Dinner Time!

Lest any of you think I don’t eat any actual real food (only sweets), here is a picture of what I fixed for dinner tonight:

Fried round steak with gravy
Garlic green beans
Crash hot potatoes (courtesy of the Pioneer Woman)

Delish!  And I have enough food left for 3 more meals 🙂

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Strawberry Cupcakes

I know I’ve been posting a lot of recipes lately, but I’ve been doing a lot of baking!  A friend wanted some strawberry cupcakes (also, some salted caramel cupcakes — yum yum) for a party she was going to.  I did some searching online and found the Sprinkles strawberry cupcake recipe.  I went to Sprinkles once before, mainly because of all the hype.  (I have shared before how I used to really not like cupcakes.)  I fell in love with their vanilla cake, but all the others were only okay, in my opinion.  They seemed a bit dry.

But in the interest of giving the benefit of the doubt, I thought I’d try it.  Well, they were fine.  They tasted alright, but again, were a bit dry.  So I took matters into my own hands and created my own!

I tend to think of baking in bases.  Have a good vanilla base?  Then you can add flavors to it to change it up.  Same with yellow cake, chocolate cake, etc. I basically took the same recipe as my Cookies & Cream cupcakes, but changed just a couple things.  And of course, omitted the cookies and added strawberries.

The frosting on top is to die for!  So go ahead, make this recipe, and thank me later. 🙂

Strawberry Cupcakes
Makes about 28 cupcakes.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1/3 cup strawberry puree
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup strawberries, macerated and chopped

For the chopped strawberries:
First, take 1 heaping cup strawberries and hull and quarter them (or halve them, depending on size).  Place in a bowl and add enough sugar to coat them.  Let this sit for at least an hour (or as long as overnight) to macerate them.  (This means you are going to be making some delicious sugary strawberry juice!)  Once the strawberries are ready, place in a food processor and chop finely – but not so finely as to puree them.  Once they’re chopped, you’ll have finely chopped strawberries in strawberry juice.  (Resist the urge to eat it with a spoon.)

For the pureed strawberries:
Take about 2/3 cup strawberries and hull them.  Place in a food processor and grind them until pureed.  This should yield you about 1/3 cup of strawberry puree.  *Hint: Puree extra strawberries for the frosting.

For the cake:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flours, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.  Whisk and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Put 1/3 cup strawberry puree into a 1 cup liquid measuring cup.  Pour enough milk over the puree to fill mixture to 1 cup.  Mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Alternate mixing the flour mixture with the strawberry milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.  Blend until just combined, but do not overmix.

Take the chopped strawberries (juice and all) and fold them into the batter.

Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and fill 3/4 full.  Bake about 20 minutes, rotating half way through.

Strawberry Buttercream
2 sticks butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons pureed strawberries

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese.  Add in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Gradually mix in the powdered sugar.  Add 3-4 tablespoons of pureed strawberries, until frosting is at desired consistency.  If frosting becomes too thin, just add a little more sugar.  Mix until all the powdered sugar is incorporated.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.  If you are not piping frosting, you can make 1/2 to 3/4 of this recipe.

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Cast Party Wednesday

The Search for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

I know I have already made a post about my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  But in the past week I have come upon two other recipes that looked and sounded delicious.  So, I knew I would have to make all three to figure out which one I liked best.  🙂

This was a difficult experiment, I tell you what.  Making a bunch of cookies and then eating one from each batch?  Soooo hard to do.

So, cookie #1 was from Jacque Torres.  (I actually made half the recipe and got 2 dozen large cookies.) It calls for bread flour and pastry flour, which gives it a crispy, yet tender texture.  It’s both chewy and soft, with tons of chocolate.  It calls for bittersweet, but I just used the semisweet chips I had on hand.  I actually even forgot to put in the salt and this cookie was still delicious.  I know it would’ve been even better with the salt.

Cookie #2 was from New York City’s Milk & Cookies Bakery.  It calls for old-fashioned oats, finely ground.  I could definitely tell there was oatmeal in this cookie by its texture, even though it was finely ground.  It also had a lot of chocolate, and I again used the semisweet chips.

Cookie #3 was my chocolate chip cookie recipe, but this time instead of milk chocolate chips, I got a block of milk chocolate from Whole Foods.  I made about a half cup of chocolate ribbons and then made a cup of milk chocolate chunks.  This meant that chocolate was all through the cookie (from the ribbons) and in big chunks, which were gooey and delicious.  The cookie was still sweet and soft, with slightly crispy edges.

My verdict?  I still LOVED my cookies, and with the changes in the chocolate, I loved them even more.  And I declare these the winner!!!

In second place, I’d give it to the Jacques Torres recipe.  Third place will be the Milk & Cookies recipe, mainly because of the oatmeal texture.  I’ve really only liked oatmeal in oatmeal raisin cookies and I just wasn’t as crazy about this cookie texture (though they were still good.)

What’s your favorite cookie recipe?  Any special methods you use in your cookies?

Also anyone want to come take all these chocolate chip cookies off my hands?