Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Apr. 28, 2011

It's been awhile! I've got a pile of love, so let's get to it!
American Cookery - Magazines Ads from 1939: I have Turner to thank for this one. These are hilarious and fascinating. I love the outfits the women are wearing.

I Scream, You Scream - In the other old things department, check out this awesome collection of vintage photographs of people eating ice cream. I love the one with the fancy ice cream flipping into the cup. Get warm Portland! I want a picture of me eating ice cream outside that becomes vintage someday.

Museum of Food and Drink Butt-kick Kick-off Lunch: Look at the food! The variety of presentations just blow my mind! Plus, there's a museum of food and drink! Plus, gorgeous fried artichokes. Seriously though, I am so happy that this place is coming into fruition because I agree: food is culture.
Widmer Brothers Unveils a New Look: My very favorite Portland beer has a new label - and I think it looks pretty great. I especially like how they are focusing on how each beer should be enjoyed. Like the chart above makes clear, certain beers are best in certain types of glasses. In favor of full disclosure, I do enjoy a number of Widmer beers by the bottle. I still love it, no matter where I get it.

Hopworks Beer Daily Specials: In other awesome beer news, HUB posts their daily specials and beers on their website! Now I want go there more than ever and I didn't even need another reason. Have you had their lager? It's ridiculous!

Coffee Joulies - Keep Your Coffee or Tea Hot for Hours: These are amazing and I want them! And so do you. Sometimes you just want to sip on your tea (or coffee if you sip that way), but then it goes from too hot to perfect to meh and you're only half way done. Enter these amazing, amazing things. They're a bit spendy, but seem like the could be very worth it.
Bacon Cologne: Because this needed to exist. Obviously.

I'm Not a Battery: D Cell salt and pepper shakers. A salt and battery? Get it? See also: pepper spray. I think these look really cool and it's a fun way to keep track of how much salt and pepper you have left. Plus you can make puns, so you know, there's that.

Everyday Objects Come Alive: Cookies sweeping up crumbs. Ice cubes working out. Cheese tied to rail road tracks. These awesome pictures of food as alive are just fun to look at. Thanks Kirsten for sharing this one. I think my absolute favorite is the Crime Scene. Or maybe Pick Him.
I'm also loving: plum sake; free birthday drinks (duh!); $1 PBR pints and $5 food at Under Wonder; anticipation of birthday dinners cooked by Kirst; actual birthday dinner at Toro Bravo (I'm still thinking about it! Paella and olive oil and grilled raab!); getting tons of baking stuff for my birthday (Thanks Mom and Aaron and Jamie!); RT @cakespy "FACT: I am currently listening to "Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen on continuous loop, & drawing unicorns and cupcakes and rainbows." and also "The Hemingway Cookbook (as in Ernest) has only 2 cake recipes, but 54 alcoholic drink recipes."; Farmers Market every Saturday because spinach and honey crisp apples and rainbow chard make the world go 'round; Oreos and Top Model with Jamie; savory pies.

What are you loving this week? 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PB Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s my birthday, so I’m going to blog about the special extra cupcakes Jamie and I made. I was going to do that after I blogged about the winners anyway, but let’s pretend like this is a special gift to you all because it’s my birthday and not just because I like announcing my birthday everywhere. Moving on…

As part of the cupcake baking deal, Jamie said we had to make some with peanut butter and chocolate as that’s her favorite combo. I scoured some recipes and this one was the winner. Unfortunately, it involves cake mix, which is fine on some occasions, but not usually what I am down with. So I had to find another recipe for the chocolate cake part and it had to be one that was 12 cupcakes. I have a hard enough time getting rid of cupcakes normally and the idea of having 36 cupcakes total was not my idea of a good time. Or at least a healthy one. So I found this one and scaled down the other one…mostly. This happens to me occasionally. I forget I’m scaling down a recipe and one ingredient will stay at full strength. In this case, it was peanut butter, but I think that just made it better. Oh, and we got the wrong kind of Reese’s Cups because they have miniatures (fun size) and minis. We got the minis instead of the miniatures. Don't worry,  it worked out.

My other modification was a ¼ reduction in the frosting recipe. Since I was going for ½ size and because frosting recipes always make way too much, I cut it in half again and I’m glad I did. It was a reasonable amount of frosting.

Check these out because they are a killer combo.

Reese’s Cup Peanut Butter Cupcakes modified from 52 Cupcakes:

Makes 12 tasty cupcakes

For the cupcakes -
1/3 c. Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ c. boiling water
1 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
6 Tb. unsalted butter, softened
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 whole large egg
1 large egg yolk
½ c. creamy peanut butter
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup minis

For the frosting –
¼ stick of butter, room temp
¼ c. shortening (Spectrum makes an awesome organic one)
1 c. confectioners sugar (sifted)
¼ tsp. vanilla
2 Tb. milk
1/8 c. cocoa powder
¼ c. creamy 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cupcakes cups with paper liners. Place two peanut butter minis on the bottom of each paper liner.

In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa powder and the water until the cocoa powder is dissolved and let the mixture cool to room temperature. In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking soda, and a pinch of salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and the sugar and the vanilla extract and then beat in the whole egg and the egg yolk, beating until the mixture is combined well. Beat in the cocoa mixture alternately with the flour mixture, beating well after each addition, and then add the peanut butter and mix well.
Spoon 1/3 cup of batter on top of the mini peanut butter cups.
Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. Check them after 15 minutes. They may take 17 minutes, depending on your oven temperature. Ours came out looking like brownies, which I thought was kind of rad. Let them cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, put all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. We decorated a few with more peanut butter cups. These make for a dense cupcake, most likely because of the extra peanut butter in it. They are very peanut buttery and the minis basically melted into the batter. I’d love to give these a try with the right amount of peanut butter and the right type of peanut butter cup, but overall, I think these were quite the tasty crowd pleaser.

Monday, April 25, 2011

And the winner is...Blackberry Vanilla Cupcakes

I have a good reason for announcing the cupcake contest and getting votes and making them and then not posting about it for three weeks: grad school. In between baking them and now I had
  • a conference to go to and present a poster at
  • a project due the same weekend as...
  • class
  • another project due for a different class
  • a research paper
So okay! I also had to feed myself and go running, but I did bake these and they were pretty good and now they are all gone. Blackberry Vanilla won by a few votes, but carrot cake was coming up from behind toward the end. I will try to do something like this again and maybe find a way to make it even more interesting...and delicious. Now - the cupcakes!

These ones were a little more complicated that I had originally anticipated because you have to make the coulis first. That's not a big deal, but if you aren't prepared for that extra time (and a lot of coulis), I think a thinned jam would also work really, really well. The blog has recently changed layout and now doesn't have the story that links to the coulis recipe (kind of annoying, plus I like blogs that have a story to the recipe. That's what makes blogs different from cookbooks. Anyway...), but I'm nice and found it for you here.

Blackberry Vanilla Cupcakes from The Good Mood Food Blog:

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes -
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 Tb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. milk
½ c. blackberry coulis

For the frosting -
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tb. blackberry coulis

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180c (or 355 Fahrenheit if you live in America). Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk and blackberry coulis. Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl of the mixer and mix on low speed until just combined. Mix in the blackberry coulis/milk mixture. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Do not over-mix.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared paper (or silicone) liners. Bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and blackberry coulis in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and well blended. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. This is best done in a cute apron.
Jamie and I added extra coulis to make it more tart, but that didn’t really work. Overall, these were very light cupcakes and really tasted more like frosted muffins. We were both fairly unimpressed with how un-berry like these are. After talking with my mom about it, she suggested adding cherry extract to make it more tart and to bring out the berry flavors. If I ever make these again, that’s what I’ll do. At the very least I’ll keep it in mind for future berry cupcakes. My coworkers were fairly impressed with these and if you have a need for a very light dessert, these are it. Not my favorites, but still a tasty effort in the end.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

National Grilled Cheese Day!

I was informed (via Twitter) that today is National Grilled Cheese Day. It is also National Library Worker Appreciation Day, so I am feeling very special because I a) am a library student and work in a library and b) love the heck out of grilled cheese. After doing a happy dance and proudly exclaiming to everyone in sight about how awesome today is, Turner asked me if I was going to blog about it and that I should do a top grilled cheese post. Excellent idea! I have many recipes I've been scoping for fun, fancy, and just plain delicious looking grilled cheese sandwiches. So, here we go!

To start us off, let's check out Adam Richman of Man V. Food going crazy on a 16 different types of cheese, 5 pound grilled cheese sandwich in Cleveland. The place is called Melt and it looks wonderful. 

Better with Garlic: Not to toot my own horn too much, but I think I make a pretty darn good grilled cheese sandwich. So far I've only blogged about two of them - Sweet Grilled Goat Cheese and  SuperFrico Grilled Cheese. Both were delicious and are well worth your time.

Closet Cooking: I realized, as I was going through my recipes, that many of them are bookmarked from Closet Cooking. He has incredible variation of the grilled cheese theme, making everything from JalapeƱo Popper Grilled Cheese to Grilled Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (and the Sundried Tomato Pesto Grilled Cheese as another variant on the pesto-cheese theme) to the fascinating Kimchi Grilled Cheese (pictured above). So thank you, Kevin, you've filled my reader with fabulous starred sandwich recipes!

In sandwiches-designed-for-Amy news, here's a Green Goddess Grilled Cheese. Also fabulous looking, this panino with brie and pears.

These Grilled Beer and Cheese and Grilled Cheese with Sauerkraut on Rye sandwiches sound beyond delicious and perfect for cold nights or with football.Or both!
On the sweet side, Kevin from Closet Cooking has even more grilled cheese up his sleeve, including the ridiculously delicious sounding Apple Cinnamon Swirl Grilled Cheese. And, also check out the ridiculously decadent Raspberry Cream Cheese Paninis. You dip them in chocolate! What else do you need?

For even more delicious ideas (because when it comes to grilled cheese, too much is never enough), check out The Kitchn's list , including one that Kirst and I should try - Pimento Grilled Cheese!

I hope I helped get you hungry from grilled cheese. Tonight, Aaron, some friends, and I are going to go up to Grilled Cheese Grill and celebrate today. Have a wonderful grilled cheese day!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Once Upon a Time at the Cheese Factory

Once upon a time (1990), an Alaskan girl and her family were traveling around Oregon and went out to the coast...

So once upon a time, I was 7 years old, had long hair (and amazing bangs!), wore socks with sandals (yes, those are Birkenstocks), and loved cheese.

Even though I was 7, I have awesome memories from this trip and one of the very best parts: going to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I last month I blogged about one of their recipes and then I remembered I had this picture. As you can see, I am very happy to see how cheese is made, eat free cheese, and get ice cream. I might not have bangs or long hair anymore, but I still love Tillamook cheese!
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