Monday, August 23, 2010

Cupcakes, Brownies, Shepherd's Pie, OH MY!

I've been on a roll lately with the cooking/baking. And while not all cooking endeavors are blog-worthy, there are a few that are. And with that, I give to you:

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cookie Dough Frosting! This recipe came from How Sweet It Is and was just as delicious as described in the blog post. Perfect ending to our end of the summer crab feast last week!


Peanut Butter Chip Brownies AND Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes! I used my mom's brownie recipe for the brownies then added peanut butter chips on the bottom and top of the batter. Fudgey, chocolatey, peanut buttery. So good. The cupcakes were 100% vegan, the first time I've actually done so (I've made vegan cupcakes in the past, but have used a non-vegan buttercream). They were a huge hit at the White Trash BBQ, and I plan on making them for one of my co-workers who is obsessed with my strawberry cupcakes. I want to see which ones he thinks are better!

And last but not least...

Sweet Potato Topped Shepherd's Pie and buttery, flaky, Pilsbury biscuits! I have been wanting to make Shepherd's Pie for a good month or so, and Rachael Ray must've known because she put not one, but TWO recipes in her recent issue! I went with the sweet potato topped one, which coincidently is the first time I've ever even purchased a sweet potato (even though I bought them from my job because restaurant sweet potatoes are way cheaper then supermarket ones, haha).

I think the only things I would change would be to double up the gravy recipe and use (I used one in the dish and made another on the side since I wasn't sure how much the sweet potatoes would soak up), and I would use less milk with the sweet potatoes because personally, they were too moist for me. I was expecting a firmer topping, and I know that sweet potatoes are generally softer then white, but I think the milk and the gravy attributed to making them even softer.

So there you have it, folks. Cupcakes, brownies, and Shepherd's Pie. I'll be posting recipes soon, if you'd like to try any of these yummy dishes!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Five Year Plan

The Five Year Plan -- I'm on it. And in two days, I start my first day as a fifth year senior. Can we just talk for a minute how happy I am to know that in just 277 days (which is 9 months and 5 days if you're counting) I will finally be graduating with my bachelor's. I can't wait to get this semester over with. I only need seven more classes, all of which are upper levels for my major/concentration.

That's the damage -- six classes totaling eighteen credits. This is the most I've taken on in one semester, but I had to do it. That leaves one class for the spring, which I'm hoping will be offered as a once a week night class so I can work more but that's not something I'm even going to think about right now.

My internship (Professional Experience) is with WTMD's membership director working with their Fall Fund Drive and Membership stuff. That'll be Monday/Wednesday 10-1 and Thursday's 10-2. So essentially on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I will be on campus for about ten to twelve hours a day. That also means I will be eating lunch and dinner on campus and must force myself to not eat at Panera for every meal. I'm limiting myself to Thursday's only, haha.

Luckily Professor Paul was my Entrepreneurship professor last semester and always lets you out of your night class around 8:30/8:455 and is a really nice/helpful professor. Good thing I have him for three classes!

I have a meeting with the woman I'm going to be working with for my Independent Study, who works in the office at my dad's work. I'm going to be working with their "Christmas Committee" who does fundraising in the fall for various local charities and families who don't really get a Christmas. I'm going to be in charge of a silent auction for the Ronald McDonald House.

Three of my books have arrived. I only had to purchase four online, I have the one I need for Business Strategy&Policy since I bought it from a kid last semester, along with my Project Management book from the summer. I purchased two International Editions because they cost about half of what a domestic used book did. I also snagged Seven Habits for Highly Effective People, which I need for Professional Experience for $0.01. That's right, a penny! Granted I paid $6.95 for priority shipping, I figured it was still my cheapest/most economical route.

I'm going to be so busy. I hope I can still make time to make yummy meals and desserts and cupcakes!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It pays to bake cupcakes.

So I had my first paying cupcake gig last weekend for a former co-worker of mine. Her daughter just turned nine, and they were having a luau themed party. Camile knew exactly what she wanted -- chocolate cupcakes with green frosting inside and on top, strawberry cupcakes with turquoise frosting, and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting. She also wanted hula skirt, flip flop, and palm tree fondant decorations.

I was really excited about this order because I loved Camile's ideas and was excited to give fondant another try. This was only my third time working with it, and although everything didn't come out exactly how I would have liked, I think I did pretty well considering everything was done by hand with no stencils, etc.

Cindy (the mother) told me that everyone loved the cupcakes, and she was so happy with how they turned out. I also made a two-layer marble sheet cake with chocolate icing and kept saying "I hate making cakes". Not that I hate making them, but I would much rather frost and decorate a cupcake rather than a sheet cake, haha.

This was a great learning experience, and I'm really excited for future orders. Tuesday's this fall are going to be cupcake tasting days with some friends, so I'm going to be testing out a bunch of recipes and getting ready for future orders as well as Cupcake Camp DC :D

Scones cure.

At the beginning of the month I went to the beach with my cousin, Sarah. After being told to "not forget sunscreen", I come home looking like a lobster. My bag/legs/butt were so burnt that it hurt to sit/move/lay down. I was miserable. But nonetheless, I threw on my black dress and headed over to Miss Nicole's for another bake date. This time -- scones.

And let me tell you. Scones cure sunburn. They also cure a case of the Tuesday's, as we made them again last week when I was having a blah day, haha. I found the recipe on Tasty Kitchen, and the only modifications we made were using half whole wheat flour and half all purpose and we decided to only use blueberries instead of a mix of berries. Oh, and we sprinkled sugar on top. Which is a fabulous idea.

The scones have a great flavor and aren't too dry and don't have any weird aftertaste. The nutmeg and cinnamon are a great addition, and after making this recipe twice, it's definitely going to be a common breakfast in my house and the perfect baked good to send Nicole while she's at school :)

Very Berry Scones


                2-½ cups Flour
                2 teaspoons Baking Powder
                2 Tablespoons Sugar
                ½ teaspoons Salt
                1 teaspoon Cinnamon
                ½ teaspoons Nutmeg
                6 Tablespoons Butter, Chilled
                1 cup Dried Berries (mixed or one kind)
                ¾ cups Milk

Sift and measure the flour. Re-sift the flour with the other dry ingredients. Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers. Add the dried fruit to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the milk and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Divide the dough into two equal parts. On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat into a round about the thickness of a biscuit (about 3/4 to 1 inch thick). Cut into wedge shaped pieces, like a pie and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.