Cupcakes!

Our wedding is in 10 days and I have good news on the knee front. X-ray shows I’m on track and am perfectly healing. I’m cleared for physical therapy to work on improving my strength and  range of motion (ROM). I’m at 70º right now and 135º or so is normal. Now I just need to practice walking down the aisle.

The amount of television I’ve watched in the last few weeks rivals the amount I’ve watched my whole life prior to my injury. I’m exaggerating a tiny bit. Just a bit. Streaming Netflix has been a lifesaver while I’ve been stuck at home. TV Shows I’ve watched their complete available libraries include: United States of Tara, Raising Hope, The League, Better of Ted, Parks & Recreation, The Killing, Damages, Downtown Abbey, Portlandia, Cake Boss. I’m currently watching: Bones, Samantha Who, Sports Night, White Collar, How I Met Your Mother, Lie to me. See? Lots of TV.

What does all this have to do with cupcakes? Well. While watching Cake Boss, I decided I need to give this decorating thing a try. I’m what you call a rustic decorating. A sprinkle of powdered sugar does wonders. I decided to start small. Cupcake small. I ordered a couple of cupcake books from Amazon (not really able to go to bookstores now).

One of those cookbooks is Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes and these cupcakes are the first recipe in the book: Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting. Yum. As you can see, not a lot of fancy decorating here. I’m starting slow. You can find the recipe for the cupcake base HERE and for the dark chocolate frosting HERE.

a trip of cookies

What do you call a group of cookies? A gaggle, a cache, a bunch of goodness? A group of goats is called a trip. I learned that from a Snapple Fact. Another cool Snapple Fact: Snails have teeth.

Over the past several weeks I’ve baked a bunch of cookies for baptismal parties, for birthday parties, or for just plain eating.

Bittersweet Brownies–A plain, simple brownie with a wallop of amazing chocolate flavor.  Made without nuts because sometimes I don’t feel like a nut. The Tuesdays with Dorie bakers made these in November 2011. Leslie of Lethally Delicious was the host and you can find the recipe HERE.

Drunk Cherry Chip Cookies–A delicious twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie made with white and semi-sweet chocolate chips and dried cherries soaked in cherry liquor. I’ve blogged about these cookies twice before , baked them multiple times, and now I’ve renamed them again. You can find the recipe HERE.

Earl Grey Madeleines–I had some Earl Grey tea bag samples from a conference I attended and decided to bake these traditional French butter cookie. I liked the infused flavor of the tea and bought a tin of Earl Grey the next time I was at the tea shop.  Baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group in December 2011 and hosted by Nichi of Bakeologie. You can find the recipe HERE.

Homemade Thin Mints–An easy recipe for the Girl Scout classic. Tasty, crunchy, and minty. You can find the recipe HERE.

Homemade Samoas–Another Girl Scout classic. Coconut, caramel, and chocolate on a shortbread cookie base. Taste better than the door-to-door variety. You can find the recipe HERE.

Peanuttiest Blondies–Made with both peanut butter and peanuts, they really are peanutty. The addition of chocolate chips and cinnamon make them out of this world delicious. Perfect on their own or with vanilla ice cream. Baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group in December 2010 and hosted by Nichi of Bakeologie. (I had no idea I baked two recipes hosted by the same blogger until I started writing this post!). You can find the recipe HERE.

photos by paulrus

a chocolate chip cookie

A chocolate chip cookie. That’s what motivates me to write again. And not just any chocolate chip cookie. It’s a cookie sweetened with pure maple syrup. It’s chunky with walnuts too. It’s tasty…very deadly. It’s a recipe I bookmarked for quite awhile. I saved it immediately when I first read about it last year on the blog Everybody Loves Sandwiches. For some reason, it took me this long to bake them.

So now I’m urging you all to go ahead and bake this cookies. Don’t take as long as I took. You won’t be sorry. You can find the recipe here:  Chocolate Chip Maple WalnutCookies.

Pumpkin Nut and Chip Cookies

I used to be what Kayte, of Grandma’s Kitchen Table, calls pumpkin-tolerant. Which means I used to like pumpkin okay. If given a choice I would choose the non-pumpkin treat, but I didn’t crave or dislike pumpkin. Something changed this year and I can’t get enough of pumpkin. Pumpkin lattes! Love them. Pumpkin cheesecake! Yes. Pumpkin bread! Bring it on.

The California Milk Advisory Board, The Real California Milk people, were one of the many sponsors at Blogher Food in San Franciso. In the SWAG bag, was a drinking glass–which I suppose they mean for you to use for milk, but I’ve only used for water–and a recipe card for Pumpkin Nut and Chip Cookies. At the time, I was still {or so I thought} pumpkin-tolerant so I didn’t really think much of it.

I’m so glad I kept the card because these cookies were so good. They are cakey and perfectly spiced with cinnamon & pumpkin pie spice. They are like a perfect package of autumn. The recipe calls for walnuts, but I didn’t have any and used pecans instead. And yes, I did use Real California butter. :P

Cherry and Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Here’s another treat I wasn’t going to blog about, but were too good to share.
I’ve been going through stacks and stacks of recipes from food magazines  I’ve collected over the past year or so. Pretty much just creating more stacks for some sort of order. I found this recipe from the  July 2008 issue of Bon Appetit. It comes from the R.S.V.P./Readers’ Favorite Restaurant Recipes section and is not online.

The recipe comes from Icing on the Cake Bakery of Los Gatos, California and is a souped up version of a chocolate chip cookie with alcohol-soaked dried cherries and both semisweet and white chocolate chips. The cherries take this cookie over the edge. YUM.

Cherry and Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Bon Appetit July 2008 and Icing on the Cake
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries (about 5 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup cherry liquor (I used kirsch)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of sugar  (thanks to Amanda of Amanda’s Cookin for pointing out my omission. )
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (about 6 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (about 6 1/2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375° F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bring cherries, cherry liquor, and 2 tablespoons water to boil in small sauce pan. Remove from heat and let cherries soak for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry; set aside.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in  a medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs and extracts, beat to blend. Add flour mixture and beat on low just to blend. Stir in cherries and all chocolate chips.

Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheets spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies one sheet at a time  until edges are light golden brown 11-13 minutes, turning baking sheets halfway through cooking time. Transfer to rack and cool.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Thank you to everyone that wished me luck and gave me support yesterday while running my half-marathon. I finished with a good time (for me) 2 hours, 18 minutes. I’m sore as all-heck today, but doing well.