Friday, March 16, 2012

Tuesday dinners!

In addition to Cupcake Sundays, I've been cooking dinner every Tuesday night. I don't really have a clever name for these nights, but a big thanks goes out to pinterest for giving me some great recipes :) You may be wondering why I only cook on Tuesdays, and it the reason is that I'm only home for dinner that night. I work nights and Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my days off. So Wednesdays I play trivia and I spend Tuesdays improving my culinary skills. So far so good!! I'm 3 weeks in to my dinner cooking adventures and its been a lot of fun so far. Check it out:

My first night cooking dinner I made Mexican Stuffed shells, and they were delicious! The recipe I used called for ground beef, but I don't eat red meat so I used ground chicken instead. I also mixed the scallions in with the chicken as well as scattering them on top. I had never made stuffed shells at all before, but it was so much easier then I thought! I'm totally making this again!

Week 2 I decided to make my own Chinese food. I love orange chicken and lo mien, and when I found recipes to make my own I jumped at the chance. It was much more time consuming then I ever thought it would be, but so worth it. I made an orange marinade for the chicken and let it sit for about 45 minutes while I made the sauce to pour over the cooked chicken and the ginger and garlic sauce for the lo mien. The real challenge in finding the right recipe for orange chicken for me, was finding one that didn't have me deep frying chicken. I'm trying to eat healthier and this recipe had me coating the chicken in a bit of corn starch before cooking it on a skillet with a thin coating of vegetable oil. Not to brag, but this chicken was amazing, we could not get enough. Using Soba noodles for the first time was also interesting, even without the sauce I made for it, they were delicious. I can't wait for my sisters to come home in a few weeks to have another Chinese food night, I'm going to add a scallion pancake to the next dinner but take a look at week 2's success:

Yes the noodles look a bit worm like, but trust me, this was an amazing dinner!!

Choosing the right recipe for dinner is becoming just as hard as picking my cupcake recipes. This week while searching, I kept thinking about how much I love pesto. I love it a lot. If I'm at a restaurant and I see a something that has pesto in it, I'm ordering it probably 9 times out of 10. I found a recipe that showed me how to make my own spinach pesto and I was very excited. I toasted walnuts, chopped spinach, minced garlic and blended it all together with some olive oil. As a big pesto fan, I will admit that it was not my favorite pesto, I felt like I could taste the walnuts too much. But my parents have never really tried pesto and they loved it, so again a success!! We couldn't really have just linguine with pesto for dinner so I made some turkey meatballs to go along with it. I'm really into using fresh ingredients so I got to chopping away! I sauteed onions and garlic together, mixed that into the ground turkey with fresh bread crumbs, spinach and feta cheese and baked them for about 20 minutes and voila! Another yummy dinner:

I think next week I'm going to try something with fish. I LOVE seafood, but I've never cooked fish before so it will be quite the adventure. Time to explore pinterest so see what is next!

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cupcake Sundays, S'mores Edition!!

Choosing the right cupcake for Cupcake Sunday is tricky. There are so many great recipies out there, and I'm really trying to try different things. I've been using the same Betty Crocker Cookbook, and I have a lot of trouble deciding what to do. Earlier in the week, it was suggested that I do something chocolate and I agreed but then I was silently kicking myself. Now I love chocolate but I wasn't happy with the chocolate cupcakes on Super Bowl Sunday. They looked adorable, but the cake was really dry and heavy. I wasn't sure if I missed something or cooked them to long, or if this just wasn't the right recipie. I decided to make a S'more cupcake with a marshmallow topping and I just kept forgetting to find a new recipe and had to do with what I had.

My plan was to do a chocolate cupcake, marshmallow topping, and then put a graham cracker on top. As I told my plan to my sister Paige, she suggested that I make graham cracker crust for the bottom as well so there would be graham cracker on the top and bottom like a real S'more. Brilliant idea! I had never made a graham cracker crust before so another new adventure take a look:

I ended up using the same chocolate cake recipe I had, as nervous as I was. I usually make buttercream frostings for my cupcakes, so this marshmallow frosting was another first. A jar of fluff, some sugar and butter later and I had a yummy, but maybe a bit too sweet for me, frosting. Now the cupcakes themselves, I was so nervous, came our great! I don't know what was different from the last time, maybe I missed and ingredient or took them out of the oven sooner, but they were light and chocolatly delicous! I've told you before that my mom helps me decorate, but she was in California so this was all me, and i have to say I was very happy with how they came out:

They look cute don't they? I think so :) I have a new hit on my hands, I had quite a few people tell me this was their new favorite. I'm pretty impressed with myself, I can't wait to see how next weeks come out. First I have to pick a recipe.... any ideas??

Happy Baking!!

I can cook real food too!!

So yes, the title of my blog is Cupcake Sundays, but I'm trying to teach myself how to cook real food too. I'm not completely useless in the kitchen, but I don't have many tricks of my sleeve and I want to see what I can really do. This past Tuesday I had some friends over to play Harry Potter Scene It (I am a big Harry Potter fan) and I decided to cook something from the Harry Potter cookbook my sisters gave me a couple of years ago for Christmas.

Now the biggest issue in this adventure actually was deciding what to make. One of my friends who was coming over is a vegetarian, and everything in my cookbook was either a dessert or a main dish that contained meat. I had promised to make lunch so I needed to figure out something! After reading and rereading, I came across a chicken and mushroom pie. Yes I know that chicken is a meat, but I could make mini ones and have some without chicken! Of course I had to make some also without mushrooms because another friend doesn't like mushrooms. Usually when you make a chicken pie, you use chicken broth, I simply substituted it for a vegetable broth and made 12 mini pies in a cupcake pan! Take a look:

They came out really good, and a big thanks to Pam and Meredith who somehow ended up taking over towards the end, it was a group effort and we did a great job. And look, we even made the pies in a cupcake pan!

When prepping the chicken and mushroom pies I took out way to much chicken to defrost, so I had to do something with it. I made a few pieces into a yummy chicken salad with pesto mmmm LOVE pesto! I don't have a picture of this, but I can tell you I was impatiently waiting for my dinner break on Thursday at work to eat it! On Wednesday I made my Dad and I a delicious calzone. I sauteed mushrooms, peppers and onions on the stove and added that to the leftover chicken. I rolled out the pizza dough and alternated layers of sauce, mozzarella cheese, chicken and veggies and then folded it over and YUM!

This was the first time I've made a calzone, so at first I was worried that I had put to much inside. I was imagining opening the oven and there being a giant mess, but it worked out great! I'm excited to cook something again soon, its tough with my work schedule and I hate cooking for just me, but I'll make a yummy meal again very soon :)

Happy Cooking!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Strawberry Colada Cupcakes!!

This week I made a strawberry colada cupcake, this one didn't have alcohol in it so I didn't enjoy a large pina colada like I did last week when I made my mimosa cupcakes. I know I could have, but it since I didn't have those ingredients out I decided not too, I work on Sundays too, getting a bit tipsy before work probably isn't the best idea.

I had a mini crisis when I was making these cupcakes, I read through the recipe earlier in the week to be sure I had all the ingredients, but I didn't read it closely enough. I'm still an amateur baker, I love to do it and I'm pretty good at it, but by all means I am not expert. That brings us to my dilemma, did you know about cake flour? I have never paid attention to the fact that there are different types of flower, I know about the different sugar types, but I never paid attention to flour. I should have known, it's call all purpose flour, so clearly there are flours for other purposes. I got a late start on these cupcakes, and I don't have a grocery store that close to me so when I noticed cake flour my heart sank. Thankfully my detective skills found a substitution! If you need cake flour you can sift regular flour! I really didn't want to do that though, so I kept looking and found something much easier. Remember this one its a great tip! If your recipe calls for a cup of cake flour, take a cup of regular flour and take our 2 tablespoons and this will equal out to the cup of cake flour. Crisis averted!

This was one of the more complicated recipes I've done, so I made a bit of a mess, but I didn't get any pictures of it. I think I used about 3 or 4 bowls and I needed the blender to puree the fresh strawberries that are in both the cake and the frosting, and the electric hand mixer to mix all of my ingredients. I hate cleaning up, and this was a big clean up. So worth it though! I love how good my house smells when I'm baking, and the combination of strawberries, pineapples and coconut made my house smell yummy :)

Its funny, as often as I bake, I always think its so cool how all of this:

Turns into this:

I really cant take the credit for how cute the frosting is, my mom took over that part. My mom usually acts as my assistant when I'm making my cupcakes, but my parents went into Boston for the weekend so I had to get started without her. I was praying she'd be home in time to help me frost the cupcakes, I am awful at frosting cupcakes. If I'm just going to frost them with a knife, I'm fine; but if its anything fancy, forget it! Last week we had multiple frosting malfunctions, I have some weird metal contraption that my aunt gave my for Christmas a few years ago that usually works, but it was giving a lot of trouble last week. We decided to try a plastic pastry bag which worked for about 1 cupcake before exploding. So my mom had my dad stop at Crate & Barrel on their way home and she bought me this:

An actual pastry bag set! I was so excited, but I still need a lot of practice, my hands were very shaky so my mom frosted most of them. We had another hit on our hands, they disappeared very quickly at work and I heard nothing but great things from everyone who tried them. Its so nice to hear people say they love what you're baking, its a lot of work and nice to know its appreciated, its fun too! Its been suggested I do something chocolaty for next week, I haven't decided what do make just yet, but I'll be sure to post what I decide. I think I'm going to be doing a lot of baking this week, I'm going to make some cupcake balls shortly which I'll share later.

Happy Baking!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Four Weeks of Cupcake Sundays!

So I told you that my mom and I watch a lot of cupcake wars, and we got very excited about all of the different recipes we saw. We wanted to try new things and so I went out and found a cookbook to help me get started, I'm not ready to start truly experimenting yet. My first week featured Snicker Doodle cupcakes, I loved making the cookies when I was little and I was very excited to try them. And I have to say, the came out amazing! Take a look for yourself:

Week 2 was a Banana cupcake with chocolate chips and chocolate frosting. My mom ran around everywhere to find runts so we could put banana shaped candies to put on top. Take a look at the finished product:

Week 3 fell on Super Bowl Sunday! I will admit I'm not a big football fan but I wanted to do something to celebrate the day. I made chocolate cupcakes with a peppermint frosting that I dyed green. I used a while gel to draw field goals on the green "field" I used egg shaped candies as the football making a goal. They came out pretty cute if i do say so myself :)

Week 4 I decided to try a Mimosa cupcake, made with actual champagne and orange juice. Of course I enjoyed a very large Mimosa cupcake while making this round. Another hit cupcake! (sorry I don't know hot to rotate this on my blog, its the right way on my computer, but I wanted you to see the cupcakes with my Mimosas!)

I'm not sure what this edition of Cupcake Sunday will bring, but stay tuned! I'm also trying to start cooking more so I may be posting those attempts as well!

Happy Baking!

How Cupcake Sunday was born!

My mom and I have been watching cupcake wars for a while and we decided we wanted to start trying out some new recipes. We didn't want to be stuck with so many sweets in the house and be tempted to eat them, I decided I would bring them into work. Our first attempt was to make snicker doodle cupcakes, which were a huge hit! So the tradition of Cupcake Sundays was born! I'm going to try a new recipe each week and I've decided to start blogging my efforts. I'm a month in so far and as soon as I upload my pictures I'll show you what I've done so far. To give you a "taste" so far we've made snicker doodle, banana chocolate chip, chocolate with peppermint frosting, and a mimosa cupcake. I can't wait to show you what I've done so far, and I'm excited to figure out what this Sunday's treat will be!

Happy Baking!