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Whooooooooooo Loves Ya, Baby?…

Greetings from the Wintery wilds of Bavaria!  It has been a CRAZY month or two, and I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m just catching up to myself after the holidays.  There have been tons of projects in the works, and lots of planning for our latest challenge over at ‘I don’t have a problem, I have a well-rounded fabric stash!’  This month we’re challenging you to create the perfect hat, so be sure to visit the Hats Off Challenge event page for details and to see the fabulous entries that are already coming in!

No baking today, but I do have a sneak preview of a Valentine’s Owl Stuffie tutorial I’ve put together for the Valentine’s Day Showcase over at Sew BitterSweet Designs.  Melissa has put together ten days of tutorials from some fabulous bloggers and crafters, and I’m lucky enough to be featured on February 6th!  To download a printable PDF version of the tutorial below, click the images or visit http://tinyurl.com/ValentinesOwlStuffieTutorial .

PLEASE NOTE- THE PATTERN PIECES BELOW AREN’T TO SCALE!  YOU’LL NEED TO PRINT THE PDF TUTORIAL TO GET THE FULL-SIZED PIECES!

Thanks for reading- I’d love to see project pictures if you give the tutorial a try!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Random Acts of Craftivity

 

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Muffins for the masses…

This past weekend, I had the unique opportunity of working in a booth at a German Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) as a fundraiser for the twins’ school.  It was a lot of fun, even if my shaky German made for some interesting sales pitches..

The entire square around the Rathaus (town hall) was full of booths sponsored by various local businesses and organizations, all selling food, gifts, and Gluehwein (hot, spiced red wine).

I thought that the decorations on the Rathaus were especially cool- they wrapped the entire building with gigantic, scrappy scarves!

Our booth (we only had the right side of the hut) sold hot dogs, chili dogs, eggnog, and a variety of baked goods that were donated by parents.  And what did I bring?  Muffins, of course!

I can’t take credit for all of the baked goodness shown above, but I did bring four varieties:  Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Muffins (bottom right, in the green wrappers), Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (bottom right, in the red wrappers), Blueberry Cream Muffins (bottom left, with the sugar on top), and some Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes (top left, with the peppermint bits and gold wrappers) for a little variety.  These are some of my favorite recipes to bake and give for the holidays, and I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Chocolate Glaze
When I make this recipe in a Bundt pan, I like to add some gooey chocolate glaze to the top. I opted not to add the glaze to the muffins this weekend, since I was already using the glaze on the cupcakes, but it’s always fun to either pipe some into a muffin center or brush some on top for a little added sweetness!

Ingredients

  • ½ C Butter
  • 1 ½ C Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2-3 Very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 TSP Vanilla extract
  • 6 TBS Buttermilk
  • 1 TSP Baking Soda
  • 2 C Flour
  • ½ TSP Baking Powder
  • ½ TSP Salt
  • 1 Bag Semi-Sweet Miniature Chocolate Chips
  • Chocolate Glaze (see below)
  • Additional chocolate chips or shavings for decoration, if desired

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Grease and flour a Bundt pan or spray with a flour-infused baking spray
  3. Cream butter and sugar
  4. Add eggs, bananas, and buttermilk
  5. Add dry ingredients and vanilla extract
  6. Add chocolate chips
  7. Blend until well mixed
  8. Pour into prepared Bundt pan or into lined muffin cups and bake at 350* for 40-50 minutes for a Bundt or 20-25 minutes for muffins, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean
  9. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely
  10. To glaze, transfer to a cake plate (make sure that there is room on the edges for glaze overflow- a plate with a lip is helpful) and, using the end of a wooden spoon or dowel, make holes at intervals around the top of the cake. (I use the bumps of the Bundt pan as guides, making a tunnel every 2nd bump.)
  11. Prepare the chocolate glaze (see below) and, while still warm, pour over cake. I usually take a spoon or ladle and pour over the holes first to ensure that they’re filled with glaze, and then pour the remainder over the cake to cover.
  12. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips or chocolate shavings over glaze for decoration if desired.

Shiny Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from the Shiny Chocolate Glaze recipe found in The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. I like a lot of glaze, so sometimes I double this recipe and let it pool in the center of the Bundt cake so that everyone gets plenty of chocolate!

Ingredients

  • 2 TBS Butter
  • 2 TBS Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 C Heavy (whipping) cream, plus additional as needed
  • 1 TSP Vanilla extract
  • 1 C Powdered sugar (the original recipe says to sift, but I rarely do)
  • 1 C Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cooking Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan
  2. Add the cocoa and cream, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Do not boil.
  3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla until mixture is smooth
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips until melted, putting the pan over low heat again if needed, and adding a little more cream if the mixture seems too thick.
  5. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake as directed above.

Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Adapted from the Addictive Pumpkin Muffins recipe found at AllRecipes.com. My version omits the nuts, substitutes cranberries for raisins, and adds a bit of cinnamon sugar for a finishing touch!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups craisins/dried cranberries
  • 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • cinnamon sugar for dusting

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Grease three 12 cup muffin pans, or line with paper muffin liners. Soak cranberries in hot water for ten minutes to plump, then drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground cloves. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin, and applesauce, until smooth. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to make a smooth batter. Stir the raisins and walnuts into the batter. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar while still warm.
Blueberry Cream Muffins

Adapted from the Strawberry ‘N Creme Muffins recipe found at Food.com. I substituted a 2 ounce package of dried blueberries for the strawberries, and used a vanilla-flavored hagelzucker (a large crystal sugar- I found this particular flavored variety in the coffee and tea section at the local drug store) in place of regular sugar on top.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • sugar (regular granulated or hagelzucker, if you can find it), for sprinkling
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 2oz. bag of dried blueberries (fresh or frozen should also work- I’d say about 1-2 cups)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and 1 1/4 cup sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time. Do not overmix.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture and cream alternately to the butter mixture. End with the flour mixture.
  5. Stir in vanilla and then fold in berries.
  6. Fill greased or lined muffin tins 3/4 full.
  7. Sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tester dipped in center comes out clean.
Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

Adapted from the Basic Chocolate Poundcake recipe found in The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. I add a bit of peppermint liqueur to the batter in order to infuse the cake itself with a nice, peppermint flavor!

Ingredients

  • 1 18.25 ounce box of Chocolate Fudge cake mix WITHOUT pudding in the mix
  • 1 3.9 ounce box of chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • 1/2 Cup warm water
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 TBS peppermint liqueur/schapps
  • 1 bag of dark chocolate chips (semi-sweet works if dark isn’t available)
  • 1 box of mini candy canes (easier to unwrap than full-sized ones)
  • Chocolate Glaze (see recipe above)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place cake mix ,pudding, eggs, sour cream, water and oil in large bowl.
  3. Blend with electric mixer on low for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2-3 minutes more. Batter should look thick and well combined.
  4. Add peppermint liqueur and chocolate chips and mix to combine. There should be a nice peppermint scent to the batter at this point. If you don’t feel it’s strong enough, add a splash more!
  5. Put batter in lined muffin cups and bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed, 20-25 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, and then move cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling, 20 minutes more.
  7. Unwrap candy canes and pulse in a food processor until pulverized, leaving some larger bits for texture. (Note- be VERY careful that you’ve gotten all of the plastic off of the candy, because it’s NOT fun picking those little bits out later on!)
  8. Make 1 recipe of Chocolate Glaze (see recipe above)
  9. Using a frosting gun or pastry bag, inject each cupcake with a little glaze and then brush or drizzle some more on top. Immediately sprinkle with crushed peppermints, and allow to rest until the glaze has set.

That’s all for today, muffin fans- tune in next week, when the REAL holiday baking extravaganza is set to begin, for cookies, cakes, and more!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Cakes, MORE Muffins!!!, Recipes

 

I have a problem.

Yes, I have a problem, folks.  In the greater scheme of things, it’s not a big problem- some people would even say it’s NOT a problem, but it’s a part of my daily life, all the same.  And what is this problem, you might ask?  I love to bake.  I know, Earth-shaking, right?

The problem isn’t so much the baking itself- that’s kind of cathartic, actually!  The issue lies in what to DO with all of those baked goodies when I’m done.  Obviously, I can’t keep them all at home.  Aside from the fact that I’d need to be rolled to and from the kitchen in under a year, my family just isn’t up to the task of powering through mass quantities of muffins before they lose their shine, and my freezer can only hold so much.  Add to that the fact that my family just won’t eat some of my favorite baked treats (seriously, who doesn’t like baked fruit or peanut butter- they may be pod people), and I find myself constantly in search of new places to distribute my baked creations.

Many, MANY banana muffins have gone to school, work, friends, and neighbors.  (On a side note, does anyone else here find themselves fighting the banana battle?  On weeks when I just buy a few bananas, the kids fight for them like they’re the last Wii on Black Friday, but if I anticipate and buy in bulk, you’d think they were brussel sprouts…)  My husband’s job involves working with a constantly rotating batch of soldiers, so lots of muffins, bars, and cookies have gone out to the troops, which is kind of gratifying.  Still, I have to wonder when I’m going to see a look of dread in someone’s eyes when they see me approaching with yet ANOTHER tray of muffins.  After all, even good things have their limits, don’t they?

As I wait for the day that I will hear the inevitable, “what, MORE muffins???”, I wonder if it’s worth it.  Can I really justify all of this baking?  Am I imposing on others by pushing muffins, cakes, and cookies to feed my baking addiction?  Am I “killing them with sweets,” as a friend’s neighbor once accused her when she brought over a neighborly plate of treats?  I know that I can’t stop (my rapidly growing Recipes board on Pinterest is evidence enough of the baking bug at work), so how can I turn my fattening hobby in a productive direction?

Well, after much thought, I found a solution: a blog!  I love being able to find recipes and tutorials online, and I love to share my work both online and in real life, so this should (hopefully) be a match made in Heaven.  Tune in here for a selection of my favorite recipes, as well as some fun sewing and crafting tutorials to let all of the creative juices flow.  We’ll also periodically have recipe and tutorial link parties where everyone can share their favorites, and I’ve set up a Flickr group and a Pinterest board (post your Pinterest name in the comments below, and I’ll give you access to post) where we can all share pictures of our finished creations and our latest recipe discoveries!

Happy reading, and please come see us again soon!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Life in General...

 
 
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