Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Toast to the South...Cheerwine Cupcakes

What do you do with leftover Cheerwine just sitting in your fridge?  You introduce your coworkers to a taste of North Carolina with a drink that was "Born in South. Raised in a Glass" with these Cheerwine cupcakes.  If you have never had Cheerwine it is a super cherry flavored soda.  Imagine cherry Dr Pepper that is even more cherry flavored.  The cupcakes are actually cherry chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and they literally have an entire can of Cheerwine in them.  These were inspired by  a Tasting Table email and recipe for coca-cola cake.  I just happened to have 5 leftover cans of Cheerwine taking up room in my refrigerator from when Charles and I drove to North Carolina earlier this month.  So, I thought I would give them a try.  

The cupcakes came out denser and more the texture of a muffin, but the cherry flavor shines through and goes great with the chocolate cake and frosting.  If you are a fan of Cheerwine grab two cans, pour one in the batter and enjoy the other while making these cupcakes. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Carrot Raisin Zucchini Bread Cookies

This past weekend I headed to the beach with some friends for a weekend of relaxing and biking.  But, before I left, I decided a few cookies needed to be made for this road trip North.  I looked in my fridge and remembered I had carrots and zucchini to use up before hitting the road.  Thus we have zucchini bread cookies.  These are light and fluffy, they have the texture of zucchini bread and the flavor too.  Seriously, give these a try this summer when zucchini is everywhere, they will not disappoint.

A little time at the beach before the crazy storm rolled in.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Peach Turnovers

So, I have been taking a few days off from baking because I had a problem...I couldn't decide what to bake.  Do you ever have this problem?  Like I have a bunch of blueberries but how do I narrow down what I want to make with them?  (Last time this happened I ended up with blueberry pancake cookies...note that was just last week.)  You see I went home last weekend for less than 24 hours.  I celebrated with one of my oldest friends at her bridal shower and then I headed to Greensboro to celebrate my dad's birthday.  And well since I was going to be home, my mom was kind enough to pick up some peaches for me from the farmer's market.  I used a few of them to make a peach tomato caprese salad for girls movie night (we had a LOT of food)...

...but I just couldn't decide what to bake with them.  Then it hit me, I really wanted to make a turnover.  Growing up they were a special treat at my mom's house and nothing really beats one that is fresh out of the oven when it is warm flaky and yeah just stuff it in my mouth.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two Layer Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Today I need to step back and take a minute to really slow down.  I keep trying to plan everything a bit to far in advance.  I have somehow already begin planning my fall and trying to decide what weekends I can go visit people or go to a football game.  I have even already started thinking about Christmas vacation.  I have got to STOP...summer is not over and I need to be living in the moment a LOT more.  I think this might be more the nature of the business though or maybe just my nature being a planner.  I plan my springs and falls around work and meetings.  I plan my baking around birthdays and other celebrations.  And I am not complaining here...I will look for any excuse to bake and I really like working and planning meetings.  

I sometimes wish I would run in to a sign like this daily...maybe then I would slow down for just 5 minutes...take a minute to breathe and look around.  Maybe then I would notice the flowers and bees more often....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The perfect time of year for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

There is something going on here...there have been a lot of pie or pie like things happening here recently.  Last week there was a summer veggie tart and 2 apple pies.  I was a bit side tracked while   making the apple pies and totally forgot to take pictures.  Oops.  I was nervous, nervous about how my first ever homemade pie crust would turn out and nervous that I would chop off my finger while trying to FaceTime and slice apples.  Have I ever told your how much of a klutz I am?  Seriously though its amazing sometimes that I haven't really hurt myself yet...between burning myself on the oven or falling down while riding my bike...oh or tripping over the sidewalk while running.  Yeah, that was last night after the pies were done.

And now two strawberry rhubarb pies...which basically just meant a lot of cutting and one very red cutting board...and once again I was worried about cutting my finger off.  But these pies were a birthday request for the third July birthday in my office and the were TOTALLY worth it.  These pies are sweet with just the right amount sour lemon flavor from the rhubarb.  They really were delicious and the vanilla ice cream served with them just brought the entire dessert together.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blueberry Pancake Cookies with Maple Glaze

This is what a weekend kind of doing nothing in a particular looks like...

Another Friday night of jazz in sculpture garden and picnicking kicked this weekend off.

The there was a bike ride and a trip to the farmers market.  Since my tomato plant is producing zero tomatoes and my jalapeno plant is growing green pepper tasting jalapenos I will continue to rely on the green thumbs of others. This is how I now spend Saturday mornings.  This is what happens when you aren't planning your weekend around someone...since the someone is across the pond.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lite Summer Vegetable Tart

Life's little short cuts for the everyday and baking (aka my random OCD tendencies revealed):

If you need to bake during the week, but work 5 days a week...pre-measure your dry ingredients a day in advance and store in an air tight container.  Then you only have to measure out your wet ingredients the day of.  If the recipe has baking powder in it, store the dry ingredients in the refrigerator. (This is basically the only way I get office birthday cakes done or really any serious baking during the week.)

If you need to bring butter to room temperature quickly, slice the stick of butter into thin slice into your mixing bowl.  The butter will soften much more quickly. (This also totally works with a stick of cream cheese.) You can also use the back of a fork to work the butter if you are really in a rush.  Hold the bowl on the side or bottom and the heat of your hand will help speed the process.  If you really plan it out you could totally carry the butter to work and then just take it out of the refrigerator and hour before you plan to go home and bake.  (I know this sounds crazy strange, but it helps a lot when you need/want to do other stuff on a "school" night and still get to bake.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Classic with a Twist: Devil's Food Peanut Butter Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Time for some more real talk....

Sometimes I have no idea what I am doing...so instead I put off making decisions by cleaning, baking and getting lost in books.   I figure eventually things will work out the way they are supposed to.

Then other times I get the energy to make decisions, but then lose it and get lost again.  I have to admit that sometimes I am terrible with follow through if I don't get a project done right way. Like right now, my kitchen table is just sitting there waiting to be finished.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A fun summer picnic cookie...potato chip cookies

What do you do when you are back in DC a week early with an entire week of vacation?  You act like a tourist of course.  You get off the plane and go have drinks over the river...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy July 4th! Strawberry Blueberry Muffins

Happy 4th of July!  Well in arriving back from Scotland it appears summer is in full force here in DC.  The days are hot and sunny and the nights are humid.  It's good to be back though, back in my bed, cooking in my kitchen, back to real life.  And today back in the Nation's capital for the 4th!

These muffins are my red, white and blue treat to celebrate.  I need to admit too that I normally for some reason am terrible at making muffins, but these are very easy!  The blueberries burst while baking and the strawberries become soft and sweet; they almost melt in your mouth.  The muffin itself is light and fluffy.  These muffins are best served warm out of the oven and I highly recommend them.  They really are delicious and I really did eat two of them for lunch.  Enjoy!