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Tuesday
Aug192014

How to Know When An Illustration is Done

 

This is a subject I can get pretty philosophical about: when do you know a piece of art is done? 

 

While ultimately it's a very personal decision, I do have some definite thoughts on some ways to know, and tricks to help figure out where doneness lies in your process. Check out the full post with ideas here.

 

Friday
Aug152014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Baby elephant ears. Delicious babies.

Why didn't I ever have a class trip like this when I was young? 

OMG, you guys. My mom wrote an amazing post for Craftsy about preparing an illustration for publication. She's a famous illustrator in case you didn't know!

This thing. It's what I wish I was eating right now.

Strawberry cream cake: doesn't it look so summery and just...happy?

Cookie stuffed crescent rolls: I am so, so very down with this.

Barbecues are all about sides and desserts. Here's the tasty guide I made to all these things on the side.

This guide to the food of Lisbon includes a lot of valuable info on sweet specialties. Maybe I should go there next?

Stir-fried desserts? Why not?

101 amazing doughnut shops from around the USA.

When is it time to declare an illustration finished? Here's how to know.

Though it's just a picture, I'm linking because it made me so happy to know it existed: Danger Mouse Cake!

Do we still care about bacon in desserts? If so: Chocolate bacon ice cream

Book of the week: Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 ArtistsThis is really a wonderful book for anyone who loves to create--the creative prompts get your mind working in a way that is productive for any type of art, from baking to writing to, of course, drawing. I'll admit this is a slightly self-serving suggestion: I'm one of the contributors who came up with prompts for the book!

Thursday
Aug142014

Marshmallow-Mango Biscuit Sandwiches

Homemade biscuits

I'm not sure if you think about biscuits as much as me. In my life, thoughts about biscuits are about as common as thoughts about what time it is or if I have a new email--that is to say, like, all the freaking time.

But even I had never thought about this particular concoction, although I'm so glad it's now in my life: marshmallow-mango biscuit sandwiches. Like, OMG.

It was a bit of kismet, actually: I was in Puerto Rico working on upcoming Craftsy posts which involved, respectively, homemade biscuits and homemade marshmallow fluff. We also happened to have a beautiful fresh mango in the kitchen--I just kind of looked at all the bounty, and a new classic was born.

Homemade biscuits

Fluffy homemade marshmallow goo adds the perfect amount of "manufactured" sweetness to the natural, mellow sweetness of ripe mango. Sandwiching it between rich, buttery biscuit halves adds just the richness and saltiness it needs to really be a nice and satisfying treat. It's got everything going on: fluffy, buttery, mallow-y, sweet, salty...and of course, with the mango involved, it's officially health food. Score!

Fluff

The biscuits were an adaptation of these three-ingredient buttermilk biscuits, and the marshmallow fluff was an adaptation of this homemade version. I suppose if you wanted to you could use another fruit, but this combo was pretty killer.

As an added bonus, they kind of look like savory breakfast sandwiches from a distance. So they're like a guerilla dessert, and a sweet surprise!

Homemade biscuits Homemade biscuits

Marshmallow-Mango Biscuit Sandwiches

Makes 4

  • 4 heaping spoonfuls of marshmallow fluff (here's a homemade recipe)
  • 2-3 thick slices of fresh mango per biscuit
  • 4 buttermilk biscuits (approx 2-inch diameter), split in two
  • butter and salt

Procedure

  1. Split the biscuits in half. Toast them in a toaster oven or heat them in the microwave until they are warm. 
  2. Butter and salt the halves to taste.
  3. Place a big ol' mound of marshmallow fluff on top of one of the halves; place the mango on top of that. The gooey marshmallow should poke through a bit so that when you put the top half back on top, it should stick.
  4. Eat warm. Enjoy. 

Have you ever tried marshmallow and mango together?

Tuesday
Aug122014

Postcards from Puerto Rico, Volume 2

Hi, sweeties! I thought it was about time to share a bit more about my Puerto Rican getaway with you. Ready?

Well. My mom arrived to hang out for a week in lovely, sunny, beachy Rincon. First thing we did? Went to get frappés, naturally.

In Rincon, you'll see signs for frappés everywhere. On the side of the road, at specific frappé shops, at ice cream vendors. So what's a frappé

Basically, it's like a frappuccino, but with any sort of flavoring, from soursop to cherry; from oreo to horchata; from queso to coconut. We went to Kahuna Frappé, which is in the Plaza Bonet. I chose the pistachio; mom got the pineapple. They topped them, I will guiltily admit, with cool-whip. They were just as amazing as they look: taste-wise, falling somewhere between a milkshake and a smoothie. Creamy and sweet and milky; mashed with ice, but not icy. A real delight. 

Frappes, Kahuna Frappe, Rincon

We also hit up a place called Cowboys, where they have horse rides (alas, not on the day of our visit as it was raining) and savory food. This also happened there, I thought I should tell you.

Puerto Rico

I did some sweet art on another rainy day. Love art

We went to an outdoor flea market and checked out some of the candy. It's very sweet and tends to be coconut-heavy.

Candy

I also realized I must be more famous than I thought, if they have murals of me at ice cream shops in Puerto Rico.

Flea market

On Sunday, we attended the farmer's market, where we got our fill of tasty foods. One vegan baker was selling sweets of all sorts; we picked up a vegan brownie and a ginger-lemonade. The brownie surprised me. It was more cakey, which I typically don't go for, but the lightness worked in this case: it was like eating brownie bread. Brownie bread, I have decided, is a superior type of bread to zucchini. Just in case you've ever wondered.

Vegan brownie

The baker in question was a very cool dudette who had actually gone to FIT; since I went to Pratt, we had a New York connection in common. There are actually a surprising amount of Northeasterners here, for various reasons. Some are surfers; some like the cheaper lifestyle; others come to live off the grid. It makes for great people watching and some interesting conversations. 

Vegan brownie, Puerto Rico

I also picked up a baggie of toasted coconut. I've been hitting this lady up every week--it's so simple but so good. 

Puerto Rico

We went to a fruit vendor and picked up what he called "guava pears" which he had grown on his property. A google search of guava pear resulted only in that guavas are related to pears, so maybe I just had a small guava? It looked different from guava I have seen before but apparently this is a regular kind.  Anyone have any info to offer on this? 

Guava

We went back to Dulcis Vita, which was a fantastic moment because I got more cheesecake. Yay!

Cheesecake

On this visit I also observed that they have amazing tables that can read minds. Whoa!

Cupcakes table

So. Much. Mango.

Mango

A few days into my mom's visit, I was able to "get" another yoga pose that has been eluding me. Seriously: look at this! Thanks to Centro La Paz for keeping me in yoga shape.

Foot behind head

We had a wonderful mofongo (a mashed plantain specialty here) feast at The Red Flamboyen, which has flamboyen trees all around.

Mofongo, Red Flamboyen

On a rainy day, I took a little while to practice drawing flamboyen flowers. They're so strange yet beautiful!

We went out for ice cream at Tip-Top Ice Cream in downtown Rincon, and I got the corn ice cream. If I had to describe it, I'd say it tasted like what creamed corn aspires to be in a dessert world. It was quite addictive, actually--if you ever see corn gelato or ice cream, GET IT.

Corn ice cream, Tip-Top, Rincon, Puerto Rico

I made biscuits. I'll share the recipe really soon.

Homemade biscuits

I got a new bracelet with my name on it.

Bracelet

I also learned how to make marshmallow fluff from marshmallows. I'll share that post on Craftsy in the next few weeks, so lucky you.

Fluff

I also met a new friend.

New friend

We didn't forget to treat ourselves; so yes, another tropical cocktail was maybe consumed.

And of course, I did some more sea glass paintings! Here's one in reverse.

Puerto Rico

Sadly I'm leaving Puerto Rico in a couple of days but I've had such a joyous time.

Happy summer! Love, CakeSpy 

Monday
Aug112014

Cinnamon Roll Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Recently, Pillsbury sent me a roundup of their "State Fair-inspired" recipes. When I opened the email, I almost clicked my heels in delight: therein was a fantastic collection of recipes ranging from churros on a stick to deep-fried candy bars to pizza cones. OMG! 

But this one, I simply HAD to share. Cinnamon roll waffle ice cream sandwiches! I mean, seriously. There's no wrong in that recipe, only right. And lots of right. 

Here's the recipe; for the others mentioned, click on the respective links above. Here are some process shots they sent me, so I don't have to disrupt the flow of the recipe to share them with you.

Cinnamon roll waffle ice cream sandwiches

15 minutes active, 30 minutes total; makes 5

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 can Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Supreme refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (5 rolls)
  • 2 1/2 cups ice cream, any variety, softened slightly
  • Powdered sugar
  • Assorted candy sprinkles, if desired

Procedure

  1. Heat Belgian-style waffle maker. Grease generously with oil. Separate dough into 5 rolls; spoon icing into small resealable food-storage plastic bag, and set aside.
  2. With serrated knife, cut each cinnamon roll in half lengthwise; grease both sides of dough with oil, and place 1 or 2 at a time (depending how many fit without touching) on waffle maker. Close waffle maker.
  3. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until cooked and golden brown. Using wooden kitchen utensil, carefully remove to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cinnamon roll dough, greasing waffle maker and dough each time. Cool waffles completely.
  4. To make sandwiches, with ice cream scoop, add about 1/2 cup ice cream to center of 1 waffle for bottom, and top with another waffle. Cut corner of icing bag, and pipe icing on top of each waffle sandwich; sprinkle with powdered sugar and candy sprinkles. Serve immediately, or place in freezer until ready to serve.
Sunday
Aug102014

How to Fix Common Watercolor Calamities

A guide to fixing watercolor mistakes

If you've ever painted in watercolor, you know that it's a minefield of potential calamity: colors becoming muddy by mixing when you don't want them to, accidentally dropping your brush, so on, so on. These things don't mean you need to toss out the entire painting, though. Here's a guide to how to fix common watercolor mistakes.

Saturday
Aug092014

How to Make Buttercream Even Better

Buttercream. There's no part of it that is wrong. I mean, a word that consists of the two parts "butter" and "cream"...what's not to love? But even as perfect a foodstuff it is, there are some ways to make it even better. I've put together a nice roundup of simple ways to elevate and flavor your buttercream for extremely delicious results. Read the full article here.

Friday
Aug082014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Reading cookbooks as history. Unlock the past, deliciously!

If I ever have kids, I hope they are like these kids who launched a "Candy Unicorn Mini-Mart".

Would you eat an ice cream sundae in a can?

I think it's time to add to my United States of Ice cream compilation. What's your favorite place to get ice cream? Either comment on this post, the post linked to, or send me an email. 

In case you missed it: a dessert you never ever have to share.

Would-be robbers don't get money, but do get some doughnuts.

Ombré ice cream pops. Don't you want one right now?

An interesting little background on the story of one of the most important food volumes there is.

Sausage and apple pie. Dinner, or dessert? Depends on if it's a la mode, I suppose.

I would like someone to throw me this exact Hello Kitty themed party, but for my 33rd birthday instead of my first.

Mistakes happen. However, if your mistakes are in watercolor, I can help you fix them.

You all know how devastated I was to hear of the closing of Angel Food Bakery in Chicago. BUT the story is not over: the owner is now offering classes in how to make her bestselling treats!

Speaking of Angel food, the cake, not the bakery, here's an interesting insight into its history.

Book of the week: Fix It In Foil. This book is all about foods that you can grill (or bake) nestled in foil. Because if you enjoyed my cakes grilled in orange shells, the dessert chapter in this book has awesome ideas along the same lines...s'mores burritos? Banana boats? Apple crisp? Yes, yes, yes. 

Wednesday
Aug062014

Postcards from Puerto Rico, Volume 1

Seaglass paintings

Greetings from sunny Puerto Rico, my sweet readers! I don't know if I have ever told you this, but my parents have a house here, in the lovely beachside town of Rincón. I realize that this might make us seem wealthy or something, but it's really not like that. My dad, who has been a surfer since his teens, scrimped and saved and was able to make this house happen. Isn't that cool?

Casa rosa

While that is inspiring, that is not the point of this post--it's just to explain why I am here. It's a nice and quiet place to spend time, write, and do artwork. 

Puerto Rico

I have been doing a ton of work on my potential memoir (as referenced in this post), and have been really pleased with the result so far. 

But that's not all I've done, so I thought I would share a few snapshots of the tasty times I'm having. Consider it a virtual series of postcards, from me to you!

I mastered a yoga pose I've been trying to get for weeks, just in time for my dad to capture a beach shot. Woot! A huge thanks goes to my teacher Leia Hays for helping me master this one.

 

I did a series of "dessert confession" illustrations with all of my dessert-y quirks. Dessert Confessions Dessert Confessions

And even though per my "confessions" I am often underwhelmed by panaderia offerings, there is a treat in Puerto Rico that is always an exception...we get ours at La Rincoeña...Downtown Rincon, Puerto Rico

The treat I speak of is cupcake-sized macaroons known as "Besitos de coco". They are made by a local wholesaler and are available at many of the bakeries. They're rich as all get-out. I love them.

Macaroon

After my dad left, I decided to bake a cake, a sort of adaptation of basbousa, but made with olive oil for a mediterranean feel. It came out quite well, and I shared some with my neighbors.

Olive Oil Cake

On a rainy afternoon, I did a series of teeny tiny paintings on seaglass. 

Seaglass paintings - puerto rico Seaglass paintings - Puerto RicoSeaglass paintings - Puerto Rico Seaglass paintings - Puerto Rico

While going to the aforementioned panaderia, we had noticed a new bakery in town, called Dulcis Vita. They do more American-style cupcakes and cakes. I went back a few days later, and I got an Oreo cupcake and some chocolate cheesecake.

Cupcake, dulcis vita, puerto rico

Living up to my "dessert confession" I put salt on the cheesecake before devouring. Was it ever good. I was impressed by both the cheesecake and cupcake. Very good, better-than-mom-made type of stuff.

Dulcis vita, Puerto rico

I checked out the art walk downtown, which was very sweet. One of my favorite sights was a truck that pulled up to sell lanterns. It looked like a truck full of rainbows, and it made me smile.

Art walk, Rincon, Puerto Rico

I did a series of "sweets and yoga poses" illustrations, just for fun.

Yoga

And, OK, yes, there was maybe a tropical cocktail involved somewhere in all this.

So, you're getting the idea behind my tasty adventure in pretty Puerto Rico. If you'll excuse me, I need to go to the store to pick up some supplies to make my own besitos de coco...stay tuned for the recipe next week!

Happy summer!

Tuesday
Aug052014

How to Make Ombré Ice Cream Pops

Make your popsicles, well, pop--with a fantastic gradient of color. This lovely specimen is made with layers of vanilla, French vanilla, coffee, and chocolate ice cream, and tastes sort of like the best parts of a mocha frappuccino in lickable form. Here's how to make them.

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