Friday, August 10, 2012

Fabulous Friday

Do you know why it is a fabulous Friday? Hmm? Take a guess :)

Because it is actually under 90 degrees here in the Mid-West for a change. It's actually only 82 degrees currently. WOO HOO! Perfect day for a run after work and for a walk at my lunch break.

On lunch I took a walk outside rather than at the mall I typically frequent as it was actually decent. Of course because it's not over 90 degrees I am not allowed to wear shorts to work - even though everyone did anyway. So I'm wearing dark wash blue jeans, but I don't care. I chose to walk the pond near my office and get some vitamin D. My mom called so I chatted for a good portion of that walk. Normally I can only walk for about 40 minutes before having to drive back to work but today I got in a good 54 minutes. To top it off I was able to enjoy the sun and breeze and wild life.

Hello Mr. Mallard.
Your winter feathers have not come in
 I only know about the feathers because Mike is the smart one when it comes to ducks, since he hunts them in the fall :) YAY for duck season!

Sorry Daffy, I have to go with Bugs here.
So enjoying the gorgeous day out and getting some really great texts today it's been pretty good. After work I get a workout plan from a friend who is a trainer and then I get to go run and have some girl time with a new friend, my neighbor. K should be fun to be friends with. We shall see.

In any event I have experimented a teeny bit and have found a lovely Brown Sugar Cupcake Recipe since I went and made Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting and had nothing to frost.

I just want to lick the beater.
So I was scanning through the usual food blogs when I came across this fun and amusing blog "How Sweet it is"

These little gems turned out great. Tasted delish too. I don't typically have cupcake papers on hand since I'm a cheap ass and tend to just spray the pan. So the combination of having a gas oven and having silicone for a muffin pan the edges on my cupcakes came out a bit on the more crisp side, but it was a good contrast to the fluffy and moist inside. YUMMM!!

The frosting was simple and more experimental than anything. I just didn't feel like baking so I made frosting and of course not knowing what I was going to frost with it. Cookies, nah, that means sugar usually and I don't want to cut out cookies - I really have to be in the mood for that. So next question was cupcakes or actual cake. Since cupcakes are portable, single serve and much easier to take to work and give to co-workers I opted for find a cupcake that could carry the fluffiness of Chocolate and Peanut Butter.

Yes this frosting was just absolutely fluffy and delicious. I had a few heaping spoonfuls - which I really shouldn't have but it just tasted so darn good!

Frosting to me is just the easiest thing to make. Leave out some butter and have powdered/confectioners sugar handy. From there you just add the flavors you want.

For this recipe I took a stick of softened butter, a good blob (no I did not measure, I rarely do for frosting) of creamy peanut butter then mixed on medium until mixed well. Then I added some vanilla extract (again people, I didn't measure. I just kind of go - bloop! good enough. Baking this long you can kind of tell how much each pour is. This non measuring thing gets worse the older I get). Then I added some melted chocolate I had left over from the peanut butter cups I made recently, about 1 square, maybe 2 of the chocolate almond bark.
Super simple recipe here
Mix all ingredients together then start adding the powdered sugar, S-L-O-W-L-Y! Otherwise you WILL end up with a kitchen covered in powdered sugar, as well as you. I have done it in a rush attempt to get things done and it just isn't worth the clean up, well unless you have a helper. Then maybe. Powdered sugar in the air also seems to have the properties of laughing gas. Having worked in the Costco bakery for a year, we had one incident where we were making a lot of frosting for the cakes that day and using an insane amount of powdered sugar. I think this was during the graduation rush and there was indeed a lot of it in the air, we were inhaling it at that point. However, at one moment our boss walked in, all employees are laughing and giggling about one thing or another - I can't recall what we found funny but I remember having a great day at work that day - he just looked and asked what was funny. Of course when you are already laughing, a serious question such as "what's so funny?" just makes you laugh harder. Ahh, good times. But I digress.

Once you have incorporated the powdered sugar start to whip it, whip it good! You know you're singing that song in your head now. You are welcome - I did have a publisher tell that group of us to "Dance" today (of course it was in reference to an ad called "Dance" but, whatever).

So now that you have whipped your frosting into a delicious frenzy set it aside or even place in the fridge for just a bit. Note: if your frosting is too thick add a Tbsp at a time of water or milk to thin out until it reaches the desired consistency.

Now, for the cupcakes.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used Blue Bonnet margarine and it turned out just fine)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to mix. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda, and salt. Mix with a large spoon until batter is smooth.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes or until tops are puffy and golden, and don't jiggle when touched. Let cool completely before frosting.

Of course you can frost this cupcake with virtually any frosting you like and decorate accordingly. This is a good all purpose cupcake and great for when you run out of white sugar, like I have on occasion. It's quite disappointing to start a recipe and pull the sugar container down only to find no sugar. Granted you can substitute brown sugar cup for cup should you run out of white sugar, just note brown sugar has molasses in it, making it a bit stickier in the baked good. Sometime caramelizing the edges.

I also made this loveliness this week. Banana bread with chocolate shavings and cinnamon sugar crust. Can I just say that this thing made my house smell like home, that homey smell that all candle companies try to make their product smell like but can't quite capture the essence. Sugar, cinnamon and banana. Umph, perfect smell combo. Should be a perfume - men would come running, just add in a side of bacon and we are good!

Sliced fresh. Yes it's a teeny bit gooey,
but I like it that way and so does Mike
A pat of butter on the warm fresh bread, now we're talking!
 This is just a classic recipe for banana bread, I then took my cheese grater and milk chocolate block and shaved about 2 ounces of chocolate into the batter and mixed. I then combined about a heaping 1/8 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon to dust on top (which I did AFTER I baked, it was an after thought but it worked out just fine since the bread was smoldering hot, ouch!)

Here's to the weekend, I get my Insanity DVDs tomorrow, I celebrate a friends 31st birthday and then headed out to Mike's to hang out for the remainder of the weekend. Sounds good to me.