Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kate's Maple Cheesecake

Kate's been itching for a maple cheesecake since Thanksgiving dinner when she found out I like making cheesecakes. I finally made one for her birthday last week. Thanks for being so patient!

I used this recipe from the interweb. The crust, which was made with the syrup, caramelized beautifully and really gave a nice flavor to the cheesecake as a whole. The filling, however, only had a subtle maple flavor, but that was easily corrected with a drizzle of syrup on top (with fresh whipped cream and pecans, of course!). I used Wisconsin Grade B pure maple syrup instead of the Vermont that it calls for in the recipe, so I'm not sure if that's what made the difference. I don't think so, but if anyone is a maple syrup expert, let me know!

Happy birthday again, Kate! I really enjoyed making and eating this cheesecake! And thanks for the beautiful picture!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mountain Dew Cupcakes

That's right.
Last night I embraced, however briefly, that most citrusy and sugary of all soda drinks.
The product that I have frequently refered to as "white trash water" ... Mountain Dew.
I stumbled upon the recipe at quirky cupcake

Now, take note, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with drinking Mountain Dew, many of those nearest and dearest to me frequently imbibe the sugary substance with some frequency. I'm just not a huge fan.
I'm also not ashamed to admit that the little citrus sugar bombs didn't go over as well as their namesake. Oh, people ate them, but I will say once more, that my co-workers aren't the most discerning lot when it comes to their tastebuds. For the record the cake part was pretty tasty, but I think the icing was just a little too Mountain Dew/Lemon/Limey for the crowd around here. The recipe does involve lemon zest, lime zest, lemon juice, lime juice, lemon extract and Mountain Dew. So that much citrus related flavor could get to anyone.

Sara here was a good sport. Choking down some more of the radioactive green frosting just so I could take a photo. And doing that even in her current extremely sickly state. Thanks Sara! You're a pal!
What kinda cupcakes do you want?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Holly's 'Happy' Cupcakes

Why are these cupcakes so happy? Well, there are a few reasons. First, it's Holly's birthday. Happy birthday, Holly! Second, they're pineapple right side up cupcakes. And vegan, at that. That makes a lot of people happy! How does it taste, Holly?

--I think she likes it--

After I had uploaded the cupcake pictures on my computer, I was playing around with the settings on Picasa a bit and got this. What do you think? I enjoy it greatly :-)

Oh yeah, and I found the recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Props to them, these were super tasty!

S'mores Cuppies!

Normally I am all about the cookies, but for the past week or so, I've been enjoying looking for some unique or at the very least unusual cupcake recipes. I combined a couple different ones for these mini graham cracker cupcakes topped with marshmallow creme icing and grated Hershey's chocolate.

I wouldn't say the little dears taste exactly like s'mores, but they are pretty dang delicious in their own right. This recipe is def. something I would make again. The recipe for the graham cracker cupcakes came from Gigi Cakes. However, I didn't use her marshmallow icing. It was an incredibly involved and I liked the recipe I found anyway. I don't remember where I acquired it, but it is basically a butter cream icing with the addition of marshmallow creme.
I think the next time I make these I will try some full sized cupcakes and inject the marshmallow filling and then top them with chocoalte icing and see how that works out.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Make these:
Go here now. These are delicious. It may seem like there is too much butter or too much sugar. There isn't. They are fabulous. Tiny mini cupcakes that taste just like pecan pie filling. I even added some mini chocolate chips to half of mine to make derby pie cupcakes...for those of you that know what derby pie is.
Oh my. I just don't have the words to tell you how awe inspiring these are. I made them after Easter lunch yesterday. The recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen mini cuppies....They were all gone before everyone left my house. They were so tasty I had to make a double batch yesterday afternoon to take to work this morning. I needed to share these. Also, I was hoping their delectability would inspire everyone at work not to be so angry. (The verdict is still out on if that worked or not.)
In case you are interested, I got to the recipe via Bake or Break

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lucky Charms Muffins...not so lucky

During my perusal of several food blogs I came across a recipe for Lucky Charms Muffins/Cupcakes. Wow. Cute. Adorable. I love Lucky Charms! Were all thoughts I had while reading the recipe and post. Those were quickly followed by. I'd love to try those, but there is NO way I am digging out all those little marshmallows. I'd just end up eating them as I went along. Then, less than 24 hours later I was at a local bulk foods store, Pat's Bulk Food. (An original name, I know. But she carries a lot of stuff in bulk and occassionally for less money than you can get them at a grocery store. Plus, I prefer supporting someone that is local if possible.) There, on the shelf at Pat's, which I have been to many times, I found something I had never seen there before. A bag full of the colorful shaped marshmallows, just like they have in the cereal! Woo! I can make Lucky Charms cupcakes without manhandling all of that cereal!

Dehydrated marshmallow bits! An unwieldy and unattractive name to cover all of that deliciousness!
I thought the batter was a little off and that there didn't seem to be quite the sugar ratio I associate with tasty baked goods. But I rationalized that the marshmallow bits are pretty dang sweet on their own.
Oh dear. Don't you hate it when I rationalize?
Because when I do, I end up with Lucky Charms Muffins...and I mean MUFFINS. Nothing remotely resembling cupcakes.

Seriously. Katie, my baking assistant that night and all-around fabulous person, and I didn't even bother coming up with icing. Icing could not help. No matter what type we would have used. Jiffy cornbread is far sweeter than these. The only hope for them might be adding some butter and chili or bean soup.
We also tried amping up the marshmallow content...and that was a no go as well.

Overall, cute and an adorable idea, but now I have to find something to do with these other than feed birds and wait for them to poop blue and green and pink on the cars that are always parked in our lot. If I ever purchase additional dehydrated marshmallow bits (I gave the rest to Katie in a fit of depression over the sad sad muffins) I will def. attempt it with a more cupcake-esque recipe.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Carrot Cake Cupcakes!

Oh. Dear. These were tasty. I don't even like carrot cake and these were tasty. The cake recipe came from, of course, The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

The recipe ended up making about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen decent sized cupcakes and I had plenty of icing and some left over I kept trying to give away to my grandmother. I will state that I didn't slather it on. If you like tons and tons of icing, you might run out. While the icing was a delicious addition to the cupcakes, they were tasty all by themselves. They also had none of the negative attributes that I usually associate with carrot cake.
Try this recipe. It was worth the time it took to grate up a bunch of carrots at home.
Oh and if you do make this, I think I ended up using six or so average sized carrots.

I was going to make these for Katie, since she always complains that I never bake anything for her. Then, she gets to Madison to tell me that she is making this carrot cake recipe for Easter with her family too. Boo. I still ended up giving her some of the tasty cupcakeness. I was also planning on giving some of them to Laura over the holiday weekend, but she never managed to pull herself away from her new (2 wk old) nephew. So no cupcake delightfullness for her! More for the random people at work!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Strawberry Pecan Swirls

Lies! Lies! Nothing but LIES! A recipe specifically states do not grease the pan. You think that there would be a reason. In this particular instance I think the reaon was that they wanted me to suffer and curse and get angry because the freaking cookies stuck to the pan like none other.

Oh well.
Strawberry pecan swirls. The dough was pretty tasty. I might use this recipe to practice doing the rolls again. Obviously these didn't turn out all that circular and not all that intact either. Next time. Def. using parchment paper.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Another photographic interlude: Meet Hazel!

This is Hazel. Hazel is my sugar glider. Hazel is freaking adorable.
Love her. Give her apples and yogurt drops.
Just don't stick your hand in her face or grab her while she is sleeping.
She will make a horrible angry noise, similar to this.
I don't recommend having the volume up if you decide to watch that.
But she is adorable and rarely makes that noise anymore. I promise

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A brief photographic interlude

Jill and I both previously referenced our little, brief, short, not at all of an excruciating drive to Ames, Iowa via Chicago. (i.e. to Evan via Laura and Allen.) You witnessed the baked goods.
Anyone who knows me at all or has ever seen my facebook/computer knows that I usually take pictures of just about everything all the time. I *heart* my camera very much. However, it was cold that weekend and I was sick. Not really icky sick. But def. not in the mood to lug around the camera and harass people into posing sick. I was already hauling around a variety of over the counter medications and might as well have been mainlining Tylenol Cold and Fever. That being said. Here are roughly five of the eight photos I took that weekend.

Hello Evan! Jill and Xian love you!
We enjoy visiting you in Iowa.
But it couldn't be said that we are displeased about the fact that this will probably be our last time visiting you at Iowa State.

Evan's former roommate Wayne. Wayne of U of I, ISG and Circle K. Wayne of a variety of other things as well. Just Wayne. He was in Ames too, visiting Kacy. Kacy is a very funny girl that Jill and I both enjoyed meeting a great deal. We had dinner with them at the Great Plains Sauce and Dough Company.
Jill and I had been there before on our last visit to Iowa. I like the boy that works there taking orders at the counter. He had a funny hat that I enjoyed. It had ear flaps and was furry. Also, when he announced that pizzas were ready he did so in this highly amusing game show host voice. I know that not a single one of you care, but it was amusing and I like people who take the time/energy to make their job fun or at least funny.
Anyway, the whole point of this rather long winded and not at all to the point description is that we didn't see much of Kacy or Wayne, but this is where we assume they were while we were preparing to drive back to Indiana.

Isn't Jilly cute? The sky always seems so blue when we are in Ames. It makes for pretty pictures.

Awww...time to say goodbye! I'd post the picture that we took of the three of us together, but frankly it was flattering to no one and as much as I love both of them dearly. I think you can just imagine the three of us together. Evan was in the middle. Jill on the right. Me on the left. We were standing in front of Evan's building. The RAV was in the corner of the picture just a bit. There you go. Crystal clear I'm sure.

There was also a picture of Jill and I together, but who hasn't seen one of those. Plus, her eyes were closed. Evan didn't zoom in very much. I say the least. So none of that for you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Amy's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

There is nothing that my friend Amy loves more than chocolate. Well, except for chocolate and peanut butter together. I saw this recipe online, and knew that it would be perfect for her birthday!

The cake in the recipe is very moist because of the sour cream. It has a nice not-too-sweet chocolate flavor that pairs nicely with the very rich peanut butter frosting (not icing!). I had a feeling that the cake might not be sweet enough for Amy, so I made 2 test cupcakes -- one exactly like the recipe and one with mini chocolate chips added. After some serious deliberation with Dan, we decided that the chipped cupcakes would be the way to go. Some other notes on this recipe, if you plan to use it: Only bake the cupcakes for 18 minutes, not the 20-25 recommended. Also, this recipe made 26 average-sized cupcakes for me, not the 14-15 it says. I still had enough frosting for all the cupcakes, and some extra to put on Amy's super frosted cupcake. Oh, and make sure you have some milk on hand -- you'll need it!

Happy birthday, Amy!

Cherry Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I got my inspiration for these cookies from my usual weekday breakfast -- Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate granola bars. I don't usually like to eat much early in the morning, so these are just perfect for me. They also make nice afternoon snacks!

For the cookies, I just made a basic oatmeal cookie dough recipe and added Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips and some dried cherries. I don't even remember how much of each I put in (half a bag of the chips and probably 1/4 - 1/3 cup of cherries, I think), but the ratio was definitely off. The chocolate chips were a bit big for the cookies so the cherries were overpowered. Don't get me wrong, they were still tasty! But next time I think I would use smaller, if not mini, chocolate chips, and more cherries! I love fruit in my cookies!

Evan's Earl Grey Cookies

I often ask around the Math Department for interesting recipe ideas. My lovely Japanese friend Yukie recommended that I make Earl Grey cookies. I personally thought she was crazy when she told me this! Tea cookies do not sound tasty! But, I decided I would at least look up the recipe. I found one online here, and it had such good reviews, I decided I would try it.

Now, every time I see, smell, or think about Earl Grey tea, my dear friend Evan comes to mind. Evan loves tea, especially Earl Grey tea. I was originally going to make these for Evan's birthday/New Year's, but things got hectic around the holidays. So I was thinking I would just mail some to him in Iowa. Unfortunately, someone (*cough* Wayne *cough*) decided to steal my idea (the nerve!) and make these cookies for Evan first.

Now, I don't know how Wayne's cookies tasted, but I knew that I needed to make my cookies extra special. How would I do this? Why, with orange zest, of course! I substituted 1 tsp of orange zest for the vanilla and 1 tsp orange juice for the water. It was a delightful combination! I think you should make these cookies just so you can experience the smell of them baking. O M G, my apartment smelled so beautiful every time I opened the oven. And, they tasted amazing. I really could not stop eating them. They weren't terribly sweet, they were more like a shortbread than anything. I really wish I would've tried them with a hot mug of Earl Grey, but they were gone too quickly for that!

I hope I don't get in trouble for saying this, but I'm pretty sure Evan liked my cookies better than yours, Wayne. (just saying!) And Yukie told me that my cookies were better than the original ones she had tried in San Francisco. Mission accomplished! Anybody have any other challenges?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Baking for Bowling

So Robin bowls. Tuesdays and occassionally on the weekends, like this weekend when she was bowling in the City Tournament. Apparently they have a bake sale then too. I was roped into baking.

Cranberry Chocolate Chip. I had made these before. They were alright then. They were alright now. Nothing spectacular, but mom wanted them too.

Snickerdoodles. They were poofy. Dang poofy. I don't like poofy doodles. Just so you know. It didn't seem worth taking a picture of the exact same cookies I have made over nine batches of since January.

Butterscotch Brickle Cookies
These were pretty good overall. They ended up being huge. They were a refrigerator cookie out of the Taste of Home Cookie Book. I added some butterscotch chips to the pecans and heath brickle to half of the dough. They made them infinitely better. The chips seemed to keep the cookies softer after baking.

Cream Cheese Brownies.
Eh. Just Eh. Another recipe from the Taste of Home Cookie Book. (Obviously a misnomer, since these were not, in fact, cookies.) I also tried baking these in the microwave/half-time/convection oven. Not a good idea. The outer brownies were completely done and burning while the center was still gooey and jiggling arond uncontrollably. It wan't pretty. Neither is this picture of the remaining center brownies that I refused to give to the bake sale.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pumpkin Chip Cookies

These were really pretty tasty. They didn't have much sugar in them at all and no butter. They were essentially pumpkin, flour, oil and chocolate chips. They were really cakey which I don't usually like, but somehow the pumpkin and chips made the poofy okay.

E.T. even broke down and tried some of these...and liked them too!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Andes Mint Chip Cookies

I *heart* Andes Mints. Just the original. Not the psycho cherry or whatever "holiday" flavors they come out with. Just Andes Mints. Mmmm...delicious:-) Awhile back Kroger carried an Andes Mint Chip Ice was freaking amazing...and for a good month straight you could always find some of it in our refrigerator. Sadly or fortuitously depending on how you look at it...that ice cream is no longer.
Anyway...Andes Mints now makes Andes Mints baking chips...I was all for it. I decided to go with the recipe that comes straight off the back of the bag.

They all turned into these evenly sized perfectly adorable little cookies...that weren't my favorite. I know. I just said how much I love Andes Mints...but these cookies just really didn't do it for me. I think I could do a better job replicating the flavor of Andes Mints in cookie form than these did simply by adding the chips to a cookie. But they were cute, and Barb did love them.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Evan's Baked Goods

I can't convey to you exactly how much of the car was taken up with baked goods/candy on our way out to Iowa. Suffice it to say, it was a very significant portion between Jill and I. I made some snickerdoodles and a divinity peanut butter roll for Evan after his most recent comment on how my meringue drops looked like divinity. I've never actually made any kinda of candy before, but this one wasn't that difficult actually. It was Mark's recipe, so I will probably try it again too and try to get the peanut butter to stick a bit better to make a more attractive spiral.

Also, for some inexplicable reason, these snickerdoodles puffed up. All my other snickerdoodles in the past three months, and there have been quite a few, have been flatter and a little crunchy on the outside and chewey on the inside. I kinda liked them that way.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Allen's Cookies

So, in case Laura's cookies didn't tip you off, Jill and I made a pit stop in Chicago on our way to visit Evan in Iowa. This pit stop included Ms. Laura Beth and of course the ever fabulous Allen. Both of them would have committed violence if we hadn't brought baked goods. Laura got her white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and Allen got a bunch of different things. Jilly made him several items, which I'm sure she will post soon, or attach here. I made him the cutest cookies on the face of the planet, with the least taste imaginable. They were bland but they were adorable. And let's face it, who cares about substance anyway? (KIDDING)

See? Adorable?

I also re-visited the orange/chocolate shortbread cookies for Al, who has been harassing me about them for awhile. I tried making them larger, but I think next time I will stick with the tiny bite size cookies, they are more sturdy and don't crumble as much.

See? Tasty?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Laura Beth's White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

I will never understand the fascination with the white chocolate or the macadamia nut. White Chocolate isn't even chocolate and macadamia nuts tend to be the most expensive nut with the least tasty value. That said, these turned out pretty well for what they were and I hope that Laura liked hers. This picture is horrible, mainly because I left all of the cookies in Chicago with Ms. Laura Beth except for the ones that I had kept at home for Joyce. Also, monochromatic cookies do not photograph well. White Chocolate. White Nuts. White Dough = White Blob on a background.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Baking without eggs

I ran out of eggs and I still had cookies that I needed to get done.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, egg-free

These look disgusting, but they tasted fine. They were a little dry for my tastes but they were made with oatmeal and without eggs, so that is understandable.

Amish Sugar Cookies Re-visited. These. Need. Icing.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Barb's Cherry Slice Cookies

Chopped Maraschino Cherries. Crushed Walnuts. Cherry Juice. Lemon Juice. Cinammon.

These were just alright in my opinion. I say that, but I didn't actually eat one. I hate cherries. They were refrigerator cookies which accounts for their slightly lumpy appearance. I haven't mastered the whole cutting semi-frozen cookie dough rolls without mashing the cookies yet. Whether they were tasty or not, they smelled flipping amazing while baking. Delicious. I'm not typically a fan of either cherry or cinammon, but mix the two together and the smell was amazing.

I don't think Wheezy approved of the smell. He kept staring out the window, begging for some fresh air.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cranberry Chip

Yumm. Dried cranberries are tasty. Dried cranberries get tastier when mixed with semi-sweet and white chocolate chips.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Dan's Blue Hearts

Dan, Connie's husband, wanted some iced sugar cookies. I thought I would try out a new sugar cookie recipe. These were for poofy and more cake-like cookies. Frankly I was fairly indifferent. But this recipe was easier as far as the roll-out and cut-out portion of the baking event goes.

You could go with some depressing EmmyLou Harris "Icy Blue Heart" lyrics for these...but I tend to think they look more smurf blue than cold dead heart blue. Just me though. These had buttercream icing.

But, some of them had a really soft peanut butter icing. It was tasty, but it didn't set up well.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce!

So, this is not technically baking once again, but it is tasty and if I knew how to make sourdough bread it would have involved baking. I could have lied to you. told you I baked the sourdough bread instead of going to both Kroger and Wal-Mart to find some last night. I did not lie though. Here I am telling you the truth that I am a cheater and this isn't baking, despite the obvious presence of bread and something made in the oven. It is tasty. Also, I love whisky...erm...sauce. Whisky sauce. It is delightful.
The recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks