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Saturday, August 3, 2013

S'mores cupcakes

Cookies finished, I decided to make some S'mores cupcakes to drop off to relatives later. This recipe has evolved from the fall, when I strictly used the Duncan Hines recipe and products. Now, the only pre-made ingredient I use is the Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Chocolate Marshmallow Flavor Mix, for the buttercream icing.

Ingredients
Graham Cracker Layer:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c melted butter
2 tbs. white sugar
pinch of salt

Cupcakes (from a recipe by Amanda at StayHungree.com)

Ingredients
Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbs vanilla
3/4 cup boiling water
2 cups Marshmallow Fluff

Buttercream
This adapted from a recipe from Tasteofhome.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
4-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 to 6 tablespoons 2% milk
1 packet of Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Chocolate Marshmallow Flavor Mix

Optional Garnish:
Graham Crackers, broken into 24 small pieces
Mini Marshmallows (24)
Hersheys bar (each piece broken in half)


Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Mix well. You can buy pre-made graham cracker crumbs, but I like to just put a sleeve of crackers in a large Ziplock bag and, with a rolling pin, make my own crumbs. Line your cupcake tins. Divide the mixture evenly among the tins, about two teaspoons in each. Tamp the crumb mixture down with a glass (I use a shot glass). Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until golden. Cool before adding the cake batter.
*I double this crumb recipe, because I like a thick crust.


Next,

With a hand held electric mixer or stand mixer, combine all of your dry ingredients and mix on low. With the mixer still on low, add eggs one at a time.

Though the original recipe states that the mix will be very fudgy at this point, mine is always more sandy.


Once the eggs are mixed in, add the milk, oil, and vanilla, and blend on medium until well mixed. Next, with the mixer on low, add the boiling water gradually, mixing until just combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom. Pour into cupcake tins and bake for 18-20 minutes, until springy when touched or a tester comes out clean. Since this is a thin batter, I like to use a large liquid measuring cup to pour it - much easier and neater! Remove from oven and cool completely.


A note on baking time - I always deduct 3-5+ minutes and set the timer accordingly, because my oven tends to run hot. Over baking these cupcakes is a crime, because they are so moist.

Once completely cooled, either use a paring knife to cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake, or do it the easy way: use an apple corer.


Next, using a butter knife or spatula, put the Fluff in a pastry bag with the tip cut off or a Ziplock bag w a corner cut off. Pipe the Fluff into the holes that you made. I overfill a bit, because the Fluff "settles" - after a few minutes, the Fluff is flush with the top of the hole.


On to the buttercream! I love this recipe. It's almost impossible to screw up. If it's too runny, just add more powdered sugar in increments of 1/4 cup.


In a large bowl, cream butter with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. I usually incorporate the vanilla first, then add about 3/4 cup of sugar at a time, alternating with milk. Once most of your sugar is used up, add the Frosting Creations packet and mix thoroughly. You also may only want to add a teaspoon of milk at a time toward the end. I do this because I like to work with stiff buttercream.


Now, using a spatula, put the buttercream in a pastry bag (I use the Wilton 12 inch disposable bags), making sure that you have inserted your decorating tip first (I use the Wilton 4B).


Apply the frosting as you like. I prefer to be liberal with the buttercream. Yum!


Finally, garnish with graham cracker pieces, mini marshmallows, and chocolate pieces. I didn't have any chocolate on hand today, so it's just graham crackers & mini marshmallows.


The kids split one and LOVED it!

2 Ingredient Cookies

This morning was rough - D was fussy during the night & woke up very early. She also peed on the floor, and by 9am I had changed 3 poop diapers. But I've been ensconced in my sanctuary, the kitchen.

For people like me (ADHD), who find it difficult to stay organized and to NOT make a huge mess, I now follow a simple rule: When I'm done with it, it goes away, in the sink, or in the garbage. IMMEDIATELY. It makes cleanup so much easier.

I made 2-ingredient cookies, recipe courtesy of The Burlap Bag.

1 cup of oats (quick oats work better)
1 cup pureed peaches
1 tsp cinnamon (if you want)
Handfuls of any mix ins you want to add (chips, other fruits)
PARCHMENT PAPER

Prep: Preheat oven to 350
Puree peaches in blender or food processor (I left some chunks)


Simply mix, form into cookie shapes (or drop as balls, depending on your preference) onto PARCHMENT PAPER (important because oatmeal STICKS) and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or so (the bottoms should be firm & starting to brown). These cookies, while delicious, are much chewier than the usual cookie. But they are so healthy and delicious! It's like eating a bowl of oatmeal in cookie form. This is the "summer" 2-ingredient recipe. Another 2-ingredient recipe uses 2 ripe bananas instead of a cup of pureed peaches.

Here they are!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cupcakes

I could never bake cupcakes. They NEVER came out well...until this winter. Now, I usually make them from scratch, and I've been experimenting with modifying recipes and devising my own. I'm told they are really good (I can't eat them), and I'm proud of them. Recently, my niece G turned 1. The theme of her party was Minnie Mouse, and I was determined to make Minnie Mouse Cupcakes. I adapted a few recipes and came up with these.
The bows look a little demented because I had to freehand them, but I was pleased with how they turned out!

I am THAT mom

Parenthood has taught me many things. One of them is to reserve judgment of other parents. For example, sometimes I have to take my two toddlers, 2 1/2 & 1 1/2 to the grocery store. I used to give moms who opened food before the checkout or had screaming kids the side eye. I would do better. MY kids would behave. The reality? Here's a snapshot: 9 am, cart with two kiddie seats, both kids with lollipops. B has his shoes off and is clutching a new Matchbox car (the reward for good behavior, as we are emphasizing positive reinforcement). D is trying to hit everything within reach with her lollipop. Both are sticky. But I got my shopping done with minimal fussing. What people DON'T know is that B, as a result of his dyspraxia & apraxia, has sensory issues (hence the shoes off) and a tendency to melt down. We're keeping an eye on D because, like B, she has some developmental delays and may also have dyspraxia/apraxia/ADHD. Taking the two of them out solo is not easy. The next time you see a harried parent, try to reserve judgment. There is probably much more going on than you realize.

The Mother of Invention...

The little ones, B & D, LOVE music. Since infancy, when we listened to Deadmau5 & The Black Eyed Peas to soothe him, B has loved dance music. Now the kids are branching out and will listen to Queens of the Stone Age, Metallica, and other rock, but dance - trance, house, progressive house - is the preferred genre. Deadmau5 is the clear favorite. I wanted to get B a Deadmau5 shirt because he gets excited when he sees the iconic mouse head logo - but the only toddler shirts I could find were in Great Britain, on eBay. So, I decided to make our own.
I bought Avery T-shirt Transfers for Inkjet Printers on Amazon. Fortunately, I noticed before I bought the t-shirts from AC Moore that the transfers were specifically for LIGHT t-shirts. I downloaded a template from Avery.com, chose an image, printed, and cut out the logos. DH so kindly did the ironing for me, knowing that I'm allergic to ironing. B & D were so excited to wear their new shirts!

First!

I've been debating whether or not to blog. I participated in the NaNoBlogMo challenge when I was on bed rest when I was pregnant with B. Then, I had all the time in the world - out of work, no children, and nothing to do. Nearly three years later, I have two toddlers, B & D, my DH, a full-time job, two large dogs, multiple early intervention therapies for B, doctor appointments, etc. But I would like to keep a record of what we're up to, as well as document my creations in the kitchen as I cultivate my love of baking.
My little ducks at Argyle Lake last weekend