21 Days Til T-Day

November 4, 2010

I am sooo excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family!  It’s always a very low key and comfy affair.  I normally get to my parents’ house on Wednesday night, sleep in on Thursday, and then we all head to the movies.  Last year we saw The Blind Side, which resulted in lots of tears.  Mostly mine of course.

Um, dear family, let’s lighten it up for 2010, shall we?

Post movie we head home, cook and of course eat!  Then we watch A Christmas Story 2.5 times before passing out on the couch.  It’s all lovely.  For food, we keep it hearty but healthy.  My family (minus me) has become a bit butter/cheese/cream-adverse in the past few years, so there’s not a lot of cheesy casseroling happening.  Still, everything is always delicious and I LOVE cooking with my Ma and sister J.  I’ve been busy snagging recipes from magazines and my fave blogs the past couple days.  Everything looks so good… I don’t wanna wait for November 25…

So, because I’m a hoilday-crazed, baking-crazed, and just generally crazed crazy, I am having an early Thanksgiving when my bestie Erica is in town in a couple weekends.  We’re going to have a blast cooking, baking, and destroying my teeny kitchen.  And no butter/cheese/cream will be spared for Thanksgiving Act I.  As a special treat for us, I bought these on Bake It Pretty:

Ammmazing.  I love everything on their site.  AND, I will be in Asheville next week so I get to visit their pretty shop.  I could do a lot of damage there. Oh boy.

Anyone been to Asheville, NC?  Any recs?

Too much candy… just the right amount of Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

November 2, 2010

Post party we had quite a bit of candy left over. I brought it in to work to get rid of it. Unfortunately all my co-workers had the same idea. I’ve spent the last two days swimming in Nerds and M&Ms. It’s becoming a problem. I think I’m due for a dentist appointment too. Shudders.

The PARTY was funnn. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. I think you had a good time, yes? At some point in the night I lost possession of my camera. I found things like this on it:

The next morning?

Poor skeleton. Partied out. For political reasons, I cannot show you the rest of the party pics. But maybe just one of the whoopie pies I made.  They were yummy.  Whoopie Pies are popular now, popping up at bakeries everywhere.  I like how portable and individual they are–way less mess than cutting a full cake, even easier than a cupcake.  And because it’s fall, and because I’m obsessed with all things pumpkin and maple, here’s another pumpkin and maple recipe…

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Adapted from Bon Appétit

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
6 Tablespoons butter (3/4 stick), at room temp
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

1 cup butter (two sticks), at room temp
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 (7.5 oz) jar of marshmallow filling or fluff
3-5 teaspoons maple syrup, to taste
salt, to taste

For the cakes:
Preheat oven to 350° F

Sift together the first eight ingredients into a medium bowl. Set aside. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Gradually add in oil, then the eggs, one by one. Beat in pumpkin. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the addition of the milk. Finish by beating in the the last half of the flour until just combined.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon desired amount of batter onto your pan. I used about 2 tablespoons per whoopie pie “half”, and spaced them about 3” apart on the pan. Bake 15-18 minutes until edges are just slightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Watch these because the bottoms will burn! Carefully remove the cakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting:
With a hand or stand mixer, whip together the butter and powder sugar. Add marshmallow filling and a dash of salt. Gradually add maple syrup to taste. I loaded up on the maple syrup and added another dash of salt to cut the sweetness.

Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons on the center of the flat side (pan side) of a cooled whoopie pie cake. Grab another cake and gently press together. Enjoy!

This recipe made about 24 assembled pies.

Party at the Mansion, Y’all…

October 21, 2010

Wow, I am CRANKY today.  I think it’s a Thursday thing.  It all began this morning when I hated everything in my closet.

Thank goodness for the holiday aisle at Walgreens.  And baby bunny pictures on Google Images.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.  Otherwise it could have been a real bad day.

I’m having  a Halloween party next Friday.  If I know you, you’re invited.  I promise I won’t be cranky.  I’ll be party fun!  And there will be beer and bourbon ice cream.  What’s better than that?

Also, if someone could think of/create me the perfect Halloween costume, that would be awesome.

XOXO,

carly

Miniature Evil

October 17, 2010

Today was my sister’s bachelorette spa party. The wedding is just a few weeks away now! Like my nails?  We had a blast at Juko Nail & Skin Rescue in Wicker Park. I highly highly recommend Juko for all your mani/pedi needs. The owner Oksha and her staff were so accommodating and so so nice.  We all felt pampered.

Annnnnddd I baked mini pumpkin cupcakes with maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting for the party.  Long description.  Tiny cakes. So good. Very Dangerous.  Someone come over and eat the three dozen leftover.  Yikes.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


adapted from here and here.  Recipe makes about 60 mini cupcakes.

2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground gloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
2-3 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1+ teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt

For Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prep mini cupcake pan with paper liners.

Add vinegar to milk and set aside.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a medium bowl and set aside.

With a stand or electric hand mixer beat together the milk, butter, sugars, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture until smooth and well combined.

Fill mini cupcake pan with batter and bake 12-14 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

For Frosting:

Beat together butter and cream cheese until whipped and well combined.  Gradually add two cups powder sugar.  Beat in maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon.  Add more sugar or cinnamon to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Frost cooled cupcakes and serve!  Be sure to refrigerate the leftovers.

San Fran Love

October 16, 2010

Trip Highlights:

I am back in Chicago, after spending the past three weekends out of town.  It feels good to be back… sleeping in my own bed, clean laundry, groceries in the fridge–nice home things.  Pics from above are from my trip to San Francisco.  It seems I’m never there long enough to do everything I want.  This is easily one of my favorite cities to visit.  I already kind of miss it.  One weird question… who thought it was a good idea to not only carpet the BART subway cars, but use upholstered seats?  Ummmm…

Guess Where?

October 3, 2010

What’s Going On

September 30, 2010

Hey people! I just got back from a work trip to Maryland. It was a short, and mostly sweet visit. Sadly I didn’t get to try anything from Cakelove, one of their local bakeries. I stopped in after dinner my first night just to check it out, but was so stuffed of tuna and coconut rice, I couldn’t bring myself to purchase anything. I vowed I would be back to devour a S’mores cupcake, but it just didn’t happen.

Boo.  Ah, well. I am headed to San Francisco tomorrow, so I think I’ll make up for it there with assorted baked goods & ice cream.

And then, a week from tomorrow, I will be en route to Kansas City to be in Jennie & Perry’s wedding!

I actually may have to rethink this San Fran Carly vs. Food thing.  I have a bridesmaid dress to fit into after all.  Hmm.

Speaking of health food, I found those Caramel Apple Pops on a recent Walgreens visit.  Different apple varietals–Green Apple, Golden Delicious, & Macintosh.  I should work for a candy company.  Seriously, how fun?  They were all delicious.  The Golden and Macintosh were a tad sweeter than the original Green.  I love the seasonal candy/decoration aisles at stores. Target is an especially dangerous place for me.  I lose all sense of time and purpose.  Just ask Roomie L.

I will try to keep posting during my travels.  Excited and just a bit tired…

XOXO

The Shower

September 25, 2010

My sister Michel’s wedding shower was last Sunday, and it was a success! We had a lot going on, but everything came together, no one was hurt, and we all made it to work on Monday morning mostly unscathed.

My Dad grilled chicken. My Ma & I made this barley salad recipe. We made a lot of this recipe. We should have made more, but I don’t think we had a big enough pot. It was so hearty and tasty.

My aunts and cousins made salads and appetizers and pretty jello molds.

My grandmother made a billion cookies. By the time we were cleaning up my Aunt’s place post-party, they were all gone. She’s a pretty great baker.

We made chocolate caramel cupcakes. A bit of a frosting mishap, but still super good.

I made nectarine sorbet and served it with a drizzle of red wine and strawberries.

Too much food!

I wish I took more pictures.

But it was busy!

Anyway, if you have cute pics from Michel’s big day, please email them my way. And… here’s the cupcake recipe…

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes


from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

makes 20 cupcakes

3 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (half cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup milk, room temperature

1 stick (half cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
sea salt for garnish

For the cupcakes:

Preheat your oven to 350° F and prep your cupcake tins with paper liners.

On low power nuke the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Stop the microwave to stir every thirty seconds until chocolate is smooth and melted.  Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Using a hand mixer, cream 1 stick of butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla and eggs, then the cooled chocolate.

Add the flour mixture to the batter in four parts, alternating with the addition of the milk.  Beat until just combined.

Pour batter into cupcake pans.  Bake 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.

For the frosting:

In a heavy-bottomed 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to low but maintain boil for 2 minutes and continue to stir the caramel.

Carefully add 1/2 cup of the milk to the caramel.  Return to a boil, and then remove from heat.  Cool for 30 minutes until caramel is lukewarm.

Transfer cooled caramel to a mixing bowl.  With a hand mixer, gradually incorporate the powdered sugar and milk.  Beat 3-4 minutes.  Chill frosting in fridge until ready to frost cupcakes, at least 1-2 hours.

Whip frosting with mixer to a spreadable consistency.  Add sugar or milk if necessary.  Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with sea salt.

My Sister is Getting Married. And, Soon!

September 18, 2010

You know KC Jennie is getting married soon. In October. Remember? I made these for her bachelorette party.

Yep yep.

Well, my sis Michel is getting married in November! This week things have been getting more “real” and exciting as the bridal shower is tomorrow! My goofy family is making all the food AND desserts, so I will hopefully have a really fun shower post for you.  My contribution is nectarine sorbet and some cupcake decorating.

Two batches of nectarine sorbet?  MADE.  This is the only documentation I have.  Yet.  I’ll try to snap some pics when I’m serving it tomorrow.

In related news I finished up my shower gift-buying. I spent about 30 minutes staring at cake pans and OXO gadgets at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I resisted buying anything for myself, which I can assure you, was a true act of will power. Just look at this…

Dino Mini Cake Pan.  Love.

After ogling dinos and mini tart pans (why are mini versions of things so adorable?), I regained focus and picked out a few registry pans.  What I’m most excited about though is this…

Love Flo Braker.  And want this book.  Sigh.  Good thing it’s already wrapped all pretty so I can’t steal it for myself.  I hope my sis will like it!

 

 

 

Apple Picking

September 14, 2010

We had our second annual family apple-picking outing this weekend.

My little brother wasn’t there. Tear. He’s too busy being smart in Minnesota. BUT, I had a great time with Jen and my rents. And it was about 50º warmer than when we went last October. No hats, gloves, or scarves required.

The best thing… one of my favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker, posted this apple pancake recipe. I can’t wait until next weekend to whip up a batch, so there will be a brinner dinner this week. Featuring apple pancakes. And probably bacon.

Also on the agenda, two batches of nectarine sorbet, and frozen pumpkin custard. If I commit my plans in writing here, that means I gotta do em, right?

I will go to the gym I will go the gym I will go to the gym I will go to the gym.


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