Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 7: Pumpkin spice cupcakes and a Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I didn't celebrate with a costume or anything this year, but I have been watching Halloween-y movies this year. Friday night I was introduced me to John Carpenter's "The Thing," which is truly gross. Reminded me of high school, when one of me and my friends' favorite movies to watch was John Carpenter's "Vampires." Then Saturday night was "Young Frankenstein." 

"Werewolf." "There." "What?" "There, wolf. There, castle." Gosh I love that movie. My dad introduced it to me as a kid. Last night I watched "Space Jam." I think it counts as a Halloween movie because it's got aliens, right? I'm going with that. I don't know what I'll watch tonight, but these cupcakes would go perfectly with it, especially with their black cat sprinkles!

For my final Halloween dessert, I went to Martha, and she came through. I made pumpkin spice cupcakes with a pumpkin spice icing. The cupcakes were nice and moist, and although this isn't the exact recipe I used from her cupcake cookbook, it will probably do. I know the one I used didn't use melted butter. The frosting is her swiss meringue buttercream recipe with some pumpkin pie spices mixed in, and it was awesome. I believe the term that was used was "cloud in my mouth." And naturally, I had to make black cat-themed cupcakes just like last year, when I made some with black cat toppers. This year, I went with sprinkles.

Now, for my favorite costume picture. This was when my whole family went as the Wizard of Oz, obviously. I was originally going to be the Scarecrow, but once I saw the Dorothy costume, I had to be her. Our dog, Nellie, was the Cowardly Lion, as evidenced by her fur collar. And my dad's costume? Yes, he made that out of ductwork. It was way cool. And it's a very special picture for me for another reason: It was the last Halloween my parents were still together, so the last time we went out as a family. So that's kind of cool.

Now here's a quick roundup of the other Halloween treats I made for the holiday.

(Posting cupcakes in Hoosier Homemade's Cupcake Tuesday!)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween 6: Pumpkin spice cookies

Sometimes, I forget I have a cookie press. But it seems so perfect to use for the holidays, starting with Halloween. I mean, who can resist these pumpkin cookies? I made them once last year, but I like them a lot better in orange. Especially with these fall sprinkles. 

I just used a basic spritz cookie recipe that came with the press, which is pretty simple and makes a gazillion cookies. I added orange gel coloring and some pumpkin pie spice, which gave these nice undertones of fall flavors but didn't overwhelm. Plus, they're basically two-bite cookies, so a perfect size.

Today's costume is another dance one from my last year at All That Jazz. Obviously, we did the can can, and it was for troupe, our competitive dance team. This was a picture my mom forced me to take in the driveway.

This is us actually doing the dance, I think at our dance recital in May. This would have made a pretty sweet costume, though. I know I still have the skirt somewhere!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' challenge: Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Looks like a basic bread, right? I can honestly say I'd seen this stuff before but never knew its name. It's pronounced po-va-teet-sa, and the Internet tells me it's Croatian. Let's just go with the general Eastern European. Basically, it's bread dough rolled out with a walnut-cinnamon mixture spread out on top, rolled up and then wound around in a pan to get the snazzy pattern.

See snazzy pattern, Exhibit C. I have to admit, Aunt Betty did more of this than I did. I have yet to find a true love for bread, but she makes it all the time, and it's always perfect. I did help with the rolling though, so that counts, right? I was busy making some other treats I will show you later. But, with how good this filling was, I am definitely considering making it again, especially around the holidays. Christmas morning breakfast, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween 5: Spooky Rice Krispie treats

Sometimes, a Rice Krispie treat just hits the spot. I haven't made them in a long time, and it's not like they're hard, but I never think to make them. They seemed like the perfect easy Halloween treat, though. These are basic Rice Krispies with chocolate-covered sunflower seeds and chocolate chips mixed in. And obviously some orange.

Okay, once again, not Halloween. But still, I was a pretty resourceful cowgirl, what with my paper bag vest. Right? I wish I knew what year in school this was, but I really have no idea. Maybe I'll just do this for a costume this year. At least it would be cheap!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween 4: Candy corn cupcakes

First off, I missed an anniversary a few weeks ago. Two years ago on October 8, I wrote an entry about snickerdoodles (which, incidentally, are not even in my top five favorite cookies). Thus started Ingredients of a 20something, which has now been going for two years and has (including this one) 121 posts. So happy belated birthday to this blog, which sometimes saves me from going insane with boredom in the absence of school, challenges me to new things and lets me keep up my writing in a non-journalistic style.

I knew I wanted to make candy corn cupcakes as soon as I saw Halloween cupcakes popping up around the internet. They're simple: my favorite yellow cake with some Halloween sprinkles mixed into the batter (which made them kind of orange) and then Swiss meringue buttercream piped in three different colors on top. Simple, but so, so good.

And for today's costume, I cheat a little bit. This wasn't technically for Halloween, but rather for a dance routine. We danced to "Walk Like an Egyptian" for my jazz routine that year. Nice and sparkly! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween 3: Pumpkin chocolate tart

I'll admit it: I hate pumpkin. Or at least, I have for a long time. I think it has something to do with handing out slice after slice of it at our church's Thanksgiving dinner. That, and the texture grosses me out. So why I decided to make this chocolate pumpkin tart, I don't know.

Maybe because it's pretty. And had a Halloween-y spiderweb. And wasn't that much pumpkin related to the crust and chocolate. That last part was probably it. Plus, does Martha Stewart ever screw up with her recipes? Actually, this crust was really finicky and super sticky. So maybe every once in a while she does.

You know what doesn't screw up? A Disney princess Halloween costume. So a couple days ago you saw Jasmine from Aladdin and this one is Esmerelda from Hunchback of Notre Dame (here's what she looks like in the movie). What's funny is that movie has had very little staying power in the grand scheme of Disney movies, but at the time I obviously loved it. I remember even having an Esmerelda Barbie (oh yes, I was totally a Barbie girl). 

Despite my aversion to pumpkin, I actually enjoyed this tart. Maybe I'm getting over my hatred of it! That, or the recipe just used the right amount of it in relation to the rest. We'll see if I make any more pumpkin recipes! I better, I bought another can of it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween 2: Fall Brenna brownies

Back when I was on the Kansan, these babies were known as Brenna Brownies. They're a Martha Stewart recipe, a pretty easy one at that, and one with two kinds of chocolate baked in initially. What's fun about them (besides the fact that they're amazing) is that every time you make them, you can customize them. Like these, with the fall peanut M&Ms. And chocolate chips. And yumminess. So even though there aren't any distinctive fall flavors in them, I still count them as a Halloween dessert. After all, the colors are right!

And for today's Halloween costume of yesteryear, princess Jasmine in a particularly cold year, hence the turtleneck. We've established I'm a Disney fan, right? And if you couldn't guess, Mom was a witch.

Last, my blog turned two years old last week! But I'm busy making Halloween desserts. So more about that later.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Salt Lake City vacation

I just got back from vacation in Salt Lake City. Beautiful, no? One of my best friends, Keane, lives there, so I took some time off to go hang out.

See? Keane. (Disclaimer: lots of pictures in this post, both of yummy food and beautiful sites, like mountains and such.)

We had some awesome doughnuts at Beyond Glaze. We got: cherry limeade, peach cobbler, cookies and cream and chocolate peanut butter.

Went to two different places on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: Lone Star Taqueria, and...

Blue Plate Diner, which had the best breakfast ever. And an old fashioned soda fountain.

Raspberry soda.

We went to Park City, where we toured High West Distillery and tried some whiskey, and...

saw some Banksy.

We saw the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. It's very pretty lit up at night.

And walked around the Capitol.

We visited Hatch Family Chocolates, which was on TLC. 

We drove up to Ogden to Hill Air Force Base Museum, where my grandpa was stationed during WWII. It was incredible to see where he spent so much time. 

There was a display about the Doolittle Raiders there. That tall one? That's Jacob Manch, aka Shorty, one of my grandpa's friends. One time my grandpa picked him up in LA in a bomber in the '40s.

And then there were the mountains.

In the snow...

and when it was clear. It was still sort of fall up there, but the first snow of the winter came the same day I did.

We hiked up into them a bit on one of the nicer days.

And just wandered around admiring them. It's a lot different than Kansas, that's for sure.

It was a great trip and a much-needed break. Here's to vacation!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Halloween 1: Halloween Oreo cheesecakes, plus funk cupcakes and beignets

Sometimes, I just start itching for travel. Okay, not sometimes, often. I admit it, I'm a travel addict. I love going places to visit friends, sample food, just do whatever. In the last year, because I've transitioned jobs, I haven't traveled as much as I did during college. But I have been to Chicago and New York City in 2011 so far. But this week, I add another city, one I haven't been to since my sophomore year of high school: Salt Lake City. Apparently, there's a chance of snow in the area this week. It was like 87 here yesterday. But one of my best friends, Keane, lives there, so we're going to hang out for a few days. I can't wait! Plus, I know the area is beautiful, I bet especially right now when we're still in autumn.

My first journalism internship was at the Lawrence Journal-World, where I would end up working. I worked up on the features desk, writing stories like this one about all the animals in downtown Lawrence businesses and about the kids who grew up with Harry Potter. Later I would be hired full-time down in the news section, but I've always loved my features desk I started with. One of my editors from back then, Christy, left the JW a couple weeks ago, and Trevan, another editor who works with her, asked me to make her cupcakes. It seemed only natural to make funk cupcakes, which Christy had suggested once before. These are a little more wild and brightly colored than the last ones, but still the same concept: red velvet cupcakes (crushed velvet), rainbow frosting and some interesting wrappers. (Posting these funk cupcakes on Hoosier Homemade's Cupcake Tuesday.)

Something I wanted to try when I made my 2011 baking goals (which I've fallen miserably behind on) was beignets. I've never been to New Orleans, but that's supposedly the place to have the best beignets. They're basically doughnuts, only smothered in powdered sugar. What could be wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. I'm glad I made them with Aunt Betty, because they definitely take two people. You put them in the oil and flip them continuously (and they puff up!) for just a couple minutes before you take them out and douse them in sugar. They were amazing. Now I just need to go taste the real thing in NOLA.

I'm hoping to do a bunch of Halloween treats during the month of October. Here's my first: Halloween Oreo cheesecakes. I've made the cheesecakes before, and these are just made with Halloween Oreos. Definitely worth a try. Also, with each Halloween baked good, I've got a photo to post of a childhood costume that I found while visiting Mom last time. So here goes: 

Pirate girl. I remember a lot of those pieces making appearances later on in dress-up games. So happy Halloween month!
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