Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Second Anniversary Honey!

Best two years ever!
Love you + 1

A... B... Cupcakes!

I've decided to start a new project involving, yep you guessed it - cupcakes! I have called my little project A... B... Cupcakes! Cute ha! I will make a cupcake for every letter in the alphabet and just to make it that little bit more interesting - you guys get to decide what flavour each cupcake should be.

So this week we get to choose from flavours starting with the letter A. Vote for the flavour you would like to see baked using the poll on the left hand side. The choices this week are:

Angel food cake

I think this is going to be a lot of fun.

Oh and by the way - isn't Clive looking cute with his little black board!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Baking Mondays - Chocolate Cupcakes

The KitchenAid has officially been broken in! Last night I baked chocolate cupcakes using Martha Stewart's one bowl recipe (thanks to Cassie from How to Eat a Cupcake for posting the recipe). It was an incredibly easy recipe and using my KitchenAid made mixing it up a breeze! Loved it!

I really wanted to make a chocolate swiss meringue buttercream, but it wasn't to be. By the time I got around to baking it was too late in the evening and I ran out of time. So I just made a normal chocolate buttercream since that is always quick and easy. The KitchenAid gave it such a good consistency - way better than the old hand beaters. Next time I need a buttercream though I will definitely be going the swiss meringue route - I need to know what it tastes like and how good the texture is - can't wait to experiment!

So the rating?

Me - 7/10, cake was moist and had a good texture, I think I could be a bit richer though. Also normal buttercream is getting boring - I think I need to move on :P

Mat - 5/10, cake was moist and good, but he isn't a huge fan of chocolate. The buttercream is way too sweet and overpowering.

Voting is open...

Voting is now open for Iron Cupcake Earth! If you feel so inclined please cast me a vote at http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com/ (see the poll on the right hand side).

Thanks guys!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

She has arrived...

That's right - my KitchenAid is here :). I'm going to give her a whirl tomorrow and I can't wait! I am going to bake some chocolate cupcakes and then make my first ever batch of chocolate swiss meringue buttercream - I hope it goes well. I'm still considering name options for the KitchenAid, Ivonne popped in my head, but I'm not sure about that - I think I'll decide after I give her a spin tomorrow afternoon.

In other news Mat and I have been discussing potential a potential cupcake business - I have some research to do!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

101 in 1001 days - Update

For those of you who are unaware, I am attempting to complete a list of 101 things in 1001 days. This not so little project that I started 2 weeks ago is going pretty well, but there are a few areas of concern:

2. Stop chewing fingernails - that hasn't happened yet, I guess a habit you have been trying to break since you were in primary school is going to take a while.

4. Get some form of exercise at least 4 days a week - well 5 out of 8 isn't bad, some days are just so busy with home, Zoe, study and life in general.

7. Eat a healthy diet - I've been a bit naughty some days.

8. Stop swearing - again I am naughty.

9. Drink at least 2-3L of water a day - did I mention I was naughty?

44. Vacuum at least once a week - whoops! I was supposed to do that today, but after a sleep in the rest of the day kind of went down hill.

76. Do a clean up once a fortnight (garden) - my plan was to do that today, but it was raining so that didn't happen.

All in all though I would say that I am going quite well with it and I am quite enjoying checking things off the list at the end of each day, and yes I am that sad.

I'll leave you with some photos from number 5 on the list (get outside every day):

Monday, March 23, 2009

Baking Mondays - Deluxe Hazelnut Cupcakes (ICE Entry)

This is my first ever entry into Iron Cupcake - and I have to say that it was a lot of fun! The theme this month was Nuts and Seeds. There were so many flavour options to choose from, caramel and pecan, macadamia and white chocolate, orange and poppyseed, peanut butter and jelly, the list goes on. I decided to settle on chocolate and hazelnut for my flavours and I have to say that is definitely a winning combination! These cupcakes turned out wonderfully - absolutely delicious! They are a moist hazelnut cake, filled with Nutella cream, topped with vanilla buttercream and crushed hazelnuts, then drizzled with dark chocolate ganache.

Here is one of the cupcakes:

A cross section of one of the cupcakes:

The recipes:

Hazelnut Cupcakes (taken from The Baker's Dozen Cookbook)
Made 29 cupcakes :)

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped (+1 cup extra for topping)
2 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/2 tsp salt
226g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
  1. Preheat to 180 degrees celsius. Line 3 12 hole muffin trays.
  2. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process 1/4 cup of the chopped hazelnuts with 1/4 cup flour until the hazelnuts are finely ground, almost a powder. Transfer to a medium bowl. Sift the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl and whisk to mix. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is lighter in color, about 45 seconds. Add the granulated sugar in a steady stream, then stop the machine and scrape down the bowl. Return to medium speed and beat, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is very light in color and texture, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Gradually, about a tablespoon at a time, beat in the eggs. Continue beating until the mixture is ivory-colored. The entire process of adding and beating the eggs should take 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla toward the end of mixing.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low. In four additions, add the flour mixture, alternating with three additions of the yogurt. After each addition, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup of the remaining hazelnuts. Spread the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.
  6. Bake until the tops spring back when pressed lightly and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, around 15 minutes (but my oven is crazy so this may vary).
  7. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes before removing from the muffin trays.

Nutella Cream
4 tbsp Nutella
300ml thickened cream

Whip Nutella and cream together until light and fluffy.

Vanilla Buttercream
250g butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp thickened cream
  1. Beat butter until light and fluffy, add vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  2. Add the icing sugar one cup at a time beating well with each addition.
  3. Add the thickened cream and beat to combine.

Chocolate Ganache
250g dark chocolate, chopped
150ml thickened cream
  1. Put dark chocolate in a bowl.
  2. Bring the cream to the boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as boiling point is reached.
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts.
  4. Leave to cool slightly before using.
To put it all together cut a small cone out of the top of each cupcake, spoon in the nutella cream and replace the cone of cake. Pipe on the vanilla buttercream, top with some crushed hazelnuts and drizzle with chocolate ganache.

So the verdict?

Me - 9/10, these were yum, yum, yum! I think the only improvement would be to use a swiss meringue buttercream.
Mat - 10/10, these is his favourite cupcake so far!

Voting opens at http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com on March 29th - so please vote for me if you think the cupcakes look good!

The prizes for Iron Cupcake this month are:
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, http://www.fiestaproducts.com, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com, JESSIE STEELE APRONS http://www.jessiesteele.com; TASTE OF HOME books, http://www.tasteofhome.com; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM http://www.upwithcupcakes.com/. Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, http://www.1800flowers.com . And as a special thank you, we would like to once again thank DIANAEVANS - http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5599270 for her participation in the February challenge. An incorrect link was posted and we want to be sure that she gets the recognition she deserves. Thanks again Diana!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

One thing to check off of my kitchen wish list...

That's right people - I am getting a KitchenAid! I have longed for one for some time now. I think the novelty of using hand beaters for all my baking adventures has definitely worn off. I was going to squirrel away a little bit of money each week to save up for my mixer, but my ever so lovely husband told me that we could afford one right now! So I went online and ordered my very own KitchenAid. I chose the colour Ice since my future dream kitchen is going to be turquoise and red themed. It will be quite lovely when it becomes a reality, but that will be some time away.

I can't wait until it arrives it is going to make baking so much more enjoyable - and I will finally be able to make some swiss meringue butter cream. I'll have to give her a name once she joins the household too - there is something to think about!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spider situation

Today I had a spider situation. I was opening the curtains in the dining room to let in some sunshine when I saw a baby huntsman spider. That didn't scare me too much, I just decided that I would get the fly spray and kill it. But then I look over to the right and big mumma huntsman was staring at me!!! Cue me screaming and carrying on like a lunatic. I called Mat for spider killing advice (unfortunately if a spider enters my house it must die you see, but normally Mat kills them for me - hence the phone call). Mat suggested that I put shoes on, get the fly spray and have another shoe in my hand ready to strike. So after a lot of screaming and running around like a crazy woman, the spider was squished and in the bin. So ends the spider situation.

On to happier things - Just Because I am Me is holding a give away for a pretty frilly green apron. You have to be in it to win it, so pop on over if you have some time.

ETA: For those of you who don't know this is what a huntsman spider looks like - yuck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

5 months today

My beautiful Little Z is 5 months old today. How fast that time has flown by! I love my little Zoe more and more each day, and it seems at the moment she has new trick to show off every day. Lately she has learnt to blow raspberries (kinda), roll over from back to tummy, rotate in a circle when having tummy time, giggle and squeal with delight, suck on her toes, touch faces, look at herself in the mirror and so many more things that I am probably forgetting.

Happy 5 month day Zoe :o)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Slack Blogger

You may have noticed that I have been quite a slack blogger recently. I do have an excuse and that is study + family = no free time. I hope to get better organised soon so that I can give my blog the attention it deserves, I miss posting daily.

Baking Mondays - Orange Cupcakes

This week I decided to make some orange flavoured cupcakes to use up the few oranges that I have lying around. I used this recipe from CupcakeRecipes.com.

For once I actually followed the recipe exactly, so there are no notes to go with these cupcakes.

The verdict?

Me - 6/10, unfortunately the oranges that I did have were pretty tasteless and even a bit tart so the frosting was bitter. The cake itself isn't too bad, but it certainly isn't anything amazing either.
Mat - hasn't tried one yet, so I will update with his verdict later.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

101 in 1001 days

I was reading Get In My Belly the other day and I saw the post on 101 in 1001 days. Basically it is a list of 101 things (some are repeated multiple times during the challenge) to do in 1001 days. After reading through the entire list I decided that I had to steal the idea because I love to have goals to work towards and writing lists is probably one of my favourite past times. I am starting the challenge on Wednesday, the 11th of March, which means the last day of the challenge is December 6, 2011. So without further ado...

My 101 in 1001 days!

1. Keep hair style maintained with a haircut every 6 weeks (1/23)
2. Stop chewing fingernails (0/1001)
3. Get back to wedding day weight
4. Get some form of exercise at least 4 days a week (20/572)
5. Get outside every day (49/1001)
6. Have a bath once a month - don't worry I do shower daily (0/33)
7. Eat a healthy diet (25/1001)
8. Stop swearing (18/1001)
9. Drink 2-3L of water a day (49/1001)
10. Have a 5 minute planning time each day for the day ahead (49/1001)
11. Write down my dreams if I remember them (1)
12. Shave my legs at least once a week - ewww (7/143)
13. Brush my teeth twice a day every day (98/2002)
14. Buy something for myself at least twice a year (2/6)

15. Give Mat a kiss every morning and every night (42/1001)
16. Do something little each month on the 24th for our 'getting together' anniversary (2/33)
17. Celebrate our wedding anniversary (1/3)
18. Tell Mat I love him every day (49/1001)
19. Give Zoe a little brother or sister
20. Make Mat awesome birthday cakes (0/3)
21. Give Mat at least one hug a day (42/1001)
22. Relax on the couch together at least once a fortnight (8/71)
23. Get Mat a gift at least 3 times (0/3)
24. Stop nit-picking for Mat's sanity (49/1001)

25. Read to Zoe at least 7 times a week (59/1001)
26. Sing to Zoe daily (49/1001)
27. Tell Zoe I love her every day (49/1001)
28. Throw excellent birthday parties for Zoe with great cakes (0/3)
29. Give Zoe at least one hug a day (49/1001)
30. Talk to Zoe every day (49/1001)
31. Take Zoe to the zoo at least once (0)

32. Give Harry and Logan a cuddle every day (49/1001)
33. Play with the boys once a week (8/143)

Friends and Family
34. Attend my mothers group at least once a fortnight (4/71)
35. Talk to each member in my immediate family at least once a fortnight (34/213)
36. Have friends over for dinner at least once every 2 months (1/16)
37. Send out christmas cards (0/3)
38. See mum at least once a fortnight (16/71)
39. Post photos to Flickr and Facebook weekly for family and friends to view (6/143)
40. Put on christmas for immediate family each year (0/2)
41. Buy birthday gifts for friends and family from etsy (0)
42. Catch up with a friend at least once a fortnight (6/71)
43. Make birthday cakes for anyone who needs one (0)

44. Vacuum at least once a week (8/143)
45. Do the dishes daily (42/1001)
46. Wash sheets and towels weekly (7/143)
47. Finish painting the bathroom and toilet
48. Get a new oven
49. Clean bathroom/toilet at least once a fortnight (2/71)
50. Make the beds every day (49/1001)
51. Try to paint as much of the house as possible
52. Keep kitchen cupboards organised (49/1001)
53. Try to save power by keeping lights and appliances off (49/1001)

Cooking and Baking
54. Bake at least once a week (8/143)
55. Cook something new at least once a week (8/143)
56. Make a yummy dessert at least once a fortnight (4/71)
57. Participate in Iron Cupcake monthly (2/33)
58. Bake bread from scratch at least one (0)
59. Make a gingerbread house (0)
60. Improve my cake decorating skills
61. Take at least one cake decorating course (0)
62. Bake goods for christmas presents each year (0/3)
63. Make my own pizza dough at least once (0)

Art and Craft
64. Finish at least two mosaic pots (0)
65. Finish at least one softie (0)
66. Make at least one quilt (0)
67. Have some 'creative' time every week (9/143)
68. Learn to knit
69. Complete at least one embroidery pattern (0)
70. Work on my own comic
71. Sketch at least one thing weekly (5/143)
72. Make christmas stockings for the family (0/5)
73. Sew at least one item of clothing (0)

74. Grow a herb garden
75. Tend to my plants at least twice a week (10/286)
76. Do a clean up at least once a fortnight (4/71)
77. Plant some more succulents and cacti (0)
78. Bucket water from shower, bath, kitchen and laundry on to lawn daily (49/1001)

79. Study at least one subject per semester (0/6) - uh oh i quit!!
80. Complete each assignment to the best of my ability (1) - uh oh i quit!!

81. Post a Baking Monday entry every week (7/143)
82. Post a Wednesday Etsy Picks entry every week (7/143)
83. Post a Flickr Friday entry every week (7/143)
84. Make at least two other posts every week (17/246)
85. Continue to update my progress with this list (49)

86. Collect as many Pez dispensers and kinder surprise toys as possible (8)
87. Have at least one movie marathon day (0)
88. Give at least one compliment every day (49/1001)
89. Try 10 new restaurants (2/10)
90. Go to the movies at least 4 times (0/4)
91. Go to at least three concerts (0/3)
92. Make a list of 101 things I like about myself
93. Finish watching the Sopranos
94. Have a cup of tea every day (49/1001)
95. Plan the meals for the week ahead (8/143)
96. Attempt to use the drums on Rock Band
97. Dance in the lounge room at least 10 times (2/10)
98. Go on a picnic with the family at least 3 times (0/3)
99. Go for a swim at the beach (0)
100. Go to Mildura at least 4 times a year (0/12)
101. Smile everyday (49/1001)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Baking Mondays - Neapolitan Cupcakes

Ah what a disaster. The plan was to make rocky road cupcakes. I chopped up the cherries, marshmallows and peanuts, covered the bowl in cling wrap and then went out to visit some friends. When we got home I was all psyched up to finish the cupcakes but soon discovered that ants had gotten into the rocky road mix! It was extremely disappointing and I nearly gave up there and then, but when I realised that I had all the necessary ingredients for neapolitan cupcakes I was in business again. So without further ado...

Neapolitan Cupcakes (from The Australian Women's Weekly - Cupcakes)
Makes 12

125g butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
185g self-raising flour
80ml milk
pink food colouring
strawberry essence
1 tbspn cocoa powder
2 tsps milk, extra
  1. Preheat oven to moderate. Line 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.
  2. Beat butter, vanilla, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the sifted flour and milk, in two batches.
  3. Divide mixture evenly among 3 bowls. Tint one mixture pink and flavour with strawberry essence. Blend sifted cocoa with extra milk in cup, stir into another mixture. Leave third mixture plain.
  4. Drop alternate spoonfuls of the 3 mixtures into cases. Pull a skewer through the mixtures to give a marbled effect.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. Decorate with butter cream.
Neapolitan Butter Cream

125g butter, softened
240g icing sugar
2 tbsps milk
pink food colouring
strawberry essence
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsps milk, extra

Beat butter with electric mixer until as white as possible. Beat in sifted icing sugar and milk in two batches. Divide mixture into 3 bowls and flavour butter cream in a similar style to the cupcake mixture.

Note: I added the strawberry essence to give it a true neapolitan flavour, the original recipe just used pink food colouring.

So the verdict?

Me - 7/10, pretty good - I think I would add a tad bit more strawberry essence to the cake and I would like to decorate it differently next time.
Mat - 8/10, sugary goodness - he is looking forward to having another one tomorrow.

One more photo of the cupcakes, this is the inside of the cake...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

6th folder, 6th picture

Reading Essential E today I decided to do the 6th folder, 6th picture thing. This is my mum and I on the day of my wedding. My beautiful dress was made by my mum's best friend Kristina, she did such a wonderful - I love my dress!

If you want to play along open your photo folder, go to the 6th folder and post the 6th photo in that folder.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Baking Mondays - Coconut Lime Cupcakes

This week I chose a cupcake recipe from my new book "The Australian Women's Weekly - Cupcakes". The book was a surprise gift from my lovely mum and she also got me the cookies and cupcakes by colour books from the same series. Thanks mum!

Coconut Lime Cupcakes
Makes 24

250g butter, softened
2 tsps coconut essence
1 tbsp finely grated lime rind
290g caster sugar
4 eggs
160ml milk
120g desiccated coconut
375g self-raising flour

  1. Preheat oven to moderate and line two 12-hole standard muffin pans.
  2. Beat butter, essence, rind, sugar and eggs in a large bowl with electric mixer until combined.
  3. Stir in milk and coconut, then sifted flour. Divide mixture among cases; smooth surface.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes.
Coconut Lime Frosting

60g butter, softened
160g cream cheese, softened
2 tsps coconut essence
juice of 2 limes
3 cups icing sugar (approximately)
desiccated coconut to decorate

Beat butter, cream cheese, essence and lime juice in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy; gradually beat in sifted icing sugar until you reach the consistency you want. Spread over cooled cupcakes and then top with desiccated coconut.

The only changes I made to the recipe was to add the lime juice to the frosting - it just needed that bit of extra bite.

So how do these cupcakes rate?

Me - 8/10, they are really light and fluffy, and have a very subtle flavour. They could be a little more flavoursome.
Mat - 9.5/10, hubby was very impressed with this cupcake since he likes cakes that are not too sweet.