Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!


Check out this amazing bento and others here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

True Confessions #2: My Mixer


This is my mixer. I have been the proud owner of a Artisan 325-W KitchenAid Mixer in Crystal Blue for over 2 years. So why is it that the first time I used the flat beater was to make these cookies? Why have I been using the whisk attachment for virtually everything, except on the rare occasions I break out the dough hook to avoid hand kneading? Possibly because I forgot I even had the flat beater attachment. I think I never paid it much attention because I was used to the whisk-like spokes of the hand mixer I used growing up and didn't really understand how fabulous a flat beater could be. The whisk attachment worked fine, even for cookies and things, in the past but the flat beater is a revelation. Things don't get stuck in the spokes! I don't have to scrape the sides of the bowl down while mixing! It was faster!

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's that time of the year..


Get all the sugar skull molds and decorating tools you need here. Every year I tell myself am going to make these and I don't. Show me up and do it yourself!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

500 Cupcakes Review


Yesterday I received my long awaited copy of 500 Cupcakes (billed as "The Only Cupcake Compendium You'll Ever Need") from Amazon. Now, 500 cupcakes is a lot, and I figured a fair amount of them would be variations on each other (ie. base recipes with several variations) but what I didn't expect was that many of the "cupcakes" would be in fact, muffins.

This is not a "what makes a cupcake a cupcake and not a muffin" issue but there were actually a few chapters devoted to muffin recipes. Dozens of them. Which is well and good, I enjoy a good muffin but I was expecting a cupcake book.

Another bit of oddness was how many of the actual cupcake recipes were savory. To me, this makes several of them, in actuality, muffins. These were in addition to all of the actual muffin recipes.

There were also few icing recipes and many of the cupcakes were not supposed to be iced. Which raises the question: when a cupcake is a flavor like rhubarb and you are not icing it, is it a cupcake or a muffin?


Now, there were some good points, all of the recipes are fairly easy and contain few unusual or hard to find ingredients. There were also a few cupcake recipes for those with dietary concerns, for example, vegan or gluten free.

All in all, it is an affordable book ($10) with lots of ideas for cupcakes and muffins. Just don't buy it thinking you will end up with 500 different cupcake recipes.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hello Kitty Popcorn Popper



You all you know my fondess for cuteness. Imagine my joy at finding this pink Hello Kitty popcorn popper ($35). I already have a airpopper but if I didn't, you can be sure I'd snap this up. It makes 3 quarts of popcorn (perfect for 2) and it has a "a built-in butter well for quick melting". Doesn't popcorn with real butter beat microwaved any day?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Shape up Your Bake Sale


I was lucky enough to score one of the bake sale kits that Reynolds has put out. It is super cute and comes with a set of 3 fun shapes foil cups (heart, star, ghost), a bake sale tablecloth, dispoable camera, a calculator and a CD of bake sale tips. You can get it by writing to Reynolds as part of their Shape Up Your Bake Sale contest. You get the kit and information on entering a special photo contest to win a $500 donation to your cause.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Lady Baltimore Cake, Amy Sedaris, Martha Stewart and a New Look!



Did anyone else see Amy Sedaris on Martha today? They made a Lady Baltimore cake. I loved the fluffy icing! I need to make that! Amy Sedaris was funny but I don't think Martha knew quite what to say. You can catch a clip here.

also:
I changed things around a bit to brighten it up and to add a cute logo I made with a retro (royalty free!) picture I found online ages ago. Let me know if you notice anything missing!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Southern Food and Beverage Museum?

I was excited to hear about this on NPR:

Elizabeth Williams, director of the soon-to-be-opened Southern Food and Beverage
Museum
, has collected menus from restaurants, roadside stands and Sweet 16
parties from all across the South.
You can listen to the story here. I love that sort of thing. I wish I could start a Baltimore Food and Beverage Museum. A Mid-Atlantic Food and Beverage Museum? I do have a BA in history and a MA in education, could this be my calling?

Friday, October 20, 2006

I Like You, Amy Sedaris


As some of you may be aware, I love Amy Sedaris. We stalked, eh, watched her at a special premere of the Strangers with Candy movie (weeks before it came out!) in NYC and took paparazzi style photographs of her as she left the question and answer session. I bought her "pastry pouch" she handmade for Fred Flare the day it hit the site. So imagine my glee in finding out that she was writing a "hospitality" book with recipes and party tips! It is too fabulous and funny to express in mere words. Check out some of the featured recipes here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Whammy!

One of my favorite online stores for food related things is Whammy! Industries. They have a large assortment of food/recipe zines and they also sell tons of other food related things like Duct Cakes (cakes made out of Duct tape!), kitchen gear like recipe cards and accessories. All of the items are made by independant crafts people so when you buy, you are supporting small businesses and artists.






In the interest of full disclosure, Whammy! also sells my zines, but I have been a fan of a lot longer than that and my items are not on consignment.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cake Plate

I love this melamine cake plate from Fred Flare. It is retro and my favorite colors: pink and aqua. Plus it is only $10. It is a little on the small side (10 inches) but would be great for serving cupcakes or cookies to a small crowd.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Onion Goggles


Onion goggles. Yes, you read that correctly, onion goggles. Let me tell you, I was agog when I first saw that too. Goggles. For cutting onions. Goggles. Is crying a bit over onions worth $20 to eliminate it? Do people really cry so hard they cut themselves? I am beginning to see that there is a whole world out there with problems I never dreamed of. Problems that need high tech, padded solutions.

Of course, you could always freeze your onions before cutting them, but where's the fun in that? Where's the opportunity for accessorizing?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Allspice Crumb Muffins

This morning we made the Allspice Crumb Muffins (page 16) from the Baking From My Home to Yours book by Dorie Greenspan as part of the cookbook spotlight. Let me start off by saying that this is a very pretty book. Great photographs of most all recipes, loads of baking tips, guides to equipment, many sections and categories of baked goods to make. She also makes a point of telling you in each recipes what steps you can take before hand, if they freeze well, serving suggestions, etc. We spent a long time pouring over it trying to decide what make before settling on these muffins.

That said, I was a little disappointed in the muffins. They look beautiful but the taste, well, it just wasn't there. They are called allspice crumb muffins but the recipe only called for 1/2 teaspoon of allspice in the muffin and another 1/2 teaspoon in the crumb topping. My husband added a little bit more than that to the batter and you still couldn't taste it. The muffins had a great texture, light and fluffy, the streusel held up well in the oven (instead of melting away- a common streusel issue) and they were tasty but they were very bland. They tasted like a muffin that was missing an ingredient. Possibly allspice.

Flavor aside, the actual recipe was odd as well, it called for you to mix together the flour and brown sugar until there was no lumps. That was difficult due to the sticky, clumping nature of brown sugar. I wondered why she had us mix it with the dry ingredients rather than cream with the butter, which would have been both a bit easier and the traditional method of baking. It didn't seem to affect the taste at all, so I am not sure why she introduced this technique. Anyway, it was fine, just a little odd. What I didn't like was that while she was very wordy in her directions, she didn't mention things I felt were important, like how far to fill the muffin pan, or how much streusel to sprinkle on each muffin. We sprinkled a large amount of streusel on each muffin, and it looked great, but we ended up with a whole bowl leftover of crumbs. I hate having leftovers of that sort of thing, it's not like we are going to immediately make something else with same topping so it goes to waste. Not to mention the fact that it used a fair amount of butter-not the cheapest of ingredients. There was no way we could have added any more streusel without it all falling off and burning on the pan, so I think it was an error on her part, not ours. The pictures of the muffins in the books and what we made are virtually identical.

She also says that the taste is stronger and better when the muffins are at room temperature, we had them both slightly warm and at room temperature and they tasted the same. I find it a little irksome that she created a muffin that will deepen in flavor over time, because over time, it will also begin to stale.

I did like some things about the muffins. The recipe said it made 12 and we made 13, which is a reasonable amount of muffins and fairly accurate. I like how she pointed out that they freeze well and that you could make the streusel a few days ahead of time, something that might be a good idea if you are in a hurry in the mornings but still want homemade muffins or if you have guests and don’t want to spend all of your time cooking. I also think the recipe would be better if you quadrupled (at least) the amount of allspice, which I didn’t the first time because I was following the directions exactly.

My disappointment in the muffins will not discourage me from making other recipes in the book (although it is hard for me to follow recipes, I am so used to making things up as I go along) and I will report back here. I am hoping that this recipe is just a fluke and the rest are better-not just pretty on the outside, but tasty too.



If you click on the above picture, you will be taken to a larger image and will be able to read the recipe.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Gray Pumpkins



On Monday we went to Valley View Farms, a local garden shop to buy a tree for our front yard. They were also selling a ton of varieties of pumpkins and gourds. Some were down right bizarre looking, but my favorites were these Hungarian Gray Pumpkins. They looked like pumpkins in a black and white movie.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Coming soon...


Lucky me! Sara emailed me a while back wanting to know if I wanted to test some recipes from a cookbook and post the results. I agree and just got the book in the mail from the publisher today. It's Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. It's huge and I am having a hard time deciding what to make. Brownies? Cake? Scones? Bread? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Swap-o-Rama

I am hosting my first food related swap-
Swap-bot swap: Cupcakes, Cupcakes, Cupcakes!Sign up for the
Cupcake Swap!
I am hosting and the password is: cupcake!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

French Bull


I first found this line because the logo is a French bulldog. If we didn't already have a pug and a whippet, we'd probably have a Frenchie. That said, the stuff is totally cute even if dogs are only on the logo. Most of the line, including this platter, is made of melamine so it is very durable, dishwasher safe, high heat resistant and shatterproof. It is even pretty affordable: only $16 for the platter and $6.50 for a bowl.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Gilmore Girls zine

Today is Columbus Day and my husband and I are both off. He's outside planting a new tree and I am hard at work at the latest issue of the zine. This one is all food related to the show Gilmore Girls. I've included episode numbers and quotes from when they mention the food. Obsessive, but not as hard as you might thing, they are pretty food obsessed!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tra la la, la la la la



I love Andy Warhol. I am currently on a search for the perfect print of his famous pickle painting to hang on the wall of my lime green dining room. While on my search, I found these banana split dishes (only $11!) and had to post them. They are too cute and clever for their own good. I already have two Andy Warhol platters and don't even like banana splits (why mess up a sundae by adding something healthy?) but I am tempted. I also love the ice cream cone print plastic ice cream cones.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

C'est du cochon!


I love these towels I saw in the Chefs catalogue. At $19.99 for 2 I am not sure if I am going to get them, but I love the colors! Plus they remind me of the fact that I can still read French despite it being nearly 10 years since I took the class in high school.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Food Craft Cuteness



Look what I got in the mail today from the sweet Shirley of Warm Fuzzies. It's not a nibbled on Hershey bar, it's a bookmark! She made it from a Hershey bar wrapper and a thin piece of brown foam that she cut a "bite" out of and she even made the grooves to look like the rectangles of chocolate that make up a real Hershey bar. Amazing!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bento Mania


Bento mania seems to be taking over the internet (see Cooking Cute, the Mr. Bento flickr group). Bento boxes are a cute, compact way to carry your lunch. One of my favorite stores, Pearl River (I have been to the store in NYC and it is amazing, and most of the stuff is available online) has some colorful but fairly adult bento boxes for sale in various shapes and sizes. Pearl River also sells other kitchenwares at very affordable prices: bamboo steamers for under $8, fancy chopsticks for under $3, and bowls and dishes-some as cheap as $1. A great site for Asian cookware.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Two new issues of Coconut & Lime the zine






This issue focuses on turkey! Cooking times, recipes for leftovers (including turkey gumbo and chili), safe cooking tips, how to roast a 18 lb turkey in 2 ½ hours, turkey trivia and more! 10 original recipes are included.
Perfect for the holidays!


This is a mini issue of the larger Coconut & Lime zine. It features tips for cooking with coconut and four recipes, all using the ingredients coconut and lime: coconut and lime rice pudding, coconut key lime pie (with coconut crust) and coconut and lime macaroons.

Both available at my shop: Cupcake Supernova.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pumpkin Cake Pans



We were at Williams-Sonoma the other day and were totally charmed by these pumpkin pans. They are pricey (about $32) but they make cute pumpkin cupcakes or cakes that you can serve either in half or put together to form a round, 3-D shape. They have sweet leaf and stem details that would really pop with a simple glaze or confectioners' sugar sprinkled on top. The cupcake molds are in varied sizes so you can make a fat pumpkin, a tall pumpkin and something in the middle. I also like how they are Autumn themed rather than just Halloween so you could use them all season.