Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where have I been? And what have I been doing while being there?

I really can't say where this last week and half has gone - I think it may be even longer since I blogged about any recent foodie like subject. So where have I been exactly? At home. I think. Running errands. Chasing my adorable child around. Getting hugs and wet kisses from aformentioned child. Cooking. Baking. But really, I don't know what I have been doing latley. So, I will try to list my culinary belt notches of late.

Giada De Laurentiis (who is an italian cooking goddess if you ask me) Linguine with Turkey Meatballs and Quick Sauce. This was seriously good. I think I might even make some right now, at 8:41PM as my eyes struggle to maintain an upright position. That sounds weird.

Hmmm... what else? Tonight I made Whipped Shortbread. I will share that recipe soon - I just don't want to get up and dig around for it right now. The plan was to make a HUGE batch to freeze for Christmas. I ended up using most of my butter last night for Mac N Cheese Gnocchi night, so I had only 3/4 of a cup left. I scaled my recipe, ate too much of the dough, as did my dear husband, and ended up with 23 cookies. And they are super small. And really cute. My plan is to drizzle them with melted mint chocolate. Tomorrow. Maybe. If I don't eat them all first. They actually just melt in your mouth - these would be the perfect food if you had no teeth. That being said, they are also the perfect food for when you DO have teeth, so whether you don't or you do, you will enjoy these cookies!

I enjoyed some Halloween Bark that my sister in law whipped up from Annie's Eats. So DELISH! I guess it doesn't really count because I didn't make it myself, but I do consider eating the entire amount she gave to us an actual notch in my culinary belt.

Oh yes, and how could I forget! I also stumbled upon a Chocolate Cupcake recipe from Georgetown Cupcake (also known as DC Cupcakes on TLC). They were amazing! Moist and... well, really moist. I made them on Sunday and they are still scrumptious. Due to the nature of my business, I unfortunatley am not at the emotional place where I can share above mentioned recipe... but maybe down the road :)

I will, however, post the pasta recipe and the shortbread for all who wish to partake. I might even put the link for Annie's Halloween Bark, if I get around to it!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes!

One word: YUM!
I seriously ate about 6 of these minis before I had even frosted them with a vanilla buttercream! Generally, I don't even like chocolate cake. These were good. Really good! I made them for a dinner party that I am going to tonight to welcome a friend into her new home; she is cooking us a meal and I will provide the treats, because I love treats. And I find that my cooking savvy is lessening (from the already poor state that it was in) because of my love for treats. I would be one happy gal if I could eat sweet treats for dinner. That being said, I do need to get my greens from something. Maybe chocolate zucchini cake? Mmmmmm...

These cupcakes were so easy to make though, they were actually easier than making a regular vanilla butter cupcake. That may be due to the fact that my treat loving sis in law passed on a great tip that she read about somewhere. If you have to sift your flour and hate sifting (as I do), just pop it into a large ziploc bag and have a good shake. This works really well if you like to dance, or are trying to entertain a toddler - which at the time I was attempting to do. She found it pretty funny, and it got the job done, which is all I could have asked for!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes... that are maroon-ish

Yesterday I set about making Annie's Eats version of Red Velvet Cupcakes. I followed the recipe to a T and they came out perfect! My first taste test was not so satisfying though. You see, I don't often make cupcakes with oil and no butter. (If you haven't already realized, I do love my butter!) So all my picky palette could taste was oil. I frosted them anyways, because there is no point in letting them go to waste, and I am SO happy that I did not chuck them like I originally wanted to! I haven't had huge success with Annie's cupcake recipes, I find them all relativley dry and the cake flavorless - sorry Annie!

So the saving grace of these cupcakes was the fridge. Normally I would not recommend refrigerating cupcakes because it sucks any moisture right out - so if you can, and your cupcakes don't contain anything that may go bad by not being in the fridge, I would pop them into an airtight container and leave them on the counter. All that being said, I do refrigerate my cupcakes that have cream cheese frosting, or ones that are made with oil, because they taste SO MUCH better! You actually cannot taste the oil at all when you refrigerate these bad boys! I will alter the recipe next time I make it and probably add half oil and half sour cream. I know, I know, it sounds super weird, but I think you should trust me on this. I have never personally tried it, but so many people swear on their favorite cookbooks that adding sour cream to chocolate cake gives it this wow factor that you wouldn't believe. (They say the same about Mayo, but I like mayo in my egg salad, or on my sandwich - thank you very much!)

So without further ado, here is Annie's recipe (Mine were maroon because I had to make my own red dye because I didn't have any!)

Red Velvet Cupcakes (Yield: about 24 cupcakes)

For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

It is also your lucky day, because I am going to share with you my personal cream cheese frosting recipe, which is quite a stretch for me :)

BEST EVER Cream Cheese Frosting
(as far I as know, I actually made this recipe up! WOOWOO!)

1/2 cup butter (DON'T USE MARGERINE, and if you do, please don't ever tell me!)
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Directions: Ensure that both the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature. Whip together in mixer, until well blended on med-high speed, about 2 minutes. Add icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and beat for 30 seconds after each addidion, or until incorporated. (I wouldn't recommend putting all the icing sugar in for speed sake - the reason you put it in 1/2 cup at a time, is basically so it doesn't end up in a big white puff all over your kitchen!). Add vanilla and whip the icing for several minutes until super smooth and fluffy. If you are questioning whether you should whip it some more, after looking at it, you probably should!

(Whew... I just totally made those directions up by trying to remember what I do when I make the frosting!)

All this Red Velvet Cupcake talk has made me hungry... off to the fridge for a cupcake!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bethenny Frankel and her not so Skinnygirl Dish

I totally forgot to share this with you, all of my 4 readers! :)

Last week I made 1-2-3 Cookies from Bethenny Frankel's Skinnygirl Dish recipe book... you may know her from Real Housewives of New York - she's the girl we all love to hate. Anywho, I don't recommend the book - Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag (who I love and adore, and even have a signed copy of one of Giada DeLaurentis' cookbooks - not by Giada but by A&K) gave it like a trillion thumbs down, BUT they did say that these cookies were pretty good.

So, I embarked on making them last week. And here is the recipe, should you feel so inclined when you have about 2 minutes to spare.

1 part Sugar
to 2 parts Fat
to 3 parts Flour

Add whatever else you like, whether it be nuts, chocolate chips, M&M's, Sprinkles... the list goes on. As an ode to traditional baking, I of course added chocolate chips, and you know what? They weren't half bad. Super easy and they tasted pretty much exactly like Dad's Cookies that you buy in the store - you know, the ones in the yellow bag. I have no idea how the girl stays skinny if she makes these all the time though, with all that butter, but to each his own!

Today I am making Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I realized during making them that I had no red food coloring, so I made my own. The cupcakes are cooling and look more like Maroon Velvet Cupcakes... but the batter was pretty darn good, I must say! I will post that whole episode with pictures soon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I must apologize...

for this hiatus that lasted a few days longer than I thought it would! It has been a crazy busy week, with a brand new baby born in our lovely family and so, I am using him as my excuse... because, yes, he is THAT cute.

That being said, I just posted on CupcakeCraze's facebook page that the most exciting thing I had concocted in the kitchen this week was bottle after bottle after bottle for my lovely little girl. But I have been reminded by my lovely aunt that I DID actually make something this week. YAY! SO simple. Lemon tarts. I would tell you all about them, but the pastry was bought from the store, already in the tart cup, and lemon meringue that came from a box. Nothing exciting. Please don't be dissapointed. I think my homemade caramel should still buy me some time! Next week I should be back at it!

And in light of the fact that Christmas is coming very quickly... it is already November after next weekend! So I have created a list of baking to dos in November, so that I am not baking up a storm in December! The idea is one batch per week to freeze and pull out during the wonderful Christmas season! (I bought my first Christmas gift today, too!)

Week 1: Shortbread - White chocolate and cranberry and Mint Chocolate YUM!
Week 2: Gingerbread (I LOVE LOVE LOVE gingerbread... nothing like curling up by the fire, with the tree lights twinkling and reading a good book with a gingerbread cookie that has been dipped into a hot cup of tea!)
Week 3: Chocolate fudge topped with crushed candy cane
Week 4: Glazed sugar cookies in Christmas festivity figures!

As usual, I will chronicle all my baking adventures in November, when the time comes! Until then, I will figure out what I want to try next week!

Also, I have no idea if anyone reads this blog, besides of course, my lovely sister in law, but if you do read and you do enjoy, could you comment on this post, so that I know that I am not writing for just me? I would be forever greatful! And if there is something that you would like to see me try, before you do, I am ALWAYS open to recipes and suggestions!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Caramel Sauce

The pot on the left is an example of what you DON'T want to do to your caramel sauce!

(Yes, I realize that these pics are in the wrong order... one way that blogger is NOT user friendly!)
Yes, I was feeling rather adventerous. I have never made homemade caramel sauce, and usually whenever I have tried to concoct anything that requires the boiling and burning of sugar water, it doesn't end very pretty. This, however, has a happy ending!

I tried a new cupcake recipe that called for canola oil rather than butter. I will take a pass on this recipe from now on! It was listed as one of the winners in a Washington Post cupcake contest. I am not really sure who was tasting these cupcakes because it was pretty horrible compared to the recipe I traditionally use which contains a heapload of butter. YUM!

So, first things first was to make this new recipe. I somehow, in the process of using the oven timer, actually turned the oven off, so couldn't figure out why after 18 minutes in an oven at 350 these cupcakes were still batter. So I had a Homer Simpson moment. DOH! They turned out quite pretty and were the perfect size and shape. They just tasted a bit like moist cardboard. Made the buttercream icing, which is always wonderful and then it was onto the caramel sauce. I was totally intimidated. I had just enough ingredients to try it twice if the first attempt failed. My forethought saved me this time because I totally burnt the sugar water to an almost blackened mess and my whole house just reeked of the stuff. I am convined that there isn't a lot that smells worse than burnt sugar. It almost stings your eyes it is so strong! Anywho, after reviewing the recipe again I realized that it called to take the sugar water off the heat source RIGHT as it started to smoke... not like 10 seconds later. And it worked! It was lovely and a little salty to balance out the sugar and just this perfect consistancy and this beautiful amber color. Oh, I could go on and on about this caramel. So I used it to make Vanilla Caramel cupcakes. Despite the bad cupcake recipe, I think it still tastes quite delectable and have to admit that I am somewhat of a snob now when it comes to cake recipes, so it probably wasn't as bad as I am making it out to be!
Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe!

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt (if you use salted butter, DO NOT add the salt in - it will be overpowering)

Place sugar in a small heavy sauce pan. Pour water evenly over the top. Turn stove top to medium-high heat. Hold sauce pan by the handle and swirl occasionally until sugar has dissolved. (Avoid letting sugar burn until completely dissolved - Joy of Cooking lady really needs you to listen to this rule!)

Cover pan, turn heat to high, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove lid and continue to boil until syrup turns brown around the edges of the pan. Again grab the handle and swirl syrup occasionally until it turns a deep amber and begins to smoke. (Take it off the burner right when you see the first rise of smoke - HURRY!) Remove pan from heat. Add butter. Gently whisk, until all butter is mixed in. Stir in cream. If sauce become lumpy, set pan over low heat and stir until smooth then turn off heat again. Stir in vanilla and salt.

And don't forget, if you want to lick some out of the pan or off the spoon - it is going to be WAY hotter than you expect... sugar water is NOT like water water and cools VERY slowly!
I think I might go dip my finger in the pot of caramel in the fridge! (You can store it for a little bit in an airtight container.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mmmm Chocolate Frosting!

So tonight I decided to make my disaster of a kitchen even more of a wreck! BUT, I think it may have been worth it!

Tried out Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting from http://annies-eats.com/ and it turned out quite scrumptious! The Chocolate Frosting is pretty lip smacking good - too bad I ate too much for dinner and could only eat a little slice, but it will still be here tomorrow!

If you want to try it out for yourself, just check out this link below:


I am finding latley though, that no matter how the recipes vary, most cakes do actually taste the same and have the same type of crumb, UNLESS you sift the flour. Which is super time consuming, so I have been trying out different recipes in hopes that I will find one that has that lovely thick, moist crumb and doesn't need to be sifted. I don't think I am going to find it, and kind of have to resign myself to the fact that I just need to sift. But it is worth it - the difference between a cake that has sifted flour in it, vs. unsifted is amazingly wonderful!

That being said, there was nothing wrong with this cake - it tastes kind of like a vanilla one that you would buy in a box, but the frosting is pretty yummy! The only thing I would change is the amount of cocoa powder/water ratio. I put in the full amount and found it kind of bitter - so unless you like that taste, I would recommend maybe putting in half. It is light and fluffy and finger-licking good!

Happy finger licking!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My 1st Cupcake Demo...

So this has been a few weeks in the making, and makes for an interesting story. This morning I taught 18 ladies how to decorate cupcakes and they all did fabulously! Funny thing, I found it so hard to explain how to actually frost a cupcake that I kind of just said, "have atter..." after showing them once! They all did pretty well considering my actual lack of "teaching" skills!

A few weeks ago I was asked to do this demo for our churche's moms group. Easy peasy, I thought! Not so... This past week I made the cupcakes and froze them because I did NOT want to be making 150 cupcakes on Thanksgiving Monday! Can you even imagine? No thank you! So I made them and the first two batches did not turn out! (If I learned one thing from today it's that for demo's I should stick to a store bought mix... no one will know the difference anyway!). Anywho, they pulled away from their wrappers and shrank and did all sorts of strange stuff that brought a tear to my eye. (Not in a good way!) Anyways, after my child tried to dive into the hot oven several times during the baking process I finally lost it and declared my rage on Facebook. Which I never do. Well, rarely do. You know it's bad when... !

Anywho, after several trips to Michaels, and a jaunt accross the bridge to Langley with my poor one year old in tow (I treated her to a cupcake at Frosting's Cupcakery http://frostingcupcakery.ca/ to make up for it!) I was finally done purchasing all our supplies! NOT SO! On Thanksgiving I had to run out and buy a few more tips because I had counted wrong and had completely forgotten to buy stuff to actually decorate the cupcakes with after frosting them. Oy vey!

BUT, all that being said, and after almost killing "Mike" (my sister in laws lovely Kitchenaid mixer) today with all the frosting that he had to whip, I think it worked out. People seemed to appreciate the little tips of advice for decorating both their cakes and cupcakes, or else they were just being really, really nice, after a horrible teaching job from me! I also realized that when I got home I had done totally wrong proportions for the icing and put in WAY too much butter! (Ooops!) It was a great learning experience for me, and should I do it again (after forgetting about the stress that this brought upon me!) I know what I would do differently - and that in itself makes it all worth it! Next on my agenda: Yellow butter cake with chocolate frosting from Annie's Eats! http://annies-eats.com/2010/10/12/yellow-butter-cake-with-chocolate-frosting/

Oooh and my CupcakeCraze business cards come soon! WOOWOO! Check us out on Facebook under CupcakeCraze!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! In light of this festive occasion I set out baking two pumpkin pies from scratch yesterday, along with some pumpkin spice muffins. All in all, I would have to say it wasn't one of my greatest successess! (Is that even a word?!?!)

I learned one VERY important lesson: do NOT ever use Tenderflake or the pie crust recipe that it has on the box. It actually tasted like chemicals. No joke. I did everything the box told me to, but it still tasted like chemicals/wax/nothing... depending on where you bit into the crust. Good thing the pumpkin filling was good and didn't do a bad job of covering up aformentioned crust!

So I think that Tenderflake should come to my house and clean my kitchen for me after all the trouble I went through to make their horribly distgusting crust! Do you hear me Tenderflake?!?!

So, Happy Thanksgiving - I hope your pumpkin pie was better than mine!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yes, it's true. I baked these twice in 3 days...

... they are THAT good. I even doubled the recipe today so I could freeze some and pull them out whenever I felt the need for a good old cinnamon bun. I've posted a picture below if you are wondering how on earth a cinnamon bun recipe with cottage cheese in it could be anything but a disaster!

Tomorrow night is Gnocchi Mac n' Cheese from noblepig.com; and yes, it technically is still baking. Just with savory ingredients. I don't need to let you know how it turns out because it has become a quick favorite in our house and we are always fighting over the leftover bits a few hours after dinner! Expensive to make, yes, but worth every blessed penny! Janelle told me about this recipe a few months ago, and bless her heart, she can't even eat it, but still makes it for her hubby! Here is the recipe, and some very gloriously cheesy pictures! http://noblepig.com/2010/08/28/gnocchi-mac-n-cheese.aspx

I'm off to eat some sticky buns before Joel gets his meathooks all over them and empties the entire dish!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Easiest Cinnmon Rolls... EVER!

In my last post I was attempting this new recipe that claimed to be the easiest and fastest cinnamon rolls ever. They also claimed to be very tasty. Usually those two don't go hand in hand. And honestly, I didn't know what to think with the cottage cheese and NO yeast. Yes, you heard me right! I admit - they did not dissapoint! Even my hubby, who is pretty picky about cinnamon rolls, ate them. All of them. Except two. Which I managed to scarf down before he got to them! So I am posting the recipe so that everyone else can share in this little known secret.

The recipe is found at http://www.dontforgetdelicious.com/2009/fastest-cinnamon-rolls/

I changed a few things - one being that I don't own a food processor, but I could tell that you might need to process it a bit because of the cottage cheese. Clumps of cottage cheese aren't exactly a delicacy. So I threw all the wet ingredients into my magic bullet, and then dumped it into the kitchenaid mixer and added the dry. It worked pretty well - just make sure you don't blend the flour mixture for very long. I also made a brown sugar syrup for the bottom of the pan because I wanted more of a sticky roll - just don't make the mistake I did by not properly combining the brown sugar and melted butter on the stove beforehand - my sugar and butter totally seperated and it was pretty much a heart attack waiting to happen. (This generally won't happen if you simmer the butter and sugar on the stove, at quite a low temperature for a few minutes or so, and stir VERY often, if not continuoulsy). Mmmmmmm... so tasty! Hope you enjoy!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A la Julie & Julia

I have been wanting to do this for a while, and with baby asleep I finally have some time to set this up and see where it takes me! This is my hope: that I will be able to update once a week, and that I will not gain 200 pounds eating the products of my baking fetish!

As you may, or may not, be aware, I am significantly in love with cupcakes. I adore cupcakes. Especially the mini ones. They are sooo cute. And you can pop the whole thing in your mouth at once. Not to mention that the cake to frosting ratio is superb - unlike what you can even hope to imagine with a regular sized cupcake. I am hoping to post about my new creations on here, rather than on Facebook, because it really isn't conducive to my rather long winded tales that involve the cupcake baking.

Take today for example. Right now I have a batch of "Fastest Cinnamon Rolls" in the oven. To get to that point I had to clean up a bag of sugar that my adorable child decided to empty all over the floor (and lick up) and then somehow she managed to twist the cap off of the syrup and drizzle all over said floor after I had cleaned up the sugar fiasco. Facebook won't let me fit that in my CupcakeCraze status, so alas, here we are. The name of the rolls are a bit diseiving (sp.?) becuase I kind of hoped that somehow they would be able to knead and roll themselves out. But they didn't. My kitchen is still a disaster as I write this, and hubby will be home any minute to witness the destruction, but I cannot bring myself to turn around and tackle it. I just checked on them in the oven and it appears that I did not melt the brown sugar with the butter for the "sauce" and my rolls seem to be swimming in a butter/heart attack glaze right now with clumps of brown sugar floating around. Super! I'll let you know how they turn out. I may need to save them by straining out the butter, pasta style, and smothering them in cream cheese icing. Which is okay with me.