Monday, August 29, 2011

Feeling Nostalgic

Has anyone else seen that Wendy’s commercial for their new lemonade? The one where the girl goes “this reminds me of my first lemonade stand as a kid” (or something along those lines, I’m too lazy to YouTube the commercial right now). 

Well, I remember my first *attempt* at a lemonade stand as a kid. My sister and I stood outside our house with a watered down pitcher of Kool-Aid for two hours. We watched as cars zipped past just hoping they would stop after seeing our hand-made sign.

Sadly, no one stopped, and our only customer at the end of the day was our dad. And I don’t even know if he drank our lemonade.

Anyways, that entrepreneurial fail did not sully my taste or feelings for lemonade. I still love the drink and anything lemonade flavored. And every year when the weather warms up and Culver’s re-releases their lemon ice I go bananas for it. I normally go for just a small dish of the tart, creamy treat but, on occasion, I get the raspberry lemon ice cooler. Pure magic. 

Needless to say, when I saw Jessica’s recipe for Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes I was intrigued. And when a family friend with a strawberry allergy came to me looking for a dessert, I was more than happy to adapt the recipe to create Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes! 

These cupcakes are the epitome of summer to me. Filled with lemon butter cream and topped with a raspberry lemonade buttercream, they are soft, sweet, and refreshing. They totally beat a glass of watered down Kool-Aid any day.

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes (adapted from How Sweet It Is, makes 12ish cupcakes)

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk

Juice from one lemon

Grated zest of two lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest.

Add half dry ingredients and mix until the flour *just* disappears. Add the milk, mixing until combined. Add the remainder of the flour mixture mixing again until it *just* disappears. (We don’t want stiff cakes people!).

Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, or a large ice cream scoop, pour batter into lined cupcake/muffin tins and bake at 350 for 18-25 minutes. The cakes are done when the tops spring back after being lightly pressed.

Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool. While the cakes are cooling, make your frosting.
Raspberry and Lemon Buttercream

2 sticks of room temperature butter

3-4 cups of powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Juice from ½ a lemon

½ pint fresh raspberries – pureed

Zest from two lemons

1-2 tablespoons of milk (depending on how thick you want your frosting)

Using an electric mixer cream the butter until smooth. Mix in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, going slowly so you don’t get it all over the place. Add the zest and lemon juice and continue stirring until your desired consistency is reached, adding more powdered sugar or milk if you need to. Reserve about 1/3 of the frosting (this will be for the filling of the cupcakes). Add the raspberry puree to the remaining 2/3 of the frosting and stir to combine.

Using a small paring knife cut a small funnel shaped hole into the top of each cupcake. Remove the little cupcake filler and cut off the point so you just have a little cap that will fit back over the frosting. (This is all very confusing and I was too busy piping and frosting to take adequate pictures but Baking Bites has a great tutorial on filling cupcakes.) 

Fill a piping bag fitted with a small tip (or disposable zip top bag with the end snipped off) with lemon frosting. Fill each cupcake with frosting before replacing cupcake caps. 

Fill another piping bag (or another disposable bag) with the raspberry lemonade frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. 

Garnish with a fresh raspberry or lemon slice if you so desire. 

Can someone get me a straw?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Morning Rain Is Fallin'

Ok, rain isn’t actually falling but, that song has been in my head all morning (damn you Maroon 5 and your catchy vocals!). The weather here is actually beautiful – sunny, wispy clouds, a slight breeze. Really a wonderful August day. 

But there’s a rain cloud here too. And it is hanging right over my head. 

This morning, I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends. She is on her way back to college and has left me here for another two weeks by myself.While I know that I will see her again, (in just one week's time actually) it is still hard to say goodbye to someone you care about. To know that they have this whole other life to go to and enjoy and thrive in.

So, to console myself I made these. Coffee and Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwiches.

In honor of best friends and Sundays everywhere I am not turning on my oven today. Instead, I am going to make these cute little sammys, drink coffee in my pajamas, and enjoy one of my last Sundays at home. 

Coffee and Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwiches (adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2011)

1 box chocolate frosted mini cake doughnuts (or you could go a little crazy and used the full sized, I wouldn’t hate you for it)

Coffee ice cream

Cut doughnuts in half horizontally. Using a small ice cream scoop (or melon baller, tea spoon, regular spoon, etc.) put ice cream on one half of the doughnut. Top with other half. Place in freezer for 10-15 minutes to firm up.

Sandwiches can be stored in an air tight container for up to two weeks. 

Tip: I found it useful to put the doughnuts in the freezer *before* trying to cut and fill them. They are a little more sturdy if already cold. 

Now, what to do with the leftover coffee ice cream?

Friday, August 26, 2011

30 Days

I haven’t posted in a month.

That’s a long time. Even typing those words I was like “A month? No.” But yes. I haven’t written anything in 30 days. That’s not to say I haven’t wanted to – oh boy, have I wanted to. I’ve jotted down ideas on sticky notes and receipts and done plenty of work in the kitchen, but I haven’t put pen to paper (fingers to keys?) in a long time.

I’m not entirely sure why either. I love writing, I really do. I’m still nervous about people reading what I write, though. I can’t stomach the idea of pouring myself into this thing heart, soul, and butter only to come up with nothing. I’m constantly worrying about whether or not people will read my words. Then I’m praying that people won’t because what if they don’t like it? What if they’re mean? What if they leave a nasty comment? Worse – what if I know them and they leave a nasty comment to my face?! The idea of a cyberbully got a whole lot scarier the moment I started blogging. 

But I can’t let that stop me. I won’t let it stop me. I have too much to do and too much to say. And while I may not have posted in the past month that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything. 

In the past 30 days I have…
  • Been to Baltimore, Washington DC, and NYC (more on that to come)
  • Eaten my first crab cake (holy buckets!)
  • Loved my job
  • Hated my job (for many of the same reasons I often love it)
  • Done yoga every day
  • Had coffee with a friend
  • Rediscovered my love for bike rides
  • Baked my first pound cake
  • Stayed up too late
  • Created my own cookie recipe (which I cannot wait to share!)
  • Laughed so hard it hurt
  • Surprised my boyfriend
  • Seen “The Help” (loved the movie, loved the book even more)
  • Obsessively read food blogs
  • Obsessively neglected my school email
  • Made pancakes with M&Ms in my best friend’s kitchen at 1:30a.m.
  • Run down the middle of the street laughing with my friends after midnight
  • Fought with my mom, then hugged it out five minutes later
  • Started cleaning out my closet, desk, car, etc.
  • Stopped cleaning out my closet, desk, car, etc. 20 minutes later
  • Been thankful
So, I haven’t been slacking entirely (then again, the multiple Law & Order SVU and Bones marathons weren’t entirely necessary) but, I’ve still got a lot of work to do. Both on and off the blog. I go back to school in a mere two weeks and before that I’ve got to clean, bake, pack, bake some more, spend quality time with the fam, buy a new laundry bag and so on. After that it’s back to a shared room, flip flops in the shower, classes, homework, and a tiny kitchen with an even tinier oven. Want to come with? I’ll bake you cookies.