Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trick or Treat: Halloween Cupcakes


I have a lot of baking for Halloween parties this week. And that means a lot of cupcakes. I made mini cupcakes as I am primarily baking for 2-7 years olds.

I started my cupcakes this morning as soon as my kid was eating his breakfast. I wanted to get as many cooked off and starting to cool as possible so I could get frosting while he was at a 1/2 day of school. Baking is a little faster and less messy when my favorite little sous chef isn't around.

Round 1 went to the Pastry Gods. I have no idea. I am guessing it was too large of chunks of oreos for mini cupcakes. I have made these many times and never had the situation that I had this morning. I regrouped. Poured another cup of coffee and started a fresh batch. Next batch came out perfect. As for the first batch, with the great suggestion of Yeast Coast Baking, that I would turn them into cake balls. Yeahhhh. These were ugly. I don't know. Today wasn't my day. My kid is syked as they taste delicious and they are too ugly to face the public so they will stay in our house to be enjoyed.

I surrendered to the Cookies & Cream Cupcakes and left it at one successful batch. Surely, another cupcake would not have the tragic results I had be confronted with today. Apple Cider Cupcakes were decided upon. Fortunately, these are beautiful. I should have started my day with these.

While cleaning up after frosting the last Apple Cider Cupcake, I was at the sink when I heard "I am so so sorry". As a parent, every time I hear this my stomach goes to my throat and I brace myself. "I am so so sorry. I am so so sorry." I stepped around the kitchen island to find...

Why yes, that is the good batch of Cookies & Cream Cupcakes on the floor. I really honestly didn't know if I should laugh or cry. I chose both. I called CB over at Yeast Coast Baking and as I was relaying the story I broke down cry-laughing. Then I hear "why is your smile upside down?". Trust me the child is lucky he's cute. I'm done for the day. Beer me.

Happy Halloween!

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped oreos

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with liners.

Beat buttermilk, sugar, oil, and vanilla together until foamy. In separtate bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat. Add in oreos and mix well.

Pour into liners, 3/4 way full and bake 18-20 minutes. Allow to completely cool before frosting.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oreo cookie crumbs, well crushed

Beat shortening and butter together until well combined and fluffy. Add sugar and beat for 3 mins. Add vanilla and milk, beat for 5-7 mins. Add oreo crumbs, beat for 1 minute.

Apple Cider Cupcakes

2 eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 c butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat overn to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with liners.

In large bowl cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, beat well, approximately 3 minutes. Add baking powder, spices, and salt. Mix. Add flour and cider alternately until combined.

Fill 3/4 way full. Bake 18-20 mins. Cool completely before frosting.

Use recipe above, instead of milk, substitute a 3/4 cup cider boiled to a reduction of a quarter cup. Do not use oreos. Sprinkle with cinnamon on top.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Apple a Day...

It's fall! And we took a family trip to Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Maryland to pick our own apples and take advantage of some of the fall festivities around their farm. They have a great storybook character hayride through the fields, over the creek, and through the woods which is fun for young and old. There is also a "haunted barn", perfect amount of spooky for a 4 year old, parents are free and kids are $2. And there is a hay bale maze, again you pay for the kids and parents are free. OH! and they stamp the kid's hand so they can do it again and again after you paid the one time. There are great grilled items for lunch, apple fritters, candied apples, apple ciders, etc at stand around the farm. A farm store will provide any odds and ends, produce if you don't want to go into the fields, or novelty items to bring home. My kid had a blast, very excited for everything we did and the weather could not have been better.
We headed out into the orchard where the Braeburns, Idareds, and Staymans were ready for the picking.

Picking Staymans
Now with all of our apples it was time to get cooking some fall treats! I had just received two cookbooks "The Apple Lover's Cookbook" and "The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook" and was anxious to try out the recipes.

"The Apple Lover's Cookbook" is a great resource book for making your apple-y treats. It describes many popular apples helping to provide the best apple treats. I've tried two recipes so far, one great, one not so great. So I will have to get back to you on how I feel about it as an actual cookbook, but as far as a resource and an apple inspiration- wonderful!
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
"The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook" is gorgeous. It has a few blank insert pages for you to add your own heirloom recipes. This book would make a beautiful host gift throughout the season. The photos are stunning, the page layout is well thought out and it is organized by season. I have made three recipes from this cookbook. The orange gingerbread- delicious! and then used it to make gingerbread stuffed pork loin. I did change the recipe only slightly, using the boneless pork loin I had on hand- which just changed the presentation. My son inhaled this pork and I must admit I snuck down for some leftovers also. It really is that good. Mixing the fresh picked apples with the gingerbread made for such a warm, comfort treat! I served it along with the potato-leek gratin from the cookbook. Great fall dinner and SOOO easy. I feel as though this cookbook will be perused often.

Apple Gingerbread Stuffed Pork Loin with Potato-Leek Gratin and Spinach

I also made an amazing pot roast braised in white wine with onions served with potatoes. I love when the weather gets cooler and the meals are full of warm, satisfied bellies such a nice contrast to the light foods of a hot summer.

Pot Roast with Potatoes and Spinach

(I promise to unpack my camera from the move some day! Sorry these were all taking on my phone)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pop! Pop! Popcorn!

I swear one of the most overpriced, over complicated, over calorated (that is now a word) foods is popcorn. You don't need a popcorn popper, you don't need a microwavable bag full of crap- and believe me it is crap in that bag- all you need is a pot with a lid, some oil, and a quarter cup of popping corn. Mr Orville Redenbacher may be the most recognizable brand, but I highly encourage you to go find some popping corn from a farmer, from a Natural foods store, dry your own, trust me you will no longer need to drown it in butter. My own child won't have anything to do with bar coded popcorn because getting (fresh) is that much tastier and, wait for it, CHEAPER, significantly. Did I mention no junk added, no calories, or weird stuff that makes no sense why it has been added to popcorn. Popcorn is full of health benefits like fiber which makes it a great snack, it's when you (or the food industry) add that junk it turns from delicious and healthy to a high calorie junk food.

For fun you can get it still on the ears of corn and rub it with a bit of cooking oil, put it in a paper bag and microwave it for 45 seconds. The kids (and you) will giggle and ooh and aaah.
When that novelty where's off you can coat the bottom of a pot with cooking oil, add in popcorn kernels (no more than cover the bottom of the pot in a single layer), put  on the stove over medium-high heat and cover. In a minute or two you will hear the familiar sound of pop, pop, popping. And when the popping decreases to a couple (yes 2-3 seconds) between pops remove from heat but remain covered for 30 more seconds. Pour into a bowl and there you go! Delicious treat without any guilt. Fiber it up. Add herbs to a kosher salt and sprinkle over, or a bit of fresh grated parm, or leave as is- it's that good! Also great as a garnish to fall soups.

This post just made me want to go pop some now! Snack time!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall Salad, Simple Dinner

I love this salad. It's fast, it's easy, it's filling, and it is delicious.

All you need to create this fast meal:
Bacon lardons, cooked off
apple slices
blue cheese
olive oil
apple cider vinegar
(a nut would be a nice add to this- walnut or almond)

For Dressing: add 1/2 teaspoon per serving of olive oil to pan, heat. Add cooked bacon lardons. Once warmed add a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Assemble salad: spinach, apples, bacon vinaigarette, then blue cheese, optional nut. Serve immediately.

Do You Know the Pumpkin Man?

Chocolate! Pumpkin! Cinnamon! Oh MY!

Chocolate and Pumpkin- does it get any better? Add some cinnamon buttercream! Delicious! They truly just melt in your mouth with every bite. Never one of those cakey mouthfull feelings, just a bite of Autumn melting across your mouth. A great cupcake.

What your going to need for the cupcake:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk (dairy free is fine)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a bowl mix together pumpkin, oil, sugar, milk, vanilla. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, salt. Stir together with a fork. Do not use a mixer it will make batter gummy. Once well combined, fold in chocolate chips.

Fill liners 2/3 full and bake for 22-25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup milk (or soy creamer)

Beat the shortening and butter together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes. Add vanilla, milk, cinnamon and beat for 7 minutes until fluffy.