Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh my goodness, Gina's Engaged!

Little Ginabina is engaged! John proposed last weekend when we were in Florida so we all got to be a part of the fun!
Since we knew that the engagement was happening, the fam decided to throw a little party. No party is complete without cupcakes!
Tiffany blue cupcakes with engagement rings.
They were delicious. I made a Chocolate cream cheese buttercream frosting that was to die for.
Yay for engagements and cupcakes!
Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
-1/2 cup butter, room temperature
-8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 lb powder sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-1-3 T milk (didn't use any milk because I wanted a stiffer consistency to pipe the frosting)

Blend butter and cream cheese together. Add cocoa powder and vanilla. Slowly add sugar. Add milk to reach desired consistency.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"I love mangoes and I know you will too!"

Dear Loyal Blog Readers,

I really have nothing to blog about. I have not cooked anything worth blogging in a while. I could waste your time and mine by posting a picture of the sandwiches that we had for dinner...but I won't do that. Okay, yes I will.
My plate is the bottom one, the one that looks like a complete meal. But don't feel bad for Bradley, I recognized his pathetic attempt at a sandwich dinner and handed him the bag of potato chips and he was fine. I probably shouldn't have wasted your time with this picture, but, you see, I had to. In my early stages of researching blogging, I found out that pictures is what keeps the reader reading. Right about now you are thinking of clicking out of this blog and facebooking or doing whatever else you would be doing instead of reading this post...
See! You are still here! It worked. Score.
Mango is so delicious. Do you know how to cut a mango? Evidently I have no idea, I made a big, drippy mess but it was soo good! And yes, I did get in trouble for having the mango so close to the computer.

Let's see what the author of The Great Mango Book has to say about cutting a mango.



The music is mesmerizing...

Well, anyway, thanks for reading (to those who actually made it here). Love you more than ice cream!


-Francesca

P.S. The title of the post came from the very end of the video, in case you didn't make it that far. : )

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello Cupcake

May is here...and what does that mean? Summer, lots of packing, moving (wow, less than three weeks now), tan-ness (hopefully a result of the move), and goodbyes. Single tear...well probably a whole lot of them. Speaking of goodbyes, May means graduation! (except in my case where I graduated from college in December, but that's a long story. Well actually not too long, I transfered and couldn't make up the time, oh and a few major changes :)

Anyway, my cousin-in-law (?) and sis-in-law graduate from high school! Well graduations also mean parties! My favorite! What should I bring to this graduation party? CUPCAKES! Woot!


Lots and lots of cupcakes! See those little flowers? They are so cute and easy! Here is the process:

First you need to pick out your color candy molds. Take the color you want to be center and plop it on your wax paper.
Second, melt your outline color and use a squeeze bottle or a ziplock bag to drizzle your design. You can do any design you want. I did a really basic flower. You can also print or draw your desired design and place it underneath your wax paper to trace. I didn't really care to make perfect flowers, I think it looks cuter a little less than perfect.
Third, fill in the petals with your main color. Make sure you fill a long the edges.

Fourth, Place in the freezer for a couple minutes. When they are hard you can easily pick them up off the wax paper and flip them over. Voila! Cute and edible flowers!
After I had made my decorations, it was time to actually make the cupcakes. I decided to do chocolate (uh, no brainer) and yellow cake. I wanted to kick my chocolate cupcake up a notch by adding a chocolate fudge filling. I have a filling nozzle (no idea what it's called) that I got in my piping start-up kit from Walmart (high rolla). I did a little googling and youtubing and found that most people slice a cone shaped section out of the top of the cupcake and plop the filling in the hole. That just sounded like cupcake cruelty to me! I decided to give my filler nozzle a try instead.
Filled with yummy fudge filling. When I sliced one cupcake open to see the results, it wasn't enough chocolate fudge for my satisfaction. So I filled each cupcake three times.
The end result? Still, not enough filling. My love of chocolate-ty goodness might force me to hack a hole in the top of these little guys next time (cringe).

On a brighter note, the buttercream turned out delicious! I am stuck on my recipe, but I am trying to convince myself to try other versions. Suggestions?
A mixed up decorating the cupcakes with the candied flowers and with light green pearls. I like a little variety, not too much, I want them to look like they go together. I thought they turned out adorable. I love the pearls!
Yummy in my tummy.
I tried my hand at the initials of the graduates.
These were the best (by far!) of my efforts. Next time I do candy initials I'm going to invest in some molds.
Once I had 47 cupcakes (minus the one I sliced open to check the filling amount) baked and decorated I had to get them to the graduation party. So I got boxes! I felt a little too official using boxes...
But it did help transporting them. We took Bradley's truck because it had tinted windows and I was afraid the sun would melt them (slightly paranoid? You would be too). I held two of the boxes in my lap and attempted to shelter them from Bradley's reckless driving...maybe "reckless" would be the last word used to describe his driving... but it sure felt reckless when you are caring precious cargo (and or paranoid)! But the good news is they made it safe and sound with only a few minor blemishes that only I probably noticed.
Cupcake tower!

It was a beautiful day, such a fun time with family, lots of food and a pretty cupcake to top it all off. Not a bad graduation party. Yum.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Good Morning Oatmeal


Good morning! That last two mornings I've made peanut butter and banana oatmeal and it's been yummy! I've never thought about cooking my fruit with the oatmeal, but I got this idea from super healthy Iowa Girl Eats who makes oatmeal a bunch of different ways.

Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal
-1/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
-2/3 cup water
-1 Banana (1/2 sliced in the oatmeal and cooked, the other 1/2 for on top)
-Peanut Butter
-Cinnamon and Vanilla

Microwave all ingredients for 2 minutes, stir and microwave another 30 seconds. Easy! Kicks up your oatmeal a notch.

The first time I made it I couldn't find my vanilla, but I used it today when I found my vanilla nestled in my kitchen towel basket (I can't do two things at once, never know where I'll end up putting stuff) and I loved it!
Last night I finished my scrapbook! Can you believe? I can't! Never could have done it without my sis-in-law who has kept me going for 10 months working on this thing! Unbelievable!
Completely done. All the pages are in, I've written everything I've wanted to write. Cover to cover it's done!
Wow!
*single tear* I'm so proud!
Special thanks to Elizabeth, who when I sat staring into the overwhelming stack of pictures would say, "Francesca, what are you doing? Cut this."

Do you scrapbook? What do you do with your pictures?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cinco De Mayo

Did you enjoy Cinco De Mayo? I had no idea it was May 5th! Yesterday evening I was moaning about fixing dinner and Bradley volunteered to do it! I was pretty excited about that! So before dinner I went to run some errands and I heard on the radio it was Cinco De Mayo! Woot! I love any excuse to eat Mexican food. So I called Bradley and told him not to worry about dinner, I had it covered.

Ahh Mexico, How I love Thee... It's been 10 months since our honeymoon to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. It was amazing!

And the food! Oh my! We ate so much. Look at all that Mexican food!

So, dinner might not be as glorious as poolside service at a Mexican resort...but it was pretty tasty nonetheless!

Cheesy-Beef Enchiladas
-1 lb lean ground beef
-Taco seasoning
-Onions
-Jalapenos
-Cheese (I did 2 % 4 cheese mexican mix, my low-fat "healthy" choice for this meal)
-Tortillas
-Enchilada Sauce

I can't give you any exact measurements, you just eyeball it. I cooked the onions with the beef and taco seasoning. Spooned in the desired about of beef into each tortilla shell, added cheese, and a few jalapeno slices.

Make sure you pour a little enchilada sauce on the bottom and sides of the pan so it doesn't stick. Place the enchilada's in the pan with the seams down. Pour remaining sauce over top, sprinkle some cheese and heat in oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees (or until bubbly in the middle of the pan).
Soooo goood. I like to heap toppings on top of the enchilada: black beans, lettuce, salsa and sour cream. And of course chips and salsa!
Yes, I ate this whole plate! And then Bradley and I went on a very slow walk. :)

I spent the rest of the evening working on my next project... Here is a little peak.
So exciting...I hope it turns out!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Only Thing Better Than a Strawberry is One Covered in Chocolate

We canceled our gym membership this month since we are moving and won't even be in town half the month. That last thing I should be doing with no gym membership is making cake...but alas, I cannot help myself. I'm really good with coming up with excuses for making desserts. I made this cake for Sunday lunch with Gina and John. I mean, it's way better than just having it for me and Bradley to eat!

I decided to try something that wasn't dipped, drizzled, or covered in chocolate. So strawberry cake was the next best option for me! Strawberries have been super cheap at Kroger (finally doing something right) so strawberry cake was the perfect adventure.

This recipe comes from Southern Living and I was excited because the cake recipe contained a box mix as well as fresh strawberries. I'm always a fan of starting with box mixes and adding flair. Making something completely from scratch still makes me a little nervous...but I'm getting better.

So in this super simple recipe you mix the cake mix, strawberry gelatin, sugar, flower, eggs, oil, milk and fresh strawberries together.

I, of course, wanted to make cupcakes, but I decided to experiment with half the mix so I baked half in a round pan (that "experiment" did not turn out well). Oh my goodness, this cake mix tasted sooo delicious. Pretty much like a strawberry milk shake! I contemplated pouring myself a glass and drinking it with a straw...but I wanted to see what the cupcakes turned out like so I baked instead.


While it was baking I made my buttercream frosting, but I skipped the milk and added strawberries. I was sooo excited about the turn out, it was so pretty and yummy. But that is when tragedy struck.
The frosting gets too thin with the strawberries! I put WAY to much strawberries in the frosting. If you do this, only put about a 1/2 cup of strawberries in the frosting (I got a little excited and added 2 cups). It is good at first but when it sits for a while you run into trouble. You either need to serve right away or refrigerate.
Okay, so maybe I couldn't help but drizzle some chocolate...it's just a tiny drizzle...

Yum! I loved the cake mix, I'll probably use a plain buttercream frosting without the strawberries in it next time. Or maybe a chocolate frosting...or maybe a chocolate filling...yes, more chocolate is needed...maybe I'll make a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing and embellish with a strawberry...or embellish with chocolate sprinkles...Oh wait, sorry! This post is on strawberries, back to the strawberry cupcake.

Strawberry Cupcakes

-1 package white cake mix
-1 (3-ounce) package strawberry gelatin
-4 large eggs
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/4 cup all purpose flour
-1 cup vegetable oil
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries.

Combine all ingredients and blend for 1 minute on low. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour in greased cupcake pan. If you use cake pans be sure to grease and flour pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes for cupcakes and 25 minutes for round cake pans.

Buttercream Frosting

-1 cup butter
-1 lb powder sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1-2 tablespoon milk or cream or half and half.

If you decide to add strawberries do not add milk. Use the strawberries to get the consistency of frosting you want.