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Thursday, October 27, 2011

"The Internet: it's a pumpkin patch that's impossible to get thrown out of."

This girl is ril ridiculous. 

I feel like this clip is a good way to move into autumn-themed recipes and what that means for me. I'll go ahead and warn you that pumpkin and I are not BFFs. And no, it's not just because I worry that some attention-hungry teenager in booty jorts has put her paws all over my food.

Florida fans ruin everything.

There's just something about the texture that throws me off, especially with pumpkin pie. That being said, I'm going to try to be adventurous and try some new things with pumpkin this year. I'm super interested in combining it with chocolate. I also want to make pumpkin muffins of some sort. We'll just see how this goes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 2 (or just how far I'll go for cupcakes)

I did so much walking while in NYC. On Friday I went out and did some exploring to bookstores, bakeries and other random shops that caught my eye. I was using my phone to figure out where to go next and also look around and see if there were places in the area that seemed especially interesting. Prior to this trip I came up with a list of bakeries I wanted to try to hit. I found most of these bakeries from years of following Cupcakes Take The Cake. Some of these bakeries I've wanted to go to since high school (about 5 years ago) and other I've stumbled upon more recently.
One that I've always wanted to go to is BIlly's Bakery. However when I planned the trip I cut it for time reasons. very sad but necessary. Well. As I wandered around Friday morning I realized I had extra time and Billy's was only about 1.5 miles away from where I was. No biggie, right? Wrong. Those city blocks are really long. Plus I had a bag full of books. Oh, and my brand new, super cute boots were digging into my feet and giving me huge blisters. But I went anyways. Have I mentioned I love cupcakes?

I got there and couldn't help but grin like a fool. It smelled so. good. (They pump the smell out into the street. no lie.)
(Yep. I documented everything. The bakery was small and the owners looked at me life I was crazy. I tried to explain but I don't think they got it.)

I ended up getting a vanilla/vanilla, banana with cream cheese, and pumpkin with cream cheese icing.
(my first cupcakes in NYC!)

The banana and pumpkin were so. good. I loved the cream cheese icing. It was great because it wasn't super sweet, overly creamy, etc. It was the perfect blend. The banana was my favorite because not only did it have the great cream cheese icing but the cake itself was also really good. Very banana-y. I'm big on the cake part of cupcakes and this one did not disappoint. It was the perfect balance of moist and dry- not too far on either end of the spectrum.

(the vanilla, vanilla)

The Vanilla cake with vanilla icing (aka Yellow Daisy) was my least favorite. It just wasn't really anything special, although it was pretty. It also didn't help that I ate this cupcake the next day so it was really dry, although I was surprised by hor dry it got in a super short amount of time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cupcakes in the City- take 1

So last weekend I had the chance to go to NYC for a few days. And it. was. great. Obviously I went to several bakeries. I hit Billy's Bakery, Baked by Melissa, Crumbs, Sprinkles, Laduree, and another Crumbs. I also got cheesecake at Juniors. Plus all kinds of other yummy foods- including a wonderful dinner in Little Italy.

Of course, no trip to NYC would be complete without a little Anderson Cooper stalking searching. I tried to figure out in what part of Manhattan he hangs out, but no luck. I really love that he lives away from the spotlight for the most part, but a few helpful hints would have been nice!! Unfortunately, my quest to see Anderson was far less successful than my search for treats in the city that never sleeps.

And so, the bakery round up begins. On my first night I went to Juniors. I've been here before and had the Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake. It was wonderful. A lay of rich and delicious chocolate mousse on top of a layer of original cheesecake. Bliss. This may or may not have been my dinner while waiting at JFK for my flight...

Let's not talk about the nutrition info involved here, k? Great.

This time I decided to go with just a cheesecake, rather than a cheesecake/other desert combo. I couldn't decide between pumpkin cheesecake (which was so perfect for a cool, fall night) and chocolate swirl. Eventually my love of chocolate won out so the chocolate swirl it was!

The crust was much more cake-y than the cheesecake crusts that I'm use to. Typically I use cookies to make my crusts and the cheesecakes I've eaten in the past have had cookie or graham cracker crusts. Yummy, but different. The actual cheesecake was really good but again different. It wasn't super rich but was still really good. It was also more crumbly than dense.

As much as I enjoyed this cheesecake, if I had to do it over again I would probably get the pumpkin. I have become a big fan of pumpkin food in the past few years so I think the combination of pumpkin and cheesecake would be heavenly.

Next up- Cupcakes!!

The Italian Elvis: Banana Nutella Muffins with Chocolate Chips

These muffins were an adventure.

First of all, this was the first muffin recipe that I've ever made form scratch.

Second, I had some banana issues. You really need nice ripe bananas for baking projects, but I let mine get too ripe and didn't want to poison anyone, so I had to get new ones. It's easy to spot a baker because s/he always digs around for the sketchy bananas and is disappointed when they're all pretty.

Unfortunately, these weren't in the produce basket at my community store.

Third, I'll be up-front with you and confess that I improvised a lot with these while I was mixing and measuring, so a few measurements are guesstimates. Anything with Nutella, bananas and chocolate chips will turn out delicious, though.

Now to the recipe! 

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz. vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
4 bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz. chocolate chips
A jar of 4 tablespoons Nutella

Beat together butter, sugar, eggs and milk. Add in the yogurt and milk and whisk together.

This reminded me of an inverse egg.

Asante sana, squash banana.

Mix the mashed bananas into the yogurt mixture.

Fold in your dry ingredients.

When it looks like this:

Add the Nutella.

When it's just incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips. Mix until everything is barely blended.

Deliciously unattractive
Spoon into a lined or greased cupcake pan.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

They were very moist but still had that dense crumbliness that I wanted. I'd definitely make them again.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Anderson Cooper's weird eating habits

Enjoy that screenshot.

I feel very tempted to call BS on the Coops never drinking coffee. If journalism school has taught me anything it's that:

a. Facebook makes research so much easier.


b. journalists can't function without coffee.

Also, Brussels sprouts are freaking delicious, especially sauteed with butter, bacon, or anything that will significantly decrease their nutritional value.

So nutritious (Recipe here)

I have two muffin recipes to share soon. I'd never made muffins from scratch before last week, but I think they were successful!