Monday, January 30, 2012

Red Velvet Twisted Hearts

Valentine's Day is fast approaching. It's one of those holidays that the dating and courting crowd can't wait to celebrate with their one and only. Well, here after 10 years of marriage, Valentine's Day seems to take a back burner to those other more important days, you know, like the first and last days of school, mom's birthday, Mother's Day. The quintessential holidays that keep the atmosphere of Campbell-land in tact. In fact, I can't remember the last time that dear hubby and I bought gifts for each other or simply celebrated Valentine's Day.

I take that back. It was February 14, 2003. Our first Valentine's Day as a married couple. The only reason I remember that is because apparently at that time I had tons of extra time and actually scrapbooked a page of our celebration. Honestly, who has time for that kind of thing now!

Anyways, back to the scrumptious treat shown above.

I've been doing alot of research lately for some projects I have in the works, and I happened to come across another great food blog, Oven Adventures. There are so many great recipes and the pictures make you want to snuggle up with your computer and a cup of coffee.

Now these are what she calls Red Velvet Twisted Hearts. Myself I prefer to call them...ohmygoshIcan'tbelieveshemadetodieforredvelvettwists!!

These are like soft-pretzels, red velvet style. They combine the yeasty dough likeness of a soft pretzel with the sugary, cocoa-e (is cocoa-e or cocoa-ey a real word?) red velvet cake. All I have to say is Yum! Oh, and I'm glad I work with 6 other women who share my love of sugar based confections. If it wasn't for them, I'm sure I'd be curled up in a sugar coma in the back corner of my walk in closet wimpering for my mommy.

So here you go, her version, and below is how I made them. Now you can make them all for your self, or for that sweet someone in your life! Enjoy!

Makes approx. 20 hearts

4 egg yolks – room temp
1 whole egg – room temp
1/4 granulated sugar
6 tbs melted butter – slightly warm
3/4 c buttermilk – room temp
3 tsp red gel food coloring
3 c flour + plus more for dusting
2 tbs dutch processed cocoa powder
1 pack dry active yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt

2 butter melted
1/2 c vanilla sugar – regular granulated work too

Cream Cheese Glaze
1/4 c cream cheese – room temp
1/2 c confectioners sugar
2-3 tbs cream or milk

In the bowl of a standing mixer with your whisk attachment, whisk all your egg yolks, your whole egg, butter, buttermilk and food coloring together. Once everything is well combined add in 2 c of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and cocoa. Once everything is moist change over to your dough hook.
Add in 1 c of flour and knead on low for 4-5 minutes until your dough sticks in one ball to your dough hook. If you find your dough is a still sticky add a bit more flour. It should be soft but not sticky.
Flour your counter and take dough out of the mixer. Knead by hand for about 30 seconds. Take a large bowl and spray with cooking spray. Put dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place somewhere warm. Let rise for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, until it doubles in size.

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour your counter and roll out to a 12 x 14 inch square. Mix your filling and spread evenly over your dough. Cut into 1 inch strips. (I used a pizza cutter)  Grab at each end of the strip and twist. Place on your baking sheet and form into a heart .  It’s ok if they touch a bit.

Boil some water and place about an inch in a baking pan. Make sure you use an oven mitt while pouring boiling water into the pan. Place pan with boiling water in the bottom of the oven and on the oven rack above, place your hearts. Let sit in the oven (turned off) for 1/2 an hour. You won’t notice much of a change in size but they will feel soft and slightly warm to the touch.

Take out of the oven, remove pan of water, and preheat oven to 350 F. Make sure your oven rack is in the middle position. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cream Cheese Glaze
With an electric mixer beat cream cheese until smooth.  Sift in confectioners sugar and add vanilla. Beat again until well mixed.  Add your cream or milk to thin.  If you want it a bit thinner just add a little more milk.

So there you have it, a Valentine's Day treat that's simple to make and sweet to eat!! Happy Valentine's Day!

***And on a side note, I did buy dear hubby a Valentine's Day present this year, but I couldn't wait to give it to him, I was desperate for a weekend full of Edward and Jacob. I guess it was kind of an early Valentine's Day present to myself too. But don't tell him that ;)  wink, wink!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pomegranate Cupcakes

So after my last entry I was trying to figure out what to do with my leftover pomegranate seeds, and but-of-course I had to do a cupcake! How though was I going to incorporate this tart, yet sweet flavor into this recipe. And then it hit me! Let me take you back a year or so ago.

I'm the type of person who would pefer her beverage be from a glass with an umbrella rather than a shot glass. I'm not really a beer or whisky person, unless it's in a cupcake of course. So about a year ago I had my first Pomegranate Martini (ok, so no umbrella). Immediately I went out and purchased a bottle of PAMA pomegranate liquor to make them at home (I guess I'm a bit of a tightwad, I can't see spending $7 per drink for something I can make at home). So for this cupcake I turned to my half-empty bottle of PAMA liquor. But have no fear, these can be made kid-friendly too!

Here's the recipe.

Pomegranate Cupcakes

Pomegranate Syrup
1/2 cup PAMA 
1/2 cup Pomegranate juice (kid-friendly: eliminate PAMA and use 1 cup juice)
1/2 cup granulated sugar

In a medium sauce pan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the juice has reduced down until you have about a 1/2 cup of syrup.

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, room temperature

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and soda, set aside. With your mixed beat butter and sugar until well combined. Add in eggs, one at a time until mixed well. Mix sour cream into butter mixture. Alternately add flour mixture and syrup into batter until well incorporated.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until the cupcakes bounce back to light touch (do not brown or over bake or they will dry out).

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon sour cream, room temperature
1 T PAMA liquor (kid-friendly: just POM juice)
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pomegranate seeds for topping

Allow cupcakes to cool, frost cupcakes with desired amount of frosting and top with pomegranate seeds.

Yeah! They turned out great! These cupcakes aren't just beautiful to look at, they taste amazing and are very simple to make. No response from the persnickety kids yet though,maybe after dinner.  I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pomegranates, Pomellos, & Persnickity Kids

As I was walking through the grocery store the other day I was trying to look at everything around me. Trying to take in all of the things that I had never tried. Why? I really don't know. I'm trying to become more inspired. I'm trying to try new things. I've seen so many amazing cupcake ideas lately, all of which I have in my mind too, but just haven't acted on them as quickly as everyone else. Sometimes I over think things, I know that I should just go with my gut feeling, but it's taking that step and failing that I'm afraid of. I'm trying to get better at it. I take it one day at a time.

So anyways, as I was walking through the produce section, something caught my eye. What is this? a big, round, green, unripened grapefruit? After closer inspection of the sticker I realized it was a Pomello. Hum? I was intrigued. I had no idea what it was. I had no idea what it tasted like. I had no idea how to peel the thing. All I knew was that this beautiful $1.49 fruit was going into a nice little bag and coming home with me.

As I was choosing my pomello, I looked slightly left and noticed a fruit that I had seen quite a few times but had never actually purchased, a pomegranate. I always see these fruits online being dissected and cleaned in bowls of water and I always thought to myself, "well that looks pretty easy, I wonder what they taste like?" So along side my giant green pomello I placed a beautiful red pomegranate.

So after checking out with my two new treasures I couldn't wait any longer, I had to get home and open them up to see just what the insides looked like. (Random fact #11 Secret obsession with dissecting fruits and veggies)

I broke out the cutting board, knife, and a big bowl of water. Now as I've mentioned before, I am a mother of 2. Aiden who is 6 1/2 and Sophie who is 19 months (Random fact #12, my kids share a birthday exactly 5 years apart). Both of them enjoy being in the kitchen with me and I'm trying to work on being more patient with them while I'm diving into these adventures. So as I was cutting into the first fruit, the pomello, both kids were perched on the chair and table (Sophie enjoys climbing on furniture like a chimpanzee) waiting ever so patient to see what was hiding inside. The pomello kind of surprised me. I had looked online as to the best way to cut into it and found that you can cut it pretty much like a grapefruit. The pomello was very spongy, and there wasn't as much flesh on the inside as I had expected. The pomello tasted very similar to a grapefruit.

I finished cutting it and offered it up to the kids. I could tell by the look on Aiden's face, he wasn't enjoying this experiment as much as I was. Sophie on the other hand was bound and determined to eat her way through the entire green "ball".

Now it was pomegranates turn. I took the knife to the pomegranate as I had been instructed to do so online by scoring it into five sections and peeling them apart. I also was warned online about the juice that comes from the pomegranate and how much it could stain. No fear here, onward! I peeled one of the sections from the fruit and placed it in the big bowl of water and started gently plucking the seeds from the inside of the fruit.

This is one thing people often don't realize about the pomegranate. You eat the seeds of the fruit, the outside is just the capsule. I also read somewhere that pomegranates are great for the female reproductive system. That I have no idea if it's true or not, just thought I'd throw that out there. Back to the dark red juice staining my cutting board. I removed all of the seeds from the sections of the pomegranate, tossed the carcase in the trash and offered up the tasty morsels to the kids once again.

This time, exact opposite reaction. Aiden had a huge grin on his face and insisted that I save some of those "seeds" for him to eat after school. Sophie. Well she just shook her head and down off the table she went.

I've learned in the 19 months of being a mother of 2 that this is typical. Everything in their worlds are opposite. Opposite sleeping habits, eating habits, personalities, likes, dislikes. It truly is amazing that two kids who are raised in the same exact house can be so different. I guess that's God's way of keeping it interesting in the Campbell house.

We finished off the pomello but we still have some of the pomegranate seeds left and have been trying to figure out what to do with them. I think I've got it. In fact I know I've got it. You'll have to check back to see what I've done with them!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Day of Randomness

Is that a word? Randomness? Hm, who knows. But today in my world it is a word. Random events occured, like this. I would consider this random, since it's been forever since we've had anything around here like this.

This is what the bushes in front of our house look like tonight. Do you know what that white stuff is? It's SNOW!! Finally some measurable snow! Not that I enjoy driving in it, but it's always pretty to look at, or at least I think so. And it's always fun to watch Aiden working as hard as he can between giggles clearing the driveway and sidewalk.

Tonight, after he finished clearing the sidewalk I looked out the front window to see just what he was up to, and I found him face down in the snow making snow angels. I think he's really missed the snow!

So what else was random, well this is going to be random. It just feels like a day to write some random stuff. So here goes. I started writing this blog to tell you all about my random cupcake creations, obviously now not only does it include my cupcakes, but I kind of wanted to let all of you into my world a little bit. As these postings progress I hope that all of you will get to know me a little better, even all of the strange, quirky (some consider crazy) things that go on in my life. My likes, my dislikes, my pet peeves, things that make me happy and things that irritate the ever living crap out of me. So, here's some random facts you may not know.

  • I was born September 28, the year is not important :)
  • I have an older brother whom I remember laughing with more than fighting with. He also introduced me to Dear Hubby and for that I am forever grateful. Did I mention he's older?
  • I took 4 years of French in High School... the only good this would ever do me is if I had to order cheese, green beans, or apples while visiting France. Outside of that, I have no idea what I'm saying.
  • I love Vodka and Cranberry juice, although I don't really drink too often these days.
  • I love just spending time with Dear Hubby. We don't get much time alone these days with the two little ones around, and it seems when we do we end up either just hanging out at home, or driving to some random store looking for hunting supplies (which I don't mind at all by the way).
  • I have a secret yearning to be Lara Croft. Not only is she goregous, but she really knows how to handle her 9mm.
  • I miss being a child. There are so many things that I wish I could go back and either pay more attention to and learn from or do differentley.
  • I miss my Grandpa Haning terribly. He was an amazing man and there are so many things that I wish I could have shared with him. I see alot of him in Aiden, and I hope that he will grow up to be at least half the man that Grandpa Willis was.
  • I have a secret obsession with filling out forms or paperwork of any kind. And I only know one other person in my life that can truly appreciate this quirk, and for that, Mollie, I love ya!
  • I have a degree in Computer Science, I have my License in Massage Therapy, and I own a Cupcake business.
Okay so that last one you may have already known, but hey, 10 random thoughts about myself at 9 pm is a little difficult.

I have to look at all of those things as reasons why I am who I am today. The good stuff, the bad stuff, the in between stuff, it all matters. But if there's one thing that I've learned, you have to leave the past in the past, live for today, because no one is guaranteed a tomorrow. I hope all of you enjoyed learning a little bit about me today, I'd love to learn more about all of you out there too! Talk to you soon!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tiramisu Cupcakes

2 posts in one day. I'm just crazy like that! I couldn't help it, I had to share these tasty morsels!!

It's winter here in the great state of Ohio. It's a cool, rainy, 40 degrees. Yes, I said WINTER! No need to go into that again, I don't want all of my posts to be about the weather in Ohio.   

Anyways, Tiramisu Cupcakes.

For those of you that have ever tasted Tiramisu it is made up of a very light and fluffy filling with a whipped cream topping and ladyfinger cakes. Personally the only kind I've ever tasted is from Olive Garden. I'm sure the traditional Italian, homemade version is much better, but hey, I don't live anywhere close to Italy, so Olive Garden will have to do.

Today I decided to try it in a cupcake. With a simple request from a friend, I searched for a recipe that I thought sounded good. As always, I didn't have to search too far. Stef at Cupcake Project has a Tiramisu Cupcake recipe that sounds absolutley wonderful. Here's her recipe, with a few of my little changes (of course, since she has perfected this recipe I don't have to do much to make myself happy).

Yield: 12 Cupcakes
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 C white sugar
  • 2/3 C milk
  • 1 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lb mascarpone cheese
  • 1 C strong brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp rum (I used Kahlua here instead)
  • ladyfingers baked in cupcake wrappers (Stef has instructions on how to make these here.)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a small amount of dark chocolate for chocolate curls (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. 
  2. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. 
  3. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour.
  5. Remove from refrigerator and whisk in mascarpone until smooth.  Set aside.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum.
  8. Drizzle approximately 1 tbsp of the coffee/rum mixture over the cupcakes (if you want them a little more "soaked" you can always add more)
  9. Spread the mascarpone mixture over the soaked ladyfingers.
  10. Pipe or spread the whipped cream over the mascarpone.
  11. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. 
  12. Optionally, top with chocolate curls.  
  13. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.
Dear hubby tried these cupcakes as seperate parts. He was skeptical after each individual element, but I have to say, when they were together as one piece of art, they tasted amazing! My friend that requested this recipe asked though for a tiramisu cupcake without the coffee. I'm sorry Kris, but I just couldn't do it. I had to stick with the coffee content in these cakes. I know you wanted your coffee in your cup, but I think that would taste great along side one of these babies!

So what's up next, well you'll have to check back and see just what we venture into. If I remember correctly there's a big game or something coming up!  See ya soon!!

Kid Friendly Homemade Ice Cream

So, I've jumped on the band wagon. Kicking and screaming, as if I need something else to get my attention, I've been pinned. Pinned to Pinterest! The website where you can plan your make believe wedding, your make believe kids, your make believe house, and all of it's make believe furnishings! My house looks nothing like any of those pictures on there, but it gives me great inspiration. There are several places I draw my inspiration from, my family, my friends, my kids, Cupcake Project, and many other wonderful sites on the web, this one is no different.

After a long day in the kitchen making this and this, I sat down in my living room and picked up what dear hubby thinks is my new extremity, my Droid, and brought up Pinterest. As I was scrolling through the pictures, picking my favorites and repinning, I came across one for Homemade Ice Cream in a Ziploc bag. Oh I had to try this. I summonsed my kitchen help, a.k.a. Aiden, my 6 year old, and off to the kitchen we went. After 8 minutes, and 6 frost bitten hands (after dear hubby had to join in) we had ice cream!! And really good ice cream at that.

Now to my 6 year old ice cream is ice cream, no matter what taste, shape, or color. Any will do. For my dear hubby, ice cream extraordinaire, this ice cream just didn't make the cut. He felt it had too greasy of a texture (I'm sure this happened because I used heavy cream rather than half & half). I fell somewhere right in the middle.

 I'm usually not a plain vanilla fan, chocolate is more my speed, but this vanilla ice cream was good. And it was even better when I added just a dab of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. So how did we do this you ask? It's easy! Here's how!

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

2 TB sugar
1 cup half & half (or light cream)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarse salt or table salt(I used canning salt)
gallon-sized Ziploc bag
quart-sized Ziploc bag

Place sugar, half & half, and vanilla in a quart-sized bag and seal well.

Fill gallon-size bag 1/2 full with ice, add salt. Place quart-size bag inside gallon-size bag and seal bag.

Shake bags around for 5 minutes (If you use heavy cream you will need to shake it about 8 minutes)

Remove quart-size bag from gallon bag, rinse with cold water and serve!
As you can see, we ended up using towels to hold onto our bags, it makes your hands really, really cold. But a little frost bite on your hands is worth it for some pretty tasty ice cream! It's that easy! And you can store any leftovers in the freezer (that is if you have any leftovers)!  I think this would make a great treat for a kid's birthday party, and I'm sure you could add in any kind of toppings or flavors you'd like once it was frozen. The possibilities are endless!!

So there you have it! A pin that you really can achieve!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Peppermint Mocha Kahlua Marshmallows, Take 1

Okay, so as all of  you know, I've changed the format of this blog a little. I've gone from trying to stritcly show off my cupcake and cake pop creations, to sharing all of the great recipes I come across that I just can't wait to share with the world. This was supposed to be one of those recipes. I happened across this recipe when I was looking at blogs that were listed with I thought to myself, what a great reason to go buy that beatiful brown bottle of Kahlua I've been swooning over since before Christmas. Let's just say this recipe didn't turn out the way I was expecting it to. This just goes to show that even when you follow the directions with all of the right ingredients, if the tilt of the earth is not quite right, marshmallows won't set up. Okay, okay, so I can't blame it on the tilt of the earth, wasn't it just Nationa Blame It On Someone Else Day?

The above picture is about the best picture I got out of this entire process. I should have known from the beginning that this wasn't going to work. First off, here's the recipe I used, I got it here.

Peppermint Mocha Kahlua Marshmallows – yield one 9×9 tray
3 packages unflavored gelatin (I did not have packages of gelatin, I had a bulk bag, I found online that that each package contains about 2 teaspoons of gelatin)
1/2 c Peppermint Mocha Kahlua
2/3 c light corn syrup
1/4 c water
2 c granulated sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c icing sugar
1 tbs espresso powder (optional)

In the bowl of a standing mixer pour in Peppermint Mocha Kahlua.  Sprinkle gelatin on top.  Set aside.
Line a 9×9 baking pan with plastic wrap and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Spray a spatula with non-stick spray and set with your pan.

In a medium size sauce pan add corn syrup, granulated sugar and water.  Turn to medium heat and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Try not to let any of the sugar mixture splash up the sides of the pan.  Stop stirring and clip on your candy thermometer.  Heat mixture without stirring until it reaches 240 F.
Once it hits 240 F (soft ball stage) remove from heat and pour directly over the Peppermint Mocha Kahlua.  It’s gonna bubble and steam.  Attach the whisk attachment to your standing mixer and start mixing.  Start on low and increase to high so it won’t splash everywhere.  Mix on high for 10 minutes or until your peaks get stiff. Do not scrap down the bowl.

Using your prepared spatula pour mixture into your prepared pan.  The stuff is STICKY and stringy so be prepared.  Once in the pan let sit for 4 hours or overnight until set.

Once set flip onto a cutting board and using a greased pizza cutter cut marshmallows into what ever size you like.  In a large ziplock bag add confectioners sugar, corn starch and espresso powder.  Shake the marshmallows in the mixture to prevent them from sticking together.

Now, let's jump back to the part where it says to use your candy thermometer, yep, first mistake. I could not find my candy thermometer anywhere! But I thought, 240 degrees is 240 degrees right? Why do I have to use a candy thermometer, I have a thermometer we use for our turkey deep fryer, that should work! Apparently not! As soon as I put it in the boiling pot of sugar, it immediatly went to 240. I've worked with candy long enough to know it doesn't set to soft ball stage the instant it boils so I knew I needed to let it boil a little longer. And I remember seeing something somewhere about dropping some of the mixture into water to see what stage it was at, well tried that too. Who knows what stage mine was it, certainly not set enough for marshmallows, I found that out a little too late in the process though.

After I mixed the syrup into the gelatin and Kahlua and whisked it to high heaven it still wouldn't peak, even after 15 minutes. I just had this sick feeling in my stomach that this wasn't working, and no, I didn't sample too much of the Kahlua! I kept on going, I poured the mixture into my prepared pan and with a slight glimmer of hope I let them sit. Afterall, in the original recipe she says that they'll be sticky and mine were totally sticky!

It says to let the mixture sit for 4 hours or overnight (now in my world, my overnight is a little longer than 4 hours) but I couldn't wait so 4 hours came and went, it was time to sample these delectible delights and dunk them in some hot chocolate.

Here's what they ended up like!

Yeah, from what I remember, marshmallows aren't supposed to run, unless they're oozing out from between two graham crackers. Now you see why this is titled Take 1. This whole process didn't turn out the way I had hoped, the good thing is, now I know, and I still have some Kahlua left so Round 2 will be coming soon!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lemon Olive Oil Cupcake with Goat Cheese Frosting

I have been a fan of the show Cucpake Wars since it started a few years ago, but what's with all of the odd flavors. Every time I watch the show it makes me want to get up off of my butt and go into my pantry and find the oddest flavors I can find an throw them into a cupcake. And as all of you know, they would turn out perfect! They would taste wonderful and everyone would want to indulge in a sea of odd cupcake creations right? Yeah, not so much. Well I was inspired after watching all of my DVR'd episodes over Christmas break to actually try making something that I hear so much about on Cupcake Wars. I alway hear them talking about mascarpone cheese and swiss meringue buttercream (I'll get to those someday). And what about goat cheese? Goat Cheese? Really? On a cupcake? Yes! On a cupcake!

I had never tried goat cheese before in my life. I figured I better try it first before putting it on or in a cupcake so that I know if it really tastes the way it should. I went to the grocery and bought a single package of goat cheese. It reminded me a lot of cream cheese but with more of a tang to it. It was very creamy and smooth, but again, I couldn't get past the sour tang that the cheese left behind. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either, and I figured that anything with powdered sugar and a cupcake behind it wouldn't taste so bad in the end anyway. So now that I've tasted the cheese. What was I going to put with it to make my tastebuds happy? I needed a flavor that wasn't as strong as the cheese, or anything that would overpower it. I did some searching again, on my most favorite cupcake site, and found a recipe for an olive oil cupcake. I thought to myself, I've always wanted to try an olive oil cupcake, sounds like now is the time (and I liked it even more that I had most of the ingredients on hand to make it). Here's the recipe with the changes that I made to it.

Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes

Makes about 12 cupcakes.
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 2/3 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 C lemon juice
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh thyme (I left this out of my cupcakes)
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest and rub together to extract the fragrant oil from the zest.
  3. Add olive oil and mix on high speed until completely combined (preferably with the whisk attachment).
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on slow speed.
  6. Add half of the lemon juice and continue mixing.
  7. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the lemon juice and the remaining flour mixture and beat until combined between each addition.
  8. Stir in the thyme (Again, I left this out because I didn't have any on hand)
  9. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
  10. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until they bounce back when touched. (This is different from the original recipe. I found that baking things at a higher temp in my oven really dries them out.)

These cupcakes came out nice and fluffy, and had a great lemon flavor to them. I think the next time I make them though, I will use a little more lemon zest in them, but I like my lemon cupcakes to be lemony, you do yours however you like.

Next onto the goat cheese frosting. I figured that I couldn't use just the goat cheese by itself, so I added in some cream cheese. Here's the recipe I used for the frosting.

Goat Cheese Frosting

8 oz of goat cheese, room temperature
8 oz of cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups of confectioner's sugar

Combine goat cheese and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl with whisk attahcment. The cheeses will become very creamy the more you mix them. Slowly add in the powdered sugar until it is well combined and easy to spread or pipe onto the cupcakes.

That's it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy! I piped the frosting on the cupcakes and topped with these cute little sugar bees that I found here.

These were such a different tasting cupcake. The cake itself had a nice olive oil taste to it along with the lemon and then the tang of the goat cheese just played nicely with the cupcakes. I'm still trying to figure out another flavor of cupcake that would compliment this tangy yet smooth frosting. I guess I'm going to have to keep trying!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chicken Cheddar Cheese Soup Bread Bowls

I'm sitting here thinking as I look out my front window, "what is the date today? Hmm? January 11,2012. Shouldn't we have at least a little bit of snow by now?" This is just crazy, yesterday it was 48 degrees, today it's raining, maybe by the weekend we'll get a dusting of snow. A dusting? Really God? It's January in Ohio, you do remember what that's supposed to be like right? I guess I shouldn't complain too much, it has been kind of nice not being a prisoner in my own home because of 30 inch snow drifts. Don't get me wrong, I'll take the rain and 40 degree temperatures any day over snow and ice, but once in a while to make it feel like winter it's nice to be able to shovel snow. What?! Did I really just say that?! Yes, I did.

As I was putting together my grocery list last week, I thought to myself, I should really make some soup. That sounds good. Ooohh, and even better yet, let's make soup and put it in bread bowls!! Homemade bread bowls!! So I filled out what seemed like a never ending list of items and off to the grocery I went. I decided on Chicken Cheddar Cheese Soup in Sourdough Bread Bowls.

Now, just a little note for all of you adventurous people out there, sourdough bread is not something you can just whip up over night, much to my surprise. It has to be planned, grown, fed, and cared for like an infant child. Minus the dirty diapers :o) I decided I better start this over a weekend. Here's the sourdough recipe that I used.

3 c warm water (approx. 110 degrees F)
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit until the yeast becomes foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the yeast does not foam, discard the mixture and begin again with a new yeast.)
Add the flour and stir vigorously to work air into the mixture. Cover with a towel let rest in a warm, draft-free place (an oven with its pilot light or light bulb turned on works well) for 8 to12 hours. (The mixture should become very bubbly.) Use immediately or cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Preserving the Starter:  Each time you remove a portion of the starter for a recipe, reserve at least 1/4 cup and replace the amount you have taken out with equal amounts of flour and water.
For example, if you remove 1 cup of starter, you must replace it with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Whisk these ingredients into the starter until blended but not completely smooth, cover loosely, and return to the refrigerator. Also, the starter must be maintained by feeding it every few days. Refresh by removing 1 cup of the starter (give to a friend or discard it) and adding 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Whisk until blended but not smooth. Cover loosely and return to the refrigerator.
If you plan to be away longer than a week, freeze the starter in a sterilized, airtight freezer container. Thaw the starter 2 days before you plan to bake with it. Refresh as indicated above with 1 cup each of flour and warm water. Cover and leave at room temperature 12 hours or overnight before using.

CAUTION: Never keep your starter tightly closed! The gasses expelled by the yeast will build up pressure and may cause the container (such as a glass jar) to burst!

I left my mixture sit over night before using it to mix up the bread. I have a feeling though, that had I left it longer and "fed" it a few times that the bread would have had a much sour taste to it.

2 cups bread flour ( I used all-purpose and it worked fine)
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter

3/4 teaspoon salt

In a bowl mix all ingredients together. Once it starts to mix together pour it out onto a lightly floured work surface and mix until combined well. Try not to over work dough. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and knead gently, removing any large air bubbles. Knead into a small circle, then shape into a tight ball (for bread bowls, separate dough in half and shape into two tight balls), pinching the seams together underneath. Place on a well-floured board or baking peel, seam-side down. Cover with a kitchen towels and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Once dough has risen, preheat oven to 400 and lower oven rack to the lowest setting. With a sharp serrated knife cut an "X" in the top of the dough. Bake dough for 60 minutes or until outside is a nice golden brown color. I brushed the outside of my bread bowls with butter when they came out of the oven.

Mixing the water, yeast, sugar, and flour.

This is what the mixture looked like after sitting overnight.

The beginnings of the sourdough bread.

Split dough into two balls for bread bowls.

Allow dough to rise and then cut an "X" pattern in the top.

The beautiful babies after they come out of the oven!

  As if these weren't good enough to eat, I decided to fill them with one of my most favorite soup recipes. We have a restaurant here in Sidney, C.J. Highmarks. They have the absolute best Chicken Cheese Soup. It's always so warm and cheesy, I've been trying for years to replicate this recipe. Well to my surprise a few years ago, my mother-in-law created one that was pretty darn close to their recipe. Here's how you make it.

Chicken Cheddar Cheese Soup
3 large chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 lb. velveeta cheese, cubed
1 1/2 cups whole milk
scallions, chopped for topping
shredded cheddar cheese

Boil the potatoes, carrots, and onions in a pan until tender. Drain, place back in pan and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, melt Velveeta cheese in a 1/2 cup of milk on low heat. Watch this closely, stir frequently, this can burn very easily, trust me, I've done it more than once :)  Once cheese is melted, pour the cheese mixture over the potatoes and carrots and place back on the stove. Add in chicken. Turn burner on low and add remaning 1 cup of milk. Simmer on low until soup thickens. Pour soup into bread bowls, top with shredded cheese and scallions. Serve and Enjoy!!!

Peeled potatoes, with the best ever potato peeler from Wal-Mart!

Boil potatoes, carrots, and onions.

Cheese sauce ready to mix into potatoes and carrots.

Add in chicken and remaining milk.

 Even on a not so cold, rainy winter day this soup is perfect! It takes a little time to put it all together, and you can certainly cheat on the bread bowl part and buy some from a "P" named restaurant (their's are pretty good) but from scratch is even better!! Enjoy the soup! And check back to see what I made for dessert!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Man's Cupcake

So a few months ago dear hubby went to a little get together with some of his best buddies. Me being the wife that I am and the cupcake fanatic I am I decided to send along some of my most favorite Chocolate Stout Cupcakes. Although all of the guys devoured them (like most people would), one of our good friends sent home a challenge made just for me. He requested at their next "man party" that I make Meatloaf Cupcakes with Brown Gravy and Mashed Potatoes. Well, that can't be too hard. Let's give it a shot. Now let me give you a little back ground here.

I, myself grew up on meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I've loved it since before I even knew what meatloaf was, and even after I knew I still love it. However, in my current household, I never get to make it. Dear hubby is anti-meatloaf, in fact he's anti-anything with the word loaf in it, kind of guy. Well, except for bread. Anyways, I rarely get the opportunity to make meatloaf so this challenge was not only exciting to figure out, but a scrumptious idea because, did I mention, I LOVE MEATLOAF!

I did some searching online and came across a website that I knew had to have tasty, sinful recipes on it, besides the name is that just screams goodness! She infact had a meatloaf and mashed potatoes cupcake recipe. I headed right to the grocery and meat market! I used her recipe and changed it up a little bit to accomodate the request for brown gravy. Here's what we ended up with.

Meatloaf Cupcakes filled with brown gravy topped with mashed potates and more gravy. Oh yeah, and baked in bacon "cupcake liners"!

This recipe is very easy to follow. Here's their recipe with my changes added in.

For the meatloaf:

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 small onion, grated
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup panko crumbs
2-3 splashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons parsley
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the sauce:

1 package brown gravy mix
1 cup of cold water

For the potato “icing”:

3 cups potatoes, chopped into chunks
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons melted butter


Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Prepare the meatloaf by combining all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix until incorporated.  Don’t over handle the mixture or the meatloaf may be too dense. Lightly spray a cupcake tin with nonstick cooking spray.  Fill each cup with a small handful of the meat mixture, gently pressing it down until it is completely filled. (If you want the bacon "cupcake liners" simply cut a strip of bacon in half and make an "X" in the bottom of the cupcake tin pressing down gently and then add in the meatloaf mixture). Bake for 40 min or until the meat is cooked through.

While the meat is baking, boil the potatoes until tender, drain. Place potatoes back in pan or in a bowl and whip with egg yolk, heavy cream, salt and butter.  Fit a pastry bag with a large star or round tip (I had to use a round tip, I still had some chunks in my potatoes) and fill with the potato mixture. I placed the bag of potatoes in the fridge until the meatloaves were done.

On the stove combine the brown gravy mix and water according to the package directions. Let cool slightly.

Turn the broiler in the oven on and set the rack to the highest setting.

Using a sharp knife hollow out the center of each cupcake making a well to place some brown gravy in. Spoon about a teaspoon/tablespoon (whatever will fit without running out) into the well. Pipe some potato “icing” on top of each cupcake.  Put the cupcakes under the broiler for a few minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned.

Remove from the oven, drizzle some more gravy over the top if you so desire, and get ready to enjoy a most manly, fantastic meatloaf and mashed potatoes cupcake!

Makes 12-16 meatloaf cupcakes.

This meatloaf recipe was so good. It will be my go to recipe for those few times that I actually get to make it here at the Campbell House. Oh, and the verdict is still out on whether I won the challenge or not. I'm thinking I did, and I'm waiting to hear what the next challenge will be!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Corporate Cake Pops!

What some of you might not know about me is that this is just my part time job. You see, I have a wide variety of education and employment back ground (I guess I'm still trying to find my niche in life). I have gone from being in Business Adminstration, to Computer Science, to Medical Assisting, to Massage Therapy, to Medical Billing & Coding, and now to Cupcakes and Cake Pops. And all of these jobs have pretty much been at the same Physicians Office that I've been at now for close to 13 years. It's a great job and I get to meet so many new and interesting people. I've met some of my best friends there. I've also had alot of corporate networking opportunities. Which is was leads me to this post. We recently switched to a new Network IT company. Agil IT. Now I have to say, this company has alot of great employees. Very well educated. Very dedicated to their jobs. Very focused. But also alot of fun! I've gotten to know a few of them very well. Check out their page and you'll see just what I'm talking about. I decided it was time to pay AgilIT back for all of the hard work that they have done for us.  I decided to make Wes and his crew some cake pops. And what would be better than to make cake pops look like their company logo.

I love doing stuff like this. I love the look on people's faces when you hand them a special treat made just for them. I've always thought it would be fun to work for a florist. To be able to deliver flowers all day long, well except for the funeral part of it. That's why I think cupcakes and cake pops are even better! Agil IT has been a great company to work with and I would highly suggest them for any of your IT needs. They are a great group of people to work with. In fact I've been challenged  asked to do more cake pops for some of their other customers. I hope they have turned out how they wanted them.

Kettering Family Practice logo Cake Pops

Chocolate Cake Pops for KFP

 If anyone is interested in ordering any Cupcakes or Cake Pops for their company of any of their associates please let me know. I'd love to keep trying different designs!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Eskimo Ice Cream Cupcakes

Recipe Post #3. So now that you've been here a few times what do you think? I keep telling myself that I want to keep trying new recipes, new foods, new techniques in cooking, in fact those are number 4, 5, and 6 on my 2012 New Years Resolution list. Number 1, 2, and 3 I'm still working on, you know, the typical ones, loose weight, exercise, be more organized. Ok, so I haven't done great so far, but hey, It's only the 4th of January, I've got time! This blog is another part of my resolutions, I want to have some place where people can come see what's going on in my kitchen. A place where new and exciting recipes can be found, as well as those old, traditional, family favorites. I started this blog with the intentions of growing my cupcake business, and it has helped, but I want now to focus more on what is going on, rather than just the end result. I want you to share with your family and friends these great recipes and ideas. Today's recipe I had never heard of until this past summer when I met and became friends with this crazy lady that dear hubby was doing some work for. You see, he's kind of a handy, fix-it-all kind of guy, who has the gift of gab with people. I met my now new friend Kris while dear hubby was installing some new windows. We chatted for a bit and the next thing you know, we're discussing recipes and cupcakes. She asked me if I had ever heard of Akutaq (pronouced a-goo-duk). Me being a midwestern flatlander I responded with an odd look I'm sure and politely said no. She told me that she thought it would make a great addition to a cupcake. She forwarded me the recipe and told me a little history and traditions behind akutaq. I thought after reading the recipe, how in the world would this ever work as part of a cupcake. I kind of dismissed the idea of using it and went on with baking cupcakes that were "normal".

After a few months the thought finally came back to me again that I really should try this recipe, after hearing Kris talk about it and watching some videos online I decided it was time to try it. After all, New Year's Resolution #4 & #8 are to try new recipes and to add an element of surprise to my blog. So here goes!

Akutaq (again, it's pronounced a-goo-duk for us non-Yupik folk) is a Yupik word for mix it together. For white man it's Eskimo Ice Cream. This recipe has been made by native Alaskans for many years as a food for survival.  When they went out to go hunting they brought along akutaq. Akutaq can also be made with moose meat and fat, caribou meat and fat, fish, seal oil, berries and other Alaskan things. But no worries, there is no fish, moose, caribou or any other living, breathing item in my recipe.

I have to stop for a minute and add a bit of honesty here. I know. It sounds disgusting, and it wasn't until I mixed it all together and tasted the smallest little bit that I possibly could that I realized, this isn't so bad after all. In fact, I remember the first word out of my mouth, "WOW". As in, "this is really good, why haven't I tried this before now?"

Okay, so, back to the recipe. I was trying to figure out just how I could use this with a cupcake and then I came across this. A cold-oven pound cake. Yep, that's right. Cold Oven. When I read the title of that recipe I can honestly say that I was confused and wondered if it was some type of no-bake cupcake. But that's not what the recipe said, it said Cold-Oven Pound Cake (honestly it probably should be called cooler temperature oven pound cake, but that doesn't sound as cool!) My friend Stef at Cupcake Project is amazing with cupcake recipes, a true cupcake genius! If you get the chance you should check out her website. So anyways, I was thinking, with this Akutaq I needed a cupcake that wasn't so expressive, or bold in flavor. The pound cake recipe was perfect!  I made it just how it was written. You see cold oven pound cake is just your typical pound cake recipe baked in an oven that is not preheated and baked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. She also mentioned in the recipe that she baked half at the lower not preheated temperature and half at a preheated 350 degree temperature. I did the same. Both batches turned out amazing, with slightly different textures and flavors. You do whichever you prefer, or maybe even both. I have to say, the recipe says that it makes 20 cupcakes, from one single recipe I got easily 48 cupcakes so beware.

For the cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 3 C sugar
  • 6 eggs (cold)
  • 3 C sifted cake flour (I used all-purpose flour since that was all I had on hand, and it worked well)
  • 1 C whole milk, VERY cold
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t almond extract (Use any extract here that you like)
  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  3. Beat in flour, one cup at a time, alternating with milk.
  4. Add extracts.
  5. Beat on medium-high to high speed for two minutes, scraping down sides of bowl.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
  7. Place on middle rack in a COLD oven and bake at 275 F for 1 hour.
If you decide you'd prefer doing the preheated cupcakes, just preheat to 350 and bake for 15-17 minutes.

Simple ingredients, butter, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, flour, sugar, and milk.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs.

Add in flour and milk. Mix well. Add in the extracts.

The finished batter. It smelled wonderful and reminded me of my mom's sugar cookies.

My little 1/2 pint kitchen helper!

Fill the cups 3/4 full. Place on center rack of a cold oven. Preheat to 275 and bake.

The finished cold oven almond pound cakes.

A closer look at the cold oven ones. A nice chewy layer on the top of the cakes. A great almond flavor to the cake.

The batch baked in a preheated 350 degree oven. More of a flaky top crust, but more of a dense cake and less almond flavor.

Just another shot of the preheated oven ones.

Okay, so there are your cupcakes. Like I mentioned in the captions to the pictures, the cold oven cupcakes came out with a chewy top crust to the cakes with a little stronger almond flavor. The preheated oven ones had the flaky top crust, more of a dense cake with less of an almond flavor. I'm not sure if the higher temperature does something to the almond extract or not. They both tasted amazing though! I'd recommend them either way. And they are great plain, with no topping. But personally I like a nicely dressed cupcake. So onto the topping!! Oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention. I would say that neither of these recipes are heart healthy, just sayin!!  :o)

For the Akutaq:

2 cups mashed potatoes. (Traditionally this part is made with boiled slamon or white fish.)
1 cup of lard or Crisco (I was able to get lard from my M.I.L. so that's what I used)
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Canola oil (I left this out. It was soft when I mixed it together, I didn't feel it needed more oil)
1 quart of salmon berries (I couldn't use these, salmon berries are not readily available in Ohio :)
1 quart of red raspberries
1 quart of blueberries

Mix mashed potatoes and lard together. Slowly add in sugar until it's very well combined. Beat on med high for about 3 minutes to make sure it is very well mixed. Slowly add in berries. Keep refrigerated.

Now, I knew that I was using this to top a cupcake so I mixed the berries in with my mixer, from what I mostly saw online, it is usually mixed by hand or the berries are folded in after mixing the other ingredients together. Another note of interest, I was feeling lazy today, so I used instant mashed potato flakes. I'm not sure if it would change the consistency of the Akutaq if you were to use real potatoes. I'm sure it would make it a bit more stiff. I'll try that next time, but for now, it worked using instant.

Here you go! The final product! Eskimo Ice Cream Cupcakes!  A little piece of Alaska wherever you are in the world!!