It has been a few weeks since I have had a chance to get into my kitchen and try out something new. My house has been put up for sale so that has meant it has to look like no one lives in it during the open houses and showings. Hide the knife block, the cupcake tins, the mixmaster, the dogs and the kids!
So during this time of exile how did I pass the hours? Why, by looking at more and more food porn everyday. I must say you do get a little tired of the ‘same old’ day after day. I don’t get the same tingle from the candy sprinkled chocolate iced cupcake that I used to. Show me more, show me something I haven’t seen before. Luckily I was saved from going to far by the return of my kitchen.
And people tell me I need to get out more!!
These ‘cheater’ recipes I keep coming across all seem to have one element in common…the cupcake or cake starts from a mix. And they are raved about. I think most of us are used to store bought cakes and cupcakes and want that light, airy texture that is not quite there in a scratch cake. Although I think a cake from scratch is more flavourful it usually is a little denser and people just don’t understand all the real ingredients make it this way. Well, that is my opinion. But as most of us are in a rush these recipes are pretty much fool-proof and do get great reviews!
In these quick, easy recipes it seems to not matter what type of cake mix you use, vanilla, devil’s, chocolate (I have noticed the American’s use Devil’s food and call them chocolate yet chocolate mix does exist…not sure why they do this) you just add the same ingredients: 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1-2 tsp. of vanilla.
What sets these little darlings apart is the icing and the embellishments. So here are some pictures and the recipe for Snicker’s Cupcakes. Easy, peasy, really! You only need a mixer for the icing!
You will need 1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix (or chocolate)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 18 muffin tins with liners.
Whisk together all the ingredients except the cake mix until well combined. Stir in cake mix and mix until combined.
Fill prepared muffin tins about 3/4 full and bake 20-25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Set aside and cool.
Peanute Butter Icing – I WOULD DOUBLE THIS IF YOU LIKE TO HAVE NICE FULL PILLOWS OF FROSTING!
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth
3-4 cups icing sugar, possibly more
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons milk or cream (as needed to get spreading consistency)
Snickers bar or 2, cut into pieces to garnish tops
Peanuts, whole or chopped to garnish tops
In a medium bowl using electric mixer beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth and combined well. Add in the vanilla and mix together. Add in icing sugar a cup or two at a time and beat until smooth. Add in milk as needed to get nice smooth spreadable consistency.
Use a knife or an icing bag with a star tip to ice these moist, yummy little cakes and top each with a piece of the chocolate bar and a sprinkle of peanuts.
Want even more….chop another couple of Snickers bars and fold into the cupcake batter.
These are certainly sweet enuf for this Thanksgiving’s dessert table.
Everywhere I look I see recipes and pics of cookie bars (and those horrible knee socks but I will get to that). What’s a cookie bar…well in my opinion, its just an easier way to make a cookie. Less labour intense. Instead of going to the bother to drop your cookie dough onto the pan in individual amounts, scooping as you go, you just pat your dough into a pan and bake. Then you get to cut a ‘cookie’ as big or small as you want.
Peanut Butter S’mores Cookie Bars
While most of the recipes I see are for S’mores (Americans have an obsession with these) or chocolate chip bars I was craving a peanut butter butterscotch hit so I modified a recipe I found in SweetGifts magazine from 2012.
Ingredients all lined up and ready to mix.
So before I share tonights recipe I need to comment… what’s with those knee socks I see adults and kids alike wearing with their shorts, sandals and exercise gear. If your doctor told you to purchase and wear support hose you would never do it but that is what these unstylish socks look like to me. You know the socks I mean, right. Remember Linda Ronstandt wearing knee socks with her shorts and roller skates in the 80’s. Are they back in style? I must have missed the memo.
O.K. I know fashion comes and goes and I have for sure been a victim! If anyone had told me shiny dance leotards with matching shiny tights and leg warmers where in no shape or form flattering or the least bit cool (both in style and temperature) to wear while doing high impact aerobics I and all my friends would have scoffed.
Haven’t you been telling your dad and husband for years not to go out of the house with socks in his sandals. It is soooo embarrasing. Yet all over I see runners, walkers, and not so sporty people wearing these support style looking white knee socks with their shorts and, heaven forbid, with their sloppily fitting shower sandals. If you are a 12-14 year old girl you can carry it off but otherwise just let this fad go. Sooner rather than later, please. Ahh, as always I feel better with my thoughts off my chest. So on to the recipe.
This is a very sweet treat so adjust your add-ins to make it how you like it. Use chocolate chips with the butterscotch chips and eliminate the pb cups if you wish.
Butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla mixed together
Peanut Butter Butterscotch S’mores Cookie Bars
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 pan.
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup mini marshmallows
1-2 cups peanut butter cups (rough chopped)
1 cup butterscotch chips
Butterscotch chips, peanut butter mini cups ready to fold in.
Cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to creamed mixture and blend. Fold in graham crackers, butterscotch chips and 1 cup peanut butter cups.
Press dough into prepared pan and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Now sprinkle marshmallows and remaining peanut butter cups onto top and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes.
Cool completely and cut into generous pieces and enjoy.
Well another summer has left and I find the day after Labour Day to be more of a new year and goal setting time of the year than January 1st. So to accompany the delicious recipe of Lemon-Raspberry Buttermilk Pound Cake are my musings on embracing ourselves and the need to stop ‘buying’ into the fit is the new skinny, you are not worthy unless you have the newest, most expensive purse (you know first a Coach bag, then a Michael Kors bag and now a Kate Spade bag) and believing that not having a wrinkle, stretch mark or acne scar is normal…especially at over 40!!
Like many of you I have become a Pinner and I enjoy different sites with fitness and health ideas but I keep seeing these ridiculously impossible images of ripped abs and 10% body fat on woman with the tag line ‘Fit is the new Skinny’. While it is great to be fit and healthy a woman’s healthy body fat is much higher than the 8-10% needed to show off 6-pack and 8-pack abs. We need this to give us boobs and hips and to make and carry babies. We are being convinced by dieting to extremes and working out like crazy or even only working out for 20 minutes doing HIIT workouts we will be healthier and fitter and better. I think that is the key…we are somehow convinced we will be better (because for some reason we often feel we are not good enough) and therefore more popular and life will be easy and richer…both emotionally and financially.
Oh and what about all those unlined faces in ads for everything else. Do you believe buying the perfect outfit and the best shoes will make you better or somehow change you. Well me too!! But strangely enough although I love my new makeup it did not change my features and transform me into Christie Brinkley or Christy Turlington. My makeup plus my Weight Watchers dinner did not bring Hugh Jackman or Daniel Craig to my door. And I didn’t get a great promotion earning way more money. Isn’t that the hidden message we are constantly being sent and unfortunately believing. Do this, buy this, and you too will be transformed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a new pair of shoes as much as the next girl (well probably quite a bit more actually if you look in my closet) and there is nothing like a new lipstick to push away a funk but let’s start this new season with focusing on what we have already and stop spending our precious time worrying about things we really cannot change.
I think this should be the Embrace Myself season. Every wrinkle, sun spot, scar, etc. is the result of living, loving, and all the challenges and experiences that go along with that. I have laugh lines and a few crying lines as well! Happiness and heartaches in life, successful and unsuccessful relationships with friends, family and husbands, etc. plus crappy jobs, great jobs, and more, are what make us and shape us. I have a few physical scars from illness but I survived and am healthy. How many people can say that! I have a few body battle marks on account of 2 healthy children. The frown lines between my eyes have been there forever and my laugh lines get a little deeper each year. But really, how great are all these things. I have a great job, good friends and family, have been able to spend some holiday time away with friends and family, pay my bills, get around unassisted and enjoy the little things like take-out coffee and reality t.v. Isn’t this what having a good life is really about.
Yes I do wish I was 10 pounds thinner and could wear skinny jeans but deep down I know this is not the magic formula to happiness. But, hey, I used to wish I had hair like Farrah Fawcett, and if I only my hair would go like hers than I to would be amazing…alas not so!!
One of the things that makes me happy is baking and now blogging! So embrace your uniqueness (they are no longer shortcomings or flaws they are your unique bits) and give my Lemon-Raspberry Pound cake a try. Enjoy it with a glass of milk, cup of coffee or tea and make a list ONLY of your great and awesome bits.
Lemon-Raspberry Pound Cake
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Mix above ingredients together in small sauce pan and bring to a boil for about 5-8 minutes until reduced and sugar has dissolved. Cool and then press through sieve to remove seeds. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease loaf pan.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Zest of 1 lemon
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in sugar and beat well. Scrape down sides and bottom of bow. Add in eggs one at a time and beat after each.
Add in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions. Fold in lemon zest and cooled raspberry sauce.
Spread evenly into prepared loaf pan and bake at 325F for approximately 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
Glaze with a mixture of lemon juice and icing sugar if desired.
Well it certainly has been a while and I suppose the road to Hell is awaiting me…you know the road to Hell is paved with good intentions! Believe me my blogging intentions are always good.
It just seems that between the idea of the recipe(s) I would like to bake or ice or decorate and the spare time to make it happen I seem to have a time management issue. Or maybe it is having a full time job that interferes…which is a good thing…the job I mean.
Today’s recipe is a truly easy, as in only a wooden spoon is needed to mix everything to perfection, moist and flavourful cake. I tried this recipe from Nancie McDermott’s book ‘Southern Cakes’ and it is a definite fav.
This book is filled with a little history on each cake such as it’s origin or tips passed on from family or other cooks. There are a variety of recipes like Red Velvet cake, Ocracoke Island Fig cake, Tomato Soup cake, etc. So this is not your everyday run of the mill cake book.
I have made this cake many times and I prefer to leave out the raisins. I also ice it with my favourite buttercream instead of the offered Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting. The cake is currently baking up as I write this.
Give it a try you won’t be disappointed!
TIP: make sure to buy pure pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling! As well check the ingredient label to make sure your pure pumpkin is not a blend of squash and pumpkin.
Pumpkin Raisin Cake
Ingredients for cake.PUMPKIN-RAISIN CAKE
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 2 8- or 9-inch pans.
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup raisins
1cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
In a medium bowl, combine the self-rising flour with the cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring with a fork to mix everything well. In another medium bowl, combine the raisins and nuts with 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and 2 tablespoons of the oil and toss to mix well.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar and the remaining 1 cup of oil, and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the remaining flour mixture all at once and stir just until the flour disappears into the batter. Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Stir in the floured raisins and nuts, gently mix them in well, and then quickly transfer the batter to the cake pans.
Bake at 325F for about 25 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from sides of the pan and springs back when touched lightly in the center. Cool completely.
Ice with cream-cheese frosting, or glaze or icing.
- 20 Amazing Pumpkin Recipes (hungrylittlegirl.com)
- Spiced Pumpkin Crumb Cake (cassieskitchennyc.com)
- Moist pumpkin bread (inspirationmycreation.wordpress.com)
Firstly I should say the opinions expressed in this blog after a week of dieting late on a Saturday night in no way reflect the views of my sponsors. Oh wait a sec, there are no sponsors and I can say whatever the heck I want!
So before we get to the baking part of tonight’s blog I have been ruminating on a recent advertisement I keep hearing over and over and over on the radio. Now perhaps this ad is irritating me just a tad since I happen to be on my own this evening while each of my boys is out doing there own thing, my ex is on vacation with his latest squeeze and a number of women I know seem to be always on the go looking after everything and worrying about their husbands reactions in case things are not done just how they would like. How does this tie into the advertisement….well it seems we are not quite busy enough looking after our children, our jobs, our homes, etc. we are now being held responsible for our men’s nether regions!! I have never had a penis nor do I currently have the use of one but it seems I or any woman who comes in contact with their friends/partners/spouses appendage is to be responsible for making sure this area is checked out by the doctor. I always thought this part of a guy was of the utmost importance to them and as they handle it every day, several times I would imagine, shouldn’t they be worrying about it instead of us?
Well I don’t know about you but it seems we have enough to worry about with our own stuff since we were probably 10 or 11… like to shave or to wax or to laser…if we laser what happens if the trend changes to the au naturel look and the hair won’t come back, what happens if we shave and we get an ingrown and it shows while we are at the beach in our swimsuits, and then there’s periods…pads or tampons, leaks both from that and from our bladders due to birthing babies where everybody seems to need to poke around down there and then some (but no one seems to be to concerned about us laying there with a tissue paper sheet covering us and a cold clamp awaiting us) or, OMG, did you see the size of those shears they used to cut us when we’re in labour! As if we don’t have enough responsibility with our own parts down there! Were your sweet fellas overly concerned when you were pushing out babies, getting stiched up, etc. etc. Now imagine if they had to put their package on a tray and have 10 pounds of cold metal come down and squish it for about 25 seconds (you know, like a mammogram). Probably even less men would go for their check up….but then probably the technology would be changed so they wouldn’t have to endure that! I just feel the ad should be directed at the fellow with the correct piece of anatomy. So now I feel a bit better! Whew, that has been weighing on my mind.
So now on to tonight’s chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and a little peanut butter. The cupcakes are chocolate with some chocolate chips added in and the icing is chocolate with some peanut butter beaten in with the butter for a yummy mix of flavours.
Tonight’s recipe is one my mom found I last Month’s Toronto Sun by the food writer. Since she took the time to cut it out and mail it to me I figured I should give it a try. The recipe is celebrating 100 years of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and Rita DeMontis includes her tweaked version of the 1937 Hellmann’s recipe.
These babies are so simple no mixer is required. The icing you will need a hand mixer to whip it up but it comes together in a couple of minutes.
I did Google the Hellmann’s site and found, what I believe to be the original recipe. The original includes eggs and a little more sugar. Try this adapted version designed to make about 24 cupcakes (I got 18) and see what you think. These baked up beautifully and came together in just a few minutes with 2 medium bowls, a whisk and a spatula plus 18 lined muffin cups. I used a large ice cream scoop, I’d say about 1/3 cup size, and that was perfect.
Notice this recipe has no eggs but does require buttermilk and Hellmann’s mayo. Good luck!
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes – Toronto Sun, Wednesday, May 29
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 18-24 muffin tins with liners.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
In bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and baking powder and salt. In separate bowl, whisk together sugar, mayonnaise, buttermilk and vanilla until well blended.
Add dry ingredients into wet mixture and stir until combined.
Portion out into prepared pans and bake for approx. 20 or until cake tester comes out clean.
Ice with your favourite icing.
To mix up the Chocolate/Peanut Butter Icing I used:
1/2 cup soft butter, about 1/3-1/2 cup smooth peanut butter and mixed it together well with a mixer. I added in about 3 cups of icing sugar plus some cocoa powder and I also melted about 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips just because I could. I used a little bit of cream to make a spreadable icing.