Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nutella Swirl Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

Okay, I'm really excited about these cupcakes!  I remember the first time I was exposed to Nutella.  We had a German exchange student who asked my mom to pick some up at the store.  The rest is history.  Nutella is a permanent fixture in my pantry, but this is the first time I've taken it beyond the realm of spreading it on toast.  And, well, I'm glad I did.  Fair warning though, these are SWEET.  If you don't LOVE Nutella then don't make them.  Because you probably won't eat them all and wasting Nutella should be a sin.  One thing I really like about this recipe is that you can tweak the icing measurements to make it the way you want it.  So when making your frosting, keep in mind you can do whatever you want to it.  I'll put the base recipe in the ingredients list, then put my revisions in the actual recipe.

I did the worst job taking pictures today.  Worse than usual.  Of everything.  The process AND the outcome.  I need a better camera.

Whatevaaaa, here's what you'll need for the cupcakes:
1 box vanilla cake mix prepared according to package directions (You could also use batter from scratch, but I had a bad experience last time I tried cupcakes completely from scratch so I've been a little hesitant to try again) and poured into cupcake pans
Nutella (softened)

1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1/4 cup milk
4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1/2 vanilla extract
1/4 cup Nutella (softened)
Hazelnuts (chopped)

After you've divided your batter into cupcake trays, add about a teaspoon of Nutella to the top of each cup:

Swirl it around with a toothpick.  Easy enough, right?

Bake according to the directions on the cake box.

While those cool, make the frosting.  Start by beating your butter til it's creamy.  Add in 3 cups of the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat together until creamy.  Add in the rest of the powdered sugar and continue beating.  Then add in the softened Nutella and beat until it's smooth and blended together.  Okay, now the fun part- taste test it.  If it's good, skip to the next step.  If it's not, add in what you need to make it taste better for you.  For me this consisted of more Nutella (probably close to twice the amount the recipe called for), an ounce of melted, semi-sweet baking chocolate, and more milk to make it lighter.  Just so you know if you've never made frosting before, more sugar makes it thicker, more milk makes it lighter.  Add either until you get the consistency you want.  Frost your cupcakes:

Garnish with the chopped hazelnuts.  And before I show you a picture of the inside of these things, I need to make it known that neither Wal-Mart nor Food Lion (at least the ones near my house) carries plain hazelnuts. I had to buy a $7 can of mixed nuts to get 18 hazelnuts.  That's all.  It was ridiculous.  And they were salted, so I had to rinse them off before I chopped them.  It was worth it though.  They were really yummy and added a nice texture to the cupcakes :D  Annnnnnnd eat 'em :D

Yummy :D

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cheesecake stuffed strawberries!

After failing at fruit leather and fudge truffle cheesecake (I may or may not share those stories- sooooo not proud of the outcomes), I decided to go super easy for the 4th.  My husband was grilling, so the only thing I was in charge of was dessert.  I decided on some cheese cake stuffed strawberries that I had seen on a blog.  It was probably Food Gawker, but I can't guarantee that.  I figured that with no actual cooking they'd be pretty hard to screw up and I was right!  They're easy, pretty quick, and delicious.  So here's the recipe:

1 pound of strawberries (you could actually probably use a little more than this, but I only had a pound, so that's what I used)
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
about 1/2 a sleeve of graham crackers
some kind of chocolate (I used one square of milk chocolate almond bark, but you could also use candy melts or melted chocolate chips)

First, wash your strawberries, cut off the tops, and cut  out the centers.  I used a small paring knife and it did an okay job, although not as great as I would have wanted.

Beat the softened cream cheese in a bowl with your mixer until it's soft and creamy.  I forgot to take a picture, so this is what it looked like after I added the powdered sugar for the next step.

Add in sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy and well mixed.

Add cheesecake filling to a piping bag, plastic bag with the tip cut off, or, something like I use- a Pampered Chef easy accent decorator (courtesy of my mother who bought it and had no clue how to use it :D ).

Pipe the mixture into the strawberries, and feel free to be really generous with it.

Place graham crackers into a food processor (or stick them in a plastic bag and beat them with a hammer) until they're fine crumbs.

Dip the tops of the strawberries into the graham cracker crumbs so the cheesecake part is covered.

Melt your chocolate and scrape it into a plastic bag and cut the corner off.  Make sure you only cut a tiny piece or else your chocolate drizzles will be really thick.  I mean, if you're into that kind of thing, then cut the corner hole as big as you want, but I think it looks nicer with tiny drizzles.  Also, this is a really cool tip I learned recently.  Put the bag in a cup and fold the top around the sides before you put the melted chocolate in.  This made it SO much easier.  I can't believe all the times I made Josh get off the couch to hold the bag for me when I had everything I needed to do it myself right in my cabinet!

Drizzle the chocolate over the strawberries, let it get hard again in the fridge for a few minutes, and then transfer to a plate to serve!

These were a huge hit, and I was so glad.  I highly recommend making them anytime you need a quick, tasty dessert.

And just because she's adorable, a picture of Clementine from that day (Josh was so sick of taking pictures):

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

It's Clementine's first 4th of July.  This won't mean much to her yet, except that we're grilling out AGAIN and she'll wear a cute little outfit with stars and stripes and have something huge, obnoxious, and red, white, and blue on her cute little (okay, it's actually pretty big) head.  She'll probably be asleep well before any fireworks, and if she's awake for them they'll probably just scare her.  And since we haven't bought any fireworks, this is okay.  We'll leave those to the neighbors.  But even though she won't understand it today, I hope that as she gets older she really understands what it's about- our country's independence and the brave men and women that keep it that way.  I hope she always thanks her daddy for her service.  And her uncle (my brother Dylan).  And her great uncle (my Uncle Brad).  And maybe one day soon her other uncle (my brother-in-law Jeremy).  And her daddy's friends.  They all wear the uniform proudly, and I'm so thankful for them.  And you should be, too.  If you see a member of the military (or a prior member) today, say "Thank you."  It's the least you could do.

And another thing I love about the 4th?  While it's nowhere near as big of a deal, it's also reveal day on CDAN.  I should probably explain that I'm a huge blind gossip junkie.  I love the juicy gossip even if I have to guess who it's about and I may not even be right.  But twice a year, New Year's Day and today, I get to find out if some of my guesses were correct thanks to CDAN.  Every 15 minutes a new blind is revealed.  You can bet I'll be checking my iPhone a LOT today!

And I won't finish this post without something food related.  My cooking endeavors this weekend have been less than perfect (you'll read all about it later), but today I get one more chance.  I'm making cheesecake stuffed strawberries.  They better be delicious.  And if they are, I will blog all about them!  So enjoy your 4th. Be safe.  Don't drink and drive.  Don't be stupid with fireworks.  And check back here in a day or two to read about what I failed at this weekend and what I (hopefully) excelled at.  Food wise, I mean.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Strawberry Honey Butter

You'll never guess where I found this recipe.  Actually that's a lie.  You'll probably take one guess and get it right.  Did you guess Food Gawker?  If so, you win.  It was SO pretty and looked SO good.  And it'd be perfect for bagels.  And it was EASY.  That's probably my second favorite word when it comes to recipe descriptions.  It's only preceded the word reallyfuckingyummy.  I got the recipe from this blog and I couldn't wait to try it out:  Obviously you can click there to get the recipe, but I took pictures throughout the process which that blog lacked.  On to the recipe:

Strawberry Honey Butter

1 pint strawberries, hulled (I buy strawberries by the pound, so I used about half the carton and it turned out perfectly)
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

This is my set up :D

Put the strawberries in the food processor until they're pureed.

Force pureed strawberries through a sieve or fine strainer into a saucepan.  Add the lemon juice and honey.

Boil for three minutes while stirring.

Remove from heat and let it sit until it gets to room temperature.  This seems like it takes forever.  In the meantime I made three types of fruit leather that I may or may not blog about when they're done.  I'll have to see how they turn out.  Anyway, after it cools, pour it into a bowl with the softened butter and mix it together.

I should've taken a picture of the mixing, but I forgot.  So that's all you get.  After it's mixed, put it into small mason jars and let it sit for an hour so the flavors can "develop".  I'm not going to lie.  I tasted it before the hour was up.  It was awesome.  Here's the finished product.

This recipe made just under a pint.  I'll definitely be making it again!

It's super easy and delicious.  Try it out and let me know in the comments how it goes!

I'm also going to make a fudge truffle cheesecake tonight or tomorrow, and I'll definitely blog about it, so keep an eye out!  

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Coming Clean About my Porn Addiction

Now before you start judging, I'm not talking about a normal porn addiction.  No naked sweaty bodies on this computer screen, no sirree.  I'm addicted to a far worse kind of porn- food porn.  Don't know what it is?  I've taken the liberty of finding you the Urban Dictionary meanings of it.  This is my personal favorite:

5. taking mouthwatering pictures of delicious foods and proliferating them throughout various social media websites as status updates, thus tempting all those not even currently hungry into getting a food hard- on and getting food-horny and blowing all of their heroic dieting efforts to hell

Yep, that about explains it.  I recently discovered a website called StumbleUpon and it introduced me to the most epic collection of food porn I have ever seen- Food Gawker.  Food Gawker immediately became my new favorite website.  Pages upon pages upon pages of pictures of delicious looking food.  And if you click the pictures, nine times out of ten it takes you to a recipe.  This is the best website I've ever seen!  I spend hours clicking around and salivating and coming up with recipes I want to try, most of which are desserts.  

But it's a double edged sword, that Food Gawker.  The clearly visible frustration from my husband when he glances over at me from the love seat and says incredulously, "You're still looking at food?!"  "But Josh, it looks so good!  Look, it's a cupcake stuffed strawberry!  It's homemade Nutella pop-tarts!  It's a patriotic, alcoholic Jell-O mold!  Why would I not still be looking?!"  He sighs and returns to whatever sport he was watching on TV, and I continue to surf through the pages, clicking on the things that interest me and wondering to myself if I'm good enough to actually make them- until the baby starts crying.  No worries, I change her diaper, stick her on the boob, and continue my journey through food porn addict heaven.

Now I'm not sure if there's a cure for my addiction.  I'm also not sure if it's an addiction that needs to be cured.  But I do know this-  I'm making a fudge truffle cheesecake this weekend, and it's going to be delicious.  And my wonderful husband has decided he might just get me a Kitchenaid stand mixer for our anniversary in August instead of making me wait until it's my combination birthday and Christmas present.  Maybe he's an enabler, but I'm fine with that.  I like my addiction, and he likes trying what I bake.  Win win.  And the fact that he can take what I bake to work to share so it doesn't tempt me from the kitchen counter when I'm SO CLOSE to being back down to prepregnancy weight (thanks for that 45 pounds, Clementine.....and Ben.  And Jerry.) makes it a win win win.  Charlie Sheen would be proud.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My first ever blog post!

I guess I'm blogging now.  I created this page a few days ago and then I just kind of sat on it.  What should I write about?  And better yet, who'd actually want to read about it?  But alas, here I sit, typing for readers that probably won't even read this because I'm probably not that interesting.  Anyway, I should probably briefly introduce the two main people who will show up regularly in my blog- Josh and Clementine.  Josh is my husband.  He's in the Army and he's super awesome.  He was the one who gave me the title of Household 6 way before I started taking care of business the way I do now.  I guess he had high hopes for me, and I really hope I'm living up to them.  Together we have a super gorgeous daughter, the aforementioned Clementine.  She's almost 5 months old and being her mother is by far the most amazing job I've ever had.  I know a lot of people say they have really good babies, but most of them are probably lying.  I actually do have a really good baby.  She's so smiley and happy.  In pictures-

And I guess I should show you who I am, too:
(I swear I'm not 15.  No matter how young I look, I can actually legally buy alcohol.)
And this is my favorite picture from her newborn shoot:
She is.....words cannot adequately describe just how incredibly perfect. 

We also have 2 chihuahuas that complete our family.  They used to be great.  Now they're jealous of the baby and they're more obnoxious than anything.  Oh well, I guess you can't have it all.

Anyway, enough of that.  I decided to start my blog tonight after I made dinner.  I should probably put it out there that unless it's dessert, I don't eat half of what I cook.  My husband on the other hand will eat anything.  This isn't a big deal.  It works in our household.  I make him what he wants, and I eat a Lean Cuisine.  Or cookies.  Whatever.  Tonight he wanted chicken tacos.  Well, we didn't have much of what the recipe (okay, it was the one on the box of the taco kit) called for (am I the only person who doesn't keep squash and black beans just sitting around my house?), but I wanted to do more than just chicken and sauce in a taco shell.  So I started scouring the fridge and pantry to come up with some way to make the tacos special.  Upon opening the taco box, I realized the taco shells were all broken.  I ended up breaking them all onto a cookie sheet.  I coated chicken breasts in olive oil, salt, pepper, and taco seasoning and threw them on the George Foreman until they were done.  I dumped the Rotel and corn I found in the pantry into a frying pan, mixed with taco sauce and the chicken breasts I had just sliced up and heated them all together.  I scooped it all over the broken taco shells, covered it with cheese, and stuck it in the oven at 500 until the cheese melted.  When it came out I covered it in lettuce, sour cream, taco sauce, and hot sauce.  And according to my husband it was REALLY good.  To me, it looked really gross:
This definitely is not the best looking or best tasting or even most interesting food I'll ever blog.  You probably have zero interest in trying to recreate this.  That's not the point of this entry.  In future entries there way more interesting, pretty, yummy things that will make you say "OMG I NEED THAT."  But not this one.  This one is because I realized this is what makes me feel so much like a wife.  Throwing out the recipes (I swear, this only happens once in a blue moon) and throwing stuff together myself.  Not knowing how things will turn out and having Josh rave over them.  I can't explain it.  It sounds weird.  I know it does.  But it's true.  I feel like I'm fulfilling my wifely duties even more so than when I plan out a meal and buy everything I need directly from a list.  It's a really nice feeling.  I guess it's a feeling worth dedicating an entire blog entry to.  I was going to write about some other stuff, too, but instead I'm going to go eat some fried ravioli because it's late, and well, I'm a foodie.