Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cake & Icing & Sprinkles........Oh my!!!

I have yet to bake anything on this blog and thought I would start it off with a wonderful white cupcake. I just love cupcakes don't you? They are light, slightly sweet, fluffy, and cute, what else could you ask for in a hand-held treat? I have made many cupcakes over the years and this recipe is a fave of mine.

We went to the Fall Festival here in town yesterday they had a chili cook-off and it was great trying out everyone's chili. My husband said there was only one out of the 25 there that would even come close to beating my recipe.......I love him so much I picked a good one. We happened upon a booth that had cookies and cupcakes. I tried a cupcake and thought to myself if I wanted to I could do that too. So my husband and I talked on the way home and think that maybe next year we will have a cupcake booth. So over the next year I will start to perfect what I have been doing for fun for so many years. 

White Cupcakes:  adapted from Joy of Baking

2 large eggs; seperated into egg whites, and egg yolks

1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar; divided into 3/4 & 1/4 cups
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either spray cupcake tray or use liners

*  While oven is heating up let butter and eggs come to room temperature

*  Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowel

*  Once the butter has come to room temperature using a mixer cream butter until smooth. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and beat until mixed, add egg yolks one at a time, add vanilla. ( I use a beaterblade so I do not have to scrape the bowel down after adding new ingredients, but if you do not have one you will need to make sure and scrape it down a couple of times)

*  Turn mixer to low and alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the butter mixture. Start with the flour and end with the flour.

*  In another bowel whisk egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar until soft peaks start to form. Add remaining 1/4 sugar to eggs and beat until stiff peaks form.

*  With a spatula gently fold 1/3 of the egg mixture into the cake batter until mixed. Then gently fold in the remainder of the egg mixture into the cake batter being extra careful not to over combine just enough to incorporate them together.

*  Evenly fill 12 cupcake liners with batter. (as I am a nimrod I over filled all of my cupcakes and they came out looking not so pretty, I really need to get a regular ice cream scoop to measure them out easier)

*  Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes they will be slightly golden and when you insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake it will come out clean.

*  Remove from oven and place on wire rack for about 10 minutes then remove cupcakes from pan and return to wire rack to cool completely.

Buttercream icing

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1-3 TB milk ( I only needed one to make it nice and smooth)
1 tsp vanilla

*  Cream butter until smooth, add vanilla until incorporated

* Add sugar a little at a time until smooth, add milk to bring to the consistency you like

I used this recipe but jazzed it up a bit for some of the cupcakes. I made the original recipe then divided it into two sections. I put the plain into one piping bag with a large star tip and then mixed up the other half to make Mint Chocolate Buttercream and placed that into a bag with a large oval tip. Then I put both into the fridge to set up a bit before piping onto the cupcakes. I am really in love with this icing kit and if my husband is reading this it would be an amazing x-mas present.....wink wink :)

*** For mint chocolate I used 1/2 tsp edible peppermint oil and added 1/4 cup chocolate shavings with a little green food gel to the original recipe. 

I am slightly addicted to the flavor chocolate mint hence my favorite coffee creamer, my favorite chewing gum, and my new favorite lotion bar. Pretty much anything that has that flavor smell automatically goes into my favorites list.

I hope you try out and enjoy these cupcakes as they are mighty delicious.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beef Stew

Beef Stew For The Slow Cooker: adapted from Tasty Kitchen

1/2 bag whole baby carrots, each cut in half
4-5 baking potatoes, scrubbed/rinsed and cut into bite size pieces
1 sliced, yellow onion
1 1/2 - 2 lbs Stew Beef, if not already then cut into bite size pieces
Flour for coating beef
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Salt, Onion Salt, Bay leaf all to put over beef once in the crock pot
Beef Broth, 32 oz
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cornstartch

*  Dredge beef into flour and shake off the excess
*  Cook all pieces of beef until lightly browned on all edges

*  Place carrots, potatoes, and onions layered into the slow cooker

*  Once all beef is browned use some of the beef broth to pick up all the pieces left while cooking the beef

*  Place beef pieces on top of the veggies and pour the broth from the pan and the rest of the broth over. Put the seasonings on top

* Cook on high for 6-8 hours
*  Mix water and cornstarch together and add to beef stew mixing everything all together. Let thicken and serve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

All American Apple Pie baby

Not much yummier than a good ole apple pie.

Apple Pie: (adapted from Joy of Baking & Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book)

2 1/2 cups AP flour-sifted
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chilled, unsalted butter cut into 1in chunks
1/4 - 1/2 cups ice cold water

* Mix together flour, cinnamon, sugar, and salt

* Cut in butter either with a food processor or pastry cutter

* Once flour mixture looks like coarse meal slowly add the ice cold water until dough holds together, divide into two balls form into disks and place in plastic wrap

8 cups of peeled, cored, sliced apple of choice
3/4 cup white sugar
1 TB lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 TB butter
*** you can add 1 1/2 TB cornstarch or even flour to help to thicken up your pie if you want ( i used cornstarch)

* Mix all ingredients together and let sit for a few minutes while you roll out your pie dough

* Roll one dough ball and place into pie plate
* Place apples into pie plate
* Roll out second dough ball and place onto the top of the apples
* Cut excess crust off and pinch/roll or decorate your pie crust edge. Cut slits into top of pie to allow steam to release

1 egg
1 Tb milk/water

* Mix egg and water and using a brush wash the entire crust and edges, sprinkle entire crust with sugar
* Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place pie into oven and cook for 30 minutes. Turn oven temp down to 350 degree F and place pie crust protector/foil over edge of crusts to help to prevent burning cook for an additional 40-45 minutes.

* Once pie is out of the oven let sit for at least an hour to let the juices sit up a little bit
* Serve hot/cold, with whipped cream/ice cream/cheddar cheese slice whatever you like.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Full week

I can't believe that tomorrow is our one year anniversary. I have been blessed in my short lifetime to have learned some pretty hard lessons fast. I would never change anything I have gone through as it has brought me to where I am and allowed me to meet some pretty amazing people. Ryan my husband being one of those people, I didn't know that I would ever be married to someone who actually completed me as a person. I can only hope that I make him even a quarter as happy as he makes me everyday.

It was a beautiful day and totally awesome party with friends and family. From the day we decided on a date until the day of our wedding was all in under two months....crazy fast I know but I would have gone nuts otherwise.

So this week was a little crazy for both of us. Not only have we been uber excited about our anniversary. This does not include however the nasty piece of cake we have to eat that has been in our freezer and now in two different homes. I had a math test for school which caused major anxiety and he has been working on 6 different projects that are to be sent int to his teacher and presented in classes next week on top of midterms that he has. Luckily my other class in online and my third class of this semester doesn't start for another two weeks. I am in classes for Medical Laboratory Technology, after being a nurse in some capacity for over 10 years I was ready to get back to what I have always wanted to do which was working with diseases and blood in a lab with a microscope. My husband is in school for computer networking and I don't understand anything he usually talks about. If you can't tell we are both total geeks but we love that about each other.

We are both still trying to lose that comfort weight that we started to put on after the wedding last year. I started running and though I was doing excellent. My husband has run since high school and being in the National Guard needs to keep in shape for all of his various activities and PT's. I on the other hand have always had bad knees and have not run much in the past but finally came to a conclusion that I wanted to feel physically healthier than in the past and knew this was the way to go. So I started on Monday and to my surprise kept up with Ryan didn't stop for 20 minutes straight I have done it all week with the exception of one off day. Yesterday in fact I ran for 25 minutes and felt awesome at the end. Our plans now are for us to do the St. Patricks Day Run in St. Louis this year we are both very excited to race together.

So meals this week have been a lot healthier. Lots of veggies and fruit in the household, I made my famous pantry vegetable soup and just whipped up a batch of "mock" mashed potatoes using some wonderful cauliflower. Although I do plan on making an apple pie this next week sometime just because it's fall and I feel the need to bake constantly when it's cooler outside.

Below is the recipe for my pantry veggie soup and I will be posting the "mock" mashed potatoes later on this week. The reason I named this my pantry veggie soup is due to the fact that I went through a huge pantry cleaning last year after we moved into our new house and I made this out of what I had in the freezer and pantry. I have always loved my mom's vegetable soup but wanted to take a spin on my own this was just made out of what was available at the particular time I wanted to make it.

Pantry Vegetable Soup:

Leftover Roast, potatoes, carrots, and juice  (the first time I made this I used leftover beef pot roast, this past time I used leftover pork roast both tasted wonderful with these ingredients)

One can of your favorite choice of corn

Small can of carrots ( if you used carrots with your roast you don't have to put in any additional but I love carrots so I added some extra)

One can of peas

One can of green beans

One can of diced tomatoes w/basil & garlic

One can of beefy mushroom soup

One can of tomato bisque soup

Water ( I usually use to full cans of water to get all the tomato bisque out of the can)

Salt & Pepper to taste.

* Bring all ingrediants to a boil over med/high heat.
* Cover lower heat and let simmer for at least one hour
* Serve with hot crusty bread