Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wintery White Kinda Day

It's snowing! My son's got a snowday from school and my husband will be driving home in the nasty wintery mix, so what's for dinner?

This week I picked up some beautiful white asparagus from the grocery. As soon as I saw it tasty thoughts of spargelcremesuppe from my years in Germany came to mind. So I bought it and vowed to make some before the veggies turned to their own soupy mush in the bottom drawer of my fridge.

I've never made a cream soup before so I wasn't sure what i was getting myself into, but the recipe was easy and as it simmers now, waiting for dinnertime, I can tell you it is wonderful! Since it's a white wonderland outside, I think I'll stick with a white theme for dinner tonight and make biscuits for with the soup and perhaps I'll set a bowl outside and whip up some of Paul Deen's snow cream for dessert!


1 lb white asparagus
3 lemon slices
1/2 tsp sugar
a few pinches of salt
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg yolk
salt, pepper to taste

Wash and peel the asparagus. Cut it into 1 to 1/2 inch pieces. Cover with water, add lemon slices, sugar and salt. Cook for 15 minutes until tender. Drain, reserving 2 cups water for later.

In large pot, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour. Add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened.

Add the two cups of reserved water and the asparagus pieces to the milk mixture and bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Beat egg yolk and heavy cream. Add to the soup.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What to do with brown bananas?

Some bunches of bananas just seem to turn brown overnight! I hate it when that happens, but this time before my husband threw them out I managed to get a batch of banana bread out of them. As usual, I sat down and scoured my recipes for inspiration then turned to the internet for some extra ideas.

That’s when I stumbled across Food From a Girl Who Loves Food. In her blog, Naka suggests making a marbled banana loaf using Nutella! What a fantastic sounding idea, I even have some in the cupboard! She mixed her’s with a recipe from Cooking LIght, which I should have done, but since I eat dangerously, I went with not only a fully loaded recipe, but a maple one!!

Teri’s Maple Hazelnut Banana Bread

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup maple syrup

1 egg

2 ripe mashed bananas

½ teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons creme fraiche

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup Nutella


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and maple syrup. Beat in the egg and mashed bananas. Stir in the maple extract and creme fraiche.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and stir into the banana mixture.

Melt Nutella in a medium microwave safe bowl. Add 1 cup of banana bread mixture and mix well.

Alternate adding spoonfuls of each mixture into greased loaf pan. Once all batter has been added carefully swirl to create a marbled loaf.

Bake 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Mine is in the oven now and it smells so great, I can’t wait to taste it! My mouth is already watering imagining a thick slick slice slathered in butter!

It was just as delicious as it smelled! Enjoy! What a tasty treat!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Resolution for the New Year...

I never really make a resolution, but maybe this year I will...

I love to write and love having the chance to work on baking, photographing and other things cupcake, but never seem to take the time to put it all together... I have so many pictures and thoughts rolling around my head and I never seem to get it all together; so for 2011 I hope hope hope to make the time to do this once a week!

My resolution is for 52 blog updates for 2011!

That's all, thanks for listening.

Urban Cowgirls & the Cosmos Cupcake

One of my biggest cupcake supporters just had her birthday and since I couldn't be with her to celebrate, I baked her cupcakes for the party. Mandy is a city girl through and through and was having a western theme party to celebrate. So what to make...

Urban Cowgirl cupcakes of course! These are just for her and are a cosmos flavored cupcake toped with pearls and marzipan cowboy hats (I had some hot cowboy picks too but they didn't arrive in time for me to shape their pictures).

So city folks, here's the recipe and some scrumptious pictures to go with...

For the cuppies:

3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tbl. baking powder
1 Tbl. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
1 cup milk, divided
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Premade Cosmopolitan Cocktails (I used Dailys Ready to Drink)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pans with liners.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer using the whisk attachment. Add the butter and 1/2 the milk and mix on medium until smooth and creamy, about just short of 5 minutes. Stop and scrap the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a different bowl, combine the eggs, wholes and whites, remaining 1/2 cup of the milk, and the vanilla until it's creamy. Add slowly to the flour mixture, mixing completely with each addition. Once throughly mixed I added 4 Tbl. of the cosmopolitan mixed drink directly to the batter. Add more to taste.

Scooping the thick mixture into the cupcake tins and bake 16-20 minutes, most of mine were right at 18 minutes. Transfer immediately to wire racks and brush tops heavily with cosmopolitan drink.

For the icing I went with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tbl sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbl. cosmo drink mix

Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.)

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom side of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate up to 3 days for freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

One spoiled baker!

Are these fantastic! Today is my birthday and low and behold the FedEx man just delivered these beauties to my door:

They are a gift from my longest (and one of the most wonderful) friend, Mikey! Thank you Mikey and Melanie! I can't wait to use them today and I have just the recipe in mind...

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

UPDATE!! On the Cupcake Cup!!

"To do so well is the icing on the cupcake!"- Amanda Morgan

I have been waiting for hours since the posting went up on Facebook saying that they were going to release the standings of the competition. I keep checking dying to find out just how I placed....

Then yesterday about 2 pm I saw a message from the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup announcing good news for me! It seems that the winner in the amateur division wasn't an amateur after all... So Erica emailed me to say that she was being disqualified and that moved the second place cupcake into first and

drum roll please!!!!

ta- ta- ta dum dum ta-dum!!!

I was the next one in line, making me the new runner up of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup Amateur Division!!!

Check it out! Thank you Erica and everyone else with the Harrisburg CupCake Cup!!!!

I was so excited when I read the email that I had to go into the hallway and jump up and down! (I was in class. I'm glad my instructor, Andy Link, is a cuppy supporter because I had to talk about it when I came back in!)

My sister said she knew they were the best cupcakes ever (and she ate about a dozen of them over the weekend) and even my cupcake-grinch husband liked them and said it was wonderful news! I am so excited! My love of all things cupcake is somehow validated with this!

Now I might just be inspired enough to actually make these skeleton cupcakes for my A&P class tomorrow, it is test day and a tasty cupcake helps you focus right??

These are in this month's Woman's Day mag, here's their link:

Harrisburg Cupcake Cup 2010

"...because Wonka would!"
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes by Teri Jakob
A moist dark chocolate cake with a hint of ancho chile, with a swiss meringue cinnamon buttercream frosting and topped with a homemade marshmallow chile pepper and a Hershey chocolate square

Last year I heard about the first ever Harrisburg Cupcake Cup and wanted to enter, but I was already committed elsewhere on the date. So when I heard about it this year I made sure I was free!

Sunday October 3rd..

I was a little overwhelmed going into this past weekend. I knew what cupcake I was going to make, but I was trying to polish my idea and tweak anything I needed to. Since the scoring was 1/2 taste and 1/2 presentation I wanted to work on the presentation. What could I do that was fun, different and would work on my cupcake? Usually I just top it with a red hot candy and a marshmallow, but I wanted something more polished for this.... I got it!!
Candied Pink Peppercorns! How perfect! It took some searching but I found them in the organic section at Wegmans. I whipped up a batch on Tuesday night, they looked great! I even made a batch of cupcakes incorporating them! Perfect, right?

NO!!! Disgusting! My son wouldn't even eat it, and he's my biggest fan! I threw it all away!

Wednesday was devoted to school and studying so no time to work on cupcake ideas...

Thursday I had a my first test in A&P lab on identifying the parts of the skeleton, plus it was an oral test. Who knew there were sooooooo many names and parts of the bones to learn!! I was a bit worried about this test.

Thursday morning not long before the test, I got a wonderful phone call! I was offered a part time position at Pinnacle Health!! I was so excited! Then on to my test! I didn't to as well as I'd hoped, but a B is not toooooo bad. That night I spent getting some things together since my son was leaving for a weekend camp with Boy Scouts, his first big boy scout trip.

Friday our house's electric was being updated. This was a great thing for us, but was putting my baking schedule behind. Scratch Friday...

Saturday was it! My day to bake and get prepared for the competition. I was so excited because my sister was also going to come into town on Sunday and she was going to try to make it in time for the competition! Well, then my Saturday became consumed with helping my husband put in a ceiling in our basement. He's been wanting to do this for almost two years now and was finally ready to do it. (The ceiling collapsed a few days after we moved into the house.) Since Tina and her husband were coming he really wanted to have it done before they arrived, since that's the room where they sleep. So most of Saturday was scratched...

10 pm Sunday night and the kitchen is all mine! So here goes! I was going to make my favorite, my Hot Chocolate cupcake! My husband isn't a fan of cupcakes and didn't really agree on which one I picked to bake, but it's my personal favorite. While running errands on Friday the idea came to me and I finally knew what to do for the top! This is a dark chocolate cupcake with a hit of spiciness so I decided I would make a homemade marshmallow fondant shaped like a chile pepper! Hot chocolate isn't complete without a marshmallow, right??

I couldn't decided between two ideas for this recipe so I Saturday night I made them both. One was ok but the other was wonderful! My last minute tweaks paid off, I loved it! Now while I was waiting for them to bake I got to thinking about the apron I had been wanting to make. I've been pouring over patterns trying to find one that appealed to me. Recently my son got me hooked on Cupcake Wars, and when I saw Wendy from Whodidily I was in love! With her, her husband, her store and HER APRON!!! So much so that I even emailed her and asked her where she got it, but a friend had made it for her... So to the drawing board I went, to design my own. So after my cupcakes finished baking, at 1 am I headed to my basement and amidst the mess of putting up a new ceiling I laid out and made myself a wonderful apron that I am just in love with! It's pink and white poka dots, with a tulle petticoat underneath and pockets on the front! I love it! My husband thought I'd bought it. Yay me!

Back to the kitchen, about 3:30 am and now I am up to my elbows in marshmallow goo trying to get it the right consistency to make my pink peppers for the top. They looked so cute, I was pretty pleased when I finished them. The wrappers for my cupcakes were dark brown with pink and green poka dots, so I decided to go with pink peppers and green icing. When asked why the green icing my answer ... "because Wonka would!"

I crawled into bed at 5:30 Sunday morning to nap until about 8:30 am and then get up and finish up. I was so excited, I don't know which I was more excited about the cupcakes, the contest or my awesome apron!

I got them all ready to go and waited for my son to get home from camp to
come along. We arrived just after 1 to check in. The bookstore was already crowded.
After checking in we headed to a pizza place a few blocks down to get something other than cake into my stomach. My sister who lives in New York and Arizona text me to say she was a few minutes away. I told her she didn't have to come, that these cupcakes were crazy awesome and I felt more than a bit out of my league, but she insisted on being there. What a great sister! We walked back to meet her. The line was out the door to get into the place!!! It was crazy!

We wandered about and looked at the cupcakes, watched the judges, perused the books... It seemed forever before the announcement was made for the winners. I waited anxiously, hoping to hear my name called. Joey managed to work his way up to the sample table and spent the afternoon volunteering and helping out. Tina even waited in line to pay her $2 to get a cupcake from the sample table, it only took her about 45 minutes to get it! And that was after she waited for the line to go down!

The big moment finally came and Erica Streisfeld, Founder of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup stepped up to the microphone to announce the winners, she even made them little trophies! My name wasn't called, :( but I wasn't too disappointed because I loved how everything came out and wouldn't have changed anything about what I did! Though, I must say a trophy would have been nice. I had a great time and loved my cakes.

We came home and everyone tried the cupcakes I had at home... because when I woke up at 8:30 I decided that they didn't look full enough in the cups so I re-baked the whole thing before leaving for the competition.