Mini Breakfast Cupcakes

“For I have known them all already, known them all:-

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?”

-T.S. Eliot

The other day I posted a poll asking everyone to vote for what cupcake they thought I should make for the Taste of Lake Murray competition, and peanut butter and banana was the winner. Not going to lie…this was probably the one cupcake I was least confident about. Do you make a peanut butter or banana cake, or both? What kind of frosting are we working with? Bananas tend to give everything a brownish hue that I find quite unappealing, or you use an extract that taste nothing like a real banana. In my humble opinion, everything made with banana flavoring taste like banana runts.

Fakey Fakerton Flavor

After brainstorming the various banana and peanut butter combinations I ultimately decided to go with a banana cupcake and peanut butter frosting. Unfortunately, I did not have overly ripe bananas, so instead, before I made dinner I mushed up two bananas in a bowl and let them sit on the counter for several hours. I am not really sure of the science behind my endevour, but it seemed to me that this allowed the banana to develop more flavor as it sat. I thought about taking a picture to demonstrate this technique, but literally nothing in the world looks less appetizing than smushed up bananas browning in a bowl, I thought I would spare you!

Throughout the cupcake making process I repeatedly fiddled with the basic rule of baking by improvizing an adding liquid here and dry ingredients there. Luckily the end result was a delightfully light and moist cupcake rich in flavor, but in no way could you consider it a traditional cupcake, instead, I like to call it a banana bread cupcake. This recipe is on the sweeter/lighter end on the banana bread  spectrum, but one would be hard pressed to find what distinguishes it from banana bread.

Not Your Traditional Cupcake

Even the frosting was not straight forward. Once I settled on a banana cupcake with a peanut butter frosting I instantly knew I wanted a deep, pungent and unadulterated peanut butter flavor. I set out to make a peanut butter fluff frosting, and expected that those might be the only two ingredients I would need.

Fluff!

Wrong! While my peanut butter fluff icing was totally passable, I needed a gallon of milk to wash it down and it totally buried the far more delicate banana flavor of the cake. The frosting was thinned with buttermilk, reconstituted with powdered sugar a few times over.  I even, in the search for more depth of flavor, got a little excited with the cinnamon and dumped several heavy handfuls into the mixer. Ultimately, and I am not really quite sure how, I achieved a pretty awesome light but full of flavor peanut butter icing.

Glossy PB Frosting

These cupcakes will never, ever win a desert competition, but they just might win something in the breakfast category. This is a great twist on traditional banana bread and quite a crowd pleaser. I can imagine these making quite the splash at an early morning tailgate, and knowing Clemson I will have quite a few of those on the docket this year! I hope you enjoy and can brighten someone’s boring breakfast by introducing them to the patent pending “Breakfast Cupcake”, haha just kidding, but no really, these are GOOD!

World Meet the Breakfast Cupcake!!!

Banana Bread Cupcakes

1/2 cup of butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 smashed ripe bananas

1/4 cup butter milk

1/4 cup dark rum

2 1/4 cup pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

Banana Fluff Frosting

17 oz creamy peanut butter

7 oz marshmallow creme

1/4 cup buttermilk (as needed)

1/4 cup powdered sugar (as needed)

2 tsp cinnamon

Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and well grease mini cupcake pan.

Mash ripe bananas in a bowl with potato masher or fork. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Add egg, vanilla, buttermilk, rum and banana.

Combine dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in separate bowl.

Slowly add in flower mixture until fully incorporated.

Fill tin 3/4 of the way full and place in oven.

Cook for 12 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cupcakes sit for 5 minutes, remove from pan and let cool.

Frosting

While cupcakes are cooling combine peanut butter and fluff in mixer. Beat until well incorporated.

Slowly alternate adding in buttermilk and sugar. Continue until the frosting reaches your desired consistancy.

Either pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes and enjoy!

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Birthday Zone Dinner

And when your legs give out just lie right down
And I will kiss you till your breath is found

– Sufjan Stevens

My family is a BIG believer in the birthday zone. When your birthday rolls around not only do you get to celebrate the day of, but maybe the weekend before, of course the weekend after, and quite possibly for the rest of the month. Esq. is quickly getting indoctrinated into this tradition. We started celebrating last weekend in Greenville with his family, the two of us celebrated on Monday (his actual birthday), and finally wrapped up tonight with a home cooked meal with my parents.

Dinner!

 

 

Nothing says Happy Birthday like steak, risotto and fresh brussel sprouts. Actually, Esq.’s precise dinner request was steak, risotto and something green, I got to pick the brussels!

Fresh is best!

 

 

I feel like I have been missing out for most of my life. I only just recently discovered the joys of fresh brussel sprouts, who knew they were so stinkin’ good (kinda literally). Not only are they good, but they are easy. Before I started on the way labor intensive risotto, I cut the stems off and halved two bags of the sprouts. When I had two cups of liquid left to add in the risotto, the lovely Esq. threw the halved and washed sprouts in a large pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them in a 400 degree oven until the risotto was done. Perfection! The sprouts were soft with a cabbage like crunch. The best part, I think, are the leaves that fall off and bake until they are nearly black. My love for the charred leaves is half texture and half flavor, pungent and unique.

Green and Black Have Never Looked so Appetizing!

I put Esq. to work on the steak marinade and veggie dicing (just because you are in the birthday bubble doesn’t mean you can escape kitchen duties, plus he has killer knife skills). While he was busy I got to brush, slice, and cook the mushrooms for the risotto. Cooking the mushrooms in the risotto cast iron pan imparts a richer and earthier flavor to the rice, of course tons of garlic, onion, mushrooms, chicken broth, white wine, and cheese doesn’t hurt!

Never Stop Stiring, Not Even for a Picture!

 

 

A risotto word to the wise is to always add another cup of liquid to the recipe. You pretty much can’t go wrong with adding more, especially if your last cup is a bright, crisp white wine. Cooking wine should always be something you would drink willingly, but there is no need to spend your hard earned money on a bottle that cost more than $10.00. I listened to a great Freakonomics podcast about how knowing the price of wine determines its enjoyment level. Now I have a really hard time justifying the extra expenditure. With the wine I added the mushrooms back into the risotto and stirred until all liquid was absorbed, once it reached the desired consistency I removed from heat and added cheese, my personal favorite part. In this scenario I added Romano and Parmesan.

Plate Full of Yummy!

Once the risotto was pulled, we quickly threw the steaks into a pan and cooked briefly on each side. Esq. really did a wonderful job on the marinade. The steaks were oh so flavorful and juicy.

Birthday Meat

I truly hope he had a wonderful birthday zone, I am sorry to see it come to a close, as I love a good celebration and an excuse to cook yummy food, but I am sure I can come up with another excuse!

Tomorrow I will share my adventure in breakfast cupcakes. On a related note, I will not be serving peanut butter banana cupcakes next week. 🙂

 

Mushroom Risotto

1 cup arborio rice

1 yellow onion chopped

3 garlic cloves diced

1 package baby bella mushrooms

1 package button mushrooms

4 tbs butter

2 tbs olive oil

Salt

Pepper

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup grated romano cheese

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In large cast iron skillet cook 2 tbs of butter, salt, pepper and mushrooms until just tender. Take mushrooms out of the pan and place on the side. Drain any excess liquid, but do not wipe down the pan.

Add remaining butter, olive oil, garlic, and onion to pan over med/high heat for a few minutes or until just translucent.

Add arborio rice, continuously stir until pan becomes very dry and rice just starts to stick. Add one cup of broth, continuously stir until all liquid is absorbed, repeat twice.

It will begin taking longer and longer for the liquid to absorb each time. The final cup should be of wine, at the same add in cooked mushrooms.

Once all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and add cheese. Stir till incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

Mini Cornbread

The air was crisp
Like sunny late winter days
A springtime yawning high in the haze
And I felt like I belonged
Come with me
– Wilco

Day two of operation chili cook off is well underway. Not only did I find out I am an official entrant into the Palladium Society’s Chili Cook off, but I also baked all of my cornbread, all 128 mini muffins of it, to be exact.

128 Bits of Spicy Cornbread Wonderfulness

It is kind of amazing how insignificant 128 mini cornbreads seem to be. I have enough ingredients to probably make an additional 10 batches, except for corn. I might go back and make another 2 batches just so I have enough. Lesson learned when making spicy upside-down cornbread (as outlined in a previous post), only add the chili flakes every other go round. Not all of the pepper was absorbed into the mini breads, but with each batch they got spicier and spicier. Personally, I don’t mind the extra heat, but I will make mention of the cornbread’s spicy nature at the competition.

In order to miniaturize my original recipe, I basically followed it to a tee, only I put a little bit of butter and red pepper flakes into the muffin tins and put them in the oven for 5 minutes while I whipped up the batter.

Buttery Goodness

I used my newly acquired, for the Taste of Lake Murray competition, nonstick mini cupcake pans to make itty bitty baby cornbreads.

Minature = Cute

I filled the tray 3/4 of the way full with my yummy, corny cornbread mixture . Which is of course made from both a wet batter composed of egg, buttermilk (from SC), and corn…

The Wet

and the wild, I mean dry ingredients. I used Adluh corn meal and flour which has been icon in my youth, mostly because there is a giant neon sign in the middle of downtown that alerts everyone to our local milling excellence.

The Dry

And there you have the yummiest little cornbreads the world will ever know. Hopefully, yummy cornbread will make up for the years of experience I lack going into this competition. I did manage to ease my nerves with Dogfish Head’s Sah’tea beer.

 

Dog Fish Head rocks my world!

I first started falling in love with their beer when I watched Beer Wars, a great documentary about the interworkings of the beer industry on Netflix. If you haven’t seen this movie please do, you will never, ever, ever want to drink a Bud again, and I actually don’t think I have since. Unfortunately, we don’t get Dogfish Head in Columbia, but lucky for me Greenville does. This weekend I picked up a special brew  that has chai and juniper, so delish! I can’t wait to go back to G’vegas and snag another, or actually, I can’t wait until they distribute here, but I won’t hold my breath.

Have a wonderful Humpday everyone. Please don’t hesitate to post a comment, I have changed the comment guidelines and you no longer have to log in, so please take advantage of my lax rules and let me know what you think. Thanks!

Also please take the time to vote so I know what cupcake to make next Thursday and test run tomorrow!


 

Birthday Dinner and Day one of Preparation

The soul needs beauty for a soul mate. When the soul wants…the soul waits – U2

Well they had to grease the doors and roll me out, but it was totally worth it.  Awhile back I purchased a Groupon for Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar knowing it would be perfect for celebrating a certain someone’s birthday. Celebrate we did! Solstice runs an amazing special on Mondays and Tuesdays. They offer a three course menu for a mere $25 and half price wines. Luckily this year Esq.’s birthday fell on a Monday and we took full advantage of all of the great deals. I felt a little guilty, like I stole from them or something, when I got such a tiny bill but felt so extraordinarily full. As promised I took pictures, but they don’t do justice.

Every meal, as far as I am aware, starts with a tasty treat from the chef, I love this idea! It is usually something I would never order on my own but is always super tasty. Tonight we were served Cream of Asparagus or Asparagus Bisque, I didn’t quite catch the name. Either way, it was a delightful little bowl of asparagus awesomeness with goat cheese lurking just beneath the surface. Very scrumptious and even better when I used my fresh multigrain bread to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Compliments of the Chef

Next on the docket was our yummy appetizers. I ordered Pork and Pistachio Pate with a cherry/raspberry mustard sauce and City Roots Micro Greens, Sunflower Seeds, and Egg on the side. Oh man, so good! I have recently discovered my deep and unabiding love for micro-greens, when you pair that with a lovely seared pate that would I have to describe as tasting most similarly to a very light sausage with a bright and tart mustard sauce I am in heaven!

So good I had to take a bite first!

Esq. went with the Oysters Solisticefeller. They looked to die for, and I will have to take his word that they were. They consisted of oysters with spinach-parmesan cream sauce, prosciutto, and herb breadcrumbs. I wanted to, and was offered, a bite, but I knew I had plenty of food left waiting to come my way.

Oysters Solsticefeller

Now for the best part, main courses! I ordered the Mahi Mahi with a miso and ginger glaze/sauce topped with pineapple and calamari slaw, served with jasmine rice and soy stewed baby carrots. I have never had anything that so elegantly tipped toed the line of over salted without crossing it. In my adult life I have never been a fan of cooked carrots, but I am a total convert. The depth of flavor and perfect, not mushy consistency cause me to scarf, yes, literally scarf, them down first. So good!

Mahi Mahi

Esq. ordered Brown Sugar-BBQ Grilled Pork Tenderloin with apple cider bbq sauce, green tomato relish, smoked gouda-bacon mac & cheese, and sautéed green beans. While I don’t think either of us are going to ditch our much beloved golden bbq sauce, the smoked gouda-bacon mac & cheese was worth the imminent heart attack. I believe my description was along the lines of “there is so much rich cheese that it is coating the inside of my mouth that I think if someone got a cracker and scraped the inside of my cheek they would have cheese and crackers”. Lovely dinner time conversation, I know. He sure knows how to pick a winner!

Birthday Boy!

Our meal was concluded by totally unneeded but throughly enjoyed desserts. When ordering our three course meal Pecan Caramel Fudge Cake sounded like a great idea. A few bites into my entree, however, I quickly realized I could have gone for a much, much, lighter dessert. Its a good thing I ordered at the beginning though, because it was soooo good. I am glad I was full so I couldn’t polish it off as there were probably more calories than one would ever want to know. The cake was dense with a moist layer of almost a ganache like topping. The garnish consisted of broken heath bar, pecans and caramel drizzle. I want to have this again, or maybe try my hand at a cupcake spinoff in the near future.

Pecan Caramel Fudge Cake

Esq. decided, by process of eliminating all things with nuts, to have the creme brulee cheesecake, which I heard was very good. At this point in the evening I was so full I don’t think you could have fit one more bit of food down my gullet. I didn’t think cheesecake would be worth the rest of the evening spent in agony.

Birthday Cake

Overall, we had a truly wonderful time celebrating his birthday and indulging in great food and wine. If you live in Columbia I highly recommend checking out Solstice, especially on a Monday or Tuesday!

In non-birthday related news…

I had quite the scare this afternoon when I went to turn in my chili cook off entry form. I had planned to leave work early to drop of the form only a couple blocks away. As I sat down to write the entry fee check at 4:05 and flipped the pages looking for who to make it out to, I noticed in large letters “Due by 4pm on Monday 2/21/11”. After sending a frantic email with all of my information I got the wonderful news that the entry deadline was extended until tomorrow, phew! So I am now officially a Palladium Society Chili Cook Off competitor.

 

Chili Cook Off Plan of Attack!

Home, where my thoughts escape, at home, where my music’s playin’
Home, where my love lies waitin’ silently for me – Paul Simon

Before I go over my plan of attack let me start out by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Esq.!!! We spent this gorgeous weekend celebrating with his family in one of my favorite cities in the world, Greenville. Tomorrow/today, depending on when I actually get this posted, is his actual birthday, and we are celebrating at Solstice, one of Columbia’s yummiest dining locationss. I will try to take pictures and document our meal to share!

Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar

Preparation week!

We are getting down to the wire in terms of the cook off, and I need to write out my plan of attack so I don’t have a major freak out on Friday when I realize nothing is done and all the stores are closed. The plan is as follows:

Monday: Celebrate Esq.’s birthday, figure out the exact recipe and write a shopping list, and submit my entry form

Shopping List!

Tuesday: Make and freeze cornbread bites for 100. Outside of cornbread, hopefully I will be able to try my hand at a cupcake recipe or two in preparation for the Taste of Lake Murray competition.

Cornbread

Wednesday: This will be the day that I figure out what I can buy where. The only farmers market going on that I am aware of is the All Locals farmers market at 701 Whaley, but it is on Saturday, there by preventing me from being able to get ingredients. I am going to check out Rosewood Market, Piggly Wiggly, Fresh Market, Ole Timey Meat Market and other local butchers. Hopefully, I will be able to find everything I need and at a good price, considering I am going to be cooking for 100.

Rosewood Market

Thursday: Decorations! Time to get my arts and farts on, I couldn’t resist a good ole’ camp joke. I need to make a sign for the table, hopefully I can print up some business cards, and I want to find a way to credit all of the local retailers I used. I also need to make sure I have all of my supplies ready to go; enough crock pots, thermometer, utensils, and the like.

Decorations

Friday: Do or die time. There has been talk of a chili party by some wonderful friends who have volunteered their time and knifemanship in support of  endeavor, and I can not thank them enough!

Pot 1

Pot 2

Pot 3

I am ready to get this ball rolling!

Once again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Esq.!!!!

Cupcake Competitors

I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle! – Alice in Wonderland

What a great night! This blogging endeavor has been one of the the greatest personal leaps of faith to date. Granted this is only my 9th entry, but I don’t think I could stop now if you made me. When I started I assumed I would be met with flat out rejection and disinterest, but slowly but surely I am being proven wrong and it is rocking my world!

 

The World of Blogging

 

I always knew there were cooking competitions out there; Pilsbury, The South Carolina State Fair (oh yeah!), and the like, but I never really realized how many there were. My coworker approached me yesterday to see if I was interested in entering an item into the Taste of Lake Murray competition, suggesting that my red velvet cupcake might be a good contender. I have turned into a cooking competition yes man, if you give me the details I will be there!

Cupcakes!

I thought serving 100 people at the chili cook off was intimidating, well it is looking like at the Taste of Lake Murray I am going to be aiming for roughly 200 cupcakes. That is 200 scooped, baked, cooled, ganached, cooled, frosted, and decorated cupcakes. Cue the minor heart attack. I don’t think I have ever made a batch of anything that large in my life. EEEeeekkk!

Cupcake War Zone

As a way to combat boredom and frustration during the baking process I struck upon the idea of have three different kinds of cupcakes available. Red Velvet is a lock. I am fairly certain I have a lemon cupcake that could knock the pants off of the competition, and that is where I am stuck. Other cupcakes on the docket include:

  • Mocha/Cappuccino (topped with a chocolate covered coffee bean)
  • Chocolate Coconut
  • Carrot Cake
  • Almond/Marzipan
  • Apple Caramel Streusel
  • Peanut Butter Banana

I haven’t ever made some of the cupcakes listed above so I might have to do a little trial and error. I am not really sure. Let me know what you think. What flavors compel you to stop and have to have a taste. What would keep you coming back for more.

 

Courtesy of IStockPhoto

My only goals when I started this blog was to have an outlet for my creativity and to get my butt in to the kitchen and try new things. I think I am well on my way, and I have already gained so much more. Thank you so much for all of your support! Tell your friends! Subscribe! Follow me on twitter!

THANK YOU!

The Nitty Gritty…

Hold your own

Know your own name

And go your own way

And everything will be fine

-Jason Mraz

This blog is being brought to you live from The Thirsty Fellow.

The Thirsty Fellow

That’s right. That makes me the girl at the bar, or in this case the booth, who is typing away and staring in an overly concerned manner at her computer screen. This is dedication! While I sip on my Allagash White I am going to go over the details of what is involved in entering the Chili Competition and what I will be working on in the next few days.

Allagash White

I have decided the chili I am going to make is….LOCOvore Chili. Incase you are not yet hip to my super witty puns, that would be a chili sourcing local ingredients. The most important thing I need to do in the next few days is find which local ingredients I am going to use. The Certified SC website is a great place for South Carolinians to go and find where and what they can buy locally.

Certified SC

 

 

The keys to my chili will be ground beef, beans, tomatoes , peppers and corn. The only thing that I am nearly 100% sure I can’t find locally is the beans. Otherwise, I am going to check the various local farmers markets and Piggly Wiggly for what I can use in my LocoVore chili. I love Piggly Wiggly because when work and other commitments cause me to miss out on farmers markets I can always go to the Pig who I know will always have a great variety of locally grown products. In the summer you can always count on them to have the best peaches, outside of a roadside stand that is.

The Pig!

 

 

Probably the scariest aspect about this whole venture is that not only do I have to feed 100 people, but I have to keep it warm. Looks like someone will be taking a trip to Wally World soon to buy a few new crock-pots, and that someone’s name starts with a C and ends with an ooktestant.

On the fun end of logistics, I have decisions to make regarding condiments and table decor. Now that I have shared with everyone my favorite cornbread I just don’t think its fair to not have cornbread to serve with the chili. As I recall pretty much every booth had crackers for use in their chili, some had cheese, and some had gold fish (which is brilliant, btw). I feel like a good cornbread (obviously in crouton size portions) would set me apart from the crowd. Additionally, I want to continue the local theme in my hot sauce by using Palmetto Pepper Potions Trenholm Venom.

Trenhom Venom

 

 

Decorations will just have to wait to be decided, but I am thinking a large LocoVore sign, and descriptions of all of the farms that the ingredients are from. If you have any stellar ideas, please do not hesitate to share, I can use al the help I can get.

Alright, its time to put the computer away and be social, but before I do I just wanted to share with everyone the most awesome sounding recipe I have ever found! While checking all of my personal favorite food related blogs today I stumbled upon Avacado Fries over at A Cozy Kitchen. You can thank me later.