Tag Archives: cooking

How to Make a Surprise-Inside Cake

Say Goodbye to Ordinary Cakes.

Gone are the days of cakes with only cake inside.

It turns out, you can put nearly anything into a cake…even a SHARK…and it’s easy to do!

We take SHARK WEEK pretty seriously around here.  We are equally enthusiastic about dessert.  This post is dedicated to sharks everywhere…and desserts…although mainly sharks…and desserts.Shark Week Cake

Lately, I’ve been seeing all these amazing “reveal” cakes.  It started in July with a cake that had a flag baked inside.  I mean, wow.  It didn’t stop there, either.  I saw checker board cakes, piñata cakes, cakes with names baked inside for crying out loud!  HOW DO THEY DO THAT?  All I could think was there must be some sort of special, top-secret cake mold circulating out there amongst the most privileged and talented bakers.  That prompted me to begin my quest to learn the art of baking a cake with something surprising inside and I’m not talking about eggshells! 

I did my research (a.k.a. Pinterest) and have been  anxiously waiting for just the right occasion to try my hand at this magical art of cakeology.  It was imperative that I try this.  I needed one magnificent day of celebration to debut my un-tested theory of how to accomplish such a feat.  Instead of one day, I was gifted with an entire week.  A holiday that I nearly overlooked until it snuck up on me like a stealthy great white stalking it’s prey.  SHARK WEEK.  Eureka!

I set out on a search to find a shark-shaped cookie cutter, I picked up some brightly colored cake mix and blue frosting and I started out on my quest.  The result?  Borderline Fabulous.

My next obstacle quickly presented itself.  Do I keep this mysterious cake phenomenon discovery to myself or share it with the world?  My friends, this information is too valuable not to share.  This will change the way you look at cakes…forever.

(I used Pillsbury “Funfetti” cake mixes and Frosting.  The colors are really vibrant and they come in smaller “cupcake” size packets.  They ended up tasting really good for a mix and had the consistency of a sponge cake.)

I mixed up the purple cake batter and baked in a square pan, slightly larger than the pan size recommended because I wanted a nice, large cake that I could easily cut the shark shape out using my cookie cutter. Bake according to package directions (or just a few minutes less than the recommended time since this cake will be baked again once inside the blue cake).  Cool for 5-10 minutes on a wire rack in the cake pan.  Invert directly onto a cooling rack and refrigerate for a few hours.Shark Week Cake

If you have a rounded top, level your cake by using a serrated knife and lift off, leaving a pretty uniform cake layer.  Using your cookie cutter, cut out as many shapes as you can fit from this cake.Shark Week Cake


Prepare your next cake pan and mix up the batter for the cake that will be on the “outside”.

Shark Week Cake

Pour just enough of the “outside batter” on the bottom of the prepared pan to cover it.  Line up your cut-outs and position them tightly touching each other in your pan.Shark Week Cake

Carefully, pour your “outside batter” around the cut-outs and spread evenly over the top.Shark Week

Bake according to package directions.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from pan and finish cooling completely on a wire rack before decorating.

Shark Week CakeI felt like a little kid with a secret as I decorated this cake with my kids today.  They had no idea that this was no ordinary cake.  I giggled all throughout dinner (tuna casserole, again a nod to shark week).  I was so nervous as I made my first cut into the cake.  I had been imaging the shrieks of shock and amazement I would hear from my family all evening.  Would there really be a purple shark inside?  Was that even possible?  I’m no cake wizard, but, by golly, as that first piece of cake was cut away, there, swimming in a sea of blue cake and frosting was the most feared predator in the sea.Shark Week Cake

Cheers and cries of pure joy filled my kitchen.  Once I stopped making all that racket, I could hear that my kids were equally excited.  Success.




Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal in the Crock Pot

Have the butler fetch you the morning paper and a hot cup of coffee.  Breakfast is waiting for you.  No butler?  With this apple cinnamon oatmeal cooking in your crock pot, you won’t notice he’s missing. (Of course, you’ll have to make your own coffee.)

Let me set the scene for you:  It’s early morning.  You wake to the sound of birds chirping outside your window and the smell of hot, fresh, apple pie.  You have a smile on your face before you even open your eyes.  It’s going to be a good day.  Ahhhhh.

apple cinnamon oatmealThis is apple cinnamon oatmeal is so simple and so good.  I just made it.  Seriously.  I literally just went into my kitchen and emerged 5 minutes later knowing that breakfast will be ready when the kids wake up in the morning.  It’s oatmeal that tastes suspiciously like apple pie.  It’s pure genius.  Break out your crock pots, it’s breakfast making time.



  • 2 apples
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats (or steel-cut, if you’re fancy like that)
  • 4 cups water

*optional add-in’s: raisins, walnuts, vanilla protein powder


  1. Core and cut the apples into bite-sized chunks and put into the bottom of your crock pot.
  2. Top with brown sugar and cinnamon, distributing evenly on top of the apples.
  3. Add the oats.
  4. Pour in the water.  Do NOT stir.
  5. Cook on low overnight.



Oreo Cake

oreo cakeThis Oreo Cake is da-bomb.  Okay, well I’m not really cool enough to use the phrase “da-bomb” but you get my drift.  It’s sweet, it’s creamy, it’s chocolaty and it’s a snap to make.  It’s been requested by all of my kids for their birthdays and I recently made it for my mother-in-laws birthday.  It’s good.  It has over 700 reviews and a 5 star rating on Kraft’s website.  700 people can’t be wrong.  If you’re my personal trainer, please avert your eyes. oreo cake


  • 1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil’s food cake mix
  • 4 oz. Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups thawed whipped topping
  • 12 Oreo cookies, crushed


Heat oven to 350 F

1.  Follow package directions on cake mix in 2 (9 inch) round pans.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Invert onto wire racks and cool completely.

2.  Microwave chocolate and butter until butter is melted.  Stir until chocolate melts and set aside to cool slightly – about 5 minutes at room temperature.

3.  In a mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until well blended.  Stir in the whipped topping and then gently fold in the crushed cookies.

Putting it all together (the FUN part):

Start with one cake layer on your cake platter (or plate).  Evenly spread cream cheese mixture and top with remaining cake layer.

Pour the cooled chocolate/butter glaze on top, being careful to not let it drip down the sides.  This layer will cool into a nice hard chocolate top.  You can add more cookies on top to decorate but you must do it before it hardens completely.

Keep refrigerated.

Recipe from:  Kraft Recipes



One Pan Ziti


This is an incredibly tasty pasta dish that makes clean-up a breeze because it’s all cooked in one pan.   It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s kid friendly and it’s delicious!


  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust according to personal taste of course, but even my little guys loved this)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 12 oz Ziti pasta
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves finely chopped (optional)

To Make:

  • Brown sausage in a large skillet. (I used my Rachel Ray 3-quart, covered sauté  pan and it was exactly the right size!)  Add the minced garlic, red pepper flakes and cook, for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Add in the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in the uncooked Ziti pasta along with the water.  Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low and simmer until the pasta is cooked through, approximately 12- 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.  Stir in the Parmesan and heavy cream.  Sprinkle with Pile on the mozzarella.  I zapped mine under the broiler for just a few minutes until the cheese was brown and bubbly, but if you don’t want to mess with the broiler, you can just stick the lid back on the pan for a few minutes.
  • Garnish with basil, if desired.



You can serve this with a green salad on the side or some delicious crusty Italian bread.  Even alone, it’s sure to be a success!

Buon appetite!”