Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peppermint Bark Cookies

I love peppermint bark so, naturally, I was very excited to try out this recipe. It is now my new favorite holiday treat. And a very festive addition to my holiday baking! Here's the recipe -

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
1 cup chopped Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (or use crumbled candy canes)
2 ounces white chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving overhang on both short sides of pan.

2. Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.

3. Drop dough into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.

4. Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using small offset spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped candy cane kisses over (or candy canes).

5. Stir white chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. If it’s too tough and thick to stir, add a tiny drizzle of vegetable oil or 1/2 tsp. of shortening to thin it out. Remove from over water. Using fork, drizzle white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

6. Using paper overhang as aid, lift cookie from pan and transfer to work surface. Using large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces.

Cooking Tips:
*DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in refrigerator (or freezer) in airtight containers between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper. Can be stored in the freezer for several weeks.

Yield: About 36 pieces
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Embrace the Camera: December 9, 2010 - Flashback

We didn't take a single picture this week (until today; I got my camera back!), so today's embrace the camera features a flashback to last year at this time. Looking at this picture, I have to laugh. It was only the second week in December, my due date was January 10th, but I was so completely certain that my baby was coming early. In fact, I was pretty confident he'd be here on or before December 29th. He had to be. I was huge. And very uncomfortable. But baby boy didn't show up until January 19th! Yes, 9 days AFTER my due date! Oh well, he came when he was good and ready.

Zoe's hair {and outfit!} crack me up.

To make matters worse, my husband and child liked to mock me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Embrace the Camera: December 2, 2010

My last Embrace the Camera featured pictures from my birthday "party," during which, the flash on my camera completely and randomly died. So, my NEW Nikon was rushed to the shop in hopes that we might get it back before the holidays! Despite the fact that I haven't had my camera, I do have some fabulous embrace-worthy photos to share today. We got the rest of our pictures back from our family photo shoot and I am beyond pleased with them!

There are many more to share, but at an average of 10 minutes per photo to upload onto here, forget it!

Enjoy...and embrace your camera!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I lied. No blueberry spice crumb bars here today. I didn't have all the ingredients on hand, so I opted for a quick and delicious fix that I hadn't tried -- vegan chocolate chip cookies. They are delicious and comforting and homey, just as chocolate chip cookies should be. And, once again, I don't know why I am still surprised by this, they don't taste like they're missing a thing (i.e. butter or eggs). They're amazing. The girls who wrote Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (among other titles) deserve metals - many, many, metals - for they're amazing vegan recipes!!! Did I mention they took about 30 minutes from start to in-my-mouth?!

Picture courtesy of the old Olympus camera!

Chocolate Chip Cookies {adapted from VCIYCJ}
Makes two dozen two inch cookies or about 16 three inch cookies
1/2 brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two large light metal baking sheets.
Mix together sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until it resembles smooth caramel. There is a chemical reaction when sugar and oil collide, so it’s important that you don’t get lazy about that step. Mix in the vanilla.
Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be a little stuff so use your hands to really work them in.
For 3 inch cookies, roll the dough into about ping pong ball size balls. Flatten them out in your hands to about 2 1/2 inches. They will spread just a bit. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes – no more than 9 – until they are just a little browned around the edges. I usually get 16 out of these so I do two rounds of eight cookies. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
For 2 dozen two inch cookies roll dough into walnut sized balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches and bake for only six minutes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red Plate Smoothie?

Baking has been minimal around here the past week or so because we've been so busy, and because a dear friend made me a dairy-free apple crisp for my birthday! I do, however, have a smoothie recipe to share. Fortunately, there is no picture of a smoothie on a red plate (weird) because, unfortunately, my camera is broken!

So here it is, in rough form, because every smoothie (and blender) is different and everyone enjoys a different consistency --

Chocolate Almond Milk
Chunks of frozen bananas
A tad of vanilla extract
A tablespoon or so of cacao nibs
A glob or so of smooth peanut butter, optional
Ice, if needed

Blend to desired consistency and enjoy! Kids love it, too!

Coming up this week - Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Embrace the Camera: November 18, 2010 -- Birthday Edition

Tuesday was my birthday and, boy, did I get spoiled! My sweet husband did so many thoughtful things to make this birthday a special one. I think my most favorite moment was when Zoe came blasting through my bedroom door at 7am (I'm sound asleep, mind you) shouting "Happy birthday, Mommy!" Then she pulled herself up onto the bed, handed me a gift and an envelope. As I opened the card, I heard, in a soft whisper - "go, go" and then, in a sweet little voice - "happy birthday to mommy, happy birthday to mommy..." {Johnnie recorded her singing; it was one of those recordable cards}Ah, it melted my heart. Thank you, Johnnie and Zoe and Colby for making momma feel so special this year!

So, without further ado, here are some photos from my special day --

Discussing the art of blowing out a candle. Zoe loves it.

A special red plate for a red-plate-series-cupcake! (Thanks, mom)
The chaos that is my life :)

Side note #1: I really need to figure out my camera. I think the cupcake is in focus in most of these shots!

Side note #2: I think it's time for an Embrace the Camera: Spouse Edition. We are definitely lacking in that department!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Embrace the Camera: November 11, 2010

This week I am sharing about a sweet routine that's fallen into place in our household. Every night around 6:30-7pm our baby boy crashes and is miserable until he's put to bed. Apparently his daddy was the same way, though I can't imagine :-). So as me and the babe make our way to the back of the house for the last nursing session of the day and bedtime rituals, Zoe and her father snuggle up on the couch to read two Bible books and, Zoe's favorite, Curious George. It's very sweet. And I'm willing to bet it's her favorite time of day. Love them!

Starting to read along :)

Next week, I promise, I'm going to be in the picture!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fun & Fancy Marble Cupcakes!

It was time to switch things up again and try out another cupcake recipe. From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (which I think I'm going to start abbreviating -- VCTOW) here are the Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. Pretty and tasty! I love cake.

Here's another shot because I love the marbling.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Embrace the Camera: November 4, 2010

I wasn't sure if Zoe was really going to get into (or get) halloween but, boy, was I wrong! She loved it. When the first door opened, she said "I want candy." Ha! We worked on that. After each door closed, she ran down the steps saying "another door, another door." It was cute. I don't know if our family will choose to celebrate halloween every year, but for this year, it was fun.

Here we are - me and my monkey. Freezing.

And in the spirit of halloween, here's a picture of Zoe and J just as they are exiting the haunted house -- poor girl!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cowboy Cookies!

"If I ever get back to Oklahoma I'm gonna nail my feet to the ground. Those Oklahoma City girls are fine and Tulsa's quite a town. If I ever get back to Oklahoma I'm gonna nail my feet to the ground."

A little country tune about my hometown in honor of these cookies.

Cowboy Cookies
{Recipe courtesy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar}
Makes 2 dozen (or so) large cookies

2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened, original almond milk)
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup chopped toasted pecan pieces
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a medium-size bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together oil, sugar, brown sugar, nondairy milk, flax seeds, and vanilla. Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half. Just before the mixture is completely combined, fold in the coconut, chocolate chips, and pecans.  
  • For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup of dough (about the size of a golf ball) onto cookie sheets. The dough will be sticky and thick. Leave about 2 inches of space between each cookie. Flatten slightly with moistened fingers or the moistened back of a measuring cup; repeat dipping in water for each cookie. Bake for 14-16 minutes until edges start to brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to complete cooling.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Embrace the Camera: October 28, 2010

There's been a lot of baking going on. But now it's time to embrace the camera. I missed last week. It was a truly hectic week! But, we're back :) This past weekend we met up with our photographer. Here is one of the family shots from our "sneak peek" --

And I must also share this picture because it captures my children so perfectly --

Embrace your camera!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cookie Dough Scoops

Last night J left on a business trip. That means two full days (and nights) of just me and the kids. I knew I had to whip up something for myself and fast! I chose a no-bake, egg free, chocolate chip cookie dough - that will certainly do the trick!

Cookie Dough Scoops {for eating, not for baking!}
Makes a little over 2 dozen "cookies"

1 C dark brown sugar
2 TB sugar
1/4 C nondairy milk (unsweetened, original almond milk)
1/2 C nonhydrogenated margarine, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 C AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 C chocolate chips

  1. In a large mixing bowl, use electric beaters to combine the sugars and the milk until the sugars are moistened. Beat in the margarine and vanilla, creaming the mixture until combined. Add the flour and salt and beat to form a soft, fluffy dough. Use a spatula to fold in the chips.
  2. Place a sheet of waxed paper onto a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out balls of dough onto waxed paper. Freeze 1 hour. Let the cookies stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Store cookies loosely covered in the freezer.
{Recipe courtesy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar}

Carrot Cake Cookies

The proper name for these is "Carrot Raisin Spice Chewies" but I like to call them Carrot Cake Cookies because they contain many of the same ingredients of carrot cake and, well, I love alliteration!

From Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar --

Carrot Cake Cookies
{Makes 2 dozen Cookies}

1/3 C nondairy milk (I used unsweetened, original almond milk)
1 TB ground flax seeds
1/2 C canola oil
1/3 C dark brown sugar
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp finely shredded orange zest
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 C AP Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 C finely shredded carrots, lightly packed
1/2 C shredded coconut (I used sweetened; it does not specify)
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1 C raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the milk, flax, oil, sugars, zest, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, powder, spices, and salt. Stir to moisten ingredients and fold in the carrots, coconut, walnuts and raisins. Dough will be sticky and moist.
  3. Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets, leaving about two inches between each cookie. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the edges are brown and the tops are firm. Let the cookies rest on the sheet for 10 (I don't think I waited that long) minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 
Lemon Glaze
1 1/2 C sifted powdered sugar
2 TB lemon juice (1 lemon should suffice)
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

  1. Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies with a fork or pastry bag.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies

This week's non-dairy baked goods are...cookies! These particular cookies are such a tasty snack. The description in the book - "Add oatmeal to almost anything and suddenly it's healthy" - couldn't be more true. These seem wholesome but, of course, they're not. ;-)

Lately, I've been categorizing my desserts. Some things (like last week's vegan seven layer bars) need to be devoured slowly after the children are in bed so that you can really savor every morsel. These cookies, however, fall into the category of "I need a pick-me-up in order to even make it to bedtime!" I'll be honest with you, though. I had one after my coffee, before my breakfast this morning. Then I had one two after lunch. And I plan on eating another one after the kids are in bed tonight. I guess that technically throws my theory of "categories" out the window. I eat all of these treats whenever I feel like it - a luxury I don't feel too badly about while I'm avoiding dairy and eggs for the sake of my nursing baby. Anywho, here's the picture to get you started. It's not staged, my daughter really was strapped in her high chair reaching for the cookies. It just happened to make a sweet picture.

Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies

2 C quick oats
1 2/3 C AP Flour
2/3 C cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C sugar
2 TB ground flax seeds
2/3 C nondairy milk (I used unsweetened, original almond milk)
2/3 C canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3/4 C chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. In a medium sized bowl, stir together oats, flour, cocoa powder, soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, beat together (a whisk is sufficient) sugar, flax seeds, and milk until smooth. Add the oil and vanilla and almond extracts. Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half. Just before the mix is completely combined, fold in the chips.
  4. For each cookie, drop 2 generous tablespoons of dough onto the sheet, leaving about two inches of space between each cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are firm and risen. Let them rest on the sheet for five minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cinnamon Glaze Icing

I almost didn't make these. The title just wasn't calling my name. I think I was afraid they wouldn't hold a candle to my regular pumpkin bread or pumpkin scones. But, because we're in pumpkin season and I had some left-over pumpkin (that's the last time I'll say pumpkin), I gave them a try. They're so easy and so good! I feel like a lot of you might be thinking "yeah, they're probably vegan good but not dairy and eggs and butter good." But, really, they're just as good! Even the man of the house agrees.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cinnamon Glaze Icing
Courtesy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz {Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World}

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup oil
1 c granulated sugar
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, sugar, soy milk and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir together with a fork -- don't use a mixer, as it will make the batter gummy. Once well combined, fold in the chocolate chips. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let fullly cool before icing.

Cinnamon Icing
1/2 C. confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 T. margarine, melted
1 T. soy milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place sugar & cinnamon in small bowl. Add margarine, soy milk & vanilla and stir with a fork until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to use. The mix should look opaque and honey brown; if it's glistening a lot or looks too liquid, add a little more sugar. Put the icing in a small sandwich bag and cut a hole in it (or use a pastry bag). Pipe icing on in stripes or zigzags or swirls.

Embrace the Camera: October 7, 2010

Today we captured one of our daily activities - the wagon ride. We got some vitamin D and good exercise. And though we only go around the block, it takes about half an hour because we pick up every single dandelion and crunchy leaf along the way. These wagon rides play a vital role in keeping us all sane during the week. Colby never makes a peep while in the wagon (he's been whining a lot lately). And Zoe gets the required exercise needed for her daily nap (which is crucial to ME!) Colby is also sitting up like a big boy in there now which is totally cute.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Magical Coconut Cookie Bars

From Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie we have "Magical Coconut Cookie Bars" which are, essentially, vegan seven layer bars. They are amazing.

Zoom in on this baby, I dare you.
These bars require a good overnight chilling to really firm them up before slicing, so plan accordingly.

Tip: Press the graham cracker crumb crust like crazy into the pan; the more you pat it down the firmer the resulting crust will be.

One 14 oz can (regular or lite) coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
2 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts, chopped

In a large saucepan whisk together coconut milk and brown sugar over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture may form a thin skin on the surface; just stir it back into the liquid. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted margarine and sugar; mix well to moisten crumbs completely. Firmly press mixture into prepared pan, pressing evenly from center to sides of pan.

Pour warm coconut milk mixture evenly over crumb base. Top with an even layer of chocolate chips, flaked coconut and nuts, in that order. Firmly pat everything down until coconut milk mixture soaks upward into the toppings. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until coconut is deeply golden and filling is bubbling, remove from oven and let entire pan cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Transfer pan to the refrigerator to completely cool and firm up for at least 4 hours, even better overnight or until very firm. Use a sharp, heavy knife to run along the edges of bars, slide bars on parchment paper out of pan onto a cutting board then to slice into 24 squares.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. These also freeze well, tightly wrapped and allowed to thaw for 20 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes

I came across a wonderful little cookbook during my search for non-dairy desserts - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It's worth checking out, even if you're not vegan. Rotating milks (cow, rice, almond, soy, etc.) is actually good for our bodies, says my nutritionist. "Rotation, rotation, rotation." Anyway, the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes are a great basic. They are delicious and can be topped with various frostings. This time I or, rather, Johnnie chose the chocolate buttercream frosting and we piled it high. Mmmm. Here's the recipe:

Vegan Golden Vanilla Cupcakes
1 C. soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar 
1 1/4 C. AP flour
2 TB. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (increase to 1/2 tsp. if you're using oil instead of margarine)
1/2 C. margarine, softened, or 1/3 C. canola oil (oil is easier!)
3/4 C. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond, caramel, or more vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin pan with liners. Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled. 

{If using margarine} Sift the flour, cornstarch, powder, soda, and salt into a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, use a mixer at medium speed to cream the margarine and sugar for about two minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and other extract, then alternate beating in the soy milk mixture and dry ingredients, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times. 

{If using oil} Beat together the milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and other extracts in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, powder, soda, and salt and mix until no large lumps remain. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds (seriously, only two-thirds, you don't want muffin tops) of the way and bake for 20-22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting. 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/4 C. margarine, softened
1/4 C. shortening
1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted if there are clumps)
2 1/2 C. icing sugar, sifted
3 TB. soy milk 
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (pure!) 

Cream together the margarine and shortening until well combined. Add the powder and incorporate well. Add the sugar in 1/2 C. batches and beat well, adding a little splash of soymilk after each addition. When all ingredients have been well combined, add the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. 

This is such a bad picture, but it's better than no picture.
 Obviously, I have not figured out how to post in my "recipes" section. If anyone out there wants to give me a tutorial, I'd appreciate it :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Embrace the Camera: September 30, 2010

Style hair or blog? This morning I chose to blog. Who am I kidding, I almost never choose to style my hair! It's a busy day, so let's get to it - it's Embrace the Camera Thursday!

I was spying on dad and baby here, so please pardon all the distracting wood. Looks like Colby is "checking in" with dad. I love how they look to us to know how to feel about certain situations. "Mom thinks this is okay? Okay, I'm good." Know what I mean?

Oh, and I love that dimple.

I'm not in the photo below, but I might as well be. My heart and soul go into my baking and to let a little two year old help me, well, let's just say that's a giant step for this perfectionist! J was out of town until late. Baby was in bed. I wanted to bake some cupcakes, but I didn't want to wait another hour until Zoe went to bed. Plus, I thought she'd enjoy it. She loves helping me do the pancakes and we've done cookies before, too. I'm so glad we did it together. She loved it. She accidentally snorted the cinnamon which caused some upset, but she recovered well. So here she is, fresh out of the bath, pjs on, baking some cupcakes with her momma. How cute is this?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

BETHy Crocker

Once upon a time, friends and family called me Bethy Crocker. I LOVE to bake and my name is Beth (for those who don't know that), so it just made sense. I was famous for pumpkin rolls, sugar cookies, giant chocolate chip cookies, brownies, no-bake cheesecakes (my husband dislikes the baked kind), lemon bars, you name it. Most recently, the husband loves my pumpkin scones. Fast forward five years and here I am nursing an infant with a milk-protein sensitivity along with an egg sensitivity. No baked goodies for this mama. Or so I thought...

A couple of weeks ago I was baking pumpkin scones for our Sunday School kickoff breakfast and I actually couldn't remember how to make them - it had been that long! Disgraceful!  I feel very strongly about my need for something sweet and decadent that TASTES good. I was doubtful I would find such a thing - desserts with no eggs, butter, or milk that actually taste good? No way. But, yes, there is a way! And I will share it with you in hopes that I can help some other mother (or anyone, really) out there who is feeling desperate.

This first recipe I found randomly on the internet, I do not know to whom the credit belongs (and I do not know if that's proper English). These cupcakes are delicious and the icing, well, it's amazing. I made a few changes because I didn't have some of the ingredients on hand. I also didn't have the last cup of icing sugar I needed on hand, so I walked up and down my street asking for "a cup of (icing) sugar" while both children were napping. I had no luck. I mixed all the icing stuff together and added the last cup of sugar a few hours later. No big deal. But all of that is neither here nor there. Here's the recipe: 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup expeller pressed oil (I used olive oil)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
1 cup water (room temperature)
I also added some non-dairy, mini semi-sweet chips, just for fun

Preheat your oven to 350°. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a bowl and whisk well to combine. Mix the oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar together in a separate bowl. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Fill each one 3/4 of the way. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting:
1/4 cup non dairy butter (I used 1/2 C. original Crisco for this and the shortening below)
1/4 cup palm shortening 
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar (make sure you have 2 cups :) ) 
2 tablespoons rice milk 

Beat the non dairy butter and palm shortening with a hand held mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until very smooth. Add the sugar and beat again until combined. With the beater still running, dribble in the rice milk, a little at a time until the frosting is fluffy. Using a pastry bag and large tip, decorate the cupcakes. Enjoy! (I ate 7 of these babies in 36 hours time. They were either really good or I was really desperate. Or, perhaps, both.)  

Look at me - posts on photography, recipes, suckling infants - I could be the next Pioneer Woman! I am from Oklahoma, after all. (By the way, if you don't know who The Pioneer Woman is, you're missing out! Check her out -- The Pioneer Woman). Now I'm off to figure out how to move this post to my "recipes" page and to find my picture of these delicious cakes. I almost never make a recipe that doesn't have a picture to go with it. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Embrace the Camera: The Trying Twos Edition - September 23, 2010

I just love this picture. My two year old daughter is being, well, a two year old, and lately has either been running from the camera or cheesing it up so much that her eyes are closed. Here she is with her daddy in a very natural embrace. The new camera is great at capturing what I once called "my baby, the blur!"

Here's me with the little man again because that two year old was refusing a picture with her mother. Sigh.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Photography: My Brief History

In the fall of 2002, I was enrolled at the University of Tulsa as a freshman with "photography" as my declared major. That seems really hard to believe. And it didn't happen. But it was my dream. I fell in love with photography in high school. Manual photography. Working in the darkroom. I recently found an old syllabus and started reminiscing about how we had to load film - open the canister, cut off the leader, roll it onto the reels, cut off the spool, etc. - all in complete and utter darkness! Such a cool process. I had a very strict teacher who, as she was passing out our final grades at the end of the semester, slapped mine down on the table and said "I don't give A's." I turned it over and there it was - an A. I was so excited. I loved photography AND someone thought I was good at it. TU doesn't have much beyond introductory photography classes, though, and my dad worked at the university, so I got a "free ride" to a very nice private school. Needless to say, I wasn't going anywhere else! After two years of floating from art class to art class, I realized if I wanted to finish school in four years time, I was going to have to change my major to something more realistic. I chose English. And for the next two years, I had rigorous courses with long reading lists and too many paper deadlines to count - ugh! All of that being said, please don't judge my english ;)

I walked into the camera store the other day and felt completely overwhelmed. I was amazed at the dslr! I have a lot to catch up on. It's been eight years since I've practiced photography -- I had to finish school, then I got married, two years later we had our first baby, and now we have another babe. We've been busy around here. But I feel really excited to get back into one of my favorite things! Thank you to my wonderful husband who understands that women (stay at home moms, especially) need "projects" too, and for getting me back into something I love.

We had a photographer take newborn pictures of both of our children while I was on hiatus - a stage we really wanted captured professionally!


Husband using the old point n' shoot for it's "last" photo - we chose the Nikon D90.