Monday, December 31, 2012

Champagne & Strawberries Cupcakes

Well, the cat's out of the bag.. We're expecting! Which means that I don't get to share a bottle of hubs and my favorite champagne:


This stuff isn't even TECHNICALLY champagne, it's cava. Sort of like the Spanish version of champagne. No matter, it's still my favorite. Since I can't drink it this year, I decided that I was going to do a version of champagne and strawberries that I COULD have for my midnight celebration. Cupcakes! I kind of searched around, and there was a pretty awesome Mimosa cupcake recipe over at The Cupcake Project, but I didn't want anything too time/energy consuming since I've had ZERO energy this time around so far. I wracked my brain and decided to go with a mix. What is light and bubbly and sweet like champagne? Angel food cake! YES! Pair that with a delicious strawberry cream cheese frosting, and it's a match made in heaven. 

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
1 box Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake Mix
1 1/4 c champagne (whatever you fancy!)

Frosting:
1oz freeze dried strawberries
1/2 c butter, softened (1 stick)
8oz cream cheese
4-6 c powdered sugar

Directions:

Prepare the cake mix as directed on box, just use the champagne in place of the water! Bake 20-25 minutes for cupcakes (since it doesn't have the times listed for them). Let cool completely. 

For the frosting, pulverize the strawberries. If you're having a hard time finding a package of freeze dried strawberries, check Target. They usually have packages of various freeze dried fruits available. You can TOTALLY do this with any of them! Anyways. Set the strawberries aside after they've been powdered. Cream the butter and cream cheese, add the strawberries back in, mix, and then add powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want. Frost once the cupcakes are cooled! 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Pie 2 (Candied Yam Pie)

Have leftover sweet potatoes after your Thanksgiving dinner that you're looking to be rid of? Look no further! 




Ingredients:

2 cups leftover sweet potatoes, mashed/pureed (CANDIED YAMS FOR THE WIN!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14oz)
1/2 stick melted butter, cooled (4 tbsp)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 prepared pie crusts (frozen or your favorite recipe)
Marshmallows (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Combine all ingredients except crusts and marshmallows in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Divide evenly between the two crusts. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Top the pies immediately with marshmallows, return to the oven on your broil setting, juts until marshmallows are toasted. (optional) 

Cut yourself a large slice.




Then, top with whipped cream. If you're cool enough, that is. 



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cranberry Sauce

Well, it's that time of year. Food, food and more food! Thanksgiving for me though is all about turkey, stuffing and cranberries. My usual cranberry dish is a cranberry orange relish, which is super easy and pretty tasty. It's just cranberries (washed and drained), an orange (cut into small-ish chunks, skin and all), and sugar (to taste). All above goes into the food processor until it gets to where you want it to be. It's all really a matter of taste. This year though, I opted to go another route. I've had cranberry orange relish every year of my life I think. I'm almost a quarter century old, it's time to branch out! 




Ingredients:

1 bag of fresh cranberries, washed and drained
1 medium apple, peeled and chopped**
1 medium pear, peeled and chopped**
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp lemon extract (or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2-3/4 cup white sugar or splenda (to taste)
3/4 cup water

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium to large sauce pan. Start with the 1/2 cup sugar, and if you need more after it's done, stir it in. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are soft and cooked down into a sauce. 

Here comes my note:

**When you're chopping your apple and pear, think ahead. If you want a "rustic" style cranberry sauce (chunky), chop them into smaller pieces. I'd say probably 1/4-1/2" dice. For my sauce, I used an immersion blender once everything was done cooking, so I made a bigger dice (about 1"). 

Another note: When selecting your apples, use a red one! The sweet will offset the tart of the cranberry and reduce the amount of sugar you'll need. Also, try to buy a good looking local breed! I used a Pacific Rose apple. Same goes for pears. Try to buy a sweeter variety, and buy local! It will be fresher, better tasting, and better for your local economy! 

/end preaching

This is what mine looked like when everything was cooked down, just before I took my immersion blender to it:

And just after:

I purposely left some chunks in mine, so that it wouldn't be like a cranberry butter. I wanted a bit of substance to it still. In the future, I think that I'll just dice the apples and pears a bit smaller and leave it as is. I like the chunks! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sweet Potato Pie

I <3 sweet potato and pumpkin pie. I've tried my hand before at pumpkin pie, and it turned out mediocre at best. I figured I'd give it one last shot. I'm just not a pie person, really. I fail pretty much every time I try to make a pie or snickerdoodles. I'm just incapable. This time though? Oh yeah. BIG win! 




Ingredients:

2 cups cooked/peeled red garnet yams
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla 
2 eggs
1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger 
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk 
2 prepared pie crusts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Mash your yams or put them through a food processor until mostly smooth. Mix together with all ingredients except milk (and pie crust, obviously). I used a wooden spoon, in hindsight, I'd use my hand mixer to give it a bit more volume. Next time, my friends. Add the milk, mix well.

Now, place the two pie shells on a baking sheet, and distribute evenly between the two shells. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick/knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it settle for a few minutes before you cut it open. Top with whipped cream. Whip it yourself, use the canned stuff, whatever. Just do it. And sprinkle with cinnamon, or maybe a drizzle of salted caramel. YUM! 



Friday, November 16, 2012

Nutella Cookies

Yes, you read that right. Nutella. Cookies. *SQUEE!* 

That's all the introduction these need. Really! 



Ingredients:

1 cup of nutella
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 egg
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp flour
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375º.

Mix all ingredients except sea salt together in a bowl. Chill for.. well.. I don't know really.. We'll say 30 minutes in the fridge (covered tightly) for arguments sake. Mine lasted about 3 1/2 minutes in the freezer before I decided I was far too impatient for that nonsense. Still fantastically tasty, but if you want to do it "right," chill for 30 minutes. Roll into 1" balls, put onto an ungreased baking sheet. I use parchment paper for easy clean up later. Bake 9-11 minutes then let cool for a couple minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling set up of whatever sort you choose. People who do it "right" insert "cooling rack" here. People like me, insert "wax paper on the countertop" here. People like my sister insert "just kidding, eat it off the baking sheet and burn your face off" here. Please, don't be like my sister, and let them at least cool before stuffing your face. I will not be held liable for burns from these cookies. While they're cooling, sprinkle on the sea salt. YUM. Once you're not burned by them, EAT THEM. NOW. 



Oh, and you're welcome. For your new waistline. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Salted Caramel Brownies

Brownies? Salted Caramel? Oh yeah! I don't really have a "go-to" brownie recipe, so I decided to ask my best friend who is somewhat of a brownie connoisseur/baker. I told her I wanted an easy one, so she gave me her favorite. She called it her cocoa brownie recipe. I call it delicious. 

I'll also apologize for the (even more than usual) horrific pictures. By the time I realized that I still needed to post this, there was one lone chunk of brownie left. I had to hide it so that I could take a couple of pictures of it. Don't judge! Okay, you can, but judge by taste, not presentation on this one. 



Ingredients:

½ C flour
½ C unsweetened cocoa
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ C butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips or semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
1 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

One batch of caramel as directed here.


Directions:


Preheat oven to 350º. Grease/flour a 9" pan (I made a double batch and used a 13"x9" and an 8" round), or line with parchment paper. Or, if you're not on speaking terms with your parchment paper like I am, you can also use foil sprayed with cooking spray. Just don't expect it to turn out quite like it should otherwise. If you're a big fan of the harder edges, foil is your option. 

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl, set aside. 

Melt the butter and chocolate chips in a double boiler. Once smooth, remove from heat and add sugar. Let cool until it is comfortable to stick your finger into (OH NO! Now you need to lick your finger..) and add the eggs, one at a time until smooth. Add vanilla. 

Mix in dry ingredients until just combined, spread in your prepared pan. Drizzle about 1/2 of your caramel over the top and swirl in using a knife or a toothpick. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Immediately drizzle more caramel over the top until you've got as much as you want on there. Come on, you know you want more! If you want the full on OH MY LORD THERE IS SALT IN MY CARAMEL experience, you can also sprinkle some coarse sea salt over top. 



Mmm.. BEHOLD THE CARAMEL! Be forever in awe of its greatness. It's super chocolatey goodness. The next time I make these, I think I'll melt something other than chocolate chips with the butter. Maybe some white chocolate? I think that would be delightful. Or better yet, butterscotch chips, and omit the caramel (maybe.. we'll see.. ). 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

Oh hello, long time no see! I'm sorry for the long absence, friend. I have come back for you. With a great recipe even! I love muffins in the fall. They make the house smell AMAZING, and the by-product of a house warmer/freshener is also mighty tasty! They also make for a mighty fine contribution to the breakfast table at work on a Saturday morning when we're all there working overtime. There's nothing like getting tons of work done in peace and quiet while being able to wear your sweats and eat whatever goodies were contributed that weekend. These are SO much healthier than the donuts or bagels that usually get brought!



Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 - 3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp 
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil (can sub applesauce for an even healthier version!)
1 cup old fashioned oats + 1tbsp


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Combine all ingredients up to sugar in a large bowl. Set aside. Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and oil together in a small bowl (or a glass measuring cup like I did!). Add to dry ingredients, mix until mostly moistened. Add oats and stir until everything is just combined. Don't over mix it! This is not the recipe to get your aggression out on. 

Line a muffin pan with liners, put roughly 1/4 cup of the batter in each cup. Sprinkle with 1tbsp oats + 1tbsp sugar + 1/2tsp cinnamon (mixed together ahead of time of course). Bake for 18-23 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. You may need to try again if you hit a chocolate chip. Just wipe it on a towel. Or get a new one. Or, if you're going to eat that one anyways, lick it and try again. Go ahead, I won't tell. Remove to a cooling rack. Or if you're like me, a dish towel laid out on the counter. Whatever. They won't last long, I promise. 

This recipe makes 15 muffins. Yes, I'm sorry, I know it's an odd number, but that's what happens when you do your own thing with total disregard for the real world and their measurements trying to keep you down. Flour power, man! Okay, I'm done. 


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

I don't know about you, but my FAVORITE season is fall. It's caramel apple cider, sitting by a fire and watching the storms hit season. It's also the season that people start cooking awesome things again because it's finally cooled off enough to do so. The first thing I start seeing is PUMPKIN. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin. It's good in a pie, and a few select other things, but normally, I pass on it. These however.. The pumpkin cuts down on the sweetness of the cake mix, and gives it almost a marshmallow texture! They're definitely not the prettiest things I've ever made but they are definitely one of the tastier. 

This recipe started out as an attempt to make a recipe I've seen floating around on Pinterest.. One box of cake mix + one can of pumpkin = epic muffins. Yeah, that didn't work out so well. So, I  made some adjustments.. Ready for this? 



Ingredients:

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1 can of pumpkin (15oz, NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325º. 

Combine all ingredients until just well mixed. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. You may need to re-try if you hit a chocolate chip. Let them cool in the pan for at least a few minutes, they're like little pillows when you first take them out, so if you don't want to mangle them, you'll need to let them rest. 


See how fluffy they are? Marshmallow-y, chocolate-y, and YUM. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Honey Oat Beer Bread (And roasted veggie pasta!)

I LOVE my bread machine. I love fresh bread, but I've never had the patience to wait for things to rise (and now, I don't quite have the shoulder to knead anymore. Getting old is the pits!), so I never really made anything other than quick breads. My family however, took pity on me last Christmas and bought me a bread machine. We went for several months without buying bread. I think we all gained a few pounds too though.. I've since gone back to buying our daily bread from the grocery store (sorry, but I don't think anything can top $0.88 loaves..), but every once in awhile I break out the machine and make a couple of loaves of GOOD bread. I found some mixes on close-out the other day, and that got me to bring it out. I made one of them, and then decided I needed to make a good from-scratch one too before I put it away again. I've always had an affection for honey wheat bread, an affection for beer bread, and an affection for oat bread. Why not combine them all? The machine I have came with a recipe booklet, so I found a beer bread recipe for the bread machine, and then tweaked it to my liking. Here's the result:



Ingredients:

(2lb loaf recipe)
1/2 cup + 2tbsp water, room temperature
1 cup beer 
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour (bread flour, if you have it, otherwise AP works just fine!)
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Directions:

Place ingredients in machine in the order listed above. Make a small well in the flour for the yeast. Set machine to 2lb white cycle and then.. Leave it alone! Seriously. Watch it during the first mixing cycle to make sure you don't need to add a little more flour or a little more beer (or water, whichever. I added a little extra beer). Once it's done, try to resist and let it cool for at least a few minutes before slicing it up. You'll tear it. Do as I say, not as I do. I tore it. I can't help it. I love fresh bread! 



Oh, and it also goes remarkably well with a plate of roasted veggie pasta:
Roast an assortment of veggies on a sheet tray at 425º with olive oil, salt and pepper until fork tender, dump into 1lb freshly cooked pasta. Add a drizzle of olive oil, dried minced garlic (or fresh if you have it!), a dash of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, and some salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm! And with a slice of fresh bread. YUM! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blackberry Cupcakes

Here in the great Northwest, it's the tail end of blackberry season. Being a baker known for stockpiling goodies to use in her freezer, I have amassed quite a few gallon bags of blackberries in my freezer. The frozen ones from the store are okay, but really, they're SO much better when they're local and you freeze them yourself! No extra preservatives or treatments, and local always tastes better! I've learned recently how to use a boxed mix to make some awesome treats. Why not use blackberries to spice it up? Oh, and some citrus that you've got laying around? 



Ingredients:

CAKE:
1 box of Betty Crocker white cake mix
1 stick of butter, melted
3 eggs (whole eggs)
1 3/4 fresh or frozen blackberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk

FROSTING:
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange (about 1/2 - 1tsp)
1-2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
2-5 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Combine cake mix, butter and eggs. Microwave blackberries for 2 minutes, mash. Add milk to make 1 1/4 cups total blackberry milk mixture. Add to cake mix. Divide between muffin cups. This made 20 for me, though the box says that it should have made 24. Boxes lie. Never trust a box. Just saying. Anyways, bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

While the cupcakes are cooling, whip together the butter, extracts and orange bits for the frosting. Add powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Spread or pipe onto cupcakes once they've cooled. Then? DIG IN! 


I thought I'd try out a rose piping style tonight for these. It turned out pretty well, I'd say, and was a LOT easier than I thought it'd be. Just start from a dollop in the center and work your way out! 

And yes, I realize that the cupcakes look chocolate in these pictures, however, I assure you, they are a deep royal purple and the frosting is a gorgeous off-white on top. GORGEOUS! 


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chocolate High Class Cookies

My High Class Cookies went over pretty well. I went to an event today that I was bringing "snacks" to.. Snacks meaning baked goods that are most likely terrible for you. I told everyone that I was open to requests, and I got a request for chocolate. The first thing that came to mind was the High Class Cookies I had made the other day, and how easy it would be to convert them to a chocolate deliciousness. I made quite a few changes from the original, the most obvious being the chocolate addition, but they turned out DELICIOUS. Because I doubled the other recipe and added an egg, they turned out to be a little less dense, but also a bit chewier. Did I mention that they're also very delicious? Oh, I did. Well, they're delicious. I only managed to snap one picture of these though before they disappeared:





Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla 
3 tsp applesauce
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
4 packets of instant cinnamon spice oatmeal (Can sub 1 cup regular oats and 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon)
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.

Brown butter on the stove top. See the link above to High Class Cookies for more information on this if you don't already know how. Add sugars and combine well. Let cool to almost room temperature. Add remaining wet ingredients and mix. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until just combined. 

Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, or a parchment lined cookie sheet (I have two cookie sheets, and one I have to line and one I don't. You know your bakeware better than anyone else). Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over each cookie, and bake for 9-11 minutes.

So, there you have it. The best of EVERYTHING in a cookie! Delicious, nutty, chocolatey, and the sea salt and cinnamon work together in such a way that it leaves the consumer wondering what you've done to them and how it can be done again! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

High Class Cookies

I don't know a single person who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but even vegans have found a way to make one for themselves. I happen to especially love chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. These put the "class" in "classic." 



Ingredients:

1/2 cup browned butter (1 stick) (See this site if you need instructions)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp applesauce
1/2 cup + 2tbsp flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash nutmeg (scant 1/4 tsp)
Dash cloves (scant 1/4 tsp)
2 packets cinnamon spice instant oatmeal
1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.

Brown butter on the stove (see directions linked above if you have never done this before), let cool a bit once done. Add to a large mixing bowl with sugars and mix well. As long as butter is cooled to close to room temperature, add egg, vanilla and applesauce. Add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet (my measuring spoons are rounded, so I just used that and dropped half-spheres onto the baking sheet). There is no need to flatten the cookies, they'll spread to exactly the right level while baking. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 8-11 minutes. Enjoy one fresh out of the oven and be careful not to burn yourself. Do as I say, not as I do. This blister on the roof of my mouth will heal nicely.. Eventually.. It was SO worth it though. 


Try to resist the urge. I dare you. Let me know how that works out for you. Because it won't. I guarantee it. 



Monday, September 10, 2012

Blackberry Peach Muffins

I love muffins. They're easy to make, portable, (usually) attractive, and tasty! Not to mention they're usually fairly healthy, especially the whole wheat and/or fruit variety. Like these. I love baking with fresh fruit. Seriously. Nothing better. I was contemplating throwing some chocolate chips in these, but why would I ruin some perfectly good fruit? No. I was also going to throw in some oatmeal, but that was forgotten due to.. well.. me. I'm sure that these would be terrific with some rolled oats thrown in. *sigh* Next time, my friends. 




Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/4 cup sugar (Or Splenda)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup finely diced peaches, heaping
1 1/2 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375º.

Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, beat well. Add flours, baking powder, milk and applesauce and combine. Fold in fruit gently. Divide between 15 muffin cups (lined or well-greased). They will be almost full, these won't rise much. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with no batter. 



The result is essentially a peach-blackberry cobbler in a wrapper, except healthier! It's not too sweet (I used Splenda in mine), but the fruit is perfect and juicy still. Oh, did I mention that it's gorgeous? 



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lemon Blackberry Cake

Well, hubby's birthday has come and gone, but I managed to snap a few pictures of the cake I had made for him. I needed to use up some blackberries I had gotten, and he wanted a fruit-filled cake. Have I mentioned lately he's my favorite person? No? Well, he is. And a happy, happy birthday to you, my dear.

Okay. Done with the mush. Ready for cake? DELICIOUS cake?


Ingredients:

Cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1c cup sugar
2 eggs
Zest of 1 large lemon (about 1tbsp)
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)
1 tbsp vanilla (yes, a full TABLESPOON)
1/2 cup milk

Filling:
2 cups fresh blackberries (can also use frozen)
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depending on how good your berries are)
2-3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Frosting:
4oz cream cheese, softened
4tbsp butter, softened
1/2cup filling mixture
2-4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans, set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Add flour mixture in alternating batches with milk, beating until well incorporated after each addition. Divide mixture between the two pans and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature.

For the filling:
In a medium sauce pan, combine blackberries and sugar, bring almost to a boil while stirring often. Add corn starch 1 tbsp at a time, waiting about 2 minutes between each addition, stirring constantly and checking for consistency. When done, it should be about the same consistency as jam. Stir in lemon juice and cinnamon, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. 

For the frosting:
Cream together cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy. Add the cooled filling mixture and blend well. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Keep in a cool place until use.

To assemble:
Level the layer of cake that you will be using for the bottom. To do so, use a serrated knife held horizontally that sits just above the outer edges at both sides of the knife and saw back and forth gently until you get to the other side of the cake with it. Remove the remnants and discard (or if no one is looking, take a piece and dunk it in your filling mixture that is cooling.. YUM!). Using a piping bag, put a ring of frosting around the very outer edge of your bottom layer. Fill the rest of the area in the ring with the filling mixture. Place the second layer on top gently. Top with a large dollop of your frosting and spread it gently to and over the sides of the cake. Frost the sides next. Add details if desired.


Please excuse my frosting job. I ran out of powdered sugar, so it wasn't quite as stiff as I would have liked, and it was rather humid and warm while I was making it. It melted a bit. I had to refrigerate my cake between steps, along with my frosting. That being said, it was absolutely delicious. I also made some into cupcakes to share. I scooped out a bit of the center of the cupcakes once they cooled, filled with the filling mixture (I did not replace the center piece like I do with my Salted Caramel cupcakes since this filling isn't quite as sickeningly sweet) and topped with a beautiful mauve mound of frosting. My sister devoured at least four mini cupcakes the night I made them. They're pretty good. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

OMG SO GOOD Oatmeal Craisin cookies

So, I was browsing the interwebs today for a "small batch" cookie dough. I wanted to make cookies, but didn't want to be overrun by them. Plus I forgot the flour I bought the other day in the trunk of my car and was too lazy to go get it, so I wanted to keep it limited to the flour I had on hand in the house. Necessity and laziness are the mothers of all inventions. Hence, these cookies. I found a recipe that I loosely adapted for these cookies (I'm out of chocolate chips STILL). It wasn't exactly a small batch (this made about 2 1/2 dozen), but definitely yummy! Ready? GO!




Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1 egg
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 packet instant maple brown sugar oatmeal
1 packet instant plain oatmeal

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375º.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add extracts and egg and mix. Add remaining ingredients and stir until just combined. Drop onto cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls, bake 8-11 minutes, or until cookies just BARELY begin to brown. Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk!






Friday, August 10, 2012

Lemon cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate, lemon and salted caramel.. What better compliment to smoked ribs? Yeah, that's what I thought. None. This is all what happens when the "fun committee" at work is comprised of "foodies"! These cupcakes need ZERO introduction really. I mean, just look at them! 



Ingredients:

1 1/2c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 c sugar
2 eggs
Zest of 2 lemons (about 1-2 tbsp)
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2c buttermilk
Yellow food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside. 

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until fluffy after each. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in alternating batches with buttermilk and lemon juice, beating until just combined after each addition. Add yellow food coloring until desired shade is reached (optional). 

Divide batter evenly among mini-muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature before frosting.

Frosting:
Beat 4oz softened cream cheese and 4oz softened butter until well combined and fluffy. Add 1tsp vanilla, zest and juice of 1 lemon, mix well. Add 2-3 cups powdered sugar and 1-2tbsp heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.



Mississippi Mud Cupcakes

Being on the fun committee at work has it's perks. Like, I get to bake and test out new recipes, and the company pays for the ingredients. Could it get any better? I think not. I was tasked with making a variety of mini cupcakes for the BBQ potluck we had recently. I'm a few days late in the posting of it, but I was recovering from the baking hangover I had. We had Salted Caramel cupakes, Lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting, and Mississippi Mud (with a few that the nuts and such were left out of for the chocolate but not nutty lovers). Did I mention the baking hangover? So. Cupcakes. Chocolate. Goodness. They went over well. 



Ingredients: 

1cup butter (2 sticks)
4oz good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4tsp salt
1/2-1cup chopped/crushed walnuts or pecans, divided (optional)
1/2 cup Mallow Bits (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. Place nuts in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until toasted. Set aside.

Heat butter and semi-sweet chocolate together until melted and smooth, either in a double boiler or microwave, stirring often. 

Whisk everything else into chocolate mixture except nuts until well mixed. Fold in mallow bits and all but 2 tbsp of the nuts. Spoon evenly into mini-muffin cups. You can do this in regular muffin cups, but I can't guarantee the result. The mini's turned out perfect. 

Bake for 16-20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting, finish by sprinkling remaining toasted nuts over fresh frosting. I used a chocolate cream cheese frosting for mine (4oz softened cream cheese, 4oz softened butter, 1tsp vanilla, 3/4c cocoa powder, 2-3c powdered sugar, and 1-3tbsp heavy cream). 




Monday, July 23, 2012

Brownies for Two (Or one!)

I'm pretty sure in my last post, I promised not to neglect you all so much. And I'm pretty sure it's been 13 days since I posted last. I guess I lied, sorry. Hopefully, there will be more to come. Summer has just been so busy for us! 


Okay. So, the last couple of times I've made brownies, half of the pan has gone to waste because they weren't eaten before they went stale. Solution? Brownies that are the perfect amount of chocolate for two people (or one if you're pretty hard up!). 






Ingredients: 


1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp mild oil (like vegetable or canola)
3 tbsp water
splash of vanilla extract
Chocolate or hot fudge sauce (optional)


Directions:


Combine dry ingredients in whatever vessel you choose. You can use a mug, a bowl, whatever. I used a 1.25 cup tupperware bowl and it was perfect. Add the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Microwave for 1:30 to 1:40 (depending on your microwave, mine took 1:35). Drizzle chocolate over the top and enjoy!


Okay - so here's the fun part.. VARIATIONS! There are so many ways you could do this!! Substitute white sugar for the brown and add a splash of mint extract for a chocolate mint delight. Add chocolate chips (or butterscotch or peanut butter or whatever kind of chips or chunks you want!) with the dry ingredients. Add a bit of caramel with the wet ingredients for a caramel brownie (which would be a fantastic way to use up some leftover salted caramel from my Salted Caramel Cupcakes!) with a drizzle of it over the top in place of the chocolate. Endless variations! Please feel free to share your variations, I'd love the new ideas!!