Drunken Spice Cake

I opened up my cupboard last weekend and saw that I had yellow cake mix. I am starting to think that I have short term memory loss, as I cannot remember why I bought it. Anyway, it was the base for this week’s experiment that ended up going to work in a waft of cinnamon-scented goodness.
Even after all of the pins that are on my “Cakes and Pies” board on Pinterest, I still found this new recipe here: http://itsthelittlethingsblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/monogram-monday-crack-cake.html

What You Need
For the Cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 small box vanilla pudding instant mix
2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup white wine

For the glaze:
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine

And Here’s What You Do
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix all above ingredients together
3. Pour into a Bundt pan
4. Bake for one hour

When the cake comes out of the oven, melt 1 stick of butter into 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of white wine. Pour directly into the pan on top of the still-hot cake. Let cool completely before removing.

photo 1

Comments
Let’s talk a minute on Bundt pans. I’m not sure why I have two, or even where they came from, but I have them. I think my mom had four or five, all pretty much the same size and shape. I’ve seen some gorgeous pans out there that make beautiful cakes. And I do like the way they turn out. However, I have yet to master the art of getting a cake out of one of these without somehow damaging the cake. They’ve stuck to the bottom, they’ve left their entire top level inside the pan, etc. When I am successful, it is because I’ve oiled and floured the thing to within an inch of it’s usefulness, and end up with uncooked flour bits all over my finished cake (which I end up brushing off with a pastry brush). If anyone has the secret to this, can you let me know?

Anyway, back to the cake. The recipe says to bake for an hour. However, I kept an eye on my oven, and my cake was done at about 40 minutes. Now, the oven had been cleaned the day before, so I suppose that it is possible that the extra-super-clean insides make the cake bake faster. However, I haven’t seen this phenomena repeated in the past week, so it’s tough to say.

I mixed all of this by hand – Just me, the bowl, and a big old spoon. Since I had to mix everything by hand in the days before my hand mixer and the stand mixer, it makes me appreciate the appliance that make our lives just a little easier. And sometimes I just don’t want to haul the stand mixer in from the garage (teeny kitchen does not make for lots of counter space).

However, even if this cake did lose a little bit of it’s top to the bottom of the pan, it still turned out quite delicious. I took this in last Monday, the same day that we welcomed a new coworker. After eating a piece, he asked me what new thing I had made for him every day. Great, I’ve created a monster…

Until Next Time,
Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Blueberry Scones, My Dear Watson…

I’m slowly turning everyone around me into a Sherlock fan.

It started simply enough…I found one of my coworkers who also watched the show, then we started talking about how great it was, then we got one more person to watch, then another, then another…

Anyway, what started simply enough turned into a group of us planning a Sherlock day where we watched an entire season of the show and celebrated being Anglophiles. Which led to the request for blueberry scones.  Which led to this…

Original Recipe is here: http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/blueberry-lemon-cream-scones/

What You Need

2 cups flour
grated zest of a lemon
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 ¼ cups heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
¾ cup fresh or frozen (don’t thaw them) blueberries

 

And Here’s What You Do

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet using your favorite method.  I prefer my parchment paper.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients along with the zest in a bowl.  Slowly mix in the cream until a soft dough forms.
  3. Remove the dough to a lightly floured board (or a very clean kitchen counter) and knead a few times.  Pat the dough down to about a half of an inch thick, then place the berries over the dough.  Fold the dough over to enclose the berries a few times until all the berries are trapped within the dough.  Pat out the dough into a circle, about an inch thick.  Brush the tops with more cream, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  4. Cut into 8 wedges, then place on the baking sheet about an inch apart.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until they turn golden.  Serve immediately.
  5. Makes 8 scones.

 

photo(2)

What I Did

I wasn’t terribly hesitant to make them, but I didn’t have a basis for comparison.  That can sometimes lead to second guessing yourself and making big mistakes.  Luckily, I was able to avoid that.

I did find out that a great time to go to the Big Blue Box Store is 6:30 am on a Saturday morning.  I really dislike going there, but it was the only alternative at that time of the morning.  I needed almost everything for the scones since my stock of flour and sugar and whatnot was diminished over the holidays.

Reaction

I think the best compliment that I got was the fact that they didn’t last but about 20 minutes.  Granted, there were five of us and only eight scones, but still!  One of the ladies described them as lovely and buttery in the center.  I completely agree with her, but I chuckle at the fact that there isn’t a bit of butter in them!  This is one of those magical recipes that are able to bring out the richness of all of the ingredients to the point where you think you are tasting ingredients that aren’t there.

1901732_10102999126543210_1228756333_nAbove picture courtesy of Shaina Mangino

They were gone so quickly that I wasn’t able to take a picture.  Luckily, one of the ladies snapped a pic of them and some of the other goodies that we had, so I have a bit of a reference for what they looked like. Definitely keeping this one for the future!

I’ll have to make them the next time we have a Sherlock day.  If you don’t watch, you should!

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

 

Cranberry Orange Relish

The holiday season is upon us!  I have been truly bitten by the Christmas bug this year, and have been on the hunt for weeks searching for great recipes to try this season. 

This one fell in my lap in early November.  It comes from a chef by the name of Jennifer Hill Booker from Georgia.  Her website is www.yourresidentgourmet.com.  When I tried this relish, I knew that it would be perfect for Thanksgiving.  So, I gave it a whirl.  And boy, was I glad that I did!

What You Need:

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup orange juice

1 orange, peeled and segmented

1 teaspoon orange zest

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup orange liqueur (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 pinch sea salt

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a medium-sized, heavy bottom sauce pan.
  2. Bring the relish up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally
  3. Simmer the mixture until the cranberries burst and the relish thickens, about 25 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and allow the relish to cool.  It will thicken as it cools

What I did:

I followed the directions since this was my first attempt at making anything remotely relish-y.  I was sure that I was going to mess it up somehow, and end up with a charred lump of mess in the bottom of the pan. 

I was so wrong!   You truly cannot mess this one up at all.  Sure, you need to keep an eye on it and make sure that you do indeed stir it, but it was super easy.

Here it is on our gourmet turkey sandwiches that we had the day after Thanksgiving.  Yes, that is also bacon that you see.

Image

Reaction:

Scott doesn’t even really like cranberry sauce, and he liked this!  I thought it was heaven, and I’m very happy that we happened to have orange liqueur on hand.

Brownies in Lunch Lady Land

I’m really digging not tryiing to get Scott’s input on what I make for him.  It’s a really freeing feeling!  And I haven’t gone wrong yet!

So, this week, I couldn’t get a very popular Pinterest pin out of my head.  You may have seen it.  It’s the Lunch Lady Brownie recipe with the enticing picture of the beautiful, chocolatey squares in close up.  I just couldn’t ignore it any longer, and finally caved to trying out the recipe.

You can see the original recipe here: http://www.saltboxhousecreations.com/2008/12/have-brownie.html

What You Need

1 cup of melted butter

1/2 cup of cocoa

2 cups of flour

2 cups of sugar

4 eggs

4 teaspoons of vanilla

And Here’s What You Do

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) In a stand mixer, mix together the melted butter and the cocoa until smooth, a beautiful glossy brown.

3) Add the sugar and the flour and mix well.  Add the eggs and mix until just combined.  Do not over mix the batter at this point!

4) Pour the mixture into a buttered and floured 9 X 13 pan.  It will be thicker than traditional brownie batter, so you may have to coax it into the corners with a rubber spatula.

ImageBy the way, that’s cocoa dusting the pan, not flour.  I read that somewhere.

5) Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Check them at 20 minutes (they were done in my oven after 20).

Image

6) While you are waiting for the brownies to cool (frost them after they have been out of the oven for 10 minutes), put together the frosting:

Frosting

1/4 cup softened butter

1/4 cup of milk

1/4 cup cocoa

3 cups of powdered sugar

pinch of salt

Mix everything together until well blended.  Pour this deliciousness over the still-warm brownies.  It will be pretty liquid, so rinse off that rubber spatula and start to spreading…

Image

Reaction

Hands down, best brownies I’ve ever had.  Just fantastic in it’s chocolatey simplicity.  It is completely perfect for those of you who have a love for fudgy and cakey brownies.  Yes, they are both.  So incredibly easy, and made with ingredients that I normally have on hand.  I can definitely see making these again!

Oreo Brownies

There is no such thing as too much brownie.  It should really come as no surprise when I say that I love brownies.  Ok, who am I kidding, I love baked goods of any kind.  This brownie is almost the end-all-beat-all brownie.

It has Oreos in the middle of them. ‘Nuff said.

I was trolling along in Pinterest one evening with Scott looking over my shoulder, when we came across this basic idea that we improved upon.  It involves Oreos, peanut butter, and brownies. 

Variations of this recipe can be found all over the internet, but this is our own!

What you need:

1 Box Brownie Mix

Eggs (for the brownie mix)

Oil (if the brownie mix calls for it)

Water (if the brownie mix calls for it)

1 package fudge-filled Oreos

1 package peanut butter Oreos

And Here is What You Do:

1. Mix together all ingredients for the brownies; set aside. 

2. Line a standard muffin or cupcake tin with foil or paper liners.  Place a spoonful of brownie batter in the bottom of each liner.  It may take a little coaxing to get the batter to cover the bottom of the liner.  That’s ok.

3. Open both packages of Oreos, and resist the temptation to eat the entire package while carefully peeling one of the chocolate cookies off of the fudge-filled Oreos and carefully sticking it to an intact peanut butter Oreo, thus creating a large Oreo with three cookies and two layers of filling.  Place these cookies into the liners that you just put the brownie batter in.

4. Spoon the rest of the batter into the liners, being careful to cover the Oreos with batter as well.  It’s ok to tap down the Oreos so they sit a little lower in the liner.

5. Bake according to the directions on the brownie package.

Reaction

The first time we tried these, Scott was taking them to work.  We stuck two whole Oreos together will peanut butter in the middle, and that is what is pictured below.

Image

They turned out really well, but we made them again last week for a graduation party, and they turned out even better.  Sticking the two whole Oreos might be a little less work, but putting them together the way that I describe here made them even more delicious!

These will definitely make the circuit of our regularly baked things.  Scott takes stuff in to work on a pretty regular basis, so I can see these going through our kitchen quite often.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Yet another experiment from Pinterest.  I swear that it gets more addicting as the days go by!!  I’ve heard that some people have troubles with recipes that they find there, but I find that this isn’t the case.  At least not so far…

Here’s What You Need:

1 (18.25) package plain yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup coconut (optional…my sister did not like the texture of it in there)

And Here’s What You Do:

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) Combine cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter, and eggs in a large bowl using a mixer or spoon. Press this into a 9X13 pan reserving 1 1/2 cup of the mixture to crumble on top.
3) In a small pot, melt chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and coconut.
4) Spread chocolate mixture over the mixture pressed in the pan and then crumble the 1 1/2 cups of reserved cake mixture on top evenly.
5) Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
What I Did:
Be proud, because I following the instructions to the letter!
Okay, I melted the chocolate in the microwave instead of in the small pot.  But, having had lots of experience melting chocolate, I feel that I can do it successfully in the microwave.  My best advice?  Low and slow.  Put the chips in a bowl and only put them in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring them after every time.  Once they get melty enough to still have some form, but are starting to be smooth, don’t put them back in the microwave.  Just keep stirring until they melt completely.
Anyway…
Reaction:
I think I should have baked them a little more.  They were a little…soft…when I cut them up.  The flavor is very good, and they definitely got the thumbs up from the bosses.
Until next time,
Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Pumpkin Muffins – Fall is Here!

Okay, so fall is sorta here.  In Florida, fall means the evenings are mostly nice, and you won’t feel like you need a shower the minute you step outside.  I sometimes miss the week of fall weather that I used to have in Alaska…

Maybe I just need to move.

Anyway, the arrival of fall kicks off the season of my favorite flavors – pumpkin, spice, caramel, peppermint, cranberry etc.  I love pumpkin in pretty much anything, and I’ve seen this recipe kicked around a few times in Weight Watchers cookbooks, in Hungry Girl emails, and I decided it was time to give them a try.

Here’s What You Need:

1 18.25 oz yellow cake mix

1 15 oz can of pumpkin

And Here’s What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix ingredients together (hand mixer will do, or a spoon and elbow grease).  Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.  Divide the batter equally amongst the 12 liners.  Bake 20-25 minutes.
What I Did:

Not one to just stick with one idea, I decided to make three (yes, three) different versions of this recipe.  I bought yellow, chocolate, and spice cake mixes (Oh, and for those of you who read my post about the chocolate toffee cookies a few weeks ago, yes, they do make cake mixes that big.  But Walmart does not carry them.  Publix does.)  and three cans of pumpkin.

Mix, mix, mix…

I also bought myself a cookie scoop.  It looks like a small ice cream scoop, but it’s bigger than a melon baller.  It’s awesome. As you can see by the picture, It makes lovely round balls of batter.

It also makes for more uniform portions.  It’s my new best friend!

Anyway, these little beauties came out of the oven and filled our humble abode with the delightful smells of fall.  We dug into them (because we have to test for quality!) and immediately fell in love!  I think the best part is that they are pretty much GUILT FREE!!!  No eggs, no oil, and you can make them gluten free because I saw gluten free cake mixes (how seriously cool is that?)

Scott allowed me to take some to work.  I think I took 24 to work with me.   They were gone in 30 minutes.
Reaction:

Three people at work told me today that they too had made the muffins over the weekend, and marveled at how easy they are to make.  Yayy!!!  I love hearing people trying out recipes that I’ve shared with them!!!

I will definitely hang on to this recipe.  It’s crazy easy, and you can’t really mess it up, unless you burn them, and that’s not great.  Burned pumpkin is not a fantastic smell.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes