Tuesday, September 29, 2009

biscuits and gravy

there are few things that make my husband happier than a cool fall day, a great bowl of chili and a WVU football game. if we haven't quite got to that fall weather here at the beach, there's no WVU game on and chili is out of the question, i know that a large and delicious homemade breakfast is his other love. ....besides just spending time with me of course :)

i learned early in our relationship that breakfast is our passion. we love large breakfasts filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes and sausage gravy and biscuits. we rock at breakfast. we can do it up gourmet style and feel loaded for the day. we each have our talents. my husband can make scrambled eggs that are creamy and delicious. every time i attempt them they taste like rubber. i make the sausage gravy and the bacon. apparently my bacon is perfectly crispy. we make the biscuits together because baking is much more fun with two.

saturday we didn't have the fixings for an enormous breakfast, but during our weekly grocery run my husband covertly slipped a roll of sausage in the basket as a preemptive move on a big breakfast weekend. after a long night on the ship friday night he came home, slithered into bed, kissed me and asked me if i'd make him sausage awesome, as we affectionately call it. how do you say no to that, I ask.

biscuits supreme
*from the better homes & gardens cookbook

3 c. ap flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cream or tartar
3/4 c. butter or 1/2 c butter and 1/4 c. shortening
1 c. milk

preheat oven to 450 degrees.
in a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cream of tartar. using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add milk all at once. using a fork just stir until the mixture is moistened.

turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for four to six strokes or just until dough stays together.

pat our lightly roll dough until 3/4 inch thick.

cut dough with a floured 2 1/2 in. biscuit cutter (or a glass if you don't have one); reroll scraps as necessary and dip cutter into flour between cuts.

place dough circles 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden.
remove biscuits from baking sheet and serve warm with sausage gravy!

Monday, September 28, 2009

i'm back for s'mores!

it's been an abnormally long time since i last posted. i apologize. i've missed this page. it's been a long summer of traveling, job changes, and little baking. but don't worry, i'm back.

in homage to the end of summer and the beginning of my favorite season i selected a recipe that helps me to remember all the is fabulous about fall; the cool weather, football, and bonfires. who can have a bonfire without s'mores? well, who would want to anyways. so in respect to the fire cooked dessert i have created a cupcake.

i can't take full credit, this recipe originally came from Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman as editted by How To Eat a Cupcake

S'Mores Cupcakes

1/2 c. ap flour
1 1/2 c. finely crushed graham crackers
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temp.
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. milk
1 c. milk chocolate chips (chopped to make them finer)

Swiss Meringue Marshmallow Frosting

1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
4 egg whites
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract

preheat oven to 350 degrees.
mix flour, crushed graham crackers, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
add vanilla. alternately add flour mixture and milk and beat until batter is almost smooth. fold in chocolate chips.
spoon batter into cupcake papers about 2/3 full. bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (I only needed 18 minutes on my cupcakes, it will vary based on your oven) Remove from oven and cool.
to make the frosting: combine egg whites and sugar in the top of a double boiler (or a glass bowl over but not touching a pan of simmering water). whisk constantly over medium-high heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees, about 5 minutes. pour egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. beat on high for 6 minutes or until the mixture reaches room temperature. add additional vanilla 1 tsp. at a time until you've reached desired flavor.
frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and top with a piece of chocolate.

Friday, August 14, 2009

chocolate sandwich cookies

trying to drop pounds isn't easy. trying to do it without some no carb, nothing white, fad diet isn't any easier. i'm trying to drop the weight by eating healthy and working out. no wonder people turn to the magic pill or their favorite plastic surgeon.

but i will not. i am determined to do this the right way, make myself feel better and become healthier.

so in every attempt not to be healthy i decided to attempt these sandwich cookies.

they tasted better after having sat a day. i'm sure i missed an important step or didn't add enough butter but these are nice and chocolatey and salty and very similar to oreo's. i didn't have the right ingredients for the perfect filling so mine are filled with whipped cream. also a reason my husband, after eating 4 of them, decided he didn't like them. "every time I bite into them the filling oozes all over." and then he ate another one....

so the next time around these will be perfect! for now, they just look pretty.

check out the recipe at Joy The Baker. Hers look way better than mine!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Threadcakes and T-Shirts

Our favorite t-shirt site Threadless has gone above and beyond to create one of the coolest cake competitions. Not only to they make great t-shirts and allow artists the opportunity to be seen, but now you can turn those favorite t-shirts into delicious cakes.

Threadcakes is an online baking contest held by Chris Cardinal and Threadless. It gives bakers and non-bakers the opportunity to create amazing cakes from fabulous t-shirts. To find out everything about the competition and how to enter go here: http://www.threadcakes.com/home

Here are some random selections of the t-shirts and their cake counterparts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Iron Cupcake: Peach and Fennel Cupcake with Peach Marscapone Frosting

So I'm new to this competition baking scene. I didn't realize the options that were out there for home-made, self-taught bakers. I recently stumbled upon the Iron Cupcake Challenge. I had read of other, far more skilled bakers enter this illusive competition. Since I found myself with a little bit of time I decided to see if I could get something put together. I was cutting it a little close, submissions are due by Friday and it's Monday. So I put my brain to work and came up with a quick recipe worth submitting. Actually, it tastes pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. I feel a bit overwhelmed by some of the awesome submissions in this months IC challenge. I'm not sure I stand a chance.

If you like my cupcake, or you just like me, please make sure to vote starting July 28th, 8PM at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER, http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com.

Also, if you are interested in getting in on the Iron Cupcake business, check out all the details at Iron Cupcake: Earth and join the fun.

Now here's my cupcake submission with the recipe below. It's nice and moist and the fresh peaches give it a nice summery flavor with the fennel combination.

Peach & Fennel Cupcakes

1-1/2 c. AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange zest
3/4 c. whole milk
2 peaches pitted, sliced and cut into thirds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, crushed fennel and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until light and fluffly. Add vanilla and orange zest, beating well. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth. Fold in peaches or nectarines. Scoop batter into prepared cupcake liners. Bake in preheated over for 23-28 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.

Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

Peach Marscapone Frosting
1 pound marscapone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2 peaches peeled, pitted and finely chopped

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the marscapone, cream and confectioners' sugar until medium-soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful no to overbeat. Carefully fold in peaches.

Decorate cooled cupcakes with the frosting and garnish with a sprinkle of fennel seeds.

I am competing to win the following prizes made by wonderful contributors:
And the corporate prize providers:
HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friendly Advice on Baking Cupcakes

I'm not a professional. I haven't taken a baking class. I learned my baking skills from my family, trial and error, and lots of books. Plus, I'm not perfect. I learn new things every day and I love to get new baking information from folks. So, I want to impart some of the wisdom I have learned from those far wiser than me. So, I hope these help:

1. Fill your cupcake liners no more than 1/2 to 2/3 full. I have to stick with 1/2 full as I always overfill my cupcakes. You don't want them to overflow and get messy.

2. Don't overmix your batter. Over mixing can cause your cupcakes to end up chewy instead of nice and moist. Follow the directions in the recipe.

3. Bring all ingredients to room temperature before mixing your cupcake batter. By mixing cold items into your batter, you risk having a lumpy batter which might cause you to over mix your batter. If at room temperature the ingredients will mix evenly and the result will be a wonderful cupcake batter. Same goes for icing. Don't put cold milk into room temp. butter!

4. Cook only one pan of cupcakes at a time and rotate the pan. You want your cupcake pan in the center of your oven. If your oven tends to cook items more that are toward the bake, then rotate your cupcake pan halfway through the cooking time. If you are cooking two pans, make sure you switch the pans halfway through. This will ensure that you get evenly cooked cupcakes.

5. Use a small offset spatula for decorating. It has a flat rounded blade designed for even spreading. The crooked handle gives you extra leverage.

Just Cupcakes opens in Virginia Beach

This weekend a took a trip to find a new cupcakery that had opened in the Virginia Beach area. As excited as cupcakes make me, it makes me even more happy to find others who enjoy my affinity for the tiny cakes. Just Cupcakes is located in the West end of the Hilltop Shopping center in Virginia Beach.

The shop is quaint and the people are friendly. I went on the grand opening day and the place seemed very busy in the few minutes I was there to grab the cupcakes. I got a box of half a dozen because I thought I would be sharing with friends later on that evening. Fortunately for me, my evening fell through and I could indulge in the delicious cakes all by myself :)

I have to say that I'm thoroughly pleased with the size, the cake to icing ratio, as well as the moistness of the cakes. Nothing is too sweet. The lemon is amazingly delicious. You can tell by the taste that the ingredients are top notch and they know what they are doing when they bake their cupcakes. The red velvet will knock your socks off. So moist and dense and the icing was perfectly creamy.

Unfortunately my pictures didn't turn out so well so I'm posting a few pictures from the Just Cupcakes website so you can see how great the cupcakes are. If you are in the area I hope you'll stop by and support them as a new local business. You won't be disappointed and I'm sure you'll want to come back for more.
*all cupcake pictures are from Just Cupcakes

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cherry Pie-Oh My

I've been dying to try cupcakes from Carolina Cupcakery in Chesapeake, VA. Since I recently moved to the area I have never ventured to the location even though I often visited the website to oggle to various goodies displayed. I made a trip out there recently with family and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. Not only was the staff cheerful, and extremely helpful, but the cupcakes were delicious!

Listed here from the top, left to right, are: Tipsy Butterfinger, Spicy Hot Pepper, Cookies and Cream, Coffee, Carrot Cake and Cherry Pie-Oh My.

While all the little cakes were tasty treats, the Cherry Pie-Oh My tops the cake! It was combined of delicious layers of cake, with cherry pie filling and home made whipped topping. It was so moise and delcious I scarfed it before I even got to anything else on my plate! I highly reccomend this cake.

The staff made me feel welcome and I certainly will be back to test more tasty cakes and see what new flavors they come up with!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Muffins

No special occassion for the baking. My husband left for a month overseas so I wanted to console myself with something delicious. This is a recipe my mom used to make. I remember hers being oversized, stuffed with chocolate and deliciously cherry. I made mine a bit smaller and just as delicious.

Chocolate Cherry Muffins
*You can add more chocolate or cherries depending on your taste

2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. milk chocolate chips
1 c. maraschino cherries (chopped in quarters)
3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tbsp. maraschino cherry juice

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all dry ingredients together including the chocolate chips and cherry pieces. You want to coat the chocolate and cherries in the flour mixture so they evenly disperse in the batter. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients: milk, vegetable oil, egg, and cherry juice. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pour evenly in 24 cupcake liners and bake 18-20 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Early Independance Day

After spending another month away, my husband was supposed to be home for the rest of the summer. A necessary and long awaited break that we were counting on to spend some quality time together. As we've come to expect in the military, plans change. Now, after spending roughly a total of a month home in this present year of 2009, and just getting back this month, my husband will be sent out again come next week.

Seems a little depressing to know that in the past year and the beginning of this year, a total of 19 months, I've only spent 3.5 months with my husband. It doesn't seem quite fair that you dedicate your life to the country and it repays you by never allowing you to spend time with what means the most to you, your family.

While all of this may sound depressing; we are able to look positively on the situation. We know that one day this will all pay off and that there are only a few years left until we're finished. One day we'll look back on this time as just a small portion of our existence together. And hopefully we'll be able to laugh.

Until that day, we are in preparations for the next underway and to commemorate our countries birthday we decided to have a little BBQ this past weekend. Less on the commemorating and the more on the ingestion of libations as we were sorry for their impending underway this week. Nonetheless, I made some celebratory cupcakes.

Happy Birthday, America.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I've Been Described as Cool, Awesome, Hot, Video Games, The Hottest and Real Real Hot....

I was cleaning up my photo collection and comprising some photos of things I've created and baked in the past when I came across this wondrous beauty. One of the most gratifying creations I'd ever made; this cake of Strongbad was for my sisters birthday quite a few years ago. If you aren't familiar with the awesomeness that is Strongbad and all Homestarrunner creations please visit Homestarrunner.com for all its coolness.

I believe I will attempt a new cake with possibly more character creations from the Homestar series. Hopefully it will be full of much more awesomeness than this one....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Strawberry Struesel Muffins

Today was one of those days. The weather can't decide if it wants to rain or shine, your favorite tank went through the wash with an ink pen, your break a glass when poring OJ and your husband isn't going to be back from work until tomorrow. I go to the grocery store before the weather gets moody again and rains and what do you know, I leave just as a hurricane hits. I was so soaked I had to change clothes and dry my hair!

On days like this its best to not get out of bed. But if you do get out of bed a fresh batch of delicious muffins is the only thing that can cure the moody blues.

Strawberry Struesel Muffins
Adapted from this recipe for Raspberry Jam Muffins by Joythebaker

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 c. milk
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. AP flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1- 1 1/4 c. frozen fruit (any kind will do)
3 tbsp. Jam (any kind will do)

3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
1/2 c. AP flour
3 1/2 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and moved a shelf to the upper 1/3 of the oven. Line muffin tins.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Removed from the heat and let cool briefly. Then whisk in milk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined.

In a seperate bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk mixture and stir until just combined. Gently, but thoroughly combine the fruit and jam with the mixture.

Divide mixture evenly in the muffin tins. To make the topping combine all topping ingredients in a small bowl and combine and rub together with fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over muffins before baking.

Bake until golden brown on top and a tooth pick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. About 18-22 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then serve.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cook Out

I woke up today determined to do some much needed spring cleaning, obviously belated. We are preparing to move next month and in order to fit our newly accumulated furniture into the truck we need to get rid of all the unnecessary items in our apartment.

If you know me you know I enjoy stuff. I enjoy pictures, stuffed animals, paperwork and letters. I also enjoy keeping stuff well beyond its shelf life. So I decided to tackle our filing cabinet and EVERY stack of accumulated papers in our house. Do you know I had college essay's from my Freshman year? I also found receipts from 2001. Wow, just call me a pack rat.

I decided that in addition to the office my kitchen now needed attacking. I suppose the refrigerator and pantry need some attention. Can you believe I found objects I didn't even know I had: a container of raisins from 3 years ago, an unopened box of macaroni pasta and dried apricots. I really am a mess.

Once the pantry was bare and my office was a little less worse for ware I could breathe again. I found so many miscellaneous foods that I could pull together a delicious and summery cook-out for one.

So I'm treating myself to a traditional, yet somewhat healthy, singular cook-out. Just me with my own delicious cheeseburger, fruit salad and pasta salad.

Now my husband will be jealous......although pleased that I did all the work.

Low-Fat Summer Pasta Salad
Made from whatever was in the cabinet and fridge

8 oz. elbow macaroni
1/8 tsp. salt to flavor the pasta
1/2 c. Light Miracle Whip
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. chopped red and green bell pepper
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Bowl the pasta, drain and let cool. Once cool add all ingredients together and stir. Presto! Pasta salad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Calzone vs. Pizza

It's wonderful having my husband home. I'm lucky to have found someone who enjoys cooking and experimenting as much as I do. We've been trying to recreate our favorite types of food at home. It saves money and we used healthy ingredients to help our waistlines.

As a kid we typically had "make your own pizza" nights. So in that same spirit we decided to make our own. Somewhere between chopping the onions and pressing the dough my husband decided a calzone would taste better than a pizza. A calzone: in Italian it means "stocking," "drooping sack," "trouser," or "hanging fold." Who wants to eat a hanging fold?

I prefer a pizza piled high with veggies and meats and cheeses.....I'm hungry again.

So as usual a competition ensued. There would be no winner as both judges, my husband and I, were pretty satisfied we had each created the tastiest creation. Nonetheless, we had a great dinner and some friendly competition.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Low-Fat Banana Mini-Muffins with Lime Glaze

I'm dieting again. I suppose I'm not trying to diet but make healthy eating choices. Problem with this life adjustment is there are very few choices in the baked goods department that are what we would call "good choices." I can't not have cookies, breads and cupcakes!

So this brings me to experimentation. I am playing around with healthy choices and lower-fat ingredients. My first test turned out better than expected. These little mini-muffins turned out great. I was able to keep my self to a couple last night, but just before bed my husband grabbed a handful of four and ate them quickly. I suppose that means I did a good job.

Banana-Mini Muffins With Lime Glaze
adapted from Weight Watchers Banana Mini-Muffins

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2/3 c. brown sugar (unpacked)
3 Large or 4 small banana's smashed
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. table salt
1/3 c. buttermilk

1/3 c. powder sugar
1 tbsp. lime juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix brown sugar and oil together until completely combined. Add egg and egg white and stir until combined. Add smashed banana's, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate combining flour and buttermilk to the sugar mixture until completely combined. Spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray and fill each cup to the top. Bake 10-12 minutes or until a tooth-pick inserted to the middle of the muffin comes out clean.

For the glaze: Whip together powder sugar and lime juice. Once the muffins come out of the oven, allow the to cool for 10 min. Then dip into sugar and place on a wrack. The glaze will drip so be sure to put some parchment paper or a plate under the dipped muffins.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Piano Lessons meet Cupcake

Remember when you were 11 and your parents made you take piano lessons? Maybe not piano, maybe flute, clarinet, guitar......but nonetheless they made you select a hobby. It was fun at first, learning each note, touching each key; so impressed with yourself that you could actually create something more than just a finger paint picture on the fridge. But soon after you learned that you couldn't just go to lessons each week you had to practice. You had to repeat the same steps over and over again. You hated it. I know I did. Our piano was in the basement and it felt like punishment to sit down there while the day was still young and tinkle away at the ivories.

There was a reason our parents pushed us to repeat our lessons. We couldn't become skilled musicians if we didn't commit the techniques to memory. Practice, Practice Practice. Because practice makes perfect, or at least that's what our parents told us.....

Well, it's true. And as a self proclaimed amateur baker I'd be lying to myself if I didn't need practice. It would be unfair to myself not repeat failed recipes or perfect old staples. In order to perfect my talents I must pick up where I left off and keep trying and learning. And that's why I created these cupcakes again.

And what do you know, practice makes perfect.

I tried these cranberry and white chocolate cupcakes a second time. I adjusted the recipe only slightly: I didn't include cranberries in the batter. The cupcakes turned out dense, moist and perfectly delicious.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sausage Awesome

I like to bake. I like to make breakfast and I love to do both at once. Since my husband is home I've wanted to make special and delicious favorites that he wasn't able to find while he was on a ship and overseas.

One such delicious bake and breakfast is sausage gravy and biscuits. I've never tackled this breakfast before because of the anticipation of burning the gravy or having runny gravy with no flavor. My husband, the voice of confidence, assured me that I could do anything. Now that I felt invincible I pulled together my ingredients and began what would later be referenced as....

Sausage Awesome

So I leave you now with the recipe.

Sausage Awesome
adapted from Food Network Recipe for White Sausage Gravy

12 oz. tube bulk pork sausage
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. Crisco (only if not enough fat from sausage)
2 cups milk
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Biscuits (recipe to follow)

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Trust me, use a cast iron skillet. It tastes better, you will be much happier. Add the sausage and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook stirring occasionally until well browned and cook through. About 7-10 minutes depending.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Whisk the flour into the fat and cook, stirring, for about a minute. If there isn't enough fat in the pan you can add 1-2 tbsp. of Crisco to gain the correct creamy consistency. After whisking for a minute , pour the milk into the skillet and bring the gravy to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage and season with salt and pepper to taste.

It should be finished split the biscuits and half and top with the gravy.

Martha White's Self Rising Flour

Follow the recipe on the back of the back for your choice of biscuits. Best you'll get anywhere!

Much Anticipation

I've been away for awhile. I've been distracted and preoccupied and I'm finally back. After much anticipation my husband returned from overseas the end of March. I couldn't be happier or more fulfilled than I am today. It's an amazing feeling to have your best friend back home.

It's been strange for us. Having never lived together and being separated for a majority of our first year of marriage we certainly have some adjusting to do. The most adjustment has been a amicable temperature for our apartment, and remembering not to pick up his things and put them where "I think" they belong so he can't find them. We're figuring things out quite well.

We took a much needed vacation and have had a lot of time to catch up. I'm still searching for a job and we are now looking for a new place to move into in the next couple of months. So we've been busy.

But now I'm back. I have a stock of good things baked to share with you......

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Never Fail Oatmeal

I'm getting anxious.

My husband's ship comes home this week!

When I'm like this I have to bake. I wanted something comfortable, warm, chewy and tasty. I just bought a new tub of oatmeal and decided to make a classic oatmeal cookie. I don't really care for raisins so I used dried cranberries. Oh boy, they were delicious. So delicious in fact that when I had some friends and their family over for my birthday the bag of cookies mysteriously disappeared.....

I found out the next day at dinner at my friends house that her mother was hiding them in her bedroom drawer.

I feel honored that someone would want to ration and reserve my cookies.

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
*adapted from the Quaker Oats Can

1/2 pound Parkay (2 sticks)
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. ap flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. Quaker Oats Old Fashioned (uncooked)
1 c. dried cranberries

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat together Parkay and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
3. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well.
4. Stir in oats and cranberries and mix well.
5. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for about 1 minute on the cookie sheet.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bort Cookies

We have had a constant downpour of rain since last weekend. It makes it difficult to run errands or stay motivated when its so wet outside. I don't let it dampen my spirits. I just bake :)

You may be wondering what Bort Cookies are. Trust me, it's a super long story as to why they are called Bort Cookies. It involves my cousin, my aunt, and the Simpson's. Instead of describe how the cookies got their name I'll just tell you that they are chocolate chip cookies.They are a famous family cookie. The trick is, only one person can make them properly, Bort (aka my Aunt JoAnn).

The lore of this cookie holds much fascination to our family since every time we make these cookies no two batches are the same and no batch tastes like Bort's. I have even had her on the phone before describing in great detail which steps she takes and how long she stirs.

We have just come to the conclusion that we are always missing an ingredient:

Bort's magical touch.

None of my batches taste bad, they just don't taste the same. She has some magical combination of the right water, the right oven, the right cookie tray, etc. I will not stop trying, and I'll continue to enjoy all the mistakes :)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Magazine Art

I have been so inspired by others craftiness. Some days I think of myself as crafty. But when I look at how creative others can be I feel like I'm behind.

I was recently inspired by another and decided to do something with the massive pile of old magazine's and catalogs that seem to have taken over my bathroom. They just sort of get tossed into the basket until one day, that basket is too heavy to move.

I just hate throwing them away. Some I keep forever.

So I decided to recycle them. This is what I've done so far. I used some craft punches to punch out colorful flowers. I will be assembling them into something fantastic. But that's still in the works. For now, here's the wonderful colors I was able to extrapolate from my collection.

Monday, March 02, 2009

100th Post: Coffee Cup Cozie

I can't believe I've hit the 100 mark. I suppose I should be much farther along and not such a slacker. In honor of my 100th post I thought I'd make something.

I've been seeing lots of people making knit cozies for their coffee/tea cups and I thought I'd try my hand. Not my best work, but I'm still learning. It does keep your hands from burning if the cup is too hot. The pin is not my work, that is goshdarnknit and it's one of my favorite of her creations.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Glass Jar Project

I'm trying to re purpose all my trash. If I think that I might find another use for it, I don't throw it away. I've got a couple bags full of recyclable trash awaiting crafting. While searching for new crafting possibilities I came across this idea for turning glass jars into frames for your pictures. They look great up against a window or just on a desk.To see the original jars and the instructions for making your own, check out Design*Sponge.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Brown Paper Bag Recipe Cards

I found this template in a round about way but I found this very resourceful.

At the Naval base they normally bag groceries in brown paper sacks. I admit that a few times I have forgotten my reusable bags and therefore have a large stack of brown bags that I couldn't throw away. I suppose I remember the days of wrapping my text books in these same sacks just so I could draw on them when I was bored in Geometry class.

Check out the tutorial here from Crafting Green World. It's quite simple and I'm currently in the process of making my own...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PB and Choco Rice Krispie Treats

Because I'm stressed I can't stop baking. I'm running out of ideas and money on this hobby! I made this because I had all the ingredients and I needed something to occupy my time and my stomach. Fortunately for my weight, I packaged them all up (minus a few I ate) to send to my husband.

Eating these brings out the kid in me. Plus, anything with PB and chocolate is fine by me.

PB and Choco Rice Krispie Treats

1/2 a stick unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
10 ounces jumbo marshmalllows
3/4 cup creamy Peanut Butter
6 cups crispy rice cereal
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Melt butter over low heat in a large pot. Stir in marshmallows and cook until fully melted and no marshmallow bits remain. Stir in the peanut butter until combined. Poor mixture over the crispy rice cereal in a large bowl. Mix until mixture is distributed evenly throughout the cereal . Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Smooth out the tops of the treats and press down gently to form together. Set aside to cool. Once they are cool, melt the chocolate over low heat. Cut the treats into even squares and quickly just shallowly dip the top side of the treats into the chocolate. Place on wax paper, baking rack or dish to cool.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cupcake Beads

On this beautiful Sunday afternoon I'm sitting hear eating one of my lemon and raspberry cupcakes and browsing the internet and checking e-mails. I came across these adorable cupcake beads ($13) by beadsbylaura on Etsy. I think I'm going to have to buy one for a necklace.

My Sister's Cupcakes

My sister has always been the artsy one. I've always been fascinated how she could look at a blank canvas, a piece of newspaper or a piece of driftwood and turn it into amazing art. Normally over Christmas we usually always make each other something. I have been asking her for something pretty for my walls and she made me these amazing cupcakes.

I know I had posted about them earlier, but I thought that they deserved a post of their own. I don't know how she did it, but these look good enough to eat! If you like them, tell me. I keep trying to get her to sell her art.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Candy Hearts

I am still stuck on lemons. I suppose it's because life keeps handing them to me and I still have a few left in my fridge. I'm also feeling very lovey. Again, it's probably because my husband has been away for so long and his return date is quickly approaching. I already sent him some Valentine's Day treats.....but what about me????? Don't I deserve some fresh baked goodies that tell me how much I love myself????

I do love myself, so I shall make me something heartwarming.....

My parents sent me a gift that came in the mail today. I sweet cupcake pan with heart shaped tops. The set is from Williams Sonoma and came with colored fondant and letter cookie cutters so you can make sweet little hearts with personal messages. So perfect time to bake "I love you" cupcakes that I will keep for myself. Stop it, you love it. Sometimes you bake things just because you want them and no one else likes it. Yes, I will admit, I will probably eventually eat every single delicious cake I make.

If you haven't done the same, you're lying. Stop lying to yourself, you should love yourself :) Eat a cupcake.

I don't reccomend this cake recipe for heart top shaped cupcakes. The batter is too fluffy and you'll end up with wonky inflated hearts like I did. The batter is delicious, though. So please make this in a normal cupcake pan. Even by itself it's superb. I'm proud of this recipe because it taste's great *she says after having eaten 2 cupcakes*.

Lemon Cupcakes

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs (will be seperated later)
2 tsp. baking powder
12 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cup sifted cake flour
1 3/4 cups +2 tbl. +1 tsp. all purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake pans with liners and set aside.

Start by seperating the fix eggs. Set aside the 5 egg yolks and in a mixer beat 5 egg whites until you get nice stiff peaks. Set aside egg white's because you won't need them again until the very end.

Sift cake flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking soda and set aside.

Using a mixer beat room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy. To this add egg yolks, lemon zest, and lemon juice and sour cream and beat until combined. Once combined, add the dry mixture a little at a time while scraping sides until all dry mixture is combined. Using a spoon, slowly incorporate the egg whites until they are all combined. Make sure you have scraped to the bottom of the bowl and that the batter has reached a consistent color. You don't want to have a mass of egg white's sitting in the bottom of the bowl.

Fill your cupcake liners only half way full. This is a very fluffy batter and will rise during baking. Bake for 15-2o minutes or until a wooden tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool and then frost.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz. of cream cheese
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1/2-1 cup seedless raspberry jam (depending on how you like it to taste)

Add butter and cream cheese to an electric mixer and beat until fluffy. Add desired amount of powder sugar. Once combined add raspberry jam and mix until combined.