Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Pops

My daughter needed to do a project about pumpkins for school, so I decided to do a remake of pumpkin pops I made a while back.  Instead of making cake balls, I used the Oreo and cream cheese recipe from the Cupcake Pops I previously made.
Pumpkin Pops
adapted from My Little Cupcake and Bakerella
Supplies:
1 pkg. Oreo cookies
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
Orange candy melt
Lollipop sticks
Brown fondant
Green fondant

Directions:
Grind Oreo cookies in a food processor and hand mix or use stand mixer to combine with cream cheese until it becomes a dough like consistency.  Roll Oreo mixture into quarter size balls and place in airtight container lined with wax paper.  Places the container in the refrigerator overnight to set.
After the balls are set, melt candy in the microwave as per directions on package. (30 second intervals , stirring in between)
Remove Oreo balls from the refrigerator and insert lollipop sticks into each ball.  Dip the Oreo balls into candy coating until all covered.  Once covered, remove and softly tap and rotate until excess candy melt falls off.  Don't tap too hard or the Oreo ball will fall off , too.  Then place pops on wax paper, stick facing upwards.
Once candy melt has hardened, it is time to decorate.  Use brown fondant to create a stem for the pumpkin.  Shape by hand.  Cut green fondant into leaves and strips that can be rolled into vines.  Carefully attach leaves and vines to the stems. 
Makes about 24 pops.  Pumpkin Pops can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for 3-4 days.
They taste delicious and all the kids in my daughter's class loved them.  I think I like them better with Oreos and cream cheese. 


Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Picking


With snow on the ground this morning I am reminiscing about our  pumpkin picking day about 2 weeks ago.  The weather was so warm.  This is the first year that my kids are wearing shorts and flip flops for our pumpkin picking photos. 

My daughter is always ready to pose for pictures.  I've had a camera in her face since she was born.  She can say "cheese" on demand.  My son on the other hand is not so interested in having his picture taken.  You can see he looks quite bored by the whole process.  Oh well, he will have to deal with it because I do take a lot of photos.

It's not always easy to pick the best looking pumpkins.  We were able to find three that we liked.
The big one was for me to carve.  My daughter had chosen a template to a skull, which would look perfect on that pumpkin.  Unfortunately, we had a lot of rain after that weekend and one day I came home from work to find a pile of mush on my front doorstep.  I had to take out that snow shovel to scoop up the mess and throw in the garbage and then hose down the steps.  There was pumpkin ooze everywhere.  Well at least Buzz and the little pumpkin survived. 


The pieces for Buzz I found at Target for $6. It was too cute too pass up.  My daughter loves Buzz Lightyear.  She is dressing up as him for Halloween again this year.


I just thought this was interesting.  Someone drove up in this vehicle at the pumpkin farm.  I don't think I have ever seen anything like it.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Better Than S'Mores Mini Cupcakes


I have been wanting to try Biscoff cupcakes for that past week.  But I wanted to see what would happen if I tried to turn them into s'mores.  The Biscoff is a bit sweeter than a graham cracker, but I though if I used a dark chocolate ganache to fill them, it might balance out the sweetness.  What?? Me, make something less sweet??  Ask anyone who knows me and they would think something was wrong.  But have no fear, sometimes it's all worth it in the end.  And these absolutely were.  Topped with a marshmallow fluff frosting, these puppies came out better than expected, better than a s'mores!
For the cucpakes
Don't mind my upside down flour bag.  It had a hole in the bottom, so I had put it that way, otherwise that kitchen would look like a snowstorm had passed through.

For the ganache filling

filled cupcakes
At this point feel free to take any defect cupcake and pop it into your mouth.  It is for quality control purposes only.  Since it was late at night when I made the frosting, I forgot to take any pictures.



Of course before I went to bed I had to try one and gave one to my husband to try so I wouldn't feel so guilty.  Oh god, they were delicious.  I am glad I made them bite size, the blend of tastes it just perfect.  Unfortunately, that just means I will eat more.

Better Than S'Mores Mini Cupcakes

by The Sweet Chick
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert biscoff marshmallow fluff chocolate ganache cupcake
Ingredients (24 mini cupcakes)
    For the Biscoff Cupcakes
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup Biscoff spread
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    For the Chocolate Ganache Filling
    • 12 ounces chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I used a 3.5oz bar of Lindt dark chocolate and about 3/4 of a 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips)
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    For the Marshmallow Fluff Frosting
    • 1/2 stick butter, softened
    • 2 cups marshmallow fluff
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 tablespoon Wilton meringue powder
    • 2-3 tablespoons milk
    Instructions
    For the Biscoff Cupcakes
    Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F and fill muffin tin with cupcake liners.
    Place flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into a large bowl, mix to combine. Set aside.
    In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, place oil, sour cream, Biscoff spread, eggs and vanilla into the bowl and mix on medium speed until well incorporated. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, about 30 seconds. Spoon batter into prepared mini cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 10-15 or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry. Remove and let cool completely.
    (For regular sized cupcakes, bake 18-22 minutes).
    For the Chocolate Ganache Filling
    Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl.
    Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy.
    Allow ganache to cool. The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the thicker it will set. You can place it in the fridge to cool faster. The ganache needs to be completely cooled before piping it in the cupcakes.
    While the ganache is cooling cut a hole in the middle of each cupcake and scoop out the center (not all the way to the bottom). I used a vegetable peeler, but you can also try a apple corer.
    With a frosting piping bag or a plastic freezer bag with tip cut off, pipe the ganache filling into each cupcake and place back in the fridge.
    For the Marshmallow Fluff Frosting
    In a stand up mixer or using a hand mixer, blend butter and marshmallow fluff until smooth.
    Sift in confectioners' sugar and meringue powder and beat on low speed.
    Add vanilla and milk and increase speed to high. Beat for 1 minute.
    Using a frosting piping bag and your favorite tip, frost each cupcake and place back in fridge to set.
    Recipe by The Sweet Chick
    Powered by Recipage

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Vegas - Last Day - Part Two


    We couldn't leave Vegas without getting a little some for our daughter, Sweet Pea.  She loves jelly beans, so we stopped at the Sugar Factory to check out what they had.  I had never been in one before.


    They had lots of jelly bean flavors to choose from and they were Jelly Belly, her favorite kind.  Don't mind the spider, he was just hanging around. 


    We found a cute Hello Kitty bucket and filled it up with jelly beans.  It weighed a ton.  I knew her face would light up when she saw it.  Sometimes you have forget about the dentist bills and just let your kids be kids.  As we know, that time in your life lasts such a short time.  Enjoy it while you can!

    Mommy found a treat of her own that day.  There were all these cute cupcakes, I just had to take one with me.  I chose the Reese's Cupcake because I love Reese's Pieces.  It looked like a winner.


    I took it back to the hotel to eat while I was packing.  The overall flavor of the cupcake was spot on with a Reese's Pieces, however I was a little disappointed in the dryness of the cake itself.  I like moist cupcake and this just didn't do it for me.  Oh well, I will have to try to create my own version one day. 




    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Vegas - Last Day - Part One

    Sniff. Sniff.  This will be the one of the last of the Vegas Chronicles.  Some of you might have been bored by them anyway.  But I do miss all that good food.  The last day of our trip we had a late flight.  Thank goodness, we had one more day to indulge in a breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi.  Gabi really did become my friend on this trip and I will miss her dearly.  Perhaps she will send me a post card and recount our delicious memories together.


    I didn't have to look at the menu.  I knew I wanted to try a Croque-Madame.  I had a Croque Monsieur while visiting Paris, France many years ago.  But I never had a Croque Madame.


    Like the Croque Monsieur, the Croque Madame is basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, but the Madame has a fried egg on top.  This Croque Madame was made with country ham and gruyere cheese.  It came with some really thin fries, which were nice and crispy.


    The sandwich was huge and yes I did eat the entire thing myself. There was no way I was leaving any piece behind. This was going to be my last good meal for a long while. I had to make it count. And it did. Just looking at this picture now makes me drool. Bonjour Madame!


    But all good things must come to an end.  We had a flight to catch and I had to finish packing.  Goodbye Paris. Au Revoir!


     

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Beer Bread Bites with Honey Butter Spread


    Another treat I made for Octoberfest was beer bread using my hubby's brew.  I wanted to make it bite size , so I used mini muffin tins and liners.  I just made the Tastefully Simple mix as usual, added my husband's brew and baked it at the temperature directed on the box, but cut the time down to 10-15 minutes.


    I think next time I will brush some butter on the top before baking so they look more golden.  The tasted fine regardless.  I just want them to have more of that beach tan, instead of white pasty look.

     

    For the spread I found a recipe online.  Pretty simple.  And no I didn't use real butter, but it tasted good anyway.  I did use real organic native honey, which tastes fabulous.  And I ended up adding a little powdered sugar to the mix. 

    Honey Butter Spread
    adapted from allrecipes.com

    Ingredients
    • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

    Directions

    1. In a small mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the honey and powdered sugar; beat just until blended. Serve with bread, bagels or toast. Store in the refrigerator. 
       

    I even made a little sign to match the one I made for the Guinness Cupcakes.  Care for a bite?

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Guinness Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Fluff Frosting


    Last night my husband and I hosted a mini Octoberfest at home.  He has been brewing his own beer for a while now.  When he has a batch ready we usually invite over some family and friends for a taste testing.  This new batch is a Heritage Lager.  Very smooth, no after taste.  Goes down easy.



    I wanted to make some sweets to go along with the beer.  I scoured the internet and found a recipe for Guinness Chocolate cupcakes.  The original recipe called for cream cheese frosting, but I found a recipe for peanut butter frosting instead.  Beer and nuts go well together, so I figured they should work in a cupcake too.  The cupcakes themselves came out so good.  They were moist and that touch of Guinness goodness really went well with the chocolate.  It reminded me of the Guinness chocolates I ate in Ireland earlier this year. 

    Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
    by Dave Lieberman

    Ingredients

    • 12 ounces Guinness® stout
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3/4 cup sour cream
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for garnish
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    Directions
    1. Makes 24 Cupcakes
    2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Guinness®, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the sour cream.
    4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, and baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet Guinness® mixture.
    5. Butter 24 muffin tins and divide the batter among the muffin tins.
    6. Bake 20-25 minutes until risen and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out of the tins.

    The original recipe for penaut butter frosting ended up being too sweet and too much peanut butter, so I ransacked the pantry too see what else I can add to fix the problem.  I found a jar of marshmallow fluff so I started added it a heaping tablespoon at a time until I got the right taste.  Yep, peanut butter and fluff definitely complement each other.  The frosting was awesome, I had to stop myself from eating it before there was none left for the cupcakes.


    Peanut Butter Fluff Frosting
    adapted from How to Eat a Cupcake

    1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup creamy peanut butter
    4 cups confectioners' sugar
    1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
    2-4 tablespoons milk

    Blend butter and peanut butter until smooth. Sift in confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed. Add milk and increase speed to high. Add fluff. Beat for 1 minute.


    The fluff also added a great consistency to the frosting.  It was light, fluffy and kept it's shape when I swirled it over the cupcakes.  And it held up well when I added chopped honey roasted peanuts for enhanced flavor and a little crunch.  They looked to pretty to eat.


    I got to use my new cupcake tower to display them.  I even made a cute little sign to go with it.


    I love how they came out.  They look great and they tasted even better. 

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Vegas - Day Three - Part Three

    Back at the hotel, we went to sit by the pool for a while and sipped on some mojitos....
    ...which made me want to take a nap, so I did.  Then it was time to get ready for dinner.  It was our wedding anniversary, so we chose Mario Batali's Carnevino for dinner.  We made reservations ahead of time to make sure we had a seat.  The menu looked really appetizing.  Carnevino is at the Palazzo.
    It is a bit on the pricey side, but it was a special night.  We started with BEEF CARPACCIO accompanied by warm lardo crostini.  It does look a little like a pile of raw meat, which put my husband off right away.  However, it's more of a dried beef and he did try it and actually liked it.  What a trooper.  I loved it.  It sat on top of arugula, had shaved Parmesan on top and was drizzled with balsamic glaze.
    For dinner I ordered RAVIOLI DI STRACOTTO (duck livers and acero balsamico).


    One bite and I was in heaven.  Delicate and delightful.  I should have put in two orders.  But hubby did share his pork. He ordered a 20 oz. bone in chop which was brined in cider and salt.  Now that was a delicious chop and it was huge.  He likes his meat well done, so they had to butterfly it. Plenty to share.  Thanks hubby. 


    We were so full after all that, we didn't order any dessert, but they did bring this to our table:


    Very sweet.  Then it was off to that night's show....Zumanity at the New York, New York.  Before the show I had to have something sweet.  They had a cute little kiosk with all sorts of treats.  I chose a Banana Truffle.  It was nice and gooey on the inside.  Mmmmm.


    I thought the show was going to be all about sex and sensuality, but actually ended up being hilarious and entertaining.  Definitely different from the other Cirque du Soleil show we saw the other night.  There were still some flying stunts, but more grounded moves, especially regarding flexibility of the human form.  All in all, a great night out.


    Happy Anniversary to my love!

    





    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Buttercream


    I had to make something sweet for my daughter's school again.  Which was perfect because I was dying to try Picky Palate's pumpkin cake recipe.  I made it into cupcakes.  Another super easy recipe, which is great for this busy mom. 

    Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Buttercream

    by picky-palate.com

    1 box devils food cake mix
    1 small box instant chocolate pudding
    1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
    1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
    4 large eggs
    1/2 cup sour cream
    15 ounce can pumpkin (reserving 2 Tablespoons for buttercream)
    2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Pumpkin Spice Buttercream
    2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    2 tablespoons reserved pumpkin
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
    2 to 4 tablespoons milk

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray two 9×5 inch bread pans with non-stick cooking spray.
    2. In a stand or electric mixer, place cake mix, pudding mix, oil, buttermilk, eggs, sour cream and can of pumpkin, and chocolate chips–mix all ingredients until well combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Divide cake batter evenly into prepared bread pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until cooked through.
    3. While cakes are baking prepare the buttercream. Place butter, reserved 2 tablespoons pumpkin and cinnamon into stand or electric mixer. Mix on high until well combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar until thick and creamy. Slowly add the milk until buttercream is a nice consistency. Frost over cooled cakes, slice and serve.

    Makes 16 servings

    Note: This recipe can be used to make 24 cupcakes as well. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, until baked through.

    Note: This recipe can also be used to make two 9 inch cakes for layered cakes. I’d start the bake time at 30 minutes at 350 and check often from there
    I added some Halloween sprinkles for the kids.  What kid doesn't love sprinkles.  Unfortunately, my Wilton cupcake holder fit all but one of the cupcakes.  So I made the sacrifice and devoured it. 


    Holy cow!  This is a chocolate addict's best friend.  It is so moist and rich.  You really don't taste much pumpkin, but who cares.  It's the chocolate that steals the show.  And the frosting was just the right touch.  I had to go back and lick the frosting bowl.  Jen at picky-palate.com has the best recipes.



    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Vegas - Day Three - Part Two

    Oh Jean-Philippe, how I love thee.  There were so many treats to pick from at the JP Patisserie.


    I didn't know where to start.  My stomach kept saying one of each, but my conscious kept saying think about stepping on that scale.  In the end my conscious won and I only picked one dessert. 


    I picked a peanut butter chocolate dessert.


    Okay the white fluffy thing on top didn't look so appealing, I pushed it to the side.  But oh man, that little dessert was good.  I love chocolate and peanut butter together.

    The other confection decoration that they had on display were totally jaw dropping.  A chocolate haunted house, gargoyle and skull how cool.  And the cakes were absolutely beautiful.


    Here are some of the min-cakes that were on display.  I couldn't stop taking pics.

    
    So pretty.  I love the colors.


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