Recently I was enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon with my daughter and mentally scrolling through the contents of our refrigerator, planning her lunches for the upcoming week, when it occurred to me that I hadn’t made her anything particularly cute for lunch in a while. Since she had just put on her little apron for a session in her play kitchen, I thought she might want to help me with this project– and of course then I knew that it had to feature cats in some way.
Remembering my previous piggy bun project, I thought I might try a variation on it and make “kitty buns.” Since I didn’t have any savory fillings ready I decided to use my currant bun recipe for the dough. All was going well– the dough mixed up just fine, rose nicely– and then it was time shape the kitties.
Like I’ve said before, I love making cute lunches for my daughter to take to school. It’s fun coming up with creative ways to make food look interesting, and one of the easiest things I’ve done is to make rainbow pasta. It’s just pasta, dyed with food coloring.
The great part is, you don’t have to cook it in special water or anything like that– just cook your pasta as usual. While it’s cooking, take a few drops of liquid food coloring or a tiny dab of gel food coloring and put it into a plastic sandwich bag. Put in a tablespoon of water to dilute the pigment. The water really is necessary, or it won’t coat the pasta evenly.
Then, when the pasta is finished cooking and still warm (doesn’t have to be right out of the pot, but you should do it within 5 minutes or so), put it into the bag, seal the bag, and toss it around until the colored water has coated the pasta.
And that’s it. Serve immediately and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for as long as you would regular pasta. If you do multiple colors, it’s best to store them separately so the dye doesn’t rub off onto other pieces of pasta.
Note: I find that red, yellow, green, and blue work best for coloring pasta, though yellow is kind of subtle. Purple/violet does NOT work well. Seriously, it turns the pasta this unappetizing grayish color– no one will want to eat it. So just skip that one.
It’s no secret that I adore cute food, and cute food that’s been miniaturized is automatically cuter than the original. So when I saw these cute-tastic Japanese animal donuts, I immediately tried to think of ways to make them myself, only extra-adorable. That’s where my mini-donut maker came in.
Another one of my kitchen unitaskers, the mini-donut maker churns out ridiculously precious little donuts, 6 at a time, without all that frying. No, the donuts don’t have the classic texture of a fried donut– firm to the initial bite, then giving way to pillowy softness– but they’re perfectly respectable baked donuts, and did I mention they’re cute?
I’ve made these with regular boxed cake mix before, but the soft fluffiness of the cake made the donuts one-dimensional and boring– plus, the relative thinness of the cake batter made the little donut wells more difficult to fill properly. I’ve learned that boxed pound cake mix actually works best for mini donuts– it’s thick enough that it can be easily piped into the donut wells, it rises to just the right height to make a nice rounded donut, and the pound cake flavor is pretty close to a classic old-fashioned donut, which is my favorite. Sure, I could make my own pound cake mix from scratch and use that, but these are so small and will be coated with so much sugary icing that no one is going to notice the flavor of the cake– at least not the difference between homemade and box mix.
Anyway, so I mixed up the cake mix per the box directions, piped it into the heated donut maker, cooked for 3 minutes (2:30 if you want them extra-soft), and pretty soon I had a big batch (about 6 dozen) of tiny donuts. On to the decorating!