWeaver, etc...I enjoy learning that way!

Listening: to Pandora...a lot!  FM Radio?  What's that?

Wishing: I could go on vacation.  This summer has not been a vacation for anyone in the Frank household this year.  Adventure, yes.  Vacation, hardly.  Too transparent?  Sorry.
The beach in Cozumel on my girlfriend cruise last February (sigh).

Doing: my best to keep up with house work.  I'd rather be learning AutoCAD, swimming with my boys, planning a shower and baking!  I know I'm not alone in this.

Praying for: continued provision, firm direction and wisdom.  Too vague?  Well, I can't tell you everything!

Dreaming of: one day opening my own bakery!

Natalia Frank...CURRENTLY

I'd love to know what you're up to as well!

{I saw this idea posted by Emily at Jones Design Company but this idea was originally taken from Sasha at Lemonade Makin' Mama.}

As blessed, thanks for stopping by and leave some love!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes and Baby Shower

Okay!  I promise this is my last installment of the cinnamon themed desserts!  Pinky promise. :-)

I knew I could make a cinnamon "roll" flavored cupcake but I wanted to do more than just add cinnamon and a sprinkle of brown sugar so I did a little research and found an easy solution from Darla at Bakingdom!  Thank you Darla!  This was just what I was looking for.  I just altered the cinnamon sugar ratios a bit.

I ended up using a different vanilla cake recipe and then added the cinnamon sugar swirl to them.  So here I have my cups half the batter in the bottom and I made a little well to put about a teaspoon of my cinnamon mixture in.  Then added the other half of my batter and made another well to put a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon mixture into.  Lastly, you take a toothpick and swirl it! I love the one in the middle that looks like a heart! :-)  Bake at 350ºF for 12-15 min and they're done!

Now I had to taste one...of course!  So I topped it with a cream cheese buttercream and you know what? Heaven!!!!  These guys are insane good!

Yeah, that's pure yumminess, right there!

Onto the shower!  So I had my FIL make me an oven to go along with our bun in the oven theme, which, I'll be honest, kind of got lost in our preparation.  But I still think it looked super cute and everyone was impressed!  This was our dessert table.  Cupcakes, cookies, marshmallows, oh my!

Below are my cinnamon swirl cupcakes all dressed up with cute fondant flowers and leaves, cinnamon roll cookies in the front, cinnamon marshmallows (white) to the left and the pink things in the glass jar are almond marshmallows.  To the far right are Little Debbie cinnamon rolls!

 Here's the awesome oven that was made for us and you can't see it but there are yellow an blue flames painted on the burners! :-)  How cute is this!

To the left are store bought cinnamon rolls that we warmed, more cinnamon cookies and pink and orange almond marshmallows!  The dish with "cream" in it is the extra cream cheese buttercream that guests can spread on their cookies or add to their cinnamon rolls.  Um, yeah, we had no complaints there!

...and...a few close ups of some of the desserts.  We all love close ups don't we!

Everyone enjoyed themselves and had a good time, especially since this was a couples shower and that can sometimes be a daunting thing for men.  So I was very pleased with how everything turned out!  Thanks for letting me share!

As blessed, thanks for stopping by and leave some love!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies

I know what you're thinking...Seriously! Cinnamon Roll Cookies!!  Yes!  And they are scrumptious!  So, yesterday I posted about Cinnamon Marshmallows.  Today it's cookies that I will be taking to the baby shower.  I really want to say something funny right now that will make you laugh out loud (lol) and love me more but my brain is on overload and I can't come up with anything witty at the moment so we'll just get to the pictures and retelling of how I made these bites of awesomeness.  Hopefully you'll love me anyway.

I used my go to sugar cookie recipe from LilaLoa who, I might add, is very witty and is always making me laugh. (sigh)  If you've never read her blog you should pop on over and read whatever hilarious stuff she's talking about now.  (whatever) Anyhoo, her recipe is just what I needed for this and I got to work.

Okay, so evidently my brain was not firing on all cylinders earlier either when I took these because I left out the brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  I ashamed.  Not really.  Moving on!

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, mix.  Add the salt and powder, mix. Add vanilla, mix.  Then add the flour and, you guessed it, mix.

Roll out half the dough on parchment in a rectangle, oblong shape thingy.

Spread the butter.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Then roll into a log, wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Now I'm ready to bake and here's my cookie log.

I sliced it into about 1/3" slices.  You can see that yummy swirl filling.

They're all on the pan ready to bake at 375º F for 7-9 min.

Ding!  They are golden and still a bit soft.  They didn't come out as "rounded" as I wanted but I think I might have gotten a different result if I'd've baked them right away.  Either way they came out delicious!

I was extremely pleased with the flavors!  You definitely get the "cinnamon roll" flavor!  I did try drizzling a bit of a sugar glaze on a few just to see how it tasted and I wasn't completely sold.  So, I'm gonna wait and ice them with a bit of the cream cheese icing I'm making for the Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes!  I know they are going to be scrumptious! 

Here's LilaLoa's original recipe and my "cinnamon roll" addition at the bottom.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies (my additions)

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange (or almond) extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 (or 4 1/2 cups) flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, vanilla, and orange extract. Mix well. Add baking powder and salt and mix again.  Add flour 1 cup at a time. Again, IF YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE THESE COOKIES RIGHT AWAY, add 4 1/2 cups flour and go for it. No need to chill the dough. If you are not going to use the dough immediately-- stop at 4 cups of flour. Roll out half the dough on a lightly floured parchment paper covered surface to 3/8 inch thick. Proceed with Cinnamon Roll Addition below if making Cinnamon Roll cookies. or cut dough into desired shapes and bake as directed. Bake at 375 F for 7 minutes. Eat and enjoy. Repeat as necessary.

** I use butter that is only slightly softened. Mostly because I don't have the foresight to get it out until EXACTLY when I need it. This recipe is perfect for that. Get your butter out first and then gather the rest of your ingredients and you should be good to go.

** You can see that this recipe really is only a variation of the End-All Chocolate recipe. The texture is the same. The sharp edges are the same. The mouth-feel of the cookies is the same. They are know, Chocolate-Free. I hope that's okay.

Cinnamon Roll Addition

4 tablespoons of soften butter, divided
1/2 C packed brown sugar, divided
2 tsp cinnamon, divided

Spread half the butter onto rolled out dough, sprinkle with half the brown sugar and half the cinnamon. Roll up dough starting from the long side. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to bake or slice and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet right away and bake at 375º F for 7 minutes. Ice with a cream cheese icing or sugar glaze! Enjoy!

As blessed, thanks for reading, and leave some love!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Homemade Cinnamon Marshmallows

This Saturday I'm providing most of the desserts for my sis-in-law's baby shower and one of the things I am making is Homemade Marshmallows!  Let me tell you...these are absolutely yummy!!!  The shower has a "Bun in the Oven" theme and we're playing off of the cinnamon bun flavors so I added cinnamon to these to tie it into the theme.

The recipe I used I found on Bakerella's blog that she had posted from a recipe book called Marshmallow Madness.  I had tried a marshmallow recipe from my Martha Stewart cookbook years back and those came out just fine but I wanted to try something new.  Yesterday I tried another marshmallow recipe that used egg whites and I thought those looked wonderful from the blog I saw it on but they came out very wet and the powdered sugar got crusty.  Now, I don't know about you but the only thing I like to be crusty is fresh, baked bread.  Anything else and I think it has a negative connotation.  If you know of something else that is good when crusty I'd like to know about it.

Back to marshmallow making!  So when I realized my first batch was (ahem)...crusty, I was determined to try again.  That's when I remembered Bakerella had posted a recipe and I know her stuff turns out delicious!  I decided to give it a try.  The thing that stuck out right away was that this recipe had no eggs!  Just what I was looking for.  The recipe says to spray your pans but I wasn't taking any chances because I know, from experience, what a booger marshmallows can be to get out if not done properly.  So, I decided to use wax paper to line my pans and then grease them down.  Also, the recipe says to use a 9x13 but I knew I wanted mine to be a little thicker so I used an 8x8.  The list of ingredients is SUPER simple!!!

Gelatin, sugar, syrup, salt, vanilla, candy thermometer

 Let the gelatin bloom in cold water.

 Boil your sugar, syrup and some water in a pot with the thermometer.

 Mix more syrup with the gelatin that you've warmed to liquify it.

 Let the sugar reach 240º F.

 Add it to the mixer with the gelatin and syrup.

Mix on medium for 5 min. then medium-high for 5 more.

Mix on high for 2-3 min. for it to come together and add your flavorings.  This is where I added the cinnamon.  You want the bowl to be cool to the touch.  The book doesn't say that but that's what I do and it works for me.

Pour it in your prepared pan.

Make a powder sugar and cornstarch mix.

Generously dust that over the top to cover and let it sit for at least 6 hours.

Flip it out of the pan and peel off the paper if using.  It looked beautiful already!

Now here you can snip with scissors, which I did on the first strip (too jagged for me), or I used a large knife on the rest and that seemed to make cleaner cuts for the look I was going for.

Then, I used my scissors to cut squares out of the strips and tossed them in the powder mix to coat all sides.  I LOVED the way they turned out!

 They even tasted divine with the cinnamon!  If you've never tasted a homemade marshmallow you are seriously in for a treat!  They are incredibly soft, light, and not overly sweet.  They kind of melt in your mouth and you can flavor them so many ways!

I'll definitely be making another batch tomorrow to take to the shower 'cuz these bad boys with go like hotcakes! 

I think I'll make them pink, orange and green!  To match the shower colors.

Here's how I did it adapted from Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Marshmallows
Bloom Stage
4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
Syrup Stage
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
Mallowing Stage
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Classic coating (Sift together 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar and 1 cup cornstarch)
  • Lightly coat an 8x8 inch baking pan with shortening.  Use a paper towel to wipe and coat the surface of the pan evenly.  Line the pan with wax paper and coat again with shortening.
  • Add gelatin to a bowl of cold water. Whisk together and let soften for about 10 minutes.
  • In a 1 1/2 quart saucepan, stir together the sugar, 1/4 of the corn syrup, water and salt over high heat.
  • Boil, stirring occasionally until the temperature reaches 240º F on a candy thermometer. (Make sure the tip does not touch the bottom of the pot)
  • While boiling, pour remaining 1/4 cup of corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave gelatin on high for about 30 seconds. Stir again and pour into the mixer bowl. Set the speed to low and keep it running.
  • When the syrup reaches 240º F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl.
  • Increase speed to medium and beat 5 minutes.
  • Increase speed to medium high and beat 5 more minutes.
  • Increase speed to highest setting and beat 2-3 minutes.
  • Beat in vanilla and cinnamon or other preferred flavoring.
  • Pour into prepared pan, using an offset spatula to quickly smooth it out.
  • Sift classic coating evenly and generously over the top. Let set for at least 6 hours in a cool, dry place.
  • Invert pan on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Gently pull away wax paper that is now on top.  Dust with more classic coating.
  • Cut into squares using a knife or scissors or use a cookie cutter.  Dip sticky/cut edges of marshmallows into the coating and drop several coated mallows in a sieve and shake off any excess.
  • Store in an cool dry place in a pan with the lid slightly ajar to allow air flow. If the mallows resist drying, you can simply dust with more coating for any edges that are damp.
As always, be blessed, thanks for stopping by and leave some love!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Cake

Happy Saturday everybody!   I hope you've had a chance to enjoy your saturday in some way.  There's still time so make it worth while!  One way to do that is to make this delicious Fresh Strawberry Cake that I made today!  It's absolutely delicious and everything you want in a strawberry cake.  It's moist and just sweet enough with real strawberries throughout. (full recipe at bottom)

So, the first thing you'll need are...
2 cups sliced plus 3 Tbsp of strawberry jam to make the puree... 

and 2/3 cup chopped to mix into cake.

Grease or butter your cake pans or line your muffins tins.  I used 2 round 6" cake pans. 

 Whisk together the flour, soda, powder and salt.  Set aside.

 Add 11 tablespoons of butter and 1 1/3 cup of sugar to your mixer and... cream it together!

 Whisk 3 eggs together and slowly add to your mixer.

Now take the strawberries from the stove that have been simmering for about 3-5 minutes and drain the juices into a container to use in the icing later.  Blend the rest and mix 1 1/3 C of the puree to 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt and 1 Tbsp of vanilla.


Now, take your flour mixture and the strawberry mixture and add them alternately to the mixer, beginning and ending with flour.  Stir in the chopped strawberries.

 Pour into your prepared pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 mins.

The icing I decided to use is a new recipe I found on pinterest.  It's a marshmallow cream buttercream.  I slightly altered it based on reviews and my taste.  This recipe only made enough to fill my layers which is fine with me since this cake tastes better with just a touch of buttercream. (full original recipe below)

Mix 7 oz mallow cream in mixer. 
 I added 1 cup butter, 1 tsp vanilla, chopped lemon zest from one lemon, 1 tsp lemon juice and 3 tsp reserved strawberry juices.  Blend on medium-high until light and fluffy.

When my cakes came out of the oven I removed them from the pan and let them cool a bit before I torted them.  However I did not wait long enough when I decided to ice the first layer and so the icing began to soften and liquify the butter.  I was just too impatient but I knew I would have a sloppy mess on my hands if I didn't wait to ice the rest.  So.  I waited.  Poo.

What I ended up with was nothing short of magically delicious but the bottom layer of icing completely melted into the layers of cake surrounding it.  I think that might have made it taste better!

As you can see the bottom layer looks like one thick layer because the icing melted right into the warm cakes!

I can tell you that this was extremely tasty and I was ohh'ing and mm'ing the whole time I was eating my slice!  I hope you get a chance to make this and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Natalia's Fresh Strawberry Cake

2.5 C cake flour
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
11 TBL unslated butter (1 stick + 3 TBL)
1 1/3 C sugar
3 eggs
4 oz greek yogurt 
1 1/3 C strawberry puree* (2 C fresh strawberries + 3 TBL real strawberry jelly)
1 Tbsp vanilla
2/3 C chopped fresh strawberries

1. Line muffin pans
2. Sift flour, baking power, baking soda and salt together and set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar together in your mixer.
4. Wisk the eggs together, then beat in slowly, scraping the bowl down halfway through.
5. Combine sour cream, strawberry puree and vanilla in a small bowl.
6. Add flour and strawberry mixture in alternating batches beginning and ending with the flour. 
7. Stir in fresh strawberries, pour into muffin pans and bake 12-15 min. or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
* Strawberry puree – Take 2 cups of sliced, fresh strawberries. Put in small saucepan over med heat with 3 Tbl real strawberry jelly. Cook for about 5-8 min until softened and juices emerge. Strain out the juice (set aside the juice to use in your frosting if you desire) and puree the strawberries in a blender/food processor until smooth. 

16 ounce(s) Marshmallow Cream
1 1/2 cup(s) Butter, softened
5 teaspoon(s) Fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon(s) Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup(s) Confectioners' Sugar

Beat the marshmallow cream using an electric mixer set on low. Add the butter (in 1-inch pieces) and beat until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and confectioners' sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, and continue to beat on medium-high until smooth and fluffy.

As blessed, thanks for stopping by and leave some love!