Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gingerbread Cupcakes

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Gingerbread Cupcakes
with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Hello hello! Well its a week until Christmas, exciting! I cannot wait to see my niece open her presents this year! I'm guessing she'll be thrilled for about 3 minutes and then be done. But, it will be the cutest 3 minutes ever! She's been literally hooked on that classic Rudolf movie lately so she will most likely want sit down and zone into that. We'll see, either way I'm excited.

I'm thinking of making waffles for breakfast too. With my oh so beautiful, early Christmas present, kitchen aid hand mixer. I get way too excited about kitchen appliances, but I just can't help it.

Anyways, onto a delicious cupcake recipe perfect for this time of year! I was selling cupcakes, and taking orders at this local holiday craft fair and wanted a few festive flavors for cupcakes. I kept debating between eggnog, chocolate peppermint, and gingerbread. I feel like people who like eggnog LOVE eggnog but there aren't many of them and since I already had a chocolate cupcake I went with gingerbread.

The cupcakes are great and the frosting is amazing! They are a lot more like actually gingerbread than a cupcake so I want to experiment with this but still delicious. The strong ginger with the spices and molasses goes great with cream cheese frosting. They are a little dense (perhaps because it used THREE sticks of butter lol) but not too heavy at all. Delish!

If you enjoy gingerbread in cookie or actual bread form you will enjoy these too!

Gingerbread Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour                                       
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon (you can you less, I prefer a lot of cinnamon flavor)

For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with baking cup liners.
  2.  In a large bowl, sift together flour and spices; set aside.
  3.  In a seperate
  4. Beat in the molasses until incorporated. Followed by the eggs, one at a time. Then the vanilla.
  5. Add flour and mix on low speed until just combined.
  6. Fill the cupcake tins three-quarters full and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 30 minutes. 
  7. Cool on a wire rack in tins for 10 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
  1. In a large bowl beat the butter and cream cheese until combined.
  2. Add the vanilla.
  3. Add the cinnamon until fully incorporated.
  4. Gradually add the powder sugar by sifting in 1 cup at a time and mixing until fully incorporated. 
Spread or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Top with mini gingerbread men and/or women if you wish :).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weekend in the Concrete Jungle, Christmas Time in NYC

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Christmas Time In NYC
FYI-its a long post, hope you're up for a good read :)

Hello Hello! It's getting closer and closer to the holidays! You know what that means. More and more cookies! My house usually has much more this time of year but I have been CRAZY busy these past few months that most of the cookies here, actually all of them, are not one's I made.

Anyways. I do not have a lovely Christmas cookie recipe today. My apologies but I was away enjoying myself in New York City! What a better place to be around Christmas right??!

I was hoping to run into Buddy the Elf! I think it should be required  that Will Ferrel goes into character and roam the city around this time of year. How awesome would that be!? Haha I seriously LOVE that movie.
I also think New York should be required to play Christmas music out on the sidewalks through out the city. Just some suggestions. I sent a letter to the Mayor, we'll see what he says :).

Well, let me tell you why I was in New York in the first place. A long lost friend of mine from across the pond, England for those of you not familiar with the phrase, was visiting. Chris and I met while volunteering on a game reserve in South Africa. He has been spending a while traveling around Africa and New Zealand (must be nice to not have to work for a year) and made a stop in NYC on his way back to London. So of course we planned on meeting up.

 I was excited to be a tourist through association. You know when you hate looking like one in a place you are familiar with but feel it's OK when you are accompanying a tourist. We did so much, most walking. Which was killer being that Chris is like 8ft tall (more like 6ft 6 or something like that, still ridiculously tall lol), and I am only a whopping 5ft 1. I was basically sprinting while he strolled along.

Regardless we did it all. Central Park, where we strolled past the skating rink, which we never got around to doing, and stopped by Strawberry Fields. We also strolled down to that Famous Fountain by the water where people can rent row boats and be all romantic. Speaking of being romantic. We witness an engagement at this fountain. This one lacked the romantic factor and ranked high in the awkward factor, lol poor girl. I won't go into detail but word of advise to the fella's. When proposing don't walk away from your new fiance, all I'm saying.

We then headed down to St. Patrick's Cathedral where we came across something quite peculiar. Maybe we were just being overly critical but we still thought it was funny that in their nativity scene they had the usual but then perched in the back was a statue of a golden retriever dog, collar and all. Hmmmmmm. Not going to say much more about that just that I had never seen a family pet joining in at the birth of Christ.

We then foolishly made our way over to Rockefeller center to see the tree. It was JAMMED packed and literally impossible to move as a single person. It was more like we were all one big ball of people moving with each other. It was amusing to listen and watch the people around. No one was in the holiday spirit like myself. Where was Buddy the Elf when you need him  most?! People were literally yelling at each as if they purposely were crowding them. It was unavoidable people, get over it. One man freaked out on an old lady because she walked into his picture. When i say freaked out I mean he used some harsh language and a loud scary voice.

On that note we left and headed back to our awesome room's in Brooklyn. It was a remodeled loft in a very funky, artsy neighborhood. The next few days were spent at a n Art Museum which required you to sign a wavier incase of injury, pretty awsome, eating creat city grub like fries from Pomme Frites, and also at NY Rangers game where we had 9 dollar beers and enjoyed the game from the last row. Still we had a BLAST! And it was such an exciting game.

We also visited the 9/11 memorial which is going to be absolutely beautiful once everything is complete. They have two remembrance pools laid where each of the twin towers was originally located. The pools are set in the ground and you look down into it where waterfalls flow over and into a deeper pool and then a smaller square in the center. It sounds so peaceful and is really beautiful.  Around each fountain is the names of all those who lost their lives. It's organized by groups so its easy for a friend and family member to find someones name. It was so sad to see all the names and to just reminisce about 9/11. It was also crazy to think how long its been and how much work is still being done. If you want to check out more information of visiting the memorial you can go to the website here.

 After seeing the memorial we walked from there to Battery Park to view Lady Liberty. From there we
walked up to South Street Seaport, and then got lost trying to find the Brooklyn Bridge, go figure.We could obviously see it but we were trying to get to the part where you can walk on to get to Brooklyn and well it took us longer to walk to the entrance then it did to actually cross the bridge. Oh well. It was well worth it.

The walk across was pretty awesome. It wasn't too
crowded, too windy, or too long. It was perfect! Beautiful views and just pretty cool to be walking across. We then go to Brooklyn and made our way to a pretty park with a "beach" and view of Manhattan.

Then we chowed down on the Famous Grinaldi's Pizza.
Well first I got my head bit off because I didn't know the line was outside. But hey I should know better than to upset an Italian New Yorker right lol? So after waiting for a few minutes we squeezed and ordered a large, yes a large for two people. We asked fro roasted peppers and ricotta as our extra toppings. Now this pizza was pretty great. However, maybe I was expect SO MUCH more and was a tad let down. Our crust was a little to limp and soggy for my liking. This was most likely just because they have  10lbs of cheese on top lol. Regardless it was still delicious and we ate almost all of it.

That was pretty much the end of our trip as I was leaving to come back to work, blah. We did have an awesome time both sight seeing during the day and partying around town at night. I hope you did not fall asleep because in a few days I will be posting some AWESOME Christmas cupcake recipes.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Reminder from Buddy: The best way to spend Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Go on belt a carol or two! :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ooo Lah Lah

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Red Velvet Cupcakes
with white chocolate cream cheese frosting

Is it me or is everyone CRAZY about red velvet?! How could you not be, right? I mean it's a smooth and rich cake with that classic cream cheese icing. It's hard to find a really good REAL red velvet cake though. Many bakeries tend to just go crazy with the bright red flavor and it lacks that hint of chocolate. The best red velvet cakes I've actually every had, have been from local supermarket bakery sections.

For those of you who think the boxed cake mix for red velvet is amazing, wait until you try this recipe. Many might think that red velvet is too much of a process, but its really not all that bad. And the end result is well worth it!

I also amped up the frosting by adding white chocolate to it. The white chocolate with the tangy cream cheese just makes it that much better. It's my favorite frosting, ever. I save any left over and just eat it plain i love it that much!

The holidays are coming up and these red velvet cupcakes will be perfectly festive. You could get fancy with some holiday decorations or festive sprinkles. Go ahead and give these a try, they won't last long!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. 
  3. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. 
  5. Then add the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Followed by the vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  7. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix until well combined, then half of the buttermilk.
  8. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, and mix until well combined, scrape down the bowl with a spatula to get everything mixed in.
  9. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. It is supposed to fizz.
  10. Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine.
  11. Fill cupcake cups with about 3/4 full.  
  12. Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until toothpick comes out clean(mine were finished baking at around 18 minutes).
  13. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting. 
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature.
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 a cup), at room temperature.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4oz white chocolate
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  1. To melt the chocolate: break into small even pieces and place in a microwave safe dish. Heat for 30 seconds and stir. Remain heating at 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until fully melted. Let cool for a few minutes.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the the cream cheese and butter together until combined, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.
  4. Add the cooled melted chocolate and mix to incorporate.
  5. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time through a sifter, and mix until well combined. Add the amount of your liking. I generally add 3 cups so its no overly sweet.
  6. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
some of them I smoothed the frosting on and rolled in sprinkles :)


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quick and Easy

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Creamy Parmesan Risotto with Chorizo and Asparagus

Hello, Hello! Happy Sunday! How was everyone week?! If you are over here on the east coast I hope you are all still taking advantage of this amazing weather we are still having! It's so crazy, but I am NOT complaining in any way. I am such a baby when it comes to being cold so I am really trying to do as much as I can outside before I freeze my toes off.

Anyways, I have been cooking and baking quite a bit lately but I haven't had the chance to take pictures or post about them so hopefully that will change and I will be more of stickler with my camera and get snapping. I'd really like to practice taking really nice shots with what I make. That being said, please excuse the horribly focused and lighted pictures used to show this dish. The camera on my cell phone just does not do this dish justice. IT IS AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!

I had some chorizo left over from this venison chili I made for my pops and wanted to use it somehow. So i rummaged through the cabinets and fridge and came up with this. It's really simple because the risotto is made by cheating and from a box. I have made risotto before and well, this taste just as good and is much easier!

I LOVE Lundburg's. It is quick and easy and has the amazing smooth and creamy texture of real risotto. I shouldn't say real. I guess this is real risotto just made in a simpler method :).

 Before I make the rice, I saute the chorizo that I took out of the casing in a little bit of olive oil until nice and brown. I mash it a little with a wood spoon to get nice bit size pieces. Then remove them from the pan and cooked the rice in the same pan to pick up all the flavor of the chroizo. ( MMM! I'm getting excited thinking about this!) I steamed the asparagus in the microwave covered with plastic wrap for a quick 2 minutes and chopped it and tossed it with the chorizo back into the risotto once that was finished cooking.

The whole this takes about 30 minutes max and is quite an impressive side dish to any meal. Obviously It would accompany certain foods better than others. However a friend of mine made this with an Asian stir fry and heck it was just as great!

I hope you enjoy! Check back soon for my red velvet cupcakes! :)

Creamy Parmesan Risotto
w/chorizo & asparagus
  • 1 box Lundburg's Creamy Parmesan Risotto                                            
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Splash of white wine, or chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 chorizo sausage links, removed from casing and chopped finely
  • 6-8 asparagus stalks, bottoms removed

  1. In  a medium pot, or large saucepan pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add the chopped chorizo and saute until nice and brown.
  2. Remove and let sit on plate with a paper towel.
  3. In the same pot, add a splash of white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to lift all of the flavor.
  4. Mix the flavor packet with 2 1/2 cups of water.
  5. Add 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil and pour the packet of rice into the pot.
  6. Saute for a minute or two, tossing it in the olive oil and allowing it to pick up the chorizo flavor.
  7. Pour the water and seasoning mixture into the pot stirring the rice.
  8. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. While simmering the rice, set asparagus in a microwave safe dish with a splash of water and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Microwave for 2 minutes, less or more depending on size of asparagus. Let sit for a 1 minute and remove plastic wrap and set on paper towel.
  11. Once cool chop into small pieces and set aside.
  12. Once rice has absorbed most of the liquid, around 20 minutes, stir in chorizo and asparagus and remove from heat.
Try not to eat the whole thing yourself. It's that good!