Sunday, January 20, 2013

Birthday Cupcakes

This week the kids helped me bake cupcakes for their cousin's sixth birthday. I used a recipe from Perfect Cupcakes. It is a nice little cupcake book because all the recipes make just a small batch of six cupcakes. This time, however, we doubled it so we could deliver some to the birthday boy and enjoy some for ourselves too.

They were a very yummy cupcake and the frosting was not overly sweet. You can change it up by adding different color confetti or sprinkles. It would also be a delicious vanilla cupcake if you left out the sprinkles altogether. I treated myself to a new piping tip so I could pipe the frosting on like all the fancy cupcake shops.

Vanilla Rainbow Cupcakes (from Perfect Cupcakes)
3/4 C. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 C. butter, at room temp
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 C. milk
1/4 C. multi-colored sprinkles, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 6-cup standard muffin pan by greasing cups or inserting liners. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, using a hand-held mixer on medium speed, cream together butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light. Gradually beat in half of the flour mixture. Beat in the milk and then the remaining flour mixture until blended. Fold in half of the sprinkles. Divide batter equally among the prepared cups. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly tapped, 20-25 min. Cool on wire rack for 10 min, then turn out and cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream
1 1/2 C. confectioners' sugar
1/2 C. butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. heavy cream

In a medium bowl, use a hand-held mixer on medium speed to beat together the confectioners' sugar and butter until blended. Beat in the vanilla; then, beat in enough of the cream to achieve a soft consistency suitable for spreading or piping. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with the frosting and pipe onto the cupcakes. Scatter the remaining sprinkles over the frosting.

I've also been flipping through the Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes since my mom gave it to me for Christmas. It is a wonderful resource for basic cupcake and frosting recipes, unique flavors, and creative ideas for decorating cupcakes. It also gives hints if you need to take a shortcut with a box mix. I see more cupcakes in our future. They're fun to play with and, unlike baking a whole cake, you can end up with a smaller portion to enjoy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A New Way to Sell: ShopLocket

I'm excited to try out a new way to sell my handmade items. While I haven't given up on selling on Etsy, it is a lot of work to photograph my items and prepare the listings. So, I'm giving another website a try. It's called ShopLocket. Unlike Etsy, I don't have an online "shop." Instead, I share my items through my blog and my Facebook page.

I've added a link on the right of my blog. If you click on it, it will take you to where you can see all of my products that are currently for sale. So far, I've just added a few things for Valentine's Day, but I thought I'd start small while I give ShopLocket a try. If you choose to purchase something from me through ShopLocket, you can pay with a PayPal account. Should you need the item shipped, please email me so we can make arrangements for this. If you're local to me, we can make arrangements for pick-up.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

First of all, Happy New Year! I hope your year is getting off to a great start. It was nice to have some time with family over the holidays, but also nice to get back into a more regular routine. It's my first post of 2013 and I thank you for stopping in. If you're not already a follower of my blog, click the link on the right of the page to become a follower. It's the same as "liking" a page on Facebook and just lets me know who's reading.

We have soup at least once a week in the winter. I am a big fan of Chicken Tortilla Soup, but all of my recipes turned out soup that was too spicy for my little ones. I often throw together chicken vegetable soups with what we have on hand so I figured I could do the same to get a Chicken Tortilla Soup that was milder, but still full of flavor.
Here's my recipe...

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 can diced tomatoes (I used frozen diced ones from our garden)
1 can black beans (I used frozen cooked beans)
1 C. frozen corn
8 C. chicken broth
1/2 C. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

For Garnish: cilantro, avocado, shredded cheese, tortillas strips*, and a squeeze of a lime if you like

Put broth, chicken, corn, tomatoes, onion, cumin and garlic together in a soup pot. Simmer over low heat until onions are near tender (about 20 min). Add black beans and cook for 10 min. more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*To make homemade tortilla strips or chips, cut tortillas (flour or corn-we prefer corn) into desired shape. Place on greased cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and/or chili powder. Bake at 400 degrees until crispy.

If you'd like a spicier version, simply add more cumin and throw in a can or two of diced green chilies.