Sandwich Cookie Cake

I picked up this cute new pan at Williams-Sonoma last week, and this morning when I was getting ready for a luncheon I decided to try it out.

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It is actually a set of two pans, and it comes with a recipe on the box, but I didn’t have time for melting chocolate and so forth.  So, I decided to just opt for the good old-fashioned Devil’s Food Cake Mix, straight from the box.

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Here, apparently, is the big key:  You have to grease the pans well and sprinkle generously with cocoa powder instead of flour (so you won’t introduce any white to the dark brown color of the cookie cake).

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I used a pastry brush to get Crisco in all the little spots.

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Then dusted with cocoa powder.

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Then poured the cake mix into the pans.  I tapped them a few times on the counter to try to work out any air bubbles (but you’ll see later in the post that I wasn’t as successful as I hoped).

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Then I baked the two cakes according to the directions on the box, for 30 minutes at 350.

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When they were done, I placed them on cooling racks for 15 minutes before inverting the pans to release the cakes.  Gratefully, they came out easily and I didn’t lose any cake, but I did feel like there were lots more air bubbles in the tops of the cakes than I wanted.  Oh well.  I’ll try a different recipe next time.

When the cakes were entirely cooled, I placed one cake, right side down, on a 10 inch round cake circle.  I then spread vanilla ice cream over the cake and placed it in the freezer for 15 minutes to set.  I used about 1/4 gallon of vanilla ice cream, which I mixed by hand with a spoon for a few minutes until it had the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

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Then I put the other half of the “sandwich” on top, and popped it back into the freezer.  After I put the top on, I realized I should have leveled the cake so it would sit better on the ice cream, but that’s what happens when you’re in a hurry and you’re experimenting with something when guests are on the way over to your house!  I then put the cake back in the freezer until it was time to enjoy.

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I’ll work on the presentation next time, but everyone loved the cute idea of having an “oreo cookie” ice cream cake, and it actually tasted really good.  It turned out to be just the right amount of ice cream and chocolate.  This pan set is definitely a keeper!  Think what a simple, great dessert this would be to pull out at a summer party.  My oldest son has already requested it for his birthday cake this summer.

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YUM!

Pictures to Mirrors

Have you ever noticed how expensive large mirrors are?  Last summer when my sister-in-law was here visiting, she asked if I had a full-length mirror in the house.  I didn’t.  A few months ago, a thought struck me when I was – you guessed it – at the thrift store.  I found a large old frame with an ugly old fishing picture in it.  (My apologies to those of you who love these types of pictures.)  I took it home, and of course it ended up in my basement for a while.  Well, recently I pried the painting out of it, painted it blue, and took it to my local glass shop to have them put a mirror in it for me.  And so, for less than $60, I now have a classy long mirror in my guest room/office.

Here is what the picture looks like that recently inhabited an old brown picture frame:

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Here is what the rehabilitated frame looks like now that it’s blue:

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Not too shabby!  Here is the final product:

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I’ll probably end up hanging it on the wall a few inches above the ground, but for now this works!

I then decided to do the same thing with a rather ornate frame I had.  I picked this painting up at an antiques shop for a song, and for a while we hung it over our bed.  Eventually I took it down, and thought about painting the frame.  But it’s a pretty cool frame as it is, even though I don’t usually like gold.

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So here is a step by step example of how to get a big old frame ready for a mirror:

First, if there is a wire across the back of it for hanging, remove the screws and take it off.

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Next, remove the paper that covers the back of the painting.

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This should reveal the nails, or staples that were used originally to hold the painting in.  Using a tool, remove these staples.  I just pried them out using a flathead screwdriver.

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If you’re doing this on the floor like I was, and you have a toddler, you’ll probably have to let them take a turn.

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When all the staples or nails are out, you should be able to lift the picture right out of the frame (if your toddler isn’t dancing on it).  Be sure you get all those old staples safely in the trash!  And pull off any remaining pieces of paper or anything sitting in the edges so your frame is nice and clean, ready for the men at the glass shop to do their stuff!  You should be left with a lovely frame!

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I used to wonder at people who thought old empty frames were art on their own.  But I’ve slowly changed my mind over the past year or two.  I’ve ended up with a few really cool old frames, and I like them for what they are.  I’ve used some to frame things, but I do have a few empty frames around my house, just being themselves.  I like to look at them.  I left this frame as it was, but if you wanted to change yours, now is when you would paint it.  Then load it up and take it to your local glass shop.  They should be able to cut, fit, and insert a mirror into your frame.

The following day, this is what was leaning against my bedroom wall:

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I like it!  And I also like the price tag!  The mirror was less than $50.  I also like the experience of looking around my house and finding new ways to use and appreciate things.  It feels good to create something new from materials you have on hand.

So look around!  Have you got a mirror in your future?

Hang on!

I don’t know about all you other mothers out there, but it’s the middle of May and I feel like I just might die before school is out.   It’s a wonderful time of year, when suddenly the weather is pleasant, but for me it means exhaustion.  (Pregnancy doesn’t help.)  This is the month when every activity my children are in crescendos to a feverish pitch.  The sports teams are in tournaments, the music and performing arts activities must have recitals, the teachers at school must assign end-of-year projects.   There are field days, field trips and end-of-year programs that happen at such a frequent rate that you wonder if you should rent a camper and set up residence in the school parking lot so you can make it to all of them.  The fact that you rarely get even 24 hours notice concerning these activities makes you feel like you should sleep in your clothes so you don’t have one of those mornings and end up at the school in your pajamas!  The preschool has a graduation.  The sports teams have try-outs for next year.  The school needs registration information for next year.  If you don’t sign up for swimming lessons now, you won’t get to sign up at all.  Summer schedules and vacations must be finalized.  Kids can’t fall asleep because it’s still light outside.  I swear that almost our whole year as a family gets decided during May.   As a little girl, I remember thinking that a May day celebration would be so much fun.  As a mother, I wish I had a radio I could use to cry out to the world:  mayday! mayday!  I feel like I’m going down!

My youngest son recently had the chance to take a pony ride.  He was so excited about this moment.  T-shirt, shorts, and cowboy boots were the order of the day.  (I no longer fight my kids about clothes at this age as long as they are clean and appropriate for the season.)  When his turn finally came, the pony he ended up on was a lot bigger than his little legs could get around, so he ended up doing the splits in the saddle.

When the pony started to walk, all bravado ceased and he leaned forward to lay on the pony’s back and hug the saddle for dear life!

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The only trouble was, the longer he rode, the more he started to slide to the right side of the horse.

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Pretty soon, cute as he was, I was thinking “Hang on!” and I started pondering what I would do if he really slid before the ride ended.

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Thankfully, his death grip on the saddle kept him relatively upright until the ride was over.  Then he sat up straight and felt like a champion.

When I was growing up, my parents gave me six months of horseback riding lessons for Christmas one year.  I really loved it.  Most of my lessons went without a hitch,  but there was one night that got a little interesting.  When they brought me my horse, no one realized that they hadn’t tightened the girth on the saddle and I didn’t yet know enough to check or even wonder if everything was ok.  I was pretty light, and got on the horse without budging it.  But a little while later, when it was time to canter, the speed of the horse caused the saddle to slide to the side, and in about 5 seconds I was hanging off the side of the horse with my foot caught in the stirrup.  Gratefully, the horse was mellow enough to slow down, and my instructor quickly got to me before I was under the horse!  The whole thing happened so quickly that I never had time to be frightened.

Right now I feel like I’m hanging off the side of my horse in life, wondering if I can hang on until the end of the month when school gets out and life slows down.  But I realize that although I’m doubting my ability to last until the end of the ride, it will be over quickly and we can regroup.  It doesn’t have to be pretty, but we’ll make it.  And to anyone who knows how I feel, hang on!  You can do it!

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