Saturday, December 26, 2009

Photo 365 ~ Dec 20-25

December 20th - 25th, 2009

Cupcakes! Round 4

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

This is yet another recipe from Smitten Kitchen that is fantastic. Some carrot cakes are too heavy, too dry, too sweet, or are just plain bad, these cupcakes are none of the above. It is a light and moist carrot cake. It is one of the better carrot cakes I have had and I have sampled quite a few. The icing is a great compliment to the cake.

We liked the icing so much that we used the leftovers on Mom's cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Yum!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 1/4 cups canola oil
• 4 large eggs
• 3 cups grated peeled carrots
• 1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

• Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
• 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.

If piping, allow the icing to chill in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to stiffen up.

Cookies! Round 3

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday was a day I spent in the kitchen. With the 23 inches of snow on the ground there was no sense in running errands so I decided to get a jump on my baking for the holidays. I first mixed up the Orange & Gray cookies because they were such a hit, next came the oatmeal raisin and finally I made Ricotta Chocolate Chip cookies from a recipe that I got from a friend. Let me tell you, they are awesome! They are light and cakey.

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated, then add the ricotta cheese and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients into the wet mix and mix well. Add the chocolate chips. Drop on greased baking sheet or parchment paper and back at 350º for 13 to 15 minutes.

If you find the cookies start to get hard/dry you can add a slice of bread to the container or you can dump icing on them like I did on Thursday morning. If you like and orange and chocolate combination I highly recommend using the Orange Buttercream icing from the Orange & Gray Cookies. It is a huge hit at our house.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Photo 365 ~ Dec 16-19

December 16th - 19th, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photo 365 ~ Dec 12-15

December 12th - 15th, 2009

Cookies! Round 2

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

If you cannot already tell, I have been on a baking kick as of late. I had a request from my husband for oatmeal raisin cookies, which are is favorite, so I set out and found a great recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Her trick for thick, chewy cookies is to refrigerate the cookie dough before baking so it doesn't spread as much when baking, genius! I followed her recipe to the T except for that I added dried cranberries in with the raisins and didn't add the walnuts. I baked my cookies for 10 minutes (probably because I only let them sit in the fridge for an hour...what! I got impatient). I doubled the recipe so I would have plenty of cookies to distribute between the workplaces and leave a few at home. Next time I think I may try a bit of nutmeg, cocoa or small chocolate chips added into the recipe.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slighly less thick.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Orange & Gray cookies with a subtle Orange Buttercream Frosting

I was browsing the Twinings website for recipes the other day because I enjoyed the Earl Gray cupcakes so much and I found a recipe
for Lady Gray Cookies. I modified it slightly and used Earl Gray tea and Orange Zest, turning them into Orange & Gray Cookies. This recipe is two parts, the dough needs to be refrigerated for a few hours or overnight before baking. I found that the cookies were a bit dry for my liking because they are meant to be served with tea, so I made a subtle orange buttercream frosting for them. This makes them perfect for solo eating.

Orange & Gray Cookies

(Modified from Twinings)

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 hot cup water
  • 4 Earl Gray teabags
  • I large egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fresh orange zest
  • small squeeze of fresh orange juice

Take the 1/4 cup of hot water and add the four Earl Gray teabags. Let that steep for 3-5 minutes allowing the teabags to absorb the water making a tea concentrate. Squeeze all of the liquid out of the tea bags and allow the concentrate to cool. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and then the fresh orange zest. Add the tea concentrate.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and the baking powder. Add half of the flour mix at a time, mix until incorporated and a dough forms. Gather the dough into the center of a bowl and cover with saran wrap Refrigerate the dough overnight or at least a few hours.

Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Flour a board and form it into a round circular roll so you can slice off 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick pieces.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12 - 15 minutes. (Mine needed 13 minutes.) Once completely cooled, make the icing.

Made 30 cookies.

Orange Buttercream Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh orange zest
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Mix together the powdered sugar, butter, orange zest, vanilla, salt and orange juice until smooth. Add orange juice as needed to make it spreadable.

This made just enough icing for me to put a light coat of icing on each of my 30 cookies. If you want heavier icing, I suggest doubling the recipe.

Photo 365 ~ Dec 8-11

December 8th - 11th, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Photo 365 ~ Dec 6 & 7

December 6th & 7th, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Photo 365 ~ Dec 1-5

December 1st - 5th, 2009

Personal Project - Photo 365

I graduated with a photography degree that I don't use. Well, not the taking photos part of the degree anyway. I have decided that I am going to take at least one photo a day for a year starting December 1st. Any subject, any time, whatever strikes me that day is fair game. This will be a great way to remember a year, force me to use my new camera, and to learn it's limits. Maybe, just maybe, I'll fall in love with photography again.

I will be putting the photos up in a Picasa Album as well as posting thumbnails here every few days. I don't want to fall behind and let this become a burden. I want this to be fun and not a chore. I'd love your feedback and maybe I'll inspire someone to start this project with me.