Friday, March 23, 2012

Lots of Cupcakes

Since I haven't posted in awhile, I figured I would do a big giant post of...two cupcakes that I have made recently. I apologize for the crappiness of the photos--apparently, just because they look good on my cell phone, doesn't mean they actually look good.

So, I make a lot of cupcakes and then I ice them so that I, on my diet, do not eat them. These first cupcakes were made for a a friend's 21st birthday party.


1 box german chocolate cake mix [or regular chocolate, but I used german]
Enough Amaretto to replace the water

However many eggs + oil it calls for

Make & bake as directed on the box. It won't be too strongly amaretto, but you'll be able to detect a difference in the cake. If you want more Amarettoyness, try adding some almond extract.

1 1/4 stick softened butter
A lot of powdered sugar [I eyeball it]
1-2 tsp of orange zest, depending on your taste
1-2 tbsp of Amaretto, depending on how much you make. Could be more, as well.

I just made this like I made the frosting for the Mimosa Cupcakes. Then, to pipe, I use a gallon sized ziploc bag with the end snipped off and it gives nice, fat swirls. I only used one stick of butter and didn't get enough for all of the cupcakes, but I think the extra 1/4 stick should do it. You'll at least have enough to frost/taste some, even though they may be ugly. :]

These cupcakes were for a bake sale and a lot of people said they were the best cupcakes they'd ever had. If you need to impress people, definitely bring them a beer flavored cupcake. Irish Car Bomb cupcakes also go well, but more on that later.

By now, I'm assuming you've realized that I alter boxed mixes, so I'm just going to tell you what I've put in.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 bottle Yeungling or other light colored beer [should be enough]
eggs + oil

8 oz neufchatel cream cheese [or regular cream cheese, but this is 1/3 the amount of fat and it tastes the same in frosting]
Powdered sugar

Make this the same way that you would make the above frosting, except it does not need liquid. It will also be a bit runnier than the buttercream. Again, I piped it on with a gallon sized bag with the end snipped off. AFTER, however, to get the pretzel--crush some pretzels in a bag and then sprinkle them on. Mine came out as pretzel pieces, but I think next time, I'd crush them finer to get sort of a pretzel dust. These are also good as mini cupcakes, because then you get the beer-pretzel-cheese flavor all in one bite. Suuuper yummy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tollhouse Pie

Despite the fact that I love to cook, I am seriously picky when it comes to dessert. I like plain things, like uniced cake and fruit salad. My favorites are apple pie and chocolate chip cookies (and german chocolate cake, but that doesn't go well with the next sentence I intend to write). So, thus, what could possibly be better than combining the two and subtracting the conflicting ingredients? Conflicting ingredients in this case would be the apple pie filling, which leaves us with just a chocolate chip cookie and pie crust. Voila, Tollhouse Pie:

And yes, it was magical. The recipe I used is here and it's very straight forward. My only issues were my own fault. We used a frozen pillsbury crust and I just didn't like it as much as the non-frozen ones (which I love). It had a weird taste and texture comparitively.

We also did not use the deep dish that the recipe suggested, which we thought tasted delicious, but you should know that if you don't use a deep dish, you WILL have filling leftover. I poured it into mini muffin tins and it wasn't as good without the crust. We also omitted the nuts because none of us really like nuts in our cookies. Or pies that aren't pecan.

This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mimosa Cupcakes + Accoutrements

I know it's been awhile since last I blogged, but I'm just going to jump in with some new recipes. A few days ago, my parents and I went to brunch at my aunt's house. We were in charge of dessert. After much thought, I decided that mimosa cupcakes would be perfect for brunch being that mimosas are a brunch drink. It would also give me the chance to try out a candied orange peel recipe [for garnish] that I had my eye on. Photos were again taken on a phone. So, first:

1 box of white cake mix + the oil and eggs required from the box
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp orange zest

Prepare cake mix as directed on box, but not with the water. Put a tablespoon of orange juice in a wet measuring cup and then fill the rest with champagne. Usually, I think the cake mixes require 1 1/4 cup of liquid, so you should have that much of the champagne/orange juice mixture. Use that instead of water in the mix, beat as directed, and then scoop into lined muffin tins. We got 22 cupcakes, but ours were kind of big, so you'll probably get 24.

While that's cooking, time to start on:

Two navel oranges
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

Slice the tops off of the oranges and score the peel into quarters. The recipe I used said to just peel them like that, but I find that it's easier to trace the top and bottom under the pith with a small knife. The peel comes off really easily when you do that. Make sure, as you're carefully peeling off the peel, that you don't get any fruit in it. You can reserve the fruit for whatever you want. Our peeled oranges are still in the fridge. Once you have your quarters, cut them into 1/4 inch strips. I got about 45 strips.

Put the orange peels in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Return peels to saucepan and repeat the process. You can do this as many times as you want, depending on how you want the peels to taste. I repeated twice for a total of three blanchings because that's what it recommended and we all thought it came out really well.

After that, whisk the water and sugar together and bring to a simmer. Simmer for eight minutes before adding the orange peel. Make sure it's all covered by the sugarwater but DO NOT STIR. Just leave it be for 45 minutes. When it's done, it'll be "translucent," but really it'll just look like it's barely holding up. But it'll be really orange and it will smell fantastic.

Lay some parchment paper on a flat surface and make a thick layer of sugar. Take the orange peels out of the sugarwater [with a fork or something] and roll them in the sugar on the parchment paper. When all of the peels have been sugared, lay them on a cooling rack to cool for 4-5 hours or overnight. We made them around midnight, so overnight worked for us. The recipe said to save the syrup, but mine congealed and hardened, so I wouldn't recommend it. The finished product will look like this:

These were the cupcake garnish. Now, time to finsih our cupcakes with


7 tbsp room temperature butter
A lot of powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tbsp champagne
1/2 tbsp fresh orange juice

Mostly, I eyeballed this. The only measurement I know for certain is the butter. So, put the softened butter in a high-sided bowl and pour in a lot of powdered sugar. Beat on low speed to combine. When it starts to look like icing, add more sugar. If it never looks like icing and is just crumbly and combined, that's perfect for the liquid stage. Add the zest first and then a little bit of the champagne and a little bit of the orange juice. Blend to see where it gets you. Add more juice/champagne as needed, tasting each time to see if you need more zest/juice/champagne. When it tastes right and looks right, it is right.

Making sure the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost them. I used an icing bag and star tip for this result:

It tasted fantaaastic. And then, to make it more orange-y, we added the peel.

They were beautiful and perfect for a brunch. A huge hit.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Onion Soup--Finally

Preface: These pictures were all taken on a cell phone.

As I've mentioned, the onion soup was delicious and P and I enjoyed it very much. We ate it out of coffee mugs, since I have no oven-safe soup bowls and with shredded mozzerella instead of gruyere, since I bought the goat's milk brie and didn't want to buy a second gourmet cheese. So, as promised, here is the recipe + photos.

6-7 onions, cut in half and sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 cups of red wine
2 quarts of beef stock
1 tbsb dried thyme [or bouquet garni]
salt & pepper

Grated cheese, such as Gruyere or Mozzerella
Baguette or some crusty bread

YIELD: 6-8 servings in coffee mugs

Since the grocery's stock of larger onions for choosing looked sad and desolate, I ended up buying packaged Spanish onions. The package's onions were significantly smaller than what I'm used to, which is why I needed 6-7 onions. If your onions are large, you can probably get away with 4-5.

They should about fill a 2-quart bowl. I realize that this is a sort of vague measurement, but when you have a mountain of onions, you'll know that it's enough.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a stockpot at medium heat and add the onions. Stir while they sweat. Once they're sweating, you can let them sit for a bit while you mince the garlic. Stir occasionally. If it looks like they're burning or starting to burn, just stir/turn the heat down. The heat should never be much above medium. Cook them until they're mushy and start to lose their shape. They will also be sort of beer colored. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour, so if it's looking like nothing's happening, don't worry--it will. Add the garlic in as they are finishing off.

When the onions are caramelized and mushy, it's time to add the wine. I say 1 or 2 cups because it's not a specific measurement--just add enough wine to cover the onions. It will look a little bit like oniony-vomit.

Cook this down until most of the wine has evaporated and it's sort of wine-syrupy. Add the beef stock and stir. Add the thyme. Bring to a boil and cover. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, or longer. The longer it simmers, the better it will be. But I probably wouldn't let it go for more than an hour.

Since we had to eat it out of coffee mugs, there was no room for the crusty white bread that you might normally find in an onion soup. Therefore, we used leftover baguette from the grocery, which is significantly skinnier than most breads. I sliced it thinly and then baked it into croutons [350 degrees for about five to seven minutes]. When I served the soup, I put a crouton and a half into the mug and sprinkled a heap of mozzerella on top. The mugs went on a cookie sheet and under the broiler for two or three minutes.

Obviously, the mug in the right corner is the soup. The burnt looking slabs are the monte cristo/croque monsieurs. They were very simple, though I don't think I've quite mastered French toast yet, so they weren't perfect for me. 

RECIPE (sort of):
4 slices white bread
Two slices cheese
One egg
1/4 cup milk
Oil or butter, for the pan

YIELD: two servings

I say 'lunchmeat' with nothing more specific, because both a croque monsieur and a monte cristo are supposed to use ham, but ham's not my favorite and I reeeally hate lunchmeat ham. There's one option, and then I was going to use turkey, so that's another option. But then I ended up using chicken, so that's another. I'm sure roast beef would also be tasty. For cheese, I used provolone. I don't know what would be traditional, but probably swiss or something.

First, cut the crusts of the bread. Spread mayo or something on, if you want, but I didn't. Layer it with the meat and cheese and cover with the other bread. There should be two sandwiches. Cut them in half so that you have four smallish rectangles. In a bowl, whisk together the milk and egg. Heat butter or oil in a pan at medium/medium-high heat. Dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture on both sides. Let drip for a second and then throw onto the pan. Fry until golden. Serve.

I have also been told that dipping the sandwiches in eggnog and then deep frying is a good idea, but as I have not tested this myself, I cannot vouch for it.

Tomorrow: Chocolate meringue cupcakes. Yummm.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This is Not About Being on Fire.

So, the other day, we thought it would be a good idea to buy a cactus pear:

They were an ingredient on Chopped, in the dessert basket, and everyone seemed to enjoy the desserts prepared. Also, on one of those nights where P and I found ourselves watching infomercials, there was one for some health drink that relieves joint pain because of the Power of Cactus Pear Juice. Also also, it was only 70 cents. So we figured 'why not?'

I had bought one previously and it was still rotting in my fridge, so I decided to cut this one instantly. I took the skin off and sliced it up, figuring that the seeds were edible since they took up about 95% of the fruit itself, as you can see from the above picture. It's also a very pretty color and looks very juicy, so I was expecting to have a delightful, star fruit-esque experience and thus be able to purchase cheap cactus pears forever and be super healthy because of it.

Buuut no. That is never the case. Instead of tasting delicious, the cactus pear was like a non-juicy, much less flavorful watermelon. The 'pit,' which is edible but surrounded by a membrane, was filled with tiny, hard, unchewable seeds and had even less flavor/juice than the outer fruity/melony layer [which was only about 1 millimeter thick].

So I decided to fix it by sauteeing the pear slices in butter and sugar. I thought that was what they had done on Chopped and that it might help it. It looked promising--the pear was getting redder and juicier, which is usually a good sign. Unfortunately, the finished product was no tastier than the first. I think it was even less sweet, somehow, despite the fact that it was half sugar by then. It also tasted like zucchini and now, after all of them had been cooked, the seeds were even harder to chew. Needless to say, we threw it out.

Moral of story: Don't buy a cactus pear. Ever.

No title.

The onion soup was delicious, the croque monsieurs so-so. Pictures/recipes/everything once I get all of the pictures loaded.

As for other news: Today, I set myself on fire and ruined my favorite sweatshirt cooking dinner. Excellent.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cheese shopping + Recipe hunting

Because the Rabbi at the temple for which I work told us to, E and I went shopping at Earth Fare. I was expecting a cute little market, which it sort of was, but it was actually MUCH MORE AMAZING than that. I recommend going, if at all possible, because it was an adorable version of Whole Foods [although, apparently, they are in competition and so I shouldn't say that]. One thing I will say for it is that there were SO MANY SAMPLES, E and I thought we would die of joy. There was even a basket of free bits of bar soap that smelled like spearmint.

But the best part, aside from the various samples around the store, was the giant cheese section. And not only was it a giant cheese section with a sample of delicious port wine cheese from Ireland, but anyone can sample any cheese they want FOR FREE. E and I tasted a goat's milk brie, which I ended up buying because I think it was the best brie I've ever had. She also sampled a bleu cheese, but I'm not a fan. She seemed to enjoy it, though.

And on the note of me actually cooking, I'm making French onion soup + Croque Monsieurs [possibly Monte Cristos] tonight. Pictures + recipes to follow. Only pictures if it turns out disasterous, though.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Test Post, aka the 'About Me' Post

I haven't written a blog in at least three years, so this should be fun. This is a blog about me and my adventures in the kitchen, also including things that other people have made. There will be pictures and recipes and funny stories and, hopefully, people will reply with the same. AND NOW, in list form, I'll get to the interesting bits.

1. My name is Bee. Not really, but that's what I'll go by.
2. I am 20. Recently 20. My birthday is in October but, should this blog last that long, everyone will get a reminder.
3. I have a boyfriend [henceforth 'P'] and he's part ninja, part girl. He cleans up my kitchen disasters and can do everything.
4. He is the one that is forced to taste everything, so many opinions in this blog will be his, if they're not mine.
5. If they're not either of ours, it will be my friend 'E' [female].
6. I have no siblings.
7. I love cheese.
8. I hate ice cream. Mostly.
9. My current experimental fix is candy. My success rate is thus far low.
10. I am a creative writing major. Also, classic civilizations, but that's pretty useless.
11. My culinary idol is Ina Garten. I love her.

1. I just want to write about my stuff. So the goal is to reach people that will actually use and enjoy my recipes and stories.
2. I want to meet Ina Garten. That's also a goal.
3. I will update as often as possible/whenever something awesome happens, food-wise.

Sooo, that's about it. I hope everyone enjoys because I KNOW I WILL.