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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Recipes from your family are the best kinds of recipes. Tried and true they have been around years sometimes decades and centuries and are your favorite recipes. Because they bring back memories of when your family all gathered around to eat whatever it was that was made.

I feel like this with my family recipes at least.
When I finished college and finally had my own apartment my mother made me a book with all our family recipes in it. Ones from my grandmother and great-grandmother, and even more Americanized recipes from my mother. Foods that I loved eating as a child and into my teen years and well into my adult years.
When I was at the Public Market Saturday I saw some of the vendors selling the first homegrown zucchini of the season. I bought some (5 for $1.00) and normally my first thought would be to marinate and grill it for dinner one night. However, on Saturday my first thought when buying it was to make my grandmother's Chocolate Zucchini Bread.

And boy, oh boy, am I glad that was my first thought. I haven't had it in years and I loved watching my sons face when I gave him a mini-muffin (made from the leftover batter).

Here is the recipe (as hand-written by my mother). Enjoy!




Bread Baker, Bread Baker, Make Me Some Bread!




So do you see this????

I have had this breadmachine for almost 4 years. I received it as a Christmas gift almost 4 years ago. I gift that I asked for. I bought all the ingredients and made bread for Christmas dinner.

When the timer beeped I went to get the bread out and it was hard as a rock. Disappointed (and pissed off), I threw the bread out and stuck the bread machine in the basement where it has sat since that time.

On the 4th of July my husband and I were unpacking some boxes in the basement when I came across the bread machine and the manual. Of course I went all like "OOOOOOOHHHHHHHH my bread machine!" Totally forgetting about my last debacle with making bread.

Then yesterday when I took the boys to Wegmans I ran down the baking aisle and saw on display this...

Of course, knowing I did not have the ingredients to make homemade bread I bought the box swearing at how I knew it was going to fail because the machine is stupid, and hates me and why can't I learn to make bread the normal way.

Okay, when I say the normal way I am thinking back to when I was in the 3rd grade and our teacher Mrs. Tantillo did a theme around some book where Mrs. Hen wants to make the bread and she asks who wants to help and no one does so she Cracks The Wheat, and Grinds the Flour and Kneads The Bread and etc etc. At the very end everyone wants to eat the bread though and Mrs. Hen won't let them because her chicken ass did all the work!

Well anyway, I remember after that book Mrs. Tantillo showed us how to make real, homemade bread that we kneaded with our own hands. Which now looking back kind of grosses me out because who wants 30 sets of 3rd grader hands in their bread?

But I digress...

Back to trying to make my bread again in my machine.

I followed the instructions, and 3 hours later when I came home from having the boys haircut my house smelled so wonderful! And I had a fresh, homemade, perfect loaf of bread!

I recommend it to anyone with a bread machine and no time. (The box was $2.49 compared to the cost of buying bread flour, yeast, dry milk etc.)






Thursday, July 12, 2007

Can I Have S'More Please?


When I started Cake Crazed at the Rochester Public Market my main thought was I wanted to theme my cupcakes around the seasons and holidays. So what better way to celebrate Summer than good old fashioned S'mores.

You know S'mores. I think everyone has a memory of being around a campfire with a pack of graham crackers, marshmallows and a hershey bar. Even restaurants now sell gourmet versions of s'mores. That chocolately, marshmallowy, sticky goodness.

Yummmm.

For this week I themed our Cupcake of the Week the S'more Cupcake. I used the recipe found in Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella (the best cupcake book!). You start with her recipe for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (found here... http://crazyaboutcupcakes.com/recipes.htm). I only had on hand 1 cup of mini chocolate chips so instead of the 1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips I used my SS mini ones instead. I made her Marshmallow Frosting recipe and began to assemble.

Wow!

What a sticky, gooey mess!

I had marshmallow frosting everywhere! She says in her recipe for the s'more cupcakes to assemble, frosting, graham cracker, chocolate fudge, marshmallow and another graham cracker on top. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I had to simplify it just a little bit. So I did frosting, graham cracker, dollop of frosting and then grated sem-sweet baking chocolate. And actually I did some just plain with a graham cracker on top.

I packed them up for the market and saved one to try. I was getting a little frustrated trying to peel off the wrapper...I mean literally there was dripping marshmallow frosting everywhere! The wrapper kept sticking to my fingers and finally comes the moment of truth. I bit into my s'mores cupcake.

The heavens opened, the angels sang, I think even at one point I heard harp music coming from somewhere in the Cupcake Heaven.

The cupcakes are delicious!
I was quite impressed with just how easy they were, sure I had a ton of dishes to do when it came to being done but they were worth the extra work. Not bad I think for my first "from scratch" cupcake. (I have always started with a cake mix as a base).

I know they are sticky, and gooey and messy, not what I think about wanting when it comes to a cupcake but it's exactly what I think about when I think about a s'more.

And if that doesn't say summer, I don't know what does!
On an afternote, today is my 31st Birthday! And I told my husband I would not make my own birthday cake...but I never said anything about Cupcakes!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Our Flag Was Still There!


Hmmmmmmmm 4th of July!

A time for family get togethers, barbecues and fireworks.

And rain, a full, heavy, non-stop rain!

At least in my neck of the woods. So that meant no get together, no barbecues and no fireworks.

So instead I made these, I am calling them (for lack of better idea), my Red White & Blue Layered Firecracker cupcakes.

Nothing special for a recipe, just plain old white box cake mix. After mixing ingredients I took 1 1/3 cup of batter, added 1/2 teaspoon of red to get the red. And then did the same for the blue. (Leaving the white alone). Then I layered them in the cupcake liner and baked.

The icing is standard vanilla buttercream, piped through Tip #233 (to resemble a firework)!

Easy enough!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Craving A Margarita


My husband has me hooked lately on Margarita's. It must be the sweet combined with that salt! Gotta love Margarita Salt.

At any rate, I decided to make Margarita Cupcakes. I have been meaning to try this recipe for a couple of weeks now and just now got around to doing them. It was easy enough (aside from extra steps with the grating of the key lime zest and fresh key lime juice). They tasted incredible.

My only complaint would be the fact that that Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting was overpowering to the actual Margarita Cupcake. I had to get a bite of just cake to really taste the flavor but they are still delicious no matter what.

My one tweak to the recipe is I did not put the sugar around the cupcake (like a Margarita glass) because I did not want to make them too incredibly sweet. So instead I grated some extra Key Lime Zest and sprinkled them.

I also refrigerated them due to the cream cheese frosting and they held up just fine!

Margarita Cupcakes with a Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
1 package (18.25 oz. white cake mix (no pudding in the mix)
1 can (10 oz.) frozen Margarita mix, thawed (undiluted)
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes.

Directions
In large bowl, combine cake mix, Margarita mix, egg whites and vegetable oil using electric mixer. Stir in lime zest; mix completely. Fill prepared pans 2/3 full. Bake 22-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling rack 5-8 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely. Frost cooled cupcakes with icing and garnish, if desired, with a strawberry and/or lime twist

Key Lime Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons key lime juice
1 teaspoon key lime zest or lemon zest
4-5 cups confectioners' sugar
Yield: Makes about 3 cups icing.

Directions
In large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, juice and zest with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add 4 cups confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time; continue beating until light and fluffy.
If icing is too thin add additional confectioners' sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.