Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pumpkin Cake Cupcakes

My favorite workplace activity around the holidays is the Thanksgiving Potluck! I made these little pumpkin cake cupcakes for my husband's work potluck and they tasted looked great! ...I probably should have ate one before I sent them off to work with him, oops!

The first time I baked this recipe (almost 4 years ago), I confused Tbsp with Tsp. Although the cake smelled great in the oven, it tasted awful with all that extra baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon! I also used Splenda (because the packaging said GRANULATED SUGAR in large words) instead of real sugar. This epic fail of an easy recipe is when I realized that my forte wasn't in the kitchen. I've made this recipe many times again and I promise that its very delicious if you just follow the directions correctly :)


1. Do you know the difference between a Paddle and a Whip is?
I give credit to my husband who found some learning material on this topic here

The paddle (left) is used for mixing, stirring, incorporating without aerating your batter. Wonder why your chocolate chip cookie is flat? Its because there is too much air in your batter.

The Whip (right) was made to aerate your cake batter (its not meant for the cookie!). 

2. Always mix your dry ingredients separately
This is one instruction that isn't always obvious in a recipe. Apparently if you just throw your baking soda and powder in a mixture of liquid ingredients, you could have clumpy soda left in your batter (thats my reasoning). But bakers suggest mixing separately in order to uniformly mix your dry ingredients.

The bottom line:
Who likes clumpy, bite size pieces of baking soda in their cupcakes? Not me!

3. How to "soften" butter and cream cheese
Recipes never say how to do this - but you SHOULDN'T just put these
ingredients in your microwave to soften them :)

I promise that here IS a difference between
soft butter and hot, melted butter! Who woulda thunk?
This is an easy one! Just let your butter and cream cheese sit out at room temperature until its nice and soft.

PS - this requires to plan ahead and read the recipe so your ingredients are soft when you are ready to bake, duh Stephanie!

4. Food coloring makes everything fun!
I always wanted to know how to make Aztec Blue :)
On the back of food coloring boxes are instructions on how to make fun colors by combining the existing colors provided in the box. 

PS - the NEON box has even better color variations than the standard food color box provides.

(in the background is Mom Ganey's famous family recipe book)

Pumpkin Cake

4 Eggs
1-2/3 Cups of Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Cooking Oil
1 16 Oz Can Pumpkin
2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda

In a mixer bowl, beat together eggs, granulated sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffly.
Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and soda.
Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and mix thoroughly.
Spread batter in ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees (or 15 minutes if cooking mini cupcakes).

Cream Cheese Icing
1 3 Oz Pkg Cream Cheese, Softened
1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted

Cream together cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, beating well until mixture is smooth.

...or at least trying to be a domesticated wife :)



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why blogging? Thank you Julie & Julia

A few weeks ago, my husband and I spent the weekend at my mother-in-law's (MIL) house. My MIL is like Martha Stewart (only she didn't go to jail) - she is an inspiration to young women like myself who lack the natural ability to cook, sew and be creative (amongst many other woman-like skills). That weekend, we watched Julie & Julia; my new all-time-favorite movie about a writer/wife/young woman named Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who cooks and blogs her way through Julia Child's (Meryl Streep) french cook book; 524 recipes in 365 days. That's a lot of cooking! But, I left my MIL's house convinced that I should start a blog and write about running (the only real thing I know how to do lately) and all things domesticated that I'd like to learn.

People who know me, know that I struggle in the kitchen (and other parts of life that I'd like to avoid admitting so early on). I have been known to confuse Tbsp with tsp (which does not make for a tasty pumpkin cake) and I have washed dishes with a basting brush (I'll have to share that story another time); my idea of "cooking" was once microwave broccoli, chicken strips with lemon pepper seasoning and Pasta Sides on the stovetop. In the last several years I have enjoyed much tastier meals - a few cooked by myself and many others cooked by my husband (who inherited his mother's culinary wonderfulness) and my father (who is the master of all cooking in my household growing up). I am like my mother in the kitchen, I have one really good dish that I only cook once a year.

 Okay, I'm not that bad but I have
been known to turn on a fire alarm or two.

So I have decided to really learn how to cook, bake, crochet, other domesticated-like things and maybe even build something with my own two hands (I said maybe!). Along the way I'll continue my happy journey of running. I believe that running will keep me sane :)

Welcome to my journey!