Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Treats: Baking Extravaganza

The last two weeks I've been going crazy. Crazily baking lots of different treats. Fortunately, I have a great taste tester, who will give me a pretty honest opinion and I'm not eating it all by myself. So, here is my baking recap for the past two weeks:

Sunday, September 12 - Molten Lava Cakes (The only thing I changed on this was used 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1/3 cup milk chocolate. I love milk chocolate.)
   Matt really loved this one. My sister also made it after I recommended it, and she and her husband loved it as well. So I'd definitely say this one is a hit. Oh, I liked it as well.... SUCCESS!

Wednesday, September 15 - Texas Sheet Cake
   Ok, so this one didn't turn out so well for me. And I'm not exactly sure why. Half of it tasted too sweet. The other half was pretty good. After baking this, I learned our oven was slightly crooked, so we got that fixed, but I doubt that's what caused the overall uneven distribution of sugar. I'd like to try this again, but I'm a little hesitant. Maybe I just need to use less sugar. So, I rated this one as FAILURE, but has potential.

Friday, September 17 - Fortune Cookies
   This was a FAILURE. At least I'm pretty sure it was. I've never made them before, nor had homemade ones, so I wasn't completely sure how they are supposed to turn out. It seems like it should be super easy, there are 5 ingredients!, but I couldn't figure it out. Are they actually supposed to turn out crispy like the fortune cookies from restaurants? If so, ya, I failed. I'll have to have someone show me how to bake these.

Sunday, September 19 - Key Lime Pie (I used lime juice instead of juicing limes; I think it might have tasted better had I juiced limes, so next time I will.)
   Super super easy. This recipe was easy. I'm not sure if they're all that way. But it tasted alright. I give it a PASS. It turned out, and tasted ok. Next time I'll try to see if there is a way to make it even better. Oh, and my taste tester gave the same opinion: it was good, just not the best he'd ever had. Also, I made my whipped cream (whipping cream and powdered sugar), seriously there is nothing better than homemade whipped cream.

Sunday, September 19 - Brazillian Lemonade
   So, this is supposed to be like the Tucanos Brazillian Lemonade. I think I need to try Tucanos version again (it's been a while) to see how mine compares. My taste tester said it was good, but I wasn't impressed. I thought it was too limey. I suppose for now this will be a PASS.

Wednesday, September 22 - Hi-Hat Cupcakes (recipe actually comes from Martha Stewart)

   Well, Matt saw me looking at this recipe on Bakerella's site, and he really wanted some. I gave it a shot. It was difficult for me, and I got frustrated and had to break it out over 2 days. The end result was ok, but not quite up to the pictures of what it's supposed to look like. I had a lot of trouble with the frosting, not to mention I got really tired of mixing it with a hand mixer for 12 minutes (you can't use a standing mixer). I think the frosting turned out too sweet, so IF I make it again I'll probably reduce the sugar amount. Matt really liked the end result. We had a friend try it, and he said it was a little too sweet for him too. So, this is just a PASS.

Thursday, September 23 - Banana Bread
   A couple of months ago I made some banana bread, and it was too dry. This time around I used my mom's recipe (she makes some yummy banana bread). Her recipe was much better. I still think it's a little dry, so maybe I'll add some apple sauce the next time. This is a SUCCESS.

This past Sunday I kept it simple with chocolate chip cookies and had an ice cream cookie sandwich. It was delicious. I have this great chocolate chip cookie recipe from my sister-in-law. And it uses Guittard milk chocolate chips; they are scrumptious! Oh, and this was definitely a SUCCESS!

After typing up all my baking experiments, I think I will take a little baking break, and just do it once or twice a week. Especially since the holidays are coming up soon, I'll need all that baking energy :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello.

Goodbye Summer. I'm REALLY going to miss you.

Summer Highlights:
Visiting with my AWESOME sister and her family :)
Quitting a job - I actually miss it.
Being with my best friend, FOREVER.
Moving to a whole new state.
Hawaii... oh, I'll miss warm weather.
Baking lots of treats.
Cooking real meals, for pretty much the first time. I feel so accomplished :)

Hello Fall. I LOVE you.

Things I'm Looking Forward To:
Fall TV shows! I always love a good tv show, and there seem to be so many that I'm interested this time around. Last Fall I did not want to get into GLEE, BUT I'm REALLY looking forward to the premiere tonight. I told my sister I was more excited for Glee than Chuck, and she couldn't believe it. But I think it's because I love good music, and that show just makes me happy and want to sing out loud.
Fall colors.
Baking MORE treats. (Good thing I exercise.)
Starting my sewing phase.
Visiting family.
Holidays - FFF - Family, Friends, Food. Doesn't get much better than that.

Welcome Fall, I embrace you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What's on Your Mind?

Love this show.
*last night I got a text from my sister-in-law and my sister, seriously back-to-back, saying "Guess what?!" that's right, we're all in love with Chuck and we've all got it on our minds. if you're not a fan yet, i bet you'd like it :)*

Monday, September 13, 2010

i LOVE running.

Those are 3 words I thought I'd never say. But as soon as I started running this morning that was all I could think! By the time the 15th minute came along I was debating it, but when I pushed through for another 15 minutes that feeling of accomplishment came, and I felt great again.

I don't really like running, because I kind of find it boring and hard work. But I like the burn, sweat, and pain that come while running. That feeling that I know I'm burning calories makes me happy. The extra energy right at the end, when you think you can't go anymore, is awesome. Knowing I can make it through a half hour of running - no stopping - is even better than losing 20 pounds. Being sore because I run, makes me satisfied.

So, now I'm trying to get my sister hooked and we are setting our goal high and going to run a 5K. (Ok, we don't like to run, so that kind of is setting high expectations for us :). Neither of us have ever run a race, so it'll definitely be a new experience. And I'm hoping it won't kill my new found love of running. But just make me work even harder.
our "thought of running" faces

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday Treats: Chocolate Cupcakes

Yesterday the hubby and I celebrated 2 whole months of wedded bliss. So, in celebration of that, and to stick to my goal from a couple of weeks ago to make my own cupcakes, I made the following treat. It was a big hit with the Mr. I won't tell you how many he ate. :)

So, this recipe comes from Martha Stewart and I just added a couple of chocolatey extras, turning it into Triple Chocolate Cupcakes.

Makes 18 to 24
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Milk Chocolate Chips and Chocolate Frosting

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
    2. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. *Sprinkle with Milk Chocolate chips* Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. *Frost with chocolate frosting (I used Betty Crocker Whipped Milk Chocolate Frosting - so good!).
    The * is where I added my little twists. Also, the great thing is this recipe is super easy, but delicious! Enjoy!

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Where in the World: Hawaii

    Our first vacation together was to Oahu, Hawaii. Already one month ago. It was SO beautiful! And such a wonderful break escape... from Matt's work (I didn't have a job at the time, so really I wasn't taking a break from something).
    At Pearl Harbor
    Polynesian Culture Center
     We had a lot of fun. We went to Pearl Harbor, took a tour around downtown Honolulu, swam with sharks (yes, I actually swam with sharks!), went to North Shore, jumped off the famous jumping rock (ok, only Matt did this), Polynesian Culture Center, Laie Temple, lots of fun hole-in-the-wall stores, Dole Plantation, snorkeling, and hiking!

    The whole time we were there Matt was trying to think of ways we could move there. Once we left, I think, he finally gave up on that idea. We decided we need a place where we can vacation to that's paradise. But how awesome would it be to walk outside your house and be at the beach? Or have perfect weather all year round? I'm pretty sure that is something I could get used to.

    And now that Fall has started to arrive here in Washington, I really wish I could go back. Summers here in the Northwest, just don't cut it. And what's worse, Fall comes about a month earlier than what I'm used to. Sweatshirts in August?! That's just absurd.
    August 2010