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September 30, 2009

{MSC} BONUS: Banana Walnut Cupcakes

I'm often asked, "How do you find the time to bake the things you do and who in the world eats them all?" During the workweek, I usually premeasure the dry ingredients and make any frosting a day or two before. So it usually takes me less than 1 hour to have 1 dozen cupcakes baked from start to finish. AND, I can still be in bed by 10pm! Who gets to try all these yummy treats? Me. My toddler. Other members of my family, friends and my coworkers. There are always birthday parties to attend to, gatherings to go to, etc.

This is a BONUS MS-Cupcake for September. On the 15th, we made Zucchini Spice Cupcakes. Betty, from eat my cupcake, our host of the monthly MS Cupcake Club, challenged us to make another --- banana-Pecan Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream, can be found on page 41 in Cupcakes. I always have ripened bananas on-hand so i figured, why not? What I didn't have were pecans so I used walnuts. My house smelled wonderful as these were baking. I halved the recipe and had 14 cupcakes after exactly 20 minutes. Fresh out of the oven, these were very good.

The Caramel Buttercream for this cupcake was the Swiss Meringue type which is very rich, smooth, light & fluffy icing which is also not as sweet as regular buttercream which as we all know is, butter + powdered sugar. I actually dont mind making or eating regular buttercream because I find SMB laborious. For as long as I've been baking, I've only made it once. So why do it again? EVERYONE swears by it! Some say this is their GO-TO frosting. So, I took another stab at it.

I've made caramel a few times and this was PERFECT.

The next step was to cook the egg whites & sugar using the double boiler method until the sugar dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Then beat the egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes. Next was to add the butter and this was where it all went wrong --- a COMPLETE curdled mess!

I have no idea how or when or why this happened but this was gross. I just trashed it. If someone knows why this happened and how I can prevent this from happening to me again, DO TELL, PLEASE!

I was bringing these cupcakes to a gathering so I had about an hour before I had to leave. I didnt think there was going to be enough time to wait for butter to come to room temp. for buttercream so I just took one cup of heavy cream, added one tablespoon of powdered sugar and made whipped cream. Nothing curdled!

These were good but they tasted more like a banana bread than a cupcake (and I've made banana cupcakes before). I really liked the whipped cream but I'll definitely take another crack at SMB one day.
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September 27, 2009

::SMS:: Caramelized Onions, Sage, and Cheddar Muffins

Hanaâ of Hanaâ's Kitchen recently baked for her a State Fair and "placed" with a few of her recipes. That's a great accomplishment, and one day, I hope to do something as aspiring as entering a cooking contest. Props to Hanaâ, who also chose this Sunday's Sweet Melissa recipe.

I LOVE cheese but i'm not very fond of onions. I mean, I'll cook with onions when I have to but I wont really eat them... weird, right? I know. So what do you do when a recipe uses an ingredient you love and an ingredient you don't really like? Try it, of course! Who knows... maybe i'll like onions. By the way, hubs is not a huge fan of cheese but LOVES onions!

So, what did we think? Hubs thought these were just ok... nothing to rave about, but he did like the onions.

For me: the texture was more a biscuit rather than a muffin. I thought the onions overpowered the cheese. All I tasted was the caramelized onions, when I really wanted to taste the cheese. I didn't really taste any of the sage, either. I did up the amount of pepper for an extra kick, which I really liked! I liked this... didn't love it.

Did this make me change my mind about onions? Nope, it didnt.

For the recipe, head over to Hanaâ's blog, and be sure to check out how the other SMS bakers fared.
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September 22, 2009

ːcookie carnivalːblack bottom coconut cups

Welcome to my first cookie carnival — a once-a-month cookie-baking event, hosted by Kate of the clean plate club. This month's recipe was Martha Stewart's Black Bottom Coconut Bars and the recipe can be found here. As posted on the recipe page, "a rich chocolate brownie and a chewy coconut macaroon — indulge!"

I like brownies & I like macaroons. Hence, it was time to put the two together. Lately, I've been using & abusing my cupcake pan — I decided to do it again!

• I made half the recipe
• Line cupcake pan with liners and lightly spray w/cooking spray
• I spooned approx. 1 tablespoon per cup and came out with 10
• My chocolate bases took about 8 minutes to bake

While the brownie is baking, mix together the coconut topping.

When the chocolate is done spoon about 1 tablespoon of the coconut topping over the brownie. Then top with some reserved coconut. They took about 18 more minutes to bake.

Aren't they cute?

Remove the paper liners before they completely cool.

Although I wish I could have tasted the chocolate part more, I enjoyed these! The coconut macaroon was very tasty. These were super simple to put together — no mixer required! Because I made half the recipe, I mixed everything in a medium bowl. My start to finish time was a lil under an hour. I'm definitely going to make these again!
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September 20, 2009

::SMS:: Orange Scented Scones

I never ATE a scone, let alone bake one. Shocking, right? Scones werent something i've ever wanted to eat. Don't ask me why... i'll grab a bagel or a muffin before i grab a scone. What is a scone? According to wikipedia, "The scone is a small British quickbread (or cake if recipe includes sugar) of possible Scottish origin." And here I thought it was a cookie! Anyway, this week's recipe was chosen by Robin of Lady Craddock's Bakery and the recipe can be found here.

The batter came together very quickly. I added the zest of a large orange then I was going to add chocolate chips but i totally forgot all about them. I sprinkled some raw sugar on them before baking.

These were very easy to make but tasted just OK to me.... nothing really spectacular. I wish i hadn't forgetten the chocolate chips.
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September 18, 2009

Bread Machine Recommendation?

I'm looking to buy a bread machine. There are so many other there! I'm looking for something cheap, reliable and easy to use. For those of you who own one, what do you use? Do you like it? If not, which other one would you get? Thanks!
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September 15, 2009

{MSC} Zucchini Spice Cupcakes

When I first received my Cupcakes cookbook, this was one of the recipes I quickly passed over. Didnt even want to try it. Certainly didnt flag it. I think my reasoning was because of the zucchini. I love them grilled but in a cupcake!?

Fast forward to two months later and I made them! Why? Well, the obvious reason being that I intend to attempt every cupcake the MSC Group makes. Tracey from Tracey's Culinary Adventures selected Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes (pages 44-45) for this month's selection.

My changes:
• I halved the recipe and made 12
• Instead of lemon, I used orange zest
• Instead of walnuts, I used almonds
• Instead of cream cheese frosting (because I didnt have cream cheese) I made a yogurt icing

Yogurt icing:
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (i used Stonyfield Farms Greek Style cause its thicker & creamier and I still had free yogurt coupons)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, to allow the icing to thicken. Spread on cupcakes.

• • • • • • • • • •

Verdict: You know how you can taste the carrot in a carrot cake? Well... we couldnt taste the zucchini in this one. Are we suppose to? Because the flavor of the spices was more dominant. Oh, and the yogurt icing added a nice flavor... but I wish I could taste the zucchini a lil more.
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September 09, 2009

A to Z Tag

I've seen this going on in the blogworld for quite some time now. It's like all those note-tags floating around Facebook. Finally, someone got me — thanks, HannaI think!

1. A – Available/Single? Married
2. B – Best friend? DH
3. C – Cake or Pie? Cake
4. D – Drink of choice? Water
5. E – Essential item you use every day? Ipod
6. F – Favorite color? Blue
7. G – Gummy Bears or Worms? Bears
8. H – Hometown? Brooklyn, NY
9. I – Indulgence? Starbucks Peppermint Mocha
10. J – January or February? January, of course — my birthday month!
11. K – Kids & their names? Megan
12. L – Life is incomplete without? Trust
13. M – Marriage date? October 2006
14. N – Number of siblings? One younger brother
15. O – Oranges or Apples? Apples
16. P – Phobias/Fears? Bugs
17. Q – Quote for the day? "Show me the money"
18. R – Reason to smile? My daughter
19. S – Season? Autumn
20. T – Tag 4 People?
• Nina of Nina’s Cupcakes
• Spike of Spike Bakes
• Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
• Eliana of A Chica Bakes
21. U – Unknown fact about me? I have one full-time job and two part-time jobs (and that's not counting motherhood)
22. V – Vegetable you don't like? Sundried tomatoes - something about them gives me the creeps
23. W – Worst habit? Shopping online
24. X – X-rays you've had? Dental
25. Y – Your favorite food? Thai food
26. Z – Zodiac sign? Aquarius
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September 06, 2009

::SMS:: Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake

This is going to be a really short post of mine. I usually dont wait until the last minute to bake for SMS but this weekend sure was a busy one. Sarah of Blue Ridge Baker chose today's recipe, Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake. I baked this early Saturday morning using a 7" springform and baked it for about 25 minutes.

I brought it to a party on Sunday. I received rave reviews from ALL the kids who ate it up rather quickly! One told me, "OMG this tastes like a brownie," while another told me "this is really good!" So according to all the kids -- this was a huge hit!
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September 01, 2009

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

A few weeks ago Stonyfield Farms asked me if I wanted some coupons (this link will take you to their coupon page) for free yogurt — why would i say NO? When I received my package, I was suprised to see a few coupons for their Greek-style yogurt. I've been craving some frozen yogurt so last night i gave it a try.

Using David Lebovitz's recipe from Perfect Scoop, I made the Perfect Frozen Yogurt. This tastes just as good, if not better than the Food Network's Pinkberry Copycat Recipe I previously made.
Makes about 1 quart.

3 cups strained yogurt* or Greek-style yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate 1 hour. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

NOTE: To make 1 cup of strained yogurt, line a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth & scrape 16 ounces or 2 cups of plain whole-milk yogurt into the cheesecloth. Gather the ends and fold them over the yogurt, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Frozen Vanilla Yogurt on Foodista
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