Saturday, August 30, 2008

cupcakes and other goodies

I took a little break from baking this week (but only a few days, I promise, LOL). Last weekend I did a chocolate chip cheesecake (with a devil's food crust) and chocolate mint bars to take to a picnic at my parents' house because my uncle was in from Chicago. After that, I took a break all week, until yesterday when I made snickerdoodle cupcakes. They're a cinnamon sugar cupcake with a cinnamon buttercream frosting.

The kids also had their first day of school this week. So far, so good! *crosses fingers*

chocolate mint bars

chocolate chip cheesecake

snickerdoodle cupcakes

first day of school

There's a story missing here but I'm still pretty peeved about that, so I'll save it for another time (it involves some 9 billion year old man hitting my parked car twice in the school parking lot).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

family portraits (a photo entry)

I spent the morning with the Zalewski family taking their first official family portraits since their youngest son was around 2 years old. Here are a few shots from today (we ended up at Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery and at their house for some shots with their pets).

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

They had some fantastic natural light coming in from their front windows in the living room. I had to take advantage of it!

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

Zalewski Family Portraits

I had a lot of fun with them this morning and I hope they did too!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to work!

Up until last week I was really looking forward to going back to work. This morning, I'm dreading it.

I'm going to try to not let that bother me because yesterday, was a damn near excellent day. We had open house at the school last night. Walking up to the doors I was ready to throw up because I was completely worried that the Connor would get the same teacher Mason had last year, and I just wasn't going to go through that again. Thankfully, they both ended up with exactly the teachers I wanted them to get and I almost cried. I made Dave read the lists because I was terrified to do it.

Also yesterday, I sent Dave to work with 4 dozen mini cupcakes (Cinnamon toast ones and vanilla with chocolate buttercream). He kept telling me something like 'oh, they won't eat cupcakes, I'll be bringing all of them home, I bet you!'. Well? He was completely and totally WRONG! They pretty much flew out of the box. The girl who had the birthday yesterday sent me an email and thanked me repeatedly for sending in cupcakes for their food/birthday day. I'll be making other ones in a few weeks for their next birthday, for sure. I'll post pictures of the ones I sent (of course).

cinnamon toast cupcakes

white cake/chocolate buttercream

The only (somewhat) bad part of yesterday was giving the dog a bath. Usually when it's hot out, I'd just take him out to the driveway and hose him off but he goes apeshit when we get the hose at and growls and barks and snaps at it like it's going to attack him (it's actually hilarious to watch - because he does the same thing with the snow shovel in the winter - we don't quite understand that one). I didn't want to bug the neighbors with his barking so I wrestled him upstairs and tossed him in the bathtub. He was well behaved during the actual bath but when it was time to dry off he went nuts. We have a small bathroom, so he was literally bouncing off the walls in there. I had to clean the entire bathroom after I got him out of there, LOL.

crazy wet dog

Well, I've rambled on long enough. Wish me luck at work!

Monday, August 18, 2008

those meddling kids!

As much as I am not looking forward to going back to work now, this school year really can't start fast enough.

I'm sick of chasing the neighborhood kids from two houses down out of my somewhat fenced in backyard (it's fenced in on three sides which means the would either have to hop the fence from the yard next door or get to our yard from our driveway). This afternoon I caught them in between our house and the empty house that's for sale next to us throwing rocks and things at our side window that is at the bottom of our stairs. The other day we had pulled in our driveway and there were those kids, spinning each other around in an office chair that they dragged over into our yard. I've really had enough of them.

I also refuse to let my children play with them because they're playing in the street all the time. Their mother (who we affectionately refer to as "Skanky") just sits there on her porch what seems like 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and watches them either play in said street or in the school yard across the street which is fenced in with "private property - no trespassing" signs posted everywhere.


Enough about that though. I can't finish a post on a nasty note like that, so I'll leave you with some cupcake shots.

pink cupcake close-up

pink lemonade mini's

root beer mini's

Sunday, August 17, 2008

vegan cupcakes

This was my first shot at a vegan recipe. Are you surprised that it's a cupcake? I'm not! I figured if I'm going to start doing this more than just as a hobby, I need to expand my horizons.

I found the recipe HERE.

I left out the chocolate ganache swirl because I didn't have any dark chocolate in the house, but next time I'll make sure I get some.

But, anyway ..... introducing ..... the root beer float cupcake! I made two dozen mini ones and had enough batter left for 6 full size ones. They have a vanilla "buttercream" icing (made with shortening, not butter). I wouldn't normally put that amount of frosting on a cupcake but I loved how it looked like a scoop of ice cream for the photo.

vegan root beer float cupcakes

Now, who wants one? *grins*

mmm Sunday breakfast

We've been watching seasons of America's Test Kitchen that we got out of the library and man, that show makes me so hungry. I decided this morning that I would surprise everyone and make the cinnamon rolls from the Quick Breads episode. Even I ate one of them and they are hands down, the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had. The taste was spot on and they were tender and delicious but my technique will definitely need some work. My kitchen looked like a cinnamon tornado hit it after I surveyed the damage as I popped them in the oven.

homemade cinnamon rolls

a hefty dollop of icing

homemade cinnamon rolls

homemade cinnamon rolls

I will definitely be keeping that recipe!

Next up on my baking list: another batch of the pink lemonade cupcakes for a meeting Tuesday and a new recipe for root beer float cupcakes (the root beer recipe is a vegan one).

Friday, August 15, 2008

TGIF for sure!

I've calmed down a bit since yesterday's post, after talking to family and friends. I am still going to stay with this job but very seriously look into marketing myself. Well, my cupcakes anyway, not me personally. Soooo, if you know anyone that needs or wants cupcakes for an event, feel free to send them my way! I have some references, for sure.

When I'm stressed, I tend to bake more. Yesterday I tried tackling molasses cookies. I have absolutely none of them left today, my family scarfed them right up (in fact, my mom stopped over and snagged the last one on her way home from work). I will most definitely be keeping these in my collection of recipies.

molasses cookies

molasses cookies

I got a phone call last night (from my mother) asking if I would photograph a wedding (and possibly do the wedding cupcakes) for the son of a friend of hers who is getting deployed again. I told her that I am more than happy to lend my services! I will also be baking a few kinds of cookies for the reception, so I will be on the lookout for cookie recipes in the next few weeks. I'm completely open to suggestions!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Did I break a mirror over the back of a black cat or something?

Soooooo, it's looking like my bakery dream may be here a little sooner than I anticipated, or at least the serious though of it will be.

I found out today that my hours have been cut at work. I wouldn't have a huge problem with this if we hadn't moved across town from where I work instead of being pretty much right across the street like before. Now I will have an hour to an hour and a half to kill in the mornings depending on the day of the week. I'm really not very happy about this.

I will go back to work when school starts, but I think that I'm going to also be looking for other employment or starting to look into starting my own business. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, I would still love it just as much if I had the same hours I had last year.

My day started off so good too with a potential order for 60 cupcakes for next weekend (I'm just waiting to hear what kind she wants - all I know is "pink icing").

Speaking of cupcakes, I sent the few that were left home with my sister last night - they were such a huge hit!

Tonight, I'm dropping these babies off and I'm quite excited about that:

Tam's s'mores cupcakes (well, just one of them anyway)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

spice cake with maple buttercream

I'll start with saying that my site appears to be down and my banner isn't showing up, which is really irritating me because when it's down I can't get to my email! *grr*

Now, on to the cupcakes. These are for my father's birthday tomorrow. If you live in Harborcreek, at one point or another, you've probably met my father. If you happen to see him over the next few days, please wish him a happy birthday! I'll throw in a picture of my father, for good measure - and I'm opting to use the picture of him at the Hibachi restaurant, with chopsticks in his mouth that he said looked like "a walrus with buck teeth".

"walrus with buck teeth"

spice cake cupcake

me + cupcake = love

spice cake cupcakes

I'm up to my ears in cupcake this week and I'm not complaining one bit! Tomorrow, I'll be baking some requested s'mores cupcakes for someone's anniversary.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

4-H fair and a new cupcake

Just posting again that the Erie County 4-H Fair is this Saturday and Sunday at the Waterford fairgrounds, rain or shine. Please stop by and say hello and check out everything going on. I'll be the one running the dog show registration table.


Now, what says summer more than lemonade? I only got 9 cupcakes out of this batch, so next time I will at least double the recipe.

pink lemonade cupcakes

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Pinch salt
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 egg whites
1/3 c. thawed frozen Pink Lemonade Concentrate
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 or more drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with liners.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg whites and lemonade concentrate. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until just smooth. Add just enough food coloring to turn the batter a light shade of pink.

Scoop batter into liners (fill about three-fourths full). Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting (see below).

Lemonade Buttercream:
3 c. + 3 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pink lemonade concentrate
Red food coloring

Add the butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt, lemon juice, and a few drops of food coloring to the stand mixer and mix on low using the paddle attachment until combined. Turn the speed to med-high until the buttercream is fluffy and uniformly pink. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

chocolate zucchini muffins

These don't have a real strong chocolate taste (to me anyway), but it was a good way to sneak veggies to my kids! Also - it calls for cloves and cardamom, I didn't have either of those so I just left them out and they taste great to me!

chocolate zucchini muffins

chocolate zucchini muffins

* 3 eggs

* 2 cups white sugar
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups grated zucchini
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Lightly grease two 12 cup muffin tins with shortening or line with paper cups.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs.
4. Beat in sugar and oil.
5. Add cocoa, vanilla, zucchini, and stir well.
6. Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
7. Mix just until moist.
8. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins until 2/3 full.
9. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
10. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
11. Store loosely covered.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

frozen "cupcakes"

Can you tell I'm still waiting to get my oven fixed? LOL It'll happen this week though and then watch out!

I just love making things miniature sized. One or two bites and you're done, and if you eat a second one you won't feel like you're stuffing yourself.

finished frozen "cupcakes"

I had some "batter" left over so I got out my 6-cup muffin tin and made some full sized ones too.

full size frozen "cupcake"

Dave's only request is that next time I make them, I use just a graham cracker crust (this one is almost more like a granola than just graham).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

more pomegranate goodness

This time it's sorbet (which I really prefer to ice cream anyway). I figure I have the juice, and no one but me wants to just drink it, and until my oven is finally fixed this week I'm not baking anything. I'm going through withdrawls!

pomegranate/blueberry sorbet

* 1 1/2 cups water
* 1 cup sugar
* 2 cups pomegranate (or pomegranate/blueberry) juice
* 1/4 cup lime juice

1. In 1-quart saucepan, heat water and sugar to boiling over high heat.
2. Boil sugar mixture 5 minutes, reducing it slightly to a syrup.
3. Remove syrup from heat and cool to room temperature.
4. In bowl, combine syrup and both the pomegranate and lemon juices.
5. Cover and refrigerate mixture until cold.
6. Transfer sorbet to airtight container and freeze until firm, 2 to 12 hours.

Friday, August 1, 2008

How I spend my summer vacation

My Thursday nights over the summer are spent teaching. Not in a classroom, but outdoors, and not with just people, but with dogs, too.


I have been involved in the Erie County 4-H program for the last 17 years. I started as a member joining when I was 13 and then as a leader when I was too old to be a 4-H member anymore.

Our end-of-the-season show (our Round-up) is coming up on August 9th at the Waterford Fairgrounds. The horse show is the following day, but the majority of the events happen that Saturday. Not only will there be our dog show, but all of the other projects are judged that day as well. There will be cows, pigs, rabbits (and possibly guinea pigs this year - I'm not sure), along with the other non-animal projects including small engines, bowling, sewing and cooking, just to name a few. There is also a small carnival to benefit the MDA, each game booth is run by a 4-H club.

Picture 043 Picture 013 IMG_1914 IMG_1956

If you don't have plans for that Saturday, please come check us out! I'll be the one running the dog registration table (usually under a blue tent) with the camera attached to her hand if you want to say hello!