Category Archives: cupcakes

More Monthly or Daily Challenges

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A friend of mine on Facebook just posted that she was about to embark on “30 Days of…” exercise.  I don’t know if she got this idea from The Happiness Project or from somewhere else.  The idea is that, if you do something every day for thirty days, it will become a habit.  In theory, I should be doing that, too (exercise), but first, I will finish this post.

Here is a comment about it from the article posted above – it’s about exercising or doing something 4 days a week instead of every day:

“If I try to do something four days a week, I spend a lot of time arguing with myself about whether today is the day, or tomorrow, or the next day; did the week start on Sunday or Monday; etc.”

How TRUE that is!  I do that all the time!  Even now, I am thinking about writing my friend (who is feeling bad and doesn’t feel motivated to exercise today) to tell her that August has 31 days, so she has one day lee-way.  I’m such a good friend…  Or am I the DEVIL?

I have had a pretty good run doing the NaBloPoMo – I only missed one day after I knew about the challenge, and that’s only because I didn’t have access to the internet.  Now, am I going to continue to write in my blog every day?  Maybe, but probably not.  I am about to start school, and I may not have time every day.  But I am going to make a list of things that I still want to add to my blog and keep it handy for when I can’t think of something.

Here are some more ways to challenge yourself:

Thing a Day is during the month of February (apparently you must sign up between Jan. 26 and before midnight on Jan. 31 – the website says that there are no late sign-ups.)  Everyone is invited to sign up before February 1st and commit to make one new thing (project, sketch, exercise) per day and share it on this group blog.   They are pretty loose about what you can do, but they did state that all work should be from that month only – no recycled work.

Everyday by Tom Judd was a project that this British artist did for two years straight. “Everyday was a self-set project intended to keep me drawing on a regular basis. Each page represents a day of my life and was scanned and uploaded to my site. I completed 2 years of drawing Everyday.” If you go to his website, he has all of his 741 works up for you to browse.  Amazing!

A little bit closer to my heart (only because I have seen him play two times with Paul and Storm) is Jonathan Coulton.  He did something he called Thing a Week – Here is the description from Wikipedia:

“Thing a Week” is the name that Coulton gave to a creative experiment which ran from 16 September 2005 to 30 September 2006. In this project, Coulton undertook to record 52 musical pieces in the course of a year, one each week. This target was achieved.

Here is a link to the first entry of his Thing a Week challenge and here is the final entry for the challenge.  This is all part of his blog, of course, so there are also blog posts about other topics.  The Thing a Week project got him some press, and you can even buy CDs of his work during that time at Amazon.com.  Just search Thing a Week – and that link is only for Part ONE.

Can’t commit to a whole project or thing a day.  How about a Sentence A day?  Here is a link to the How to and Reasoning behind Gretchen Ruben’s One Sentence Journal.  It is not a blog, she hand-writes it on paper.

I decided to search for Haiku Blogs – talk about the art of keeping it simple!  Interestingly enough, both of the ones I found don’t have any recent entries.  One Haiku Every Day ended on February 11, 2009.  Haiku A Day had it’s last entry on December 23, 2008.  Of course, there are all sorts of haiku fan sites, too.

Here is the Cupcake a Day blog.  I had to look that up because, secretly, I wanted to do that one… This blog includes not only the author’s recipes, but links to other great recipes and I think I even saw a cupcake bakery featured.  I love it!

Now, with the movie Julie & Julia coming out, I could not NOT mention Julie Powell’s blog.  I first found this blog but I supposed the rest of the entries were used for her book (?).  I then found another, more recent-looking blog here.  Hey, she got a book and a movie out of her blog – what an inspiration!  Here’s an interview with Julie – and an blog entry I found about Julia Child’s opinion of the Julie/Julia Project.

Here’s another month-long project:  November is Art Every Day Month!  (Wow, what is it about November?)  Here is an explanation from the founder:

“I keep the rules for AEDM really simple and very loose. I encourage people to make something every day, but my goal is to foster more creativity, so if you make just one piece of art per week or just one for the whole month, that’s fine with me. The idea is to bring more creativity into your life, not to make you feel overwhelmed, pressured or guilt-stricken. Art is also loosely defined here. I mean art in the sense of anything creative, whether that be painting, drawing, knitting, sewing, cooking, decorating, writing, photography, clay, jewelry-making or whatever!”

She also has a blog and a Creative Every Day Year-long Challenge:

“Creativity is meant in the broadest sense, so it doesn’t have to be something art related. Your creative acts could be in cooking, taking pictures, knitting, doodling, writing, dancing, decorating, singing, playing with your kids, brainstorming ideas, gardening, or making art in the form of collage, paint, or clay…or whatever!”

Finally, I found Every Day Art – I think it started out as a college class assignment.  There are no participants at the moment, but all of the assignments are there for inspiration!

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Oreo Cookie Cupcake Experiment, Part 3

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IMG_1020-1Okay, I hadn’t made cupcakes for a long time (it seems…), so when I was told that we could bring a dish to the Atlanta Collage Society art show in Blue Ridge, I decided to make some.  This time, since it was an hors d’oeuvres situation, I decided to try to make mini cupcakes.

I already knew that Oreo made miniature cookies:  I just didn’t know for sure how many were in a bag.  I also decided to buy another mini cupcake baking pan.  I had only one, which cooks 24 cupcakes at a time and I knew there would be more than that.  I settled on two 12 cupcake pans, to later have the option to make smaller batches.

Basically, I followed the same recipe as in my Oreo Cookie Cupcake, Part 1 entry.  But I will see if I can note the differences when mini cookies and mini cupcake pans are used.

COOKIES AND CREAM CUPCAKES
MAKES 22 TO 24

1 bag Mini Oreo Sandwich Cookies ( a bag has about 75-80 mini cookies)
1 bag regular sized Oreo Cookies (you will have many left over)
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Vanilla)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 48 cupcake cups with mini paper liners. Set the pans aside.IMG_1010-1

2. Count out 24 Oreos and separate the top and bottom wafers. Make sure each has some of the icing on it. Place one wafer, icing side up, in the bottom of each paper liner. Set them aside. Place the remaining whole mini Oreo cookies aside for garnish.

3. Take about 18-20 of the LARGE Oreos and put them in a food processor to crush. You may also place the Oreos between sheets of waxed paper or in a large, closed zipper-lock bag and crush them by rolling over them with a rolling pin. Set these crumbs aside.

4. Place the cake mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 1 1/2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed.

5. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the crushed Oreos and fold these into the batter until well incorporated. Set aside the remaining crushed Oreos for the frosting. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cup­cake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. (You will get between 48 and 56 cupcakes; I had to cook a smaller second batch of 8 after the first 48 were done) Place the pans in the oven.IMG_1011

4. Bake the cupcakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 14 to 18 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the cupcakes in their papers and place them on a wire rack to cool thoroughly (at least an hour) before frosting.IMG_1014

Cake Doctor’s Vanilla Buttercream: Place 8 tablespoons real butter, at room temperature, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend with electric beaters at low speed 30 seconds. Add 3 more cups powdered sugar alternately with 3 tablespoons milk, a tablespoon at a time, blending at low speed. Increase to medium speed and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Makes 3-1/2 cups.

I iced the cupcakes with the vanilla buttercream, sprinkled Oreo cookie crumbs on top, then planted a mini Oreo cookie in the center.IMG_1016

Note: Next time, I think I will dispense with the 1/2 Oreo in the bottom of the cupcake liner. Instead, I may make a thin crust of crushed oreos and a little bit of butter. Maybe its just me, but the mini Oreos were not big enough to fill the whole bottom of the cupcake liners, and I thought an even layer would look better.

Loteria Cupcake Picks

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img_0382I made these cupcake picks a couple of months ago, but wanted to wait until I had the pictures just right to put them up on my blog.  That meant making cupcakes, of course.  Last time, I made green lime jello cakes with coconut icing – I knew that it would look great with the picks.  But, alas, I didn’t set up the camera in time and they got eaten! 😉

I made pina colada cupcakes this time.  They turned out a little pudding-y because they collapsed, but I filled it in with icing and coconut.  They taste fine, too.  Then, I did the photo shoot up right, setting up the background, and using the tripod for the camera.  At least I got something done this weekend!

So, how did I make them?  I came up with the idea because I thought they would look cute at a Loteria-themed party.  I have all sizes of Loteria games, from the giant size to the regular size to the mini pinata filler kind.  I also have Loteria wrapping paper with regular-sized images and also with mini images.  In the end, I decided to use the loteria piñatera.  I figured out that I could make at least 18 two-sided picks with the small images in the set.

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Here is what you will need:

  • 1 loteria piñatera game
  • brightly colored card stock
  • toothpicks or small skewers
  • brightly colored plastic beads
  • decorative cutting scissors
  • regular scissors
  • craft glue

1.  Open the loteria game and separate the mini loteria tablas from the mini card deck.  Cut all of the smaller images apart and pair them up.  Each pick will need two images.

(Note:  you don’t have to use the same image on both sides of the pick, but I did it that way)

2.  Cut out the card stock as shown below.  You can eyeball the measurements by placing one of the Loteria images in the center of your piece of cardstock and cutting around enough to fold it in two.

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3.  I used a set of border patterned scissors, like the type used for scrapbooking, to cut around the diablito card.  You may have to practice because it’s pretty small.  Don’t glue the images on until you have the border you want.

4. Glue the Loteria images to each of the backgrounds.  Allow them to dry.

5.  When they are dry, sandwich the skewers or toothpicks between the two pieces of paper and glue it all together.  Make sure that you use enough glue to make sure the toothpick stays put.

6.  To finish, take some plastic beads and thread them onto the toothpick or skewer so that they touch the bottom of the loteria decoration.  Again, make sure you used enough glue to keep the beads from coming loose.

Now, you are done!

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Because these picks contain small pieces, I don’t think they would be appropriate for small children’s birthday parties.

I tried to make Loteria cupcake papers, but that may be beyond my expertise.

Cupcakes for Conference Night

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This week, in addition to being ITBS testing week, is also conference week.  This year, I begged off of doing translation for other teachers – I’ve done it the last two years for spring and fall.  Usually there is one night where the school and teachers stay open late for evening conferences.  This year, it’s Thursday night.  Usually, one of the assistant principals and his buddies rent a giant barbecue pit and barbecue hamburgers for an early dinner – all the better to keep us here until the evening.

This time, I volunteered to make cupcakes for all of the teachers for dessert.  I spent all last weekend making 3 kinds of cupcakes: carrot cake, Oreo cookie, and Magnolia Bakery vanilla.  I refrigerated them and waited to frost them last night.  I made a cream cheese frosting for the carrot cake cupcakes, but by adding the last of the cream cheese, I was able to make enough to frost the Oreo Cookie cupcakes.  Cream cheese is not usually my choice for those, but: waste not, want not.  I just added butter and powdered sugar to augment the rest of the icing – by then it was mostly buttercream.  I added pink food coloring to it and put gumdrops on top of the vanilla cupcakes.

All in all, I think I came to school this morning with 30 carrot cake cupcakes, 52 Oreo cookie cupcakes (complete with half a cookie on top), and 24 vanilla cupcakes.  We have about 120 to 150 in our staff, and although they would probably not all be staying, I wanted to make sure we had enough dessert.  So I bought a giant box of Ghirardelli brownie mixes at Costco.  I made 6 pans of brownies: 2 plain with M & Ms, 2 with pecans, and 2 of “Mexican” brownies (I added cinnamon, ancho chili powder and cayenne to them).  Don’t worry, I will label them.

To transport them, I did use my Cupcake Courrier, but I also scavenged some short rectangular boxes from Costco.  The best were the strawberry crates – they fit one on top of the other with space for the Oreo cookie topping.  Now, not that I expect lots of praise, but I did send an e-mail to my principal to let her know who brought the dessert.

Cockroach Cupcakes, Anyone?

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So, today I did a bit of wandering.  I originally wanted sushi, but the Marietta branch of RuSan is no longer open on Sunday.  So, I wended my way north and got onto 120 East to take the “long way” home.

I thought I might pick up an etouffee stuffed chicken at Cajun Meat Company, but of course, they were closed, too.  Next stop was T J Maxx, where I picked up a new skirt, a 4 qt. pan, and some stickers.  At Michaels, I was able to find more craft crosses – I pick them up whenever I can because it does not seem possible to order them on the Web.  My last recreational stop was at Party City.

I sometimes stop by Party City to see if there are any small items I can use in my assemblage art.  They also have a lot of cool party confetti in different shapes and sizes.  I found some plastic ball bearing puzzles with clear lids to make more of my Day of the Dead fridge magnets.  Finally I went over to look at the Halloween items – they were not done putting them up yet  So I browsed the Clearance wall.  That is when I saw them: The Harry Potter Cockroach Clusters.  They were on clearance for 50 cents a package (that would be 25 cents per cockroach).  I picked up one that had not been crushed and bought it.  They normally go for $3.00 or more ($1.50 a cockroach).

In the back of my mind was to use the cockroaches as cupcake toppers.  Immediately, I thought of a couple of party themes that are not even Harry Potter related.  Carmen Agra Deedy, a local Cuban writer, has a book out called Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach.   It is based on a Cuban folk tale, sooooo.  Cuban sandwiches, faux mojitos (limeade with mint), and cockroach cupcakes!!!  What about Wall-E?  There was a cockroach there – but maybe it would seem cruel to eat characters in a book or movie…

I did open them and attempt to eat one.  I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe a chocolate covered marshmallow thing?  “Cluster” – to me – implies a nut and caramel thing, but I wasn’t expecting that. It was not either one.  It’s made of orange jellied candy – I could not bite through it and did not try. Here is how the Candy Warehouse describes it:

Have you ever seen a giant cockroach scurry across the floor? Stomped on the poor creatures as they tried to flee to their dark lair? Now these delectable critters want to lay eggs and nest in your mouth! Dare to eat a sweet tasty “bug” treat from the world of Harry Potter! The juicy gummy underbelly is covered with a crunchy candy shell, just like real cockroach wings. Even the underbelly of these candy creatures looks real.

It was just an idea.

Post Script:  While searching for pictures, I came across a recipe or two for home made cockroach clusters:  This one calls for chow mein noodles and chocolate, but I saw one with raisins and pretzel sticks, too.

Melt your chocolate until smooth. Stir in chow mein noodles until the mixture is thick enough to hold together. Spoon bite-sized clusters onto wax paper and let harden in the refrigerator. If you want longer-lasting candy, melt 1 stick cooking paraffin per 12 oz of chocolate before adding the noodles. These can be frozen, just thaw before serving.

It probably tastes good, but they aren’t a spectacular, either!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

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Okay, last week I was looking for my recipe for Lemon frosting for my Ginger-Lemon Cupcakes.  I have almost all of the Anne Byrn Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks – I love them.  While I was looking, I came upon this recipe for Fresh Pear and Gingerbread Cupcakes.  Obsessive as I am (and with my eye on the ripened pear in our fruit basket),  I kept it in mind until last night – when I made them.  I also just “happened” to get a can of crystallized ginger chips at William-Sonoma yesterday, too.

My husband had decreed our kitchen a “NO Cupcake Zone” a while ago, but he doesn’t seem to mind at the moment because the cupcakes are great!

If you are a purist about working from scratch, I guess you could add a diced pear to this recipe I found online.  But I was lucky enough to find a copy of Anne Byrn’s cupcake recipe in this Knoxville News article:

Fresh Pear and Gingerbread Cupcakes

1 (14.5-ounce) package gingerbread mix
1 cup water
1 large egg
1 medium-size ripe pear, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 heaping teaspoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped, optional
Confectioners sugar, garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 16 paper liners. Place gingerbread mix, water, egg, pear and ginger in large mixing bowl. Blend with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and thickened, 2 minutes more, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Batter will make 14-16 cupcakes. Bake cupcakes 18-20 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and place on wire rack and cool. After 5 minutes, remove cupcakes from pan and place on rack to cool additional 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with confectioners sugar or frosting of choice.

They didn’t include the frosting recipe, so here’s a short one from another site:

In a bowl cream together 3 oz. cream cheese and 3 tablespoons butter, add 1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and beat the mixture until it is fluffy and smooth. Beat in the zest and the lemon juice, then add more confectioner’s sugar as needed to attain the right consistency.  Chill the frosting for 30 minutes, then spread on cupcakes.

I cooked the cupcakes for 15 minutes, then found they needed more, so I added 3 minutes.  I removed them from the oven and let them cool a bit.  When I lifted the cupcakes out of the pan, the bottoms of the cupcake liners were curiously damp,  But, when I unwrapped a cupcake to test if they were undercooked, they were fine.  I guess it’s all the water and the pears.  The cupcakes come out all of a piece when you unwrap them.

The suggestion about chilling the icing first is a good one – wish I had had it last night.  This icing recipe has the consistency of goop until you add enough confectioner’s sugar.  I iced the cupcakes one time, then let everything cool and iced them again.  I like a lot of icing on my cupcakes – that may not be everyone’s preference.

More Cupcakes

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We are on the road to Covington.  Last night, I made cupcakes.  Dad’s birthday was a good excuse.  I made German chocolate cupcakes and Lemon-Ginger cupcakes.  This time I used can frosting.  I got two cans each of the coconut-pecan frosting for the German chocolate, and two cans of lemon for the lemon-ginger. 

I pretty much followed the directions on the German chocolate cake mix box, but I substituted buttermilk for the water and a stick of butter for the oil.  I added two tablespoons of cocoa powder, one teaspoon of vanilla, and a little more buttermilk.  I used the jumbo aluminum cupcake liners and that made about 18 cupcakes instead of 24.  

I had no problem with the coconut-pecan frosting – except for the fact that there is no way that one can of icing would frost a whole cake.  I augmented each can with more chopped roasted pecans and a few squirts of Hershey’s dulce de leche syrup.  I wonder how pralines or praline pecans would do.  Probably be too sweet.  One can with those additions frosted 9 jumbo cupcakes.  I topped each with a caramel chocolate Hershey’s kiss.  They were very good. 

Now, the ginger-lemon cupcakes didn’t come out as well as they have in the past.  I got a little too smart and added some of the canned icing to the cookies in the bottom of the cupcake liners.  Then I added buttermilk, butter, and the peel and juice of one lemon to the cake mix, adding in the crushed cookies afterwards.  That batch made 22 cupcakes – I didn’t fill them as full. 

I overcooked them just a tad – maybe the icing in the bottom was not a good idea – but they don’t taste too bad.  Since the frosting was canned, I got the big idea of using the pastry bags and tips that I bought a long time ago.  I augmented the icing with the last little bit of lemon curd and some leftover lemon icing I had in the freezer. 

 It was a mess!  I have no idea how you are supposed to fill that icing bag – the icing kept sticking to the sides.  Then, the icing that got to the bottom of the bag was dripping out of the tip.  Icing was squeezing out of the top, the bottom, everywhere!  Next time, I think I need to refrigerate the icing before I put it in the bag. 

Most of the cupcakes ended up looking pretty good, though.  The cake did not reach the top of the foil filler this time, and so the icing just made them level.  I topped each with a sugared lemon drop instead of the Lemonheads I had used before.  Dad likes the lemon drops, I think. 

After Wheat and I had a couple of samples each, there were exactly 36 cupcakes – just the right number for my lovely cupcake caddy.  I had to remove the Hershey’s kisses from four German chocolate cupcakes on the middle layer because they were too tall.  The top layer had enough headroom, however.

While looking for lemon icing recipes in the Cupcakes by the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook, I came across a gingerbread with pear cupcake recipe.  I also found some leftover GinGin hard candies that I might be able to crush into the mix.  That’s for another day.  I definitely will make the German chocolate cupcakes for school.

It’s not Diet Time yet….

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Yesterday, I came to the cruel realization that I was off by one day in my estimation.  I did not realize that it was TUESDAY.  That meant that I only had ONE more vacation day left.  I was crushed!  I am still in shock…  but I am coming around.

I know, those of you who did have 13 days off have no sympathy for me whatsoever.  It’s all good!

This morning, I woke up and checked my e-mail.  I am a subscriber to the Hungry Girl.com newsletters, and was inspired by the latest installment.  I went to Publix (after eating lunch at Wendy’s) and bought some lovely Diet friendly foods,  Weight Watchers desserts, Kashi frozen entrees, Progresso O-point soups, and even a bottle of Salad Spritzers.  I will try them this week.

When I got home, however, I was faced with the fact that I still had two bars of intensely dark chocolate (I forgot the make, I got it on sale and put it in the freezer), but it is some huge percentage of cocoa that you should not try to eat by undiluted.  I also had two bars of Abuelita drinking chocolate as well as the big box of Abuelita drinking chocolate tablets, which I used to make my brother in law’s birthday cake and cupcakes.

So, I went a’Googling, looking for recipes that use bar cooking chocolate instead of cocoa powder.  I found some great recipes at Scharffenberger and Nestle Chocolatier, but was happy to see that La Abuelita, a Mexican product owned by Nestle, also had some very interesting looking recipes.

I decided to make a Bundt cake using this recipe from Nestle Chocolatier:

Chocolate Mayan Bundt Cake – (from the site) A unique twist on a favorite. This Bundt cake is infused with chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne flavors and topped with an elegant chocolate or cinnamon glaze.

Ingredients:

Directions:
PREHEAT PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Grease 12-cup Bundt pan.

FOR CAKE:
MICROWAVE
baking bars in small, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 45 seconds; STIR. If pieces retain some of their original shape, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until melted.

COMBINE flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper in small bowl. Beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate. Beat flour mixture into creamed mixture alternately with milk. Pour into prepared Bundt pan.

BAKE for 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; invert cake onto wire rack to cool completely. Transfer cake to serving platter. Drizzle cake with Chocolate Glaze. Let set before serving.

FOR CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
MICROWAVE
baking bar in small, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 45 seconds; STIR. If pieces retain some of their original shape, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until melted.

PLACE 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in medium bowl. Form a well; pour in butter, whipping cream, salt and melted chocolate. Stir until blended. If necessary, add remaining powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pouring or drizzling consistency is reached. Spoon Chocolate Glaze over top of cake. Let stand until glaze is firm.

I had to be pretty creative, because I had decided to use the La Abuelita bar chocolate instead of the high end chocolate mentioned above.  This time, I didn’t change the sugar amounts too much.  La Abuelita already has some sugar in it, so I may decrease that next time.  La Abuelita also already has cinnamon flavoring, so I didn’t put as much cinnamon in.  I am not a huge fan of cayenne in my cakes, so I added 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder and less than 1/4 tsp. of cayenne.

What else?  I had to add Crisco shortening to my butter, since I had very little butter (unusual for me!) and was not going out into the cold to get more.  I made the glaze by melting the rest of the second chocolate bar and adding it to the rest of my butter, and adding some La Abuelita chocolate syrup and Nestle Dulce de Leche syrup I had in the fridge.

The cake turned out okay – a little dry for my taste, a little sweet according to my husband.  It needed ice cream, probably.  I might try some of the Haagen-Daaz Dulce de Leche (I think that the new Cinnamon Dulce de Leche or Mayan chocolate would be a little overkill… for others, if not for me!) I definitely think it would be better as a two layer cake with an awesome frosting or as cupcakes.  I know that when I bring it to school, no one will be as critical as I am – they generally appreciate any food offerings.

Oh, speaking of ice cream and syrup – I tried my beautiful Cinnamon Pear Caramel Sauce from the King’s Cupboard with the new Haagen-Daaz Caramelized Pear and Roasted Pecan ice cream.  The Caramel is to-die-for, but I wasn’t as impressed with the ice cream.  I used some of my caramel to make two mini tarts with shortbread-almond crust and sugar-free vanilla pudding with cinnamon added.  It was yummy!

Did I mention that I am considering eating more healthily?

Misery loves company…

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I don’t know if I have mentioned it lately, but life is really sucking right now. I am LITERALLY counting the days that I have left in this school year. I have a little calendar that I keep in my agenda and “X” off the days that have passed. I have two more days until my Thanksgiving week off, then 19 looooong days of Purgatory until the Christmas break.

Then the year will be halfway over.

90 days. That’s right. I have 9.5 sick days left. I supposedly have 5 personal days now in honor of my 10 year service to the system. I will probably use all of them. I will need them.

I won’t go into it anymore. Anyone who reads this blog just needs to know that it is hard to be terribly creative when you are emotionally whupped at the end of the day. I am trying to cool it on the cooking creativity, because I will end up weighing 200 lbs. by the end of the school year.

I wish that I was one of those people who could be satisfied with a knitted version of a cupcake. Is that sick or what? You can’t eat those! Now, these knit cupcakes are more like it.

I am going to try and switch my focus to regular meal cooking. I have a lot of spice and sauce packets that I have collected. Maybe I’ll try those.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my father is out of the hospital.  He had a lot of suggestions for the nurses and his doctor as to how the hospital could be run more efficiently.  He also had to tell the night nurses to keep it down so that he could sleep.  I am sure that they are glad to see him go…

Cajeta Cupcakes with Membrillo Surprise

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I finally made my cupcakes with cajeta. I had this recipe for cajeta poundcake that I found years ago and decided to try and use it for a base for cupcakes. I filled the cupcake cups almost half full, then put a slice of membrillo (quince paste) on top of that.  I then topped that with a little bit more of the dough.

The recipe made much more than a regular cupcake recipe – about 40 cupcakes in all.  Note:  the recipe calls for 2 cups of cajeta – that is actually one 23 oz bottle.  I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to get the last 1/2 cup out.  Beware – the bottle WILL melt.

I decided in the end not to ice the cupcakes.  They were dense and chewy enough with the 3 cups of sugar and 2 cups of cajeta caramel.  I brought most of them to school – I still have leftover bread pudding that I am eating.  People really liked them – I had some of my Mexican students and one teacher from Nicaragua rave about them.  I personally thought them too heavy.  I may experiment with a regular Cake Mix Doctor Pound Cake recipe or just adding some cajeta to a cake mix.

Not now, though.  I think I have to stop with the cupcake making or my family may plan an intervention.

Last night, my husband had passes to go to the Jonathan Coulton show with Paul and Storm at the Five Spot in Little Five Points.  We got down there in time to eat a dinner of falafel before the show.  Both acts were awesome and funny.  The Jonathan Coulton phenomenon just shows the power of the internet and blogging.  He actually came to Atlanta just because enough fans promised to buy tickets to see him if he came! How can you not love a guy who writes a song about IKEA?

This has been a pretty tame day.  I woke up at 10:30 and took the dog to the polo fields over on the other side of town where I used to live.  It’s the only place I know of where I can let her off leash with no worries.  Then, I found a shady place to park so that she could wait for me in the car while I ate sushi at RuSan.  When I got home, I took a nap until it was time for my massage.

While I was napping, we had a phone call from my dad.  He called to tell us that, in case we were looking for him this weekend, he would be at the hospital.  What?!!!  My dad lives in a small town in Mississippi, about one hour north of my sister’s home in Covington, Louisiana.  He had a urinary tract infection last month, and it has gotten worse.  He got out of the hospital for an hour to make arrangements to have his dog taken care of, but he is staying in the hospital on an IV drip of antibiotics for a couple of days.  I hope he’s going to be okay.  My sister is going to check on him and pick up his dog tomorrow.