Friday, March 25

Dessert of the Week-- Java Jive cupcakes

    Have you ever realized just how much sells? I mean, wow. I recently discovered the array of baking cups offered. My 'wish list' looks like I went spastic and just started clicking. I did start out with a specific need in mind--mini cups for the Baby Cakes for my sister-in-law's baby shower next month. I was super happy to find those, but then I had to narrow down my gigaginormous list to just a couple fun "anytime" liners. The first set I decided on was Cupcake Heaven by Wilton and the second was Dancing Daisy Flowers, also by Wilton. Then to go with the Baby Feet Minis baking cups, I ordered Bubble Strips Minis. I'm super excited! The Cupcake Heaven baking liners came on Thursday--I love getting packages in the mail. :) 

    Today I couldn't wait to get in the kitchen! Kyleigh didn't get to school today since she has a cold. You know Kyleigh isn't feeling good when she says she needs to stay home from school--while that may be characteristic of any kid (faking sick to stay home) Kyleigh is the complete opposite and NEVER wants to miss school for anything! So anyway, both girls went down for an early nap and it was playtime for Mama in the kitchen! :)
    I re-discovered some chocolate covered espresso beans I had yet to use....or eat, for that matter. :) I was thinking of espresso beans and talking out-loud about ideas. Then the combination became clear. I wanted to do a chocolate coffee cake, topped with coffee liqueur frosting, drizzled with some homemade salted caramel sauce (I made that Wednesday or Thursday), sprinkled with some crushed up chocolate covered espresso beans, and then finally topped with one whole covered bean. 

    Readers, meet Java Jive.

Alright, now that you've seen what I ended up with, let's hit rewind so I can tell you how I got there.

I found some dark chocolate covered espresso beans lurking in my house and some coffee liqueur in my kitchen. Coffee + coffee = good match. 

    First, I whisked together flour, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, and Himalayan pink salt.

    Then it was time for the "wet" ingredients. Into the bowl of my stand mixer went some eggs and granulated sugar. While this was being whisked together, in a liquid measuring cup, I combined cooled brewed coffee, heavy cream, and cooking oil. After the eggs and sugar were well combined, I added the coffee mixture.

    Once everything was combined nicely (the above picture), I added in the flour mixture and a little vanilla extract and whisked until combined (pictured below).

    I lined the muffin pan with my new fun cupcake baking cups and popped it into the preheated oven. 

    I was psyched when they came out looking so perfectly delicious!

    And so moist and spongy!

    Now to go about the frosting. I knew what I wanted to end up with, I just wasn't initially sure how to get there. So, I dove right in and never looked back. :)

    Into the bowl of my stand mixer went some more heavy cream, the coffee liqueur, more vanilla extract, some confectioners' sugar, and a little cream of tartar. I whisked that until I got to a consistency I was happy with.

    After testing the quality of the product ( ; and I was completely sure it was worthy of the scrumptious cakes, I iced the little cuties--the cupcakes. 

    Remember I said I made Salted Caramel Sauce earlier this week? That sinfully awful yet undeniably sweet and salty goodness got drizzled on top of my newest creation. 

     Then I crushed up a handful of dark chocolate covered espresso beans and sprinkled the pieces overtop of the cupcakes. Then I topped that off with a whole covered bean. 

    Coffee deliciousness wrapped up in a cute Cupcake wrapper.

    I had so much fun setting up the picture for the cupcake that I might have gotten a little carried away with taking pictures. :) 

 Java Jive Cupcakes
makes about 19 cupcakes

1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
2/3 c. brewed coffee, cooled
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. cooking oil
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. granulated sugar

In this last picture, there is a bird in the background. As I was taking this shot, a robin was walking around under the bushes and got in the shot. :)

Wednesday, March 23

Kyleigh's Cookies!

    Books-A-Million stores around this area are closing up. So we went to check out what kind of bargains we could find. One of the things I found was a cookbook for Kyleigh. Sesame Street's Yummy Cookies Kids Cookbook Baking with Kids. I thought it'd be fun for Kyleigh to have her own cookbook and she was thrilled to get it. I think the biggest issue for her was deciding what to make first. :)

Sesame Street Yummy Cookies: Baking with Kids

     At Kyleigh's preschool they had a special thing for dads Monday morning. As a special dessert, they had M&M cookies for the dads and kids. Kyleigh enjoyed the cookie so much that she wanted to make some when they got home. Luckily, 'Yummy Cookies' has an M&M cookie recipe. Who knew? :) So that is the first thing she made out of her own cookbook.

     She was very excited and proud of herself. :)

    After Kyleigh whisked together the flour and baking soda, we got the mixer bowl out. In went a stick of butter, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup dark brown sugar. Then they were creamed together.

    After they were creamed and we added in the rest of the ingredients, it was time to add the flour in gradually. As you can see, Kyleigh was concentrating hard on adding in the flour. :) It was very cute.  

    Kyleigh was enjoying mixing up the dough. In this picture, she was talking while she was adding the flour. It reminded me of watching a show on Food Network -- star quality. ;) 

    Here are the cookies with the recipe. Kyleigh loved them! 

C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.
Oh! Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with 'C'!

Yumm!! :)

Monday, March 21

Celebrate Mondays!

    Today is March 21! (Happy Birthday to my Brother-in-law!!!) How is March almost over? Where did the last 21 days go? Seriously, I barely remember. It is just a blur. Nonetheless, March is almost over. But that means spring is here and we are ready to welcome it with open arms. 
    I have the windows open and a nice little breeze blowing in and the sun comes and goes, the birds are chirping, my windchimes are singing, and the trees are budding. The smell of freshly mowed grass is in the air as well. It's warm without being too overwhelming, like being kissed on the face when you walk out. I love when we actually get to have a spring here in NC. It seems like most years we go from 40 degree weather one day to 80+ the next-- no, I'm serious. I'm not exaggerating on this one. It really has done that. But not today...ahhh, today. 

    For breakfast this morning, I decided to make french toast. Why not? While cooking these up, I remembered that we had picked up some strawberries at the grocery over the weekend. How to incorporate these into this breakfast? Then I remembered that we also had picked up some Greek yogurt. 

    I took out my food processor, rinsed off some strawberries, tossed 'em in, then scooped up some yogurt. After pulsing that for a minute or two, I wanted to add an extra healthy element, so I poured in a bit of wheat germ and then pulsed again. Ssshhhh! Don't tell the girls. :)

    The sauce turned out great on top of the french toast with Nutella. Great way to start off the day!

A few bites in. :)


Thursday, March 17

St Pat's Cakes

Happy St Patty's Day Everyone!

    There were plenty of things I wanted to make in celebration of today's holiday. However, the NCAA Tournament won out. :) I was able to make cupcakes-- there isn't too much resistance when I declare I'm going to go in the kitchen and whip up some cupcakes. 
    When I went to Target on Wednesday, I made sure to buy some Guinness. Since I don't drink beer, this was purchased mostly with the intentions of baking it into a cupcake somehow--though I didn't think the hubby would object to drinking the leftovers.

    I started out thinking of chocolate, and mostly, what doesn't go with chocolate?? I had a feeling Guinness was no exception. So I set about throwing together a chocolate cupcake batter. And I made sure to add the beer. 

    While those were baking and then cooling, I wanted to try my hand at a ganache. 

    The twist was that I wanted to add more beer. Let's just say it wasn't a successful first attempt and move on. Rather than tossing it in the trash (I had used the last of my baking chocolate, and just couldn't bear the thought of throwing away food), I went into resuscitation mode. 

    I poured the mixture that was in my pot into the bowl of my stand mixer. I added confectioners' sugar and turned it on low. After a couple minutes, voila! A nice, smooth, shiny, creamy chocolate "sauce" emerged. 

    This wasn't thick enough to use as an how to incorporate it into the cupcake scene? Then it came to me. A filling! And that's what I did. Now, I had every intention of making a Guinness frosting to top the Guinness cupcake (mind you, when baking the cupcake and making the frosting, I was conservative with the addition of beer so that the flavor wouldn't be overwhelming) but time got away from me.

    Naturally I had some frosting that needed to be put to use waiting in the fridge. It was a Coca-Cola frosting. (I made this a week or so ago with a different end result in mind, but this was good too.) After filling the chocolate cake with the chocolate sauce, it was then topped with Coke frosting then had a ball of the cold chocolate sauce set atop, then sprinkled with chocolate cake crumbs. 

    OH MY GOODNESS! Everybody, LOOK OUT! This turned out better than I had hoped--and Nate really loves them too. :)


Hope everyone enjoyed their day!!

Wednesday, March 16

Kreativity in the Kitchen

    I had to go to Target today. While I was there, I had some groceries that I needed to pick up. I had to run down the baking aisle since I'm almost out of confectioners' sugar--that'll happen when you are making frostings for cupcakes. :) On the baking aisle, I found an array of gluten-free baking ingredients. How did I not see these before? There are all sorts of specialty flours and mixes, I was overwhelmed...and super excited. For starters, I settled on a gluten-free all-purpose baking 'flour'. I also picked up a package of organic sugar. 

    Now I have the task of baking with these. What to make? In addition to the fun new ingredients I put in my cart, I also picked up some Irish beer given that tomorrow is St Patrick's Day. But see, I don't drink beer. So the Guinness and Killian's I bought are for some sweet treats. 

Sound weird? 

I know, the hubby had the same reaction.

But I like thinking a little outside the box. It's fun to use things in a way other than the intended purpose. 

    I'm going to have to stop in the middle of this post -- one of my girls decided today is a No Nap Day. :)

Thursday, March 10

Let The Madness....Begin!!

Photo courtesy of

    Conference Tournaments started today. Ahh, I love this time of year! It is hard to live here in North Carolina and not be bitten by March madness eventually. (Seriously, just think of all the colleges in this area alone.) And then I married a man whose family is from New York and loves Syracuse and pulls for them to go all the way in the Tourney. 
    I honestly can't explain why I love all the basketball on. I love having the television on all day, starting at noon, tuned to nothing but basketball. I prefer to watch games with an ACC team playing, obviously, but I also enjoy watching 'Cuse play. I love the excitement that comes with each and every game. I am addicted to filling out the brackets and then pulling for the teams I've picked. I get so excited when one of my teams win--even if they are a top 5 team playing a lower ranked game and were predicted to win anyway. Maybe because I love sports and this is competition non-stop, in your face at its best. (Oh yea, I should probably through in that I hate pro-basketball and can't stand all the baseball when it comes time for that. I like college sports and pro-football.) 
    Nate is taking next Thursday and Friday off of work to finally be home to watch the beginnings of the NCAA Tournament. Probably the first time he has had a chance to watch since college. I'm excited about this for him because he loves March Madness more than I do--he is actually the one that got me hooked. Which brings me to the reason for this post, besides getting to go on and on and on about college basketball--what kind of finger foods should I make next weekend for Nate? Footballs are made of pigskins and thus my piggie cookies for the superbowl. And there isn't this kind of back-to-back-to-back games in football, which makes it easier to think of food based on the cities where the teams are from. Any thoughts? I'll probably cook up my usual pigs-in-a-blanket because Nate loves them so much. But what else? I like being creative with food and so I'd like something that let's me have fun with it.

Tuesday, March 8

Writer's Block--Broken with cookies

    You ever get writer's block when sitting down to blog? I've started a few posts within the last few days, but they haven't made it past the first sentence or two. I've been in the kitchen, but when I sit down to blog about it my concentration and attention just goes off in some other direction. So, today I am not going to bed until I finish this post. 
    Okay, this last week or so I've been working on some cupcakes. (See, I've been working on a business plan for my cupcake bakery. That is actually why I have been so absent lately.) My first work of art was a lemon cupcake with a blackberry frosting. The frosting was made using fresh blackberries and had lemon zest. Nate loved them and his enjoyment grows with each time he has one since the lemon zest has had time to develop. 

    Today, I had some more fun in the kitchen. I came up with two more cupcakes. The first one is an Oreo cupcake. It is a chocolate cake with a white chocolate Oreo cream frosting with an Oreo on top. The second is a Dr. Pepper cupcake. It is a vanilla cake with a Dr Pepper, black cherry jam, and red raspberry jam syrup and topped with a Dr Pepper frosting. Ya see, today is my hubby's birthday and Dr Pepper is his favorite soda. So I wanted to create something for him. 

    While I'm not too sure about the second cupcake that came out of today, I LOVED the Oreo cupcake! I made a chocolate cake that actually has a texture of a cross between a cupcake and a brownie. The frosting is a white chocolate frosting. Incorporated into the frosting is Oreo crumbs that I made by pulsing some double-stuffed cookies in the food processor. I tell you, this is an Oreo cookie in cupcake frosting. No joke!

They are so gooood and so pretty that I had to post some more pictures. :)

Friday, March 4

Has It Really Been That Long??

    I can't believe I've gone so long without blogging! Believe me, though, the lack of posting does NOT mean there has been a lack of activity in my kitchen. If anything, I've been busier and that has lead to no time for talking about it. 

I'm sorry guys. I'm going to try really hard not to let it happen again.

    Has anyone else eaten at Macaroni Grill lately? I was a little disappointed with the one near to me. It's the first time we've gone out to eat dinner, the four of us, in quite sometime--usually we like to do lunch with Nate one day during the week. So when we went out, I was excited to find a Lobster Ravioli on the menu. Having just been to the beach last week with my mom, I was still in a seafood mood. After the horrible service and we finally got our food, I was seriously let down. I do NOT recommend ordering this at all. It was bland and the raviolis were dried on top. I tried Nate's meal, and it was the complete opposite of mine--it was an assault on the taste buds! 

    For some reason, I still wanted a good Italian meal that I didn't have to clean up after. :) My sister had a softball home game on Thursday. Afterwards, my Mom, the girls and I went out to eat since it was nearly 6 o'clock and it would be almost another hour before the girls and I made it home and sat down for dinner. I get my love of Italian food from my Mom, so deciding on Carrabba's wasn't really a tough choice. I ordered the Manicotti and was very pleased. I really love cheese. :) The bread was hot and the olive oil and herbs went perfect with the meal. Definitely worth the trip!

    I know I just got back, but it is time for me to depart again. My mind is still in the kitchen and my girls are wreaking havoc in the living room. I'm actually preoccupied with the cupcakes I'm trying to perfect for my sister-in-law's baby shower next month. I know I won't be able to stop thinking about them until I get them to the point where I'm satisfied with them. :)

    By the way, yay for Friday!!! Pizza and a movie night here in my house! :)
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