I was one of the lucky kids who grew up knowing not only my grandparents but also one set of my great grandparents. My great grandpa died in 1998, 10 days shy of his 108th birthday and my great grandma died in 2002. Both in November. Great Grandpa was the 13th and Great Grandma was the 1st. Some people make fun of me because I remember dates really well and I sometimes really wonder how I do it. But I can remember my great grandpas because of a story. In October of that year he asked my great grandma if November had a Friday the 13th. She told him no, she thought it was Saturday the 13th. Then the week before Friday November 13th, he asked her again if next Friday was the 13th. She said, yes I believe it is. His response was, That’s a good day. He passed away on Friday the 13th.
If there is one thing they tell you to do, it’s try something new. While baking cupcakes isn’t a new concept for me, I’m not so good at it. It’s really always been a bit of a challenge for me, and I’m not really sure why. So when the January/February 2017 Food Network Magazine came out and they had a whole section devoted to cupcakes for each month, I just knew I had to partake… and at least try.
As we know, I messed up the January cupcakes just a bit… but it was more icing related issues than it was cupcake related issues. And the cupcakes themselves were excellent.
When I saw the cupcakes for this month, I was quite excited. While they don’t want them to be for a special occasion but say a random Tuesday, these cupcakes scream Valentine’s Day to me. No, I didn’t make them on Valentine’s Day or even for Valentine’s Day because I was busy getting ready to attend a wedding, but I knew I was going to make them no matter what.
This morning I had a few minutes so I went into the kitchen, gathered up all the ingredients and went about my way making Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes.
One of the ingredients it called for was instant espresso powder. Well, I didn’t have any and didn’t have much luck finding any at the store either, so I used instant coffee instead. Really other than the fact that it isn’t quite as strong of a flavor, they are easily swap-able with each other.
Other than that one swap, I followed the recipe to a T.
This month I was able to measure out the batter into 12 cupcakes compared to last month when I somehow only wound up with 11 cupcakes. So I’m making progress.
The cupcakes called for a glaze over the warm cupcakes of strawberry jam or jelly mixed with lemon juice. I used jelly. I have to point out that between the nice chocolate flavor with the flavor of the icing, I didn’t really taste the strawberry layer. I took my Mother-in-law over a cupcake this morning when I went to check on cows and she too didn’t really taste that strawberry jelly layer.
Unfortunately this isn’t the “right” time of year for strawberries. While I liked them, hubby thought they were a little under-ripe.
When I was making my frosting, or icing if you prefer, my white icing tasted great. The white chocolate melted up nicely, then mixed with the powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla, it turned out to be a very good tasting icing. Not to sweet, but it was sweet enough, and I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate.
Sadly, my chocolate icing on the other hand, when added to the butter, then mixing in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, something happened and it got chunky. I’m not exactly sure what I did incorrectly, but there were those chocolate chunks in my chocolate icing. Whoops. Why does it seem like I keep messing up the icing in these cupcakes?
Then… piping the icing on…. <sigh>. So I prepared my piping bag, it said to use a large circle tip. Well from my years in cake decorating classes, the teacher said to fit with a coupler and just use that. That’s what I proceeded to do… I placed my white icing in one side of the bag and the chocolate in the other just as the directions suggested. That’s when things went down hill fast. I started squeezing out to get both colors. Well this makes just enough icing for all 12 cupcakes.
In the end I was short icing so I had to spread it on with a spatula. So while they weren’t real pretty, they tasted pretty darn good, but hubby didn’t really agree. He wasn’t crazy about the different flavors together… but my mother-in-law on the other hand agreed with me. I’m not sure there needed to be the strawberry layer because it didn’t really shine through, but otherwise, the cupcakes were pretty good. I like the icing too, so I assume this might make a good cake some day…. never know….
Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcakes (via Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2017, pg 59)
- For the Cupcakes
- 1 c flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 3/4 c whole milk
- 1 c sugar
- 3/4 c vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 c strawberry jam/jelly
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- For the Strawberries & Icing:
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 12 medium strawberries
- 2 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temp
- 2 pinches salt, separated
- 2 tsp vanilla, separated
- 2 tbsp whole milk, separated
For the cupcake:
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.
- Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.
- Combine the cocoa powder and espresso powder in a large bowl
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot but not simmering; pour over the cocoa powder mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Let cool a few minutes, then add the granulated sugar and whisk until dissolved.
- Whisk in the vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla, then whisk in the flour mixture until combined.
- Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
- Bake 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when gently pressed.
- While the cupcakes are baking, mix together the strawberry jam/jelly with the lemon juice and brush on the warm cupcakes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the Chocolate covered strawberries
- Microwave 4oz semisweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring, until melted.
- Dip the strawberries in the chocolate; place on wax paper.
- Let set, 20-30 minutes.
For the Icing:
- Microwave the white chocolate and the remaining 2 oz semisweet chocolate in separate bowls, stirring each, until melted.
- Let cool.
- Beat 6 tbsp butter and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth.
- Beat in the melted white chocolate.
- Add 1 c confectioners sugar; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tbsp milk
- Set aside the white chocolate icing
- Repeat steps 3-6 with the semisweet chocolate to make semisweet chocolate icing.
- Spoon the white chocolate icing onto one side of a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Spoon the semisweet chocolate icing next to the white chocolate icing so the two flavors are side by side; pip swirled icing onto the cupcakes.
- Top each with a chocolate-dipped strawberry.
- Enjoy, especially on a random Tuesday.
I really planned on posting these earlier in the week… I mean how can you keep something oh so good a secret? Except this thing called the Plague, or technically a flu or cold bug took my house over and bam, we were all sick. I didn’t even get out of bed on Tuesday. It was that bad.
Years ago my grandma gave me a recipe out of a magazine for Red Lobster Garlic Biscuits. She said that the magazine claimed they were the real thing and by golly, they’re pretty darn good whether they are the real thing or not. And that in my book is a good thing!
So here a couple weeks ago I was perusing the interwebs and found a recipe for Weight Watchers Approved Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Wait, what? Weight Watchers approved? That means they are better for you, right? That’s absolutely what that has to mean 😚.
You bet your bottom dollar I made sure I had everything to make them… and then I made them. Oh wow! I think my life is complete… like seriously! Complete! That’s all. Now that I’ve shared this bit of information with you, run to the store, get the ingredients, make them, claim they are bad, and eat them all for yourself. I didn’t run the points checker, but I found where one website with the exact same recipe claimed 1 point a piece. If that’s the case, just make room for 12 points in your daily point count and you’re set. You can thank me later. (although I’d definitely run the point checker first! Just saying).
2 cups reduced fat Bisquick
3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons diet margarine
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1. Combine the baking mix, milk, and cheddar cheese in a medium bowl.
2. Mix with your hands until completely combined.
3. Form into balls about three tablespoons in size. There is enough for 12 biscuits.
4. Place them a few inches apart on parchment paper or a lightly sprayed baking sheet.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown.
6. While they are in the oven, melt the margarine and mix with garlic powder.
7. Right when the biscuits come out of the oven brush them with melted margarine mixture and then sprinkle the crushed parsley on top. Serve hot.
I’ve been in the mood to make cookies. We’re talking 4 days of wanting to make cookies. I look at the oatmeal and think, I want oatmeal cookies. In fact, to be more specific I wanted the Buncha Crunch Oatmeal Cookies but I didn’t have a bag of Buncha Crunch.
So for a couple days I went back to the drawing board… trying to decide what I could use in place of those… for that light airy feel. Well… sadly I never came up with an option. So then I grabbed my Better Homes and Garden’s book. It had some oatmeal cookies that had chocolate chips in them. I thought, boy those could be good. But then I wanted the mini chocolate chips if I did that.
I went and dug in the freezer for mini chocolate chips and didn’t find any. Bummer again.
Then I grabbed a cookbook I put together with all kinds of recipes in it like 15 years ago or something. Maybe not quite that many… more like in college, so 10 years ago…. And there in all it’s glowing glory, Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. Now I’ll share the recipe with you after all this hype.
Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
- 3/4 c butter
- 1/2 c sifted cocoa
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 c skim milk
- 1 3/4 c flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 c quick-cooking oats
Preheat oven 350˚F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream brown sugar and butter together. Add cocoa, vanilla, and milk. Mix well. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend into butter mixture. Stir in oats.
Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes. Cool and enjoy!
Let’s jump back in time a few weeks, back to our cake decorating day. When I got to Deb’s house, I had already made my chocolate cake I used to decorate, but Deb whipped out a Red velvet cake real quick from a newspaper clipping she had. When Kristi got there, we debated what type to make her so we quickly grabbed Deb’s 1970’s version of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook and had her flip through the different cakes.
Her son wanted to be involved in the cake decorating day too, but she told him it was just for the girls, so she brought a couple smaller pans and asked if we could make him a cake to decorate as well (you know, once she got home). I said absolutely. Well after we made up one batch of cake, we weren’t sure if our layered cake was thick enough, so we doubled the batter.
When we doubled the batter, that gave her the ability to make 3 more small loaf pans, because we didn’t need it all for just 2 layers of cake.
Kristi’s dad was having an 80th birthday celebration the next day. We used 9″ square pans to bake the cake in. Then I showed her different ways to decorate the cake. I also showed her how to make icing roses. I made 2 and she made 2. Now, if you’ll notice there are only 2 total on the cake. Well… that’s the mystery of the whole thing… One of mine I scrapped back in the bowl because it wasn’t very good. That would mean there are 3, right? Well… we never did find the third rose.
the cake… the cake was awesome though!!!
Bonnie Butter Cake
2/3 c butter (or margarine, softened)
1 3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups cake flour (or 2 3/4 c ap flour)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 c milk
Heat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour baking pan, set aside. In large mixer bowl, mix butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy.Beat 5 minutes on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl with a whisk. On low speed, mix in flour mixture and milk alternatively. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake oblong pan 45-50 minutes or layers 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Ice cake (as in frost).
It recommends frosting cake with a French Silk Frosting or a Lemon Frosting. Instead we used a buttercream icing that is good for decorating and since we did a layer cake, we placed strawberry preserves between the layers for an added, extra special touch.
Yesterday hopefully I changed your life with a “diet” cake. Seriously… a cake mix and a diet coke. That can’t be real bad. A few sugars/carbs scattered throughout all the pieces of cake so it’s not even one slice. Just think of that.
But I mentioned that when I heard about that, I wasn’t sure how to ice that baby so we made full-fledged sugar icing. Still better because of the cake but……..
The other day I was searching the internet. I have no idea how I came upon this recipe, but it changed my life for the better. And seriously, you could eat it just plain, I’m telling you.
Ingredients: Milk (I chose skim, but you can do unsweetened almond milk and remove even more sugars although the skim milk doesn’t have many sugars at all…..), Sugar free coolwhip, and sugar free pudding mix (I went with cheesecake so this stuff tasted just like cream cheese icing, only better).
Then you’ll need a bowl to mix in, a whisk, and a spatula (if you pronounce like Paula Deen, Spatuler)
Add half the milk you’d normally add to the pudding. So the pudding calls for 2 cups, you just put 1 cup in. Then use your whisk and whisk together. When it gets thick, fold in the coolwhip.
And bam, 3-ingredient icing. Then add it to your cake… or you know, eat it out of the bowl. No judgement here! And for the 9×13 cake I made yesterday, I didn’t even use all of the icing… see the skim milk sugars spread even thinner.
Now this isn’t decorator’s icing, but for just icing a cake… heck yeah. You subtract out all of the sugars and remember that all the calories stay in the piece you don’t eat and you’re golden! I’m telling you!
You just never know what we’ll be doing on Wednesdays. I typically spend my Wednesday’s at the Extreme Sports Scuba dive shop. Today happens to be Wednesday so you know where I am, right? Well what am I doing you may ask?
- I wrote a blog post about a SCUBAPRO Nova 720 Flashlight with as many puns as I could about flashlights, ✓.
- I ate lunch, ✓.
- Oh and I made a diabetic friendly cake with icing, ✓.
Are you confused? Don’t be, I’ll explain. A few years ago, like 10, someone told me about a cake to try. I laughed when they told me what the cake consisted of… A Chocolate Cake mix and a can of diet coke.
You’ve got to be kidding me, right? No siree Bob, I’m serious as a heart attack. btw, I wonder where that phrase came from… really both of them… No siree Bob and serious as a heart attack. Another pondering for another day. Back to the cake…
I called my grandma up and asked her if she believed it. She said, well I have the stuff, let’s try it so I went to her house and guess what… it worked and it was really good. Now at the time I was told that was a weight watchers friendly recipe. A way to have your cake and eat it too for few points.
|We were being impatient waiting for the cake to cool to ice it… therefore we inverted it, on a little to small of plate, and then stuck it in the freezer. It worked and tasted even better!!|
I’m not sure how many because that was 10 years ago and I wasn’t doing weight watchers. The thing was, how do you ice it? The only icing recipe my grandma knew had a bunch of sugar in it, therefore… you may forgo the calories/fat/points/etc on the cake but you made up for them in the icing.
10 years and I never came up with an icing recipe. But don’t you worry, I did the other day. This recipe is awesome. You’re welcome. Make sure you make a chocolate cake so you’re ready to go for this icing recipe! It’s a good one! The “diet” Icing Recipe!!
And I definitely want to say, don’t discount this cake because of the diet coke. Some people might. Don’t!!
A few weeks ago we actually had snow… can you believe it? Snow. Last week we had an ice warning and a couple weeks before that we actually had snow. Okay okay so it was a light dusting, but still…. We had snow. I think we had one snow day last winter too. So far this winter, I think I’ve warn my heavy coat twice maybe. Once was in Texas and the other was up in Kansas City. Not even around here, granted we’re only 2 1/2 hours south of Kansas City. And I just got a new heavy coat for Christmas. Anyway, I have it so I’ll be ready!
That morning when I woke up, I was in the mood to bake. I had a bunch of bananas that needed to be used for banana bread or cake or muffins or something of the sort.
When my parents went to Hawaii they brought back a banana bread mix. Now I never had enough bananas for the mix because usually I had 1-2 and this called for 5 but this day I actually had enough.
I even followed directions and mashed the bananas before adding to the mix. Usually when I make banana bread and it says to mash them in a separate bowl, I usually just peel and mash in my hand as I’m adding to the banana bread mixture. Yup, that’s me. I follow directions real well sometimes. ha! Hey, they get mashed I just don’t dirty up a bowl that way. All I have to do usually is wash my hands. But this particular day I was feeling real rebellious and mashed them in a bowl. Look at me go.
Now it called for 4 mini loaf pans but I don’t think I own mini loaf pans so I made 2 regular sized pans and just separated between the two. I had to bake a little longer but it worked out perfectly!
And this stuff was friggin awesome. Now I want to know how they made it. It was strange all I added were the bananas and some melted butter. No eggs… wonder if they used meringue powder in it? Who knows… all I know is YUM!
Have you ever had chocolate covered strawberries? OMG, they are awesome. Obviously that’s just my opinion but my opinion counts so it’s all good.
When my mom was pregnant with me, I guess she craved strawberries. There were 3 stores in town and every night she’d go to a different one, buy a quart of strawberries and a tub of coolwhip and eat them all that night. That might be why I like strawberries?
Now chocolate, I’m kind of a take it or leave it type. Yes, it’s okay and sometimes even good, but I’m a savory over sweets person. When it comes to chocolate, I really prefer the dark chocolate over milk chocolate which is totally different than pretty much everyone else in my family.
Over the weekend though, I got to eat some chocolate covered strawberries. We had chocolate (although I think it might have been dark chocolate) and white chocolate. I can tell you I prefer the chocolate covered over the white chocolate covered. The white chocolate covered are a little too sweet for me, but maybe that’s because I prefer savory…? But don’t get me wrong, they are both awesome. And so easy to make!!
Basically, melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler works too. Dip the strawberries in the chocolate of your choosing. Then pour some of the melted chocolate of the other flavor into a piping bag, cut a small snip off the tip and drizzle with the chocolate. Let them cool on wax paper. Eat and enjoy! See, simple as that!
Now with Valentine’s Day coming up, go make your lover some chocolate covered strawberries. They’ll thank you (and maybe me 😂) for them.
There is one magazine I love to get and that’s Food Network. I really credit Food Network for my love of cooking. Truthfully it was my grandma’s (both of them), but when I went to college I kind of lost that until I stumbled across Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals show… I then somehow became hooked again. So the re-found my love my grandmothers instilled in me.
I used to get the magazine, long ago before I went to grad school. Then grad school came and I didn’t have time to read anything other than school books, but now I’m back to reading Food Network Magazine. My first issue was the January/February 2017 issue. I read the editor’s note and she mentioned that they came up with a cupcake for any reason for every month of the year. I decided right then I needed to partake and try them all. Some sound better than others, but still… I need to try them, right? Something to do anyway.
January’s cupcake is the Champagne-Vanilla Cupcake. Yes please.
The first thing I was supposed to do was pour the Champagne (or in this case sparking white wine) into a bowl and whisk until the bubbles dissipate. ✓
When I moved I misplaced my vanilla beans. I needed 1 vanilla bean for this recipe though so I stole one out of my homemade vanilla. It worked great!
As I was walking around the kitchen working on the different pieces, hubby placed the cork back on the wine and the next thing we knew, the cork went flying and wound up in the glass sitting next to the bottle.
Combine the flour with the baking powder and salt.
Then I needed an egg yolk. I was proud of myself for not making a mess separating the egg.
The cupcakes were supposed to make 12 2/3cups… I wound up with 11. I must have filled them up a bit much… that and we learned with my fried pies that I’m not so good at the math apparently. Don’t worry, I am good at math but who knows what happens.
While the cupcakes were baking, it was time to make the custard for the whipped cream topping.
It said cook until it was thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. I don’t think this qualifies as coating the back of the spoon, but by the time I got to this point, I was so tired I didn’t care and called it good.
I have to say, the cupcakes themselves were better without the frosting. The cupcakes had excellent flavor!!
There was a lot of chilling in making the frosting. Chill this, chill that, mix this, mix that. I’m really not sure I did the frosting correctly…. especially if you see my iced cupcakes.
Mine definitely weren’t picture perfect like the ones in the magazine. My icing was extremely lumpy. Somewhere I messed up.
These cupcakes were excellent. I wasn’t as crazy about the frosting. They were a labor of love… you wouldn’t be making these quickly, but sometimes that’s what makes the best cupcakes… labor of love.
For the cupcakes:
1 half-bottle (375 ml) champagne or other sparkling wine (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped (pod reserved for the frosting)
1 large egg, separated
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
Sugar pearls, for decorating
Add Checked Items To Grocery List
Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners. Pour the champagne into a bowl and whisk until the bubbles dissipate. Combine 1/2 cup of the champagne and the vanilla extract in a small bowl. Set aside the remaining champagne for the frosting.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the champagne-vanilla mixture in two batches, until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff peaks form, then gently fold into the batter with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds of the way. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting: Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved champagne in a small bowl; sprinkle the gelatin on top and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar, salt and egg yolks in a small saucepan until smooth. Whisk in the remaining champagne (about 1 cup) and add the vanilla pod. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the hot custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large metal bowl; discard the vanilla pod. Add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate the custard, stirring every 5 minutes, until it is the consistency of soft whipped cream, 10 to 20 minutes.
Beat the heavy cream in a medium bowl with a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Add the whipped cream to the custard and gently whisk until combined. Refrigerate the frosting, gently folding with a rubber spatula every 5 minutes, until thick enough to pipe, 10 to 20 minutes.
Working quickly, transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe onto the cupcakes. Decorate with sugar pearls. Refrigerate immediately to set the frosting, at least 30 minutes.