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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Belated Super Bowl recap

So I realize I'm now a week and a half behind, but I finally found the pictures from the Super Bowl party (for some reason, Yahoo mail thought one email from my friend Marie with a photo in it was fine, but the other two emails were spam. Yeah, I guess cupcake photos are naughty? I don't know...) and I'm going to post them, and some recipes, because there were quite a few yummy things going on!

First, allow me to show off the test-run of the cupcakes for Marie's wedding:



She is getting married in a few weeks, and part of her theme involves pretty blue-purple orchids. This is the photo I had to work from:

We discussed making gumpaste flowers but, let's be honest, those don't taste great. So instead, we decided on sugar cookies with flood icing. I thought about doing colored icing, but none of my efforts were coming out with that nice fade, and I wanted the effect. So what I ended up doing was buying something called a "lustre spray" that I saw someone else use on another blog. It's a food spray just like those Wilton ones you see in the cake sections of craft stores, but it has a nice shiny quality to it. I bought a couple from PME Sugarcraft off Amazon.com, because I couldn't find them at Cake Art here in ATL. Unfortunately, they had two shades of blue but no purple, so what I ended up doing was using the Pearl lustre color first, then the Blue lustre spray, and finally a regular purple Wilton spray. This technique required some refining, and I actually did a slew of cookies before getting any that faded nicely. (I forgot to take pictures of that too, but it was a cookie sheet full of one-inch cookies.) It isn't perfect in these yet, but it's pretty close and Marie was happy, which was the important part since hey, it's her wedding.


 The cupcakes are a chocolate recipe from RecipeGirl, which I used because they bake up with flat tops and are easier to decorate that way. I also tried out her buttercream icing, but I didn't like it as much as my regular so I'll be going back to that. It was nice, just a little sweeter than what I normally like. It's a little whiter than the picture looks, it was just an indoor shot.

Also, we wanted  some sparkle to the icing and the sugar garnish I had wasn't very sparkly, so I'll be testing out some lustre dust as well (an edible sparkle powder, basically). Also-also, the cookie cutter (which I had to order from some place online that was in Australia, so if you want a mini cookie-cutter, you better order it ahead of time) came with a tiny extra petal that sat on top, since that's what orchids have. Unfortunately, it was really fat when I stuck it onto the bottom cookie, and it looked weird. I'm going to bake some very thin ones of the extra petal next time, and see if that looks better. Marie says she likes these, but I wanted realism! :)

Anyway, this is the general idea, and I'll take a photo at the actual wedding when they're displayed all pretty in Marie's fancy wrappers as well, for the full effect. They were VERY yum, I highly recommend the chocolate cupcake recipe. I had a little trouble with the bottoms crisping a bit fast, but I think that's my weird oven and not the recipe itself.... And don't worry, I'm not baking over 100 cupcakes by myself; I have three other wonderful girls who are lined up to help me bake for the wedding and then we're going to assembly-line the icing and cookie toppers on the day of, and run them over to the caterer.

Anyway, I've also been dieting and I was CRAVING dips and cheese, so in addition to cupcakes, I brought a bunch of dips so I could gluttonously eat my fill without looking greedy. (That's what Super Bowl parties are for, right??) Here is a photo of the tabletop -- you can see some of the dishes I brought, in amongst the other wonderful food items that I ate way too much of (the beautiful fruit bowl I SHOULD have eaten more of, for example, and the fab cheese ball in the top right):


 The small bowl in the middle there has cookie dough dip and graham crackers; the front red dish has my friend Eli's cookie dough dip as well. Hers was the real thing, and mine was a healthy version from a blog called Chocolate-Covered Katie. How is it healthy, you ask? Well.... it is made out of CHICK-PEAS. And oats.

I KNOW, RIGHT?

I'll give you a little time here for the hallelujah chorus to wind down. I almost hyperventilated over this recipe, I was so excited.

I obviously can't take any credit, it was Katie's brilliant recipe, and it totally worked. I didn't tell anyone that's what it was at first, and they were all eating it and saying how good it was, and almost didn't believe me when I fessed up. It is absolutely amazing, and I highly recommend you try it out. I don't know why it works, but it does.

Also, just above it is a dip called "Warm Cheddar Bacon Dip" that was AMAZING as well. Sadly, not healthy, but hey, bacon! And then of course, because it was football, a queso dip; I borrowed this recipe from Tasty Kitchen, called "The Greatest Queso That Ever Lived." I won't say greatest EVER, but it was pretty damn good.

Finally, I'm sure you've all seen the recipe going around Pinterest for "Slutty Brownies,"  (not pictured, I stole the photo below from the Pinterest recipe) and I'd been staring at it for so long that I just haaaaaad to make it. There seem to be multiple versions, but I used the one above. I will note that it needs to stay in a little bit longer than the recipe calls for, because mine didn't cook through very fast, but dear lord, it was WONderful. mmmmmmm.....



Ok, now that I've made myself hungry again, I'm going to go make some food and let you guys stare at these.

You know you want the Slutty Brownies now.
......
Hey, maybe Yahoo was on to something after all?




Sunday, February 5, 2012

COCKADOODLEDOO!

While you read this post, I would like to see all of you do the chicken dance...well...go ahead.  Get up and start dancing.  Ok, so here goes....

My new obsession is chickens!  I WANT MY OWN!  I mean why not?  Seams plausible.  Fresh eggs, cute chicken coops, education for children...why not?

So the past couple of weeks, all I do is google or "pin" chicken coops.  The weather has been so nice (which is not the usual around here) and I am itching to get out in the yard and build me a chicken coop.  Here are some lovely designs I have found.







City Ordinance says I can have up to 4 hens in city limits...no roosters (who needs men anyway right)?  So whatcha think?  I'll let ya know how it goes.  I keep telling my husband "It's going to happen." 

So before I go, I wanted to say thanks to Mrs. Alyda for keeping us going the past couple months.  I think I can speak for Emily as well when I sa that we always look forward to seeing what you're up to.  Your creativity is inspiring.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Baking in the microwave

So lately I've been ├╝ber busy. You may have noticed. Anyway, all this busy-ness equals less time for cooking and that means even less time for baking.

So one weekend while I was home alone with Sam I noticed a recipe on pinterest for microwave coffee cake. I tried it for breakfast the next morning and while it wasn't great ( I think some measurements were off), it wasn't awful either. So this began my search for more microwave baked good recipes.

Mostly what I found were recipes for a five minute chocolate cake in a mug. I tried a few different ones and found a combination that I liked that goes something like this:

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
Whites only from one egg
Dash of vanilla

I split this between two short coffee cups like you would find in a set of china and microwaved them at the same time for three minutes.

You can test it and adjust it how you like but the rule of three seemed to work for our taste on this one.

So today I was browsing through Facebook and saw the Pioneer Woman had made a strawberry oat bar thing and I thought immediately of a recipe given to me by my college roommate and bridesmaid, Claire.

It was the weirdest thing when I saw her do it for the first time. Mostly I remember being mad because I had leftovers in the square glass dish and she asked me to clean it so she could bake something and I didn't get why she couldn't use a metal baking pan. We didn't get along in the beginning (we both are a little particular about certain things) but obviously that's all changed now!

When I was getting married my
Mom organized a little Martha Stewart themed get together after the rehearsal dinner and each lady was to bring a recipe to share with me. I was overly excited when Claire pulled out her recipe for jam crumble squares. It's still one of the strangest recipes to me but they are delicious nonetheless. Do here is Claire's recipe for jam squares. Her original recipe seems to be in British measurements but I roughly converted it today and they still turned out delish!

1.5 sticks of butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup jam

Lightly grease an 8" square glass baking dish. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, salt, baking powder, and oats. Mix thoroughly. Press half the mixture into the baking dish. Melt the jam in the microwave for 30-45 seconds until pourable. Spread evenly over the base. Crumble on the remaining oat mixture. Bake in the microwave for 7-8 minutes or until bubbly in the center. Cool before cutting into squares.

I used peach preserves made by a high school friend. We did a homemade canned good exchange last summer and these peach preserves are on of the last to remain. I couldn't wait for them to cool so I took a bite right out of the microwave and it was gooey like a peach cobbler. Then later as they cooled they were more bar-like. Yum.

So that is what I've been doing with the spare ten minutes I have here and there. My apologies for the lack of pictures. We ate it too fast!

Oh and I hope this post isn't weirdly formatted. This is my first try with the Blogger app since we just took our computer to the apple store to be fixed.