24 October 2010

FFF Cupcakes!

To cupcakes! Yes, this week's recipe was from Smitten Kitchen at http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/07/best-birthday-cake/.

I decided to stay true to her post through and through, and made both the yellow cake recipe as well as the sour cream frosting.

Cupcakes: I love cake flour. There's something that feels so good about putting soft, smooth flour into a homemade batter! These cupcakes were relatively simple to put together and in doing so, I felt very good about how there were turning out. My one note was that I wished I had waited a bit longer for the butter to get to room temperature. There were a few chunks left in the batter as I began spooning into the cupcake stoneware. Due to time constraints, I ended up making the cupcakes separate from the frosting (we were scheduled to see my friend, Jamie, test for her first degree black belt - WOW! - that is something everyone should see!). So, I baked 24 cupcakes (plus a 10" round cake) and of course, had to taste a cupcake while still warm. YUM! Very soft and moist. Things are looking good ...

Next day: Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting. While my sister steered clear of the recipe (and rightly so - she was baking for her boss! - no need to unnecessarily take risks in that situation!), I dove right in. I like trying new frosting recipes, especially ones that involve very little sweetness. In my opinion, frosting is nearly always too sweet. This frosting? Bittersweet chocolate, corn syrup, vanilla extract, and sour cream. Yep. Sour cream. Skeptical? I think everyone would be! Good? It's excellent! The consistency is super-spreadable and matches well with a light cake flavor (like yellow cake). It does set quick so frosting the cake/cupcakes immediately is essential.

Positives: I'm not a big fan of cake in general but the inital, right-out-of-the-oven assessment was strong. Frosting - I will definitely make it again. Very user-friendly, easy to make, and tasty.

Negatives: The cupcakes taste different as they cool/age. Hmmm. A mystery you might say ... I'm unsure as to why, but overnight they turned into a pound cake consistency. Not what you might expect from a typical yellow cake. It still tastes delicious - just unexpected and random.

Overall, I'm left wondering how we could reduce the bubbles in the recipe (and yes, I did drop the pans on the counter before baking). Thanks to my husband, I also wonder what would be different if we were to separate egg whites from egg yolks and beat the egg whites before adding them to the cake batter. Egg yolks = yellow color therefore necessary. Egg whites beaten?! Fluffiness! Which is exactly what was eventually missing from the cupcake. My husband just might have found his calling yet ... food scientist ;)

For next week, I have chosen a completely different food medium, one of my favorites: drinks!

We will be testing out a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Check it out here, http://goodcleaneating.blogspot.com/2009/09/pumpkin-spice-latte.html and then check back next week for the review!

Cheers :)

21 October 2010

Fabulous Fourteen, Week 4!

Last week brought about a new wave of food in our FFF fun :) My sister chose Indian Corn Stew and Quick Cheese Bread for our dining pleasure. And it was a pleasure :)

My husband serves as the sound technician once every three weeks at our church and he was on duty until 1p last Sunday so the two youngest children came home with me (Lauryl serves in the toddler room once a month so she stayed at church too). We dove right in - well, at least Aubry and I did :) Brendan wanted to read his Bible verses from their lesson at church that morning; what an awesome kid he is!

The stew consisted of ground beef, some spices, corn, green peppers, crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic, and zucchini (although I didn't have that on hand). Concurrently, Aubry and I mixed up the quick cheese bread which was also very simple - flour, oil, eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, and shredded cheese. This we put right in the oven to bake while we finished stirring the stew together and then let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

We went the route of serving the stew on the cheese bread rather than in tortillas. There were definitely some cheers around the table as we ate ... my husband especially. He would have voted for more spice, but when doesn't he want things spicier?!

All in all, these two recipes are perfect for a fall lunch or dinner when you have about an hour to give to the kitchen. They are easy for children to help with and will meet just about anyone's taste bud preferences. It is also yummy upon re-heating; I took the leftovers to work the next day and plowed right through them :)

This weekend?! Birthday cupcakes are on the menu! You can start checking them out here, http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/07/best-birthday-cake/, and then check back in with me for a review early next week! I'm most excited to try the frosting. Why? It looks super unique and unusual :)

To cupcakes! Always a delicious treat :)

11 October 2010

FFF, Week 3!

This week brought about Pumpkin Scones to our Fantastic Fourteen for Fall foray :)

I choose this recipe to bake with my sister and Mom this week:

Why?! I wanted to try my hand at scones again - I only remember baking them one other time - and I also love baking with pumpkin. Saturday evening I donned my bridal shower apron, turned on The Decemberists, poured a glass of wine, and began putting together the dough. I put it together exactly as it stated and found the dough easy to work with and pliable. I ended up cutting it into 16 triangles simply because I didn't want the scones to be quite as big (less calories per serving that way!). I baked them on stoneware for 15mins and they turned out perfectly done. My husband got home from work while they were baking and commented how good they smelled - always a good sign :)

The glazes were ultimately easy to stir together. I'm always heavy on the cinnamon in recipes and wasn't sorry again for this recipe. I let the scones cool for about 30 mins and then painted on the plain glaze with a brush, quickly followed by a drizzling of the spice glaze. Hubby and I couldn't resist having one with the rest of the wine - a delicious way to end the day. They got the ultimate compliment from him, a scone-skeptic: they're sweet and don't taste like flour!

The next day, we shared the scones with friends who invited us over for brunch. They made a delicious compliment to steak, eggs, hash browns, and biscuits with gravy; a sweet side to a salty brunch. I do believe the pumpkin was the key ingredient responsible for these compliments!

Today, the children were home to have a taste. Lauryl's comment: "If I were a pumpkin, I would give it 8 thumbs up!" I think that means she liked the pumpkin part too :) Aubry and Brendan enthused with words like awesome, spectacular, and great.

I do believe it was a hit all around! Up next: Indian Corn Stew and Quick Cheese Bread, chosen by my creative, amazing sister :)

Stay tuned: more deliciosity coming your way this week!

02 October 2010

14 for Fall - Week 2 - Pumpkin Cheesecake!

What a fantastic week for Cheesecake!

Today is my husband's 34th birthday (Happy Birthday, Love!) and we celebrated in many, super-great ways - including this lovely treat:


My oldest, Lauryl, and I set about making the cake yesterday afternoon. I decided to half the recipe (like my sister - http://shortcakessweettooth.blogspot.com/2010/09/fourteen-for-fall-recipe-2.html) but cheesecake experience told me to keep the FULL recipe for the crust. Good thing too - it was just enough :) Lauryl began putting together the batter ingredients while I finished up the crust and put it in the freezer to cool. As I helped Lauryl finish making the batter, I found myself curious about the amount of pumpkin and spices. Instinctively, I kept the pumpkin at full recipe amount as well as the cinnamon. With every other ingredient, we stayed true to the halving.

Let me just say that this is a winning cheesecake! It was thoroughly enjoyed by ALL of us. During the dessert-tasting, Brendan asked his Dad if he would rate the cheesecake as insanely, wicked, or extremely good (with insane being the best). Following Paul's lead, we all settled for the insane side of good. (Hmmm, we could get philosophical with that now couldn't we?! - but that is for another post).

This is a keeper! Oh, and we loved the caramel on it - as a side note, caramel topping (like you would purchase for ice cream) is a quick and easy way to 'caramelize' your desserts ... just fyi :)

Next week's pick: Pumpkin Scones with a double frosting!