March 30, 2013

Butter Pecan Cake

So back in February I made a cake for my hubby's birthday. I got a lot of feedback from friends and family who wanted the recipe. I'm such a bad person because I never got back with them and gave them the recipe. Sorry guys, but here it is, FINALLY!
One of my favorite things to do is bake cakes! I'm not good at decorating them but they taste good and I guess that is all that matters, well at least for the hubby anyways! So this year for my husband's birthday I wanted to make a new cake, a cake I hadn't made before. I couldn't come up with anything. Then it hit idea! When we moved to our new house we inherited all these pecan trees. My husband's new favorite snack is pecans. So that gave me the idea to make a butter pecan cake, something special just for him. How many of you love butter pecan ice cream? It was one of my Mom's favorite flavors of ice cream and that's why the idea popped into my head, memories :)
So anyways off to make a recipe. If you bake a lot of cakes you will began to notice that the main ingredients of cakes are all about the same. It's normally about 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 2-4 eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons of baking powder or soda or 1 teaspoon of each, 1/2-1 teaspoon of salt, and then milk. Milk kinda ranges but I think about 1 cup of milk or buttermilk is probably the most average amount of milk in a cake.
Now to come up with the recipe using those basic ingredients. Here's the recipe I came up with:
1-1/2 cup of butter at room temperature (another 1/2 cup to toast the pecans)
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar (another 1/2 cup to toast the pecans)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2-1/2 cups of pecans
The frosting was a little bit more difficult to come up with because I normally like to go with heavy cream but I decided to use evaporated milk because it's heavier in taste and gives off more of a caramelized/toasted taste and that's what I was going for with the pecans. Plus I wanted to double the size of frosting because I was making 3 layers and evaporated milk goes a lot further than heavy cream.
Here is the recipe I came up with for the frosting, to be honest I'm not sure I enjoyed it with this cake, I might go for more of a cream cheese frosting in the future but it was still yummy :)
Butter Pecan Frosting
1 cup of salted butter, at room temperature
6 cups of confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup of evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
I also made a topping with this cake and here's the topping recipe
1 cup of light corn syrup
1 cup of packed brown syrup
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract ( I always use more than 2 tsp. because I can never get enough vanilla but this is probably the right amount to use)
*Preheat your oven to 350°
* Melt 1/2 cup of butter in your microwave and add 1/2 cup of brown sugar to the melted butter. Then add your pecans. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until they are toasted. Make sure to keep and eye on them and stir often. (If you want you can sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar over the top of them too).
*In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. (FLOUR MIXTURE)
*In a large bowl, cream together your sugars and butter, beat until fluffy and light. Add your eggs one at a time, beating after each of them and then add your vanilla. Next beat in your flour mixture to the cream mixture (about 1 cup at a time) adding a little milk with each addition. Stir in 1-1/4 cup of the toasted pecans.
*Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans.
*Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
*Cool completely before removing them from your pans.
*For the frosting, beat the butter. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar (about 1 cup at a time) until creamed. Add your evaporated milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. ( I kinda guessed at the measurements for the frosting because I eyeballed it. So you may need to add either more evaporated milk or confectioners' sugar). Stir in remaining pecans and spread onto each layer of cake!
*For the topping I placed 1 cup of corn syrup, 1 cup of brown sugar, and the vanilla in a sauce pan and cooked over medium heat. Make sure to stir frequently, until sugar dissolves and comes to a slight boil. Remove from heat.
*I then poured it over the cake but it ruined the cake. The topping was good but it took away the taste of the cake and was really sweet. Next time I make this cake I will still make the topping but have it on the side so you can pour the amount you want onto your own slice of cake.
I had one happy husband and he said it was his favorite cake! I'm glad I could make him happy because he really could careless about birthday gifts... it's the cake he wants. If you have a hubby I'm sure sweets are the way to his heart too! I still think I need to make adjustments to the recipe to make it just perfect, but for now, it is still one yummy cake! Hope you enjoy it!

If you make this cake leave me some feedback on what you think! Sorry for such a long post but I hope the recipe is worth it! I know this recipe is a little confusing so if you have any questions let me know.

For a printable version of  this Butter Pecan Recipe click here. P.S. It is also a more understandable version of this cake :)


March 29, 2013

DIY Decorated Glass Bottles

Today I'm going to talk about a Pinterest Project and DIY Decor. Yay, two in one! As I'm decorating my living room I like to look on pinterest to get some ideas since I'm too lazy to come up with my own ideas. There are so many people out there that come up with such great ideas....and I don't happen to be one of them. Thank goodness for all those oh so talented people in this world, I don't know what I would do without you!
So I first got the idea from this site but I don't think that person made the bottles themselves. I think they got the idea somewhere else. So I can't direct you to that exact link because I didn't see one, but I can't be sure on that. So anyways I thought the idea would be perfect for my fireplace. I really hit a major road block when it came to decorating my fireplace. I knew I didn't want pictures on it because we take family pictures about every 2 years so I have plenty of pictures around our house. So I was defiantly leaning towards decoration especially since my house lacked decoration. So I picked up some supplies on got started on my DIY home decor.
Let's get started:
I started out with this,
Welch's sparkling juice. I had 2 of them from New's a family tradition. We kick back with the kids and have a family friendly New Years Eve party. Anyways I took off what wrapping I could and then soaked it in very hot water for about 20 minutes and was able to remove the rest. I then took a S.O.S pad and scrubbed off the sticky part.
Then I picked up some craft cord from Hobby Lobby.
I wrapped the cord around the bottle (in the design I wanted) and hot glued it every once in while until I got to the bottom. Make sure you pull it tight and make sure you are hot gluing on the same side of the glass bottle each time. Hot glue can get messy (at least for me). So if you are like me you want to be able to hide the imperfections. So make sure you have one side of the decorated glass bottle that you can show off, just hope that no one picks up the bottle to inspect it!
Now my fireplace has a little decoration!
I added some flowers for a nice touch and now I have some decor that adds a great look to my fireplace and I didn't spend much money at all!
This isn't where I placed the decorated glass bottles on my fireplace but because I have more DIY decor I want to share with you I didn't want to give away the final look to my fireplace. So look for more added decor in the near future.

March 23, 2013

Burlap Vases

For my first real blog post, I wanted to share a crafting project. So I decided on something I crafted up for my living room. Just recently we moved to a bigger house. It so happened that I was ready to get new furniture. I decided a long time ago that I would not invest in new furniture until all the kids were in school. Guess what my little one finally left the nest but I still hesitated to get new furniture because I knew that we would be moving at some point this year, for we were in desperate need for more space. Well the timing was perfect when my husband stumbled upon this house. Not only did we need more space but I wanted new furniture (a bonus). In our other house the only decor I could fit into such a small living room area were toys.

 I couldn't decide if I wanted a modern look or something else. I decided that the modern look wasn't for me. I feel having the modern look don't really allow you to add your own personal touches. I decided to go with a more country feel since I had grown up in the country.
 Now that I babbled on I will share with you the vases I made for my living room. I will try to explain as much as I can. I didn't plan on having a blog so I didn't note it step by step. So I will explain as best as I can.

 I bought these cheap vases at one of the dollars stores (I'm not sure which one). They were cheap and looked cheap and really needed some personal touches. Plus they didn't have the color scheme I wanted.

Now this is where explaining a step by step process is going to be a little difficult because I can't show you step by step instructions or show you the materials I used. But I will try to the best of my knowledge, so bare with me.
The wrap around is called burlap wired edge ribbon that I found at Hobby Lobby. It doesn't come cheap but it was reasonable when I got it for 50% off. I found it in a tan and brown, just the color scheme I was going for (it matched my furniture).
Now that I had found what I was going to cover the vase with I needed some trim. I didn't have a plan on what I was going to use until I stumbled across this trim in the fabric section of Hobby Lobby. I  also picked it up for 50% off (as you can see in the picture there are 2 different trims). It had the other colors I was going for, a light blue color, a darker green color, and a red color. I knew it would be perfect!
So I got home turned on my hot glue gun and started wrapping with the burlap. I then wrapped the top and bottom of the vase with the decor cord. Some little flowers in the front of the vase for some added touches and a floral arrangement to fill it.

I now have my own unique vases that add a nice touch to what used to be an empty decorated fireplace. I know the pictures are horrible but what do you think, does it add the right flavor to a fire place?

Welcome to Successful Secrets!

Welcome to Successful Secrets. On here I'm going to share with you my everyday secrets to living. I guess I can't really call them secrets because it's pretty much everyday life. Cooking, cleaning, being a wife and mother, hobbies and so forth. I'm also hoping to hear about things from different perspectives too. It's always nice to learn new things especially now days. I don't know about you but for me, any advice that could make everyday living a little easier is a big plus in my book! And that is why I decided to share my Successful Secrets with you. I can't wait to get started!
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