Friday, October 30, 2009

Turkey Day Is On It's Way!

I recently stumbled upon a blog that I immediately began to love. Tricia-Rennea of is my new favorite illustrator! On her blog she generously posts free clipart and printables that you can use for invitations, decorations, craft projects and more! Go check out her websites as well as her Zazzle stores where you can purchase products with her illustrations. I know you will enjoy her work as much as I do.

Since Turkey Day is just around the corner, I thought I'd share with you some of her Thanksgiving products at Zazzle. First up is this little cutie on a postage stamp. I think he is saying, "Please don't eat me, I'm too cute to be cooked!"

Next is this lovely pumpkin shirt. I just love the swirls!

Of course, if you're in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, you don't want to ruin your new duds, so why not an apron with Tommy Turkey?

And we can't forget the history of Thanksgiving. Were the pilgrims dogs?

Or owls?

Maybe they were squirrels.

Here are the links to her Zazzle stores where you can find even more of Tricia-Rennea's beautiful designs!
The Candy Store!
tricia-rennea art

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Taco Soup

It's cold and rainy today. On a day like this I'd like to stay under my blanket instead of hanging out in the kitchen. That means it's time to pull out the crock pot and make Taco Soup. I've tried different versions of this soup, but I find this recipe that my friend Martha gave me to be the best.

Taco Soup

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
2 cans Shoepeg corn
1 can Black beans
2 cans Kidney beans
2 cans Crushed tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning
1 package ranch dressing mix

Put all ingredients into a large pot, (do not drain cans.) Cook on high for 30 minutes, stirring often. Simmer until ready to serve.


Put all ingredients into crock pot, (do not drain cans.) Cook on low all day or on high for 5 hours. Stir often.

I think shredded cheddar cheese and corn chips are the best way to adorn this soup, but feel free to try crackers or cornbread too.

Foodbuzz Blog Awards
Take part in the foodbuzz blog awards by voting today!! Just click the link below to see the nominees. Some of my favorites are Bakerella, Cake Wrecks, and Iron Cupcake: Earth. Bakerella always has sweet ideas with great photos. Cake Wrecks gives readers a daily dose of wit and humor, not to mention hilarious cakes. And if you've been reading this blog you'll already be familiar with Iron Cupcake: Earth. Since it is a community effort, a win for Iron Cupcake: Earth is a win for all of us cupcake challengers too!
Hurry! Voting ends October 29th!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Iron Cupcake: Earth-- Music part two



Autumn is my favorite season. I love the brisk air, colorful leaves, and pumpkins! A few days ago we went to a produce stand and Sophie found a tiny pumpkin and carried it around the whole time we were there. She was so proud of it and called it a peekee. Of course she got to take it home with her.

I couldn't resist making pumpkin cupcakes. Pumpkins really are a treat this time of year, especially when paired with chocolate, (what isn't better with chocolate?) This cupcake is for the kiddies. The recipe is easy enough to have little helpers in the kitchen. Oh, and did I mention the chocolate? Since this is for Iron Cupcake: Earth Music, check out the Pumpkin Song...
Pumpkin Song
(Tune: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Pumpkin Pumpkin on the ground
How'd you get so big and round?
Planted as a seed so small
Now you are a great big ball
Pumpkin Pumpkin on the ground
How'd you get so big and round?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
makes approximately 32 cupcakes

1 chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup melted butter, divided
15 oz can pumpkin
8 oz cream cheese softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz confectioners sugar
8 oz chocolate chips
whipped cream for garnish (optional)
chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 cup melted butter in bowl and mix well. Divide batter into cupcake liners (about 1 tsp in each liner) and pat down into the bottom.

Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth, then add the pumpkin, 3 eggs, vanilla, sugar and mix well. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add butter. Mix well then fold in chocolate chips. Spoon mixture into liners (about 1 tbsp in each liner). Bake for 20-25 minutes. The cupcakes won't be completely set when done. Cool completely before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

*Note: I used silicone cupcake liners. Results may differ with traditional liners. However, lightly greased foil liners may produce similar results to the silicone liners.

Click here for the Printable Recipe at Tasty Kitchen.

{Adapted from Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Cake}

Iron Cupcake: Earth Voting and Prizes

Voting will begin no later than Friday, October 30th at 8 p.m. at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER, and will be open through Thursday, November 5 at 12 noon.

Our Generous IronCupcake:Earth Prize Providers:
The Demy™ by Key Ingredient
Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson
Bella Cupcake Couture
Cupcake Stackers by Gourmac
The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrne</S?<>

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Sometimes I'm out somewhere and confronted with a smoothie. I think, "Ooh, healthy!" so I get one. There are some great places to get a smoothie, like Smoothie King, but then there are places where all they've done is taken some orange sherbet and mixed it with a meager amount of fruit. Not only is the flavor off, but it doesn't seem like such a healthful choice after all. I expect more from my smoothie.

After having some disappointing smoothies, I decided to to try making them at home. I tried different recipes and then started playing around with my own concoctions. Below is my standard smoothie recipe. The fruit I use can be adjusted to my mood, but the technique remains the same. Give it a try and experiment with the fruits you love.

Fruity Smoothie

1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
approximately 1/3 cup orange juice
frozen or fresh fruit of your choice: strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc.
1 banana, sliced
1 tbsp crushed pineapple + juice, optional (more if you like)
1-2 tbsp. sugar or honey to taste
ice cubes, optional

Using a pint glass, (or whatever drinking vessel you will be using) spoon in yogurt. Fill with frozen/fresh fruit. Pour in orange juice to top of glass. Pour into blender and add remaining ingredients. Blend all ingredients together until fruit and ice is small enough to fit through a straw. Pour smoothie back into your pint glass and add a straw and you're done...

...Or are you? I bet you have some smoothie leftover in your blender. Pour the leftovers into an ice cube tray. Freeze and you have Smoothie Cubes. Take the cubes out of the tray and put into a freezer bag and stash back in the freezer. Next time you want a smoothie, just take the smoothie cubes out of the bag and blitz in your blender again. Ta dah! Smoothie!

Delicious Little Jewels

Are you preggers? Have morning sickness or are hungry all the time? Here is another thing you can do with Smoothie Cubes: fill a good sized plastic cup with Smoothie Cubes. Then fill about half way with orange juice or whatever juice sounds good to you. Let sit a while, the orange juice freezes up a bit. Then insert your straw and sip away. Because the smoothie is mostly frozen it will take a while to soften up. This means you're sipping a little at a time, and it can take a couple of hours before you will have sipped up the whole thing. This got me through my morning sickness. Don't forget about all the calcium and vitamins you get in a smoothie!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Iron Cupcake: Earth-- Music

Iron Cupcake: Earth is back! This month's theme is Music and we are challenged to create a cupcake based on a song title. I knew almost immediately which song I wanted to do. This song is one of Sophie's favorites. Now since she's 18 months old, you might think I've chosen The Itsy Bitsy Spider or Jesus Loves Me. While she does love those songs, there is no other song that affects her like this one. If she's riding with Grandmomma and Aunt Geggie (that's what Sophie calls her), and she starts crying, just a few bars of this song will dry those tears. So, I chose the song Popular from the musical Wicked.

If you're not familiar with this musical, it tells the story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy came along. The two main characters are Elphaba (you know her as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda. They become roommates at University, and notice right away how different they are. Glinda is blond and girly; Elphaba is green. In the song Popular, Glinda describes to Elphaba all the ways she is going to teach her to be popular. These cupcakes pair well together not only in color but in taste as well. The Glinda cupcakes are light and fruity. The Elphaba cupcakes are chocolaty, but not too dark, because after all, Elphaba wasn't all that wicked.

Elphaba and Glinda "Popular" Pound Cake Cupcakes

“Popular” Pound Cake Cupcakes

Glinda Cupcakes (makes 24)

1 stick unsalted butter, soft but still cool (1/4 lb.)
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ cups cake flour
¼ tsp baking soda
3 eggs, room temperature
½ tsp. Vanilla extract

Elphaba Cupcakes (makes 24)

1 stick unsalted butter, soft but still cool (1/4 lb.)
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ cups cake flour
¼ tsp baking soda
3 eggs, room temperature
3 tbsp. Cocoa Powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Use the following instructions for both the Glinda and Elphaba cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a chilled metal bowl and beaters, cream the butter and sugar together for 5-6 minutes. Sift together the dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside. Add eggs to mixture one at a time, beating after each to fully incorporate. Add dry ingredients about a half cup at a time alternately with the sour cream and vanilla, without over-beating. Fill cupcake liners halfway and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Using cardstock, print and cut out
cupcake wrappers. Adhere the wrapper ends together with glue dots and place cupcake in wrapper.

“Wicked” Good Swiss Meringue Buttercream
makes enough icing for 48 cupcakes, or less if you really pile it on.

1 ¼ cup sugar
5 egg whites
4 sticks of room temperature butter cut into pieces
1 tsp vanilla
Pink and Green food coloring, (suggested: Wilton’s Icing Coloring-Pink and Leaf Green)
½ cup Strawberry Preserves

Place sugar and egg whites in a double boiler over simmering water, and whisk about three minutes, until mixture is smooth.

Pour into bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until cool and forms stiff peaks, about 1o minutes.

Add butter one piece at a time mixing well after each piece. Buttercream may appear to be curdled, at this point, but continue beating until smooth again. Add vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Beat on low to get rid of air pockets.

Divide Buttercream into two bowls.

For Elphaba Icing, mix in green food coloring until the desired color is achieved.

For Glinda Icing, warm preserves in microwave for 30 seconds. Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a bowl and set aside until cool, (you can skip this step if you will use a large tip that won't clog). Then fold into Buttercream until desired color and flavor is achieved. Add some pink food coloring to achieve a deeper pink color.

Cool cupcakes completely before icing. Using a large star tip, pipe icing into big swirls onto each cupcake.

Elphaba Cupcakes: Choclate Pound Cake with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing

Glinda Cupcakes: Vanilla Pound Cake with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Iron Cupcake: Earth Voting and Prizes

How popular will these cupcakes be?

Voting will begin no later than Friday, October 30th at 8 p.m. at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER, and will be open through Thursday, November 5 at 12 noon.

Our Generous IronCupcake:Earth Prize Providers:
The Demy™ by Key Ingredient
Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson
Bella Cupcake Couture
Cupcake Stackers by Gourmac
The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrne

Friday, October 2, 2009

Not Just Plain Vanilla

One stop on our Honeymoon cruise was Cozumel. The best store in Cozumel is Los Cinco Soles. It has lots of great souvenirs, and not things like cheesy key chains, but beautiful Mexican art and handmade products. But the best thing you can bring home from Los Cinco Soles is their Natural Gourmet Vanilla.
This vanilla really is wonderful. We bought ours four years ago and we're still using it, but it is almost gone. Thankfully, Los Cinco Soles is now able to ship to the U.S.!

See, not much left, and I've used more since taking this picture!

Los Cinco Soles Natural Gourmet Vanilla
For those who know the difference...

To order, visit Los Cinco Soles at Choose between 16.9 oz. or 1 liter bottles. Paying with Paypal makes ordering a cinch! I recommend this vanilla, there's nothing like it! It is definitely worth the price even with shipping, because did you see? You can get 1/2 liters and whole liters!! Just think about how much you spend on that tiny little bottle you buy at the grocery store. Los Cinco Soles also gives you different options for ordering multiple bottles, so buying extra bottles for gifts is easy. A giant bottle of fabulous Mexican vanilla would be a gift to make any food lover swoon!