Thursday, July 7

Back with a vengeance...and news!

    I trust everyone is enjoying their summer so far. Don't know about where you are, but here in the Carolinas it's been a hot one already! Despite the heat, I've been trying to keep the girls and busy to make the most of our time--my Kyleigh starts Kindergarten in a couple weeks. Wow! Yep, she is year-round. We've definitely stayed busy and I think the girls have been enjoying it.
    While keeping the girlies busy, I've been on a little break from the kitchen. As Kyleigh's "summer" starts winding down, so are our activities. Meaning I've had a little more time to be in the kitchen...and this comes at a great time. You recall the news I mentioned in the title? Well....::drumroll:: I'm now a Featured Publisher on! I am so excited! Hopefully this means I'll get to share my adventures in the kitchen with more people. Woohoo!!

    In celebration, let's eat!

Pizza'd Barley 

    Going back in time a little, it was Friday evening. Our anticipated Pizza & a Movie Night. As luck would have it, making pizzas were out of the question this week. I had to get a little creative. Looking in my pantry, I found a bag of pearled barley. I really love this stuff--it's so versatile. I rinsed it and tossed it in the pot and cooked according to the directions on the bag. This was to be the pizza base, so to speak.

    Now for the sauce. In a small pot over medium-low heat, I stirred together a can of tomato sauce and tomato paste. I added in the usual pizza suspects-garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano. Knowing a lot was riding on this particular sauce, I added a generous amount of paprika, pinch of pepper, and a pinch of cardamom. I stirred it all together, covered it and let it go.

    Let's fast-forward now to when the barley was finished. Since this took about 45 minutes, the sauce had plenty of time to simmer and bring home the flavors of the added spices. On each plate, I made a base for the "pizza". 

    Next came the sauce. A generous amount spread around creating a thick layer--depending on how saucy you want that "pizza". I didn't go all the way to the edge of the barley patty so as to have a "crust". 

    Next it was time for my favorite part...the cheeeeeeese! Personally, I prefer buying the block cheeses and grating them up as needed. It stretches the buck as well as leaving some cheese for snacking. :) This time I had monterey and colby cheeses. I shredded those overtop. I then sliced up some black and green olives for the toppings. After my pizza'd barley was assembled, I sprinkled some parsley on top for good measure. 
This may not have been the pizza everyone was expecting, but they sure did gobble it up! It's nice to shake things up every so often anyway. :)

    Time for dessert! When I went into the kitchen, I knew I wanted to make a White Cake Cupcake

        2 c. all-purpose flour
        3 tsp baking powder
        1/4 tsp baking soda
        1/2 tsp salt
        4 large egg whites, room temperature
        1 1/4 c. granulated sugar, divided
        1/3 c. vegetable shortening
        1/4 c. butter, softened
        1/3 c. half & half
        2/3 c. whole milk
        1/4 tsp brandy extract
        1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Go ahead and line the muffin pans and set aside.

    In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

    Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the whisk attachment. Start whisking on low speed until the whites start getting frothy. At this point, increase speed to medium. After an additional couple minutes (when the whites start looking like the right picture), increase speed another notch or two. 

Continue whisking until soft peaks form. At this point, it is time to add in 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Ideally, you want to add in a little at a time while the mixer is on low. 

My "helping hands".

However, if you have little hands helping you and they decide to add in the entire 1/4 cup at once, it is NOT the end of the world -- as I feared. :) Just keep going. After all the sugar had been added, increase speed to medium/ medium-high.


The eggs are done was they form stiff peaks. I had to place my finished clouds of fluffiness into another bowl so that I could continue using the bowl for the stand mixer. Don't those look great?? I love it when the egg whites turn out like they are supposed to. 

     So we've set the egg whites aside. Now it is time to cream together the shortening and butter in the bowl of the stand mixer, this time fitted with the paddle attachment. 

    Once the shortening and butter have become combined to form a creamy mixture, turn the mixer speed to low. Add in the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar. Turn speed back up to medium and beat until creamy again.

    Now it is time to add the flour mixture from earlier and the milk and half & half. Keep the mixer on low and add the flour and milk/half & half alternately. Make sure to begin and end with the flour mixture.

     After all of the flour mixture and milk/half & half have been combined, add in the two extracts. (For the purer white color, I used clear vanilla extract.)

    Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way full.

    Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes.

    Let the pan stand for 2 minutes after coming out of the oven. Turn the cupcakes out and let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

    Now that I have these wonderfully moist and fluffy cupcakes--cakes that I think totally hit the nail on the head--it's time to decide on an icing. The first one I made was a vanilla bean cream cheese. While that one was a huge hit all around, I didn't take pictures. :( Oh well, all that means is I should make another icing and be sure to take pictures. :)

    In the spirit of 4th of July, I decided to take a different approach and use Red Velvet crumbs to make a red frosting. Let's call these....

Red Fireworks Cupcakes

        approx. 3 1/2 c. red velvet cake crumbs
        3/4 c. vegetable shortening
        6 oz cream cheese
        1 tsp clear vanilla extract
        3 c. powdered sugar

    I used Red Velvet cupcakes that I had from an earlier baking attempt. Here is my little helper using the food processor to make the crumbs.
Our vibrantly red Red Velvet crumbs.
    Once you get your crumbs, set them aside. Next, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and cream cheese together. When those are combined, add in the vanilla extract. Turning the speed down to low, very slowly, beat in the powdered sugar. I recommend by about 1/2-cup at a time to avoid having a sugar cloud erupt in your face. Beat until smooth and creamy.

     Turn up the speed and let it whip up until it forms stiff peaks when you lift the beater.

    Add in the cake crumbs and beat just until combined.

    It is now time to introduce the cupcake to its newest icing buddy. Using a piping bag and a really large star tip, pipe the icing onto the cakes. It is not going to come out nice and neat due to the cake crumbs in it. As I mentioned earlier, however, it keeps in spirit with the 4th of July because they remind me of fireworks going every which way. :)

    'Course I just happened to have some Hershey's chocolate bars on hand (when do I NOT have them around haha), so I figured they would make nice toppers to the cakes. As usual, I was right. ;)

    Hope you guys enjoy the Pizza'd Barley and Red Fireworks Cupcakes!

Make sure you come back for seconds.



  1. The "pizza barley" was surprisingly delicious. I was skeptical, but it was very yummy. The cupcakes - especially the ones with the vanilla bean frosting - were just awesome. Great job sweetie!

  2. Ohh your dish looks amazing and very delicious!
    Yes school starts soon, and Kindergarten is something new and full of adventures!
    Congrats on the becoming Foodbuzz is fun place and community very supportive! I hope you enjoy it!!

  3. Congratulations on becoming a Featured Publisher! I've got the application but haven't taken the plunge... not quite so sure why. I hope the little one enjoys going back to school! I can't believe her summer vacation is almost over!

  4. Wow! Your recipe looks wonderful. Yummy! Congrats on Foodbuzz. I've met a lot of wonderful folks there.

    It's always nice to have a little helper in the kitchen. Making wonderful memories. I'm now following you.

  5. Thanks Sandra! I've been "lurking" around Foodbuzz for a few months now and have found it to be very enjoyable. I'm very excited to be an official part of it now.

    Hester, I also held on to my application for awhile before making it official. Though, like you, I couldn't say exactly why.

    Thanks Christine! My little helpers now have a radar for when Mommy is in the kitchen getting the mixing bowls out. No matter where they are in the house, they come running! :)

  6. Beautiful cupckes! The pizza looks great too, but at the moment I'm craving sweet stuff so those cupcakes with that adorable icing are singing to me.

  7. Love the fireworks cupcakes!
    Btw my daughter has the exact same apron as the one your daughter is wearing in the 2nd photo. What an awesome coincidence!


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