Archive for September, 2009

To Arthur!

This week was the 250th birthday of Jordan’s favorite beer, Guinness. To celebrate this joyous occasion, I decided to bake Guinness Cupcakes. I had bookmarked Smitten Kitchen’s Irish Car Bomb cupcakes a few months ago and was just waiting for the perfect opportunity to make them. I used her recipe for the cake part and I must say, it is oh so good. I could eat them without any frosting. The Guinness flavor is so subtle that I would consider making this my go to chocolate cake recipe. I finished them off with an adaptation of my favorite cream cheese frosting. I took a few cupcakes to our apartment office and one hour later the Leasing Manager called me on my cell phone raving about them and demanded the recipe. Happy Birthday Guinness!

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, for 17-20 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Guinness Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 TB softened butter
  • 1/4 cup Guinness
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and softened butter with electric mixer until combined. Add vanilla and Guinness.  Slowly add powdered sugar. Beat until creamy. If your frosting gets too thick, you can thin it out with little milk. I wanted a smooth frosting to mimic the signature “head” on the top of a pint of Guinness.



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Scene: 6:00 on Wednesday evening.

Mom: Guess what. I got called for jury duty. And not just any jury duty, FEDERAL jury duty. I am so pissed off.

Me: I bet you are. That sucks. Just be really argumentative and pissy and you can get out of it.

Mom: When I filled out the form that they asked me to send back, on the bottom where it said comments I wrote “I don’t want to be a juror”. Your dad was so mad! He said I can’t do that!

Me: Mom! You can’t write that! Why would you write that?

Mom: Because I want them to know that I DO NOT want to be a juror. I have other things I would rather be doing. The form said to not wear flip flops. So guess what, I am wearing my Reefs just to spite them!

Me: Man I really hope you get a really spiteful lawyer who sees your comment and makes you a juror.

Mom: Oh, they don’t know anything about being spiteful. I dare them to pick me!

Me: Well, just be yourself. I think that will do the trick.

Mom: Oh, I will!

*** a few minutes later***

Me: I am going to bring some baked goods when we see you in a few weeks. Maybe if you are nice to me I will bring you a strawberry pie from House of Pies.

Mom: If you bake, you are not allowed to bake any healthy stuff. No soy, no tofu, no healthy shit. If it isn’t crap, I don’t want it. Understand?

Me: You got it mom. I will keep my fingers crossed you don’t get picked for jury duty. And I will make sure to bring you lots of crap when I see you.

Mom: Thank you. I love you

Me: Love you too mom.

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“And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come
You are autumn”

-Nichole Nordeman

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Crockpot Lasagna

Jordan loves lasagna. Actually, he loves anything with red sauce. But I think making lasagna is such a pain in the butt. I hate having to deal with boiling the noodles. I stumbled upon the concept of making it in the crockpot when my mom gave me a copy of “Fix It And Forget It Cookbook”. I took the idea and adapted it to what I was able to afford in college and it has been a hit ever since. I have a huge crockpot since I mainly use it for entertaining so this recipe made a lot for me. I used to freeze individual portions tightly wrapped in plastic wrap so I could take a piece out on a night when I didn’t feel like cooking.
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 1 container ricotta cheese (15 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (Reserve 1/2 cup for the top of the lasagna)
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce, 28 oz.  (or substitute homemade)
  • 1/4 cup water (add this to the sauce)

Combine ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella in a bowl. Roughly chop spinach and cook in a skillet with one tablespoon of water  until wilted. Drain and squeeze out any water. Add to the cheese mixture along with the shredded carrots.  Spray crockpot with a little cooking spray to prevent sticking. Pour a little bit of sauce in the bottom of your crockpot make a layer of noodles on top of the sauce. Break noodles to fit. Put 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles and then add another layer of noodles. Add sauce and then top with more noodles. Repeat with cheese, noodles, sauce, noodles two more times. Top with sauce and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until the noodles are tender (mine cooked perfectly in 4 so check it). Before serving, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and put the lid on for about five minutes or until cheese is melted.


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Taco Cups

I briefly mentioned them here. But I really think they deserve their own post. Of ALL the things I know how to cook, these are one of Jordan’s favorite. I adapted a recipe from All Recipes to make them vegetarian. You can find the original here and my variation below. I used up some leftover pico and salsa in mine and added some frozen corn since Jordan loves corn and requests it in practically everything.

Taco Cups
Source: Adapted from All Recipes

  • 1 can Grands biscuits
  • 1/2 bag Morningstar Burger Crumbles
  • 1 TB Taco Seasoning
  • 2 TB Salsa
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 2 TB fresh pico de gallo
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I use the mexican blend)
  • Lettuce, sour cream, salsa for topping (Optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine everything in a skillet with a few tablespoons of water and cook over medium heat until the water has evaporated and the mixture is warmed through. Take your biscuit dough and roll it out a little with a small rolling pin or press a small plate on top of it to flatten and stretch it a bit. Press biscuits onto bottoms and up sides of muffin pan. Fill biscuits with mixture  (you may have to press it in a little bit to get it all to fit).  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. I top mine with lettuce, sour cream and more salsa. I think they taste SO much better this way. Jordan of course leaves out the lettuce.


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AeroGarden Update

Well, it’s been three weeks since I got the AeroGarden and I wanted to post an update. Everything has sprouted and I can’t wait until they are large enough to start harvesting!

Top row: Mint, Italian Basil, Dill, Cilantro
Bottom row: Parsley, Purple Basil, Chives

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Brownie Muffins

Tonight at Kroger I went a little crazy stocking up on canned pumpkin to get ready for my fall baking season. I decided to use one of the cans to make one of our favorite low calorie desserts. The origin of this recipe is kind of a mystery. Going through my recipe binder, I found the recipe scribbled on the corner of one of the pages of a weight watchers recipe. After searching the internet, it can be found on a number of sites (including Hungry Girl). It’s hard to believe that these delicious muffins are so low calorie and contain pumpkin since you can not taste it at all. They just taste like really moist brownies. They get two but thumbs up from my picky husband so they must be good. 🙂

Brownie Muffins

  • I box devil’s food cake*
  • 1 can pumpkin ( NOT pumpkin pie filling. Just plain pumpkin)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix cake mix and pumpkin (The batter will be very thick). Divide batter into a 12 cup muffin tin lined with paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

*Note: Another delicious variation is to substitute the devils food for a spice cake mix and add some chopped walnuts into the batter. They are SO GOOD.

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