Friday, February 15, 2008

Catching Up

I have written about three or four unpublished half posts since my last one. I never could get a complete thought out. I have just been busy this week. Busy using my Food Network 4-in1 Grill! Here's the rundown: waffles on Saturday, eight grilled cheese sandwiches at once on Sunday (you can imagine what a thrill that was, I actually got to sit down and eat at the same time as everyone else!), pork tenderloins with rosemary pesto that turned out fabulously tender on the indoor grill on Monday, and turkey with sundried tomato mustard panini sandwiches on Tuesday. That covers the four functions pretty well and then I mostly started on Valentine's cupcakes on Wednesday so I was otherwise occupied. But I have to say that I am really delighted with my new appliance-y thingy. Do you need this? No. But if you have a big credit at Kohl's and need a waffle iron anyway and there is a big home sale at the time, I highly recommend it :)

So I have promised a lot of things in the past: recipes for cupcakes, pictures from the kids' birthday parties where said recipes were served, pictures of the Christmas wreaths I made, etc. We all know that I am not a picture-y blogger. Last fall we got a digital camera from my dad when he got some sort of gift for working at his office for 15 years. He always passes these things on to us, things like portable DVD players, digital cameras, etc., because he "doesn't want to fool with them." My parents don't even know how to record something with their VCR! Anyway, it was a reputedly nice camera, but it never worked. I guess we got a dud. Normally, if you had paid money for such a thing you would take it to the store and get a different one. When it is a free gift from your dad's company it is hard to know what to do. So that is a rabbit trail about why I never have pictures on my blog. Oh, let's hop over here too! I do have a digital camera that some of our friends sent us when they upgraded. The thing about it is that the battery only lasts about 20 minutes so I can't be carrying it around all day long. Plus, we have such a nice film camera that I would rather get the best shots with the better quality camera, even if that means not having pictures on the blog.

However, I did finally get some wreath pictures about a month ago right before I took them down. And while Lauren just today posted a link to the icing I used for the kids' birthday parties and yesterday for Valentine's Day, I feel I should go ahead and post all three recipes in one spot so you can cut, paste, and print oh so easily. Trust me, you will want to do so; these are so yummy! I am going to put the wreath pictures on at long last, and then maybe eventually I will put my Valentine's flower arrangement pictures up- oh, let's say in time for Fourth of July? I didn't think anything of it because I was sure I had seen it somewhere before, but the three people who know about it, my husband who watched me put it together, my mother-in-law who received it as a gift, and my sister with whom I swapped Valentine's Day stories this morning over the phone, all seemed somewhat impressed. I wish I had taken a picture, but maybe I can get over to my mother-in-law's house and snap one before the flowers die and put it on here soon. Then you can all tell me that you have seen it done before after all!

These are the cupcakes I made for Elspeth's birthday party. The recipe for Dark Chocolate Cupcakes is taken from Cook's Illustrated number seventy-three (March and April 2005) which says that the recipe does not double well.
It yields 12, so bummer.

8T unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. Dutch processed cocoa
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 c. sour cream

- Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 350. Line standard sized muffin pan with paper liners.
-Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside and cool until just warm to touch.
-Whisk flour, soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.
-Whisk eggs in second medium bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift one third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogenous and thick.
-Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until skewer inserted in middle comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.
-Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove from pan onto wire rack for 30 more before icing with buttercream frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream is from Magnolia Bakery in New York City. There is a cookbook, but I found this recipe online. Maybe I should get the cookbook too? The Vanilla Cupcakes recipe that follows is also from the same website and bakery. We made these for Valentine's Day with pink icing and for Amabel's birthday, also with pink icing, but inside flat bottomed ice cream cones.These are another of those things that I was pretty sure I had seen done before, but was flattered by the praise I received anyway. And well, everybody loves an "atta girl" every now and then! It was hard to find a decent picture where you could actually tell what I made. I chose this one because you can also see the ice cream sandwiches I made. Those are pretty self explanatory, bake cookies, scoop ice cream onto cooled cookies, roll sides in sprinkles. The favorite was a tie between M&M cookies (which was just the Nestle Tollhouse recipe with M&M's instead of chocolate chips) with vanilla ice cream and sugar cookies with some sort of bizarre Edy's limited edition American Idol ice cream rolled in colored sprinkles. The other one was a double chocolate cookie that I thought was just okay with moose tracks ice cream on it. Well, those would have been super if it hadn't been for the cookie. Anyway, the cupcakes are the point.

Vanilla Cupcakes (yields 24)
1 1/2 c. self rising flour (yes, I know, I don't buy self rising flour either. try 1 1/2c. all purpose flour, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder for the equivalent of 1 1/2c. self rising flour)
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 c. milk at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
-Combine flours and set aside.
-combine milk and vanilla and set aside.
-Cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients in 3 parts alternating with milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until ingredients are incorporated, but don't over mix.
-Spoon batter into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.
-Cool in pan for 15 minutes; then remove to wire racks to cool completely before icing with Vanilla Buttercream.

Vanilla Buttercream
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
6-8 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
-Place butter, then 4c. sugar, then milk and vanilla in mixing bowl. Beat 3-5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition, until desired consistency.

Last but not least, the wreath pictures. I'm just catching up today, y'all. I know if you ever want to find these you will be going crazy looking in December. But just remember I am always late. That really should be the title of my blog, it is the one true thing about Abby you know! Well, with that in mind, either I'm 54 days late or an optimistic 311 days early with these! There were two of the circular wreaths, one on each big window out front. And I made the E by having George clip off a quarter section of two different circular wreath forms and wiring them together; then I just covered them with fir trimmings like the other two. Other letters that would work well are C and S. I also used the same cutie polka dot ribbon around the brown paper I wrapped around the bottoms of my winter rose poinsettias. I figured these are Valentine-y enough so I still have them up. They are on their last leg though; they don't look nearly so pretty as they did when this picture was taken! I have had them on either side of my old "mantel" which is really the top of an old door frame I bought from a salvage yard. I like the beat up look you know. I guess I value things that have weathered a few storms even if they aren't classically beautiful any longer. I've got a house full of these kinds of things! The painting on the mantle was one George did for me while we were dating. I really should get a better frame for it though. The silver E was one I picked up at the same salvage yard; it had been used among the lettering on a post office that had been torn down. And I guess that's enough blogging for today!


Anonymous said...
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Danita said...

I found your blog by cliking on 'next blog' bottom, and I'm impressed :D I haven't read so much, but I decided to write you first and then read.
I loved the things you've cooked :) They look like very very tasty (I don't know if it's right to say tasty or tasteful; I guess it's tasty, but I'm sorry if I make a mistake).

Well, I'll keep on reading.


Wrights said...

I love all your pictures. Your cupcakes are so cute! You need to have a bakery someday. And your wreaths were adorable too, as are your children! I like your style. Also, I meant to comment a few days ago. I read your post about de-cluttering and I can relate. It is encouraging to hear what you had to say and that the Lord is working on those areas. Gives me hope! Thanks for sharing. I always like to read your blog because you are so honest and that is SOOOO freeing. I am having major issues right now with people being fake and it's making me nuts. You will be a wonderful pastor's wife because you are honest and kind. You remind me so much of our pastor's (who just moved on from our chuch --so sad) wife and I LOVED her. She was my most favorite pastor's wife we've ever had and she so reminded me of you--maybe that's why I liked her so much. I guess I should tend to my sick children. I just plopped them in front of Barney because I had to have 5 minutes of no whining.

RHB said...

yeah, our brand new digital camera's battery only lasts for about 20 minutes too- I think it's just one of those things

Fittsy said...

love the wreaths - great creativity and execution! too bad i'm an F! and the cupcakes look delicious too.


annie said...

I'm so glad that you're loving the new sandwich/waffle maker. Those turkey sandwiches sound great. Could I get the recipe? And, thanks for the cupcake recipe, too. I'll definitely file that one away.

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lauren said...

ooooh, you had me at dark chocolate. i'll have to try those for a special occasion.

LOVE the wreaths too! i'm going to try those this year.

Abby said...

so the first comment and the one above said things about anitvirus something or another, but they are viruses. i stupidly clicked on the first one on Friday night and all kinds of things went haywire- something about Trojan horses. i know nothing about viruses, but i think i need to put the word id on here again, as big as a pain as it is.

And thanks all of you for your compliments and encouragement!
rebekah, you are just so sweet. thank you!
and rebekah f, i sort of stole the idea from Southern Living where they had these horrible looking letters cut out of florist foam and decorated with fruit. I wouldn't have thought of a monogram earlier, but you could probably do a florist foam f and make it look way better than they did.
annie, i already told you this yesterday i think, but if anyone else is wondering, i just processed sundried tomatoes with my favorite "gourmet" mustard. and Saturday we mixed pesto with a little mayo and had that on roast chicken and mozzarella. Maybe one day you can come over for a panini lunch, annie :)

Olive said...

oh I like that last picture! I always wondered what ya'll looked like! I can't really tell, but I can see you a little bit- wait that is you, right?- and it's fun to see a peek.


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