Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iron Cupcake: Cranberry Filled Eggnog Cupcakes

Doesn't that just make you want to run out and buy a festive sweater, put on Christmas music, and sit down to one of these cupcakes? I've gotta be honest, guys, I loved these cupcakes. Even more than my apple/cheese ones last month. Eggnog was just such a nice seasonal flavor to combine with this month's Iron Cupcake ingredient: cranberries. And top it all of with whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg. *Sigh* Heaven, I tell you.

Some of you may remember last month when I competed in the Iron Cupcake cheese challenge with my apple and Edam cupcakes. For those who don't remember, let me explain: every month you are told a different ingredient and challenged to incorporate it into a cupcake. You then post about it on your blog and encourage your readers to vote for you by clicking either on this link or on my Iron Cupcake badge at the bottom of this page. Voting is now open and will go through December 5 at noon. So go ahead and vote for me, pretty please. The winner gets the following prizes.

A pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES at
Other prizes donated by Etsy artists:
Also a sweet art piece from CAKESPY
Last and certainly not least, corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, , HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, , JESSIE STEELE APRONS ; the CUPCAKE COURIER ; TASTE OF HOME books, . Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers,

If you've managed to make it this far in this post, here is your reward: the recipe so you can whip up a batch of these for your Thanksgiving feast, or Christmas party, or just to snack on while you wrap presents. Enjoy!

Cranberry Filled Eggnog Cupcakes
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. rum extract
1 c. eggnog
2 1/4 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
Cranberry sauce (canned or homemade)

Let butter and eggs sit at room temperature for 30 min. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each one. Beat in vanilla, rum extract, and eggnog. Blend in remaining ingredients except for cranberry sauce. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool. Fill with cranberry sauce (I filled mine using a tip on a frosting bag filled with cranberry sauce, inserting it into the cupcake, and squeezing a little cranberry sauce directly into the cupcake). Frost with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Whipped Cream:

1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla
2 T. granulated white sugar

Beat on high setting until whipped.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jenny's Blue Ribbon Cookies

Aka my favorite gingersnaps ever. Jenny is my cousin, and when I was little I worshiped her. She was my favorite babysitter, she could turn even my short hair into a princess hairdo, and she could make these incredible cookies. Not to mention she was kind, funny, and just so darn cool. Now I am going to pass on one secret of her coolness--her gingersnap recipe. She won blue and purple ribbons at both the county and state fair for these cookies. They seriously taste like home to me--all warm and comforting and friendly. Now I know there is some controversy over how crunchy gingersnaps should be. Personally, I like the "snap" to come not so much from the cookie, but from the tendency to exclaim, "Oh, snap! These cookies are good!" after eating one. However, if you are one of those that likes your cookies to do the snapping, you can bake these a little longer and they'll get crunchier. If you bake them for the recommended eight minutes, though, you will get a soft, delectable cookie that tastes fresh for. . .well I don't really know how long it tastes fresh because they never stick around my house for long. But I do know they are good to the last crumbs.

3/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. dark molasses
2 t. soda
2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cloves
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add egg and molasses. Mix dry ingredients together in another bowl, then add to creamed mixture. Shape dough into small balls. Roll in sugar. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8 minutes (for chewy cookies) or longer if crisp cookies are desired.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

20 Things to do with Apples

"The morning of the first of September was crisp and golden as an apple."
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I love apples. The best apples are like biting into a perfect fall day, all crisp and cool and sweet. Mmm. Since fall will be over before we know it and with it apple season, I thought I'd pay homage to this lovely fruit before it's too late by listing 20 things to do with apples:

1. Make apple crisp
2. Make apple cake
3. Make baked apples
4. Make apple-head granny dolls
5. Make apple sauce
6. Make apple cider
7. Serve them with sausages
8. Cook them with pork chops
9. Waldorf salad
10. Cut them in half and use them like stamps
11. Bob for apples
12. Give one to a teacher
13. Make apple dumplings
14. Make apple tart
15. Make apple pizza
16. Put them in a quesadilla with some pepper jack cheese
17. Make apple butter
18. Eat them right off the tree
19. Make apple and Edam cupcakes
20. Throw an apple core at someone

This Chicken is Not Done

I tried a new recipe recently and really liked it. Except for one tiny problem--it took forever for the chicken to cook! The recipe said to cook it for 15 minutes, add the broccoli, then cook 10-15 minutes more, which I did. Then I cut into the chicken and it was still pink. So I cooked it 10 minutes more, which my very hungry stomach wasn't too happy about, and it turned out still looking like this. By that point I was so hungry that I went ahead and ate it anyway, which maybe wasn't very smart, but I didn't get sick. In all fairness, under the fluorescent lights of the kitchen it didn't look this pink. So let this be a warning to you: If you try the following recipe, make sure you don't do it when you're really hungry.

Gingered Chicken Dinner
1 1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each)
1 T. butter
1 c. uncooked instant rice
1 c. frozen broccoli florets, thawed

In a bowl, combine first six ingredients to make a marinade. Marinade chicken breasts in half of it overnight in the refrigerator, save the other half for later. Drain chicken breasts and discard used marinade. Brown chicken in the butter in a small skilled over medium heat (about 2-3 min. each side). Mix rice with the other half of the marinade and place in a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Put chicken on top and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Top with broccoli, recover, and bake 10-15 minutes longer (or however long it takes to get that darn chicken cooked).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oatmeal Pancakes

Mmm, pancakes. There's just something about waking up to a pancake breakfast that does something good for the soul. Or, if you're like me and can't get up early enough to make them in the morning, pancake dinners are also great! I was introduced to these yummy oatmeal pancakes when my sister-in-law married my brother and brought with her lots of great recipes. My husband, who is not usually a pancake lover, often requests these. He especially likes them with buttermilk syrup, which is a recipe I got from my cousin's husband. Wow, good thing my brother and cousin married who they did or I might never have tasted this delicious breakfast. I posted the syrup recipe earlier with the apple and Edam cupcakes, but I'll post it again here for your cooking convenience.

Oatmeal Pancakes
3 c. quick oats
1 c. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. soda
2 T. sugar
6 T. oil
4 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 t. vanilla
1 t. maple flavoring

Combine oatmeal, flour, salt, sugar, and soda. Mix well; add oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and maple flavoring. Mix thoroughly and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Cook thoroughly on hot griddle until batter bubbles on top, and bottom is medium-brown.

Buttermilk Syrup
1 ½ c. sugar
¾ c. buttermilk
½ c. butter/margarine
2 T. corn syrup
1 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients (everything except the vanilla) and bring to a boil. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Yet another cupcake post. I've decided that my obsession with cupcakes may trace back to elementary school when the fact that I have a summer birthday meant that I could never bring cupcakes to school on my big day like the other kids. Maybe it made me feel like I had to compensate for my lack of cupcake-coolness by baking them now whenever I can find the slightest excuse.
My most recent excuse came when I was invited to a Halloween party and given the assignment to bring a dessert. Here's what I made:

Devil's food cupcakes with chocolate frosting, sprinkles to make the spider look hairy, allsorts for eyes (I must have looked slightly crazy digging through the bulk candy bin finding all the ones that looked like eyes), and black licorice legs. The legs were really supposed to be made of black string lace licorice according to these instructions, but wouldn't you know it, the grocery store was out. I guess everyone else was making these cute little daddy-long legs for Halloween too. I hope you all had a sweet Halloween!