Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Black Bottom Cupcakes

October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday!

My how time flies! My baby is 21 years old!!

I made these cupcakes almost two months ago to celebrate my son’s birthday. His birthday fell on one of the last two bike race nights of the season. I wanted to make something that would be easy to transport and not too messy to eat since they would be eaten by people standing outside at the track. Mother nature had a lot to say about those plans and it turns out the races were canceled due to rain.

I had a Black Bottom cupcake recipe that I made for years but Anna at Cookie Madness had put a lot of effort into trying and perfecting different recipes so I wanted to make this one to compare. This recipe has a nice white cream cheese filling that stays that way even when baked. I like flavor of my old recipe better but this one is definitely comparable and wins in the looks department. Everyone who ate them seemed to love them.

I didn’t get pictures of the cupcakes by themselves, but they look pretty good on my son’s lap! You can find the recipe at Cookie Madness.

My son the baker!

July 20, 2009
A freshly baked loaf!

A freshly baked loaf!

My son isn’t really a baker. He’s really a college student working a summer job and living on his own for the very first time. His current living situation is temporary so he’s not set up to bake, and yet he managed to make bread.

Our kids were raised on fresh baked bread from our bread machine. We knew it would be tough for them when they went off to college and had eat to other bread. It wasn’t long after our daughter went to college before she ‘needed’ a bread machine, and our son was on his own for about two months before he dove in making his own bread. Prior to that he was getting a pretty steady supply of baked bread from home.

He called a little over a week ago and said he wanted to make his own bread. I helped as much as I could over the phone and referred him to the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Banter blog where I knew PJ Hamel had recently written about helping her son bake his first bread. Click here to read PJ’s post and to get the recipe that was used to make the bread.

Our son managed to make the bread without measuring cups, or measuring spoons, and he used an empty juice can to measure liquids. I think there was a lot of eyeballing and guesstimating going on, and he still ended up with wonderful bread. He also didn’t have a baking sheet, or parchment paper, so he baked it in an oven proof skillet. Where there is a will there is a way!

When we went to see him this past weekend, he asked us to call when we were about 30 minutes away so he could treat us to hot fresh bread out of the oven. It was a real treat and I couldn’t be any prouder!

The recipe is super simple and made enough dough to keep him and others supplied with bread all week long. If you’re timid about making bread this a good way to try it out.

Brownies for the Bikers

July 5, 2009
There are brownies at the end of this race!

There are brownies at the end of this race!

My daughter and her bike racing team recently got to race in our city! It was an exciting day for me because it was the first time I had seen her race. She invited her teammates over for a dip in the pool and a picnic in the gazebo after the race, which was an opportunity for me to make my go to brownies, and a big bowl of potato salad to contribute to their outing.

All that was left was the empty pan!

All that was left was the empty pan!

The thing with these brownies is that there are never any left for photo taking which is why I have yet to post them on my blog. They’re super easy to make and clearly loved by all. The recipe originally came to me on the back of a bag of King Arthur Flour. The things I like about them are that they use cocoa instead of melted chocolate. They’re always moist, and they have a shiny crackly top due to the method of incorporating the sugar. The recipe is posted on the King Arthur website where you can also see a photo taken before the brownies from their test kitchen were all consumed. I don’t think they’ll mind if I post the recipe below since they have printed the recipe in so many different places. But do visit their website for all kinds of wonderful recipes, and to shop for an outstanding selection of baking products and tools.

A 'pack' finish!

A 'pack' finish!

Back to the race. My daughter placed 5th in her division, which is a very big deal. She’s brand new to bike racing and this is the first time she’s finished with ‘the pack’. She was absolutely tickled. One of her teammates placed first in the same division, and another teammate placed second in the men’s division. All in all a very good day for the team!

A word on potato salad. Garrison Keillor recently wrote a column in which he mentioned the demise of potato salad in this country, and that if you’re taking potato salad to a gathering, learn how to make it yourself! I’m not the biggest potato salad fan on the globe, but even so I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Keillor. There are countless outstanding potato salads. There is no excuse for buying that horridly colored stuff, much less eating it. (Do they really sell potato salad at the convenience store!?)

My husband is a big fan of the classic Hellman’s recipe so that is what I usually make. I use the light mayo, the one with the bright blue lid, as opposed to the full fat with the navy blue lid. But, I must say it’s also worthwhile to find a potato salad that you like that uses new red potatoes and has a nice light oil based dressing. No doubt anyone reading this blog takes the time to make their own potato salad, and doesn’t touch the funky store bought stuff, but if you’re one of those who does buy it or eat it, try a homemade version. It’s easy to make, cheap, and the difference in taste is unbelievable. (To be truthful I can’t vouch for the taste difference. The funky looking stuff that can be purchased has never made it onto my plate, much less past my lips, but I think you can trust me on this issue.)

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July!

Best Ever Fudge Brownies from King Arthur Flour


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan
2) In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
3) While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.
4) Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.
5) Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.
6) Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9″ x 13″ pan.
7) Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.