Saturday, December 22, 2012


These guys just made me smile.  I made them for my daughter's Kindergarten holiday party and watching each little guy come to life was just what I needed after a tough week. They were super simple to make.  I used my favorite white cupcake and buttercream recipes.  Leftover candy from gingerbread houses were used for the noses, the eyes are a gel icing and the hat brim is made of mini marshmallows cut in half.

 I made Mike help with the decorating and while he grumbled about it I know he always enjoys decorating and it was nice having some company for the late night decorating session.

Simple White Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 tsps. Vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
Sift flour and baking powder together, set aside.  In medium bowl cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, stir in vanilla.  Add flour, mixing until just combined.  Stir in the milk until smooth.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mississippi Mud

As always happens this time of year December has gotten away from me and there are many things on my to do list that will probably still be there when 2013 rolls in.  One thing I was not going to leave on my list were the Mississippi Mud cupcakes for this months Cake Slice group.  I have made myself a promise to stick with the Cake Slice bakers this year and I am proud to say that I have met the baking deadline two months in a row.  I missed the posting deadline, but the cupcakes were made in time.

I have always been a fan of Mississippi Mud.  I remember a recipe for Mississippi Mud brownies in one of my first cookbooks when I was little.  I don't think I ever actually made the brownies, but I know I read the recipe many many times.

Julie Richardson's recipe for Mississippi Mud Cupcakes, in Vintage Cakes, is a wonderfully moist chocolate cupcake filled with chocolate chips and pecans and topped with a marshmallow frosting.  I didn't follow her recipe for the frosting. Instead I cheated with a Fluff buttercream, a super easy super tasty frosting.  The cupcakes were not overly sweet and the addition of coffee in the batter helped to enhance the chocolate and add a very subtle bitterness.  I didn't do a good job at evenly distributing the chocolate chips and pecans so the one cupcake I had only had a couple of chips and one tiny piece of pecan which made it seem more like something had fallen into the batter than an actual component of it.  If I were to make the recipe again I would probably just sprinkle the add-ins into each cupcake rather than mixing it into the full batter.

These cupcakes left my house very quickly.  I finished them at 8:00am and delivered them to the staff room at my kids' elementary school at 8:30.  I did keep one as a sample, it was great with a mid-morning cup of coffee.  It was so good that I forgot to snap a picture before inhaling the entire thing.

Please go check out the other Cake Slice bakers and all the delicious looking cupcakes!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gift Idea - Turtle Popcorn

We are big fans of popcorn.  It is one of our favorite snacks and is made quite a few times a week.  We enjoy both microwave and stove-top.  The convenience of microwave popcorn is great, but nothing beats Whirley Pop popcorn.  While many make popcorn on the stove top because it is healthier, I make it this way for the flavor options.  Sweet or savory the flavor options for stove-top popcorn are endless

Most of the time I go for the quick and easy popcorn "recipes" - kettle corn, cheesy corn, spicy, etc. - but I also like recipes that really bump up the flavor and provide a little more punch.  When I saw this wonderfully delicious recipe while scouring Cravings of a Lunatic for my Secret Recipe Club assignment back in October I knew it was time to make some pumped up popcorn.  I didn't get a chance to make it, but have been thinking about it since then.

My plan was to make ONE batch and give it to the kids' teachers as a little Thanksgiving treat.  That one batch was quickly devoured and I ended up having to make another batch.  I got smart with the second batch and quickly packaged it up before it could disappear as well.

This crunchy, chewy, nutty, caramely, chocolaty popcorn makes a great treat and will definitely be made again - and again, and again- as gifts and for our own snacking pleasure.  And I recommend that if you decide to make it, plan on making a double batch right from the start.

Turtle Popcorn

3/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 Tbsp. popcorn oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup pecans, rougly chopped
1 cup butter
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven 200.
Over medium high heat, heat 1 tsp oil in whirley popper or large heavy bottom pan.  Add kernels.  Stir continuously until popping has stopped.  Dump popcorn into large roasting pan, add salt and pecans, toss until nuts are evenly distributed.  In large saucepan combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup.  Over medium high heat bring this mixture to a boil.  Keep at a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.  Add chocolate chips, stir until melted and smooth.  Pour over popcorn.  Toss gently with wooden spoon until popcorn is coated.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven.  Pour popcorn onto parchment paper until cool.

Store in tightly sealed continer