Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guest Blogger: My Mom Makes Cupcakes!

I’m Alisa’s mom. I taught her to bake. Then she took that skill and made it an art. She inspires me. 

So today I channeled her and came up with the perfect Christmas confection: Candy Cane Cupcakes!

First, I made two cupcake batters: a vanilla and a red velvet. Yes, I could have put red food coloring in half of a white cake mix, but where’s the fun in that? 

And I crushed two candy canes. A mortar and pestle would work better, but I made do with my chopper.

Into the cupcake pan, I spread a thin layer of red velvet batter.

Then a layer of vanilla batter.

Then a sprinkling of crushed candy cane.

Then another layer of red velvet batter, another layer of white batter, and a final layer of red velvet.
I baked them for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. With a large star tip, I piped cream cheese frosting and finished with a final sprinkle of crushed candy cane.

Inside, they look like candy canes:

And they taste like Christmas.

Thanks to Alisa for letting me be a guest blogger, and to the Huffs next door for being taste testers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

THE Apple Pie

So, I found this awesometastic idea on Pinterest... And I HAD to try it.  I usually make my own pie crust, but what with Market Day just 2 days away, I decided to get a pre-made pie crust to whip this crust out in no time.
I just took the crust and spread cinnamon and sugar all over it and then rolled it up like a cinnamon roll.
Cut the log into THIN rolls and placed them on my pie pan.  I kinda pressed them down to fill in the holes between each roll. 
 The pie was just a simple apple pie with a crumb crust.  mmmmmmmmmmmmm.
 My dad thanked me for making him an apple pie.  Yeah, right... it's for you... 
 Perfect with a dollop of whipped cream!
The apple part of this pie wasn't half bad either. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Parmesian Cheeese

So my mama and I got into Market Day!  Apparently they had some cancellations and we were next on the waiting list!
However, that means our little start-up business is balls to the walls right now making felt VW vans and wine bags. 
Props to my mama who has made an INSANE amount of bags.  I just sit on my bed cutting out tiny peace signs and conceptualizing felt bonfires and toasted marshmallows... 

I was so excited to make that Cajun Chicken Pasta into lasagna this week... And while it's good enough, "good enough" isn't good enough for this blog.  So it sits in pieces in my freezer and makes a good enough bring-to-work dinner. 

I'm not always pleased when I go off recipe, and this was one of those times. 

Today, however, I made the NEW GREATEST THING I'VE EVER MADE.  Step aside Cajun Chicken Pasta.  There's a new sheriff in town. 

Today I made Iowa Girl Eat's Sweet Potato Gnocchi.

It was EASY.  I just took 2 smallish sweet potatoes, peeled and cut them up, boiled them till tender and then mashed em up. 
I measured about 1/2 lb of sweet potato, so I mixed up 1/2 of an egg (That happens a lot when I'm cooking for 1; I just wisk it up and eyeball 1/2).  Put the egg in, a pinch of salt and a few shakes of cinnamon.  (this made the dish).  Then I slowly added flour till I could kneed it. 
I'd say a little less than 1 cup. 
The dough is REALLY tender, but that makes a fluffy gnocchi, so try to work with it. 
I divided it into 4 chunks and rolled them into ropes.  I cut the ropes and popped them into some boiling water.

I did it in batches... I was only going to eat 1/2 of them and freeze the rest... Yeah right. 
After they started to float, I gave them another 3-5 minutes of boiling and threw them in a hot pan of olive oil and a little bit of brown butter. 
The butter will burn really easily, so keep an eye on it.  The olive oil raises the burn temp so you can get the pan hotter without burning the heck out of that butter. 
I used too much oil/butter in the first batch, so I would vary it.  You can always add more if you want. 

Keep in mind that if the gnocchi is wet, the oil will splatter, so keep an eye on that. 
Once it was browned and crispy on both sides, I took it out and sprinkled a bit of parm on it.  That cuts the sweetness of the potato and cinnamon. 

Anyway, I LOVED this, and almost ate it all before I could get it out of the pan for a photo op!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Orange Poppyseed Bundt Cake

I'm going to admit... I made this at 1 am and forgot to put in the leavening agent...  But you'll forgive me, right? 

It's still pretty stinkin' good. 

Ingredients Americanized. 
120g poppy seed – ½ cup
250ml milk—1 cup
225g butter – 1 cup
220g sugar -- 1 cup + 2 T
3 eggs
300g flour – 2 1/3 cups
2 teaspoons baking powder (OOPS!)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest
4 tablespoons orange juice

Here's the original post:

In hind sight I would have spent more time zesting oranges and added 2 or even 3 tablespoons.  1 just wasn't enough. 

I also don't think I got quite 1/2 cup of poppy seeds in it.  I had 2 Tones spices packages.  I'd say it was maybe 1/3 cup... But that was plenty.  In fact, I hope I don't get drug tested anytime soon... Because I've been eating a lot of this cake lately. 

So the cake turned out pretty dense, but it freezes well and was the perfect weekend splurge. 

Now, speaking of splurging.  This woman needs to STOP!  Just because I get my butt kicked in spin class doesn't mean I get a piece of cheesecake at the coffee shop. 

I'm making a statement here, in front of family, friends and God that I am going to start kicking butt and taking names at this healthy living lifestyle.  Logging my muchies on (super user friendly and totally awesome and customizable) and adding pilates 3+x a week.  Sticking with this pescatarian thing till at least the end of November.  Working really hard to keep my carbs below 250g and my protein close to 100g. 

(Can we also note that blogger wants to change pescatarian to caesarian...)

Friday, November 11, 2011

In a Baking Mood.

I got the baking bug today, so I picked up some ingredients on my shopping trip today and got busy.

I always need something quick for breakfast on those days that I wake up at 11:30 for my 12:10 spin class...  It might seem like I have all kinds of time, but I have to get there by 11:45 if I want to get into the lot. (Which I think is ridiculous... Also what's ridiculous-- That I have to pay 50 friggen cents to get OUT of the parking lot.  What a sham.)

Anyway, I had some black bananas in the freezer so I mixed up some breakfast banana oatmeal muffins that I got from Madison at Espresso and Cream. 

Madison is amazing.  I want to be like her when I grow up.  Even though I think she's younger than me... 

Anyway.  The muffins are amazing and I'm waiting on my poppyseed bundt now.  Post to follow.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pesto Pizza

I found this idea on and I put my own little twist on it. 

I found a simple focaccia recipe here and mixed it up in the morning and let it grow all day. 

Half of the recipe got cut into buns because I'm working on a blackened chicken sandwich that my friend LOVES at the Continental here in Des Moines and it has a focaccia bun. 

The other half got flattened out on my pizza stone and covered in goodies. 

Instead of buying a jar of pesto, I bought a packet.  I remember my mom having these pesto packets at home all the time and I HATED them.  And now that I've actually tasted it (weird) I love it. 

I would have obviously rather made fresh pesto from basil and pine nuts, however, I was on a tight budget and I figured the pesto wouldn't exactly be the star of this pizza... It was more like a collection of semi-famous stars equaling a yummy pizza. 

The pesto was spread over my dough and then I put sliced roma tomatoes over that.  The yummy mozzarella cheese (okay, maybe the star) covered that and I baked it till the edges were brown and the cheese looked sufficiently toasted. 

I loved this pizza when it first came out of the oven, but it's not a killer left-over.  Pizza usually isn't my favorite next-day lunch.  And if I do it again I might just skip the tomatoes.  November tomatoes leave much to be desired. 

This was 100 times better than frozen fare, but not quite as good as Gusto.  mmm. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta. OUT OF CONTROL

Lately I've been planning my meals a little better.  This keeps me from eating the same cheese quesadilla every day...  But I will gather 2 or 3 recipes before I go to the store and make sure I get all the ingredients. 
This recipe is one of the dishes that caught my eye on the Pioneer Woman's blog.  I lived in New Orleans for a bit so I LOVE cajun flavors. 
I did, of course, adapt the recipe a little.  I didn't want to buy heavy cream and I had a chunk of 1/3 less fat cream cheese... So why not, right? And I used far less chicken and skipped the wine.  Not that I don't like cooking with wine, I just like drinking it more. 


  • 1 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
  • Cajun Spice Mix, To Taste
  • 3/4 lb pasta... I kept 1/4 lb because I have some leftover pesto.
  • 1 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1/2 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1/2 whole Large Onion, Sliced
  • Garlic, Minced, To Taste
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced  Just wasn't in the mood
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta water and 1 bullion cube
  • 1/2 cup White Wine
  • 1/3 block of Cream Cheese
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Salt To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste

For the step-by-step, go over to Pioneer woman's blog.  I'm not in the mood to type that much. 

But it was AMAZING.  Probably one of the best things I've ever made.  And I'm so excited that I have a TON of leftovers for the rest of the weekend. 

Adapted from

--Also, I did my 3 days of Pescatarian dining this week.  Not bad at all!  This dish might even rock with some tofu.