Sunday, December 20, 2009

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Hey guys, I know it's been a while since I posted anything but it's winter break now so I can catch up! There's a lot I want to post on but first thing is first. If you do not make the cupcakes I'm about to show you, you are a FOOL! I repeat. MAKE THESE CUPCAKES!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes! Chocolate Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's ganache and butter cream! The Guinness makes the cake super moist and everyone loves some Irish cream so what do you have to lose? Nothing! Make them! Do it! Or just come over to my place next time I have the ingredients around...

Ingredients This recipe makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes

1 cup Guinness
2 sticks of butter (I use salted, but if you use unsalted, add 3/4 tsp salt)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Combine the stout and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Get out two bowls, or a mixing bowl and your stand mixer if you have one (don't you hate it when you don't get this in recipes and you mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then realize that you need the large bowl for the wet ingredients because you will be adding the dry to the wet and not the other way around? I hate that and I always end up in a pickle... in fact I did just that when making these cupcakes so don't do what I did!) In the smaller of the two mixing bowls *wink*, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the larger bowl with an electric hand mixer or the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend.

Add the stout-butter mixture to the eggs and sour cream and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. I suggest checking them around 12 minutes then every 2 minutes after because I like my cupcakes super moist.

For the Ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (you can use chocolate chips but use good quality and know that the chips don't melt as well so you'll have to be on your whisking game!)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter at room temperature
2 tsp Bailey's Irish cream (we used more than that...)

1 stick butter
3-4 Cups confectioners sugar
4-8 Tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream

Ganache is easier than you think! know that going in and it wont be so scary.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just simmering (watch it very closely so that it does not boil), then pour it over the chocolate. Whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds). Add the butter and Baileys and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick, almost like mouse but more dense. (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)

Cut a cone out of the center of each cupcakes to prepare for the ganache filling. Once the ganache has cooled you can begin to fill. If you want to be fancy, by all means pipe it into the cupcakes, but if you're like me, just spoon it into its hole and smooth the top.

For the Butter Cream

1 stick butter (at room temperature)
3-4 Cups confectioners sugar
4-8 Tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream (we used 6)

Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium until fluffy, gradually mix in sugar a half cup at a time. Once frosting is at the right consistency, mix in Irish Cream until you've reached your desired potency.

Frost, and enjoy!

I'm serious when I say that you absolutely must MAKE THESE CUPCAKES!

Now that break is here, hopefully there will be more activity but I can't promise anything. But I so want to get my bake on it's not even funny!

Happy Holidays!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homemade Slice and Bake Cookies

I don't think I'm alone when I say that I love cookies, and cookie dough, especially when it's easy, but do you ever feel a little dissatisfied eating cookie dough out of a tub? Well maybe not. How about sometimes you're in the mood to make cookie dough but not in the mood to back, or necessarily in the mood for cookie dough. So what do you do with all that cookie dough? Roll it up and save it for a time when you are in the mood for cookies but not in the mood to go through all that trouble.
It's simple!

Step One:
Wait until you're in the mood to make the dough and go for it.
My favorite cookie recipe is the one on the back of the Hershey's chocolate chip bag. In case you don't have a bag handy, you can find the recipe on the web site or just click here. Don't be afraid to mess around with what you put into the cookies, this time I used M&Ms, but my favorite is chocolate chips and pretzel bits! Sweet and salty is oh-so-good!

Step Two:
Put the dough in the refrigerator for an hour or so to make molding easier. Divide the dough in half and sculpt each half into a log like the slice and bake cookies you'd buy from the grocery store (Wegman's if you're lucky)! Wrap each log in a bunch of saran wrap and trow them in the freezer for that not so distant day when you have those cravings for cookies!

Step Three:
Easy. Slice and bake.

Ta-Da! You have cookies!
Simple, fun and easy.
Let me know what you like to mix in your cookie!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Delicious Chicken Tenders and Apartment Pictures

So those cookies I said I was making... apparently the meeting isn't until next week so I'll post that later, but for now I thought I'd share with you a recipe for one of my new favorite dinners and finally show you what I've done with my little apartment!
As for the recipe it is for delicious spicy basil chicken tenders which are easier and more fun to make than you're think! There's also a recipe for a basil dipping sauce for said chicken tenders.
These measurements are not exact, just an estimate, I pretty much just throw in ingredients and hope it turns out well, but hopefully these measurements will help! The recipe makes enough for a very hearty dinner for one.

Spicy Basil Chicken Tenders
5 Chicken tenders
1 cup breadcrumbs (-ish This is probably more than you need but air on the safe side)
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Basil Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350F You'll need three bowls for this.
Bowl One: Flour seasoned with salt and pepper
Bowl Two: 2 eggs beaten
Bowl Three: Bread crumbs, dried basil, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (go light on the cayenne if you don't like spicy food), salt and pepper to taste.
Drench each chicken tender in the flour, move to the egg and roll in the bread crumbs and transfer to a cookie sheet (you may want to cover it in aluminum foil).
Bake tenders for 12-15 minutes, flip once half way through.

Mix all ingredients for dipping sauce and serve with fresh veggies!

Now I've been talking forever about putting up pictures about my weird little apartment and I've been cleaning all day so now I can shamelessly post some! Now I just need to figure out what to do with the blank walls... unfortunately the one big wall is concrete so I can't drill and I don't want to paint that much, if you have any suggestions please share!

Have a great weekend everyone!
You'll hear from me soon!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Tailgating with Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

So this weekend I decided to go home when my mom reminded me that it was that time of year again! Time for the Genesee Valley Hunt, a tribute to the days when fox hunting was the it thing to do, with horse races, the running of the hounds and of course, fancy tailgating! The tailgating competition is something that my mom does every year and has always come home with a ribbon, this year was no different.

Since I was tagging along I decided to contribute to the menu, and what better for a chilly fall tailgate than hot chocolate? Hot chocolate cupcakes that is, with delicious whipped cream frosting!

I cheated a little with the cupcakes because I was short on time, but it would be easy to make them from scratch!

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
1 package Vanilla Cake Mix (or vanilla cupcake recipe of your choice, enough for 24 cupcakes)
3/4 cup Rich Chocolaty Ovaltine
2 tablespoons Hot Chocolate
Hint: If you're using a cake mix, make sure to replace the amount of water called for on the box with the same measure of Buttermilk.
Mix together ingredients (This amount of Ovaltine and hot chocolate will make your cupcakes barely chocolate, you may wish to add some unsweetened coco for a more chocolate taste.) Follow baking instructions on box or as called for by your choice of recipe.

This frosting has definitely become my new favorite. I have a lot to improve on but it's a less sweet alternative to butter cream and is increadibly tasty. I need to figure out how to make it thicker and will surely try again, but for now here is how the wonderful hot chocolate topping was made.

Almond Whipped Cream Frosting
1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar (I used more like 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (imitation is fine, the real stuff is too expensive)
2 cups heavy cream
1 package gelatin powder

Mix together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and almond until smooth. Continue mixing at medium speed and slowly add in cream, occasionally stopping to scrape the bottom. Once all cream has been added and frosting is fluffy and holds a peek, continue to mix while adding the package of gelatin (this will help the whipped cream stiffen)
Frost and enjoy!

As for the tailgate, it looked amazing! You would never know from the pictures that this was all served out of the back of a car! My mom is genius when it comes to presentation. Now maybe you can all understand the incredible amount of pressure I feel being a tad on the uncreative side with a mother who uses pottery tools to carve designs into pumpkins in about 30 seconds flat. Maybe someday I can pull this off on my own, but for now, my mom is creative god.

Here's the Menu:
Tenderloin Sandwiches on a fresh baguette with mock boursin cheese
BLT mini quiches
Beet, pear and goats cheese tart
Mini Carrot cake cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond whipped cream frosting

We took home 3rd place for best overall food out of about 30 tailgaters! But we're going for 1st place next year!

I think I'm going to make some cookies or something for a water polo meeting on Wednesday so it shouldn't be too long until you hear from me again!
Until then!



Friday, September 18, 2009

Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

So the other day I was sitting alone in my apartment (which I have yet to post pictures of... sorry about that. I need to clean the place first and then you can all see my not-so-shabby digs) when I saw that my new frosting tips came in from Bake it Pretty! I was so exciting and it didn't hurt that the packaging was sort of adorable! They came in a brown paper bag with gift tags which I saved and can't wait to use. The tags sort of reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, you know "eat me" "drink me", way too cute.

The tips I bought were the star and the closed star and they are WAY bigger than I expected but oh so perfect, so of course I had to use them right away!

So I was trying to decide what to make when it dawned on me. A good friend of mine introduced me to a fabulous snack over the summer, bananas and Nutella, so i thought, why not put this fantastic flavor combo into a cupcake? Let me tell you, delicious!

Banana Cupcakes
1 cup (salted) butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas, and it's easier when they are really ripe)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together butter, sugar, egg, banana and vanilla.

Mix baking soda with flour and mix dry ingredients in one cup at a time until incorporated (I'm sure you can do it all at once if you have a stand mixer but it gets overwhelming if all you have is a hand mixer).
Fill cupcake pan with papers and fill a one gallon freezer bag (with zipper) with the cupcake mixture. Cut a hole at the corner of the bag and get filling. I've found that this is the most efficient way to go about filling the cups, it's easier to make them even and you don;t have to worry about the dripping as much.
(Tip: Don't forget to squeeze the air out of the bag first to avoid air bubbles)

Sprinkle a little granulated sugar over the top of each cupcake and bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. These will come out a little more like muffins than cupcakes but that doesn't make them any less scrumptious!

Now for the important part.

Nutella Frosting
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup Nutella
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon half and half

Combine cream cheese, Nutella, and half and half in a bowl until smooth.
Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until your desired consistency is reached. I used 5 cups and looking back I wish I'd just added an extra half cup.
Pipe on your frosting and enjoy!

For these I used the closed star tip and they turned out beautifully.
If anyone wants a tutorial on how to pipe frosting, let me know, I'll see if I can figure out the whole video thing.



(PS- I know this sounds pathetic, and maybe it is but please please please leave a comment! I need to feel the love people! Other than that, Have a great weekend!)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blueberry Pie with lattice weave crust!

Is there a better way to spend a Friday than watching A Hard Days Night and baking a blueberry pie? I think not! So the pie's not perfect, but who really wants to eat a perfect pie? They never taste as good when they're perfect anyway! The pie was great fun and I think everyone should take they're next slow day in and bake a pie. Here is the original recipe I used, but for extra tips and trick, including how to master the lattice weave crust, read on!

Wonderfully Imperfect Blueberry Pie
about 1 hour for filling
about 1 hour to bake
2 hours to cool
No time to eat!

6 cups fresh blueberries (about 3 "1 dry pint" packages)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Top and bottom crusts (I would have attempted to make my own, but I don't have a food processor so I went with my favorite pre-made crust, Pillsbury.)

Put all ingredients into a large pan, I actually used a big deep skillet for lack of a large enough sauce pan. Lightly mix the ingredients together and place on the stove over low heat.

This is going to take a while, for me it took about 45 minutes to get the blueberries to where they needed to be. You should stir the mixture every so often and make sure it doesn't start to boil. Here's what it looks like after about 15 minutes:

And this is what it looks like when it is done:

(HINT: It doesn't actually come out pink, it's much darker than that, for some reason the flash on my camera it made it look that way. So please, don't wait for it to get pink!)

While the berries are cooking either make your pie crust or roll out the store bought stuff so that it fits in your pie pan. My pan is very deep so I had to roll my crust out a little thinner, but of course I can't make anything easy on myself, because I don't have a rolling pin... So what can I use? A wine bottle of course! It works great, so if you don't have a rolling pin, grab the vino!

When your blueberries start to look like preserves (and don't worry if it's not as thick as jelly) take your pan off the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes or until it's lukewarm, then pour your filling right into that pie crust!

So now your pie is done... kinda... it's time for the top crust. If you want to just slap the top crust on there, be my guest, but I went for something a little more fun and attempted a lattice weave. Wanna try it?

For a lattice weave crust you need 10 strips of pie crust, and believe it or not, it's possible to do this with one round of store bought crust! Focus on getting 8 strips first, about 3/4'' to 1'' thick. there will be some left over crust on either side which should be good enough for another strip with some extra. Now what you need to do is go over each strip once lightly with a rolling pin (or wine bottle). You'll find not that the strips are now more than long enough, when you trim the extra off each strip, you'll have more than enough for your 10th strip!

So how does the weave work? It's easy!

Lay out 5 strips vertically over your filling.

Take the middle strip and both of the outer strips and fold them back a little over halfway.

Lay down one strip horizontally and unfold the three vertical strips.

Now fold back the two other strips over the horizontal strip you just laid down and place another horizontal strip.

Unfold those strips and repeat until all 10 of your strips are woven in!

You'll have some excess dough, just trim and press into the crust and you're done!

Easier than you thought huh?

Before you throw the pie in the oven, brush the pie crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar and you're ready to go!

Now for the baking!

Bake the pie at 425 for about 15 minutes. then turn the oven down to 350 and continue cooking for about 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
(HINT: definitely consider covering the edge of the crust with tin foil before you start baking to keep it from burning, also put a cookie sheet or tin foil under the pie wile baking because blueberry pie has a tendency to boil over, and no one wants to clean a dirty oven!)

So you're done! Let the pie sit for at least 2 hours before serving and don't eat it too fast!

If there are any questions or requests please leave a comment!
I want to know how your pie went!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Resizing a T-shirt

My first tutorial! How exciting is this?

Okay so this is something I've done a few times before and do pretty well if I do say so myself. Resizing a T-shirt is a lot easier and can be a lot more fun than you think, not to mention can make the T-shirt itself more fun than when you started! Click on the links to view photos of the process. (I would have put them right in the post but blogger apparently dislikes me a great deal right now).

Step 1:
Find yourself an over sized T-shirt

Step 2: Cut off the thick seemed edges from the sleeves, the neck and the bottom.

Step 3:
Flip the shirt over and create a fold straight down the back of the shirt. Make sure the front of the shirt falls away so that it doesn't get caught up when you cut down that new fold.

Step 4:
Cut along that new fold you just created all the way from the bottom to the top.

Step 5:
Cut strips of about 1 inch that are at least 6 inches long. They may certainly be longer depending on how you want the shirt to look and how big the shirt is to begin with. For a fun shirt you can where anytime I recommend about 6 inches, for a "Clubbing" shirt you can go as far as cutting the strips down the entire back if you'd like. Cut the strips all the way from the bottom to the top. For a more fitted shirt make the strips longer around where your mid section would be so that they can be tied tighter. (Tip: If you find you're having difficulty cutting the strips, create some tension in the fabric, this should make it easier and make the cuts cleaner.)

Step 6: If you have a friend with you, slip on the shirt and have them tie the tassels for you. If you're on your own tie the tassels yourself but make sure to tie them loosely so you can easily adjust where you want. Also keep in mind that you don't have to tie 1 to 1, have some fun if you'd like and tie a few of them 2 to 2 or even criss-cross them!

Step 7: Try on the shirt and make adjustments where you need it.

Step 8:
After trying on the shirt you'll notice that it feels a little funny in the neck and sleeves, so we need to fix that. For the neck cut a slit straight down the front, this can be as long as you'd like. For the sleeves it's essentially the same thing. Cut a slit along the top of the sleeve it will make the sleeves more comfortable and looks pretty cute too! If you'd like something a little more interesting, cute strips all around the sleeves and pull them thin.

Step 9:

But what if I have an oversized shirt with something on the back? Well I'm working on it and I'll let you know as soon as I figure it out!

I hope you enjoyed my first tutorial! If you need any help don't hesitate to comment!

Stay tuned for more projects and apartment updates!


Moving in the big stuff!

It's amazing what a few pieces of furniture will do to a crappy apartment! My mom and I moved in a table, a chair, my TV and we built the futon (which was an interesting experience to say the least. When I walked into the apartment the other day I was feeling defeated, the way I often feel when I'm starting a project but I muddled through and now I'm ready to go!

There's not a lot to write about but there are a couple photos to look at, but the color and more will be coming in a few days!

Stay tuned for some painting and my first tutorial!



PS- don't forget to leave suggestions or questions!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Before pictures

So I figure if this whole apartment thing is going to be a big before and after sort of endeavor I should probably show you all some pictures of the charming dump I'm moving into next month huh? Here are some pictures of the raw apartment with no furniture or anything (the rug in the pictures isn't mine by the way.) This Thursday I'll be moving in my new futon (hurray!) and some other stuff and maybe we'll get a little paint on the walls and those pictures will be up soon too, but for now, here are the bare bones!

Check it out and leave a comment!

I'm still trying to figure out how to give myself more counter space for cooking because I'm going to have to do a lot of that if I'm ever going to keep you all interested in my epic failures.

Stay tuned for wall colors and futons!


PS- if anyone has any suggestions for my apartment or any recipes and projects you'd like me to test rive, just leave a comment!

Friday, August 14, 2009


My name is Bailey.

I grew up with a wonderful, fiercely creative mother. She can turn a wooden hanger into a masterpiece worthy of hanging in the most expensive closets in the country. She's a wiz on a sewing machine and a master in the kitchen. I like to think I inherited some of the talent but I can be sure I got none of that burning creativity.

I'm one of those people who sees a craft in Martha Stewart Living and thinks "I can do that!" I drive my car to the nearest craft store, and while walking the isles I get so overwhelmed by the surrounding creative stench that I leave with no supplies and no projects to keep me occupied.
Well no more!

I'm making a change. No more will a simple craft scare me! Never again will chocolate ganache make me run in the other direction! I'm embracing my uncreativity and running head first into the biggest project of my life.

In less than a week I'm moving into a hole in the wall apartment in the iron city... Pittsburgh that is. I plan to document my journey, turning this bare walled space into something envy worthy, all the while baking cupcakes, cooking dinners and crafting within an inch of my life.

I want to give some hope to those like me, show all of you that crafting and cooking is harder than those damn creative people make it look, but that doesn't mean we can't do it too!

Stay tuned and stay wonderfully uncreative!