Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crescent Jalapeno Poppers

I made these for a football party and they were a hit! I loved the idea because regular jalapeño poppers with a whole pepper are too spicy for me. So I figured the crescent roll and the cheese would cut down on the spiciness. And I was right! They were the perfect degree of hotness for me (which is not a lot). So don't be scared to make these if you don't like spicy food! And they were super easy to make! 
Taste: SO good! Not too spicy but with all the flavor of jalapeño poppers.
Texture: The crescent roll was buttery and flaky and the ingredients on the inside were nice and soft.
Would I make this again?: Yes! They were delicious.

Crescent Jalapeño Poppers
Found: Pillsbury

4 jalapeño chiles (about 3 inches long)
1/3 cup Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs (from 5.2-oz container)
8 slices packaged precooked bacon (from 2.2-oz package), halved
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Heat oven to 375°F. Carefully remove stems from chiles; cut each in half lengthwise and again horizontally to make 4 pieces. Remove and discard seeds. Spoon about 1 teaspoon cheese into each chile quarter. Wrap half slice of bacon around each. On cutting board, unroll dough; separate dough into 8 triangles. From center of longest side to opposite point, cut each triangle in half, making 16 triangles. Place chile, cheese side down, on dough triangle. Fold 1 point of triangle over filling; fold 2 remaining points over first point. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I don't even like chocolate cake, and these might be one of the best cupcakes I've ever made! 

Taste: The cupcakes were super chocolate-y. The peanut butter frosting was SO good, and was the perfect compliment to the cupcake. 
Texture: These were by far the most moist cupcakes I've ever made! If I make chocolate cupcakes in the future, I will 100% be using this recipe again. 
Would I make this again?: YES! For anyone who loves this flavor combination! 

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes
Found: My Baking Addiction
YIELD: 24 Cupcakes

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
24 Reese’s Miniatures; frozen (this prevents them from disappearing into the batter)

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6-8 tablespoons heavy cream (if using milk, amount will be less)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and espresso water mixture. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined.

3. Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well. Press one frozen Reese’s Miniature into the center of each cupcake.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. There will be a small sink hole in the top of the cupcakes from the Reese’s Miniatures, that’s okay - you’ll cover that with frosting. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.

5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream butter and peanut butter on medium speed until fluffy. Turn your mixer down to low speed and slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar, and continue mixing until well blended.

2. Add vanilla and 4 tablespoons of heavy cream. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 1 to 4 tablespoons of heavy cream until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy

3. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and finish with chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vanilla Bean Whoopie Pies with Nutella Buttercream Filling

My sister has been dying for me to make these forever, so I finally did when I had to bake for a work conference. They were great!

Taste: The cookie/cake part could have used more vanilla, even though I added a vanilla bean and vanilla extract. And the filling could have tasted a little bit more like nutella. But it was a nice, light dessert.
Texture: The cookie/cakes were a little dry (probably because I under-baked the first batch then over-corrected.
Would I make this again?: I would probably make another flavor whoopie pies. Like these pumpkin ones which were AMAZING. 

Vanilla Bean Whoopie Pies
Found: Tracey's Culinary Adventures

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat until combined (your batter may look curdled - mine definitely did, but it came together when I added the flour).

Combine the milk, baking soda, and vinegar in a small measuring cup. With the mixer on low add half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk mixture and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat just until everything is combined. Add the seeds from the vanilla bean and beat for another minute, until everything is completely combined.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between cookies. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8-10 minutes, or until they are set and just beginning to brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the filling with the recipe below. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip with the Nutella buttercream. Once the cookies are cool, pair them by size. Pipe some of the buttercream on the flat side of one cookie in each pair. Sandwich the whoopie pies together, pressing to nudge the filling to the edges.

Nutella Buttercream
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and Nutella together until combined. Add the vanilla, milk and confectioners' sugar to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is just about incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is smooth.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

I made these for work and they were a HUGE hit. People seriously loved them!
Taste: very chocolate-y brownie base, and the top tasted exactly like cookie dough
Texture: really moist
Would I make this again: Yea, a bunch of people went out of their way to tell me they loved them! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
Found: Brown Eyed Baker
Yield: 32 brownies

For the Brownie:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Cookie Dough:
¾ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups mini chocolate chips

Prepare the Brownies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, with enough to hang over all four sides. Butter the foil. In a medium glass bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract, scraping the bowl as needed. Mix in the melted chocolate until combined. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and mix just until combined (don’t over-mix). Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Prepare the Cookie Dough: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to combine the butter and both sugars. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie dough over the cooled brownies. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about an hour. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter (works great!) to cut the brownies. Store the brownies in an airtight container at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Due to very popular demand, I knew I had to make these cupcakes the second I saw the recipe!
Taste: like pumpkin bread! The fresh whipped cream on top was really delicious too. 
Texture: Soft and moist
Would I make this again?: Yes, everyone loves them! 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
Found: Annie's Eats
Yield: about 2 dozen cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
½ cup coffee or espresso, for brushing

For the whipped cream:
2¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Stir together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans. While the cupcakes are still warm, brush them two or three times with the coffee or espresso, allowing the first coat to soak in before repeating. Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar gradually. Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat. Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Earthquake Game"

Everyone—especially SEC fans—are familiar with LSU’s infamous “Earthquake Game” vs. Auburn in Death Valley circa the late 1980s. 
Well, there is now a second game.
The seismograph readings from the VT Geophysics Observatory on Airport Road (for those of you familar with Blacksburg) actually measured an earthquake on three instances during the VT-Miami game on Sat. 
Take a look:


Tuesday, October 4, 2011


found: chibird


Another fun thing I've done recently is ZORBing. We went on a work trip to Knoxville, TN and rented a cabin the weekend before with coworkers. We stayed in Pigeon Forge, which is close to Gatlinburg, TN. This place is insane! It's like a state fair on crack. There is a ton of fun stuff to do: go-karts, mini-golf, shopping, amusement rides, etc.
So we did some research beforehand and KNEW we had to do this activity: ZORB. It's called "globe-riding" and basically you are in a big squishy plastic ball and you get pushed down a hill. It was SOOO much fun! The location in the Smokey Mountains is the only location in the US (It was started in New Zealand)! (Although apparently there are other companies that do the same thing). So you ride up the hill, they fill the ball up with hot water so it feels like a hot tub and send you down the hill. Then when you are getting out, you slip out the hole and it looks like you are being born. It was pretty hilarious!

Here is a video of our ride down:

So I figured I'd answer a few of the questions that I've gotten most about the experience:

- Did you puke? haha no! We did the option where you can have up to 3 people in one ball (if you are under the weight restriction). So we had 3 girls in 1 ball. There is water inside so you slip around on the bottom instead of flipping head over heels. There is also an option that you can only do by yourself and you are strapped into the ball. I think people might puke with this option because then you are flipping over the whole way down.

- Did you get kneed in the face? No! This was my biggest fear going into it. But since there is water inside, you all kind of move the same way. We were just sliding around on our backs.

- What did it feel like? Like we were sliding down a waterfall! It felt SO steep. But we were cracking up the ENTIRE time. It was SO MUCH FUN!

- Were you claustrophobic? Surprisingly, no! The ball is huge inside. Even with 3 girls, there was more than enough room. And they get you in and out pretty fast.
I would HIGHLY recommend doing this if you are in the Knoxville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg TN area! 


Hi bloggy friends. Sorry I haven't been posting. I don't really have a good reason, but I have been busy doing  a couple things that I'll catch you up on. Including going down to Blacksburg, VA (only the best little town in the whole world). I watched my Hokies play Clemson. We won't discuss the outcome, but it was a really fun weekend! 
Here is Lane Stadium in all it's glory. It was about 40 degrees and raining the entire time, but it was completely worth it. There is nothing like Gameday in Blacksburg.