Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nutella Muffin Cakes

So one of the coolest things happened last week – I felt my little boy kick for the first time!  One day I wasn’t feeling anything, and then all of sudden I felt this small poke. And now, that’s all I feel!  He’s moving around like crazy, especially at night.  It’s one of the best and weirdest feelings I’ve ever felt.  And Steve gets to fell him kick as well.  He’s kicking so hard sometimes that you can feel him just by holding your hand on my belly.  I know.  Crazy!  But I guess at 21 weeks this is what happens :).

Now onto these Muffins, or Cupcakes, or Muffin Cakes as I call them.  They have a slightly sweet flavor, but not sweet enough to be a cupcake.  I always think a cupcake should have a large dollop of frosting on top too.  And these don’t quite have sugary frosting, but they do have a self-frosted Nutella swirl on top.  So, not just a muffin, not just a cupcake, but a muffin cake.

These are a great alternative to your normal muffin.  The Nutella swirl really adds a special touch.  I’m already thinking of different types of “self-frosting” to use, such as peanut butter and Biscoff.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Red Velvet Funnel Cakes

Happy Memorial Day!  Thank you to all the men and women who have served our country, both past and present.

Because today is such a special holiday, I’m sure many of you have the day off from work and/or school.  I hope you’ll either be relaxing, barbequing, baking and cooking, or really doing whatever you enjoy the most on this beautiful day.  I know Steve and I will be staying home and just relaxing.  We’ve had a crazy weekend and we need to just take some time off.  But don’t get me wrong, my type of relaxing is not just sitting and doing nothing.  I’ll definitely be in the kitchen creating some type of fun dessert.  And I think I’ll start with these Red Velvet Funnel Cakes!

I created this recipe earlier this year.  My mind was wrapped up creating unique Red Velvet Desserts.  I made several different desserts, such as Red Velvet Oreos and Red Velvet Baked Doughnuts.  I loved all of the desserts I created, but I was by far the most proud of these Funnel Cakes. 

This is my first Funnel Cake recipe that I created and they turned out better than I expected.  Even though they are fried, they are light and airy and not overly oily at all.  They are perfectly sweet with the special Red Velvet flavor.

Funnel Cakes are a great dessert to make this Memorial Day holiday.  They are such a fun and creative dessert to make for your family and friends.  And they couldn’t be easier!  You create a simple batter made out of ingredients that you probably already have on hand.  Heat up some oil on the stove and fry the funnel cake right there.  Dust with powdered sugar and in just minutes you’ve got a great summer dessert!

A special thank you to my brother-in-law, Johnny, who is an active MARSOC Marine.  We are so proud to have a brother like you.

Enjoy your Memorial Day!  And these Red Velvet Funnel Cakes!
For the recipe, click here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mini Wheat Bagels

Do you want to know one of my favorite blogs?  How Sweet It Is.  I have many, many blogs that I read.  That I would totally recommend you read them as well.  {You can find them on the right-hand column of my blog.}  But, of course, I have my favorites – Ones that I read everyday, no matter how busy I am.  And one that I just can’t go a day without reading is Jessica’s blog, How Sweet It Is.  I’ve loved her blog for quite some time, but I loved it even more when I met Jessica earlier this year.  Jessica is incredibly sweet, funny, and really down-to-earth and inviting.  I know, it totally sounds like I have a girl crush on her.  {And maybe I do haha :).}  But it just makes reading a blog so much worthwhile when you know the writer is someone so genuine.  So pretty much if you haven’t visited How Sweet, you have to!  Go now.  No wait, don’t go now!  I have a great recipe for you today!

While browsing Jessica’s blog one day I came across Homemade Bagels.  My husband and I are pretty much obsessed with bagels.  We love them.  They are definitely one of our favorite indulging breakfasts.  We normally just go up the street to get our bagels, but I really have always wanted to make some from scratch.  So finally, a couple months ago, I got in the kitchen and made my first batch of homemade bagels.

My favorite type of bagel is just a basic wheat bagel, so I knew this is where I needed to start.  The actual process of making the bagels is really no harder than making a bread rolls.  The only big difference is having to form the bagels.  But this takes no more than 5 minutes and is a lot easier than you may think.  Especially if you make Mini Bagels like I did!

Just like I thought, homemade bagels are completely worth it!  There is nothing like enjoying a bagel where you know exactly what ingredients went into that bagel. 


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sweet Plantains

When Steve played with the Mets in Florida, he fell in love with Sweet Plantains.  See, there are a lot of Dominicans in the Mets organization {really in baseball overall}.  Because of this, there was always rice, beans, and plantains for lunch and dinner during Spring Training.  There was a point where Steve got sick of rice and beans, but he never stopped liking the plantains.  I mean, how could he?  It’s a plantain sautéed in butter and sugar.  It’s dessert that you’re able to eat with your meal. 

This recipe is super simple and can be enjoyed at any time during the day.  It would be great as a side dish with your lunch or dinner, or can be served as dessert with some ice cream or whipped cream. 

If you've never had, or heard of, a plantain before, they look similar to a banana.  Except plantains are ripe and ready to eat when they are black.  Plantains are more starchy than bananas, and are rarely eaten raw.  You really need to cook them to get the most out of their flavor.  Plantains are a staple food in areas such as Latin America and Mexico, and are pretty much eaten every day with every meal.

To make the sweet plantains, all you need are plantains, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. The vanilla and the cinnamon aren’t necessary, but I think they add an extra sweetness and flavor.  Feel free to play around with quantities with the ingredients, adding and taking any away to satisfy your own taste. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Milk Bar Mondays: Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow Cookies

I know what you're probably thinking, "Those aren't the prettiest cookies I've ever seen."  And your right.  These cookies did not turn out like my other Milk Bar Monday cookie recipes {Confetti Cookies and Compost Cookies}.  At least in terms of appearance.  These Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow Cookies followed the same basic recipe as the other cookies.  I, of course, followed the recipe exactly as written, and didn't do anything different than before.  But, for some reason, they didn't hold their shape while baking, and flattened out.  

I was pretty disappointed when I saw how these cookies looked after taking them out of the oven.  
Until I took a bite.  Wow.  I was in shock.  They were incredible!  Seriously the best cookie I've had yet from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook.  With just one bite I tasted every flavor profile - sweet, salty, chewy, crispy, and gooey.  Inside these cookies is a homemade Cornflake Crunch {made of the favorite Cornflake Cereal}, mini chocolate chips, and mini marshmallow.  It's your favorite chocolate chip cookie, but turned up a huge notch!

In terms of flavor, this is definitely my new favorite cookie recipe.  I can't wait to get into the kitchen and tackle the shape and appearance of this cookie.  After that, I know this cookie have it all, and will be passed out to many, many friends and family.  

For the recipe, head on over to Averie's Blog, Averie Cooks.

And don't forget to check out the other girls' versions of these fabulous cookies:
Cassie from Bake Your Day
Meagan from Scarletta Bakes
Nicole from Sweet Peony
Jacqueline from The Dusty Baker
Audra from The Baker Chick
Erin from Big Fat Baker


Friday, May 18, 2012

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cookies

I must admit – I’m a prop junkie.  I love getting new plates, silverware, napkins, and much more, all for my food photography for the blog.  It’s funny because I used to spend all my money on clothes, and now spend all my money on kitchen items and photo props.  There was one point, probably a few months ago, when I would go to a different store weekly and purchase new items for the blog.  Finally, I took control of myself and stopped looking.  Now I just indulge ever so often on the occasional thrift store or Marshalls find.  

The things that I wish I had tons of but only have a few, are fun baking and party items like colorful straws, wooden spoons, cute bags and boxes, and ribbon and twine.  They are simple and small, but add so much to a food photo shoot and a party.  It’s these small details that really shine.  

A few weeks ago I received a wonderful package from Brooke at Lemon Drop Shop.  Included was some of the cutest supplies I’ve every seen!  I was seriously a giddy school-girl opening the package.  I couldn’t wait to bake something so I can use these items in a photo shoot.  I almost immediately whipped up a batch of these wonderful Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cookies.  These cookies were soft and buttery, and had this wonderful nutty flavor.  They were the perfect cookies to showcase all the fun supplies I received.

I’ve never made cookies with melted butter, let alone brown butter.  But now my eyes are opened and I can’t wait to experiment more with this delicious cookie recipe!

And if you’re ever looking for some cute baking and party supplies, please make sure to visit Lemon Drop Shop.  Her items are so colorful and fun!  I know this will be my go-to supply shop :).


*Lemon Drop Shop supplied the paper goods, twine, bags and boxes, and straws in these pictures.   However, everything stated in this post is my own opinion and I would feel the same and highly recommend Lemon Drop Shop even if I didn’t receive these items.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Corn Dogs

One of Steve and I’s favorite places is Disneyland.  I know it sounds super cliché, but other than home, it is one of our happiest places.  We have been going at least once a year ever since we got together and we always have the best time.  And we’re actually thinking about going again this year on our 3rd year Wedding Anniversary!  One of our favorite things about Disneyland is the food.  It’s the only place we can eat corn dogs, giant pickles, pineapple frozen yogurt {and much more!} without feeling guilty.  Now how that not be the happiest place on earth!

To tell you the truth, the corn dogs are on our favorites!  It’s this famous Red Truck that sells these corndogs that are so tasty.  These are the only corn dogs I eat.  Ever.  When I’m at home I never eat corn dogs.  I never eat hot dogs.  I really never even eat fried foods.  But one day I thought, why not try to make these corndogs at home.  It can’t be that hard – it’s just batter and hot dogs fried in oil.  Easy peasy.

And they were just as easy as I thought!  The batter takes 2 minutes to throw together and all you do is dip the hot dog in the batter and then place it in the hot oil to fry.  To make these even better, I made them into Mini Corn Dogs.  I love making things in mini-size; I just think they look so much cuter and more appealing.  I definitely think their size make them taste even better!

These are great for parties.  I’ve already made them at 2 different gatherings.  You just make them earlier in the day and then heat them up right before the party.  People love them!  They seriously eat them all up in minutes!

Oh, and these can be easily adapted to be Gluten-Free.  All you do is replace the All Purpose Flour with an All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour.  That's it.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Banana Blueberry Wheat Muffins

I love making new dishes.  I have my specialty dishes that I make all the time, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, homemade Pizza, and Risotto.  But I love throwing in new and fun recipes to our weekly menu.  I feel the same way with making desserts and baked goods.  I love making my favorite items, such as cupcakes and cake lollipops; but I also love creating new treats that I’ve never made before.

One day I wanted to make muffins – something I love to make and make all the time.  But I wanted to make them a little bit different.  Instead of making just a basic blueberry muffin, or banana muffin, I made a Banana Blueberry Muffin.  I found a great recipe and adapted it on the whim.  In just one try, they came out moist, flavorful, and incredibly light.  

I served these to my parents and they loved them!  And to tell you the truth, this is now one of my favorite muffin recipes.  I can’t wait to try new flavor combinations!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Pink, Purple, and Green Lemon Cake

Happy {early} Mothers Day! 
I hope all the Mothers, and Mothers-to-be, have a wonderful weekend filled with joy, and cake!  And to my mom, thank you for everything you do!  Your going to be the best grandma ever :).

To celebrate such a wonderful occasion, I made a delicious Lemon Cake for all the mothers out there.  To make it extra special, I added a girly-touch by frosting the entire cake in a pink-purple dyed effect, and sprinkling edible pearls around the bottom part of the cake.  Inside the cake is green buttercream to resemble the colors of a beautiful flower, pink, purple, and green.  

The flavors of this Lemon Cake really shine.  To tell you the truth, I have been looking for a lemon cake for such a long time.  All I could seem to find were dense, rich, pound-cake-like recipes.  Nothing was quite what I wanted.  Until I found this recipe.  It had all the right combinations of a good lemon cake.  Of course I had to adapt it to match my flavor-profile and tastes, and to make it more moist and buttery.  It ended up tasting almost exactly like my favorite vanilla cake, but with an extra tangy, lemon-y flavor.  

Now this is a lemon cake.  A real lemon cake.  Not a lemon pound cake. 
Lemon is such a great flavor for springtime and summer.  This cake would not only be the perfect addition to your Mothers Day weekend, but would be great anytime this spring or summer. 

Enjoy!  Have a happy, happy, happy Mother's Day!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mini Éclairs with Vanilla Pastry Cream

One of my first encounters with delicious, scratch-made pastries is from this bakery down my street, Hans and Harrys.  Every time we had company, or wanted something extra special for dessert, we would get desserts from this pastry shop.  Whether it was my sister’s favorite White Chocolate Mousse Cake, or Steve’s favorite Fresh Fruit Tartlets, we always enjoyed everything that came from this little shop. 

One of my favorite pastries from Hans and Harrys was their Chocolate Éclairs.  I loved the soft, egg-y pastry, filled with this delicious cream and dipped in Chocolate.  It truly was my first experience with a good quality pastry.  And to this day I will always remember those Chocolate Éclair.

Ever since I started baking a few years ago we haven’t even visited Hans and Harrys once.   I always bake the desserts for every get together and special together.  And I really enjoy this!  But it means that I needed to make sure I make bake pastries just as good as if it was from a bakery – Especially Fresh Fruit Tartlets and Éclairs. 

I tackled the tart a couple years ago but it took until this week to make Éclairs.  I wanted to make something special for Mothers Day and I was thinking something that my mom would really like.  She has always wanted to me to make Éclairs, so I thought no time better than now.  And I must admit, they came out fantastic! 

I never attempted Éclairs because I thought they would be difficult.  The Pate Choux (the pastry to make the Éclair dough) has always been very intimating to me.  But I knew that I had to try it sooner than later.  After giving it a first try, I now believe how easy it is!  The dough comes together in minutes and involves very simple ingredients.  The only thing that you have to remember is to not open the oven while the éclairs are baking.  They will deflate and not become puffy.  Also be sure to bake the éclairs until they turn a deep golden brown.  If you remove them from the oven too early they will not be filled with air and will again deflate.

To make these éclairs more special for mother’s day I made them in mini size.  I also made it easier and just split the éclairs in half instead of piping the vanilla pastry cream into the whole éclair.  I also decided to make two versions – some drizzled in chocolate, and the others dusted in confectioners sugar.

Oh, and for fun I made some small Cream Puffs.  All you do is pipe the dough in a small round instead of a long rectangle.  


Monday, May 7, 2012

Double Strawberry Almond Scones

I hope you all had a wonderful Cinco de Mayo weekend!   Now that Cinco de Mayo is over we can start focusing on Mothers Day.  Mothers Day is this Sunday and I’m really excited to share some wonderful recipes with you. 

One of the most popular things to do on Mothers Day is serve your mom breakfast in bed.  Or, you have a big breakfast or brunch with all your mom’s favorite items.  No matter what you do, there normally is some type of delicious breakfast item included on Mothers Day. 

Scones are always a great choice to serve on Mothers Day.  They are easy to throw together and everyone always loves them.  I love making scones for my mom, and I know that she always loves them.  She especially loves eating them in the morning with her coffee.

This is my favorite scone recipe.  I can add any flavors I want to it and it always comes out fantastic.  It’s soft and fluffy, and not dry or heavy at all!  It’s everything that I think a good scone should taste like.  

One of my favorite ingredients to make scones with is fresh fruit, especially strawberry.  This recipe includes fresh strawberries, strawberry jelly, sliced almonds, and a little bit of lemon juice.  The strawberry jelly adds another dimension of flavor and moistness, and the almonds add an amazing crunch.  I added the lemon juice just to pump up the strawberry flavor; you really can’t even taste the lemon flavor.  

I know these would be a wonderful addition to your Mother’s Day!  Make them for your mom.  Make them for your family.  Make them for your friend’s mom.  Or if you are a mom, make them with your children.  Or just to enjoy them yourself!

Enjoy :)

*Also, I was unable to participate in Milk Bar Mondays this week.  However, I highly recommend you go check out the other girls' blog who made the Milk Bar recipe.  It's a good one!

Audra from The Baker Chick
Nicole from Sweet Peony
Jacqueline from The Dusty Baker
Erin from Big Fat Baker

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