Friday, August 27, 2010

Puffy Baby Quilt

I found this tutorial on how to make a puffy baby quilt on the Honeybear Lane blog and I knew I had to at least attempt this project. It looked like tons of fun and I figured it would make an excellent present for the baby in miss Amy's belly. So I headed to the fabric store and immediately bought some purple, yellow, and brown fabrics to make the pieces to the quilt. Luckily, I found out the next day that Amy was having a girl, phew! If you want to make a puffy quilt for yourself or someone special the tutorial can be found at these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Here are my puffs pre-assembly:

And here are some finished product pictures:

I know baby Evan already likes his sister's blanket, so hopefully she will love it as well! Guess we'll find out December-ish?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mud Hen Bars

So, I've been experimenting with the recipe to-try pile and I came across these mud hen bars, which I had never heard anything about. Apparently it's a blondie bottom with goodies int he middle, and a meringue top. The ones I tried were peanut butter flavored so the blondie bottom was a peanut butter blondie, the center consisted of semisweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, and the top was a brown sugar meringue. Here are some pictures of the finish product fresh out of the oven:

I must say, i think the meringue makes these obscenely sweet. If you have a fierce sweet tooth, these are for you! I would have preferred just the blondie bottom with perhaps the goodies mixed into the batter. Here is the recipe if you would like to experiment as well:

Peanut Butter Mud Hens (from Cookie Madness)

1/4c butter, softened
1/4c creamy peanut butter
1/4c sugar
3T + 1/2c brown sugar
1/4t vanilla
1 lg egg, divided
1/2c flour
1/4c chopped peanuts (I skipped these)
1/2c semisweet chocolate chips (I used my new Guittard chips!!!)
1/2c peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Beat together butter, peanut butter, sugar, 3T brown sugar, vanilla, and egg yolk. Add flour until just mixed. Stir in peanuts. Spread batter across bottom of grease 8" square pan.
Sprinkle chocolate chips and peanut butter chips evenly over batter.
Beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Bean in 1/2c brown sugar. Spread egg white mixture over chips and batter. Bake 25 minutes or until meringue is brown. Cool on wire rack for a few hours.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


My favorite season is easily Fall. With fall comes the leaves turning into a technicolor living masterpiece, the weather getting cool enough for jeans and maybe a sweatshirt but not yet singing your extremities with cold, and most importantly everything is pumpkin flavored. I looooooove pumpkin. I decided to get a jump start on the pumpkin and hope that maybe the Texas weather would follow my lead (fingers crossed!) My good friend Anders is leaving us for cooler weather and greener pastures in Seattle. So, since he will miss my fall baking this year, I baked chocolate pumpkin cupcakes for his going away party this past Saturday. They were pretty delicious but I think just full on pumpkin cupcakes with the chocolate chips would have been tastier (but then I'm a pumpkin-aholic). Here's a pic of one of these beauties:

I also made chocolate chunker cookies that I read about on The Cookie Scoop, but i forgot to take pictures of those. They were practically gone by the time I left the party, so I guess they were delicious. I'll post the recipe for these as well in case you want to try without first seeing pictures, be daring!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes (from The Cupcake Project)

1 1/2 c flour
1t cinnamon
2t pumpkin pie spice
1t baking soda
1/2t salt
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4c pumpkin puree (stock up now, it's already hard to find!)
2 lg eggs
1/2c vegetable oil
1/2c orange juice
4oz bittersweet chocolate, melted (I used 70% cocoa Ghirardelli)
1 1/4 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat to 350F

Whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Mix in the oil, orange juice, and melted chocolate. Slowly add the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. fill cupcake foils 3/4 full, bake for 20-25 minutes.

Spiced Cream Cheese Icing

1 (8oz) brick cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1t vanilla
1T pumpkin pie spice
powdered sugar to preferred consistency

Beak cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice to taste. Add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.

Chocolate Chunker Cookies (from The Cookie Scoop)

1/3c flour
1/4c cooca
1/2t salt
1/4t baking powder
3T unsalted butter
6oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% cocoa Ghirardelli)
1oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I skipped this)
2 lg eggs
2/3c sugar
1t vanilla
6oz semisweet chocolate chips
6oz white chocolate chips
anything else you wanna throw in, nuts, raisins, etc

Preheat to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder.
Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate, stirring frequently. In large bowl beat eggs and sugar on high speed until they are pale and foamy. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, add melted chocolate/butter mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the mixture is homogeneous. On low speed mix in the dry ingredients. Dough should be thick and shiny. Stir in your chocolate chips and any other add-ins. Drop generous tablespoons onto baking sheet, about 1" apart. Bake 10-13 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Super Bored= Cooking Yummy Meals

Lately I've been pretty bored without a whole lot of soccer and no more roomie (seriously, what do you all who live alone do with your time?!?!), I've been spending a lot of time going through my 'recipes to try' pile. Last week I made some delicious summer pasta. It was suuuper delicious and lasted forever (love leftovers!). Here is a pic of the delicious dinner I enjoyed all last week:

I also finally tried the recipe I had for, quite possible, my favorite dessert from a restaurant: the Applebee's blondie. Now, I'm not really a fan of Applebee's food, but the blondie they serve sizzling on a cast-iron skillet has been quite possibly the best dessert I've ever eaten in a restaurant. Here is a naked blondie:

And here is the blondie with the delicious sauce and Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla ice cream:

Sooooo delicious, it was exactly as I remember it, such a great recipe find!

Summer Pasta

4 medium ripe tomatoes
1/4c thinly diced red onion
1T balsamic vinegar
6T extra virgin olive oil
1/4c chopped fresh basil
s&p freshly ground
1 lb curly pasta (I used girelle)
1pkg mozzarella pearls (or chopped ball of fresh mozzarella)

Chop tomatoes, red onion, and basil. Throw into a large bowl with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and s&p. allow to marinate at room temperature for about an hour.

Add the mozzarella to the bowl. Cook the pasta according to the package. Drain pasta fully and add to bowl. Toss pasta until it is entirely covered. Serve!

Applebee's Blondie Dessert

1c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/8 t baking soda
1/8 t salt
1/2c chopped walnuts
1/3c butter
1c packed light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 T vanilla
1/2c white chocolate chips
3/8c maple syrup
1/4c butter
3/8c brown sugar
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat to 325F

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add chopped nuts, mix well.

Melt butter, add brown sugar and mix well in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla, mix until completely incorporated. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well. Stir in white chocolate chips. Spread into an 8" square pan. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Combine syrup and butter, cook over low heat until butter is melted. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat and beat in the cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Heat until desired consistency is achieved.

Serve blondies with sauce and ice cream. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Soccer Baby Booties

Remember baby Hannah for whom I made the pink tag elephant? Well, her mom emailed me the other day to ask if I could make some baby soccer booties for her because the Sambas they have won't be fitting her for awhile. I am, of course, always happy to promote soccer at a young age so I was excited to start this project. I decided to make them similar to actual Sambas but without the trademarked adidas 3 stripes. Here are some pictures of the final product:

They are up on my Etsy store if you fancy a pair for your nugget!

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Recently a Sprinkles Cupcakes opened in Houston and I finally made it into the city to give them a try this past weekend. I waited in a bit of a line because the actual shop is teeny tiny.

Once my turn was up I ordered key lime, chocolate marshmallow, peanut butter chocolate, and red velvet.

I also ordered a doggie cupcake for Baloo. Generally when I try cupcakes I am comparing them to my own recipes and deciding if they're worth paying for in comparison to my homemade version. Here I was also comparing them to my Houston favorite, Crave Cupcakes which was only a few miles away from the Sprinkles location. My first cupcake was the peanut butter chocolate.

This is easily one of my favorite flavor combos so I was excited to try this one first. It definitely didn't disappoint. Peanut butter tends to make everything really dry, but the peanut butter cake was amazingly moist and the chocolate chips were well distributed. The milk chocolate icing was just enough more chocolate to make the cupcake perfect. I could have done without the chocolate sprinkles, but the place is called Sprinkles so I guess they're a necessity.

Later that day and the following day I proceeded to eat the 3 remaining cupcakes. They were a slight disappointment after the amazingness of the peanut butter chocolate. The key lime was lacking flavor, the red velvet was a bit dry, and the chocolate marshmallow was essentially a hostess cake. Baloo did enjoy his doggie cupcake from what I could tell (he inhaled it).

Over all I would give them a 7 mostly because they offered doggie cupcakes and everyone knows I'm a sucker for spoiling my dog and because the peanut butter chocolate was so amazing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Guittard Chocolates

All of my favorite baking bloggers preach the amazingness of the Guittard chocolates. I've never been able to find it at the groceries near me, but I happened to stop at H.E.B. after work on Friday since it was on the way to Jo-Anna and I saw the chocolates in the baking aisle. So I snagged some white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I can't wait to find some great treats with these goodies. Stay tuned!

Mod Vintage Lavender booties

I've been cruising ModCloth a lot lately in search of dresses for various happenings and I think all the modern/ vintage styles are seeping into my brain because I made these super cute mod vintage lavender booties the other day:

They are made from a cotton fabric with a geometric print and spiced up with a little lace and bobble detailing. They're now available on my Etsy store (yes I still have one I've just been neglecting it lately). Let me know what you think!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Straight Up Chocolaty Goodness Brownies

I wanted to bake something Sunday night without having to make a trip to the grocery (it was raining and I was lazy). So, I perused my ever expanding binder of recipes I want to try and found one from an old Martha Stewart Living for 'Double-Chocolate Brownies'. They seemed easy enough and I've still not found an acceptable substitute for boxed mix brownies so I decided to give this recipe a try. In the past I have found that from scratch brownies I've tried were either too grainy (from soo much sugar), too cakey (probably too many eggs), or too crunchy (too much crust on the top). This recipe turned out excellent! I switched out the regular cocoa for Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa (as always) and I think it made it even more chocolaty. Here's a couple pics I've managed to snap in between scarfing the brownies:


1 stick unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2c sugar
3 lg eggs
1/4c unsweetened special dark cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/2c + 2T flour

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 8x8in square pan. Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time until combined. Whisk in cocoa and salt. Fold in flour until just combined. Pour batter into pan. Bake about 35-40 minutes. Let cool. Or, let cool slightly and then serve warm with ice cream, yum! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

San Antonio

One last Texas city trip before Christine leaves! This past weekend Christine and I went to San Antonio for the first time and saw all the sights. We stayed about a block from the riverwalk in a great hotel called the O'Brien Historic riverwalk Hotel. We first went to see the Alamo and walk around the little park they had created there. It was so packed that we didn't go inside the museum but we did get a couple of pictures outside:

Then we explored the riverwalk and eyed up some places for dinner etc.

After showering and a mini nap we headed back out to the riverwalk for a wine tasting at A Taste of Texas Wine and dinner at Paesanos Ristorante. We had originally wanted to do a food and wine tour of the city but this weekend was one of the few on which the tour was not running. We ended up having a great time at the wine tasting and convinced our bartender to drink with us. Here are the 5 Texas wines we tasted for only $3!!!

After a few more drinks we called it a night and headed back to the hotel. In the morning we were greeted with a continental breakfast featuring Texas-shaped waffles! So fun!

We were able to go to mass at the San Fernando Cathedral on Sunday and the church was really pretty. It is the oldest standing church building in Texas. Unfortunately, the only English mass of the morning was full of hymns and readings in Spanish, so that was pretty disappointing. After one last cruise of the riverwalk and picking up some candy apples, we headed back to Houston. It was a great trip, but I'm feeling pretty sad because it was Christine's last weekend in Texas before moving to Washington and starting her life with Ben. I get to see her again in a month for her wedding so that's something to look forward to :) Good luck in Washington, Christine, hope you enjoyed your stay in Texas!

Violet Velvet Cookies

Everyone knows that red velvet cake is a staple and favorite of the South. I personally love red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing all year round and the mention of red velvet always brings to mind the Steel Magnolias groomsman cake. I stumbled upon an interesting variation to this Southern classic the other day and I had to try them immediately. They were red velvet cookies with black and white icing. I wanted them to be more like their cake name-sake and switched the icing to cream cheese. After I started mixing I realized I didn't have any red food coloring due to so many previous batched of red velvet cupcakes and I substituted with violet food coloring. And voila, violet velvet cookies with cream cheese icing:

As expected, they were delicious and I pretty much inhaled them.

Violet Velvet Cookies:

1 1/4c flour
1 T dark cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
5 T butter, room temp
3/4c sugar
1 lg egg
1 T violet food coloring
1 t vanilla
1/2c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, food coloring, and vanilla. Add in flour and buttermilk alternating until smooth and fully Incorporated. Place 1/4c scoops 2 in apart on baking sheet. Spread the batter out slightly until somewhat flat. Bake about 12-15 minutes. Let cookies sit 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool.

Cream Cheese Icing

1 (8oz) brick cream cheese, room temp
1 t vanilla
~5c powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Ass vanilla and powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Spread icing on cooled cookies. Enjoy!