Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cupcakes & Cookies

We had a baptismal celebration for my daughter this past weekend and instead of a cake, I wanted to make cupcakes. I also made some homemade chocolate chip/m&m cookies for our guests to take home. Those package boxes are actually Martha Stewart brand. The boxes came with a Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. It came in a set of 6 boxes, wax paper and labels. It costs about $13 each. I bought 2, but I used my 50% off coupons so I had a really good deal at Michaels. 

ingredients for cookies

Makes about 3 dozen
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  2. Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges and set in the center, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
    **I used 1 cup of mini chocolate morsels and 1 cup of mini M&M's because I had them onhand I wanted to use them.

cookie dough
Cookie dough.
ready for baking
Ready for the oven.
cooling off
packaged up
In the pretty boxes.
Homemade with love=)
Now time for the cupcakes!

For the cupcakes I just used the Duncan Hines Devils Foodcake mix because I like the way it tastes and its really moist. I got the ganache frosting recipe from FoodNetwork. Its basically just 
8 oz semi sweet chocolate
3/4 cup of hot heavy cream

Cut up your chocolate so its easier and faster to melt. Put it inside a heatproof bowl. Cook heavy cream until it comes up to a small boil. When thats done, pour the hot milk into the chocolate and stir. Do not add lots of air when your mixing the ganache. When its well combined, let it sit and thicken a little bit. I'd say about 1/2 an hour. Coat your cupcakes by dipping the tops and set it down for a minute or 2 before adding your decorations. 

cupcakes for celebration

I used pink m&m's which I got from Target. They normally don't have pink colored m&m's in the regular bag, but it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and they had it on special. I used ready made white cookie icing that came from a squeeze tube. I'm sure I got it at Michaels.

Wilton Course 1 Classes

So I decided to try out a cake decorating class because after joining IC:Earth and seeing all these beautifully iced cupcakes, I wanted mine to look as nice. This was our first project, a character cake so we could practice our star icing tips. I used the Wilton Topsy Turvy cake pan. I went a little crazy with my colors. I think all of my cakes could be contenders for CakeWrecks. That website is so hilarious.
My first character cake.
Our second project was the ice 6 cupcakes with the new techniques we learned which was drop & swirl flowers, shells, sweetpeas, bows, print. I didn't get to print...but here are my funny looking cupcakes.
Actually, here are my iced cupcakes ready to get decorated.
2nd project cupcakes
And here is how it looked like after I got my hands on them.
practice icing
I have one more class left! Were working on roses and we have to decorate a round cake. I signed up for Course 2 and this time its on Friday nights.

Tres Leches cake

slice of cake

My husband recently celebrated his birthday and all he wanted was for me to make one of his favorite cakes~Tres Leches. I got the recipe from Allrecipes.com.
Ingredients for Tres Leches


5 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.
  3. Cream butter or margarine and 1 cup of the sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract, beat well.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter or margarine mixture 2 tablespoons at a time, mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork.
  6. Combine the whole milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.
  7. Whip whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup of the sugar together until thick. Spread over the top of cake. Be sure and keep cake refrigerated, enjoy!
Tres Leches batter
The cake batter.

Tres Leches cake
The cake has cooled completely and I pricked it with a fork so that it absorbs all of the milk mixture.
Milk mixture for cake
3 milk mixture ready to be poured onto the cake.
Soaking in the milk
It soaked up all of the milk. I covered it in saran wrap and refrigerated it for about 1-2 hours before covering it with the whipped cream. 
Whipped topping for the cake
Fresh whipped cream.
Happy Birthday Jude!
I had lots of whipped cream left and I didn't want to waste it, so I piped in something our daughter might've said if she could talk. She's 5 months old. I made this the night before his birthday. He had the morning off the next day, so I decided to cook him breakfast too: Longonisa with steamed white rice. He loves that stuff. Its a filipino sausage. There are 2 different types or should I say flavors of longonisa. It just depends on what area its from. The one from Pampanga has a sweet taste (which my husband & I prefer), while the other one from Vigan has more of a salty taste to it (which my oldest brother prefers). One things for sure though, it tastes good with white rice=) 
Pampanga longonisa
It shrinks down a lot when its cooked. You can find this at asian food stores and its a bit pricey. I think it was about $6.00 for this. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Happy Anniversary!!!

My hubby & I celebrated our 8 year anniversary on the 28th. We decided to just stay home and cook dinner ourselves. For brunch my husband wanted spam fried rice. **Don't knock it if you haven't tried it alright?** Like my profile says, i'm an island girl and proud of it=)
I thought we had a can in the cupboard but we didn't, so he didn't mind me making it with Chinese Sausage, since he loves that stuff and we had it already in the fridge. I made the fried rice the exact same way I would with the spam.
Ingredients for fried rice
My ingredients:
3 cups cooked cold white rice (I like to use jasmine rice).
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, diced tiny
1 cup peas
6 Chinese Sausage, diced
sliced green onions for finishing
3 eggs

*its really up to you how much eggs, sausage, carrots, or peas you want. Taste as you go along cooking. You will find what tastes right for you. I couldn't tell you how much soysauce I put, I just had to taste the rice. In the photo, I had only cut up 4 sausages, I ended up cutting 2 more and adding it to the rice because it didn't taste like there was enough. 
  • Turn on stove to high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or wok. 
  • When hot, add the diced sausage and cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Some fat will be rendered from it. 
  • Add the onions and garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the onions are almost transparent. 
  • Add the carrots and peas. Cook and stir for about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper. 
mixing it together
  • Add the cold rice, breaking it up in the pan and stirring. Do this for about 2-3 minutes until you've taken all the clumps out and the rice has been thoroughly mixed in the pan. 

  • Make a well in the middle of the pan and add your eggs. Add salt and pepper.Mix the eggs first with your spatula and work your way outside to the rice. Turn the heat down to medium. Keep mixing for about 2 minutes until the eggs cook into the rice.
  •  Add your soysauce. I would add 1 tablespoon of soy first, mix then taste and see if you need some more. Turn the heat off when your satisfied with the flavor. Add your green onions and mix and your done! 
Chinese sausage fried rice
I plated the rice in a heart shape. Yeah, i'm crazy like that...hehehe. It was our anniversary.

Now for Dinner~

Anniversary dinner
One inch thick filet mignon and roasted corn. There was supposed to be roasted zucchini too but it was one of those big zucchini's that got too big that it started having that fibrous stuff and it didn't taste right. Make sure you get the small zucchini if your going to grill it. I tossed it before we took the picture. Were still not experts in grilling. Our filets were still rare after being on the grill for 8 minutes on each side. We put it back on the grill for maybe another 8 minutes and mine came out medium well. My hubby's came out medium. It still tasted pretty good since its an expensive cut of meat. I usually like my meat cooked medium. At least dessert turned out FABULOUS! Creme Brulee!
Look at that candy crust and creamy custard!!! Seriously yummy! 
After trolling around the net for a good recipe, I found it on FoodNetwork. I searched and got this 5 star recipe from Tyler Florence. This recipe is really a heart attack on a ramekin. Full fat, everything, it is sinfully good. Don't tell your doctor. Or mine for that matter. 

Ingredients for creme brulee
Here are the ingredients. Not many, but all baaaaad for your body. But I promise you, the finished product will make your palate sing. Oh, by the way...before you make this, you should look up recipes that require egg whites because you don't use any of it in this recipe.
Putting it all together.
Thats 9 egg yolks, superfine sugar, and vanilla beans..all ready to get mixed up.

mixing in the milk.
Tempering the eggs with the hot milk (heavy whipping cream). Just like with the custard pie, add it slowly and keep stirring so the eggs don't cook! Very, very, very important!

Ready for the oven.
Ready for the oven. Hot water already added, make sure the water is about 1/2 the height of the ramekin.
Out of the oven.
Out of the oven to cool completely.

Making the candy crust.
You can't really see it, but i'm burning the sugar. The flame is on the top right of this photo. If anyone has any tips on how to torch the tops without burning the sugar or leaving sugar crystals please let me know. I think I only did 2 perfectly, but we ate them all anyway...Not in one night (although i'm sure we could have if we didn't feel so guilty about how bad it was for us) make sure you refrigerate it first before eating.....and, we finished with this:
Apple Ice Wine
We got it at the Duty Free on the US/Canadian border. It came in a nice wooden box, so we bought it, thinking it looked nice, it must taste nice too. We should've known that it wasn't a winner since it was on SALE. Oh well, we will just have to stick to Covey Run's Semillon Ice Wine...whenever we can find it. I think we had a good 8 year anniversary=) Our tummy's were really happy. 

Gourmet Mac & Cheese

Gourmet Mac & Cheese

I don't usually make- or eat Mac & Cheese, but I was watching Bobby Flay's "Throwdown" one night and they made the Mac & Cheese look good. So I decided to find the perfect Mac & Cheese recipe.
I decided in Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa) recipe. It rated 5 stars and several of the reviews said that their kids LOVED it. If kids like it, this must be good.

Ingredients for Gourmet Mac & Cheese
The ingredients. The only thing I changed was the breadcrumb topping. I wanted to use Skyflakes crackers. I love that stuff. You can get it at most asian stores. Here is the recipe again.

with Gruyere and Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese
Shredded Gruyere and Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese with spices, ready to mixed into the hot milk. I used the food processor to grate the cheeses. It makes life more simple.

Add the cheese mixture and mix it until its all melted and then add your cooked macaroni~ be sure to cook the macaroni al dente. Do not overcook it.

Ready for the oven. You can omit the tomatoes, but Ina's recipe had it and I personally like tomatoes.

Gourmet Mac & Cheese
Yummy mac & cheese. It tasted really good! But i'm a carnivore. I definitely wanted some meat with that. Maybe next time i'll add some cooked ground beef and onions to the cheese mixture. Oh, and Gruyere is not cheap. I don't know what I was thinking when I bought it. I never made mac and cheese from scratch before, and the recipe called for something like 3 or 4 cups of Gruyere and I bought (2) one lb. blocks. It was waaaay too much! It was like $10 a pound. I don't know how much it costs in other grocery stores, but I got mine at Costco. I think I like Gruyere cheese=)

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Iron Cupcake: Basil winner goes tooo...

Mama Baker for garnering 25% of the total votes. Congratulations! Thank you to those that voted for my cupcakes. I didn't even get 1% of the votes, but i'm just glad I didn't get zero votes. Anyway, it was a fun experience, so i'm not complaining. I however, have learned of another cupcake competition, Cupcake Hero from Iheartcuppycakes. I will have to check that out. I don't know if i'm going to do the next Iron Cupcake Challenge, but if your interested, the secret ingredient for October is: CHEESE!

I haven't uploaded any new pictures yet from my camera. But I have some goodies i've made from last weekend. It was my 8th anniversary with my hubby last weekend and I let him pick out the menu... and it goes a little something like this.....
Filet mignon
Roasted corn
Creme Brulee

I also made Gourmet Mac & Cheese because I saw Throwdown with Bobby Flay a couple of months ago and since then i've always wanted to try it. We don't really eat Mac & Cheese that much but they made it look so good on tv. I had to try it. I will post those pics up soon.

But for now, some old baking projects i've done over the past year.

Bake sale goodies for the March of Dimes Fundraiser
March of Dimes Fundraiser goodies

Rocky road brownie, Chewy Dark Chocolate Macaroons, & Rocky road cluster
Chocolate goodies

Mascarpone Cheesecake with Almond crust. Recipe from Giada of FoodNetwork.
Mascarpone Cheesecake

Sour Cream Cheesecake. Recipe from Alton Brown of FoodNetwork.
Sour Cream Cheesecake

Panda cupcakes & Alligator cake. It's from the book Hello! Cupcake
Panda Cupcakes
Alligator cake

Homemade Icecream Sandwiches~ I didn't make the ice cream.
Ice cream sandwiches

Mini Pecan and Cherry Pies. I got the idea from NotMartha.
Mini pies

A big cookie cake made with Devils Foodcake mix. I thought the pink M&M's added a nice "little" touch...=)
Gigantic cookie

I saw these cute Cupcake lollipops and I had to make it. Thank you Bakerella!
Cupcake pops

Lastly, Dessert Sushi. My coworker made this using fruit leather, rice krispy treats, & various types of gummy candy. It tasted yummy. Thanks Cheryl R!
Dessert sushi
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