Monday, January 31, 2011

Sweet Lil' Apron

Finished the Cutie Pie Valentine apron!

I had created a pocket on the front but decided I didn't like it and had to start over. I am glad I did. I think it turned out much better than I expected! I LOVE the lace scalloped trim. So sweet.


It's a refurbished apron, so it started out as a skirt and involved into this apron. I got the idea from Jen Sue. It allowed me to spend more time on the details and have a sturdier, better quality apron! 


I hope my partner enjoys it. I get the vibe she wanted something girlie. I wasn't able to respond to all of her requests (mostly because I'm not the best seamstress) but I'm hoping some of my extra additions and wrapping make up for what might be missing. 

Oh and I made this GENIUS pot holder! Here's the video for the tutorial. So smart.

It really did take no time at all! I did my best to make it match the apron. Next time, I will add the tag before I sew.


There it is! The potholder, apron, and cookie cutter. Now I'm just waiting on these cutie pie cards I won and a spark of creativity for the vintage tuck-in. Still can't figure out what to do with pretty vintage paper I bought... but it'll come to me!

*UPDATE*
Cards arrived. Picked a lovely girlie one, signed, and sealed it. And I figured out what to do with the paper too. Its a clipboard!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Individual Shepherd's Pie

The other night we went over to a friends house for dinner and went home with a giant plate full of honey baked ham slices! DELISH! So the next night my boyfriend decided to cooked some comfort food to go with the ham. He made mixed veggies, mash potatoes w/ IKEA gravy, and biscuits. It was a great meal.

However, he managed to cook like a weeks worth of leftovers! Hehe

So as one leftover beget a meal, so will these! And based on those ingredients, there is really only one thing I can think to make:


Individual Shepherd's Pie
Recipe by ME!

Ingredients:
- ground meat
- mixed veggies (we used Trader Joe's organic foursome)
- mash potatoes (We used the boxed kind, and let me tell you, there is no difference!)
- gravy (fresh or from a packet. We LOVE the IKEA gravy)
- sour cream or cream cheese
- shredded cheddar cheese
- some garlic, crushed
- 6 cup texas muffin pan

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375f. Brown meat and drain. Leave in the pan.

2. Mix the mash potatoes with either 1/2 cup cream cheese (which is 4oz or 1/2 an 8oz package) or 1/2 cup of sour cream. Really whatever you have on hand to make the mash potatoes creamier. At the same time add to the taters about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese and the garlic to taste, about 2 cloves minced is a good start. 

3. Without any heat, add to the meat pan the veggies and the gravy. Mix in the pan, saving you extra dirty dishes.

4. Spoon the meat veggie mixture evenly into each cup. Start with a spoon full each and go from there. On top of that cover with the mash potatoes. Add more shredded cheese on top cause EVERYTHING is better blanketed in cheese! Bake for about 20 minutes.

5. Devour!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hello my name is Amy and I'm a swapaholic.

 Photo from Hostessblog.com
I don't know how it all got started but I'm pretty much obsessed with apron swaps!

That could quite possibly be dorkiest thing you've ever heard but IT'S TRUE! Whats funny about the whole apron swapping thing is that I don't have an inherent love for aprons. I honestly think you just need one. You wear it til it gets embarrassingly dirty, you continue to wear it just a bit longer, and then you finally wash it and the process starts all over again.

However, what I found is that all the fun is had participating in the swaps, not really the getting of the aprons! Watching swapper's packages come together, commenting on the beautiful ones or crossing my fingers that I don't get this one I saw because it really isn't my style. (BTW, swap sister, just in case you're reading this, I'm not really into the whole "sexy apron thing." An apron that looks like a nightie is just craziness to me!)

So this time around I'm doing two swaps, which will bring my apron count up to FIVE! I'm gonna have to start giving some of these aprons away as gifts! I don't know what I'll do with so many!

And I'm gonna have to join a group.

Hello, my name is Amy, and I'm a swapaholic.

So here they are the badges for my two swaps. I promise to return muffin related business shortly, as soon as this apron fever passes!



 Be My Cutie Pie Vintage Valentine/Baking Apron Swap and Chicken Lovin' Apron Swap.

I'll be posting about the progress of my aprons and goodies...so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Root Beer Float Cupcakes and A GIVEAWAY!

Looks good right?!

I decided to honor the winning root beer by throwing it into a cupcake!
What a fabulous way to honor something, don't you think?

The recipes I found on the internet were all so different. Mostly they called for root beer extract. If the cake didn't call for the extract, comments were that the cake didn't taste as root beer-y as they'd like. 
So I took all the advice I could find on Root Beer Float Cupcakes, and like any good chef I chucked it all and just did what I wanted! 
Hehe No, I took bits and pieces of each recipe and came up with one I thought would fit my needs.
And be yummy and root beer-y, of course.

Root Beer Float Cupcakes w/ Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe adapted in part from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Une-Deux Senses

Ingredients:
Cupcakes-
1 box Vanilla Cake Mix
1 1/4 Cup of your favorite root beer (If you don't know, have an informal tasting and see!)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs*

Frosting-
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), softened
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
2-3 cups of powdered sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla**
Root Beer Glaze
- 12 oz same fav. root beer

* DON'T FORGET THE EGGS! Because if you do you'll have to go to the store and get a new box of cake mix and then go buy another bottle of root beer. And maybe while you're there you stub your toe on a case of beer and curse out loud and then people will look at you funny. So don't forget the eggs. Just saying.

** You may be saying, don't most recipes call for 1tsp. Yeah but I want SUPER vanilla flavor here, like ice cream!

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350f. Pour 1 of the 2 bottles of root beer in a small sauce pan. Place over low heat and let it go. You are looking for the consistency of natural maple syrup, not to thick and gummy but still covers the back of a spoon.

2. Make frosting next. You want to throw all the ingredients together in a mixer at medium speed until its all incorporated well. Scoop it out into a bowl when it's finish, cover and place in the fridge. The colder the frosting, the better.

3. Clean out the bowl from the frosting and toss all the cupcake ingredients in there when its dry. Add root beer last so as to not splash. And again, eggs are super important at this stage.

4. Fill cupcake liners, or greased cups 2/3 full. In my experience, they say they make 24 but really I can get 18 or so out of each box of cupcakes. I may fill them too high. I'll have to experiment with that.

5. Bake at 350f for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, keep an eye on that root beer syrup. It should be getting closer to the desired consistency. Do the spoon test. If the syrup coats the back of a spoon, you're ready to go.

6. Allow the cupcakes to cool for about an hour before assembling your float. I bought adorable root beer candies when I was out with Amanda on our fun touristy day. You should really check that out, we had SO much fun.

7. Ask about the giveaway!

Oh I did mention a giveaway. didn't I?
Did you know it's my first?  
 MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!
I listened to the lovely advice from Amanda @ KevinandAmanda.com and took some initiative! I emailed the people at Abita and I said my family loved your root beer, it came in first place in our tasting and I plan on using it in a cupcake, wanna sponser a giveaway on my blog? And they responded right away saying "YES! What would you like?!" 
HOW FABULOUS IS THAT?!

So faithful readers, new commers, and passer-bys, wanna win a 6pack of root beer and a hat!?


To enter just leave a comment telling me what kind of root beer is your favorite! Have you ever tried Abita? Have you conducted a Root Beer Tasting and have come up with your own winner? I wanna hear about all of it! Please make sure to leave an email address so that I can contact you if you win! Good luck to all! Contest ends Friday Jan. 21st. Winner Announced Saturday!

~ GIVEAWAY CLOSED ~

The lucky winner of the root beer is The Alexander's!
Congrats! I hope you, your husband, and your adorable triplets love the root beer and the hat!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Root Beer Part 1: The Tasting

You've probably heard of wine tasting and maybe even beer tastings, but have you ever heard of root beer tasting? 
Up until a couple weeks ago, neither had I.

It all started on Christmas. 
My mom had an interesting array of gifts this year. Among those were a box of crackers and a case of root beer. Definitely not your typical Christmas gifts. 
But we are not your typical family.
After enjoying a long day and evening of fun holiday activities we decided to take advantage of root beer gift and start the tasting!

First there were the score cards, modeled here by my lovely sister, created by my mom.
There were 5 categories (which I can't remember now hehe) and each category was rated on a scale of 0-4 pts for a total of 20 pts possible.

We also had tasting cups, modeled by my handsome brother.

And of course, we had the contestants.
Abita, Olde Rhode Island Molasses, Root Beer 101, Route Beer 66, SeaDog, Dad's, Dr. Brown's, and Rat Bastard.
And so it began. 
We examined the color...

...we sipped each taster...
and we scored our cards.

After some cleaning up and counting,
we announced the scores.

First, the lowest score:
Rat Bastard
This root beer came in dead last. Nobody liked it. Full of preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. Sorry Rat Bastard. No good.

And now the WINNERS!
These were the top 3: Abita, Olde Rhode Island Molasses, and Root Beer 101. 
The scores were all very close. When I tallied the scores, everyone made guesses on the winners. The crowd favorite seemed to be the Old Rhode Island Molasses. It was my favorite. Super natural tasting, just what you think of when you think good root beer flavor. But when the scores were counted, Abita was the winner. My boyfriend pointed out that all three of the high scorers used natural sugar, while the ones that had low scores were unnatural and full of crumby materials.
So...
Congrats, Abita!
Abita, I wonder if there is something super special and muffin pan related in your future?? Stayed tuned to find out!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dos Margarita Cupcakes

I'm in a cupcake mood. I know Chef Duff wouldn't approve but I can't help it. 

I'm being sucked in by the cupcake culture that is taking over our planet! For example, I went searching online for cupcake recipes. HOLY MOLEY! I knew it was a crazy cupcake world out there but I guess I didn't realize how bad it had gotten. Cupcakes filled with EVERYTHING you can imagine. Beet cupcakes? WHAT!? Gross.

But I did find something I could get on board with - cupcakes baked with booze in them. I found a list of cupcakes that were cocktail themed and in that list were Pina Colada, Daiquiri, White Russian, Champagne, etc. I am all for this!

So when I got invited to tostada night at a friends house, a friend who due to some of the mighty meds shes taking, can't drink at all, I thought about bringing over one these cocktail cupcakes. And what goes better with some homemade Mexican than margaritas!

HOWEVER, upon reading recipes and searching the internet I came across some important information: NOT ALL ALCOHOL IS BAKED OUT OF FOOD! In fact in the case of cupcakes, almost 40% of the alcohol is still left. It would take more than 3 hours to cook out all the alcohol in baked goods. Now who is going to do that?

Here's the link to read it for yourself:  http://www.ochef.com/165.htm

Anyways, back to the cupcakes, I found that I needed cupcakes that tasted like margaritas but had no tequila and grand marnier to be on the safe side.

However, I found so many great recipes non-virgin recipes that I decided to make two batches, one without alcohol and one with!

First, without out!
Virgin Margarita Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Food.com

Ingredients: 
Cake
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package white cake mix (no pudding in mix) 
1 1/4 cup good margarita mix
1 tbsp orange juice (optional. I always use triple sec in my margaritas so this was a non-alcoholic sub)
3 egg whites 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest

Icing 
1 (14 ounce) container buttercream icing
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

Directions: 
1. Line the cups of a 12-cavity muffin pan with liners. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.   

2. In a large bowl combine the cake mix, margarita mix, orange juice, egg whites and vegetable oil with a mixer and beat until well blended. Stir in the lime zest. 

3. Fill muffin cups 2/3s full; you will use half the batter. Bake 22-24 minutes. Remove when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan and complete cooling. 

4. Line the cups of the muffin pan again with liners. Repeat filling the liners with remaining batter. Bake and cool as above. 

5. To make the icing: Mix lime juice and zest into butter cream frosting in a medium size bowl.

~()~()~()~
Now, with!
Margarita Cupcakes
 Recipe adapted from Recipe Girl

Ingredients:
Cake
9 ounces liquid Margarita mix (a little over a cup)
3 ounces tequila (a little less than 1/3 cup)
¾ ounce Grand Marnier
1 box white cake mix
3 large egg whites
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs lime zest

Frosting
1 (14 ounce) container butter cream icing
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two dozen cupcake tins with paper liners.

2. Prepare cupcakes: Whisk together margarita mix, tequila and Grand Marnier in a small bowl. Measure out 1¼ cups for the recipe; pour the rest on some ice and drink it while making the cupcakes.

3. In a large bowl, blend cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, lime zest and 1¼ cups of the margarita mix from step 1. Blend on low for about 30 seconds and then increase speed to medium and blend for two additional minutes. Batter will be slightly lumpy.

4. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners (about ¾ full). Bake for 20-25 min, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pans, then remove them to a rack to cool completely.

5. To make the icing: Mix lime juice and zest into butter cream frosting in a medium size bowl. 

DECORATIONS! 
It's hard to see but I sugar rimmed both types of cupcakes to give it just bit more "margarita" feel.

Top them with a lime, however you choose, and serve to friends. I took the first batch to dinner. Got some rave reviews. And then I had my boyfriend take the second booze filled batch to work. His co-workers REALLY like them. I think I did good.

Candied Lime Slices
I realized after making, and eating, and passing them out, that everyone took the lime slice, as pretty as they were, and chucked in the garbage. I thought, what a waste! Solution? Candied Lime Slices and plain ol' candy!
Check out this recipe fro Candied Lime Slices.
How to Candy Lime Slices
Another option is actual candy! I've found some really cute lime slice candies in the local candy store. Sour Patch Fruit salad also has small limes you might want to try!

p.s. I'm really trying hard to improve my food photo skills but not having much luck. I think part of the problem is I sometimes use my phone. And by sometimes I mean most of the time. But I'll keep working on it if you all promise to keep coming back!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pie-Lettes & Cutie-Pie

Recently, I've been re-watching Pushing Daisies. If you haven't ever seen that show, I recommend it. It's about the handsome Pie Maker and a special gift he possesses. It combines a few of my favorite things: solving mysteries, baking, and occasionally breaking out into song. Sadly, it's only 2 seasons long.

The reason I bring this is up is because towards the end of the first season the adorable leading lady suggests to the Pie Maker that they make "cup pies" or individual servings of pies. I thought "Man, she is a lady after my own heart!" It makes me love the show even more. Also, the pilot episode was cleverly dubbed "Pie-Lette." So cute.

On top of that, I've join this month's Flirty Apron Swap! The theme is "Be my Cutie Pie."

... Pie-Lette, Cup Pies, Cutie Pie! SO MUCH PIE!

So in honor of all the pie related business I want to show a cute little recipe I found for "cup-pies" or as I like to call them Cutie Pies! I shock myself with my cleverness.  Haha

Anyways, It's handy recipe because it doesn't use pie crust, it uses bread! Intrigued? Read on...

Caramel Apple a la Mode Cutie Pies (w/bread crust)
Recipe from The Nifty Foodie

Ingredients:
Crust:
  • 12 slices of Nature's Pride honey wheat bread
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
Apple Filling:
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced finely
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 5 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. flour
Additional toppings:
  • vanilla ice cream
  • caramel sundae topping
 Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Using a 2-3 circle cookie cutter, cut out circles in the bread. I was able to get 2 per slice.

3. Press each circle into a mini muffin pan, making sure it’s pressed well against the edges to form into a good crust. 


4. Brush melted butter on the tops of the crusts.

5. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle liberally over the buttered crusts.

6. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until the crusts brown. Allow to cool.

7. To make the apple filling, melt the 1/2 stick butter in a small pot and add apples. Then, add brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook down for about 5 minutes on low/med-low heat. Add flour to thicken the sauce and cook another 5 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool until apple filling is just warm.

8. To assemble the bites, add about 2 tsp. of ice cream to each of the crusts (just eyeball it). Add a tsp. of apple filling and then drizzle with caramel sundae topping.

9. Eat all 24 in one sitting.  

P.S. Here's the badge for the swap. Check it out if you are interested! There are couple more days to sign up.


P.P.S. The site makeover...Like? Dislike? I LOVE!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Apron Swap Finale

ITS FINALLY HERE!

And boy was it worth the wait!

Crystal did a perfect job picking aprons (TWO OF THEM!) and putting together lovely tuck-ins.

First let me model the aprons. I want to get that out of the way because my wonderful boyfriend decided not to tell me my hair was standing straight up!! And by the time I got around to looking at them I didn't have the energy to retake it. So please excuse my crazy look.

 First, this pretty green number has some lovely pockets. It reminds of poinsettias.
 AGHHH! Good thing this SNOWFLAKE apron deters the eye from that hideous hairdo. So pretty. Also with some fun pockets. I love pockets!

Then there's the tuck-ins. The word was SNOW:

 S: Sweets

N: Nicities 
A beautiful snowflake inspired necklace, a gorgeous silver bracelet, and fantastic handmade earrings to match!
 
O: Ornaments

W:  Washers!
 These are sooo fabulous! They are handmade washers for my muffin pan. HOW CLEVER!

Oh and of course, how could I forget this, all of these goodies came in... drum roll...
... a muffin pan! OF COURSE!

Each of the gifts came in the cups. And the letter strips were on top. SO FRICKIN' CUTE!

She is so clever. All together these gifts made a fantastic package. Also, I really liked the card. It was also homemade and very beautiful.
THANKS CRYSTAL!!! It was a perfect package. I really adore it!

p.s. that makes 3 aprons in my first swap! Don't hate! hehe 

Mini Chocolate Criossant Puffs

So, I've been dying to make chocolate croissants ever since I came across this post by Joy the Baker.

But because I have been neglecting my muffin pan recipes and bombarding you with all sorts of random knowledge, like how I got a super cute hair cut (okay I didn't tell you that but I had to slip it in there cause I'm so excited! Pictures soon to come!), I thought it was only right that I take this recipe and muffinize it.

Muffinize it. It's my new word. COPYRIGHT! *phew*

With a few simple changes I adapted Joy's recipe into one I will continue to make for the rest of my life. No joke. It was that easy and tasty!

Feast your eyes on these bad boys!

And it's so easy to put together, I'm gonna show you how.

Ingredients:
puff pastry, thawed in the fridge
chocolate pieces, I used a Trader Joe's free trade milk chocolate bar
egg, beaten
salt, if you like that sort of thing. I do. My boyfriend doesn't.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425f.

Next lay out your puff pastry and cut it into 4 even strips.

Then take those strips and cut them in half, and then half again so you have little squares (sorry got to carried away and missed the last cut.) 
Now if you did your math in your head, cause some people do those sorts of things, you might notice that you end up with 16 squares and only 12 cups available if you space them out, like I'm about to suggest. Take those extra four and create mini traditional croissants for those in your life that need to stay inside the box. Or risk it and put them in the tin. Go ahead, BE BOLD!

Anywho...
Next place those squares into a greased mini muffin pan. Space them out so that when they bake and expand they don't stick.
Place a small piece of chocolate in each square and fold the 4 corners over towards the middle.
 Bake at 425f for about 15 minutes.
DEVOUR!

Now, I'm a practical person...sometimes. After making these I had a bowl of perfectly good egg and a oven still hot. So I made my boyfriend and I a tasty egg scramble in the regular sized muffin pan. I was already on a role so I couldn't resist. Eggs in the muffin pan are probably the easiest and most creative way I use my muffin pan. Scramble eggs and then pile in the left overs. For these guys I used some left over blue cheese and spinach.

The eggs, plus a tasty chocolate puff and I tell you, we were in business. So next time, when you find yourself with extra egg wash you'll know just what to do with it! Hope you enjoy!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Holiday Cocktail Party

I threw a party. I made muffin pan treats. People came. People ate. I consider it a success.
 We took a group photo, which is kinda lame but we did it anyway. Even the dog joined in!

This is where I explain that I hate taking photos with drinks in my hand but I was cooking and drinking and it just happened.

 Okay... unless the drink is strategically placed there to compliment a fur coat and make me look like Carrie from Sex and the City. Then that's alright!

 I made some pretzel bites.


And interesting looking white chocolate cupcakes with raspberry cream cheese frosting. They tasted really good but the frosting came out a bit thin... oh well! 

I was surrounded by great friends. Like Betty!

 Like the Matts.

And crazy Michael in a mask.

And a surprise visit from a great friend, Miss Lisa B!

There were even some critters around.
This is my boyfriend's bearded dragon Saxon.

And that's my Jackson looking LARGE!

And my favorite critter of all, my boyfriend. teehee.

And of course, no party is complete without a dip in the hot tub!
It was a great time filled with great people. Only minor bruising and chaos occurred hehe.

Who's ready for another??
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