Red Velvet Cupcakes

This Easter I was given dessert duty. My Grandmother usually does dessert, and those are some pretty big shoes to fill. Slightly daunted, I adapted a red velvet cupcake recipe from Pinch My Salt. My family is obsessed with mini cupcakes, so I made them tiny. They turned out really well!

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I piped them like roses

Ingredients:
2 1/2 c. Cake Flour, Sifted
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 oz. Red Food Coloring (One Bottle)
1/2 c. Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 1/2 c. Sugar
2 Eggs, Room Temp.
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 c. Buttermilk, Room Temp.
1 Tsp White Vinegar
1 Tsp Baking Soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Make sure you have a rack in the middle of the oven. (They’re a lot easier to move BEFORE they get hot) Line the pan with cupcake papers or spray with cooking spray.
2. Sift the cake flour before measuring. Then sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Mix the food coloring and cocoa powder until it forms a thin paste without lumps. Set this aside.
4. In a small bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla and red cocoa paste. Don’t forget to scrape down the bowl as you go. Add 1/3 of the flour mix, beat well. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk. Then add another 1/3 of the flour mix, beat well. Add the rest of the buttermilk. Finally, add the rest of the flour and beat until it’s well combined.
5. Mix the vinegar and baking soda in it’s own bowl. Don’t sniff it. It’s gross, trust me. It will also be fizzy. Add it to the batter and stir well to make sure it’s mixed in.
6. Fill the muffin tins! You should fill them up about 2/3 or 3/4 full. This way you have pretty cupcakes, not bloated cupcakes that overflow and form one giant cupcake on your tin. (Hey, it can happen)
7. Place the tins on the middle rack. Bake for about 20 mins if you’re making full sized muffins (10-15 if you’re making mini’s). Rotate the pans halfway through. Check your cupycakes with a toothpick (or a fork). They will be done when the pick/fork comes out clean. (I.E. not sticky or covered with cake batter). Check early and often. Nobody wants rock hard cupcakes.
8. Cool the cupcakes for 10 mins and then remove them from the tins.

NEVER ICE A HOT CUPCAKE. They will turn into melted goodness messes.

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Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. Cream Cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract (A clear one! Unless you want tan icing which is fine, I guess)
2 1/2 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted
Pinch of Salt

1. Blend cream cheese and butter until smooth.
2. Add the powdered sugar in thirds at low speed (Unless you want a sugar volcano). Add the salt and vanilla extract.
3. Turn the mixer on high and beat till fluffy!

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If you like your Frosting stiffer/sweeter you can add more powdered sugar.
If you’re going to save the icing and ice your cupcakes later, remember to let the frosting soften after it’s been in the refrigerator and then beat it with the mixer to smooth it out.

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Cupcakes Everywhere

Since I made them for Easter, I decorated them with these adorable bunnies my sister got me.

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Super cute. She got them at Walmart! They were a big hit at Easter!

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Roasting Garlic

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Is there anything better than roasted garlic? I’m not sure. Lucky for ya’ll, it’s super easy. Now I saw this tutorial over at The Hungry Mouse and knew that I must, right away, try it! (After I finished perusing the blog; it’s awesome! The blog is very descriptive and full of wonderful ideas!) So you’re asking yourself, what should I do with this roasted garlic? Eat it on bread, make it into compound butter, or use it to add a mild garlic flavor to almost any recipe.

So purple garlic is what most people use when roasting, since it’s sweeter. But since I had normal white garlic, that’s what I used.

So first you need to cut the garlic so you can get it out when it’s done roasting. You want to cut off about half an inch.

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Save the heads of the garlic too! But be careful, they’re small and will burn more easily. As you can see in my picture. My tips got a little golden brown and were more like fried huncks of garlic. (Don’t worry, they were still delicious.)

Now put all this garlic in a pan! And drizzle them with olive oil. Make sure you pour the oil over the tops of the garlic bunches. You really want them coated with oil. This oil will be garlic infused, so if you want to add some extra oil, go for it! Garlic infused oil is great for any dish that uses olive oil. This could be salad dressing, a pasta dish, or my favorite, dipping oil for your bread.

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Set your oven to 350 deg. F. Cover your baking dish with aluminum foil. This will help with the roasting process. Roast them for about 30-45 mins, but make sure to check them at  about 25 mins.

They will be done when light brown in color and soft. You will be able to stab it easily with a fork and mash it with no effort.

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Now pop those suckers out of their casings. You can do this with a paring knife or just gently squeeze the bottom of the garlic bunch till the pop out.

The garlic can now be used for whatever you planned to do with it. I made it into compound butter, which was a big hit at Easter!

The hard crunchies will not be mush-able. However, have you ever had Carino’s bread dipping oil? You know those hard and crunchy things in the oil? That would be dark golden brown fried goodness you get if you overcook the tops of your garlic. I threw mine in with the garlic infused olive oil.

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Be super careful when you take the oil out of the baking dish. Hot oil looks like cold oil! Put a strainer over a bowl so you don’t end up with the garlic casings in your oil. Gently push the casings so get all the yummy goodness.

You now have roasted garlic and garlic infused olive oil. Try it! You’ll be glad you did.

Easter!

I love baking for holidays. There are so many cute ways and ideas. I also hate baking for holidays. It’s stressful. You have so many people’s likes and dislikes to consider. If I’m just trying a recipe it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t work out (besides my wasted time and energy and love). But when it’s for family, It has to be perfect. I didn’t sleep much the night before Easter. I tried 3 recipes that failed, before finally getting two good cupcakes. One is Red Velvet, the other is Vanilla with Chocolate Icing.

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I’m really proud of how adorable they look.

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My little sister

The whole family was involved. My sister was a big help with the cupcakes.

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My mom helped with the Broccoli and Rice Casserole. While not my favorite dish, it’s a family favorite.

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Even Coal got involved! (He really wasn’t much of a help, but he tries)

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Coal

I also made some Compound Butter. I really hadn’t meant for them to be for Easter. They were just something I had been wanting to make, however they were probably the star of Easter.  I made them from Homemade Butter. They were amazing.

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Blackberry Icing

I had this lemon pound cake just sitting around my house, left over from my baking finals. My mom says to me, “Elise, you know we won’t eat it without icing.” So I made this simple, yet delicious, icing.

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All you need is powdered sugar, some lemon juice, and Blackberries!

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I used about 1/2 c. of powdered sugar, a 1/2 tsp of lemon juice, and a bunch of blackberries. I crushed the blackberries to extract their juice. I just kept crushing blackberries until it reached that silky, smooth icing constancy. It will dry hardish. Think sugar cookie icing.

It wasn’t a lot of icing, but it was enough for my cake.

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“Just a little closer, and It’ll be mine!”

To ice the cake, simply pour the icing on top of the cake. Now be prepared for the icing to run off the cake! I used a cooking cooling rack and a sheet pan as my easy clean up, setup.

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There it is. Easy as cake!

Butternut Squash Muffins

I saw this recipe over at Tartlet Sweets and knew I had to try it. I’ve been on a squash kick lately and muffins are always a hit in my family.

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Ingredients:
-Butternut Squash
Streusel
-100 g (1/2 c.) Granulated Sugar
-45 g (1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp.) All Purpose Flour
-42 g (3 Tbsp.) Cold Butter
Muffins
-250 g (2 c.) All Purpose Flour
-1 Tsp Baking Soda
-1 Tsp Baking Powder
-1 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
-1 Tsp. Ground Cloves
-1/2 Tsp. Ground Ginger
-1/4 Tsp. Ground Cardamom (I omitted this seeing as I didn’t have any)
-1/2 Tsp. Salt
-370 g (1 1/2 c.) Butternut Squash Puree (This is made from the Butternut Squash)
-60 ml (1/4 c.) Vegetable Oil
-108 g (1/2 c.) Packed Brown Sugar
-100 g (1/2 c.) Granulated Sugar
-2 eggs
-1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

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Butternut Squash

That my friends is a butternut squash.

To Make the Squash Puree:
1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Cut the butternut squash in half, remove seeds. Place the halves cut side up on the cookie sheet.
3. Cook till fork tender (about 30 mins) You should be able to easily stick the fork in the meat of the squash.
4. Let cool. Remove the meat from the skin. Puree the squash in a blender.

Squash Puree

Squash Puree

Streusel:
1. Whisk together sugar and flour. Work in the butter until the mix looks like, well streusel. (It should be like kosher salt.)

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Streusel

Muffins!
1. Reduce oven heat to 350 deg. F.
2. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Mix together (in a mixer) the squash puree, oil, and sugars. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla a beat for a few seconds.
3. Add the dry ingredients until combined.
4. Add dough to the muffin tins about 2/3 of the way up. Completely cover the top of the muffins with streusel.
5. Bake for 20-25 mins.

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Yummy, Yummy Dough

All done!

All done!

Homemade Butter

Homemade butter? Why would anyone want to this. Well let me tell you friend. It’s delicious. You also can control exactly what you put into it. It’s also really really really easy. You can even use it to make Compound Butter.

What you need:
-Heavy Cream
-Salt (optional)

What you do:
Put the heavy cream in a mixer and mix. It’s a good idea to cover the bowl because as the liquid and solids begin to separate it might splash.

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This is what happens when you’re cover pops off.

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Here’s what the butter will look like. Now you need to remove excess liquid from the butter. I saw a lot of recipes with lots of ways to do this, but I thought it would be easiest to put it in a bag and cut a small hole in in. A really small hole! Pin prick sized. If you make too big a hole, the butter will come out.

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Squeeze and squish the butter to get all the liquid out. (You can save this liquid as it is buttermilk)

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And Ta Da! You have homemade butter! Now homemade butter will only store for about 2 weeks. Make sure to wrap it tightly as it absorbs flavors really well.

American Regional Final

We were given the option of 3 menus that we would draw from and cook. Each menu had one item we had never made before.

My menu was:
-Poblano and Potato Soup
-Mesclun Salad with Cranberries and Apples
-Tandoori Chicken (This was the item we had never made before)
-Rice Pilaf
-Sauteed Green Beans
-Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

We were partnered with people we had never worked with either. My partner was really nice and we worked really well together.  We got a 98! We were also the second team finished.

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The Final Line Up

 

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Poblano and Potato Soup

I mentioned before that I adore this soup. The only problem we had was the soup was a little to thick and it was under seasoned.

Mesclun Salad with Cranberries and Apples

Mesclun Salad with Cranberries and Apples

This salad is one of my favorites. I love the dressing paired with the apples. The only problem with it was the knife skills.

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Tandoori Chicken with Rice Pilaf and Sauteed Green Beans

Chef said that normally students mess up the Tandoori sauce by over-reducing it. We didn’t though! The rice pilaf and green beans were perfect.

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

I made a special whipped cream to go with the cobbler. It was loaded with Brandy. The cobbler was amazing. 

We also had to do knife skills. My knife skills suck. Really really suck. I use my knife to cut butter, that’s really it.

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So here is my tray. I got an 85. Which isn’t terrible, but I did better in the past. I had some issues withe potatoes (both the tourne and the allumete) I also didn’t mince the garlic enough.