Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last day of 2009!

And because it is the last day of 2009, I figured I better make this last post with Christmas things, just to finish up the holiday.
So we were finally able to get out of our house after the Christmas Eve blizzard and attend another family function on Sunday, one that I was requested to bake some cupcakes for. So I thought about making some new holiday flavored cupcakes, but since there were going to be little picky-eater kids around, I decided to stick with just yellow cake, cream cheese frosting, and make the decorations holiday themed. And I found this adorable idea, yet again on Bakerealla.

but since my mom hates mint anything, I left out the candy canes and just made some cute trees!

you start by just cutting the tops off of ice cream cones...

then dip those cones in green candy melts...

then simply roll the little trees in green sugar, and cover a cupcake in cream cheese frosting, then roll the top in sugar to look like snow, annnd...

stick your Christmas trees in the snow!oh and make sure you don't forget the star on top!
then tint the rest of the frosting light blue, and cover the other half of your cupcakes in the blue, again rolling the tops in sugar. and pipe on some snow flakes!

snowflakes and Christmas trees! The trees were a big hit with the kids, and adults alike!

and one last Christmas craft... I went and bought some fabric on major sale after Christmas and whipped out this cute little Christmas apron! I've got some more fabric that I need to make some aprons or other things out of and hopefully will get around to it before my break is over, but I just couldn't resist this adorable present print for an apron!

And with all of that Christmas baking out of my system, I'm refreshed and ready to start 2010. Just not so ready to go back to school... Oh well, off to celebrate the new year, and not think about school for a couple more days!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

White Christmas... (eve)

I was dreaming of one, and I got a full on blizzard instead of just some light snowfall! Even my favorite part of Christmas, late-night candle lit church service was cancelled tonight due to the weather. But on the upside I had more time to spend wearing great-grandma's old Christmas aprons and baking/making treats with my mom all day. Over the past few days I've made up for lost time this past semester being so busy, and finally fed my baking addiction. So here is a LONG entry of the past few days of baking holidays treats! For so long I have been wanting to make these so that's where I began...
and it started with just a simple red velvet cake mix. I contemplated making the cake from scratch, but knew that I would rather spend time decorating/figuring out how to make cake balls and other adorable holiday goodies, so I went with the mix. And once it was baked up, the real fun started.

Just dig in with both hands and crumble and ENTIRE cake up! So fun, but then it got pretty messy... dump an ENTIRE can of cream cheese frosting into your ENTIRE crumbled up cake, and go to work...

OK I guess you could use a spoon, but this is so much more effective. pretty gross, but pretty delicious.

then work the hot mess into 1in balls (that look scarily similar to meat balls...) and pop 'em into the freezer to set up. And while you're waiting, you just might get hungry for dinner.... and whats my favorite winter soup? Roasted butternut squash of course!

Oh yeah, did I mention stick that squash in the oven when your cake comes out? Look at that beautiful golden squash just begging to be pureed to death.

and smothered in cream. What, calories don't count when you're on holiday break :)

perfect little meal for a cold day.

When you're done eating, pull out those cake balls and dunk them in some melted milk chocolate and easy as that you have a perfect cake ball! Alright, so mine aren't as perfect as Bakerella's, but hey its my first try!

and it tasted pretty dang good too.

then I made some into cake pops. Just pop the balls of cake onto a stick before dunking in chocolate and stand 'em up to dry. Now in the directions it says to stick them into a Styrofoam block to keep them upright, but if you find yourself at home in the middle of a blizzard with no Styrofoam, get crafty and poke holes with a nail into an old cardboard box- works like magic. Now I started to decorate the pops...

and for some reason, I couldn't get the melted chocolate to cooperate with me to make anything look right, I tried flicking it, spreading it, even tried to add sprinkles to cover the mess and I just couldn't get it right. So at this point, covered in green chocolate and feeling defeated, I pack up for the night and hit the hay. This sounds really stupid but I actually dreamt of finishing these cake balls that night and saw my far superior baker self using a PIPING BAG to finish off the tops... duh! So first thing the next morning, I whipped out the rest of these babies.

and they turned out awesome.

cute little Christmas gifts! So with my head back in the right place after a full night of sleep and one fancy treat done, I decided to make some classic gingerbread cookies. Again, using a mix rather than from scratch (I know, I know...) but I feel like being lazy while on break.

but regardless of being a mix, they baked up quite nicely. And I did at least make my own royal icing to decorate...

sea of sweet ginger boys, angels, and stars

When my little gingers were done, I took a break to play with my sweet Christmas kitty who poses by the Christmas tree for me so nicely.

isn't he pretty?! OK now just one more sweet treat for this post, I swear. And this one is the most simple, but also one of the most delicious. Peanut butter chocolate fudge.

and its so simple! Just melt 1 jar PB with one bag semi-sweet chips, then stir in 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 1tsp almond extract. Pour into an 8-8 pan, chill over night then...

cut into 48 squares, and make them all cute in little red and green candy papers. (ok last step optional, but highly recommended.) Simplest, most requested holiday treat ever. Make some. Now.

And with that, I finally am finished with my Christmas baking. Well, at least for now. We are having another family gathering on Sunday that I'm supposed to make Christmas cupcakes for if we ever get out of this blizzard that just might happen. For now, its time for PJ's, a glass of Sherry, and sitting by the Christmas tree. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tis the season to be baking!

And I started this baking frenzy with my all time favorite treat, cupcakes! Although these weren't Christmas cupcakes, it still got me excited for the unlimited array of treats soon to be made. We had a gathering for Mallory's birthday last Tuesday, with mostly dancers because almost everyone else had escaped Athens by then, but it was a great time! I slyly asked her what kind of cupcakes she might want if someone were to hypothetically bake some for her (haha) and she said how she LOVED the coconut cupcakes I made earlier this year for the Heaven&Hell party. Now the cupcakes I made for that party, I hate to admit, were a box mix dun-dun-duuuuun! that I just added coconut extract to and whipped up some coconut butter cream for the top. So this time, with more time on my hands, I found a great coconut cupcake recipe and decided to try it out. The recipe called for regular cream cheese frosting though, and I decided to go with coconut overload and added some extract to that too!

After the cupcakes, all I wanted to do was stay home and bake in my jammies, but rehearsal called my name. After 3 10 hour days, I was so ready for winter break! I spent Saturday morning packing to go home and baking cookies to take to my cousin Sydney. She sweetly offered to take me to the airport Sunday morning and I wanted to thank her (and also feed my baking addiction) with some of my favorite Christmas cookies, molasses crinkles. These babies have just the right mix of holiday spices to not be too overpowering or too bland. They come out just perfectly baked, crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle with sweet sugar crystals on top.

Now that I've made it safely back to Oklahoma for the holidays, I'm ready to bake some more, in fact, I'm about to make another batch of these crinkles to deliver around town today! I'll be sure to keep you posted on the latest and greatest treats, and I'm sure there will be some holiday crafts as well. I love breaks where you can just relax, and bake in you jammies all day!

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups
5 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
Into a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Using a hand held mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time until just combined. Add vanilla and coconut extract. Add buttermilk and dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Mix in the shredded coconut.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks before frosting.

Mix up your favorite cream cheese frosting (mine is 1 block cream cheese, 1 stick butter, and about 4 cups confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract) but replace the vanilla extract with coconut extract. Pipe on cupcakes then top with sweetened coconut.

Molasses Crinkles

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
About 1/3 cup sanding or granulated sugar* for tops of cookies

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together all the spices and flour and salt and set aside. Whip together butter, shortening and brown sugar till light and fluffy, then add in egg and molasses till combined. Finally add in dry ingredients and mix till combined. Consistancy is pretty wet, but it will hold its shape. Work with wet hands and roll 1in balls and dip one end in granulated sugar then place 2in apart sugar side up on an ungreased baking sheet. Original recipe calls to bake for 10-12 min, but mine are usually done in 8-9. Transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling, then pack in a cute tin and deliver some joy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Under the Weather...

Fall semester is finished at last! After two grueling exams today, my body is finally letting me know how it feels about the months of abuse I gave it in the form late night study groups and long rehearsal days. I can't deny it anymore, I've got a cold. And with three intense rehearsal days still ahead of me this week before I get to go home, I just need rest. But anyone who knows me knows that I go stir crazy within the first few hours of being home bound. That is why today was the perfect day to start this blog. It's something I've wanted to do for awhile, and now I finally have a place to write about all the random little things I do, make, want, bake, love, and think about daily.
For starters...

Today I thought about how much I love flowers.

And these particularly lovely roses are from my sweet big sis J. Brown who came to watch my first real piece of choreography be shown in the Young Choreographers Series recently. And this afternoon, as I laid pathetically in bed surrounded by tissue boxes and cups of tea, these flowers inspired me to make some flowers...

So I started with this little guy,

Who I'd been wanting to make ever since Tara made some headbands months ago. And while I dug for buttons in my craft box, I found some beads, and remembered this http://http//
Which then lead to...

Yet another headband!

(what, I have tons of boring ones laying around begging to be embellished)

OK so mine turned out a little more elementary than Martha's... but I half blame the Food Network's Pie Baking competition on in the background. It was much too distracting to focus on counting tiny tiny beads and making exact rows, so I improvised a little ha ha.

So now that I have two totally unnecessary, but adorable, headbands and a fancy new blog, I think its time to rest. But fear not, I will be back with more random little thoughts and sweet treats that hopefully will make others smile a little bit too.