Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pistachio and Chocolate

Today's post will be brief, as I have a little person tugging on my jeans, signing "more" for a piece of bread (the stand in for the cupcake he originally asked for).

I wanted to try another new cupcake in time for the boy's game night. On a fairly regular basis, my brother, husband, and brother in law get together to play board games on a week night. It's fun for them and a quiet night for whichever wife isn't at the host house.

Tonight, I decided to send a manly cupcake. Earthy colors, nothing pink or frilly. Salty and sweet, but most importantly, delicious.

Again, I wanted to make something that didn't require a special grocery trip, so I searched the pantry and found that I had a bag of pistachios. With that, the decision was made.

And the decision was delicious.

The recipe for the cupcake and frosting follow - I had to shell my pistachios, which is time consuming and starts to hurt your fingers after a while, so I would recommend getting them already shelled. Also, mine were salted, which I didn't mind since I like the salty/sweet combo. But if you aren't a fan of the salt, buy unsalted.

Pistachio Cupcakes (Makes 24)

1 c. unsalted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 cups unsalted, shelled pistachios, chopped into a coarse powder
2 1/2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
1 c. milk
a handful of pistachios for garnish

Heat oven to 350.

Cream your butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat till smooth.

In separate bowl combine your dry ingredients. Add a cup at a time to the butter/sugar mixture. Alternate adding milk and dry ingredients. Add extract and pistachio powder.

Pour batter into cupcake liners (in pan) 3/4 full. BAke 20-25 minutes or until the cupcake springs back slightly to the touch.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (will frost 12 GENEROUSLY, or 24 lightly)

1/3 cup butter
8 oz cream cheese
3-4 cups sifted confectioners sugar (go with 4 if you want to have stiff piping frosting...I used 3)
1/2 cup cocoa (I prefer dark chocolate cocoa...if you can afford good stuff, get it. otherwise, hershey's DARK is the way to go)

Cream butter and cheese. Add sifted sugar and cocoa.

If you like pistachios, you MUST try these.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Your Weekly Cupcake

I've never been much of a baker. While I have always loved to cook, there was always less occasion to bake, and it didn't draw me like cooking. I know it has everything to do with the exacting nature of the act. Measurements needing to be just so for things to turn out, leaving little room for experimentation. Or at least that is how I saw it.

When I would bake, since I did it so infrequently, I didn't have any of the proper tools to make it easier, so it made me dislike it even more. Some time ago, when it looked like the hubs was employed again (but turned out to be a disaster) we purchased a stand mixer. A beautiful, bright yellow stand mixer. Combine this new "toy" with a diminishing hatred for math and everything exact, and you get a new interest in baking.

The other day, I posted a Facebook status asking people what flavor cupcake, if they could have any, even if it didn't exist. The comments came flooding in. Which inspired me to try making a new cupcake every week. It doesn't have to be "new" (e.g. I can make red velvet if I like) but it has to be from scratch, cupcake to frosting.

Sunday, I set about making my first one using ingredients I already had in the house. Being that its actually cold in Florida right now, I really liked the idea of a spice cupcake. I love ciders and mulled wine this time of year, and I knew I had plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg and even some crystallized ginger in the pantry, so this seemed like a doable idea.

Now, I am not a big frosting person. I have a tendency to scrape it off of cake when offered a slice. I DO love cream cheese frosting, but outside of that, I don't know of many others, so I thought this would be a really good area for experimentation. Plus, pairing a flavored frosting with the spice cake sounded like fun.

Having been sick the past week or so, I knew that we had plenty of citrus in the house, which inspired me to create an orange buttercream frosting. I love using citrus when I am mulling wine, so it seemed like it would be a good pairing.

In the end, the cupcakes were tasty, but the frosting is what really surprised me. The orange buttercream was awesome and so simple. A perfect fall treat (even if it is winter. :) )

Photo taken without contacts - forgive the quality

Spice Cupcake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg and/or allspice
chopped crystallized ginger (2 T or more depending on how much you like ginger)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, ginger and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.

Orange Buttercream Frosting

1/4 C butter
2 C confectioners sugar
orange rind (1 T)
3-4 T orange juice

Cream butter and sugar. Add rind and OJ.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


No, this is not a post about the movie (which I have yet to see, and probably won't see it in theaters).

My sister recently had friends over for a movie night that consisted of the original TRON, and being that I had signed up to bring a dessert, I thought I would get creative and make lightbike cookies.

Before showing you the results, I think it is only fair to mention that I have NEVER frosted cookies. Piping bags are completely foreign to me, so the learning curve on this was STEEP.

And yet, I persisted.

Not only did I frost and pipe these bad boys all on my own, I had to create a template for the shape. (Print out picture, transfer it to cardboard, trace in cookie dough around cardboard...)

So here they are, in all their glory:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sloane - Winter Issue!

It's that time again. Sloane's Winter Issue is here!

Check it out.

And check me out - page 80. I promise I'll find something to be bitter and snarky about in the new year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unscheduled Hiatus

It's me again. Trying to come up with excuses for not writing in my blog.

Some tell me that having a 16 month old (that's right, he is that old now) is a good excuse to neglect most long as you aren't neglecting your kid.

(As I start to type this, Jonas comes up, yanks on a USB cable and comes dangerously close to toppling my laptop and Vitamin C water, then cries when I tell him cables are not toys. This is a prime example of why I have not blogged.)

And I have to admit, being home all day with little interaction with anyone who isn't the kid or the dog, sometimes I feel I have little to write about. Life observations tend to be saved for when I need to write a new rant for Sloane (plug plug plug), and quick quips have become Facebook statuses and Tweets.

But, I still feel the need to keep people updated.

So, first, the boy. And by that I mean Jonas.

Jonas with his cousin

As I stated, he is 16 months old now. He is very active - always trying new things...climbing, sliding across the floor - everything. He seems to add new words to his vocabulary every day and lately has a strong interest in numbers and letters. More than his cars or stuffed animals. Everywhere we go you can hear him suddenly yell, "Nuh! (translation: "number" which also refers to letters) Once he spots a sign of any kind, he then insists that you read the letters and numbers to him.

The cool thing is that he actually seems to retain the information. The other day I asked him to go get me a three. He runs off to the other side of the room, away from where most of his foam letters are, and returns with a big number three in his hands. I know that is what we all do, we learn and retain, but its just amazing to me to see the process from the beginning, ya' know?

For those of you that don't get to see him on a regular basis, he is also quite the entertainer. He likes to dance and will intentionally do things for a laugh. Don't know where he got the need to be a people pleaser from. :/

"I do my own stunts"

There are probably a lot of other things about him I could tell you, but I guess that is where regular blogging would be more handy.

In non-Jonas news, the hubs and I are still jobless. That would be 16 months for him and nearly 12 for me. We are still doing our best to look at everything positively (how awesome its been for Jonas to have both parents home with him during this early part of his life) but also realistically (like planning what we need to do if/when we lose our house...which is becoming more of a reality). Most days I can still remain calm and composed about it. Other days the anxiety gets to me. But there are fewer of those thankfully.

The hubs is working on some of his certifications in an effort to help him find work, so the hope is that when the new year rolls in, he'll have the qualifications and confidence to apply for some positions he wouldn't have before. And what happens between now and the spring may determine whether or not I choose to go back to school. (Yep. That's a whole other post for another day)

So there you have it.

Current Mood: Blech. I'm sick!
Currently Listening to: J read letters off of a picture to Jonas.