Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nelly and Ellie!

Yesterday was my beloved four-legged friend's birthday.  My little 70 lb Weimaraner puppy, Nelly, turned one!  And of no less importance, my best friend Ellie, turned 25 the day before.  Happy Birthday to both of them :)

I decided to celebrate Nelly's special day by baking her cake, getting her a few presents, and making what I would assume she would want has her birthday meal, were she really a human.  I'm pretty convinced she considers herself a person and therefore demands the rights of one.  For instance, sitting on the couch. If I sit down, she automatically assumes she should be up on the couch with me. Not just laying down on the couch, she'll sit up there, too, and look like she's watching tv.  Same goes with the bed.  While I don't mind snuggling with her some of the time, she takes up a good portion all of the bed when she spreads her long legs out, and lest you forget, she is 70 lbs. of dead weight.  It took me buying her a very expensive orthopedic dog bed (that she has yet to shred, *fingers crossed*), to finally reduce the amount of time she spends on mine.

Nelly was a present to me last May from my boyfriend, Ryan (he's getting big points for good gifts!).  And since then, she has been attached to me at the hip.  She's an amazing running companion (despite the fact that she can pull your arm off if she sees a squirrel) and always entertaining.  If she feels like you've left her alone for too long, haven't fed her soon enough after she wakes up in the morning, thinks you've snapped at her for some unfair reason (chewing up the coffee table??), she will squat back into her hind legs with her front ones completely straightened (kind of looking like she's about to lunge) and semi-bark/growl/howl at you.  I really should get it on tape, because it cracks me up everytime. Really. Everytime.

Alright, now that I'm done with my little "ode to Nelly," I can talk about about what type of cake I made for her.  Most people asked me if I was going to make her a cake made out of dog food. Gross. Refer back to the part where I said "I'm pretty convinced she considers herself a person."  The cake is technically in "honor" of her birthday, I didn't actually give any much to her.  Since I love pink, I assume she likes pink, as well. So I made her a strawberry cake with whipped cream cream cheese icing. Delicious.  I thought ahead for once this week and made a grocery list of everything I would need and checked and double checked it twice.  No more multiple trips to the store.

I found this recipe on Monica's blog from Lick the Bowl Good for an easy strawberry cake and found a recipe for the frosting from here.  The cake was amazingly simple-box white cake mix, frozen strawberries, strawberry jello mix, oil, and eggs.  I was a little worried when it was baking that the allotted time for cooking wouldn't be enough, but I did the "stick a toothpick in the center" trick and it came out clean!  Getting the cakes out of the pan was a different story. I realized I was out of PAM when it came time to get the cake pans ready for the batter. Drats. Didn't even think to check for something as silly as PAM when making my list.  So, I improvised and just used a stick of butter to coat the pan.  I don't think it worked quite as well as PAM does, because the bottom slightly stuck, but it worked well enough and I didn't end up with pieces of cake that I had to glue back together.

The icing was equally as easy.  Make fresh whipped cream (with handy-dandy pink kitchenmaid mixer) then fold in (using setting number one and the paddle attachment) a mixture of cream cheese, regular granulated sugar, and vanilla.  I was a little skeptical of how the granulated sugar would be, whether or not the icing would be grainy, but it wasn't at all.  I read reviews on the icing and some people had said that they substituted powdered sugar, but I just went with the tried and true.

I don't have an icing decorating kit or else I would have tried to do some cute decorations.  This was my attempt at using a ziploc bag with the tip cut off, but didn't work as well as I wanted.  It's okay, Nelly didn't mind.

On another note, this is the meal I made for her birthday. Grilled steak, twice baked potatoes and broccoli. Yum yum. I gave her some scraps of the steak. It was her birthday, after-all.

Besides, I gave her an enormous raw-hide and stuffed pink monkey to chew up and enjoy.  I also tried putting a birthday hat on her, but she wasn't too keen on that idea.

 I'm pretty sure it was her best birthday ever.

I almost forgot! Review of the cake.  It really was quite delicious.  The actual texture of the cake was a little more dense than most, but was perfect with the light and fluffy, not too sweet, whipped cream frosting.  It was nice to have actual pieces of strawberry in the cake and not some dehydrated business.
It does make enough cake to feed an army, however. Will be enjoying this for many days to come.
Happy Birthday, Nelly!

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