December 31, 2013

Christmas Tree Cookie Stacks & the Year in Review

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!

Can you believe that 2013 is over you guys? It had its ups and downs, but I have to say, it was a better year than 2012, for many reasons. Still no series 3 of Sherlock, though (but soon, very soon).

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2013:

  1. Easy Apple Cobbler
  2. Bananas are Good Frozen Nutella-Covered Bananas
  3. Lemon Bubble Ring
  4. Individual Elvis Pies
  5. Peanut Butter Cookies
  6. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
  7. Dalek Cupcake Tutorial
  8. DIY TARDIS Dress
  9. Doctor Who Round Up
  10. Bad Wolf Cupcakes
I'm definitely noticing a theme here. That's five Doctor Who themed posts (one more subtle than the others), 3 peanut butter recipes, and 2 so-easy-they-barely-qualify recipes. And lemon bubbles, which are just awesome. I have one rule when I write this blog: I assume there is at least one other person out there just like me, who wants to read what I want to write about. By the looks of this list, that rule pays off.

And the Bad Wolf Cupcakes were a bit of a surprise, but I'm starting to suspect Rose Tyler had something to do with that...

Honorable Mentions (My Top 3):

My Family's Favorites:

Most Pinned on Pinterest:

These both kind of went viral on Pinterest (the marshmallows thanks to a pin from Recipe Girl *starry-eyed fangirl moment*) shocking the crap out of me.

My Favorite Search Terms:
  1. My brain is leaking
  2. Why is Nathan Fillion getting fat 2013
  3. Don't involve me
  4. Nathan Fillion singing peanut butter song
  5. Nerdy Nummies helping hands fanfic The Nerdy Nummies helping hands videos are funny, but not so much I'll write a fanfic for them. Watch them here
  6. Non-sucky homemade gifts
  7. Velvet Elvis Castle fanfic
  8. Dalek shower
  9. Epic bean dip
  10. Bad Wolf Okay, so not funny, but it's one of my TOP search terms, which tickles me
As I have each year since the beginning of the blog, I've also included a recipe with your Year in Review round up: These super cute, super easy Christmas tree cookie stacks
Except, it's not really a recipe. More of a method. You just start with any roll-out cookie dough (I used LilaLoa's End-All Chocolate Cookie Recipe (These are my go-to roll out cookes because a) chocolate b) no chill variation c) yum) plus 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract).
Using graduated star cutters (I got mine at Home Goods. They're an imported brand, I think Italian?), cut two of each size for each cookie stack (3 of the smaller stars so you can put one on top)
Melt some white candy melts (I like the ones they sell at Candyland. They taste better and melt smoother) with a splash of peppermint extract (flavoing oil is better because it doesn't have water, but if the chocolate seizes, just add a little shortening or vegetable oil. The Candyland chocolate didn't seize, but the Wilton's did). Dip the face of the cookies in white chocolate, and stack to look like Christmas trees.
Add sprinkles if desired, and stand a star on top. Et voila. Christmas tree cookie stacks. A unique and fun way to give out cookies, and easy enough for the kiddos to help.

And you know, my stats for the year show that you guys are a lot like me, so don't ever hesitate to reach out. Facebook, Twitter, email. Do you have a fandom you want recipes for? Do you have a question about baking? Do you think I got something wrong? Do you just want to talk? I'd love to hear from you guys more.

Here's to more geeky, sugary goodness in the New Year. Happy 2014, lovelies!

December 27, 2013

Stuff and Things Christmas Edition

Life as I Know it

I feel like I've barely had the chance to breathe since last week. Holidays be cray. I thought I would have the time to crank out a little Christmas post on Wednesday, but no. I haven't even turned my computer on since last...Thursday? Friday? It's been a long week.

Did you guys get anything good for the holidays? My aunts have decided to enable my obsessions, and I got the Recipe Girl cookbook and a sampler of all-natural extracts (did you know that mango extract exists? Well I now own it. What do you think I should make with it?). Plus a Dr. Horrible/Doctor Who mash-up (Dr. Whorrible?) t-shirt because REASONS.

I also got a custom-art shopping bag designed by my super talented 6-year-old cousin AJ. Be jealous. (He loved my present-- a helicopter that transforms into a velociraptor. Luckily, the things I think are cool are things that 6-year-old boys think are cool. I had to tear myself away from the Avengers toys. I wanted the Captain America plushie)

And if you ever want to see a whirlwind of pure Christmas joy and destruction, let two 2-year-old boys loose on some wrapped presents. CC and little B are only one or two weeks apart in age, and they're totally already best friends. And when it came time for presents, the two of them just went completely bonkers. It was the funniest thing. Screaming, running, hands in the air, no present left undemolished. I can't even imagine what they were like Christmas morning with the presents from Santa.
I also made lots of homemade mixes for presents. I made my yellow cake mix (chai tea version), red velvet cake mix, and devil's food cake mix, along with this brownie mix, this hot cocoa mix, and I mixified this chocolate stout cake recipe for a beer-loving uncle.

I also made gingerbread for the very first time. I didn't actually have any, because I'm not a fan, but everyone said it was very good. Of course, they could have just been talking about the browned butter icing I slathered on top. :D
I don't normally do traditional cut-out cookies for Christmas, but I had some extra roll-out dough from something else I was making, so I broke out the cookie cutters. I didn't know what to do with the gingerbread men, so I used red sanding sugar and said they were red shirts. Because I'm a nerd, and if you understand that reference, you are too.

Doctor Who- The Christmas special was...

December 22, 2013

Icicle Candy and Reindeer Snacks #SundaySupper

This week's #SundaySupper is all about holiday music, movies, and TV specials.

I'm not gonna lie, my first instinct was to go with the Doctor Who Christmas specials, but short of a gingerbread TARDIS, there was nothing I could think of for it. And I didn't want to make a gingerbread TARDIS. So I went with my second instinct: cheesy, kiddie, made-for-TV Christmas movies. Not the Hallmark ones, because those try too hard and are unnecessarily dramatic and have no fun things to distract me from the gaping plot holes. No, I mean the ones meant for small children. The ones with magic and reindeer and Santa Claus.

My favorite in this genre is a movie called Snow. It's about Nick Snowden, a man approaching his first Christmas as the "big SC," who lost one of his reindeer, Buddy, and has to rescue him from the zoo before Christmas Eve, or Christmas will be ruined forever.

I can't say what it is about this movie that I like so much. There's storyline inconsistencies, plot devices that don't make a whole lot of sense, and they do over-cheese a couple of scenes, but I just love it. It might just be a case of the right actors with the right script, but there's just something very charming and very real about it.
It could also be that I totally get the main female lead, Sandy. I'd totally fall for Tom Cavanagh's awkwardly charming Nick, too. And there's that scene when he's on the ladder, and she gets caught looking that I think really sets her apart from others in the holiday-movie-female-lead category. Anyway, if you can catch it on ABC Family, I recommend it. And the sequel, though that has some larger plotholes.

Since the movie is meant for children, there's obviously no cursing. In fact, all of Nick's curses are holiday terms. Including when he says, "oh, icicles."
When I thought to make icicle candy, it sounded a lot better in my head than it actually was in practice. First I tried a recipe that used the microwave, no special tools required. My microwave is apparently super powered, because I burned the sugar. Badly. It was the color of coffee. Strong coffee.

So I tried this recipe(halved) from Martha Stewart. Much harder, since it uses pulled sugar, but more reliable. Let's just say, it was the first and last time I will ever work with pulled sugar. It was a pain to work with. And painful to work with. I had on some heavy duty rubber gloves, the kind that I use when washing dishes in scalding water, and my fingertips are still red and sensitive. Plus, I only got one good looking one. I was using some expletives a lot stronger than icicles, if y'know what I mean. I did get one, so it wasn't a total fail, but I do not recommend it unless you've got seriously tough hands made out of asbestos or something.
Of course, I couldn't forget about Buddy, since the movie would have never happened if he hadn't wandered off and got captured by Buck, the jerk poacher with a thing for Sandy (that apparently thinks giving illegal reindeer to her zoo is a good idea? They never really explain that). In Snow, it's Buddy's first Christmas too, but he hasn't yet learned to fly (which is why he needs Nick's help to escape from the zoo), but as he's learning, he leaps over the fence to steal a chocolate bar from the security guard. But in the sequel, Buddy's having some trouble fitting into his harness, so Nick puts him on a diet and exercise plan.

These "reindeer snacks" are actually chocolate cherry almond granola clusters, which would be a great way to satisfy Buddy's sweet tooth while giving him the energy to hoof it up on the treadmill. Reindeer like oats and plus, I think even Santa would enjoy the (slightly) healthier, but still sweet and tasty, break from all the milk and cookies.

Full disclosure: this was not supposed to be chocolate granola. I was following my patented I-don't-need-no-stinkin'-recipe method, and I added chocolate chips, not thinking that all the way through. When I went to stir the granola, it became chocolate granola. And I might be breaking some cardinal granola rules with my haphazard method, but I haven't been able to stop eating it, so I don't think I really care.
Chocolate Cherry Almond Granola Clusters
AKA Reindeer Snacks

1½ cups old fashioned oats
¾ cup sliced almonds
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup dried cherries
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
⅓ cup agave nectar (maple syrup would also work)
2 tbsp. nut butter (almond, preferably)
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the first 6 ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together until smooth (warm the nut butter to make this easier). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and mix until well coated. Spread evenly onto the prepared pan.

Bake for 10 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is evenly distributed. Bake for another 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the oats are toasted and fragrant. Shape into clusters of the desired size, and allow to cool completely on the pan.

Recipe by Kim
Thanks to Tammi from Momma's Meals for hosting this week. Comes see how the rest of the #SundaySupper crew is getting into the holiday spirit:

Party Appetizers & Snacks:
Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary & Vanilla-Inspired by the song "Christmas in the Trenches"- Shockingly Delicious
Roasted Chestnuts Inspired by the movie "The Christmas Song" - Food Lust People Love
A Popcorn Trio Inspired by the song "Let it Snow" - Hot Momma's Kitchen Chaos
Chai Tea Abominable Snow Buddies Inspired by the movie "Rudolph" - Cupcakes & Kale Chips 
Raisin Bran Muffins for a Crowd Inspired by the movie "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" - In The Kitchen With Audrey and Maurene
Icicle Candy and Reindeer Snacks Inspired by the movie "Snow" - Treats & Trinkets
A Christmas Carol Plum Pudding Inspired by the movie "A Christmas Carol" - No One Likes Crumbley Cookies 
Yukon Mashed Potato Cakes Inspired by the movie "Rudolph" - Cookin' Mimi
Christmas Pudding Inspired by the song "Over the River and Through the Woods" - A Kitchen Hoor 
Pumpkin Pudding Inspired by the movie "Nightmare Before Christmas" - Basic N Delicious
Elf-Inspired Christmas "Grams" Inspired by the movie "Elf" - MarocMama 
Sugarplums Inspired by the movie "The Nutcracker" - Happy Baking Days 
Chai Spiced Roasted Nuts Inspired by the song "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" - Take A Bite Out of Boca

Festive Main Dishes
Maple Syrup Spaghetti- Inspired by the movie "Elf"- Momma's Meals
Who Hash Inspired by the movie "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" -girlichef 
Ginger Orange Glazed Cornish Hens Inspired by the song "The 12 Days of Christmas" -Sue's Nutrition Buzz 
NY Hot Dog with Sabrett-style Onion Sauce Inspired by the movie "Die Hard" - Small Wallet, Big Appetite 
Classic Caesar Salad Inspired by the movie "The Santa Clause" - The Little Ferraro Kitchen 
Individuals Meatloaves & Horseradish Mashed Potatoes for Mommy's Little Piggies - Inspired by the movie "A Christmas Story" - The Not So Cheesy Kitchen 
Christmas Waffles Inspired by the TV special "A Claymation Christmas Celebration" - Curious Cuisiniere
Filthy Animal Pizza Inspired by the movie "Home Alone" - Foxes Love Lemons
Chicken Orzo Soup Inspired by the song "12 Days of Christmas" - Family Foodie
Brandied Candied Sweet Potatoes Inspired by the song "Christmas Is The Time To Say ‘I Love You’ " - Cindy's Recipes and Writings

Sweet Holiday Treats:
Gin and Tonic Cupcakes Inspired by Adam Sandler's " The Chanukah Song" - The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars Inspired by the movie "Love Actually" - Magnolia Days 
Gingerbread Marshmallows Inspired by the song "Marshmallow World" - Jane's Adventures in Dinner
Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies Inspired by the movie "The Gremlins" - Killer Bunnies, Inc 
White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge Inspired by the song "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" - Alida's Kitchen 
Snowball Cookies - Inspired by the movie "White Christmas" -The Foodie Army Wife 
Penuche Fudge Inspired by the movie "Elf" - Pies and Plots
Hot Chocolate Cookies Inspired by the movie "Santa Clause" - Mess Makes Food
South Pacific Coconut Tres Leche Cake Inspired by the movie "South Pacific" -The Ninja Baker 
Cookies & Cream Fudge Inspired by the movie "Elf" - The Messy Baker

Cozy Drinks:
Toasted Coconut Hot Cocoa- Inspired by the song "Let It Snow"- Chocolate Moosey 
The Christmas Gram Inspired by the movie "Elf" - An Appealing Plan 
Eggnog Hot Chocolate Inspired by the movie "National Lampoons Christmas Vacation" - Peanut Butter and Peppers 
Vermont Hot Cocoa Inspired by the movie "White Christmas" - Kudos Kitchen By Renee
Spiked Hot Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Floats Inspired by the song "Holly Jolly Christmas " -NeighborFood
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

December 18, 2013

Gifts from the Kitchen Round Up

Hey guys, I'm giving myself a little holiday break. Not from baking, since I'll be doing plenty of that. Mostly from photographing and editing pictures and trying to be witty as I tell you anecdotes from my life. (Although, we recently had a theft at work. Someone stole a tin of... cookies. And I've had to scour security camera footage to see if I can nab the thief red handed. Can anyone confirm the Cookie Monster's alibi? I'm starting to suspect the Borrowers, though. #caseofthemissingcookies)

But I won't leave you high and dry. If you're like me, you're not done with your holiday shopping yet. So here are some posts from the blog that make thoughtful (and great last-minute) presents. (Collages are clickable)

Homemade Red Velvet Cake Mix Homemade Yellow Cake Mix Homemade Spice Cake Mix Homemade Devil's Food Cake Mix Homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Mix Apple Cheddar Scone Mix Easy Homemade Gift Sets Image Map
Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies French Butter Cookies Mini Chai Tea Cakes Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Peanut Butter Bars Zucchini Brownies Sweet & Salty Nutella Brownies Fudge Frosted Brownies Peanut Butter Nutella Slutty Brownies Jammie Dodgers Chocolate Pudding Brownies Banana Cookies Image Map
Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies French Butter Cookies Zucchini Brownies Sweet & Salty Nutella Browni Fudge Frosted Brownies Peanut Butter Nutella Slutty Brownies Mini Chai Tea Cakes Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies Peanut Butter Blondies White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Jammie Dodgers Banana Cookies Chocolate Pudding Brownies Image Map
Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies Jammie Dodgers Peanut Butter Nutella Slutty Brownies French Butter Cookies Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies Banana Cookies White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Peanut Butter Blondies Fudge Frosted Brownies Sweet & Salty Nutella Brownies Zucchini Brownies Chocolate Pudding Brownies Mini Chai Tea Cakes Image Map

December 13, 2013

Stuff and Things 12/13/13

Life as I Know It
Happy friday the thirteenth! The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug is coming out today. If it wasn't for Martin Freeman and my imaginary hubby, I wouldn't want to see it at all. Apparently they added a love triangle? I mean, I don't remember any romance in the book, so I'm very confused. And I don't know who exactly is in the triangle. Bilbo, Smaug, and the lady elf they added? Lady elf better give it up, because the bromance between Martin and Benedict verges on the epic. Guys, I'm a giant Tolkein nerd, but meh.

Speaking of Martin and Benedict, they've released a date for series 3. *dies* January 1st in the UK and January 19th in the US. YAY, they won't make us wait six months!

Apparently I speak nerd so fluently that people around me start picking it up. G's (my co-worker) son's girlfriend apparently wanted Doctor Who pj pants for Christmas, and G was very proud of herself for knowing what that was. And I had to stifle my giggles, because all I could think about was Captain America in The Avengers saying, "I understood that reference!"
But I couldn't actually giggle because she wouldn't have understood that reference. We're working on it.

My car should be coming in next week. *fingers crossed* Hooray!

My giveaway ends on Sunday. Make sure to enter if you haven't already.

Random Things I Wish to Share
This BuzzFeed article has made its rounds through pretty much every one of my friends on Facebook. It's funny cause it's true: 21 Questions New Jerseyans are Tired of Hearing

I love Grumpy cat and Oskar the blind kitty, and this music video starring them is super adorable:

Speaking of super adorable, here's a video of Tom Hiddleston dancing. You're welcome

And you didn't think I'd really skip the new series 3 trailer, did you?


December 11, 2013

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

You know the downside of wanting something made into a movie? If it does become a movie, and it sucks, it feels like it's partly your fault. You willed it into being, right? That means you're to blame.

A current topic of conversation between my brother and me has been the possibility of a Deadpool movie. I think we're pretty much in agreement that it could be awesome, but only if it's done right. We've seen that superhero movies can very easily go wrong, and a movie about a tragically flawed anti-hero assassin with a love of pancakes that regularly breaks the forth wall, well... I don't know much about movies, but I do know that doesn't sound like an easy task.

And then I read on Wikipedia that the character my brother said sorta seemed Deadpool-ish from one of the X-Men movies (Wolverine Origins, I think), except, you know, wrong, well, he's actually supposed to be Deadpool, and they might be making a movie about him. Played by Ryan Reynolds. You know, Ryan Reynolds who kind of sucked as one of my favorite DC superheroes, the Green Lantern? Yeah, he's supposed to be Deadpool.

This is all my fault because I wanted a Deadpool movie. I'm just going to drown my sorrows in these bars, mmkay?
These were originally meant to be an experiment to see if I could make brownies with white chocolate the same way you make them with regular chocolate. But of course, I wasn't following a recipe, and I added peanut butter, and I ended up with these firm, cakey bars. Not the white chocolate brownies I'd been trying to make, but too delicious not to share.

These are not overly sweet. The peanut butter is the most prominent flavor, but with the light sweetness of the white chocolate coming in behind it. The texture is a cross between a cookie bar and a cake. It's light but firm. It's a thoroughly unfussy dessert, great for the lunchbox, or for stuffing in your face while trying to psychically will Joss Whedon to take over the Deadpool movie.
And don't forget to enter my giveaway! It ends this Sunday, tell your friends.

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Yield: 12 servings

4 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup creamy peanut butter
3 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1¼ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup peanut butter chips
½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 7x11 inch baking dish with parchment paper. In the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler, melt together the baking chocolate, butter, and peanut butter. Allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Add in the melted chocolate mixture and mix well. Gently fold in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the peanut butter and white chocolate chips, reserving about 1/4 cup.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan (the batter will be thick). Sprinkle the reserved chips on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned, and the top bounces back when lightly pressed. Cool completely before cutting.

Tip: For the drizzle, I just melted a spoonful of peanut butter with some white chocolate chips together in the microwave. You don't need much.

Recipe by Kim

December 8, 2013

2 Year Blogiversary Giveaway!!!

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was writing a novel as part of a semi-masochistic writing challenge. The girl was angry because the novel was trying to kill her, so she ignored it for a bit and decided to start a new venture. A baking blog. Then the girl realized she only had two days to finish her novel, and didn't post again until more than a week later, her very first recipe post, these Banana Cookies.

That post was two years ago today. The girl didn't know much about blogging back then-- she still maybe doesn't know as much as she should-- but since that first post, blogging has become an irrevocable part of her life.

That's right, folks. It's the two year anniversary of my-first-recipe-post-because-having-important-things-during-November-is-just-no. Also known as a blogiversary. Woohoo!

I really didn't know a thing about blogging when I started, and I feel like there's an awful lot of things that I still don't know, but I thought I might share some of the things that I have learned:

  1. Blogging should be fun. When it starts to feel like work, take a break. Yes, your pageviews will suffer, but readers don't want to read the thoughts of someone miserable.
  2. If something's gotta give, make sure it's not your content that suffers. I don't have the time for a lot of promotion and social media, so my blog will probably always stay on the small side. But when it comes down to spending more time on Twitter or working on the blog, I want to pick the choice I can be proud of, even if that means fewer people see it.
  3. Engender relationships with other bloggers. The blogging community is friendly and supportive. Having some bloggy friends is always useful if you need help or a guest post.
  4. Write about what you like, not just what you think your readers will like. I don't like to restrict myself in terms of content, because I always assume that there is at least one other person out there like me, who likes what I do. Some of my most popular posts follow this rule.
  5. People on the internet can be dicks. Accept this and move on. Don't respond to trolls, and ignore/delete/block anyone being particularly nasty. These people do not matter and aren't worth your time.
But you don't really care about all of that, do you? You're here for the giveaway. And I've got not one, but two. I wish I could give something to all of you, to thank you for the past two years, but then I'd be broke. This is the next best thing.

First up, we've got what I like to call the breakfast pack:
You've got a Belgian waffle maker, cinnamon palm sugar, red velvet cupcake coffee, and a pretty pink and brown mug to drink it in.

Next up we've got the baking pack:
Mini silicone bundt pan, cupcake cookie cutters, a set of measuring cup pinch bowls, and some cute color-coded measuring spoons. (There was sort of an accidental theme going on here: graduated and colorful.)

So that's two giveaways for my two year blogiversary. Get it? Which means there will be two lucky winners, chosen at random on December 16th. The giveaway is open to US residents ONLY. (Sorry)

Enter below (please note that all comments are moderated, so it may take a while before yours appears) And here's to another year of geeky, sugary goodness!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 6, 2013

Stuff and Things 12/6/13

Life as I know it
The job has been crazy lately, and not in a good way. People there always act like children, but they've been especially special, acting like spoiled brats, and meek little me is ready to slap a bi***. So I took a couple days off just to recharge my dealing-with-this-crap energy. Later today, I'm going to bake and shop, and nothing else. Well, maybe I'll watch a little Dollhouse. :P (Of course, me taking two days off meant I had to train my sixth temp. And she can't cover for when I need off on Christmas Eve, so it might be seven before the year is out. My life is this)

Also, I bought a car! A new car. Brand new. Never been driven. And it's blue. Does this make me an adult now? It's being delivered to the dealership soon, so I'll share pics when that happens. Having a brother that works in a dealership is very convenient. :D

My Red Velvet Cake Mix was part of 2 cool Christmas round-ups: Cake Whiz's 25 Awesome Christmas Treats and Chocolate Moosey's Gifts from the Kitchen Holiday Guide (which includes a giveaway, so go check it out!)

Sunday is a very special day. Can you guess what it is?

Books- Dial H Volume 1: Into You

December 5, 2013

Mini Chai Tea Cakes

I kind of have a lot of mini loaf pans.

Like, a lot.

It's not quite as bad as my silicone ice cube tray collection, because they take up a lot more room, so I can't justify buying as many. But I still own more than any normal person should. I tell myself it's because they make great gifts, but when the time comes, I find myself hesitant to part with them.

Is this what hoarding looks like?
I broke out the mini loaf pans to whip up these quick and easy cakes. I used my Homemade Yellow Cake Mix, and just replaced the water with strong-brewed black tea, added some chai spices, and topped it with some struesel. Which the cake kind of ate, but it's tasty, so I don't blame it.

You can use any yellow cake mix for this recipe, just follow the instructions, replacing the water with tea, and adding the spices. It's not a strong flavor, but it gives it a nice subtle kick. And if it has tea, that means you can eat it for breakfast. You have my permission.

Chai Tea Cakes
Yield: 4 mini loaves

For the cakes:
1 recipe Yellow Cake Mix
3 eggs
3/4 cup strong brewed black tea, cooled (I used 4 tea bags with 3/4 cup boiling water)
1 & 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice

For the streusel:
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. cold butter, diced
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour 4 mini loaf pans. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all cake ingredients until no lumps remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Add all the streusel ingredients to a food processor, and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs (or cut in the butter with a pastry cutter). Sprinkle liberally over the loaves.

Place all four loaf pans on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 25-35 minutes until the tops bounce back when lightly pressed. (You may want to rotate them once during baking to ensure they cook evenly, or only bake 2 at a time). Allow to cool completely on wire racks

Tip: You can use any cake mix. Just follow baking directions, adding the spices and replacing the water with tea. Or, use any yellow cake recipe, steeping the tea in the milk.

Recipe by Kim

December 1, 2013

Homemade Yellow Cake Mix ~ #SundaySupper

I've found I have a problem communicating about foodie things with non-foodies. I mean conversations with them sort of go like this:

Them: These cookies are really good, where did you get the recipe?
Me: No where. I made it up.
Them: Really? How do you do that?
Me: I dunno, I just kind of... do.

Or they go like:

G: Kim makes marshmallows.
Co-worker: You make marshmallows?
Me: I make marshmallows.
Co-worker: How do you make marshmallows?
Me: Oh, it's easy. You just cook some sugar to the soft-ball stage, add it to the softened gelatin, then whip it until it's nice and airy.
Co-worker: ... Right.

Or like recently:

Co-worker: And you make everything from scratch? You don't use mixes?
Me: I actually make my own mixes.
Co-worker: To sell?
Me: No, just... cause. It's fun.

You can't beat a mix for convenience when baking, I will freely admit to that. But a boxed mix tastes like a boxed mix. You can't beat homemade for taste.
That's right: the convenience of a mix plus the taste of homemade. And it's so easy to make your own mix; it only takes a few minutes, and then you can whip up an entirely homemade cake easy-peasy next time you need it. Seriously, there's no downsides here. Plus, in the cake batter All THE THINGS era we live in at the moment, you can use homemade mix instead of the preservative-laden, pricey boxed alternatives.
Now, I use butter-flavored shortening in my mixes because it's shelf-stable. I know a lot of people are weirded out by shortening, and I've already been over the reasons that you shouldn't be (non-hydrogenated shortening is available if you're worried about trans fat, and shortening actually contains less saturated (bad) fat and more unsaturated (good) fat per serving than butter.), but you're not likely to change your minds on my say-so, so you can use cold butter, you just have to store the mix in the freezer.

(And please, do not suggest coconut oil to me. That is a pet peeve of mine when people assume something is healthy just because they use it. It's great for cooking, but I've done the research and it's most certainly not health food. Although, if you want coconut cake, that might work as a substitution)
That's Cupcake 'Bot, the cupcake-inspired robot I designed and got 3D printed. Isn't he sweet? (I may or may not have been completely at a loss as to how to photograph cake mix and so broke out the toy robots)

Anyway, yellow cake is one of the most basic staples in any baker's repertoire, and the best for getting that real cake batter flavor. I based this mix off of my favorite yellow cake recipe (bet you can't guess from where), and doesn't have any weirdy powdered ingredients like powdered peanut butter or powdered food coloring. (Although I did see powdered vanilla at Candyland today, and I was tempted to buy it)(I seriously may have a cake mix making problem). So take 5 minutes out of your day and make this mix. Next time you need to bake a cake, you'll be so glad that you did.
Yellow Cake Mix
Yield: Approx. 5½ cups dry mix

2¼ cups flour
1½ cups sugar
½ cup powdered milk (optional)
2½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup butter flavored shortening

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the shortening. Using a pastry cutter (or pulse in a food processor) cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place up to 6 months.

To bake: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour, or line with parchment paper, two 9-inch round cake tins. Combine the mix with 3 eggs, ¾ water (or milk, if not using powdered), 1 tsp. almond extract, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Mix well until no lumps remain. Divide the batter equally between the 2 prepared pans, and bake 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks.

Based on the Yellow Cake recipe from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook
This week's #SundaySupper, hosted by DB of Crazy Foodie Stunts, has got you covered, both literally and figuratively. I've got you covered with the convenience of a mix but without having to go boxed. The rest of the group has got your back with the recipes below.

Covered Appetizers and Entreés
Covered Desserts
Not Sure What To Do? We Got You Covered
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.