Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cake #31: Zucchini Muffins

I never know what to call these. The recipe I found years and years ago calls them muffins but I have a personal rule that if you frost it, it's a cupcake. Since it's too close to call, I'm including it in 52 Cakes and have basically decided to categorize them according to time of day - at breakfast they're muffins, after dinner they're cupcakes. Problem solved.

You might notice a truly odd combination of flavors: orange, caramel, apple, cardamon and optional chocolate... it's like the cupcake the couldn't make up it's mind and wants to please everyone. As strange as they sound, the flavors blend together well and are pleasantly complex. If you try them, let me know what you think.

Zucchini Cupcakes/Muffins

3 eggs
1 C sugar
¼  C vegetable oil
8 oz apple sauce
½ C orange juice
2 ½ C flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cardamom
2 C shredded zucchini
Optional: chocolate chips 

Beat eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients; add to egg mixture; mix well.
Add zucchini and blend well.
Fill greased muffin Cs 2/3 full.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips if desired

Bake at 350* for 23 minutes or until pick comes out clean.

Frosting (you'll recognize this, it's my go-to caramel frosting and where I first tried it)

1 C packed brown sugar
½ C butter
¼ C milk
1 tsp vanilla
Icing sugar

Combine brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat.
Cook and stir for two minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Cool to luke warm.
Beat in icing sugar until it reaches spreading consistency.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Side Table and Occasional Table Before and Afters

We've been working hard on our Master Bedroom. I can't wait to show you the pictures of how it all comes together. But first, I have a few more pictures of furniture we've refinished.

Side Tables: Before


Before: I seriously wish I'd snapped a shot when we starter sanding and discovered the lumps in the paint were actually hand painted pictures of fruit. Oh my!

Yeah... I painted it silver. So awesome!!!

I'm so excited to show you our Master Bedroom redo. It's really coming together. If you missed the first post featuring the dresser you can see it HERE

Personal Note: Things have gone rather badly for me health-wise and that steep decline has lead to a precipice and a long obstacle strewn drop leaving me a broken, crumpled mess at the bottom. This morning I'm returning to the pain clinic and resuming my ranks among the chronically pain afflicted (Spoonies of the world, Unite!). Maybe they can find out what is causing the difficulties I'm having - could be the herniated disc, the bone disease, maybe the back surgery scarring is all the fuss... Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of things or if not that, they can help with pain management. Either way, push has come to shove and I'm heading back down the path with the scary men and big needles.  I'll be the girl carrying a plate of cupcakes and decorating the path with cute banners and a sugar skull for two. If you see me there, be sure to say hello.


Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Monday, August 29, 2011

Messy Mouthful Monday

(and since it's impolite to talk with your mouthful, it's also wordless)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Recycled Packaging

When I saw Patty's post about UPCYCLING ENVELOPES I had one of those head slap moments where I had to ask myself why hadn't I thought of this. 

It's brilliant and earth friendly and makes gifts even more fun.

So I did. And it was a really pleasing low-stress, use-your-stash sort of activity.

Love those.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cake #30: Coconut Cupcakes with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

I've never attempted a coconut cake before and surely not one that calls for six egg whites, but this recipe looked very appealing and I had cake flour left from the lime cupcakes so I thought, why not?

A word about cake flour: my understanding is that it is something you can whip up in your kitchen by combining 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour with 1/4 cup cornstarch. This is done simply by putting the measured cornstarch in the bottom of your one cup measure and then topping it off with flour.

But recently I've seen a bevy of recipes calling for "true" or "purchased" cake flour and following with the note, "not just mixed cornstarch and flour" so I wonder if us home bakers have had it wrong all these years or if it's a marketing ploy. Thoughts?

The cupcakes are stellar. They have a pure "cake" flavor for a top-note that dissipates into coconut. Yum! And the crumb of the cake is quite different from anything I've made; it's light with very small crumbs like an angel food or chiffon cake but it's dense. 

The flavor of the frosting reminds me of a very nuanced dark chocolate cheese cake with a hint of mocha. Did you know that whether you like coffee of not, you should always add a little bit to chocolate dishes (I dissolve instant coffee in a little liquid) because it develops and amplifies the flavor of the chocolate?

These cupcakes were a big hit. We'll make them again. The only step I'll leave out is the dipping of the tops - it made no noticeable difference in flavor or texture.

Coconut Cupcakes 

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons coconut milk, divided
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur

Mocha Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

I originally made the frosting suggested in the recipe and it had a nasty taste to it so I doctored it up with a few more ingredients and it was much improved. Excuse the lack of proper measurements.

2 sticks of butter
1 8 oz package of 1/3 less fat (or regular) cream cheese
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup (or more) cocoa powder (to taste)
1 TBL instant coffee mixed into 2 TBL hot water (use as much or as little as you'd like)
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla


1 1/2 cups large-flake unsweetened coconut, toasted


1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Add egg whites, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add extracts; beat well.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with 1 cup coconut milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition.

3. Divide batter evenly among 18 paper-lined cups of muffin pans. Bake at 350° for 20 to 23 minutes or until batter is set but centers of cupcakes still look slightly wet. (Do not overcook.) Cool in pans 10 minutes; transfer to wire racks.

4. Combine amaretto liqueur and remaining 3 tablespoons coconut milk (or a little more, it won't hurt); stir well. Dip cupcake tops in this mixture then cool completely.

5. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with or roll/dip in with toasted coconut. 

From: Coastal Living APRIL 2010

And here they are ready to share. I used the remaining toasted large flake coconut as cushion between layers to help them not stick together.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cake 29: Lime Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Lime is pretty much the best flavor, in my opinion. It has close rivals, namely lemon but lime, oh how I love thee!

When our eldest turned fifteen last month, one of his gifts was a coupon book that included things like game rentals, getting to choose dinner, a special dessert etc. He decided to combine a bunch of his coupons into one awesome extravaganza of a day and for his meal he wanted Homemade Tomato Soup (weird kid!) with Asiago Cheese Bread and Banana Tres Leches Cake. This is the FOURTH time I've made that cake since we tried it out in June. I get that it's delicious but in a house that is baking on average a cake a week, that's a little ridiculous. Plus it's making it hard for me to try new cakes. 

So, I decided to tempt my kiddos away from the beloved banana cake by making a second dessert option, and I stacked the cards in my favor by making a lime dessert. Yum.  These cupcakes are really spectacular and my family loved them... and then they polished off an insane amount of Banana tres leches. LOL. I guess my "trick" didn't work.

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit and I ran across it from Sara at My Madison Bistro


1 ¾ cups cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cool unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
2 ½ tablespoons key lime juice
1 tablespoon key lime zest
1 drop green food coloring paste
¾ cup buttermilk (room temperature)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners. (I ended up making 18 cupcakes so plan accordingly)

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt three times, set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low until it’s softened a bit. Add the sugar and increase the speed to medium. Beat until fluffy, about four minutes. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the lime juice, zest, and food coloring and beat until mixed. (The mixture will look curdled.)

Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix on low until just combined. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full.

Note: This batter is freakishly light - like a meringue or a whipped cream. It isn't like anything I've made before. And it's yummy raw. 

Bake 20-25 minutes.  This was really disappointing, after the fluffy, whipped meringue consistency of the batter, I was expecting something a little less flat and common looking. They better taste good :-)

Cool completely and frost with cream cheese icing.


    1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature (I use 1/3 less fat)
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
    1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
    juice of one lime (my addition)
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Beat all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth. Pipe onto cupcakes.

I'd show you more but they disappeared.

Linked up with Tales of a Trophy Wife

Monday, August 22, 2011

Home Made Two-Step Stamps for Art Journalling

When I saw Claudine Hellmuth's Two-Step stamps I just loved them. They're as cool as cool can be. But, my budget just doesn't have the wiggle room in it right now. In no small part because of this rather large delivery:

That's a lot of wood and concrete. Oh my!


I saw a great tutorial on the Craftzine blog for no carve acrylic style stamps made with plexiglass and silicone. Click that link, they made it look easy :-)

So I got it in my head to make simple foam stamps and then make the acrylic style doodle outlines for them. 

You really should go read their tutorial as mine isn't very thorough. But you take your plexiglass, figure out how you want to cut it and then score it several times with an craft blade.

Next you hold the line against the edge of your table and WHACK IT really, really hard. We managed to hurt ourselves doing this. For my second batch I bought thinner plexiglass then suggested and it snapped with ease while still being rigid enough to stamp with.

You'll need two plexiglass bases in each size, one for the foam stamp, one for the silicone.

For the foam stamp, cut craft foam (I used the thick stuff from Michaels, it's about a buck a sheet) in whatever shape you like and glue it on your base with tacky glue. 

Let it dry over night and then check it out. I used ink on these even though they are well suited for paint. Since it was just a test on printer paper I didn't feel like getting a brush out.

Yay! Me likey!

For the silicone step, place the matching-size base over top of your foam stamp and doodle with your silicone. Let dry over night. Just a tip, don't lay your plexiglass over your stamped image as it'll come out backwards because your outlining the mirror image. I did... not good.

Now have fun stamping. You can use paint on the foam stamps and then once it's dry use paint or ink on the outline stamp.

And here are the finished pages I made using my new stamps:

Click on the pictures to see the details

I've been art journalling everyday as challenged by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

I hope to have a lot more completed pages to show you soon. They'd probably go a lot faster if I didn't decided to make my own stamps. LOL.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dresser Renovation: Before and After

I have a bad history of buying furniture at yard sales or Goodwill (DI) and then stashing it away in my basement indefinitely. Isn't that terrible?

It's just a whole lot of work to refinish something and my plate feels painfully full already. I'm just not one of those bloggers who refinishes a table in the afternoon and then paints her front door that evening. Never will be. I'm clumsy and prone to spills - things never go as planned. Never

Which is why I'm so pleased to have a furniture before an after to share. It's rare as unicorn tears.

Since I'm confessing, my husband and I haven't had a dresser since our house burned down in 1997. We've had several homes, several cars, several a-whole-lot-of-things, but never a dresser. It just failed to be a priority - especially after making do for fourteen years. So when I saw a dresser and end table set (end tables! We haven't had those since '99 when a homebuyer wanted us to throw ours in with the house) at DI for $55.00 I brought it home.

It was in rough shape. See.



Can I show you my favorite part one more time? Check out the snazzy drawer lining. Me and The Podge got up close and personal. Viva la gift wrap!

Doesn't it totally remind you of this:

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