The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 44,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 10 Film Festivals
I do realize that it isn’t strawberry season anymore. So let me explain.
Evan LOVES strawberries. And when I spied them on sale at the end of the season I got just a little overzealous with my purchase. He happily raided the strawberry container in the refrigerator for about 4 days, and then some of the berries lost their luster. Bruises appeared here and there and my little guy lost all interest.
I felt sort of guilty about buying too much because I reeeeeeally hate waste.
And so… muffins.
But before I break down the superb nature of these crazy awesome complex carbohydrates… a few changes!
SugarDishMe.com is moving! Okay but not really. It will still be sugardishme.com. I’m just moving my web hosting around (I posted a little note on Facebook last week, so those of you that follow there already had a heads up) which is basically like one gigantic brain-melting headache. The new site is built and I honestly thought everything would be done about a week ago but it takes 7-10 days for the domain to move and then another few days for the name servers to propagate.
Hey! Look at that! That sounds like I know what I’m talking about! (I don’t.)
What I DO know is that I haven’t posted here thinking that I would just publish this post there, except the recipes are piling up and I haven’t talked to you all since SATURDAY. And I missed you.
Oh! Before I forget…Trailer Trashtastic is still alive and well and I actually found time to update it last week, so there’s that. Especially if you’re interested in mobile home living/decorating/solutions, or maybe you’d just like to laugh at my wallpaper? Anyway… I’ve got a few cool projects set to go up in the next week or so.
Okay, so strawberry muffins. This is what happens when I buy too much fruit. Or when I buy fruit that just totally disappoints me (yeah. I’m talking about you, GRAPEFRUIT.) . Blackberries I think would be pretty amazing here. Chopped apples would, too. If you were clever enough to freeze your summer bounty (or if you are in the habit of stocking up on frozen berries, you know, just in case) then use some of it here! Seriously.
These babies were my breakfast for three days straight. And my snack. And Evan’s snack.
It got down to paper, rock, scissors for the last muffin. I was paper. PAPER COVERS ROCK!!!
Buuuut I shared. Because Evan is really cute. And I thought that hoarding all the muffins from my nine year old might set a bad example.
Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup buttermilk (I used reduced fat)
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen strawberries
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or grease the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until its light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Mix in the lemon zest and buttermilk. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chopped strawberries and coat them with the eggy buttermilk mixture.
In another bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet and divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full (I got 18 muffins out of this recipe). Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top and a pick inserted into the center of the muffin crown comes out clean.
This weekend is for snacking. And loafing. Because the weather is garbage. It’s all rainy, but not cozy up with a book kind of rainy (I just looked evuuureeewhere for that clip from The Office where Phyllis rattles off all the rainy day cliches but NBC is holding it hostage). Today was an ugly, cloudy, it-looks-like-rain-but-it’s-really-only-going-to-storm-for-about-5-minutes, 9000% humidity, extra frizzy-haired, and the little boys won’t go outside kind of rainy day.
So I have decided to be a complete couchy potato, eat snacks, only cook things in the crock pot, and immerse myself in all the new fall TV that’s happening.
What are you watching? Looking forward to? Missing?
I am definitely missing Desperate Housewives. Sooooo sad.
But Bones is on again- looove Bones.
Caught up on Modern Family the other day- still hilarious. But I think the amount of time they devote to talking about Modern Family on GMA is a little bit creepy.
The Office is in its last season- the kids and I still like to watch this one together, but we miss Michael Scott. Parks & Recreation is entering into its 5th season, and Amy Poehler always takes the cake, though I haven’t jumped into that show just yet this fall.
So with all this lazy couch surfing and TV watching going on, I decided to make us some snacks. Cheese crackery snacks to be exact.
These cheese crackers taste almost EXACTLY like Cheez-Its, but without all the preservatives, of course. And because they’re orange I felt like the color was sort of appropriate for fall when all things pumpkin take center stage (Note: there is not any pumpkin in these crackers).
Speaking of pumpkin… I decided to give the Dunkin Donuts Iced Pumpkin Latte a whirl today. Except that I think the girl that works at our Dunkin Donuts must HATE coffee. Because in the three times I’ve visited the only location near us (which by the way is actually just a sad little drive-thru window stuck in the back of a gas station) and an ordered iced coffee, what I’ve actually been handed is a giant cup of sugar and milk poured over ice. The exception today was that my sugared milk was pumpkin flavored. AND I actually asked her to go easy on the sugar because my teeth still hurt from the last time I attempted a DD iced coffee (at least 3 months ago). Sorry, Dunkin Donuts. That was your last chance.
These cheese crackers are nothing like the DD sugar milk garbage. They WILL NOT dissappoint.
What are you watching this fall? What’s your TV snack of choice? Does your Dunkin Donuts suck as much as mine does?
Homemade Cheez-Its (from THIS recipe at Creative Noshing)
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces grated parmesan
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard ( I actually used a little spicy mustard from the fridge… worked just fine)
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I went with Texas Pete) OR 2 tablespoons water (if you don’t want spice)
Pre-heat the oven to 375. You can prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, but i found it unnecessary; didn’t even grease the cookie sheet.
Put all the ingredients in your food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs have formed. Add the hot sauce (or water) in a little at a time until dough forms.
Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn the dough out. Divide it in half (makes it a bit easier to work with) and roll the dough out. I left mine sort of thick (see photos) because I like it when homemade stuff looks sort of rustic. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the dough into squares, and then poke that signature “Cheez-It” hole in the center using a toothpick or skewer. Repeat the process with the second half of the dough. Line your crackers up on your prepared baking sheet; they won’t expand like cookies so there’s no need to leave gaps in between.
Bake for 10-12 minutes; they’ll be just a tad bit golden.
Eat ‘em warm or let them cool.
Sometimes I think that Chad might be from another planet.
And I’m not talking about that Men are from Mars crap.
I’m talking about normal cultural references… stuff I thought most people our age (most ages) knew. This all started a few weeks ago when we began toying with the idea of furniture shopping for a few things we need around the house. I’m a sucker for Rooms-To-Go and Ikea marketing; everything in one place at a discount!!! Plus I am really not good at decorate-ey fashiony sort of girl stuff, so wandering through places like that gives me some idea about what in the world I’m supposed to do. A Rooms-To-Go ad appeared in our mailbox and I flipped through it, commenting on things I may want to go see. I said something about liking these chairs but that they were probably sort of pricey because they have Cindy Crawford’s name on them. And then he said this:
“Who’s Cindy Crawford?”
So I’m like, “You know. CINDY CRAWFORD. Supermodel. Pepsi commercial. Very distinctive mole. Cindy Crawford!” And he still had no clue.
I busted out some Youtube and pulled up the Pepsi Commercial thinking he’d go, “Ohhhhhh. Cindy Crawford.” But no. Chad has no idea who Cindy Crawford is.
I guess maybe I should be thankful for that?
Saturday afternoon gave him some lazy time on the couch while I worked out some elaborate kitchen project (but for the life of me I have no idea what we ate on Saturday…?). He was scrolling through the Netflix library looking for something suitable to half watch/half sleep through, and then IT HAPPENED AGAIN.
Chad asked me, “What’s ‘Heathers‘?” Ummmmmm, are you kidding me?
First of all… my name is Heather. And though I bear absolutely ZERO resemblance to anyone in the movie, I’ve spent my whole life having people draw references to it when I say my name. PLUS I thought ‘Heathers’ was one of those movies that you everyone HAS to see. It’s like saying you’ve never seen The Breakfast Club.
So I told him that. AND THEN he said that he’d never seen The Breakfast Club.
I almost fell over from shock.
I’m pretty sure both of the kids have seen The Breakfast Club. Where has Chad been? Under a rock? And how do you find your way into adulthood in the year 2012 knowing who Conway Twitty is but not Molly Ringwald?
To be fair, he sort of saved himself a little bit when he said, “Oh, you mean the one with all the kids in detention and that one weird girl eats Cap’n Crunch on her sandwich?”
So I made these little two-bite homemade versions of Hostess cupcakes. Chad DID know what a Hostess cupcake is… I was worried there for a minute. These taste exactly like the real deal, except better because the filling doesn’t have that odd sugar-flavored-but-flavorless-vegetable-oily thing going on. AND I topped them with a chocolate ganache. AND this recipe makes about 48 little squishy two-bite chocolate dreams, which is waaaay more than you’ll get out of a box of those cupcakes. AND since they’re so small you can have two without the guilty compulsion to run 16 miles. Even Cindy Crawford might indulge.
Two-Bite Homemade Hostess Cupcakes (adapted from THIS recipe at Can You Stay for Dinner)
1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 325. Line a mini-muffin pan with paper liners and then lightly spray over the whole lined pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, pour the hot coffee over the chocolate, let it stand for about a minute, and then stir with a fork until smooth. Mine had lumps at the bottom and wasn’t so pretty at first; don’t worry. Set the chocolate aside and in a large bowl beat the egg until it’s frothy- about 30 seconds. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and oil. Then beat in the chocolate.
In another large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, unsweetened cocoa, and sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, making sure to scrape down the sides. Use a tablespoon to portion the batter into the prepared mini-muffin cups.
Bake for 10-12 minutes; a pick inserted into the center will come out clean, or with just a few sticky crumbs, The tops will be a little bit springy to the touch. Let the cupcakes cool completely.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat the butter for just a minute to smooth it out. Then beat in the confectioner’s sugar a cup at a time, mixing until smooth in between each addition. Follow the same procedure with the heavy cream, adding it a tablespoon at a time and beating until smooth in between each addition until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Then beat in the vanilla.
Using a tiny paring knife cut the middles out of your tiny cupcakes. The cupcakes will be really soft and this part won’t look perfect. It’s fine. Just use clean fingers to gently press and shape the opening in the top of the cupcake, but not too much. The frosting will fill it and there will be glaze to cover all this up.
Fit a pastry bag with a good tip for filling (I used a Wilton star tip 22 and put all the filling in one bag instead of dividing it because the star tip 22 worked for piping the curly-cues across the finished cupcakes, although it wasn’t totally “Hostess authentic”) and put about 3/4 of the filling in the bag. You can also use a ziploc bag with one corner lobbed off. Fill the tiny cakes with the vanilla buttercream just to the top (try not to go over the lip of the opening).
Chocolate Glaze (Chocolate Ganache)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
Put the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the heavy cream until it simmers. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate chips and let it stand for about a minute. Using a small whisk or a fork, whisk the chocolate and cream together until smooth. If the mixture is too liquidy for you just let it stand for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. It will thicken as it cools.
Spoon the chocolate glaze onto each cupcake, using the back of the spoon to smooth it out. Work as quickly as you can because the ganache doesn’t smooth as easily (or look as pretty) as it starts to cool.
After I spooned the chocolate glaze over my cupcakes I refrigerated them for a few minutes, to let the ganache set up. Then I used my pastry bag to pipe the little swirl across the top of each cake using the last 1/4 of the buttercream.
Mealtimes have felt EXTRA boring for about a week now… I’m in a rut. I mean, I think we all know I have breakfast down pat. Lunch is no problem… I just eat soup because no one else will and I LIKE IT. I have no problem at all feeling creative with desserts or snacks. Those things are always fun. It’s dinner that is reeeeeally gettin’ me down.
I’m bored with chicken.
I’m bored with the grill.
I’m bored with pasta. And rice. And potatoes.
All the vegetables at the grocery store looked super boring on Sunday morning, but I may have been temporarily blinded by the giant-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte that accompanied me around the produce section. Sidenote: there were NO BANANAS at the supermarket. Not even one. Is there a banana shortage that I am totally unaware of?
Even Pinterest has failed to provide me with inspiration. That’s bad, right?
So until I figure something out, I’m going to share something with you that is the opposite of boring: Creamy balsamic vinaigrette. And THIS (I just can’t stop looking at this… it never ever stops being funny).
Anyway… this dressing is completely awesome! I love it. It makes carrot sticks interesting. Broccoli likes to dance around in it. Mixed green salads wanna swim in this stuff. I might have soaked a bit of it up with a pinch or two of whole wheat bread. Annnd I may have drizzled a little over Chad’s sandwich at lunch to see if he’d notice. He did. It’s his new favorite thing. I’m thinking I’ll try it as a marinade as soon as I make friends with chicken again. It’s only a matter of time.
So I’m trying extra hard to drum up some creative dinner energy. And until I come up with a few new somethings, we’re gonna be eating this dressing on everything.
If you have any suggestions, I’m wide open!
Creamy Balsalmic Vinaigrette (from THIS recipe at My Life as a Mrs)
4 cloves garlic, very very finely chopped
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon spicy or dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil (extra light is recommended)
Whisk together all of the ingredients EXCEPT the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. When they are well-combined, whisk in the balsamic vinegar and then gradually whisk in the olive oil.