Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring is in the air...Lavender Honey Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Wheww do you ever have one of those weeks where you are so busy with different things that it feels like you literally need to remember to eat and even breathe?  To seriously take five minutes to sit down and not be thinking about what you have to do next?  It is only Wednesday and it feels like Thursday.  Or maybe I am just wishing so hard for Thursday, because then Charles will be arriving back finally and well 2 dozen cupcakes will magically have been made for an engagement party that night.  It has just been one of those weeks between real work, life work and just life.  BUT at the same time it has been great.

Oh and p.s. I am moving this week!  If I have two boxes full of cookbooks, does this mean I have too many?  Especially if I still want more!

So last Friday, before life got crazy, and since baking didn't occur over the weekend due to moving and painting, these cupcakes were made.  These were a special request and a thank you all in one.  James was nice enough to both buy the lavender for the cupcakes and come out at 6:30 in the morning with Caroline and my mom to cheer me on during the marathon the other weekend.  He wanted to see how lavender would go with the cupcakes, and it all really came about because last June my friend Meghan asked for a vanilla lavender birthday cake, but neither one of us could find the lavender at the time.  These cupcakes are very unique, and you can definitely taste the lavender in them.  The honey cream cheese frosting complements them well, but next time I am going to add honey too the cake batter and not use quite as much lavender.  They had great texture though and both the cake and frosting were definitely light and fluffy.  So, if you like the taste of lavender these cupcakes might just be right up your alley.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Savory Cupcakes 2: Black Pepper Cornbread "Cupcakes" with Mexican Peppered Cream Cheese "Frosting"

First things first, Happy Friday!  What a week...I so glad it is almost the weekend!  So, lets talk about these cupcakes...

Is that a screen print of a pig in the background with a cupcake that has bacon on it? YES  For my second savory cupcake I went in a completely different flavor direction from the first one; the first being a tomato basil cupcake with garlic herb goat cheese frosting.  Black pepper and Mexican cheese are the stars here.  The black pepper gives this crumbly traditional cornbread great flavor.  The Mexican cheese combined with the cream cheese in this "frosting" scream for this cupcake to be served with chili on the spring days that are still freezing cold that we keep having in D.C.  The bacon topper, well everything is better with bacon, plus it adds great flavor and texture.  So if you are (1) like me and love cornbread or (2) are a savory over sweet person, then give these a try and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Best way to start a work day...Pancake-Waffle Breakfast

Warning this post is going to be one big humble brag plus some thanks...

So, I did it!  I completed my very first marathon, and it was hard.  I did not lose any toe nails, but I did get some serious blisters, like where I have never had blisters before on my feet, but it was definitely worth it, after two and half months of training.  I also could not have done it with out the support of my mom and awesome friends.  It was knowing that my mom, James and Caroline would be there at the start, the encouraging and funny text messages from friends throughout, and knowing that my mom and James would be at the finish line that kept me from stopping and walking.  Plus, I knew I would be able to completely stuff my face when I was done, which I did....for the next two days.  There were more "samoas" donuts over the weekend, plus I made the sweet potatoes cookies as gluten-free cookies.  Then I knew there would be a pancake-waffle breakfast this week at work.

**Warning pictures may be blurry due to running...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Savory Cupcakes...Tomato Basil "Cupcakes" with Garlic Herb Goat Cheese "Frosting"

Sometimes we need to change things up a bit, and to be honest I have been wanting to try my hand at savory cupcakes for at least a year now.  Yes you read that right...savory cupcakes.  So, last weekend I planned ahead and new it was finally going to be THE weekend.  I had all of the savory ingredients I needed to make two different types; the other one is a black pepper cornbread "cupcake" with peppered Mexican cheese "frosting" and crisp bacon pieces.  Well I woke up early Sunday morning ready to get these cupcakes started, before the busy day ahead.  I knew I would need to frost them right before serving because I really wanted to have the cake part be at room temperature, so I only worried about baking the cake in the morning.  I then got home from a hike and a bike ride (it really felt like spring Sunday) ready to get the frosting on these cupcakes so I could give one a try.  Well...

They turned out exactly as I wanted them to.  The cake has more of a muffin consistency, but the sun-dried tomatoes add a great sweet flavor, while adding texture too.  The basil really rounds out the flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes in the cake.  Then the creamy garlic herb goat cheese frosting makes this savory cupcake the sister of a delicious summer tomato sandwich.  These cupcakes would be delicious served along side a bowl of warm tomato soup or a crisp spring salad.  I think they will now be in the rotation to serve along side lunch when I have guests.  So, if you are a savory over sweet individual or just love the sun-dried tomato-basil-goat cheese combination give these a try.  Enjoy!

You know spring is on its was when you can go for a hike and its over 60 degrees outside.

Morning prep: Laying out all of the ingredients... 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Three words...Baked "Samoas" Donuts

I need to tell you a little story about these donuts.  I made them last Thursday to take to work, and like during donut December, I prepped the ingredients the night before, but this time I actually dreamt about making the donuts Wednesday night into Thursday morning.  Granted this is not the first time I have dreamt about baked good...normally though the dreams are more like nightmare, like somehow I frosted a cake and I wake up to find the frosting has some how completely slide of the cake or the cake has fallen in.  Seriously, I have woken up and had to go downstairs to check and make sure the cake, pie, cookies are still in one piece.  

The dream about these donuts though was less of a nightmare and more like reality.  In the dream, I woke, and then literally went step by step making them.  Then, I woke up from the dream and did exactly that.  These donuts literally turned out exactly as I dreamed they would too.  The donut is light and airy, while the caramel is rich and buttery.  The toasted coconut adds excellent crunch and the chocolate ties the entire donut together, truly making it a "samoa" donut.  I kind of think that girl scouts should be jealous they didn't get to try these...but that's just my opinion.  I definitely think you should give these a try...I myself will be making them this coming weekend for my mom!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chocolate Caramel Raspberry Mousse Cake

Sometimes a challenge is good thing.  Pushing yourself to try something new or step out of your comfort zone can be completely and totally frightening while at the same time be totally exciting.  Yes, I am talking about baking here.  (I mean I also totally have on my mind that in less than two weeks I am supposed to be lacing up my running shoes and trying to run 26.2 miles with thousands of other people.)  First things first though was the challenge excepted with making this birthday cake.  I admit that I totally brought this on myself.  I picked the recipe from a list of four different options, all of which the birthday girl said she would be happy with.  This was the recipe she "thought I would throw in there anyhow..."  I saw it, and thought hey why not give it a try even though it could be an epic fail.  (It wasn't...but it had serious potential to be.)

This is the breakdown of this cake.

I followed this recipe to a "T," not wanting to modify anything in fear of totally messing this cake up.  Although it took a while to make, it was totally worth it.  If you don't have a day or long afternoon to make this cake; here is how I broke down my time over a day and half.

Monday night:  Bake layers of chocolate cake.  Once they have cooled, leave in their pans (only if you have parchment paper on the bottom) and wrap tightly with saran wrap and aluminum foil.

Tuesday morning:  Made raspberry filling and layered between the cake.  Made caramel mousse, poured over cake and let set.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Garlic Herb Flatbread..simple and delicious

This is that time of year when I start dreaming of the spring.  Of warm sunny shorts-wearing kind of days. But since those days are still a ways off, I decided to embrace the cold and make some flatbread and cauliflower soup.  Things that would warm me up inside and fill my belly while being comforting but not terrible for me.  Plus this flatbread is absolutely delicious!  Like seriously, I would finish a piece and wish I had packed another in my lunch.  

Oh and this soup is easy and super delicious.  I have Meghan to thank for sharing this recipe...although my blender broke in the process of making this so it is not mashed cauliflower and not pureed cauliflower.  Still tasted delicious though!  (Soup: caramelized cauliflower soup by Sprouted Kitchen) The soup and the flatbread go really well together too..somehow the flavors really compliment each other.  So, try one of these or both of them or try them together, simply enjoy!  Oh and Happy Tuesday!

Oh I totally got a great fortune this weekend...loving the sound of this one.