Fancy Lemons and a Big Secret

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

I'm baaaack! Tonight we had spaghetti and my kids swear that I make the bestest spaghetti in the whole world! I've had several  people ask me how I make it and what my secret is. Well tonight you're in luck. Because I'm not going to tell you my secret, I'm going to SHOW you! Here we go!

Can you handle this......?


              I don't think you can.

                           Hold on tight, here it comes!!

Thank you Paul Newman for making me the best spaghetti cooker the world has ever seen!!! 

Ok now on to real recipes. I met my mom in Austin for lunch yesterday and we went to Central Market where I was looking for citrusey inspiration. I found something so cool.

Stripey lemons......

That are PINK in the middle!!! So I made PINK lemonade cupcakes! Here are some step by step photos and I will write out the recipe for you at the end.

Please note that the recipe calls for 4 eggs, separated! Don't throw away either part, you'll need them both!

Cream together your sugar and butter on medium speed until it's light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and the egg yolks and mix well.

Well crud, I'm missing some pictures. At this point, you should also throw in some lemon zest. Just zest all of the lemons you squeezed for the juice. If you use bottled lemon juice, just don't worry about it. They'll still be lemony. (By the way, the pink lemons taste like lemons. It's fine to use regular ones.)

Next, slowly mix in your dry ingredients (that you sifted, yes?) alternating with the milk and lemon juice. If you'd like a strong lemon flavor, replace more of the milk with lemon juice.

Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer in a separate bowl.....

Until they look like this! You want soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Doing this makes the fluffiest cupcakes EVER.

 Here's the batter all pink and egg white folded. Prettttttttty. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. This recipe will make 2 dozen regular sized cupcakes. The frosting recipe will be under the cupcake recipe. :)

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
zest of 2 lemons (or however many you squeeze for the juice)
3 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup milk (for stronger lemon flavor, reduce milk and replace with lemon juice)
pink food coloring (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and put liners in a regular muffin pan.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the juice and milk and mix well. Add food coloring at this stage if you would like.
  5. In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  6. Fill liners 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Pink Lemonade Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup shortening (You can do all butter if you prefer.)
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 ounces pink lemonade (sold in pouches in the juice sections, bottles close to the orange juice, or in a       frozen concentrate)
extra confectioner's sugar to stiffen frosting if desired

  1. Beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
  2. Sift the sugar and then slowly beat in to the butter mixture until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. *Add pink lemonade and beat on low, then medium speed until well combined. 
  4. Sprinkle in extra sugar a little at a time to adjust the consistency.
*Here's where you need to taste and tweak a bit. This wasn't lemony enough for me so I ended up adding lemon juice and had to keep adding powdered sugar to make it the consistency I was looking for. This made it feel a bit different from normal buttercream and I don't like it as well. My suggestion is to use the lemonade if you are looking for a mild lemon flavor. If you want more of a lemon flavor, skip the lemonade and just use juice. Start with a couple of tablespoons and add more until you like the flavor. Have fun! Don't eat all the frosting while you are taste testing. 

Up tomorrow, Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Roasted Cinnamon Buttercream!


I've been neglecting my blog. My 3 and 4 year old went to visit their Nana for a couple of weeks and I've been playing Harvest Moon. I got a tad bit wrapped up and kinda let this go. Sorry 'bout that! But they're on their way back and I need to clear some room on my memory stick so look for a whole pile of posts soon! Just because I haven't been talking about it doesn't mean I haven't been cooking and baking like crazy. ;) First one coming up will be Mexican chocolate cupcakes because I didn't use a recipe for those and I'm proud. And I know a couple of people have been asking for the recipe. Be back later!

Alcohol is Your Friend

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bailey's Irish Cream Cupcakes

I had a very boozy cooking day yesterday! First up was Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika. YUM! Then Chris came home and told me he had a detail in the middle of the night (SUCK) and I knew I needed to find something to do for those three hours because I just can't sleep when he's out late. (I'm a worrier.) So I decided that yesterday would be cupcake experiment #1 for this week! Irish Cream cupcakes with coffee cream cheese frosting. Talk about a major wake up call at 2 AM! I know, I know. You all want to see cupcakes. But..stew first. No dessert if you don't eat your dinner first!

Once again, all bow down to the Pioneer Woman! This will be my go to beef stew recipe from now on. Here's the recipe. :)

To start, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a tbsp or two of butter in a dutch oven or big soup pot. Take my advice (learned with the French food) DO NOT USE ALL BUTTER. It browns way too fast!

Throw in your stew meat and brown it in batches. I used close to 3 lbs of stew meat so mine definitely wouldn't fit in there all at once. Once it's brown, remove it from the pot and put it aside on its own special little plate.

Chop up an onion and some garlic. I eyed my food processor and thought about using it for this one onion and these 4 little cloves of garlic. But for something like stew, I prefer the hand chopped rustic look of "my knife skills suck." Plus, it's easier to wash a knife than to wash all the little pieces of the food processor. (I did cheat and use my little handheld mini chopper for the garlic.)

Throw those rustic onions and garlic in the pan and let them cook a bit. I had to pour a teeny tiny bit more oil in because my meat soaked it all up.

Now for our star. I think (but don't know because I hate beer) that this would be better with a regular beer, not light. But this is what was left over from the impromptu Super Bowl party so, Bud Light it is. Cheap beer would work fine too.

And the supporting cast. A whole big box of beef broth, stock, or 4 cups of water with a few bouillon cubes thrown in, salt, pepper, paprika, and some tomato paste. Not pictured but no less important, some Worcestershire. Oh and a dash of sugar. I suck at gathering ingredients for pictures.

 Pour in the broth and then the beer and you get a nice foamy pot of stuff that looks like this. Put the meat back in and it's time to spice it up!

Worcestershire. See, there he is. LOVE LOVE LOVE this stuff. I will happily marinate anything in this. Pour in a tablespoon because that's what the recipe says and then give that bottle a generous swirl around the pot. Because you can't have too much Worcestershire.

Tomato paste! I threw in a couple of heaping tablespoons just like this one. For anyone who doesn't like tomato, don't worry. It didn't give it a tomato taste at all, just made the broth a bit richer.

Dump in a palmful of Paprika, about half a palmful of sugar, give the pepper mill about 8 or 9 cracks, and I also use a salt grinder and I put in about 15 coarse grinds of sea salt. With this kind of recipe, I never measure. You have to get a feel for it. Put a lid on it and let it simmer for 2 hours.

When that's done, cut some potatoes of your choice in halves, quarters, or if using big potatoes, just good sized chunks. I cheated and bought baby carrots but I did cut some of the bigger guys in half.

Dump that in and simmer again for about 45 minutes. *Note* If you didn't buy the super trim stew meat (I didn't) and if you didn't trim the fat off your meat (again, that would be me) you're going to have a layer of fat on the top that the paprika turned BRIGHT red. Skim that off. Now, see how much liquid there is? Yeah well....

It reduces down to next to nothing and is so rich and concentrated and just OMG YUM.

Put it in a pretty bowl, sprinkle some parsley on top, and serve it with some French bread or other crusty bread. Which I totally forgot to make!

Now! CUPCAKES!!  *The recipe for the cupcakes and the frosting will be at the end of the post.

First, gather everyone up. It really does go faster when you're prepared. Which I was not. Everything cold really needs to be at room temp but...These were 2 AM cupcakes so that didn't happen. This recipe makes 24 full sized cupcakes by the way. So don't freak when I tell you "4 cups of flour." So here's the lineup for these boozy babies. 2/3 cup unsalted butter, 2 cups of sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 1/3 cups Irish cream (see, boozy), 2/3 cup milk, 4 (yes 4) cups of AP flour (I used cake flour, it's better), 2 tsp baking powder, and 2 tsp salt.

Now let me complain. 24 cupcakes or not, 2 tsp of salt is too much. I can taste the salt a bit and maybe that was the intention If I make these again, I will cut the salt in half. Another thing, if you want a little milder Irish cream flavor, I would take out some of the Bailey's and replace it with milk. The flavor of the Bailey's is very good but it is very strong.

Start out like every other cupcake recipe I put on here. Cream together the butter and sugar that you let sit until it was room temp (didn't you?). Add the eggs (also room temp) and the vanilla and beat it together again.

Looks like this. Like it always does.

Combine the milk and the Irish cream and whisk together in a separate bowl. I would love to throw a cup of coffee in that bowl and just dive right in. Mmmmmm.

Combine all of your dry ingredients in yet another bowl. Would you like to see my kitchen? Maybe I should show you the chaos that is left from my late night baking.

Now beat in (slowly so your kitchen isn't dusted in flour like mine) the dry stuff and the liquids, alternating the two until it looks like this! Very thick, creamy, yummy golden batter.

Look how pretty!! These are baked at 325 for 20 minutes and came out perfectly.

Here is the frosting. By this time I was getting pretty exhausted and you're lucky you got a picture at all. So just scroll on down and read the recipe for this one. It's not firm enough to pipe on so I got my happy little offset spatula out and spackled it on.

The frosting is another thing I would change if I make these again. The cream cheese frosting is very good but the cupcake is very rich on its own. I would probably make a coffee buttercream instead for a little more sweetness and a little less heaviness.

And here it is! The perfect "my husband is at work and I'm ticked" cupcake. Or the perfect low key dessert for an adult dinner party. Or any kind of party! Dense, moist, not overly sweet. It's a sweet little cupcake, all grown up. Pour yourself some coffee andput a shot of Bailey's in it (ya know, since you already have it out).

Irish Cream Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup Irish cream liqueur
2/3 cup milk
4 cups AP flour (cake flour is better)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt (I think this is too much but you can judge for yourself.)

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the liqueur and the milk.
  4. In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating with the liqueur mixture. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick insterted in the center comes out clean. 
Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting
Frosts 24 regular sized cupcakes

8 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 tbsp evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt (I'd probably leave this out.)
2 cups confectioner's sugar
4 tsp instant coffee grounds or ground espresso beans

  1. In a medium bowl beat together the cream cheese and evaporated milk until smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and beat until desired spreading consistency is achieved.

On the Agenda

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

After taking a big fat McDonald's break after the 3 days I spent in my kitchen, I'm back! This is what I have planned for the next couple of weeks.

I'm going to make 2 different types of cupcakes a week until I have tried a bunch and found our favorites. Here are the contenders for the next 2 weeks. You guys help me decide which four make the cut!

Caramel Apple
Chocolate Carrot
Plain Chocolate (probably one of the 4 for sure. I'm looking for an awesome chocolate cupcake recipe.)
Corn cupcakes (has cornmeal in it)
Irish Cream (I have a HUGE bottle of Bailey's that I need to get rid of....Of course I could always just drink it. Ha!)
Maple Walnut
Rich Chocolate (This one has sour cream in it and that intrigues me.)
Sea Breeze (grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, grapefruit zest, chopped cranberries)
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Zucchini (I will definitely be making these eventually because I'm all about hidden veggies!)

Here's the dinner plan. No particular order guys, you'll just have to keep coming back.

Cream Cheese Chicken with egg noodles and roasted broccoli
One Pot Chicken Satay
Savory Port Mushroom Chicken
Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans with bacon
Paprika Chicken
Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika

Unexpected Super Bowl Party!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Party Day!   

Whew! It's been a day! Chris decided to call his mom around 11 this morning and invite her to our Super Bowl party. The one I knew nothing about! But that's ok, I'm glad they're here! So I started a snack mission, which started with sending Chris to the insanity that is Wal-Mart. It's been a loooong day so no recipes today kiddies. If you want the recipe for anything, leave me a comment or hit me up on Facebook. I know most of you that read this are FB friends. :)

First! Homemade salsa!! Mmmmmmm. Canned tomatoes, rotel, cilantro, garlic, and a tad bit of cumin.

Next, queso! Sausage, onion, velveeta, green chiles, and a can of rotel. The recipe called for a jalapeno but we've got lots of kids here so I skipped that.

And finally!! Sweet vanilla cupcakes and vanilla bean buttercream frosting. And we are TIRED of winter so I decorated them in honor of our wishes for Spring.

Pretty pink flowers on a bed of spring grass

These are for me because I like a little frosting but not a ton.
 Lots of green frosting for my frosting loving monsters!

Had to use the rest of the yellow and the pink and these two remind me of Dr. Suess movies for some reason!

And here they are all together! Well, I made 2 dozen so there are others but I had to try out my fancy new cupcake stand!!

I also made chicken tacos for dinner but that will be a full picture/recipe post for another day! Go Steelers! Go Green Bay! (Can you tell I don't really care? lol)

My Grand Adventure Part 3

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beef Bourguignon 

Shameless admission here. I loved Julie and Julia and I've wanted to make Beef Bourguignon ever since. The food geek in me decided to pick up an old French provincial cookbook (not Julia Child). There are lots of recipes in it. If you want to call them that. Really, it's told more as a story that you have to pick the steps out of. From a geeky standpoint, it is amazing. From a recipe standpoint, it's maddening. But now that I've done it, I realized that good cooking isn't about the recipe. You have to get a feel for it and just go with the flow. So this mostly follows the traditional recipe but after almost pulling my hair out, I also added my own flair to it.

Here is the ingredient list from the very old book.

2lb of topside of beef, 4 oz. of salt pork or streaky bacon, a large onion, thyme, parsley and bayleaves, 1/4 pint of red wine, 1/2 pint of meat stock, preferably veal, a clove of garlic, 1 tbsp flour, meat dripping. For garnish, 1/2 lb of small mushrooms, a dozen or so small whole onions.

I just realized something frightening. Those 1/4, 1/2, etc. are very small print and look like a 1. So I put in 1 pint of red wine, 1 pint of meat stock, and 1 lb of mushrooms. Whoops. Well, like I said, crash and burn potential is huge.

I have no clue what topside of beef is. So I bought a top roast of some sort that looked good and was the right size. Mine is closer to 3 lbs.

Cut it into cubes. I realized when I was cutting that this recipe would probably work fine with stew meat as a cheaper alternative.

Coat liberally with salt and pepper and put herbs on top. I used thyme, parsley, bayleaves, and rosemary. The rosemary wasn't called for but it just felt right.

Pour in the olive oil and one QUARTER pint of wine. This is a whole pint of wine. Drunken beef.

Top it with a whole sliced onion. Cover and let it marinate for 3-6 hours. Mine marinated overnight.

Now. Pearl onions. I hate peeling pearl onions. But the snooty French recipe said if you didn't have pearl onions, you just shouldn't bother with onions at all because regular onions weren't fit for garnish. Well prissy. Fine. I will peel the little stupid onions.

Strain the meat but DON'T THROW AWAY THE LIQUID! Take all the meat out and put it to one side. Also save the herbs. You're done with the onions that aren't fit for garnish. Can you hear me rolling my eyes?

 Cook the bacon and brown the onions in a heavy stew pot. Yay for the new dutch oven again! Umm, some of mine got a little too brown while I was fussing with the garlic. Also, for some reason my bacon didn't create much grease. So I threw in a couple of tablespoons of butter. It's French. Butter is good.

 Take the onions and bacon out and put the meat in the pot. The pseudo recipe says to dry the beef first but I am not wasting that much of my life. One big piece of beef? Yes. Tons of little cubes of beef? Heck no. Dust with flour and mix that all up.

Pour the marinade liquid in the pot along with one HALF pint of beef (veal, HA) stock. This is a whole pint of beef stock plus the pint of wine. Wonderful. Throw the herbs from the marinade in there along with the one clove of garlic. Sorry, I don't do one clove. There are 6 or 7 in there. Slowly simmer for 2 hours. Yes. 2 hours. The snooty book says that it's good to do the first two hours ahead of time and then cool it off and stick it in the refrigerator. So that's what I did. Warm it back up 30-45 minutes before dinnertime.

Brown the mushrooms in some butter.

Then dump the onions, bacon, and mushrooms into the pot and simmer for another half hour.

And here we go! Beef Bourguignon, Jessie style!