Adios- but not really.

12 Jan

For the past few days I have been struggling with something. I don’t want to have a blog dedicated only to cupcakes and baking. 95% of the blogs I read and follow are vegetarian/vegan/healthy foods blogs- and I realized I just want to be a part of that.

I love baking blogs, and will continue to to read and comment on the ones I have been recently, but I’m switching blogs.

I’ve had pretty good success with this blog so far I believe,  So it’s a little sad to see it go. I thought about just having 2 blogs, but thats too much. I want to be able to blog everyday, and let’s face it, who bakes every day? (If you do, I want to be you!) I just don’t have anyone to eat that many baked goods.

So, feel free to follow me over at my new blog, A Tablespoon of Liz.

Thank you so much for reading my blog up to this point, and I hope to see you over at my new one! (And of course, There will still be baking and cupcakes on the new blog! But among many other things as well!)

Hawaiian Baked Oatmeal

9 Jan

I rarely eat breakfast. When I was at school, I would eat a quick bowl of cereal before running off to class, and on the weekends, I’ll admit I probably wasn’t in the breakfast mood after a late night of consuming alcohol. Now That I’m unemployed and living back at home (kinda pathetic sounding, I know, but I’m looking!) I don’t wake up in time to eat breakfast. However when I woke up today, no matter that it was 10 o’clock, I wanted oatmeal.

I was planning on baking up some lemon macadamia cupcakes, but my mom, who would be the only person in the house who would help me eat them, just left on a trip to India. So I decided to hold off.

I was feeling adventurous today and wanted to make an oatmeal I had never had before. One of my favorite bloggers, Chocolate Covered Katie always makes the most delicious looking oatmeals, so I decided to try a spin off of her ‘boatmeal‘ or baked oatmeal.

I didn’t have any pumpkin, but I did have this:

Have you ever tried this? I discovered it yesterday… in my fridge. It’s sooo good, and it tastes just like regular yogurt! This has to be my favorite type of soygurt (=soy yogurt) i’ve ever tried. Of course, nothing compares to coconut milk yogurt, my absolute favorite, but little grocery store only sells one type of dairy free yogurt. (But now i’m going to have to find out where my mom buys this stuff!)

Anyway, back to the oatmeal. I decided I did not want to bake the soygurt in the oatmeal, What if it curdled or tasted gross? Then I would have ruined the last container of this deliciousness! So, I just let the key lime pie flavor influence me. I made a banana, pineapple, and coconut oatmeal. And it was delicious, if I do say so myself!

Baked Hawaiian Oatmeal

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 banana, mushed up
1/4 cup pineapple tidbits
1 tablespoon coconut butter

Mix all the ingredients together, and put them in a small baking dish. (I used 2 small ramekins)  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then broil for about 3 more minutes.
I topped mine with a big ‘ol dollop  of silk live key lime pie yogurt (Of course!) a drizzle of more coconut butter, more pineapple tidbits, and a few chopped up macadamia nuts. It was sooo good!

It was so good, the warm oatmeal with both cold and warm pineapple, and cold oatmeal! yummmy! Here’s another shot, just in case you need some more convincing:

I wish it could have had a little more variety color wise, but I’m not complaining.  It was gooey nummy heaven. I hope you all try this!

p.s.- I changed the layout of the blog… The old one just wasn’t me… And I wanted something a little more basic and streamline.

Banana Cupcakes

6 Jan

With creamy chocolate ganache filling and not too sweet peanut butter cream cheese frosting, to be exact.

These are by far one of my favorite cupcakes. And the dairy and eggs aren’t even missed!

Banana Cupcakes

1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 banana, mushed up

Directions:
Mix together soy milk and vinegar, and let curdle. Once curdled, add oil, sugar, vanilla, and banana, mix about 3 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. Fill 12 cupcake liners with the batter, and bake at 350 degrees F for about 18 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup soy milk


Directions:
Simmer soy milk on stove. If chocolate  isn’t already in small pieces, chop up so it melts quicker.

Remove the simmering milk from the stove, and pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for about 4 minutes, then whisk until smooth. If there are still chunks of chocolate, microwave for 15 second intervals stirring in between until all is melted.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. dairy-free cream cheese (I use the tofutti brand, It’s the only kind they carry in my grocery store)
2 tablespoons margarine or dairy-free butter substitute
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
Beat cream cheese, margarine, and peanut butter until smooth and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated.

How To assemble the cupcake:

Directions:
Using a paring knife or melon baller, cut/scoop a small hole out of the top of the cupcake, and pipe or spoon a dollop of ganache. You can cover this with a slice of banana, a thin piece of the cake you cut out, or just leave it open.

Pipe frosting on top. I used a lot of frosting on these, the frosting only uses about one cup of powdered sugar (while a lot of recipes use close to 4!) So it’s not overly sweet. If you do want to make it sweeter however, feel free to add as much sugar as you like.

To decorate, I just drizzled some of the extra ganache on top. The cupcake on the far right has a pulled sugar garnish, that I made at school and brought back with me. You could also pipe on some peanut butter or sprinkle some chopped peanuts on top as well.

The World’s Greatest Chocolate Cupcake

3 Jan

… or chocolate peppermint cupcake I should say. And it’s vegan to boot. ; )

Once again, I got the base cupcake and frosting recipe from my favorite, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. The frosting is a chocolate mousse- and it contains- get this, tofu! I made some of these for one of my mom’s church events, and all those tofu/vegan wary people thought they were to die for, and were shocked they were vegan!

Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes:
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 cup  soy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and prepare your muffin tin with liners.

Mix together the soy milk and vinegar, let curdle for several minutes.  Once curdled, add the oil, sugar, and peppermint extract and beat until foamy.

Add all the dry ingredients in two additions, and beat until there are no large lumps in the batter.

Dish out into the cupcake liners, and bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.

Amazing Chocolate Mousse Frosting

Ingredients:
1 (12.3oz) package of firm silken tofu
1/4 cup plain soy milk
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you could use peppermint, but I didn’t want the peppermint to overpower the cupcakes)
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Melt the chocolate. Let cool for about 5 minutes.

Add the tofu, soy milk, agave, and vanilla to the blender and blend until smooth. Add the chocolate, and blend until incorporated.

Refrigerate for about an hour, until firm.

Pipe onto cupcakes, and sprinkle with crushed up candy canes if desired. It’s the perfect holiday treat. I do realize, the holidays are over : / Guess you’ll have to save this one for next year. Although, It is a great way to use up those leftover candy canes. I know my grocery store has carts full of them at the checkout that they give away for free once Christmas is over.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately looking for jobs, as well as entering some baking contests. One is the Chocolate Adventure Contest, which ended yesterday. The other is the ZenSoy Contest at GoDairyFree.org. It’s an amazing website if you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. This contest ends January 15th, I highly recommend you check it out! I’m keeping my lips sealed on my entries for these contests however. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

My next post I’m going to give ya’ll the recipe for a delicious Banana cupcake with ganache filling, and peanut butter cream cheese frosting! See you soon!

Cinnamon Muffins

30 Dec

A few years ago my mom and I spent some time in Portland Maine  as well as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Canada with some family friends. We had a blast, It was such a lovely area.

My friend and I posing for a photo in our room at a cute bed and breakfast in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

We were in Portland for about 3 days, and each morning we would go to an indoor market (I’m not sure exactly what it’s called, maybe someone knows?) And one bakery there made these delicious cinnamon muffins. They weren’t just normal cinnamon muffins however- they had little clusters of cinnamon sugar inside them. Unfortunately, this bakery only made 3 of these muffins every day, so we couldn’t stock up. I’ve been searching high and low for a way to recreate these muffins, and I’ve come pretty close, but their not exactly the same. So if anyone knows the secret- please let me know!

After years of looking up how to make these, I found these in a King Arthur catalogue:

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. It kind of looks like dog food. But it’s not. They’re cinnamon flav-r-bites. And they are delicious. 


And as luck would have it, they had a cinnamon muffin recipe on the back! Well actually, it was a cinnamon apple muffin recipe, but I left the apples out trying to recreate my favorite cinnamon muffin. But I’m sure throwing the apple in would be delicious as well.

I’ve slightly altered the recipe to make it dairy-free. The recipe originally called for one cup of buttermilk, but I’ve replaced it with one cup soy milk and a teaspoon of vinegar.  It’s a similar buttermilk solution to my Strawberry Kiwi Cupcakes recipe. And I’ve also used Earth Balance (Or Futter (=fake butter) as we call it in my house)  instead of regular butter, but feel free to use what you like.

Cinnamon Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (or futter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
3/4 cup cinnamon flav-r-bites
Optional: 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, and prepare your muffin tin with liners.

Add the vinegar to the milk and let sit for a few minutes allowing it to curdle.

Beat the butter with sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, stopping to scrape the bowl along the way. Add the curdled milk and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, and once they are incorporated add the cinnamon bits and apple, if using.

Portion into muffin tins, It should make 12 muffins. Put them in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat of the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 10 more minutes.

Don’t be too worried if they get dark, the brown sugar and wheat flour make them dark naturally.

These really turned out to be excellent muffins. I’m excited to use this as a base recipe and play around with the flavors. It’s not an extremely powerful cinnamon flavor either, my brother  isn’t a huge fan of cinnamon and he loved these. If you wanted a more pronounced cinnamon flavor, try adding some powdered cinnamon in with the dry ingredients.

And if anyone has any idea what cinnamon sugar clusters the bakery in Maine used, please let me know!

A Handmade Christmas

26 Dec

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I know I did, I’m still full from all the eating!

This Christmas was really great for me, because this year I had time to make homemade gifts.

For my mom, I knitted her this scarf. I’m not the best knitter, and the only stitch I know is the knit stitch, but it turned out pretty good. It was down to the wire though; I finished it at 3am the day before Christmas Eve!

For my brother, I made homemade marshmallows. A few Christmas’s ago he spotted some “homemade” marshmallows in a Williams-Sonoma catalogue, and he wanted them. Well when I went into the store, they were $16!! For 10 marshmallows! I love Williams-Sonoma, but sometimes the prices are a bit ridiculous! So I found some that were a little cheaper at Crate & Barrel. But this year, I had time to make them myself. They’re strawberry, peppermint, and vanilla flavored. I’m hoping to post the recipe one day soon. The wonders of vegetarian gelatin amaze me! I also made him some hot cocoa mix to go along with them.

For my Dad, I roasted him some cashews. My dad has always been a difficult person to buy for, but he loves cashews. Every year my brother and I would fight over who was going to get him the big jar of roasted nuts. Well my brother has moved on to other gift ideas, and I get to keep the cashews. Instead of buying some, I decided to make them myself. I left some just simply salted, and I put a spice mixture on the rest. The recipe is as follows:

Spicy Roasted Cashews:

2 cups cashews
1 tablespoons salt (You can put more or less, but my father has been dealing with some high sodium intake lately, so I decided to go lightly
1 tablespoon oil (I used olive because I liked the taste, but I’m sure any would work.)

Optional: (For the spicy ones) 1 tablespoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon paprika

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (Less to clean up!)

First, toss the nuts in the olive oil, to gently coat them so the salt and spices will stick. Then add the salt and spices (if using) and spread out onto the baking sheet.


Bake for about 20 minutes. You’ll start to smell the nuts, that’s how I normally know that they are done.  Take them out and let them cool, and munch away!

I also got really cute Chinese takeout containers for them, as well as a tin for my brother’s marshmallows from The Container Store. They have all sorts of containers, it’s a great website to check out!

Later this week I’ll be posting some cookies as well as more cupcakes!

Must Haves For Your Bookshelf

23 Dec

I’d have to say I have at least 100 cookbooks. Brownies, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, breads, vegetarian meals, chocolate, cocktails, and just general baking books. I do have a few favorites however, They are not only staples in my kitchen, but my life as well and I thought I’d share them with you.

The first is a no-brainer, and I’ve mentioned it before in my Strawberry Kiwi Cupcake post. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It’s a great book. I love making cupcakes, and there are so many different recipes in this book to choose from, There’s a cupcake for everyone.

The next one I use not for it’s recipes, but for it’s pictures and decorating ideas. It’s Hello, Cupcake! They can make anything out of cupcakes! I mean, they’ve got the famous painting Starry Night done out of cupcakes. If you like decorating cupcakes, I highly recommend you check out this book!

Moving on from cupcakes, this book is called Booze Cakes. I’ve always been fascinated by the flavors of cocktails and alcohol in baked goods, so when I saw this book I had to get it. The recipes even have little ‘booze meters’ to let you know how much alcohol is in each bite, and it’s a great resource for baking with alcohol. The recipes I’ve made in this book have been delicious (Like rum and coke whoopee pies, pumpkin martini cupcakes, and long island iced tea cake) but most of them don’t taste extremely strong of alcohol. And the recipes are really easy to make dairy free!

This is the last baking book on this post, but It’s a good one, and it will teach you all about the science of baking. It’s called How Baking Works. One of the Food Science professors at Johnson & Wales (Where I went to school) wrote it. It ‘s a great help if you like creating recipes, it lets you know if baking soda or powder is better, and how acids and fats affect a baked good.

This next one is what helped me through my terrible time of giving up dairy. (You can read all about it in the My Diet post.) Go Dairy Free explains the science behind lactose intolerance and milk allergies, and gives great recipes as well. What I loved most about this book was all the dairy substitutes it gave. I never knew you could substitute so many things for butter! It’s also got a great chapter on egg substitutes as well.

Last but not least, I would be nowhere without this book. I don’t know if I would have graduated from college, it’s that important to me. It’s the Flavor Bible. It lists every ingredient under the sun. And then it goes on to tell you every flavor that pairs well with it! It’s a lifesaver if you want to make something extra special.

So there you go!  6 great books that get me though breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, dessert.

Strawberry Kiwi Cupcakes

21 Dec

Did anybody else drink Caprisun drink pouches when they were kids? I was in love with them. Especially the strawberry kiwi flavor. It was the only one I would drink most of the time, and I would go through boxes of the stuff every week!

And with that, began my love affair with everything strawberry kiwi. Any food or drink that had those two flavors in it- I was sure to like.

Over the years however, I stopped drinking juice bags and boxes, and I moved on. It wasn’t until recently that it came back into my world. I was making cupcakes for my mother’s church and when thinking up flavors she suggested making a strawberry kiwi one. I knew I had to try it.

So here it is, the very first recipe on my blog, Strawberry Kiwi Cupcakes. (Kiwi cupcakes with strawberry frosting) I only have a picture of the finished project, In future posts I plan on providing a lot more photos.

For the Kiwi Cupcakes: (Makes 12)

I used the vanilla cupcake receipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and made a few changes. (Do you own this book? I was skeptical about vegan cupcakes at first- I had tried some vegan baking in the past and it didn’t always turn out, but the cupcakes and frostings in this book are better than non-vegan ones!

1 cup soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil.
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 kiwis

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your muffin tins with liners

  1. Mix together the soy milk and vinegar and let sit for a few minutes, allowing it to curdle.
  2. Mix together the flower, cornstarch, powder, soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of your mixer, mix together the oil, sugar and curdled soy milk.
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients, just until everything is combined.
  5. Peel all three kiwis, and smash two of them with a fork, or spin them in a magic bullet or blender for a few seconds.
  6. Dice the third kiwi into small pieces.
  7. Mix both the smooshed kiwi and the diced kiwi into the batter.
  8. Fill cupcake tins ¾ full and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until they spring back when you poke them.

Now for the strawberry frosting. You can check out this link to the Basic Italian Buttercream to make the base frosting recipe. To make it taste like strawberry, you could add strawberry extract, but I prefer to take about a cup of frozen or fresh strawberries and blend them in a magic bullet or blender until there are no more chunks. I then fold this in to my buttercream, reserving a tablespoon or two to drizzle on top.

You’ll probably need to work the strawberry puree into the frosting  a little, at first it will look like it won’t mix together, but get out your whisk and some elbow grease and it’ll be delicious : )

To finish off these cupcakes I dehydrated some kiwi slices and drizzle on some of the leftover strawberry sauce.

Strawberry Kiwi Cupcakes

Basic Italian Buttercream

21 Dec

This buttercream recipe is a staple in my cupcake making adventures. I’m not a huge fan of buttercream, but if I had to choose one type I would defiantly choose this one over the kind with butter, shortening, and confectioners sugar. You really can do soooo much with it!

Unfortunately, the ingredients are listed in ounces, but next time I make this I will convert it to cup measurements.

Ingredients:
2.25 oz hot water
9 oz granulated sugar
3 oz fresh egg whites
10.5 oz butter
Vanilla extract to taste

Some notes about the ingredients:

-Make sure when separating the egg whites you do not get any yolks or any other kind of fat in them and that you are using a clean bowl. These things will prevent the yolks from whipping.
-You butter needs to be very soft before adding it. Not melted though, so please don’t put it in the microwave. Just leave it out for a few hours before using.

Put the hot water and 2/3 of the granulated sugar into a pot. I often add some lemon juice or a tablespoon of corn syrup when cooking sugar. This prevents it from crystallizing. Also make sure that the pot you use is big enough, sometimes sugar boils up. Heat the sugar to 250 degrees F. Before using your thermometer, put it in a glass of ice water. If it doesn’t read 32 degrees- it’s time to get a new one, or if possible, calibrate it. The instructions that came with it should tell you how to calibrate it so it’s working properly.

Once the sugar reaches 230 degrees, this is your cue to start whipping up the egg whites. Once they are frothy, you can slowly start adding the sugar. Make sure to add it very slowly. If you don’t, the meringue won’t be at a full volume.

If your like me and start whipping the whites too soon, don’t fear. Just keep the mixer on low until your sugar is at 250 degrees. Once the sugar is ready, slowly pour it into your mixer, and have it on medium speed. There should be just a thin stream of the sugar drizzling into the whites. Pouring too fast will result in sugar chunks in your frosting. No one wants that! Mix this until the bowl feels room temperature, it will take about 15 minutes

Once the meringue has cooled, add the butter in small pieces. It should be very soft, and incorporate into the mixture well. Once the butter is all in, add the vanilla extract. And voila- you’ve got delicious Italian buttercream!

This is just a base recipe, you can add other extracts, fruit purees, chocolate, and many other things to flavor you icing!

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