Monday, December 27, 2010

I made fancy cookies

I made some sugar cookies with royal icing.

You know the ones you see on all the food blogs and the pretty Martha Stewart magazines:
 Well I made my own. They weren't as hard as you'd think. It's all in the icing!

Take a look at this fanciness


And some more fanciness


And even more fanciness! (Are you sick of the word fancy yet?)


Sometimes, I impress myself. 

Okay, enough chatter, you want to know how to make these wonderful cookies? Here you go!

1. Make Sugar Cookies
 
Ingredients: 
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Directions:
1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill.

4. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.

5. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

2. Make Royal Icing
Also by my hero, Alton Brown

Ingredients: 
3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions:
In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Ready for the icing tutorial?
3. Gather materials
(Feel free to use pastry bags or even ziplock bags with a tiny tiny tip cut out instead of the bottle)
4. Divide icing, color to preference



5. Outline cookies, let dry


6. Flood outline


7. (Optional) Add Decorations


8. EAT!


Tutorial and pictures from
Cupcakes and Cashmere

Check out some more fabulous, easy tutorials at: 
Pioneer Woman 
Bakerella
Brown Eyed Baker
Annie's Eats 
Sweetopia

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Merry Christmas

Dearest Readers,

As I sit here in my reindeer pajamas waiting for the rest of my family to wake up (oh how times have changed!) I am thinking of you. Though few, you are fabulous and wonderful and bring me so much joy. So in turn I wish you all a very fabulous, wonderful, joyful Christmas! I hope it is (or was:0) full of family and good cheer.

So from my family to yours,
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Actual Muffin Recipe

I have a secret.

I'm a little embarassed to tell you this.

I really hope you stick around after I confess this to you...

I have never made muffins before.
I have never made muffins before.
I HAVE NEVER MADE MUFFINS BEFORE!! 

PHEW! It felt good to finally got that off my chest. Lil Ms. Muffin Pan has never made a muffin in her life. I hope you still love me cause all that is about to change.

I made blueberry muffins tonight with my brother!

This is my brother and I working hard.
We are matching. It was on accident. It's kinda cute though. My butt looks flat. Not so cute.
I asked both my dad and mom to take photos. Most of them came out like this.
Or this.
And finally this. Nice one, Mom! I still love the fact that we match. Go Sun Devils!

OH I forgot something! These are for the Station 19 Fire House. My brother is going to be a firefighter. He's kinda awesome. He has already passed the EMT test, so he's officially an EMT. He went to Arizona State. *See Devils shout out.* That's beside the point. On point, he is taking these yummy muffins to the guys over there at Station 19. I hope they enjoy them. Go Firefighters!

Oh finally, these were ridiculously easy. Easy Peasy. Okay, that's all. Recipe time.

Easy-Peasy Firefighter Impressing Blueberry Muffins
Recipe from AllRecipes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Makes about 6 large muffins

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. They will be fluffier and have bigger tops if you keep the mixing to a minimum. Fold in the blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

GAWH! I'm tired of being so blue! I let the fact that I was bummed out overshadow the fact that just a couple days ago I was a BIG WINNER! They says every cloud has a silver lining. Well in this case, my cloud has THREE!


Silver Lining #1:
Last week I got an email from the one and only Jenny from Picky-Palate saying I won her giveaway! In that giveaway I am to receive:



A set of 2 Members Mark (Sam's CLub Brand) LED Candle and Stocking Holders

A set of 4 Mikasa wine glasses

A Racahel Ray 3 piece Stowaway Potlucker

A kitchen Aid Roaster with a Removable Rack

AND A gift of membership to Sam's Club ($40 value)



I am pretty excited. My boyfriend and I already have a membership but no worries! A new friend I "met" through picky-palate, who happens to be my good friends cousin (SMALL WORLD), is the lucky recipient of that membership!
~)o(~)o(~)o(~
Silver Lining #2:
The very next day, as I was playing around on my fabulous flirty apron swap website I saw a new post for the Apron Giveaway Winner.


GUESS WHO THAT LUCKY GIRL WAS!? 


Meeee!! Yipeeee!!




Isn't it adorable!? I am so excited to get this apron, along with the long awaited apron from my partner *wags finger* naughty naughty Crystal! hehe I'm kidding. But it is a nice coincidence!


~)o(~)o(~)o(~
Silver Lining #3:
Can you even stand it!? There's more! After all of this excitement, my boyfriend, seeing I still needed a bit more of pick me up (yeah yeah I know, what a whiner!) he insisted I open my christmas gift early. I think he was more excited to open it than I was. He kept giving me hints to throw me off the track "You're gonna have to plug it in and charge it up!" A NEW COMPUTER?? "It's small." JEWELRY?? "It's made out of wood."*tilts head*... a baseball bat??


Well it was not a new computer, or jewelry, or a baseball bat, thank god. Hehe it was, drum roll please:


A NEW SEWING MACHINE!


And not just any sewing machine, a Singer 2010 professional w/ computer screen! Oh. My. QWAGFDKHDG! hehe And look at all the fun things it comes with:
Good things really do come in 3s! Here are some fun pictures of us playing with my snazzy new machine. There are mostly pictures of my boyfriend playing around with it. I squeezed in a couple minutes on it too! hehe I told you he was excited about it!









I really am a lucky girl. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. I have lots of people in my life that love me and want to make me happy. My boyfriend is a great example.

And now I am sending you all my good luck vibes cause its about time I share them! I am hoping each and every one of you get all that you hope for this holiday season. And that you stop and appreciate what you already have! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Apologies

I haven't been around for awhile. Personal stuff. If you've ever had a falling out with a best friend then you know how I feel. You life has changed in a big way and also everything is the same. You still share the same friends, live in the same town perhaps, or maybe your boyfriends are best friends :0( And even if things have gone past reconciliation, it still sucks big time.

But that doesn't mean I should stay away so long. I mean, after all, isn't that what a blog is all about, expressing your feelings, ideas, thoughts, and concerns? If it isn't or you aren't interested, I apologize for this emo post.

To make up for my absences, and my whining, here are some "I'm sorry cupcakes" to show you how I care. Cause I really do.

"I'm Sorry" White Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
I don't have a picture of these bad boys because as soon as I made them, they were eaten! Crazy fast! So this picture is from Big Oven. Recipe is a more simplified version.


Ingredients:
Cake - 
1 box White Cake Mix (I used Pillsbury so the following three ingredients may vary depending on brand)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
mini liners

Frosting - 
1 can cream cheese frosting
OR
2 8oz packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter
1 CUP SUGAR, not 2, trust me
1 tsp vanilla exract
And 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

(The reason why I gave both is because the can of cream cheese frosting is very sweet, with the raspberries added it can be a bit overwhelming. However, it makes for a thicker frosting. The one from scratch is going to be less sweet but much runnier. Experiment around to see what works for you. Remember adding more powdered sugar will help make it thicker.)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375f. Add all the cake ingredients to your bowl and mix.

2. Line your tray with mini paper liners and fill cup 2/3 of the way full.

3. Mix the ingredients for the frosting together in a separate bowl. Put frosting in the fridge.

4. Bake cupcakes at for 15-20 and let them cool completely.

5. When cool, pipe or spread frosting on the cupcakes.

6. TaDa!

*If anyone has any advice or personal experiences losing friends, let me hear it. I'm still trying to figure things out...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Crafting Party & Appetizer

I hosted a small gathering at my house for a Holiday Crafty Party through Meetup.com 1 person showed up haha.

But we had a great time and got a lot of things done. I also made Sausage Won Ton Stars (see recipe below).

Kelly, solitary crafting friend, was working on a felt and embroidery stocking for her boyfriend, Andy.


Isn't that crazy?! She made everything from scratch using only a pattern from a kit. All the embellishments are done by hand. The bead work. The felt characters. Everything. WHAT PATIENCE! I could never make anything like that.

I was working on things a bit easier than that. Mostly sewing in straight lines. I can't say what they are because they're Christmas gifts but I can say my brother, sister, and best friend are gonna be very excited!!

Overall it was a very lovely afternoon. I enjoyed meeting and spending time with Kelly. I'm looking forward to more Meetups with lots more crafty buddies.

Okay now for the recipe:

Sausage Stars
Recipes found at Everyday Home Cook

Ingredients:
1 lb pork sausage (can be Italian), browned & drained
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
3/4 cup Ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 2.5 oz can chopped black olives
Wonton wrappers

Directions:
1. Combine all except wonton wrappers.  Place wonton wrappers into mini-muffin pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned.

2. Stuff wontons with filling.  Bake another 5 to 10 minutes, until light golden brown.

3. Makes about 3 to 4 dozen

NOTES: I made some changes to the recipe. I used some fake meat cause that's what I had on hand. I also made some with olives and some without. I didn't know what my guests preference would be. Lastly I used a picquillo pepper bruschetta in place of the regular red peppers because again, that's what was on hand. It was amazing, I looked at my fairly bare fridge, pulled out everything edible. It just so happen I had everything on that list on hand. Very lucky coincidence. Very yummy one as well!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Date Night & Recipe

Once upon a time...

My boyfriend and I went on a date.

We got gussied up.

We went to a restaurant on the water called Poseidon. 


He had the scallops with whipped purple potatoes on a bed of spinach.

I had the pork chops with caramelized onion mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts with pancetta, and apple-jicama slaw.

It was just as good as it sounds.

We shared a perfect vanilla creme brulee.

It was very romantic. 

Then we came home and watched The Aristocats. Haha


The End.

So in honor of this very romantic evening, here's a romantic recipe.

Chocolate Lava Cupcakes
From the Alton Brown

Ingredients: 
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs 
Butter, to coat muffin tin
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1 teaspoon espresso powder

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Place a small metal bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Melt the chocolate and butter in the bowl. Stir in vanilla.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour and salt. Sift these into the chocolate and mix well with electric hand mixer. Add eggs one at time, fully incorporating each egg before adding the next. Beat at high until batter is creamy and lightens in color, approximately 4 minutes. Chill mixture.

4. Coat the top and each cup of the muffin tin with butter. Dust with the cocoa powder and shake out excess. Spoon mixture into pan using a 4-ounce scoop or ladle. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. Outsides should be cake-like and centers should be gooey.

5. While muffins are in oven, melt the ice cream in a small saucepan. Stir in the espresso powder. Serve over warm muffins.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Maple Syrup Pancake Muffins

CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE - DAY 8

I'm sending my boyfriend telekinetic messages to make these for breakfast.

Pancake. Muffins. Pancake. Muffins. PancakeMuffins. pancakemuffins. pancakemuffins!!!

Come on baby!

Don't these just scream "Make me on a cold winter day!" I think so!

 Maple Syrup Pancake Muffins
From the pancake queen herself, Joy the Baker

Ingredients:
makes 12 glorious muffins
7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
For the Maple Glaze: 
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:
Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Keep an eye on the butter.  Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan.  The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that.  Keep a close eye.  Remove from heat.
Whisk milk, egg, yolk, maple syrup and vanilla until combined.  Add the brown butter and stir to combine.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl  Add milk and butter mixture all at one and stir gently to combine.
Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.
Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.
While the muffins are baking make the maple glaze.  
In a small saucepan simmer maple syrup and lemon juice, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick (thicker than maple syrup) syrup.  This will take about 15 minutes over a low flame.  
Remove from heat and wait for the muffins to finish baking.  When muffins are out of the oven and cool enough to handle, poke a few holes in the muffin top with a toothpick and dip each muffin top in the maple glaze.  After dipping all twelve muffins, start with the first muffin you dipped and dip each muffin again. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mini Mushroom Gorgonzola Tarts

 CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE - DAY 7

SHUT UP! If these don't sound like the most delicious thing EVER!

I'm so excited to try these. All you lucky ladies coming to my house this Thursday for Holiday Craft Day are in for a treat!!

Yes, I'm throwing a Holiday Craft Day. Make fun of me all you'd like. You're secretly jealous.

Mini Mushroom Gorgonzola Tarts


Ingredients:
puff pastry
chesnut mushrooms
gorgonzola
garlic powder
oregano

Directions:
1. Cut out approximately 3″ diameter rounds, place rounds in a greased muffin tray.

2. For the filling, dice up your mushrooms fairly small and fry these in some butter. Add galic powder, pepper and oregano to taste.

3.Stir in Gorgonzola. Melt gorgonzola through your mushroom mix until you have a creamy mixture.

4. Pour this on top of your little puff pastry cups and bake in the oven at 375f for about 15 minutes.

5. Devour.

Guess what?

 

Hooray!!! My boyfriend and I finally got to buy and decorate our tree. It didn't start out very smoothly... but in the end, around 12am, Rob and I decorated the tree, set up the train, and covered the house with the Christmas treats we had. The decorations, combined with our new furniture, makes for a nice, homey feel. Now nothing will compare to Christmas at my home home but this isn't a bad a runner up. :0) Life is pretty good, if you ask me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

White Chocolate Mousse Cake

Christmas Challenge - Day 5
 
This seems like a nice little holiday treat. I want one.

White Chocolate Mousse Cake
Found @yummy.com
 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup crushed cookies (we suggest Marks & Spencer Pistachio and Almonds Cookies)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup melted white chocolate chips
1/4 cup all-purpose cream
1/2 cup softened cream cheese
2 cups whipped cream
1/3 cup sugar
white chocolate chips

Directions:
1.  To make pie crust, mix the crushed cookies with melted butter. Press onto the bottom of muffin cups. Chill for 15 minutes.

2.  To make the filling for this pie, microwave white chocolate chips and all-purpose cream for 30 seconds.

3.  Stir, then add softened cream cheese, whipped cream, and sugar. Mix well. Pour mixture into the prepared pie crust. Chill. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips before serving.

4.  Chow down!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

For the love of food and family

Christmas Challenge - Day 4
When I think of the holidays, I think of family and eating. 
Don't you? 

It seems like Halloween and Thanksgiving flow right into Christmas, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from New Years. You eat a TON for Thanksgiving. And if you're my family you eat Thanksgiving dinner twice. After succumbing to stuffing and turkey and pumpkin pie, why bother slowing down, right? Your post-summer figure is already shot by then, might as well keep going. 

I will be honest with you all, from summer until now I have lost my post-costa-rica-being-starved-by-evil-host-family figure.
But you know what? 

THAT'S OKAY WITH ME!!!

When I was living in Costa Rica at the beginning of this year I lost a significant amount of weight. I was living with a family that was less than loving. No one had any real interest in me and they spent no family time together, let alone with me. For them food was never an important part of their day. There was only rice, all day and all night, steamed white rice. Beans, once or twice a week and maybe meat once every two weeks. And veggies?? Forget about it! Although, every once and a while I would beg my host mom for veggies, something I would never do at home mind you. If she made it to the market, remembered the big white American living in her house she would buy me a bag of mixed veggies. She would come home, steam them in lard, of course, and yell "CONEJA, COMIDA!" In English that means "BUNNY RABBIT, FOOD! That was my life with food in that house.  

Then some fabulous things happened. I moved out. I got a new family. Well not really a new family. This was the same family I had during my orientation the first month I was there. This family LOVED me, paid attention to me, and fed me, just like a real family would, just like MY real family would. I love that family. LOVE LOVE LOVE! I knew when things got really bad I could call them and they'd take me back in a heartbeat. And they did. They made my first and last month in Costa Rica worth the entire stay.
And from that point on I got chubbier and chubbier. Can you blame me? This was my favorite meal. She would make this for me every night if I asked. And most nights I would. It makes me hungry and a little sad looking at the photo now. Needless to say I was no longer scary wafer thin. Not that I didn't enjoy it, cause I did. But I realized something important...

Food = Fat = Love <3

I was thin as I have ever been. My bikini fit perfect. I was a hot little thing. 
And I was miserable.

Now I'm chubby. I wouldn't be caught dead in a bikini. I'm a hot, slightly larger thing. 
And I am HAPPY!


Go FIGURE!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Muffin Pan Tacos

Christmas Challenge - Day 3

My mom sent my boyfriend and I home with TWO bags of turkey and a coffee carafe filled with turkey soup. So for the last week for both lunch and dinner I've eaten nothing but turkey. Turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey pot pie, just plain turkey, and more turkey sandwiches. My boyfriend loves it. He could eat cold turkey all day everyday. I can not. So this afternoon after yet another turkey sandwich, I convinced my boyfriend we needed something else for dinner. Spice things up if you know what I mean.... w/ Spicy Mexican Muffin Pan Tacos! OLA!

Muffin Pan Tacos... some people are just so darn smart!

Muffin Pan Tacos

Ingredients:
1 pound ground hamburger
1/2 onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, diced
3/4 cup water
taco seasoning mix (see her site for a recipe!)
12 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes for topping.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350f. Cook the ground hamburger thoroughly, drain and return to a clean skillet.

2. In a separate skillet, saute the diced onion and jalapeno and add it to the hamburger.

3. Blend in the seasoning and toss to coat.

4. Heat the mixture on high and add water; reduce and let simmer on med/low for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

5. Cut 4-inch diameter circles out of the flour tortillas. A standard margarita glass is about the right size for measuring and a pizza cutter gets the job done quickly. (Bake the leftovers for extra chips.)

6. Wrap tortilla circles - 3-4 at a time - in a wet paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds to soften.

7. Mold the circles into a lightly greased muffin tin.

8. Add a layer of shredded cheese in the bottom, add about 2 tablespoons of meat mixture, then top with cheese.

9. Bake for 20 minutes. When they're done, just pop them out and add your favorite toppings!

10. Eat 6 and give 6 to your boyfriend (or girlfriend or roommate)!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Opps Christmas Advent Calendar

So I had intended to do something similar to my Halloween Advent Calendar Challenge for the month of December. It is, after all, the original reason we have advent calendars. But with my hectic life and starting a new job, I some how forgot. Like I promised in my About Me, perfection is not required, nor expected.
But that doesn't mean I can't start with my best foot forward now! Consider yesterdays post Day 1... I know I will haha.

So here we go.

Christmas Challenge!

Who: Me, of course!
What: A 24 day *ahem* project where I share one post each day that has something to with Christmas, Muffin Pans, or both. Mostly both!
Where: Here, silly!
Why: Because we like you! M.O.U.S.E!

hehe just kidding

Why: Because I had so much fun with the first one. It kept me motivated to post everyday and it gave me purpose and a theme. I love themes. Okay here we go!

Christmas ChallengeDay 2

Day 2 is then gonna feature some great ideas for Christmas Advent Calendars.. because if you are like me... you haven't made one yet. Cheers to the procrastinator!

Advent Calendars from fellow bloggers
*Click on my oh so clever comments below each to see where the calendar came from!

Wonderful wonderful wonderful! Now if you aren't a muffin pan enthusiast like me (shame  on you) you might want to check out Tip Junkie Advent Calendars for some more ideas!
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