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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Like Red Velvet in this Grown Woman's Smile

Guess what I'm making!!!

[Hint: Look at the title]

You've got it! Red velvet cake!

What auspicious occasion would require the makings of such a delicious and decadent treat? It's my wedding anniversary today :)

Yep, four lovely (and LOOOOONG) years of wedded bliss for me and the ol' ball and chain. Just kidding! But seriously...

My husband, Eric, isn't really a baked goods foody such as myself. Shockingly enough, he barely gives sweets a second glance. 

I know, crazy, right?

So, when it comes to cakes and whatnot to celebrate our birthdays, anniversaries, etc., it's usually up to me what to make (although he did have me make him that carrot cake for his birthday). For our four year wedding anniversary I thought that some red velvet cake would be delish.  

Odd as it may seem, I never even tried red velvet cake until a few years ago. I think it's mostly because I thought it was some kind of a white cake that someone had dyed bright red. BUT, believe it or not, red velvet cake is a CHOCOLATE cake. Although these days a lot of red food coloring is used to help get that super red color, historically speaking, there used to be a reaction between vinegar and cocoa that would create the reddish hue.  You know, back when they made cakes from scratch all of the time.

Not like this chick. My red velvet cake came out of a Duncan Hines box.

And when I say cake, I mean cuppycakes. And when I say cuppycakes, I mean friggin' HUGE cuppycakes. Mini cakes?

Take a peek at these puppies:

No, my cupcakes are not bleeding, I'm just a messy baker. Also, check out the ginormous-ness. Just for reference, they box said it should make 24 cupcakes. I was only able to make 11.

I apparently bought the world's biggest cupcake liners. Who knew that there were different sizes? It was tough trying to keep them from folding in on themselves when I put the batter in. Ooops.  

Due to the fact that the were so large, I had to bake them for a full 24 minutes. Then I placed them on a rack to cool thoroughly before frosting them with a cream cheese frosting (which is apparently the typical frosting for red velvet).

As a final touch, I added semi-sweet chocolate chips to the tops of the cupcakes. The chocolate chips help to set off the chocolate flavor of the red velvety chocolateness.

The final product!

I just ate one. With a fork. It was too tall to fit into my mouth.

Needless to say, I won't be having another after dinner tonight (ribs! yum!). Pretty sure I've had my fill for the day. But that's ok. I'll watch Eric eat his :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot Strawberries

For some reason, the idea of hot strawberries doesn't seem appealing. Maybe it's because I tend to eat my strawberries raw--right out of the fridge (washed, of course). 

The only baked good recipe that I have EVER used strawberries in is pie. The ever famous and delectable Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

You see, I had hurriedly gone grocery shopping when I arrived home from my trip up to Connecticut to visit with family and friends. I didn't leave much in the house, save for some microwaveable meals for the husband, and was in desperate need of some snacky foods for the kid as well as for myself.  I had only meant to do some light shopping, but I stupidly went shopping while hungry. Which leads to copious amounts of purchasing. Like, a cart full. Ugh.

Anyhow, in my hunger-induced shopping frenzy I managed to pick up a bunch of fruit (yay for healthy choices!)...too much fruit (boo for over-buying). We managed to eat nearly all of the grapes as well as some bananas (some had to be frozen for future banana bread making!). Sadly, the container of strawberries remained untouched.

Like any smart momma who has learned from past experiences, I was well aware of the havoc that cut up strawberries can wreak on a cute baby outfit. So, I tend to only give them to her if I feed them to her myself or if I strip her down to a diaper and bib.

Well, the strawberries were definitely no longer in their prime, if you know what I'm sayin'. So, I figured that it would be best if I cut them up and baked them into SOMETHING. I thought about trying out the scone recipe again, this time substituting the blueberries for strawberries. But, I was in the mood for something different. A muffin, perhaps.

I had recently acquired a muffin tin and thought that some strawberry muffins would be good for breakfast the next day. 

Baking commenced.

I used a recipe from, as usual. I used the actual recipe as more of a guide and made some modifications based on the reviews of the original recipe:
1. Added a dash of vanilla
2. Added a dash of cinnamon
3. Added a 1/4cup of brown sugar
4. Cut back a bit on the white sugar

The final product!

I have to say, I'm not really all THAT impressed. I mean, it tasted good, but there was a bit of a funny aftertaste. Bleh.

The hot strawberries were definitely more appetizing than they sound (to me). 

I think that I won't make this particular recipe again. I'll have to hunt down something more to my tastes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Something New and Different

Whoa. I've been slacking. Sorry for the lack of updates! I've actually been trying to sit and write this post for a few days now, but I've been busy preparing for a big trip to the Northeast! Ev and I are going to visit friends and family (and a real mall! and a Dunkin Donuts!).

But, you don't care about that stuff. You only read this blog for one reason and one reason alone. FOOD.

It's totally ok. I completely understand.

The baked good to be highlighted in today's post has been baked by millions of people the world over. In fact, I've even posted an entry already about this classic treat--the ever-scrumptious Chocolate Chip Cookie.

You're probably thinking, "Good Lord, this chick is ridiculous with the chocolate chip cookies." And, you'd be right. BUT, it's always good to have a secondary (read: backup) recipe on hand in case you find yourself in the very predicament that I found myself in the other day.

See, the way that I usually make my cookies involves using a box of vanilla pudding. Sadly, when I felt a hankering coming on for some cookies I scrounged around my pantry for all of the necessary ingredients and found myself pudding-less. *gasp*

The baby was asleep and it wasn't like I could just run out to the grocery store right then and there and I was fixing to pitch a royal fit when I remembered a conversation that I had with another wife on base. Amy has been on a quest to find what she deems the perfect chocolate chip cookie. She prefers a large chewy cookie (as opposed to the soft cake-y ones that I typically make). She mentioned in our conversation that she found a recipe that works for her and she had posted it to her blog (she has a cute blog about her life as a military spouse).

I figured that I could deal with a large chewy chocolate chip cookie. And, after all, beggars can't be choosers (you know what I'm sayin'?).

I quickly searched her blog for the recipe and once I had it in my hot little hand I got down to business. In no way did I alter her recipe as far as mixing ingredients--I did however shorten the refrigeration time. There was no way Ev was going to let me take the time to shove cookie dough into a 1/4 cup measuring cup and smack it out onto the tray for 10min. So, I only chilled the dough for 30min--which turned out to be fine because the dough was firm and not sticky at all!

I'm going to be honest with you, when I tasted these warm out of the oven, I wasn't really all that impressed. It was hard to actually taste a flavor (if that's possible). So, I decided that perhaps once they cooled the flavor would be more discernible. And I was correct!! In fact, these cookies tasted AWESOME the next day! AND they stayed chewy and fresh for a while--three or four days after baking.

Although it was a switch up from my normal recipe, I'm glad I took the dive and tried it out. They're a great cookie and completely different from my other go-to recipe.

I'll definitely be making them again!

As for the recipe, I'm unsure if Amy is ok with me linking to her blog, so I've copied and pasted her recipe here (prepare to be entertained! She's a funny gal!):

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie I Ever Done Made
(Found on Allrecipes) 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups chocolate chips (I used a whole bag. I love me some choco chips.)

1. Preheat the oven to 325. Grease your baking sheet or use parchment paper or whatever floats your boat.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add the vanilla, egg and egg yolk and beat until light and creamy. Stir in the flour mixture, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Stick the batter in the fridge and forget about it for an hour or so. The dough is pretty wet, and sticking it the fridge allows it all to come together and work as a team to become the best darn choco chip cookie on earf.
5. After an hour of pacing around the kitchen and snitching cookie dough, drop the cookie dough by 1/4 cup full (YES 1/4 cup! These are big ol' cookies). Press them down just a bit. Space the cookies apart by 3 inches.
6. Pop the pan in the oven for about 15 minutes. Check them towards the end and pull them out when the edges are starting to become golden. They might not look quite done, but don't overcook these little buddies or you will cry. Take them out and let them cool for a few minutes on the pan before you put them on a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Eat at least one while still warm and gooey and consider starting a new religion designed upon reveling in the glory that is a perfect chocolate chip cookie.

And, of course, the obligatory photo!
See my new cooling rack? No more cooling on paper towels for this chick!
I'm movin' up in the baking world ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It Ain't Called the Best Banana Bread for Nothing!

Purchasing bananas always sounds like a good idea...but then I remember that I'm not a huge fan of bananas. And poor Evie has trouble properly digesting them. Oh, and my husband detests them.

Yet, somehow, I always find myself bringing home a couple every now and then...and inevitably they end up ripening to a nice brownish hue on my countertop. Ugh.

I've been hearing about this banana freezing phenomenon for a few months--my MIL does it, my friend Rita uses them for homemade smoothies, and I've read on the recipe sites that it's a common technique for preserving bananas until you want to use them. So, I started to freeze my brown uneaten bananas.

Yesterday I had a hankering for something homemade and tasty. I didn't have enough butter to make cookies and I'm kind of over brownies right now (this tends to happen if I make brownies too often, gah! It's ok though, I'll be back to my brownie-loving self in a couple of weeks). What's a girl to do??

For some strange reason I decided to look in the freezer, of all places, for possible ingredient ideas and there were four bananas shoved off to the side near the back. Now, I've always liked banana bread. However, I'm constantly on the hunt for The Ultimate Banana Bread Recipe. In general, you really can't bake a terrible batch, but I want to find the recipe that will always be my go-to banana bread recipe. Something simple, easy, and tasty.

Friends, I must confess. I think that I found it!!

Seriously. Not only did it smell like pure unadulterated HEAVEN in my house while it baked, but the taste and consistency were perfect. Not too heavy, just a tad sweet, and just the right amount of banana flavoring.

You see, usually I would go for the recipe on the website that has the most saves and the most reviews (with as close to five stars as the recipe can get). But, I've made that recipe before and I wasn't all that impressed. I kept scrolling down the list of banana bread recipes and I found one that still had a lot of reviews and it seemed SO simple. As usual, I read through the reviews and picked up some tips on what people did to spruce up the recipe and then I got down to business.

I defrosted the bananas, but not all the way. If you defrost them all of the way they get SUPER goopy, so mine were still a bit firm (and absolutely freezing! my poor fingers...) and I cut them up into slices.

I also followed the recipe for the most part only switching the sugar to 1/2cup of white and 1/2cup of brown (I used dark brown).  Oh, and I added a teaspoon of vanilla. And I used all four bananas, not sure how many cups that equates to...

After the recommended hour of baking time had passed my bread was still a bit liquid-y in the middle. Luckily, while reading through the reviews a person had posted that should your bread not be finished after an hour that you should put aluminum foil over the bread (shiny side down) and let it bake for another 5-10min.

I put it in for another 7min with the foil over the top and it came out perfectly! I guess they don't call it the Best Banana Bread for nothing ;)

This recipe is definitely a keeper! You can find it here: