La Croix Blackberry Cucumber Cupcakes

La Croix Blackberry Cucumber Cupcakes  

La Croix Blackberry Cucumber Cupcakes  

I have a slight obsession with La Croix sparkling water. At any given time I have three plus flavors stocked in my refrigerator. I have lengthy discussions with my sister and other La Croix fans. And let it be known this is NOT a sponsored post. But simply my first attempts at admitting my addiction.

A few weeks back I came across a "new to me" flavor of Blackberry Cucumber La Croix at Target. My winter was made complete that day. And this past weekend I decided to put to test my new favorite flavor and use it in a one step cupcake recipe. I was very pleased with the resulting cupcake and then paired it with a simple Swiss buttercream frosting topped with a fresh blackberry. You could really use any flavor La Croix with this recipe so have fun and experiment. 

La Croix Blackbery Cucumber Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F

Line two 12 count muffin pans with paper liners and set aside. 

Mix one boxed White Cake Mix with one can of La Croix of choice. Omitting all other ingredients (the eggs, oil, and water). 

Portion out batter into muffin pans and bake for 18-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely and frost with any basic white frosting. I used a simple white frosting with a hint of vanilla added. If it suits you, store bought frosting will work just as well. 

 

Champagne (for breakfast) Cupcakes, (taxi) Cab Piracy, and Cornstarch Issues

Okay she is just showing off with her yard. Look at that! She must have the largest lake front property on the block. No wonder the boys are in her yard. And yes that is Dateline on in the background of my cupcakes - I still don't know who killed the woman. I'm thinking it was her renter

Okay she is just showing off with her yard. Look at that! She must have the largest lake front property on the block. No wonder the boys are in her yard. And yes that is Dateline on in the background of my cupcakes - I still don't know who killed the woman. I'm thinking it was her renter

Sometime last year my dear friend, Betsy Wetsy, introduced me to her dear friend, Winehouse. Winehouse deals in black market wine for a living. I joke. But she deals wine in a part of the country that I know nothing about. This chilly March weekend marked a birthday for Winehouse and in honor of said birthday I tried a new cupcake recipe. Fair warning I am a huge self critic of my cakes and was not happy with this one. Though that did not stop me from eating one for breakfast. And keep in mind expectations were high. Betsy Wetsy told me earlier that my "cupcakes bring all the girls to the yard". I reminded her that I am gay and that explained a lot about my current state of (lacking) affairs.

Early last evening as Betsy Wetsy and Winehouse wrapped up some sisterhood of the traveling pants bonding time at the local casino I put the finishing touches on Champagne Cupcakes with a pastry cream filling and buttercream frosting. All three elements I love. All three elements together were tolerable. As I passed the cupcakes around the room I provided the caveat that I did not want to make sweet mouth love to these cupcakes like I do other cupcakes. These had an almost yeasty bread taste to them.Again, I ate one for breakfast. And maybe had a glass of champagne with it. Why waste the bottle on these bad cupcakes? In fact if you make these cupcakes buy an extra bottle of Korbel to wash them down with.

After a quick nosh of cupcakes we scooted off to the local bar to drink a birthday like God intended. Our good friend Not Amish Susan joined us. She is from Pennsylvania and not Amish. We share a penchant for J Crew and she has been known to take over a cab like a pirate. I'm not joking. Last week after much needed happy hour I was told she commandeered a minivan cab in the heart of Minneapolis. Thankfully the already established patron of the cab was kind enough to let her settle into the sexy captain's chair next to him. Sadly a love connection was not made - but if you hear of a Minneapolis chef who was kind enough to share a cab with a J Crew'd Pennsylvanian let me know. I want story closure.

Champagne Cupcakes (adapted from gimmesomeoven.com who adapted it from allrecipes.com which proves there are no more original ideas out there)

2 3/4 C All Purpose Flour

3 t Baking Powder

1 t Salt

2/3 C Butter

1 1/2 C Sugar

3/4 C Champagne - get a super sweet champagne

6 Egg White

Cream your butter, sugar, salt. Sift in your flour and baking powder. Stir in your egg whites and champagne. I suggest you google "creaming method" for baking. This method of baking makes it very easy for you to follow a recipe if you don't have instructions.

You will get about 20 cupcakes out of this recipe - who the hell creates a cupcake recipe that yields 20? Muffin tins come in sets of 12 people. 

I made a standard pastry cream to fill the cupcakes with. Pastry Cream recipes are available all over the internet. Don't fall victim to the ones that use cornstarch. Cornstarch is rumored to have not been used in foods until the mid 1800s. And eclairs were around before that.Plus Julia Child didn't use cornstarch in hers. 

As for frosting I used my go to Swiss Buttercream. Check out the recipe here in one of my top rated blog posts. Don't ask me why it's top rated because I find it rather sad. But for some reason people keep reading it.

Okay I am out. Family dinner in a few hours. I made a lasagna and bruschetta with roasted cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, honey and olive oil. Thankfully there is still champagne if it tastes bad.

Next week I cover March's Restaurant pick...tell Siri to remind you to check back.

Coco Chanel, Chocolate Cake, and My Child

Chocolate Sourdough Cake

Chocolate Sourdough Cake

Those are really my cupcakes - and the other photos can be found on Google

As the weather turns and a chill in the air settles in (BECAUSE IT'S MEMORIAL DAY!) I naturally turn to the kitchen to warm up. 

If you are now one of the three dedicated followers of my blog you know that my roommate and myself acquired a "pet" last month in the form of a Sourdough Starter. If you haven't memorized my last blog post you won't know that we affectionately call him Hank. 

Anyway like most parents I am slightly obsessed with my baby boy. And today I wanted nothing more than to curl on up next to him as he gave of himself and helped me make Sourdough Chocolate Cake. 

I think you just spat up a little when I said, "Sourdough Chocolate Cake".

I understand.

You see when you have a wee one like Hank you have to actually kill him off a little every so often or he will become this massive life-force sucking black hole that takes over your fridge and makes you wonder if there is a Massengil product by Frigidaire that you need to buy to get rid of that smell.

So today I Googled "what else can I use my (HANK) Sourdough Starter for?". Google did not disappoint. 

Some blogger somewhere had a recipe that I thought looked good so I made it better.  Here's the recipe:


SOURDOUGH CHOCOLATE CAKE

RECIPE INSPIRED FROM THE INTERNET

OKAY THIS IS WHERE IT GETS EVEN BETTER! YES I AM YELLING!

I made just a standard cream cheese frosting for the cake and a Dark Chocolate ganache to accessorize it. Coco Chanel said something about taking off one accessory when you leave the house. That bitch wasn't talking about my cake. 

So I FILLED my cupcakes with some cream cheese frosting and then DIPPED my cupcakes in the dark chocolate ganache. THEEEEEEN I had to take it one step further and make them look like Hostess cupcakes with the curlicue on top. Like a nice pearl necklace. I don't know a single man who would pass up a pearl necklace. Wait. I mean woman. 

This is now two weeks in a row of me talking about Hank. I'm sorry but I've had to put up with all my girlfriends postin' about their babies on Facebook for so long that it's my turn. Hank and I are registered at J Crew and Target. We DON'T need onesies. 

See you next week lovers...



Butternut, Butternut, Butternut Squash



This past week SAGL was out at the family plantation breaking in some new trusty steads beers. And he came back to the bachelor pad with two rather large butternut squash. As they sat on the kitchen counter taunting me for a few days I finally woke up this past Saturday with a hint of inspiration. 

I started with roasting the squash. Peel, seed (reserve for later use), and cube. Coat the cubes with olive oil and and toss in a large bowl with a mixture of ground ginger, ground cinnamon, paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper. I also segmented two sweet onions and threw these in the mix. In a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, place in a 450 degree oven until optimal golden goodness has been achieved. Allow to cool a bit (with the juices still juicy) and then puree in food processor. Use immediately, refrigerate for use within a few days or freeze for later use.  

Remember those seeds I asked you to reserve? Take them and rinse them off (getting all that slime off best you can). Pat dry, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper or other spices. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment and toast in 400 degree oven (tossing occasionally) until seeds slightly brown.  


butternut soup with garlic croutons - missing: toasted seeds
Butternut Squash Ginger Soup
based on a recipe found on The Carnivore and The Vegetarian

Ingredients: 
3 cups roasted butternut squash puree
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk if you are desperate)
2 tablespoons butter
Kosher Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste


In a medium pot mix together butternut squash and chicken stock. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Add heavy cream, butter, salt and pepper. Bring back up to temp and keep warm on stovetop to serve.  


Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Feta and Sage
based on a recipe found on The Carnivore and The Vegetarian

1 cup roasted butternut squash puree
1 cup flour (give or take - I used more)
2 tablespoons butter
Kosher Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste 

For garnish: 
Feta - to crumble
Fresh Sage Leaves, chiffonad


In a medium bowl mix together squash puree and flour (use your judgement on the flour). Enough until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Using a small amount at a time, roll out on a floured surface into a thin rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 1" pieces and set aside. When all of the dough is portioned out bring to boil a medium pot of water. Melt butter in a 10" saute pan. Working in batches place portioned out dough into boiling water and let cook for 4 minutes or until the gnocchi floats to the top. Once gnocchi is floating remove from water, drain in colander and toss in buttered saute pan. 

Plate and garnish with salt, pepper, crumbled feta, and sage. 




Spiced Butternut Squash Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
From Gimme Some Oven

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup butternut squash puree
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Frosting Ingredients: 
1 - 8oz block cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 lb powdered sugar (give or take)

To Make The Cupcakes: 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking pan with 12 cupcake liners. 

In a medium bowl, stir together first 6 ingredients and set aside. In another medium bowl mix together dry ingredients. Gently whisk together wet and dry ingredients. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. 

To Make Frosting: 

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer cream together butter and cream cheese. Add maple syrup. Gradually add powdered sugar until desired consistency. Use immediately or refrigerate for later use.  


Tis the season for warm food. And orange food. There are a few pumpkins on the front porch waiting to be used and a bag of candy corn pumpkins waiting to be physically abused by my mouth.  




Happy Fall, Happy (early) Halloween, Happy Eating.


Oh one more thing...

If I had planned ahead I would have made the following drink. Yes there is a butternut squash drink.

Butternut Squash-Infused Rum



Creme Eggs, Jake Gyllenhaal, and The Betis...again

This weekend is Passover, Easter and an official mall holiday which means no shopping on Sunday.  Last Easter (which I have somehow blocked out anything I did...I hope it was good?) my cousins took it upon themselves to create a gorgeous Easter themed cake in the shape of a bunny if I recall. Read into those italics how you want. This year I vowed to not make the children experience another Donnie Darko Easter.  

One thing from last year that I do recall...the Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes that were brought to my attention. Last week I was asked if I could try to replicate them for this year's holiday resurrection.  

Above you see the final product. They are suppose to look like eggs but all I see are little meringues with lemon curd and a big ol' chocolate accessory. The wonder is what lies within. Inside each basic white cupcake (google a recipe or buy a box mix) I plopped a mini Cadbury Creme Egg. After taking the photo below I was reminded of that awkward conversation between Jon Lovitz's character in Rat Race (remember that classic from 2001) and his daughter in the movie. Whole thing about prairie dogs.  

In the end they are pretty tasty.  I used my favorite buttercream frosting and every cupcake gets me closer to the "betis" with two mini Cadbury Creme Eggs.  

One more gratuitous photo of the final product.  

I hope my reader(s) have a great holiday weekend! Be it filled with spiral cut hams, canned ham, matzoh balls, Manischewitz wine or green bean hotdish/casserole I hope it is a great long weekend. I will be spending a good portion of my Sunday morning searching along with my sister for the many FULL SIZE Cadbury Creme Eggs that my mother still hides for us to find in the house. I am choosing to ignore the fact that I have eaten 14 already this season.  

UPDATE!!!!  I found a copy of the bunny cake from 2011 Easter.  Thank you Facebook.  

Donnie Darko Version

Donnie Darko Version