Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes & Maple Honey Frosting

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes & Maple Honey Frosting

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes & Maple Honey Frosting



I waited as long as I could. But it was time…. time for a pumpkin recipe. :-D it occurred to me as I was contemplating what to make that for a blog named From Cupcakes To Caviar, I don’t have many cupcake recipes on here. Yes, yes, before someone brings it up, I am well aware that I don’t have any caviar recipes on here. Guess what? I never will. :-P I just liked the way the name sounded when I created the blog and it was simply meant to denote that the blog will have everything from the simple to the fancy in it. Buttttt, as I was saying, I realized when mulling over pumpkiny goodness ideas that I don’t have many cupcakes on here. !!!! That had to be rectified immediately. So pumpkin cupcakes it was. But I didn’t want to do plain cupcakes; oh no, not me! So I decided on using brown butter in them. When I went to see if that had been done before, I found a bazillion variations lol. So rather than beat a dead pumpkin, I used the recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Two Peas And Their Pod because I knew if it came from there, it would be good. The only thing I did differently was in the matter of spice. I like pumpkin desserts that are heavy on the warm Autumnal spices and their recipe was a bit light for my tastes, so I used quite a bit a little bit more. I also used more vanilla and dark brown sugar rather than light because we enjoy the more caramelly flavor it lends.

These are some delicious cupcakes. The cupcakes part is just dense enough without being heavy and with the additional spices and extra vanilla I added, it tastes like Fall. When I was trying to decide what to do for frosting, I wanted to vary a bit there too. I didn’t want cinnamon or cream cheese or caramel or any of the other “normal” flavors. We all know by now that I don’t do normal well in any aspect of my life. So I chose a combo of maple and honey; both flavors I love but both flavors that can be a bit one dimensional on their own. I knew it would need a bit of tang though, what with 3 sources of sweetness, so I added some sour cream. You could probably sub a thick Greek yogurt if you wanted to. The frosting is quite lovely if I do say so myself. Sweet, but not cloying with a touch of tang from the sour cream and a nice maple and honey flavor.

This all comes together fairly quickly; the long list is mainly spices, so don’t cringe…  you know the drill :-)

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes & Maple Honey Frosting

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons pure (preferably grade B; A is very light in maple flavor) maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • Maple Honey Frosting-
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (please buy some whole nutmeg if you haven’t yet. It makes such a difference!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 15 muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
  2. Melt your butter in a medium sauce pot over medium low heat. Stir occasionally as it cooks until it turns a lovely medium brown color and has a nutty aroma. Immediately take it off the heat and pour it into a medium sized bowl to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the pumpkin puree, sugar, vanilla and eggs to the cooled brown butter. Whisk to combine. Dump the flour mixture into the butter one and stir just until it’s combined. Don’t overbeat.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling them about 3/4 full. bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of one comes out clean.
  5. Remove the cupcakes from the pan to a rack to cool completely. While they cool, prepare your frosting- In a large bowl, on high speed, beat your butter for about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until it is light and fluffy looking.
  6. Add in 3 cups of the powdered sugar and with the mixer OFF (unless you want to have a face full of powdered sugar), stir it around a bit to mix in the sugar a bit. Turn the mixer on low and beat until well combined. Snatch a bite of the butter/sugar mixes out of the bowl and enjoy, because it’s one of Gods gifts to us hehe
  7. Add in the rest of the icing ingredients, except the last bit of powdered sugar. Beat at high speed for about 5 minutes. yes, you read that right. When you first add the ingredients and beat it, it will look soupy. Keep beating and it will come together and thicken. If it isn’t thick enough for piping after five minutes, add the last 1/2 cup of sugar and beat on high speed for about another minute or two. Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes.
  8. When ready to frost, stir the frosting a little to loosen it and pipe or spread the frosting on each cupcake. If you have any extra, it can be refrigerated, covered. It’s strangely appealing on bagels and would also be great all melty on top of a waffle or pancakes.

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Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread

Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread

Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread

I generally don’t like sweet corn breads, so when I do make them, it makes the dinner time conversation rather interesting.

Russell (using a really bad Mark Lowry Voice -) “Sugar in the cornbread is cake! When you take a bite of cornbread, it’s supposed to suck 90% of the moisture out of your body!”

Jordan- “If this is cake, can I have whipped cream on it?”

Joshie- “Oooo… cake! Can I have ice cream with it?!”

Yeah… my family is strange. They are also unused to cornbread with sugar. You see, I’m a Yankee by birth and a Southerner by long time geography (well, part genetically too, if that can be genetic :-P ) and that whole birth thing being the case, one would assume I use a ton of sugar in cornbread. Nahhhh. I’m fine with a touch, if any. I am also enough Southerner at this point that when I see people put sugar on a bowl of grits, I am hard pressed to not walk up to them, say “bless your heart, honey. You’re not supposed to do that”, then hog tie them and drag them behind a mule drawn carriage until they learn the error of their ways. So far, I’ve resisted. But I make no long term promises.

All of that said, I liked this cornbread. Would I want sweet cornbread every time? No. But I was pulled in by the words cream, honey and butter in the recipe.  I mean, everyone loves those words… and by everyone, I mean I me.  There are very few things that can’t be made better with copious amounts of cream and butter. Except maybe liver. There is no hope for liver. And eggplant.

This IS a pretty sweet cornbread. It’s also buttery, rich, tender and moist and quite tasty served with a half cup pat of butter on it. This comes from one of my favorite cornbread cookbooks, The Cornbread Gospels. This book is cornbread lovers nirvana. It’s 358 pages of different corn breads and also ways to use said cornbread, plus a few go-alongs. This particular recipe isn’t one you’d serve with something like chili. In my humble opinion, chili needs an unsweetened cornbread. But this was wonderful with the roast chicken we had for dinner and will be wonderful later my favorite way, which is gently heated, put in a bowl with a ton of butter and some maple syrup. YUMMY!

You know the drill… :-)

Sweet Cream And Honey Cornbread

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup honey, warmed for easier mixing
  • 2 eggs
  1. Butter either a medium (9 or 10 inch) cast iron skillet or a 9 inch square pan and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
  3. In another bowl, combine the cream, milk, sugar, honey and butter. Whisk well. You will probably still have some butter pieces; that’s fine.
  4. Beat the eggs into the cream mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan, drizzle with some extra honey if desired and bake at 400 degrees until it is golden brown and slightly pulled away from the edges of the pan, about 25 minutes.
  6. Serve warm… or room temp… or reheated with butter and maple syrup. :-)

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Cookies And Cream Brownies

Cookies And Cream Brownies 2


My youngest son started Kindergarten this year. It’s strange being the mother of a five year old at my age of fifty. I see most of the other parents and they are the approximate age of my own older kids. Talk about weird. One expects the parents of your childs peers to be YOUR peers, but here I am, happily looking like granny (ok, in my own defense, I’m fifty but guessed at early 40’s. Thank you, Loreal and fat padding in chubby cheeks :-D.) and the other parents have nose piercings and tattoos with modern sentiments that leave me saying “huh?”, waiting in the pick up line with their e-cigs hanging out the window, listening to rap on their radios, drinking an energy drink while they browse the net on their smartphones. And me? I’m the one wearing a baggy t shirt and stretch pants, listening to Contemporary Christian while I read Saveur magazine and drink a decaf latte and look at basic texts form my husband on my 25 dollar wal-mart phone. Yeah, I fit in well. Russ and I thought about sneaking into the school for the Grandparents day lunch. Then I looked at pics of some from another local school and realized that half of the grandparents are younger than us also. Welcome to the South, huh?

One of the things that drives me nuts waiting in the pick up line (beyond the rap music) is how, even now, when school has been going for a month here, the people helping students in and out of the car act like we are total idiots. Yes, we know by now to keep driving and not slow down the line. You standing there, waving your hand frantically in the air as if you’re warding off a horde of hungry wasps, is simply annoying me to the point where I want to stop dead, pretend my car died and see how fast your hands really CAN move. Yes, yes, I am ornery. Why do you ask? But seriously, we know the routine. Why, oh why, must they act as if we are six? Mind you, some of the parents look that way to my aging eyes, but I’m assuming they really aren’t. :-P

Make these brownies.  Oreos, fudgy brownie,  chocolate, did I mention Oreos? And chocolate?

These are typical brownies as far as cooking goes. They go together quickly and really, homemade isn’t much more difficult than boxed and while I’ll admit to liking boxed every once in a while for the chewy factor, fudgy and homemade trumps that every time.

You know the drill…. :-)

Have I told you lately how much I adore you? No? Consider yourself adored.

Cookies And Cream Brownies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temp
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 20 coarsely chopped Oreo cookies of your choice, plus 3 more for the top of the brownies (I used the Mint Oreos; use your favorite)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 baking pan with foil and grease the foil.
  2. In a large saucepot, combine the butter and the chocolate. melt over medium heat, stirring frequently, until smooth.
  3. Beat in the sugar, salt and vanilla, then set aside off the heat to cool for five minutes
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Stir in the flour and cocoa, stirring just until combined.
  6. Fold in the crushed Oreo’s (not the three for the top) and then pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing down the top. Sprinkle the reserved three crushed oreo’s over the top of the batter, pressing them down lightly.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with moist, but not liquidy crumbs on it. Let cool in the pan on a rack, then use the foil as a handle to pull the whole slab out of the pan for slicing.

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Coconut Lime Pound Cake

Coconut Lime Pound Cake

Coconut Lime Pound Cake

I was thisclose to getting my Autumn on and deluging you with Pumpkin, Apple and Maple recipes because…well, pumpkin. Pumpkin, apple and maple…oh my, pumpkin and apple and maple, oh my. You know you just said that sing song “Wizard Of Oz” style. Admit it.

But then, one night, while I was NOT sitting and watching Rocky II for the third time in as many weeks (I’m not a Stallone fan normally, but dayum, he was hot in that movie :-D ) and looking through one of the 9000 cooking magazines I have, I saw this recipe. There was no way I could pass it up and definitely no way I could wait until the politically correct blogger time of early Summer or Spring to make this. I absolutely love the combo of coconut and lime and tend to use it often. I also love pound cake with a passion usually saved for Cheetos and Ho-Hos before they changed the recipe.

This is totally worth putting off Fall baking for a few days. Worth it enough that I wish I had gotten it out of the house and sent it to work with my husband because it’s evil as it stares it me and taunts me to eat just one more slice. The lime and coconut flavors blend so beautifully with neither overpowering the other. This has the quintessential pound cake crumb; moist, dense and tender with the bottom (what was the top in the pan) being crispy and crunchy like a good pound cake should be. I didn’t make any drastic changes from the cookbook/magazine recipe. I used lime juice in the glaze instead of just milk and I added zest in the cake batter because all it used originally was the juice and that was NOT acceptable. Must…have…zest. Also, I used a fair amount more vanilla extract. It also called for coconut in the cake and I don’t care for that, so buh-bye it went. Otherwise, still pretty much like the book.

You know the drill… :-)

Coconut Lime Pound Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup solid shortening, room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut (not coconut milk; cream of coconut can be found with the cocktail mixers)
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • zest from one lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Lime Glaze-
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • toasted coconut for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 10 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray made for baking (Bakers Joy or Wiltons) or grease and lightly flour the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and extracts until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lime zest. In a measuring cup, combine the cream of coconut, lime juice and water.
  4. Alternately add the flour mixture, then the coconut mixture to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour (flour, coconut, flour, coconut, flour), beating just until combined after each addition.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan; smooth the top.
  6. Bake at 325 for 65 to 75 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for ten minutes, then slide a knife around the edge of the cake and carefully turn out onto the rack to cool completely.
  7. When cool,  glaze the cake. To make the cake, simply combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over the cake. Garnish with toasted coconut.

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Ham & Swiss Scones (And Keeper Of The Memories)

Ham & Swiss Scones

Ham & Swiss Scones

 


Every once in a while, I’ve brought up my family outside of my husband and kids. Sadly, as one ages, one finds that family circle getting smaller. In my life, since my sister Sandra and both our parents have passed away, there is only myself and my brother left. We also have two half sisters, whom I love dearly, but they didn’t grow up with us so don’t have the same set of memories or same history, unfortunately.

Steve and I have always been fairly close. We’ve had our ups and downs, times our relationship was splintered (Lilo And Stitch quote- “This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good“. I love that movie.), but all in all, we’ve stayed close.

Since childhood, I’ve had a faulty memory. It seems to be due to an accident in youth. Add in the stroke from a few years back and a lot of my past is missing. Well, Steve and I have a habit of spending a fair amount of time on the weekends texting each other and many of his texts start out with, “Do you remember…”. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I don’t. Steve has become, in my eyes, the Keeper Of The Memories. He is the one who reminds me of things we did as kids, the people we knew and the things we did, many of them crazy and probably dangerous and illegal, keeps me up to date on which relative has died, which was one that was nasty in the past, etc etc. He’s the one that helps me recall certain movies we watched 73 times as kids, which songs were important to us, usually for silly reasons and keeps the memories of our parents and sister fresh.  I’m the one that still rags him about using my Barbie Make Up Doll Head as Franken-Barbie for his garage haunted house one year and reminds him of the time we stood in the kitchen for an hour, him 18, me 13, while I tutored him in the fine art of talking to girls. Steve and I are the only people we each have who remember each others pasts. We remember the bad hair cuts (I still have the picture of you in 7th grade when your hair was shoulder length), the teen years when we both were rather hard to get along with, the fights with our parents. We know about the times of eating ketchup sandwiches cause there wasn’t anything else to eat even though our mother worked her butt off, the trips to Alabama, the nights up watching Creature Feature, the night mom kicked her then b/f out of the house for kissing another woman and “do you doubt my veracity?”. We remember “doodles” and “ewww, you “blew it” “. Siblings have their own language, their own inside jokes and memories. They make us laugh, they make us nostalgic and sometimes, they make us sad. But there is a bond there that can’t be shaken. It’s different than the one you have with parents, because for a lot of your growing up years, parents are the enemy. Siblings are the ones who can beat the crap out of you, but no one else better try it. They are the ones who are sad with you when your parents age and die. They are a tie to your own past and a part of your forever. You don’t see the age, you don’t see them as the grown ups they are. They always stay the kid you played with, argued with and made memories with.

What does any of this have to do with Ham & Swiss Scones? Not a thing. But make the scones anyway. They are completely delicious. :-)

Ham & Swiss Scones

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onions
  • 10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, sliced thin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) diced ham
  • 12 ounces Swiss cheese, cubed into about 1/2 dice
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a greased baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, dill weed and dried onion.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Break the egg into the heavy cream and whisk to combine. Pour all at once into the flour/butter mixture. Stir well with a fork until the mixture comes together into a ball. Add in the cheese and ham and use your hands to (as quickly as possible) mix them into the dough.
  5. Dump it out onto a lightly floured board or counter and knead a few times just to incorporate the ham and cheese.
  6. Pat down into a 3/4 inch thick circle and cut into 12 wedges. They don’t have to be perfect. Mine are usually misshapen and ugly and I have come to prefer that; there is something homey and rustic about them that way.
  7. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown. See all the cheese that oozed out and clung to the sides of the scones? Don’t be upset… that crispy browned cheese is one of the best things about these!
  8. Let cool for at least 30 seconds before eating them. :-D

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Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

There are some foods that it is dangerous to leave me alone with. Set me in front of a dish of panna cotta and you’re likely to come back in 30 minutes and see that I’ve eaten mine, yours, everyone’s and am now sitting in a panna cotta stupor on the floor, grinning like a loon. Put creme brulee near me and I can’t be held responsible for my actions. Give me a bone in ribeye and some roasted brussel sprouts and soon enough, I’ll be that person moaning saying “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”.

There are also some foods that aren’t quite as “normal” that I’m not safe around. I eat fries when I have a ribeye. I also set the baking sheet full of overly greasy fries back in the oven and eat them for breakfast the next day. Yes, feel free to gag.  Then there’s Cheetos. I shamefully admit that I have been known (in the past, in my weight loss defense) to polish off the majority of a large bag of Cheetos in one sitting while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

This cheesecake however, does not go into the not so normal category. It may go into the “omg, this is good!” category though. I have been making this cheesecake for years; more years than I care to admit. It originally came from yet another of those decades old paper Pillsbury cookbooks I have collected for…well, decades. Yes, I’m old. Fifty as of this past Tuesday, actually. *sobs just a little for lost youth, then gets over it and eats more cheesecake* Liiiiiike I said, I’ve been making this for years. I changed it some from the original but not enough to say it’s a totally different cheesecake, just added a few ingredients, took away almonds in the crust and bake it in a water bath to minimize cracking. It also originally had a sour cream topping and I do use that sometimes, but I prefer the topping I have here.

This is a wonderful base cheesecake to play with. You have a chocolatey, buttery crust, topped with a very creamy chocolate filling. I always add a touch of almond extract to the filling. It doesn’t make it taste almondy; don’t worry. It just adds that little something that makes people say, “what is in this?”. The filling is smooth, rich and creamy. Then I topped it this time with the worlds easiest strawberry sauce and dolloped it with a slightly tart cream and sour cream topping. In the past, I have also drizzled this with caramel sauce, cherry topping, peaches, etc. Like I said, this is a great base to play with. It’s also dam good on its own so try it like that first. This goes together quickly and if you bake it as directed, there will be little to no cracking on top.

You know the drill…. :-)

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

  • Crust- 2 cups finely crushed Oreo’s- about 21 cookies (I use my food processor)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling-
  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted per package directions and cooled
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Topping-
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, ice cold
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, ice cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Strawberry sauce-
  • 1 16 ounce bag frozen strawberries, thawed, NOT drained
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Boiling water for water bath
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover a 9 inch springform pan with 2 layers of heavy duty foil, making sure it goes up about 3 inches on the sides. This helps prevent water from getting into the pan as the cheesecake bakes.
  2. Lightly butter the whole pan.
  3. In a large bowl (or your food processor), mix together the crust ingredients. Press them onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the prepared pan. I have found that using the bottom of a small glass is the easiest way to press any crumb crust in. It is much more even and firmly pressed in that way. Set the crust aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and extracts; beat well.
  5. Add in the cream and melted butter. You’re best off whisking these in because trying to beat the liquid into the batter results in a lot of splashing, even on low speed.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Gently tap the pan on the counter to level it and help get rid of any air bubbles in it. Place pan inside of a deep baking pan. Slide into the oven and carefully pour boiling water around the cheesecake to a level of about one inch up the sides of the pan, being careful not to splash any water into the cheesecake.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes (large time gap, but I have had it go to both extremes.), until the cheesecake is set around the outer third but the center is still rather soft. It will set from residual heat as it cools.
  8. Cool for five minutes on a rack then loosen the sides and carefully slide off the outside of the pan. Finish cooling completely until room temp, then refrigerate until 30 to 60 minutes before you’re ready to serve it.
  9. About 30 minutes before serving, make the sauce and the topping. The sauce couldn’t be simpler. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and the sugar. Let sit for about 30 minutes so the sugar has time to dissolve.
  10. For the topping, in a large bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Beat at medium speed (careful of splattering) until the mixture is thick and creamy with firm peaks, about 4 minutes.
  11. Top each slice of cheesecake with some strawberries and topping. Eat. Curse me as you loosen your pants. Know that I’m over here giggling at you.

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Blog Tour! Get On Your Traveling Clothes!

Remember those old Herbal Essence commercials where the one model turned into two, then into 4 and within seconds your TV screen was covered with a bazillion models, all sporting gorgeous hair? Well, this is like that. Except for the gorgeous hair. Mine is a mess right now. That’s one of the perks of running a blog. I can do this with messy hair and a pink nightie on. Wait… was that too much info? Sorry.

But really… bazillion blog time. Ok, so maybe just me and three others being mentioned here. But those three I mention are so darn awesome that they may as well be a bazillion! So what exactly am I going on about? Well, my friend Donna from over at the very tasty blog “Cookistry” invited me to be a part of this. This being…well…this. In her post, she said wonderful things about me and some other bloggers. Don’t believe her btw, when she says she wasn’t drinking. How else could she have come up with wonderful things about me? And now, I and those other bloggers say wonderful things about her, answer a few questions, then say wonderful things about some other bloggers too. The point being to introduce our readers to some bloggers they might not know of and shouldn’t be missing. So here we go! Put on some comfy shoes and your backpack, cause we’re going to a few different parts of the country now!

First, there’s Donna, who invited me. I “met” Donna (someday, I hope to take the quotation marks from around that word and make it for real) because we had a lot of friends in common. We both tend to have the same rather smart alecky, sarcastic sense of humor and are near the same age. Well, I think she may have me by a decade or two, but don’t tell her I said anything. I very bravely sent her a friend request on facebook.  I say brave because I always have these doubts that awesome bloggers will want anything to do with me lol and she is darn awesome. I mean, look at these Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls! ! Can the woman bake or what!? Donna is one of those people I strive to be like. She is smart, funny, can bake like no one else, has a gorgeous smile and makes me laugh. What else does one need?

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls by Donna  of Cookistry

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls by Donna of Cookistry

Donna has a cookbook coming out soon. Run over to Amazon and put it in your cart for pre-order! And go check out her blog! You won’t be sorry!

Now, on to my questions. I was dreading this part cause it means I have to talk about myself. I much prefer we just talk about cookies. How bout you? Sigh. Ok, ok, I’m talking.

1) What are you working on?

Usually, I’m just trying to get through the day still kicking by bedtime. Barring that though, I have been working on a handful (yes, all at once. This is MY mind, after all) of book ideas. No, not cookbooks. I am that anomaly among food bloggers. Someday, I may try a cookbook, but now, these ideas are all fiction. I’ll keep you posted.

2) How does my work differ than others of its genre?

You know, I’m not really sure. I’d say the one basic difference is simply that I don’t cater to trends. You won’t see me labeling things as gluten free here unless I just happen to find a recipe I like that is gluten free, won’t see me posting things as “Healthy! Low Cal! Great for low carb diets!” etc, unless, again, I just happen to like a recipe that fits that criteria. I am a home cook, a comfort food cook. I take great joy in knowing that when someone eats something I baked or otherwise created, their arteries are going to be crying and they won’t even mind. Butter, sugar and cream are my bff’s.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m that person who can’t really remember a time I DIDN’T cook. I know I was about 9 or ten when I started is about it. I do this because I love to cook and it is a high for me to hear about it when someone has made something I developed and tells me how good it was. I do this because writing, for me, whether I’m good or bad, is second nature. My mind creates plots and stories and jokes and I have to share them or bust. I have another blog where I, as I put it, “really” write. In this one, I tend to be more joking, more lighthearted. But no matter what, I have to write… I have to cook and create recipes. It’s just…me.

Whew. I got through that without too much heavy breathing and sweating. Now I can tell you about the two bloggers I picked.

My first here is my friend Christine of Texanas Kitchen. Christine is one of a kind. She is kind, she is witty, she has a biting sense of humor, killer legs, perfectly manicured toes that she likes to flaunt in front of all of us to make us jealous and she can cook to boot. You think I jest? Just lookee here. Uber Dense Fudgy Brownies You know you want those. I just want to stick my face in the plate and lick up the sauce after inhaling the brownie. :-D

Uber Dense Fudgy Brownies

Uber Dense Fudgy Brownies from Christine at “Texanas Kitchen”

Christine also has a habit of making one think with some of her posts. She is willing to say what many of us think, but are too timid to say. Fine, she says what I wish I had the cojones to say. Like in this post,- “Retarded, Gay And Fat” she talks about how hurtful those words can be and how hard it can be to get people to realize that. So g’wan. Shoo. Check out Christines blog too. Again; you won’t be sorry. I promise!

The last person I am highlighting here today is another friend; this lady is a fairly new friend but we have already found out that we have a lot in common, one of those things being that whole love of butter, sugar and cream thing. Sara runs the blog My Imperfect Kitchen. Sara is wonderful. She is sweet, makes a person feel comfortable talking to them right away (trust me; I know. I stink at conversation and she made me comfortable within seconds), also has a great sense of humor (see a theme here in how I pick my friends?) and also can cook to beat the band! Did I also mention the gorgeous head of auburn hair I envy!? Here’s just one example of what I mean and it’s making me hungry! I absolutely LOVE Homemade Fried Rice but when I make it, it never looks that pretty. it tastes good, but it’s always a large mass of rice covered in about 12 cups of soy sauce. I, ummm, have a sad soy sauce addiction. But Sara’s rice? Omg, do you just want some chopsticks right now or what?

Fried Rice from Sara at "My Imperfect Kitchen".

Fried Rice from Sara at “My Imperfect Kitchen”.

So there you have it. I have, I hope, introduced you to three mind bogglingly wonderful bloggers, all three, smart, funny, and great cooks and bakers. Go check them out; add them to your daily reading list and hunt them down on Facebook and “like” them there. You’ll be glad you did and I won’t nag you. Otherwise…no cookies for you!

Luvsome Pet Foods (Sponsored Post)

Luvsome Cat Food1

A while back, a gentleman by the name of Josh (I happen to really like his name, considering what the name of my youngest child is :-D. Just thought I’d throw that in there hehe ) contacted me. His company wanted to offer me a chance to feed my kitties some of their Luvsome cat food. He had seen me mention our two indoor kittens, Sierra and Opie, on my facebook cage, so he knew a cat lover when he saw one :-D
Now, anyone who knows me or has followed me for a while knows that yes, I DO love cats. I happily admit to having ten of the little critters. Two of them are indoor cats, the rest outdoors. We live in the country, with a fair amount of land and people have a tendency to dump cats out this way. We, of course, can’t bear to see them go hungry or homeless, so they join our outdoor menagerie.
We did, as I mentioned, have Sierra and Opie as our indoor family. But sadly, Opie has disappeared. She got out one day and we haven’t seen her since. I try not to think about what may have happened, so I just tell myself that she found a new forever family somewhere and is living a pampered kitty life. Her brother Sierra is still with us and joining him indoors is a kitten my daughter had to get rid of because he was too wild around my one year old grand daughter. So Sierra and Ozone are now the subjects of the Luvsome taste test.
First, from a human perspective. You know how some cat foods, be they dry or wet, you open and immediately want to cover your nose or worse, almost make you gag? Luvsome is NOT one of those kinds. The dry food has a rather mild, meaty cereal smell to it (I used to tease my kids and say that if we ever ran out of cereal, I’d just fill a bowl with cat food and milk and they’d never know the difference hehe). The wet food also has just a meaty smell to it and nothing off putting that makes one think they used God alone knows what part of the animal to make the food.

Now, the kitty perspective. I would type this in “Kitten”, but I know that not all of you are as fluent as I. So we’ll stick to English and picture talk. Look at the following photo. it was taken abouuuuuut 7 seconds after I put the can of food down lol.

Sierra & Ozone- Luvsome Cat Food

Sierra & Ozone- Luvsome Cat Food

Want to know something else wonderful about this company beyond the fact that my cats loved it? Every time you or I use the hashtag #luvsome, Luvsome  will donate a bowl of their food to The Best Friends Animal Society. There are so many wonderful animals out there who don’t get enough to eat. I personally think it’s fantastic that a large company is willing to go the extra mile to take care of animals. You can go to Luvsome-Cares to find out more about how #luvsome helps out.

Not sure how many know this, but you should never just decide to give your pet a new food without phasing them into it. Their digestive systems are not like ours and not easing them into a new food can cause some not so pretty issues. Luvsome has that under control too with a great schedule gradually easing your pet into a new food.

Luvsome GuideSee how easy that is? Want another plus? Luvsome is less expensive than many of the leading competitors brands. I mean, really, what else do you need to hear here?
1) No bad smells to upset the human nose
2) Your cat will love it
3) Luvsome is a company that gives a helping paw to animals in need
4) It’s less expensive.
The ONLY drawback? #Luvsome is only available at Kroger brand Stores. Now that doesn’t mean just Kroger, so stop pouting. It means stores that may be Kroger in MY state may go under another name in YOUR state. So just do a search on the Luvsome site to find out where you can buy the food in your area.
Bottom line?
Go buy Luvsome. Your kitty will thank you with purrs and cuddles.
Oh! They also have dog food for those of you who have furry friends of the barking variety! :-D
This has been a sponsored post for Luvsome Pet Food. I was compensated for my time and also provided coupons for food for my cats. But all opinions ARE my own and 100% honest. :-)

Blueberry Raspberry Mascarpone Crumbcake

Blueberry Raspberry Mascarpone Crumb Cake

Blueberry Raspberry Mascarpone Crumb Cake

 

My gosh, can you believe it’s almost September!? Wasn’t it just yesterday you and I were whining that we wanted warmer weather and pool season and bikinis and…wait, I never would have whined about wanting bikinis. That must have been you.

Where was I? Oh yeah, September…you whining over bikinis. But yeah, what happened to Summer? It can’t really be almost Fall, can it? My last two school age kids started back to school on August 12th with one in his senior year and the other in Kindergarten. I know, I know, my kids are spaced rather strangely. Kindergarten and senior is nothing, though. I also have a 19 year old and three in their mid to late 20’s as well as 7 grandkids, three of whom are older than my kindergartener hehe.

Man, I can NOT stay on topic today, not that there was really a major topic going anyway. Do you do that? “Ooo, shiny thing!” your way through life? I get distracted easily. Crap, I just did it again. I give up

Berry season is almost over sobs cause I love berries and I had cartons of both blueberries and raspberries I wanted to use before they went bad, but I didn’t know what to make. So what do I fall back on when I’m unsure what to do? I go for the crumbs! C’mon, you know me. Give me streusel or give me death! Because…streusel. Crumbcakes call it crumbs, but we all know it’s streusel with a nickname.

I have a cookbook that I frequently take out from the library. This time around I think it’s about 17 weeks overdue. Sorry, library people! Honest, I’ll get it back there! I really need to buy my own copy she says, channeling Captain Obvious The book is The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensperger. I love this book (obviously). I have about 900 tabs in it for recipes I want to make, which is of course, why I keep forgetting to return it. One of them was for a Blueberry Cheese Crumbcake. I didn’t change a ton in this, but the changes I DID make made this so much more yummy. Sorry, Beth. No offense.

I used mascarpone instead of plain old boring cream cheese, plus I doubled the vanilla in the cake batter and changed the plain milk to buttermilk, as well as adding both some almond extract and a touch of lemon oil. Plus, I added vanilla in the mascarpone filling and a bit of lemon zest. and a smidgen of vanilla in the crumbs too. I also used raspberries as well as blueberries and probably doubled the recipe amount. Ok, so maybe I did make a few changes lol. Imagine that. This cake take a 10 inch springform pan, which I know some don’t have, but it’s worth the investment. I got a 3 pack of pans, 8, 9, and 10 inch, at Wal-mart, for under 15 dollars. They come in handy for more than just cheesecakes.

This is fairly easy to toss together and smells fantastic when baking. Because…well…crumbs…and mascarpone. Need I say more?

You know the drill :-)

Blueberry/Raspberry Mascarpone Crumb Cake

  • Mascarpone filling-
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Crumb topping-
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and sliced thin
  • Cake-
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Boyajian Lemon Oil (or sub 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint raspberries
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a ten inch springform pan.
  2. Make your cheese filling and set it in the fridge while you make the rest- In a small bowl, beat together the filling ingredients until smooth and well combined.
  3. Make your crumbs- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add in the butter and vanilla and cut it in with a pastry blender. What I like to do is use a pastry blender to cut it in, then when it’s fairly well combined, use my fingers to mix it more. The heat from your fingers will help make some of the crumbs a bit chunkier, which is a nice textural contrast in the topping.
  4. For the cake, in a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add in the extracts and beat well.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, to the butter mixture, beating until smooth and fluffy looking. Start and end with the flour, i.e., flour, milk, flour.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan, then top with half of the berries. Top with the mascarpone filling, then the rest of the berries, Finally, sprinkle the top with the crumb topping.
  7. Bake at 350 for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top is light brown, the filling is set and the cake has started to slightly pull away form the edge of the pan.
  8. Cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan before removing the side for serving. Store leftovers in the fridge. This can be reheated gently in a slow oven or in the microwave for about 5 to 10 seconds per slice.

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Caramel Apple Pie Bread With Streusel Topping

Caramel Apple Pie Bread With Streusel Topping

Caramel Apple Pie Bread With Streusel Topping

 

I remember when I was a child… or maybe I’ll be poetic and say, “I be remembering when I was but a wee tyke”. No, that doesn’t work. I feel like I should be wearing a Leprechauns outfit and eating Lucky Charms. So… I remember when I was a child, back in the Stone Age. Every Autumn our school would start selling caramel apples, or “Affy Tapples” as they were named. Yes, that was the specific brand name. I think they are still available in the Midwestern area. I always loved when they came around. End of the school day, there people would be, small booth set up in the school lobby, selling Affy Tapples for 25 cents. I would wager that the kids today pay a dollar or more for theirs; damned inflation. But, I would go there, tarnished quarter grasped in my dirty little hands and then I got it…. that much loved apple. Is there anything better in Autumn than a caramel apple? You get that tart juicy apple dripping down your chin, a blanket of sweet chewy caramel that gets stuck in your teeth and then the crunchy peanuts. The perfect treat when it comes to a mix of flavors and textures.

I wanted to recreate that experience with this bread, with one exception. I don’t use nuts a whole lot, one, because I am not a huge fan, though I have my times when I like them and two, I just can’t eat them much anymore, what with aging teeth lol. So no nuts in this bread. You could easily add a half cup or so of your favorite nut (would have to be salted chopped peanuts to be authentic though) to the batter.

This is a really good quick bread that goes together fairly quickly. One tip though- don’t shred your apples until just before you get to the step of adding the flour to the batter or they may have time to turn brown. It doesn’t take long for an apple to oxidize at all.  Sweet, moist, great for dessert or a quick breakfast. Have some hot coffee waiting, or tea if you’re like me, and enjoy.

You know the drill…. :-)

Caramel Apple Pie Bread

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 2 teaspoons baking powder (Don’t mix this till just before you need it or you could end up with a volcanic science experiment hehe)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1 /2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded tart apple (I used Granny Smiths and just shredded them on a box grater, I also didn’t peel mine; feel free to peel yours if you want, but there’s really no reason to do so) (remember; shred just before using so they don’t turn brown)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup quartered Werthers Baking Caramels (takes about 20 caramels to get that amount)
  • Streusel-
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Make your streusel first and set it aside until ready for it- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the softened butter until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. In a medium bowl on low speed with a hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add in your sugars and beat well. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract. beat well.
  4. Add in the buttermilk/baking powder mixture. Mix well (darn, I’m using that phrase a lot)
  5. Dump in the flour, salt and spices. On low speed, mix just until combined.
  6. Gently fold in the caramels, the apples and the raisins. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Sprinkle the top of the bread with the streusel.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. A small bit of moist crumb is ok; liquidy is NOT.
  9. Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. Be aware, this one is touchy to unpan due to the streusel. Make sure you have it totally loosened before trying or most of the streusel is going to end up on your counter and not on the bread.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.