Sea Turtle Smash Cake

Today's Monday tutorial is for a cute smash cake perfect for your favorite sea turtle fan. You may have heard me talk about my sea turtle smash cake in previous posts, or may have seen the picture on Facebook or Instagram. This turtle cake was for Christopher, the little boy of a good friend of mine from college.  I was excited that the timing of the party worked out that we were able to go, I hadn't seen her or some of our other friends in almost a year. 

Christopher loves the movie, Turtle Tale, so my friend put together an adorable sea turtle and ocean themed party. She is an extremely artistic and creative person, and the party decor was no exception.  She made a turtle cupcakes and cake and ocean decor, you could tell a lot of love and hard work was put into this party! Here's a pic I took of the food table, so much tasty (and adorable) food! Notice even the cookies fit the color palette of the party! 

No matter how many cakes I make, I always get really nervous when I show them to my friends/family/customers.  Thankfully, they loved the cake - especially Christopher.  He immediately picked up the fondant turtle and started eating its legs off! By the end of the party, it was just a shell with some green underneath.  We had a great time at the party reminiscing and celebrating this special boy!

To start the cake, I first made a turtle several days before the party. Here's the steps I used:
  • Start by dyeing fondant green
  • Roll out to around 1/4 inch (it doesn't have to be perfectly flat)
  • Use a spatula to start cutting out the basic shape of the turtle (head, four legs and tail)
  • Put a little Crisco on your fingers and smooth out the edges of the turtle, you can shape it more with a spatula if needed. (I realized sea turtles front legs usually point back toward the legs, so I bent them back.)
  •  Roll out brown fondant to around 1/8 inch
  • Cut out a circle of the brown fondant the size of the shell (doesn't have to be perfectly round)
  • Draw hexagon/triangle/square shapes on the brown shell using a black edible marker (these don't have to be exact, in fact random shapes appears more natural)
  •  Attach the shell to the turtle using gum glue (pieces of fondant dissolved in water)
  •  Attach two small dots of white fondant on the head for eyes
  • Add black dot to each eye and a mouth with black edible marker 
  • After looking more at the Turtle Tale pictures, I realized it was more of a dark green shell than brown.  I used a paint brush and painted on a small amount of green Wilton food gel.  This not only made it appear more green, but also gave it more of a textured look.  

Creating the turtle is really the bulk of the work for this cake, but here is how I finished it up!
  • Bake and cool a 6 inch cake and place on 8 in cake board
  • Cover the cake with blue buttercream and smooth out
  • Dye fondant an orange-yellow color and roll out to 1/16 inch
  • Cut out star shape using cutter or Exacto knife
  • Place turtle and starfish on using a dab of water, if needed
  • Roll green fondant out to 1/16 inch and cut out child's name and place on front of cake
  • Use any star tip (#16-#22, #32, etc) to create a shell border to represent waves
    • Fill pastry bag with star tip and blue icing
    • Start piping at base of cake and move upward and right in a circular motion
    • Continue piping pattern all around cake

Make sure and check back this week - I'm sharing Derby inspired cupcakes on Wednesday and a delicious savory post on Friday. Next Monday's tutorial post will be about the butterfly cupcakes I mentioned in an earlier post.  Don't forget to follow me Facebook or Twitter for updates on new posts.  I also share my creations on Instagram, usually before sharing on the blog.

Decoupage Tablet Holder for the Kitchen

I'm really excited about today's post, it is something completely different for my blog! For those of you who frequently visit my site, you know I normally post about sweet treat recipes or creative cake decor. But, I've tried to implement a new posting schedule and have allowed for Fridays to kind of be an "anything goes" day. I am posting anything and everything - as long as it somehow ties into blogging or cooking/baking. So today I am bringing you a simple and cute DIY craft.  It's my first craft I've shared on the blog!!

Last week I was over at Chatting over Chocolate and saw the most adorable tablet holder for the kitchen on her "How Pinteresting" post.  I quickly pinned it and decided I had to try to make something similar. The tutorial comes from Mamie Janes' blog, click here to see her tablet holder that inspired me! She found a way to create a tablet holder using a cutting board, Scrabble tile holder, and a building block.  Her tablet holder was based on one she saw on Pottery Barn's website.

I decided I wanted to make something similar that I could use for my iPhone. I actually don't have a tablet yet, but I do use my iPhone to pull up recipes in the kitchen.  I have had a couple almost disasters where I set my phone down on the counter and then realized it was an inch away from a puddle of water!! I've been wanting some sort of stand or something to prop it up on in the kitchen when I'm reading recipes off my phone. I've already started using it and LOVE it. Originally I thought about making a small one just for my iPhone, but I'm glad I made a larger one.  Maybe someday I'll get an iPad...

This craft didn't cost very much at all!  I already had an extra wooden cutting board.  We also had a Scrabble game and since it is just my husband and I playing it, we don't need all four holders. I did not have a building block to glue to the back. I decided to use a frame easel holder instead of gluing a building block to the back. Putting it on the stand makes it more versatile and easier to store. I could even hang it on a nail, since the handle has a hole. I might need a larger easel if I use a heavier tablet, but for now this Dollar Store find works great!

Stand for cutting board

I wanted to add one additional touch to the cutting board. I LOVE making collages and doing decoupage.  I went through a phase when I got my first apartment where I would try to decoupage everything - notebooks, tops to cheap storage containers, wooden laptop stand, remote holder, etc. I haven't done any in a while and decided this would be great for the iPhone holder. I had been looking for a way to display pictures of the treats in my kitchen. How perfect!

So here is how I made my personalized kitchen iPhone/Tablet holder, hope you try to make one too! I'd LOVE to hear about it, or see pics, if you try this out.

Decoupage iPhone/Tablet Holder for the Kitchen materials:
  • 1 wooden cutting board
  • Scissors
  • Printer/paper
  • Modge Podge (or similar decoupage product)
  • Paint brush
  • Glue stick
  • 1 Scrabble tile holder
  • 1 frame easel/stand
  • Wood glue/super glue
Decoupage iPhone/Tablet Holder for the Kitchen instructions:
  • Gather LOTS of pictures/magazine clippings of whatever you would like to cover your board in.  I ended up printing almost three pages of 1/2 in - 1 in size pictures. Since you will be overlapping them and cutting some down, you will need several pages full.
  • Cut out all the pictures. You will want some to be square shaped and have a background, and some to be cut down to the actual shape or the cake or treat.
  • Arrange the collage starting with the square/rectangle shapes as the base
  • Arrange the additional pics
  • Glue all pictures to the cutting board, make sure to get corners stuck well
  • Apply 1-2 coats of Modge Podge over the pictures
  • Allow several hours to dry
  • Using wood glue or super glue, attach the scrabble tile to the bottom of the cutting board (make sure it is high enough that it won't hit the easel/frame holder)
  • Apply pressure for several minutes and then let dry overnight
  • Place on easel/frame holder and enjoy!

Hope you enjoyed this handy and creative project! Next Friday I have instructions on how to make some cute artwork for my craft room. Don't forget to check out my other posts from this week - my Piano Cake tutorial and my Orange Julius copycat recipe.  Also, check out Plucky's Second Thought later today for my second installment of "Sarah Lynn's Sweets' Guide to Baking and Cake Decorating"!

Copycat Orange Julius Recipe

It's Wednesday, which means time for me to share my latest recipe. I baked a lot last weekend, so I decided to go in a different direction for this week's recipe. Since it is slowly starting to get warmer outside, I decided a cool, refreshing (but still sweet) drink would be perfect to share! This drink is great anytime, but especially perfect for a hot day. My husband was definitely ecstatic when I mentioned I was going to try an Orange Julius copy cat recipe.  If you have never had one, they are delicious - a perfect combination or sweet and citrusy! They are sold at some Dairy Queen locations, usually ones in malls. Neither our local mall or Dairy Queen carry these treats, so whenever we are near one, my husband has to get one. I think he'd be content to let me shop all day if he could sit and have this delicious drink! I may have to try that sometime...

This treat is pretty simple to make, you probably have quite a few of the ingredients in your home. I've actually only had an Orange Julius once or twice, so I let my husband decide how close he thought this was to the real thing. His verdict? Spot on! His face said it all when he tried it, he was shocked just how close it really was.  We will definitely be making this again.  It is quick, easy, and pretty cheap!

Here is the spot on recipe for a tasty Orange Julius! I found the recipe on, it should work in any medium or large size blender.  You'll see my blender was pretty full, but I doubled the recipe.  I could only find the concentrated orange juice in 12 oz containers. I either need to use a larger blender next time, or use the original recipe.

Orange Julius Copycat ingredients:
  • 6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 8 ice cubes

Orange Julius Copycat directions:
  • Put frozen orange juice concentrate in blender
  • Add in all other ingredients except ice cubes
  • Blend 1-2 minutes adding one ice cube at a time, blend until creamy and smooth

This made a LOT of Orange Julius when I doubled the recipe, not that I'm complaining! I decided to pour some in a container to refrigerate and some in a container to freeze for later.  I also made Orange Julius popsicles using my popsicle maker I got for just $1.50 at the grocery today!

Thanks for checking out this recipe, hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did! Check back Friday for something a little different, a handy and decorative craft that is kitchen related. 

I'm also excited to announce my rose covered smash cake was featured on Disney's Spoonful website in the creative cake collection.  Check out the 15 featured cakes here.

The Taste of Music

When you think of music, the sense that usually comes to mind would be sound.  But, this weekend my family got a taste of music with a piano cake I made for my sister!  If you are following me on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), you caught a glimpse of my busy weekend.  Not only did I have this piano cake, but I was also delivering my Oscar the Grouch cupcake toppers, had a sea turtle smash cake, and made some butterfly cupcakes for a shower! On top of this, these cakes/cupcakes were all for out of town as we went back to my home state to deliver and make all these.  Thankfully I remembered everything I needed to get these treats done, and none of the fondant pieces broke in transporting!

As you may have read, I have a new posting schedule and since Monday is for cake/fondant tutorials, I'm excited to show you today how I made this piano cake!  I don't have the best pictures for making the cake as we left our camera at home (ok, so I did forget one important thing). As you can imagine, I was also pretty rushed trying to get these cakes done!  I got focused on making the cake and later realized I hadn't taken pictures along the way.  But, I think my explanations will help show what I did at each step. As always, if you have any questions feel free to post it on the comments, or email me.

This piano themed cake is one of my favorite that I have worked on. I thought long and hard about what theme to do for her birthday. I've tried in the past to create unique cakes for the adult members in my family based on their interests and hobbies.  You may remember my math themed cake for my brother-in-law and my UK Wildcats basketball cake for my husband. I decided to go with music for my sister's cake, it has always been an important part of her life. She is an outstanding pianist, minored in music in college, and was a music teacher for a while. 

The cake kind of all revolved around this fondant piano I created. My goal was to make a piano that resembled the black, upright piano they have in their house. From there, I decided to stick to a black/white theme using black letters for "Happy Birthday."  I found an idea online to make the side of the cake look like the keys of a piano, so I decided to finish the cake with that detail.

Here's a quick tutorial on making the fondant piano:

  • Start by shaping a flat rectangle of black fondant (1/4-1/2 in thick)
  • Create a bench shape (long flat piece with pieces coming down on either side) out of black fondant. The long piece should be about half as tall as the rectangle piece.
  • Attach the bench shape to the rectangle using gum glue (pieces of fondant dissolved in a small amount of water)
  • Cut out a long piece of white fondant just under the length of the bench portion of the black fondant
  • Press a spatula lightly into the white fondant making a slight indentation, repeat for the length of the white piece of fondant, making the "keys" of the piano.
  •  Using a black edible marker, draw on the black keys on the piece of white fondant.
  • Attach the keys on the piano using gum glue
  • Once the keyboard is one, you can clean up the shape of the piano by cutting off any excess fondant on the sides/back using a spatula.
  • You can finish off the piano with a couple additional details - sheet music and pedals. 
    • Sheet Music
      • Cut out a thin rectangle of white fondant
      • Fold piece in half making a slight indentation
      • Using a fine tipped edible marker, draw thin lines on and music notes
    • Pedal
      • Use gold or brown colored fondant
      • Create a small rectangle shape and make indentations (with a knife or spatula) to make it appear like it has three pedals
  • Attach additional pieces using gum glue

This piece needs some time to dry, I would at least make it 24 hours in advance.  Here's how I finished the cake the morning of her birthday lunch.

Piano Cake Tutorial:
  • Bake and cool an 8 inch cake (or whatever size you need)
  • Place cake on a 10 inch cake board
  • Cover the cake in white buttercream and smooth
  • Roll out black fondant to around 1/16 inch and cut out "Happy Birthday" with small cutters or Exacto knife
  • Place "Happy Birthday" and piano on cake before buttercream crusts, or with a small dab of water if they won't stick
  • Make identations about every 1/2 in around the side of cake making the edge of the cake appear to be the keys of the piano
  • Create 1/4 in wide strips of black fondant around 2/3 of the height of the cake
  • Place the black strips on the side of the cake (using a dab of water on the back if needed) to resemble the black keys on the piano
  • Create a treble clef and notes out of black fondant, rolling out thin ropes of fondant and shaping them
  • I finished the cake by placing cake board on a cake plate and adding a black/white ribbon around the side of the cake board.  I found it at Michaels and thought it looked like piano keys

Check back the next couple Mondays to see my tutorials for my sea turtle cake and my 3D butterfly cupcake toppers (check Instagram or Facebook to see a sneak peek). Don't forget Mondays are tutorial posts, Wednesdays are recipes, and Fridays are anything/everything baking related! 

Surprise Recipe Swap #1


Today I'm kicking off my first post as a participant in the Surprise Recipe Swap.  I joined the group last month and was excited to receive my secret partner of the month. As a member, I will be given a blog each month to check out and replicate one of their recipes. On an assigned day, we all post and reveal who are secret blog partner is! I'm excited to participate in the group, it is great to find new recipes and learn from other bloggers.

I was assigned the blog, Cindy's Recipes and Writings. I really enjoyed going through her posts and reading her work. She writes about all things food, and there is a wide variety of delicious savory and sweet recipes.  Among the recipe posts are some other weekly features including a Sunday Supper series and a Foodie Friends Friday blog link party.  She also has a series on information about different herbs and spices.  I've learned a great deal reading through some of her posts!  

As I looked through the recipes, I was drawn to (of course) a sweet treat. The treat is called a "Funny Cake" and is a PA Dutch treat. Not being from the area, I had never heard of this dessert. But, it is delicious! It's basically a cake baked in a pie. Yum!

I had fun making the Funny Cake, and of course enjoyed eating it! The chocolate that is baked in with the cake is delicious and easy to make.  You can find her original post here.

Below is the recipe.  When I made it, I halved the amount, as this will make two pies. I also decided to use ready made crust instead of making my own.  

Funny Cake Ingredients (makes 2 pies):
  • 2 ready made pie crusts (see original recipe for crust recipe)
     Chocolate layer -
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
     Cake layer - 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Funny Cake Instructions:
  • Place ready made crusts in pie pans (see original recipe for crust instructions)
  • Create chocolate layer
    • Mix all ingredients until dissolved

  • Create cake layer
    • Mix sugar and shortening together until creamy
    • Add in egg, vanilla, and milk
    • Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl 
    • Add flour mixture and mix until smooth
  • Divide the cake batter between the pie shells by making 3 mounds of batter in each shell (DON'T spread the batter out)
  • Divide the chocolate mixture in half and pour over the batter
  • Bake at 450F for 10 mins
  • Reduce heat to 350F and bake for around 30 more mins or until cake portion tests done (toothpick inserted comes out clean)
  • Cool on wire rack

If you are a food blogger and would like to be a part of the recipe swap, read about it here. You'll find all the information about the group and how to apply.

Check back Monday as I return to my regular posts with a new cake decorating tutorial!  If you'd like a sneak peek of all my cakes this weekend (smash cake for a friend's little boy, cupcakes for a shower, and a cake for my sister's birthday), don't forget to follow me on my social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

My New Series

I'm excited to announce I am now a contributor over at the blog Plucky's Second Thought! If you haven't visited the blog, it is full of a little bit of everything - recipes, crafts, reviews, entertainment news, etc! I've been following the blog for quite a while, and saw her post where she was looking to add some contributors and guest bloggers.  Turns out she was following my blog as well!  I was thrilled when she asked about me working on a series for her blog.

I had been working on a series of posts all about the tips and tricks I've learned in baking a cake decorating, so I put together a "Guide to Baking and Cake Decorating."  For the next few weeks, my series will be posted weekly on Fridays.  Check out today's post, all about tips for baking a delicious and beautiful cake!  Upcoming posts will include baking a great cupcake, icing cakes/cupcakes, fondant tips, tools I use, my favorite brands and products to bake with, etc.  I'm so excited about the series, and I hope you will take away some helpful tips from the posts.

Check back tomorrow as I reveal my recipe and blog I was assigned for the Surprise Recipe Swap group I'm in!

My Twist on a Fruit Pizza

I have a confession to make - I am a little addicted to Food Network. My first introduction was through my husband with the show Chopped.  He was a huge fan, but I'll admit I was skeptical at first.  After a few weeks, though, I was hooked on that show and a slew of other evening programs. Over the past few months, I've also started watching some of the cooking demonstration shows during the day.  I've learned how to cook delicious (and quick) meals with Rachel Ray, saved some money with Melissa d'Arabian, gone to "Flavor Town" with Guy Fieri, spiced things up with Bobby Flay, and drooled over dishes with Paula Deen. Each of the chefs presents such a unique style, and I love to see their personality come through in their cooking, presentation, and even their kitchen. My new favorite show to watch, though, has to be The Pioneer Woman.

On the surface, the Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) and I have nothing in common.  I don't live on a ranch, I don't have four kids (or any yet for that matter), and I don't know too many cowboys.  But, something about her personality makes her seem like an old friend. Her calm, easy composure makes the dishes seem simple and doable.  I'm now a fan of not just her show, but her blog as well! A recent episode I watched was "The Sleepover Six." In the show she made some delicious looking fruit dessert pizzas.  They were sugar cookie dough covered in a cream cheese/marshmallow creme mixture, and then topped with fruit.  I instantly knew I wanted to make that!

I decided to attempt the same concept, but didn't want to replicate it exactly. Don't get me wrong, I was drooling over the mini pizzas. I will definitely be making some soon. When I find a delicious idea online (or TV), though, I want to add at least a small twist of my own.  I don't want to replicate an idea or recipe in its entirety for you readers. So, instead of sugar cookie "pizzas," I decided to create small cookie cups. I really wanted to try her cream cheese mixture (it sounded so good), so I kept that recipe the same.  To make this snack quick (and easy), I went with packaged cookie dough.  I definitely want to try out her cookie recipe, but I went for a quicker approach this time.  As I mentioned in Monday's post, I have two cakes and a cupcake topper order for this weekend. But, now I have yet another cupcake topper order as well, so I am staying pretty busy making fondant pieces.  

All in all, I was happy with the outcome. This snack is perfectly proportioned and scrumptious! I love the combination of the fruit with the creamy, mouth watering topping. The Pioneer Woman did not disappoint! The sugar cookie is a perfect compliment to the fresh fruit. The only change I would make is I needed a tad more cream cheese topping to complete all 24 cups. I wasn't sure how much to use and just estimated.  I generously added the topping, so it may be possible to cover all 24, but I only got 20 finished.  

Here's the recipe for my fruit cookie cup.

Fruit Cookie Cup Ingredients:
  • Package of 24 sugar cookies (or dough to make them)
  • Topping:
    • 4 oz cream cheese (1/2 package)
    • 7 oz Marshmallow Creme (1 small container)
  • Fruit of your choice (kiwi, strawberry, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, etc)
Fruit Cookie Cup Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Coat mini cupcake pan with generous amount of cooking spray
  • Press individual cookies into each hole, press down and smash into even dough layer all around
  • Bake for around 15 mins (each oven may bake differently), check at around 10 mins
  • Let the cookie bowls cool in the cupcake pan on a wired rack (cups that haven't fallen in the middle should fall while cooling, just touch down slightly if it doesn't fall)
  • After completely cooling, pop out using butter spreader or knife
  • Create the Pioneer Woman's cream cheese topping by beating together 4 oz cream cheese and 7 oz marshmallow creme
  • Put the mixture into piping bag with 1M tip
  • Pipe cream cheese mixture into cups, filling and then covering the top
  • It's best to cover these with topping and fruit just before serving.  If you need to prepare them in advance, cover with the topping and then refrigerate.  Get them out about an hour before serving to warm back up, and then finish off with fruit.
  • Cut up fruit for the cups (kiwi, strawberry, banana, raspberry, blueberry, etc)
  • Place fruit on top and serve!

I hope you try out these delicious fruit cups, I'm sure you will love them as much as I did! Don't forget to check back Friday as I introduce my new series that I'm contributing to another blog. Per my new posting schedule, I'm posting on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, but this week I will have a bonus post on Saturday! I'll explain more then, but I've just started participating in a a group where each month I'm given a blog to read and replicate one of their dishes.  It's a secret, so I can't give away anything about the recipe, but it is delicious!  This Saturday is the reveal day, so check back to read all about this sweet dish.

Also, if you'd like a sneak peek of the cakes I'm making this weekend, follow me on my social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram).  Later, I'll be sharing tutorials and posts about these cakes on my Monday series of tutorials and cake design. 

(Note - These opinions are my own.  I am in no way affiliated with or compensated by Food Network or Pioneer Woman.)