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Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Today is Tuesday.

I am getting married on Friday.

The following things must happen before this can take place:

  • manicure and pedicure
  • payment for and obtaining of birdcage veil
  • ensuring for the 100th time that my bra does not show due to the low back of my dress
  • creation of one bouquet of button flowers
  • multiple 3-mile runs to maintain my stress level
  • multiple attempts to not break my own leg prior to said wedding ceremony (remind me to tell you all about the slick stairs, the fall, the hairline fracture, and the crutches that happened for my college graduation)
  • menu planning for a weekend at home

Yes, a weekend at home. Originally, Shannon and I were going to retire to the country for a relaxing weekend of camping and fishing. That was before my parents’ neighbors decided to throw their annual Halloween party this Saturday. I don’t really want to spend my honeymoon with 40 of my closest and drunkest friends. So, we’re staying home. I mean that in a good way.

I’ll be going apple picking on Saturday morning. I’m making something sinful for dinner that night which we plan to eat in the backyard with glasses of wine and my chimnea smoking away happily to keep the chill off the night air. Sunday we’re headed somewhere for brunch and a hike. I fully intend for it to be an amazing weekend.

I also fully intend to use The Precious. You see, the coworkers gifted me with The Precious last Friday, and I have some Monster Cookies to make as a thank you for such an awesome wedding present.

In a nutshell? There’s much to do before Friday. I can hardly wait.

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Congratulations, Grad

My youngest sister, Tori, graduated from college in mid-May. We had her graduation party last weekend due to her competing in the softball national championship with her team which came in first in their region. I made cupcakes. Go figure, right?

Graduate cupcakes no less. I highly recommend What’s New, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson. Such adorable ideas, and when they say “for every occasion,” they’re not kidding. You’ve got a little bit of it all in this book. For instance, I already know which cupcakes I plan on making myself for my 30th birthday in two weeks. And for next Christmas. And Halloween. And Thanksgiving. I even picked up a pretty ingenious idea for my sister’s wedding cupcakes. So, what I’m saying is get yourself a copy. You’ll be all the better for it.

And you’ll have yummy heads to eat.

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I know, I know. I’ve been gone for a while.

In the time I’ve been gone, I’ve done a few things. First and foremost, I was officially reclassified at the day job. I’m now an Assistant Director. Super exciting for me. I’m pumped.

I also spent a weekend with my family at their lake property soaking up time in the hammock and fishing with the special man in my life. He’s never fished. Teaching him to cast was a good time. The plus? He didn’t once hook me. The  negative? We lost a few bobbers. Not his fault. Two of the victims were mine.

Oh. Oh. I also managed to sign up for a 10K in October. Yeah. A 10K. What am I thinking?

So, I know I’ve been gone. And I know that it sucks (for me at least) since I said I was going to do a better job about posting consistently once I opened up this here food blog. To smooth things over and (maybe) help you like me again, I’m sharing the most delicious dessert involving bacon that I’ve tasted in quite some time. No POINTS on this one. It’s too good to feel guilty.

Maple-Bacon Whoopie Pies
from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

For the whoopie:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not fast-cooking)
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or nuts of your choice (optional)

Pre-heat the over to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Inn the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and both sugars on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and beat until light and creamy, about another 3 minutes.

In a food processor, process 3/4 cup of the oatmeal until it resembles whole grain flour. Transfer the ground oatmeal to a medium bowl and add the remaining oatmeal, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the oatmeal mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.

Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 11 minutes each or until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 48 two-inch cakes. Yes, that says 48.

For the maple-bacon whoopie cream:

4 thick strips bacon cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on low speed until combined. Add the heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla, maple syrup, maple flavoring, and salt and beat on low until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the bacon until just combined.

And then…THEN…you spread some yummy filling on one cookie and top it with another cookie. You can use a pastry bag if you’d like (it’s actually recommended), but I just used a butter knife. There was no time to wait.

The verdict? Delicious times ten. We even threw some in the freezer in a Tupperware container (separated by sheets of wax paper less the whoopies stick to one another) and ate them frozen. The best darned “ice cream” sandwich you’ll ever have.

Even for breakfast Shannon says. Even for breakfast.

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This weekend is my first totally unfilled weekend in a long, long time. It’s also going to be my last totally unfilled weekend for a while. We have Memorial Day coming up, my sister’s college graduation party, Baby Sofie’s first birthday party, Jacob’s graduation party, my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, my 30th birthday (do the math, people)…

I might actually have at least one thing planned per weekend from now until the end of July.

Terrifying.

Of course, the one weekend I have completely free is another one of the weekends that Shannon is working. I’ll be left up to my own devices for a full 48 hours. Okay, not all 48 hours, but a good enough chunk for me to feel comfortable exaggerating.

So what to do?

Cook. And garden. What else, right? You’re starting to see a trend in my life, aren’t you?

I’ll also manage to run at least one of the two days. I need to make sure I get a run in so that I’m not panting and gasping when I’m trying to run that 5K in June.

Gardening is simple – I need to weed the garden. Enough said.

Cooking is a bit more of a challenge for me. We’ll be having a semi-celebratory dinner on Saturday night. For what? I’ll tell you when it’s official. For said celebratory dinner, we’ll be having homemade pizza, salad, and, most likely, some homemade berry shortcake. Keep your eyes peeled for the berry shortcake recipe. I’m hoping it’ll be a tasty one.

I also have some homemade marshmallows to make. And graham crackers.

Shannon is demanding that I make him whoopie pies. Specifically, maple-bacon filled whoopie pies.

I would also like to whip up those Mexican breakfast sandwich thingies I said I was going to make a few weeks ago. 

Oh…and I need to make our neighbor chocolate chip cookies for allowing us to borrow her lawn mower twice while ours wasn’t working. And for mowing the front lawn just because she rocks.

Whew! I have quite the list. Hopefully, I can check off a few of those little projects.

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Chocolate, meet Ancho Chili. Ancho, please play nice with Chocolate; she can be a bit of a drama queen from time to time. Especially when she’s not the only star in a recipe. You know how that goes…

Avocado, this is Powdered Sugar. Powdered Sugar, this is Avocado. Come on, give each other a hug. There you go! Aren’t you two glad you met? You know who’s glad you met? I’m glad you met. I’m really, really glad you met.

I’ve been on an avocado kick for a while now. If you’ve been stopping by, you know this because I reference guacamole at least twice a week, and I post pictures of Mr. Shannon going insane on breakfast sandwiches when left unattended with my stash of avocados. In my house, the avocado is certainly reigning supreme at the moment, and I thought it was about time we allowed it to step out of the guacamole/sandwich/salad categories and into the realm of desserts.

You heard me, desserts. Everyone likes to feel pretty sometimes. It’s about time avocado was given a chance to shine. And you know what? Avocado shined. Oh, did it shine. With a little help from Chocolate and her new friend Ancho, that is.

Ancho-Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream
Serves 16

For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cup unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups buttermilk

For the buttercream frosting:
1 cup avocado meat
2 teaspoons lime juice
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, ancho chili powder, cayenne and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add the vanilla and combine.

Add the flour mixture in 1/4 increments making sure to alternate with the buttermilk. End with the last of the buttermilk. Beat until well combined.

Fill each of the muffin cups 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 17 – 19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

In the meantime, peel and pit a large avocado. Place the avocado in a bowl and combine with lime juice. Beat until the color lightens and the mixture becomes mostly smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time making sure to fully combine before adding the next batch of powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract.

At this point, the frosting will most likely appear too thick. Add 1 tablespoon of buttermilk to smooth and thin the mixture just slightly. If you won’t use the buttercream immediately, store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Top each cupcake with your desired amount of buttercream frosting and enjoy!

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Hey There, Sugar

I’m feeling kind of good about my baking life right now.

Why you ask?

Well, my friend, I’ll tell you. I’m picking up a wee bit of side business.

My wonderful co-worker Lauren ordered two dozen of my Sweet & Salty Strawberry Ganache Cookies for her birthday in a few weeks. They’re fun little cookies to make, and I’m especially excited that she’ll be sharing them with her friends at a birthday celebration. How fun!

(PS – if you haven’t checked out her blog, get your booty over to You Had Me at Handmade. You’ll be glad you did.)

My second mother texted me today with a request for cupcakes in a hurry. Two dozen, to be exact. I’ll be throwing together some yummy cupcakes for her work function on Monday. Strawberry or lemon are top of the list per her suggestion. I’m debating which I think we’ll be the tastiest.

My awesome boss is passing along my name to a friend of hers that works in catering. Baking just isn’t his thing. So, maybe, if all goes well… We’ll see.

Plus, I still have my two weddings booked in December. I’m downright pumped!

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Angel Food Cake

I think this may be the lightest recipe I’ve baked up in a while. I need to come up with a few more angel food recipes – it might take some of the pressure off my hips.

Angel Food Cake
Serves 20
Points 2

1 1/2 cups liquid egg whites
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar

Pour egg whites into mixing bowl and let stand for 30 minutes to reach room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Sift together flour and powdered sugar. Make sure you don’t have any lumps hanging out in your dry ingredients.

Add cream of tartar, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt to the egg whites. Beat on high. Slowly add the granulated sugar, beating thoroughly until the sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form in the whites.

NOTE: Some people are going to tell you this only takes a few minutes of beating for peaks to form. Frankly, it took me at least 15 minutes. Be patient. You will get your peaks. If you have a stand mixer, turn it on high and walk away for a bit. It helps you keep your cool.

Once stiff peaks have formed, fold in the flour mixture in small batches. Pour into an ungreased flute pan or bundt pan (I used the latter). Run a knife through the batter to make sure any air bubbles are released. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until the cake springs back when you press down lightly.

When you remove the pan from the oven, immediately invert it onto a cake pan or plate. Allow to cool completely in the inverted position. Once cool, remove from pan by gently running a knife along the sides of the cake and shaking out.

If you’ve allowed the cake to cool completely, it won’t tear as you’re removing it from the pan. If you haven’t, you won’t be quite as lucky. Patience is the name of the game with angel food cake. In the end, though, it’s worth it.

I’ll share my strawberry rhubarb sauce with you tomorrow Friday. It’s the perfect topping for some freshly baked angel food cake!

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